Notes on Genesis.

E. L. Bevir.
Biographical Note
London: G. Morrish, 20, Paternoster Square, E.C. 1900.

"Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding? Job 38:4.

Genesis 1
Genesis 2
Genesis 3
Genesis 4
Genesis 5 - 9
Genesis 10, 11
Genesis 12, 13
Genesis 14 - Abraham, Lot, and Melchizedek.
Genesis 15 - 21
Genesis 22 - 24 - The Sacrifice of Isaac, and the Call of the Bride.
Genesis 25, 26 - Ishmael and Isaac.
Genesis 27 - 32 - Jacob and Esau; Israel.
Genesis 37 - 48 - Joseph
Genesis 49 - Jacob's Last Prophecy


The following "Notes on Genesis" have been reprinted from Helps for the Poor of the Flock. Several of my friends have expressed a wish to have them in a succinct form.

In reading them over, I see nothing that I wish to change. I have no pretension to add to many valuable notes on this wonderful book nor is there any startling novelty. I cannot, however, but hope that the main subjects of Genesis, which are strictly followed in these Notes, may be of help to many who study the scriptures with a view of discovering in them the glory of Christ, and of growing in the knowledge of Him.

In the marvellous history of the first ages, God's grand principles in His ways with men, His counsels, and His full triumph over evil, become visible to us, as in a divine speculum [mirror].

E. L. B. Valence-sur-Rhone, November, 1899.

Genesis 1.

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."

It is a happy thing, in such a day as ours, to receive by faith the divine account of the formation of the heavens and the earth.

A believer receives God's word in his heart; and his mind is certainly satisfied at the same time, for the mind would be sadly tortured if it had to conceive a universe without a Being who had formed it.*

{* I suppose that the very grossest materialist would admit that there is force acting in the universe; and if he be pushed to it, must he not admit that it is either outside of the molecules of matter or inside them? Which is more likely? That one supreme will and power formed the worlds, and set them rolling; or that all the atoms suddenly agreed by interior force to collect, and then to keep to the laws of gravity?}

The first verse stands by itself, and the gulf or interval between it and the second is greater than we can imagine. The beginning, if we had to count the time back to it, is very remote; but the great thing to observe is that it is the beginning. Ages and ages ago, there was a beginning. It may be said: "We cannot understand what creation is;" to which I would reply: "I believe you; and if you try to account for it in any other way than God created, you will surely go wrong." Faith receives it, and the heart and mind rest in Him who never had any beginning, in the eternal Son, by whom all things were made, and for whom all things were made, in whose power all things are subsisting. In the beginning was the Word; and our hearts delight to think of the eternal deity and Godhead of Him, whose almighty power was exerted at the creation. "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they exist, and were created!"

And here let me warn the reader against a fault that is very common; that of misunderstanding the purpose of the scriptures. The Bible is not a book of astronomy or cosmography, but one that deals with the hearts and consciences of the inhabitants of the earth. It gives us a faithful history of the earth, from this point of view; and the "heavens" here are the first heaven; that is, the atmosphere. It is no question of the relative time of creation of other globes; but the beginning of this earth's history.

The history of what should take place on it (the earth) forms indeed a wonderful part of the divine book, and of this we shall have cause to speak. I am only calling attention to the fact that we have here the earth and its atmosphere before us; God created them in the beginning.

And now I again call attention to the interval between the first and second verses.

We are often told that millions and billions of years must have elapsed during the formation of the earth's crust, to say nothing of what happened before. There is ample room for all this between the first and second verses; ages and ages ran out. The second verse brings us to an important point in time, when the work of forming the present state of things upon the earth's surface began.

It is not revealed how the "without form and void" state ensued, but let us be careful not to confound it with the first verse. A state of convulsion and chaos came on, and from the midst of it the present creation began; the Spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters.

The creation of light should fill us with wonder; and it is well to notice that it was called into existence before the great luminaries are mentioned.

Light is invisible in itself, but makes everything visible; it is so defined in Ephesians 5:13. It is more than the "offspring of heaven firstborn," for it is the very image-name of God Himself. God is light.

The passage is without doubt alluded to in 2 Corinthians 4:6, which should be rendered "the God who commanded the light to shine out from the midst of the darkness has shined in our hearts, in order to make resplendent the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."

No scientists can explain how the vibrations, to which they call our attention, began; nor indeed can they get beyond the hypothesis of undulations, supposing "ether." The simplest believer sees in the creation of light the exercise of the power of Him who can call everything into existence, and who has caused His light to shine in our dark hearts (which were as cheerless as the murky surface of the earth in Genesis 1:2), for the shining out of His glory in the face of Jesus Christ.

And God saw the light that it was good — there is a division between light and darkness, as great as that moral separation which we find in the New Testament between the two. It is well to call things by their right names; and I think that if we wish to study the scriptures, we must get a new dictionary, for God's categories are not the same as the scholastic ones. What God calls "darkness" (that is, man's state), the world calls "light," boasting of its illumination. Men who are morally blind seem to delight to exclaim: "We see!"; and again in 1 Corinthians 1, God calls "power" and "wisdom" what the world calls "weakness" and "folly."

God called the light Day; and the darkness He called Night.

Simple and clear as this is, we shall find, all through scripture, the constant recurrence of "light" and "darkness"; and in our day we cannot be too careful to walk as children of the light. Believers are light in the Lord; and it has often been remarked that though it cannot be said of them that they are "love," which is absolute and implies sovereignty, yet they are described as "light" in the Lord. The fruit of the light is in all goodness and righteousness and truth; and it is good when things are called by their right names, If there be a diligent walk according to the light, the unfruitful works of darkness will be manifested and carefully avoided by the children of God.

The second immense fact in creation was the formation of the firmament, which divided the upper from the lower waters. This firmament* is the visible heaven, the atmospheric expanse; and this prepares the earth for the following glorious events that were to take place upon the globe.

{* Perhaps it would be better to put "expanse;" literally the "stretched out (space)."}

On the third day the separation of the waters from the dry land preceded the latter's being adorned with every kind of tree, herb and grass, each of which should bring forth fruit and seed according to its kind.

On the fourth day, the great luminaries which were symbols of established power and order were made for signs, for seasons, and for days and years. Notice that the word "made" (ver. 16) is not the same as "created." (Ver. 1.) It is not said that sun, moon and stars were created at the epoch of verse 16, but that they were constituted lights to the earth at that time. Although the Bible is not a treatise on astronomy (for it treats of moral subjects far higher than the stars), yet its language will be found to be singularly correct, and we shall never find any confusion between the acts of creating things and placing them in their order. The word of God never denies the exact sciences, as they are called (that is, that 2+2=4, etc.), but it gives us what is infinitely higher. What would be the value to us of having a full knowledge of mathematics (the abstract relations of time and space) if our hearts were void of the love of God as known in Christ?

Birds, beasts, and fishes now follow, full of vitality; the sphere over which the first man was to rule is peopled with living creatures.

But on the sixth day we find an act of creation very different to all that had preceded. Notice that in verse 26, it is not "Let the earth bring forth," as in verse 24; this is a fatal blow to what is known as "evolution."

There is nothing more distinct than the formation of man, and the difference between man and mere animals. To the infidel, who says, "Man (the first man) is an animal," we could say: "Certainly; but he is much more besides. If you mean to say that he is a mere animal, you are suppressing the greater part of the truth." There was a solemn consultation before the formation of this singular and moral being, man. It is Adam, the first man, but he is a figure of the last Adam, of Christ, who was to come; he was made in the image of God, and after His likeness.

He was to represent God's glory in the place which he occupied as head of the creation; and he was morally like God in so far that he was good and free from evil. Alas! how soon was this likeness lost!

Man has a heart and a conscience such as never can be found in the most developed ape or elephant. Let us leave his mind (though no mere brute has the same faculties as a man), and speak of what constitutes him a moral being. It will be said that Adam had not a conscience till he fell, and this is true — we are anticipating — what we have, up to the end of the third verse of the second chapter, is man made in the image and after the likeness of God and set over all His works. I should like to leave to my reader the pleasant task of pondering over "image and likeness," and the peculiar place at the head of the creation; we shall have more to say later on of man's relation to God.

So far, we have a solemn act of creation, after deliberate counsel, of a being very different from the brute, who is in the image and likeness of God and should represent Him, having dominion over His works.

Everything was very good in the six days of creation. Notice that there is a special act of creation for man (ver. 27); and that this word (created) is not always used in the other cases, though it is found in verse 21.

And now comes the Sabbath, God's rest. We must not let this pass without carefully remarking it. God rested on the seventh day from the work which He had made.

God's rest is a very great subject in the scriptures; and in general, it is but little understood. It is well to look at it, as it is first presented to us here in Genesis. God could rest when all the works of this creation (of Gen. 1) were complete. I suppose that there is always the thought of satisfaction in the work, and of the absence of anything that could disturb the repose.

The rest described here did not last long (Heb. 4:3-4); God's rest upon this earth has been interrupted for nearly six thousand years. I trust that it is not a digression if we say a few words as to the Sabbath; it is the beautiful figure of God's rest which is still to come, where He shall find His own joy and repose amongst His own redeemed ones. No sin, nothing contrary to the nature of Him who is love and light shall ever enter that peaceful scene, illuminated by God's own glory, where His own shall enjoy His rest. How different from some sensual paradise, where eternal idleness is to be the reward, Allah being really as far off as ever!

It is very important to understand that in Hebrews 4 it is God's rest that is spoken of, and not merely ours. It has been well said that God could not rest in a world of sin, and we have in John 5 the blessed fact of the Father and the Son both working; the mere form of the Jewish Sabbath was worth nothing. That the blessed Spirit is working too we have abundant evidence, and there can be no Sabbath upon this earth until God shall put things upon the footing of Zephaniah 3:17, "He will rest in his love." Zion shall be delivered, and the whole earth blessed.

But we Christians look higher than the earthly part of the kingdom; and, in the midst of toil and sorrow, of difficulty and effort, we wait with longing for that day, when we shall enter into the rest of God. How stimulating to us is the thought of God's resting in the midst of His own, as we go on through this scene of trouble and unrest. May we strain every nerve in the race, with hearts full of His peace, till we also shall have ceased from every painful effort and trial, to enter into His rest!

We may pause a little here to contemplate the rest of God.

Genesis 2.

At verse 4 of chapter 2 another view of the creation and of man's place in it is given to us; and here we have God, under the name of Jehovah Elohim, entering into relation with responsible moral beings.

The seventh verse is very important, for it is never said of the mere brute that God breathed into his nostrils; and this is what is meant by a "moral being," that is, one who is in direct relation to his Creator, one whose true dignity is obedience to Him, and dependence upon Him.

Let us suppose the very wisest sheep-dog that could be found (and we must admit that some of these animals are very astute), it will be at once felt that the creature could not be subjected to any such trial as that which was applied to the first man — Adam. I mean, in a few words, that Adam was in a very different position, and in himself very different from the most sagacious brute.*

{* I recollect a very good answer being given at Geneva to some would-be opposers, who were reasoning about dogs' minds. "All very well," said an old Christian, "but did you ever see a dog express contrition for stealing what was not his own?"}

Then we have some of the most wonderful pictures in God's first book.

The garden and its two trees; the river; the naming of the creatures; and the woman.

The beautiful garden of Eden possessed two pre-eminent trees, of which we shall have to speak again. Whatever may have been the beauty of all the rest, these two trees are the ones upon which we should fix our eyes, for everything depended upon them. The tree of life in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil; this second tree was a very dangerous one to man. I merely would notice the two; as for the rest of the garden, one may form a faint picture of it perhaps, but I think that poets have utterly failed to describe it.

A garden planted by God, with the river running through it, and flowing off in four directions, gold and precious stones — all this speaks of order, fertility, and wealth. We shall allude to these things again, my great desire now being to call attention to the head (Adam) of the well-ordered creation, for we shall see that all depended upon him; and it will be well to notice the height of his earthly glory and the extent of his sway, before we come to the history of his fall. He is here the figure of Him who was to come; the figure of the last Adam, head of the new creation.

We may learn much by thus contemplating for a moment the first man as he came out of the Creator's hands, and was put into his place at the head of Eden.

We are apt to make light of the fall in our day, when people make light of everything, and I wish to look at the height of this great column (Adam) before endeavouring to say anything of the crash of its ruin.

The naming of the animals is an important thing; for the man's supremacy as viceroy is evident. He was allowed to give names to every beast and bird; his universal jurisdiction was established; and then comes the one more act of the Creator, the one more creature, last but not least, who completes this exquisite picture.

She must not yet go by the name of Eve (that comes later on); but is called woman, Isha made out of Ish. Here is a name that cannot fail to rivet every one's attention.

How blessed (far away from crabbed scribes and Pharisees who had perverted things, Matt. 19:8) to rise to the original intention of this extraordinary creature, and to see that the very first thought of her is to be a help* to man.

{* I must leave to some of my learned friends to develop this remarkable expression ezer k'neg'do: I should try to translate it, "A help that answered to him;" literally, "as over against him."}

How blessed to get to the very fountain head of everything, and to have God's own thoughts. "In the beginning it was not so" would stop all the reasoning of Pharisees, of Mahomet, and of all others who have given us their thoughts about woman, and we come to the simple truth of God's mind, that a creature was to appear who should complete and correspond to the lord of the creation.

And now comes one of the most beautiful figures in this book of divinely-drawn pictures.

Others have spoken of it in far better language than mine. The trance of Adam, the formation (literally building) of Eve from his own rib, and his delight when God brought her to him, "bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh."

I would ask you not to go to Milton for this, but to take it as it is here in all its perfect typical beauty. Then you will behold with adoration, death coming upon Christ, the last Adam, of whom the first was the figure, the church formed,* and the delight of His heart when she shall be presented to Him, and He shall see in her that which corresponds perfectly to His own glory as the Man of God's counsels.

{* I merely notice the fact; there is really nothing in the church, as the new creation, but what is derived from Christ Himself.}

He gave Himself for her, and the pains of death being passed, she rises, and soon shall be manifested with Him, herself the pleroma (fulness) of Him that filleth all in all.

Genesis 3.

The fall and utter ruin of Adam is but little understood.

I had wished, if possible, that his place at the head of the creation were clearly presented, so that the catastrophe might be rightly estimated. All depended upon him who was made in the image of God; if he, the head, fell, all must go with him.

I once heard, in Tuscany, of an edifice, so contrived by the architect, that the whole was practically resting upon one pillar; if this fell, the whole building fell with it. We shall be occupied, not merely with the terrible crash and ruin, but with several important moral features that accompanied it; the change from the preceding state of things is very sorrowful. From innocence to distrust of God, to lusts, disobedience and dishonour — the distance is not easily conceived, and spoken of but too lightly on all sides!

The subtle enemy deceived the woman, and the man had not strength to refuse her — they fell. How many things are found in this short history — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life … dishonour, misery and nakedness! and whence come all these? Whence indeed, but from the first step of all, when the enemy succeeded in causing distrust of God in Eve. No fig-leaves nor any other leaves (however cleverly stitched)* can hide fallen man's nakedness from God, and this our first parents knew instinctively (they had acquired a conscience) when they tried still further to hide themselves from Him in the cool of the day.

{* The unsuccessful attempts to hide one's misery have no doubt often struck the judicious reader; the human heart is desperately wicked, the nakedness before God is the same, whether under a Pharisee's robes or a common tunic — a pontiff's purple or a friar's sackcloth.}

There are three immense subjects that now come before us Sin, death and the conscience.

Sin had entered into the world by one man. Sin existed before, as we learn from Ezekiel 28, which gives us the account of the fall of "the anointed cherub;" of him who became enamoured of his own beauty, who fell, and who has acted ever since in dire opposition to God.

The important thing in Genesis 3 is the entrance of sin into the world; that is, upon this earth. Then death is God's judgment upon man, and when this is understood, it is seen how serious a thing it is; if we are to measure man's distance from God, we must admit that death alone is the measure. This is of the very highest moment in a day like ours, when every effort is made to reduce death to the fact of ceasing to exist upon the earth. It is an immense thing when the fact is apprehended that God's judgment is pronounced on the first man Adam, and upon all his race.

Notice, carefully, that the conscience is the knowledge of good and evil. Jehovah Elohim said: "Behold the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil." It is not the measure of good and evil, as some people teach, and the natural conscience could never serve as a guide to the real path of life. Besides the falling away from God, there was a vast change morally in man, that should capacitate him, through redemption, for great things.

The latter part of this passage (Gen. 3) will bring us to God's gracious intervention both in present government and in ultimate blessing to the creatures whose fall is narrated in the former portion; how blessed to perceive God overcoming evil with good!

The question: "Where art thou?" must be answered, and no excuses can avail. In announcing the bruising of the serpent's head by the seed of the woman, God did not make a promise to Adam (as many pretend), but announced a future deliverance, as well as the judgment of the enemy himself.

Let us look for a moment at the two great facts connected with God's intervention to bless man.

1. His present government and care of the fallen creature.

2. His resources in the last Adam through whom a new order of things should be brought in.

There is one great remedy, in God's present government, that enables man to go through his part in this present life, and that is work. There is to be the sweat of the brow, whilst the thorns and thistles* are growing; there is to be labour. As I write these lines from a country where the soil is being sadly neglected and towns crowded with (so-called) intellectual workers, I would call attention to the fact that God's great remedy for actual misery is eating bread with the sweat of the brow, and I doubt if there be any other panacea for the ills that flesh is heir to.

{* It is pretended, in what is called consecrated ground, to have taken off the curse. I have sometimes asked those who speak thus: "Why do thistles, thorns, nettles, etc., still grow in your consecrated cemeteries?"}

But we have another subject here, and several facts, at the end of chapter 3, join to make it clear to us.

The man was driven out of Eden, but at the same time we have a distinct view of the accomplishment of God's counsels through redemption, and of another order of things in the future, where all should be based upon a firm foundation. The second Man comes into view.

Notice that the Lord God Himself made coats of skins for the guilty couple; covering founded upon sacrifice. Also it is to be remarked that Adam called his wife Eve (Khavah, "the living") in the face of death, and here we must recognise faith in him.

The way of the tree of life was closed by the cherubim with the revolving sword, blazing in every direction; and here we must say one or two words. There could be no way to the tree of life for man in his sinful state; and in order that Christ should become the Tree of life for us, He must fully meet all the responsibility of the first man — this He did, blessed be His name, upon the cross. The grain of wheat, unless it died, remained alone; there was life in Him, but to bring us into it, He must die. The blessed Lord met all the terrors of the flaming sword that kept the way of true happiness; and He is become for us the Tree of life. In Revelation 22, there is no mention of the tree of responsibility, whilst the Tree of life, with perennial fruits, is in the midst of the street of that great city, the holy Jerusalem. Blessed is the prospect to all those who have part in the new creation. I call the reader's attention to this, that it is not:
". … loss of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful seat."

It is not restoration to Eden, but entrance according to God's counsels into His heaven, in and with His Christ, the last Adam, blessed for ever!

He tasted death for everything; He, risen and glorified, is the source of everlasting joy, peace and worship in that sphere where no serpent, no dog, no magician, nor any other cause of trouble shall ever enter! To Him be everlasting glory!

Genesis 4.

Life outside of Eden began with a fratricidal murder.

Eve, like most mothers, thought much of her firstborn, Cain; but he proved to be not that acquisition that she supposed. It will be well for us to read attentively this well-known story, so that man's religion may appear to all in its true light; there is a great "revival" in the present day of Cain's religious service, and we shall do well to keep quite away from it.

It is natural to man to approach God with the fruit of his own labour in his hands. Such a feeling is deep in human nature; and whatever traditional idolatry may have come in, or even fetishism, there will be found, I believe, in all men, naturally, the desire to present some fruit of their own labour to God.

East or west, north or south, you will find this at the very bottom of men's hearts. I was once shown a mosque of alabaster, built by an ambitious tyrant, who had hoped thus to propitiate Allah at the end of his days; and an opulent London merchant once told me, as the highest merit, that he had built a church for his country men in a foreign country. All these kind of votive offerings spring from the desire to approach God with the work of one's own hands, and, like Cain's first offering, they can never be received by God.

It may seem to some superfluous, but I cannot let such a subject pass without calling attention to the fact that at the present moment there is a great effort in some quarters to revive, in a peculiar way, the service of Cain. It is natural to man's heart everywhere and in every time — but I mean in a special manner, that in the very places where evangelical truth had been known, the religion of Cain is being taught. Look at England!

Abel was born outside Eden and was of a fallen race, as Cain his brother; it was his offering that made him acceptable. How wonderful it is to find a man at the very beginning of history, who draws nigh to God through death! May we not well suppose that God Himself had made known to this first family of mankind that there was no other way of approach? (Compare chap. 3:21 with chap. 4:7.)

Abel confessed by his gift the fact of being under the judgment of God; the death of the victim evidently preceded the presentation of the fat, and this latter part of the sacrifice foreshadows the excellency of Him who said: "Lo, I come to do thy will." The fat may be looked upon as the consecrated will of Christ — His own worth as devoted to God. (He could say: "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life that I might take it again.") Happy are they who know a little of His value, who spoke thus; and who know what it is to be accepted in Him! Surely we shall never be weary of this glorious subject. God speaks to our souls by this clear antediluvian voice of Abel, of His appreciation of Jesus. Might we know more in our service of the offering and "the fat thereof"!

But the true nature of religious man becomes but too evident in the sequel. Cain will not listen to the voice of God. I suppose that there can be no real doubt as to the force of "sin lieth at the door." It means that a sin offering* was lying (literally crouching) at the door.

{* Sin and sin offering are the same word in the text (chattath); the meaning here is that Cain had not far to go if he wished to find a sin offering. It was as though the animal were crouching at the very door; there was a remedy in the case of his failing to approach God in the proper way.}

Cain obstinately followed his own way, and the mind of the flesh is enmity against God. The murder of Abel is the downward direction of man's will, if insubjection to God be the upward. He slew his brother, because his works were wicked and his brother's righteous. There is grand talk in our day of "religious toleration;" but the bent of man's natural mind would tolerate neither God's goodness nor those who have known it.

I believe we enter but little into the murderous character of the world we are in; people are killing each other as I write this.

" What hast thou done?" These are the words addressed to Cain, and his heartless answers to God shew us a man without consciousness of the evil he had committed. He wished to escape the consequences of his sin, but that is a very different thing. I recollect visiting a prison where I met many hardened ruffians, who would have liked to be released, but who had no true penitence.

Cain, a marked man (for God set the mark upon him so that he should not be slain), went out of God's presence in this state. A man with a hardened conscience built the city which was called after his son; that city which so clearly represents the whole kosmos. (that is the ornate system known as the world), and where all the arts and sciences are cultivated, but God excluded.

Music, metallurgy and agriculture. Stringed and wind instruments, iron and brass work, and much cattle. I shall never forget being for about five minutes in one of the chief bazaars of the East, and seeing the wealth of nations by the soft light of oil lamps: Damascus steel, Persian and Indian silks, jewels, and the finest polished gold, brazen work, and spices. My feeling was that I should like to get out of it, and why? Is there anything wrong in the arts and sciences? No; but because I felt that there was no place there for God or for Christ.

Cain and company have put up on their huge workshop: "No admittance" to God. Jesus Christ is excluded from the world (John 7:7), and your place and mine, christian reader, is outside of it.

We may for the moment have to work materially at any art that may serve as our gagne-pain; it is a good thing to have work to do. But the heart, the soul, of the Christian is surely outside of the huge town, where political economy without God is practised; and instead of claiming the land as his own, he would rather accept the grave of Abel, and wait, though still on a blood-stained soil (stained, alas! by blood of far higher value than Abel's), till He, who is the resurrection and the life, shall come to take him to the Father's house.

Cain, as a type, as a vagabond and wanderer on the face of the earth, represents the Jewish nation, guilty of their Messiah's death.

Genesis 5 — 9.

In looking at the part of the divine oracles that follow Cain's history, there are two great things that will occupy us: —

1. The state of the antediluvian world, leading up to the Deluge.

2. The cataclysm itself, and its effects.

I should like, in this brief paper, to consider the former of these two subjects; that is, the state of the earth before the flood.

The universal reign of death must be noticed. There is something very striking in the line of long-lived patriarchs, from Adam to Noah, and the final, "and he died," attached to each short history. Death was reigning, a sure proof of sin having come into the world.

The sixth chapter brings us up to the flood. The population of the old (antediluvian) world multiplied with a portentous mixture of good and evil, and monsters* were the result.

{* I must again refer to learned friends for the translation of Nephilim. Is not Nephil similar to pelor, a monster? The title is applied to Canaanite giants in Numbers 13 later on, and these too were evidently of monstrous build.}

But it was not merely a time of gigantic births; evil had developed itself to such an extent that the earth was full of violence and corruption. The heart of man comes into view here, and we see its true character still further explained by our Lord in Matthew 15); an impure but fertile source of evil.

What a study is the antediluvian world; physical monstrosities, and the inner heart of man! Notice that as yet there was no established government, and the human race had run into violent and corrupt practice — that is, into advanced socialism.

I have little doubt that many of the traditions of mythology were founded upon what took place before the flood; but whatever "the mighty men of old" and the "giants" may have been, I believe that the most important thing of all is the exposure of that moral monstrosity; "every imagination of the thoughts of man's heart was evil daily."

Noah found grace in the eyes of Jehovah in the midst of all the lawlessness of that time; and we are brought to that point in early history, where an end must be made of all flesh. It is one of the most serious facts in Genesis. The ,end of the whole race had come before God; there must be a complete destruction of man and beast; God's judgment must fall, and the curtain be drawn down on this part of the earth's, history.

But we must notice one other man before we speak of Noah. Amidst the increasing lawlessness and prolific evil of the antediluvian age, Enoch walked with God. There was a man who followed a path of true piety amidst the violence and corruption of his time, who was separate from the spirit of the age, and who so vividly felt the necessity of approaching judgment, that he exclaimed: "Behold, the Lord has come* amidst his holy myriads, to execute judgment against all; and to convict all the ungodly of them of all their works of ungodliness, which they have godlessly wrought, and of the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him."

{* elthe. The need of Jehovah's intervention was so felt by the faithful man that he seemed to see the event, in his mind's eye, by anticipation. Compare Luke 10:18.}

This man was Enoch; he walked with God during three hundred years, with active faith, and with the divine approbation. (Heb. 11.) We may safely suppose that the ungodly sinners who surrounded him did not much approve his walk; and the most wonderful part of the life of this extraordinary man was its end. He was translated that he should not see death; he was not found, he disappeared from the midst of an advanced age (advanced in ungodly presumption) and went up to be with God.

There can be little doubt that we have in Enoch a figure of the christian's (or, if you please, of the church's) path on earth and translation to heaven.

Noah represents rather those who will pass through the great crisis of the earth's history (the impending judgment), and inherit the earth when the great tribulation shall have passed.

In both these men we have an example of active faith. The first one walked as seeing God's glory, its moral requirements, and imminent judgment; the second prepared for and went through the judgment itself.

Noah passed through the deluge in safety, in the ark which God had commanded him to make. He, and seven others, were saved through water, and there is really no other way of being saved. The water washed away all trace of the old world and of the man that made it what it was; it all disappeared with its giants and men of renown, and the ark that rode on the waters of death represented that deliverance which we know through the death and resurrection of Christ. (See 1 Peter 3:18-22.)

If Enoch represents (as he undoubtedly does) the church of God, walking as a stranger here, and going to be with the Lord, Noah is the figure of the earthly people, who shall pass through the great hour of trial at the end, and come into possession of the millennial earth.

The great thing to notice in Noah, oracularly warned of the coming catastrophe, is his simple obedience to the voice of God. The dimensions of the ark were given — the window, the door, and different decks; and Noah made everything according to what was commanded.

We know from 2 Peter that he was a preacher of righteousness, and we may well notice the long-suffering of God, ever slow to execute judgment, up to the very moment of closing the door of the ark.

A certain analogy may certainly be drawn between Noah's time and our own; and it is, to say the least, a serious thing to be living in a world of which it is said by One who never prophesied in vain: "As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the Son of man; they ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all."

What is the character of your life, my reader, in a world where the most careless are often heard to say: "After us, the Deluge!" — it is a serious question?

The Flood

Many wish to ignore the flood. The end of the world is never a very pleasing subject to a vast majority of its citizens; and we are living in a day when people speak of the science of "teleology," that is, the science of explaining the end of the world as we should like it to take place. It is really no science at all.

These people would seek to ignore the great fact of the deluge, that is, of God's intervention to put an end to a world whose iniquity had come to a climax; just as they refuse to believe that the present world will be burnt up. (See 2 Peter 3.) They deny that the whole world was drowned under God's judgment; they refuse the prophecy of a general conflagration.

This, however, will take place, notwithstanding all the insurance companies against fire.

And now let us look at the divinely-inspired account of this great act of God.

The breaking up of the fountains of the great deep and sudden opening of the windows of heaven were the miraculous execution of God's purpose to destroy the life of all creatures upon earth; it is a serious lesson — the end of all flesh had come, and after long patience, the sentence was carried out.

There may be interest, no doubt, in the fragments of history that have come to us through the mythology; the flood of Deucalion and other tales, founded upon one great fact; but the important thing for us is to have this immense catastrophe clearly before us, so that we may bow to the just acts of a righteous God, and accept this judgment on the whole human race.

Had it been possible to see the globe after the forty days and forty nights, one huge ball of water would have been descried with one ark floating on a sea without shore. The whole earth was drowned.

We must read the remarkable verses in 1 Peter 3:20-21, to learn the true lesson of the floating ark. God had shut up Noah, with all that should form the nucleus of the new earth; and as the flood clearly represents the death of the world, so must the preserved few pass through the waters of death to inherit the postdiluvian blessing. So we (believers) pass through death, of which baptism is the figure, in order to enter into the light and joy of the Lord's presence in resurrection; there is no other way into it.

It is a deep, a terrible experience to go through that element in which all human* life must perish; to know what association with a risen Christ is, in a state of things for ever secure from judgment, is none the less happy.

{* I mean, of course, of the first man, that is, of all those who are descended from Adam and Eve.}

Judgment shall fall upon the present age, as it fell upon the antediluvians; our Lord Himself announces it, and it is well to keep in view that which is coming upon the earth. (Matt. 24; Luke 17.)

The cessation of the flood, and the events that accompany it, are full of interest. The account of the dove and the raven, of the sacrifice and blessing, and of the rainbow are here before us, and merit attention.

The dove could not remain upon the earth until all the effects of judgment were past; and then comes the burnt offering presented to Jehovah. We must notice that whilst He graciously received the sacrifice and blessed Noah and the new earth through it, He again announced that which had already been said as to man's heart (compare chap. 6:5 with chap. 8:21) — its imagination is evil continually.

No act of judgment in God's ways in government can ever change the heart of man. All depends upon the value of the offering, and surely in this, as in every other holocaust, the graces of Christ offering Himself in perfect devotedness to God are before us.

"Jehovah smelled a sweet savour; and Jehovah said in his heart, I will not curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every living thing, as I have done. While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease."

The faithful Creator keeps the covenant made with Noah till the end of the earth's history in its present state. There was a lengthening of a day in Joshua's time, and in the time of Hezekiah, when the shadow receded upon the dial; but the course of nature was not interrupted.

It is a great thing in the present day to be taught of scripture to know God as Creator and Sustainer of all things. The interest is all the greater for us who believe, because we know that it was by the Son that the energy of creation was displayed, and that He upholds all things by the power of His might. (John 1; Col. 1; Heb. 1; Rev. 4.)

All glory be to the blessed Lord Jesus!

The giving of the sign to Noah after Jehovah had blessed the renovated earth, and put the sword of government into the patriarch's hands, is very much to be noticed.

It is like a new beginning, the family are blessed and put at the head of the new state of things; and the principle of government, that is, of the magistrate who beareth not the sword in vain, is introduced into the earth that had run riot in violence and corruption before the deluge. Whoso sheds man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed, for man was made in God's image.

The beautiful rainbow shines out upon the dark clouds. How barren a thing is science, and what a wretched explanation of the phenomenon! I do not mean that the exact sciences are not useful in the present state of things, nor to deny that 2 + 2 = 4, nor the mathematical laws of optics.

No person in his right mind will deny the reflection and refraction of the sun's rays through the rain drops; but, I say, what a barren thing it would be for our souls if we saw nothing in the rainbow but the laws of the angles of incidence, etc., and the doctrine of light waves!

Some one said that phenomena speak to the heart and conscience, whilst science speaks to the intellect. It is so; and God would speak to our hearts and consciences in the rainbow. His faithfulness shines out in perfect colours in the token which He displayed, where man's
heart portended trouble, and where the sombre clouds of His righteous anger were still hovering.

In the Revelation (chap. 4), where all heaven is preparing to judge the earth, which has grown old in iniquity, and which has not profited by the lesson of the deluge, we see again the rainbow around the throne, where He, the Creator and Judge, is seated. We need not be surprised at the homage rendered to Him, who in the very midst of His strange work (judgment) remembers mercy and the covenant He has made with creation.

Let us look with admiration, awe and grateful thanksgiving at the seven bright colours of unfolded light in God's rainbow! The clouds may darken as we pass through a condemned world, but our hearts can go up to Him who is light and can sustain the faith of His own in His own way.

Genesis 10, 11.

There are two things that come before our notice in Genesis 10 and 11.

1. The generations of the sons of Noah, and

2. The tower of Babel.

As to the first subject, I would recommend any who are assailed by ethnological infidels, to keep to Genesis 10, comparing the names of the sons of Shem, Ham and Japheth with the further development of their tribes in the prophetic and other parts of the divine oracles. A humble student of scripture will have a more simple and correct view of the nations of the earth than all the great ethnologists put together.

Noah's unhappy fall became the indirect means of a very general prophecy as to the three grand races.

"Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren." It is not necessary to go very far amongst the sons of Ham to understand the fulfilment of this.

"Blessed be Jehovah, God of Shem and Canaan shall be his servant." There was to be a special revelation made in that family, and relation established.

God shall enlarge* Japheth. The huge and audacious family of Japheth went East first of all, and then came West in numerous migrations: it forms the great mass of the Gentiles. "God shall tabernacle in the tents of Shem," I think will include all His ways in Israel and the very advent of the Messiah.

{* I need not call the studious reader's attention to the force of enlarge. The word Japheth and "enlarge" are from the same root.}

Some one has very rightly said that Genesis 10 is a survey of the races; and that we must not bring time (chronological arrangement) into it.

The grand divisions are: —

Of Ham — Ethiopians, Egyptians, Libyans, Canaanites.

Of Shem — Mesopotamians, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Lud and Syrians.

Of Japheth — the Celtic family (Gomer), the tribes to the north of the Caucasus (Magog), Medes, Greeks, Tibareni, Moschi and Thracians — generally the Indo-Europeans.

The building of the tower of Babel forms a memorable epoch in the history of mankind. It was a huge association to construct a temple of fame.* It was the centralising of human forces, bricks cemented with slime.

{* It is a wrong and almost puerile idea that this great building was made to rise above and defy the waters of another deluge; the attempt was "to make a name" (Gen. 11:4) , that is, to establish man's glory independently of God.}

The character of Babel (Babylon) may be seen all through the Bible, whether in the great Chaldean city, in a material way, or in the vast spiritual system of the Apocalypse. I believe that the Book of Genesis gives us its essential character: independency of God and utter confusion.

In Zechariah 5, the vision of the woman compressed into the measure with a mass of lead and carried into the land of Shinar, represents the principles of Babylon, that is, wickedness to be established on its own base, in the latter days. The tower of Babel was never finished, Babylon (the city) is a mere cluster of sand mounds, the great religious Rome shall fall; but the spirit of Babel, that is, of man's will, independent of God, acting in a system, will go on until it is finally judged.

The brick-making and building enterprise prospered until God Himself interfered to check the presumptuous folly of the human race. His judgment smote them just in the very point of their pretensions; they were aiming at independent unity, and God condemned them to be scattered, with a hopeless confusion of tongues.

They left off building their city. When God comes in, man's operations always come to a sudden standstill; and so it will ever be.

We must carefully remember the name of Babel, for it will be useful to us further on. "Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because Jehovah did there confound the language of all the earth; and from thence did Jehovah scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth."

Their rallying point and centre became a point for centrifugal scattering, in all directions, of the earthly tribes; so completely did Jehovah confound their designs in one single moment.

The account of the dispersion of the builders gives us then a great insight into God's ways; He will permit human association and labour to construct an apparently permanent centre, independent of Him, a tower of Babel — and then with one breath so upset the whole attempt, that all Babel building becomes vain. To see clearly the declaration of independence in the building of Babel is a great help to the understanding of God's ways with men, for it must and shall end in utter ruin.

May we, who know God's true Centre, be kept near enough to the Lord to be walking every step in the true spirit of dependence; so will our own individual joy be great, and so shall we be preserved from scattering and centrifugal forces!

Genesis 12, 13.

A new phase in God's ways toward men appears in the call of Abram. It was the first time that God had called a man out of his country and kindred, and we must observe attentively this going forth of the patriarch.

Two things are patent in this call: one, that the state of the earth was so bad that God's witness must come out of it, and be a stranger and pilgrim here; the other, that God is sovereign in His election, and that He alone knows why He chose to call Abram rather than any one else.

It is a new beginning, and the sovereign will of God alone can explain it. When Abram finally took the step and left Haran (where he had halted), Jehovah appeared unto him and said: "Unto thy seed will I give this land."* It has been justly remarked that then Abram is seen with a tent and an altar.

{* It is well to distinguish chapter 12:7 from the preceding promise of making a great nation of the patriarch. I transcribe a note that may be a help to many. "The promise (chap. 12:7) is repeated only in chapter xxii, during Abraham's history, and then to the seed alone the promise of his posterity and of the land to him and to his seed is often repeated. It is to this promise given to Abraham in chapter 12 and confirmed to the seed in chapter 26, that the apostle refers in Galatians. The earthly seed, on the contrary, was to be numerous. The translation of Galatians 3:16 should be: Now to Abraham were the promises made, and to his seed.' And in the following verse, not in Christ, but to Christ. He was the seed of promise." (Synopsis, J. N. D.)

It may be useful to notice the first call of God, and the going forth from idolatrous Chaldea; and then this second part of the life of the called man — this is his worship, and his shifting habitation in Canaan (having no firmer hold to the soil than that of tent-pegs).

The first call had preceded the stay at Haran, and we know that Abram had gone forth, not knowing whither he went, but as called by the God of glory, and as having at the end of his course, visible to faith, the celestial city, which hath foundations made and constructed by God Himself. It is not that there was anything, intrinsically, in the idols and images (graven and molten) of Ur of the Chaldees; but there was, behind the representative figures and shapes, the power and craft of demons that had taken possession of the earth, since Babel. It is not the hideous form of Artemis of the Ephesians, or of Juggernaut, that is to be feared, but the fierce, enslaving evil spirits that are behind the eidolon, and which have such power over men. Abram was called out from demon worship, to know the God of glory who has prepared a city for His elect. There is nothing, except the call of God, that can deliver a soul from idols. What a striking fact, what a sight for all, is that of a man coming forth, in simple faith, to live in a tent (for it has often been shewn that he received nothing actually, but all in promise), a true stranger upon an earth of idolaters!

But in chapter 12:6 there is something more. The Canaanite was still in the land; that is, a figure of Satan's present power with his auxiliaries — he has not yet been driven out.

Abram was not called to drive out the Canaanite, but we find his altar to Jehovah on the very ground of the wicked nations, his tent likewise. A worshipper and a stranger in the very place where the Canaanite was flourishing — an altar with the ascending smoke of accepted sacrifice in the very face of the enemy — it is a wonderful sight. We may well travel back in spirit to the tent pitched between Bethel and Hai, and bless Jehovah, who could thus sustain the pilgrim father and his household in the true spirit of adoration, there, where the adversary's stronghold was; for what could be more dark or terrible than the reign of the demons in Canaan?

O christian reader, is your tent like that of the elect man, pitched near Bethel? Is your family free of the world and of idols, and have you a distinct sense of worship? Abraham called on the name of Jehovah; do you call on the name of the Father?

Let us look well at this extraordinary picture on the hill to the east of Bethel, and take a lesson from the faithful pilgrim worshipping and calling upon the name of Jehovah!

The southern journey of Abraham was not at all so felicitous. It ended by the famine driving him down into Egypt; and we must admit that as Abram got into lower latitudes, he got into a lower state.

Egypt represents the world with its resources, and it is not said that God commanded Abram to go down there; indeed He could have sustained His servant in a famine as well as in plenty.

Abram and Sarai got at once into a false position in Egypt. The woman, fair to look upon, was taken into Pharaoh's house; and if we think of the two together, they represent both the place and the acting of God's elect, gone down into the world. The woman represents the position, the man the conduct (it has been said) in such a case; and I have no doubt that this is quite a right view of the figure.

If, later on, the church goes down into the world and into Pharaoh's house, what are you to expect but sad inconsistencies and a conduct that is not upright?

I suppose that each believer who has gone to the world for relief in time of famine, has had a similar experience. Abram was in very prosperous circumstances in Egypt, and had sheep, oxen, he-asses, menservants and maidservants, and she-asses and camels; but with all these secular riches, he had one thing beside which spoilt all — a bad conscience.

It is no real consolation to a man who is unhappy in his heart and mind, to have he and she-asses, camels, and servants. Where was Sarai? What had become of those happy hours when he and his family were worshipping Jehovah, and living according to the light of their calling? Not all the treasures of Mizraim, not all the flocks and herds could ever fill the aching void that there was in Abram's heart.

We have felt the same, no doubt; but however much we may have failed, it is a happy thing to know that God will not allow His chosen one to remain in the world. Abram was brought up out of it, and Egypt was plagued; and this is a very simple fact, and quite enough to keep us from settling down in a false position, in a world which, after all, is to be destroyed.

Morally judged already, the time is no longer far off when the execution of God's just wrath shall put an end to the pretentious age in which we are living, and to that whole system, of which the flourishing kingdom of the Pharaohs was but a part and type.

Genesis 14.

Abraham, Lot, and Melchizedek

The choice of Lot has been so much spoken of and so often followed, that it may seem superfluous to allude to it; however, we must notice carefully this part of the history.

Abraham's whole life is divided, in Genesis, into three grand portions: chapters 12 — 14; 15 — 21; 22 — 25:10; notice carefully these divisions, attentive reader, for I shall have to allude to them again.

In the present part (chaps. 12 — 14), we have the call of Abraham, his steadfastness in contrast with Lot's choice, and his meeting with Melchizedek after the defeat of the confederate kings.

Chapter 13 brings us back to Abraham's altar, to the happy position in which he was at first; and almost immediately we have Lot's choice of the fertile plain, which was like the garden of Jehovah, and like the land of Egypt. I can quite understand the impression that such a smiling valley would make on a man's mind (through his eyes); for if any of my readers have ever looked upon a vista of budding vegetation, orange and citron trees and bananas, crowned with feathery date-palms, as one may see in the Delta, he will comprehend the meaning of "like the garden of the Lord" and "like the land of Egypt."

Lot saw this verdant plain, and the lust of the eyes was too much for him; soon afterwards he was in it, and his tent pitched in the vicinity of one of the most wicked places under the sun. Ah! how often have we seen a similar picture; the fairest landscape inhabited by exceeding great sinners. Look at the bay of Naples!

It is then that Jehovah confirms His promise and call to the true pilgrim father; after the separation from Lot, the Lord speaks to Abraham, revealing to him the extent of the blessing accorded to a true stranger on earth. Our hearts rest in peace in the shades of Mamre with an altar built to the Lord, far away from the ambition and busy hum of the cities of the plain.

Ambition and the true spirit of the world soon spew themselves in the form of war. This is one of the great delights of the nations; I mean, fighting. We hear universal disarming of the Gentile powers spoken of, but we may be assured that such a thing will never really take place whilst the world is in its present state.

A battle fought in the vale of Siddim, which was full of slime-pits, five kings against four — there is a glorious occurrence! Lot had to pay for his civic rights, and found himself dragged off into captivity and all his goods confiscated.

Abram's intervention in this case is that of one who could help a worldly man in trouble, without getting into the world himself; he would accept nothing at all from the king of Sodom, not even a bootlace! It should not be said that the cities of the plain had enriched the man whose altar smoked to Jehovah in Mamre; he, the separate man, could come in with divine resources (for he fought with real household troops, in the Lord's service) and deliver the oppressed, without taking anything from the world. There is such a thing as saving people with fear, snatching them out of the fire, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh; and in this spirit did Abraham deliver his unhappy nephew from the confederate kings.

But we have another personage brought before us here, another king more truly majestic than the king of Sodom. Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, appears unto Abraham. Lot, I believe, never saw him.

I suppose we all understand what Melchizedek's action represents; that is, his bringing forth the bread and wine after the defeat of the confederate kings. There can be no doubt but that he is the figure of Him that was to come, the true Priest after the order of Melchizedek, the glorious Christ of God, King of righteousness, and King of peace, who shall come with blessing and refreshment to the whole earth after the final rout of the confederate kings.

He, Jesus Christ our Lord, shall come forth in that day, and His kingdom shall be established in power, in righteousness, and in peace. He shall be King and Priest upon the throne!

But we have more to consider in this splendid apparition to Abraham. We cannot pass by so glorious a person as Melchizedek without looking at that which the scripture says of our Lord, in the present time.

It is for us to know the true Melchizedek; for us, as being now a heavenly people, separated from this world, and on our way to God's rest. It is of Christ as Priest according to the order of Melchizedek that the Holy Spirit speaks in the Epistle to the Hebrews. If we have a true pilgrim spirit, and, like Abraham, are really separate from Sodom and those who live in it, we may study this interesting subject (that of Melchizedek); if we are worldly, I am afraid we shall not be able to understand much about it.

It was when Abraham was truly separate from the world, and when he had suffered in rescuing Lot, that the king of righteousness and of peace appeared to him.

There are but three allusions to Melchizedek in the whole of the scriptures. The first is here, in Genesis 14; the second in Psalm 110; and the third in the Epistle to the Hebrews. In the second of these (Ps. 110) our Lord's present position is clearly maintained, that is, His session at the right hand of Jehovah until His enemies be made His footstool.

He is then constituted, by an oath, High Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek; and this is referred to in Hebrews 5, 6, and 7, where our Lord's present attitude and ministry are largely developed.

The whole order of priesthood has been changed, and before the time comes of the manifestation of the true Melchizedek, we (believers) know Him glorified in heaven, able to save completely those who approach by Him to God, always living to intercede for them. It is a happy thing when Christians really begin to understand what our Lord's present place as Priest is; when, instead of contenting themselves with knowing that His power and interest are always exerted in their favour, they know Him as having sat down on the right hand of the throne of the greatness in the heavens.

To know Him thus, as minister of the holy places and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord has pitched and not man; to know Him as the One who now maintains our hearts in the knowledge and enjoyment of heavenly things, before we actually arrive in heaven, this is to know Him as Priest after the order of Melchizedek.

A true separation from the world will always be found to accompany the knowledge of a glorious Christ; if ye are reproached in the name of Christ, blessed are ye, for the Spirit of glory and the Spirit of God rests upon you.

There is a calm expression of dignity and glory on the part of the royal priest who met Abram; and the patriarch himself bears the traces of dignity and glory in his reply to the king of Sodom.

"I have lift up my hand unto Jehovah, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, that I will not take from a thread even to a shoe-latchet, and that I will not take anything that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich: save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion"!

These are the words of a truly independent man his walk had been one of separation and of obedience to God's will. He was a man whom the world never could have approved, as it approved Lot and gave him a place in the gate of Sodom a man who walked according to the light that God had given him, and who, knowing the resources of the Most High, could come forth from his interview with the priest of the Most High, with all the fitting manners of one who had met a royal priest. He refuses the world's help without any pretension, and declares in simple and powerful language the glory and riches of the God upon whom he depends.

This is a very striking part of the history of the patriarch Abram. The three figures stand out before us in bold relief.

Lot, who deliberately chooses a path which is of a far lower order than the one to which God had called him. A man who belonged to God, but whose heart could not get above the well-watered plain of Sodom. "An enlightened believer," the world would have said. "An unfaithful saint," saith scripture.

Abram, who chose to be with God and who was infinitely happier with Him in Mamre than he could have been without Him, no matter how beautiful might be the garden. Abram, the man of faith and true to his calling, who suffered in the path of separation, but was able to deliver Lot, and with his heart full of the glories of the Most High God, could decline to receive anything from the king of Sodom.

Melchizedek, the type of the glorious Christ. The sudden apparition of this great man upon the scene, his majestic service, his receiving tithes from Abram, his blessing the patriarch in the name of the Most High God, possessor of heaven and earth — all these glories point to the still higher glories of our Lord, who shall come forth in His time to bring blessing to the earth, and who is known to us now as the minister of the sanctuary, a High Priest for ever according to the order of the royal priest and king.

Genesis 15 — 21.

There is a prophetic revelation made to Abraham in the beginning of chapter 15. It is the word of Jehovah coming to him in a vision.

In a vision, I think very often the true state of the heart is expressed, and there was evidently in Abram's thoughts a difficulty that had never been solved. "I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward," Jehovah said, and Abram replies: "Adonai Elohim, what wilt thou give me?" There was no hope, no natural possibility of an heir, and Abram asks for an explanation.*

{* It is often remarked that the human mind, if it is at all active, is sure to say, "Why?" "What?" "How?" Its natural state is that of asking the reason why. I trust that it is not detracting from the patriarch, the great man of faith, to point out that questions arose in his mind, as in those of others. God is His own interpreter, and happy are they who wait quietly upon Him.}

God reassures him, and he believes God's word, The whole passage gives us a prophetic account of the way in which Jehovah would carry out His promises, and that notwithstanding all the shadows which appear as the sun is setting and the deep sleep and darkness coming upon Abram. What a tale of God's power, of man's weakness and of darkness and light in the covenant made with the father of believers! In this case, it is the prophetic view of the earthly people, the going down to Egypt, the coming out when the iniquity of the Amorites should be full, the bright lamp after the smoking furnace, and ultimate glory and dominion of the twelve tribes.

It is just the kind of vision that one in a reasoning state of mind might expect to see; though it ends well.

But in chapter 16 it is not merely looking at one's own heart; Abram listens to Sarai, and condescends to follow her advice, and we hear nothing of his faith upon this occasion. It was not faith to listen to Sarai; and the result of their expedient was not satisfactory. Ishmael was born, and the very first description of him, "He shall be a wild-ass* man," his hand against every one, and every one's hand against him; a trouble rather than a help. It is not that God has not had mercy on the Arabs — indeed, Ishmael's descendants receive a blessing in chapter 17; but it must be confessed that they have been very troublesome since Ishmael disturbed Abram's household, up to the present day. You might as well try to tame the wildest animal, as to induce the Bedawee to live peaceably.

{* This is the literal meaning of verse 12. May I remind the reader that an Eastern wild ass is a very fine animal, unlike the unfortunate Western asses. It is an indomitable, high spirited animal, as any who have had to do with the onager tribe will say.}

Notice, too, that Hagar was an Egyptian, and the result of mixing the seed of the promise with the world is Ishmael, the untameable wild ass.

This is what comes of listening to Sarai's advice.

The following chapter gives us quite a different aspect of the man of faith. It is a more complete bowing to God, or rather setting aside of man in the presence of Him who comes to bless His own according to His own thoughts. There is no asking why or what, there is no consultation with Sarai, but Abram falls upon his face before the Lord, who blesses him. Abram and Sarai are transformed (larger vessels) into Abraham and Sarah, and circumcision is commanded.

The destruction of Sodom, and the coming of the heir according to promise, and the expulsion of the bondmaid's son — these grand truths now are brought before us, and complete this phase of Abraham's history, up to the end of chapter 21, where a little millennial scene again appears.

Much has been said as to the great fire of Sodom, but the narrative does not lose much by being again considered. The great lesson for believers is that of being near enough to the Lord, and in the true sense of the heavenly calling, in a word, high enough upon the mountain, to be out of the mists of Sodom, and to be able to intercede for those who are down in the plain.

The out-of-the-world air of the hills is the only one that a true Christian can breathe; and it is a happy thing when not only heavenly truths are known, but the soul itself braced up in the intimacy of a communion where not only Jehovah does not hide from Abraham His thoughts, but where the Paraclete makes known the glories of the Son, of Jesus in the Father's presence, and things that concern His place in the divine counsels are known in an atmosphere that is not of this world.

The plain of Sodom lay below. Well watered and fertile, none of its inhabitants dreamed of fire and combustion, security seemed to cover the whole valley of the Jordan.

But the man of faith saw the impending ruin, and, himself in quite a different world, could pray for those over whom the judgment was suspended.

How little did the inhabitants of the cities of the Plain think that the end was near! The night was passed, and Lot dragged out of the doomed place by God's own mercy and power — the sun had risen as usual, when God rained fire and brimstone upon Sodom — when sudden destruction fell upon all that valley. It is a picture of a still more terrible conflagration (2 Peter 3), when all shall be burned up. Happy, thrice happy they who are outside the spirit of the age, and able to enjoy, in the Spirit's power, the joys of a heavenly company in a heavenly sphere; able at the same time to intercede for those who are in the low-lying city, and who ought to be out of it.

It is not enough to be outwardly separate from the ways of Sodom, Pompeii and Herculaneum, but the Lord would have us near enough to Him to have His mind in the last days of the great town of vanity; I mean, to occupy the place of Abraham, rather than that of Lot. The full grace of God, by which we have been called into the intimate relationship of children, being thus far nearer to Him than Abraham, the friend of God, cannot be too highly prized.

And now we come to the birth of Isaac, the heir; and the expulsion of Ishmael and Hagar.

Abraham's failure in chapter 20 is over-ruled by God's mercy; and the inheritance is preserved by the bondwoman's son being cast out. The two things cannot subsist together, that is, law and grace; and happy they who have really understood the force of: "Cast out the bondwoman and her son"!

The spirit of untamed flesh was but too patent in the naughty young Arab, and his mocking Isaac was the signal for his being suddenly expelled from the family where God's grace was known in the true heir. The teaching connected with this is as important for us as it was for the Galatians, and I trust that "Ishmael" has been driven out by every one who reads these notes.

After this Abraham appears in his true position to Abimelech, a contrast with chapter 20, and plants a grove in Beersheba, calling on the name of Jehovah, the everlasting God. It is a millennial picture, the Gentiles coming into blessing, through God's chosen family on earth.

Notice, that in the meantime Ishmael had married an Egyptian, and had learned to shoot arrows.

Genesis 22 — 24.

The Sacrifice of Isaac, and the Call of the Bride.

We are now come to the third and last part of the life of Abraham, and the whole passage (chaps. 22 — 25) is pregnant with the grandest truths.

Let us begin with the sacrifice of Isaac. It has been noticed that the great lesson of death coming upon every human hope and prospect is largely taught in figure in the Old Testament. Those who have to do with God and His counsels must pass through death. It is not merely in this case the shadow of death, as the horror of great darkness in chapter 15, but here Abraham is called upon by God to take his only son upon whom his heart is set, and to plunge the sacrificial knife into him with his own hand.

We are never tired of this wonderful narrative, and as we read it, we seem to see the little company start (for the patriarch's alacrity answered at once to the trial) and pursue the long dusty journey towards Moriah. Abraham alone could understand and draw nigh to the God of glory in this supreme act, and as soon as the mountain appeared upon the horizon, he told his servants to wait.

They could understand nothing of the worship that was to take place; they must stop behind with the ass.

"Where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" Elohim Himself should provide the lamb.

Abraham was a man after God's own heart. One touch of the Giver's infinite thoughts, "thine only (one) Isaac," found a ready echo in the man who had been often in the presence of the God of glory. The prompt obedience in accepting death upon Isaac his only hope, his beloved son, proved that God's thoughts were his thoughts on this occasion, as well as his faith in a God of resurrection.

We feel ourselves the need of a worshipping spirit as we approach Mount Moriah; once there, we are far away from men and their ways, on the ground of faith and of God's holy will and thoughts, we look with wonder on Isaac, received* from the dead in a figure. We may worship indeed as the ram smokes upon the altar, a holocaust to Jehovah the Provider. Our hearts go on to the infinite sacrifice of the Son: "In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen "

{* "Got back, when he might have been lost for ever." See the note in loco in the "New Translation" (third edition).}

We may worship indeed with the father of the faithful and with the lad, dead and risen (in figure) beside him.

The blessing pronounced upon Abraham on Mount Moriah is quoted both in the Epistle to the Galatians and in the Hebrews. It is very important to understand the true force of Galatians 3:16: "But to Abraham were the promises made, and to his seed." The Holy Spirit refers here to Genesis 12 and 22 that is, the promises were first of all made to Abraham (in Gen. and then to Isaac (in Gen. 22), who is the type of Christ risen..

The promise was confirmed to Christ, as represented in Isaac, received from the dead in a figure and thus full blessing flows out to the Gentiles.

The allusion to the oath in Hebrews 6 shall leave to the reader's careful study, for the Holy Spirit is there bringing believers to understand what their present full connection with heaven is, in Him who has entered within the veil as forerunner — the stability of God's word confirmed by an oath.

And now we approach quite a new subject, but which depends none the less upon the death and resurrection of Isaac.

In chapter 23 the death of Sarah is recorded. Abraham buys the field of Ephron, to be the cemetery of the faithful, and this is all that he ever acquired as a true possession on the earth. Sarah disappears, and an entirely new figure comes upon the scene — Rebekah, the bride of the dead and risen Isaac.

One of the most complete and beautiful figures of the Old Testament unfolds to us here that which should take place later, when the church should be called out and brought across the desert to the true Isaac, the risen Christ.

"Beware lest thou bring my son thither again." (Chap. 24:6.) The bride must be called out from the world, whilst Christ is personally standing aloof from it.

Each time we read this passage, so fertile in marvellous events expressed in wonderful language, we discern fresh glories in the divine oracles. The pictures of Christ and His church, and the clear aspects of His love to her — and of her love to Him — are drawn by the Holy Spirit Himself.

Without attempting to follow out the details of this narrative, let us notice a few grand features of the present calling out of the church.

If Eliezer's journey be taken to represent the activity of the Holy Ghost, there was at the same time a providential work. God should send His angel before the man to prepare the way, and when God prepares the way all goes well; everything happens at the right moment. We may notice, in all times, an outward and providential work that accompanies the inward action of the Holy Spirit.

The great fact before us is the calling out of the bride for the heavenly Man. It is Jehovah Elohim of heaven who had called out Abraham, who now directs everything in the finding and bringing home of the destined companion to the dead and risen Isaac.

The scene unfolds itself before us. Eliezer, entirely pre-occupied with the thoughts and will of his master, the weary camels at evening time, the true spirit of prayer and dependence, the coming forth of the damsel at the right instant — all these things bring out conspicuously the harmony of God's outward providence with the activity of His own counsels, unknown but by the blessed Spirit.

"I being in the way, Jehovah led me to the house of my master's brethren."

The nose-ring and bangles of gold spoke of the wealth of Isaac; but the great question was whether the bride would follow the call, and there could be no delay of any kind until the answer was given, "I will go."

All Eliezer's thoughts were concentrated in the carrying out of the divine errand; and he could not rest until he had told Isaac all the things that he had done.

Happy are they who know the present activity of the blessed Spirit of God; thrice happy they whose hearts are formed by His action! The moment is very near when the bride shall be presented to the Lord Jesus Christ. Isaac went out in the field to meditate in the evening, and saw the camels coming, and Rebekah at the sight of her lord, Eliezer's master, covered herself. "He loved her."

It is well, no doubt, in all figures, not to go beyond what the Holy Spirit would teach us; but may we not see in this a special application to our day?

The time is close at hand when the true Isaac shall come forth, when the full and final accomplishment of the words, "The Spirit and the bride say, Come," shall take place.

The glorious heavenly Man will take the church to Himself, and His divine love shall be satisfied. She, on her part (covered, for all that she has is of Him) shall answer to all His glory!

May we understand more fully what the bride's heart really is as answering to the love of Christ!

Now we come to the end of Abraham's life. He might well have sung, "Nunc dimittis," as every other true servant of God at the end of a happy course. I shall ask the reader not to put chapter 25 in chronological sequence to chapter 24, for that is not the real force of the conjunction; the "then again" of the A.V. is unfortunate.

This sums up the patriarch's life, giving an account of his descendants, carefully marking Isaac as the true heir.

His body lies buried in the cave of Machpelah, having obtained witness through faith, awaiting the moment of the resurrection, when he shall be made perfect with us, for whom God has foreseen a still higher blessing.

Genesis 25, 26.

Ishmael and Isaac.

Ishmael represents the flesh with great religious privileges, which make no real change in the flesh's true nature.

It is not for nothing that I have already called attention to the fact that Ishmael learned to be an archer, and married an Egyptian woman.

The two symbolic facts are very easy to understand. The use of the bow always represents war and fighting; and a formal alliance with the world is taught in the marriage with the Egyptian. The world and the flesh go together, and the whole is covered with a great show of religious privilege. An unbridled life, for Ishmael roamed the desert, the profession of arms and an Egyptian wife — this is the one who from his boyhood mocked at the holy seed.

His rapid development and establishment in power is given to us in a few verses. (Chap. 25:12-18.) The twelve princes, his sons, all of them heads of the leading Arab tribes, with their towns and castles, speak to us of what the "religious world" was in those remote ages; whilst Isaac and the true posterity of Abraham were dwelling in tents, these grand lords had their towns and castles. If I say that they were religious, it is because they had great privileges of which they were well aware; but the world and its vain glory, the restless flesh and its mischievous activity (bows and arrows) were to be found in this numerous family. Long before Mahomet collected and made these wandering tribes more religious* than ever, the pride of man's heart was to be seen there — outside the true knowledge of God, whatever the privileges might be.

{* I am not using the word in a good sense, but in that of self-imposed human rules of theology in which the natural heart of man delights. "There is no god but Allah, and — is his apostle."}

I trust that every judicious reader will understand that I am looking at Ishmael in a symbolical light, and not speaking merely of the man himself. Do you think that we have really got rid of "Ishmael, the son of the Egyptian Hagar"? It is a happy thing to be outside the towns and castles and in a tent with the God of glory.

It has often been said of Isaac that his life does not stand out upon the inspired page, like that of his father.

There was no violent break with his kindred, as in Abraham's case; he was born in the very line of blessing, and filled the place of the true heir. The chief events that are mentioned in his life, I think, are his being offered on Mount Moriah, his building the altar in chapter 26 and the blessing of his two sons. This last-mentioned fact is recorded by the Holy Spirit in Hebrews 11.

What we have before us now is the contrast between the flesh and its religion and power (on earth as seen in Ishmael), and the true pilgrim and patient heir quietly waiting upon Jehovah.

There can be no doubt, I think, that Isaac's life is far less brilliant than Abraham's, and we have seen more recent instances of children of eminent believers who have received truths for which they never had to fight, and have never stood out so well as their fathers; yet Isaac's life was a life of faith, and in looking carefully at it, the true blue colour appears and it forms a proper link in the patriarchal chain.

We must look at this man as the dead and risen witness to God's power. He was received from the dead in a figure. We have considered him already as a type of Christ; now let us admire in him a true believer. It is impossible that he could have come down from the mountain where he had been both victim and worshipper, without having the feeling of having passed through death. Of course, I am only speaking figuratively; and I suppose that he had always a distinct recollection of the uplifted knife. He began his career as one alive from the dead, and though there be not the same energy in him as in his father, yet he fulfilled a life of faith.

In Gerar, no doubt (chap. 26), there was want of confidence in the Lord, just after Jehovah had assured him of His protection — and want of energy in keeping the wells of water (those fresh springs which should be jealously kept). But there is the building of an altar to the Lord, the confession of His name, and the pitching of the tent under the shadow of the Almighty; it is then that the Lord's power is felt, and the Gentiles own it. They confess that Jehovah is with him. (Ver. 28.) There was a man living in a tent outside the ordinary course of the world, and it was felt that the Lord was with him; the power of Jehovah's name was there.

Chapter 27 is never read without our feeling thoroughly ashamed of Rebekah and Jacob (and, I trust, of ourselves too, for we have sometimes resorted to wrong expedients); we feel ashamed of human nature and its crafty and selfish ways. But though Isaac does not shine here as he should, and though his call for venison is undignified — yet we must not lose sight of him as a man of faith.

It is said that by faith he blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.

Putting aside the ignoble conduct of the mother and son, and the feebleness of the father, we are ushered into the presence of the Lord, upon the ground of faith. "The things to come," if properly studied, will be found to include God's ways with the people of His promise (Israel), and the remarkable position of Edom (see ver. 40) in his antagonism to the elect people of God. The prophets give to us an ample development of these future things, and Obadiah especially unfolds Esau's character.

I would recommend a careful study of all the prophets where Israel and Edom are mentioned.

To sum up, we have a man of faith, dead and risen, known as having the Lord with him, and seeing out into futurity.

May we never think of Isaac without endeavouring to enter into God's mind for us as pilgrims. Death and resurrection, God's presence with us, and a true outlook into glory!

Genesis 27 — 32.

Jacob and Esau; Israel.

Inlooking over the well-known history of Jacob and Esau, I wish to point out some of the more important events; a few remarks as to Israel, after Jacob's happy transformation, may be edifying to our souls.

The first appearance of the twins upon earth was portentous; the promise that the elder should serve the younger must have excited wonder even before the former was laid hold of by the heel. Had Jacob waited patiently, the promise would not have been encumbered by conditions. (Chap. 27:40.)

Esau is the natural man of the earth, full of the scent of the field, a rough hunter — and profane.

Jacob's deceitful character and moral obliquity are but too evident, and his ways needed many years' discipline in God's school; but he was not profane. In his worst moments there was always the fear of God at the bottom.

Esau gave up his birthright for a momentary advantage, and took two Hittite wives; and these two facts are a sufficient proof of his reckless and godless mind.

If we trace through the Bible the history of Edom, we shall always find the same features, whether in the refusal of passage to Israel in the desert, whether in Doeg, or in the Herods — we shall always find the profane and gross worldly element together with opposition to God. Mount Seir is the stronghold of the flesh, the citadel of godless man; but Edom should be pulled down from his eyrie (see Obadiah) and at his end should be dislodged from his high perch and brought low. And so shall all proud thoughts and pretentious strongholds of the flesh be laid in the dust!

The history of Edom answers (so far as a godly mind requires) the question of God's sovereignty and man's responsibility. We must not confound the promise that "the elder should serve the younger" with the words of Malachi, where God's hatred of Esau was consequent on his profane ways. It is never said that Esau was hated before his birth; though it is true that Jacob was chosen, in sovereign counsel, before the two brothers appeared upon the scene.

The profane world, which has not been left without certain religious privileges, will be judged according to its conduct; Edom's ways were hateful to God, and at the very end of the prophetic word (in Malachi) we have this expression of the divine mind.

There are several stages in the discipline of Jacob. He had to learn that other people could tell lies as grossly as he, and that the only true standard was in Jehovah. Then he had to be delivered from the world and from every earthly object; he must be thoroughly broken, so that when at last, a lame man leaning on a staff, he could look forward to the future glory, he was fit to go there himself. The end of his life always seems to me like a bright and calm sunset after a day of thunder and lightning, showers and storm. His final prophecy gives us a tranquil and happy outlook into the future where all blessing is secured to the twelve tribes in the person of the dead and risen Christ. That he should be the vessel of such a revelation at the end of his course is a sure proof of the effect of God's discipline.

Let us very briefly review the life of Jacob and mark the stages of progress in the soul at each succeeding phase of discipline.

He started, when he fled from Esau's wrath in chapter 28, with a different purpose to that of his grandfather Abraham, who began and ended his course as a true pilgrim.

Jacob, though he feared God, was not prepared to take the true place of his calling, as a pilgrim and a stranger, and it is evident that he was not at his ease when he awoke after the vision of the ladder near Haran. (See ver. 17.) The place was rightly named Bethel, but how much must transpire before he should come to that point (Bethel) in a fit condition to walk with the God of Abraham!

How many in the present day resemble Jacob in this — that they are in the place of a call of God to which their state of heart does not answer! Their call is very different to that of Israel; it is far higher, it is heavenly — but I believe the analogy to be real, and you will find many "Jacobs" of this kind. You will constantly meet people whose whole life has been one of discipline before they really learned what their true calling was — that is, if they ever did learn it.

Indeed, Jacob's first prayer at Bethel was far from being creditable to one who was to inherit the blessing of Abraham. (See chap. 28:20-22.) We do not find in it any adequate expression as to God's mind; but Jehovah had other thoughts than of merely accepting Jacob's tithes! (Ver. 22.) He was to have far more glory out of him!

I pass over the whole story of Jacob and Laban. He had to learn during this long period of labour and trial that the God of Bethel (see chap. 31:13) was his only true friend, and alone able to help him against the crafty Syrian. It was something to hear Jacob confessing the name of the God of Abraham and the fear of Isaac (chap. 31:42), and then again at the end of the chapter "the fear* of his father Isaac" seems to have been uppermost in his mind. The sense of God's faithfulness and of His holy majesty were deepened in Jacob up to this point. He had increased exceedingly in cattle, servants, camels and asses (all of which disappear at the end), but I doubt if he had made much more progress than that of increased confidence in God and fear of Him.

{* It is a strong word, implying dread and reverence, see, for instance, Exodus 15:15.}

It will be said that this was something; and indeed it was — but he had much more to learn.

Chapter 32 contains a deeper lesson. The man had to be thoroughly broken, and the events here recorded tend to this. The dread of the meeting with Esau and his struggle with the Wrestler left him in a better state to learn more. He was lamed for life in receiving the name of Israel, and though he still needed to be corrected and judged, yet this was a turning-point in his history.

At Shalem, Jacob could dedicate his altar to El-Elohe-Israel, but he fell again into his old ways of acquiring wealth, and we may well be assured that Abraham never would have bought a field (unless for a patriarchal cemetery)! The trouble which came upon Jacob here was another blow; and now we come to several steps in the right direction.

God calls him to Bethel, and this arouses him; he begins to act consistently, he buries all the idols and profane jewellery of the household. I believe that if a similar thing were done in many a house where "high truth" is professed, there would be great blessing. Many a Christian's house needs to be cleared of false gods and bangles. God is with Jacob after this, and the terror which oppressed him in chapter 34:30 has vanished; it is God's terror that keeps in awe his enemies.

But the most terrible blow of all was yet to come. He comes up to Bethel and the name of Israel is confirmed to him — but he must lose Rachel! The one true love of his heart must go! It is to this that he touchingly alludes when he says: "There Rachel died by me." (Chap. 48:7.) It was the climax of God's ways with the man, the last great stroke that was to bereave him of the one he loved. Generally speaking, a man who has never loved in this way is not worth much; and when the fatal blow comes, it will either drive him to despair or else (through God's sanctifying grace) bring him down to calm dependence upon Him who alone can satisfy the soul.

Many a one who reads these lines will say that they have had a deeper knowledge of our blessed Lord ever since that day when their first and last love was taken from them.

And so it was with Jacob! The rest of his life was the life of Israel. In the history of Joseph and Benjamin, in the appearing before Pharaoh, in the last prophecy,* we have to do with a man of God.

{* I purposely reserve chapter 49 for another occasion. It requires a careful examination. If the Lord allows, it shall either follow directly upon the present paper, or after "Joseph."}

In the blessing of Ephraim and Manasseh, we see an intelligent saint guided by the Spirit of God.

Nothing could be more wonderful than the calm dignity with which the patriarch speaks to the great king of Egypt, and blesses him in conscious superiority. It is a superiority that is divinely given, there is no pretension or pride.

The love of wealth had gone he "adored leaning upon the top of his staff." The emblem of a true pilgrim was found in his hand at last, when, freed from all worldly hopes and having lost all earthly desires, he could declare plainly that he sought the heavenly country.

And not only so, but his last testimony rings out clearly with the knowledge of Him who was not ashamed to be called the God of the patriarchs. The glories of Christ shine in Israel's last recorded speech, and the power of the Mighty One of Jacob makes itself felt — "from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel."

No Egyptian tomb for Israel! He sleeps with the pilgrim fathers in the tomb of Machpelah, awaiting the full accomplishment of the counsels of the God of glory!

Genesis 37 — 48.


Let us leave the last prophecy of Jacob till the end and look at the fourth great patriarch, Joseph.

I would wish especially to look at Joseph as the one who was delivered from prison and death and exalted; the type of Christ in His sufferings and universal sway. It may be useful to notice the ways of God in disconcerting opposition and awakening interest, in order to bring forward the man of His counsels.

What varied characters rise up before us; the unscrupulous sons of Israel who sold their brother, Potiphar's naughty wife, the forgetful butler, the pensive king — these people all appear and have their part in the story and unwittingly accomplish Jehovah's will!

A careful study of what is said of Joseph in Psalm 105 and in Acts 7 will repay the reader.

In the beginning of the history (in chap. 37), it is easy to discern the figure of our Lord's position in the midst of Israel, and the wickedness of the Jews in putting Him to death.

Joseph was his father's favourite, and at the same time the depositary of divine counsels, for his dreams (so little approved by his brethren) had revealed to him God's intentions.

The whole account of his descent into the pit and of his imprisonment may be taken as an illustration of the sufferings of Jesus; but we must notice that our blessed Lord did truly go down into death — He tasted death for everything.

The whole picture of the fortieth chapter is full of interest, and takes us to the banks of the Nile. The great king stood by the river, and we seem to behold the seven well-favoured and the seven wretched kine rise out of the ancient river (that parent of prodigies), and the devouring of the former by the latter. The seven full ears of corn, and the other seven, blasted and sere, that came and ate them up.

The discreet man who should govern Egypt throughout the famine was found in the person of him who could explain the dream; and we have at once a type of our Lord Jesus, as the One who was raised from the dead, that He might take His place at the head of the universe, to be even now over the house of God. The time is fast approaching when we shall see all the glories of our Saviour, when He shall take His great power and reign.

It is a very happy thing when the type is followed out, so that the peculiar blessings which flow from our Lord's exaltation are known. Every knee must bow before Him, as before Joseph the cry was heard: "Bow the knee!" It is for us to know the present value of the name that is above every name, and (as Asenath the bride*) to enter into our present relation with the glorified Jesus, before the day shall come for His manifestation to Israel.

{* It was not without some interest that I once looked on the ancient obelisk at Mataria (the site of Heliopolis, or On of Genesis 41). This ancient relic must have been standing when Joseph went to the city to claim his bride.}

Let it not suffice us to know of our Lord's exaltation as a positive and historical fact, but let us really bow to Him in everything! How simple, yet how blessed for us in the sense of His power and glory, though we see not yet all things put under Him. Faith acts in quiet certitude, and delights to know that everything is in the hands of the true Joseph. Great as will be our delight in that day when He shall be publicly manifested, let us not put off till then the enjoyment of the power of His glory. Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed! Blessed are they who can look up to the highest heaven and see Jesus crowned with glory and honour, and in the midst of an unjust world, where each day brings forth fresh trouble, rest in the security of His exaltation, learning, too, daily to do the things that please Him.

Let us think of Asenath and of her position. May we know, by the Holy Ghost, the Father's love in all its present reality! If this be going away from what is strictly our subject, it is none the less important. Let us keep near to Joseph whilst the famine lasts; that is, to our blessed and exalted Lord — though great may be the dearth around us!

But we must go on to the latter part of the history to learn God's ways with His earthly people at the end.

The twelve tribes must be brought, through great exercise, to repentance; and the final blessing must come upon them from the riches of the glory of the heavenly Christ. He will not only bring all nations under divine authority, but He will lead Israel into the full enjoyment of their portion under Jehovah — and before this can be accomplished, they must go through the deep trial and exercise of heart that leads to repentance.

It is very interesting to trace God's ways in the conduct of Joseph towards his brethren. Judah and Benjamin are the two who find themselves in the deepest trouble; and Benjamin, before the trial of the cup in the sack, had the greatest portion allotted to him.*

{* I suppose that there can be no doubt that Benjamin represents strength upon earth in Israel; this will be more apparent, perhaps, in reading Jacob's last prophecy.}

Judah and Benjamin go through an hour of searching trouble, and this evidently prefigures the fierce trial of the Jewish remnant (for those whom we call Jews now are of Judah and Benjamin) that will precede the final restoration of the twelve tribes.

When Judah repents, that is, when he begins seriously to feel the crime committed against Joseph, Benjamin being too in danger, it is a picture of what will happen in the last days. The prophet Zechariah throws much light upon Judah's ultimate repentance; and I suppose that no one could read Genesis 44:28 without feeling that the narrator of Jacob's words felt his own guilt. Compare the preceding exercise in chapter 42:21.

It is when Judah and Benjamin are thus put to the proof that Joseph makes himself known to his brethren, and declares to them the riches of his position as head of the Gentiles. So shall the glorious Messiah, in the last days, make Himself known to the whole earthly people of God, when the Jewish remnant shall have passed through the peculiar and terrible trial that is in store for them. All Israel shall be saved.

Thus Joseph is a full and perfect figure of the exalted Man through whom all God's counsels shall be accomplished; and it is important for us to notice the grace that is displayed in this beautiful and extraordinary type. Grace is manifested to the sons of Jacob, who so little deserved it; and if we (Christians) have a higher place as forming that favoured and heavenly company that shares the honours of the true Joseph, we have all the more opportunity of knowing the heart of Christ. If Asenath represents our place and relation with Jesus glorified, let us not be slow to learn the peculiar treasure of His love!

All future blessing to the twelve tribes is on the ground of pure grace, for all had been lost through the rejection of Christ; it has been aptly remarked that when God appeared to Israel on His way to Egypt (chap. 46), He spoke as the God of his father without speaking of the (forfeited) promises made to Abraham.

The one whose feet had been made fast in the stocks, and who had felt the iron of the dungeon, is the revealer of God's ways, the governor of the world, the gracious restorer of his brethren. One is never tired of reading the story of Joseph.

May we know more and more of the present grace and power of the glory of Him who is exalted at the right hand of the Majesty on high! May His interests be ours, and His love fully known!

However great might be the glory of the great administrator of Egypt, his heart did not forget the people of God, nor was he unmindful of the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. His very bones should not rest in any Memphitic mausoleum, but should be carried to Shechem.

So the glorious Christ. Whatever may be the extent and splendour of His universal sway, He will not forget Israel and the holy land, and the portion of the earthly people will be abundantly made good out of the endless riches of His heavenly glory.

Genesis 49.

Jacob's Last Prophecy

I have left Jacob's last words to his sons till the end, so as to conclude with a comprehensive view of God's counsels and ways in Christ, with Israel and the nations, in the past, present and future.

It is a complete historical prophecy in which we see, as in a mirror, God's account of men illustrated in the twelve tribes; the great lesson in it being the setting aside of the responsible man (the first man), and bringing in Christ. All true blessing, whether heavenly or earthly, must come through the second Man; and if the final blessing of the earth be here in view, it is none the less important to see that all must come through Christ, after the utter failure of the responsible first-born sons of Israel.

Jacob gathers together the twelve sons, with the purpose of announcing what shall happen to them in the last days; he speaks as "Israel their father" that is, as a man of God in the true form of a prophet.

Reuben's fall is conspicuous, and then Simeon and Levi follow. In the first case, it is corruption; in the second, violence. These are always the two chief forms of evil. In these three men, we have a picture of the ruin of those who were in a responsible place, as being God's chosen people on earth. It represents the moral downfall of the twelve tribes, in spite of their privileges.

Lust, cruelty and self-will! What a terrible portrait of man in his natural state! Yet this is his true character; and their digging down walls with violence, their wrath and anger, led to their scattering. (Vers. 6, 7.)

Have we well understood that, in whatever way the first man (that is, man in his natural state) is tried, in whatever circumstances he is placed, he will surely come to ruin, and bring everything to ruin? This is the great lesson to be learnt from the case of Reuben, Simeon and Levi; the house of Jacob was thoroughly compromised by their scandalous behaviour.

But in verse 8 we have God's purpose. Judah was brought forward, when all Israel was in a state of ruin; and God's king was anointed when all was lost. (Read carefully Ps. 78:67-70.) Judah is the Royal tribe according to God's thoughts, and our Lord Himself is represented as the Lion of the tribe of Judah.

Shiloh should come, and unto Him should the gathering of the peoples* be.

{* Note that it is peoples (ammim), not merely people. It is not goi'm (that is, the nations considered merely as heathens), but as being blessed under and with Israel.}

Historically we may see, so far, the accomplishment of God's purpose in the appearing of the true king of the house of David, at our Lord's first coming. But vengeance should be taken upon His enemies before the kingdom could be set up, His clothes must be washed in the blood of grapes. (Compare Matt. 21:1-9 with Isa. 63 and the vers. 10, 11, 12 of our chapter; in the first case the King of the house of David was recognised for one moment in Jerusalem.)

But our Lord must go away and leave the house desolate until the time should come for Him to appear again in power to destroy His enemies.

And in the meantime, have we not a true picture of Israel whilst they are driven out of their country and scattered in verses 13, 14?

Zebulun and Issachar represent the Israelites in their commercial attitude towards the Gentiles, as we know them at the present time. The shoulder is bowed to bear, there is the service to tribute. (We must admit that the Jews have paid more taxes than any other nation.) It is the long history of the settling down of this extraordinary nation in the Gentile countries, during which time they contrive to collect most of the capital that the world can give.

A strong ass, couching down between two well-filled sacks!

And what does this commercial success lead to? Nothing good! Apostasy! Dan, the idolatrous tribe, represents the apostate Israel in the latter day. Dan is like a viper that bites the horse's pastern behind, diabolical treason against the Most High.

This brings us at once into the last days, and to make this fact more striking, we have at this point of the prophecy the well-known cry of faith — in the remnant of Israel. "I have waited for thy salvation, O Jehovah! "

Any diligent reader of the psalms and prophets will recognise at once the expression of the faith of those who cry constantly: "How long, O Lord?" They know that there will be an end to the trial, and that God has not forgotten them, long as the trial may appear. They wait for His salvation; they persevere to the end, so as to be saved.

And now comes quite a different series of names, with a glorious ending to the history that had begun so badly.

Verse 19. "Gad, a troop shall overcome him; but he shall overcome at the last."

Is not this, in sum, the history of Israel, and indeed of man?

The troop overcame the people; they were ridden down by the enemy, they have been trampled upon for a long time — but now the deliverance is to come.

Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Joseph and Benjamin! These names are associated with the breaking of chains and the bringing in of liberating power.

The Shepherd, the Stone of Israel, makes good His triumph for the glory and welfare of His own.

Asher and Naphtali represent plenty and power brought in by. Christ; for Joseph represents Christ in resurrection, as Benjamin in the victory over all enemies.

Joseph is the heir, the fruitful bough. The archers had wounded him, he bears the marks of their arrows; but his own bow and arms have been made strong by the Mighty One* of Jacob.

{* Please to remark this title of verse 24. It is Avir. It is a good thing to study the energy of God's might as exemplified in Joseph, the great type of the risen Christ.}

The blessings of Joseph are included in the wide sweep of the circle of God's inheritance — "the utmost bound of the everlasting hills." Joseph, once separated from his brethren, comes out crowned with all favours and honours. A bright day for Israel when the true Joseph shall reign; a happy day for Asenath, Joseph's bride. O day beyond all thought when all the diadems on the head of Christ shall shine over the nations!

Benjamin concludes this wonderful passage. The power and authority of Him who shall reign in righteousness are to be seen in Benjamin — and here the magnificent prophecy closes. It is complete.

Now, my reader, we have come to the end of these brief notes on Genesis. We have been together, as in a garden, where God's ways with men are wonderfully arranged before our view. The fall, the deluge, the happy simplicity of communion in the patriarchs, the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah; Babel, and dispersion, and wilful man showing himself ever more independent of God — these things have been before us.

Have you lingered for a moment at the terebinth grove near Mamre, where Abraham spoke with the august strangers, of whom One was more than august? Did you see the vision on the banks of the Nile, and listen to the words of the interpreter just brought from prison? Did his subsequent glory fill you with admiration? Did you trace the hand of Him who is discerned by faith as being most surely present "when he is most invisible," and who carries on His plan of overcoming evil with good through all the varied phases of the earth's history — the antediluvian world, Babel, Sodom, Egypt?

If so, I am more than satisfied. It is not without regret that I now close these most imperfect notes, and the (imaginary) communing with every one who shall read them. May the God of grace and of glory give us to understand His thoughts in His Christ through all that we have studied in this wonderful book!