Thoughts on Jacob.

Genesis 28:20, 21.

1877 207 etc. "If God will be with me . . . . so that I come again to my father's house in peace, then shall Jehovah be my God; this stone and . . . . shall be God's house, and . . . I will surely give the tenth unto thee."

It was to this end that all God's dealings with Jacob pointed. It was in His counsels to reveal Himself unto men in this character as the eternal, unchangeable, righteously-blessing God; and, when at length Jacob had reached the limit of his desire, and had got to himself much cattle, and maidservants, and men-servants, and camels, and asses, and therefore for the moment had no further object before him, Jehovah presents Himself to Jacob as the only worthy object, the true satisfying portion, saying, "Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred, and I will be with thee."

Blessing is ever consequent upon grace, whether in the giver only, or the recipient also: "grace is poured into thy lips, therefore God hath blessed thee for ever." But blessing to man in grace, simply, is not the perfect manifestation of Jehovah. It must be righteous grace; for if Jehovah dwell among the children of Israel, it is because He has redeemed them. (Num. xxxv. 34; Ex. xiii. 15.)

So Jehovah had said unto Abram, "Get thee out of thy country, from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee." . . . . "So Abram departed," and into the land of Canaan "he came." Again, after Lot was separated from him, He says, "All the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever." And note here, that for the first time "the seed" is associated with Abram. Again the word of Jehovah comes to Abram, but now the promised seed stands out alone, distinct, as the pledge, depository, and assurance of blessing. But still all is grace. No word of righteousness on God's part here — blessing on the ground of unlimited, unconditional, absolute grace, irrespective of what might be due to Him who gave, or of the receiver.

This is not Jehovah acting as such, nor God manifesting Himself perfectly as "grace and truth," for this could be only in His Son. It is blessing coming out from Jehovah because of hidden grace.

But God delights to manifest Himself in all His fulness; and blessing coming out to us is very different from going in to Him, and finding grace there to stand in.

In the Old Testament all His dealings were for the purpose of bringing out His fulness as Jehovah, "the Eternal," blessing righteously men on earth. In the New He reveals Himself as the Father, and all His works and words, whether by the Son or by the Spirit through the word, were that children might be brought to Him as the Father.

So we find hitherto to Abram all is simple grace, with secret reference to the coming Seed, in whom all things should be established, and God Himself glorified; for though all is grace, yet is Abraham taught, that if he is to inherit, it must be through death, and that of another, under judgment. (Gen. xv. 9-17.)

Then follow fourteen years, a perfect blank (because flesh is established and under trial) having an acknowledged place. After this he must also know what it is, no only to have the sentence of death passed on him in the sacrifice, but also what it is to have it in himself; not, however, before the seed is brought upon the scene for faith. Then can he circumcise flesh in self and the things of self, receiving to himself the promises in Isaac. But when, in fact, the promised son appears, then not only is flesh judged, but cast out also, "for in Isaac shall thy seed be called."

Throughout it all God is dealing in blessing and disciplinal providence, Himself hidden meanwhile, never known as Jehovah.

Once again does God speak unto Abraham, for the last time, in special declaration of blessing; and here before God does he again come into view in connection with the seed, but both on the ground of resurrection, as a man who had learnt that truth, and by faith took the place through substitution and death.

The first revelation of God showed Abraham and his seed in separation; the second, Abraham and his seed in death, but with the promise of life; the third, Abraham and his seed in resurrection.

Though justice is implied, and the claims of God reserved, yet blessing comes out solely on the ground of grace; and the conscience of the believer corresponds to the manifestation of God, se that there is comparatively but feeble apprehension of truth. Nevertheless what, was known of God was divine and able to make perfect up to its measure. Notwithstanding it was not the perfect revelation of God to men on earth of Jehovah — not to speak of the Father to men in heaven: this could not be until a man, the Man, was there.

Man yet was not capable of receiving it. By faith he had reached a truth, that of resurrection, from the ground of which redemption through righteousness could be understood and received. So the first communication from Jehovah to Isaac is still in grace — blessing less than ever, if that were possible, subject to conditions, saying, "Go not down into Egypt, dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of. Sojourn in this land: unto thee and unto thy seed I will give." He sows that land, and receives an hundredfold; so greatly did the Lord bless him, and this for Abraham's sake, and the people of the land also for his own sake, "for he pitched his tent in Beersheba." (Gen. xxvi. 31.)

All was founded upon Abraham, but was the reward reckoned to him of grace or desert? Surely grace alone, which gave him to believe in and obey the word of separation, circumcision (death), and resurrection.

Yet all this was not a manifestation of Jehovah, as such. Abraham, planted in grace, is the tree upon which God the Lord can shower His blessings from a distance; but for Him to dwell in the land which is the blessing He designed for it, the land must be morally worthy of Him. No matter the depth of its need and wretchedness, God can dwell, and will dwell, and delights to dwell in it, to bless it, provided He is morally vindicated, and His character witnessed for, in truth, in the place in which He is.

So in all these preliminary ways of God, He, as the Lord, visits the earth, but does not dwell in the land. Whenever He visits, it is indeed for blessing, seen remarkably on the one occasion in which its absence is most conspicuous; for though we find three men, and One of them — the Lord — when blessing Abraham, appearing unto him in the plain of Mamre, He Himself says unto him, "I will certainly return unto thee . . . . and Sarah thy wife shall have a son at the time appointed."

Yet when judgment is in hand, it is the Lord's strange work: only two men are in view, and the Lord afar off, for "he went his way." Though He can visit thus and bless His saints, and the land through them, yet neither can He dwell with them, nor in it. His character in connection with men in flesh, though chosen ones on the earth, had never been vindicated, so that He could not own a public connection with them, lest the truth of His character might be obscured, and His name linked with their unrighteousness, instead of giving them communion with His holiness.

Still less was it possible He could dwell in man! This could not be until the precious blood of Christ was shed, which sanctifieth, not to the purifying of the flesh, but to the purging of our sins and consciences. Then, and then alone, could He dwell in men, and among men; since only then would God the Father be perfectly glorified, perfectly manifested, perfectly vindicated, regarding man.

But the time was about to come, in the purpose of God, for Him to manifest the glories of His name, Jehovah. Grace in earthly blessing had been fully manifested by Him. Tacitly to man had been confided the exhibition of righteousness in man, as, for instance, in Abraham's entreaty with Jehovah touching the cities of the plain. Jehovah comes down in grace to find, if possible, some plea by reason of which mercy might still stay justice. "I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, and if not, I will know." Jehovah comes in grace, Abraham urges righteousness — "Wilt thou destroy the righteous with the wicked? ... that be far from thee. Shall not the judge of all the earth do right? Let not the Lord be angry."

But what the friend of God does not get, because he dares not ask, since he has a conscience of righteousness, that very thing the Lord, with instant unhesitating grace, accords to the fearful cry of vexed, unstable Lot, a cry wrung from him by dread, and finding vent in paltry and distrustful arguments; showing what the Lord's heart, and will, and mind were; gladly hailing any mediator that would urge a plea for mercy on the ground of grace alone, "for he said, See, I have accepted thee concerning this thing, also that I will not overthrow this city for the which thou hast spoken. Haste thee, escape thither, for I cannot do anything until thou be come thither." And if for such a mediator He so freely spare, what will He not do for Him who, for them for whom He pleads, and in His death and resurrection, has justified and reconciled them?

Failure in man, as the witness for Jehovah of righteousness, had resulted, but in such a way that grace could bear with it and overlook it for the time being: except, indeed, in the case of Lot, where the very ground of possible blessing was departed from, and the foundation of God's ways of mercy rejected, thereby bringing judgment on the scene wherein he should have been the salt. For the word of the Lord God by Noah had been, "Cursed be Canaan, a servant of servants shall he be. . . . Blessed be the Lord God of Shem, and Canaan shall be his servant." Yet Lot is found sitting in the gate of Sodom, a servant to the Canaanite; unlike Abraham, who, when he had to do with the powers of the world, took entirely a separate place, and responsibility before the Lord alone. (Gen. xxi. 28.) But now the moment had arrived for all things to be measured by a divine standard, and for men to be brought into au acknowledged, established, divine relationship, with God dwelling in their midst, and to provide a suitable dwelling-place and maintenance in accordance with His revealed character.

This responsibility Jacob takes up, saying —
1. Jehovah shall be my God.
2. This stone shall be God's house.
3. I will surely give a tenth unto thee.
And who was this about to assert his claim to such relationship, and that he is able to provide such a dwelling-place, and to maintain it? Is it one who has proved himself by faithfulness amid the things in which he is found, and who besides has shown such qualities as would declare his fitness to fill the post? Nay! but one above all others who from the first is seen as a supplanter, taking his brother by the heel and supplanting him in the birthright; and whose life up to the above-noted moment had been characterized only by an act of selfish deceit, chicanery, and lies — not righteous but unrighteous; not upright, but a groveller; not peaceable and yielding, but a paltry grasper. And such a man presumes to put himself on terms with God; making the acknowledgment of Him, and rendering of His due, conditional upon His keeping equity, judgment, and truth, insinuating thus a possibility of failure, judging Him to be such another as Himself, making himself the measure of God's truth. So true is it that we think of God by nature according to the state of our own consciences. But not only so, really making blessing to depend, not upon what God is, but upon his own faithfulness, saying, "If the Lord do this, then will I do that." So that though the Lord proved faithful and true, yet that would not suffice to bring in the needed blessing, for Jacob would still have to do his part. And did he? Let the word declare! Is there not now a counterpart to this? making God's blessing hinge upon man's faithfulness? Abiding blessing cannot come until God has His due, and when it comes, it is none apart from Him. He Himself is good, and in Him only is any.

The good about to be revealed to man in the earth was this — the Lord dwelling with His people. Unbidden, with all the hurry of flesh, Jacob would make this dependent upon him — a bruised reed indeed, a stinking torch — and rushes in, with legal mind, rash step and grasp, instead of leaving the Lord God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, to work it out by grace in His own time. "If I come again to my father's house in peace, Jehovah shall be my God," this shall be God's house, and I will maintain it.

All turns upon Jacob: he, the jewel-centre, so adamantine in his righteousness, that all God's purposes may work upon him! so inflexible, immovable, that God can use him as the fulcrum upon which His eternal will may be rested, and His glory lifted from the dust.

But man from Adam's stock has ever come short of God's glory, proving worthless for His purposes. In his flesh dwells no good thing, an instrument unfit for use; opposed to His efforts, at enmity with His will, doubting God's word, mistrusting His grace, discrediting His power, and therefore taking really the whole burden and responsibility of the work upon himself. Has not this always been the way of flesh, in blind temerity? How different are the ways of God! He holds Himself responsible for all, from first to last. He foreknew from the first, and predestinated the extent and character of the blessing, and at the due time called forth the appointed vessel.

Still the grace and truth of God credits Jacob with faith and love, and therefore sets him in the path by which the desired end should be attained. What is that end? That "in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." (Gen. xxviii. 14.)

Note here the double character of blessing — full well declaring the stability of God's eternal counsel. Surely there is a blessing "TO Jacob," "to him," to have and hold, secured by God's faithfulness, but dependent for its enjoyment upon Jacob's faithfulness. But, blessed be God, there is also a blessing "in Jacob," the burden of which rests upon God alone ("the genealogy" which fell to Judah, of whom came Shiloh, the chief ruler, as distinct from the birthright which was given unto the sons of Joseph, from thence the shepherd, the stone of Israel Gen. xlix. 24; 1 Chron. 5:1, 2), independent altogether of the active instrument. "To thee and to thy seed.In thee and in thy seed." Also to Abraham was it not the same (Gen. xii. 2, 3): "I will make OF thee a great nation . . . . and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed." The first committed into Abram's charge, the other held in God's hand alone; the former referring to possession and the land, the last to blessing towards all.

Again (Gen. xvii. 8), "To thee and to thy seed will I give the land;" and both Ishmael and Isaac have their part in this covenant of possession, but it is with Isaac — the seed unborn — the covenant is established (Gen. xvii. 21; Gen. xxi. 12), and in him alone the seed is called. Again, in Genesis xxii. 17, 18, when it is a matter of possession and man's power, it is to Abraham; but if it is a question of eternal blessing from God towards all, it is in his Seed alone, secured and sealed by the immutability of His counsel and the oath of God; in the Seed, the Forerunner who has for us entered into that within the veil, fulfilling all the counsel of God, taking up all the responsibility of man, coming to do God's will in the prepared body, in the path of perfect obedience, bearing the sins of many in the offering of His own body, sanctifying them through the offering of His body once, and by that one offering perfecting for ever them that are sanctified. Thus do we see Him come not only to put away sin by Himself, but to bring in a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness; and not only a vindicated God, dwelling in the land among a redeemed people, but a glorified God, dwelling with men in a righteous heavens and a righteous earth.

Ignorantly does faulty, foolish, failing Jacob undertake this mighty work, taking it from the ground of grace, and placing it upon the shoulders of his own faithfulness! Behold him, in unwise haste, while yet it is high day, and the flocks ungathered, rolling the stone from the well's mouth, and watering Laban's sheep! Thus did not Abraham's servant, who waited and prayed and wondered in silence, and let the virgin haste and run and draw to give him drink and all his camels. Thus did not the meek and lowly One, who, in tender grace and long-suffering patience, refused to fulfil a single wish, as Messiah, Son of man, or Head of all things, with His bride, the church, until the due time and the Father's will required.

What a scene there follows — Jacob fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, blown about by every wind of circumstance — the sport of lust! He could well believe Jehovah would bless others, but as for his own house, himself must provide for that. So flesh provided for, but fills its lust, and in those things which it naturally knows it corrupts itself; worshipping and serving the creature more than the Creator, it is given up to vile affections; not liking to retain the knowledge of God, it is given up to a reprobate mind.

At length Jacob has attained the utmost limit of his desire by deceit, chicanery, and fraud. Through all, and in spite of all, the unseen God has heard the desire of Jacob's heart, and given him to the full, yet in his own thought he has done it all — God little known or acknowledged. Jacob's hand, and thought, and fraud have gained it all; all is his. Jacob's cattle are strong, and "the man" (note that word), "the man increased exceedingly, had much cattle, maid-servants, men-servants, camels, and asses."

And now God's time has come. Jacob had uttered his before the Lord, and God's promise must be fulfilled, to bring him back to his father's home in peace, so that it may be tested whether he will perform his vow. So, in view of His eternal purpose, the Lord says to Jacob, return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred. "I am the God of Bethel, where thou vowedst a vow unto me. Arise, get thee out of this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred." "Then Jacob rose up, and set his sons, and his wives upon camels, and he carried away all his cattle, and all his goods, which he had gotten, the cattle of his getting, which he had gotten, in Padan-Aram, for to go to Isaac his father in the land of Canaan." How fares it with God's name — God's house — God's dues? This depends, in Jacob's view, upon his recognition of the fact that God had been with him, giving him bread and raiment; if so, Jacob would return a tenth, set up the house, and own Jehovah. He has been taken at his word, and Jehovah in faithfulness performs his part. But notice Jacob's thought! Has God given him aught? Nay, naught. All is his getting which he had gotten. Had he not cared for himself, he had been left bare indeed. To Jacob's conscience these were not the gifts which God had given, but Laban's heart and Laban's images which he had stolen; the objects of Laban's love and worship. (Gen. xxxi. 19, 20, margin.) Has not this always been the tale of religious profession when faith has failed? To serve the world for wages, for bread and raiment, and to end with appropriating the objects of its love and worship — the way of Balaam, and the teaching of Jezebel.

"He that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption." If Jacob has not received from God, he has been heaping up treasure to himself, of which he must be stripped as bare as a withered branch, ere he can become a worshipper of God, not to speak of being a witness for His name, a builder and maintainer of His house.

Gently, and with loving, firm, unsparing hand does Jehovah prune away his fruitless branches. The times of ignorance are now passed, and Jacob is taken in hand. "Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing, and knowest not that thou art the wretched, and the miserable, and poor and blind and naked." Laban's flock he had watered while yet high day, in fleshly hurry, at the first; now, at the close of his sojourn, he hastens to depart, ere yet he had completed the perfect term of service. Is not this religious flesh? In impatient zeal joining with the world, to serve it for its profit, and in the end thereof, with undue eagerness, severing that connection. For his two wives twice seven years he served, but only six years for the cattle. Withal he was not in the place where God would have him. Behold the contrast with the Bridegroom yearning greatly for the bride, yet content to be cut off and have nothing! — refusing to serve the world for hire — content to be a stranger unto His brethren, an alien unto His mother's children. To serve His Father in the appointed place — surely profiting the world — becoming obedient unto death — loving the wages of righteousness, having a right to all, yet taking none, that He might receive all in resurrection. "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again."

But see what religious flesh, found with the man elected and loved of God, has done! Concealed beneath her skirts the idols of the world! It was not the Jewish bride, Rebekah, that has done this; nor Leah, the wearied one, who found her resting-place with that which had gone before, became wearied and faint in mind, resisted not unto blood, and fell back unto the mountain that might be touched and burned with fire. It is Rachel the loved one of the flock, the younger, that had the heart of Jacob, the beautiful well-favoured one, who travailed in hard labour, and in departing brought forth the son of her sorrow, now at God's right hand, the appointed ruler in Israel. Note, that between the travailing with Benoni, and the bringing forth and naming of him Benjamin, Rachel's soul departs; and from Micah 5:2, 3 we learn that, during this momentary interval, this little while, the thousands of Judah shall be given up, and the "remnant of his brethren" will occupy the earthly scene, who shall not return unto the children of Israel until the bringing forth shall be accomplished. Rachel, therefore, represents in type those to whom the Lord said, "A little while, and ye do not behold me, and again a little while, and ye shall see me. Verily, verily, I say to you, that ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice, but ye will be grieved, but your grief shall be turned to joy. A woman, when she gives birth to a child, has grief, because her hour has come; but when the child is born, she no longer remembers her trouble, on account of the joy that a man has been born into the world. And ye now, therefore, have grief, but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no one takes from you." The remnant of his brethren, bearing the name of God's Israel, and owning wifely responsibility at the time of the giving up of Judah, and before the return unto the children of Israel; the remnant of his brethren, departing from earthly places in bringing forth Benoni, the child of her sorrow, whom she knew as a dew from the Lord in the midst of many people (Deut. xxxiii. 13; Gen. xlix. 23), but who, when owned of Jacob, will also be Benjamin, the remnant of Jacob, among the nations, in the midst of many people, as a lion among the beasts of the forest (Gen. xlix. 27).

This crime, the theft of Laban's images, is worthy of death, but Jacob knows not of it, and, sheltered by the mighty hand of God, is secure from all but Him. A "heap of witness" separates him from all evil occurrent, and, until that heap of witness be removed, and the pillar be taken out of the way, the world will not seek the hurt of the chosen of God, neither will His saints call for judgment on the world.

The tower of watching is set up by the saint of God, a sign for them that, until their Lord comes, there is peace for and with the world; while for the world the presence of God's saints is a witness that He will avenge unrighteousness and oppression. The "heap of witness" is set up by those of the world who claim relationship with the saints of God, and is a sign for them that so long as the witness remains — religious profession — no harm can come to them. Notice, that Laban covenants not to pass the heap for harm to Jacob, whereas both heap and pillar must be passed over for Jacob ere the day of reconciliation ends. God, as it were, is set between as judge. So the world will trample christian profession under foot before personal harm can come to Jacob's seed as Christ's; while wrath cannot be poured out upon the world until not only christian watching for the Lord is overpast, but for the conscience of the world no righteous judge exists.

In spite of the protecting interposition of God and His security from every foe, Jacob, in his heart, claims all the praise, for "he sware by the fear of his father Isaac." Was this what he had agreed to do? According to his own confession God had been with him. Had he not had bread and raiment these twenty years? Now surely was the time to own Jehovah his God. But no, it needed faith. Other dangers were yet to be encountered. Jehovah must, as it were, be held to His word, and proved to the end, before the heart's worship can be His. Besides, Jacob, in bargaining with Laban for his hire, had stood upon righteousness (Gen. xxx. 33). Had he been righteous? And now, with bold front and swelling words, he asks, What is my trespass? Certainly he knew Jehovah would not own his ways; so he swears by the fear of his father Isaac.

Faith and sin judged were needed before Jehovah could be owned his God.

God's grace had come in, and saved Jacob and his seed from the fruit of his deeds in the service of Laban; but now a deeper danger shows itself, a heavier storm lowers in the distance.

What is the sting of this new scourge? What bolt lies hid in this fresh thunder-cloud? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. Is not God's grace equal to the crisis? Is anything wanting on His part to assure us of His ability to save Nay! His revelations are ever suited to the occasion, and sufficient.

"Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him, and he said, God's host!" Will he not now judge his ways, and call Jehovah his God? He called that place Mahanaim — two hosts — God's host and his host. If God is there, so is Jacob; and when the day of trial arises, God vanishes from his thoughts, and Jacob alone remains, for he divides the people with him, and the flocks, and herds, and the camels, into two bands, thus filling the whole field of his vision. Jacob, without faith in exercise, is under sin and under law, and unfit to apprehend grace.

Despite the host of God, he is greatly afraid and distressed upon receipt of the tidings about Esau; his guilt, half forgotten, stinging him to fear, bringing his soul into bondage before God; for however little in his own sight he might be, at any rate he had become two bands. (Gen. xxxii. 7-10.)

All is Jacob here, and not Jehovah; Jehovah's glory set aside and only Jacob's blessing thought of. Therefore Jacob's state of soul is such that he is morally incapable of owning Jehovah as his God, and being His witness among men. I, I, I, occupies the scene, and is the whole subject of his prayer. Therefore in this hour of trial he fails to fulfil his vow, and only owns Jehovah as the God of his father Abraham, the God of his father Isaac, the Jehovah who spake to him, but not his God.

Jehovah, as such, is God in righteous grace. Jacob had not judged sin, and therefore would not trust love.

If Jacob will not own Jehovah by His new name, God will in grace give him a blessing other than he sought.

Jehovah's glory from men depended, as we have seen, upon man trusting truth in God: man's blessing from Jehovah rests upon the finding truth in man. In vain, for ages, has God looked on earth. At the first He saw that the wickedness of men was great in the earth, and the whole mind of the thought of his heart evil only every day. A second time the cry was great, because the sin was very grievous, the cry of them waxed great before the face of the Lord. Again He looked, seeking good, and found they were all gone aside, together become filthy, none that doeth good, no, not one; until at length a Babe was born in Bethlehem — the Son of the Highest, the Son of God, yet conceived in the womb of the virgin (the Holy Spirit coming upon her in the power of the Highest), taking part in flesh and blood, in this made like unto the seed of Abraham in all things: — then immediately the glory of Jehovah shines, for truth is found in man, and glory is to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good pleasure in men.

Truth is found in man, and it is Jehovah's glory to bless him; but this is not man's trusting truth in God, upon which Jehovah's glory, manifested in men, depends. Glory in the highest there is, but not glory, only peace, on earth.

Thirty circling seasons pass, and on that same humbled One the heavens open, and God the Spirit, dove-like, descends and abides; and a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Then can blessing flow unhindered. "The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them." This is glory in heaven and man blessed, but not glory on earth and God blessed. A second time, and the glory of the Father comes to earth, but the place is a high mountain apart, and it rested upon One only man, and a voice came out of it, saying again, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I have found my delight," adding the words, "hear him," to indicate that He by work and word would create all things new in Himself, so that the tabernacle of God might be with men, that He should tabernacle with them, and they be His people, and God Himself with them, their God. A third time the Father spoke from heaven. He had been blessed and glorified in that One man, and would be again glorified in His vindication: but meanwhile that corn of wheat falls into the ground and dies, and in His death brings forth much fruit, that from the mouths of multitudes might glory flow ''to him who loveth them, and washed them from their sins in his blood, making them a kingdom, priests, unto his God and Father;" and they might worship Him, and say," Thou art worthy, our Lord and our God, to receive glory, and honour, and power! Thou hast been slain, and hast redeemed to God by thy blood." "Worthy is the Lamb that has been slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. To him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb, blessing, and honour, and glory, and might be to the ages of ages."

Thus is He that sitteth upon the throne, and the Lamb, blessed and glorified by man in a full outflow of praise: but how comes it thus to pass? The man now raised to the highest pinnacle of glory, the centre of it all, is the One who stooped to the deepest depth of woe, and in that depth was deserted of His God; yet, in the eternal darkness of that forsaken place, while bearing our sins, the wrath and judgment due to them, being made to drink into His soul all the bitterness, made a curse from God for us, made sin for us, pleading our sins while bearing the bruise and wound of each, yet in His body bearing each, until every one had been wiped out from God's sight in His blood for ever; yet in that place of darkness, distance, confusion of face, and unutterable dismay, distress of soul, aversion of God's face, and seeming reversal of His ways, amidst it all He yet trusted in Him. He cried in the day-time, and He was not heard, in the night-season and no reply — forsaken, unhelped, unheard — yet He trusted in the Lord. Never yet had the feeblest creature been so dealt with as now His righteous servant. They that reproached, and the despisers, the mockers, and revilers even said, "He trusted on the Lord," yet God had brought Him into the dust of death. Through light, through dark; by day, by night; in life, in death, He trusted on the Lord; in the days of His flesh, having offered up both supplications and entreaties to Him who was able to save Him out of death, with strong crying and tears.

"He loved righteousness, and hated lawlessness," though it cost His blood, and the forsaking and bruisings of God. "Therefore God, even his God, anointed him with oil of gladness above his companions."

Gladness follows upon righteousness; blessing comes upon grace; gladness is consequent upon righteousness.

"Grace is poured into thy lips, therefore God hath blessed thee for ever." "Thou hast loved righteousness, and hast hated lawlessness, therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with oil of gladness above thy companions." Now is a foundation laid for gladness for ever — laid in blood, laid in righteousness, for a sanctuary in Zion, a tried stone, a sure foundation, that whosoever believeth in Him should not be ashamed.

In truth did the righteous One own Jehovah as His God when all things went against Him. He witnessed for His righteousness, and truth, and grace, even in the dust of death Nor this alone. In three days did He raise up a temple of God for Him to dwell in, a sanctuary, in which men who had fled thereto might render His full due, and worship Him acceptably for ever. How great the contrast to Jacob, the deceitful servant who in fleshly haste had undertaken to do this very thing.

He took the honour of that priestly place uncalled of God, whereas this One has not glorified Himself to be made high priest, but He who had said, "Thou art my Son," says also, "Thou art a priest for ever."

"Jacob took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God, yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed." But this man, before He was conceived in the womb, was called Jesus, since He "should save his people from their sins; was crucified through weakness, that through death he might annul him who has the might of death," "and was tempted in all things in like manner (sin apart) as we:" with Him power is perfected in weakness, and "through sufferings was he made perfect."

"He, in the days of his flesh, having offered up both supplications and entreaties to him who was able to save him out of death, with strong cryings and tears," not for Himself, but that He should "become to all them that obey him the author of eternal salvation;" whereas Jacob wept for himself, and made supplication unto Him for himself, saying, "Deliver me, I pray thee," delivering also into the hand of his servants "every drove by themselves, saying, Pass over before me, and so commanded he the second and the third, and all that followed the droves, saying, Say ye Jacob is behind us." . . . So went the present over before him. And he rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two women-servants, and his eleven sons, and sent them over the brook Jabbok, and Jacob was left alone." Let, all things go, if by any means Jacob lives. If ye seek these, let me go my way. Note the contrast! "Jesus, knowing all things that were coming upon him," went forth, and said, "Whom seek ye? . . . If therefore ye seek me, let these go their way."

Jacob at last is found alone, the first time since that night at Luz, when he vowed the vow. If Jacob is not faithful, God is. If Jacob will not keep his word, God must. If Jacob does not bless God, God will bless him. If Jacob owns not God's new name, God calls Jacob by his new name. But first He must find some point of truth. Man cannot partake in any blessing without the required truth for it to rest on. Is it food? He must have the desire; if not, he abhors all manner of meats. If drink, the thirst to slake goes first, or the fountain of living water is deserted, and broken cisterns, which can hold no water, preferred. If clothing, nakedness must first be known and owned. (Gen. iii. 7 -21.) So a Saviour is for the lost, and cleansing for the filthy, deliverance for the captive, and pardon for the guilty.

If Jehovah is to be revealed and glorified, it can only be in man renewed and redeemed. The proof is that when the old man, Jacob, is brought to a point beyond which God cannot lead him, a pitch of blessing than which a greater cannot be attained, he fails more utterly than ever. Thus God had been with him, fed him, clothed him, kept him, compassed him with a host of angels, and now, wonder of all wonders, has met him face to face; yet Jacob lives, and dares to stand on equal ground with God, and resist Him until the break of day. Is not this ever the course of fleshly man, especially religious man? Was there not "a householder who planted a vineyard, and made a fence round it, and dug a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen . . . . and sent his bondsmen to receive his fruits" — without avail — "and at last he sent to them his son. But the husbandmen, seeing his son, said, This is the heir, come, let us kill him?" Were they not stiff-necked, and uncircumcised in heart and ears, always resisting the Holy Spirit, as their fathers? Thus Jacob fenced off all the strivings of the Lord — in ignorance, surely, and unbelief. The secret place of Jacob's power must be smitten. If hitherto he has prevailed through strength, and boasted in his bands, now he must be taught the Lord's grace suffices, and to boast rather in his weakness, that the power of the Lord may dwell upon him.

Still a merchantman, and bargaining for gain, he seeks blessing only for himself, with mind oblivious of the Lord. But most surely had the time arrived for Jehovah's glory to be considered. "His eternal power and divinity," His creative glory had been fully and completely manifested when "God saw everything that he had made, and behold it was very good" (Gen. i. 1–31); "and God blessed the seventh day."

His glory in irresponsible irrespective grace had been eternally set forth when the Lord God said, "I will put enmity between thee and the woman; between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." (Gen. iii. 1-24.) Now man had undertaken to manifest God's grace and righteousness combined. Not alone was it needful that His hand of power should be recognized, and His heart of love exhibited, but His righteous character declared. Now was the time for man to do it, in order that the Lord might tabernacle in the land among the children of Israel.

So the Lord wrestles for His glory, and Jacob strives for his gain; eye to eye, hand to hand, foot to foot. Jehovah breaks through all Jacob's devices, gets at him face to face, meets scheme with scheme, and trick with counter-check, devising evil against him who devised iniquity, answering a fool according to his folly, in truest grace, but prevails not. The flocks, the herds, the servants, the sons, the wives are searched, but Jacob's idol is not found, for Jacob is not there, and self is the object of his service, not Jehovah. At last alone he is found, the secret of his strength untouched. Unwittingly he was the thief of Laban's teraphim, the spirit of whoredom was in the midst, but now his pride testifies in his face; he knows not Jehovah, is a worshipper of self, as yet an empty vine, bringing forth fruit unto himself.

One thing alone is left to do; "he touched the hollow of his thigh, and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint."

Is the object gained? Does God get the glory sought? "He said, Let me go, for the day breaketh:" the supremely critical moment has arrived. Will Jacob answer to it? No No! What is born of the flesh is flesh, even in death and judgment; and Jacob dares to parley with Jehovah, and to make terms with Him. At the first he had made God's glory to depend upon his blessing, and now he would stake his blessing upon his strength, for he said, "I will not let thee go, except thou bless me" — his vow forgotten, Jehovah's name uncared for, His glory unregarded — Jacob first, and last, and altogether.

The truth is out: man has come short of God's glory, and when all is done, Jacob alone is left. He is true to his name, Jacob, a supplanter, whether it be of his brother's birthright, or of Jehovah's glory. There is this truth at least — he does not deny himself, he owns his name, and on this peg of truth the Lord, who cannot deny Himself, can hang the blessing. As yet he own not Jehovah's name, but this truth he has — he owns his own. "If any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not, he will deliver his soul from going down into the pit." "Every one whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." So here, at the very darkest moment, when all by man is lost, and, as far as he is concerned, the result is irretrievable ruin, a glint of light from God shines athwart the scene, even as says the prophet: "Then shall they cry unto the Lord, but he will not hear them; he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings. Thus saith the Lord . . . . therefore night shall be unto you, that ye shall not have a vision, and it shall be dark unto you, that ye shall not divine, and the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them . . . . But truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the Lord, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin." Just, therefore, as it shall be in the coming time, when, as heretofore, it shall be said, "O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself, but in me is thy help." So, in the narrative before us, when God's loved one (Jacob) has brought himself into the extremity of ruin, having ploughed wickedness, and reaped iniquity, eaten the fruit of lies, because he trusted in his way, and in the greatness of his strength; when it might be said, "Lo-ruhamah," and "Lo-Ammi," then the valley of Achor becomes a door of hope, for thus He said: "Thy name shall be no more called Jacob, but Israel." For in the new-coming man (God's Israel) the mighty one has helped the helpless by the Spirit of the Lord; by the strength of his arm scattering haughty ones, putting down rulers, and exalting the lowly; so that the beggar is raised from the dunghill to the throne of glory, and Jehovah is blessed and tabernacles in the earth. Israel, the chosen servant, the seed of Abraham, shall help the worm Jacob, and glorify Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, the King of Israel.

Thus Jacob, as the witness for Jehovah's name, for ever quits the scene. Self, in every shape, has been his thought from first to last. He has pleaded for himself even when his strength and springs of life were withered with a touch. He has gained his point; for God, having respect to His righteous servant, the root of another race, has reserved His glory till another time. "Jacob asked, and said, Tell, I pray thee, thy name? And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name?" Could He entrust the glories of His name to such a bruised reed? Nay 1 the servant whom He had chosen, His beloved, in whom His soul had found its delight, upon whom He should put His Spirit, alone was fit for such a charge and task as that. Not so such a withered, halting man as Jacob! Not to such smoking flax will He confide the manifesting forth His glory.

Jacob, notwithstanding, gets his blessing, and has his heart's desire, for "He blessed him there."

Henceforth Jacob is a withered man, bearing about in the body the marks of God's judgment. If God gets glory men bear no mark; the smell of fire passes not upon them where faith is.

In the place where God's judgment has been expressed nothing there can harm; no wound is felt when withered by God's touch. The fruit is for men to eat, the root for God to judge: but how blessed is he who knows not only that Another has borne the curse due to eating of the fruit of flesh! Yet did He ever bear fruit to God, doing nothing of Himself, but He nevertheless, to fulfil His Father's will, linked Himself with the chosen doomed to everlasting wrath because of sins, standing in their room and stead, answering to their name, going forth to meet the offended majesty of God. And he knows besides that He in willing grace surrendered step by step, as each requirement of God's will and purpose met His ear, till life's breath was yielded up, the fountain of His blood was laid bare by the Roman's spear; and thus in Him, in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, has the direful, unchangeable, ineradicable root — sin in the flesh — been judged for them for ever. Such is the cross of Christ to faith.

Fruit is first forbidden of the tree of good and evil knowledge; afterwards "flesh with the life," the blood, shall man not eat.

With man in innocence it is God's glory to be the trusted Judge of good and evil: man in wilfulness restrained gives God the glory by counting life the Lord's, and not for self, but to be rendered up as forfeited to Him. Now a further thing is taught, that man's life is not only forfeited, but strengthless for God.

It was forfeited to God before, and man was responsible to recognise God's rights, the sign being that man should not eat flesh with the life thereof. Now God has claimed the strength of man in flesh, for, put to test, he proved unable in righteousness to use it. When God made man his brother's keeper, then man slew him. Therefore life is forfeited that grace may work. The God of glory now calls man in separation and life forfeited; how little learnt this last lesson scripture shows, for scarcely had the horror of great darkness passed away, the smoking furnace and the burning lamp, than Abram leaves resting on the Most High God for an arm of flesh (Gen. xv. 8, 12, 17; Gen. xvi. 2-4), to be His servant in His sanctuary. (Acts vii. 7.)

As it was no given law that Cain should be his brother's keeper, so to be Jehovah's servant in His sanctuary is no law, but according to man's conscience. (Compare Acts vii. 7 and Gen. xxviii. 21, 22.) This task Jacob undertook in self-strength, and utterly bad he failed. God's hand of judgment searches out the spring of mischief, and He finds it in the secret place of Jacob's strength. Thenceforth this is withered. Man eats not of it; urged by his conscience it is set apart for God. The sight of Jacob, from whose loins the twelve tribes of Israel sprang, halting on his thigh, speaks too plainly to be unheeded. So men own the form, but quite deny the power, of the truth, "for the children of Israel eat not of the sinew which shrank, which is upon the hollow of the thigh . . . . because he touched the hollow of Jacob's thigh in the sinew that shrank." The counterpart to this we find in Christendom, in the setting apart of the form of the cross to religious use, but utterly denying the truth of it.

What is the blessed contrast to all this? A man crucified with Christ! Who hung there? Not I, but Christ. He hung upon the tree — the sign of curse, the brand of shame, the mark of perfect evil judged in righteousness — unmingled wrath thoroughly emptied out. The marks of a paid price by which He got right to be Lord of all — by inheritance a more excellent name; in divine title the most excellent. Still, as Son of man He buys Lordship with His blood shed on the cross; and to this the marks of Jesus witness — marks made by the princes of this world, when by the hands of lawless men they crucified and slew Him; but marks, the proof of victory, of the armed strong man overcome, of principalities and powers spoiled — marks that prove Him Lord of living and dead — marks of death and resurrection seen in ascended glory, in the midst of the throne; to be displayed in millennial grace, so that faith which sees shall mourn as though for an only son; and unbelief shall wail because of Him, while enemies are consumed and trampled down, and those who rose against Him made to bow.

What glory to be crucified with Christ! But know that in this cross it was that He became a curse; and the scandal of the cross has not been done away, and brings a curse, a shame, a mock, from those who trust in flesh and persecute because of it. We who glory in the cross may get wounds from men on earth, but before God we bear the brands of Jesus. None can trouble. The withering touch of God's eternal judgment fell on Christ, God gets glory, and the brand to us is one of glory only: no mark of shame, failure, or weakness, of life in flesh forfeited and strengthless, but of life and power, liberty and glory, in the quickening transforming Spirit.

Jacob had a shrunken sinew, for he walked according to flesh, and was blessed there; Paul, the brands of Jesus, walking in the Spirit, and blessed there, for God is glorified in life offered up, and strength in flesh set apart in strengthlessness.

Still the earthen vessel, but the power of God, bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus, that now and ever the life of Jesus may be manifested in the body; truly also delivered unto death on account of Jesus, that Jesus' life may now be manifested in mortal flesh — blessed, not in flesh, but in spirit. He is, it may be, in endurance, in afflictions, in necessities, straits, stripes, prisons, riots, labours, watchings fastings; but is in the Holy Spirit, the power of God, always rejoicing, enriching many, possessing all things. Thus should he be walking, in flesh truly, but not according to flesh; warring according to God, leading captive every thought into the obedience of the Christ.

Does Jacob chide in wrath when Laban feels his stuff, and finds not his stolen gods, saying," Thy rams have I not eaten: that which was torn I bare the loss of it. In the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night . . . . and my sleep departed from my eyes . . . . and thou hast changed my wages ten times?" So another "I" also will boast as in folly. Another servant! One who served in love, for love, not money; announcing God's glad tidings gratuitously; receiving no hire from man for shepherding the flock; in everything, at every time, keeping himself from being a burden, to cut off opportunity from false apostles, deceitful workers, transformed ministers of Satan, who sped themselves, ate the fat, and clothed them with the wool, but fed not the flock: but he instead received stripes in excess, from Jews five times the full tale, forty saving one; was thrice scourged, once stoned; three times suffered shipwreck; passed in the deep a night and day; in perils of rivers, of robbers, from his own race and nations; in city, desert, sea, and among false brethren he spent his spell of service; in labour and toil; in watchings oft; in hunger, thirst, and fastings oft; in cold and nakedness. Thus could he chide with them, denying as they did his title to shepherd them, though giving proof of power from God, love to man, and willingness to be spent utterly.

But more than this: from man had these things come, and so indeed, that through a window in a basket by the wall was he let down; but such a one was caught up into the third heaven, into paradise; and now was given him a thorn for the flesh, a messenger of Satan, that he might buffet him.

Jacob could say, "Ye know that with all my power I have served your father, and your father hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times, and Jacob was wroth, and diode with Laban." Paul can say, "Most gladly therefore will I rather boast in my weaknesses. Wherefore I will take pleasure in weaknesses, in insults, in necessities, in persecutions, in straits," but all "for Christ," not Laban. Not for glory to himself, but for his Lord; not serving for a wife as Jacob, but filling up that which was behind of the tribulations of Christ in his flesh, for His body, the assembly, the bride of Christ. Jealous with a jealousy of God to espouse them unto One Man, to present them a chaste virgin to Christ: not keeping them for himself, not baptizing to perpetuate his own name; herding the flock, but eating not the milk of it; not for a wife, keeping it as Jacob. (Hosea xii. 12).

It needed a prophet to bring Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet was he preserved; but here is more than a prophet, an apostle called of Christ, in whom Christ spoke, proved so in all endurance, signs, and wonders, and works of power. It wanted such a one to bring the flock of Christ from that which was spiritually Sodom and Egypt from Sinai, the place of law. The apostle who brought out the church of God has passed away, but God by His word of grace is able to build up and make wise unto salvation.

Jacob's service led God's flock to Egypt. Moses' message brought them thence, to leave them under law, a sorer bondage; a prophet like to him, a more than Solomon in wisdom, in preaching more than Jonas, stirred up unbelief, to cast aside and crucify the Saviour. An apostle from the great Apostle in God's glory, Jesus of Nazareth, was sent to bring God's scattered children into one. The Son had come from the Father, died on the cross, and went to the Father, that they might be gathered. Now He reveals Himself from heaven to Saul; catches him up into the third heaven (whether in the body or out of the body he cannot tell, God knows), there to reveal unutterable things; gives him a thorn in the flesh, and sends him back to earth to effectuate His purpose.

Besought and urged in such a fashion, by such motives do they own the Spirit's unity? Nay, there are strifes. One says, I am this; another, I am of that; until schism, division, heresy is the universal character of Christendom: souls plunged in deeper sorrow, held in more cruel bondage, bound with heavier gyves, or scattered like sheep without a shepherd. Just as though Christ had never lived, and died, and risen again, nor sent from heaven the Holy Ghost to preach the gospel by the mouth of Paul.

Thus in his flesh he bears a thorn, a messenger of Satan — no messenger of God, as Jacob had. For this he thrice besought the Lord that it might depart from him, without avail. Thrice he prayed in trust and faith, the wish ungranted, that the grace of Christ might rest upon him, and His strength be perfected in His servant's weakness, a weakness such as hindered in the flesh His servant's work; so that, for his Master's sake, he earnestly besought it might depart from him, a pricking brier, a grieving thorn, that made him feel that flesh was there. (Num. xxxiv. 55.) Nor let remain supinely, but which made him feel he had a will apart from his Lord's mind, one minding to serve God, it might be, still of himself, and powerless for good. He needed, therefore, thorough brokenness, since a conscious acting will in man, whether the purpose be for good or ill, springs from revolt, and man born after Adam's likeness only can be used through self set aside, and reckoned dead.

How instructive is the difference in the Son come to do His Father's will; to raise up a temple, to save the world, to gather worshippers of the Father! His very food it was to do His will; it was His comfort, and the strengthening of His soul: sowing work indeed! unto the spilling of His life-blood upon the ground! yet doing nothing from Himself, but whatever He sees the Father doing, doing in like manner. No need of brokenness, since able to do nothing of Himself because of perfect oneness with the Father; yet therefore working everything in perfect self-sufficiency and perfect power; but in the Son's obedient perfectness; Having life and judgment in and from Himself, given of the Father; in power over all to give life and deal out judgment.

He sought not His will, but the Father's that had sent Him; surely Himself doing the work, but works given Him of the Father; doing not His own will, but His that sent Him; casting out or losing nothing He had given Him. For this is His Father's will, that everyone who sees the Son, and believes on Him, should have life eternal, and He will raise him up at the last day. Because of the Father He lived: so they who feed on Him should live because of Him.

Thus by His power, through His Father's will, raising up a temple in Himself; giving His flesh for the life of the world, saving every one given Him of the Father; communicating eternal life, and the Holy Spirit, that they may be spiritual worshippers; and raising them up at the last day, an holy temple in the Lord.

Thrice prayed Jesus, in view of the cup He had to drink. Three aspects did it bear to Him as a man having to do with earthly things. The foremost thought was, "My Father, thy will be done." (Matt. xxvi. 42.) Then came in His will as Son; a will His Father was both able and all-willing should be done, "Abba Father, take away this cup from me." (Mark xiv. 36.) The second view it therefore bore for Him was His will set aside. "Not what I will." But when "in conflict He prayed more intently; and His sweat became as great drops of blood falling down upon the earth" (Luke xxii. 44), it is because these two desires mingle into one. He prays that His will, be it what it may, should be eschewed, the Father's only done; "Father, not my will, but thine be done." (Luke xxii. 42.)

Thrice Paul besought, God's will unknown, it might depart from him, the thorn that found his flesh to rankle in, and made him know that flesh was there — the thorn the object, not the will of God — that which hindered his efficiency, the messenger of Satan sent to buffet him. Thrice Jesus prayed that not His own will, but the Father's, might be done. The cup mixed for others drunk by Him, and taking hold of Him, because it was God's wrath, came in but by the way, though pressed upon Him by the ruler of the world, the wielder of the power of death and darkness. And when, as Son in the Father and the Father in Him, He had poured out the fulness of communion in this oneness, saying, "Those thou hast given me I have guarded, and not one of them is perished" (John xvii. 12); and had drunk in spirit to its dregs, and wrung them out, the cup His Father gave Him, then He goes forth, saying, "I am he! If therefore ye seek Me, let these go their way."

Paul, the faithful steward, thrice besought that the thorn for the flesh might depart from him: in this his will be done. The holy servant Jesus prayed intently three times, fearing the cup, "not My will, Thine be done."

Three times Jacob parleys with the Lord. Three times by craft had lie procured his ends — ends ordered of the Lord. He takes away his brother's birthright, his blessing, and his uncle's herds, but throughout Jacob's prayer is that his will, not God's, be done.

Thrice had Isaac failed to bestow the blessing in its fulness Therefore the Lord brings Jacob out to a certain place, the sun being set, the stones of that place being for his pillow, and in a vision of the night gives him an unstinted meed of blessing. The promise is first, "To thee will I give the land whereon thou liest, and to thy seed." Then is the blessing, "In thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." Thus, comes first the birthright, which is to the heir according to promise, then the blessing which runs in the genealogy; the first dependent for its enjoyment upon faith and patience; the latter absolute, and inseparable from the stock.

See the perfect fruition of this mere seed sown first in Abraham, Gal. iii. 6–14. "In thee all the nations shall be blessed" — blessed with Abraham — his blessing. Here is the blessing first, "justification of life," the absolute blessing running inalienably in the line of the chosen seed; afterwards the promise (Gal. iii. 15–29; Gal. iv. 1–7), the birthright, the inheritance on the principle of promise made, "to thy seed," not to "seeds as of many, but as of one, even Christ;" but "ye all are one in Christ Jesus, but if ye are of Christ, then ye are Abraham's seed, heirs according to promise." Thus the Gentiles being "God's sons by faith in Christ Jesus," and the Jew "redeemed from under law, that he may receive sonship," God sends out the Spirit of His Son into their "hearts, crying Abba, Father."

In the passage now before us God gave Jacob the birthright — the inheritance by promise — and the blessing inalienable in the seed, "in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." Besides, He says, "I am with thee." But Jacob is a merchant, lusting after flesh, desiring to lay up treasure to himself, therefore bargains he with God, and vows a vow; but lust of flesh in hidden energy is the active cause, and bursts forth instantly that flesh is seen. "He looked." What filled his eyes? "A well," "three flocks," Rachel and the sheep of Laban. Hitherto flesh-lust had wrought, coveting the unseen things — the birthright and the blessing: now eye-lust is added, though, perhaps, to Jacob's self unknown. Flesh to the full unfills his lust. Leah, Rachel, at Laban's offer, since suiting Jacob's will; then Bilhah, urged by Rachel, just meeting, it may be, his heart's thought. Lastly, Zilpah, Leah's gift, acceptable to him.

Jacob calls it righteousness, just what he ought to have; but, still unsatisfied, he wanders farther in his crooked paths; in conscious craft he works to take his fill of flesh, and having got it, hastens to depart. But knowing that the balances of deceit are in his hand, he carefully puts from him the thought of God, and — not "Thy will be done" — with chiding claims from man his rights.

But God's grace does not leave him, though he say, "I am become rich; I have found out substance in all my labours; they shall find none iniquity in me that were sin." Yet his God would have him "dwell in Succoth," and know no God but Him, for there is "no Saviour beside him." So the angels of God meet him, and He forces Jacob, by dint of fear, to weep, and make supplication to Him. His own will He had done in providing for himself, though God had wrought it; now he has power over the angel, and prevails to have the blessing in his own way — not God's will and way — moved by the lust of his eyes — the things which are seen. The glory of the unseen God is out of his thought. God had shown truth and mercies to what, a servant? Now he pleads "the mother and the children." Jacob selfish at the bottom! He gets his heart's desire, but is "blessed there." His course runs in God's way, and yet athwart, who smites him not, but withers up his strength — an utter contrast to the steps of Christ! Jacob says in heart, "My will be done," and has his flesh: afterwards his cry is, "Not thy will" — seemingly to get a blessing, really asking that God's will should be set aside. He grants this prayer, and blesses him, but there.

That for which he asks he has. He got the flesh he lusted for, and now he keeps it.

He has provided for his own house, but his conscience tells him God's house has been quite uncared for; left in far-off Luz, a bare stone; and grudging the needed outlay and supply to raise and keep it, therefore necessarily his prayer must be, "Not thy will be done." For this end he is willing to give up the cattle, if that the mother and the children may be spared: but at bottom it is Jacob's self he clings to, for there lies lust of flesh, which says, "My will be done." From thence acts eye-lust, saying, "Not thy will be done."

May we turn aside to see this great sight — a man tempted, and failing not? Also note the perfectness of God's revelation, Matthew sees the beloved Son fulfilling God the Father's will and counsels. God only is set before Him. "My Father, thy will be done." (Matt. xxvi. 42.) Therefore He is carried by the Spirit, as thus not led nor driven, answering the tempter, who by craft opposes God, by bringing God Himself upon the scene, and His spoken will, "Every word which goes out through God's mouth." No lust of flesh is in Him, but as man mere dependence on the will of God. "My Father, thy will be done." Then in order comes trust in God, not flesh working by sight, not hankering to see some acknowledgment from God that He was with Him. His voice and word had been enough — not tempting God, however plausibly, by saying, "Is the Lord among us or not?" (Ex. xvii. 7.)

The words, "to keep thee" (Luke vi. 10), are left out here. They passed His ear unheeded, as this cry filled His soul, "My Father, thy will be done."

In due place the third temptation, pride of life, proceeds. The two last show the evil one unveiled, and Jesus, with the will of God alone in view, is taken by him — thus not led; a very high mountain is the place; the kingdoms of the world and their glory the scene; and these are more looked at as connected with the will of God — more the systems than the men composing them. Filled thus with God's mind, and God's will before Him, instantly the wrath of Jesus flames forth on the foe. "Get thee away, Satan."

Turn now to Mark 1, all here is active energy. The Spirit drives him out — "Abba, Father, not what I will." Amazed, oppressed in spirit, and His soul soon full of grief — one long outlook to the end — one long prayer that His will, good, holy, and acceptable, should not be willed, but God's. Self, divinely perfect, set aside — all touching only self unnoted, He is a servant only: no pride of life.

Luke now claims attention. "Father, not my will, thine be done," is here His thought; and by the Spirit He is led to meet the unveiled devil with whom He had to cope, who, if departing from him for a time, would come again in the power of darkness, so that the whole land and the sun should be darkened. So the devil Jesus answered, and we find the word of God man's life: man, even the Son of man, on God depending, not on what flesh desires. Nay, even "Not my will." Therefore follows the further truth, "Father, thy will be done." No pride of life. Led up as a man into a high mountain, shown the kingdoms of the habitable world in a moment of time; all that could captivate or seduce a man, offered Him then and there, for whom all things were made. In the calmness of His prayer, "Father, thy will be done," He says, "It is written, Thou shalt do homage to the Lord thy God." Now, as a man to go forth with the prayer upon His lips, "Father, not my will, thine be done," He asked not to see aught as proof that God would keep Him. God was with Him of a truth. He will not tempt the Lord. No lust of eyes was in Him.

John gives us the One come from the Father, going to the Father, glorifying Him upon the earth, completing the work given Him to do. Therefore the circumstances falling by the way are unrecorded. The meeting wile, with word at the onset, and power with prayer at its close, have no place. It is the Word who is God, the only-begotten Son, declaring God His Father, giving signs on earth, but eternal life and Spirit for heavenly worshippers.

We have seen the lust of the flesh in Jacob — as a merchant bargaining to get it filled. "If God will, I will." Also the lust of the eyes, by which flesh acts. He seeks, by holding deceitful balances, to get and keep his gain. "I am become two bands . . . . deliver me the mother and the children. . . Thou saidst, I will surely do thee good." Whether first or last, it is Jacob still, and eye-lust working. "He lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, Esau." So Jacob acts as guided by his eyes, and settles his surroundings by himself, not the Lord his centre; "he put first the hand-maid and their children foremost, Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph hindermost, and he went first," and bowed himself to the ground seven times, forgetful of the word of God and the blessing he had schemed to get.

How God delights to own an act of grace! The merest fragment of that work which He had seen was very good and blessed! Would God-manifest-in-flesh illustrate perfectly the grace of God the Father? These very words He chooses to reveal the workings of His heart. "He ran, fell on his neck, and covered him with kisses."

But see the reason why the Spirit draws attention to this scene! Where was Esau's action like to God's? or Jacob's as the conscience-stricken sinner born of Adam? Is it not in this that, as the prodigal had thought to win his father's favour by fair words, it was the goings forth of self-born love, long ere a whisper could have reached his ear of good or ill, that moved the father with compassion, seeing his wretched son a great way off? Thus Jacob, vainly puffed up by a fleshly mind, a man independent, has no understanding of free grace in God nor man, but counts himself a power in himself before God, and able to do something, even though it were only to own Jehovah his God, to make a stone His house, and of what He gave to render back a tenth. As to man, supplanted and deceived, he cannot credit him with grace. Wrong thoughts of God so thoroughly had warped his mind, that nature even he cannot rightly judge. In order to begin aright in heart, or mind, or act, one must be right with God.

Just see how vain are Jacob's plans to buy a pardon with a present! Yet perhaps he claims the honour of the happy issue. Jacob said, "I will appease him with a present." . . . . "I have sent to tell my lord that I may find grace in thy sight." But Esau had not even seen the women-servants and men-servants, or flocks, and asses, and oxen, until he had wept upon his brother's neck, and then "he lifted up his eyes, and saw the women and children, and said, Who are these?" and as to the droves, he knew not what it meant till Jacob told him, and then he took it not as price of pardon, but as Jacob's blessing.

The same principles are shown, whether in a fragment of nature ruined, yet bearing the stamp of God's creation, or in Godhead manifested, grace, free, full, unbought, unfettered, springing from itself, which works to satisfy itself in blessing others, measuring the blessing by itself, not the object.

We have seen the self-existent Man depending wholly, and the "one" who lived by a life supplied from God unsubject. The One had said, "My Father, thy will be done;" the other, "Give me my wife." Now we enter on another stage. That One had said," Abba, Father, not what I will: this one says in heart, "Not what Thou wilt." The Lord said unto Jacob, "Return unto the land of thy fathers;" and Jacob had even dreamt that God had said, "Return unto the land of thy kindred;" and had he not "risen up to go to Isaac his father;" and to Esau he affirmed, "I come unto my lord to Seir." But what does he? "Jacob came to Shalem and pitched his tent before the city," and even buys a parcel of a field where he had spread his tent at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem's father, for an hundred lambs. (See margin.)

Notice here, this was no sepulchre bought for a sum of money; it was Abraham alone did thus. Jacob buys a place to live in, purchasing from man God's gift to him; even as before he got by craft God's gift of grace and Isaac's blessing; giving up the rights of God, indeed denying them, in order to repurchase for himself.

"Machpelah before Mamre, the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan, and the field and the cave that is therein, did Abraham buy for four hundred shekels of silver for a possession of a burying-place of the sons of Heth;" standing for the rights of God, owning his rights in God; owning indeed the curse and the children of it, and the title they had under it, according to the word, "cursed be Canaan." As a burying place to Canaan it belonged; for such a purpose a possession must be bought. But if to live in, then the land belongs to Abraham as lord; for so the word by Noah had been spoken, "Canaan shall be his servant." Abraham buys a place to bury in, and lives in it. Jacob bargains for a parcel of a field to live in, and it becomes a place of judgment, death and burial.

How divinely accurate the scriptures! When Jacob in his faith is looked at, and to faith is standing for the fathers, then it tells how they were "placed in the sepulchre which Abraham bought for a sum of money." But if the faith of Joseph fix the eye of the believer, then in him the scripture says, "Our fathers were carried over to Sychem . . . . of the sons of Emmor, the father of Sychem." No mention of a sepulchre, nor purchase; for to faith, however many lambs might be the price, "the portion Jacob took out of the hand of the Amorite with his sword and with his bow."

Wondrous are the ways of God! That which man will not do in fellowship with Him, He does perforce; while faith denies man's deed and owns God's work. Genesis xlviii. 22.

Why does God confirm the outcome of an act of fierce anger, cruel wrath, that brings a curse? Because if not, His way in grace might be impugned. Man in nature has no rights, for life and strength are forfeited to God. Blessing flows from grace; right comes by faith to man. If anything is due to him, it is wrath alone: else were grace set aside. So when God's man, Jacob, holds as valid the title of the world, God, that He may bring grace in truth, must own it too. Thence comes the Passover in Egypt, the sprinkling of the blood: the cross of Christ, and the archangel's voice.

Thus is Jacob all things to all men, if by any means he might profit himself; willing enough to return to the land of his kindred, but not to his kindred as God had said; for between him and them stood the place of sacrifice and obedience to God. (Gen. xxxi. 3, 11, 12.) Knowing God's will, if told to do whatever He had said. To Esau he replied, "I come to Seir."

God's long-suffering leaves him not until the utmost bounds are overstepped. Succoth is in the path of God though its limit. Still can He deal in grace. Jacob is not yet the die cast before the eyes of men, by which the beauty of God's moral ways should be esteemed, therefore He can bless. And "Jacob built him an house, and made booths for his cattle" in peace. A stranger, still unknown of men — "few men in number, yea, very few, and strangers in it "— but holding to the everlasting covenant of God. "Therefore He suffered no man to do them wrong; yea, He reproved kings for their sake, saying, Touch not my anointed, and do my prophets no harm."

Man's ways, how low and grovelling! God's way is one of grace and faithfulness — glorious in holiness. "He desired mercy and not sacrifice;" but Jacob, like Adam, transgressed the covenant — the everlasting covenant. God said unto Abraham, "I will give unto thee and to thy seed the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession." To Jacob Jehovah said, "The land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed." If Esau despised his birthright, Jacob bartered God's rights for a portion and peace with the Canaanites," dealing treachery against the Lord."

Were it possible, he as heir, had cut off the entail for ever from himself and seed, since he parted with his right as God's heir, that he might hold in his own right, grounded on the title of the Canaanite.

Thus he passed over from the paths of God into the way of Cain, who loved honour and slew his brother; who, out from the presence of Jehovah, "dwelt in the land of Nod — wandering . . . . and builded a city, and called the name of the city after the name of his son Enoch "— dedicated — owning God in independence. So Jacob, moved by a fleshly mind, stands in God's land, not in independence only, but defection, wrapping it up withal under the cover of Israel's God; for when "he bought a parcel of a field . . . . of the hand of the children of Hamor," "he erected there an altar, and called it El-elohe-Israel." But there was no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God, but soon to be instead, swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery; thus breaking out, and blood touching blood, because they had left off to take heed to the Lord. Jacob is his name, but the Lord will plead with Israel, for He hath a controversy with His people.

Will he not know Jehovah's righteousness? What had He done to him? Brought out of Padan Aram, redeemed from the house of servants; for according to God's reckoning, not Jacob's righteousness, was Laban forced to give him wages (Gen. xxx. 33; Gen. xxxi. 10–13); by His angel brought out, remember now, O Jacob, what the Syrian Laban had consulted, and God had answered him, "Take heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad!"

Forced thus to take Jehovah's ground, and act in grace, now Laban seeks a string in his own heart which even Jacob's hand can harp upon; self-seeking, rash and wrathful Jacob.

Has Jacob daughters? Laban says, "my daughters." Children? "My children." Cattle? "My cattle." "All that thou seest," Laban says, "is mine." This is Jehovah's righteousness. His way of grace He takes His springs of action from Himself, blinding as it were, His eyes to all the object is, He gives a gift and blesses the receiver for the gift's sake, since the gift is of Himself.

Not this alone. He takes the gifted one out from his old place and gives him a new standing where all things are of God.

Jehovah follows him from Mizpah unto Peniel, meets him there, and wrestling, withers him, so that no more Jacob is his name, but Israel; and He blessed him there in the name and place of God's appointment.

See the counterpart of this in Israel's history. Jehovah gives a gift, His presence and a king, when prophet, priest, and handmaid of the Lord had failed, been set aside as instruments of power. Then God uses money-loving, lust-tempting Balaam, to unveil the vision of the Almighty, take up his parable, and declare not only that the righteous rise again, but God, beholding His own gift, sees no iniquity in Jacob, neither hath He seen perverseness in Israel.

But more than this, God narrows up His circling glories nearer to Himself. Jacob, placed in kinship with his God, is drawn by every eddying wave of grace closer to the centre all things tend to and evolve from. Nothing now against him as Jacob, elect of God, redeemed; all things also for him, as God's new man Israel; washed from the old, and as new set apart for God — His workmanship. But nearer still! rapt into that which is itself divine; sanctified, accepted, graced as a beloved who can give a blessing; once hated as a supplanter, now goodly as the trees of lign aloes which the Lord hath planted, and as cedar trees beside the waters, blessing those that bless him, because in him is One, a gift of God, who shall come a star out of Jacob, a sceptre rising out of Israel.

Thus Esau, moved by sovereign grace, his circumstances being ruled of God that he may act His part, himself unwitting, sets forth God-like grace. His love wells over on the neck of him once hated as a cheat and liar! Why? "I have enough, my brother." My soul is satisfied, and can run over in a shoreless stream. The glut of blessing is so great that mere relief, a thing on which it may be poured, is in itself a blessing. What odds how deep, how wide, nay, bottomless the pit! — a Jacob! So much the better! Its emptiness, its fitness, and the very wages of its worthlessness become a blessing and its means.

This is Jehovah's righteousness, will he not know it?

The fount of love, out-gushing from the depths of God, flows from above, burst up from the fathomless abyss, and in divine all-filling fulness floats frail Jacob, fragrant in its fragrance, back into God Himself.

But there, what is that flood? Water from a Saviour's side on Calvary! Water in the word by Jesus used in glory in the Father's house! A sea of glass like crystal before the throne! God is love and light, and all swept onward unto Him by its almighty tide must be thus in it: on earth by faith.

Jacob chosen, wrought of God, and planted; washed, sanctified, and justified; redeemed and graced; knowing Jehovah's righteousness, must judge and cleanse himself and walk in light.

At Peniel God accepted him; at Succoth he built booths, but he remembers not, and therefore knows not Jehovah's righteousness. Slipping clean out of God's paths, giving up God's right, "For Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan . . . . pitched his tent before the city; and he bought a parcel of a field, where he had spread his tent . . . . and he erected him an altar, and called it El-elohe-Israel.

"Wherewith shall I come before Jehovah, or bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before Him with burnt-offerings, with calves of a year old? While there are yet the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked 1" Jehovah's voice cries, "Shall I count them pure with wicked balances? For they are full of violence, have spoken lies, and in their mouth they have a deceitful tongue."

He is a merchant buying the gifts of God of Luz; at Mahanaim he holds the balances of deceit, at Peniel he loveth to oppress.

How sad! how solemn! Tremble now before the Lord! Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with thy God! Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy, break up your fallow ground.

Unright with God, unrighteous towards men. The smallest seed of flesh which turns from God's grace, branches out till fruitful with widespread misery. "They covet fields and take by violence, and houses, and take them away; so they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage;" the while ye have an altar, El-elohe-Israel.

Now is God's ground of government at stake, and Jacob must be forced to loose his grasp and quit his purchase. "Is the Spirit of Jehovah straitened? Are these His doings? Do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly? Ye pull off the robe from them that pass by securely as men averse from war. The women of my people have ye cast out from their pleasant houses." "I desired mercy, not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings;" but ye not only smite them that are sore and heal them not, nor restore those that are out of the way, but also cut off from the blessings of the land those in possession, who have God's covenant. Matt. x. 13; Matt. xi. 7.

The little leaven kneaded with the dough, and left to work unseen; unjudged in the fire of God's light and love, should, but for grace, soon leaven all the lump, and their own heart become an oven, hot and burning as a flaming fire, to devour them all. "Jacob, he bath mixed himself among the people, he is a cake not turned, half Shechemite, half Israelite, half judged, the other half untouched by fire." He begged for flesh, has got it, kept it for himself. Corrupted is it? Arise ye and depart, for this is not your rest: because it is polluted, it shall destroy you. Jacob in the land is seemingly for God, but really in revolt and joined to the usurper. So judgment, not of faith, but from the Lord must come, lest he should be polluted with his rest. "And Dinah . . . . went out to see the daughters of the land, and Shechem saw her, and took her and defiled her, and his soul clave unto Dinah, he loved the damsel and spake kindly unto the damsel."

You begged to have your blessing in your hand! How have you kept it? You gathered all together, now you dissipate it! You join yourselves to the citizens of that country now, as it were, you feed their swine, and, worse than all, you long to fill your belly with the husks the swine are eating.

At Peniel thou saidst, "Give me the share that falls to me." At Shechem thou dost buy a field, and Dinah is defiled by Shechem; thy sons by deceit, and Simeon and Levi — instruments of cruelty, fierce anger, and cruel wrath — are cursed: and thou dost hold thy peace! Thou art a silly dove without heart!

Woe unto them, for they have fled from me! They have transgressed against me . . . . I will change their glory unto shame! I will punish them for their ways and reward them for their doings!

So at another time, "when Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor Jehovah said unto Moses, "Take all the heads of the people and hang them up before Jehovah against the sun." "So here was folly wrought in Israel . . . . which ought not to have been done" — matter of grief and wrath — a horrible thing in Israel. "Israel is defiled and Jacob holds his peace. Wail and howl; go stripped and naked; for the beginning of the sin, the transgressions of Israel were found in thee."

In crafty malice, lust of gain, do Israel's sons give men God's title to possess the land, and he, who counted it so worthless as to found his tenure on another's rights, would little scruple to barter circumcision, the reproach of Christ, separation from the world of the ungodly, the seal of faith, the sign of God's inheritance, for treasure in the world.

Unlike the One who came from God, found in the world a treasure, alienate, sold away through sin, held of right in the usurper's hand, and for the joy of it goes and sells all whatever He has and buys the right to all.

These despise the cross, the reproach of the circumcision, and have to endure the shame. These cut off from grace, thus bringing into judgment, the men averse from war, the women and their children, therefore they shall not dwell in Jehovah's land, but shall return to Egypt. Egypt shall gather them, Memphis shall bury them. The days of visitation, the days of recompense are come! Israel is swallowed up now; but know Jehovah's thought, and understand His counsel. Yet will He bring an heir unto thee, who shall go before them to preserve their souls.

"When they were sore, two of the sons of Jacob: Simeon and Levi, Dinah's brethren, took each man his sword and came upon the city boldly, and slew all the males, and they slew Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword . . . . The sons of Jacob came upon the slain and spoiled the city . . . . they took their sheep, and their oxen, and their asses, and that which was in the city, and that which was in the field, and all their wealth, and all their little ones, and their wives, and spoiled even all that was in the house," and Jacob "holds his peace."

Firstly, giving up God's right for gain, he now denies the validity of His title. But this, because he has himself in view. So setting self between his eye and God, it is all as though there were no God. Simeon and Levi say, "Should he deal with our sister as with an harlot?" making her honour cover their covetousness. At least is Jacob honest, for he says, "Ye have troubled me to make me to stink . . . . and I shall be destroyed; I and my house."

Jehovah's name at Peniel, unsaid, unknown, that Jacob may be blessed there. At Shechem, heritage of God, His portion, God's title is ignored. Knowledge is rejected. "He will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to Him." Though God's name and portion are there set aside, yet He holds His peace, that grace in blessing may go out to Jacob.

One only hope is left in this extremity. All Jacob has is lost in principle; God's title to the whole land set aside, Shechem's right quite blotted out by blood. Jacob holds by force that only which he stands upon, and he but "few in number," ready to perish.

To Jacob, had the promise been without condition, "The land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it." If Jacob cannot stand where he has striven, will he lie where God has given? Will he take a place of thorough nothingness? At Peniel with a touch God withered up his strength: let faith lie down at Bethel helpless.

A place of stones which Jacob owned as God's, the house of God, the gate of heaven, where the ladder was set up on the earth, and Jehovah stood above, unfolding all his mercy. "To thee and to thy seed . . . . in thee and in thy seed . . . . I am with thee, and will keep thee, and will bring thee again into this land . . .. and Jacob was afraid."

It was in Jehovah's mind to take out Jacob for Himself, in Jacob's to get back to his father's house in peace.

At Bethel all may be retrieved. Impossible with man, with God all things are possible. Let but His right be owned, though to a place to lie on, and a stone set for a house, yet Jehovah can stand above, and, in the name and place of His appointment, have His house, His portion, and a priest.

Will faith triumph and grace be understood? Then Israel shall be the priest, Bethel the house, praise God's portion.

And God said unto Jacob, "Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there, and make there an altar unto God that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother." Jacob then was not two bands, but a man with nothing rightly of his own, and him asleep. Brought out from his kindred and his father's house, where God's blessing rested, that he might be set apart by God, fitted for his priest and sent back from Jehovah in new place, and power, and appointment.

To him God comes in all embracing grace, setting him in this, his nothingness, within the glorious flood of the divine purpose and action. This place must he recognise again; no longer nothing in the helplessness of sleep, but nothing in the testing blast of Jehovah's face; not only motionless but moveless.

It was Abraham's faith to come from Mesopotamia and keep in Canaan. It was Jacob's faith to abide at Bethel whilst Jehovah's plans matured, building there an altar as in the van of God's witnesses; if flesh will wander, God covenants to give preserving grace, till from that base in faith, and with God's power, he conquer all the land.

Deplorable indeed is his return! The strange gods which were in their hand, and the earrings which were in their ears, Jacob hides under the oak which was by Shechem, "And they journeyed." Filled with ill-gotten gains, they go with their flocks and herds to seek the Lord; but they shall not find Him, He having withdrawn Himself from them. They have dealt treacherously against the Lord; for Jacob has forestalled his portion in God's inheritance and lost it, has sacrificed God's rights to propitiate the world, and foolishly earned their hatred, having staked God's covenant in pledge of peace and amity, and it was forfeited.

One spot alone was then left; this deserted, all was lost to Jacob. It was dedicated by him to the Lord if He fulfilled His promise. Hitherto this had been kept, and would be to the end, ever therefore must it be the Lord's.

This is Jehovah's grace, His righteousness. Remember now, O Israel, that you may know it. In this parcel of a field secured eternally by every right of God and man, bound ever and for ever unto God, unloseable, God's grace, Jehovah's righteousness gives Jacob an abiding place and portion to possess.

Is this God's strange work? Nay! ever acts He thus; Bethel, Gilgal, Calvary each tell the tale.

At Shalem Jacob mixes himself among the people. God will change their glory into shame; testify the pride of Israel to his face, hanging his dishonour in the light, for He had seen a horrible thing; Israel is defiled and knows it not. This is in grace.

At Shechem flesh is brought by fraud and force to Israel, and God in grace and truth by word and power forces Jacob to depart; blotting out transgression and unpardonable guilt with blood, shed by the cruel hands of lawless men, making thus atonement.

Will Jacob know God's reckoning, and put away all witness of the deed in zeal for Him? Nay! Jacob judges Laban's gods and says, "Be clean and change your garments;" but holds with itching palm unrighteous gains. He may hide the strange gods and their earrings under the oak which was by Shechem: but they go with flocks and herds to seek the Lord.

In grace and righteousness Jehovah will go and return to His place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek His face. Will Jacob take this two days' journey from the place of death to life, and life in resurrection on the third day?

See Israel going out to join with flesh at Baalpeor; and Jehovah said to Moses, "Hang them up before the Lord against the sun." Then Zimri brings flesh in unto his brethren in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation; and Phineas rose up, and took a javelin, and went into the tent, and thrust both of them through. "He was jealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel." Covering up their sin with blood, and turning away His wrath by atonement.

Gilgal corresponds to Bethel: there Jehovah rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off them — blessed grace — this is His righteousness! Will not Israel trust Jehovah? If a Moses judge, he must hang them up; if a Phineas, they must be smitten through; but if Jehovah judge, and Israel is in faith, a Joshua circumcises them, and they abide there until they are whole.

Again, if Israel is defiled among the people, and his two sons take up judgment, the defilement must be met by the defiler's blood. If defilement is brought to Jacob, and he has zeal for God, his household must not only put away the strange gods, and be clean, and change their garments, but, as a man responsible to God, he must be swept from off the land. "Arise ye, and depart, for this is not your rest, because it is polluted." "Thou shalt have none that shall cast a cord by lot in the congregation of the Lord."

But grace has one resource still left. Let but Jehovah judge! He will sweep Jacob as such off the scene, but in the new man, Israel, invest him with His title in new standing altogether. "Remember now! that ye may know the righteousness of the Lord." "Arise, go up to Bethel, and make THERE an altar unto God that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother." May it not he said that God gives up His portion that Jacob may be blessed? If Jacob in simplicity obeys, all that God promised him at first, may even now be taken up in God's right, if he will go back in heart and mind to that time; but Jehovah's name cannot be made known till God's new man comes upon the scene.

Will Jacob then remember and know the goodness and long-suffering of God? Nay, he comes far short of God's thought and his own blessing, for he says, "I will make there an altar unto God who answered me in the day of my distress." He owns the God who delivered Jacob and his bands at Peniel, and blessed him there; not alone allowing willingly the hiding of Jehovah's name, but alike indifferent to his new name in which the secret of his blessing lay.

When was the day of his distress? Not Luz, but Jabbok. God would recall Bethel to his mind; Jacob's thoughts turn back to Peniel. Jehovah poured out grace at Bethel, but at Peniel Jacob sought for, and by power procured a blessing after his own mind. The God of glory he pares down in thought to such an one who was with him in the way which he went — a crooked way, a transgressing way indeed.

Jacob clings to his experience, not God's word. God cleaves to His word, and is not bound by Jacob's conscience. If, in blind unbelief, flesh wrests the word, yet it fails not. To faith and doubtless deep in Jacob's heart, seen but by God, the knowledge lay, that at Peniel, it was no fleeing from, but going forth, to meet his brother Esau; though swayed by feelings, Jacob says, Peniel was the day of my distress, wherein I fled from Esau's face. But when he builds his altar, calling it El-bethel, God stamps it as the place where he appeared unto him when he fled from the face of his brother. Jacob's thought was on the time of his experience, God's on the place of His appointment.

But once again, now fixed forever, Jacob prevails to have his way; and lo! the place which should have been the house of God becomes an oak of weeping.

All, all had failed, and Jacob's vow was unperformed in any item. In spite of Peniel and Bethel, not one jot of Jacob's word had come to pass. Jehovah was not owned as his God; the stone set for a pillar was not made God's house; and a tenth of God's gifts were not given Him.

Unknown it might be, yet Jehovah was his God, though he may call the place "God, the God of Bethel." He might build the altar and forget the house, but God had His house, and if a tenth of God's gifts is in question, He will not deny His rights, He will take it.

Jehovah can wait, but who can resist His will? If Jacob will not do, another must; perchance a Moses or a greater still.

And now ere Jacob is definitively fixed in the place of his ultimate attainment, Deborah dies — the proof of Jehovah's faithfulness, the lightest touch of that strong hand which should bereave them of their children, and cast them away because they will not hearken, and make them wanderers among the nations.

They have returned, but not to the Most High: they are like a deceitful bow, it starts aside, and wounds the hand that bends it. They cry, "We know Thee," but have transgressed against His covenant. Jehovah accepteth them not, now will He remember their iniquity and visit their sins, they shall go into Egypt.

Jehovah's name unknown; His house disregarded; His portion uncared for; His covenant transgressed can aught remain? Yes, Jacob.

Jehovah's blessing in abeyance — His new name unrevealed.

Abraham's blessing intermittent, God's everlasting covenant, "In thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed."

Jacob's blessing spent, "I am with thee and will keep thee, and will bring thee again unto this land; I will not leave thee until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of."

Into this land, this very spot, he has returned with what result! To Bethel he has come again, Jehovah he knows not. The stone set up as God's house marks no point for him. To Lim it is all one with Shalem, So El-bethel is but Allon-bachuth — no gate of heaven, but an oak of weeping.

God's eternal counsels never fail. Driven back by unbelief into Himself while fixing Jacob in his place on earth, as Jacob a supplanter (" Thy name is Jacob"), He hangs His purposes, even as to Jacob's promises — the birthright with a mess of pottage bought — upon the new man Israel: "Thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name, and He called his name Israel." "Be fruitful and multiply, a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins, and the laud which I gave Abraham and Isaac to thee will I give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land." The blessing forfeited for ever from Israel; the promise, the birthright only left; but He, the Heir who takes it up, responsible and able to maintain, is He whom God has separated from His brethren that He may be also the depositary of the blessing.

At the outset Jacob had been found as grapes in the wilderness; as the first-ripe in the fig-tree at her first time, the object of God's redemption and regard. He went to Shalem, separated himself unto that shame, and their abominations were according as they loved. But all their wickedness, the climax and sum total, is in Bethel; there it finds its full fruition. The last resource of God for Jacob fails, and blessing is no longer possible; therefore then He hated them. Bethel should have been a place of blessing, but he found there Jacob still; therefore will He drive them out of His house, He will love them no more, and at Bethel there begins destruction and the curse.

Jacob is cast away, but God will call His son Israel, the new man out of Egypt. As Jacob is passed over, no longer in God's reckoning as holding Canaan in fief, and Israel in faith, God's Israel, is alone in view in this promise, so God went up from him in the place where He talked with him, never more to own him in His record, whilst in the land of Canaan, until by faith he goes out to God's separated man in Egypt. All is now lost for Jacob as such; he may set up a pillar, a pillar of stone, preface his act of worship with an offering of thanksgiving, and call the name of the place where God spake with him, Bethel, but it goes for naught; he has no heart, and God no grace, until in Egypt he shall find his forerunner, God's Heir.

Therefore shall they be as the morning cloud, and as the early dew that passeth away; as the chaff that is driven with the whirlwind out of the floor; and as the smoke out of the chimney. Yet is Jehovah his God; he shall know Him, for there is no Saviour but Him.

He had respect to Jacob in a place of stones, a land of drought, and led him into pasture; but with God's provision Jacob filled himself, taking his ease, eating, drinking, and making merry; was not rich towards Him, forgetting Him; therefore was He to them as a lion, a leopard watching by the way, as a bereaved bear, meeting them to rend their heart's caul.

If Israel hath destroyed himself and the Lord's voice crieth, yet in Him is help, and the man of wisdom sees His name, hears the rod, and who hath appointed it. What is the path of faith for those who are the little flock when all things earthly fail? Seek ye the kingdom of God; provide yourselves a treasure in the heavens which faileth not; for God who clothes the grass will keep you; and the Father will give you the kingdom: since He who comes to cast a fire on the earth, and has already kindled it, though haply but a feeble flicker, a Deborah dying, He (a greater than Joseph, though like to Him) is Himself baptized with a baptism of death, a fire of judgment (Jonas being the sign as plainly as a western cloud foretells a shower, or a south wind heat), to deliver from hell those who hear the word of God and keep it. Them will He ransom from the power of the grave, He will redeem them from death. O death! He will be thy plagues. O grave! He will be thy destruction.

And in the new covenant in His blood all shall not only be retrieved, but in Him the last Adam, the second Man, death has been swallowed up in victory; for the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin, the law, but thanks to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

So if it be the assembly which is His body, or those who shall fill up the number of His elect at His coming, or Israel restored, it is through the blood, and in the resurrection life and power of Him who came to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, and in grace and power will first bring perfectly into possession those who had no promise of an earthly portion, and were not responsible to Him in it, and by the same grace will thereafter introduce as heir of heavenly blessing those who wilfully have forfeited their earthly birthright; and not only so, but relinquish it when brought to them in God's title.

"They journeyed from Bethel!" Sad sentence! The climax of their course of pride, the final turning off from mercy; hitherto had grace lingered, now they are cast off for ever! The limit of longsuffering is reached and overpassed; no help remains; no longer Canaan, but Egypt is their lot. All lost! for ever lost! darkness closes o'er the scene. Woe! woe unalterable is fixed eternally! "Journeyed from Bethel!" A fleeing from the face of God, hiding from Him; a damming out the source of blessing from his soul has marked the course of Jacob from the first; setting a stone, his wives, his herds, a heap, his bands, a stream, a parcel of a field, an altar between his soul and God. And now the end has come; a second time the sentence has gone forth, "journeyed from Bethel." Surely the record of the Spirit states the fact, it may be, with groans that cannot be uttered. "Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which satisfieth not?"

Jacob, as a witness for Jehovah's name, is blotted out. As priest, and raiser of Jehovah's house, is passed away. As worshipper, to render Him His due, is cast aside.

"Journeyed from Bethel," and Jehovah's soul uusatisfied! "Woe is me, for I am as when they have gathered the summer fruits, as the grape gleanings of the vintage, there is no cluster to eat, my soul desired the first ripe fruit." When helpless, at the first time, in the wilderness, He had found Israel like grapes, as the first ripe in the fig-tree; but now the best of them is as a briar, the most upright is sharper than a thorn-hedge. The day of thy visitation cometh, now shall be their perplexity.

"And they journeyed from Bethel, and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath." Israel hath forgotten, but God remembers, not only all their wickedness, so that their own doings have beset them about, and the sorrows of a travailing woman have come upon him, but in divine grace, though the place which should have been the beginning of his fruitfulness and strength, becomes a monument of his affliction, yet He who remembered the barren woman to give her a son, also will remember in that day the faith that counted on Jehovah's boundless power and goodwill, saying, "The Lord shall add to me another son."

Thus unconscious faith prophesies of grace, and Jehovah's way in rolling away reproach, by giving in a son life, deliverance, and power.

Jehovah remembers His own counsels, and hearkens to the voice of prayer. He sees the ways of men, and acts accordingly. Faith trusts the Lord, but Rachel has to learn that in resurrection only is there life and power — that for nature must a voice "be heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping" — "weeping for her children, and no comfort, because they are not." Yet, thus saith the Lord, Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears, for in the power of Him who is in resurrection "shall they come again from the land of the enemy;" and there is hope in the after time.

If Benjamin bear rule, it must be in the power of Joseph, rejected, delivered up, exalted, and he must in the meanwhile be a son of sorrow. The birthright in abeyance, even the promise of inheritance, but the blessing shall be bestowed in the person of the man He sent before them; who was sold for a servant; whose feet they hurt with fetters — he was laid in iron until the time that his word came — the word of the Lord tried him.

Israel must also come into Egypt, and Jacob sojourn in the land of Ham.

Jehovah reckons nothing till Joseph come to Egypt; faith then can follow, and God meet Jacob on the ground of mercy. A son of sorrow on the way to Egypt, yet a Joseph there to be exalted, so that all should bow the knee, and the saviour of the world, while Rachel wept; but to be called out of Egypt a son of power, though little, yet a ruler.

But at that time they shall not go from Bethlehem to Edar, but from Edar to Bethlehem (Micah 4:8; Micah 5:2), and the first dominion shall come to the Tower of the flock, the strength of the daughter of Zion, the daughter of Jerusalem.

Meanwhile the daughter of Zion shall be in pain and labour to bring forth, like a woman in travail; for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go to Babylon, and there shalt thou he delivered, there the Lord shall redeem thee. But thou Bethlehem Ephratah, thou art little! out of thee shall He come forth to me that is to be ruler in Israel.

Therefore the first dominion shall come to Judah's remnant, scattered as a flock without a shepherd, but when gathered, though but few, and shepherded, then shall the horn be iron, and the hoof brass, and they shall beat in pieces many peoples.

When using power falsely, Judah smites the Judge of Israel on the cheek; therefore, till He, the everlasting One, takes up the government, they shall be given up: but when out of their travail He comes forth in manifested power as Head of Israel, the whole nation shall be owned, and all Israel be saved.

"And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem, and Jacob set a pillar upon her grave." From her came forth the son who carried into Egypt, was made ruler there — and thence Jacob's power begins — while the godly remnant mourns, as from the grave of Israel's hope, because her children are not; and the place which should have been the starting-point of every blessing becomes a grave. Thus is Israel's history, as God's witness, bound betwixt two pillars; the first securing to him, unwitting, Laban's gods; the last marking the place where she, who in ignorance and natural religion had hid them — the poor of the flock — passes from connection with Israel for ever, until the son called out from Egypt comes up in the power of resurrection, and the son of sorrow becomes the son of the right hand.

Her grave, thus become the occasion of Gentile mercy, is, on the ground of mercy, a house of bread to many nations.

The power of nature fails to uphold anything, it must be by the gift of grace and mercy. Ephratah, Bethlehem, is man's order — fruitfulness before blessing (Gen. xxxv. 19) — blessing, then fruitfulness, Bethlehem-Ephratah (Micah 5:2) is God's way.

They have now not believed in Gentile mercy, in order that they also may be objects of mercy. The deliverer shall come out from Egypt. He shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob. He shall stand and feed in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. Edar, Bethlehem, Zion mark His course, not Bethel, Ephrath, Edar, as Israel's: for unto Edar unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion: thou Bethlehem-Ephratah, out of thee shall He come forth unto me, to be ruler in Israel; and the Redeemer shall come to Zion.

Now draws Israel's sad history towards a close, as responsible in the land. "It came to pass, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah, and Israel heard it."

The son dishonoureth the father, a man's enemies are the men of his own house. Therefore faith will look unto the Lord, and he who loves God's truth not alone obeys, as Abram, getting out of country, kindred, father's house, but is content to waive all right to that which in God's promise was his inheritance.

Israel understands not the things which are for his peace, the blessing in him and in his seed, and in his heart withholds the birthright, the inheritance, from Reuben, whose right it was; therefore is he a man cast loose, a wanderer, with no tie in all the land. He must go forth to Egypt, and faith owns the just decree, being ready to go hither, thither, at the word of God, even if it were from off the ground of promise, confiding in the power of God, the God of the living. It flees from place to place, witnessing of a rejected one, counting all things loss for his sake; content to be a little one, with little earthly blessing, that he may be greatest in the kingdom when the heavens rule; a friend of publicans and sinners, that wisdom may be justified of her children. It leaves home, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or children, or lands, and receives in this time an hundredfold with persecution.

"Israel heard it!" Jacob heard, and held his peace when folly had been wrought in Israel. In silence, and unwittingly, had God's claims been denied. In grief and pent-up wrath he disinherits Reuben in his heart. Thus what he would not do by faith, he does in inconsiderate haste. If faith fails to move a man, force goads him to God's goal.

Thus, with wives, twelve sons, and cattle and beasts, and all the substance which he had got in Padan Aram, Jacob came unto Isaac his father, unto Mamre, unto the city of Arbah, which is Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac sojourned. To him Ephratah-Bethlehem was as Padan Aram: to him Canaan was not God's land; oblivious, like Lot, of the word, "Canaan shall he his servant." forgetful of the covenant, "I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession;" regardless of the promise, "the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed."

"Israel dwelt in that land," "the land wherein his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan." A sad declension! With God's title-deeds he bought peace, and a portion with the Amorites to dwell in, making thereof destruction and a grave; but, worse than this, he turns his father's sepulchre into a dwelling-place.

With all things lost, if he but take the path of one cast out, he may walk therein in fellowship with God. How good it is to know God's present truth, and act upon it! Thus to do would be at least to make requital for the wrong done Esau; and what as a Canaanite he bought in avarice, and got confirmed by fraud with balances of deceit; then seized by force — he loveth to oppress — that might he now in lowly grace give up. But no! his eye saw, his hand took, his lust holds, and Esau, in mere grace of nature, profane as he is, takes God's part; for "Esau took his wives, and his sons, and his daughters, and all the persons of his house, and his cattle, and all his beasts, and all his substance which he had got in the land of Canaan, and went into the country from the face of his brother Jacob; for their riches were more than that they might dwell together: and the land wherein they were strangers could not bear them because of their cattle. Thus dwelt Esau in Mount Seir."

In nature's grace, God's providence and faithfulness in seen things, Esau drinks deeply of his blessing — consistent and persistent in his course; pressing forward in his line of things to lay hold of the promise set before him; unconsciously the instrument on Jacob's failure, whereby God's election, purpose, and calling are established.

"The elder shall serve the younger!" serving him by selling him his birthright — a paltry price to pay for such a portion — yet prevailing to procure a blessing, and in the order of God's providence, which answers nature, breaking from off his neck his brother's yoke when, lust unworking, and in the strength of nature's hardihood, he heeds not Canaan's fruitful plains, wherefrom his wealth of wives and children, goods and cattle, had been gathered, but leaves them in the hold of coveting, amassing Jacob, and goes forth to a land of rocks and separation.

Thus dwelt Esau in Mount Seir, and dukes and kings come of him ere there reigns any king over the children of Israel. So, by force and nature's grace regaining, as it were, his birthright on independent grounds, he takes dominion in the cast-off place, breaking his brother's yoke from off his neck.