« PreviousContinue »
flesh." When Christ died, therefore, and rose again immortal from the grave, he had then passed through the veil of mortality into immortality, and the time employed in doing this was the time that lapsed between his death and his resurrection from the dead, which in this case was three days and three nights; but in the case of his brethren, it will be the time which lapses between the time when they die, and the time when they awake from the sleep of death; and it matters not as to whether they sleep three days and three nights, or ten thousand years, it will be all the same, as death is a state in which there is neither work, nor device, nor wisdom, nor knowledge, so that the time is struck out as a blank, and it is the same to the sleepers whether the time of rest in the grave is long or short, for the righteous learn to count time as God counts it, who calls things which be not as though they were, and with him a thousand years "are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night" (Ps. 90:4).
This hope, the hope of salvation by resurrection from the dead, Paul found in searching the things contained in that precious covenant. But a man may search that covenant with candles, but he cannot find a trace of the heathens' hope there, the hope of enjoying a paradise beyond the skies while they are dead and returning to dust in their graves. The mortal flesh, therefore, of Christ was the veil that separated between himself and the immortal state; and when his flesh was rent by the hands of sinners, the veil of the temple which symbolized his flesh also was rent. He died and was buried, but his flesh did not see corruption, and on the third day he was changed from mortality to immortality in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye; but when he arose, he had passed through the veil, and so appeared now within the veil where God is, and now as a high priest of the order of Melchisedec, to appear in the presence of God for us.
These things were represented in the law as follows, for Paul says, "Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: the Holy Spirit this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing" (Heb. 9:6-8). That is, the way of life was not manifested, as represented in the law during all the time that the first tabernacle was the place where Israel worshipped, for Christ did not come till after the tabernacle was done away with, and Solomon's beautiful temple substituted for it, and put in its place.
Now we have already spoken of the meaning of the things contained in the first apartment of the tabernacle, but the things which were contained within the second apartment of the tabernacle, and which were not seen till one had passed through the second veil, these things being on the other side, and within the veil, represent things which obtain after the resurrection of the dead, when the righteous shall have passed within the veil by that means. Here then is a subject of the profoundest interest; here is an apartment in the tabernacle where the God of Israel dwelt in the midst of the children
of Israel, an apartment containing certain things made after patterns shown to Moses in the mount, and which are figures and shadows of what takes place and obtains among the righteous after the resurrection of the dead, in the kingdom of God.
Therefore, if a person is desirous of knowing what the righteous will be employed at in the resurrection, let him learn the meaning of the patterns contained within the second apartment of the tabernacle, enumerated by Paul as follows (Heb. 9:3-5): "After the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the holiest of all; which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with pure gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; and over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat: of which (says Paul) we cannot now speak particularly."
When he says, we cannot now speak particularly " of the meaning of these things, after showing us plainly that they illustrate what obtains with Christ and his brethren in the resurrection, the reason doubtless why he here did not interpret the hidden meaning of these symbols in this place, was the same as caused him to say in another place to the people to whom this letter was addressed, "For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God, and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat" (Heb. 5:12); because he said he had many things to say of Melchisedec, and hard to be uttered, seeing they were dull of hearing, for he continues (verse 14), “Strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil.” Now these people had need of milk, and not of strong meat. Milk refers to the first principles of the doctrine of Christ, to knowledge which obtains in the present time, but strong meat refers to the knowledge of God of things that obtains in the immortal state; and as Melchisedec was an immortal man, to speak of him and things that stood connected with him, was to speak of things that are only manifested after the resurrection.
To understand such things as these requires the exercise of the senses, that a man may be able to discern between good and evil, and this marks the difference between the true religion of God and the spurious imitations of the times present where the free and easy systems of religion are moulded and fashioned to catch the multitudes, and are disseminated with great ease and rapidity in what are known as great revivals of religion; and the great enthusiasm that is begotten of these exertions is spoken of as a high state of religious feeling, and that is all it is, a high state of religious feeling; but it is characterized by a very low state of true religious and Scripture intelligence, and very often the more religious fervor and enthusiasm, the less Scripture intelligence.
But with reference to the meaning of the holy furniture, and things contained in the second Tabernacle, as Paul styles it, we intend to speak more particularly in another place, but will proceed to trace another feature of the inheritance as contained in the covenant, which is found in the seventeenth chapter of the book of Genesis.
Fifth, a Father of Nations
And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God: walk before me and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee; and will multiply thee exceedingly. And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, As for me, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee." The name of this man at first was not such as to express the things that God intended to do in connection with him, and therefore the Lord changed his name from Abram to Abraham, so that the name which he should then bear, and ever afterwards be called by, would represent the purposes of God that he intended to fully carry into execution in future times, down to the end of the world, in connection with him. Abraham therefore means, "a father of many nations, a father of a multitude of nations, kindreds, and peoples, and tongues," and of him the Lord said, " In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed."
Now to fully comprehend the length and breadth of all that is contained. in all these sayings would fill a volume, for thus the Lord constituted Abraham the grand patriarch of all the families of the earth and gave him a new name indicative of his high position, which also embodied his hope. For the Lord said first, "Thou shalt be a father of many nations." Here the Lord speaks of it as something that was to be manifested in future times, as things should be developed in future ages, for before these great and wonderful things would transpire, many thousands of years must needs roll by, during which times many of God's mighty works would be shown before the wondering inhabitants of the earth. First, God made of his literal posterity a great nation in Egypt; second, he brought them out with a high hand and an outstretched arm and brought them to Horeb, the mount of God, and gave them the covenant which constituted them a nation and a people, and thus they continued under many vicissitudes of fortune, until a change had to be made in the law; third, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for evermore. He who was heralded by John the Baptist worked the works of God, then died and rose and revived, and brought life and immortality to light by his resurrection from the dead. After his ascension into heaven, his apostles went everywhere preaching Jesus and the resurrection of the dead as the only hope of dying men. But the work of Christ and his ministers which was done by them in their day is only preparatory to the great work that is to be done at and after his second coming in power and great glory, and after his associate heirs are raised from the dead to share with him power over the nations.
When the covenant made with Abraham was brought into force, which contemplated the salvation of the Gentiles as well as the Jews, saying, “In thee shall all nations be blessed," Christ, having purchased redemption for all, sent out his apostles, and as Paul said to the Athenians, "The times of this ignorance, God winked at, but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent." And how was that command of God respected? Did nations
repent, and turn to the Lord, and render the obedience of faith? By no means; even God's own nation killed the Lord Jesus, and afterwards his holy apostles, and Paul said, "chased us out" (I Thess. 2: 15). And how was it with the Gentile nations? Did they respect the command that God sent to them by the hand of such men as Paul, whose word was so wonderfully sustained by signs, wonders and miracles, which God did by his hand? Why, but a handful of the house of Israel, a small remnant, heeded God's commands, and but a very small number, comparatively, of the Gentile nations cared for these things. Both Jews and Gentiles conspired against them, and by persecution and murder, by repressive legislation, and cruel laws, they hunted the righteous through the earth like wild beasts. And only when Christianity was paganized, and the doctrines of evil and designing men, called "the doctrines of devils," were extensively introduced into the churches, and the truth was eaten out like a canker, did a corrupt church and state begin to fraternize; and when the truths of Christianity were sufficiently mixed up with the inventions of men to have lost their virtue and power, so as to satisfy the lusts of the old man of the flesh, and the desires of the carnal mind, then it rose to the surface, and became incorporated into the governments, and out of these things has grown what is known as modern Christendom.
But are the great truths of revelation to be always frittered away and suppressed, to give place to counterfeit systems of religion, and systems of error? Are the nations, including God's own nation, to always walk after the vain imaginations of their own hearts? Verily not. For when the Lord brought Israel out of Egypt, and showed them his signs and mighty wonders, and when the Lord would magnify this people in the eyes of all people, and get them praise and fame in every land, then they forgot God, and rebelled against him, and did not believe his word, and turned back in the day of battle, and tempted God in the wilderness, and were like a deceitful bow. And although God's purpose to fill the earth with his fame was temporarily frustrated by the perverseness of his own nation, yet hearken to what the Lord said after he answered the prayer of Moses to forgive them, "The Lord said, I have pardoned according to thy word. But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord" (Num. 14:20-21). This oath is still on record, and will yet just as surely be fulfilled as that God himself exists, but not until the latter days; and although in the eyes of men the time may seem long, yet so certain is it to transpire that after God had said to Abraham, speaking of his promise as a matter to be fulfilled at a far off future time, saying, "Thou shalt be a father of many nations," he changes the manner of his language and speaks of it as though it were already a matter of fact, saying, “Thy name shall be Abraham, for a father of many nations have I made thee."
Now Paul shows by his interpretation of this very Scripture that the time when this oracle of God is to be fulfilled is after Abraham will be raised from the dead when Abraham will be a father, not of a little remnant of the nations, but of the nations themselves, when the great and mighty nations of the earth will be compelled to adopt the faith of Abraham, and be adopted among his nation family, as his name implies, and as the Lord
said, A father of many nations have I made thee," the firstborn of which is the nation of Israel, as the Lord commanded Moses to say to Pharaoh, as it is written (Exod. 4: 22-23), "And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, even my firstborn, and I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me, and if thou refuse to let him go, behold I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn."
Israel therefore is God's first-born national son, and the fact that the nation of Israel is to be God's first-born national son, proves that God in that day will have many other national sons, who will then stand related to Abraham as his national children, and there will be peace in that day in Abraham's family of nations, for it is written of them, "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more (Isa. 2:2-4; Mic. 4:1-4).
This promise embodied in Abraham's name Paul construes into a promise of an inheritance of vast proportions, when he says to the Romans, "The promise that he should be the heir of the world was not to Abraham, or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith" (4: 13). And again, "As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations, before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead and calleth things which be not as though they were" (verse 17). Abraham, therefore, by virtue of the promise of God is an heir of the world and will rise from the dead to claim his inheritance, and the righteous of past ages up to that time will rise with him to share the same inheritance. These things involve a great revolution in the affairs of the world which we will speak of in another place. But we have already shown how broad and wide the foundations of the world to come were laid in God's holy covenant, and how full of meaning the ancient oracles of God contained therein are found to be.
THE COVENANT OF CIRCUMCISION
And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant, therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee; in their generations. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me, and thy seed after thee: Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be for a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations; he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised; and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. And the uncircumcised man child, whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant" (Gen. 17:914). This is God's law of circumcision, which he calls the token of his covenant betwixt himself and Abraham. And God said, "My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant." Abraham was prompt to obey this command, for it is said, "In the self same day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael his son, and all the men of his house, born in the house, and bought with money of the stranger, were circumcised with him."