- TABERNACLES - THE FEAST OF HIS APPEARING
We mentioned in the first part of the book how the observance of the natural Feasts served to illustrate their spiritual application to the Church. Thus when the Feast was observed at the dedication of Solomon’s Temple, we have a type and pattern of the Glory of the Church, and when the Feast was observed in the days of Zerubbabel’s temple, we have a type of the restoration of the Church to her first Glory. Now we come to the occasion on which the Feast was observed in the time of Christ.
|Zefirelli-Jesus of Nazareth:Raising of Lazarushttp://youtu.be/1chPr40N-bA|
Let us recall how that in the plan of God Israel’s Passover was the occasion that God chose for Christ Himself to die as the true Passover Lamb. And again, on that great day of Pentecost, when devout Jews had assembled from all parts of the Roman Empire to keep the Feast--then it was that God poured out the Holy Spirit on His disciples, thus fulfilling the old and establishing the new Pentecost. It is therefore with great significance that we read these words: "Now the Jews’ feast of tabernacles was at hand. His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest." (Jn. 7:2,3.) However, the Lord remained where He was until His brethren had gone to the Feast; and afterward went up "as it were in secret." (vs. 10.) No doubt the Lord intentionally visited the Feast of the Jews "in secret" by way of illustrating a great truth to the Church, the truth of His appearing.
RESURRECTION LIFE FOR US
There is no question as to the fact that one day "the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout," and the saints shall be caught away to be with Him for ever. (1 Thess. 4:16.) And again, "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." (1 Cor. 15:52.) This is the final victory for the Church, when mortality is clothed upon with immortality, and corruption puts on incorruption. This is the consummation of the Church’s last great victorious event, for then it is that "Death is swallowed up in victory," and the "last enemy," even Death, is destroyed. (I Cor. 15:26,54.)
We are sure of this, however, that the Church is being robbed of her glory in not knowing that there is rapture for her even now, while waiting for Rapture, and there is resurrection here and now while we wait for Resurrection. There is no doubt whatever that God holds many secrets for future revelation concerning the order of events and the nature of the Resurrection. But in this we are confident: before this cherished rapture or resurrection takes place, there is to arise a group of overcomers who shall appropriate even here and now their heritage of Resurrection Life in Jesus Christ. God has placed His only Begotten at His own right hand in the heavenlies, until all his enemies have been placed under His feet. (Ps. 110:1; 1 Cor. 15:25,26.) There He shall remain, in obedience to the Word of the Father, until there ariseth a people who shall go in and possess their heritage in the Spirit, and conquer over all opposing forces of World, Flesh, and Devil. We are not inferring that the saints will go about in glorified bodies. But we are speaking of the saints reaching out and appropriating even here and now in their earthly temples the very Life of Christ, of entering into their heritage in the Spirit, of participating in the Melchizedek priesthood and kingdom, and of living the very spotless, immaculate life of the Son of God Himself in virtue of His abiding presence within.
Let us remember that God is bound by His word and His oath, but He is not bound by the dispensations, by general historical procedure, nor yet by the notions of men. "It is appointed unto men once to die . . .," that is quite true; but even though death is quite general God was free to reach down and translate Enoch "that he should not see death" when this holy man believed for it. (Heb. 11:5.) Nor did it prevent God from catching Elijah up into heaven in a whirlwind, when He chose to do so. (2 Kgs. 2:11.) Nor could it prevent the Lord from extending the life of John the Beloved for two thousand years, if He chose to do so. It was neither Peter’s business, nor ours, nor was it contrary to God’s Word, if the Lord wanted it that way. (Jn. 21:22.) Jesus has promised that He would raise up "at the last day" all those who would believe on His Name. (Jn. 6:40.) There is no question about that. But that did not stop Him from resurrecting Lazarus, even during His earthly ministry. (Jn. 11:44.) Nor did it prevent Moses from rising from the dead somewhat prematurely, as he must have done according to Jude 9. Neither did it prevent the tombs from bursting assunder when Christ died on the Cross, and the bodies of the saints arising and coming into the city and appearing unto many. (Matt. 27:52,53.) God is perfectly free to raise whom He will any time He chooses; to impart Divine Life to whomsoever he will, whenever one shall believe for it; and to translate any one that has the faith for it. Let us not argue with the good-man of the House; is He not free to do as He will with His own? If we have bargained with God for a resurrection at the last Day: are we going to have an evil eye if God in mercy and love imparts His resurrection life to some before the last day?
JESUS CHRIST, THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE
One of the most glorious facts of Scripture, we believe, is this: that the Resurrection and the Life is not a mere historic event, to take place in the distant future,--but the Resurrection and the Life is a Person, even the Lord Jesus Christ who dwells in our hearts. How He yearned over Mary and Martha at the tomb of Lazarus, and sought to inspire faith in their hearts to believe in Him. But they would insist, like the vast majority of Christians today, in believing facts about Him and about God, instead of believing in Him. "I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection . . . I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God....." But all the time Jesus was wanting them to believe that He was the I Am, the answer to their immediate need. A historical resurrection? Of course, they would believe in that. Christ, the Messiah? Why of course, they would believe that. But this kind of faith is not sufficient to bring one into the fulness of sonship, and to a real genuine appropriation of Divine Life here and now. They confessed their faith in the fact that Lazarus would rise again in the resurrection at the last day. But Jesus replied, "I am the Resurrection, and the Life . . ." Resurrection and Life, then, are not merely the attributes of the resurrection, and events which are to take place at the rapture. But the Resurrection and the Life are held out to the Sons of God even here and now.
"I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live . . ." That was the case of Lazarus, was it not? And did he not live, because he died believing in Christ? And then the Lord continues, "And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?" (Jn. 11:25,26.) It is certain we do not believe it. O, we might believe it theoretically but not one of us has believed it experimentally, or Divine Life would be surging through our beings. But the promise is there nevertheless, even though we all disbelieve it. "Let God be true and every man a liar." By faith all things are and shall be possible. The very dispensations themselves are but weak barriers and obstacles if men of faith are enabled by the Spirit to reach out and leap beyond them. Enoch did it. So did Elijah. And so shall the Sons of God. The Word of faith shall grip their hearts, and they shall reach out and appropriate the Resurrection and the Life even now in this life. If they do not, Christ never will return to earth. For God hath said, "Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool." (Ps. 110:1.) And the last enemy is Death!
THE COMING OF THE LORD
There has been a general misunderstanding of the Word of God throughout Christendom concerning the truth of the coming of the Lord; for it is clear as we consider all the Scriptures on the subject, that the Lord’s coming is a spiritual visitation in the midst of His people, as well as a literal and bodily visitation. James therefore associates the bestowal of the latter rain with the "coming" of the Lord: "Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he (it) receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh." (Jas. 5:7,8.) Notice in this passage how the truth concerning the latter rain is sandwiched between these two statements concerning the "coming of the Lord."
The word commonly translated "coming" in the New Testament is "parousia," which signifies "presence," or "a being alongside." It is therefore used of the coming of men in the flesh, as well as of the coming of Christ. That the word signifies "presence" more than the act of one’s arrival, is evident from 2 Pet. 1:16.17. In this passage Peter describes the glorious visitation of God on the mount of transfiguration as the "coming," the "parousia," the "presence" of Christ. Now Christ had already come in the flesh; the four men had walked together up the mountain; but here was a "coming" of the Lord not previously known. And so he says, "For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Notice how the apostle associates the power and coming of Christ with the glory of God that appeared in the hour of Christ’s transfiguration. In fact, the Lord Himself explains that this visitation of the Glory was in reality, the very Kingdom of God. In each of the three accounts where the scene is recorded the story is preceded with the remark: "But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Kingdom of God." (Lk. 9:27.) Matthew describes it as "the Son of man coming in his kingdom." (Matt. 16:28.) Mark refers to it as "the kingdom of God come with power." (Mk. 9:1.) and Peter combines the two statements in the words, "The power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
THE MOSES-ELIJAH COMPANY
The whole transfiguration scene is a beautiful picture of the power and coming of the Lord into the midst of His people in this glorious hour to create the Moses-Elijah ministry. Moses, and Elijah; because this is the day and hour when the old must give way to the new, when death is to be swallowed up of life, when Law must be fulfilled in Grace. And so Moses typifies the old order of Law and of death. Elijah speaks of the new order, of grace and of life. This is the hour known as the "ends of the ages" when the judgments that have been written concerning the Church and the world must be fulfilled on the one hand, and all the glory and power that is written concerning the Church must be fulfilled on the other hand. Hence the Moses-Elijah company: the fulness of God in the midst of His people, to do away with the old and to establish the new. Moses died; Elijah lived. Moses went down into the grave; Elijah went up into Heaven. Moses administered death and condemnation; Elijah in translation administered life and power--and the very mantle that he wore fluttered down upon his servant Elisha, even the mantle of power and life. This is the hour of God’s vengeance upon the earth; but it is also the hour of God’s Glory in the midst of His people.
THE DAY OF VENGEANCE
"For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled." (Lk. 21:22.) Vengeance! How we shrink from the awfulness of the Day! But this vengeance is not only to administer death; it is also to administer life. When Jesus picked up the scroll in the synagogue of Nazareth and opened it to the place which spoke of the anointed Messiah bringing deliverance to the people. He closed the book just before He came to the words," . . . And the day of vengeance of our God." He was reading from the prophet Isaiah, as follows: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord . . ." (Isa. 61:1,2.) Thus far the Lord read, and then closed the book and gave it back to the servant. (Lk. 4:20.) Why, then, did the Lord close the scroll there, right in the middle of Isa. 61:2? Because thus far was His earthly ministry, and no further. The common explanation is that the remainder of the verse will be fulfilled after the rapture of the Church. Now it is true that the remainder of Isa. 61:2 is to find its fulfillment in the Day of the Lord, when God’s judgments are poured out. But what seems to be largely ignored is the fact that the day of vengeance is at the same time a great day of blessing. Isaiah therefore continues: "And the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called Trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified." (Isa. 61:2,3.) True, it is the day of vengeance, but it is likewise a day of rejoicing--for it is the display of God’s power and glory. It is therefore vengeance upon the works of the Devil, and that will bring judgment to the disobedient, but rejoicing to the obedient. That is why we read, "Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: Behold. your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert." (Isaiah 35:4-6.) Vengeance? Yes, but to save, to heal, to revive. Again we read, "For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come," (Isa. 63:4.) Vengeance? Yes, but at the same time the "year of my redeemed!"
THE TWO WITNESSES
Such, then, is the ministry of this Moses-Elijah company, We are told that the "two witnesses" shall have the power "to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will." (Rev. 11:6.) "As often as they will."--for the simple reason that they have overcome, they abide in Christ, and their will is the very will of the Father manifested through them. They have the "mind of Christ," so that they minister judgments according to the Spirit of God. It is quite evident that this is the Moses-Elijah company from an examination of the judgments which they administer. Their power is the very same as that of Moses and Elijah: to turn water into blood, to smite the earth with all manner of plagues, and to shut up the heavens that it rain not. They have the fire of the Holy Ghost in their mouth, and that is their protection and power. They are sent forth into the earth to administer God’s power. If there is repentance, there is power to bless; if there is enmity, there is power to destroy. Says Paul, "To the one we are the savor of death unto death; and to the other the savor Of life unto life." (2 Cor. 2:16.) It is the ministry of Christ; but it is the fulness of Christ in His people, Remember what we observed about the number "two"--it signifies Christ in His fullness, in His Body, His people, His overcomers--this "perfect man" created "in Himself" (Eph. 2:15) John further identifies the two-witnesses by referring to a prophecy of Zechariah: "These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks, standing before the God of the earth." We mentioned these two olive trees in a previous chapter. In Zechariah we read, "What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof? Then said he, These are the two anointed ones (literally, ‘these are the two sons of oil’), that stand by the Lord of the whole earth." (Zech. 4:11,14.) These were the builders of the restored temple, to whom God said, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." these are the two "sons of oil," those who live, and move, and walk, and think, and speak, and work in the very realm of the Spirit of the Living God.
ELIJAH’S TWO-FOLD APPEARANCE
The Day of Vengeance, therefore, is to be a great day of restoration. But before there can be real and genuine restoration, there must be destruction: destruction to the works of the world, the flesh, and the Devil. And so there is Moses to destroy, and Elijah to restore. It is noteworthy that in the last chapter of the last book of the Old Testament we read these words: "Remember ye the law of Moses my servant . . . Behold. I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers . . ." (Mal. 4:4-6.) Of course, Christ did appear once, in one Man, in the flesh. And therefore we had a partial fulfillment of the Elijah ministry in one man, in the flesh: and that man was John the Baptist. Said Jesus, "Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed." (Mk. 9:13.) His ministry was to prepare the people for Christ’s Appearing. But a great secret in God’s counsels was this: Christ was to appear twice, first in Incarnation, and secondly at the ends of the ages. Now we are awaiting Christ’s second Appearing, this time in power and glory in the saints, in the fulness of His Body. And therefore we can expect not only an Elijah ministry, but the fulness of the Moses-Elijah ministry. Christ’s first Appearing was in the Head only, in one Man. Hence Elijah appeared in one man, even John the baptist--for his spirit and power rested upon him. Now Christ will appear in His Church the Body. Hence the Moses-Elijah company, the fulness of Christ in many.
It is remarkable that the Lord’s declaration concerning the coming of Elijah followed immediately after the Transfiguration experience, when Moses and Elijah had appeared in glory on the mount. The Lord was "transfigured," we are told, and Moses and Elijah "appeared in glory" with him. (Lk. 9:31.) The Glory was Christ’s Glory, and He it was that was "transfigured," but these two men appeared in His Glory. And that, in fact, is exactly what is going to happen when Christ is manifested in the saints; the saints are to appear with Him in Glory! "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory." (Col. 3:4.) It is participation in the Transfiguration glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, just as Moses and Elijah appeared in His Transfiguration glory. The Scriptures teach that this Transfiguration is for us.
"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed (transfigured) by the renewing of your mind . . ." (Rom. 12:2.)
"But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed (transfigured) into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Cor. 3:18.)
The open face is the "unveiled" face. The reference is to the veil which Moses wore over his eyes to hide the glory from the sensitive eyes of the Israelites, when he came down from the mountain. But when he went in to speak to the Lord, he took the veil off. Paul, therefore, exhorts the Corinthians to take the veil off. This is the day and hour of God’s great Unveiling--even the Unveiling of the Sons of God! And as our eyes and hearts and minds become unveiled before God, we are going to be transfigured into the same image! These words are unmistakable in clearness. The same image! And this image is developed and manifested as we partake of His Transfiguration, with minds and hearts and eyes unveiled before the Spirit of God.
What Peter beheld, therefore, on the Mount of Transfiguration was a true picture of the "power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" into the midst of His people in this great hour of His power and Kingdom. But it was just a picture; and when the real meaning of the scene is fully revealed to us by way of experience, it will far outshine any attempt to describe it. The best we can do now is to behold some of these truths as through a glass darkly. We have all puzzled over Peter’s strange suggestion: "Let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias." Apparently Peter was so caught away in the ecstasy of the Spirit that he thought they were observing the real Feast of Tabernacles; and his immediate suggestion, therefore, was to erect a little tabernacle or booth for each of them, as they were accustomed to do at this Feast. It certainly was a foretaste of the real Feast of Tabernacles, for which the saints are looking: but coming to himself Peter realized it was but a vision, and the hour of the Feast had not really arrived.
All the events that transpired at the Transfiguration scene are no doubt very significant, and at the same time largely hidden from our view. However as the Day of His Appearing draws nigh, and the scene is reproduced in its fulness in the Body of Christ, its Glory shall far transcend what happened on that occasion. Still it was a wonderful event, and Peter never forgot its glory. To him that was the real Coming (Parousia) and the real Power (Dunamis) of the Kingdom, "For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the Power and Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. but were eyewitnesses of His majesty . . ." (2 Pet. 1:16.) And he used the plural, we, because he was speaking for James and John as well. No wonder Peter, James, and John spoke much of the manifestation of Christ within His people, of the Day-star arising in their hearts, of abiding in Christ, of seeing Him as He is, and of being made exactly like him in the hour of His spiritual visitation in the hearts of His people. That is the hope of the Church. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him-- for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure." (1 Jn. 3:2,3.) It is the Appearing of Christ within His people, and their, consequent transfiguration after His very likeness by beholding Him as He is: not by rapture, but by the spirit! ". . . transfigured into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Cor. 3:18.)
THE SECRET-CHRIST IN YOU
It is significant, therefore, that on the occasion of the Feast of Tabernacles the Lord went up to the Feast "not openly, but as it were in secret." For it is in this very manner that He shall first reveal Himself to the saints. Says Paul, "Even the mystery (secret) which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery (secret) among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Col. 1:26,27.) Wonderful secret! That Christ should visit the saints in the last great Feast, and minister His life "in secret" before He is openly manifested!
Christians think it a horrible thing that Christ’s second Coming should be spoken of in this manner. To so many, there is no real Coming of the Lord until He comes visibly, openly, and physically. Why is this? Because to them the only things that are real are the things that they can see. Whereas Paul declares that the things which are most real are eternal, invisible, and spiritual. "While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." (2 Cor. 4:18.) When a Christian comes to that place where he really appreciates and understands and enjoys Spiritual things, then he can truly rejoice in the fact that Christ is coming back again to be manifested within.
Speaking of this glorious intimacy which He would have with His own, and which the world would not understand, we are told that "Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight." (Lk. 10:21.)
This does not seem good to orthodox religion; but it seemed good to the Father. Paul tells us that God "was pleased to make known" the glory of this mystery, this secret. For it is a secret that is shared by Christ and His intimate friends. "All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him." (Lk. 10:22.) Here is a knowledge of the Father and the Son such as no man can acquire except by revelation. Theology will unveil before the student all manner of facts relative to the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, But here is a knowledge which defies any attempt of man to unravel. It is a knowledge, not about God and about Christ and about doctrines, but it is a genuine knowledge of God and an intimate acquaintanceship with Him.
UNION WITH FATHER AND SON
In John 14 we have a beautiful description of Christ’s Coming unto His own by the Spirit. Let it apply to the rapture, or to Heaven, if you will, for it is our heavenly heritage, even the "heavenlies" that God has placed us in by His grace. But those who will reach out and appropriate this new life, and are initiated into this "secret" of which we have been speaking--theirs shall be the joy and delight of exploring the heavenlies long before they get there.
"Let not your heart be troubled," said Jesus, "Ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you." (Jn. 14:1,2.) Then after much perplexity on the part of His disciples, the Lord explained fully what He meant by Father’s house of "many mansions," and the place which He was going to prepare for them. First of all He shows that it is a spiritual place of union with the Father and the Son, a union so blessed and intimate that, if the Son whom they thought they knew was really apprehended and really known--then they would be in vital union with the Father also. "No man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should (would) have known my Father also . . ." In consequence of this glorious union, therefore, it would come to pass that the beloved disciples would do "greater works" than Christ Himself performed when on earth, because He was returning to the Father; and the vital power and life and union which was His with the Father would then be transmitted to the disciples, and it would become their heritage. So positive and so real and so genuine is this secret life in union with the Father and the Son that Jesus promised without any qualifications whatsoever, "if ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it." In our carnal minds we reason that God could not mean exactly that, because if He did, then men would be asking for all manner of earthly and selfish things, and God would be dishonored, and still duty-bound to grant the request. But the fact is this: Christ has made this promise only to such as know the "secret of the Lord," and are in vital union with the Father through Him. Such a man in such a spiritual condition could ask nothing except what would please the Father, and God would have to hear his prayer. In fact, the believer’s prayer would be the very prayer of the Spirit of God within him. For in this blessed condition we have "the mind of Christ," and we could only think and pray in the Spirit.
Then the matter is solved, for the Lord goes on to explain how all this shall come to pass. When He went away He would ask the Father to send the Holy Spirit to "abide" with them for ever. And it is this abiding experience in the Holy Spirit that constitutes this new life of which we speak. "I will not leave you comfortless (orphans)," said Jesus. "I will come to you." (Vs. 18.)
Jesus said, let us notice, "I will come"--and He was referring to the coming of the Holy Spirit in the fulness of His abiding presence. The Appearing of the Lord in secret in the hearts of His disciples! "Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more, but ye see me . . ." (Vs. 19.)
Notice this also: "Ye see me . . ." Let us remember, as we pointed out before, that the real things of God are not seen with the natural eye, but are seen by the eye of the Spirit. This Coming of the Lord, therefore, is genuine and real to those who can see Him after this manner: in fact, far more real than His physical and bodily appearance to the world. "Ye see me . . . " See Him not in the flesh, for henceforth we are to know no man after the flesh, not even Christ. (2 Cor. 5;16); but see him with the eyes of the Spirit, like Moses of old beholding Him "who is invisible," That Christ is not speaking here of a literal and physical appearance it is evident, for He says, "The world seeth me no more; but ye see me." And why? "Because I live, ye shall live also."
Then notice once again how vital and how glorious this union becomes when we enter into the fulness of this experience. "At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you." What day? The day of which He has been speaking all through this chapter, the day of this abiding experience in the Holy Spirit. "I am in my Father," He said. We cannot doubt that; we know that the Son is genuinely one with the Father, completely immersed in the celestial glory. But in the same breath He continues, "And ye in me, and I in you." Therefore, if the union of the Father and Son is genuine and exquisite and real and vital and powerful, then the union of the Son and the many brethren is to be just as real and just as glorious.
THE SECRET OF THIS MYSTERY
What is the secret of being initiated into this secret experience? It is very, very, simple; and therefore at the same time very difficult for man to appropriate: because he must simply cast away his life in the natural, that he might find it in the more abundant life of the Spirit. He must lose his life in order that he might find it. He must consecrate Himself absolutely and entirely unto the will of God. "If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and We will come unto him . . ." The Coming of the Father and the Son! "We will come . . ." A secret visitation of Christ in the hearts of His people. "And make our abode with him. . ."
When Jesus said, "We come unto him, and make our abode with him." He used the very same word for abode as He used back in vs. 2 when He said, "In my Father’s house are many mansions." The word "mansion" and "abode" is one and the same Greek word. This, then, is the real mansion that Christ has gone to prepare for His own. Some might prefer a house of gold or of glistening white marble or pearl. But those things are corruptible; even gold and silver are described by the apostle as being "corruptible things." They are not real. The real things are the spiritual counterparts of gold, and pearls, and sapphires, and emeralds, and jasper. In our finite and limited understanding these natural and earthly things are used to describe our heavenly heritage--because that is the only language that we can understand. But in reality, the glorious realm of the Spirit far transcends and outshines any such earthly glory.
One glorious thing about the realm of the Spirit is that here there is nothing stagnant or monotonous. Immediately one is introduced into this glorious realm there is ceaseless progression and activity. Then you are linked up with the infinite and eternal God, whose ways are past finding out, whose depths are unsearchable, and whose heights are unattainable.
Therefore the Lord tells us there are many abodes in Father’s House, depending on the level of one’s Christian experience, and his spiritual attainment through faith and obedience. "In a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonour." (2 Tim. 2:20.) There is a resting-place, an abiding-place; but in God the true rest is found in the midst of outward strife and warfare: and the true abiding-place is the one that is ceaselessly moving forward and upward into a closer and more vital union with the Father. Israel’s rest in Canaan consisted in conquering the enemy and marching forward to possess their possessions. It did not consist of crossing Jordan, and then settling down on the banks of the river and singing the victory song. Nor is it so with the abiding experience in the Holy Spirit. If we are abiding in Christ, we are abiding in a River, a River that flows on for ever.
THE KINGDOM IS WITHIN
"And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say Lo here! or lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. (Lk. 17:20,21.) A common explanation of this passage is this: the kingdom of God in the Church is invisible and "cometh not" with observation; but when the earthly Kingdom Age begins, then it will come with observation. As a matter of fact, there is nothing intimated here about two kingdoms; nor is it stated that the Kingdom of God cannot, or will not, be observed. Of course it will be observed and made manifest in the earth in due course; and "of His Kingdom there shall be no end." But this passage is very clear as to how and in what manner the Kingdom shall be brought into being.
Not with a great burst of glory from Heaven, for it "cometh not" with observation. Rather shall it come "in secret," in the hearts of God’s people.
"So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself: first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear." (Mk. 4:26-28.) The full corn is wonderful to see; so is the ear: and even the blade is visible. But it all started under the ground through the mysterious, secret, invisible processes of nature, we know not how.
"Again the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field. . ." Matt. 13:44.) The hidden kingdom! And Christ is the One who sold all that He had, and purchased us unto Himself. To do so He redeemed the whole world through His Blood. Soon will He remove the treasure from its hiding place, and manifest it!
LOOKING FOR THAT BLESSED HOPE
In Christ’s day the Jews were constantly looking forward to the day when their Messiah would suddenly manifest Himself in great power, deliver them from the Roman yoke, and set up the Kingdom. No wonder the Lord was so unpopular with them, for He told them plainly that the Kingdom would not come with "intense watching" (as the word ‘observation’ means). It is strange that one generation will not learn from the mistakes of their predecessors. For practically the whole body of evangelical churches today is looking forward with that same "intense watching" for a rapture or a kingdom that will deliver them from earth’s bondage, and establish them on thrones of power and authority in the earth. True, there shall come a day when the glory of the Lord shall cover the earth "as the waters cover the sea"; when every eye shall see Him; when the same Jesus that was taken up into Heaven, shall come in like manner as they saw Him go. But first there is the Appearing of Christ in the midst of His people by the Spirit, to establish the Kingdom of God within, and that is the hope of the Church.
Says Paul, "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." (Titus 2:13) Literally, it reads: "Looking for that blessed hope, and the appearing of the glory of the great God . . ." When Solomon’s temple had been constructed, the priests and Levites set in their place, the singers and the musicians in theirs, and the vessels and furniture all properly arranged--then, "It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord . . . that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the Lord; so that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of God." (2 Chron. 5:13,14.) That is the Hope of the Church!
CHRIST TEACHES AT THE FEAST
So it was that the Lord visited the Feast of Tabernacles "as it were in secret" before He revealed Himself openly. But little by little He manifested Himself to the multitudes, began teaching in the temple, and causing them to marvel at His wisdom and knowledge. Even then they did not know that this man was the one called Jesus; for He had gone there in secret, and had not revealed His identity even when He taught. They tried to take Him, but His hour had not come and they had no power against Him. They sent officers to arrest Him, and they returned without Him, and with closed mouths. "Never a man spake like this man," they testified. Dear child of God; when the power and glory of the Feast of Tabernacles begins to dawn upon the Church, God’s people are going to be clothed upon with such power and authority that the very nations themselves will have to bow in submission. Never did any king or dictator or president speak as the Sons of God shall speak. For they shall be literally clothed upon with His Divine majesty and authority, and they shall be the very living oracles of God to the Church as well as to the nations. Then shall they do God’s will as God Himself shall direct, and no earthly power will have any power against them. When the Lord’s hour of crucifixion drew nigh, then were they able to arrest Him; for His hour had come. But it was not because He was powerless to do anything about it. There was a great work of Redemption which He had to perform, and a great baptism of death which He must accomplish.
In the Lord’s discourse with the Jews at the Feast we have a glorious promise of that hidden life. He told them, "Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come." (Jn. 7:34.) Where He was, the world could not come; but in this very hidden place the disciples would come. Did Jesus not promise the disciples concerning the coming of the Spirit, Whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you?" (Jn. 14:17.) They knew that the Lord was referring to that hidden life, and the manifestation of Christ within them, for they said: "Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?" (vs. 22.) They were beginning to see and to understand that there was to be a real manifestation of Christ in them, where they would be in vital union with the Father and the Son, a place which the world could not invade. And so this hidden place could not be found by the Jews; whereas His beloved disciples would enter into it. "Where I am, thither ye cannot come," He said to the Jews. But to the disciples, "I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also." (Jn. 14:3).
Where is it? Jesus said, "Where I am," That is sufficient. It is a place in the Spirit which no man can invade. A hidden place for those who are in world, but not of it, in the very sanctuary of the Spirit of God. "For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." There shall the Sons of God be hidden as they work the works of Christ in the midst of a world of wrath and judgment. And then, in God’s good time, they shall be manifested openly. "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory." (Col. 3:4.)