Warriors, Workers & Worshippers

Notes on the Journeyings of the Ark of God from Sinai to Zion
By Theophilus Ruse
Worship: Heb. 9:14; Warfare: 2 Cor. 10:4; Work: 1 Cor. 15:58.
London: C. A. Hammond, 3 & 4 London House Yard, Paternoster Row, E.C. 4
Made and printed in Great Britain at The Mayflower Press, Plymouth. William Brendon & Son, Ltd.

  That the Ark of the Testimony was a special type of the Lord Jesus Christ, as well as a symbol of the presence of God with His people Israel, will be no new thought to the majority of readers. But the purpose of this book is to glean some profitable lessons for the Christian's pathway, from the history of the various stages in the journeyings of the Israelites with the Ark in their midst.
  The line taken, with the Scriptures for our textbook, was suggested by the following beautiful paragraph in Mr. J. G. Bellett's well-known book, "The Son of God."
  "A mere journeying from Egypt to Canaan would not have constituted true pilgrimage. … In order to make that journey, the journey of God's Israel, the Ark must be in their company, borne by a people ransomed by blood out of Egypt. … This was the business of Israel in the desert. They had to conduct the Ark, to accompany it, to guard and to hallow it. They might betray their weakness, and incur chastening and discipline in many a way, and on many an occasion, but if their direct business were given up all was gone."
  With these thoughts before us we commence our agreeable task, in the hope that through His grace many of the children of God may be encouraged in their path of discipleship, their work of faith and labour of love.
  T. Ruse.

The Ark and the Mercy Seat (Ex. 25:10, 22)
The First Journey (Num. 10:33, 36)
The Ark in the Jordan (Joshua 4)
The Ark Before Jericho (Joshua 6)
The Ark at Mount Ebal (Joshua 8:30, 35)
The Ark in Shiloh (Joshua 18, etc,)
The Ark in Battle and In Captivity (1 Sam. 4-6)
From Ekron to Beth-shemesh (1 Sam. 6:18)
To Kirjath-Jearim and the House of Obed-edom (2 Sam. 6)
To Mount Zion and the Temple (2 Chron. 5, etc.)

"For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope." (Rom. 15:4.)

Chapter 1
The Ark and the Mercy Seat
Ex. 25:10, 22.

With the details of the construction and the materials of the Ark, most of our readers are probably familiar. Its importance as the great central feature of the Tabernacle in the wilderness, as well as its being the sign of the presence of God dwelling in the midst of a people on the earth, together with its typical teachings, must first command our attention.

How often have we dwelt with thankful hearts on the blessed fact that the desire for a dwelling-place with men upon the earth, emanated from God Himself. It was not the desire of the heart of man, either in Israel, or outside them. In patriarchal times God, visited the earth "in divers manners," but now He makes known His purpose to dwell among His chosen people, blessed foretaste of that time yet to come when "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." (Rev. 21:4.)

Accordingly we hear the voice of God speaking to Moses, saying, "Speak unto the children of Israel that they bring Me an offering … and let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them." (Ex. 25:2-4, etc.) Now it is clear that the people to be honoured with this distinction must be a redeemed people, or it were impossible for a God of holiness and righteousness to be in their midst, and what other people but Israel answered to this requirement? Sheltered from just and deserved judgment on account of their sins, and liberated from the bondage of Egypt, brought also through the Red Sea and delivered from Pharaoh's power, they are now to be favoured with the highest distinction ever conferred upon a people on the earth.

Nor was it left to man to discover or devise what was suitable for the Divine presence, but Moses is called up to God to the Mount, to receive there not only definite instructions, but see the very pattern of what was to be made. It was to be "patterns of things in the heavens," and therefore, according to Hebrews 9:24, the earthly tabernacle was not only typical of a spiritual house, but anti-typical of the true tabernacle which God pitched, and not man. It is therefore clear that no man, however gifted, could have devised the structure that was to be raised up, unless taught as was Moses, who was shown on the Mount the heavenly tabernacle, to which the earthly one was to correspond.

In like manner it is beautiful to see this same grace and love of the heart of God, presented in the gospel of our day. And to hear the Lord Jesus, the One Who is the antitype of the Ark, and all the holy vessels of the sanctuary, saying in His day upon the earth, "The Father seeks such to worship Him, and they that worship Him, must worship Him in spirit and in truth." (John 4:23-24.) We shall see (by His gracious help) how the Ark in all its parts, as well as all that composed the Tabernacle, speak of that blessed Person and His atoning work, with a voice that cannot but be heard where there is an ear to hear and bows our hearts in worship and praise.

Turning now to God's instructions concerning "The Ark" in Exodus 25, we are at once struck with the fact that He begins with the making of the various pieces of the Furniture of the Tabernacle, before giving any details of the structure that is to hold them. The Ark comes first as the great central object, the immediate sign of His presence, around which all the other pieces are grouped, so to speak, and from which they take their significance in the great question of man's approach to God. In like manner Christ is the One by Whom, and in Whom, God comes out to bless man, and Christ is "the way" by which man goes in to the presence of God, to bless and praise Him.

As made of wood (shittim or acacia wood), and overlaid with gold, the Ark undoubtedly speaks of the Lord Jesus as One Who in His own blessed Person was both God and man, and wherever we find these two materials combined in the holy vessels of the Tabernacle, they present to us the adorable person of our blessed Lord, for He Who was God from all eternity, became a man in order to die upon the Cross for us. There was no appearance of the wood, all that was seen was gold, and the cover, called the mercy seat, was pure gold; with a cherubim at each end, made or beaten out of the same piece of gold. When Israel set forth on their wilderness journey the Ark was first covered with the veil, that is Christ Himself with the veil of His humanity (Heb. 10:20); then came the badgers' skins, and outside the cloth of blue, typical of Christ the heavenly man passing through this world. (Num. 4:5-6.)

The two cherubims stood with outstretched wings touching each other, and their faces toward the mercy seat. On the mercy seat the blood of the sin offering was sprinkled by the high priest on the Day of Atonement, speaking without doubt of the atoning death of the Lord Jesus—the propitiation for our sins. Of this Romans 3:25 speaks most clearly. Within the Ark were placed the two tables of stone on which the Law was written by the finger of God, and there can be no question as to this typifying clearly the One Who said, "Thy law is within my heart." To Him also belongs the administration of Divine judgment which is exhibited in the cherubim overshadowing the mercy seat, the throne of God. (Ex. 25:22; Num. 7:89.)

The Ark was within the veil, the only object in that most holy sanctuary with the cloud of glory, the token of Jehovah's presence, shining thereon, its only light. It was from between these cherubims that God delivered to Moses, in audible voice, the character and order of every sacrifice, as also the details of every act of the priesthood, which had already been sanctified, and consecrated, to the sacred office of approach to God.

In perfect keeping with all this nearly the entire contents of the Book of Leviticus were dictated to Moses from between the cherubim, and the name of the book in the Hebrew Bible is taken from its first few words, "And He called" (Hebrew, Va yeet rah). The title of "Leviticus" in our English Bibles. (as is well known) is taken from the Septuagint, and it contains a larger proportion of the actual words of God (as distinct from history or narrative) than any other book in the Bible.

From between the cherubim, too, Divine government was administered, but mingled with grace and forbearance, that alone made it possible for a Holy God to be in the midst of such a people and they not be consumed. But the Ark is to accompany the people in their journey to the land of their inheritance, consequently it was to be made with four rings of gold, into which staves overlaid with gold were put, that it may be borne by God's explicit direction upon the shoulders of the Kohathites. Before we pass on to the first stage of the said journey we would conclude this chapter with a quotation from an article written by a servant of God some fifty years ago that will well repay repetition.

"In conclusion, and as a summary, I judge that the Ark of pure gold is beautifully embodied by the express image and glory of the Son, as in Hebrews 1:2 and 3, and that the shittim wood of the Ark is as perfectly represented by His manhood as the Only Begotten Son in verses 5 and 6. Moreover, 'the body prepared for Him,' and in which He came to do the will of God, was the embodiment of the two tables of the covenant which the Ark contained, but which were in like manner taken out and magnified in Himself, Who said, 'Yea, thy law is within my heart.' What, too, are the central chapters of the epistle touching the priest in heaven, but the transfer of 'Aaron's rod that budded,' and 'the golden censer' out of the typical Ark, into their own proper place in the presence of God for us? Again, what is 'the golden pot that had manna,' but the person, and words, and works and ways of Jesus below, and of which this precious epistle is the exposition. So likewise, as to the Tabernacle itself (with Eleazar and Shiloh), wherein was the candlestick and the table and the show-bread, what is Paul uncovering to his beloved Hebrews in this epistle but the things themselves in their great Antitype, who is passing before them in the glory of His Person." (J. E. Batten, 1870.)

"Thou art the everlasting Word—
  The Father's only Son,
God manifest, God seen and heard,
  The heaven's beloved One.
Worthy, O Lamb of God, art Thou,
That every knee to Thee should bow."

Chapter 2
The First Journey
Num. 10:33, 36.

This was not Israel's first journey in the wilderness. Of that journey Exodus 15 gives us the story in a few words: "They went three days' journey in the wilderness and found no water." Elim, Sin, Dophkah, Alush, Rephidim, follow in quick succession, all presenting lessons more or less valuable for us if ready to learn them, for is it not written that, "all these things happened unto them for ensamples (types): and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the age are come." (1 Cor. 10:11.) Let us now follow their first journey in the company and under the protection of the Ark. And Numbers 10:33-36 gives us this, with its simple and pathetic appeal of Moses to his brother-in-law, Hobab, for guidance in the unknown way of the wilderness—concluding with, "And thou mayest be to us instead of eyes."

Not in word, but by action, prompt and direct, does the Lord graciously reprove Moses for this slight. "And the Ark of the covenant of the Lord went before them in the three days' journey to search out a resting-place for them."

Beautiful and touching act of grace, more effectual than words of rebuke. This first journey, too, witnesses to another thing that we shall have occasion to notice as we proceed, that is, that God does not hesitate to depart from His own ordered way, when the occasion calls for a fresh exhibition of His grace. In the centre was the place of the Ark, following the camp of Judah, and the sons of Gershon who bare the Tabernacle. Immediately behind the three tribes which formed the camp of Reuben, "the Kohathites set forward bearing the sanctuary, and the others did set up the tabernacle against they came." (Num. 10:21.) Following these, again, came the three tribes of the camp of Ephraim, which, in a later day gave occasion, no doubt, to David's beautiful refrain in the eightieth Psalm, "Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh stir up thy strength, and come and save us." These three tribes being next in order to the Ark.

How touching and inspiring it is to trace these ways of God in days of old! To see the waters of Marah robbed of their bitterness, followed by Elim with its welcome rest and refreshment; while manna comes in due course, day by day, direct from heaven, and even quails, to still the murmurs of a people so ready to complain and to regret the loss of the fleshpots of Egypt.

A deeply instructive lesson is to be learned, too, from the difference between the record now before us of the people's part in this three days' journey, and that first provision of God's goodness and grace after the first three days' journey from the Red Sea to Marah. Scarcely had the song of triumph of Exodus 15 died on their lips, and the timbrels and dances ceased, before they began to complain, and long for Egypt's food. But then God met it all in pure unmixed grace. The more they murmured, the more He gave them. That was in the wilderness of Shur. Here at Taberah a different character of dealing meets us. "And when the people complained, it displeased the Lord, and the Lord heard it, and His anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp." (Num. 11:1.)

Why this striking difference? The first occasion was pure grace, but between that scene in the wilderness of Shur, and this in the wilderness of Paran, Sinai had come in, and the people had promised obedience. Too ready to say, "All that the Lord has said we will do," they have to suffer under the chastening hand of God the bitter fruits of their rebellious unbelief.

Have we not often wondered where the Lord found the answer to His grace that made Him write, "Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the Lord, I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals when thou wentest after Me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown." (Jer. 2:2.) If we had to write of Israel's early history, we would more probably have written: "When thou wentest away from Me in the wilderness." But the same God says by the mouth of another prophet, "When Israel was a child then I loved him; and called my son out of Egypt." (Hosea 2:1.) And deeper still is the mystery of that love, as it finds its further expression in the life on earth of the ever blessed Son of David, in due time going through the history of that people in suffering and rejection, but without failure, and in Divine perfection, when, "He came unto His own and His own received Him not," but said, "This is the heir; come, let us kill Him, and let vs seize on His inheritance." (Matt. 21:38.)

He, the Good Shepherd, died not only for that nation, and may not we, some of the "other sheep" who have learnt the true meaning of the words, "Them also I must bring," seek to value more the sufferings and death of that blessed Saviour

But to return to our subject. In the brief account that the one verse of Numbers 10 gives us, there is no hint of any distance between the people and the Ark going before them, "to search out a resting-place." But this departure from the regular order has its due significance. The had come when they were to begin their direct march towards the land of their inheritance. The silver trumpets sound the prescribed alarm (Num. 10:5), and all the vast camp is at once astir with preparation for it. Yet there is, no confusion, all is divinely ordered, and apart from the deviation we have already been considering, they complete their first journey in the company of, and led by, the Ark of God. "And it came to pass when the ark set forward, that Moses said, Rise up, Lord, and let Thine enemies be scattered, and let them that hate Thee flee before Thee. And when it rested he said, Return, O Lord, unto the many thousands of Israel." (Num. 10:35-36.)

Before we pass on it may be well to note also the double character of the Christian's path and service which is here illustrated. It is our privilege and charge, to guard with fidelity and, may we say, jealously, the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ—to hold fast His Name; and not deny the faith—"His faith." (Rev. 2:13.)

The thirty-third chapter of Numbers enumerates forty-and-two journeys of the people from Rameses to Beth-jesimoth, and Moses sums up in a very striking way the object God had in view in directing these wanderings. "And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee, these forty years in the wilderness to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart whether thou wouldest keep His commandments or no. And He humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that He might make thee know that man does not live by bread only, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord does man live." (Deut. 8:2-3.)

Doubtless, we Christians also are left to pass through the wilderness for a similar reason—to learn our own hearts on the one hand—that is, what we are; and on the other—what God is —

"In the desert God will teach thee
What the God that thou hast found,
Patient, gracious, powerful, holy,
All His grace shall here abound.

"On to Canaan's rest still wending
E'en thy wants and woes shall bring
Suited grace from high descending,
Thou shalt taste of mercy's spring.

"Though thy way be long and dreary,
Eagle strength He'll still renew
Garments fresh and foot unweary
Tell how God has brought thee through.

Chapter 3
The Ark in the Jordan
Joshua 4.

At the end of the forty-and-two journeys named above, we read (48th verse), "They departed from the mountains of Abarim, and pitched in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho." And here we resume our task, as it is with the journeys in the book of Joshua and beyond that we are to occupy ourselves, rather than with the history and incidents recorded in "Numbers."

"The Lord spake unto Joshua, the son of Nun, Moses' minister, saying, Moses my servant is dead, now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou and all this people, unto the land which I do give them, even to the children of Israel." (Joshua 1:1-2.)

The passage of the Jordan gives us one of the most interesting and instructive scenes in all God's dealings with Israel. Jehovah had said to Moses, "When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God on this mountain." (Ex. 3:12.) So their road was to be by the mount of God, and their arrival at Sinai was, as it were, the completion of the first state of the journey. The second (reckoning in this way) was Kadesh-barnea, which they reached before the end of the second year after the exodus from Egypt. The third was the plains of Moab, having left the wilderness for ever when they had crossed the brook Zered. (Deut. 2:13-14.) How significant it is to notice that between Sinai and Kadesh is a journey of eleven days only. (Deut. 1:2.) Between Kadesh and the brook Zered, thirty-eight years were spent in the wanderings enumerated in Numbers 33, as noticed in our last chapter.

Thus the fortieth year of their pilgrimage came to a close, and on the tenth day of the first month of another year the passage of the Jordan took place.

Death had done its solemn work amongst the people from time to time. All the grown-up men and women that came out of Egypt (except Joshua and Caleb) had fallen in the wilderness, in righteous judgment of their unbelief, although in their victories over the Amorites and the Midianites they did not lose a single man. The prophetess, and the high priest, and lastly the Mediator himself, were also all gone, and now there lay before them the waters of the Jordan to be crossed, and the numerous enemies in the land itself to be subdued.

Here the wisdom, and the power, no less than the "forbearing love," of Jehovah the God of Israel is displayed in new and varied ways. Truly His way is "in the Sea," and "in the Sanctuary." (Ps. 77:13, 19.)

Again, here we have to note a marked departure from the general order of the march, both with regard to the position of the Ark amongst the people, and as to those who carried it. And as we proceed in our journeys we shall find three other occasions of a similar kind, all of special import and value in their place, and fraught with deep instruction for our souls as Christians.

The place of prominence which was given to the Ark in the passage of the Jordan must strike every observant reader. We may only glance at the details. By Joshua's instructions, "The officers went through the host, and they commanded the people saying, When ye see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it. Yet there shall be a space between you and it about two thousand cubits by measure, come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go; for ye have not passed this way heretofore. … And Joshua spake unto the priests saying, Take up the ark of the covenant and pass over before the people." ( Joshua 3:2, 6.)

So that, instead of being borne on the shoulders of the Kohathites in the usual way, and that in the midst of the people, a space of more than half a mile in advance of them was to be carefully observed for the Ark here, "so that they came not near unto it." And it was carried on the shoulders of the priests.

With what intensity of interest must that large concourse of people have watched the effect of the Ark's approaching, thus borne, to the brink of the rushing river, overflowing all its banks, as usual at the time of harvest, and witnessed its torrent suddenly arrested by the touch of the priests' feet. Blessed evidence this of the presence and power of God, acting in order that His redeemed people might pass over into the land of their inheritance. Witness also that silent and most striking manifestation of what God can do, and does do, when He purposes to bless.

There was no word of command from Joshua—no rod of Moses—no judgment of the enemy there, but the people saw how the hand of God held the waters back and made a dry passage "until all the people were passed clean over Jordan." Cut off by the power of the God of all the earth, a dry bed some miles in length stretched below them, and in a day long to be remembered that vast number of men, women and children, passing by the spot where the priests' feet stood firm, landed safely on "the other side of Jordan." Twelve stones were set up in the bed of the river, and twelve more taken from the spot where the priests stood, are set up at the place of their safe landing, "for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever. (Joshua 4:7.) Note how God foresees that their children would ask questions as to these stones in time to come, and the thoughtfulness of His injunctions as to this.

Now word or two as to the typical meaning of this passage of the Jordan. What can we as Christians learn from it? That it is a striking type of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ needs scarcely to be said. Can we read the account of it without thinking of Him Who stood firm in the waters of death and judgment to secure a safe passage from death to life for all who trust Him, and to secure for them, on the other side "an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away." (1 Peter 1:3-4.) In this, the Jordan agrees, or shall we say coalesces, in its teaching with the Red Sea. It is a type or figure of the death of Christ, but with this marked difference, that when Jordan was crossed there was no striking of the waters with the rod of Moses, and no judgment of the pursuing enemy. It was there barring their entrance into the land of promise, and the last barrier to be surmounted.

Our readers will very probably be acquainted with the idea, made familiar by Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress" and other books, that the passage of the Jordan typifies the believer's passage through death into heaven. But the one thing (if there were no others) that nullifies this interpretation is, that when the Jordan was crossed, the people of Israel had to fight for the possession of the land. They had to make good, so to speak, their possession by walking through it, and clearing out the nations occupying it. Now when we (believers) get to heaven, we know that it will be rest, not warfare. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. To inhabit the place prepared for us in the "many mansions" of the "Father's house." "There remains therefore a rest to the people of God." (Heb. 4:9.) And that great Sabbath of rest is in heaven surely.

We shall not need then a trowel, much less a sword, for both building and fighting will for ever have ceased.

We must therefore look further for the true application of this type to our Christian life. In order to live in and enjoy the land so long promised, the enemy had to be driven out foot by foot as it were, and therefore before they actually met the enemy, or struck a blow, "The Captain of the Lord's host" appears to Joshua, "with his sword drawn in his hand." Blessed type surely of our risen Lord Who not only sympathises with us, and sustains our infirmities, but leads and guards and guides His people in service and conflict.

We would also point out some other notable differences between the Red Sea and the Jordan. There was no Ark at the Red Sea, while in the Jordan scene it is the prominent feature. The former was deliverance out of Egypt, while the Jordan is entrance into Canaan. It is true that the same general thought prevails in both types, but the teaching of the Red Sea is the death of Christ as smitten for us, for all His people; while the Jordan foreshadows our death and resurrection with Him. This explains the exhortations in the epistles of Colossians and Ephesians, such as "Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ" (Col. 2:20); and "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God" (Col. 3:1). And again, as in Ephesians: "But God Who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together with Christ (by grace ye are saved) and has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places an Christ Jesus." (Eph. 2:4-6.)

Some of our readers are familiar perhaps with a hymn that says:
"Jesus died and we died with Him,
Buried in His grave we lay,
One with Him in resurrection,
Now 'in Him' in heaven's bright day."

When we sing this, and similar expressions, we are not thinking of actual physical death, but of what is true in the reckoning of God of all who believe in Christ. For we have died out of the old condition, and are alive, as possessing life in a new sphere.

Now a word as to this question of conflict: our aim being to notice practical results rather than doctrinal distinctions. Of the conflict with self—the flesh which is in us—every believer is more or less conscious, and many of the brightest Christians have left a testimony as to the strenuousness of the battle. It is recorded of the well-known Christian soldier, General Gordon, that when asked what was the greatest battle he had ever fought, he replied that his greatest battle was with himself. And he is not alone in this experience; for we have heard many such remarks.

The sixth chapter of Romans, 11th verse, teaches us an important lesson as to this, namely, that God's way of deliverance is "Reckon ye yourselves dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God in Jesus Christ our Lord," and this is the secret of the triumphant opening of the eighth chapter. Not only that there is no judgment to be feared, no condemnation to be dreaded, but that the believer is in Christ. In a new place, governed by a new rule of life (Christ), and a new power of life (the Holy Spirit), not only is deliverance known and enjoyed, but the character of his conflict is changed to that which is against Christ, and the word of God, rather than against himself.

We doubt not that the principle of identification with Christ in death and resurrection, "raised together," as the Scripture expresses it, is set forth in type by the priests bearing the Ark going down into the Jordan, as they represented the whole people of Israel in a way the Levites could not. Hence also the importance the Lord attaches to the setting up of the twelve stones on the landing-place, taken up from the spot where the feet of the priests stood firm in the bed of the river.

"Reckon ye yourselves dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God in Jesus Christ our Lord." We must now return to the banks of the Jordan, where we find set forth the character of the warfare a Christian has to engage in when he has taken this place which belongs to him as dead and risen with Christ, and for this we must look rather to the Epistle to the Ephesians.

It will be at once seen that there is a marked difference between the warfare we read of in the sixth chapter of Ephesians, and that in the sixth and seventh of Romans. There is not a word in the latter about "armour" or "wrestling." We are not told to wrestle with our old nature—the flesh—or even to try and subdue it, but to reckon it dead, and thus we learn the true meaning of baptism. We see what God has done with us, and not only our sins, in the death of Christ. In Ephesians is unfolded the most exalted character of Christianity. It declares that God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, and also seated us in heavenly places in Christ. Then we are exhorted to "put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil: for our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (or the heavenlies). (Eph. 6:11-12, New Trans.)

It is not difficult to see the different character of these two conflicts, between "the flesh" in ourselves and others, and the powers of spiritual wickedness arrayed against Christ and the truth, but perhaps the difficulty of understanding it lies in the fact that we are so little free from ourselves, and the worldly influences around us, and so lack discernment of the reality of true spiritual warfare. Suffice it to say that "this latter is what answers to the enemies in the land," in contrast to those met with in the wilderness. How we need to pray "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him; the eyes of our understanding being enlightened, that we may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints." (Eph. 1:17-18.)

For the sake of young Christians we would like to make as clear as we can what is said above as to Christian conflict and experience. We know that it is by the Holy Spirit's help alone any of us can understand the things of God that are so freely given us, but it must be understood that in what has been said as to the typical meaning of the Jordan, no question is raised as to the assurance of salvation, and the certainty of heaven and glory as the portion of every true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. "We give thanks unto the Father, Who has made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light, Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the Kingdom of His dear Son, in Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins." (Col. 1:12-14.)

Neither do we question that the "Red Sea" beautifully sets forth the positive deliverance effected for all believer's in the death and resurrection of Christ. He having died and risen again, the death and judgment that were once before us (and are now before all who are out of Christ) are gone for ever. "Since therefore the children partake of flesh and blood, He also in like manner took part in the same, that through death He might annul him who has the might of death, that is the devil; and might set free all those who through fear of death, through the whole of their life were subject to bondage." (Heb. 2:14-15. New Trans.)

But besides this there is the further truth, as before referred to, that we have died with Christ and are exhorted to reckon ourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through (or in) Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:11.) "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death." (Rom. 8:2.)

"In present blest acceptance
In Him Who came to die,
In Him Who now is seated
At God's right hand on High,
In grace which is unchanging
We stand from day to day,
And prove the boundless mercies
Which strew our pilgrim way."

Chapter 4
The Ark Before Jericho
Joshua 6

"Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel, none went out, and none came in."

One barrier has been surmounted, and now another of a different character, but none the less formidable, presents itself. The Ark comes into prominence again here, where every detail relating thereto will well repay our meditation.

The deeply valuable lessons of Gilgal, and other halting-places, we must of necessity pass over. At Gilgal the people eat of the old corn of the land, "And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more, but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year. And it came to pass when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold; there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay, but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come."

Thus was Joshua heartened for the task before him, of leading the Lord's host into possession of the promised inheritance, held at that moment by powerful enemies. And what attitude more becoming could he have taken than to enquire, "What saith my Lord unto His servant?"

With everything thus left in God's hands, He arranges the order, and for the second time we find Him departing from His own original plan, and the priests are called upon to bear the Ark instead of the Levites. As we know the Kohathites (men of Kohath, one of the sons of Levi) were at first called to this special service of bearing upon their shoulders the Ark of God, which, with the other sacred vessels, had already been covered up in due order by the priests.

Here, as we have said, the priests are called upon to carry it, while seven other priests march in front of the Ark bearing seven trumpets of rams' horns, preceded by a company of armed men. It is evidently here priestly work that has to be done. The people were by this time familiar with the sound of the silver trumpets calling an alarm for each new setting forth, but in this case trumpets of rams' horns for the first time are to be used, and these must have emitted a very different note from the clarion call of the silver horns..

What lesson more evident can be learnt here than that of absolute dependence upon God; and perhaps the blowing of the rams' horns, with their unmusical and monotonous notes, suggests true prayer, which is always the expression of dependence.

What strange tactics, what futile efforts, must this marching of the great host have seemed to the people of Jericho, as day after day they surrounded the city in this extraordinary fashion! The armed men, the priests with their rams' horn trumpets, and then that strange object on the shoulders of priests, covered with a blue cloth. What can it all mean? That symbol of the Divine presence, which meant everything to Israel, must have appeared the strangest thing of all to the people of Jericho, and after six days no sign appeared of any result following these seemingly strange proceedings, nor even from the six more circuits of the seventh day. But "It came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the Lord has given you the city." … "So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city." (Joshua 6:16, 20.)

May we not learn some helpful lesson here? How often in our path does a difficulty present itself, as strong and apparently impassable as the walls of Jericho? difficulty not of the ordinary kind perhaps, nor arising from any failure on our part, but growing even out of a desire to serve the Lord and be obedient to His Word and Name. The way is blocked as effectually as by a walled city, and we have felt powerless to find a way through.

Let us remember Jericho, and the seven days' monotonous marches, and the rams' horn trumpets; and be encouraged in prayer and dependence, the prayer of faith shall bring the power of God down on our behalf, and He will give deliverance in His due time and way.

What says Hebrews 11:30? "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days." The two men whom Joshua sent into Jericho to view the land said,—"Truly the Lord has delivered into our hands all the land, for even all the inhabitants of the country do faint because of us." (Joshua 2:24.) And they had not then actually come to Jericho, but their faith was of the same kind and quality as the faith of Caleb who forty years before, when Moses sent spies from the wilderness of Paran, stilled the people before Moses, and said, "Let us go up at once and possess it, for we are well able to overcome it."

Alas Israel as a whole were ever the same. They were in the hands and under the eye of the same God forty years before as now, and He could as well have taken them into the land then as now. "If God be for us, who can be against us?" He is the giver of faith, and may try it, but He also honours it.

"We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what work Thou didst in their days in the times of old. How Thou didst drive out the heathen with Thy hand, and plantedst them, how Thou didst afflict the people, and cast them out. For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them; but Thy right hand, and Thine arm, and the light of Thy countenance, because Thou hadst a favour unto them." (Psalm 44:2-3.)

Did not our Lord Himself speak a parable to this end, "that men ought always to pray and not to faint? (Luke 18:1.) And by His servant Paul later He exhorts us to "Be careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." (Phil. 4:8.)

There is also a difference to be noted between the enemies Israel met with in the land, and those like Amalek that they had to contend with in the wilderness. In the latter they were not equipped for war, they were a defenceless and dependent host passing through the desert on foot and, as in the case of Edom, anxious to avoid fighting. Hence the striking deliverance from Amalek's attempt to hinder them, and the judgment of God on this particular enemy, declaring war upon them "from generation to generation," because they fell upon the weak and tired stragglers.

The Philistines, on the contrary, were in the land, and hostile from the very first, although their part of the country was not promised to Israel. They represent typically the enemies of Christ inside the profession of Christianity, allowed to be there through the laxity and unfaithfulness of His people. When we think of the enemies of the truth to-day, where are the most dangerous of these to be found? Not in the ranks of the infidel or careless crowd outside, but amongst the so-called "higher critics" and those who attack the foundations of the faith, and the blessed Person of the Lord Jesus from inside. It is in the house of His friends (or professed friends) that again the Lord is wounded.

What we need to-day in the face of all these enemies, and these "cities walled up to heaven" as it were, is the like faith of Joshua and Caleb. When the spies compared themselves with the giants in the land, they were as grasshoppers in their own sight, but when faith (in Caleb) contrasted the giants with the God of Israel, then these giants were the grasshoppers. "Joshua and Caleb who walked in faith with God through the land, made a good report of it, and carried a cluster of the grapes of Eshcol, and brought of the pomegranates and the figs as proof of what grew there." Their confidence was in the right hand of God's power, which had destroyed Pharaoh and his hosts in the Red Sea, and would further display itself in driving out the Canaanites on the other side of Jordan, if there was but faith on the part of Israel to trust Him. Instead of this the congregation murmured against Moses and Aaron, and said one to another, "Let us make a captain and return into Egypt."

For our conflict with spiritual wickedness to-day, the Lord has made every provision, "that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day" (see Eph. 6:10-17), and the description of this "whole armour," or panoply, is completed by the behest—"Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints." (Eph. 6:18.)

We are reminded of C. Wesley's beautiful hymn —

"Thou dost conduct Thy people
Safely through all temptation;
Nor will we fear, since Thou art near,
  The fire of tribulation.
The world with sin and Satan
Display their strength before us,
By Thee we shall break through them all
  And join the heavenly chorus.

"By faith we see the glory
Of which Thou dost assure us;
The world despise, for that high prize
  Which Thou hast set before us.
And may we counted worthy
To meet the Son from heaven,
There see our Lord, by all adored,
  To us in glory given."

Chapter 5
The Ark at Mount Ebal
Joshua 8:30, 35

Perhaps the beautiful incident connected with Mount Ebal has received comparatively little notice from the Lord's people, as compared with some of the memorable occasions in Israel's history that we are commenting on, but it is well worth our study.

"Then Joshua built an altar unto the Lord God of Israel in Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the Lord commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of whole stones, over which no man has lift up any iron; and they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the Lord and sacrificed peace offerings. And he wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel. And all Israel, and their elders, and officers, and their judges stood on this side The Ark and on that side, before the priests the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord."

The hour had now come for the carrying out of the instructions given to Moses with great detail in Deuteronomy, chapter 27, and great care is taken by Joshua concerning it, for there was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel." (Joshua 8:35.)

It may be asked why was Mount Ebal chosen as the locality for this deeply impressive ceremony, and what is the meaning of it? The very spot was selected by Moses, although he had never seen it: "On the other side Jordan, by the way where the sun goes down, in the land of the Canaanites, which dwell in the champaign over against Gilgal, beside the plains of Moreh." (Deut. 11:30.) And in Deuteronomy 27:1-7 the great lawgiver instructs them what to do when they get there. "Half of them (that is six tribes) over against Mount Gerizim, and half of them over against Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel. And afterwards he (Joshua) read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law." (Joshua 8:33-34.)

But the one prominent feature in this scene, as depicted in Joshua, remains unnoticed by Moses in Deuteronomy. The Ark of the covenant of Jehovah was there also. And for the third time it is borne on the shoulders of the priests, instead of by the Levites. No mention is made of the Tabernacle. Apparently the Ark was brought out from the Holy of Holies, and as at the Jordan and Jericho—borne in this marked manner in the centre of the great assembly—it stood as the silent witness of Israel's act in taking formal possession of their promised inheritance.

And no other spot in all the land, whether viewed geographically or historically, was so appropriate for the occasion. They stood on the one spot in all the earth, which God had sworn to Abraham hundreds of years before to give to his seed, and there now they assemble to read the title-deeds of their inheritance, some five centuries later. An oak tree was there, too, perhaps the same by which Abraham had pitched his tent (for oak trees live long), and some years after, when Joshua took his leave of the people in anticipation of his departure by repetition of the solemn covenant they assented to, "He took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the Lord. And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it has heard all the words of the Lord which He spake unto us; it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God." (Joshua 24:26-27.)

How much more might this be said of the important event we are considering in the valley of Mount Ebal. Did not the Ark of the covenant of the Lord hear all that was said there, and was it not a witness, not only of Israel's taking possession of their promised inheritance, but that God took possession of the land in and through His people, reminding us of what Ephesians 1:18 speaks of as God's inheritance in His saints? For as the land was the land of the possession of the Lord (Joshua 22:19), and He possessed it in His people, so will it be with the still wider inheritance in which we are concerned, which we shall share through grace with the Lord Jesus Christ.

"But," to quote the words of another, "their right of possession was not dependent on conquest, though their enjoyment of it necessitated warfare."

And this weighty word leads us to consider briefly what those possessions are which the Christian also inherits, as well as whether we are careful to appropriate them, that is to enter upon them by faith. The children of Israel took possession, as we know, under the old covenant of obedience, and apparently were very ready to bind themselves under it as to all that was imposed upon them—"And the people said unto Joshua, The Lord our God will we serve, and His voice will we obey." (Joshua 24:24) The issue of this we know well, and how that which was so often predicted has come to pass. "When ye have transgressed the covenant of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, and have gone and served other gods and bowed yourselves to them; then shall the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and ye shall perish quickly from off the good land which He has given you." (Joshua 23:16.)

But we, too, are frequently warned and admonished as to the "evil heart of unbelief" so prevalent in Israel, though, thank God, blessed under "a more excellent ministry," by The One "Who is the Mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises." That same blessed Mediator will, in God's due time, bring repentant Israel into that land again, and establish them there under a rule where "mercy and truth have met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other."

We shall have other opportunities as we advance to consider our Christian privileges; meanwhile let us return to the valley between Ebal and Gerizim.

When we think of that great assembly listening to the words of the covenant, and reading their title-deeds as it were to the land, we wonder if there were not among the men of the two and a half tribes some hearts that felt misgivings as to the rightness (if not the wisdom) of the choice they had made in selecting their homes on the east side of the Jordan. Did it raise no question, as even more pointedly in a later day, as to whether they were where they ought to be? How often does a somewhat similar question arise in the heart or conscience of a Christian, when we read those wondrous truths unfolded in the Epistles of the New Testament, as to how far we are by faith in the possession of, or in the enjoyment of, the things that really belong to us as those that are alive from the dead, as "risen with Christ."

Peter writes to the natural descendants of the very people who went into the promised land under Joshua, but these had been under the rule and tribute of a foreign potentate, in that very land, which fact alone speaks volumes as to what Israel's failure as a nation had been. Now, however, they had believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah Whom the nation had rejected, "Who came unto His own, and His own received Him not." They were redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, and for His sake, for faithfulness to Him, their Saviour and Lord, they were "scattered strangers" in strange lands, and Peter cheers them with a message of hope and glory in the living words—"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time." (1 Peter 1:3-5.)

Here is God-given certainty—a reserved inheritance for a preserved people. And both the epistles of this great apostle abound in encouragement and hope for a tried and suffering people. Yet he warns them to desire the sincere milk of the word that they might grow thereby, and exhorts them to sobriety and watchfulness and, several times, to diligence; finishing his second letter with a solemn warning: "Lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." (2 Peter in 18)

More about our inheritance is found in the well-known passages in Colossians 1:12 and 3:24, but these Scriptures evidently refer to the future—our heavenly inheritance, as in Peter 1 and 2 and Acts 26:18. Space forbids our quoting all these at length, and our purpose will be better served, perhaps, by reminding our readers of the reproofs in the Corinthian and Hebrew epistles to those addressed, because they were "babes" when they ought to be "perfect," that is,
"matured," or "grown up." Hence the exhortation to "grow in the true knowledge of God." (Col. 1:10, R.V.) Why, again, does Paul speak of agonising (travailing) in birth till Christ be formed in the Galatians? This must surely be quite a different state of soul, and of Christian experience, from such as is expressed by words we have heard—"Well, I know I'm saved and that's quite sufficient for me."

But may we devote a word or two to the exhortations in the Epistle to the Ephesians on this subject before we pass on our journey? What is the meaning of the prayer of the apostle in the end of the first chapter—"That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation, in the knowledge of Him; the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe," etc.?

Without attempting here an exposition of this passage, it is quite clear that "the inheritance" here spoken of, and in the eleventh verse, is not confined to the thought of our heavenly home and rest, and—taken with the other parts of this epistle, especially the end of the third chapter—open to us an enlarged view of what the Christian possessions really are.

For the sake of our young readers, let us take an illustration from everyday life. We meet an acquaintance who tells us he has recently heard that a nice little estate in the West of England has been left to him. We congratulate him, of course, and in answer to our questions he says the title is quite clear, and he hopes in a few days to run down to see it. A few months after we meet him again and instead of a description of his unexpected fortune, we are surprised to hear him say he hasn't yet seen it. "Anything wrong about the title-deeds," we enquire? "Oh, no! that's all right, no doubt, but various little matters have taken up all my attention; still, I hope to go there soon." But more surprising still, we meet him again in another few months, and instead of being able to rejoice with him over his acquisition, and hearing the details of the house, the gardens, the land, etc., he says he hopes it is all right, and trusts the deeds are all, clear, etc. etc.

We smile at such a parable as this. Not so does a man treat earthly things. How many days would he let pass without exploring his inheritance? But, alas, when it is spiritual possessions we speak of, what apathy, what indifference we have to mourn over! The newly acquired earthly estate is well proved, but how slow we are to explore the "breadth and length, and depth and height, and to know the love of Christ that passes knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God."

The word to Joshua was: "Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given you, as I said unto Moses." (Joshua 1)

The word to us is: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love may grow up into Him in all things which is the head, even Christ." (Eph. 4:14-15.)

"Thy word, Thyself reflecting,
  Doth sanctify by truth,
Still leading on Thy children
  With gentle heavenly growth.
Thus still the work proceedeth,
  The work begun by grace,
For each is meet, and training,
  Father, to see Thy face."

Chapter 6
The Ark in Shiloh
Joshua 18, etc.

It was while the Tabernacle was at Gilgal that the memorable event we have been meditating upon took place. For this important ceremony the Ark appears to have been brought from its place in the Holy of Holies, to be the witness of the faithfulness of God in the destruction of Jericho. "Has He said and shall He not do it? or, Has He spoken and shall He not make it good?" (Num. 23:19.)

Gilgal seems to have been "the base" for all the conquest of the land, and well it might be, for there the Lord (Jehovah) said unto Joshua, "This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you. Wherefore the name of that place was called Gilgal (that is 'rolling') unto this day." There "the children of Israel kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho." (Joshua 5:9-10.)

The next journey was to Shiloh. "And the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of the congregation there, and the land was subdued before them." (Joshua 18:1.) Many memories crowd around the long residence of the Ark in Shiloh. It does not appear in Scripture that the place was so named by Israel, for the name means "rest," and the real rest for the Ark, as for the people of God, was yet a long way off. Here Joshua divided the remainder of the land amongst the tribes "before the Lord, at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, so they made an end of dividing the land." From the latter days of Joshua, all through the times of the Judges, till Samuel came upon the scene (covering something like three hundred years), the place of the Ark was in Shiloh.

The two and a half tribes who had chosen their inheritance on the eastern side of the Jordan, were demobilised to their homes and families by Joshua with a blessing. But they soon discover what their sorrowful choice had cost them. They had lost the place in the land where the Lord had recorded His name. Where also in the priesthood and the sacrifices He had provided for their worship, and their restoration when defiled. The returning tribes build an altar by Jordan, "A great altar to see to," lest the children of the other tribes should say to their children in time to come—"Ye have no part in the Lord." They name the altar Ed (witness), for "it shall be a witness between us that Jehovah is God." (Joshua 22:34.) But was it not a witness that they were not in the place of privilege where they might have been, though within the limits of Israel's promised possession? (Gen. 15:18, etc.)

Only one reference to the Ark is found in all the Book of Judges, and that is, when, in the depths of their distress over one of the darkest episodes in all their history, eleven of the tribes turn to God to enquire why they were smitten down before their brethren the Benjamites, whom they in righteous indignation had set out to punish for their sin in the matter of Gibeah.

We must glance hastily at these dark days. Israel went from bad to worse, until we read that—"They set them up Micah's graven image which he made, all the time that the house of God was in Shiloh." Miserable because unfaithful, they cry unto God in the depths of their wretchedness time and again, and, "His soul was grieved for the misery of Israel." Seven times over in a few chapters we read, "The children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord." But, oh, what wondrous grace on His part! "Nevertheless, the Lord raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them." … "And when the Lord raised them up judges, then the Lord was with the judge, and delivered them out of the land of their enemies all the days of the judge." (Judges 2:18.)

We have said that Shiloh was only a temporary rest, but we must be careful to note that there was nothing wanting on God's part. "So the Lord gave unto Israel all the land which He sware to give unto their fathers, and they possessed it, and dwelt therein. And the Lord gave them rest round about according to all that He sware unto their fathers; and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand. There failed not aught of any good thing which Jehovah had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass." (Joshua 21:45, R.V.)

But as another has said, "The Book of Judges is the history of the failure of Israel," and the misery into which their unfaithfulness brought them moved the compassion of God, for He in wondrous grace raised up deliverers, one after another, in the persons of the judges, as noted above. We cannot do better here than give a few verses from the 78th Psalm, in which the conduct of Israel at this time is graphically described.

"He (God) cast out the heathen also before them, and divided them an inheritance by line, and made the tribes of Israel to dwell in their tents. Yet they tempted and provoked the Most High God, and kept not His testimonies; but turned back and dealt unfaithfully like their fathers: they were turned aside like a deceitful bow. For they provoked Him to anger with their high places, and moved Him to jealousy with their graven images. When God heard this He was wroth, and greatly abhorred Israel, so that He forsook the Tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which He placed among men; and delivered His strength into captivity, and His glory into the enemy's hand." (Ps. 78:55-61.)

Sad to say, similar declension and failure has always been the result of what God has committed to man and entrusted to him to maintain. In its general features, the history of the Church presents the same story of failure and faithlessness. Set up on the divine foundation of the death and resurrection of Christ, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets of the New Testament, how short, indeed, is the duration of that blessed time of simplicity and joy, described in the end of the second chapter of The Acts.

The fine gold had already become dimmed in the state of the church of Ephesus, as seen by the eyes of the Lord Jesus walking in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks. (Rev. 1.) The Apostle Paul, when leaving Ephesus for the last time, said: "For I know this that after my departure shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock, also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them. (Acts 20:29-30.) The tribulation, and poverty, and persecution, through which the church at Smyrna passed kept her testimony bright, no doubt, and she is encouraged by the Lord's promise of reward for her faithfulness. But these conditions of the early Church are not only true of these seven churches, or assemblies, at that time, but are prophetical of the whole history of the professing Church during our Lord's absence on high, as shown by the number seven, and this view is now confirmed by the facts of history.

This being so, the state of Pergamos and Thyatira, in succession to that of Smyrna, depicts the worldliness and idolatry that crept into the Christian Church, and prevailed almost universally during the long period often spoken of as "the dark ages." Years of darkness succeeded, corresponding to the times of the Judges, when the only light that illumined the gloom was that of the martyr-fires, in which the few faithful witnesses remaining perished for Christ's sake.

Many a time, no doubt, some of those faithful ones had been tempted, when looking around, to cry with the prophet Elijah, "I only am left." But the Lord is not unmindful of all this, and from time to time in the Church's history He has graciously granted revivals, which seem to correspond with His action in Israel, when he raised up judges and gave periods of recovery, and times of rest, to His poor faithless people. We recall the well-known words, "And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson and of Jephthae." (Heb. 11:32.) These were some of the great deliverers whom God raised up, but alas! their efforts only produced a temporary result, only revivals. For the Book of Judges closes with the sad comment—"In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did that which was right in his own eyes."

Before resuming our journey, to follow the next movement of the Ark, we would look for a moment at the other side of this picture. Perhaps some young believer may be tempted to say, in view of all this declension in Christianity, what Gideon did when first addressed by the angel of the Lord,—"If God be with us, why has all this evil befallen us."

Now it is important to notice in this connection that the enemies at whose hands the Israelites suffered oppression from time to time, were those they had left alive in the land in consequence of their own disobedience to God, and lack of confidence in Him. So long as they went on in dependence upon God, no enemy could stand before them; they were granted successive victories, but it was entirely on account of their unfaithfulness that these enemies were left in the land: "The anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and He said, Because that this people has transgressed My covenant, which I commanded their fathers, and have not hearkened unto My voice; I also will not henceforth drive out any from before them of the nations which Joshua left when he died." (Judges 2:20-21.)

The power and the presence of God had not forsaken Israel up to the time of Joshua's departure. It was always available wherever there was faith to utilise it. But another secret is now disclosed as to the reason why God did not drive out these nations: "That through them I may prove Israel whether they will keep the way of the Lord to walk therein, as their fathers did keep it, or not. Therefore the Lord left those nations without driving them out hastily; neither delivered He them into the hand of Joshua." (Judges 2:22-23.)

Is not this in principle what we were seeking to point out in a former chapter? That is, we do not as Christians realise our heavenly privileges, or carry out Paul's exhortation to the Philippians, "Work out your own salvation, with fear and trembling, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence; for it is God which works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." (Phil. 2:12-13.) Then as to the Name and Word of the Lord, which He has committed to the Church to keep inviolate, so to speak, how great the failure has been!

The warning already referred to, so sorrowfully given to the Ephesian elders by the departing apostle, has proved prophetically true, and the present condition of the professing Church abundantly confirms it. We are reminded of the well-worn saying: "I looked for the Church and I found it in the world; I looked for the world and I found it in the Church." Just as the nations of Canaan, whom the Israelites spared through their indolence and disobedience, proved a snare to them, so has the Church been ensnared by the world into an alliance which has brought about the state of things so graphically described in the second Epistle to Timothy and other scriptures.

We forbear to quote these Scriptures at length, but perhaps might say for the sake of our younger readers, that it is important to distinguish between the outward profession of Christianity, generally included under the name of Christendom, and the Church in its true inner aspect, of which the Lord speaks in the well-known words—"Upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell (powers of Hades) shall not prevail against it." (Matt. 16:18.) It is still true that Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it. And as to believers in Him, He says, "I know My sheep, and am known of Mine." Yet, in the parables of the 13th chapter of Matthew, the Lord describes the condition of things in which we find ourselves to-day, in the parables of the "mustard seed," the leaven hidden in the meal, and "the tares of the field."

But there is no reason for discouragement in this. Though it be true that in New Testament days, as in Old Testament days, there is much failure on man's part, and great confusion everywhere around us, faith counts on God's resources, and no failure or exhaustion can come in there. Do not the epistles of the New Testament present to us in varied ways the unsearchable riches of Christ? And we are exhorted to go on with Him, as we have begun with Him, rooted and built up in Him, and established in the faith. To be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, to "fight the good fight of (the) faith," and to "Keep the commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ."

 "While in affliction's furnace
  And passing through the fire,
The love we praise which tries our ways
  And ever brings us nigher.
  We lift our hearts exulting
  In Thine Almighty favour;
The love divine which made us Thine
  Shall keep us Thine for ever."

Chapter 7
The Ark in Battle and in Captivity
1 Sam. 4-6.

As before noted the Tabernacle, with the Ark, was in Shiloh until the days of Samuel. The first Book of Samuel opens with the interesting narrative of his birth, and tells us that his mother, in fulfilment of her vow, presented him to Eli the priest for the service of the Lord's house. "And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground. … And the Lord appeared again in Shiloh: for the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord." (1 Sam. 3:19-21.)

From this last verse it would appear as if the Lord had temporarily withdrawn His presence from Israel, but however that may be their condition was low indeed. The sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, by their impious conduct had brought the services of the Lord's house into contempt. "For the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord, for men abhorred the offering of the Lord" (chap. 2:17). Eli; although pious and God-fearing himself, failed to maintain order in his family, and brought on a crisis in the history of Israel, resulting in their asking for "a king" like the nations around them. Of this change we may have to speak further on, but it was a momentous one. For they not only failed under the direct government of God, though receiving innumerable mercies nevertheless, but they now reject Him. Alone of all the nations of the earth in possessing this distinguished honour, they thrust it from them without compunction.

One of the nations that they failed to drive out was the Philistines. These were near neighbours, so to speak, dwelling in the extreme south-west of the promised land on the sea coast. Amongst their other sins, Judges (chap. 10:6) tells us that Israel served the gods of these Philistines, "and the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and He sold them into the hands of the Philistines" (chap. 10:7). Of the special battle under consideration we read, Israel went out against the Philistines to battle, and pitched beside Ebenezer, and the Philistines pitched in Aphek. And the Philistines put themselves in array against Israel, and when they joined battle Israel was smitten before the Philistines, and they slew of the army in the field about four thousand men." (1 Sam. 4:1-2.)

Insensible of their true condition poor Israel cries—"Wherefore has the Lord smitten us to-day before the Philistines?" When judgment threatened, instead of humbling themselves and confessing their sins, they endeavoured to identify Jehovah with their condition, and with impious daring take the Ark of the covenant of the Lord into the battle. The elders say—"Let us fetch the Ark of the covenant of the Lord out of Shiloh unto us, that when it comes among us it may save us out of the hand of our enemies." (1 Sam. 4:3.)

But God refused to aid them in this way and allows the Ark to be captured. "He delivered His strength into captivity and His glory into the enemy's hand." (Ps. 78:61.) Truly it was His seat amongst them, and the symbol of His presence, but as is ever the way when declension has set in amongst the people of God, rites and ordinances and things that were designed to lead to God are resorted to, instead of God Himself. They say "it may save us," not "God will save us." It is not faith in God that prompts now their action; they remembered perhaps what the Ark was for them at Jericho, but true faith cannot be imitated.

With a great shout that made the earth ring again, and sent dismay and fear into the hearts of the Philistines, they rejoice over the entrance of the Ark into the camp. The Philistines knew something of Israel's history, and in great fear they cry out, "God has come into the camp, Woe unto us, who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty gods? These are the gods that smote the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness." The battle was fought with the Ark upon the field, and thirty thousand more of Israel were slain; more than seven times the number that fell in the first engagement. God no longer acknowledges them, nor heeds their cries. The Ark of the covenant is taken, and the Philistines triumph over the actual capture of that which they had so much dreaded.

The throne of Jehovah is no longer in the midst of His people, the Tabernacle is empty, And there is now left no visible sign of their relationship with God.

The pious Eli, heavy with age, awaited the tidings at his seat in the gate of the city, and when the messenger brought not only the news of the defeat, and the death of his two sons, but the loss of the Ark, this aged heart-broken priest fell backward from his seat and died. His daughter-in-law, wife of Phinehas, also dies pronouncing the funeral oration of the unhappy people in the name of her newly-born son—"Ichabod, the glory is departed from Israel, for the Ark of God is taken."

But the triumph of the Philistines is of short duration. They transport the Ark to Ashdod, a town near the sea coast of their territory, and so traverse nearly the whole breadth of their land until they reach the temple of Dagon, their god. What a triumph this appeared for the enemy! The God of Israel seemed powerless, unable to protect the symbol of His presence. But nevertheless they were soon made to feel that it was a solemn matter to have to do with Jehovah, and that He would care for His own glory, even if He could not work for Israel's relief because of their sins. The Philistines found that it was no light thing to have the Ark in their midst. It was deposited in the temple of Dagon, side by side, as it were, with the heathen god, but "when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the earth before the Ark of the Lord." Supposing, possibly, this might have been accidental, they set up the idol again in its place for another night, only to find on the second morning—that "the head of Dagon and both the palms of his bands were cut off upon the threshold, only the stump was left to him." Nor was this all, "But the hand of the Lord was heavy upon them of Ashdod, and He destroyed them, and smote them with emerods, even Ashdod and the coast thereof." (1 Sam. 5:6.)

Eager now to get rid of the Ark of God, as they had been exultant to acquire it, they exclaim, "The Ark of the God of Israel shall not abide with us, for His hand is sore upon us, and upon Dagon our god." And by the advice of their rulers they send it to Gath, the most southern of their cities. But there the same dread consequences follow; the people are smitten with a very great destruction, and, eager to get rid of the scourge of disease and death, they send it to Ekron, the most northern city of the Philistine territory. But similar inflictions followed its presence in Ekron. "And it came to pass that the Ekronites cried out, saying, They have brought about the Ark of the God of Israel to us, to slay us and our people. So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, Send away the Ark of the God of Israel, and let it go again to its own place, that it slay us not and our people; for there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city: the hand of God was very heavy there." (1 Sam. 5:10-11.)

God thus vindicated His own glory. The symbol of His presence in the Philistines' country proved an awful calamity, and the Ark that was carried in triumph from the battlefield as a trophy of victory left a track of desolation and death in its train wherever taken. Even the land itself was marred by a plague of mice, so at the end of seven months they were only too glad to be rid of their burdensome capture. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." Under the advice of their priests and diviners they decide to send it to Bethshemesh, one of the near towns in the Israelites' country, in the valley of Sorek, on the slope of the mountains of Judea.

What took place there we must leave to another chapter, while we seek to gather up a few lessons from this most instructive stage of the journey.

As before noticed, the root of Israel's defeat lay in the fact that they resorted to the Ark as the means of help and aid, instead of turning in faith to God Whose presence in their midst it was the symbol of. If we ask the question, "Why did God allow the Ark to be taken?" the answer is, To teach His people a lesson they would not otherwise learn. Did not God Himself say that He dwelt between the cherubims? Had He ever failed them before when called upon? What does the 106th Psalm say? "Many times did He deliver them; but they provoked Him with their counsel, and were brought low for their iniquity; Nevertheless He regarded their affliction when He heard their cry." Twenty years after, on that same battlefield, against the same enemies, God gives them a most decisive victory, and they call the place Ebenezer, to commemorate the gracious intervention of God on their behalf. But of this more in its place.

As to the lesson for us, do we not find the same tendency amongst Christians to-day, to turn to forms and ceremonies, instead of walking and worshipping in the light God's word has thrown upon the place of blessing which the death and resurrection of Christ has brought us into?

Soon after the events we are commenting on, Israel desires to be like the nations around them, and asks for a king. The Lord interprets this as their rejection of Himself and the privileged place in which they stood before Him in contrast to all the other nations of the earth. The priesthood was the link with God, so to speak, and the High Priest with the Urim and Thummim the medium of God's communications.

The Christian has even a still more exalted privilege than this—his one great characteristic blessing being that every believer is brought into a position of direct communication with God, without any priest or intermediary whatever. "Therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God, … access by faith into the grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." (Rom. 5:1.)

The High Priest of our profession is Jesus the Christ on High, and we are exhorted in Hebrews 10 thus— "Having therefore, brethren, boldness (or liberty) to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus; by a new and living way which He has consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh; and having an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water" (vers. 19 to 22).

We learn from Exodus 19:6 what God had in view for Israel. "Ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation." This purpose was frustrated by their disobedience, and, like everything else proposed to man on the condition of obedience, was lost, so one tribe (the Levites) was called to that sacred office of priesthood. But God does not give up His purpose, and the first Epistle of Peter tells us (2nd chap., 9th verse) that this desire of God is fulfilled in those of that nation who received the Lord Jesus as their Saviour. Although scattered in the various provinces of Asia, despised and persecuted followers of Jesus of Nazareth, they are described in these words: Ye also as living stones are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. … But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation; a purchased people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvellous light." (1 Peter 2:5, 9.) While the sequel is, as usual, found in the Book of Revelation. "Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." (Rev. 1:5-6.)

These privileges and blessings are of course true of, and belong to, all believers (not only those among the Jews), and how jealous we ought to be of them. There is no such thing in the New Testament from beginning to end as an order or class of priests as distinct from the body of worshippers generally. It is of the very essence of Christianity that we all draw nigh to God as worshippers who are made nigh by the precious blood of Christ. Yet how many, alas! allow themselves to be robbed of these privileges by human inventions and arrangements. And what danger there is of allowing past blessings or even the remembrances of the Lord in His death (in the Lord's Supper) to become a mere ordinance or sacrament. Is not this something of the same character as "it" instead of "He" in 1 Samuel 4:3?

May we then take our stand in simple faith on the possessions, by grace made ours, and thereby enjoy our privileges. So shall we increase also in the true spiritual apprehension of what these possessions are. "But God Who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together with Christ (by grace are ye saved), and has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus; that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace, in kindness towards us through Christ Jesus." (Eph. 2:4-7.)

"Mid mightiest foes—most feeble are we,
Yet, trembling before our great Leader they flee;
The Lord is our Banner, the battle is His,
The weakest of saints more than conqueror is.

"And soon shall we enter our own promised land,
Around His bright throne in glory shall stand;
Our song then for ever and ever shall be,
'All glory and blessing, Lord Jesus, to Thee!'"

Chapter 8
From Ekron to Bethshemesh
1 Sam. 6:18.

To be rid of the burdensome Ark was now the desire of the Philistines after retaining it for seven months. They seek the advice of their priests and diviners, who wisely suggest that it should not be sent away empty, but be accompanied by a trespass offering, in order that it may be known by their being healed from the plagues why the hand of God had been upon them. This advice is strictly followed. A new cart was prepared to carry it, and two milch kine on which yoke had never been laid were harnessed to it. The trespass offering, consisting of five golden mice and five golden tumours, images of the plagues with which they had been chastened, were placed in a coffer by the side of the Ark on the cart, and the kine left to themselves as to their course.

It was a most ingenious test. The two kine were tied to the cart and their calves shut up at home. If the kine took the way to Bethshemesh, on the coast of Israel's territory, "then God has done us this great evil," they said, "but if not, then we shall know that it is not His hand that smote us, it was a chance that happened to us." God condescends to submit to this test, and the kine with no driver visible to human eyes turn not to their shut-up calves, but contrary to all natural instincts, take the straight road to Bethshemesh, lowing as they went; "and turned not aside to the right hand or the left, until they came into the field of Joshua the Bethshemite." Thus God directed His creatures, and the lords of the Philistines who had followed the cart all the way, returned to Ekron satisfied with the proof that it was the hand of God that had been upon them, their gods, and their land. The Lord might allow His people to become subject to their enemies because of their unfaithfulness, but He does not give them up. He even says, "You only have I known of all the families of the earth, therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities." (Amos 3:2.) But He also says, "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God." (Isa. 40:1.)

It was a serious lapse on Israel's part that led to this captivity of God's Ark, but we cannot but notice the difference with which they now regarded the sign of His presence. We are not told here that they had lamented the absence of the Ark, but "They of Bethshemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley, and they lifted up their eyes, and saw the Ark and rejoiced to see it. And the cart came into the field of Joshua, a Bethshemite, and stood there, where there was a great stone (probably a landmark); and they clave the wood of the cart and offered the kine a burnt offering unto the Lord … and the men of Bethshemesh offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed sacrifices the same day unto the Lord." (1 Sam. 6:13-15.)

Such action, on Israel's part, is very beautiful to note, for evidently they did welcome the return of God to His place amongst His people, and the very creatures that had serves their Creator in this marked way were now devoted to Him in sacrifice. Burnt offerings and peace offerings also accompanied the rejoicings. But their joy was soon turned to sorrow, for the men of Bethshemesh looked into the Ark, and in consequence God smote* a great number of them with death for their impious curiosity. The Lord thus guarded the sign of His presence, and sought to teach them what it meant to have God in their midst. Why they lifted the cover of the Ark we are not told, but they must have seen therein the two tables of the Law, and the Law is the ministration of death. (2 Cor. 3:7.) We never read of a priest looking into it, and the word itself gives us no explanation of this terrible chastisement, but the people exclaim, "Who is able to stand before the holy Lord God? And to whom shall He go up from us?"

{* 1 Samuel 6:19 gives the number thus smitten as fifty thousand and seventy, but the new translation by J. N. Darby gives the number as seventy according to some ancient authorities.}

This would lead us to infer that the Bethshemites felt that they had encroached upon the holiness of God, and thus the lesson so bitterly taught was not without a good result.

May we learn from it, too, what a real thing it is to have to do with God, while we rejoice that His heart is not alienated from His people, even if He has to teach us again and again what is due to His presence. Learning at the same time also how to serve Him in the bonds of Christ. "If any man serve Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall also My servant be: if any man serve Me, him will My Father honour." ( John 12:26.)

"When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing, then said they among the heathen: The Lord has done great things for them. The Lord has done great things for us, whereof we are glad." (Ps. 126:1-3.)

They now resolve to send the Ark to Kirjath-jearim, whither we will follow them.

Chapter 9
To Kirjath-Jearim and the House of Obed-Edom
2 Sam. 6

"And they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kirjath-jearim, saying, The Philistines have brought again the Ark of the Lord; come ye down and fetch it up to you." (1 Sam. 6:21.)

"And the men of Kirjath-jearim came, and fetched up the Ark of the Lord, and brought it into the house of Abinadab in the hill, and sanctified Eleazar his son to keep the Ark of the Lord. And it came to pass while the Ark abode in Kirjath-jearim that the time was long, for it was twenty years; and all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord." (1 Sam. 7:1-2.)

Here is a welcome change. How refreshing to hear that at last Israel lamented after the Lord The time was indeed long. Through all these twenty years, from the day that the Ark was separated from the Tabernacle, until it reached the rest of Zion, the original God-given order of worship was not restored, while the ritual of the Day of Atonement must also have been in abeyance. With the Tabernacle still in Shiloh, and the Ark in another place far from it, under circumstances so different from those of God's ordination, what a tale it tells of the condition of the people generally! Neither do we read of any resorting to it during all the days of Saul, to which we shall refer later.

With the Ark at Kirjath-jearim, Samuel the prophet reappears on the scene, and thenceforward seems to embody in his own person both judge and priest, the priesthood having ceased to form the basis of relationship between the whole people and God. He forthwith demands what is consistent with the presence of Jehovah, disclosing how low they had fallen. "If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve Him only; and He will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines."

Led now by Samuel they take the only true way. They cease to do evil, and learn to do well. "They put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served Jehovah only." The next step follows well; the people gather together to Mizpeh, and Samuel prays for them, while they draw water and pour it out upon the ground as a token of repentance and humbleness, with fasting and confession of sin.

Perhaps the wise woman of Tekoah in a later day repeats to King David the lesson learnt here, when she says—"We are as water spilt upon the ground that cannot be gathered up again." (2 Sam. 14:14.) An apt illustration surely of confessed helplessness. Be that as it may, the Israelites are once more in a state where God can mercifully come in and save them. Neither do they cry in vain.

The Philistines, alarmed at this revival at Mizpeh, prepared for battle on the very field where twenty years before they had gotten the victory over Israel, and carried off the Ark of God.

"Cease not to cry unto the Lord our God for us" is Israel's appeal to Samuel. "And Samuel took a sucking lamb, and offered it for a burnt offering wholly unto the Lord; and Samuel cried unto the Lord for Israel; and the Lord heard him." The answer of Jehovah is heard in a great thunder which discomfited the Philistines as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering. The enemy was smitten before Israel, "And Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto has the Lord helped us."

Thus God "answered Israel in the secret place of thunder" (Ps. 81:7), and gave them a decisive victory over their most implacable enemy. "So the Philistines were subdued, and they came no more into the coast of Israel." A period of peace succeeds upon this eventful day, and Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life, dwelling at Ramah, where he built an altar unto the Lord. (1 Sam. 7:17.)

It is worthy of note that Samuel offered a burnt offering at such a time, after all the terrible lapse on the part of Israel, but the man of God knows what is consistent with the relationship which belongs to the people of God even in a time of failure. And this stands good for us to-day, and even more definitely since the whole truth has been brought to light through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who gives us from His own lips on the resurrection morn the blessed results of His work in the words—"I ascend unto My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God." (John 20:17.)

If we enquire for the secret of the different issues of these two battles at the same place, and why Israel was given the victory at Ebenezer, the answer is found surely in the fact that on this second occasion Israel took her true place in dependence upon God, and so proved again the truth of the words of Moses—"God shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace."

We have seen how God can care for His own glory, making His presence a terrible burden to the uncircumcised Philistine, and dealing summarily with the men of Bethshemesh for the liberty they took, when forgetting Whose presence the Ark was the sign of, they looked into it. On both the hand of God was heavy, but there was yet a difference. Death and judgment followed in its train wherever it was taken throughout Philistia, but in Israel the chastening fell only when they sinned as those who ought to have known better. "God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about Him." (Ps. 89:7.)

The men of Kirjath-jearim were not visited by plague when the Ark came to them. They welcomed it, carried it into the house of Abinadab in the hill, and sanctified his son Eleazar to keep it.

None but a redeemed people can be happy in the presence of the Lord. The last place that a person without divine life would seek is the presence of God, whether as known by faith upon the earth now amongst His people, or in heaven by and by. To be happy in heaven we must have a nature suited to the place, therefore is it that the Scripture unfolds as the portion of believers now, not only that there is no condemnation for them, but that they are born again of the Spirit and made partakers of the Divine nature. Consequently they can find their "spirits' present home" where God is, a privilege that will be enjoyed in its fulness in the new heaven and the new earth.

It is said in the Scripture quoted at the beginning of this chapter, that at Kirjath-jearim "the time was long," and this is true, not only of the twenty years between its arrival from Bethshemesh and the battle of Ebenezer, but it appears that nearly one hundred years must have passed since the Ark was thus separated from the Tabernacle. It remained in the house of Abinadab until David assembled all Israel to bring it up to Jerusalem, when
"David said unto all the congregation of Israel, If it seem good unto you, and that it be of the Lord our God, let us send abroad unto our brethren everywhere, that are left in all the land of Israel, and with them also to the priests and Levites which are in their cities and suburbs, that they may gather themselves unto us, and let us bring again the Ark of our God to us, for we enquired not at it in the days of Saul.* And all the congregation said that they would do so, for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people. So David gathered all Israel together from Shihor of Egypt even unto the entering of Hemath, to bring the Ark of God from Kirjath-jearim. And David went up, and all Israel to Baalah, that is, to Kirjath-jearim, which belonged to Judah, to bring up thence the Ark of God the Lord, that dwells between the cherubims, whose name is called on it." (1 Chron. 13:2-6.)
{* 1 Samuel 14:18 appears to contradict this. It says, "And Saul said unto Ahiah, Bring hither the Ark of God. For the Ark of God was at that time with the children of Israel"; but there is good evidence that the reading here should be as in the margin of the Revised Version—"Bring hither the ephod, for he wore the ephod at that time before Israel." This would (if correct) make David's words clear.}

Deeply interesting is this action of David. Seated at last on the throne of the Lord in Jerusalem, type of the One yet to come, Who will then reign in righteousness upon the holy hill of Zion, his heart gives expression to the beautiful sentiments of the 132nd Psalm. "Lord, remember David, and all his afflictions; how he sware unto Jehovah, and vowed unto the mighty God of Jacob; surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed; I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to my eyelids, until I find out a place for Jehovah, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob. Lo, we heard of it at Ephratah: we found it in the fields of the wood."

This last sentence refers, no doubt, to Kirjath-jearim, which means "city of woods"; and as that city was inhabited by descendants of Caleb-Ephratah (1 Chron. 2:50), this would probably account for the reference to that name here. But alas! the joy of this occasion is marred by a serious mistake on the part of David, and some time must yet elapse before they are able to complete the desire expressed in the remainder of the psalm—"We will go into His tabernacles, we will worship at His footstool. Arise, O Lord, into thy rest, Thou, and the Ark of Thy strength."

Two more stages have yet to be taken in our journey before it ends in the rest of Zion, one of which is necessitated by David's mistake in imitating the Philistines instead of going back to God's order.

They carried the Ark of God on a new cart out of the house of Abinadab, and Uzzah and Ahio drove the cart. "And David and all Israel played before God with all their might, and with singing and with harps, and with psalteries and with timbrels, and with cymbals and with trumpets." But this joy was soon over. The voice of praise was silenced by the hand of God, because He would teach them their error of copying the Philistines, instead of heeding His written word. He allowed the oxen to stumble; and Uzzah, putting forth his hand to steady the Ark, was smitten, and died there before God, thus teaching them that God needs no support from His creatures, and the seriousness of neglecting His warnings. (Ex. 19:21; Num. 4:15.) David was displeased because the Lord had made this breach upon Uzzah, and in fear said, "How shall I bring the Ark of God home to me "It was carried therefore by David's instructions into the house of Obed-edom the Gittite, where it remained for three months, and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all that he had."

Here let us pause to consider what we may learn at this stage of our journey by this breach of Uzzah. Is it not plain that God expects His people to know the difference between what He has ordained, and man's inventions? Had He not laid down in His word the most minute instructions for the transport of the Ark These were unknown to the Philistines, but familiar enough to the Israelites. There is a great difference between what God initiates, His ordained way, and that which in grace and patience He bears with on the part of the ignorant, and them that are out of the way. Have we not read—"And the times of this ignorance God winked at" (otherwise translated "having over- looked"), in Paul's address to the Athenians on Mar's Hill? (Acts 17:30.)

When God gave Moses instructions as to the Tabernacle, for instance, nothing was left to that great servant, or those who wrought under him, to fill in, every detail of material, size, shape, and colour, was given by the Lord Himself.

Happily David learned a lesson by what happened, for hearing about the blessing in the house of Obed-edom, he makes a fresh start, and says, "None ought to carry the Ark of God but the Levites, for them has the Lord chosen to carry the Ark of God, and to minister unto Him for ever." (1 Chron. 15:2-3.)

Perhaps some of our readers may think that our notes have been more engaged with warfare than with work or worship. This is necessarily so from the nature of the subject. Israel was told to drive out the inhabitants of the land of Canaan, but disobedience to God's commands subjected them to many defeats instead of a succession of victories, and these conflicts came only after forty years of wilderness experiences, which were one long succession of mercy and goodness from God.

The history of the Church affords another illustration of the same character as is plainly seen by the warnings and exhortations in the New Testament epistles, to some of which we have called attention in these pages.

We must not lose sight of the importance given in the Book of Exodus to the offices of the Levites and the priesthood, and the Christian, as before referred to, is called to services that partake of the character of both. These are appropriately called "sacrifices" in Hebrews 13:15 and 16. But there is one special service which is characteristic of Christianity which had no place whatever in Judaism, and that is the blessed mission of the gospel of God. Israel had no call to evangelisation. A Jew (as such) was never told to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. The utmost he could say was "God has spoken good concerning Israel … and it shall be that what goodness the Lord shall do unto us, the same will we do unto thee." (Num. 10:29-32.)

It is scarcely necessary to dwell here upon the great importance of the ministry of the glad tidings for which our ascended Lord gives the gift of Evangelist. It is by this means Gentiles, as well as Jews, are brought into the Church—the assembly of God—to be there fed and nurtured by the various gifts supplied from the same source—the Head of the body in heaven. Blessed indeed when the gifts work together in the power of the Holy Spirit for the edification of "the body," and the Evangelist works out from the divinely appointed centre to bring souls into that place which belongs to them as born of the Spirit and word of God, and members of the body of Christ.

In all kinds of conflict from without may the Lord give us to remember His words, "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (John 16:33.) And the exhortation, "This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith." (1 John 5:4.)

And now let us turn to the last stage of the journey made ever memorable by the words of the Lord Jehovah to David—"I have not dwelt in an house since the day that I brought up Israel unto this day, but have gone from tent to tent, and from one tabernacle to another, Wheresoever I have walked with all Israel." (1 Chron. 17:5-6.)

Chapter 10
To Mount Zion and the Temple
2 Chron. 5, etc.

For this, the final stage of the great journey, David again gathers all Israel to Jerusalem, but there is a change in the order of procedure which we must carefully note here. Going up from the house of Abinadab, the king and all the people "played before God with all their might" on various instruments. It was a great service of praise, which sprang spontaneously from all their hearts, for there is no hint of any order from God as to this. But now the first thing David does is to set apart the children of Aaron and the Levites, "That they may bring up the Ark of the Lord God of Israel, unto the place that I have prepared for it; for because ye did it not at the first, the Lord our God made a breach upon us, for that we sought Him not after the due order. … And the children of the Levites bare the Ark of God upon their shoulders with the staves thereon, as Moses commanded according to the word of the Lord." (1 Chron. 15:12-15.)

The king having now turned to the right source for instruction, all goes well; and therefore to this joyful day there is not only a bright beginning, but a still brighter finish. The Levites with all kinds of instruments of music take the lead as before, but there is a remarkable addition, for when "God helped the Levites that bare the Ark of the covenant of the Lord, they offered seven bullocks and seven rams." (1 Chron. 15:26) In 2 Samuel 6:13, we are told that the Levites had only gone six paces from the house when these oxen and fatlings were sacrificed, so that it seems to have been more of the character of a peace offering than burnt offering,

The procession moved on accompanied with music and dancing, shouts of joy and songs of praise, and all Jerusalem seemed to join in the gladness except poor Michal, the daughter of King Saul and wife of David. She seemed to be alone in her aversion to the whole scene, and despised her husband for the way in which he expressed the ecstasy of his delight. Does not this show how wide is the gulf between those who through grace can rejoice in the things of God, and those who are strangers to it? During the reign of her father, King Saul, the Ark had been totally neglected, which might partly account for Michal's dislike to these proceedings. It reminds us of the elder son in the 15th of Luke's gospel, who had no heart for the father's joy over the returned prodigal. "The joy of the Lord is your strength," said Nehemiah in another day of revival and rejoicing (Neh. 8:10), and it was and is ever the same. Does not Paul say in a later day, "For whether we be beside ourselves it is to God"? (2 Cor. 5:13.)

Another noteworthy occurrence of this day is, that King David blessed the people, an act which no other king but Solomon ever attempted, and in these special acts the two kings may be considered as types of our Lord Jesus Who as King and Priest in a future day will unite in Himself the characteristic features of both David and Solomon, and bless the people from a throne of righteousness and peace. Under His beneficent sway, "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (Isa. 2:4) "For God will save Zion, and will build the cities of Judah, that they may dwell there, and have it in possession, the seed also of His servants shall inherit it; and they that love His Name shall dwell therein." (Ps. 69:35-36.)

But we must also remind ourselves that things in Israel were as yet far from the perfect state. We read that, "David made him houses in the city of David and prepared a place for the Ark of God, and pitched for it a tent." (1 Chron. 15:1.) The Tabernacle and the Ark were still many miles apart, and a more permanent and suitable place for its reception had yet to be made. But so far David manifested the great joy it was to him to set the Ark in the midst of the tent he had pitched for it. "And when David had made an end of offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings he blessed the people in the name of the Lord; and he dealt to every one of Israel, both man and woman, to every one a loaf of bread, and a good piece of flesh, and a flagon of wine. And he appointed certain Levites to minister before the Ark of the Lord, and to record and to thank and praise the Lord God of Israel."

Moreover, beside the Levites with psalteries, harps, and cymbals, he appointed priests with trumpets continually before the Ark of the covenant of God. "And then on that day David delivered first this psalm to thank they Lord into the hand of Asaph and his brethren." (1 Chron. 16:8-36.) A magnificent psalm indeed it is, which this chapter alone records in a continuous form, made up of the first fifteen verses of Psalm 105, followed by the whole of Psalm 96, and concluded by the last two verses of Psalm 106. All this shows how completely David entered into the importance of the occasion, and its far-reaching effects, not only upon the little nation of Israel, which alone was represented there that day, but as an earnest of that coming day of glory, when Jehovah, Who so often in the history of this people called Himself the God of all the earth, shall be owned as such in a universal supremacy with Zion as its centre.

"Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising." (Isa. 60:1-3.)

The burnt offerings and peace offerings which David offered on this day appear to be the last occasion on which sacrifices were offered before the Ark whilst it dwelt in the tent on Zion. But he arranged for a ministry of praise to go on there under Asaph, and sent Zadok the priest and his brethren to Gibeon, where the Tabernacle still was, to carry on the appointed sacrifices as the Law enjoined. Heman and Jeduthun, and the rest that were chosen and expressed by name, accompanying them, to give thanks unto the Lord because His mercy endures for ever.

These services of praise are an entirely new and most interesting feature of these arrangements, of which we read nothing in the Books of Moses, and seem to be connected with the setting up of the throne. It was spiritual instinct, as far as we know, which thus guided David—an instinct true, indeed, as we through grace can testify. To approach God at all, each and all must come by the Altar, i.e. by the sacrifice of Christ; but once in God's presence on that ground, praise and thanksgiving are the suited form of worship. This is what is perfectly set forth in Christianity, and not separated as they were here in the scene we are considering, but never to be known apart since the Lord Jesus Christ ascended on high.

In the Tabernacle it was set forth how to approach God, which is, and must always be, by sacrifice; this was exhibited, if we may so say, at Gibeon. But before the Ark it was seen, and was daily expressed, what is the suited service for those who are where the presence of God is known. That was and must be one of praise.

How sad to reflect that numbers of Christians may well learn a lesson from David here as to the true character of Christian worship, and the place where it is carried on! "Having therefore, brethren, boldness (liberty) to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He has consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh, and having an high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith," etc. (Heb. 10:19-22.) As another has said—"It would have been just as incongruous to have put the altar inside the veil, as for Christians to resort to a sacrificing priesthood for the due carrying on of their worship. No sacrificing was permitted by David to go on before the Ark—a lesson for us so simple to learn, and when learnt to be maintained tenaciously."

But yet another journey must be made before the Ark reaches its resting-place. In the tent prepared by David it remained between thirty and forty years, and for some time he seems to have been content that it should be so, but at length we read that, "As David sat in his house, that David said to Nathan the prophet, Lo, I dwell in an house of cedars, but the Ark of the Lord remains under curtains. Then Nathan said unto David, Do all that is in thine heart, for God is with thee." (1 Chron. 17:2.) But although this desire was a truly pious one, and the promptings of a spiritual mind, it was not at all the mind of God that David should build a permanent structure for the worship of God. The prophet had not the mind of God either, and, like ourselves often, both had to learn that our good desires need to be under Divine guidance, and the leading of the Holy Spirit. Solomon, the man of peace, had been chosen by God for this special work.

David bows to the will of God most beautifully in this, and is privileged to prepare for the Temple, being personally instructed by revelation, so that he says, when handing all over to Solomon—"All this the Lord made me understand in writing by His hand upon me, even all the works of this pattern." (1 Chron. 28:19.) As with the Tabernacle, so with the Temple, all was designed by God, but with this difference as to the things themselves; the Tabernacle and its contents are distinctly said to be patterns of things in the heavens, and were therefore typical, or rather anti-typical, of the things there existing.

Had it been left to David or any of his advisers to select a site for the house that was to be built for the Ark, they would, no doubt, have fixed upon a spot in the city of David which is Zion, but God had quite another spot in His mind, one connected, too, with a signal failure on the part of David well towards the close of his reign. Upon that failure and its details it is not our province to dwell, but God selected the threshing-floor of Araunah, the Jebusite, on Mount Moriah, another of the mounts of Jerusalem, as the site for the Temple, the spot where David erected an altar after which the plague was stayed, which he had brought upon the people by his self-will in numbering them—the very place, too, where Abraham of old had offered up his son Isaac.

This place where the sacrifice was accepted was God's choice for the Temple to be built, where Israel was to worship. Another confirmation of the basic principle of Christianity, so perfectly foreshadowed in the Tabernacle, that true worship now is based upon the Divine acceptance of the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf.

But we must pass on. Seven years were occupied in building the Temple, which David was never to see completed, although so well acquainted with its every detail, and about which he sang with such deep desire. At length it was completed and beautified. Preparations were made in the seventh month, the month Ethanim, for the one thing that all the rest was only subsidiary to the symbol of God's presence was carried into the oracle, and the cloud of glory appeared as the token that Jehovah had taken possession and filled the house.

"Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the children of Israel unto Jerusalem, to bring up the Ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David which is Zion. … And all the elders of Israel came, and the Levites took up the Ark; and they brought up the Ark, and the Tabernacle of the congregation, and all the holy vessels that were in the Tabernacle, these did the priests and the Levites bring up. Also King Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel that were assembled unto him before the Ark, sacrificed sheep and oxen, which could not be numbered for multitude. And the priests brought in the Ark of the covenant of the Lord unto His place to the oracle of the house, into the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims. … And they drew out the staves of the Ark, that the ends of the staves were seen from the Ark before the oracle, but they were not seen without. And there it is unto this day. There was nothing in the Ark, save the two tables which Moses put therein at Horeb, when the Lord made a covenant with the children of Israel when they came out of Egypt." (2 Chron. 5:2-10.)

It may well be asked, Why was all this great ceremony and rejoicing? Was it only that the Ark had reached a resting-place at last? This is surely true, but not all the truth. It was that God, the God of Israel, the one living and true God, was entering into His resting-place on earth, a foreshadowing of that which will take place when the Lord Jesus reigns in power and in peace over the earth. Till Solomon the Prince of Peace ascended the throne, the Ark had never entered into its final resting-place, neither will God rest permanently until the true Prince of Peace, of whom Solomon was a type, shall be made King over all the earth.

It is most interesting to note as to this scene that it is the fourth and last occasion of an alteration in the order of carrying the Ark, which we have before referred to. Let us recapitulate. "When the people went through Jordan, that river typical of death, which meant so much to Israel in fact, and so much to us in type, the priests bore the Ark on their shoulders. When the Lord was pulling down the stronghold of the enemy at Jericho, the Ark was again carried on the shoulders of the priests, the sons of Aaron. When God took possession of the land through His people, the priests again carried the Ark, and now when about to enter His resting-place on the earth, it was the priests who bore it into the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims." (2 Chron. 5:7.)

All this is in perfect keeping with the instruction given to Moses, as to the covering by the priests of the holy vessels of the sanctuary before the Kohathites (who were appointed to carry them) took them up, and might surely teach us something of the exalted character of blessing which belongs to us now, as being made both priests and Levites for the worship and service of the house of God.

"For through Him we have both (Jew and Gentile) access by one Spirit to the Father. So then ye are no longer strangers and foreigners, but ye are fellow-citizens of the saints, and of the household of God, being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the corner-stone, in Whom all the building fitted together increases to a holy temple in the Lord, in Whom ye also are built together for a habitation of God in (the) Spirit." (Eph. 2:18-22, New Trans.)

But a few words more, ere our journeyings come to an end. The Ark has reached its final resting-place, the staves are drawn out, and a special note is made that the two tables of stone are now its only contents. A significant reminder that the wilderness needs associated with the manna and the rod of Aaron are over, and most appropriately does Solomon conclude his prayer with the words of the eighth and ninth verses of Psalm 132: "Arise, O Lord, into Thy rest. Thou, and the Ark of Thy strength. Let Thy priests be clothed with righteousness, and let Thy saints shout for joy."

The Ark seems to be the only piece of all the contents of the Tabernacle that had a place in Solomon's Temple, the other parts of the Tabernacle were brought in, but as to use and service seem to have been superseded by the new vessels—altar, tables, candlesticks; etc.—of pure gold which were made under David's instructions. There never was any other Ark but the one made by Bezaleel in the valley of Mount Sinai, which for about nine hundred years was the companion of Israel's joys and sorrows, sharing their captivity and, we must add, bearing their neglect and shame; while witnessing nevertheless to the faithful love of Him Who dwelt between the cherubims.

So far as we know it was entirely lost sight of after the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, when the Temple was burnt by Nebuzar-adan, although in the Books of the Maccabees there is a legend as to its being hidden in a cave, to which however no credence is given by those who have studied the subject. When our Lord was crucified, in the midst of the darkness the veil of the Temple was rent from top to bottom, in the midst, but behind that veil there was no Ark, although the minds of the Lord's people often seem to picture it there. Josephus says in his "History" there was nothing inside the veil, but legends say there was a stone, which would be a significant fact if it were so, seeing that Scripture so often speaks of the Lord under the figure of a stone, "The stone which the builders rejected, the same was made the head of the corner." But in Herod's temple (so called) no Ark was found. Already the Jewish ritual was a form of godliness without the power thereof, and the last link was broken when the Blessed Son of David, and Son of Man, offered Himself to Israel and was rejected. "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not." Therefore He said, "Your house is left unto you desolate."

That link will be reunited when He comes again, and God's word is fulfilled which says, "Yet have I set My King upon My holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree, the Lord has said unto Me; Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee. Ask of Me, and I shall give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession." (Ps. 2:6-8.)

Here then we finish our journeying, amid the joy and glory of Solomon's brightest days, and the promise of rest; but before we leave the subject of Zion altogether, we would add a word or two for the sake of our fellow-Christians who rather reluctantly look upon what they call the Jewish explanation of the many beautiful prophecies concerning Zion as if we Christians had lost something by this method of interpretation. A glance at the well-known passage in Hebrews 12 should dispel this idea, for it most certainly declares—"But ye have come to Mount Zion, and to the city of the God, heavenly Jerusalem and to myriads of angels, the universal gathering; and to the assembly of the firstborn (who are) enregistered in heaven; and to God (the) judge of all; and to the spirits of just (men) made perfect; and to Jesus Mediator of a new covenant; and to the blood of sprinkling speaking better than Abel. See that ye refuse not Him that speaks." (Heb. 12:22-25, New Trans.)

Now here we have what another has called, "The glorious circle of the saints' inheritance." Although addressed as we know to Hebrew Christians, it no more belongs to them than to Gentile Christians, although it is easily seen how it would especially appeal to such.

It is the circle of things we are connected with by grace through a glorified Christ, in contrast with a living Messiah on earth. An ascending and descending circle of glory here. The eye rests first on Mount Zion on earth, the seat of the Jewish nation's establishment in grace under the King. (See for the type 1 Chron. 15, 16; 2 Chron. 5:2; Psalm 78, etc., that we have already been considering.) Then the eye lifts and sees what is connected with the centre of earthly blessing, but yet is above it—"The city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem." (Rev. 21.) Then as more immediately connected with the Divine centre of it all—"an innumerable company of angels, the general assembly." But in the innermost circle round the throne, the Church is seen in its own proper character as the Assembly of the firstborn which are enrolled in heaven. Then having risen up to "God the judge of all," we come down next "to the spirits of just men made perfect"—the Old Testament saints in their ordered place and blessing—"and to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant," which is thus looked at in connection with the people to whom it belongs. And finally "to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel," inasmuch as it lays the ground for the whole blessing in both its heavenly and earthly parts instead of crying for judgment. Thus a place is found for the Church's connection with the Kingdom.

Who that enters in any degree into what this glorious circle of our inheritance means, would say that we are shut out of all blessing in Zion? What Mount Zion stands for, and really expresses is grace,— royal grace,—in contrast to law as a principle, which is represented by Mount Sinai. Under law Israel lost everything, and are still under its condemnation. In this light the journey we have taken in the company of the Ark is typically from the bondage of law to the liberty of grace. But alas, a very large number of Christians have travelled, and are still travelling, like the Galatians, in the opposite direction—from Zion to Sinai. This is what the Apostle Paul so strongly condemns in the Epistle to the Galatians. "O foolish, Galatians, who has bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth?" And again, "Christ is become of no effect to you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace." (Gal. 5:4.)

Falling from grace in this passage does not mean, it is clear, losing our salvation, or the possibility of being finally lost; but turning back from grace to law for justification, or righteousness; and as the rule of the Christian's life. We have no space here for enlarging on this deeply important subject, but it follows in the line of our reflections, and we trust some of our readers may be led to consider the meaning of the trenchant words of the Spirit of God by the apostle—"Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law." (Gal. 3:21.)

God is now calling out from Jews and Gentiles the quickened members of the body into union in life and righteousness with a rejected Christ, hidden in the heavens; for Whose shout we wait, to catch us up to meet Him in the air, and to be changed into His likeness. Creation likewise, which groans under the bondage of corruption, waits in hope of its deliverance into the liberty of this glory, when the manifestation of the Sons of God is come to pass.

The last few touches only remain to perfect the mystery of God, and the Lord will rise up from His place, and quit the Father's throne to sit as Son of Man upon His own throne in His own glory, and the glory of all the holy angels. Israel, redeemed and brought into this scene of blessing under Christ, seeing the bride (the heavenly Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven, having the glory of God) will then understand the meaning of the words—"that God had provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect." How gladly will they sing in that day, as well as we—"For of Him, and to Him, and through Him are all things, to Whom be glory for ever. Amen."

And now to review the way we have traversed, and the lessons we have sought to glean from the various incidents of the journey, we feel that we cannot do better than give another quotation from the same pen (J. G. Bellett) that gave us the suggestive quotation inserted in our Foreword.

Retrospect and Prospect

"When Israel in the wilderness make the golden calf, and thus break the very first article of the Covenant under which all was then set, Moses acts as one that counted on finding something in God to meet the catastrophe. (Ex. 33.)

When the nation brought into the land under Joshua, again break the Covenant, as they do oft-times, the Lord in the energy of His Spirit calls forth the Judges for their deliverance, and faith in them is ready for the occasion.

When the Priesthood ruined itself afterwards, and Ichabod was written on the forehead of Israel, God has a prophet (a new and strange provision) in the secret place of His counsel and resources, and Samuel, as such, in faith leads on to Ebenezer, or God's help, for this fallen people.

When the Kingdom, in time, ruins itself, as the people in the wilderness had done, and as the nation under the Judges had done, and the throne and house of David are in the dust, and Israel a captive, faith still waits in the certainty that God had not failed though all beside had. The Temple may be a desolation, the Ark may have disappeared, all that was sacred have been lost, the land itself the property of the uncircumcised, and the people of God the slaves of the Gentile—still a Daniel, a Nehemiah, and an Esther, and other kindred hearts, can maintain their Nazaritism, and look for days of fresh discoveries of what God is and has for Israel.

God's resources are thus unexhausted by man's failures and faith undistracted.

But in the present New Testament days we have somewhat of another thing to mark—and it is this—the full satisfaction that faith takes in what God has already provided it with and the jealousy and care of the Spirit, that we use that, and hold by it in the perfect satisfaction of its being equal to all new and rising exigencies.

The difference is therefore this—in other days, faith calculated on what it was still to get; in these, present days it is faithful to, and abides by that which it has already got. For it has got Christ, the end of all Divine provisions."

"Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ; to Whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (Heb. 13:20-21.)