TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Kingdom in Mystery. - Pages 3 - 10
Exceptional Passages. - Pages 11 - 28
The Kingdom Personal. - Pages 29 - 42
The Kingdom Future. - Page 43 - 60
Jewish Aspect of the Kingdom. - Page 61 - 75
Its Heavenly Aspect. - Page 76 - 91
Seek the Kingdom. – Page 100 - 122
Baptism and the Kingdom. - Page 123 - 133
The Passover, Lord’s Supper, and Kingdom. - Page 134 - 154
* * *
THE KINGDOM IN MYSTERY
THERE are few subjects which penetrate so deeply into the doctrine and practice of the New Testament as that of “The Kingdom of Heaven,” or “THE KINGDOM OF GOD.” It seems to me, that there are also few subjects on which clear and true views would be more beneficial to the church.
What then was the Lord’s testimony concerning it in the Old Testament?
In Isaiah 2 it was
foretold, that the temple should in that day be lifted up on a height
conspicuous from afar, and that the nations should journey thereto.
Only so far, that the doctrines of Christ were sent forth from
[Page 2] Take, as a second passage, Isaiah 11. This prophetical chapter testifies of the rise of Jesus as the descendant of David, and of the resting of the [Holy] Spirit of God upon Him. This was accomplished at the Saviour’s baptism. He spake not after the sight of His eyes, nor after the hearing of His ears: but full of the [Holy] Spirit of God, He detected the wiles of the Pharisees, and read the hearts both of His followers and of His foes.
But there is no
fulfilment as yet of verses 4 to 16.
There it is promised, that justice shall be the principle of His reign;
and by Him shall be slain the Wicked One, the Man of Sin: 4, 5. By
Him shall the wild animals be tamed, and poisonous serpents deprived of their
venom 6, 9.
Jesus shall be set as the centre of the nations; “and His rest shall be glory:” 10. This rest, as Paul teaches (Heb. 4: 10) has
yet to come. In that day
Has the Gospel
fulfilled these things? Not at all! But they
will hereafter be fulfilled; although they are not yet, because of
A SECRET OR “MYSTERY” of God was to
intervene, before the promises were fulfilled to
Hence there are two states of the kingdom: (1) THE KINGDOM IN MYSTERY; and (2) THE KINGDOM IN [Page 3] MANIFESTATION. Let us then first consider The Kingdom in Mystery.
Jesus, heralded by John the Baptist, appears on the earth as
the Lord’s Anointed one. But the more He
manifests Himself in doctrine and miracle, the more do the unbelief and
Now this history was also further typical of God’s purposes in
Let us now consider the seven parables which Jesus uttered on this occasion: Matt. 13.
They seem divided into groups of 1 + 3 + 3=7. First stands the Sower,
in some respects apart from the rest.
Then come three connected together:- the Tares, the Mustard Seed, and
the Leaven. Lastly we have the three
delivered to the disciples alone in the house: the Hid Treasure, the
These parables contain “mysteries of the
1. The SOWER tells of the present time, of “the Word of the Kingdom:” (v, 19) not of its sceptre dashing foes in pieces. Jesus is represented in it as the Man of Peace, sowing the Word of God, uttering [Page 5] the goodness of the Kingdom. This parable then discloses the hindrances to the reception of the testimony of God concerning the millennium, arising from the world, the flesh, and the devil.
Among those who listen to the tidings of the
(l.) The men of the wayside; these do not even understand the doctrine presented, and Satan removes the truth from their hearts. There can be no fruits of the Kingdom, where the Kingdom itself is not understood.
(2) The men of the rocky ground. These for awhile believe: their souls kindle with the bright pictures of glory which shall burst forth in that day. But when they find that persecution is to be endured on the way to it, their enthusiasm is gone; the flesh is overcome by a frowning world without.
(3) The thorny ground represents those who are deceived by the lusts of the soul from within. Cares, riches, and pursuits of this present age overbear the pursuit and desire of the age of glory to come. Wrestling for the prize demands an undivided heart.
(4) There remains, therefore, only the good ground. Such receive it in their understanding, and pursue the glory set before them with steadfastness and patience [perseverance]. Even among these, however, there are great varieties of faithfulness; some bearing more than three times as much as others. For as star differeth from star in glory, so also is the resurrection of the dead.
As long, then, as this parable shall be descriptive of our times, or the Kingdom in mystery, so long the world cannot be converted by the Gospel. Not one half even hear the tidings, and out of that one half, only one class in four answers to the design of God in giving that testimony
2. Pass we next to the parable of the Mustard
Seed: for I reserve the
consideration of the Wheat and Tares to the last. In the Mustard Seed, Jesus foretells, that out
of His lowly, unworldly doctrine so opposed to the greatness of the flesh,
there would spring up a great worldly system, the rulers of which would aspire
to be the equals of the kings of the earth in their power, pomp, pride, and
war. As the consequence of this evil
growth, Satan and his angels - those enemies of the Sower
- would enter, and take possession of it.
How this has been fulfilled, most signally at
3. In the Leaven, we behold the inward state of
that which now calls itself Christ’s Kingdom, or “Christendom!” The Mustard Seed disclosed its outward aspect; this tells us that the pure doctrines of Christ would be
debased and corrupted by the leaven of the flesh and of the world. By the woman we are to understand
4. The parable of the Treasure
Hid in the field discovers to
us Jesus as the Son of Man, winning for Himself the right to the
5. The Pearl exhibits to us the Jew as a the seeker [Page 7] after righteousness through law; but the Gospel reveals to him the perfect righteousness of Messiah; whereupon he abandons his own righteousness to obtain that of Christ. For a perfect key to this parable the reader has but to consult Phil. 3.
6. Next follows the parable of the Dragnet. It describes in emblem the judgment of the Gentiles, or living nations of the globe, by the word of God given to Abraham concerning himself and his posterity, Gen. 12: 3. At length the time is come, that Christ judges the nations; and they are blessed or cursed according as they have blessed or cursed the natural seed of Abraham. This parable, then, is parallel with that of the Sheep and Goats. As the word of the Lord went forth from the Promised Land, so there at length the judgment of the Gentiles by the word of Christ, and by the agency of angels, takes effect. The evil are taken from among the righteous, the righteous obtain a portion in the earth: the evil are cast into Gehenna of fire. This judgment takes place at the end of this present evil age.
7. Let us consider, lastly, the parable of the Wheat and Tares. This parable presents both aspects of the kingdom: first, the kingdom in mystery, then as manifested in judgment by Christ and His angels.
Jesus is here, also, the Sower; “the field is the world.” The Lord predicts the marring of His work, by Satan’s raising up counterfeit Christians. The evil work of the Deceiver is not to be repaired in this present age. How then can a glorious and pure Church at length appear on earth, - as so many anticipate?
The confusion arising out of the presence and agencies of true and false Christians side by side is to continue till Jesus appears to judge. No efforts of true disciples to exterminate mere professors are sanctioned by Christ. Both are to grow together in the world, till the angels sever the two parties for their eternal destinations. Judgment does not belong to the present season of mystery and mercy. But at the Saviour’s [second] advent the visible and forcible interference of angels will close the [Page 8] present scene of God’s patience. The harvest is the period of judgment, which finishes the kingdom in mystery. Then occurs the placing of the wheat and tares in their fitting portion, during the kingdom in manifestation.
This parable, then, is peculiarly valuable, as presenting at one view both aspects of the kingdom - (1) its MYSTERY, and (2) its MANIFESTATION.
(1) During the first period, mercy reigns, and the tares and the wheat are allowed by God to run to seed; for it is the season of grace. Disciples’ efforts to introduce judgment into the period of grace are forbidden.
(2) But, at length, the end of the age comes, and the Saviour
sends out of the heaven his angels, instructing them to clear the earth both of
the wicked and of their instruments of wickedness. Then the earth becomes the manifest kingdom
of the Son of
The Drag-net, I observe, gives only the earthly department of the kingdom in manifestation.
How then were the disciples to regard these new discoveries of
the Saviour about the
The Saviour’s reply to this is given in ver. 52. After he had learned from the apostles that they understood these parables, he adds, “Therefore every scribe instructed in* the kingdom of heaven is like to a householder who bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.”
[* The true reading …]
In those countries there are fruits which are good for food, both when fresh, and in their dried state. So the householder could draw forth out of his closet both grapes just gathered, and also the raisins of last year; he could set side by side upon the table at one meal, both figs fresh plucked, and dried figs out of his stores.
Now, in God’s sight and estimation, the law is the old thing,
the Gospel the new, Heb. 8: 13; 9: 15; Matt. 9: 17. The teacher then who shall truly understand
Each class is quite distinct from the other: they are really two classes of fruit, though they spring from the same tree. The new fruit has a taste different from the old.
Hence we may notice the mistake of the anti-millenarian. He would prove, if he could, that there is but one class of prophecy, not two. To him, Old Testament prophecy speaks of the Church and its glory, as well as the New Testament. He does not discern between the [Page 10] earthly promises made to the Jew, and the heavenly ones made to the Church. He perceives not the distinction between the kingdom in mystery and the parables which describe it on the one hand; and the kingdom in manifestation with the Old Testament teachings about it, on the other.
The Israelite prophets will be fulfilled when the glory comes
to the earth. These parables tell of the
deferring of the kingdom of glory, because of the unbelief of the nation to
whom those promises belong. Now this
Let us then carefully distinguish between the old things of the kingdom, and the new! Let us seek the promises of the heavenly kingdom, not the pleasures and rewards of the present evil age!
* * *
EXCEPTIONAL PASSAGES. [Pages 11-28]
BY “the kingdom of heaven,” or “the
[* There is a slight distinction
between these two phrases. The “kingdom of heaven,” means generally the millennial
There are, then, about a hundred and fifty passages which
speak of the
This passage may refer to either aspect of the kingdom; but it applies most forcibly and fully to the millennial kingdom. When Paul preached, miracle attended the word; and the power put forth in connection [Page 12] with the, word of the kingdom was a testimony given by God to the might of the kingdom hereafter to be manifested in the throne by Jesus as the Son of Man. We advance to the second passage.
2. “Giving thanks to the Father who made* us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light, who delivered us from the power of darkness, and translated us
into the kingdom of his dear Son:” Col. 1: 12, 13.
[* Omit the “hath,” as the verbs are in the Aorist.]
This passage describes the position given to every member of
Christ as soon as he believes. Now is
the time of the
But by the regeneration of the Holy Ghost each believer is transferred from Satan’s kingdom to Christ’s kingdom in mystery. But, whether he shall enter the kingdom in manifestation is another question, which is made to depend on his conduct during the present period of grace. That it is possible for him to be excluded the future [millennial] kingdom appears from the same epistle. God’s design is to present you holy, and unblameable, and unreprovable in His sight, “If ye continue in the faith grounded and, settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the Gospel, which ye have heard,” 1: 22, 23. See also 2: 8, 18-23.
Let us take the third passage.
This passage may refer to each aspect of the kingdom.
1. If we refer it to the kingdom in mystery, it signifies that service to Christ now has nothing to do with the ancient distinction about solid and liquid food. Those ordinances of the flesh were but “imposed till the time of reformation,” which is now come, Heb. 9: 10. [Page 13] What then are the great essentials of the kingdom now?
(1) “Righteousness,” or the observance of what is due to God in Christ, to the Church, and to the world.
(2) “Peace,” for a contentious spirit is not the Spirit of Christ. As our God has given us peace within, so are we to seek to promote peace without, both in the Church and the world.
(3) “Joy in the Holy Ghost,” is the third temper which should be especially characteristic of the Christian. Our joy is not that of nature, not derived from the flesh or the world; but it arises from sin forgiven, present privileges, and the hopes of the kingdom, taught by the indwelling Spirit of God.
2. But we may also interpret the words
kingdom in manifestation. And this I consider the preferable
view. Then the meaning will be this:
‘The kingdom of glory will indeed contain and use meats and drinks, as the
present kingdoms of the world do. These
things form part of the promise to Israel: “In this mountain shall the Lord of Hosts make unto
all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things
full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined,” Isa. 25: 6. “I will no more give thy corn
to be meat for thine enemies; and the sons of the stranger shall not drink
thy wine for which thou hast
laboured; but they that have gathered it shall eat it, and praise the Lord; and
they that have brought it together shall drink it in the courts of my holiness,” Isa. 62: 8, 9;
Amos 9: 14. The twelve shall “eat and drink,” says Jesus, “at my table in my kingdom,” Luke
22: 30. But
these things will not be the prevailing characteristics of the kingdom in
manifestation. Its great
superiority to all previous kingdoms will consist in the spiritual tempers
wrought in the possessors of the
1. Other kingdoms have been and are full of iniquity, both toward God and man. They have been full of injustice in commerce, and in law, within their own internal circuit; unjust also in their relations to other nations. But God’s [millennial] kingdom to come shall be a kingdom [Page 14] of righteousness administered by the righteous, and cutting off the transgressor.
2. Other kingdoms have been full of the spirit of war, and number up their discoveries of destroying weapons, and their victories, as their glory. But under the dominion of the Prince of Peace, [a lasting] “peace” shall be established over all the world. Isa. 2.
3. Previous empires have been full of vanity and vexation of spirit, of sorrow and of judgments upon sin. Their joys have been derived from the flesh, and therefore unsatisfying. But the kingdom in manifestation shall be full of “joy” in the promises of God, and of a sense of His favour, taught by the Holy Ghost.
This interpretation proceeds upon the same principle which must be applied to Matt. 9: 13: “I will have mercy, and not sacrifice.” Those words did not signify, that after that oracle was given sacrifices were to cease. They intended only, that when the ritual clashed with the moral, God preferred the moral element to the exactness of ceremony. And the Holy Ghost, in our passage from Romans, instructs us that if the [millennial] kingdom of glory is to boast of these principles as its great characteristic superiorities, so are these things to be our choice now; for the Church is the witness to the world of the kingdom to come.
We will now consider the fourth passage:-
4. “Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world,
then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews;
but now is my kingdom not from hence:” John 18: 36.
On this, most opponents of the millennial reign rest; but it gives no shelter to such opposition. Nor does it refer to the present kingdom in mystery.
rejected by the Jews; they had led Him to Pilate. Pilate inquired, if Jesus were the king of
the Jews? This related to a literal
reign on earth - an empire, in the same sense as that of Tiberius Caesar. The Saviour answers by the inquiry, whether
He had given the governor any occasion, by political misconduct [Page 15] on His part, to ask the
question? Had He been guilty of any
seditious practices against the empire of
Our Lord makes reply, that His kingdom is not to spring out of the earth, nor to be set up by the force of human arms. If it had been so, He would have commissioned His apostles to fight on His behalf, thus escaping the arrest of the Jews. The Redeemer’s kingdom of heaven is set up by “the armies of heaven,” not by the hosts of earth: Rev. 19. The Saviour owns that He was a King, and the King of the Jews; and for this confession He was sentenced to death by Pilate.
The ordinary misinterpretation of this passage arises out of the ambiguity of the little word “of;” “MY kingdom is not of this world.” That is, it is supposed to mean, ‘It is a spiritual kingdom, a rule over the spirits of believers, the King being all the while invisible, and at a distance; not a personal, visible rule over men, whether foes or friends.’
But the passage really speaks of the source of the Saviour’s kingdom, as a glance at the Greek will show.* “My kingdom is not out of this world: if my kingdom had been out of this world, then would my servants fight,” as all kingdoms owning an earthly source demand of their subjects. The closing words assure us of this sense: “But now is my kingdom not from hence.” For its source is heavenly.
When Jesus’ kingdom is manifested it is a kingdom of the world, in the sense usually given here. For it is written: “The seventh angel sounded, and there were great voices in heaven saying, The kingdoms of this [Page 16] world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ:” Rev. 11: 15. ‑
The fifth passage is:‑
This is the strongest passage adduced by those who regard the
What, then, is the meaning of the passage?- “The
1. ‘Does not this teach that the attempt to behold the
Our answer hereto begins by observing, that the words form part of a discourse of Jesus, which extends from Luke 17: 20, to 18: 8. It is parted into two great divisions: one addressed to the Saviour’s unbelieving foes, the other to His faithful servants.
Now the objection is taken from that part which is addressed to our Lord’s enemies:‑
“And when he
was demanded of [by] the Pharisees, ‘When the
What then is the sense of the expression, “within [Page 17] you?” There are two meanings usually given. The kingdom is -
(1) “Among you.” – ‘Jesus, the King of the kingdom, was then present, and His subjects were in their midst.’ But this is not the New Testament sense of the Greek words.
(2) In Matthew 23: 26, we
have a like expression:- “Blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside
of them may be clean also.” Here the word signifies the interior as opposed to the exterior.* Jesus
then affirms that the kingdom, as at present existing, is internal and
invisible - it belongs, to a man’s inward parts. That is the view of the kingdom which Jesus
exhibits to His bitter enemies, who probably put the inquiry by way of
taunt. His reply, then, is one of
studied obscurity. He tells them - [His enemies] - it
was vain [for them]
to be expecting the kingdom as something future, outward, and visible, because they had not the inward preparation
for it. In the same way He addressed
Nicodemus, [when he was]
the unconverted Pharisee- “Except a man be born
again, he cannot
[* It answers to [the Greek word …] in the Septuagint.]
This is the first division of the Saviour’s reply. But when Jesus turns to His friends, He speaks of the kingdom as future, visible, and [upon this earth which is] to be expected.
[Page 18] 2. THE KINGDOM FUTURE.
“But he said unto the disciples, The days will come when ye will desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it; and they shall say to you, See here, or, See there; go not after them, nor follow them; for as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven, so shall also the Son of man be in his day. But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of [by] this generation.”
This passage, and the whole of the discourse, is to be interpreted by the fuller disclosures of the Lord’s prophecy on Olivet. He here foretells a period of persecution to His disciples. They would be looking anxiously for the Lord’s personal and visible return, to put a stop to the tribulation suffered: even as Daniel had foretold,- “I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them, until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High [of the heavenlies,] and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom:” Dan. 7: 21, 22. Here is the same view of the [millennial] kingdom, as future and visible; but they would long wait for it in vain. They would long for “the Son of man” to come in the clouds of heaven, to take the kingdom promised Him; but they would long wait in vain.
During that period of suffering there would arise false Christs; and their adherents would promise the disciples that they would discover to them the Son of man, for whose advent and kingdom they were watching. One would tell them that the Christ was in this spot, another, in that; thus, the opposite to that word which was uttered to the foes of Christ, would befall His friends. The Pharisee should not hear, “Lo here, or Lo there,” but the Lord’s friends would. They, however, who had the preparation for the kingdom in their own souls, were not to credit these promises. So Jesus, in the prophecy on Olivet, after describing the time of great tribulation, adds, “Then, if any shall [Page 19] say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there, believe it not; for there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch, that if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Therefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in th e desert! go not forth; Behold, he is in the secret chambers! believe it not; for as the lightning cometh out of the east and shineth even unto the west, so shall also the coming [presence] of the Son of Man be.”
In other words, any one who, in those days of trouble, should attempt to point out to [any remaining - (See, Luke 21: 34-36; Rev. 3: 10) - Christian and] Jewish disciples the Christ as somewhere in secret on the earth, was to be refused as a liar; for when the great Lord of the kingdom comes, it will be with a sudden and instant appearing of glory in the sky. Does any require us to point out to him the lightning? Nay, by its excessive and instant splendour, filling at once the whole vault of heaven, it attracts and fills every eye. But Jesus observes that two great events* had yet to precede this His return in glory. 1. “He must suffer many things.” This was fulfilled in our Lord’s betrayal, crucifixion, death. 2. “And be rejected by this generation.” The Jews rejected our Lord then; the Gentiles have yet to reject Him. Then sin will be at its height, and Jesus will come, as the Son of man, to smite His enemies, and to set up His kingdom.
[* We could also add a third event: 3. Apostasy amongst many of the regenerate, (Acts 20: 25-30; Jude 11; 2 John 7-10; 2 Tim. 4: 1-4; 1 Tim. 4: 1; 6; 10, etc.]
As Jesus must suffer and be rejected before He takes His kingdom, so must it be with the disciple also, if he is to reign with Christ.*
We come now to the Third Section of this prophecy ‑THE
DAYS OF NOAH AND
DAYS OF NOAH AND OF
1. “And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. hey were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark: and the flood came, and destroyed them all.
[Page 20] 2. “Likewise also as it was in the days of
it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed all; even thus shall it be
in the day when the Son of man is revealed.”
Both these paragraphs speak of Jesus’ return in person. But they have reference to two different
classes of God’s people. The days of Noah refer to the escape of [some of] the Church,
the destruction of the generation in general.
The days of Lot picture the, wrath coming, on the Jews generally, and on
The days of Noah here are given first, because the rapture of the watchful of the Church occurs before the escape of the Jewish disciples into the desert: Rev. 12.
The Saviour describes the men of the time when He descends as quite unbelieving in regard to His return, and the predicted strokes of judgment. They are living as though all would go on smoothly to the end, as though the earth were all their hope. Such were the days of Noah of old, even after the message of wrath at hand had been delivered.
But God had then His elect; and when the time of wrath had arrived, He withdrew Noah and his family into the ark of refuge. That was a solemn call to all, that the predicted vengeance was at hand. God’s servant was taken out of the midst, because destruction for all others was at the doors. That was the sign that the day of God’s patience was ended, and the hour of judgment come. But the world regarded it not. It discerned not God’s meaning; and the flood came, and swept the [unbelieving and] godless away.
[Page 21] Even thus God has told us [His ‘disciples’,] of a day of grace, and of a more terrible season of wrath to come. But just in proportion as the wrath draws near, will the unbelief of men increase. Then God will remove His waiting [and ‘able to escape’ (Luke 21: 36, N.I.V.)] ones suddenly into the ark of His presence on high. His Enochs shall not be left to the flood. The world of that day will no more understand or believe this signal, than it did the one in Noah’s day.
As in that day the long repressed vengeance burst forth and cut off the offenders with destroying sweep, so will it be in the day of the Saviour’s secret presence.
But there is another people who will then be owned of God,
after the church is removed from its present place of testimony. Jesus therefore describes them and their
earthly escape by the type of the Days of
The same unbelief of judgment to come characterised the guilty cities of the Plain. The course of human life went on with fullest vigour: there were no visible signs of destruction at the doors.
At length the cup of sin was full, and God withdrew His
“In that day,
he which shall be upon the housetop and his stuff in the house, let him not
come down to take it away; and he that is in the field let him likewise not
return back. Remember
“Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.”
These words take up the latter of the two examples; the Jewish
disciples’ escape out of
But what will become of those who, through pregnancy or like causes, are unable so swiftly to flee? They will be overtaken by the enemy, who will threaten them with death if they own Jesus as the Lord. But let them in such case stand firm! Life lost for Christ will be restored during the blissful thousand years. Life won by forbidden compliance would be lost.
These directions manifestly do not [now] belong to the
[* Mr Govett believed that all regenerate believers must rise from the dead in order to be judged; and afterwards, if not found worthy to reign with Christ during the millennium, will return to the place of the dead in Hades. See G. H. Lang’s ‘Firstfruits and Harvest’. – Ed.]
5. [SEVECTIVE] RAPTURE.
“I tell you this night* there shall be two in one bed; one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken and the other left.”*
[*Verse 36 is considered by critics not to be genuine, but supplied from the parallel place in Matthew.
This paragraph takes up the case of the disciples of the church. It is to occur in our dispensation of mercy; giving its limit, and the sign of its completion. It is to occur, not “in that day” but “IN THIS NIGHT,” which precedes that day.
It will be a sign of miracle; the sudden disappearance by supernatural agency of one of two found together under the same circumstances. The two are asleep - husband and wife it may be - the house is locked, the chamber-door barred; but an invisible hand steals away one to the Saviour’s presence of glory; the other being left to slumber on till the morning, and to wake in dismay to find his companion gone, while the bolt is still un-drawn and the door shut fast! How can that be, save by Almighty power? Jesus is come as the thief, to steal away noiselessly to heaven His jewels.
‘But may not this ‘taking’ be a taking for judgment? the ‘leaving’ being the remaining of the earthly elect on the earth, there to receive their portion in the millennial day?’
No! the word used concerning the taking is very peculiar. It is used where Jesus selected His companions for Special honour. Thus the Lord took Peter, James, and John into the room where the daughter of [Page 24] Jair [Jairus]was raised from the dead. It is used on the memorable occasion when our Redeemer took the same favoured three to behold the picture of His future millennial kingdom upon the top of the Mount of Transfiguration; and in the selection of the same disciples to behold His agony in the Garden: Mark 5: 40; Matt. 17: 1; 26: 37. It is the word which Jesus employs when He promises His people that He “will come again and receive them to Himself:” John 14: 3.
It stands, too, in fitting juxtaposition with the days of Noah; for in those times we read of Enoch, who “walked with God, and he was not; for God took him.” As the apostle observes, “By faith Enoch was translated, that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God translated him; for before his translation he had the testimony that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please God, for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he becometh (Greek) the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him:” Heb. 11. This, then, being a lesson to us as men of the heavenly calling, discovers to us the duty of walking with and pleasing God by faith. For the God with whom we have to do is the rewarder of a diligent walk, and has made known His purpose to take to Himself without death His watching saints; while the unwatchful are left to pass through the fiery trial of the day of great tribulation. Of this the Saviour’s history, in the third of the Companionships I have named, is a witness. For Jesus, when the hour of Satan and of his humiliation was at hand, bade the disciples to watch and pray, that they might escape the temptation. He came then to the three in the garden, but found them asleep. He rebukes them, and goes away to pray anew. “He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes had been made heavy. (Greek.) And HE LEFT THEM:” Matt. 25: 38-44. When He comes again the third time, there is no time for either sleep or prayer - the enemy is upon them - the hurricane had begun!
[Page 25] “Watch, therefore, for ye know not what hour your Lord is coming.”
To the watchful it is
thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee out of the hour
of the temptation which is coming upon all the habitable earth to try the
dwellers upon the earth:”
Rev. 3: 10.
In the words of Jesus in this passage of Luke, is hinted the fulfilment
of the promise to
The case of two women grinding together confirms the view given. In the East, women employ a hand-mill for grinding the wheat necessary for daily use. When they use it, they are seated on the ground opposite each other. The one then could not withdraw herself in an instant from the full view of the other. She must first rise, before she could run. But in the Lord’s words it is supposed, that she mysteriously disappears in a moment. The taking then is by no human hand: it is the Lord’s gathering to Himself those that are ready for His appearing.
“And they answered and said unto Him, ‘Where, Lord?’ And He said unto them, ‘Wheresoever the body is, there will the eagles be gathered together.’”
This is a studiedly mysterious reply. But it relates to both classes of disciples.
1. Whence will the flight take place? From
2. Where will the taking be? Whither will the rapt be taken? The answer is, that the ministers of [Page 26] divine vengeance will assemble in the sky over the guilty city, and descend on it just as vultures or eagles assemble over a fallen animal. Christ, as the King of kings, Will gather on high for vengeance the armies of the sky, when the time of men’s chief sin is come.
The difficulty of the passage arises from the reply being not
direct, but figurative. It fixes upon
the moral aspect of the matter, not on the physical. The answer is, in substance, this:‑ ‘Wherever the wicked are assembled when judgment takes
effect, thence will the Lord make an escape both for His earthly and for His
heavenly elect; and He will collect His ascended ones to come down in wrath
upon the guilty, faithless generation.’
We know from other sources, that the main congregation of the impious of
the last days will be at, and around
7. THE UNJUST JUDGE.
This part of the Saviour’s discourse has been, through want of judgment, severed from the rest. It, however, fills up a gap which else we could not repair; furnishing an answer to the question, ‘What will become of the disciples left on earth?’
“Moreover, He spake a parable to them, that they ought always to pray, and not to faint, saying, ‘There was in a city a judge, who feared not God, nor regarded man. And (but) there was a widow in that city, and she used* to come to him, saying, ‘Avenge me of my adversary.’ And he would not for a while. But afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I fear not God, nor regard man, yet because this widow troubleth me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’
[* Force of the imperfect.]
“And the Lord said, ‘Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge His own elect which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the $on of Man cometh, shall He find faith upon the earth?’”
These words present us with a view of those awful [Page 27] days, when the righteous have been taken away from the evil. What, then, can those left to cope with Satan and his False Christ do? They are forbidden to take the sword: Rev. 13: 10. Jesus compares them to a widow devoid of friends, able to use only the power of importunity. The ruler of earth will be “the judge of injustice.” He fears not God, he regards not man. Now one of this character was at length wrought upon to grant a widow’s petition for vengeance, by her repeated pursuance of her plea. To escape trouble to himself he at length granted her request.
Now the disciples will really have to deal with the Judge who is not unjust, but who loves righteousness and hates iniquity. They will sue One who loves them, as being his own elect. They will find His door open to their petitions, not only during a few hours of the day, but day and night. If, then, importunity prevailed with the judge of injustice, how much more with the Just Judge?
1 ‘But how can the Church plead for vengeance on its foes? Does not Jesus forbid all such tempers, requiring that His disciples should pray for their foes, not against them?’
He does. But the disciples of that day will have lost their church-standing. The removal of the Lord’s waiting disciples to Himself come down from heaven, together with the ascent of the Holy Ghost, put an end to the characteristics of the Church. Moreover, the days of mercy are past, and vengeance is come. The Antichrist is revealed now that the Hinderers are removed; and of his salvation, and of that of his adherents, there is no hope. Damnation is certain to those who have refused the true Christ, and prefer the false: 2 Thess. 2.: Rev. 13., 14. Disciples may pray, then, for vengeance on their oppressors. But in spite of the power of prayer, and the Saviour’s promise of vengeance and deliverance, the faith of God’s people will be all but quenched, when the hand of the Most High is put forth for rescue of His saints and destruction of the impious.
[Page 28] Thus this last division takes up and confirms the view given of the eagles and carcase. It is the Lord’s terrors of wrath upon wickedness come to the full, which clear the earth, in order to the blessedness of the [millennial] kingdom of the Son of Man.
How unlike our Lord’s picture of these intermediate days of woe to the ideas of most who expect universal faith, an exalted church, and a saved world!
Having now considered the texts usually adduced in proof of
* * * * * * *
CHAPTER 3 [Pages 29-42]
THE KINGDOM PERSONAL
Because the [millennial] kingdom in manifestation has been so long delayed, Christians in general have come to regard the kingdom in mystery as the only one. They rest their views upon the exceptional texts above considered, and try and force more than a hundred to mean merely this present scene. Hence false principles of interpretation are adopted, and produce consequences full of mischief.
It is strange to suppose that the
Take an illustration from English history. In the sixteenth century Cromwell sat on the throne of
So in the days of David.
Saul was rejected by Jehovah, David anointed king over
Now, does scripture regard those eight or nine years of
David’s trouble, as years of his reign?
No! his reign is not reckoned as begun till Saul is slain, and he is
It is even thus with our Lord. He was anointed king at His baptism. But, as yet, He is only king of right; He is not hitherto king in fact. Satan is now ruler; and that rival must be put down and imprisoned ere Jesus’ [millennial] reign is come, John 12: 31; 14: 30; 16: 11; Rev. 20.
The character of the kingdom depends on the presence of the king. Now it is the proclamation of the kingdom, with a view to gather those who, believing and obeying the word of the kingdom, shall be rulers in it when the power of the kingdom is come, Matt. 4: 23; 10: 35; 11: 12; 12: 19 - 52; 16: 19. Great is the difference between hearing the word of the kingdom which comes in grace, and feeling the sceptre of the kingdom when it breaks foes in the day of judgment.
The promises made to the Lord Jesus about His kingdom are not yet fulfilled.
look at the scripture descriptions of what a king should be. “We will have a king over us, that we also may be
like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us,
and fight our battles.” 1
Sam. 8: 19, 20. This gives the main features of the kingly office;
the internal administration for his subjects, and his personal presence for war as well as
may be taken to this passage, as only the word of
“Rulers are not a terror to good works, but
to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the
power? Do that which is good and thou
shalt have praise of the same, for he is the minister of God to thee for
good. But if thou do that which is evil,
be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain; for he is the minister of God,
a revenger to execute wrath upon him that
Now these words are not yet true of Christ. It is as yet the hour of the kingdom of the wild beasts of [page 31] Daniel; Dan. 7. The last ruler of the fourth of these kingdoms slays the saints, unhindered, till the Son of Man comes in person, and takes away his power. Then is the kingdom given to the saints, and manifestly administered by the Son of Man. (1) Jesus is not now using the sword, a terror to evil doers: (2) Nor is He giving praise and reward to the doers of good.
Daniel does not regard the kingdom as come, while the wild beasts are reigning, and the Son of Man is away. But after their power is taken away, after the image is smashed in pieces by the stone descending from heaven, then has the God of heaven set up his kingdom: Dan. 2: 44.
The saints are not to reign till the day of trial and suffering is over, and they are pronounced conquerors, receiving their rewards from Christ in person.
“He that overcometh and keepeth my words unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father:” Rev. 2: 26, 27.
This conduct would be wholly unchristian now, for it is the day of grace. The reign of the saints is to be with Christ. “They lived and reigned with the Christ a thousand years. They shall be priests of God and of the Christ and shall reign with Him a thousand years:” Rev. 20: 4-6.
Jesus is as yet the priest in the sanctuary amid the lamps: Rev. 1. – 3.
He has not the kingdom actually conferred, till the throne of Rev. 4 is set: and that throne is not
brought into the Holiest till the lamps are removed, because the churches are
no longer recognised before God. Jesus
Himself is waiting: “From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool:” Heb. 10: 13. So then we too are to
be “waiting for
Even after the throne of judgment is set in the 4th of Revelation, and after even the fifth seal is broken, when the cry of vengeance against the men of earth goes [page 32] up, it is silenced with the word – ‘Wait awhile! earth has still to become worse, and more murderous, ere God’s vengeance is poured out:’ Rev. 6: 9-11.
But when the king is come, the righteous are to flourish, and the oppressor to be broken in pieces: enemies are to be destroyed, and all kings to obey the Redeemer: Psalm 72: 3, 4, 11. Righteousness is to be the girdle of the king’s loins.
Not such is the principle of our day of grace; not of this character is Christ’s agency now.
Let me now state the proposition to be proved by evidence of scripture.
THE MANIFESTED KINGDOM REQUIRES
THE PERSONAL PRESENCE OF THE KING.
Take some testimonies from the Old Testament.
“He (Jesus) shall smite the earth with the rod (blast) of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the Wicked” (One.) Isa. 11: 4.
Paul, expounding this says, “Then shall the Wicked One be revealed, whom the Lord (Jesus) shall consume with the spirit (breath) of his mouth, and shall strike powerless with the manifestation of his presence.” (Greek) 2 Thes. 2: 8.
At present the Saviour is away; none but his friends behold Him; and they by faith alone. But when this verse is fulfilled Jesus will be manifestly present in person, and in judgment will destroy His great rival the False Christ.
2. From Dan. 2: 34, 35, we learn that the kingdom is to be set up not by agency of mercy upon earth, but, by a stroke of justice from the heaven. The kingdom’s acting is not internal, tranquil, gradual, invisible; but the visible descent of Christ from on high, in an instant breaking in pieces before him all previous kingdoms, after which the stone that smote the image becomes a great mountain and fills the whole earth. The kingdom of the God of heaven shall not be transmitted to any other, “but it shall break in pieces, and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.” 44.
[Page 33] “I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed agains them, till the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High, and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom:” 7: 21, 22.
As truly as the Lawless One is a person who reigns personally on earth, so truly is the Righteous One a person who shall also reign on earth. The transference of the kingdom occurs “suddenly at an instant.” Up to that hour the saints are oppressed. Then the Son of Man strikes powerless, dethrones, and consumes His foe, and gives over his power to the saints, up to that time oppressed and slain.
Zechariah describing the last
“Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof, toward the east and toward the west:” 4.
“And the Lord shall be king over all the earth:” 9.
“Every one that is left of all the nations which came against
Turn we now to evidence from the New Testament.
It is granted, that the Jews and the apostles of our Lord were expecting a personal reign of Messiah on earth. But then it may be replied, ‘Yes, but the Jews’ expectations are not to be depended upon.’ We answer, it is true, that in some points Israelite anticipations about the kingdom were mistaken; but it is also true, that the New Testament exhibits for us those points in which they were mistaken, and appends the correction of them.
1. They were wrong in regard of the time of its coming; for they expected it as soon as Jesus had entered
the nobleman had to travel to a far country in order to [page 34] receive a kingdom, and to return the same long journey ere he began to reign. That he would by his absence allow a considerable period to elapse in order to discover the characters, both of his friends and of his foes, rewarding each according to his works, on his return. The Jews had overlooked the testimony of the 110th Psalm, which witnesses that Messiah had to sit in heaven at God’s right hand, before His enemies were destroyed, and his sceptre is sent out of Jerusalem: Matt 22: 44.
3. They thought that entry was to be obtained on the ground of Moses’ law. Jesus teaches, that the men of law cannot enter: quite a different character is required, quite a different rule is given: Matt. 5. – 7. “For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith:” Rom. 4: 13.
4. They were looking for a time of peace at once. Jesus dashes their expectation to the ground. “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth, I came not to send peace but a sword:” Matt. 10: 34.
5. They probably expected, that it was
to be by the swords of
6. They expected Messiah to reign, simply as a man in a mortal body of flesh and blood. Jesus teaches Peter, that He must first die, before He show himself [page 35] the Rock of His church and the Son of Man in resurrection: Matt. 16: 16-23.
They overlooked the testimonies of
8. They beheld only the earthly department of the kingdom, and supposed that the risen would marry and be given in marriage, as now. Jesus therefore corrects this error, and sets the heavenly department of the kingdom on its everlasting basis: Luke 20: 27-38.
But while these errors about the kingdom are corrected by our Lord, I do not find that their ideas as to the nature of the future kingdom as a visible and personal one, were rebuked. On several occasions the expectations of the apostles, as to the kind of kingdom which is to come, were strongly confirmed.
After Jesus had been rejected by
2. But there was another scene strongly
confirmatory of their expectations.
Jesus, after many miracles, came up to the feast at
The multitudes shout His titles of ‘King of Israel,’ and ‘Son of David.’ Their joy
overflows; they strew His path with garments and branches of trees. But
What said Zechariah about the kingdom? He foretold the entry into Jerusalem of
Messiah, meek and lowly. But he foretold
too, - what was not then accomplished, - the
cutting off of instruments and weapons of war, and peace among the nations,
Messiah’s dominion being from sea to sea, and from
In these two scenes we behold the two departments of the kingdom; the heavenly portion, a secret glory on the mountain top apart by night, light streaming from the bodies and dress of the glorified; and they but few.
But the earthly sphere of the kingdom is of quite another
kind. It takes place by day in the midst
of joyous multitudes of
3. When the rich young man turned away
sorrowfully from the Saviour’s call, Peter enquired, “What should they the
apostles enjoy, seeing they had obeyed the Saviour’s demand, and had forsaken all?”
And Jesus unto them, “Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in
the regeneration, when the Son of Man shall sit upon the throne of his glory,
ye also shall sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of
4. Two of the apostles make use of their mother to be speak for each of them an especial throne - one at the right hand of Messiah, the other on His left: Matt. 20: 20. Jesus assures them that they were not aware of what they were asking for. If they would have especial glory in the future [millennial] kingdom, they must endure especial suffering now. If we would reign with Christ hereafter, we must suffer with Him now: 2 Tim. 2: 12. That was a principle for which they were quite unprepared. Jesus owns then the reality of the point petitioned for: but the principles of its assignment were unlike their expectations. And when the indignation of the ten apostles broke out against the two, Jesus does not say that their hopes were unreal, but bids them if they wished glory in His future kingdom to seek it in service and suffering.
5. Shall we turn to the angel’s promise
to Mary concerning Jesus? “He shall be great, and shall
be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his
father David. And he shall [page 38] reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end:” Luke 1: 32, 33. Where was David’s
throne? In heaven? DAVID HAS NEVER [yet] ENTERED HEAVEN: HOW CAN HIS THRONE BE THERE?
“For David is
not ascended into the heavens:” Acts 2: 34. Where did David reign? “And the days that David reigned over
David reigned in
person: so must Christ. While Jesus is away His foes reign; they
are not yet set as the footstool for His feet. And
Shall we appeal to some of our Lord’s prophecies?
6. Take then Luke 13: 23-29.
One inquired of our Lord, if the saved would be few?
Jesus does not reply directly, but bids him strive to enter into the kingdom. For many would be excluded, as soon as the
king had risen up, and closed the door.
Those on the outside would then appeal to the king to admit them; but he
would refuse. They would plead, that they had been personally acquainted with him,
and had been actually seated with Him once at table. But He would reject them
as workers of iniquity. “There shall be weeping and
gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the
prophets in the kingdom of God, and
you yourselves thrust out. And they
shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the
south, and shall sit down in the
7. Does not the parable of the Pounds
clearly prove the personality of the kingdom?
The men of
“Those mine enemies which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them BEFORE ME:” Luke 19: 11-27.
Here is the King present, is there not?
8. What shall we say to the parable of the Sheep and the Goats?
It opens with a testimony of the coming of the Son of Man in His glory,
together with His angels, and His session on the throne which streams with
splendour. Then He judges the nations
living upon the earth, and distinguishes them as blessed or cursed, according
as they have acted towards His “least brethren,”* the men of
[*So it should be rendered‑see Greek.]
9. The same result appears from the consideration of the celebrated passage, Rev. 20: 4-6.
This is closely connected with chapter 19, which describes the Saviour’s advent in person from the sky, along with the armies of the heaven. It is not the Gospel for Jesus comes not in grace, but in judgment. He judges and makes war in righteousness verse 11. His dress is dipped in blood; He smites the nations with a sharp sword, and breaks them as potter’s vessels. Before Him the hosts of His enemies are slain, and their leaders cast into eternal punishment. Then Satan, as the chief instigator of the plots against God and man, is seized and confined. This cannot be done at present, or by men. As long as the church lasts ’tis the evil day of battle, against Satan and his forces at large. But in the opening of the millennial day he is imprisoned.
The apostle then describes the glory of the first resurrection. It is assigned to persons of three classes.
1. “And I saw thrones, and (men) sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them.
2. “And (I saw) the souls of them that had been beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God.
3. “And whoever worshipped not the Wild Beast, nor his image, nor received his mark upon their forehead or on their hand; both lived and reigned with the Christ a thousand years.”
“But the rest of the dead lived not (again) till the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection; on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of the Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.”
The saints who come with Christ seem to be the first of these three companies. And they come out of the heaven personally with Christ, and reign in person with Him. As surely as many have suffered death in person, so shall they be restored to life in their bodies, in requital of their faith and courage. “He that lost his life for my sake shall find it.” It is a select resurrection - they come forth from the tomb [and Hades] leaving most still incarcerated there.
10. Saints may not reign as long as the
church lasts. They are forbidden so to do.
It would be self-exaltation out
of due time, to be visited with abasement when the
It is in resurrection that Christ is to reign and we with Him. It is after the Saviour’s judgment has been passed upon us as faithful or otherwise; and not before. There is no manifested kingdom till after the saints are arisen. There is no manifestation of resurrection, till after Christ in person has descended from the heavens to call His people up to Himself, whether they be among the sleepers or the wakeful.
Thus our state in the kingdom demands the Saviour in person. For none but He will raise us from the dead. And His judgment of each preparatory to His assigning the place of each during the kingdom, demands our Lord in person.
For this wait,
as yet the day of conflict, of clouds, night, wounds. But the day of victory is at hand. Figure to yourself a corporal of the army of
The campaign in which he won the prize was long, and dreary. Weary night-watches, wintry cold and snow, hunger, loss of friends, night-alarms in the trenches, sickness, wounds. But all are forgot in the blaze of that day of his reward.
What then shall be the glory of him who is “counted worthy” to sit down with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets
* * * * * * *
CHAPTER 4 [Pages 43-60]
THE KINGDOM FUTURE
Scripture is like a dissected map of
I propose treating in this chapter three distinct points.
1. THE KINGDOM IS FUTURE.
2. WHEN WILL IT BE?
3. SOME DIFFICULTIES SOLVED THEREBY.
Our first point then is:-
1. THE KINGDOM IS FUTURE.
When Scripture speaks of the Kingdom, it ordinarily means the kingdom in manifestation; and we have already noticed the exceptional texts which tell of the Kingdom in Mystery.
1. Daniel’s seventh chapter gives us the clear proof of the kingdom’s futurity.
He describes four empires, which still deteriorate in quality. The fourth is worse than all, and as the crisis affects it in especial, more details are given concerning it than concerning the others.
Its last king, ‘the Little Horn’ blasphemes God, and persecutes to death his saints, unhindered, until the Son of Man in person appears; destroying this God-defying, self‑deifying one. This, the most intense wickedness that has ever appeared among men, calls [page 44] down visible vengeance, and destruction by Christ’s own arm.
Then the Saviour hands over to His saints the right and title
to temporal power. “The Ancient of Days came,
was given to the saints of the Most High, [of the
heavenlies] and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom:”
22. But at present, and as long as the Gospel continues,
the saints are forbidden to judge, and not allowed to reign. They rest on
mercy; they are not permitted to touch the sword of justice. They cannot do so now without becoming unlike their heavenly Father, and the Son of God. The empire of the world is given now to
Gentiles, even at times to “the basest of men.” But the
Christ’s coming is the
signal for the saints’ reigning but Jesus cannot come in Gospel days.
Hence the manifest
The kingdoms of the Gentiles are to be ended, as the vision of
the Great Image assures us, by a sudden, vehement stroke of the descending
Stone, which is Christ. Not secret
long-continued agency from within, but a
momentary blow from without and from above, destroys the present arrangements
of the Gentile empires. After the stroke (not before it) the
2. Let us take as our second witness Matthew 6: 10. “Thy kingdom come!”
Jesus, in the opening of the Sermon on the Mount, sets before us the kingdom as the time of blessedness. “Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” All the Beatitudes rest upon this period, as the time when their promised blessings are to be accomplished, in part, or in whole. That is the time, when those who have been persecuted* for righteousness’ sake, whether those of the Law, or [page 45] before it, shall receive their reward; specially the prophets; who, as the bearers of God’s messages endured so much from the ungodly.
[* Perfect participle. See Greek.]
In the close of the fifth chapter Jesus owns the difficulty of His commands; but adds‑ ‘If you do only what the worldly can do, why should you have reward?’ verse 46. In the opening of the sixth chapter our Lord directs us, not to desire and seek the applause of men now, but reward from our Father who is in heaven; a reward to be given in the “kingdom of our Father:” 13: 43. And then our Teacher directs us to pray for the coming of this kingdom; a kingdom which is to embrace at once the earth and the heaven.
Here we may observe, that few as the words are, divine wisdom has so put them together, that while they perfectly fall in with the true views of the kingdom, they are felt to incommode, and stand in the way of those which are erroneous. Our anti-millennarian brethren pray ‘for the extension of the Redeemer’s kingdom,’ or ‘for the advancement of it.’ Why? Because, according to their ideas, the kingdom is something present; and they refuse to look for it in the future, as any thing different from what it is now. In their view ’tis come; all it needs is enlargement. But Jesus speaks of it as yet future. “Thy kingdom come!” He speaks of it too as the coming, not of His own kingdom, but of His Father’s. For though the kingdom of the Son of Man takes place at the same time, yet the kingdom of the Father refers to the heavenly aspect of it; the part possessed by those risen [out] from the dead: 13: 43.
3. Let us take as our next witness THE SUPPER OF THE LORD.
“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” Matt. 26: 26-29.
[Page 46] In these words the Saviour sets apart the bread and wine to
be used by His disciples in memory of His death. The wine is to be to them significant of “blood;” so long as this dispensation
the blood of the new covenant, shed for those who find they cannot be saved by
the old. And this rite is to be
celebrated by believers of the
We have thus in part forestalled the second point.
[Page 47] 2. WHEN IS THIS KINGDOM TO COME?
We may regard it from three points of view, in reference to –
2. THE CHURCH.
In reference to
“And when these things begin to come
to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth
nigh. And he spake to them a parable;
Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; when they now shoot forth, ye see and
know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the
When Israel - now the dead fig-tree of winter - shall begin again to show signs of life, then will the kingdom of God be known to be near; just as it is known that the summer of nature is near, when the literal fig-tree and the other trees begin to sprout.
But wrath and destruction - the terrible thunderstorm of the great day of God - must first cut off sinners out of the earth.
“And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be over-charged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth:” Luke 21: 34, 35.
Then will come the deliverance of
“And they went, and found as he had
said unto them: and they made ready the passover. And when the hour was come, he sat down, and
the twelve apostles with him. And he
said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover
with you before I suffer: For I say unto you I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the
The Saviour, celebrating His last [P]passover with the twelve,
as a Jew among Jews, tells them of the
eagerness with which He had looked
forward to that rite, [page 48] for it was one of crisis; a milestone on the way to the kingdom. It was the last He would celebrate, till the [P]passover should be
swallowed up in the manifested
Then Jesus shall celebrate the [P]passover anew, and it will
have arrived at its height of significance; for then the
The same truth appears from our Lord's words when giving the [P]passover-cup. “Take this, and divide it among yourselves, for I say unto you, I
will no more [page 49] drink of the fruit of the vine, till the
2. Let us look at the matter with reference to the church.
The disciples [i.e., the followers of Christ] are now called, or invited by God, to enter His future kingdom and its glory: 1 Thess. 2: 12. They are to seek that first: Matt. 6: 33.
But the [coming millennial] kingdom is only to be enjoyed after our present trial is ended, and after Jesus is come to award to each his due recompense. This we see clearly in the parable of the Pounds. All the while that the nobleman is away, the servants, with the pounds committed to them, are under trial; they are to do business till their Lord arrives. They are not to reign till He reigns; they are not to reign till He has adjudged them worthy of disgrace or reward; nor till He has settled their degrees of honour, as lords of ten cities, or of five.
So again, when the Saviour says -
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works:” Matt. 7: 21, 22 -
He shows us, that the kingdom is to come, not in “this day,” but in another – “in that day.” Nor can any [disciple] enter into that future [millennial] kingdom, save as permitted by Jesus Himself. For it is evident, that in those words the Lord Jesus takes the place of a judge, deciding [before the ‘First Resurrection’], without appeal, on the case, of each, as warranted to enter into, or as excluded from, the kingdom in manifestation.
[Page 50] This is confirmed for us still further by 1 Cor. 6: 7-11.
“Now therefore there is utterly a
fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye
not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?
Nay, ye do wrong and defraud,
and that your brethren. Know ye
not that the unrighteous shall not
From these words of rebuke addressed to those [regenerate believers] in communion at
So Paul, speaking of
the persecutions endured by the Thessalonian Christians, says, It is “a manifest token of the
righteous judgment of God, that ye
may be counted worthy of the
Lastly, view the subject from the coming of Jesus.
1. The kingdom cannot come till the personal return of the Lord; as is shown by the Sheep and
Goats. “When the Son of Man shall
come in his glory, [page 51] 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, (or “all the Gentiles.”) As soon as He
appears as judge He passes sentence on these living men, according to their
On another occasion, Jesus taught His disciples, that it was
next to impossible that a rich man should have part in His millennial
kingdom. Great surprize
was expressed; but He reiterated the sentiment.
Peter then desired to know, since their
conduct – [i.e., their
attitude toward worldly wealth and riches] - had been the opposite to that of the
rich young man, what
reward should be theirs? Jesus replied-
“Verily I say
unto you, that ye which have followed
me, in the regeneration when the Son
of Man shall sit on the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of
Let us observe then, how, with this key we can unlock many difficulties, which are shut up against the ordinary interpretation.
3. DIFFICULTIES SOLVED.
1. Take the eleventh chapter of Matthew, verses 11-13.
“Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist [page 52] notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.”
How now does the ordinary exposition deal with these words of our Lord? If we assume that the kingdom of heaven means the Gospel [of the grace of God, and the free gift of eternal life,] or the Kingdom in Mystery, it is landed amidst plenty of difficulties, not to say impossibilities, of [a correct] interpretation.
On this theory, the least in the kingdom of heaven is the lowest disciple under the Gospel.* How then is such a one greater than John? Here many bewilder themselves, in the vain attempt to find a fair and true outlet. It is not true, that the least believer of Gospel times is greater than John the Baptist; either in inspiration; for John was a prophet; or in preaching, for multitudes never preach at all! Nor can it be said they are greater in success of ministry; for John wrought on the hearts of multitudes to their salvation. Nor in clearness of views; for the ideas of many Christians, and of course those of the least of Christians, are muddy enough. Nor is it superiority of privileges; for greatness is external and visible, and the privileges of Christians are internal and spiritual.
[* Some would strangely make it signify Jesus the King of kings, lord of the kingdom.]
All this perplexity arises
from the attempt to acknowledge as the
‘John (says Jesus) was as great as any born of women,’ ‘but there is another and a higher birth, which the least of those who [rise out from Hades - the place of the dead to] partake of the kingdom in glory must experience. There is a birth from the tomb, ordinarily necessary in order [for the dead in Christ] to enter the [millennial] kingdom of [page 53] glory. And the least of those who enter the kingdom in resurrection [bodies] will be visibly and manifestly greater than John; greater personally, in knowledge, and power; greater in rule and influence over others; for they will be equal unto the angels, and be the children of God, because they are children of the blessed resurrection.*
[* See Luke 20: 34, 35.]
The Saviour then observes, that a new dispensation came in
with John’s proclamation; the preaching of the kingdom of glory began, and God
2. Take, as a second example, the difficult passage, Matthew 16: 13-28.
In this our Lord, after long patience, and sending out His
disciples to warn and arouse the nation of
Jesus is not then, as it is commonly said, speaking of Peter’s opening the door of faith to the Jews, to the Samaritans, and to the Gentiles. For that was neither binding nor loosing; much less did he first begin by binding. But in the case of the incestuous [‘brother’], it was first binding, then loosing. Moreover, Jesus had spoken in the previous verse of the building of the church. [Page 55] And after Paul has laid down the offences for which any are to be put out from church-fellowship, (1 Cor. 5) in the next chapter he adds, that the same offences will also exclude from “the kingdom of God:” 1 Cor. 6.
Jesus then proceeds to lay down His Jewish title of “the Christ;” for
3. As our third passage of difficulty, let us take Matthew 20: 20-28.
[Page 56] “Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom. But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.
And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister: And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
The answer of our Lord to the petition of the mother of James and John for a right hand and a left hand seat in His kingdom is understood to signify - that there was in reality no such thing as they asked for. “Ye know not what ye are asking for.” ‘Was not this a rebuke of their carnal expectations of a visible kingdom on [this] earth?’
So we might have thought, had the words stood alone. But they do not; and the context with other
passages shows, that there are such
posts as the ‘Sons of Thunder’ desired; and such a kingdom as they looked for.
What had the Saviour in a previous chapter said? “In the regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit on
the throne of His glory, Ye also shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve
[Page 57] But the context also bears witness, that the Saviour’s words are no rebuke of ‘carnal apprehensions of His kingdom.’ He declares, (verse 23,) that these posts for which they applied were already bespoken; and that in appointing His apostles and others to such elevations in His realm, He would only follow His Father’s good pleasure and arrangement.
What was the Saviour’s meaning then in those words – “Ye know not what ye ask?” They are most clearly expounded for us by the words which follow. “Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of?” As though the Lord had said – ‘0 James and John, you are expecting, that as soon as I arrive at Jerusalem I shall take the kingdom; and that then you will step upon your thrones. But know, that ere the crown glitters on my brow, the cross must intervene. Ere I take my throne I must go up on high, and a dreary interval of patient suffering must be endured by my disciples. This is part of the Father’s plan - that they who with me reign must first jointly suffer with me. And the degrees of glory in my millennial reign will be meted out in proportion to sufferings endured for my sake. In asking, therefore, for the principal thrones you are asking also for pre-eminence of suffering. This you do not see; and so you know not what you are asking for. If you saw this, in your present mind, you would not dream of asking for such heights of glory.’ But they declare their readiness to endure, and the Saviour assures them they should. But still the posts they coveted were not to be won, as among men, by urgency of petition, and by being first in the field. The Father would assign them in accordance with His righteous principle; and Jesus would bestow agreeably with the Father’s decision.
The request of the two created great indignation among the remaining ten of the disciples. But the Saviour takes occasion thence to teach us all a lesson of deepest moment. The twelve were to be enthroned, as He had promised; but their ambition was to take an [page 58] opposite form to that exhibited by the ambitious and the great of the world. The great of the world issue commands, and are waited upon by those beneath them. The ambitious strive to thrust others aside, as standing in their way; and covet titles of beneficence without doing the work of kindness. But among the disciples of Jesus so it is not to be. If any were ambitious, they were to learn, that glory and lofty posts in the kingdom to come, may be attained only through humility and lowly service to others. “Whosoever wishes to be great among you let him be your servant.” In this Jesus was to be their example. He had taken the place of service to others instead of authority over them. He was about to offer up His life, in order to ransom others. Wherefore the Father will exalt Him above every name in the age to come. They, then, who wish to be great in the coming kingdom may attain to it, if they will seek for glory by the two channels which the Saviour here indicates, 1. SUFFERING: and 2. SFRVICE.
4. Some find a difficulty in those words so oft repeated -
“The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matt. 3: 2; 4: 17; 10: 7.
‘Does it not follow from this, that we must understand that the Gospel or the church is the promised kingdom? since that is what followed soon after, while the manifested kingdom of which you speak has not come for ages. Is it not clear, then, that fact has proved what is the meaning of ‘the kingdom of heaven?’ ”
To this I reply – ‘No!’
The expression, more exactly translated, is – ‘The kingdom of heaven hath
drawn near.’ Had
[* That is, ‘lost to the nation of Israel’ in natural bodies of ‘flesh and blood’, but not lost to Jews resurrected and glorified in immortal bodies of ‘flesh and bones’. To suggest that resurrected Old Testament saints, will not have equal privileges with resurrected New Testament saints is out of character with what the Scriptures teach.]
Even when the tribes are forgiven, even when the kingdom of heaven draws near again and they accept it, they receive a place only in the lower or earthly department. And of the unbelievers of the Saviour's time, and of others since Jesus said, 11 The children of the kingdom (the Jews to whom millennial promises were first made) shall be cast into outer darkness ; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth: " Matt. viii, 12.
The difficulty of this passage may then be illustrated by previous examples taken from their nation.
God brought the tribes close to the land of promise, and said
to them – ‘The land is before you; enter in.’ But they drew back in fear and unbelief. ‘The giants; how could they overcome them? The cities fenced up to heaven! How could they storm tkem! ’Twas destruction
to attempt it!’ And so the Lord dealt with them according to
their unbelief, and the possession of the land was put off forty years. Might
The kingdom then did draw near; but, through the unbelief and
I may add, that in Luke 10:
9, 11, the
expression is better given, “The
Take as a fifth example, Acts 14: 22. Paul and Barnabas visited several of the
must, through much
tribulation enter into the
Now here is a sense of the ‘
Much turns on our acceptance of this testimony. This [millennial] glory is not for those who
disbelieve it. For what says the
Saviour? “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the
* * * * * * *
CHAPTER 5. [Pages 61-75]
THE JEWISH ASPECT OF THE KINGDOM.
The promises of a day of glory to appear on the earth were
originally made to
The New Testament acknowledges in their place the Old Testament promises made to the twelve tribes. Let us then consider the kingdom in its connexions with‑
I. In our consideration of the first point, let us take some passages concerning ISRAEL’S PLACE IN THE KINGDOM - from the Old Testament.
1. “Praise the
Lord; for the Lord is good: sing praises unto his name, for it is
pleasant. For the Lord
hath chosen Jacob to himself, and
2. “The Lord
doth build up
Neither of these passages can have their fulfilment during the days of the Gospel, while
3. Again “They
shall go to confusion together that are makers of idols. But
4. Jeremiah, after prophesying the
5. Still more remarkable are the
prophet’s words in the chapter which treats of the new covenant with
“At the same time, saith the Lord,
will I be the God of all the families of
But let us turn now to New Testament witnesses.
1. To Jesus before his birth the throne of David
His father was promised by the angel; as the result of which He was to rule
over the house of Jacob for ever: Luke 1: 32, 33. Moreover, Zacharias beholds in the birth of John the same glory. “Blessed be the Lord God
2. At Jesus’
birth the Magi came to
3. Very remarkable are the words of
Jesus to Nathaniel. Nathaniel, struck
with the Lord’s supernatural knowledge, had saluted him with the words, “Rabbi, thou art the
Son of God, thou art the King of Israel.” Here, then, are two titles of very
different value, but both meeting in one person. And Jesus owns them, and expounds for us
their force. “Verily, verily, I say unto
you, hereafter ye shall see heaven
opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man:” John 1: 49-51. That is, ‘I am He, in
whom the dream of Jacob, concerning the ladder that united earth and heaven’
will be fulfilled. And thou, Nathaniel,
in the names thou hast chosen, hast indicated the foot of the ladder which touches
the earth, in the title, “King of
And John testifies, that Jesus’ death was not only for the
scattered children of God, but with an especial view to
resurrection of the righteous is to precede, as we see
here, the glory of
Jesus’ owning of Himself before the Emperor’s lieutenant as
the King of the Jews, was “the good confession” of which Paul speaks; and for it, Jesus was condemned by
Pilate to die. The title above His Cross, that specified for what crime He suffered, was, “THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
The Pharisees saw that Pilate was thus mocking the nation and its hopes,
and requested a slight alteration in the terms of the title; but Pilate
refused. On his part,
’twas too good a joke to be spoiled; on God’s, ’twas too great a truth to be
During the present dispensation - the Mystery of God -
Of this implied remnant from among the
twelve tribes the book of Revelation is a witness, where it describes the
12,000 firstfruits of each tribe of the nation: Rev. 7.
At length the new covenant is made with the repentant tribes: Heb. 8: 8-10.
And thenceforward nothing but blessing can flow in to them; for God now fulfils the terms of it. Then Jesus, after having been a light to
lighten the Gentiles,* becomes the glory of His people
* Or perhaps better, “to reveal the nations.” - Compare v. 35.
II. Let us now see how the
1. Psalm 122.
“I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the
house of the Lord. Our feet shall stand
within thy gates, 0
See also Psalm 128.
“Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord; that
walketh in his ways. For thou shalt eat the
labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with
thee. Thy wife shall be as a fruitful
vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive-plants round about
thy table. Behold, that thus shall the
man be blessed that feareth the Lord. The Lord shall bless thee out of
2. Take, as a third witness, Isaiah 62: 1-7.
3. As a fourth, take Jeremiah 3: 16-18.
“And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land,
in those days, saith the Lord, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of
the Lord: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it;
neither shall they visit it; neither shall that [the ark] be done [made] any
more. At that time they shall call
4. As the last from the Old Testament, take Zechariah 8: 3-8.
“Thus saith the Lord; I am returned unto
Let us now regard the New Testament evidence.
1. At the close of His earthly career
our Lord sends for the ass and its foal, as He enters
The kingdom, therefore, cannot as yet come to
But this dark scene will change. For at
III. Let us now turn to some testimonies concerning THE TEMPLE in the day of the kingdom.
1. Take first the well known passage of Isaiah 2: 1-4.
“The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw
In that day the mountain on which the temple will [page 71] be set will be loftier than any round about; for earthquakes of unprecedented severity will alter the whole configuration of the country. And afterward it will be the point toward which men of all nations will flow in a stream. Thence as a centre will the knowledge of the true God flow, and that will be the time of a settled peace, such as the world has never yet seen.
2. Take as a second witness Isaiah 66: 23, 24.
“And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord. And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.”
3. For a third testimony, receive Ezek. 42: 1-7.
“Afterward he brought me to the gate, even the gate that looketh toward the east: and, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory. And it was according to the appearance of the vision which I saw, even according to the vision that I saw when I came to destroy the city: and the visions were like the vision that I saw by the river Chebar; and I fell upon my face. And the glory of the Lord came into the house by the way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east. So the spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court; and, behold, the glory of the Lord filled the house. And I heard him speaking unto me out of the house; and the man stood by me. 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 for ever, and my holy name, shall the house of Israel no more defile, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoredom, nor, by the carcases of their kings in their high places.”
This discovers to us that entrance of the Son of God in His
glory into the new temple at
4. As a last testimony from the Old Testament let us cite Malachi 3: 1-5.
“Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me:
and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the
messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the
Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day
of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth?
for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: and he shall sit as a
refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge
them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in
righteousness. Then shall the offering
The first coming of the Lord Jesus did not fulfil this word. He came, not as the terrible refiner to cast into the furnace; He purged not the sons of Levi. He came, not for judgment; but in mercy. But at His second coming this shall be fulfilled; and then the sacrifices of the temple shall be restored, and shall be acceptable to Jehovah as in the days of Solomon.
To some this is inconceivable: ‘How,’
say they, ‘can any sacrifice be offered again, after
sacrifice of Christ? Was it not
offered once for all?’ Yes,
truly; and yet sacrifices in the temple at
Turn we now to the New Testament evidence upon the subject.
Jesus always, from His earliest years, honoured the temple as His Father’s house. When found by His mother, it was in the temple. And when she made complaint of the long and fruitless search she had made for Him previously, He replied- “How is that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be at my Father’s?” Luke 2: 49. So it should be translated. There was no need of long search and inquiry; they might have supposed that a son was to be met with at his Father’s house. Thus He gently rebukes His mother’s words – “Thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.” It was from not seeing the Saviour’s meaning in the word ‘father,’ that they understood Him not.
At a later period, at the commencement of His ministry, Jesus
cleansed the temple; while yet He hinted of a better temple, even His own body:
A second time He cleansed it, after His final going up to
* Hence in verse 21 of that chapter it should be by “him that dwelt therein!” And so the best MSS. read.
During the present dispensation, according to the principles
announced to the woman of
But when Christ returns, the Church is removed from its place
of witness, and the spiritual house is finished. Then
Our present position, Christians, is illustrated for us by the
history of the kingdom in
Then came the sudden change. The guilty king and his sons fall in battle. The kingdom comes to the son of Jesse.
’Tis so now. He who desires fields and vineyards, and the captaincies of the world should not follow the Son of David, but Saul. David mourned and fasted, while Saul and his men feasted. But the crisis came; and God fulfilled to David His promises. So shall it be in the day to come. This evil age shall pass away; the true Heir of All shall come. He will remember His servants and captains who have fought for Him, and been despised together with Him during the evil day.
Persevere in well-doing,
* * * * * * *
CHAPTER 6. [Pages76-91]
THE HEAVENLY DEPARTMENT OF THE KINGDOM
For want of perceiving that the
Let me then present some proofs of the‑
I. TWO DEPARTMENTS OF THE KINGDOM.
II. MODE OF THE COMING OF THE HEAVENLY KINGDOM.
III. PRESENT PREPARATION FOR IT.
Consider then the proofs of the
I. TWO DIVISIONS OF THE KINGDOM.
The Old Testament speaks chiefly of the earthly compartment of
the kingdom; and presents to us sometimes the blessings destined for
Take some examples concerning
1. Jeremiah 23: 5-8.
“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a king shall
reign and prosper, and shal execute judgment and
justice in the earth. In his days
2. Psalm 47: 2, 3, 6-9.
“For the Lord most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth. He shall subdue the people under us, and [page 77] the nations under our feet. Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises. For God is the King of a the earth: sing ye praises with understanding. God reigneth over the heathen; God sitteth upon the throne of his holiness. The princes of the people are gathered together, even the people of the God of Abraham: for the shields of the earth belong unto God: he is greatly exalted.”
In this passage both
3. Micah 4: 1-8.
“But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of
the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be
exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the
Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways,
and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word
of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall
judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall
beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks; nation
shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any
more. But they shall sit every man under
his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth
of the Lord of hosts bath spoken it. For all people will walk
every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the Lord our
God for ever and ever. In that
day saith the Lord, will I assemble her that halteth,
and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted; and I
will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong
nation: and the Lord shall reign over them in Mount Zion from henceforth, even
for ever. And thou, 0 tower of the
flock, the strong hold of the daughter of
Of the heavenly aspect of the future kingdom we have an intimation in Eph. .1: 9, 10: “Having made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he purposed in himself, that in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth, even in him.”
[Page 78] Thus a place is found both for the Gentiles and for
2. In Abraham both parts of the heritage meet.
“By faith, Abraham when he was called to go out into the place which he was about to receive for inheritance, obeyed, and he went out, not knowing whither he went:” Heb. 11: 8. Here is the earthly aspect of the kingdom.
But he, together with Isaac and Jacob, confessed themselves “strangers and
pilgrims on the earth.” They regarded earth, therefore, as not
their abiding place. For “now they desire
a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be
called their God; for he prepared for them a city” - the
this was typified of old in Abraham’s having two wives of different standings,
and a son by each: Gal. 4. One of these mothers was a slave; and she
answers to the
[Page 79] The partakers of each department also of the kingdom have a body suited to it. After having testified of Jesus’ kingdom, and of the order of resurrection, Paul treats of the kind of bodies to be possessed by the risen. “There are heavenly bodies, there are also earthly; but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind; that of the earthly is of another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead:” 1 Cor. 15: 40-42.
That is, then, while the kingdom will unite in itself both men of the earth and [glorified and immortal] men of the heaven, yet the perfection of the risen body will be very different from the perfection of the animal body of flesh and blood. Even among the bodies of those risen from the dead there will be a threefold distinction of brightness; just as among the glories of the bodies which shine in the heaven the star’s brightness differs from the moon’s, and that again from the sun’s. Now as there are these three kinds of brightness, so there are also three different dispensations, out of which God will gather partakers of the millennial kingdom. Those of the patriarchal times will have the glory as of the star; those of the law’s days, the glory as of the moon; those of gospel days, the solar radiance.
Types of both these departments of the kingdom were given in
our Lord’s day.
The heavenly department of the kingdom was offered first to
But, at the close of the Saviour’s sojourn on earth, He gave
II. Look we now at some passages which treat of
THE MODE OF ARRIVAL OF THE HEAVENLY KINGDOM.
It is to arrive by the descent of Jesus Himself from on high into air. He will then send and gather to Himself His people, whether asleep in the tomb, or still alive on the earth. For this we wait [until the time of Resurrection]. 1 Thess. 1: 10; 4. Body, soul, and spirit reunited will be presented before Christ. But after it comes the great and terrible “day of the Lord” upon those left on the earth. The rapture of these favoured ones of Christ is not seen, and the world disbelieves the true interpretation of the mysterious disappearance of so many Enochs from among the living. Hence they fall yet deeper into the spiritual sleep of unbelief, and the terrors of Jesus’ manifestation in wrath find them wholly unprepared: 1 Thess., 5.
When our Lord comes for His people ‘tis in secret; but when He comes to avenge them, the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels: 2 Thess. 1. So, after the assembly of Christ’s [translated or rapt] saints to Him, the apostacy of multitudes from the Christian faith occurs, and out of that unbelief and its blasphemy springs the ‘Man of Sin’. He cannot now appear, for the day is not yet suited to him. But, then, God will send this Great Deceiver, to test the nations; and Satan will be permitted to persuade men by the full force of his supernatural powers to receive his king, and to worship. Men, having refused God’s truth and His Son, the true Christ, are handed over to Satan’s lie, and to the false [page 81] Christ. This Awful Usurper of God’s name and worship continues to blaspheme the Lord and to prosper among men, till Jesus suddenly flashes forth with His armies from the sky, in which He has been hitherto concealed. At that instant all power to resist leaves the Antichrist, and his kingdom is overturned by “the manifestation of the presence” of Jesus.
Then the remnant of
The first man brought in death; the second Adam, resurrection. We who believe bear first the image of Adam of the earth; we shall bear the image of the second Adam, the Lord from heaven.
Abraham is to have a double seed - that like the sand, the earthly seed; and that like the stars, the heavenly.
At the last trump, the change which puts off the corruptible and the mortal, for the immortal and the incorruptible, is to take place. “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” The Saviour’s words in explanation of the Wheat and Tares, show us the other department of the kingdom: for He says, “The Son of Man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all stumbling-blocks, and those which do iniquity, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth:” Matt. 13: 41-43. The kingdom is also denominated, where the church is addressed, “the kingdom of the Christ and God” - the Greek signifying, that both substantives describe one person. It is also the kingdom of the Son. “Unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, 0 God, is for ever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom:” Heb. 1: 8.
Many crowns are His, in the day when desert is rewarded. Prophecy testified “the sufferings of the Christ, then the glories that should follow.”
[Page 82] Jesus reigns, till all enemies are subjected to Him, and to His Father: 1 Cor. 15: 24. After Satan is imprisoned, earth obeys, and enemies are cut off. To us is presented the joyful hope of being priests to God and His Christ, yea, fellow-kings with Him.
III. But now a word about OUR PRESENT PREPARATION FOR IT.
God has appointed us [who are ‘accounted worthy’ (Luke 20: 35)] our portion in the heavenlies, not in the earth: Eph. 1: 3. As he has raised thither Jesus our Lord, so has He seated us there in Him: Eph. 1: 20.
In heaven are the
angels who fell not, who are learning the mind of God from His conduct toward
the Church: Eph. 3: 10. There,
also are the fallen angels our foes, “wicked spirits in heavenly places,” against whom we are called to
6: 11, 12. These are like the Canaanites who were in
possession of the good land, which was prepared for
Those blessings which
But our temple is in heaven itself, a tabernacle which the Lord has fixed and not man. And there Jesus ministers for us.
If this be true doctrine, we must believe it, and act according to it. As our portion is in heaven, we must not seek our pleasures, substance, or honour below.
We are to covet a part in the coming kingdom, and to be found obedient, as the way to it. For while simple faith brings eternal life; good works and obedience to our Lord’s special commands are required, in order to obtain a part in the kingdom to come. “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven ; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven;” Matt. 7: 21. Hence we have to resist spiritual evil; to advance in good. Life toward God is a fight with Satan; a race to a goal: 2 Tim. 4: 7, 8. Hence we are to expect tribulation: it is the appointed way into the millennial kingdom: 2 Tim. 2: 11, 12 ; Acts. 14: 22. By our conduct now, will our places then be adjusted: for thus it is written: 2 Tim. 2: 16-21. “But shun the profane vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a cancer, of whom are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who concerning the truth erred, saying, that the resurrection has already taken place; and they are overthrowing the faith of some. Nevertheless, the foundation of God standeth firm, having this seal, ‘The Lord knoweth them that are His, [page 84] and let every one that nameth the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.’ ‘But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and of earth, and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If therefore any purge himself from these (things) he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and made meet for the Master, prepared for every good work.” (Greek.)
On this I look as a passage of much importance, whose force is not generally seen.
Paul directs Timothy to divide the word of God rightly. As the priests might not cut the victim save as directed; as there is in every sacrificial animal a system of bones and joints, which must be respected by him who cuts it up, so is there a system in God’s dispensations. He who should cut up an animal on a priori mathematical principles, into triangles and squares, would soon find what mangling and waste would be the result. He so offends, who carves God’s word according to the theory which he brings to Scripture.
There were those of Paul’s day who hacked the Scripture, and the teaching of the apostles into accordance with their imaginations. These called themselves ‘Gnostics’ – ‘Men of Science,’ ‘Men of Intelligence,’ able to discern between the true and the false: 1 Tim. 6: 20, 21. This, as the Holy Ghost foretells, would advance, till even the appearance of Christianity was gone. They divided the truth wrongly: severing what was united, uniting what God had divided. Thus error, as the apostle foretold it would, spread widely.
He gives a special example then before him - the denial of “the first resurrection,” or “the resurrection of the just.”
Hymenaeus and Philetus said, that the “resurrection was
past already.” By “the resurrection” in Scripture, the resurrection of bliss
is always meant: Matt. 22: 28, 31; Luke 14: 14; 20:
33-36, etc. What are we to
understand, then, was their doctrine?
There are on this point two chief ideas. (l.) That they taught that the resurrection promised was not physical, but spiritual; regeneration, in short.
(2) That the resurrection was that literal coming forth of saints from
the tomb, which took place at
(l.) It is not the first of these; though that idea might have gained ground afterwards, when unbelief had grown, as foretold. For Paul does not say, that these errorists were wrong as to the nature of the resurrection, but only as to its time. They affirmed, that to be “past already,” which other Christians were expecting as yet future.
They thus removed the hope of the
saints, the spur
to zeal and diligence; and shook their faith generally. But in those days there were inspired
apostles, to whom appeal could be made – ‘Hymenaeus
says there is no first resurrection to be expected by the saints: is he right?’ Paul, then, bore witness against this as an
error. The whole of the epistle has the
first resurrection as its under-current.
It teaches more strongly than any other epistle, than even that of
Hebrews, the mighty effects hereafter resulting to all,*
and specially to believers, from their actions. Deserted by his friends both at
[* That is, ‘all’ as understood in a limited sense; not all the redeemed but only those ‘considered worthy’.]
He continued to testify of Christ’s appearing and kingdom, though it had brought him under the emperor’s suspicions, and would rob him of life: 4: 7, 8. Yet the Lord would preserve him safe to “His heavenly kingdom:” 18. And he testifies to believers in general how faithful, is the saying, that if we suffer [page 86] with Christ, with Him we shall reign. He adds, that our unbelief or denial of this truth will not shake it, for it rests upon the Saviour’s word: 2: 11-13. Here, then, again and again Paul asserts the doctrine which these errorists denied.
Their denials did not shake “the foundation of God.” The doctrine questioned had been clearly affirmed previously by the Most High, and by Paul His servant. It was a reality, founded on God’s purpose to glorify His Son, and His saints together with His Son.
This foundation has a double inscription.
1. “THE LORD KNOWETH THEM THAT ARE HIS.”
That is, God’s election is a secret thing. We judge who are His, and who not, by their words and conduct. But we may be, we sometimes are deceived. This was said by way of comfort and strengthening of the faith to those who had been shaken by finding men high in repute among Christians, men such as Hymenaeus, Alexander, and Philetus, falling back to the world, and blaspheming the faith they once professed. This stumbling-block, then, Paul removes thus: ‘Not all are God’s, [elect into the kingdom] who are thought so.’ God alone is the infallible Judge in this. Every other plant but that of His setting shall at last be rooted up.
The second inscription is this:-
2. “LET EVERY ONE THAT NAMETH THE NAME OF THE LORD* DEPART FROM INIQUITY.”
*So read the critical editions.
One of these principles is concealed with God; and one visible to man. One is of grace and gift; the other a matter of responsibility, or God’s demand from those so graciously chosen. The kingdom is that of the saints. So Daniel taught; so Jesus re-affirmed: Dan. 7: 18, 22; Matt. 7: 21-23; Heb. 12: 14. Election without answering holiness will give no entrance into that resurrection; for it is the resurrection, not of the elect [unto eternal life] as such, [page 87] but “the resurrection of the righteous.” (just.)
Here, then, is a second truth. Some who are God’s people may so offend, so fall into iniquity, as to be excluded from that glory and kingdom. What of them? Where will they take their place who axe implicated in false doctrines and ways of iniquity?
The apostle answers by analogy. God has a place at last for all His saved ones. Great is His universe: vast the new heavens and earth. If any, then, of His elect misconduct themselves in the day of trial, and in spite of warning, there will be appointed them a suitable position in the coming day, and in the coming eternity. A palace requires vessels of all kinds; some of the costliest character, of gold, or gems, fit for purposes of honour, to grace the king’s table, or chambers of state. But other vessels there are of dishonourable uses, and yet necessary. The believer’s way is open to seek and attain the highest place; the way is open also to the lowest. It is a matter of present responsibility, and of future award.
I feel sure that this is the true meaning; and not that which could make the “great house” to be visible Christianity, or Christendom. For the apostle is not speaking of any assignment of places now, but of that which is to be made in the day to come. It cannot yet be known with certainty who are the vessels unto honour; who, unto dishonour. The hope is set before the holy, that they may one day be vessels unto honour. “If a man purge himself from these (things) he shall be a vessel unto honour.” One denies not, of course, that even already there is some foreshadowing of the great recompense. To the faithful, even now more is given. Moreover, the church in Paul’s day was in no sense of evil, the “great house.” It became so only ages after, when mixed with the state.
There is underlying this passage, I believe, a constant reference to the rebellion of Kolah, Dathan, and Abiram. Korah and his friends set themselves up against Aaron, asserting that Moses and Aaron had [page 88] exalted themselves above the rest of the congregation without warrant; for all the people were as holy, and as fit to draw near God as they. It would appear, that like this was the attitude of the errorists rebuked here: 1 Tim. 2: 7; 6: 3-5; 2 Tim. 1: 11. It is indeed evident, from the necessity of the case, that something of this kind must have arisen. For, as soon as Paul had declared himself opposed to this false teaching, if the offender did not at once submit, he must have opposed himself to the apostolic authority of Paul. ‘Who is this Paul? that he should set up his opinions above every body in the church? Can’t others read the Scriptures, and see what they mean, as well as he?’ This, then, was in principle the attitude of Korah. ‘The Lord is among the congregation, we are His as well as you.’ Moses replies to Korah, that the Lord knew who were His, and whom He had authorized to draw near as priests.*
* The only priests now are believers. So‑called ‘priests’, made by men are guilty of this very sin of Korah; while they accuse others. None but believers are priests; all believers are so.
But there was a second party in the rebellion, who set themselves peculiarly against the authority of
Moses, denying the hope set before them.
“Is it a
small thing that thou hast brought us up out of a land that floweth with milk and
honey, except thou make
thyself altogether a prince over us?” That is, they take
up the words of the promise with which Moses led them out of the house of
bondage, and apply it to the land they had left. The good land was really
They proceed further to accuse Moses of spreading knowingly a
delusion before the eyes of
Thereupon Moses bids all who would escape, flee from the tents of wickedness: for swift judgment was about to overtake these offenders. Accordingly, many arise and flee, and the rebels are swallowed up. Those who stood with Moses beside God’s tabernacle, were secure. “The foundation of the Lord stood secure.”
Then came a fire out from the Lord, and consumed the two hundred and fifty princes who were offering incense. Eleazar is then directed to take up the censers in which these rebellious ones were offering to the Lord, and to cast out the incense and the coals. The censers we’re, hallowed, because offered to the Lord, and they should be made use of when beaten into plates, to cover the altar with. This fact we see taken up by the apostle’s words about the places in the great house. God would give the vessels of these sinning Levites a place in His tabernacle; but a place of dishonour, a use of warning. They were to teach the danger of acting as did Korah and his friends. Jehovah teaches and will teach hereafter, by facts, which are His handwriting. The next day the congregation sins, and the plague bursts forth. Then Moses bids Aaron take his censer, and make atonement for them. The accepted priest does so: he stands between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed. Here again is illustrated for us the promise that the purified and accepted one shall be a vessel to honour. The Levites’ censers draw down the burning: Aaron’s stays the plague.
God’s firmness then is conspicuous. (1) Great as the numbers of the congregation and the heads of the [page 90] conspiracy were, He smites. (2) He stands by Aaron whom He has chosen, defends him, honours him.
Lastly, in the sequel, He gives to Aaron a token of the resurrection, the first resurrection of bliss. God would still the murmurs of the rebels against Aaron. He does so by requiring, that a rod should be furnished by each of the tribes, and the name of each written on the rod. They were laid up before God in the tabernacle. On the morrow Aaron’s rod had budded, and yielded both buds and almonds. This was Jehovah’s testimony to Aaron as His priest. It was a hint of the better priesthood, and of the better country - even the heavenly, to be obtained in resurrection. The dead rod cut long ago from its parent tree, now was glorified with new life.
Thus has the Spirit met the case before us. Some of these leaders of error may have been unconverted men.* But, if any of them were converted, then God would assign them a low and dishonourable place in His future earth and city. So also Rev. 22: 18, 19.
[* Not according to 1 Cor. 10: 1-11. ]
Our faith in this testimony of Christ’s return, and of His [millennial] kingdom in resurrection with Him, is to nerve us for trials by the way. Specially if we have already in former years suffered for the faith. “Cast not away, therefore, your confidence which hath great reward. For ye have need of patience, that after ye, have done the will of God, ye may receive the promise. ‘For yet a very little while, and the coming One will arrive, and will not tarry. Now the just by faith shall five; but if he draw back, my soul hath no pleasure in him.’ But we are not of those who draw back unto destruction, but (men) of faith to the saving of the soul:” Heb. 10: 32-39. (Greek.)
Thus, all is suspended on the Saviour’s coming: for then is the [millennial] kingdom, then the reward of the confidence of faith, which has dared all things to obtain the glory. ‘The just by faith shall attain life.’ But he may draw back. The addition, ‘If any man,’ is very unwarranted. It deprives the passage of its chief force. One great aim of the epistle is to prove the possible loss of the [millennial] kingdom by the converted. Those in whom God has no pleasure cannot be of those “accounted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from among the dead.”
Here, then, we see our calling, and its hope. We are justified by faith; we are looking for a life to come; a life in resurrection-bodies, to be brought to us by Jesus descending from the heaven. Therefore earth is not our portion; nor is it to be sought by us. The hope which you, 0 Christian, should cherish, the world [and the vast majority of the regenerate] does not accept. And your conduct as called forth by this hope exposes you to dislike, ridicule, loss. But your hope is to be to you an anchor of the soul, to steady you against this current of unbelief, these beating waves of ungodliness. Keep the [millennial] glory in view; and the reigning with Christ hereafter, under condition of our suffering with Him now. Therefore persevere in faith and hope of the Saviour’s return. What sustained Columbus, the great discoverer of a new world? Many were the rebuffs he met, before any attention was given to his pleas. Nor when at length his little craft was floated, were his trials over. The more he neared his object, the greater amount of resistance he encountered from the unbelief of those on board. He was almost turned back in disgrace upon the very threshold of success. But his confidence in the certainty of his arguments failed not, and great was his reward. What was his ground of hope compared with ours? What his joy and reward, when at length his courage, zeal, and perseverance were rewarded, compared with our recompense?
Our belief of the kingdom to come rests upon the promise of a
God that raises the dead, and will glorify His Son therein. Let us, then, seek to serve a better
* * * * * * *
CHAPTER 7.[Pages 92-99]
Paul, by the Spirit, assures us that the history of
Now in that history, the miracles of giving water to the host, and of bestowing quails, occur twice. But great instruction accrues to us from a due consideration of the differences in God’s acting on those two occasions. Let us note them.
2. They come to Rephidim,
and there is no water. Again the people
break out into evil words. They demand
water of Moses; “Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of
They then arrive at Sinai, and the Most High [page 93] proposes to them that they should hence-forward be dealt with as they deserved. If they were obedient, they should be chief of the nations; priests and kings. They assent to the proposal, and on this basis a covenant is made between them and Jehovah.
3. They leave Sinai, and the people murmur. Now the fire of the Lord burns and consumes the people that are in the outskirts of the camp. It needs the mediator’s prayer now to quench the fire. The place is named ‘BURNING.’ We saw the grace of God under the first murmurings; it is justice now.
4. The people, dissatisfied, desire flesh, and God
promises it for a full month. He brings
the quails in hosts, and the people kill and eat. But He smites them with a very great
plague. The place is named Kibroth Hataavah – ‘the
5. At Kadesh, water anew fails the people. They chide with Moses and Aaron once again, as though they were the authors of the trouble. Their leaders appeal to the Lord, and the glory of Jehovah appears to them. Moses was to gather the assembly, and speak to the rock with the rod in his hand. But now Moses himself fails. He says to the people, “Hear now, ye rebels, must we bring you water out of the cliff?”* He smites the cliff, instead of speaking to it. Water is indeed given, and that abundantly; but Moses and Aaron themselves are now shut out from the land: Num. 20.
[* ‘Cliff.’ A different word is now used, betokening a different object.]
Here then is an illustration of things yet to be. This is the day of grace, “the accepted time.” And God is bearing with all His people’s infirmities and provocations, on the ground of Jesus’ priesthood and sacrifice. He is calling them to obedience and to good works, as those made alive in Christ, as sons who are to display the character of their Father.
But He assures us also, that, whether we like it or not, a day of another kind, a day of justice, in order to [page 94] measure out to each his desert, is at hand. Take some passages in proof.
The Pharisees, refuted by our Lord on the Sabbath question, seek to slay Him. But He says nought, He does nought against them. ’Tis the day of God’s patience: 2 Peter, 3: 9, 15; Rom. 9: 22. Accordingly, Jesus fulfils the word of the prophet. “Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved in whom my soul is well pleased. … A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth justice into victory:” Matt. 12: 18-20. Here we have a view of both the days: (1) Of God’s long suffiering, while He waits to see if man will repent; and then (2) of another day, when justice takes its turn, and overwhelms in destruction the ungodly.
Paul, presenting God as the righteous judge, about to deal with each according to his works, says to one offending during the time of grace
“Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness, and
forbearance, and long-suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth
thee to repentance?”
God is now in character just, though manifesting mercy; but the day to come is the day of the revelation of his just judgment. And then He will render to both believer and unbeliever according to their works.
This is witnessed alike by the Old Testament and by the New.
I. From the Old Testament take this testimony.
“Give the king thy judgments, 0 God, and thy righteousness unto the king’s son. He shall judge thy people with righteousness, and thy poor with judgment. The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills by righteousness. He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor:” Psa. 72: 1-4.
“But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins:” Isa. 11: 4, 5.
[Page 95] “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare
the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his
temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: Behold, he
shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. But
who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall
stand when he appeareth? for He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s
soap: And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify
the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto
the Lord an offering in righteousness.
Then shall the offering of
The last book of scripture, while it calls the saints of the churches to be patient while God is long-suffering, yet testifies that the day is coming, when Jesus and His faithful ones shall have power over the nations. Then He, who now will not break the bruised reed, shall sway the sceptre of iron, breaking the sinner, as potter’s, ware is broken by steel: Rev. 2: 26, 27. Accordingly, when heaven opens, He comes forth as King of kings to judge, and to war. And the result is the destruction at Armageddon of all earth’s armies Rev. 19.
The PRINCIPLE on which justice, in the coming day will be ministered, is “TO EACH ACCORDING TO HIS WORKS.”
1. Such were some of our Lord’s words preparatory to the exhibition, to certain favoured disciples, of the glory of His millennial kingdom on the mount of transfiguration.
“For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works:” Matt. 16: 27.
2. Such is the [Holy] Spirit’s statement by Paul to the Church at
3. To the church at Thyatira Jesus says-
“And I will kill her children with death: and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works:” Rev. 2: 23.
4. Lastly, His closing word is; Rev. 22: 12, “Behold I come quickly, and my reward is with me to give to each according as his work shall be."
The Lord Jesus, then, will award to the deeds of each believer according to their quality, as good or evil; as more or less excellent. While the cup of cold water shall not miss its reward, the reception of a righteous man as such will receive a greater recompense; and the reception of a prophet as such, a still higher one. The owning of Jesus now, or the neglecting so to do, will be followed by answerable results: Matt. 10: 32-42. But many in our day are putting aside the Gospels as ‘Jewish.’ We must show, then, that the Epistles teach the same truth. (1) Each must receive from Christ, the judge, according to what he did by means of his body; whether the works, and the answerable recompence, be good or evil: 2 Cor. 5: 10. (2) The abundant sower shall reap a full harvest, the sparing sower, a thin one: 9: 6; Gal. 5: 7-10. (3) The doer of wrong shall receive for the wrong: for God accepts not faces: Col. 3: 25.
The passages just cited, prove also that each will receive for
his works in proportion to their quantity, as few or many. “Each shall receive his own
reward, according to his own labour:” 1 Cor. 3: 8.
To the diligent worker the entrance into the eternal kingdom shall be
abundantly ministered: 2 Peter 1. Without good works none shall enter the kingdom: Matt. 7: 21.
To the penitent robber, Jesus promises [page 97] present entrance on
The principle of the law of Moses was justice: the principle of perfection now is mercy, after the example of the mercy of our Father in heaven: Matt. 5: 38-48; James 2: 12; 2 Tim. 1: 16-18.
Now is the time to suffer for Christ and His truth: Rev. 2: 10; Acts 14: 22; Matt. 20: 20; Rev. 3: 8, 10; Matt. 19: 27-29. The highest surrender that can be called for, is that of life: Matt. 16: 25, 26; John 12: 25. But this shall be especially requited in that day of the first and blest resurrection; insomuch that Paul, as the perfect man, desired to give up life for Christ, if by such means he might attain the first resurrection: Phil. 3: 10, 11; Rev. 2: 4-6.
From this principle will result different degrees in glory; according to the different positions, abilities, opportunities, zeal, diligence, holiness, and length of life of each: 1 Cor. 3: 8; Luke 15: 1-43; 2 Cor. 9: 6; Luke 19: 16-19; Eph. 6: 5-9; Col. 3: 22-25.
See then, Christians! God is noticing the work of each; and “He becomes the Recompenser of those who diligently seek Him:” Heb. 11: 6. The labourers on His domain shall be one day assembled, when the harvest-home is complete; and both sowers and reapers shall rejoice together: John 4: 36.
1. The principle, for which we contend, is shown in Enoch. He stood on God’s side, a witness against the [page 98] world, a witness of the coming woe. He pleased God, walking with Him as the man of faith. Therefore He was not left to pass through the flood of judgment: he was taken to heaven ere it came. To us it is commanded so to walk and to watch; and a promise is left, that if so, we shall escape the terrors of the coming “day of the Lord,” and be set before “the Son of Man,” the king of the kingdom in that day: Luke 21: 36; Rev. 3: 10.
2. Moses is offered to us as a second example. He was urged by faith to look for reward from God, surrendering the pleasures of the worldly. The Lord commends him for it. He was set before Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. “Moses had respect unto the recompense of reward;” as we also are called to do Heb. 11: 24-26.
3. Lest we should hesitate at following the examples, even of these great ones of old, the Saviour Himself is presented as the third and crowning instance. “For the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of God:” Heb. 11: 2. Some indeed fancy, that the idea of reward is unworthy, and ‘mercenary.’ Jesus did not think so: He would urge sons of God to seek reward, for it is to come from a Father’s hand. “Thy Father which seeth in secret, himself shall reward thee openly:” Matt. 5: 4, 6.
Keep then, 0 believer, from every evil work! For the day of the discovery of all things hidden is at hand; yea, the day of requital for each: 1 Cor. 3: 16; Gal. 5., 6.; Col. 3: 25.
Beware of losing reward by falling back from first zeal and works: 2 John, 7, 8; Rev. 3: 11. We must persevere even to the end, if we would have the soul of God take pleasure in us: Heb. 10: 32-39.
Now is the time of working in the vineyard of the Lord: hereafter are to come the rest, and the wages. Now is the time of battle; by and bye the victory will arrive, and the crowns for the valiant.
Great were Paul’s losses for our Lord; complete his [page 99] rejection by the world; heavy was the work of the apostleship; sore the trials and sufferings he underwent from both the world and the church. His day closes with the dark dungeon, and the edge of the sword. But great shall be his reward! “The crown of righteousness” shall be awarded to this mighty wrestler, by the Great Master of the games. The suffering shall look light both to him and to us, when poised against the weight of glory attached.
Let us tread then in Paul’s steps of service, suffering, and loss! The race and its crown are open to us also. Happiest shall they be in the hour of the Lord’s appearing, who for Him have done, suffered, surrendered most! May I add, that it is said that Sadduceeism began of old, by the denial of reward?
* * * * * * *
CHAPTER 8. [Pages 100-122]
SEEK THE KINGDOM!
It were a great thing to have seen
But to us is granted the better hope of beholding and dwelling
in the city of
Our subject in this chapter is the duty and privilege of SEEKING THE KINGDOM OF GOD.
I. What kingdom is it we are to seek?
The kingdom of grace! Nay, we axe in it already, as disciples: Col. 1: 13. As yet it is the kingdom in mystery only: it is concealed; for the king on whose power depends its manifestation, is away.
We are to seek the future kingdom, the kingdom in
manifestation, the kingdom of
glory. For that, Daniel, the witness
of its futurity, is waiting: Dan. 11: 13. Daniel was made witness of the
The call by John Baptist and by Jesus in God’s appointed time
referred to these prophecies. “The kingdom of heaven hath
drawn near!” All expected
thereupon the fulfilment of Dan. 2: 44!
‘Now is the [page 101] God
of heaven about to break in pieces all
other kingdoms, setting up His own alone.’ Moreover, signs of
power supernatural burst forth in the ministry of Jesus. All eyes and ears were attent on the
realization of the promises of the prophets.
But for these blessings
“SEEK YE FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD and his righteousness,
and all these things shall be added to you:” Matt. 6: 33.
It is at present only the kingdom in mystery, for it is the time of God’s grace. And hence Satan is at large, and deceives the whole earth, and troubles and persecutes the saints. The world and the flesh are [page 102] against them, and the life of the holy is one of warfare. But then flesh and blood will be put off; the world will be subdued, and kept under by justice, and the devil be cast into the pit.
But what mean the words- “Seek his righteousness?”
1. They do not mean imputed righteousness. That was needed to present acceptance; and the hearers possessed imputed righteousness already, as disciples of Jesus. Nor was the Saviour exhibiting Himself, in the Sermon on the Mount, as the righteousness of the believer. But He was teaching those who would listen, the principles which were to guide their conduct, if they would enter the millennial kingdom. So in other passages of Matthew it has the same active sense.
“Thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.”
“Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Obedience also is directly stated as the condition of entering it. Who shall have part in it? “He that doeth the will of my Father who is in. heaven:” 7: 21.
So Peter speaks of those who fear God, and “work righteousness:” Acts 10: 35. So Paul. Through faith the worthies of old “wrought righteousness:” Heb. 11: 33. Also 2 Cor. 9: 9, 10; Phil. 2: 6.
New principles of far greater height and depth than the old ones of the Law are in the Sermon on the Mount disclosed by Jesus. They were God’s words put into his mouth. While they were “sayings of mine,” as he says; they were still “the will of his Father in heaven.”
Thus obedience to Jesus’ novel principles and precepts is the
means and the way; and the kingdom of glory is the bright end set before
us. The precepts are so lofty and so
difficult beyond those of the Law, because the way is now opened to a higher and
more glorious department of the kingdom than was known to
The kingdom Jesus directs us to seek.
It is not,
then, ours at once on faith. But some
think, that other things are to have their first attention. Nay – “Seek first the
Are you anxious, 0 disciple, for meat
and clothing? Nay, but “Rather seek ye the
This lesson is the great practical one which our Lord would teach disciples by the Sermon on the Mount.
“Blessed the poor in spirit; for theirs is the (future) kingdom of heaven.” And so it is said
when that kingdom comes – “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection, on such the second death hath no power,
but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” It is the kingdom of
the Christ as well as the
To observe the precepts of the Saviour is impossible to flesh and blood; difficult even to those renewed by God. But tread this path: it is the way to the reward of God in His kingdom! Matt. 5: 43-48. Do good works for the eye, not of men, but of your Father in heaven! Foolish are they who seek and find their recompense now: Matt. 6: 1-18. Seek glory from your Father, 0 ye sons of God! This did the Redeemer - the hope of this sustained Him amidst His endurance for our sakes. “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” Far from jealously guarding His dignity as the Son of God, He stooped to take the place of the subject and of the offender, dying even on the cross of the slave and the felon. “WHEREFORE God also hath highly exalted Him, [page 104] and given Him a name that is above every name:” Phil. 2: 5-10; Heb. 12: 2. “But unto the Son He saith, Thy throne, 0 God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou lovedst righteousness and hatedst iniquity; THEREFORE 0 God, thy God anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows:” Heb. 1: 8, 9.
Note again the Saviour’s words in Matthew 11.
He there gives praise to John the Baptist before the multitudes of
Some suppose Jesus to mean, that every believer in this Gospel dispensation is greater than John, because greater privileges are his. But that is not the meaning of the words; nor can it be sustained in fact. What is the meaning of “greater?” It does not refer to inward and invisible privileges before God. Jesus is speaking, not to disciples, but to the multitudes, ver. 7. Now greatness to them, and specially greatness in a kingdom means, height of honour and estimation before men, and extent of influence and power over others. The ruler over ten cities is greater than the ruler over five: Matt. 5: 35; 20: 25; John 4: 12; 8: 53; 13: 16. The earthquake is great which wrecks one city; but that which wrecks fifty is a greater earthquake still. The kingdom in mystery is not the time for greatness. Greatness now is evil, as we see in our Lord’s parable of the Mustard Seed; and in Paul’s rebuke of Corinthian believers, who sought to rule in this day: 1 Cor. 4.
Jesus is really comparing greatness in this day of man with
greatness. in the day of God; greatness in the kingdoms of men with greatness in God’s
future [page 105] millennial kingdom. John might be high in estimation among them, and great
in his influence over the mass of
‘Does it mean, then, that John would himself be excluded from the millennial kingdom?’ By no means! Jesus is comparing John’s greatness with that of the great who have preceded him. But the Lord says nought about John’s ejection in that day. Nay, rather, as a martyr for Christ he must enter the kingdom; as Revelation 20: 4-6 shows.
then, in these words is heightening the ideas of
Thereupon our Lord proceeds to hint His approval of an earnest
seeking to enter that kinadom. “Now from the days of John the Baptist the kingdom
of heaven is suffering violence, and violent ones are carrying it off by force.” (Greek.) This
presents to us the strong desire felt by multitudes of that day to obtain part
in the proffered glory. They were like
soldiers who have taken a city by storm, and are each seizing and carrying away
whatever jewels, or gold, or other valuables come first to hand. This was well. But amidst all this stir and healthful
excitement arising from faith in God’s word, there was a class - the learned
That this is the true view, we may see from Paul’s words. He was one of the violent ones, whose soul was stirred within him to attain this kingdom. Hence he compares himself with the wrestlers and racers in the Grecian games of old. They were patient, self-denying, zealous to win the race, and the prize. He was like them. He would encourage his brethren to do the like. “Know ye not that they which run in a race run, all but one (only) receiveth the prize. So run, that ye may obtain! Now every one that wrestleth is temperate in all things: they, indeed, that they may obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly: so box I, not as one scourging the air; but I keep under my body, and lead it captive; lest after having acted as the herald to others, I myself should become rejected:” 1 Cor. 9: 24-27. (Greek.) Rejected from what? From salvation, and eternal life? Nay, but from the millennial kingdom, and its joys! That was the prize at which he aimed; that the glory which he feared to lose. But at last he is certain of the reward. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord the Righteous Judge shall give me in that day; but not only to me, but unto them also that have loved His appearing:” 2 Tim. 4: 7, 8.
Confirmatory of this is the passage of
Malachi to [page 107] which Jesus refers in proof of John’s
greatness. After the prophet has spoken
of the messenger who is to precede the Lord, he adds, that Jehovah Himself will
suddenly come to His temple. But who
would be able to stand before His eyes of fire, His hands of power, in that day
of justice? He,
would come as the worker in metals to cast away the dross, and to glorify the
silver. He would restore to their place
and priest-hood the sons of Levi. And
Great is it, to be doing and suffering, and to be judged by men in this evil day, even as John Baptist was. But greater far to be reigning with Christ in the good day, beyond death in resurrection. Great was it, to be allowed to call sinners to repentance, and the kingdom. But greater far to put down evil for ever, and to encourage good, and see it prosper all over the earth. Great is it, to sow in God’s field; but greater far shall it be to gather in the sheaves! Great, to work in the vineyard of God - but far greater when [page 108] the labourers shall drink new wine together in the kingdom of their Father. Great was it to be Christ’s forerunner; but greater far to be fellow-kings with Him! Great, to prepare the way for His advent; but greater far to join in His march of victory! Great, was John’s birth of the barren woman; but ever glorious will be his birth from Hadees the mighty, clad with the glories of immortality!
Let us confirm this by a view of Paul’s attitude in Phil. 2: 8-16. The apostle rejects
the righteousness he wrought himself while under law, and accepts with
gratitude the righteousness wrought by Christ, presented by the Father, to be
the clothing of each believer. He calls
it – “the
righteousness which is from God upon faith:” (Greek) ver. 9. But though he accepted this as a gift, at the outset of his Christian
career, there was yet something set before, him as a prize. He desired to know the power of Jesus’ resurrection,
and to suffer with Christ now, even to the endurance of martyrdom – “if by any means I may attain unto the (select) resurrection from
among the dead.” (Greek.) To obtain
a part in the resurrection of the dead after the thousand years demands no faith at all. The wicked will receive that. It
could, therefore, be no object of his desire. But to obtain a place in the first and blest resurrection, this he might
well covet. And tribulation is God’s appointed way thereto. “Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to
continue in the faith, and that we must resist through many tribulations (plur.) enter the
What kingdom was that? The Gospel? Nay, the disciples were in that already. The Church? They were there also. It can only mean then, the future millennial kingdom of glory; which answers to the select resurrection from the dead in Philippians.
Paul continues – “Not as though I had already attained, or were already perfect; but I follow after if that I may apprehend (lay hold of) that for which also I was apprehended (laid hold of) by Christ. Brethren, [page 109] I count not myself to have apprehended,” - though all others did believe it of him - “but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching after those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high (or heavenly) calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
Jesus had invited Paul, as He does us, “to His kingdom and glory:” 1 Thess. 2: 12.
He was arrested by Christ on the way to
But lest we should think, that this prize is destined only for the magnates of the church, such as apostles and prophets; the Holy Spirit adds- “Let us, therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.”
In this passage, then, the Christian is not instructed to sit still, because all is done for him. ‘Nay, but, 0 believer, distinguish between gift and prize. Being justified, you start upon a race for the crown of God. Gird yourself, and run! The crown will repay all effort! Be likeminded with Paul. Yea, with Christ Himself!’
[Page 110] For Paul has in this same epistle discovered the Saviour in His humiliation, the Saviour as exalted because of His wondrous career, already, and hereafter to be elevated above all in His coming kingdom.
Walk in humility and obedience! Lowly stoop, and you shall highly rise!
What was the Saviour’s teaching while on earth? Luke 14: 7-11.
“And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them. When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou he bidden of him; and he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, ‘Give this man place;’ and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, ‘Friend, go up higher:’ then shalt thou have worship (glory) in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
In these words Jesus is by means of a figure instructing His
disciples in the way to attain glory in the kingdom to come. His teaching is just contrary to that of
nature, and of sense: Matt. 22: 5-7. The guests in Jesus’ day were each
seeking to have the highest and first places.
Each seized on the highest he could. But this was the way, not to
honour, but to shame before the guests, if any one of a superior rank or
estimation in the opinion of the master of the feast, happened to enter. This, then, indicates to us our course of
action. While other Christians
may be pressing for the loftiest places in the church now, let us not do so. Let us take the lowest room. God has servants far more valuable than we; greater in knowledge, love,
service, devoutness, devotedness, prayer, liberality, and other graces. The places we take and hold now are not those
which are to abide. The guests of God
may range themselves at the table as they please; but it is the Master who is
about to enter, who will really assign us our suited seat. If,
then, we have taken up a position too high we shall be degraded [page 111] before
the assembled guests. But if we have placed ourselves in a seat below our due, the Master will
direct us to go up higher; and so shall we win glory before the whole assembly
Moreover, Jesus draws from the feast-scene before Him another lesson: ver. 12-14.
“Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. But when thou makest a feast call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: and thou shalt he blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.”
Jesus beheld before Him a table such as natural beneficence could spread. But He would testify to us of one which His disciples should exhibit, in contrast to the ways of the world. Nature invites friends, relatives, the rich, and the great, if possible. But the man of grace instructed by the Redeemer should invite those whom nature would despise. These cannot, like the other classes, make Him any return. He must wait till the kingdom come; but blessed is such a position, for God shall reward! “Thou shalt be blessed, for they cannot recompense thee; but thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just,” or in the kingdom of the thousand years. How is it, that this teaching of the Lord Jesus, illuminated by the blest picture at the close, has been so overlooked by Christians? Have we too many good works?
With one other exhortation, that derived from Heb. 3., 4. I will conclude this chapter.
Paul brings the history of God’s ancient people to bear upon
His later one. He affirms the close
relations of resemblance between Christians and
Jesus is to be regarded by us as our Leader, no less than our High Priest. He
answers to Moses, no less than to Aaron.
Now God was pleased, at the set time fixed, to come down out of heaven
to earth; and [page 112] out of the bush in Sinai to call to
Moses. He sent him to
At length they come to the borders of the land of promise, and
Jehovah bids them go up, and possess it.
But they propose to send spies, who shall bring them intelligence; and
twelve spies are sent, bringing back the report – “We came unto the land
whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with
milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it.” It was a marvellous
bunch of grapes, borne between two upon a staff; also they brought
pomegranates, and figs: Num. 13. But there were difficulties in the way. The people of the land were numerous and
warlike; the cities walled and fortified; and there were the giants, in whose
sight they were as pigmies. This had a
strongly discouraging effect upon the tribes; but Caleb, one of the spies,
exhorts them to go up at once, and inherit it.
His fellows, however, the remaining ten, maintained [page 113] their inability
to invade it with any good hope. Moses
exhorts them – ‘Do not dread the nations,
their God would give them the victory, as He had done in
But this exhortation ran so counter to the people’s feelings,
that these God’s two witnesses would have been stoned, had not God’s glory
appeared on the tabernacle. Great is His
indignation, and He proposes to cut off the whole nation; but to make of Moses’
family a greater people than the twelve tribes.
Moses intercedes for them, and begs that they may be pardoned. The Lord does pardon, at the voice of the Mediator; but by oath He
excludes them from the land: Num. 14: 20-24.
Only Caleb and Joshua should enter.
As for them, their carcases should fall in the wilderness, because they
had provoked Him so oft, in spite of His many miracles on their behalf. Now ensues a revulsion
of feeling on their part. They mourn
greatly. Rather than be condemned to
forty years’ sojourn in the wilderness, they will go up and fight. Moses warns them that they went up without
the Lord: the ark was not with them. But
they will go up in the presumptuousness of unbelief; and are speedily driven
back, perishing, as God had said, in the wilderness. Now this is the history, and these its
salient points, which the apostle in Hebrews 3., 4., [page 114] brings into notice as present instruction for the
Jesus is now our leader,* as Moses was leader of
* It should be “who is faithful,” Heb. 3: 2. Jesus became in resurrection and ascension the leader of the heavenly calling, and this his office abides still. Thus the Vulgate, Alford, Craik, etc.
But what is the house of God now, if it be not the ancient one? “Whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.”
The hope which Moses as
The first love and hope of the Saviour’s Jewish churches were very fervent and strong. Paul recalls to them the memory of their early feelings: Heb. 6: 10; 10: 32.
But the Lord came not so early as they hoped. Their faith and love grew dim, as the days lengthened, and the wickedness of their countrymen exhibited itself in persecution of Christians even unto death. Once they were like triumphant Moses and Miriam, [page 115] full of bold profession of their hope of Jesus’ return and kingdom. But their love lowered continually, till now in place of witnessing it to others, it was dying out in their own bosoms. But this was evil. It was a hope to be held fast all through “the evil day,” till the Lord came, and fulfilled in resurrection glory His pledges to them.
On these circumstances
the 95th Psalm in its hopes and its warnings bore in full force.
God is trying His people now, as of old He tried
Against this what is to be done? ‘Exhort one another, as Caleb, and Joshua did
in their day. Great, Christian, is your danger of losing
this hope, and of departing in heart from your leader, Jesus the living
God. As soon as the hope of entry into the land was quenched in the heart of
There is a hardening consequently against God’s calls, both of
promise and of threatening. ‘Go up,’ said God. But they would not: they would not credit His
ability to introduce them. They refuse
the testimony of the faithful witnesses, Caleb and Joshua. They murmur among themselves;
they encourage each [page 116] other
in evil, till they weep together in unbelief.
Then they speak against God; and rise, bent even on murdering His
faithful spies. Far from receiving the
warning of the trusty spies, they burst out into fierceness of wrath. A fatal sign!
Just like this is the state of things now. Many are utterly unbelieving about any future kingdom of miracle and of resurrection, to be set up by Jesus at His return. And of those who retain that belief many are provoking God, and hardening their hearts against the testimony of His true-hearted ones. They refuse to believe God’s threatenings against His people’s partial unbelief, and disobedience. They get rid of any threat levelled by God against hardness of heart and disobedience, by the cry – ‘That's Jewish! It does not refer to us. We are the members of Christ, the bride of Christ; we are above commands, and beyond responsibility!’
The Holy Spirit foresaw this; and has in this passage furnished the antidote thereto. By the whole tenor of the appeal, its conditionality appears. “Whose house are we, IF we hold fast the confidence.” “We became associates* of the Christ IF we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.” Here Paul (or the inspired believer, who wrote this epistle) places himself on the same level with those he warns. “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief. Exhort one another ... lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” Let not, then, a view of your privileges harden you, oh believers! Eternal life, through grace, you cannot lose: [page 117] but your being associates of Christ in the millennial kingdom of His glory depends on your not giving up this hope, and not provoking the Lord.
* A reference back to 1: 8, 9. We are Jesus’ “fellows” of Psalm 45, under condition of persevering in right hopes and profession to the end.
This is the force of the appeal in Heb. 3: 15-19.
You will say – ‘Ah! that
does not apply to us.
* Verse 16 should be read as a question, as critics generally are agreed, and as the two following verses show.
** So it should be translated. The word is a different one from that for ‘unbelief.’
Yes! it was the partial unbelief of believers! Twice does Moses record their faith, at his first propounding to them their
hope; and when the sea had overwhelmed their foes. By faith they kept the passover. By
faith they passed through the
Sentiments sustained by so clear and legible results of fact, are not to be set aside without hardening the heart, and provoking God. “Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should think he has come too late for it.”* Here the inspired writer or apostle takes the same level with the rest of the saints. Some deem ‘fear’ a [page 118] temper quite unsuited to the child of God. They have outrun the New Testament then, Luke 12: 4, 5; Col. 3: 22; 1 Pet. 2: 17; Acts 5: 5, 11; 9: 31; 2 Cor. 7: 1, etc. The fear which we are to retain is the fear of losing God’s rest. Now this rest might be lost through the reception of a special error. ‘God’s rest! But is not that something over, and done with ages ago?’ The objection is natural enough; therefore the Holy Spirit sets Himself to discover to us the sense of the expression, ‘the rest of God,’ and to prove the futurity of it.
* See Greek. This is the translation of several eminent critics. It is clearly the proposition which the apostle sets himself to refute, as is proved by what follows.
The same promise is borne to us that was offered to those of
old; “but the
word of the report* did not profit them, not being mixed with
faith in them that heard it.” The reference here is to the
report given of the land, first by God to Moses, and then by the twelve spies
* See Greek.
“But we believers are entering into that rest - as He said – ‘So I sware in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest.’” Since unbelievers are excluded from that rest, believers are on their way to it. Faith sets us at the starting-post, to run the race for the kingdom; of which it is said – “And his rest shall be glory:” Isa. 11.
‘But how can we enter! into God’s rest? For it was finished ages on ages ago. The Most High, after His six days’ work, rested on the seventh. How then can we have part in what has passed away?’
It is true, that the Holy Spirit speaks thus of a past [page 119] rest.
But, in His saying also-, ‘If they shall enter into my rest’ - He speaks of a time of repose, yet future. Now since the Lord’s promise cannot wholly
fail, and some must enjoy with God that future day of consolation; while those
first invited were rejected because of disobedience, it follows that there is a
future rest to be enjoyed by the men of the obedience of faith. It is
the Lord’s to define for how long the period of trial, which precedes
the day of rest, shall be prolonged.
It is for Him to say how long the
‘To-day’ of his call to
obedience shall last, and when the day of rest shall
begin. But by His calling the men of David’s day to
seek to enter that rest, and to beware of provoking Him by disobedience, He
made it plain, that no previous word concerning ‘rest’ had fulfilled His intention.
Or else some of the Hebrews could have interposed a fatal objection to
the argument. The ‘rest’ which God promised, was that which
was enjoyed by those who entered the land with Joshua. After years of war, the victories of Joshua
brought peace. “And the land had rest from
war:” Josh. 14: 15. But no! God in this Psalm of David is
defining the day of labour which is to precede the day
of rest. And He speaks of that day of labour as
still going on; and of ourselves, therefore, as met by
the invitation, and open to the warnings, of the psalm. If the day of labour and of God’s testing
His people be yet incomplete, of course the day of rest which is to requite
their labour and their obedience, has never yet come. It
is, therefore, still ‘to-day;’
the day when messengers are going out to find guests for the marriage-feast of
the king’s son. This day is the day of labour;
“that day” is the day of rest. This day is man’s day of evil:
but Paul looked to the Righteous Judge to award him the prize “IN THAT DAY.” We are still in the wilderness. While then God gave to Joshua and his forces
a type of that rest, it was not more than the, shadow of what Jehovah
designed. When once the day of rest is
come, the day of warning and trial will have ceased, to appear no [page 120] more.
But such was not the case after Joshua’s day. God holds David’s time and this to be one
unbroken “To-day” of the same moral quality; and the
same obedience which He looked for from
“There remaineth, therefore, a sabbath-rest for the people of God.”
This assures us, then, that while the original sabbath rest of Jehovah has long been past, and His rest of soul in creation has long been broken, yet that not in vain was that sabbath spoken of as God’s rest. For a thousand years with the Lord are one day. And as God wrought in creation six days, resting the seventh, so, when the fall came in, the Lord began to work anew in redemption, in order to bring in a better, more secure, and lasting rest, which is to take effect in the last seven thousand years of our world. That is the true sabbath-rest, to which our God is calling us. None, so far as we know, were associates with the Most High in His first sabbath-joy. But He will have multitudes untold, who will enjoy rest with Him in His millennial rest.
Who are to partake of it? “The people of God.” Who are they? We should be apt to limit it to the Church. But the Holy Ghost owns the servants of Jehovah in the New Testament, no less than the sons of God now. Together they make up “the house of God.” In that Moses had a place as a servant, as well as Christ as a Son. The worthies of the old covenant were men of faith; but they are awaiting the fulfilment of the promises given. And “God has provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect” 11: 39. See also Matt. 2: 6; Heb. 8: 10; 1 Pet. 2: 10; Heb. 10: 21; 11: 25; 1 Tim. 3: 15; 1 Pet. 4: 17; 2: 10.
Verse 10 then takes up the word “sabbath-rest.” In a certain sense
rest is enjoyed at present. Jesus our
leader, (in this unlike Moses,) so perfectly finished His work, that His Father
can rest in redemption work [page 121] accomplished,
more truly - and fully than when, after the six days’ work He felt satisfaction
in creation accomplished. Moses in a
certain sense entered into rest after leading
“Let us labour, then, to enter into that rest, lest any fall by the same example of disobedience.”
All believers enjoy, or may enjoy, present rest from their own
works for justification, through the finished work of Christ. But all ought to be seeking by the obedience
of faith for the future rest, which the apostle has set before our eyes. It is
worthy our highest, our most sustained efforts. A thousand years of glory and bliss with
Christ! A thousand years to be blessed
and holy, the priests of God and the Christ, reigning jointly with the Son! For this Paul sought with his best vehemence,
with his most assiduous endeavours. Be not cast down by difficulties!
But be not presumptuously confident!
Where Paul could not speak confidently till toward the close of his
career, how should you? Loud is the call
to circumspection. Beholding in the
Yes! let us so seek as to win! For God’s word is no ‘dead letter.’ He Himself who is Life gives it power and keenness of edge against the soul of man. It detects, in the Holy Spirit’s hand, our spiritual state and motives, no less than our acts. May both motives and acts be acceptable before the Lord!
* * * * * * *
CHAPTER 9 [Pages 123-134]
BAPTISM AND THE KINGDOM.
The Lord has been pleased to testify to us both concerning eternal
life and the millennial
kingdom. Baptism is in close connexion
with both; but it is my intention now especially to treat of its connexion with
Great were the effects of this proclamation throughout [page 124] the land. A new dispensation of promise had opened; and they were eager to realize its glories - like soldiers ready to burst with sword, axe, and crowbar, through impediments, in order to plunder a palace of wealth which has suddenly offered itself to them: Matt. 11: 11-13; Luke 16: 16. Multitudes were aroused to desire a part in the promises of the prophets: they gladly accepted the prescribed washing, which told of their entrance into the preferred kingdom. But there were two classes who refused this message of God. The Pharisees disliked its doctrine of universal sinfulness: and rejected the bathing which was its token. The Sadducees disliked its prophetic part; and they also stood aloof from the rite which spoke acceptance of the testimony.
But Jesus, though sinless, accepted His Father’s message as an
Israelite; and submitted to the baptism commanded, as a part of his
obedience. Heaven opened, the Father
announced him as his Son; the [Holy] Spirit descended to anoint him as king. David was anointed by Samuel with oil: the
Son of David, with the [Holy] Spirit from on high, Jesus overcomes, in a battle
without sling or stone, the great Goliath, who proved too much for Adam, for
Jesus, at the last Supper, discovers to the disciples the
limit of the time during which faith is to be patient. They were to celebrate His death in the
drinking of wine; which should represent His blood, up to the time of His
return. For then He would Himself drink
of wine as the literal produce of the vine,
together with them new in the kingdom of the Father: Matt. 26: 29; Mark 14: 25.
Taking leave of them, He bids them make disciples out of all nations, immersing them into the name of the Father, the
Son, and the Holy Ghost. Why? Because the doctrine of the future kingdom
of glory was still to be heralded by apostles; and baptism was still the sign
of God’s cleansing of sinners, and of man’s acceptance of the tidings. The
parable of the Wedding Garment shows, that the same message in the main is to
be borne by the servants after bidden
The Saviour ascends: the Holy Ghost comes down from
above. Does the Spirit drop all mention
of the [page 126] kingdom? By no means!
Peter takes occasion from the baptism of the Spirit, visible in the
tongues of fire, audible in the sound of new languages, to assure Israelites,
that this was the blessing foretold by Joel in his second chapter. Let us look, then, at what precedes and
follows the text of Joel cited by Peter.* Jehovah promises, if
* Joel 1 and 2, chiefly describe the day of wrath which precedes the kingdom, in order to cut off God’s living foes.
Peter quotes also the 110th Psalm, which likewise speaks of Christ’s
millennial kingdom, as a look at it will prove.
But the point in this first sermon which bears most upon our subject is
this: David “therefore
being a prophet, and knowing that God sware with an oath to him that of the fruit
of his loins* ... one should sit on His throne, He seeing this before spake of
the resurrection of the Christ, that his
soul was not left in hell, (Hadees) nor did His flesh see
corruption.” [Page 127] Jesus, then, is the Messiah, elevated to God’s right
hand as the priest, and about to
come forth to
* The omitted words are generally rejected by the critics, as not genuine. The omission of them disturbs not the sense.
To persevere in this course would be destruction, as the Lord
threatened, when he made the promise.
What then was to be done? They
were to repent and turn to God, in order that the vast pile of their national
and personal sins might be swept away. Only then could the long-promised season
of refreshing come. Only then would
Jesus descend from the heaven to which God had elevated Him, and introduce the
restoration of those blessings, of which tokens had been given in the earlier
history of Adam, and of
After the church at
Peter is sent to the Gentiles. By the vision of the sheet he is instructed concerning God’s election from among them, and the heavenly abode hereafter to be theirs. While he preaches to Cornelius and his friends, the baptism of the Spirit is granted to the Gentiles, and he commands them to be immersed Acts 10.
But another apostle is raised up, especial witness of the Day of Mystery, of the heavenly calling, and of the church, the heavenly body of the Risen Head. When he is going forth, like Balaam, to curse the Lord’s chosen led through the waters, and about to enter the promised rest, the Lord arrests him, not to destroy but to save. His heart is touched; is turned. He is commanded at once to be baptized; and he complies. Twice is his baptism named to us: Acts 9., 22. To Agrippa he professes that he still retained the hopes given to his nation; hopes realized by the resurrection of Messiah: 26.
Does Paul proclaim this kingdom! He does habitually.
Himself suffering much persecution for his apostleship, he exhorts
disciples to bear up with courage and patience, because “we must through many
afflictions enter the
But the history of this remarkable church ceases not
here. Paul, aware that he would not be
permitted to visit Ephesus again, while he is at Miletus
sends for the elders of the church, and gives them a farewell address. He recapitulates his work and doctrine among
them. He had taught them “the Gospel of the grace of
God:” 20: 24. He had also gone about heralding among
In the providence of God he is borne to
The Jews mainly persisting in unbelief, Paul turns to the Gentiles. He “dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came unto him, [page 130] preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ:” 28: 31.
It is certain, then, that, as the Acts begins with the
The Scriptures which speak so much of baptism tell us also
what sad results the refusal to comply with this word of God will produce, in
connexion with the
* The true translation is – “the counsel of God with regard to themselves.” But as it was a counsel of mercy and they refused it, the sense is that given by our translators.
Another reproof of this neglect of John’s invitation is found in
our Lord’s words to the chief priests: Matt. 21:
25-32. The inquiry was, whether John’s baptism came
from heaven, or was of his own devising?
They affirmed falsely, that they could not tell. Our Lord then spoke the parable of the two
sons. The first being commanded by the
father to go and work in his vineyard, bluntly refuses. The second, on receiving the same command,
promises to go, but does not. The
Saviour then expounds the parable to them.
I say unto you, the publicans and the harlots are going into the
And will it not be the same in the day to come, with those who refuse the doctrine of the kingdom, and baptism as its representative rite? To me it seems clear. If violent ones alone press into the kingdom, they who sit still enter not.
The same just reproach is cast upon the scribes and Pharisees by our Lord. “Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for ye go not in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering, to go in:” Matt. 23: 13. [Page 132] They not only themselves refused John’s baptism, but as far as their influence extended, they persuaded others not to accept it. Is there not something very like this in our day?
And does not our Lord teach, that the refusal of baptism would
exclude from the kingdom? “Verily, verily, I say unto
thee, except a man be born out of water and
the Spirit, he cannot enter into the
* See Greek.
But will a believer’s wilful refusal of baptism, though seen to be commanded, entail on him simply the negative result of exclusion from the kingdom? What then says our Lord? “But that servant which knew his Lord’s will and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes:” Luke 12: 47.
May the reader not be of this unhappy number, but one of the obedient and willing ones to whom the Lord when He cometh shall award praise, and the entry into His millennial joy!
* * * * * * *
CHAPTER 10 [Pages 134-154]
THE PASSOVER, LORD’S SUPPER, AND KINGDOM.
Luke 22: 14-30
This passage is an example of the twofoldness
of divine truth. It offers to our
1. We have first the PASSOVER: ver. 13-18.
“And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they
made ready the passover. And when the hour was come, he sat down, and
the twelve apostles with him. And he
said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this
passover with you before I suffer: for I say unto
you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the
Jesus was in one view a minister of the Jews, to confirm,
to do away with,) the promises made in the Old Testament:
* How constantly the kingdom, in the eyes of the disciples, meant the kingdom of glory, take the following proof. “Grant that these, my two sons, may sit, the one on the right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom:” Matt. 20: 21. What says the other gospel? “Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory:” Mark 10: 37.
which the Saviour celebrated, was the last milestone on His road in relation to
But the plan of God, though long delayed by unbelief, shall be
accomplished at length. Jesus is like
Moses. Moses at his first presentation
But at his second coming, Moses delivers; for the people
believe. So shall it be at Jesus’ second advent. This
is implied in the Lord’s words upon this occasion. “For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof (of the passover) till it be fulfilled in the
In these words it is clearly intimated, that after a certain
time, Jesus will again celebrate the passover;
and then the real deliverance of
Where will Jesus
celebrate the Passover? On [this]
earth of course. With
The Spirit by Luke speaks of the kingdom in manifestation.
How will the passover
be fulfilled at Christ’s coming in the
But that deliverance, and the kingdom which sprang from it,
were incomplete. Why? Because Satan was
still at large.
[Page 137] But in the day of fulfilment all these imperfections will be removed. The true Lamb, the Lamb of God, is already slain: the basis of a full rescue is laid. Jesus is the true conqueror; the only one who is slain before He brings in His kingdom. His kingdom will ne’er be overthrown, because it is laid in resurrection. But hitherto the patience of the Most High is waiting. It is not yet, in His reckoning, the world’s midnight, when the angel of His wrath is to go forth to smite. It is not yet the hour when the sea of His judgments shall whelm His foes. His watching people will be set beyond the reach of judgment, before that hour strikes.
2. The next step is Jesus’ taking of THE NAZARITE VOW.
The twelve were to drink of the cup He sent round; but He
would not partake of this “produce.of the vine”* “till the
*’Tis not the ordinary word for “fruit.” Mistake, even on so small a point, is sometimes mischievous.
Jesus must fulfil all the law.
Now Nazariteship is one of its observances, a
matter of choice with the Israelite, both as to the time of making the vow, and
as to its duration. During His former
life, the Saviour was not a Nazarite.
He drank wine ordinarily, as did His countrymen. In
this He was a contrast to His forerunner John the Baptist: John 7: 33.
But now the great and suited
occasion for taking the Nazarite vow had come. Wine
was suited to the Passover-feast, as being the sign of earthly joy. But
A great work, the work of the world’s and
The words in italics show the object which occupied the heart
The truth before us is illustrated in another way, by the wicked vow of the conspirators against Paul.
“When it was day certain of the Jews
banded themselves together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying, that they
would neither eat nor drink, till they had killed Paul.” Here
the words which come after the “till” discover to us the object on which their heart was set. So, then, the introduction of the
Has Jesus since that day drank wine? No! He was tempted to do so when about to be crucified : for “they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh, but he received it not:” Mark 15: 23. Hence the
He is seven times so denominated in the Acts: four times during the ministry of Peter at
* See Greek.
What says Isaiah?
“And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall punish the host
of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth. And they shall be gathered together, as
prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and
after many days shall they be visited.
Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in
Here is predicted the casting down of Satan and his hosts from
heavenly places, and the after-smiting of the kings of earth, whom he gathers
together on earth to fight against Christ: Rev. 16., 19. Thereupon, he and his
allies are cast into prison, and he is only [page 140] released after the close of the earthly kingdom. Then Jesus and His twelve elders, the
apostles, reign at
“And in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat thirgs, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined. And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it. And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation:” ver. 6-9.
Here the use of wine as a part of the feast is a prominent object. Moreover, the feast is noticed again by our Lord, in His description of that millennial day: (Luke 22: 28-30) a point which will presently be considered.
The return of Jesus in power brings in the kingdom of glory; and that is the time of His joy.
“After along time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that received five talents came and brought other five talents saying Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord:” Matt. 25: 19-21.
That will be the fittest moment for
ending the Nazarite vow. It is the time
of joy on earth, brought in to both the Church and to
3. But now comes into view THE LORD’S SUPPER.
“And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave it unto them, saying, this is my body which is given for you this do in remembrance of me:” ver. 19.
The death of the Son of God is so great an event, that it cannot but produce immediate results.
The Lord’s Supper is based upon Jesus’ absence on high.
‘Do this to bring me to remembrance.’ It
is to cease as soon as Jesus is come.
“Ye do show forth the Lord’s death till He come:”
1 Cor, 11: 26. Thus the true meaning of the Supper
is the very opposite to that adopted by
But, ‘While I am absent, break this bread to remind you of my work once for all finished.’ The rite is to cease with Jesus’ coming, not then to find its chief meaning. Moreover, the Lord says, “Behold I have told you [page 142] before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, ‘Behold, He is in the desert,’ go not forth; ‘Behold, he is in the secret chambers,’ BELIEVE IT NOT. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even to the west, so shall also the coming (presence) of the Son of Man be:” Matt. 24: 25-27. The teachers therefore of ‘the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist’ are not to be believed by any who will credit Christ’s words. They affirm that in the inner chamber of their ‘churches,’ the Lord, body, soul, and deity, is to be seen. They utter a falsehood! “BELIEVE IT NOT.” For when Jesus does come, He will be seen, not on earth, but in the heaven; not pointed out by man’s elevation and the tinkling bell; but with the lightning blaze, filling at once the east and west. He will come, not in mercy, but in wrath, with His host of vengeance, when earth is the dead carcase on which judgment must descend.
After the bread Jesus gave to His disciples the cup.
“Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” ver. 20.
This is a second cup, quite different from that presented to His fellow-Israelites, as a part of the passover. Of that, Jesus spoke as literal “the produce of the vine.” It belongs to the people of the letter.
But this cup is given to the people of the spirit. It is a sign of something greater than
itself. It represents to faith the blood
of Christ. Jesus does not say, ‘Drink this, it is my blood.’ But He says, “This cup is THE NEW TESTAMENT in my blood, which is (being) shed for you.” Against these words
In these words of our Lord, then, the “cup” is put by a common figure for the liquid within the cup. So only could it be drank. Nor was Jesus’ blood then literally “being shed,” nor was the blood literally “the new testament,” though it represented it.
This wine represents the blood of Jesus about to be shed in order to introduce the new and better covenant. The Old Covenant (or ‘testament’) of Moses could not abide, as being made with the flesh tested under law. Out of such a trial of man the sinner, only the curse of a righteous judge could take its rise. Law defined sin, law increased transgression. Without law there would be no trespass. But Moses’ law was given to bring out to the surface and to the eye of man the sinner, the rebellion of nature that before lurked within him.
There must, therefore, be a better covenant, if the
Not that the new covenant has yet been ratified. It was to have been made with
To understand the matter clearly, let us refer to the scene of
making the Old Covenant at Sinai. Moses
wrote out the conditions of the covenant, built an altar, and set up twelve
pillars at the foot of the Mount. The
young men, his servants, slew oxen for burnt offerings and peace
offerings. He read the conditions of the
covenant to the people of
The Lord was now bringing forth the better covenant; for Jesus
was the true Mediator, on whose blood shed in grace the covenant could stand
for ever. But
Yet there is somewhat of the Church to be seen in this
transaction of Sinai; for there are those who do accept the Testator and the
testament in His blood. After the blood
has been sprinkled on the people, God invites to feast before Him on the top of
the mount seventy of the rulers and two of the priests of
Out of the believers in the New Mediator and the blood of His testament, twelve elders are invited, and they feast with the Son of God. They behold Him, for it is the time of grace.
But Moses is instructed, that he is
to ascend still higher, and to be alone with God. After waiting seven days Moses is called up to
be with God: Ex. 24: 16. Thus Jesus after His resurrection waits forty
days upon earth; and then ascends, passing through all inferior heavens, to
tarry with His Father. Moses, ere he
leaves the seventy-two, bids them to stay where they were till he,
returned. If the aid of the elders were
required, the parties needing it were to ascend to their elevation; they were
not to descend to the foot of the mount, ver. 14.
Aaron and the others break [page 145] this command,
with sad consequences both to themselves and to
They are to be like Joshua, who alone was found at the close of the forty days looking for Moses’ return, and ready for him. It is to this that Paul refers, when he says of Jesus the Mediator, “Unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time unto salvation:” Heb. 9: 28.
Jesus has presented to the Church its great rite of joint remembrance of His
atoning death, we receive two warnings; one
against betraying one another, the other against following the course of
earthly ambition in the
It should be observed, that the point from which the most
connected and interesting view of the subject can be taken, is to be obtained
by comparing this scene with the history of David in the sorest crisis of his
kingly life. He is informed of Absalom’s
conspiracy, and gives orders to flee at once from
In much of this our Lord resembles David His father. It became Him who was to be the man of sorrows, to learn the depth of woe there is in betrayal [page 146] by our friends whom we trusted. Accordingly, Judas’ sin is the way in which the poignancy of treachery is brought to bear against the Lord.
But David is overwhelmed with a sense of his transgressions. The Saviour has none of his own to
confess. David is ignorant of the plot
preparing for him, till suddenly the discovery is brought to him. Jesus is
aware, throughout, of the plans of His betrayer and of his foes. While David is
ignorant of the results of the calamity then befalling, the Saviour is fully
apprized of the issue, and manifests unshaken faith in the establishment of the
The Saviour, then, reveals His knowledge of the treachery in
the midst of the favoured twelve. Why is
this recorded? To warn the
This sin of Judas was foreseen and foretold. But the prophecy of such guilt would not diminish its heinousness or its punishment. Wisely the disciples question themselves thereupon. Not, ‘Is it he?’ ‘Is it you?’ But, ‘Is it I?’
Another warning is given us on the subject of ambition
“And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. And he said unto them, The kings of. the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? Is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.”
[Page 147] The apostles were now expecting, in spite of our
Lord’s intimations, that He would then assume His kingdom over
In this our Lord foresaw a type of the strifes for pre-eminence which would afterward arise in His Church. He, therefore, lays down the rule of action for holy ambition. It is quite lawful, nay excellent, to desire a high place in the Saviour’s coming kingdom. But heavenly ambition is of a different spirit from that of earth; and its pathway leads in an opposite direction.
The kings of the Gentiles offer to us specimens of earthly ambition and rule. They are fond of carrying out their own will, employing others as servants, exacting their dues, and they are often to a high degree selfish and burthensome to their subjects. Yet still they covet titles which would represent them as unselfish and pre-eminent in benevolence, disinterestedness, self-denial, and generosity. But this is not to be the conduct of disciples of Christ. They are to be useful to their brethren, in whatever path God may have qualified them. They are rather to give than to exact; to do good, but not to seek its titles at present. The reality of kindness is to be theirs; the rewards and fame of it they are to wait for from God in another day.
How flagrantly has this rule been broken? There is one who out of a servant has become a priest, and chief-priest; he sits on a throne, affects the state of a king, wears a triple crown, asserts himself superior to all kings, and possessed of the right to dethrone them, is master of an army, engaging in wars and slaughter of those whom he owns to be Christians. And with all this; he yet takes the lowly title of ‘Servant of the servants of God!’
But this rule of Christian, ambition the Saviour illustrates from His own conduct. With Him the [page 148] Father was ever well pleased. Him the Father has appointed Ruler over all His works: KING OF KINGS in His millennial kingdom. How then did the Saviour conduct Himself throughout? With the utmost condescension; at that last supper stooping to take the servant’s towel, and to wash His disciples’ feet. The nearer, then, that any Christian can approach to this perfection of lowly service, the greater will he be under that King of kings, when the kingdom is come.
But having uttered this warning, the Saviour turns to praise what of good He can find in them: ver. 28-30.
“Ye are they which have continued with
me in my temptations. And I appoint unto
you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink
at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of
He remembers that they have stood by His side in His many
trials during His brief ministry. Where
others had turned aside and left Him, they still continued faithful. He recognized this merit, and would reward it.
He bequeathed to them a kingdom. He is to be King of kings; they subordinate
monarchs, appointed by Him. To them in His millennial kingdom
is to be granted the high honour of a seat at the table of the Supreme Ruler of
all; and the actual dignity and authority of a throne, with power to decide the
affairs of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Here apostles would find their Jewish ideas
met and authenticated. They were right,
then, in believing in Jesus as King of the Jews. They were right in taking literally the prophecies of Jeremiah and
Ezekiel, which foretell the re-establishment of the twelve tribes as one nation
in the land given to their fathers, under the rule of one king. They were right in expecting, that Jesus would visibly reign at
The view they would take of such words, which we also should
adopt, would be that suggested by the history of David, and of Solomon his son.
For David had not only his hour of
ejection and of reviling, but also his day of return in triumph to Jerusalem,
after his treacherous son and his treacherous councillor had both been cut off
by the hand of God. David could promise
at his return to Barzillai a requital for the kindness
shown him whilst he was an exile beyond
How would Jews understand such
expressions as “eat and drink at my table in my kingdom?” How?
but by a reference to like phrases in the history of
“And Solomon’s provision for one day
was thirty measures of fine flour, and three-score measures of meal. Ten fat oxen, and
twenty oxen out of the pastures, and an hundred sheep, beside harts, and
roebucks, and fallowdeer, and fatted fowl. For he had dominion over all
the region on this side the river, from Tiphsah
even to Azzah, (
And what was it which helped to overpower with delighted astonishment the soul of the Queen of Slieba?
“And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon’s wisdom, and the house that he had built, and the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the Lord; there was no more spirit in her. And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard. Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom:” 1 Kings 10: 4-8.
How could the apostles understand “eat and drink,” but in the sense in which they were then eating and drinking, both at the passover-feast, and at the Supper of the Lord after it?
‘But will there be eating and drinking after the resurrection?’ Yes, as truly as Christ ate and drank after His resurrection; as truly as the angels ate and drank with Abraham when they visited him.
How great the Saviour’s faith! On His way to [page 151] the cross He dispenses thrones. On His way to death, He realizes His kingdom in
resurrection; He sees the apostles risen from the dead and seated with Him in His kingdom. Though possessed of no house in
We may observe, that David seems to
have forgotten the heroism of Ittai the Gittite and his men, who cleaved to his side in the hour of
his distress. He was imposed on by Ziba to the prejudice of the princely Mephibosheth;
but Jesus, in His dispensing of favours at His return, shall not be then
misled.* To Him all will be known; He will
requite each according to his works. We
do not read of any great reward given to the mighty men of the faithful band
that attended David’s footsteps and shared his privations, perils, temptations
from the time of his ejection from the court of Saul till He was enthroned over
How do anti-millennarians interpret this passage? It speaks our doctrine fully: how can it square with theirs?
Some interpret the promises of apostles’ power now. The twelve tribes of
What is ‘eating and drinking at
Christ’s table in His kingdom?’ Shall we make it mean the Supper of the
Lord? That is not peculiar to the
twelve: it is open to each son of God.
Beside, Jesus had enjoined the Lord’s Supper on the apostles while He was away, to bring him
to remembrance. This was to be their
glory [page 152] and especial privilege after His
return. The passage, as we have seen,
decides that the
Some would try to make out, nevertheless, that Jesus was in
His kingdom then. Some would teach, that
apostles judging the twelve tribes of
Can any be blind enough to confound Jesus’ day of humiliation with His day of exaltation? Does He not speak of that His life as His period of “temptations?” Because of their partaking in these they should be rewarded with a place in His kingdom. The Christ was first to suffer, then to enter His glory. Can any be blind enough to confound the precedent suffering with the succeding glory? “For the joy that was set before Him He despised the cross” of shame. But the cross was not His joy, much less His exaltation. Can we see no difference between the Stone’s rejection by the builders, and its being made head of the corner?
There are, then, two great and contrasted periods here supposed.
1. That while Jesus is away. Disciples,
during this period of
2. But another and a contrasted day
comes in with the Saviour’s return. ’Tis the day of fulfilment of the promises to Israel, the
day of Jesus’ fulfilling the passover in the kingdom
of God, the day of His ending His vow of Nazariteship. ’Tis
day of His remembering us who have remembered Him. ’Tis the day of
requiting those who had been obedient to do His will, and patient to suffer
it. The kingdom in Luke is the kingdom
in manifestation. Then apostles are to take their thrones in resurrection. It is to be when the Son of Man takes His
throne of glory, and when earth and heaven are regenerated. The
What then is the voice of this to Christians? Seek the