Bible Treasury: Volume N11

Table of Contents

1. Our Advocate With the Father: Part 2
2. Lectures on Job 1-3
3. Labour
4. The Minister of the Sanctuary
5. The War and Prophecy: Part 1
6. Erratum
7. Advertisement
8. Publishing
9. Lectures on Job 4-5
10. Notes on Jeremiah
11. Strength in Weakness
12. Practicalities
13. Extract
14. The War and Prophecy: Part 2
15. Heaven's Joy
16. To Correspondents
17. Publishing
18. Lectures on Job 6-8:3
19. Notes on Jeremiah
20. The Son of Man in Heaven
21. Sanctification Without Which There Is No Christianity: Part 1
22. Condemned With the World
23. Erratum
24. Publishing
25. Lectures on Job 8:4-10
26. A Daysman
27. The Women of the Genealogy
28. Sanctification Without Which There Is No Christianity: Part 2
29. Errata
30. Publishing
31. Lectures on Job 11-14
32. David in Suffering and in Victory
33. The Gentleness of Christ
34. Brief Notes on 2 Peter 1
35. All Things Ready in the Gospel and in Worship: Part 1
36. Fragment: Luke 10:39
37. Scripture Query and Answer: Head Covering
38. Publishing
39. Lectures on Job 15-19
40. Notes on Galatians 6
41. All Things Ready in the Gospel and in Worship: Part 2
42. All Things Richly to Enjoy
43. Advertisement
44. Publishing
45. Lectures on Job 20-23
46. A Worldly Sanctuary (Duplicate): Part 1
47. Brief Notes on 1 Peter 1:13-21
48. Publishing
49. Lectures on Job 24-28
50. The Ark and Obedience
51. A Worldly Sanctuary (Duplicate): Part 2
52. Gethsemane (Duplicate)
53. Scripture Query and Answer: Reign of Christ
54. Advertisement
55. Publishing
56. Lectures on Job 29-32
57. Address on John 13-14
58. The Use of Wine
59. Truth: 1. Its Nature and History
60. Advertisement
61. Publishing
62. Lectures on Job 33-37
63. Keeping in the Love of God
64. Ephesus, Smyrna and Pergamos: Part 1
65. Truth: 2. Its Nature and History
66. Scripture Query and Answer: Luke 9:3 Compared With Mark 6:8
67. Publishing
68. Lectures on Job 38-41
69. Refusing and Giving up
70. Ephesus, Smyrna and Pergamos: Part 2
71. Truth: 3. Its Nature and History
72. Fragment: Devotion in Service
73. A Plea for the Gospel
74. Wine
75. Publishing
76. Lectures on Job 42
77. Christ's Desires for the Christian: Part 1
78. Truth: 4. Its Nature and History
79. Advertisement
80. Publishing
81. The Institution of the Lord's Supper: 1. As Recorded in the Gospels
82. Jesus the Son of God
83. Christ's Desires for the Christian: Part 2
84. Joy, Prayer, and Thanksgiving
85. Advertisement
86. Published
87. Notes on Matthew 1
88. The Parable of the Ten Virgins
89. The Institution of the Lord's Supper: 2. As Recorded in the Gospels
90. Studies in Mark 7:1-8: Vain Ablutions
91. Advertising
92. Publishing
93. Notes on Matthew 2:1-8
94. Studies in Mark 7:1-8: Vain Ablutions, Continued
95. Divine Inspiration of the Scriptures: 1
96. The Institution of the Lord's Supper: 3. As Recorded in the Acts and the Epistles
97. The Revelation of God: Part 1
98. The Propitiation for Our Sins
99. Advertisement
100. Printing
101. Notes on Matthew 2:19-23; 3:1-17
102. Studies in Mark 7:9-13: Word of God and Tradition of Men
103. Divine Inspiration of the Scriptures: 2. Theories of Inspiration
104. The Institution of the Lord's Supper: 4. As Recorded in the Acts and the Epistles
105. The Revelation of God: Part 2
106. Errata
107. Advertising
108. Printing
109. Notes on Matthew 4:1-11
110. Studies in Mark 7:9-13: Word of God and Tradition of Men
111. Divine Inspiration of the Scriptures: 3. The Witness of Christ to the Inspiration of the Old Testament
112. Our Advocate With the Father
113. Publishing
114. Notes on Matthew 4:12-25
115. Divine Inspiration of the Scriptures: 4. Apostolic Witness to the Old Testament
116. Sanctification: 1
117. Advertising
118. Printing
119. Notes on Matthew 5:1-12
120. Studies in Mark 7:14-23: True Source of Man's Defilement
121. Divine Inspiration of the Scriptures: 5. Old Testament Witness to Itself
122. Sanctification: 2
123. Opening the Book in Nazareth and in Heaven: Part 1
124. Advertising
125. Publishing
126. Notes on Matthew 5:13-26
127. Studies in Mark 7:14-23: God's Kingdom Not Eating and Drinking
128. Divine Inspiration of the Scriptures: 6. Messiah's Suffering
129. Sanctification: 3
130. Opening the Book in Nazareth and in Heaven: Part 2
131. Advertising
132. Publishing
133. Notes on Matthew 5:27-48; 6:1-15
134. Notes on Matthew 5:27-48; 6:1-15, Continued
135. Studies in Mark 7:14-23: God's Kingdom Not Eating and Drinking, Continued
136. Divine Inspiration of the Scriptures: 7. The Inspiration of the New Testament
137. Sanctification: 4
138. Advertising
139. Publishing
140. The Assembly of God: 1. Its Present State and the Duties That Result
141. Divine Inspiration of the Scriptures: 8. The Inspiration of the New Testament
142. The Advocacy of Christ (Duplicate): 1
143. John's Vision of the First and the Last: 1
144. Advertising
145. Publishing
146. Notes on Matthew 6:9-23
147. Studies in Mark 7:24-30: Crumbs of Grace for Gentile Dogs
148. The Assembly of God: 2. Its Present State and the Duties That Result
149. The Advocacy of Christ (Duplicate): 2
150. John's Vision of the First and the Last: 2
151. Advertising
152. Publishing
153. Notes on Matthew 6:24-34
154. The Assembly of God: 3. Its Present State and the Duties That Result
155. The Advocacy of Christ (Duplicate): 3
156. John's Vision of the First and the Last: 3
157. Errata
158. Advertising
159. Publishing
160. Fragment: 2 Corinthians 5:14

Our Advocate With the Father: Part 2

You will observe that the apostle, after referring to the normal condition of the family life, speaks of sin. He speaks first of Light: “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all,” and as children of God we are in this light.
It is difficult to explain what light means. We can easily think of it. We can imagine it better than explain it. In a pious home there is always light. People say there is no place like home, and if when they are at home they are in the place they like best in all the world, there is something in the saying. There is a feeling at home that they do not find anywhere else, and so it is in the family of God. There is that holy character which becomes the whole family of God, because God is light. Light reveals, light shows us what displeases God: “In him is no darkness at all.”
Light does not, however, remove defilement. It shows it, if it is there, but it is not the function of light to cleanse. There may be all sorts of dust and dirt and cobwebs in a darkened room; these are not seen. Throw open the shutters and its condition is revealed. But the light shining in will not rid the room of the unwholesome accumulations.
John speaks here of this. He says that God is light, and he speaks of us as walking in the light. “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light” are his words. People say that is just the difficulty. “I have been troubled over that verse for months—years. I cannot walk in the light, sometimes I think I am, but I cannot always be sure that I am, walking in the light.” Now, if this is your thought you are making a mistake, and your mistake is that you are confounding two things. Walking in the light does not necessarily mean walking according to the light. There are two statements: one states where you are walking, and the other how you are walking.
If you are a Christian you are walking in the light, or else you would not be a Christian: “He that followeth me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). The question is, are you following Christ? How you are walking in the light is a different matter, but every Christian is walking in the light. “Ye are the light of the world” is said of the followers of Jesus.
Once we were sons of darkness, but we have now been brought into the light; some may not be walking according to the light, and that is why they are so uncomfortable. Just because you are in the light it brings before you the mistake you made. There may be an evil thought you have allowed, an improper word, an action that is not beautiful, and you feel troubled about these things. Once you did not mind. What makes you mind now? Because you are in the light. The light of God shines into your heart and you feel unhappy because you have done something contrary to Him.
I would speak very gravely to my friends this evening and implore them to be careful not to injure the sensitiveness of their conscience and heart. Let in the full light of God and His holy word, and if you feel within your own soul that things are not right in your life, do not listen to any false adviser who says it does not matter. You must get right in your personal communion with God. There are remedies for failure, and the remedies are stated in these verses.
There are those who, when they have sinned, feel that they must give up everything. They say, “Well, it was easy enough for me to expect forgiveness when I was an unbeliever, but having known the love of God and then to have sinned, my responsibility is so much greater. What can I do? A sinner can come to seek forgiveness, but I have sinned against the light. I must give it all up, for I am the more to blame.”
I know this state of mind to be a fact, my friends. Christian men at the Front write and say, “We can keep straight at home, but out here a man cannot live a Christian life. It is a dog's life here. I have gone under and have now given it up. I will turn over a fresh leaf when I come home.” They forget, poor men, that they may never come home. But the feeling is there, and it is what we have in some cases in London as well as in the Forces.
Beloved friends, these men know they have sinned, yet they go on sinning. Why? Because—they are afraid to come to the Father. They feel that the fellowship with the Father and Son is broken, and they know not what to do for restoration. Sometimes there is not a Christian friend to tell them what to do, but the Bible explains it all. Only they neglect the Bible and listen to the evil suggestions of their own hearts. This danger, beloved friends, is not only for those in France, or in Mesopotamia, but the danger is also here. It is indeed everywhere, for we are all liable to fall into the serious error.
You have here in John the great foundation of Christian fellowship. You have things that never change-the blood of Jesus Christ and its cleansing power. It is the blood of Jesus Christ that cleanses from all sin. This does not imply that I, as a failing Christian, have to come and be washed again in the blood of Christ, but the phrase means that the blood of Jesus Christ was shed for a definite purpose. Has it cleansed you? If it has cleansed you it has cleansed you forever. It removes every defilement, and makes the soul whiter than snow. One application is sufficient. And when the apostle says “the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth” he means that this character never alters through the ages. As light reveals, so blood cleanses. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from every sin, and this is therefore the great immutable foundation of my walk in the light.
The apostle goes on to write, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” The truth shows that we have a root within us from which evil springs. You know perfectly well that without any effort on your part evil thoughts will arise within you when you wake up in the night. You may go along the streets, and evil thoughts may come, for there may be suggestions in the street. But in the darkness and quiet of your own chamber, how do these evil suggestions arise? There is but one answer, namely, that which the Lord Himself supplied: “out of the heart proceed evil thoughts.” And this character of the old nature within never changes, so that the man who says he has no sin, deceives himself. It is a terrible delusion for a person to look into his heart where sin is, and to say “I am holy.” He, in effect, calls an unclean thing a clean thing. Can anything be more deceitful? The heart is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.”
We need the warning word therefore: “If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Herein lies our responsibility: “If we confess our sins.” Is there a day passes without some sin? Shall we not own it with shame? I do not say that we should always be thinking of our sins, or our liability to sin, but on the other hand, there is no portion of Scripture to tell us that we should never think of our sins.
But we are also to think of the personal interest of the One against whom we have sinned. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. What is there that shows more beautifully the gracious and loving care of the Father and Son? Jesus Christ the righteous is faithful and just not only to forgive our sins, but to clear them away. We have therefore His work of blood-shedding, which is the basis of cleansing, and we have all the personal activities which rest on that basis for our cleansing wherein we have erred.
Now there is a practical difficulty which comes into the lives of A great many young Christians in this matter. They feel that although they may ask forgiveness, things are not as they were before they had fallen.
One describing this feeling, says, “It is like this: if you wrong your mother and ask her forgiveness, you cannot go to her just the same as before.” But that is just the mistake; you can go; you ought to go to her. And it is also true in divine intercourse. If ever you need to go to God it is when you have sinned. And when He forgives, the whole thing is cleared away. All His heart is towards you in love, and He restores your soul. “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, etc.” So that defilement which was on your conscience is cleansed by His word of assurance. It is one of the subtleties of the devil to seek to keep a Christian from his knees, and from the presence of God his, Father, and of Jesus Christ the Advocate.
The great desire and hope of the apostle was that the children of God should be kept from the defilements of their nature, and that they should in no way get themselves entangled in the snares of the world, but should keep themselves pure and holy. If, however, any man sin he has an Advocate with the Father. There is great need for this, because a Christian either might not feel his sin, or feeling his sins might not confess them, and what a sad state would this be? what would become of us if we had not the Advocate with the Father? You know how proud and stubborn the will is, and how you like to turn the wrong way, and having taken the false step you still go on. And where would you go if there was not One to look after you? It is very comforting to think of Jesus coming to us in our troubles and conflicts, or in the hour of bereavement, or when we engage in an enterprise which ends in failure and distress, But this is not a question of trouble, or bereavement, or business methods. This is a question of sin, allowed and indulged.
But we here learn that even in such conditions He does not leave us or forsake us. He is prepared to do everything needful to bring us back to God and to communion with the Father. “If any man sin we have an advocate with the Father.”
Now we see this advocacy beautifully illustrated in the case of Peter. He sinned deeply against his Master, he denied his Master in a terrible fashion, though he did not think he would. But Jesus, who loved him, said, “Satan desires to have thee to sift thee as wheat, but I have prayed for thee.”
The Master made intercession on his behalf. And at a given moment, the Lord looked at Peter, and Peter remembered the words of the Lord, and he went out and wept bitterly. Apart from the Advocate, where would he have gone? We know where Judas went, but Peter had an Advocate. He went out in contrition and wept bitterly. Tears, the tears of the strong man, were fitting. It was good for him to feel his sin, to learn what there was in that wicked heart of his, so that he might prove the abounding love of the Father and the Son.
Jesus Christ is just the same today, and we, you and I, have Him as an Advocate with the Father. His eye is upon us, He is watching us, and we do not know where we might have been to-night, if it had not been for the Lord's advocacy with the Father.
I am speaking now, of course, of our Christian career. There has ever been an unseen hand helping us, holding and bringing us back into safety. This work of our Lord is not always recognized; there is a danger that we overlook and forget that the blessed Master has been thinking and caring for us. We know not how, but in some way or the other He has been pre-serving us from sin. He has gently drawn us back from slippery ways. He has seen to it that our communion should not be destroyed forever, but restored again. Remembering this, our hearts should be quickened in love towards the One who is so faithful to us, and Who will not leave us nor forsake us. The Lord is our Advocate with the Father to bring us to a confession of sins, and to restore our souls to the joy of communion.
Many persons have an idea that communion is something exclusively for old Christians. They say, “I suppose you mean that we have to think about the Lord all day long. But I have other things to attend to. I have correspondence, ledgers, housework, etc., to think about. I could not do my work faithfully if I had other things upon my mind.”
But this all arises from a misapprehension as to communion. Take a familiar incident, by way of illustration: suppose you are sitting down at home writing a letter, and your wife or someone you love is also in the room. They are reading or doing something else. Now you are writing your letter, but you are conscious all the time that the person or persons is there. It is not necessary to converse. There is the joyous sense of the loved one being there. If that one was not present there would be quite a different feeling. Now this is a feeble illustration of divine communion. There is a sense of the Lord's presence which I may have throughout the day. There is a feeling that His eye is upon me, His hand guides me and that He is preparing everything for my ultimate good, and when strange, unexpected things come along I am not disturbed. So that the feeling of communion in this sense may be enjoyed by the youngest Christian, and that is what I am trying to convey.
If you are a son or a daughter, you have the sense of your duty to your parents, and of their loving interest and regard for you. You have the consciousness of all that without directly thinking of them all day long. They do not engage your thoughts definitely, but still there is the sense that they are about you. It is quite different if they should be removed from this world, but while they are here there is the sense of their presence, even if there is local separation.
Now, beloved friends, the great theme of my text is that we have Jesus Christ the righteous there with the Father, who has undertaken to see that all is well with us, to keep us right, to keep us in the joy of God's love throughout all the difficulties of this world, and more than that, if it should be that we drift into sin, even then He will not forsake us, but by His intercession and His power, He will bring us back to the enjoyment of God's own gracious law.
(Concluded from page 272)
W. J. H.

Lectures on Job 1-3

Chapters 1-3
Chap. 1:1-12. Now I have only read the introduction, and indeed but a part of the introduction, because the first two chapters comprise the introduction. And then follows the impassioned and vehement opening speech of the patriarch Job. It is clear that here we have got a Book of patriarchal time. All the circumstances point to that time and no other; and further, it is as well to state even now before we go on, that the Book appears to have been written in the time of Moses, and probably by Moses. But some people are a little perplexed by the fact that it comes after the Book of Esther in the Bible. That has nothing whatever to do with the date of it. The Historical Books are given from Genesis to Esther-that is the end; then we begin the Poetic Books—Job, the Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. Therefore, it is that we necessarily go back here; because poetry was not written certainly after history, but concurrently with it; and we can easily understand that the Book of Job carries us back to the very same time that the first Book of the history goes back to. Everything concurs to show that.
For instance, Job offered burnt offerings; it was lest his sons should have sinned, but it was not a sin offering, which would have been the natural thing if it had been after the law; but it was before the law, and the offerings that were habitually offered by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, under all circumstances, were burnt offerings. So that here we find a very simple mark in the very first chapter; and again, we find that there is a very peculiar idolatry at this time. The Book of Job was written after the deluge; there was no idolatry before the deluge. Of course, the theologians say what they like about the subject, and they very often say what is entirely unfounded; and they are pleased to think there must have been idolatry, and therefore there was; but that is no reason at all—it is merely their imagination. The fact is, the earliest idolatry was the worshipping the sun, moon, and stars; and in the course of this Book we shall see that this is the only idolatry that Job refers to. It was what was common at that time, and they were getting afterward into much more degraded forms of it.
Therefore, it would seem that the writer of the book was a good while after Job, but that Job lived in a time when there was idolatry. Yet this thing is what alone he notices; it is in his defense of himself—that he was not guilty—which is one of the thoughts that governed the minds of his three friends. I suppose they were the orthodox people of that day; but like the orthodox people of many a day, it was a poor, human, contracted notion of God. Orthodoxy is merely the popular opinion of religion, as a general rule; and although there are elements of truth, and orthodoxy is certainly much better than heterodoxy, still it is not faith; it is not spiritual judgment, which is a deep acquaintance with God's mind. Only we must remember there was very little written at the time that this Book was written, perhaps no more than the Book of Genesis. I judge thus because there is no reference to the law. If it had been written after the law was given on Sinai, we might expect to find some allusion to that, but there is none.
There is another thing that contributes also to help us to the date, and that is the age of Job. He was 140 at least. There are some people who seem to think that he lived 140 years after all his troubles; but there is no ground for that. It is merely the manner of speech in the last chapter, and I presume it really means that that was his entire age, the period of his life—not the time after these disasters purposely fell upon him—for reasons that I am going to explain in a moment. Now, if that age be the age of Job, it shows we need not imagine more than what God's word declares, and he would therefore be rather a younger man when he died than Jacob. Jacob lived less than Isaac or Abraham. So that that would appear to point to the time of the patriarchal age, and all the circumstances fall in with that.
But there is another thing very remarkable and separate in the Book. It is entirely outside Israel. There was certainly the nucleus of Israel then; Abraham, Isaac and probably Jacob, had been living, and it is clear that this pious Gentile, Job, had profited a good deal from the knowledge of what God had revealed in His dealings not only with those patriarchs, but the traditions of those who had lived before. I say “traditions,” because Scripture was not yet written. If there was any Book of Scripture written at this time, it could only, in my opinion, have been, possibly, the Book of Genesis. That was but very little. Only the Book of Genesis is one of the most instructive Books in all the Bible; and it is remarkable for being a kind of seed plot, (as it has been compared to before now), where all the germs, all the plants afterward grew up into, you may say, shrubs or trees, or whatever it might be—there you have them all in their beginning.
It answers very much in that respect to the Book of the Revelation; Genesis is the proper preface to the Bible, and Revelation the very suitable conclusion of the Bible; and you will find that there are links of connection between Genesis and Revelation that are more striking than in any other two Books of the Scriptures. For instance, the Garden, the Paradise of God, and the Tree of Life—these you have very early in Genesis, and very early in the Revelation. In the second chapter of Genesis we have it, and in the second chapter of Revelation we have it again. This is a revelation of a higher character, founded upon that Paradise which all readers of Genesis knew. Then that terrible personage Satan, the Serpent—in the Revelation he is called the “old serpent,” evidently pointing back to Genesis. The Serpent, the Enemy, is spoken of in various ways. We find him spoken of as “Satan” in the 109th Psalm, and we find him spoken of also in the 21st chapter of the First Book of Chronicles. There Satan tempted David, and succeeded in it, and brought David into a great sin, and which brought deep suffering upon the people of whom he was too proud; and so the people were shorn down and deprived of that strength because David was proud of their strength. Well then, again, in Zechariah, too, we have them all. So that the notion that there is anything very peculiar in the province given to Satan in this Book of Job is a very absurd one. It is a very proper thing, exactly what is needed, and it is the great truth which is about to be propounded and discussed throughout the Book.
Some divines are very fond of talking about the Book of Job as a drama—a kind of sacred drama. Well, I think they had better keep the drama to themselves, and leave the Book to its own simplicity and beauty, and not introduce mere terms of a very low and earthly kind. It is an authentic discussion; it is a grand debate. It is not the problem of how it is the wicked are allowed to flourish now, sometimes, and to await the judgment of God afterward; but here we have the far more serious question: How is it that the righteous suffer now so much; is it consistent with God's justice that a righteous man should suffer more than any other man? Well, that is the very thing discussed in this Book, and the object is to show that it is not only that there is a God perfectly righteous and good, but there is an enemy perfectly malicious and subtle and active
Now this is all brought out in a Book entirely outside Israel. The wonder is as to the Rationalists and the Jews -for they had their Rationalists quite as much as Christendom has its Rationalists now; they were the persons who were always lowering the word, humanizing the word, and, further, attaching tradition to it, and all sorts of stories invented to improve the word of God, and make it palatable to the readers, who were not satisfied with the truth, but were as fond of anecdotes then as people are now, who cannot be happy with the gospel unless they have these stories about men.
Here we have the Spirit of God in this wonderful Book bringing out fact. The Jews did not like it; and you can quite understand that. What! a Gentile spoken of in stronger terms than Jacob, our father Jacob, Israel! Scripture shows Jacob to have been a very uncertain man; a true child of God, but a man whose flesh was very little broken, and a man who was naturally prone to the sly ways — ‘slim,' I believe, is the modern word for it—the sly ways of his mother and her brother, and all connected with the chosen race. Jacob inherited a little of that blood, and in consequence of not being self-judging, submitting to God and confiding in God, he often brought himself into very great scrapes, and tried to get out of them by very uncomely ways.
All this indeed reads us a very important lesson, but it is quite a different one in the Book of Job. Here is a man whom God Himself brings before Satan. We have a most remarkable scene—that which I have read to you to-night—where “the sons of God” came together, we may say, to spew their homage to God Himself in heaven. You know “the sons of God” are employed as messengers; and according to this we have a very graphic view of a particular day when they came—the day, not merely a day. It is not either in the Revised, or the Authorized Version, but it is the word that is intended. Now these “sons of God” were clearly angels, and these angels were busy with their mission of God's goodness and mercy; for He loves to employ others; we have that now blessedly shown. Why, we every one of us have, our work; every one of us has his mission; we have all a mission from Christ, the most simple brother and sister too. We are members in the body of Christ, and each member has its own function. It is a very interesting thing that God employs the members of Christ's body to do what He could have done without them. He loves to trust them; He loves to exercise them; He loves that they should learn their place, and that they should fulfill their mission during this little while that we are waiting for Christ. That gives a great dignity to the place of the Christian, and also a very solemn responsibility. That is a part of God's ways.
Now it appears that there was a day when the angels came, and Satan was allowed to come among them. That is an astonishing fact not at all confined to this scripture. We have it even in the Revelation, the last Book of the New Testament. There we find the day is coming when Satan and all his host are to be turned out of the heavens. And we find it is a doctrine laid down in the Epistle to the Ephesians that we have to contend with these powers of evil not merely on the earth, but having that great advantage against the believer of possessing a place in the heavens. Why is it that Christians generally do not believe that? Because they believe themselves and not God. Because they listen to what they call theology instead of the Bible, and the consequence is they are getting to lose all touch of divine truth; they are getting more and more into the belief of not only men's notions of the Bible, but of fables and ideas that are entirely unfounded. The fact is there is nothing that shows more the power of God and the patience of God than this, that the great Evil One and his emissaries are allowed still access to the heavens. They are not cast into hell yet; they are not merely thrown down to be only on the earth. We know that is a thing that will be, but not till we have ascended t o heaven Some people have the idea that they are turned out of heaven to make way for us, but that is quite contrary to Scripture. The removal of the glorified saints to heaven is before God overthrows the Evil One and his host, before He turns them out and casts them down to the earth, never allowed to get back to heaven again. And it is because God has absolute power to do it in a moment that He does that; because He is carrying on a grand work; and a part of that which brings out His wonderful ways is the allowed presence of sin. He gives Satan every advantage because He turns all his malice and all his power to the furtherance of His own way with His children; and the remarkable thing is that which we find in this Book of Job.
There is a very strong confirmation of it in a scene that is described in the first Book of Kings, and I only refer to that to confirm it, namely, where it speaks (chap. 22.) of Micaiah, the man that the wicked king could not endure because he never had a good thing to say to him. That is, Micaiah was not a flatterer. Kings do not like any but flatterers as a rule, and this prophet greatly vexed the wicked king. And alas! the good king Jehoshaphat failed in that very thing that we are apt to fail in now—fellowship between light and darkness, fellowship between the right people and the wrong; fellowship with that which is utterly opposed to God, in a kind of amiable way that does not give us any very great trouble. We like the easy path, we do not like the strait path, we do not like the path that requires faith, and it is to our own loss. Well, in this case, Micaiah, when he is brought to the point, speaks of a similar scene to what you have here. There God puts the question: “Who will go and deceive Ahab?” —that was the idolatrous king of Israel, “Who will deceive him?” —the one Jehoshaphat made his friendship with, to his own sorrow and to the dishonor of the Lord, and with no good to Ahab, for he fell; he was not won a single inch into that which pleased God. The good conduct of Jehoshaphat in no way did good to Ahab, but on the contrary Ahab drew Jehoshaphat into what was unworthy of God and of a child of God. The evil spirit said that he would go and deceive Ahab. He wrought, no doubt, by Ahab's false prophets.
Peter speaks of “false teachers” doing the same bad work that the false prophets did in Israel.
False “teachers” because the truth has come. They were false “prophets” when the truth was not yet come, when Christ had not yet appeared, when all was in the future. But now the solemn and blessed truth is, the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding to know Him that is true. It is therefore a question of teaching now. There is nothing so destructive as what is false, what is contrary to God and His word. Morality, a man of the world can judge, and what is more, he may be a bad specimen in outward appearance; but that is altogether different from the character of Job.
Here we have Job spoken of not merely by the writer, but by God Himself in the strongest terms. The writer says, “There was a man in the land of Uz” (which you know was near Edom, on the borders of Edom, and apparently the friends of Job all came from that quarter more or less), the great desert on the eastern side of Palestine, between Palestine and the Euphrates, where the Bedouins are constantly moving up and down—the nomad races, some of them descendants of Abraham, indeed some of Ishmael. And it is said, “that man was perfect” —meaning by that, not that there was no evil; that is not the meaning of “perfect” in Scripture at all, but in the Old Testament it is the word for a man being thoroughly sound—a sound man, not merely a moralist, but a man who was right with God. And besides being sound in that way, he was “upright” with man. “Perfect and upright” showed relations, one to God, and the other to men. Both ought to go together. The great feature of it was, “fearing God.” Another great feature was that it answered to these other terms—refusing or shunning evil. “Eschewing” you know is the old English for shunning. He avoided it; he would have nothing to do with it. So that there you have the fear of God, the great root of his being sound or “perfect"; and refusing evil, the great mark of his being “upright.” And then we have his family description.
But the remarkable thing is this great trial—and very comforting to us it is—the most remarkable that ever took place upon the earth, except the trial of Christ. With that the Book of Job stands in contrast. What we have here is a man greatly tried by Satan. But what were all the temptations of Job compared with those of the Lord? And I take it not merely the temptations of Job, but the end-the end of Job was that he found God full of pity, and of tender mercy; but the end of the Lord Jesus in this world was the cross. Job was brought down to the dust in agony, but Christ was brought down to the dust of death. The Lord speaks of Himself (Psalm 22) as a worm; and what was that judgment that fell upon Him when on the cross? What was all the frightful state of Job's body compared with the judgment of our sins?
Between the two there is another thing. We shall find in this Book—I am anticipating now, but in an introductory lecture you must expect that—Job allowed himself language and thought about God that was the greatest dishonor to Job. It was not only that he cursed his day, which was, of course, extreme failure, and a failure that is very profitable for us to note. What was Job more remarkable for than any man upon the earth of his day? Patience. “Ye have heard of the patience of Job"; that is the very thing in which he broke down. He became impatient with his friends—and I must admit they were a most trying set, those three men, and there was everything to fill Job with indignation at their bad thoughts of him; because what they were thinking all through was that he must have been guilty of some terrible unknown sin, unknown to them, that was the cause of all this suffering. That was the orthodox idea of that day, and it is so still. If there is anything very trying that happens, there must be something wrong with that man! If he is very ill spoken of, ‘Oh, well, with smoke there must be a little fire' say these sages of evil.
Now it is remarkable that God gave this Book for the purpose of uprooting all that superficial folly; all those utterly unkind, ungracious thoughts of men, in order to make another thing, totally different, manifest, namely, that whatever may be the power of Satan, God is the one that is at the helm, and God is the one that makes it all turn, eventually, for the blessing of the tried man, and for the glory of God. So that it is only the beginning of a circle in its own way—in very early days—because, as I have already observed, only, perhaps, one book, the Book of Genesis, was then written. Certainly no more, in my opinion; and yet for all that, in Job we have one of the grandest books that ever was written. I mean even in the Bible. I do not count it with other books; what are they to be accounted?—but the Bible even. There is nothing more astonishing for those who will fairly look into that Book; and therefore I hope there may be some who will become more intimately acquainted with it than they have been.
It is no use my speaking unless that should be the result. That is the object I have; and, along with that, blessing to our souls. Here it is eminently God on the one hand, man and Satan on the other. You must not think of an old tract that used to be in circulation amongst us, written by a very dear Christian, but under a very great mistake, which maintained that Job was only converted at the end of his life. Nonsense Job was converted from the very first time that God spoke. Do you think that God would speak of an unconverted man in the terms that I am about to read now? “Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth?” (ver. 8). You can understand that the Jews did not like that. None like Job. A Gentile, according to the story, according to the book, according to the truth; none like him. Yet it was so.
It is not, beloved friends, the amount of truth that any man knows, on which his state before God turns, but the using of it excellently. You will find men who know a great deal of truth utterly without principle; utterly without the fear of God. You will find men who know a great deal, and all they use it for is merely to exalt themselves. Sometimes for money, sometimes for a name. But all that is most hateful to God. Here we find a man that did not and could not know much in these days, but still he made the best use of it
He lived in the faith of it, in the faith of God Himself; and the result was there was none like him in the earth—a perfect man and an upright man, “one that feared God and eschewed evil”
There you have God's endorsement of what the inspired writer said about him. The idea that he was not a converted man! It just shows how when people get a notion into their head it governs them. They get the idea that conversion means justification. Now that is not what conversion means at all. Conversion properly and truly means the first turning to God; at the time when we are still a great deal behind, when we may have no proper faith in redemption, when we may not know that our sins are blotted out. But really we have a new light; we hate our sins; we acknowledge our sins, and turn to God. It is the beginning; it is not the end. There is, of course, another use of the word, that is when we turn back again after we leave Him; but that does not apply to Job, for Job had not left God up to this time; and he did not turn away from God at this time either. He was in the direst trouble, and no wonder; because Christ was not come; the work of redemption was not accomplished; how could he have that peace and that liberty which we are entitled to through faith not only in Christ, but in the work of Christ?
And this is one of the great objects of the Book; to show that no matter how good a man may seem, if he is put to the proof about what he is himself, in his own heart, he will break down. It will be my lot to show the particulars of this another day; but now we have merely passed before us here this great truth; and it is quite a key to difficulties of all kinds. It is God that really takes the initiative, not Satan. God is the one that moves in this; and if it led to Job's being so terribly tried, yet what a comfort to have known this! Job did not know it; that is what we know; this is what the word shows here; but Job had no idea that before all this trial came upon him in the earth there was a scene in heaven about him!
Do you think it is only of Job that God thinks? Do you think that God is not thinking of every one of you now, and that in the presence of the evil angel? Do you suppose that this was something entirely exceptional? The account of it was, the allowance of it was, the special circumstances of it were peculiar; but the principle is the same for every believer. God in His sovereign love and grace takes a pleasure in His children, far more than we take in any of ours. And you know what that is for a parent. Well now, God takes more pleasure in you—not merely in Job—in you. I grant we do not deserve it; that is another thing altogether. Love does not count up deserts at all. Love goes out because God is love, and for His own glory in Christ the Lord. Now He is able to do it righteously; able to do it effectively. But here there was tremendous suffering before Christ came in, and before the full light of God came. God allowed all that; nevertheless it was He that began it; and, if God begins, how will He end? Worthily of Himself. It is not merely patching up; it is not merely repairing, but a radical work of self-judgment in the soul.
God, in His wonderful ways, is not one that waits for the devil at all. He begins. God had a child of His; and when this subtle, active, malicious foe came, in his restless roamings backward and forward on the earth to do mischief, God said “Look at my servant Job.” The enemy felt that as a challenge to him, as it were. God first of all laid down a certain restriction, and this He always does. He allows it only to a certain extent; and in this case it was to be to a very remarkable extent, that it might be a lesson forever after this Book was written; that it might cast a light on all the great struggle of good and evil, for every child of God from that day to this.
“And Satan answered Jehovah and said, Doth Job fear God for naught?” It is only a bit of selfishness; it is only for his own ends. How did he judge that? From himself. Oh, it is a dangerous thing to judge anything from ourselves. It is a blessed thing to judge from God's word. “Hast thou not made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. And Jehovah said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power.” God allowed him to try. “Only upon himself put not forth thine hand.”
That was the first trial. Here we have light upon a very important thing. Satan showed himself to God, but he hides himself from men, to deceive all the more. We read that a messenger came, when everything was prosperous. No man in that part of the East was so prosperous as Job; he was the man that must be brought down to the dust. The same thing with his sons and daughters. There they were. We have a beautiful picture here of social happiness and family enjoyment, which is a thing that God takes pleasure in, but it all came to naught, and it all came to naught also as to his substance. Everything—children, the dearest of all that Job had—and also all his property. “The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them, and the Sabeans fell upon them” —they were a people in that part of the country who used, to keep moving upwards from the south to the north” and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.” While that man was speaking, word came—and this was not the Sabeans, nor the Chaldeans— “The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep.” The flocks, of course, were vast compared with the herds, and they were all consumed, and the servants too. And while he was speaking, there came one and told him about the Chaldeans. They were enemies, plunderers at that time from the east, as the Sabeans were from the south; and they fell upon the camels, a very valuable part of Job's property, and carried them away. He only was escaped to tell the sad tale. And then came the last stroke of all—a whirlwind that attacked the house on all four sides. No ordinary wind would do that. And it fell upon and destroyed all assembled there on that very day—the festal day that they were holding together.
And how did it affect Job? Very few converted men now would act as Job did then. “Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground and worshipped.” Now he was a most affectionate man, and he was a man full of graciousness even to strangers. What was it for him to lose all, not merely his property, but every soul of the family, outside his own house? And he said “Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: Jehovah gave, and Jehovah hath taken away, blessed be the name of Jehovah.” You cannot conceive a more happy and decided expression of entire godliness from a deeply tried soul. “In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly,” that is, in a way that was contrary to all propriety.
The next chapter (2.) brings the further trial. Satan came again: he had failed the first time; now he says ‘Ah! it is himself. He does not mind his family; he does mind himself a great deal. Himself is a nearer thing than all his property and all his children.' There you have this untiring wicked one turning everything to malice and falsehood. I need not go into the details, but we have there the terrible effect. Now said he, ‘A man will do anything for self. Skin for skin. He may not mind this or that, however close it may be to him. The skin is, you know, just outside. But only just touch his flesh and his bones; touch him thoroughly, to the quick, inside, and then see what all his piety will come to!' And the Lord allowed it. Only, He said, ' You must not kill him.' If God had allowed Satan to kill him it would have put an end to all the trial. It was not at all that God forbade the killing to spare Job; it is exactly what Job would have liked; for he expresses his deep grief that he was not allowed to die. It was, he said, a terrible thing that he was allowed to be born, to come into all this. If he were born, why would not God allow him to die? That would be the greatest relief. He had fully the thought of going to be with God—no other. But it was God allowing all this tremendous trial, which was a picture of the most complete suffering and bitter agony and pain, night and day. And there he was, as people have presented him, on his ash heap; for he was scraping himself in this awful agony from head to foot.
Many of you know what it is to have a raging toothache; that is a very small thing comparatively—the tooth only. And yet many a one has found it very hard to bear, and has made tolerable outcry, and all the house, perhaps, has been troubled about that toothache. Well, think of this. It is not as if all the teeth were raging; that would be nothing, comparatively; it is not as if all the toes were troubled with gout, although that also is a thing very trying to bear; but the whole body from head to foot in every part of it; not an exception; the most tremendous disease known, among the diseases of a terrible character in the Eastern world. This most pious of men was allowed of God to come into it for the purpose of doing him far greater good than if he had never had any of these trials. That is what comes out in the Book. And, accordingly, even then Job did not sin. He had been even now not only marked by the greatest grace in his prosperity, but by the most exemplary patience in his adversity. If God had stopped there, there would have been no lesson at all, comparatively. It would only have turned to Job's glory.
But there was something with God (now that all this had taken place) which Satan knew nothing about, which Satan had no idea of whatever; but God knew it. There was something in the heart of Job that needed to come out, and the object of that appears. We see God orders that three devoted friends of Job should come. They heard of it. In the Eastern world news spreads very fast, especially bad news. They all knew that something terrible had happened to their dear and respected friend Job, and from different parts of the country they appoint, and they come together simultaneously. And the awful plight of Job so struck them that they could do nothing but weep and rend their clothes, and sit upon the ground, as we are told, for seven days, with not a word to Job. They came there to console him; but they were so shocked that they began to allow in their hearts that Job must be guilty of something terrible. How was it possible that God would allow this if there were not some shocking sin that they knew nothing about!
There they were all wrong. But this very thing brought a great shame to Job. The lack of one word of pity; the lack of anything of consolation from his friends, brought out what very often happens. A man will bear grief and bow under it when he is alone, but when other persons come from whom he expects sympathy, who on the contrary show distrust—well, Job was quick enough to show that he could not stand that. Job then did not curse God. Oh, no, he did not then fall into what the devil thought he would do, but he cursed his own day, cursed his own lot. I do not say that that was proper; I do not say so, far from it. But still, that was the issue of this, that Job then opened his mouth. After seven days of silence, seven days of utter stupefaction at the enormity of his sufferings on the part of his dearest friends—well, we must not be surprised that he broke out.
I need not go into every word of the chapter, but it is all to this effect: “Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, there is a man child conceived. Let that day be darkness” (3: 3, 4). And so he speaks in highly poetic language, and in language of deep emotion. That is the real character of poetry of the best kind; it is the language of deep feeling and emotion. And Job breaks out into that language—a kind of poetic prose which the Book carries out till very nearly the end. But the great point is the mourning over this terrible lot of his, that he was ever allowed to come into the world to bear such awful suffering. Where do you find that in Christ? “For this cause was I sent.” The Lord accepts it; He felt, deeply felt; was troubled in spirit. He felt it, but also He accepted it. For this cause He had come. But not so Job. He could not understand—although his sufferings were not to be compared with those of Christ—why a holy God should allow such suffering. It was inexplicable to Job.
So we have in a very beautiful manner, to the end of the chapter, this idea in various points of view. You observe therefore that I am not going to enter into every phrase minutely in this Book; that would take me a very considerable time; but I am going to give what I think is a substantial view of the mind of God, as far as I have learned it, to help my brethren who may not have fully weighed the lessons of God in it. And I shall take, therefore, each part of the remainder of the Book, ‘the attack' I may call it, the insinuation, the blame of these friends of Job; their expostulation because of his grief, and their suspicion of something wrong at the bottom of it; and Job's answer. I shall take these throughout the rest of the Book until we come to a part where they are all silenced. Job has the last word; the friends are silenced and a new man enters the scene; and then after that Jehovah appears as the Arbiter of this great debate; and finally the grand winding up and solution of it all; Job vindicated after he owned his fault; Job acknowledging it fully, which his friends did not. They were not broken down as Job was; but they were sorry to be found altogether wrong; and there they were, biting their lips or their tongues through vexation; and they had to be prayed for, they had to be delivered at the intercession of Job; we shall see that at the close. But this may now suffice.
[W. K.]


In Proverbs 14:23, we read: “In all labor there is profit; but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury.” Even as regards prayer, in which we are exhorted to continue and to watch therein with thanksgiving (Colossians 4:2) there is such a thing as “laboring fervently,” as Epaphras did, of whom the apostle writes as “a servant of Christ,” whose heart's desire was that his Colossian brethren might stand perfect and complete in all the will of God (4:12). It will be no talk of the lips, if, instead of thinking of our prayers as something meritorious, we remember the One we are privileged to address, the Name we are authorized to plead, and who has said, “All things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” What an immense comfort is this! To doubt would he to dishonor Him who “spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all,” for “how shall He not with Him also, freely give us all things.” Paul to the Corinthians speaks of himself as “in labors more abundant,” and to the Colossians, in whom was Christ, the hope of glory, he says: “Whom we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ, whereunto I also labor, striving according to His working which worketh in me mightily” (1:27-29). Let us remember that the reward in the coming day will not be according to the success which the servant may here have seemed to have achieved, but “every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor.”
In Romans 16:12, amongst the salutations, Tryphena and Tryphosa are alluded to as, “who labor in the Lord,” and “the beloved Persis who labored much in the Lord,” and in Philippians 4:3, these “women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and other my fellow laborers, whose names are in the book of life,” which blessed fact as to themselves had not rendered them careless about those who have no hope. The apostle “labored and suffered reproach because he had his trust in the living God who is the Savior (or Preserver) of all men, specially of those who believe,” a ground of confidence infinitely to be preferred to uncertain riches “Your work of faith and labor of love” are remembered along with “the patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of God and our Father” 1 Thessalonians 1:3). “God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love which ye have showed toward His Name, in that ye have ministered to the saints and do minister” (Hebrews 6:10). Truly labor in the Lord has many a sphere for its activities.
Besides the foregoing there is a labor we are apt to neglect, namely, a labor to enter into that rest “which remaineth for the people of God.” Doubtless we shall better do so if “we labor that whether present or absent we may be accepted of Him,” or as another has translated it, “Wherefore also we are zealous, whether present or absent, to be agreeable to Him” (1 Cor. 5:8). If we wish to serve well our God and Father and the Lord Jesus, such service has, of course, its cares, but these are included in the “casting all your care” upon Him. It has its secrets, as John 2:9 shows: “the servants who drew the water knew,” and in result it should lead to increased communion. Much more might be written on this subject, but let this suffice: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:38).
W. N. T.

The Minister of the Sanctuary

When the apostle is showing how the sympathies of our Great High Priest are in constant exercise towards His suffering and sorrowing saints, he shows, at the same time, how the Lord's own pilgrimage through this world perfected Him as the lowly and obedient Man for the performance of this blessed part of His present priestly functions. Hence, we read: “In that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.” “We have not an high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” “Though he were a son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered, and, being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Hebrews 2:18; 4:15; 5:8, 9).
In this manner the Spirit of God instructs the believer as to the perfect way in which the great Sympathizer is qualified to help him through a lifetime of suffering, which is the direct result of a life of pious obedience. The pathway of the lowly Nazarene, so incomprehensible to the ordinary Jewish mind, is by this means turned to account, as it were, for the saints' blessing.
But there is another requirement of the Christian life which is contemplated in this Epistle, also forming in itself a contrast with what was true in Old Testament days. Just as the walk is one of adversity in contrast with worldly ease and prosperity, so the worship of the believer is spiritual and heavenly in contrast with what was carnal and earthly with the Jew. And the Epistle goes on to develop how the Lord Jesus, as the minister of the sanctuary on high, supplies every weakness and deficiency of the saint in this respect also.
The believer learns, therefore, that if meekness characterized the Lord Jesus on earth, majesty crowns Him in heaven. He is our High Priest. But what a Priest! He has passed through the heavens and taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty there. The glory of the Aaronic priesthood, in spite of its impressive ritual, its brilliant robes and its venerable lineage, all paled before the splendors of the new Priest that had arisen. For the one saluted by God as High Priest was of the order of Melchisedec, and not of the order of Aaron at all. And the seventh chapter of the Epistle demonstrates the exceeding superiority of this order, and hence of Him who is pre-eminently of this order-Jesus, the Son of God, our ever-living Priest before the face of God.
Now, the apostle shows how this heavenly Priest suits us, and that not because of the sorrows of our pilgrimage, but because of the dignity of our worship. It is our privilege to draw near to God, even into His immediate presence—the holiest of all (Hebrews 10:19-22). How can we do so? How can we act becomingly in the sanctuary? Because we, poor and feeble ones as we are, have this great High Priest over the House of God, and “he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). In coming near to God, therefore (for the verse, of course, applies not to sinners, but to saints), we are permitted to do so with boldness, because whatever the greatness of our infirmities He is able to save to the uttermost.
Because, therefore, of the intimacy of our heavenly relationships and exercises, we need such an One on high for us. Indeed, such a necessity is stated most strikingly in the scripture itself: “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens” (Hebrews 7:26). The fact that we have been made holy, and partakers of the heavenly calling, in contrast with the ancient earthly people, made it necessary for there to be one to represent us on high and to intercede for us in our approach to God. Such an One, exactly suited to the spiritual worship now introduced, we ever have in our adorable Lord.
Christ, then, is in the sanctuary above for us. His priesthood is superior to that of Aaron or Melchisedec, though it is of the order (not yet of the exercise) of the latter. The sphere of His priestly service is in heaven, not on earth, but in the holies above, the true tabernacles “which the Lord pitched and not man.”
“No temple made with hands
His place of service is;
In heaven itself He stands,
A heavenly priesthood His.
In Him the shadows of the law
Are all fulfilled, and now withdraw.”
An earthly sanctuary, therefore, has now no place nor meaning according to the Epistle to the Hebrews. The sanctuary has been changed as well as the priesthood. And the holy place on high is the sphere of the Lord's service.
His priesthood was not of the order that ministered in the holy place below. “If he were on earth,” the apostle says, "he should not be a priest” (Hebrews 8:4). On the contrary, He has obtained a “more excellent ministry” (Hebrews 8:6), which He exercises in the sanctuary on high.
“The blessedness of the ministry of Him who ministers for us in the true tabernacle, is, that it is entirely independent of us. It is by Him for us. Our conscious enjoyment of it will depend, indeed, on our walk, on our humbleness, on our self-judgment, on many things; but the ministry itself depends alone on our unfailing High Priest. He is a faithful minister, ever performing His functions in a manner well-pleasing to God.”
W. J. H.

The War and Prophecy: Part 1

“The word of God presents to us the coming of the Lord under several aspects. After His first coming as man here below, we have His coming from heaven as the Morning Star to receive His own to Himself. Then His coming when He will come out of heaven with His armies, to smite the nations, with the beast and the false prophet. Then His coming when He will be seen by His own on the mount of Olives and deliver them from the Assyrian. Finally, in our passage, His coming in glory with all the saints to establish the kingdom and lay the foundation of His government. This will be the moment when He will sit on the throne of His glory, and when all the nations will be assembled before Him to be rewarded or judged according to His retributive justice (Matthew 25:31-46).”
From other scriptures we learn other facts as to this closing period, just before the millennial blessing is established on a peaceful and permanent basis. We find in Isaiah 63 and 64, the Lord's return from the terrible judgment which will take place in the land of Edom. This judgment is executed by Jehovah Himself upon the armies of the nations who are assembled against Jerusalem, and who find themselves in Edom on account of the movements of their armies. Edom itself is dealt with by Israel, as we shall see just now. This is the day of Jehovah's vengeance, the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion. It is the day of vengeance on Jehovah's enemies, and the year of His redeemed the time of deliverance for His people.
Edom, as a nation, had been characterized by pride and bitter hatred against the people of God, and they rejoiced at the calamities which overtook Israel. But if God finds it necessary to chasten His people, He does so for their good; and it is always a wrong thing to rejoice over the evils which come upon God's people, even if they deserve chastening. Three nations are said to escape out of the hand of the desolating king of the North (Dan. 11:41), namely, Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon. These nations were borderers on Israel's territory, and connected with them by distant ties of relationship; but they had a special malice against God's people, therefore God uses Israel to deal with them in judgment at the close. Thus we read, “they (Israel) shall lay their hand upon Edom and Moab; and the children of Ammon shall obey them” (Isaiah 11:14).
Again, Ezekiel says, “I will lay my vengeance upon Edom by the hand of my people Israel and they shall do to Edom according to mine anger and my fury: and they shall know my vengeance, saith the Lord God” (25: 14). So also the prophet Obadiah brings before us the implacable hatred of Edom against Israel, and their rejoicing over God's chastisement of His erring people: but he shows us also God's deep displeasure against Edom on account of this animosity. Further, it is a remarkable fact that, while a remnant of the other nations will come in for blessing in a future day, Edom will not— “Edom shall be a desolation: every one that goeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss at the plagues thereof” (Jeremiah 49:17). Because of their perpetual hatred of God's people, He says, “When the whole earth rejoiceth, I will make thee (Edom) desolate” (Ezek. 35:14). Let us take the moral of it to heart, for we may easily fall into the same kind of spirit as the Edomite. Jeremiah saw the failures and sins of God's people, but he wept over them; Daniel and other godly men confessed them as their own; but the spirit of the Edomite is that of bitter hatred against those who, however they may have failed, are nevertheless the people of God. This spirit is particularly displeasing to Him.
Scripture clearly shows that the future blessing which is in store for this earth, and which will be brought in under Christ as the true Messiah of Israel, will be preceded by a series of judgments, and will not be brought about by the preaching of the gospel, as some suppose. It is when God's judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness (Isaiah 26:9). The gospel of God's grace which is preached now, has quite another object, namely, to bring souls to Christ, and to gather out of the world a people for His name
It is important, too, that we should distinguish between the “day of the Lord,” so often spoken of in the prophets, and the “coming of the Lord,” for which we wait. The former is a day of darkness, gloominess, and judgment, when God will assert His rights over this world, so long under the dominion of Satan, its god and prince. The latter is the bright and blessed culmination of all the Christian's joys, the climax of his hope, and the cheer and sustainment to his faith as he passes through this Christ-rejecting world, waiting for God's Son from heaven.
This fact, that the kingdom will be preceded by judgment, explains what is a difficulty to some people, that is, what are sometimes called the “imprecatory psalms.” Owing to not understanding the difference between the Christian and the Jewish dispensations, and applying to the one what belongs to the other, some are led into confusion and error. We (Christians) do not look for judgment in the world; on the contrary, our place is rather to suffer, if called on to do so; and to be earnest in seeking the conversion of souls, out of the world. When the Lord comes, we leave the world to go to be with Him in heaven. But when it is a question of the government of the world, God must act in righteousness and put down evil. Israel will, therefore, rightly look for His judgment on their enemies, because they cannot have their rest and blessing on earth until the wicked are put down.
Another remarkable event connected with the appearing of the Lord in glory- will be the RETURN OF THE TEN TRIBES OF ISRAEL. The last notice of them in scripture is given us in that instructive chapter, 2 Kings 17, where the history of God's patience and forbearance on the one hand, and their sins and follies on the other, is brought before us. It was their sins and idolatry which were the cause of all the calamities which came upon them, as the word “therefore,” which sums it all up in verse 18, plainly shows— “Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight.” So also we find in 1 Chronicles 5:26, “The God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul, king of Assyria, and the spirit of Tilgath-pilneser, king of Assyria, and he carried them away... and brought them unto Halah, and Habor, and Hara, and to the river Gozan,” etc. Remark it was God who stirred up the spirit of these kings; and thus they were deported to Assyria. This is one of the places mentioned in Zecheriah 10:10, from which they will be brought back in a future day.
These ten tribes, therefore, were not in the land (with rare exceptions) at the time when Christ was crucified, and for this reason they are not directly guilty of having put Him to death. They do not pass through the conflicts of the three and a half years which we have been considering, but are brought back just at the close. We get some light on this subject in Ezek. 20, where God says He will gather them out of the countries where they are scattered, with a mighty hand, and will bring them into the wilderness of the peoples, and will plead with them face to face. There they will be purged from the rebels who are amongst them, separating a remnant, and God will accept them and require offerings at their hands. From Isaiah 49:18-23, we learn that the Jews (i.e., the two tribes) will again recognize Israel (the ten tribes), saying, “Who hath begotten me these... these, where had they been?” God will put it into the heart of the nations in that day to bring back these lost ones to their land, in order that they may be made ready to receive their Messiah—at least the godly ones amongst them (compare Jeremiah 16:15; Ezek. 11:16-21; Micah 3:8; Isaiah 49:21). Infidels and skeptics may say—How can this be, seeing that they have disappeared amongst the other nations? But we know that God has His eye upon them, and in His time the great trumpet will be blown, and they will be once more restored to their land.
We have now arrived, in our brief study, as far as THE COMING OF THE SON OF MAN IN POWER AND GLORY. “When the Son of man shall come in his glory and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all the nations” (Matthew 25:31, 32). Scripture shows that all judgment is committed to the Son of man (John 5:22); but it is important that we should clearly understand that those who appear before this judgment throne are not people who have died, but living nations on earth at that time. Christ will deal with those nations according to the way they treated those ministers or servants whom He sent out during the period of trial and persecution just preceding; and whom He calls here, “these my brethren.” Those who received them, in so doing, received Him and will pass into the blessing of the millennial kingdom. Those who rejected them, rejected Him, and will depart into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. Such is the sentence of the King who sits on His throne.
Judgment is, indeed, His “strange work,” for He delights in mercy; but all rebellion and opposition must be put down before Christ reigns in righteousness and peace. When He comes in glory, His appearing will be sudden and vivid as lightning, and He will gather together His elect (i.e., the elect of Israel) from all parts. It will be a solemn day for the world, but a blessed time for His oppressed and persecuted people. The Lord Himself confessed before the high priest, “Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”
Let us here give a brief resume of the events of this closing period just before the millennial reign begins. We have the testimony borne in Revelation 1:7, “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” Chapter 19 of the same book, where we find heaven opened for the last time in scripture, gives us Christ coming in warrior-judgment, with all the majesty and glory which belongs to Him as King of kings and Lord of lords. His eyes are as a flaming fire—piercing and penetrating He is the royal Victor, crowned with many crowns, and having a name which no one knows but Himself. Truly man as well as God, His person is inscrutable, no one could sound the deep mystery of His being; but, revealed in judgment, His name is declared to be the “WORD OF GOD.” A sharp sword proceeds out of His mouth, and He treads the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath of God Almighty.
The first stroke of His judgment falls upon the head of the revived Roman Empire (the first beast of Revelation 13) and on the false prophet or Antichrist (the second beast of Revelation 13) who was linked with him. These two leaders of Satanic power and craft, being taken in the act of open rebellion and war against Christ, are cast alive into the lake of fire, without further judgment; the remnant, that is, their followers and those who compose their armies, are slain. The judgment of Gog we have already spoken of (see Ezek. 39; Isaiah 30:31-33; Dan. 11:45, etc.); and in Joel 3 we have God's judgment of the nations in the valley of Jehoshaphat, where He sits to “judge all the nations round about.”
Here let us pause for a moment. It is always a solemn and humbling thing to contemplate God's actings in judgment. Solemn, because who can withstand the Almighty when He arises in vengeance and in judgment? Humbling, when we think what depths of wickedness and folly man is capable of; and we ourselves should be the same but for His infinite grace!
In view of what we have sought to bring before the reader from the prophetic word, we may here venture a few general remarks as to the present position of matters in Europe.
We have seen that there are two main groups of powers referred to, (1) the revived Roman Empire with its ten subordinate kingdoms in the West, closely leagued with the Antichrist in Jerusalem; (2) the Assyrian confederation, or Gog and his allies, in the East and North.
We cannot well see how Germany, which has been of recent years much the strongest military power in the world, can ultimately maintain her position, seeing that she does not come within the field of the prophetic scriptures in any definite way. Is it likely that such a power would not be the subject of special notice, if it existed as such at the close of the dispensation?
The Austrian empire, which is a kind of conglomeration of smaller nations, will probably break up. Russia will doubtless gain an ascendency over what is now the Turkish empire, as well as over Greece and Macedonia. England, France, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, etc., will form a part of the confederation of European powers under the Roman beast.
But all that is now taking place is in the hand of One who, though He moves behind the scenes, moves all the scenes which He is behind. Man's will, and even Satan's power, can but subserve the accomplishment of His purposes.
THE MILLENNIUM.—-The various acts of judgment to which we have referred, prepare the way for the millennium by the putting down of evil and what is opposed to God. But before we enter upon our subject, let us briefly consider the state of the people of God in that day, preparatory to Christ's reign.
We have already seen that there will be a faithful remnant of Israel, as well as a company of Gentiles, who will identify themselves with them, preserved and kept by God's power, and who will be looking for the Messiah, in spite of all the machinations of their enemies. Though Israel should “abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim” (Hosea 3:4), yet, afterward they will return and seek the LORD, and David (type of Christ) their king. What a remarkable testimony this is to what has actually taken place, and what will yet take place! They will say, “Come, let us return unto the LORD; for he hath broken, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us; and the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight” (Hosea 6: 1, 2). The “third day” is the day when God intervenes in power.
We find a figurative representation of this future restoration of the nation in Ezekiel, in the vision of the “valley of dry bones” (chap. 37.). God brings life and blessing to His once torn and scattered people. And it is worthy of note also that, when Hezekiah, after his deliverance from the Assyrian, was sick unto death, and prayed to the Lord for his recovery, the prophet was sent to him with the message; “Behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up into the house of the LORD” (2 Kings 20:5). He is here, no doubt, a type of Israel, delivered through God's marvelous interposition; raised up to life again, so to speak, and going up to worship in His house “on the third day.”
But the prophetic testimony which speaks of that blessed day for Israel, and for this earth, when they shall be restored to their own land is so abundant, that it would be quite beyond our space to refer to it in detail. One thing which is very striking about it is that these promises of future blessing are often abruptly brought in, just after speaking of the chastisement God had to bring upon them for their sins. Frequently they are introduced with the words “I will,” do so and so. This shows us that the blessing of the people is on the ground of pure grace and sovereign mercy; it is also a touching evidence of God's willingness to forgive, yea, His delight to bless, wherever there is real repentance and self-judgment.
The work of repentance and contrition on account of their terrible guilt in crucifying their own Messiah, produced by the Spirit of God acting in the hearts of the godly remnant of Israel in that day, will be very deep and real. We have a very striking picture of this in Zechariah 12:10-14. It is not, there, a question of outside enemies or circumstances, but one between the soul and Christ Himself. What bitter sorrow they will feel as they “look on him whom they have pierced,” and realize, as they have never yet done, what they have been guilty of. Every family mourns apart, and their wives apart; such is their individual contrition; and, by a strong figure of speech, even the land is said to mourn.
The title “millennium” means simply the thousand years, and is quite correct, so far as it goes; because, as we learn from Revelation 20 Christ's reign over the earth will last for that space of time. It will be a reign of righteousness and peace; “A king shall reign in righteousness,” “and the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever. And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places” (Isaiah 32). Being a reign of righteousness, wherever evil shows itself during the millennium, it will be dealt with in righteous judgment at once. The glorified saints will be associated with Christ in His reign. The seat and center of government will be Jerusalem, which “shall be safely inhabited.” To it those who are left of the nations shall go up year by year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. The temple will be built on mount Zion, not on mount Moriah as of old.
Many of the psalms give us notes of praise and triumph which will be sung in that day to celebrate the Lord whose mercy towards His people endureth forever, and whose praises will be found connected with Zion, the place of God's own choice and of His triumphant grace toward Israel.
But it would carry us much beyond the scope of this paper to look at more than two or three passages. In Psalm 68 we find: “A mount of God is mount Bashan, a many-peaked mountain is mount Bashan. Why do ye look with envy, ye many-peaked mountains, upon the mount that God hath desired for his abode? (Zion), yea, Jehovah will dwell there forever.” And Psalm 145 looks on to that millennial day when Christ Himself will lead the praises of His people in the midst of the assembly of Israel. So also Isaiah 11 gives us a beautiful description of that time when the “Branch out of the root of Jesse” shall judge the poor in righteousness and maintain the right of the meek with equity, and under whose beneficient sway blessing and peace shall fill the land. Chapter 12 contains the song that shall be sung in that day, when Jah, Jehovah (the existing One objectively, as well as the One who is in special relationship with His people) will be the strength and salvation of His delivered people. It closes with the words: “Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion: for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee.” Such is the exulting praise which shall go up to Him in that day from His redeemed people, for His rich and abounding mercy. Then “the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs, and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”
There will be a manifest, visible display of the glory of God in the heavens, just as the pillar and the cloud marked His presence in the tabernacle of old. Thus we read in Isaiah 4:5: “And Jehovah will create, over every dwelling-place of mount Zion, and over her assemblies, a cloud of smoke by day, and the shining of a flame of fire by night, for over all the glory shall be a canopy.” So, too, we find in Revelation 21, that “the holy city, Jerusalem” (as it should read) comes down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God and her shining was like unto a stone most precious, as it were a jasper stone, clear as crystal.
It does not derive its light from the sun and then give it out to the earth; but, in a fuller way than the pillar of fire and the cloud, the glory of God enlightens it, and the light thereof is the Lamb In this holy city, Jerusalem above, there is no temple; God's presence there is manifested, not shut in; but in Jerusalem below, the temple will be rebuilt, as we see by the account given at the close of Ezekiel. Though the Lord will open the millennial reign in person, yet He will not, we believe, reign exactly on the earth during that time, but over the earth, in connection with it. We would gather from Ezek. 46-48, that there will be a representative, or vicegerent (as we would say) who will represent Him, in the center of God's government at Jerusalem, and who is there called “the prince.”
Satan, long practiced in deceiving men and tempting them to sin and rebellion, and who is undying in his hatred against Christ, will be bound and cast into the bottomless pit or abyss. The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad and shall blossom as the rose. The effect of the curse will be to a certain extent, removed; and it seems probable that death will not be, unless for positive acts of disobedience and sin against God— “the youth shall die an hundred years old, and the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed” (Isaiah 65:20). [F. G. B.]
(Continued from Vol. X. page 378)
(To be continued)


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Lectures on Job 4-5

Lecture 2.—-Chapters. 4-7
Chap. 4:1-8. I shall not read more now, because we shall have it gradually before us. But here the great debate commences, founded upon Job's outbreak, who was now perfectly overcome through the calamity that God had allowed to fall upon him. As a pious man, Job knew very well that God could have prevented it, if He had not a purpose in it of which he himself was wholly ignorant. But it is well to take notice of this before I say more, that Satan completely disappears. He had been utterly foiled. He had been allowed first of all to destroy all that Job possessed, even to his children—his sons and his daughters—all his property was completely swept away. There is hardly a Christian who would not feel that to be a tremendous trial. And there was a greater trial to follow; for when Satan saw that he failed to move Job against God by the destruction of all his possessions and of his family, he was allowed another opportunity for his malice, and that was to inflict the deepest agony upon the person of Job. It would have been a great relief to Job if Satan had been permitted to kill him. Job had no fear at all of what would be after death, but the trial was to be made in this world.
It was not at all a question of what would be hereafter; but Job had to learn—and to teach others by the lesson—that things are not all according to God now; that the foundations are out of course; that some things that are allowed of God are not at all the will of God. Nor are they for the glory of God, except that God, in result, makes them always to subserve His wisdom and His goodness, though outwardly everything appears to go wrong. Now the friends of Job took the totally opposite ground, that it was not at all a bad sort of world, and that on the contrary what happened now was a very good means of judging how God felt about it; that if they were walking well, nothing could harm those who professed to be His followers and servants. No doubt they were men in a comfortable position of life themselves, and did not know much about trial; in point of fact they would not at all have served the purpose of God. God chose a much better man than all three put together. God chose a man whom He loved specially for his integrity; but nevertheless Job had to learn what he was. It was not to be a question of what he had done. They never could get beyond “what a man has done.” In their minds there must have been something very bad. Nobody, it is true, could see it; but that only showed—they did not like to say it at first-that he must be a hypocrite. They judged of Job by the trial that he was called to endure; whereas the truth emerges, gradually, very slowly, but at last it comes out very fully; though Job had no idea what the end would be. Job's one thought now was to die, no longer to be put to this torment. It was breaking a man upon worse than a wheel; it was wearing him out with the most dreadful tortures and agony; and how could such a God as he knew do such a thing? Yet he believed it was God, so that all this made him writhe; and what brought it out was not Satan—it was his friends!
What a solemn lesson that is! Our friends may sometimes do us the worst turn. possible. That is what they did to Job. Nevertheless God never fails; and God was going to make all this turn to Job's greater blessing. But he knew nothing at all about it—how it was to bean he knew was that, as far as appeared, there never was a righteous man who was called to suffer as he did. And how was it thus if God loved him? and he had always thought so, he fully believed it, he was quite certain that he loved God—he could not make out how it was possible. And yet it was a very possible thing, because the world is what it is; because human nature is what it is; and because the devil is what he is; and also because even the dearest friends that Job had, only aggravated his misery instead of helping him in the very slightest degree. Well, that was a most complicated web, and that is really the Book of Job. So that it is a grand Book in its way, and peculiar, and all the more full of instruction because it was before the law. If the law had come in it would not have mended matters in the smallest way, because the law was a system of divine government for a people on earth, under which, if they walked well, all would be well, and if they walked ill, trouble would come upon them from God. That would have been very much like what the friends of Job insisted upon. But what we learn is that these thoughts are natural to the heart of man, which believes that God deals with us now according to what we deserve. Job perfectly well knew that it would not be so in the other world; he had no doubt about that. It is true that he had not anything like the same ground of knowledge that we have in having Christ—the same Christ who has made redemption a blessed and a fixed certainty, a condition into which we are brought by divine grace, and which abides forever. But it is not merely that. Christ is the One who brings us to know God for every day—for everything that comes across our path every day, and for everything that can try the heart or the conscience every day. It is the same perfect law of God that is found in Christ; and our great wisdom is to learn how to apply Christ to every difficulty.
Well, that could not be yet; but the remarkable thing is that it was his dear friends—for they were dear to him, and he had always been dear to them before—who began to look askance. They heard poor Job in his passionate outcry at this terrible suffering that came upon his person. Oh! he could have borne it if they had not been there; he could have borne it if there had been none to look upon him. He might have groaned and cried unto God, and he would surely have done so; but what formed the crisis was his three friends. There they sat for seven long days, looking at the unhappy man! listening to his shrieks, and thinking that after all he ought to be quiet! They had no idea what he was suffering; they were very cool indeed; they were very calm; and they thought they were the men! But God thought otherwise; and Job knew in his heart that they had made a profound mistake, and that they had misconstrued not only Job but God Himself. He was quite right about that; and one thing that he never allowed in all the debate was that it was because of any hidden wickedness, that it was because of the smallest tinge of hypocrisy. No, no, no; they were all wrong about that, and he would never give it up until cockles turned into barley. He knew perfectly well that that could not be. And so it was. He would stick to it, and fight for it; and so he did.
Now, all this brought out what was not at all comely, the deep resentment that Job felt against the injustice of his friends. He could not help knowing they were all wrong, and he could not help feeling that, unless he was one who had no love for them at all and no respect; but it was just exactly because he had, that it all came so painfully upon him. He knew perfectly well that their glum silence meant that there was no proper sympathy in their hearts toward him. There they were, thinking their bad and dark thoughts about Job all the time, and yet afraid to let them out. But at last Eliphaz picks up courage, and, being the eldest of them, he certainly has much more calmness and dignity and self-restraint than the others that follow. He ventures to speak with a kind of apologetic tone. He says when he hears of this, “If we assay to commune with thee, wilt thou be grieved? but who can withhold himself from speaking?”
It was so very shocking that Job should let out so strongly! “Behold, thou hast instructed many, and thou hast strengthened the weak hands. Thy words have upholden him that was falling, and thou hast strengthened the feeble knees.” He allowed the excellent character of his dear friend in the past, but what was the meaning of all this violence now? Well, he was so changed that the first sight of him made them rend their clothes and cast themselves upon the ground. They were astonished at him. It appears that from head to foot he was covered with everything that showed the awful inflammation and the workings of what seemed to be deadly corruption covering his body—so much so that even worms were appearing all over, and clods of earth. Had he not thrown himself upon the ash-heap to get something or other to relieve this terrible sting? Besides, all his comforts were gone—everything that he had had to alleviate him.
It was all very well for them; they were comfortable; they were not in pain; and they could not in the least degree enter into this terrible suffering of the godly Job. And now Eliphaz allows that he had been a good man towards others, but how was it that he could not teach himself now? Now that this terrible affliction had come, he ought to be a model! Yes, we ought all to be models; we ought all to be like Christ; and we ought all to be like Christ particularly when we are in the depth of affliction, and when we are suffering in the most terrible way; but it is not always so even with the Christian. At any rate, Job could not avoid an expression of his agony—it must come out in some way or another—cries and tears and shrieks as the pain entered most deeply into his nature. Well, there was One who suffered without a murmur;
One who always bowed submissively. There was One who accepted from God the most utter contempt and bitter persecution, even to being called Beelzebub; One who had not a house of His own; One who was entirely dependent upon other people—some of them poor fishermen, and others women who followed as they so often did, seeking in that way to serve Him.
So it was with the Lord! He would know what the feeling of a man is about that. You know very well that any man of what is called the least spirit likes to be independent, and that it is the most galling thing to be entirely dependent upon, what is called, other people's charity. There was the Lord of glory and when it came to be the time of personal suffering, we can measure a little what it was going to be upon the cross by that which the Lord passed through in the anticipation of it, because He never hardened his heart to shut out what was coming; He went always through the trial before the trial came.
We try not to think about it. Sometimes, also, people take means of strengthening the body against the feeling of these trials and pangs, but not so the Lord Jesus. No; He would take the vinegar, but He did not take the potion that was meant to deaden feeling—that He refused.
There was a cup given out of human mercy for the ordinary criminal to deaden pain, to be a kind of opiate, as we call it. But the Lord would not allow that. No, no; He allowed no anesthetics for Himself. It is all very well; men and women try to get a little anesthetic even for taking out a tooth, and yet there was all this unparalleled suffering that came upon the Lord Jesus. Nevertheless, there it is: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” But there was in Him no such thing as the fighting spirit of Job.
No doubt Job's friends were exceedingly provoking men, and that was a thing that did provoke him; but still the Lord was the complete contrast of it all. And this is a very instructive thing to carry with us, as we read the Book of Job, and look at it more particularly than I can afford to do in the lectures that I now purpose—i.e., the reading of it privately, phrase by phrase, and word by word. I can only pretend to give a helpful sketch-time would not allow me to attempt more. But the contrast is very admirable between the best of men put into a position which was nevertheless nothing to be compared with the sufferings of Christ. And yet there Job was, an object of contempt in a measure and of deep suspicion to the three friends of his, who were not to be named with himself.
Well, now, Eliphaz comes to it; he says, “But now it is come upon thee, and thou faintest; it toucheth thee, and thou art troubled.” Yes, no doubt! it did not trouble Eliphaz very much. He was very sorry, no doubt-that is easily said. “Is not this thy fear, thy confidence, thy hope, and the uprightness of thy ways?” That is a phrase very badly given indeed in our version. It consists only of two clauses. The true meaning of it is, “Is not thy fear, thy confidence” (i.e., “thy pious fear of God")? “Is not thy fear [of God] thy confidence? thy hope, the uprightness of thy ways?” There are these two clauses, and only these two clauses in it, and that is the real connection. He is astonished that Job should forget his fear and also his hope which he formerly had. He could not speak about faith in redemption, because there is nothing at all of that; all the blessing for an Old Testament saint was in what was coming. But meanwhile the fear of God gave him confidence that God would take care of him, and there, hope was something far better than what he said. “The uprightness of his ways” —yes, he was not a hypocrite; but that is a poor ground after all, when we think of a Christian. Why? Christ is our ground. It is not our upright ways that are our great spring of hope; it is not anything but Christ which gives us firm confidence before God. So that Eliphaz only speaks according to that mixture that was constant, unless God gave a revelation in the Old Testament.
But there was always a mixing of their fidelity with the faith of the Christ that should come—the hope of Christ who was coming. That is the reason why there could not be certain peace. There are a good many people in that state now. They mix up their own personal fidelity with Christ, and what is the effect of it? The mixture of self with Christ has always a disintegrating effect—always injures and darkens the ground of our peace. I must have a peace entirely outside myself. I must have a confidence based upon Him who has no flaw at all, and who has done a work that gives me to be without a flaw before God. That is exactly what Christ has done.
Yet the time was not come to have that clear. But as the phrase stands in our version of 1611, I really could not pretend to understand it, and I very much doubt if anybody else could. In fact, it is very imperfectly rendered, and our translators, I am persuaded, did not understand it. That is not uncommon in the Book of Job, where are more of these misrenderings, I think, than in almost any other Book of Scripture. First of all, the language is very ancient. Of course, I know that the Germans say the contrary, but that is their fashion; they love to contradict what every true believer accepts; they love to unsettle all the foundations of the faith, and when that is done, they can say, 'Away with the Bible!' That is what is coming; that will be the end. So that they are not much help, whatever be their profession.
“Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished” now he comes to his false comfort. “Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent?” Well, what about Abel? I am beginning early enough in the Bible, and I am beginning with a clear example in the Bible. “Who ever perished, being innocent?” Well, there was Abel that perished. We are speaking about perishing in this world; Job never had a question about the next; and they were looking not at the next world but at this. It was not at all a question of faith; it was a question of sight; they were drawing all their conclusions from what they saw. That is always a false ground for a believer. “Who ever perished, being innocent? or where were the righteous cut off?” There it was again. Abel was righteous, and he was cut off by the unrighteous man; Abel was entirely guiltless; it was because Jehovah accepted Abel's offering, that Cain could not endure it. So, therefore, he perished as far as life in this world is concerned; and that is the only question that is discussed in these passages of Job.
That was the great question between him and his friends. It was what was going on now; they drew from that that God had a very serious charge against Job. Nothing of the kind. God was the very One who looked with admiration on him; and brought out Satan's earnest plan and subtle way to try and make Job speak against God—to curse God, as it is called—but he failed, and he had to be off, and he never appears again. No, it was through another way, the last that anybody could expect; it was through his friends that God did bring Job into—not cursing God—but cursing his own day, that he had been allowed to live; and if he had not been allowed to die before this came upon him, that God should not now take him away—that was Job's complaint. He did not see what God was going to do; he had not yet learned the lesson that God meant him to learn. Eliphaz shows in a very animated and striking manner what is a general modern principle— “Even as I have seen,” “they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same.” But it is not an absolute rule. There are those who have sown and plowed iniquity too, and yet they have reaped a good deal in this world, and have laid up wealth and honor in the highest degree; they have become kings and emperors and all the rest of it. Well, that is the very thing. It was extremely short-sighted to talk as he did. “By the blast of God they perish” sometimes. That is true, and Job never denied that, without making it an absolute truth or an absolute falsehood— “and by the breath of his nostrils are they consumed.”
Then he brings in the lions as a figure to show that, however strong and great and matchless a lion may be, still he may be broken—and so it is with men who play the lion in the world. And now he brings in a vision of the night. He was very serious. And God has often used visions of the night. It is true we have something a great deal better; we have the vision of the day; we have the great vision of Christ manifested in flesh; we have the vision of God showing Himself, and God speaking and acting for us in this world of sin and death. But he refers to what he saw or heard then. “Now a thing was secretly brought to me, and mine ear received a little thereof. In thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep falleth on men. Fear came upon me, and trembling” —it was evidently not enough of grace that he had; grace does not make people fear in this kind of way. It is judgment that does so, and this is what these good men were full of; they were full of the spirit of judgment.
And yet that is the very thing we are called not to do. “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” When there is evil found on the part of one who bears the name of the Lord we are bound to judge him; but there was no evil found on the part of Job at all. And when evil is not found we are bound not to judge; we are not to yield to our own thoughts; we are to wait upon God to make it all plain. Look at the way the Lord bore with Judas. He knew it, but they did not; and the Lord would not act upon this; it came out for them to judge. Well, this spirit, he says, passed before his face; “the hair of my flesh stood up. It stood still, but I could not discern the form thereof; an image was before mine eyes; there was silence, and I heard a voice, saying, Shall mortal man be more just than God? Shall a man be more pure than his Maker? Behold, he put no trust in his servants; and his angels he charged with folly. How much less in them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, which are crushed before the moth? They are destroyed from morning to evening; they perish forever without any regarding it. Doth not their excellency which is in them go away? they die, even without wisdom.” Well, all that is very true, but it did not apply to the case at all. It was a very good lesson for Eliphaz; however he may have learned it is another thing. But there is a great, deal more to learn, and that is what had to come out,—that behind all the trouble, behind all the affliction, behind everything that can be brought by the malice of the devil upon God's children in this world, there is a God of grace; and more than that, that God looks for the sense of grace to fill our hearts too; and that is what He accomplished with Job. How much more ought it to be in us, who have seen by faith the Son of God! who have learned by faith what Jesus suffered that we might be brought into stable, everlasting and blessed relationship with God even now! That, of course, was beyond Job, or any in Old Testament times.
Well, Eliphaz pursues it. He says (chap. 5.) “Call now, if there be any that will answer thee; and to which of the saints wilt thou turn? For wrath killeth the foolish man, and envy slayeth the silly one. I have seen the foolish taking root” —he was an aged man and was fond of looking back upon his experience— “I have seen the foolish taking root; but suddenly I cursed his habitation.” Ah, there it is! No prayer for him—cursing his habitation. No pity for him. Well, that was just the spirit that was produced by this readiness to judge, and to found the judgment upon appearance. “Judge not according to the appearance,” said the law. We are bound to wait for solid fact. Take a person who has a bad appearance. Sometimes a bad man puts on a good appearance. Well, we are not at all deceived by that. Sometimes a good man may be in such circumstances that appearances are very much against him. There we have to take great care. So that judgment according to appearance is a very dangerous ground. That is exactly where they were. “His children are far from safety, and they are crushed in the gate, neither is there any to deliver them.” That was a very painful word for Job to hear. Job had been most careful about his children. Job watched over them with much prayer to God, and burnt offerings, as was the nature of things at that time—the way in which piety expressed itself. Eliphaz did not make it personal; nevertheless there are many ways of giving a hint. “Whose harvest the hungry eateth up, and taketh it even out of the thorns, and the robber swalloweth up their substance.” Something very like that had happened to Job I do not say that he imputed it to him, but still that was the spirit that was at work.
“Although affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground; yet man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward. I would seek unto God.” Oh, yes, Eliphaz, all right—you are the man! It was a word meant for Job. He did not think that Job was seeking unto God. But he—he was very calm; and he could say, 'Yes, if I were in your case I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause, instead of crying out so loudly and complaining so bitterly' (as poor Job did); Unto God would I commit my cause'— “which doeth great things and unsearchable; marvelous things without number: Who giveth rain upon the earth, and sendeth waters upon the fields: to set up on high those that be low; that those which mourn may be exalted to safety.” But does not God sometimes try people? and the rains are not merely for fruitful seasons, but to destroy the fruit. The rains may be such as to greatly try the poor farmer and the husbandman; and it may all turn out quite the other way. It is entirely special pleading that we find in these men. It is not the whole case at all; it is never the full case. It is not the judge; it is the mere advocate; and in this case Job was the poor defendant. They were all on the side of hounding out Job, and finding where the secret iniquity was that they believed was at the bottom of all his trial. They were all wrong. “He disappointeth the devices of the crafty, so that their hands cannot perform their enterprise. He taketh the wise in their own craftiness; and the counsel of the froward is carried headlong.” Not a thought about the bad people that prosper; he only looks up certain ones that were punished; and the idea is, Job must be one of them.
Well, we find that he does at last fall upon a real truth, quite different from all this random talk. “Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth” (ver. 17). He never thought that that was the case with Job. “Happy is the man.” He knew that Job was very unhappy, and therefore he did not count him one of those at all. “Therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty” —there he does venture to exhort— “For he maketh sore and bindeth up; he woundeth, and his hands make whole.” There certainly is a milder vein running through these reproaches of Eliphaz as compared with the others; as we shall see at a later date. “He shall deliver thee in six troubles; yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee. In famine he shall redeem thee from death; and in war from the power of the sword. Thou shalt be hid from the scourge of the tongue; neither shalt thou be afraid of destruction when it cometh” —and so on. The end would be that “Thou shalt know also that thy seed shall be great, and thine offspring as the grass of the earth. Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in in his season. Lo this, we have searched it, so it is; hear it, and know thou it for thy good.” And the remarkable thing is that that was the end; and little did Eliphaz think that it would be verified in Job's case. It was more a homily in a vague way; and although he called Job to apply it, he had no idea that God would apply it, and that God would bring out Job more blessed than ever.
Now for Job's answer (chap. 6.). “Oh that my grief were thoroughly weighed” —there was just where they were wrong; they only looked at the surface “and my calamity laid in the balances together.” No, they had no proper balances, they were all one-sided. “For now it would be heavier than the sand of the sea” and so it was— “therefore my words are swallowed up.” They were all confused. He admits his language was not what it ought to be. He was so put to it by inward suffering and desperate pain that his words were quite confused, not quietly uttered, but simply swallowed up in the violence of his emotion. “For the arrows of the Almighty are within me.” You see he entirely gives way to it. “The poison whereof drinketh up my spirit; the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me.” [W.K.]
(To be continued)

Notes on Jeremiah

Very few Christians occupy themselves with prophecy in general, or with the prophetic books in particular. They look upon the study of prophecy as speculative and unprofitable, but the apostle tells us that “every scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable” (2 Timothy 3:16). Prophetic study would, no doubt, prove to be unprofitable if entered on without seeing and keeping in view the grand object and purpose of God—the glory of Christ. And this is not confined to prophecy, but runs through every part of the Bible. The glory of Christ in the church, in Israel, and in the world, is the object and end of all the divine way. All sorts of efforts and schemes are in vogue to bring about union and a better state of things in the professing church, but the true unity and glory of the church of God will not be seen until Christ is manifested; then shall we be manifested with Him in glory, and the desire and purpose of His love will have been fulfilled (Ephesians 5:25-27; Colossians 3:4).
Many, indeed, are interested in the recovery of the Holy Land, and the return of the Jews to their own inheritance, but the purpose of God with regard to His beloved Israel will not have been fulfilled until they have looked on Him whom they pierced, and have mourned for Him as for an only son (Zechariah 12:9-14; 13:1-2).
Many, too, are looking for a lasting peace at the conclusion of the wicked and cruel war now raging; but there can be no such peace for the world so long as the “Prince of peace” is absent—until He comes who is “King of kings and Lord of lords,” “whose right it is” (Ezek. 21:27) to bear universal sway.
But we have no intention nor desire, in this paper, to occupy ourselves with prophecy, but with some of the moral principles which we find in the Book of Jeremiah. This Book of the prophet is very rich in and full of moral principles—principles which, while they apply primarily to Judah, are nevertheless full of instruction and blessing for us.
Chapters 1 to 24 are full of the pleadings, the gracious pleadings, of Jehovah with His rebellious, backsliding, guilty, but beloved people (cf. chaps. 2:9-35; 4:14; 7: 19-22). Chapters 14 and 15 go together and the teaching of these two chapters is specially important and instructive for ourselves today. The moral state and condition of Judah at the time of the prophecy were alike deplorable. All classes were involved in the guilt of having forgotten and forsaken Jehovah—kings and subjects—high and low—rich and poor—pastors and people—prophets and priests—all were alike fallen and guilty (see chaps. 5: 1-5, 13, 30, 31; 6: 13; 8: 9; 10: 21; 12:10; 22:10-30; 23:1, 9-11, 15, 21, 22; 26: 8-11).
The time of the prophecy was in the reign of Josiah and his sons. There was a great revival in Josiah’s day; but, alas, like many another revival, there was much that was superficial and unreal (3:10). Josiah himself was a pious man. He did that which was right in the sight of Jehovah, and walked in the ways of his father David. The house of Jehovah had fallen to decay, and in place of the worship of Jehovah idolatry was rampant throughout the land. But Josiah had the house of God repaired, and its services restored. In the process the neglected and forgotten book of the law was found, which was taken by Hilkiah and read to the king, who, on hearing it, rent his clothes and wept before the Lord, and set about to obey and act upon it (2 Kings 22; 23). Josiah thoroughly cleansed the house, and removed the vessels and every trace of idolatry, as well as the guilty idolaters themselves, and then restored the worship of Jehovah. They kept such a passover as had not been kept since the days of the judges, we are told. But his sons were wicked men, and walked not in his steps, but did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.
Chapter 14. The first thing we notice here is blessing withheld. There was a “dearth"; the sources of life and refreshment were dried up; there were no reviving, refreshing, fructifying showers from heaven; all was desolate and barren. It is a sad case when God has to withhold blessing from His people. He loves His saints and delights to bless them. “Bring all the tithes into the store-house, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith Jehovah of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Mal. 3:10) —such is His desire to bless. But here, how different (vers. 1-6)! Is there not a cause? What says ver. 7? “Our iniquities testify against us... our backslidings are many; we have sinned against thee.”
Have not we in our day had to mourn the lack of spiritual power and blessing? Do we inquire Is there not a cause? Have not we failed and sinned? In old times, men of faith, men of God who felt deeply the condition of God's guilty people, and bore it on their hearts before Him, were wont to say, “our iniquities,” “we have sinned.” Now it is rather “they have sinned; they have gone wrong.” Verses 8 and 9 are very beautiful as showing that where there is simple faith and self-judgment, the soul may ever cling to and look to the Lord. “O the hope of Israel, the savior thereof in the time of trouble, why shouldest thou be as a stranger in the land, and as a wayfaring man that turneth aside to tarry for a night? Why shouldest thou be as a man astonied, as a mighty man that cannot save? Yet thou, O Jehovah, art in the midst of us, and we are called by thy name; leave us not.”
But the Lord must vindicate His name; evil must be judged (vers. 10-16). We know how much evil has been brought about, not only by false prophets, or false brethren, but by the true servants of the Lord. “And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram's cattle and the herdmen of Lot's cattle” (Gen. 13:7) with what result we all know. How often strife, conflict and division have been brought about through the disagreement of leaders!
Again, we have in the verses that follow (17-21), the cry of faith, and love, and see the tears of a broken heart.
How many, when trouble and weakness have come in, have turned aside from the path of faith, into unscriptural associations, or even gone back into the world, thinking to find an easier path and blessing! But are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain? or can the heavens give showers? Surely not. “Art not thou he, O Jehovah our God? therefore we will wait upon thee: for thou hast made all these things.” Oh, the folly and the loss of departing from the Lord! (chap. 2:13; Hebrews 12; 13).
Chapter 15 pursues the subject of the government of God and the judgment of evil, but declares the way is open for any to forsake their evil ways and return to Himself. At the same time Jeremiah is presented as a striking type of the godly remnant and the position and moral features of such. These are striking and important principles and full of instruction for us.
The government of God is as real as the grace of God. In the exercise of government “He can by no means clear the guilty,” nor recognize or accept that which has failed. But grace may find a way of escape and bring in salvation—praise His name! How deep the fall, how grievous the sin; when He has to say: “Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, let them go forth.” There have always been faithful and devoted men, who have felt deeply the condition of God's people in a day of ruin, and who have borne them on their heart in prayer and intercession, before God; but none are more conspicuous than these. But such was the guilt and perversity of Judah at this time that He says to Jeremiah: “Pray not for this people for their good” (16: 11), and here He declares He could not hear on their behalf even Moses or Samuel (15:1-9). How solemn is this!
But does the maintenance of government in the judgment of evil alter or diminish the love of God for His own? In no wise. It is the God of love—the Spirit of Christ working in the heart of the prophet that leads him to enter so fully into the truth and to exhibit (ver. 5) those feelings which we see in perfection in the Lord Jesus. Himself. “And when He was come near, He beheld the city and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong to thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes” (Luke 19:41, 42).
The following verses develop the position and moral features of the remnant. Jeremiah there represents and exhibits the moral features of that remnant. There has always been a remnant, those who, in the darkest days of sin and ruin on the part of God's people have “feared the LORD and thought upon His name.” God has never “left himself without a witness.” The first thing we find in this connection is what has been always true, conflict and persecution (verse 10). From Cain and Abel downwards they that are after the flesh have persecuted those that are after the Spirit. Is any persecution so fierce, persistent and cruel, as religious persecution? But the Lord accepts this remnant and they are separated unto Him, and assured of His protection and blessing. Grace and strength are vouchsafed that they may be able to disarm and resist the evil. God is on the side of those who honor and serve Him and He counts them His special treasure (Mal. 3:16-18). There is at the same time identification, not with the evil, not in fellowship and walk with the sinning, but with those who feel rightly before God, who feel the effects of failure and ruin, in weakness and trial if not in persecution, and, perhaps, death. But they know their refuge and resource— “O LORD, thou knowest” (verse 15).
There is more than one kind of separation. There is the Pharisaical kind which says, “Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou” (Isaiah 65:5). There are those who separate themselves, natural men, having not the Spirit (Jude 19). The word of God is the source of true separation to God (verse 16). When the word of God is found and fed upon, it produces not only separation with the outward consequences, but the heart is imbued with the Spirit of Christ who felt deeply in His Spirit the sad condition of a fallen people before God, as Jeremiah here, in his measure. The principles of the closing verses (19-21) are very definite and instructive.
1. However far the professing people may wander from God and His word, the way is always open for return to Himself. How encouraging!
2. To find restoration, and ability to stand before Him.
3. In spiritual intelligence and discrimination (Hebrews 5:14). If we consider the church in its first estate and think of it now, how sad is the contrast! how universal the ruin! what errors and superstitions abound! But there are saints precious to God, and good as well as evil everywhere, and we should know how to separate the precious from the vile.
4. One cannot help fearing that this and other portions have been used in a party spirit and for party ends. But if we are quite sure of our ground, if we are not actuated by a party spirit, if we have the word for our warrant and guide, and the glory of God as our object, we are not at liberty to return to what we have left as evil and contrary to His word, but welcome any who desire to cease to do evil, and discern all that is good everywhere.
5. “And I will make thee unto this people a brasen wall.” Here we have divine security and strength to judge and resist the evil and the enemy.
6. God is everywhere and sovereign in wisdom, love and power, and can bless His own wherever they may be found. But there is a special promise of manifestation and blessing to those who walk in faith and obedience (John 14:21-23), and His presence vouchsafed to such as are gathered to His Name.
7. To save and bring in final deliverance from sin and sorrow and all the power of the enemy; for the church when He comes (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18), for the Jewish remnant when He appears.
When the armies of Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem and carried Judah captive to Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar's captain of the guard left a remnant of the poor in the land, and chapters 39-44 tell us what happened to that remnant.
We are apt to make mistakes in applying scriptures, but in meditating on these chapters one cannot help thinking of the history of our own time.
In chapter 39 the enemy comes in like a flood, the rebels flee, but are overtaken by death, bondage and blindness (verses 1-9) —awful picture of the result of disobedience (chap. 18: 14-23)! Special favor is shown to Jeremiah; God knows how to deliver His faithful servants in the worst of times (11-14). Jeremiah is given perfect liberty to go where he pleases (chap. 40: 1-5); but, gracious and faithful man that he was, he chooses to remain with the poor few who were in the right place (ver. 6). For, notwithstanding all that had happened, this feeble remnant were in their right place in Jehovah's land. Many were attracted and sought, and joined themselves to the remnant and got much blessing (vers. 7-12). But alas, how soon evil developed in this remnant! If they had “feared the Lord and thought upon His name” if they had submitted to the rule of Nebuchadnezzar, who was the rod in Jehovah's hand for the punishment of Judah for her sins; if they had remembered that they were part of the guilty nation and that all were involved in the common ruin—all might have been well. The promise to Jeremiah in chapter 15: 11-14 applied to them and they were assured of divine protection and blessing again and again (39:10; 42:7-12). But false ones got among them. In chap. 41 the flesh is rampant; conflict and confusion reign supreme; many fall; some are brought into bondage to the power of evil; others, actuated by the fear of man, seek refuge in Egypt, that world from which they had been delivered by the sovereign favor and mighty power of God. “In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence, but the fear of man bringeth a snare.”
How possible it is to be in a right position without answering to that position, to be in the way of separation without being really separate to God!
Chaps. 42, 43. How futile are all the gracious promises, the loving appeals and the solemn warnings against a wrong course when self-will is at work! There was a professed desire to know the mind of the Lord, but no real faith in God, no respect for His word. When His mind was made known to them they flatly refused to obey, and were determined to go into Egypt (43: 1-17), but judgment overtook them there.
Chapter 44. Bent on going into Egypt (the world), into Egypt they went, and it is there in this chapter we find them. Those who choose the world will be involved in its judgment (43: 9-13).
If all this shows what man is in self-will and rebellion, it shows also what God is in patient grace and goodness (ver. 4; 2 Peter 3:9). Grace follows them even into Egypt, and still pleads with them; but nothing humbles them or brings them to repentance (vers. 5-10). But there is a limit to patience, and judgment follows from which there is no escape (vers. 11-14). If people think that by going into the world they will escape trouble, they make a great mistake. We get tired of strife and divisions and weakness, but going into the world does not mend matters. We see here the sad effect of going into the world; it left them without heart or conscience. It would be hard to find a bolder, more impudent and wicked defiance of God and His word. They, moreover, impudently assert that it is better and more profitable to serve idols than to serve the Lord! (vers. 15-19). But all such will find out to their cost, that the Lord does not forget and will be as good as His word in judgment as in blessing (vers. 20-27). But here there is a remnant, though here as elsewhere, when the remnant fails it does not relieve from individual faithfulness. All who were carried away by the leaders do not form part of the class who dwelt in the land of Egypt; six or seven times these are addressed as dwellers in Egypt; for such there is no escape (ver. 14). But there were faithful ones—some specially named; Ebed-melech (39:15-18) —what did he do? He helped to rescue the testimony from the mire (38: 7-12); another, Baruch (45); what did he do? He helped to preserve the testimony of God (36: 4, 32). If a cup of cold water given to a disciple in faith and love, cannot lose its reward, how could these faithful ones be forgotten, who, in a dark and evil day, had, in helping the servant of the Lord, been the means of rescuing and preserving the word and testimony of Jehovah?
But alas, for those who make their home and seek their portion in a world which is under judgment, forgetting God, and who fall with the world and its prince (vers. 29, 30)!
C. J. D.

Strength in Weakness

Isaiah 11; Genesis 32; 2 Corinthians 12
It is well when Christians in conscious weakness (for indeed, we are as water spilled upon the ground which cannot be gathered up again) “wait upon the Lord,” for “in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength;” and we are told “he that waiteth upon his Master shall be honored.” At the time Isaiah spoke, all was weakness and confusion in Israel; but although their condition was so sad in the Lord's sight, yet in the riches of God's grace the prophet was given to utter by the Holy Spirit these memorable and reassuring words, “Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, Jehovah, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.” Thus He recalled them to the inexhaustible source of strength to be found alone in Himself. Their youths and young men, in whom strength and vitality would naturally be looked for, had utterly failed, and everything was in a state of complete prostration. Then came the blessed and definite promise (surely not less for us than for Israel) “they that wait upon Jehovah shall renew, or change their strength. They shall mount up as with the wings of eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Faintness and weariness are thus overcome, and power given to run in His service, and strength imparted to walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, to all those who wait upon the Lord.
In that remarkable scene recorded in Genesis 32 Jacob had to prove by painful experience, as we have, that natural strength availed him nothing, yea, was a positive hindrance to the blessing a divinely sent one desired to confer upon him. Instead of “wrestling Jacob,” as so often he is called, it was quite the contrary up to the moment that the hollow of his thigh was touched. “And there wrestled a man with him, and when he (the man) saw that he prevailed not against him (Jacob), he touched the hollow of his thigh, and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint as he wrestled with him": and it was only when Jacob's flesh had been touched and become shrunk that he could say, “I will not let thee go unless thou bless me"; and the result of Jacob wrestling in weakness was a full blessing in power, for the answer came, “Thou shalt be no more called Jacob, for thou hast power with God, and hast prevailed, and he blessed him there.” And the Spirit desires our attention to another fact that this struggle had made a difference to Jacob's “walk.” May the Lord be pleased to grant in these last days unto His beloved people a like result flowing from our intercourse with and waiting upon Him!
In 2 Cor. 12 we have a very notable example of a believer's weakness and the Lord's mighty power. Paul, the precious and honored servant of the Lord Jesus, lest he should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations to him, was given a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan, to buffet him. This drove him to the Lord. He waited upon Him about it, and he prayed earnestly. He besought the Lord thrice that it might depart from him. The answer came from Him glorified on high, “My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” The apostle, in his weakness and powerlessness, had obtained the blessing and victory in waiting upon the Lord. With this blessed assurance from his risen Master and Lord, he no longer asks for the removal of that which made him weak, but his language then was “most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
Our adorable Savior and Holy Lord, in the days of His flesh, in grace knew what it was to be here as the humble and dependent Man, and as such waited upon His Father in prayer; and in that scene of Gethsemane's garden we, with chastened hearts, hear Him praying more earnestly, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not my will, but Thine be done"; and then when He had so prayed, we read, “And there appeared an angel from heaven strengthening him.”
May we each and all desire to be in that condition of realized weakness and dependence before the Lord that He may be pleased to let His strength rest upon us, and thus know more intimately and experimentally what it is to “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might,” and to “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”
H. C. M.


There is a danger of being satisfied with what is of the tongue only, and the apostle John warns the whole family of God as to this. “Children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18). Nor is he alone in this, for James asks, “If a brother or sister be naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled: notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful for the body; what doth it profit” (2:15, 16)? Such conduct is only a veiled form of apathy, or Laodiceanism, so utterly distasteful to the Lord.
In writing to the young converts at Thessalonica so dear to the heart of the one whom God had used to them—the Apostle speaks of being bound to give thanks always to God for them, and styles them “brethren beloved of the Lord” (2 Thessalonians 2:13). What a depth there is in these words, recalling John's favorite appellation of himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved"! And then Paul brings out that God had from the beginning chosen them to salvation-the soul now, the body by and by—through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth. In no way was it of works, but the gift of God, and God's testimony was believed. He then goes on to show that they had been called by the glad tidings they had received to nothing less than “the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Savior Himself had spoken of it as an accomplished fact in speaking with His Father “the glory which Thou gavest me I have given them” (John 17:22). The apostle then exhorts them to stand fast and “hold the traditions.” We are better off than they, as we now have the whole completed word of God to which we may ever refer, but may we not say we need more than they the exhortation to hold fast? Thank God we have equally the abiding Spirit.
He then bursts out into a lovely prayer, “Now our Lord Jesus Christ Himself.” When you have “our,” you have what appeals to the affections. Take one example, “The God of peace that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus that great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the everlasting covenant” (Hebrews 13:20); and “Himself” is the exquisite addition in Luke 24 “Jesus Himself drew near and went with them” (ver. 15). “Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you” (ver. 36). Where it is “the Lord Jesus Christ,” we have authority, as for instance, 2 Thessalonians 3:12, “Now them that are such (i.e., unruly) we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work and eat their own bread.” Coming back to our verse (2: 16) the apostle adds, “God, even our Father.” In “God” we have all power. “My God shall supply all your need.” In “our Father,” we remember how He spoke when He rose from the dead on that first of the week, putting that relationship first, “My Father and your Father.” “Which hath loved us (how deeply, who can tell?) and hath given us (not a passing, but an) everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort (or encourage) your hearts, and establish you in every good work and word” (for such is the order). He then desires their prayers for him “that the word of the Lord may have free course and be glorified, even as it is with you.”
Further, we may observe, practical fellowship in addition to prayer is of great value. Paul speaks of men and also “women who Labored with me in the gospel” —not merely wishing him Godspeed—and it was a woman who had learned in measure the truth of having the sentence of death in herself, who prayed and said, “Jehovah is a God of knowledge and by him actions are weighed” (1 Samuel 2:3). Let us ponder this; it is an admirable answer to any of Satan's suggestions, and preserves us from being occupied with what is within. God knew how to weigh the action of Abraham when he offered up Isaac, and Paul could say with a lovely calmness that disposed of all questions as to his preaching, “From henceforth let no man trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus” (Galatians 6:17). May we have grace to be “doers of the word and not hearers only” (James 1:22)!
W. N. T.


I believe it is more devotedness than competency to help, which is wanting, though devotedness is a large part of the competency. It is this we want, we are not our own but His, bought with a price. It is carried out cheerfully and joyfully when we think of Him, not of ourselves. For love does not grow weary of serving, though service may be often in trial as regards the scene—indeed, save with rare encouragement, always in the general run of it, is. “Therefore, I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”
J. N. D.

The War and Prophecy: Part 2

But it must not be supposed that the heart of man is one whit changed, even by the manifestation of such glory, except where the regenerating grace of God has wrought; and in many cases they will doubtless yield but a feigned obedience. So, at the close of this time of blessing, God allows one last test. Have one thousand years of righteous rule and unalloyed goodness on God's part changed the heart? Alas! it is not so. No sooner is Satan loosed out of his prison for a little season, than he gathers together the nations of the earth as the sand of the sea, around Jerusalem. This last act of rebellion is met by God's summary judgment: fire comes down from God out of heaven and devours them (Revelation 20).
ETERNITY.-We now enter upon the last and final stage of all; beginning with that great session of judgment called the “great white throne.” The account given at the close of Revelation 20, is one of the most solemn and impressive within the whole compass of God's revelation given us in the Bible, and we do well to feel this as we ponder over it.
We have already remarked that the saved who had died, had been raised at the coming of Christ for His saints (Hebrews 11:13 and 40; 1 Cor. 15:50-57 Thessalonians 4:16). The saved ones who were slain during the period immediately preceding the millennium, were raised also in order to enjoy the blessing of that day (Revelation 20:4); both these are included in the “first resurrection.” But the unsaved, or “rest of the dead,” had remained in their graves “until the thousand years were finished.” After this they are raised by God's almighty power, whether from the grave or from the sea. A “great white throne,” which is distinctly and essentially a throne of judgment, is set up. Where this throne is set we are not told, for heaven and earth have lied from the face of Him who sits upon it. And, as the Epistle of Peter tells us, “the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat: the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” Solemn, most solemn consideration for man with all his boasted advancement, as well as for all who have nothing beyond this world! And here we pass out of time, which is measured for us by every sunrise and sunset, into a limitless and boundless eternity. The clock which marks each passing hour in this world, will be no longer required then.
And who is it that sits on this great white throne of judgment? This is a question about which people have very confused thoughts, but as to which Scripture leaves no room for uncertainty. It is the Son, the once-rejected Savior. He Himself has said, “The Father judgeth no one, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son, that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father” ( John 5:22). Yes, every one must honor the Son; either by bowing to Him now, in the day of grace, as the Savior, or then, in the day of judgment, as the Judge.
Who will appear at this throne? Clearly it is not a judgment of living people such as we find in Matthew 25, where they are separated as sheep from goats, etc. No! the passage plainly states that it is “the dead, great and small,” who are found here. It is the dead out of Christ, the unsaved dead, and only they. At this throne everything is done in perfect righteousness and justice, and the judgment is according to works. We must all be before God either in Christ, in all the worth and value of what He has done; or we must have to do with God as unsaved, standing on our own merits. Now to appear in our own merits involves certain condemnation, for our works could not stand the searching light of that day. Moreover, this is not a throne of grace, or sprinkled blood to meet the sinner's need, but of stern unbending judgment and nothing but judgment. The day of grace will have passed away forever, and the issue for every soul will be final, according to the demands of the righteousness and glory of God. Against the sentence there given there can be no opposition, and from it there is no appeal.
The dead are judged out of those things written in the books. This conveys to us, in a figurative manner, the idea of records of works known to Him who searches all hearts; and these works are not perfect before God. Then the book of life is referred to; but mark, it is not in order to write anyone's name there! Could it be that any of their names were written in that book? No, this could not be, since none of those whose names are inscribed by God Himself in the book of life, appear at this throne. These saved ones had long since been raised from their graves, and had shared with Christ in His reign of a thousand years, and therefore they do not appear at the great white throne at all. And what is the solemn end of it all? It is to be “cast into the lake of fire.” It is true that men do not like to hear of this, and Satan is doing all he can at the present time to hide and obliterate the fact; but it is a remarkable thing that we find this very expression, “the lake of fire,” three times in this part of Revelation (chaps. 20: 14, 15, and 21: 8).
Death and Hades are looked at as personified; and they are also cast into the lake of fire. Death is the last great enemy to be destroyed. No one, not even the wisest or the greatest or the most powerful of men, has been able to stand against it; and no man of science has ever found a remedy for it. There it stood from the day that Adam fell, like an unstormed fortress of the enemy's power, until the Lord Jesus Christ died, and by His death delivered those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. And, as we have before remarked, the true believer may never die, for Christ may come within his lifetime!
But, taking man as such, its sway was universal, and its power was paramount and complete. However, at the point at which we have now arrived in our brief study, death has no more place, because all men have disappeared from the scene-the saved to share the blessed abode of the new heavens and the new earth, the unsaved to the lake of fire. Lastly, Hades, the unseen, the state of departed spirits—has yielded up its last occupant, in order that such may appear at this resurrection of judgment. It has also, therefore, ceased to exist; and (solemn thought!) there remains now ETERNITY—a fixed state; a timeless, endless, infinite duration forever and ever, incomprehensible to the mind of man.
THE NEW HEAVENS AND THE NEW EARTH.-We have just been speaking of the solemn events, closing in eternity itself, in reference to the unsaved and the ungodly, and we now turn to the brighter and happier theme of the eternal destiny of the saved. “We, according to his promise,” says the apostle Peter, “look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” It has been remarked by some one that righteousness “reigns” throughout the millennium, but it “dwells” during the eternal state.
We have already remarked that the closing verses of Revelation 20 give us the final issue of judgment for the lost; then we have in the first eight verses of chapter 21 the eternal state of blessing for the saved. Here we find that God dwells with men, in the scene which He has Himself prepared for the eternal habitation of His saints. But before this could be so, every trace of sin and evil must be forever removed from the whole universe. Now this, as we know, will be effectuated in virtue of the far-reaching efficacy of the blood of Christ, the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world. Not a trace of that sin, which so marred everything, will sully God's fair creation then. In this eternal state of bliss everything will be in perfect harmony with the holy nature of God; and His love told out in all its unmingled fullness shall, so to speak, expand itself without hindrance and fill the scene. The saints will not then need to be ever on their guard lest they should defile their garments, but will walk the courts of the heavenly city with perfect freedom and unalloyed bliss.
As we have said, God dwells with men; this was His purpose from the beginning. He visited Adam in Eden, but sin came in and marred everything. As soon as redemption was accomplished, in type at least, in the paschal lamb and the deliverance through the Red Sea, then God spoke of His habitation. Yet God could not fully rest in a scene where sin and Satan's power were -a world departed and alienated from Him.
But here, in this eternal state of sinless perfection, it is not a question of man tested, as in Eden, and liable to fall; on the contrary, everything stands on the immutable basis of the value and efficacy of the precious blood of Christ—everything is now reconciled to God; and here God dwells with men. The “holy city, new Jerusalem,” comes down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. It would seem that this “new Jerusalem” is itself “the tabernacle of God,” and if that be what is now called the church, as it appears to be—the Lamb's wife, this would show that the church will retain its near and privileged place even in eternity itself.
Let us remark here that it is a question of “God” and “men"; we have got out of all simple dispensational names such as “Jehovah” with Israel, “Father” with His people now, etc. Then Christ will have finished His millennial reign, and the last enemy having been destroyed, He will have delivered up His mediatorial kingdom to God, even the Father, that God (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost) may be all in all. Distinction of nations, too, of which we have seen so much previously, will have ceased to be. It is no longer a question of Jews, Gentiles, etc., but of “men.” The whole order of things will be changed. Instead of sorrow and tears so familiar in this world, God Himself shall wipe away every tear. Death cannot enter the scene what breaks, what sorrows it had caused for ages! In fact, sin and everything which it had brought in, and which had followed in its train, will have passed away forever.
In conclusion, may we not praise and bless God as we consider the wonderful harmony of Scripture, throughout all its wide and far reaching range? Like a panorama of great events, God makes all these things to pass in review before the eye of faith in His word. Not, indeed, in order to gratify our curiosity as to the future, but that the student of prophecy may learn profitable moral lessons for his own soul's blessing. To discard or neglect the study of prophecy would surely be a serious loss.
Prophecy, indeed, began with the Fall in Eden, when the Seed of the woman which was to bruise the serpent's head was promised. Then it conducts us, in its wide range, along through past events (recorded on the pages of Holy Writ with perfect accuracy, long before they occurred, but which have now become matters of history), right on through the successive ages, until, finally, we find ourselves carried into eternity itself. God has, speaking reverently, taken us into His confidence; He has revealed all these things to us in His word for our present profit and blessing. To His name be the praise and glory. Amen!
F. G. B.
(Concluded from page 16)

Heaven's Joy

Will it be the glory bright
Of those realms of endless light?
Streets all paved with crystal gold,
Gates of pearl of price untold,
Harps, and thrones, and diadems,
Palaces, and costly gems?
All, and more than this, is given,
But 'tis not the “joy of heaven."

One there is, and One alone,
Every ransomed saint will own
As the central fount of bliss;
Heaven were empty without this.
Jesus, Lamb of God, Thou art
Now the center of my heart;
While by faith Thy face I see,
While I live and feed on Thee
E'en in this sad, weary waste,
Often heavenly joys I taste:
Thou the joy of joys wilt be,
Of my heaven's eternity.
J. G. D.

To Correspondents

R.C. is referred for an answer to his statement to the selfsame column of page 6 of last month's Bible Treasury, from which he quotes.


F. E. RACE, Publisher. 3 & 4, London House Yard,
Paternoster Row, E.C.

Lectures on Job 6-8:3

Lect. 2. (Continued)
Chap. 6. Now they had talked about the lions—Eliphaz had, at any rate. But Job brings a much more pertinent case into the matter.
“Doth the wild ass bray when he hath grass?” If he has got his proper food does he bray as if he were suffering from great hunger? “Or loweth the ox over his fodder?” No, he thankfully eats it. “Can that which is unsavory be eaten without salt?” “Here am I, and not even a morsel of food but what costs me pain, and I have nothing to make it agreeable; no salt with it; it is all poison as it were” —poison that entered and drank up his spirit. “Or is there any taste in the white of an egg?” The best thing he could get was that which was altogether insipid and disagreeable. “The things that my soul refused to touch are as my sorrowful meat. Oh that I might have my request; and that God would grant me the thing that I long for! Even that it would please God to destroy me.”
You see he had not the slightest fear of death. He was singularly above it; but he looked at death not so much as gain—he could not do that; he had not Christ to make it gain; but he looked to death as the cessation of his trouble, the end of his suffering. And so it would be. That, of course, was a very partial way, and by no means up to the mark that God was going to show him. But I mention it to show that it was not at all any fear of the unseen world; it was the trial that he could not solve in this present tangled life. “Then should I yet have comfort; yea, I would harden myself in sorrow: let him not spare; for I have not concealed the words of the Holy One.” The ordinary meaning of “concealed” is not at all the idea here. “I have not violated; I have not denied the words of the Holy One.” That is what they were doing; they were denying the words of the Holy One. They in their zeal, and in their superficial judgment, they were not guided by the Holy One at all; they were acting according to their own thoughts; judging according to their own feelings, on the mere surface of poor Job's intense affliction.
“What is my strength, that I should hope? and what is mine end, that I should prolong my life? Is my strength the strength of stone, or is my flesh of brass?” —to be able to endure all this without any feeling. “Is not my help in me? and is wisdom driven quite from me? To him that is afflicted pity should be showed from his friend.” That they should be so lacking in pity—there was what galled him; there was what was inexplicable, next to the great riddle of how God allowed all this to come upon him—that there was not one word of true pity; not one word but what was very superficial, because of the bad judgment, the misjudgment that was underneath it. “My brethren have dealt deceitfully as a brook, and as the stream of brooks they pass away; which are blackish by reason of the ice, and wherein the snow is hid: what time they wax warm, they vanish: when it is hot, they are consumed out of their place.” They were no use whatever to him “The paths of their way are turned aside; they go to nothing, and perish.” He compares it with the desert; he was familiar with it, as they all were. It is a very different thing to pass through the desert in the winter, and to pass through the same desert in the summer—in the winter when people do not want so much the refreshment of water, and in the heat of summer when they feel the great need of even a drop of water to cool their tongue—then it is that the “wadies” as they call them—those brooks that for a time cross the desert of despair—are completely sucked up by the sand or exhaled by the power of the sun. That is what he compares this to. And therefore it is that the same company of Tema, or of Sheba, that passed through the desert might remember that there is where we should find water in the midst of all this trouble. 'Ah! we hope we are nearing it now.' Not a drop; not a drop! That is like you. Time was when I could have got comfort from you, but now everything is changed. You have nothing now but an evil lurking suspicion that has no foundation at all. “The troops of Tema looked, the companies of Sheba waited for them. They were confounded because they had hoped; they came thither, and were ashamed.” There was no water to be seen. They had been promising themselves when nearing it, That is where we were only six months ago, when there was plenty of water ' and now six months after, not a drop! “For now ye are nothing; ye see my casting down, and are afraid.”
Yes, that was their state; they were shocked; they did not want to get near him even. They did not wish to have even the sense of the fetid breath of the poor sufferer, or to touch the skin for fear of contracting something bad themselves. They kept away from it; they were afraid. “Did I say, Bring unto me? or Give a reward for me of your substance?” He says, “It is not that I have the least want for anything, and yet you are treating me as if I were a person to be wanting to draw upon you in my trouble. No, I ask nothing of you except that you should not misjudge me.” “Did I say Bring unto me? or Give a reward for me of your substance? or, Deliver me from the enemy's hand? or, Redeem me from the hand of the mighty? Teach me, and I will hold my tongue; and cause me to understand wherein I have erred. How forcible are right words! but what doth your arguing reprove? Do you imagine to reprove words?”
That is what they were doing. He had broken out in these violent words, and they pitched upon them at once to say, Ah, yes! there is old Job beginning to show himself. Now he is in this way; just think what the world would say if they heard or saw Job now! “Do ye imagine to reprove words, and the speeches of one that is desperate, which are as wind? Yea, ye overwhelm the fatherless, and ye dig a pit for your friend. Now, therefore, be content; look upon me” —yes, he begs that they would look upon him— “for it is evident unto you if I lie.” That is, “if there is anything hidden under; that is what you suspect.” “Return, I pray you, let it not be iniquity” —he begs them to return to that, and to return to a sound judgment of the case. That it was their poor friend put to so tremendous a trial and could not see why it was come upon him. “Let it not be iniquity.” It has nothing to do with that. He had to learn that his own righteousness, however real, could be no ground; he must have the righteousness of God to stand upon, though he hardly knew how it could be. That is what comes out later in the book. “Is there iniquity in my tongue? Cannot my taste discern perverse things?” That is what they were treating, him to.
“Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth?” (chap. 7). There he has another ground; his trial was so prolonged. It was not merely a tremendous trial, which is usually very brief in this world. If people have great agony, say in the foot or the head—well, very often they become insensible if it is the head; and if it is the foot no doubt it is very trying, but it passes; the paroxysm passes. “But how is it that I from head to foot am nothing but a mass of sores, and inwardly suffering the deepest agony? Oh that God had taken it away; that God had terminated this terrible suffering.” “As a servant earnestly desireth the shadow” —of the evening, when he has done his work— “and as an hireling looketh for the reward of his work; so am I made to possess months of vanity, and wearisome nights are appointed to me.” They had each day their relaxation from labor; it may be hard labor, but still they had their night of ease and rest. “But I have nothing day or night, it is all the same terrible unremitting suffering.” “When I lie down, I say, When shall I arise, and the night be gone? and I am full of tossings to and fro until the dawning of the day.”
Sometimes we have a little of that experience; but how little it is compared with Job's; and how very quickly it gives place. But God was putting him into the furnace in order that he might come out purer than ever. “My flesh is clothed with worms.” Think of that; not merely with woolen or linen— “My flesh is clothed with worms and clods of dust; my skin is broken, and become loathsome. My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, and are spent without hope.” That is, it was always something coming just like the rapid process with which a weaver passes his shuttle every moment. “Oh, remember that my life is wind; mine eye shall no more see good. The eye of him that hath seen me shall see me no more; thine eyes are upon me and I am not. As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away” —that is what he compared himself to “so he that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more” —that is what he wanted, that it should terminate. “He shall return no more to his house, neither shall his place know him any more. Therefore I will not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul. Am I a sea, or a whale” —a sea monster “that thou settest a watch over me? When I say, my bed shall comfort me, my couch shall ease my complaint; then thou scarest me with dreams, and terrifiest me through visions; so that my soul chooseth strangling, and death rather than my life.” It is not that he would have done it, but that is what would have terminated his suffering. That is what the merely natural spirit would have done—terminated it violently.
Oh, no; he had no thought of such a thing. He was under the hand of God, but he begs God's hand to close it. “I would not live alway; let me alone; for my days are vanity.”
And he uses that very remarkable expression which we find in two other parts of the Old Testament: “What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him?” It is very different here from what it is in the 8th Psalm, and it is sensibly different from what it is in the 144th Psalm. “What is man?” If you look at man without Christ there is nothing very wonderful to talk about; but when you look at Christ there is the most wonderful thing of all, both in the depth of His humiliation and the height of His exalted glory. Well, that is the 8th Psalm. But here it is man under the discipline of God; under the moral government of God. “Oh,” he says, “what is man, to be under such a tremendous government as this? If I were a sea I should not feel it; and if I were a big whale, well, I might perhaps endure more than I can now; but what is man? —poor, sensitive man; poor man full of his nerves, and full of his feeling, of mind, too, embittered by his outward trial?” “Oh!” he said, “terminate it! terminate it!”
Well, in the 144th Psalm there is another thing. He is looking for the kingdom to be brought in by divine power, and he says, “What is man?” Man stands in the way. There the nations are, but what are they? Execute judgment upon them, put them down with a high hand. That is the way that it is looked at. So that you see this “man” in all the blessedness of Christ, and this “man” in all the sufferings of Job, and this “man” in all the worthlessness of the nation; those are the three different comparisons in the three different places. “How long wilt thou not depart from me, nor let me alone till I swallow down my spittle?” —i.e., to get a moment to breathe. “I have sinned” —or, “If I have sinned” I should think to be the real sense of the passage— “What shall I do unto thee,” “O thou” —not exactly “Preserver” but “Observer?” It is well to take notice of these errors where they are more particularly flagrant “O thou Observer.” For he was perfectly conscious that God had his eye upon him all the time—perfectly conscious of that. Still he was not in the presence of God in the way that he afterward entered it, when he knew himself, and when he knew God better, as he learned through this.
That is what we have the privilege of learning in a very much more simple and blessed manner. “If I have sinned, what shall I do unto thee, O thou Observer of men? why hast thou set me as a mark against thee, so that I am a burden to myself? And why dost thou not pardon my transgression?” He had confidence in God, and he could not understand what God somehow or another had against him—what he was not conscious of himself “Oh,” he said, “why not pardon it, if there be that of which I am not conscious” — “and take away mine iniquity? for now shall I sleep in the dust; and thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be.”
LECT. 3.-CHAPS. 8-10.
The reasoning of Bildad is precisely the same principle as that of Eliphaz. It is all founded on God's moral government, i.e., the impossibility of causing God grief, and casting down to the ground a really righteous man, and the certainty of His bringing to naught every wicked man. It is all founded upon what is going on in the world now. There was no faith in it. There was conscience, conscience toward God; but conscience, however useful and highly important as it is for the soul, never does, nor can it ever, reveal God. It detects our bad state, and the more it is purged by divine grace through redemption the clearer is its judgment. But that was not the case then. Everything was more or less confused, and God was merely regarded as a righteous God. But God is the God of all grace. And many people confound God's grace with His goodness; but the goodness of God is quite a different thing from the grace of God. The goodness of God is that which flows out in every sort of kindness, and in patience with us and consideration of our weakness. But the grace of God means not merely His love, but His love rising above sin; His love triumphing over all our evil.
Now it is clear that that never was nor could be, till Christ came, and it was not even when Christ did come. It was in His death on the cross; it was there and then for the first time that all the love of God met all the evil of man. Both worked fully out, but had never worked fully out before. Man had never shown himself so wicked as round the cross of the Lord Jesus. And it was universal; it was not merely the multitude, though it is a terrible thing to see how fickle the multitude is. They are just the same to this day, and they will never be any other until the Lord change the face of all peoples. The same crowd that cried “Hosanna to the Son of David!” and applauded Him to the skies, with one mouth cried, “Crucify him, crucify him!” within a few days. Well, and how was that? It was the power of Satan. It was their unbelief. Because their applause was nothing. Applause is merely human feeling excited at the moment, and that feeling may give way to a totally opposite one, and very quickly. Why, even the children of God are never to be trusted. The children of God are the most foolish people in the world in many respects. And the reason is because Satan hates them, and Satan entraps them, and they are apt to be deceived by appearances. They never seem to take warning from the word of God; they are always ready for some new thing; and the consequence is, always tumbling into some mess or another.
Well, this has always been the case; it was the case in the experience of the apostle Paul. “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ, unto another gospel; which is not another” —it is no gospel at all. It was a man once born; it was poor wretched fallen man that was the groundwork. That is the very same thing in Christians now. They are carried away by man, and they are all so anxious to get man to applaud them, and to sacrifice and compromise everything in order to get the assent and consent of people that want to be saved, that have no kind of judgment in things divine, for this never can be had unless we not only have Christ, but know what it is to be crucified to the world and the world unto us. That is, it must be a thorough-going work, and the children of God shrink from that; consequently, they will read anything that merely keeps up their spirits, just like a boy at night whistling through a churchyard. Anything that will keep up their spirits—every little dram, every little sentiment, every little phrase—perhaps a very bad and poor phrase—but still there it is, and that keeps up their spirits. Well now, friends, that is the way to get removed from Him that called us; because it is entirely by growing in grace, and by dependence upon that grace, that we are kept from all these snares that more particularly surround the people of God. At the time of the cross the people of God were the Jews, and that was the reason why they were the worst of all.
And now in Christendom, in the world as it is now, who are the most guilty? Who are ripening now for the severest judgment of God? The world-church. I do not mean by that the Established Church; it will take in the Dissenters just as well. The Dissenters are further away in some respects than even the Anglicans. They are howling politicians, howling for their own will, and calling themselves, in the most extraordinary manner, “passive resisters.” Why “passive resistance” is passive nonsense. You cannot be passive and resisting. If you are resisting you are not passive. It is the same kind of thing as people talking about the Roman Catholic Church; but if it is Roman it is not Catholic, and if it is Catholic it is not Roman, and the two things are just a marvelous piece of contradiction. But what I mean is this—there are different streets. There are high streets and low streets; there are streets of grandeur and there are streets of wretchedness of every kind—dishonesty as well as all kinds of contention. And it is upon that that the awful judgment of God is coming.
Babylon is more loathsome to God than “the Beast.” The beast is open self-will rebelling against God; but Babylon is that which is a harlot in God's eyes, and pretends to be the espoused of Christ. And it is that pretension—that high pretension of being the holy bride of Christ—accompanied by the greatest unholiness and the greatest laxity of doctrine when pretending to be the orthodox, the holy Catholic, Apostolic, and I do not know what else. Well, that is Babylon, but that is only high Babylon; there is low Babylon too; and all Babylon, no matter whether high or low—all will be the great object of God's fury. For that is the expression of the term. It is His highest indignation. It is all this pretension to what the world has not. They are now giving up to religion as much as possible. What is the intent? To carry on religion with the world, that is, Babylon. It is the confusion of two things that cannot be united, and there they are—the greatest and worst confusion that is possible to be.
The Babylon of Christendom is a great deal worse than the Babylon of the Chaldees. What privileges had they? Why, they were the heathen; but there you have only the human mind; in Christendom you have got the New Testament. There they pretend to have the Holy Ghost. There they can give the Holy Ghost to a baby! and they can give the Holy Ghost to a priest! Or they can do anything; bring fire—not from heaven, but from hell, to burn the martyrs of God. They can do anything that is wicked and is at the same time a pretense against God. Well, I say, because of them you must not be surprised that any who have got the truth in a measure are for that very reason the great object of Satan's desire to draw them into what will undermine and destroy. Therefore we need to be guided; we need the guidance of God; we need not to be taken in by appearances and fair promises and good desires that will never keep the same for one day or hour. But on the contrary, the better you desire, if you are not subject to God the more easily you will be drawn into that which will oppose God.
No doubt, nobody means that no Christian could be like the Galatians—you do not mean that. They thought they were in the better state. They thought they were getting on, that they were not so narrow minded as some people, that they were not so very bigoted as Paul. Paul was too much in one line; they were the large people; line; they were the large people; they were the liberal people. And so it was that they got into this terrible snare of the devil. The same thing repeats itself in every age. And I believe that there are persons on the face of the earth that are as much the object of Satan's wiles as the Galatians.
But that is no reason to be discouraged; not to be discouraged is the necessary consequence of having the truth—a necessary consequence that Satan dislikes and dreads, and will leave no stone unturned to prevent.
Why was it that Job came to this terrible plight in the Book we are reading? Because God said “There is nobody like him on the earth—a perfect man; a man thoroughly, all round—of integrity.”
Yes, but there was one thing that neither Job nor his friends understood, and that was grace; and it could not be understood. He did know that God was a faithful God, and his piety led him to feel, and to stand to it, that all the troubles he came into were from God. And so they were, because the devil even had disappeared. It was not merely the devil that endeavored to cast him down. That he did most fully in both the first and second chapters. But at the end of the second chapter he was defeated and baffled, and went off, and never re-appeared.
It is the greatest mistake to suppose it is only the devil. In the millennium there will be sin and death when the devil is bound. In point of fact, the occasion of Job's breaking out so violently was his three dear friends; and they were pious men, too. But what about that, unless you are guided of God? And that is the very thing that this Book is so instructive in—that we cannot trust to be led even, by a pious man. With the best of intentions we require God's guidance and to be kept to it.
And it was these three pious men by their conduct, so far from God's thoughts, so thoroughly judging by appearances, it was that that made them think that there must be something very bad in Job, after all his appearance, after all his life that seemed so fair, and after everybody thinking that there was nobody like Job. Certainly, if God said there was nobody like him, you may depend upon it that all pious people thought the same. And it was true, but still there was the great lack; because Job, till he got Christ as an object, made an object of his own piety, and thought a great deal of himself.
It is one of the greatest mistakes that a believer can make—to think a great deal of himself. I think I drew attention to a beautiful word of the apostle Paul that teaches the very contrary— “esteeming others better than ourselves"; and that means any Christian. And yet the Christians may be full of faults in this way or that way.
But still, who is the person whose faults I know better than anybody's? My own. And therefore I can honestly and loyally count a man better than myself. I do not know his faults to be anything like the faults I know of myself. Of course, others have the very same and are called to the very same feeling, and they may have more reason, too; that is another question altogether. But we have to do with the fact that we know what we are, and we ought to know, and it is a great thing to grow in knowing, that we are not only nothing for guidance, but we are worse than nothing in the sight of God. Our nature is declared to be the flesh in enmity against God. And that is what we know working out. Other people may not see it; other people may not have any reason to see it.
But that is what every Christian should know who is not like Job, admiring himself because he is not like other people. That is, he is like the Pharisee.
“God, I thank thee I am not as other men.”
Yes, that is a very bad state; nothing could be worse—nothing worse in a believer. And these dear saints at that day were in imminent danger, every one of them, not even excepting Job. Job had a better knowledge of God, comparatively, than they; and Job stuck to it with amazing tenacity, first that all the trouble that came upon him was from God; that it was God who allowed it all to come upon him. He could have hindered every bit of it—and that he could not understand. Why, why, why? He had a thoroughly good conscience as far as that was concerned; he had no sin upon him at all, no particular defect of any sort. It was a question of self and not of sin; it was a question of never having judged himself in the presence of God fully.
I should like to know how many here in this room have judged themselves in that way now? I think they had better search and see. That is surely a very great lesson to learn, and it is a lesson that nobody likes to learn. It is always extremely painful, and it is very humbling to our comfortable thoughts of ourselves. Because we are occupied perhaps with the gospel, and we see that the gospel is completely clear. That does not touch self. It ought to lead to it; but it may not at all. And consequently there may be people most zealous in the gospel that are peculiarly ignorant of themselves—peculiarly so. They are generally occupied with other people, and have not much time for sober reflection and self-judgment; and therefore, active work in the Lord always pains, unless it is corrected by Christ—learned in this practical way by the power of God's Spirit judging everything of flesh-in ourselves. That is where they were all wrong, and it is bringing out that clearly—that it is not merely a question of the righteous government of God; but it was then the secret of grace. Now the grace is published; now it is proclaimed; now it is preached; now it is manifested; and therefore, now it is a far more serious thing. And there was what these Galatians overlooked entirely. They had never learned that yet; they were converted through the apostle; they were brought into the full joy of as good a gospel as ever was preached in this world—a great deal better than any of us preach it now. They were brought into that by the preaching of that blessed man—and yet they had not profited, to judge themselves. And it is this that we all need most deeply, in order that we may be kept from the snares that surround us, and which may spring upon us at any moment, even from friends just as dear as the three friends of Job. They were the occasion of this downfall, and that in a way that only God could have accomplished.
Well now, Bildad follows the line of Eliphaz, and says: “How long wilt thou speak these things?” He could not in the least understand it. “And how long shall the words of thy mouth be like a strong wind?” Because Job could not understand why: as he was quite sure of the perfection of God, quite sure of the faithfulness of God, quite sure that God loved him, quite sure that he loved God; “How has all this come upon me; what is the key to all this terrible suffering that I am sure God has sent?” He would not lay it upon circumstances. [W. K.]
(To be continued)

Notes on Jeremiah

Our meditations on Jeremiah have suggested forcibly to our minds a great and precious truth, viz., the purpose of God in Christ. For this purpose of God in part, as connected with the Jews and Jerusalem—their future restoration and establishment in peace, blessing and glory in their own land—we find very plainly set forth in Jeremiah. But the purpose of God in Christ Jesus is in its extent much wider than its connection with Israel. It is far-reaching and all-embracing, and presents a sure ground of confidence, comfort, hope and assurance for the heart of the believer. God has been graciously pleased to reveal His purposes in regard to man; whether for Israel or the world; whether as affecting saints or sinners; above all, as concerning Christ, and also the church.
How wonderful that God should purpose that man should be exalted, above angels, above principalities and powers! The question, why all the failure and ruin from the beginning and all through the world's history—man, Israel, the nations, the church, everywhere failure and ruin? —has doubtless occurred to every diligent reader of the Bible. There is one answer. God's purpose is not in the first, but in the Second man. How important it is to see this! Whatever the state of things in the world and in the church, however distracting and discouraging, we know that the purpose of God in Christ can never fail.
Man, the first man, Adam, is said to be “the figure of him that was to come” (Romans 5:14). Made head and center of this lower creation, placed in the garden of delights, surrounded by every token of divine power and goodness, he soon fell and brought in sin and ruin. Since the fall man has been tried and tested in every way, and the result has proved his incompetence and unworthiness to stand in any position of privilege or responsibility. The Second man was tried and tested in every way and was found to be absolutely perfect; perfect in every thought, word and deed; perfect in dependence and obedience. Wherefore God highly exalted Him. And not only is He the man of Psalm 8—worthy that everything here should be put under His feet, but He has a name given Him above every name, that at the name of Jesus every created being—heavenly, earthly and infernal—should bow the knee, and every tongue confess Him as Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11; Hebrews 2:5-9).
On the utter failure of man before and after the flood, Israel was called out to be Jehovah's peculiar treasure, a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation-to be a witness to the one true God, the Creator of all things, in the midst of an idolatrous world; but they alas soon broke down and were given over to Gentile rule and captivity.
Our chapter opens with a pronouncement of “woe” on those guilty kings of Judah who should have been as faithful pastors to Jehovah's flock, heeding and caring for them as the sheep of His pasture, but who helped by their wickedness to destroy and scatter them (vers. 1, 2). But if man is unfaithful God is faithful, and here makes known His love and care and purpose for His beloved though guilty people (vers. 3, 4).
Royalty, no less than priesthood, utterly failed in the hands of the first man. The best of the kings of Israel—David, Solomon and all the rest—broke down; and the wicked kings, as we see here, only helped to destroy and scatter the flock of God. The work of the enemy is to scatter and destroy. The work of grace is to save and gather.
This truth applies to Israel (chap. 31:10-14). The Jews will no doubt return to Jerusalem in unbelief; but grace will gather a remnant (verse 3) whose hearts will be prepared to receive Jesus their Messiah as their God (Isaiah 25:9; John 20:28); their King (John 1:49); their Savior (Isaiah 53); their Righteousnses (verse 6). In that day Jehovah—in spite of all that the first man is in the power of the enemy, in spite of angry nations or aught else—will set His King, “the righteous Branch,” the Second man, the First-begotten, upon His holy hill of Zion (Psalm 2). Priesthood and royalty will be united in His person; the true Melchisedec (righteousness), King of Salem (peace) —Psalm 110:4.; Hebrews 7— “He shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a priest upon His throne; and the counsel of peace shall be between them both” (Zechariah 6:13). “In those days shall Judah be saved and Israel shall dwell safely” (verse 6) —not on the ground of the old covenant, the covenant of works, but on the ground of a new covenant, the covenant of grace. Covenants belong to an earthly people, and so also this new covenant that is yet to be made, will be with the house of Israel and the house of Judah (Hebrews 8:7-10). The Remnant will not come under the declaration of Romans 10:1-3, that they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” For they will have been brought to feel and own their guilt and unrighteousness, and will “know His name” — “Jehovah our righteousness.”
Nebuchadnezzar the king, and all kings, emperors and rulers of the nations of the world have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. And what a scene the world presents today! Are the angry nations unconsciously paving the way for the furtherance of the plans and purposes of God for the establishment of His righteous government of the world in peace, blessing and glory under the rule of the Second man, “[the Lord] from heaven"? Not only is He the King of the Jews (Matthew 2:2; 27:37), of Israel (Isaiah 44:6; John 1:49), of the nations (John 10:7); He is the “God,” “the Lord” — “of all the earth” (Isaiah 54:5; Micah 4:13; Zechariah 4:14). In that day He will ask and receive the heathen for His inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for His possession (Psalm 2; Isaiah 32:1, 2). “And His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth” (Zechariah 9:10).
But judgment must precede the glory (Psalm 2). How astonished the nations will be! “The kings shall shut their mouths at Him; for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider” (Isaiah 52:15). How soon the Lord may come, first as the Bridegroom to receive His own to Himself, and take them to the Father's house; then as Judge and King to punish the world for its iniquity—and bring in righteousness, peace, blessing and glory—complete deliverance for a groaning creation!
“Break forth, O earth, in praises!
Dwell on His wondrous story;
The Savior's name and love proclaim,
The King who reigns in glory. See on the Throne beside Him,
O'er all her foes victorious,
His royal bride for whom He died,
Like Him forever glorious.

“ Ye of the seed of Jacob,
Behold the royal Lion
Of Judah's line, in glory shine,
And fill His throne in Zion.
Blest with Messiah's favor,
A ransomed, holy nation,
Your offerings bring to Christ your King,
The God of your salvation.
“Come, O ye kings! ye nations!
With songs of gladness hail Him,
Ye Gentiles all before Him fall,
The royal Priest in Salem.
O'er hell and death triumphant
Your conquering Lord hath risen;
His praises sound whose power hath bound
Your ruthless foe in prison.”
But there were deeper counsels, higher purposes and richer blessing in the mind of God before the ages of time than that which relates to millennial blessing, rest and glory for the world under the righteous and beneficent reign of Christ. There was the purpose of love and promise of eternal life in Christ for
made good in righteousness and truth to the glory of God in redemption through the precious blood of Christ; made known by the preaching of the glad tidings by “the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven” (1 Peter 1:12); and made good in the heart of sinners through faith. So that the apostle could say in full assurance of faith, “Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Timothy 1:9).
Next, the purpose of God for
“We know” (we Christians), says the apostle, “that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:28, 29).
“Hail to the King of glory;
Head of the new creation-
The ways of grace we love to trace,
And praise Thy great salvation.
Thy heart was pressed with sorrow
The bonds of death to sever,
To make us free, that we might be
Thy crown of joy forever.”
Last, but by no means least, the purpose for Christ and the church, the consideration of which we must leave for another occasion.
[C. J. D.]

The Son of Man in Heaven

The second of Luke's letters to his friend Theophilus does not stiffly and formally take up the inspired narrative where the first of them had left it; there is rather an easy and graceful intertwining or intervolving of the two; the second going back a little into the scenes and the seasons which closed the first, giving them the same general character with a few faint distinguishing features. But each of these letters, “the Gospel by Luke,” and “the Acts of the Apostles,” has of course, as I need not say, its own proper subject.
In the early chapters of the second of them, that is, of “the Acts of the Apostles,” and to which I am now, for a little, addressing myself, we get an account of Jesus as Man glorified in the heavens; as in the early chapters of the first of them we got an account of God manifest in flesh on the earth. I mean, this is characteristic, severally, of each of them. The Person is, surely, one and the same in both; the God-Man.
We learn many things connected with the Son of man in heaven, from the Evangelists, where that mystery is anticipated now and again. The Lord Himself tells us that He is to be seen there by faith all through this present age, seated at the right hand of power; and that in due time He will come forth from thence in the clouds of heaven (Matthew 26:64). He tells us also, that when He has come forth, He will sit on the throne of His glory (Matthew 25:31). These are but mere samples of the way in which this great mystery was thus anticipated. But the Person seen in the Evangelists is God manifested in the flesh, and, as such, in action on the earth. In these chapters of the Acts, succeeding the Evangelists, it is, on the other hand, Man glorified in heaven, and acting there.
In chapter 1, Jesus of Nazareth, who was God manifest in flesh here, is seen ascending the heavens.
In chapter 2, the promised Spirit is given, and Peter begins his preaching by taking this gift, according to the prophecy of Joel, as his text. And after reciting it, he says, “Ye men of Israel, hear these words. Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” And he then shows, from Psalm 16; 110, that this Man thus approved of God on earth, was now raised from the dead and glorified at the right hand of God in heaven.
Thus the mystery is established, the mystery of the Son of man, Jesus of Nazareth, exalted in the heavens. Then, as the Evangelists had already looked at Jesus as He walked, and ministered, and toiled, and suffered here on earth, so now in his preaching, in this and in the following chapters, Peter gives us some of the ways and virtues of this same Jesus now ascended into heaven.
Thus, in this same chapter 2, with Joel still as his text, he tell,; us, that He is the God mentioned in that prophecy, who has now sent down the Spirit. According to Joel, therefore, it is the God of Israel who does this great Pentecostal wonder; according to Peter, it is the Man now in heaven that does it.
This is surely a magnificent way in which to begin the story of the virtues and glories of Jesus of Nazareth, now glorified on high at God's right hand; where also Peter declares Him to be seated, till the day come for making His foes His footstool, as the “My Lord,” of the hundred and tenth Psalm. And then, on the authority of these things, he calls the whole house of Israel to own the once crucified Man to be both Lord and Christ. And when a number of his hearers are aroused by this preaching, he publishes to them the virtue of “the name” of this glorified One, that it can secure eternal life and the gift of the Spirit to all sinners who receive it.
Then, in chapter 3, this same Apostle tells us several other great things of Jesus in the heavens—that it was His name, through faith in it, that had just healed the lame beggar at the gate of the Temple—that He was the Prophet promised by Moses in Deuteronomy 18—that the heavens are now retaining Him, but that He is again to leave them in due season, to bring with Him back to the earth, times of refreshing and restitution of all things spoken by the mouth of His holy prophets.
Then, in chapter 4, he preaches through this same Jesus, “the resurrection from the dead” and further proclaims, that He was “the Head of the corner,” according to Psalm 118, and the only One set of God for salvation in this guilty world. And towards the close of this chapter, he and his fellow-saints at Jerusalem lay the name of this same Jesus before the Lord God, the Maker of the heaven and the earth, as all their confidence and title to blessing.
Then, in chapter 5, Peter and the other apostles testify in the face of the Jewish council, that this same blessed One whom they had slain and hanged on a tree, God had exalted with His right hand to be both a Prince and a Savior, everything indeed to Israel, whether for blessing or government.
After these manners, in the course of this preaching, we get a large and varied testimony to the Man in heaven. Well may it follow the ineffably weighty and blessed testimony of the Evangelists to the Son of the Father, God manifest in flesh, on earth. But here, with this fifth chapter, the apostolic testimony under the given Spirit ends. We pass from it to a vision (chap. 7.). For after this hearing about the glorified Man, we are given for a little moment, a sight of Him. Peter had been preaching Him, Stephen is now to see Him. They are alike witnesses, though in different ways, to the same great mystery, that the Son of man was in heaven at the right hand of God. Stephen is cast by wicked men outside the city to be stoned, while his face is shining like that of an angel; and his eye is opened, and he looks up to, and within, the opened heavens, and there sees the glory of God, and Jesus, “the Son of man,” standing at the right hand of God.
Thus is the Man in heaven testified by the eye of Stephen as He had been by the lips of Peter. The Spirit fills the one with an inspired tale about Him, and God opens the eye of the other with a glorious sight, of Him. But the object is the same—the glorified Man, the Son of man in heaven, Jesus of Nazareth at the right hand of the majesty on high—the One, who having been “God manifest in the flesh” here, humbled, serving, crucified, buried, and raised again, was now in His Manhood exalted to the highest place of honor there.
One thing, however, still remains in the revelation of this great mystery. In chapter 9, this glorified Man comes down from heaven, and shows Himself for a little moment, here on earth. In holy, peaceful glory, and in the attitude of one that was receiving him to Himself with a blissful and perfect welcome, He had just been seen (chap. 7.), as in His due place in heaven, by His suffering saint. But now, in terrible majesty in the burning brightness of judicial glory, He is seen by the persecutor of His saint, here on earth. He thus appears as One ready and all-powerful to avenge the blood of His slaughtered flock. Mercy indeed shall rejoice over judgment in the present case, and the persecutor shall become a Witness and an Apostle; but the vision tells us that the Man in heaven waits there, as in other characters, so in this, the Avenger, in due time, of the wrongs done in the earth. This is so, and this is here pledged and foreshadowed. For we know that Jesus has ascended in various characters. He has ascended as to His native place, the glory He had with the Father ere the world was—He has ascended to prepare mansions in the Father's house for the elect. He has ascended as their Forerunner—He has ascended to sit in the God—pitched Tabernacle as our High Priest—He has ascended as the Author and Finisher of faith, and as the Purger of sins—but He has ascended also to take His place as Adonai at the right hand of Jehovah, till He makes His foes His footstool. And this last character He must return to earth to fulfill, as now He comes down to the road which lay between Jerusalem and Damascus to give, as it were, a sample of this, and to put the sentence of death in this persecuting Saul of Tarsus.
J. G. B.

Sanctification Without Which There Is No Christianity: Part 1

There is something very sweet in the certainty with which the apostle Peter presents to us the truths contained in this epistle. There is neither hesitation nor uncertainty. The word speaks of things received, of a certainty for those to whom it is addressed. Their faith was tried, but the thing was certain. The apostle speaks here of an inexhaustible fund of truths which belonged to him and it is not as one groping in the dark that he speaks of it. These things are too important to be left in doubt; they deserve all our attention; our hearts need it. It is not the unregenerate heart that loves the Lord Jesus; one may be brave and all that, and think that, if one's conduct is good, the result in heaven will be accordingly, but therein is no love for the Lord Jesus. And this is the badge of the Christian.
The apostle says, in the eighth verse: “Whom [Christ] not having seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” Now, there is no such thing as this without the new birth, which is a new life, which has an object that preoccupies it. It is an entirely new life, which has interests, affections, quite a new world; and without that there is no Christian, because there is not Christ.
We will now see the two principles laid down in this chapter, and in the work here attributed to the Holy Spirit.
God finds the soul in a certain position, in certain relations, and removes it to place it in quite a new state; and this separation is according to the power of the resurrection of Christ.
The apostle speaks to the Jews of the dispersion (that is, to those of whom it is spoken in John 7:35, those dispersed among the Greeks) in these words: “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father,” etc. He addressed himself to the dispersed, to the Jews converted to Christianity, to those who were elect according to the foreknowledge of God, through “sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace,” etc. He says this because he is speaking of another election than that of the Jewish people. The Jewish nation was elected after another manner. Here he writes, as we said, to Jews who had believed on the Lord Jesus; so that sanctification in them was no sanctification of a nation by outward means, but by the Holy Spirit, who separated the souls from among the Jews to belong to God, and to form a part of the present dispensation of grace. It was not with them as with the ancient Jews, who were separated from the Egyptians by the Red Sea; they were separated by the sanctification effected by the Holy Spirit. Observe particularly this word “sanctification": the first idea is separation for God, not only from evil, but a setting part for God, who sanctifies.
This is what God does in those whom He calls. God finds souls lying in evil. John on this subject says, in his First Epistle, chap. 5: 19: “We are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness;” and it is very precious to have things clearly stated. “We are of God;” it is not merely that we should conduct ourselves aright; doubtless, that is well; but the great difference is, that we are of God, and that “the whole world lieth in wickedness.” Does that mean that we are always as we should be? No; but we are of God. One is not all one would desire to be; that will come to pass only in heaven; for it is only there that God will make us conformed to the image of His beloved Son.
But this is what God has done: He has separated us to Himself, as a man who hews stones out of a quarry. The stone is hewn out of the quarry, and set apart, destined to be cut and fashioned, in order to be placed in the appointed building. And God detaches a soul from the quarry of this world, to separate it for Himself. I say not but that there is much to do, for a rough stone cut out of the quarry requires often to have considerable labor expended upon it before it is placed in the building for which it is destined. Even so God separates, prepares, and fashions this soul, to introduce it into His spiritual building. There are many useless matters to take off, but God acts every day in His grace; howsoever, this soul is sanctified, set apart for God, from the moment it is taken out of the quarry of this world.
The apostle speaks here of sanctification before he mentions obedience and the blood of Jesus Christ. We are sanctified for these two things (ver. 2.); “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Christ.” The stone is entirely His, and adapted to His purpose. Although He has yet to work upon it, the question is not of what He does each day, but generally of the appropriation to the end God has proposed to Himself. It is the Holy Spirit who acts in the soul, and appropriates it to the end God has proposed to Himself. It is the Holy Spirit who acts in the soul, and appropriates it to Himself. It may previously have been very honorable or very wicked in its conduct; that is all the same; only it will be more grateful, if it feels itself more evil; but as to its former condition that matters little, it belongs now to God.
To what does God destine this soul? To obedience. Up to this period it has done little but its own will; it has followed its own way, no matter what appearances may have been, more or less good, more or less bad; it is all one. The character may have been weak, or more or less fiery, until, as with Paul, the Lord arrested him on his road: now behold this soul, hitherto filled with its own will, set apart for obedience.
Paul had been very learned in what concerned the religion of his fathers; he had sat at the feet of Gamaliel. He honestly believed that he had done the will of God, but there was nothing of the kind; he followed his own will, according to the direction impressed by the tradition of his fathers. Never, till the moment that Jesus stopped him on the way to Damascus, had he said, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?”
Thus, whatever may have been the conduct of a soul before this setting apart, nothing of all that has made it do the will of God. But the aim of the life of a soul sanctified, set apart, is to do the will of God. It may fail, but that is its aim. Jesus said, “Lo, I come to do thy will, O God.” He had no need of sanctification in one sense, because He was holy; but the aim of His whole life was obedience. Here I am “to do thy will, O God.” He took the form of a servant, became in the likeness of men, and He was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. He existed only for God; the principle of His life was obedience. He was come to do nothing but His Father's will.
As soon as a soul is sanctified, it is sanctified unto obedience, and that is manifested by the spirit of dependence which has done with its own will. It says: “What must I do?” It may fail, through weakness, in many respects, but that is its aim.
As to the second thing, we are sanctified to enjoy the sprinkling of blood; first to obedience, then to enjoy the sprinkling of blood. The soul, thus placed under the influence of the blood of Christ, is thereby completely cleansed. The blood of the Son of God cleanses us from all sin; it is by the efficacy of His blood that we are separated from this world.
The question here is not of the blood of bulls and goats, which could not sanctify the conscience of him who did the service, but it is the blood of Christ, who by the Eternal Spirit, offered Himself without spot to God. It is this blood which purifies the conscience.
The Jews, under the law, said indeed, trusting to their own strength, We will do all that Thou hast spoken. They undertook to do everything, when it was prescribed to them as a condition. But here it is much more; it is the Spirit that makes them say, “What wilt thou have me to do?” It is submission; it is the principle of obedience, really produced in the heart: ‘I know not what Thou wilt, but here am I to do Thy will.' It is obedience without reserve. There is no question here of rules that man cannot accomplish, but of the whole will changed, no more to do one's own will, but to do God's will.
The book of the law was sprinkled, as well as the people; but that gave its efficacy to the requisitions of the law, while the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus gives to the changed heart the purification and the peace which belong to those who are placed under the efficacy of His blood. We are placed there as the Jews were under the blood of the goat of atonement; not, however, for a year only, but forever.
As to a soul, then, that the Holy Spirit has hewn out of the quarry of this world, being honest, amiable, kept by the good providence of God, but withal doing its own will—well, God has found it there in the world and of the world, notwithstanding all its good qualities, and He has to put His love in its heart, in order that it may, without hesitation, care only about the will of God to do it. But, thus separated, it is under the blood of sprinkling, it is cleansed from all its sin.
That is the first principle; the separation wrought by God Himself, who places us outside of this world, or rather of the things of this world, and makes us Christians; without this there is no Christianity.
God acts effectually. He does nothing by halves; and that is all His work. God does not deceive Himself. He must have realities. He does not deceive Himself as we deceive ourselves, and as we try to deceive others, although we deceive others less than we deceive ourselves.
I would point out to you the meaning of the word “sanctification": it is rarely used in the Scriptures in the sense in which we generally use it; that is to say, in the progressive sense. It is only three times employed in this sense. It is said: “Follow peace with all men, and holiness (sanctification), without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). “The very God of peace sanctify you wholly” (1 Thessalonians 5:23). I quote these two passages to show that I do not set aside this sense of the word; but it more particularly designates an act of separation, a setting apart for God. If we have not laid hold of this meaning, there will be an entire mistake as to what sanctification is. In the two above-quoted passages, the work has an every-day application. In the sense in which it is used by the apostle in the beginning of this Epistle, it is perfectly in the sense of taking a stone out of the quarry of this world to fashion it for God.
Sanctification is attributed to the Father in more than one place in the Bible. See Hebrews 10:10. Now, it is by this will that we are sanctified; by the offering made once of the body of Jesus Christ. It is by this will of God that we are sanctified.
1. There is the first thought, the will of God, which is, to set us apart (to sanctify us).
2. And the means, -it is the offering of Christ.
And it is always (with scarcely more than one exception, which we have already quoted) in this manner that it is spoken of in the Hebrews. Sanctification is attributed to God the Father in another passage also—Jude 1.
The Father having willed to have children for Himself, the blood of Jesus does the work, and the Holy Spirit comes to accomplish the counsels of the Father, and to give them efficacy by producing the practical effect in the heart. The soul separated from the world is sanctified by that very fact. There is the old trunk which pushes forth its shoots, but God acts in pruning; and His acting, which takes place by the Holy Spirit, works the daily practical sanctification. The heart is each day more and more set apart. It is not like a vase, because in man it is the heart which is set apart. Thus, when life is communicated, and thereby the man is sanctified, there is a daily work of sanctification which applies to the affections, to the habits, to the walk, etc.
Let us see how God does this—
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (ver. 3).
Such is the way He does it. God sets us apart for Himself. It is not by modifying what was bad in us, but by creating us anew; by making afresh a new creature, for the old man cannot be made subject to the law. He gives a new life.
If one be not thus born anew, one belongs yet to the world, which is under condemnation; but when God acts, it is altogether another thing. Being born in Adam, we have need to be born by Christ. When the heart is visited by the Holy Spirit, one is begotten again by a life which is not of this world, which urges it to another end, Christ. It is not by precepts addressed to the old man; it is by another life. The precepts follow afterward; that is to say, that this life of which we speak, which is the new birth, belongs not to this world, neither in its source, nor in its aim; it cannot have a single thing in common with the old life. This life is found here below in the body; we eat, work, etc., as before; but that is not what Christ came for. Christ came to make us comprehend quite another thing from the life here below, into which He entered. And that is the rule of the Christian's conduct. He has for object, for aim, and for joy what Christ has for object, aim, and joy; his affections are heavenly, as those of Christ.
If the life of Christ is in me, the life and the Spirit of Christ in me cannot find joy in that wherein Christ finds not His joy.
The Spirit of Christ in me cannot be a different spirit than it was in Him; and it is evident that he who is separated from this world for God cannot find pleasure in the life of sin of this world, and prefer it to that of heaven.
We know well that the Christian often fails in this rule; but this hinders not that there is nothing in common between the life of heaven and that of the world. It is not a question of prohibitions as to using this or that, but of having altogether other tastes, desires, and joys; and it is on that account people imagine that Christians are sad, as if they were absorbed by only one thought.
It is that our joys are altogether different from those of the world; the world knows not our joys.
No unrenewed person can comprehend what renders the Christian happy; that is to say, that his tastes are not for the things of this world.
His thoughts rise higher. This is the joy of the Christian, that Christ is entered into heaven, and has Himself destroyed all that could have hindered us from entering there.
Death, Satan, and the wicked spirits, have been conquered by Christ, and the resurrection has annihilated all that was between Him and the glory. Christ placed Himself in our position.
He underwent the consequences of it. He has conquered the world and Satan. It is written, “Resist devil, and he will flee from you:” if he is already conquered, we have not to conquer him, but to resist him. When we resist him, he knows he has met Christ, his conqueror. The flesh does not resist him. Jesus gives us a lively hope by His resurrection from the dead; in this way, and being in Him, we are on a foundation which cannot fail.
Christ has already shown that He has won the victory; and what grace is here presented to us Even that of obtaining the inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for us, who are kept by the power of God through faith, etc. (vers. 4, 5).
This treasure is in heaven. I have nothing to, fear, it is in perfect safety. But this is what I fear as to myself, temptations, all sorts of difficulties, for I am not in heaven. That is true; but what gives every security, is not that we are not tried or tempted, but that in the trial here below, we are kept, as the inheritance is kept in heaven for us.
Here is the position of the Christian, set apart by the resurrection of Christ, and begotten again., It is that, in waiting for the glory, we are kept by the power of God, through faith, separated from the world by the power and communication of the life of Him who has won the victory over all that could have hindered us from having a part in it.
And why are these trials sent to us? It is God who works the soil, in order that all the affections, of the heart, thus sifted, may be purified and exercised, and perfectly in harmony with the glory of heaven, and with the objects which are set before us.
Is it for naught that gold is put in the furnace, or because it is not gold? No; it is to purify it.
God, by trials, takes out of our hearts that which is impure, in order that when the glory arrives we may enjoy it.
Let us see a little what the apostle says on this subject: “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (vers. 6, 7). Whereabouts are we, then, when the process of sanctification is carried on? It is that although we have not seen Jesus, we love Him; and although now we see Him not, yet believing, we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, receiving the end of our faith, even the salvation of our souls.
It is there the heart finds itself; and whatever be the circumstances of the present life, Christ is present in the midst of our temptations, and the heart always finds itself close to Jesus, the source of its happiness; and while saying that His love is boundless, passes all knowledge, we can say also that we have the intelligence of it.
The magnet always turns towards the pole; the needle always trembles a little when the storm and tempest roar, but its direction changes not; the needle of the Christian heart points always towards Christ. A heart which understands, which loves Jesus, which knows where Jesus has passed before it, looks at Him to sustain it through its difficulties; and however rugged and difficult the way, it is precious to us, because we find there the trace of the steps of Jesus (He has passed there), and specially because this road conducts us, through difficulties, to the glory in which He is. Seeing, says the apostle, that if need be, it is “that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold, that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”
It is not only that we have been begotten again, but that we receive the end of our faith, even the salvation of our souls. The end of my faith is to see Christ, and the glory that He has gained for me. He says here, the salvation of the soul, because the question is not of a temporal deliverance, as in the case of the ancient Jews. I see now this glory through a veil, but I long to see myself there. And being now in the trial, I look to Him who is in the glory, and who secures it to me. The gold will be completely purified; but the gold is there: as to me, as to my eternal life, it is the same thing as if I were in the glory. Salvation and glory are not the less certain, though I am in the trial, than if I were already in the rest. And that is practical sanctification; habits, affections, and a walk formed after the life and calling one has received from God.
[J. N. D.]
(To be continued)

Condemned With the World

Q. 1 Cor. 11:32. “But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world."-Does “condemned with the world” mean (as some affirm) judged or criticized by the world, which, if given the cause, is ready to point the finger and say, There are these Christians!? If this is not the meaning, what is? T.H.
A.-To be “condemned with the world” is to share its doom. Once we were of the world, but now, as believers, we are “not of the world.” The Christian can say, “There is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.”
Is there then liberty for carelessness of walk and ways? Assuredly not. We are called to holiness in every manner of behavior, because it is written, “Be ye holy; for I am holy.” We are children of God, and our Father judges according to each man's work without respect of persons. Hence the call to pass the time of our sojourning in fear, knowing we have been redeemed at how great a cost!— the precious blood of Christ.
So here, the Corinthians were guilty of dissoluteness, and irreverence in the assembly, and accordingly the Lord's disciplinary hand was upon them as Son over His house. Many were weak and sickly, and some overtaken by death. For there is “sin unto death.” If, therefore, we Christians are judged, it is here and not hereafter. We are chastened now of the Lord who cannot but take cognizance of every believer's ways.
From this it will be seen, how entirely beside the mark is the affirmation that the passage means “judged or criticized by the world"!


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Lectures on Job 8:4-10

Lect. 3. (Continued)
But there were, to add to the terrible agony that he passed through outwardly, inward agonies. It really was one billow after another overcoming this poor man in such a sea of trouble as never came upon any man since the world began. How was all that? He was stung by the insinuation of his friends (he held to it firmly that it was all false) that he was not a true man, and that he did not love God. He was not conscious of a single sin; nevertheless, he owned it was God. That was what made the riddle, and no wonder at all. It was impossible that it should not have been a riddle, in those days, except by special teaching of God. There was one that appeared later, and Elihu did in some measure understand; but it was the Lord who put an end to all the uncertainty.
Now that Christ has come, there is no ground for it; only, beloved friends, we may treat the gospel now very much as is done in Christendom, and regard it as pretty much the same thing as there has always been, only with a little more light—a sort of new edition of Judaism—improved, that is all. Whereas it is entirely new—it is an absolutely new creation, a new light altogether. It is not merely the dim torch, as it were, on the earth; it is the light of heaven revealed in our Lord Jesus. They had none of that-none whatever. There was a looking for Him, but it was entirely in an earthly way. They looked to Him as the Messiah; they looked for Him as one who would meet their difficulties; but it was very, very shallow—anything that any one of them knew about it. We must not confound prophetic anticipations with the experience of the saints. The prophets did not always understand their own prophecy. They had to search and learn what the meaning was, just as you have to do now; but if you have all the prophecies, they do not give you what the gospel does.
The gospel is the revelation of God's righteousness. They were all occupied with man's righteousness produced by divine goodness, by faith, by looking for the Messiah; but they had no idea of the total judgment of man, and that this is an entirely new thing from God, communicated to the soul. This is what Christendom has never endured and never possessed. It has Christianity, but a very small amount of Christianity is quite enough for Christendom. Well, here then this man breaks out into this rebuke of job for his extreme feeling. How could the man do anything but feel? And what were they about that they did not deeply feel for him? There they were, quite comfortable; and there they were, judging there must be something very bad; and I need not tell you that that deeply wounded the poor injured man. It was pouring vitriol into his wounds; it. was not binding them with wine and oil, cleansing the wound, but, on the contrary, deepening and poisoning it.
And these were his three friends! What a lesson! Well, Bildad goes further, however. He says, “If thy children have sinned against him, and he have cast them away for their transgression” —there they thought they had him. How could God do such a thing as to kill all his children unless there was something very bad in them? It was all the same principle, and the same false principle. And what shows the falsity of the principle is the universal test. Bring Christ in. Was it any want of God's delight in Christ that allowed Christ to be the greatest sufferer, far beyond Job? It was therefore altogether a false estimate, and a false principle underneath the estimate, to imagine that there must be evil in the person that came to this depth of suffering.
“If thy children have sinned against him, and he have cast them away for their transgression” —they never could rise above that— “If thou wouldest seek unto God betimes, and make thy supplication to the Almighty; if thou wert pure and upright” —ah! there they were at it again! It was not merely the children then that had transgression! “If thou wert pure and upright” —why, Job was much more so than they— “If thou wert pure and upright; surely now he would awake for thee.” Certainly not; the Lord was going to have the trial brought to its full completion; and He allowed all these discussions in order to bring out everything that was in their hearts, and then came He in with His own word completely setting down these principles which governed the three friends, and Job not able properly to answer them.
He could demolish their arguments, but that is a very different thing. A clever man could, of course, easily overthrow a foolish reasoning; but that is a very different thing from getting in the truth. The truth requires God and His word and His Spirit; and we never can have these in a difficulty except by entire dependence upon God. And if we have got any self-will at work, which was very much the case with Job as well as with his three friends—self-will is a most darkening thing—you never can have the certainty of the will of God where self-will is not steadily seen and judged as altogether beneath you. “Though thy beginning was small, yet thy latter end should greatly increase.”
Then he appeals to another thing. Eliphaz had spoken of his own personal experience; Bildad differs in the manner in which he defends their theme by bringing in the traditions of other people. Those are the two ways in which men are apt to slip away from the truth—confidence in self; confidence in other people no better than oneself; confidence in anyone but God. So he says, “Inquire, I pray thee, of the former age” for people think that a little further back is where we should go. Why, beloved friends, we want to go back to the beginning; we want to go back to God's beginning. People talk about the early fathers; well, that is a great deal too late; why do not they talk about the apostles? Because they are as far from them as they can possibly be. There is not the slightest resemblance—except the mere name of things-a totally different reality. And so it was here. Had they gone back to the garden of Eden? Ah, that is not a former age; that was the beginning where God manifested Himself.
They were all arguing on the ground of righteousness. Not one of them had taken in, up to this and for long after, any thought of grace. And Job only arrived at it at last by the intervention of God. There he was dust and ashes. There he took the place of nothingness and worse than nothingness; and then it was he was blessed; then it was that he was vindicated by God, and not till then. So Bildad goes on with this, “Shall not they teach thee, and tell thee, and utter words out of their heart?” But we want the words out of God's heart; it is not any but His heart that can do. “Can the rush grow up without mire? Can the flag grow without water?” Well, that is just what their condition was—mire and water, no substance at all, but just mire and water; and their thoughts were no better than the flag that grew out of the water, or the reed that grew out of the mire. And he talks about the hypocrite being no better than a spider's web. That is just exactly what they were, though they were not hypocrites; but still they were all wrong in their reasonings, and wrong reason is never better than a spider's web.
And so he describes in a very lively and wonderful manner the man that had known the hypocrite, and all this was a sly hit at Job. There is where they were so very wrong. “He shall lean upon his house, but it shall not stand; he shall hold it fast, but it shall not endure. He is green before the sun, and his branch shooteth forth in his garden. His roots are wrapped about the heap” to get a little strength from the heap— “and seeth the place of stones.” That is what the reed does in order to get tenacity. “If he destroy him from his place, than it shall deny him, saying, I have not seen thee.” That is the case with man upon the earth; he passes away, and his memory is so forgotten that the place itself even says it never saw him, or it was all completely forgotten. This he applies to the hypocrite. “Behold, God will not cast away a perfect man.” But God was trying and troubling the perfect at that very moment; they never could take this into their minds; they did not understand it nor believe it in the slightest degree, and hence their reasons were all false, and more than that, thoroughly unkind; and it is a sad thing to be unkind to what is good and true, as also it is a sad thing to be very kind to what is not good and what is not true. This is what they were about; that is where they got through want of the guidance of God, and of the truth.
Chap. 9. Now we come to a very grand chapter, but still we find the lack of Christ. Job raises that question. “I know it is so of a truth.” He did not deny what they were saying, about the hypocrite, in the least; he agreed with them fully. Only he said, as it were, “You are all mistaken in thinking I am a hypocrite.” “I know it is so of a truth; but how should man be just with God?” There was the great difficulty for him. He fully believed in God's faithfulness to himself, and His faithfulness to His children generally; but still where was the ground? Well there was no ground yet at all. It was all hope. It was a hope of the Christ that was coming, without their knowing how Christ would answer to that hope. They only knew it would be all right, but how, they had no idea. That Christ should become the righteousness of the believer—oh, what a wonderful thing that is! Well, the prophet Jeremiah speaks of Jehovah's righteousness; but I do not believe the prophet Jeremiah understood anything about it at all. How could he? Nobody could. Look at the apostles themselves. They had all the Old Testament to help them, and all the teaching of the Lord Jesus during the time of His ministry, yet they were entirely ignorant of it. They had not a notion of it until the cross began to enlighten them, and particularly the resurrection, and fully, the Holy Ghost—the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. He brought in the truth that was in Christ, but their eyes were holden that they could not take it in—could not see.
So Job describes in a very grand manner what God is in His ways—His uncontrollable power and authority. He knew man was weak and faulty. Nevertheless, Job did not doubt that God would see him through all his difficulties, but on what ground of righteousness he could not conceive. If man was a poor sinful man, and nevertheless God showed him saving mercy, how was man to be just? You cannot put justice and sins together until you have got Christ, who died for the sins and rose again for the believer's justification. There the sins are completely blotted out. How could Job know anything about that? Nobody knew it; no man on earth. Their idea of the Messiah was more of a great king that would be full of goodness and mercy to his people upon the earth. But that He should be made unto us righteousness as well as wisdom and sanctification and redemption! oh, dear no! they did not in the least understand; how could they?... I daresay that the people in Christendom think it was all known pretty much as they know it now. There was no power, no joy, no peace, but always entreating that God would show them mercy as poor, miserable sinners; there was no idea of salvation. Well, here Job describes God's power in a wonderful way. “Which shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble; which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not, and sealeth up the stars; which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea.” Very grand; wonderfully so; and very true. “Which maketh Arcturus” —that is in the constellation of Arctophylax or Bootes (the Herdsman), near the seven stars which people call “Charles Wain.” The Arabs called the latter, however, a very different thing, viz., “The Greater Bear.” They made the four stars to be the body, and the three stars were the tail. However, this is Arcturus; and Orion and the Pleiades go by the same names still. These are all in the northern sphere; but the people of those days had penetrated enough to cross the line, and they were aware that there was a southern world. They did not know much about it; they knew very little. Of course they did not know America, except very obscurely. There were hints from time to time that there was something in the west; but in the south they had no idea of Australia or New Zealand.
He goes on, “which doeth great things, past finding out; yea, and wonders without number. Lo, he goeth by me, and I see him not; he passeth on also, but I perceive him not. Behold, he taketh away, who can hinder him? who will say unto him, What doest thou?” (verses 6-12). That is exactly where poor Job was. He was quite sure that it was of God, and that is the very thing that made the difficulty. Because his conscience was pure toward God, and he knew the goodness of God, and yet how was this? He could not understand it, neither did they in the slightest degree. “If God will not withdraw his anger, the proud helpers do stoop under him. How much less shall I answer him?” There he is beginning to feel his weakness. He was not a proud man; but as all men are, till they learn in the way that I have described, he had a very good opinion of himself. That must all come down. If a man is to be blessed, or a woman, the blessing will not come by a good opinion of oneself; that is wrong, and the greatest hindrance to the blessing of God, and the enjoyment of His grace. “Though I were righteous, yet would I not answer.” There, you see, was thorough piety. “But I would make supplication to my judge. If I had called, and he had answered me, yet would I not believe that he had hearkened unto my voice.”
Well, that was great ignorance of God; because God does answer, and God does hear; and God delights in His children now; now that they are cleared, now that they know Him, He delights in perfect intimacy and love with Himself. “For he breaketh me with a tempest” —and that was true— “and multiplieth my wounds without cause.” Ah! without cause; that is a little too much to say. He had His own wise cause; He had His own blessed end. He meant that Job should be a far happier man and brighter in his state than he had ever been before; and till Christ came it could be only by making him a bag of broken bones —to learn that all the goodness was in God and all the badness was in himself. “If I speak of strength lo, he is strong; and if of judgment, who shall set me a time to plead? If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse. Though I were perfect, yet would I not know my soul: I would despise my life. This is one thing, therefore I said it, He destroyeth the perfect and the wicked.” That is what they thought was a terrible blasphemy, but that is what he thinks.
We understand it. The greatest calamity might come, and God send it, and a number of people perfectly innocent might perish just as much as the wicked people-say the sack of a city, or a pestilence sent by God in His moral government. Well, I, say, these things are there undoubtedly, and Job stuck to that. All their tally did not at all drive him from the plain fact which they shirked and shut their eyes to. “The earth,” he says, “is given into the hand of the wicked.” And is not that true? Is not Satan the god, and the prince, of this world? That is wicked enough. And further, “He covereth the faces of the judges thereof,” i.e., he allows the judges to pronounce altogether wrongly and unjustly. That is, somehow or other their faces are veiled from the light, and they judge according to appearance. It is very certain that that is not a way to judge soundly. “If not, where, and who is he?” Who is he that does that? These things happen; innocent people suffer; guilty people escape; all these things are coming every day—are coming in England. It is not merely in Turkey, or Russia, or Tartary, or China; no, it is in England, in London; and nobody can hinder it. Things are out of course, and will be till the Lord takes the reins.
“If I say, I will forget my complaint, I will leave off my heaviness, and comfort myself; I am afraid of all my sorrows, I know that thou wilt not hold me innocent. If I be wicked, why then labor I in vain? If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so clean; yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me.” That is, God will show him to be defective after all. That is true. If you are resting upon yourself, you are resting upon a ground that is not approved before God. If you are resting upon Christ, you have got the only solid ground that never can be taken from you. So he closes. “For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment. Neither is there any daysman betwixt us.” That is what Christ became; Christ became the mediator between God and men; and not merely a mediator, but a mediator who is equally divine with the God before whom He acts as mediator for us. If there had not been the hand of God in the cross, there could have been no divine redemption. It was God that forsook His Son; it was God that turned away His face from Him; and, therefore, now what is brought in is the righteousness of God. And there is nothing against that. But it is a justifying righteousness; it is not a condemning righteousness. The same God that condemned under the law saved under grace, because of Christ.
Well, then, we come to a great lament in the tenth chapter, and I may be very brief with that; for we shall have a great deal of this lament throughout the Book. We have had it already, so there is no need particularly to dwell upon it. My object is not to go into every word, but to give a sufficiently general understanding of the Book of job. “My soul is weary of my life; I will leave my complaint upon myself.” He now despaired of getting any sympathy from them. “I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.” Here I am alone with all my sorrows; here are three dear friends who have not one particle of sympathy with me! no kind of feeling nor compassion for all that I am suffering. They are quite comfortable that they have none of it, and they are quite astonished that I should have any of it; and they think therefore I must be very wicked. It is all false. “I will say unto God, Do not condemn me; show me wherefore thou contendest with me.” That God did; he was answered. “Is it good unto thee that thou shouldest oppress, that thou shouldest despise the work of thine hands, and shine upon the counsel of the wicked? Hast thou eyes of flesh? or seest thou as man seeth? Are thy days as the days of man? Are thy years as man's days?” That is, he compares himself to a sort of butterfly broken on the wheel. There is this terrible wheel for malefactors, and he, a mere butterfly, is all broken down—God, in all His uncontrollable power dealing with such a poor, weak man as he; every part of his body throbbing with pain, and full of nerves all on the strain of agony from head to foot. “Thou enquirest after mine iniquity, and searchest after my sin.”
Job had a perfectly good conscience and therefore he says, ‘Where is it; I want to learn where it is and why it is.' “Thou knowest that I am not wicked.” That he could say to God; and it was perfectly true. It was not that; it was his own satisfaction in that poor reflection of righteousness which the best of men can have here below in himself, but which is no ground at all to stand on before God. “Thine hands have made me, and fashioned me together round about; yet thou dost destroy me” —after all the love thou hast shown me. “Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made me as the clay.” He had not made him as an angel; he had not made him as one that was above this kind of suffering. “Hast thou not poured me out as milk, and curdled me like cheese? Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and hast fenced me with bones and sinews. Thou hast granted me life and favor, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit. And these things hast thou hid in thine heart.” 'You had that in your heart before I was born. You meant me to come into this, and I do not know why.'
“I know that this is with thee. If I sin, then thou markest me, and thou wilt not acquit me from mine iniquity.” He asked to be forgiven if there was anything unknown. “If I be wicked, woe unto me; and if I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my head.” No, he is thoroughly humble now; at any rate, he was on the way to it. “I am full of confusion; therefore see thou mine affliction, for it increaseth.” And he uses very ungodly language now. “Thou huntest me as a fierce lion; and again thou showest thyself marvelous upon me. Thou renewest thy witnesses against me, and increasest thine indignation upon me; changes and war are against me. Wherefore then hast thou brought me forth out of the womb? Oh that I had given up the ghost, and no eye had seen me! I should have been as though I had not been; I should have been carried from the womb to the grave. Are not my days few? Cease then and let me alone, that I may take comfort a little, before I go whence I shall not return, even to the land of darkness, and the shadow of death.” You see how little they entered into the bright future. “A land of darkness, as darkness itself; and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness.”
[W. K.]

A Daysman

In what state did the Lord Jesus find men when He came? He found them “all under sin.” And what does Job say of himself as being in this condition? “If I wash myself with snow-water, and make my hands never so clean, yet thou shalt plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me. Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both. Let him take his fear away, then would I speak; but it is not so with me.”
Now what do I find in Christ when He came? I find “a daysman” —the very thing that Job wanted. Was there fear in Christ? Was anyone afraid of Christ? If a sinner was ever so burdened, he could go to Christ and then to God. I find that though my sins hindered me from going to God, they could not hinder God from coming to me!

The Women of the Genealogy

Matthew 1:3, 5, 6
The introduction of four women's names, and of four only, into the genealogy of our Lord, as given by Matthew, has furnished material for inquiry to many students of the inspired word. That there was a special purpose in it no one who had any right claim to be such could ever doubt. Moreover, a slight glance only at the names so chosen to a place in connection with the human descent of the Lord of glory would show something of the significance of their being found there. They are precisely such names as a chronicler, left to mere human wisdom in the matter, and especially a Jew, however right thinking, would have kept out of sight; and especially so as there was no apparent necessity for bringing them forward. They were not needed at all as establishing the connection of our Lord with David or with Abraham.
No other names of women are thus introduced. Neither Sarah, Rebekah, Leah, nor any other, while yet there was perhaps not another who might not seem to have better title to be remembered. These women were, of all others, though in different ways, just the blots apparently upon the genealogy. And then, so far from any attempt at concealment of what was discreditable in connection with them, circumstances which needed not (one might have thought) to be referred to, are brought in, as if to draw our attention to what otherwise might have been less noticed. Thus, Zarah's twin-birth with Pharez, though himself not in the line of the genealogy, is mentioned as if to recall the circumstances of that sin which brought them into being; while Bathsheba, instead of being mentioned by name, is associated, as it were, with all the horror of the crimes which her name alone one would think sufficient to bring to mind— “her that had been the wife of Urias.”
But there is something very beautiful as well as characteristic in this fearlessness of one who, here, as in other places—in a mere record of names, as it might seem, as well as in the most solemn passages of our Lord's life—spake as he was moved by the Holy Ghost. If there be a blot upon the life of one of His people, the God of truth will never hesitate to bring it out, though it might seem to be furnishing an occasion to those who seek occasion against the truth; and if there be a dark spot that presumptuous man would dare to lay a finger on, on but one of the links (each divinely constituted) of the chain of ancestry of the Man Christ Jesus, the Spirit of God puts His finger upon it first, to invite our attention to it as something worthy of being noted, and calculated only in the mind of faith, to beget reverential thoughts and lowly admiration of a wisdom that never fails, and that is most itself when it confounds all other.
Now to a faith that (as is characteristic of it) “believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly,” the introduction of the names of Tamar and of Bathsheba into the inspired record of the Lord's human ancestry, is pregnant with suggestions fitted to awaken the liveliest emotion. Each of these women of dishonored names and shameful memories had title, then, in a peculiar way, to appropriate those words which recorded Israel's most real boast: “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.” The human feeling—for there is that in it whatever there may be more—which has given an “immaculate conception” to the mother of our Lord, would have at least provided for the unblemished character of the line of His natural descent; and that feeling would have said, Let Him have connection with the purest and noblest only that can be found; and thus it is that human thought has been shown fully in the wisdom of One who, from the beginning, took the “seed of the woman” first as she had been in the transgression—to bruise the serpent's head, and heal those that are oppressed of the devil. Fixed, in divine wisdom, in that part of our Savior's genealogy which no Jew could dispute—for none could dispute that the Christ was to come of David—these names (all perhaps Gentile, and some undoubtedly so) stood there to vindicate the Gentile's part in the “child born.” And just so in the face of pretension to human righteousness they stood to vindicate the claims of sinners to Him whose “body was prepared Him” that He might die for sinners.
Thus far, then, the meaning of these names in the connection in which we find them is plain enough, and their place in the genealogy not only needs no vindication, but is another note of harmony in that song of praise which His word, as well as all other of His works, is perpetually singing—seed to sow music in the hearts of the sorrowful, in the assurance of how the sighing of the prisoners has come up before the Lord.
But what if we are able to go further and to show that not only is this so, but that each of the four names here given furnishes its own peculiar feature to what, taken as a whole, is really a full and blessed declaration of the story of grace and of salvation—each in its order adding what the former had left out, till the whole is told? Would it not be worthy of God to speak so—to make not only types and parables, but the very names of a genealogy repeat a story He is never weary of telling, however slow man may be to hear?
Let us take up, then, the history of these four names, so far as it connects them with this inspired genealogy, and try to read the lesson which is given us by their connection with it.
The history of Tamar you will find in Genesis 38 It is one of those dark chapters of human depravity which the Word lays open with its accustomed plainness and outspokenness. Infidels would speak of it as a blot upon the book that contains it, and few perhaps care to read it, least of all aloud. And yet it is a story that will one day again find utterance before the most magnificent assembly that the earth or the heavens ever saw or shall see. And how many such like stories shall come out then—mine, reader, and yours, not perhaps, after all, so far removed from Tamar's and the pure eternal day will not withdraw its beams, and the night not cover it up with its darkness.
What must be told then, may well bear to be told now. The light that shines upon evil deeds is all undefiled by them. If Tamar's history were a mere thing of the past and had no voice for succeeding generations, no doubt it had been vain to bring it up; but now let us rather thank Him for doing it, who has given us a page of human history so dark that we have to shudder, so filthy that we have to blush at it. Reader, I ask again, is there no page of your life that if it were written by the faithful hand of God, you would have to blush at in like manner?
Now in all this history of Tamar's the thing that strikes me in this connection is, that there is no redeeming feature about it. If I take the record attached to the other names which have place with hers in this genealogy, I may find perhaps in each case something that breaks the darkness a little. But I find nothing similar recorded about Tamar. She comes before me in this picture as a sinner and nothing else. The wife successively of two men, each cut off for his wickedness by divine judgment, she dares yet in her own person, by crime equal to theirs, provoke divine judgment. But the wonder above all this is, that it is this very sin that brings her name into the Lord's genealogy—for this sin it was that made her the mother of Pharez, one of the direct line in Christ's ancestry.
Is there no voice in this? And is it the voice of the God of judgment, or is it the voice of the God of grace, the God and Father, indeed, of our Lord Jesus Christ? True, if I look alone at the Old Testament record, it may call up before me, as it has called up, the time of account and manifestation; but the moment I turn to the New Testament and find Tamar first of women's names in the genealogy of the Lord—Tamar, brought in by her sin into that connectionI find what fixes my mind upon a scene of judgment, indeed, and that of the most solemn sort, but where the Holy One of God stands for the unholy, where Barabbas's cross—place of the chief of sinners—bears the burden of One who alone bare all our burdens, and “with whose stripes we are healed.”
O, blessed lesson, and worthy of God to give! Tamar's sin her connection with the Lord of life and glory? and O beloved, look! was not our sin our connection? Did not He die for sinners? Was it not when we confessed our sins, and, with our mouths stopped, took our places before God, ungodly and without strength, that we found out the wondrous fact that for the ungodly and without strength Christ had died; and that because we were sinners, and Christ had died for such, He was “faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness"?
Thus Tamar's name, first in this genealogy, is first also in the simple gospel truth that it reveals; and the fact that Tamar is a sinner, of whom I can read nothing but her sin, and whose sin gives her connection in a peculiar way with the Christ who came for sinners, is light and joy and gladness in my soul.
But we must turn to Rahab.
And here again we are not in very creditable company. Rahab is a Canaanite, one of a cursed race, and Rahab is a harlot, sinner among sinners. We seem destined to move in this track. The one thing recorded to her advantage is her faith. That it had fruit too, none can question. She is one whom the apostle James takes up, to ask us, “Was not Rahab, the harlot, justified by works, when she received the messengers, and sent them out another way"? But even here, you will observe, the thing he appeals to is not what would, in men's eyes, make a saint of her. There was no brilliance of devotedness, no wonderful self-sacrifice, no great goodness, as one might say. Even in the very thing in which she shows her faith she tells a lie; as if to isolate faith from any kind of merit whatever, and to give us expressly the picture of one that “worketh not,” but whose only hope is in a God who “justifieth the ungodly.” (Romans 4:5.)
And who can doubt it was Rahab's faith that brought her into the genealogy, as sin had brought Tamar? Without faith, she had died with those shut up in Jericho, a cursed woman of a cursed race. Faith removed that curse from her: faith brought her in among the people of God, if it did not attract to her the heart of Salmon, so as in the most direct way to account for those words being in the genealogy, “Salmon begat Booz of Rachab.”
Thus the second of these women's names teaches us a lesson as sweet and as needful as the former. “To him that worketh not, but believeth” is what we instinctively think of when we think of Rahab, faith that, while it has that which demonstrates its reality, leaves one still to be justified as ungodly, nay, believes on One who only does so justify—faith which looks not at itself, therefore, and pleads not its own performances, but brings the soul to accept the place of ungodliness only, because for the ungodly only there is justification.
This is very sweet and very wonderful. It is wonderful to find how in the mere introduction of a name into a catalog, the God of grace can speak out the thoughts of His own heart. And it is very sweet to see how constantly before Him is the thought of our need and of His mercy, and how He would by the very wonder, as it were, surprise men's slow, cold hearts into the belief of it.
And now we have got to Ruth: “Boaz begat Obed of Ruth.”
But what shall we say of Ruth? Here at first sight our text might seem to fail us, and we might seem to have parted company with sinners. Why, you might say, the Spirit of God Himself takes a whole book to tell us about Ruth. And true, indeed though it be that she was a Gentile, as Rahab and as Tamar, you might repeat of her what the Lord Himself says of another Gentile: “I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” With no sword of judgment hanging over her head as over Rahab's, with no tie to connect her with Israel, but the memory of a dead husband who had himself abandoned it, with the memory of famine in that land which had forced her husband out, and with the company only of an aged woman, with whom bitter providences, as she deems them, have changed the name of Naomi into Mara, Ruth comes into the land and to the God of Israel, in whose fields she is content to be a gleaner. No, do not think, reader, that I would disparage the worth, or blot the fair fame of Ruth the Moabitess. That she was a Gentile only adds to it the more honor, in that among the godless grew her godliness, and that she was faithful where Israel's own children had set her the example of unfaithfulness.
But is there nothing in this very fact that, in company with the names of sinners among sinners, we find one who shines, as it were, saint among saints? What does it mean, this putting down of Ruth in company with such names as Tamar, Rahab, Bathsheba? Is it not a truth of the same kind as when the Word tells us of one who “gave much alms” and “prayed to God alway,” that he was to send to Joppa for a man who should tell him words whereby he should be saved? Or, as when Zaccheus, standing forth and saying to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor,” meets the significant and gentle word-you can scarcely call it reproof— “This day is SALVATION come to this house, for as much as he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was LOST.”
So that without the smallest word of detraction from Ruth's goodness, but rather allowing in its very fullest all that can be claimed for it, we may fairly draw a lesson from the company in which we find her name, which is itself full of instruction and of beauty; and Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, side by side in the genealogy, give us but the announcement of Isaiah's vision, which the Baptist's mission went to fulfill: “Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” Yes, God's salvation as much needed, and in the same way, by one as another—as much of grace to one as to another, to Ruth the Moabitess, as to Rahab or Tamar.
But we have not yet got at that which gives fullest significance to this name in the genealogy. Against this Ruth, with all her loveliness and with all her goodness, there was lying a ban which did not lie in the same way against the others. She was a Moabitess, and against these there had been leveled an express statute of the law. “An Ammonite or a Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord, even unto their tenth generation they shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord forever” (Deuteronomy 23:3). Thus Ruth lay under the interdict of the law. It is striking that it was to this devoted, to this lovely woman that the law applied—not to Rahab nor even to Tamar; God having thus proclaimed in an unmistakable way the law's character; not bringing it in to condemn the sinner and the harlot (where men's minds would have done so), but introducing it as that which would have excluded a Ruth, even with her piety. Emphatically was it thus taught that it was man as man that was shut out from God—not in his sins merely, but in his righteousness; and that if we stand on that ground all “our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.”
But the law does not keep Ruth out. Moabitess as she is, she does enter into the congregation of the Lord. The law is set aside in her behalf, and instead of her descendants being excluded to the tenth generation, her child of the third generation sits upon Israel's throne, and hears the promise which confirms that throne to his heirs for succeeding generations.
Thus another principle comes out in bright relief. If God takes up the sinner and the harlot on the principle of faith, law is set aside by the very fact. “The law is not of faith.” “The righteousness of God without the law is manifested,” “even the righteousness of God by faith of Jesus Christ unto all, and upon all them that believe.” This is what Ruth is witness to. The Moabitess comes into the congregation of the Lord, spite of the law expressly leveled against her to keep her out; and in this we find but another utterance of this self-same story of grace which, in so many languages, our God so joys to tell.
One name alone remains; one truth has yet to be uttered. God takes up sinners, then, by faith, and law is set aside. “Faith is reckoned for righteousness.” Not as if faith were righteousness, or its equivalent-that would be quite another thing: but God, who had been looking (to speak humanly) for righteousness by law, had ceased to do so. The law had returned Him answer, “there is none righteous; no, not one.” Thenceforth the principle was changed, “Faith” was “reckoned for righteousness:” faith that did not pretend to righteousness at all, for it was in One who “justifieth the ungodly.”
But if God receives sinners, to what does He receive them? Is it a complete salvation they obtain, or are there conditions still to be met before the final goal is reached, and there is complete security? On what, in short, does the ultimate salvation of the believer rest? This is a question which evidently needs answering before the soul can be completely satisfied and at peace. It is one thing to be now in the favor of God, and it is another thing to know that I can never lose it. And the more I look at myself, if it depend upon myself, the more I must be in dread of losing it.
Moreover, there are those who will allow of a free present salvation, who will not allow of one that gives security absolutely for the future. With them the sinner may be saved without works; but the saint may not! The legalism shut out at one entrance gains admittance at another, and the result in either case is the same. Self-sufficiency is built up; self-distrust taught to despair; the work of Christ is practically displaced from its office of satisfying the soul, and the grace of God effectually denied.
The Scripture speaks as decidedly on this point as on any other. On justification by the blood of Christ it builds the most confident assurance as to the future. It tells us that inasmuch as “when we were yet sinners Christ died for us, MUCH MORE then, being now justified by His blood, WE SHALL BE SAVED from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:8-10).
And when I turn to this last name of the four, and find “her that had been the wife of Urias” taking her place with Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth in the genealogy of the Lord, it seems as if the text just quoted were repeated in my ears. For, the moment I think of Bathsheba, a greater name than hers (linked strangely with hers in the crime which it recalls), comes in to efface her almost from my mind. David it is I think of—David, child of God, Israel's sweet psalmist! in whose breathings the souls of saints in every age have poured out their aspirations after “the living God,” —David fallen, and fallen so low that we cannot marvel if his name be side by side with Tamar's. David, man after God's heart! Oh, how many of the Lord's enemies hast thou made to blaspheme! how many of the Lord's people hast thou made to mourn for thee! Was that thy witness to what God's heart approved? Was that thy soul's panting after Him? What! murder a man in the midst of faithful service to thee zealously rendered, that thou mightest hide thine own adultery? Was that the man who, when flying from the face of his enemy, and when Providence had put that enemy within his power, cut off but his skirt, and his heart smote him for it? Ah! sadder than thy heart could be for Saul, we take up thine own lament over thee, “How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished.”
And surely, O Lord our God, in Thy presence shall no flesh glory! If David could not, could we? Alas! if I know myself, what can I do but put my mouth in the dust, and be dumb forever before the Lord! “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass.” And “let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” The voice that comes to me from David's sin is infinitely more than David's condemnation. It is my own. Can I pretend to be better? Can I take my hand from his blood-stained one? Ah, no! I accept with him my own condemnation; and not as a sinner merely, but as a saint. From first to last, from beginning to end, the voice of David's fall brings to me the assurance that the justification of the ungodly must be my justification still. It is like that voice of God, strange, and contradictory in its utterance, men may call it, which, having pronounced man's sentence before the flood, and destroyed every living thing because “every imagination of the thought of man's heart was only evil continually,” after the flood declares, “I will not again curse the ground for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more everything living as I have done.”
Blessed be His name! He does not trust His salvation to my hand. My “life” depends but upon the life of Him who has taken His place in heaven, after He had by Himself purged my sins; as much “for me” therein the glory as “for me” upon the cross. He is the accepted One; I but “in Him.” Because He lives, I shall live also.
If David could have taken his salvation out of God's hand, he surely would have done it in the case before us. That he could not I read in this woman's name, partner in his sin, recorded in the genealogy. Once again, as in Tamar's case before, I find sin connecting with the Savior of sinners. It was not that God did not mark, and in a special way, His abhorrence of the evil. It was only grace, really to do that. “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap,” and no wonder, therefore, if adultery and murder sprung up again and again in David's path. No marvel that the sword never departs from his house, and that his wives are dishonored in the face of the sun. But in the midst of all this growth of thorn and thistle, sure fruit and consequence of sin, one floweret springs up from this cursed ground, type and witness that, where sin had abounded, grace over-abounds. From this David and this Bathsheba, whom sin has united together, a child springs whose name stands next in the line of the ancestry of the Lord; and who receives, as if to confirm this, a special name “Jedidiah,” “beloved of the Lord.”
And is it an imagination or is it more, that there is something in the name—the other name of this child born—which harmonizes with all this? I will not say; but if Solomon, “peaceful,” be a strange name in so near connection with so sad a history, it is not an unsuited one to follow in this genealogical list—not an unsuited one to be in company with Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, or Bathsheba. And it is a blessed one with which to end the history of four names, which when God utters them can be made to speak of what He must love well to utter, or He would scarcely take such strange occasion to remind us of it.
And if to any there seems after all in this, something that seems too much like a mere wonder to be God's utterance, I would beseech such an one to remember how once a burning bush was made just such a wonder to attract a passer-by, and how, when he turned aside to see, a voice out of that bush proclaimed that God was really there. Even so may it not be strange that He should attract now by a kind of wonder, to listen to a story which He loves to tell; and for those who turn aside to see, may the same voice, now, as then, be heard.-F.W.G.

Sanctification Without Which There Is No Christianity: Part 2

If I engage a servant, I require him to be clean, if I am so myself. God says: “Be ye holy; for I am holy.” And as it is with the servant I desire to introduce into my house, so is it with us. God requires that we should be suited to the state of His house; He will have a practical sanctification in His servants. Moreover the aim of the apostle is, that our faith be firm and constant. He gives us, in the twenty-first verse, full security, in saying to us, “that your faith and hope might be in God,” not merely in that which justifies us before a just-judging God. It is a God who is for us, who willed to help us, and who introduced us into His family, setting us apart for obedience, and to share in the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus. He has loved us with an eternal love. He has accomplished all that concerns us. He keeps us by His power through faith, in order to introduce us to glory.
He places us in trial; He makes us pass through the furnace, because He will wholly purify us. It is Himself who has justified us; who shall condemn us? It is Christ who has died, or rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, and who also maketh intercession for us; who shall separate us from His love (Romans 8:33)? Our faith and our love being in God, what have we to fear? We have, in Zechariah (chap. 3.) a very encouraging example. The Lord caused Zechariah to see Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the Lord said to Satan: The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan! the Lord who hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee. Is not this the brand that I have plucked out of the fire? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments (the sin, the corruption of man), and he stood before the angel. And the angel said, Take away the filthy garments from him. And he said to him, Behold, I have made thine iniquity to pass from thee, and have clothed thee with new garments (the righteousness of God applied). Satan accuses the children of God; but when God justifies, who can condemn? Would you then that God were not content with His work, which He hath wrought for Himself? And it is in order that we be holy and unblameable in love before Him.
Can you say, “He has sanctified me,” in the sense that He has given you Jesus for the object of your faith? If it be thus, He has placed you under the sprinkling of His precious blood, in order that you may be a Christian, and happy in obedience. You may say now, He is the object of my desires, of my hope. You may not yet have understood all that Christ is for you, and you may have much to do in practice; but the important thing is to understand that it is God who has done all, and has placed you under the efficacy of that resurrection life, in order that you may be happy and joyful in His love.
It is remarkable to what a point God makes all things new in us; it is because He must destroy our thoughts, in order that we may have peace.
There is nothing morally in common between the first and the Second man; the first sinned and drew the whole human race in his fall; the last Adam is the source of life and power. That applies to every truth of Christianity, and to all that is in this world. There are but these two men. Nicodemus is struck with the wisdom of Jesus, and with the power manifested in His miracles; but the Lord stops him, and cuts the matter short with him, by saying, “Ye must be born again.” He was not in a condition to be instructed. He did not understand the things of God; for to do so a man must be born again; in short, he had not life. I do not say that he could not arrive at it; because, further on, we see him paying honor to Jesus, in bringing the necessary spices to embalm Him.
I have been led to this thought, because the end of this chapter recalled to me the fortieth chapter of Isaiah. I do not speak of the accomplishment of the prophecy which will take place at a later day for the Jews, but of a grand principle. This chapter begins with these words: “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: the grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the Spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand forever.”
Before God begins, He must cause it to be understood that all flesh is as grass.
If God will comfort His people, what saith the Lord? “All flesh is grass.” It must begin there. The grass is withered, because the spirit of the Lord hath blown upon it. But the word of God endureth forever. Therein was the foundation of hope; had it been possible for any one to have obtained anything, it would have been the Jews, who had all; but they were nothing more than the grass of the fields, than the grass that withereth. When God will comfort man who has failed in the responsibility which attaches to him, it is thus He begins, “All flesh is grass,” and it is for this reason that there is such a confusion in the heart of the newly-converted man, and even of the Christian, if he does not pay attention to it; namely, that the word comes to tell him the grass is withered, the flesh is incapable of producing any good, and that he does not yet rest on this, that the word of the Lord endureth forever, and that the blessing consequently cannot fail to His own. Till we cease in our efforts to get good from the flesh, and till we are assured that the word of the Lord endureth forever, we shall be always troubled and weak before the assaults of the enemy.
The people had trampled on the ordinances, broken the law, crucified the Messiah, done all possible evil. Has the word of God changed? In nowise. God alters nothing in His election, nor in His promises. Paul asks, Has God rejected His people? God forbid. Peter addresses himself to the people; there is no more of them apparently; the grass is withered, but there is the word of God, and He can say to them, You are now a people; you have obtained mercy. Now, we are going to see that this word becomes the instrument of blessing and of practical sanctification. God never sanctifies what withers like grass. He introduces, on the contrary, what is most enduring and most excellent of man into heaven.
The word withers man, the breath of the Lord has passed over. Introduce man's glory into heaven, it is dreadful! This work is painful, because of the often prolonged wrestlings of the pride and self-will of the flesh; and God does not begin His work by modifying what already exists. Neither can He, because He will destroy it. He can neither require nor produce fruits before the tree be planted. But He begins by communicating a new life, and detaches the creature from the things to which its flesh is attached; and the Holy Spirit communicates to it the things of the world to come, and the instrument He employs is the word, that word whereof it is said, It abideth forever. The word, which was of promise for the nation, becomes an instrument of life for our souls. We are begotten by the word of truth, which judges also as a two-edged sword all that is not of this new life. Let us examine the difference between our justification and our sanctification. Justification is something, not in ourselves, but a position in which God has placed us before Himself; and those to whom it is applied by God, being the children who possess this righteousness, those of the last Adam, possess all that He has and all that He loves. He who has this righteousness of God is born of God and possesses all that belongs to his Father, who assimilates the rights of His children to those of His Son, who is Heir of all things. So soon as I am a child of the last Adam, I am in the blessing and righteousness in which Christ Himself is found; and just as I have inherited from the first Adam all the consequences and results of his fall, even so, being born of the last Adam, I inherit all that He has acquired, just as I had inherited from the former.
If it be thus, it is evident that I have part in the glory of Christ; and if life be not there, it is naught. God presents His love to us. He reveals it to us, and His word abides eternally. And here is the way God begins with the soul. He presents this truth to us, ever fresh before Himself; it is not a result produced in us that He makes us see; on the contrary, it is that man, such as he is, has no part in this righteousness, because the flesh, which is as grass, cannot be in relation with God. He reveals and imparts to us a justification He has accomplished.
God cannot give precepts of sanctification to such as have no justification. The effects of the life of Christ are to convince of sin, and also to cause fruit-bearing. When the gospel was presented at the beginning, it was the Gentiles who, till then, had had no part in the promises of God. There was no need to speak to them of sanctification. But now that all the world calls itself Christian, I must see whether I be really a Christian; but this idea is not found at all in the Bible. The state of sin was spoken of, and the gospel declared; now men say, “Am I really a Christian?” which thing was not so then. A man takes his practical life to see whereabouts he is, believing that the question is of sanctification, when it is only of justification. This question was not necessary at the commencement; now, people look at the fruits to see if they have life, and confound with sanctification that which is only a conviction of sin previous to justification by faith and peace with God. Until a soul has consented to say, “Jesus is all, and I have nothing;” till then, I say, there is nothing in this soul which relates to Christian sanctification. These things must be set right before the soul can have peace.
At the preaching of Peter, three thousand persons were made happy; they were not in doubt; from the moment a man embraced the gospel, he was a Christian, he was saved.
The progress of practical sanctification must not be confounded with justification, because practical sanctification is wrought in a saved soul that has eternal life. It is an entirely new thing, of which there is no trace before I have found Christ. If we comprehend this passage (Heb 12:14), “Follow.... holiness [sanctification] without which no man shall see the Lord” (and there is nothing troubles a soul as that often does), it is clear that if I do not possess Christ, I cannot see the Lord: that is very simple. If I have not in myself that life of the last Adam, as I before had the life of the first, never shall I see His face. The tastes natural to the one will develop themselves therein, as they developed themselves in the other. The first inquiry to be made in such a case is, Have you peace with God, the pardon of your sins? If not, the question is of the justification of a sinner. Having then your soul purified in obeying the truth by the Holy Spirit, that is the power “by the Spirit.” The essential thing is the obedience to the truth; people seek purification, and desire to bear fruit. But this is not what God first asks of us; it is obedience, and obedience to the truth.
Whereof does the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, speak? He has much to say to us; but first of all, “All flesh is as grass.” He says that no good thing exists in man; the Spirit convinces the world of sin. The whole world lies in wickedness; that world would have none of Christ, and the Holy Spirit cannot present Himself without saying, You have rejected the Christ. The Holy Spirit comes into this world, and proves to it its pride and its rebellion. Behold, the Son is no longer here, and why? The world has rejected Him. The Spirit comes to say, The grass is withered; then, when that is acknowledged, He communicates the peace that He has preached. He says truly, “You are sinners;” but He does not speak to sinners of sanctification; He will produce it by the truth, and He tells them the truth. Can man produce it? Nay. It is Christ, He who is the way, and the truth, and the life. The Holy Spirit speaks to the sinner of the grace, of the righteousness of God of peace, not to make, but made; that is the truth. He convinces the world of what it is, and He speaks to it of that will of God by which the believer is sanctified, that thus we may be obedient to the truth, in submitting to the love of God; and when the soul is subject to this truth, life is there.
He communicates life; “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.” The word abides eternally It is thus that God first produces the principle of sanctification, which is the life of Christ in us; if the practical means be inquired for, it is the word of truth.
Does the Holy Spirit tell pagans to make progress in sanctification? Does He say this to men unconverted? No. When a sinner has understood the truth, such as God presents it, then the Holy Spirit puts him in relation with God the Father, and this sinner rejoices in all that which Christ has acquired for him Thus, having purified your souls in obeying the truth by the Holy Spirit, etc., ye have been born again of an incorruptible seed, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. You will find that it is ever thus.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:10 it is written, as to the unbelieving, contrasted with the Christians, that they have not received (or rather, accepted) the love of the truth that they might be saved. Therefore God will send them a strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, that they all might be damned who have not believed the truth, etc. But, my brethren, beloved of the Lord, we are bound to give thanks to God for you, because God hath chosen you from the beginning to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth (ver. 13).
It is, then, the belief of the truth; it is not the belief of the fruits. The Holy Spirit cannot present to me the works He has produced in me, as the object of my faith. He speaks to me of my faults, of my short-comings, but never of the good works that are in me, He produces them in me, but He bides them from me; for if we think of it, it is but a more subtle self-righteousness. It is like the manna which, being kept, produced worms.
ALL is spoiled—it is no more faith in action; the Holy Spirit must always present to me Christ, that I may have peace.
The same principle is in John 17:16: “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” The world was not Christ's aim.
During His whole life, though He was not gone out of the world, He was no more of the world than if He had been in heaven. When Practice is in question, He says, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth.” Truth is not of this world; this world is a vast lie, which is demonstrated in the history we possess in the Bible. There we find the manifestation of sin in the natural man, and the manifestation of the life in the renewed man, by His word. “Sanctify them through thy truth.... For their sakes I sanctify myself.” What does the Lord Jesus here do for us? He sets Himself apart.
He sanctifies Himself; it is not that He may be more holy, but He makes Himself the model Man.
It is not a law requirement; but it is Christ Himself who is life and power, whereof He presents the perfect result. It is Christ who presents the fulfillment and the perfection; He is the vital spring of all; and in considering these things, the reflection of them is in me by faith, which reproduces them in the inner man and in the life.
We find something interesting on this subject in the first chapter of St. John's Gospel. In the beginning was the life, and the life was the light.
The law was not this. It was not a light that condemned; but the life was this light, and we have seen it full of grace and truth—not of truth only, but of grace; and of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace. When we have received Christ, there is not a single grace which is not for me, and in me. There is no Christian who has not every grace that is in Jesus. Suppose even a state of failure, it is the strongest case, but this hinders not that we possess all in Him. Failure is a sad thing, but that changes not the position; for the Christian has not received a part only of Christ, but the whole of Christ. On the one hand, it is encouragement. When I say to myself, “I must seek after such a grace;” the answer is, “Thou possessest it;” and, on the other hand, it humbles me; for if I possess it, why is it not manifested? This always supposes that we have received the truth that God has made peace. We must always return to this: “Sanctify them through thy truth: Thy word is truth.” Is it by looking into myself that I shall find this sanctification? No; but in looking to Jesus, in whom it is, Christ having been made unto us of God “righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” I see this humility in Christ, and take pleasure in it; when I look to Him, by faith, my soul is in peace; His Spirit is always in me, and I am sanctified by faith in Him, according to that grace which makes me one with Him. Christ gives me all that, and this truth reveals to me that the redemption is made, and I enjoy it, having obeyed the truth. If any one seeks after sanctification without being assured of his justification, and is troubled about it, doubting whether he be a Christian, then I ask him, What have you to do with sanctification? You have not to think about that for the present. Assure yourself, first of all, that you are saved; pagans, unbelievers, do not sanctify themselves. If you have faith, you are saved; sanctify yourself in peace. The only question is to consider your sinful state. First, have you obeyed the truth? have you submitted to it? What does God speak to you about? He speaks of peace made. He says to you, that He has given His Son; He says to you, that He has so loved the world, that He has given His Son to the world, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. This is the truth to which you have to submit, and to receive above all, specially before you busy yourself about sanctification, which depends on Him who has given you eternal life. Begin, then, by obeying the truth; this truth tells you of the righteousness of God, which is satisfied in Jesus, and which is yours; or rather that you are in Christ; then you will enjoy peace, and you will be sanctified in practice. This practical sanctification flows from the contemplation of Jesus. Here is what the apostle Paul says to us on this subject, in 2 Cor. 3:18: “We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
You see that it is in beholding Jesus that we are transformed from glory to glory. Life, the principle of life, is there, and not in your anxieties; the development of this life of Jesus is progressively realized by looking to Him. It is faith which sanctifies, as also it justifies: it looks unto Jesus.
When Moses came down from the mountain, from before God, he did not know that he also shone with glory, but those who saw him knew it. Moses had looked towards God; others saw the effect. Blessed be God that it is thus in a practical sense! As to practice, then, the question is the sanctification of Christians, because they are saved, because they are sanctified to God, as respects their persons; not those who are not yet so. It is not to exact, on God's part, but to communicate life. Now, this communication proceeds from Jesus, who is its source. He communicates life, which is holiness. Oh that God might always show us the grace to make us always more and more feel that all flesh is as grass, and all the glory thereof as the flower of grass; but that the word of the Lord endureth forever! “And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” It is of this incorruptible seed we are born. What ought not our confidence to be in this word!
J. N. D.
(concluded from page 48)


P. 25, col. x, 1. 9 fr.bottom For xvi. Read xiv. II.
77 27, 77 I, 7, 5 „ xliii. 1-17 xliii. 1-7.
“4o, „ 2, „ 6 fr.bottom „ xxxvii. 37 xxvii. 37.
„ 40, „ 2,,, 5,y y, John 10:7 “ Jeremiah 10:7.
,, 41,,, 1,,, I „ Isaiah 32:1, 2,, Is. iXii. 1,2


F. E. RACE, Publisher, 3 & 4, London House Yard,
Paternoster Row, E.C.

Lectures on Job 11-14

Lect. 4.-Chaps. 11-14
We must carefully remember that, although the Book of Job is inspired, it would be a great mistake to concede that the speeches are inspired. Certainly Satan's words were not inspired, and they are recorded there; and it is part of the profit of the Book that we have the mistakes of the speakers. Every one of the three friends was very much mistaken in what he said, and Job himself also. It is only when we come to Elihu that we get the mind of God as far as a man is inspired, and then we have Jehovah's own word clearing up all the difficulty.
This is very important, because there is a kind of hazy idea that seeing they are found in the Bible the speeches of different people are also inspired. The Book is inspired to begin with; but we have to judge of the utterances, say of king Saul, or even of David, whether what they said was so or not, for it is not that everything which they said in their daily life was inspired. It might be more or less true; it might be sometimes really and absolutely true; but that is all a question of searching and comparing scripture with scripture. When it comes direct from God or from a prophet, or from an apostle—the inspired writing—all that is absolutely the word of God. But not so where we have a historic scene—whether it is in Samuel, Kings or Chronicles, or whether it is in the Book of Job, where we have actual conversations given us by the Spirit of God—it would be quite a mistake to imagine that, because God gives us the speeches, therefore the speeches represent His mind.
It is perfectly plain from the solution at the end of the Book that they did not represent His mind. Now take this man Zophar—a great deal that he says is very true, but it does not apply to the purpose. It was all misused. It was based upon the assumption that whatever God allows now is really the judgment of God. But that is not the case. The devil now is the ruler; he is the one that actuates men. The spirit of evil works in the sons of disobedience, and everything is now out of course. Therefore to reason from things as they are now is to be guilty of a very great mistake. In short, it is to put what happens now into the place which the judgment of the Lord will have by and bye before the throne. Then there will be the mind of God pronounced upon all our words and all our ways; but the present time is a state of confusion, and men are not at all as they ought to be, and even God's children are very far from being as they will be. Everything is now imperfect and short of the mind of God. And still more, all the things that take place on earth are a mass of confusion, and judgment has not yet returned to righteousness. Judgment will never return to righteousness till the Lord sits upon His throne. Now, there is judgment in the hands of people who are themselves as bad criminals very often as the men whom they transport or hang. They might be thoroughly wicked men, and enemies of God in the most frightful manner; still, bad as they may be personally, they are very often honest in carrying out the law of the land fairly.
We all know that there may be sad mistakes in point of judgment; but the day is coming when judgment will return to righteousness. They have not got righteousness to return to-they are simply unrighteous men; and it is remarkable that the apostle Paul brands the judges of the law in his day as being unjust (1 Cor. 6:1) Yet for all that God employed them. There were magistrates; there were judges; and God called them unjust when it was a question of His own people who had a far higher character of righteousness as their standard. They knew Christ; and all these things that these Corinthians were going to law about ought to have been settled among themselves—in the presence of them all. They were therefore exceedingly wrong in going on like the world. The world must go to the Court. What could they do? They could not settle things themselves. They have not got the authority the Court has. They go there, and on the whole they get their questions fairly well settled. But the children of God have quite another tribunal; and the apostle says it is so easy to settle these matters of an outward kind that the very least in the church might be asked to do it. He did not, of course, mean that the least in the church are the proper people to settle it, but it is a stigma upon their going before the world; and, of course, the most proper in the assembly are the people that ought to look into these things; those that have most experience and weight. It is merely the apostle putting shame upon the worldly spirit of the age. Here we are in a world where we are all apt to make mistakes; through ignorance sometimes, and very often through will of one kind or another that blinds us; but the mercy of God watches over all.
So here we find Zophar taking it all into his own hands. Why, if he had been a divine person, he could not have spoken more authoritatively. It was perfectly plain to him that Job was a bad man, and that he was a very vain man who liked to hear himself talk, and that he had no regard for other people, for there he, was abusing' them. In short, it is a very bad speech this of Zophar, most disrespectful to Job, and proud and haughty on his own part; and the more so as he was the youngest of the three, and consequently the one least capable. “Should not the multitude of words” that is all he would allow on Job's part— “be answered, and should a man full of talk be justified? Should thy lies” —think how far he went— “Should thy lies make men hold their peace? and when thou mockest” —that was all he considered it “shall no man make thee ashamed? For thou hast said, My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in thine eyes.” Now Job had never said either. He had never said that his doctrine was pure. What he said was, that he held to God and to His ways. And what is said about his conduct was that he was not a hypocrite. He acknowledged that he might have sinned in some way unknown to himself that accounted for all this terrible storm of affliction that bore his soul down to the dust. And that was his difficulty; he did not know quite. He believed that he had been walking with a good conscience before God; and they were not able to say anything—they could bring nothing against him. All said alike, and judged him in a most severe and unmerciful manner. So he asked that God would speak. Well, God did speak; and when God spoke it was not to the honor of Zophar, nor of Bildad, nor of Eliphaz even—here very much more quiet and calm of spirit than Zophar. But for all that it was owing to the intercession of Job that the anger of the Lord did not fall upon those three men. It might have been their death had it not been for the intercession of Job.
Zophar says some things that are very excellent—properly—applied. He says, “Canst thou by searching find out God?” Well, nobody can God must reveal Himself. “Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?” Only if God speaks. “The measure thereof is longer than the earth” certainly, and that was a very insufficient measure—the earth— “and broader than the sea.” He might have taken in all the universe. “If he cut off, and shut up, or gather together, then who can hinder him?” There is no doubt about His power, no limit to it. “For he knoweth vain men: he seeth wickedness also.” All these are insinuations against Job. “Will he not then consider it? For vain man would be wise, though man be born like a wild ass's colt.” Well, no doubt. That is man's condition now through the fall, that sometimes his acts can only be compared to those of a beast—uncontrollable, like a wild ass—or even to those of a savage beast, that consumes and destroys before it, like a lion or a bear. Man is capable of doing all these things. “If thou prepare thine heart, and stretch out thine hands toward him.” Now there, was excellent advice. That was just what Job did require—to wait upon God till God gave him the answer, as to how it was that all this had come upon him. But Zophar's notion was all wrong.
“If iniquity be in thine hand” —that was not what it was; it was not a question of iniquity, but of God dealing with Job's satisfaction with himself. Job was a truly pious, God-fearing man; but he had a high idea of his own character. That is what no soul ought ever to allow. It is altogether wrong for a person to rest in himself, no matter how unblemished he may be, no matter how he may truly wait upon God day by day. There is no rest in any creature, least of all in ourselves. It was One that was coming. And now there is One that is come, so that we have the understanding of “Him that is true.” But in Job's day he evidently did not understand all this. “For then shalt thou lift up thy face without spot; yea, thou shalt be steadfast, and shalt not fear,” and so Zophar pursues down to the end of the chapter in very proper language. But his thought was all wrong, because he supposed there was some great wickedness unseen and unknown. Why then did he suppose it, if it was not seen and known?
We have the most remarkable instance of the opposite of this in the New Testament. One of the twelve was a dishonest man, and was about to betray the Lord Jesus. The Lord, who knew it perfectly, never brought it out in such a way as to act upon the consciences of the eleven. He allowed it to go on to the very last, and it was only when the dishonest one had passed out of their hands, and was himself on the way to death—and death by his own hand, as well as the death of the Lord by the hands of the Jews and Gentiles—that then the Lord no longer allowed it. If the Lord had meant them to judge Judas He would have made it manifest before. But He meant on the contrary that if he had made it manifest before, Scripture would not have been fulfilled Scripture had declared that that man was the man to betray the Lord, and therefore it must go on to the end—to the betrayal. The Lord would not therefore open out the wickedness of Judas until it was before all the world.
Job answers in the next chapters (12-14.) and no doubt he repays them too much in their own coin. “And Job answered and said, No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you.” Well they deserved that rebuke. “But I have understanding as well as you.” Now there he was far more considerate than they; because he did not take the place of being so superior. “I have understanding as well as you” — “I am not inferior” —he does not say, “I am superior” “I am not inferior to you.” “Yea, who knoweth not such things as these?” They were only talking platitudes, moral platitudes, that every person of the slightest acquaintance with God already knew. They were not giving any light upon this very difficult question, how it was that a pious God-fearing man fell under such tremendous sorrow and affliction. They did not contribute one atom to that question. They merely let out all their bad thoughts and feelings, and consequently they were really heaping up wrath, if it had been the day of wrath; but it was the day of mercy, and God humbled them, by their being indebted to Job for His not taking them away by a stroke that would have been perfectly just. “I am as one mocked of his neighbor” —they talked about his mocking— “who calleth upon God, and he answereth him; the just upright man is laughed to scorn. He that is ready to slip with his feet is as a lamp despised in the thought of him that is at ease.”
Now that phrase exactly gave the position; they were all at ease, these three men; there was nothing the matter with them; they had not, as Job, been taken up by God to allow the devil to do all the evil he could; and finally to allow that pious men should be the persons that would provoke them as they provoked Job. “He that is ready to slip with his feet” —that is what Job felt he was “is as a lamp despised in the thought of him that is at ease” —because if he gives way—the lamp requires to be held steadily—if a man is slipping with his feet, what is the good of a lamp? It waves and waves down into the mud. But they were all at ease sitting in judgment upon him. “The tabernacles of robbers prosper, and they that provoke God are secure; into whose hand God bringeth abundantly.” Nothing could more completely upset all their arguments.
There had been that great robber Nimrod—that man who first began to hunt beasts, and then to subdue men to his own purpose without God giving him authority. And yet God allowed it. Nimrod built great cities and became a great man. “The tabernacles,” therefore, as Job says, “of robbers prosper, and they that provoke God are secure; into whose hand God bringeth abundantly.” That is the present state of the earth, and any state of the earth since man fell is no adequate testimony of what God thinks of people. It is not bringing out His judgment of men yet. There may be an occasional dealing of God in a particular case, as an exception to His ordinary way of leaving things apparently to their own course. But that is just the reason why there is to be a judgment—because things have not been judged according to God, but they will be.
“But ask now the beasts” —there is a very triumphant thing. “Why,” he says, “the very beasts know more than you, and prove more than all your speeches! Ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee; or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee; and the fishes of the sea” —who have got practically no voice, and do not know how to talk— “shall declare unto thee.” That is, the whole creation—the lower creation of God upon the earth—is a proof that things are not yet according to God. Do they not prey upon one another; do not the great swallow up the small; and is not man the great executor of death upon beasts and birds and fishes, and everything, for his own gratification? I do not mean merely for food, but to please himself at all costs. In short, it is not merely what the Lord allows, but man makes it for his lusts, for his luxury, for everything except God. “Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of Jehovah hath wrought this? He cannot deny that the Lord has left it in this way. “In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind” —and yet He allows them to break forth in this lawless way. “Doth not the ear try words?” —do you think I cannot hear? — “and the mouth taste his meat?” —that I cannot discern my palate? “With the ancient is wisdom.” There again he shows how little he was for condemning where there was wisdom. He allows that with the ancient there is wisdom— “and in length of days understanding” —because there is experience that nothing else can give.
“With him is wisdom,” he says. He turns to God; for, after all, it is only in a little measure a man profits. “With him is wisdom and strength” —whereas as the ancient gets wiser he becomes weaker— “he hath counsel and understanding.” “Behold, he breaketh down, and it cannot be built again; he shutteth up a man, and there can be no opening. Behold, he witholdeth the waters, and they dry up” —and what a wretched state the world is in when there is no water. But then in another way it comes, and He gives them too much water; “also he sendeth them out, and they overturn the earth.” The waters carry everything before them. “With him is strength and wisdom: the deceived and the deceiver are his.” That is the present state. “He leadeth counselors away spoiled, and maketh the judges fools.” Undoubtedly those counselors and these judges were persons eminent for their knowledge, and, were supposed to be, for their wisdom. But there is always a limit in this world, and there is often a disappointment where you most rest.
“He looseth the bond of kings, and girdeth their loins with a girdle. He leadeth princes away spoiled, and overthroweth the mighty. He removeth away the speech of the trusty, and taketh away the understanding of the aged. He poureth contempt upon princes, and weakeneth the strength of the mighty. He discovereth deep things out of darkness, and bringeth out to light the shadow of death. He increaseth the nations, and destroyeth them; he enlargeth the nations, and straiteneth them again.” There are all kinds of change. There is nothing therefore that shows the settled judgment of God. Everything among men is in a flux—a constant flow and change; and therefore nothing could be more foolish than the groundwork of the three friends in their attack on Job. “He taketh away the heart of the chief of the people of the earth, and causeth them to wander in a wilderness where there is no way. They grope in the dark without light, and he maketh them to stagger like a drunken man.” And that is the way where people trust in men.
But now he says (chap. 13) “Lo, mine eye hath seen all this” — “you have been boasting of what the ancients had all thought” — “mine ear hath heard and understood it. What ye know, the same do I know also; I am not inferior to you. Surely I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to reason with God.” That is just what he was doing. But how? He did not know. There was not the New Testament yet. There was not One to stand between God and man, like Christ. So he did not know how to get at Him. If he could only find Him; if he could only be before Him! He knew very well what he would find there—a faithful God. But somehow or other there were difficulties and riddles between God and his soul that he could not understand. He says, “But ye are forgers of lies.” You see all their arguments were founded upon man and upon the world. Everything that a believer stands upon, is what is in God, and what God gives and reveals. And there we find it, in all its perfection, in Christ. But they were all resting upon man's thoughts and man's experience, and the like. And further he says, “Ye are all physicians of no value.” You have come to heal me; you have heard of my terrible state; you came to heal and cure me in my dreadful sickness and suffering, and what have you done? Why, you have poured poison upon my wounds; you have poured no wine, no oil. No balm have you poured upon the poor sufferer. “Oh, that ye would altogether hold your peace! and it should be your wisdom.” And it often is a man's wisdom when he sits quiet and holds his tongue. But directly he begins to speak about what he does not understand-well, what then? That is exactly where they were. “Hear now my reasoning, and hearken to the pleadings of my lips. Will ye speak wickedly for God? and talk deceitfully for him?” That is what they had been doing. They pretended this to be for God. “Will ye accept his person? will ye contend for God? Is it good that he should search you out?” Well, that is what He did. “Or as one man mocketh another, do ye so mock him? He will surely reprove you.” How remarkably that was fulfilled! “He will surely reprove you, if ye do secretly accept persons” —and that is what they were doing. They were accepting persons falsely —according to appearance. “Your remembrances are like unto ashes, your bodies to bodies of clay. Hold your peace, let me alone, that I may speak. and let come on me what will.” Now here I am, ready to bear whatever God sends. I feel the awfulness of it, and the terrors of God are on my soul; but here I am; let him do as seemeth good in his sight “Wherefore do I take my flesh in my teeth, and put my life in mine hand? Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.”
There was a far deeper faith in Job than in all the other three, or in any of them. He did not mean, “though I am lost.” Oh no, he had no idea of that. “Though he slay me” —he knew that the best thing was not life on the earth; he is learning that; but the best thing is the life to come. There it would be all according to God; but here it is in confusion, and in every kind of moral anomaly. “He also shall be my salvation” —he has no doubt about that— “for an hypocrite shall not come before him.” He was very far from that. I do not say that they were hypocrites; but certainly they talked very badly, for men of piety, to Job. “Who is he that will plead with me? for now, if I hold my tongue, I shall give up the ghost.” That is, it was a relief to him, in the agony that he was passing through, to speak out; and all he wanted was to be put right if he was wrong. He says now, “Only do not two things unto me; then will I not hide myself from thee. Withdraw thine hand far from me” —the outward thing “and let not thy dread” —the inward— “make me afraid: then call thou, and I will answer” —and so he did— “or let me speak, and answer thou me. How many are mine iniquities and sins?”
Did he say that there was no sin in him? He never said anything of the kind; he never had the presumption to say, “I am clean in thine eyes.” No, no, far from it. Unfortunately he had rather rested in his cleanness in his own eyes, and in the eyes of other people; but he had to learn that it was a very different thing to be clean in God's eyes. He begins to learn that more and more deeply. “Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and holdest me for thine enemy? Wilt thou break a leaf driven to and fro?” Was that a person pretending to any strength? “And wilt thou pursue the dry stubble? For thou writest bitter things against me, and makest me to possess the iniquities of my youth” —it may be that they are coming upon me now. “Thou puttest my feet also in the stocks” —you make me an object of shame before everybody— “and lookest narrowly unto all my paths; thou settest a print upon the heels of my feet.” That might have been thought to be hidden— “the heels of my feet"; but no, everything is marked. “And he, as a rotten thing, consumeth, as a garment that is moth-eaten.”
Now we come to a very remarkable chapter (14.). Here we find how far were people, in those days even, ignorant as they were, from confounding the resurrection of the unjust with that of the just. This chapter brings in man raised from the grave. I would not say from the dead. Resurrection from the dead means some raised and others left. Resurrection from the grave will be true after all the saints are raised, and there remain only the wicked to be raised. That will be the resurrection from the grave, but not from the dead (for from the dead allows that others remain), there will be none left at that time. There are two resurrections. What is called in the common creeds of Christendom the “general resurrection” is a figment; it has no foundation in scripture. It is entirely opposed to the plainest words of God. Now you have in this world the righteous and the wicked all confused together. The tares are growing with the wheat. But that is only till the judgment come; that is only till the Lord come. And when the Lord comes there will be the separation of the righteous called not only from the dead (other dead being left in their graves), but to heaven where He is now. They are going to be like Himself— “the resurrection of the just.” But there remains the great mass of mankind; and that is what Job describes in this chapter. I shall have little more to show, if God will, next Wednesday, about “the resurrection of the just"; but here is the resurrection of the unjust. And therefore you observe how beautifully the language suits. “Man that is born of a woman” —not a word about anyone that is born of God. Those that are born of God will be the righteous. But “man that is born of a woman” (and all are) “is of few days” —it looks at man since the fall— “and full of trouble.”
Now, if you are speaking of those that are born of God, is that all you could say? Surely not! To depart is no doubt gain, but to live is well worth while; particularly when Christ is the object; and such can say in their measure, in spite of all their weaknesses and all their faults, “To me to live is Christ.” Yes, it is full of blessing; but here it is merely man born of woman, never born of God—not yet, till we come to a later chapter—not one of these is supposed to be born of God. “He cometh forth like a flower” —for they are all pretty much the same when they are born, so far like a flower—no doubt, an interesting object, but how soon developed and made perfectly plain. “He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not.” You know very well—we all know—that there is great mortality among the children; it is particularly there that we have death so frequent.
“And dost thou open thine eyes upon such an one, and bringest me into judgment with thee? Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.” It does not mean, “not one person,” but “not one thing.” I merely make that remark in order that it may be understood. “Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass.” It is all therefore an uncertainty—a precarious condition as far as man is concerned—but all settled of God.
“Turn from him, that he may rest, till he shall accomplish, as an hireling, his day. For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground; yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant. But man dieth, and wasteth away.” There is no hope for him for this earthly life; he dies and is done with. A plant on the contrary may be brought down to the worst and nothing appear, and yet it may shoot up again, particularly if there is water to help it. “Yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth, and drieth up; so man lieth down, and riseth not.” There people very often stop, but not so the Spirit of God here by Job. For it is plain here he really does say what Scripture fully warrants— “till the heavens be no more.” A very remarkable expression. It might have been thought to be-and that we could easily understand as a natural thing— “till the earth be no more"; but man lives and dies, and does not rise—not till the earth be no more, but— “till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.”
Surely, what is here said is very striking, that even man without God—man who is only born of woman, and not of God—man is to sleep till the heavens be no more. Now take the last Book of the New Testament. In the 20th chapter of the Revelation you find that, after the last outbreak of the world and the external nations of the world in the millennium, all that are not converted during the millennium will fall victims to Satan, after his release from the abyss, and they will all be rallied by him against Jerusalem on earth. (They cannot touch Jerusalem above, the holy city.) And not merely that, but “the camp of the saints about” —another striking thing. Why is there a camp of the saints around Jerusalem at that time? Has Satan gathered all the outside nations for one great effort to destroy the righteous that will then be on the earth? All the righteous flow up to Jerusalem, and as it will be entirely beyond the capacity of that Jerusalem to take in the saints from every quarter of the world, they will make a vast encampment round the “beloved city,” and that will be the great mark for Satan. Against that he thinks to hurl his battalions—all the rebels of the millennium on earth. And what happens then? Fire comes down from God and destroys them all. And what then? Satan is cast at last into the lake of fire. There is to be no temptation more; everything is going to be changed now. It is not merely that he is bound—he is cast into the lake of fire. There is no use which God can put him to; he is now to be punished forever. And that is not all.
Heaven and earth flee away. And as the fire had consumed these wicked nations, they now are raised from the dead, and not only they, but all the wicked since the world began. This is the resurrection of the unjust, and they will all be in one company, and without one righteous person. You may ask what is to become of the righteous. Oh, they are translated, just as we are at the coming of the Lord for us before the millennium. They will be with the Lord. They are not spoken of; there is no need to speak about it. They were never promised to sit upon the throne; we were. They had their comfort all the time of their righteousness. They will enjoy nothing but comfort; and, consequently, as they never suffered with Christ, they are not to be glorified with Him. Nevertheless, they are to be raised, or as I should rather say, they are to be changed, because they do not die. But they will no doubt be changed.
That great principle of change will apply to all that are found alive—all the saints on the earth at that time. And we do find them in the next chapter. “The tabernacle of God is with men.” There they are the men; they are not the tabernacle. The tabernacle of God are the glorified saints; are those that had been already with Him and reigning—all those that were His, and they are particularly, as far as I know, the church. I do not know that one could predicate it properly of any but the church. Still, all the others will be blessed throughout all eternity. But the tabernacle of God is with men, and I presume that these men that are spoken of are the saints that are transported from the earth into the “new earth.” You may ask me, How and why? I say, God does not tell us, and I cannot tell you, beyond that I know it will be; and we are all bound to believe that it will be, because the word of God says so. So that there is the tabernacle of God quite distinct. And now when they are all in this city, fit for all eternity, the tabernacle of God, instead of being up in the air, comes down. It is not that it mingles with the other, but there it is. It deigns to be in the midst; God Himself is there, and all those that are in especial nearness to God will be there; but all the blessed inhabitants of the millennial earth will be there as the men with whom that tabernacle shall then be.
So that nothing can be plainer than how this coalesces with the words of Job. The wicked lie in the grave till the very end of the earth. Not merely the end of the age, but the absolute end, not only of the earth, but, of the heavens; and therefore it is said “till the heavens be no more.” For it might be thought that at the beginning of the millennium the earth sustains a very great change, and so it does. But it is not then; it is “till the heavens be no more,” and that will never be till the absolute end of all the dispensations of God; and then it is that the wicked from the beginning and up to the end of the millennium will be all raised for judgment. And this entirely agrees with the 5th of John. You recollect that very remarkable drawing out of the grand principle of life and judgment by our Lord Jesus. He is the source of life, and He is the executor of judgment. In giving life He had communion with His Father. “For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.” But He, and He alone, will judge the dead. And in effect He carries on the judgment of the living also, the “quick” or “alive.” But at this time all His enemies will be dead; all the wicked from the beginning of the world; and they will be sentenced therefore to that which lasts when the world is no more, when there is nothing but the new heavens and the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. They will meet their doom then. And it is lovely, it appears to me, that God should bring those that He loves into their blessing, long before those that are accursed meet their doom, and they will all meet this doom together.
Speaking now of those that are left when the Lord comes for His saints, there will, of course, be great executions of judgment; but then they remain (as a general law) till the end of all—till the thousand years are over, and the heavens and the earth that now are, are completely changed. I would therefore leave this with you as showing how Job had a very good inkling of this blessed truth—much more than the theologians have now-a-days. In general they are all partners in error, no matter who they may be. They may be Established or non-Established; they may be what they call the Free Churches; or they may be Ritualist or Roman Catholics, or anything; but they are all agreed in that great error; they jumble together both the righteous and the unrighteous in what they call one general judgment—a general resurrection—a thing that is entirely without one single scripture to justify it. Nay, more—that is condemned by all the light of the word of God, both Old Testament and New.
Now, I need not say much more; for Job turns from this very solemn scene that is before his mind to call upon the Lord, and says, “Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee; thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands.” His heart is beginning to get a little courage. “For now thou numberest my steps: dost thou not watch over my sin? My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and thou sewest up mine iniquity. And surely the mountain falling, cometh to naught, and the rock is removed out of his place. The waters wear the stones: thou washest away the things which grow out of the dust of the earth; and thou destroyest the hope of man.” But the Lord does not leave Job until he sees that he was not merely man looking up to God, but a man knowing God's love that was taking him up and chastising him in order that he might be blessed more than ever he had been before. That is the great object of the Book of Job. [W. K.]

David in Suffering and in Victory

In Luke 24:26, 27, the risen Savior said to His disciples, “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses, and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures, the things concerning himself.” Do not these words afford us a warrant to expect the Holy Spirit to give us, in those sacred pages, glimpses of Him Whom, through grace, our souls love, “for he first loved us."? The view obtained of Him is often more by way of contrast than of type, as we may see in the subject of our paper.
The circumstances which led to David's obtaining possession of Ziklag are not to his credit. David had shone in chapter 26, in his sparing Saul's life, “for who can stretch forth his hand against the LORD'S anointed, and be guiltless?” he said (ver. 9). And “Saul said to David, Blessed be thou, my son David; thou shalt both do great things, and also shalt still prevail” (ver. 25)- the enemy himself being made to bear witness of what Jehovah would do by David whom He had used to deliver Israel from the hand of Goliath, and who had also anointed him to be king in the room of Saul. It was, therefore, a giving way to sad unbelief when David said in his heart, “I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul” (27: 1) and so went to Achish, king of Gath, to request a place in some town in the country to dwell therein. Then “Achish gave him Ziklag that day; wherefore Ziklag pertaineth unto the kings of Judah unto this day.” The full year and four months spent by David in the Philistines' land reveal no such luster as attached to the time he and his followers had spent in the wilderness. Psalm 99:8 says, “Thou answeredst them, O LORD our God: Thou wast a God that forgavest them, though Thou tookest vengeance of their inventions,” and this in principle holds good today. Compare 1 Cor. 11:31, 32, “But if we discerned ourselves we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world” (R.V.).
So in the case before us, “It came to pass, when David and his men were come to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the south, and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire.” Amalek was the determined foe of Israel (and represents the power of Satan over the flesh), meeting them when they came out of Egypt, and smiting the hindmost, all that were feeble, when they were faint and weary. And “thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven, thou shalt not forget” (Deuteronomy 25:17-19). Better still, however, when “Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword” (Ex. 17) “the LORD said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua for I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.”
Now the Amalekites had taken captive the women that were in Ziklag, “but our captivity by nature was far worse, as dead in trespasses and sins, wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2), some walking perhaps grossly “fulfilling the desires of the flesh,” others morally “of the mind,” but all “by nature children of wrath.” The apostle even speaks of himself as once “carnal, sold under sin” (Romans 7:14).
No wonder was it, in view of all that had taken place, that “David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep.” And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, the people to whom he had been so kind. For when he was in the cave of Adullam, “every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them.” And to Abiathar he had been able, notwithstanding all his wanderings, to say, “Abide thou with me, fear not, for he that seeketh my life seeketh thy life; but with me thou shalt be in safeguard” (1 Samuel 22).
But how David's distress pales in view of David's greater Son and Lord, as given us in Matthew 26, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death"! Jesus the Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, who hid not His face from shame and spitting, and never before had asked for exemption from any sorrow, now making request, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt,” and the second time, “O my Father, if this may not pass from me except I drink it, thy will be done,” and again a third time, “saying the same words.” We adore, but do not wonder at the words, for the Holy One was to be made sin for us, was to bear our judgment, and in that awful hour to know His abandonment by God!
David could seek God only by the ephod—what a contrast! and this he did having encouraged himself “in the LORD his God.” In return David got more than he asked; for, told to “pursue,” he was assured that he should certainly overtake them and “without fail recover all.” This result he had not definitely solicited, though doubtless he hoped for it. If he was thus answered, there was One “who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him out of (R.V.) death, and was heard in that he feared (or, because of his piety); though he was a son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect (or, having been perfected) he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Hebrews 5:7-9). David's lack of obedience brought him into his sorrow; on the other hand, our Lord's perfect obedience spared Him not unutterable anguish and grief. David was used of God to accomplish a temporary deliverance; the Lord accords an eternal salvation to all who own His adorable person and work. How right it is that He shall see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied! Blessed be His name.
The death of the Lord Jesus may be viewed in varied ways. “By the grace of God he tasted death for everything (or one)” (Hebrews 2:9). “Having made peace through the blood of his cross by him to reconcile all things unto himself” (or itself-the Fullness) “whether they be things on earth, or things in heaven” (Colossians 1:20). As the living bread which came down from heaven, He said, “The bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:51); and again, “He died for all” (2 Cor. 5:15). Yet whilst there is this world-wide aspect, there is, nevertheless, what is special and peculiar. Caiaphas prophesied “that Jesus should die for the nation” (John 11:51), and further we know that “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25).
But to revert to David in the scene before us. There were his two wives to be rescued, and in God's gracious counsels an Egyptian (type of a worldling) to be blessed. The names of his wives are suggestive. Ahinoam ("the beauty of the brother")—may be taken to represent Israel, and Abigail ("joy of the father"), the bride of the Lamb. Jehovah shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again (Zechariah 2:12). “For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 54:5). How fittingly Abigail pictures the one, now being gathered out to Christ's name in the hour of His rejection here, is exquisitely set forth in David sending his servants to take her to him to wife. “And she arose, and bowed herself on her face to the earth, and said, Behold, let thine handmaid be a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.” This was true humility, and quite consistent with the implicit obedience she yielded to David's word, acting in a way suited to one who was to be his wife, for she “hasted, and arose, and rode upon an ass, with five damsels of hers that went after her, and she went after the messengers of David, and became his wife” (1 Samuel 25:41, 42).
On his journey after the foe, 200 abode behind, being so faint that they could not go over the brook Besor (meaning “good news"). It is not given to all in the behalf of Christ, as to the Philippian saints, “not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake,” but it is written for all in Romans 8:17, “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.” This way in which David's servants dealt with the Egyptian is worthy of note; they “brought him to David.” So of Andrew, in a later day, it is recorded that he brought his brother Simon to Jesus (John 1). David's servants further “gave him bread and he did eat; and they made him drink water.” So again, Jesus said unto the multitudes that followed Him from Tiberias to Capernaum, “I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). Further, David's servants gave to this young man of Egypt, “a piece of a cake of figs, and two cluster of raisins; and when he had eaten, his spirit came again to him, for he had eaten no bread, nor drunk any water, three days and three nights.” Truly God's grace provides both healing and nourishment, and it appeals to us in our need, “Ho! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk, without money and without price.” “Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.” David now probes the young man and said unto him, “To whom belongest thou, and whence art thou?” and receives as answer, “I am a young man of Egypt, servant to an Amalekite, and my master left me, because three days agone I fell sick.” Such indeed are the rewards of Satan's service. Take Gehazi and Judas as examples.
But further comes out the raid that had been made on Judah, and the burning of Ziklag with fire. Now, all is out, and David is prepared to trust the one who had been his open and avowed enemy. He who speaks of the heaven as His throne and the earth as His footstool, and Who charges His angels with folly, says “To this man will I look even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and that trembleth at my word” (Isaiah 66:2). Oh, the blessing of being a repentant sinner! For “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
But the Egyptian was not so ready to trust David, and needed his assurances. And are not divine assurances: given to the Lord's sheep? Hear these words of Jesus, “I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man (or, devil, we can safely say) pluck them out of my hand. My Father who gave them me is greater than all, and no one is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand” (John 10:28, 29). The man is now in the train of the victorious David, who comes upon his enemies in their pleasures, and so it will be with the world when the Lord comes in judgment of His enemies. For “when they shall say peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5). David gains a spoil for himself now which he shares with his friend. Our Lord in John 17 says, “I have glorified thee on the earth; I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me, with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was” (vers. 4, 5). Then, in verse 22, “And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one even as we are one.” Some of David's followers begrudged that they who had remained behind should partake of the spoil, but David peremptorily ruled it otherwise, saying, “Who will hearken unto you in this matter?” So Paul, when speaking of the end of his course, and saying, “Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me in that day,” adds, for the comfort of those who have not gone through such manifold tribulations, “and not to me only, but unto all them that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8). May we not then be ashamed before Him at His coming!
W. N. T.

The Gentleness of Christ

John 21:15-22
This is a very touching narrative, and comes closely home to our hearts. There is a background to this lakeside picture which heightens the moral beauty of the scene.
The upper room at the last supper, where the self-confidence of the apostle vaunted itself in a boastfulness and a depreciation of others by his saying, “Although all shall be offended, yet will not I. If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise,” throws into relief the deep probing questions of the morning by the lake. The crowded hall of the high priest's house at night with its fire of coals, its weakness and threefold denial, contrast vividly with the quiet lakeside and the threefold confession of loving attachment to his Master.
But one great Figure is the same; one strong tender Heart is common to both pictures; through all the lights and shadows of the terrible tragedy of that dark night in which He was betrayed by one, denied by another, and forsaken by all, the atmosphere of the gentleness of Christ pervades the whole. To Judas the traitor, the reproof and dismissal from the apostolate are given in such gentle terms that none at the table knew for what intent He spake; to Peter, ignorant of his own weakness and boastful of his ability, “Simon, Simon, I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not, and when thou art converted (or, restored), strengthen thy brethren,” is the utterance of the Lord who knew him fully.
At the high priest's house, when the recreant apostle has thrice denied with oaths and curses that he ever knew his Master, then the Lord turned and looked upon Peter. No upbraiding, no reproaches, no scathing denunciation, but a look, one well believes, of such infinite pity and sorrow for His poor, craven-hearted follower, that Peter went out and wept bitterly. Who amongst the followers of the Lord Jesus does not know something of this—the gentleness of Christ?
Now, on this calm, peaceful morning, the same holy Master awaits His follower, and, thoroughly dealing with him, restores and re-instates him to office.
But note the gentleness of the Lord as He trusts the restored man again, and entrusts to him a yet greater share of His interests. This gentleness made Peter great, and in after days we find this apostle teaching the lessons learned that day. Cf. 1 Peter 2:21; 5:2-4.
It is interesting to observe that the inquiry of the Lord is not “Lovest thou My sheep?” but “Lovest thou ME?” Then, “Feed my lambs"; “Shepherd my sheep,” “Feed my sheep” incidentally reminding us that no amount of affection for the sheep will guarantee sufficient impetus to maintain a course of unwearied service to them. The people of the Lord are sometimes difficult to get on with; they have moods and opinions and are sometimes apt to be very viewy and trying; likewise the pastors or shepherds, being human, may magnify themselves and not their office, or cease to be ensamples to the flock of God, and so the relationship fails of its divine intention.
But the Unchanging One to Whom Peter realized his eternal indebtedness, Whose love had entirely won him, Whose gentleness had made him great, with unerring wisdom touches the vital question of all true service, whether towards the people of God or to sinners needing salvation, “Lovest thou Me?” thus presenting Himself as the sole object for the heart of the servant, and the sufficient motive for the most arduous, unwearied, patient, willing service to man.
One further thing calls for notice in this incident, namely, no sooner is Peter restored and re-instated to office, than a hint of the old disposition appears. The final words of commission have been spoken by the Lord, and the emphatic injunction, “Follow Me” has been placed upon him, when he, turning about, began to be occupied with another disciple.
An eye off the Master, and on a fellow disciple leads to an outburst of curiosity. The turning about, and the occupation with some other one than the One he was called to follow was and is the cause of the mischief. John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was probably morally and spiritually the best of the apostolic band, but anyone or anything that diverts the gaze of the believer from his Lord is a hindrance to the close following of His steps.
So the Lord in His tenderness rebukes the incipient wandering of this one, who once before “had followed afar off,” with, “What is that to thee? Follow thou Me.”
There is but one Lord, and He the sufficient object for the heart of the saint; and the Lord here briefly indicates what is the life-long occupation for Peter, and for ourselves, “Follow thou Me.”
“Oh, guard my soul then, Jesus,
Abiding still with Thee;
And if I wander, teach me,
Soon back to Thee to flee;
That all Thy gracious favor
May to my soul be known,
And versed in this, Thy goodness,
My hopes Thyself shalt crown.”

Brief Notes on 2 Peter 1

The First Epistle begins, “Peter an apostle"; here it is “Simon [or, Simeon; Peter.” Is the Apostle taking a lowlier place here than in the former, by thus using the name that recalls all that he was as “Simon"? The subject of the epistles is different. Yet in both it is the government of God; but while everything is referred to God in the First Epistle, here it is to the Lord. So it is appropriate that “Simon” should be used here, as his personal name, because he has in view the life of our Lord when here on earth.
We have “obtained like precious faith” “through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.” The words “our God” are associated with “Jesus Christ.” It is not His personal righteousness, nor what we have in Romans 3:21, 22, which is “God's righteousness, by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all, and upon all them that believe,” but what is referred to about Abraham—His faithfulness to His own promises, as in Romans 15:8.
The force of the phrase “our God and Savior” is “our Savior who is our God.” But for Him there could be no obtaining by us of “like precious faith.” He is not merely the ground of it all, but its effectuating power—not alone laying a righteous basis, but bringing it all about. There is one Person before the mind, and through Him the word is confirmed to us, and made good in our souls. It is He who is faithful to God and to the word promised to Abraham.
How fervent Peter is! Paul is content with grace and peace, “but Peter desires these multiplied.” If difficulties are multiplied as in ch. 2, so too is grace for the meeting of them.
“Through the knowledge [lit., full knowledge] of God” not a smattering. We ought to be growing in it. We know God and are known of Him. But of the Son it is said, “No one knoweth the Son but the Father; neither knoweth any one the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him.” The Father reveals the Son. People talk of God's love, but they don't know it till they see it in the cross. You must “see and believe"; believe God's love, and know Christ's work.
The perfectness of Christ's work gives us to rejoice in God's nature. It is not the thought of the Father—that is relationship: but through the perfect work of Christ we have God's nature.
The Old Testament saints knew God; but now we have the work as well as the Person, and we cannot separate the two. We glory, or boast, wonderful to say, in God (not here the Father), in the very One of whose glory we had come short. Yet it almost makes one blush to read the expressions in the Psalms of exultant joy in God, but that joy was not stable. And more, it is the experience of the remnant in a future day. No one can know God now except by the Son.
The “life” in ver. 3 is the new life, that which is “really life,” as Paul calls it in his letter to Timothy.
“Godliness” is a word often misapplied. It is not a person's mere kind or unworldly life, but do they value Christ? or are they going on with that which dishonors Him? If the latter, they are not “godly.”
“Virtue” here means courage. “Glory” is presented as an object, and courage is necessary to pursue it. We are “called by His own glory and excellency.” When you speak of valor, or courage, you apply it to man, as in ver. 5, but you cannot apply it to God. “Excellency” is the better word all round. If a man was cowardly there was no excellency in him in the eyes of the Greeks.
If these things come by the growing knowledge of God, how can we get that knowledge? By feeding on Him, the Living Bread come down from heaven. We got life by having eaten of it, and we must sustain that life by constant feeding on it.
Ver. 4. We are sometimes apt to forget these “exceeding great and precious promises.” What are they? If you have ₤5,000, you don't want to know if it is all in separate pounds or bank notes. “All the promises of God in Him are yea and in Him amen,” and Christ is ours.
The promises belonged to Israel, not to Gentiles. As sinners we do not rest on promises—there are none for us; we rest on the performance as in Romans 4:24, 25. Abraham had a promise and believed it, and this belief was reckoned unto him for righteousness; we believe what God has done—raised Him from the dead who had been delivered up for our offenses.
Ver. 5. Diligence is a point much pressed by Peter. How can you expect to grow, who only read the Bible as a duty, and never expect to get anything from it? The world has got its lures, but “if any will be a friend of the world he is the enemy of God.” The great preventative is our growing in grace and knowledge. “We have escaped” the corruption.
My experience is that if you try to get out of a trouble the Lord sends you, He will send it after you.
We deceive ourselves if we think because we are in a right path we shall have a smooth one.
We shall have all against us. Go to the church of Rome, surrender your conscience to the Pope. Then how happy! No exercise before God! no progress for the soul! but an awful succumbing to the power of evil, and sailing with the stream, with no power to overcome, like a dead fish! But what of the live fish? Look at the salmon leaps! Baffled again and again they try till they overcome every obstacle. What a lesson for us!
He who wrote this was a courageous man naturally, but how sadly he broke down! A man who is naturally courageous, when he comes to know himself is very timid, because he knows it must be God's strength and not his own. “Add in your faith,” etc. It is not something outside you. It is the natural outcome of what you lay hold of. You lay hold on faith, there is confidence in God, and that involves courage. “In your faith, add (or supply) courage; and in courage, knowledge; and in knowledge, self-control; and in self-control, endurance; and in endurance, godliness, and in godliness, brotherly kindness; and” (for we must not stop at brotherly kindness) “in brotherly kindness, love.” For “love” is of God, and goes far beyond love of the brethren, which might even hinder us from carrying out His will if they were the end before our eyes rather than Himself who is supreme. Here then we have divine addition, and how blessed it is! Let us then “give all diligence” to these additions.

All Things Ready in the Gospel and in Worship: Part 1

It is indeed very blessed to be enabled to tell a poor awakened sinner that in Jesus all things are ready which he needs for remission of sins, righteousness, and life. And it is not less blessed to be enabled to tell those who have so come to Jesus, that all things are ready for their worship in the holiest of all; that everything is there ordered by the blessed Jesus Himself for their entrance therein, and that He Himself has consecrated the way for their approach.
The time is coming when “many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths, for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:3). But now is the time for believers to encourage one another to enter into the holiest of all—even into heaven itself, because Jesus is there, and His blood is there. Come ye, say they, and let us draw near with a true heart.
Under the law, much of the priestly ministry was outside the tabernacle, and open to the view therefore of the worshipper. If he brought a burnt sacrifice, he was to bring it to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, where he was to kill it, and then the priests sprinkled the blood in his sight upon the altar that was by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. This part of the priest's work was visible to the outside worshippers. But he who could approach thus far was never satisfied as to his conscience. He came indeed to these sacrifices—he saw them offered—but they were utterly inefficacious as to the purging of the conscience. “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sin.” But now all on the outside has been once and for all accomplished; the priestly ministry is all within and invisible, and therefore only known to faith by the revelation of God.
Let us put ourselves in the place of a Hebrew worshipper, by God's grace taught to know Jesus as the one sacrifice for sin, and as the ever-abiding High Priest in the holiest of all. What a struggle must there often have been in his mind when approaching God, because he had no sacrifice to offer—nothing visible on which to lean, no victim to lay his hand upon. It must indeed have required real true heartedness to Jesus to enable him to draw near—and to look at everything with which he had been formally conversant as taken up in Jesus, so that all that he had seen before was now only to be discerned by faith as fulfilled in Christ. And are we not often false to Jesus in this matter? Do we not often harbor the thought that something yet remains to be done—either by ourselves or by Him—in order to our drawing near? Do we not often thus become occupied with the circumstantials of worship rather than with Jesus—the substance? Are we not often false to Him in questioning our title to draw near because we find distance in our own hearts, as if it was the warmth of our affections, instead of the blood of Jesus, which brought near?
But oh, beloved, how false to Jesus has the church been! The worshippers are often pressed down by a burdensome ritual, and allowed neither to know that they are once and forever purged, nor that all is prepared for their entrance into the holiest. They are turned back again to that which is visible, and go through the daily routine of service, never getting farther than the door of the tabernacle! They are set in the place of distant Jews, instead of that of priests sanctified for heavenly ministrations and worship!
And how continually do we see souls led to put the act of worship in the place of Jesus. Surely this is not to draw near with a true heart. A doubt harbored as to the all-sufficiency of His sacrifice, or the perfect efficiency of His priesthood, or His tender sympathy and compassion, is not to draw near with a true heart. if we shrink back into a distant place after all He has done, are we true-hearted to Jesus? But what positive treachery to Jesus is it to set up an order of men as in greater nearness to God than others-virtually putting them within and virtually putting others without. To lean on priests, or ministers, in worship, as if they were needed to that end, is absolutely denying the virtue of the person and work of Christ. But such things are the necessary offsprings of departure from the truth of a sinner's justification before God, by the one sacrifice of Christ. Distant worship necessarily follows imperfect justification. And if a sinner's justification before God by the blood of Jesus be not seen, much less will entrance into the holiest of all by the same blood for worship be allowed as the common portion of the saints. But even where the truth as to justification has been recovered and is preached, we still see a form and a ritual of worship altogether subversive of the truth. The access proclaimed in the gospel preached, is not permitted those who have believed that preaching! Thus the saints are practically kept in a place of distance, and thus taught to be false-hearted to Jesus!
(To be continued)

Fragment: Luke 10:39

It was not much to record of this one that she (Mary) sat at Jesus' feet. Has this value in the eyes of the world, or even of Christians in general? Has it in ours? But it was as ointment poured forth to the heart of the Beloved One. We may be active in service, right as all this is in its place, but there is nothing He so values as for us to love to listen to Him. How wonderful that, although He is now exalted on the throne of the Majesty on high, He still looks for the opportunity of speaking to us down here. Are we beyond His care or reach? or outside His interest? Here was no bustling crowd, no activities of service—here was rest even for Him.
The last of the seven addresses to the churches, “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any man will hear my voice, and will open the door, I will come in to him.” What for? To talk with him! He, when here in this world, had many things to say to His own which they could not bear, and He would have much to say to us if we were ready to listen. The only place to learn His mind for service is at His feet. Service is good, but the Lord said, Mary had chosen the good part. He appreciated and valued Martha's service as no other could, for He never slights or fails to value service in its place. He is listening for the voice that will bid Him enter. May we open to Him!
What was the end of it all? The Lord perhaps had spoken to Mary of His death. When He spoke to His disciples about His decease they wouldn't have it. But this one had sat at His feet, and because of what she had there learned from Him, she brings out an alabaster box of precious ointment, and pours it on His blessed feet. Let it be ours to be found sitting at His feet, listening to His word.

Scripture Query and Answer: Head Covering

Q.-Will you please say, through the “Bible Treasury,” whether, in your judgment, 1 Cor. 11:1-17 (re sisters covering heads) may be applied to a Bible reading in a private house, which is private in character? Also, whether, in such a reading, it is proper for sisters to pray? Such a meeting is not to be regarded as an “assembly” gathering, is it? Your reply in the May issue, if possible, will be appreciated. J. M.
A.-We should never confound a “Bible reading” with an “assembly meeting.” The character of each is altogether different and distinct. For the freedom of speech and asking of questions which pertains to a Bible reading is altogether disallowable in a meeting of “assembly.” Whilst, however, there is this freedom, and more or less conversational character, which obtains in the reading meeting, women, nevertheless, have their suited conduct which, in general, is “to be in silence.” “The men” may pray in every place, lifting up holy hands; not so women, who (not in dress only, but) in seemly deportment, should be adorned with “modesty and sobriety.” It would be a contradiction of this if women were to pray in public. We can well understand the liberty of a mother praying with her children at home, and that scripture does not call upon her in such a case to cover her head either then, or, as it appears to me, in the reading of God's word at “family prayer.” But in a Bible reading, where men are present, even if held in a “private” house, would not this assume a “public” character? And if so, comeliness would call for the covering of the head on the part of the women as well as (need we say?) for their silence whether of prayer or speech.


F. E. RACE, Publisher, 3 & 4, London House Yard,
Paternoster Row, E.C.
The Bible Treasury, New Series

Lectures on Job 15-19

Lect. 5-Chaps. 15-19
In this 15th chapter we have the second debate between Job's friends and himself. I shall take a view of the greater part of it, if the Lord will, in a general way tonight.
Although Eliphaz was the more grave and solid of his friends, they were all infected with the same fundamental mistake. That is an important thing for our souls. We are so apt to think that we never make any important mistake. Why should that be so? Are we so different from others? Are we not very liable to it? You must remember that this is a practical mistake; it is not merely a dogmatic one. There is no question of false doctrine of any kind here; but it is the application of truth to the soul; and it is of great moment to us that God has given us a very early book—Moses probably the writer of it; but the persons concerned are considerably before Moses. We see that from the very age of Job, and from all the circumstances.
There is no reference to the law of Israel; no reference to the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt; it always speaks of a particularly early time. Its great point is the dealings of God with man, and particularly with men of faith. It is not merely unbelieving man; with him it is always pretty much the same thing. His guilt may be aggravated; and, indeed, I have no doubt that there is no man now so responsible as those that hear the gospel—those that have Christianity in a living way presented to them. They are far more guilty and more to be pitied in one way than even the wild Tartars, or the subjects of that kingdom (Thibet) that seems now [1903] about to be penetrated—that practically shut up and sealed kingdom which now is about to be opened, as far as we can see; surely a rather solemn consideration; for it would be hard to find another. No doubt, in the wilds and center of Africa there may be many tribes that are unknown; but this is a very old civilization; and its rulers have managed to completely block out light from every source—to pursue their own devices to their own destruction. But God will not allow it to proceed further; and although we cannot look for much in the present state, many may go there as a matter of commerce, or a matter perhaps of politics, or a matter of ambition of one kind or another—still there may be children of God mixed up with them, and these, at any rate, can give a message from Christ.
However that may be, what I am drawing attention to is the interesting character of this book as the revelation to us now (and, of course, to the Old Testament saints long before us) of how God deals with pious men, and that for their souls' good, before there is any written revelation of God. For this is one of the very first books that ever were written, as I have previously remarked. Sometimes people forget that although Job appears far down in the Bible, it is the first book of a poetic character; the prose books all come before Job, carrying you down past the captivity to Babylon, and then returning from it; and then we go back to the poetic books, and the Book of Job is the first one. It answers, therefore, very much to Genesis; what Genesis is in the first portion of the Bible, Job is in the second. Then we have the Prophets; but it is the first of the poetic books that are not the Prophets.
Now as to the attack—for we cannot call it anything else that is a serious thing. It is not merely in modern times that Christians have their differences. We see it is here radical—it belongs to the human spirit, and it may have a very good source; because we are, as no doubt Old Testament saints found themselves too, instinctively caring for one another. These friends of Job were exceedingly troubled as to the man to whom they had all looked up, and he was considered the most righteous of all men within their scope; and no wonder, God pronounced him so. They did not know that. It is a most important thing to make this remark, that we are in a very different position, for hearing all these debates, from Job himself. How little did Job know that all that came upon him was in consequence of what passed in the presence of God in heaven!—everything spoken in heaven about the child of God, even the trials! This was to be a peculiar trial, but it was all settled there; Job knew nothing about it. The raid of these Chaldeans, and those we call “Bedouins,” and the like—all that was merely natural; and, no doubt, the tendency was to regard it merely as the trials of a righteous man and his family from natural causes.
No, beloved friends; it is not a mere natural cause to the believer; he is under the eye of God. He was so always; still more so now. Now we are brought into known relationship with God, and into the nearest relationship with God. We are put in the place of His own family; we are His own children, yea, sons of God, for this latter speaks of a dignity before others; that is to say, we are no longer novices, no longer babes in the nursery, as was the case with believers in the Jewish system. They had not arrived at age. The Christian now, if he knows what it is to be a Christian (a great many, alas! do not know, for they think themselves very much like believers of old, but that is a mistake), has far superior privileges; and it is one of the great means of Satan's hindering, to lead people not to understand the place they are brought into, and, consequently, their responsibility. However that may be, here we have these undoubted saints that were all at sea in regard to this terrible calamity, this blow after blow, tempest after tempest which blew away everything in which Job had once been so favored. For God has pleasure in blessing His people not merely in spiritual things, but where we can bear it. You remember that word of the apostle John, where he wishes that Gaius might prosper as his soul prospered. If the soul does not prosper, adversity comes as a great mercy; but where the soul prospers we may be allowed to feel, and God has pleasure in showing, His goodness in everything—in family circumstances, yea, in everything, if it be for His glory. He is the judge of that. But there are continually things that, in the wisdom of God, are forbidden in this way or that way.
However, I do not go into that now; but here we have the fact that the two things perfectly coalesced in Job—that there was not a man upon earth that God had such pleasure in looking upon as Job, and yet such a man passing through deepest trial from God. It is a great difficulty with the Jews; they cannot understand it. They want to make out that Job was an imaginary being, because it seems so strange to them that after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, there should be a man outside Israel altogether that God had such a high opinion of—and he not a Jew! Yes. So there it was a great blow to their pride and their narrowness. Yet were they not all in fact outsiders? They would seem to have been in the Abrahamic line in one way; but they were not in the chosen line. You know that Abraham had other children; and they would appear to have been sprung from an Abrahamic line, but outside that particular covenant; and we have no reason to suppose that they had the sign and seal of that covenant which, of course, the Israelites have.
No; the point is God dealing with “man,” and with man's heart and conscience. And what is more, it was not because of any particular evil. There was the radical mistake of Eliphaz which runs through his speech that I have just read to-night. He cannot rise above the thought that Job had seemed everything that was beautiful to our eyes and everybody's eyes, and he was blessed of God in an extraordinary manner. For he was, as is said, the greatest man in that part of the East. And now this utter reverse! this casting him down from what seemed his excellency! How could it be but that, as God is a righteous God, there must be some terrible iniquity there? So he also felt that if there was an iniquity, Job must be conscious of it; and yet not a word from Job! Not a sign that he was ashamed of himself, or that he had anything to be judged! There was fault in Job; but not the least of the kind they expected. The fault in Job was this, that Job had a good opinion of himself, and that Job had great pleasure in everybody's so highly respecting him. I wonder whether any of us have got that? I am afraid it is a very common thing. And there is just what people do not find out. They do not learn; they so little understand this wonderful mirror of the word of God. They do not understand that here is their own case.
However, I perhaps anticipate. But we find how very strong is the outburst of Eliphaz—a mild, grave, and serious man—for this he undoubtedly was. There is no need of our running down the three friends as if they were something very uncommon. They were very common indeed. Job rather was uncommon, and decidedly uncommon; and that is what made the example of Job so very pertinent to the object of God—that a man might be spotless in his way, that a man might be justly respected, but that when the man that is pious, God—fearing, prayerful, and one so loved and valued and cried up as Job was—when he accepts it as his due, and has great pleasure in it, God is a jealous God, and will not allow that. And why not? Man is a sinner. And Job, even though he was now a believer, had sin in him, and self-judgment was wanting. If self-judgment had been duly exercised, Job would not have needed this trial. And there is another thing too; that when God does send a trial, the great call of man is to submit to it without a doubt, without a question, giving God credit for it that there is no undue severity. Now, on the contrary, Job felt a very great deal about it, and found fault with God, and thought that God was dealing very hardly indeed with him.
Thus it is that the way in which this book has been sometimes treated for 1,500 years (perhaps more) is an entire fallacy.
What I refer to is this: that Job was considered to be a kind of type of Christ in his suffering. Nothing of the sort. Quite the reverse. Look, for instance, at the 38th and 39th Psalms. There you have not exactly Christ personally, but the spirit of Christ in the Israelite, and this will be accomplished in the future day, when there will be a remnant of Jews thoroughly marked by the spirit of Christ, which will follow after we are taken out of the way to heaven. They will pass through tremendous trial, and the remnant will have that spirit of Christ. Those Psalms are prophetically written for them. No doubt all was written for us. All the Bible was written for the Christian, and for his use, blessing and enjoyment. But it is not all about us. This is the mistake that many people make, that because it is all for our good and for our spiritual taste and enjoyment, therefore, we are the persons that are meant in it! Not so. There is just what was falsified—this trying to find the pattern of Christ in it! whereas the very point is the contrast shown by the rebellious spirit of Job. For there is that. He charges God with being his enemy, and with tearing him to pieces and casting him down, making him to be an object of mockery for everybody. Job imputes to God. Well, no doubt God had allowed all this to come to pass; it could not have been without it. But it was not God's, it was Job's own mistake; and it was Job also that had the most agonizing sense of that, because he could not bear the shame of his friends coming. He bore it all beautifully till his friends dawned upon the scene. A man when alone can bear; but when there are people that show no sympathy and no understanding, he breaks loose and lets out, and flings very improper language about his friends—perhaps they deserved it, but certainly, certainly not God. And his friends were alive to that. They could see that he spoke improperly about God; so that he put himself quite in the wrong there.
“Should a wise man utter vain knowledge,” for they were quite aware that there was something very able in what Job said—they called that vain knowledge— “and fill his belly with the east wind?” No doubt he was exceedingly wrong. “Should he reason with unprofitable talk? or with speeches wherewith he can do no good? Yea, thou castest off fear, and restrainest prayer before God.” Now he did nothing of the kind; Job always clung to God, always looked up to God, but he said, “I cannot find Him; He has shut me out, occupying me with this agony that I am passing through, so that I cannot get at Him. I know if I could only get there I should find goodness and mercy.” It was no doubt very inconsistent; but that is always the case with poor man when he is not in the presence of God. That was one of the grand points that all had. Job was living, for a man of faith, too much in the good opinion of other people as well. as in his own good opinion. There is where he was quite wrong. And there is where Christ and Christianity puts us in our true place if we are faithful—which is, that we have to face a hostile world; that we have to face not only a hostile world, but even, it may be, fellow Christians, who, if they are not faithful, are mad against any people that are; because it rebukes themselves. We have to bear that, and consequently here we are now in the truth of things suffering with Christ. That is what Christ suffered.
I am not speaking now of suffering for Christ. Suffering for Christ is where there is a decided break made. Perhaps we are cast into prison falsely, or it may be transported falsely, or executed falsely as martyrs and the like—that is suffering for Christ. But there is another kind of suffering that belongs to the Christian—suffering with Christ. For instance, suppose that there was a royal princess of England that was truly brought to God, and who entered really into the place of the Christian—why, what would be the case of that young princess? Always suffering. Why? Because everything that surrounded her would be contrary to what belonged to her soul and to her position. Why so? Because it is of the world, and of the world in its grandest shape, and consequently it would mark the contrariety. What is the place of the Christian? He is not of the world. How far not of the world? Why, like Christ. What did Christ do with the world? Where did Christ ever contribute one iota to what the world likes and values? Christ appeared to be the most useless of men for the world. He never made a speech upon science; He never contributed one, lesson in learning or literature. He never gave a vote—if I may speak of voting or anything of that kind. He never did the slightest thing of that nature; He would not even judge a case, or arbitrate even when they wanted Him to judge in that informal way; consequently, there never was a person more completely outside the world while passing through it. That is where the Christian is. I say, therefore, that the higher you are up in the world the more you find the difficulty of being faithful. And that is suffering with Christ, where you feel it. There are some people who get through things easily. That is not to be admired; it is a kind of opiate—continually dramming oneself with opiates to drown feeling, and take everything quite comfortably, no matter what it is, and entirely losing sight of the fact that we do not belong to these things in which we take part.
Oh, beloved friends, that is not the way. Our call is to take part actively for Christ and according to Christ. Our call is to entire separation to the Lord. Supposing that there was a house on fire next door; it would be our business to immediately do all we could to help and save both life and property. That is not worldly; but it would be worldly to go into the Court and fight for our rights or to refuse to pay our dues if we are called upon to do so. All that is not only worldly, but it is rebellious. I know what they call themselves— “Passive Resisters” —but I do not understand that language. They are active resisters of the law; and if they had any sense of propriety they would pay their money quietly, or let people take their goods quietly, and so make an end. I only mention it now to show how completely God's children have lost the sense of what it is to be a Christian. I am speaking now practically. I might go further. I maintain that Christians have lost the doctrine of what a Christian is. It is not that there is a certain blessed standard that we all acknowledge to be what a Christian is, and that we fall short, practically. I believe it will be found that they are as wrong about the standard as they are about the practice; and one thing I can say for myself, honestly and truly, that what has occupied me all my life, is cleaving to what I have found to be the Christian pathway and duty, and seeking to help others to see the truth and blessedness of it, and to act faithfully according to it. I am sure I have plenty to judge myself for; but I thank God for every trial and everything that has made nothing of me. And that is just what Job had to learn as to himself. He did not know that God was working all this for Job's own great good, even allowing also what was most repulsive to God—the disease, and the sweeping away of his family. This was all the devil's doing; but God allowed it for Job's good, and Job had not an idea of all that. If Job had understood the end that was coming, and had understood the beginning which was before all the trial, he would have lost a great deal of the blessing, and why? Because, then, as now, the child of God is to walk by faith.
People like to walk by sight, and that was the great fallacy that lay under all the speeches of these three friends. They looked at Job; they looked at what he was; and they look at what he now is in all this terrible crushing to the dust, and they said in effect, “Well, God is a righteous God, and if there were not some dreadful thing behind all this, God would never have allowed it.” They were completely wrong, and Job was thoroughly right in saying, “No, I know it is not so, and all your talk cannot get rid of the fact that you have most wicked men that are most flourishing, and you have pious men that are exceedingly suffering, in the world as it is now.” How is that? Because Satan is actively working here; because Satan is the one that men follow without knowing. They are slaves and captives of the devil; and those that are not slaves of the devil are the objects of his vengeance and hatred. God does not remove that; He does not put down Satan yet; he is allowed his way. And there never was a greater proof of it than his leading the world and the Jewish people to crucify their own Messiah, the Lord of glory. Was there any fault here? Here you have the crucial proof. Here was the absolutely sinless One and never such a sufferer. The whole theory, then, of the three friends was a falsehood from beginning to end. Yet it is exactly what most people think to this day. They have an idea that there must be something very wrong where they see people passing through exceeding deep waters. Now there was something that Job had not got, and that was to measure himself in the presence of God; and God never stopped till He brought him into His presence. He interfered in the most remarkable way; but I must not anticipate. Eliphaz, after having let out strongly at Job, now falls back upon what was a very common feeling, especially of the former. Eliphaz was a man that strongly stood for the great value of experience. You know there are people that are very strong for experience, and accordingly, as to the great and good men that have been before—is that a standard? No one denies the honor due to elders, at least no person with any propriety. But Eliphaz used it in a wrong manner, and told Job, “Why, you are going against everything that has been held by the best of men that have ever been. Are you the first man; are you as old as the hills when you talk in such a manner as this, as if you knew better than any of these most excellent men, older than your father? and you set up in this way.” Well, he carries on that for some time, and he comes to this; what it must be. “How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water? I will show thee, hear me; and that which I have seen I will declare.” He meant Job particularly there. “I will show thee, hear me; and that which I have seen I will declare, which wise men have told from their fathers, and have not hid it.” He looks therefore at old experience, and of the best of men, when men were not so bad as they were in his time. For that is quite true; man does get worse and worse, and even he had remarked it.
A famous poet that I used to read as a boy—a heathen poet—says the very same thing, that no generation had been so bad as the present one, which is going to bear children that will be worse than their fathers. At any rate they are not so bad as the people who think the world is going to get better, for these are most deplorably wrong. There will be a great change; but what will bring in that change will not be preachers, nor tracts, nor books, nor education; nay, not even the Bible, although that is the word of God. But the Bible demands more than this. It requires that men be born of God; and even in the case of people that are born of God they are called to judge themselves, just like Job, the very best of them. That is what he was brought to, and what he was most slow to come to. Therefore all this reasoning was entirely out of place, and the larger part of the chapter is description, that when a man is carrying on in this way it must be that he is always in dread of what is coming. Eliphaz was wrong about that. Job had no such thought. Job was quite sure if he could only find God that all would be right, and that He would speak to him, and God would do all that was good. But he knew that somehow or other God was dealing, in allowing all these terrible things to happen to him; why he did not know, and for what end he did not know.
Now we come to Job's answer (chap. 16). I have heard many such things; miserable comforters are ye all. Shall vain words have an end? Or what emboldeneth thee that thou answerest? I also could speak as ye do. If your soul were in my soul's stead, I could heap up words against you, and shake mine head at you. But I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the moving of my lips should assuage your grief. Though I speak, my grief is not assuaged.” And no doubt Job spoke perfectly truly. He would have been a comforter of sorrow; he would not have been a physician without any medicine. They brought poison into his wounds instead of something to assuage. He said, “I have been pouring out my sorrow, but I am no better for it” — “Thou hast made desolate all my company. And thou hast filled me with wrinkles.” He now speaks of his own person too. “He teareth me in his wrath, who hateth me.” He does not say it was God. I think it is rather too much to suppose that he means that; but he does mean that God allowed it; and therefore, in a euphemistic way he says “He.” But it was God allowing the devil to do it—his enemy—otherwise it would be a dreadful inconsistency with the rest of his language which we are not bound to carry out to more than a superficial inconsistency; it is not radical. “God hath delivered me to the ungodly” —and he in the most graphic manner describes his intense affliction. But now (ver. 17), we find Job in the midst of this making complaint as to prayer being restrained. “Not for any injustice in mine hands” —that he could say truly. It was not a question of injustice; it was a question of job's too great complacency in himself. “Also my prayer is pure. O earth, cover not thou my blood, and let my cry have no place.” He regards himself as if he were a victim to all this enmity that is shown him.” Also now, “behold, my witness is in heaven.” You do not find the others saying that. They did not know as much about heaven as Job; they did not know God as Job did—not one of the three. “My record is on high.” It is the beginning of a little light that is piercing through the clouds. “My friends scorn me; but mine eye poureth out tears unto God. Oh that one might plead for a man with God, as a man pleadeth for his neighbor!” How the heart of Job was made to pine for the very thing that Christ must do!
In the 17th chapter Job carries on, and goes back to his dreadful condition. It was not yet a settled thing; it was merely a gleam. “My breath is corrupt, my days are extinct, the graves are ready for me. Are there not mockers with me?” —surely there were three of them— “and doth not mine eye continue in their provocation?” If that was the case with these three men who had been his friends, what was the feeling of all the people round about that knew? You may depend upon it, it would be quite as bad as that of the three friends, or worse. We must not suppose it is limited to them. It is the natural conclusion of the natural mind, working upon this thought, that God's moral government is exact now, instead of knowing that God on the contrary, is waiting for His direct government, when Christ, who alone is capable of holding the reins and of governing, shall rule. Therefore, even when the church was formed, the church was perfectly incapable of judging the world; and of this Popery is a clear instance. There they have tried to govern the world, and what are they? Why, the most abominable thing in the eye of God on the earth. There is nothing more wicked than Popery. You may tell me about all the horrors of heathenism and Buddhism. Yes, but they do not mix up Christ, or Peter, or Paul, and all the rest. The Papists know enough of Christianity to make them verily guilty. It is a great deal more wicked idolatry to worship the Virgin Mary than to worship Juno or Venus; because the one was pure ignorance under the darkness of the devil, and the other is worshipping Mary after Christ came—after the true light shone. There is nothing more guilty than what people call Christian Idolatry. Worshipping the Mass—what is that? That is not confined to Papists now; now it is unblushingly done—I will not say by Protestants, but by people who masquerade as clergymen. Surely that is not too severe an expression for it? —and at the same time they are perfectly in the error of Popery, only they do not yet own the Pope; but they have all the falsehood of it in their souls.
Well, Job bemoans his condition in a very solemn manner, and compares what he once was. “Afore-time I was as a tabret,” i.e., “I sounded music, as it were, in the ears of people as I had to do with them.” But now a by-word not merely of the three friends, but “of the people!” “Mine eye also is dim by reason of sorrow, and all my members are as a shadow. Upright men shall be astonied at this, and the innocent shall stir up himself against the hypocrite. The righteous also” —you see it is turned for good— “shall hold on his way.” That is where he looked onward to. His record was on high; his witness was in heaven; he clung to God. “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” That was Job's language; that was his spirit. He had far more faith than any one of the three.
Then, in the next chapter (18.) we have another man, Bildad the Shuhite, and he speaks still more violently than Eliphaz, “How long will it be ere ye make an end of words?” He had no feeling for Job whatever; no understanding. “Mark, and afterward we will speak. Wherefore are we counted as beasts, and reputed vile in your sight? He teareth himself in his anger; shall the earth be forsaken for thee? and shall the rock be removed out of its place? Yea, the light of the wicked shall be put out.” There was a thrust, and a bitter thrust, at poor Job— “and the spark of his fire shall not shine. The light shall be dark in his tabernacle, and his candle shall be put out with him.” That is what he counted Job. “The steps of his strength shall be straitened and his own counsel shall cast him down. For he is cast into a net by his own feet, and he walketh upon a snare” —a mere dream of his own imagination! And this he pursues to the very end of the chapter. I do not dwell upon it, in order to come to Job's answer. For it was all a mistake.
“Then Job answered and said (chap. 19.), How long will ye vex my soul, and break me in pieces with words? These ten times have ye reproached me: ye are not ashamed that ye make yourselves strange to me.” And now he takes this ground—Be it that I have sinned without knowing; be it that I have done something displeasing to God!— “mine error,” he says, “remaineth with myself. If indeed ye will magnify yourselves against me, and plead against me my reproach; know now that God hath overthrown me” —that was his faith. He takes it all as from God, without knowing what had taken place in heaven. He was to be made to pass through the deepest trouble; but the man that was to be proverbial for patience broke out in a total impatience. There came about the total failure of even a pious man; not merely of a man; not merely of Adam—for Adam fell; he was not born after Job, but Job was born after Adam; and yet after all, that a man so noted for his patience should fail when he was tried! Ah! in Christ there is the contrast. That is where people are so wrong to make this one the type of Christ. No, it is a specimen failing, and a man born of God failing. We want Christ, and cannot do without Christ. That is the true moral of the Book of Job.
“Know now that God hath overthrown me” —it is perfectly true it must have been God allowing all this. “Behold, I cry out of wrong, but I am not heard; I cry aloud, but there is no judgment. He hath fenced up my way that I cannot pass, and he hath set darkness in my paths. He hath stripped me of my glory, and taken the crown from my head.” All this he felt very deeply. What right has any believer to a crown now? What right has any believer to glory now? Has he not an evil nature to be judged constantly, every day? Does this deserve a crown? Or a man that has that nature to contend with; does that deserve a crown? The day when we shall be crowned is when we have I nothing but what is of Christ, every bit of the old man completely passed away. There is where Job had much to learn. “He hath destroyed me on every side, and I am gone; and mine hope hath he removed like a tree. He hath also kindled his wrath against me” —there he was wrong— “and he counteth me unto him as one of his enemies. His troops come together and raise up their way against me, and encamp round about my tabernacle. He hath put my brethren far from me, and mine acquaintance are verily estranged from me.” You know what that is to the heart if you have ever tasted it. “My kinsfolk have failed, and my familiar friends” —he now gets closer— “have forgotten me. They that dwell in mine house, and my maids, count me for a stranger: I am an alien in their sight.” “I called my servant” —his man, as we call it, or in modern language, his valet — “and he gave me no answer” (vers. 1-20).
How pitiable! He had come down very low to call upon his dear friends to have pity, and they had nothing but bad suspicion which wounded him to the quick. “Why do ye persecute me as God, and are not satisfied with my flesh?” Have not I suffered enough to satisfy you? “Oh that my words were,” &c., not exactly, printed in a book—but that they were impressed upon stone, or what-ever might be the way in which writing was accomplished in those days. He refers to a very permanent form— “That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock forever! For I know that my Redeemer liveth; and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.” This is a most wonderful expression of faith, and the more so when we compare it with what we had last Wednesday evening in the 14th chapter—the resurrection of “man” —not the resurrection of “the righteous,” but the resurrection of man. Job, you remember, begins, “Man that is born of a woman” —not a word of anyone born of God. Man without God, man without Christ, and what is the end of all that? A tree cut down to the very root may sprout, but not man; and so long will that sleep be that man will not awake—and the resurrection of man will not be— “till the heavens be no more.”
Is that the case with the resurrection of the righteous? No. That is what he says here. He says, “I know that my Kinsman and Redeemer—the One that will avenge the wrongs of God's people on their enemies; the One that will care for them in the face of every difficulty and every enemy—I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter” —He “the last” is probably the meaning of it, not “at the latter day.” He is the One that when all has failed will appear. The First will be the Last, as it were, to take up not “man,” but the saint, the believer. “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter for, last] day” — as “last” is the word— “upon the earth.” This last word is a little stronger too. It is the “dust” — quite a different thing from the heavens being no more. There will be no dust to stand upon then. The heavens and the earth will all be dissolved, and it will be a question of fire destroying everything, as we are told in more scriptures than one, particularly by Peter. Everything will be dissolved—the very elements. There will be no dust at all. But here He will stand upon it; His power may reach it; and it may for aught I know refer to the dust of his people. He is going to raise them. But at any rate the word is rather vague; and we must not expect more than just a little gleam of light made known in those days. It is reserved for Christ to bring out the life of the resurrection.
“And though after my skin worms destroy this [body]” —i.e., after the skin is destroyed-meaning all the frame of the body. It is better to omit than supply the word “body.” “Yet in my flesh shall I see God.” That is, it will be a real resurrection—not indeed “flesh and blood” —but you recollect it was really Himself when Christ rose. He asked them to feel and know that there were flesh and bones, but not “flesh and blood,” which is the natural life of man now. When the resurrection comes there will be still the flesh in a glorious way, and there will be bone in a glorious way; and instead of it being blood as the source of life, it will be spirit; a divine character of existence will then be. While there is life, blood can be shed, and the man dies. The shedding of blood is the great figure of death by violence, and the blessed Lord knew all that, and passed through it all. But risen from the dead, the body possessed is a tangible body and can be felt; and although that need not always be, there is a power of change in this form; and I have no doubt the same thing will be true of every power. But there is the power. Now we are all limited; so limited that even a powerful man can be stopped by an oak board of only an inch, or two, thick. It stops him. And certainly a granite wall could stop anybody. But when that day is come we shall pass through everything just as our Lord did. Our Lord purposely came in when the doors were shut. You may tell me the stone was removed from the sepulcher; but it was not to let the Lord out; it was to let the disciples in to see that He was gone. What is all the thickness of the earth to Him? The glorified, body has a power of its own, and can pass through anything.
This is not the case with man now. He is very limited and feeble; a little thing stops or even kills him. But not so when the body is raised in power and incorruption and glory; and here then the Lord comes to claim, and stand upon, the dust as it were. That is the figure, of course, of dealing with the lower state. The body is destroyed; not merely the skin, but everything belonging to man in the natural state. But what then? “Yet in my flesh shall I see God?” Job was to be raised and live again, and to live in a glorious way, and in the way of power and incorruption. “Whom I shall see for myself.” Ah, he was not in the least afraid of the Lord. He loved to think of Him, and looked for His intervention with certainty. “And mine eyes shall behold, and not another.” What a contrast with Balaam! Balaam could not see except prophetically, but not for himself. He had no part nor lot. But Job, with every part and lot, knew it perfectly. “Though my reins be consumed within me.” That will not hinder it at all.
So then you see this was a resurrection of the righteous; it is before the heavens are no more. And though the earth subsists, it will, when it is in a state of ruin, give place to a complete change—not only one affecting the condition of the bodies of the millennial saints, but also the earth itself. All creation meanwhile awaits its deliverance from the bondage of corruption from which it now suffers. And Christ will accomplish it, for this will be His work. No one need wonder, therefore, that when that day comes, there will be righteous government on the earth. No one need wonder that then Satan will be allowed no power. He will be shut up, and not be allowed to deceive another moment until the end of the thousand years, and then it will be to act as a kind of sieve, to separate those that are not born of God from those that are. He will be allowed to do that, and then will be cast into the lake of fire forever. But the righteous will have been reigning for a thousand years before, while the earth still goes on. You see the great force of it there, and of the Lord coming upon that earth in a state as low as it can possibly be reduced to under the power of Satan, just before He comes and delivers it. Oh, may our hearts rest upon Him entirely, beloved brethren. Let us cleave to the Lord now; and let us remember that the Lord is served and magnified by simple faith day by day, having to do with Himself about each thing, and with implicit trust in Him, and judgment of ourselves. Amen. [W.K.]

Notes on Galatians 6

It has been said, and wisely too, that every truth has its countertruth. And I was thinking what our beloved brother said about dying with Christ, and wondered if it would give a false impression to some of our young ones here. As to our sins—the outcome of our evil nature—we can see how they have been dealt with in the cross. “He bare our sins in his own body on the tree.” As we sometimes sing—
“All thy sins were laid upon Him;
Jesus bore them on the tree:
God who knew all, laid them on Him,
And, believing, thou art free.”
So it is the Christian's privilege to have a purged conscience— “no more conscience of sins,” for the saint of God is privileged to know sin can never be imputed to him as guilt because of the blood of Christ.
As to our evil nature the word of God is clear, “we have died” (Romans 6:8). The word is plain, “They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Galatians 5:24). If He bare our sins in His own body on the tree, and they were all laid on Him, all they entailed has been borne.
But how about our nature? The young Christian is made to feel that he still has the flesh in him. Romans 8 shows us distinctly what God has done. “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son, in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (vers. 3, 4). Further, Romans 6 tells us, “In that he died, he died unto sin once, but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (vers. 10, 11). Thus was the question of our evil nature settled, and God puts into our hand a mighty privilege, because of what Christ experienced on the cross, even the privilege of reckoning ourselves dead indeed unto sin.
There is another thing. God has His own purposes and counsels, and they will all be effectuated. Nothing can come in to take Him by surprise, or frustrate His eternal purposes. Look at Isaiah 28:23-29. Even man treats everything according to its nature. Has not God got His own place? And when the mystery of God is finished, will it not be shown that all His plans, and all the way He carried them out, were perfect? His work as Creator was perfect. His work as Redeemer was perfect; and will not the work of the Holy Spirit also be found perfect?
This is exceedingly precious. In the New Testament we read of many precious things which God is doing in the saints, that ought to be exceedingly comforting to us. “The God of peace ... make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ” (Hebrews 13:21); and, again, Paul desires that God would “fulfill all the good pleasure of his will, and the work of faith with power, that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you” (2 Thessalonians 2). There is never any failure on God's side. He has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness. There are unbounded stores in Christ, but we fail in using them.
In Philippians 2:12, we read, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling: for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” And do you not think that all of us should realize that God works in us much more than we work out?
But there is the provision. His sympathy is living and real. His priesthood and advocacy on high are to strengthen us in our weakness and preserve us from sinning; and we come to the throne of grace, not simply to ask, but to obtain mercy, and find grace to help in every time of need. For how great are the hindrances here! What a snare the law was to the Galatians! It never helped them, or anyone else, in the matter of sanctification. It demanded, but never gave power to do. Yet how prone man is to turn to the law! What folly to make it a rule of life, instead of the blessed Christ of God!
“In Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation (Galatians 6:15). Have we right thoughts of this new creation? We pass out of the kingdom of Satan into the kingdom of the Son of His love, and we are a new creation in Christ. We have a new nature, and we are created unto good works. So it says, “as many as walk according to this rule.” What rule? That of the new creation-Christ. All distinctions disappear there. Christ is all, and in all. When He delivers up the kingdom at the end, God will be all in all. But now, in the new creation, Christ is all as an Object, and in all as Life.
In Romans 6 it is, “Sin shall not have dominion over you” —not “it shall not exist.” But in Galatians 5:15 those who turn to the law for justification and sanctification were biting and devouring one another. They got no help from the law. It is the Spirit who is the power. “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; so that ye may not do the things that ye would”, (ver. 17). The word translated “lust” is used in a bad, and in a good sense. It is the same word translated “desire” in Luke 22:15. If it is of the flesh, it is evil; if of the Spirit, it is good. There is a power in us stronger than the flesh. What a blessed privilege to have the Holy Spirit!
The Spirit belongs to those that are sons (Galatians 4:6). The law was only for servants, not for sons. We are children by birth; sons by adoption. We have life in the Spirit, have been quick-ened by Him, have sealing and anointing. Redemption comes first, then the Spirit. In the case of the leper (Leviticus 14:25, 28), as well as the priest (Leviticus 8:24, 30), the oil followed the blood which was placed on the ear, the thumb, the toe. The ear now belongs to God—it is our responsibility to listen. The hand belongs to God—it was in bondage once; now it is in liberty, to do His will. And our foot! once we walked as children of disobedience; now let us walk in the Spirit. He has given us His Spirit in order that we may do so. Let us live then “not to ourselves, but to Him that died for us and rose again.” We can all see what the standard is, and though we fail miserably, let it, nevertheless, be our constant aim. As Herbert says,
“Whoso aimeth at the sky
Shoots higher far than he who aims a tree.”
The Lord will soon be here! He will “descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel and the trump of God"! No wonder it is called a “blessed hope"! Whatever the joys of our hearts towards Him, they are nothing to the desires of His heart towards us.
He will take every one of His own, but there will be an interval before He is manifested in glory. Then shall we be manifested with Him. In the interval between His coming for His own and His appearing in glory and we with Him, will be our manifestation before the judgment seat of Christ above. Everything connected with our whole moral being, our life and ways from our birth will be manifested there. We shall be in our glorified bodies; and we shall acquiesce in everything, whether approval or disapproval, for we shall see and judge all our past according to God. But for that manifestation we should never know what God's wonderful salvation is. But the distinction between the flesh and the Spirit will be shown there. We get as a sample what is said about Sarah in 1 Peter 3:6. She called Abraham lord, and the Holy Spirit marks His approval of it. But she did so at a time when she was acting very wrongly—Genesis 18:12. Thus we see how the precious is divided from the vile by the Spirit.
Revelation 19:7 could not possibly occur except as the outcome of our being manifested before the judgment seat. “His wife hath made herself ready.” You get past, present, and future in Ephesians 5:25-27, which may be connected here. What did He do to get her? He went to the cross. The wrath was exhausted there, but the love remains unchanged. And so He washes, sanctifies, cleanses to the end He has in view—i.e., to present her to Himself a church glorious! Oh, what a joy He has got in store! And here, in Revelation 19, is the display. “To her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white, for the fine linen is the righteousnesses of the saints.”
If it was what we were in nature, we may well adopt the language of Isaiah 64, “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags"! “But thou hast wrought all our righteousness for us.”
You will have contributed your part, and mine; and all put together will be the proof that the work of the Holy Spirit was perfect. Thus will be found that wonderful marriage garment, and the world will “know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me” when He comes to be wondered at in all them that believed.

All Things Ready in the Gospel and in Worship: Part 2

Surely we might say, if every church and chapel of the kingdom were closed, and all the ministers of the gospel shut up in prison, that true-heartedness to Jesus would lead His saints to assemble themselves together to worship, by faith, in the holiest of all-knowing that there the ministry of the Great High Priest can never for a moment be suspended. Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.
As to this expression “full assurance of faith,” it by no means conveys the idea of a certain standard measure of faith as a matter of attainment. The reference is not to the measure of faith, but to its bearing on the right object. The faith may be the weakest possible, but let that, weak as it is, be in full bearing on its own proper object.
We have another form of the same word in the New Testament. It is said of Abraham, “he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith giving glory to God, and being fully persuaded that what he had promised he was able also to perform.” So again— “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” The moment the soul has laid hold on Jesus it is delivered from itself, and ought to be fully persuaded that all it needs is presented to it in the object before it—even Jesus. It is this single eye to Jesus which we need in worship. The very things which man in his wisdom has thought to be helps to devotion are really its hindrances. Which of the senses do not men seek to gratify in the circumstantials of worship? Now the very object of the apostle here is to turn away the worshipper from the things of sight and sense, to which he had been accustomed, in order to concentrate his soul on one single object in which he was to find everything he needed.
We can never look at our title to worship God but we see our salvation. How blessedly has God linked these things together, and how perversely does man rend them asunder, either by calling on all to worship, believers and unbelievers, or by binding believers to a form which negatives the sense of complete justification. What we need in order to happier and holier worship is more simple faith in Jesus. Are we fully persuaded that Jesus has done all that is needed to make an acceptable meeting-place between ourselves and God?-then let us draw near.
And what holy freedom and liberty attends this— “having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience.” The leper to be cleansed, in order to restore him to the privilege of worship, needed to be sprinkled with blood (Leviticus 14:7). The Israelite who had touched anything which made him unclean, needed to have the water of purification sprinkled on him, but it only sanctified to the purifying of the flesh (Hebrews 9:13). The priests at the consecration had the blood applied to them that they might so draw near and minister before God. But what is all this compared with a heart sprinkled from an evil conscience by the blood of Jesus? It is no longer a purifying of the flesh, but a purifying of the heart by faith. The flesh purified for worship might co-exist with an evil conscience, but a sprinkled heart never could. How entirely is a good conscience alone maintained by that which is not of sight, even by the purging power of the blood of Jesus.
Before Aaron could put on the holy linen coat he must wash his flesh in water (Leviticus 16:4), and so it is now— “Our bodies washed with pure water.” We cannot put on our white robe unless we know what communion with the death of Jesus really is. How needful for us in our approach to our place of worship, even the holiest of all, habitually to remember that we have died, and that we are alive in Christ. We have to do with the living God—and He too a consuming fire. All that is contrary to life has been set aside by the death of Jesus. “Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” And it is as alive from the dead that we alone can approach Him.
“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering.” It is literally “of our hope,” not faith, and has reference to the sixth chapter— “that we might have strong consolation who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us, which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil.” Our hope is that we shall be there actually, the holiest of all being our own proper place as priests unto God: but by faith we now worship there in spirit.
But it is hard indeed to maintain a profession contradicted, so far as sight goes, by everything in us and around us. Jesus witnessed the good confession, before Pontius Pilate, that He was a king—without any mark of royalty about Him. His confession seemed contradicted by His appearance. Timothy had confessed a good confession before many witnesses (1 Timothy 6:12), and he needed to be reminded of it. And so do we. For how constantly do we forget that we are what we are in hope. We could not give satisfactory proof to another that we are what we confess to be. We can indeed give the soundest reason of the hope that is in us, because the forerunner is for us already entered within the veil; but we cannot satisfy the restlessness of our minds, or the mind of others, by evidence. No—blessed be God, He has provided for our hope on surer ground than any evidences we could produce, even on the ground of His own immutability and faithfulness—for He is faithful that hath promised.
The word is of great force, “let us hold fast,” —let us tenaciously grasp. And why? Because our hope is that which Satan would try by all means to wrest from us. And has he not effectually done this in the church at large by making that their hope which is, in fact, the ground of their hope—even their justification. Present righteousness is the ground of Christian hope. The holiest of all is alone open to those who have been once and forever purged. If our hope springs not from that within the veil, where is our steadfast-ness? Everything short of that may be shaken-and will be shaken. If, therefore, we know not accomplished righteousness, fitting us now for the holiest of all, the peace of our souls must be un-steady. An Israelite might approach the door of the tabernacle with a sacrifice to be offered, but that sacrifice had yet to be pronounced acceptable and to be accepted; but it was on the ground of an already offered and accepted sacrifice, that the holiest of all was entered by the high priest. Thus it is with our title to enter within the veil—the one offering of Jesus has forever given us liberty to enter there. How amazing is the craft of Satan in his devices against the truth! When he could no longer keep out of sight the doctrine of justification by faith, he has contrived to rob it of its real power, even where received, by having practically put it as the object of hope instead of the present possession of all who have come to Jesus. The peace of the gospel is thus practically un-known, although the gospel itself is truly stated. And this hope of justification by faith always opens the door for distant worship. In how many real believers is the peace of the gospel hindered by their very acts of worship.
Let us therefore, beloved brethren, grasp and maintain this confession as our best treasure-Having present righteousness by faith, our hope is nothing short of the holiest of all; and there we worship in spirit now. Our hope is independent of ourselves—it hangs on the immutable faithfulness of God it is secured by the blood of Jesus, and it is already made fast within the veil, for Jesus is there, and there for us. Beware of mock humility, which is only the cover of unbelief and self-dependence. Look at yourselves and you are hopeless; yea, nothing is before you but a fearful looking for of judgment. Look at Jesus and know your hope, for where is He? In the holiest of all as the forerunner. Let this check all wavering, and answer every doubt and every difficulty. In spite of all appearances hold fast the profession of the hope without wavering.
“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.” Here we are reminded that we have also to perform our priestly work. The priest had to consider, in cases of leprosy—and so, as priests, we have to consider one another, not whether we are cleansed or not, for it has been authoritatively pronounced of us by the Great High Priest Himself, “now ye are clean,” —but we are to consider one another to provoke unto love and good works. The expression is remarkable— “consider one another.” There is but one, even the Lord Himself, who stands in the authoritative place of the Priest to the church, therefore we are to consider one another. How entirely is this exercise of our common priestly function nullified by again setting up an order of priesthood to prescribe to us. What is the Confessional? what the Absolution? —but the priest again pronouncing the leper clean! And how effectually does such a thought hinder our considering one another. We can only do this as standing in grace ourselves and recognizing others as standing in the same grace and the same nearness to God. It is as together standing in the holiest of all that we are to consider one another. There we are thus to help each other to detect what is inconsistent with that our high and blessed standing. There is no room for rivalry now—all are priests; but abundant room for love; and our love for each other is to be measured by the love that has brought us where we stand. And as to good works, they also are to be judged by the same standard. No lower standard than the sanctuary itself must now be taken to determine what are good works. What becomes the holiest itself alone becomes those sanctified to worship therein. It is not what men call good works, but what God estimates as such, to which we have to provoke one another. The costly ointment poured on the feet of Jesus, wasteful and extravagant in the eyes of an ancient or modern utilitarian, was a good work in the eyes of Jesus. The two mites of the widow more costly than the splendid offering of the rich. How little of what men think good is really so before God! and how entirely what God esteems as-precious is despised among men! Hence Christ was despised and rejected of men; and hence really Christian works are now despised of them. How needful, then, is it for us to be in spirit in the holiest of all, to prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God!
But not only is there to be this constant provocation to love and to good works, it is also added, “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is.”
When Israel came into the land, they were not to offer their sacrifices, or to worship, at any place they might select, but at the place where the Lord should put His name only. Jerusalem was the place whither the tribes went up. Put yourself in the position of a believing Hebrew on a solemn feast day in Jerusalem one of the three thousand converted by the first sermon of Peter. Multitudes from all quarters might be assembled around him—Jerusalem filled with worshippers—while he would be apart from all that which attracted them. But would not his soul have many a struggle in keeping away from the festive and religious throng? Would he not have almost appeared an enemy to his country and to the temple? But was it really so? Think, further, of the contrast he must in his own soul have seen between the upper chamber or any other unpretending locality, and the splendid temple. Must it not have needed much simple faith in Jesus, to meet together to break bread and worship with a number as unaccredited as himself, without any visible priest to order their worship, any sacrifice, any incense, any altar, any laver? Would not the multitude keeping holy-day give, as it were, the lie to the worship he had been engaged in, as if it had been no worship at all? Surely there is great force in the words, “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is.”
Yes, some drew back from acknowledging that as worship which was without the outward form-some even who believed in Jesus. It cost too much to own Jesus as everything by disowning all the shadows. The assembling of themselves together thus was the great testimony against the religion of the world, and that Jesus was all. It was the profession that He was the substance of worship, and that worship must now be according to the place and power of His priesthood. The despised company in the upper chamber were feeding on the substance, while the religious world, in their gorgeous temple, were bowing before the shadows. That despised company had by faith access into the holiest of all—they knew that Jesus, as the forerunner, had entered there for them; and in this knowledge of Him, they could meet at any time and at any place, for the name of the Lord was recorded in the place of their meeting. They were worshippers in the sanctuary, let the scene of their gathering on earth be where it may.
Hence we find that “on the first day of the week the disciples came together to break bread” (Acts 20:7). They might or might not have some one to minister the word unto them-that was accidental; their coming together was for a positive and specific object. Paul came in among them and preached, but that was by the way. They came together as disciples. And if man puts a hindrance in the way of disciples coming together, is it not treading underfoot the Son of God, who has not only given them the liberty, but who has made their doing so the point of collective confession of His name? There is need of our exhorting one another as to this, for the danger is imminent of turning back to the old order. And the Spirit of God clearly saw the tendency of things that way, and that this would increase. That as the day approached when the Lord Jesus would be revealed, worship would become more and more worldly—more and more after the ancient distant Jewish pattern. Hence the exhortation would in the progress of things be increasingly needed, to stand fast as disciples in the simplicity of grace. Nothing can be more gracious than the provision which the Lord has made against the increasing evil.
Just in proportion as the thought in the minds of Christians has prevailed of a progression unto blessing in the world, has worship adapted itself to the world. But when it has pleased God to open the eyes of His saints to see the steady progress in evil, and the great assumptions of the flesh, He has thrown them back more on Christian simplicity. And our exhortation the one to the other as we see the day approaching, is to test everything by the light of that day, and to see that nothing will then really stand which is not of Christ. Surely the Lord intends to make His saints sensible of all that they have lost; but in doing so to make them as sensible of the value of what remains. If He had to say to His people of old, “Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?” —this was not said to enfeeble but to strengthen them. All the outward glory was gone, but still the Lord was there. And therefore it is said, “Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, and work; for I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts, according to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my Spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not.” God remained unchangeably the same, and His original power in deliverance was real strength in the midst of weakness; so that out of weakness they became strong.
And this is God's provision for the comfort and strength of the saints, as they see the day approaching, and everything unprepared to meet it, to ex-hort one another to the use of what remains unto them; and whilst Jesus abideth in the holiest of all, and now appears in the presence of God for them, they can always draw near. Yes, it is our privilege to do so, now that the dispensation has well nigh run its course, equally as much as in the apostle's days. Men indeed have, by their perverseness, put many things between themselves and God, but that which giveth nearness still remaineth, even the blood of Jesus. Let us then draw near.
Beloved, how much is this exhortation needed at this day! Simple worship, although our high privilege, is despised. Believers need something more than the presence of the Lord to induce them to come together! Jesus is not really to them the great substantial ordinance of God. They are not glad when they assemble themselves together. Let us not forsake this, for if we do we are in danger of forgetting that we are once and forever purged worshippers, and that our place of worship is the golden sanctuary itself, also once and forever purged (Hebrews 10:2, 14). There we have such an High Priest, one who can bring us in at once to the throne of the majesty on high, to us a throne of grace, although He who sits thereon is Holy, Holy, Holy.
Beloved, it is your place of confession to contradict all assumptions of priesthood, all repetition of sacrifice, and all repeated absolutions, by drawing near. Your worship is to be characterized no less by confident nearness to God than by reverence to His name. The day is approaching. Its approach is marked by a return to ordinances. Hold fast your profession, and let it be Jesus against every pretension. For be assured that whatever is not of Him is nothing better than a carnal ordinance, to be utterly disowned by the Lord when He appears.
If we look forward as to worship, what do we see there? All the shadows passed away and only the substance presented. “I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.” So again—the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and His servants shall serve Him (worship Him), and they shall see His face; and His name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign forever and ever. They shall serve and they shall reign at the same time. They shall then be manifestly priests and kings. But now in the knowledge that grace has already made them so, it is their privilege to approach by faith that glorious place in which they will in due tirne actually stand. Our best instruction is gathered by looking forward. It is the reality which is to be our pattern now. Not things on earth the patterns of the heavenly, but the substance known by faith stamping its impress on that which is present. Let us draw near “unto Him that loveth us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and made us kings and priests unto God and His Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
(Continued from page 80)

All Things Richly to Enjoy

I Timothy 6:17. “He hath given us all things richly to enjoy.” In a day of ruin, but not of poverty—for “thou art rich” —we have to do with a bountiful Giver, One who is faithful and unchanging. Are we enjoying all things richly? We ought to be able to enter more than we ever did into His bounty, into the infinity of His re-sources. His love and care have never wearied, He holds not back that which is good for us. We ought not to hide our heads in the sand, and refuse to face things, but we ought to face them with God. Timothy was told, “Be thou strong.”
We are here to do His will. We are not to think of ourselves as a testimony! unless of ruin, perhaps. But we should be rejoicing. In what? In the Lord. Has He changed? is He not the same? Let us humble ourselves about the state of things within and around. If He gives, He gives richly with no niggardly hand, and it is for our soul's enjoyment. Do we then, take advantage of all His gifts which He has given for enjoyment?
If we are doing His will we shall not be ashamed before Him at His coming, and this is what we are here for—-to please Him in everything. For this, we need to abide in Him. Is the Lord Jesus Christ our home? Do we dwell there? Is Himself the circle of our affections? Is whatever concerns Him that which concerns us? Are His interests ours indeed? Do we delight ourselves in all that delights Him, and are we grieved by whatever is a grief to Him? He is our life, and for me to live should be Christ. The joy the Lord is then indeed our strength.


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Lectures on Job 20-23

Chap. 20. Job was not a wicked man. There was the great error of Zophar—of this hasty and violent man; for evidently this was particularly his character. He was not so much looking at the long experience of Eliphaz. That was his point—long experience. A valuable thing, but still it may not be the mind of God. It may be right, or it may be wrong; and it was wrong in this case, because Job's trial was altogether peculiar. God had not dealt with any other man in the remarkable way in which Job was tried, and that is the reason why we have a whole book about him—because he was tried so specially. No one save the Lord Jesus was ever tried like Job. The trials of our Lord were far more profound; but in Him there was nothing but perfection, and why? Because, to begin with, there was no sin in Him; there was in Job, and job did not think about the sin that was in him. Job had no idea of what the New Testament calls “the old man.” He bad turned from Satan and frorn his sins to God; he was a real, true, saint of God. But he had no notion, nor, indeed, had anyone among the Old Testament saints, any definite conception of what our evil nature is. That was a truth that came out after Christ came. It was Christ that made everything clear, and till Christ came things were not plain. There was quite enough light to guide; and for that matter all the three friends were pious men, and Job particularly was; but for all that, Job had to learn that there was that in him which was proud of the effects of faith in his soul. Job had too good an opinion of himself.
This is not a very uncommon thing with a Christian even. I think I know a good many who are not disposed to think very lowlily of themselves; but I am quite sure (and I have nothing to boast of myself) I desire to feel thoroughly what I am). Yet I admit we are very often apt to forget it. There was no question of Job's end, no question but that God would receive him, and had already received him in spirit; and therefore there was no fear of death in Job; he looked at it and desired it even; but that would spoil the great lesson. God would allow him to be tried thoroughly, but would not allow Satan so to torment him as to end his life—that would frustrate the lesson he had to learn by agony of suffering and suspicion of his own friends—his dearest friends, those who had most respected him. They all gave him up, and thought there was something very bad behind it—there could not be so much smoke without fire.
That is exactly what people say nowadays when they see anything particular. The eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell must be the worst people in Jerusalem! “Not at all,” said the Lord. God has his own wonderful ways of which we know nothing; but “Except ye repent ye shall all like-wise perish” —by a worse perishing than the fall of a tower upon you. We find how a man was kept—not faultless, far from it—but entirely free from all the hidden evil that was imputed to him because of his terrible suffering, which entirely alienated, therefore, the sympathy of his friends; and instead of getting one grain of sympathy he got a good many tons of scorn, and their suspicion that things were very wrong in him.
This is what entered into all their speeches. And they get worse and worse for a while, and particularly this one. This is the last of Zophar's; he poured it out so strongly, that, somehow or other, he was afraid to come forward again. We find that Eliphaz and Bildad do follow, and Job disposes of them all. They were completely taken aback by Job's reasoning, and the reason is that there was a truthfulness about Job that was not in them, although a good deal remained for Job to learn. Therefore, in comes Elihu, a new personage in the matter, and after that Jehovah himself. These are facts. This is not an imaginary tale. There was a real person called Job who went through all this trial; and there were these three friends; and there was Elihu too; and, further, Jehovah made His presence and His mind known, and settled the case—brought Job out of all his troubles, and at Job's intercession pardoned the other three for all their bad and groundless ill feeling against Job.
Well now, here Zophar comes forward. “Therefore do my thoughts cause me to answer, and for this I make haste.” Yes, and that is just where haste generally lands us. It is easy for those who are not in trouble to speak, and to suspect evil of a man that is in the depths. And that is just what this young man—for he was younger than the others—fell into. “Knowest thou not this of old, since man was placed upon earth” —are you the only man that knows the mind of God? — “that the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment?” Is that all that Zophar had ever learned? Did he know of no dealings of God for the trial and good of His children here below? Had he no thought of God disciplining us? —even before His proper Fatherly relationship was fully made known and conferred upon us. For now we are brought into that very place of privilege—we are children of God. The Old Testament saints were so, but they did not know it. They were saints of God, and they know very well they were separated to God, and that they were not like the men of the world. They knew that perfectly, and they were waiting for One who would settle all questions and make known all things. Even the woman of Samaria knew that. “When Messias cometh, He will tell us all things.” He would clear up all difficulties.
But Zophar had no difficulty at all. That is generally the case with people who know very little; they fancy they know everything. Zophar, therefore, keeps up this—that there is the great fact, there is a righteous God above, and there are un-righteous, wicked people below, and God invariably deals with these wicked people now. That was not true. A large part of the world has always been allowed of God to apparently prosper in their evil, and the reason is that the time of judgment is not yet come. There may be judgments; there may be exceptional dealings with the wicked just as Job's case was a very exceptional dealing in the severity of his trial, and in the manner in which Satan was challenged by God to do his very worst; and God was secretly keeping up Job even when he was finding fault with God and thinking He was very hard upon him to allow all this. But he was kept up not only for his own good, but for ours. Now we have the Book, and are meant to profit by it for ourselves and for other people. “Though his excellency mount up to the heavens, and his head reach unto the clouds; yet he shall perish forever like his own dung; they which have seen him shall say, where is he?”
Zophar was not at all wanting in power of expression He was what you call an “eloquent” man; in fact, they were all eloquent. They all pleaded their cause with ability—only there was short-sightedness. They had not before them this: that it was out of the goodness of God, and for the blessing of Job himself, that God made Job to recognize his nothingness, and also the evil that was within, which he had never detected to be, as it is, a sin against God, i.e., thinking too well of himself, taking credit for what grace had wrought. For I do not deny that grace had done a good deal for Job. Grace had wrought a fine character, full of benevolence and rectitude of purpose. Yes, but why did Job dwell upon it, and think so much about it? Why did Job think so much more highly of himself than others? All these things were working in Job's mind, and they must all be brought out. That was a great lesson for Job to learn, and it came out at the very severe cost of Job's trial and suffering. “He shall fly away as a dream, and shall not be found.” That was true of some cases; but where were the eyes, where the discernment of Zophar? and this was all that he saw going on in the world! It was a very narrow way of looking at the dealings of God. “The eye also which saw him shall see him no more; neither shall his place any more behold him. His children shall seek to please the poor” —he supposes that God would still keep up the family, and would deal with his children—that they would have to restore some of the ill-gotten goods that their father had acquired.
All this was pointed at poor Job, but not a particle of it was real. It was nothing but evil surmises. So, he describes his case in very strong terms, which I need not follow—all his inward trouble, and the being forced to give up what he had swallowed down. “He shall not see the rivers, the floods, the brooks of honey and butter.” That is, Zophar recognized that God delights in doing good. Yes, He does; and not merely to the righteous, but to the unthankful and evil. Is it that He has any complacency in them? Quite the contrary, but out of His own goodness, as our Lord put it so simply and so grandly, He causes His sun to shine upon the evil as well as upon the good, and He sends His rain upon the just as well as upon the unjust. Well, before all I say now, he is a most wicked man, the greatest enemy of God alive on the earth, who profits by all these benefits, and never thinks of God at all. There he is, so utterly insensible—more insensible possibly than the brute. There is less gratitude than with even the poor irrational brute who owes his master's kindness and care. This is indeed, an awful thing in a man. You might find men of the greatest education and of the highest ability, who are like a stock or a stone before the goodness of God. That you have now. The New Testament has come in and made it all plain. One word accounts for everything—unbelief.
The beginning of God's goodness in a man is when he comes to the sense of his badness, and that is produced by faith. It is by what God sends. God's word is the foundation and the means by which a man is brought out of darkness into light, and out of death into life eternal. And why? Because the word of God reveals Christ. And the believer receives Christ on God's testimony. Now the great mass of men in our country are rushing either into infidelity or superstition. These are both of them making more progress than the truth, at this present moment. God no doubt converts souls too; but if there are a few souls truly converted, how many go back? and sometimes out of the very families of those that love the Lord! So it has been for hundreds of years. So it was at the beginning; so it is now. Some believe the words that are spoken, and some do not believe them. And as some enter now into endless and eternal blessing, so others will fall into absolute and everlasting ruin.
Here then, we see the all-importance of our getting the mind of God. Neither experience will do, nor tradition. Bildad was as fond of tradition as Eliphaz was of experience; but Zophar, I fancy, was pretty much confident in himself. And this self-confidence is what makes a man still more biased than either the weakness of thinking too much of the wisdom of old age, or of the tradition of the elders before us. No, God will have His own word; and God is honored by our receiving His own word and applying His word, not to other people merely, but, above all, to oneself. Everything issues from this, “I believe.” That is exactly where all human knowledge fails. Human knowledge—science for instance—is entirely founded upon the facts that are before our eyes, or the facts that we gather even if they are invisible to our eyes, that are ascertained through whatever means, sometimes by the microscope, sometimes by the telescope—but however it may be, it is all founded upon what is before man's eyes and before man's mind.
Now the blessing of God is entirely founded upon divine testimony. You honor God by believing God against yourself; by believing God against your sins; by believing God, receiving His testimony about His own Son. But God has love enough in His heart to lay all our case at all costs upon the Lord Jesus; and He has perfectly met all the mind of God about it. That is Christianity now; and this, of course, in Job's days, was yet to be. There was just enough light—a little distant gleam as it were—a rift in the cloud that showed the Messiah that was to come, but that was all. There was a little increase of light in the Psalms, and still more in the Prophets; but the full light was never there till He Himself came. Then it was not merely a gleam; it was not merely a promise; it was Himself. It was the Son of God, and eternal life in the Son of God to be given to everyone who believes in Him. By that I do not mean a mere nominal assent. No, beloved friends, it is always through our conscience that we are brought into the truth. There is no divine link with God unless it be the conscience that acknowledges our sinfulness, and, therefore, casts oneself in faith upon the Lord Jesus.
Well, now, we do not find anything of this in Zophar; it is all looking simply at judging wicked men. The judging of a righteous man never entered his mind, and that was the real question. So he puts to Job the awfulness of what will come to pass upon the man that goes on in his wickedness, and does not allow it, but only is clever in hiding it. And really he had got that in his head about Job, and never could get it out until God brought down everyone of them into the dust, and they were indebted to Job for escaping the severe chastening of God. He finishes, “This is the portion of a wicked man from God, and the heritage appointed unto him by God.” Here is not the slightest sense of God having chastening dealings with those that He loves during this time of pilgrimage. Yet this is exactly what God does. This is what He is carrying on today with you and me. The apostle Peter refers to it particularly in the first chapter of his First Epistle, i.e., that after we are born of God we become subjects of the dealings of God as Father. We are judged every man according to his work now. He will not do that by and bye; the future judgment is entirely in the hands of Christ; and it is particularly said that the Father has committed it all to the Son; and it is as the Son, and as the glorified Man too that the Lord will sit upon the Great White Throne, where all the evil of all the unrighteous will be judged finally.
That is the last thing before the new heavens and the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness. The Father has nothing to do with that; but the Father has everything to do with watching over our faults, with pruning the vine, every branch of the vine, and this is what goes on now. It is the Father who is the husbandman, and He prunes that we may bear more fruit; and if there is no fruit at all, He takes it away.
Job now answers in the twenty-first chapter. “Hear diligently my speech.” It was a great relief to the tried man to speak out. He had entirely failed to win their sympathy, but still Job preferred to speak plainly out, and had no difficulty in meeting anything they had to say. “And let this be your consolation. Suffer me that I may speak; and after that I have spoken, mock on.” It was severe, but still it was not more than they deserved. “As for me, is my complaint to man?” In the midst of all this he has the deep sense of having to do with God, and that is true piety. “And if it were so, why should not my spirit be troubled?” i.e., I do not understand it; that is the thing that makes it so terrible. “Mark me, and be astonished, and lay your hand upon your mouth. Even when I remember I am afraid, and trembling taketh hold on my flesh.” And what was it that made him so afraid? Why, he too saw just the very opposite of what Zophar only saw.
Zophar confined himself simply to the particular cases of God's dealing judicially with some specially wicked men. And there are such cases every now and then. A man calls God's name in vain, and swears to a downright falsehood—perhaps theft, or any other breach—and, occasionally, a man drops down dead after it. Well, that is a very unusual thing. Other people swear to it and keep their money, and try to keep their character, but all the while they are heaping up wrath against the day of wrath. Now what made Job tremble so when he saw wickedness prosper? As he says here, “Wherefore do the wicked live?” He says—I can understand it so far; I can perfectly understand God casting down wicked men—it is only what they deserve; but it is not the fact, for the great mass of them seem to flourish in their wickedness for the time. “Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, yea, are mighty in power? Their seed is established in their sight with them.” It was not at all passing away like a dream (as Zophar pretended) as a general rule; it was rather the other way. “Their houses are safe from fear.” Many a pious man's house is broken into by a robber; many a pious man's house is burnt over his head; and here there might be wicked men of the worst character, and they do not come into these troubles at all!
But there is the awful end that awaits them, the awakening up like the rich man Dives, “in hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torments.” Ah! that was a solemn thing, but it was the Lord that gave us that picture. Nobody could speak positively of that till the Lord came. And that is not describing what will be after the resurrection; this is what takes place directly after death. And it was not a wicked man as he appeared in the eyes of the Jews; it was not a man who was a drunkard or a thief, or a robber, or anything of that kind. He was a man highly respected; he was a man characterized by self-indulgence. We do not hear of any swearing; we do not hear of any scoffing. There he was; he acknowledged father Abraham even in the midst of his torments; and the Lord is the One that describes it. Dives is anxious about the souls of his five brethren; he was anxious about them. That is to say, he was a man whom people might consider of high respectability, but there was no faith, no repentance, no looking to God, no waiting for the Messiah. He was quite content to enjoy all his wealth; and, as for poor Lazarus, the dogs might look after him for all he cared about him.
“Their houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of God upon them.” Ah! but it will be. “Their bull gendereth, and faileth not; their cow calveth, and casteth not her calf.” Everything went flourishing. “They send forth their little ones like a flock, and their children dance” —everything prosperous and smiling— “They take the timbrel and harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ.” It is rather serious to find all that with such bad company—a solemn check for those that are given up. “They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the grave. Therefore, they say unto God, Depart from us.” Job's words are far more solemn and more true than the violent Zophar had painted. “For we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. What is the Almighty, that we should serve Him? and what profit should we have if we pray unto Him” It is not meant that they say that to man, but that is what their conduct says to God.
Therefore there is great force in what we read: “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.” Perhaps he never uttered that once in his life, “There is no God,” but it is what his heart says. God reads the language of the heart. And the evil servant says in his heart, “My lord delayeth his coming.” Perhaps he preached what people call the “Second Coming"; he may have preached it, but that is what his heart said. He was not really waiting for Christ at all; he was glad that Christ stayed away. There never was such a prayer with him as “Come, Lord Jesus.” So that it is a very solemn thing—the way in which the Lord takes the crafty and reads the heart; and therefore, it is of all importance that we should judge ourselves, and look to the Lord, that we may have Christ Himself before our souls so habitually that we are filled by His mind and directed by His love, and led by the Holy Spirit who gives the needed power and grace to those that look to Christ.
“Lo, their good is not in their hand; the counsel of the wicked is far from me.” Job was farther from these people than his three friends. It is very possible that these three friends liked to be on good terms with people that were so flourishing, for that is a very common snare. People like to be in what they call “good company,” and to be respected by people that are respectable in this life; but where is Christ in all that? Our hearts are called to be with that which Christ values, and with those whom Christ loves. I do not say we are not to have the love of compassion for the very worst of mankind—surely, surely; but this is a different kind of love altogether. It is loving the family of God. This is higher than loving an unconverted wife; higher than loving our children if they are not brought to God. The family of God are nearer to us, and for all eternity, and we are glad to walk in that faith and love now. “How oft is the candle of the wicked put out!” There he allows the other side that they were all harping upon; they only looked at that. “And how oft cometh their destruction upon them!” There were such cases; he had seen and known them, and in no way disputed them.
You see, what Zophar and the others press, was only a half a truth. Now half a truth never sanctifies. What you leave out is perhaps of equal, or, it may be, of still greater importance, and there was just the difference. With all his defect, Job really was cleaving to the truth, and he looked at it with a larger heart and with a more exercised conscience. There are people moralized, or what you call “sermonized"; but this did not come from their souls; it was merely their correct talk according to the thoughts of men. It was not the language really of faith at all. Job's was, in spite of all its defects. “They are as stubble before the wind, and as chaff that the storm carrieth away. God layeth up his iniquity for his children; he rewardeth him, and he shall know it. His eyes shall see his destruction” —he allowed it might run in the family— “and he shall drink of the wrath of the Almighty.” “For what pleasure hath he in his house after him, when the number of his months is cut off in the midst?” i.e., selfishness is at the bottom of all these wicked men that flourish in this world. And even their children are in no way an object to be compared with the number of their own months. That is what they want—to live as long as possible.
“Shall any teach God knowledge?” —now he turns to Him to vindicate him— “seeing he judgeth those that are high. One dieth” —you see he took in the two sides. This very man had spoken of truth being double; but it was all mere: talk; it was not put into practice at all. It was a wise saw; it was merely an apophthegm, without being the true expression of his feeling and life. But Job had a reality about him. “Another dieth in the bitterness of his soul, and never eateth with pleasure. They shall lie down alike in the dust” —and the careless world goes to their funeral, and thinks they are both all right, that it is all right with them both. That is what is called “judging with charity” —charitable judgment! They hope that everybody goes to heaven, unless they are too bad—openly wicked! Now what is the judgment according to God? That if One died for all, then all were dead. That is the state of man. There is no question at all of their state or their end there. And He died for all—all mankind. They are all inexcusable. And the death of Christ makes them in a worse state if they do not believe than if Christ had never come and never died. He died for all, that they which live—ah! there is the difference—they which live—should not any longer live to themselves. That is what they all did. The dead—the spiritually dead—live to nothing but themselves. It might be honor; it might be seeking the applause of mankind and the world; but they live to themselves, not to Him.
But the Christian, the believer, lives to Him who died for us and rose again. That is not said to be for all. The resurrection of the Lord is the pledge that He will be by and bye the Judge of those that do not believe. The resurrection to the believer is the sign-witness on God's part that his sins are all blotted out. For the One that became responsible for his sins went down into the grave, and God has raised Him up to show us that our sins are gone. It was for all that believe, and for none others. And what for the others? The risen Man is the One that will judge all. That is what the apostle declared to the Athenians. They were not believers, and therefore he does not speak of any being justified; but he tells them that the resurrection of the Lord is the proof and pledge which God has given that He is going to judge all the habitable world by that Man whom He has raised from the dead. What makes it so solemn is that it was man that put Him in the grave; it was man that slew Him. It was God that raised Him up. And that risen Man will judge them, all that are found alive—all the habitable world. It is not here the White Throne judgment; it is the Lord judging the habitable world when He comes again in the clouds of heaven. He does not speak here about taking up all that are Christ's, but of His coming down in judgment upon all that are not Christ's.
“Behold, I know your thoughts, and the devices which ye wrongfully imagine against me.” Here you see he is now returning to their fault through this narrowness of their view, and the impropriety of allowing people to surmise evil without the slightest ground in fact for it. No, we are called upon to live what we know; we are called upon to speak when we do know; but where we do not know we look to God. “For ye say, Where is the house of the prince? and where are the dwelling places of the wicked? Have ye not asked them that go by the way? and do ye not know their tokens, that the wicked is reserved to the day of destruction?” That is the reason why they flourish now. He laid hold of the great truth morally in a very admirable manner. “They shall be brought forth to the day of wrath.” Not a question of now! These friends were all looking at the present time as the adequate proof of what God thought about men—that if He thinks we are all walking well we are flourishing, and if we come into trouble it is because we are bad people. That was their theory, an utterly wrong and corrupt theory. “Who shall declare his way to his face? and who shall repay him what he hath done? Yet shall he be brought to the grave, and shall remain in the tomb. The clods of the valley shall be sweet unto him” —looking at the outward appearance— “and every man shall draw after him, as there are innumerable before him. How then comfort ye me in vain, seeing in your answers there remaineth falsehood?”
Well now, we begin again with Eliphaz (chap. 22.). Eliphaz takes it up, and he says, “Can a man be profitable unto God, as he that is wise may be profitable unto himself?” Yes, Eliphaz, but cannot a man please God? It is not for profit that a pious man submits to God, and obeys the word of God, but it is to please Him, and why? Because He loves Him. That is not working for profit. That is a way in which a Jew did afterwards. “Is it any pleasure to the Almighty that thou art righteous?” Yes, it was. He was quite wrong about it. God was pleased with Job—that very man that they were so insidious against, and against whom they insinuated all kinds of evil. God pointed out, as you remember, at the beginning of the Book, that there was not a man on earth that was all round like His servant Job; and yet there was something there that God meant to bring out, of which Job had no idea, i.e., that he never recognized that it was wrong. “Will he reprove thee for fear of thee? Will he enter with thee into judgment? Is not thy wickedness great? and thine iniquities infinite? For thou hast taken a pledge from thy brother for naught” —now come all his evil surmisings once more— “and stripped the naked of their clothing. Thou hast not given water to the weary to drink.”
Eliphaz is just imagining what he thinks Job must have done to account for the troubles that he was passing through. “But as for the mighty man, he had the earth” —Job was the mighty man— “and the honorable man dwelt in it. Thou hast sent widows away empty, and the arms of the fatherless have been broken. Therefore snares are round about thee.” You see all the reasoning is quite mistaken. “And sudden fear troubleth thee; or darkness, that thou canst not see; and the abundance of waters cover thee, Is not God in the height of heaven? and behold the height of the stars, how high they are! And thou sayest, How doth God know?” That was not what Job said at all, but quite the reverse. “Can he judge through the dark cloud?” Well, un-doubtedly he was not a scoffer. Nothing of the sort. He was a pious, narrow-minded man; and there are plenty of such individuals. “Yet he filled their houses,” &c. (vers. 1-20). There was a little bit of tenderness in his heart toward Job. “Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace; thereby good shall come unto thee. Receive, I pray thee, the law from his mouth.” Eliphaz certainly was nothing like Zophar, nor even Bildad. “And lay up his words in thine heart. If thou return to the Almighty, thou shalt be built up.” And so it was. Little did he know that that return was about to be made manifest, to their shame. “Then shalt thou lay up gold as dust, and light shall shine upon thy ways” (vers. 21-28). And so it did, in the most marvelous way, and much sooner than Eliphaz expected. “When men are cast down, then thou shalt say, There is lifting up; and he shall save the humble person. He shall deliver—”
There is a very odd mistake in this verse (30); that word “island” is all wrong. The same word in Hebrew means “island” and also “not.” To give you an instance—take “Ichabod,” there you get the “I” (ee) —used adverbially, meaning “not,” for “Ichabod” means “not glory,” or “inglorious” — “the glory is departed.” This was the name that the poor wife of Phinehas gave, in her dying moments, to the son that was born to her— “Not glory.” Well now, that is the word here; and if you translate it as a negative particle you get the true sense of it— “him that is not innocent.” “Island” only makes nonsense. Nobody could explain it as given in our A.V.; no person has ever done it nor approached it, and it is an astonishing thing that it remains. I believe it is all right in the Revised Version; but it is well worth knowing, because I daresay you have been puzzled to find where “the island of the innocent” came in. You know there is a proud little corner of Europe that calls itself “the Isle of Saints,” but the isle of the innocent is still more extraordinary. There has never been such a thing. Man lost his innocence, and has never recovered it. Man gains holiness by the faith of Christ, but no recovery of innocence; that could not be. “He shall deliver [him, or] those that are not innocent” —that is the point of it.
Yes, and God did that, and who were they? Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. They were the people who were “not guiltless"; they were guilty, they were “not innocent.” So that there are two words rather mauled in this version. The real force is, “He shall deliver those that are not guiltless,” and that was verified in the case of Job's three friends, little as Eliphaz expected it. They were treated by God as being guilty towards their dear brother whom they had so misjudged, to whom they had imputed all kinds of hidden evil, and made him a hypocrite as well as a naughty man. And Eliphaz here unconsciously gives utterance to words that came true. We sometimes find that. Words said passingly by a Christian— they had no idea perhaps that they would ever be verified—and yet how often they have been—as I have known frequently, from very simple souls—perhaps only some poor brother that could not write, or from a poor old sister that could do very little except mend stockings.
So here we find these words were true. God has a great deal more to do with any good words which are uttered than we at all realize. Eliphaz, although he was so wrong, was nevertheless, allowed to say words which came true in a marvelous manner about Job himself. “He shall deliver him that is not innocent,” or “not guilt-less” that is the proper word— “and he shall be delivered by the pureness of thine hands.” This was what God compelled these three men to feel—that Job was more righteous than they; that his hands were cleaner than theirs. They had defiled their hands in setting upon Job so foully and so violently; and they owed it to Job that they were spared their lives.
Job answers in the next chapter (23.), and that is all we can look at to-night. “Even today is my complaint bitter; my stroke is heavier than my groaning. Oh that I knew where I might find him!” Ah! there was a pious heart, although he felt and smarted under his terrible sufferings. He was so preoccupied that he could not find Him yet. He did, however, before long. “That I might come even to his seat! I would order my cause before him, and fill my mouth with arguments. I would know the words which he would answer me, and understand what he would say unto me.” Now that is what he desired. He was not afraid of what God would say. He was sure to be good, because He loved, and because of what Job knew Him to be. “Will he plead against me with his great power?” That is what they thought. “No,” said he; nothing of the sort; “but he would put [strength] in me.” “Strength” goes a little too far. It is rather, “he would give heed unto me.” “There the righteous might dispute with him; so should I be delivered forever from my judge.” I know it would be all right if I could only get a hearing. If I could come close to Him, then He would listen.
“Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him; on the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him; he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him; but he knoweth the way that I take.” There, you see, was a heart always turned towards the center of attraction, always to God. He might waver under the affliction—just as you know the needle may be very unsteady for a little; but leave it to rest, and it always turns to the pole. “My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined. Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips.” He was perfectly conscious of a good conscience. Yet he had nothing at all, and that was what he had to learn. God had to show him; because it was not a question merely of an outward blemish that anyone would notice. This is what people think very proper.
I have been at dying beds of real Christians, and I am sorry to say, the principal thing that I have heard from them has been, “I look back upon my long life of following the Lord Jesus.” If Job had said, “I look back upon the tender mercy and the forbearance of God and His continual support when I never deserved it” —oh! that would have been all right. I ought, perhaps, to add that those whom I have heard speak in that way never have heard the gospel in the way which you all are familiar with. Still, I do not doubt that they were Christians, but misled by bad teaching. “My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and hot declined. Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.” “But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth.” Job allowed His entire supremacy; he allowed His sovereignty in the fullest degree. “For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me; and many such things are with him. Therefore am I troubled at his presence.” He was troubled that there was something between God and him; something with which God had a question, but what—he did not understand yet. “When I consider, I am afraid of him. For God maketh my heart soft, and the Almighty troubleth me; because I was not cut off before the darkness, neither hath he covered the darkness from my face.”
W. K.

A Worldly Sanctuary (Duplicate): Part 1

We are often in danger of coming short of the truth of God, by attaching to the words of Scripture the technical meaning which they may have in the theology of our own days. The words “carnal,” “flesh,” “world,” and “worldly” are known to us as expressive of that which is corrupt in itself, and which is disowned of God.
But if we do not see that God has had long patience both with the flesh and the world, dealing with them both in a way of probation, previously to His finally giving them up, we shall fall greatly short in apprehending the truth of God. And not only so, but we shall also fail to perceive that every effort which man is making now is but the repetition of that which has been previously attempted under far more favorable circumstances, and which has issued in lamentable failure. “Is it not of the Lord of hosts that the people shall labor in the very fire, and the people shall weary themselves for very vanity?”
Let us then remember that the time was when God said to the children of Israel, “Let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.” This was a “worldly sanctuary.” A sanctuary suited for God's dwelling-place in the world, and suitable also for the worship of a people of the world. God had constituted Israel to be His worldly people. He had fenced them off from the nations round about them by statutes, and judgments, and ordinances; and He had prescribed likewise “ordinances of divine service,” adapted to their sanctuary and to their standing.
All here was consistent—all was worldly. Worldly worship, therefore, was then a holy thing in itself, for God had then appointed it. And it would be so now also if God had a worldly people and a worldly sanctuary; but seeing He now has neither the one nor the other, the attempt to approach God, even by ordinances of divine service which He Himself originally prescribed, is most sinful. “He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that offereth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog's neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine's blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.”
This is a solemn word. The very act which was once a religious act, acceptable to God, as the killing an ox for a sin-offering or a burnt-offering, is when God delights not in it—but man chooses to do it—of moral guilt, it is as murder before God! The incense which God Himself so minutely directed to be compounded, and without which Aaron himself could not appear before the Lord lest he die—for one to burn that incense, is as if he blessed an idol!
Now if such was God's estimate of His own ordinances of worldly worship, when those to whom they were given used them corruptly and willfully, what must be the iniquity of introducing an order of things distinctly set aside by God? But has not this been done in the history of the church, and is it not with renewed zeal being attempted in our own day? Forms and rituals of worship suited only to a worldly sanctuary and a worldly people are sanctioned and established on every hand. And this is most fearful sin. The prophet of old was commissioned to rebuke Israel for their corruption and abuse of the worldly sanctuary and its worldly ordinances; but the apostle rebukes the saints of God when tending to turn back to worldly elements.
God was dishonored of old by any neglect of the worldly sanctuary; He is dishonored now by an attempt to copy or re-establish it. This enables us to determine the character of things now done in the professing church. Such things, for example, as an altar on the earth, repeated sacrifice, the burning of incense, the consecrating of buildings and of ground, and of persons also, by outward ceremonial. Such like rites and ceremonies were so early borrowed from the Jewish worldly ritual, and transferred into the Christian church, as to have become almost universal shortly after the apostles' days.
But where is their warrant in the New Testament -nay, how can any read therein and not see the introduction of such things prophesied of and solemnly warned against? How searching then is such a word as this: “I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them, because when I spake they did not hear!” How needful is that recall to the only source of authority found in the word, “He that hath an ear to ear, let him hear” — “He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” This marks at once the place from whence our wisdom and guidance must be sought. Not in antiquity, or in the examples of Judaized churches, but in the unquestioned teaching of the Holy Spirit Himself to the churches. This leads us away from all whose wisdom or authority can for a moment be questioned. It places the word of God itself before the conscience of every saint. Errors, however ancient, or venerable, or attractive, are thus detected, and the child of faith is forbidden to countenance them.
This makes the path of faith at all times sure, though oftentimes difficult. For nothing can be more sure than the steps of one guided by the Spirit of God and the word of God, and yet nothing more difficult than to have to walk in separation from all that exists around. It is indeed difficult to have to wind one's way through things so perplexing and so different as the religious systems of our own day. We have to avoid on the one hand systems formed in imitation of things past, and on the other, systems more characterized by anticipations of things future. We have to allow that such things were once given by God, and that they will yet again be introduced by Him, while in-variably contending that they are positively opposed to His present workings.
There was a worldly sanctuary—there is yet, in the coming dispensation, to be a worldly sanctuary—but now there is none. Existing systems are variously compounded of things proper to these three distinct periods. Some have drawn most from the past, some from the future, some, it may be, most from the present—but all involve sad confusion in the things of God. How many, who may in some measure have been emancipated from the ordinances of the ancient worldly sanctuary of the past dispensation, do not allow that there is a worldly sanctuary yet to come; and have consequently chosen and instituted that in which God delighteth not, as much as others who are professedly imitating the ancient ordinances. Thus, while denouncing worldly elements they them-selves have invested themselves with that which can only properly belong to the worldly part of the dispensation to come. Thus they are involved in the sin of mingling things heavenly and things earthly.
And is not all this a work of the flesh? Is it not an admission of worldly principles into the church of God? Do we not see this in the fond desire for official distinction, dedicated buildings, permanent institutions and ordinances, and attempts to attract worldly repute, so common to the systems around? For all this is not confined to the Church of Rome, or the Protestant Establishments of Europe, but it, with scarcely less prominence, characterizes the systems of Dissenters also. And surely all these things, under whatever form seen, must be alike offensive to God. We may go back to some ancient institutions of God, or forward to something He intends yet to introduce, or we may assert our own right to worship according to a pattern of our own devising, but in each and all these cases we subject ourselves to that word, “When I spake they did not hear.”
It is important therefore to show that there yet will be a worldly sanctuary and worldly worship. This is very largely revealed in the prophets. Their subject of hope is the restored nation, restored polity, and restored worship of Israel; but all, when so restored, under and in connection with the Lord Jesus Christ. Now the. Christian church has in a great measure applied these predictions to herself, and hence we have the thought of a Christian nation, instead of the holy nation now to be gathered from out of all nations-hence too the thought of the union of the church and the State-a thought to be most blessedly fulfilled when Christ as a King and Priest shall sit upon His throne— hence, too, the antedating of the day when the kings of the earth are to bring their glory and honor to the golden city—hence the constant invitations which are given to the world to contribute its aid and patronage to the work of the church! All this has secularized Christianity, and given a worldly character to its position and its worship.
In the prophet Isaiah we read, “mine house shall be called a house of prayer for all people.” That is, God would have a house on earth, a worldly sanctuary, but it should be open to all, it should not be confined to Israel. The Israel of that future day would have a standing higher than that which belonged to them as the natural seed of Abraham, and in that standing others would be associated with them, even those who were naturally sons of the stranger. Joined to the Lord, these should be brought to His holy mountain, and made joyful in His house of prayer. The Lord Jesus, the Master of the heavenly house now, and in due time the builder also of the earthly house and worldly sanctuary, adverts to this Scripture in the sequel of His ministry. Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and said unto them, “Is it not written, my house shall be called an house of prayer for all nations"? (Mark 11:17).
It never was this in its first standing. But when it is of another building, then many nations will come and say, “Come ye and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” Here we have most clearly a worldly sanctuary, a metropolitan temple on the earth— the fountain of legislation and instruction for all who fear the Lord. Christians may perhaps think that to establish a cathedral on mount Zion would be an approximation towards the fulfillment of this word. But if that were done, the word would still be, “The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me, and where is the place of my rest? For all these things hath mine hand made, and all these things have been, saith the Lord; but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.”
Ezekiel in his vision witnessed the departure of the glory of the Lord, first from the house and then from the earth (chaps. 10, 11.); but in the 43rd chapter he says, “And the glory of the Lord came into the house by the way of the gate whose prospect is towards the east and behold the glory of the Lord filled the house and he said unto me, Son of man, the place of my throne and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel forever, and my holy name shall the house of Israel no more defile.” Here again we read of that worldly sanctuary yet to be set up.
But not to multiply quotations, let us only revert to two more, both of which lead us onward from the time of the rebuilding of the temple of Zerubbabel. “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, yet once it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens and the earth, and the sea and the dry land, and I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with my glory, saith the Lord of hosts ...  ... The glory of this house shall be greater, the latter than the former, saith the Lord of hosts; and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts.” Here we must note that this worldly sanctuary is set up after the heavens and the earth have been shaken, which, according to the testimony of the apostle in the twelfth chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, has not yet taken place.
Again, we read in the prophet Zechariah (chap. 6:12), “Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is the BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord; even he shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory, and sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a Priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.”
Now all these testimonies, and they might be greatly multiplied, tell us of a worldly sanctuary yet to be set up; but not after the old order. There God will be known as the God of peace, even where the real glory will be, where Jesus will sit as a Priest upon His throne. There will be ordinances of divine service there, and ministering priests, and a worshipping multitude. One of those ordinances is mentioned in the last prophet referred to, “All the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year, to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.”
The conclusion therefore from these Scriptures is that there was a worldly sanctuary suited to a worshipping people in the flesh on the earth-and that there is yet to be a worldly sanctuary in connection with the new covenant, suitable for the true circumcision, the true spiritual seed, on the earth (Isaiah 57). But there is no such. sanctuary now. Now there is the heavenly sanctuary only. And this is the contrast so carefully drawn by the Holy Spirit in the 9th chapter of the Hebrews.
The first tabernacle in connection with the worldly sanctuary had its place for awhile. During its continuance the way into the holiest of all was not yet laid open, nor could there be any purging of the conscience. Now the contrast to this first tabernacle is not a second, set up like that on the earth, and in which the worshippers are to be kept at a distance from the holiest, but one set up by God Himself in heaven, in which those only can enter who are cleansed by the blood of Jesus and anointed with the Holy Spirit; but into which all such do now in spirit enter as alike accepted and equally priests. The first tabernacle is therefore in this chapter looked at in contrast with “the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building,” in which the church now worships.
Such a sanctuary as this heavenly sanctuary alone befits the “holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling.” Man, as man, can recognize the propriety of splendid buildings for the worship of God, and he has ever acted accordingly. But the spiritual house has nothing tangible in it. It is not adapted to the world, nor does it present attractions to the flesh. To one who only judged by appearances there might be some ground for the slander that Christians were Atheists, for there. was no visible or imposing attraction in their worship. Their worship was in the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands. They did not attempt in their places of assembly to vie with the imposing architecture either of the temple at Jerusalem or the heathen temples around them. They had not then heard of “Christian ecclesiastical architecture,” nor was the church then the patron of the arts. Their temple was not of this building.
And the ministry in the heavenly sanctuary corresponds with all this. It is complete and perfect, because performed by one who is divine and who is beyond the range of this world's cognizance. Christ is entered once into the holiest, having obtained eternal redemption. The eye of man could scan the beautiful proportions of an earthly sanctuary, and mark the service of an earthly priesthood, but faith alone can enter into the heavenly sanctuary or delight in its glories. No one of its beauties or glories is displayed to the senses—it is the soul alone which has learned the preciousness of Jesus which is now able to say, “How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts.” The Lamb is the light and glory of it. If He be not the object of faith no wonder that men should again make the sanctuary worldly. But even when God had His worldly sanctuary here, bow little of its beauty was displayed to the ordinary worshippers. They saw not the golden sanctuary, nor the cherubim and vessels of gold; these things were most carefully hidden from their sight. The priests were charged to cover up the vessels of ministry, even from the sight of the Levites who were to carry them (Numbers 4:20). The eyes of the priests alone were to rest on these holy things.
Now it is the antitypes of these veiled and precious types with which we have to do. All believers now are priests unto God, and hence all now is open to faith; but open to faith alone. What eye hath not seen, God hath revealed to us by His Spirit. The Holy Ghost is specially come down from heaven in testimony of what He knoweth to be there. He could not witness of a heavenly temple and a heavenly priesthood, until the builder and sustainer of the temple and the perpetual Priest was in heaven.
All attempts to establish a worldly sanctuary now are therefore in direct opposition to the present testimony of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost by His coming was the conviction of the world's sin in having rejected Jesus, because testifying that God had exalted Him; but that blessed Spirit is also, by His very presence in the church, the conviction of the sin of every attempt now to set up a worldly sanctuary. He has to testify only of a High Priest, now ministering in the heavens, “Jesus, the Son of God, who is passed into the heavens,” and consequently He can only lead the soul to Him He glorifies. All who worship “in Spirit” must therefore worship in the heavenly sanctuary—for there alone does the Spirit lead.
But man, as man, knows not the Spirit of God; the world cannot receive him (John 14). It is no part of His ministry to guide the flesh into the presence of God, or to teach it to worship. His very presence here is God's most emphatic and solemn testimony of the entire ruin of man and his utter incompetency for any good thing. Regeneration must therefore precede worship. The only true worshippers now are those who are separated unto God through “sanctification of the Spirit.” These are now “the holy priesthood,” “the royal nation.” And it is well for the saints themselves to bear constantly in mind this elementary truth. For it will enable them to test all that assumes to be worship. We may have the senses gratified, the imagination exercised, sentiment and feeling kindled—and we may mistake such things for worship; but they are fleshly things, and when found in saints they sadly grieve the Spirit of God.
These are things against which the saints have to watch, and which they have to mortify, but these are the things which must be fostered and gratified by the willful introduction of a worldly sanctuary. What more fearful, then, than to confound such a work with the present work of the Spirit of God. Is not this to confound darkness with light-flesh with Spirit? The whole order of a worldly sanctuary must hinder the present testimony of the Spirit of God. Now to do despite to the Spirit of grace—to insult the Spirit of God—is indeed fearful sin. But what has the Spirit of grace to do in the worldly sanctuary? There the great points are the service of the ministering priest, and the duties of the suppliant people. Grace is excluded in the whole order. Grace establishes the heart; but the worldly sanctuary leads it back again to meats.
Hence then we worship God in the Spirit. Not in sentiment-not in refinement of the imagination—not in fleshly wisdom or in fleshly power—but in the Spirit. And this we are able to do because the resurrection of Jesus has set aside the order of the flesh and of the world, and introduced us into the heavenly things themselves, and because the Holy Ghost has come to dwell in the church on earth, from Jesus its Head exalted in heaven. Any return therefore to a worldly sanctuary now must be as insulting to the Holy Spirit as it is contradictory of the finished work of Jesus.
But consider a moment longer, how truly the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of grace. What is His blessed witness to us? Is it not to grace accomplished in glory in heaven; Jesus by His own blood has entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption. This it is which the Holy Ghost has revealed to us. Christ is there—and there “having obtained eternal redemption;” and He “there appears in the presence of God for us.” What need we more than this? Can we not by faith see here the witness of our own present acceptance and the pledge of our own glory! There then is the scene of our worship—there is our sanctuary—our only sanctuary. And it is into this scene of accomplished and abundant blessedness that the Spirit of God has come to lead our souls. “Set your mind on the things above” is His unceasing exhortation to us. May our hearts know more of the peace and glory of that heavenly sanctuary!
And what should be the characteristic of the worship of the heavenly sanctuary? Surely praise! —praise for accomplished redemption. And this sacrifice will not be wanting, if our souls realize our heavenly portion. None, indeed, can withhold their tribute of praise, who really worship in that sanctuary. Fullness of joy, and pleasures for evermore, are at God's right hand; and every heart led of the Spirit there, declares, “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever.” Eternal redemption is the solid basis on which all such joy rests. Eternal redemption, found in the perfect work of Jesus—that work which He Himself ever presents on our behalf in heaven: “Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous, and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.”
(To be continued)

Brief Notes on 1 Peter 1:13-21

It may sound a truism to say we are not left here to please ourselves. There are many influences around to which we are in danger of succumbing, but if they are not of God we are not to yield to them.
“Gird up the loins of your mind,” etc. (ver. 13). This is a privilege and a duty for every one of us, and we have to guard the outflow of our thoughts, feelings and judgments, especially in this day. One wrote, “things are not what they seem.” If the poet could say what is really true, how much rather we!
Is there no reality in this world? Yes, everyone of us is a reality of the grace of God, which has taken us up in sovereign mercy. We know it, as it is said in ver. 18, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were redeemed, not with corruptible things,” etc. There was a time when difficulties and fears possessed us, but they are gone. The same grace which gave us to rest in the Savior removed them. We are called to sobriety of thought, feelings and words. It is not always wise to let out our thoughts, or to go to a brother and give him “a piece of our mind,” as people say. It may be a great relief to one's spirit, but may not be “the fruit of the Spirit.” “Speaking the truth in love” —our confession of Christ should be both in word and deed, ever in consistency with “love in the Spirit.” That does not mean we are not to be firm. We are supposed to have all our spiritual senses. A minister who went round the various congregations of London some years ago was struck by, and gave to the readers of a paper, a prayer of our dear departed brother of Blackheath, in which was the expression, “Lord, separate us from the evil that looks fair.” How often are we ensnared by fair appearances! ‘Oh!' you say, ‘I did not know ought about it!' Did you not inquire? We ought to know what we are doing. We ought not to be children, or as dumb driven cattle, but be heroes in the strife, and earnest contenders “for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.” The truth of God does not change. It is firm and abiding, but our knowledge and apprehension of the truth ought to grow. Some, who seem never to advance, perversely think the child knows as much as the man. That does not say much for the man at any rate. We are called to grow in His ways, and in the knowledge of Christ. A mother's love may forget, but there is One Who can ne'er forget, who never fails, and Whose patience never fails. All this is for you and for me. Amid the things which are shaken and will be shaken yet more, we have nevertheless to do with the One Who abideth faithful, and is ever the same— “I change not.”
“Hope to the end,” etc.—was it not grace at the start? Is it not grace all the way? Yet that is not all, it will be greater still at the revelation of Jesus Christ. It is not when we are caught up to meet the Lord that we have the completion of things. The apostle, when speaking of walk or service, goes on to “the day of Christ,” when everything will be manifested, and each have praise of God. At His coming He will not forego, or leave one of His own behind. It will not be a question of our faithfulness, but “they that are Christ's at His coming.” Sovereign, unmerited grace. We deserved no place. And this is what the increasing knowledge of Himself gives us to realize. But the Savior has redeemed us, and will come for all His own. Yet the Lord does take knowledge of whatever is done in His name, done because of the love of God shed abroad in our hearts. A sister once said, she felt it the greatest honor to be allowed to clean the saints' shoes! All labor is dignified if done to Him. The best is but little. If we don't know as we ought we don't do as we ought, nor as we might. We cannot flatter ourselves that we have done excellently. Every worker should value a “curtain lecture” and consider how he might have done things better. Still, faith works by love.
We are called to obedience. It may be a difficult lesson for us to learn, but we are “children of obedience,” and therefore called to walk as such always. It could not be said that Israel was obedient, yet the apostle, characterizing the believer, says, “children of obedience.” This is a character which the law was powerless to create; but it is the cardinal duty of a Christian—the essence of Christianity—to obey. To this we are converted at the start of the Christian life, and never get to the end of our obligation. Nevertheless there are difficulties, and so the need of exhortation.
“And if ye call on Him as Father, Who, without respect of persons, judgeth according to each man's work.” Relationship brings with it a corresponding responsibility. So here. All our work is subjected to the Father's scrutiny. Oh, how deep the interest the Father takes in His children! and because we are His children! Can we then be careless, or indifferent? Are we responding to this love and care, that we grieve Him not. We are “born again” into this new condition. We are set apart to the obedience of Christ-that is the sample. He had “commandment” to lay down His life. His was not only the obedience of One who so knew the Father's mind that He received no commandment. Have you and I thought that we had got beyond commandments? Are there no contrary motions within us? Have we no will of our own? I sometimes hear careless people say, “I am dead.” Unguarded words soon come to show the man does not know what he says. We need to be careful how we take up the words of Scripture. You may say I am giving it a force you have not before noticed. Does Scripture say, I have died “in Christ"? Yet we ought to be careful how we say “with Christ.” This truth cuts at the root of many things. You professed it in your baptism; look to God for grace to walk in the power of it. It is not What harm is there in anything? but Is it Christ? Are we here for Him? We are poor specimens I admit. Who can say, we have answered to what is expected of us? Are we living Christ, whatever may be the practice of others? May God grant that the character of Christ be formed in us, and seen in all our ways from day to day.
“But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation” —in all kind of walk. When people go away for a holiday sometimes they think, “Well, if I was at home I should go to the meeting as usual, but no one knows me here.” That's the world. It is not to put on a cravat on the Lord's day, and to put it off every other day. The Lord would have Himself always before us that we should be consistent every day and be holy. Does God qualify His holiness? He cannot give a less standard than Himself.
Do you call on the Father? It is not Jehovah. We do not know Him in that character of relationship, but as “Father,” and the force of this is “If ye call on Him Who as Father judgeth.” If a child comes to his father with his copy book, what a value it has in the eyes of the father! You have to do with your Father and He takes an interest in all you do. The Father takes appraisement of all our work. He judges the work of each one. The Father judging the work of His own child! Does not the child appreciate it? Not long ago, in a house I was visiting, a mother said to her little boy, ‘Show Mr.— your book,' but the child ran away, and shut the door! I was not his father. But here is the Father, “My Father and your Father.” In the back-woods of America, in the busy haunts of life, His eye is on us. Are we seeking to please Him whom we know as Father?
“Pass the time of your sojourning here in fear.” Why? For fear, after all, you may not be His? It does not say so. “Because ye know (ver. 18) ye were redeemed, not with corruptible things... from your vain manner of life.” People say, You cannot expect me to give up what I have been brought up in! But a better thing has been brought in now that we have Christ as our life, and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God. So it is said, “that we should serve in newness of spirit.” Therefore we ought to walk in the way of the Father Who has made us His children.
Ver. 21. What did Christ not go through? But glory is in store for you and for me. Is not this meant to be a great cheer to us? We have to do with the invisible God— “as seeing Him that is invisible.” We are called to obey, to walk in the knowledge of how great is our redemption, and that we are sons of God; and I do desire we may have this sink into our hearts—that we are called ever to obey.


F. E. RACE, Publisher, 3 & 4, London House Yard,
Paternoster Row, E.C.

Lectures on Job 24-28

Lect. 7 Chaps. 24-28
Chap. 24. This closes the answer of Job to Eliphaz that we began on last Wednesday. Job makes it perfectly clear that all things now are an anomaly that you cannot judge of God's feeling about the prosperity of man here below, for the righteous are often far more tried; and it is no proof of anything wrong on their part, but, on the contrary, God putting them to the test, to manifest that they really are His; consequently, submissiveness of heart is what we are all called to under trial, and to perfect confidence in God. Still, we have an advantage saints of old had not and could not have till Christ came—not merely Christ's work accomplished, but the fight of Christ shining. They had not that. It was before the law. Nevertheless, we see clearly that there was light enough for those that looked to God, and that there was darkness unquestionably, just as there is now, for those that have not faith in God. Only, the great profitable lesson of the book is the difference between believers, and why it is. There was a mighty difference between Job and his three friends, and I have endeavored to point out wherein that difference lay. Whatever might be the mistakes of Job, and whatever his irritation at being accounted a hypocrite by his friends (and if we have ever known anything like that we can know the bitterness of it), there is no blow so keen and so deeply felt as that which comes from those who profess to love us. And yet the devil is always working, and trying to set God's children by the ears.
Well, here we find it in a very extreme form. That is the grand difference between the history of Job and that of other men. They only knew it in a measure; but God brought it out in one great display in the case of Job, who was more tried than any other man ever was. I do not mean that Paul and Peter and others may not have had trials of their own kind, and, particularly, their life in their hand. That was not the case with Job. There was no question of life; it was a question of endurance. His life was not to be touched; it would have entirely spoiled the history if Job had died; but God took care that whatever his sufferings might be, he was preserved; and preserved to pass through such a scene as probably was in no other case since the world began, yet turned to incomparable benefit. That was what God was showing.
Satan never does anything for good—always for evil. But in this case Satan had entirely failed, and it was God that wrought, and wrought particularly by the unfaithfulness and the unspirituality of Job's three friends. That is the great moral of the book. It was only then that he began to curse his day—never before. Whatever came from Satan he bore, and bore it with the fullest courage and with all confidence in God. But when his three friends began to insinuate wickedness hidden, and hypocrisy, that was too much for Job; he could not stand it. He broke out therefore into many a word highly unbecoming; but God made all allowance for that, because in the main Job adhered to God, and whatever came, he desired to accept it from God. He could not understand why, but he still cleaved to God. Now he puts the case himself.
“Why, seeing times are not hidden from the Almighty, do not they that know him see his days?” i.e., there are these times of evil, and how is it that God, who is a moral governor, and who takes notice of all evil, yea, even the words of people (words reveal the secrets of the heart) how is it that He allows it to pass as He does, and that there is no day of retribution now? Well, we can perfectly answer that—it is all reserved for Christ. The Father will not judge any man; that is not what the Father will do. He is showing love because He is a Father, and showing love because He is God; because God is love just as much as He is light. And therefore it is reserved for Christ, and the reason is plain. Christ was the One whom, without the very slightest reason for it, without a cause, they hated. They hated both Him and the Father; and therefore it is reserved for the Lord Jesus to execute judgment. All judgment is committed to the Son, because He is the Son of man, and as the Son of man He has been hated; His Deity has been denied, and He was accounted as a companion of wicked people. He was accounted as a Samaritan, and to have even a demon. There was nothing too bad for man to say and feel.
And these were not the heathen; the heathen were never so bad as that. It is God's people when in a bad state that are worse than anybody. That is a thing that many cannot understand and do not believe. There they are beating their drums and blowing their trumpets in Christendom as if everything were going on right. Oh, they are ripening for judgment indeed in England. It is not merely in Kamtschatka or in the center of Africa; all that is quite a mistake. The more light there is, if people are not faithful, the worse they are. And therefore our Lord was very clear in showing that the Jews were the people. It was no question of Sodom and Gomorrah. They talked about the horribleness of Sodom and Gomorrah. ‘Oh,' said the Lord, ‘it is you that are worse than they. It will be more tolerable in the day of judgment for Sodom and Gomorrah and Tire'—and all those places that were regarded as peculiarly wicked— 'it will be worse for Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum.’ Capernaum was the place where He lived. It was accounted His own city in Galilee. What He thought worse was the rejection of all His light and all His love. And therefore the nearer you are to the blessing, if the blessing is not yours the more guilty you are.
But then comes another very important thing, and that is, that unless our self is judged—unless there is continual self-judgment going on day by day, we get hard; we lose the unction of the truth, we lose the power of it in our souls, and thus we may be very self-complacent, because we know that we believe. That is just where the friends of Job were. They were quite comfortable; there was nothing amiss with them; they were all right, but Job I he must be very bad. That was their entire misjudgment. Now Job faces this question—how is it, if the times are so bad, that the. day of retribution does not come? We do not see, it. It is coming; it awaits the only One that can perfectly deal with evil.
We are all apt to be very partial. Sometimes there are certain evils very bad in our eyes—man's eyes particularly. Some people are very hard upon drinking. Well, the same people are not at all hard upon covetousness. Nevertheless I suppose there is no one with any judgment but what avows that the spirit of covetousness is far more blinding and injurious to the soul than even the debasement of a man getting tipsy. No doubt a tipsy man is an object of contempt to those that are temperate, and they pass very severe judgment upon him; and there is where the devil attacks them all. ‘Oh, no; I never drink; I never touch a drop; I am a good man; and they are very bad, they are very wicked.' Well, I do not at all doubt that they are bad; but I do say other people are worse who have a good opinion of themselves. There is nothing that God has more an abhorrence of than a man who thinks well of himself; for however lofty his thoughts he is nothing but a poor, lost sinner, and if he has not one particular evil he has others perhaps as bad or even worse. I do not say that to excuse anything.
There are many other ways in which people show that they have nothing in common with the Lord Jesus, and that they have no knowledge of God whatever. But it is the Lord that will be the infallible Judge. It is the Lord that will never swerve to the one side or the other. Everything that is contrary to God will be met solemnly by His judgment another day; and it is because people did not see God in Him, but only a man, that therefore He as a man will be the Judge of all mankind. All judgment is committed to the Son because He is the Son of man. Well now, Job describes these anomalies that are going on now. He says, 'Some remove the landmarks.' That is not at all an uncommon thing. We have the evidence of it all round about us in London now. There are people that have encroached upon—taken the common land of this very Blackheath. There you see in various parts of it there are people that somehow or other have encroached; they have laid hold upon what does not belong to them. But it has gone on so long that the law cannot touch them. There they are in possession; and we know that is a great thing in the eyes of lawyers, although it is quite contrary to law in itself, but still they cannot touch them. And there are all these anomalies constantly going on—even that in the face of all the center of the law; here we have it. If we were in Cornwall or in the south of Ireland nobody would be astonished; there are plenty of anomalies there; but here you have it in London before your eyes.
And so it is too in many other forms besides land grabbing. But this is what is referred to—a very old trick of bad men, and particularly of men of property, particularly of men of rank and the like, because having land it gives them the opportunity of stealing a little more. And so it is with kings. They see there is a nice province just outside France that would make such a good addition to the Empire, and by and bye it is stolen. Well then again, Germany sees that there is a certain part that gives an outlet to the sea that they have not, and they steal that and find a pretext of war in order to take what belongs to Denmark or whatever country it maybe. In that case it was Denmark.
That is in our own day—both of these things. And so it has ever been; and that is in the face not merely of the law, but the gospel; and these things are done by people that go to church or to chapel and the like, and there they are professing Christians. And all that by the very persons who by their position are the guardians of the execution of the law; yet they are the people guilty of all this wickedness.
And the same thing goes on in the lower strata of society. There they are prompted very often by want; but then what is it very often that is the cause of want? Why, for the most part it is dishonesty; it is recklessness as to performance of their duty. They lose their post. They strive to get rich; they take money that does not belong to them, and they come under public judgment. That is going on constantly in the lower just as it is in the higher strata, and the fact of it is, all is wrong, and will be wrong here below till the Lord Jesus is the One that executes judgment and that reigns righteously. Nothing will be passed over; there will be no favoritism, but all will be according to God, and never before. For any measure of peace or quietness or allowance of what people have—to be in their possession peacefully—we have reason to thank God very much indeed. But I am speaking now of looking into things as they really are, and it does not matter what country you take.
We in England think ourselves a very righteous nation, and there are many that think we are, as compared with others; but I have just been referring to things that prove how very hollow all this pretension to righteousness is. And therefore there is the greatest possible comfort in looking up to God. There there is absolute righteousness, and not only that, but active goodness. There there is God caring for His own. He chastises them because He loves them—where there is something that they do not see; for very often it is that they do not. Sometimes we are buffeted for our faults. That is a thing that ought not to be. We ought to suffer for righteousness rather than for unrighteousness, because “for sins Christ once suffered, Just for unjust,” Who is made infinitely dear to us. But there we come on Christian ground.
Now Job simply takes up the things that are around him. “They violently take away flocks and feed thereof. They drive away the ass of the fatherless, they take the widow's ox for a pledge. They turn the needy out of the way” —these were what you may call the “respectables” of society, the people who had flocks and herds, but they wanted more. “The poor of the earth hide themselves together.” Well, now we see another class; we see the poor and distressed here below. “Behold, as wild asses in the desert, go they forth to their work” —they are the people that have nothing, now the “masses,” that have no skilled work, but that live merely jobbing about, and in all the precariousness and the suffering that this jobbery produces. “As wild asses in the desert, go they forth to their work; rising betimes for a prey” —before the light, and a prey, because it is not something settled—it is what they can catch. “The wilderness yieldeth food for them and for their children.”
Think of that the barren sands of the wilderness, that is the only thing, and why? Because they have got no land of their own. “They reap every one his own corn in the field” —that is the corn of the rich man— “and they gather the vintage of the wicked.” Now they are called not “rich” but “wicked.” “They cause the naked to lodge without clothing” —that is what these wicked rich do: They have no pity for them; they make use of them for their work. “They cause the naked to lodge without clothing, that they have no covering in the cold. They are wet with the showers of the mountains” —describing still the indigent class that had scarcely any regular work to do— “and embrace the rock for want of a shelter. They pluck the fatherless from the breast, and take a pledge of the poor. They cause him to go naked without clothing, and they take away the sheaf from the hungry.” There might be a sheaf or two forgotten in the case of harvest, but they have found it out, and they are at them to get back their sheaf. “Which make oil within their walls.” They are employed for their abundance—they make the oil, but they never have a drop of it for themselves— “and tread their wine-presses and suffer thirst.” There is no wine for them. “Men groan from out of the city, and the soul of the wounded crieth out; yet God layeth not folly to them.” God does not take any notice of it, and the reason is that He is waiting for that day.
Now what a wonderful love it is to the very persons to whom the gospel is preached. It was to the “poor” the gospel was preached; they were peculiarly the object of the Lord Jesus. There never was such a thing before, since the world began. Nobody ever made them his grand object, and that for eternity. But Job could not know anything of that. “They are of those that rebel against the light; they know not the ways thereof, nor abide in the paths thereof.” Then he describes a still worse class. That is a man—whether higher or lower it does not matter—a man of violence, the murderer. The man who has got his quarrel, and the man that nothing will satiate but the life of his victim. “The murderer rising with the light killeth the poor and needy, and in the night is as a thief” —who will be ashamed to show that he was robbing the poor. “The eye also of the adulterer waiteth for the twilight, saying, No eye shall see me” the corrupt man—violence and corruption, the two great characteristics of human evil— “and disguiseth his face. In the dark they dig through the houses, which they had marked for themselves in the day-time; they know not the light. For the morning is to them even as the shadow of death; if one know them, they are in the terrors of the shadow of death.” They cannot bear to be known, what they are and what they seek. There he pursues this terrible picture down to the end of the chapter, showing that there is an internal misery and a consciousness of guilt—for that was a very wonderful working of God.
When man was first created, he did not know anything about good and evil. He did not know the difference between them, because no such thing here existed. He was made perfectly without any evil. There was no evil in man when God sent him forth from His hand. But directly he fell into sin he acquired the power of judging what was wrong, and what was right in itself. That is conscience. There was no need of conscience judging of what was right and wrong when all was good; but directly man fell, he began to judge good and evil. That is what God does perfectly— man does it in an unhappy, miserable way. It is because he knows of what is within that he detects it without, and pronounces judgment, but man is none the better. Now when man is unconverted, he goes on in that kind of misery, and his use of good and evil is this—there are other men he considers as bad as, or worse than, himself, and he excuses himself on that ground, and so he goes on. But when a man is converted conscience turns its eye upon himself. That is the reason why repentance is indelibly and from the very beginning bound up with the believer in Christ. Faith and repentance go together, and the fact of our receiving Christ makes us judge self, and not merely to spot other people's evil or excuse ourselves.
You see it in the poor tax-gatherer. When the Pharisee was saying, “God, I thank Thee I am not like other men; I am a better man; I do not drink; I do not swear; I do not go to gamble or anything of that kind; no, I am a good man, much better than other people” —there was the poor tax-gatherer, to whose soul God had spoken, and who, instead of looking to find other people as bad or worse, can only say, “God be merciful to me the sinner!” It is not merely “to me a sinner.” For many, many years I have been struck with the great beauty of that expression. “God be merciful to me the sinner, if ever there was one. I know my sins and they are so over-whelming I do not think about others. God be merciful to me the sinner; me only.” That man went down justified rather than the other. It is not what is called “justification by faith"; but it was the right thing that always takes place in a converted soul—self-condemnation before God. And it is the light of Christ, somehow entering, that produces that. And therefore now that the work of Christ is done He is exalted to give repentance and remission of sins to every one that looks to Him.
So that repentance is a gracious work; the very opposite of men having a bad conscience. It was man, at any rate, having his conscience set right to condemn himself. He did not know it yet. He did not know his sins gone—that is the consequence of redemption. That could not be till the work of Christ came in. There might be a looking onward to Christ and His work. Some had a confident hope that the Lord would take their sins away; they did not know how. But now the gospel is the proclamation on the part of God of that which clearly explains and fully accounts for it. “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth from all sin.” We are glad to believe that— “from all sin.” If all our sins are not blotted out none of them are. If one sin is gone they are all gone. It is only through Christ, and never does Christ do a thing in a half or niggardly way, as man does. No; it is complete. Here then Job is simply looking at the terrible state of these bad consciences, and then goes on to his death, and there the worms have their feast; that is all he says about it. And if the wicked are exalted, it is only to go down the more.
Well now we come to Bildad (chap. 25.). And Bildad only barely gives the appearance of a speech. It is a very short one, and it has no kind of application really to Job. They are evidently obliged to give in, and Bildad, the second of them, he it is that now descants upon the glory of God. And it is all perfectly true, and very finely stated too. There is a great deal of what is very beautiful in what Bildad said, only it had no bearing on the matter at all. “Dominion and fear are with him; he maketh peace in his high places.” Yes, but what troubled Job was that he had anything but peace in his low place. There he was in this terrible humiliation and suffering, and he could not tell why it was. “Is there any number of his armies?” That is all very true; was that any comfort to Job, or any answer? “And upon whom doth not his light arise?” Well, there might be an implication that Job was all wrong because he did not enjoy the light, and it was not that Bildad did. The fact is that he was quiet; he was entirely without any trial; and he could therefore talk reasonably, and so far quietly; but he had no understanding of Job.
“How then can man be justified with God?” That is exactly what Job had said in the ninth chapter, so that he was only repeating what Job had said a great deal better than he. Job enters into it in a very full manner, and so strongly that he even puts forth the need of a daysman, i.e., a mediator, between God and man. He had far more spiritual light than any of them. “How can he be clean that is born of a woman?” That again is what Job had already taught. “Behold even to the moon, and it shineth not; yea, the stars are not pure in his sight; how much less man, that is a worm, and the son of man, which is a worm?” That was all true, but had no bearing.
Job answers (chap. 26.), and certainly with quite sufficient keenness, “How hast thou helped him that is without power? How savest thou the arm that hath no strength?” He was like the poor publican, the tax-gatherer. “How hast thou counseled him that hath no wisdom? And how hast thou plentifully declared the thing as it is? To whom hast thou uttered words?” He was talking in the air. “And whose spirit came from thee?” Now he showed that he entered into God's dominion far more fully and extensively than Bildad had admitted. “Dead things are formed from under the waters, and the inhabitants thereof. Hell is naked before him, and destruction hath no covering. He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing” —a very remarkable anticipation of modern discovery. “He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds; and the cloud is not rent under them"-i.e., whether it be the little rain or the great rain, all is under God's control. “He holdeth back the face of his throne,” etc., etc. (vers. 8-13). “Lo, these are parts of his ways” —they are only the fringes of his ways, which would give the idea— “but how little a portion is heard of him?” It is only the whisper that we hear now— “but the thunder of his power” —oh! that is reserved for the day of judgment— “who can understand?”
Well, in the next chapter (27.) would have come the time for Zophar; but although Bildad had very little to say, Zophar had nothing. He is fairly out of the debate; and we shall find that Eliphaz does not return. Job has it now all to himself, and accordingly he gives here what might have been an answer to Zophar, but there was no Zophar to answer—he was silenced. They felt now they were fairly out of court. They began with great vigor; full of confidence that their judgment was a sound one; but Job had completely answered all their foolish talk, and there they were silent. It is not that they were yet convinced that they were wrong; but they do what many people do—they shut up, and have not a word to say, and still are of the same opinion. But God would not allow it to rest there. God brought them out of their hiding place, and pronounced upon them; and it was through Job, as we shall find by and bye, that they were saved, either from a terrible judgment or death itself.
“Moreover Job continued his parable and said, As God liveth, who hath taken away my judgment; and the Almighty, who hath vexed my soul; all the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils; my lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit.” He still stands to it that all their imagination was false. He said now more solemnly than ever—it was a kind of swearing to it—As God liveth this is true. “God forbid that I should justify you.” Now he turns upon them; he says “You are the culprits, not I.” “Till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me. My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go; my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.” They were, on the contrary, imputing what was very bad to him in most of their speeches. “Let mine enemy be as the wicked, and he that riseth up against me as the unrighteous.” That is what he says. ‘It is you that are acting the part of wicked men without knowing it. It is you that are the unrighteous, not I.' “For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul?” It shows that he had a great abhorrence of it—quite as much as or more than they had. “Will God hear his cry when trouble cometh upon him?” Here he describes it to the end of the chapter. ‘Do you think I am going to fight against God in that way?'
“Will he delight himself in the Almighty?” That is what Job did. “Will he always call upon God?” He called upon God even in that terrible distress. “I will teach you by the hand of God: that which is with the Almighty will I not conceal. Behold, all ye yourselves have seen it; why then are we thus altogether vain?” 'You know very well that I have been cleaving to God; you have heard my confession, and why do you impute such a thing as hypocrisy?' “This is the portion of a wicked man with God and the heritage of oppressors, which they shall receive of the Almighty.” And even if they go on and have their children multiplied, it will only be deeper sorrow in the end. “If his children be multiplied, it is for the sword: and his offspring shall not be satisfied with bread,” no matter what he may be appropriating (and so to end of verse 19). This is all totally opposed to their reasoning, and Job rather triumphs over them in this way. “Terrors take hold on him as waters, a tempest stealeth him away in the night. The east wind carrieth him away, and he departeth; and as a storm hurleth him out of his place.”
And now in the next chapter (28.), Which will close to-night, we have a very remarkable addition—one of the most striking in the Book of Job. It seems very abrupt. He now turns away from man altogether in his bad ways, or from vindicating those who really looked to God; and he looks at the general state of mankind. Not any particularly evil class or righteous class.
“Surely there is a vein for the silver, and a place for gold where they fine it.” Gold is not found in veins like silver, it is in quite a different way—very often in the form of dust, and sometimes of nuggets. But silver is found in large and rich veins. “Iron is taken out of the earth, and brass is molten out of the stone.” That is just exactly where copper is found. Where we read “brass” it is very often “copper” —chiefly so in the Bible. “He setteth an end to darkness.” He now gives us a remarkable sketch of mining in very early times. “He setteth an end to darkness, and searcheth out all perfection” —in quest of these precious metals, gold, silver or the like— “the stones of darkness, and the shadow of death,” i.e., he goes down to the depths of the earth after them. “The flood breaketh out from the inhabitant” —water there is very dangerous, and so the great point is to get rid of it safely—to drain it or turn it aside so that they may work their mine. “Even the waters forgotten of the foot.” That is, waters that people do not walk beside; not the rivers and rivulets and the like, but water deep in the earth. “They are dried up; they are gone away from men.” There is the drainage in order to carry it on.
“As for the earth, out of it cometh bread; and under it” —that is deep down in it— “is turned up as it were fire. The stones of it are the place of sapphires” —precious stones as well as these metals— “and it hath dust of gold.” They do not enter into these depths; they go up into the heights, and they traverse all the surface of the earth, but the fowls do not venture into the mines where man goes down. Not even the vulture. The vulture has a keen sight, as we all know, especially for a dead body, and there they are—God's natural scavengers for this poor world of death. “The lion's whelps have not trodden it, nor the fierce lion passed by it.” “He putteth forth his hand upon the rock; he overturneth the mountains by the roots. He cutteth out rivers among the rocks; and his eye seeth every precious thing.” They get a great sensitive understanding of what is worth—not by any means that they are always right. Sometimes the miners in our country have thrown away as rubbish what was quite as valuable as all that their mind was set upon; but as a general rule they learn what is valuable. “He bindeth the floods from overflowing; and the thing that is hid bringeth he forth to light. But where shall wisdom be found?” No, there is no wisdom in all that. There is self in all that. There is what will make a man nch; there is what will bring money and perhaps distinction; but where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding?
Well, it is not on the earth, and it is not down in these mines of darkness where man is so prompt to follow for that which he values. Where is it to be found? “Man knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living.”
What a very solemn thing that is! True wisdom and true understanding not found in the earth at all! It comes down from heaven. It is found only in Christ; and Christ had not yet come; and further, this is what came out still more by Christ's rejection and Christ's death. “Therefore the depth saith, It is not in me.” There are silver and gold in the depth, and other like commodities, and precious stones. “The sea saith, It is not with me.... It is hid from the eyes of all living, and kept close from the fowls of the air.” It is not in the skies as far as they are open to the eye. “Destruction and death say, We have heard the fame thereof with our ears.” Yes, it was just that very thing. There was a report of that One who is Himself wisdom, and who is the giver of wisdom to the meek. It was by death that it came to us, but they did not know it.
“God understandeth the way thereof, and he knoweth the place thereof. For he looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven; to make the weight for the winds.” It was many hundreds, yea, some thousands of years after that when man discovered that the atmosphere had weight. But it did not enter into the philosophy of the philosophers then; they knew nothing about it. Here is mentioned the weight of the wind. “He weigheth the waters by measure,” so that no matter what comes, the sea is never too full. There is always going on, the circle of waters—waters rising up in the form of vapor, and in vast quantities; for the power of the sun acts upon the waters, and there are many tons going up every day. There was a measure for it all, in God's mind. “When he made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder, then did he see it, and declare it; he prepared it, yea, and searched it out. And unto man he said” —there is a wisdom above man— “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” And that is just exactly what is felt when a soul is converted. He may know nothing more than that; he sees how he has been in almost all evil, and he departs from it. A real sight of Christ is enough to do that by the spirit of God, and the fear of the Lord. That is what is abiding even when souls are not occupied with their evil, and speaking of it—the fear of the Lord and departing from evil.
But that is not the same thing as the gospel; it is not the same thing as knowing that all our evil is judged already in Christ's person on the cross, that our sins are completely gone, and that we are brought in as children whiter than snow through the blood of Christ before the eye of God. That is the gospel; and it is after his reception of the word of truth that man receives the Holy Ghost, to delight in it, and to be the witness of it; but enjoying it first. Not to speak unto other people at first; oh, no; that is not the first thing. That is what the vanity of youngsters very often thinks—but to enjoy it with thankfulness and praise of God, and in worship of Him; that is what we come to. That is the true effect of the Spirit of God working. But then there is often a great deal of energy, and people are often more occupied with the wants of other people than with the infallible grace and truth of God. If the Lord will, I hope to continue on next Wednesday evening.
W. K.

The Ark and Obedience

There are two portions of Scripture in which we may see the blessedness of obedience and the sorrow of disobedience, or neglect of obeying. In the second the order is reversed. Paul committed the dear ones he was about to leave (he had told them who the apostolic successors would be) to God and the word of His grace. Oh, that we knew more subjection to that word!
In Joshua 3, when the priests came to the river of Jordan, its waters rolled down to the Dead Sea, and left a passage some miles wide, quite a contrast to the passage of the Red Sea. The waters of judgment are stayed by the ark; all the praise is His! The Jordan crossed, they, in figure, are risen with Christ. On the resurrection side, they get to Gilgal, and there circumcision is carried out, the flesh judged, and their whole confidence is now to be set on the One Who had stayed back the Jordan, and brought them into the promised land.
Let us contrast Egypt with the land. In Numbers 11 they lusted after six things. “We remember” (said they, forgetting the hard bondage) “the fish which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions and the garlic.” They all belonged to Egypt, and they were all low down. Egypt's prosperity depended on the Nile, but they did not know the source of it. The land God brought them into drank water of the rain of heaven. Seven things grew in that land that could be gathered without stooping: “Wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive and honey” (Deuteronomy 8:7). When they were circumcised the manna ceased, and they ate the corn of the land—type of Christ risen.
In Numbers 34 we are told the boundaries of the land; on the north a great mountain—the world and its power; on the east a great river—the world and its prosperity; on the south, a great wilderness—the world and its sterility; on the west a great sea—the world and its lawlessness. It is a type of the land into which we are brought, but there are always contrasts between type and antitype. Abraham could walk through the land, but we get lengths and breadths and depths and heights, immeasurable, “blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” Do we realize and value this? We are already thus blest.
Let us just turn to the prayer of the apostle for these saints (Ephesians 3:16 to 19). The words “length, breadth, depth, and height,” are often applied to the love of Christ, but I do not believe that this is the meaning, for he goes on to say, “and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge.” It is according to the riches of His glory, not from it that He desires they should “apprehend” (not “comprehend") the vastness of all this blessing, and then know the love of Christ.
But Israel had to be warriors, and to fight the Lord's battles in that land; their warfare was against flesh and blood, but ours are far mightier foes, even “principalities and powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, spiritual wickedness in high places,” and we are no match for these in ourselves. God forbid that we should ever trust in ourselves, for we are only earthen vessels. In Ephesians 6 we get our equipment for this warfare. There is never anything lacking on God's side. He has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness. We can always praise Him, though we have so much to mourn over in ourselves. In this armor there is, as has often been pointed out, nothing for the back. Never turn your back on the foe. We are always more than conquerors if our confidence is in the Lord. “Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth.” Let us become acquainted with it; let us hold it tighter: it is strength-giving when we have it tight about ourselves.
“And having on the breastplate of righteousness” —this is practical righteousness. So Paul exercised himself to “always have a conscience void of offense toward God and toward men.”
“Taking the shield of faith” —the Roman shield was generally sufficiently large to cover the whole body. Let us use it well— “wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” Satan cannot touch you if faith is kept up, together with prayer. “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.” It is the very same word in Paul's prayer in chapter one, “the exceeding greatness of His power... which He wrought in Christ.” That power which stayed the Jordan is what these must have who fight these battles.
Jericho was the first obstacle to the Israelites after crossing the Jordan, and the ark goes with them, “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.” On the seventh day the people surrounded the city seven times, and then a great shout went up from those who became “more than conquerors,” for they had spoil. It is when we are obedient that we are strong in the Lord. Then we have the other side, Ai. They fall back on their own understanding, and do not seek the Lord's mind. They only send a few men up and get defeated. They had not on the breastplate of righteousness. They could not cover up the Babylonish garment and the wedge of gold from His eyes. They were not strong in the Lord. They had to be searched and the sin judged, and Achan and his family stoned, before they were clear of the evil in their midst.
Now turn to 1 Chronicles 13; David makes much more of the ark than Solomon. Solomon makes more of the brazen altar, but David is on a higher level. David was always able to turn to the Lord. In his darkest hour, when Zildag was destroyed, he encouraged himself in the Lord. It is a gloomy picture we have of Solomon's old age, but David's last words are very bright. He constantly re-covers. He has a nimbleness of faith, which leads him always to the Lord.
Very often when the Lord has enabled us to shine for Him our darkest hour is at hand. When David had escaped from Saul, he said in his heart, “I shall now one day perish by the hand of Saul": all declension begins in the heart.
Here in 1 Chronicles 13, “David consulted with the captains and with every leader,” a natural thing to do, but he should have sought the Lord's mind first. A sad path is thus begun. He put those first and the Lord last (verse 2). We should always put Him first, and throughout.
We may do a right thing in a wrong way. We all know how before this the Philistines had adopted this course, for they knew no better. They sent the ark home on a new cart. It was very well for them, for God had not given them instructions. Let us beware of human reason. Do not let us be imitators of apparent success. Let us be subject to the word of God, and let us do nothing without it. We get on broad, dangerous, sinful ground if we get away from it. Do not ask, “What does it condemn?” but “What does it enjoin?” “And when they came to the threshing floor of Chidon, Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzza, and He smote him, because he put his hand to the ark and there he died before God.” That could not have occurred if they had not had the new cart. “And David was afraid of God that day, saying, How shall I bring the ark of God home to me?” What a contrast between the experience of Obed-Edom and that of David!
Now we find David was being trained. In chap. 14, “David inquired of God.” This was better than consulting captains, however able. So a breach is made on his enemies, not on Uzza; and again he gets God's mind (verses 8 to 17).
God has said, “I will instruct thee and teach thee.” What a shame if we do not get His guidance! “David did as God commanded him,” so he proved the blessedness of getting His mind and carrying it out.
In the next chapter, having learned his lesson, he can now say, “None ought to carry the ark of God, but the Levites, for them hath Jehovah chosen to carry it.” “For because ye did it not at the first, Jehovah our God made a breach upon us, for that we sought Him not after the due order” (verses 2, 12, 13). What a lesson is this for us! It is not simply to show us David's mistake, but for our sakes also it is written. May we ever seek to do things in “the due order.” There is no failure in the love that gives the light for every circumstance; let us get it. Have we not often been tripped up and led astray by relying on the counsel of others instead of seeking the light of God's word.
“God helped the Levites.” We may sometimes shun that which is not very easy for us by slipping aside from the path of obedience, but oh, what a blessing for them to have His help and power! It led to worship. May this be our portion too.
“And Michal the daughter of Saul... saw king David dancing and playing: and she despised him in her heart.” We may be despised by the world, but what matters if we have the Lord's approval?

A Worldly Sanctuary (Duplicate): Part 2

The worldly sanctuary knew nothing properly of praise. There was no ministry of song pre-scribed by Moses. He could sing with the children of Israel the song of redemption after passing the Red Sea (Exodus 15); but it was grace which had brought them over; they sung the triumph of grace. The worldly sanctuary had not then been ordered. In it there was nothing ever accomplished, and therefore no ground-work of praise. There was the constant repetition of the same services; the worshipper's conscience was un-purged, and hence he could never raise the voice of praise and thanksgiving. We speak of the tabernacle in the wilderness. But few even of the strains of the sweet Psalmist of Israel were adapted to the temple service—that temple was a worldly sanctuary, and its blessings earthly; but the ministry of song went beyond all this, anticipating the full and accomplished blessing. Faith could sing then, only because reaching beyond the then present sanctuary—but faith sings now because in its present sanctuary it finds the themes of everlasting praises. Grace and glory, deliverance and victory, the wondrous salvation of God Himself, are there the subjects of unceasing praise, for their accomplishment is witnessed by the presence there in glory of our Forerunner Himself.
Can that heart be turned to praise which is taught its need of a daily absolution from the lips of another? Can such a soul sing in the Spirit and with the understanding, psalms and hymns and spiritual songs? Can an unpurged conscience praise? Such things are impossible. For is not the very act of worship regarded as a duty required by God, and so rendered under a sense of law, instead of a blessed privilege arising from the perception and enjoyment of mercy from everlasting to everlasting? The apostle teaches us to give thanks to Him “who hath made us meet” for “the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 1). This shows the true ground of thanksgiving and praise to be what grace has accomplished for us in Christ.
But if this is not seen and remembered, worship must become a burden instead of our highest privilege. And do we not see that Christians regard the teaching and preaching with which God blesses them, far more highly than worship? This is a sure consequence of not remembering the sanctuary in which we worship. Let the soul realize this, and it will instantly perceive what are its grounds of praise, and what the character of its worship. But if a worldly sanctuary is established, or the order of a worldly sanctuary is introduced, our worship must be degraded, and our souls become lean. Such results must ensue if we take for our pattern the worldly sanctuary, instead of, by faith and as led of the Spirit, entering into that which is heavenly. There all is done— there we have subject for praise only.
(Concluded from page 110)
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Gethsemane (Duplicate)

Luke 22:44
The state of the heart has more to do than exegesis with the understanding of this passage. Yet important doctrines, or rather facts and truths relative to Christ, are connected with these re-markable verses. I shall try to bring out the position in which the ever-blessed Savior is found here, although the appreciation of the bearing of these verses depends, after all, on the spirituality of the heart. It will be understood that doctrines about Christ are connected with them, when one knows that vers. 43, 44 have been omitted by more than one manuscript, evidently because according to the view taken by the copyists they made Christ too much a man.
Now it is this which gives to these verses their true value: Christ, in the Gospel of Luke, is essen-tially man. We there find Him in prayer much oftener than in the other Gospels. Thus, after His baptism by John, it was whilst He prayed that heaven was opened upon Him; it was whilst He prayed that He was transfigured (chap. 9.). So also He had passed all the night in prayer before choosing the twelve disciples (chap. 6:12). All this is exceedingly interesting, yea, of profound interest for the heart.
But other elements present themselves in the consideration of these verses which are before us. An immense change was taking place at this time in the position of the Savior. Until then He had, by His divine power, provided for all the wants of His disciples, entirely disowned as He was, and in appearance dependent on the kindness of a few women (for it was their particular privilege thus to devote themselves to Him), or of other persons, for His daily bread—if needed, a fish. They brought Him exactly what was necessary to supply His wants. And when He sends His disciples to preach in the cities of the glorious land, He knows how to turn the hearts so that they lacked nothing. But He was to be rejected. The things concerning Him were to receive their divine and wonderful solution, and to be accomplished according to the depth of the counsels of God.
He was going, not to shelter His disciples from every evil, and not to shelter Himself, but to be exposed to the outrages of those who said, “He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.” Christ was not yet drinking the cup of wrath. This was accomplished on the cross: it was there, that which He suffered from the hand of God, supreme and expiatory in its nature. But the moment was come which He Himself described by these words: “This is now your hour, and the power of darkness.” The hour of temptation, not of wrath but of temptation, when the Savior must have thought at the same time of the terrible cup that was before Him. The enemy tried to overwhelm Him by the circumstances, before which human nature, as such, would shrink; and in view of the forsaking of God amidst these circumstances. The Savior entered at this moment into the trial; but He entered into it perfect in every way, receiving the cup in obedience from the hand, of His Father. As to the circumstances, and as to that which weighed upon His soul, Satan and the men under His power were everything: as to the state of His soul, they were nothing; His Father was everything. This is one of the most perfect and profound instructions for all our troubles.
It is to this supreme hour that the apostle John alludes when he says, more than once, when no one touched nor could touch the Lord: “His hour was not yet come.” But I would enter into some further consideration of the character of this hour of temptation. The Lord in His grace deigned, led by the Spirit, to allow Himself to be tempted, having associated Himself with us to take part in our miseries and troubles. Satan tempted Him at the beginning by all that which (sin apart) induces man to act from his own will, that which leads him into sin when he listens to his own will—the need of food, the world and its glory, the promises, outside the path of obedience and in distrust of God and of His faithfulness.
But the Second man maintained His integrity, and Satan could not succeed in making Him depart from the path of the man of God. The strong man was bound and Christ returns, with the power of the Spirit, being untouched in His soul, “to spoil him of his goods.” He delivered all those who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him; He was the man who conquered, gaining the victory over Satan, as the first man had broken down. By the Spirit of God He cast out demons; the kingdom of God was there. All the effects of the dominion of Satan disappeared before Him, even death itself. Alas! this did not change man's heart; who was, in the affections of his flesh, enmity against God. Death was needed for the redemption of man; quite a new state of being, his reconciliation with God; the righteousness of God was to be glorified; the claim that Satan had over man by sin in death and that by the judgment of God, was to be destroyed and annulled. The righteous vengeance of God against that which was hostile to Himself was to be manifested. So that all the ezmity of man against God, all the anguish of death viewed as the power of Satan and the judgment of God, all the energy of Satan, and lastly the wrath of God (and it is in bearing the latter that expiation has been accomplished) were to meet on Jesus, and did meet on the head of the Lamb of God, who opened not His mouth before His oppressors. Terrible testimony showing that the hour of man and of his will is the power of darkness! The hour of God in righteousness for man is but the righteous wrath which abandons Him, and finally excludes from His presence him who is in hostility against Him.
What powerful and infinite proof of grace, that Christ tasted this in His grace; that God gave Him that we might escape it; that Christ tasted it, offering Himself without spot to God for that! Outwardly, the power of Satan and the malice of men led Christ to death and the cup of God's wrath. And it is thus that the perfection of Christ knows how to separate absolutely these two parts of suffering, and to turn the terrible suffering, from the power of Satan in death, into perfect obedience to God His Father, because He passed through that fearful hour of temptation with God, and without entering into it one moment as a temptation which might have for its effect in Him to awaken His own will.
Such is Gethsemane; not the cup, but all the power of Satan in death and the enmity of man taking their revenge (so to speak) on God ("the reproaches of them that reproached thee fell upon me"): all perfectly and entirely felt, but brought to God in an entire submission to His will. It is the Christ—marvelous scene!— watching, praying, struggling in the highest degree; all the power and the weight of death pressed upon His soul by Satan and augmented by the sense He had of what they were before God, from whose face nothing then hid Him. But He always kept His Father absolutely before His face, referring everything to the Father's will, without flinching for a moment, or trying to escape that will by giving way to His own. Thus He takes nothing from Satan or men, but all from God. When He is well assured that it is the will of His Father that He should drink this cup, all is decided for Him. “The cup which my Father hath given, shall I not drink it?” All was between Him and His Father, the obedience is calm and perfect.
What ineffable victory, what supreme calmness! suffering, yea, but between Himself and God! Satan now was as nothing, men were the instruments of the will of God, or the redeemed of His grace. See what happens when they come; Jesus went forth, and when He announced Himself, they fell to the ground. He voluntarily offers Himself to accomplish the work, and thus permits those to go in safety who had no strength to shelter themselves, to subsist in that terrible moment when the triumph of good or of evil was to be decided, and where the righteousness of God against sin lent its force to the power of death and the malice of those who were the voluntary slaves of him who possessed the power of death.
The perfect bond of love has overcome through the subjection of Christ as man to the judgment against sin, by which righteousness can triumph in blessing according to love; the expiation of sin has, been made, and the power of Satan and of death annulled for him who comes to God by Jesus. But Luke 22:39—44 presents to us Christ conscious of that which was to happen, and, as man, occupied in communion with His Father, with this final and decisive trial. Was He to enter into the temptation, that is to say, to yield to a will of His own, even by desiring to escape death and the cup of judgment, or to find an occasion of obedience, instead of sparing Himself? For Him obedience, however terrible the sufferings, was the joy and breathing of His soul.
Not to dread the judgment of God would have been insensibility; to avoid it would have been to fail as to the will of His Father, since for this cause He came to this hour. It would have been to fail as regards the salvation of man, in which the whole character of God revealed itself even to the angels. But here Christ does not draw the character of this moment from elevating and encouraging motives, but He goes through it in entire subjection to the will of God with all the pain attached to it. He prays. Verse 43 puts the question in all its simplicity. An angel appeared to Him to strengthen Him. It is a man having need of help from on high. If He had not been that, it could not have been the deliverance of man.
The pressure of anguish only became stronger on realizing the evil with which He had to do; but this struggling agony of soul is only expressed by more intense prayer. His soul attached itself more strongly to God, and He rises—having perfectly gone through the valley of the shadow of death, the power of Satan, the horror of evil as opposed to God He rises victorious. The cup which His Father would give Him He will drink. Then it will not be a question of struggling, watching, or praying, but of subjection. A perfect calmness marks the cross, a calmness of darkness where man's eye does not penetrate; but the subjection is perfect. Here goes out the cry, “Why hast thou forsaken me?” “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.”
It was perfection, the perfection of suffering; of subjection, but not a struggle, where the soul cleaves to God in order not to enter into the temptation, a temptation—mark it well—not by means of something agreeable, but of all the power of evil, of death, of Satan, who tried to make the Savior shrink from the awful cup which was found on the path of obedience, the cup which produced our salvation, and the glory of Jesus as man. On the cross, in the solemn hour of expiation, all takes place between the soul of Christ and God. In Gethsemane, the Christ, in presence of all the efforts of Satan, cleaves to God so as not to enter into temptation, but follow the path of obedience, low as it brought Him. Now He descended into the lower parts of the earth, alone, forsaken, betrayed, denied, and, lastly, abandoned of God— perfect, victorious, obedient, the Savior of those who obey Him.
And notice here, therefore, that in Gethsemane, infinite as were His sufferings compared with all ours, Christ is an example to us. We have to watch and to pray, to struggle in prayer perhaps, so as not to enter into temptation. Sometimes even, when some affliction comes upon us by our own fault (in Christ no doubt it was the fault of others), it is difficult to submit to the ways of God. It is the same thing when, in one way or another, the path of obedience and of uprightness, the path of life is painful. A more easy path, more verdant to the eyes of the flesh, is to be found by the side of it. Then in our little troubles our portion is that of the Savior, to watch and to pray so as not to enter into temptation. The trying path (see Psalm 16) is the path of life. There God is found; there is the deliverance for His glory and for our own. May God keep us in it! We need His grace, we need sometimes to struggle in the presence of God, to hold good; but He who overcame is with us. And if we have gone through the trouble of circumstances with God, the circumstances themselves will be but the occasion of obedience when in fact they do happen. This is the secret of practical life.
In the expiation, it is evident that Christ was our substitute, and is not our example except in the fact of His perfect subjection. There were doubtless, on the cross, profound sufferings of body and soul, where Christ was a perfect example of patience for us; but in speaking of the cross we are pretty well accustomed, and rightly, to have the moment of expiation before our minds. It is in this sense only that I make a difference, as to the example. It is important in these days to maintain as clearly as possible the idea of substitution where Christ was alone, of suffering in which we had no part but by our sins. One is willing to have Christ as a burnt offering, a Christ who offers Himself (we, by grace, can offer ourselves, we ought to do it); but a Christ who is a sacrifice for sin some often will not have. Are we to suffer for our sins and to bear them? Morally speaking, there is a glory in expiation, in the cross, which is not found even in glory. I shall share the glory of Christ with Him, by the infinite grace which vouchsafed it to me. Could I have shared the cross? The Christian knows what he has to reply. May God teach us in exercises of piety, but may He keep us firm in the simplicity of that faith which rests on a perfect expiation, accomplished by Him who has borne our sins in His own body on the tree!
Hence, to understand Gethsemane, we must understand Christ as man, as He was at the time of His first temptation in the wilderness; then all the power of evil and of death in the hands of Satan, and in presence of the judgment of God in death against sin. If Christ had not gone through that—the horrible bottomless pit, this deep mire, where there was no footing, lay on our path—who could have gone through it? Satan tried to make Christ shrink before the abyss which our sins had opened, to place it between His soul and God. The effect on Him was to make Him draw near with greater intensity of soul to God, to ascertain His will while realizing all the horror of that moment in fellowship with Him, and kthen thus to find therein an occasion of perfect obedience without entering into temptation.
The cup of judgment itself He drank on the cross.
A word on our portion in following His example, if a trial is before us. If it be the will of God that we should pass through a trial, if even we dread it, our wisdom is to present ourselves before God, and to place all before His eyes. There may be anguish; that in which the will in us has not been broken will be laid bare. When we would avoid the temptation because it is painful, that is, spare ourselves instead of yielding the fruits of righteousness, instead of submitting ourselves to it for the good of our souls, and for the glory of God, the evil path of selfishness which the heart tries to take, becomes evident; we choose “iniquity rather than affliction.” When these exercises are sent for the development of grace, grace is developed, God working with the trial in the soul. When it is discipline, positive chastisement, and the soul submits—receives the discipline from the hand of God, the discipline has lost its bitterness and borne its fruit. In it God is all in holiness for the soul. I do not desire that one should anticipate evil, but that, when the evil is in view, one may pass through it with God and not with man—that one may watch and pray so as not to enter into temptation.
“And when he was at the place, he said to them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's throw, and having knelt down, he prayed saying, Father, if thou wilt, remove this cup from me—but then, not my will, but thine be done.”
It was, indeed, no wonted occasion even for Him, but the awful moment of the enemy's return, who had departed for a season after his old defeat in the wilderness. But this garden was to behold an equally decisive defeat of the enemy as became the Second man, the Lord from heaven. It was no longer Satan seeking to draw away from the path of obedience by what was desirable in the world (Luke 4). He sought now, if he could not drag Jesus out of the path of obedience, to fill Him with alarm and to kill Him in it. But Jesus shrank from no suffering and weighed before God all that was before Him. He watched and prayed and suffered being tempted. The disciples failed to pray and entered into temptation, so that nothing but grace delivered them.
The Holy Spirit does not give us the detail of the three prayers of the Lord as in Matthew, but rather a summary of all in one. In both we see His dependence in prayer and His tried but perfect submission to the will of His Father. Here, however, we have what is characteristic of our Evangelist, both in the angelic succor which was sent Him and in the bloody sweat that ac companied His conflict. It is well known that many Fathers (Greek and Latin) have cast a doubt upon verses 43, 44. “and an angel appeared to him from heaven strengthening him. And being in conflict he prayed more intently, and his sweat became as clots of blood falling down upon the earth.” Several of the more ancient MSS. indeed also omit them, as the Alexandrian, Vatican, and others, beside ancient versions; but they are amply verified by external witnesses, and the truth taught has the closest affinity to the line which Luke was given to take up. The true humanity and the holy suffering of the Lord Jesus stand out here in the fullest evidence.
Here again, however, observe that the suffering differs essentially from atonement. For not only does He speak out of the full consciousness of His relationship with the Father, but He has also the angelic help which would have been wholly out of season when forsaken of God because of sin-bearing. All was most real. It is not meant that His sweat fell merely like great drops of blood, but that it became this as it were, that is, the sweat was so tinged with blood, which exuded from Him in His conflict that it might have seemed pure blood. “And rising up from his prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping from grief. And he said to them, Why sleep ye? Rise up and pray that ye enter not into temptation.”

Scripture Query and Answer: Reign of Christ

Q.-Can it be shown from Scripture that when the reign of Christ over the earth is finally established, there will be none of mankind living in the world but such as have been born of the Spirit?
C. Cox
A. Does not Revelation 20:7-9 supply the answer? For the expiration of the millennial reign of Christ reveals the solemn fact that, in spite of the universal knowledge of the glory of Jehovah (Habakkuk 2:14) the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth fall under the deceptive power of Satan, then loosed out of his prison, who succeeds in gathering them to battle against the camp of the saints and the beloved city—Jerusalem, God's holy mountain.
With the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, a new covenant will have been made, and “they all shall know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith Jehovah: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:31-34). Compare also Ezek. 36; 37. They shall be all righteous and shall inherit the land forever, the branch of His planting, the work of His hands, that He may be glorified.
As regards the Gentiles, all flesh shall see the glory of Jehovah, but the nation and kingdom that will not serve Israel shall perish, they shall be utterly wasted (Isaiah 60:12). “Whoso will not come up ["from year to year"] of the families of the earth to Jerusalem to worship the King, Jehovah of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain.” “Jehovah shall smite the nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.” This shall be the “punishment [or sin] of all the nations that come not up” (Zechariah 14:16-19).
Whilst, therefore, Israel will be a “holy nation,” not so the nations universally. Righteousness wilt reign, and evil be suppressed; non-existent it will hardly be, else how can we understand (the margin of) Psalm 18:44, “sons of [the] stranger shall yield feigned obedience to me;” also Psalm 66:3, “Through the greatness of thy power shall thine enemies yield feigned obedience to thee"? And of the children of the righteous born during this period of universal blessedness, how can we assume that they would be all born of God? —that they necessarily grow up to walk (as did not the sons of Samuel—remarkable man as he was) in their father's ways? On the contrary, we see judgment falling during, and at the end of, the thousand years, disclosing conclusively that not all are converted, whatever may have been the case at the beginning of the reign. Does not Isaiah 65:20 show that the man who filled not his days was cut off, because he was a sinner? For there will be no death during the thousand years except as the result of open sin; death will be swallowed up in victory (Isaiah 25:8).
We thus learn that no outward circumstances avail for the conversion of the soul. There must be an inward work of the word and Spirit of God. The mighty works of our blessed Lord in favored Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum failed to work repentance in these cities! So in the millennium, with all its manifested power and glory and knowledge increased, the heart of man remains unchanged, unless the subject of divine grace. There must be a new birth, and this cannot be apart from repentance and faith.


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Lectures on Job 29-32

Lecture 8 Chaps. 29-31
This is the beginning of Job's last argument. The friends were quite silenced; he now makes his final confutation; and, indeed, it is more an appeal than an argument, for he rises above all that they had been pleading and insinuating.
Here he gives us in these chapters 29-31 a very interesting pouring out of his feelings. The first of these chapters reviews his early days of prosperity, and we can see the very great complacency that he had in all that grace had wrought in him. But, alas! there was another thing that ought not to have been. He took pleasure in his good character. He was therefore in spirit too much of a Pharisee. “I thank thee that I am not as other men.” It was not but that there was great grace in Job, and that there was a very admirable character sustained; but why should he talk about it? why should he think upon it? why should he not think of the source of all the blessing? Why should he not be boasting in the Lord—instead of an implied boasting in himself? There was the very thing that God had a controversy with. And we see that up to this time Job had not got; to the bottom of that which God was ferreting out. Satan had completely disappeared. He is always defeated with the children of God. He may appear to gain a battle, but the campaign is always against him; and so it is very marked in the case of Job.
But the second of these three chapters looks at his downfall; that is the great topic that is in it. He bemoans his terrible state; and up to the present he could not withhold the expression that he thought God dealt hardly with him, and was arbitrary. He could not understand His ways in the slightest degree; nor did he take in the motive that God had—the gracious purpose. In short, he had not reached the end of the Lord, because he had not done with himself. That is the real secret of it.
And the next chapter—the last of his appeal—is a most impassioned setting himself before God, and implicating judgments on himself. So thoroughly was his conscience good, that he goes over all the various snares of a man, and especially a man of position and wealth like Job; because that always increases the danger, and always makes the difficulty more. There is no greater mistake than to suppose that poverty is the hard place in which to serve God. On the contrary, it is when people are no longer poor, and no longer feel the need of continual dependence upon God—when they begin to be independent—for the world is not ashamed to call it that. I am sorry to say that Christians even drop into the language and the spirit of the world. Job calls solemn judgments upon himself—looking at the various snares—if he had been guilty in this or that or the other and so on-and the upshot of it all is that “The words of Job are ended.”
We have no more of Job now in the way of self-defense. We shall find a very interesting new speaker on which I may say a few words on the next chapter to-night. But now, first of all, Job says: “Oh, that I were as in months past.” Now it is always a bad sign when people look back to dwell on the past. Are people not to grow? Are children of God merely to be occupied with the immense favor of God? No doubt it is very true that one is plucked out of the teeth of Satan; but what is that compared with the positive knowledge of God? It is a great thing for us; but is not the knowledge of God infinitely greater than merely the action of divine grace in rescuing a poor wretched sinner? It is an admirable thing for the sinner always to feel it; but it is a sad thing when he looks back to it as the brightest of all things. Why, that means he has been making no progress at all; it means that he has been all these years afterward looking back upon that as the divine moment. Surely divine life ought to be a growing enjoyment; and the more so as you know of Christ and of God—I am speaking now to Christians, of course.
But even for Job God never left himself without witness—and God always met the souls that really walked with Him. Who can doubt but that Enoch walked with God, and do you suppose that Enoch looked back at the first glimpse he had of God, and would say he knew God by that? No, far from it, and shame on all people who talk such language. I do not deny that it is the language of many a Christian, but that is the most sorrowful thing now—that Christians forget what it is to be a Christian. They only think of the moment of becoming a Christian, and they seem to think that that is the great thing. No doubt it is passing the border, but it is certainly not going into the brightness beyond it. Where is the feast; where is the joy of the Father; where is the best robe, and all the other accompaniments? Is that nothing? Well, that was after. And that is what in an image presents us with the positive place of blessing. The “grace wherein we stand” —not merely the grace that rescued us, but the grace wherein we stand. It is a continual place of grace to be enjoyed more and more as we learn more of God and judge ourselves. But there is where Job failed. Job admired himself. And so he looks back. “Oh, that I were as in months past.” God was going to do far better. It is true that Job went through very severe sifting, but that was all for his good; and more than that, it was for your good and my good, and the good of every believer that has ever profited by this book since God had it written down. It was meant for the blessing of all. It was not intended that there should be perhaps another man to go through the same. God has His economy of good; God has His reserve of grace; God was pleased that one should have had a, very broad back to bear the trial. We have heard of the patience of Job; but that is the very thing wherein he broke down, so that he became impatient at last even with God. And the reason was because he was not yet an utterly broken man—he was given to knowing about himself.
Oh, how very rarely one finds a saint of God even now what every saint of God ought to be; but it is a rare thing even among Christian people. “As in the days when God preserved me; when His candle shined upon my head, and when by His light I walked through darkness; as I was in the days of my youth.” Why, that is a strange thing— “my youth.” No getting on with God in his maturity or in his old age! What was Job about? “When the Almighty was yet with me, when my children were about me.” Was not He with him then? That is just what he did not see or know. “Whom He loveth He chasteneth"; and that is one of the great lessons of the Book of Job. I admit it was terrible chastening. And that is where the friends were all wrong; it was so terrible that they thought it was retributive, and that it was impossible for a person to suffer to such an extreme degree unless he had been extremely wicked. And what made it worse was that he looked so good, and therefore they thought he must be a hypocrite. There they were completely wrong; and the consequence was that they had to go down lower than Job, and that Job had to pray for them that they might be spared. And this he did. But, however, I anticipate what we will have another day.
“When I washed my steps with butter” —of course it is not literal— “and the rock poured me out rivers of oil.” You see that petroleum is an old affair in this world! “When I went out to the gate through the city, when I prepared my seat in the street! The young men saw me, and hid themselves; and the aged arose, and stood up.” All that was exceedingly pleasant to Job. And we are apt to think so too—there is nothing, they say, that succeeds like success, and there is not a more wicked maxim or one more entirely contrary to God; nothing more thoroughly denying that we are now in the place of suffering, and of being despised and rejected for Christ's sake. But that is a worldly maxim, and it is just what the world delights in. Men will praise you if you do well to yourself, that is, if you are successful—make a good fortune, and have nice dinner parties, and so on. “The princes refrained talking, and laid their hand on their mouth.”
Now one of the beautiful features about Job was that he did not pretend to be noble, and he did not seek to be a prince. He was like a king in the nobility of his character—what a king ought to be—he was truly noble in his ways; and all that would have been admirable if he had not said or thought; for that is the important point. “Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.” It does not mean that other people do not know it, but the wrong is that our left hand should know what our right hand does, i.e., we ought not to think about it. It is done to God; and it is merely returning a very little interest for the wonderful capital for the spiritual capital that the Lord has put in our power.
Here you see it was not so. Job was highly pleased, and took great pleasure in the world thinking so much of him. “When the ear heard me, then it blessed me” now he is looking at what you may call the objects of his kindness and love. For there was both kindness and love in Job. “And when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me.” He was referring to the people that had been helped out of their manifold afflictions. “Because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him.” And that was really true. God delighted in Job; that was all right; and he found at last that God did delight in him, but he did not find that till after the trial. He was buoyed up and raised above the ordinary occupations of men by the homage that was paid him and the perception of his exceeding kindness. All that lifted him up. Well, that is a very natural thing; but it is not spiritual; and it is the very thing that God was putting down severely in him; much more so than in a very inferior man. The greatest trials that God inflicts are upon the strongest, those that are able to bear them. Those that know most of His ways—they come in for it. And that was the case with Job.
“The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me; and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy. I put on righteousness, and it clothed me” —that was very true, and he looked at his clothing too— “my judgment was as a robe and a diadem.” Yes, very pleased was Job. “I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame. I was a father to the poor; and the cause which I knew not I searched out. And I brake the jaws of the wicked, and plucked the spoil out of his teeth. Then I said, I shall die in my nest.” No, no; God was going to disturb that nice nest of his that was so warm and comfortable. “And I shall multiply my days as the sand.” Why, he had been very desirous that God should cut short his days; for that was the only way that he saw out of all the trouble he was passing through. “My root was spread out by the waters, and the dew lay all night upon my branch. My glory was fresh in me, and my bow was renewed in my hand. Unto me men gave ear, and waited, and kept silence at my counsel. After my words they spake not again; and my speech dropped upon them. And they waited for me as for the rain; and they opened their mouth wide as for the latter rain. If I laughed on them, they believed it not” it is too good to be true— “and the light of my countenance they cast not down. I chose out their way, and sat chief, and dwelt as a king in the army, as one that comforteth the mourners.”
You cannot be surprised that the Jews were the first rationalists; they were the higher critics of a former day. They did not believe that it was a true story the philosophic Jews—they did not believe that. How far it penetrated the synagogue generally we cannot say. I presume there were simple-hearted men that fully believed every word of it. But one of the great reasons why the Jews did not accept this history was that Job was not a Jew. “Oh! that cannot be; why, they are all dogs. Everybody but a Jew is a dog.” And the idea that God did not say it of Abraham that he was of such integrity that there was nobody like him in all the earth—nor of Isaac, nor of Jacob! No, this they could not believe. They knew that it was of a patriarch of those days, and therefore they were dead set against the possibility of such a thing as God extolling one who was not of the chosen race, one of the family and of the nation that had the promise.
What is it that makes people higher critics? It is that they prefer their own thoughts to the word of God. That is what it is to be an unbeliever; and if it is carried out thoroughly you are an infidel; you are a lost man. I presume that these Jews fully held to the other books of the Bible. It is to be presumed so. Perhaps they did not like some others. I can understand their no more liking the prophecy of Jonah being given to a Gentile city than that Jonah liked to be the prophet sent there. He did everything to turn away from it; and when God told him to go east he went west. When he was told to go to Nineveh he took a ship at Joppa to go west—just in the very opposite direction.
Well, now, in the next chapter (30.) we have a totally different story. Job now says, “But now they that are younger than I have me in derision.” You can suppose how very painful that was to a man that had been living a good deal upon the witness of these grand deeds and the high opinions of him, and the humbler classes, for once in a way, being entirely along with the grandees. For at times they do truly love to differ. “Whose fathers I would have disdained to have set with the dogs of my flock.” Ah! Job, you can be cutting; you can strike deep if you are so disposed. He would not have set their fathers with the dogs of his flock! Just think of it. And he gives his reason. He says, “Yea, whereto might the strength of their hands profit me?” Job was a wise man, and if he had servants he had servants that could do their duty. But as very often happens with the most miserable of the world, they are weak, and unable to do a good day's work, nor a good hour's work. Whatever they do, they do in a manner that is enough to provoke any person to look at them. And so he says, “For want and famine they were solitary; fleeing into the wilder-ness in former time desolate and waste. Who cut up mallows by the bushes, and juniper roots for their meat. They were driven forth from among men (they cried after them as after a thief)” —they were most disreputable, and Job would not have had one of them on any account to serve him. He would be very willing to give them food if they were hungry; and if they had no clothing he would surely have abounded even then. But he felt it very much that these men should mock him, and should do everything to deride his sufferings, and not only that with these men in general, but that the young men tried to trip up his tottering steps! For you know the soles of his feet were intolerable—from head to foot not only was every nerve, as it were, active, but the very worms were beginning to prey upon him while he was alive, through all the sores that were open. It was a most awful case.
Yet what is that compared with moral suffering? Do you suppose the apostle Paul did not suffer much more severely than with any bodily trouble? He suffered from false brethren a great deal. And I think he must have suffered from true brethren very often—perhaps even more, but in a different way. “To dwell in the cliffs of the valleys, in caves of the earth, and in the rocks. Among the bushes they brayed.” He will not allow that they talked—they brayed. “Under the nettles they were gathered together. They were children of fools, yea, children of base men” i.e. of fathers that had not a name themselves— “they were viler than the earth, And now am I their song; yea, I am their byword. They abhor me.” Think of that—these words were all true. “They flee far from me.” They could not bear to look at him—at the agony, and the terrible effect of all these sores on his body. They could not go near him. “And spare not to spit in my face. Because he hath loosed my cord.” There was after all what grieved the heart of poor Job more than anything. It was God. He does not mean the devil; it was not the devil. “Because He hath loosed my cord, and afflicted me” (and so to end of verse 16).
You see there is no reference to his three friends now. He is looking really at this tremendous trial that afflicted his body, and that exposed him to all this disrespect and contempt of the very lowest creatures on the face of the earth. “My bones are pierced in me in the night season; and my sinews take no rest. By the great force of my disease is my garment changed; it bindeth me about as the collar of my coat.” Look at the pain all that would occasion. “He hath cast me into the mire, and I am become like dust and ashes. I cry unto thee and thou dost not hear me.” But God did hear him. There was a reason why He did not answer; but God did hear. “I stand up, and thou regardest me not. Thou art become cruel to me.” There he was quite wrong. “With thy strong hand thou opposest thyself against me. Thou liftest me up to the wind: thou causest me to ride upon it and dissolvest my substance. For I know that thou wilt bring me to death” —there he was wrong again. God had good things in store for Job. “And to the house appointed for all living. Howbeit he will not stretch out his hand to the grave, though they cry in his destruction. Did not I weep for him that was in trouble? Was not my soul grieved for the poor?” he goes back to that. “My harp also is turned to mourning, and my organ into the voice of them that weep.”
Well, there is a third chapter (31.) to which we now come, very distinct from either of these, and this is his final appeal to God. This is all said not so much to his friends as to God; but he still was harping upon the past in the first of these chapters; then upon the present misery; now he appeals solemnly to God, and in the presence of them all.
“I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid? For what portion of God is there from above? and what inheritance of the Almighty from on high?” None whatever for a corrupt man, to take advantage of another. “Is not destruction to the wicked? and a strange punishment to the workers of iniquity? Doth not he see my ways” —he was a thoroughly pious believing man— “and count all my steps? If I had walked with vanity, or if my foot hath hasted to deceit, let me be weighed in an even balance that God may know mine integrity.” He had a perfectly good conscience, but that is not enough. There is the great principle of self-judgment; there is the grand principle also of entire submission to God and vindicating Him—that He is right and wise in all, not only in what He does, but in what He allows. It is all for good. It may be very bad on the part of others, as it was on the part of Job's friends, but God had a good purpose for Job in it all.
“If my step hath turned out of thy way,” etc., etc. (vers. 1-12). It is clear that Job was a most blameless man in his conduct, and even in the state of his heart. “If I did despise the cause of my manservant, or of my maidservant” —he now goes to other duties— “when they contended with me, what then shall I do when God riseth up? and, when he visiteth, what shall I answer him?” etc. (vers. 13-23). “If I have made gold my hope” —now he turns to a third kind of snare— “or have said to the fine gold, Thou art my confidence; If I rejoiced because my wealth was great” —and how many do— “and because mine hand had gotten much,” etc., it was not inherited merely; but it was acquired by his own industry and God's particular blessing upon him.
Now he looks at another thing quite different— “If I beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in brightness,” i.e. in the way of any adoration; in bowing down to the sun or moon, which was the earliest form of idolatry. We do not hear of Baals or Ashtoreths or any of the disreputable vanities and wickedness of heathen objects of worship; but here was a work of God of the highest nature, but no leaning to it in any way — “and my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed my hand” —even the slightest form of acknowledging the creature! — “this also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge: For I should have denied the God that is above.” There we have very sound doctrine. “If I rejoiced at the destruction of him that hated me, or lifted up myself when evil found him” a very common snare for people. They have a little pleasure when their adversaries come to grief, or are troubled. “Neither have I suffered my mouth to sin by wishing a curse to his soul. If the men of my tabernacle said not, Oh, that we had of his flesh! we cannot be satisfied. The stranger did not lodge in the street; but I opened my doors to the traveler. If I covered my transgressions as Adam, by hiding mine iniquity in my bosom: did I fear a great multitude” —you observe he was perfectly acquainted with the very interesting and profitable story of Adam's fall. There we have just what anyone now, looking back with the light of Christ even, sees. There was the great sin of Adam. Instead of humbling himself to God, and going to meet God to tell Him how he had disgraced himself, Adam hid himself away; and the clothing that he put upon him showed that he was no longer innocent.
“Oh, that one would hear me!” Now here is Job's final appeal. “Behold my desire is, that the Almighty would answer me” —Job wanted to hear His voice about it— “and that mine adversary had written a book. Surely I would take it” —if anyone that wished him ill laid charges— “I would take it,” he says, “upon my shoulder, and bind it as a crown to me” —because he was confident that it was false. “I would declare unto him,” i.e. unto the Almighty; it would seem possibly “the adversary” — “the number of my steps; as a prince would I go near unto him.” I think it is “to the Lord.” “If my land cry against me, or that the furrows likewise thereof complain; If I have eaten the fruits thereof without money, or have caused the owners thereof to lose their life: Let thistles grow instead of wheat, and cockle instead of barley. The words of Job are ended.”
Well, it was very magnificent; as it had been a justification of himself. But it was a great mistake as to the secret of God's dealings with Job, and accordingly a new interlocutor appears. We have not heard of him. It is a remarkable indication of primitive habits and feelings. He was a young man. And this absence of any notice taken of him is just in the spirit of olden manners. And he shows that he perfectly enters into it himself, and in no way complains of it. Elihu, however, was a man put forward by God, to bring to naught the pride of age and experience, observation and tradition. Because there you have what belonged to each of those friends. They were old men, and they were proud of their place. And Eliphaz, as we know, was a man that strongly stood upon the judgment and feeling of public opinion—of pious men, no doubt, but, after all, it was only men's. And one of the wonderful ways of God is this: that no tradition can ever meet present circumstances. The same facts even may occur; but they are in a different light, and the circumstances modify them enormously, and all that has to be taken into account.
Who, then, is sufficient for these things? Our sufficiency is of God. There is the need of dependence upon God. You cannot pile up wisdom in that way for divine things. It is all very fair in science, or knowledge, or art, or literature, or anything of that kind; but it is nothing in the things of God. Zophar seems to be more confident in himself than in anybody. And Bildad was one between the two. He was a man of keen observation and good power of expression. But, however that might be, all had failed, and now Elihu comes forward.
“So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes” (chap. 32.). That was their idea, and there was some truth in it. “Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram.” He belonged to the family of Nahor, the brother of Abraham. He was not properly one of the chosen family, but he was closely connected, like Laban and others. He belonged to another branch. “Against Job was his wrath kindled, because he justified himself rather than God.” Well, that was true. He did justify himself. The last chapter which we have just read is self-justification from beginning to end. It was quite true, as a matter of fact, but was entirely improper in a question of God's dealings, and why this great affliction had come upon him. “Also against his three friends was his wrath kindled, because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job.” What was it that hindered these three friends from understanding him? The same thing that hindered Job—self. Self was not judged. Self is one of the greatest difficulties in the way of a Christian—in the way of a sinner of old, and now still among Christians.
“Now Elihu had waited till Job had spoken, because they were older than he.” Well, that was very proper. “When Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, then his wrath was kindled.” Why? It was not for himself at all. He was displeased with them all for God's sake. “And Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite answered and said, I am young, and ye are very old; wherefore I was afraid, and durst not show you my opinion. I said, Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom” —and so it should be. “But there is a spirit in man” —there is something higher than experience— “there is a spirit in man” —it is the highest part of man's nature. The body is the outward vessel, and the soul is that which makes a man to be a man. Every man has his own spirit, but soul is that which may be in common among men. For instance, John the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elias. He could not come in the soul of Elias. Everybody comes in his own soul; that is the seat of individuality. But spirit is a man's capacity. You might find half a dozen men with the same capacity; and we say sometimes, “That man spoke like a Luther; that man wrote like a Calvin; that man was as earnest in his work as John Wesley; that man was as diligent in preaching as Charles Spurgeon” —and so on. The spirit of these different men might be similar in other men, but it is that which gives them their particular power (or character). But the soul and spirit go together so closely that no human wit can ever distinguish between them; they are so welded together, being of a spirit nature. When a man dies, his soul goes up and his spirit too; they both go up; they go up together necessarily.
And so then it is that we can understand that there is a spirit in man. Spirit is expressive of spiritual capacity, and that is not to be measured by the question of experience. A man might have much more spiritual capacity who was young. That was the case with Elihu. And he says, “The inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.” It was God that breathed into man the breath of life; and in that breath of life there was not only the soul but the spirit; and that is the reason why man alone has an immortal soul. God never breathed into a horse or a dog, or any other animal on the earth, but only into man; therefore, man's soul and spirit are immortal. But it may be immortal in hell, or it may be blessedly immortal in heaven! It does not deprive a man of his being a sinner, nor of his bearing the consequences of it; neither, on the other hand, does it deprive him—still less—of receiving eternal life from the Lord Jesus. Then there is another life given to him. “Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment.” Far from it. “Therefore I said, Hearken to me; I also will show mine opinion. Behold, I waited for your words; I gave ear to your reasons, whilst ye searched out what to say.” He never ventured to interrupt; he never said one word.
Sometimes people are astonished to find this young man coming forward, after not only the three friends were silent, but Job too. Then he speaks, and he apologizes in these words that I now read. That is all that I am noticing tonight. “Behold, I waited for your words; I gave ear to your reasons, whilst ye searched out what to say. Yea, I attended unto you, and, behold, there was none of you that convinced Job, or that answered his words.” And that was perfectly true. “Lest ye should say, We have found out wisdom.” He saw that it was a question of God. They had not really brought in the true God as He is. “God thrusteth him down, not man.” That is what Job had said. So far, Job was far more right than his friends. “Now he hath not directed his words against me.” So he says—I am in a position to be able to speak dispassionately. If he had attacked me because of anything I had said it might seem self-vindication. But here I must speak for God, young as I am. “Neither will I answer him with your speeches.” They were entirely powerless. “They were amazed, they answered no more: they left off speaking” (vers. 1-15). He was full of indignation that they went on still blaming Job, and could not convince him of anything wrong. They had entirely missed their way. “I will speak, that I may be refreshed: I will open my lips and answer. Let me not, I pray you, accept any man's person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man. For I know not to give flattering titles; in so doing my maker would soon take me away” (vers. 16-22).
And there we may leave it for the present. If the Lord will, we shall have the rest of Elihu's admirable address, where he touches the real roots of the question for the first time—an interpreter who was one of a thousand, as he says himself, though not referring to himself.
W. K.

Address on John 13-14

What a blessed thing to be one of the Lord's very own! How we are valued by Him! Firstly, “Thine they were and Thou gavest them Me.” How can we measure the preciousness of such a gift? Secondly, redeemed with His precious blood—His own that way. And thirdly, His own as sealed by the Spirit! How blessed to think of ourselves as His own in this threefold way! And it is very blessed too to think of His love which never gives up its object.
Not “supper being ended,” but “supper being come,” or “during supper” (Ver. 2). The thought of betraying the Lord had already been instilled into Judas' heart, but Satan had not yet taken possession of him What a contrast between Peter's love at the beginning, and his love at the end of this chapter! Poor, impetuous Peter!
What a break-down must ensue when pressure is brought to bear, if we are trusting to our own love! But there was all the difference between Peter and Judas. The latter was an apostle and a disciple, but he was not born again. Peter, on the contrary, was truly born of God, besides being an apostle; and as he had, so have we, a nature with the character of righteousness and true holiness.
What a wonderful display of grace we get in vers. 3, 4. This action of the Lord was typical; they did not understand it then, but He intimated they would know hereafter, not when they got to heaven, but when the Spirit of truth came who should guide into all the truth. To most of us it brings Philippians 2 to mind. For the Lord Jesus never gave up His Godhead, but He did lay aside His glory He unrobed Himself. Is it not the Servant we see here? And does not love delight to serve? It does, and He makes it manifest.
Vers. 5-8: The Lord was here, and in His marvelous grace had part with the disciples; but now He was going to be the absent one, and He wanted them to have part with Him; and (as often with us also) Peter's mistakes are used to bring out truth. Vers. 9: I understand three words are translated “washing"; one having reference to inanimate things, nets, robes, etc.; another, to bathing of the whole person; and the third, to washing a part of the body, such as the hands or the feet. The first word here is “bathed.” This is the action of the word by the Spirit of God in cleansing us from sin's defilement. “Ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” This is not expiation, which is by blood, but purification; and, thank God, we are clean, every whit, through the operation of His precious word when we were born again. But walking through this world our feet are exposed to defilement. Our blessed Lord, on the contrary, was “the undefiled One in the way.” Also, we are often defiled in our walk, and we need the service of that blessed One, “Who loved the church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it by the washing of water by the word; and that He might present it to Himself a glorious church without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.” There we have His love, past, present, and future. Meanwhile, He desires that we have part with Him, and this is communion, to be enjoyed day by day. What interrupts communion is defilement contracted down here. The Lord's service as Priest is to hinder our sinning; but His advocacy is for us should we have sinned. We need Him as both, and we need to have our feet cleansed constantly. Only One can do it, and He does it in His own wonderful love.
Verse 11: Then He refers to His own example, and shows that we should wash one another's feet.
I was thinking of the continuity of the Lord's service—until we are in a scene where the place of the laver is taken by the sea of glass—consolidated purity.
Chap. 14:1-2: “I would have told you,” that is, He would have corrected any false hopes. Verse 3: We cannot measure the comfort of these words to the saints. But that is not all the comfort. We have been reminded of the presence of the Holy Ghost. Let us dwell on vers. 15, 16. Whilst here the Lord Himself was their Comforter or Paraclete. And He had kept them. Now He was about to leave them, and would send them another Comforter—the Holy Ghost. The world would not receive the Lord when here; they cannot receive the Spirit, for He was never presented as an object. He is here not to speak from Himself as a source, but to testify of the Lord Jesus. “Ye know Him, for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” That is, I take it, the contrast between both Comforters—the Lord was only here for a little while; the Spirit abides till we are conducted to the glory.
Verses 19, 20: “Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me; because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.” We should not have had this if the Holy Ghost was not here. We are in that blessed One up there: “He that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit.” Before the world it is “I in you"; and that is the secret of our being able to say in any little way, “for me to live is Christ.”

The Use of Wine

Now as to the use of wine. There is nothing like getting down to foundation principles: for often a false doctrine is working, concealed amidst religiousness, and there is nothing more handy for Satan to use than false principles so disguised.
First, it was remarkable that our Lord's first miracle performed in the world was turning water. into wine, at a wedding feast. Strange fact for teetotalers! How contrary to ascetic religion is such an act the last thing that a religious man would think of. Man's religion is “Handle not, taste not, touch not,” and these “commandments and doctrines of men” have indeed an “appearance of wisdom,” but meet with unsparing condemnation in Colossians 2.
Second, drinking wine is an essential part of Christian testimony, specifically enjoined in the Lord's Supper. This would certainly not be the case, if the drinking of wine were an evil in itself.
Third, notice that the blessed Lord entered heartily into the social life of the people, not banning their meat and drink, and receiving, in consequence, the reproach of His enemies, “Behold a... winebibber” (Matthew 11:19).
Fourth, wine was used at the Paschal Feast, with the Lord's express sanction; and though, for special reasons in His own case, He did not then partake of it Himself, He told the apostles all to drink of it; and this was not ceremonial, as it related to the earlier cup which was part of the feast, not to the one after supper out of which He instituted the Eucharist.
Fifth, the banning from use of God's creatures is condemned in Colossians 2, already referred to (see also 1 Timothy 4:3-7).
Sixth, the use of wine when specially required is apostolically recommended to the servant of the Lord in 1 Timothy 5:23, and that, notwithstanding that the abuse of wine was not unknown in the Christian community in which he was (see chap. 3:3, 8).
Seventh, though there are abundant references to wine in the New Testament, it is in no case prohibited. Excess is denounced: but even in the detailed qualifications for bishops and deacons, while wine is mentioned, its abuse only is deprecated. The proper use of wine is, in the New Testament, not even discountenanced.
SO FAR FOR THE NEW TESTAMENT. We have there, both in Gospels and Epistles, a body of testimony which is dead against prohibition. There is no resisting it, if one is subject to Scripture.
The voice of THE OLD TESTAMENT is equally pronounced and decisive. Wine is mentioned there as under God's blessing one of the marks of His favor to Israel— “He will love thee and bless thee... He will also bless thy corn and thy wine and thine oil” (Deuteronomy 7:13).
It was daily offered to Jehovah in the temple— “In the holy place shalt thou cause the strong wine to be poured unto Jehovah for a drink offering” (Numbers 28:3, 7). The scriptures in which, as a special earthly blessing it is spoken of, are too numerous to quote, but take the following, Deuteronomy 11:14; 33:28.
Israel is reproached with not having recognized that her wine came from Jehovah (Hosea 2:9).
It is to be a millennial blessing (Hosea 2:21, 22).
Melchisedec, king of Salem, brought forth bread and wine for Abram, and Mephibosheth's servant brought wine to David (Gen. 14:18; 2 Samuel 16:1).
Psalm 104 tells us that it is Jehovah Who maketh the herb to grow— “for the service of man; bringing forth bread out of the earth, and wine which gladdeneth the heart of man” (vers. 14, 15).
It is pretty evident that God does not frown upon the use of wine. And so in other passages. The burden of Scripture testimony is that wine is one of God's good gifts to man, intended by its proper use to cheer, help and invigorate him.
I do not here refer to the Scriptural denunciations of excess, which are abundant, particularly in the Prophets; nor to all that we know of its evils, because that is not the subject in question. What is now under consideration, is not the abuse of wine, but its use; and Paul, contrary to all ascetic notions, instructs Timothy that, “Every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if received with thanksgiving,” etc. (1 Timothy 4:4), adding immediately, “If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine” (ver. 6).
I have said that I have no sympathy with Teetotalism, but the searching of Scripture gives me a much more decided judgment against it than I had before. I had looked upon it as a harmless fad, rather good than otherwise; but scriptural investigation shows me differently. Contrasting it with New Testament doctrine, as I have quoted, Teetotalism appears to me to be a REFLECTION UPON CHRISTIANITY. It is the Colossian error of supplementing Christianity from the resources of human wisdom; not openly denying, but adding to it, and thus implying that it is not perfect and complete in itself. Paul says to the Colossians, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the elements of the world and not after Christ.” “Ye are complete in Him” (Colossians 2:8, 10). See also verses 16, 20-23 of same chapter.
I do not admit that Christianity needs to be supplemented, or its holy principles added to, from the repertory of Total Abstinence philosophy or any other. Coming after Christianity, Teetotalism is an impertinence (I do not use the word in an offensive sense); it virtually impugns the wisdom of our Lord, denying the completeness of the doctrine and precepts which, by Himself and His apostles, He has handed down to us.
Besides being a reflection on Christianity, Tee-totalism is a REFLECTION UPON GOD AS CREATOR. Now whatever God has created, is good; it is man's sin that turns it into evil. Drunkenness is the abuse of a creature of God. The created thing itself is good, and its proper use beneficial. But Teetotalism treating the thing as evil really reproaches God with having created an evil thing, and, pro tanto, reduces or denies man's sin in the matter. It thus throws upon God the blame of man's sin, which is, in principle, just what Adam did when he said: “The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” E. J. T.

Truth: 1. Its Nature and History

What is truth? Earnestly the question is often asked, and on many occasions suggests itself. Once it was put to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. “What is truth?” asked Pilate, the Roman Governor (John 18:38), when that subject was suddenly thrust upon his attention. In the same manner it is being asked still, “What is truth?” Many in perplexity have inquired and still inquire. But the occasion referred to in this chapter was, whether as regards time or place, or persons involved, absolutely unique. Let us glance at it as a preliminary to our subject.
On the eve of His crucifixion, before the judgment-seat of Pilate, the Lord Jesus Christ had this question addressed to Him by His judge. “What is truth?” Exactly what was in the mind of the Roman Governor when he asked the question on that momentous occasion we may not know, but his actions help us to determine what was his attitude towards the subject of conversation. He broke off so abruptly at this point. If sincerely anxiously to know the truth, an answer would have been vouchsafed from Him who “for this cause came into the world that He might bear witness to the truth.” And had it been any other spirit than one of indifference or skepticism which prompted the question, such answer would surely have been waited for. Now attitude towards the truth and towards Christ are virtually the same. The Lord, in the previous verse, had declared, “Everyone that is of the truth heareth My voice,” and by turning his back on the Lord when he said this, Pilate manifested where he was. “Of the truth” he was not, for Jesus' voice, the voice of its greatest Witness and fullest Exponent, he did not hear. There are those who, born of water and of Spirit, begotten of God by the word of truth, can be spoken of as “of the truth.” Such, being thereby of the flock of the Good Shepherd, hear and recognize His voice. But Pilate, un-happily, was not one of their number. That spirit of subjection to its claims which marked these, was far removed from his haughty bearing here. The most charitable, if not the only possible construction we can put upon his words is to see in them that mingling of skepticism with indifference which formed the common attitude of cultivated men among the Romans of that period towards everything but worldly and material considerations. Little heart had they for the truth! What was it to them! It had no utilitarian purpose or value in their eyes, and was accordingly held in but little esteem. With this Pilate's actions harmonize throughout, and manifest the solemn position he has taken. Of these, and regarding that, Pilate himself must yet give account. He has long since gone from the scene where men can receive the truth in the love of it. Well would it have been with Pilate had his inquiry been sincere, and his question a genuine one. His destiny, however, is now determined, and whatever he may know now, or, too late have had his eyes opened to when he passed to that other sphere, such intelligence cannot affect his place and fate eternally.
But his case is not a solitary one, for truth concerns all, and although many, like him, have asked the question in a spirit of anything but honest inquiry, yet some there are, thank God, who have been awakened to a sense of its value, and have earnestly sought it for its own, or rather for its Author's sake. “What is truth?” then, we would consider, and also man's attitude to it (a very important matter as even Pilate's case has shown). How he has treated it from the beginning hitherto, may profitably form part of our inquiry.
Truth, in the abstract, has, in all ages, been the professed object of man's diligent search. From the beginning it has been so, and seems to be inseparable from him as constituted and created of God. In the realm of created things intelligence is, above all else, his crown of distinction. It is his to reflect, to reason, to know. Naturally inquisitive, his active mind refuses to be bound down to the passive contemplation of things in his own immediate environment; but must needs pry into everything, investigating into cause and effect, ascertaining the properties and powers, and endeavoring to discover the origin and destiny of all that comes within his cognizance. The acquirement of knowledge has been his steady ambition, and with whatever ulterior motives that object in many cases may have been sought, we may still trace it, back of all, to a spirit of inquiry with which man seems to be constitutionally endowed.
The real reason why man “gives his heart to search and find out concerning all things” is because of that in him which in our first parents was appealed to by the temptation— “a tree to be desired to make one wise.” A fatal aspiration that, truly! but at the same time indicative surely of that active and receptive mind with which their Creator had equipped them. The fact is, that nothing so clearly distinguishes man from all else that lives and moves in nature as these peculiar and unique properties he possesses, of weighing and reflecting upon things not materially presented. The presence of that in his organization to which these powers are ascribed, the mind, marks him off at once in a clear and unmistakable way from every other creature on earth. Between him to the nearest approach in the scale of organized life, there exists, in this particular, not a link of connection, but a wide gulf of distinction. Capable of reasoning and judging, as they are not, and possessing an innate consciousness of things beyond the reach of their limited powers, he is thus clearly fitted for familiarity with a higher plane than they can aspire to. The temple of truth finds in man more than an honorable part of the furniture of its holy place, where, in the realm of nature, every whit of it uttereth His glory. No mere hewer of wood or drawer of water is he, but one fitted to stand in its courts a worshipper.
Unlike these lower orders of creation, man was created in God's image, after His likeness; and for what purpose, reason and intelligence—elements of that highest and spiritual part of man's tri-partite nature—were given, we to whom by His word and Spirit His mind has been revealed, can more than surmise. In this crowning piece of workmanship, morally and spiritually so far above all others, has not God prepared a creature capable in some measure of having communion with Himself? Who can now say what measure of truth God could have gone on to reveal to unfallen man? or to what extent intercourse between God and Adam in Eden might have been enjoyed? However that may be, in man we behold a creature equipped most wonderfully, both morally and intellectually, for the pursuit of knowledge, and the reception of truth.
But is it not just there that danger would come in? Would it be surprising if this his distinctive blessing were also his characteristic danger, that his high privilege entailed commensurate responsibility? Is not that the side most open to attack? where the incursions of an enemy would most likely be looked for? For, if capable of receiving truth, is he not also capable of imbibing error? If thirsting to be enlightened, is he not liable to be deceived? Now, an enemy there was. His character is thus described for us— “He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own, for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44). The source of error himself, his whole interest lies, we may very well imagine, in its propagation. Hatred of God, and all that is of God, also animates him, who was “a murderer from the beginning.” An opportunity of thwarting God, may we not think he imagined, presented itself in the case of man. To hate one in whom God delights is characteristic of him. To sow error in a field God had so carefully prepared for the reception of truth would be an occupation most congenial to him, and, at the same time, work at which, as the father of lying, he would be most apt. In man, then, he would discern an instrument in some sense made ready to his hand, and very early in their history, therefore, our first parents were assailed. Amidst other issues, were they not there confronted with an artful attempt to displace what truth they already possessed by implanting that which was calculated to effectually exclude it altogether?
Genesis 3 gives the inspired account of this. With this single issue for the time being before us, as we consider the scene in the beginning of that chapter, it becomes increasingly apparent that everything turns upon the question of how God's truth is treated. Subtle as he was, the devil quickly perceived the only vulnerable point in the prohibition of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Exactly in what sense vulnerable, and why left so, are questions which, if to be answered at all, must find their solution along the line of such considerations as what kind of a creature man, as he came from the hand of God, really was; what his state of innocence really signified as to moral intelligence and responsibility. The old problem, in fact, confronts us of man made up-right, yet in such sense that only after his fall is he become as God to know good and evil. One thing, at least, we know as to our first parents in their original state of innocence, and recognize in it a kind of hedge that God had put round their moral immaturity, if such, indeed, it be. Concerning the (to us) mysterious tree of knowledge of good and evil, God had spoken and had declared the inevitable consequence of partaking of it, so that man was already furnished with the truth of God about the matter. To controvert the truth, and to gain an entrance into man's mind for error, was the task before the enemy, and with consummate art he set about the achievement of his design.
The extraordinary subtlety, with which the serpent is credited in verse 1, is exemplified by the very manner of his approach. To the woman his words are addressed. The weaker vessel was chosen as the object of attack. It cannot but be remarked too how cautious are his steps, how warily his part of the conversation is conducted. It opens mildly. To insinuate a doubt is, assuredly a more effectual way of overthrowing convictions than to meet them with a flat denial, for the mind is thus left, as it were, to draw its own conclusions. And an insinuation it is that appears in his words— “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” From the woman's reply it is evident that her mind had caught the drift of his language, and that her heart, alas! had entertained the implied question as to God's goodness. Confidence in God destroyed, or at least enfeebled, His ward now assumes to her the character of an unpleasant prohibition, and surrender of it is thus made more easy. “Of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” The prohibition increases “neither shall ye touch it"; the penalty is rendered less threatening— “lest ye die.” A small circumstance it may seem, yet sufficient to show where she is, her attitude towards God's truth.
Judging things to be now ripe for it, Satan does not hesitate to boldly deny what he had already questioned; and his lie is accepted in exchange for the truth she has come to so lightly esteem. The words of Eve in reply to God's question, “What is this that thou hast done?” aptly describe the process by which the enemy's triumph was accomplished— “The serpent beguiled me.” Her statement receives inspired corroboration from 2 Cor. 11:3 — “the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety.” And that record also is true which declares that “being entirely deceived she was in transgression” (1 Timothy 2:14). How deep the fall! How serious the consequences to a creature endowed as man was! The height of the honor of his former position measures the depth of his degradation now. The very possibilities of enlightenment then enjoyed, such of them as were not lost in the catastrophe itself, become now so many probable inlets for further deception. Completely at the mercy of that wily antagonist we may not describe ourselves for truth still finds that in us to which it can appeal; but biased in the direction of error (we may say) man has seemed to be ever since. Measure the effects on man of the fall, even in this respect, we cannot fully; but, considering whence we have fallen or to what descended, we do well to attend to that which wrought our undoing.
For a sample this is of that “working of Satan” (2 Thessalonians 9) “which deceiveth the whole world"; so that, attending to the word of God, “we are not ignorant of his devices.” For ends of the same kind he uses continually means of the same nature, and, manifold and various as are his schemes with men, in some way all resemble this their prototype.
In later encounters the same tactics are pursued, as here on the occasion of its first entrance into the lists; and error does and will maintain the same warfare with similar weapons.
Many elements enter into this crisis of Genesis 3, for it is a fountainhead of history; but a point of great importance in it is the contrast between truth and error, and the origin of the latter through the surrender of the former. And it is well to be clear on this to day. It is of importance to remark that truth was possessed before error was implanted, for exactly contrary to this is modern teaching. The theory as to the rise and dissemination of religious knowledge, which now in large measure holds the field, seems to conveniently forget that there has been a fall, or consequent departure from truth originally possessed. A gradual progress from primeval darkness, on through the twilight of superstition, into the broad daylight of modern enlightenment and knowledge, may form the material of the self-complacent dreams of men; but is it supported either by scripture or by facts? Far from it. To maintain it is to incur the woe pronounced on them “which put darkness for light and light for darkness.” The opposite is rather true, for God has never left Himself without witness, but has invariably given a testimony suited for the time and circumstances; and in every case man's sin and the cause of his darkness has been, that he has turned back on that testimony!
Nor was it otherwise here. The truth was plain. A simple command was all that was given. Obedience, the only becoming attitude for a creature, was required. To question the wisdom of the prohibition, or the motive for it, was what Satan endeavored to draw man into. To see man, in effect, constituting himself a judge of God's word, instead of a hearer and doer of it in the due spirit of subjection to its claims, is still his desire. And when he has raised this question, when he has tempted the soul to occupy the judgment-seat, the moral state of him who entertains it, of him who arrogates to himself such a position, is ripe for, and generally grasps at, his solution of the problem, his decision of the case. How much care, then, should be exercised as to what attitude we take up towards the truth of God!
With the fall of man, we enter upon a new era in the history of God's truth in the world. A mercy it is that it did not close there; that further light from God was not withheld, and man left to the darkness he had chosen. No objection could have been raised against such a mode of procedure: it would have been quite compatible with His righteous character for a Holy Creator so to act. In judgment He had already acted to-wards creatures of His, who had sinned and left their first estate (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6); and the gloom and darkness to which they are consigned might have been, in the spiritual sphere, the immediate result for men also, as it will be eventually and literally their portion who continue in unbelief. In a path of unrelieved darkness, our race might have been left to run its course; to fill up the measure of their iniquity, unvisited by a single ray of hope or light; and still have been only thus reaping what they sowed. But grace was in God's heart for men, and truth from on high still visited them. If man is to be distinguished from all the ranks in nature below him, he is also from those above him. Different from those he is, as we liave seen, because of that which is in him; from these, may we not say, because of what God has for His estate differs from all in-feriors because of what he is; his treatment from that of created intelligences above him because of what he is to be through Christ Jesus. God's purposes of grace have chosen a human, not an angelic, platform for their expression. His love is to be manifested “not to angels but men.” Thus, rather than the judgment which a somewhat similar offense had in that case incurred, mercy is shown to man. Light from God was still vouchsafed.
In what measure, can we exactly say? Adam's naming his wife Eve, the mother of all living, is surely an utterance of faith. Abel's offering, as we learn from Hebrews 11:4, was an action of faith. On what revelation were these based? In the doom pronounced upon the serpent, we can read the forecast of a wondrous deliverance, and the darkness of judgment is relieved by that light of mercy, a veritable silver lining to a dark cloud, if ever there was one. God's action in clothing the guilty pair with skins of animals, implying death, has also significance for us. Whether for them also, or whether these constituted the whole truth for them or not, there was, at any rate, sufficient material for faith to build upon right through those early days.
Truth, in fact, has always been present in the world, and always will be till the close. It might almost be described as one of the constituent elements of the moral atmosphere. Certainly, without it, faith or spiritual life would be, either of them, impossible. Viewed thus also, we can understand the persistency of Satan's endeavor to corrupt and poison that which is, in spiritual things, one of the chief necessaries of life to man. That is to say, where he cannot eliminate thoughts of spiritual things from the minds of men altogether, these seem to have been the tactics he pursued during this period, and with conspicuous success. The story of the fall, and abundant evidence of its occurrence, were there to awaken inquiry in the thoughtful. Then, that inquiring mind should be diverted into another channel, and to provide something which should thoroughly engross it, was, as we shall see, what then principally characterized Satan's plan for excluding the truth.
In attaining to the pitch of wickedness which filled the antediluvian earth with corruption and violence, men must themselves have acquiesced in this exclusion; or the recollection and memorials of that fall would have proved at least a check on the pace of their headlong course in iniquity. Doubtless so it was, and, forgetful of the past, they were no less unmindful of anything God might from time to time say to them through His wit-nesses. Breaking in upon their busy preoccupation, in Enoch, the seventh from Adam, the voice of God is heard, in threatening tones of coming judgment, it is true, yet still, as this, a call of God to men who had, alas, no heart for His truth. Through Noah, a preacher of righteousness, the Spirit also strove with man during the preparation of the ark, while the long-suffering of God waited on men. It waited, alas, fruitlessly, for man's attitude was now one of entire indifference. He had got something now to divert his interest and engross his attention to the total exclusion of God and His truth. What a creature is man! “God made man upright; he hath sought out many inventions,” and building up with these inventions a system, a world of his own, amidst a scene of unbounded wickedness, he finds his pleasure therein, and treats God's offers of mercy and warnings of judgment alike with indifference.
In this object of their pre-occupation itself, have we not again a fresh instance of the great enemy's activity? The scene into which Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, the devil was not absent from, we may be sure. There are traces of his agency here, for the way in which Cain, fugitive and vagabond in the earth as he was, so soon seems to find, along with his descendants, respite from accusing conscience and morbid despair, is remarkable. There must very early have been discovered a sufficiently engrossing subject to give relief from the double burden of conscious guilt and foreboding judgment. And this man did find in the world, the system he was then, under the adversary's guidance, so busy in founding and developing. The elements of that old civilization, far away from us as it is, are not at all unlike the principles of the world system still. And who is the author of that? “All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” —not of the Father are they. Deceptive vanities, from the deceiver they come. His habitual work, deceiving men, is it not prominent here also? The sowing of error had apparently triumphed already in what led to man's fall. And now that God will not leave men in their darkness, but pursues them in grace with the light of His truth, Satan has their hearts so wrapped up in the system he has helped them to build here, away from God, that no voice of mercy can reach their hardened hearts, no sound of coming judgment awake them from their indifference. The truth of God was an unwelcome disturber of their peace; and unresponsive to it they remained.
They were “disobedient” we read (1 Peter 3:20); they were indifferent, we conclude; and judgment overtook them. Is it an attitude unknown today? A fate not less terrible awaits those who obey not the gospel now.
With a new world a fresh start is made. Not in ignorance did Noah and his family step forth from the ark. No tobula rasa was his mind. Truth was one of the things that came with that ark through the deluge, part of the precious freight it bore onwards into the new world. Much had perished in the waters of judgment, ail, in fact, in which man's pride could rest. The glories of his civilization, the embellishments and luxuries of society, the comforts and delights of his cities, all that had accrued round life for him, the science and learning of that ancient era with discoveries and problems of its own, the arts and crafts of olden time, all he had developed and evolved, discovered and added to the sum of human knowledge and invention, in one wild moment of catastrophe had disappeared forever, and stark and stripped and primitive again stands man, reduced to, and represented by one single, simple, pastoral family. But faith was there, and truth was there. The minds of the saved ones surely had it engraven upon them. With both the mercy and the judgment of God they had become intimately acquainted also, for, while the objects of the one, they were witnesses of the other. Nor was the invitation to enter the place of shelter the last communication God intended to make to man; for, sent forth by that same One in due time, one of Noah's first furnishings was a fresh disclosure of His mind. The sweet savor of his burnt-offering gave God satisfaction, and, charged with the significance of that greater sacrifice of which it was the type, it provided Him a new medium through which He could look down upon the new earth, and man upon it. Smelling that sweet savor of rest also, He could speak regarding both, and truth about each, both new and important, He vouchsafed. Not only at the beginning, then, but at various points, and especially at every crisis in man's history, has God spoken.
Man's responsibility, then, in presence of the growing light, has been accumulating also. In this connection one of the most important passages of scripture to be kept in mind is Romans 1. The subject of light from God, and how men have treated it is there most thoroughly gone into; so that when tracing this history of truth in the world which we are endeavoring to follow out, this chapter claims considerable attention. In proving man's guilt in the early chapters of Romans, the Spirit, through the Apostle Paul, makes and substantiates certain distinct charges against men, Jew and Gentile, respectively. One of the first of these charges is in chap. 1:18— “who hold the truth in unrighteousness.” Unquestionably this points particularly to the Jews, who, with a written revelation from God, and sinning against it, were liable to the charge of unrighteousness. But the truth was a matter the Gentiles also were concerned with, for their “ungodliness,” against which the wrath of God is no less revealed, was simply an entire absence of the fear of God where there was sufficient testimony to render such a thing inexcusable. So that unfaithfulness to truth possessed can be charged against both classes. That is the real state of the case, and, beginning with Romans 1, this we must now trace out.
[J. T.]
(To be continued)


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Lectures on Job 33-37

Lecture 9.-Chaps. 33-37
It is remarkable how worldly minds dislike Elihu. It is a very old story. It began with some of the famous Jews, and it has gone down to the present day. They regard him as a particularly forward young man, and also as full of self-conceit, after all with very little in it. Now nothing can show more a mind unacquainted with God; because Elihu has a most valuable place in this book. It is he that for the first time brings out the blessing of affliction-affliction turned to the profit of the soul. This was not very much known even in Israel afterward; for in Israel God was showing His government of a nation; but that is a totally different thing from what we find in Job. What Elihu shows is a government of souls, and that goes on now more than ever in Christianity.
This is what is found in the 15th of John: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husband-man.” And what does the Father do? “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it.” He purges on the one hand, and He takes away on the other. If there are those who are totally insensible, He takes them away; more particularly if they bear His name
But those who do bear fruit He purges, that they may bring forth more fruit. That was exactly the case with Job. So also Peter takes it up. He knew what that was. Satan desired to sift him as wheat. But the Lord prayed for Peter, not merely for “you;” but for Peter. And why? Because a dead set was made against Peter. Peter was lifted up as Job was. Peter was quite sure of his own great love for the Savior, and he trusted in his own love-not Christ's love to him, but Peter's love to Christ; for no matter what the difficulty he might be in, he would be faithful! Whereas, on the contrary, he slighted the word of the Lord that warned him of his danger, and that night before the cock crew, he denied Him—that is, he broke down exactly where he thought it was impossible that he could.
And so did Job. Job had shown himself a most gracious man in prosperity, and a most patient man in adversity; and if the trial had rested there Job would have been more pleased with himself than ever; for what could we expect more than that a man should be exceedingly kind, and, as men thought, humble, and always occupied with the activities of benevolence and of compassion towards the suffering, when he had nothing to trouble him? Then when he was more troubled, perhaps, than any other man ever was before, he first lost his property, then lost his children, and then lost all his bodily health and was reduced to being one of the greatest of sufferers; so much so that he would have been delighted to have died, but that would not have answered the end of the Lord. The Lord intended that he should live and consequently that he must accept the trial from Him; but Job did not understand that. No doubt, although his wife did not—as a wife nowadays very often does help her husband to get wrong, she told him to curse God and die—make an end of it all. Women are sometimes very impatient; so she was, any way, and gave right bad advice. He rejected it, but he could not stand his friends' insinuations. However, as I have gone through that pretty carefully before, I need not dwell upon it now. But here we have come to Job triumphant over his friends. They are perfectly silenced. These men of age, experience, and wisdom, did not understand the case even as well as Job. And the reason why they did not understand it was that Job had more sense of grace in God, which is the real key of all the dealings of God. They thought everything must be shallow and on the outside, and yet they were true saints.
But we have to learn, as one of the great lessons of the Book, that we cannot glory in saints—we can only glory in God. Though not a few are brought before us, yet they all come short of it. Even Job, although he found it an easy matter to confute them (and he seems to have had considerable pleasure in reducing the three, one after the other, to total silence), he had not yet got to the root of the matter, and that was—a little complacency in himself—a most insidious evil, and only to be learned in the presence of God. And now there is no excuse for us; because the very object of the death of Christ is not merely that we should be forgiven and made happy; but it is that we should walk in self-judgment, and also in confidence in God, and in these two things Job failed; and we are in danger of failing too. We stop short, just getting the heart and the conscience, when they have been awakened, to feel what sin is. But that is only the threshold; that is only the way in which we enter into the blessing, and the blessing is, to be brought to God. No doubt there is a great deal in being brought to God; and we are brought in a very wonderful way to God, on which I do not dwell now, because it is not what we have here.
But as to Elihu, he lifts up the veil for the first time off the riddle which none of them had been able to solve—neither Eliphaz, nor Bildad, nor Zophar, nor even Job. The last words of Job were that he would not give up his integrity, no matter what came, till cockle grew instead of barley ... a thing that could not possibly be. He was determined to stick to it; and he was quite sure they were all wrong in thinking that there was anything wrong in him. And yet there was. Not at all in the way they thought; but it was the pleasure that he took in what grace, which the Lord had bestowed, had produced in his ways. There was no doubt about that; but why did he think about it? Why did he not think of God? Why was he not filled with the wonder of God producing anything that was good in such a wretched creature as fallen man? Now Elihu comes in; and he had evidently great difficulty in holding his tongue for a good while. And he showed his great humility. Because we should not have known he had been there. He suddenly comes forward at this critical moment, when not only the three, but Job, were silent; and it was a very hard matter to get Job silent; for he was an excellent speaker, and he had a great deal to say that was very true; but he did not yet know himself as God meant him to—as God means us to learn ourselves. That is the reason the book was given to us—not to learn ourselves in a human way by our thoughts, but to learn ourselves after a definite sort by the light of God detecting what nothing else can.
Well, Elihu had been silent. He was a young man compared with them, and he had a very strong sense of propriety; and accordingly he would not think of interrupting, or of entering in, even when, one after another, the others subsided. He might have spoken then, but no! he waits till the whole thing was closed by Job's fervent utterance, in which he showed that his good opinion of himself was as great as ever it was, and all that God had done had not brought him down in his own opinion of himself. This was what roused Elihu. He was indignant that the others could not see. He saw it clearly enough; that Job was insubmissive to God, and that Job spoke in a very improper way about God. Afterward he said the right thing. You must not suppose that when God compared him with his three friends it was with regard to these speeches. No, no; Job had a wrong spirit while they were going on, and resented in the highest degree the bad thoughts the others had of him. But does that make a man bad? What is the opinion of another man? what does he know about it? So that if a person is quieted before God, he can afford to take it all quietly. It is very bad for the others; but it does not make him a bit worse. Job, however, had not learned this; he broke down in the very matter of patience. Yet we have heard of the patience of Job. There was nobody like him for it; but he broke down in the very thing in which he was apt to be a little proud.
Elihu makes a great deal of apology. That is what these proud men do not like. They are men inflated with the pride of man's heart; and scholars—even scholars in the Bible, learned men in the scriptures—are just as apt to be carried away by notions of their own importance as other people are; and that is what is the key to all these depreciatory views of Elihu. They know nothing about God. They are eloquent of the wonders of a man's mind and perhaps the outward works of God; all that, they may be, but they do not know anything about the dealings of God. There are thousands of men that have written of the scriptures who have never seen their sinfulness before God, who have never been brought to measure self in the presence of God. And accordingly these men all hate Elihu, and speak with the utmost contempt not only of him as an upstart of a young man that was full of himself, but also of what he said; thus deprecating his speaking at all. For he was very sorry to be obliged to speak. He had no desire to put himself forward; but there he was, quite contrary to all his own intentions or his own desire, compelled to speak on God's behalf against that which he felt was so unworthy in Job even. Indeed, he does not say much about the others. They were silent; they had passed away just as Satan had previously. Satan disappears and we do not hear of him after in this book; he was thoroughly beaten; and then the other three evidently had to give up and surrender; they had nothing more to say. Indeed, they had said a great deal too much.
But now was Elihu's turn (chap. 33.); and after all, Job had not said the thing that was right. So he begins here. The 32nd chapter was merely a preface, speaking of his own shortcoming, and at the same time, of his entire conviction that he saw a truth that neither Job nor the three friends had seen; and this he must have out.
“I pray thee, hear my speeches, and hearken to all my words. Behold, now I have opened my mouth” —he had been very slow to do it— “my tongue hath spoken in my mouth. My words shall be of the uprightness of my heart” —it is all genuine and sincere, whatever these physicians of no value say, these higher critics— “and my lips shall utter knowledge clearly.” And so they did. “The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life. If thou canst answer me, set thy words in order before me, stand up. Behold, I am according to thy wish in God's stead.” Job, while his heart went out towards God, was afraid that it would be too overwhelming; and yet he wanted to find Him; but still he was afraid. He wanted some one that could speak in a human tongue to him—could speak thoroughly for God. Well, Elihu does that in his measure. Elihu is an interpreter, one of a thousand, and he therefore does speak for God—just what Job had wanted, only very far short of the Great Interpreter—very far short of Him who is the chief of the Prophets, who is the Lord God of the Prophets, as well as a Prophet. Very short, indeed, of Christ! Still the presence of Elihu is a witness to sovereign grace. It is the rarest thing in the world to find a man that has learned so of God as Elihu had. And it was purposely intended to bring down the pride of the older men. And Elihu felt that; but still he made them apologies; for he was very unwilling indeed to appear to be setting them in order and correcting the folly that had come from them. He is occupied with Job rather—and that is a very fine trait in him. He does not go round Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, and show how wrong they had been; but the great point remains still to be settled.
There was no solution of the riddle yet. Elihu contributes for the first time. Not completely—it required God to do that—and God did appear; I do not say how long. I do not say that He took the shape of man, as He often did in the Old Testament. We do not read of anything of that here. It may merely have been a voice for that matter. But we shall see, when we come to that part, that it was a divine voice; there is no mistake about that. Here, however, it is a man, as he says, and a young man, too, “I also am formed out of the clay. Behold, my terror shall not make thee afraid, neither shall my hand be heavy upon thee,” etc. (vers. 7-11). Job had complained of God's hand. There were two great faults in what Job had said. He thought too well of himself, and he found fault with God. That is what is clearly put here by Elihu. “Behold, in this thou art not just: I will answer thee, that God is greater than man. Why dost thou strive against him? for he giveth not account of any of his matters.” He had entirely fallen short of the reverence due to God—entirely forgotten the infinite distance between God and man; the majesty of God; and therefore, instead of finding fault with himself for being so far short, he found fault with God. He did not understand His ways fully. Now he ought to have credited, though he did not understand them. “For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not” (vers. 12-14).
Now he brings in the fact that God carries on His wonderful way in the midst of all, in a ruined world with everything out of order and Satan triumphing, and in fact the prince of the world, and the god of this age, as scripture calls him, at any rate in the New Testament; although they very little understood that yet. But we ought to know it. Well, God, in the midst of all this, carries on His wonderful way, and did so before there was a Bible. You must remember that when the circumstances of Job occurred there was no written revelation. Genesis and Job were probably written very near one another: practically at the same time. There is no reference to the law; there is no reference to the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt, in Job; and although there was some distance between Job's country and Egypt, the Book of Job shows that he was well acquainted with the great features of Egypt; that he was well acquainted with the crocodile and the like. There is a magnificent description of it in this very book, and many other things that show that the country of Egypt and its people were quite familiar to Job. He only lived on the edge of the desert, and a little, therefore, to the east of the Holy Land; perhaps the north-east; but at any rate, it was in that part of the country. Elihu belonged rather to another part. He was the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram. “Ram” is the same word (only another form) as “Aram,” i.e., Syria, that part of the country of Asia north of the Holy Land. He belonged, therefore, to a race akin to the Holy Land, but not belonging to it strictly, and that is what makes the great interest of the book-it is God and man. It is not Israel at all; it is purposely God dealing with man, and God dealing with man's soul. It is far more important that the soul should be right, and this we find most carefully shown in this book. So much so that Job was brought into the best blessing he ever knew while he was still under the effects of his trial, and the external blessing had not yet been conferred; but it followed immediately he could bear it.
God therefore, Elihu says, often deals in a dream of the night (ver. 15). I dare say some of you have had these visitations. It is certainly not for me to boast of anything; but I think that I have had consciously God whispering little things to me about myself, and advising me to take care what I was about, and compelling me to judge myself in a way that I had not done before; and I conceive that it is very probably so in this case. It is nothing miraculous at all. We may perhaps not count with God; but this no doubt is just where we fail, in not attaching the importance that we ought to do, and this although we have His word. But still God is a living God, and God has to do with every one of us in this way. There can be no doubt that here Elihu speaks about it as a certainty in those days; and why it should not be in our day, I, for one, have never learned. I believe it is all a mistake to imagine it is not so. The great point is that it is altogether inferior to the word. This is where we have our great advantage; and all these excellent people that come before us in this book had it not. Oh no, scripture is of enormous value, and we show our great lack of faith by not estimating it, and making it the grandest point of every day's life—to learn God more and better by His word, now especially as we have Christ, who is not merely the Interpreter, “one of a thousand,” but alone; alone, above all—Moses, Elias, no matter whom—Jesus only. Well, “In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men” —it is not seeing a spirit, as Eliphaz did. That I do not pretend to. It has never been my lot, nor, I suppose, yours; but here it is another thing. It is in sleep; and it is a dream; plain, simple, positive fact, but still it is God deigning to help us. And He loves to do that in ways that we do not always perceive, but He is always doing so in one way or another, except where Ephraim is joined to his idols— “let him alone"! That is a terrible word.
“Then he openeth the ears of men” (ver. 16). That is what is shown in this chapter. It is not “believing” men; it is any man, in order that he might believe. But still, when we do not behave as saints, we may get a little word just showing us where we are, that we are “walking as men,” as the apostle said. “That he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man.” You see, it is one that had never yet been broken. “He keepeth back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword.” He was on the straight way to it. “He is chastened also with pain upon his bed.” It is not only these dealings with the soul, but also with the body. There he touches the very case of Job. “And the multitude of his bones with strong pain: so that his life abhorreth bread, and his soul dainty meat. His flesh is consumed away” —how true it was of poor Job “that it cannot be seen; and his bones that were not seen, stick out. Yea, his soul draweth near unto the grave, and his life to the destroyers. If there be a messenger with him” —that is exactly what Elihu was— “an interpreter, one among a thousand, to show unto man his uprightness “: i.e., what becomes him. And what is it that becomes a man? Self-judgment. He is a fallen man. He may be a believing man, but still, he is a man, as we can say, with the flesh in him; and that flesh may be working strongly, as it did in Job as well as the others. “Then he is gracious unto him.” Directly the man bows, directly there is submissiveness to God—that is the uprightness of man. This is what is done when a man is converted, i.e., he bows to God, but also when a man gets away, like Peter, it may also be said, “When thou art converted.” For the restoration of a man is very much of the same character as when a man is converted. He is turned back to God. He has been forgetting God, and he turns back and remembers Him. That is how it was with Peter; and that is what we sometimes find also. “Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit, I have found a ransom” (vers. 17-24).
Now I do not think you could find in all the rest of the Old Testament such a description as here of God's dealing with the soul that is wrong, or that has got wrong. I do not remember any so graphic, and so personally applicable; and it would be hard to find it in the New Testament, except where the Lord gives us the Prodigal. There I admit that we have a perfect picture. We could not have here all that the Lord shows of the prodigal son; but here it is a wonderful thing, especially so precious at the early day. But it does not mean that the ransom was yet offered; but there it was before God, answering to that word in Romans 3: “the pretermission” of sins—a passing over, not a “remission,” for this latter could not be true of an Old Testament saint. “Remission” is what particularly belongs to the New Testament. But there was a “pretermission” —a “passing over” by God. It was like a bad debt, and the creditors saying, “It is no use; we must pass it by; we must not expect anything.” That is what God did. There was “the forbearance of God.” But now it is not the forbearance of God at all; and it is not “pretermission.” It is “remission” now. It is God's righteousness clearly manifested, and that is, that Christ has borne our sins, and therefore it is a righteous thing to blot them out. It is not merely saying, “Poor fellow, he cannot pay"; but here is One that has paid, and paid in the most glorious manner; more wonderful a great deal than if there had never been sin; more glorious to God and more blessed for man. Because, on the contrary, it was giving us up as a bad job where it was merely “forbearance” and “pretermission"; but now it is triumphing.
You recollect that remarkable word which I think is quite misunderstood— “come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Does this apply to the believer? On the contrary, no believer comes “short of the glory of God.” And how is this? Why, because there is One in the glory who bore my sins on the cross. And He who is in the glory of God is my life and my righteousness. Therefore it is that we, believers, do not “come short of the glory of God.” There was that great fact, not merely a mighty work upon the cross, but the Lord Jesus connecting that work with the glory of God, and giving us the wonderful impulse and strength of knowing that we do not come short of the glory of God. There was a thing that could not be at the beginning. It could not be without—not only sin forgiven, but—Christ glorifying God about sin, and consequently going up Himself into the glory of God, and this as our Savior. Well, we have not this here; nothing like it at all, but simply “I have found a ransom.”
“His flesh shall be fresher than a child's; he shall return to the days of his youth; he shall pray unto God, and he will be favorable unto him; and he shall see his face with joy.” We have here nothing at all about the two natures. That the Old Testament saint never understood. There is no such thing as the intelligence of that great truth in any part of the Old Testament. And man is incapable of profiting by, or understanding, it until he sees Christ by faith; sees the Son and believes in Him. Now we are capable. Now we are made to understand it simply and fully. “He looketh upon men, and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not” — there you see, is just what the repentant soul says. It is not called “repentance” here. It is in Jeremiah. Jeremiah brings it out very beautifully in the 31st chapter, before he introduces the new covenant; but here we have the thing, repentance, although the word is not employed. “He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light. Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with man” (vers. 25-30). It is very comforting to think that that was what God was doing, and was known to be doing, in those days. Because the gospel was not preached then. There was, no doubt, the precious revelation of “the Seed of the woman” that was to be bruised, and which was to bruise Satan; but after all, although that is a most wonderful word, and not less wonderful now than it ever was—most wonderful to think of now—yet it was almost all they had then.
There was a little more that came in with Noah, as a type—the deluge, and man passing out of it; and then Abraham as the chosen one, and the seed that belonged to that stock; because they all knew that thence was to be the Messiah. All the believing Jews were perfectly aware that Abraham's Seed, represented by Isaac, was to be the Messiah. And how beautifully it was confirmed by Isaac being the one that was offered up in a figure, and was received, as it were, from the dead, God forbidding Abraham to put him to death! but he was under sentence of death for three days, and then it was, at the very critical moment, he was delivered!
Not so with Jesus. Here everything was perfect. Everything here was carried out in all its fullness of blessing, but it could not be in any other than Jesus. So Elihu calls Job (ver. 31) to mark all this, and hearken; and then if he has anything to say he would be very glad to hear, because he wanted to justify him. There is, you see, the great difference between Elihu and the others. The others wanted to condemn him. They were quite sure there was something altogether bad there, and they wanted to have it out. Therefore they were on their mettle to try and discover what it could possibly be; and so they grew more and more angry with Job, because instead of acknowledging it he told them that they were botchers. Instead of being physicians of any value they were mere bunglers, and everything was a mistake and a blunder on their part, and no doubt they were very angry.
Well, Elihu proceeds (chap. 34.), and now he blames Job again. He says, “Hear my words, ye wise men, and give ear unto me, ye that have knowledge. For the ear trieth words, as the mouth tasteth meat. Let us choose to us judgment: let us know among ourselves what is good. For Job hath said, I am righteous” (vers. 2-5). And he was, in the sense in which his three friends denied; but, he was not righteous in glorifying God. No, he found fault with God. “For Job hath said, I am righteous: and God hath taken away my judgment. Should I lie against my right? my wound is incurable without transgression.” Well, he says that is insufferable; such language is highly improper. “What man is like Job, who drinketh up scorning like water “; for there was a good deal of the pride of his heart that came out in Job. “Which goeth in company with the workers of iniquity.” He says: ‘It is bad enough for unbelieving men to say something like that; but you—Job!' “Therefore hearken unto me,” etc. Now he appeals to Job. “Who has given him a charge over the earth, or who has disposed all the world?” Who is one that has committed anything to him, to dispose of the whole world? Who has done that for God? “If he set his heart upon man” —He has only to leave man, and he perishes.
You see, Elihu had not in the least that idea which many pious men have now, that all the world goes on well by the principle of gravitation. Well, there is not a doubt God gives an impulse to all the heavenly orbs, and the earth among the rest. He gave them their motion; but then it is God who keeps it up. Men attribute this to second causes. But it is not in the way of motion to be perpetual. That is all a great mistake; there is no such thing, and God it is that keeps everything going, and if God were to withdraw for a moment the immediate action of His power, everything would collapse. That is what Elihu teaches here. “If he set his heart upon man, if he gather unto himself his spirit and his breath—all flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust. If now thou hast understanding, hear this: hearken to the voice of my words. Shall even he that hateth right govern?” That is, he shows the monstrousness of Job finding fault with God. “And wilt thou condemn him that is most just?” “Why,” he says, “it is not fit to say so to a king.” A king may have his faults, but his office is one that demands reverence from men. We are not only to fear God, but to honor the king. Here you have it. He was anything but, what people call, in these days, “a liberal.” “Is it fit to say to a king, Thou art wicked?” etc. (vers. 18-21). Every now and then God does allow, and what is the effect of it? A revolution. People do not know why it is; but when men are always crying for some change, or something new, God allows it to come, and they are overwhelmed. It is the very thing that they do not want; because the upshot, almost always, of a revolution of men against government is that there is a worse government that follows. But there is a true despot at the same time flattering the people while he is taking advantage of them in every possible way. “For he will not lay upon man more than right,” etc. (vers. 23-27).
Then he shows another side, when God gives quietness. God, after all, spite of the restless wickedness of the devil, is always above him. Not only above man, but above Satan and all his power. “When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble? and when he hideth his face, who then can behold him? whether it be done against a nation, or against a man only; that the hypocrite reign not, lest the people be ensnared. “Surely it is meet to be said unto God, I have borne chastisement” —that is what he was pressing upon Job. “I will not offend any more” etc. (vers. 29-36). Job had spoken very unguardedly. “For he addeth rebellion unto his sin, he clappeth his hands among us, and multiplieth his words against God.”
Now again, we come to a further step (chap. 35.). “Elihu spake moreover, and said, Thinkest thou this to be right, that thou saidst My righteousness” —which was not only that he spake against God, but he thought so much of himself— “My righteousness is more than God's.” That is what he practically meant, although he would not have said it. But Elihu put his finger upon the spot. “For thou saidst, What advantage will it be unto thee? and, What profit shall I have if I be cleansed from my sin? I will answer thee, and thy companions with thee. Look unto the heavens, and see, and behold the clouds which are higher than thou.” Can you bear in the face of that to speak against Him who is above them all? For man cannot look the sun in the face; who then is he to look God in the face? “If thou sinnest, what doest thou against him?” etc. (vers. 6-16). So that whether it was decrying God, or setting forward himself, Job was wrong on both counts.
Well, he goes on further still (chap. 36.) “Elihu also proceeded, and said, Suffer me a little, and I will show thee that I have yet to speak on God's behalf. I will fetch my knowledge from afar, and will ascribe righteousness to my Maker. For truly my words shall not be false; he that is perfect in knowledge is with thee. Behold, God is mighty, and despiseth not any” (vers. 1-5). What a wonderful saying! People might have thought, and do think, that the greater the majesty of God, the less He takes notice of the very smallest thing on earth. It is all the other way. And God shows His might by His being able to grasp everything, and take notice and show His concern about the smallest insect. “He preserveth not the life of the wicked” —His great concern is man, but He takes in everything— “but giveth right to the poor. He withdraweth not his eyes from the righteous.” That is the great point of this chapter. In the 33rd it was “man,” but here it is “the righteous” man that He more particularly looks at. The discipline that God exercises over man in order to win him to God is far more strictly over the righteous man, to keep him right; that if He has justified him it should not be to His dis honor. For it is a terrible thing when a saint of God gets wrong. “But with kings are they on the throne; yea, he doth establish them forever, and they are exalted. And if they be bound in fetters and be holden in cords of affliction” —and sometimes kings come under these things very decidedly— “then he showeth them their work” (vers. 6-12). It is not entirely occupied with the righteous; but it is particularly with kings. “But the hypocrites in heart heap up wrath: they cry not when he bindeth them. They die in youth, and their life is among the unclean.” But what He has pleasure in is this: “He delivereth the poor in his affliction, and openeth their ears in oppression. Even so would he have removed thee” —he applies it to Job— “out of the strait into a broad place, where there is no straitness, and that which should be set on thy table should be full of fatness.” It was to be accomplished strictly, exactly, as Elihu explained it. “But thou hast fulfilled the judgment of the wicked: judgment and justice take hold on thee.” Job was not yet right. There was a process going on under Elihu, and it was shown by this—that he never interrupts him. It is not without a little proof that Elihu saw signs as if he were going to speak, but he stops him. I need not enter into the proof of that now.
Then he says: “Because there is wrath, beware lest he take thee away with his stroke” (vers. 13-26). He is infinitely above our thoughts. “For he maketh small the drops of water.” Elihu illustrates it by God's power with outward things. And if that is the case with so small a thing as the rain, how much more with a thing so great as the soul of man; the soul of man that is due to the inbreathing of God Himself? “They pour down rain according to the vapor thereof, which the clouds do drop and distil upon man abundantly. Also can any understand the spreadings of the clouds, or the noise of his tabernacle?” The speaker takes up the same line of argument that Jehovah does when He speaks out of the whirlwind in the latter part of this book. “Behold, he spreadeth his light upon it,” etc. (vers. 27-33). For the cattle are very sensitive to a thunderstorm, and show that they regard it as a very serious matter; there are men who only harden themselves. But here Elihu gives his last words, and is very much occupied with describing a thunderstorm. For he had proper thoughts about God even in outward matters.
“At this also my heart” —that is a very different thing from the mere instinct of the cattle my heart trembleth,” etc. (37:1-8). Even the beasts have more sense than some men. “Out of the south cometh the whirlwind,” etc. (vers. 9-12). That is, he shows the absolute sovereignty of God. And if that is true about natural things, is it not still more necessary in spiritual things? “He causeth it to come, whether for correction” —that is, what he was showing about the dealings with Job— “or for his land, or for mercy. Hearken unto this, O Job; stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God. Dost thou know when God disposed them, and caused the light of his cloud to shine?” What do you know about it all? “Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him which is perfect in knowledge?” etc. (vers. 13-19). That is, that with even those men of God, it is only in part we know. There is great darkness even now. “Shall it be told him that I speak?” “Oh,” he says, “I should be frightened if such a thing were to be. I speak in the presence of God.” “If a man speak, surely he shall be swallowed up,” etc. (vers. 20-24). There was just where Job had made a mistake. He was wise of heart, and he admired the fruits of grace, and all that was quite inconsistent with what was due to God. And here ends Elihu. Immediately we find the Lord interposing; that I reserve for our next occasion.

Keeping in the Love of God

There are two things we may observe in connection with, or as brought out, in this scripture. The one is the interest of God—Father, Son and Holy Ghost—in His own; and the second, in the midst of all here, the heart bounding in the competency of Him Who is able to present us faultless. Father, Son and Holy Ghost, for us, in us!
We may, at times, be ready to take a somewhat despondent view of things, and to look back on days that have gone. I do not deny there were bright days which even we have known; I do not deny that corruption had set in even in apostolic days, and is still more manifest now. The mystery of lawlessness already wrought then, and never more than at the present time. Man does not like any god but himself. And we need to take care that we come not under these powers of evil. There is abroad, even amongst the children of God, a spirit of insubjection to God's word, and there is danger of that word being given up.
A Christian wrote recently that in Scotland the thought of inspiration was pooh-poohed, but that we in England were far behind. I am not sure that we are. There are very few books that issue from Oxford or Cambridge which we can read with profit in the things of God, because of this latent, if not full-blown, unbelief. We should not underrate the corrupting influence of the day, but there is what still abides. God is the unchanging one. The Lord Jesus is “the same.” The Holy Ghost is eternal. I do not say our outward privileges in all respects are the same. But if we have not the apostles' presence and vigilance, we are commended to God, and the word of His grace, and these abide. We ought to feel for the people of God everywhere, and should seek to warn those who do not know whither they are drifting, and if any of us, through the mercy of our God, have been kept from the whirlpool, may we seek grace and strength to rescue others who are equally dear to God.
What assurance of God's unfailing interest in His own, we have here, in the very opening of this epistle! “To them that are called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ (R.V.). “Beloved.” What! Are we still beloved of God? Yes. We know the Father's love, and the love of Christ. Does not this fall in with Revelation 1:5., where it is “to Him that loveth us” (R.V.). “Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it.” He “loved me, and gave Himself for me.” But it is not only what He did, but what He does. “To him that loveth us.” And now, in this verse of our Epistle, we are assured that we are, still, “beloved in God the Father.” How sweet is all this!
Then amidst all the corruption of the present scene, we are “kept” or “preserved” for the Lord Jesus. When the Lord was here, He could say of His disciples, “I have kept them"; but now, no longer in the world, He prays the Father to keep them, and not them alone, but others who should believe on Him through their word (John 17). So here, having been espoused as a chaste virgin to Christ, we are kept for the Lord Jesus Christ and shall be presented to Him gloriously.
Having loved us, He loves us still. His love is unchanging, eternal. Oh, that we were ever mindful of this, and more constrained by this love of Christ, a love without change indeed.
There is a world within a world, a circle, a redeemed company here in the world, precious to God—the church of God. Where do we find this? Not in heaven, but on earth. And we are called to walk in the truth of it, in the reality of it, for it is a divine fact. This we can only do as Christ is our object. If our object be the saints we shall be disappointed. Christ is the same at the beginning, at the end, and all along the course. The world knows nothing of this. Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. Every Christian on the face of the earth forms a part of it. If alas! you give up your confession of it, yet the truth remains. However dim our eyesight we are called to rise above and walk as heavenly men in the light of Christ risen. We believe in God, but we have not seen Him; that is faith. “I am going away,” said our Lord; “Ye believe in God, believe also in me.” In the consciousness that He was going to God as He came from God, so He shows His interest in His own and gives them part with Him, although we are here in a corrupt scene. Cannot we honestly confess to our shame, that we are not so anxious for communion with Him, as the Lord is for ours? How many things fleeting draw our hearts! What abides? The earth? No, that is what scoffers may say, but we know it shall be burnt up. The heavens? They shall pass away. What then, should our hearts covet? Should it not be the growing knowledge of Him with whom we are going to spend eternity—even the Savior?
Do you think the world a pleasant scene, or is it to you a dark or squalid place, as Peter calls it (2 Peter 1:19)? Our home is not heaven exactly; the Father's house is our home. What would heaven be without the Savior? Here we are brothers and sisters, the family of God, but is this our home? We are looking to be in the Father's house where is the Savior. The Father's house is in heaven.
In verse 20 we read: “But, ye beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” There is no legitimate ground for despondency or discouragement. There is, after all, a power within us greater than that in the world, for have we not the Holy Ghost? Why, then, should we shake like an aspen leaf when in face of danger? If our faith is in God, are we not exhorted to press through all difficulties and go forward?
Perhaps you have thought that this was a day of scattering only—that it was now too late to build with everything in ruin. No, the call remains; “Building up yourselves on your most holy faith.” There is a divine way in every difficulty, in every circumstance. Here it is we are to build up one another; we are never called to walk as independents. There is in this world a “habitation of God,” and for this we are being builded together through the Spirit; and we are instructed how we ought to behave ourselves in this house of God (not meaning “a place of worship” so-called), in what is divinely formed of “living stones.” The building is not one of earthly material, but, if we look at it from God's side, of “living stones,” “whose house are we,” whether “assembled” or not, yea, every day; for the truth of God is not like sugar or salt that is subject to atmospheric influences. Truth is not merely for the time; we want all the word at every time. We cannot afford to surrender one little bit of God's truth. All scripture is profitable.
“Praying in the Holy Ghost.” Here is divine power. We are called to pray in the power of the Spirit. God would not put an embargo on our prayers. He says: “In everything by prayer,” etc. In every trouble go to Him. If my request be in the Holy Ghost, He will give it. If not, He will throw the refuse away; but go to Him. He delights to give what is good. “Keep yourselves in the love of God.” Is not this something like being keepers “at home"? Young women are exhorted to be “workers at home” (Titus 2:5, R.V.). “The love of God.” “The mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.” “Praying in the Holy Ghost.” What a sufficiency is here!
We need mercy still. Are we apt to be lifted up? Not when we are conscious of our need of mercy. This we need as much today as when we first found it. Not always of the same character, perhaps, but God is rich in mercy of every kind. This is so grand we must treat every saint alike! Must we? I don't think so. I once heard it said, They never, when children, got what they cried for, but a rod. Petulance should meet with correction, not with encouragement. We cannot act towards a naughty brother as to one walking well. There are the responsibilities of the family and of grace.
“Unto Him who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before His glory,” etc. Can He not do it—a God of illimitable power? You might not think it, but the heart believes it, because He has said it. Is it enough to wait for it when the church shall be presented faultless? Surely not. We want to walk according to it now. I know all will be faultless then, but should it not be my ambition (as the apostle Paul says) to be well pleasing to Him in all my ways now?
To the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, before all time, and now, and forevermore. Amen.” Is He not worthy?

Ephesus, Smyrna and Pergamos: Part 1

Ephesus is a name of note in the history of the church, and amongst the other churches of Asia. God wrought special miracles there by the hand of Paul; so that from his body were brought unto the sick, handkerchiefs or aprons, and the dis-eases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them. From Ephesus all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks. The church there was highly privileged, enjoying for three years continuously the ministry of the great apostle of the Gentiles, the man who had been in the third heaven (Acts 19:10; 20:31; 2 Cor. 12:2), and only in the Epistle to the Ephesians does Scripture give, in its full height, the doctrine of the church, To the elders of Ephesus, Paul delivered his weighty final charge, in which he warned them of what would take place after his departure; not only grievous wolves entering in among the flock, but of their own selves men arising speaking ‘perverted things.'
The Lord, too, in the address to Ephesus, assumes a general character, which might apply to any or all of the churches. “To the angel of the assembly in Ephesus write: These things says he that holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lamps.”
This is appropriate to the first of the seven churches, which, in some respects, is representative of the church in general, while in several of the following epistles the Lord takes a special character corresponding to the state of the particular church. Here He holds the seven stars in His right hand. It is salutary to remember this. All who exercise subordinate rule and ministry in the church are in the right hand of Christ. They may have no human ordination, but if truly Christ's servants, the blessing of the flock is to recognize them and show a sympathetic attitude toward their labors. “We beg you, brethren, to know those who labor among you, and take the lead among you in the Lord, and admonish you, and to regard them exceedingly in love on account of their work” (1 Thess. 5:12, 13). What a steadying influence too it has, to remember that Christ walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: His feet like fine brass as burning in a furnace. Yes! there is One always walking about, so to say, amongst us, treading out, with feet of burning judgment, all sin and evil.
The warnings of Paul in Acts 20. to the Ephesian elders, do not appear to have failed of effect. For here, in the Epistle to Ephesus, the Lord specially commends the assembly's faithfulness in these respects: “I know thy works and [thy] labor and thine endurance, and that thou canst not bear evil [men]; and thou hast tried them who say they are apostles and are not, and hast found them liars” (Rev. 2:2). Works and labor are not exactly synonymous. Works are definite acts done; labor the exertion which produces them. The work may give but a small indication of the labor it required. A long journey on a cold night—inconvenient and perhaps painful—may be taken for only a small work at the end. The Lord assures us that He knows the work and the labor.
The Lord commends, infereritially, what had been their early fervor; but it was a fervor which they were allowing to wane: “Thou... endurest and hast borne for my name's sake, and hast not wearied: but I have against thee that thou hast left thy first love. Remember, therefore, whence thou hast fallen, and repent and do the first works; but if not, I am coming to thee, and will remove thy lamp out of its place, except thou shalt repent” (vers. 3 5). There is only one thing against Ephesus: “Thou hast left thy first love.” But that is the root of declension, either in a church or an individual. A sin into which a Christian may fall, is merely the outward tact; there had been failures in secret before the outward transgression was allowed to appear. But independently of this, it is precious to know that the Lord values the saints' heart-devotion. At Ephesus there was a great deal that was most excellent, and which the Lord does not fail to acknowledge. He knew their works, their labor and endurance; their abhorrence of evil men; their intelligent and faithful rejection of those who claimed apostolic office or position; but all this would not suffice, if love to Himself were deficient or declining. Note, then, as deeply significant, that at the outset of the church's history, there is discovered, declining love to Christ, the root and starting-point of all failure and sin.
In this lapsed condition, the call is to-(1) “Remember whence thou art fallen,” and (2) “Repent, and do the first works.” This definite and emphatic call has been remarkably disregarded. At the Reformation there was no recognition of the status from which the church had fallen. There was the revolt of even natural conscience against iniquities of the so-called church; there was recovery of salvation by faith, and of right to the use of the Scriptures; but no serious inquiry as to the original status of the church, or as to scriptural practice in the church. The Lord's Supper in its true simplicity and beauty was not restored. The place and office of the Holy Spirit in meetings and worship were not seen; and instead of the Spirit's power and guidance, a substitute—humanly invented liturgies were continued; and in place of a free exercise of the Holy Spirit's gifts in the body of Christ, a humanly appointed clergy was still permitted. So also in subsequent movements since the Reformation, resulting in the numerous denominations now existing; there has been in some, most blessed evangelizing zeal; in others a rallying for one doctrine or ordinance or another; but not any going back to the point from which the church had departed; no solemn calling to mind whence it had fallen, no studying it out from the Scriptures; and by consequence, no repentance and doing the first works. This is deeply important for the church today—and indeed, for any case of repentance—to go back, and not stop short of the topmost point of departure.
Failing repentance, the lamp will be removed. This is announced at the beginning of the church's departure. The word “quickly” in the fifth verse of the Authorized Version is not authentic; the removal of the lamp is certain, but the judgment may be delayed, and has been long delayed; it is not until Laodicea that the dead profession is spued out of Christ's mouth. Repentance, however, as a matter of fact, not having taken place, the sentence is certain, THE LAMP OF CHRISTIANITY WILL BE REMOVED FROM CHRISTENDOM.
In the Ephesian epistle, two evils are seen as intruding into the church, but not yet allowed. One is the early appearance of clerical assumption, and the Lord commends resistance to the claim: “Thou hast tried them who say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars.” No-where in scripture is there any authority for the continuance of apostles, or any provision for succession to the apostolic, function or office. The office was temporary, to lay doctrinally the foundation of the church, and an apostle must be a witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus (Acts 1:22). True ministry, according to Scripture, in the power of the Holy Ghost, is indeed blessed, and is provided for, for the Holy Spirit remains with the church to the end (John 14:16). But office and gift are two distinct things, and there is no authority upon earth now to appoint to an office in the church, either apostle, bishop or elder, or deacon.
The other of the two evils is Nicolaitanism. And what, it may be asked, is Nicolaitanism? An elaborate explanation has been proposed, based solely on a supposed etymology of the word Nicolaitan; Nike- in Greek being victory, and laos, the people. Hence it has been assumed that Nicolaitanism meant an overcoming of the people; and this is taken to be the rise and prevalence of clerical authority. But this derivation, even supposing it to be actual, and not more than a fancy attached to a mere name, would just as well bear the meaning of a victory by the people over some one else, as a victory by some one else over the people. The explanation, however, is based upon a fallacious theory; ‘a name in Scripture,' it is alleged, ‘is always significant.' That it is SOMETIMES so, that it may be so, would be within the mark of sober interpretation; but to adopt it as a universal rule, would give a precarious scope to imagination, and certainly tend to unsound exegesis.
That Nicolaitanism can scarcely mean clericalism seems palpable from the fact that clericalism has already been dealt with in plain language in this same epistle (verse 2). And when so treated, the tone used towards each subject is so different as scarcely to permit of their being the same. The rejection of clericalism is very simply and moderately commended, but the utterance about Nicolaitanism is exceedingly strong, and it closes the judgment upon Ephesus: “I will remove thy lamp out of its place except thou repent. BUT THIS THOU HAST THAT THOU HATEST THE WORKS OF THE NICOLAITANS, WHICH I ALSO HATE.” We are not told what the works were. Another has said, “This strong expression in the mouth of our Lord, unquestionably points at deeds of abomination and impurity.” Ephesus, at all events, was faithful as to the solemn evil, whatever it was; they had the mind of Christ about it—there was no apathy; they “hated” the works of the Nicolaitans, and the Lord hated them too. How intense is God's hatred of unholiness! Respecting Nicolaitans, we shall find more in the Epistle to Pergamum. In this epistle, the promise is: “To him that overcomes, I will give to him to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” In the earthly paradise, man never ate of the tree of life, but was, after he had sinned, sent out of the garden to till the ground; and cherubim and a flaming sword kept the way of the tree of life But what man forfeited, and never tasted in the earthly paradise, is, in the paradise of God, the beatific food of the overcomer (chap. 2:7).
Persecution, suffering for the faith, is the prominent point in Smyrna, and the title which the Lord takes corresponds to this. “These things, saith the First and the Last, He who became dead and lived.” The Lord thus places Himself before the distressed Smyrneans as one who had passed through the extremity of suffering. He had been through death.
Besides tribulation, they were in poverty, and Omniscience knew it all; but that is not the form in which He conveys His consolation. He shows them that He knows their sorrows in detail. It was not enough for their hearts, or His, to say that He knew them in the gross. As to Israel in bondage (Ex. 7), “I know their sorrows,” so here, it is His heart speaking to their hearts. “I know thy tribulation and thy poverty; but thou art rich; and the railing of those who say that they themselves are Jews, and are not, but a synagogue of Satan. Fear nothing of what thou art about to suffer. Behold the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days. Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee the crown of life.”
When in tribulation of any sort, it supports the Christian to know that our Lord is acquainted with all the circumstances: He takes cognizance of minor trials far short of death. How gracious of Him to say, “I know the railing of those who say they are Jews, and are not.” In our Bibles this is translated “blasphemy,” which, in English, is commonly understood to be blasphemy against God. This, however, is not the true sense. It is railing by those who claim to be Jews, against those who had gone forth to Christ without the camp. “Jews” in this epistle may be both literal and symbolic. Literal for the actual church of Smyrna, for in apostolic times Jews were bitter haters of the gospel. Symbolically, and in later times, it would represent those nominal Christians who are professedly the church of God, who claim a superior religious status, but who speak evil against those who manifest the life of Christ—and in times past have persecuted them. Contempt and railing are a sore trial to the spirit—hard to bear; and the Lord tells the Smyrneans that He knew of the railing, and lets them know His estimate of their foes they were a “synagogue of Satan.”
There is another comfort here for the soul in trial. It may seem to us that the world, or men of the world, have a victorious course before them — that the power is all in their hands. But here it is shown that the limit of suffering is prescribed: “Ye shall have tribulation ten days.” When faith apprehends this, it can be still, knowing that God is the superior; He is over all. “Be still and know that I am God.” The book of Job lifts the curtain off Satan's doings, and shows that Satan can only go as far as God allows him. “All that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand” (Job 1:12). Later, God saw fit to extend the trial, but never without limit. “Behold he is in thine hand, but save his life” (Job 2:6). Smyrna, however, was honored with a higher martyrdom than Job: “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life.” “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies. He that overcomes shall in nowise be injured of the second death” (ver. 11). This does not imply that any saint, however feeble, would or could become liable to the second death. Its force is simply this—that, being persecuted and about to be cast into prison, they are exhorted to be faithful unto death (verse 10), and the overcomer is reminded for his comfort that, though he may be called upon to give up his life for his faith, that would be the end of his suffering; there was no second death for him, as there would be for the persecutors. The second death is being cast into the lake of fire, consequent upon the judgment of the great white throne (Revelation 20:14; see also Luke 12:5).
Viewing the seven churches as symbolical of the church's career, Smyrna represents the early persecutions. Seduction by worldly temptations follows later. This is usually the way. Satan tries to destroy; this failing, he seeks to draw aside. So in the case of Israel; destruction was attempted through Pharaoh, and afterward by seducing the people in the wilderness. So, too, with the blessed Lord: Satan, through Herod, sought to take His life; afterward came the temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4, Luke 4).
In the Epistle to Ephesus, the Lord says, “I know thy works,” etc. To Smyrna He says, “I know thy tribulation and poverty,” etc., but some meddlesome person has interfered with the text by repeating in Smyrna's epistle “thy works” in the list of things which the Lord says that He knows. The same has been done in the succeeding epistle to Pergamum, but both are without authority.
Smyrna is one of two churches, the other being Philadelphia, with regard to which the Lord has no adverse comment or criticism to make.
[E. J.T.]
(To be continued)

Truth: 2. Its Nature and History

Of the Gentiles it first speaks, showing that that which was “knowable” of God from the testimony of created things, contained a voice for any listening ear, wherever or whenever found. “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them, for God hath showed it unto them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” Creation, open to the observation of all, is full of manifestation of God. Above and around man there are strewn in abundance evidences of a divine hand at work, and the most darkened, one would say, would have real trouble to escape the conviction of a wisdom and power therein displayed nothing less than divine. Yet, widespread, continuous, and eloquent as is its testimony, men have not so read God's plain speech in it. And, remark, it is no mistaken reading of the evidence merely that we must lay to man's account, but the wholesale rejection of it. There was little room left, one would think, for mistake had not the hearts of men been really desirous of some alternative signification. Yet just there it lies. Anyone or anything but Him they would willingly invest with the glory of such handiwork. They say unto God— “Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways.” Yet, even in face of this want of desire after God, these silent witnesses remain, to be accusers, if nothing more; and the sum of their accusation here is that ungodly men are “without excuse.” This witness of creation to the great Originator and Sustainer of all, infinite in His might and wisdom, is fact beyond challenge or dispute. Designed so to testify to man, legitimately therefore is it to be reckoned as one more instance of truth bestowed, of truth resisted.
But not only is it so with regard to that which is knowable of God, with creation's testimony. Positive knowledge of Him was at one time possessed by men, however far from such knowledge universally he is now. “When they knew God they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Romans 1:21). “When they knew God!” We come back here to Noah and to man's new start in the new scene after the flood. Truth, as we have said, truth about God they had. It was on the threshold of Noah's new world that this was true of men—that, as a class, they knew God. It was an assurance man was abundantly furnished with, from this onwards—this objective knowledge of God. To conceive of Him objectively after such manifestation in mercy and judgment as in the flood had been witnessed could have occasioned no difficulty. Rather should He thereafter have been peculiarly present to the mind of man as existing and almighty. But how long did such knowledge remain? How long did it continue to be operative? Practical recognition of God, we learn, was early abandoned, and the knowledge and remembrance of Him gradually faded. Falling into folly through their reasonings, we read, men approved it an undesirable thing to retain God in their knowledge. Thereupon God gives them up to a reprobate mind. The One they have eliminated suffers Himself to be so excluded, as far as they are concerned. What that meant we shall soon see, when the space which has thus been vacated, has been re-peopled; but, for the present, let this oft-forgotten fact be noted-that, in the ancient inventory of man's possessions, the knowledge of the one true God was an item; and the occasion of, and reason for, his parting with this heirloom of the family, are also here revealed. “They did not like to retain God in their knowledge” is a solemn statement of their attitude towards the truth.
Nemesis is not far behind in the shape of error ready always to lay hold; for here it was that idolatry with all its horrors probably originated. Under profession of wisdom, men made rapid progress in their path of folly, until ultimately, become fools, they “changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man,” and, on the down grade ever, “to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things,” solemn instance of man's foolish, yet proverbial, proneness to exchange the truth of God for falsehood. By this surrender of the truth the way was at once opened for a new and stupendous movement to begin.
Idolatry, it can safely be said, is one of the most widespread and powerful influences the devil has ever used with men. In every corner of the earth is it found, and in every age since the flood has it been prevalent. It retains its full power, in different phases, over multitudes of men even now upon the earth, and has a future before it, according to prophetic scripture, of which men little dream. From the silence of early scripture regarding it, from the account of its origin in this chapter of Romans, and from various considerations in regard to its character, there is reason to believe that idolatry did not exist previous to the flood. Error took a more suitable form during a period when men were wedded in spirit to the world they were organizing, and developing—with thoughts of divine interest in, or interference with, their affairs far from their minds. But that stroke of judgment put an end forever to the idea that the only being of power man had to consider was himself; and the memory of that supernatural intervention would continue to haunt mind after all real reverence for, or fear of, the true God had been surrendered.
That innate consciousness of a higher power, and sense of responsibility, which man never loses, combined with this recollection of judgment once executed so terribly, left, when God was dethroned there, a void in his soul, a niche unoccupied; and, seizing the opportunity, the devil supplied the want by that most successful of all his terrible projects for man's ruin-idolatry. Error developed into a system of such a nature, that, behind the mere empty image-worship which constitutes its external aspect, there are, in the background, spiritual powers of evil who, in some occult, mysterious way, associate themselves therewith. This may sound strange to many today, but nothing less is affirmed by scripture of this remarkable phase of the depths of Satan. Anything like an analysis of the various forms of error is not here attempted. Truth, not its opposite, is after all our subject. But regarding this matter of idolatry, it cannot be sufficiently emphasized that, as far as man is concerned, it is simply an inevitable stage in a self-chosen course. Sufficient is it to recall that the delusion, varied in form and measure, of which men today are the victims, traces its history and owes its origin ultimately to surrender of truth originally possessed.
Chosen by men, error has virtually been. For just as retiring from the presence of light means withdrawal into darkness, so the giving up of the knowledge of the true God, with which men are charged in Romans 1, meant idolatry. A solemn thought it is that an attitude towards the truth is an attitude towards error as well. Any stand that is taken mutually affects each. Man can never be clear of both, so as to have nothing to do with either, nor is there a permanent halting-place between the two.
(Continued from page 144)
(To be continued)

Scripture Query and Answer: Luke 9:3 Compared With Mark 6:8

Q. -Will you kindly answer the following question?—In Luke 9 the Lord told the disciples not to take a staff when sending them out; whereas in Mark 6:8 He says, “Take nothing... save a staff only.” Can you say why the two Evangelists differ?
A. -If the enquirer has access to vol. 9 (N.S.) of the Bible Treasury (1913) he will find on page 356 what, we think, may be a solution of his difficulty.


F. E. RACE, Publisher, 3 & 4, London House Yard,
Paternoster Row, EL.

Lectures on Job 38-41

Lecture 10.-Chaps. 38-41
Chap. 38:1-38. The last three verses of this chapter properly belong to the next chapter, as we there enter upon animate nature. All that we have here is in regard to what is called inanimate nature. Yet it is a part of the creation of God quite as truly as is animate nature. Still, this latter rises above everything that is without life. For life is a very wonderful thing, even in an animal, however small, and distinguishes it from all that never had life. But here we have Jehovah speaking, and it was Jehovah who spake at Sinai and in a way suitable to the law. Because the law of God if given to man—sinful man, as it was—must be a ministration of death and condemnation. It is because of defect in human law that a bad man escapes, and therefore the better the law the greater certainty that it will reach one who deserves to be punished by it. And God's law is perfect for the object for which He gave it as the rule for fallen man upon the earth, to curb and restrain him; and if he be not curbed or restrained, to condemn (and in effect ending in death).
But here there was quite a different reason why God spoke; because there was an end, for those who believed—to know that God cares for them, and this too, entirely independent of Israel and the very special dealings of God for the chosen people. God's eye and God's hand too are ever in exercise over every creature on the face of the earth. It does not matter how small or how great; it does not matter how violent or how peaceful; this makes no difference, they are creatures of God. And God has to do with them, as He shows here. This was a grand lesson for Job. He had forgotten that God has to say to the very hairs of our head, for they are all numbered; and that not a sparrow falls to the ground without His knowing. But God takes it in according to His own grandeur, and His grandeur is quite beyond man's ability to comprehend, and this was exactly the object—to show the folly of Job venturing to judge God's dealings, venturing to pronounce, or to find fault for a moment. In an early chapter of the Book you may remember that Job wished that God would only lay aside His alarming nature, and allow him to approach Him that he might plead his cause, and that he might defend himself before God. Here came the answer. I need not say it was to be an answer to every person, to everyone that has the fear of God, in all ages. The value of this Book does not at all diminish by the light of Christ. On the contrary, we ought to understand the Book a great deal better for that light.
Here, then, we have Jehovah—you observe this name has not appeared after chap. 2 (except in 12:9) in the historical part. But now before the proper history is concluded (the last chapter is the concluding chapter of the history), before that it brings Him in again. We have Him speaking according to His authority, according to His relationship; and that is just exactly what “Jehovah” means. It is God not merely in the abstract, but God in relation to man upon the earth. And hence He answers Job. But He answers him here because it was a rebuke out of the whirlwind. “Then Jehovah answered Job out of the whirlwind.” It was meant to be a rebuke and that Job should really feel it and profit by it. And it is a terrible thing where God does not rebuke a soul upon the earth. What does it mean? It means judgment by and by forever. Those that are brought into relationship livingly with God have His interference—not merely the fact that they are in relationship, but the proof of it. And He was giving this grand light upon how it acts and how Job ought to have been—if he did not enter into it—ought to have been on his guard against setting up his own judgment about God. This is what He is overthrowing, in these chapters.
“Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?” He does not mean that Job did not know Him at all, but He did mean that his knowledge was limited, and that he had no adequate knowledge as to the dealings of God. “Gird up now thy loins like a man” —like a hero— “for I will demand of thee and answer thou me.” That was a remarkable word. God is going to ask him a number of questions. Job had been questioning the dealings of God. Now God retorts upon him; now He says, I am going to ask you, and answer Me like a man if you can. “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?” What an overwhelming question What did Job know about it? “Declare, if thou hast under-standing.” He had none. “Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest?” He did not know. “Or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened?” Because there are two things true of the earth. Stability for the time—that is what is referred to here, and why foundations are spoken of; and there is another view given in this very Book of Job, that it is suspended upon nothing. That never entered into the mind of anyone until comparatively late. Even the men of science have only just come to that. But there it was in Scripture before them. It is hung upon nothing. So that it has great stability and regularity in its course, so firmly are the foundations laid; but on the other hand the mighty power of God is shown, because, although it is hung upon nothing of the creature, it hangs entirely upon God's power.
“When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” The angels were made before the earth was made, but this is not at all referred to in Genesis 1; and the reason is plain. The point in Genesis 1:1, is simply to give, first of all, the creation of all the universe where there was nothing. I do not say out of nothing—that is folly; but where there was nothing, God created the universe, the heavens, the earth, and all their host, but in a very different state from what it is in now. Then the next verse shows a complete collapse that subsequently took place—what people call chaos; and the heathen always began with chaos, but we begin with God the Creator. But that chaotic condition was of all importance for man when man should be created upon the earth. Because how was man to get down to the bowels of the earth? How was he to know that there were treasures of gold, silver, precious stones, and marble and slate, and granite, and all the other most useful things that God had created? They were down deep in the earth, and the only way in which man could even suspect and learn certainly of their existence, and, consequently, to look for them, was by that confusion which brought up some part of that which was buried deep in the earth. So that all mining was founded upon that very fact of the power of God that caused the inner contents of the earth to appear, at any rate, on the earth's crust. Because what is deep in it no one can tell; no man can tell. Man has never penetrated but a very small way—I suppose not more than the thickness of an orange peel compared with the orange so little, into the bowels of the earth. What fills it, therefore, they do not know. They may reason; and as to what one man reasons, another man reasons to the contrary. They really do not know; and this is the thing that Jehovah was causing Job to realize-his total ignorance.
What is the effect, then, on a pious man that really believes in Him and His guidance? What is the effect of knowing our ignorance to be so immense? Reliance upon God. There was the great thing in which Job failed, murmured and found fault. He could not understand it. He might have believed and ought to have believed, and that is where we find our failure too, for we are quite as ready to reason and murmur as Job. Well, now, He speaks here clearly of the creation, and He carries that on in the verses which follow.
“Or who shut up the sea?” He had looked at the earth, and now he looks at the sea. “Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb? When I make the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddling-band for it.” Well, it was a very bold child, this new ungovernable creature that came into existence! And therefore He speaks about covering it up and swaddling it. “And brake up for it my decreed place and set bars and doors, and said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further; and here shall thy proud waves be stayed"? For who can control the ocean? “Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days"; now He looks at the vicissitudes of day and night, and He says now, “Was it you that set this all agoing, or do you know anything about it, how it was done?"... “Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the day-spring to know his place; that it might take hold of the ends of the earth” —that is, when the sun rises to gild it as it were— “that the wicked might be shaken out of it?” Because the darkness of the night is exactly what gives the opportunity for murder and burglary and all the other knaveries of men more than any other time. “It is turned as clay to the seal” —because when the earth is in darkness just like that, no more can you discover it than the clay before it is impressed with the seal.
But the moment the light shines, there you find its conformation and its beauty as God fixed upon it—but in the dark there is nothing to be seen. “And from the wicked their light is withholden, and the high arm shall be broken.” Then He turns to the sea again in another way. Not the rushing of the waters controlled by the power of God; but here He looks at the source of it. “Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea? Or hast thou walked in the search of the depth?” —the abyss.
Now He goes down lower still, because Sheol, or Hades, as we have it, that is, the receptacle of departed spirits—is represented under the figure at any rate, and it may be the reality, of the heart of the earth. It is not the same thing as the lake of fire, but here we have a prison for those that have died. “Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? Or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death?”
Now He comes up to the surface. “Hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth?” What do you know about it? “Declare if thou knowest it all. Where is the way where light dwelleth?” (vers. 18—21). And he shows that God has a store that man knows nothing about, which is caused to act whenever it pleaseth God. “Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow; or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail, which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war?” Look at the case of the Amorites, who, on the way to Beth-horon, fell by the hail stones that God rained upon them. And, again, He rained fire and brimstone, in other cases, on the cities of the plain. “Who hath divided a watercourse for the overflowing of waters; or the way for the lightning of thunder; to cause it to rain on the earth, where no man is?” Well, God does think of animals, He thinks of even the insect; He thinks of where no man is; there He has His thoughts and His plans and His goodness.
“To satisfy the desolate and waste ground and to cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth?” And it is remarkable how much rain has to do. People have been lamenting the immense and abnormal rain that we have had lately. But I saw a letter of an expert upon it, who looks forward, if God is pleased to give a good spring, that there will be an exceptional harvest. The fruit of it will be far beyond what has been had in England for many a day and many a year. That is in the hands of God. I do not pretend to say; let these men fight it out. “Hath the rain a father? Or who hath begotten the drops of dew? Out of whose womb came the ice? and the hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it?”
Then He looks also at the various stars and constellations. He asks, now what have you to do with them; do you know anything about how they came there, and how they have been ranged there? “Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades” —it is rather the bands of the Pleiades—at any rate it is a counterpart of the bands of Orion— “Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season?” They say that the signs of the Zodiac are here referred to, but whether that is the case is very uncertain. “Or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?” “Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? Canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?” Conditions have an immense effect upon the earth. All is having an influence either of a terrible kind or a beneficent kind. Who is it that has fixed all that? Was it you, Job? “Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds that abundance of waters may cover thee? Canst thou send lightnings, that they may go and say unto thee, Here we are? Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? Or who hath given understanding to the heart?” It comes down to man now. “Who can number the clouds in wisdom? Or who can stay the bottles of heaven” —well, all that is perfectly simple to God, and God has command in every whit of it— “when the dust groweth into hardness, and the clods cleave fast together?”
Well, now we come to animate nature. Clearly these three verses (39-41) ought rather to be the opening of the 3gth chapter. “Wilt thou hunt the prey for the lion?” It says, That is what I do, I find food for the lions and for the young lions too. There they are crouching in their dens, “and they abide in the covert to lie in wait.” I do not allow them to die for want of proper food. “Who provideth for the raven his food?” It is not only the great lion, but the comparatively small raven when his young ones cry unto God—there it is, they cry unto Him. They do not murmur; they cry. They tell their want, God has put that into them. It is a cry, and God hears it as directed to Himself. “They wander for lack of meat.” But He hears and answers.
“Knowest thou the time when the wild goats of the rock bring forth” (chap. 39:1)? They are very inaccessible as a general rule to man. They are found in the great heights of the mountains. “Canst thou mark when the hinds do calve? Canst thou number the months that they fulfill? Or knowest thou the time when they bring forth? They bow themselves; they bring forth their young ones, they cast out their sorrows; their young ones are in good liking” —though they are hunted to death, and man is fond of feeding on them, yet God provides for them— “they grow up with corn; they go forth, and return not unto them. Who hath sent out the wild ass free?” That is also an animal that shuns the human race. “Or who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass?” (vers. 1-8).
Thus we have had the wild goats, and then, the wild ass; and now, what is called here, a “unicorn.” I do not know why this name has been given to it. There is but one animal with a single horn, the Indian rhinoceros, found only in Southern Asia, but here it should be the wild ox. “Canst thou bind the wild ox with his band in the furrow?” We have the wild goat (ver. 1), the wild ass (ver. 5), and now the wild ox (ver. 9). They follow one another in rotation. This is a more powerful animal than either of the others. There is a rising in the scale. “Wilt thou trust him, because his strength is great? Or wilt thou leave they labor to him? Wilt thou believe him, that he will bring home thy seed and gather it into thy barn?”
Well, now we come to a very peculiar phrase. There is really nothing here about peacocks at all. It is a mistake. A peacock we find for the first time in Solomon's day. They were brought from India or from Ceylon; and it is curious that the name of the peacock as given in Kings and Chronicles is Sanscrit, not Hebrew. It is the language of India, the old classical language of India. But this is quite a different thing. It should read, “The wing of the ostrich waveth joyously; is it the pinion and plumage of the stork?” (ver. 13). It is really the ostrich in the first part of the verse, and the stork in the latter. There is a kind of contrast of the ostrich with its great fluttering and also its stupid indifference to its young with the stork. The stork is the most affectionate bird that God created. There is no bird that has such a great care for its offspring; and for that reason there are people in the world who allow them to be kept and honored, and not a soul must injure them under penalty. I believe, in Holland to this day, that the storks are found in buildings of any height; and they are allowed not merely on the firs of the forest, but they are very fond of being near mankind, and they often build their nests in chimneys and the like, and in lofty places; and people have such a respect for a bird marked by such affection that they will not allow anyone to shoot or injure them in any respect.
Now that is the bird that is contrasted with the ostrich. The ostrich on the contrary leaves its young just to get through as they can, and exposes its eggs in the sand and leaves them there to come to maturity or to be destroyed. She does not care about them. And this is referred to— “which leaveth her eggs in the earth, and warmeth them in dust, and forgetteth that the foot may crush them, or that the wild beast may break them. She is hardened against her young ones, as though they were not hers; her labor is in vain without fear; because God hath deprived her of wisdom.” And who is to dispute with God? The God that gives one bird its remarkable character of affection takes away the commonest sense even from another bird of immense power and great swiftness so that an ostrich could outrun a racehorse for a while— “she scorneth the horse and his rider.”
Now he comes to the horse itself; and the war horse in particular. “Hast thou given the horse strength? Hast thou clothed his neck with thunder?” What have you to do with it? “Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper? The glory of his nostrils is terrible” (vers. 19-25). Well, it is a splendid description indeed, but it is all for the purpose of overwhelming Job with the folly of his pretending to talk about God. Now He looks at the hawk, and the eagle more particularly. “Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom?” Who was it that conferred these peculiar powers on all these animals and birds? “Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest on high?” (vers. 26-30).
And at this point Jehovah appeals to Job again (chap. 40.). “Moreover, Jehovah answered Job and said, Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? He that reproveth God, let him answer it.” Then Job does answer. “And Job answered Jehovah and said, Behold I am vile, what shall I answer thee? I will lay my hand upon my mouth.” Jehovah repeats what He said before, “Wilt thou also disannul my judgment? Wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous?” That is what Job had done. “Hast thou an arm like God?” Who are you to talk to God about Him as you have done? “Or canst thou thunder with a voice like him?” Well, now, “Deck thyself” with the excellency of God if you can. There was Job—a poor woebegone man with all his flesh corrupt, and the very worms feeding upon him before he had died—in the greatest possible misery of his body. “Deck thyself with majesty and glory.” “Cast abroad the rage of thy wrath; and behold every one that is proud, and abase him.” Why do you not put down all the bad people in the world? “Look on every one that is proud, bring him low” (vers. 1-14). But he was entirely dependent upon God.
That is the reverse of the picture. God now takes up in the latter part of His discourse but two animals, and of an amphibious nature. They were neither among the beasts of the earth proper, nor were they birds of heaven. They were a mixture of animals that could enter upon the land, and could also betake themselves to the waters. And these are described under the name, first, of “behemoth,” and secondly, of “leviathan.”
“Behemoth” means what is called the hippopotamus It ought not to be called a river-horse, at all, which is what “hippopotamus” means. It is a river-ox. It is like an ox rather than a horse; of course, with its own peculiarities; and they are very peculiar. But still it is very much more after the appearance and habits of an ox than it is of a horse. And these two creatures were well known, particularly on the Nile. Both of them were familiar in the waters of the Nile; and in Arabia in the desert, to which these speakers belonged more or less—the edge of it or beginning of that which abutted on the desert—they were familiar by report, if not by actual visit to Egypt. They were familiar with these animals. They have been very much misunderstood by learned men. They have called them all sorts of strange things. For instance, many will have it that “behemoth” means an elephant, but when you read the account you will see it is very unlike an elephant, except that it is a big creature and with enormous strength, but beyond that, nothing.
“Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee” (vers. 15-24). When I made you I made him. “He eateth grass as an ox.” I have, therefore, good reason for saying that it is a river-ox, and not at all a river-horse. “Lo, now, his strength is in his loins and his force is in the navel of his belly.” I rather think that the expression in the l9th verse means, not that he makes the sword to approach unto him to kill him, but that He that made him made him a sword—made him a scythe; it is a scythe rather than a sword, and that is pretty much what the tusk of a hippopotamus is. It has great power in cleavings of all kinds, and in cutting. “Surely the mountains bring him forth food” —he can go to the mountain if he likes, in the neighborhood of it— “where all the beasts of the field play. He lieth under the shady trees” —that is where he loves to be— “in the covert of the reed, and fens”
Well now, in chap. 41, comes a still longer description of “leviathan,” and I understand that to be the crocodile. The crocodile is a very formidable beast. It is not so shy of the human kind; on the contrary, it preys upon men, women, and children, if it can get hold of them. It is not therefore at all so strange as the “behemoth” that we have been reading about.
“Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? You that can do such wonders; you can talk about God; and you can judge for God, and you can find fault with God! Well, can you catch leviathan with an hook? You ought to be able to do that. “Or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down?” (vers. 1-8). Be off with you! Do not you fight him. “Behold, the hope of him is in vain.” Spears or arrows are nothing to him and even a musket ball has no power to pierce the skin of a crocodile. “His scales are his pride,” because it is not only his enormous strength, and his practical invulnerability to any ordinary weapon, but there he is so confident in it himself.
So that here we may stop tonight. It suffices to show what God uttered to overwhelm Job in his self-confidence, and to show that his ignorance was so great, his powerlessness was evident; his lack of wisdom to enter into even the outer works of God. And, after all, what was God speaking about? Earthly things. Everyone of these things is merely of a natural kind, and has to do with what is visible, with what is seen and temporal. And if Job is so utterly unable to answer one of these questions—and in point of fact they are not answered to this day with all the brag of science—still, if that is the case about earthly things, what about the heavenly? What about the eternal things? There we are entirely and absolutely dependent upon God. We know nothing but what He tells us, and this is all our blessing—this is what we are waiting for—the unseen and the eternal, and, consequently, we of all people ought to be thoroughly dependent, looking up, confiding, and believing.
If the Lord will, next Wednesday evening I hope to conclude the Book, and to say a little of its general character also, besides saying what is necessary upon the particular chapter itself—the 42nd.
“Behemoth.” The name is, as competent men believe, an Egyptian designation (p-cho-mo, literally, water-ox) of the hippopotamus in Shemitic form.”
“Leviathan.” The leviathan here described (Job 41) seems to be, beyond doubt, not the dolphin or the whale, as some learned men have argued, but the crocodile. So most have been convinced since Bochart (Hieroz. 705, &c., 737, &c.).”
W. K.

Refusing and Giving up

I was thinking of the value of communion, and of the blessedness of having a life laid out for the Lord. Let us turn to some scriptures that combine the two. Genesis 14:17, Abraham returns from the slaughter of the kings victoriously. And the king of Sodom comes out to meet him. The Lord knew that would be a critical moment for Abraham, and He knows about our future path. It is hidden from us, but His word is given us for a lamp to our feet, a light for our path—that we may see the end, and have light for every step. But God sees the end from the beginning, and He knows what will befall us; He knows also how to prepare us for what lies before us. This was a moment of temptation to Abraham, and God gives Melchizedek to meet him first. God knows how to fit in all the blanks.
It is the practical teaching of this chapter rather than the dispensational that have before me. Here was refreshment for the victorious one. When God is on our side and the battle is the Lord's, it is then that victory is secured. Greater is Be that is for us than any possible combination against us. Now Abraham is prepared. When told that he is blest of the Possessor of heaven and earth, he can meet the king of Sodom, (ver. 21). He had not been a careless listener, he had treasured up the words in his heart and memory—he belonged to the Possessor of heaven and earth, and so he refused what the king of Sodom had to offer. Thus, too, must we be refusers. When the devil comes with the world (and Sodom is a type of the world looked at morally) Abraham is a refuser.
Egypt is the world in its prosperity, and Moses again is a refuser there. He made a blessed choice. He was a good calculator, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt. So Paul reckoned “that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Or like Rutherford:
“The King there in His beauty,
Without a vail is seen;
It were a well-spent journey
Though seven deaths lay between.”
That blessed One in the glory is the One we should be occupied with.
Babylon is the world in its religious aspect, and there were re fusers there also-Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. What a temptation to them to forget the claims of God, and to lower the standard. So the devil says today, Everything is broken up, you must not be too particular'! Away with such a thought! What a blessed man was Abraham! What a blessed man was Moses! What a blessed man was Daniel! How all this should appeal to our hearts! May we be saved from following Esau who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. Abraham would not have the world's store. The devil's subtlety is our great danger. Sometimes he tries to frighten us. He tried to get the blessed Lord from the place of dependence, but He stood firm, even when the time came when “it was your hour and the power of darkness.” He could not be overcome with terrors. He defeated Satan in every way.
We get something akin to this in Genesis 15, “Fear not Abraham.” God saw the fear, but He who had prepared him to meet the king of Sodom now encourages him, and says, ‘You are no loser,' Abraham, “I am thy shield” —what a place of blessed security to have God as our shield! — “and thy exceeding great reward.” In all our dangers a shield, and at the end an exceeding great reward! We often break down instead of enduring. Even Abraham did not wait for God, but took Hagar, and so had Ishmael, who was not the child of promise. May He keep us enduring!
Turn now to 1 Samuel 17. Here we have, in type, the secret of a life laid out for the Lord Jesus Christ, through the constraining love of Christ. It makes one think of Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. And the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” I have got everything in Him Who loved me and gave Himself for me. Well, we are all acquainted with this seventeenth chapter of Samuel. The Israelites here are all filled with fear, and David appears. Jonathan, a man not without faith, had shared the fear. He was a very interested spectator of what took place in the valley of Elah. When Adam fell, he did not seek the Lord, the Lord sought Adam, and announced the first gospel which was that the Seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head. David's stone smote the giant's head, and by his own sword was he decapitated (cf. Hebrews 2:14). Jonathan sees David (a type of the risen One) with the head of the giant in his hand, and his heart was won by David, who was more than conqueror. There was a sense of indebtedness in Jonathan. We have learned the love of our Savior surely, for has He not won our hearts, and does not His love constrain us? Here it is not “refusing,” but “giving up.” Jonathan's love is witnessed in that he stript himself. What a joy to Jonathan thus to express his love to David! I think of the Lord Jesus, and His servant Paul, as presented to us in Philippians 2, 3, where we have first the Lord emptying Himself for Paul, then, secondly, Paul stripping himself for Christ. What a sight! What an exhibition of transcendent love! Can we after this be surprised at the apostle's appraisal of things on which he had once set store! All Jonathan's things were given up and laid out for David. All that we have, time, health and wealth—may they all be for Him! Is He not worthy of all?
Let us compare Mark 10 with Philippians. What a superiority of place is ours now that the Comforter has come! The young man in verse 17 may be looked at as corresponding in some respects to Paul, notwithstanding the evident contrast also. For verses 19, 20 describe the young man's character. Yet treasure in heaven exceeds, which if he had only known (and had he been a good calculator he might have known) was infinitely better than anything he could give up. But the little bit of the world in his heart was more to him than Christ. After all, what have we of earthly things but what is lent to us? And are we prepared to surrender all when He demands what has been entrusted to us? Yet do we know that God's gifts and calling are without repentance?
Multiply (vers. 28, 29) anything that you may have given up a hundred times and you will see what you gain note), and the end, eternal life! It was a dangerous place to go to Jerusalem; and the Lord goes before them, and they are afraid. They shrink from the sufferings. And we are no better but we have received, not “the spirit of cowardice” (2 Timothy 1:7), but “of power"; so in Philippians 3 we see, not one amazed, not one afraid, but one not holding to things here, whose very possession of things he counted loss for Christ. The apostle knew he had something better than all these, and he esteemed. it a privilege to have the fellowship of the sufferings of Christ, and Christ in the glory was his goal He was going through everything, and at whatever cost, to reach Him.

Ephesus, Smyrna and Pergamos: Part 2

In Pergamum, we shall see, keen judgment of evil was called for, and the character which the Lord assumes is consistent with that. “These things says He that has the sharp two-edged sword.” But, nevertheless, His gracious way is shown in praising everything He can, before commencing to deal with what was wrong.
“I know where thou dwellest, where the throne of Satan [is]; and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in the days in which Antipas my faithful witness [was], who was slain among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against thee; that thou hast there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a snare before the sons of Israel, to eat [of] idol sacrifices and commit fornication. So thou also hast those who hold the doctrine of Nicolaitanes in like manner. Repent therefore; but if not, I come to thee quickly, and I will make war with them with the sword of my mouth.”
There is a change here, and a marked contrast with Smyrna. Smyrna was overwhelmed with tribulation and persecution—and more was yet predicted for her. To Pergamum, instead of “I know thy tribulation,” it is, “I know where thou dwellest, where Satan's throne is.” The Christian's calling is to be a stranger and a pilgrim, so that “DWELLING” where Satan's throne is, may imply very different relations with the world of which Satan is the prince. Probably the reference is to the time, the fourth century, when, under Constantine, Christianity became the public, accepted religion of the Roman Empire—that is, of the world. True, there had been martyrdom; but this was in the past. The Lord, however, is able to acknowledge—to their honor—that they still held fast His name, and had not denied His faith even in the days when Antipas, His faithful witness, was slain.
An important principle is shown in this epistle; that of assembly-responsibility. This, in some quarters, is not known; in some, not admitted; but Christ says, “Thou hast there those who hold the doctrine of...” And again, “So thou also hast those who hold the doctrine of...” If challenged as to evil doctrine held amongst them, those who would evade assembly-responsibility, generally answer, ‘We do not trouble as to what Mr. X holds.' But we cannot deceive Christ; His eyes are as a flame of fire. He knows everything that goes on, and He says: “Thou hast there those who hold the doctrine of...”
The Lord finds against Pergamum that they had there those who held the doctrine of Balaam. Balaam's case illustrates more than one kind of evil. One is, prostituting his prophetic office to the world for gain. In this he was a type of many in these last days—as Jude says of them they have “run greedily after the error of Balaam for reward” (Jude 11). In this aspect, the “doctrine of Balaam” typifies the evil of clericalism-the ministry of Christ turned into a polite and desirable profession, carrying worldly rank and honor. Ephesus had been commended for resisting this in its incipiency; but in Pergamum it had developed into a system; there was the “doctrine of Balaam.” To what dimensions it has since grown is common knowledge. There are Princes of the Church in Rome, and Lords, Spiritual and Temporal in England, with how many minor degrees of honor and wealth, who shall say? —though, indeed, to many of the clergy but little of the latter reaches. Worse, however, than worldly benefits, is that an official clergy too often cringes to the opinion of the day—superstition, when that is superstition; and rationalism in a day of rationalism. This is at its maturity in our time, when we see the professed ministry of Christ giving itself over to discredit Holy Scripture, and undermine Christianity in its essential doctrines.
God in His love for His people frustrated the designs of Balak against Israel, so far as that Balaam was not allowed to curse the people; and hence, after the failure of various attempts, “Balaam rose up and returned to his place, and Balak also went his way” (Numbers 24:14). But what followed? “The people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods; and the people did eat and bowed down to their gods” (Numbers 25:1, 2). The narrative does not give details of this latter effort of Balak and Balaam, further than to say that it was “through the counsel of Balaam” (Numbers 31:16); and in one chapter the Lord Himself states that “Balaam taught Balak to set a snare before the sons of Israel, to eat of idol-sacrifices, and to commit fornication"(Revelation 2:14). Now this is the other evil of the teaching of Balaam referred to in the Epistle to Pergamum. What, then, is this teaching? IT IS UNION WITH THE WORLD; giving up the Christian position of separation from the world (Romans 12:2; 2 Cor. 6:14-18, etc.), abandoning that separation, as no longer to be maintained; joining in closest union with the world, and bowing down to the idols that the world bows down to. This is the antitype of eating things sacrificed to idols, and committing fornication, with the daughters of Moab. And this received the sanction and encouragement of teaching in Pergamum.
There was another evil in Pergamum: “So thou also hast those who hold the doctrine of Nicolaitans in like manner.” Ephesus has been commended for hating the DEEDS of the Nicolaitans. But this is an advance in evil. The “deeds” were followed by doctrine which justified the deeds, and deliberately taught things which Christ hated. Satan felt his way warily with Ephesus; but at Pergamum the evil is admitted and taught. There is nothing to show that the Nicolaitans were a sect, separating from the flock. At first, in the Ephesian stage, they simply adopted vile practices; while later, in Pergamum, they taught their views, and were tolerated in so doing; but still not a sect. The Lord holds the assembly responsible for having them there, so that they were not separated as a sect, nor had the assembly put them away as evil persons. The Lord's language is extremely strong, both in approval of the Ephesians, and in condemnation of the evil doers.
The silence of scripture as to what Nicolaitanism was, is significant; possibly it is left so, that we may be able to fill in the blank with other evil doctrines which may arise, and which may be tolerated by an assembly. That the Lord holds the entire assembly responsible for what it allows in its midst is clear, whether deeds or doctrine. In the extended view of the seven churches, it is not difficult to surmise what Nicolaitanism probably typifies; that it is not clericalism is evident; for clericalism is dealt with under two other heads, as has been shown; neither is it licentious mingling with the world, for that is the doctrine of Balaam. But there is another evil that has blotted Christianity, enormous in dimensions, but the nature of which explains the reticence of Scripture about it. In the early centuries, asceticism infected the church; this developed into attaching a special virtue to celibacy. Instead of holiness being the result, in the end of the second century and subsequently, unnamable corruption was the fruit of it; that corruption has continued since, and survives today. How well this suits the language of our Lord to Ephesus: “But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans which I also hate” (Revelation 2:6). The doctrine of Balaam and the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, both tended to fleshly indulgence, but in totally different ways; one was in mingling with the world; but the other was a deeper form of corruption, licensed and allowed within the circle of the so-called church. Especially appropriate to this condition is Christ's character in the epistle: “He that hath the sharp sword with two edges.” “For the word of God is living and operative, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and penetrating to the division of soul and spirit, both of joints and marrow, and a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is not a creature unapparent before him; but all things are naked and laid bare to his eyes, with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:12, 13, New Translation). Following comes a solemn call to REPENT, addressed to that which represents the assembly. Not merely the evil-doers are held responsible, but the whole assembly—for the assembly is defiled by evil which it tolerates in its midst. Failing repentance, Christ threatens the evil-doers that He will come quickly, and fight against them with the sword of His mouth. This does not mean Christ's second coming—but that He would be turned into an adversary to the sinners. In the state of things such as at Pergamum, the word ministered by His faithful servants in the assembly would be as a sharp sword with two edges; normally, Christ's word to the saints is cheering, comforting, teaching, encouraging; but where evil exists, it is stern and sharp, and would be exceedingly uncomfortable, except to those who have a good conscience. If the word in the assembly be still resisted, Christ, Who is in the midst of the golden lamps (chap. 1.), will act in judgment in His solemn character as revealed in that vision-and this may be even to death (1 Cor. 11:29-32).
The promises to the overcomer are especially sweet and encouraging. They are two-
1. To PARTAKE OF THE HIDDEN MANNA. The manna in the wilderness was a type of Christ in His life as man down here, and a golden pot of it was placed in the ark of the covenant for a memorial (Ex. 16:33, 34; Hebrews 9:4); it was hidden there. Of this mystical store we shall partake in heaven. In the glory we shall have blessed communion with Jesus, in respect of His path of humiliation in this world. The angels cannot have, with Him, that mutual sympathy respecting the trials of the godly here, which we shall be privileged to enjoy.
“There on the hidden bread
Of Christ-once humbled here-
God's treasured store-forever fed-
His love my soul shall cheer.”
But not only in heaven; even here, the spiritual, the faithful, they who overcome while corruption spreads around, are given to partake of this secret delight.
2. “And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written, which no one knows but he that receives [it].” The word used here (ψῆφος) signifies a stone or pebble which, in ancient times, had two well-known uses. In criminal cases, a white stone was given denoting acquittal; or a black, signifying condemnation. Thus Paul, referring to his pre-converted days when he persecuted the Christians, says, that when they were put to death, he gave his voice against them—literally, it is, he gave his stone against them; the word is the same (Acts 26:10). But there was another signification; the white stone meant a token given to victors in the public games. Either of these two senses would suit the present case, though probably it is the latter which is intended for the overcomer in the Revelation. The white stone of our chapter, however, had a rare and precious attribute; it contained, and conferred on the possessor, a name which no one knew but he that received it. How sweet, amid the thronging myriads in heaven, for an individual to enjoy a secret shared only by himself I and the Lord of glory! Personality and private acquaintance with the Lord Jesus will not be lost in the numerousness of the glorified hosts. How compensative will this be for any toil or loss or adversity into which, down here, faithfulness may have led the overcomer!
“Called by that secret name
Of undisclosed delight
(Blest answer to reproach and shame),
Graved on the stone of white.”
(Concluded from page 159)

Truth: 3. Its Nature and History

As sure as he has a mind, so surely is it being dominated by one of these forces, and its reins are in the hand of one of these guides. Solemn also is it to consider the progress we make under either of them; former points of attainment recede rapidly behind us, as we are carried on with irresistible force. There is no standing still in the sense of thus far but no farther, when once we have surrendered to the current. Progress then is as inevitable as it is alarming. Thus, in the first case we considered, Satan successfully tempted man to doubt God's truth; the antediluvians he taught to disregard it; man since he has led to disown it.
From the mass of idolaters into which the race had degenerated, God in grace called one individual, Abraham, and opened communication with him Like springing water, the truth refuses to be entirely enclosed in the incrusted earth-but will break out somewhere, and form a channel for itself. In the incident referred to, we have such an effusion, and if Genesis 3 is correctly described as a fountainhead of history, no less might this important event, the call of Abraham, be so designated. It marks a new development in the ways of God with man. An important step it is—involving many issues, and a point from which diffuse many of those widely divergent lines, to which attention must be paid if the word of truth is to be rightly divided.
Leaving all others aside, we pursue the record of man's attitude towards the truth, as continued in the history of those who, according to the flesh, are the seed of Abraham. If, as we have said, it is the Jews distinctively who are referred to in Romans 1 as those who “hold the truth in un righteousness” there must be good reason to examine with care their particular case in Romans 3:20 we are told of such that they have “the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.” Unlike the Gentiles, the heathen world around them, they moved in a sphere where light from God was still shining. The scriptures they possessed. One, and the chief, of the advantages they had was, that unto them had been committed “the oracles of God.” These scriptures were composed of the Law, the Psalms, and the Prophets; but, as it was of the law that they made their boast, so it is with this distinctively that we must, in their past history, associate them. A people “under the law” has been, from Sinai, the character of their relationship with God. Now this form, this delineation of knowledge and of the truth is of such a special character that consideration must be given to what led up to, and gave occasion for, such a revelation.
The origin of this most interesting and remarkable people we find in what has been already spoken of-the call of Abraham. Wrapped up in that event were issues of unimagined import. God had a purpose in view even then, which today remains unachieved, regarding the nation of which the son of Terah was the progenitor. The point for us at present, however, concerns one branch of that purpose in particular. Briefly it is, that God designed that this people should be the custodian, and at the same time, the witness, of His truth in a world of darkness and idolatry. To this end was the law given. Were we recounting circumstantially how Israel came to occupy the status of a people under the law, or considering the larger question of legal righteousness versus grace raised in that issue, it would be necessary to show that when Israel, ignorant of themselves, and therefore full of self-confidence, declared at Sinai, “All that the Lord hath spoken we will do,” they quite gratuitously relinquished the principle on which their former relations with God were founded. The unconditional promises to the fathers lay at the foundation of their history as a separate community. And these, with the interventions of grace necessary for their accomplishment, were the terms on which everything heretofore had been based. But enrolling themselves now under a covenant of obedience as the condition of blessing they occupied a new platform entirely. A fresh revelation, the law, suited to that new position, is given. Thus, then, did they come to be possessed of the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. This was the truth of which they, in turn, were the recipients, and their attitude to which would determine so much.
Here, again, failure was not long in coming. Early indeed was their lapse from its solemn directions manifested. At the very time Moses was receiving from God that which He had to communicate to them, they were making and worshipping the golden calf as the god that had brought them out of Egypt. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” —so read their first commandment. The worship of this calf of gold was their answer to that—a remarkably shameful betrayal of their trust, surely! a deliberate and flagrant offense against what they had but newly pledged themselves to obey! “The form of knowledge and of the truth in the law” met with no better response than truth had at any time encountered. Their whole after-history witnesses constant disobedience and departure from God. So plainly is this seen throughout their course, so persistent and stubborn in transgression are they from their worship of the golden calf in the wilderness right on to their rejection of their Messiah, that detailed instances do not require to be given. The less need there is for this, since Stephen, in his address before the council (Acts 3), makes good his accusation, that “ye do always resist the Holy Ghost; as your fathers did, so do ye,” by just such a group of details in their history of backsliding as sets it in the strongest light. One of these illustrative details, the worship of the golden calf, already alluded to, forms by itself a telling point in Stephen's indictment. “They made a calf in those days and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.”
This has been called Israel's original sin. The term is not altogether inapt. It is one of those critical actions, suiting such a purpose as Stephen's, that stand out prominently in history as the point of a new departure, a projecting rock that gave direction to the tide. No wonder it has been termed “Israel's original sin.” It has all the characteristic features implied in such a description. First of all, it is the first action of the people recorded after the solemn ratification of the covenant in Exodus 24, the first movement they made on the new platform in their new status, as a people “under the law.” Then, that blow, aimed at the very throne of God itself, so to speak, was right in the face of the very first item of that law they had pledged themselves to obey— “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Again, original sin is besetting sin-the first deviation of the pendulum, ensuring the future oscillations. Israel's characteristic sin—what has it been throughout their history but a continual lapse into that very idolatry against which their calling and election were the standing witness? In many respects the similitude to Adam's transgression may be traced. In this, in particular, that in that first, that primary departure, their whole aftercourse of iniquity lay wrapped up.
To justify God's own estimate of their character on that occasion they did not fail, for “a stiff-necked people,” they have been right on. Again and again was restoration given them until one would think they had forfeited all claim on the One towards whose truth they showed themselves so “stiffnecked in heart and ears.” Since the day they came forth out of Egypt, God had sent unto them prophets “daily rising up early and sending them,” reverberating without ceasing the truth they were so prone to “let slip” or “drift away from,” but all in vain; for they would not hearken or obey. Of none but Israel could He say so truly, “All day long I have stretched out my hand unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.”
That is to say, in this last case, where there was everything, humanly speaking, to induce men to maintain the only proper attitude towards God's truth—everything, on the other hand, in the nature even of self-interest to warn them against disobedience of the One concerning whom it was their true glory to be the witnesses—His word has been continually and deliberately disobeyed. Not that this hindered them, in their fleshly pride and self-righteousness, from assuming a superior position to all others, because of the truth they possessed after a material fashion; for this their way was their folly, and a mark of their delusion by Satan is, that they “rested in the law and made their boast of God.” Their possession of the truth and knowledge of the one true God, from the beginning of their history, cannot be denied, and a prize and privilege it was to be the custodians of both.
But responsibility, great and heavy, attaches likewise to the place of witness-bearing. Privilege and responsibility go together. True of individuals, translation to the corporate sphere is only raising the figure to a higher power, the gravity of that responsibility simply being increased by reason of the more extended nature of its incidence. By the people of Israel this should have been remembered, and to us, forming part of that which was made “the pillar and ground of the truth,” it should, by the way, be a serious thought. The whole question of corporate standing and liability is a very deep and far-reaching one. That question never had fuller illustration than in the case of Israel. As a people they were blessed; as a people they were responsible. Jehovah's chosen people, in a world where every other national worship was of idols, they constituted His sole witness there. Provided with His law and truth also, they were His appointed trustees for the use and preservation of that holy deposit. Their failure, then, in both matters, was nothing short of disaster. Nor has that failure been occasional by any means, but continual—consistent, fatally consistent, with all the uniformity of a law of nature, have Israel shown themselves in their unfaithfulness to the great trust committed unto them. As Romans 2:23, 24 declares, “Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law, dishonourest thou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written".
Not merely towards that body of doctrine comprised in the “form of knowledge and of the truth in the law” itself has their antagonism been shown; but the dawn of the “better things” of the new covenant found them prepared for still stronger resistance. True to their character, their opposition rose in intensity, in proportion to the fullness of the truth presented. Its high-water mark was surely reached when He of whom their scriptures testified presented Himself, and met rejection, and lastly death at their hands. In this, no doubt, they did but prove themselves of that “generation of vipers” of which Christ Himself spake (Matthew 23:33). To show venomous hatred of those sent to proclaim the truth seemed always to characterize those in that line of descent. Their fathers had done so. So would they, for “Behold I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes, and some of them ye shall kill and crucify, etc.” Heredity, transmission of character, accumulating forces, reversion to type, are terms in frequent use in biological science, undoubtedly having some place in the affairs of men. Do they find no illustration, as to the matter in hand, from the Savior's words to the Pharisees: “Ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up, then, the measure of your fathers.... That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth from the blood of righteous Abel.... Verily, I say unto you all these things shall come upon this generation.”
Jerusalem, that killed the prophets, has heard the voice of One, the Prophet like unto Moses, who came, with grace on His lips, and love in His heart, proclaiming truth beyond anything they had yet conceived, and showing credentials such as no prophet had ever possessed. “The law and the prophets were until John, since that time the kingdom of God is preached.” But these children in the market-place would respond to nothing, the new message of grace as little as the old of law. The truth He proclaimed they resolutely refused to hear; the power accompanying it they ascribed to Beelzebub; the Lord Himself they hurried to the cross, to silence, if possible, the voice that rebuked their persistent unbelief. The Truth Himself, Christ did not fail to witness of it, nor to testify how far they were from it; but such was their ruinous pride and folly that, rather than be shown their darkness, they will extinguish the Light itself. Awful effect of the blinding power of Satan over the minds of those who reject the truth! As in instances we have already considered also, the blindness men have preferred, God has given them over to. “God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see” (Romans 11:7, 8). This blindness continues. Even over that part of revelation which can be called “their own scriptures,” and with the letter of which they are not unfamiliar, the shadow is cast. “Until this day remaineth the same vail, untaken away, in the reading of the old testament.”
Likewise of the truth now going out to the world, and during the whole course of this dispensation, it is true that “blindness in part hath happened unto Israel, Until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.” Light shall yet arise for them, but first there intervenes a still deeper darkness. The future crisis finds them, the faithful remnant excepted, universally surrendered to the delusions of Antichrist. Fittingly does Jerusalem's cup of retribution contain this ingredient in return for the haughty refusal of Him who became “minister of the circumcision for the truth of God to confirm the promises made unto the fathers.” Him they refused and the grace and truth He brought. The Antichrist they will receive, and the darkness and error he spreads and, propagates. Such is their record, and such their future nationally, and as the immediate prospect, according to the word—the fact of their eventual restoration notwithstanding. The attitude of Israel towards the truth committed to them is the most extreme we have yet considered, amounting to willful and stubborn disobedience; consequently they are overwhelmed in error beyond all others.
[J. T.]
(Continued from page 16o)

Fragment: Devotion in Service

“To me to live is Christ.” So said the blessed apostle; and are we not called to be followers of Him as he was of Christ? Can anything be more blessed? And do we not happily confess that He “loved me and gave Himself for me?” May it be ours to devote ourselves to Him in all our daily walk and service!

A Plea for the Gospel

One often hears the complaint, ‘Oh, we seldom have a conversion.' If asked the reason the answer is often, Well, we have a preacher every Lord's day, and the testimony seems faithful enough; but, as far as we know, souls are not led to confess and own the Lord Jesus as their Savior through the preaching. And the blame is tacitly thrown on the preacher, as if he were the only one responsible in the matter.
But is this so? Are we not all responsible in measure? Will this shirking of individual responsibility do for God? I trow not. Surely He will call to account each one who is indifferent to the well-being of precious souls. And can we close our eyes to the fact that there is a manifest neglect of gospel services, and a condition of supineness, respecting the prosperity of the word, creeping into the assemblies of the saints in many places? This is a state of things which is evidently productive of sad results. Thus some Christians are not seen at the gospel service so often, by far, as the new moon appears. The weekly prayer meeting is not attended so regularly as might be. Business matters, which might often be postponed, some prefer attending to on that evening, glad in their hearts of any excuse for absenting themselves. Yet this is only what one might expect. For neglect of perishing sinners' souls goes along with carelessness and sterility in one's own.
Oh! that our hearts could rise up more fully to the contemplation of God's own love towards the ungodly in giving His own Son to die for them (Romans 5:8). Methinks we should thus be stirred up to increased diligence in seeking to help on the work of soul-winning.
But some one will, say, probably, 'What can I do? I cannot preach. I do not feel qualified for the work.' Perhaps not. Still there is much work to be done besides preaching the gospel. We can seek to bring our friends and neighbors to the gospel services, for instance, so that they may hear the words of life. It would be well also if we cultivated a more implicit faith in the power of the word alone to reach the hearts of sinners. Again, a tract may be given by the way, or a, word spoken to some weary heart, which may result in eternal blessing for the soul, and bring glory to the name of the Lord. Jesus. Thus every Christian may be used in some way, if not in the same way, in proclaiming the message of salvation to all, through Christ.
Then, further, if Christians are desirous of witnessing blessing at the gospel preaching (and who are not?) there should be an understanding amongst them as to what they need, and perfect agreement too. For it is absolutely necessary that there should be unity of purpose and desire as well as united effort. Thus having a definite object before them they could come together for presenting their requests (Matthew 18:19).
Now in Acts 1:14 we have an example of this unanimity as to a definite want seen in practice. We read, “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.” Again, “They were all with one accord in one place” (Acts 2:1). Thus were they, brethren and sisters as well, united in prayer for blessing, and together in waiting for, and expecting, the fulfillment of the Father's promise—the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 1:4). See also Acts 4:31, 32.
Let us seek then to imitate this example, showing by our reiterated supplications our felt need and dependence upon God; and by our continued waiting, our trust in our Father, and faith in His infallible word of promise.
But if we desire to see souls saved through the preaching we must avoid the pernicious spirit of hyper-criticism which is so apt to creep into our midst, working untold mischief in many ways. Instead of watching the preacher's words, like a cat does a mouse, ready to pounce upon him at the first slip in word or sense, would it not be better to have our hearts occupied with God in prayer that He would give the speaker the right word, and by His Spirit prepare the hearts of sinners present to receive it? To see this would delight the heart of our Father, and, I am sure, He would not fail to bestow the blessing so manifestly desired by His children.
And those who preach the gospel should realize fully the solemn fact that nothing but Christ and Him crucified will meet the need of the sinner. Let us see to it, therefore, that we present Him, and the way of salvation through Him, clearly and distinctly to those who listen, so that they may not mistake the road that leads to life, and strive to enter in some other way. But in holding up Christ the Savior to the gaze of others, let us hide behind Him that nothing of self be seen.
To this end we should seek to be natural in manner, and plain of speech, preferring rather to use short words, if giving the sense, than long ones, which may be sometimes misplaced and not always understood by the whole of the audience. Hearing preachers sometimes trying to imitate the style and language of their superiors in education, one is painfully reminded of the fact that when David put on Saul's coat of mail it did not fit him May we be careful, then, to avoid bringing ridicule upon the glorious gospel by such untoward sin. And let us strive rather, by an earnest and unpretentious manner, to convince souls that we have their welfare at heart, and not our own aggrandizement. Faithfulness in this way and continued waiting upon God cannot fail to be owned by Himself in blessing on souls.
W. T. H.


Q.-Rom. 14:13 2I; 1 Cor. 8:8-13.
Would you please state what, in your view, is the bearing of these scriptures on the subject of the paper in the September Bible Treasury, page 137, “The use of wine"? A. R. C.
A.-"The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.”
The things of peace and mutual building up are here presented as the object of our pursuit. And in so doing we are serving Christ, and are well-pleasing to God, as well as approved by men.
It is not to the “dijudication,” or settlement of disputed questions that we are to receive one another. For one who is “weak in the faith,” a Christian brother, for whom Christ died, may have a conscientious difficulty in regard to the prohibitions of the Mosaic law, through ignorance of the liberty into which (not law, but) grace has now brought us. Yet true, as it is, that we have been called unto liberty, we are not to use this liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love to serve one another.
We are not called to satisfy the “whims” of our brethren in Christ, but it is blessed if, by denying oneself, we succeed in removing a stumbling-block to our brother's growth in the truth. “Weak” though such a one be, he that is strong is not to despise his weak brother, but to “please his neighbor for his good to edification (or building up). For even Christ pleased not Himself.”
If we are filled with the Spirit, we shall not be drunk with wine. All the sophistry of those who declaim against its use, is exposed (to the simple soul who bows to God's word) by the simple and telling fact that our Lord made wine (John 2) — the “use” of which was not therefore prohibited, and yet in excess it is intoxicating, or we should not be told to be not drunk with it; and as the writer of the article points out, it is the “abuse” against which we are warned. And if it be to any of us a snare it clearly ought to be avoided. “Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” What greater safeguard can there be than this?
Comparing Galatians 2:3 with 1 Timothy 4:3-5, we see how man's will is as ready to demand as to forbid. But whilst Paul could circumcise Timothy (Acts 16:1-3), where it could not be demanded, yet in the case of Titus, where the demand was made, the Apostle resolutely refuses. Grace knows what is consistent with the truth of the gospel.


F. E. RACE, Publisher, 3 & 4, London House Yard,
Paternoster Row, E.C.

Lectures on Job 42

Lecture 11-Chap. 42
We have now the great object of God manifested. It would not at all have been so well for Job to have heard it before; but he had to walk very simply, and to learn to confide in God; to be perfectly sure that God could not fail to be faithful and gracious. Yet the trial was severe; and we know that Job broke down, as every one since the world began has done except the Lord Himself. And indeed, it is very instructive to contrast where the Lord speaks of His suffering, with the irritation that was shown by even so admirable a man as Job. But still we have had the whole case out; and nothing can be more beautiful and striking and instructive than the book looked at as a whole.
You will observe that it is only in the closing chapter that we have the story and bringing in of Jehovah in the dealings with Job. No doubt in what the Lord said to Job, we have it too, but that is coming to the conclusion of the book. In the parts of the book that precede we have nothing of the kind except in the first two chapters. There we have Jehovah the moral Governor, and that not in the way of a nation, but applied to one single soul, yet no doubt other people were tried and brought into blessing; or, at any rate, they had mercy shown to them, as in the case of the three friends. But what we find is that everyone concerned, except Elihu, has to be truly humbled. Elihu is very peculiar, because he takes no part, and we should not have known there was such a person; and he only, and suddenly, appears when the friends of Job had all been silenced, and Job had nothing more to say; for when Elihu spoke, Job was silent still, he could not answer. Still all was not yet wrought completely in his soul till Jehovah appears.
But now it is very striking to see that in this book we have all the great elements that appear in the rest of the Old Testament. We should not have known there was an Israel from this book. We have no reference to the law that was given by Moses, nor to the peculiar place in which the sons of Abraham were set. The very object of the Book is to show that God remains God, and more than that, that “Jehovah” (the covenant name of God) would show He had intimate personal dealings with a pious man, and in point of fact one that was chosen by God for this great trial—the most faithful man then found upon the earth. Even Jacob was not one fit for such a trial, even supposing Jacob and Job had been contemporaries. For although there was a great deal that came out very beautifully as Jacob grew older in the way, there was an immense deal that had to be sifted; there was a great deal that he had to be sorry for, and that he was chastised for at various times of his life, from early days comparatively till his later ones. So that Jacob was not at all as suitable a person as Job.
Job seems to have been a man sheltered (if I might so say) by God, so that he knew very little of the corruption that was in the world through lust. As far as he was concerned he seems to have been prospered in a way that very few men have been; for although he was a pious man, and therefore liable to be imposed upon by the wicked men of that generation, as such men usually are, yet he was really a prince among men. But the sorrowful thing was that Job thought a great deal of it; he admired himself a great deal too much; and further he liked his “nest.” He hoped that he would never have that nest disturbed, and that he would die in his nest, as he said. But God intended to teach him a very severe lesson before that came to pass. In point of fact he became more blest than ever; and there we find ourselves very much upon Old Testament ground. He got large flocks and greater herds; and he had possessions too in the way of love; everybody could not do too much for him after he came into prosperity. That is the way of this world, and that was the way of even Job's friends. But he had more camels, more horses, more herds, and fairer daughters at the end than at the beginning. That is all entirely outside what we know.
In short, we do not find suffering with Christ, or suffering for Christ, throughout the Old Testament. Nor is it the ordinary way in which God acted then. I was only reading this morning in a little paper that came from Spain; and the great object of the person who wrote that paper—who has been seen in this room, too, though not in communion with us—was that the ways of God were always the same. That is where our good sister is altogether wrong. The ways of God differ greatly; the ways of God were quite different in paradise from what they were outside paradise; and they were different after the flood from what they were before; and they were different in Israel again from what they had been before the law was given; and they are still more different now that Christ is come and that redemption is accomplished. I suppose people mean by it that God's character is always immutable. Certainly that is all right; God does not change; but God in His sovereign wisdom takes different ways in dealing with every one of us. At the same time there are general ways that subsist at particular times. There are deeper ways now than ever since Christ came, and we are expected to enter into the ways of God, as well as His counsels which are now revealed for the first time. Heavenly counsels they did not know anything about in Old Testament times. They knew the purpose of God for the earth; they gradually knew that better and better as things went on, and as the regular prophets who wrote their prophecies began to appear. But the ways of God are always according to what occupies Himself, and what He is doing in a general way. Yet at the same time He carries on a moral government with every one of us, so that we have to do with Him.
And that was what Job had to learn—that there was, unknown to himself, what was inconsistent with the presence of God. It was not that he doubted a Redeemer; he fully believed in one; but that was a different thing. And people may believe in the Savior now, and yet may never have been brought personally into the presence of God as a practical thing. It is quite a different thing to have it, as the philosophers say, “objectively,” from what it is to make it our own “subjectively.” That was just exactly where Job was. He had no subjective knowledge of it; he had not appropriated it to himself. He rejoiced in the goodness of God. He was a faithful man. We see him acting as a priest, but not as a king; and we have it in a more glorious manner at the end of the book than at the beginning; because we find he had certain fears about his sons and his daughters, but when he had gone through all, he had no fear at all. There was no reserve; he was not at all afraid of anything coming. But he was put into the extreme suffering that might belong to any man. At first the sufferings were such as were common to man. It is not an uncommon thing for a very rich man to become very poor. It is not an uncommon thing for a man to lose all his property. It may be not merely by robbery, but by other means—sometimes through lack of wisdom and other people taking advantage, and so on; there are many ways in which there may be a very great reverse; and further, a person might be suddenly changed from glowing health to be the most miserable object possible.
But I do not call these spiritual sufferings; they are what are common to man. It might be so with an unconverted man; only there was this peculiarity about Job, which he did not know at first—that God was allowing Satan to bring all these things. Satan's pleasure and hope was to entangle Job's feet and cast him down, and that he would curse God. That was what Satan dearly longed to bring about. God allowed him to have his way, but not to kill Job. That would have been agreeable to Job; but it would not have brought out the great moral of the tale, which is, blessing brought into his soul by the very things that seemed to be against him, and not merely by the things that he experienced. When he began to find fault, he had to learn that that very God was One who never could swerve from what was excellent, and that in all this He had a purpose of blessing for Job. Not merely in his having outward blessings, i.e., of a temporal kind, but blessing for his soul.
And all this is very striking in so early a book as this of the Old Testament. For there is no reason to doubt that it is quite as early as the Book of Genesis, and very probably written by the same man. It is earlier, I do not hesitate to say, than the Book of Exodus. It may have followed Genesis or not; that I cannot say. They may have been comparatively together. It might even have been before Genesis, as far as that is concerned; but it is extremely early, and before Israel's history as a nation began. There is, in the book, no coming out of Egypt, crossing the wilderness, and going into the land—not even the slightest allusion to any of them. Had these things then taken place an allusion would have been very highly appropriate; but there is nothing of the kind.
Still, there we have the great elements that we find elsewhere in the Old Testament. The place of sacrifice—you know how very early that came in—from the Fall; and how the first great action of Adam's sons was decided by faith or the lack of faith—Cain bringing a mere offering which would have been all very well after a sacrifice, but showing a total lack of sense of sin, and also of what was due to God. Abel on the contrary brought his sacrifice; there was death brought in between him and God. That looked onward to the death of Christ; but I am speaking now simply of the sacrifice; and Abel's faith, therefore, offered that sacrifice. That answers to the death of Christ now. Any attempt to stand before God without that now, shows that I have no proper sense of sin, or of God's holiness. I neither know myself nor Him; else I should surely look to the one great sacrifice that completes and terminates all others—the sacrifice of Christ.
Well, then again, we find another very important truth from the beginning of it, and that is, the connection of heaven with man upon the earth, and that which is about to take place in man on the earth, arranged in heaven before it reaches the man himself. Well, that is true now; that is going on still. We find that is carried on afterward. We see it in David—another phase of it—Satan's opposition, in the last chapter of 2 Samuel (and in Chronicles, repeated in another form); and, further, in the Book of Kings we have it. But this Book of Job was written hundreds of years before. So that it was perfectly original in Job's case. It had not been written in any other book until long after. And there we find another terrible personage; not only the angels, familiar with the presence of God, and God telling out before them what is going to be upon the earth; but the devil, man's great enemy; yet withal the perfect supremacy of God in His love and in His power. He particularly brings Job's case before Satan; and He (what we may call) glories in Job before the devil; and the devil, of course, is excited to every kind of spite and jealousy because of that very thing; and God allows all this to be, knowing perfectly well, but always working by His own; grace, that in due time all would be set right. It might require His own personal intervention, and that is one of the great peculiarities of the Book of Job.
But we find the same thing in Zechariah—Jehovah speaking to Joshua, and Satan resisting; and this in one of the latest books of the Old Testament. So that here we find that Job has the same great truth in an earlier form—at the beginning of the Old Testament—of what afterward is found near its end. Because Zechariah was only just before Malachi, and in fact they may have been contemporaries. They were post-captivity prophets. And then comes the great trial. And the remarkable thing is, first of all, Satan was entirely defeated. Satan could do nothing with Job. He did his worst, and all that time Job was seen at his best.
But there was that in Job's heart that must be got out somehow; and it is remarkable that the friends of Job, not the enemy, seem to have been the means. And God has a very humbling lesson for them, as He has a humbling lesson for Job. They got it all round; and, in point of fact, Job's friends were more ignorant of God's ways than Job; and they took a very bad view of his case, and this, when it is about a good man, is always a danger. There may be something that the Lord has to chastise; but very often those who try to do it only show their own shallowness, and