The covering of the brazen altar was a purple cloth, the royal colour. If we suffer, we shall reign. There is a connection between the cross and the crown upon the earth and in heaven. Thus was it with Christ, the King of the Jews, according to the superscription written on the cross; and the very throne of God was the answer to His sufferings, inasmuch as He was the burnt-offering, offered according to the power of the eternal Spirit acting in man, according to the exigency of the divine Majesty. The comparison of Psalms 19, 20, 21, 22 is, under this point of view, most interesting. Psalm 19 contains testimonies of the creation and the law. Psalm 20 presents Messiah suffering, but externally, so that man can take an interest in Him. Psalm 21, Messiah exalted; and, as a consequence, vengeance striking His enemies, who had rejected Him. Psalm 22, His sufferings, as forsaken by God Himself. This is the expression of Christ alone; whilst, in Psalms 20, 21, the Jewish remnant were speaking of His outward sufferings. There is no vengeance in connection with those sufferings consequent on His being forsaken of God; for it was expiation. There is nothing but blessing, which the mouth of the Saviour announces, and to which He Himself responded by praising in the midst of His saints. This blessing will extend to the ends of the earth during the millennium. J. N. Darby.
Judges 6:23, 24.
It is instructive to observe here the difference between the exercises of heart which are the result of faith, and the answer of God to the wants and difficulties which are caused by those exercises. In verse 13 we have the expression of those exercises in a soul under the weight of the same oppression as his brethren, but who feels it thus because his faith in the Lord was real. Then we have the answer which produces peace, and, with peace, worship. It is the same, when, after having suffered death, the risen Jesus reveals Himself to His disciples with the same words that God uses here, and lays down the foundation of the Church gathered together in worship. In Luke 7 we find the same experiences in the woman who was a sinner. She believed in the person of Jesus. His grace had made Him her all; but she did not yet know that one like her was pardoned and saved, and might go in peace. This assurance was the answer given to her faith.
Now this answer is what the gospel proclaims to every believer. The Holy Ghost proclaims Jesus. This produces conviction of sin. The knowledge of God in Christ, and of ourselves, casts down (for sin is there, and we are in bondage, sold under sin); but it produces conflict, perhaps anguish. Often the soul struggles against sin, and cannot gain the mastery; it cannot get beyond a certain point (the greater number of the sermons from which it expects light go no farther); but the gospel proclaims God's own resources for bringing it out of this state. "Peace be unto thee," "thy sins are forgiven." "Thy faith" (for she has faith), Christ says to the poor sinful woman, "hath saved thee." This was what she had not yet known. J. N. Darby.
1 Kings 19:1-3.
We see here how far the energy of the outward life of faith may continue to exist, while the inward life grows weak. It was at the moment of the most striking testimony to the presence of God in the midst of the rebellious people, and when Elijah had just caused all the prophets of Baal amongst them to be slain by the people's own hands, that his faith entirely fails at a mere threat from Jezebel. His life was not inwardly sustained by this faith in proportion to the outward testimony. His testimony excites the enemy in a way for which his personal faith was not prepared. This is a solemn lesson. The still small voice (which, unknown to him, was still heard among the people) had not perhaps its due influence upon his own heart, where the fire and manifestations had held too much place. Thus he did not know himself the grace which was still in exercise towards the people; he could not love them for the sake of the seven thousand faithful ones, as God loved them, nor hope as charity hopes. Alas! what are we, even when so near God! And his complaint when he came to God, for a person so blessed, has a sad deal of self in it. "I have been zealous," he says, "and they have cast down thine altars, and killed thy prophets;" just when he had cast down Baal's altars, and killed all his prophets; and then, "I am left alone." It is a humbling testimony. J. N. Darby.
2 Kings 8:4-6.
It seems to me that Gehazi stands here in a grievous position. Smitten by the hand of God, because his heart clung to earth, even in the presence of Jehovah's mighty and long-suffering testimony, he is now a parasite in the king's court, relating the wonderful things in which he no longer took part. This poor world grows weary enough of itself to lead it to take some pleasure in hearing anything spoken of that has reality and power. Provided that it does not reach the conscience, they will listen to it for their amusement, taking credit to themselves perhaps for an enlarged and a liberal mind, which is not enslaved by that which they can yet recognize philosophically in its place. But that is a sad position, which makes it evident that formerly we were connected with a testimony, whilst now we only relate its marvels at court. Nevertheless God makes use of it; and it does not follow that there was no truth in Gehazi. But to rise in the world, and entertain the world with the mighty works of God, is to fall very deeply. J. N. Darby.
The Christian is freed, not because his sins are for ever pardoned, but because he is dead to sin, crucified with Christ.