W. T. Whybrow.
Christian Friend vol. 16, 1889, p. 18.
Nothing can surpass the divine interest and importance, together with the place it has in Scripture, of these two vast subjects of revelation. Summed up in two words, it is Christ and all things in heaven and earth headed up in Him. Of this vast scene of glory, the first creation, however beautiful and real in fact, was but a figure. "God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them. And God blessed them." Then follows the inheritance, His gift to them. "And God said to them . . . replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion." (Genesis 1:27-29.) But the course of earth's bright inauguration-day had not run out, ere man and his inheritance were ruined! That sun had risen upon a bright onlook of never-ending blessedness; it set with man's career - a short, precarious, and miserable existence closed in dust, and his inheritance ending in vanity, lorded over by corruption and travailing in pain.
This was but the natural man endowed with his possessions in responsibility. It was "an inheritance gotten hastily at the beginning;" but the end thereof was not blessed. (Proverbs 20:21.) He was the figure, but the contrast too, of the second Man, the Lord from heaven, who emptied Himself, taking a bondsman's form - the likeness of men - yea, even the likeness of sinful flesh; and being found as such, humbled Himself unto death, was cut off and had nothing. Jesus came of a woman, came under law that He might redeem those under law, that we might receive sonship. He seemed to labour in vain, and to spend His strength for nought. He lays aside every prerogative of deity, while ever remaining God, in order to be in perfect, absolute obedience as Man; and then, surrendering every right in death to do His Father's will, He acquires a title in the dust of it to the inheritance, according to the glory and righteousness of God. Moreover, the co-heirs are not after the flesh, but after the Spirit - the children of promise, not of law, brought in by the same redemption work of grace through faith.
How soon this became the definite subject of revelation we learn from the history of Abraham. "To Abraham and his seed were the promises made." The Spirit does not say, And to seeds as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed which is Christ." And what was this promise? "In thee all the nations shall be blessed." (Gen. 12, Gen. 22; Gal. 3.) This is indeed the precious testimony of Scripture that God would justify the Gentiles on the principle of faith, that thus "the blessing of Abraham might come to the nations in Christ Jesus," and we receive the promised Spirit through faith.
Here then we have the blessing deposited in the one Seed, Christ, established too, typically, on the ground of resurrection (Genesis 22), proof powerful and positive that all the fruit of sin in us is gone from before God's eye, and in place thereof appears Jesus our risen Lord. So that they who are on the principle of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.
Thus far the man, already blessed in righteousness - the righteousness of God and life before Him; but now for his inheritance. It is not on the principle of law, but promise; for God gave it in grace to Abraham by promise: "But if ye are of Christ, then are ye Abraham's seed, heirs according to promise." All things are His, the gift of the Father's love to Him; all power too in heaven and earth. But still He waits. While yet in the days of His flesh, the Father had given all things into His hands; but He waited, took up the cross, and accomplished His Father's will in the blood and fire of His sacrifice. He is risen now, and glorified; yet still He waits in patience while the co-heirs are gathered; for the long-suffering of our Lord is for salvation. "But the Lord does not delay His promise, as some account of delay;" and soon shall the thrones be filled for judgment. Then shall the Blessed One, and those already blessed in Him, be introduced by power into the inheritance; as it is written, "Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection: over these the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of the Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years:" (Rev. 20:6.)
How sweet, too, it is to notice that when the assembly alone is before the Spirit's eye, she is "prepared as a bride adorned for her husband!" No public state or outward glory here, but simply "for her husband." It is "the blessing" simply; life and its fruits in righteousness. (Rev. 19:7, 8, Rev. 21:2.) It is "the blessing" in its proper sphere, and the curse and the cursed are excluded for eternity. The affections want nothing for eternity but the Object that engages them. The blessing is ours now, the treasure now; for we are Christ's, and His desire is toward us. Are we then to despise the inheritance, the birthright? Not so. The Spirit dwells with delight upon that scene radiant with heavenly light. It is the Lamb's wife, not merely the Bride now, and displays earthward the glory of the once-rejected One in His possessed inheritance. Divine in her origin she is, and heavenly in character. It is Himself, Jesus of Nazareth - the lonely stranger, from whom, passing through this dark scene, first shone forth the light of what God is and whence He came. This is now her portion, associated with Him in His heavenly realm of power.
We have seen the contrast with the first man, who in disobedience exalted himself to be as God. Jesus, being in the form of God, empties Himself to be obedient, and takes upon Himself the form of man. May this mind be in us. He surrenders His possessions. Nor does He take His place of exaltation and power until He has accomplished obedience in death; then it is (though true in title before) that the Father gives all things into His hands. (Genesis 24:36, 25:5; John 13:3; Phil. 2:10.) It is after being offered upon the altar that the true Isaac takes in resurrection power His bride and His inheritance.
But meanwhile the blessing and the inheritance are for the time being severed; that is to say, the full divine accomplishment of the blessing has come in Christ, but the inheritance waits. Nay, more; it distinguishes the very calling of the Christian, that he is put into the path of Christ, who was cut off and had nothing. To seek something here is of the world, and is the Christian's snare. This would be to despise our heavenly birthright for worldly life; and we are to look diligently, lest there be any profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. How divinely does the blessed Lord contrast with this! True, He surrenders His prospects, His glory, His kingdom, as Son of man; but not to live; on the contrary, that He may die. (John 12:23-28.) He did not despise His birthright, nor say, "What profit shall this birthright do to Me?" But He could not take it defiled with sin, nor would He possess it alone, but would have the co-heirs associated with Himself for His Father's glory, and the accomplishment of His purposes of love. But for this He must die; for this, devoted for the glory of the Father's name, He must be made sin, He must be rejected by the world, by man, abandoned by God - a gathering point, as lifted up, for all men to draw near to God. He has been lifted up, and has now, by the cross, fully and divinely brought in the blessing, so that we are already blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. But if so, we must wait with Him for glory in whom we have obtained our inheritance. He waits; He is not yet in the inheritance Himself. We must not seek it here. This is what Jacob did. The blessing was his. Marked out by God Himself as the elect seed of promise, what had he to do with buying his brother's birthright? It was not for him any more than His blessing was for Esau, who thought to inherit it. (Heb. 12:17.) By craft and greed he unites both blessing and inheritance in his own person. But was it for blessing? His history declares. But Jesus not only emptied Himself of His possessions when subsisting in the form of God, but becoming man, He surrenders all His prospects in order to die. A solemn but blessed lesson for us to learn. "He that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve Me, let him follow Me." (John 12:25-26.) "Few and evil" had the days of the years of Jacob's life been; but he learnt this lesson, and with his parting breath and blessing of his sons he separates the blessing from the inheritance, uniting them alone in Shiloh - Him who was the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel. (Gen. 49.) The elect seed of promise and the power of rule he puts in Judah's line. (v. 10.) He was to be the depository of the blessing; but Joseph has the birthright - the portion of the firstborn. Thus we read in 1 Chr. 5:1, 2: The "birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph . . . and the genealogy is not to be reckoned after the birthright. For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the chief ruler; but the birthright was Joseph's."
It remains for us to hold in divine power in our souls this principle of God that, while Christ waits, the lineage and the birthright go not together. Are we in the line of the elect seed? Then the blessing in all its divine fulness and extent is ours - life eternal, Christ's place and relationship with His Father and His God, all things that pertain to life and godliness, righteousness and that of God. But the birthright, the portion here of the firstborn, is not ours yet. That is still in the hand of the first man, however much he has despised it as given of God. It is not for us to seek it. We are not of the world, even as Christ is not of it; and He is not yet demanding concerning the world. (John 17:9.) When the kingdom of the world of our Lord, and of Christ is come (Rev. 11:15), then shall we enter into possession with Him, not alone of the earth, but the heavens too. For He hath proposed "to head up all things in the Christ, the things in the heavens, and the things upon the earth: in Him in whom we have also obtained an inheritance." (Eph. 1:10, 11.) Till then He waits; till then we also wait. In surrendering all, He bought all, and acquired that which was no part of it, but was the purpose of His Father's love before the world was - those whom He hath given Him, His body and His bride, to share with Him in everything - His life, His relationships with His Father and His God, His love, His peace, His joy, His glory. We may well wait with Him then, till the glory comes, apart from the world and its church - that false thing that calls itself Christ's spouse, but takes its glory here without Him. W. T. W.