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to his charge by Jezebel's command, Naboth must be stoned! And what a view we get of the moral degradation of both nobles and people, that such a command should be so unhesitatingly and implicitly obeyed. How analogous to another transaction in which One greater than Naboth became the victim of equal cruelty and cunning, and all under the cloak of judicial forms and high religious pretensions. They, like Jezebel, could suborn false witnesses, and pay the price of innocent blood, even the blood of God's holy Lamb; but they were too scrupulous to cast it into the treasury of the Lord, or to enter the hall of Pilate, lest they should be defiled!
Successful wickedness is next door to utter destruction. Again is our prophet introduced into the scene. word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, which is in Samaria: behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, whither he is gone down to possess it. And thou shalt speak unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Hast thou killed and also taken possession ? And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the Lord, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine.” Elijah meets him. The guilty king trembles in his presence, and asks not as before, “ Art thou he that troubleth Israel ?" No, his conscience makes it much more a personal question than that. “Hast thou
“ found me, O mine enemy?" "I have found thee," is the
, prophet's reply; and he then proceeds with the awful denunciations of wrath and judgment from God against Ahab and Jezebel, and their household. But oh, the grace of our God! Because Ahab, terrified by these predictions, humbles himself and puts on sackcloth, and goes softly, the evil is not to come in his days; but in his son's days the evil is to be executed on his house.
But Ahab, though for the season humbled, is not converted. Of this we have ample and mournful evidence in chap. xxii. There we find, that pliable as was this wicked king when in the presence of his wife or Benhadad, Micaiah is as much hated by him as Elijah. And for the same reason. They were not pliable. They
had set their faces as a flint, and could yield nothing, no, not an inch or a hair’s-breadth, of the testimony of God entrusted to them. “There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the Lord: but I hate him; for he doth not prophecy good concerning me, but evil.” And how sorely was Micaiah's fidelity tested on this occasion.
was gone to call Micaiah, spake unto him, saying, Behold now, the words of the prophets declare good unto the king with one mouth; let thy word, I pray thee, be like the word of one of them, and speak that which is good.” As though he had said, in more modern language, "Do not be so morose and eccentric, Micaiah. Do, in this instance at any rate, go with the stream. There are four hundred prophets all of one mind. Do not set up your single voice against so many, as though you were wiser, and knew better than any one besides.” “As the Lord liveth, what the Lord saith unto me, that will I speak." This is all that the prophet can reply. The sequel of the history shews us that Micaiah had been allowed of God to be behind the scenes.
He could account for the unanimity of the prophets. It was a lying spirit from the Lord which had put words into their mouths, by which Ahab was to be hardened to go up to battle to his own destruction. The prophet's testimony, however, is disregarded, and he himself shut up in prison. Ahab, and alas ! Jehoshaphat, go up to Ramoth-Gilead. Jehoshaphat is there made the tool of the wily king of Israel. The latter disguises himself, while the former enters the battle in his royal robes, a mark for the arrows of the enemy, who have been instructed to aim only at the king ! But God defends Jehoshaphat. He is humbled, yea, disgraced. He has to cry for his life. But God delivers his poor erring, failing child; while all the craft of Ahab avails him nothing. No one can aim at him as the king; his disguise prevents that. But " a certain man drew a bow at a venture," and the
arrow, guided by an unseen hand, "smote the king of Israel between the joints of the harness.” He is borne, wounded and bleeding to Samaria, and he dies; and the dogs lick up his blood, as Elijah had spoken to him by the word of the Lord.
The Lord grant us, beloved brethren, Elijah's and Micaiah's firmness and decision; and keep us from the yieldingness of the unhappy man who "sold himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up”!
ON THE POSITION OF SATAN, OR RATHER, OF THE CHURCH IN CONFLICT WITH SATAN.-" The warfare in Eph. vi. really supposes an elevated position of the saints, themselves delivered and raised up to a heavenly position with God,- they have to contend with Satan there, for he is not yet cast down nor bruised under their feet. No doubt, being in such a conflict, the fullest vigilance and the spirit of dependance is needed not to succumb; internal, practical truth being first called for,and then, power; but, whatever the diligence called for, the position is one of entire deliverance and enlistment on God's side, – brought into heavenly questions and standing. I judge there is a different measure in the deliverance from Satan,
according to the different character of the epistles in Peter, Colossians, and Ephesians. He is roaring about as a lion, on earth, in Peter, where the saints are pilgrims; triumphed over, in the cross, in Colossians, where they were in danger of not holding the head; and led away captive in Ephesians, where the heavenly place of the saints is given, but then the combat, practically, has not ceased, but we are in God's army with His armour, in a heavenly warfare."
SYNOPSIS OF THE BOOKS OF THE BIBLE.
The book of Leviticus will not require entering quite so much into detail as the first two of the Pentateuch; one of the most interesting parts having been examined in the tract entitled “ Types of Leviticus." We shall, however, endeavour to look at this book as a whole. The subject of it is essentially the Priesthood, that is, the means established of God for drawing near unto Him, and the discernment of the defilements unbecoming those who were thus brought into relationship with God; the function of discerning these, being, in any case that rendered it necessary, a part of the priesthood. There are also in Leviticus, the several convocations of the people in the feasts of the Lord, which presented the special circumstances under which they drew near unto Him, and lastly, the fatal consequences of infringing the principles established by God, as the condition of these relationships with Him.
Here the communications of God are consequent upon His presence in His tabernacle, which is the basis of all the relationship we are speaking of. It is no longer the law-giver giving regulations from above, to constitute a state of things, but one in the midst of the people, prescribing the conditions of their relationship with Him.
* This is the character in which God puts Himself thus into relationship. Consequently most of the directions given suppose those to whom they apply to stand already in the relation of a people recognised of Him as His people. But the people being truly without, and the tabernacle presenting the position in which God was putting Himself in order to be approached, the instructions which are given in cases supposing the people or the individual to be thus placed, furnish those who are without with the means of drawing near to God, when they are in that position, though no previous relationship have existed. It is very important to observe this: it is the basis of the reasoning of the VOL.II. PT.II.
But whatever be the nearness and the privileges of the priestly position, the sacrifice of Christ is ever that which establishes the possibility and forms the basis of it.
We have then, Christ in His devotedness unto death. Christ in the perfection of His life of consecration to God. Christ, the basis of the communion of the people with God, who feeds, as it were, at the same table with them; and finally, Christ made sin for those who stood in need of it. For further details, I refer the reader to the tract, “Types of Leviticus.” There is no subject more interesting or more important. This part closes at the 7th verse of chapter vi.; at the 8th verse begin the regulations relative to these sacrifices. We shall find that the question is chiefly as to what was to be eaten in these sacrifices, and by whom and under what conditions. The burnt offering, and the meat offering for a priest, were to be entirely burnt. It is Christ Himself, offered wholly to God; who offers Himself. As to the burnt offering, the fire burnt all night upon the altar and consumed the victim, the sweet-smelling savour of which ascended thus to God, even during the darkness, where man was far from Him, buried in sleep. This is true, I doubt not, as to Israel. God has the sweet savour of the sacrifice of Christ towards Him, while the nation forgets Him. However this may be, the only effect of the judgment of the holy majesty of God - the fire of the Lord, now that Christ has offered Himself of His own voluntary will—is to cause the sweet smell of this precious sacrifice to ascend towards God. Of the other sacrifices—the meat offering and the sin offering—the priest eat, the saint feeding on the perfectness of Christ, Apostle, in the third of Romans, for the admission of the Gentiles and even of any sinner whatever. It is true nevertheless, that most of the directions apply to those who are already in proximity with the throne. Besides, all, in spite of themselves, have to do with it, although they do not approach it, and especially now, that, as a testimony of grace, the blood is on the mercy-seat. The conditions of relationship with the throne that God establishes, where He condescends to be approached by His creatures, are presented, which includes the details of those He sustains with His people.