Hidden in the House of God.

2 Chronicles 22-23.

There are many beautiful pictures in the Old Testament which the Holy Spirit has left on record, that in them we might see the Lord Jesus Christ. On rising from the dead, the Lord Jesus spake to the two disciples going to Emmaus of His sufferings and glory, as it says, "Beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself." Later, "He said unto them. These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms concerning me." To understand these prophecies, types, and shadows, we need divine understanding, but the Lord, in His rich grace affords this, even as of old, "Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures." Here then is one of such Scriptures, giving a beautiful type of the Lord Jesus Christ as taken from death, hidden in heaven from the eyes of men, and soon to be displayed in royal glory.

The picture opens with the manifestation of the hatred, malice and power of the enemy. Athaliah, the daughter of Omri, and probably the daughter of the wicked Jezebel, had come by marriage into association with the royal line of David, and sought to usurp the throne by destroying the royal seed; but in God's providential care, and for the fulfilment of His purpose and promise, the young child is preserved and hidden in the house of God. Was it not on this wise that the Lord Jesus Christ, while still a babe, was protected from the ruthless sword of Herod, the usurper who sat upon the throne of David? What mattered it to Athaliah or Herod if many innocents were slain, so long as the seed royal was destroyed, and the glory of the kingdom was theirs. But a more powerful enemy was behind both the wicked Athaliah and corrupt Herod, who sought to set aside the will and counsel of God which centred in Christ, the true seed royal. And is it not wonderful that God does not intervene in His great power to protect the seed royal, but rather, in His wisdom, acts secretly for His preservation. The time for the display of His great power surely comes, but God can wait in patience, working in secret, while making known to His saints His counsels, in which are found divine wisdom and prudence (Eph. 1:8).

But the seed royal is taken from the place of death and is hid in the house of God. Does not this very simply and clearly typify what happened to the Lord Jesus Christ? The words are, "Jehoshabeath — took Joash and stole him from among the king's sons that were slain.'' When the Lord Jesus Christ was delivered from Herod, it was by night that Joseph departed to Egypt with the young child; and when the Lord Jesus was raised from the dead, it was not in a public display of power before the world. There was indeed the rending of the veil, the earthquake, the rending of the rocks, the opening of the graves, the arising of the bodies of many saints, the rolling away the stone, and the appearing of the angels; but so far as the Lord was concerned, He was not seen in resurrection by the world. And during the time the usurper reigns, the seed royal is safe, and hidden in the house of the Lord. What a great triumph God has secured in Christ! The enemy thought he was rid of God's Son, when he put him on the cross; but God raised Him from the dead, and set Him down in His presence, at His right hand, and has crowned Him with glory and honour. He is in the place where Herod could not see Him, no nor all those who conspired against Him to put Him to death; He is in the Father's house, of which He said to the Jews, "Where I am ye cannot come."

There were however those favoured few who knew that the king's son was hidden in the house of God: even as the Lord said to the disciples, "The world seeth me no more; but ye see me." And in a little, others were brought into the secret, and the mighty men; and they in turn went throughout Judah, gathering the Levites and the chief of the fathers, and they came to God's earthly centre, Jerusalem. Do we not find in the Acts the disciples going everywhere with the testimony, that Christ Who was crucified, is risen and seated in heaven? Since those days, the word has come even to us; the testimony of a risen and glorified Christ at God's right hand in heaven. The result of that testimony concerning the king's son was, that those who were faithful to the Lord, gathered around the king at the divine centre. Has not the Gospel come to us that we might be in the enjoyment and power of the secret that Christ is risen from among the dead, and is hidden in the Father's house? We may well challenge our hearts as to how we have been affected by this blessed testimony. Alas! so many dear saints know that Jesus has died for their sins, and that He is risen from the dead; but how few seem to enter into the blessed realisation that God has given Him to he the object of our heart's affections, where He lives in heaven. We are partakers of a heavenly calling, and our minds are to be set on the things that are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. Has the testimony of the risen and glorified Christ attracted us to God's heavenly centre? Have we entered into the meaning of such a verse as "And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenlies, in Christ Jesus?" Our associations with the risen Christ are not in this world, but on the risen side of death: yea, in the heavenlies, where Christ is hidden from the eyes of men.

Jehoiada tells the congregation that the king is going to reign, and the people make a covenant with the king in the house of God. The priest is in the secret of God, and this secret is made known to those who fear God. If Christ is hidden at the present time, we certainly know that God will give Him the throne of His father David; indeed, all the kingdoms of the world shall be His. But the waiting time is to be occupied in the service of Him Who is hidden in the House of God. The faithful were divided into three companies; one-third, of priests and Levites, were to be keepers of the doors; another third were to be at the king's house; and the remaining third were to be at the gate of the foundation. How very favoured were those who thus served the king! And are we not very highly favoured in being called to the service of the Hidden One? We not only know the high and holy privilege of being associated with Him, where He is in the heavenlies but we know the joy of His presence, exceedingly real and precious, though spiritual, when we gather to His Name. Keeping the doors, in a priestly and Levitical way might suggest that nothing inconsistent with the presence and character of the king is to be allowed, when we surround Him. Only the priests and the Levites doing the service. were to he allowed into the house of the Lord. Although engaged in keeping the doors, the priests and Levites had also their proper service in the worship and service of the Lord. All evil was to be excluded: but we are not to be so occupied with the exclusion of evil as to forget the normal function of the priests and the Levites. So that, the first third functioned for the maintenance of what was due to God in His house, while the king was there.

The second company were at the kings house. What a privilege to be where the king dwells! Does not this remind us of John 1, where the disciples asked Jesus, "Master, where dwellest thou?" These came and saw where Jesus dwelt, and they dwelt with him. Blessed privilege! So too it is ours, to come into His presence, and know what it is to he in the joy of His company. Like the disciples in John 13, who had their feet washed, to have "part with me." Here is surely the thought of nearness to the king: the place of true favour, where he is known as he truly is. And nothing less than this will satisfy the heart that has been attracted to Christ: and this is what the blessed Son of God desires we should enjoy even now. O that we knew Christ better in His own home circle; where the lovely traits and the deep affections of the Hidden One are known! The type comes very short of the reality, for nothing can exceed the place of favour, the nearness, the closeness of the relationship, the joys, the affections, and the blessedness of all that God has given to us in association with the Son of His love.

At the gate of the foundation, the last company had their station. If the enemy had been allowed into the foundations, what mischief he would have wrought. Has not this a voice for us in these days? Not only is there to be the exclusion of evil from the Lord's presence that the worship and service might go on unhindered, and the entering into the privileges, spiritual and heavenly, that God has marked us out for; but we are to be watchful of the foundations, so that nothing is allowed either doctrinally or morally that will weaken or assail what has been laid in the hearts of the saints, the truth of God. Is it not failure on this line that has brought in all the weakness and the ruin of the present day in the house of God? Yet no amount of failure relieves us of the solemn responsibility of keeping guard on the gate of the foundation.

All the people had their part in the court of the house of Jehovah; they were to keep the watch of Jehovah. If there are the special privileges, noticed in the three companies, there is that which belongs to us outside, that is in relation to what is not immediately connected with the presence of the Lord. We have our privileges inside and our privileges and responsibilities outside. What word can best tell of what should mark the saints of God in all their ways? Surely the word "Watch!" The Lord Himself enjoined the disciples to watch, in view of His returning. Paul warned the elders of Ephesus of the evil that was coining, and counseled them to watch. Thus also does he speak to the saints at Corinth, Colosse and Thessalonica; and the angel of the church of Sardis is exhorted to watch and is warned of the consequences of failure in watching. A life of watchfulness becomes us, for we are in the presence of foes, who not only seek our harm, but the dishonour of Him Who is hidden in the house of God. The king is soon to be manifested in His glory, and the knowledge of this, kept ever in the mind, would help us to maintain a spirit and attitude of watchfulness, in a scene where we are never out of danger.

There was however another special service to perform, and this belonged to the Levites. They were to encompass the king round about, every man with his weapons in his hand; and they were to be with the king at his coining in and going out. How varied were the services of the Levites. They served the priests in the house, they were porters in the house, they played the musical instruments and engaged in the service of song; now they carry the weapons of war as attached to the person of the king. And are we not called to put on the whole armour of God, as strong in the Lord and in the power of His might? Truly we are in conflict all the days that our Master is hidden in God's house! But the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but spiritual; and our foes are the devil and the great array of spiritual powers of darkness, for which we are no match in our own strength, but for which God has suitably armed us with His panoply. King David's spears and shields and targets, which were in the house of the Lord, were the weapons wielded by those who surrounded the king. So too, if we draw our weapons from the place where the Lord Jesus is, we shall he suitably armed for the conflict to which He has called us.

It is very refreshing to note the obedience of the company which gathered around the king. This is the way to divine blessing, and what the Lord Jesus desired of His own. "If ye love me, keep my commandments." The devotion of that trusted band was verily shown in simple obedience to the commandments of Jehoiada. Look at what the Lord says in John 14:21-24, and John 15:10-14, 17. How much depends on our simply obeying His commandments and word. What must it be to the heart of the Lord to have a company which values His word and seeks to obey it. His commendation of the church of Philadelphia is. "Thou hast kept my word… No doubt the Lord will have a faithful remnant in the coming day, just before He returns, in whose hearts He will work, and who, in obedience to His word, will prepare for His coming out from the house of God, from the Father's house, to take up His kingdom and throne, so that He might bring blessing to His poor earthly people, Israel. And so, in view of the king's coming out, each man has his right place in the house, facing the altar: surely the recognition that the king comes out in virtue of all wrought there. He, Who before entering into the presence of God, completed the great work of redemption. "Shall appear to those that look for Him the second time without sin for salvation" (Heb. 9:28). Coming forth as the Anointed One, His garments fragrant with myrrh, aloes, and cassia (which speak of His personal graces), the crown of glory rests upon His brow, and the testimony of God is in His hand. When Christ has His rightful place, all God's thoughts for the blessing of Israel, and indeed of the world, will be given effect to by Christ. "Long live the king!" will have its true answer in that day, for the prophecy of Isaiah 9 will be fulfilled, "Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever."

What a day of confusion will that be for the enemies of the king! The wicked Athaliah hears the people running and praising the king; and what a sight meets her gaze; the one whom she thought she had destroyed and dispossessed is exalted on his dais, acclaimed and praised by the princes and the people. But evil must be dealt with before peace and quiet can remain with God's people; the usurper must be brought low, and all associated with the evil one must bite the dust. Therefore was the wicked Athaliah slain, who had sought to set aside the counsel and promise of God in the destruction of the seed royal and the king's son, who had been hid in the house of God. So shall it be in the day of Christ's coming. The false king, the antichrist, will meet his doom, as prophetically recorded in 2 Thess. 2:8, "Whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming."

Following the destruction of the evil one, Jehoiada makes a covenant between himself and all the people and the king, that they should be the people of Jehovah. When the Lord Jesus comes out He shall be both priest and king, the offices of Jehoiada and Joash are both His, even as Zechariah 6 shows, "He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne; and shall be a priest upon His throne; and the counsel of peace shall be between them both." A new covenant is going to be made with Israel when the king comes out, and one of its terms is "They shall be my people." All connected with idolatry will be for ever set aside and removed; Ephraim shall say, "What have I to do any more with idols." After all belonging to Baal was removed, Jehoiada sets everything in order for the worship of Jehovah, "According to the directions of David." So shall it be at the coming of Christ; God's original thoughts, set aside by man, will be expressed perfectly. The scene closes beautifully with the captains, nobles, governors, and all the people setting the king "Upon the throne of His kingdom;" — Christ has His rightful place from all; "And all the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was quiet; and they had slain Athaliah with the sword."

While we look with joyful expectation for the day when the Lord Jesus shall have His rights on earth, how blessed it is to know Him as the Risen One, hid in the Father's house; knowing too that we are associated with Him where He is gone.
Wm. C. Reid.