Truth & Testimony Vol. 1 No. 4, 1991.


The Life of Jesus

From Our Archive — The Morning Star

The Old in the New Explained

Jacob's Last Words, continued

Confederacy or Independency

News from the Field


Quotations from Scripture are generally taken either from the King James translation or Mr. J. N. Darby's translation. Quotations taken from any other translation will be indicated in the course of the article, or in a footnote to the article.

The article that follows was submitted by a brother, now in his 99th year, who resides in a Christian old peoples' home in Ipswich. It has a warmth and charm which the editors are sure Truth and Testimony's readers will appreciate.

The Life of Jesus

It is a very happy thing to speak about the Lord Jesus. To speak about others is sad history — but a black background to the coming in of Jesus. For He is another kind of Man altogether. God had looked to see if there was anyone that responded to Himself. The Epistle to the Romans shows that every member of man's body was used in self-will in defiance of God in the practice of sin. Look at the summary of chapter three: his eyes, his tongue, his throat, his feet — all summed up as a person of wickedness. Now into the scene comes another Man for whom God has waited. Think of who He was that came! What care was divinely exercised that He should have a body suited to the glory of the Person who was to occupy it. See Luke 1:35; the amazing mystery! He was born in an outcast position in the poorest of circumstances. Jesus, of whom it is said that He is "God blessed for ever", was born in a stable! Just a part of an inn that was used for animals, and He was born there, touching creation humanly at its lowest level. His mother wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger. Oh strange, yet

befitting, beginning to all that life of woe!

Strange, yet befitting. Think of heaven's pleasure. We do not read much of heaven's pleasure when other children were born, but it was declared then. The heavens resound with praise at the birth of One who was to be the pleasure of God. Oh what a Babe! How different from any other babe! We have very little said in New Testament testimony about the childhood and secret life of Jesus. This is remarkable, brethren. Yet in Psalm 22, which Jesus quoted when forsaken on the cross, it also speaks of the way He had depended upon God. It says in verses nine and ten, "Thou art He that took Me out of the womb; Thou didst make Me trust, upon My mother's breasts. I was cast upon Thee from the womb; Thou art My God from My mother's belly". Think of that. Passing in retrospect in the holy mind of Jesus, as He is about to lay down His holy life, He goes back to its beginning here when He was a babe upon His mother's breasts. He trusted in God. There was never another babe like that. We shrink from saying much about this profound

mystery. It is so holy. In the tiny conditions of infancy, He was cast upon God. What pleasure for God that must have evoked. Babies are not very old when they begin to show signs of self-will. A temper will display itself in the tiniest child. Never did it show itself in the Lord Jesus. "I was cast upon Thee". This marked Him throughout His secret and public life.

Then in Isaiah 53, we are given a little touch of the life of Jesus. He was the Arm of the Lord. How choice it is to our hearts when the Arm of the Lord comes on our views. "He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: He hath no form nor comeliness" when we see Him. These are expressions which refer to Jesus in His youth. Think of Jesus growing up as a tender sapling. The young people will have seen in the parks and gardens how men plant the tree saplings. They do not just put them in the ground and leave them in the wind; the storm will crush them. They give them a standard for support. That is how the Lord Jesus was here. In every moment of the day, every night, He would say, "Preserve Me, O God: for in Thee do I put My trust". Psalm 16:1. Think of Him saying that. We do not often talk like that. We make up our minds what we are going to do, and often turning to God is very remote even with the most pious of us; but not with the Lord Jesus, a tender sapling.

Defenceless, yet dependent and preserved as He trusted in His God. Has the meaning of 2 Corinthians 8:9 sunk into our hearts? Paul is speaking about the collection. He says "Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor". Think of the poverty of Galilee. What a rebuke to the sumptuous indulgence and self satisfaction of those at Corinth, and to those living in the present time! The Lord Jesus lived in poverty. The poverty of Galilee, as it was then, would have had to be seen to be believed. Jesus was born into it and lived in it to the pleasure of God. Hundreds of years before this, when King Solomon lived in his greatness, he built a house with the help of supplies from King Hiram of Tyre. He gave Hiram a reward for supplying the timber. He gave him twenty cities in the region of Galilee. We are told in 1 Kings 9:10-14 that Hiram came to look at them. He called them the land of Cabul, which means "as of nothing" or worthless. That is what he thought about Galilee. He did not mind being associated with Solomon in the splendour of his house and external glory, but he considered the reproach of Galilee as being worthless. Into these conditions came the Lord Jesus. He was brought up in Nazareth in poverty. Think of God looking down on those wretched dwellings, with the hand to mouth existence, the disease, the need and suffering of men under the rule of Herod, and seeing One Lovely Man there. Was there any chafing resentment in the heart of Jesus because of the conditions? No, not any. It is said in Psalm 16:6, "The lines are fallen unto Me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage". "I have set the LORD always before Me" verse 8. Think of the Lord Jesus

saying that in conditions where outwardly there was hardly a vestige remaining to show that it was the heritage of the people of God. Yet God had that in Jesus which the inheritance had never yielded to Him before.

Precious, holy life lived in secret; lived here among men for the pleasure of God!

Thomas Gray.

Our dear brother was called Home to be with his Lord on August 6 while this issue

of the magazine was in preparation.

From Our Archive

"The Morning Star"


(first published in Dublin in 1912)

Paradise was not long enjoyed by our first parents. Through listening to the suggestion of Satan, they disobeyed the solitary commandment which had been given to test their dependence upon God in the scene where everything was prepared for their happiness, and where communion with their Creator would have been their supreme joy. All the other creatures, being by their nature incapable of this blessing, had been made subject to Adam, according to God's first purpose, and God brought them to him to give them names (Genesis 1:26-28; Genesis 2:19-20). That dominion remained to him after his fall; but Paradise, where it had been for an instant enjoyed with God, was lost to him for ever,  -  lost through his disobedience. Into the details of God's subsequent ways with Adam we cannot enter, our present object being to draw attention to the fact that in judging the "serpent", God intimated that his final destruction would be wrought by the woman's SEED. She had been, in the first instance, seduced by Satan; and through her, the Deliverer was to come. Besides that, He was to be characterised by the obedience in which both she and Adam had failed.

Such is the real meaning of the words in Psalm 40:6, "Mine ears hast Thou opened".* The true sense of this figure in its moral bearing is given by the Greek version, quoted in Hebrews 10:5, "A body hast Thou prepared Me". The blessed Lord took His human body, "made of a woman, made under the law" (Galatians 4:4), in order that obedience might become possible for One who not only had made all things, but sustained and upheld them all "by the word of His power" (Hebrews 1:3). Before taking human form, He had never been in a position to obey; but having taken it, His delight was to carry out to the uttermost the Father's will who had sent Him, as it is indeed expressed in the words of the Psalm, "Lo, I COME: in the volume of the book it is written of Me, I delight to do Thy will, O My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart" (see John 6:38; John 8:29). Ever subject, He learned "obedience by the things which He suffered" (Hebrews 5:8; Isaiah 50:4-7).

{*The word "opened" as stated in the margin of some Bibles means literally "digged" or "hollowed out"; an allusion no doubt to the way in which a potter finishes off his work, by digging out of the clay the "ears" (or handles) which are needed to complete the circular part of the base made upon the wheel. The hearing "ear" signifies obedience (Proverbs 4:1-4, 20; Proverbs 20:12).}

His supreme act of obedience was His death, when He took upon Himself the penalty attached to Adam's disobedience, and its consequences: "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous" (Romans 5:19). Those words never could be true of any of Adam's seed according to the flesh. And here let us note how both the divine and human nature of our blessed Lord is clearly established in a way that reaches the heart and conscience of all who can say, He "loved me, and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20). It will be our joy in eternity.

It is therefore not surprising that the coming of Christ, as expressed in those words, "Lo, I come", is one of the most prominent truths on the pages of the Old Testament. We find it both in direct and positive statements, and also in figures and in types which proclaim unequivocally not only His personal coming, but also His death and resurrection; for "without shedding of blood is no remission" (Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:22).

As time went on, the unfolding of these blessed truths became more complete in details, as in Isaiah 53 and the end of Daniel 9; but for various reasons, they remained more or less obscure. They were difficult to reconcile with other passages which spoke of His kingdom, power, and glory. The Lord Himself began to unfold them to His astonished disciples from the moment of His undertaking the last journey from Galilee to Jerusalem. He reminded them again of His death, at the last supper, on the night in which He was betrayed; and, again, after His resurrection, He showed how the scriptures set it forth (Luke 24:6, 25-47).

It is remarkable that, in the gospel history, not one of the disciples asked Jesus an explanation as to how sins could be righteously forgiven, nor as to the reason for His dying. The scribes and Pharisees reasoned in their hearts when they heard Him say, "thy sins be forgiven thee"; but, not believing in His Deity, they treated it as "blasphemy" (Mark 2:5-12; Luke 7:49). No doubt they all believed, from Old Testament scriptures, that there was such a thing as forgiveness of sins. It had been first proclaimed on Mount Sinai, in the very spot from whence the Ten Commandments had been promulgated. It was given in answer to Moses' intercession after the first commandment of all had been violated in a way which trampled under foot God's goodness as well as His power, and also after Moses had broken the tables divinely made and graven; for he was overcome when he saw the extent to which the Israelites had debased themselves in presence of the golden calf. But Moses interceded, and God answered him; such was His grace then; and the moment was well suited for establishing the basis of future access into God's presence afterwards, figured by the blood sprinkled on and before the mercy-seat (Leviticus 16). Thenceforward, the faithful could say with the Psalmist, "There is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared" (Psalm 130:4). Forgiveness was an established fact, though as yet unaccounted for, and the blessedness of one forgiven could be celebrated, as by David in Psalm 32. But what the needed sacrifice was, or when it was to be offered, had not as yet been clearly understood. Even John the Baptist did not know it, though by the Spirit he had pointed out "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). Only the Lord Himself could reveal it, and He only did so when the appointed moment had arrived to carry out God's will.

Many other features of the coming of Christ are set forth in the Old Testament. And these required time for making them known generally. He is the Prophet, Priest, and King. Personally, we find these typically in Abraham, Moses, and David; and the gospels of Mark, Luke, and Matthew correspond thereto respectively. Moreover, in Abraham, we find most particularly the fundamental principle of justification on the principle of faith. It is set forth in Romans 4. Not only so, but the portion of those justified through faith is shown to be heavenly, by the words which directed Abraham's attention to the stars, saying, "So shall thy seed be". How, where, or in what circumstances his seed was to be like the stars of heaven was not then stated, * nevertheless there was, in the words used, a present divine purpose for the blessing of Abraham's own soul, as is shown in Hebrews 11:14-16). This is why the saints of the present economy of grace are called "partakers of the heavenly calling". The gospel cannot be-properly preached now without insisting on the Saviour's present place in heaven (Acts 3:21), which, in His person, set forth God's purpose of having many sons in glory. There it is that Jesus can say in the fullest sense, according to His own heart's desire, "Behold I and the children which God hath given Me". (Hebrews 2:5-15; 3:1; John 17:24).

{*God gave a further intimation of its meaning to Daniel (Dan. 12:3). Compare with Genesis 15:6. Righteousness was Abraham's portion from God as soon as he believed, but it was reserved for others to turn "many" to it, so that the heavenly "seed" might be manifested, as well as their consequent "shining" for the glory of God.}

All the scriptures which speak of Christ's power over this earth, when the judgment — over and over again predicted — must be carried out by Him, will also surely have their fulfilment. But even then, the judgment will not be unmixed with grace; for He is Priest as well as King, "and He shall be a Priest upon His throne", when He shall "bear the glory" (Zechariah 6:13; Psalm 72).

This supposes His coming again to this earth. He insisted particularly on His return, in speaking to His disciples before He left them, and it was definitely promised by angelic instrumentality when He went up from their midst on the Mount of Olives (John 16:16-22; Acts 1:11).

It is well to bear in mind, in reading the Old Testament, that its primary intention was to reach the consciences of those to whom it was first delivered, so that they might walk with God by faith in His written Word, and not by their own estimate of passing events.

At the same time, prophetic announcements were, as Peter says, not "of any private interpretation"; that is, they were by no means confined to instruction adapted to the particular circumstances which gave rise to them. "Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost", and had, by diligent inquiry, to learn that the Spirit was testifying to Christ, and consequently to future events which reached far beyond anything that their actual knowledge of God's plans and purposes could enable them to grasp (1 Peter 1:9-12; 2 Peter 1:20-21). Daniel himself "fainted, and was sick certain days", and had to record that "none understood" the vision that was shown to him (Daniel 7:28; Daniel 8:27).

All predictions of that which was to take place were necessarily partial, though sufficient to accomplish their object; not by flattering the intelligence, but appealing to the conscience of those who heard them. We have the advantage of beginning at the point to which the Old Testament saints looked forward, namely, the sufferings of Christ, which were needed to accomplish redemption. They could celebrate the blessedness of forgiveness as the only possible ground of walking happily with God, but none of them could point to the finished work of the Redeemer as their own start in a new life, to which they could look back. Whereas we, having the cross before our souls, can now enjoy to the full the divinely-given expressions of the blessedness that flows from it (Psalm 32:1-2; Psalm 130:3-6; Romans 4:3-8).

Faith is now, as it ever was, the only principle for a walk that is pleasing to God, such as Enoch's. And faith is formed and nourished by revealed truth. The principle is the same for all time (Hebrews 6:17-20); 11:4-6). But at any given moment of the world's history, only so much of the truth could be really made use of as had a direct bearing upon the circumstances of the time being. By this means true exercise of conscience toward God was produced, and the soul was animated by "the hope set before it" (Hebrews 6:11-12).

Abraham, for instance, had promises for this world, but his portion here was to live as a pilgrim and a stranger, while waiting for the things promised. We, knowing accomplished redemption, have other promises, heavenly in their character, for the full realisation of which we wait, though we are already made "partakers of the divine nature", and our calling is "heavenly" in principle (2 Peter 1:3-4, and 1 Peter 1:3-5).

The above remarks, though short, will, we trust, suffice to explain why it is that, in the Old Testament writings, the first coming of Christ to this world, and His return in glory to set up His kingdom, are often treated as one single event, both advents being referred to in the same verse. The passage which the Lord read from Isaiah 61 in the synagogue at Nazareth is a case in point (Luke 4:18-19).* His purpose being to show from the Scripture what was the object and character of His ministry in Galilee, He read only so much of it as referred to His first coming, and "closed the book" in the middle of the second verse, when He came to words which spoke of a future "day of vengeance".

{*The adaptation to the day of Pentecost, of Joel's prophecy, is another instance (Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:16-21).}

Elsewhere, as for instance in the latter halves of Psalm 14 and Psalm 53, we do find indications of two "comings", the first in grace and suffering, the second in judgment. But, as a rule, there was no need to speak more definitely at the time when these Scriptures were written, their essential object being to insist upon Messiah's personal coming to this earth.

He is the "anointed one" whose throne God was about to set upon His holy hill of Zion (Psalm 2 : 1-6). His authority must eventually be owned in the place where He was rejected and so suffered for us; ** and for His "glorious appearing" every loyal soul, whether he belongs to this Christian dispensation or not, must wait with a longing heart. Paul did so, not expecting his "crown of righteousness" until that day shall come (2 Timothy 4:6-8; Titus 2:13).

{*That the coming manifested glory of the Lord in His kingdom is the appointed counterpart of His sufferings here, is abundantly shown by the accounts of the Transfiguration in the first three gospels. Compare also Luke 23:42-43).}

Nothing is more definite, all through Scripture, than the Lord's personal coming to this earth. The first intimation of it on the occasion of Adam's fall and the consequent judgment of the serpent, is given in those striking words, "thou shalt bruise His heel" (Genesis 3:15). And the closing chapters of the Old Testament remind the faithful among His ancient people (how treated as "Lo-ammi," Hosea 1:9; Hosea 2:23), that the Lord whom they seek for shall suddenly come to His temple (Malachi 3:1). Indeed the returned captives in Zerubbabel's time had to be assured that the builder of the only temple that can have a permanent duration must be the Lord* who will "be a priest upon His throne", true Melchisedek, "the Son of David, the Son of Abraham"; Son of man, and Son of God (Zechariah 6:12-13; Psalm 8:4; Psalm 80:17; Psalm 110:4; Daniel 7; 1 Chronicles 17:13-14; Matthew 1:1; Luke 3:38).

{*Presented as "the Branch" i.e. the Son of man who should "grow up out of His place" (compare Luke 2:40, 52).}

Besides His personal coming into the world, His death is abundantly set forth, not only in type, as by the sacrifices which are everywhere found in the Old Testament from Abel's onwards (see Hebrews 11:4; 12:24), but also in direct testimony, as in Psalm 16:10-11, Psalm 22:15, Psalm 102:23-24; Isaiah 53; Daniel 9:26, etc. And death was to be followed by resurrection. He "showed Himself alive after His passion" to the "apostles whom He had chosen" during forty days, before He went up in their sight from the Mount of Olives (Luke 24:50-51; Acts 1:2-3, 9-10, 12). And to that spot He must return; His "feet shall stand" there (Zechariah 14:4). So that in every way Christ's return to this earth is abundantly guaranteed.

The last prophecy of the Old Testament, addressed to those who fear Jehovah's name, presents the Messiah as "the Sun of righteousness" who shall "arise with healing in His wings". Yet it does not omit the mention of judgment which must also take place at that time, and burn up the wicked (Malachi 4:1-3; compare Matthew 25:31, 46). The coming of Elijah the prophet, to prepare the people for that day, is foretold in the same passage, so that grace might run its course instead of judgment. But the Lord, in referring to it, showed His disciples that for those who "could receive it", Elijah's mission had been already fulfilled by John the Baptist, who was sent of God to prepare the way of His own Son, by leading the people to repentance (Malachi 3:1, Malachi 4:1-6; Matthew 9:10-14; Luke 1:67-79; John 1:6). From this point of view the most important part of Christ's work was already accomplished at His first coming (see Psalm 40:7-8; John 17:4-5), and His present glory with the Father is the answer to it. Indeed, all John's gospel makes the Lord's death exceedingly prominent, for without it no one could ever have part with Him in His glory, nor could He have prepared a place for any in His Father's House (John 12:24, John 14:2-3).

He was indeed "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29), but the Baptist, though divinely instructed to point this out, was unable to tell any one of those who came to him that their sins had been forgiven; nor could he at all understand why Jesus should take a place with those who had confessed their sins at the Jordan (Matthew 3:14). His mission was simply to put God's seal, as it were, by baptism on those who, by their confession, took their place before God as sinners; then he was able to direct their thoughts to One who was to come after, and who alone could baptize them with the Holy Ghost (Mark 1:1-8). For that, however, it was needful that Jesus should, in the first place, ascend to heaven (Mark 16:19; John 16:7; Acts 1:4-5; Acts 2:1-4, 33). The Lord hinted that to Nicodemus when He intimated to him that He had "heavenly things" to communicate; and He could not speak to him of eternal life, until He had first shown the necessity of His being "lifted up" upon the cross (John 3:12-15, John 8:28, John 12:31-33). His death opened up the way to glory "above", in the Father's house, not to Jews only, but to Gentiles  -  both being included in the words "all" and "whosoever". The "other sheep" were Gentiles (John 10:14-16).

Henceforward every hope, whether for the enjoyment of the FATHER'S HOUSE in company with the SON, or for the accomplishment of the promises made to the fathers by the prophets (Hebrews 1:1), depends upon the return to this earth of Him who, in His cross, laid the foundation of every blessing in store for this sin-stricken world. How and when these things are to take place, we have yet to examine. William Joseph Lowe (1838-1927).

(To be continued, if the Lord will.)

The Old in the New Explained


"In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not".

The Rama or Ramah spoken of in these verses was a city of the tribe of Benjamin, some 5-10 miles north of Jerusalem (Joshua 18:21 and 25). Already the ten tribes, which formed the kingdom of Israel, had been removed out of Jehovah's sight by the Assyrian, the rod of His anger (2 Kings 17; Isaiah 10:5). The tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, the descendants of Joseph, the first son of Rachel, were amongst them. Now the tribe of Benjamin, Rachel's second son, along with the tribe of Judah, was being removed by Nebuchadnezzar "at the commandment of Jehovah" (2 Kings 24).

In her desire to have children Rachel had called upon her husband to "Give me children, or else I die", but for a time God had withheld from her the fruit of the womb (Genesis 30:1-2). We can understand how she would weep and mourn that such a tragedy should overtake those descended from her. While this is so, the wider context of Jeremiah 31 shows that Jehovah will yet bring both the houses of Israel into blessing, under Messiah. Indeed, the chapter opens and closes with bright anticipations of that time.

There is the promise that Jehovah will be "the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people" (verse 1), while verses 31 to 34 detail the terms of the new covenant that will form the basis of that relationship. Then will be fulfilled what is here said of the ten tribes, "Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth … " (verse 8) and of the two tribes "Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears … they shall come again from the land of the enemy. And there is hope for thy latter end, saith Jehovah, and thy children shall come again to the* own border" (verses 16 and 17).

Here in Matthew 2 we read of the calculating cruelty of Herod, who in aiming his blow at the children clearly intended to put an end to the One who threatened his throne. No doubt it was the devil who, well knowing Who it was that had been born, moved Herod to perpetrate such an atrocity (Revelation 12:4). Its purpose fails. Joseph is warned of the danger and takes "the young child and His mother" and flees into Egypt. Nevertheless the blow falls and who can tell the sorrow that it must have entailed? Though the circumstances and geographical location were different Jeremiah 31 verse 15 is applied as expressing the grief of those affected. The very next verse in Matthew 2 records the death of Herod. He was soon called from his seat and will stand before the great white throne for judgment as Revelation 20:11-15 describes. The remainder of the chapter explains why, though born in Bethlehem, our Lord was brought up in Nazareth, and notices the general testimony of the Old Testament prophets that He would be the more despised and rejected on that account.

R. F. W.

Jacob's Last Words



Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning (Romans 15:4) and I am convinced that Genesis 49 contains important teaching regarding the history of the Church. Because of the rejection of Messiah, Israel was temporarily put aside, and God now has another people here on earth, the Christian company which, alas, has failed as much as God's ancient people. The first four sons of Jacob show typically the characteristic blessings which God had bestowed originally upon His people:

—  the blessing of sonship (Reuben);

—  the blessing of hearing the Word of God and being guided by God's Spirit (Simeon);

—  the blessing of fellowship with God and with fellow-believers (Levi);

—  the blessing of worshipping in spirit and truth in recognition of the authority of Christ who sings God's praises in the midst of His own (Judah).

If we follow the history of Christendom we see that these privileges were soon lost sight of. Jacob's sons did not really deserve their beautiful names, and likewise, the life of the Church often contradicted its high calling. Christians have mingled with the world at the price of subjection to the world, as is seen in Zebulun ( = dwelling) and Issachar ( = wages). Therefore Christ reproached the church at Pergamos with the words: "I know where thou dwellest, where the throne of Satan is" (Revelation 2:13). In defiance of its heavenly calling, the Church has become an important outward power here on earth, and therefore the world and "that woman Jezebel" (i.e. popery, Revelation 2:20) have ruled over it. In Revelation 2 this history of failure also culminates in idolatry, which in Genesis 49 is seen in the tribe of Dan. Jezebel's influence is seen again in the end time in idolatrous Babylon the great (Revelation 17 and 18). Here nominal Christendom is shown to be heading for judgment.

In this situation only God can show a way out. Therefore the prayer of those who remain faithful to the Word and the Name of Christ is, "I wait for Thy salvation, O Lord". Even in the darkest hours there is a victorious remnant (Gad overcomes his enemies). They rejoice in abundant spiritual food (Asher eats rich food), and have struggled out of the grasp of worldly and judaistic influences (Naphtali is a hind let loose). They will share the glory of Christ who is the Firstborn among many brethren (Joseph is the one distinguished among his brothers). They will also reign with Him over the earth and sit with Him on His throne (Benjamin divides the spoil). Thus the blessings which had been lost sight of in the beginning become the portion of a faithful remnant that is waiting for the full revelation of God's salvation in the second coming of Christ.


Apart from this, Genesis 49 contains valuable lessons for ourselves as individual believers. Our history as children and sons of God is not always flawless, as is shown in type in the first three sons of Jacob. The first lesson we learn is that "that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual" (1 Corinthians 15:46). In spite of all the privileges granted to us, our old self can be a great hindrance. Although we do recognise Christ's authority in our lives (Judah and Shiloh), we can be enslaved by the world, the law and sin (Zebulun, Issachar and Dan). Our need then leads to the prayer for the intervention of God's salvation: "I wait for Thy salvation" (verse 18). We learn from experience that we cannot expect anything good from ourselves, and that only God can bring relief. The New Testament counterpart of this prayer of Jacob is the exclamation in Romans 7:24 — "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" But the darkest hour is just before dawn. And just as the prophecy of Jacob takes a turn for the better from this critical point, the believer is blessed once his eyes have been opened to the fulness of salvation in Christ and to the fact that he has been set free from the law of sin and death. He learns to thank God, for he changes from a slave into a free man, and from a loser into a victor. Romans 8 depicts the Christian's victorious life in the power of the Spirit of God.

Now this is exactly what we find in the next three sons of Jacob. Gad overcomes the enemies besieging him. Asher shows the abundant life which is the victor's portion. He eats rich food and he yields royal dainties: he is able to let others share in his abundance. The picture is completed by Naphtali, who depicts the freedom and the joy that the believer enjoys after the struggle of Romans 7. He is a hind let loose and gives beautiful words: he sings the song of praise of Christian liberty and cries: "Abba, Father!".

This process of spiritual growth finally reaches its height in that Christ Himself is seen in the believer. Living by the Spirit conforms us to the image of God's Son (Romans 8:14, 29). This is shown in type by the last two sons of Jacob, Joseph and Benjamin, beautiful types of the Lord Jesus. Christ Himself is the climax of our blessing, the crown of our happiness. In Joseph we see Him both in His rejection and in His exaltation, and our lives should be in agreement with this. On the one hand Christ in His utter humiliation is our model (Philippians 2); on the other hand Christ in His heavenly glory is the goal of all our ambitions (Philippians 3). If He is formed in us in this way, our life will be more and more under the Lordship of the Man at God's right hand, who allows us to partake in the results of His victory (Benjamin divides the spoil). Thus we reach spiritual maturity, which is so often mentioned in the New Testament, and the image of Christ is clearly seen in us (1 Corinthians 3:1-3; Galatians 4:19; Ephesians 4:12-16; Colossians 1:28).


(Deuteronomy 33)

Jacob's blessing has a remarkable counterpart in Moses' blessing at the end of the Pentateuch. The main difference is that Genesis 49 stresses man's responsibility, while Deuteronomy 33 emphasizes God's plans and purposes. Genesis 49 is, in fact, one long history of guilt and punishment, failure and restoration, but Deuteronomy 33 is a picture of the people at the time when they, according to the gracious counsels of God, have been given possession of all the blessings of the Promised Land. In this latter chapter the Spirit of God passes over all the negative things that Jacob says about his sons in Genesis 49. Of course, there is also a difference in the way they are addressed. Jacob regards his sons as the heads and representatives of the twelve tribes (Genesis 49:28), while Moses speaks to the tribes themselves.

The order of Jacob's sons in Deuteronomy 33 is different from the one in Genesis 49. Reuben is immediately followed by Judah, who received Reuben's position as the firstborn. Simeon is missing completely, probably because this tribe merged with Judah. However, there are still twelve names listed because Ephraim and Manasseh are mentioned separately in the blessing of Joseph. Now let us compare the order in both chapters:

Genesis 49 Deuteronomy 33

1. Reuben Reuben

2. Simeon Judah

3. Levi  Levi

4. Judah  Benjamin

5. Zebulun Joseph (Ephraim + Manasseh)

6. Issachar Zebulun

7. Dan  Issachar

8. Gad  Gad

9. Asher  Dan

10 Naphtali Naphtali

11. Joseph  Asher

12. Benjamin

Judah is followed by Levi, who carries off a rich blessing as a reward for his obedience to the Lord after Israel had sinned by worshipping the golden calf (Exodus 32:25-29). Along with Joseph he takes the most prominent place in Moses' blessing, while in Genesis 49 this place is occupied by Judah and Joseph! Deuteronomy shows the people in possession of the land, brought close to God and living according to His commandments, for which Levitical service is necessary. After this the two sons of Rachel follow — first Benjamin, then Joseph, an order determined by spiritual reasons. As Levi had the service of the sanctuary, Benjamin had the location of the sanctuary. Jerusalem was part of Benjamin's territory, and therefore it says here that he dwelled in safety close by the Lord and that the Lord dwelled between his shoulders ( = mountain sides). This leads to the full blessing granted to Joseph who, as in Genesis 49, is called the "crowned" or "select amongst" his brothers. (See footnotes in J. N. Darby translation). Only then follow the two last sons of Leah and the four sons of the maids. Their blessings all relate to the possession and enjoyment of the inheritance in the Promised Land.

Moses spoke these things on the eve of the entry into Canaan under Joshua's leadership. But apart from the historical fulfilment of a number of these blessings there is, just as in Genesis 49, an obvious prophetic and spiritual value. Deuteronomy 33 contains several references to the coming Kingdom, in which Israel will possess the land not just temporarily but for ever. It is remarkable that in verse 7 Judah is said to be brought unto his people (from the Diaspora?). Levi will overcome his adversaries (verse 11) — and in the end time there will be plenty of them — and Benjamin will dwell in safety in the land (verse 12). Joseph will even rule over the nations and expand his dominion to the ends of the earth (verse 17). Zebulun and Issachar will call the nations to the mountain (verse 19), i.e. the mountain of the Lord, the Temple mount, which in the last days will be established as the chief of the mountains (Isaiah 2:2-5). The last reference to the millennium is implied in the final verse of Moses' blessing, where it says that Israel's enemies will give feigned obedience to the people of God. This expression also occurs in the Psalms and ultimately points to the subjugation of the nations during the reign of Christ (Psalm 18, Psalm 66, Psalm 81).

There can also be no doubt about the practical and spiritual meaning of these blessings for ourselves. It is also true for us that it is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich (Proverbs 10:22). And our riches are of a spiritual nature in the first place, since we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). As Israel received the Promised Land as their inheritance — the possession of which is actually the subject of Moses' blessing — so a vast territory of spiritual, eternal blessings has been granted to us to be taken possession of in faith. So the subject here is not, as in Genesis 49, the stages of spiritual growth, or the history of the failure and restoration of God's people as a whole. Here in Deuteronomy 33 the subject is the unhindered possession of God's blessings in the "land" that He has given us. Although these blessings are our individual portion, it is more the collective side of it which is shown here. They are enjoyed in the assemblies in which God places us and in which we live together (see also Psalm 133, where we read about the blessing that God commands where brothers dwell together in unity).

H. Bouter Jnr.

The following paper was submitted in the course of a correspondence with one of the editors. It raises important issues which ought not to be passed over. To practise the principles adduced may not be easy but seeing those principles as firmly rooted in Scripture carries with it the responsibility of seeking to answer to them.

Churches: Confederacy or Independency. Which?

It is argued by many that since local churches are not seen in Scripture as forming a confederation, they must therefore be autonomous and independent. They are not to be formed into a definite circle accountable to some central ecclesiastical governing body at some designated location on earth. There is no such thing in the New Testament as a central oversight of the Churches of God.

But the question still remains: Does this make local assemblies independent? The simple answer is, No it does not. The point is that neither a confederation of assemblies or ecclesiastical independency is the teaching of Scripture. The New Testament does not support either of these ideas. Let us be clear that the Church is seen in one aspect as the Body of Christ. That is, every truly born again believer on earth is a member of one Body which has its Head in heaven. The Head is the Lord Jesus Christ at the right hand of God exalted and glorified, and the Body is formed by each member being united to

the Head by the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven.

Now it is said that we have no headquarters. But have we overlooked that the Church as the Body of Christ takes all its character from the risen and glorified Head in heaven, and that every member of the Body on earth is linked to Him there? In short, we are members one of another (Romans 12 : 5) and all the members have the same Head (Ephesians 4:15). We must hold the Head (Colossians 2:19), "from which ALL the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God". This rules out autonomy. Further, "the whole body fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of EVERY PART, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love," (Ephesians 4:16). That puts to an end the notion of independency.

It needs to be appreciated that even in these present days of break up, the truth still remains: "There IS One Body". (Ephesians 4:4). After all, there is only one Christ; only one Head: therefore there cannot be two bodies or more. And local churches are "body of Christ" (1 Corinthians 12:27). That is to say, every local assembly is 'body-like', it has the character of the Body and should express the glories of the Head of that Body in the district where it is. Local assemblies could not be independent bodies or the Christ would be a Head with many bodies. "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are WE ALL baptised into one body", (1 Corinthians 12:12-13).

How is it therefore that unity is to be maintained without a central overseeing body on earth? The answer is plainly that every member has the same Head and is indwelt by the same one Holy Spirit. Not only so, but all have the same Word of God. We all must be walking according to the direction of the Head and in the power of the Spirit. Everyone must be guided by the Scriptures. Paul maintained that he had the same pattern for all the local churches. See 1 Cor. 4:17; 1 Cor. 7:17; 1 Cor. 11:16; 1 Cor. 14:33; 1 Cor. 16:1. Everything in the local assembly must be taken up in the light of that which is true of the whole. The apostle wrote, "As in all churches".

The great lack today, and the cause of all the breakdown, is our widespread failure to recognise the truth of the One Body, and thus lapse into the serious error of not holding the Head. When true Church ground is forsaken and Christ is not seen as all sufficient, then men's ideas creep in and consequently many other heads displace the one true Head of the Body, leading to confusion and disorder: in short, the public ruin of the Church.

Of course, no ruin can affect the Church in the counsel of God, and the truth remains that there is one Body. Let us therefore return to the ground of that Body and seek to be gathered to the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. There is no place for pride, but in humility, mourning the ruin, let us depart from ecclesiastical iniquity (2 Timothy 2:19), and go outside the camp unto Him, as we wait for the Lord from heaven. THEN all will really be gathered together forever around His blessed person.

M.B., Blackburn.

News from the Field


Leaving Belfast on 8th November I arrived in Egypt that same evening where I was met by brother Farid. We arrived at Bombay on the morning of Saturday 10th, and were able to spend three full weeks visiting and encouraging the brethren in India. So vast is that country, approaching nine hundred million souls, and such is the spread and extent of the work, that we were not able in the time available to visit every place where believers are seeking to identify with the testimony. There are opportunities on almost every hand for evangelism, literature distribution, and to instruct believers further in the truth.


We were met at the airport by brother Ronny Fernandes. Ronny has been engaged in Christian literature distribution since 1971. He has many valuable contacts throughout India. While working for a large international missionary organization he came in contact with the writings of the brethren, and this in turn led him to give up the independent position and in the 1980s commence to gather on the ground of the one body.

We went by taxi to the hostel where we stayed in Bombay, and Ronny came back in the evening with some young brethren from the assembly. We were able to have a Bible reading on John 10, and to answer questions on various aspects of truth, so that we have a very happy memory of our first contact with brethren in India.

The following morning (Sunday 11th November) we met together to remember the Lord in the breaking of bread. The small assembly in Bombay is the only one where the meetings are conducted in English, and it was a joy to sing the familiar hymns in a new setting. Afterwards we underlined in ministry the important place cities had in the establishment of Christianity in the New Testament, and encouraged the brethren to seek to be active in gospel testimony and in instructing believers in Bombay, which has a population of over ten million people. A little children's meeting was also held for the children present.

Brother Ronny frequently has to make long journeys throughout India to visit literature contacts, encourage isolated believers, and attend to printing work. These absences are felt by his wife and three young children John (10), Joseph (8) and Jeruel (2), who also need our prayers. Practically, much of the responsibility for the meeting is carried by Ronny and his wife. We need to pray that the Lord will add others to the little assembly. The young meeting needs shepherding and regular expository ministry.


Later that day we set out by long distance taxi to visit sister Benjamin at Pune, a hill station on the Deccan plateau 192 kilometres south east of Bombay. This sister is interesting in that her father was connected with the original testimony to the Lord's name in India dating back to the last century. He was a personal friend of Colonel Jacob who laboured in India. When brethren again sought to give expression to the one body, Miss Benjamin was one of the first to be gathered out in Bombay. She retired from her position as matron of a large hospital in Bombay in April 1990, and moved to stay with relatives in Pune.

As she was so isolated we sought to have some fellowship. The taxi had not travelled far beyond Bombay when there was a loud bang and the taxi rocked out of control. It had had a blow out on one of its front tyres. Thankfully we were not injured, but there we were, stranded on the outside lane of the main road to south India, lorries and buses thundering past on the inside, and some sacred cows wandering over to inspect what was happening. The tyres, including the spare, were completely bald. Indeed, if we had inspected them beforehand, we would not have set out on the mountainous journey in such a vehicle. We thus learned to inspect our transport for the remainder of the trip. We were in some perplexity as to what to do. Brother Farid said to me, "Satan is 100% against this trip", and so it seemed. But the Lord had something better in store. One of the onlookers had a friend who was driver of a tourist taxi. He volunteered his services, and we continued our trip, and the return journey, in a new 1990 registered car. Also, the driver was very skilled. This was a help due to the nature of the terrain, the heavy traffic and bad road conditions.

In view of the above, our arrival was delayed until after nine o'clock. Miss Benjamin was glad to see us, and we were able to have a little time of fellowship remembering the Lord Jesus. Brother Farid then suggested that we should look at the closing verses of 2 Corinthians 2, and we were able to consider all the promises as secured in Christ, and counsels of God as fulfilled in Him. Sister Benjamin's relatives are believers, and she is seeking to interest them in the truths of gathering to the Lord's name in unity. We need to pray for this elderly, well-taught sister, and for the extension of the testimony in Pune. It is the intention of the brothers at Bombay that they should visit her from time to time to have fellowship.

We stayed overnight in Pune, and set out for Bombay early the following morning. The journey proved to be somewhat of a nightmare, introducing us to the uncertainties of Indian travel. A bridge on the main road was broken, and it took eight hours, mostly over dusty congested tracks in heavy bumper to bumper traffic beneath the hot sun, to return to Bombay.


We were able, however, to turn the time to good account. A young brother B. Bhumeshor Sharma, a converted Hindu, accompanied us on the journey. He is from Imphal, Manipur, which is in the far northeastern area adjoining Burma. He was much interested in the truths of gathering, and also attended the conference of Tenali. He asked many intelligent questions on the return taxi journey to Bombay, and we had much profitable discussion with him and with Ronny. He desires to translate books and tracts into Manipuri, and to interest other believers in his own home surroundings in assembly truth. Foreigners are not permitted to visit in Manipur without a special visa. Ronny intends to visit him in his home surroundings, but vast distances are involved in travelling from one end of India to the other.

Andhra Pradesh

The following day (Tuesday 13th November), we set out for Tenali. The main work in the state of Andhra Pradesh centres here, and in the surrounding villages. This state in south-east India has a population of over 64 million. The main language, and that in which the meetings are conducted, is Telugu.

The first stage of our journey was by air to Hyderabad, the capital city of Andhra Pradesh. We had our first experience of Air India! At Hyderabad airport we were met by brother Rao, who took us to his home to rest for a few hours before continuing our journey by train. This brother seeks to identify with the testimony, and runs a very well stocked book depot from his home, but he lacks others of like mind with whom he can meet.

Another seven hours by train took us to Vijayawada, the nearest main junction town to Tenali. An hour or so later in the darkness we made our approach to Tenali, having dodged an assortment of buses, lorries, cars, rickshaws and bicycles, many without lights, travelling in the opposite direction on the narrow road. Brother K. Yohan, who lives in Tenali, welcomed us, and showed us to our quarters. My first real sight of Tenali was in the eerie dawn light at six o'clock the following morning when the town started to come to life.

Printing Press

The following day (Wednesday 14th) we had an opportunity to visit the printing press, housed below the visitors' quarters in a large brick building. We were most impressed by what we saw. The old letterpress type is set by hand, letter by letter, word by word, line by line, page by page. It is possible to print in both Telagu and English. Brother Yohan and his staff are at present nearing completion of the five volume Synopsis of the Books of the Bible by J.N.D. in English — a mammoth undertaking. While being shown round, five proof-readers were at work checking the typesetting. All were university graduates, two double graduates, but they were prepared to sacrifice worldly advancement in order to do this line of work, accepting much lower pay than they could otherwise obtain.

The printing presses, one small for tracts, the other larger for books, are again hand-operated, page by page. Then the finished sheets are collated by hand, sewn and stitched by hand, and bound once more by hand. I am sure printers in our country would be amazed at the output from such primitive machinery and labour intensive methods, yet quality Christian literature is being produced.

Other Publishing Work

Not all the printing requirements can be handled on the presses at Tenali, and in addition work is given to other printers. For instance, colour calendars are produced each year with Scripture texts in various languages, and many believers look forward to receiving these. As well as publishing in Telugu and English, the brethren also publish in Hindi (one of the national languages used throughout India, particularly in the north), Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi, and Malayalam, and a start is also being made in Tamil, Bengali and Nepali. Given the size of India, and the fact that there are 14 major languages (and 200 minor languages and dialects), this translation and publishing work is of vital importance. We should seek to help this work forward in every way possible. A number of brother Heijkoop's books have already been translated into various languages, and find wide acceptance. Gospel tracts and ministry for believers are both needed. Brother Ronny has plans to produce the little booklet Pure Gold in six languages.

Book Room at Tenali

Alongside the print shop is another large brick building. The Christian Truth Book Room occupies the ground floor, with the meeting and conference room above. Here a wide range of sound Christian literature is available in various languages, with storage space behind

for bulk stocks. Customers can call at the depot. In addition, in response to mail enquiries, from here, Bibles, books, and tracts are sent out all over India. During conference week when brethren were together from other parts, discussions were held here by those brothers closely involved in printing work, and many cups of tea drunk. They need our prayers as important decisions are taken with regard to printing priorities for the future.

Village Preaching

As well as an assembly in Tenali, there are also seven in the surrounding villages. We had the opportunity to go in the evening to preach in one such village where some believers desire to form a new meeting. Seventy or eighty people gathered round as we preached by the light of a kerosene lamp under the open heaven, with mosquitoes and insects buzzing round. It was interesting to see many of the children carrying Bibles even though they could not read: such is the respect in which the word of God is held.

A Canadian, Silas Fox, preached in the villages of Andhra with great power 30 to 40 years ago, and the results of his ministry can still be seen. Indeed, the first serious impressions were produced on brother Yohan through him, which later resulted in his conversion. Seeing the primitive conditions in which such missionaries of past generations laboured at great cost to themselves affected us very much.

Six Hundred at Tenali Conference

After a day of rest (I had developed fever and bronchitis), the three day conference commenced on November 16th. The rains had lasted longer than usual, and it was hot and sticky. There were upwards of 600 people crammed into the meeting room, rather a suffocating experience. The Lord gave the necessary strength for ministry and I took up assembly truth as illustrated in the book of Numbers (believers from various tribes gathered together around the divine centre, a picture of assemblies in different localities gathering to the Lord's name; our position as workers, warriors, and worshippers etc.). Brother Farid looked at the young assembly at Thessalonica.

As well as those from the surrounding villages, invitations were sent out to others who were interested. A number travelled long distances. Some were present from the meeting in Madras which we had not time to visit. We also met the children from the orphan home at Pallekona.

A village evangelist from Nellore, John Lee, had a long and interesting conversation with me with regard to principles of gathering. I have since heard that he has opened a book room, and with twenty others is seeking fellowship, so that there is the possibility of a new meeting in Nellore also. Nellore is situated a considerable distance from Tenali between Tenali and Madras.

Another brother we met at Tenali was Daniel Jayaraman who is at present living in Kerala State with his wife and family. Daniel is from the highest Hindu priestly caste of Brahmins. After conversion he was completely disowned by his family. He has been greatly helped by reading the writings of C. H. Mackintosh, and with his wife has taken the path of separation, and our brethren in India have given him the right hand of fellowship. Brother Jayaraman studied English literature at Bangalore university, and can speak four languages. He has already commenced translation work into the Tamil language (spoken by over forty million people), and "A Letter for You" and "Safety, Certainty and Enjoyment" are in course of preparation, as well as some tracts on assembly truth. Madras is presently the only Tamil speaking meeting in India. Daniel needs our prayers as he is potentially a very useful brother for the testimony in India.

On the last day of the conference 39 people were baptized in a nearby canal. The believers marched through the town singing hymns, a testimony to those living round about. Afterwards a large number gathered for the breaking of bread, followed by a further two lengthy sessions of ministry. It remained to distribute some relief to some of the very poor and sick believers from the villages, and to take our leave of the brothers and sisters gathered together from various parts. They were most appreciative of our presence with them.

To be continued in next issue (D. V.)