F. A. Hughes.
The sphere into which grace has brought us is replete with most precious substance. The Holy Scriptures, themselves a most precious heritage — make it abundantly clear that we have access to that which is beyond price and incomparably precious. It is the object of this first paper to call attention to this subject as seen in the Old Testament. But in speaking of what is precious we must at once speak of the One Who in this, as in every other feature, is unique. Peter says "Unto you therefore which believe He is precious," (1 Peter 2:7), or it might read "is the preciousness." If we think of the Lord's own words to those going to Emmaus we see that this feature of preciousness is stamped upon the whole of the Old testament Scriptures for "He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself." Faith in Him thus makes available to us the vast preciousness unfolded in the sacred letters, "the spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus."
Although many Scriptures bring this truth before us we would call attention to three spheres in which "precious things" are seen.
In Genesis 24 we find them in relation (typically) to the
ACTIVITIES OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
This chapter sets before us the movement of divine love and purpose to secure a companion for the true Isaac. She, Rebekah, is in view before this chapter. At the end of Ch. 22 where Isaac is seen as a type of Christ offered up, the Spirit of God brings her name forward. But it is Ch. 24 the activities of the Spirit are typically seen securing her affections responsively to Christ, the true heavenly Man. It is said in v. 53, "He gave . . . precious things." Can we think that if such things were available to others they were denied to the one who was the great subject of His service? As the Spirit of God draws our hearts to a risen Christ, does He not fulfil the words of the Lord Himself, "He shall receive of mine and shall show it unto you," (John 16:14) As He glorifies Christ before us what communications of His preciousness He makes to us. How well He knows His glories, His perfections, His love, His attractiveness, and with what power and skill He would shew these "precious things" to us. shall we "go with this man?" Shall we allow any earthly (not necessarily worldly) considerations (v.55) to hinder Him in conducting our affections now to One Who is "altogether lovely?.
In Deut. 33 "precious things" are seen as amongst the
SUBSTANCE OF A MAN OF GOD (v.1)
Space permits of but a passing reference to the "precious things of heaven," "precious things put forth by the moon," "precious things of the lasting hills," "precious things of the earth;" but a Scriptural search in regard to each will yield much spiritual joy and substance. As we read those wonderful chapters Exodus 25 onwards, do we not see something of the glory and preciousness of the things of which Moses the man of God had intelligent appreciation? The greatness and wonder of a sphere surrounding the precious Ark, every feature speaking of Christ. If we think of the "precious things of heaven" then they relate to the sphere where "Christ sitteth on the right hand of God." Are they "precious things of the earth and the fulness thereof," then again they centre in Him Whose "is the earth and the fulness thereof."
How replete the "man of God" of the New Testament was with these precious things, "Righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness (1 Timothy 6:11). Each of these things is a vast subject in itself and does but serve to show the wealth of preciousness available in Christ to those who love Him, wealth which becomes substance in the hands of men of God for the blessing of others. With what riches we should endow our brethren if we each brought amongst them the features of righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness." "The blessing wherewith . . . the man of God blessed . . before his death." May we seek to be marked by the spirit of such a man.
The third sphere in which "precious things" have a place is
THE HOUSE OF GOD
It is evident from such Scriptures as 1 Chron. 29 that the structure of that day abounded in precious material, but we know too how these precious things were soon devalued in the eyes of men, their holy character forgotten, and they became divorced in their minds from the service of God. Indeed in 2 Kings 20:13, it is evident that Hezekiah saw the precious things in relation only to himself, their holy and unique character was lost to him, as also the fact that he owed much to those who had laboured before him and he came under judgment accordingly. Beloved brethren, we through grace, find ourselves in a sphere where the most precious things can be known and enjoyed. Others have laboured and sacrificed to bring to us the wealth which is ours, they have been treasured and valued as the holy things of God. Let us value them increasingly, explore them, revel in them and prove that every precious feature in this holy sphere speaks blessedly and sweetly to us of the glories of Him Who is "Son over God's house."
In the wonderful day of recovery depicted in Ezra we see men of Judah and men of Benjamin, names which remind us of the praises of God and of the Son of His right hand, concerned as to the building of God's house. Priests, Levites, together with all whose spirits God had raised, strengthened their hands with, among other blessed features, "precious things," (1 Chron. 1:6). Beloved brethren have not our hearts been "raised" (or, "stirred," J.N.D.) by the truth that has been recovered to us in our day, a day in which such precious truths as the Lord's Supper, His coming and His appearing, His peculiar delight in His own, His body, have been given to us in power. What strengthening of hands should be ours. Outwardly in a day of smallness and weakness, but inwardly strengthened in affections and loyalty to Christ as the power of these "precious things " by the Spirit are known and enjoyed.
At the end of the Old Testament history the preciousness of the things of God had sadly waned in the hearts of His people. Even His love, the eternal preciousness of which shall ever delight us, was belittled, (Mal. 1:2). His holy service was accounted a vain thing, (Mal. 3:14). "Then," mark that word, "Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another." Note beloved the cluster of "precious things" available to the saints at such a moment. The fear of the Lord, with its wisdom and purity. The communion of saints (precious possession) thinking upon His name with all its sweetness and power and glory, and above all else the sense of His approval. "They shall be Mine." How precious the saints are to God, "My jewels." The display of the regalia of kings is a truly dazzling sight, but the jewels of the "Great King the Lord of Hosts," what worth, what value and preciousness. How wonderful the thought of reciprocity of appreciation, the saints valuing Him and His precious things in a day of declension, and He appraising them as precious to Himself.
One closing word. The last book of the Old Testament portrays a sad picture of apostasy but how blessed to see the variety and fulness of "precious things" available to those who feared the Lord. HIS word, HIS love, HIS majesty, HIS name, HIS altar, HIS table, HIS graciousness, HIS glory, HIS covenant, HIS fear, HIS holiness, HIS forbearance, HIS temple, HIS coming, HIS offerings HIS unchangeableness, HIS ordinances, HIS promises, HIS blessing, HIS rebuke, HIS house, HIS service, HIS valuation of HIS own, HIS healing power, HIS great day.
What a feast for our souls in our day. How these precious truths unfolded to us in the New Testament would bring their features into present realization and enjoyment in the power of the Holy Spirit.
May the Lord graciously help us to value and enjoy more the "precious things" unfolded in His Word.