Within the Holiest

Notes of an Address at Cockenzie, New Year's Meeting, 1926 on Hebrews 10:17-22; 9:1-6

We are invited by God, as His forgiven and reconciled saints, to have our affections set upon things above, and these things are not shadowy, or mystical, or unpractical: things that will not be of any benefit to us in the ordinary affairs of this life. No. Christ is the sum and substance of them, and God delights in Him and we are invited to delight ourselves in Him, in whom God Himself delights.

We shall all readily admit that all that is in Christ is of the greatest possible blessing and help to us. We have been told today that the Tabernacle in the wilderness was a pattern of the things in the heavens, and was full of the most blessed typical teaching, and that is true. That Tabernacle was pitched to cover the Ark of the Covenant, a golden box that was set in the Holiest where God's presence was. The Ark speaks to us undoubtedly of the Lord Jesus Christ; the gold that covered it of His Deity, and the wood of which it was made of His humanity. But it was not an empty box, a mere shell; within it there were three things, things that delighted the heart of God, and we are invited to share with Him His joy in these things. The things that were put, in the Ark of the Covenant were the golden pot that had manna, Aaron's rod that budded and the tables of the Covenant; and these three things speak to us in type of the life and love and faithfulness of the Lord Jesus Christ in three different sets of circumstances in which He serves God and us with a holy and perfect service.

The Manna speaks of Him as humbled here in this world. It tells of the time when He made Himself of no reputation, but took upon Himself a bondsman's form, a Man upon earth for the service of all. Exodus 16 is an instructive chapter, for it is where the manna first appears, and we find in connection with it that the glory of God appeared in the wilderness. Those whose eyes were anointed saw in Jesus here God manifest in the flesh, Emmanuel, come near to us to bless us. And to us who believe He has become our food, food that fits us to meet the trials of our wilderness life.

"Jesus! Thou art enough,
  The mind and heart to fill;
Thy patient life — to calm the soul;
  Thy love — its fear dispel."

That is the manna. The wilderness was the place where the people had no resources except in God, and such is the world. The Lord Jesus was in wilderness circumstances, tried in all points as we are tried, but, oh, the meekness and the lowliness of Him! How perfect He was in His dependence upon God, in His obedience to God! In all these circumstances that tried Him He was never found wanting. Never was He taken by surprise; never did He hesitate as to what He ought to do. And that because He was as to His holy manhood in absolute dependence upon God in perfect obedience to His will. He did the right thing at the right time and manifested perfect meekness and lowliness in everything that He did. He made Himself of no reputation in a world where every man sought his own glory, and lived for God where all others lived for self. Here was a Man different from every other man; a Man of a new order, the heavenly Man in earthly circumstances. Here was One who had come from the glory into the wilderness of this world, altogether according to God, and it is the contemplation of Him that will enable us to endure temptation. If we are to be patient in trial, if we are to go through testings, and overcome, we must have Him as our Pattern, and feed on Him as the Manna. We cannot be strong unless we feed, and the food with which the Spirit strengthens us in the inner man to all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness (Col. 1:11) is Christ as the One humbled here; the manna must be our food; it is the food of the mighty, as the Psalm tells us. In Christ there was the manifestation of everything God could desire in a man upon earth, and that meant blessing for others wherever He went. Men did not think much about Him, but the fact of His being here in dependence upon God meant blessing for man. There was blessing for everyone when Christ was here. The blind got their sight, the deaf heard, broken hearts were comforted. Wherever He went there went with Him the grace of the Father's heart, for He was the full manifestation of grace here below, and that grace was manifested in wilderness circumstances. It was declared and made known amid the trials of this life below. He, the Christ of God, humbled here below, was delightful to God and He was here in blessing to men, the faithful PROPHET of God.

The children of Israel in the wilderness got tired of the manna. It was a mystery to them in the beginning and it was distasteful to them in the end. They "loathed this light food." So it was when Christ was here. There was no form nor comeliness in Him, no beauty that men should desire Him. He was despised and rejected of men. Not only rejected but loathed! The things that delighted God found no place in the hearts of men, but rather provoked them to hatred and opposition, and that is the man that once we had our links with. We were of the fallen, corrupt race that loathed the Son of God. Beloved Christians, may we not thank God that the death of Christ has broken those links? Once we belonged to Adam's race, and that race loathes JESUS. Are we not thankful that the Cross has severed those links, and that God, in His infinite grace, has transferred us from Adam to Christ and now we are in Christ and have the capacity, the power, the nature, that can find delight in Him?

But if Israel loathed the manna God said to Moses, "Fill a golden pot with it and set it before Me. Put it in the Ark of the Covenant, it shall be then before Me for ever." What does this mean? It means that God will never forget, nor will He allow to be forgotten, that lowly life of Jesus here. It was a short life as men speak — thirty-three and a half years, not more. A short life, but the glory of it is going to fill eternity. In the language of the type, the manna has been put in a golden pot. God has taken the One whom men despised and loathed and set Him in the very midst of His glory and crowned Him there with glory and honour. And yet, when God raised up His beloved Son to that place of eminence He did not add any glory to Him, He was only setting that which is infinitely glorious in the only place suited to receive it. As a diamond is put into a golden setting because it is the only setting worthy to receive it, so Christ has been set there above all principalities and powers, and might and dominion, and every name that is named. He has been set there to control everything for God, but that is not the thought typified in the manna being put in the golden pot, but it is the expression of God's pleasure in the lowly life of Jesus here. The glory is the only place that was worthy to receive Him. Infinite grace disclosed itself in His lowly life, and now exalted and in its true setting God invites us to enter into the Holiest, His own presence, and share His joy in what Christ was to Him when humbled here below. To learn in His presence what that Man is to Him; to learn in His presence what kind of a man delights His heart. Then strengthened by feeding upon Him we can go out and be like Him, we can walk in his steps. That is the direct effect of entering into the Holiest and feeding there upon the perfections of Christ as they came out in His life below. Not a word or act of His will ever be forgotten, and all that is recorded for us is for our joy and strength now.

Then Aaron's rod that budded was there, and the story of Aaron's rod is very instructive. Rebellion had broken out in the camp (Num. 17). The people had been marked by murmurings from the very beginning. I do not believe from the time they sang by the Red Sea to that moment that God had heard a note of praise from them. Murmuring all day and every day, so ungrateful were they, so little did they know the God who had brought them out of bondage to Himself. Now that state of things was to be met by priesthood. Aaron's rod was the symbol of priesthood. The twelve dry sticks were set up in the Tabernacle in the evening, and the following morning there were eleven dry sticks and one had leaves and blossoms and almond nuts. The almond is a figure of resurrection. It is the first tree of the year to blossom. It sets forth Christ in resurrection. Christ as our great HIGH PRIEST. There is one intensely interesting word on God's part in regard to the budding of Aaron's rod. God said, "I will clean take away from before Me the murmurings of the children of Israel." Let us consider this, and what it means to God and to us. Because we have a great high priest it is possible for us to go through wilderness circumstances without a murmur upon our lips. Instead of murmuring there may be thanksgiving and praise to God. How is it made possible? There lives on high the great High Priest who also makes intercession for us, and through the supplies of grace that He gives He takes away the murmurings from the people of God, and fills their mouths instead with the songs of overcomers. Now the Lord is carrying on this service. He has not ceased to be God's Servant. He came down into this world to be God's Servant, and in the lowly circumstances of His earth-life He was the PROPHET, making known what God is He has gone on high above every principality and power, and He is now serving God as PRIEST. You say, But how is He serving God? Surely as Priest He serves us. Yes, but in serving us He is serving God. Who are we? Well, you say, of not very much account. Is that so? I tell you that the angels in glory have not a greater dignity than we have. We are sons of God, and He is bringing us, His many sons, to glory (Heb. 2). We are the sons of God now and the glory is our destiny and Christ is our Leader, He will lead us through wilderness circumstances to our glorious destiny. Our great High Priest is serving God, whose sons we are. A simple illustration will help. Here is a little girl, and she has wandered from her mother and she is lost in the crowded thoroughfare of the city, and stands frightened and weeping. A friend of the mother passes by and, seeing her, takes her by the hand and leads her safely through the traffic, and when she is tired carries her, and if she is hungry feeds her, and at last brings her safely back to the mother's home. Oh, you say, what a great service that to the little girl! Yes, a very great service, but how great a service to the mother! Our great High Priest is taking us safely to the home of our Father. We have been committed to His care, He is carrying us safely through, because able to save us to the uttermost, and in doing this He is serving God whose sons we are. But are we getting the full benefit of His service; beloved friends? This service that the Lord is rendering is delightful to God. Aaron's rod that budded was set in the Ark of the Covenant in the Holiest. Are we entering there and learning what this service means to God and to us? He would have us so to do.

When we are oppressed, when circumstances are trying, when we find ourselves full of infirmity, when we are disappointed and discouraged and cast down, when difficulties appal us and sorrows surge around us, what then? Then how great the comfort, the support, that comes to us from the One who intercedes for us with a ceaseless intercession. How blessed to know that His intercession is a prevailing Intercession, our faith will not fail, He will carry us through. I remember receiving a letter from a weak Christian. He said, "I cannot understand how the Lord can be thinking about me and caring for me and interceding for me when He has so many to think about. I am nobody. I cannot understand it." And because he could not understand it he had got right down into the Slough of Despond, and there he was discouraged and miserable and self-occupied. My answer was a very simple one, it was this, "Neither can I understand it. It is far too great for my tiny mind to comprehend, but I believe it and I get the joy of it. I know that He thinks of me." He is thinking of you, and if you read in Romans 8, you will find that because of His intercession for us we are more than conquerors. He wants His saints to be more than conquerors since it is for His glory that we should be. But how can we be more than conquerors? Only through Him that loves us. He died that we might be free of every charge of sin before God, He lives that we might be maintained as God's sons in this world, more than conquerors in every trial in spite of the flesh within and the devil without. And at last we shall all reach the glory. We shall stand there a blessed, ransomed triumphant company, without spot before Him in love. Do you think when the Lord's service as Priest towards the people of God is finished God will forget the service He has rendered? No. The memory of Christ as Priest will abide for ever. It will abide in the glory of God unforgotten, unforgettable. God will remember it and we shall remember it. He will delight in it and we shall delight in it. We shall feed upon the hidden Manna, shall share God's thoughts about Christ in humiliation, and rejoice with God in the perfection of His service as the great High Priest.

But that won't be the end of His glory, nor the end of His service. He will still be God's Servant. He took upon Him the form of a servant, and will He ever lay down that form? He certainly will serve God in the age that is coming, for these two tables of stone that were also put in the Ark set forth God's will for man, and that will is yet to be done on earth. But that will be when Christ is KING. What a golden age it will be when He sits upon the throne as King and sways the righteous sceptre and rules with equity for the meek of the earth, so that throughout His Kingdom the will of God will be done, and the glory of God will fill the earth as the waters cover the sea. As Prophet He served God, as Priest He is serving God, as King He will still serve God throughout His reign on earth. And then, when He shall have given up the Kingdom to His Father that God may be all in all, what He was as Prophet, Priest and King will be remembered for ever.

But we come under His sceptre now. We come under His dominion; He is the One to whom we have bowed; He is our Lord, blessed be His Name, He exercises His authority over us in perfect grace. Grace reigns today. The throne upon which He sits is a throne of grace, and He ministers to us from the throne of grace what God is. We could not rightly pray, "Thy will be done on earth," if we were not desiring as believers to be doing His will now, and that which will be revealed in a day that is coming surely should be true of the sons of God in this day. We come under the dominion of Christ now, and the law which will be fulfilled then is fulfilled in us who own Him as Lord. As we come under His influence we become like Him. As we enter the Holiest and behold God's beloved One and are occupied with Him, and feed upon Him we become like Him, and in our daily lives we shall be subject to the will of God.

These things were in the Holiest. When the priest went in there everything he saw was gold. The gold typifies the glory of God. Everything was gold save one thing, and that other thing was blood. The blood that was sprinkled before and on the Mercy Seat spoke of the blood of Jesus, the blood that as equal in its value to the full shining out of the glory of God, and if we come into the Holiest, into the presence of God, and are able to have our minds set upon those heavenly things, upon Christ Himself, it is because of the value of the precious blood. We shall not forget that for ever. We shall remember His love on earth, we shall remember His service in heaven, we shall remember throughout all eternity the glory of His kingdom. But we will never forget the value of the precious blood. It is Christ first, Christ last. God presents Him to us. Not merely doctrine, not creed, not tradition, not rules nor regulations, but Christ. Apart from having Christ before the soul, there is neither fellowship nor worship, but as He fills our hearts we know what true, holy, happy fellowship means, and in holy, happy fellowship we worship God.