Faith: Its Activity, Patience, and Hope.

Lectures on Hebrews 11
by T. H. Reynolds, at Ealing.

Newport (Mon.): Stow Hill Publishing Office.
London: 15, Paternoster Square.

Contents
Lecture 1 The First Principles of Faith
Lecture 2 The Call of God and Its Effects
Lecture 3 Heavenly and Earthly
Lecture 4 Deliverance from the World-System and Entrance into the Inheritance

The First Principles of Faith
Hebrews 11:1-7.

The opening verses of this chapter are evidently connected with the end of the last. There we get a most important exhortation, "For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back to perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul." The question of continuing, the just shall live by faith; or of drawing back is of all importance. There is the need of patience, for it is the present moment of the Lord's tarrying—the little while that becomes the test of faith. The moment that the Lord comes He will bring in that system of things which is spoken of as "the world to come"; but in the meantime we have to walk in the faith of it, with the sense that the present system of things is passing away. God has established in Christ another order of things by placing Him at His right hand. There is a blessed Man gone into heaven; it is a new thing that a Man should be there.

Man was made for the earth, and Adam was set in headship over it (Gen. 1:28). "The heaven even the heavens are the LORD'S; but the earth has he given to the children of men." But now that this new thing has come to pass, that there should be a Man in heaven, the purpose of God is revealed, not only that He should be there, but that He, the glorified Man, should have companions, the "many sons" whom He is bringing to glory, and who consequently have a heavenly calling. There is a Man in the glory of God and the heavenly calling is consequent on that. Heaven is thrown open to us, so that we may walk in the light which shines upon us from the glorified Man. We see Jesus there. The peculiarity of our position is that we are placed between the moment of the Lord Jesus taking His seat at the right hand of God and of His coming again.

The "little while" of the Lord's tarrying becomes the test of faith. In the parable of the ten virgins (Matt. 24) there was the same test, the tarrying of the Bridegroom. "They all slumbered and slept"; but the cry "Behold the Bridegroom" awoke them, and then it came out that five were foolish, and had no real expectation of the Bridegroom, or readiness for Him. What is important for us is that we should not lose sight of the fact that there is a glorified Man in heaven, and that we should walk down here in the light of it. I do not mean that we should merely expect His coming, but be in the sense that He is there in heaven. The church was never given a revelation of times and seasons. If the moment of the Lord's coming had been revealed, there would have been no test of faith. The mistake of many students of prophecy has been to try and calculate the date of the Lord's coming, they do not see the calling of the church, nor the privilege she has of walking in the light of the glorified Man; had the date been revealed, there would have been no test of faith, nor the opportunity of being like men who wait for their Lord with loins girt (Eph 6:14) and lamps burning. What the church has been given to know is the Lord Himself in heaven.

This epistle has been called the epistle of the opened heavens; it opens with this great fact that after the Son had by Himself made purification for sins, He seated Himself at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens. The truth of the epistle depends upon the glory of His person, and upon His place in heaven. We often sing "He's gone within the veil." We have been wakened up to the fact that He is there; our part is to be with Him there, and this is heavenly light for us. We are not yet caught up to Him there; No, but we know Him there, and that He is there for us. We have a present link with Him by the Holy Spirit so that He is not unknown to us. In one sense we never saw Him, but the Holy Spirit has traced for us all the blessed features of His lowly life on earth, in which His glory made itself felt, though it was hidden behind the veil of flesh in which He tabernacled; and the same Spirit "has oped the heavenly door," that we may see Him now that He is glorified. The Spirit acquaints us with His present service for us there. Has there been one moment during the whole time He has been there in which the saints have not been on His heart, in which He has not thought of them? Can you tell me of any period of your life when you have been forgotten by the Lord Jesus Christ? But now I may ask, How much has He been upon our hearts? There comes in the subject of this chapter, faith.

Now faith is that which substantiates the revelation of God and produces a response to it. The particular subject of revelation here is the heavens opened and the Lord there. Heaven opened to let Him in, and though we say in one sense that He is gone within the veil, yet because the Holy Ghost has come out, we know Him there. It was by the power of the Holy Ghost that Stephen saw heaven opened and the glory of God and Jesus in it. Faith is a very blessed thing, because God owns it and bears witness to it. God will not be silent to the response which the soul gives to His revelation. By faith the elders obtained testimony (New Trans.). True, God gives the faith, but He bears witness to the response it produces in the soul. It was so with the Lord when here. We have a very beautiful instance in the poor woman in Luke 7—He said to her "Thy sins are forgiven." That was His side, to assure her that her sins were forgiven, but He knew the secret of her soul, and bore witness to it. The woman probably would not have ventured, had she been asked, to speak of her love to the Lord, but He knew the drawing to Him of a heart that sought Him. He interpreted, what she could not have explained, the movements of her soul, and He bears witness to them, "Thy faith has saved thee; go in peace." He knew there was a response in her to the grace that shone in Him.

I might refer to another case, that of blind Bartimeus. He greets the Lord as Son of David, and that was faith, for he had been told that it was Jesus of Nazareth who was passing by. Many charged him to hold his peace; probably they did not like to give the Nazarene the title of Son of David. But the Lord delights in faith, and commands the poor blind beggar to be brought. "What will thou that I shall do unto thee?" He said, "Lord, that I may receive my sight." Jesus said, "Receive thy sight, thy faith has saved thee." Did not Jesus do it all? Yes, but it is exceedingly precious to see how the Lord loves the response of faith in our souls to the revelation of God's grace in Him. What He would have is the substantiation in our souls of the revelation of God. In this epistle we get the revelation of Jesus crowned with glory and honour.

Four points come before us in the verses I read. In them we have the great introductory principles of faith. "By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God." Every child might say that God made everything, but that is hardly the subject of faith. It is said "By faith we understand" we have a moral apprehension. Then it is not said that the worlds were made by God, though that is true, but "by the word of God." There is thus a revelation of purpose, because the word of God is the expression of what is in His mind. One could hardly read the account of creation in Genesis 1 without seeing that it was not merely divine power forming everything, but that God was uttering His mind as to things. We have continually recurring "And God said." This gives me a great sense as to this world, that God made it for a purpose. And what is the purpose? That Christ is the appointed Heir, and the whole universe is to be filled with His glory. What a different idea such a thought gives to the Christian. I find men using this world as if it belonged to them, and exercising their ingenuity to get as much as they can out of it for themselves. We have come into the world, and find ourselves in such a system of things and we have grown up in it, but now through faith we understand that God had a purpose in regard to His own creation. Every thing is for His Son. "All things were created by him and for him," and the Father has put all things into His hands.

After God had brought the heavens and the earth that are now out of the waters of the flood, and men were spread abroad in the earth through the confusion of tongues at Babel, and were settled in different localities according to their families and tongues, God raised the question of the heirship of the world, and gave the promise to Abraham that he should be the heir (Rom. 4:13), confirming it in his seed, that is, in Christ. All this is a question of the moral apprehension of faith in the word of God, and such an apprehension enables the Christian to move about in this present world with totally different ideas to those of the people who form part of its system. Christ, the appointed Heir, is already seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high, in the very centre of the glory which is yet to fill all things.

But God had to begin with things as they were, and with man as he was, fallen, outside of Paradise, and with sin and death in the world. The sentence of death was passed upon Adam by God; but there was more, "He drove out the man." Paradise was the place where Adam was set to enjoy special relationships, but chiefly it was there that he was set in responsibility to God, whose goodness and care he knew. Not merely had God created a world, but He had planted a paradise of goodness with its two special trees, setting man in relationship to Himself, to his wife, and to the creation below him, as head over it. Adam's relationship to Eve was typical of what is to come out in Christ and the church. In Paradise we have a divine system, so to speak, put into the hands of man, but he fell and was driven out. Now God having instituted a system of relationships, to be driven out from it is a terrible state; it is moral death. We can hardly realise it, because after the flood this world has been the sphere of various dealings of God. He made a covenant with Noah on the ground of sacrifice, and I doubt not that men enjoy to-day the providential goodness of God through God having been glorified in the sacrifice of Christ, and moreover the light of a Saviour God has shone for them, through that same sacrifice, so that while a man lives, he does stand now, though not in Paradise, in relation to a system subject to the dealings of God in government and grace. The light of revelation has come into the midst of men, and to be outside it is a terrible thing. An unconverted man is in relation to this light and these dealings of God, but if he dies he passes out of it into darkness, while the Christian having received the light goes into life.

It is important to see the value of any system of things which God has established. Take a young man in the home circle where there is family prayer and reading, and careful training, a mother's tender care, and the counsel of a godly father. He may go out to business every day, but can you not imagine the blessing of going out from such a place and returning to it. Supposing now that he had to leave it for some cause, and go to his business from a cold lodging. Everybody must feel what a loss it would be. Cannot we understand what a blessing the light of Christianity is, and the awful loss to men when its light is put out by the apostate powers of darkness? We see something of the same in the Book of Psalms with regard to Israel. Whatever troubles are mentioned yet Israel is seen in the first book in the place of relationship with Jehovah, while in the second book, they are driven out of Jerusalem; away from the system of things which God had established; their support could not be found in the privileges of the temple and city of God, but only in God Himself. So it was with Adam, driven out of Paradise, he had no support save in what God would be for him in such a state of things, and then the light of revelation first began to dawn for faith.

But we leave Adam and come to Cain and Abel. In them we see that though they were born outside of Paradise, yet that Abel profited by the light of revelation, while Cain did not. With Abel was faith, and by it he found there was a way back to God through sacrifice. Abel apprehended that he was away from God under the judgment of death, while Cain thought that man as he was and the world as it was would do for God. Neither would do; man, and the state of things in which he was, were both witnesses of the holy government of God against sin. Man was away from God and out of Paradise, in a world which God cursed for man's sin. Abel owned it in his offering and came to God by death; it met his own condition as under death, and also the state of things he was in. When Christ came, John points Him out as the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world; He is the One who meets the state of things, and also bare your sins and mine. On the day of atonement not only was the blood put on the mercy-seat as a propitiation for sins, but the tabernacle itself was reconciled by blood. God's sentence upon man and upon the state of things brought in by sin is carried out in the death of a victim.

Faith in Abel apprehended the broken relationship with God, but that it could be re-established on another ground, and, blessed be God, an abiding ground. You can well understand how Satan would like to silence the voice of Abel's testimony, that there was a way back to God, and that God could bear witness that Abel was righteous, not innocent; but one who has known evil, practises righteousness in coming to God by sacrifice. This testimony Satan seeks to obliterate by inciting Cain to kill his brother; but "he being dead yet speaks." The testimony abides that there is a way back to God—the blessed God against whom man had sinned. The God who had passed the sentence of death on man, and who had made the thorn and briar to grow, is the One to whom man can turn by sacrifice, and find himself counted righteous before God, so that all his hopes should be in the blessed God Himself. God becomes the refuge and dwelling-place of faith. So Moses prayed, "Lord, thou hast been our dwelling-place in all generations . . . from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God." It was in the character of his offering that Abel's faith appears, and the blessed God bore witness to his gifts, the fruit of his faith.

I pass on to speak of Enoch and Noah, and in illustration of their apprehensions by faith, I will refer to the scripture in 2 Peter 1:19, where we are told that prophecy is as "a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn and the day-star (or Morning Star) arise in your hearts." You will find in Enoch and Noah these two things: the Morning Star and the light of prophecy. It makes all the difference as to how we look at things, whether like Abraham from the mountain top, or like Noah from the midst of the things of which prophecy speaks. From the mountain top, the place where he had stood before the Lord, Abraham saw all the plain of Sodom burning like a furnace, but he was not in the midst of the judgment, but above it; that is the place of the church above with Christ, and this is set forth in Enoch. Noah was in the scene of judgment, and he was prophetically warned of that which God was about to bring on the earth. Enoch prophesied of coming judgment, "Behold the Lord comes with ten thousand of his saints to execute judgment, etc." He was not warned by prophecy, the earth was not the sphere of his hope, but heaven, just as the Morning Star is the heavenly hope of the saints. Prophecy was light to Noah in a dark place.

It is said that "By faith Enoch was translated." How could that be? Surely it was the power of God which translated him. I think we may say that before his actual translation Enoch had gone up that bright and shining way by faith. He diligently sought God. He had the light of Abel's sacrifice as the way to God in the midst of ruin and death. Everyone wants the light of Abel's offering first, but it is the way back to God, and then you find what the blessed God will be to you. Enoch found that to walk with God pleased Him; and that He was a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him. Enoch looked for that which God would give, as Abraham did afterwards. Thus we have the light of God as a Giver—a Rewarder. God was known to him, but also he learned that he was known of God. It was in a way as we now sing:—
  O Lord, tis sweet the thought
    That Thou art mine;
  But brighter still the joy
    That I am Thine.
It pleased God that Enoch should walk with Him, and He took him, and thus there was in measure the realisation of those words, "I am Thine." We have the brighter light of Jesus having come from the Father and gone back to the Father, but He has gone back as Man, and thus we know the bright and shining way which He has gone, and He is the Bright and Morning Star of our heavenly hope. Do we in spirit leave the earth and go to the mountain top? There indeed we learn the things that are coming on the earth, but we are not in them. Thus Enoch typifies to us the faith of the church, whilst Noah is a type of the earthly people who need to be warned by prophecy. By faith he heeded the prophetic warning and prepared an ark to the saving of his house. Israel will have to go through the trial and sorrow of the last days, but God will shelter those that fear Him, though they may little understand that their safety is consequent on the death and resurrection of Jesus. Though hidden in heaven, He is the true Ark of safety for them.

Now, though our own proper portion is the Bright and Morning Star, the heavenly hope connected with Him who has gone to the Father, yet I fully admit that we are actually in a world where difficulties and dangers surround us, and it lies under judgment because of its rejection of Christ, just as Enoch was in the world where Abel had been slain. Hence it is good for us to have the light of Noah's faith. It leads us to the realisation of Noah's place as shut in by God, i.e., knowing our place of safety as identified with Christ's death, and our full salvation out of the world that is judged, assured by His resurrection. Jesus said, "Now is the judgment of this world"; and consequently we may regard it as a judged scene. Baptism, Peter tells us, is the antitype of Noah's salvation in the ark; we are therein identified with Him who has gone through death and judgment and has risen again. All this is a necessary part of faith's history, but there is no real contradiction to the faith that climbs the mountain top, and sees things as Enoch saw them. Enoch lived to God; and speaking of this, and yet of having to actually live in flesh down here, the Apostle Paul said, "The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." It is a simple blessed path, if we know the Lord as the Bright and Morning Star. When the Lord comes for us, it will not be a strange moment for us, but one that we have anticipated, if we have had the light of the Morning Star in our hearts.

The Call of God and Its Effects
Hebrews 11:8-19.

I spoke last week of faith being that which responds to the revelation which God at any time is pleased to make. If there were no revelation of God or of His ways towards man we must have been in moral darkness, and in darkness we might have wandered on through this world. Driven out of Paradise, man would simply have been in a world of darkness, but even in the early days of this world's history, God was pleased to give revelation to man which was enough to be light to him.

We saw three things in the verses we considered last week. One, the way in which man could approach God, though driven out of the garden where God walked; it was on the ground of sacrifice. Second, we saw in the history of Enoch that God has testified as to what pleased Him—that man should walk with Him; this followed upon Abel's sacrifice. In Enoch's translation came out the fact that man was for God. Enoch walked with God, and God took him. Thirdly, in Noah we get the world that then was judged, but a man and his family saved through the judgment, and becoming heir of the world (not of heavenly glory like Enoch). Faith in Noah had already, in preparing the ark, looked for the establishing of righteousness through judgment. Thus we come to the close of the history of that world.

In Abraham we open, so to speak, a new chapter in the history of faith. In the world before the flood there was no dispensational dealing of God, though the light of God in testimony was shining for man in those three witnesses, Abel, Enoch, and Noah. That world was not the sphere of God's dealings. Man pursued his own course, and Peter tells us the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished (2 Peter 3:6). Its history is over. What the same apostle calls "the heavens and the earth which are now," those we know to-day, are the scene of God's dispensational ways. Morally it is another world, that is, another state of things was introduced by God. God, so to speak, took the world in hand, not leaving it entirely to man's will, and He instituted government in Noah. On the ground of sacrifice, Abel had been counted righteous, but in Noah's sacrifice there is another point before us. God would act towards this world on the ground of the sweet savour of the sacrifice—not according to what man was, for the imagination of his heart is only evil continually. To the earth, which He had cursed for man's sake, He would now be propitious, and consequently, "While the earth remains, seed time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease," and so God's providential government goes on. If any thoughtful person considered the present situation of this world, he might feel that the Son of God having been crucified when sent of God into the world in love, nothing remained for it but to be swept away by the besom of destruction. But on the ground of the sweet savour of the sacrifice of Christ, as in Noah's day, God's providential goodness is still exercised in the world, and man, guilty as he is, partakes of it. His long-suffering is salvation. God acts from that point, namely, the sweet savour of Christ's sacrifice. That really was and is the ground of all His dealings dispensationally in this present world.

In the verses we are now considering, we have to look at them in connection with these dealings or ways of God with regard to the heavens and earth that are now. These ways contained certain elements of testimony which faith laid hold of. All testimony points to Christ, and all God's ways converge to Him as the Centre, and men of faith walked in them. Hence I think you will see a difference between the walk of Enoch and of Abraham. There were no public dispensations of God in the old world. Enoch could only look clean out of the world to heaven; the world was to him a corrupt scene going on to judgment. This we learn from Jude's Epistle (Jude 14, 15). The world in Enoch's mind was not at all the place of the dealings of God, but an apostate scene that was judged, and out of which he looked; a place where afterwards Noah provided an ark for the saving of his house when judgment came. Then he came forth into a renewed earth. We find Abraham then in a world that God had taken in hand to deal with. He had established government in Noah, and in a kind of way the earth bore the marks of God's favour, it was so far a better place to live in. Noah planted a vineyard. We do not read of luxuries before. The earth was fertile and God's covenant was with it. The rainbow in the heavens was the sign of God's covenant with earth, and we see this rainbow round the throne in the Book of Revelation. Moreover, flesh was given to man to eat. It was not so before.

But there is another side of the world Abraham had to walk in. The very goodness of God brought Noah under the power of present things; he planted a vineyard and became drunk. If a man cannot govern himself, he certainly cannot govern his fellow man, and he was dishonoured by his own son.

Then we find in what we may call Noah's world two principles at work, first, a man, Nimrod, who began to be mighty in the earth; and secondly, in the building the tower of Babel men combining to accomplish their own will. Both principles are working to-day, and both will be finally fully developed and judged in the Beast and Babylon. "Combine" is the great word of to-day. What is it for? To accomplish man's own ends. The question whether it pleases God is not asked. The whole thing is independency of God. Man naturally, while he may just acknowledge God in a formal way, does not know what it is to walk in simple-hearted dependence on Him. Man will insure his life or his property (I am not saying a word as to its being right or wrong, I am only saying what man does), he will do anything and everything to secure his own independence, but to really bend the knee to God, to walk with God in simple obedience is what a man of the world does not know, and alas, if we who are Christians get drawn into the ways of the world, we little know the pathway that Abraham trod through this world. The combination of men to be rich and great, and independent of God is entirely opposed to our call to be pilgrims and strangers in it.

In Nimrod there was the budding of the principle which is at work to-day as Imperialism. It may be one man with a strong will, or half-a-dozen men, it does not matter which. What is called the Government represents a central imperial authority which carries out its own will by dint of power. At present there are restraints, but it will come out at the end in the Beast who does according to his own will, and God is then entirely given up. As these principles are at work to-day the history of Abraham becomes very important for us as saints. Abraham was born when these principles had come in. God had been given up, and man's will had asserted itself in those two ways, and he had become idolatrous.

There is another thing which marked the history of God's ways with this world. God checked the independence of men by confounding their language, and scattering them abroad on the face of the earth. In result we get the earth divided among men according to their tongues, their families, and their nations. It was a providential ordering of the world under the government of God. He would not allow one great central city, and He scattered men. There does not seem to be any question with men as to the earth belonging to God, but all were taking their share and settling down as if it belonged to them. Thus the world was spread out, and all these nations and peoples will be represented at the close of this world's history. Now the call of Abraham was at that moment. God calls him out from his country, his kindred, and his father's house. It may be said that the nations and families out from which Abraham was called were providentially settled according to God's government, but it must be remembered that it was government in judgment. In Israel every tribe and family had a God-given inheritance. That cannot be said of the Gentiles. If I had an inheritance allotted to me by God directly, I could not sell it. That is why Naboth would not sell the inheritance of his fathers to Ahab. It was divinely given to his fathers. Abraham was to receive an inheritance directly from God. Come "unto a land that I will show thee." Our inheritance is laid up for us in heaven, on earth as Gentiles we had none. We can say that what is laid up for us in heaven is given of God.

It is a great thing to see the character of God's intervention in the course of this world by the call of Abraham. He is not only called out from it, but he becomes the depository of promise from God. The introduction of promise was an immense light in the darkness of a world departed from God, and to that light faith in Abraham responded. He had God's word, "I will bless thee." This was said when every man was doing well to himself. Not only so, but the Lord adds, "and thou shalt be a blessing . . . . and in thee shall all families of the earth (those he was called out of) be blessed."
It is a great thing when a man is conscious of the intervention of God in his history, though it be by a word that is addressed to all, as the gospel now is. It is thus we have to do with the blessed God; in the midst of the scene in which we are we have heard His voice. In some way the word of God took effect, and led us to the better choice where grace has made us free, and necessarily it separated us from the system of this world. I do not say that we each took the pathway as decidedly as Abraham, but still there was the obedience of faith. "Abraham, when he was called . . . . obeyed." That is the first thing here noted; it is subjection to the word of God who calls, not to the course of things in the world.
The principles of the world are always the same, though the way in which they are carried out may alter as its history goes on, but the world is the world still, and we Christians have been called out of it. We could hardly have explained to ourselves, or to anyone perhaps, how we heard His voice, but we did hear it, and we might hesitate to say that we obeyed as Abraham did. Yet there was obedience. It may take a long time with some of us to break with the things of the world which assert themselves, still it is a great moment for the soul when it is led to the better choice; it obeys. Abraham we are told removed first to Haran, he was detained there, but our scripture (Heb. 11) tells us that Abraham obeyed. That is how God saw it. There was a distinct link between the faith of Abraham and the God who called him. Then what sustained him was the promise, because in whatever way faith lays hold of God, it is always according to the light given.
Though promise can hardly be called a dispensation, yet the fathers walked in the light of promise. The voice that spoke to Saul came from the brightness of the glory that shone in Jesus. The effect of it was that faith linked his soul with the glorified Man in heaven. That was the start with Paul, but though we have the gospel of the glory, yet it was perhaps sometime before we had the sense that our links were with the glorified Saviour above. Yet the voice that reached us came really from the glory of God it is thence the gospel comes to us, though it may also tell us of the humiliation of the Son of God to death for us. Abraham got a link in the faith of his soul with the God of glory, and Paul got his link with the glory of God shining in the face of Jesus.

If we apprehend the height of our calling, we shall then see also the character of our inheritance. Abraham was called to go out into a place which he should afterwards receive for an inheritance. The inheritance is linked with the call. Abraham obeyed and went out, not knowing whither he went. We can hardly say that, though down here we might not have known what our path would be when we heard His voice, yet there was the thought that He would lead us through this world. Though Abraham knew not whither he went, yet God brought him to the land and showed him its extent, though as yet he did not possess it; and we can say that though as a matter of fact we are not actually there, yet that by the Spirit sent down from the glorified Man in heaven we know the place where Jesus is. We sing:
    And see the Spirit's power
    Has ope'd the heavenly door,
  Has brought us to that favoured hour,
    When toil shall all be 'o'er.

We are not there, we are on the way to it, but the Spirit has ope'd the heavenly door, that we may have the light of our portion before we get there. Abraham came to the land, and yet he looked for a better country, that is, a heavenly. Heaven and earth are ours, but though our inheritance will be over this world with Christ, yet our portion is strictly heavenly, the land that lies over Jordan, the inheritance laid up for us in heaven (Col. 1:5, 1 Peter 1:4). Christ's inheritance is over all things, He has been appointed Heir of all things. Besides that, He is even now Lord of all, and hence the Christian has a right to use the things that are here before the time when he will be associated with Christ in His inheritance over the earth, for "The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof." As yet we use them not as calling them our own, but as Abraham, we count ourselves to be strangers and pilgrims while the Canaanite is in the land. It is not strictly our inheritance, that is laid up in heaven. What marked Abraham, Isaac, and even Jacob was that they dwelt in tabernacles, heirs of the promise, but till the glory of God fills the earth, and sin and death no more reign, the heirs of promise walk as strangers and pilgrims.
It has often been noticed that Abraham was marked by having a tent and an altar. The altar was the place of communion. No doubt it could be so because of sacrifice offered on it. When God established the altar in Israel, it was indeed for sacrifice and offering, but also God said, "There will I meet with the children of Israel"; it was the meeting-place of God with His people, the place of their approach to Him. Having his altar enabled Abraham to live in the thoughts of God. Men live in the thoughts of men; a man of the world wants his newspaper every morning, there he gets the thoughts of men, and learns all that is going on in the world, all that interests men. Then there are books written which give more than passing events, they contain the more settled conclusions and convictions arrived at by the minds of men. If we have an apprehension of God's mind, we shall be able rightly to estimate the thoughts of men, but if people devote their time to imbibing the thoughts of men, they will have but little apprehension of the purpose and ways of God.

We have seen that with Enoch there was the testimony as to man quitting the earth and being with God. Enoch was translated—God took him. Then in Noah there was testimony as to the earth. God saved Noah through the flood, and brought the earth up out of the waters that had overflowed it. It was in such an earth that Abraham walked as a stranger, an earth which had become the sphere of God's dealings, and it was with these that Abraham was connected, not with the strivings of the potsherds of the earth, but he had his altar, and it was the place of his communion with God. It is true there were special moments when God communicated His mind to Abraham, but it was his habitual communion which qualified him for these special communications. This communion made him understand why God did not give him any inheritance in the land promised to him. The Canaanite was in the land, and he could not inherit a polluted scene; his seed would have it after 400 years when the iniquity of the Amorites had come to the full, while he himself was led to look for the "city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God," and to desire "a better country, that is, an heavenly." It is a great thing to understand how a man like Abraham, who found himself in a world brought up out of the flood, with the earth rendered propitious, and men spread abroad on the face of it, and having promises made to him, could walk as a stranger and pilgrim in it, looking for a better country that is an heavenly. He was in habitual communion with the God who appeared to him. His altar told that.

I do not think any of us can live in the truth of the heavenly calling unless we are in communion with the thoughts of God, and consequently walk as strangers and pilgrims here. Man has the idea now that God is going to better the world by means of Christianity they think it is going to make its way in the earth, forgetful that it has fallen from its high estate—I speak of Christianity as it has been corrupted in the hands of men. No doubt, in the sphere where it has been received it has greatly modified things, and people do not do the terrible things of the heathen world in an open way. There is not so much cruelty, and if nations make war they try and carry it out on the most humane principles they can. But are these the thoughts of God? Ah! no, nor will God allow the name of Christ to be coupled with the system of this world. I believe that we who know better are greatly influenced by earthly things, and too much live in the current of human thought. We know the doctrine of the coming of the Lord, and that it will subvert the whole system of this world, and bring into it blessing of a heavenly order, but does such a thought govern us!
If we really brought the thought of the Lord's coming to bear upon our lives, what a difference it would make. Suppose it were possible for the heavens to open, and all the blessedness of heaven to shine out upon this world. What would men feel? I should have to add the supposition that Satan was bound, as he will be in the millennium, so that there was no opposing element acting on men's minds. Would, they not say, All that we have been living in has been perfect darkness as to the mind and thoughts of God. How it would reveal the selfishness and evil which governs the world as built up according to man. What a revolution it would make! Now it is our privilege to live in the light of heaven, and to be in communion with the thoughts of God. They all centre in Jesus, in Him who died that He might bring in redemption. When the Lord Jesus Christ was in the midst of men—men living in selfishness and sin—God could look down upon Him and say, "This is my beloved Son." He sent that One into the world that men might live by Him, that they might know a life in Christ that was not of the world.

But there is more; communion with the thoughts of God enables us to look up into the glory where God has set the Man of His counsels, in whom everything centres, and by whom all His purpose is to be brought to pass, the One who is to give character to everything. What an effect it would have on us if we lived in the thoughts of God. We hear His voice saying of Him when here, "This is my beloved Son," and now He is there all His glory shines in His face. It will be a great thing for earth when the light and blessedness that is known in heaven where Jesus is shines out on it. But we shall be where Jesus is, we belong to that heavenly country, the country Abraham desired. Let me put it another way. The world, will see the shining of the heavenly Jerusalem, like to a stone most precious, but it does not see the inside. Now we belong to the inside, the place from whence the glory of God shines out. Of that we can say:
    There only to adore,
  My soul its strength may find.
Having the sense of this creates in us the same desire as with Abraham. We should desire that heavenly country, and look for the city which has foundations, as those who belong to both though still down here. Abraham did not know either as we do. The great thing to him was that in regard to the city its "builder and maker is God." He saw Messiah's day upon earth, but he desired a heavenly country, he will be where all the blessing flows from with which all the nations are to be blessed.

Not only have we to take the path of strangers and pilgrims down here, but there is another path along which the faith of Abraham travelled as taught of God—the path of death and resurrection. God builds nothing up on the ground of flesh. All flesh is grass, and withers, but the glory of God has been manifested in resurrection. Jesus was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, and at the grave of Lazarus He said to Martha, "Said I not unto thee that if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?" God rolled in upon Abraham the sentence of death. Isaac had come into Abraham's tent and brought joy, he was the child of holy laughter, but God bade Abraham take his only son and offer him up for a burnt-offering on a mountain that God would show him.
What a three days' journey was that! It was no sudden nerving himself to a superhuman effort, but a journey taken in the faith of the God of resurrection. I need hardly say that the offering up of Isaac was figurative of Christ as known after the flesh having to be surrendered, that He may be known in resurrection life and power. This peculiarly belongs to the experience of the Jewish remnant, but there is a like experience with Christians. With many a one the grace of Christ as come down here in the flesh is known and enjoyed, but He is no longer here, and we have to seek Him out in His own country, whither He went through death and resurrection, and this means for us that we have to accept the fellowship of His death. Mary of Bethany learnt the lesson when her brother died, but He who was the resurrection and the life walked by her side to the grave where the glory of God was made known to her in resurrection.

Abraham had thus found himself in the company of the God of resurrection, but he had to take that three days' journey, in order that he might learn God's wonderful redemption plan, which places our possession of all blessing on resurrection ground. It is beautiful to see how God leads us on that road, He helps us on it by bringing us morally into accord with the truth of Christ's death and resurrection. He has gone that road even as the ark went into Jordan before the people stepped into it, and thus they passed over dry shod. God leads us, and Christ is our stay and support, as well as the Object before us. Israel in a later day will have to go that way, it will be for them the great tribulation. God will use that which is judgment to the ungodly for the discipline of the remnant, and for their separation from the hopes of flesh, that they may find all in Him who went into death and rose again.

In conclusion, I ask you to remember what has been before us as to the call of God—what it is to hear the voice of the Lord amid all the Babel of voices in this world—to have a distinct sense of the grace of God having spoken to your soul of Christ to draw you after Him. In Abraham we get the pathway of faith out of and through a world settled and ordered according to man's will. It is well to learn what is in God's mind for us. May we be enabled to go along the path with the God of our calling—the God of resurrection. The call of God attaches us to Him as made known to us in Christ. Then we get His support. How often has some fresh sense of His grace gathered from His word been our comfort and stay, and kept us close to His trusted side. There we get communion with the thoughts of God—all of them in connection with Christ. What will He not do for His beloved Son! We get to know our heavenly portion—the things which God has prepared for them that love Him, for all comes to us through association with Him who died and rose again.

Heavenly and Earthly
Hebrews 11:20-27.

I think we shall find in looking further into this chapter that there is a kind of division between the portion we considered last time and the verses I have read to-night. In Abraham, and also in Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise, the great characteristic was that they walked as strangers and pilgrims in the land of promise. True, Jacob was a wanderer from the land, but he returns to it, and our chapter speaks both of him and his father Isaac as having the same character, dwelling in tabernacles and seeking a country.

In Joseph we have one separated from his brethren and from the land of promise. His life is spent among the Egyptians, and he rises to be head of the Gentiles, a figure of Christ refused by Israel, but acknowledged by the Gentiles. What is here spoken of with regard to him is that he made mention of the departing of the children of Israel. The faith of Joseph looked forward to the earthly people going back to their land, whatever they might possess among the Gentiles. And in this I see a difference between Joseph in his official position, and Joseph on his death bed. In his official position he represented Christ as Head of the Gentiles, but on his death bed his thoughts are away in the land of promise. Officially he belonged to Egypt, personally he is one of the people of God with a hope in Canaan. You get this constantly in the Old Testament, and now, too, we see the difference between some servant of God in what we may call his official position, and what he is in his personal relations with the blessed God.
We may see servants of God whose service has come to a close, and they are conscious that their official position, their service in which they were sustained of God, has come to an end. Then what is left? Their own personal relationship to the Saviour. They have done with service here, and their faith is occupied with all that is theirs in common with all saints through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. It is the difference between Paul the servant, and Paul the saint ready to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.
On his deathbed we do not see Joseph as lord of Pharaoh's substance, but as one of Israel's sons away from the place of promise, that is what is before Joseph's mind, great as his glory had been in Egypt. He does not want to have his bones laid in one of the grand sepulchres of Egypt, but he would have them taken to the place where his own personal relationships to God's calling and people occupied the faith of his soul. One may be thankful to the Lord, deeply thankful, to be permitted of Him to serve the saints or minister His word in any way, but our personal relations to the Lord and to His people as fellow saints, are another thing. The servant has to fulfil the ministry entrusted to him, but at the Lord's supper he sits among his fellow-believers with the same common sense of privilege and blessing, and when the moment comes that service has to be laid aside, then there remains for us only that which is common to all saints, our personal relation to the Lord.

Now it is very clear, I think, that any ministry must depend as to its exercise very much on the state of those ministered to. Joseph's official position was such that he ministered not only to the well-being of the Egyptians, but through God's over-ruling hand to the state of his brethren in poverty and sin. A servant now would seek to lead the saints into heavenly realities, and the truth connected with the heavenly Man, but when his service is over towards the saints down here, then his heart turns to heaven. Joseph's heart turned to the land of promise, his service in Egypt was over, and he made mention of the departing of the children of Israel, much as a dying servant or saint would speak of the anticipation of the rapture of the saints to be for ever with the Lord. That is why I said that Joseph's history forms a dividing link between the faith of those who though in the land were still heirs of promise, and the earthly people who were away in the land of Egypt, and were brought out thence by redemption, faith in Moses taking up their condition and its necessities. The redemption of the people does not form our subject to-night, but I want to take up two points which come out in the history of faith, and I look to the Lord that we may get from their consideration what will greatly help us in the path of faith.

One point is the way in which faith apprehends the thought of God for us; and the other our actual life upon earth, and the place consequently which faith would take with regard to fellow-saints down here. The thought of God for each one is association with Christ in the heavenly position He has taken. He has taken a place in heaven in virtue of accomplished redemption, and the thought of God is that He should have companions in that heavenly position. And herein is the difference between Abraham and the heirs of promise called out from their own country, and yet having no present links with the country to which they were called; and Christians who have a heavenly calling, but also links with the country to which we are called; because the Lord Jesus is there. It is said of Abraham, "not knowing whither he went"; but the Lord said to His disciples, "Whither I go ye know, and the way ye know." In knowing Him we know the place, for He gives it its character, and He is the way to it. We know it all because we know the blessed Person who is gone there.

Now if we have links with Christ in heaven, we have also our links with God's people upon earth, and these two things form the life of the saints. This double character which the life in the saints takes is I feel of great importance. We see it in Galatians 2:19. There the apostle says, "I through the law am dead to the law that I might live unto God." That is the one side of christian life, "that I might live unto God." A person might say, I shall never fully do that until I am in heaven. That may be. But it was the object before the apostle, "that I might live unto God." The law was a rule for man in the flesh, but man could not live by that, and Paul realised that the law had killed him. Through law he was dead to the law. Then he goes on to tell us how he realised his death to the law. "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live"; and it is a great thing when our minds are brought into accord with the cross of Christ, not only realising that there atonement was made for us, but that there Jesus died out of this world where sin reigned, and where man was only a law breaker because of sin in the flesh. The Lord is no longer here. He has been crucified. I cannot know Christ here, for He is not here. I could not call Him mine here, but I can call Him mine in heaven. "In that he lives, he lives to God," and His life is our life. When the Lord spoke to Mary Magdalene after His resurrection, she thought she had the desire of her heart to have Him back here in the circumstances of this life, and she evidently desired to hold Him. Then He said, "Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father." That is where He was going. He is not among things here; our hearts must go to heaven for Him, and if that be so then by the Spirit's power we can have Him in our hearts. The apostle fully realised in his mind that he was crucified with Christ, and that there was an end of every link with Him in the flesh, and that by the cross he was dead to sin, the law, and the world, so that he might live to God.

If I were to ask anyone here, Do you realise your relationship to the blessed God? I do not mean, merely that He has shown you grace and brought to you salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ, but that you have been brought to Him in Christ, so that you might live to Him. Can you look up to Him in the consciousness that what Christ is up there in His presence determines your relationship with His Father and God?

When Christians look at themselves, they often do not know where they are. It is not that they doubt the efficacy of the precious blood of Christ, or that they will be in heavenly glory, but as to their present relationship to the blessed God, they are often in a maze. It is not in looking within that one is helped. It is what Christ is up there, and His relationship to His God and Father which become the spring of living to God by the Spirit. What a wonderful thing to be able to look up to Christ in the glory of God—a glorified Man in righteousness there, as well as the Son, and yet Man, with the Father—and to know that my relations with the blessed God are determined by Him. In this we see the difference between Abraham and Paul. The life of Paul was Christ, "Christ lives in me." Abraham could not say that. Paul lived to God because Christ was his life. It was the life of Christ in him which looked up into its own sphere where Christ is in the presence of God. Our relationship in which we live to God is all determined by Christ's presence there. Nothing of what Paul was entered into that, Christ was everything. It is so for us.

That is one part of christian life, and in that it is possible, as with Paul, to be outside of one's self; and inside with God. At the time the life of flesh which has its seat in the body may be lost sight of, but actually we are living down here in flesh, and hence Paul says, In that I live in flesh, I live by faith, that which is of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me. Paul knew, as a man walking down here in flesh, One in heaven who loved him and gave Himself for him, and Paul walked and lived down here entirely in reference to that Person. His whole life in flesh was governed by an Object outside of himself. It was a great thing to say, but it showed how completely a Person in heaven governed and controlled Paul's life in flesh.

But there is another thing. We are not left here in the life of flesh to walk in isolation. I have to walk in faith, in the sense of the love of Christ. But Christ has loved others beside myself consequently I find myself in relationship to the people of God down here, and who more or less are walking in the faith of the One who loved them. The two things which marked the pathway of the Lord down here are given us in Psalm 16.
The opening verse gives the utterance of One who put His trust in God. "Preserve me, O God, for in thee do I put my trust." Then at the close faith still counts upon God, "Thou wilt not leave my soul in Sheol; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt show me the path of life." From first to last the path of the Lord was one of faith in God. He speaks to Jehovah and says, "O my soul, thou hast said unto Jehovah, Thou art my Lord; my goodness extends not to thee." He did not claim equality though it was His. He had taken the place of man and made Himself of no reputation, taking upon Him the form of a servant. Hence as a blessed Man He looked up to Jehovah saying "Thou art my Lord." There never was any faltering in the path He had entered on—always unbroken communion with His Father. That was always first, and it is the first part of our christian life. We look up to a glorified Man in heaven, and walk down here in reference to Him, He has loved us and given Himself for us.
Secondly, the Lord said to the saints and the excellent of the earth, as they were in His sight, "In whom is all my delight." Jesus walked down here in company with poor fishermen of Galilee. They were His delight, wonderful to say, for the Father had drawn them to Him, and what is to come out in us is "unfeigned love of the brethren," "love, to all saints." What we see in Moses is just this, "He chose to suffer affliction with the people of God," and what were they? Poor brick-makers. If we take the path of faith, our privilege is to be associated in spirit with His path. We lift our hearts in faith to a Person in heaven, in whom also we live to God, and down here we walk with the saints in love. Our hearts go out to the people of God, whether in affluence, or poverty, or distress. They may be in reproach, but if it is for Christ's sake, it is the reproach of Christ, and Moses esteemed that greater treasure than the riches of Egypt. What a privilege he afterwards found it to be; and with us what greater privilege can there be, next to having Christ for our Object, than to serve the saints and love them, with Christ's love in our hearts for them. He found us all among the pots, and He took us up to make us vessels to His everlasting praise.
Christ, in becoming man, not only presented the grace of God to poor sinners, but He called one and another to Himself, and He became everything to them. The moment there was the work of God in any soul, there was an object of interest to Christ. To Him they were the excellent of the earth in whom He delighted. Poor they might be in themselves, but He could fill them from His fulness. What should we be if we did not receive out of His fulness? What would our meetings be if in them there was not with us the realisation of what we have in the precious Lord Jesus Christ. It may need some measure of intelligence to follow a lecture or the opening out of scripture, but all saints can taste the blessing of belonging to Christ, because there is the realisation of His fulness and of the interest He has in them. Hence we have to embrace all saints in our thoughts as precious to Christ, and find companionship, as Moses did, with the people of God in their time of affliction and suffering, while at the same time in something of the like faith of Abraham we can look up, as He looked forward, into the sphere of promise and purpose where the Lord Jesus now is, as being linked by the Spirit to Him there.

Having thus, brought before you these two points exemplified in Abraham and Moses, I would say a few words as to that which fills up the gap. It is very evident that there are two subjects in scripture, the ways of God, of which Israel, God's earthly people, was the centre; and His purposes in Christ before the world was, and here the church comes in. In these two ways Isaac and Jacob come before us. Isaac's history figuratively lies outside of the course of this world. He failed, but in it was set forth the church as belonging to Christ dead and risen. That is not the point mentioned here, but that he blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. But before touching on that I would like to say a word on the bearing of these two subjects on ourselves, that is, on the purpose of God and the ways of God.
We may at one time be occupied with the place that God has given us in Christ, all secured to us according to purpose by Christ's death and resurrection. And at another time our hearts may be deeply sensible of the way in which God has led us, and of the ten thousand mercies that have come to us on the way. We realise how He directed us at the beginning of our christian course, so that we found the company of the saints and did not go on with the world. His continued grace and guidance fill our hearts with deepest praise and thanksgiving. We could then take up the doxology in the end of Romans 11 in our measure, and say that His ways with us are past finding out. "For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things, to whom be glory for ever. Amen." That doxology fully celebrates His ways, of which Israel is the great centre.
There is another doxology at the close of Ephesians 3. It is connected with the eternal purpose of God in the church, "Unto him be glory in the church by Jesus Christ throughout all ages, world without end." Not only does the exceeding wealth of God's grace fill the church to the full, but its very character and formation will be to His glory for ever. We are in a wonderful day, it is the day of the calling of the church according to the purpose of God, but individually and even with regard to the church in its responsible position down here, we are subjects of the ways of God. Here the wisdom of God comes out in His dealings with us. Do you not think it will be for praise and glory to God when we rehearse in heaven His wonderful ways with us on earth? Christ is the great Unfolder of those ways as He is the Centre of all God's counsel. The Church is so set in relation to Christ in heaven, that in realising its place we might be like those on the top of the mountains in Switzerland, who are in the sunshine, and see the clouds and storms below them. They are not in them. Israel belongs to the scene below, and we read of them, "We went through fire and water but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place." Individually we may know something of that discipline, but the true calling and place of the church is above. Individually we have each to learn the lesson of death and resurrection, and this is the great end of the ways of God with us.

We might look with some surprise on the fact that Isaac should have blessed Esau. I do not doubt that it represents God allowing the blessings of this world to come to those who refused blessing in God's way. Esau had to live by his sword. It was all his own energy, and at the end his brother's yoke would be broken from his neck. This is totally different from a Christian; his blessing lies in taking Christ's yoke. The blessing of Esau would have lain in being subject to Jacob the heir of promise. Esau got the fatness of the earth and the dew of heaven, but he was an apostate, and in him the ways of God with apostate flesh wherever it is found were developed. In Jacob, on the contrary, we get the ways of God in holy government and discipline. He was a saint, an heir of the promises connected with the earth. He had to learn the lesson of death and resurrection, by God rolling death in upon him in many ways. Abraham and Isaac learned it on mount Moriah. Jacob learned it through a life of discipline and sorrow.

There are to be a people blessed on earth, and Gentiles will be blessed with Israel. The vision which Jacob saw at the outset of his course showed the place Israel would have. The vision of the ladder will be made good in the Son of man (see John 1:51), and Christ, as the Head of all principality and power, will minister heavenly blessing to His earthly people, but it will be "the gate of heaven" for them. Afterwards we see Israel assembling at the door of the tabernacle, while the sanctuary was the place for Aaron and his sons. Israel will thus form a link with heaven, as blessed by Christ from thence, for the nations around. In the account of Solomon's temple we read of a porch. It was not the temple, though connected with it; nor was it the court outside, but it was a link between the two—I have no doubt the place of administration of that which was within to those who were without.
To trace all the ways of God for His glory and for blessing to heaven and earth is most interesting, and brings out from His people worship and praise. In Revelation 14 we see a company with the Lamb on Mount Sion—they had learned God's ways through their being associated with the suffering Lamb; they are not in heaven, but they are near enough to heaven to learn the song of heaven, and thus they form a connecting link between earth and heaven. In a certain way we now answer to it. We are united to Christ by the Spirit, and have our place in heaven, and yet as being down here we are able to catch the notes of heaven by the same Spirit, and thus the streams of heaven overflow in our souls, and flow out in testimony here. How poorly this is realised now, but it will be fully so in that day when Christ will order everything both in heaven and on earth.

I have already spoken of Joseph, when dying, making mention of the departing of the children of Israel. In Moses' faith we see that it was this which was before him. The people though in Egypt did not belong to Egypt, and God would move for their deliverance. When God takes up a servant, He deals with him in order to fit him for the service with which He entrusts him. The Israelites were to be brought out from their position in Egypt as Moses was drawn out of the river. That was the beginning. Then further he learned the power and loving-kindness of God at the burning bush. Israel was like a bramble bush in the midst of tribulation, but unconsumed because Jehovah was there.
There is a kind of analogy to baptism in the faith of Moses' parents; they saw that he was a proper child, that is, they had faith in God as to him, that he belonged to the promise of God, and not to the brick-fields of Egypt. The child was hidden three months, and then committed to the waters of death in an ark of bulrushes, and there God takes up the child by means of the highest lady in the land. In baptizing a child a parent owns that there is no hope for his child in this world, but that by identifying it with the death of Christ in a figure, he connects it with the hopes of the people of God to whom he belongs. Let me ask those who are parents, Do you see your children in connection with the salvation of God effected in the death of Christ, and with the thoughts of God consequent on redemption? With Moses it was earthly blessing, with Christians it is heavenly. When Moses came to years of discretion, he answered to the faith of his parents. There were bright prospects before him in this world, and he might have judged that he could have helped his brethren by the power of Pharaoh. Not so; his parents had in their faith linked him with God and His promises to the fathers, and Moses took his place with the people of God, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.

Oh! that it might be more so with us. Do we look at the people of God with the eyes of God? To men, the Israelites were poor slaves, brick-makers, to Moses they were the people of God. We want to see them as Balaam did in the vision of the Almighty, to look at them in connection with Christ and the purpose of God in Him. Are our hearts lighted up with the thought that all that God has purposed will surely come out in His people, made good by power divine? All is Yea and Amen in Christ to God's glory by them, and all depending on the redemption wrought by Him in the cross and resurrection of Christ What poor creatures we are in ourselves! But how does God look at us? If He looked at us according to what we actually are, what would He see? But He looks at us as believers in His dear Son. He sees all our guilt and sin, all our unloveliness met in the cross, and in His mind we are connected with the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. If we thus looked at the people of God we should not be insensible to what is contrary to God's calling in them or ourselves, but we would like to live and die with them and for them.

We can thank God that in looking at Christ in heaven, faith can enter into the whole range of God's purposes in Christ, and we can look at the saints down here as those whom He has redeemed and is bringing to glory by Christ. Oh! thank God that it is so. Thank Him for the grace in which He has acted towards us in Christ, and according to which He leads us in company with all saints to the place He has purposed for us.

Deliverance from the World-System and Entrance into the Inheritance
Hebrews 11:27; 12:2, 22-24.

In speaking of Moses last time, I pointed out the way in which he chose his "own company." He chose to suffer affliction with the people of God. I also pointed out two principles on which faith walks while in this world. The first is that God, and now we can say the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven, is the Object of faith. In the second place faith finds companionship with the people of God. These two principles are often brought together in scripture. We have seen it in Abraham and Moses. There is a passage in John's Epistle (1 John 3:23) where we read, "And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment." A commandment is not in the New Testament a legal enactment, but the communication to us of God's pleasure, of His will with regard to us; and a Christian, as taught to know and love God delights in the inner man in the communication of His will.
The disciples of the Lord believed in Him when He was on earth, and could we have asked them as to the character of their faith, I think they would have said that they believed in Jesus as the sent One of God. Then there came a moment when He whom the Father had sent into the world left the world and went away to the Father. Then faith had to take a new direction, they had to believe in Him as glorified on high. So the Lord said, "Ye believe in God, believe also in me." No longer present with them, He would be the Object of their faith in heaven. The will of God is (as expressed in John's Epistle) that our hearts should go out in faith to One in heaven, to His own blessed Son who is glorified there and on the other hand His pleasure is that we should seek the company of the saints down here, and be knit together in love with them.

Now in verses 28 and 29 of our chapter another most important point comes before us in the history of faith, the deliverance of the people of God, by redemption out of the world-system. "Through faith he (Moses) kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood." No doubt each one of us has to learn individually the value of the blood as typified for us in the passover lamb, but our passage goes further. It shows us a people sheltered by God from His holy judgment, as we read, "lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them." We have not here a man walking in faith, as Abraham did, in the midst of the seven nations of Canaan, a stranger and pilgrim among them, but a man like Moses brought up in Egypt, and conscious of a great world-system which held the people of God in bondage.
With us there are like experiences; we may walk among the people of this generation as those who through grace have a heavenly call and inheritance, realising that we are pilgrims and strangers among them; but we must also be conscious that there is a great world-system, having both its imperial and religious sides, which will come under judgment in both these characters at the end. In that day God will seal and shelter a people that they may know His deliverance, while the combined world-system, the Beast and Babylon, is destroyed. In the midst of the men of this world, thank God, we are permitted to know the company of the saints and to walk with them, but we must be conscious, not only that there are men of this age or generation, but of a world-system which is the result of men under Satan's influence acting according to their own will. Lawlessness, alas, is found even among God's people.
There was in Moses' day the dominating power of Pharaoh, but in a later day we read of the Egyptians (Isa. 19:10)* "they shall be broken in the purposes thereof"; the word really signifies the pillars or foundations (see margin) of Egypt's commercial prosperity, which lay in its river (ver. 5); its agriculture and manufactures would be smitten. Revelation 18 shows us the judgment of God on the commercial system of this world as that which ministers to the pride and pleasure of the world. Men are dazzled to-day by the glory of power, by the tinsel of Babylon, and by the wealth and pleasure consequent on commercial prosperity. Thus men are in bondage to the world-system, as Israel was.
{*The only other place is Ps. 11: "If the foundations be destroyed," etc.}

Now it was in God's mind to deliver His people out of the world-system of that day, and what comes before us in the history in Exodus is the direct intervention of God in judgment. It is not merely that each one of us has to give account of himself to God, and consequently that we need to know individually the shelter of the precious blood of Christ; but in these verses we see that God came in to deal with the world-system in judgment. "I will pass through the land of Egypt this night." He will again deal with things in this world, and I have no doubt that it will be, as it was of old in Egypt, that His earthly people will be found in captivity to the world-system, and that such a state of things will bring about the final judgment.
In the Book of Revelation things come to this pass, that the testimony to God's rights in the earth is borne in sackcloth. It is, so to speak, a prophetic testimony and not a present testimony. The church is set to be a present testimony of a people delivered from this present evil world, associated with the blessed and heavenly Man who is not of this world, and awaiting their translation from earth to heaven as the consummation of the delivering power in Christ. At the same time, we cannot shut our eyes to the fact that we see the state of things fast approaching which God will have to deal with in judgment. We see the professing church getting more and more under the power of the world, swamped by its politics, its fascination, or its prosperity. Still there is a present testimony to Christ, and I believe will be till He comes, by those who know more or less deliverance through His death and resurrection; because His Spirit is here, and the gates of hades cannot prevail against the effectual work of Christ in souls. The rapture of the church will be an immense testimony as to the apostate character of the world-system, in that God takes His saints out of it, and then the prophetic testimony begins.

I have spoken thus because I want that it should be seen that the passover goes wider in its bearing than the shelter of individual souls, and that we have God beginning to deal with a state of things. One point comes specially before us, the separation which is made between His people and the Egyptians. He destroyed all the firstborn in Egypt, but He sheltered His people. There is the first point of separation. The Israelites were as much sinners as the Egyptians before God, and in this last plague it was no longer the rod of Moses smiting the Egyptians with providential judgments which did not touch the Israelites, but God Himself passed through the land, and of Moses it is said, "Through faith he kept the passover." There was in Moses the full bowing for himself and the people to the holy requirements of righteousness. God was going to settle things, and He provides a way of safety, and faith bows to it. He tells them of the passover lamb, and Moses, whose rod smote the Egyptians, keeps the passover and the sprinkling of blood.

I would ask each one here, Do you know the precious blood of Christ, not only as meeting your individual need as a sinner, but also as the separation between the people of God and the world? It not only shelters from judgment, but places us before God in righteousness as those redeemed by it from the world. It is the blood of redemption which separates us from the world, and by it we are redeemed to God. The separation will be complete and entire for us, as it was with Enoch, by our being caught up to heaven. That is the peculiarity of the separation of the church. It will be the portion of the church to walk with Christ in white, and this is given as a special promise to the overcomer in Sardis, but it belongs to the church to come with Christ in linen garments clean and white, the mark of her separation from the world as a chaste virgin for Christ. Let me ask again, Do you see this world as a system which has morally been judged by God? When the Lord Jesus Christ died, did He say, There are perishing sinners in the world, I will shed my blood for them that their sins may be pardoned? He did indeed do that. But He said, "Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the prince of this world be cast out; and I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." Ah! beloved friends, see how the judgment of this world, and the drawing men to Christ come together in His cross. I know the precious blood of Christ is the covering for a guilty soul, but I know also that it is the blood of redemption which separates from that world which is morally judged by His cross.

Now the actuality of deliverance on God's part took place for Israel at the Red Sea. There His separating judgment actually took place, as it did morally in the passover. "By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land; which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned." Israel is delivered and the Egyptians overwhelmed by the judgment of God. Let us see the bearing of this. What had taken place was that every question which could be raised between Israel and God had been settled, so that instead of God being a Judge to Israel He was a Saviour. He was for them. To the Egyptians, unsheltered by blood, He was still a Judge—they were in high-handed rebellion against Him, and they ventured on the path which God had opened for His blood-sheltered people, only to be overthrown as lead in the mighty waters. And are there not a vast number of the men of this world who are venturing to meet death and judgment, apart from Christ and redemption, only to be overwhelmed in death as the judgment of God?

Now I would like to ask another question. Do you know that God is for you? Do you know Him as a Redeemer God? What took place after the passover was that God went with His blood-sheltered people in a pillar of cloud and of fire. He was for them, not against them, their light and their salvation; and thus they pass out of Egypt and from under the power of Pharaoh in company with their Redeemer God. When we know that God is for us, we move along under "the cloud of His protecting love," and pass the sea in safety. The Egyptians assayed to do this. There are many who say, Did not Christ die for all? it is all right with us; everyone will have the benefit of His death. And so they assay to pass the overwhelming sea of death and judgment, they think it will be dry land for them. But they have never known the blood of redemption, they have never known a Saviour God, and yet they think they are taking the right road, as the Egyptians thought to follow Israel. They go to a place of worship, perhaps take the sacrament, and are upright men of the world, and think that all will be well, only to find themselves lost at the end.

It is by the Spirit bringing us into accord with that which was effected in the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, where He underwent the judgment of God and annulled the power of death, that we realise that we no more belong to the world of judgment. Do you believe that the system of this world has been judged in the cross, that there all the principles which govern it were totally condemned? It is so difficult to believe that this world, which outwardly appears to be so prosperous, with everything in it for man's convenience and use that civilisation can produce, is really going on to meet the judgment of God. The people of God so little apprehend that it is already morally judged as a system opposed to God in its principles; consequently they are swamped in it, and the thought of heaven is but little before them, save that it is a place whither they hope to go when they die; but their present place of association with a heavenly Christ is but little known or entered into. We have many witnesses in scripture that God will deal with the world in judgment, but perhaps none more striking than that which delivered Israel from Egypt. In knowing the cross and resurrection of Christ, we by the Spirit enter into the deliverance which was effected there.

It is not a little remarkable that we get no other example of faith given to us after the passage of the Red Sea, until we come to the overthrow of Jericho. The wilderness history is dropped out, nor do we read of the crossing of Jordan. All that is experience and not faith. In crossing Jordan they realised what faith sang of on the shore of the Red Sea; it was the end of the wilderness history, and the introduction to Canaan. There it is that the history of faith goes on, and they act in the power of God's deliverance, which now they fully realised. They had carried Egypt in their hearts all through the wilderness, and hence their deliverance from Egypt, and God's judgment on the Egyptians had not been realised till they crossed Jordan, and the reproach of Egypt was rolled away. At Jericho the power of the enemy had to be met in another way. It was put forth now to prevent the people of God from entering into Canaan—the inheritance given to them of God. For us it represents the opposition of Satan to our association with Christ in the heavenly places.

If we consider the fall of Jericho as the overthrow of the power of the enemy, so that Israel might enter on their inheritance, to my mind it introduces to our notice a most interesting point, that there was not in it a mere typical meaning for us, but that God at that moment began to take possession of the earth; and what He began to do in that day will finally be accomplished when the seventh apocalyptic trumpet is sounded, and it is said, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever." (Rev. 11:15). On the typical side, Jericho represents the concentration of the power of darkness in this world, energised by Satan, against the heavenly portion of the saints. The heavenly places are lighted up with the presence of the glorified Man who is there. There the glory of God shines in the face of Jesus. The world is really a system of darkness, and of opposition to the radiancy of Christ's glory which is yet to shine forth for it. Now saints are in heavenly light.
In the actual history the fall of Jericho is a thing of the past; but the effect remains. What was said when the ark passed on towards Jordan was this, "Behold the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth passes over before you into Jordan." Mark the title, "Lord of all the earth." Under that title God laid claim to that one bit of land. When the ark went into Jordan the waters fled. "What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou fleddest? thou Jordan, that thou wast driven back? Tremble, thou earth, at the presence of the Lord." Jehovah then took possession of that bit of land. The ark was carried round the walls of Jericho, and the priests blew with trumpets of rams' horn. They proclaimed the rights and title of the Lord of all the earth, and when the patient yet perfect proclamation had been fully rendered, the walls fell down flat, and the stronghold of the power of man against the rights of God in Israel was overthrown.

Men may have forgotten that such a thing ever took place, as God entering upon His earthly inheritance and overthrowing the stronghold of the enemy, but He has not forgotten, and though it be now trodden down of the Gentiles that land is a burdensome stone to all who touch it, for it is the Lord's, and He will yet claim the whole world as His possession. "Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen (or Gentiles) for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession."

In Rahab we have the faith of a Gentile, who before the walls of Jericho fell down, identified herself with the people of God, and separated herself from her own nation, as unbelievers in the rights of God to the inheritance, to have her portion in Israel. She typically represents the Gentile owning the God of Israel and being blessed with Israel.

The succeeding verses show us men of faith who saw the calling of Israel to be the people of God, and acted in the faith of it, though as a matter of fact Israel never did inherit or find rest in the land, as we read, "If Jesus (Joshua) had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day." The real fact is, that nothing can be brought fully into blessing until resurrection has put the heavenly saints into their possession. God has provided a better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.
Then comes the exhortation in Hebrews 12 for us to run with patience the race set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of faith. All the witnesses of chap. 11 were those who in faith looked beyond circumstances and present things, and though it was dimly seen, yet more or less they relied on God and found all flesh to be as grass; and it is evident that with many they looked for the power of God in resurrection. They were enabled to trace the ways of God, and to see what God had before Him and would accomplish. We are exhorted to look away to Jesus; it does not mean that we are to look away from the cloud of witnesses, but that Jesus is to be our undivided Object; we look in faith the same way that they looked, away from present things, but what our eyes are to be fixed upon is Jesus who has gone out of the whole range of present things where He suffered and died, and by resurrection has reached the right hand of the throne of God. This epistle opens up to us what was but dimly before the great cloud of witnesses. Heaven is opened to us, and we see One who passed through all the circumstances (which sin, and the holy government of God in consequence of sin, had made necessary for the perfection of God's way in mercy to be displayed), without wavering in His confidence in the God of resurrection (as we see in Psalm 16), and He is set down at the very centre of a system of heavenly glory which is yet to shine out in power and blessing.

People may say when will it all be displayed? How has it been waited for through ages and generations! One and another has walked in faith and waited, and waited; and still we wait. The great thing is for us to look up into heaven and see the One who has gone the whole way to the right hand of the throne of God. Things are not altered here, but heaven is opened to us as it was to Stephen. We see the world-system going on, but Jesus said, "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." Satan presented its attractions, and they were refused, then he raised up its enmity and there was nothing in Him but obedience even to death. And now we see Him patiently sitting at the right hand of the throne of God, while we are disciplined down here in the path in which He walked.

But that is not all. I read the verses in the middle of chap. 12 because they show us the whole system of grace and glory that will take the place of the present world-system. Mount Sion is first introduced to our notice; it is put in contrast with Sinai. It represents the establishment of grace in power and blessing, as we read, "So might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord." When everything was ruined in Israel under the system of law and priesthood, the ark of God taken, the priests slain, and Ichabod (the glory is departed) written on the nation, God first maintained a prophetic testimony by Samuel, and after setting Saul aside raised up David, the victor over Goliath, to feed and shepherd His people. David placed the ark on Zion and set Levites before it to Praise the Lord for He is good, for His mercy endures for ever. God's loving-kindness and mercy came in by one man, David, according to His own election, and Zion became the place of Jehovah's rest. "Arise, O Lord, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength," Everything is now established in One Man, our Lord Jesus Christ in the sovereignty of grace.

Secondly, we come to the heavenly city, it is the place whence grace is administered. It is the city of the living God, the place whence the light of God shines. The heavenly Jerusalem shows her light to the world, and the river of the water of life and the tree of life are there. It is the metropolis of glory, but the ministration of grace flows out from it, the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Then, as a distinct assemblage, the innumerable company of angels are brought before us. I have no doubt that angels will take their place of blessed service in connection with the heavenly city. The habitable earth to come is not put under them, yet we know that when the Son of man comes, He comes in the glory of the angels; they have their service, but it is linked with the holy city. Then the church is seen in her own peculiar character as "the church of the firstborn whose names are written in heaven." The idea is that they belong there. So we read in Psalm 87 "The Lord shall count, when he writes up the people, that this man was born there." It is not merely that the church has a place of administration in respect of the world to come, but she belongs to heaven. Does not that touch our hearts? How it would free us from the world-system if we had the sense of our names being registered in heaven. Even now it is our privilege, as those who belong to heaven, to take up the ministry of grace in this world, but we should keep before us the place which that grace has made ours. I should be very sorry that any sense of service, however blessed it may be, should cause any Christian to lose sight of the place of communion and blessing which belongs to the church of the firstborn.

Then we come to "God the Judge of all." I take it to mean that everything will come under the holy scrutiny of God, who will be the final Arbiter of everyone and everything. Man has put things out of place, and set himself up, but all will be put in its true place by God. The writer then speaks of the spirits of just men made perfect, they form part of that heavenly system of things which is opened out to us they are those who have waited without us they could not have been made perfect. All waits, the resurrection of the just men tarries until the church is caught up to take its place in heaven, they then get their place with the church, though they are not the church. It does not speak of their names being written in heaven, but they are found there. The church is, so to speak, indigenous to heaven, it is sanctified and formed in heavenly affections now, because it is associated with Christ who is there, but these just men made perfect have their portion there.

Finally, Jesus is seen as the Mediator of the new covenant. The two houses of Israel will be blessed when the new covenant is brought in, but Christians have come to Him who brings it in, and who also brings in blessing for the whole of this groaning earth. The blood of Abel cried to God from the ground, and the man who shed it was cursed from the earth. But the blood of Jesus speaks better things, and this earth, where the blood of Jesus was shed, especially the land of Israel, will come into the richest blessing.

May the Lord, as we look at the whole range of blessing for heaven and earth, which has come in through grace and redemption, make us more deeply sensible of our own peculiar portion in it. "Names written in heaven," and of the deliverance which we have from this present world-system, so that we may be those who are waiting for Christ, for His name's sake.