Scripture Notes



Numbers 4:23, 30, 35; Numbers 8:24, 26.

On the surface there does, undoubtedly, seem to be a discrepancy between these scriptures as to the age at which the Levites commenced their service. But there cannot be, by any possibility, a mistake on such a simple matter; and the difficulty is at once removed by the suggestion often made, and generally accepted, that they were tested from twenty-five to thirty before they finally entered upon their appointed work. If so, the first five years were a probationary period before their formal installation. Then, at the age of fifty, they were to cease waiting upon the service of the tabernacle, and were to serve no more. Still, they were to continue to "minister with their brethren in the tabernacle of the congregation, to keep the charge, and shall do no service." Thus they were no longer to carry the appointed burdens (chapter 4) in their journeyings through the wilderness, though they might share with their "brethren in the tabernacle of the congregation." But they were still to keep the charge of the Lord, if they did no service. As the people in chapter 9 both journeyed and rested at the commandment of the Lord, so the Levites kept "the charge" both in their labours and when they ceased waiting upon their service. We learn that the will of the Lord is thus to govern us equally, whether in activity or retirement; at His word we are to labour, and at His word we are to rest. The only concern, therefore, of the servant is to be in communion with the Lord's mind.


John 2:11; John 11:40.

If these two scriptures are compared, the respective meanings of "the glory" in each will be apparent. In the first, Jesus had just turned the water into wine, a miracle which could only be wrought by divine power. Now it was this very putting forth of this divine power which the Spirit of God here connects with the truth of His Person; and He consequently says that He "manifested forth His glory"; that is, the inherent glory which belonged to Himself. The disciples might afterwards work miracles, and do even "greater works" (John 14:12), but in their case they received the power for it, as we are more than once distinctly told (Matthew 10:6, Luke 9:1, etc.), from their Lord and Master. Jesus, on the other hand, while ever maintaining the place of entire dependence, and doing not His own will but the will of the Father, and abiding at the same time in perfect communion, did but exercise His own power, whether in healing the sick, opening the eyes of the blind, or raising the dead. (John 5:19-21.) Reading His miracles in this light, we behold' His glory (that is, the divine glory of His Person), and our faith, as with the disciples, is confirmed. Coming now to chapter 11, it is still Jesus who acts, and yet, in the prospect of raising Lazarus, He tells Martha that she should see, if she believed, the glory of God. In verse 4 He had said, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby." The raising of Lazarus was, indeed, the demonstration of the truth that Christ was the Son of God, for it was only omnipotent power that could call a dead man out of the grave. (Compare chapter 5:25-29.) But the display of this almighty power was a part of the glory of God, and in the light of its shining forth on this occasion Jesus was seen, by all whose eyes were opened, to be the Son of God. And this, moreover, was for the glory of God, that His beloved Son should be received and honoured according to the testimony which God rendered to Him by the grave of Lazarus. What unfathomed depths often lie concealed in the simplest statements of the word of God


John 1:21.

The personages here mentioned were the two that every godly Jew expected to appear at some time or another in connection with Messiah. Hence, when John came upon the scene, the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him three questions. Was he the Christ? Having confessed that he was not, they then, with reference to Malachi 4:5-6, enquired, Was he Elias? This also having been denied, they further asked, and now with Deuteronomy 18:17-19 in their minds, "Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No." It is very clear, therefore, we judge, that the Jews had not connected this promised prophet with their Messiah; and this is remarkable when it is considered that such ample testimony is borne to Him in this character. The blindness, moreover, of the leaders of the Jewish nation is strikingly seen in 'the fact that, minutely acquainted as they were with the letter of the word, they overlooked the special scripture that did describe John and his mission, the one to which John pointed them. The knowledge of Scripture indeed only blinds those who are not in present communion with the mind of God. In such a case, the light possessed becomes darkness. Thus the Pharisees who had interrogated John, instead of bowing to the word given them, evaded its application by turning aside to dispute his right to baptize, if he were not the Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet. But John - an example in this to every servant - only used their querulous unbelief as an opportunity to testify of the One whose forerunner he was. Truly he was a single-eyed, devoted servant.