Instability marks everything that is of man, and stability is found only in what is of God. It is a mercy that this is so. Instability is connected with SIN, and hence all this world's present moral system must go and must give place to what is enduring. God remains the same, and the Christian is connected (not with the present shaking and ready to vanish away system, which takes its rise from sin, but he is connected) with GOD. "He that doeth the will of God abideth for ever."
I do not know any portion of the word of God which treats more clearly of "stability" and of "instability" than the epistle to the Hebrews. The two are put again and again in this epistle in the most vivid contrast the one to the other. Thus in chapter 1 we read, with reference to all that first creation which sin was allowed to taint, "They shall perish; but Thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt Thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail."
The whole argument of the epistle (and indeed one may say that it is a marked characteristic of Christianity) is that the believer belongs to, and is only interested in, the stable things. That which was of God had not come fully out until Christ was here, but His presence on earth tested what was in man, and it also brought out into prominence what was in God; that is, the "stable" and the "unstable" things stand now fully revealed. In this epistle the believer has done with sin and sins because Christ has. This is no question of attainment, it is simply Christian truth. Christ has done also once and for ever with the system introduced by, and on account of, sin. The world has gone on without law, under law, and, when Christ was here, under grace, and in each has been proved incapable of producing anything for God. Then comes the cross, and everything unstable must go, to make room for all that which "cannot be shaken." Now God has come down to establish eternal stability, founded upon the work of Christ. The Holy Ghost is here. "The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." These latter are all stable things, which will stand when all here goes, so that in the joy of them "we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire." (Hebrews 12)
It is a great mercy that the believer should be now connected by God with all that on which his soul can rest. REST is the great problem put before man to attain, and God has worked that problem out, for only He could do it. God does not overburden the believer with things here, because there is unrest in them. Things here have their place, but if withheld they are not good enough for the child of God, because they are all passing away. Hence in very many cases the believer finds himself as to earthly things lacking, and suffering need. It is God's wisdom for him, and happy is he who so sees it.
Whatever may change, God's purposes and counsel are stable. Everything in heaven and on earth and under the earth has been from the beginning (and is now) contributing to the display of these purposes; that is, to the setting up of eternal things. Two things are before a Christian. One is, A whole creation in ruin, and God coming in to recover. The other is, Purpose and counsel. To me the latter is the greater.
I think we must admit that the angels, in their connection with man, came in after the ruin of man was there. I have already remarked that all that came in through sin belongs to what I may call the "unstable" things. Hence the ministry of angels, as between God and man, must pass away. The fall of man, which separated him from God, introduced this ministry - a temporal, not an eternal state of things, because purpose and counsel are for eternity, and were long before all this that sin introduced. To these we have to look in faith now. Angels were never the objects of purpose and counsel. But man was. (Eph. 1:4, 11.) "Chosen ... . in Him before the foundation of the world." "Being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will." As a system of service under God - with man as its object - the angelic race gives place to God Himself, whose counsel and purpose are to find His own delight in man without their intervention. I have no doubt of the ministry of angels going on now, but the saints have something greater than this, i.e. they have communion with the Father and with the Son. This, I believe, is why angels are first brought before us in Heb. 2, in order to show their setting aside as to man, "For unto the angels hath He not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak."
However much the superiority of angels may be in a sentimental way (Col. 2:18) insisted on; they are here set aside in order to bring man, according to God's purpose and counsel, upon the scene. We are at the end of the days in Hebrews (" these last days"), and God is about to establish in permanent display the desires of His heart. We find that those desires are not concerning angels, but concerning men. "Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Thine hands." We are in this verse transported to the ages that rolled away before Adam's creation. It is similar to Genesis, 1:1, which no doubt was true ages before the second verse could be said of the earth. The purpose of God respecting man is to find His pleasure in him; for if the foundations of the earth were laid, it was in view of man. "What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that Thou visitest him; Thou madest Him a little lower than the angels; Thou crownedst Him with glory and honour, and didst set Him over the works of Thy hands." (Heb. 2) Moreover, God's purpose and counsel are to have man in nearness to and happiness with Himself. I think this is clearly indicated in such a passage as Genesis 2:19, where (before sin came in) God and man are in free and happy intercourse respecting the names of the animals. It is an accomplished fact when we turn to Revelation 21:3, 4: "The tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God."
Purpose and counsel include more than is here revealed as to God finding His pleasure in the race of Adam, and refer to the Son. Truly every word of God is pure, and the redeemed are to know God Himself dwelling with them, as the passage states; but when it is a question of "THE SON" there is more." There is to be the Bride taken from Adam's race, and displayed in union with Christ in heavenly glory. What have the angels to say to this? I believe they herald it, and desire to look into it. They echoed the delight of God in the first creation. "When I laid the foundations of the earth .... all the sons of God shouted for joy." (Job 38) So when the dawn of the accomplishment of God's purpose and counsel drew nigh, the angels were there to introduce it. "On earth peace, good pleasure in men." (Luke 2) The Son had come, in whom the Adam race was to be blessed in communion with God, and by whom all these purposes and counsels were to be accomplished. Having heralded this fact they must retire. God founds the establishment of all, not on their ministry, but on Christ's death; and in the glory to which He ascended from the grave He received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost who was sent down to the earth to carry on this work, from Him, who is the Head and Source of all. (Eph. 4:8-13.)
I turn for a moment to purpose and counsel. In Proverbs 8 the Lord speaks as Wisdom. "The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was." We are carried back beyond creation into that far-away eternity to learn that HE who speaks in Proverbs 8 was then daily GOD'S DELIGHT. Who is He? When we come to creation and the formation of man on the earth, He is there as one in counsel. "Let us make man in our image." (Genesis 1.) "Without Him was not anything made that was made." (John 1.) "All things were created by Him, and for Him." (Col. 1.) Then further in Proverbs 8, Wisdom says, "My delights were with the sons of men." Evidently men were there before they were the objects of His delight; that is, man was created and living on the earth, and with such are His delights. Who then is He? He is undoubtedly the One who brings into actuality all God's purposes and counsels respecting MAN. "Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of Me) to do Thy will, O God." (Heb. 10) He taketh not hold of angels, but on the seed of Abraham. Man is His object, and He has condescended to call Himself the "Son of Man." (John 1:51.) It is a wonderful story. He began the work of recovery for God in death; He carries it on now by His ever-living work on high, and by the presence of the Holy Spirit, sent down by Him to dwell in the saints on earth. It is a story of GRACE, "which things the angels desire to look into." (1 Peter 1:12.)
I think that it is of much importance for Christians to see that they are now in association with God without any intervention, and for them to be willing to let the Holy Spirit have His place and power; and to see that God Himself has drawn nigh to men, and is with them and they, with Him, on the ground of redemption, and that this is soon to be displayed in glory both in the heavenly company i.e. union with Christ, and in the earthly company, i.e., God's presence here in the eternal state. (Rev. 21:3 - 5.) But it is when we come to the first (union with Christ in glory) that we see how purpose and counsel place men above angels, and that these are the stable things with which even now the soul is connected. May we by grace enter into them, and we shall see the wisdom of such words as we find addressed to the saints in Colossians 2:18. People sentimentalize on angels, and a common idea is that some (especially children) become angels after their death, and Roman Catholics pray both to angels and to saints.
Turning away from angels, and from all that marked man as having to do with God on the ground of law, we come to the Son. Here we touch stability, and Christians are on this ground with God. Christ is put before us to be considered in two aspects, as the Apostle and High Priest of our profession. As Apostle He is the Sent One, as High Priest He maintains our association with Himself in heavenly blessings, while we are wandering here and subject to infirmity. Moses represented Him as Apostle, Aaron as High Priest - though He is not of Aaron's order, thus maintaining His superiority to, not His succession from, Aaron. He is "after the order of Melchisedec." As Apostle, Moses was sent to lead them out, and to bring them in. (Exodus 3:8, 10, 12.) He failed, but Christ does both, and in the meantime as High Priest He has gone in to maintain us now in association with our true place of blessing, and in all the value of the blood, as God estimates it, until we are put into actual possession, by His coming again. (Heb. 9:18 - 10:37.)
If, then, we are called to consider Him as Apostle, it is as sent to lead out and to bring in. Jews and Gentiles, through faith, are now being led by the Lord out of that system connected with law, which was once set up of God on the earth, into heavenly associations with Himself, and these are for eternity. I take it that before actually in them, "body, soul, and spirit" (as we shall be when He comes), faith is to get the benefit of them even now.
In the house of God, firstly angels, then Moses and Joshua, are displaced to make room for the Son. In the house Moses was not a son, but a servant. Hence stability could not be connected with that order of things, because "the servant abideth not in the house for ever; but the Son abideth ever." All that system passes away to give place to Christ, and to those He brings into this new place. "He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren." It is as having to do with "the Apostle of our profession" that faith drinks into the fulness of the heavenly blessing to which it has come. (See chap. 12:22-25.) I have come to these things in the company of the Son. He unfolds them, and I am exhorted not to turn away from Him that speaketh now from heaven. All that is connected with the Son is for eternity, hence the immense value of Christianity, as compared with anything that God has ever before made known for the blessing of man. God has purposed it from the beginning, and on the mount of Transfiguration He declares it. Moses and the law disappear, to leave Christ, and man with Him, on the ground of grace alone. (Matt. 17:1-8.)
Faith is made much of in the epistle to the Hebrews, and its need for us is insisted on. Unbelief was the hindrance to the entering in under Moses, and of that the writer speaks in chapter 3. All was ready for them on God's part. So also is it now. "They could not enter in because of unbelief." We are exhorted also, "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God." Then it was entrance upon a state which was only temporal, now it is for eternity. Then it was for earth, now it is for heaven. What hinders any of us entering on eternal things? Faith is lacking. Unbelief finds a home in our hearts. We cling to what is visible, but not ours (see Luke 16:11, 12), and what we cannot retain, and we refuse what is "our own," and what will stand for ever, though we know that all here shall vanish away. God is going "yet once more" to shake everything, in order "that those things which cannot be shaken may remain."
Failure was connected with all until the Son came. Angels ministered to man, but even angels He could charge with "folly." (Job 4:18.) Moses did not lead them "in," for he spake unadvisedly with his lips. Joshua did not give them "rest," for long after we read of "another day." (Psalm 95.) But now the Son is come, and entrance, stability, and rest, for eternity, are ours (I mean, are the portion of all believers) in association with Christ in heavenly blessing. But this portion - REST - is not only to be enjoyed in the individual soul for ever, God is also going to display it on earth. "There remaineth therefore a sabbatism to the people of God"; that is, it shall be displayed on earth in actuality. The sabbath is for the earth. (Gen. 2:3.) Meanwhile, we are led into it before its display, by Him who has gone in. Christ leads the willing soul now into what will only be fully known and enjoyed in heaven. It is an overflowing cup. How can Christ do this? He can do it, for He touches both God and man in being the "Brightness of glory," and the "Purger of sins." He is the beginning and end of God's ways. He is greater than the angels, for He is the Son; greater than Moses, for He has power to lead in; greater than Joshua, for He ministers rest. GOD RESTS IN CHRIST, DISPLAYED AS MAN IN GLORY. This is the key to all. He has passed through the heavens up to the highest point, and we, as called to heaven, "consider Him" saluted "High Priest, after the order of Melchisedec." It is not with us as it was with the Old Testament prophets. When they had received a communication from God, and spoken it, they had to learn that the things of which they had spoken by the Holy Ghost were not for themselves. But with us we get the enjoyment of them first, and, individually, before we can speak of them. We can only learn our present portion in heaven from Him; that is, from the company of the heavenly Christ, who is in it. "He shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you," refers, I believe, to Christ's present portion there as Man.
But we are also called by the Spirit to consider Him as "the High Priest of our profession." We are thus regarded as a people subject to infirmities while on the earth and yet belonging to heaven. In this He is no successor to Aaron; He is superior. Those priests were not allowed to continue "by reason of death." He was saluted of God, "Thou art a Priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedec." He has gone into that new scene, "in the power of an endless life," and gone in "for us." There is nothing unstable there. His work is done for God and for us; He hath appeared once "to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." His priesthood is unfailing. He "hath an unchangeable priesthood." He liveth for evermore to maintain the saints, though in all their "infirmities," in the full value of His own work before God. His perfection as our Priest is the point (not our imperfections to need Him) until we are with Him in His own scene and circumstances.
It is as a believer that, when I am considering Him as "the Apostle and High Priest" of my profession, I am affected by Him. Hence the value of being thus occupied, for it is with what is stable. A work is then going on within, and things which cannot be shaken are assuming a tangible form (so to say) in the soul. Eternal things are becoming more and more its enjoyed portion. In these we can rest. This is what I understand the apostle refers to when he says, "Let us go on unto perfection." The soul cannot rest short of what is perfect. In Christ I have it, for all is perfect that He touches. He has touched me, the believer can say, and by that touch "He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." In the meantime there is a word to us, for daily faith is necessary in us, and it is this, "Today if YE will hear His voice, [He speaks now from heaven] harden not YOUR hearts."
The Spirit of God has brought before us in the Epistle to the Hebrews angels, Moses, and Joshua, and has shown the Lord as superseding them all. He then brings the Lord before us as superseding Aaron in a new order. He is "High Priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek." The exercise of His priestly office, as we learn in what follows, has in view two objects. First, it is exercised on account of my infirmities. Second, it is that I may receive from a new scene apart from the question of my infirmities altogether. The first is temporal. This last will go on when I have no infirmities. Infirmities being connected with my time state, therefore it is as passing through the wilderness that I need the support. But there is the ministry of Christ as to heavenly things, which is apart from wilderness circumstances entirely, and it is this which will continue toward us for ever. Herein is stability. Thank God that even now this ministry goes on, as we see here in the reference to Melchizedek's blessing and supply, to which the apostle is drawing the attention of the Hebrew brethren. As to its permanence, the language used is precise. It is all in view of Christ, and we have reference made therefore to the "immutability of His counsel." He who is also the subject of the Spirit's testimony here is "Priest for ever." He "abideth continually." "He hath an unchangeable [intransmissible] priesthood." He is "a great Priest." He has "sat down in perpetuity," and by His "one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified."
These Hebrew Christians needed to be better instructed in the two aspects of our Lord's present ministry to us; for as in all the value of the Lord's victory over "him that had the power of death" I am looked at as in the wilderness (Exodus 15), where I am subject to infirmity (infirmity is not sin), and where the Lord is sufficient for me, whatever be the exigencies of the path. It is as in all the value of Christ's death that we sing, "He hath triumphed gloriously, the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea." That is, I am in the consciousness of Christ's victory. I am over the Red Sea, and therefore in the wilderness. But then there is my own moral victory over the world. Not only the physical, but it is Abraham's own moral victory that we have before us in Genesis 14 - the Melchizedek type. And consequent upon that there is the ministry of strength and joy, bread and wine; full blessing from Christ, the true Melchizedek, and from His own side of things.
Christ then ministers in two ways. 1st. He is the One who meets me in all my infirmities here. 2nd. He is the One who ministers strength and joy from His own scene. In the one case He supports me in my circumstances, in the other He takes me into His.
The world comes before all who are Christians in two forms - in its gross aspect, and in its refined aspect. Egypt, with all its idols, with its magicians, its soothsayers, and its slavery, gives me the one; and Sodom, with its honours, its ease, and its luxury, gives me the other. Both have to be refused. "And this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." Who is he that overcometh the world but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? When Abraham met Melchizedek he had for many a day refused both Egypt and Sodom. But the latter had only recently again made its appeal to him. He met the king of Sodom before he met Melchizedek, and what was the result? "I have lift up mine hand unto the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, that I will not take from a thread even to a shoe latchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich." The language of faith is, "I want nothing from you, and I will receive nothing here except from God." (John 5:41.)
Now Lot had given up Egypt, as Abraham had. (Genesis 13: 1.) Lot never gave up Sodom.
I consider that our portion in heaven - as united to Christ - and our interest in eternal things, is not ministered to the soul, but in the measure in which by grace we give up the world; that is, the rejection of the one and the reception of the other go on at the same time. This moral system, the world, is the great hindrance both to the communication and to the reception of all that side of the truth. All the truth is contained in the Word, and the Holy Spirit is on earth for the blessing of all the saints alike, and to unfold to us these things, so as to make them the known and enjoyed portion of the soul. But the world is in possession, and by the individual soul in the power of the Spirit the battle must be fought, and fought out there - within. The enemy must be dispossessed and routed out there. In his heart, as a natural man, Abraham was just as fond of the honours and ease and luxury of Sodom as Lot. We are all alike in this, but it is fatal (if not judged) to the ministry of the Spirit, who would lead us into heavenly things. And this was the character of Sodom in her day. "Pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy." (Ezekiel 16:49.)
This world is a moral scene which has sprung up outside the garden of Eden. Its works are characterised by its heart. In the midst of such a scene God has a clean place for His people, where He can bless them. But to occupy it they must be with Him, according to the desire of His own heart (as a jealous God) to have them separate from it all, and for Himself alone. Do we not see the proof within us, and all around us, that if we have judged the world in its gross form it is not enough? Many have judged it as Egypt who have not judged it as Sodom, hence the lack of an apprehension of their true place here, and of the new and heavenly order of blessing that Christ desires to minister to us. That which marked Abraham did not characterise Lot. I think that we shall find pilgrim character, communion with God as such, and heavenly supplies to all stand or fall together. Lot was no pilgrim and stranger on earth. No doubt that Lot sought the Lord amid all his anxieties, and the worry of his spirit in Sodom. His righteous soul we read was "vexed from day to day," and he would naturally turn to the Lord in that distress. And no doubt also that the Lord helped him, but that is not what I understand by heavenly supplies. I take it that heavenly supplies are independent of circumstances. Many may mistake the Lord's sustainment in distressing times for heavenly supplies, but I think they must be distinguished.
Looking abroad upon the world in its garb of outward morality, refinement, comfort, ease, and honour, we see it offering them all to the Christian. One is in danger of forgetting, as Lot did, that we are not looking upon "the garden of the Lord" in these things. Eden is gone, and my supplies now must come from heaven. "And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar." It was a delusive look and a false appearance, from which, through grace, Abraham was kept, while Lot fell into the snare. "He chose." Abraham said, "I will not take anything that is thine."
There are some Christians who suppose that as they give up the world (the unstable thing) they will receive from God, in their souls, their proper heavenly portion, which I call the stable. They therefore long for more giving up of the world, and even their public prayers take this form. This looks well, but it is not the liberty of the Spirit as I see it. It tends rather to bondage. As to the order, it is exactly in the reverse way that the blessing comes. If I take Scripture, the order is that I first get the better, and then I gladly give up the good (so-called).
Every Christian has received a measure of certain and positive "better" from the Lord. If true to what I have received, I possess it in my soul and enjoy it, and I know, as an undeniable and established fact which needs no demonstration, that the world will, if it can, rob me of this. Now, then - for there is no other way to retain what I have - I GIVE UP THE WORLD - not only the sinful gross thing, palpably evil - but all that which I have called "Sodom," and which can be quite understood when we see that it is that which tends to make me an accepted and respected citizen down here. It is different with each saint, according to the different walks of life, but remember it is everything that has this tendency. The tendency is to make me contented with the present scene here. Those who go on any other line, and tell you that they are seeking to give up the world, are not in faith as to what they have already received, nor in the enjoyment of the Melchizedek blessing. They are not entering into the heavenly portion, but are outside it. One could not perhaps doubt their Christian profession, but you cannot give up the world save as in the present enjoyment of what is better, and you cannot enjoy what is heavenly while you are in the grasp of the earthly.
No saint receives all his portion at one time from the Lord. He learns and receives daily. (Phil. 4:11.) But every reception - and we find it so as we go on - of fresh light from God entails a corresponding response in our every day life. They go together, and thus we continue to receive. We all learn "bit by bit," but it is clear that one can only do so as true to the principles already received. There was a very similar start with most of us. We made a bright and true start at the beginning of our course. The world then to us had little worth. Avowedly, all the aspects of it were refused; but this theory (good in itself) was not practice. Time has passed on. How much of the soul's true portion is known in power now? for there is a power which daily keeps us right, and which first put the soul right as to this world. The apostle desired not only to begin but also to finish his course with joy," and at the close of it he wrote, "I have finished my course, I have kept the faith."
Reader, you and I have entered upon our course, but we have not yet finished it. One way, and only one way, is open to us, and this faith will gladly take in order to end our course as he ended his - "with joy." The world AS SODOM must be given up - must be judged by the soul; and its opposite, namely, the path of the pilgrim and stranger here, will, I think, mark him who has taken, and is walking with God in such a path.
Paul had much to write as to Christ in the type of Melchizedek, but though the Hebrew saints had once given up the world, and he reminds them of it (see chapter 10:32-35), they are now not ready for this. "Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing." What then is before us in this type? Blessing, undoubtedly, as overcomers.
We are not here regarded as the assembly, the body of Christ, or as children with the Father. The blessing before us is that of individual overcomers, and from Christ in that character. So far as I know, this epistle only names the church in chapters 2 and 13, because it is not the subject. The Lord is before us as the mighty Overcomer. (See Heb. 2:14, 4:14, 12:2, etc.) He has reached the top, travelling along the road of faith, where WE walk now. Therefore not suffering, but reigning; not humiliation, but the throne is before us. Melchizedek was king of righteousness and king of peace. He came forth to meet Abram. In the figure, the king is Christ who has overcome (John 16:33), and who meets the saint when he is an overcomer, and blesses him with His own supply and from His own side of things, entirely independently of his circumstances down here.
Israel as a nation awaits this ministry of the Lord towards her, but the Church has it now, as I understand it. It is a present privilege, as I believe, for Christians to know, enter into, and receive these things while (as Abram was) we are on the faith-road, and in the wilderness, for as in this place the saint is regarded in the Epistle to the Hebrews.
I think that we can speak of stability - that is, of eternity and eternal things when they are in connection with God's purposes respecting Christ. We are not upon the ground of the trial of man now, or we should still be on the ground of instability. All that is over, and life and stability are before us. Life was introduced into this world by Him, and was seen in this world in Him. Beautiful shadows (indications of what was ever in God's purpose respecting Christ and HIS - the saints called "us" in Heb. 11:40 and in 1 Peter 1:12) have appeared again and again while the first man was under probation, and have passed away. The second Man is before the eye of God for eternity, and that is the Man we have to be occupied with now; the substance has come, and we are no longer kept in a region of shadows. You can neither connect instability with the second Man, nor stability with the first. In Christ we get the key which admits to the understanding of all the shadows. I delight in those words, "The time cometh when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall show you plainly of the Father," because I believe that that time is now. The second Man and His race or generation are now before God. (Heb. 2:10-13.)
All Christians are addressed in the passage, "Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling," though the state of Hebrew saints first gave occasion to the words. All the saints are called to heaven and heavenly blessings in exact contrast therefore to the saints of past dispensations, whose blessings were earthly. The overcoming of the world in both its phases of foe and friend, the entrance now into the Holiest of all, the communion there - i.e. the reception of heavenly things from the Lord - these are what I understand by heavenly things, and they are what the saint is called to now.
In the midst of my "infirmities" down here I have Christ ever living as my Intercessor. I am here for God's will, as He was (Heb. 10:7 - 13:21), and He will relieve me and support me in that path, having trodden it perfectly Himself. He is thus conscious of all that could possibly come to hinder me in it. As thus relieved of everything that could hinder, I am free to be led into the enjoyment of my own proper blessings. It is then that He leads me into the Holiest of all. Here I know communion; for, by the Spirit who dwells in us, we are where naught of the flesh can intrude, we are in the joy of the communion of the Father and of the Son. (1 John 1:3.) As seen on earth I am an overcomer of the world, both as Egypt and as Sodom, having, instead of all that the world can give its votaries, heavenly supplies. "And this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." This is a continuous victory, for the exhortation is, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world."
I think I see three results in the path of the believer, who has received and desires to continue in the present enjoyment of his, or her, true portion.
1st. He refuses to accept any place on earth, but the place the Lord had as a man here, the place He got based upon faithfulness to God.
2nd. Christ is on high as Intercessor on purpose to support him in this path, wherein he finds every opposing element.
3rd. Having thus freed him, He brings him into the Holiest of all, where he receives from Him both bread and wine, His own communications to him.
He is thus in communion with the mind of God by the Spirit which dwells in us, and as looked at on earth he overcomes the world. The idea connected with the Holiest of all is, I think, that everything there is in harmony with the mind of God - that is, there is nothing there that is discordant. God is Holy. Its atmosphere can be only heavenly, but it is to be known and entered into by the saints on earth. (Heb. 10:19-22.)
I would say one word more about the world. It is as I am fed from above, from the new scene day by day, that the world loses its hold upon me. Its spirit, aims, interests, and future become of no interest to me, and if touched, or sought after, I become conscious of "weights." (Heb. 12:1, 2.) It may help to explain why there is not so much of the present conscious knowledge and enjoyment of the "Holiest of all" as there should be if we first ask, Have I accepted as my place and portion on earth, the path of the believer to which I have referred, namely, the place and portion which Jesus Christ had here as a Man? If not, though He intercedes for ALL His saints, I am not in the present consciousness of that intercession, and of support from Him. How then can I know the third, the communion and portion that He would have me know with Himself? Rather is my course that of the one whose "hands" are hanging down, and whose "knees" are feeble. (Heb. 12:12, 13.)
Now may the Lord keep us living in the power of these stable things, so that, leaving all that is unreal and unstable here, we may be running on to heaven. May we accept God's will for us (Heb. 13:21) as a sufficient soul occupation for us while we are down here; for this was what marked Christ, "Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God." The first man has always been characterized by doing his own will. There is no stability and no blessing in doing my own will - sooner or later all that must come to an end in each of us. The will of man came to an end before God in the cross, because the whole question of sin and sins (the root and outcome of man's will) came out there, and was for ever settled. A new Man, life and stability, eternal life and communion with the Father and the Son, are before us now. Oh the blessed favour of God, which thus shines upon us, and in which He would have us every day to REST even while here on earth. But that joy will have no end - for we are of these stable things, and of the second Man. "He that doeth the will of God abideth for ever." (1 John 2:17) Well may the believer sing -
"Praise ye the Lord, again, again,
The Spirit strikes the chord,
And faith takes up the happy strain,
We praise, we praise the Lord."
Thus may we be found occupied with stable things till the Lord Jesus comes. Amen. H. C. Anstey.