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"For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into
the sanctuary (Most Holy) by the high-priest for sin,
are burned outside the camp."—Heb. 13:11-13 .
WE ALL recognize that the Bible teaches that sin is in the world; that sin entered the world by father Adam's disobedience, and that until a Ransom-price had been paid there could be no complete reconciliation between God and man. There must be a Ransom as a basis for reconciliation. We understand, therefore, the Scriptures to teach that our Lord Jesus, when he laid down his life, laid down the Ransom price. The word Ransom signifies corresponding price; and because our Lord Jesus did not have a nature that was the same as Adam's nature, it was necessary for him to leave the glory that he had with the Father before the world was, to humble himself and to take upon him the form of the human nature, that he, by the grace of God, could taste death for every man. And so we read in the Scriptures, "A body hast thou prepared me."
There was no human being that had such a body as would be a sufficient sacrifice for the sins of mankind, because all were sinners. Had there been a perfect man he might have given his perfect life a ransom, but there was no perfect man. Therefore, as represented in the Psalms, "no man could give a ransom for his brother." Hence it was necessary for God to find one who would have the ability, who would have the necessary thing to offer for man. The Lord shows us through the Law that his law calls for "a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth"; that this was the basis of Justice on which God was operating in this matter. And so, because it was a man that had sinned, the death of an angel could not be his redemption price; it must be a like, or corresponding price. It was a human life that was lost, and it must be a human life given to constitute the redemption price. It was not sufficient that there should be bulls and goats slain during the Jewish time, because these, the Apostle explains, were only figures and types of the "better sacrifices" which God intended in due time to present.
So the Apostle assures us that the man Christ Jesus came to our relief. He left the glory of the heavenly nature and took the human nature, for the very purpose of sacrificing it in order that he might be our Redeemer; because Justice required a man's death to redeem the man (Adam) who had sinned.
When our Lord "died, the just for the unjust," it was that he might bring us to God; not only that he might bring us, the Church, to God, but that he might bring to God all of humanity who might desire to come to God. But his death did not bring us to God. His death was merely the laying down of the price, and that price was necessary to be found first. To illustrate: Suppose you had an obligation to meet—five thousand dollars. And suppose that you owned a property worth five thousand dollars, which you could sell. The price, or value, of the property would be a price exactly corresponding with the debt that was owing. You sell this property in order that you may have its value as a ransom price. But when you sold the property, you had not cancelled your obligation; you had merely sold the property, and obtained the price, which later you could apply.
Such was the effect of our Lord's death. When he "died, the just for the unjust," he laid down "a corresponding price." Thus it is stated that "by one man's disobedience sin entered the world and death as a result of sin," and thus the death sentence and all its concomitants passed upon Adam's race, because all were infected by the disease of sin, and therefore were all under the sentence of death. Our Lord, in order to redeem us, laid down our Ransom-price, his own life. That Ransom-price was a sufficient price for Adam, or for any other member of Adam's race, or for all—just as he might subsequently apply it. No less than that would have paid for any one. If the Lord had purposed to redeem one individual alone and leave all the remainder of us out, it would still have taken his life, and nothing short of it; because it was man's life that was forfeited, and man's life must be the penalty.
Because this condemnation came through the one man, Adam, therefore in meeting the penalty for one it could be so applied as to take in the whole human family. So we see the philosophy of this great doctrine of the redemption, and how God had fixed the matter purposely so he might be able to settle the debt to his own Justice by the one sacrifice of his Son.
Now that, simply told, is the story of the Ransom,—and all of it. If Jesus, when he ascended up on high, had chosen to use that Ransom-price, or Ransom-value (which he then had in his hand), on behalf of all mankind, then indeed it would have been a sufficient price for all. But he did not do so. The story of how he does apply it is elsewhere told, and that is called the atonement for sin. The account of how our Lord applies his Ransom merit is shown in the typical sacrifices of Israel's Atonement Day.
We are not to think of the Ransom and the Atonement as being the same thing. We are to remember that the Sin-Offerings are not Ransom sacrifices. We are to remember the Ransom sacrifice was not the Sin-Offering. They are two separate propositions. But one view of Christ's work is presented from this standpoint of the Ransom price: that Christ's death was the Ransom-price, and was necessary, no matter how it would be applied; it must be given in offset for the one life that was forfeited and condemned by the Almighty's law. According to the Scriptures our Lord Jesus, in his sacrificial work, met various requirements: For instance, he was "born under the Law." What difference did that make? The Apostle explains that if Jesus had not been "born under the Law" his sacrifice would not have applied to the Jews, because God had previously separated the Jewish nation from other peoples by the Law Covenant which he made with them.
That Jewish nation, under its Law Covenant, was on trial and failed to keep that Law Covenant after accepting its provisions, saying, "All these things we will do." Under their Law Covenant God offered them eternal life if they would keep his Law, but if they violated it the penalty would be eternal death. Thus they came a second time under the divine sentence: the first time with the rest of us under Adamic condemnation, and the second time through failure to keep their Law. Hence, the Apostle says that "the Law which was ordained unto life they found to be unto death," for "by the deeds of the Law could no flesh be justified in God's sight." Hence it was necessary for Christ to be born under the Law, to be a Jew, that he might redeem all the Jews under that Law Covenant arrangement.
God has all these very different features in his plan, nevertheless Christ is the central point from which every one of these variations of the Divine programme radiates—the Jews to be redeemed specially, also the whole world of mankind aside from these; and besides God's purpose in connection with the Church, the elect, the Body of Christ. In order to keep ourselves from getting confused, we must do with these pictures of our Lord's work just as we do with the symbolical pictures [R4426 : page 202] of the Church he gives us in the parables. The parables furnish a variety of pictures of the Church. The Church is likened to the living stones of the Temple; to the members of his Body; to a flock of sheep; soldiers under Christ, "the Captain of our salvation"; and again likened to the Bride of Jesus the Bridegroom.
Now, if we mix these all up, and ask, How could the Bridegroom marry the members of his own Body, or how could the Captain marry his own soldiers, or marry the stones of the Temple, you see what confusion we would have. Each picture, therefore, must be recognized as more or less separate and distinct if we would make any progress in understanding the Scriptures. In each picture there is a lesson, but we must not mix it up with other pictures. So, then, get distinctly in mind what the Ransom is, and leave it where it is; do not take it away from there and mix that thought with that of atonement or mediation. The Ransom was that which our Lord gave, and which could not be given by anybody else, and which needed not to have any repetition. But it did not show the application of Jesus' merit. He merely "gave himself a Ransom, to be testified in due time."
The Apostle in our text is discussing sin atonement. He points us to one particular picture illustrating his subject. In the typical service the Jews made various offerings and sacrifices—thank-offerings, peace-offerings, sin-offerings, etc. The sin-offering picture is the only one of these we are now looking at and discussing. The sin-offering for the nation was made annually, on the 10th day of the 7th month, which is styled the Day of Atonement. The offerings or sacrifices for sins, through which the Atonement or Reconciliation with God was effected, were made on this Day and lasted as valid for a year, at the end of which the whole procedure was repeated. The Apostle refers to this offering of bulls and goats year by year continually and tells us of the "better sacrifices" made by our Lord Jesus, which need no repetition, because actually canceling sin. We are to remember, however, that this one sacrifice of himself, which forever perfects all who come unto God through him, began with the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus in his own person and has been continued by him throughout this Gospel Age in the persons of his Church, his followers. These are invited to present their bodies living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God and their reasonable service. As the High Priest accepts any of these sacrifices the consecrated one is begotten of the holy Spirit and henceforth counted as a member of the Body of The Christ—a member of the Body of the High Priest, who is doing the sacrificing. In this sense of [R4427 : page 202] the word the "better sacrifices" of the High Priest, which began eighteen centuries ago, when he offered up his flesh, continue in his followers as they offer up their flesh, which is acceptable in sacrifice, because of the High Priest—in his name, in his merit, as his sacrifice. In this sense of the word the whole work of the Day of Atonement is the day of sacrifice—though in another sense of the word, as shown by the type, it is divided into two parts—the sacrifice of the Head and the sacrifice of the Church, the members of his Body.
In Leviticus 16 th chapter we have the divinely arranged picture of the Day of Atonement and its sacrificial work. The high priest took a bullock, which was for himself—which represented himself—and slew (sacrificed) it. The bullock represented our Lord as a man; as expressed in the Scriptures, "A body hast thou prepared me." (Heb. 10:5.) Subsequently two goats were brought and tied at the door of the Tabernacle. These were taken from, or represented the congregation, the people of Israel, and were typical of the household of faith, the Lord's consecrated people—two classes of them, the "little flock" and the "great company." How beautifully the type shows that these have not bodies especially prepared for sacrifice. This is particularly shown in the statement that the goats were taken of or from the congregation of the children of Israel for a sin-offering, while no such statement is made respecting the bullock. In other words our Lord, by reason of his miraculous birth, was perfect, actually so—"holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners." We, his disciples, however, imperfect, are of the world, children of wrath, even as others. Taken from the world our imperfections are reckonedly covered by the merit of Christ's sacrifice—by the first part of his sacrifice, atoned for by the blood of the antitypical bullock, the blood of Christ. We remind you that the Apostle points out that our Lord's sacrifice took place at the beginning of his ministry and was finished at its close; who could not be the sin sacrifice until his thirtieth year, under the Law. And it is written that just as soon as he became thirty he made the sacrifice: "Now when Jesus began to be about thirty years of age he cometh to John at Jordan to be baptized of him." We may be sure that he arrived in time to present himself in sacrifice to the Lord, at the very earliest possible moment. There it was, the Apostle tells us, that he fulfilled the prophecy, "Lo, I have come, as in the volume of the Book it is written of me, to do thy will, O God. Thy law is written in my heart." "There," says the Apostle, "he taketh away the first that he may establish the second." In other words, there he began to set aside the typical for the "better sacrifices." The offering of himself was instantaneous, but the presentation of his body to the trials and difficulties of life continued throughout the three and a half years of his ministry and finished on Calvary. He consecrated himself in a moment, to give up all, even life itself, in the Father's service. But the actual giving of time, influence, strength, vitality, lasted three and a half years. From the moment of his consecration at baptism he was reckonedly dead and, at the same moment, begotten of the holy Spirit. He was reckonedly alive as a new creature, an embryo spirit-being, during the three and a half years, the flesh being consumed and the new nature growing strong in the Lord, developing in harmony with the Divine will. At the cross the sufferings of the flesh, the consumption of the sacrifice, was complete, finished; and on the third day thereafter the new nature was raised to perfection by the Father's power, a glorious spirit being, invisible to the dead world, but manifested to the disciples under various forms and under various circumstances, to prove to them that he was no longer dead, and the other fact, that he was no longer the man Jesus, but the glorified spirit Jesus. Thus the Apostle says, "He was put to death in the flesh, but quickened in the spirit."
In the type the fat, etc., were put upon the brazen-altar in the Court and all the remainder was burned, except the blood, outside the camp. The high priest took the blood, and his two hands full of incense and the fire from the altar and passed immediately into the holy, into the light of the golden candlestick. On the altar, which stood between the candlestick and the shewbread, he placed the fire and then crumbled the incense upon it. We read that the incense penetrated into the Most Holy. This was necessary. The significance of the statement is that the incense offered by the high priest was another picture, as seen by the Almighty. It was a sweet incense to God. It went before our Lord into the Most Holy and there rested upon the mercy-seat. Notice, then, the three burnings. The one in the Holy represented the Divine view of the sacrifice of Christ during the three and a half years of his ministry. The burning of the fat on the brazen-altar in the court represented our Lord's sacrifice as seen by his disciples and faithful followers, the justified [R4427 : page 203] ones—about five hundred brethren. And all who since have come into this condition of justification have by faith seen that same sacrifice. The burning of the carcass outside of the camp represented our Lord's sacrifice as viewed from the standpoint of man. To them it is an improper use of time and energy. To them his life had an evil odor, as they considered him a companion of publicans and sinners. The three burnings, outside the camp, inside the court and in the first of the holies, together represented our Lord's sacrifice from these widely different standpoints. When one ended, all ended—when our Lord was crucified. His sacrifice was finished then. He passed beyond the veil in the resurrection to follow. Yet our Lord's work was not finished at Calvary in another sense. It was merely begun. He had finished the first part of his sacrifice—the sacrifice of his own person, the body prepared. But he had a larger work yet to do, namely, according to the Father's plan, the acceptance and sacrifice of a Church class—"the Church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven." The Head of this Church had finished his sacrifice and become the Lord of glory, but the remainder had yet to pass through similar experiences to his—walking in his footsteps.
In the type when the high priest had finished the offering of the incense, he took the blood of the bullock and entered with it into the Most Holy, stooping under the second veil, which pictured our Lord's three days in the tomb. He arose the other side of the veil a spirit being and later ascended up on high, "there to appear in the presence of God for us." Looking at the type and tracing its fulfilment we find that this signified the sprinkling of the blood upon the mercy-seat and before the mercy-seat. When the Apostle says he appeared for us we find that this fulfilment was typified by the priest's presentation of the blood on behalf of himself and his house—the Church, which is his Body; the "great company," the "household of faith," the antitypical Levites, or the house of Levi.
Next look at the other part of the type or picture. After offering the blood of the bullock the high priest came out and laid his hands upon the goats, as already described, and accepted one of them as the Lord's goat for sacrifice and the other as a scape-goat for destruction. The casting lots indicated that the high priest had no choice as to which should be the sacrifice. Even so all who make consecration to the Lord are eligible to sacrifice and the Lord is no respector of persons, but willing to accept all who are faithful to their covenant obligation. Those two goats, as we shall show, represented or typified the consecrated Church of this Gospel Age, who from the world have presented themselves to the Lord. The Lord's goat represents the members of the Body of the High Priest; the scape-goat represents the less faithful of the Church, the "great company," the antitypical Levites. In the type we read that the high priest laid his hands upon the Lord's goat and smote it, killed it, and took of its blood and did therewith even as he had done with the bullock, while its fat was similarly placed upon the brazen-altar and its flesh burned outside the camp. This fact illustrates the Church having part in Christ's sufferings and filling up that which was left of his afflictions. This is true not only of the apostles, but also of all who have since sacrificed their all in the interests of the Lord, the Truth and the brethren.
In our text the Apostle identifies the Lord with the bullock and his faithful people with the goat. He reminds us that no other sacrifices than those of the sin-offering were ever burned outside of the camp, and no other sacrifices ever had their blood sacrificed and sprinkled in the Most Holy to make atonement for sin. Then the Apostle says, "Let us go with him (Jesus) outside the camp, bearing the reproach with him." These, then, are the "better sacrifices" which do take away sin, as explained by St. Paul. The effect of this great sacrificing work of the high priest during this one sacrifice Day of Atonement will never need repetition. It will thoroughly accomplish the Divine purposes. It will effect the full reconciliation of the world. The merit, of course, is in the sacrifice of the bullock. The bullock represented our Lord Jesus, while the goat represented a multitude of 144,000. The laying down of our lives in the Lord's service accounts nothing of real value—nothing that would of itself ever take away sin. The entire merit of our sacrifice is through the justification which first applied to this goat class through the merit of the bullock's sacrifice.
The type tells us that the high priest counted this blood of the goat as a part of his one sacrifice, the one sacrifice by which all will be blessed who ever attain to everlasting life. The high priest presented the blood of the goat for a highly different purpose than that for which he had previously applied the blood of the bullock. The blood of the bullock was for the high priest and the members of his household. The blood of the goat was for all the remainder of the people of Israel. In the antitype the blood of Christ avails for his consecrated saints, the "little flock," the "royal priesthood," and for the Levites, the "great company," while the sacrificial [R4428 : page 203] merit of the Church, the Body of Christ, he applies on behalf of all the people, the world—as many of the world as desire to avail themselves of the glorious opportunities of reconciliation.
When the high priest had finished the first sacrifice and the offering of his blood he came forth. He manifested himself at Pentecost and symbolically laid his hands upon the Church in the Pentecostal blessing, by which sacrifice his followers were enabled to be conformed to the terms and conditions of his sacrifice. But after offering the blood of the goat the high priest is represented as having finished his work. He puts off his sacrificial garments and puts on his garments of glory and beauty, typified by the glorious qualities of Christ's character and the honorable mission to which he had been anointed as the world's Prophet, Priest, King, Judge and Mediator. Thus coming forth he represents our Lord's Second Advent and assumption of divine glory and power, at which time the Church will be with him as members of his Body, to cooperate in the dispensing of the blessings of the New Covenant to Israel and to all the families of the earth. As on the Day of Atonement the people of Israel put on sackcloth and ate no pleasant food, but fasted and waited for the coming out of the high priest in his garments of glory and beauty, so it has been throughout this Gospel Age. The whole world lieth in the wicked one, overwhelmed in sin and death and corruption. Of them St. Paul declares, "For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God" (Rom. 8:22,19)—waiting for the High Priest, Head and Body, typified by the glorious garments of the Jewish high priest. Following the picture a little further we see that the high priest in his glorious garments went to the Altar and lifted up his hands and gave his blessing to the people—the blessing of the New Covenant, the blessing of the forgiveness of sins, the blessing of pouring out of the holy Spirit upon all flesh. If in the type a blessing is portrayed, how much greater will be the blessing in reality! As in the type the people arose, threw off their sackcloth and fasting and rejoiced in their forgiveness, so in the Millennial morning the world, coming to an appreciation of the great High Priest and the sacrifices of Atonement, will arise from sin and degradation and death and rejoice in divine favor and in the realization of the many blessings of restitution set before Israel, as declared by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began.—Acts 3:20.
In the context the Apostle says, "Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate." (Heb. 13:12.) Are [R4428 : page 204] we asked what people Jesus would sanctify with his own blood? We answer, in the broader sense of the word, "All people—all who ever will accept sanctification, cleansing, reconciliation through him." We read that he gave himself a ransom for all. It matters not that he did not apply it at once for all, but merely for us, the Church, the "household of faith." The intention of his sacrifice was for all. This does not alter the fact that thus far the merit of Jesus' sacrifice extends not beyond the "household of faith." In due time through the Church his merit will extend to every creature. Thus it is written, "They shall obtain mercy through your mercy," and we obtain our mercy through Jesus' death, as he by divine grace, tasted death for every man.
Some, without mature thinking, have remarked that the scape-goat cannot represent a spirit being class, because it never went into the Holy nor Most Holy. We reply that neither did the bullock nor the Lord's goat go into the Holy nor Most Holy. It was merely the blood of these that was taken into the Most Holy, and the blood represents the surrender of earthly rights and privileges and life willingly, in pursuance of the divine will or arrangement. The scape-goat, or "great company" class, consists of those who made an offering of themselves and were accepted, but who failed to fulfil the conditions of their sacrifice. Failing to become members of the High Priest's Body and sharers of his glory on the divine plane, these would have had nothing, had the Lord not specially provided for them an experience of tribulation for the destruction of their flesh, that the spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. They had been accepted of the Lord because of their faith and their consecration unto death. Failing to make good their consecration and holding on to the present earthly life, they would lose all, were it not for the arrangement thus made on their behalf for the destruction of their flesh. Nor are we to think of these as a dishonorable class, an unfaithful class, an undeveloped class. None can gain eternal life under the divine arrangement on any plane of being except as he shall be transformed and be brought to the condition of perfect loyalty to God and his righteousness. Any who do not come up to the highest standard of obedience to God would not be accounted worthy of eternal life in the "great company," or in any other. Having been begotten of the holy Spirit they could not reassume their earthly rights and restitution blessings. Those once consecrated and sacrificed are gone forever. If the spirit life be not attained the implication would be the Second Death.
This "great company" class has nothing whatever to do with sin atonement, for the scape-goat was neither burned outside the camp, nor was its blood brought into the Most Holy. What, then, is signified by the statement (Lev. 16:21) that Aaron laid his hands upon the head of the scape-goat and confessed over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat?
The sin atonement effected by the blood of the bullock and the blood of the Lord's goat represented the atonement for original Adamic sin and all the weaknesses and imperfections traceable directly thereto. Since the blood of these two animals made satisfaction for all such sins of all the people, it is manifest that none remained to be confessed upon the head of the scape-goat. What sins, then, were those which Aaron confessed upon the scape-goat's head? We reply that they were such trespasses as those our Lord taught us to pray for, saying, "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us." If we freely forgive those who trespass against us, God will freely forgive us our trespasses. But he did not forgive original sin, but instead, sentenced us to death on account of it and provided his Son as our Redeemer. These trespasses are short-comings, imperfections, etc., as represented in carelessness or indifference or wilfulness or any other failure to do the Lord's will the very best we know how. The Lord represents that he keeps a very strict account of all the world's affairs. He explains that the severe tribulations which came upon the Jewish nation in the close of its harvest time was a retributive experience. In that awful trouble with which their age ended, as our Lord foretold, the Lord required all the righteous blood shed from the time of righteous Abel down to about that time. In a word, every injustice cries out for vengeance, for retribution, for penalty. The great original sin, whose penalty is death, our Lord Jesus has paid, dying, the just for the unjust. But there are many sins, many injustices of the past, as well as of the present, which are still unaccounted for to justice. For instance, in Revelation we read that the souls under the altar cried, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?" (Rev. 6:10.) Justice is merely waiting for the full number of those persecuted for righteousness sake to be completed and then the punishment will come. The great time of trouble with which this age will end will, like the time of trouble which closed the Jewish Age, signify a time of settlement of the claims of Justice. The "great company," failing to sacrifice during the acceptable time, will be permitted to share a considerable measure of that trouble coming upon the world—to cancel, if you please, a measure of the troubles due to come upon humanity in general. When that time shall come these dear friends, represented in the "great company," will rejoice in their share of suffering and destruction of the flesh, that they may be saved as spirit beings in the day of the Lord Jesus. And what they shall suffer of the iniquities of the world will mean that much less for others in that day of trouble.
That our Lord suffered, the Just for the unjust, the Scriptures clearly set forth—not merely the amount of pain which he experienced, or, in old English suffered: he suffered death on account of sin. We suffer with him. We are partakers of his sufferings. Our Lord's most severe sufferings were probably in Gethsemane, where, we read, that he was in a great agony and that "Of the people there were none with him;" even the faithful, beloved eleven apostles were drowsy and could not watch with him at that hour. But they could not comprehend his trouble—that the programme of the next few hours meant so much to him. He knew that in his covenant made at Jordan he had given up his earthly rights and privileges. He knew that now his entire dependence as respects a future life rested upon a resurrection from the dead and he knew, too, that if he had not performed the divine will perfectly, completely, that he could not be granted the glorious resurrection change and the eternal glory on the spirit plane. Thus we read that he offered up strong crying and tears unto him who was able to save him out of death and that he was heard in that thing which he feared. He feared death—not that he doubted the heavenly Father's promise that if his sacrifice was faithfully performed he would be granted a glorious resurrection. He feared that unintentionally he might have made some error, might have failed to perform some portion of his consecration vow. He feared, therefore, lest there had not gone the full measure of the cloud of incense into the Most Holy to [R4429 : page 204] cover the mercy-seat and to indicate that he had been faithful to the last degree in his sacrificing. Then it was that the angel appeared to strengthen him. What the strengthening was is not revealed, but most evidently it pertained to the things which he feared. Undoubtedly the angel, as the Father's representative, assured him about his faithfulness; that his sacrificing had been acceptable in the Father's sight. At once a great calm came, in which the great storm of anguish, which had threatened but a moment before to wreck his mortal body, subsided. Thenceforth we behold him the calmest of the calm—before the high priests enduring the contradiction of sinners against himself in the presence of Pilate and the rabbis. Led to the cross he was the most [R4429 : page 205] self-possessed of all of whom we have any knowledge on the occasion. When his disciples forsook him, it was he who interposed that they be not pursued, but let go their way. When Peter denied him, it was he who calmly looked towards Peter, reminding him of the prophecy. On the way to Calvary it was he who spoke words of peace to the weeping women, saying, "Weep not for me, but rather for yourselves." How different are the experiences of Christ's followers! We have him not only as an Example and as a Teacher, but as our Protector and as our Advocate. We may indeed have strong consolation because he has assured us that he has not only appeared for us, but that he is able to succor us in every time of need. He is still Head of the Church, which is his Body. He is still supervising the interests of all of his members. He is still saying to us, as he did to his disciples of old,
Whoever fails to clearly see that the Church at the present time are the members of the Body of Christ can never understand how the Church is to share her Lord's sacrifice, as represented in his cup. After our Lord at the last Supper had himself partaken of the fruit of the vine, he handed the cup to his disciples, saying, "This is my blood of the New Covenant, shed for many for the remission of sins. Drink ye all of it." Not only did our Lord drink of the symbolical cup before giving it to his disciples, but he drank of the same actual cup, the partaking of which he requires of us as an evidence of our loyalty as his disciples. This is the cup of shame, of sorrow, of indignity, of self-denial on behalf of others. The Master spoke of it as the cup which the Father had prepared for him. He left some of it for us, that we might have the privilege of sharing in his sufferings and of the glory that shall follow as soon as the last member of his mystical Body shall have been glorified. When he passed the cup to his disciples at the Memorial Supper, his words, "Drink ye all of it," not only meant that all who would be his disciples must drink of that cup, but also meant that his followers must drink all of it, must leave none of it. In other words the sufferings of Christ belong exclusively to this Gospel Age, marked by his own sufferings at its beginning and terminating with the revelation of his glory in the Kingdom. There will be none of the sufferings of Christ for the world to drink of during the Millennial Age and there will be no opportunity for any of them to become joint-heirs with the Redeemer. The Master said that this cup was the blood of the New Testament—the new will, his will or Testament, by which he is bequeathing his earthly rights and earthly honors to the earthly seed of Abraham and to the world of mankind through them. It is his blood that was necessary for the sealing of the New Covenant and we were invited to share his cup, to share the sealing, and to share the dispensing of the New Covenant blessings to Israel and the world. Whoever does not drink of this cup, whoever does not share in the sufferings of Christ—the same sufferings which he experienced, as members of his Body—cannot share with him his Millennial throne of glory, by means of which the New Covenant blessings will be established with the world.
Mark this intimation that his followers must be sharers with him in his sufferings and mark the declaration that the same must participate in the same sufferings if they would sit with him in his throne. Hearken to the two disciples as they inquired of him just before his death if they might sit, the one on the right hand and the other on the left in his Kingdom. Jesus replied, "Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able." (Matt. 20:22.) When they asserted their willingness to die with him he assured them that they would indeed share with him his throne and indeed drink of his cup and share his baptism of death and have place in his Kingdom.
Let us hold fast to these precious promises. If others lose their hold and claim that they can no longer thus see with us, our pity should be for them that the light that they had has gone from them. Let us not smite the blind, but rather be kind and generous toward all. The greater the number of the blind, the greater is the blessing and privilege of those who do see. Let us rejoice in our privileges and use them. Let us remember the Master's words, "If the light that is in thee become darkness, how great is that darkness." Such are in a more pitiable condition than the world who never saw. Let us remember, too, that all kinds of blindness are more or less contagious and let us guard our spiritual sight as one of the most precious boons given of the Lord.
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THE FIELD OF BATTLETo grasp the two-edged sword, and forward rush upon the foe,
To hear the Captain's cry, to see the flash of answering eyes,
To feel the throbbing hearts of battling comrades in the ranks—
That rapturous inspiration know, of warring for the Right,
The holy joy of following him who points and leads the way!
Ah, yes! 'tis glorious thus to fight the goodly fight, and yet,
Methinks, beyond the firing line, beneath those snowy tents,
A fiercer conflict rages, day and night, where trembling hands,
Wan lips and fever-lighted eyes do battle with a host
Of deadly foes—grim giants, Doubt and Disappointment, fierce
Despair—before whose fiery darts the bravest well might quail!
They also hear the call, and hoarsely cry, "Lord, here am I!"
They strive to reach their swords, to struggle to their feet, but back
In helpless agony of weakness on their pallets fall,
With brain afire, and reason tottering on its throne, their tears
Of anguish flow. Sometimes the noise of battle sweeps beyond
The range of those poor straining ears, and then the spectre Fear
Stalks through the room, and lays an icy hand upon each heart:
The awful thought, Our Captain hath forsaken and forgot,
Our comrades forge ahead, they leave us here alone to die!
But, no! the Lord of Battles is most merciful, he sends
A swift-winged messenger: "Yea, though a mother may forget
Her sucking child, yet will I not forget!" Then, like the calm
That cometh after storm, sweet peace and quiet reign within
Those troubled breasts; and so he giveth his beloved sleep.
Ah, then! true-hearted comrades in the forefront of the fight,
Remember that the wounded to God's army still belong,
And send betimes to them a white-winged messenger of cheer.
Oh, give Love's roses now, nor keep them for the coffin's lid,
(A single flower is sweeter far than thousands by and by).
Take time to speak a tender word, to shed a pitying tear,
Or breathe, at least, a prayer throughout the watches of the night,
And thus prove more than conquerors through the power of deathless love!
G. W. S.—Jan., '09.