CHAPTER 12 - TABERNACLES -
THE FEAST OF GLORY
Let us recall how the three events comprising the Feast of the Passover all blended harmoniously together to form that first great Feast of the Church. There were the Passover, the Unleavened Bread, and the Sheaf of Firstfruits: distinct events, yet blending together to form one Feast--beautiful type of the death and resurrection of Christ, and the new life which His death made possible. So now in the last Feast, the events are of a threefold nature: the Blowing of the Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Ingathering. And again these three events blend together to form one great Feast, the last great revival of the Church age. Let us not imagine that this great revival of gifts and ministries of the Spirit is by any means the fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles. But it is the promise and the earnest of this fulfillment, the beginning of the end. For this move of the Spirit must rise and rise and rise (through much sifting and testing and trial), even unto the fullness of the Feast of Tabernacles itself.
And therefore, as the day of glory and of triumph begins to dawn upon the eastern horizon, we may expect to receive a foretaste of that glory as the first rays break forth upon the Church. But we dare not, we must not, settle for anything that God has yet given to any people in any age or dispensation.
We must go forward to explore the infinite realms of the Spirit of God... We must pass out of the realm of the natural, and into the realm of the spiritual... We must progress from the "length and breadth" and begin to comprehend somewhat of the "height and depth" of spiritual things. The "to and fro" experience must give way to an "ascending and descending" experience on Jacob's ladder. We must pass from a knowledge of the understandable... to a knowledge of the inconceivable... We must rise from the visible to behold the invisible... We must hear the inaudible... grasp the intangible... explore the unsearchable... and declare the unspeakable...
For God hath set eternity in our hearts, and we will not rest--nor will we give Him rest, till He stablish, and till He make Jerusalem a praise in the earth. The Church must yet bring forth a child that shall "rule all nations with a rod of iron" (Rev. 12:5). For it is given unto the overcomer to "rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter, shall they be broken to shivers" (Rev. 2:27).
ICHABOD, THE GLORY HAS DEPARTED
We can expect that with the travail of the saints to bring forth this Son, there shall also be the travail of a dying priesthood to bring forth something to perpetuate and sustain the old order. But it shall not prosper. The Aaronic priesthood--glorious as it was in its day, must give way to a new priesthood, the priesthood after the "order of Melchizedek" (Heb. 6:20).
And so it was that Hannah stood before the temple in Shiloh and in anguish of soul prayed that God would give her a man-child, for she was barren; and she promised that if her request was granted, the child would be dedicated unto the service of the Lord all his days. God heard her prayer, and give her a child, and she called his name "Samuel," meaning "Asked of God." This man-child was destined to become Israel's priest, to succeed the dying priesthood of the house of Eli. Because of the wicked way of Eli's sons, God had decreed that the priesthood should be snatched away from the house of Eli, and given to another. As a young child it was revealed to Samuel that God was going to bring judgment upon the house of Eli, and as it was revealed so it came to pass. Eli's two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, who were in line to receive the priesthood--were both slain in one day. At the same time the ark of God was captured by the Philistines; and as Eli heard the sad news he fell backward and broke his neck and died. The glory had departed from Israel, and he who served in the house of God was slain in battle. Then it was that the wife of Phinehas heard the sad news; and that news caused her pains to come upon her, and she travailed and brought forth a man-child. In her dying moments she named him "Ichabod," and she named him well, because the ark of God was taken. Ichabod signifies, "No glory," or "Where is the glory?"
And try as she will, this modern-day church system, this Babylon of religious pomp and splendour, will produce nothing but Ichabods. "Where is the Glory?" Where is that real, vital presence of the Holy Spirit in the congregation of the saints to work the very works of God Himself, and produce the fruit of the Spirit? Yes, the dying priesthood will bring forth its manchild, but Ichabod is the name. God has already prepared another manchild, and Samuel is the name. He was "asked for." The cries and prayers of God's people for years have prevailed upon the God of Heaven, and in answer to their prayers and travail, "a Son, a male" is to be born, for that is the literal translation of "manchild" (Rev. 12:5). Ichabod is in line for the priesthood, that is true; but God has ordained another priesthood, a priesthood of glory.
THE MELCHIZEDEK PRIESTHOOD
The Melchizedek priesthood is a priesthood of life, and of fadeless glory. It is a priesthood of eternal fellowship and communion with Christ, and not like the Aaronic priesthood which experienced the presence of God only on a certain occasion, once in the year. It is a priesthood that is established by the word and oath of God Himself. It is a priesthood which cannot pass away, for there is no death in the fullness of this new order. It is a priesthood of royal power and authority. Gone shall be the bondage of the world, the flesh, and the Devil. For this priesthood introduces the royal-priest behind the veil, behind the flesh. The flesh is rent asunder, and the glory of God is unveiled. The Head has already entered into this priesthood--and if He has entered it means the way is open for others to follow. "Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made a high priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek." (Heb. 6:20). It is a "new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh" (Heb. 10:20). Can you hear these words, child of God? "For us..." Not for the Church of the past centuries, for they did not hear these beautiful words, and therefore it had no application to them. But "for us" to whom the Word of God is now given. Not to men of some future dispensation or some future Kingdom: but "for us" who live in this day of opportunity, this today of hope and promise. "To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart..." In the fullness of this new priesthood we shall be completely glorified, like unto Christ. But even as Christ began His priesthood on earth by interceding for His brethren--so let us begin even now to possess this glorious heritage in the Spirit, the Kingdom of God within.
A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD
"But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people..." (1 Pet. 2:9). A royal priesthood! A priesthood of kings, and a kingdom of priests! A company of overcomers, who have power with God and with men! As priests they have power with God, and as kings they have power with men. As priests they have "access by faith into this grace" of our holy standing; and as kings they have the power of God to rule and reign in all circumstances and over all opposing forces. As priests they can intercede with God on behalf of men; and as kings they can impart life and power and deliverance to the captive, and set the oppressed free. Such is the kingdom of Melchizedek. He reigns, but he also intercedes; and in fact he reigns by interceding. His very power and kingly authority is for the benefit and sake of others. Jesus said, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore..." (Matt. 28:19). And again, "Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you" (Acts 1:8). He is King! and Priest! And He has designated His kingly authority and His priestly authority to such as are of Him and in Him. In this realm the flesh "profiteth nothing." Natural advantages, fleshly attainments, racial distinctions, educational standards, ecclesiastical success--these profit nothing. This priesthood knows nothing of father, mother, genealogy, beginning of days nor end of life. It is the sphere and realm of the Spirit of God, a priesthood and a Kingdom which the Sons of God shall enter into as they grow up into Christ.
Melchizedek signifies by his name, "King of righteousness." He is also called King of Salem, and that means King of Peace. (Heb. 7:2). His ministry, therefore, is to establish righteousness and peace in those who are under sin's dominion. And that, of course, is the very essence of the Kingdom of God. "The Kingdom of God is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost" (Rom. 14:17).
Now can we understand how the overcomer in the Day of the Lord, when Great Tribulation is upon the earth, will be able to administer help and comfort and sustenance to God's people who are under oppression and persecution. The great tribulation itself is going to be cut short because of the Sons of God. As Moses interceded for Israel and spared them from wrath; and as Jesus intercedes for His people, and spares them from wrath; so the Sons of God, through the exercise of their royal priesthood, shall actually shorten the Great Tribulation. Jesus has declared that they would: "For the elect's sake those days shall be shortened" (Matt. 24:22). The elect shall have entered into a new priesthood, a royal priesthood. As priests they will be able to present the needs of the people to God, and intercede for them; and as kings they will have the authority of God to dispense life and blessing to such as are in tribulation and distress. The world has had her day of kings and dictators whose passion it is to exercise lordship and dominion over a suffering humanity. This new Kingdom shall be a Priesthood,--a priesthood that "can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way" for they will remember their former afflictions. They will recall their former bondage under Satan's cruel kingdom, and the days of yester-years when the flesh tormented them, and they cried in anguish of soul: "O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me...?" They shall not have forgotten that they too were once sinners, defiled in His sight, and poured out their complaint to God in the bitterness of their sorrows. And therefore they shall reign as priests--co-heirs with the Son in the Kingdom of Grace.
"Even he shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both" (Zech. 6:13). What does this mean? "Between them both..."? "Both" refers back to Joshua the high priest, and "the man whose name is the branch." It is the priesthood of the Son and the many Sons. Joshua means "Jah saves," and is the same as Jesus in the Greek. The branch, on the other hand, is said to "grow up out of his place." It is Christ; and His place is the Church. But He is called the branch, or literally the sprout, because this Man is a many-membered Body, that grows up into maturity. We read therefore that the Body is to "grow up into...the head, even Christ" (Eph. 4:15). Hence, away back in the days of Zechariah who prophesied words of encouragement to the builders of the second temple, we have the truth of the new priesthood, a priesthood that reigns upon the throne, a priesthood comprising Christ and His people, the Son and the many Sons, with the counsel of peace "between them both."
Is it not written, "Heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ, if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together"? (Rom. 8:17). And does not the apostle declare that God "hath raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus"? (Eph. 2:6, Literal).
O the depths and the heights of this glorious priesthood! It far surpasses anything we can possibly imagine in the natural; for it is an infinite and eternal priesthood, and we are yet carnal and walk as men. Only by the Spirit can we comprehend anything of our heritage in Christ.
THE KINGDOM OF ISRAEL, A PATTERN OF THE CHURCH
In the history of Israel's Kingdom we have a picture of the Church of Christ throughout her long history. As a young lad on the hillsides of Bethlehem David received his Pentecost. There it was that the prophet Samuel poured the anointing oil upon his head, and he was anointed as king over Israel. So it was that the Church of early apostolic days received a mighty anointing from God, an anointing which constituted her a "royal priesthood." Like David, the Church was anointed to rule and reign; but her kingdom was in exile much of the time; she reigned amidst much conflict and tribulation. Hunted and hounded on every hand, she dwelt in caves and holes of the earth, persecuted, martyred, tortured, tossed to the lions, burnt at the stake. Every conceivable device was used against her; but the more she was persecuted, the stronger she became. The kingdom of Saul waxed weaker and weaker, and the kingdom of David waxed stronger and stronger. Finally, by the end of the third century A.D. it is said that about one-half of the Roman Empire had been converted to Christ.
Then for a brief period it would seem that the Church entered into her "Solomon" stage. Solomon means "Peace." The persecutions ceased, and for a time the Church enjoyed rest from tribulation, and she became a mighty and powerful and prosperous kingdom. However, it was not for long. The Church soon lost her power and her glory; for Satan had succeeded in deceiving her; and the prosperity which she enjoyed served only to lull her to sleep, and to rob her of her spiritual life. God warned Israel that when they took possession of their heritage, "Houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full; then beware lest thou forget the Lord, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage" (Deut. 6:11, 12). Israel did forget, and so did the Church. Solomon's glory departed and his temple was destroyed; and likewise the glory departed from the Church, and her beautiful temple was destroyed.
Then began the captivity. Israel went into Babylonian captivity; and the Church went into her spiritual Babylon of the Dark Ages. Solomon turned away from the Lord in his old age and built idolatrous images, and the king who had received the greatest wisdom ever accorded to any king in Israel--lost his glory and turned to folly. So the Church married many strange women of idolatrous and heathen Rome, and the wisdom of God which had been displayed in mighty signs and wonders and demonstrations of the Holy Spirit, degenerated into the utmost of folly.
Then there was restoration from the captivity. After the captivity a believing remnant returned from Babylon to rebuild the temple and restore Israel's order of worship. And after the Dark Ages a spiritual remnant returned from spiritual Babylon to restore God's pattern for the Church. There was Restoration for Israel; and there was Reformation for the Church. There was great persecution for the builders of the second temple in Jerusalem; and there was great persecution for Luther and his allies as they began to restore the foundations of Truth which had been lost during the Dark Ages.
Once again there was disobedience in Israel, until we come to the time of Christ, when Israel's worship had degenerated into a meaningless system of form and ritual, devoid of the glory of God. There were Scribes and Pharisees and Sadducees, and great activity in the temple; but there was no real worship of the one true God of Israel. And so we have the same thing in the Church. Protestantism itself had degenerated into a meaningless system of religion, having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof. True there is much religion, great temples, fine orchestras and choirs and illustrious preachers; but so very little real spiritual worship of God and His Christ.
And all this brings us up to the Appearing of Christ in Israel, and to the second Appearing of Christ now at the ends of the ages. Just as Israel's temple was abandoned and left unto them utterly "desolate" because of their disobedience, and a new temple was brought into being by Incarnation; so now Protestantism has been left "desolate" because of her disobedience, and a new Temple is being born by the Spirit of God,--even the Temple of the living God, the Body of Christ. As the days drew nigh when Christ was to go to Gethsemane and the Cross, He prophesied to the people, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (Jn. 2:19). They thought He meant the temple of Herod which took forty and six years to build; but no, He referred to the Temple which He was, the Temple of His body. So once again, in this hour of His second Appearing, the prophecy goes forth that He will raise up His Temple, that the Body of Christ shall be brought together to form a holy Temple of the Lord. Many have thought that He referred to the resurrection of a dying religious system; but no, He is referring to the spiritual resurrection of a spiritual Body, made One by the power of the Holy Spirit, motivated and energized by the presence and power of Christ Himself in the midst of His people.
What we should notice particularly, however, throughout this whole pattern, is that the culmination of the old order is the beginning of the new. When the veil of the old religious order was rent in twain, a new way of access was opened up into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus; and within three days a New Man, a New Temple, came into being in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. So now once again, with the veil of the old religious order being rent asunder, a new way is being opened up into the Holy of Holies, even the way of the Melchizedek priesthood--and it will not be long ere a New Temple springs into being by the resurrection of the Body of Jesus Christ, this time a spiritual resurrection. For this is the day and hour of His Appearing, the hour of His spiritual visitation within His saints. It is the day and hour when Christ shall be "formed within" His people. It is the "out-resurrection from among the dead." It is Christ "the resurrection and the life" standing in our midst. It is the seed breaking forth into the blade, the blade into the ear, the ear into the full corn. It is the caterpillar being transformed into the butterfly, and breaking forth from the cocoon of death into the glorious liberty of the atmosphere above. It is the day and hour of the manifestation of the Sons of God, when the Son Himself shall be unveiled in the hearts and lives of His many brethren.
THE FOCAL HOUR OF GOD'S PURPOSES
We may expect, therefore, that in these end times, when the events of the ages are to be focused into one, that we shall discover the pattern of this great hour prefigured and typified everywhere in the sacred Scriptures. This is the day of the "fulness of the times." The ends of the ages have come upon us. Not the end of the age; not the end of the ages; not the ends of the age; but even "the ends of the ages" (1 Cor. 10:11, Literal). And therefore, just as the river which begins as a trickle in the top of some mountain, flows down the steeps and through the plains, and gathers into its flow the waters from all the springs and rivulets and streams along the way--and finally empties all its accumulated waters into the ocean, so it is with the stream of God's purposes. There was judgment and there was glory with every age and every dispensation that God ever gave; but now we have come to the ends of the ages when all the judgments as well as all the glory of bygone ages are to find their focus in this great hour. Why did Jesus say of the Jews of His day: "That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation?" (Lk. 11:50). Simply because the sum and substance of all the promises of the Scriptures were heaped together and offered to that generation in the Person of Messiah; and therefore in their rejection of Messiah all the judgments which were due to all preceding generations were heaped together and laid upon that generation. And so it actually came to pass, and was fulfilled in the desolation of Jerusalem at the hands of the Romans in A.D. 70.
Now we have come to the ends of the ages. Once again there is an apostate religious system, upon which the wrath of God shall descend in great fury; and then shall be fulfilled the Great Tribulation, of which the desolation of Jerusalem in the days of Emperor Titus was but a type and shadow. That was a local event, concerning only the natural Jerusalem; this shall be a world-wide event, and all the earth--especially apostate Christendom--shall feel the mighty impact of the Day of the Lord. But as we have already discovered, the Day of the Lord is the unveiled might and power of the God of Heaven, descending in wrath upon the ungodly, but in great power and blessing upon the overcomer.
The dispensation of the Law could only end in tribulation and the curse: for it is a ministration of death. But the dispensation of Grace must end in glory and victory: for it is a ministration of life. The universal Church, however, has refused to accept the dispensation of Grace, and has continued from the earliest times to live under the dispensation of the Law. Religion continues to patch that which Christ has declared useless. The veil that He rent in twain has been sewn together, and the flesh continues to rule in the place of the Spirit. Instead of the blood of Christ, there is the work of man. Instead of new birth, there is moral rearmament. Instead of the Holy Spirit, there is fleshly entertainment. The Day of the Lord is at hand, even the ends of the ages, and great shall be the display of God's glory. It shall be light, glorious light, or it shall be darkness, gross darkness; and that will all depend upon our position before God. Just as all the wrath and judgments which were due to all preceding generations were heaped together and laid upon the generation of Christ's day; so now, not only all the wrath but all the glory ever administered or ever offered to all preceding generations, shall be heaped together and laid upon our generation when the Day of the Lord is revealed. It shall therefore be Great Tribulation, such as was never known from the foundation of the world; but it shall also be Great Glory, such as was never known from the foundation of the world. To the one class of people it shall be a day of "darkness" and of "gloominess." But to the other, "as the morning spread upon the mountains." (Joel 2:2). To the one, the Great Tribulation; but to the other, "The Manifestation of the Sons of God."
This is the focal hour of history. The glory of Moses' day is for us; the glory of David's kingdom is for us; the glory of Solomon's kingdom is for us; the glory of the restored temple of Ezra's day is for us; the glory of Enoch's day, and the glory of Elijah's day, and the glory of Paul's day,--all this glory and much more is available to us, if we can hear His voice.
THE ARK BROUGHT TO SOLOMON'S TEMPLE
"And all the men of Israel assembled themselves unto King Solomon at the feast of the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month. And all the elders of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark. And they brought up the ark of the Lord... into the oracle of the house, to the most holy place..." (1 Kgs. 8:2-6). David had previously pitched a tent for the ark of the Lord on Mount Zion. But he was not permitted to build a permanent house for the ark, because he had been a man of many wars. His kingdom must give way to Solomon's, and his tent to the permanent, glorious temple to be constructed by his son. And so finally, the temple was completed, and the ark of the Lord was brought into the oracle of the house, even the holy of holies. When this took place, and "the priests were come out of the holy place, ...the cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord" (vs. 10, 11).
All this took place on the occasion of the Feast of Tabernacles; a beautiful picture, therefore, of the glory which God has prepared for the Temple not made with hands, a Temple of living stones. Solomon in his great dedicatory prayer prophesied of Israel's future disobedience and their dispersion among the nations; but with that prophetic warning there was also a promise that if they returned unto God with all their heart in the land of their captivity, then God would hear from Heaven and maintain their cause. (See 1 Kgs. 8:15-61). So it happened to Israel, and so it happened to the Church. Solomon's beautiful temple was destroyed; and the Church went into the millennium of the Dark Ages.
Soon, however, the Church will have received "double for all her sins," and in the hour of restoration she shall receive double the glory that she had before. A "double portion" of Elijah's spirit was promised to his successor Elisha, if he would but follow his master step by step and keep his eyes firmly fixed upon him. And Elisha got his request. Jesus has promised, "Greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father." (Jn. 14:12).
"Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins... and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together..." (Isa. 40:1, 2, 5). A greater than Solomon is here! A greater glory than Solomon's Temple shall be revealed in this hour of the Lord's appearing in the midst of His saints.
THE STAVES REMOVED FROM THE ARK
"And they drew out the staves of the ark..." (2 Chron. 5:9). Why? Because the Church's long wilderness journey shall be over, and now she will enter into her long-awaited rest. "Now, therefore, arise O Lord God, into thy resting place, thou and the ark of thy strength: let thy priests, O Lord God, be clothed with salvation, and let thy saints rejoice in goodness. (2 Chron. 6:41). The great Church victorious is destined to become the Church at rest. Not, however, by way of the coffin. Not by living a life of defeat, and then passing on to be with the saints who have died. But by pressing into her heritage by the Spirit, and appropriating the blessedness which is hers "in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus."
And so this Feast of Tabernacles was probably the greatest in Israel's history. There was a "very great congregation, from the entering in of Hamath unto the river of Egypt." (2 Chron. 7:8). How little did they realize that they, in their joy and gladness of heart, were merely fulfilling the rites and ceremonies of a fading type and shadow, and that one day it would give way to the unveiled glory of God in the Church of Jesus Christ, and especially in the Church of this great hour in which we live!
JEROBOAM'S SUBSTITUTE FEAST
Let us ever be on the watch for the counterfeit. God's glory is not going to be revealed without the apostate religious world trying to reproduce the same thing in the power of the flesh. Especially now in this day, with the powers of darkness mustering their forces and bringing forth their secret weapons, the saints are going to find it increasingly difficult to discern the real from the counterfeit. It is not going to be sufficient that we should see signs and wonders and miracles performed in the name of Christ; for Satan is going to empower his emissaries of light to do all the miracles that the Church will do. Jannes and Jambres worked side by side with Aaron, performing sign for sign, and miracle for miracle. But it will not always last. In due course "their folly shall be manifest," even as the wisdom of the Church shall be manifest. The time will come when Aaron's rod shall swallow up the rods of the magicians, and their power shall be broken.
Therefore, in this hour of the Church's trial and sifting, when the real and the counterfeit are going to work side by side--let us be on the alert to detect the false and discern the real. Only the walk of obedience and faith and utter consecration will deliver the child of God from the deception of Satan. Discern the Lord's Body. Recognize the ministries which He is establishing in the Body. "By their fruits ye shall know them." Not by their miracles, or by their signs, or by their wonders; but "by their fruits."
And so it is quite evident, even now in this hour of the Body of Christ, that Jeroboam the Enlarger (for so is his name by interpretation) is going to seek the expansion of his kingdom by producing a counterfeit of the real. When people are hungry for God and can see the moving of God's spirit, the adversary always tries to reproduce what the people are looking for in order to isolate them from the Truth. If there is healing, Jeroboam will heal. If there is a manifestation of the Spirit, Jeroboam will have something similar. If there are tongues in the Spirit, Jeroboam will speak in tongues. If there is prophecy, singing in the Spirit, laying on of hands for the gifts, miracles, words of knowledge or wisdom,--or any other manifestation of the supernatural which God has in store for the saints--then Jeroboam will do all in his power to reproduce these same manifestations in his kingdom. And unless the people have spiritual discernment they will be deceived.
This is what happened. Because of Solomon's disobedience God decreed that his kingdom should be broken up. And so to Jeroboam were given ten tribes of Israel for his kingdom, and to Rehoboam were given the other two tribes. Jeroboam, then, was to be king of Israel; and Rehoboam king of Judah. But Jeroboam was at a great disadvantage, because Jerusalem was in Rehoboam's kingdom--and what would happen if Israel should go up to the holy city to worship God? So reasoned Jeroboam. He was in danger of losing his kingdom if the people were to continue going up to Jerusalem to sacrifice unto the Lord and observe the Feasts. So we are told he took counsel, "and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt." (1 Kgs. 12:28). And the people believed it! And so they went to worship at Bethel and Dan where the calves were set up. You see, Bethel means House of God, and Dan signifies Judge. We have shown how the number "two" signifies the Body of Christ, the fullness of Christ in His people. And so Jeroboam made two calves. Bethel the House of God, and Dan the Judge! A real counterfeit of the Body of Christ and the ministries in that Body! Dan will be there to judge; there will be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. And to all appearances it will be the Body of Christ. It was at Bethel, you will recall, that God appeared to Jacob when he fled from the face of his brother Esau, and as he slept he saw the angelic hosts ascending and descending upon the ladder. We have already shown how this typifies the fullness of the Son of Man in His Body. And Jacob awoke in fear and cried: "How dreadful is this place! This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven." (Gen. 28:17). But now at the very house of God a golden calf is worshipped as the God of Israel!
Nor will Jeroboam stop at this. The saints of God in this present hour are hungry, desperately hungry for the things of God and the restoration of the Feasts of the Lord. And so Jeroboam will provide a Feast of Tabernacles for them too. "And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah... So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart..." (1 Kgs. 12:32, 33).
These are sad truths, and yet so genuinely applicable in our day. And the reason for the whole idolatrous system was simply this: Jeroboam did not have the real thing, and he wanted to maintain his kingdom, so he had to provide a substitute. The golden calves which he made were intended to maintain the unity of his kingdom, and to prevent his people from going to Jerusalem to keep the real Feasts of the Lord. "And this thing became a sin..." to the children of Israel. But God's judgment was upon it. Said the Lord, "They have set up kings, but not by me: they have made princes, and I knew it not: of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off. Thy calf, O Samaria, hath cast thee off; mine anger is kindled against them." (Hos. 8:4, 5).
Do you see, then, how subtly the enemy will work, and how easy it is going to be for Christians to become entangled in an idolatrous system and not realize it? Notice this one thing: that Jeroboam's attempt to reproduce the real thing according to the devices of his own heart--produced nothing more than an idolatrous system of worship. He followed the pattern as close as he could, but he missed the real Feast. His was in the eighth month; the real Feast of Tabernacles was in the seventh. So shall it be in our day. Any attempt to reproduce the real moving of the Spirit of God, in order to maintain and sustain a dying denominational system, will eventually lead to idolatry.
The day of reckoning is at hand, and judgment must begin at the House of God. This idolatrous ecclesiastical system is doomed. The word of prophecy has gone forth upon Jeroboam's altar: "O altar, altar, thus saith the Lord; Behold, a child shall be born unto the House of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men's bones shall be burnt upon thee..." (1 Kgs. 13:2). Aaron's rod shall yet swallow up the rods of the magicians in the Day of Christ's Appearing; and the dross shall be consumed from the gold and the silver in the house of Levi. "The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple... And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as god and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness." (Mal. 3:1, 3). He comes to His temple! Even to the Church of the living God. "For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them..." (2 Cor. 6:16).
BY WISDOM SHALL THE CHURCH BE BUILT
When the people of God ridicule these great truths concerning the rebuilding of God's holy Temple, and the perfection of the saints into one, vital, united Body--such ridicule is not against the saints, but it is against God Himself. We know God's people do not realize this, but that is exactly what they are doing. They are not ridiculing men, but God who has spoken and declared His purpose. And they are not scoffing at fools, but they are scoffing at the Wisdom of God. Why should it be thought incredible that a God of Wisdom should do all these things and more? Was it not by Wisdom that God established the heavens and the earth? (Prov. 3:19). And is Wisdom not the gift of God, which fools may receive by simply asking God for it in faith? (Jas. 1:5). And furthermore, is not the Wisdom of God always foolishness with man? (1 Cor. 1:20-25). Let us not be guilty. therefore, of charging God with folly. What device of man or Devil shall be able to withstand the Wisdom of God and prevail?
The Church and the world are both going to be literally dumbfounded and amazed when the Wisdom of God is restored to the Church in great power. Nothing shall be able to withstand the Wisdom of the Almighty. And that is exactly how Solomon's Kingdom became so prosperous and mighty, because of the wisdom which he received from God. Now if this be so concerning the natural kingdom of Solomon, how much more shall it be so concerning the spiritual Kingdom of Christ? For the wisdom that God hath in store for the Sons of God shall far outshine and surpass the wisdom of Solomon. Let us not stumble at the commonly accepted, but false interpretation of 1 Kgs. 3:12, "I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee." From 2 Chron. 1:12, it is clear that God was referring to the kings of Israel, his predecessors and his successors--and it is true that Solomon's wisdom far exceeded that of any king who reigned in Israel before or after. "Wisdom and knowledge is granted unto thee; and I will give thee riches, and wealth, and honor, such as none of the kings have had that have been before thee, neither shall there any after thee have the like." But Jesus said, "A greater than Solomon is here." And this "greater than Solomon" is going to reveal Himself in His people; so that the display of wisdom in God's people shall far exceed anything we have ever imagined to be possible. "To the intent," says Paul, "That now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God," (Eph. 3:10). "The manifold," or literally, "The many-sided wisdom of God." Solomon's wisdom was displayed before all the great kings of the earth; so that they came from all parts to hear and to behold the wisdom which he had. But this Wisdom, this very manifold, many-sided Wisdom of God is going to be displayed--not only before earthly rulers, but before the principalities and the powers of the Heavenlies!
No wonder Solomon tells us: "Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established." (Prov. 24:3). So shall it be with the House of God. It shall be built, it shall be established, by Wisdom, even the manifold Wisdom of God. There was no more spirit left in the Queen of Sheba as she beheld the glory of Solomon's kingdom; and though she had heard of his fame she confessed. "Behold, the one half of the greatness of thy wisdom was not told me..." (2 Chron. 9:6). But lo! A Greater than Solomon dwelleth in the midst of God's people. And shall not His Glory exceed the fame of anything we have heard or read, even from the Scriptures? And shall not His Kingdom be established, even unto the uttermost parts of the earth?
IS GOD TEASING THE SAINTS?
God forbid! Hath He spoken and shall He not do it? Hath He promised and shall He not bring it to pass? Did He not mean what He said concerning the Holy Spirit, that He was given to search out the "depths of God," even the things that have not entered into the heart of man? Shall the prayer of the Son of God go unanswered? And were His words falsely spoken when He declared, "The glory which thou gavest me I have given them?" Shall the first Adam who brought desolation and chaos into the world be permitted to live almost a thousand years, and the sons of the Last Adam be accounted blasphemers and fanatics for preaching Divine Health and Divine Life? Shall men like Enoch and Elijah reach out and appropriate translation by faith, and the brethren of Christ be accursed for cherishing a similar hope? Shall the All-wise God account Himself a fool according to His Beloved Son, for not sitting down first and counting the cost, and see whether He is able to lay a foundation for a glorious Temple, and not able to finish it, while scoffers and passers-by ridicule His feeble architectural plans? Shall the gates of Hell continue to prevail against the Church of Jesus Christ? Shall the great Husbandman admit defeat, and thrust in the sickle before the grain is ripe and fully formed in the ear? Shall He prove the impatience of His Spirit by cutting down the grain before it receives the early and the latter rain? Shall He impart gifts of the Spirit to His people and set the ministers of Christ in the Church for the perfecting of the saints, and then rapture them all before they attain to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ? Shall He serve good wine in the beginning of the feast, and reserve the diluted mixture for the last? Shall a God of wisdom, in the unfolding of the greatest drama of the ages, make a spectacle of the saints before angels and before men, and culminate the Acts of the apostles with the tragic blunder of Modernism and present-day apostasy? Shall the Wisdom, the very manifold wisdom of God in the Church, which God intended for display even now unto the principalities and powers, degenerate into the wisdom that is earthly, sensual, and devilish? Shall demons and hosts of wickedness continue to have a free hand as they barter with the bodies and minds of God's people? Shall God not rise up in vengeance on behalf of His elect? Is God not concerned about vindicating His great Name, while the nations rage against the authority of Zion's King, and make His heritage a desolation? Shall the ever-increasing glory of the New Covenant give way to the transient, fading glory of the Law? Or shall the ministration of God's power in the passing glory of the day of Moses, exceed the ministration of God's power in this day? Shall God not restore the years that the locust, the caterpillar, the palmerworm, and the cankerworm have eaten? And shall not the glory of this latter house be greater than the former, saith the Lord of hosts? Shall all creation, yea the children of God themselves,--groan and travail in birth-pangs for the manifestation of the sons of God, all to no end or purpose? And if Zion travail, shall she not bring forth? Or shall the sons be brought to the birth, and God shut the womb?
No! A thousand times no! God's Sons shall yet be manifested in this great hour of the Church's sorrow and travail; and shall display before this wicked and perverse generation the unveiled glory of God in a manner not hitherto revealed or even imagined. The prayers of sorrow and bitterness and travail throughout this long wilderness journey of the Church from Pentecost until now--have all been bottled up in the heavenly vials, and soon they shall be poured upon the world in great Heaven-shaking events, dethroning the powers of darkness and of Satan, and establishing the overcomer in authority on Zion's mountain.
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