The Remnant.

Isaiah 6 and John 12. 37-43.

In John 12 we have the fulfilment of Isaiah 6, and verses 37-43 sum up the result of our Lord's labours amongst His earthly people. Before the closing testimony of Jesus is given in verses 44-50 this divine comment seems to intervene. It shows us the different effects upon the hearts of those who had witnessed His miracles and listened to His words. On the one hand there was unbelief and hardness of heart, and on the other the "fear of man that bringeth a snare."

There seems to l a peculiar pathos in the words that commence this section of scripture - a tone of mingled regret and pity running through them; "but though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on Him." As though everything had been tried but without avail. Miracle after miracle had been performed, as indisputable proof that He was the sent One of the Father, until at last, when nothing more remained to be done, patience having reached its utmost limit, a judicial blindness set in, which left every rejecter of the testimony in utter darkness.

The words in verse 39 may present a difficulty to some; but we have to remember adequate testimony had been given in what Christ had said and done, and therefore they were responsible and without excuse. "Lord, who hath believed our report, and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?" It was only after such testimony was refused that we read, "Therefore they could not believe." All this proves that the natural man - even the religious man - is utterly incapable of himself of receiving the things of God, or knowing anything about them. The Jews set themselves up to be judges, and said in effect to Jesus, "Shew us a sign that we may believe Thee"; but when the sign was given they were as far as ever from believing. It shows that what is needed is not miracles without, but the work of the Holy Spirit within, before we can receive God's testimony. May it teach us that however advanced we are, yet there is nothing in ourselves that can for a moment be trusted in relation to the things of God, that we are dependent upon Him at every step.

It is indeed a dark picture presented to us here in John 12; but the Holy Ghost not only gives us the fulfilment of Isaiah 6 as regards the unbelief of the people, but graciously adds a word or two for our comfort, reminding us of the glory of the One who was thus rejected. "These things said Esaias when he saw His glory and spake of Him," surely intimating that the glory was to be seen in John 12 as in Isaiah 6, and shewing what really should occupy us in a dark day. Here we have a man in the secret of God. And a man in the secret of God always speaks of the glory of Jesus. An unalterable purpose exists in the heart of the Father concerning the glory of His beloved Son, and this purpose He will never forego. Where this is known it gives rest and stability to the heart in the most adverse circumstances; but in order to know it we must get where Esaias was found, inside, in God's presence. He says, "I saw also the Lord"; and what did he hear? This is what he heard, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory"; and yet precisely at this moment Isaiah is told to "go and make the heart of this people fat, and to close their eyes, etc., until the cities be wasted, without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate." How then could the whole earth be full of His glory? Only because God is what He is. He has a purpose concerning His beloved Son, whether in connection with an earthly people or a heavenly people, and He will give effect to it in His own way and time, whatever failure there may be on man's part. Have you and I, dear reader, deeply implanted in our souls God's thoughts about Christ? And do we delight to think that the glory of Jesus is everlastingly secured? Have we learnt that in everything God is doing He has one object, viz., the glory of His Son? He has glorified Him at His own right hand. The Holy Ghost too glorifies Him by taking of His things and shewing them unto us, and presently the whole earth shall be full of His glory. May all this be immovably fixed in our hearts. And while we are conscious that the dark day is growing ever darker, may we, like Isaiah, occupy an inside place, that we too may "see His glory and speak of Him."

There is another resemblance between Isaiah 6 and John 12 for in both cases there is a remnant. When the whole nation of Israel was about to be judicially blinded God graciously adds, "But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof." And God had a remnant in our Lord's time, and, like Isaiah, "they saw His glory." That glory was visible surely to those who had eyes to see it, when Mary took the "pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment." In Isaiah's day we read "the house was filled with smoke" at the presence of the Lord of hosts. That same One is here in the person of the lowly Jesus, and now the house is "filled with the odour of the ointment." In the one case He comes upon the scene in His majesty as Lord of all the earth, and in the other as the Saviour of sinners, the One about to die in order to do the Father's will. What different glories attach to the same Person! How varied! And it is with these varied glories of Christ that the remnant is ever occupied, whether it be in His character as Son of David, or head of His body the church, or "the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father." To them Jesus is everything, and again the house is "filled with the odour of the ointment." "Because of the savour of Thy good ointments, Thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love Thee." (Cant. 1:3.)

Let us now consider for a moment the consequence of seeing the glory. "He saw His glory and spake of Him." This refers, no doubt, not only to what is recorded in chapter 6, but to a great deal that follows in that wonderful book, almost every breath of which comes perfumed with that "name which is above every name." Truly nothing opens the lips like a sight of the glory and beauty of Christ; it is indeed "good matter," and consequently the tongue soon becomes "the pen of a ready writer." If we know Christ we must speak of Him. It was so with Anna, who "spake of Him to all that looked for redemption in Jerusalem"; with Paul, who says he counted "all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus" his Lord; with Peter, who was an eye-witness of His majesty; and the effect will be the same with ourselves, though in a smaller measure, if only we are occupied with the same Person.

May the glory of the Lord fill our souls; and then we shall not be occupied with the shortcomings and defects of one another. From Genesis to Revelation there is one paramount theme; and when we read the Scriptures may we never fail to see His glory, and then, like Isaiah, we shall speak of Him. We shall then be in concert with God Himself, who has said, "I will make Thy name to be remembered in all generations; therefore shall the people praise Thee for ever and ever." (Psalm 45 17.)

We have now briefly to consider two solemn verses which close this section. "Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on Him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God." Here we have a contrast to the remnant. Not because they did not believe, but because they did not confess. They lacked devotedness. They saw that to openly confess Christ would be to forfeit their religious position, and they were not ready to say with Paul, "What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ."

We may well ask, "How is it with ourselves?" In seeking to be disciples of Christ we shall certainly find ourselves in opposition to the religious world. There were two things that hindered the chief rulers from confessing Christ. One was, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; and the other, they would not forfeit the praise of men. The same influences are still at work. While you retain your religious position men will praise you for your good works and your philanthropy; but the moment you see that Christianity publicly has become a vast human system with only a name to live, and that to be faithful to Christ you must leave it, then you will have to choose between the praise of men and the praise of God,

May these two divine comments of the Holy Ghost be made a blessing to us - the one as an encouragement, "These things said Esaias when he saw His glory and spake of Him," and the other as a warning, "For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God."

God as a remnant in this day, as in Isaiah 6 and John 12. May we be occupied in a similar way to Isaiah and Mary, with the glory of Christ, and then at last with them we shall one day receive the praise of God. R. E.

For faith, we are dead, not alive, in the world. Hence also, everything that practically makes us realise this - trial, suffering, sorrow - is gain. It makes morally true and real in our souls, that we are dead, and thus delivers from the old man. "In all these things is the life of the Spirit." It is disengaged and delivered from the obscuring and deadening influence of the old man. These sorrows and breaches in life are the details of death morally. But of the death of what? Of the old man. All is gain.