"A Candlestick of Pure Gold: of Beaten Work" Exodus 25:31

"The Testimony of Jesus"
Revelation 1:9

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January -- February, 1968 Vol. 46, No. 1



As we send out this first issue of this little paper in this, its forty-sixth year, and break upon one more stage of the unknown future, I think that I could do nothing more helpful than to dwell upon the words of our motto for 1968:

"Ye have not passed this way heretofore" (Joshua 3:4).

"He knoweth the way" (Job 23:10).

"Certainly I will be with thee" (Exodus 3:12).

Isn't it strange how we gravitate toward the apprehensive aspect of a confrontation? Already I have found people who, having seen the motto, immediately exclaim: 'Hello, what is coming now? What are we going to have to meet in 1968?' Perhaps heavy difficulties in the past or present do create some predisposition to fear or apprehensiveness, but such a reaction to the motto is to do two unfortunate things. First, it is to detach the first part from the remainder, and so to get out of balance; and then it is to take the words away from their great context in the book of Joshua. Balance and confidence will be restored or established if we remember that it is equally a part of the truth that, in all the uncertainties of the future, "He knoweth the way." That is, what is quite hidden from us is already present to the knowledge and sight of the Lord. There is nothing that can take Him unawares, and be an emergency.

Then there is His categorical affirmation: "Certainly I will be with thee."

This should counter all fear. But when we have got our poise on these assurances, there is still the wonderful context. It is the context of a prospect, not a tragedy. The people had reached the point where they were about to enter upon all that for which the Lord had chosen, called, and prepared them. All His dealings with them were about to have their purpose realized. There may be battles, as surely there will be. There may be more lessons to learn, but there is going to be a mighty victory placed right under their feet at the very beginning. Jordan, 'overflowing its banks', is going to be deprived of all its power to overwhelm them. 'Death will be swallowed up in victory' before they proceed into the future! The Lord's intention for them [1/2] has already become His realization. "I have ," says the Lord. "You proceed on that ."

There is, however, an element of warning or counsel in the context of the words concerning the unknown way. The ark was going ahead, but they were to put two thousand cubits of space between it and themselves. They were to "come not nigh it, that they might know the way". We know the ark represented both the presence, nature, and purpose of the Lord. It is, in effect and fact, the Lord Himself in charge of everything; His sovereign government. There was a man later in the history of the ark who got too near to it and assumed the responsibility and control; he perished tragically and lost the way.

How we project ourselves by fear, anxiety, mistaken responsibility into what is God's government! We shall only lose our way and God's support if we -- in our heat -- take His-alone place. Sometimes our very subjectivity can involve us in confusion, when we should have our eyes on the One who has done all for us. We need to contemplate those two thousand cubits in the light of the letter to the Romans, and remember that -- without careless irresponsibility -- He has the initiative; the way and the end are with Him. "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end." That is really the message of the motto. Perhaps a ray of sunshine would be let in if we reversed the order of the words thus:

The Lord has said --

   "Certainly I will be with thee."

   'I know the way.'

   "Ye have not passed this way heretofore."


In our last issue we informed our readers of the passing to be with the Lord of our long-time fellow-worker and fellow in this ministry, our brother, Mr. C. J. B. Harrison.

We have now to report the Homecall of another of those who have been so valuable a help in the work. Many of our friends in many parts of the world have known our sister Lady Ogle. For over forty years she has been very closely bound up with this ministry and has been a "helper of many". Her prayer ministry has been such a great strength, and she will be one for whom we shall give thanks on all remembrance. She was called Home on Monday, 27th November, in the late evening. After a short illness and no suffering she opened her eyes, smiled, and was gone. May the Lord fill the gap made by this loss with others who will take up her ministry of prayer in -- at least -- as strong a way.


"So also it is written, The first man Adam became a living soul.
The last Adam became a life-giving spirit"
(1 Corinthians 15:45).

WE are brought to the consideration of the Lord Jesus in the redemptive plan of God, and we want to begin with Him in heaven, for everything in God's purpose now begins with Christ in heaven. It is important to recognize that. It may seem very simple, very elementary, and it may even be that you say: 'Surely it commenced with Christ coming into the world, with Christ on the Cross!' No! It does not! It commences with Christ in heaven, Christ in glory, Christ exalted to the right hand of the Majesty on high. Apart from that the earthly life of the Christ lacked the essential dynamic. Everything commences in God's new creation with Christ in heaven.

We notice this contrast: "The first man Adam ... a living soul. The last Adam ... a life-giving spirit." The first Adam produced after his kind, a race according to his own constitution, and in Adam by nature we are that, a living soul. Adam, if he had gone on the straight way in obedience, would have reached a point where he would have been changed in his constitution and nature from what the first Adam was as a living soul to what the last Adam is, but he did not go that straight way. Now God's thought is no longer with the first Adam, but with the last Adam, and in the last Adam God has already realized His original thought.

It is a tremendously important and valuable thing to recognize that the Lord Jesus in heaven now represents the fact that what was in God's thought originally, and that for which He created Adam probationally and potentially, is an accomplished and finished thing in the Person of the Lord Jesus, now. That He has got right through to the end of that and it is finished, it is completed; in the Lord Jesus God has a Man. And inasmuch as He is the "Firstborn among many brethren", and is the Head of the creation, all His race are in Him complete. We turn aside to the thought about the Body of Christ to get that made clear. Paul speaks of the Body as having many members, and all the [2/3] members, being many, are one Body; so also is the Christ. The article is there in the Greek. That is, the Christ is a Body of many members, with Christ as sovereign Head, so that "the last Adam" is a collective and inclusive title.

In Christ in heaven God has His Man completed according to His original thought, and in that Man, who is the racial Firstborn, He has His race as represented in perfection, completeness. When we come into Christ by faith we enter, so far as position is concerned, as full a perfection as ever we shall have, though we remain here for generations. In Christ we are as perfect as we ever shall be. What we are in ourselves will mean a process, but, so far as our position in Him is concerned, we are perfect in Christ.

What is this last Adam? He is different from the first Adam in that He is a life-giving Spirit, not merely a living soul. Following on the definition in this fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians we have:

"So also it is written ... that is not first which is spiritual, but that which is soulical; then that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is of heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such as they also that are heavenly."

The seed of Christ is essentially spiritual and heavenly; that is why everything begins in heaven. You can no longer know Christ after the flesh. You can only know Christ after the Spirit now. You can no longer take hold of Him in the flesh; you can only take hold of Him in the Spirit now. You can no longer have fellowship with Him on the earth as of this earth; you can only have fellowship with Him now in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus; the spiritual and the heavenly. And such are they of this new generation. In their very being they are spiritual and heavenly. No longer of this world, and no longer of this natural or soulical order. They are essentially spiritual.

Before we follow that further we want to note this other thing: that the second Man was also put on probation, as was the first. He was put on probation to be tried and tested on exactly the same question as was the first Adam, that of obedience; and to be brought to a certain point of maturity, as was Adam. The Lord Jesus was put under conditions of testing before heaven, and all heaven was interested in that testing. All heaven was interested in the testing of the first Adam, and all heaven was interested in the testing of the last Adam. After the first phase of the testing in the wilderness angels came and ministered. They had been watching! In the hour of the deepest of all the testings, in the garden of Gethsemane, an angel came and ministered. It was before heaven that this testing was going on!

The fact of the testing need not be tarried with longer. Two other things remain: the nature of the testing, and the object, or the issue, of the testing.

The nature of the testing was through three years of walk under temptation; temptation from without, and certainly not from within. Through those three years, what was taking place in His life was not atoning or vicarious, but He was being watched, observed, under the play of forces upon Him to see His reaction. He took the place of the sweet-savour offering during the three years, and His life was a sweet savour unto God. He was offering Himself to God through those three years, but not as an offering for sin, not an atoning offering. He was offering Himself to God as a sweet-savour offering for the good pleasure of God, for God's satisfaction, so that God could have a Man under continuous trial and testing before His eye, a Man who would not in any way develop a flaw, a blemish, a spot, a wrinkle, a stain or any such thing.

The other form of the testing, the probation, was in the passion when He was made sin, and, being made sin for us, He who knew no sin, God Himself had to withdraw, turn His face away, and deny Him. Then even under that strain He remained faithful and obedient. I have no doubt whatever that the cup which He was facing, and over which He had His supreme battle in the garden, was the cup of His Father's denial. For Him that had to be a part of the price, but in the presence of that cup He fought through to victory: "Not my will, but thine ...". Heaven was so concerned about that aspect of the battle that heaven came in to succour Him when He had got through in spirit. He was on probation, under test. The question was one of 'obedience unto death, yea, the death of the Cross'; and the death of the Cross, in its deepest meaning, was being forsaken of God. He was obedient.

The object and the issue of the testing was perfecting. He was perfect, but He was made perfect. He was perfect, and yet He was perfected. The Word distinctly tells us that He was "made perfect through suffering", and "though he was a Son, yet learned obedience by the things which he suffered". While there was no sin in Him, He had to move toward a position as representing man which He could only reach through being tested out as man. He reached the position that, while He was perfect, yet He was perfected. He reached a point of finality as Man which no man had ever reached before; and when He was perfected through suffering, God had got His Son as in eternal Godhead, but a [3/4] Man -- through trial and probation -- at the point where He intended the first Adam to come. When He had got a Man there He took Him away from this world and put Him in heaven. Why? Because conformity to the image of that Man was not going to be on the ground of flesh and blood, but it was going to be a spiritual thing. God was going to commence, not where He commenced with Christ, but where He ended with Christ. You and I begin where God has finished with Christ. That is one of the most blessed truths that it is possible for us to apprehend, if we could apprehend it. God does not start with us where He started with the first Adam. He commences with us where He finished with the last Adam. That is, God is working on the basis of having already a perfect humanity. He has put the last Adam in heaven, and there is the image, there is the model, there is the racial Man, in whom the race is already.

The second thing is that He sends forth the Holy Spirit from heaven. The New Testament phrase is: "The Holy Ghost sent down from heaven." Where is that? Where Christ is, where God's perfected Son is. Sent down from Him! What for? As the Spirit of all that Christ is in heaven. All that perfection that Christ is in heaven comes down in the Holy Spirit. We receive the Holy Spirit! What have we received? We have received into our inner being the Spirit of Christ in heaven.

The first phase of that is our new birth. What is our new birth? It is the life of God's last Adam. He is "a life-giving spirit". The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of the life-giving spiritual last Adam. The terms sound somewhat technical, but I am keeping closely to the Scripture. The Holy Spirit comes as Christ, as what Christ is, and gives life to those who believe on the Lord Jesus. We say that we pass from death unto life, that we receive the gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord, that is, we are born anew, we are born of Him. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." So we are born of Him, the last Adam, who is a life-giving spirit, and in the innermost reality of our being we are living spirit. That is what is born from above. It is from above, and therefore it is not earthly, but heavenly. The nature of the new birth is that we are life and spirit, and heavenly, inwardly a living spirit, made to live by the very life of the Lord Jesus, and because that is from above it is heavenly. So God has here in this earth something which does not belong to this earth at all, and which does not belong to the first Adam race, something which is utterly different from the first Adam, and altogether apart from the earth. God has here that which is of Christ, and that which is heavenly. The development of that, of course, is the whole history of spiritual growth, but that is where we begin, and that is the nature of the new birth.

We have got the perfected humanity of the Lord Jesus in infant form (if I may put it that way) at our new birth, and spiritual growth is simply the development of that in us. It is what the Apostle Paul speaks of as Christ being "fully formed" in us (Galatians 4:19 -- Gk.): "Until Christ be fully formed in you." Christ in what He is is introduced, as it were, as a babe at our new birth, and the course of spiritual experience is the formation of Christ in us unto fulness. While this relates to the Church in completion, it has a personal meaning.

God did not, because of Adam's failure and sin, wipe out that race, destroy it, put it out of existence and make another creation. God is doing a much more magnificent thing than that. In the midst of all that He is introducing something and building up something which is taking ascendency over that, and your spiritual experience, and mine, is simply the progressive ascendency of the last Adam over the first; of the spiritual over the soulical, the natural; the heavenly over the earthly. That is the course of our life. It is progressive conformity to the image of His Son. The Word says: "Be not conformed to this age, but be ye transformed by the making anew of your mind" (Romans 12:2). It is only another way of putting the same thing.

So, in the presence of the first Adam (which, mark you, in God's judicial act has been set aside but not annihilated -- set aside judicially and no longer recognized as standing before God, yet remaining), as we walk in obedience, the law upon which God counts for all the realization of His purpose is the last Adam triumphing over the first Adam, taking ascendency in us, having already taken full ascendency in heaven in the Person of the Lord Jesus.

All that means that we are learning Christ. The Apostle said: "Ye did not so learn Christ" (Ephesians 4:20). He used that phrase in a specific connection, but it can be used quite generally and applied in this way, that our business is to 'so learn Christ'. And it is an education which begins with A, B, C. It is an education which begins in infancy, and the wisest man after the first Adam does not know anything more about the last Adam than a little child just born into this world. The one who may be most confident and self-reliant in the first Adam has got to learn how to take a first step in the last Adam, and very often makes some tumbles in learning how to take even a first step. On that hangs all the doctrine of the Epistles: walking [4/5] after the Spirit. That is something new -- another kind of walk. We are not natural, but spiritual and therefore this is something altogether different, and nature (that is, our relationship and our inheritance from the first Adam) gives us no help here. You will look in vain to nature to help you walk after the Spirit. You may be the wisest after the first Adam, but that can give you nothing for the second Adam. You have come into a new realm where it is not natural knowledge but spiritual knowledge, and "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them ..." (1 Corinthians 2:14). What is true in walk and knowledge is true of every other thing that makes up life. Is food a part of life? Well, you are careful about your food. The natural man knows more or less what suits him and what he wants. Yes! We have to learn something new about spiritual food. You know that you need food for your new creation; you know you need spiritual food; and as you go on you know what spiritual food is, and you know what is not spiritual food that assumes to be spiritual food. You are discovering by a new spiritual -- shall I say? -- instinct, understanding, discernment, perception what is food and what is not food, spiritually.

What does all this amount to? The food, and the knowledge, the understanding, the strength, the walk, are not abstractions, and they are not things in themselves. THEY ARE CHRIST! He is the food; He is made unto us wisdom. The whole business of the life of the child of God is to learn how to live on Christ, how to make Christ their life at every point, for God has made Him to be all, and summed up everything in Him.

Let us focus on one thing: as to where Adam failed and where Christ triumphed. It was on the question of obedience. Adam did not reach God's appointed end because he failed in obedience. Christ did reach God's appointed end representatively, because of obedience. Now what is righteousness? Righteousness is the all-inclusive virtue. If you go through the Word of God you will find that everything is gathered up into that word "righteousness". Whatever may be the forms of sin, all of them are gathered into that -- righteousness or unrighteousness. Is it theft? It is unrighteousness! Is it idolatry? It is unrighteousness! Whatever it is, that is the word which expresses it. It is not so much the thing in itself, it is what it means of unrighteousness before God. Righteousness is "the foundation of his throne" (Psalm 97:2), which means that all His government is upon a basis of righteousness. All God's governmental activities are upon a basis of righteousness. All is summed up into one question of righteousness and unrighteousness. The ultimate issue for man's judgment or man's salvation is the issue of righteousness.

Come to the Roman letter, and you see quite well that "justification" is only another word for righteousness -- being made righteous before God. The whole argument there is: "There is none righteous, no, not one" (Romans 3:10), and then, out of that, comes all that is said about justification. Justification is simply to find that righteousness, to produce that righteousness, to bring to a position of righteousness.

What is unrighteousness? Disobedience! What is righteousness? Obedience! How did Christ provide God with the righteousness that He demanded? By His obedience, His utter obedience. How did Adam bring this race under condemnation, that is, take it off the basis of righteousness, and, therefore, of acceptance with God? By disobedience! So that the obedience of Christ provides righteousness. "Christ Jesus, who was made unto us ... righteousness" (1 Corinthians 1:30). How? Because of His perfect obedience.

That obedience of the Lord Jesus was as Man for man. It was representative obedience. His being in heaven means that there is the virtue of a perfected obedience in Him, satisfying God for you and for me, and we stand upon a basis of righteousness because of the perfect obedience of the Lord Jesus. Then we are brought by the obedience of one Man (that is Romans 5) into the presence of God in the Person of the Lord Jesus, to stand without judgment and without any fear of judgment. No condemnation in Him, the inclusive, representative, racial Man. We come into acceptance with God because of His obedience, but, having been put in acceptance with God, our business is to walk in the obedience into which we have been planted. How can we walk in obedience? How are you and I going to keep on in obedience? The natural man cannot do it! The Adam man has proved helpless in this. How are we going to do it? The Spirit of the obedient One is in us, to be the strength of His obedience to us. 'Lord, I cannot of myself be obedient, but You, as having already triumphed in this matter of obedience, are in me; I live on Your strength in this matter.' That is living by Christ, and that is walking in obedience by reason of the Holy Spirit energizing. "It is God which worketh" -- energizeth is the word -- "in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).

(To be continued) [5/6]


The second message by Mr. DeVern Fromke at the Conference in Switzerland

"Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity: therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent is not changed" (Jeremiah 48:11).

I WANT this morning that we should see the wrong tendency to be at ease, but the right way to be at rest. We will, from a bird's-eye view of the history of Israel, and continuing from what we were saying yesterday, see how she was always wanting to be delivered from, but was hardly ready to be moved unto the purpose of God.

We will begin by seeing Israel after her four hundred years of captivity in Egypt. God heard her cry when she began to be tired of the taskmasters of Egypt, and He delivered her out of Egypt and across the Red Sea. He brought her out from her bondage, or captivity, but, having been brought out, she then had the privilege of choosing: Would she give herself unto the purpose of God?

I think we shall see how even today there are so many who in their bondage cry out to the Lord for deliverance, but are unwilling to go on unto the full purpose that He has for them.

Israel was content to stop half-way instead of moving on unto the full purpose of God, but God seems to say: 'If ye will not go on unto , I have another captivity for you.' And so they wandered forty years round and round the wilderness instead of moving into the land of Canaan. They did not want the glorious captivity in the Lord, so there was imposed upon them a schoolroom captivity. Thus this whole generation died in the wilderness, except for two men, Joshua and Caleb, but God, in His mercy, heard the new generation and delivered them out of the wilderness-wandering into the land of Canaan. He delivers them out from the captivity of the wilderness, and now He waits for them to move unto a full possessing of the land of Canaan -- but you know the story so well. While they possessed and conquered some of Canaan, pretty soon they settled down just to enjoy it for themselves. They were not primarily God-conscious, purpose-conscious, or fulfilment-conscious, but only deliverance-conscious.

So once again there is a captivity imposed upon them: the captivity of the nations of Canaan. God had said to them: "Make no league with the inhabitants of this land" (Judges 2:2), but they did not obey Him. They were fearful of the people of Canaan, and so became captive to them.

What does all this teach us? When we are first saved we are delivered out of the world. It is so wonderful to have a release from our old habits and our old way of life, but there are so many young believers who do not realize that God wants to teach them how to live by His life. They must learn how to live by the bread from heaven and the water that He supplies, but they still have an appetite for the things of Egypt, and there are those who murmur and complain for the onions, the leeks, the garlic! You would think that they would enjoy the manna from heaven, but God has to apply the tree to change our appetites. He says: 'If you will not move unto and live by My life, you will know the captivity of the fleshly life.'

And then there are those who do move into Canaan, as it were, but somehow they make entanglements with the men around them; and we read of the darkest hour in Israel's history during the period of the Judges. They cried out to the Lord, and with each new judge that He raised up there was a bit of revival, but I believe that this would teach us that mere reviving is not the real answer. God must awaken His people to be alive to His larger purpose, not merely awakenings and revivings for themselves.

In due time the people of Israel cry out, and God gives them the prophet Samuel. Then, after a short period of King Saul, King David unifies the people into a nation. Finally King Solomon builds the House of Prayer for all nations, and it seems that for the first time God is maybe getting something out of His people Israel. And yet, once again, they begin to settle down merely to using all the good things for themselves. They had been in the land four hundred and ninety years, and this represents seventy sabbaths, when the land was to rest, and so the Lord tells them that they will be carried into Babylonian captivity for seventy years. He would take them away and enforce a sabbath rest for every sabbath year that they had failed to let the land be idle. Let us go back and see once again what this means.

Taken first out of the world, then delivered from the fleshly life of wrong appetites, then set free from the entanglements and the fears of men, this is the people that should have a ministry unto God and unto the world around, but they began to enjoy [6/7] God's blessing and the temple just for themselves instead of letting them be a means for the blessing of the world. My gift, in my ministry, must never be merely for my blessing, but for the blessing of others.

And so we see the northern armies of Syria coming in and taking Israel into the Babylonian captivity. I wonder if now we have a fuller appreciation of Psalm 137? I see so many of the Lord's people in this kind of captivity. Instead of joy there is defeat, and the only testimony they have is: 'We remember a better day!' But hear me! We today should know the joy and the overflow of the life from within. Let us read about these people in Psalm 137:

"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof."

Now notice how the people round about are turning to them and saying: 'Why do you not sing us one of your blessed songs of Zion? We remember that you are the songbirds.' I notice in my country how many people of the world like to slip in and hear the Christians sing!

"For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion."

All the people around us are looking for something of reality in us. If not in words, at least in some way they are saying: 'Lift us with one of your songs of Zion', but all these people can say is:

"How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?"

I know I am in a strange land here, but I have a song, for this is a different kind of strange land -- I am here with my brothers and sisters! But I wonder if we catch the real significance here: these are the people who had a ministry, but they lost the ministry they had. You see, the very issue is this: We are called all along the way to give, to be poured out. 'Death worketh in us', and this brings life unto others.

And so we see that there are three different planes. Up above there is a glorious captivity in the Lord. If we do not want that, then the Lord says: 'Well, I have another one for you', but there are so many of the Lord's people who want to stop half-way. They do not want to be a love-captive, nor to be a bondage-captive, but they just want to be free. But I must remind you that this half-way plane is only a passing-zone; it is not a stopping-place. You think you can stop here, but God says: 'I enrol you in My school-room'. Israel turned the wilderness into a schoolroom, and the captivity of the nations into another schoolroom. Even the Babylonian captivity was turned into a schoolroom.

So we read that in due time, after seventy years of captivity in Babylon, the Lord stirred the spirit of Cyrus, King of Persia, and the people go back to their land. They rebuild the temple, restore the wall -- and settle down to enjoy it all for themselves again! Well, we have another Psalm -- 126 -- which tells us about the turning of their captivity:

"When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them."

Do you know who it is that knows when you are set free? The neighbours begin to say: 'Something has happened to brother ...!' Even your wife says: 'He has a song again!' You see, the heathen had a sense of what Israel ought to be. They may be glad that you are in captivity, but they know inwardly what is right, and so they say: "The Lord hath done great things for them." And then the Israelites reply:

"Yes, the Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad."

Now, God wants to turn one captivity to another, for we are not made to be free in ourselves. Many years ago Dr. Matheson wrote these words:

"Make me a captive, Lord,

   And then I shall be free!"

And so we read in the next verse:

"Turn again our captivity, O Lord, as the streams in the south."

He who expects to have a real, poured-out ministry must know the broken 'streams of the south'. In our country we say that the South is way down deep, and the North is up, so it is way down deep within that the 'streams of the south' must be broken up.

"They that sow in tears shall reap in joy."

Let me illustrate that. Many years ago, when my grandfather came from Sweden to America, he homesteaded out in the bleak prairies of the Dakotas. One spring they had so little food for the family that when it came time to plant the potatoes in the ground, my grandfather said he felt that each potato he put in was being taken out of the mouths of the little children. It was almost like weeping and watering each one, but that was the only way to have a joyous harvest. Beloved, there is no easy way to bring life to others. "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy." [7/8]

"He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him."

That may perhaps be true of our ministry, but look at my lovely Lord who comes with all of His sheaves!

So it is hard to say how much Israel did move unto the full purpose of God. The temple was built, and the nations round about looked upon the glory of Israel. You remember that the Queen of Sheba had heard about the glory of a people who had sanctified the Lord God in their midst, and when she came and beheld it all she said: 'Oh! The half has not been told!' Israel had her wonderful ministry of representing, of being a testimony to what a people could be who are living unto God, and I have often wondered what she could have moved unto if the kings who followed had continued wholly in the way of the Lord. But we remember how, after Solomon, the kingdom was divided under Jeroboam and Rehoboam, and, weakened from within, Israel was overcome by the Babylonians. The enemy's way is always to weaken us first from within, and where there is no real life within we are subject to all the diseases from outside.

Israel comes back from the Babylonian Captivity, rebuilds and restores, and in due time the Lord Jesus comes to offer Himself to them as their King; but they could not recognize the One they had cried for for so long. However orthodox they were in their interpretations, they did not have the spiritual eye to see, and so we find them today dispersed throughout the world. But we have a promise in Deuteronomy 30:3: "Then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee." This does not mean that they will merely be brought back from captivity, but they will be turned again to another captivity -- the one up above.

There is the background. Do you not see that the tendency of man is to get delivered from, and then to settle down at ease? People who move from one experience to another experience, or from one lovely doctrine to another doctrine, are so prone to settle down at ease. Do you not see that if Israel had moved up to the upper plane God could have taken them on into all that they needed to see? Jesus had said: "I am the Life; I am the Way; and I am the Truth." I do not know how to explain what I see of entering into this captivity by which He becomes my life, my whole way and the very reality of everything, but are you not glad that God is very sovereign? He gets His way in spite of us.

Is there someone here who wonders why their spiritual life has come to a stalemate? Even when you read God's Word it does not seem to speak to you as it once did, and in praying God seems so very far away. If God would bring you out from some captivity, would you say with your whole heart: 'Lord, I choose to see and move unto your fullest purpose'? I believe I have learned by sad experience that, while the lower plane seems to be the easier way, the upper plane is the way. I believe I can see that in my earlier life there was such a period of wilderness-wandering when God was changing the appetites, and then a period when I was so prone to be yoked with men for rest and security, and I got all mixed up in the denominations. You forgive me -- but there are many kinds of nations with which we become entangled! But God's highway is the way of identification with Him.

In closing, listen again to what God says in Jeremiah 48:11: "Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees." So many of God's children wonder why God takes them through the crucibles of life, but with all the Moabites they live on at ease. If you are a Moabite, all right, but if you are one of God's own, He stirs you up to keep you from settling down at ease. Oh, how many times I have groaned in being poured from vessel to vessel! It seems that God says to Moab that he has not gone into captivity, but he is not really free. There is a much worse captivity! There are people who say they are captives of the Lord, but when I live close to them, I see that their tastes have not been changed. You see, if we are captive to the Lord we smell of His fragrance, but if we are in this imposed captivity, we smell of the flesh, we have the odour of entanglements, and we are those who are defeated, without a real ministry unto the Lord.

Finally, we are either deliverance-centred (or salvation-centred), or we become purpose-conscious. DeV. F.



The acknowledgement of gifts received during October and November 1967, is being held over until the next issue, due to lack of space. These gifts, apart from those sent anonymously, have all been acknowledged to the individual donors and we are grateful to them and to the Lord for this faithful ministry. [8/9]




"Verily I say unto you, There be some of them that stand here, which shall in no wise taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom" (Matthew 16:28).

"To whom he also shewed himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing unto them by the space of forty days, and speaking the things concerning the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3).

"But when they believed Philip preaching good tidings concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women" (Acts 8:12).

"And he entered into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, reasoning and persuading as to the things concerning the kingdom of God" (Acts 19:8).

"And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, shall see my face no more" (Acts 20:25).

"And when they had appointed him a day, they came to him into his lodging in great number; to whom he expounded the matter, testifying the kingdom of God, and persuading them concerning Jesus, both from the law of Moses and from the prophets, from morning till evening. And some believed the things which were spoken, and some disbelieved" (Acts 28:23-24).

"Then cometh the end, when he shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have abolished all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all his enemies under his feet" (1 Corinthians 15:23-24).

"After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come ... And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen" (Matthew 6:9, 10, 13).

I DO not know what version of the Bible you have in your hand, but if you have a modern translation you will find that the second half of Matthew 6:13 is not there. However, the people who made this version from which I am reading put a footnote, which says: "Many authorities, some ancient, add For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. " Now, I am not going to have any argument with the authorities, but I believe we have very good reason for retaining the second half of that verse, and I think that the ministry that the Lord has given me for this week is based upon that questioned half-verse. I am going to speak about something in the Bible that some men say is not in the Bible: "Thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever."


Before we can go on any further we must state why we believe that that half-verse ought to be there. The whole Bible, especially the New Testament, is built upon those three words: "Thine is the Kingdom" stands over the whole Bible; "and the power" stands over the whole Bible; "and the glory " -- all the Bible is gathered into that. The New Testament is especially true to those three words, so that half-verse which is questioned is justified by the whole Bible.

We read that wonderful word in 1 Corinthians 15:23, which looks right on to the end of the Bible. It says: "Then cometh the end, when he (the Son) shall deliver up the kingdom to the Father." The Kingdom belongs to the Father, and Jesus included Himself in that prayer: "Our Father, which art in heaven ... Thy Kingdom come." In the end the Son will deliver up the Kingdom to the Father: when He has done the work of the Kingdom He will hand it to its right owner. You will notice that this is very comprehensive: "Then cometh the end ... when he shall have abolished all rule and all authority and power." Those are three very rich words: all rule, all authority , and all power. You cannot get outside of that! That comprehends every form of opposition to the will of God, and it says that all that opposition will at last be subjected and subdued. In a minute we are going to ask the question: 'What is the Kingdom?', but here we begin with this very comprehensive thing: "Our Father, which art in heaven ... Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth ... For thine is the kingdom." The Kingdom is that which is above all other rule and authority and power that is against the will of God. 1 Corinthians 15:23 says: "Then cometh the end." The end of what? Everything that is opposed to the will of God. That little word: "Thy will" is a tremendous word! It reaches out to the uttermost bounds of everything opposed to the will of God. [9/10]

Now the Lord Jesus knew what He was talking about. I expect you have used those words many, many times, for they are called 'The Lord's Prayer'. Whether that is the right title or not we will not discuss, but it came out of a vast spiritual knowledge; and this is one of the things, dear friends, that we must recognize in order to get an enlarged spiritual understanding: that in every small fragment that came through the lips of the Lord Jesus there was a whole universe of meaning. When we use these words: "'Thy will be done", how little we understand of what we are saying!


Let us see something of the range of that one fragment -- "Thy will be done".

From before the foundation of this world, and all through the ages, there has been an immense cosmic conflict, and that conflict always had one issue: 'Who shall have the kingdom of this universe?' There was the One to whom the kingdom belonged, and it belonged to Him for ever and ever; and then there was the other one who aspired to have possession of that kingdom, and whose ambition was to be the "god", the "prince" of this world. And so, at some point, this great conflict commenced, this great cosmic conflict for the control of this universe. Once again we go back to 1 Corinthians 15: 'He must reign till He has put down all rule, and authority, and power' -- and that is what is going on now, and we are involved in that conflict. That will explain a very great deal!

We have a kind of microcosm of this whole conflict. In our arrangement of the Bible it is contained in twenty-eight chapters. It is only a little pamphlet, called "The Book of the Acts of the Apostles", but the Apostles never gave it that name! I would like to know what they would have called it. I know what I would call it, but that title is far too big and far too difficult: "A Microcosm of the Conflict of all the Ages." We think that the Book of the Acts is just a history of apostolic times. Well, it is that, but oh! it is the story of the conflict of the ages. In this little book heaven and hell are in deadly conflict, and the conflict concerns the kingdom. It is very impressive that this book begins with the kingdom and ends with the kingdom. It begins by saying that Jesus, after He was risen, appeared Unto His disciples "by the space of forty days, and speaking the things concerning the kingdom of God" (1:3), and in chapter 28:31, the end of the book, the Jews were crowding into the little apartment of the Apostle Paul and he was "preaching the kingdom of God". These three words stand wonderfully over this little book! The Apostles and all the workers in that book were fighting the battle of the kingdom. They never arrived at any place in the world that then was but that this battle commenced. They went everywhere 'preaching the kingdom of God', and their arrival in every place was always anticipated by the rival to the kingdom of God. They were working out this little fragment: "Thine is the kingdom." It was not just a little bit of ritual, or a formal prayer: it was the battleground of the universe.

Now where in the New Testament did this real battle begin? It really began almost immediately after the Lord Jesus had said to His disciples: "There be some of them that stand here, which shall in no wise taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom," though perhaps I ought to say that it entered upon a more intensive phase from that time. There ought to be no chapter division between Matthew 16 and 17, for after that verse it goes immediate]y on to say: " And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart: and he was transfigured before them." Now there are those people and teachers who think that the Transfiguration was the fulfilment of those words: "the Son of man coming in his kingdom", but that is only half the truth. What was the meaning of the Transfiguration? The Gospel by Matthew, as you know, is the Gospel of the Kingdom, and the Transfiguration was the manifestation of the King in His glory. You must have a king before you have a kingdom, so in the Transfiguration you have a foreshadowing of the King in glory. The Kingdom is vested in the King. They came down from the mountain -- and what would you expect to happen? Well, you would expect that those men would go out into the world and say: 'We have seen the King in His glory', but Jesus said emphatically: "Tell the vision to no man until ...". Until when? "Until the Son of man be risen from the dead."

Now link together two little words. "Tell the vision to no man until ...". Then He said: "Tarry ye in the city (Jerusalem) until ye be clothed with power from on high" (Luke 24:49), and until 'ye receive the promise of the Father' (Acts 1:4). That little word 'until' links two things together. "Until the Son of man be risen" -- that involves the Cross. 'Until ye receive the promise of the Father' -- that involves Pentecost. The Cross and Pentecost introduce the Kingdom. Before the Cross it was: 'Tell no man!' After the Cross and Pentecost they went everywhere preaching the kingdom. [10/11]

We are answering the question: 'What is the Kingdom?' I hope I am not tiring you. I am only laying a foundation, and in a few minutes I will be saying something which I think will be helpful, but we must be clear as to what the Kingdom is.

First of all, the Kingdom is not a realm, but the personal rule of a Person. It is the dominion of a Person, that which belongs to that Person. You see, you must be very clear about that, because the whole conflict centres in the question of to whom the Kingdom belongs. The Kingdom is the sovereign government of God over all. It is the will of God deciding everything eventually. Only in a secondary way is the Kingdom a sphere, or a realm, and it is the realm in which God's will is absolutely sovereign: "Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth." God is absolutely sovereign in heaven, and there no one ever challenges His will. Angels and archangels bow in adoration and submission to the will of God in heaven, and if the Kingdom becomes a realm, it is only the realm in which it is like that.

You will be able to tell from that whether you are in the Kingdom. It is so easy to talk about the Kingdom, and to say "Thy kingdom come", and "Thine is the kingdom", but the fiercest battle that ever raged in the history of this world rages over that Kingdom.


Perhaps some of you are not quite sure of the difference between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of heaven. I have often been asked that question. Well, I think the answer is quite simple. If you look in the Gospel by Matthew, and remember that that Gospel was written for Hebrews, the phrase is usually "The kingdom of heaven", but if you look where it was written in Greek you will find that it is "The kingdom of God". This is not always so, because there were always some Hebrews even amongst the Greeks, but it's a general distinction. To the Jews it was the Kingdom of heaven. Well, the Jews understood heaven, and the Greeks did not, but they quite understood deities. They had 'gods many', and 'god' was a kind of comprehensive term for them. So "The Kingdom of heaven" was all right for Jews, for they understood, and the Greeks understood "The Kingdom of God".

Well, that is only a technicality, and it has not helped you very much, but it is part of the answer, at least, to what is the difference between the Kingdom of heaven and the Kingdom of God.


Let us try to come to a close with something quite helpful. What have we been saying? The dominion belongs to God: "Thine is the kingdom." The securing of that Kingdom for the Father was committed to the Son, so that the Lord Jesus has the Kingdom of God vested in Himself, and as He moved from His Cross He said: "All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth" (Matthew 28:18). So after the Cross, in the Book of the Acts, the Kingdom is in the hands of the enthroned King, Jesus Christ.

Now your problem arises, and here is something that is going to test every one of you. It has been my problem many times. If Jesus is on the throne of the Kingdom, and all authority is committed unto Him, what about things like this?

"Are they ministers of Christ? ... I more: in labours more abundantly, in stripes above measure, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day have I been in the deep: in journeyings often, in perils of rivers, in perils of robbers, in perils from my countrymen, in perils from the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren: in labour and travail, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, there is that which presseth upon me daily, anxiety for all the churches" (2 Corinthians 11:23-28).

And Jesus is on the throne! I venture to say that if you were in any one of those things you would ask the question: Is Jesus really on the throne? If all authority is in the hands of Jesus, why all this? And this is not the only list of Paul's troubles! Now, Paul, are you quite sure that the Kingdom belongs to Jesus? When something goes wrong, some tragedy enters into our life, when some great sorrow overtakes us, is not our first temptation to ask the question: Is the Lord really Lord? Please, Paul, answer my question! And Paul will answer by saying: 'This is all the battle of the Kingdom. Oh, no, things have not gone wrong. They are all going right, for this all says that the devil does not like what we are doing. If you will only wait until the end, you will see.' And it was this Paul who wrote: "Then cometh the end ... when he shall have abolished all rule and all authority and power." You see, we just look at the things of the present, but Paul looked through the present to the end.

Well, were all these sufferings for nothing? Was [11/12] Satan lord after all? What are we doing here tonight? Millions and millions have come this way and owe their debt to the Lord through this Apostle Paul. I can see a picture: a great multitude which no man can number, out of every nation and tribe and tongue, and the Lord Jesus standing with His arm around His Apostle Paul and saying: 'Look, Paul, do you see this great multitude? Do you remember that night when you were shipwrecked, and that day when they beat you with rods? Paul, this is all the fruit of that. The Kingdom has come and your sufferings have brought the Kingdom in.' That may be a bit of imagination, but I believe there is a lot of truth in it.

It depends on how we look at things. Do we interpret these adversities as the victory of Satan, or do we interpret them as the way of the Kingdom and look through to that day when He shall have subdued all rule and authority?

Well, we have got out into a big realm! How much more there is in "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done"!

(To be continued)



[Harry Foster]

THE oboe is a rather unusual reed instrument and is difficult to play, but little Leon's father and mother had very special reasons for wanting him to learn to play it. Their reason had started because of the grandfather's wish, but they had taken up the idea wholeheartedly and made it their own.

Leon was still very young, but already he had shown signs of musical instincts. The problem was how to get him interested enough to go through with all the discipline and effort which would be needed if he were to make the grade as a good oboe player. They felt that he needed the will first if it were to be followed by the deed.

Leon's father was himself a gifted musician, in fact, he conducted the orchestra at the Opera House. It so happened that many of the operas had oboe solo parts in them, and it was this that gave the father his idea. As he thought the matter over, he decided on a plan which would need his own orchestra and Leon's mother to work out. And this is what it was.

Whenever there was a solo oboe part in the score, little Leon was taken to hear the opera. His mother would tell him when the oboe part was about to be played and get him specially interested in listening for it. At first he could not follow it well, but little by little he came to recognize the clear reed instrument, so that when he was warned to watch for it he got very excited and was very pleased with himself for being able to distinguish it.

As time went on he got better and better, so that in the end he did not need his mother to tell him to listen for the oboe but proudly told her as soon as he heard it. So it was that the months went by with the constant visits to the opera, not so much to hear the rest of the music as to listen for the oboe, which the boy Leon was learning to appreciate and enjoy. In fact, the instrument was becoming one of the main interests in his life.

Now, thought his father, the time has come for the next step. So on a suitable occasion, when oboes were being mentioned, he asked Leon: "How would you like to learn to play the oboe?" Like it! Leon could hardly answer for excitement. There was nothing he would like more! It had been such a joy to hear it, so much so that he could not think of a greater unless it was to play it for himself.

So the lessons began. It was not easy. His longing to play did not take the place of much hard work and constant exercise. But somehow work seems easier when you want to do it. So it was that in due course Leon not only learned to play the instrument but became a very great oboeist indeed.

Everything became possible once he wanted to do it, and his father had very wisely worked to get him to want it before he worked to get him to do it. So the family plan and pleasure became a fact.

This is a true story, and it is a good one for explaining the text which says: "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). Our heavenly Father has a plan for our lives, just as Leon's father had for Leon. And He also begins by arousing in us a desire to do His pleasure. He works in us "to will ...".

That is why we read the Bible if we are Christians. There we find how the Lord Jesus lived, and the more we read it the more we shall find ourselves [12/13] identifying Him, appreciating Him, and in the end longing to be like Him. When God has aroused in us the will to be like Christ then He is able to work in us to bring it to pass. When Leon wanted to play the oboe he had taken the first step towards playing it. This first step had to be followed by many others, for it was not enough to "will" it; he had to "do" it. Too many Christians wish to be like Christ but do not press on with the lessons in daily life which will work the likeness into them. Our heavenly Father is willing to teach us these lessons and to work out His will in us if we really want Him to do so. H. F.




Reading: 2 Samuel 6; 1 Chronicles 13, 16.

IN tracing the history of the Ark of the Testimony we have been deeply impressed with its foreshadowing of the Testimony of Jesus in the New Testament. What a varied and instructive history that has been! In its journey from its formation to its ultimate and final rest in the House of God and glory, what deep and important lessons it has taught! As it sets forth the greatness and glory of the Lord Jesus the way of that Testimony has been seen to touch the life and history of God's people at every point in their pilgrimage. Both as positively for them when their life was in keeping with it, and as against them when it was otherwise. That is a first lesson of which we must take notice in our relationship with the "Lord of Glory". The Testimony of God in Jesus Christ is not just a doctrine, a system of truth, the fundamentals of the Christian faith; but a vital relationship with a living Person; a relationship jealously watched and checked by God the Holy Spirit Himself. The greatness and glory of Jesus Christ is something given to the custodianship of the Spirit of God, who has "the seven eyes" of perfect spiritual intelligence and discernment, and who never eventually overlooks any details which affect that Testimony, for good or evil. This is what we have been seeing in these messages thus far.

In this present message we come to an episode which contains some of the most vital, solemn, and instructive lessons for God's people personally, and His Church universally and locally. Upon the lessons of this incident hang -- for our own time -- issues as serious as was the case when it actually happened. This is indeed a very real example of the words: "The things which were written aforetime were written for our learning" (Romans 15:4).

Let us, then, come to the elements of this episode.

David, after his chequered history, discipline, troubles, in preparation for his anointed kingship, has at length been made king after the tragic death of Saul -- man's choice (note) -- and Saul's sons, including that fine man, Jonathan, who was caught between the two regimes, a victim of divided loyalties. Upon this confirmed anointing of David it is not long before his thoughts turn to the ark of God, which still lingered on its way to fulness and finality. He had the right idea as to what was due to that sacred figure. His motive was sincere and true. The question was how to realize the Divine intention. Let us pause there and look forward to what eventuated from the point of that question. We will return there presently.

There has been a tragedy. Disaster has overtaken the enterprise and venture. The ark is turned aside. One man closely associated with the proceedings is dead, smitten by the hand of God. The people are in consternation and confusion. David is dismayed and "angry". The whole process has been cut short, and for a long time the atmosphere of frustration hangs over everything. Arrest, death, abortion, frustration, suspense, disappointment, confusion -- these are the features which hang over the life of the people of God. They had, with one accord, "made David king", first in Hebron, and then in Jerusalem. That was a right and excellent thing, and the portents and potentialities of that were very great. It was as God meant it, and that was accompanied by much Divine favour. Hebron was "Fellowship". Jerusalem was "His Foundation of Peace". But now "the radiant morn has passed away, and spent too soon her golden store". Shadows have descended. Disintegration of hearts, and bewilderment of purpose have overtaken.

David is somewhere, first nursing his grievance and fretting his spirit; murmuring against the [13/14] Lord's non-co-operation with his good-intentioned purpose. The spirit of unity and responsibility, as symbolized by David, is disconcerted and paralysed. "And the time was long."

I wonder whether, thus far, we are able to discern corresponding features in the Church and the Testimony in our own times. Let us pause, think, and ask the question!

Now we return to David where we left him before the tragedy. He is thinking out a scheme, a plan, a programme, a method, a means, for advancing the Testimony. It ought to "get a move on". Something must be done to remove "stalemate". 'It has been in the house of that man Abinadab too long.' So, to action to release the Testimony! 'Let's have a committee. Let's confer with some men of substance.' 'I have an idea,' said David. 'Do you remember how the Philistines returned the ark after they had captured it, and God had so honoured it with judgments? Why, God was in that . They were quite respectful and made a perfectly new cart for the ark. They had common sense and used their own good judgment. That's an idea for our work for God !' So David instructed the carpenters and wheelwrights to make a new cart such as the Philistines made. Best wood, well put together, wheels well oiled, ornate coverings; some well-chosen beasts to be the power and volition; and when we get going, let Ahio go in front, and -- in case of difficulty -- let Uzza be nearby to steady things. Yes, man's idea, man's creation, organization, technique; man's leadership, man's custodianship, man's enthusiasm! Very well. Off we go! The shouting and the singing and the dancing begin. The makebelieve and artificiality. There is something hollow in it all. But, isn't it all for God? Isn't the object and the end that we have what God wants? Surely that is the guarantee of prosperity and success! Well, was it? And is it?

All seems to go well for a time and everyone is enjoying the "New thing".

But, oh, why are there such things as "threshing floors" in the Bible? They have always been such testing places. They search for reality as against makebelieve, grain and chaff. They stand for the ultimate issue, what is of God and what is of man. At such a place David's oxen stumbled, the new cart rocked, the ark was imperilled, and -- you know the rest, for we have told it.

Here we return to David -- the spirit of responsibility.

Such a man as David could not remain indefinitely with a controversy with God. God is waiting for him to come out of his cul-de-sac. So David begins to run through the Bible which he had (which had been there all the time ) and his eye is directed to:

"And thou shalt put the staves into the rings on the sides of the ark, to bear the ark withal" (Exodus 25:14).

"And when Aaron and his sons have made an end of covering the sanctuary, and all the furniture of the sanctuary, as the camp is to set forward; after that, the sons of Kohath shall come to bear it: but they shall not touch the sanctuary, lest they die. These things are the burden of the sons of Kohath in the tent of meeting" (Numbers 4:5).

"But unto the sons of Kohath he gave none: because the service of the sanctuary belonged unto them; they bare it upon their shoulders" (Numbers 7:9).

As he looked he was startled, shocked, amazed, ashamed. Here was God's own prescription and ordination for the transit of the Ark of Testimony! As David read these Scriptures he must have called up his knowledge of the history lying behind God's unchanging order. The new cart faded from view, and in its place were some men who, through a most testing and searching history with God, had qualified for this so sacred ministry.

Although David did not have the prophecies of Malachi, God's speaking there (Malachi 2:4 ...) was retrospective to Exodus 32:26-29, and Numbers 25:12, 13. God's covenant with Levi and his sons, which governed their service, and gave them responsibility in relation to His Testimony, was because they were proved and approved men. In New Testament terms they were 'spiritual' men, "approved of God, workmen needing not to be ashamed". Yes, approved of God, and of His people. Not chosen, voted for, appointed and given office by men! Men of spiritual measure, "pillars of the church". In Christianity one of the most sacred expressions of the Lord's Testimony is His Table. "The Table of the Lord" is characterized as most holy: dangerous -- like the ark -- to what is not wholly suitable to it, and most blessed to those rightly related. Surely it is here that Levitical service is to find its true expression. Those who serve at the Lord's Table ought to be true "Levites" in the sense that they have -- under extended or intensive trial and proving -- shown to the Lord and His people that they are men of spiritual measure and quality! With reference to "overseers" Paul said: "Not a novice." "Novice" means "one newly planted". Surely this ought to apply to so sacred a function as serving at the Lord's Table! To put an untried and unproved 'novice' into such ministry is to put him into a false position, and even a dangerous one, and also making the church and its elders [14/15] very responsible. Levites may not now be an ecclesiastical class or a ritualistic "Order", but the law of spiritual approvedness and quality born of experience surely holds good for every ministry in the Church!

No, not a "new cart"! Not a man-conceived technique! Not -- with the best of intentions and motives -- man's arrangement! It is possible for man to get too close to the Lord's Testimony with his own hand , like Uzza, and consequently find himself out of the living fulness of the Divine goings and purpose. He may even be responsible for arrested, retarded, and confused conditions in the work of God. To put a hand on something that is of God as to purpose is surely -- sooner or later -- to meet God in stern disapproval, and to forfeit His "Well done".

Of the various instructive things which arise so evidently from this episode, not by any means the least is the solemn government of the Word of God. David's disastrous course was due to his overlooking, ignoring, and consequently violating the clear Word of the Lord. His act -- if unintentionally -- implied superiority to the Scriptures. This is always dangerous! It is particularly incumbent upon any who are in a position of responsibility to familiarize themselves with God's Word in relation to any course of action in which they may be involved.

We have written the above out of very long and wide experience in the Lord's work, and we are sure that to give serious consideration to the Bible's teaching in this episode would be to have the explanation of much tragedy, would be a strong warning and corrective, and see the Lord's Testimony freed to proceed.

Thank God, David recovered himself and had a happier end. This we shall see in our next message.

(To be continued)



"The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all manner of precious stones" (Revelation 21:19).

The following passages are a commentary on that verse:

"Putting away therefore all wickedness, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, as newborn babes, long for the spiritual milk which is without guile, that ye may grow thereby unto salvation; if ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious: unto whom coming, a living stone, rejected indeed of men, but with God elect, precious, ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Because it is contained in scripture,

Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious:

And he that believeth on him shall not be put to shame.

For you therefore which believe is the preciousness" (1 Peter 2:1-7).

"In whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace" (Ephesians 1:7).

"That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:7).

"Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, was this grace given, to preach ... the unsearchable riches of Christ" (Ephesians 3:8).

"That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, that ye may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man" (Ephesians 3:16).

"Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?" (Romans 2:4).

"That he might make known the riches of his glory upon vessels of mercy, which he afore prepared unto glory" (Romans 9:23).

"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgements, and his ways past tracing out!" (Romans 11:33).

Now we have to come back to the first passage, in Revelation 21:9: "The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all manner of precious stones."


I think you know that the order in which we have the books of the New Testament is not the order in which they were written. The chronological order [15/16] would be quite different from the one which we have in our arrangement. The Book of the Revelation was not the last book of the Bible to be written, but there is a Divine order in the arrangement, and this is a very real mark of the government of the Holy Spirit. When the books were put together in the way in which we have them, perhaps the men did not know what they were doing, but the Spirit of God, who inspired the writing, also governed the arrangement, and everybody recognizes that this book of the Revelation is in the right place. It is the summary and consummation of all that is in the Bible, and its dominant note is the coming again of the Lord Jesus. These words stand over every section of this book: 'Behold, I come quickly', and almost the last words are: "The Spirit and the bride say, Come" (22:17). It is the Person of the Lord Jesus who stands supreme over this whole book, in all its sections. He is given various names: The Word of God, the Faithful and true Witness, King of kings and Lord of lords, and other names, all of which only occur once, but there is a name which is repeated again and again, and that name stands over every section of the book from the beginning to the end, and that name is 'The Lamb'. Jesus as the Lamb of God stands over this whole book, so that the book is a record of the power, the authority and the glory of Jesus Christ in His cross. It is His place of supremacy in the Church and in the nations by virtue of His sufferings.

This book is therefore a presentation of what Christ is through His Cross, that is, through His suffering and death, and all that He is through His suffering and death is here, in this book, reproduced in the Church. The Church here, as we have been seeing, is represented in the symbolism of the city, and that city is the Church embodying all the features of what Christ is by His suffering and death.

I only have to remind you of those words in the letter to the Hebrews, chapter 12:22, 23:

"But ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable hosts of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven."

You see, the city of the living God is the general assembly of the firstborn, the Church of the firstborn ones whose names are enrolled in heaven, in other words, whose names are in the Lamb's Book of Life. The letter to the Hebrews corresponds to the book of the Revelation.

So this book of the Revelation, and especially these last chapters, sets forth that to which God is working in the Church now. It tells us what it is that God is seeking to do in believers now, and the goal to which He is working, which is a full revelation of Christ in the Church at the end. That statement is a very important statement for us, for it means that if God has got hold of our lives, if we are truly under the government of the Holy Spirit, He is doing a work in us throughout our lives, and that work is that at the end all that is symbolically true of the New Jerusalem will be found true in us.


Having already considered many aspects of this city, we have at last come to the wall. We have read that "the foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all manner of precious stones", so that the wall represents the many-sided riches of God's grace in Jesus Christ. We did not read all these precious stones, but if you will just pass your eye over them you will see how precious they are, and what a variety of preciousness is represented here: the jasper, the sapphire, the chalcedony, and so on, and you will notice that they finish with the amethyst.

There was a little Methodist church in the country in England, and they were having a conference. For the lesson an old farmer read this twenty-first chapter of Revelation, and he came to the part about the precious stones. Everybody saw his face getting more and more excited. He started off: "The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony ..." and he was getting more and more excited. "... the fourth, emerald; the fifth ... and the sixth ... and the seventh ... and the eighth ... and the ninth ... and the tenth ... and the eleventh ... and the twelfth was a METHODIST!" Well, it is something to be excited about. If we could put ourselves into the description of an 'amethyst' it would indeed be something glorious!

We have said that all these stones set forth the many-sided riches of God's grace brought to us in Jesus Christ. It is quite impossible for us to comprehend the many aspects of God's grace, and that is why we read all those passages about the riches of His grace, the riches of His glory, the unsearchable riches of Christ, and also why we read Peter: "For you therefore which believe is the preciousness." But perhaps we can understand this a little better if we take note of two things.


It says here that there were twelve gates to the city, "and names written thereon, which are the [16/17] names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel" (verse 12), and then it says: "And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb" (verse 14). Now, you Bible students, don't expect me to exhaust all the meaning of that! But I want to suggest to you just one thing about those two verses.

On the gates were the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. Paul tells us, about Israel, that "it is the remnant that shall be saved" (Romans 9:27). While all Israel may now be cast away, a remnant shall be saved. Israel will be represented at the last, but why and how? This is what I suggest to you to be a meaning: The twelve tribes of Israel sprang from Jacob, and if ever there was a man who ought not to have had the position that Jacob had, it was Jacob. No man of character has any respect for Jacob. He was a deceiver, a man who was always "seeking to get his own advantage at the expense of someone else. It did not matter how much others had to lose or suffer so long as Jacob got what he wanted. The earlier years of Jacob's life are a story that is not pleasant to read. You say: What a mean and despicable man was Jacob! And you agree with the prophet when he says: "Thou worm Jacob" (Isaiah 41:14). Jacob had very little naturally to commend him. Why, then, should Jacob come to occupy the great place that he has in the Bible? Why should his name be changed from Jacob to Israel, 'a prince with God'? There is only one answer: Sovereign grace! God took hold of that man to make him a "vessel of mercy". We know the mercy and the grace of God when we see it taking hold of a character like that! "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgements, and his ways past tracing out!"


But not only the man, the twelve tribes. What a story of tragedy, failure and shame is the story of the old Israel! God's patience was tested to its utmost by that people. There was a time when He said to Moses: 'Stand aside! Let Me destroy them and I will make of thee another nation.' One day Moses himself cried: 'You rebels! Must we bring water out of this rock for you?' Yes, it is a long and a terrible story is the story of the twelve tribes of Israel, but their names are on the gates of the New Jerusalem. Whatever other things this may mean, I am quite sure that it means this: Here you have a wonderful, wonderful testimony to the unspeakable grace of God in Jesus Christ. "For you which believe is the preciousness." A remnant of Israel shall believe and be found in the holy city. So that, whether it be Jacob himself or his twelve sons and the tribes, here at the last is this testimony to the sovereign grace of God.


Why is this written at the end of the Bible? Just to say that there is hope for you, and there is hope for me. The grace of God for Jacob and the twelve tribes is big enough for us. This Church city is a great monument to the unsearchable riches of His grace.

There is always a note of warning in these things, and the Apostle Paul warned Christians to beware of failing of the grace of God. We read that verse in Romans 2:4: "Despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long suffering?" It must be a very terrible thing to fail of this grace if it is so great! But let us proceed.


On the foundations of the wall were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. Now this means much more than I am going to say, but I am quite sure that it means this one thing.

I read the story of those twelve men before Pentecost, and it is not a very happy story. They were men who were constantly quarrelling with one another, and they all had something of Jacob in them -- trying to get an advantage for themselves at the expense of the others. Two of them came round the back of the others with their mother. There has been a little family conspiracy, and this mother was very ambitious for her two sons, and the sons fell into her ambition, so that while the other disciples were not looking (you see, this is Jacob!) they came round to the Lord Jesus and the mother said: 'Master, I want to ask you for something. Will you promise me something?' But Jesus was always awake to anything like that -- 'You tell Me what you want and then I will tell you if I will give it to you.' And so the mother said: 'Master, when you come into your kingdom, will you let this boy be on your right hand, and this boy be on your left hand? Will you let my two sons have the first two places in the kingdom?' Well, Jesus just said: 'That is not Mine to give. That is for the Father.' But it was not all over then -- the story does not end there. When the others knew it they were very angry: 'They tried to steal our place!'

Well, I could go on like that about these disciples [17/18] -- and you know how that story ended! The chief one amongst them denied the Lord Jesus three times, most vehemently. When it was said to him: 'You are one of them!' he said: 'I don't know what you are talking about.' And then, when later on it was said to him: 'You were with Him,' he said: 'I tell you, I know not the man!' We can hardly believe that the leader of the Apostles should fall so low! Surely, we would say, there is no hope for a man like that, and the others are not much better, because it says that they all forsook Him and fled. All right -- their names are on the foundation of the wall! The riches of His grace are at last manifested in them. Peter needs grace in one way -- I don't know whether he corresponds to the jasper -- and John needs grace in another way -- perhaps he corresponds to the sapphire. But they all needed some form of Divine grace in a special way.

And that is true of us all. My nature needs Divine grace in a special way, and everyone here needs the grace of God in some particular way. But the grace of God in Jesus Christ can meet every one of us in our particular way, and right at last, whether it be an amethyst or a 'Methodist', we will be in the city.

We have only just touched the very fringe of the unsearchable riches of grace, but may we from this time have a larger appreciation of this wonderful grace of God in Jesus Christ.

(To be continued)



WE concluded our last chapter with the words: "The last movement before 'I come quickly' must be a Christ-movement." If this book of "the Revelation" is finality, then it is -- in that very connection -- the book of the fulness and finality of Jesus Christ. Above we have used the word 'consummation', the etymology of which is: 'to bring into one sum, to perfect, to bring together'. This is exactly what this book does. It is the summation of the ages. It comprehends the whole Bible and bounds all history. It compasses creation, redemption, and perdition. It embraces heaven, earth, and hell. It connects with God, man, and Satan. In it there are no less than four hundred allusions to the Old Testament. When all is said, the one question that arises is: 'Is there one thing -- one issue -- that interprets and explains everything?' Yes, there is! The all-inclusive issue is


In our other series of messages on the Holy City we are seeing that -- not only at the end of this book but at the end of all time -- universal government is represented by the City, both in fact and nature. It is the symbol of universal authority vested in, and mediated by Christ and His Church. It is the nature of the Son of God as Son of Man. That is why "judgment begins at the house of God" (1 Peter 4:17) as in the first chapters, representatively.

This inclusive issue is seen (in this book) to relate to the purpose of God

1. in creation;

2. in redemption;

3. in His Son;

4. in Israel;

5. in the Church;

and that is the way in which to read and study the book! The book is the revelation of final restoration and recovery in Christ Jesus.

A revelation has been given in

(a) the Old Testament;

(b) the New Testament. (Brought to its greatest fulness through the Apostles Paul and John.)

That revelation has been departed from, both by Israel and the Church. Its greatest fulness was given through Paul to the churches in Asia; hence it is there that the comprehensive message of judgment unto recovery is focused. But that was intended to reach through all time to the end, and that message shows that if recovery cannot -- or will not -- be in entirety, it will be -- as always -- in a Remnant. So, what we have seen in our first two chapters is a fundamental presentation of God's Pattern and God's way, i.e. His Son and the Cross.

The consummate issue, then, is brought into view in two ways:

1. A personal presentation of Christ; and

2. A comprehensive designation of Christ in His titles.

As to the latter we have: [18/19]

1. "Jesus Christ, the faithful witness" (1:5)

"Jesus" -- the Man. The title of His humanity before His exaltation. When He is so called, almost invariably the connection is with His earthly life before 'being glorified'. After that, as a rule, there is added 'Lord' -- 'Lord Jesus', or 'Jesus, our Lord', etc. It is quite a mistake now, as with a whole body of people, to say just 'Jesus, Jesus'. That title, or name, is used only to identify Him with the designation that follows. This One who is majestically and gloriously unveiled, is none other than the One who came into this world at Bethlehem and lived a life as a man here.

"Christ" = Messiah, the Anointed. "This Jesus" was, by anointing, made Prophet, Priest, and King, for all men, in the midst of God's new Israel, the Church. 'Anointed' is His official title to carry out a Divine mandate. It is God committed to Him.

2. "Faithful and True Witness"

"Witness" is the same as "Martyr", "Faithful unto death". His testimony -- "the testimony of Jesus" -- is forever sealed with His own blood. A vast amount of the Bible is gathered into this.

3. "The Firstborn of the dead"

This is position and relationship. Priority to be followed by others in resurrection. There could be no resurrection for any until Jesus was raised, but then 'a new and living hope' sprang to birth for all born-anew believers.

4. "The ruler of the kings of the earth"

By His resurrection He won universal lordship. What Satan offered Him on the ground of compromise, and He refused and declined, He has gained through no compromise, but obedience unto death.

This brings us to the all-inclusive issue -- the issue which is greater than Caesar and Satan -- His victory.

5. "The first and the last" (1:17)

Note the particular use of this title in relation to this book. This is the end! The end is to see everything where, and as, God -- at the beginning -- intended it to be. 'All things summed up in Christ' (Colossians 1:16-20). Pause here with your New Testament open at 'Ephesians', 'Colossians', 'Hebrews'.

6. "The Living one" (1:18)

"I became dead" -- not 'I was killed'.

The Roman Empire, the Jewish nation, the kingdom of Satan, all conspired to kill Him, but "No one taketh it from me. I lay it down of myself. I have authority to lay it down, and to take it again. This commandment received I from my Father" (John 10:18).

"I am alive unto the ages of the ages, and I have the keys of death and of Hades."

Here we have two things:

(a) The purpose of His 'becoming dead'. His voluntary death.

This is in verse 5, and it is summed up in a mighty "us" -- "Loveth us" -- "Loosed us" -- "Made us".

"Christ loved the Church."

Christ loosed the Church from Satan's authority.

Christ made the Church a "Kingdom and Priests".

"The keys of death and Hades." The right and authority to deliver from the sum of human sin and Satan's power thereby, which is death. Read in here 1 Corinthians 15.

Death, and subsequent captivity -- imprisonment -- cannot prevail against the Living Lord and His Church.

Death is the power, and Hades is the realm in which the system of death operates. Christ has plundered both, and taken their power into His own hands.

"He plunged in his imperial strength

To gulfs of darkness down;

He brought his trophy up at length;

The foiled usurper's crown."

Again, we have to place the Cross over the whole book!

The throne is the throne of the Lamb!

(b) The second thing intimated here is the one which relates to the final issue in a primary way. It is going to be the ground of the real controversy, connected with everything. Because it requires so much consideration, we shall do no more than mention it now, and reserve fuller attention till later. It is just what is the meaning of our risen Lord's exultant cry: "I am alive for evermore." Yes, that is it! The life of the ages. Life triumphant; life immortal!

You may be sorry that we break off there for the present; but this is enough to bring us face to face with the mighty issue of this book -- even that of God's eternal counsels. [19/20]

(To be continued)
[This series was never continued.]


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