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of the field and the fish of the sea owned it, winds and waves owned it, and so did the corn and the wine. I may say He Himself
was the only one who did not own or assume it; for His way was to veil it. “ Lord of the harvest,” but appeared as one of the labourers in the field; He was the God of the Temple, and the Lord of the Sabbath, but submitted to the challenges of an unbelieving world (Mat. ix. xii).
Such was the veil or the cloud under which He thus again and again causes the glory to retire! And so, in entire fellowship with all this, as we have already said, did He carry Himself on those occasions when His life was threatened. Under despised forms He hid His glory again. At times the favour of the common people shelters Him (Mark xi. 32, xii. 12, Luke xx. 19); at times He withdraws Himself in either an ordinary or a more miraculous manner (Luke iv. 30, John viii. 59, x. 39); at times the enemy is restrained from laying hands on Him, because His hour was not come (John vii. 30, viii. 20); and on one distinguished occasion, as we have seen, a flight into Egypt removes Him
from the wrath of a king who sought His life to destroy Him.
In all this I see the one thing from first to last — the Lord of Glory hiding Himself, as one who had come in another's name and not His own. But He was Lord of Glory," and “the Prince of life.” He was a willing captive, as I have already observed, and so was He at the very last a willing victim. “He gave His life a ransom for many."d
In other days the Ark of the Lord was in the hands of the enemy; it had been taken captive by the Philistines at the battle of Ebenezer. Then God delivered His strength into captivity, and His glory into the enemies' hand”; but it was unassailable. It was apparently a weak thing--a thing of wood and gold. Its presence troubled the uncircumcised—their gods, their persons, their lands.
d The Son put Himself under the commandment of the Father, for the ends of God's glory in our salvation (John X. 18, xii. 49); and now the Father delivers a commandment to us, to give all divine honour to the Son, or, in other words, to walk in the truth of His person (John v. 23, 1 John iii. 23, 2 John, 4–6).
It was all unaided and alone, and in the midst of enemies who were fresh in the heat and pride of victory. Why, then, did they not break it to pieces ? Apparently, to dash it against a stone would have been to destroy it. It was constantly in their way, and appeared to be always at their mercy. Why, then, did they not rid themselves of it? They could not ; that is the answer. The Ark among the Philistines was another burning and unconsumed bush. It might appear to be at the mercy of the uncircumcised, but it was unassailable. The Philistines may send it from Ashdod to Gath, and from Gath to Ekron; but no hand can touch it to destroy it (see 1 Sam. iv.-vi).
And so the True Ark, the Son of God in flesh, may be the sport of the uncircumcised for a little season Pilate may send Him to Herod, and Annas to Caiaphas, the multitude may lead Him away to Pilate, and Pilate may give Him up again to the multitude; but His life is beyond their reach. He was the Son of God, and though manifested in flesh, still the Son as from eternity. Whatever sorrows He had gone through, whatever weariness He had endured, or hunger or thirst, all had been filling out “ the form of a servant,” which He had taken. But He was the Son who had “ life in Himself,”. the unassailable Ark—the Bush, even in the midst of the raging flames of the world's full hatred, unconsumable.
Such was the mystery I doubt not.
But, while saying this, while going through the meditations of this paper with some desire of my soul, and, I trust, profit also —there is nothing I would more cherish than to feel as a true Israelite should have felt on the day when the Ark of God returned home out of the land of the Philistines. He should then have rejoiced and worshipped; he should have been very careful to assure himself that this great event had indeed taken place, even though he were living at a distance from the
As an Israelite of any of the tribes, this thing deeply concerned him—that the Ark had been rescued, and that the uncircumcised were not still handling it, or sending it hither and thither among their cities. But being satisfied of that, he had to be watchful that he
himself did not touch it or inspect it—that he did not sin against it, like a Bethshemite, even after it had come from among the Philistines.
We are right, I am sure, in refusing those thoughts upon the mortal condition of the blessed Lord's body. All such words and speculations are as the handling of the Ark with uncircumcised or Philistine hands. And we are to show the error of the thought itself, as well as its irreverence ; that is, we are to be satisfied only with the full deliverance of the Ark, and its return to us. But then, another duty becomes us—we are not to handle it, or inspect it, as though it were ordinary. Our words are to be few; for in the multitude of words, on such a matter," there wanteth not sin.” Physical considerations of such a subject are not to be indulged, even though they may be sound and not to be gainsayed; for such considerations are not the way of the Spirit, or of the wisdom of God. The Lord's body was a temple, and it is written, “ Ye shall reverence my sanctuary; I am the Lord.”
If one were to refuse to follow these speculations, and instead of answering them to rebuke them, I could say nothing. It might be with many a soul a holy sensitive refusal to meddle beyond one's measure, and the standard of Scripture with what must ever be beyond us. I remember the words—" Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.” But these speculations on the person of the Son of God began in other quarters. The Ark got into uncircumcised hands —and this word which I have taken on me to write is an endeavour to recover it thence- and what I would indeed desire, is to take it down from “the new cart” with the reserve and holiness that become the soul in doing such service.
I will just add, that all this present question is made to profit the soul. A lion's carcase, forbidding as such an object must have been, of old time was forced to yield even honey, delicate as it is, and good for food. St. Paul had to do the forbidding work of vindicating the doctrine of resurrection in the very face of some among
the saints at Corinth; but that was made fruitful, like the carcase of the lion. For not merely does a vindication of the doctrine itself come forth, but glory after glory, belonging to that mystery, passes before him. He is given, through the Spirit, to see resurrection in its order, or in its different seasons; the interval between such seasons, and the business to be done in each of them, according to divine dispensations, the scene which is to succeed the last of those seasons, and also the great era of the resurrection of the saints, in all its power and magnificence, with the shout of triumph which is to accompany it (1 Cor. xv). Here was honey, and honey again, I may say, out of a lion's carcase, for such is controversy among brethren. But as it was once written, so is it, in the abounding grace of God, still existent.
Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness.”
NoT UNTO US, O LORD, NOT UNTO US, BUT UNTO Thy NAME GIVE GLORY, FOR THY MERCY AND FOR THY TRUTH's
COLOSSIANS i, 12-19.
Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell.
The book of Judges is the history of the failure of Israel. Joshua sets before us the energy of God acting in the midst of the people, who err nevertheless
. In Judges we see the miserable state of the nation, now become unfaithful; and at the same time, the intervention of the God of mercy in the circumstances into which their unfaithfulness had brought them. This corresponds with what are called revivals in the history of the Church of God.
In this book we no longer see blessing and power marking the establishment of the people of God. Neither does it contain the fulfilment of God's purposes, after that the people had manifested their inability to retain the blessing they had received; nor the forms and government which, in spite of the evil and internal unfaithfulness of the people, could maintain their external unity, until God judged them in their leaders. God was still the only leader acknowledged in Israel; so that the people always bore themselves the penalty of their sin.
The misery into which their unfaithfulness brought them, moving the compassion of God, His mighty grace raised up deliverers by His spirit in the midst of the fallen and wretched people. "For His soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.” “And the Lord raised up Judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them.” " And when the Lord raised them up Judges, then the Lord was with the Judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the Judge; for it repented the Lord because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them.” But Israel was unchanged. “And yet they would not hearken unto their Judges.”
6. And it came to pass, when the Judge was dead, that they