The Basket of Consecrations

 •  16 min. read  •  grade level: 10
When the Lord Jesus said to the two disciples of John Baptist, “Come and see,” in reply to their question, “Where dwellest thou?” we are not told the place in which “they abode with him that day.” This is in keeping with all John’s gospel, which tells us what the Lord said of the Father’s house. No locality is assigned it by the Lord, but only that Jesus is there. The Lord assumes that no other description is needed by the soul that knows Him. The heavenly Jerusalem, the Bride, the Lamb’s wife, is minutely described. Her glory, which is but His, is much unfolded; but who could describe an intimacy, an affection! Human language is poor and meager, and is only formed to express what is current amongst those whose it is. Divine things need another mode and channel of expression, “unspeakable words, which it is not possible for a man to utter.”
There, in that nameless dwelling, these disciples abode with Jesus on “that day”—sweet figure of the Church’s portion shut up with Christ in the unnamed house of His presence, until “the day following” comes, when “Jesus would go forth into Galilee”—the place of grace. There He “findeth Philip,” and “Philip findeth Nathanael.” Nathanael discovers (as the remnant of the Jews will before the days of the kingdom) that a “good thing” had indeed come “out of Nazareth”—One who read his heart, and is discovered to be the Son of God, and King of Israel.
This blessed portion of the Church of God, shut up with Christ to “keep the charge of the Lord” for the completed period (seven days) of her association with Him in heaven, is presented in a lovely type in the close of Lev. 8. The priests were not to go out of the door of the tabernacle of the congregation till those seven days were over. Day and night for seven days did they keep the charge of the Lord, feeding upon the ram of consecration, the unleavened cake, and cake of oiled bread—the bread of the basket of consecrations. And as we read, “So Aaron and his sons did all things which the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses.” How blessed if the Spirit of God could say too, “So Christ and His people did all things which the Lord commanded and counseled for His glory!” It can be said of Him alone who did all God’s will—the blessed Lord Jesus; One whose perfections only bring out into more distinctness the failures and imperfections of His people. How blessedly and completely are the people of the Lord shut up for their “seven days,” to feed upon “the basket of consecrations,” and “keep the charge of the Lord”! The scene of the transfiguration (Luke 9, &c.) prepares us for their thus being shut up to Christ alone. The Lord had been proclaimed by His followers as the “Messiah,” and although He had never presented Himself in this character He owned the faith of any who owned Him as such, and blessed the possessor of it, but did not present Himself thus to Israel. Who He was, who had moved hearts and consciences, from the king on the throne to the humblest in the land of Israel, only produced reasoning in the minds of men. “John. Baptist; but some say, Elias; and others say that one of the old prophets is risen again,” were the speculations of the people. But faith—always certain, replies in answer to His question, “But whom say ye that I am?” Peter, answering, said, “the Christ of God.” He now changes His name, and tells them that the “Son of Man”—His title over (not only Israel, but) all the works of God’s hands (Psa. 8)—would suffer as a martyr at the hands of men, but would rise again from the dead the third day into His true Headship of all (Luke 9:2222Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day. (Luke 9:22)). Then follows a path of sorrow and rejection (verses 23.27), of taking up of their cross daily, and following after Him who was then going to His; One who would be ashamed of those, when He came in His glory, who were ashamed of Him in the day of His humiliation.
But at the end of the path of sorrow (so different from what His disciples expected from their Messiah, whom they thought would restore the kingdom to Israel) He draws back the vail, as it were, and unfolds in the transfiguration, a scene which would cheer and strengthen the hearts of those who saw it, and of His own who would read it when written in the Word, as a bright ending to the road which leads to this glory.
Verse twenty-seven shows us that some of those around Him at the moment would not die till they would see in this scene, a rehearsal of the day of the Kingdom of God.
Then, after eight days, He took the three disciples—Peter, James, and John—and went up into a mountain to pray, and as He prayed the fashion of his countenance was altered, and His raiment was white and glistering. Two men—Moses and Elias—appeared in glory with Him, talking with Him of things to come; of His departure, which He should accomplish in Jerusalem. The subject of their conversation was His death in the city where His earthly glory should have been consummated.
The two companions of Jesus may be looked upon either as affording dispensationally a picture of the Law—Moses being its representative, and the prophets—Elias being one of the greatest of them; the normal and abnormal state of the people of Israel being addressed by each, and both passing away when Jesus had come (“The Law and the Prophets were until John,” &c.)—or, they may be looked upon as representing the saints who have slept in Christ, and, having died and been buried their bodies will be raised in glory. This is seen in Moses; while in Elias we see the translation without death of those “who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord.” These are taken up and are, we may say, “sought for” like him by those who are left behind, and not found.
We have then a lovely picture of the glory of the Kingdom, which will by and by be displayed when the Lord comes forth with His saints, to be glorified in them; earthly saints, too—His Jewish people, represented in Peter, James, and John—see this glory, and the Lord hears the heavens, and the heavens hear the earth, while the earth hears her blessing in the day of her glory, and the seed of God on earth will be blessed.
But when the “bright cloud” overshadowed them, there was a voice from within from the Father’s house, which an does not see—the Father’s voice, proclaiming, “This is my beloved (or elect—εκηλελενμενος) Son, hear him.” This brief sentence—pregnant with the mind and thoughts of the Father about Jesus, seems, as has been thought, to embody all God’s previous thoughts as given in the Word, and as He speaks them forth, He points to Jesus as their summing up and fulfillment, and He leaves Him as the portion of His people—shuts them up to Christ for the whole period of their sojourn here below: the “seven days,” during which they are left to “ keep the charge of the Lord.”
The law had spoken of a prophet whom the Lord would raise up to Israel, whom they should “hear,” or be cut off (Deut. 18). The Prophets told of an “Elect” one, in whom God’s soul delighted (cf. Isa. 42:1-41Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. 2He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. 3A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. 4He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law. (Isaiah 42:1‑4))—a Priest who would accomplish all His will. While the Psalms had spoken of a King who should sit upon God’s holy hill in Zion, in the word “Thou art my Son, today have I begotten thee.” The law then showed Him as the One whom they should hear— “Hear Him.” The prophets could refer to the sentence, “This is mine elect,” and the Psalms unfold Him as the “Son”—born on earth a man; and all pointing to Him as the summing up of the mind of God; both Prophet, Priest, and King. “Jesus (then) was found alone” when the rest passed away. And when the night was passed and they descended to the plain, it was but to find Satan the usurper of the scene; but Jesus was with them as before, and now faith in Him would draw forth all that was needed to meet the exigencies of every hour in their path: they were shut up to Christ!
What a portion has the Lord given His people, thus to feed on Himself alone! What a place is theirs who have now to keep the charge of the Lord! The more we ponder a little sentence uttered by the Lord when addressing His disciples before He went away, the more we find its depth and fullness, and how it pervades the whole Scriptures from that moment. We read in John 14:2020At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. (John 14:20), “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.” We in Him before God settles our place in its blessedness; He in us defines all our duties before men. This thought pervades the Scriptures from “that day”—i.e., when the Comforter would come (Acts 2), and onwards to the close of the Word. What can be more blessed than to realize that we are in Him; what intimacy more near and wondrous than to live and walk in the power of the truth that He is in us. This is the true position and condition into which Christianity introduces us. How it puts to flight the religious efforts and deceptions of men, the consciousness in the soul that we are in Christ, and Christ is in us!
In the Epistle to the Romans when Paul has concluded his argument from chapters 1-7, he triumphantly opens the eighth by the words, “There is now therefore no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” The word “therefore” implies much in this statement. It is as it were saying, “As the case stands, there is no condemnation,” &c. Everything was so fully met, according to the nature of God Himself, and their transfer from Adam to Christ risen was so complete, that “therefore” there could be none! But if the saint is thus in Christ Jesus; in union with the Man in glory, there comes the other side inverse 10, “And if Christ be in you the body is dead because of sin; and the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” If on the one hand, the place of the saint is unalterable, and condemnation can never reach such, on the other (and another which never can be severed from the place) the duties and practical condition follow. The body, the vessel, is held in death, because if it acts its only acts are sin, but the “Spirit is life.” He becomes the living power of bringing forth the “Christ” who is in us; and this because of righteousness. Not only do we find that in and by God’s righteousness are we justified, but that righteousness becomes the fruit of the Spirit’s action in life.
In Ephesians, too, in the prayer of the apostle in chapter 1, he desires that the saints may be brought into the consciousness of God’s calling, God’s inheritance, and the “energy of the force of His might” (or as we ordinarily read it, “the exceeding greatness of his power”). All these things— “calling,” “inheritance,” and “power,” come out from Him, the result being that He sets Christ as man in glory, far above all principality, power, might, or dominion, and every name that is named in this age or that which is to come; and gives Him—head over all things to the assembly, which same is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.
This same mighty force of God—an energy of might which creation did not require when it sprang into being at the fiat of the Eternal, but which God put forth to raise up a man from among the dead, who had gone down on the cross under the curse and wrath for sin; who was made sin and met God’s nature as to it, adding rays of glory to it which before it had not possessed. This same mighty energy of God, I say, is now put forth to quicken, raise up, and seat in Christ Jesus in the heavenlies, those who were once sunk in a death in sins, without movement of heart towards Him. He was dead for sins, and also made sin; they were dead in them, and God then wrought by the force of His might, and carries us up in Him into the heavenlies.
Paul desires they may understand all this in the soul’s blessed consciousness by the Spirit of God. Then comes the other side: and again, he bows his knees to the Father (chapter 3.) that these saints, so blessed, might be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ might dwell in their hearts by faith. (Here it is He in them, as in chapters 1, 2, they in Him.) How easy to realize all that follows if this be so! If Ire dwells in the heart—He, the center of all that glory—then indeed the heart need not be instructed into what the apostle speaks of as “length, and breadth, and depth, and height.” A soul who is enjoying this by Christ dwelling in his heart does not ask that it may be explained to him: he knows it, and can say “Come and enjoy with me those fields of glory, and you will know it also.” He is “filled into all the fullness of God.” In chapter 1 he is filled by those things— “calling,” “inheritance,” “power”—which came out from God. In chapter 3 he is brought into God’s fullness—filled into it. What a power that works in us—the power of this glory. A power and energy mighty of God, wrought for us in raising up Christ, and then His own: a power which now works in us, that we may say “To him be glory, by the assembly, by Christ Jesus, unto the age of ages.” Thus we learn, even now, what the Church’s occupation will be forever, praising Him for what the Beloved One is to God, and we in Him!
How sweetly does all this prayer remind us of Rebecca’s journey with Eliezer of old! How he unfolded to the affianced one’s heart what Isaac possessed and was; till as it were, he “dwelt in her heart by faith,” for she had never seen him. His riches and his glory were unfolded to her willing ears on her journey till he came forth at eventide, and she wailed her beauty from all but him!
So here; the Spirit of the Father strengthens the heart in the beauty and love of Jesus—the love of Christ which passes knowledge, till it is filled into all the fullness of God. The saint is shut up to Him who thus dwells in his heart by faith, and whom having not seen he loves, and whose glory unfolds itself to his soul.
In Colossians, Paul finds these saints not yet fully conscious of their completeness in Him in whom all the completeness in the Godhead dwells. Epaphras doubtless was for them a faithful minister of Christ; he taught them faithfully all that he knew. But I doubt not that when he visited Paul in his prison, to enjoy the instructions of the great apostle, and to tell him of his own labors in the Lord, that the wisdom of the aged man saw that he wanted in his own soul that which he could not supply to others as long as he possessed it not himself. Paul had never seen those Colossians; but had heard of them through this dear servant of Christ. He feared, too, that not being established in the consciousness of union with Christ which they needed, they were in danger, by the introduction of ordinances and the like, to slip away from Him; and the heart of the aged prisoner swells, and his pen unfolds a chapter more full of Christ’s glories, perhaps, than any other Scripture he had ever written. He fills the regions and spheres of Creation, Providence, Redemption, and Glory, with the One in whom all the fullness of the Godhead was pleased to dwell. He fills the basket of consecrations, and feeds the souls and hearts of those whom he addresses with wondrous food. If their hearts had been beguiled for a moment, and other things proposed to them in addition to this Christ of God; if they had, as it were, looked forth for a moment from the Tabernacle of the congregation where they had been shut up to feed upon Him, with what refreshment would their souls return to the food—the bread of God—the old corn of the Land of Glory, the basket of consecrations, on which he would feed them while they kept the charge of the Lord!
How sweetly does he desire their growth by the true knowledge of God, and that their souls’ intelligence might be expanded under this heavenly food; that they might know the whole mind and will of God, be fruitful in every good work; be strengthened with His power unto all long suffering with joyfulness. Thus the heart would burst forth in praise to the Father, who had made them meet for the inheritance of the saints in light, delivering them from the power of darkness, and translating them into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son, in whom they had redemption—even the forgiveness of their sins.
Thus he leads their souls to Him in whom they not only possessed these things, but in whom God’s thoughts and purposes of glory centered—the Creator of all and Reconciler of all things. He says “Because by him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist (or subsist) and he is the head of the body, the assembly; who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in all things he might have the pre-eminence, for in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell.”