Scripture Notes.


Romans 3:25.

It has often been pointed out that the word rendered propitiation in this passage is really "mercy-seat," or propitiatory; that is, the place where propitiation was made. This will be readily understood if it be remembered that Aaron on the great day of atonement carried by divine direction the blood of the sin-offering into the holiest of all, and sprinkled it upon (also before) the mercy-seat. (See Lev. 16:14-15.) Now it was the blood which was so sprinkled that constituted, as to the type, propitiation. It was sprinkled there for the eye of God, and met all His claims upon His people on account of their sins; and inasmuch as it glorified Him in all that He was, it became the righteous basis of His dealings in grace with Israel from year to year. What was thus shadowed forth in the rites of the great day of atonement has been fulfilled in the death of Christ, even as John says, when speaking of Jesus Christ the righteous as the Advocate with the Father, "And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for our's only, but also for the whole world." (1 John 2:1-2.) In like manner, Paul sets forth Christ as the answer to the blood-sprinkling upon the mercy-seat, for he distinctly mentions the blood after connecting Christ with the golden mercy-seat. Viewed thus, the words "set forth" are very significant. In the tabernacle the mercy-seat ' was concealed behind the veil; in the gospel Christ, as the mercy-seat, is publicly set forth before all, so that whoever receives the divine testimony to the efficacy of His precious blood (a testimony typified by the sevenfold sprinkling before the mercy-seat) may boldly draw near; and, it may be added, whosoever thus approaches will discover that God is both just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.


Psalm 84. 5; John 14:6.

An examination will show, we judge, a very interesting connection between these two scriptures. The subject of the psalm is Jehovah's tabernacles, where the living God dwelt and was worshipped; and in verse 5 the man is pronounced blessed whose strength was in God, and in whose heart were the ways, the known ways, to the house, for the next two verses describe their character and their attendant exercises. Two things thus mark the blessedness of such a man. Having come to the end of himself, he had learned the secret of all strength in entire and absolute dependence upon God; and, secondly, his affections having been centred upon the courts of the Lord, his heart cherished the ways which would issue in his appearing in Zion before God. The subject of the first part of the chapter in John is the Father's house, and the Father's house is to the Christian what Jehovah's tabernacles were to the Jew. The Lord Himself displayed before the eyes of His disciples the beauty of the Father's house, and made it attractive to their hearts, by revealing that He was going to prepare a place for them among the many mansions which it contained; and by promising that He would Himself return, and, receiving them unto Himself, would introduce them into the place which He had made ready for them. What an encouragement for their troubled hearts at such a moment! And then, just as in the psalm, He speaks of the way. If the Father's house is revealed, the way to it must be known and cherished, while down here in the wilderness, when passing through the valley of Baca; and, blessed be His name, the way is Himself. "How can we know the way?" says Thomas. "I am the way … no man cometh unto the Father but by me," for He indeed was also that revelation of the Father. How everything, all our blessedness, is contained in His own Person!


John 3:5.

As a matter of exposition we cannot doubt that there is a parallelism between the two clauses of this verse, and that both are to be interpreted in the same way. The force of the first will thus govern the meaning of the second. We are 'there plainly told that what is born of the flesh has the flesh for its origin (ek tes sarkos), is flesh; that is, it is of the same nature. So likewise that which is born of the Spirit has the Spirit for its origin (ek tou Pneumatos) is of the same nature. To interpret the first sentence in one way, and the second in another, would, as may be gathered from the context, introduce confusion into our Lord's discourse; for we are here taught that inasmuch as that which is born of the flesh cannot enter into the kingdom of God, it is of necessity that man must be born of water and of the Spirit. To be introduced into that new moral sphere, where God's authority is recognised as supreme, he must possess a new nature - a nature in consonance with His whose authority is to be owned. This is doubtless elementary, but it is the divine commencement in the soul which, in this present period, will issue, sooner or later, in the full Christian place and condition. We cannot even have to say to divine things, cannot even see spiritually (v. 3) until we are born again; but, having been born again, God in His blessed grace will, in His own way and time, complete the work which He has commenced. On the general subject the following words may be read with advantage: "It is therefore a mighty word of God which, since man must be born again in the principle and source of his moral being, judges, as being death, all that is of the flesh. But there is in fact the communication of a new life; that which is born of the Spirit is spirit, is not flesh, has its nature from the Spirit. It is not the Spirit - that would be an incarnation; but this new life is spirit. It partakes of the nature of its origin."