AN EXPOSITION OF HEBREWS VOLUME 2 by A.W. Pink


AN EXPOSITION OF
HEBREWS
VOLUME 2

by A.W. Pink

CONTENTS
39. The Typical Tabernacle.

Hebrews 9:1-5
40. The Contrasted Priests.

Hebrews 9:6-10
41. Eternal Redemption.

Hebrews 9:11-14
42. The Mediator.

Hebrews 9:15
43. The New Testament.

Hebrews 9:16-22
44. The Great Sacrifice.

Hebrews 9:23-28
45. The Typical Sacrifice.

Hebrews 10:1-4
46. The Divine Incarnation.

Hebrews 10:5-7
47. Christ’s Dedication.

Hebrews 10:7-10
48. The Perfecting of the Church.

Hebrews 10:1
49. Sanctification.

Hebrews 10:15-18
50. Access to God.

Hebrews 10:19-23
51. Christian Perseverance.

Hebrews 10:23, 24
52. Apostasy.

Hebrews 10:25-27
53. The Apostates’ Doom.

Hebrews 10:28-31
54. The Path of Tribulation.

Hebrews 10:32-34
55. The Saving of the Soul.

Hebrews 10:35-39
56. The Excellency of Faith.

Hebrews 11:1-3
57. The Faith of Abel,

Hebrews 11:4
58. The Faith of Enoch.

Hebrews 11:5, 6
59. The Faith of Noah.

Hebrews 11:6, 7
60. The Call of Abraham.

Hebrews 11:8
61. The Life of Abraham.

Hebrews 11:9, 10
62. The Faith of Sarah.

Hebrews 11:11, 12
63. The Perseverance of Faith.

Hebrews 11:13, 14
64. The Reward of Faith.

Hebrews 11:15, 16
65. The Faith of Abraham.

Hebrews 11:17-19.3
66. The Faith of Abraham.

Hebrews 11:17-19
67. The Faith of Isaac.

Hebrews 11:20
68. The Faith of Jacob.

Hebrews 11:21
69. The Faith of Joseph.

Hebrews 11:22
70. The Faith of Moses’ Parents.

Hebrews 11:23
71. The Faith of Moses.

Hebrews 11:24, 25
72. The Faith of Moses.

Hebrews 11:25, 26
73. The Faith of Moses.

Hebrews 11:26, 27
74. The Faith of Moses.

Hebrews 11:28
75. The Faith of Israel.

Hebrews 11:29
76. The Faith of Israel.

Hebrews 11:30
77. The Faith of Rahab.

Hebrews 11:31
78. The Faith of the Judges.

Hebrews 11:32
79. The Achievements of Faith.

Hebrews 11:33, 34
80. The Pinnacle of Faith.

Hebrews 11:35, 36
81. The Pinnacle of Faith.

Hebrews 11:37, 38
82. The Family of Faith.

Hebrews 11:39, 40
83. The Demands of Faith.

Hebrews 12:1
84. The Object of Faith.

Hebrews 12:2..4
CHAPTER 39
THE TYPICAL TABERNACLE
(

HEBREWS 9:1-5)
The principal design of the apostle in this epistle was to prove and make
manifest that the “old covenant” which Jehovah made with Israel at Sinai,
with all the ordinances of worship and the privileges connected therewith,
had been Divinely annulled. This involved a complete change in the church-state
of the Hebrews, but so far from this being a thing to deplore, it was to
their unspeakable advantage. A “new covenant” had been inaugurated, and
the blessings connected with it so far excelled those which had belonged to
the old dispensation, that nothing but blind prejudice and perverse unbelief
could refuse the true light which now shone, and prefer in its stead the dark
shadows of a previous night. God never asks anybody to give up any thing
without proffering something far better in return; and they who despise His
offer are the losers. But prejudice is strong, and never harder to overcome
than in connection with religious customs. Therefore does the Spirit labor
so patiently in His argument throughout these chapters.
The chief obstacle in the way of the Hebrews’ faith was their failure to
perceive that every thing connected with the ceremonial law — the
tabernacle, priesthood, sacrifices — was typical in its significance and
value. Because it was typical, it was only preparatory and transient, for
once the Antitype materialized its purpose was served. The shadows were
no longer needed when the Substance was manifested. The scaffolding is
dispensed with, taken away, as soon as the finished building appears. The
toys of the nursery become obsolete when manhood is reached. Everything
is beautiful in its proper season. Heavy garments are needed when the cold
of winter is upon us, but they would be troublesome in summer’s sunshine.
Once we recognize that God Himself has acted on this principle in His
dispensational dealings with His people, much becomes plain which
otherwise would be quite obscure.
The apostle had closed the 8th chapter by pointing out, “Now that which
decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.” In those words the.5
Spirit had intimated the unescapable inference which must be drawn from
the oracle given through Jeremiah. He had predicted a “new covenant,”
which received its fulfillment in the establishing of Christianity. The
ushering in of the new order of Divine worship necessarily denoted that the
previous economy was “old,” and if so, its end must be nigh. The force of

Hebrews 8:13 is as follows: “In that He says a ‘new’”: God would not
have done so unless He had made the first “old.” The “He hath made the
first old” has an active significance and denotes an authoritative act of God
upon the old economy, whereby the calling of the other “new” was the sign
and evidence. God did not call the Christian dispensation “another
covenant,” or a “second covenant,” but a “new” one, thereby declaring
that the Judaic covenant was obsolete.
The connecting link between the closing verses of chapter 8 and the
opening verses of Hebrews chapter 9 may perhaps be set forth thus:
although the old covenant or Mosaic economy was “ready to vanish
away,” nevertheless, it yields, even for Christians, important and valuable
teachings. It is full of most blessed typical import, the record of which has
been preserved both for the glory of its Author and the edification and joy
of His saints. Wonderful indeed were the pictorial fore-shadowings which
the Lord gave in the days of Israel’s kindergarten. The importance of them
was more than hinted at by God when, though He took but six days to
make heaven and earth, He spent no less than forty days when instructing
Moses concerning the making of the tabernacle. That clearly denoted that
the work of redemptive grace, which was prefigured in Jehovah’s earthly
dwelling place, was far more glorious than the work of creation. Thereby
are we taught to look away from the things which are seen, and fix our
minds and affections upon that sphere where the Son of God reigns in light
and love.
“The general design of this chapter is the same as the two
preceding, to show that Christ as High Priest is superior to the
Jewish high priest. This the apostle had already shown to be true in
regard to His rank, and to the dispensation of which He was the
Mediator. He proceeds now to show that this was also true in
reference to the efficacy of the sacrifice which He made: and in
order to do this, he gives an account of the ancient Jewish
sacrifices, and compares them with that made by the Redeemer.
The essential point is, that the former dispensation was mere.6
shadow, type, or figure, and that the latter was real and
efficacious.” — (A. Barnes).
“Then verily the first had also ordinances of the Divine service, and
a worldly sanctuary” (verse 1).
Having in the former chapter given further proof of the excellency of
Christ’s sacerdotal office, by describing the superior covenant that was
ratified thereby, the apostle now prepares the way to set forth the
execution of that office, following the same method of procedure in so
doing. Just as he had drawn a comparison between Aaron and Christ, so he
now sets the ministrations of the one over against the Other, and this in
order to prove that that of Christ’s was most certainly to be preferred. He
first approaches the execution of the Levitical priests’ office by mentioning
several rites and types which appertained thereto.
“Then verily the first had also ordinances of Divine service, and a worldly
sanctuary.” The apostle here begins the comparison which he draws
between the old covenant and the new with respect to the services and
sacrifices whereby the one and the other was established and confirmed. In
so doing he is still dealing with what was to all pious Israelites a most
tender consideration. It was in the services and sacrifices which belonged
to the priestly office in the tabernacle that they had been taught to place all
their confidence for reconciliation with God. If the apostle’s previous
contention respecting the abolition of the legal priesthood was granted,
then it necessarily followed that the sanctuary in which they served and all
the offerings which Moses had so solemnly appointed, became useless too.
It calls for our closest attention and deepest admiration to observe how the
Spirit led the apostle to approach an issue so startling and momentous.
First, he is so far from denying that the ritual of Judaism was of human
invention, that he declares, “verily (of truth) the first covenant had also
ordinances of Divine service.” Thus he follows the same method employed
in the preceding chapters. In drawing his comparisons between Israel’s
prophets and Christ, the angels and Christ, Moses and Christ, Joshua and
Christ, Aaron and Christ, he had said nothing whatever in disparagement of
the inferior. So far from reviling the first member in each comparison, he
had dwelt upon that which was in its favor: the more they could be
legitimately magnified, the greater the glory accruing to Christ when it was
proved how far He excelled them. So here: the apostle granted the
principal point which an objector would make — why should the first.7
covenant be annulled if God Himself had made it? Before giving answer to
this (seemingly) most difficult question, he allows and affirms that the
service of Judaism was of Divine institution. Thus, in the earliest ages of
human history God had graciously appointed means for His people to use.
The expression “ordinances of divine service” calls for a word or two by
way of explanation. The word which is here rendered “ordinances’’
(margin “ceremonies”) signifies rites, statutes, institutions. They were the
appointments of God, which He alone had the right to prescribe, and which
His people were under solemn bonds of observing, and that without any
alteration or deviation. These “ordinances” were of “divine service” which
is a single word in the original. In its verbal form it is found in

Hebrews
8:5, “to serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things.” In the
New Testament it is always found in connection with religious or divine
service: in

Acts 24:14,

Philippians 3:3 it is translated “worship.” It
signifies to serve in godly fear or trembling, thus implying an holy awe and
reverence for the One served — cf.

Hebrews 12:28. Thus, the complete
clause means that under the Mosaic economy God gave His people
authoritative enactments to direct their worship of Him. This law of
worship was a hedge which Jehovah placed around Israel to keep them
from the abominations of the heathen. It was concerning this very thing
that God had so many controversies with His people under the old
covenant.
Care needs to be duly paid to the tense which the apostle here used: he said
not “verily the first covenant has also ordinances, of divine service,” but
“had”. He is obviously referring to the past. The Mosaic economy had
those ordinances from the time God covenanted with Israel at Sinai. But
that covenant was no longer in force; it had been Divinely annulled. The
“verily the first covenant had also ordinances of Divine worship,” clearly
intimates that the new covenant too has Divine “ordinances.” We press this
because there are some who now affirm that even Christian baptism and
the Lord’s supper are “Jewish” ceremonies, which belong not to this
present dispensation. But this error is sufficiently refuted by this word
“also” — found in the very epistle which was written to prove that Judaism
has given place to Christianity!
“And a worldly sanctuary.” The reference is (as the next verse plainly
shows) to the Tabernacle, which Moses made in all things according to the
pattern shown him in the mount. Many have been sorely puzzled as to why.8
the Holy Spirit should designate the holy sanctuary of Jehovah a “worldly”
one. Yet this adjective should not present any difficulty. It is not used
invidiously, still less as denoting anything which is evil. “Worldly” is not
here opposed to “spiritual,’’ but as that which belongs to the earth rather
than to the heavens. Thus the force of “worldly” here emphasizes the fact
that the Mosaic economy was but a transient one, and not eternal. The
tabernacle was made here in this world, out of perishing materials found in
the world, and was but a portable tent, which might at pleasure be taken
down and set up again; while the efficacy of its services extended only unto
worldly things, and procured not that which was vital and eternal. Note
how in

Hebrews 9:24 the “holy places made with hands” are set in
antithesis from “heaven itself.”
We cannot but admire the wisdom given to the apostle in handling a matter
so delicate and difficult. While his object was to show the immeasurable
superiority of that which has been brought in by Christ over that which
Judaism had enjoyed, at the same time he would own that which was of
God in it. Thus, on the one hand, he acknowledges the service of the
Levitical priests as “divine,” yet, to pave the way for his further proof that
Christ is a Minister of the heavenly sanctuary (

Hebrews 8:1, 2), he
points out that the tabernacle of Judaism was but a “worldly” one.
“The antithesis to worldly is heavenly, uncreated, eternal. Thus in
the epistle to the Galatians, the apostle, speaking of the legal
parenthetical dispensation, says we were then in bondage under the
‘elements of the world’ (

Hebrews 4:3); and in the epistle to the
Colossians he contrasts with the ‘rudiments of the world’
(

Hebrews 2:20) the heavenly position of the believer who has
died with Christ, and ‘is no longer living in the world,’ but seeking
the things above” (Adolph Saphir).
“For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the
candlestick, And the table, and the shewbread; which is called the
sanctuary” (verse 2).
“The subject spoken of is the tabernacle: that which is in general
affirmed of it is that it was ‘made.’ There is a distribution of it into
two parts in this and the following verse. These parts are described
and distinguished by, first, their names; second, their situation with
respect unto one another; third, their contents or sacred utensils.
The one is described in this verse, by its situation: it was the ‘first,’.9
that which was first entered into; then by its utensils, which were
three; then by its name; it was called the sanctuary” (John Owen).
“For there was a tabernacle made.” A full description of it is to be found in
the book of Exodus. The “tent” proper was thirty cubits, or forty-five feet
in length, ten cubits, or fifteen feet in breadth, and the same in height. In
shape it formed an oblong square. It was divided by a veil into two parts of
unequal size. This continued to form God’s house of worship until the days
of Solomon, when it was replaced by the more permanent and magnificent
temple. It is pertinent to ask at this point, Why should the Holy Spirit here
refer to the “tabernacle” rather than to the temple, which was still standing
at the time the apostle was writing? The word “tabernacle” is found ten
times in this epistle, but the “temple” is not mentioned once. This is the
more remarkable because Paul, more than any of the apostles, emphasized
the resurrection of Christ, and the temple particularly foreshadowed Him in
His resurrection and eternal glory; whereas the tabernacle principally
prefigured Christ in His humiliation and lowliness. Yet the difficulty is
easily solved: the temple was not erected till after Israel were thoroughly
settled in their inheritance, and the Holy Spirit is here addressing a people
who were yet in the wilderness!
The Holy Spirit now makes a bare allusion to the holy vessels which
occupied the two compartments of the tabernacle. But what rule has been
given us to guide in and fix with certainty the interpretation of the mystical
signification of these things? Certainly God has not left His people to the
worthless devisings of their own imaginations. No, in this very epistle, He
has graciously informed us that the tabernacle, and all contained in it, were
typical of Christ, yet not as He may be considered absolutely, but as the
Church is in mystical union with Him, for throughout Hebrews He is
viewed in the discharge of His mediatory office. Thus the tabernacle, its
holy vessels and services, supplied a representation of the person, work,
offices and glories of Christ as the Head of His people. That it did so is
clear from

Hebrews 8:2 — see our comments thereon. The “true
tabernacle” there mentioned (our Lord’s humanity) is not opposed to what
is false and erroneous (the shrines of the heathen), but to the tabernacle of
Moses, which was but figurative and transitory. In the Lord Jesus we have
the substance of what Israel had only the shadow.
“For there was a tabernacle made: the first (compartment) wherein was the
candlestick.” It is to be noted that no mention is here made of the outer.10
court. In this omission, as in so many others, the anointed eye may clearly
discern the absolute control of the Spirit over the sacred writers, moving
and guiding them in every detail. In our articles upon Exodus (1926, etc.)
we have attempted a much fuller exposition than can here be given. Suffice
it now to say that everything connected with the outer court was fulfilled
by Christ in the days of His flesh. The very fact that it was the “outer”
court, accessible to all the people and unroofed, at once denotes to us
Christ here in the world, openly manifested before men. Its brazen altar
spoke of the cross, where God publicly dealt with the sins of His people.
Its fine linen hangings spoke of Christ meeting the claims of God’s
righteousness and holiness. Its sixty pillars tell of the strength and power of
Christ, “mighty to save.” Its laver foreshadowed Christ cleansing His
Church with the washing of water by the Word (John 13).
Now as the outer court viewed Christ on earth, so the holy places pointed
to Him in heaven. The holy place was a chamber which was entered by
none save the priestly family, where those favored servants of Jehovah
ministered before Him. It was therefore the place of communion. In perfect
keeping with this, each of the three vessels that stood therein spoke of
fellowship. The lampstand foreshadowed Christ as the power for
fellowship, as supplying the light necessary to it. The table with its twelve
loaves, prefigured Christ as the substance of our fellowship, the One on
whom we feast. The incense altar typified Christ as the maintainer of
fellowship, by His intercession securing our continued acceptance before
the Father. The reason why the “incense altar” is not mentioned here in
Hebrews 9 will be taken up when we come to verse 4.
“For there was a tabernacle made: the first (compartment) wherein was the
candlestick,” or better, “lampstand.” There was no window in the
tabernacle, for the light of nature cannot reveal spiritual things. It was
therefore illuminated from this holy vessel, which was placed on the south
side, near the veil which concealed the holy of holies. A full description of
it is given in

Exodus 25:31-36. It was made of beaten gold, all of one
piece, with all its lamps and ornamentations, so that it was without either
joints or screws. Pure olive oil was provided for it.
The very fact that the lampstand stood in the holy place, at once shows that
it is not Christ as “the Light of the world” which is typified. It is strange
that many of the commentators have erred here. The words of Christ on
this point are clear enough: “as long as I am in the world, I am the light of.11
the world” (

John 9:5 and cf.

Hebrews 12:35, 36): only then was He
manifested here as such. But men loved darkness rather than light. They
rejected the Light, and so far as they were concerned, extinguished it.
Since Christ was put to death by wicked hands, the world has never again
gazed on the Light. He is now hidden from their eyes. But He who was
slain by the world, rose again, and then ascended on high; it is there in the
Holy Place in God’s presence, that the Light now dwells. And while there
— O marvelous privilege — the saints have access to Him.
Black shadows rest upon the world which has cast out the Light of Life:
“the way of the wicked is as darkness” (

Proverbs 4:19). It is now night-time,
for the “Dayspring from on high” is absent. The lampstand tells of the
gracious provision which God has made for His own beloved people
during the interval of darkness, ere the Sun of righteousness shall rise once
more, and usher in for this earth that morning without clouds. Its seven
branches and lamps constantly fed by oil, represented the fullness of light
that is in Christ Jesus, and which by Him is communicated to His whole
Church. The “oil” was poured into its lamps and then shed forth light from
them. Such was and is the economical relation of the Spirit unto the
Mediator. First, Christ was “anointed” with the Spirit “above His fellows”
(

Psalm 45:7 and cf.

John 3:34), and then
He sent forth the Spirit (

Acts 2:33). Objectively the Spirit conveys light
to us through the Word; subjectively, by inward and supernatural
illumination.
“And the table and shewbread” (verse 2). Though intimately connected, yet
these two objects may be distinguished in their typical significance. The
natural relation of the one to the other, helps us to perceive their spiritual
meaning: the bread was placed upon and thus was supported by the table.
The “table” speaks of communion. A beautiful picture of this is found in 2
Samuel 9. There David asks,
“Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may show
him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (verse 1).
A lovely illustration was this of the wondrous grace of God, showing
kindness to those who belong to the house of His enemy, and that for the
sake of His Beloved. There was one, even Mephibosheth, lame on his feet;
him David “sent and fetched” unto himself. And then, to show he is fully
reconciled to this grandson of his foe, David said,.12
“but Mephibosheth thy master’s son shall eat bread always at my
table” (verse 10)
— evidencing that he had been brought into the place of most intimate
fellowship.

1 Corinthians 10:20, 21 also shows the spiritual significance
of the “table.”
The “shewbread,” or twelve loaves on the table, also spoke of Christ. “My
Father giveth you the true bread from heaven” (

John 6:32). The word
“shewbread” is literally “bread of faces,” faces being put by a figure for
presence — pointing to the Divine presence in which the bread stood;
“shewbread before Me always” (

Exodus 25:30). The twelve loaves, like
the twelve precious stones in the high priest’s breastplate, pictured the
twelve tribes of Israel being represented before God. Thus, in type, it was
the Lord Jesus identifying Himself with His covenant people.
“And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the holiest of all”
(verse 3). The first veil was the “hanging” over the entrance into the
tabernacle, shutting off from view what was inside from those who were in
the outer court. It is described in

Exodus 26:36, 37. The second veil,
described in

Exodus 26:31-33 and explained in

Hebrews 10:20, was
a heavy curtain which concealed the contents of the holy of holies from
those in the holy place. The Levitical family ministered in the holy place,
but none save the holiest of all, and he only one day in the year. Three
things have been mentioned as occupying a place in the first tabernacle;
seven objects are now mentioned in connection with the holiest of all.
“Which had the golden censer” (verse 4). First, we would note the minute
accuracy of the wording here. In verse 2 it was said “Wherein was the
candlestick,” etc., for the objects there mentioned belonged properly to the
first compartment. But here it is, “which had the golden censer.” Why?
Because this utensil did not form part of the furniture of the holy of holies.
To what then is the reference? Plainly to what is recorded in

Leviticus
16:12, 13, “And he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off
the (brazen) altar before the Lord, and his hands full of sweet incense
beaten small, and bring within the veil: And he shall put the incense upon
the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy-seat
that is upon the testimony, that he die not.”
For three hundred and fifty-nine days in the year Aaron ministered at the
golden or incense altar, which stood in the holy place; but on the remaining.13
day, the annual “Day of Atonement,” he did not. Instead, he used the
“golden censer” of incense, passing with it within the veil. It is this which
explains why there is no mention of the “golden altar” in verse 2, for the
Holy Spirit is here treating (see the later verses) of the Judaic ritual on the
Day of Atonement, and the fulfillment of the type by the Lord Jesus. That
which was represented by the “golden censer” was the acceptability of
Christ’s person to God and the efficacy of His intercession. The beautiful
type of

Leviticus 16:12, 13 denotes that, in consequence of the
satisfaction which Christ made unto God, completed at the cross, His
mediatory intercession is a sweet savor unto the Father, and effective unto
the salvation of His Church. The fact that the smoke of this perfume
covered the ark and the mercy-seat, wherein was the law, and over which
the symbol of the Divine presence abode, denoted that Christ has magnified
the law, met its every requirement, and is the end of the law for
righteousness unto everybody that believeth.
“And the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold,
wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that
budded, and the tables of the covenant” (verse 4).
The ark, with the mercy-seat which formed its lid or cover, was the most
glorious and mysterious vessel of the tabernacle. It was the first thing made
(

Exodus 25:10, 11), yea, the whole sanctuary was built for no other end
but to be, as it were, a house and habitation for the ark (

Exodus 26:33).
The ark was the outstanding symbol that God Himself was present among
His people and that His covenant-blessing was resting upon them. It was
the coffer in which the tables of the law were preserved. Its pre-eminence
above all the other vessels was shown in the days of Solomon, for the ark
alone was transferred from the tabernacle to the temple.
The ark was an outstanding figure of the incarnate Son of God. The wood
of which it was made, typified His sinless humanity. “Shittim” wood never
rotted, and the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament renders it
“incorruptible wood.” The wood was overlaid, within and without, with
gold, prefiguring Christ’s Divine glory. The two materials of which the ark
was made symbolized the union of the two natures in the God-man —
“God manifest in flesh” (

1 Timothy 3:16). The ark formed God’s throne
in Israel: “Thou that dwellest between the cherubim” (

Psalm 80:1).
Christ is the only One who perfectly enthroned God, honoring His
government in all things. Each of the seven names given to the ark in the.14
Old Testament sets forth some excellency in the person of Christ.
Everything connected with its most remarkable history, as in

Numbers
10:33, 14:44,

Joshua 3:5-17, 6:4-20, etc., received its antitypical
fulfillment in the God-man.
“Wherein was the golden pot that had manna.” Some have imagined a
contradiction between this statement and what is said in

1 Kings 8:9,
“There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone.” But there is no
conflict between the two passages, for they are not treating of the same
point in time.

Hebrews 9:4 is speaking of what was in the ark during the
days when it was lodged in the tabernacle, whereas

1 Kings 8:9 tells of
what comprised its contents after it came to rest in the temple. It is
important to note this distinction, for it supplies the key to the spiritual
interpretation of our verse:

Hebrews 9:4 makes known God’s
provisions in Christ for His people while they are journeying through the
wilderness. Thus the “manna” was Israel’s food from Egypt to Canaan:
type of Christ as the heavenly sustenance for our souls. The preservation of
the manna in the golden pot, speaks of Christ in glory at God’s right hand.
“And Aaron’s rod that budded.” The reference is to what is recorded in
Numbers 17. In the preceding chapter we read of a revolt against Moses
and Aaron, occasioned by jealousy at the authority which God had
delegated to His two servants. The revolt of Korah and his company was
visited by summary judgment from on high, and was followed by a manifest
vindication of Aaron. The form that vindication took is most instructive.
The Lord bade Moses take the twelve tribal rods, writing the name of
Aaron on Levi’s, laying them up before the ark, and affirming that the one
which should be made to blossom would indicate which had been chosen
of God to the priestly tribe. Next morning it was found that Aaron’s rod
had “brought forth buds, and blossomed blossoms, and yielded almonds.”
Afterwards God ordered Moses to place Aaron’s rod before the ark “to be
kept for a token against the rebels.” The lifeless rod being made to blossom
was a figure of God’s vindication of His rejected Son by raising Him from
the dead. Thus it speaks of the resurrection-power of our great High
Priest.
“And the tables of the covenant.” The reference is to

Deuteronomy
10:1-5. The preservation of the two tables of stone (on which were
inscribed the ten commandments) in the ark, foreshadowed Christ
magnifying the law and making it honorable (

Isaiah 42:21). The.15
fulfillment of this type is stated in

Psalm 40:7, 8, where we hear the
Mediator saying, “Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of
Me: I delight to do Thy will, O My God; Yea, Thy law is within My
heart.” The Representative of God’s people was “made under the law”
(

Galatians 4:4), and perfectly did He “fulfill” it (

Matthew 5:17).
Therefore is it written, “by the obedience of One shall many be made
righteous” (

Romans 5:19). Thus may each believer exclaim, “In the
Lord have I righteousness and strength” (

Isaiah 45:24).
“And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercy-seat: of
which we cannot now speak particularly” (verse 5).
At either end of the mercy-seat was the form of a cherub with outstretched
wings, meeting in the center, thus overshadowing and as it were protecting
God’s throne. That there is some profound significance connected with
their figures is clear from the prominent place which they occupy in
connection with the description of the mercy-seat given in

Exodus
25:17-22: mention is there made of the cherubim, in either the singular or
plural number, no less than seven times. The mention of them in

Genesis 3:24 suggests that they are associated with the administration
of God’s judicial authority. In

Revelation 4:6-8 (cf.

Ezekiel 1:5-10)
they are related to God’s throne. Here in Hebrews 9 they are called the
“cherubim of glory” because the Skekinah abode between them.
The mercy-seat, or better, “propitiatory,” was the throne upon which the
high priest placed the expiatory blood. It was not the place where
propitiation was made — that was at the brazen altar — but where its
abiding value was borne witness to before God.

Romans 3:25 gives us
the antitype: by the Gospel God now “sets forth” (

Galatians 3:1) Christ
as the One by whom He has been placated, as the One by whom His holy
wrath against the sins of His people has been pacified, as the One by whom
the righteous demands of His law were satisfied, as the One by whom
every attribute of Deity was glorified. Christ Himself is God’s resting-place
in whom He now meets poor sinners in all the fullness of His grace because
of the propitiation made by Him on the cross.
The last clause of the verse is translated more literally in Bagster’s
Interlinear thus: “concerning which it is not now (the time) to speak in
detail” — the “concerning which” is not to be restricted to that which is
found here in verse 5, but takes in all that has been mentioned in verses 2-
5. It would have led the apostle too far away from his subject of the high.16
priest’s service, to give an interpretation of the spiritual meaning of the
tabernacle and everything in it. Nevertheless, he plainly intimates that every
part of it had a specific significance as typical of the Lord Jesus and His
ministry..17
CHAPTER 40
THE CONTRASTED PRIESTS
(

HEBREWS 9:6-10)
At the commencement of our last article we stated that, the principal
design of the apostle in this epistle was to prove and make manifest that the
“old covenant” which Jehovah made with Israel at Sinai, with all the
ordinances of worship and privileges connected therewith had been
Divinely annulled. This involved a complete change in the church-state of
the Hebrews, but so far from this being a thing to be deplored, it was to
their unspeakable advantage. In prosecuting this design, the Holy Spirit
through Paul does, as it were, remove the veil from off the face of Moses.
In

2 Corinthians 3:13 we read,
“And not as Moses, which put a veil over his face, that the children
of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is
abolished.”
These words direct attention to a profound spiritual truth which God (in
keeping with His dispensational ways) caused to be mystically adumbrated
or shadowed forth by a material and visible object.
In

2 Corinthians 3:7 the apostle had spoken of the brightness of Moses’
face as a symbol of his ministry: the revelation which he received was a
divine and glorious one. But because the truth communicated through
Moses was in an obscure form (by types and emblems) he veiled himself.
Paul, as a minister of the “new covenant” used “great plainness of speech”
(

2 Corinthians 3:12), i.e., employing no “dark parables” or enigmatic
prophecies, still less mysterious ceremonies. Moses wore a veil “that the
children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is
abolished” (

Hebrews 3:7), i.e., to prevent their seeing the termination
or fading away of the celestial brightness of his countenance. The mystical
meaning of this was, God would not allow Israel to know at that time that
the dispensation of the Levitical or legal ministry would ultimately cease.
The publication of that fact was reserved for a much later date..18
“But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same
veil untaken away in the reading of the old covenant; which veil is
done away in Christ” (

2 Corinthians 3:14).
Yes, that “veil” which lay so heavily over the Mosaic types is now “done
away in Christ,” for He is that Antitype, the key which unlocks them, the
sun which illuminates them. This, it is the great purpose of the Hebrews’
epistle to demonstrate. Here is doctrinally removed the “veil” from off the
Mosaic institutions. Here the Spirit makes known the nature and purpose
of the “old covenant.” Here He declares the significance and temporal
efficacy of all institutions and ordinances of Israel’s worship. Here He
announces that the Levitical rites and ceremonies made a representation of
heavenly things, but insists that those heavenly things could not themselves
be introduced and established without the removal of what had adumbrated
them. Here He shows that the glory of God shines in the face of Jesus
Christ.
Three things there were which constituted the glory of the old covenant,
and which the Jews so rested in they refused the Gospel out of an
adherence unto them: the priestly office; the tabernacle with all its
furniture, wherein that office was exercised; the duties and worship of the
priests in that tabernacle by sacrifices, especially those wherein there was a
solemn expiation of the sins of the whole congregation. In reference to
them, the apostle proves: first, that none of them could make perfect the
state of the Church, nor really effect assured peace and confidence between
God and the worshippers. Second, that they were but typical, ordained to
represent that which was far more sublime and excellent than themselves.
Third, that the Lord Jesus Christ, in His person and mediation, was really
and substantially, all that they did but prefigure, and that He was and did
what they could only direct unto an expectation of.
In Hebrews 7 the apostle has fully evidenced this in connection with the
priestly office. In the 8th chapter he has done the same in general unto the
tabernacle, confirming this by that great collateral argument taken from the
nature and excellency of that covenant whereby the incarnate Son was the
Surety and Mediator. Here in the 9th chapter, he takes up the services and
sacrifices which belonged unto the priestly office in the tabernacle. It was
in them that the Jews placed their greatest confidence for reconciliation
with God, and concerning which they boasted of the excellency of their
Church-state and worship. Because this was the chief point of difference.19
between the Gospel-proclamation and those who repudiated it, and
because it was that whereon the whole doctrine of the justification of
sinners before God did depend, the apostle enters into minute detail,
declaring the nature, use and efficacy of the sacrifices of the law, and
manifesting the nature, glory and efficacy of the sacrifice of Christ,
whereby those others had been put an end to (condensed from John
Owen).
“Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went
always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God”
(verse 6).
Having made a brief reference to the structure of the tabernacle in its two
compartments, and the furniture belonging to each of them respectively,
the apostle now turns to consider the uses for which they were designed
unto in the service of God. First, he says “these things were thus ordained,”
or as the Revised Version more correctly renders it, “thus prepared,” for
the Greek word (translated “made” in verse 2), signifies to dispose and
arrange. When the things mentioned in verses 2-5 had been made and duly
ordered, they stood not for a magnificent show, but were designed for
constant use in the service of God. Hereby we are taught that, for any
service to be acceptable to God, it must be in strict accord with the pattern
He has given us in His Word: carefully ponder (

1 Chronicles 15:12, 13).
Everything was duly prepared for Divine service before that service was
performed. So in public service or Divine worship today there must be fit
persons who, under the Spirit, are to lead it ‘‘able ministers of the new
testament” (

2 Corinthians 3:6); fit arrangements and order (

1
Corinthians 14:40), not mere human tradition (

Matthew 15:9); a fit
message unto edification (

1 Corinthians 14:26).
“The priests went always into the first tabernacle.” They only were allowed
in the holy place that were the sons of Aaron; but even these were suffered
to penetrate no farther, being barred from entrance into the holy of holies.
This was in contrast from the high priest who entered the inner sanctuary,
yet only on one day in the year. The word “always” is translated
“continually” in

Hebrews 13:15. It signifies constantly, at all times as
occasion did require. Christians have been made “kings and priests unto
God” (

Revelation 1:6), and they are bidden to “give thanks always for
all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”.20
(

Ephesians 5:20); to “rejoice evermore” and “pray without ceasing”
(

1 Thessalonians 5:16, 17).
“Accomplishing the service of God.” The translators have rightly added the
last two words, for the “service” here is a Divine one. “Accomplishing the
service of God” means that they officiated in the ministry of the sacred
ceremonies. The daily services of the priests were two: the dressing of the
lamps of the candlestick: supplying them with the holy oil, trimming their
wicks, etc.; this was done every evening and morning. Second, the service
of the golden altar, whereon they burned incense every day, with fire taken
from off the brazen altar, and this immediately after the offering of the
evening and morning sacrifices. Whilst this service was being performed,
the people without gave themselves unto prayer (

Luke 1:10). Their
weekly service was to change the shewbread on the table, which was done
every Sabbath, in the morning. All of this was typical of the continual
application of the benefits of the sacrifice and mediation of Christ unto His
people here in the world.
The practical application to Christians now of what has just been before
us, should be obvious. There ought to be family worship, both in the
morning and in the evening. The replenishing of the oil in the lamps for
continuous light, should find its counterpart in the daily looking to God for
needed light from His Word, to direct our steps in the ordering of home
and business life to His acceptance and praise. God has declared,
“Them that honor Me I will honor, and they that despise Me shall
be lightly esteemed” (

1 Samuel 2:30).
If God be not honored in the home by the family “altar,” then we cannot
count upon Him blessing our homes! The burning of the incense should
receive its antitype in morning and evening praise and prayer unto God:
owning Him as the Giver of every good and every perfect gift, thanking
Him for spiritual and temporal mercies, casting all our care upon Him,
pleading His promises, and trusting Him for a continuance of His favors.
The Greek word here for “accomplishing” is a compound, which signifies
to “completely finish” — rendered “perfecting” in

2 Corinthians 7:1 —
denoting their service was not done by halves. May we too serve God
wholeheartedly.
“But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not
without blood, which he offered for himself, and the errors of the people”.21
(verse 7). That to which the apostle here refers is the great anniversary-sacrifice
of expiation, whose institution and solemnities are described at
length in Leviticus 16. On the tenth day of the seventh month (which
corresponds to our September) Israel’s high priest, unattended and
unassisted by his subordinates, entered within the holy of holies, there to
present propitiating sacrifices before Jehovah. Divested of his garments of
“glory and beauty” (

Exodus 28:2, etc.) and clad only in “the holy linen”
(

Leviticus 16:4), he first entered the sacred precincts bearing a censer
full of burning coals and his hands full of incense, which was to be placed
upon the coals, so that a cloud of incense should cover the mercy-seat
(

Leviticus 16:12, 13); which spoke of the fragrant excellency of Christ’s
person unto God, when He offered Himself an atoning sacrifice. Second,
he took of the blood of the bullock, which had been killed for a sin-offering
for himself and his house (

Leviticus 16:11), and sprinkled its blood
upon and before the mercy-seat (Hebrews 16:14). Third, he went out and
killed the goat which was a sin-offering for the people, and did with its
blood as he had with that of the bullocks (Hebrews 16:15).
When the high priest’s work within the veil had been completed, he came
forth and laid both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confessed
over him “all of the iniquities of the children of Israel and all their
transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat,”
which was then sent away “unto a land not inhabited” (

Leviticus 16:21,
22); all of which was typical of the Atonement made by the Lord Jesus, and
of the plenary remission of sins through His blood. In the shedding of the
victims’ blood and offering it by fire on the altar, there was a
representation made of the vicarious imputation of guilt to the sacrifice,
and the expiation of it through death. In the carrying of the blood into the
presence of Jehovah and the sprinkling of it upon His throne, witness was
borne to His acceptance of the atonement which had been made. In the
placing of the sins of Israel upon the live goat and its carrying of them
away into a land uninhabited, there was a foreshadowing of the blessed
truth that, as far as the east is from the west so far hath God removed the
transgressions of His people from before Him.
“Into the second veil went the high priest alone: There shall be no
man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make
an atonement” (

Leviticus 16:17)..22
This denoted that Christ alone was qualified to appear before God on
behalf of His people: none other was fit to mediate for them. “Once every
year,” to foreshadow the fact that Christ entered heaven for His people
once for all:

Hebrews 9:12. “Which he offered for himself,” for he too
was a sinner, and therefore incompetent to make real, efficacious and
acceptable atonement for others; thereby intimating that he must yet give
place to Another. “And for the errors of the people,” which is to be
interpreted in the light of the Old Testament expression “sins of ignorance”
(

Leviticus 4:2; 5:15;

Numbers 15:22-29), which are contrasted from
deliberate or presumptuous sins (see

Numbers 15:30, 31). Under the
dispensation of law God graciously made provision for the infirmities of
His people, granting them sacrifices for sins committed unwillingly and
unwittingly. But for determined and open rebellion against His laws, no
atoning sacrifice was available: see

Hebrews 10:26.
The distinction pointed out above is the key to

Psalm 51:16, “For Thou
desirest not sacrifice, else would I give it.” There is no room for doubt that
David knew full well the terrible character of the sins which he committed
against Uriah and his wife. Later, when he was convicted of this, he
realized that the law made no provision for forgiveness. What, then, did he
do?

Psalm 51:1-3 tells us: he laid hold on God Himself and said, “The
sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God,
Thou wilt not despise” (verse 17). It was faith, penitently, appropriating
the mercy of God in Christ.
“The Holy Spirit this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all
was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet
standing” (verse 8).
The apostle now makes known the use which he intended to make of the
description which had been given of the tabernacle and its furniture in
verses 2-5: from the structure and order of its services he would prove the
pre-eminency of the priesthood and sacrifice of Christ above those which
had belonged to the tabernacle. He points out that the Holy Spirit had
provided instruction for Israel in the very disposal of their ancient
institutions. Inasmuch as none but the high priest was permitted to pass
within the veil, it was plainly intimated that under the Mosaic dispensation
the people were barred from the very presence of God. Such a state of
affairs could not be the ultimate and ideal, and therefore must be set aside
before that which was perfect could be introduced..23
“The Holy Spirit this signifying:” the reference is to the arrangements
which obtained in the tabernacle, as specified in the preceding verses. Here
we learn that the third person of the blessed Trinity was immediately
concerned in the original instructions given to Israel. This intimates in a
most striking way the perfect union, unison and cooperation of the persons
of the Godhead in all that They do.

2 Peter 1:21 declares that, “holy
men of old spake, moved by the Holy Spirit,” prominent among whom was
Moses. In

Exodus 35:1 we read,
“Moses gathered all the congregation of the children of Israel
together, and said unto them, These are the words which the Lord
hath commanded”
— the Holy Spirit moving Him to give an accurate record of all that he had
heard from the Lord.
“The Holy Spirit this signifying,” or making evident, that “the way into the
holiest of all was not yet made manifest.” How did He thus “signify” this
fact? By the very framework of the tabernacle: that is, by allowing the
people to go no farther than the outer court, and the priests themselves
only into the first compartment.
“For things in His wisdom were thus disposed, that there should be
the first tabernacle whereinto the priests did enter every day,
accomplishing the Divine services that God required. Howbeit in
that tabernacle there were not the pledges of the gracious presence
of God. It was not the especial residence of His glory. But the
peculiar habitation of God was separated from it by a veil, and no
person living might so much as look into it on pain of death. But
yet, lest the church should apprehend, that indeed there was no
approach, here, nor hereafter, for any person into the gracious
presence of God; He ordained that once a year the high priest, and
he alone, should enter into that holy place with blood. Hereby he
plainly signified, that an entrance there was to be, and that with
boldness, thereinto. For unto what end else did He allow and
appoint, that once a year there should be an entrance into it by the
high priest, in the name of and for the service of the church? But
this entrance being only once a year, by the high priest only, and
that with the blood of the covenant, which was always to be
observed whilst that tabernacle continued, he did manifest that the
access represented was not to be obtained during that season; for.24
all believers in their own persons were utterly excluded from it”
(John Owen).
“The way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest.” The apostle is
not now speaking of the second compartment in the tabernacle (as in verse
3), but of that which was typified by it.
“Now, in that most holy place, were all the signs and pledges of the
gracious presence of God; the testimonies of our reconciliation by
the blood of the atonement, and of our peace with Him thereby.
Wherefore, to enter into these holies is nothing but to have an
access with liberty, freedom and boldness, into the gracious
presence of God on the account of reconciliation and peace made
with Him. This the apostle doth so plainly and positively declare in

Hebrews 10:19-22 that I somewhat wonder so many learned
expositors could utterly miss of his meaning in this place. The
holies then is the gracious presence of God, whereunto believers
draw nigh, in the confidence of the atonement made for them, and
acceptance thereon: see

Romans 5:1-3,

Ephesians 2:14-18,

Hebrews 4:14, 15’ (John Owen).
But let us observe more closely this expression “the way into the holiest of
all.” This way is no other but the sacrifice of Christ, the true High Priest of
the Church: as He Himself declared,
“I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no man cometh unto the
Father but by Me” (

John 14:6).
Thus the ultimate reference here in “the holiest of all” is to Heaven itself,
yet having a present and spiritual application unto access to and
communion with God. The “way” into this is through faith in the sacrifice
of Christ. Marvelously was this adumbrated here on earth at the moment of
His death, for then the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to
the bottom (

Matthew 27:51), thereby opening a way into the holy of
holies.
But this access to God, or way into the holiest of all, “was not yet made
manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing.” It is to be very
carefully noted that the apostle did not say that there was then no way
“provided” or “made use of,” but only that it was not, during Old
Testament times, “made manifest.” There was an entrance into the
presence of God, both unto grace and glory, for His elect, from the days of.25
Abel and onwards, but that “way” was not openly and publicly displayed.
By virtue of the everlasting covenant (the agreement between the Father
and the Son), and in view of Christ’s satisfaction in the fullness of time,
salvation was applied to saints then, and they were saved by faith as we are
now, for the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world. But the
open manifestation of these things waited for the actual exhibition of Christ
in the flesh, the full declaration of His person and mediation by the Gospel,
and the introduction and establishment of all the privileges of Gospel
worship.
“While as the first tabernacle was yet standing.” The reference here is not
to the first compartment or holy place, into which the priests entered and
where they served, but is used synecdochially (a part put for the whole) for
the entire legal system, which included the temples of Solomon and
Zerubbabel. The “first tabernacle” is here spoken of in contrast from the
“true tabernacle” of

Hebrews 8:2, namely, the humanity of Christ,
which was the antitype and succeeded in the room of the type — cf.

Revelation 13:6! The apostle is here treating of what had its standing
before God whilst the “first covenant” and Aaronic priesthood remained
valid. He cannot be here referring to the “first tabernacle” as a building, for
that had become a thing of the past, long centuries before he wrote this
epistle. Yet the temples that succeeded it had their standing on the basis of
the old covenant. This had now been annulled, and with it the whole
system of worship which had so long obtained in Judaism.
“Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were
offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did
the service perfect as pertaining to the conscience” (verse 9).
Having briefly pointed out the emblematic significance of the two
compartments of the tabernacle, the apostle now approaches his leading
object in this paragraph, namely, to demonstrate that Christ had “obtained
a more excellent ministry” than that which had belonged to the Levitical
priesthood. This he does by giving a brief summary of the imperfections of
the tabernacle and all its services, wherein the administration of the old
covenant did consist. By calling attention to the defects of inadequacy of
the Judaic system, the apostle adopted the most effective method of
exposing the unreasonableness of the rejection of the more glorious Gospel
by the majority of the Jews, and at the same time showed what folly and
wickedness it would be for the believing Hebrews to return to that system..26
The apostle’s design in verses 9, 10 is to show that, notwithstanding the
outward excellency and glory of the tabernacle-system (through Divine
appointment), yet, in the will and wisdom of God, that system was only
designed to continue for a season, and that the time of its expiation had
now arrived. That the Levitical priesthood and their services were never
intended by God to occupy a perpetual place in the worship of His church,
was evident from the fact that they were utterly unable to effect for His
saints that which He had purposed and promised. Not only did the
presence of the veil, which excluded all save Aaron from the presence-chamber
of Jehovah, intimate that the ideal state had not yet come; not
only did the annual repetition of the great atoning-sacrifice indicate that, as
yet, the all-efficacious Sacrifice had not yet been offered; but all the gifts
and sacrifices combined failed to “perfect as pertaining to the conscience.”
They were only “a figure for the time then present,” an institution and
provision of God “until the time of reformation.”
“Which was a figure for the time then present.” The “which was” includes
the tabernacle in both its parts, with all its vessels and services. The Greek
word for “figure” here is not the same as the one rendered “type” in

Romans 5:14 and “examples” in

1 Corinthians 10:6, 11, but is the
term commonly translated “parable,” as in

Matthew 13:3, 10 etc. It is
used here for one thing representing another. It signifies “figurative
instruction.” By means of obscure mystical signs and symbols God taught
the ancient church. The great mystery of our redemption by Christ was
principally made known by a parable, which was addressed to the eyes
rather than to the ears. That was the method which God was pleased to
employ, the means He used under the law, of making known things to
come. “Which was a figure,” is the Holy Spirit’s affirmation that the
structure, fabric, furniture and rites of the tabernacle were all vested with a
Divine and spiritual significance. That the truly regenerate among Israel
were acquainted with this fact is illustrated by the prayer of David,
“Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of
Thy law” (

Psalm 119:18).
“Which was a figure for the time then present.” The verb here is of the
preter-imperfect tense, signifying a time that was then present, but is now
past. The reference is to what had preceded the establishment of the new
covenant, before the full Gospel revelation had been made. The figurative
instruction which God gave to the early Church was not designed to be of.27
permanent duration. Nevertheless, a sovereign God saw fit to continue that
obscure and figurative representation of spiritual mysteries for no less than
fifteen hundred years. His ways are ever the opposite of man’s. “It is the
glory of God to conceal a thing” (

Proverbs 25:2)! But how thankful we
should be that “the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth” (

1
John 2:8). Still, let it not be overlooked that the revelation God made
through the tabernacle was sufficient for the faith and obedience of Israel
had it been diligently attended unto.
“In which were offered both gifts and sacrifices.” The Greek word for
“sacrifices” is derived from a verb which means to kill, thus the reference
here is to those oblations which were slaughtered. As distinguished from
these, “gifts” were without life and sense, such as the meal-offering, oil,
frankincense and salt which were mingled therewith (Leviticus 2), the first-fruits,
tithes, and all free-will offerings, which were presented by the
priests. These were “offered” unto God, and that in the tabernacle, for
there alone was it meet to offer them. So also was the “tabernacle”
(

Hebrews 8:2) of Christ alone suited for its designed end. And what is
the particular message this should have for the Christian heart? Surely to
remind him of that word,
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that ye
present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable unto God,
which is your reasonable service” (

Romans 12:1).
“That could not make him perfect as pertaining to the conscience.” These
words are not to be understood as restricted to the officiating priest, rather
do they look more directly to the person in whose stead he presented the
offering to God. Here the apostle points out the imperfection of the whole
tabernacle-order of things, and its impotency unto the great end that might
be expected from it. To “perfect” a worshipper is to fit him, legally and
experimentally, for communion with God, and for this there must be both
justification and sanctification, and neither of these could the Levitical
priests procure. They could neither remit guilt from before God, nor
remove the stains of it from the soul. Where those are lacking, there can be
no peace or assurance in the heart, and then the real spirit of worship is
absent. As this (D.V.) comes before us again in

Hebrews 10:2, we will
not here further enlarge.
Ere passing on to the next verse, it may be enquired, If then the Levitical
sacrifices failed at this vital point, why were they ever appointed by God at.28
all? To this question two answers may be returned. First, those sacrifices
availed to remove the temporal governmental consequence of Israel’s sins;
when rightly offered, they freed from political and external punishment, so
that continuance in the land of Canaan was preserved; but they cancelled
not the wages of sin, removed not the eternal punishment which was due
unto every sin by the law. Second, they directed the faith of the regenerate
forward to the perfect sacrifice of Christ (which the Levitical offerings
typically represented), the virtue and value of which was available to faith’s
appropriation from the beginning.
“Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and
carnal ordinances, imposed until the time of reformation” (verse
10).
To convince those to whom he was writing that the Levitical ceremonies
were incapable of perfecting the conscience, the apostle here demonstrates
the truth of this by pointing out their inadequate nature and character. The
ordinances of Judaism corresponded closely with the old covenant, which
was made with man in the flesh: its sanctuary and furniture were material
— things of sight and sense; its ministry was not spiritual, but had to do
only with external rites; its ablutions effected nothing more than a
ceremonial cleansing, and entirely failed to purify the heart, as faith does
(

Acts 15:9).
The “service” of the tabernacle-system “stood only in meats and drinks.”
This expression refers to the sacrifices and libations, which consisted of
flesh and bread, oil and wine. “And divers washings”: first, that of the
priests themselves (

Exodus 29:4, etc.), for whose use the “laver” was
chiefly intended (

Exodus 30:18, 31:9, etc.); second, of the various parts
of the burnt-offering sacrifice (

Leviticus 1:9, 13); third, of the people
themselves when they had contracted defilement (

Leviticus 15:8,16,
etc.). “And carnal ordinances” which refers, most probably, to the whole
system of laws pertaining to diet and manner of life. “Which stood only in,”
this is emphatic; the rites of Judaism were solely external and fleshly, there
being nothing spiritual joined with them. Thus their insufficiency to procure
spiritual and eternal blessings was evident: legal meats and drinks could not
nourish the soul; ceremonial washings could not purify the heart.
“Imposed until the time of reformation.” “The word for ‘imposed’ is
properly ‘lying on them,’ that is, as a burden. There was a weight in all
these legal rites and ceremonies, which is called a yoke, and too heavy for.29
the people to bear (

Acts 15:10). And if the imposition of them be
principally intended, as we render the word ‘impose,’ it respects the
bondage they were brought into by them. Men may have a weight lying on
them, and yet not be brought into bondage thereby. But these things were
so ‘imposed’ on them, as that they might feel their weight and groan under
the burden of it. Of this bondage the apostle treats at large in the epistle to
the Galatians. And it was impossible that those things should perfect a
church-state, which in themselves were such a burden, and effective of
such a bondage” (John Owen).
The institutions of the Levitical service possessed a general character of
externality and materialty: as verse 13 of our chapter says, they sanctified
“to the purifying of the flesh,” but they reached not the dire needs of the
soul. Therefore they were not designed to continue forever, but for a
determined and limited season, namely, “unto the time of reformation,”
which expression respected the appearing of the promised Messiah to
inaugurate the new and better covenant: see

Luke 1:68-74.
“But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His
Son, made of a woman, made under the law; to redeem them that
were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons”
(

Galatians 4:4, 5)..30
CHAPTER 41
ETERNAL REDEMPTION
(

HEBREWS 9:11-14)
In

Hebrews 8:6 the apostle had affirmed, “He is the Mediator of a
better covenant.” Such a declaration would raise a number of important
issues which are here anticipated and settled. Who is the High Priest of the
new covenant? What is the tabernacle wherein He administered His office?
What are the particular services He performed, answering to those which
God appointed unto Aaron and His successors? Wherein do the services of
the new High Priest excel those of the Levitical? These were pressing
questions, and it was necessary for them to be Divinely answered, not only
for the silencing of objectors, but that the faith of believing Jews might be
established. Thus, in

Hebrews 9:11, 12 we have the actual ministry of
Christ declared, in verses 13,14 the proofs that it was “more excellent.”
The 9th chapter of Hebrews contains a particular exemplification of this
general proposition: Christ is the substance of the Levitical shadows. The
general proposition was stated in

Hebrews 8:1, 2: Christians have an
High Priest who is a Minister of the true tabernacle. Here in chapter 9
confirmation is given of what was pointed out at the close of chapter 8,
namely, that Christ’s bringing in of the new covenant did abrogate the old.
In exemplifying this fact mention is made in

Hebrews 9:1-10 of sundry
shadows of the law, in verse 11 and onwards it is shown that the antitypical
accomplishment of them was in and by Jesus Christ. The contents of verses
1-10 may be reduced to two heads: ordinances of Divine service, and a
worldly sanctuary in which they were observed. In verses 11-28 the Spirit
magnifies the excellency of Christ’s priesthood by showing that He brought
in what the Aaronic rites were unable to secure (condensed from W.
Gouge, 1650).
The contents of these verses which are now to be before us set forth the
ministry of Christ as “the Mediator of the new covenant.” They describe
His initial work as the High Priest of His people. They set forth the
inestimable value of His sacrifice, and what it procured. They magnify His.31
precious blood and the character of that redemption which was purchased
thereby. Each verse calls for a separate article, and every clause in them
demands our closest and most reverent attention. May the Spirit of God
deign to open unto us something of their blessed contents, and apply them
in power to our hearts. We purposely cut down our introductory
comments that more space may be reserved for the exposition.
“But Christ being come an high priest of goods things to come, by
a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is
to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and
calves, but by His own blood, He entered in once into the holy
place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (verses 11, 12).
“These words naturally call attention to two things: The official
character with which our Lord is invested, and the ministry which
He has performed in that official character. His official character:
He is ‘come an high priest of good things to come.’ His ministry in
that official character: ‘He has obtained eternal redemption for His
people,’” (John Brown).
“But Christ being come an High Priest.” The opening word emphasizes a
contrast: the legal high priest “could not make him that did the service
perfect, as pertaining to the conscience” (verse 9): “But Christ” — could.
The title here given the Savior deserves particular notice. He is referred to
in a considerable variety of ways in this epistle, and many different
designations are there accorded Him. Each one is used with fine
discrimination, and the reader loses much by failing to distinguish the force
of “Jesus,” “Christ,” “Jesus Christ,” “our Lord,” “The Son,” etc. Here (and
also in

Hebrews 3:6, 14; 5:5; 6:1; 9:14, 24, 28; 11:26) it is “Christ,” the
Messiah (

John 1:41), His official designation, a term that means “The
Anointed,” see

Psalm 2:2 and cf.

Acts 4:26. Great emphasis is
placed by the Holy Spirit upon this title: “the Christ” (

John 20:31),
“that Christ” (

John 6:69), “very Christ” (

Acts 9:22), “The Lord’s
Christ” (

Luke 2:26), “The Christ of God” (

Luke 9:20).
“But Christ being come an High Priest.” Under the name of the Messiah or
Anointed One, He had been promised unto Israel for many centuries, and
now the accomplishment had arrived. In a moment of doubt, His
forerunner, in prison, sent unto Him asking, “Art Thou He that should
come?” (

Matthew 11:3). Upon the fulfillment of God’s promise that He
would send the Messiah, give a perfect revelation of His will, and bring in.32
“perfection,” the faith of the Jewish church was built. And now God’s
Word was verified, the true Light shone. The awaited One had come:
“in the character in which He was promised, having done all that it
was promised He should do” (John Brown).
Therefore does the Holy Spirit here give the Redeemer His official, and
distinctively Hebrew, title. “But Christ being come” no doubt looks back,
especially to

Psalm 40:7.
“But Christ being come an High Priest.” True, He came also as Prophet
(

Deuteronomy 18:15, 18), and as King (

Matthew 2:2), but here the
Holy Spirit especially emphasizes the sacerdotal office of Christ, because it
was in the exercise of that He offered Himself as a sacrifice unto God. The
words which we are now considering begin a new division of this Epistle,
though it is intimately related to what has gone before. In

Hebrews
9:11–10:22 the Holy Spirit sets before us the antitype of Leviticus 16,
which records the work of Israel’s high priest on the annual day of
atonement. There we behold Aaron officiating both outside the veil and
within it. So the priestly functions of Christ fall into two great divisions, as
they were performed on earth and as they are now continued in heaven.
Before our great High Priest could enter the Holiest on high and there
make intercession before God, He had first to make an atonement for the
sins of those He represented, which was accomplished in His state of
abjection here below, being consummated by His offering Himself a
sacrifice unto God:

7:27,

8:3,

9:26.
A priest is one who officiates in the name of others, who approaches to
God in order to make atonement for them by sacrifice. The design of his
ministry is to render the Object of their worship propitious, to avert His
wrath from men, to procure their restoration to His favor: see Leviticus 16.
Thus, the work of the priest is mediatory. Since the fact of sin is a cardinal
one in the case of man, the function of a mediating priest for man must be
mainly expiatory and reconciling:

Hebrews 8:3. It should serve as a
most solemn warning unto all today that, while the Jews believed their
Messiah would be both a prophet and king, they had no expectation of His
also being priest, who should redeem sinners unto God. One who should
go forth in the terror of His power, subjugating the nations and restoring
the kingdom to Israel, appealed to their carnality; but for One to minister at
the altar, employ His interest with God on behalf of transgressors, draw
near to the Divine Majesty in their name, and mediate peace between them.33
and an offended Creator, seems to have had no place in their thoughts.
Hence it is that the priesthood of Christ is given such a prominent place in
this epistle to the Hebrews.
“But Christ being come an High Priest.” As to the time of His investiture
with this office, it was clearly co-incident to the general office of Mediator.
At the same moment that God appointed His Son “Mediator,” He was
constituted the Prophet, the Priest, and the Potentate of His Church.
Prospectively, that took place in the eternal councils of the blessed Trinity,
when in the “everlasting covenant” the Father appointed the Son and the
Son agreed to be the Mediator between Him and His people. Historically,
the Son became the Mediator at the moment of His incarnation: there is
“one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (

1
Timothy 2:5); as soon as He was born, He was hailed as “Christ, the Lord”
(

Luke 2:11). Formally, He was officially consecrated to this office at
His baptism, when He was “anointed (Christed) with the Holy Spirit and
with power” (Acts 10:38).
“But Christ being come an High Priest,” and this according to the eternal
oath of the Father, which “oath” was afterwards made known to the sons
of men in time. This was before us when we considered

Hebrews 7:20-
25. It was “by the word of the oath” that the Son is consecrated to His
priestly office (

Hebrews 7:28), the “oath” denoting God’s eternal
purpose and unchanging decree. In

Psalm 2:7 we read that God said, “I
will declare the decree,” and accordingly in

Psalm 110:4 we are told,
“The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest forever after
the order of Melchizedek” — there it was openly published. That God’s
“oath” preceded Christ’s entrance upon and discharge of His sacerdotal
office is clear from

Hebrews 7:20-25, otherwise the force of the
apostle’s reasoning there would be completely overthrown.
“But Christ being come an High Priest,” otherwise He could not have
“offered” Himself a sacrifice to God. As we saw when pondering

Hebrews 5:6,7, Christ was exercising His sacerdotal functions in “the
days of His flesh,” i.e., the time of His humiliation. So too it was as “a
merciful and faithful High Priest” that Christ “made propitiation for the sins
of the people” (

Hebrews 2:17). The types foreshadowed the same
thing, especially Leviticus 16. Aaron was not constituted a priest by
entering the holy of holies; he was such before, or otherwise he could not
have passed within the veil. Every passage which speaks of Christ’s one.34
oblation or His “offering” Himself once are conclusive as His being a priest
on earth, for that word “once” cannot possibly be understood of what He is
now doing in heaven; it must refer to His death as an historical fact,
completed and finished here below: it is in designed contrast from His
continuous intercession which is based upon it. The priestly sacrifice which
He offered is emphatically described as co-incident with His death:

Hebrews 9:26. Any one of the common people could slay the sin-offering
(

Leviticus 4:27-29), but none save the priest could offer it to
God (

Leviticus 4:30)! Thus, every verse which speaks of Christ
“offering” Himself to God emphasizes the priestly character of His
sacrifice.
“An high priest of good things to come.” The reference here is to that more
excellent dispensation which the Messiah was to inaugurate. Old
Testament prophecy had announced many blessings and privileges which
He would bring in, and accordingly the Jews had looked forward to better
things than they had enjoyed under the old economy. The apostle here
announces that this time had actually arrived, that the promised blessings
had been procured by the High Priest of Christianity. As the result of
Christ’s advent, life and death, righteousness had been established, peace
had been made, and a new and living way opened, which gave access to the
very presence of God. Different far were these blessings from what the
carnal Jews of Christ’s day desired. Of course the “good things to come”
are not to be restricted to those blessings which God’s people already
enjoy, but include as well those which yet await them. The “good things”
are summed up in “grace and glory,” and are in contrast from “the wrath to
come” (

Matthew 3:7).
“By a greater and more perfect tabernacle.” This repeats what was said in

Hebrews 8:2. The reference is to the human nature which the Son of
God took unto Himself. “The Word became flesh and (Greek) tabernacled
among us” (

John 1:14). Christ officiated in a much more glorious
habitation than any in which Aaron and his successors served. Most
appropriately was the humanity of the Savior called a “tabernacle” for “in
Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (

Colossians 2:9).
Additional confirmation that the “greater and more perfect tabernacle” here
referred to Christ’s body, is supplied by

Hebrews 10:20, where the
Holy Spirit again applies to Him the language of the Mosaic tabernacle and
shows that in the Lord Jesus is found the antitype — “through the veil, that
is to say His flesh.”.35
“By a greater and more perfect tabernacle.” There is both a comparison
and a contrast between the tent which Moses pitched and the human
habitat in which the Son of God abides: for the comparison we refer the
reader to our comments upon

Hebrews 8:2. The contrast is first pointed
by the word “greater,” the Antitype far surpassing the type both in dignity
and worth. The humanity of Christ, in its conception, its framing, its
gracious endowments by the Holy Spirit, and particularly because of its
union to and subsistence in the divine person of the Son, was far more
excellent and glorious than any earthly fabric could be.
“The human nature of Christ doth thus more excel the old
tabernacle, than the sun does the meanest star” (John Owen).
Of old God declared, “I will make a man more precious than fine gold;
even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir” (

Isaiah 13:12) — a
prophecy which obviously had its fulfillment in the Man Christ Jesus.
“And more perfect tabernacle”: this points the second contrast between the
type and the Antitype. As the word “greater” refers to the superior dignity
and excellency of the humanity of Christ over the materials which
comprised the tabernacle of Moses, so the “more perfect” respects its
sacred use. The body of Christ was
“more perfectly fitted and suited unto the end of a tabernacle, both
for the inhabitation of the divine nature, and the means of
exercising the sacerdotal office in making atonement for sin, than
the other was. So it is expressed in

Hebrews 10:5, ‘Sacrifice and
burnt-offering Thou wouldst not, but a body hast Thou prepared
Me.’ This was that which God accepted, wherewith He was well
pleased, when He rejected the other to that end” (John Owen).
Probably the Holy Spirit has used this expression “more perfect” here
because it was also through Christ’s service in this “tabernacle” that His
people had been “perfected forever.”
“Not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building.” Further
reference is here made to the humanity of Christ by a double negation:
“Not made with hands” is set in opposition to the Jewish tabernacle, which
was made by the hands of men (

Exodus 36:1-8). The humanity of
Christ was the product of Him that hath no hands, even God Himself. Thus
the expression here is the same as “which the Lord pitched, and not man”
in

Hebrews 8:2. Then how much “greater” was the “more perfect.36
Tabernacle”! The temple of Solomon was a most sumptuous and costly
building, yet was it erected by human workmen, and therefore was it an act
of infinite condescension for the great God to dwell therein:
“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and
heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee; how much less this house
that I have builded?” (

1 Kings 8:27).
Reference to the supernatural humanity of Christ was made in

Daniel
2:45: He was to be a “Stone,” cut out of the same quarry with us, yet
“without hands,” i.e., without the help of nature, begotten by a man.
“That is to say, not of this building,” words added to further define the
preceding clause — the term rendered “building” is translated “creature” in

Hebrews 4:13. The humanity of Christ belonged to a totally different
order of things than ours: there is no parallel in the whole range of
creation.
“Although the substance of His human nature was of the same kind
with ours, yet the production of it in the world, was such an act of
Divine power, as excels all other Divine operations whatever.
Wherefore, God speaking of it, saith ‘The Lord hath created a new
thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a Man’ (

Jeremiah
31:22) or conceive Him without natural generation” (John Owen).
How blessed to see that God is so far from being confined to natural means
for the effecting of His holy counsels, that He can, when He pleases,
dispense with all the ordinary methods and “laws” by which He works, and
act contrary to them.
“Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He
entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal
redemption for us” (verse 12).
Having shown that in Christ’s person we have the antitype of the
tabernacle, the apostle now proceeds to set forth that which was
foreshadowed by the entrance of Israel’s high priest into the holy of holies
on the day of atonement: this he does both negatively and positively, that
the difference between the shadow and the substance might more evidently
appear. The design of this verse is to display the pre-eminence of Christ in
the discharge of His priestly office above the legal high priest. This is seen,
first, in the excellency of His sacrifice, which was His own blood; second,.37
in the holy place whereinto He entered by virtue of it, which was Heaven
itself; third in the effect of it, in that by it He procured “eternal
redemption.”
“Neither by the blood of goats and calves”: it was by means of these that
Aaron entered the holy of holies on the day of atonement (

Leviticus
16:14,15) — the apostle here uses the plural number because of the annual
repetition of the same sacrifice. In Leviticus 16, the “calf” or young bullock
(of one year old) is mentioned first; perhaps the order is here reversed
because the “goat” was specifically for the people, and it is Christ
redeeming His people which is the dominant thought. It was by virtue of
the blood of these animals that Aaron entered so as to be accepted with
God. The reference here is not directly to what the high priest brought with
him into the holiest — or the “incense” too had been mentioned — but to
the title which the sacrifices gave him to approach unto the Holy One of
Israel.
“But by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place.” Here we
are brought directly unto the great mystery of the priestly work of Christ,
especially as to the sacrifice which He offered unto (God to make an
atonement for the sins of His people. The “holy place” — called in

Hebrews 9:8 “the Holiest of all” — signifying Heaven itself, the
dwelling-place of God. This is unequivocally established by

Hebrews
9:24 “into heaven itself.” There never was any place to which this title of
“holy place” so suitably belonged: thus it is designated in

Psalm 20:6
“His holy heaven.” And when was it that Christ entered Heaven by virtue
of the merits of His own blood? Almost all of the commentators take the
reference here as being to His ascension. But this we deem to be a mistake,
and one from which erroneous conclusions of a most serious nature have
been drawn. The writer is fully satisfied that what is affirmed in this verse
took place immediately after Christ, on the cross, triumphantly cried “It is
finished.” Some of our reasons for believing this we give below.
First, the typical priest’s entrance within the veil took place immediately
after the victim’s death: its body being carried without the camp to be
burned in a public place, its blood being taken into the holiest, to be
sprinkled on the propitiatory, covering the ark. Those closely-connected
acts in the ritual were so related that, the burning followed last in order.
Now

Hebrews 13:11 clearly establishes the fact that that typical action
coincided with Christ’s sacrifice outside Jerusalem: therefore, to make.38
Christ’s entrance into heaven occur forty days after His death, destroys the
type. In pouring out His blood on the cross and surrendering His spirit into
the hands of the Father, Christ expiated sin, and at that very moment the
veil of the temple was rent, to denote His entrance into the presence of
God. No sooner had He expired, than He entered Heaven, claiming it for
Himself and His seed. His resurrection testified to the fact that God had
accepted His sacrifice, that justice had been fully satisfied, and that He was
now entitled to the reward of His obedience. His resurrection was the
antitype of Aaron’s return from the holy of holies unto the people, which
was designed as a proof that Divine wrath had been averted and
forgiveness secured.
Second, Aaron began by laying aside his robes of glory (

Leviticus
16:4), putting on only linen garments: that was far more in keeping with
Christ’s abasement at the cross, than His triumph and glory at His
ascension.
Third, when Aaron entered the holy of holies, atonement was not yet
completed: that awaited his sprinkling of the blood upon the propitiatory.
Therefore, if the antitype of this occurred not until the ascension of Christ,
His sacrifice waited forty days for God’s acceptance of it.
Fourth, while Aaron was within the veil, the people without were full of
fear for the high priest, lest he fail to appease God. Similar was the state of
Christ’s disciples during the interval between His death and resurrection:
they remained in a state of suspense and doubt, dejection and dread. But
far different were they immediately after His ascension: contrast

Luke
24:21 and 24:52, 53!
Fifth, God’s rending of the veil at the moment of Christ’s death was
deeply significant: it was the Divine imprimature upon the Son’s “It is
finished.” It was the outward adumbration in the visible realm to image
forth what had taken place in the spiritual — Christ’s entrance into heaven.
In like manner, Christ’s appearance to the disciples after His death, and His
“peace be unto you,” evidenced that peace had been made, that the
atonement was completed.
“By His own blood He entered in,” entered heaven as the Surety of His
people, as their “Forerunner” (

Hebrews 6:20). That which gave Him
the right to do so was the perfect satisfaction which He had made, a
satisfaction which honored God more than all our sins dishonored Him,.39
which magnified the law and made it honorable. It was not the shedding of
His blood alone which constituted His satisfaction or atonement, any more
than a heart-belief in His resurrection (

Romans 10:9) without “faith in
His blood” (

Romans 3:25) would save a sinner. He “became obedient
unto death, even the death of the cross” (

Philippians 2:8), and what He
there voluntarily endured was the climax and consummation of His
redemptive work. “His own blood” emphasises its inestimable value. It was
the blood of the “Son” (

Hebrews 1:2, 3). It was the blood of “God”
incarnate (

Acts 20:28). Well might the Holy Spirit call it “precious”
(

1 Peter 1:19). No greater price could have been paid for our
redemption. How vile and accursed, then, must sin be, seeing it can only be
expiated by so costly a sacrifice! What claims Christ has upon His own!
Well might He say,
“Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he
cannot be My disciple” (

Luke 14:33).
“He entered in once into the holy place.” The word “once” is that which
has led so many to conclude that the reference was to the Savior’s
ascension. But this, we have endeavored to show above, is a mistake. As
we shall (D.V.) yet see, Hebrews chapters 9 and 10 contemplate a double
entrance of Christ into heaven in fulfillment of the double type — Aaron
and Melchizedek. That Christ did enter heaven at death is clear from His
words to the thief (

Luke 23:43);

2 Corinthians 12:2, 4 places
“paradise” in the third heaven. In every other passage where the term
“once” occurs concerning the atoning work of Christ, it is always used
contrastively with the frequent repetitions of the Old Testament sacrifices:
see

Hebrews 7:27;

9:7, 25, 26;

10:11, 12. That which is
contemplated is Christ’s presenting His satisfaction unto God. His
ascension was for the purpose of intercession, which is continuous, and not
completed.
“Having obtained eternal redemption,” and this before He entered Heaven.
To “redeem” is to deliver a person from a state of bondage, and that by the
payment of an adequate ransom-price. Four things were required unto our
redemption. It must be effected by the expiating of our sins. It must be by
such an expiation that God, as the supreme Ruler and Judge should accept.
It must be by rendering such a satisfaction to the Law, that its precepts are
fulfilled and its penalty endured, so that its curse is removed. It must annul
the power of Satan over us. How all of this was accomplished by the.40
Redeemer, we have shown in our articles upon His “Satisfaction.” This
“redemption” is eternal, which is in contrast from Israel’s of old — after
their deliverance from Egypt they became in bondage to the Philistines and
others. As the blood of Christ can never lose its efficacy, so none redeemed
by Him can ever again be brought under sin’s dominion.
“For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer
sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How
much more shall the blood of Christ” (verses 13, 14).
Having again demonstrated the pre-eminency of our Priest in verses 11, 12,
the apostle now exhibits the superior efficacy of His sacrifice. By a
synecdoche all sacrifices of expiation and all ordinances of purification
appointed under the law are here summarized: the blood of lambs, etc.,
being included. The particular reference in the “ashes of an heifer” being to

Numbers 19:2-17, with which should be carefully compared

John
13:1-15. It is principally the use of the ordinance of Numbers 19 which is
here in view. An heifer having been burned, its ashes were preserved, that,
being mixed with pure water, they might be sprinkled on persons who had
become legally unclean. When an Israelite, through contact with death,
became ceremonially defiled, he was cut off from all the public worship of
Jehovah; but when he carried out the instructions of Numbers 19 he was
restored.
Those “ashes,” then, were a most merciful provision of God; without them,
all acceptable worship had soon ceased. They had an efficacy, for they
availed to the purifying of the flesh, which was a temporary, external and
ceremonial cleansing. Typically, they pointed to that spiritual, inward and
eternal cleansing which the blood of Christ provides. “The defilements
which befall believers are many, and some of them unavoidable whilst they
live in this world: yea, the best of their services have defilements adhering
to them. Were it not that the blood of Christ, in its purifying virtue, is in a
continual readiness unto faith, that God therein had opened a fountain for
sin and uncleanness, the worship of the church would not be acceptable
unto Him. In a constant application thereunto, doth the exercise of faith
much consist” (John Owen).
“How much more shall the blood of Christ,” etc. If the blood and ashes of
beasts, under the appointment of God, were efficacious unto an external
and temporary justification and sanctification — that is, the removal of
both guilt and ceremonial pollution — how much more shall the sacrifice.41
of Him who was promised of old, was the Anointed and therefore the One
ordained and accepted of God, effectually and eternally cleanse those to
whom it is applied
“The blood of Christ is comprehensive of all that He did and
suffered in order unto our redemption, inasmuch as the shedding of
it was the way and means whereby He offered Himself (in and by it)
unto God” (John Owen).
“Who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself.” There has been
considerable difference of opinion as to whether the “eternal Spirit” has
reference to the Divine nature of Christ animating and sustaining His
humanity, or to the third Person of the Trinity. That which settles the point
for us is this: Christ “offered Himself” to God: that is, in His entire person,
while acting in His mediatorial office. As the Mediator, He took upon Him
the “form of a servant,” and therefore was He filled and energized by the
Spirit in all that He did. Christ was “obedient unto death:” as He was
subject to the Spirit in going into the wilderness (

Matthew 4:1), so the
Spirit led Him a willing victim to the cross. This wondrous statement
shows us the perfect cooperation of the Eternal Three, concurring in the
great work of redemption.
Christ offered Himself “without spot,” to God. There is a double reference
in these words: unto the purity of His person, and to the holiness of His
life. There is both a moral and a legal sense to the expression. It speaks of
Christ’s fitness and meetness to be a sacrifice for our sins. Not only was
there no blemish in His nature and no defect in His character, but there was
every moral excellence. He had fulfilled the law in thought, word and
deed, having loved the Lord His God with all His heart and His neighbor as
Himself. Therefore was He fully qualified to act for His people.
“Purge your conscience from dead works.” This is one of the effects
produced by Christ’s sacrifice, an effect which the legal ordinances were
incapable of securing. Because Christ’s sacrifice has expiated our sins,
when the Spirit applies its virtues to the heart, that is, when He gives faith
to appropriate them, our sense of guilt is removed, peace is communicated,
and we are enabled to approach God not only without dread, but as joyous
worshippers. The “conscience” is here specially singled out (cf.

Hebrews 10:22 for the larger meaning) because it is the proper seat of
the guilt of sin, charging it on the soul, and hindering an approach unto
God. By “dead works” are meant our sins as unto their guilt and defilement.42
— cf. our comments on

Hebrews 6:1. True believers are delivered from
the curse of the law, which is death.
“To serve the living God,” not simply in outward form but in sincerity and
in truth. This is the advantage and blessing which we receive from our
conscience being purged. Christians have both the right and the liberty to
“serve God.” The “living God” cannot be served by those who are dead in
sins, and therefore alienated from Him. But the sacrifice of Christ has
purchased the gift of the Spirit unto all for whom He died, and the Spirit
renews and equips the saint for acceptable worship.
“This is the end of our purgation: for we are not washed by Christ
that we may plunge ourselves again into new filth, but that our
purity may serve to glorify God” (John Calvin).
Under the word “serve” is comprised all the duties which we owe unto
God, not only as His creatures, but as His children. Then let us earnestly
seek grace to put

Romans 12:1 into daily practice..43
CHAPTER 42
THE MEDIATOR
(

HEBREWS 9:15)
The proposition which the apostle is occupied with proving and illustrating
in this section of the epistle is that which was laid down in

Hebrews 8:6,
“But now hath He obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also
He is the Mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better
promises.” In the verses which were before us in the last article, the
superiority of Christ over Aaron was brought out in the following respects.
First, in that He officiated in a more excellent tabernacle (verse 11).
Second, in that He offered to God a superior sacrifice (verses 11, 14).
Third, in that He has entered a more glorious sanctuary (verse 12). Fourth,
in that He secured a more efficacious redemption (verse 12). Fifth, in that
He was moved by a more excellent Spirit (verse 14). Sixth, in that He
obtained for His people a better cleansing (verse 14). Seventh, in that He
made possible for them a nobler service (verse 14).
Christ has “obtained eternal redemption” for His people. As we pointed out
in our last article, to “redeem” signifies to liberate by the paying of a
ransom-price: “If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed”
(

John 8:36). The freedom which the Christian has is, first, a legal one:
he has been “redeemed from the curse of the law” (

Galatians 3:13).
Because of this, second, he enjoys an experimental freedom from the
power of sin: “sin shall not have dominion over you” (

Romans 6:14).
Justification and sanctification are never separated: where God imputes the
righteousness of Christ. He also imparts a principle of holiness, the latter
being the fruit or consequence of the former; both being necessary before
we can be admitted into heaven. Because the blood of Christ has fully met
every claim of God upon and against His people, its virtues and purifying
effects are applied to them by the Spirit. Both of these were foreshadowed
under the Levitical types of the old economy, and are seen in

Hebrews
9:13..44
“The blood of bulls and of goats and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the
unclean” sanctified “to the purifying of the flesh.”
There is here both a comparison and a contrast. The comparison is
between the type and the Antitype; the contrast, between what the one and
what the other effected. Those typical rites procured only a temporary
“redemption” from the governmental consequences of sin; Christ’s sacrifice
has secured an “eternal redemption” from all the consequences of sin. A
double type is referred to in

Hebrews 9:13. No single sacrifice could
adequately represent the power and efficacy of the blood of Christ. By the
“blood of bulls and goats” the guilt of Israel’s sins were temporarily
removed; by the sprinkling of the “ashes of an heifer” they were
ceremonially purified from the defilements of the wilderness. We quote
below a valuable footnote from Adolph Saphir:
“The ashes of an heifer. It was to take away the defilement of death. The
institution is recorded in the book of Numbers as relating to the provision
God makes for His people in their wilderness journey. As no blood of the
slain victim was ‘incorruptible,’ it was necessary, in order to show the
cleansing by blood from defilement through contact with death to have as it
were the essential principle of blood, presented in a permanent and
available form. The red heifer, which had never been under the yoke,
symbolizes life in its most vigorous, perfect, and fruitful form. She was
slain without the camp (

Hebrews 13:11,

Numbers 19:3, 4). She was
wholly burnt, flesh, skin, and blood, the priest casting cedar-wood, hyssop,
and scarlet into the fire. The ashes of the burnt heifer, put into flowing
water, were then sprinkled with hyssop for ceremonial purification….
Christ is the fulfillment. For the blood of Christ is not merely, so to speak,
the key unlocking the holy of holies to Him as our High Priest and
Redeemer, it is not merely our ransom by which we are delivered out of
bondage, and, freed from the curse, are brought nigh unto God; but it also
separates us from death and sin. It is incorruptible, always cleansing and
vivifying; through this blood we are separated from this evil world, and
overcome; by this blood we keep our garments white (

John 6:53,

Revelation 7:14).
“What had necessarily to be separated in the types, is here in unity and
perfection. Likewise, what really and potentially is given to us when we
are first brought into the state of reconciliation and access, of justification
and sanctification, is in our actual experience continually repeated. We.45
have been cleansed and sanctified once and forever; the same blood,
remembered and believed in, cleanseth us continually. The difference
between this continual cleansing and the first (according to

John 13:10)
must never be forgotten, or we fall into a legal condition, going back from
the holy of holies into the holy place. But, on the other hand we must not
forget the living character of the blood, which by the Spirit is continually
applied to us, and by which we have peace, renewal of the sense of pardon,
and strength for service (

1 Peter 1:2).”
Having pointed out what God’s people are redeemed from, the Holy Spirit
next makes a brief notice of what Christ has redeemed unto. He has
delivered us from the curse of the law and the bondage of sin; He has also
procured for us an “eternal inheritance”: His satisfaction has merited for us
the favor and image of God and everlasting bliss in His presence. In
referring to this, the Spirit also takes occasion to bring out the fact that the
sacrifice of Christ was necessary in order for God to make good His
promises of old. Herein too He once more meets the Jewish prejudice —
why must this great High Priest die? The death of Christ was requisite in
order to the accomplishing of God’s engagements to Abraham and his
(spiritual) seed, to confirm His covenant-pledges, which, once more, brings
into view the relation which Christ sustains to the everlasting covenant.
“And for this cause He is the Mediator of the new testament, that
by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under
the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise
of eternal inheritance” (verse 15).
Each word in this verse requires to be duly weighed and carefully
considered both in the light of what immediately precedes and follows,
otherwise we are certain to err. The opening “And” is plain intimation that
no new subject begins here, which at once disposes of the figment that this
and the next verses require to he placed in a parenthesis. The apostle
continues to treat of what was before him in the verses which we
considered in the last article. He is still showing the excellency of our High
Priest and the superior efficacy of His sacrifice. That the contents of this
verse are by no means free from difficulty is readily allowed, yet its leading
thoughts are plain enough.
“And for this cause He is the Mediator of the new testament.” The Greek
words for “for this cause” are rendered “therefore” in

Hebrews 1:9 and
other places. They signify, because of this, or for this reason. There has.46
been a great deal of discussion as to precisely what is referred to in “for
this cause”: some insisting that it looks back to what has been affirmed in
the previous verses, others contending that it points forward to that which
is declared in the second half of this verse. Personally, we believe that both
are included. There is a fullness to God’s words which is not to be found in
man’s, and whenever an expression is capable of two or more meanings,
warranted by the context and the analogy of faith, both should be retained.
Let us then look at the two thoughts here brought together.
“For this cause”: because of the superior nature and efficacy of the
sacrifice which Christ was to offer, God appointed Him to be the Mediator
of the new covenant. It was out of (prospective) regard unto the fitness of
Christ’s person and the excellency of His offering, that God ordained Him
to make mediation between Himself and His fallen people. Because He
should make an effectual atonement for their sins and provide a way
whereby their troubled consciences might have peace, God decreed that
His Son, becoming incarnate, should interpose between poor sinners and
the awful Majesty they have offended. “For this cause”: and also, because
it was only by means of death that the transgressions under the first
testament could be redeemed and the called receive the promise of eternal
inheritance, Christ was appointed Mediator of the new covenant.
With his usual sagacity John Owen combined both ideas: “It is evident
there is a reason rendered in these words, of the necessity of the death and
sacrifice of Christ, by which alone our consciences may be purged from
dead works. And this reason is intended in these words, ‘For this cause.’
And this necessity of the death of Christ, the apostle proves both from the
nature of His office, namely, that He was to be the Mediator of the new
covenant, which, being a testament, required the death of the testator; and
from what was to be effected thereby, namely, the redemption of
transgressions, and the purchase of an eternal inheritance. Wherefore, these
are the things which he hath respect unto in these words.”
“He is the Mediator of the new testament.” It seems strange that some of
the best of the expositors understand this to mean that after Christ had
“offered Himself without spot to God” he became “the Mediator,” which is
indeed a turning of things upside down and a putting an effect for a cause.
A mediator is one who stands between two parties, and two parties at
variance, and that with the object of settling the difference between them,
that is, of effecting a reconciliation. Hence we read,.47
“For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men,
the man Christ Jesus; Who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be
testified in due time” (

1 Timothy 2:5, 6).
The second half of our verse ought to have prevented such a blunder: “He
is the Mediator of the new testament, that by means of death they which
are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.”
As we pointed out in our comments upon

Hebrews 8:6, it is most
important to recognize that Christ is a sacerdotal Mediator, that is, one
who has interposed His sacrifice and intercession between God and His
people in order to their reconciliation. In voluntarily undertaking to serve
as Mediator between God and His people considered as fallen creatures,
two things were required from Christ. First, that He should completely
remove that which kept the covenanters at a distance, that is, take away the
cause of enmity between them. Second, that He should purchase and
procure, in a way suited unto the glory of God, the actual communication
of all the good things — summed up in “grace and glory” (

Psalm 84:11)
— which belong to those whose Surety He was. This is the foundation of
the “merits” of Christ and of the grant of all blessings unto us for His sake.
In what has just been pointed out, we may perceive an additional
signification to the opening “And” of our verse. Christ is not only “High
Priest” (verses 11-14), but “Mediator” too. He undertook office upon
office in order to our greater good. Christ is, in the “new covenant” or
“testament,” the Mediator, Surety, Priest and Sacrifice, all in His own
person. In order that we may have something like a definite conception of
these, let us consider, separately, the various relations which our blessed
Redeemer sustains to the everlasting covenant.
First, He is the Surety of it:

Hebrews 7:22. As such He engaged to
render full satisfaction to God on behalf of His people, to do and suffer for
them all that the law required. He transferred to Himself all their
obligations, undertaking to pay all their debts. In other words, He
substituted Himself in their place and stead, in consequence of which there
was a double imputation: God reckoning to Christ all their liabilities, God
imputing to them His perfect righteousness (

2 Corinthians 5:21).
As the “Surety” Christ most blessedly fulfilled the type of

Genesis 43:9,
being Sponsor to His Father for all His beloved Benjamins,

Hebrews
2:13,

Isaiah 49:5, 6,

John 10:16..48
Second, as the Mediator of the covenant (

Hebrews 12:24), He took
His place between God and His people, undertaking to maintain the
interests and secure the honor of both parties, by perfectly reconciling the
one to the other. As the “Mediator” Christ has blessedly fulfilled the type
of Jacob’s “ladder,” uniting heaven and earth.
Third, as the Messenger (

Malachi 3:1) or “Angel” of the covenant
(

Revelation 8:3-5) He makes known God’s purpose and will to His
people, and presents their requests and worship to Him.
Fourth, as the Testator of the covenant (

Hebrews 9:16) He has ratified
it and made bequests and gifts to His people. Finally, and really first, as the
Head of the whole election of grace, the covenant was made with Him by
God:

Psalm 89:3, etc.
“For this cause He is the Mediator of the new testament.” Here again there
has been an almost endless controversy as to whether this last word should
be rendered “covenant” or “testament,” that is, “will.” The same Greek
word has been translated by both these English terms, some think wrongly
so, for a “covenant” is, strictly speaking, an agreement or contract between
two parties: the one promising to do certain things upon the fulfillment of
certain conditions by the other; whereas a “testament” or “will” is where
one bequeaths certain things as gifts. Thus there seems to be little or
nothing in common between the two concepts, in fact, that which is quite
contrary. Nevertheless, our English translators have rendered the Greek
word both ways, and we believe, rightly so. Nevertheless it remains for us
to enquire, why should the same term be rendered “covenant” in

Hebrews 8:6 and “testament” in

Hebrews 9:15? Briefly, the facts are
as follows.
First, the word “diatheke” occurs in the Greek New Testament thirty-three
times, having been translated (in the A.V.) “covenant” twenty times (twice
in the plural number) and “testament” thirteen times, four of the latter
being used in connection with the Lord’s supper.
Second, in the Sept. version (the translation of the Hebrews Old Testament
into Greek) this word “diatheke” occurs just over two hundred and fifty
times, where, in the great majority of instances, it is used to translate
“berith.”.49
Third, the Greek word “diatheke” is not that which properly denotes a
covenant, compact, or agreement; instead, the technical terms for that is
“syntheke,” but the Spirit never once uses this word in the New Testament.
Fourth, on the other hand, it should be noted that the Hebrew language
has no distinctive word which means a will or testament.
Fifth, the most common use of the term “diatheke” in the New Testament,
particularly in 2 Corinthians 3 and in Hebrews, neither denotes a
“covenant” proper (a stipulated agreement) nor a “will,” but instead, an
economy, a dispensational arrangement or ordering of things.
Now it needs to be very carefully noted that from

Hebrews 9:15 to the
end of the chapter, the apostle argues from the nature of a will or
“testament” among men, as he distinctly affirms in verse 16. His manifest
object in so doing was to confirm the Christian’s faith in the expectation of
the benefits of this “covenant” or “testament.” Nor did he violate the rules
of language in this, straining neither the meaning of the Hebrews “berith”
nor the Greek “diatheke,” for there is, actually, a close affinity between
the two things. There are “covenants” which have in them free grants or
donations, which is of the nature of a “testament”; and there are
“testaments” whose force is resolved into conditions and agreements — as
when a man wills an estate to his wife on the stipulation that she remains a
widow — which is borrowed from the nature of a “covenant.”
If we go back to the Old Testament and study the various “covenants”
which God made with men, it will be found again and again that they were
merely declarations whereby He would communicate good things unto
them, which has more of the nature of a “testament” in it. Sometimes the
word “covenant” was used simply to express a free promise, with an
effectual donation and communication of the thing promised, which also
has more of the nature of a “testament’’ than of a “covenant.” Thus, once
more, we perceive a fullness in the words of the Holy Spirit which
definitions from human dictionaries do not include. That which was a
“covenant,” has become to us a testament. The “covenant” was made by
God with Christ. By His death that which God pledged Himself to do unto
the heirs of promise in return for the work which Christ was to perform, is
now bequeathed to us as a free gift: what was a legal stipulation between
the Father and the Mediator, comes to us purely as a matter of grace..50
Some have insisted that “the Mediator of the new covenant” is
understandable, but that “Mediator of the new testament” is no more
intelligible than the “testator of a covenant” would be. Our answer is that,
the Spirit of God is not tied by the artificial rules which bind human
grammarians.

Romans 8:17 tells us that Christians are “heirs of God,”
that is of the Father, yet He has not died! No figure must be pressed too
far. Some have argued that because the Church is the Body of Christ, it
cannot also be His “Bride,” but such carnal reasoning is altogether
inadmissible upon spiritual and Divine things; as well might we argue that
because Christ calls us “brethren” (

Hebrews 2:12), therefore we cannot
be His “children” (

Hebrews 2:13); or that because Christ is the
“everlasting Father” of Israel (

Isaiah 9:6), He cannot also be their
“Husband” (

Isaiah 54:5). The truth is, that Christ is both the Mediator
of the new covenant, and the Mediator of the new testament, looking at the
same office from two different angles. God has so confirmed the promises
in Christ (

2 Corinthians 1:20), that at His death He made a legacy of
them and bequeathed them to His people in a testamentary form.
To sum up what has been said on this difficult but important subject:
throughout the New Testament the Holy Spirit has intentionally used only
the one word “diatheke” — though there was another in the Greek
language (“syntheke”) which more exactly expressed a “covenant” —
because it was capable of a double application, and that, because the Son
of God is not only the Mediator of a new covenant, but also the Testator of
His own gifts. Thereby God would fix our gaze on the cross of Christ and
see there that what had up to that day existed as a “covenant,” then
,became for the first time, a “testament”; and that while the covenant
between the Father and the Son is from everlasting, the “new testament”
dates only from Calvary.
“For the redemption of the transgressions under the first testament.” This
states one of the principal ends which God had in view when appointing
Christ to be the “Mediator,” namely, to deliver His people from all the
bondage they were subject to as the result of their violations of His law,
and that by the payment of a satisfactory price. But, it may be asked, why
not “the redemption of the transgressors” rather than “transgressions”? Did
Christ purchase sins? The reference is to His expiation of His people’s
iniquities, and they were “debts,” and Christ’s death was a discharge of
that debt..51
“The discharge of a debt is a buying it out. Thus to redeem sins is
no more harsh a phrase than to be ‘delivered for our offenses’
(

Romans 4:25), or ‘who gave Himself for our sins’
(

Galatians 1:4), or to be ‘merciful to their unrighteousness,’

Hebrews 8:12’ (William Gouge).
“For the redemption of the transgressions under the first testament.’’ In
these words the Spirit makes a further exhibition of the virtue and efficacy
of Christ’s death, by affirming that it paid the price of remitting the sins of
the Old Testament saints. Here again the apostle is countering the Jewish
prejudice. The death of Christ was necessary not only if sinners of New
Testament times should be fitted to serve the living God (verse 14), but
also to meet the claims which God had against the Old Testament saints.
The efficacy of Christ’s atonement was retrospective as well as
prospective: cf.

Romans 3:25. The true (in contrast from the typical),
spiritual (in contrast from the ceremonial), and eternal (in contrast from the
temporal), “redemption’’ of the Old Testament saints was effected by the
sacrifice of Christ. The same thing is clearly implied in

Hebrews 9:26:
had not the one offering of Christ — as the Lamb “foreordained before the
foundation of the world” (

1 Peter 1:19, 20) — been of perpetual
efficacy from the days of Abel onwards, then it had been necessary to
repeat it constantly in order to redeem believers of each generation. It was
God’s eternal purpose that Christ’s atonement, settled in the “everlasting
covenant,” should be available to faith from the beginning. Hence, the
apostle said. “Through this Man is preached unto you the forgiveness of
sins (cf.

Galatians 3:8,

Hebrews 4:2), and by Him all that believe —
Old Testament saints as truly as the New Testament — are justified from
all things” (

Acts 13:38, 39).
“Now, if any one asks, whether sins under the Law were remitted
to the fathers, we must bear in mind the solution already stated, —
that they were remitted; but remitted through Christ. Then
notwithstanding their external expiations, they were always held
guilty. For this reason Paul says that the law was a handwriting
against us (

Colossians 2:14). For when the sinner came forward
and openly confessed that he was guilty before God, and
acknowledged by sacrificing an innocent animal that he was
worthy, of eternal death, what did he obtain by his victim, except
that he sealed his own death as it were by this handwriting? In
short, even then they only reposed in the remission of sins, when.52
they looked to Christ. But if only a regard to Christ took away sins,
they could never have been freed from them, had they continued to
rest in the law” (John Calvin).
“For the redemption of the transgressions under the first testament.’’ It
remains for us to ask, Why this limitation? for Christ atoned for the sins of
those who were to believe as much as for those who had, before He
became incarnate, looked in faith to Him.
First, because a measure of doubt or uncertainty could exist only
concerning them. Some have taught, and possibly some in the apostle’s day
thought, that naught but earthly blessings would be the portion of those
who died before the present dispensation. Therefore to remove such a
doubt, it is affirmed that Old Testament believers too were redeemed by
Christ’s blood.
Second, because the apostle had pressed so hard the fact that the Levitical
sacrifices could not remove moral guilt from those who lived under the
Mosaic economy, he shows Christ’s sacrifice had.
Third, because by just consequence it follows that, if those who trusted
Christ of old had redemption of their transgressions through Him, much
more they who are under the new testament.
“The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin”
(

1 John 1:7):
it was just as efficacious in taking away the transgressions of believers
before it was actually shed, as it is of cleansing believers today, nineteen
centuries after it was shed.
“They which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.’’
Here the “heirs” are designated by character rather than by name, by this
qualification (Greek) “they which have been called,” that is, effectually so,
or truly converted to God. In

John 1:12 this privilege of heir-ship is
settled upon “believers,” such as do heartily accept of Christ and His grace.
In

Acts 26:18 and

Colossians 1:12 the heirs are described as
“sanctified,” that is, as personally dedicated to God and set apart to live
unto Him. This expression “the called” is a descriptive appellation of the
true spiritual people of God, and looks back to the “call” of Abraham
(

Hebrews 11:8), who, in consequence of the mighty workings of divine
grace in his heart, turned his back upon the world and the things of the.53
flesh (

Genesis 12:1), and entered the path of faith’s obedience to God.
Only those possessing these marks are the spiritual “children” of Abraham,
such as have been “called with a holy calling” (

2 Timothy 1:9).
“Might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” This is the goal toward
which the apostle has been steadily moving, as he has passed from clause
to clause in this verse. That the called of God might receive the promise of
eternal inheritance was the grand ultimate object of the “everlasting
covenant” so far as men are concerned, and the chief design of the new
testament. But an obstacle stood in the way, namely, the transgressions or
sins of those who should be “called.” In order to the removal of that
obstacle, Christ must die that death which was due unto those
transgressions. For the Son of God to die, He must be appointed unto a
mediatorial position and become incarnate. Because He was so appointed,
because He did so die, because He has redeemed from all transgressions,
the “eternal inheritance” is sure unto all His people, His heirs, the “called”
of God.
“Might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” The children of Israel
received from God an external call which separated them from the heathen,
and when they were redeemed from Egypt they received promise of a
temporal or earthly inheritance. But inside that Nation was “a remnant
according to the election of grace,” and they, individually, received from
God an inward call, which made them the heirs of an eternal inheritance. It
is of these latter that our verse speaks, yet as including also the saints of
the present dispensation. Promise of an “eternal inheritance” had the Old
Testament saints. They had the Gospel preached unto them (

Hebrews
4:2). They were saved through “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ”
(

Acts 15:11) as well as we. They “did all eat the same spiritual meat and
did all drink the same spiritual drink,” even Christ (

1 Corinthians 10:3,
4). And therefore did they “desire a better country, that is, an heavenly”
(

Hebrews 11:16). How all of this sets aside the preposterous figment of
the modern “dispensationalists,” who relegate “Israel” to an inferior
inheritance from that which belongs to “the Church”!
“Might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” What is meant by the
first four words here? First, let us very briefly define the “eternal
inheritance.” By it we understand God’s “great salvation” (

Hebrews
2:3), considering it in its most comprehensive sense, as including
justification, sanctification and glorification. It is that blessed estate which.54
Christ has purchased for “His own,” here called an “inheritance” to remind
us that the way whereby we come unto it is by a gratuitous adoption, and
not by any merits of our own. Now as the state of those who are to receive
it is twofold, namely, in this life and in that which is to come, so there are
two parts of this inheritance: “grace and glory.” Even now “eternal life” is
communicated to those who are called according to God’s purpose.
But “grace” is only “glory” begun: the best “wine” is reserved for the time
to come. For the future aspect of the “eternal inheritance” see

1 Peter
1:3-5.
The way whereby God conveys this “eternal inheritance” is by “promise”:
see

Galatians 3:18 and

Hebrews 6:15-18. And this for a threefold
reason at least.
First, to manifest the absolute freeness of the grant of it: the “promise” is
everywhere opposed unto everything of “works” or desert in ourselves:

Romans 4:14, etc.
Second, to give security unto all the heirs of it, for the very veracity and
faithfulness of God is behind the promise:

Titus 1:1, etc. Since God has
“promised” to bestow the “inheritance,” nothing in, of, or from the heirs
can possibly be an occasion of their forefeiting it:

1 Thessalonians 5:24.
Third, that it might be by faith, for what God promises necessarily
requires faith, and faith only, unto its reception:

Romans 4:16.
The “receive the promise” has a double force.
First, it is to “mix faith” with it (

Hebrews 4:2), to appropriate it
(

Hebrews 11:13, 17), so as not to stagger at it in unbelief (

Romans
4:20, 21).
Second, it is to receive the fulfillment of it. As unto the foundation of the
whole inheritance, in the sacrifice of Christ, and all the grace, mercy and
love, with the fruits thereof, these are communicated to believers in this
life:

Galatians 3:14. As unto the consummation, the future state in
glory, we “receive the promise” by faith, rest thereon, and live in the
joyous expectation of it:

Hebrews 11:13.
In conclusion, let us sum up the contents of this remarkable verse, adopting
the analysis of John Owen..55
1. God has designed an “eternal inheritance” unto certain persons.
2. The way in which a right or title is conveyed thereunto is by
“promise.”
3. The persons unto whom this inheritance is designed, are the “called.”
4. The obstacle which stood in the way of their enjoyment of this
inheritance was their “transgressions.”
5. That this obstacle might be removed, and the inheritance enjoyed,
God made a “new covenant,’’ because none of the sacrifices under the
first covenant, could expiate sins.
6. The ground of the efficacy of the “new covenant” unto this end was,
that it had a Mediator, a great High Priest.
7. The means whereby the Mediator of the new covenant did expiate
the sins against the first testament was by “death,” and this of necessity,
seeing that this new covenant, being also a “testament,” required the
death of the Testator.
8. The death of this Mediator has taken away sins by “the redemption
of transgressions.” Thus, the promise is sure unto all the seed..56
CHAPTER 43
THE NEW TESTAMENT
(

HEBREWS 9:16-22)
Having affirmed (

Hebrews 9:12, 14) that the blood of Christ is the
means of the believer’s redemption, in verse 15, the apostle proceeds to
make further proof of this basic and vital truth. His argument here is taken
from the design and object of Christ’s priesthood, which was to confirm
the covenant God had made with His people, and which could only be
done by blood. First, he affirms that the Savior was “the Mediator of the
new testament.” Many functions were undertaken by Him. Just as one type
could not set forth all that the Lord Jesus did and suffered, so no single
office could display all the relations which He sustained and all the benefits
He procured for us. That which is done by a prophet, by a priest, by a king,
by a surety, by a mediator, by a husband, by a father, that and more has
been done by Christ. And the more dearly we observe in Scripture the
many undertakings of Christ for us, as seen in His varied relations, the
more will He be endeared to our hearts, and the more will faith be
strengthened.
Christ’s undertaking to be a “Mediator” both procured a covenant to pass
between God and men, and also engaged Himself for the performance
thereof on both parts. This could only be by a full satisfaction being
rendered to Divine justice, by the shedding of blood infinitely valuable as
His was. To assure His people of their partaking of the benefits of God’s
covenant, the cross of Christ has turned that covenant into a testament, so
that the conditions of the covenant on God’s part (its requirements:
namely, perfect obedience rendered to His law, and thus “everlasting
righteousness’’ being brought in:

Daniel 9:24; and full satisfaction being
taken by the law for the sins of His people) might be so many legacies,
which being ratified by the death of the Testator, none might disannul.
Unspeakably blessed as are the truths expressed (so freely) above, there is
another which is still more precious for faith to apprehend and rest on, and
that is, that behind all offices (so to speak), lying at the foundation of the.57
whole dispensation of God’s grace toward His people, is the mystical
oneness of Christ and His Church: a legal oneness, which ultimates by the
Spirit’s work in a vital union, so that Christ is the Head and believers are
the members of one Person (

1 Corinthians 12:12, 13). This, and this
alone, constituted the just ground for God to impute to Christ all the sins
of His people, and to impute to them the righteousness of Christ for their
justification of life. What Christ did in obeying the law is reckoned to them
as though that obedience had been performed by them; and in like manner,
what they deserved on account of their sins was charged to and endured by
Him, as though they themselves had suffered it: see

2 Corinthians 5:21.
The first spring of the union between Christ and His Church lay in that
eternal compact between the Father and the Son respecting the salvation of
His people contemplated as fallen in Adam. In view of the human nature
which He was to assume, the Lord Christ was “predestinated” or
“foreordained” (

1 Peter 1:20) unto grace and glory, and that by virtue
of the union of flesh unto His Godhead. This grace and glory of the God-man
was the exemplary cause and pattern of our predestination:

Romans 8:29,

Philippians 3:21. It was also the cause and means of
the communicating of all grace and glory unto us, for we were “chosen in
Him before the foundation of the world” (

Ephesians 1:4). Christ was
thus elected (

Isaiah 42:1) as Head of the Church, His mystical body. All
the elect of God were then committed unto Him, to be delivered from sin
and death, and brought unto the enjoyment of God:

John 17:6,

Revelation 1:5, 6.
In the prosecution of this design of God, and to effect the accomplishment
of the “everlasting covenant” (

Hebrews 13:20), Christ undertook to be
the “Surety” of that covenant (

Hebrews 7:22), engaging to answer for
all the liabilities of His people and to discharge all their legal
responsibilities. Yet was it as Priest that Christ acted as Surety: God’s
“Priest,” our “Surety.” That is to say, all the activities of Christ were of a
sacerdotal character, having God for their immediate object; but as these
activities were all performed on our behalf, He was a Surety or Sponsor for
us also. As the “Surety” of the covenant, Christ undertook to discharge all
the debts of those who are made partakers of its benefits. As our Surety He
also merited and procured from God the Holy Spirit, to communicate to
His people all needful supplies of grace to make them new creatures, which
enables them to yield obedience to God from a new principle of spiritual
life, and that faithfully unto the end..58
When considering the administration of the “everlasting covenant’’ in
time, we contemplate the actual application of the grace, benefits and
privileges of it unto those for whose sakes it was devised and drawn up.
For this the death of the Mediator was required, for only through His
blood-shedding is the whole grace of the covenant made effectual unto us.
This it is which is affirmed in

Hebrews 9:15, and which we considered
at length in our last article. In the passage which is now to be before us, the
apostle does two things: first, he refers to a well known fact which is
everywhere recognised among men, namely, that a will or testament
requires the death of the testator to give it validity. Second, he refers to an
Old Testament type which exemplifies the principle which he is here setting
before us.
“For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death
of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead:
otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth” (verses
16, 17).
That which is found in verses 16-23 is really of the nature of a parenthesis,
brought in for the purpose of showing why it was necessary for the
incarnate Son to die. In verse 24 the apostle returns to his proofs for the
superiority of the ministry of Christ over Aaron’s. What we have in verses
16, 17, is brought in to show both the need for and the purpose of the
death of Christ, the argument being drawn from the character and design of
that covenant of which He is the Mediator. Because that covenant was also
to be a “testament” it was confirmed by the death of the Testator. Appeal
is made to the only use of a will or testament among men.
The method by which the apostle here demonstrates the necessity of
Christ’s death as He was “the mediator of the new testament’’ is not
merely from the signification of the word “diatheke” (though we must not
lose sight of its force), but as he is speaking principally of the two
“covenants” (i.e., the two forms under which the “everlasting covenant”
has been administered), it is the affinity which there is between a solemn
covenant, and a testament, that he has respect unto. For it is to be carefully
noted that the apostle speaks not of the death of Christ merely as it was a
death, which is all that is required of a “testament” as such, without any
consideration of the nature of the testator’s death; but he speaks of it also
(and primarily) as it was a sacrifice by the shedding of His blood (verses
12, 14, 18-23), which belongs to a Divine covenant, and is in no way.59
required by a “testament.” Thus, we see again the needs-be for retaining
the double meaning and force of the Greek word here.
There has been much needless wrangling over the Divine person alluded to
under the word “Testator,” some insisting it is Christ, some the Father,
others arguing the impossibility of the latter because the Father has never
died. We believe that, in this case, Saphir was right when he said, “The
testator is, properly speaking, God; for we are God’s heirs; but it is God in
Christ.” Had he referred the reader to

2 Corinthians 5:19 his statement
had been given scriptural confirmation. The “everlasting covenant” or
Covenant of Grace has the nature of a “testament” from these four
considerations or facts.
First, it proceeded from the will of God: He freely made it (

Hebrews
6:17).
Second, it contained various legacies or gifts: to Christ, God bequeathed
the elect as His inheritance (

Deuteronomy 32:9,

Psalm 16:6,

Luke 22:29); to the elect themselves, that they should be joint-heirs
with Him (

Romans 8:17,

Revelation 3:21). Third, it is unalterable
(

Galatians 3:15), “ordered in all things and sure” (

2 Samuel 23:5);
having been duly witnessed to (

1 John 5:7), hence, being of the nature
of a “testament” there are no stipulations for men to fulfill (

Galatians
3:18). Fourth, the death of Christ has secured the administration of it.
A deed is not valid without a seal; a will cannot be probated until the
legatee dies, nor were God’s covenants with men (the historical
adumbrations of the “everlasting covenant”) ratified except by blood-shedding.
Thus it was with His covenant with Abraham (

Genesis 15:9,
18); thus it was with His covenant with Israel at Sinai (

Exodus 24:6).
Thus, unto the confirmation of a “testament” there must be the death of the
testator; unto the ratification of a “covenant” the blood of a sacrifice was
required. Thereby does the apostle prove conclusively the necessity for the
sacrificial death of Christ as the Mediator, both as the Mediator of a
“covenant” and as the Mediator of a “testament”: for through His
sacrificial death, both the promises contained in the “covenant” and the
bequeathments of the “testament,” are made irrevocably sure to all His
seed. We trust, then that we have been enabled to clear up the great
difficulty which the word “diatheke” has caused so many, and shown that it
has a double meaning and force in this passage..60
It remains for us to point out that the Old Testament supplies us with a
most striking type which blessedly illustrates the principle enunciated in
this 16th verse. But note first of all that verse 15 opens with “For” and that
this comes right after the mention of “the Mediator of the new testament,”
and the promise of “eternal inheritance” in verse 15. Now the “mediator”
of the “Old Testament” was Moses, and it was not until his death, though
immediately after it, that Israel entered their inheritance, the land of
Canaan! Looked at from the standpoint of God’s government, the death of
Moses was because of his sin (

Numbers 20:10-12); but considered in
relation to his official position, as “the servant over the house of God,” it
had another and deeper meaning as

Deuteronomy 3:26 shows, “the
Lord was wroth with me for your sakes” — how blessedly did this
foreshadow the reason why God’s wrath was visited upon Christ: Christ,
as Moses, must die before the inheritance could be ours.
In verse 17 it is not of the making of a testament which is referred to, but
its execution: its efficacy depends solely on the testator’s death. The words
“is of force” mean, is firm and cannot be annulled; it must be executed
according to the mind of the one who devised it. The reason why it is of
“no strength” during his lifetime, is because it is then subject to alteration,
according to the pleasure of him who made it. All the blessings of “grace
and glory” were the property of Christ, for He was “appointed Heir of all
things” (

Hebrews 1:2): but in His death, He made a bequeathment of
them unto all the elect. Another analogy between a human testament and
the testamentary character of Christ’s death is that, an absolute grant is
made without any conditions. So is the kingdom of heaven bequeathed to
all the elect, so that nothing can defeat His will. Whatever there is in the
Gospel which prescribes conditions, that belongs to it as it is a “covenant”
and not as a “testament.” Finally, the testator assigns the time when his
heirs shall be admitted into the actual possession of his goods; so too has
Christ determined the season when each shall enter both into grace and
glory.
Perhaps a brief word should be added by way of amplification to the bare
statement made above respecting the conditions which the Gospel
prescribes unto those who are the beneficiaries of Christ’s “testament.”
Repentance and faith are required by the Gospel; yet, strictly speaking they
are not “conditions” of our entering into the enjoyment of Christ’s gifts.
Faith is a means to receive and partake of the things promised, repentance
is a qualification whereby we may know that we are the persons to whom.61
such promises belong. Nevertheless, it is to be remembered that He who
has made the promises works in His elect these graces of repentance and
faith:

Acts 5:31,

Philippians 1:29.
“It is a great and gracious condescension in the Holy Spirit to give
encouragement and confirmation unto our faith, by a representation
of the truth and reality of spiritual things, in those which are
temporal and agreeing with them in their general nature, whereby
they are presented unto the common understandings of men. This
way of proceeding the apostle calls, a speaking ‘after the manner of
men’ (

Galatians 3:15). Of the same kind were all the parables
used by our Savior; for it is all one whether these representations be
taken from things real, or from those which, according unto the
same rule of reason and right, are framed on purpose for that end”
(John Owen).
“Whereupon neither the first was dedicated without blood. For
when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according
to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water,
and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all
the people, saying, This is the blood of the testament which God
hath enjoined unto you. Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the
tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. And almost all things
are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is
no remission” (verses 18-22).
In these verses the apostle is still pressing upon the Hebrews the necessity
for the blood-shedding of Christ. Their national history witnessed to the
fact that when God entered into covenant with their fathers, that covenant
was confirmed by solemn sacrifice.
In the verses upon which we are now to comment, the apostle is not
merely proving that the old covenant or testament was confirmed with
blood, for had that been his only object, he could have dispatched it in very
few words; rather does he also declare what was the use of blood in
sacrifices on all occasions under the law, and thereby he demonstrates the
use and efficacy of Christ’s blood as unto the ends of the new covenant.
The ends of the blood under the old covenant were two, namely,
purification and pardon, both of which were confirmed in the expiation of
sin. Unless the main design of the Spirit in these verses be steadily kept in
view, we miss the deeper meaning of many of their details..62
What has just been said above, supplies the explanation of what has
seemed a problem to some, namely that in these verses the apostle
mentions five or six details which are not found in the historical narrative
of Exodus 24. But the Holy Spirit is not here limiting our view to Exodus
24, but gathers up what is found in various places of the law; and that,
because He not only designed to prove the dedication of the covenant by
blood, but also to show the whole use of the blood under the law, as unto
purification and remission of sin. And He does this with the purpose of
declaring the virtue and efficacy of the blood of Christ under the new
testament, whereunto He makes an application of all the things in the
verses which follow. The “Moreover” at the beginning of verse 21 is plain
intimation that the Spirit is here contemplating something in addition to
that which is found in Exodus 24.
Verse 18. The opening word is usually rendered “therefore” or
“wherefore”: it denotes the drawing of an inference; it confirms a general
rule by a special instance. In verse 16 the general rule is stated; now, says
the apostle, think it not strange that the new testament was confirmed by
the death of the Testator, for this is so necessary that, the first one also was
confirmed in the same manner; and that, not only by death, but not
“without blood,” which was required for the ratification of a solemn
covenant. That to which reference is made is the “first” testament or
covenant. Here the apostle makes clear what he intended by the first or old
covenant, on which he had discoursed at large in chapter 8: it was the
covenant made with Israel at Horeb. Just a few words on the character of
it.
Its terms had all the nature of a formal covenant. These were the things
written in the book (

Exodus 24:4, 7) which were an epitome of the
whole law, as contained in Exodus 20-23. The revelation of its terms were
made by Jehovah Himself, speaking with awful voice from the summit of
Sinai: Exodus chapters 19, 20. Following the fundamental rule of the
covenant, as contained in the Ten Commandments, were other statutes and
rites, given for the directing of their walking with God. The same was
solemnly delivered to Israel by Moses, and proposed unto them for their
acceptation. Upon their approbation of it, the book was read in the hearing
of all the people after it had been duly sprinkled with the blood of the
covenant (

Exodus 24:7). Thereupon, for the first time, Jehovah was
called “The God of Israel” (

Exodus 24:10), and that by virtue of the
covenant. This formed the foundation of His consequent dealings with.63
them: all His chastening judgments upon Israel were due to their breaking
of His covenant.
While there is a contrast, sharp and clear, between the Old Testament and
the new, yet it should not be overlooked that there was also that which
bound them together. This was ably expressed by Adolph Saphir:
“The promise given to Abraham, and not to Moses, was not
superseded or forgotten in the giving of the law. When God dealt
with Israel in the wilderness, He gave them the promise that they
should be a peculiar treasure unto Him above all people: ‘for all the
earth is Mine’; and that they should possess the land as an
inheritance (

Exodus 19:5, 6; 23:30;

Deuteronomy 15:4).
Based upon this promise, and corresponding with the Divine
election and favor, is the law which God gave to His people. As He
had chosen and redeemed them so that they were to be a holy
people, and to walk before Him, even as in the Ten Commandments
the gospel of election and redemption came first: ‘I am the Lord thy
God, which brought thee out of Egypt.’ Hence this covenant or
dispensation, although it was a covenant, not of grace and Divine
gifts and enablings, but of works, was connected with and based
upon redemption, and it was dedicated, as the apostle emphatically
says, not without blood.
“Both the book, or record of the covenant, and all the people, were
sprinkled with the blood of typical sacrifices. For without blood is
no remission of sins, and the promises of God can only be obtained
through atonement. But we know that this is a figure of the one
great Sacrifice, and that therefore all the promises and blessings
under the old dispensation, underlying and sustaining it, were
through the prospective death of the true Mediator. When therefore
the spiritual Israelite was convinced by the law of sin, both as guilt
and as a condition of impurity and strengthlessness, he was
confronted by the promise of the inheritance, which always was of
grace, unconditional and sure, and in a righteous and holy manner
through expiation.”
Verse 19. The one made use of for the dedication of the covenant was
Moses. On God’s part he was immediately called unto this employment:
Exodus 3. On the part of the people, he was desired and chosen to transact
all things between God and them, because they were not able to bear the.64
effects of His immediate presence:

Exodus 19:19,

Deuteronomy
5:22-27; and this choice of a spokesman on their part, God approved
(verse 27). Thus Moses became in a general way a “mediator” between
God and men in the giving of the law (

Galatians 3:19). Thereby we are
shown that there can be no covenant between God and sinful men, but in
the hands of a Mediator, for man has neither meetness, merits, nor ability
to be an undertaker of the terms of God’s covenant in his own person.
Moses spake “every precept unto the people.” This intimates the particular
character of the Old Testament. It consisted primarily of commandments of
obedience (

Ephesians 2:15), promising no assistance for the
performance of them. The “new testament” is of another nature: it is one of
promises, and although it also has precepts requiring obedience, yet is it (as
a covenant) wholly founded in the promise, whereby strength and
assistance for the performance of that obedience are given to us. Moses’
reading “every precept unto the people” emphasizes the fact that all the
good things they were to receive by virtue of the covenant, depended on
their observance of all that was commanded them; for a curse was
denounced against every one that
“continued not in all things written in the law to do them”
(

Deuteronomy 27:26).
Obviously, such a “covenant” was never ordained for the saving of sinners:
its insufficiency for that end is what the apostle demonstrates in the sequel.
We are again indebted to the exposition of John Owen for much of the
above, and now give in condensed form some of his observations on the
contents of verse 19. Here, for the first time, was any part of God’s Word
committed to writing. This book of the law was written that it might be
read to all the people: it was not to be restricted to the priests, as
containing mysteries unlawful to ,be divulged. It was written and read in
the language which the people understood and spake, which condemns
Rome’s use of the Latin in her public services. Again; God never required
the observance of any rites or duties of worship, without a previous
warrant from His Word. How thankful should we be for the written Word!
That which Moses performed on this occasion was to sprinkle the blood.

Exodus 24:6 informs us that he took “half of the blood” and sprinkled it
“on the altar” (on which was the book); the other half on the people. The
one was God’s part; the other theirs. Thereby the mutual agreement of.65
Jehovah and the people was indicated. Typically, this foreshadowed the
twofold efficacy of Christ’s blood, to make salvation God-wards and to
save man-wards; or, to the remission of our sins unto justification, and the
purification of our persons unto sanctification. The “scarlet wool,”
probably bound around the “hyssop” (which was a common weed), was
employed as a sprinkler, as that which served to apply the blood in the
basons upon the people; “water” being mixed with the blood to keep it
fluid and aspersible. In like manner, the communication of the benefits of
Christ’s death unto sanctification, is called the “sprinkling of the blood of
Jesus Christ” (

1 Peter 1:2). To avail us, the blood must not only be
“shed,” but “sprinkled.”
The mingling of the “water” with the “blood” was to represent the “blood
and water” which flowed from the pierced side of the Savior (

John
19:34,35), the spiritual “mystery” and meaning of which is profound and
blessed. In

1 John 5:6 the Holy Spirit has particularly emphasized the
fact that the Christ came “by water and blood.” He came not only to make
atonement for our sins by His blood that we might be justified, but also to
sprinkle us with the efficacy of His blood in the communication of the
Spirit unto sanctification, which is compared unto “water”: see

John
7:38, 39,

Titus 3:5. The application of the blood to the “book” of the
covenant was an intimation that atonement could be made by blood for the
sins against its precepts, and the application of the “water” to it told of its
purity. The sprinkler pointed to the humanity of Christ, through which all
grace is communicated to us: the “scarlet wool” speaking of His personal
glory (

Daniel 5:7 etc.), and the “hyssop,” the meanest of plant-life (

1
Kings 4:33), being a figure of His lowly outward appearance.
Verse 20. In these words Moses reminded Israel of the foundation of their
acceptance of the covenant, which foundation was the authority of God
requiring them so to do; the word “enjoined” also emphasized the nature of
the covenant itself: it consisted principally not of promises which had been
given to them, but of “precepts” which called for hearty obedience. By
quoting here these words of Moses “this is the blood of the testament,” the
apostle proves that not only death, but a sacrificial death, was required in
order to the consecration and establishment of the first covenant. The
blood was the confirmatory sign, the token between God and the people of
their mutual engagements in that covenant. Thus did God from earliest
times teach His people, by type and shadow, the supreme value of the
blood of His Son. These words of Moses were plainly alluded to by the.66
Savior in the institution of His “supper”: “This is My blood of the new
testament” (

Matthew 26:28) i.e., this represents My blood, by the
shedding of which the new testament is confirmed.
Verse 21. The apostle now reminds the Hebrews that, not only was the Old
Testament itself dedicated with blood, but that also all the ways and means
of solemn worship were purified by the same. His purpose in bringing in
this additional fact was to prove that not only was the blood of Christ in
sacrifice necessary, but also to demonstrate its efficacy in the removing of
sins and thereby qualifying sinners to be worshippers of the most holy God.
The historical reference here is to what is found in

Leviticus 16:14, 16,
18. The spiritual meaning of the tabernacle’s furniture being sprinkled with
blood was at least twofold: first, in themselves those vessels were holy by
God’s institution, yet in the use of them by polluted men, they became
defiled, and needed purging. Second, to teach the Israelites and us that, the
very means of grace which we use, are only made acceptable to God
through the merits of Christ’s sacrifice.
What we have just sought to point out above, brings before us a most
important and humbling truth. In all those things wherein we have to do
with God, and whereby we approach unto Him, nothing but the blood of
Christ and the Spirit’s application of it unto our consciences, gives us a
gracious acceptance with Him. The best of our performances are defiled by
the flesh; our very prayers and repentances are unclean, and cannot be
received by God except as we plead before Him the precious blood of
Christ. “The people were hereby taught that, God could not be looked to
for salvation, nor rightly worshipped, except faith in every case looked to
an intervening blood. For the majesty of God is justly to be dreaded by us,
and the way to His presence is nothing to us but a dangerous labyrinth,
until we know that He is pacified towards us through the blood of Christ,
and that this blood affords to us a free access. All kinds of worship are then
faulty and impure until, Christ cleanses them by the sprinkling of His
blood…. If this thought only came to our mind, that what we read is not
written so much with ink as with the blood of Christ, that when the Gospel
is preached, His sacred blood distils together with the voice, there would
be far greater attention as well as reverence on our part” (John Calvin).
Verse 22. “By the law” signifies “according unto the law,” that is,
according to its institution and rule, in that way of faith and obedience
which the people were obligated unto. This has been shown by the apostle.67
in the verses preceding. His design being to prove both the necessity for
the death of Christ and the efficacy of His blood unto the purging of sins,
whereof the legal institutions were types. The qualifying “almost” takes
into consideration the exceptions of “fire” (

Numbers 31:23) and
“water” (

Leviticus 22:6, 7, etc.): but let it be carefully noted that these
exceptions were of such things as wherein the worship of God was not
immediately concerned, nor where the conscience was defiled; they were
only of external pollutions, by things in their own nature indifferent, having
nothing of sin in them; yet were they designed as warnings against things
which did defile. The “almost” also takes note of the exception in

Leviticus 5:11.
The last clause of verse 22 enunciates an axiom universally true, and in
every age. The curse of the law was, and still is, “the soul that sinneth it
shall die” (

Ezekiel 18:20). But whereas there is no man “that sinneth
not” (

Ecclesiastes 7:20), God, in His grace, provided that there should
be a testification of the remission of sins, and that the curse of the law
should not be immediately executed on them that sinned. This He did by
allowing the people to make atonement for those sins by the blood of
sacrifices:

Leviticus 17:11. Thereby God made known two things.
First, to the Israelites that, by the blood of animals there should be a
political or temporal remission of their sins granted, so that they should
not die under the sentence of that law which was the rule of government
over their nation.
Second, that a real spiritual and eternal forgiveness should be granted unto
faith in the sacrifice of Christ, which was represented by the slain animals.
The present application of this verse is that, no salvation is possible for any
soul that rejects the sacrifice of Christ..68
CHAPTER 44
THE GREAT SACRIFICE
(

HEBREWS 9:23-28)
Our present passage is so exceeding full that it is expedient we should
reduce our introductory remarks. Perhaps about all it is necessary to say is,
that here in Hebrews the apostle is treating of the priestly ministry of
Christ, and demonstrating the immeasurable superiority of His sacerdotal
functions over those of the legal priests. In the verses which are now to be
before us, the apostle makes a definite application of that which has been
treated of in the preceding section. A contrast is now drawn between the
types and their Antitype. Therein we are shown that inasmuch as the Great
Sacrifice which Christ offered unto God was the substance of all the Old
Testament shadows, it was efficacious, all-sufficient, final.
In

Hebrews 9:1-10 a declaration is made of sundry types and shadows
of the law. In

Hebrews 9:11-28 a manifestation of the accomplishment
of them is seen in the person and work of the Lord Jesus. In this second
section we are shown the excellency of Christ’s priesthood in the effecting
of those things and the securing of those blessings which Aaron and his
sacrificing of animals could not effect and secure. First, the affirmation is
made that Christ has entered into the true tabernacle, Heaven itself; that He
did so on the ground of His own infinitely meritorious blood, the value of
which is evidenced by the fact that it has “obtained eternal redemption”
(verses 11,12). Second, confirmation of this is then made: inasmuch as the
blood of beasts purified the flesh, much more can the blood of Christ purge
the conscience (verses 13,14). Moreover the Mediatorial office which
Christ undertook guaranteed our salvation (verse 15). So too the validity
of the covenant-testament insured the same (verses 16, 17); as also the
types pledged it (verses 19-22).
In

Hebrews 9:23 (which properly belonged to our last section) the
apostle concludes the main point he has been discussing, namely, that the
typical things being purged with animal’s blood, there must needs be a
more excellent way of purifying and consecrating heavenly things, and that.69
was by the precious blood of the incarnate Son of God Himself. Having
established this fact, he now returns to the other points of difference
between the legal priests and Christ. Those priests entered only an earthly
tabernacle, but Christ has gone into Heaven itself (verses 24, 25). The
entrance of Israel’s high priest into the holy of holies was repeated year by
year, but Christ entered once for all (verses 25, 26). This is confirmed by
the fact that men die but once, still less could the God-man suffer death
repeatedly (verses 27, 28). Hence the blessed issue to all who rest upon the
Great Sacrifice is, that He shall appear unto them “without sin unto
salvation” (verse 28).
“Therefore (it was) necessary that the patterns of things in the
heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things
themselves with better sacrifices than these” (verse 23).
The opening word denotes that a conclusion is now drawn from the
premises just established, a conclusion which has respect unto both parts of
the assertion made. In this verse the apostle brings to a head, or sums up,
his previous argument concerning the typical purification of all things
under the law, and the spiritual purification which has been effected by the
sacrifice of Christ.
“The general principle involved in these words is, plainly, that in
expiation the victim must correspond in dignity to the nature of the
offenses expiated, and the value of the blessings secured. Animal
blood might expiate ceremonial guilt and secure temporary
blessings, but in order to secure the expiation of moral guilt and the
attainment of eternal blessings, a nobler victim must bleed” (John
Brown).
“Therefore necessary (it was)”: the reference is both to the type and the
Antitype. It was so from God’s institution and appointment. There was
nothing in the nature of the typical objects themselves which demanded a
purgation by sacrifice, but, inasmuch as God designed to foreshadow
heavenly things by them, it was requisite that they should be purged with
blood. Likewise, inasmuch as God ordained that the heavenly things should
be purified, it was necessary that a superior sacrifice should be made, for
the typical offerings were altogether inadequate to such an end. Such
“necessity’’ was relative, and not absolute, for God was never under any
compulsion. His infinite wisdom deemed such a method fitting and suited
to His glory and the good of His elect..70
The “patterns” or “figures” (verse 23) were the things which the apostle
had been treating of, namely, the covenant, the book, the people, the
tabernacle and all its vessels of ministry. The “things in the heavens” were
the everlasting covenant, the Church, and its redemption by Jesus Christ.
The “heavenly things” had been designed in the mind of God in all their
order, causes, beauty, and tendency unto His own glory, from all eternity;
but they were “hid” in Himself (

Ephesians 3:8-10). Of these was God
pleased to grant a typical resemblance, a shadowy similitude, an earthly
adumbration, in the calling of Israel, His covenant with them, and the
appointing of the tabernacle with its priesthood. By this means He deigned
to instruct the early Church, and in their conformity to that typical order of
things did their faith and obedience consist; the spiritual meaning of which
the Old Testament saints did, in measure, understand (

Psalm 119:18).
“The heavenly things.” “By heavenly things, I understand all the effects of
the counsel of God in Christ, in the redemption, salvation, worship, and
eternal glory of the Church; that is, Christ Himself in all His offices, with
all the spiritual and eternal effects of them on the souls and consciences of
men, with all the worship of God by Him according unto the Gospel. For
of all these things, those of the law were the patterns. God did in and by
them give a representation of all these things” (John Owen). More
specifically Christ Himself and His sacrifice were typified by the legal rites.
So also all the spiritual blessings which His mediation has secured are
“heavenly things”: see

John 3:12,

Ephesians 1:3,

Hebrews 3:1.
The Church too (

Philippians 3:20) and Heaven itself as the abode of
Christ and His redeemed are included (

John 14:1-3). But here a
difficulty presents itself: how could such objects as those be said to be
“purified”?
Of all the things mentioned above not one of them is capable of real
purification from uncleanness excepting the Church, that is, the souls and
consciences of its members. Yet the difficulty is more seeming than real.
The term “purification” has a twofold sense, namely, of external
dedication unto God and internal purification, both of which are, generally
included in the term “sanctification” as it is used in Scripture. Thus, the
covenant, the book of the covenant, the tabernacle, and all its vessels were
“purified” in the first sense, that is, solemnly dedicated unto God and His
service. In like manner were all the “heavenly things” themselves
“purified.’’ Christ was consecrated, dedicated unto God in His own blood:

John 17:19,

Hebrews 2:10, etc. Heaven itself was dedicated to be an.71
habitation forever unto the mystical body of Christ, in perfect peace with
the angels who never sinned:

Ephesians 1:10,

Hebrews 12:22-24.
Yet there was also an internal “purification” of most of these “heavenly
things.” The souls and consciences of the members of the Church were
really cleansed, purified and sanctified with an inward and spiritual
purification:

Ephesians 5:25,26,

Titus 2:14. It has been “washed” in
the blood of Christ (

Revelation 1:5) and is thereby cleansed from all sin
(

1 John 1:7). And Heaven itself, was in some sense purified — as the
tabernacle was, because of the sins of the people in whose midst it stood
(

Leviticus 16:16). When the angels apostatized, sin entered Heaven
itself, and therefore was not pure in the sight of God (see

Job 15:15).
And upon the sin of man, a breach was made, enmity ensued, between the
holy angels above and fallen men below; so that Heaven was no meet place
for an habitation unto them both, until they were reconciled, which was
only accomplished in the sacrifice of Christ (

Ephesians 1:10,

Colossians 1:20).
One other detail needs to be considered: “But the heavenly things with
better sacrifices.” It is the use of the plural number here in connection with
the sacrifice of Christ which has occasioned difficulty to some. It is a figure
of speech known as an “enallage,” the plural being put for the singular by
way of emphasis. It is so expressed because the great sacrifice not only
confirmed the signification, virtue, and benefits of all others, but exceeded
in dignity, design and efficacy all others. Again; under the law there were
five chief offerings appointed unto Israel: the burnt, the meal, the peace,
the sin, the trespass (see Leviticus 1-5), and in Christ’s great Sacrifice we
have the antitype of all five, and hence His has superseded theirs. Thus, the
plural, “sacrifices” here emphasizes the one offering of Christ, expresses its
superlative excellency, and denotes that it provides the substance of the
many shadows under the law.
If the reader will read straight on through

Hebrews 9:18-23 he will then
be in a position to appreciate the lovely sequel which is recorded in

Exodus 24:8-11. A most glorious type was that. There we have a scene
for which there is nothing approaching a parallel on all the pages of
inspiration until the incarnation of the Son of God be reached. What we
have there in Exodus 24 might well be termed the Old Testament Mount of
Transfiguration. There we see not only Moses and Aaron, Nadab and
Abihu, but also seventy “elders” (representatives of the people) in the very.72
presence of God, perfectly at ease, eating and drinking there. The key-word
to that marvelous incident is the “Then” at the beginning of verse 9,
which brings out the inestimable value of the blood which had been
sprinkled, and shows the grand privilege which it had procured, even
making possible communion with God. The antitype of this is presented in

Hebrews 10:22.
“For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, the
figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the
presence of God for us” (verse 24).
The opening “For” denotes that a further reason is being advanced to
demonstrate the superiority of Christ’s sacrifice over those which were
offered under the law. In verse 23 this was shown by its power to “purify”
better objects than the typical offerings could dedicate or cleanse. Here the
proof is drawn from the place which Christ entered after He had offered
Himself a sacrifice unto God, namely, into Heaven itself. That which was
the peculiar dignity of the high priest of Israel, and wherein the principal
discharge of his duty did consist, was that he entered that sacred abode
where the typical and visible representation of the presence of God was
made. The antitype of this is what is here before us.
“For Christ.” The Mediator is again denominated by His official title. In
addition to our notes thereon under verse 14, we may point out that this
title “The Anointed” imports three things.
First, the offices or functions which the Son of God undertook for the
salvation of His people. These were three in number and each was
foreshadowed of old: the prophetic (

1 Kings 19:16,

Psalm 105:15),
the priestly (

Leviticus 8:12,30;

Psalm 133:2), the kingly (

1
Samuel 10:1, 16:13).
Second, the right which He has to undertake those functions: He who
“anointed” Christ was the Father (

Acts 10:38), thereby appointing and
authorizing Him (

Hebrews 5:5).
Third, His ability to perform those functions whereunto He was anointed:
therefore did He declare “the Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He
hath anointed Me to preach” etc. (

Luke 4:18). That expression “the
Spirit of the Lord is upon Me” referred to that Divine enduement which
had been conferred upon Him: cf.

John 3:34..73
“For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, the figures
of the true.” The negative is first expressed in order to emphasize the
contrast which follows. Three things are here said of respect to its
institution, it was the “holy of holies,” and that, because it had been
dedicated as the chamber where the special pledges of God’s presence
were given. Second, as to its fabric, though framed by Divine command, it
was but of human workmanship, “made with hands.” Third, as to its
principal end or design, it was a resemblance or figure of heavenly things.
From the Sept. translation of “holy of holies” by “the holy places,” it seems
that they used the plural number to supply the lack in the Greek language
of a suitable superlative.
“But into Heaven itself.” This entrance of Christ into the celestial
Sanctuary is to be distinguished from His entering “once into the holy
place” of verse 12. In our exposition of that verse we sought to show at
some length that the reference there is to what took place immediately after
the Savior expired upon the cross, when, in fulfillment of the type of

Leviticus 16:14, He appeared before the Father to present to Him the
memorial of His completed satisfaction. Aaron’s entrance into the holy of
holies was not for the purpose of making atonement — that was effected
outside (

Leviticus 16:11) — but to present to God an atonement
already accomplished. Nor could Aaron’s passing within the veil, clad only
in his “linen” garments (

Leviticus 16:4 and contrast

Exodus 28:2 —
etc.), possibly be a figure of Christ’s triumphant admission into heaven
with all the jubilation belonging to a coronation day. We must constantly
distinguish between Christ as the antitype of Aaron, and Christ as the
antitype of Melchizedek. Aaron pointed to nothing after Christ’s
resurrection; Melchizedek did. The “once” of

Hebrews 9:12
emphasizes the finality of Christ’s sacrifice. His “entrance” here in

Hebrews 9:24 was for the purpose of intercession, which is continuous:

Hebrews 7:25.
The entrance of our royal High Priest into heaven was necessary for
rendering His sacrifice effective in the application of the benefits of it to
the Church. As John Owen pointed out, the entrance of Christ into heaven
on His ascension, may be considered two ways. “1. As it was regal,
glorious and triumphant; so it belonged to His kingly office, as that
wherein He triumphed over all the enemies of the Church: see it described
in

Ephesians 4:8-10 from

Psalm 68:18. Satan, the world, death and
hell being conquered, and all power committed to Him, He entered.74
triumphantly into heaven. So it was regal. 2. As it was sacerdotal. Peace
and reconciliation being made by the blood of the cross, the covenant being
confirmed, eternal redemption obtained, He entered as our High Priest into
the holy place, the temple of God above, to make His sacrifice effectual to
His Church, and to apply the benefits of it thereunto.”
Christ entered Heaven as the great High Priest of His Church, as the
Mediator of the new covenant, as the “Forerunner” of His people
(

Hebrews 6:20), as their “Advocate” (

1 John 2:1), and the
“Firstborn of many brethren.” His design in so doing was “to appear in the
presence of God for us.” This He does “now,” at the present season, and
always. What the typical priest did was of no continuance. But this “now”
is expressive of the whole season and duration of time from the entrance of
Christ into heaven to the consummation of all things. Absolutely, His
entrance into Heaven had other ends in view (

John 17:5,

Hebrews
1:3 — “upholding” etc.), but to appear before God for His people as their
High Priest, was the only end or object of His entering Heaven, considered
as God’s “Temple,” where is the “throne of grace.” How this manifests
Christ’s full assurance of the success of His undertaking, His complete
discharge from all that guilt which had been imputed to Him. Had He not
made a full end of our sins, He could not have appeared with confidence as
our Surety in the presence of God!
“To appear in the presence of God for us.” This is an act of His sacerdotal
office. Not only is it our High Priest who does so “appear,” but He doth so
as the High Priest of His Church. Nevertheless, it is such an act as
necessarily implies the offering of Himself as a sacrifice for sin antecedent
thereto, for it was with the blood of the atoning sacrifice that Aaron
entered into the holy place (Leviticus 16) as the head and representative of
the people. In this appearance Christ presents Himself to God “as a lamb
that had been slain” (

Revelation 5:6)! It is that which gives validity and
efficacy to His “appearing.” The word “appear” is a forensic one, as of an
Attorney before the Judge. He has gone there to seek from God and
dispense to His people those blessings which He purchased for them. He
has gone there to plead the infinite merits of His sacrifice, as a permanent
reason why they should be saved:

Romans 8:34,

Hebrews 7:25. This
supplies the great testimony to the continuance of Christ’s love, care and
compassion toward the Church: it is their interests which He promotes..75
“Nor yet that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest
entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others”
(verse 25)
In this verse the apostle does two things: meets an objection which might
be made, and continues to demonstrate the superior excellency of the Great
Sacrifice. The objection could be framed thus: If Aaron’s entrance into the
holy of holies was a type of Christ’s entering heaven, then must He, like
the legal high priest, enter oft. This the apostle here denies. Such a
conclusion by no means follows, in fact, is utterly erroneous. God did not
require this from Christ, there was no need of it, and, as he shows in the
next verse, it was impossible that He should.
Such is the absolute perfection of the one offering of Christ, that it stands
in need of, that it will admit of, no repetition in any kind. Therefore does
the apostle declare that if it be despised or neglected, “there remaineth no
more sacrifice for sins” (

Hebrews 10:26). This absolute perfection of
the one offering of Christ arises from, first, the dignity of His person:

Acts 20:28. It was the God-man who obeyed, suffered and died:
nothing superior, nothing equal, could again be offered. Second, from the
nature of the sacrifice itself. In the internal gracious workings of Christ,
grace and obedience could never be more glorified than they had been by
Immanuel Himself. So too, in the punishment He underwent: He suffered
to the full, the whole curse of the law; hence, any further offering or
atonement would be highly blasphemous. Third, from the love of the
Father unto Him and delight in Him. In His one offering God was well
pleased, and in it He rests. Hence the impossibility of any repetition —
condensed from John Owen.
“Nor yet that He should offer Himself often.” In these positive and pointed
words the Holy Spirit has plainly anticipated and repudiated the
blasphemous practice of the Papists, who in their daily “mass” pretend to
sacrifice Christ afresh, and by their “priests” present Him as an offering to
God, claiming that the bread and wine are transubstantiated into the real
flesh and blood of Christ. Therefore are they guilty of the unspeakably
dreadful sin of crucifying to themselves the Son of God afresh, and putting
Him to an open shame (

Hebrews 6:6), for by their pretended “real
sacrifice of Christ” they, through their daily repetition of it, deny its
sufficiency and finality (

Hebrews 10:2), degrading it below that of the
annual atonement of Israel, which was made by the blood of beasts..76
“As the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of
others.” On these words William Gouge beautifully pointed out that,
“Herein we have an evidence of God’s tender respect to man in sparing his
blood. Though man were ordained a priest to typify Christ’s priesthood,
though man in that function were to appear before God, though he were to
bear their names, yea, and their sins (

Exodus 28:38), all of which Christ
did, yet when it came to the shedding of his blood, as Christ did His, God
spared him, and accepted the blood of beasts, as He accepted the ram for
Isaac (

Genesis 22:13). How this magnifies God’s love to us, who was
so tender of man, and yet spared not His own Son (

Romans 8:32)!”
“For then must He often have suffered since the foundation of the
world: but now once in the end of the world hath He appeared to
put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (verse 26).
This verse consists of two parts. First, a reason is given confirming the
assertion made in verse 25: had Christ been obliged to “offer Himself
often” to God, then must He have “suffered” afresh “from the foundation
of the world,” that is, died afresh in each generation of human history.
Second, a confirmation of that reason taken from the appointment of God:
only once, and that in the fullness of time, did Christ come to earth to be a
sacrifice for the sins of His people. Thus the apostle exposes the gross
absurdity of the objection he met in verse 25: to admit that, would be to
say Christ’s blood had no more efficacy than that which the Jewish high
priest offered.
The force of the apostle’s argument rests upon two evident suppositions.
First, that the “offering” (verse 25) and “suffering” (verse 26) of Christ are
inseparable. It was in and by His suffering that the Lord Jesus offered
Himself unto God, and that because He was Himself both the Priest and
the Sacrifice. Aaron “offered” repeatedly, yet he never once “suffered,” for
he was not the sacrifice itself. It was the bullock which was slain, that
suffered. But Christ being both Priest and Sacrifice could not “offer”
without “suffering,” and herein does the force of the argument principally
consist. The very especial nature of Christ’s offering or sacrifice, which
was by the shedding of His blood in death, precluded a repetition thereof.
Second, the apostle’s argument here is also built on the fact that there was
a necessity for the expiation of the sin of all that were to be saved from the
foundation of the world. Sin entered the world immediately after it was.77
founded, by the apostasy of our first parents. Notwithstanding, numbers of
sinners, as Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and the spiritual remnant in Israel
had their sins pardoned and were eternally saved; yet no sacrifice which
they offered could remit moral guilt or redeem their souls. No; their
salvation was also effected by virtue of the sacrifice of Christ. Hence it
follows unavoidably that unless the merits of His own one offering
extended unto the taking away of all their sins, then either He must have
suffered often, or they perish. Contrariwise, seeing that elect sinners were
saved through Christ “from the foundation of the world,” much more will
the virtues of the Great Sacrifice extend unto the end of the world.
“But now,” not at the beginning of human history; “once,” that is, once for
all, never to be repeated; “in the end of the world,” or in “the fullness of
time” (

Galatians 4:4). This expression “end of the world” or more
literally, “consummation of the ages” is here used antithetically from “since
the foundation of the world” which usually has reference to the first
entrance of sin into the world. and God’s dispensation of grace in Christ
thereon; as “before the foundation of the world” (

Ephesians 1:4, etc.)
expresses eternity and God’s counsels therein. The Divine distinctions of
time with respect to God’s grace toward His Church, may be referred to
three general heads: that before the law, during the law, and since the
incarnation of Christ unto the end of the world. This last season, absolutely
considered, is called the “fullness of times” (

Ephesians 1:10), when all
that God had designed in the dispensation of His grace was come to a
head, and wherein no alteration should be made till the earth was no more.
“Hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” He
“appeared” here on earth (the Greek word is quite different from the one
used in verse 24): of old He had been obscurely shadowed forth in types,
but now He was “manifest in flesh” (

1 Timothy 3:10). The end or
purpose of this appearing of Christ was to “put away sin” — the Greek
word is a very strong one, and is rendered “disannuling” in

Hebrews
7:18. Let it be carefully noted that this declaration is made only as it
respects the Church of Christ. He made a complete atonement for all the
sin of all His people, receiving its wages, expiating its guilt, destroying its
dominion. The results are that, when God applies to the penitent believer
the virtues of Christ’s sacrifice, all condemnation is removed (

Romans
8:1), and its reigning power is destroyed (

Romans 6:14)..78
“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the
judgment: so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and
unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time
without sin unto salvation” (verses 27, 28).
In these verses the apostle concludes his exposition of the causes, nature,
designs and efficacy of the sacrifice of Christ, wherewith the new covenant
was dedicated and confirmed. In them a three-fold confirmation is made of
the uniqueness and sufficiency of the Savior’s atonement. First a
comparison is drawn: pointed by the “as” and “so”. Second a declaration is
made as to why Christ died: it was to “bear the sins of many.” Third, the
resultant consequence of this is stated at the end of verse 28.
First, the comparison. This is between the death of men by the decretory
sentence of God, and the offering of Christ by God’s appointment. “It is
appointed unto men once to die.” That “appointment” was a penal one,
being the sentence and curse of the broken law (

Genesis 2:17),
consisting of two parts: temporal death and eternal judgment. Death is not
the result of chance, nor is it a “debt of nature,” a condition to which man
was made subject by the law of his creation. Death is something more than
the result of physiological law: the same God who sustained Methusalah
for well nigh a thousand years, would have sustained Adam’s body for all
eternity had he never fallen. Sinless angels are immortal. Death is the
wages of sin (

Romans 6:23). The case of Enoch and Elijah, Lazarus and
that generation of believers alive on earth at the return of Christ (

1
Corinthians 15:51), are only exceptions to the common rule, by mere acts
of Divine sovereignty.
“After this the judgment.” This, by the same Divine, unalterable
constitution, is also “appointed” unto all:

Acts 17:31. Death does not
make an end of man, but is subservient to something else, which is equally
certain and inevitable in its own season. As death leaves men, so shall
judgment find them. This “judgment” is here opposed to the “salvation” of
believers at the second appearing of Christ. It is the judgment of the
wicked at the last great day:

Romans 2:5. It will be the executing upon
them of the condemnatory sentence of the law, the irrevocable curse of
God — eternal banishment from Him, for indescribable and eternal
torments to be inflicted upon them.
“So Christ was once offered.” As the death-sentence, as a penal infliction,
was passed upon all of Adam’s descendants (

Romans 5:12) viewed as.79
criminals, as having broken the law in the person of their federal head, so
Christ was “appointed” or sentenced by God, the Judge of all, to undergo
the curse of the law, on the behalf and in the stead of those whom He
represented. “So Christ was once offered to bear the sin of many.” Here
we see that deliverance from the curse which the wisdom and grace of God
provided for His elect. The Anointed One, as the High Priest of His people,
presented to God an all-sufficient and final satisfaction for all the sins of all
who have been, from eternity, given to Him by the Father. Thus verses 27,
28 present the antithesis of the Law and the Gospel, as it relates to “men”
indefinitely, and to the “many” specifically. The sins of many He “bare” —
had imputed to Him, received the punishment of, and fully expiated — in
His own body on the tree (

1 Peter 2:24).
“And unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without
sin unto salvation.” This needs to be interpreted in harmony with its
context, and as furnishing the antitype of what is found in Leviticus 16.
The word for “appear” here is not the one commonly used for the return of
Christ — it means “to be seen.” When Aaron disappeared within the veil,
the people waited with eager expectation until he came out again to bless
them. So Christ, having made atonement, and gone into heaven, shall yet
re-appear and be seen by those who wait for Him. As men after death,
must yet appear the “second time” in their body, to undergo condemnation
therein; so Christ shall appear the second time, to bestow on God’s elect
eternal salvation.
“Unto them that look for Him:” that is, all the redeemed, the “many”
whose sins He bore. Though the vision tarry, they wait for it
(

Habakkuk 2:3). Five things are included in this word “look for.”
First, the steadfast faith of His appearing, resting with implicit confidence
on His promise in

John 14:2, 3.
Second, a real love unto it:

2 Timothy 4:8.
Third, an ardent longing after it, so that they cry, “Even so, come, Lord
Jesus” (

Revelation 22:20).
Fourth, a patient waiting for it, in the midst of many discouragements:

James 5:7, 8.
Fifth, a personal preparation for it:

Matthew 25:10,

Luke 12:35-37..80
“Without (imputed) sin, unto salvation.” Hereby Christ’s second advent is
contrasted from His first. When he appeared the first time, it was with “sin”
upon Him (

John 1:29) as the Surety of sinners. Therefore was He the
Man of sorrows, and afflicted from His youth up (

Psalm 88:15). But He
will re-appear in a very different state: as the Conqueror of sin and Satan,
the Savior of His people, the King of kings and Lord of lords. At His
return, the efficacy of His once-for-all offering will be openly manifested.
The question of His peoples’ sins having been finally settled at the cross,
He will then glorify His redeemed.
“For our conversation is in heaven: from whence also we look for
the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile ,body,
that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to
the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto
Himself” (

Philippians 3:20,21)..81
CHAPTER 45
THE TYPICAL SACRIFICE
(

HEBREWS 10:14)
The 10th chapter of our epistle has two main divisions: the first is occupied
with a setting forth of the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice unto those who
believe, verses 1-20; the second is devoted to the making of a practical
application of the doctrine of the first section unto faith, obedience, and
perseverance, verses 21-39. The principal design of the Spirit therein is to
exhibit the excellency and efficacy of Christ’s satisfaction, and this, not so
much God-wards, as saint-wards, showing the inestimable blessings which
it has procured for the favored members of the household of faith. The
method which the apostle was inspired to follow in carrying out this
design, was to, once more, set in antithesis the typical sacrifices of the
Mosaic dispensation with the one Sacrifice of Christianity, contrasting the
shadow with the Substance, and this, in order to bring out the inadequacy
of the one and the sufficiency of the other to provide a perfect standing
before God, with the resultant privilege of drawing near to Him as
accepted worshippers.
Because the sacrifices under the old covenant were incapable, in and of
themselves, to satisfy the claims of a holy God, they were also unable to
meet the needs of those who brought them. Because that, of themselves,
they could not make peace with God, neither could they give peace to the
conscience of the offerer. Because they failed to make real atonement for
sin, they could not cleanse the sinner. Therefore does the apostle point out
that the Aaronic offerings were but “shadows,” that the repetition of them
intimated their insufficiency, that the fact of unexpiated sin was recalled to
memory each time a victim was slain, and that inasmuch as it was merely
the blood of beasts which was shed, it was impossible that such a medium
or offering could either placate the wrath of God or procure His blessing
upon those who presented such sacrifices.
The connection between Hebrews 10 and what immediately precedes is
very blessed. In the closing verse of chapter 9 two things are joined.82
together: the cross of Christ and His second coming. And what intervenes
between Calvary and the actual entrance into Glory of those who were
there redeemed and reconciled to God? This: the Christian-life on earth,
and it is this which is mainly in view in the closing chapters of our epistle.
It is the present status, privileges, walk, discipline and responsibilities of
the saints which are therein set forth. That which is exhibited in the first
twenty verses of Hebrews 10 is the perfect standing before God which the
regenerated believer now has, and his blessed privilege as a worshipper of
entering in spirit within the Heavenly courts while waiting down here for
the promised return of his Savior. Having shown in chapter 9 that
atonement has been accomplished, that the heavenly places were purified
when the Redeemer entered the Holiest, the Spirit now emphasizes the fact
that the believer has been fitted to draw nigh unto God Himself as a purged
and accepted worshipper.
In previous sections the apostle has contrasted the priests of the Levitical
dispensation with our great High Priest, he has opposed the vastly different
covenants or economies to which each belonged, he has shown the
immeasurable superiority of Christ’s one offering of Himself over the many
sacrifices of old, he has placed in antithesis the respective “tabernacles” in
which Aaron and Christ officiated. Each and all of these was designed to
press upon the wavering Hebrews the deficiency of Judaism and the
excellency of Christianity. Now he shows that not only are the two systems
with all that pertains to them as different as a flickering candle and the
shining of the sun, but that the privileges enjoyed by the individuals
belonging to the one and the other are as widely separated as is light from
darkness. The Mosaic system, as such, was neither able to impart
permanent peace to the conscience nor give access into the presence of
God, but the Satisfaction of Christ has procured these precious blessings
unto those who flee to Him for refuge.
The order of thought which is followed in the first main division of our
present chapter ought not to be difficult to grasp. First, we have an
affirmation and demonstration of the deficiency of the legal sacrifices to
“perfect” the worshipper: verses 1-4. Second, we have a manifestation and
exemplification of the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice to “perfect forever”
(verse 14) those for whom He made satisfaction unto God: verses 5-20.
Thus the apostle proves again the imperative need for the supplanting of all
the unefficacious offerings of Judaism by the all-sufficient offering of
Christ. In the developing of the first point, an assertion is made of the.83
inadequacy of the Levitical sacrifices to expiate sin and meet the dire needs
of the offerer (verse 1). A confirmation of the truth of this assertion is
drawn from the frequency of their repetition (verse 2). It is shown that the
annual typical propitiation was only a constant re-opening of the question
of sin (verse 3). From these facts the inevitable conclusion is drawn that it
was impossible for such sacrifices to remove sins.
“For the law having a shadow of good things to come, not the very
image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they
offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto
perfect” (verse 1).
Three questions are suggested to the thoughtful reader of this verse.
First, exactly what is the contrast pointed by “shadow” and “image”?
Second, what is meant by the comers being made “perfect”?
Third, why did God appoint sacrifices that were so unefficacious?
These shall be our points of focus as we endeavor to expound this
verse.
“For the law having a shadow of good things to come.” The opening “For”
intimates that what is introduced thereby is an inference drawn from what
had previously been stated. Having shown that the sacrifice of Christ had
met all the demands of God and had confirmed the new covenant, the
apostle concludes from thence that, inasmuch as the Levitical sacrifices
could not effect those ends which had been accomplished by Christ’s, they
must be taken out of the way. The “law” here is not to be restricted to the
ceremonial, as the words “having a shadow” warn us; still less is it the
moral law, which, absolutely considered, had no sacrifices belonging to it.
No, the reference is to the whole of the Mosaic economy, or more
specifically, to the covenant which God made with Israel at Sinai, with all
the institutions of worship belonging thereto.
“Shadow is put first emphatically; only a shadow or outline of the
substantial and eternal blessings promised. A shadow has no
substance; but brings before the mind the form of the body from
which it is projected! The ‘image’ itself is given to us in Christ, a
full and permanent embodiment of the good things to come”
(Adolph Saphir)..84
We believe this presents the correct idea: it is clearly borne out by

Colossians 2:17, “which are a shadow of things to come, but the body
is of Christ.” The apostle is there speaking of the same things as he treats
of here in

Hebrews 10:1: the Mosaic economy, with all its ordinances
and institutions of worship, gave only an earthly adumbration or
representation, and did not possess the substance, reality, or “body”: that is
found only in Christ Himself, to whom the Old Testament shadows
pointed. A “shadow” gives a representation of a body, a more or less just
one of its form and size, yet only an obscure and imperfect one — compare
our remarks on

Hebrews 8:5.
The “good things to come” (future, not when this epistle was written, but
at the time that the Mosaic economy was instituted) has reference to all
those blessings and privileges which have come to the church in
consequence of the incarnation of Christ and the discharge of His office.
Well might they be designated “good things,” for there is no alloy or
mixture of evil with them; other things are “good” relatively, but these
things absolutely. The “image” or substance of them is found in Christ, and
set forth in His Gospel: for a similar use of the term “image” cf.

Romans 8:29.
“This therefore is that which the apostle denies concerning the law.
It had not the actual accomplishment of the promise of good things;
it had not Christ exhibited in the flesh; it had not the true real
sacrifice of perfect expiation: it represented these things; it had a
shadow of them, but enjoyed not, exhibited not the things
themselves. Herein was its imperfection and weakness, so that by
none of its sacrifices could it make the Church perfect” (John
Owen).
“Can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year
continually make the comers thereunto perfect.” In these words we have
the inference or conclusion for which the “For” at the beginning of the
verse prepares us: if the law contained in it nothing better than a “shadow,”
it is obvious that its sacrifices could not possibly make perfect those who
offered them. John Owen has most helpfully pointed out that the Greek
word here rendered “continually’’ signifies “forever,” occurring elsewhere
in this epistle only in

Hebrews 7:3, 10:12, 14 (Bagster’s Interlinear
gives “in perpetuity”) and that it should be connected not with the clause.85
preceding, but with the one following, thus: “the law by its sacrifices could
not perfect forever, or unto the uttermost, the comers thereto.”
Three things are affirmed in the second half of our verse.
First, the impotency of the “law” or old covenant, or Mosaic economy. It
could never “make perfect.” It could by no means, in no way do so; it was
impossible that it should. This is stated so emphatically in order to remove
from the minds of the Hebrews all expectations of perfection with Judaism.
Second, that with respect unto which this impotency of the law is here
ascribed was its “sacrifices,” which was the very thing in which most of the
Jews had chiefly placed their hopes. But not only is that affirmed of the
sacrifices in general, but also in particular of the great sacrifice on the day
of atonement, which was offered “year by year”: if that was ineffectual,
how much more so the minor offerings!
Third, that wherein its impotency lay was its inability to “perfect” the
“comers.”
Concerning the meaning of “perfect” here, we would refer back to our
exposition of

Hebrews 7:11. For the benefit of those who do not have
access to the August 1930 issue, we would point out that the term
“perfect” is one of the key-words of this epistle, close attention needing to
be paid to its contexts. It has to do more with relationship than experience.
It concerns the objective side of things rather than the subjective. It looks
to the judicial and vital aspect, more than to the practical. “Perfection”
means the bringing of a thing to that completeness of condition designed
for it. Doctrinally it refers to the producing of a satisfactory and final
relationship between God and His people. It speaks of that unchanging
standing in the favor and blessing of God which Christ has secured for His
saints. See also our notes on

Hebrews 2:10; 5:9; 6:1.
That “perfection” which God requires is absolute conformity to His moral
law, so that not only is there no guilt of transgression resting upon us, but
a full, flawless, and rewardable obedience to our account. How impossible
it was for the slaying of beasts to secure this is self-evident. The “comers
thereunto” are defined in verse 2 as “the worshippers”: it was those who
made use of the Levitical sacrifices in the worship of God. This term
“come” in the Hebrews’ epistle has its root in the “bring” of

Leviticus
1:2, the Hebrew word there signifying those who “draw nigh” with an
oblation, coming thus to the altar. Though the slaying of beasts procured a.86
temporary expiation, it did not secure an eternal forgiveness, it did not
perfect “continually” or “for ever.” Hence, the effect produced on the
conscience of the offerer was only a transient one, for a sense of sin
returned upon him, forcing him unto a repetition of the same sacrifices, as
the apostle declares in the next verse. This brings us to our third question:
Why did God appoint unto Israel sacrifices so ineffectual?
Many answers might be returned to this question. Though the Levitical
offerings failed to procure an eternal redemption, yet were they by no
means useless and without value. First of all, they served to keep in the
minds of Israel the fact that God is ineffably holy and will not tolerate evil.
They were constantly reminded that the wages of sin is death. They were
taught thereby that a constant acknowledgement of their sins was
imperative if communion with the Lord was to be maintained. In the
second place, by means of these types and shadows God was pointing out
to them the direction from which true salvation must come, namely, in a
sinless Victim enduring in their stead the righteous penalty which their sins
called for. Thereby God instructed them to look forward in faith to the
time when the Redeemer should appear, and the great Sacrifice be offered
for the sins of His people. Third, there was an efficacy in the Old
Testament sacrifices to remove temporal judgment, to give ceremonial
ablution, and to maintain external fellowship with Jehovah. They who
despised the sacrifices were “cut off” or excommunicated; but those who
offered them maintained their place in the congregation of the Lord.
Ere passing on to the next verse let us seek to make practical application
unto ourselves of what has been before us. In coming to God, that is,
drawing nigh unto Him as worshippers, the first qualification in us is that
we are legitimately assured of the perfect expiation (cancellation) of our
sins. When this foundation is not laid in the soul and conscience, all
attempts to approach God as worshippers are highly presumptuous, for no
guilty person can stand before Him. To offer thanksgiving and praise to
him before we know we have been forgiven and accepted by Him, is to
repeat the high-handed sin of Cain. The very first things proposed to us in
the Gospel are that we own our undone condition, judge ourselves
unsparingly, turn from our sins, and appropriate to our deep need the grace
of God as it is tendered to us in Jesus Christ. Only as the heart is truly
contrite and faith lays hold of the atoning blood of the Lamb, is any sinner
entitled to draw nigh unto the Holy One..87
“For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that
the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience
of sins” (verse 2).
The contents of this verse enable us to grasp more clearly the particular
aspects of Truth which our present chapter is dealing with. It is not so
much what the sacrifices effected God-wards, as man-wards: it is their
purifying effects upon the worshipper which is mainly in view. This is quite
evident from the expressions “once purged” and “no more conscience of
sins.” In like manner, the principal thing in the verses which follow is the
setting forth of what Christ’s atonement has secured for His people: see
verses 10, 14, 19.
“For then would they not have ceased to be offered?”
“This verse is added as a proof of the reason concerning the
impotency of the foresaid legal sacrifices. The reason was taken
from the reiteration of those sacrifices, whereby it was made
manifest that they could not make perfect. The argument may be
framed thus: That which makes perfect ceaseth when it hath made
perfect; but the sacrifices which were offered year by year, ceased
not; therefore they could not have made perfect” (William Gouge).
In reply it might be opposed: The repetition of the sacrifice was not
through any inherent defect in it, but because the offerer had acquired fresh
guilt; the offering expiated all sin up to the time it was offered, but new
sins being committed, another sacrifice became necessary. Let us face this
difficulty.
There was a defect in the sacrifices themselves, as will be seen more plainly
when we reach verse 4; they were altogether inadequate for meeting the
infinite demands of God, they were altogether insufficient to compensate
for the wrong done to God’s manifestative glory and could not repair the
loss of His honor. None save a sacrifice which possessed intrinsic merits,
having an infinite value, could make real and final satisfaction. That
Sacrifice has been offered, and so perfect is it that it stands in no need of
addition. The Atonement of Christ is of perpetual efficacy unto God, and is
ever available to faith. No matter how often application be made unto it, its
power never wanes and its preciousness never diminishes.
“Because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more
conscience of sins.” The final words fix for us the meaning, or rather.88
scope, of the “once purged” here. That sacrificial term may denote either
(or both) the removal of the guilt of sin or the pollution thereof: the one is
taken away by justification, the other by sanctification. The one is the effect
of the sacerdotal actings of Christ toward God, in making atonement for
sin; the other is by the Spirit’s application of the virtues of that Sacrifice to
our souls and consciences, whereby they are cleansed, renewed, and
changed. It is the former only which is before us here, namely, such a
purging of sin as takes away its condemning power from the conscience on
account of the guilt of it. But this the Levitical sacrifices failed to do, as
the next verse shows.
“No more conscience of sins.” This does not mean that the one who has
been “purged” or justified has no further consciousness of sins, for no one
is more painfully aware of them and of the indwelling “flesh” than is a
regenerated soul. That is his great burden and sorrow. No, the one who is
insensible to the evil and demerit of indwelling sin is a deluded soul:
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is
not in us” (

1 John 1:8).
Nor do the last words of

Hebrews 10:2 in anywise intimate that there is
no need for a Christian’s being deeply exercised over his sins and that God
does not require him to repent of and confess them, and make repeated
application to the Throne of Grace for “mercy” through the sacrifice of
Christ.
“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth
and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (

Proverbs 28:13):
this holds good in every dispensation.
“No more conscience of sins” signifies freedom from an apprehensive or
terrifying sense of what they deserved. It means complete deliverance from
the fear of God’s ever imputing them to us. It is the blessed recognition
that
“there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in
Christ Jesus” (

Romans 8:1).
Faith has laid hold of the precious testimony of God unto the efficacy of
the blood of Christ as having satisfied His every demand. If we really
believe that the wages of sin were paid to our sinless Substitute, how can.89
we be fearful that they will yet be paid to us! The word “conscience” is
compounded from two words meaning “with knowledge,” that is, a joint-knowledge
of good and evil. Conscience is the eye of the soul, discerning
right from wrong, yet is it dependent — as the eye is — on light. To and
through the conscience God speaks as Light (

1 John 1:5). When His
light first breaks in and shows me what I am, I get a bad conscience; when
it is purged by blood (through faith laying hold of its efficacy) I obtain a
cleansed one.
It is important to observe that our verse does not say the worshipper
should have “no conscience of sins,” but “no more conscience” of them.
This confirms the idea that the “continually” (“for ever”) of the previous
verse is to be connected not with the “sacrifices,” but with “perfect.” It
would be a great mistake to suppose that the Levitical sacrifices altogether
failed to remove sins from before God:

Leviticus 4:2, 31; 16:11, 22
show otherwise. Nor was it that those sacrifices failed to remove the load
of conscious guilt from those who offered them: in such case we should
never have read of them rejoicing before God. No, what the apostle is here
insisting upon is that those sacrifices only gave peace of conscience pro
tern: they were unable to lay a foundation for permanent rest and abiding
peace.
But what of the sins of the Christian after he has been “purged” or
justified?

John 13:10 makes answer: “he that is washed (Greek, “has
been bathed”) needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every wit.” By
the blood of Christ the Christian has been completely cleansed once for all,
so far as the judicial and eternal consequences of sin are concerned:
“By one offering He hath perfected forever them that are
sanctified” (

Hebrews 10:14),
thereby providing for them such stable peace and consolation as that they
need not a fresh sacrifice to be made for them day by day. The Gospel
makes known how those who sin every day may enjoy peace with God all
their days, and that is by a daily confession of sins to God (judging
themselves for them and truly repenting of them) and a daily appropriation
to themselves of the cleansing power of Christ’s precious blood for the
defilements of their daily walk.
“But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again of sins every
year” (verse 3)..90
The first word of this verse denotes the nature of the argument insisted
upon. In the second verse it had been pointed out that, had the worshippers
been legally perfected they would have had no more conscience of sins;
but, says the apostle, it was not so with them: God appointed nothing in
vain, and He had not only prescribed the repetition of those sacrifices, but
also that in each offering there should be a “remembrance” made of sin, as
of that which was to be expiated. It was by God’s own institution
(

Leviticus 16:21, 22) that there should be an “express remembrance,’’
or a remembrance expressed by acknowledgement: See

Genesis 41:9;
42:21. By an appeal to this patent fact did the apostle confirm what had
been declared in verses 1, 2.
But at this point a real difficulty confronts us: the first four verses of this
chapter are designed as a background to bring out more plainly the
glorious truth presented in what follows: in other words, a contrast is
pointed by showing what the Levitical sacrifices could not procure,
Christ’s has — “By one offering He hath perfected forever them that are
sanctified” (verse 14). Yet, notwithstanding, the fact remains that
Christians ought not only once a year, but every day, call to remembrance
and penitently confess the same, yea, our Lord Himself has taught us to
pray every day for the pardon of our sins:

Luke 11:3, 4. Wherein, then,
lies the difference between the Levitical sacrifices and Christ’s, seeing that
after both of them there is equally a remembrance of sin again to be made?
Though the problem seems intricate, yet is its solution simple.
Those under the Mosaic economy confessed their sins preparatory for and
in order to a new atonement of them; not so the Christian. Our
“remembrance” and confession respects only the application of the efficacy
and virtue of that perfect Atonement which has been made once for all.
With them, their remembrance looked to the curse of the law which was to
be answered, and the wrath of God which was to be appeased; with us,
that which is involved is the imparting of the benefits of Christ’s sacrifice
unto our conscience, whereby we have assured peace with God.
Confession of sin is as necessary under the new covenant as under the old,
but with an entirely different end in view: it is not as a part of the
compensation for the guilt of it, nor as a means of pacifying the conscience
so that we may still go on in sin; but to fill us with self-abasement, to
induce greater watchfulness against sin, to glorify God for the mercy
available, and to obtain a sense of His pardon in our own souls..91
“For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should
take away sins” (verse 4).
Here the apostle brings to a head that which has been set forth in the
preceding verses: seeing that the law contained only a “shadow” of real
redemption and could not perfect unto perpetuity the worshippers (verse
1), and seeing that “conscience of sins” remained (verse 2) as was
evidenced by the very design of the annual and typical propitiation (verse
3), it therefore inevitably followed that it was “impossible” such sacrifices
should “take away” or properly expiate sins. Such, we take it, is the force
of the opening “For” here.
There is a necessity of sin being “taken away,” both from before the
Governor of the world and from the conscience of His people. But this, the
blood of beasts could not effect. Why not? First and foremost because God
had not instituted animal sacrifices for that purpose. All the virtues and
efficacy of the ordinances of Divine worship depend upon the end unto
which God has instituted them. The blood of animals offered in sacrifice
was designed of God to represent the way in which sin was to be removed,
but not by itself to effect it. Nor did it comport with the Divine will and
wisdom that it should. God had declared His severity against sin, with the
necessity of its punishment to the glory of His righteousness and sovereign
rule over His creatures. A most solemn demonstration of this was made at
Sinai, in the giving of the fiery law:

Exodus 19:16-24: but what
consistency had there been between that and the satisfying of God’s awful
justice, and the removal of sin by such beggarly means as that of the blood
of bulls and goats? In such case there had been no manner of proportion
manifested between the infinite demerits of sin and the feeble instruments
of its expiation.
It was impossible for any mere creature to satisfy the demands of the all-mighty
Governor of the universe. The highest angel could never have
adequately made compensation for the tremendous wrong which sin had
done God, nor repair the loss of His manifestative glory; yea, had not
Christ’s sinless and holy humanity — in which He performed the
stupendous work of redemption — been united in His deity, that could not
have met the claims of God nor merited eternal salvation for His people.
Far less could the blood of beasts vindicate the honor of an infinite
Majesty, pacify His righteous wrath, meet the requirements of His holy
law, nor even cleanse the conscience and heart of man. “The blood of bulls.92
and goats were external, earthly, and carnal things; but to take away sin
was an internal, Divine, and spiritual matter” (William Gouge). Though the
Levitical sacrifices possessed, by God’s institution, an efficacy to remove
an outward and ceremonial defilement, they could not take away an inward
and moral pollution.
This 4th verse enunciates and illustrates a deeply important principle which
exposes the great error of Ritualists. As we have pointed out above, all
ordinances of Divine worship derive their value from God’s institution:
they can only effect that which He has appointed, they have in them no
inherent efficacy. While they may usefully represent spiritual truths, they
have no spiritual virtue of their own, and cannot of and by themselves
secure spiritual results. The offerings of Judaism had a Divinely appointed
meaning and value, but they could not take away sins. The same holds
good of the two ordinances of Christianity. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper
have been ordained of God. They have a symbolical significance. They
represent blessed realities. But they have no inherent power either to
remove sin, regenerate souls, or impart spiritual blessing. It is only as faith
looks beyond the symbol to Him who is symbolized that the soul receives
blessing.
Ere closing, perhaps we ought to anticipate a question which is likely to
have arisen in the minds of the readers. In view of what is affirmed in the
verses which have been before us, are we to conclude that none of the Old
Testament saints had a perfect and permanent standing before God? No,
indeed, for such an inference would manifestly clash with many plain Old
Testament passages and with the promises which the Church had under the
old covenant. The apostle is not here denying absolutely that no one had
spiritual access to God and real peace of conscience before Him, but is
merely affirming that such blessings could not be secured by means of the
Levitical sacrifices. But those who belonged to the “remnant according to
the election of grace” (

Romans 11:5) had faith given them to look
beyond the shadow to the Substance: see

Job 19:25;

Psalm 23:6;

Song of Solomon 2:16;

Isaiah 12:2;

Daniel 12:2, etc..93
CHAPTER 46
THE DIVINE INCARNATION
(

HEBREWS 10:5-7)
In the first four verses of our present chapter the apostle was moved to
press upon the Hebrews the insufficiency of the Levitical sacrifices to bring
about those spiritual and eternal effects that were needed in order for poor
sinners being fitted to stand before God as accepted worshippers. His
design in so doing was to pave the way for setting before them the dire
need for and the absolute sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice. First, he affirmed
that the old covenant provided a “shadow” of the future “good things,” but
not the substance itself (verse 1). Under the Mosaic economy men were
taught that ceremonial guilt, acquired through breaking the ceremonial law,
severed from ceremonial fellowship with God, and that the offering of the
prescribed sacrifices procured ceremonial forgiveness (

Leviticus 4:20)
and restored to external fellowship, and thereby temporal punishment was
averted. In this way there was adumbrated in a lower sphere what Christ’s
sacrifice was to accomplish in a higher.
That there was an insufficiency to the typical sacrifices was plainly
intimated by their frequent repetition (verse 2). Had the offerer been so
“purged” as to have “no more conscience of sins,” that is, had his moral
guilt been fully and finally expiated, then no further offering had been
needed. Even though God’s people continually commit fresh sins a new
sacrifice is not required. Why? Because the one perfect Sacrifice has made
complete satisfaction unto God, and is of perpetual efficacy before Him:
therefore is it ever available to penitence and faith, for application unto
fresh pardons. But no such sufficiency pertained to the typical sacrifices: a
temporary and outward cleansing they could effect, but nothing more.
“For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap,
thine iniquity is marked before Me, saith the Lord God”
(

Jeremiah 2:22)..94
There was no proportion between the infinite demerits of sin, the demands
of God’s justice, and the slaying of beasts. Whether the matter be viewed
in the light of God’s nature, of man’s soul, or of the exceeding sinfulness of
sin, it was obvious that the blood of bulls and goats could not possibly
make atonement (verse 4). Nor was this fact altogether unknown in Old
Testament times: did not one of Jehovah’s prophets declare,
“Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before
the high God? shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with
calves that are a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands
of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn
for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
(

Micah 6:6, 7)!
But later this light was lost to the carnal Jews, who, like the darkened
Gentiles, came to believe that a real and efficacious atonement was made
by the offering of animal blood unto God.
“It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the
heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things
themselves with better sacrifices” (

Hebrews 9:23).
Yet patent as this now is to any renewed mind, it was an exceedingly
difficult matter to convince the Jews of it. The Levitical sacrifices were of
Divine institution and not of human invention. Their fathers had offered
them for fifteen centuries; thus, to affirm at this late date that they were set
aside by God made a big demand upon their faith, their prejudices, their
affections. Nevertheless, the logic of the apostle was invincible, the force
of his arguments unanswerable. But it is blessed to observe that he did not
rest his case here; instead, he referred once more to an authority against
which no appeal could be allowed.
As we have passed from chapter to chapter, and followed the inspired
unfolding of the pre-eminency of Christianity over Judaism, we have been
deeply impressed by the fact that, at every crucial point, proof has been
furnished from the Old Testament Scriptures. When affirming the
excellency of the Son over angels (

Hebrews 1:4), appeal was made to

Psalm 97:7 (

Hebrews 1:6). When insisting on the exaltation of the
humbled Messiah over all the works of God’s hands (

Hebrews 2:6-9),

Psalm 8:4-6 was cited. When declaring the superiority of Christ’s
priesthood over Aaron’s,

Psalm 110:4 was given in substantiation of it.95
(

Hebrews 6:20). When pointing out the superseding of the old covenant
by the new,

Jeremiah 31:31 was shown to have taught that very thing
(

Hebrews 8:8). And now that the all-important point has been reached
for showing the imperative necessity of the abolition of the Levitical
offerings, another of their own Scriptures is referred to as announcing to
the Hebrews this identical fact. How all this demonstrates the inestimable
worth and the final authority of Holy Writ!
“Wherefore when He cometh into the world, He saith, Sacrifice and
offering Thou wouldst not, but a body hast Thou prepared Me: In
burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hast had no pleasure.
Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of
Me), to do Thy will, O God” (verses 5-7).
These verses contain a direct quotation from the

40th Psalm, which,
equally with the 2nd, 16th, 22nd, 10th, etc., was a Messianic one. In it the
Lord Jesus is heard speaking, speaking to His Father; and well does it
behooves us to give our utmost attention to every syllable that He here
utters.
The citation which is here made from the Old Testament Scriptures is
introduced with, “Wherefore when He cometh into the world, He saith.”
The precise force of the opening “Wherefore” is not easily determined: it
seems to signify, In accord with the facts pointed out in the first four
verses; or, in proof thereof, listen to the prophetic language of Christ
Himself. John Owen suggested: ‘It doth not give an account why the
words following were spoken, but why the things themselves were so
ordered and disposed.” The “Wherefore” is a logical particle intimating
that by virtue of the impotency of the Old Testament sacrifices, Christ
came not to offer those fruitless sacrifices, but to do the will of God in
their room. The Mosaic worship, with all its complicated ritual, was
superseded by something better coming in its stead. Christ took away the
first, that He might establish the second.
The passage which is here before us calls for a whole book to be written
thereon, rather than a single article: so blessed, so wondrous, so important
are its contents. In it we behold the amazing grace and wisdom of the
Father, the matchless love and obedience of the Son, and the federal
agreement which was between the Father and the Son with reference to the
work of redemption and the salvation of the Church. In it too we see
demonstrated again the perfect harmony which exists between the old and.96
the New Testament and the declaration of these things. In it we are taken
back to a point before the foundation of the world, and are permitted to
learn something of the august counsels of the Eternal Three. In it we are
shown the means which the Divine wisdom appointed for the carrying out
of those counsels. It is both our duty and privilege to prayerfully inquire
and diligently search into the mind of the Holy Spirit therein.
“Wherefore when He cometh into the world.” The One who is here before
us is the second person in the Holy Trinity. It is He who had been in the
Father’s delight from all eternity. It is none other than the One by whom
and for whom all things were created “that are in heaven, and that are in
earth, visible and invisible” (

Colossians 1:16); who is “over all, God
blessed forever” (

Romans 9:5). This ineffably blessed and glorious One
condescended not merely to behold, or even to send an ambassador, but to
personally come into this world. And, wonder of wonders, He came here
not “in the form of God,” bearing all the manifested insignia of Deity, nor
even in the appearance of an angel, as occasionally He did in Old
Testament times; but instead, He came in “the form of a servant,” and was
actually “made under the law.” May our hearts be truly bowed in
wonderment and worship at this amazing and unparalleled marvel.
“When the fullness of the time was come” (

Galatians 4:4),
when the sinfulness of man and his utter helplessness to extricate himself
from his dreadful misery had been completely demonstrated; when the
insufficiency of Judaism and the powerlessness of the Levitical sacrifices
had been made manifest; then it pleased the Son to become incarnate,
execute the eternal purpose of the Godhead, fulfill the terms of the
everlasting covenant, make good the prophecies and promises of the Old
Testament Scriptures, and perform that stupendous work which would
bring an incalculable revenue of praise to the Triune God, glorify Him
above all His other works, put away the sins of His people, and provide for
them a perfect and everlasting righteousness which would entitle and fit
them to dwell forever in the Father’s House. So transcendent are these
things that only those whom the Spirit of Truth deigns to illuminate and
instruct are capable, in any measure, of apprehending and entering into
their ineffable meaning and preciousness. May it please Him, in His
sovereign grace, to shine now upon the hearts and understandings of both
writer and reader..97
“Wherefore when He cometh into the world, He saith, Sacrifice and
offering Thou wouldest not, but a body hast Thou prepared Me.” Here we
behold the perfect intelligence of the Son concerning the mind and will of
the Father. In the eternal purpose of the Triune God, Christ, as Mediator
had been “set up from everlasting” (

Proverbs 8:23). The Lord had
“possessed Him,” He was “by Him, as One brought up with Him”
(

Proverbs 8:22, 30). As such, nothing was concealed from Him; all the
counsels of Deity were made known to Him. Therefore did He declare,
after His incarnation,
“The Father loveth the Son, and showeth Him all things”
(

John 5:20).
An illustration of this fact is before us in our present passage.
“He saith, Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldst not, but a body hast Thou
prepared Me.” But here a difficulty presents itself: the Levitical sacrifices
had been instituted by God Himself, how then could it be said that He
willed them not? The solution is simple: the language here (as is not
infrequently the case in Scripture) is to be taken relatively, and not
absolutely. There was one real sense in which the Old Testament sacrifices
were acceptable to God, and another in which they were not so. The
reference here is not to the actual appointment of the sacrifices, for

Hebrews 10:8 tells us they were “offered according to the law” which
God had given to Israel. Nor is the reference to the obedience of the
people concerning them during the Mosaic economy, for God both
required and approved them at their hands. Nor is it that the apostle is
merely speaking from the present viewpoint (as some have superficially
supposed), i.e., that the sacrifices were no longer pleasing to Him. No, our
text strikes much deeper: God willed not those sacrifices for the ends
which He ordained the Sacrifice of Christ to effect.
“But a body hast Thou prepared Me.” The first word of this clause serves
to define the preceding one: the body of Christ is placed over against,
substituted in the stead of, replaces, the Levitical offerings. Let the reader
recall the whole context: there the Holy Spirit has shown the utter
inadequacy of the blood of bulls and goats, the impossibility of its meeting
the highest claims of God and the deepest need of sinners. God had not
appointed animal sacrifices for those ends: He never took pleasure in them
with reference thereto; according to the will of God they were altogether
insufficient for any such purpose. From all eternity it was Christ, the.98
“Lamb,” who had been “foreordained” to make satisfaction unto God for
His people (

1 Peter 1:20). The Levitical sacrifices were never designed
by God as anything more than a temporary means to shadow forth the
great Sacrifice. This, the Mediator Himself was fully cognizant of from
before the foundation of the world.
“But a body hast Thou prepared Me.” The term “a body” is a synedochial
expression (a part put for the whole, as when we say a farmer has so many
“head” of cattle, or a manufacturer employs so many “hands”) of the whole
human nature of Christ, consisting of spirit and soul and body. As to some
of the reasons why the Holy Spirit here threw the emphasis on Christ’s
“body” rather than on His “soul” (as in

Isaiah 53:10) we would humbly
suggest the following.
First, to emphasize the fact that the offering of Christ was to be by death,
and this the body alone was subject to.
Second, because the new covenant was to be confirmed by the offering of
Christ, and this was to be by blood, which is contained in the body alone.
Third, to make more evident the conformity of the Head to His members
who were “partakers of flesh and blood.”
Fourth, to remind us that Christ’s whole human nature (that “holy thing,”

Luke 1:35) was not a distinct person.
“But a body hast Thou prepared Me.” The verb has a double force: the
humanity of Christ was both foreordained and created by the Father. The
first reference in the “prepared” here is the same as in

Isaiah 30:33.
“Tophet is ordained of old, for the king it is prepared”; “the things which
God hath prepared for them that love Him” (

1 Corinthians 2:9);
“the vessels of mercy, which He hath afore prepared unto glory”
(

Romans 9:23).
In His eternal counsels, God has resolved that the Son should become
incarnate; in the everlasting covenant the Father had proposed and the Son
had agreed that, at the appointed time, Christ should be made in the
likeness of men. The second reference in the word “prepared” is to the
actual creating of Christ’s humanity, that it might be fitted for the work
unto which it was designed..99
“But a body hast Thou prepared Me.” Commentators have needlessly
perplexed themselves and their readers by discovering a discrepancy
between these words and

Psalm 40:6 which reads, “Mine ears hast
Thou opened” or “digged” (margin). Really, there is no discord whatever
between the two expressions: one is figurative, the other literal; both
having the same sense. They refer to an act of the Father towards the Son,
the purpose of the action being designed to make Him meet to do the will
of God in a way of obedience. The metaphor used by the Psalmist
possessed a double significance. First, the “ear” is that member of the body
whereby we hear the commands we are to obey, hence nothing is more
frequent in Scripture than to express obedience by hearing and hearkening.
Here too the part is put for the whole. In His Divine nature alone, it was
impossible for the Son, who was co-equal with the Father, to come under
the law; therefore did He prepare for Him another nature, in which He
could render submission to Him.
It is impossible that anyone should have ears of any use but by having a
body, and it is through the ears that instruction unto obedience is received.
It is to this the incarnate Son made reference when, in the language of
prophecy, He declared,
“He wakeneth morning by morning, He wakeneth Mine ear to hear
as the learned. The Lord God hath opened Mine ear, and I was not
rebellious, neither turned away back” (

Isaiah 50:4, 5).
Thus the figure used in

Psalm 40:6 intimated that the Father did so
order things toward the Messiah that He should have a nature wherein He
might be free and able to be in subjection to the will of God; intimating,
moreover, the quality of it, namely, in having ears to hear, which belong
only to a “body.”
The second significance of the figure used in

Psalm 40:6 may be
discovered by a comparison with

Exodus 21:6, where we learn of the
provision made by the law to meet the case of a Hebrew servant, who
chose to remain in voluntary servitude rather than accept his freedom, as
he might do, at the seventh year of release. “Mine ears hast Thou digged”
announced the Savior’s readiness to act as God’s “Servant:”

Isaiah
42:1, 53:11. Only it is to be duly noted that in

Exodus 21:6 it is “ear,”
whereas in

Psalm 40:6 it is “ears” — in all things Christ has the “pre-eminence!”
There was never any devotion either to Master or Spouse
which could be compared with His: there was (so to speak) an over-plus of.100
willingness in Him. “A body hast Thou prepared Me” presents the same
idea, only in another form: His human nature was assumed for the very
purpose of being the vehicle of service. Christ came here to be the
substance of all the Old Testament shadows,

Exodus 21:1-6 not
excepted. In becoming Man, the Son took upon Him “the form of a
servant” (

Philippians 2:7).
“A body hast Thou prepared Me.”
“The origin of the salvation of the Church is in a peculiar manner
ascribed unto the Father — His will, His grace, His wisdom, His
good pleasure, His love, His sending of the Son, are everywhere
proposed as the eternal springs of all acts of power, grace and
goodness, tending unto the salvation of the Church. And therefore
doth the Lord Christ on all occasions declare that He came to do
the Father’s will, seek His glory, make known His name, that the
praise of His grace might be exalted” (John Owen).
It was by the Holy Spirit that the human nature of the Redeemer was
created. His body was “prepared” not by the ordinary laws of procreation,
but by the supernatural power of the third person of the Trinity working
upon and within Mary. There is thus a clear allusion here to the Virgin-birth
of the Lord Jesus.
“He prepared Him such a body, such a human nature, as might be
of the same nature with ours, for whom He was to accomplish His
work therein. For it was necessary that it should be cognate and
allied unto ours, that He might be meet to act on our behalf, and to
suffer in our stead. He did not form Him a body out of the dust of
the earth, as He did that of Adam, whereby He could not have been
of the same race of mankind with us; nor merely out of nothing, as
He created the angels whom He was not to save (

Hebrews 2:14-
16). He took our flesh and blood proceeding from the loins of
Abraham. He so prepared it, as that it should be no way subject
unto that depravation and pollution, that came on our whole nature
by sin. This could not have been done, had His body been prepared
by carnal generation — the way and means of conveying the taint
of original sin, which ,befell our nature, unto all individual persons
— for this would have rendered Him every way unmeet for His
whole work of mediation (

Hebrews 7:26)…. This body or
human nature, thus prepared for Christ, was exposed unto all sorts.101
of temptations from outward causes. But yet was it so sanctified by
the perfection of grace, and fortified by the fullness of the Spirit
dwelling therein, that it was not possible it should be touched with
the least taint or guilt of sin” (John Owen).
Summing up this important point: though the actual operation in the
production of our Savior’s humanity was the immediate work of the Holy
Spirit (

Luke 1:35), nevertheless, the preparation thereof was also the
work of the Father in a real and peculiar manner, namely, in the infinitely
wise and authoritative contrivance of it, and so ordering of it by His
counsel and will. The Father originated it in the decrective disposition of all
things, the Holy Spirit actually wrought it, and the Son Himself assumed it.
Not that there was any distinction of time in these separate actings of the
Holy Three in this matter, but only a disposition of order in Their
operation. In the same instant of time the Father authoritatively willed that
holy humanity into existence, the Holy Spirit efficiently created it, and the
Son personally took it upon Him as His own.
“In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hast had no pleasure”
(verse 6).
These words amplify and define the central portion of the preceding verse.
There we hear the Son, just prior to His incarnation saying to the Father,
“Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not.” Against this a carping objector
might reply, True, God never willed those sacrifices and offerings which
our idolatrous fathers presented to Baal, nor those which the heathen gave
to their gods; but that is a very different thing from saying that no animal
sacrifice satisfied Jehovah. Such an objection is here set aside by the plain
declaration that even the Levitical offerings contented God not.
“In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hast had no pleasure.” In
these words Christ comprehended all the sacrifice under the Mosaic
economy which had respect to the expiation of sin and also the worship of
God. In verse 5 the term “sacrifice” includes all those offerings which the
Israelites brought to the Lord for the purpose of obtaining His pardon;
under the word “offering” was embraced all the gifts which they brought
with the object of expressing thanksgiving for blessings received at His
hands. Here in verse 6 the latter are, by a synedoche, referred to by “burnt
offerings,’’ and the former by sacrifices “for sin.” Concerning both of them
Christ said to the Father “Thou wouldest not” (verse 5) and “Thou hast
had no pleasure.”.102
The difference between “Thou wouldest not” and “Thou hast had no
pleasure” is, the former declares that God had never designed the Levitical
offerings should make a perfect satisfaction unto Himself; the latter, that
He delighted not in them. Such language is to be understood relatively and
not absolutely. God had required sacrifices at the hands of Israel: He had
“imposed” them “until the time of reformation” (

Hebrews 9:10).
Absolutely they could neither be said to be wholly nugatory in themselves
nor displeasing to God, but as they could not produce any real atonement
for sin, they did not correspond in the proper sense of the term either to the
Divine pleasure nor to the law of God, but only foreshadowed what was to
come. God had ordained a satisfaction possessing such moral obedience
and personal excellency that there would need no more repetition thereof.
These words “in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hast had no
pleasure” serve as a background to bring out in more vivid relief the
blessedness of
“This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”
(

Matthew 3:17)!
Once more we would point out how that the teaching of these verses
supply a timely warning against our making a wrong use of symbolic
ordinances.
“Whatever may be the use or efficacy of any ordinances of worship,
yet if they are employed or trusted unto for such ends as God hath
not designed them unto, He accepts not of our persons in them, nor
approves of the things themselves. Thus He declares Himself
concerning the most solemn institutions of the Old Testament. And
those under the New have been no less abused in this way, than
those of old” (John Owen).
“Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of
Me), to do Thy will, O God” (verse 7).
Those words express the readiness and willingness of the Son to do all that
had been ordained unto the making of a full satisfaction to God and the
salvation of His people. They contain the second branch of the antithesis
pointed in the quotation which is here made from the Messianic Psalm.
They record the response of the Son’s mind and will to the design and
purpose of the Father. They conduct us back to the eternal counsels of the
Godhead, in which the Father had expressed His determination to have an.103
adequate compensation for the insult to His honor which sin should give,
His disapproval of animal sacrifices as the names thereof, His decision that
the Son should become incarnate and in human form magnify the law and
make it honorable; with the Son’s free and perfect acquiescence therein.
“Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God.” That “will” was not only to
“take away sins” (verse 4),
which the Levitical offerings had not effected, but was also to make His
people “perfect” (verse 1 and cf.

Hebrews 5:14). It was the gracious
design of God not only to remove all the effects of sin, original and
personal, which provoked His judicial hatred of us (

Ephesians 2:3), but
also to provide for and give to them such a righteousness as would
occasion Him more cause to love us than ever, and loving to delight in us.
His “will” meant not only peace and pardon to us, but grace and favor: as
the angels announced to the Bethlehem shepherds, the coming of Christ
meant not only “glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace,” but also
“good will toward men.” He had predestinated not only to forgive us, but
to have us adopted and graciously “accepted,” and that “to the praise of
the glory of His grace” (

Ephesians 1:5, 6).
The “will” of God which the Son came here to execute was that
“eternal purpose which He had purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord”
(

Ephesians 3:11).
Had He so pleased, God could have “taken away sin” by taking away
sinners, and so made a short work of it, by removing them both at one
stroke — as Ezekiel speaks (

Ezekiel 12:3, 4). But instead, He purposed
to take away sins in such a way that favored sinners should stand justified
before Him. Again, had He so pleased, God could have taken off the sins
of His people by a sole and sovereign act of pardon. To hate sin is an act
of His nature, but to express His hatred by punishing sin is an act of His
will, and therefore might be wholly suspended. Were it an act of the Divine
nature to punish sin, then whosoever sinned would die for it immediately;
but being an act of His will, He oftentimes suspends the punishment.
Seeing He is prepared to forebear for a while, He could have foreborne
forever. But His wisdom — the “counsel of His own will” (

Ephesians
1:11) deemed it best to require an adequate satisfaction.
What has just been said receives plain confirmation in the words used by
the suffering Savior in Gethsemane: “And He said, Abba, Father all things.104
are possible unto Thee: take away this cup from Me; nevertheless, not
what I will, but what Thou wilt.” Here the incarnate Son lets us know that
the reason why it was not possible for the awful cup of wrath to pass from
Him was because God had ordained that He should drink it, and not
because there was no other alternative. We indeed can perceive none other,
and relatively speaking there was none other after the everlasting covenant
had been sealed; yet absolutely considered, speaking from the viewpoint
both of God’s infinite wisdom and sovereign pleasure, He could, had He so
pleased, have saved us in another way. Never allow the thought that sin has
produced a situation which in anywise limits or restrains the Almighty. It
was by His will that sin entered!
Had God so pleased, He could have accepted the blood of beasts as a full
and final atonement for our sins. The only reason why He did not was
because He had decreed that Christ should make atonement. He
determined in Himself that if He had satisfaction it should be a full and
perfect one. Everything must be resolved into and traced up to the
sovereign pleasure of Him who “worketh all things after the counsel of His
own will” (

Ephesians 1:11). It is in the light of what has just been said
that we must interpret

Hebrews 10:4: it was “not possible” because of
the eternal purpose of the Triune Jehovah. God would have satisfaction to
the full, or none at all. This the Son knew, and to it He fully consented.
The Son was in perfect accord with the will of the Father from before the
foundation of the world. As

Zechariah 6:13 tells us “and the covenant
of peace shall be between Them Both”: the reference being to the
“everlasting covenant” (

Hebrews 13:20). The “counsel of peace”
signifies the compact or agreement which was between the Father and the
Son. It was, then, by His own voluntary consent that the Son was made
“Surety of a better covenant” (

Hebrews 7:22), a title which necessarily
imports a definite undertaking on His part, namely, His agreeing to yield
that obedience to the law which His people owed, to make reparation to
Divine justice on behalf of their sins, and thus discharge the whole of their
debt. By a free act of His own will, the Son consented to execute that
stupendous work which the Father had proposed unto Him.
This consent of the Son to His Father’s proposal to Him before the
foundation of the world, was, renewed by Him at the moment of His
incarnation: “Wherefore when He cometh into the world, He saith… a body
hast Thou prepared Me… Then said I, Lo, I come.., to do Thy will O.105
God.” He freely acquiesced in assuming to Himself a human nature, to take
on Himself the “form of a servant,” to be “made under the law,” to become
“obedient unto death.” He told the Father so in the above words, which are
recorded for His glory and for our instruction, wonderment and joy. The
further consideration of them, as well as the meaning of “in the volume of
the book it is written of Me” we must defer (D.V.) till our next article..106
CHAPTER 47
CHRIST’S DEDICATION
(

HEBREWS 10:7-10)
“As in all our obedience there are two principal ingredients to the
true and right constitution of it, namely, the matter of the obedience
itself, and the principle and fountain of it in us: whereof the one,
the apostle calls the ‘deed,’ the other ‘the will’ (

2 Corinthians
8:11) — which latter God accepts in us, oftentimes without, always
more than, the deed or matter of obedience itself even so in Christ’s
obedience, which is the pattern and measure of ours, there are
those two eminent parts which complete it.
First, the obedience itself, and the worth and value of it in that it is
His — so great a person’s.
Second, the willingness, the readiness to undertake and the
heartiness to perform it. The dignity of His person gave the value
and merit to the obedience performed by Him. But the will, the zeal
in His performance gives the acceptance, and hath besides a
necessary influence into the worth of it, and the virtue and efficacy
of it to sanctify us. All of which you have in

Hebrews 10:7-10.
“The ‘offering of the ,body of Jesus Christ:’ there is the matter, His
becoming ‘obedient unto death’ (

Philippians 2:8). Then there is
the readiness by which He did so, ‘Lo, I come to do thy will, O
God,’ This calls for not only a distinct but a more eminent
consideration, both necessarily concurring to our sanctification and
salvation. Now the story of His willingness to redeem and save is of
four parts.
1. His actual consent and undertaking to the work, made and given to
the Father from everlasting.
2. The continuance of His will to stand to it from everlasting unto the
time of His incarnation..107
3. The renewal of this consent when He came into the world.
4. The steadfast continuance of that will all along in the performance,
from the cradle to the cross.
“It was necessary that Christ’s consent should be then given, even
from everlasting, and that as God made a promise to Him for us, so
also that He should give consent unto God. Yea; and indeed it was
one reason why it was necessary that our Mediator should be God,
and existent from eternity, not only to the end that He might be
privy to the first design and contrivement of our salvation, and
know the bottom of God’s mind and heart in it, and receive all the
promises of God from God for us, but also in this respect, that His
own very consent should go to it from the first, even as soon as His
Father should design it. And it was most meet it should be so; for
the performance and all the working part of it was to be His, to be
laid upon His shoulders to execute, and it was a hard task, and
therefore reasonable He should both know it from the first, seeing
He was extant together with His Father. It was fit that both His
heart and head should be in it from the first. And you have all in
one Scripture,

Isaiah 9:6, where, when Christ is promised,
‘Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given,’ observe under
what titles He is set for unto us:
“‘Wonderful Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father,’
where everlastingness, which is affixed to one, is yet common to
those other two. The ‘everlasting Counselor,’ as well as
‘everlasting Father,’ for He was both Counselor and Father, in that
He was the Mighty God, and all alike from everlasting. For, being
God, and with His Father as a Son from everlasting, He must needs
be a Counselor with Him, and so privy unto all God meant to do,
especially in that very business, for the performance of which He is
there saint to be given as a Son, and born as a Child, and the
effecting of which is also said to be laid wholly on His shoulder.
Certainly in this case, if God could hide nothing from Abraham He
was to do, much less God from Christ, who was God with Him
from everlasting. And as He was for this cause to be privy to it for
the cognizance of the matter, so to have given His actual consent
likewise thereunto; for He was to be the Father and Founder of all
that was to be done in it. And in that very respect and in relation to.108
that act of will, then passed, whereby He became a ‘Father’ of that
business for us, it is He is styled the ‘everlasting Father.’ For it is in
respect of that everlastingness He is God, and so ‘Father’ from
everlasting, as well as God from everlasting; a ‘Counselor’ for us
with God, a ‘Father’ of us in our salvation. God’s ‘Counselor,’
because His wisdom was jointly in that plot and the contrivement of
it: and ‘Father’ both of us and this design, because of His will in it,
and undertaking to effect it. In that His heart and will were in it as
well as the Father’s He was therefore the ‘Father’ of it as well as
God, and brought it to perfection” (Adopted, with slight variations,
from T. Goodwin, 1600-1680).
Concerning the continuance of the Son’s willingness to the Father’s
purpose, from everlasting to the time when His humanity was conceived in
the Virgin’s womb, we have more than a hint in that remarkable passage
found in Proverbs 8. There (by the Spirit of prophecy) we are permitted to
hear Him say of the Father, “Then I was by Him, as One brought up with
him.” But not only so, He added,
“And I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him;
rejoicing in the habitable part (that portion where His tabernacle
was to be placed) of His earth; and My delights were with the sons
of men” (verses 30, 31).
Thus we see how His heart was more set upon the redeeming of His people
than all other works. The theophanic manifestations which He made of
Himself from time to time during the O.T. period, illustrated the same fact:
see

Genesis 12:7,

Exodus 3:2-9,

Daniel 3:25 etc.
But it is the renewing of His consent when Christ came into the world
which we would particularly contemplate. This may well be called the will
of consecration of Himself by a vow to this great work, then solemnly
made and given. This was the dedication of His holy “Temple” (

John
2:19), foreshadowed of old by Solomon in the dedication of the temple
which he erected unto God. This took place at the moment that His
humanity was conceived by the Virgin: “When He cometh into the world,
He saith… a body (a vehicle of service) hast Thou prepared Me,… Lo, I
come, to do Thy will, O God.” How truly marvellous and blessed that it
pleased the Holy Spirit (the Divine Secretary of Heaven, and Recorder of
the everlasting covenant) to write down for our learning the very words
which the Son uttered to His Father at the moment when He condescended.109
to take our nature and become incarnate! Equally wonderful is it that we
are permitted to hear the very words which the Father addressed to the
Son on His return to Heaven:
“The Lord said to My Lord, Sit Thou at My right hand, till I make
Thine enemies Thy footstool” (

Psalm 110:1).
“When He cometh into the world, He saith.” The Speaker is none other
than the second person in the Divine Trinity. He was the One who took
that “body” into everlasting union with Himself — an infinitely greater
condescension than for the noblest king to marry the meanest servant-girl.
The ineffably glorious Son of God was personally humbled far more and
gave much more away than did that humanity when it was humiliated by
being nailed to the cross. Therefore was His willingness to this tremendous
stoop eminently requisite and recorded for our comfort and praise. Thus, at
the very moment that the human nature was amaking, and not yet capable
of giving its own consent, He who was the Brightness of the Father’s glory
and the express Image of His person, announced His readiness.
Inexpressibly blessed is this; may the contemplation thereof bow us in
worship before Him. “Worthy is the Lamb!”
“Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of
Me), to do Thy will, O God” (verse 7).
There is a double reference (as is so often the case with the words of God)
in the parenthetical clause. The “book” He mentioned primarily regarded
the archives of God’s eternal counsels, the scroll of His decrees
Secondarily, it concerned the Holy Scriptures, which are a partial transcript
of that record of the Divine will which is preserved on High (

Psalm
119:89). In that “book,” drawn up by the Holy Spirit, it is written of
Christ, the God-man Mediator for He is the Sum and Substance of all the
Divine counsels (

Ephesians 3:11), as well as the Depository of all the
Divine promises (

2 Corinthians 1:20). The Son was perfectly cognisant
of all that was written in that book, for He had been “Counselor” with the
Father. The term “volume” is the right translation of the Hebrew word
“magillah” in

Psalm 40:7, but the Greek word “kephalis” ought most
certainly to be rendered “head” — “kephale” occurs seventy-six times in
the N.T., and is always rendered “head” elsewhere.
A most wondrous and blessed revelation is here made known to us: “in the
head of the book” of God’s decrees, at the beginning thereof, it is “written.110
of” Christ! In that book is recorded the names of all God’s favored
children:

Luke 10:20,

Hebrews 12:23; but at the head of them is
Christ’s, for “in all things” He must have the “pre-eminence”
(

Colossians 1:18). Thus, the first name on that heavenly scroll of the
Divine decrees is that of the Mediator Himself! So too in the Holy
Scriptures, which give us a copy, in part, the first name in the O.T. is that
of Christ as Creator (

Genesis 1:1 cf.

John 1:1-3), and the first name
in the N.T. is “Jesus Christ” (

Matthew 1:1)! Yes, “in the head of the
Book” it is written of Him. The Man Christ Jesus was the first one chosen
of God; chosen to be taken into everlasting union with the second person
of the Trinity. Therefore does the Father say to us,
“Behold My Servant, whom I uphold, Mine Elect in whom My soul
delighteth” (

Isaiah 42:1).
The Church was chosen in Christ (

Ephesians 1:4) and then given to
Christ (

Hebrews 2:13). The Man Christ Jesus, taken into union with
God the Son, was appointed to be the Head of the whole election of grace,
and they to be members of His mystical Body (

Ephesians 1:22, 23;
5:30). “Christ be My first elect He said; Then chose our souls in Christ our
Head.”
Precious too is it to discover that the human nature of Christ also
consented to the terms of the everlasting covenant, for it was something
distinct from the Divine nature of God the Son, and so had a distinct will,
and was directly concerned in the Great Transaction, for it was to be made
the subject of all the sufferings and was to be the sacrifice offered up. The
fundamental consent was the Divine Person’s, and this He gave when
assuming our nature; but there was also an accessory consent of the human
nature, now married into one person with the Divine. How soon then,
when was it that the human nature gave its consent? No doubt many will
deem this a question which it is impossible for us to answer, and that any
effort so to do would be a prying into “secret things.” Not so: it belongs to
those things which are revealed.
Ere turning to the consideration of this marvelous detail, we must not
overlook the willingness of the virgin Mary to be — in such an
unprecedented manner, and in a way which (humanly speaking) seriously
endangered her own moral reputation — the mother of our Lord’s sacred
humanity. This is most blessedly shown us in the inspired record of Luke’s
Gospel. There we learn that this amazing honor, yet sore trial, was.111
proposed to her (not forced upon her, for God never violates human
accountability!) by the angel:
“Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a Son,
and shalt call His name Jesus” (

1:31).
Mark now her meek response: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord” — I
give myself up to Him — “be it unto me according to thy word”
(

1:38). Not until after she had herself acquiesced, did she “conceive” —
note the word “before” in

Luke 2:21 and compare with

Luke 1:31-
38. Thus does God make His people “willing” in the day of His power
(

Psalm 110:3).
Returning now to the willingness of our Lord’s humanity in consenting to
God’s eternal purpose:
“This may safely be affirmed, that as soon as, or when first He
began to put forth any acts of reason, that then His will was guided
to direct its aim and intentions to God as His Father, from Himself
as the Mediator. And look, as in infant’s hearts, if they had been
born in innocency, there would have been sown the notion of God,
whom they should first have known, whatever else they knew; and
the moral law being written in their hearts, they should have
directed their actions to God and His glory, through a natural
instinct and tendency of spirit. Thus it was in Christ when an infant,
and such holy principles guided Him to that, which was that will of
God for Him, and to be performed by Him; and which was to sway
and direct all His actions and thoughts, that were to be the matter
of our justification, which were to be exerted more and more
according to the capacity of reason as it should grow” (T.
Goodwin).
There was a meetness, yea a needs-be for this. For what Christ did as a
Child had a meritoriousness in it, as much as what He did when a full-grown
Man. So too what He suffered, even in His very circumcision, is
made influential unto the sanctification of His people through the virtue of
it, equally with what He suffered on the cross. His coat was “without
seam” (

John 19:23): the righteousness He wrought out for His Church
was a unit — beginning at Bethlehem’s manger, consummated at Calvary.
It is the 22nd Psalm which furnishes a definite answer to our question, and.112
reveals how early the Savior was dedicated to God. Hear His gracious and
unique words:
“Thou art He that took Me out of the womb: Thou didst make Me
hope upon My mother’s breasts. I was cast upon Thee from the
womb: Thou art My God from My mother’s belly” (verses 9, 10).
O my brethren and sisters, prostrate your souls in adoration before this
Holy One, who from the very first instant after He entered this world was
unreservedly dedicated and consecrated to God, owning Him, relying
wholly upon Him.
In this we may behold the fulfillment of a lovely and striking type, namely,
that of the Nazarite, to which

Matthew 2:23 directly, though not
exclusively, refers. The “Nazarite” was one who, voluntarily, separated and
devoted himself entirely unto the Lord (

Numbers 6:12). Samson is the
outstanding illustration of this in the O.T.: the parallels between him and
Christ are remarkable.
1. An angel announced to his mother her conception (

Judges 13:2-
3).
2. The prophecy of the angel is recorded.
3. He was sent to a woman utterly barren, to show her conception was
extraordinary.
4. Her son was to be a Nazarite, that is, “holy to the Lord”
(

Numbers 6:8).
5. He was to be “a Nazarite unto God from the womb” (

Judges
13:5).
6. It was declared that her son should be a deliverer of Israel (verse 5).
7. Israel was then subject to the Gentiles (the Philistines), as the Jews
were to the Romans when Christ was born.
8. It was in his death that he wrought his mightiest victory!
Equally striking, equally blessed, are the first words which the N.T. records
as being uttered by our Savior: “know ye not that in the (affairs) of My
Father it behooves to be Me” (Bagster Interlinear). The Greek is very
emphatic, the last word before “Me” signifying to be completely and.113
continuously given up to it, and is rendered “wholly” in

1 Timothy 4:15.
The reader is familiar with the context of

Luke 2:49. The Savior’s
mother appears to have chided Him, and, in substance, He said: True you
are My earthly parent, and I have been subject to you hitherto in your
particular province, but do you not know that I have another Father, far
higher than you, who hath commanded Me, by virtue of My office of
Mediator, other manner of business? I am the Christ, devoted to the
Father’s interests; His will and law is written in My heart; I am not Mine
own!
Let us revert for a moment to the 40th Psalm. There we hear the Savior
saying, “Mine ears hast Thou digged” (

verse 6): that figurative
language applied only to His humanity. The metaphor employed is taken
from

Exodus 21:1-6. The Hebrew servant was entitled to, “go out free”
at the end of the sixth year, but an exception was allowed for:
“If the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my
children; I will not go out free: then… his master shall bore his ear
through with an aul, and he shall serve him for ever” (verses 5, 6).
The antitype of this is seen in Christ. As creatures, we are necessarily born
“under the law,” subjects of the government of God. With the Man Christ
Jesus, it was otherwise. His humanity, having been taken into union with
the second person in the Trinity, was altogether exempt from any servile
subjection, just as a woman ceases to be a subject when married to a king.
It was an act of unparalleled condescension, by His own voluntary will,
that the God-man entered the place of service; and love, love to His God,
to His Church, His people, was the moving-cause.
Observe another thing in the prophetic language of the Mediator in Psalm
40:
“Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of
Me; I delight to do Thy will, O My God: yea, Thy law is within My
heart” (

verses 7, 8).
When the appointed hour arrived the Son volunteered to fulfill every jot
and tittle which had been recorded of Him in the Book of God’s decrees —
transcribed (in part) on the pages of Holy Writ. He carried all of it written
in His heart. This was even more than to have His ear “bored” — to give
free consent to the Father’s purpose; it was, as it would have been if infants
had been born in innocency, to have God’s law (the expression of His.114
will!) as the molding principle and controlling factor of His human nature,
dwelling in the very center of His affections. Thus could He say, “My meat
(My very sustenance and substance) is to do the will of Him that sent Me,
and to finish His work” (

John 4:34) i.e. actualize what the Father had
ordained.
Our theme is exhaustless; eternity will be too short to contemplate it. Bear
with the writer, dear reader, as he endeavors to follow it a step further.
“But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened
till it be accomplished!” (

Luke 12:50).
What words were those! The Lord Jesus knew the unspeakable bitterness
of that baptism, a baptism such as no mere creature could have endured;
nevertheless, He panted after it. His very heart was contracted by the
delay. Never woman desired more to be delivered than did He to finish His
travail, to pass over that “brook” (

Psalm 110:7), that sea of wrath into
which He should be immersed. Note His remarkable word to Judas: “that
thou doest do quickly” (

John 13:27).
Again, mark how when He first announced to His disciples His
forthcoming sufferings and death (

Matthew 16:21), and Peter “took
Him (aside as a friend out of natural affection) and began to rebuke Him,
saying, Pity thyself, Lord” — Thou who art going about doing good,
ministering to the needy, allow not Thyself to suffer such indignities, such
an ignominious end. And how did Christ receive this word? Did He
appreciate it? No, never did He take any word so ill; never did His holy
zeal flash forth more vividly than then. He turned and said unto Peter, “Get
thee behind Me, Satan; thou art an offense unto Me.” Never such word
was spoken unto saint, before or since. The word “offense” means an
occasion of stumbling; Peter’s counsel had that tendency in it — to turn
Him aside from that great work upon which His heart was so fully set.
There is a remarkable word in the “Pascal Discourse” which it is impossible
to explain or account for except on the ground of that holy impatience or
zeal which consumed the Savior to make an end of the work the Father had
assigned Him. After Judas had gone out to betray Him, the Savior
redeemed the time by speaking at length to the Eleven, and in the midst of
so doing He said,.115
“But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the
Father gave Me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go
hence” (

John 14:31).
He was in haste to be gone, lest the band headed by the betrayer should
miss Him in the garden. Then He looked (as it were) at the hour-glass of
His life, and seeing that the sands of time had not yet completely run out,
He resumed and completed His address.
The closer he drew to the final conflict, the more blessedly did appear the
perfectness of His consecration to God. When the moment of arrest
arrived, and Peter drew his sword and attempted resistance, the Savior
exclaimed,
“The cup which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?”
(

John 18:11).
When conducted to the hall of judgment, He was not dragged, as an
unwilling victim, but was “led as a sheep to the slaughter” (

Acts 8:32).
Hear His own words — spoken centuries before by the Spirit of prophecy

“The Lord God hath opened Mine ear, and I was not rebellious,
neither turned away back. I gave My back to the smiters, and My
cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not My face from
shame and spitting” (

Isaiah 50:5, 6).
That (excepting the cross itself) was the hardest part of what had been
assigned Him, yet He rebelled not. O blessed Savior grant us more of Thy
spirit.
He never showed the slightest sign of reluctancy till Gethsemane was
reached, when He took (as it were) a more immediate look into the awful
cup which He was to drink, and saw in it the wrath of God and His being
made a “curse.” Then, to exhibit the holiness of His nature, shrinking from
being “made sin” (

2 Corinthians 5:21), to demonstrate the reality of His
humanity — trembling, horrified, in anguish at what awaited Him; and to
manifest His unquenchable love to us, by making known more clearly what
He suffered on our behalf, He cried, “If it be possible, let this cup pass
from Me.” Yet instantly He was quieted: “Nevertheless, not My will be
done, but Thine.” Thus we are shown again His full and perfect.116
acquiesence to the Father’s purpose, and that the one and only object
before Him was the doing of the Father’s will.
Yet one more thought on this precious subject: “Lo, I come to do Thy will,
O God.” Weigh well the verb. It was not merely that the Son consented to
passively endure whatever the Father was pleased to lay upon Him, but
also that He desired to actively perform the work which had been allotted
to Him. Though that work involved immeasurable humiliation, untold
anguish, though it entailed not only Bethlehem’s manger but Calvary’s
cross, He hesitated not. As a child, as a Man, in life and in death, He was
“obedient” to His God. Our disobedience was voluntary, so the satisfaction
which He made for us was voluntary. Though what He did was done out of
love for us, yet chiefly in subjection to God’s will and out of love to Him.
“I love the Father; and as the Father gave Me commandment, even
so I do” (

John 14:31)!
Let us pause long enough to make one word of application. In view of all
that has been before us, of what surpassing value must be such obedience!
When we remember that the One we have been contemplating is none
other than the Almighty, who,
“hath measured the waters in the hollow of His hand and meted
heaven with a span” (

Isaiah 40:12),
then is it not obvious that this humiliation and consecration must possess a
dignity and efficacy which has more than compensated God for all the
dreadful disobedience of His people! It was the Divine excellency of
Christ’s person which gave infinite worth to all that He did as the God-man-
Mediator; therefore is He able to “save unto the uttermost them that
come unto God by Him.” O Christian reader look away from self with its
ten thousand failures, to Him who is “Altogether Lovely.” No matter how
black and foul thy sins, the precious blood of such an One cleanseth from
them all. And what wholehearted devotion is due unto Him from us! O
may His love truly constrain us to obey and please Him.
“Above when He said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings
and offering for sin Thou wouldest not, neither hast pleasure
therein, which are offered by the law; Then said He, Lo, I come to
do Thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that He may establish
the second” (verses 8, 9)..117
In these words we have the apostle’s inspired comment upon the
remarkable quotation given from Psalm 40. Repetition is here made that
the conclusion drawn might the more plainly appear. That to which
attention is now directed is to the order of statement, and what that order
necessarily intimated. The first word of verse 8 (“Above”) and the first of
verse 9 (“Then”) are placed in opposition and it is to them that the “first”
and the “second” at the end of verse 9 looks.
Granting that the Levitical sacrifices were “offered by the law,”
nevertheless, God rejected them as the means of making real expiation of
sin and the saving of His church. This He had made known as far back as
the days of David; nor was it a new decision that God formed then, for
what He spoke through His prophets in time was but the revelation of what
He had decreed in eternity. This the Son, the Mediator, was cognizant of,
therefore did He say, “Lo I come to do Thy will, O God.” “Lo” Behold! a
word signalizing what a glorious spectacle was then presented to God, to
angels, and to men. “I come” from Heaven to earth, from the “form of
God” to the “form of a servant;” come forth like the rising of the sun, with
light and healing in his wings, or as a giant rejoicing to run his race. To “do
Thy will,” to perform Thy counsels, to execute what Thou requirest, to
render that entire service of love which Thy people owed unto the law, to
perform the great work of redemption. Thus, the perfect obedience of
Christ is placed in direct contrast from the whole of the Levitical offerings:
His accomplishing what theirs could not.
“He taketh away the first, that He may establish the second.” This
inference is patent; no other conclusion could be drawn. The Levitical
offerings were unefficacious to accomplish the purpose of God; the
satisfaction of the incarnate Son had. The Greek word for “taketh away” is
even stronger than the term applied to the old covenant — “made old” and
“vanish away” (

Hebrews 8:13). It is usually applied to the taking away
of life (

Acts 16:27). Dead things are not only useless, but prove harmful
carrion, fit only to be buried! Thus it was with the Mosaic shadows. So
also an equally emphatic and final word is used in connection with the one
offering of our Lord’s: it has “established” the will of God concerning the
Church. That is, it has placed it on such an immutable foundation that it
shall never be moved or altered.
“By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the
body of Jesus Christ once for all” (verse 10)..118
This is a commentary upon the whole passage. “By,” or better “in which
will” refers not to Christ’s, for the preceding verse speaks of the will of the
Father, purposing that Christ should offer the perfect and acceptable
sacrifice. Moreover, the “will” is distinguished from the “offering” of the
Redeemer. The “Thy will” of verse 9 refers to the eternal agreement
between the Father and the Son in connection with the covenant of
redemption, the performing of His “commandment” (

John 10:18). “In
which will” gives the sphere or element in which the great sacrifice was
offered and in which the elect are “sanctified.”
“In the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of
Jesus Christ once for all.” “Sanctified” positionally, restored to God’s
favor, standing accepted before Him. The death of Christ was a “sacrifice”
(

7:27, 9:23), by which He put away sin (

Hebrews 9:26) and
provided for the purging of our conscience (

Hebrews 9:14) and the
setting apart of our persons unto God (

Hebrews 10:14). All these
passages affirm that the death of Christ was a sacrifice by which the elect
are separated as a peculiar people unto the worship of the living God. It is
important to see the type realized in the Antitype.
“As the ancient sacrifices, as symbols in the lower sphere, freed the
worshipper from merited (temporal) punishment, because the guilt
passed over to the victim, so the death of Christ, in a higher sphere,
not only displayed the punishment due to us for sin, but the actual
removal of that punishment. It puts us in the position of a people
near to God, a holy people, as Israel were in a typical (or
ceremonial) sense” (G. Smeaton).
“In the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of
Jesus Christ once for all.” “Sanctified is here to be taken in its widest
latitude, as including a full expiation of sin, a complete dedication to God,
a real purification of our natures, a permanent peace of conscience unto
which belongs the privilege of immediate access to God. Faith is the
instrumental cause, whereby we enter into the good of it. The Spirit’s work
within is the efficient cause, whereby we are enabled to believe and lay
hold of it. The redemptive work of Christ is the meritorious cause,
whereby He earned for us the gift of His Spirit to renew us. But the
sovereign and eternal will of the Father is the supreme and originating
cause. All that the will of God ordained for the good of His Church is
communicated to us through the satisfaction or offering of Christ, but this.119
is only apprehended by an understanding enlightened and a heart opened by
the Holy Spirit..120
CHAPTER 48
THE PERFECTING OF THE CHURCH
(

HEBREWS 10:11-14)
The connection between our present passage and the verses preceding is so
close, the relation between them so intimate, that what is now to be before
us cannot be understood, and appreciated apart from the other. The design
of the whole is to show the superlative excellency of the sacrifice of Christ
and what it has procured for His people, with the inevitable setting aside of
all the typical offerings. This great change in the outward worship of God’s
saints on earth was no temporary expediency in view of the failures of
fleshly Israel, but was ordained by the Divine counsels before the
foundation of the world, recorded in the Book of God’s decrees, and, in
due time, transcribed upon the pages of Holy Scripture; the 40th Psalm
having announced the alteration which was to be brought about by the
incarnation and advent to this earth of the Son of God.
Most blessedly does that Messianic Psalm acquaint us with what passed
between the Father and the Son and of the covenant agreed upon by Them.
Most blessedly are we there shown not only the Son’s acquiescence to the
Father’s purpose, but also His readiness and joy to execute the same. The
strenuous undertaking was to rest upon His shoulder, the burden and heat
of the day was to be borne by Him, the humiliation and pains of death wire
to be His portion; yet so far from rebelling against this frightful ordeal, He
exclaimed “I delight to do Thy will, O My God” (

Psalm 40:8). So dear
to Him was the Father’s glory, so filled with zeal was He to accomplish His
counsels, so deep was His longing to magnify His law and make it
honorable, that His very “meat” was to do and accomplish His will. Never
did famished mortal so crave food to satisfy hunger, as did the God-man
Mediator to perform the Father’s pleasure.
He too knew full well that the blood of bulls and goats could never repair
the damage which sin had wrought. He too had heartily concurred in tee
august Council of the Trinity that, if satisfaction were to be made unto
Divine justice, then an adequate one should be given, one which should be.121
suited in every way to meet all the aspects of the case. Inasmuch as it was
man who had revolted against the Divine government and broken the
Divine law, He was willing to become Man, and in the same nature which
had apostatized from God render perfect obedience to Him. Inasmuch as
“the Law” was the rule of obedience (

Jeremiah 31:33), comprehending
all God’s demands, the entire service of love which creatures owe unto
their Maker, the Son consented to be “made under the law” (

Galatians
4:4) and “fulfill” its precepts (

Matthew 5:17). Inasmuch as the penalty
of that law was death unto the transgressor, He agreed to be “made a curse
for us.”
It was not that all of this was forced on the Son, but that He freely agreed
thereto. If there are verses which tell us the Father “sent” the Son, there
are other passages which declare that the Son “came.” Blessedly was this
foreshadowed in Genesis 22, where we behold an earthly adumbration of
that “counsel of peace” which was between “Both” the Father and the son
(

Zechariah 6:13). There we are shown a human father willing to
sacrifice his beloved son upon the altar, and there too we see a human son
(then fully grown) willing to be slain! Marvelously did that set forth the
mutual consent of the Divine persons with regard to the Great Transaction.
Mark attentively, those precious words, “So they went both of them
together” (

Genesis 22:8)! As we follow Isaac upon mount Moriah, his
actions said, “Lo, I come to do Thy will, O my God.”
In man three things combine to the doing of a thing. First, there is the
exercise of will, which is the prime mover and spring of all the rest.
Second, there is the exercise of wisdom, by which he plans and arranges.
Third, the putting forth of strength to accomplish the same. So it is in the
Divine Trinity in connection with the salvation of the Church and all that
that entails. “Will” is more generally ascribed to the Father:

Matthew
11:26,

Ephesians 1:11, etc. “Wisdom” is more eminently attributed to
the Son, the “Wonderful Counselor,” called so often “Wisdom” in the book
of Proverbs,

Luke 7:35, 11:49 etc. “Might” to the Holy Spirit —

Luke 1:35, where He is designated “the Power of the Highest.” The
Father contrived the great work of redemption, the Son transacted it, and
the Holy Spirit applies the same. Here in Hebrews 10 things are traced
back to the first great cause of our salvation, namely, the sovereign will of
the Father..122
The closer the whole passage be read, the more will it appear that the
apostle was moved to ascend in thought to the originating source of
redemption. In verse 5 we hear the Lord Jesus saying to the Father
concerning the legal sacrifices, “Thou wouldest not,” i.e. they were not
what Thou didst eternally purpose should take away sins. To this He adds,
“But a body hast Thou prepared Me,” which (as we have shown) in its
deepest meaning signifies: a human nature hast Thou ordained for Me, to
be the meet vehicle of service in which I should render an adequate
satisfaction. Next, He makes reference to the Book of God’s eternal
decrees, in view of which He declares, “I come to do Thy will, O God.”
Finally, the Holy Spirit sums up the whole by affirming “in the which will
we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once.”
We feel it a bounden duty to enlarge upon this fundamental truth, the more
so in view of the present almost universal denial of the absolute
sovereignty of God. The Holy Spirit has Himself here emphasized the fact
that God’s imperial pleasure was the sole moving-cause even in that
greatest of all the Divine works, through which is communicated the
chiefest glory to God and highest good to His people. God was under no
necessity to save any. He “spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them
down to hell” (

2 Peter 2:4); and had it so pleased Him, He had done the
same with the whole human race. There was no necessity in His nature
which compelled or even required Him to show mercy; had there been,
mercy had been bestowed on the fallen angels! The Almighty is under no
restraint either from anything outside or anything inside Himself; to affirm
the contrary, would be to repudiate the absolute freedom of His will.
Still less was God under any necessity of giving His own beloved Son if He
chose to redeem a part of Adam’s race. He who declares,
“All nations before Him are as nothing: and they are counted to
Him less than nothing, and vanity. To whom then will ye liken
God?” (

Isaiah 40:17, 18)
is not to be measured by human reason nor limited by our unbelief. Had
God so pleased He had made this earth a thousand times bigger than it is;
and had He so pleased, He had created it a thousand times smaller. In like
manner, He was absolutely free to use whatsover means He determined in
order to save His people from their sins. The sending forth of His Son to
be made of a woman and to die upon the cross, was not a work of His
nature, but of His will; as He now begets us “of His own will” (

James.123
1:18). True it “became” Him so to do (

Hebrews 2:10), and He is
infinitely honored thereby, yet He could have refused had He so pleased.
Thus, the “will” of God referred to throughout Hebrews 10 is that eternal,
gracious, free purpose, by which God determined in Himself to recover His
elect out of lost mankind, to remove their sins, sanctify their persons, and
bring them nigh unto the everlasting enjoyment of Himself. This act of the
will of God was without any meritorious cause foreseen in them, and
altogether apart from anything outside Himself to dispose Him thereto. It
was His own free and uncaused act by which God purposed so to do. Nor
have we the smallest occasion to regard this supremacy of the Most High
with any aversion. God is no Tyrant, nor does He act capriciously, His will
is a wise and holy one, therefore do we read of Him working “all things
after the counsel of His own will” (

Ephesians 1:11), and therefore did
He devise a plan whereby His grace might be most magnified.
It was for this reason He determined that His people should be saved in
such a way as to remove all ground for boasting in themselves, and to
glory only in God Himself. Therefore did He appoint His own Son to be
their Savior, and that by rendering to Him such a satisfaction as would
meet every requirement of justice and every demand of the most
enlightened conscience. God’s end and aim in giving Christ to die was to
advance the glory of His grace, which consists in having the monarchy and
sole prerogative in saving sinners attributed unto it; the highest of whose
honor and eminency is this, that it alone “reigns” (

Romans 5:21), and
hath not and could not have any competitor therein. As it is the excellency
of God that He is God alone, and there is none beside Him, so it is of His
Son that He is Savior alone and there is none beside Him (

Acts 4:12).
Unto God the Son, made Man, has been assigned an office which no
creature in earth or heaven could possibly fill. The fullest trial and
manifestation of this is made in a case of less difficulty (than that of making
satisfaction to Divine justice for sin) in Revelation 5. There we read of a
challenge given, “Who is worthy to open the book” — which was sealed
and held in the hand of God seated on His throne “and to loose the seals
thereof?” Waiving the question as to what “book” this was, we note the
response:
“And no one in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was
able to open the book, neither to look thereon” (verse 3)..124
Even the beloved John was discouraged, and “wept much because no one
was found worthy to open and to read the book” (verse 4). Mark the
unspeakably blessed sequel:
“One of the elders saith unto me, Weep not; behold, the Lion of the
tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book
and to loose the seals thereof. And I beheld, and, Lo, in the midst
of the throne… stood a Lamb as it had been slain… and He came
and took the book out of the right hand of Him that sat upon the
throne” (verses 5-7).
If then no mere creature was fit to reveal redemption, how much less to
effect it!
Thus, the origin of our salvation is found in the sovereign will of God; the
means, in the satisfaction made by His incarnate Son.
The two things are brought together in verse 10, “In the which will we are
sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once.” “In the
which will” has reference to what is recorded in the Book of God’s
decrees. That “will” was that His people should be “sanctified” unto Him,
set apart with acceptance to Him. This was to be effected through “the
offering” of Christ, which began at the first moment of His birth and ended
when on the cross He cried, “It is finished.” This was “once for all.”
It was an absolute necessity that there should be these two things: the
originating will of God the Father, the consenting will of the Mediator to
make full satisfaction for sin. Necessary it was that the Father should be
willing and call His Son to this work, for He was the person unto whom
the satisfaction was to be made. Had Christ performed all that He did,
freely and gladly, yet, unless the Father had first decreed that He should
and had “called” Him unto it, then had He rejected the whole, asking “who
hath required this at Thy hand?” Therefore has the Spirit insisted upon this
foundational fact again and again in the course of this epistle: see

Hebrews 2:10; 3:4, 5; 6:17 etc. Thus does

Hebrews 10:10 ascribe as
much, yea more, to God’s appointing and accepting of Christ’s sacrifice, as
to the merits of Christ unto the sanctification of His people.
“And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes
the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this Man,
after He had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down on the
right hand of God; from henceforth expecting, till His enemies be.125
made His footstool. For by one offering He hath perfected forever
them that are sanctified (verses 11-14).
“These words are an entrance into the close of that long blessed discourse
of the apostle, concerning the priesthood and sacrifice of Christ, their
dignity and efficacy; which he shuts up and finisheth in the following
verses, confirming the whole with the testimony of the Holy Spirit before
producing by Him.
“Four things doth he here instruct us in, by way of recapitulation of
what he had declared and proved before.
1. The state of the legal priests and sacrifices, as unto the recognition
of them, by which he had proved before their utter insufficiency to take
away sin (verse 11).
2. In that one offering of Christ, and that once offered, in opposition
thereunto (verse 12).
3. The consequence thereof on the part of Christ; whereof there are
two parts. First, His state and condition immediately ensuing thereon
(verse 12), manifesting the dignity, efficacy and absolute perfection of
His offering. Secondly, as unto the continuance of His state and
condition afterwards (verse 13).
4. The absolute effect of his sacrifice, which was the sanctification of
the Church (verse 14)” ( John Owen).
“And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes
the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins” (verse 11).
The opening “And” links this verse with the 10th, for the purpose of
accentuating the blessedness of what is there declared. Once more the Holy
Spirit emphasizes the contrast between the all-sufficient offering of Christ
and the unefficacious offerings under the law. This is brought out under
five details, upon which there is little need for us to enlarge at length.
First, under the law the sacerdotal office was filled by many: attention is
called to this by the “every priest,” which is set over against the “this Man”
of verse 12, who was competent by Himself to do all God required..126
Second, the Levitical priests stood. This was true both of the high priests
and of all under him. No chair or seat was provided for them in either the
tabernacle or temple, for their work was never ended.
Third, they were employed daily, which showed they were unable to do
immediately and once for all that which would satisfy God.
Fourth, they oftentimes presented “the same sacrifices”: true, they varied
in detail and design, nevertheless they had this in common, that, they were
irrational creatures, incapable of offering intelligent and acceptable
obedience to God.
Fifth, they could not meet the infinite demands of justice, expiate sins, nor
provide a permanent resting-place for an exercised conscience.
An improvement should be made of what has just been before us, by
pointing out the utter worthlessness of all human devices for appeasing
God and comforting the conscience. If the Levitical offerings, which were
of Divine appointment, were unable to really meet either the full
requirements of God or the deepest need of sinners, how much less can the
contrivances of man do so! How vain are the Romish inventions of
confession, absolution, indulgencies, masses, penances, purgatory, and the
like tom-fooleries! Equally vain are the austerities of some Protestants: the
signing of a temperance-pledge, giving up of tobacco, and other
reformations, with tears, lastings, and religious performances designed to
make peace with God. The salvation of the Lord does not come to a soul
via any such things.
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according
to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration and
renewing of the Holy Spirit; which He shed on us abundantly
through Jesus Christ our Savior” (

Titus 3:5, 6).
“But this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever
sat down on the right hand of God” (verse 12).
The opening word denotes that a contrast is here presented from what was
before us in verse 11: it is the Holy Spirit placing in antithesis the one
perfect and efficacious offering of Christ from the unavailing sacrifices of
the law. The word “Man” ought to be in italics: if any word is to be
supplied it should be that of “Priest.” The Greek simply reads, “But He,”
the pronoun being emphatic. It is the sacerdotal work of the Mediator.127
which is in view. He came and once for all laid Himself on the Divine altar
as an atonement to God — the entire course of His obedience terminating
and being consummated at the cross.
There is both a comparison and a contrast here between Christ and Aaron
and his successors. Both were priests; both offered a sacrifice for sins; but
there the analogy between them ends. They were many; He alone. They
offered numerous sacrifices; He, but one. They continued to offer
sacrifices; His is complete and final. Their offerings were unefficacious;
His, has actually removed sins. They stood; He has sat down. They
ministered unto God; He is seated at the right hand of God. The typical
high priest entered the holiest only for a brief season, one day in the year;
Christ has gone on High “forever.” He has not ceased to be a Priest, nor to
exercise that office; but He is now “a Priest upon His throne”
(

Zechariah 6:13). The position He occupies witnesses to the supreme
excellency of His work, and attests the acceptance of His sacrifice by God.
The glorious place which our once humiliated Savior has been accorded,
supplies conclusive evidence of the value and finality of His redemptive
work.
“The very fact that Christ is in heaven, accepted by His Father,
proves that His work must be done. Why, beloved, as long as an
ambassador from our country is at a foreign court, there must be
peace; and as long as Jesus Christ our Savior is at His Father’s
court, it shows that there is real peace between His people and His
Father. Well, as He will be there forever, that shows our peace
must be continued and shall never cease. But that peace could not
have been continual, unless the atonement had been wholly made,
unless justice had been entirely satisfied” (C.H. Spurgeon).
Commentators have been divided as to whether the “for ever” is to be
connected with the Savior’s one sacrifice or to His sitting down at God’s
right hand. The Greek, while hardly conclusive, decidedly favors the latter.
Perhaps the double thought is designed. They who insist that the “for ever”
must be joined to the first clause, argue that it cannot be so with the second
because

1 Thessalonians 4:16,

Revelation 19:11 etc. show that the
Savior will yet leave Heaven. As well might appeal be made to Christ’s
“standing” to receive Stephen (

Acts 7:55). But the difficulty is self-created
through carnalizing the metaphor used. “For ever sat down” is in
designed contrast from the “standeth daily” of verse 11. Christ has ceased.128
for ever from the priestly work of making oblation: He will never again be
engaged in such a task; but He has other characters to fill beside that of
Maker of atonement.
“For ever sat down on the right hand of God.” Four times in this epistle is
reference made to Christ’s being seated on High, yet is there no repetition.
On each occasion the reference is found connected with an entirely
different line of thought.
First, in

Hebrews 1:3 it is His seat of personal glory which is in view:
the whole context before and after showing that.
Second, in

Hebrews 8:1 it is the seat of priestly pre-eminence which He
occupies, namely, His superiority over all others who filled the sacerdotal
office.
Third, here in

Hebrews 10:12 it is the seat of sacrificial acceptance,
God’s witness to the value of His satisfaction.
Fourth, in

Hebrews 12:2 it is the seat of the Victor, the prize given for
having successfully run His race.
The One born in Bethlehem’s manger, who on earth had not where to lay
His head, who died upon the cross, and whose body was laid in a borrowed
grave, is now in Heaven. He has been given a place higher than that of the
arch-angel, He has been exalted above all created things. There is a
glorified Man at God’s right hand! Christ is the only one among all the
hosts above who deserves to be there! It is naught but Divine favor which
gives holy angels and redeemed sinners a place in the Father’s House; but
the Man Christ Jesus has merited that high honor!
“The highest place that Heaven affords,
Is His by sovereign right,
King of kings and Lord of lords,
He reigns there in the Light.”
Unspeakably blessed is this; the more so when it be realized that Christ has
entered heaven for His people. He has gone there in his official character.
He has gone there as our Representative; to appear before God “for us”
(

Hebrews 9:24). He is there as our great High Priest, bearing our names
on His breastplate. Wondrous and precious are those words, “Whither the
fore-runner is for us entered, even Jesus” (

Hebrews 6:20). There the
mighty Victor sits “crowned with glory and honor.” He occupies the.129
Throne of universal dominion, of all-mighty power, of sovereign and
illimitable grace. He is making all grace. He is making all things work
together for the good of His own. The kingly scepter shall He wield until
all His redeemed are with Him in glory.
“From henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool”
(verse 13).
In these words we have the seventh and last N. T. reference made to the
110th Psalm. There we read.
“The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou at My right hand, until I
make Thine enemies Thy footstool” (

verse 1).
Allusion is here made to that promise of the Father to the Son for the
purpose of supplying additional confirmation of what had just been
declared. In verses 10, 12 (also in 14), the utter needlessness for any
repetition of Christ’s sacrifice is shown, here the impossibility of it. From
the beginning, a state of glory and position of honor had been appointed
the Mediator following on the presentation of His offering to God. He was
to take His place on the throne of heaven, till His foes were completely
subjugated: therefore to enter the place of service and die again He was no
longer capable!
The suffering Savior has been invested with unlimited power and dominion,
and nothing now remains but the accomplishing of all those effects which
His sacrifice was designed to procure. These are twofold; the saving of His
elect, the subjugating of all revolters against God, for
“He hath appointed a day in the which He will judge the world in
righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained”
(

Acts 17:31).
The Redeemer having perfected His great work, now calmly awaits the
fulfillment of the Father’s promise: cf.

1 Corinthians 15:25-27. Christ
will yet put forth His mighty power and overthrow every proud rebel
against Him. He will yet say,
“I will tread them in Mine anger, and trample them in My fury, and
their blood shall be sprinkled upon My garments… for the day of
vengeance is in Mine heart” (

Isaiah 63:3, 4):.130
cf.

Revelation 14:20. Then will men experience the terribleness of “the
wrath of the Lamb” (

Revelation 6:16).
The “wrath of the Lamb” is as much a perfection as is the “love of Christ.”
In His overthrow of God’s adversaries, His glory shines as truly as when
He conducts the redeemed into the Father’s House. He is equally to be
adored when we behold His vesture stained with the blood of His enemies,
as when we see His life ebbing from His side pierced for us. Each was an
intrinsic part of that work assigned Him of the Father. Though in our
present state we are apt to shrink-back with horror, as we contemplate
Him saying to those who despised and rejected Him. “Depart from Me, ye
cursed,” yet in that day we shall praise Him for it.
“Oh! what a triumph that will be, when men, wicked men,
persecutors, and those who opposed Christ, are all cast into the
lake that burneth” (C.H. Spurgeon).
A remarkable adumbration (shadowing forth) of what has just been before
us was made by God in A.D. 70. During the days of His flesh, the enemies
of Christ pursued Him with relentless hatred. Nor was their enmity
appeased when they had hounded Him to death: their rage continued to
vent itself upon His followers. No one can read through the book of Acts
without discovering many an evidence of the rancor of apostate Judaism
against the early Christians. Loudly did the Jews boast of their triumph
against Jesus of Nazareth, and for a time it looked as though they would
prevail against His church. Though the issue hung in suspense for some
years, God made a complete end to the same by utterly destroying them as
a nation, and thereby gave a pledge of the eternal destruction of those who
obey not the Gospel. In sending the Romans to burn their city and raze
their temple, we discover a solemn foreshadowing of that which shall yet
take place when Christ says,
“But those Mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over
them, bring hither and slay before Me” (

Luke 19:27).
But let our final thought of this 13th verse be one of a different tenor. In
the word “expecting” we have manifested again the lovely moral
perfections of the Mediator. Christ is able to destroy all His enemies in a
moment, yet for nineteen centuries He has bided His time. Why? Because,
even in Heaven, He meekly and gladly bows to the Father’s pleasure. His
final triumph is still postponed, because He calmly waits that day which.131
God has “appointed” (

Acts 17:31). Therefore do we read of “the
kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ” (

Revelation 1:9). In this too He
sets us an example. Whatever be our lot and condition, however the forces
of evil rage against us, we are to possess our souls in patience (

Luke
21:19), knowing that there is a “set time” to favor Zion (

Psalm
102:13). Ere long, every enemy of Christ and of His church shall be
overthrown — overthrown, not “reconciled”: “His enemies be made His
footstool” plainly gives the lie to the dreams of Universalists!
“For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are
sanctified” (verse 14).
Three things claim our attention here: first, the relation of this view to the
context; second, what is meant by “perfected for ever”?; third, who are the
“sanctified”? The link between our verse and what precedes is contained in
the opening “For,” which has a double force. First, it intimates that what is
now said furnishes additional proof for the thesis of the whole passage: the
very fact that the one offering of Christ has “perfected for ever” (contrast

Hebrews 7:17!) those sanctified by God, gives further demonstration of
the efficacy and sufficiency of it, and the needlessness of any repetition.
Second, the same fact manifests the meet-ness of the Mediator’s sitting at
God’s right hand until His enemies are made His footstool — His work
having accomplished such a blessed result, He is entitled both to rest and
reward.
“For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”
The word for “perfected” literally means “completed” or “consummated.”
It is more of an objective than a subjective perfection which is here in view,
as the immediate context and the whole epistle shows. This verse is not
speaking of the Church’s eternal state in Glory, but of its present standing
before God. By His sacrifice Christ has procured for His people the full
pardon of sin and peace before God thereon. The “one offering” of the
Lord Jesus possesses such infinite merits (being that of an infinite or Divine
person in a holy humanity), that it has wrought out a complete expiation
and secured for “His own” personal acceptance with and access to God, a
priestly standing and covenant nearness before Him.
Because their salvation has been accomplished by the vicarious obedience
and vicarious suffering, in life and in death, by no less a person than
Immanuel, because He glorified God’s law by keeping it fully and enduring
its curse, His people are both perfectly justified and perfectly sanctified,.132
that is, a complete righteousness and complete fitness to worship in the
Temple of God is theirs, not in themselves, but through Christ their Head.
Their title to heaven is founded alone on the righteousness of Christ
imputed to them. Their fitness is given when the Holy Spirit regenerates
them. Their present enjoyment of the same is determined by the
maintenance of communion with God day by day. Their perfect and eternal
enjoyment thereof will issue from their glorification at the return of the
Savior.
The word “perfected” here is to be understood in a sacrificial rather than in
an experimental sense. It has reference to the Christian’s right to stand in
the holy presence of God in unclouded peace. Our title so to do is as valid
now as it will be when we are glorified, for that title rests alone on the
sacrificial work of our Substitute, finished on the cross. It rests on
something altogether external to ourselves, altogether apart from what
God’s sovereign grace works in us or through us, either when we first
believe or afterwards. We are precious in the sight of God according to the
preciousness of Christ: see

Ephesians 1:6,

John 17:22, 23. Yet, let it
be added that, this perfect objective sanctification (our consecration to God
by Christ) in no wise renders the less requisite our need of being constantly
cleansed, experimentally, by the Spirit’s use of the Word:

John 13:10,

1 Peter 1:2 etc.
Those perfected by the “one offering” of Christ are “them that axe
sanctified,” or more literally, simply “the sanctified,” the reference being to
those who were eternally set apart by the Father (Jude 1). The persons of
the elect are variously designated in this epistle. They are referred to as
“heirs of salvation” (

Hebrews 1:14), “sons” (

Hebrews 2:10),
“brethren” of Christ, (

Hebrews 2:12), “partakers of the heavenly
calling” (

Hebrews 3:1), “heirs of promise” (

Hebrews 6:17), “the
house of Israel” and “of Judah” (

Hebrews 8:8); but here “the
sanctified,” because the Spirit’s object in the whole of this passage is to
trace everything to its originating source, namely, the imperial will of a
sovereign God..133
CHAPTER 49
SANCTIFICATION
(

HEBREWS 10:15-18)
The verses which are now to be before us bring to a close the principal
argument which the apostle was setting before the Hebrews; that which
follows, partakes more of the nature of a series of exhortations, drawn
from the thesis which had previously been established. The immeasurable
superiority of Christianity over Judaism, seen in the glorious person of our
great High Priest and the perfect efficacy of His sacrifice, had been fully
demonstrated.
“Here we are come unto a full end of the dogmatical part of this
epistle, a portion of Scripture filled with heavenly and glorious
mysteries, the light of the church of the Gentiles, the glory of the
people Israel, the foundation and bulwark of faith evangelical”
(John Owen).
Immediately afterward that eminent expositor added, (words which most
suitably express the writer’s own sentiments) the following: —
“I do therefore here, with all humility, and sense of my own
weakness and utter inability for so great a work, thankfully own the
guidance and assistance which hath been given to me in the
interpretation of it, so far as it is, or may be of use unto the church,
as a mere effect of sovereign and undeserved grace. From that
alone it is, that having many and many a time been at an utter loss
as to the mind of the Holy Spirit, and finding no relief in the worthy
labors of others, He hath graciously answered my poor, weak
supplications, in supplies of the light and evidence of truth.”
The relation of our present passage to what has been before us in the last
article is this: in verses 11-14 the perfection of Christ’s sacrifice is
declared: first, comparatively in 11-14, and then singly in 14; while in
verses 15-17 a further proof or confirmation of this is given from the Old
Testament Scriptures. So efficacious was the mediatorial work of Christ.134
that, “by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.”
Said the Puritan Charnock,
“That one offering was of such infinite value that it perfectly
purchased the taking away of sin, both in the guilt, filth, and power,
and was a sufficient price for all the grace believers should need for
their perfect sanctification to the end of the world. There was the
satisfaction of His blood for the removal of our guilt, and a treasure
of merit for the supply of our grace” (Volume 5, p. 231).
There is a further link between our preceding portion and the present one.
In verse 14 the apostle had declared “For by one offering He hath
perfected forever them that are sanctified,” now he describes those marks
by which the “sanctified” are to be identified. Unto those who really value
their souls and are deeply concerned about their eternal destiny, this is a
vitally important consideration. How may I know that I am one of that
favored company for whom the incarnate Son of God offered Himself a
sacrifice for sin? What clear and conclusive evidence do I possess that I am
among the “sanctified?” Answer to these weighty questions is furnished in
the verses which we are now to ponder. May each reader join with the
writer in begging God to grant him an honest heart and a discerning eye to
see whether or no they describe what has been actually made good in his
own experience.
“Whereof the Holy Spirit also is a witness to us: for after that He
had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, saith the Lord, I will put My laws into their hearts,
and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will
I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no
more offering for sin” (verses 15-18).
There are two parts to the assertion made in verse 14: first, “them that are
sanctified’’; second, such are “perfected forever.” In the proof-text which
the apostle here gives, both of these are found, though in the inverse order:
the “sanctified” are they in whose hearts God puts His laws; those who are
“perfected forever” are they whose sins God remembers no more.
“Whereof the Holy Spirit also is a witness to us” (verse 15).
“The foundation of the whole preceding discourse of the apostle,
concerning the glory of the priesthood of Christ, and the efficacy of
His sacrifice, was laid in the description of the new covenant,.135
whereof He was the Mediator, which was confirmed and ratified by
His sacrifice, as the old covenant was by the blood of bulls and
goats (

Hebrews 9:10-13). Having now abundantly proved and
demonstrated what he designed concerning them both, His
priesthood and His sacrifice, He gives us a confirmation of the
whole, from the testimony of the Holy Spirit, in the description of
that covenant which he had given before. And because the crisis to
which he had brought his argument and disputation, was, that the
Lord Christ, by reason of the dignity of His person and office, with
the everlasting efficacy of His sacrifice, was to offer Himself but
once, which virtually includes all that he had before taught and
declared, including in it an immediate demonstration of the
insufficiency of all those sacrifices which were often repeated, and
consequently their removal out of the church; he returns unto those
words of the Holy Spirit for the proof of this particular also” (J.
Owen).
“Whereof the Holy Spirit also is a witness to us” (verse 15).
Three questions are suggested by these words.
First, unto what is the Holy Spirit a “Witness?”
Second, what is the “also” to be connected with — who else has
witnessed to the same thing? Third, how does the Holy Spirit
“witness?” Let us, then, seek answers to these queries.
Unto what is it that the Holy Spirit is here said to be a “Witness?” If we go
back no farther than the preceding verse, the answer would be, unto the
fact that the one satisfaction which has been made by the Redeemer secures
the eternal perfection of all who are sanctified; what follows in verses 16-
18 bears this out. Nevertheless, we are persuaded that it is necessary to
look farther afield if we are to obtain the deeper and fuller answer. The
satisfaction made by the Redeemer was the fulfilling of the Divine “will,”
the performing of that which had been stipulated in the everlasting
covenant; and it is of that the whole context is speaking. The Holy Spirit
was present when that wondrous compact was made between the Father
and the Mediator, and through Jeremiah He made known a part of its
glorious promises. The proof of this will become clearer as we advance.
Second, “whereof the Holy Spirit also is a witness to us” looks back to
verse 9. There we have the testimony of the Son unto the eternal decree.136
which God had made, and which He had come to execute; here (in verses
17, 18) that of the Spirit to what the Father had promised the Mediator He
would do unto His covenant people. Thus, we may here behold the three
persons of the Godhead concurring. Yet there is such a fullness to the
words of Scripture that we do not think what has just been pointed out
exhausts the scope of this word “also.” The leading thought of the context
(and of the epistle) is the sufficiency, finality, and efficacy of the one
sacrifice of Christ. That was “witnessed” to when the Mediator “sat down
on the right hand of God” (verse 12); and the Holy Spirit is also a witness
to us of the same blessed fact by means of His work of sanctification in the
hearts and minds of those for whom Christ died.
As to how the Spirit witnesses to us, the first method is by means of the
written Word; specifically, by what He gave out by the prophet Jeremiah.
The apostle had argued the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice from its
singularity (verse 12), in contrast from the many sacrifices of Judaism
(verse 11); and the finality of it from the fact that He was now “sat down,”
indicating that His work of oblation was finished. To this the Hebrews
might object that what the apostle had pointed out were but plausible
reasonings, to which they could not acquiesce unless they were confirmed
by the clear testimony of Scripture; and therefore did he now quote once
more from the memorable prophecy of Jeremiah 31, which clearly
established the conclusions he had drawn. How the terms of that prophecy
ratified his deductions will appear in the sequel.
“Whereof the Holy Spirit also is a witness to us.” As we have seen, the first
reference here is to what is recorded in

Jeremiah 31:31-34. The Holy
Spirit is the Author of the Scriptures, for
“The prophecy came not at any time by the will of man, but holy
men of God spake moved by the Holy Spirit” (

2 Peter 1:21).
But more, the Holy Scriptures are also the testimony of the Holy Spirit
because of His presence and authority in them continually. As we read the
written Word, we are to recognize the voice of the Spirit of truth speaking
to us immediately out of them. As we do this, we shall recognize that
Word as the final court of appeal in all matters of conduct. That Word
alone is that whereunto our faith is to be resolved.
“Whereof the Holy Spirit is also a witness to us.” The last two words need
to be carefully observed in these days, when there are so many who (under.137
the guise of “rightly dividing the Word”) would rob the children of God of
a part of their needed bread — let the reader be much on his guard against
such men. What the prophet Jeremiah gave out was for the people of God
in his day. True, and hundreds of years later the apostle did not hesitate to
say that what Jeremiah wrote was equally “to us”; note particularly, not
only “for” us, but “to us”! The whole of God’s Word, beginning to end,
was written for the good of His people until the end of the world.
But further, the Holy Spirit is not only a Witness unto us of the everlasting
covenant and of the efficacy of Christ’s offering through the written Word
objectively, but also by His application of that Word to us subjectively. As
said the apostle unto the Corinthians,
“Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ
ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the
living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart”
(

2 Corinthians 3:3).
A cause is known by its effects, a tree by its fruits; so the value and virtue
of Christ’s sacrifice are witnessed to us by the Spirit through the powerful
workings of His grace on our hearts. Every grace implanted by the Spirit in
the Christian’s soul was purchased by the obedience and blood of Christ,
and are living evidences of the worth of them.
“For after that He had said before” (verse 15).
The particular proof-text from Jeremiah which the apostle was about to
quote is prefaced by these words of his own, as also is the clause “saith the
Lord” in the next verse the apostle’s language. If it be asked, what was it
that was said “before?” the answer is, “This is the covenant that I will make
with them.” If it be inquired, what is that which is said after? even this: “I
will put My laws into their hearts” etc. The particular point to be observed
is, that these Divine mercies of God’s putting His laws into our hearts and
forgiving our sins, are the immediate fruits of Christ’s sacrifice, but more
remotely, are the fulfillment of God’s covenant-promises unto the
Mediator.
The everlasting covenant which God made with Christ is the ground of all
the good which He does to His people. Proof of this statement is supplied
in many a scripture, which is little pondered in these days. For example, in

Exodus 6:5 we find Jehovah saying to Moses, “Ï have remembered My
covenant,” which is rendered as the reason for His bringing of Israel out of.138
Egypt. Again, in

Psalm 105:8 we are told, “He hath remembered His
covenant forever.” So in

Ezekiel 16:60 God declares,
“Nevertheless I will remember My covenant with thee in the days
of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting
covenant.”
While in Luke 1, we read in the prophecy of Zacharias,
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for He hath visited and
redeemed His people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us
in the house of His servant David; as He spake by the mouth of His
holy prophets, which have been since the world began: that we
should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that
hate us; To perform the mercy to our fathers, and to remember His
holy covenant” (verses 68-72).
“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days,
saith the Lord” (verse 16).
The reference is to the “new covenant” of

Jeremiah 31:31, so called not
because it was new made, for with respect to its original constitution it was
made with the elect in Christ their Head from all eternity (

Titus 1:1, 2);
nor as newly revealed, for it was made known in measure to the O.T.
saints; but it is so referred to in distinction from the former administration
of it, which had waxen old and vanished away. It is also called “new”
because of the “new heart,” “new spirit,” “new song” which it bestows,
and because of new ordinances (baptism and the Lord’s supper) which
have displaced the old ones of circumcision and the passover-supper.
Further, it may suitably be designated as “new” because its vigor and
efficacy are perpetual; it will never be antiquated or give place to another.
“I will put My law into their hearts, and in their minds will I write
them” (verse 16).
And who are the favored ones in whom God works thus? Those whom He
eternally set apart (

Ephesians 1:4), those whom He gave to the
Mediator (

John 17:6), those for whom Christ died: “whom He did
predestinate, those He also called” (

Romans 8:30). These, and these
only, are the ones with whom God deals so graciously. Others may,
through religious instruction or personal effort, acquire a theoretical.139
acquaintance with the laws of God, but only His elect have a vital
knowledge of Him.
“I will put My laws into their hearts.” As we deem this expression of
tremendous importance, we will endeavor to explain it according to the
measure of light which God has granted us thereon. First, it will aid us to
an understanding thereof if we consider the case of Adam. When he left the
Creator’s hands the law of God was in his heart, or, in other words, he was
endowed with all sorts of holy properties, instincts and inclinations unto
whatsoever God did command, and an antipathy against all He forbade.
That was the “law” of the nature of his heart. The laws of God in Adam
were Adam’s original nature, or constitution of His spirit and soul, as it is
the law of nature in beasts to love their young, and of birds to build their
nests.
“When God created man at first, He gave him not an outward law
written in letters or delivered in words, but an inward law put into
his heart, and concreated with him, and wrought in the frame of his
soul. And the whole substance of this law of God, the mass of it,
was not merely dictates or beams of light in his understanding,
directing what to do; but also real, lively, and spiritual dispositions,
and inclinations in his will and affections, carrying him on to what
was so directed, as to pray, love God, and fear Him; to seek His
glory in a spiritual and holy manner. They were inward abilities
suited to every duty” (T. Goodwin, Volume 6, p. 402).
The external command of

Genesis 2:17 was designed as the test of his
responsibility; what God had graciously placed within him, was the
equipment for the discharging of his responsibility.
Should it be inquired, where is the scripture which teaches that God placed
His laws in the heart of unfallen Adam? it is sufficient to reply that

Psalm 40:8 presents Christ as saying, “Thy law is within My heart,” and

Romans 5:14 declares that Adam was “the figure of Him that was to
come.” But more, just as we may discover what grain the earth bears by
the stubble which is found in the field, so we may ascertain what was in
unfallen man by the ruins of what is yet to be seen in fallen and corrupt
humanity.

Romans 2:14 says the Gentiles “do by nature the things
contained in the law”: their very conscience tells them that immorality and
murder are crimes. Thus, as an evidence that the law of God was originally.140
the very “nature” of Adam, we have the shadow of it in the hearts of all
men.
Alas, Adam did not continue as God created him: he fell, and the
consequence was that his heart was corrupted, his very “nature” vitiated,
so that the things he once loved he now hated, and what he should have
hated, he now served. Thus it is with all of his fallen descendants: being
“alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in
them, because of the blindness of their heart” (

Ephesians 4:18)
their carnal mind “is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be”
(

Romans 8:7). Instead of that holy “nature” or spiritual propensities and
properties, man is now in-dwelt and dominated by sin; hence,

Romans
7:23 teaches us that sin is a “law” in our members, namely, “the law of sin
and death” (

Romans 8:2). And thus it is that in

Jeremiah 17:1 (as the
opposite of

Hebrews 10:16) sin and corruption in the heart is said to be
“written with a pen of iron, with the point of a diamond.”
Now in regeneration and sanctification the “image” of God, after which
Adam was originally created, is again stamped upon the soul: see

Colossians 3:10; the laws of God are written on the Christian’s heart,
so that it becomes his very “nature” to serve, obey, please, honor, and
glorify God. Because the law of God is renewed again in the soul, it is
termed the “law of the mind” (

Romans 7:23), for the mind is now
regulated by the authority of God and turns as instinctively to Him as does
the sunflower to the sun, and as the needle answers to the loadstone. Thus,
the renewed heart “delights in the law of God” (

Romans 7:22), and
“serves the law of God” (

Romans 7:25), it being its very “nature” so to
do.
This wondrous change which takes place in each of those for whom Christ
died is here attributed directly and absolutely to God: “I will put My laws
into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them.” This is much more
than a bare offer being made unto men, far beyond an ineffectual invitation
which is to be received. It is an invincible and miraculous operation of the
Holy Spirit, which thoroughly transforms the favored subjects to it. Only
He who first made man, can remake him. None but the Almighty can repair
the awful damage which the Fall wrought, counteract the dreadful power
of sin, deliver the heart from the lusts of the flesh, the thraldom of the.141
world, the bondage of Satan, and rewrite upon it His holy law, so that He
will be loved supremely and served sincerely and gladly.
“I will put My laws into their hearts.” This is in contrast from those who
were under the old, or Sinaitic covenant. There the “ten words” were
engraven upon tables of stone, not only to intimate thereby their fixed and
permanent authority, but also to figure forth the hardness of the hearts of
the unregenerate people to whom they were given. But under the new
covenant — that is, the administration of the everlasting covenant and the
application of its grace to God’s elect in this Gospel dispensation — God
gives efficacy to His holy law in the souls of His people. First, by subduing
and largely removing the enmity of the natural heart against Him and his
law, which subduing is figuratively spoken of as a circumcising of the heart
(

Deuteronomy 30:6) and a “taking away the stony heart” (

Ezekiel
36:26). Second, by implanting the principle of obedience to His law, which
is figuratively referred to as the giving of “an heart of flesh” and the
“writing of His laws upon the heart.”
Observe very particularly, dear reader, that God here says not “I will put
My promises” but “My laws in their hearts.” He will not relinquish His
claims: unreserved subjection to His will is what His justice requires and
what His power secures. The grand triumph of grace is, that “enmity”
against the law (

Romans 8:7) is displaced by “love” for the law
(

Psalm 119:97). This is it which explains that word in

Psalm 19:7,
“The law of the Lord is perfect converting the soul.” It will probably
surprise most of our readers (alas that it should do so) to be told that the
Gospel never yet “converted” anybody. No, it is the law which the Spirit
uses to convict of rebellion against God, and not until the soul penitently
repudiates and forsakes his rebellion, is it ready for the message of peace
which the Gospel brings.
The careful reader will notice there is a slight difference between the
wording of

Hebrews 8:10 and 10:16. In the former it is “I will put My
laws into their minds, and write them in their hearts,” but in the passage
now before us the two clauses are reversed. One reason for this is as
follows:

Hebrews 8:10 give the Divine order of operation: the mind is
first informed, and then the heart is reformed. Moreover, in

Hebrews
8:10 it is a question of knowing God, and for that, the understanding must
be enlightened before the affections can be drawn out of Him — none will
love an unknown God. The Spirit beans by conveying to the regenerate an.142
efficacious knowledge of the authority and excellency of God’s laws,
giving them a powerful realization both of their binding force and
spirituality; and then He communicates a love for them, so that their hearts
are heartily inclined toward them.
When the apostle defines the seat of the corruption of our nature, he places
it in the “mind” and “heart”: “Walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the
vanity of their mind; having the understanding darkened, being alienated
from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the
blindness of their heart.” Therefore does the Divine work of sanctification,
or the renovating of our natures, consist of the rectifying both of the mind
and heart, and this, by furnishing them with the principles of faith, love, and
adherence to God. Thus, the grace of the new covenant (purchased for His
people by Christ) is as extensive to repair our “nature” as sin is (in its
residence and power) to deprave us. God desireth truth “in the inward
parts” (

Psalm 51:6) — not that outward conformity to His law may be
dispensed with, for that is required too, but unless it proceed from an
inward love for His law, the external actions cannot be accepted by Him.
“From these things we may easily discern the nature of that grace
which is contained in this first branch of the first promise of the
covenant. And this is the effectual operation of His Spirit, in the
renovation and saving illumination of our minds, whereby they are
habitually made conformable unto the whole law of God, that is,
the rule and the law of our obedience in the new covenant, and
enabled unto all acts and duties that are required of us. And this is
the first grace promised and communicated unto us by virtue of this
covenant, as it was necessary that so it should be. For,
1. the mind is the principal seat of all spiritual obedience.
2. The proper and peculiar actings of the mind in discerning, knowing,
judging, must go before the actings of the will and affections, much
more before all outward practices.
3. The depravation of the mind is such by blindness, darkness, vanity
and enmity, that nothing can inflame our souls, or make an entrance
towards the reparation of our natures, but an internal, spiritual, saving
operation of grace upon the mind” (John Owen).
In

Hebrews 10:16 the heart is mentioned before the mind because the
Spirit is here giving the Divine standard for us to measure ourselves by: it.143
is the test whereby we may ascertain whether or no we are among the
“sanctified,” who have been perfected forever by the one offering of Christ.
An intellectual knowledge of God’s laws is no proof of regeneration, but a
genuine heart-acquaintance with them is. The questions I need to honestly
face are such as these: Is there within me that which answers to the Law
without me? That is, is it actually and truly my desire and determination to
be regulated and controlled by the revealed will of God? Is it the deepest
longing of my soul, and the chief business of my life, to please and serve
God? Is it the great burden of my prayers that He will work in me “both to
will and to do of His good pleasure?” Is my deepest grief occasioned by
my failure to be altogether holy in my wishes and words and ways?
Experimentally, the more we love God, the more shall we discern the
excellency of His law.
“And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (verse 17).
Notice again the order of our passage: what is found here comes after
verse 16, and not before. In the order of grace, justification (of which
forgiveness is the negative side) precedes sanctification, but in the
,believer’s apprehension it is otherwise: I can only ascertain God’s
justifying of me, by making sure I have within the fruits of His sanctifying
me. I must study the effects to discover the cause. In like manner, God
elects before He calls, or regenerates, but I have to make my calling “sure”
in order to obtain evidence of my election: see

2 Peter 1:10. There are
many who give no sign of God’s law being written in their hearts, who
nevertheless claim to have bad their sins forgiven by Him; but such are
sadly deceived. Scripture entitles none to regard themselves as Divinely
pardoned save those who have been saved from self-will and self-pleasing.
“And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” These words must
not be understood to signify that the sins of God’s people have vanished
from His essential mind, but rather that they will never be recalled by Him
as He exercises His office as Judge. Our Substitute having already
discharged our liabilities and Justice having been fully satisfied, payment
cannot be demanded twice over.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in
Christ Jesus” (

Romans 8:1)..144
This is the negative side of the believer’s justification, that his sins are not
reckoned to his account; the positive aspect is that the perfect law-righteousness
of Christ is imputed to him.
“Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin”
(verse 18).
Here the apostle draws the irrefutable conclusion from the premises he had
so fully established. Before pondering it, let us give a brief summary of
these wonderful verses. First, the everlasting covenant is the foundation of
all God’s gracious dealings with His elect. Second, that eternal compact
between the Father and the Mediator is now being administered under the
“new covenant.’’ Third, the design of this covenant is not to set apart a
people unto external holiness only, but to so sanctify them that they should
be holy in heart and life. Fourth, this sanctification of the elect is effected
by the communication of effectual grace unto them for their conversion and
obedience, which is here (under a figure) spoken of as God’s putting His
laws into their hearts and writing them in their minds. Fifth, this practical
sanctification is God’s continuation of that work of grace which He begins
in us at regeneration — our glorification is the completing of the same, for
then the last remains of sin will be removed from us, and we shall be
perfectly conformed to the image of His Son.
“Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.” These
words give the apostle’s application of the Scripture quoted from Jeremiah,
which was made for the express purpose of demonstrating the perfection of
Christ’s sacrifice. The conclusion is irresistible: the one offering of Christ
has secured that the grace of the everlasting covenant shall be
communicated unto all of those for whom He died, both in the sanctifying
and justifying of their persons. Since then their sins are all gone from
before the face of God, no further sacrifice is needed..145
CHAPTER 50
ACCESS TO GOD
(

HEBREWS 10:19-23)
The verses which are now to engage our attention contain the apostle’s
transition from the doctrinal to the practical part of the epistle, for
privileges and duties are never to be separated. Having at great length
discoursed upon the priestly office of Christ in the foregoing part of the
epistle, he now sums up in a few words the scope and substance of a!l he
had been saying (verses 19-21), and then draws the plain inference from
the whole (verse 22). Like a wise master-builder, he first digs till he comes
to the foundation, and then calls himself and others to build upon it with
confidence. Having demonstrated the vast superiority of Christianity over
Judaism, the apostle now exhorts his Christian readers to avail themselves
of all their blessed advantages and enjoy the great privileges which have
been conferred upon them.
“The apostle’s great argument is concluded, and the result is placed before
us in a very short summary. We have boldness to enter into the holiest by
the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way; and we have in the heavenly
sanctuary a great Priest over the house of God. All difficulties have been
removed, perfectly and forever. We have access; and He who is the way is
also the end of the way; He is even now our great Priest, interceding for
us, and our all-sufficient Mediator, providing us with every needful help.
“On this foundation rests a threefold exhortation.
1. Let us draw near with a true heart, in the full assurance of faith.
2. Let us hold fast the profession of hope without wavering.
3. Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good
works, laboring and waiting together, and helping one another in the
unity of brethren. Faith, hope, and love — this is the threefold result of
Christ’s entrance into heaven, spiritually discerned. A believing,.146
hoping, and loving attitude of heart corresponds to the new covenant
revelation of Divine grace” (Adolph Saphir).
“In these words the apostle enters on the last part of the epistle,
which is wholly hortatory. For though there be some occasional
intermixtures of doctrine consonant to those which are insisted on
before, yet the professed design of the whole remainder of the
epistle is to propose to, and press on the Hebrews such duties of
various sorts, as the truths he had insisted on, do direct unto, and
make necessary to all that believe. And in all his exhortations there
is a mixture of the ground of the duties exhorted to, of their
necessity, and of the privilege which we have in being admitted to
them, and accepted with them, all taken from the priesthood and
sacrifice of Christ, with the effects of them, and the benefits which
we receive thereby” (John Owen).
The same order of Truth may be clearly seen in other epistles of the apostle
Paul. In Romans, the first eleven chapters are devoted to doctrinal
exposition, the next four being practical, setting forth the Christian’s
duties: see

Romans 12:1. Likewise in Ephesians: the first three chapters
set forth the sovereign grace of God, the last three the Christian’s
responsibilities: see

Hebrews 4:1. From this the teacher and preacher
may gather important instruction, showing him how to handle the Word, so
that the whole man may be edified. The understanding needs to be
enlightened, the conscience searched and comforted, the heart inflamed,
the will moved, the affections well ordered. Nothing but doctrine, will
produce a cold and conceited people; nothing but exhortation, a
discouraged and ill-instructed people.
“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by
the blood of Jesus” (verse 19).
“The preceding part of this epistle has been chiefly occupied with
stating, proving, and illustrating some of the grand peculiarities of
Christian doctrine: and the remaining part of it is entirely devoted
to an injunction and enforcement of those duties which naturally
result from the foregoing statements. The paragraph verses 19-23,
obviously consists of two parts: — a statement of principles, which
are taken for granted as having been fully proved; and an injunction
of duties grounded on the admission of these principles” (J.
Brown)..147
The great privilege which is here announced unto Christians is that they
may draw near unto God as accepted worshippers. This privilege is
presented under a recapitulation of the principal points which the apostle
had been treating of, namely, first, Christians have liberty to enter the
presence of God (verse 19). Second, a way has been prepared for them so
to do (verse 20). Third, a Guide is provided to direct them in that way
(verse 21). These three points are here amplified by showing the nature of
this “liberty”: it is with “boldness,” to enter the presence of God, and that
by virtue of Christ’s blood. The “way” is described as a “new” and “living”
one, and it is ready for our use because Christ has “consecrated” it. The
“Guide” is presented by His function, “priest”; His dignity, “great”; His
authority, “over the house of God.”
“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood
of Jesus.” To “enter into the holiest” is, as verse 22 shows, to “draw near”
unto God in Christ, for “no one cometh unto the Father but by Him”
(

John 14:6). The “Holiest” here is only another name for Heaven, the
dwelling-place of God, being designated so in this instance because the
holy of holies in the tabernacle and the temple was the type thereof. This is
established by what was before us in

Hebrews 9:24,
“For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, the
figures of the true; but into heaven itself.”
It is most blessed to link with

Hebrews 10:19 what is said in

Hebrews 9:12: “by His own blood He entered in once into the holy
place”; the title of the members of His body for entering in the Sanctuary
on high, is the same as that of their Head’s!
The boldness to “enter into the holiest” which is spoken of in our text is
not to be limited to the Christian’s going to heaven at death or at the return
of the Savior, but is to be understood as referring to that access unto God
in spirit, and by faith, which he now has. Here again we see the tremendous
contrast from the conditions obtaining under the old and the new
covenants. Under Judaism as such, the Israelites were rigidly excluded
from drawing nigh unto Jehovah; His dwelling-place was sealed against
them. Nay, even the Levites, privileged as they were to minister in the
tabernacle, were barred from the holy of holies. But now the right has been
accorded unto all who partake of the blessings of the new covenant, to
enjoy free access unto God, to draw near unto His throne as supplicants, to
enter His temple as worshippers, to sit at His table as happy children..148
Most blessedly was this set forth by Christ in the close of that remarkable
parable in Luke 15. There we find the prodigal — having “come to
himself” — saying, “I will arise and go to my Father.” He arose and went,
and where do we find him? Outside the door, or looking in at the window?
No, but inside the House. Sovereign grace had given him boldness to
“enter.” And why not? Having confessed his sins, he had received the
“kiss” of reconciliation, and the “best robe” had been placed upon him, and
thus he was fitted to enjoy the Father’s house. In perfect accord with our
Lord’s teaching in that parable, we have been told here in Hebrews 10 that
“by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified,” and
because of this, God has put His laws into their hearts, written them upon
their minds, and avowed that their sins and iniquities He would “remember
no more.”
Here, then, is the force of the “therefore” in our present verse. Inasmuch as
Christ’s satisfaction has removed every legal obstacle, and inasmuch as the
work of the Spirit in the Christian has made him
“meet to be partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light”
(

Colossians 1:12),
there is not only nothing to hinder, but every reason and motive to induce
us to draw near unto God and pour out our hearts before Him in
thanksgiving, praise, and worship. In

Hebrews 4:16 we are invited to
“come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find
grace to help in time of need”; but here in

Hebrews 10:19-22 it is
worship which is more specifically in view — entrance into “the holiest,”
which was the place of worship and communion, see

Numbers 7:89.
A further word of explanation needs to be given on the term “boldness.”
Saphir rightly pointed out that this expression “must be understood here
objectively, not subjectively, else the subsequent exhortation would be
meaningless”; in other words, the reference is to something outside
ourselves and not to a condition of heart. Literally, the Greek signifies
“Having therefore, brethren, boldness for entrance into the holiest,” and
hence, some have rendered it “the right of entrance.” Most probably the
word is designed to point a double contrast from conditions under the old
covenant. Those under it had a legal prohibition against entering the sacred
abode of Jehovah, but Christians have a perfect title to do so. Again, those
under Judaism were afraid to do so, whereas faith now perceives that we
may come to God with the fullest assurance because He has accepted us.149
“in the Beloved” (

Ephesians 1:6). There is no valid reason why we
should hesitate to draw near unto our Father in perfect freedom of spirit.
“By the blood of Jesus.” This is the meritorious cause which procures the
Christian’s right of entrance into the “Holiest” — the place where all the
tokens of God’s grace and glory are displayed (

Hebrews 9:3, 4). The
blood of the Jewish sacrifices did not and could not obtain such liberty of
access into the immediate presence of God. The blood of Jesus has done
so, both in respect unto God as an oblation, and in respect unto the
consciences of believers by its application. As an oblation or sacrifice, the
atonement of Christ has removed every legal obstacle between God and
believers. It fulfilled the demands of His law, removed its curse, and broke
down the “middle wall of partition”; in token whereof, the veil of the
temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom, when the Savior
expired. So too the Holy Spirit has so applied the efficacy of the blood to
the consciences of Christians that they are delivered from a sense of guilt,
freed from their dread of God, and enabled to approach Him in a spirit of
liberty.
“By a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us,
through the veil, that is to say, His flesh” (verse 20).
This presents to us the second inducement and encouragement for
Christians to avail themselves and make use of the unspeakable privilege
which Christ has secured for them. In order to understand these verses, it is
necessary to bear in mind that N.T. privileges are here expressed in the
O.T. dialect. The highest privilege of fallen man is to have access unto the
presence of God, his offended Lord and Sovereign: the only way of
approach is through Christ, of whom the tabernacle (and the temple) was
an illustrious type. In allusion to those figures Christ is here presented to
our faith in a threefold view.
First, as a gate or door, by which we enter into the Holiest. No sooner had
Adam sinned, than the door of access to the majesty of God was bolted
against him, and all his posterity, the cherubim with the flaming sword
standing in his way (

Genesis 3:24). But now the flaming sword of
justice being quenched in the blood of the Surety (

Zechariah 13:7), the
door of access is again wide open. The infinite wisdom of God has devised
a way how His “banished” may be brought home again to His presence.
(

2 Samuel 14:14), namely, through the satisfaction of Christ..150
Second, to encourage us in our approaches to God in Christ. He is also
presented to us under the figure of “a new and living way, which He hath
consecrated for us.”
“Having told us that we have ‘an entrance into the holiest,’ he now
declares what the way is whereby we may do so. The only way into
the holiest under the tabernacle was a passage with blood through
the sanctuary, and then a turning aside of the veil. But the whole
church was forbidden the use of this way, and it was appointed for
no other end but typically, that in due time there should be a way
opened unto believers into the presence of God, which was not yet
prepared. And this the apostle describes.
1. From the preparation of it: ‘which He hath consecrated.’
2. From the properties of it: it was a ‘new and living way.’
3. From the tendency of it, which he expresseth, first, typically, or with
respect unto the old way under the tabernacle: it was ‘through the veil.’
Secondly, in an exposition of that type: ‘that is, His flesh.’ In the
whole, there is a description of the exercise of faith in our access unto
God by Christ Jesus” (John Owen).
In the previous verse it was declared that heaven has been opened unto the
people of God. But here Christ is set forth more as the antitype of that
“ladder” (

Genesis 28:12,

John 1:51), which, being set up on earth,
reaches to heaven. In this respect Christ is styled “the Way, the Truth and
the Life” (

John 14:6), for He is the only true “way” which conducts
unto God. That “way” is variously referred to in Scripture as the “way of
life” (

Proverbs 10:17), the “way of holiness” (

Isaiah 35:8), the
“good way” (

Jeremiah 6:16), the “way of peace” (

Luke 1:79), the
“way of salvation” (

Acts 16:17). All of these refer to the same thing,
namely, the only path unto heaven. Christ Himself is that “way” in a
twofold sense: first, when the heart turns away from every other object
which competes for the first place in its affections, abandons all confidence
in its own righteousness, and lays hold of the Savior. Second, when grace
is diligently sought to take Christ as our Exemplar, following “His steps” in
the path of unreserved and joyful obedience to God.
The “way” to God is here said to be “a new and living” one. The word for
“new” is really “newly slain,” for the simple verb “occido” from which it is
compounded signifies “to slay.” The avenue of approach to God has been.151
opened unto us because Christ was put to death in this way. But this word
“new” is not to be taken absolutely, as though this “way” had no existence
previously to the death of Christ, for all the O.T. saints had passed along it
too. No, it was neither completely “new” as to its contrivance, revelation,
or use. Why then is it called “new”? In distinction from the old way of life
under the covenant of works, in keeping with the new covenant, because it
was now only made fully manifest (

Ephesians 3:5), and because of its
perennial vigor — it will never grow old.
This “way” unto God is also said to be a “living” one, and this for at least
three reasons.
First, in opposition unto the way to God under Judaism, which was by the
death of an animal, and was the cause of death unto any who used it,
excepting the high priest.
Second, because of its perpetual efficacy: it is not a lifeless thing, but has a
spiritual and vital power in our access to God.
Third, because of its effects: it leads to life, and effectually brings us
thereunto.
“It is called a living way, because all that symbolizes Christ must be
represented as possessing vitality. Thus we read of Him as the
living stone, the living bread, etc.” (Adolph Saphir).
Probably this epithet also looks to Christ’s resurrection: though slain, the
grave could not hold Him; He is now “alive for evermore,” and by working
in His people repentance, faith, and obedience, conducts them safely
through unto life everlasting.
This new and living way unto God has been “consecrated for us” by Christ.
It is a path consecrated by Him for the service and salvation of man; a way
of access to the eternal sanctuary for the sinner which has been set apart by
the Redeemer for this service of men” (A. Barnes). As Christ Himself is the
“way,” the meaning would be, that He has dedicated Himself for the use of
sinners in their dealings with God — “for their sakes I sanctify Myself”
(

John 17:19). As the “way” is also to be regarded as the path which we
are called upon to follow through this world as we journey to heaven,
Christ has “consecrated” or fitted it for our use by leaving us an example
that we should follow His steps — “when He putteth forth His own sheep,
He goeth before them” (

John 10:4)..152
“The phrase ‘consecrated for us’ giveth us to understand that
Christ hath made the way to heaven fit for us, and this by His three
offices. First, as a Priest, He hath truly dedicated it, and that by His
own blood, as by the blood of sacrifices things were consecrated
under the law. Christ by His blood has taken away our sins, which
made the way to heaven impassible. Second, as a Prophet, He hath
revealed and made known this way to us. This He did while He was
on earth, by Himself; and since His taking into heaven, He hath
done it by His ministers (

Ephesians 4:11). Third, as a King, He
causes the way to be laid out, fenced in, and made common for all
His people; so as it may well be styled the King’s highway”
(William Gouge).
“Through the veil, that is to say, His flesh.” It is through the humanity of
Christ that the way to heaven has been opened, renewed and consecrated.
But prior to His death, the very life which was lived by the man Christ
Jesus only served to emphasize the awful distance which sinners were from
God, just as the beautiful veil in the tabernacle shut out the Israelite from
His presence. Moreover, the humanity of Christ was a sin-bearing one, for
the iniquities of His people had all been imputed to Him. While, then, the
flesh of Christ was uncrucified, proof was before the eyes of men that the
curse was not abolished. As long as He tabernacled in this world, it was
evident that sin was not yet put away. The veil must be rent, Christ must
die, before access to God was possible. When God rent the veil of the
temple, clear intimation was given that every hindrance had been removed,
and that the way was opened into His presence.
“And having an High Priest over the house of God” (verse 21).
Here is the third great privilege of the Christian, the third inducement
which is presented to him for approaching unto God, the third character in
which Christ is presented unto faith. Whereas it might be objected that
though the door be opened and a new and living way consecrated, yet we
are too impotent to walk therein, or too sinful to enter into the holiest;
therefore, to obviate this, Christ is now set forth as Priest over the house of
God. O what encouragement is here! As Priest Christ is “ordained for men
in things pertaining to God” (

Hebrews 5:1). He is a living Savior within
the veil, interceding for His people, maintaining their interests before the
Father..153
“And having an High Priest over the house of God.” The opening “And”
shows that the contents of this verse form a link in the chain begun in verse
19, so that they furnish a further ground to help us in approaching unto
God. The next word “having,” while not in the Greek, is obviously
understood, and as the principal verb (needed to complete the sentence) is
fetched from verse 19. The adjective should be rendered “great” and not
“high”: it is not a relative term, in comparison with other priests; but an
absolute one, denoting Christ’s dignity and excellency: He is “great” in His
person, in His worthiness, in His position, in His power, in His compassion.
To show for whom in particular Christ is the great Priest, it is here added
“over the house of God.”
“The apostle doth not here consider the sacrifice of Christ, but
what He is and doth after His sacrifice, now that He is exalted in
heaven; for this was the second part of the office of the high priest.
The first was to offer sacrifice for the people, the other was to take
the oversight of the house of God: see

Zechariah 3:6, 7 —
Joshua being an eminent type of Christ” (John Owen).
The “house of God” represents the whole family of God both of heaven
and earth: compare

Hebrews 3:6. The church here below is what is first
comprised in this expression for it is unto it that this encouragement is
given, and unto whom this motive of drawing nigh is proposed. But as it is
in the heavenly sanctuary that Christ now ministers, and into which we
enter by our prayers and spiritual worship, so the “house of God” includes
both the church militant and the church triumphant.
When it is said that Christ is “over the house of God,” it is His headship,
lordship, authority, which is in view. The Lord Christ presides over the
persons, duties, and worship of believers. In that all their acceptable
worship is of His appointment; in that He assists the worshippers by His
Spirit for the performance of every duty; in that He directs the government
of the church, ordains its officers, and administers its laws; in that He
makes their service acceptable with God. He is King in Zion, wielding the
scepter, protecting the interests of His church, and, according to His
pleasure, overthrowing its enemies. It is the Lord who adds to the church
those who are to be saved. He is the alone Head, and as the wife is to be
subject to her husband in all things, so the members of Christ’s mystical
body are to own no other Lord. From Him we are to take our orders; unto
Him we must yet render an account..154
“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having
our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies
washed with pure water” (verse 22).
Having described the threefold privilege which Christians have been
granted, the apostle now points out the threefold duty which is entailed;
the first of which is here in view, namely, to enter the Holiest, to draw near
unto God, as joyful worshippers. To “draw near” unto God is a sacerdotal
act, common to all the saints, who are made priests unto God”
(

Revelation 1:6): the Greek word expressing the whole performance of
all Divine worship, approaching unto the Most High to present their
praises and petitions, both publicly and privately.
“To draw near to God is an act of the heart or mind, whereby the
soul, under the influence of the Spirit, sweetly, and irresistibly
returns to God in Christ as its only center of rest. There is a
constant improvement of the merit and mediation of Christ in every
address made to the Majesty on high. The believer, as it were, fixes
himself in the cleft of the Rock of ages; he gets into the secret place
of the blessed stair, by which we ascend unto heaven; and then he
lifts up his voice in drawing near to God, by the new and living
way. He says with David ‘I will go unto the altar of God, unto God
my exceeding joy.’ And if God hides His face, the soul will wait,
and bode good at His hand, saying, ‘hope thou in God, for I shall
yet praise Him: He will command His loving kindness in the
daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me.’ And if the
Lord smiles and grants an answer of peace, he will not ascribe his
success to his own faith or fervor, but unto Christ alone”
(Condensed from Eben. Erskine, 1733).
“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.” This is the
requisite manner in which we must approach unto God. It is not sufficient
to assume a reverent posture of body, or worship with our lips only; nor is
God honored when we give way to unbelief. A “true heart” is opposed to a
double, doubting, distrustful, and hypocritical heart. All dissimilation is to
be avoided in our dealings with Him who “trieth the hearts and the reins”
and “whose eyes are like a flame of fire.”
God desireth truth in the inward parts, and therefore, “Son, give Me thine
heart” (

Proverbs 23:26) is His first demand upon us. Nothing short of
this will ever satisfy Him. But more; there must be “a true heart”: a sincere,.155
genuine, honest desire and determination to render unto Him that which is
His due. We cannot impose upon Him. Beautiful language designed for the
ears of men, or emotional earnestness which is only for effect, does not
deceive God.
“God is spirit; and they that worship Him, must worship in spirit
and in truth” (

John 4:24).
How this condemns those who rest satisfied with the mere outward
performance of duty, and those who are content to substitute an imposing
ritual for real heart dealings with God! O to be able to say with David,
“with my whole heart have I sought Thee.”
“In full assurance of faith”: which means, negatively, without doubting or
wavering; positively, with unshaken confidence — not in myself, nor in my
faith, but in the merits of Christ, as giving the unquestionable title to draw
near unto the thrice holy God. “Full assurance of faith” points to the heart
resting and relying upon the absolute sufficiency of the blood of Christ
which was shed for my sins, and the efficacy of His present intercession to
maintain my standing before God. Faith looks away from self, and eyes the
great Priest, who takes my feeble praise or petitions, and, purifying and
perfuming them with His own sweet incense (

Revelation 8:3, 4),
renders them acceptable to God. But let not Satan deter any timid child of
God from drawing near unto Him because fearful that he neither possesses
a “true heart” or “full assurance of faith.” No, if he cannot consciously
come with them, then let him earnestly come unto the throne of grace for
them.
“Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies
washed with pure water.” Here we have a description of the characters of
those who are qualified or fitted to enter the Holiest. A twofold
preparation is required in order to draw near unto God: the individual must
have been both justified and sanctified. Here those two Divine blessings are
referred to under the typical terms which obtained during the old covenant.
“Having your hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience.” The Jewish
cleansing or “sprinkling” with blood related only to that which was eternal,
and could not make the conscience perfect (

Hebrews 9:9); but the
sacrifice of Christ was designed to give peace to the troubled mind and
confidence before God. An “evil conscience” is one that accuses of guilt
and oppresses because of unpardoned sin. It is by the exercise of faith in.156
the sufficiency of the atoning blood of Christ — the Spirit applying
experimentally its efficacious virtue — the conscience is purged. “Being
justified by faith, we have peace with God” (

Romans 5:1): we are freed
from a sense of condemnation, and the troubled heart rests in Christ.
“And our bodies washed with pure water.” This figurative language is an
allusion to the cleansing of the priests when they were consecrated to the
service of God (

Exodus 29:4). The antitypical fulfillment of this is
defined in

Titus 3:5 as “the washing of regeneration and renewing of
the Holy Spirit.” But here the emphasis is thrown on the outward effects of
regeneration upon the daily life of the believer. We need both an internal
and an external purification; therefore are we exhorted, “let us cleanse
ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the
fear of God” (

2 Corinthians 7:1). The sanctity of the body is
emphatically enjoined in Scripture: see

Romans 12:1;

1 Corinthians
6:16, 20.
The whole of this 22nd verse contains most important teaching on the
practical side of communion with God. While the first reference in the
cleansing of the conscience and the washing of the body be to the initial
experience of the Christian at his new birth, yet they are by no means to be
limited thereto. There is a constant cleansing needed, if we are to
consciously draw near to the holy God. Daily do we need to confess our
sins, that we may be daily pardoned and “cleansed from all
unrighteousness” (

1 John 1:9). An uneasy conscience is as real a barrier
to fellowship with Jehovah, as ceremonial defilement was to a Jew. So too
our walk needs to be incessantly washed with the water of the Word (John
13). The Levitical priests were not only washed at the time of induction
into their holy office, but were required to wash their hands and feet every
time they entered the sacred sanctuary (

Exodus 30:19, 20).
It is just at this very point that there is so much sad failure today. There is
so little exercise of heart before God; so feeble a realization of His high and
holy requirements; so much attempting to rush into His presence without
any previous preparation.
“Due preparation, by fresh applications of our souls unto the
efficacy of the blood of Christ for the purification of our hearts,
that we may be meet to draw nigh to God, is required of us. This
the apostle hath special respect to, and the want of it is the bane of
public worship. Where this is not, there is no due reverence of God,.157
no sanctification of His name, nor any benefit to be expected unto
our own souls” (John Owen)..158
CHAPTER 51
CHRISTIAN PERSEVERANCE
(

HEBREWS 10:23, 24)
The verses which are now to be before us are a continuation of those
which we pondered in our last article, the whole forming a practical
application to the doctrine which the apostle had been expounding in the
body of this Epistle. In verses 17-21 a summary is given of the inestimable
blessings and privileges which Christ has secured for His people, namely,
their sins and iniquities being blotted out from before the face of the Judge
of all (verses 17, 18), the title to approach unto God as acceptable
worshippers (verses 19-21), the Divine provision for their spiritual
maintenance: a great Priest over the house of God (verse 21). Then, in
verses 22-24 the duties and responsibilities of Christians are briefly
epitomized, and that, in such terms as we may the better perceive the
intimate connection between the results secured by the great Oblation and
the corresponding obligations on its beneficiaries.
The passage we are now engaged with is a hortatory one. As we pointed
out in our last, the method which is generally followed by the Holy Spirit is
to first display the riches of Divine grace, and then to set forth the response
which becomes its objects. So it is here. All that is found in verses 22-24
looks back to and derives its force from the “therefore” at the beginning of
verse 19. There is a threefold privilege named: Divine grace has given
freedom unto all Christians to approach the heavenly mercy-seat (verse
19); it has bestowed this title through Christ’s having “consecrated” for
them the way into God’s presence (verse 20); and this blessing is
permanent, because there abides a great Priest to mediate for them (verse
21). Agreeing thereto, there is a threefold responsibility resting upon the
saint, set forth thus: “let us draw near” (verse 22), “let us hold fast the
profession of our faith” (verse 23), “let us consider one another to provoke
unto love” (verse 24).
The first part of this threefold exhortation matches the first blessing named
in the preceding verses: because the all-sufficient sacrifice of Christ has.159
made a perfect and effectual atonement for all the sins of His people,
(thereby removing the one great legal barrier which excluded them from
the presence of the thrice Holy One), let them freely draw near unto their
reconciled God, without fear or doubting. The second part of this
exhortation agrees with the second great blessing specified: since Christ
has “consecrated for us” a new and living way in which to walk, having left
us an example that we should follow His steps, “let us hold fast the
profession of our faith without wavering.” The third member of the
composite exhortation corresponds to the third privilege enumerated: since
we have a great Priest over the house of God, “let us consider one another
to provoke unto love and good works,” and thus conduct ourselves
becomingly as in His house.
The order in the three parts of this exhortation calls for our closest
attention. The first, treats of our relation to God: the worshipping of Him
in spirit and in truth, and in order to do this, the maintaining of a good
conscience and the separating of ourselves from all that pollutes. The
second, deals with our conduct before men in the world: the refusal to be
poisoned by their unbelief and lawlessness, and this by a steady
perseverance in the path of duty. The third, defines our responsibility
toward fellow-Christians: the mortifying of a selfish spirit, by keeping
steadily in view the highest welfare of our brethren and sisters, seeking to
encourage them by a godly example, and thus stirring them up unto holy
diligence and zeal both God-ward and man-ward. Thus we may see how
very comprehensive is the scope of this exhortation, and admire its
beautiful arrangement. How much we often miss through failing to
carefully note the connection of Scripture!
“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering: For
He is faithful that promised” (verse 23).
There is some uncertainty as to the Greek here: some manuscripts having
“faith” others “hope”; both the R.V. and Bag. Inter. have “the confession
of our (the) hope.” It seems to us that the A.V. is to be preferred, for while
it is true that if we adopt the alternative, we then have “faith” verse 22,
“hope” in verse 23, and “love” in verse 24, yet this is more than offset by
the weighty fact that perseverance in the faith is the theme which is
steadily followed by the apostle not only throughout the remainder of this
10th chapter, but also throughout the 11th. We shall therefore adhere to.160
our present version, excepting that “confession” is preferable to
“profession.”
“Let us hold fast the profession of faith without wavering.” The
duty here pressed is the same as that which the apostle has spoken
of in each parenthesis in his argument (compare

Hebrews 2:13;
3:6 to

Hebrews 4:12; 5:11 to 6:20): the doctrinal section giving
force and power unto it. “Faith is here taken in both the principal
acceptations of it, namely, that faith whereby we believe, and the
faith or doctrine which we do believe. Of both which we make the
same profession: of one, as the inward principle; of the other, as the
outward rule. This solemn profession of our faith is two-fold:
initial, and by the way of continuation in all the acts and duties
required thereunto. The first is a solemn giving up of ourselves
unto Christ, in a professed subjection unto the Gospel, and the
ordinances of Divine worship therein contained” (John Owen).
“Let us hold fast the profession of faith without wavering.” Three
questions here call for consideration, namely:
First, what is meant by “the confession of our faith?”
Second, what is signified by “holding it fast?”
Third, what is denoted by holding it fast “without wavering?” As the
theme here treated of is of such vital importance, and as it is dealt with
so very unsatisfactorily by many present-day preachers, we will
endeavor to exercise double care as the Spirit is pleased to enable us.
The “confession of our faith” is that solemn acknowledgment which is
made by a person when he publicly claims to be a Christian. It is the
avowal that he has renounced the world, the flesh, and the devil, for Christ.
It is the declaration that he disowns his own wisdom, righteousness and
will, and receives the Lord Jesus as his Prophet, Priest and King: his
Prophet to instruct him in the will of God, his Priest to meet for him the
claims of God, his King to administer in and over him the government of
God. It is the owning that he hates sin and desires to be delivered from its
power and penalty; that he loves holiness and longs to be conformed to the
image of God’s Son. It is the claiming that he has thrown down the
weapons of his warfare against God, and has now completely surrendered
to His just demands upon him. It is the testification that he is prepared to
deny self, take up his cross daily, and follow that example which Christ has.161
left him as to how to live for God in this world. In a word, it is the
publishing abroad that he has from his very heart “received Christ Jesus the
Lord” (

Colossians 2:6). And let it be said plainly and emphatically, that
no one acknowledging less than this is scripturally entitled to be regarded
as a Christian.
“The apostle spends the whole remainder of the Epistle in the
pressing and confirming of this exhortation, on a compliance
wherewith the eternal condition of our souls doth depend. And this
he doth, partly by declaring the means whereby we may be helped
in the discharge of this duty; partly by denouncing the eternal ruin
and sure destruction that will follow the neglect of it; and partly by
encouragements from their own former experiences, and the
strength of our faith; and partly by evidencing unto us, in a
multitude of examples, how we may overcome the difficulty that
would occur unto us in this way, with other various cogent
reasonings; as we shall see, if God pleaseth, in our progress” (J.
Owen).
To “hold fast the confession of our faith” means to continue in and press
forward along the path we profess to have entered; and that,
notwithstanding all the threats of persecutors, sophistical reasonings of
false teachers, and allurements of the world. Your very safety depends
upon this, for if you deny the faith you are “worse than an infidel” who has
never professed it. God plainly warns us that if after we have escaped the
pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior
Jesus Christ, we are again entangled therein and overcome, then,
“the latter end is worse with them than the beginning: For it had
been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness,
than, after they have known it to turn from the holy commandment
delivered unto them” (

2 Peter 2:20, 21).
It is one thing to make “confession of faith,” it is quite another to “hold
fast” the same; multitudes do the former, exceedingly few the latter. It is
easy to avow myself a Christian, but it is most difficult indeed to live the
life of one.
Concerning the force of the Greek word rendered “hold fast,” John Owen
stated that there is included in the sense of it, “First, a supposition of great
difficulty, with danger and opposition against this holding the profession of.162
our faith. Second, the putting forth of the utmost of our strength and
endeavors in the defense of it. Third, a constant perseverance in it, denoted
by its being termed ‘keep’ in

1 Corinthians 15:2: possess it with
constancy.” If our readers could only realize the mighty power and
inveterate enmity of those enemies who are seeking to destroy them, none
would deem such language too strong. Sin within is ever seeking to
vanquish the Christian. The world without is constantly endeavoring to
draw him away from the path of godliness. Our adversary the Devil is
going about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. That
wonderful allegory of Bunyan’s, by no means overdrew the picture when
he represented the pilgrim as being menaced by mighty giants and a
dreadful Apollyon, which must either be slain by him, or himself be
destroyed by them.
Sad indeed is it to witness so many young professing Christians just
starting out on their arduous journey to Heaven, being told that the words
“He that endureth to the end shall be saved” apply not to them, but only to
the Jews; and that while unfaithfulness on their part will forfeit some
“millennial” crown, yet so long as they have accepted Christ as their
personal Savior, no matter how they must indulge the flesh or fraternize
with the world, Heaven itself cannot be missed. Little wonder that there is
now such a deplorably low standard of Christian living among those who
listen to such soul-ruinous error. Not so did teachers of the past, who
firmly held the eternal security of Christ’s redeemed, pervert that blessed
truth. No, they preserved the balance, by insisting that God only preserved
His people in the path of obedience to Him, and that they who forsake that
path make it evident that they are not His people, no matter what their
profession, and no matter what past “experience” they had.
To illustrate what we have in mind, an article appearing in a recent issue of
a periodical, on the subject of the security of a Christian, begins thus: “The
person who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ as the one who died for all sin
on the cross, and has accepted Him as his own personal Savior, is saved.
And more, can never again, under any circumstances or conditions
whatsoever, no matter what he may do or not do, be lost.” Such an
unqualified, unguarded, unbalanced statement as that is misleading, and
dangerous to the highest degree; the more so, as nothing that follows in the
article in any wise modifies it. But more: stated thus, it is unscriptural.
God’s Word says,.163
“Whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the
rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end” (

Hebrews 3:6).
And again, “if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die” (

Romans 8:13); that
is, die eternally, suffer the “second death,” for “life” and “death”
throughout the epistle of the Romans is eternal.
Such a statement as the above (made thoroughly in good faith, we doubt
not; yet by one who is the unwitting victim of a school of extremists)
leaves completely out of sight the Christian’s responsibility, yea, altogether
repudiates it. Side by side with the blessed truth of Divine preservation, the
Scriptures uniformly put the solemn truth of Christian perseverance. Are
the Lord’s people told that they are
“Kept by the power of God through faith” (

1 Peter 1:5)?
So are they also exhorted to
“keep try heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life”
(

Proverbs 4:23);
“Keep himself unspotted from the world” (

James 1:27);
“keep yourselves from idols” (

1 John 5:21);
“keep yourselves in the love of God” (

Jude 21).
And it is not honest to quote one class of these texts and not quote, with
equal diligence and emphasis, the other.
“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering.” The one-sided
teaching of a certain school today renders such an exhortation as this,
as not only superfluous, but meaningless. If my only concern (as so many
are now affirming) is to trust in the finished work of Christ, and rely upon
the promise of God to take me to Heaven; if I have committed my soul and
its eternal interests into the hands of God, so that it is now only His
responsibility to guard and preserve me; then it is quite unnecessary to bid
me guard myself. How absurd are the reasonings of men, once they depart
from the Truth! As well might I argue that because I have committed my
body into the hands of God, and am counting upon Him to keep me in
health, that therefore no matter how I neglect the laws of health, no matter
what I eat or do not eat, He will infallibly preserve me from sickness and.164
death. Not so; if I drink poison, I shall come to an untimely grave.
Likewise, if I live after the flesh, I shall die.
The apostles believed in no mechanical salvation. They busied themselves
in “confirming the souls of the disciples and exhorting them to continue in
the faith” (

Acts 14:22). According to the lopsided logic of many
teachers today, it is quite un-necessary to exhort Christians to “continue in
the faith”; they will do so. But be not wise above what is written, and deem
not yourselves to be more consistent than the apostles. They
exhorted them all that with purpose of heart they would cleave
unto the Lord” (

Acts 11:23),
yea, “persuaded them to continue in the grace of God” (

Acts 13:43).
The beloved Paul held no such views that, because his converts had been
genuinely saved there was therefore no need for him to be any further
concerned about their eternal welfare: rather did he send Timothy
“to know your faith, lest by some means the Tempter have tempted
you, and our labor be in vain” (

1 Thessalonians 3:5).
So Peter warned the saints,
“Beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked
fall from your own steadfastness” (

2 Peter 3:17).
Should we be asked, Then do you no longer believe in the absolute and
eternal security of the saints? Our answer is, We do, as it is set forth in
Holy Writ; but we most certainly do not believe in that wretched
perversion of it which has now become so current and popular. The
Christian preservation set forth in God’s Word is not merely a remaining
on earth for some time after faith and regeneration have been produced,
and then being admitted, as a matter of course, to Heaven, without a
regard to the moral history of the intervening period. No, Christian
perseverance is a continuing in faith and holiness, a remaining steadfast in
believing and in bringing forth all the fruits of righteousness. It is persisting
in that course which the converted one has entered: a perseverance unto
the end in the exercise of faith and in the practice of godliness. Men who
are influenced more by selfish considerations of their own safety and
security, than they are with God’s commands and precepts, His honor and
glory, are not Christians at all..165
The balance between Divine preservation and human perseverance was
well presented by John Owen when he wrote, “It is true our persistency in
Christ doth not. as to the issue and event, depend absolutely on our own
diligence. The unalterableness of our union with Christ, on the account of
the faithfulness of the covenant of grace, is that which doth and shall
eventually secure it. But yet our own diligent endeavor is such an
indispensable means for that end, as that without it, it will not be brought
about. Diligence and endeavor in this matter are like Paul’s mariners, when
he was shipwrecked at Melita. God had before given him the lives of all
that sailed with him in the ship (

Acts 27:24), and he ‘believed that it
should be even as God had told him.’ So now the preservation of their lives
depended absolutely on the faithfulness and power of God. But yet, when
the mariners began to fly out of the ship, Paul tells the centurion that,
unless the men stayed, they could not be saved (verse 31). But what need
he think of ship-men, when God had promised and taken upon Himself the
preservation of them all? He knew full well that He would preserve them;
but yet that He would do so by the use of means.
“If we are in Christ, God hath given us the lives of our souls, and
hath taken upon Himself, in His covenant, the preservation of them.
But yet we may say, with reference unto the means that He hath
appointed, when storms and trials arise, unless we use our diligent
endeavors, we cannot be saved. Hence are the many cautions which
are given, not only in this epistle, wherein they abound, but in other
places of scripture also, that we should take heed of apostasy and
falling away; as ‘let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he
fall’ (

1 Corinthians 10:12), ‘Hold that fast which thou hast, that
no man take thy crown’ (

Revelation 3:11)… consider what it is
to ‘abide in Christ’: what watchfulness, what diligence, what
endeavor, are required thereunto. Men would have it to be a plant
that needs neither watering, manuring, nor pruning, but one which
will thrive alone of itself. Is it any wonder if we see so many either
decaying or unthrifty professors? and so many that are utterly
turned off from their first engagements!” (Vol. 25, pages 171-173).
From the last two sentences quoted above, we may perceive that the same
evil against which we are here contending — a carnal security, which
Scripture nowhere warrants — had an existence in the palmy days of the
Puritans. Verily there is no new thing under the sun! Nearly three hundred
years ago that faithful teacher and prince of expositors had to protest.166
against the one-sided perversion of the precious truth of the Divine
preservation of the saints. But no wonder: the devil plainly revealed his
methods when he pressed upon Christ the Divine promise that God had
given His angels charge to “bear Thee up,” but the Savior refused to
recklessly ignore the requirements of self-preservation! From John Calvin’s
comments upon

John 8:31 we extract the following: “If, therefore, we
wish that Christ should reckon us to be His disciples, we must endeavor to
persevere.”
Scripture, not logic, is our rule of faith; and not one or two statements
taken out of their contexts, but the whole analogy of faith. Error is truth
perverted, truth distorted, truth out of proportion. To short-sighted human
reason there appears to be a clash between Divine justice and Divine
mercy, between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility, between law
and grace, between faith and good works; but he who is really taught of
the Spirit, is enabled to discern their perfect consistency. “As sorrowful,
yet always rejoicing” (

2 Corinthians 6:10) is a puzzling paradox to the
carnal mind. To read that the Son makes His people “free,” and yet that He
requires them to “take His yoke” upon them, is an enigma unto many. To
“rejoice with trembling” (

Psalm 2:11) seems a contradiction in terms
to some carping minds. No less contradictory appears God’s promise to
keep His people, and His requiring to keep themselves under pain of eternal
damnation. Yet the last mentioned are just as consistent as are the other
things referred to throughout this paragraph.
“For He is faithful that promised.” At first glance it is not very easy
perhaps to perceive the precise relation of these words to the preceding
exhortation: that they are added by way of encouragement seems fairly
obvious, for the more that we spiritually ponder the veracity of the
Promiser, the more will our faith be strengthened; the more we realize that
we have to do with One who cannot lie, the greater confidence shall we
have in His Word. Instead of being unduly occupied with the difficulties of
the way, we need to look off unto Him who has so graciously given us His
“exceeding great and precious promises” (

2 Peter 1:4) to cheer and
gladden us. Yet this hardly explains the immediate connection between the
two parts of this verse, nor does it answer the question as to whether or
not any particular promise is here in view.
“For He is faithful that promised.” Perhaps the bearing which these words
have upon the preceding injunction has been brought out as well by A..167
Barnes as any. “To induce them to hold fast their profession, the apostle
adds this additional consideration. God, who had promised eternal life to
them, was faithful to all that He had said. The argument here is,
(1) That since God is so faithful to us, we ought to be faithful to Him.
(2) The fact that He is faithful is an encouragement to us.
We are dependent on Him for grace to hold fast our profession. If He were
to prove unfaithful, we should have no strength to do it. But this He never
does; and we may be assured that all that He has promised He will
perform. To the service of such a God, therefore, we should adhere
without wavering.”
If we compare

Hebrews 4:1 and

Hebrews 6:15 light is cast upon
what specific “promise” is here contemplated. In the former we read, “Let
us therefore fear, lest a promise being left of entering into His rest, any of
you should seem to come short of it”; in the latter we are told, “And so,
after he (Abraham) had patiently endured (persevered) he obtained the
promise.” It is to be most particularly noted that all through this epistle
“salvation” is viewed as a future thing. This is an aspect of salvation (a
vitally important one too) which is mostly omitted from present-day
preaching and teaching. In the Hebrews (as likewise in the epistles of
Peter) the saints are contemplated as being yet in the wilderness, which is
the place of testing and of danger. It is only those who diligently heed the
solemn warning of

Hebrews 3:12 who win through,
“Take heed brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of
unbelief, in departing from the living God.”
“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good
works” (verse 24).
The opening “And” serves two purposes: it is a plain indication that the
contents of this verse are closely related to what has just been before us; it
is a pointed intimation that we ought to be as considerate and careful about
the spiritual edification of other saints as we are of our own. Thus there are
two things here which claim our consideration: the precise nature of the
duty enjoined, and the connection between it and the exhortation of verse
23..168
“And let us consider one another.” There are no fewer than eleven Greek
words used in the N.T. which are all rendered by our one English term
“consider”: four of them being simple verbs, and seven of them compounds
for the purpose of particular emphasis. The first signifies the serious
observing of a matter:

Acts 15:6; the second a careful deliberation:

Hebrews 7:4; the third, to narrowly spy or investigate as a watchman:

Galatians 6:1; the fourth, to turn a matter over in the mind:

2
Timothy 2:7. The first simple verb is compounded in

Acts 12:12 and
means to seriously consult with one’s self about a matter. The second
simple verb is compounded in

Hebrews 13:7, and means to diligently
review a thing. The fourth simple verb is compounded in

Acts 11:6, and
means to thoroughly weigh a matter so as to come to a full knowledge of
it: this is the one used in our present text. In

Mark 6:52 is a different
compound: the disciples failed to compare things together. In

Hebrews
12:3 another compound signifies to reckon up — all that Christ suffered.
In

John 11:50 is a similar compound: to reckon thoroughly. In

Matthew 6:28 “consider the lilies” means to learn thoroughly so as to
be instructed thereby. The practical lesson to be learned from all this is,
that the things of God call for our utmost attention.
“And let us consider one another:” let us diligently bear in mind and
continually have in view the good of our fellow-pilgrims. The term
“consider” is very emphatic, being the same as in

Hebrews 3:1, where
we are bidden to “Consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession
Christ Jesus.” Here it signifies a conscientious care and circumspection
over the spiritual estate and welfare of other Christians. They are brethren
and sisters in Christ, members of the same family: a tie far nearer and
dearer than any earthly one unites you to them and them to you.
“Consider” not only their blessed relation to you, but also their
circumstances, their trials, their temptations, their infirmities, their needs.
Seek grace to be of service, of help, of blessing to them. Remember that
they have their conflicts too, their discouragements, their falls:
“Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down and the feeble
knees” (

Hebrews 12:12).
“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good
works.” Here is expressed the chief design or end of our consideration for
one another: it is to provoke or stir up unto the performance of duties; to
strengthen zeal, to inflame affections, to excite unto godly living. We are to.169
provoke one another by means of a godly example, by suitable
exhortations, by unselfish acts of kindness. We are to fire one another
“unto love,” which is not a mere sentiment or natural affability, but a holy
principle of action, which seeks the highest good of its object. Christian
love is righteous, and never winks at sin; it is faithful, which shrinks not
from warning or rebuking where such is necessary. “And good works” is to
be the issue, the fruit, of godly love. “And this is love, that we walk after
His commandments” (2 John 6).
The relation between this exhortation in verse 24 and the one in verse 23 is
very intimate. Love and good works are both the effects and evidences of
the sincere confession of saving faith, and therefore a diligent attendance
unto them is an essential means of constancy in our confession. Christian
perseverance is nothing less than a continuance in practical godliness, in
the path of obedience to Christ and love unto His brethren. Therefore are
we called upon to watch over one another with a view to steadfastness in
the faith and fruitfulness in our lives. No Christian liveth unto himself
(

Romans 14:7): each one of us is either a help or a hindrance, a blessing
or a curse unto those we associate with. Which is it? The Lord stir up both
writer and reader to a more unselfish and loving concern for the spiritual
good of those who are fellow-members of the same Body..170
CHAPTER 52
APOSTASY
(

HEBREWS 10:25-27)
We have now reached one of the most solemn and fear-inspiring passages
to be found not only in this epistle, but in all the Word of God. May the
Holy Spirit fit each of our hearts to approach it in that godly trembling
which becomes those who have within their own hearts the seeds of
apostasy. Let it be duly considered at the outset that the verses which are
now to be before us were addressed not to those who made no profession
of being genuine Christians, but instead, unto them whom the Spirit of
truth owned as “holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling”
(

Hebrews 3:1). Nevertheless, He now dehorts them from stepping over
the brink of that awful precipice which was before them, and faithfully
warns of the certain destruction which would follow did they do so.
Instead of replying to this with arguments drawn from the eternal security
of God’s saints, let us seek grace to honestly face the terrible danger which
menaces each of us while we remain in this world of sin, and to use all
necessary means to avoid so fearful and fatal a calamity.
In the past, dear reader, there have been thousands who were just as
confident that they had been genuinely saved and were truly trusting in the
merits of the finished work of Christ to take them safely through to
Heaven, as you may be; nevertheless, they are now in the torments of Hell.
Their confidence was a carnal one; their “faith,” no better than that which
the demons have. Their faith was but a natural one which rested on the
bare letter of Scripture. It was not a supernatural one, wrought in the heart
by God. They were too confident that their faith was a saving one, to
thoroughly, searchingly, frequently, test it by the Scriptures, to discover
whether or no it was brining forth those fruits which are inseparable from
the faith of God’s elect. If they read an article like this, they proudly
concluded that it belonged to some one else. So cocksure were they that
they were born again so many years ago, they refused to heed the
command of

2 Corinthians 13:5 “Prove your own selves.” And now it is.171
too late. They wasted their day of opportunity, and the “blackness of
darkness” is their portion forever.
In view of this solemn and awful fact, the writer earnestly calls upon
himself and each reader to get down before God and sincerely cry, “Search
me, O God: reveal me to myself. If I am deceived, undeceive me ere it be
eternally too late. Enable me to measure myself faithfully by Thy Word, so
that I may discover whether or no my heart has been renewed, whether I
have abandoned every course of self-will and truly surrendered to Thee;
whether I have so repented that I hate all sin, and fervently long to be free
from its power, loathe myself and seek diligently to deny myself; whether
my faith is that which overcomes the world (

1 John 5:4), or whether it
be only a mere notional thing which produces no godly living; whether I
am a fruitful branch of the vine, or only a cumberer of the ground; in short,
whether I be a new creature in Christ, or only a painted hypocrite.” If I
have an honest heart, then I am willing, yea anxious to face and know the
real truth about myself.
Perhaps some readers are ready to say, I already know the truth about
myself: I believe what God’s Word tells me: I am a sinner, with no good
thing dwelling in me; my only hope is in Christ. Yes, dear friend, but Christ
saves His people from their sins. Christ sends His Holy Spirit into their
hearts, so that they are radically changed from what they were previously.
The Holy Spirit sheds abroad the love of God in the hearts of those He
regenerates, and that love is manifested by a deep desire and sincere
determination to please Him who loves me. When Christ saves a soul, He
saves not only from Hell, but from the power of sin; He delivers him from
the dominion of Satan, and from the love of the world; He delivers him
from the fear of man, the lusts of the flesh, the love of self. True He has
not yet completed this blessed work. True, the sinful nature is not yet
eradicated, but one who is saved has been delivered from the dominion of
sin (

Romans 6:14). Salvation is a supernatural thing, which changes the
heart, renews the will, transforms the life, so that it is evident to all around
that a miracle of grace has been wrought.
Thus, it is not sufficient for me to ask have I repudiated my own
righteousness, have I renounced all my good works to fit me for heaven,
am I trusting alone to Christ? Many will earnestly and sincerely affirm these
things, who yet give no evidence that they have passed from death unto
life. Then what more is necessary for me to ascertain whether or no my.172
faith be a truly saving one? This, there are certain things which
“accompany salvation” (

Hebrews 6:9), things which are inseparable
from it; and for these I must look, and be sure I have them. A bundle of
wood that sends forth neither heat nor smoke, has no fire under it. A tree,
which in summer, bears neither fruit nor leaves, is dead. So a faith which
does not issue in godly living, in an obedient walk, in spiritual fruit, is not
the faith of God’s elect. O my reader, I beg you to diligently and faithfully
examine yourself by the light of God’s unerring Word. Claim not to be a
child of Abraham, unless you do the works of Abraham (

John 8:39).
What is apostasy? It is a making shipwreck of the faith (

1 Timothy
1:19). It is the heart’s departure from the living God (

Hebrews 3:12). It
is a returning to and being overcome by the world, after a previous escape
from its pollutions through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus
Christ (

2 Peter 2:20). There are various steps which precede it. First,
there is a looking back (

Luke 9:62), like Lot’s wife, who though she
had outwardly left Sodom, yet her heart was still there. Second, there is a
drawing back (

Hebrews 10:38): the requirements of Christ are too
exacting to any longer appeal to the heart. Third, there is a turning back
(

John 6:66): the path of godliness is too narrow to suit the lustings of
the flesh. Fourth, there is a falling back, which is fatal: “that they might go
and fall backward, and be broken” (

Isaiah 28:13).
“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner
of some, but exhorting; and so much the more, as ye see the day
approaching” (verse 25).
This verse forms the transition between the subject of Christian
perseverance, treated of in verses 23, 24, and that of apostasy, which is
developed in verse 26 and onwards, though it is much more closely related
to the latter than to the former. Most of the commentators are astray on
this point, through failing to observe the absence of the word “And” at the
beginning of it, and because they perceive not the significance of the word
“forsake.” In reality, the contents of this verse form a faithful warning
against apostasy.
First, the Hebrews are cautioned against forsaking public worship.
Second, it is pointed out that “some” had already done so.
Third, they are bidden to exhort one another with increased diligence..173
“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.” Before attempting
exposition of these words, let us first relieve them of a false application
which some seek to make of them today. Just as of old Satan made a
wrong use of

Psalm 91:11, 12 in his tempting of the Savior
(

Matthew 4:6), so he does with the verse before us. Few are aware of
how often the Devil brings a Scripture before our minds. When a Christian
is seeking to be out and out for Christ, the Devil will quote to him “Be not
righteous overmuch” (

Ecclesiastes 7:16); likewise when a child of God
resolves to obey

2 Timothy 3:5 and

Hebrews 13:13 and separate
from all who do not live godly, the Enemy reminds him of “not forsaking
the assembling of ourselves together.” Romanists used the same text in the
early days of the Reformation, and charged Luther and his friends with
disobeying this Divine command. But God’s Word does not contradict
itself: it does not tell us in one place
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers”
(

2 Corinthians 6:14),
and here bid the “sheep” to fraternize with “goats.” When rightly
understood, this verse affords no handle to those who seek to discourage
faithfulness to Christ.
“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.” John Owen rightly
pointed out that, “There is a synecdoche (a part put for the whole) in the
word ‘assembling,’ and it is put for the whole worship of Christ, because
worship was performed in their assemblies; and he that forsakes the
assemblies, forsakes the worship of Christ, as some of them did when
exposed to danger.” What is here dehorted is the total relinquishment of
Christianity. It is not “Cease not to attend the assembly,” but “forsake
not,” abandon not the assembling of yourselves together. It is not the sin
of sloth or of schism which is here considered, but that of apostasy. If a
professing Christian forsook the Christian churches and became a
Mohammedan he would disobey this verse; but for one who puts the honor
of Christ before everything else, to turn his back upon the so-called
churches where He is now so grievously dishonored, is not a failure to
comply with its terms.
The Greek word for “Forsake not” is a very strong and emphatic one,
being a double compound, and signifies “to abandon in time of danger.” It
is the word used by the agonizing Redeemer on the Cross, when He cried,.174
“My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” It was used by Him
again when He declared,
“Thou wilt not leave My soul in hell, neither wilt Thou suffer Thine
Holy One to see corruption” (

Acts 2:27).
It is the word employed by Paul in

2 Timothy 4:10, “Demas hath
forsaken me, having loved this present world.” It is found in only one other
place in this epistle, where it is in obvious antithesis from the verse now
before us:
“He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee”
(

Hebrews 13:5).
Thus it will appear that a total and final abandonment of the public
profession of Christianity is what is here warned against.
One may therefore discern how that verse 25 supplies a most appropriate
link between verses 23, 24 and verse 26. Verse 25 prescribes another
means to enable the wavering Hebrews to remain constant in the Christian
faith. If they were to “hold fast the confession of faith without wavering,”
and if they were to “consider one another to provoke unto love and to
good works,” then they must not “forsake the assembling” of themselves
together. The word for “assembling together” is a double compound, and
occurs elsewhere in the New Testament only in

2 Thessalonians 2:1:
“our gathering together unto Him,” that is unto Christ; this also shows that
the “assembling together” here is under one Head, and that the “forsaking”
is because He has been turned away from.
To enforce the above caution, the apostle adds, “as the manner of some
is.” The Greek word for “manner” signifies “custom,” and is so translated
in

Luke 2:42. This supplies additional confirmation that the evil against
which the Hebrews were dehorted was no mere occasionally absenting
themselves from the Christian churches, but a deliberate, fixed and final
departure from them. In

John 6:66 we read that “From that time many
of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him”; John also
wrote of those who “went out from us, but they were not of us” (

1
John 2:19); whilst at the close of his labors Paul had to say “All they which
are in Asia be turned away from me” (

2 Timothy 1:15). So here, some
who had made a profession of the Christian faith had now abandoned the
same and gone back to Judaism. It was to warn the others against this fatal.175
step that the apostle now wrote as he did — compare

1 Corinthians
10:12,

Romans 11:20.
“But exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day
approaching.” Here is the positive side of our verse. This is another of the
means appointed by God to confirm Christians in their holy confession. To
“exhort one another” is a duty to which all Christians are called; alas, how
rarely is it performed these evil days. Yet, from the human side, such
failure is hardly to be wondered at. The vast majority of professing
Christians wish to be petted and flattered, rather than exhorted and
cautioned. Most of them are so hypersensitive that the slightest criticism
offends them. One who seeks grace to be faithful and to act in true “love”
to those whom he supposes are his brethren and sisters in Christ, has a
thankless task before him, so far as man is concerned — he will soon lose
nearly all his “friends” (?) and sever the “fellowship” (?) which exists
between him and them. But this will only give a little taste of “the
fellowship of His sufferings.”

Hebrews 3:13 is still God’s command!
“And so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” There seems little
room for doubt that the first reference here is to the destruction of the
Jewish commonwealth, which was now very nigh, for this epistle was
written within less than eight years before Jerusalem was captured by
Titus. That terrible catastrophe had been foretold, again and again, by
Israel’s prophets, and was plainly announced by the Lord Jesus in Luke 21.
The approach of that dreadful “day” could be plainly seen or perceived by
those possessing spiritual discernment: the continued refusal of the Nation
to repent of their murder of Christ, and the abandoning of Christianity for
an apostate Judaism by such large numbers, clearly presaged the bursting
of the storm of God’s judgment. This very fact supplied an additional
motive for genuine Christians to remain faithful. The Lord Jesus promised
that His followers should be preserved from the destruction of Jerusalem,
but only as they attended to His cautions in

Luke 21:8, 19, 34, etc.,
only as they persevered in faith and holiness,

Matthew 24:13. The
particular motive unto diligence here set before the Hebrews is applicable
to other Christians just to the extent that they find themselves in similar
circumstances.
“For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge
of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins” (verse 26)..176
The general truth here set forth is that, Should those who have been
converted and become Christians apostatize from Christ their state would
be hopeless. This is presented under the following details. First, because of
the nature of this sin, namely, a deliberate and final abandonment of the
Christian faith. Second, the ones warned against the committal of it. Third,
the terrible aggravation of it did such commit it. Fourth, the
unpardonableness of it.
“For if we sin willfully.” The causal particle whereby this verse is premised
has at least a threefold force. First and more immediately, it points the plain
and inevitable conclusion from what has just been said in verse 25: they
who “forsake” and abandon the Christian assemblies with all that they
stand for, commit a sin for which the sacrifice of Christ avails not. Should
it be said that Scripture declares “the blood of Christ cleanseth from all
sin,” the reply is, that it only says “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son
cleanseth us from all sin,” and none of those spoken of throughout that
verse (

1 John 1:7) ever commit this sin! Moreover, that very same
epistle plainly teaches there is a sin for which the blood of Christ does not
avail: see

1 John 5:16. Second, and more generally, a reason is here
adduced as to why Christians need to heed the exhortations given in verses
22-25: the duties therein prescribed are the means which God has
appointed for preserving His people against this unpardonable crime. Third
and more remotely, a solemn warning is here given against a wrong use
being made of the precious promise recorded in

Hebrews 10:17 — that
blessed declaration is not designed to encourage a course of carelessness
and recklessness.
“For if we sin willfully.” “The word sin here is plainly used in a
somewhat peculiar sense. It is descriptive not of sin generally, but
of a particular kind of sin, — apostasy from the faith and profession
of the truth, once known and professed. ‘The angels that sinned’
are the apostate angels. The apostasy described is not so much an
act of apostasy as a state of apostasy. It is not, ‘If we have sinned,
if we have apostatized’; but ‘If we sin, if we apostatize, if we
continue in apostasy’” (John Brown).
English translators prior to the A.V. read “If we sin willingly,” the change
being made in 1611, to avoid giving countenance to the supposition that
there is no recovery after any voluntary sin. The Greek word will not
permit of this change: the only other occurrence of it in

1 Peter 5:2,.177
clearly gives its scope: “Taking the oversight not by constraint, but
willingly.”
“For if we sin willingly,” that is voluntarily, of our own accord, where no
constraint is used. The reference is to a definite decision, where an
individual deliberately determines to abandon Christ and turn away from
God.
“In the Jewish law, as is indeed the case everywhere, a distinction is
made between sins of oversight, inadvertence, or ignorance
(

Leviticus 4:2, 13, 22; 5:15;

Numbers 15:24, 27-29:
compare

Acts 3:17, 17:30), and sins of presumption, sins that
are deliberately and intentionally committed: see

Exodus 21:14,

Numbers 15:30,

Deuteronomy 17:12,

Psalm 19:13. The
apostle here has reference, evidently, to such a distinction, and
means to speak of a decided and deliberate purpose to break away
from the restraints and obligations of the Christian religion” (A.
Barnes).
“For if we sin willingly,” etc. Who are the ones that are here warned
against this terrible sin? Who are they that are in danger of committing it?
The answer is, all who make a profession of faith in the Lord Jesus. But
are genuine Christians in any such danger? Looked at from the standpoint
of God’s everlasting covenant, which He made with them in the person of
their Sponsor, which covenant is “ordered in all things and sure;” — no.
Looked at according to their standing and state in Christ, as those who
have been “perfected forever” (

Hebrews 10:14); — no. But considered
as they are in themselves, mutable creatures (as was un-fallen Adam),
without any strength of their own; — yes. Viewed as those who still have
the sinful nature within them, — yes. Contemplated as those who are yet
the objects of Satan’s relentless attacks, — yes. But it may be said, “God
sees His people only in Christ.” Not so, is the reply. Were that the case, He
would never chasten (

Hebrews 12:5-10) us! God views the Christian
both in Christ legally and in this world actually. He addresses us as
responsible beings (

2 Peter 1:10) and regulates the manifestations of
His love for us according to our conduct (

John 14:23).
It is to be carefully noted that the apostle Paul did not say, “If ye sin
willingly,” but “if we,” thus including himself. Two reasons may be
suggested for this..178
First, to soften a little the severity of this terrible warning. He shows there
is no respect of persons in this matter: were he to commit this dreadful sin
himself, he too would suffer the same un-mitigable doom. Hereby he sets
all preachers and teachers a godly example. Such was his general custom:
compare the “we” in

Hebrews 2:3; 3:6, 14; 12:25; and the “us” in

Hebrews 4:1, 11!
Second, to emphasize the unvarying outworking of this law: no exceptions
are made. The apostle includes himself to show that even he himself could
not look to escape the Divine vengeance here denounced, if he fell into the
sin here described.
“After that we have received the knowledge of the truth.” These words not
only serve to identify the ones who are cautioned against apostasy, but are
added to emphasize the enormity of the sin. It would not be through
ignorance or lack of knowledge, but after being enlightened, they
abandoned Christianity. The “Truth” rather than the “Gospel” is here
specifically mentioned, so as to heighten the contrast — it is for a lie that
Christ is rejected. The word “knowledge” here is a compound and signifies
“acknowledgement,” and is so rendered in

Titus 1:1, Philemon 6. Owen
says, “the word is not used any where to express the mere conceptions or
notions of the mind about this, but such acknowledgement of it as arises
from some sense of its power and excellency.” To “receive” this
acknowledgement of the truth includes an act of the mind in understanding
it, an act of the will in consenting, and an act of the heart in embracing it.
“Wherefore the sin here intended, is plainly a relinquishment and
renunciation of the truth of the gospel, and the promises thereof,
with all duty thereunto belonging, after we have been convinced of
its truth, and avowed its power and excellency. There is no more
required but that this be ‘willingly’: not upon a sudden surprisal and
temptation, as Peter denied Christ; not on those compulsions and
fears which may work a present dissimulation, without an internal
rejection of the Gospel; not through darkness, ignorance making an
impression for a season on the minds and reasonings of men: which
things, though exceedingly evil and dangerous, may befall them
who yet contract not the guilt of this crime. But it is required
thereunto, that men who thus sin, do it by choice, and of their own
accord, from the internal depravity of their own mind, and an evil
heart of unbelief to depart from the living God; that they do it by,.179
and with the preference of another way of religion, and a resting
therein before or above the Gospel” (John Owen).
The un-pardonableness of this sin is affirmed in the words “there remaineth
no more sacrifice for sins.” A similar passage, which throws light on our
present verse, is found in

1 Samuel 3:14, “And therefore I have sworn
unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be purged
with sacrifice or offering forever.” As there were certain sins which, in
O.T. times, from their heinousness and the high-handed rebellion of their
perpetrators, had no sacrifice allowed them, but “died without mercy”
(verse 29); so it is now with those who apostatize from Christ: there is no
relief appointed for them, no means for the expiation of their sin. They
voluntarily and finally reject the Gospel, forfeit all interest in the sacrifice
of Christ.
Ere leaving this verse, let it be said emphatically that there is nothing in it
which in anywise conflicts with the blessed truth of the eternal security of
God’s saints. The apostle did not here say the Hebrews had apostatized,
nor did he affirm they would do so. No, instead, he faithfully points out the
sure, dreadful, and eternal consequences did they do so. “For IF we sin
willingly.” It was to keep them from it that he here sets it down by way of
supposition, just as in

Romans 8:13 he says, “For if ye live after the
flesh, ye shall die.” As to how far a person may go in the taking up of
Christianity, and as to what the Spirit may work in him short of actual
regeneration, and then that one apostatize, only God knows. And, as to
how close a real Christian may come to presumptuous (

Psalm 19:13)
sinning, and yet remain innocent of “the great transgression,” only God can
decide. We are only in the place of safety while we maintain the attitude of
complete dependency upon the Lord and of unreserved subjection to Him.
To indulge the flesh is dangerous; to persist in the course of self-gratification
is highly dangerous; and to remain therein unto the end, would
be fatal.
“But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation,
which shall devour the adversaries” (verse 27).
The positive punishment of apostates is here announced.
“When a man under the law had contracted the guilt of any such
sin, as was indispensably capital in its punishment, for the legal
expiation thereof no sacrifice was appointed or allowed, such as.180
murder, adultery, blasphemy, he had nothing remaining but a fearful
expectation of the execution of the sentence of the law against him.
And it is evident that in this context, the apostle argues from the
less unto the greater; if it was so, that this was the case of him who
so sinned against Moses’ law, how much more must it be so with
them that sin against the gospel, whose sin is incomparably greater,
and the punishment more severe?” (John Owen.)
The Divine punishment which shall be visited upon apostates is first spoken
of under the general term “judgment,” as in

Hebrews 9:27. This
signifies that it will be a righteous sentence proportioned unto their awful
crime: there will be a full and open trial, with an impartial judicial
condemnation of them. The term is also used to express the punishment
itself (

James 2:13,

2 Peter 2:3): both meanings are probably included
here. There is no mean between pardon and damnation. The sure approach
of this judgment is referred to as “a certain fearful looking-for of” it. The
word “certain” here signifies something which is not fully defined, as in “a
certain woman” (

Mark 5:25), “a certain nobleman” (

John 4:46): it
therefore denotes the “judgment” is inexpressible, such as no human heart
can conceive or tongue portray. “Fearful” intimates the punishment will be
so dreadful that when men come to apprehend it they are filled with horror
and dismay. “Looking-for” shows that the apostates already have an
earnest of God’s wrath in their consciences even now.
“And fiery indignation,” or “fierceness of fire” as in the American R.V., or
more literally, “of fire fervor” (Bag. Inter.). This describes more closely the
nature of the “judgment” awaiting them. The terms used denote the
resistless, tormenting, destroying efficacy of God’s terrible wrath, and
emphasizes its dreadful fierceness. God is highly incensed against the
apostates, and inconceivably and indescribably dreadful will be His dealings
with them: it will express and answer to His infinite justice, holiness, and
power.
“For, behold, the Lord will come with fire and with His chariots,
like a whirlwind, to render His anger against the earth, and His
rebuke with flames of fire” (

Isaiah 66:15).
No doubt the reference in our verse is to the final judgment at the last day,
and the eternal destruction of God’s enemies. A solemn and graphic
shadowing forth of this was given by God when His sword and fiery.181
judgment fell upon the Jews in A.D. 70, destroying their church-state by
fire and sword.
“Which shall devour the adversaries.” There is probably an allusion here to
the dreadful fate which overtook Nadab and Abihu, concerning whom it is
written “there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them
(

Leviticus 10:2), and also the judgment visited upon Korah, Dathan and
Abiram, when “the ground clave asunder that was under them, and the
earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up,” so that they went down
“alive into the Pit” (

Numbers 16:30-33). The “adversaries” are those
who are actuated by a principle of hostile opposition to Christ and
Christianity. They are enemies of God, and God will show Himself to be
their Enemy. God’s wrath shall
“devour them as to all happiness, all blessedness, all hopes, comfort
and relief at once; but it shall not consume their being. This is that
which this fire shall ever prey upon them, and never utterly
consume them” (John Owen).
From such a doom may Divine grace deliver both wrçiter and reader..182
CHAPTER 53
THE APOSTATES’ DOOM
(

HEBREWS 10:28-31)
The verses which are now to be before us complete the section begun at
verse 26, the sum of which is the apostates’ doom. They fall naturally into
two parts, the one containing a description of their sin; the other, a
declaration of their punishment. For the purpose of solemn emphasis, each
of these is repeated. In verse 26 the sin itself is mentioned; in the last clause
of verse 26 and in verse 27 the punishment of it is affirmed. In verses 28,
29 the apostle confirms the equity of the fore-named judgment by an
argument drawn from the Mosaic law, under which he shows the terrible
character of the sin which is here in view. In verses 30, 31 he establishes
the certainty of the punishment by an appeal to the character of God as
revealed in His Word. This repetition in a subject so solemn, is well
calculated to awe every thoughtful reader, and ought to produce the most
searching effect upon his conscience and heart.
As we have pointed out in preceding articles, this section (verses 26-31)
was introduced by the apostle for the purpose of enforcing the exhortation
found in verses 22-24, the sum of which is, a call unto Christians to
persevere in a state and practice of godliness. Grossly has this passage been
perverted by theological factions belonging to two extremes. The one has
misused it in the endeavor to bolster up their false doctrine of regenerated
people falling from grace and being eternally lost. Without now going into
that subject, it is sufficient to say that

Hebrews 10:26-31 contains not a
word which directly supports the chief contention of the Arminians. What
we have in this passage is only hypothetical, “For if we sin willingly,” i.e.
deliberately, fully, and finally abandon the profession of Christianity — not
that the Holy Spirit here says any of the regenerate Hebrews had, or would
do so. A similar and still more pointed case is found in those words of
Christ’s.
“Yet ye have not known Him: but I know Him: and if I should say,
I know Him not, I shall be a liar like unto you” (

John 8:55)..183
The second party of those who have misunderstood this passage, are
Calvinists possessing more zeal than wisdom. Anxious to maintain their
ground against the Arminians, most of them have devoted their energies to
show that regenerated Christians do not come within the scope of verse 26
at all; that instead, it treats only of nominal professors, of those having
nothing more than a head-knowledge of the Truth, and making merely a
lip-profession of the same. And thus has the great Enemy of souls
succeeded in getting some of the true servants of God to blunt the sharp
edge of this solemn verse, and nullify its searching power over the
conscience of the saints. It is sufficient refutation of this theory to point out
that the apostle is here addressing those who were “partakers of the
heavenly calling” (

Hebrews 3:1), and in the “we” of

Hebrews 10:26
included himself! We will not take any notice of a third theory, of modern
“dispensationalists,” who affirm that none but Jews could commit the sin
here mentioned, beyond saying that our space is too valuable to waste in
exposing such trifling with Holy Scripture.
But what has been pointed out above presents a serious difficulty to many.
We may state it thus: If it be impossible for truly regenerated people to
ever perish, then why should the Holy Spirit move the apostle to so much
in hypothetically describing the irremediable doom if they should
apostatize? Such a difficulty is occasioned, in the first place, through a one-sided
conception of the Christian, through considering him only as he
exists in the purpose of God, and not also remembering what he still is in
himself: unless the latter be steadily held in mind, we are in grave danger of
denying, or at least ignoring, the Christian’s responsibility. That the
Christian is to be viewed in this twofold way is abundantly clear from many
Scriptures. For example, in the purpose of God, the Christian is already
“glorified” (

Romans 8:30), yet he certainly is not so in himself! Here in

Hebrews 10:26 etc. (as in many other passages) the Christian is not
addressed from the viewpoint of God’s eternal purpose, but as he yet is in
himself — in need of solemn warnings, as well as exhortations.
Again; the difficulty which so many one-sided thinkers find in this subject is
to be attributed to their failure in duly recognizing the relation which God
has appointed between His own eternal counsels and the accomplishment
of the same through wisely ordained means. There are some who reason
(most superficially) that if God has ordained a certain soul to be saved, he
will be, whether he exercised faith in Christ or no. Not so:

2
Thessalonians 2:13 clearly proves the contrary — the “end” and the.184
“means” are there inseparably joined together. It is quite true that where
God has appointed a certain individual “unto salvation,” He will infallibly
give him a saving faith; but that does not mean that the Holy Spirit will
believe for him; no, the individual will, must, exercise the faith which has
been given him. In like manner, God has eternally decreed that every
regenerated soul shall get safely through to Heaven, yet He certainly has
not ordained that any shall do so whether or not they use the means which
He has appointed for their preservation. Christians are “kept by the power
of God through faith” (

1 Peter 1:5) — there is the human responsibility
side.
Looked at as he still is in himself, the Christian is eminently liable to “make
shipwreck of the faith” (

1 Timothy 1:19). He still has within him a
nature which craves the vanities of the world, and that craving has to be
denied, or he will never reach Heaven. He is yet in the place of terrible
danger, menaced by deadly temptations, and it is only as he constantly
watches and prays against the same that he is preserved from them. He is
the immediate and incessant object of the Devil’s malice, for he is ever
going about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour; and it is only
as the Christian takes unto himself (appropriates and uses) the armor of
God’s providing, that he can withstand the great Enemy of souls. It is
because of these things that he urgently needs the exhortations and
warnings of Holy Writ. God has faithfully pointed out to us what lies at the
end of every path of self-will and self-indulgence. God has mercifully
placed a hedge across each precipice which confronts the professing
Christian, and woe be to him if he disregards those warnings and pushes
through that hedge.
In this solemn passage of Hebrews 10, the apostle is pointing out the sure
and certain connection there is between apostasy and irrevocable
damnation, thereby warning all who bear the name of Christ to take the
most careful and constant pains in avoiding that unpardonable sin. To say
that real Christians need no such warning because they cannot possibly
commit that sin, is, we repeat, to lose sight of the connection which God
himself has established between His predestined ends and the means
whereby they are reached. The end unto which God has predestined His
people is their eternal bliss in Heaven, and one of the means by which that
end is reached, is through their taking heed to the solemn warning He has
given against that which would prevent their reaching Heaven. It is not
wisdom, but madness, to scoff at those warnings. As well might Joseph.185
have objected that there was no need for him and his family to flee into
Egypt (Matthew 2), seeing that it was impossible for the Christ-Child to be
slain by Herod!
What each of us needs to watch against is the first buddings of apostasy,
the first steps which lead to that sin of sins. It is not reached at a single
bound, but is the fatal culmination of a diseased heart. Thus, while the
writer and the reader, may be in no immediate danger of apostasy itself, we
are of that which, if allowed and continued in, would certainly lead to it. A
man who is now enjoying good health is in no immediate danger of dying
from tuberculosis; yet if he recklessly exposed himself to the wet and cold,
if he refrained from taking that nourishing food which supplies strength to
resist disease, or had he a heavy cough on the chest and made no effort to
break it up, then would he very likely fall a victim to consumption. So it is
spiritually. Nay, in the case of the Christian, the seed of eternal death is
already in him. That seed is sin, and it is only as grace is daily and diligently
sought, for the thwarting of its inclinations and suppressing of its activities,
that it is hindered from fully developing to a fatal end.
A small leak neglected will sink a ship just as effectually as the most
boisterous sea. So one sin indulged in and not repented of, will terminate in
eternal punishment. Well did John Owen say, “We ought to take heed of
every neglect of the person of Christ and of His authority, lest we enter
into some degree or other of the guilt of this great offense.” Or, still better,
well may both writer and reader earnestly cry unto God,
“Keep back Thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not
have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be
innocent from the great transgression” (

Psalm 19:13).
Rightly did Spurgeon say on this verse,
“Secret sin is a stepping-stone to presumptuous sin, and that is the
vestibule of ‘the sin which is unto death’” (Treasury of David.)
To sin “presumptuously” is to knowingly and deliberately ignore God’s
commandments, defying His authority and recklessly going on in a course
of self-pleasing regardless of consequences. When one has reached that
terrible stage, he is but a short step indeed from committing the sin for
which there is no forgiveness, and then to be abandoned by God both in
this world and in that which is to come..186
As this solemn subject is so vitally related to our eternal welfare, and as the
pulpit and religious press of today maintain a guilty silence thereon, let us
briefly point out some of the steps which inevitably lead to “presumptuous”
sinning. When a professing Christian ceases to maintain a daily repentance
and confession to God of all known sins, his conscience is already asleep
and no longer responsive to the voice of the Holy Spirit. If over and above
this, he comes before God as a worshipper, to praise and thank Him for
mercies received, he is but dissembling, and mocking Him. If he continues
in a state of impenitence, thus allowing and siding with the sin into which
at first, he was unwittingly and unwillingly betrayed, his heart will be so
hardened that he will commit new sins deliberately, against light and
knowledge, and that with a high hand, and thus be guilty of presumptuous
sins, of openly defying God.
The terrible thing is that in these degenerate times the consciences of
thousands have been drugged by preachers (whom it is greatly to be feared
are themselves spiritually dead, and helping forward the work of Satan)
that have presented “the eternal security of the saints” in such an
unscriptural way, as to convey to their poor hearers the impression that,
provided they once “accepted Christ as their personal Savior” Heaven is
now their certain portion, that guilt can nevermore rest upon them, and
that no matter what sins they may commit nothing can possibly jeopardize
their eternal interests. The consequence has been — and this is no
imaginary fear of ours, but a patent fact of observation on every side —
that a carnal security has been imparted, so that in the midst of fleshly
gratification and worldly living it is, humanly speaking, quite impossible to
disturb their false peace or terrify their conscience.
All around us are professing Christians sinning with a high hand against
God, and yet suffering from no qualms of conscience. And why? Because
while they believe that some “millennial crown” or “reward” may be
forfeited should they fail to deny self and daily take up their cross and
follow Christ, yet they have not the slightest realization or fear that they
are hastening to Hell as swiftly as time wings its flight. They fondly imagine
that the blood of Christ covers all their sins. Horrible blasphemy! Dear
reader, make no mistake upon this point, and suffer no false prophet to
cause you to believe the contrary, the blood of Christ covers no sins that
have not been truly repented of and confessed to God with a broken heart.
But presumptuous sins are not easily repented of, for they harden the heart
and make it steel itself against God. In proof note,.187
“But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and
stopped their ears that they should not hear. Yea, they made their
hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the
words which the Lord of hosts hath sent” (

Zechariah 7:11, 12).
Rightly then does Thomas Scott say on

Hebrews 10:26,
“We cannot too awfully alarm the secure, self-confident, and
presumptuous, as every deliberate sin against light and conscience,
is a step towards the tremendous precipice described by the
apostle.”
Alas, alas, Satan has, through the “Bible teachers” done his work so well
that, unless the Holy Spirit performs a miracle, it is impossible to “alarm”
such. The great masses of professing Christians of our day regard God
Himself much as they would an indulgent old man in his dotage, who so
loves his grandchildren as to be blind to all their faults. The ineffably holy
God of Scripture is no longer believed in: but multitudes will yet find, to
their eternal sorrow, that it is” a fearful thing” to fall into His hands. We
make no apology for this lengthy introduction, for our aim is not so much
to write a commentary on this Epistle, as it is to reach the consciences and
hearts of poor, misguided, and deluded souls, who have been fearfully
deceived by the very men whom they have regarded as the champions of
orthodoxy.
“He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or
three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall
he be thought worthy who hath trodden under foot the Son of God,
and hath counted the blood of the covenant wherewith He was
sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of
grace?” (verses 28, 29).
Having named the principal means for the Christian’s maintenance of
constancy in the faith (verses 22-25), the apostle proceeded to enforce his
exhortations to perseverance, and against backsliding and apostasy, by
some weighty considerations.
First, from the terrible character of the sin of apostasy: it is a sinning
willingly after a knowledge of the Truth has been received and assented to
verse 26..188
Second, from the dreadful state of such: no sacrifice avails for them,
naught but judgment awaits them, verses 26, 27.
Third, from the analogy of God’s severity in the past verses 28, 29.
Fourth, from what Scripture affirms of God’s vindicative justice, verses
30, 31.
“He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three
witnesses.” The apostle proceeds to confirm the sentence passed upon the
apostate Christian in verses 26, 27, by an appeal to God’s awful but
righteous justice in the past. If the despiser of the Mosaic law was dealt
with so unsparingly, how much more severe must be the punishment meted
out to those who scorn the authority of the Gospel! The Greek word for
“despise” means to utterly reject a thing, to set aside or cast it off, to treat
it with contempt. The one who thus flouted the Divine legislation through
Moses, was he who renounced its authority, and determinately and
obstinately refused to comply with its requirements. Such an one suffered
the capital punishment. Probably such passages as

Deuteronomy 13:6-
9; 17:2-7 were before the apostle’s mind.
“Of how much sorer punishment suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy
who hath trodden under foot the Son of God?” The apostle’s inspired logic
here is the very reverse of that which obtains in the corrupt theology of
present-day Christendom. The popular idea in these degenerate times is
that, under the Gospel regime (or “dispensation of grace”) God has acted,
is acting, and will act much more mildly with transgressors, than He did
under the Mosaic economy. The very opposite is the truth. No judgment
from Heaven one-half as severe as that which overtook Jerusalem in A.D.
70, is recorded in Scripture from Exodus 19 to Malachi 4! Nor is there
anything in God’s dealings with Israel during O.T. times which can begin
to compare with the awful severity of His “wrath” as depicted in the book
of Revelation! Every despiser of the Lordship of Christ shall yet discover
that a far hotter place has been reserved for him in Hell, than what will be
the portion of lawless rebels who lived under the old covenant.
“Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy,
who hath trodden under foot the Son of God?” There are degrees of
heinousness in sinning (

John 19:11), and so there are degrees in the
punishment of their perpetrators (

Luke 12:47, 48). Here, this solemn
truth is presented in the interrogative form (cf.

Hebrews 2:3) so as to.189
search the conscience of each reader. If I have been favored with a
knowledge of the Gospel (denied to half the human race), if I have been
enlightened by the Holy Spirit (which is more than multitudes of Romanists
are), if I profess to have received Christ as my Savior and have praised
Him for His redeeming grace, — what punishment can fitly meet my crimes
if I now despise His lordship, flout His authority, break His
commandments, walk with His enemies, and go on sinning
presumptuously, till I end by committing the “great transgression?”
“Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy,
who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood
of the covenant, wherewith He was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath
done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” Instead of contenting himself with a
general declaration of the equity of God’s dealings with apostates, the
apostle here adduces additional particulars of the crime before him. In this
verse we have brought before us the awful aggravations of the sin of
apostasy, showing what is implied and involved in this un-pardoned
transgression. Three things are specified, at each of which we shall briefly
glance.
First, “who hath trodden under foot the Son of God.” Once more we
would call attention to the varied manner in which the Holy Spirit refers to
the Savior in this epistle. Here, it is not “Jesus,” or “Christ,” but the “Son
of God,” and that, because His purpose is to emphasize the infinite dignity
of the One slighted. It is not a mere man, nor even an angel, but none less
than the second person of the Holy Trinity who is so grievously insulted!
Backsliding and apostasy is a treating of the Lord of glory with the utmost
contempt. What could be worse? The figure here employed is very
expressive and solemn: to “tread under foot” is the basest use to which a
thing can be put. It signifies a scornful spurning of an object as a thing that
is worthless, and is applied to swine trampling pearls under their feet
(

Matthew 7:6). O my reader, when we deliberately ignore the claims of
God’s Son and despise His commandments, we are treading His authority
beneath our feet!
Second, “and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith He was
sanctified, an unholy thing.” Here, as J. Owen rightly pointed out, “The
second aggravation of the sin spoken of, is its opposition to the office of
Christ, especially His priestly office, and the sacrifice He offered thereby,
called here ‘the blood of the covenant’.” In our exposition of chapter 9, we.190
sought to show in what sense the blood of Christ was “the blood of the
covenant.” It was that whereby the new covenant and testament was
confirmed and made effectual unto all its grace, to those who believe; being
the foundation of all God’s actings toward Christ in His resurrection,
exaltation and intercession — cf.

Hebrews 13:20. Now the backslider
and apostate does, by his conduct, treat that precious blood as though it
were a worthless thing. There are many degrees of this frightful sin. But O
my reader, whenever we give rein to our lusts and are not constrained by
the love of Christ to render Him that devotion and obedience which are His
due, we are, in fact, despising the blood of the covenant.
Third, “and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace.” This is the
greatest aggravation of all:
“whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be
forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Spirit
it shall not be forgiven him” (

Luke 12:10).
It is by the Spirit the Christian was regenerated, enlightened, convicted,
and brought to Christ. It is by the Spirit the Christian is led and fed, taught
and sanctified. What reverence is due Him as a Divine person! What
gratitude as a Divine benefactor! How dreadful the sin then which treats
Him with insolence, which scorns to attend unto His winsome voice, which
despises His gracious entreaties! While the grossest form of the sin here
referred to is, malignantly imputing unto Satan the works of the Spirit, yet
there are milder degrees of it. O my reader, let us earnestly endeavor to
keep from grieving Him (

Ephesians 4:30), and more completely yield
ourselves to be “led” (

Romans 8:14) by Him along the highway of
practical holiness.
Saith the Lord Almighty,
“To this man will I look, even to him that is poor (in spirit), and of
a contrite heart, and trembleth at My Word” (

Isaiah 66:2).
Surely if there is a passage any where in Holy Writ which should cause
each of us to “tremble,” it is the one now before us! Not tremble lest we
have already committed this unpardonable sin, for they who have done so
are beyond all exercise of conscience, being given up by God to hardness
of heart; no, but tremble lest we should begin a course of backsliding,
which, if un-arrested, would certainly lead thereto..191
“Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall”
(

1 Corinthians 10:12).
O my reader, make this your daily prayer, “Hold up my goings in Thy
paths, that my footsteps slip not” (

Psalm 17:5).
“For we know Him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto Me, I
will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge
His people” (verse 30).
In this verse further confirmation is supplied of the awful severity and the
absolute certainty of the punishment of apostates. Once more we have an
example of a most important principle which regulated the apostle in his
ministry, both oral and written. In verses 28, 29 he had given a specimen of
spiritual reasoning, drawing a clear and logical inference from the less to
the greater; yet decisive and unanswerable as this was, he rested not his
case upon it, but instead, established it by quoting from Holy Scriptures.
Let servants of God today act upon the same principle, and give a definite
“Thus saith the Lord” for all they advance.
“For we know Him that hath said.” Here our attention is directed unto the
Divine character, what God is in Himself. Nothing behooves us more than
to frequently and fully consider who it is with whom we have to do. Our
conception of the Divine character plays an important part in molding our
hearts and regulating our conduct, therefore it is that we find the apostle, in
another place, praying that the saints may be “increasing in the knowledge
of God” (

Colossians 1:10). It is a most profitable exercise for the soul
to be often engaged in contemplating the Divine attributes, pondering
God’s all-mighty power, ineffable holiness, unimpeachable veracity, exact
justice, absolute faithfulness and terrible severity. Christ Himself has bidden
us
“Fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell”
(

Matthew 10:28).
The better God’s character be known, the more we heed that exhortation
of Christ’s, the clearer shall we perceive that there is nothing unsuited to
the holiness of God in what Scripture affirms concerning His dealings with
the wicked. It is because the true nature of sin is so little viewed in the light
of God’s awful holiness, that so many fail to recognize its infinite demerits..192
“For we know Him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto Me, I will
recompense saith the Lord.” The reference is to

Deuteronomy 32:35,
though the apostle does not quote word for word as we now have that
text. Moses was there reminding of the office which God holds as the
Judge of all the earth: as such, He enforces His righteous law, and inflicts
its just punishment on willful and impenitent sinners. Though, in His
unsearchable wisdom, He is often pleased to forbear for a while — for He
“bears with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to
destruction” (

Romans 9:22)
— nevertheless, God will yet pay to every transgressor the full wages to
which their sins have earned. God bore long with the Antediluvians, but at
the end He destroyed them by the flood. Wondrous was His patience
toward the Sodomites, but at His appointed season, He rained down fire
and brimstone upon them. With amazing forbearance He tolerates the
immeasurable wickedness of the world, but the Day is swiftly approaching
when He will avenge Himself upon all who now so stoutly oppose Him.
“And again, The Lord shall judge His people.” A most important example
is here given as a guide to teach us how scripture is to be applied. The
reference is to what is recorded in

Deuteronomy 32:36, but there it is
God’s care exercised on behalf of His people, while here it is His
vengeance upon their enemies. Some have caviled at the appositeness of
the apostle’s quotation. Yet they should not. Each particular scripture has
a general application, and is not to be limited unto those first addressed. If
God undertakes to protect His people, He will certainly exercise judgment
on those who apostatize. He did so in the past (see

1 Corinthians 10:5);
He will do so in the future:

2 Thessalonians 1:7, 8. The rule which is
established by this quotation from Deuteronomy is, that all Scripture is
equally applicable unto all cases of the like nature. What God says
concerning those who are the enemies of His people, becomes applicable to
His people should they break and reject His covenant.
“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”
(verse 31).
Here is the un-escapable conclusion which must be drawn from all that has
been before us. This word “fearful” ought to make every trifler with sin
tremble as did Belshazzar when he saw the Hand writing upon the wall. To
“fall into the hands of” is a metaphor, denoting the utter helplessness of the.193
victim when captured by his enemy. The One into whose hands the
apostate falls is “the living God.” “A mortal man, however incensed he may
be, cannot carry his vengeance beyond death; but God’s power is not
bounded by so narrow limits” (John Calvin). No, forever and ever will
God’s wrath burn against the objects of His judgment. Nor will the
supplications of sinners prevail upon Him: see

Proverbs 1:28,

Ezekiel 8:18.
By the penitent and obedient, God is loved and adored; but by the
impenitent and defiant, He is to be dreaded. The wicked may now pride
themselves that in the day of judgment they will placate God by their tears,
but they will then find that not only His justice, but His outraged mercy
also calls aloud for His vengeance upon them. Men may now be beguiled
by visions of a “larger hope,” but in that Day they shall discover it is only
another of Satan’s lies.
O how the “terror of the Lord” (

2 Corinthians 5:11) ought to stir up
God’s servants to warn and persuade men before the day of grace is finally
closed. And how it should make each one of us walk softly before God,
sparing no pains to make our calling and election “sure.” It is only as we
“add” to our faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance,
godliness, brotherly-kindness, and love, that we have scriptural assurance
that we shall “never fall” (

2 Peter 1:5-10)..194
CHAPTER 54
THE PATH OF TRIBULATION
(

HEBREWS 10:32-34)
God has not promised His people a smooth path through this world;
instead, He has ordained that “we must through much tribulation’’ enter
His kingdom (

Acts 14:22). Why should it be otherwise, seeing we are
now in a territory which is under His curse. And what has brought down
that curse, but sin. Seeing then that there still is a world of sin both without
and within each one of us, why should it be thought strange if we are made
to taste the bitterness of its products! Suppose it were otherwise, what
would be the effect? Suppose this present life were free from sorrows,
sufferings, separations; ah, would we not be content with our present
portion? Wisely then has God ordered it that we should be constantly
reminded of the fact “this is not your rest, because it is polluted”
(

Micah 2:10). Trials and tribulations are needful if there is to be
wrought in us “a desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better”
(

Philippians 1:23).
The word “tribulation” is derived from the Latin “tribulum,” which was a
flail used by the Romans to separate the wheat from the chaff. How much
“chaff” remains even in the one who has been genuinely converted! How
much of the “flesh” mingles with and mars his spiritual exercises! How
much which is merely “natural” is mixed with his youthful zeal and
energetic activities! How much of carnal wisdom and leaning unto our own
understanding there is, till God is pleased to deepen His work of grace in
the soul! And one of the principal instruments which He employs in that
blessed work is the “tribulum” or flail. By means of sore disappointments,
thwarted plans, inward fightings, painful afflictions, does He “take forth the
precious from the vile” (

Jeremiah 15:19), and remove the dross from
the pure gold. It is by weaning us from the things of earth that He fits us
for setting our affections on things above. It is by drying up creature-streams
of satisfaction that He makes His children thirst for the Fountain of
living water..195
“Tribulation worketh patience” (

Romans 5:3). Patience is a grace which
has both a passive and an active side. Passively, it is a meekly bowing to
the sovereign pleasure of God, a saying,
“The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it”?
(

John 18:11).
Actively, it is a steady perseverance in the path of duty. This is one of the
great ends which God has in view in the afflicting of His children: to effect
in them “a meek and quiet spirit.” “Tribulation worketh patience; and
patience, experience.” It is one thing to obtain a theoretical knowledge of a
truth by means of reading, it is quite another to have a real and inward
acquaintance with the same. As the tried and tempest-tossed soul bows
meekly to the providential dealings of God, he experimentally learns what
is “that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God” (

Romans 12:2).
“And experience, hope,” which is a firm expectation of a continuance of
sustaining grace and final glory. Since then our sufferings are one of the
means which God has appointed for the Christian’s sanctification,
preparing us for usefulness here, and for Heaven hereafter, let us glory in
them.
But let us lift our thoughts still higher.
“Consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against
Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds” (

Hebrews
12:3).
Ah, it is unto His image which the saint is predestined to be conformed
(

Romans 8:29), first in suffering, and then in glory. Let each troubled
and groaning child of God call to remembrance the afflictions through
which the Man of sorrows passed! Is it not fitting that the servant should
drink of the cup which his Master drank? O my brethren, the highest honor
God confers upon any of us in this life, is when He permits us to suffer a
little for Christ’s sake. O for grace to say with the beloved apostle,
“Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities that the
power of Christ may rest upon me” (

2 Corinthians 12:9).
“If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye”
(

1 Peter 4:14)..196
“No man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know
that we are appointed thereunto” (

1 Thessalonians 3:3).
Yet afflictions do not come upon all saints in the same form, nor to the
same degree. God is sovereign in this, as in everything else. He knows
what will best promote the spiritual good of His people. All is ordered by
Him in infinite wisdom and infinite love. As has been well said, “God had
one Son without sin, but none without sorrow.” Yet the sorrow is not
unmixed: God tempers His winds unto the lambs. With every temptation or
trial He provides a way to escape. In the midst of sorest trouble His all-suffering
grace is available. The promise is sure, “Cast thy burden upon the
Lord, and He shall sustain thee” (

Psalm 55:22), and where faith is
enabled to rest in the Lord, His sustaining power is realized in the soul.
Afflictions are not all that the Lord sends His people: He daily loadeth
them with His benefits (

Psalm 68:19). The smilings of His face greatly
outnumber the frowns of His providence. There are far more sunny days
than cloudy ones. But our memories are fickle: when we enter the
Wilderness, we so quickly forget our exodus from Egypt, and deliverance
at the Red Sea. When water gives out (Exodus 17), we fail to call to
remembrance the miraculous supply of manna (Exodus 16). It was thus
with the apostles. When they had forgotten to take bread, the Lord Jesus
tenderly remonstrated with them, saying,
“O ye of little faith… Do ye not understand, neither remember the
five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets ye took up?
Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many
baskets ye took up?” (

Matthew 16:5-10).
O how much peace and joy we lose in the present through our sinful failure
in not calling to remembrance the Lord’s past deliverances and mercies.
“Thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led
thee” (

Deuteronomy 8:2).
Sit down and review God’s previous dealings with thee: bring before your
hearts His tender patience, His unchanging faithfulness, His powerful
interpositions, His gracious gifts. There have been times in the past when
your own folly brought you into deep waters of trouble, but God did not
cast you off. You fretted and murmured, but God did not abandon you.
You were full of fears and unbelief, yet God suffered you not to starve. He
neither dealt with you after your sins, nor rewarded you according to your.197
iniquities. Instead, He proved Himself to be unto you the “God of all
grace” (

1 Peter 5:10). There were times in the past when every door of
hope seemed fast closed, when every man’s hand and heart appeared to be
against you, when the Enemy came in like a flood, and it looked very much
as though you would be drowned. But help was at hand. In the fourth
watch of the night the Lord Jesus appeared on the waters, and you were
delivered. Then remember this, and let the realization of past deliverances
comfort and stay your heart in the midst of the present emergency.
Many are the appeals made unto us in the Word of God to do this very
thing. Varied and numerous are the motives employed by the Holy Spirit in
the Scripture of Truth to stir up God’s children unto constancy of heart
and the performance of duty when “circumstances” seem to be all against
them. Every attribute of God is made a distinct ground for urging us to run
with perseverance the race that is set before us. The promises of God are
given to cheer, and His warnings stir up our hearts unto a fuller compliance
with His revealed will. Rewards are promised to those who overcome the
flesh, the world, and the Devil, while eternal woes are threatened unto
those failing to do so. Faith is to be stimulated by the record given of
God’s grace which sustained fellow-pilgrims in by-gone days; hope is to be
stirred into action by the glorious Goal which the Word holds up to view.
And, as we have said, fresh courage for the present is to be drawn by us
from calling to mind God’s goodness in the past. It is this particular motive
which the apostle pressed on the Hebrews in the passage which is now
before us.
“But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were
illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions” (verse 32).
In verses 16-21 the apostle had given a brief summary of the inestimable
privileges which are the present portion of the regenerated people of God.
In verses 22-24 he had exhorted them to make a suitable response to such
blessings. In verses 25-31 he had fortified their minds against temptations
to apostasy, or to willful and presumptuous sins. He now bids them to
recall the earlier days of their profession, and to consider what they had
already ventured, suffered and renounced for Christ, and how they had
been supernaturally sustained under their trials: the force of this was,
disgrace not your former conduct by now casting away your confidence
which hath great recompense of reward..198
“But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were
illuminated.” The beginnings of God’s work of grace in their souls is here
spoken of as being “illuminated.” The Holy Spirit had revealed to them
their depravity and impotency, their lost and miserable state by nature. He
had brought before them the unchanging demands of God’s righteous law,
and their utter failure to meet those claims. He had pointed them to the
Lord Jesus, who, as the Sponsor and Surety of His people, had assumed all
their liabilities, kept the law in their stead, and died for their sins. For God
who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, had
“shined into their hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the
glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (

2 Corinthians 4:6).
Thus He had granted unto them an experimental acquaintance with the
Gospel, so that they had felt in their own consciences and hearts the power
of its truth. How unspeakably solemn is it to note that this too had been the
experience of the apostates in

Hebrews 6:4-6, for the very word here
rendered “illuminated” is there translated, “enlightened.”
Right after their illumination by God, they were called upon to feel
something of the rage of His enemies. At the beginning of this dispensation
those who made profession of Christianity were hotly persecuted, and the
believing Hebrews had not escaped. This the apostle would remind them
of: “After ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions.” As
soon as God had quickened their hearts and shone upon their
understandings so that they embraced His incarnate Son as their Lord and
Savior, earth and hell combined against them. By nature we are in the dark,
and while in it we meet with no opposition from Satan or the world; but
when, by grace we determined to follow the example which Christ has left
us, we were soon brought into the fellowship of His sufferings. By such
experiences we are reminded that God has called us to the combat, that as
good soldiers of Jesus Christ we are to “endure hardness” (

2 Timothy
2:3), and need to take unto ourselves the armor which God has provided
(

Ephesians 6:10-18) — not to speculate about, but to use it.
The attitude toward and the conduct of the Hebrew Christians under this
“great fight of afflictions” during the days of their “first love,” is here
summed up, first, in the one word “endured.” They had not fainted or
given way to despondency, nor had they renounced their profession. They
failed in no part of the conflict, but came off conquerors. This they had
been enabled unto by the efficacious grace of God. They had been.199
wondrously and blessedly supported under their sufferings. From Acts 8
we learn that when the church at Jerusalem was sorely persecuted, its
members so far from abandoning Christianity, were scattered abroad, and
“went everywhere preaching the Word” (verse 4). How greatly was the
Captain of their salvation honored by this valor of His soldiers. It is a
noticeable fact of history that babes in Christ have often been the bravest
of all in facing suffering and death: perhaps because the great and glorious
change involved in the passing from death unto life is fresher in their minds
than in that of older Christians. Now it was to the recollection of these
things unto which the apostles here called the flagging and tempted
Hebrews.
“But call to remembrance.”
“It is not the bare remembrance he intends, for it is impossible men
should absolutely forget such a season. Men are apt enough to
remember the times of their sufferings, especially such as are here
mentioned, accompanied with all sorts of injurious treatments from
men. But the apostle would have them so call to mind, as to
consider withal, what support they had under their sufferings, what
satisfaction in them, what deliverance from them, that they might
not despond upon the approach of the like trials and evils on the
same account. If we remember our sufferings only as unto what is
evil and afflictive in them, what we lose, what we endure, and
undergo; such a remembrance will weaken and dispirit us, as unto
our future trials. Hereon many cast about to deliver themselves for
the future, by undue means and sinful compliances, in a desertion of
their profession; the thing the apostle was jealous of concerning
these Hebrews. But if, withal, we call to mind what was the Cause
for which we suffered; the honor that is in such sufferings,
outbalancing all the contempt and reproaches of the world; the
presence of God enjoyed in them; and the reward proposed unto
us; the calling these things to mind, will greatly strengthen us
against future trials; provided we retain the same love unto, and
valuation of the things for which we suffered, as we had in those
former days” (John Owen).
“The remembrance then of past warfare, if it had been carried on
faithfully and diligently under the banner of Christ, is at length
useful to us, not as a pretext for sloth, as though we had already.200
served our time, but to render us more active in finishing the
remaining part of our course. For Christ has not enlisted us on this
condition, that we should after a few years ask for a discharge, like
soldiers who have served their time, but that we should pursue our
warfare even unto the end” (John Calvin).
It therefore becomes a solemn and searching question for each of us to
face: to what extent am I now being antagonized by the world? Something
must be seriously wrong with me if I have the goodwill of everybody.
God’s Word emphatically declares,
“All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution”
(

2 Timothy 3:12).
“Partly, whilst ye were made a gazing-stock, both by reproaches
and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them
that were so used” (verse 33).
In this verse the apostle mentions one or two features of what their “great
fight of affliction” had consisted. Some of them were made a public
spectacle to their neighbors, by the malicious accusations brought against
them, and by the derision and punishment laid upon them; while others
were the “partners” of those who were also cruelly treated. The principal
reference here is to the loss which they had sustained in their characters
and reputations, and unto many people (especially those of a sensitive
temperament) this is a sore trial; almost anything is easier to bear than
obloquy and disgrace. But sufficient for the disciple to be as his Master:
they slandered Him, and said He had a demon.
Reproach and slander are exceedingly trying, and if we are not upon our
guard, if we fail to gird up the loins of our minds (

1 Peter 1:13), we are
likely to be so cast down by them as to be incapacitated for duty.
Despondency and despair are never excusable in the Christian, and must be
steadily resisted. We need to make up our minds that if, by grace, we are
determined to follow the example which Christ has left us we shall have
many enemies — especially in the religious world — who will scruple at no
misrepresentations of our motives and actions. We must learn to
undervalue our reputations, and be content to be regarded as “the off-scouring
of all things”; we must seek grace to emulate Him who “set His
face like a flint” (

Isaiah 50:7), who “endured the cross, despising the.201
shame” (

Hebrews 12:2). Unless we cultivate His spirit we shall be at a
great disadvantage when sufferings come upon us.
Not only had the Hebrew Christians suffered personally, but they had
fellowship also in the sufferings of others. This is a Christian duty, and, we
may add, a privilege. As members of the same Family, as fellow-pilgrims
toward the better Country, as called to serve together under the same
Banner, it is only meet that we should bear “one another’s burdens,” and
“weep with them that weep.” Of Moses it is recorded that
“He refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing
rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the
pleasure of sin for a season” (

Hebrews 11:24, 25).
To be a companion of those who suffer for Christ, is an evidence of our
love for His brethren, of courage in suffering, and of readiness to succor
those who are persecuted because of the Gospel. We do well to frequently
ponder

Matthew 25:42-45.
“For ye had compassion of me in my bonds” (verse 34).
The apostle here makes grateful acknowledgment of the sympathy which
the Hebrews had shown him in an hour of need. The historical reference
may be to the time when he lay bound in chains at Jerusalem (

Acts
21:33), when their love for him was shown by their prayers, and perhaps
letters and gifts. It is the bounden duty for Christians to express in a
practical way their compassion for any of Christ’s suffering servants, doing
everything in their power to succor, support and relieve them. Equally so is
it the duty of God’s ministers to thankfully own the kindness shown them:
Christ himself will yet publicly bear witness unto the services of love which
have been shown unto His brethren (

Matthew 25:34-40).
“For ye had compassion of me in my bonds.” These words supply one of
the many proofs that the apostle Paul was the author of this Epistle, for of
the other persons whom some have fancied wrote it, such as Luke,
Barnabas, Clement etc., there is no hint anywhere in Scripture, nor we
believe in ecclesiastical history, of any of them suffering bonds in Judea.
But the lying of Paul in bonds and imprisonments, was renowned above all
others. Hence he styled himself in particular “Paul, prisoner of Jesus
Christ” (

Philemon 1:1), and gloried in this peculiar honor as “an
ambassador in bonds” (

Ephesians 6:20), and as such, desired the saints
at Colosse to remember him at the throne of grace (

Hebrews 4:3)..202
Thus, his “bonds” being above all others so familiar, such a subject of the
churches’ prayers, this reference here in

Hebrews 10:34 at once
identifies the writer.
“And took joyfully the spoiling of your goods” (verse 34).
This supplies further information upon the deportment of the Hebrews
under their trials: they had not only patiently “endured” the great fight of
affliction, but were happy in being counted worthy to suffer for Christ — a
blessed triumph was that of the mighty grace of God over the weakness of
the flesh. God is able to strengthen in the inner man
“with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all patience
and longsuffering, with joyfulness” (

Colossians 1:11).
Ordinarily, few things are more calculated to distress the minds of men
than their being cruelly plundered of those things for which they have
labored hard, and which they and their families still need: wailing and
lamentations commonly accompany them. Blessed is it when the heart is
brought to hold lightly all earthly comforts and conveniences, for it is
easier then to part with them should we be called upon to do so.
“Knowing in yourselves that we have in heaven a better and
enduring substance” (verse 34).
This clause supplies the key to the previous one, showing the ground of
their joy. Faith looked away from things seen to those unseen, reckoning
that
“the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared
with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (

Romans 8:18);
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us
a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (

2 Corinthians
4:17).
Where the heart’s affections are truly set upon things above (

Colossians
3:2), few tears will be shed over the loss of any earthly baubles. True, it is
natural to mourn when rudely deprived of material possessions, but it is
supernatural to rise above such grieving.
The true riches of the Christian are not accessible to human or Satanic
plunderers. Men may strip us of all our worldly possessions, but they.203
cannot take from us the love of God, the salvation of Christ, the comforts
of the Holy Spirit, the hope of eternal glory. Said one who was waylaid by
a bandit, who demanded his money or his life: “Money, I have none on me;
my life is hid with Christ in God.” The poor worldling may give way to
despair when business is bad, bonds deteriorate, and banks smash, but no
child of God ought ever to do so: he has been begotten unto an inheritance
which is
“incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in
heaven” (

1 Peter 1:4).
Yet it is only as faith is in exercise, as the heart is really occupied with our
heavenly portion, that we enjoy them, and regard all else as but “vanity and
vexation of spirit.”
“What was it that enabled them thus to bear up under their
sufferings? They knew in themselves that they had in heaven a
better and a more enduring substance. Observe,
First; the happiness of the saints in heaven is ‘substance,’ something of
real weight and worth — all things here are but shadows.
Secondly, it is a better substance than anything they can have or lose
here.
Thirdly, it is an enduring substance; it will outlive time, and run
parallel with eternity. They can never spend it; their enemies can never
take it from them as they did their earthly goods.
Fourthly, this will make a rich amends for all they can lose and suffer
here. In heaven they shall have a better life, a better estate, better
liberty, better society, better hearts, better work, everything better”
(Matthew Henry).
“Knowing in yourselves that we have in heaven a better and an enduring
substance.” Let us now weigh carefully the first three words of this clause:
these Hebrew saints had a firm conviction of heart concerning their
heavenly portion. It does not say, “knowing from God’s promises,” but
“knowing in yourselves.” This presents a side of the Truth, an aspect of
Christian assurance, which is rarely dwelt upon in these days; instead, it is
widely ridiculed and denied, many insisting that the only basis of assurance
is the bare letter of Scripture. It is quite true that the foundation of our.204
confidence is the written Word, but that is not the only ground, any more
than a marriage certificate is the sole proof which a woman has that the
man who loves, cherishes, and lives with her, is her husband. No, one has
only to read impartially through the first Epistle of John in order to
discover that he who is walking with God and enjoying the light of His
countenance, has many evidences that he is a new creature in Christ Jesus.
“Knowing in yourselves.” The one who is following on to know the Lord
(

Hosea 6:3), not only has the testimony of God’s Word without, but he
has also the witness of the Spirit within him, that he is a child and heir of
God (

Romans 8:16, 17). In his regeneration and begun experimental
sanctification, he has received “the first-fruits of the Spirit (

Romans
8:23). In consequence, he now has new desires, new conflicts, new joys,
new sorrows. Faith purifies his heart (

Acts 15:9). He has received the
Spirit of adoption, whereby he cries “Abba Father.” From what he finds in
his own heart, he knows that he is heaven-born and heaven-bound. Let
those who are strangers to a supernatural work of grace in their own hearts
mock and scoff all they please, let them sneer at introspection, call it
mysticism, or any thing else they wish, but one who is scripturally assured
of the Spirit’s work within him, refuses to be laughed-out of his surest
proof that he is a child of God.
Granted that many have been and are deluded: acknowledging that the
unregenerate heart is “deceitful above all things”; admitting that the Devil
has lulled thousands into hell by means of happy feelings within them; yet
none of these things alter or affect to the slightest degree the fact that it is
both the duty and privilege of every genuine Christian to know in himself
that he has passed from death unto life. Provided he be denying self, taking
up his cross, and following Christ in the path of obedience, he will have
cause for rejoicing in the testimony of a good conscience (

2 Corinthians
1:12). But if he yields to lusts of the flesh, fellowships with an ungodly
world, and gets into a backslidden state, then the joy of his salvation will be
lost. Nothing then is of greater practical importance than that the Christian
should keep clean and unstained his inward evidences that he is journeying
toward heaven.
“Such, then, are the things which the apostle wishes the Hebrew
Christians to ‘call to remembrance.’ It is easy to see how the calling
of these things to remembrance was calculated to serve his purpose
— to guard them from apostasy, and establish them in the faith and.205
profession of the Gospel. It is as if he had said, ‘Why shrink from
suffering for Christianity now? Were you not exposed to suffering
from the beginning? When you first became Christians, did you not
willingly undergo sufferings on account of it? And is not
Christianity as worthy of being suffered for as ever? Is not Jesus the
same yesterday, and today, and forever? Did not the faith and hope
of Christianity formerly support you under your sufferings, and
make you feel that they were but the light afflictions of a moment?
and are they not as able to support you now as then? Has the
substance in heaven become less real, or less enduring? and have
you not as good evidence now as you had then that to the
persevering Christian such treasure is laid up? Are you willing to
lose all the benefit of the sacrifices you have made, and the
sufferings you have sustained? and they will all go for nothing if
you endure not unto the end!’ These are considerations all naturally
suggested by the words of the apostle, and all well calculated to
induce them ‘to hold fast the profession of their faith without
wavering’.” (John Brown)..206
CHAPTER 55
THE SAVING OF THE SOUL
(

HEBREWS 10:35-39)
As there is so much ground covered by the verses which are now to be
before us, we shall dispense with our usual introductory paragraphs. In lieu
of them, we present a brief analysis of the present passage. Verse 35 really
belongs to the section which we took up in our last article. In verses 32-35
the apostle gives a persuasion unto perseverance in the Christian life. First,
he bids the Hebrews call to remembrance what they had suffered for
Christ’s sake in days gone by: then let them not now renounce their faith
and thereby render void their early witness — verses 32, 33. Second, he
reminded them of the ground on which they had willingly suffered
hardships and losses, namely, because they had the inward assurance and
evidence that in Heaven they had a better and enduring substance: then,
inasmuch as it changed not, why should they? — verse 34. From these
facts, the conclusion is drawn that a duty is rightly required from them,
upon the performance of which the reward should be given them — verse
35.
In the last section of Hebrews 10 the apostle first confirms the exhortation
he had just insisted on, and points to the chief aids to perseverance,
namely, patience and faith — verse 36. Second, he encourages the Lord’s
people by the prospect of the sure and speedy coming of the Redeemer
who would then reward them — verse 37. Third, he warns again of the
fearful state of the apostate — verse 38. Fourth, he affirms that they who
persevered to the end, believe to the saving of the soul — verse 39. The
obvious design of these verses is to stir up Christians unto utmost
earnestness in making their calling and election sure, to guard them against
the danger of backsliding, and to bear their trials with submission to the
will of God. May it please the Holy Spirit to apply this passage in power to
the heart of both writer and reader, that our meditation may issue in fruit to
the glory of our blessed Lord..207
“Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great
recompense of reward” (verse 35).
Let us notice first the force of the “therefore.” This is an inference drawn
from the foregoing: since you have already suffered so many things in your
persons and goods, and inasmuch as Divine grace supported and carried
you through with constancy and joy, do not be discouraged and give way
to despair at the approach of similar trials. Further, this “therefore” is
drawn from the blissful prospect which the sure promise of God holds
before His faithful people, and gives point to the admonition: inasmuch as
confidence persisted in is going to be richly repaid, cast it not away.
“Cast not away therefore your confidence.” The word “confidence” here
has respect unto an attitude or state of heart God-wards. It is the same
term (in the Greek) as is translated “boldness” in

Hebrews 10:19. It is
found again in

1 John 3:21, “then have we confidence toward God”;
and verse 14, “this is the confidence that we have in Him.” It is not so
much faith itself, as one of the products or fruits thereof. It is closer akin to
hope. It is that effect of faith which fits the Christian for freedom and
readiness unto all his spiritual duties, notwithstanding difficulties and
discouragements. It is that frame of spirit which carries us cheerfully
through all those sufferings which a real profession of the Gospel entails.
More specifically, this “confidence” may be defined as fortitude of mind,
courage of heart, and constancy of will.
From what has just been said, it will be seen that we do not agree with
those commentators who understand verse 35 as dehorting against the
abandonment of Christianity. The apostle’s admonition here strikes deeper
than a warning against forsaking the outward profession of the Gospel. It is
addressed against that state of heart, which, if it became chronic, would
likely lead to the external forsaking of Christ. What is needed in the face of
trials and persecution is boldness of mind, the heart being freed from
bondage and fear, through a prevailing persuasion of our acceptance with
God in the performance of those duties which He has appointed us. It was
this particular grace which was admired in Peter and John in

Acts 4:13.
It is only as the mind remains convinced of the righteousness of our cause,
and as the heart is assured we are doing that which is well-pleasing to God,
that, when we are criticized and condemned by men, and are menaced by
their frowns and threats, we shall be.208
“steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord”
(

1 Corinthians 15:58),
in nothing moved by our adversaries.
This confidence in and toward God, which had hitherto sustained the
persecuted Hebrews, they are here bidden to “cast not away.” Here again
the responsibility of the Christian is addressed. There are those who insist
we can no more control our “confidence” — weaken or strengthen it —
than we can control the wind. But this is to lose sight of the fact that we
are moral creatures and accountable for the use or misuse of all our
faculties. If I allow my mind to dwell upon the difficulties before me, the
disadvantages I may suffer through faithfulness to Christ, or listen to the
whisperings of Satan as to how I can avoid trouble by little compromises,
then my courage will soon wane, and I shall be to blame. On the other
hand, if I seek grace to dwell upon God’s promises, realize it is an honor to
suffer for Christ’s sake, and remind myself that whatever I lose here is not
worthy to be compared with what I shall gain hereafter, then, assured that
God is for me, I shall care not who be against me.
To encourage the tempted Hebrews the apostle at once added, “which hath
great recompense of reward.” From these words it is very evident that the
true Christian may, and should, have his eye upon the reward that is
promised those who suffer for the Gospel’s sake. Nor does this verse by
any means stand alone:
“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and
shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake:
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in Heaven”
(

Matthew 5:11, 12)
— notice carefully the words “in Heaven,” which at once exposes the error
of those who declare that the “Sermon on the Mount” belongs not to and is
not about those who are members of the Body of Christ, but is “Jewish”
and “Millennial.” Christians are not sufficiently occupied with their reward
in Heaven.
The subject of “Rewards” is too large a one for us to now canvass in detail,
yet in view of present-day errors something needs to be said thereon. Not a
few suppose that the concepts presented by “grace” and “reward” are
irreconcilably at variance. The trouble with such people is that, instead of
searching the Scriptures to discover how the Holy Spirit has used the term,.209
they turn to a human dictionary. In human affairs a “reward” commonly
(though not always) denotes the recognition and recompensing of a
meritorious performance; but not so is its general usage in Scripture. Take
the first occurrence of the word: in

Genesis 15:1 we find Jehovah
saying unto Abraham, “Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding
great reward”: how utterly impossible for the patriarch to have done
anything to deserve this! Once it is plainly perceived that in Scripture the
term “reward” has in it no thought of a meet return for a meritorious
performance, much of the fog with which modern “dispensationalists” have
surrounded the subject will be cleared away.
“Which hath great recompense of reward.” Rightly did John Calvin point
out in his comments on this verse: “By mentioning ‘reward,’ he diminishes
nothing from the gratuitous promise of salvation, for the faithful know that
their labor is not in vain in the Lord in such a way that they still rest on
God’s mercy alone. But it has been often stated elsewhere how ‘reward’ is
not incompatible with the gratuitous imputation of righteousness.” If those
who suppose that Christians living since the’days of J.N. Darby and “Dr.”
Scofield appeared on the scene have “much more light” than they who
preceded them, would only read the Reformers and the Puritans with an
unprejudiced mind, they would soon be obliged to revise their ideas. In
many respects we have gone backwards instead of forwards, and only too
often the “light” which is in men, is but darkness, and “how great is that
darkness” (

Matthew 6:23)! — so great that it closes their eyes against
all true light.
“For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of
God, ye might receive the promise” (verse 36).
The opening “for” intimates that the apostle is here confirming the
exhortation which he had just insisted upon.
“The reward can be obtained only by holding fast this confidence
— by adhering steadily and perseveringly to Christ and His cause”
(John Brown).
Patience, or endurance in the path of obedience, fidelity and suffering, is
indispensably necessary if we are to be preserved unto salvation. Let those
who will, call this teaching legalistic; the only other alternative is
lawlessness and licentiousness. Though it is not “for,” yet it is “through.210
faith and patience” or “perseverance,” that we “inherit the promises”
(

Hebrews 6:12).
No one who is familiar with the writings of John Owen the Puritan, who
proclaimed the free grace of God and the gratuitousness of His salvation in
such certain terms, will accuse him of legality or of inculcating creature-merits;
yet he, in his comments in

Hebrews 10:35, 36 wrote,
“Wherefore, ‘the recompense of the reward’ here intended, is the glory of
Heaven, proposed as a crown unto them that overcome in their sufferings
for the Gospel. And the future glory, which, as unto its original cause, is
the fruit of the good pleasure and sovereign grace of God, whose pleasure
it is to give us the kingdom; and as unto its procuring cause is the sole
purchase of the blood of Christ, who obtained for us eternal redemption;
and it is, on both accounts, a free gift of God, for ‘the wages of sin is
death, but the gift of God through Christ is life eternal’ (so as it can be no
way merited nor procured by ourselves, by virtue of any proportion by the
rules of justice between what we do or suffer, and what is promised), is yet
constantly promised to suffering believers, under the name of a recompense
or a reward. For it doth not become the great — ness and goodness of
God to call His own people unto sufferings for His name, and unto His
glory, and therein to the loss of their lives many times, with all enjoyments
here below, and not propose unto them, nor provide for them, that which
shall be infinitely better than all that they so undergo. This confidence
‘hath’ this recompense of reward; that is, it gives a right and title unto the
future reward of glory: it hath in it the promise and constitution of God;
whoever abides in its exercise, shall be no longer in the issue.”
“For ye have need of patience.” The apostle did not charge them with
being destitute of this grace, for all who are born of the Spirit bear, in some
measure, the fruit of the Spirit, and this among the rest (

Galatians 5:22);
those who are brought into the kingdom of Jesus Christ, are into His
patience also (

Revelation 1:9). No, the apostle signified that they
needed the exercise, continuance, and increase of this grace: compare

Zephaniah 2:3 where the “meek” are exhorted to seek “meekness.” That
unto which the apostle would bestir these saints was, that they receive
afflictions as from the hand of God, to bear reproaches and persecutions
from men as that unto which He had “appointed” them (

1 Thessalonians
3:3), to commit their cause unto the Lord and rest in Him (

Psalm 37:5,
6); to bear up, and not sink under trials, and to live in the constant
expectation of Heaven..211
The Hebrew Christians (like we sometimes are) were tempted to become
weary of well doing. Numbers of their fellows who had once appeared to
be zealous believers, had apostatized, and the rest would soon be sorely
tried. It was necessary then that they should arm their minds with the spirit
of resignation and persevering constancy, that having done the will of God,
by steadfastly cleaving to Christ, and obeying Him through all temptations
and sufferings, they might afterwards receive the promised gift of eternal
life. The principle of this verse remains unchanged. Satan is the same, and
so also is the world, and they who will live godly cannot escape trials and
tribulations. Nor is it desirable that we should: some of the finer and more
delicate of the Christian graces can only be developed under stress and
suffering. Then how much we need to pray for God to sanctify to our good
each affliction which comes upon us, so that fruit may issue to His praise
and that we may so conduct ourselves as to be encouragements to fellow-pilgrims.
The exercise of this grace of patience is to be continued until “after ye have
done the will of God.” There is no dismission from the discharge of this
duty while we are left here upon earth. While the more immediate reference
is unto meekly bearing whatever the sovereign will of our all-wise and
infinitely loving God has ordained for us, yet the active walking in the way
of God’s commandments is also included, as is evident from the word
“done.” The will of God, as it is made known in His Word, is the alone rule
by which we are to live and all our ways are to be conformed. That
revealed will of God is not only to be believed and revered by us, but
practiced as well. No situation in which we can be placed, no threatenings
of men however terrible, can ever justify us for disobeying God. True,
there will be seasons of sore testing, times when it seems that our trials are
more than flesh and blood can endure, and then it is that we most have
“need of patience”; nor will Divine succor and supernatural grace be
withheld if we humbly and trustfully seek it.
“That, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.”
Here the “great recompense of reward” of the previous verse is designated
“the promise,” partly to guard against the error that eternal life can be
earned, or that Heaven can be merited by creature performances; and partly
to emphasize the certainty of that which is promised unto all who endure
unto the end. The “promise” is here put for the things promised, as in

Hebrews 6:12, 17;

11:13, 39. It is called “the promise” as in

1
John 2:25 etc., because it is the grand comprehensive promise, including all.212
others, being the glorious consummation to which they point. Nor should
any stumble because they cannot perceive the consistency of a thing being
both a “reward” and a “promise.” We find the same conjunction of
concepts in

Colossians 3:24,
“Ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance; for ye serve the
Lord Christ”:
it is so denominated to show that it is not merited by works, but is
bestowed by free grace, and will certainly be enjoyed by all the elect; and
yet, it will only be obtained by them as they persevere in the path of duty.
“For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will
not tarry” (verse 37).
The causal “For” denotes that the apostle was about to confirm what he
had just said: he both adds a word to strengthen their “confidence” and
“patience,” and also points them to the near approach of the time when
they should receive their “reward.” The Greek is very expressive and
emphatic. The apostle used a word which signifies “a little while,” and then
for further emphasis added a particle meaning “very,” and this he still
further intensified by repeating it; thus, literally rendered this clause reads,
“For yet a very, very little while, and He that shall come will come.”
“There is indeed nothing that avails more to sustain our minds,
should they at any time become faint, than the hope of a speedy and
near termination. As a general holds forth to his soldiers the
prospect that the war will soon end, provided they hold out a little
longer; so the apostle reminds us that the Lord will shortly come to
deliver us from all evils, provided our minds faint not through want
of firmness. And in order that this consolation might have more
assurance and authority, he adduces the testimony of Habakkuk.
But as he follows the Greek version, he departs somewhat from the
words of the prophet” (John Calvin).
Frequently does the Holy Spirit emphasize the exceeding (comparative)
brevity of the saints’ sufferings in this world;
“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning”
(

Psalm 30:5);.213
“And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly”
(

Romans 16:20);
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment”
(

2 Corinthians 4:17).
“For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not
tarry.” The reference here is to the person of the Lord Jesus, as is evident
from

Habakkuk 2:3, to which the apostle here alludes. Like so many
prophecies, that word of Habakkuk’s was to receive a threefold fulfillment:
a literal and initial one, a spiritual and continuous one, a final and complete
one. The literal was the Divine incarnation, when the Son of God came
here in flesh. The final will be His return in visible glory and power. The
spiritual has reference to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 when that
which most obstructed the manifestation of Christ’s kingdom on earth was
destroyed — with the overthrow of the Temple and its worship, official
Judaism came to an end. The Christians in Palestine were being constantly
persecuted by the Jews, but their conquest by Titus and their consequent
dispersion put an end to this. That event was less than ten years distant
when Paul wrote: compare our remarks on “see the day approaching”
(

Hebrews 10:25).
We trust that none will conclude from what has been said above that we
regard verse 37 as containing no reference to the final coming of Christ.
What we have sought to point out was the immediate purport of its
contents unto the Hebrews. But it also contains a message for us, a
message of hope and comfort. It is our privilege too to be waiting for
God’s Son from Heaven. Let us add that it is a big mistake to regard every
mention of the “coming” of Christ in the N.T. Scriptures as referring to His
“appearing the second time” (

Hebrews 9:28). In

John 14:18, 28, the
reference was to Christ’s “coming” by His Spirit; in

John 14:23 to His
“coming” in loving manifestation to the individual soul; in

Ephesians
2:17 He “came” by the Gospel; in Revelations 2:5 His “coming” is in
chastisement. Careful study of each verse is required in order to distinguish
between these several aspects.
“Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, My soul shall
have no pleasure in him” (verse 38). The first half of this verse is a
quotation from

Habakkuk 2:4, and its pertinency to the admonition
which the apostle was pressing upon the Hebrews is not difficult to
perceive. The prophet is cited in proof that perseverance is one of the.214
distinguishing characteristics of a child of God. He who has been justified
by God, through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to his account,
lives by faith as the influencing principle of his life. Thus the apostle
declared,
“The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son
of God” (

Galatians 2:20).
The one whom God has exonerated from the curse and condemnation of
the law, is not him who has merely “believed,” but is the man who
continues “believing,” with all that that word includes, and involves. Let
the reader fully note the force of the present perfect “believeth” in

John
3:15, 16, 18;

5:24 etc., and contrast the “for a while believed” of

Luke 8:13!
The use of the future tense “shall live” announces and enforces the
necessity for the continued exercise of faith. It is true that one who has
been justified by God was previously quickened, for we are “justified by
faith” (

Acts 13:39,

Romans 5:1 etc.), and one who is dead in
trespasses and sins cannot savingly believe — note the “called” before
“justified” in

Romans 8:30. It is also true that the real Christian lives by
faith, for that is the very nature of indwelling grace. But it is equally true
that the “just shall live by faith.” The constant exercise of faith by the saint
is as essential to his final salvation as it was to his initial salvation. Just as
the soul can only be delivered from the wrath to come by repentance (self-judgment)
and personal faith in the Lord Jesus, so we can only be delivered
from the power of indwelling sin, from the temptations of Satan, from an
enticing world which seeks to destroy us, by a steady and persistent
walking by faith.
Patient endurance is a fruit of faith, yet it is only as that vital and root grace
is in daily exercise, that the Christian is enabled to stand firm amid the
storms of life. Those whom God declares righteous in Christ are to pass
their lives here, not in doubt and fear, but in the maintenance of a calm
trust in and a joyful obedience to Him. Only as the heart is engaged with
God and feeds upon His Word, will the soul be invigorated and fitted to
press onwards when everything outward seems to be against him. It is by
our faith being drawn out unto things above that we receive the needed
strength which causes us to look away from the discouraging and
distracting scene around us. As faith lives upon Christ (

John 6:56, 57),
it draws virtue from Him, as the branch derives sap from the root of the.215
vine. Faith makes us resign ourselves and our affairs to Christ’s disposing,
cheerfully treading the path of duty and patiently waiting that issue which
He will give. Faith is assured that our Head knows far better than we do
what is good and best.
“But if any man draw back, My soul shall have no pleasure in him.” It
seems to the writer that the translators of the A.V. took an unwarranted
liberty with the Word of God when they inserted (in italics) the words “any
man” and changed “and” (kai) into “but”: the Holy Scripture should never
be altered to suit our ideas of evangelical truth — the R.V. correctly gives
“if he shrink back,” and Bag. Int. “and if he draw back.” Yes, if the “just”
man himself were to draw back and continue in apostasy, he would finally
perish.
“By this solemn consideration, therefore, the apostle urges on them
the importance of perseverance, and the guilt and danger of
apostasy from the Christian faith. If such a case should occur, no
matter what might have been the former condition, and no matter
what love or zeal might have been evinced, yet such an apostasy
would expose the individual to the certain wrath of God. His
former love could not save him, any more than the former
obedience of the angels saved them from the horrors of eternal
chains and darkness” (A. Barnes).
“And if he drew back, My soul shall have no pleasure in him.” Once more
the apostle faithfully warns the Hebrew Christians (and us) of the dreadful
consequence which would attend the continuance in a course of
backsliding. He who thinks that by refusing to take up his cross daily and
follow the example left by Christ, can escape the world’s reproach and
persecution and yet go to Heaven, is fatally deluding himself. Said the Lord
Jesus, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it” (

Matthew 16:25):
that is, he who is so diligent in looking after his temporal prospects,
worldly reputation and personal comforts, shall eternally lose his soul.
It was to stir up the Hebrews unto the more diligent laboring after living
the life of faith that the apostle here pointed out the terrible alternative:
unless they maintained a steady trust in God and an obedient submission
unto His revealed will, they were in grave danger of backsliding and
apostatizing. If any should “draw back” then God would have “no pleasure
in him,” which is but the negative way of saying that he would be an object
of abhorrence. But observe closely, it does not say God would have “no.216
more pleasure in him,” which would conflict with the uniform teaching of
the Word concerning the unchanging love of God (

Malachi 3:6,

John 13:1,

Romans 8:35-39) toward His own. O the minute
accuracy of Holy Writ! The practical application of this solemn word to us
is, that in order to have a scripturally-grounded assurance of God’s taking
pleasure in us, we must continue cleaving closely unto Him.
“But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of
them that believe to the saving of the soul” (verse 39).
The word “perdition” shows plainly that the “drawing back” of the
previous verse is a fatal and final one. Nevertheless, so far is verse 38 from
establishing the doom of any child of God, the apostle assures the Hebrews
that no such fate would overtake them. What is added here in this verse,
was to prevent their being unduly affrighted with the solemn warnings
previously given, and lest they should conclude that Paul thought evilly of
them: though he had warned, he did not regard them as treading the broad
road to destruction, instead he was “persuaded better things of them”
(

Hebrews 6:9).
“Let it be noticed that this truth belongs also to us, for we, whom
God has favored with the light of the Gospel, ought to
acknowledge that we have been called in order that we may
advance more and more in our obedience to God, and strive
constantly to draw nearer to Him. This is the real preservation of
the soul, for by so doing we shall escape eternal perdition” (John
Calvin).
“In this the apostle expresses the fullest conviction that none of those to
whom he wrote would apostatize. The case which he had been describing
was only a supposable case, not one which he believed would occur. He
had only been stating what must happen if a sincere Christian should
apostatize. But he did not mean to say that this would occur in regard to
them. He made a statement of a general principle under the Divine
administration, and he designed that this should be a means of keeping
them in the path of life” (A. Barnes). Christians may grow cold, neglect the
means of grace, backslide, fall into grievous sins as did David and Peter;
but they shall not “draw back unto perdition.” No, they have been
predestinated “to be conformed unto” the image of Christ (

Romans
8:29), and God’s purpose cannot fail. They are the objects of Christ’s
intercession (

John 17:15, 24), and that is efficacious (

John 11:42)..217
They are restored by the good Shepherd when they go astray (

Psalm
23:3).
As the term “perdition” denoted that eternal damnation is the doom of
apostates, so the word “salvation” here has reference to that ultimate
consummation of the portion of all true believers. It is to be carefully noted
that the apostle did not say, “them that have believed to the salvation of the
soul,” but “them that believe to the saving of the soul.” The difference is
real and radical. There is a blessed sense in which every regenerated
believer has been saved by Christ, yet there is also another and most
important sense in which his salvation is yet future: see

Romans 13:11,

1 Peter 1:5, 9. The complete and final salvation of the Christian is
dependent upon his continued trust in and obedience to God in Christ, not
as the cause thereof, yet as the indispensable means thereto.
It is gloriously true that Christians are “kept by the power of God.” He
who prepares Heaven for them preserves them unto it. But by what
instrument or means? The same verse tells us: “through faith” (

1 Peter
1:5). To depend upon an invisible God for a happiness that awaits us in an
invisible world, when in the meantime He permits us to be harassed with all
sorts of temptations, trials and troubles, requires faith — real faith,
supernatural faith. Through faith alone can the heart be sustained till we
obtain salvation. Nothing but a God-given and God-maintained faith can
enable us to row against the stream of flesh and blood, and so deny its
cravings that we shall win through to Heaven at last. The “flesh” is for
sparing and pampering the body; but “faith” is for the “saving of the soul.”.218
CHAPTER 56
THE EXCELLENCY OF FAITH
(

HEBREWS 11:1-3)
Ere we take up the contents of the 11th chapter let us briefly review the
sound already covered. Chapters 1 and 2 are more or less introductory in
their character. In them the wondrous person of the God-man Mediator is
presented to our view, as superior to the O.T. prophets and as excelling the
angels. The first main division of the Epistle commences at

Hebrews 3:1
and runs to the end of

Hebrews 4:15, and treats of the mission of
Christ: this is seen to surpass that of either Moses or Joshua, for neither of
them led the people into the real rest of God; the section is followed by a
practical application in

Hebrews 4:16. The second principal division
begins with

Hebrews 5:1 and extends to

Hebrews 10:18, and deals
with the priesthood of Christ: this is shown to transcend the Aaronic in
dignity, efficacy and permanency; the section is followed by a practical
application, contained in

Hebrews 10:19 to

Hebrews 12:29. The
closing chapter forms a conclusion to the Epistle.
“The general nature of this Epistle, as unto the kind of writing, is
paranetical or hortatory, which is taken from its end and design.
The exhortation proposed is to constancy and perseverance in the
faith of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the profession of the Gospel,
against temptations and persecutions. Both these the Hebrews had
to conflict with in their profession; the one from the Judaical
church-state itself, the other from the members of it. Their
temptations to draw back and forsake their profession, arose from
the consideration of the Judaical church-state and Mosaic
ordinances of worship, which they were called by the Gospel to
relinquish. The Divine institution of that state, with its worship, the
solemnity of the covenant whereon it was established, the glory of
its priesthood, sacrifices and other Divine ordinances (

Romans
9:4), with their efficacy for acceptance with God, were continually
proposed unto them, and pressed on them, to allure and draw them.219
off from the Gospel. And the trial was very great, after the
inconsistency of the two states was made manifest. This gave
occasion to the whole doctrinal part of the Epistle, the exposition
of which, by Divine grace and assistance, we have passed through.
For therein declaring the nature, use, end, and signification of all
Divine institutions under the O.T.; and allowing unto them all the
glory and efficacy which they could pretend unto, the writer of this
Epistle declares from the Scripture itself that the state of the Gospel
church, in its high-priest, sacrifice, covenant, worship, privileges
and efficacy, is incomparably to be preferred above that of the
O.T.; yea, that all the excellency and glory of that state, and all that
belonged unto it, consisted only in the representation that was made
thereby, of the greater glory of Christ and the Gospel, without
which they were of no use, and therefore ruinous or pernicious to
be persisted in.
“After he had fixed their minds in the truth, and armed them against
the temptations which they were continually exposed to; the apostle
proceeds to the second means, whereby their steadiness and
constancy in the profession of the Gospel, which he exhorted them
unto, was already assaulted, and was yet like to be assaulted with
greater force and fury. This arose from the opposition which befell
them, and from the persecutions of all sorts that they had endured,
and were still like to undergo, for their faith in Christ Jesus with the
profession thereof, and observance of the holy worship ordained in
the Gospel. This they suffered from the obstinate members of the
Jewish church, as they did the other (temptation) from the state of
that church itself. An account hereof the apostle enters upon in the
close of the foregoing chapter; and withal declares unto them the
only way and means on their part, whereby they may be preserved,
and kept constant in their profession notwithstanding all the evils
that might befall them therein, and this is by faith alone. From their
temptations they were delivered by the doctrine of the truth, and
from the opposition made unto them, by faith in exercise” (John
Owen).
The particular character of the section begun at

Hebrews 10:19 is not
difficult to ascertain: it is addressed to our responsibility. This is at once
evident in the “Let us” of

Hebrews 10:22, 23, 24. In

Hebrews
10:32-36 there is a call to patient waiting for the fulfillment of God’s.220
promises. Nothing but real faith in the veracity of the Promiser can sustain
the heart and prompt to steady endurance during a protracted season of
trial and suffering. Hence in

Hebrews 10:38 the apostle quotes that
striking word from Habakkuk, “The just shall live by faith.” That sentence
really forms the text of which Hebrews 11 is the sermon. The central
design of this chapter is to evidence the patience of those who, in former
ages, endured by faith before they received the fulfillment of God’s
promises: note particularly verses 13, 39.
“Whoever made this (verse 1) the beginning of the eleventh
chapter, has unwisely disjointed the context; for the object of the
apostle was to prove what he had already said — that there is need
of patience. He had quoted the testimony of Habakkuk, who says
that the just lives by faith; he now shows what remained to be
proved — that faith can be no more separated from patience than
from itself. The order then of what he says is this: ‘We shall not
reach the goal of salvation except we have patience, for the prophet
declares that the just lives by faith; but faith directs us to things afar
off which we do not as yet enjoy; it then necessarily includes
patience.’ Therefore the minor proposition in the argument is this,
‘Faith is the substance of things hoped for’” (John Calvin).
“The apostle now, for the illustration and enforcement of his
exhortation, brings forward a great variety of instances, from the
history of former ages, in which faith had enabled individuals to
perform very difficult duties, endure very severe trials, and obtain
very important blessings. The principles of the apostle’s exhortation
are plainly these: ‘They who turn back, turn back unto perdition. It
is only they who persevere in believing that obtain the salvation of
the soul. Nothing but a persevering faith can enable a person,
through a constant continuance in well-doing, and a patient, humble
submission to the will of God, to obtain that glory, honor, and
immortality which the Gospel promises. Nothing but a persevering
faith can do this; and a persevering faith can do it, as is plain from
what it has done in former ages” (John Brown).
The order of thought followed by the apostle in Hebrews 11 was ably and
helpfully set forth by an early Puritan:
“The parts of this whole chapter are two: 1. a general description
of faith: verses 1 to 4. 2. An illustration or declaration of that.221
description, by a large rehearsal of manifold examples of ancient
and worthy men in the Old Testament: verses 4 to 40. The
description of faith consists of three actions or effects of faith, set
down in three several verses. The first effect is that faith makes
things which are not (but only are hoped for), after a sort, to subsist
and to be present with the believer: verse 1. The second effect is
that faith makes a believer approved of God: verse 2. The third
effect is that faith makes a man understand and believe things
incredible to sense and reason” (Win. Perkins, 1595).
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of
things not seen” (verse 1).
The opening “Now” has almost the force of “for,” denoting a farther
confirmation of what had just been declared. At the close of chapter 10 the
apostle had just affirmed that the saving of the soul is obtained through
believing, whereupon he now takes occasion to show what faith is and
does. That faith can, and does, preserve the soul, prompting to
steadfastness under all sorts of trials and issuing in salvation, may not only
be argued from the effects which is its very nature to produce, but is
illustrated and demonstrated by one example after another, cited in the
verses which follow. It is important to bear in mind at the outset that
Hebrews 11 is an amplification and exemplification of

Hebrews 10:38,
39: the “faith” which the apostle is describing and illustrating is that which
has the saving of the soul annexed to it.
“In verse 1 there is the thing described, and the description itself.
The thing described is Faith; the description is this: ‘It is the
substance of things hoped for’ etc. The description is proper,
according to the rules of art: habits (or graces) are described by
their formal acts, and acts restrained to their proper objects; so faith
is here described by its primary and formal acts, which are referred
to their distinct objects. The acts of faith are two: it is the
substance, it is the evidence. Think it not strange that I call them
acts, for that. is it the apostle intends; therefore Beza says, in
rendering this place, he had rather paraphrase the text than obscure
the scope, and he interpreteth it thus — Faith substantiates or gives
a subsistence to our hopes, and demonstrates things not seen. There
is a great deal of difference between the acts of faith and the effects
of faith. The effects of faith are reckoned up throughout this.222
chapter; the formal acts of faith are in this verse. These acts are
suited with their objects. As the matters of belief are yet to come,
faith gives them a substance, a being, as they are hidden from the
eyes of sense and carnal reason; faith also gives them an evidence,
and doth convince men of the worth of them; so that one of these
acts belongs to the understanding, the other to the will” (Thos.
Manton, 1670).
The contents of verse 1 do not furnish so much a formal definition of faith,
as they supply a terse description of how it operates and what it produces.
Faith, whether natural or spiritual, is the belief of a testimony. Here, faith is
believing the testimony of God. How it operates in reference to the
subjects of this testimony, whether they be considered simply as future, or
as both invisible and future, and the effects produced in and on the soul,
the Holy Spirit here explains. First, He tells us that “faith is the substance
of things hoped for.” The Greek word rendered “substance” has been
variously translated. The margin of the A.V. gives “ground or confidence.”
The R.V. has “assurance” in the text, and “giving substance to” in the
margin. The Greek word is “hypostasis” and is rendered “confident’’
(should be “this confidence of boasting,” as in Bag. Int.) in both

2
Corinthians 9:4 and

11:17; “person” (should be “subsistence” or
“essential being”) in

Hebrews 1:3; and “confidence” in

Hebrews
3:14. Personally, the writer believes it has a double force, so will seek to
expound it accordingly.
“Faith is the confidence of things hoped for.” In this chapter (and in
general throughout the N.T.) “faith” is far more than a bare assent to any
thing revealed and declared by God: it is a firm persuasion of that which is
hoped for, because it assures its possessor not only that there are such
things, but that through the power and faithfulness of God he shall yet
possess them. Thus it becomes the ground of expectation. The Word of
God is the objective foundation on which my hopes rest, but faith provides
a subjective foundation, for it convinces me of the certainty of them. Faith
and confidence are inseparable: just so far as I am counting upon the ability
and fidelity of the Promiser, shall I be confident of receiving the things
promised and which I am expecting. “We believe and are sure” (

John
6:69).
From what has just been said, the reader will perhaps perceive better the
force of the rather peculiar word “substance” in the text of the A.V. It.223
comes from two Latin words, sub stans meaning “standing under.” Faith
provides a firm standing-ground while I await the fulfillment of God’s
promises. Faith furnishes my heart with a sure support during the interval.
Faith believes God and relies upon His veracity: as it does so, the heart is
anchored and remains steady, no matter how fierce the storm nor how
protracted the season of waiting.
“These all died in faith, not having received the (fulfillment of the)
promises; but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of
them, and embraced them” (

Hebrews 11:13).
Real faith issues in a confident and standing expectation of future things.
“Faith is the substance of things hoped for”: as the marginal reading of the
R.V. suggests, “giving substance to.” Crediting the sure testimony of God,
resting on His promises, and expecting the accomplishment of them, faith
gives the object hoped for at a future period, a present reality and power in
the soul, as if already possessed; for the believer is satisfied with the
security afforded, and acts under the full persuasion that God will not fail
of His engagement. Faith gives the soul an appropriating hold of them.
“Faith is a firm persuasion and expectation that God will perform
all that He has promised to us in Christ; and this persuasion is so
strong that it gives the soul a kind of possession and present
fruition of those things, gives them a subsistence in the soul by the
firstfruits and foretastes of them; so that believers in the exercise of
faith are filled with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (Matthew
Henry).
The confident expectation which faith inspires, gives the objects of the
Christian’s hope a present and actual being in his heart. Faith does not look
out with cold thoughts about things to come, but imparts life and reality to
them. Faith does for us spiritually what fancy does for us naturally. There is
a faculty of the understanding which enables us to picture to the mind’s eye
things which are yet future. But faith does more: it gives not an imaginary
appearance to things, but a real subsistence. Faith is a grace which unites
subject and object: there is no need to ascend to Heaven, for faith makes
distant things nigh (see

Romans 10:6, 7). Faith, then, is the bond of
union between the soul and the things God has promised. By believing we
“receive”; by believing in Christ, He becomes ours (

John 1:12)..224
Therefore does faith enable the Christian to praise the Lord for future
blessings as though he were already in the full possession of them.
But how does faith bring to the heart a present subsistence of future things?
First, by drawing from the promises that which, by Divine institution, is
stored up in them: hence they are called the “breasts of consolation”
(

Isaiah 66:11).
Second, by making the promises the food of the soul (

Jeremiah 15:16),
which cannot be unless they are really present unto it.
Third, by conveying an experience of their power, as unto all the ends of
which they are purposed: it is as Divine truth is appropriated and
assimilated that it becomes powerfully operative in the soul.
Fourth, by communicating unto us the firstfruits of the promises: faith
gives a living reality to what it absorbs, and so real and potent is the
impression made, that the heart is changed into the same image (

2
Corinthians 3:18).
Ere passing on, let us pause for a word of application. Many profess to
“believe,” but what influence have their hopes upon them? How are they
affected by the things which their faith claims to have laid hold of? I
profess to believe that sin is a most heinous thing — do I fear, hate, shun
it? I believe that ere long I shall stand before the judgment-seat of Christ
— does my conduct evince that I am living in the light of that solemn day?
I believe that the world is an empty bauble — do I despise its painted
tinsel? I believe that God will supply all my need — am I fearful about the
morrow? I believe that prayer is an essential means unto growth in grace
— do I spend much time in the secret place? I believe that Christ is coming
back again — am I diligent in seeking to have my lamp trimmed and
burning? Faith is evident by its fruits, works, effects.
Faith is “the evidence of things not seen.” The Greek noun here rendered
“evidence” (“proving” in the R.V., with “test” in the margin) is derived
from a verb which signifies to convince, and that by demonstration. It was
used by the Lord Jesus when He uttered that challenge, “which of you
convicteth Me of sin?” (

John 8:46). The noun occurs in only one other
place, namely,

2 Timothy 3:16, “All scripture is… profitable for
doctrine, for reproof,” or “conviction” — to give assurance and certainty
of what is true. Thus, the word “evidence” in our text denotes teat which.225
furnishes proof, so that one is assured of the reality and certainty of things
Divine. “Faith,” then, is first the hand of the soul which “lays hold of” the
contents of God’s promises; second, it is the eye of the soul which looks
out toward and represents them clearly and convincingly to us.
To unbelievers the invisible, spiritual, and future things revealed in God’s
Word seem dubious and unreal, for they have no medium to perceive them:
“the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for
they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because
they are spiritually discerned” (

1 Corinthians 2:14).
But the child of God sees “Him who is invisible” (

Hebrews 11:27).
Perhaps we might illustrate it thus: two men stand on the deck of a ship
gazing toward the far horizon; the one sees nothing, the other describes the
details of a distant steamer. The former has only his unaided eyesight, the
latter is using a telescope! Now just as a powerful glass brings home to the
eye an object beyond the range of natural vision, so faith gives reality to
the heart of things outside the range of our physical senses. Faith sets
Divine things before the soul in all the light and power of demonstration,
and thus provides inward conviction of their existence.
“Faith demonstrates to the eye of the mind the reality of those
things which cannot be discerned by the eye of the body” (Matthew
Henry).
The natural man prefers a life of sense, and to believe nothing more than
that which is capable of scientifical demonstration. When eternal things, yet
invisible, are pressed upon him, he is full of objections against them. Those
are the objections of unbelief, stirred into activity by the “fiery darts” of
Satan, and naught but the shield of faith can quench them. But when the
Holy Spirit renews the heart, the prevailing power of unbelief is broken;
faith argues “God has said it, so it must be true.” Faith so convinces the
understanding that it is compelled, by force of arguments unanswerable, to
believe the certainty of all God has spoken. The conviction is so powerful
that the heart is influenced thereby, and the will moved to conform thereto.
This it is which causes the Christian to forsake the “pleasures of sin” which
are only “for a season” (

Hebrews 11:25), because by faith he has laid
hold of those satisfying “pleasures at God’s right hand” which are “for
evermore” (

Psalm 16:11)..226
To sum up the contents of verse 1. To unbelief, the objects which God sets
before us in His Word seem unreal and unlikely, nebulous and vague. But
faith visualizes the unseen, giving substantiality to the things hoped for and
reality to things invisible. Faith shuts its eyes to all that is seen, and opens
its ears to all God has said. Faith is a convictive power which overcomes
carnal reasonings, carnal prejudices, and carnal excuses. It enlightens the
judgment, moulds the heart, moves the will, and reforms the life. It takes us
off earthly things and worldly vanities, and occupies us with spiritual and
Divine realities. It emboldens against discouragements, laughs at
difficulties, resists the Devil, and triumphs over temptations. It does so
because it unites the soul to God and draws strength from Him. Thus faith
is altogether a supernatural thing.
“For by it the elders obtained a good report” (verse 2).
Having described the principal qualities of faith, the apostle now proceeds
to give further proof of its excellency, as is evident from the opening
“For.” It is by faith we are approved of God. By the “elders” is signified
those who lived in former times, namely, the O.T. saints — included
among the “fathers” or

Hebrews 1:1. It was not by their amiability,
sincerity, earnestness, or any other natural virtue, but by faith that the
ancients “obtained a good report.” This declaration was made by the
apostle with the purpose of reminding the Hebrews that their pious
progenitors were justified by faith, and to the end of the chapter he shows
that faith was the principle of all their holy obedience, eminent services,
and patient sufferings in the cause of God. Therefore those who were
spiritually united to them must have something more than physical descent
from them.
“For by it the elders obtained a good report.” Observe the beautiful
accuracy of Scripture: it was not for their faith (nor could it be without it!),
but “by” their faith: it was not a cause, yet it was a condition; there was
nothing meritorious in it, yet it was a necessary means. Let us also observe
that faith is no new thing, but a grace planted in the hearts of God’s elect
from the beginning. Then, as now, faith was the substance of things hoped
for — promises to be accomplished in the future. The faith of Abel laid
hold of Christ as truly as does ours. God has had but one way of salvation
since sin entered the world: “by grace, through faith, not of works.” They
are grossly mistaken who suppose that under the old covenant people were.227
saved by keeping the law. The “fathers” had the same promises we have:
not merely of Canaan, but of heaven — see

Hebrews 11:16.
The Greek for “obtained a good report” is not in the active voice, but the
passive: literally, “were witnessed of,” an honorable testimony being borne
to them — cf., verses 4, 5. God took care that a record should be kept
(complete in Heaven, in part transcribed in the Scriptures) of all the actings
of their faith. God has borne witness to the fact that Enoch “walked with
Him” (

Genesis 5:24), that David was “a man after His own heart” (

1
Samuel 13:14), that Abraham was His “friend” (

2 Chronicles 20:7).
This testimony of His acceptance of them because of their faith was borne
by God. Not only externally in His Word, but in their consciences. He gave
them His Spirit who assured them of their acceptance:

Psalm 51:12,

Acts 15:8. Let writer and reader learn to esteem what God does: let us
value a Christian not for his intellect, natural charms, or social position, but
for his faith, evidenced by an obedient walk and godly life.
We cannot do better in closing our comments upon verse 2 than by giving
the “practical observations” on it of John Owen:
“1. Instances or examples are the most powerful confirmations of
practical truths.
2. They who have a good testimony from God shall never want
reproaches from the world.
3. It is faith alone, which, from the beginning of the world (or from the
giving of the first promise), was the means and way of obtaining
acceptance with God.
4. The faith of true believers, from the beginning of the world, was
fixed on things future, hoped for, invisible.
5. That faith whereby men please God acts itself in a fixed
contemplation on things future and invisible, from whence it derived an
encouragement and strength to endure and abide firm in profession,
against all opposition and persecutions.
6. Men may be despised, vilified, and reproached in the world, yet if
they have faith, if they are true believers, they are accepted with God,
and He will give them a good report.”.228
“Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the
word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of
things which do appear” (verse 3).
There is a much closer connection between this verse and the two
preceding ones than most of the commentators have perceived. The apostle
is still setting forth the importance and excellency of faith: here he affirms
that. through it its favored possessors are enabled to apprehend things
which are high above the reach of human reason. The origin of the universe
presents a problem which neither science nor philosophy can solve, as is
evident from their conflicting and ridiculous attempts; but that difficulty
vanishes entirely before faith.
“Through faith we understand.” Faith is the vehicle or medium of spiritual
perception:
“if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God”
(

John 11:40);
“which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them
which believe and know the truth” (

1 Timothy 4:3).
Faith is not a blind reliance on the Word of God, but an intelligent
persuasion of its veracity, wisdom, beauty. So far from Christians being the
credulous fools the world deems them, they are the wisest of earth’s
inhabitants. The “fools” are they who are “slow of heart to believe”
(

Luke 24:25). Through faith in what has been revealed in the Scriptures
we know that the universe is created and fashioned by God.
“What does faith give us to understand concerning the worlds, that
is, the upper, middle, lower regions of the universe?
1. That they were not eternal, nor did they produce themselves, but
they were made by another.
2. That the Maker of the world is God; He is the Maker of all things;
and whosoever is so must be God.
3. That He made the world with great exactness; it was a framed work,
in every thing duly adapted and disposed to answer its end, and to
express the perfections of the Creator..229
4. That God made the world by His word; that is, by His essential
wisdom and eternal Son, and by His active will, saying, Let it be done,
and it was done.
5. That the world was thus framed out of nothing, out of no pre-existent
matter, contrary to the received maxim, that out of nothing
nothing can be made, which, though true of created power, can have
no place with God, who can call things that are not as if they were, and
command them into being. These things we understand by faith”
(Matthew Henry).
“That the worlds were framed by the word of God.” The word for
“worlds” in the Greek signifies “ages,” but by a metonymy it is here used
of the universe.
“The celestial world, with its inhabitants, the angels; the starry and
ethereal worlds, with all that is in them, the sun, moon, stars, and
fowls of the air; the terrestrial world, with all upon it, man, beasts
etc.; and the watery world, the sea, and all that is therein” (John
Gill).
These “worlds were made at the beginning of mundane time and have
continued throughout all ages.
“The apostle accommodated his expression to the received opinion
of the Jews, and their way of expressing themselves about the
world. ‘Olam’ denotes the world as to the subsistence of it, and as
to its duration” (John Owen).
We do not, then, espouse Bullinger’s strange view of this verse.
The “worlds,” or universe, were “framed,” that is, were adjusted and
disposed into a wise and beautiful order, by “the word of God.” That
expression is used in a threefold sense. First, there is the essential and
personal Word, the eternal Son of God (

John 1:1). Second, there is the
written, ever-living Word, the Holy Scriptures (

John 10:35). Third,
there is the Word of Power or manifestation of the invincible will of God.
It is the last-mentioned that is in view in

Hebrews 11:3. The Greek for
“word” is not “logos” (as in

John 1:1), but “rhema” (as in

Hebrews
1:3); “rhema” signifies a word spoken. The reference is to God’s imperial
fiat. His effectual command, as throughout Genesis 1: “God said (the
manifestation of His invincible will) let light be, and light was.” “For He.230
spake, and it was done; He commanded and it stood fast” (

Psalm 33:9).
An illustration of the Word of His Power (see

Hebrews 1:3) is found in

John 5:28, 29.
“So that things which are seen, were not made of things which do appear.”
There is some difficulty (in the Greek) in ascertaining the precise meaning
of this phrase. Personally, we are inclined to regard it as referring back to

Genesis 1:2. The verse before us concerns more directly the fashioning
of the present heavens and earth, though that necessarily presupposes their
original creation. The elements were submerged and darkness enshrouded
them. The practical force of this verse to us is: our “faith” does not rest
upon what “appears” outwardly, but is satisfied with the bare Word of
God. Since God created the universe out of nothing, how easily can He
preserve and sustain us when there is not anything (to our view) in sight!
He who can call worlds into existence by the Word of His Power, can
command supplies for the neediest of His creatures..231
CHAPTER 57
THE FAITH OF ABEL
(

HEBREWS 11:4)
The 11th chapter of Hebrews has three divisions. The first, which
comprises verses 1 to 3, is introductory, setting forth the excellency of
faith. The second, which is covered by verses 4 to 7, outlines the life of
faith. The third, which begins at verse 8 and runs to the end of the chapter,
fills in that outline, and, as well, describes the achievements of faith. The
first division we went over in our last article. There we saw the excellency
of faith proved by four facts. Faith gives a reality and substantiality unto
those things which the Word of God warrants us to hope for (verse 1).
Faith furnishes proof to the heart of those spiritual things which cannet be
discovered by our natural senses (verse 1). Faith secured to the O.T. saints
a good report (verse 2). Faith enables its favored possessor to understand
that which is incomprehensible to mere reason, imparting a knowledge to
which philosophers and scientists are strangers (verse 3). Thus, the
tremendous importance and inestimable value of faith is at once apparent.
The second division of our chapter may be outlined thus. First, the
beginning of the life of faith (verse 4). Second, the character of the life of
faith, showing of what it consists (verse 5). Third, a warning and an
encouragement is given (verse 6). Fourth, the end of the life of faith, or the
goal to which it conducts (verse 7). That which the Holy Spirit now sets
before us, is far more than a list of O.T. worthies, or a miniature picture-gallery
of the saints of bygone days. To those whom God grants a
receptive heart and anointed eye, there is here deep and important doctrinal
instruction, as well as most blessed practical teaching. The contents of
Hebrews 11 concern our eternal peace, and it behooves us to give them
our most prayerful and diligent attention. May it please the Spirit of Truth
to act as our Guide, as we seek to pass from verse to verse.
“By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than
Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God.232
testifying of his gifts; and by it he being dead yet speaketh” (verse
4).
Rightly understood, this verse describes the beginning of the life of faith.
Let us seek to weigh attentively each separate expression in it.
First, it was “by faith” that Abel offered unto God his sacrifice. He is the
first man, according to the sacred record, who ever did so. He had no
established precedent to follow, no example to emulate, no outward
encouragement to stimulate. Thus, his conduct was not suggested by
popular custom, nor was his action regulated by “common sense.” Neither
carnal reason nor personal inclinations could have moved Abel to present a
bleeding lamb for God’s acceptance. How, then, is his strange procedure to
be accounted for? Our text answers: it was “by faith” he acted, and not by
fancy or by feelings. But what is signified by this expression? Ah, the mere
words “by faith” are far more familiar unto many, than their real import is
understood. Vague and visionary indeed are the conceptions which
multitudes now entertain thereon. We must not, then, take anything for
granted; but rather proceed slowly, and seek to make quite sure of our
ground.
The one scripture which, perhaps, more than any other unlocks for us the
meaning of the “by faith” which is found so frequently in Hebrews 11 is

Romans 10:17. There we read, “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by
the Word of God.” Faith must have a foundation to rest upon, and that
foundation must be the Word of Him that cannot lie. God speaks, and the
heart receives and acts upon what He says. True, there are two kinds of
“hearing,” just as there are two kinds of “faith.” There is an outward
“hearing,” and there is an inward “hearing”: the one merely informs, the
other influences; the one simply instructs the mind, the other moulds the
heart and moves the will. So there is a twofold meaning to the term “The
Word of God” (see our remarks on

Hebrews 11:3), namely, the Word
as written, and the Word as operative, when God speaks in living power to
the soul. Hence, there is a twofold “faith”: the one which is merely an
intellectual assenting to what God has revealed, and that which is a vital
and supernatural principle of action, which “worketh by love”
(

Galatians 5:6).
Now we need hardly say that it is the second of these which is in view here
in

Hebrews 11:4, and throughout the chapter. But let us move carefully,
step by step. It was “by faith” that Abel offered unto God his acceptable.233
sacrifice, and as

Romans 10:17 declares, “faith cometh by hearing and
hearing by the Word of God.” It therefore follows that God had definitely
revealed His will, that Abel believed that revelation, and that he acted
accordingly. Now in O.T. times, God spake to men sometimes directly,
sometimes through others. In this instance, we believe the reference is to
what God had said to Adam and Eve, and which they had communicated to
Cain and Abel. By turning back to Genesis 3 we discover what the Lord
said to their parents.
“Unto the woman He said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and
thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy
desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto
Adam He said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy
wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee,
saying, Thou shalt not eat of it; cursed is the ground for thy sake; in
sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and
thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the
field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return
unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken; for dust thou art,
and unto dust shalt thou return” (

Genesis 3:16-19).
But further:
“Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of
skins, and clothed them” (verse 21).
Here the Lord spoke to Adam and Eve by action: four things were clearly
intimated. First, that in order for a sinner to stand before the thrice holy
God, he needed a covering. Second, that that which was of human
manufacture (

Hebrews 3:7), was worthless. Third, that God Himself
must provide the requisite covering. Fourth, that the necessary covering
could only be obtained by death, by blood-shedding.
In

Genesis 3:15 and 21 we have the first Gospel-sermon which was
ever preached on this earth, and that, by the Lord Himself. Life must come
out of death. Cain and Abel, and the whole human race, sinned in Adam
(

Romans 5:12, 18, 19), and the wages of sin is death, penal death.
Either I must be paid those wages and suffer that death, or another — an
innocent one, on whom death has no claim — must be paid those wages in
my stead. And in order to my receiving the benefit of that substitute’s
compassion, there must be a link of contact between me and him. Faith it.234
is which unites to Christ. Saving faith, then, in its simplest form, is the
placing of a Substitute between my guilty self and a sin-hating God.
Now what we have just gone over above, was made known (probably
through Adam) to Cain and Abel. How do we know this? Because, as we
have seen, Abel brought his offerings to God “by faith,” and

Romans
10:17 makes it clear that “faith” presupposes a Divine revelation. Further
confirmation of this is found in

Genesis 4:7: when Cain’s countenance
fell at the rejection of his offering, the Lord said unto him, “If thou doest
well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the
door.” Thus a Divine institution of sacrifice, clearly defined and made
known, is here plainly implied. It was as though God had said to Cain,
“Did I promise to accept any other offering than which conformed to My
prescription?”
“By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.”
Three things here claim our attention: the spring of Abel’s action (faith),
the nature of his offering, wherein it was more excellent than Cain’s. The
first of these we have already considered, the second we will now examine.
The language of our present verse refers us back to Genesis 4; there we
read, “And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat
thereof” (verse 4). His action here (“brought”) is in sharp contrast from his
parents in

Genesis 3:8, who “hid themselves from the presence of the
Lord God.” The contrast is most significant: a consciousness of guilt
caused Adam and Eve to flee; a sense of need moved Abel to seek the
Lord. The difference between them is to be attributed unto the respective
workings of conscience and faith. An uneasy conscience never of itself,
leads to Christ —
“And they which heard, being convicted by their own conscience,
went out one by one… and Jesus was left alone” (

John 8:9).
“And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the
fat thereof” (

Genesis 4:4).
The separate mention of the “fat” tells us that the lamb had been slain. By
killing the lamb and offering it to God, Abel acknowledged at least five
things.
First, he owned that God was righteous in driving fallen man out of
Eden (

Genesis 3:24)..235
Second, he owned that he was a guilty sinner, and that death was his
just due.
Third, he owned that God was holy, and must punish sin.
Fourth, he owned that God was merciful, and willing to accept the
death of an innocent substitute in his place.
Fifth, he owned that he looked for acceptance with God in Christ the
Lamb. Therefore did he, by faith, place the blood of his firstlings of his
flock (type of Him who is “the Firstborn” or Head “of every creature”

Colossians 1:15) between his sins and the avenging justice of
God.
Here, then, is where the life of faith begins. There must first be a bowing
unto the righteous verdict of the Divine Judge that I am a sinner, a
transgressor, of His holy law, and therefore justly under its “curse” or
death-sentence. No excuses have I to offer, no merits have I to plead, no
mitigation of the sentence can I fairly ask for. My best performances are
only filthy rags in the sight of Him who knows that they were wrought out
of self-love and to promote self’s interests, rather than for His glory. I can
but plead guilty, and hide my face for very shame. But as the Gospel of His
grace is applied to my stricken conscience by the power of the Spirit, hope
revives. As He makes known to me the amazing fact that the Lamb of God
died so that all who bow to God’s verdict, own themselves as lost, and
hate themselves for their sins, might live; and then faith stretches forth a
trembling hand and lays hold of the Redeemer, and the criminal is
pardoned, and accepted by God.
Having pondered the character of Abel’s sacrifice, let us now consider
wherein it was “more excellent” than Cain’s. In

Genesis 4:3 we read,
“Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord.” Cain
was no infidel, for he owned the existence of God; nor was he irreligious,
for he came before Him as a worshipper; but he refused to conform to the
Divine appointment. By carefully noting the nature of his offering, we may
observe four things.
First, it was a bloodless one, and “without shedding of blood is no
remission” (

Hebrews 9:22).
Second, it was merely the fruit of his toils, the product of his labors..236
Third, he deliberately ignored the sentence of God in

Genesis 3:17:
“Cursed is the ground.”
Fourth, he despised the grace made known in

Genesis 3:21.
Thus, in Cain we behold the first hypocrite. He refused to comply with the
revealed will of God, yet cloaked his rebellion by coming before Him as a
worshipper. He would not obey the Divine appointment, yet brought an
offering to the Lord. He believed not that his case was so desperate that
death was his due, and could only be escaped by another suffering it in his
stead; yet he sought to approach unto the Lord, and patronize Him. This is
the “way of Cain” spoken of by Jude (verse 11). It is the way of self-will,
of unbelief, of disobedience, and of religious hypocrisy. What a contrast
from Abel! Thus we see how there was a striking foreshadowment from
the beginning of human history that the church on earth is a mixed
assembly, made up of wheat and tares.
Cain and Abel stand before us as two representative men. They head the
two, and the only two classes, which are to be found in the religious world.
They typified, respectively, the two sections of Christendom. Cain, the
elder, who is mentioned first in Genesis 4 and therefore represents the
prominent section, sets forth that vast company who honor God with their
lips, but whose hearts are far from Him; who think to pay God a
compliment, but who refuse to meet His requirements; who pose as
worshippers, but live to please themselves. Abel, on the other hand, hated
by Cain, foreshadowed that “little flock,” the members of which are
brought to feel their sinner-hood, bow to God’s will, comply with His
commandments, fly to Christ for refuge, and are accepted by God.
Most solemnly too do Cain and Abel furnish us with a striking example of
the sovereignty of Divine grace. Both of them were “shapen in iniquity and
conceived in sin,” for both were the fallen sons of fallen parents, and both
of them were born outside of Eden; yet one was “of that Wicked one”
(

1 John 3:12), while the other was one of God’s elect. Marvelously and
most blessedly may we here behold the fact that sovereign grace is “no
respecter of persons,” but passes by (to human ideas) the most likely, and
pitches upon the unlikely. Being the younger of the two, Abel was inferior
in dignity; God Himself said to Cain, “Thou shalt rule over him”
(

Genesis 4:7). But spiritual blessings do not follow the order of external
privileges: Shem is preferred before Japheth (

Genesis 5:32, 10:2, 21);
Isaac before Ishmael, Jacob before Esau..237
“By (a Divinely-given and Divinely-wrought) faith, Abel offered unto God
a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.” The superiority of Abel’s worship
may, perhaps, be set forth thus.
First, it was offered in obedience to God’s revealed will. This lies at the
very foundation of all actions which are acceptable unto God: nothing can
be pleasing unto Him except that which He has stipulated: every thing else
is “will worship” (

Colossians 2:23).
Second, it was offered “by faith”: this tells us that there was something
more than the mere performance of an outward duty; only that is approved
of God which proceeds from the living principle of faith, kindled in the
heart by the Holy Spirit. True obedience and faith are never apart:
therefore we read of “the obedience of faith” (

Romans 1:5). Yet though
inseparable, they are distinguishable in thought: faith respects the word of
promise; obedience the word of command, for promises and precepts go
hand in hand. We act in obedience, when the commandment is uppermost
in our minds and hearts, which puts us to the performing of duties; we act
in faith, when the promise is looked to and the reward is counted upon.
Third, Abel had a “willing mind” (

2 Corinthians 8:12). Faith works by
“love” (

Galatians 5:6). This is seen in the fact that he brought of his
best: it was “of the firstlings of his flock,” which God afterwards took as
His portion (

Exodus 13:12); when slain, it was the “fat” which he
presented which later God also claimed as His own (

Leviticus 3:16;
7:25). Thus, it was of the most precious and valuable things on earth which
Abel brought to God. So it is our best which He requires of us: “Son, give
Me thine heart” (

Proverbs 23:26): it is “with the heart man believeth
unto righteousness” (

Romans 10:10).
Fourth, his sacrificial offering looked forward to and adumbrated the great
sacrifice, the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. In all
these four things Abel excelled Cain. Cain did not act in obedience, for he
disregarded the Divine appointment. He did not offer in faith. Nothing is
said of any choice of excellent fruit: it was as though he brought the first
which came to hand. His offering contained no foreshadowment of Christ.
Ere passing on, let us seek to gather up the practical teaching of what has
been before us..238
1. To serve God acceptably we must disregard all human inventions, lean
not unto our own understandings or inclinations, and adhere strictly to the
revelation which He made of His will.
2. All obedience, service, and worship, must proceed from faith, for
“without faith it is impossible to please Him” (

Hebrews 11:6): where
this be lacking, no matter how exact the performance of our duty, it is
unacceptable to God.
3. We are to serve God with the best that we have: with the best of our
abilities, and with the best of our substance; only as love constrains us will
there be a doing it “heartily as unto the Lord.”
4. In all our religious exercises Christ must be before us, for only as they
are perfumed with His merits can they meet with God’s acceptance.
“By which he obtained witness that he was righteous.” There is a little
uncertainty as to whether the “by which” refers to Abel’s ‘faith” or to the
“more excellent sacrifice” which he offered. Though the latter be the
nearest antecedent, yet, with Owen, Gouge, and Manton, we believe the
reference is to his faith.
First, because it is not the apostle’s design in this chapter to specify the
kind of sacrifices which were acceptable unto God.
Second, because his obvious purpose was to illustrate and demonstrate
the efficacy of faith.
Third, because the apostle here exemplifies what he had just said of
the O.T. saints, namely, that by faith “they obtained a good report”
(verse 2).
Fourth, because this agrees much more closely with the Analogy of
Faith: by the one perfect offering of Christ is the Christian constituted
“righteous” before God; but it is through faith that he obtains witness
of the same to his heart.
“By which he obtained witness that he was righteous.” Herein we are
supplied with an illustration of “For them that honor Me, I will honor”
(

1 Samuel 2:30). In keeping God’s precepts there is “great reward”
(

Psalm 19:11). God will be no man’s debtor: he who obediently,
humbly, trustfully, lovingly, respects His appointments and obeys His
commandments, shall be recompensed — not as a recognition of merit, but.239
as what is Divinely meet and gracious. God did not leave Abel in a state of
uncertainty, ignorant as to whether or not his offering was approved. The
Lord was pleased to assure Abel that the sacrifice had been accepted, and
that he was accounted just before Him. The Greek word for “he obtained
witness” is the same as is rendered “obtained a good report” in verse 2.
“By which he obtained witness that he was righteous.” This too is recorded
for our instruction and comfort. From these words we learn it is the good
pleasure of God that His obedient and believing children should know His
mind concerning them. Where there is a justifying faith in Christ which
moves the Christian to walk according to the Divine precepts, God honors
that faith by granting assurance to its possessor. When we are enabled by
faith to plead the most excellent Sacrifice and to present acceptable
worship unto God, then we obtain testimony from Him through His Word
and by His Spirit that our persons and services are accepted by Him. In
Abel’s case, He received from God an outward attestation; in the case of
the Christian today it is the inward authentication of his conscience (

2
Corinthians 1:12), to which the Holy Spirit also adds His confirmation
(

Romans 8:15).
“God testifying of his gifts.” We are not told in Genesis 4 in so many
words how He did so, but the Analogy of Faith leaves little room for
doubt. By comparing other Scriptures, it may be that the Lord evidenced
His acceptance of Abel’s offering (and thereby testified that he was
“righteous”) by causing fire to descend from heaven and consume the
sacrifice, which, in turn, ascended to Him as a sweet-smelling savor. In

Leviticus 9:24 we read, “And there came a fire out from before the
Lord, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat.” So too,
we are told, “Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt
sacrifice” (

1 Kings 18:38). Compare also

Judges 6:21; 13:19, 20;

1 Chronicles 21:26;

Psalm 20:3 margin. There is, however, no
certainty on this point.
“By which (faith) he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying
of his gifts.” The second clause is explanatory of the former: the parallel is
found in

Genesis 4:4, where we read, “and the Lord had respect unto
Abel and to his offering.” He testified in the approbation of his offering,
that He had respect unto his person; that is, that He judged, esteemed, and
accounted him righteous, for otherwise God is no respecter of persons.
Whosoever God accepts or respects, He testifieth him to be righteous, that.240
is, to be justified, and freely accepted with Him. This Abel was by faith,
antecedently unto his offering. He was not made righteous, he was not
justified by his sacrifice, but therein show his faith by his works; and God,
by acceptance of his works of obedience, justified him, as Abraham was
justified by works, namely, declaratively, He declared him so to be. Our
persons must be first justified, before our works of obedience can be
accepted with God; for by that acceptance He testifies that we are
righteous (John Owen).
“And by it he being dead yet speaketh.” Marvelously full are the words of
God. His commandment is “exceeding broad” (

Psalm 119:96). In every
sentence of Holy Writ there is both a depth and breadth which our unaided
minds are incapable of perceiving and appreciating. Only as the Holy Spirit,
the Inspirer and Giver of the Word, deigns to “guide” us (

John 16:13),
only as He teaches us to compare passage with passage, so that in His light
we “see light” (

Psalm 36:9), are we enabled to discern, in fuller
measure, the beauty, meaning, and many-sidedness of any verse or clause.
Such is the case in the sentence now before us. We are convinced that
there is at least a threefold meaning and reference in it. Briefly, we will
consider these in turn.
“And by it he being dead yet speaketh.” The first and most obvious
signification of these words is that, by his faith’s obedience, as recorded in
Genesis 4 and Hebrews 11, Abel preaches to us a most important sermon.
His worship and the fruits thereof are registered in the everlasting records
of Holy Scripture, and thereby he speaketh as evidently as though we heard
him audibly. There comes to us a voice from the far distant past, from the
other side of the flood, saying, “Fallen man can only approach unto God
through the death of an innocent Substitute: yet none save God’s elect will
ever feel their need of such, set aside their own inclinations, bow to God’s
revealed will, and submit to His appointment; but they who do so, obtain
witness that they are ‘righteous’ (cf.

Matthew 13:43), and receive
Divine assurance that they are accepted in the Beloved and that their
obedience (imperfect in itself, yet proceeding from a heart which desires
and seeks to fully please Him) is approved for His sake.”
“And by it he being dead yet speaketh.” And how did he die? By the
murderous hand of a religious hypocrite who hated him. Then began that
which the apostle affirms still to continue:.241
“he that was born after the flesh, persecuted him that was born after
the Spirit” (

Galatians 4:29).
Here was the first public and visible display of that enmity between the
(mystical) seed of the woman and the (mystical) seed of the Serpent.
Abel’s death was therefore also a pledge and representation of the death of
Christ Himself — murdered by the religious world. Those whom God
approves must expect to be disproved of men, more particularly by those
professing to be Christian. But the time is coming when the present
situation shall be reversed. In

Genesis 4:10 God said to Cain “the voice
of thy brother’s blood crieth unto Me from the ground.” Abel’s own blood
“speaketh,” crying to God for vengeance.
“And by it he being dead yet speaketh.” Though ruthlessly slain by his
brother, the soul of Abel exists in a separate state, alive, conscious, and
vocal. He is among that company of whom the apostle said,
“I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the
Word of God, and for the testimony which they held, and they
cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true,
dost Thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on
the earth?” (

Revelation 6:9, 10).
Thus, Abel is not only a type of the persecution and suffering of the godly,
but gives a pledge of the certain vengeance which God will take in due
time upon their oppressors. God shall yet avenge His own elect (those in
heaven as well as those on earth) who cry unto Him day and night for Him
to avenge them (

Luke 18:7, 8). Let us then seek grace to possess our
souls in patience, knowing that ere long God will reward the righteous and
punish the wicked..242
CHAPTER 58
THE FAITH OF ENOCH
(

HEBREWS 11:5, 6)
The apostle makes it his principal design in this chapter to convince the
Hebrews of the nature, importance and efficacy of saving faith. In the
execution of his design, he first described the essential actings of faith
(verse 1), and then in all that follows he treats of the effects, fruits, and
achievements of faith. It is blessed to behold how that once more his appeal
was to the Holy Scriptures. Not by abstract arguments, still less by bare
assertions, would he persuade them; but instead, by setting forth some of
the many examples and proofs which the sacred records furnished. Having
reminded them of what the faith-obedience of Abel procured, namely, the
obtaining of a witness from God that he was righteous, the apostle cites the
case of Enoch who exemplifies another aspect and consequent of faith.
The order observed by the Holy Spirit in Hebrews 11 is not the historical
one. A careful reading of its contents will make this clear. For example,
reference is made in verse 9 to Isaac and Jacob before attention is directed
to Sarah in verse 11; the falling down of Jericho’s walls (verse 30), is
mentioned before the faith of Rahab (verse 31); in verse 32 Gideon is
mentioned before Barak, Samson before Jephtha, and David before
Samuel. Thus it is evident that we are to “search” for something deeper.
Since the chronological order is departed from again and again, must there
not be a spiritual significance to the way in which the O.T. saints are here
referred to? Without a doubt such must be the case. The reason for this is
not far to seek: it is the experimental order which is followed in this
chapter. If the Lord permits, this will become plainer and plainer as we
proceed from verse to verse.
That which the three examples supplied in verses 4 to 7 set before us is an
outline of the life of faith. Abel is mentioned first not because he was born
before Enoch and Noah, but because what is recorded of him in Genesis 4
illustrated and demonstrated where the life of faith begins. In like manner,
Enoch is referred to next not because he is mentioned before Noah in the.243
book of Genesis, but because what was found in him (or rather, what
Divine grace had wrought in him), must precede that which was typified by
the builder of the ark. Each of these three men adumbrated a distinct
feature or aspect of the life of faith, and the order concerning them is
inviolable. Another before us, has characterized them thus: in Abel we see
faith’s worship, in Enoch faith’s walk, in Noah faith’s witness. This, we
believe, is an accurate and helpful way of stating it, and the more it be
pondered, the more its beauty and blessedness should be perceived.
But man ever reverses God’s order, and never was this fact more plainly
evident to the anointed eye than in these degenerate times in which our lot
is cast. Witnessing and working (“service”) is what are so much
emphasized today. Yet dear reader, Hebrews 11 does not begin with the
example of Noah. No indeed. Noah was preceded by Enoch, and for this
reason: there can be no Divinely-acceptable witness or work unless and
until there is a walking with God! Enoch’s walk with God must come
before any service which is pleasing to Him. Alas that this is so much lost
sight of now. Alas that, so generally, as soon as a young person makes
profession of being a Christian, he or she is pushed into some form of
“Christian activity” — open-air speaking, personal work, teaching a
Sunday school class — when God’s word so plainly says, “Not a novice
(margin, “one newly come to the faith”) lest being lifted up with pride
(which almost always proves to be the case) he fall into the condemnation
of the Devil” (

1 Timothy 3:6).
O how much we miss and lose through failing to give close heed to the
order of God’s words. Frequently have we emphasized this fact in these
pages, yet not too frequently. God is a God of order, and the moment we
depart from His arrangements, confusion, with all its attendant evils, at
once ensues. We cannot pay too strict attention to the order in which
things are presented to us in Holy Writ, for only as we do so, are we in the
position to learn some of its most salutary lessons and admire its heavenly
wisdom. Such is the case here. Enoch’s walk of faith must precede Noah’s
witnessing by faith; and this, in turn, must be preceded by Abel’s worship
of faith. There must be that setting aside of our own preferences and ways,
that bowing to God’s will, that submitting to His appointments, that
obedience to His requirements, before there can be any real walking with
Him. Obedience to Him, then walking with Him, then witnessing for Him,
is Heaven’s unchanging order..244
“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and
was not found, because God had translated him: for before his
translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God” (verse 5).
The case of Abel shows us where the life of faith begins; the example of
Enoch teaches us of what the life of faith consists. Now just as we had to
refer to Genesis 4 to understand

Hebrews 11:4, so we have to turn back
to Genesis 5 for its light to be thrown upon our present verse.
“And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him”
(

Genesis 5:24).
Here we have set forth, in the form of a brief summary, the new life of the
believer: to “walk with God.” Previously, Enoch had “walked according to
the course of this world” (

Ephesians 2:2), had gone his “own way”
(

Isaiah 53:6) of self-pleasing, and unconcerned about the future, had
thought only of the present. But now he had been “reconciled to God”
(

2 Corinthians 5:20), for “Can two walk together, except they be
agreed?” (

Amos 3:3). The term “walk” signifies a voluntary act, a
steady advance, a progress in spiritual things. To “walk with God” imports
a life surrendered to God, a life controlled by God, a life lived for God. It is
to that our present verse has reference.
“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not
found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had
this testimony, that he pleased God.” It should be obvious to any Spirit-taught
heart that we need to look beneath the surface here if we are to
discover the spiritual principle of the verse, and seek grace to apply it to
ourselves. As a mere historical statement it is doubtless a very interesting
one, yet as such it imparts no strength to my needy soul. The bare fact that
a man who walked this earth thousands of years ago escaped death may
astonish, but it supplies no practical help. What we wish to press upon the
reader is, the need for asking each portion of Scripture he reads, the
question, What is there here, what practical lesson, to help me while I am
left on earth? Nor is this always discovered in a moment: prayer, patience,
meditation are required.
As we endeavor to study our verse with the object of ascertaining its
practical meaning and message for us today, the first thing the thoughtful
ponderer will notice is the repetition of the word “translated”: this
occurring no less than three times in one verse, is evidently the keyword..245
According to its etymology, “translated” signifies to carry across, to bear
up, to remove, to change from one place to another. This at once brings to
mind (if the Word of Christ be dwelling in us richly) that verse,
“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness and hath
translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son” (

Colossians
1:13).
This refers to the grand fact of the Christian’s present standing and state
before God: he has “passed from death unto life” (

John 5:24). Now it is
the Christian’s privilege and duty to live in the power of this fact, and have
it made good in his actual case and experience; and this will be so, just in
proportion as he is enabled to live and walk by faith.
“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death”. the word
“see” here has the force of taste or experience. Enoch was not to be
overcome by death: but let us not limit our thoughts unto physical death.
Just as Enoch’s “translation” from earth to heaven has a deeper meaning
than the natural, so “that he should not see death” signifies more than an
escape from the grave. “Death” is the wages of sin, the curse of the broken
law. We are living in a world which is under God’s righteous curse and
death is plainly stamped across everything in it. But when faith is in
exercise, the soul is lifted above this scene, and its favored possessor is
enabled to “walk in newness of life.” As we saw when pondering the
opening verse, it is the nature of faith to bring near things future, and to
obtain proof and enjoyment of what is invisible to natural sight. Just so far
as we walk by faith, is the heart “translated,” raised above this poor world;
and then it is we experience the “power of His (Christ’s) resurrection”
(

Philippians 3:10).
Let us now link verses 4 and 5 together, observing their doctrinal force.
When a sinner, by surrender to God and faith in the sacrifice of Christ, is
pronounced righteous by the Judge of all, he is made an heir of eternal life,
and sin and death can no more have dominion over him: that is, no longer
have any legal claim upon him. It is this which is illustrated here: the very
next saint who is mentioned after Abel, was taken to Heaven without
dying, thereby demonstrating that the power of “death” over the Christian
has been annulled. First a sinner saved through the blood of the Lamb
(Abel), then a saved sinner removed from earth to Heaven, and nothing
between. How inexpressibly blessed! Words fail us, and we can but bow in
silent wonderment, and worship. How “great” is God’s salvation!.246
Now that which is a fact of Christian doctrine needs to become a fact of
Christian experience: we need to enjoy the good, the power, the
blessedness of it in our souls day by day. And this can only be as a
supernatural faith is in exercise. A bare knowledge of doctrine is practically
worthless, unless the heart earnestly seeks from God a practical out-working
of it. It is one thing to believe that I have judicially passed from
death unto life, it is quite another to live practically in the realm of LIFE.
But that is exactly what a life of faith is: it is a being lifted above the things
which are seen, and a being occupied with those things which are unseen.
It is for the affections to be no longer set on things on the earth, but to
have them fixed on things in Heaven.
Perhaps the reader is inclined to say, The ideal you set before us is indeed
beautiful, but it is impossible for flesh and blood to attain unto it. Quite
true, dear friend; we fully grant it. Of himself the Christian can no more live
practically upon resurrection-ground than Enoch could transport himself to
Heaven. But observe carefully the very next words in our wonderful text:
“because God had translated him.” Again we beg you not to carnalize these
words, and see in them only a reference to his bodily removal to Heaven;
or to see in them nothing more than a type and pledge of the Rapture —
the fulfillment of

1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17: that is the prophetical
significance; but there is a spiritual meaning and practical application also,
and this is what we so much desire to make clear unto each spiritual
reader.
Enoch’s translation to heaven was a miracle, and that which is spiritually
symbolized is a supernatural experience. The whole Christian life, from
start to finish, is a supernatural thing. The new birth is a miracle of grace,
for one who is dead in trespasses and sins can no more regenerate himself
than he can create a world. A spiritual repentance and spiritual faith are
imparted by “the operation of God” (

Colossians 2:12), for a fallen
creature can no more originate them than he could give himself being. To
have the heart divorced from the world, to be brought to hate the things
we once loved and to now love the things we once hated, is the alone
fruitage of the all-mighty work of the Holy Spirit. And for the heart to
function in the realm of resurrection-life, while its possessor is left in a
scene of death, can only be made possible and become actual as the
supernatural grace of God sustains and calls into exercise a supernatural
faith. Only God can daily wean our hearts from the things of this world of
death and bring us into real communion with the Prince of Life..247
A word of caution here. Let us be on our guard against fatalistically folding
our arms and saying, God has not ordained that I should live the translated
life. True, God is sovereign and distributes His favors as He pleases. True,
He grants more grace to some of His own people than to others of them.
Yet it is also written that, “Ye have not, because ye ask not” (

James
4:2). Moreover, observe well the next words in our text: “before his
translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” Ah, does not that
explain why our faith is so feeble, and why the things of earth forge such
heavy chains about our hearts? God is not likely to strengthen and increase
our faith while we are so largely indifferent to His pleasure. There must
first be the daily, diligent, prayerful striving to please Him in all things; this
is absolutely essential if we are to enter into the experience of the
translated life.
Let us seek to anticipate a possible objection. Some may be saying, The
translated life — the continuous exercise of faith which frees the heart
from the grave-clothes of this world — is so exceedingly difficult these
days. Then let us remind you of the times in which Enoch lived. It was just
before the Flood, and probably conditions then were far worse than they
are now. “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these,
saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints: To
execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among
them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of
all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him”
(

Jude 14, 15). It must be remembered that those words had an historical
force, as well as a prophetical. Thus, a life of pleasing God, of walking
with Him, of the heart being lifted above the world, was no easier then than
now. Yet Divine grace made this actual in Enoch; and that grace is as
potent today as it was then.
Oftentimes it is helpful to reverse the clauses of a verse so as to perceive
more clearly their relation. In order to illustrate this, and because we are so
anxious for the reader to lay hold of the vitally-important teaching of

Hebrews 11:5, we will treat it accordingly. “Before his translation he
had this testimony, that he pleased God.” Do I? Do you? That is a most
timely inquiry. If we are not “pleasing God,” then the more knowledge we
have of His truth, the worse for us..248
“That servant which knew his Lord’s will, and prepared not himself,
neither did according to His will, shall be beaten with many stripes”
(

Luke 12:47).
God will not be mocked. Fair words and reverent postures cannot deceive
Him. It is not how much light do I have, but how far am I in complete
subjection to the Lord?
“God had translated him.” Of course He did. God always honors those
who honor Him; but let us remember that same verse adds,
“And they that despise Me shall be lightly esteemed”
(

1 Samuel 2:30).
God is too holy to encourage self-pleasing and put a premium upon self-indulgence.
While we gratify the flesh, the blessing of the Spirit will be
withheld. While our hearts are so much occupied with the concerns of
earth, He will not make the things of Heaven real and efficacious to us. O
my reader, if God be not working mightily in your life and mine, showing
Himself strong on our behalf (

2 Chronicles 16:9), then something is
seriously wrong with us.
“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death.” Remember
what was before us in the preceding article:
“Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God”
(

Romans 10:17).
Faith always presupposes a Divine revelation. Faith must have a foundation
to rest upon, and that foundation must be the word of Him that cannot lie.
God had spoken, and Enoch believed. But what a testing of faith! God
declared that Enoch should be removed from earth to Heaven, without
passing through the portals of the grave. One, two, three hundred years
passed; but Enoch believed God, and before the fourth century was
completed His promise was fulfilled. “That he should not see death” was
the reward of his pleasing God. And He does not change: where there is a
genuine “pleasing” of Him, a real walking with Him, He elevates the heart
above this scene into the realm of life, light and liberty.
Ere passing on to the next verse, let us enumerate other points of interest
and value contained in this one, though we can do no more than barely
mention them..249
1. God is not tied to the order of nature:

Genesis 3:19 was set aside
in the cases of Enoch and Elijah.
2. God puts great outward (providential) differences between those
equally accepted by Him: He did so between Abel and Enoch.
3. To exhibit the world’s enmity God suffered Abel to be martyred, to
comfort His people God preserved Enoch.
4. What God did for Enoch He can and will yet do for a whole
generation of His saints (

1 Corinthians 15:51).
5. There is a future life for believers: the removal of Enoch to Heaven
plainly intimated this.
6. The body is partaker with the soul in life eternal: the corporeal
translation of Enoch showed this.
7. The godliest do not always live the longest: all mentioned in Genesis
5 stayed on earth a much greater time than did Enoch.
8. They who live with God hereafter must learn to please God ere they
depart hence.
9. They who walk with God please Him.
10. They who please God shall not lack testimony thereof.
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh
to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them
that diligently seek Him” (verse 6).
The apostle had just spoken of Enoch’s translation as a consequent of his
pleasing God, and now from the fact of his pleasing God, proves his faith.
The adversative particle “But” is used to introduce a syllogism. The
argument is framed thus: God Himself had translated Enoch, who before
his translation had pleased Him (as his translation evidenced); but without
faith it is impossible to please God: — therefore Enoch was by faith
translated. Thus, this declaration in verse 6 has special reference to the last
clause in the verse preceding. The argument is drawn from the impossibility
of the contrary: as it is impossible to please God without faith, and as
Enoch received testimony that he did please God, then he must have had
faith — a justifying and sanctifying faith..250
While there is an intimate relation between our present verse and the one
immediately preceding, and while as we shall yet see (the Lord willing) that
it is closely connected with the case of Noah in verse 7, yet it also makes
its own particular contribution unto the theme which the apostle is here
developing, supplying both a solemn warning and a blessed
encouragement. The Holy Spirit still had before Him the special need of the
wavering Hebrews, and would press upon them the fact that the great thing
God required was not attendance on outward ordinances, but the diligent
seeking unto Him by a whole-hearted trust. Where faith was missing,
nothing could meet with His approval; but where faith really existed and
was exercised, it would be richly rewarded. This principle is unchanging, so
that the central message of our verse speaks loudly to us today, and should
search the heart of each one of us.
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him.” Most solemnly do these
words attest the total depravity of man. So corrupt is the fallen creature,
both in soul and body, in every power and part thereof, and so polluted is
everything that issues from him, that he cannot of and by himself do
anything that is acceptable to the Holy One. “So then they that are in the
flesh cannot please God” (

Romans 8:8): “they that are in the flesh”
means, they that are still in their natural or unregenerate state. A bitter
fountain cannot send forth sweet waters. But faith looks out of self to
Christ, applies unto His righteousness, pleads His worth and worthiness,
and does all things God-ward in the name and through the mediation of the
Lord Jesus. Thus, by faith we may please God.
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him.” Yet in all ages there
have been many who attempted to please God without faith. Cain began it,
but failed woefully. All in their Divine worship profess a desire to please
God, and hope that they do so; why otherwise should they make the
attempt? But, as the apostle declares in another place, many seek unto God
“but not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law”
(

Romans 9:32).
But where faith be lacking, let men desire, design, and do what they will,
they can never attain unto Divine acceptance. “But to Him that worketh
not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted
for (“unto”) righteousness” (

Romans 4:5). Whatever be the necessity of
other graces, faith is that which alone obtains acceptance with God..251
In order to please God four things must concur, all of which are
accomplished by faith.
First, the person of him that pleaseth God must be accepted of Him
(

Genesis 4:4).
Second, the thing done that pleaseth God must be in accord with His
will (

Hebrews 13:21).
Third, the manner of doing it must be pleasing to God: it must be
performed in humility (

1 Corinthians 15:10), in sincerity (

Isaiah
38:3), in cheerfulness (

2 Corinthians 8:12; 9:7).
Fourth, the end in view must be God’s glory (

1 Corinthians 10:31).
Now faith is the only means whereby these four requirements are met. By
faith in Christ the person is accepted of God. Faith makes us submit
ourselves to God’s will. Faith causes us to examine the manner of what we
do Godwards. Faith aims at God’s glory: of Abraham it is recorded that he
“was strong in faith, giving glory to God” (

Romans 4:20).
How essential it is then that each of us examine himself diligently and make
sure that he has faith. It is by faith the convicted and repentant sinner is
saved (

Acts 16:31). It is by faith that Christ dwells in the heart
(

Ephesians 3:17). It is by faith that we live (

Galatians 2:20). It is by
faith that we stand (

Romans 11:20;

2 Corinthians 1:24). It is by faith
we walk (

2 Corinthians 5:7). It is by faith the Devil is successfully
resisted (

1 Peter 5:8, 9). It is by faith we are experimentally sanctified
(

Acts 26:18). It is by faith we have access to God (

Ephesians 3:12,

Hebrews 10:22). It is by faith that we fight the good fight (

1
Timothy 6:12). It is by faith that the world is overcome (

1 John 5:4).
Reader, are you certain that you have the “faith of God’s elect” (

Titus
1:1)? If not, it is high time you make sure, for “without faith it is
impossible to please God.”.252
CHAPTER 59
THE FAITH OF NOAH
(

HEBREWS 11:6, 7)
The verses which are now to engage our attention are by no means free of
difficulty, especially unto those who have sat under a ministry which has
failed to preserve the balance between Divine grace and Divine
righteousness. Where the free favor of God has been strongly emphasized
and His claims largely ignored, where privileges have been stressed and
duties almost neglected, it is far from easy to view many Scriptures in their
true perspective. When those who have heard little more than the decrying
of creature-abilities and the denunciation of creature-merits are asked to
honestly and seriously face the terms of

Hebrews 11:6, 7, they are quite
unable to fit them into their system of theology. Where such be the case, it
is proof positive that something is wrong with our theology. Often those
who are least cramped by sectarian bias find that the truth of God is too
large, too many-sided, to be squeezed into human definitions and creeds.
Others of our readers are probably wondering what it is we have reference
to above when we say that our present portion of Hebrews 11 is by no
means free of difficulty. Then let us raise a few questions upon these
verses. If the exercise of faith be pleasing to God, does this signify that it is
a thing meritorious? How is this concept to be avoided in the light of the
statement that God is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him? How
does a “reward” consist with pure grace? And what is the doctrinal force
of the next verse? Does the case of Noah teach salvation by works? If he
had not gone to so much expense and labor in building the ark, would he
and his house have escaped the flood? Was his becoming “heir of
righteousness’’ something that he earned by his obedient toil? How can this
conclusion be fairly avoided? We shall endeavor to keep these questions
before us in the course of our exposition.
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh
to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them
that diligently seek Him” (verse 6)..253
There is a threefold “coming to God”: an initial, a continuous, and a final.
The first takes place at conversion, the second is repeated throughout the
Christian’s life, the third occurs at death or the second coming of Christ.
To come to God signifies to seek and have fellowship with Him. It denotes
a desire to enter into His favor and become a partaker of His blessings in
this life and of His salvation in the life to come. It is the heart’s approach
unto Him in and through Christ:

John 14:6,

Hebrews 7:25. But
before there is a conscious access to Him, God has to be diligently sought.
None come to God, none truly seek Him, until they are made conscious of
their lost condition. The Spirit must first work in the soul a realization that
sin has alienated us “from the life of God” (

Ephesians 4:18). We have
to be made to feel that we are away from God, out of His favor, under His
righteous condemnation, before we shall really do as the prodigal did, and
say
“I will arise and go to My Father, and will say unto Him, Father, I
have sinned against heaven, and before Thee” (

Luke 15:18).
The same principle holds good in connection with the repeated “coming”
of the Christian (

1 Peter 2:4); it is a sense of need which causes us to
seek Him who is the Giver of every good and every perfect gift. There is
also a maintained communion with God in the performance of holy duties:
in all the exercises of godliness we renew our access to God in Christ: in
reading of or hearing His Word, we come to Him as Teacher, in prayer we
come to Him as Benefactor.
But to seek God aright, He has to be sought in faith, for “without faith it is
impossible to please Him,” therefore, “he that cometh to God must believe
that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.”
There has to be first a firm persuasion of His being, and second of His
bounty. To believe that “He is” means much more than assenting to the
fact of a “First Cause” or to allow that there is a “Supreme Being”; it
means to believe in the character of God as He has revealed Himself in His
works, in His Word, and in Christ. He must be conceived of aright, or
otherwise we are only pursuing a phantom of our own imagination. Thus,
to believe that “God is” is to exercise faith upon Him as such a Being as
His Word declares Him to be: supreme sovereign, ineffably holy, almighty,
inflexibly just, yet abounding in mercy and grace toward poor sinners
through Christ..254
Not only is the heart to go out unto God as His being and character is
revealed in Scripture, but particularly, faith is to lay hold of His
graciousness: that He is “a Rewarder” etc. The acting of faith toward God
as a “Rewarder” is the heart’s apprehension and anticipation of the fact
that He is ready and willing to conduct Himself to needy sinners in a way
of bounty, that He will act in all things toward them in a manner suitable
unto the proposal of which He makes of Himself through the Gospel. It
was the realization of this (in addition to his felt need) which stirred the
prodigal to act. Just as it would be useless to pray unless there were an
hope that God hears and that He will answer prayer, so no sinner will really
seek unto God until there is born in his heart an expectation of mercy from
Him, that He will receive him graciously. This is a laying hold of His
promise.
In Scripture, privileges are propounded with their necessary limitations,
and we disjoint the whole system of Truth if we separate the recompense
from the duty. There is something to be done on our part: God is a
“Rewarder,” but of whom? Of those who “diligently seek Him.”
“The wicked shall be turned into Hell, all the nations that forget
God” (

Psalm 9:17):
not only “deny,” but “forget” Him; as they cast God out of their thoughts
and affections, so He will cast them out of His presence. What is meant by
“diligently seek Him”? To “seek” God is to forsake, deny, go out of self,
and take Him alone for our Ruler and satisfying Portion. To seek Him
“diligently” is to seek Him early (

Proverbs 8:17), whole-heartedly
(

Psalm 119:10), earnestly (Psalm 27: 4), unweariedly (

Luke 11:8).
How does a thirsty man seek water? The promise is,
“And ye shall seek Me and find Me, when ye shall search for Me
with all your heart” (

Jeremiah 29:13 and cf.

2 Chronicles
15:15).
And how does God “reward” the diligent seeker? By offering Himself
graciously to be found of them who penitently, earnestly, trustfully
approach Him through the appointed Mediator. By granting them access
into His favor: this He did not unto Cain, who sought Him in a wrong
manner. By actually bestowing His favor upon them, as He did upon the
prodigal. By forgiving their sins and blotting out their iniquities (

Isaiah
55:7). By writing His laws in their hearts, so that they now desire and.255
determine to forsake all idols and serve Him only. By giving them
assurance of their acceptance in the Beloved, and granting them sweet
foretastes of the rest and bliss which awaits them on High. By ministering
to their every need, both spiritual and temporal. Finally, by taking them to
heaven, where they shall spend eternity in the unclouded enjoyment of the
wondrous riches of His grace.
But does this word “Rewarder” have a legalistic ring to it? Not if it be
understood rightly. Does it signify that our “diligent seeking” is a
meritorious performance which is entitled to recognition? Of course it does
not. What, then, is meant? First, let us quote from the helpful comments of
John Owen:
“That which these words of the apostle hath respect to, and which
is the ground of the faith here required, is contained in the
revelation that God made of Himself unto Abraham, ‘Fear not:
Abram: I am thy shield, and they exceeding great reward’
(

Genesis 15:1). God is so a rewarder unto them that seek Him,
as that He is Himself their reward, which eternally excludes all
thoughts of merit in them that are so rewarded. Who can merit God
to be his reward? Rewarding in God, especially where He Himself
is the reward, is an act of infinite grace and bounty. And this gives
us full direction unto the object of faith here intended, namely, God
in Christ, as revealed in the promise of Him, giving Himself unto
believers as a reward, (to be their God) in a way of infinite
goodness and bounty. The proposal hereof, is that alone which
gives encouragement to come unto Him, which the apostle designs
to declare.”
“Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but
of debt” (

Romans 4:4):
is not the implication clear that grace itself also “rewards”? Grace and
reward are no more inconsistent than the high sovereignty of God and the
real responsibility of man, or between the fact that Christ is and was both
“Servant” (

Isaiah 42:1) and “Lord” (

John 13:13). The language of

Colossians 3:24 makes this clear as a sunbeam: “Knowing that of the
Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord
Christ.” The “inheritance” is Heaven itself, salvation in its consummation.
But is not salvation a free gift? Yes, indeed; nevertheless it has to be.256
“bought” by its recipients (

Isaiah 55:1), yet “without money and
without price.” Salvation is both a “gift” and a “reward.”
While it be true that Heaven cannot be earned by the sinner, it is equally
true that Heaven is not for idlers and loiterers. God has to be “diligently
sought.” To enter the strait gate the soul has to agonize (

Luke 13:24).
We are called upon to “labor” for that meat which endureth unto eternal
life (

John 6:27) and to enter into the heavenly rest (

Hebrews 4:11).
Such efforts God “rewards,” not because they are meritorious, but because
He deems it meet to recognize and recompense them. There are those who
teach that in serving God we ought to have no “respect unto the
recompense of the reward” (

Hebrews 11:26), but this verse refutes
them, for the apostle explicitly declares that this forms a necessary part of
that truth which is to be believed in order to our pleasing God.
Heaven, or completed salvation, is spoken of as a “reward” to intimate the
character of those to whom it is given, namely, the diligent laborer.
Second, because it is not bestowed until our work is completed:

2
Timothy 4:7, 8. Third, to intimate the sureness of it: we may as confidently
expect it as does the laborer who has been hired by an honest master:

James 1:12. This “reward” is principally in the next life:

Hebrews
11:16,

2 Corinthians 4:17 — it is then that all true godliness shall be
richly recompensed:

Mark 10:29, 30. It only remains for us now to add
that the ground on which God bestows the “reward” is the infinite merits
of Christ, and out of respect unto His own promise. That which He
“rewards” is the work of His own Spirit within us, so that we have no
ground for boasting.
“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet,
moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the
which he condemned the world, and became heir of the
righteousness which is by faith” (verse 7).
The apostle now presents a concrete example which illustrates what he had
said in verse 6. God’s dealings with Noah and the world in his time were
plainly a sample and pledge of His dealing with the world in all ages,
particularly so when its history is finally wound up. Inasmuch as God is the
Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, it necessarily follows that He
is also the Revenger of all who despise Him. In the destruction of the old
world, God showed His displeasure against sin (

Job 22:15, 16); in the
preservation of Noah, He made manifest the privileges of His own people.257
(

2 Peter 2:9). That the whole was a pledge and type is clear from

2
Peter 3:6, 7.
In the verse which is now before us three things claim attention.
First, Noah’s faith and its ground, namely the warning he had received
from God.
Second, the effects of his faith, namely, internally, the impulse of
“fear”; externally, his obedience in making the ark under God’s orders.
Third, the consequences of his faith, namely, the saving of his house,
the condemning of the world, his becoming heir of the righteousness
which is by faith. But ere taking up these points, let us face and
endeavor to remove a difficulty which some feel this verse raises. Let
us put it this way: was Noah saved by his own works? We believe the
answer is both Yes, and No. We beg the reader to exercise patience
and prayerfully ponder what follows, and not cry out rank heresy and
refuse to read further.
If Noah had not “prepared an ark” in obedience to God’s command, would
he not have perished in the flood? Then was it his own efforts which
preserved him from death in the great deluge? No indeed; it was the
preserving power of God. That ark had neither mast, sail, nor steering-wheel:
only the gracious hand of the Lord kept that frail barque from being
splintered to atoms on the rocks and the mountains. Then what is the
relation between these two things? This: Noah made use of the means
which God had prescribed, and by His grace and power those means were
made effectual unto his preservation. Must not the farmer toil in his fields?
yet it is God alone who gives him the increase. Must I not observe the laws
of hygiene and eat wholesome food? yet only as God blesses them to me
am I kept in health. So it is in spiritual things: salvation by grace alone does
not exclude the imperative necessity of our using the means which God has
appointed and prescribed.
The temporal deliverance of Noah from the flood is undoubtedly an
adumbration of the eternal deliverance of God’s elect from the wrath to
come: and here, as everywhere, the type is accurate and perfect. Nor can
any sophistical quibbling honestly get rid of the fact that Noah’s building of
the Ark — a most costly and arduous work! — was a means towards his
preservation. Then does the case of Noah supply a clear example of
salvation by works? Again we answer boldly, Yes and No. But the.258
difficulty is greatly relieved if we bear in mind that Noah was already a
saved man before God bade him build the Ark! A reference to

Genesis
6:8, 9 and a comparison with

Hebrews 6:14, 22 makes this
unmistakably plain. But does not this fact overthrow all that has been said
in the previous paragraphs? Not at all. The Christian’s salvation is not only
a past thing (

2 Timothy 1:9), but a present (

Philippians 2:12) and
future (

Romans 13:11) thing too! We trust that the solution of the
difficulty will be more evident as we proceed with our exposition of the
verse.
As we have before pointed out, the first three verses of Hebrews 11 are
introductory, their design being to set forth the importance and excellency
of faith. Then, in verse 4-7, we have an outline of the life of faith: the
beginning of it is seen in verse 4, the nature of what it consists in verse 5, a
warning and encouragement is supplied in verse 6, and the end of it is
shown in verse 7. Before bringing before us the glorious goal which the life
of faith reaches, verse 7 gives us the other side of what was before us in
verse 5: there we saw faith elevating above a world of death, carrying the
heart of its favored possessor into Heaven. But we are still in the world,
and that is the place of opposition, of danger, and hence, of testing. Thus in
verse 7 we are not only shown what faith obtains, but how it obtains, it.
Now as we found it necessary to go back to Genesis 3 and 4 to interpret

Hebrews 11:4, and to

Genesis 5:24 to get the meaning of

Hebrews 11:5, so now we have to consult Genesis 6 in order to
discover what is here adumbrated. Let the reader turn back to

Genesis
6:5-22. There we find unsparing Divine judgment announced (verse 13), a
way of deliverance presented to one who had “found grace” in the Lord’s
eyes (verse 14), faith’s obedience called for if escape was to be had from
judgment (verse 14), the Divinely prescribed means to be used (verse 15);
by employing those means deliverance was obtained. Now in like manner, a
most solemn warning has been given us, an announcement of coming
judgment: see

2 Thessalonians 1:7, 8;

2 Peter 3:10-17 — let the
reader duly observe that both of these passages are found in epistles
addressed to God’s children.
In saying above that

Hebrews 11:7 gives us the other side of what is
spiritually set forth in verse 5, we mean that it gives us the balancing truth.
It is most important to observe this, for otherwise we are very liable to
entertain a mystical concept of verse 5 and become lopsided. Satan is ready.259
to tell us that verse 5 presents to us a beautiful ideal, but one which is
altogether impracticable for ordinary people — alright for preachers, but
impossible for others. After reading our article on verse 5, many are likely
to exclaim: We cannot be thinking of heavenly things all the time, we have
our daily duties to attend to here on earth: the only way we could reach the
standard of verse 5 would be by entering a monastery or convent, entirely
secluding ourselves from the world; and surely God does not require this of
us. No, indeed; that was the great mistake of the “Dark Ages.”
“By faith Noah being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with
fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house.” This gives us the other
side of verse 5. It shows that we have duties to perform on earth, and
intimates how they are to be discharged — by faith, in the fear of God,
implicitly obeying His commands. And more: our present verse insists on
the fact (now so little apprehended) that, the performing these duties, the
rendering of faith’s obedience to God, is indispensably necessary to our
very salvation. The “salvation” of the soul is yet future: note “saving” and
not “salvation” in

Hebrews 10:39, and also compare

1 Peter 1:5. In
order to be saved from the destructive power of sin, the ruinous
allurements of the world, and the devouring assaults of Satan, we must
tread the path of obedience to Christ (

Hebrews 5:9), for only there do
we escape these fatal foes. Let the reader prayerfully ponder

Mark
9:43-50;

Luke 14:26, 27, 33;

Romans 8:13;

1 Corinthians 9:27;

Colossians 3:5;

Hebrews 3:12, 14.

Hebrews 11:5 and 7 supplement each other. Verse 5 shows us that by
the exercise of faith our affections are elevated above the earth and set
upon things above. Verse 7 teaches us that our lives on earth are to be
regulated by heavenly principles. The real Christian is a heavenly man living
on earth as a heavenly man; that is to say, he is governed by spiritual and
Divine principles, and not by fleshly motives and worldly interests. The
Christian performs many of the same deeds as the non-Christian does, yet
with a far different object and aim. All that I do should be done in
obedience to God, in joyous response to His revealed will. Let us be
specific and come to details. Let the Christian wife read

Ephesians
5:22-24 and the husband 5:25-31, and let each recognize that in obeying
the husband and loving the wife, they are obeying God. Let Christian
employees ponder

Ephesians 6:5-7, and recognize that in obeying their
masters they are obeying the Lord; contrariwise, in sulking or speaking
against them, they murmur against the Lord!.260
Now such obedience to God’s commandments in the ordinary relationships
of life are necessary unto salvation. If this staggers the reader, let him
contemplate the opposite. Those precepts and commands have been given
us by God, and to disregard them is rebellion, and to refuse compliance is
defiance; and no rebel against God can enter Heaven. Unless our wills have
been broken, unless our hearts have been brought into subjection to God,
we have no scriptural warrant for concluding that He has begun a good
work in us (

Philippians 1:6).
“He that saith I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is
a liar, and the truth is not in him” (

1 John 2:4).
The only path which leads to heaven is that of walking in obedience to
God’s commands.
Now the salvation of the soul lies at the end of that path. Does the reader
exclaim, I thought it was at the beginning of it, and that none but a
regenerate person could or would walk therein. From one standpoint that
is quite true. When genuinely converted a sinner is saved from the eternal
penalty of his sins, and is “delivered from the wrath to come.” But is he
there and then removed to Heaven? With very rare exceptions he is not.
Instead, God leaves him here in this world. And this world is the place of
danger, for temptations to return unto its ways and pleasures abound on
every side. Moreover, the judgment of God hangs over it, and one day will
burst upon and consume it. And who will escape that destruction? Only
those who, like Noah, have a faith which is moved with fear and produces
obedience. But it is now high time that we considered more closely the
details of verse 7.
“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with
fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house.” Ah, here is the key to our
verse, hung right upon the very door of it. Like every other one of God’s
elect, Noah was saved by grace through faith; and yet not by a faith that
was inactive —

Ephesians 2:10 follows verse 9! Faith was the spring of
all his works: a faith which was far more than an intellectual assent, one
which was a supernatural principle that sovereign grace had wrought in
him. God had determined to send a flood and destroy the wicked world,
but ere doing so, He acquainted Noah with His purpose. He has done the
same with us: see

Romans 1:18. That Divine warning was the ground of
Noah’s faith. He argued not, nor reasoned about its incredibility; instead,.261
he believed God. The threatening, as well as the promise of God, is the
object of faith; the justice of God is to be eyed, as well as His mercy!
Human reason was altogether opposed unto what God had made known to
Noah. Hitherto there had been no rain (

Genesis 2:6), then why expect
an overwhelming deluge? It seemed utterly unlikely God would destroy the
whole human race, and His mercy be thus utterly swallowed up by His
avenging justice. The threatening judgment was a long way off (120 years:

Genesis 6:3), and during that time the world might well repent and
reform. When he preached to men (

2 Peter 2:5) none believed his
message: why then should he be so fearful, when every one else was at
ease? To build an ark of such huge dimensions was an enormous
undertaking, and, as well, would involve the scoffs of all his fellows. And
even if the flood came, how could the ark float with such an immensely
heavy burden — it had no anchor to stay her, no mast and sail to steady
her, no steering-wheel to direct. Was it not quite inpracticable, for Noah
was quite inexperienced nautically. Moreover, for him and his family to
dwell for an indefinite period in a sealed ark was far from a pleasant
prospect unto the flesh and blood. But against all these carnal objections
faith offered a steady resistance, and believed God!
“Moved with fear.” This evidenced the reality and power of his faith, for
saving faith not only “worketh by love” (

Galatians 5:6), but in “fear and
trembling” (

Philippians 2:12). A reverential awe of God is a sure fruit of
saving faith. That “fear” acted as a salutary impetus in Noah and operated
as a powerful motive in his building of the ark.
“His believing the word of God, had this effect on him… a
reverential fear it is of God’s threatenings, and not an anxious
solicitous fear of the evil threatened. In the warning given him, he
considered the greatness, the holiness, and the power of God, with
the vengeance becoming those holy properties of His nature, which
He threatened to bring on the world. Seeing God by faith under this
representation of Him, he was filled with a reverential fear of Him.
See Habakuk 3:16,

Psalm 119:120,

Malachi 2:5” (John
Owen).
“Prepared an ark to the saving of his house.” As Matthew Henry says,
“Faith first influences our affections and then our actions.” “Faith without
works is dead” (

James 2:20), particularly works of obedience. “Thus
did Noah: according to all that God commanded him, so did he”.262
(

Genesis 6:22). Privilege and duty are inseparably connected, yet duty
will never be performed where faith is absent. Faith in Noah caused him to
persevere in his arduous labors amid many difficulties and
discouragements. Thus his building of the ark was the work of faith and
patience, a labor of Godly fear, an act of obedience, a means to his
preservation — for God’s covenant with him (

Genesis 6:18) did not
preclude his diligent use of means; and a type of Christ. As it was by faith-obedience
he prepared the ark, so by faith’s obedience came the “saving of
his house.” God always honors those who honor Him. This temporal
salvation was a figure of the eternal salvation unto which we are pressing
forward for note that the destruction of the and-deluvians was an eternal
one — for their spirits are now “in prison” (

1 Peter 3:19)! Observe it is
our responsibility to seek after our own salvation and those committed to
us: see

Acts 2:40,

2 Timothy 4:16.
“By the which he condemned the world.” The reference is to all that
precedes. By his own example, by his faith in God’s warning, his
reverential awe of God’s holiness and justice, his implicit and unflagging
obedience in preparing the ark, Noah “condemned” the unbelieving,
unconcerned, godless people all around him. One man is said to
“condemn,” another when, by his godly actions, he shows what the other
should do, and which by doing not, his guilt is aggravated; see

Matthew
12:41, 42. The Sabbath-keeper “condemns” the Sabbath-breaker. He who
abandons a worldly church and goes forth unto Christ outside the camp,
“condemns” the compromiser. Noah’s diligent and costly labors increased
the guilt of the careless, who rested in a false security. Though we cannot
convert the wicked, yet we must be careful to set before them such an
example of personal piety that they are left “without excuse.”
“And became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” The
“righteousness” here referred to is that perfect obedience of Christ which
God imputes unto all who savingly believe on His Son:

Jeremiah 23:6,

Romans 5:19,

2 Corinthians 5:21. This righteousness is sometimes
called, absolutely, the “righteousness of God” (

Romans 1:17, etc.),
sometimes the “gift of righteousness… by one, Jesus Christ” (

Romans
5:17), sometimes “the righteousness which is of God by faith”
(

Philippians 3:9); in all of which our free and gratuitous justification by
the righteousness of Christ reckoned to our account through faith, is
intended. In saying that Noah “became heir” of this righteousness, there
may be a double significance..263
First, by faith’s obedience he evidenced himself to be a justified man
(

Genesis 6:9), as Abraham did when he offered up Isaac (

James
2:21).
Second, he established his title to that righteousness which is here spoken
of as an “inheritance”: this is in contrast from Esau who despised his. That
righteousness which Christ purchased for His people is here denominated
an “inheritance,” to emphasize the dignity and excellency of it, to magnify
the freeness of its tenure, to declare the certainty and inviolability of it.
The actual entrance upon our Inheritance is yet future. “That being justified
by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal
life” (

Titus 3:7). The great question for each of us to settle is, Am I an
“heir”? To help us do so, let me inquire,
Have I the spirit of one? Is my main care to make sure that I have the
birthright? Am I putting the claims of God and His righteousness
(

Matthew 6:33) above everything else? Have I such thoughts of the
blessedness of my portion in Christ that nothing can induce me to sell or
part with it (

Hebrews 12:16)? Is my heart wrapped up in that
inheritance so that I am groaning within myself, “waiting for the adoption”
(

Romans 8:23)? Am I walking by faith, with the fear of God upon me,
diligently attending to His commandments, thereby condemning the world?
If so, thrice blessed am I: and soon shall I be saved “to sin no more.”.264
CHAPTER SIXTY
THE CALL OF ABRAHAM
(

HEBREWS 11:8)
“The scope of the apostle in this chapter is to prove that the
doctrine of faith is an ancient doctrine and that faith hath been
always exercised about things not seen, not liable to the judgment
of sense and reason. He had proved both points by instances of the
fathers before the flood, and now he comes to prove them by the
examples of those that were eminent for faith after the flood. And
in the first place he pitcheth upon Abraham — a fit instance; he was
the father of the faithful, and a person of whom the Hebrews
boasted; his life was nothing else but a continual practice of faith,
and therefore he insisteth upon Abraham longer than upon any
other of the patriarchs. The first thing for which Abraham is
commended in Scripture is his obedience to God, when He called
him out of his country; now the apostle shows this was an effect of
faith” (T. Manton, 1660).
The second division of Hebrews 11 begins with the verse which is now to
be before us. As pointed out in previous articles, verses 4-7 present an
outline of the life of faith. In verse 4 we are shown where the life of faith
begins, namely, at that point where the conscience is awakened to our lost
condition, where the soul makes a complete surrender to God, and where
the heart rests upon the perfect satisfaction made by Christ our Surety. In
verse 5 we are shown the character of the life of faith: a pleasing of God, a
walking with Him, the heart elevated above this world of death. In verses
6, 7 we are shown the end of the life of faith: a diligent seeking of God, a
heart which is moved by His fear to use those means which He appointed
and prescribed, issuing in the saving of the soul and establishing its title to
be an heir of the righteousness which is by faith. Wonderfully
comprehensive are the contents of these opening verses, and well repaid
will be the prayerful student who ponders them again and again..265
From verse 8 to the end of the chapter, the Holy Spirit gives us fuller
details concerning the life of faith, viewing it from different angles,
contemplating varied aspects, and exhibiting the different trials to which it
is subject and the blessed triumphs which Divine grace enables it to
achieve. Fitly does this new section of our chapter open by presenting to us
the case of Abraham. In his days a new and important era of human history
commenced. Hitherto God had maintained a general relation to the whole
human race, but at the Tower of Babel that relation was broken. It was
there that mankind, as a whole, consummated their revolt against their
Maker, in consequence of which He abandoned them. To that point is to be
traced the origin of “Heathendom”:

Romans 1:18-30 should be read in
this connection. From this point onwards God’s dealings with men were
virtually confined to Abraham and his posterity.
That a new division of our chapter commences at verse 8 is further evident
from the fact that Abraham is designated “the father of all them that
believe” (

Romans 4:11), which means not only that he is (as it were) the
earthly head of the whole election of grace, but the one after whose
likeness his spiritual children are conformed. There is a family likeness
between Abraham and the true Christian, for if we are Christ’s then are we
“Abraham’s seed and heirs according to promise”
(

Galatians 3:29),
for
“they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham”
(

Galatians 3:7),
which is evidenced by them doing “the works of Abraham” (

John 8:39),
for these are the marks of identification. In like manner, Christ declared of
the Pharisees,
“Ye are of your father the Devil, and the lusts (desires and behests)
of your father, ye will (are determined) to do” (

John 8:44).
The wicked bear the family likeness of the Wicked one. The “fatherhood of
Abraham” is twofold: natural, as the progenitor of a physical seed;
spiritual, as the pattern to which his children are morally conformed..266
“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place
which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he
went out, not knowing whither he went” (verse 8).
In taking up the study of this verse our first concern should be to ascertain
its meaning and message for us today. In order to discover this, we must
begin by seeking to know what was shadowed forth in the great incident
here recorded. A little meditation should make it obvious that the central
thing referred to is the Divine call of which Abraham was made the
recipient. This is confirmed by a reference to

Genesis 12:1, where we
have the historical account of that to which the Spirit by the apostle here
alludes. Further proof is furnished by Act 7:2, 3. This, then must be our
starting-point.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that
love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose”
(

Romans 8:28).
There are two distinct kinds of “calls” from God mentioned in Scripture: a
general and a particular, an outward and an inward, an inoperative and an
effectual. The general, external, and inefficacious “call” is given to all who
hear the Gospel, or come under the sound of the Word. This call is refused
by all. It is found in such passages as the following:
“Unto you, O men, I call; My voice is to the sons of man”
(

Proverbs 8:4);
“For many be called, but few chosen” (

Matthew 20:16);
“And sent His servant at suppertime to say to them that were
bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one
consent began to make excuse” (

Luke 14:17, 18);
“Because I have called, and ye refuse; I have stretched out My
hand, and no man regarded” etc. (

Proverbs 1:24-28).
The special, inward, and efficacious “call’ of God comes only to His elect.
It is responded to by each favored one who receives it. It is referred to in
such passages as the following:
“The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that
hear shall live” (

John 5:25);.267
“He calleth His own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And
when He putteth forth His sheep, He goeth before them, and the
sheep follow Him: for they know His voice… and other sheep I
have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they
shall hear My voice” (

John 10:3, 4, 16);
“Whom He called, them He also justified” (

Romans 8:30);
“Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many
noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the
world to confound the wise” (

1 Corinthians 1:26-27).
This call is illustrated and exemplified in such cases as Matthew (

Luke
5:27, 28), Zacchaeus (

Luke 19:5, 6), Saul of Tarsus (

Acts 9:4, 5).
The individual, internal, and invincible call of God is an act of sovereign
grace, accompanied by all-mighty power, quickening those who are dead in
trespasses and sins, imparting to them spiritual life. This Divine call is
regeneration, or the new birth, when its favored recipient is brought “out of
darkness into His marvelous light” (

1 Peter 2:9). Now this is what is
before us in

Hebrews 11:8, which gives additional proof that this verse
commences a new section of the chapter. The wondrous call which
Abraham received from God is necessarily placed at the head of the Spirit’s
detailed description of the life of faith; necessarily, we say, for faith itself is
utterly impossible until the soul has been Divinely quickened.
Let us first contemplate the state that Abraham was in until and at the time
God called him. To view him in his unregenerate condition is a duty which
the Holy Spirit pressed upon Israel of old:
“Look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit
whence ye are digged: look unto Abraham your father, and unto
Sarah that bare you” (

Isaiah 51:1, 2).
Help is afforded if we turn to

Joshua 24:2,
“Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, your fathers dwelt on the other
side of the flood in old time, Terah, the father of Abraham, and the
father of Nachor: and they served other gods.”
Abraham, then, belonged to a heathen family, and dwelt in a great city,
until he was seventy. No doubt he lived his life after the same manner as his
fellows — content with the “husks” which the swine feed upon, with little.268
or no serious thoughts of the Hereafter. Thus it is with each of God’s elect
till the Divine call comes to them and arrests them in their self-will, mad,
and destructive course.
“The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he
was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran” (

Acts 7:2).
What marvelous grace! The God of glory condescended to draw near and
reveal Himself unto one that was sunk in sin, immersed in idolatry, having
no concern for the Divine honor. There was nothing in Abraham to deserve
God’s notice, still less to merit His esteem. But more: not only was the
grace of God here signally evident, but the sovereignty of His grace was
displayed in thus singling him out from the midst of all his fellows. As He
says in

Isaiah 51:2, “I called him alone, and blessed him.”
“Why God should not call his father and kindred, there can be no
answer but this: God hath mercy on whom He will (

Romans
9:18). He calleth Isaac and refuseth Ishmael; loveth Jacob, and
hateth Esau; taketh Abel, and leaveth Cain: even because He will,
and for no cause that we know” (W. Perkins, 1595).
“The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham”
(

Acts 7:2).
All that is included in these words, we know not; as to how God
“appeared” unto him, we cannot say. But of two things we may be certain:
for the first time in Abraham’s life God became a living Reality to him;
further, he perceived that He was an all-glorious Being. Thus it is, sooner
or later, in the personal experience of each of God’s elect. In the midst of
their worldliness, self-seeking and self-pleasing, one day He of whom they
had but the vaguest notions, and whom they sought to dismiss from their
thoughts, appears before their hearts — terrifying, awakening, and then
attracting. Now it is they can say,
“I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye
seeth Thee” (

Job 42:5).
O dear reader, our desire here is not simply to write an article, but to be
used of God in addressing a definite message from Him straight to your
inmost heart. Suffer us then to inquire, Do you know anything about what
has been said in the above paragraph? Has God become a living Reality to
your soul? Has He really drawn near to you, manifested Himself in His.269
awe-inspiring Majesty, and had direct and personal dealings with your
soul? Or do you know no more about Him than what others write and say
of Him? This is a question of vital moment, for if He does not have
personal dealings with you here in a way of grace, He will have personal
dealings with you hereafter, in a way of justice and judgment. Then
“Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while
he is near” (

Isaiah 55:6).
This, then, is one important aspect of regeneration: God graciously makes
a personal revelation of Himself to the soul. The result is that He
“who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in
our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in
the face of Jesus Christ” (

2 Corinthians 4:6).
The favored individual in whom this miracle of grace is wrought, is now
brought out of that dreadful state in which he lay by nature, whereby
“the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for
they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because
they are spiritually discerned” (

1 Corinthians 2:14).
So fearful is that state in which all the unregenerate lie, it is described as
“having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of
God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness
of their heart” (

Ephesians 4:18).
But at the new birth the soul is delivered from the terrible darkness of sin
and depravity into which the fall of Adam has brought all his descendants,
and is ushered into the marvelous and glorious light of God.
Let us next consider the accompaniment or terms of the call which
Abraham now received from God. A record of this is found in

Genesis
12:1,
“Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy
father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee.”
What a testing of faith was this! What a trial to flesh and blood! Abraham
was already seventy years of age, and long journeys and the break-up of
old associations do not commend themselves to elderly people. To leave
the land of his birth, to forsake home and estate, to sever family ties and.270
leave loved ones behind, to abandon present certainty for (what seemed to
human wisdom) a future uncertainty, and go forth not knowing whither,
must have seemed hard and harsh unto natural sentiment. Why, then,
should God make such a demand? To prove Abraham, to give the death-blow
to his natural corruptions, to demonstrate the might of His grace. Yet
we must look for something deeper, and that which applies directly to us.
As we have pointed out above, God’s appearing to Abraham and his call of
him, speaks to us of that miracle of grace which takes place in the soul at
regeneration. Now the evidence of regeneration is found in a genuine
conversion: it is that complete break from the old life, both inner and
outer, which furnishes proof of the new birth. It is plain to any renewed
mind that when a soul has been favored with a real and personal
manifestation of God, that a move or response is called for from him. It is
simply impossible that he should continue his old manner of life. A new
Object is before him, a new relationship has been established, new desires
now fill his heart, and new responsibilities claim him. The moment a man
truly realizes that he has to do with God, there must be a radical change:
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things
are passed away, behold, all things are become new”
(

2 Corinthians 5:17).
The call which Abraham received from God required a double response
from him: he was to leave the land of his birth, and forsake his own
kindred. What, then is the spiritual significance of these things? Remember
that Abraham was a pattern case, for he is the “father” of all Christians,
and the children must be conformed to the family likeness. Abraham is the
prototype of those who are “holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly
calling” (

Hebrews 3:1). Now the spiritual application to us of what was
adumbrated by the terms of Abraham’s call is twofold: doctrinal and
practical, legal and experimental. Let us, briefly, consider them separately.
“Get thee out of thy country” finds its counterpart in the fact that the
Christian is one who has been, by grace, the redemptive work of Christ,
and the miraculous operation of the Spirit, delivered from his old position.
By nature, the Christian was a member of “the world,” the whole of which
“lieth in the Wicked one” (

1 John 5:19), and so is headed for
destruction. But God’s elect have been delivered from this: Christ.271
“gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this
present evil world, according to the will of God our Father”
(

Galatians 1:4);
therefore does He say unto His own
“because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the
world, therefore the world hateth you” (

John 15:19).
“Get thee out of thy country” finding its fulfillment, first, in the Christian’s
being delivered from his old condition, namely, “in the flesh”:
“Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the
body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not
serve sin” (

Romans 6:6).
He has now been made a member of a new family.
“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us,
that we should be called the sons of God” (

1 John 3:1).
He is now brought into union with a new “kindred,” for all born-again
souls are his brethren and sisters in Christ:
“They that are in the flesh cannot please God; but ye are not in the
flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you”
(

Romans 8:8, 9).
Thus, the call of God is a separating one — from our old standing and
state, into a new one.
Now what has just been pointed out above is already, from the Divine side,
an accomplished fact. Legally, the Christian no longer belongs to “the
world” nor is he “in the flesh.” But this has to be entered into practically
from the human side, and made good in our actual experience• Because our
“citizenship is in heaven” (

Philippians 3:20), we are to live here as
“strangers and pilgrims.” A practical separation from the world is
demanded of us, for “the friendship of the world is enmity with God”
(

James 4:4); therefore does God say,
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers… come out
from among them, and be ye separate” (

2 Corinthians 6:14, 17).
So too the “flesh,” still in us, is to be allowed no rein..272
“I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye
present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God,
which is your reasonable service” (

Romans 12:1);
“Make not provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof”
(

Romans 13:14);
“Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth”
(

Colossians 3:5).
The claims of Christ upon His people are paramount• He reminds them
that,
“ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price”
(

1 Corinthians 6:19, 20).
Therefore does He say,
“If any man come to Me, and hate not his father, and mother, and
wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life
also, he cannot be My disciple” (

Luke 14:26).
Their response is declared in,
“They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections
and lusts” (

Galatians 5:24).
Thus, the terms of the call which Abraham received from God are
addressed to our hearts. A complete break from the old life is required of
us.
Practical separation from the world is imperative. This was typed out of
old in the history of Abraham’s descendants. They had settled down in
Egypt — figure of the world — and after they had come under the blood
of the lamb, and before they entered Canaan (type of Heaven), they must
leave the land of Pharaoh• Hence too God says of our Surety “Out of
Egypt have I called My Son” (

Matthew 2:15): the Head must be
conformed to the members, and the members to their Head. Practical
mortification of the flesh is equally imperative, “For if ye live after the
flesh, ye shall die (eternally): but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the
deeds of the body, ye shall live” (eternally): (

Romans 8:13);.273
“but he that soweth to his flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption;
but he that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life
everlasting” (

Galatians 6:8).
“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he
should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not
knowing whither he went.” This verse, read in the light of

Genesis 12:1,
clearly signifies that God demanded the supreme place in Abraham’s
affections. His life was no longer to be regulated by self-will, self-love,
self-pleasing; self was to be entirely set aside, “crucified.” Henceforth, the
will and word of God was to govern and direct him in all things.
Henceforth he was to be a man without a home on earth, but seeking one
in Heaven, and treading that path which alone leads thither.
Now it should be very evident from what has been said above that,
regeneration or an effectual call from God is a miraculous thing, as far
above the reach of nature as the heavens are above the earth. When God
makes a personal revelation of Himself to the soul, this is accompanied by
the communication of supernatural grace, which produces supernatural
fruit. It was contrary to nature for Abraham to leave home and country,
and go forth “not knowing whither he went.” Equally it is contrary to
nature for the Christian to separate from the world and crucify the flesh. A
miracle of Divine grace has to be wrought within him, before any man will
really deny self and live in complete subjection to God. And this leads us to
say that, genuine cases of regeneration are much rarer than many suppose.
The spiritual children of Abraham are very far from being a numerous
company, as is abundantly evident from the fact that few indeed bear his
likeness. Out of all the thousands of professing Christians around us, how
many manifest Abraham’s faith or do Abraham’s works?
“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he
should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not
knowing whither he went.” This verse, read in the light upon which we
would fix our attention is Abraham’s obedience. A roving faith is one
which heeds the Divine commands, as well as relies upon the Divine
promises. Make no mistake upon this point, dear reader: Christ is
“the Author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him”
(

Hebrews 5:9)..274
Abraham placed himself unreservedly in the hands of God, surrendered to
His lordship, and subscribed to His wisdom as best fitted to direct him.
And so must we, or we shall never be “carried into Abraham’s bosom”
(

Luke 16:22).
Abraham “obeyed, and he went out.” There are two things there: “obeyed”
signifies the consent of his mind, “and went out” tells of his actual
performance. He obeyed not only in word, but in deed. In this, he was in
marked contrast from the rebellious one mentioned in

Matthew 21:30,
“I go, sir, and went not.”
“The first act of saving faith consists in a discovery and sight of the
infinite greatness, goodness, and other excellencies of the nature of
God, so as to judge it our duty upon His call, His command, and
promise, to deny ourselves, to relinquish all things, and to do so
accordingly” (John Owen).
Such ought our obedience to be unto God’s call, and to every
manifestation of His will. It must be a simple obedience in subjection to His
authority, without inquiring after the reason thereof, and without objecting
any scruples or difficulties against it.
“Observe that faith, wherever it is, bringeth forth obedience: by
faith Abraham, being called, obeyed God. Faith and obedience can
never be severed; as the sun and the light, fire and heat. Therefore
we read of the ‘obedience of faith’ (

Romans 1:5). Obedience is
faith’s daughter. Faith hath not only to do with the grace of God,
but with the duty of the creature. By apprehending grace, it works
upon duty: ‘faith worketh by love’ (

Galatians 5:6); it fills the
soul with the apprehensions of God’s love, and then makes use of
the sweetness of love to urge us to more work or obedience. All
our obedience to God comes from love of God, and our love comes
from the persuasion of God’s love to us. The argument and
discourse that is in a sanctified soul is set down thus: ‘I live by the
faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me’
(

Galatians 2:20). Wilt thou not do this for God, that loved thee?
for Jesus Christ, that gave Himself for thee? Faith works towards
obedience by commanding the affections” (Thomas Manton, 1680).
“He went forth not knowing whither he went.” How this demonstrates the
reality and power of his faith — to leave a present possession for a future.275
one. Abraham’s obedience is the more conspicuous because at the time
God called him, He did not specify which land he was to journey to, nor
where it was located. Thus, it was by faith and not by sight, that he moved
forward. Implicit confidence in the One who had called him was needed on
the part of Abraham. Imagine a total stranger coming and bidding you
follow him, without telling you where! To undertake a journey of unknown
length, one of difficulty and danger, towards a land of which he knew
nothing, called for real faith in the living God. See here the power of faith
to triumph over fleshly disinclinations, to surmount obstacles, to perform
difficult duties. Reader, is this the nature of your faith? Is your faith
producing works which are not only above the power of mere nature to
perform, but also directly contrary thereto?
Abraham’s faith is hard to find these days. There is much talk and boasting,
but most of it is empty words — the works of Abraham are conspicuous by
their absence, in the vast majority of those who claim to be his children.
The Christian is required to set his affections on things above, and not on
things below (

Colossians 3:2). He is required to walk by faith, and not
by sight; to tread the path of obedience to God’s commands, and not
please himself; to go and do whatever the Lord bids him. Even if God’s
commands appear severe or unreasonable, we must obey them:
“Let no man deceive himself: if any man among you seemeth to be
wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise”
(

1 Corinthians 3:18);
“And He said to them all, if any man will come after Me, let him
deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me”
(

Luke 9:23).
But such an obedience as God requires can only proceed from a
supernatural faith. An unshakable confidence in the living God, and
unreserved surrender to His holy will, each step of our lives being ordered
by His word (

Psalm 119:105), can only issue from a miraculous work
of grace which He has Himself wrought in the heart. How many there are
who profess to be God’s people yet only obey Him so long as they
consider that their own interests are being served! How many are unwilling
to quit trading on the Sabbath because they fear a few dollars will be lost!
Now just as a traveler on foot, who takes a long journey through an
unknown country, seeks a reliable guide, commits himself to his leading,
trusts to his knowledge, and follows him implicitly o’er hill and dale, so.276
God requires us to commit ourselves fully unto Him, trusting His
faithfulness, wisdom and power, and yielding to every demand which He
makes upon us.
“He went forth not knowing whither he went.” Most probably many of his
neighbors and acquaintances in Chaldea would inquire why he was leaving
them, and where he was bound for. Imagine their surprise when Abraham
had to say, I know not. Could they appreciate the fact that he was walking
by faith and not by sight? Would they commend him for following Divine
orders? Would they not rather deem him crazy? And, dear reader, the
Godless will no more understand the motives which prompt the real
children of God today, than could the Chaldeans understand Abraham; the
unregenerate professing Christians all around us, will no more approve of
our strict compliance with God’s commands, than did Abraham’s heathen
neighbors. The world is governed by the senses, not faith; lives to please
self, not God. And if the world does not deem you and me crazy, then
there is something radically wrong with our hearts and lives.
One other point remains to be considered, and we must reluctantly
conclude this article. The obedience of Abraham’s faith was unto “a land
which he should afterward receive for an inheritance” (verse 8). Literally,
that “inheritance” was Canaan; spiritually, it foreshadowed Heaven. Now
had Abraham refused to make the radical break which he did from his old
life, crucify the affections of the flesh, and leave Chaldea, he had never
reached the promised land. The Christian’s “Inheritance” is purely of
grace, for what can any man do in time to earn something which is eternal?
Utterly impossible is it for any finite creature to perform anything which
deserves an infinite reward. Nevertheless, God has marked out a certain
path which conducts to the promised Inheritance: the path of obedience,
the “Narrow Way” which “leadeth unto Life” (

Matthew 7:14), and only
those ever reach Heaven who tread that path to the end.
As the utmost confusion now reigns upon this subject, and as many are,
through an unwarranted reserve, afraid to speak out plainly thereon, we
feel obliged to add a little more. Unqualified obedience is required from us:
not to furnish title to Heaven — that is found alone in the merits of Christ;
not to fit us for Heaven — that is supplied alone by the supernatural work
of the Spirit in the heart; but that God may be owned and honored by us as
we journey thither, that we may prove and manifest the sufficiency of H’s
grace, that we may furnish evidences we are HIS children, that we may be.277
preserved from those things which would otherwise destroy us — only in
the path of obedience can we avoid those foes which are seeking to slay us.
O dear reader, as you value your soul we entreat you not to spurn this
article, and particularly its closing paragraphs, because its teaching differs
radically from what you are accustomed to hear or read. The path of
obedience must be trod if ever you are to reach Heaven. Many are
acquainted with that path or “way,” but they walk not therein: see

2
Peter 2:20. Many, like Lot’s wife, make a start along it, and then turn from
it: see

Luke 9:62. Many follow it for quite a while, but fail to persevere;
and, like Israel of old, perish in the wilderness. No rebel can enter Heaven;
one who is wrapped up in self cannot; no disobedient soul will. Only those
will partake of the heavenly “inheritance” who are “children of Abraham,”
who have his faith, follow his examples, perform his works. May the Lord
deign to add His blessing to the above, and to Him shall be all the praise..278
CHAPTER 61
THE LIFE OF ABRAHAM
(

HEBREWS 11:9, 10)
In the preceding article we considered the appearing of the Lord unto
idolatrous Abraham in Chaldea, the call which he then received to make a
complete break from his old life, and to go forward in faith in complete
subjection to the revealed will of God. This we contemplated as a figure
and type, an illustration and example of one essential feature of
regeneration, namely, God’s effectually calling His elect from death unto
life, out of darkness into His marvelous light, with the blessed fruits this
produces. As we saw on the last occasion, a mighty change was wrought in
Abraham, so that his manner of life was completely altered: “By faith
Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after
receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither
he went.”
Ere turning unto the verses which are to form our present portion, let us
first ask and seek to answer the following question: Was Abraham’s
response to God’s call a perfect one? Was his obedience flawless? Ah, dear
reader, is it difficult to anticipate the answer? There has been only one
perfect life lived on this earth. Moreover, had there been no failure in
Abraham’s walk, would not the type have been faulty? But God’s types are
accurate at every point, and in His Word the Spirit has portrayed the
characters of His people in the colors of truth and reality: He has faithfully
described them as they actually were. True, a supernatural work of grace
had been wrought in Abraham, but the “flesh” had not been removed from
him. True, a supernatural faith had been communicated to him, but the root
of unbelief had not been taken out of him. Two contrary principles were at
work within Abraham (as they are in us), and both of these were
evidenced.
God’s requirements from Abraham were clearly made known:.279
“Get thee out of thy country and from thy kindred, and from thy
father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee”
(

Genesis 12:1).
The first response which he made to this is recorded in

Genesis 11:31,
“And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son’s
son, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife; and they
went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land
of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there.”
He left Chaldea, but instead of separating from his “kindred,” he suffered
his nephew Lot to accompany him; instead of forsaking his father’s house,
Terah was permitted to take the lead; and instead of entering Canaan,
Abraham stopped short and settled in Haran. Abraham temporized: his
obedience was partial, faltering, tardy. He yielded to the affections of the
flesh. Alas, cannot both writer and reader see here a plain reflection of
himself, a portrayal of his own sad failures! Yes,
“As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man”
(

Proverbs 27:19).
But let us earnestly seek grace at this point to be much upon our guard lest
we “wrest” (

2 Peter 3:16) to our own hurt what has just been before us.
If the thought arises “O well, Abraham was not perfect, he did not always
do as God commanded him, so it cannot be expected that I should do any
better than he did,” then recognize that this is a temptation from the Devil.
Abraham’s failures are not recorded for us to shelter behind, for us to
make them so many palliations for our own sinful falls; no, rather are they
to be regarded as so many warnings for us to take to heart and prayerfully
heed. Such warnings only leave us the more without excuse. And when we
discover that we have sadly repeated the backslidings of the O.T. saints,
that very discovery should but humble us the more before God, move to a
deeper repentance, lead to increasing self-distrust, and issue in a more
earnest and constant seeking of Divine Grace to uphold and maintain us in
the paths of righteousness.
Though Abraham failed, there was no failure in God. Blessed indeed is it to
behold His long-suffering, His super-abounding grace, His unchanging
faithfulness, and the eventual fulfilling of His own purpose. This reveals to
us, for the joy of our hearts and the worshipping praise of our souls,
another reason why the Holy Spirit has so faithfully placed on record the.280
shadows as well as the lights in the lives of the O.T. saints: they are to
serve not only as solemn warnings for us to heed, but also as so many
examples of that marvelous patience of God that bears so long and so
tenderly with the dullness and waywardness of His children; examples too
of that infinite mercy which deals with His people not after their sins, nor
rewards them according to their iniquities. O how the realization of this
should melt our hearts, and evoke true worship and thanksgiving unto “the
God of all grace” (

1 Peter 5:10). It will be so, it must be so, in every
truly regenerate soul; though the unregenerate will only turn the very grace
of God “into lasciviousness” (Jude 4) unto their eternal undoing.
The sequel to

Genesis 11:31 is found in

Hebrews 12:5,
“And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all
their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had
gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan,
and into the land of Canaan they came.”
Though Abraham had settled down in Haran, God would not allow him to
continue there indefinitely. The Lord had purposed that he should enter
Canaan, and no purpose of His can fail. God therefore tumbled him out of
the nest which he had made for himself (

Deuteronomy 32:11), and very
solemn is it to observe the means which he used: “And Terah died in Haran
(

Genesis 11:32 and cf.

Acts 7:4) — death had to come in before
Abraham left Halfway House! He never started across the wilderness until
death severed that tie of the flesh which had held him back. But that with
which we desire to be specially occupied at this point is the wondrous love
of God toward His erring child.
“I am the Lord, I change not: therefore ye sons of Jacob are not
consumed” (

Malachi 3:6).
Blessed, thrice blessed, is this. Though the dogs are likely to consume it
unto their own ruin, yet that must not make us withhold this sweet portion
of “the children’s bread.” The immutability of the Divine nature is the
saints’ indemnity; God’s unchangeableness affords the fullest assurance of
His faithfulness in the promises. No change in us can alter His mind, no
unfaithfulness on our part will cause Him to revoke His word. Unstable
though we be, sorely tempted as we often are, tripped up as may frequently
be our case, yet God “shall also confirm us unto the end… God is faithful”
(

1 Corinthians 1:8, 9). The powers of Satan and the world are against.281
us, suffering and death before us, a treacherous and fearful heart within us;
yet God will “confirm us unto the end.” He did Abraham; He will us.
Hallelujah.
“By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange
country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs
with him of the same promise” (verse 9).
This verse brings before us the second effect or proof of Abraham’s faith.
In the previous verse the apostle had spoken of the place from whence
Abraham was called, here of the place to which he was called. There he
had shown the power of faith in self-denial in obedience to God’s
command, here we behold the patience and constancy of faith in waiting
for the fulfillment of the promise. But the mere reading of this verse by
itself is not likely to make much impression upon us: we need to diligently
consult and carefully ponder other passages, in order to be in a position to
appreciate its real force.
First of all we are told, “And Abram passed through the land unto the place
of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the
land.” Unless a supernatural work of grace had been wrought in Abraham’s
heart, subduing (though not eradicating) his natural desires and reasonings,
he certainly would not have remained in Canaan. An idolatrous people
were already occupying the land. Again, we are told that
“He (God) gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to
set his foot on” (

Acts 7:5).
Only the unclaimed tracts, which were commonly utilized by those having
flocks and herds, were available for his use. Not an acre did he own, for he
had to “purchase” a plot of ground as a burying place for his dead (Genesis
23). What a trial of faith was this, for

Hebrews 11:8 expressly declares
that he was afterward to “receive” that land “for an inheritance.” Yet
instead of this presenting a difficulty, it only enhances the beauty and
accuracy of the type.
The Christian has also been begotten “to an inheritance” (

1 Peter 1:4),
but he does not fully enter into it the moment he is called from death unto
life. No, instead, he is left here (very often) for many years to fight his way
through an hostile world and against an opposing Devil. During that fight
he meets with many discouragements and receives numerous wounds. Hard
duties have to be performed, difficulties overcome, and trials endured,.282
before the Christian enters fully into that inheritance unto which Divine
grace has appointed him. And naught but a Divinely bestowed and Divinely
maintained faith is sufficient for these things: that alone will sustain the
heart in the face of losses, reproaches, painful delays. It was thus with
Abraham: it was “by faith” he left the land of his birth, started out on a
journey he knew not whither, crossed a dreary wilderness, and then
sojourned in tents for more than half a century in a strange land. Rightly
did the Puritan Manton say:
“From God’s training up Abraham in a course of difficulties, we see
it is no easy matter to go to Heaven; there is a great deal of ado to
unsettle a believer from the world, and there is a great deal of ado
to fix the heart in the expectation of Heaven. First there must be
self-denial in coming out of the world, and divorcing ourselves
from our bosom sins and dearest interests; and then there must be
patience shown in waiting for God’s mercy to eternal life, waiting
His leisure as well as performing His will. Here is the time of our
exercise, and we must expect it, since the father of the faithful was
thus trained up ere he could inherit the promises.”
“By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country.” The
force of this will be more apparent if we link together two statements in
Genesis: “And the Canaanite was then in the land” (

Genesis 12:6)
“And the Lord said, unto Abram… all the land which thou seest to
thee will I give it and to thy seed forever” (

Genesis 13:14, 15).
Here was the ground which Abraham’s faith rested upon, the plain word of
Him that cannot lie. Upon that promise his heart reposed, and therefore he
was occupied not with the Canaanites who were then in the land, but with
the invisible Jehovah who had pledged it unto him. How different was the
case of the spies, who, in a later day, went up into this very land, with the
assurance of the Lord that it was a “good land.” Their report was
“the land through which we have gone to search it, is a land that
eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in
it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons
of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight
as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight” (

Numbers
13:32, 33)..283
“By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country.” As
it was by faith that Abraham went out of Chaldea, so it was by faith he
remained out of the country of which he was originally a native. This
illustrates the fact that not only do we become Christians by an act of faith
(the yielding up of the whole man unto God), but that as Christians we are
called upon to live by faith (

Galatians 2:20), to walk by faith and not by
sight (

2 Corinthians 5:7). The place where Abraham now abode is here
styled “the land of promise,” rather than Canaan, to teach us that it is
God’s promise which puts vigor into faith. Note how both Moses and
Joshua, at a later day, sought to quicken the faith of the Israelites by this
means:
“Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do, that it may be well
with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the Lord God of
thy fathers hath promised thee” (

Deuteronomy 6:3).
“And the Lord your God, He shall expel them from before you, and
drive them from out of your sight; and ye shall possess their land,
as the Lord your God hath promised you” (

Joshua 23:5).
“As in a strange country.” This tells us how Abraham regarded that land
which was then occupied by the Canaanites, and how he conducted himself
in it. He purchased no farm, built no house, and entered into no alliance
with its people. True, he entered into a league of peace and amity with
Aner, Eshcol, and Mature (

Genesis 14:13), but it was as a stranger, and
not as one who had any thing of his own in the land. He reckoned that
country no more his own, than any other land in the world. He took no
part in its politics, had nothing to do with its religion, had very little social
intercourse with its people, but lived by faith and found his joy and
satisfaction in communion with the Lord. This teaches us that though the
Christian is still in the world, he is not of it, nor must he cultivate its
friendship (

James 4:4). He may use it as necessity requires, but he must
ever be on his prayerful guard against abusing it (

1 Corinthians 7:31).
“Dwelling in tents.” These words inform us both of Abraham’s manner of
life and disposition of heart during his sojourning in Canaan. Let us
consider them from this twofold viewpoint. Abraham did not conduct
himself as the possessor of Canaan, but as a foreigner and pilgrim in it. To
Heth he confessed, “I am a stranger and sojourner with you” (

Genesis
23:4). As the father of the faithful he set an example of self-denial and
patience. It was not that he was unable to purchase an estate, build an.284
elaborate mansion, and settle down in some attractive spot, for

Genesis
13:2 tells us that “Abraham was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold”;
but God had not called him unto this. Ah, my reader, a palace without the
enjoyed presence of the Lord, is but an empty bauble; whereas a prison-dungeon
occupied by one in real communion with Him, may be the very
vestibule of Heaven.
Living in a strange country, surrounded by wicked heathen, had it not been
wiser for Abraham to erect a strongly fortified castle? A “tent” offers little
or no defense against attack. Ah, but “the angel of the Lord encampeth
round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them.” And Abraham both
feared and trusted God.
“Where faith enables men to live unto God, as unto their eternal
concerns, it will enable them to trust unto Him in all the difficulties,
dangers, and hazards of this life. To pretend a trust in God as unto
our souls and invisible things, and not resign our temporal concerns
with patience and quietness unto His disposal, is a vain pretense.
And we may take hence an eminent trial of our faith. Too many
deceive themselves with a presumption of faith in the promises of
God, as unto things future and eternal. They suppose that they do
so believe, as that they shall be eternally saved, but if they are
brought into any trial, as unto things temporal, wherein they are
concerned, they know not what belongs unto the life of faith, nor
how to trust God in a due manner. It was not so with Abraham: his
faith acted itself uniformly with respect to the providences, as well
as the promises of God” (John Owen).
Abram’s “dwelling in tents” also denoted the disposition of his heart. A life
of faith is one which has respect unto things spiritual and eternal, and
therefore one of its fruits is to be contented with a very small portion of
earthly things. Faith not only begets a confidence and joy in the things
promised, but it also works a composure of spirit and submission to the
Lord’s will. A little would serve Abraham on earth because he expected so
much in Heaven. Nothing is more calculated to deliver the heart from
covetousness, from lusting after the perishing things of time and sense,
from envying the poor rich, than to heed that exhortation,
“Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth”
(

Colossians 3:2)..285
But it is one thing to quote that verse, and another to put it into practice. If
we are the children of Abraham, we must emulate the example of
Abraham. Are our carnal affections mortified? Can we submit to a
pilgrim’s fare without murmuring? Are we enduring hardness as good
soldiers of Jesus Christ (

2 Timothy 2:3)?
The tent-life of the patriarchs demonstrated their pilgrim character: it made
manifest their contentment to live upon the surface of the earth, for a tent
has no foundation, and can be pitched or struck at short notice. They were
sojourners here and just passing through this wilderness-scene without
striking their roots into it. Their tent life spoke of their separation from the
world’s allurements, politics, friendships, religion. It is deeply significant to
note that when reference is made to Abraham’s “tent,” there is mention
also of his “altar”:
“and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west and Hai on the
east, and there he builded an altar unto the Lord” (

Genesis
12:8);
“and he went on his journeys… unto the place where his tent had
been at the beginning, unto the place of the altar” (

Genesis
13:3,4);
“Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of
Mature, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the Lord”
(

Genesis 13:18).
Observe carefully the order in each of these passages: there must be heart
separation from the world before a thrice holy God can be worshipped in
spirit and in truth.
“Dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same
promise.” The Greek here is more expressive than our translation: “in tents
dwelling”: the Holy Spirit emphasized first not the act of dwelling, but the
fact that this dwelling was in tents. The mention of Isaac and Jacob in this
verse is for the purpose of calling our attention unto the further fact that
Abraham continued thus for the space of almost a century, Jacob not being
born until he had sojourned in Canaan for eighty-five years! Herein we are
taught that “when we are once engaged and have given up ourselves to
God in a way of believing, there must be no choice, no dividing or halting,
no halving; but we must follow Him fully, wholly, living by faith in all
things” (John Owen), and that unto the very end of our earthly course..286
There does not seem to be anything requiring us to believe that Isaac and
Jacob shared Abraham’s tent, rather is the thought that they also lived the
same pilgrim’s life in Canaan: as Abraham was a sojourner in that land,
without any possession there, so were they. The “with” may be extended to
cover all that is said in the previous part of the verse, indicating it was “by
faith” that both Abraham’s son and grandson followed the example set
them. The words which follow confirm this: they were “the heirs with him
of the same promise.” That is indeed a striking expression, for ordinarily
sons are merely “heirs” and not joint-heirs with their parents. This is to
show us that Isaac was not indebted to Abraham for the promise, nor
Jacob to Isaac, each receiving the same promise direct from God. This is
clear from a comparison of

Genesis 13:15 and

Genesis 17:8 with

Genesis 26:3 and

Genesis 28:13, 35:12. It also tells us that if we are
to have an interest in the blessings of Abraham, we must walk in the steps
of his faith.
Very blessed and yet very searching is the principle exemplified in the last
clause of verse 9. God’s saints are all of the same spiritual disposition.
They are members of the same family, united to the same Christ, indwelt by
the same Spirit.
“And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of
one soul” (

Acts 4:32).
They are governed by the same laws:
“I will put My laws into their mind and write them in their hearts”
(

Hebrews 8:10).
They all have one aim, to please God and glorify Him on earth. They are
called to the same privileges: “to them that have obtained like precious
faith with us” etc. (

2 Peter 1:1).
“For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose Builder
and Maker is God” (verse 10).
Ah, here is the explanation of what has been before us in the previous
verse, as the opening “for” intimates; Abraham was walking by faith, and
not by sight, and therefore his heart was set upon things above and not
upon things below. It is the exercise of faith and hope upon heavenly
objects which makes us carry ourselves with a loose heart toward worldly
comforts. Abraham realized that his portion and possession was not on.287
earth, but in Heaven. It was this which made him content to dwell in tents.
He did not build a city, as Cain did (

Genesis 4:17), but “looked for” one
of which God Himself is the Maker. What an illustration and
exemplification was this of the opening verse of our chapter: “Now faith is
the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
That for which Abraham looked was Heaven itself, here likened unto a city
with foundations, in manifest antithesis from the “tents” which have no
foundations. Various figures are used to express the saints’ everlasting
portion. It is called an “inheritance” (

1 Peter 1:4), to signify the freeness
of its tenure. It is denominated “many mansions’’ in the Father’s House. It
is styled an “heavenly country” (

Hebrews 11:16) to signify its
spaciousness. There are various resemblances between Heaven and a
“city.” A city is a civil society that is under government: so in Heaven there
is a society of angels and saints ruled by God:

Hebrews 12:22-24. In
Bible days a city was a place of safety, being surrounded by strong and
high walls: so in Heaven we shall be eternally secure from sin and Satan,
death and every enemy. A city is well stocked with provisions: so in
Heaven nothing will be lacking which is good and blessed. The
“foundations” of the Heavenly City are the eternal decree and love of God,
the unalterable covenant of grace, Christ Jesus the Rock of Ages, on which
it stands firm and immovable.
It is the power of a faith which is active and operative that will sustain the
heart under hardships and sufferings as nothing else will.
“For which cause we faint not: but though our outward man perish,
yet the inward is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which
is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and
eternal weight of glory; 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 Corinthians 4:16-18).
As John Owen well said,
“This is a full description of Abraham’s faith, in the operation and
effect here ascribed to it by the apostle. And herein it is exemplary
and encouraging to all believers under their present trials and
sufferings.”.288
Ah, my brethren and sisters, do we not see from that which has been before
us why the attractions of the world or the depressing effects of suffering,
have such a power upon us? Is it not because we are negligent in the
stirring up of our faith to “lay hold of the hope which is set before us”? If
we meditated more frequently upon the glory and bliss of Heaven, and
were favored with foretastes of it in our souls, would we not sigh after it
more ardently and press forward unto it more earnestly?
“Abraham rejoiced to see Christ’s day, and he saw it, and was glad”
(

John 8:56);
and if we had more serious and spiritual thoughts of the Day to come, we
would not be so sad as we often are.
“He that hath this hope in Him, purifieth himself, even as He is
pure” (

1 John 3:3),
for it lifts the heart above this scene and carries us in spirit within the veil.
The more our hearts are attracted to Heaven, the less will the poor things
of this world appeal to us..289
CHAPTER SIXTY-TWO
THE FAITH OF SARAH
(

HEBREWS 11:11, 12)
In the verses which are now to be before us the apostle calls attention to
the marvelous power of a God-given faith to exercise itself in the presence
of most discouraging circumstances, persevere in the face of the most
formidable obstacles, and trust God to do that which unto human reason
seemed utterly impossible. They show us that this faith was exercised by a
frail and aged woman, who at first was hindered and opposed by the
workings of unbelief, but who in the end relied upon the veracity of God
and rested upon His promise. They show what an intensely practical thing
faith is: that it not only lifts up the soul to Heaven, but is able to draw
down strength for the body on earth. They demonstrate what great endings
sometimes issue from small beginnings, and that like a stone thrown into a
lake produces ever-enlarging circles on the rippling waters, so faith issues
in fruit which increases from generation to generation.
The more the 11th verse of our present chapter be pondered, the more
evident will it appear the faith there spoken of is of a radically different
order from that mental and theoretical faith of cozy-chair dreamers. The
“faith” of the vast majority of professing Christians is as different from that
described in Hebrews 11 as darkness is from light. The one ends in talk, the
other was expressed in deeds. The one breaks down when put to the test,
the other survived every trial to which it was exposed. The one is
inoperative and ineffectual, the other was active and powerful. The one is
unproductive, the other issued in fruits to the glory of God. Ah, is it not
evident that the great difference between them is, that one is merely
human, the other Divine; one merely natural, the other altogether
supernatural? This it is which our hearts and consciences need to lay hold
of and turn into earnest prayer.
That which has just been pointed out ought to deeply exercise both writer
and reader. It ought to search us through and through, causing us to
seriously and diligently weigh the character of our “faith.” It is of little use.290
to be entertained by interesting articles, unless they lead to careful self-examination.
It is of little profit to be made to wonder at the achievements
of the faith of those O.T. saints, unless we are shamed by them, and made
to cry mightily unto God for Him to work in us a “like precious faith.”
Unless our faith issues in works which mere nature cannot produce, unless
it is enabling us to “overcome the world” (

1 John 5:4) and triumph over
the lusts of the flesh, then we have grave cause to fear that our faith is not
“the faith of God’s elect” (

Titus 1:1). Cry with David,
“Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my reins and my heart”
(

Psalm 26:2).
It is not that any Christian lives a life of perfect faith — only the Lord Jesus
ever did that. No, for in the first place, like all the other spiritual graces, it
is subject to growth (

2 Thessalonians 1:3), and full maturity is not
reached in this life. In the second place, faith is not always in exercise, nor
can we command its activities: He who bestowed it, must also renew it. In
the third place, the faith of every saint falters at times: it did in Abraham, in
Moses, in Elijah, in the apostles. The flesh is still in us, and therefore the
reasonings of unbelief are ever ready (unless Divine grace subdue them) to
oppose the actings of faith. We are not then urging the reader to search in
himself for a faith that is perfect, either in its growth, its constancy or its
achievements. Rather are we to seek Divine aid and make sure whether we
have any faith which is superior to what has been acquired through
religious education; whether we have a faith which, despite the strugglings
of unbelief, does trust the living God; whether we have a faith which
produces any fruit which manifestly issues from a spiritual root.
Having spoken of Abraham’s faith, the apostle now makes mention of
Sarah’s.
“Observe what a blessing it is when a husband and wife are both
partners of faith, when both in the same yoke draw one way.
Abraham is the father of the faithful, and Sarah is recommended
among believers as having a fellowship in the same promises, and in
the same troubles and trials. So it is said of Zachariah and
Elizabeth, ‘And they were both righteous before God, walking in all
the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless’
(

Luke 1:6). It is a mighty encouragement when the constant
companion of our lives is also a fellow in the same faith. This
should direct us in the matter of choice: she cannot be a meet help.291
that goeth a contrary way in religion. Religion decayeth in families
by nothing so much as by want of care in matches” (T. Manton).
“Through faith also Sarah herself received strength to conceive
seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because
she judged Him faithful who had promised” (verse 11).
There are five things upon which our attention needs to be focused.
First, the impediments of her faith: these were, her barrenness, old age,
and unbelief.
Second, the effect of her faith: she “received strength to conceive.”
Third, the constancy of her faith: she trusted God unto an actual
deliverance or birth of the child.
Fourth, the foundation of her faith: she rested upon the veracity of the
Divine Promiser.
Fifth, the fruit of her faith: the numerous posterity which issued from
her son Isaac. Let us consider each of these separately.
“Through faith also Sarah herself.” The Greek is just the same here as in all
the other verses, and should have been rendered uniformly “By faith” etc.
The word “also” seems to be added for a double purpose. First to
counteract and correct any error which might suppose that women were
debarred the blessings and privileges of grace. It is true that in the official
sphere God has prohibited them from occupying the place of rule or
usurping authority over the men, so that they are commanded to be silent
in the churches (

1 Corinthians 14:34), are not permitted to teach (

1
Timothy 2:12), and are bidden to be in subjection to their husbands
(

Ephesians 5:22). But in the spiritual sphere all inequalities disappear,
for
“there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there
is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus”
(

Galatians 3:28),
and therefore the believing husband and the believing wife are “heirs
together of the grace of life.”
In the second place, this added “also” informs us that, though a woman,
Sarah exercised the same faith as had Abraham. She had left Chaldea when.292
he did, accompanied him to Canaan, dwelt with him in tents. Not only so,
but she personally acted faith upon the living God. Necessarily so, for she
was equally concerned in the Divine revelation with Abraham, and was as
much a party to the great difficulties of its accomplishment. The blessing of
the promised seed was assigned to and appropriated by her, as much as to
and by him; and therefore is she proposed unto the Church as an example
(

1 Peter 3:5, 6).
“As Abraham was the father of the faithful, or of the church, so she
was the mother of it, so as that the distinct mention of her faith was
necessary. She was the free woman from whence the Church
sprang:

Galatians 4:22, 23. And all believing women are her
daughters:

1 Peter 3:6” (John Owen).
“By faith also Sarah herself received strength.” The word “herself” is
emphatic: it was not her husband only, by whose faith she might receive the
blessing, but by her own faith that she received strength, and this,
notwithstanding the very real and formidable obstacles which stood in the
way of her exercising it. These, as we have pointed out, were three in
number.
First, she had not borne any children during the customary years of
pregnancy: as

Genesis 11:30 informs us, “Sarah was barren”; “Sarah,
Abram’s wife, bare him no children” (

Genesis 16:1).
Second, she was long past the age of childbearing, for she was now “ninety
years old” (

Genesis 17:17).
Third, the workings of unbelief interposed, persuading her that it was
altogether against nature and reason for a woman, under such
circumstances, to give birth unto a child. This comes out in

Genesis 18.
There we read of three men appearing unto Abraham, one of whom was
the Lord in theophanic manifestation. Unto him He said, “Sarah thy wife
shall have a son.” Upon hearing this “Sarah laughed within herself.”
Sarah’s laughter was that of doubting and distrust, for she said, “I am
waxed old.” At once the Lord rebukes her unbelief, asking “Is there
anything too hard for the Lord! At the time appointed I will return unto
thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.” Solemn
indeed is the sequel..293
“Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And
He said, Nay; but thou didst laugh” (verse 15).
It is always a shame to do amiss, but a greater shame to deny it. It was a
sin to give way to unbelief, but it was adding iniquity unto iniquity to cover
it with a lie. But we deceive ourselves if we think to impose upon God, for
nothing can be concealed from His all-seeing eye. By comparing

Hebrews 11:11 with what is recorded in

Genesis 18, we learn that
after the Lord had reproved Sarah’s unbelief, and she began to realize that
the promise came from God, her faith was called into exercise. Because her
laughter came from weakness and not from scorn, God smote her not, as
He did Zacharias for his unbelief (

Luke 1:20).
Varied are the lessons which may be learned from the above incident.
Many times the Word does not take effect immediately. It did not in
Sarah’s case: though afterward she believed, at first she laughed. It was
only when the Divine promise was repeated that her faith began to act. Let
preachers and Christian parents, who are discouraged by lack of success,
lay this to heart. Again; see here that before faith is established often there
is a conflict: “shall I have a child who am old?” — reason opposed the
promise. Just as when a fire is kindled the smoke is seen before the flame,
so ere the heart rests upon the Word there is generally doubting and fear.
Once more; observe how graciously God hides the defects of His children:
nothing is said of Rahah’s lie (

Hebrews 11:31), of Job’s impatience
(

James 5:11), nor here of Sarah’s laughing,
“Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in
love” (

Ephesians 5:1, 2)!
Let us next consider what is here ascribed unto the faith of Sarah: “she
received strength to conceive seed.” She obtained that which previously
was not in her: there was now a restoration of her nature to perform its
normal functions. Her dead womb was supernaturally vivified. In response
to her faith, the Omnipotent One did for Sarah what He had done to
Abraham in response to his trusting of Him:
“I have made thee a father of many nations, before Him, whom he
believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead” (

Romans 4:17).
“All things are possible with God”; yes, and it is also true that “All
things are possible to him that believeth” (

Mark 9:23):.294
how blessedly and strikingly does the incident now before us illustrate this!
O that it may speak unto each of our hearts and cause us to long after and
pray for an increase of our faith. What is more glorifying to God than a
confident looking unto Him to work in and through us that which mere
nature cannot produce.
“By faith also Sarah herself received strength.” Christian reader, this is
recorded both for thine instruction and encouragement. Faith worked a
vigor in Sarah’s body where it was not before. Is it not written
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength”
(

Isaiah 40:31)?
Do we really believe this? Do we act as though we did? The writer can
bear witness to the veracity of that promise. When he was in Australia,
editing this Magazine, keeping up with a heavy correspondence, and
preaching five and six times each week, when it was over one hundred in
the shade, many a time has he dragged his weary body into the pulpit, and
then looked unto the Lord for a definite reinvigoration of body. Never did
He fail us. After speaking for two hours we generally felt fresher than we
did when we arose at the beginning of the day. And why not? Has not God
promised to “supply all our need”? Of how many is it true that “they have
not, because they (in faith) ask not” (

James 4:2).
Ah, dear reader,
“Bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all
things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to
come” (

1 Timothy 4:8):
“profitable” for the body, as well as for the soul. While we strongly
reprobate much that is now going on under the name of “Faith-Healing,”
yet we have as little patience with the pretended hyper-sanctity which
disdains any looking unto God for the supply of our bodily needs. In this
same chapter which we are now commenting upon, we read of others who
“out of weakness were made strong” (verse 34). Sad it is to see so many of
God’s dear children living far beneath their privileges. True, many are
under the chastening hand of God. But this should not be so: the cause
should be sought, the wrong righted, the sin confessed, restoration both
spiritual and temporal diligently sought..295
We do not wish to convey the impression that the only application unto us
of these words, “By faith also Sarah herself received strength,” has
reference to the reviving of the physical body: not so, though that is,
undoubtedly, the first lesson to be learned. But there is a higher
signification too. Many a Christian feels his spiritual weakness: that is well,
yet instead of this hindering, it should bestir to lay hold of the Lord’s
strength (

Isaiah 27:5). In the final analysis, it is nothing but lack of faith
which so often allows the “flesh” to hinder us from bringing forth the
Gospel-fruits of holiness. Despair not of personal frailty, but go forward in
the strength of God:
“Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might”
(

Ephesians 6:10):
turn this into believing prayer for Divine enablement.
“Though thy beginning was small, yet thy latter end should greatly
increase” (

Job 8:7).
Does the reader still say, “Ah, but such an experience is not for me; alas, I
am so unworthy, so helpless; I feel so lifeless and listless.” So was Sarah!
Yet, “by faith” she “received strength.” And, dear friend, faith is not
occupied with self, but with God. “Abraham considered not his own body”
(

Romans 4:19), nor did Sarah. Each of them looked away from self,
and counted upon God to work a miracle. And God did not fail them: He is
pledged to honor those who honor Him, and nothing honors Him more
than a trustful expectation. He always responds to faith. There is no reason
why you should remain weak and listless. True, without Christ you can do
nothing; but there is an infinite fullness in Him (

John 1:16) for you to
draw from. Then from this day onwards, let your attitude be
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”
(

Philippians 4:13).
Apply to Him, count upon Him: “my son, be strong in the grace that is in
Christ Jesus” (

2 Timothy 2:1).
“And was delivered of a child.” The “and” here connects what follows with
each of the preceding verbs. It was “by faith” that Sarah “received
strength,” and it was also “by faith” that she was now “delivered of a
child.” It is the constancy and perseverance of her faith which is here
intimated. There was no abortion, no miscarriage; she trusted God right.296
through unto the end. This brings before us a subject upon which very little
is written these days: the duty and privilege of Christian women counting
upon God for a safe issue in the most trying and critical season in their
lives. Faith is to be exercised not only in acts of worship, but in the
ordinary offices of our daily affairs. We are to eat and drink in faith, work
and sleep in faith; and the Christian wife should be delivered of her child by
faith. The danger is great, and if in any extremity there is need of faith,
much more so where life itself is involved. Let us seek to condense from
the helpful comments of the Puritan Manton.
First, we must be sensible what need we have to exercise faith in this case,
that we may not run upon danger blindfold; and if we escape, then to think
our deliverance a mere chance. Rachel died in this case; so also did the
wife of Phineas (

1 Samuel 4:19, 20): a great hazard is run, and
therefore you must be sensible of it. The more difficulty and danger be
apprehended, the better the opportunity for the exercise of faith:

2
Chronicles 20:12,

2 Corinthians 1:9.
Second, because the sorrows of travail are a monument of God’s
displeasure against sin (

Genesis 3:16), therefore this must put you the
more earnestly to seek an interest in Christ, that you may have remedy
against sin.
Third, meditate upon the promise of

1 Timothy 2:15, which is made
good eternally or temporally as God sees fit.
Fourth, the faith you exercise must be the glorifying of His power and
submitting to His will. This expresses the kind of faith which is proper to
all temporal mercies: Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst save me — it is
sufficient to ease the heart of a great deal of trouble and perplexing fear.
“And was delivered of a child.” As we have pointed out in the last
paragraph, this clause is added to show the continuance of Sarah’s faith
and the blessing of God upon her. True faith not only appropriates His
promise, but continues resting on the same till that which is believed be
actually accomplished. The principle of this is enunciated in

Hebrews
3:14 and

Hebrews 10:36.
“For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of
our confidence steadfast unto the end”;.297
“Cast not away therefore your confidence.” It is at this point so many fail.
They endeavor to lay hold of a Divine promise, but in the interval of testing
let go of it. This is why Christ said, “If ye have faith and doubt not, ye shall
not only do this” etc.

Matthew 21:21 — “doubt not,” not only at the
moment of pleading the promise, but during the time you are awaiting its
fulfillment. Hence also, unto
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart” is added “and lean not unto
thine own understanding” (

Proverbs 3:5).
“When she was past age.” This clause is added so as to heighten the
miracle which God so graciously wrought in response to Sarah’s faith. It
magnifies the glory of His power. It is recorded for our encouragement. It
shows us that no difficulty or hindrance should cause a disbelief of the
promise. God is not tied down to the order of nature, nor limited by any
secondary causes. He will turn nature upside down rather than not be as
good as His word. He has brought water out of a rock, made iron to float
(

2 Kings 6:6), sustained two million people in a howling wilderness.
These things should arouse the Christian to wait upon God with full
confidence in the face of the utmost emergency. Yea, the greater the
impediments which confront us, faith should be increased. The trustful
heart says, Here is a fit occasion for faith; now that all creature-streams
have run dry is a grand opportunity for counting on God to show Himself
strong on my behalf. What cannot He do! He made a woman of ninety to
bear a child — a thing quite contrary to nature — so I may surely expect
Him to work wonders for me too.
“Because she judged Him faithful who had promised.” Here is the secret of
the whole thing. Here was the ground of Sarah’s confidence, the
foundation on which faith rested. She did not look at God’s promises
through the mist of interposing obstacles, but she viewed the difficulties
and hindrances through the clear light of God’s promises. The act which is
here ascribed unto Sarah is, that she “judged” or reckoned, reputed and
esteemed, God to be faithful: she was assured that He would make good
His word, on which He had caused her to hope. God had spoken: Sarah
had heard; in spite of all that seemed to make it impossible that the promise
should be fulfilled in her case, she steadfastly believed. Rightly did Luther
say, “If you would trust God, you must learn to crucify the question How.”
“Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do” (

1 Thessalonians.298
5:24): this is sufficient for the heart to rest upon; faith will cheerfully leave
it with Omniscience as to how the promise will be made good to us.
“Because she judged Him faithful who had promised.” Let it be carefully
noted that Sarah’s faith went beyond the promise. While her mind dwelt
upon the thing promised, it seemed unto her altogether incredible, but
when she took her thoughts off all secondary causes and fixed them on
God Himself, then the difficulties no longer disturbed her: her heart was at
rest in God. She knew that God could be depended upon: He is “faithful”
— able, willing, sure to perform His word. Sarah looked beyond the
promise to the Promiser, and as she did so all doubting was stilled. She
rested with full confidence on the immutability of Him that cannot lie,
knowing that where Divine veracity is engaged, omnipotence will make it
good. It is by believing meditations upon the character of God that faith is
fed and strengthened to expect the blessing, despite all apparent difficulties
and supposed impossibilities. It is the heart’s contemplation of the
perfections of God which causes faith to prevail. As this is of such vital
practical importance, let us devote another paragraph to enlarging thereon.
To fix our minds on the things promised, to have an assured expectation of
the enjoyment of them, without the heart first resting upon the veracity,
immutability, and omnipotency of God, is but a deceiving imagination.
Rightly did John Owen point out that, “The formal object of faith in the
Divine promises, is not the things promised in the first place, but God
Himself in His essential excellencies, of truth, or faithfulness and power.”
Nevertheless, the Divine perfections do not, of themselves, work faith in
us: it is only as the heart believingly ponders the Divine attributes that we
shall “judge” or conclude Him faithful that has promised. It is the man
whose mind is stayed upon God Himself, who is kept in “perfect peace”
(

Isaiah 26:3): that is, he who joyfully contemplates who and what God
is that will be preserved from doubting and wavering while waiting the
fulfillment of the promise. As it was with Sarah, so it is with us: every
promise of God has tacitly annexed to it this consideration, “Is any thing
too hard for the Lord!”
“Wherefore also from one were born, and that too of (one) having
become dead, even as the stars of the heaven in multitude, and as
the sand which (is) by the shore of the sea the countless”
(verse 12)..299
We have quoted the rendering given in the Bagster Interlinear because it is
more literal and accurate than our A.V. The “him” in the English
translation is misleading, for in this verse there is no masculine pronoun: at
the most the “one” must refer to one couple, but personally we believe it
points to one woman, Sarah, as the “born” (rather than “begotten”)
intimates. We regard this 12th verse as setting forth the fruit of her faith,
namely the numerous posterity which issued from her son, Isaac. The
double reference to the “sand” and the “stars” calls attention to the twofold
seed: the earthly and the heavenly, the natural and the spiritual Israel.
Like the “great multitude which no man could number” of

Revelation
7:9, so “as the stars of the sky for multitude and as the sand which is by the
seashore innumerable” of our present verse, is obviously an hyperbole: it is
figurative language, and not to be understood literally. This may seem a
bold and unwarrantable statement to some of our readers, yet if scripture
be compared with scripture, no other conclusion is possible. The following
passages make this clear:

Deuteronomy 1:10,

Joshua 11:4,

Judges 7:12,

1 Samuel 13:5,

2 Samuel 17:11,

1 Kings 4:20.
For other examples of this figure of speech see

Deuteronomy 9:1,

Psalm 78:27,

Isaiah 60:22,

John 21:25. Hyperboles are employed
not to move us to believe untruths, but, by emphasis, arrest our attention
and cause us to heed weighty matters. The following rules are to be
observed in the employment of them.
First, they are to be used only of such things as are indeed true in the
substance of them.
Second, only of things which are worthy of more than ordinary
consideration.
Third, set out, as nearly as possible, in proverbial language.
Fourth, expressed in words of similarity and dissimilarity, rather than
by words of equality and inequality (W. Gouge).
But let our final thought be upon the rich recompense whereby God
rewarded the faith of Sarah. The opening “Therefore” of verse 12 points
the blessed consequence of her relying upon the faithfulness of God in the
face of the utmost natural discouragements. From her faith there issued
Isaac, and from him, ultimately, Christ Himself. And this is recorded for
our instruction. Who can estimate the fruits of faith? Who can tell how
many lives may be affected for good, even in generations yet to come,.300
through your faith and my faith today! Oh how the thought of this should
stir us up to cry more earnestly “Lord, increase our faith” to the praise of
the glory of Thy grace: Amen..301
CHAPTER 63
THE PERSEVERANCE OF FAITH
(

HEBREWS 11:13, 14)
Having described some of the eminent acts of faith put forth by the earliest
members of God’s family, the apostle now pauses to insert a general
commendation of the faith of those he had already named, and (as is dear
from verses 39, 40) of others yet to follow. This commendation is set forth
in verse 13 and is amplified in the next three verses. The evident design of
the Holy Spirit in this was to press upon the Hebrews, and upon us, the
imperative need of such a faith as would last, wear, overcome obstacles,
and endure unto the end. Even the natural man is capable of “making good
resolutions’’ and has flashes of endeavour to please God, but he is entirely
lacking in that principle which
“beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth
all things” (

1 Corinthians 13:7).
The faith of God’s elect is like unto its Divine Author in these respects: it is
living, incorruptible, and cannot be conquered by the Devil. Being
implanted by God, the gift and grace of faith can never be lost. Strikingly
was this illustrated in the history of the patriarchs. Called upon to leave the
land of their birth, to sojourn in a country filled with idolaters, owning no
portion of it, dwelling in tents, suffering many hardships and trials, and
living without any such peculiar temporal advantages as might answer to
the singular favor which the Lord declared He bore to them; nevertheless
they all died in faith. The eye of their hearts saw clearly the blessings God
had promised, and persuaded that they would be theirs in due season, they
joyfully anticipated their future portion and gave up present advantages for
the sake thereof.
In the verses which are to be before us the apostle, then, stresses the great
importance of seeking and possessing a persevering faith, therefore does he
make mention of the fact that as long as they remained in this world, the
O.T. saints were believers in the promises of God. It is the durability and.302
constancy of their faith which is commended. Despite all the workings of
unbelief within (records of which are found in Genesis in the cases of
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) and all the assaults of temptation from
without, they persisted in clinging to God and His Word. They lived by
faith, and they died in faith: therefore have they left us an example that we
should follow their steps. Beautifully did John Calvin point out:
“There is expressed here a difference between us and the fathers:
though God gave to the fathers only a taste of that grace which is
largely poured on us, though He showed to them at a distance only
an obscure representation of Christ, who is now set forth to us
clearly before our eyes, yet they were satisfied and never fell away
from their faith: how much greater reason then have we at this day
to persevere! If we grow faint, we are doubly inexcusable. It is then
an enhancing circumstance, that the fathers had a distant view of
the spiritual kingdom of Christ, while we at this day have so near
view of it, and that they hailed the promises afar off, while we have
them as it were quite near us, for if they nevertheless persevered
even unto death, what sloth will it be to become wearied in faith,
when the Lord sustains us by so many helps. Were any one to
object and say, that they could not have believed without receiving
the promises on which faith is necessarily founded: to this the
answer is, that the expression is to be understood comparatively;
for they were far from that high position to which God has raised
us. Hence it is that though they had the same salvation promised
them, yet they had not the promises so clearly revealed to them as
they are to us under the kingdom of Christ: but they were content
to behold them afar off.”
“These all died in faith” (verse 13), or, more literally, “In (or “according
to”) faith died these all.” Differing from most of the commentators, we
believe those words take in the persons mentioned previously, from Abel
onwards: “these all” grammatically include those who precede as well as
those which follow — the relative pronoun embracing all those set forth in
the catalogue, namely, young and old, male and female, great and small.
“The same Spirit works in all, and shows forth His power in all,

2 Corinthians 4:13” (W. Gouge).
Against this it may be objected that Enoch died not. True but the apostle is
referring only to those that died, just as

Genesis 46:7 must be.303
understood as excepting Joseph who was already in Egypt. Moreover,
though Enoch died not as the others, he was removed from earth to
heaven, and before his translation he continued living by faith unto the very
end, which is the main thing here intended.
“In (or “according to”) faith died all these.” The faith in which they died is
the same as that described in the first verse of our chapter, namely, a
justifying and sanctifying faith. That they “died in faith” does not
necessarily mean that their faith was actually in exercise during the hour of
death, but more strictly, that they never apostatised from the faith: though
they actually obtained or possessed not that which was the object of their
faith, nevertheless, unto the end of their earthly pilgrimage they confidently
looked forward unto the same. Five effects or workings of their faith are
here mentioned, each of which we must carefully ponder.
First, they “received not the promises.”
Second, but they saw them “afar off.”
Third, they were “persuaded of them.”
Fourth, they “embraced” them.
Fifth, in consequence thereof they “confessed that they were strangers
and pilgrims on the earth.”
As we shall see (D.V.) when taking up later verses, some of the O.T. saints
died in the actual exercise of faith. To die in faith is to have an assured
confidence in an estate of glory and bliss.
“And hereunto is required:
1. The firm belief of a substantial existence after this life; without this,
all faith and hope must perish in death.
2. A resignation and trust of their departing souls into the care and
power of God.
3. The belief in a future state of blessedness and rest, here called an
heavenly country, a city prepared for them by God.
4. Faith of the resurrection of their bodies after death, and that their
entire persons, which had undergone the pilgrimage of this life, might
be instated in eternal rest” (John Owen)..304
Thousands who are now in their graves were taught that it was wrong to
expect death and make suitable preparation for it. They were told that the
return of Christ was so near, He would certainly come during their lifetime.
Alas, the writer has, in measure, been guilty of the same thing. True, it is
both the Christian’s happy privilege and bounden duty to be
“looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the
great God and our Savior Jesus Christ” (

Titus 2:13),
for this is the grand prospect which God hath set before His people in all
ages; but He has nowhere told us when His Son shall descend; He may do
so today, He may not for hundreds of years. But to say that “looking for
that blessed hope” makes it wrong to anticipate death is manifestly absurd:
the O.T. saints had just as definite promises for the first advent of Christ as
the N.T. saints have for His second, and they thought frequently of death!
It is greatly to be feared that much of the popularity with which the
“premillennial and imminent coming of Christ” has been received, may be
attributed to a carnal dread of death: a strong appeal is made to the flesh
when people can be persuaded that they are likely to escape the grave.
That one generation of Christians will do so is clear from

1 Corinthians
15:51,

1 Thessalonians 4:17, but how many generations have already
supposed that theirs was the one which would be raptured to heaven, and
how many of them were quite unprepared when death overtook them, only
that Day will show. We are well aware that these lines are not likely to
meet with a favorable reception from some of our readers, but we are not
seeking to please them, but God. Any man who is ready to die is prepared
for the Lord’s return: as you may very likely die before the second advent,
it is only the part of wisdom to make sure you are prepared for death.
And who are they whose souls are prepared for the dissolution of the
body? Those who have disarmed death beforehand by plucking out its
sting, and this by seeking reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ.
The hornet is harmless when its sting is extracted; a snake need not be
dreaded if its fang and poison have been removed. So it is with death. “The
sting of death is sin” (

1 Corinthians 15:56), and if we have repented of
our sins, turned from them with full purpose of heart to serve God, and
have sought and obtained forgiveness and healing in the atoning and
cleansing blood of Christ, then death cannot harm us–it will but conduct us
into the presence of God and everlasting felicity. Who are ready to die?
Those who evidence and establish their title to Eternal Life by personal.305
holiness, which is the “first-fruits” of heavenly glory. It is by walking in the
light of God’s Word that we make it manifest that we are meet for the
Inheritance of the saints in Light.
“In (or “according to”) faith died all these.” To die in faith we must live by
faith. And for this there must be, first, diligent labor to obtain a knowledge
of Divine things. The understanding must be instructed before the path of
duty can be known. “Teach me Thy way,” “Order my steps in Thy Word,”
must be our daily prayer. Second, the hiding of God’s Word in our hearts.
Its precepts must be meditated upon, memorized, and made conscious of:
only then will our affections and lives be conformed to them. God’s Word
is designed to be not only a light to our understanding, but also a lamp
upon our path: our walk is to be guided by it. Third, the regular
contemplation of Christ by the soul: a worshipful and adoring
consideration of His fathomless love, His marvelous grace, His infinite
compassion, His present intercession. This will deliver from a legal spirit,
warm the heart, supply strength for duty, and make us want to please Him.
“In faith died all these, not having received the promises.” The word
“promises” is a metonymy, for the things promised. Literally they had
“received the promises,” for that which they had heard from God was the
basis of their faith: this is clear from verses 10, 14, 16. The things promised
concerned the spiritual blessings of the Gospel dispensation and the future
heavenly inheritance. The promises made to the fathers and “elders” had
respect unto Christ the blessed “Seed” and to Heaven of which Canaan was
the type. Observe that this first clause of verse 13 plainly intimates that the
same promises were given — though the outer shell of them varied — to
Abel, Enoch, and Noah, as were afterwards repeated to Abraham, Isaac
and Jacob. Each one died in the firm expectation of the promised Messiah,
and in believing views of the heavenly glory. So to die, was comfortable to
themselves, and confirming to others the reality of what they professed.
“Not having received the promises.” The Greek word for “received’’
signifies the actual participation in and possession of: faith, then, relies
upon and rests in that which is not yet ours. A large part of the life of faith
consists in laying hold of and enjoying the things promised, before the
actual possession of them is obtained. It is by meditating upon and
extracting their sweetness that the soul is fed and strengthened. The
present spiritual happiness of the Christian consists more in promises and
expectant anticipation than an actual possession, for “faith is the substance.306
of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” It is this which
enables us to say,
“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy
to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us”
(

Romans 8:18).
“But having seen them afar off.” This, because the eyes of their
understanding had been Divinely enlightened (

Ephesians 1:18), and thus
they were able to perceive in the promises the wisdom, goodness, and love
of God. True, the fulfillment of those promises would be in the remote
future, but the eye of faith is strong and endowed with long-distant vision.
Thus it was with Abraham: he “rejoiced to see My day,” said Christ, “and
he saw it and was glad” (

John 8:56). Thus it was with Moses, who “had
respect unto the recompense of the reward” and “endured as seeing Him
who is invisible” (

Hebrews 11:26, 27). Solemn indeed is the contrast
presented in

2 Peter 1:9, where we read of those who failed to add to
their faith virtue, knowledge, self-control, patience, godliness, brotherly-kindness,
love, and in consequence of an undeveloped Christian character
“cannot see afar off.”
“And were persuaded of them.” This announces the soul’s satisfactory
acquiescence in the veracity of God as to the making good of His Word. It
was the setting to of their seal that He is true (

John 3:33), which is done
when the heart truly receives His testimony. The word “persuaded” means
an assured confidence, which is what faith works in the mind. A blessed
example of this is seen in the case of Abraham, who, though about an
hundred years old and his wife’s womb dead, yet when God declared they
should have a son, he was
“fully persuaded that what He has promised, He was able also to
perform” (

Romans 4:21).
Ah, my reader, is it not because we are so dilatory in meditating upon the
“exceeding great and precious promises” of God, that our hearts are so
little persuaded of the verity and value of them!
“And embrace them,” not with a cold and formal reception of them, but
with a warm and hearty welcome: such is the nature of true faith when it
lays hold of the promises of salvation. This is ever the effect of assurance: a
thankful and joyful appropriation of the things of God. Faith not only
discerns the value of spiritual things, is fully persuaded of their reality, but.307
also loves them. Faith adheres as well as assents: in Scripture faith is
expressed by taste as well as sight. Faith “sees” with the understanding, is
“persuaded” in the heart, and “embraces” by the will. Thus the order of the
verbs in this verse teaches us an important practical lesson. The promises
of God are first viewed or contemplated, then rested upon as reliable, and
then delighted in. If then we would have livelier affections we must
meditate more upon the promises of God: it is the mind which affects the
heart.
Ere passing on, let us enquire, Are God’s promises really precious unto us?
Perhaps we are ready to answer at once, Yes: but let us test ourselves. Do
our hearts cling to them with love and delight? Can we truly say,
“I have rejoiced in the way of Thy testimonies, as much as in all
riches” (

Psalm 119:14)?
What influence do God’s promises have upon us in seasons of trial and
grief? Do they supply us with more comfort than the dearest things of this
world? In the midst of distress and sorrow, do we realize that
“our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far
more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (

2 Corinthians
4:17)?
What effect do God’s promises have upon our praying? Do we plead them
before the Throne of Grace? Do we say with David
“Remember the word unto Thy servant, upon which Thou hast
caused me to hope” (

Psalm 119:49)?
“And confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” They
who really embrace the promises of God are suitably affected and
influenced by them: their delight in heavenly things is manifested by a
weanedness from earthly things — as the woman at the well forgot her
bucket when Christ was revealed to her soul (

John 4:28). When a man
truly becomes a Christian he at once begins to view time, and all the
objects of time, in a very different light from what he did before. So it was
with the patriarchs: their faith had a powerful and transforming effect upon
their lives. They made profession of their faith and hope: they made it
manifest that their chief interest was neither in nor of the world. They had
such a satisfying portion in the promises of God that they publicly.308
renounced such a concern in the world as other men take whose portion is
only in this life.
The patriarchs made no secret of the fact that their citizenship and
inheritance was elsewhere. Unto the sons of Heth, Abraham confessed “I
am a stranger and a sojourner with you” (

Genesis 23:4). Unto Pharaoh
Jacob said,
“The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty”
(

Genesis 47:9).
Nor is this to be explained on the ground that other nations were then in
occupation of Canaan: long after Israel entered into possession of that land
David cried,
“Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear unto my cry; hold not Thy
peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with Thee, and a sojourner as
all my fathers were” (

Psalm 39:12);
and again,
“I am a stranger in the earth: hide not Thy commandments from
me” (

Psalm 119:19).
So too before all the congregation he owned unto God,
“For we are strangers before Thee, and sojourners, as were all our
fathers” (

1 Chronicles 29:15).
Clear proof do these verses furnish that the O.T. saints equally with the
New, apprehended their heavenly calling and glory.
“And confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” The
two terms, though very similar in thought, are not identical. The one refers
more to the position, the place taken; the other to condition, how one
conducts himself in that place. They were “strangers” because their home
was in heaven; “pilgrims,” because journeying thither. As another has said,
“It is possible to be a ‘pilgrim’ without being a ‘stranger.’ But once
we realize our true strangership we are perforce compelled to be
‘pilgrims.’ We may be ‘pilgrims’, and yet, in our pilgrimage, may
visit all the cities and churches in the world, and include them all in
our embrace; but if we are true ‘sojourners’ we shall be ‘strangers’
to them all, and shall be compelled, as Abraham was, to erect our.309
own solitary altar to Jehovah in the midst of them all. How could
Abraham be a worshipper with the Canaanites? Impossible! This is
why the ‘altar’ is so closely connected with the ‘tent’ in

Genesis
12:8 and in Abraham’s sojourney” (E.W.B.).
That which was spiritually typified by the outward life of the patriarchs as
“strangers and pilgrims” was the Christian’s renunciation of the world. As
those whose citizenship is in heaven, (

Philippians 3:20), we are bidden
to be “not conformed to this world” (

Romans 12:2). The patriarchs
demonstrated that they were “strangers” by taking no part in the apostate
religion, politics, or social life of the Canaanites; and evidenced that they
were “pilgrims” by dwelling in tents, moving about from place to place.
How far are we making manifest our crucifixion to the world (

Galatians
6:14)? Does our daily walk show we are “partakers of the heavenly
calling”? Have we ceased looking on this world as our home, and its
people as our people? Are we seeking to lay up treasure in heaven, or do
we still hanker after the fleshpots of Egypt? When we pray “Lord, conform
me to Thine image,” do we mean “strip me of all which hinders”!
The figure of the “stranger” applied to the child of God here on earth, is
very pertinent and full. The analogies between one who is in a foreign
country and the Christian in this world, are marked and numerous. In a
strange land one is not appreciated for his birth, but is avoided:

John
15:19. The habits, ways, language are strange to him:

1 Peter 4:4. He
has to be content with a stranger’s fare:

1 Timothy 6:8. He needs to be
careful not to give offense to the government:

Colossians 4:5. He has to
continually enquire his way:

Psalm 5:8. Unless he conforms to the ways
of that foreign country, he is easily identified:

Matthew 26:73. He is
often assailed with homesickness, for his heart is not where his body is:

Philippians 1:23.
The figure of the “pilgrim” as it applies to the Christian is equally
suggestive. Moving on from place to place, he never feels at home. He
finds himself very much alone, for he meets with few who are traveling his
way. Those he does encounter afford him very little encouragement, for
they think him queer. He is very grateful for any kindness shown him:
sensible of his dependence on Providence, he is thankful whenever God
grants him favor in the eyes of the wicked. He carries nothing with him but
what he deems useful for his journey: all superfluities are regarded as
encumbrances. He tarries not to gaze upon the various vanities around him..310
He never thinks of turning back because of the difficulties of the way: he
has a definite goal in view, and toward it he steadily presses.
We ought to evidence that we are “strangers and pilgrims” by using the
things of this world (when necessity requires), but not abusing them (

1
Corinthians 7:31). By being contented with that portion of this world’s
goods which God has assigned us (

Philippians 4:11). By conscientiously
seeking to discharge our own responsibility, and not being “a busybody in
other men’s matters” (

1 Peter 4:15). By being moderate and temperate
in all things, and thus “abstaining from fleshly lusts which war against the
soul” (1 Pet. 2:11). By laying aside every hindering weight and mortifying
our members which are upon the earth, so that we may run with patience
the race that is set before us (

Hebrews 12:1). By daily keeping in mind
the brevity and uncertainty of this life (

Proverbs 27:1). By constantly
keeping before the heart our future inheritance, knowing that we shall only
be satisfied when we awake in our Lord’s likeness.
“If they in spirit amid dark clouds, took a flight into the celestial
country, what ought we to do at this day? for Christ stretches forth
His hand to us as it were openly, from Heaven, to raise us up to
Himself. If the land of Canaan did not engross their attention, how
more weaned from things below ought we to be, who have no
promised habitation in this world?” (John Calvin).
When Basil (a devoted servant of Christ, at the beginning of the “Dark
Ages”) was threatened with exile by Modestus, he said,
“I know no banishment, who have no abiding-place here in the
world. I do not count this place mine, nor can I say the other is not
mine; rather all is God’s whose stranger and pilgrim I am.”
“For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country”
(verse 14). In these words a logical inference is drawn from the last clause
of the preceding verse, which supplies a valuable hint on how the
Scriptures are to be expounded. The apostle here makes known unto us
what was signified by the confession of the patriarchs. Just as the negative
implies the positive — “thou shalt not covet” meaning also, “thou shalt be
content with what God has given” — so for saints to conduct themselves
as strangers and pilgrims, and that unto the end of their sojourning in this
world, makes manifest the fact that they are journeying heavenwards..311
“This is the genuine and proper way of interpreting Scripture: when
from the words themselves, considered with relation to the persons
speaking them, and to all their circumstances we declare what was
their determinate mind and sense” (John Owen).
“For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.”
Their confession of strangership implied more than that they had not yet
entered their promised Inheritance: it likewise showed they were earnestly
pressing toward it. They had every reason so to do: it was their own
“Country,” for it was there God had blest them with all spiritual blessings
before the foundation of the world (

Ephesians 1:3, 4), it was from there
they had been born again (

John 3:3, margin), it was there that their
Father, Savior and fellow-saints dwell. To “seek” the promised Inheritance
denotes that earnest quest of the believer after that which he supremely
desires. It is this which distinguishes him from the empty professor: the
latter desires that which is good for himself, as Balaam said, “Let me die
the death of the righteous” (

Numbers 23:10); but only the regenerate
can truly say,
“One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I
may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life”
(

Psalm 27:4).
To “seek” after Heaven must be the chief aim and supreme task which the
Christian sets before him: laying aside all that would hinder, and using
every means which God has appointed. The world must be held loosely,
the affections be set upon things above, and the heart constantly exercised
about treading the Narrow Way, which alone leads thither. “Seek a
Country”:
“Their designs are for it, their desires are after it, their discourses
about it; they diligently endeavour to clear up their title to it, to
have their temper suited to it, and have their conversation in it, and
come to the enjoyment of it” (Matt. Henry).
Heaven is here called a “Country” because of its largeness; it is a pleasant
Country, the Land of uprightness, rest and joy. May Divine grace conduct
both writer and reader into it..312
CHAPTER 64
THE REWARD OF FAITH
(

HEBREWS 11:15, 16)
Once more we would remind ourselves of the particular circumstances
those saints were in to whom our Epistle was first addressed. Only as we
do so are we in the best position to discern the meaning of its contents, and
best fitted to make a right application of the same unto ourselves. It is not
that the Hebrews were Jews according to the flesh and we Gentiles, for
they, equally with us, were “holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly
calling” (

Hebrews 3:1). No, it is the peculiar position which they
occupied, with the pressing temptations that solicited them, which we need
to carefully ponder. Divine grace had called them out of Judaism (

John
10:3) but Divine judgment had not yet fallen upon Judaism. The temple
was still intact, and its services continued, and as long as they did so, an
appeal was made to the Hebrews to return thereunto.
Now that historical situation adumbrated a moral one. The Christian has
been called out from the world to follow Christ, but the judgment of God
has not yet fallen upon the world and burned it up. No, it still stands, and
we are yet in it, and as long as this is the case, Satan seeks to get us to
return thereunto. It is this which enables us to see the force of those verses
which are now engaging our attention. Keeping in mind what has just been
said, the reader should have no difficulty in discerning why the apostle
reminds us, first, that the patriarchs lived on earth as strangers and
pilgrims; and secondly, that they went not back again to the land of their
birth. As we saw in our last article, that which was typified by the
patriarchs living in separation from the Canaanites and their “dwelling in
tents,” was the Christian’s renunciation of this world; that which was
foreshadowed by their refusal to return unto Chaldea was the Christian’s
continued renunciation of the world, and his actual winning through to
Heaven.
In the verses which are now to be before us clear light is thrown upon an
essential element in the Christian life. They present to us an aspect of Truth.313
which, in some circles, is largely ignored or denied today. There are those
who have pressed the blessed truth of the eternal Security of the Saints
with a zeal that was not always according to knowledge: they have
presented it in a way that suggests God preserves His people altogether
apart from their use of means. They have stated it in a manner as to
virtually deny the Christian’s responsibility. They have implied that, having
committed my soul unto the keeping of the Lord, I have no more to do
with its safety, than I have with money which I have entrusted to the
custody of a bank or the government. The result has been that, many who
have accepted this false presentation of the truth have felt quite at ease in a
course of careless and reckless living.
So one-sided is the teaching we refer to, that its advocates will not allow
for a moment that there is the slightest danger of a real Christian
apostatizing. If a servant of God insists that there is, and yet he also affirms
that no real saint of God has perished or ever will, they consider him
inconsistent and illogical. They seem unable to recognize the fact that while
it be perfectly true from the side of God’s eternal counsels, the value of
Christ’s redemption, the efficacy of the Spirit’s work, that none of the elect
can be finally lost; yet it is equally true from the side of the Christian’s
frailty, the existence of the flesh still within, his being subject unto the
assaults of Satan, and his living in a wicked world, that real (not theoretical
or imaginary) danger menaces him from every side. No, they fondly
imagine that there is only one side to the subject, the Divine side.
But the verses we are now to ponder show the fallacy of this. So far from
affirming that there was no possibility of the patriarchs going back again to
that country which they had left — which; in type, would mean a returning
to the world — the apostle boldly affirms (caring not who might charge
him with being inconsistent with himself) that if their hearts had been set
upon Chaldea, they “might have had opportunity to have returned.” Had
they grown weary of dwelling in tents and moving about from place to
place in a strange land, and purposed to retrace their steps to
Mesopotamia, what was there to hinder them so doing? True, that would
have been an act of unbelief and disobedience, a despising and relinquishing
of the promises; yet, from the human side, the way for them so to act was
always open. Let us now weigh the details of our passage.
“And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they
came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned” (verse 15)..314
There is a threefold connection between these words and that which
immediately precedes. First, at the beginning of verse 13 the apostle had
affirmed that all those to whom he was referring (and to whom he was
directing the special attention of the Hebrews) had “in faith died”; in all
that follows to the end of verse 16 he furnishes proof of his assertion.
Second, in verse 15 the apostle continues the inference he had drawn in
verse 14 from the last clause of verse 13: the confession made by the
patriarchs manifested that their hearts were set upon Heaven, which was
further evidenced by their refusal to return to Chaldea. Third, he
anticipates and removes an objection: seeing that God had commanded
them to take up their residence in another land (Canaan), they were
“strangers” there by necessity. No, says the apostle; they were “strangers
and pilgrims” by their own consent too: their hearts as well as their bodies
were separated from Chaldea.
The patriarch’s remaining in a strange land was quite a voluntary thing on
their part. And this brings us unto the very heart of what is a real difficulty
for many: they do not see that when God “draws” a person (

John 6:44),
He does no violence to his will, that though exercising His sovereignty man
also retains his freedom. Both are true, and hold good of the Christian life
at every stage of it. Conversion itself is wholly brought about by the mighty
operations of Divine grace, nevertheless it is also a free act on the part of
the creature. Those who are effectually called by God out of darkness into
His marvelous light, do, at conversion, surrender their whole being to Him,
renouncing the flesh, the world, and the Devil, and vow to wage (by His
grace) a ceaseless warfare against them. The Christian life is the habitual
continuance of what took place at conversion, the carrying out of the vows
then made, the putting of it into practice.
Immediately before conversion a fierce conflict takes place in the soul. On
the one side is the Devil, seeking to retain his captive by presenting to it the
pleasures of sin and the allurements of the world, telling the soul that there
will be no more happiness if these be relinquished and the rigid
requirements of Christ’s commandments be heeded. On the other side is
the Holy Spirit, declaring that the wages of sin is death, that the world is
doomed to destruction, and that unless we renounce sin and forsake the
world, we must eternally perish. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit presses upon
us that nothing short of a whole-hearted surrender to the Lordship of
Christ can bring us into “the way of salvation.” Torn between these
conflicting impressions upon his mind, the soul is bidden to sit down and.315
“count the cost” (

Luke 14:28); to deliberately weigh the offers of Satan
and the terms of Christian discipleship, and to definitely make his choice
between them.
It is not that man has the power within himself to refuse the evil and
choose the good; it is not that God has left it for the creature to determine
his own destiny; it is not that the temptations of Satan are equally powerful
with the convictions of the Holy Spirit, and that our decision turns the
scale between them. No indeed: not so do the Scriptures teach, and not so
does this writer believe. Sin has robbed fallen man of all Power to do good,
yet not his obligation to perform it. The destiny of all creatures has been
unalterably fixed by the eternal decrees of God, yet not in such a way as to
reduce them to irresponsible automatons. The operations of the Holy Spirit
in God’s elect are invincible, yet they do no violence to the human will. But
while salvation, from beginning to end, is to be wholly ascribed to the free
and sovereign grace of God, it nevertheless remains that conversion itself is
the voluntary act of man, his own conscious and free surrendering of
himself to God in Christ.
Now the same diverse factors enter into the Christian life itself. Necessarily
so, for, as said above, the Christian life is but a progressive continuance of
how we begin. Repentance is not once and for all, but as often as we are
conscious of having displeased God. Believing in Christ is not a single act
which needs no repeating, but a constant requirement, as the “believeth” of

John 3:16, and the “coming” of

1 Peter 2:4 plainly shows. So too
our renunciation of the world is to be a daily process. The same objects
which enthralled us before conversion are still to hand, and unless we are
much upon our guard, unless our hearts are warmed and charmed by the
loveliness of Christ, through maintaining a close fellowship with Him, they
will soon gain power over us. Satan is ever ready to tempt, and unless we
diligently seek grace to resist him, will trip us up.
“And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they
came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned,” but as the
next verse shows, they did not do so. In this they were in striking and
blessed contrast from Esau, who sold his birthright, valuing temporal
things more highly than spiritual. In contrast from the Children of Israel
who said one to another, “Let us make a captain, and let us return to
Egypt” (

Numbers 14:4). In contrast from the Gadarenes, who preferred
their hogs to Christ and His salvation (

Mark 5). In contrast from the.316
stony-ground hearers who “have no root, which for a while believed, and
in time of temptation fall away” (

Luke 8:13). In contrast from the
apostates of

2 Peter 2:20-22, the latter end of whom is “worse with
them than the beginning.” Solemn warnings are these which each
professing Christian needs to take to heart.
Note how positively the apostle expressed it: “And truly” or “verily.” “If
they had been mindful,” which means, had their minds frequently dwelt
upon Chaldea, had their hearts desired it. How this shows the great
importance of “girding up the loins of our minds” (

1 Peter 1:13), of
disciplining our thoughts, for as a man “thinketh in his heart, so is he”
(

Proverbs 23:7).
“It is in the nature of faith to mortify, not only corrupt and sinful
lusts, but our natural affections, and their most vehement
inclinations, though in themselves innocent, if they are any way
uncompliant with duties of obedience to the commands of God —
yea herein lies the principal trial of the sincerity and power of faith.
Our lives, parents, wives, children, houses, possessions, our
country, are the principal, proper, lawful objects of our natural
affections. But when they, or any of them, stand in the way of
God’s commands, if they are hindrances to the doing or suffering
any thing according to His will, faith doth not only mortify, weaken
and take off that love, but gives us a comparative hatred of them”
(John Owen).
“They might have had opportunity to have returned.” They knew the way,
were well furnished with funds, had plenty of time at their disposal, and
health and strength for the journey. The Canaanites would not have grieved
at their departure (

Genesis 26:18-21), and undoubtedly their old friends
would have heartily welcomed them back again. In like manner (as we have
said before), the way back was wide open for the Hebrews to return unto
Judaism: it was their special snare, and a constant and habitual renunciation
of it was required of them. So too if we choose to return unto the world
and engage again in all its vain pursuits, there are “opportunities” enough:
enticements abound on every hand, and worldly friends would heartily
welcome us to their society if we would but lower our colors, drop our
godliness, and follow their course.
But the patriarchs did not go back again to that country from whence they
came out: instead, they persevered in the path of duty, and despite all.317
discouragements followed that course which the Divine commandments
marked out for them. In this they have left us an example. They hankered
not after the wealth, honors, pleasures, or society of Chaldea: their hearts
were engaged with something vastly superior. They knew that in Heaven
they had “a better and enduring substance,” and therefore they disdained
the baubles which once had satisfied them. Divine grace had taught them
that those sources of joy which they had once so eagerly sought, were
“cisterns that can hold no water” (

Jeremiah 2:13); but that in Christ
they had an ever-flowing well, that springeth up unto everlasting life. Grace
had taught them that it is sinful to make material things the chief objects of
this life: they sought first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
So little did Abraham esteem Chaldea that he would not go thither in
person to obtain a wife for his son, nor suffer Isaac to go, but sent his
servant and made him swear that he would not bring her thither, if she
were unwilling to come — another illustration that nothing is more
voluntary than godliness. So it is with the Christian when he is first
converted: the world has lost all its attractions for him, nor can it regain its
hold upon his heart so long as he walks with God. The acutest test comes
in seasons of prosperity.
“David professeth himself to be a stranger and a pilgrim, not only
when he was hunted like a partridge upon the mountains, but when
he was in his palace, and in his best estate. We are not to renounce
our comforts, and throw away God’s blessings; but we are to
renounce our carnal affections. We cannot get out of the world
when we please, but we must get the world out of us. It is a great
trial of grace to refuse the opportunity; it is the most difficult lesson
to learn how to abound, more difficult than to learn how to want,
and to be abased; to have comforts, and yet to have the heart
weaned from comforts; not to be necessarily mortified, but to be
voluntarily mortified” (T. Manton).
It is not the absence of temptation, but the resisting of and prevailing over
them which evidences the efficacy of indwelling grace. The power of
voluntary godliness is manifested in the conflict, when we have the
“opportunity” to go wrong, but decline it. Joseph had not only a
temptation, but the “occasion” for yielding to it, yet grace forbade
(

Genesis 39:9). It was the command of God which held back the.318
patriarchs from returning to Chaldea, and the same controls the hearts of
all the regenerate.
“It is easy to be good when we cannot be otherwise, or when all
temptations to the contrary are out of the way. All the seeming
goodness there is in so many, they owe it to the want of a
temptation and to the want of an opportunity of doing otherwise”
(T. Manton).
Not so with the real Christians.
“But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly;
wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He hath
prepared for them a city” (verse 16).
The first half of this verse gives the positive side of what has been before
us, and amplified what was said in verse 14. It is not enough to renounce
the world, but we must also have our hearts carried forth unto better
things: we must believe in and seek Heaven itself. There are some disdain
worldly profits, but instead of seeking the true riches, are immersed in
worldly pleasures. Others while despising fleshly recreations and
dissipations, devote themselves to more serious occupations, yet “labor for
that which satisfieth not” (

Isaiah 55:2). But the Christian, while passing
through it, makes a sanctified use of the world, and has his affections set
upon things above.
“But now they desire a better country, that is an heavenly.” It helps us to
link together the four statements made concerning this.
First, Abraham “looked for a city” (verse 10), which denotes faith’s
expectations of blessedness to come: it was not a mere passing glance of
the mind, but a serious and constant anticipation of Celestial Bliss.
Second, “They seek a Country” (verse 14): they make it the great aim and
business of their lives to avoid every hindrance, overcome every obstacle,
and steadfastly press forward along the Narrow Way that leads thither:
“Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the
time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life” (

1 Timothy
6:19)..319
Third, “they desire a better Country’’ (verse 16): they long to be relieved
from the body of this death, removed from this scene of sin, and be taken
to be forever with the Lord:
“We ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, the
redemption of our body” (

Romans 8:23):
he that has had a taste of Heaven in the joy of the spirit, his heart cries
“when shall I come to the full enjoyment of my Inheritance!”
Fourth, “they declare plainly that they seek a country” (verse 14): their
daily walk makes it manifest that they belong not to this world, but are
citizens of Heaven.
One of the best evidences that we are truly seeking Heaven, is the
possession of hearts that are weaned from this world. None will ever enter
the Father’s House on high in whose soul the first fruits of heavenly peace
and joy does not grow now. He who finds his satisfaction in temporal
things is woefully deceived if he imagines he can enjoy eternal things. He
whose joy is all gone when earthly possessions are snatched from him,
knows nothing of that peace which “passeth all understanding.” And yet, if
the auto, radio, newspaper, money to go to the movies, were taken away
from the average “church-member,” what would he then have left to make
life worth living? O how few can really say,
“Although the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the
vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no
meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no
herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God
of my salvation” (

Habakkuk 3:17, 18).
“Wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God.”
“The word ‘wherefore’ denotes not the procuring or meritorious
cause of the thing itself, but the consequent or what ensued
thereon” (John Owen).
God will be no man’s Debtor: “them that honor Me, I will honor” (

1
Samuel 2:30 and cf.

2 Timothy 2:21) is His sure promise. By confessing
they were strangers and pilgrims, the patriarchs had avowed their supreme
desire for and hope of a portion superior to any that could be found on
earth. Hence, because they were willing to renounce all worldly prospects.320
so as to follow God in an obedient faith, for the sake of an invisible but
eternal inheritance, He did not disdain to be known as their Friend and
Portion.
“We are hence to conclude that there is no place for us among
God’s children except we renounce the world, and that there will
be for us no inheritance in Heaven except we become pilgrims on
earth” (John Calvin).
“God is not ashamed to be called their God.” Here was the grand reward
of their faith. So well did God approve of their desire and design, He was
pleased to give evidence of His special regard unto them. “Not ashamed”
literally signifies that He had no cause to “blush” because He had been
disgraced by them — it is God speaking after the manner of men; it is the
negative way of saying that He made a joyous acknowledgement of them,
as a father does of dutiful children. When we think not only of the personal
unworthiness of the patriarchs (fallen, sinful creatures), but also of their
contemptible situation — “dwelling in tents” in a strange land — we may
well marvel at the infinite condescension of the Maker of the universe
identifying Himself with them. What incredible grace for the Divine
Majesty to avow Himself the God of worms of the earth!
Ah, those who renounce the world for God’s sake shall not be the losers.
But observe it was not simply, “God is not ashamed to be their God,” but
“to be called their God.” He took this very title in a peculiar manner: unto
Moses he said,
“I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac,
and the God of Jacob” (

Exodus 3:6).
Thus, to be “called their God” means that He was their covenant God and
Father. Not only is He the God of His children by creation and providence,
but He is also unto them “the God of all grace” (

1 Peter 5:10), as He is
the God of Christ and all the elect in Him. This He manifests by
quickening, enlightening, guiding, protecting and making all things work
together for their good. He continues to be such a God unto them through
life and in death, so that they may depend upon His love, be assured of His
faithfulness, count upon His power, and be safely carried through every
trial, till they are landed on the shores of Eternal Bliss.
“God is not ashamed to be called their God.” The wider reference is to all
the elect, who have a special interest in Him. These are known, first, by the.321
manner of their coming into this relation. God brings His people into this
special relation by effectually calling them and then when He has taken
possession of their hearts, they choose Him for their all-sufficient portion,
and completely give up themselves to Him. Their language is,
“whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth
that I desire beside Thee” (

Psalm 73:25).
Their surrender to Him is evidenced by, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to
do”? (

Acts 9:6). Second, by their manner of living in this relation. They
glorify God by their subjection to Him, love for Him, trust in Him. Unto
those who have renounced all idols, God is not ashamed to be known as
their God.
Now if God be our “God” how contented we should be!
“The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: Thou
maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places;
yea, I have a goodly heritage” (

Psalm 16:5, 6):
this should ever be our language. How confident we should be! “The Lord
is my Shepherd: I shall not want” (

Psalm 23:1): this should ever be our
boast. How joyful we should be!
“Because Thy loving kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise
Thee” (

Psalm 63:3):
this should ever be our confession.
“Thou wilt show me the path of life: in Thy presence is fullness of
joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore”
(

Psalm 16:11):
when brought Home to glory we shall better understand what this connotes
— “their God.”
How may I know that God is my “God”? Did you ever enter into covenant
with Him?
“Was your spirit ever subdued to yield to Him? Do you remember
when you were bond-slaves of Satan, that God broke in upon you
with a mighty and powerful work of grace, subduing your heart,
and causing you to yield, to give the hand to Him, to come and lie
at his feet, and lay down the weapons of defiance? Didst thou ever.322
come as a guilty creature, willing to take laws from God? Though it
be God’s condescension to capitulate with us, yet we do not
capitulate with Him as equals, but as a subdued creature, who is
taken captive and ready to be destroyed every moment, and is
therefore willing to yield and cry quarter. How do you behave
yourselves in the covenant? Do you love God as the chiefest good?
Do you seek His glory as the utmost end? Do you obey Him as the
highest Lord ? Do you depend on Him as your only Paymaster?
This is to give God the glory of a God” (T. Manton).
“For He hath prepared for them a City.” Here is the crowning evidence
that He is their “God.” The “City” is Heaven itself. It is spoken of as
“prepared” because God did, in His eternal counsels, appoint it: see

Matthew 20:23,

1 Corinthians 2:9. But sin entered? True, and Christ
has put away the sins of His people, and has entered Heaven as their
Representative and Forerunner: therefore has He gone there to “prepare” a
place for us, having laid the foundation for this in His own merits; and
hence we read of “the purchased possession” (

Ephesians 1:14). He is
now in Heaven possessing it in our name. O what cause have we to bow in
wonderment and worship..323
CHAPTER 65
THE FAITH OF ABRAHAM
(

HEBREWS 11:17-19)
This chapter is the chronology of faith, or a record of some of the
outstanding acts which that grace has produced in all ages. The apostle
having mentioned the works wrought by the faith of those who lived before
the Flood (verses 4-7), and having spoken of the patriarchs in general
(verses 8-16), now mentions them in detail. He begins again with that of
Abraham, who in this glorious constellation shines forth as a star of the
first magnitude, and therefore is fittingly styled the father of the faithful.
Three principal products of his faith are here singled out: his leaving the
land of his birth, upon the call of God (verse 8); the manner of his life in
Canaan, sojourning in tents (v. 9); and his offering up of Isaac. The first
pictures conversion, the second the Christian’s life in this world, the third
the triumphant consummation of faith.
Among all the actings of Abraham’s faith nothing was more remarkable
and noteworthy than the offering up of his son Isaac. Not only was it the
most wonderful work of faith ever wrought, and therefore is the most
illustrious of all examples for us to follow (the life and death of Christ
alone excepted), but it also supplies the most blessed shadowing out of the
love of God the Father in the gift of His dear Son. The resemblances
pointed by the type are numerous and striking. Abraham offered up a son,
his only begotten son. Abraham delivered up his son to a sacrificial death,
and, in purpose, smote him. But observe too how the antitype excelled the
type. Abraham’s son was only a man. Abraham offered up Isaac under
Divine command: God was under no constraint, but gave Christ freely.
Abraham’s son suffered not; Christ did.
Let it not be forgotten that the chief design before the apostle throughout
this chapter, was to demonstrate unto his tried brethren the great efficacy
of faith: its power to sustain a very great trial, to perform a very difficult
duty, and to obtain a very important blessing. Unmistakably were these
three things illustrated in the case we are now to consider. As we have.324
already seen, it was not without good reason that Abraham is designated
the father of all who believe. But among all the actings of his faith none
was more memorable than its exercise upon Mount Moriah. If we consider
the object of it, the occasion of it, the hindrances which stood in his way,
and his blessed victory, we cannot but admire and wonder at the power of
Divine grace triumphing over the weakness of the flesh.
“By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he
that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son”
(verse 17).
For a clearer understanding of this verse we need to consult

Genesis 22:
there we read, “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt
Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.
And He said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest,
and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt
offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of” (verses 1, 2).
The whole of what follows in

Genesis 22, to the end of verse 19, should
be carefully read. Before attempting to expound our present verse and
make application to ourselves of its practical teachings, let us seek to
remove one or two difficulties which may stand in the way of the
thoughtful reader.
First, “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac.” The word
“offered up” is the same that is used for slaying and offering up sacrifices.
Here then is the problem: how could Abraham “offer up” his son by faith,
seeing that it was against both the law of nature and the law of God for a
man to slay his own son?

Genesis 22:2, however, shows that his faith
had a sure foundation to rest upon, for the Lord Himself had commanded
him so to do. But this only appears to remove the difficulty one stage
farther back: God Himself had laid it down as a law that
“whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed”
(

Genesis 9:6).
True, but though His creatures are bound by the laws He has prescribed
them, God Himself is not.
God is under no law, but is absolute Sovereign. Moreover, He is the Lord
of life, both Giver and Preserver of it, and therefore has He an indisputable
right to dispose of it, to take it away when He pleases, by what means or
instruments He sees fit. God possesses supreme authority, and when He.325
pleases sets aside His own laws, or issues new ones contrary to those given
previously. By His own imperial fiat, Jehovah now, by special and
extraordinary command, constituted it a duty for Abraham to do what
before had been a sin. In similar manner, He who gave commandment
“thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image or any likeness”
(

Exodus 20:4),
ordered Moses to make a brazen serpent (

Numbers 21:8)! Learn, then,
that God is bound by no law, being above all law.
Second, but how could it be truly said that Abraham “offered up Isaac,”
seeing that he did not actually slay him? In regard to his willingness, in
regard to his set purpose, and in regard to God’s acceptance of the will for
the deed, he did do so. There was no reserve in his heart, and there was no
failure in his honest endeavors. He took the three days’ journey to the
appointed place of sacrifice; he bound Isaac unto the altar, and took the
knife into his hand to slay him. And God accepted the will for the deed.
This exemplifies a most important principle in connection with God’s
acceptance of the Christian’s obedience. The terms of His law have not
been lowered: God still requires of us personal, perpetual, and perfect
obedience. But this we are unable to render to Him while in our present
state. And so, for Christ’s sake, where the heart (at which God ever looks)
truly desires to fully please Him in all things, and makes an honest and
sincere effort to do so, God graciously accepts the will for the deed.
Carefully ponder

2 Corinthians 8:12 which illustrates the same blessed
fact, and note the word “willing” in

Hebrews 13:18!
Third, the statement made in

Genesis 22:1, “God did tempt Abraham,’’
or as our text says, “when he was tried,” for that is exactly what both the
original Hebrew and Greek word signifies: to make trial of.
“It is an act of God whereby He proveth and makes experience of
the loyalty and obedience of His servants” (W. Perkins).
And this not for His own information (for He “knoweth our thoughts afar
off”), but for their own knowledge and that of their fellows. Christ put the
rich young ruler to the proof when He said, “Go, sell that thou hast, and
give to the poor” (

Matthew 19:21). So too He made trial of the
Canaanitish woman when He said,.326
“It is not meet to take the children’s bread and to cast it to the
dogs” (

Matthew 15:26).
“By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac.” In order to
understand and appreciate the fact that it was “by faith” Abraham offered
up Isaac, we must examine more closely the nature of that test to which the
Lord submitted the one whom He condescended to call his “friend.” In
bidding him to sacrifice his beloved son, that ordeal combined in it various
and distinct features: it was a testing of his submission or loyalty to God; it
was a testing of his affections, as to whom he really loved the more: God
or Isaac; it was a testing of which was the stronger within him: grace or
sin; but supremely, it was a testing of his faith.
Carnal writers see in this incident little more than a severe trial of
Abraham’s natural affections. It cannot be otherwise, for water never rises
above its own level; and carnal men are incapable of discerning spiritual
things. But it is to be carefully noted that

Hebrews 11:17 does not say,
“In submission to God’s holy will, Abraham offered up Isaac,” though that
was true; nor “out of supreme love for God he offered his son,” though
that was also the case. Instead, the Holy Spirit declares that it was “by
faith” that the patriarch acted, declaring that “he that had received the
promises offered up his only begotten son.” Most of the modern
commentators, filled with fleshly sentiment rather than with the Holy Spirit,
completely miss this point, which is the central beauty of our verse. Let us
seek then to attend unto it the more particularly.
In calling upon Abraham to sacrifice his son as a burnt offering, the Lord
submitted his faith to a fiery ordeal. How so? Because God’s promises to
Abraham concerning his “seed” centered in Isaac, and in bidding him slay
his only son, He appeared to contradict Himself. Ishmael had been cast out,
and Isaac’s posterity alone was to be reckoned to Abraham as the blessed
seed among whom God would have His church. Isaac had been given to
Abraham after he had long gone childless and when Sarah’s womb was
dead, therefore there was no likelihood of his having any more sons by her.
At the time, Isaac himself was childless, and to kill him looked like cutting
off all his hopes. How then could Abraham reconcile the Divine command
with the Divine promise? To sacrifice his son and heir was not only
contrary to his natural affections, but opposed to carnal reason as well..327
In like manner God tests the faith of His people today. He calls upon them
to perform the acts of obedience which are contrary to their natural
affections and which are opposed to carnal reason.
“If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up
his cross, and follow Me” (

Matthew 16:24).
How many a Christian has had his or her affections drawn out toward a
non-Christian, and then has come to them that piercing word,
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (

2
Corinthians 6:14)!
How many a child of God has had his membership in a “church” where he
saw that Christ was dishonored; to heed that Divine command,
“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith
the Lord” (

2 Corinthians 6:17)
entailed leaving behind those near and dear in the flesh; but the call of God
could not be disregarded, no matter how painful obedience to it might be.
But when are we put to such a trial as to offer up our Isaac? To this
question the Puritan Manton returned a threefold answer.
First, in the case of submission to the strokes of providence, when near
relations are taken away from us. God knows how to strike us in the
right vein; there will be the greatest trial where our love is set.
Second, in case of self-denial, forsaking our choicest interests for a
good conscience. We must not only part with mean things, but such as
we prize above anything in the world. When God requires it (as He did
with the writer) that we should forsake father and mother, we must not
demur; nay, our lives should not be dear unto us (

Acts 20:24).
Third, in mortifying our bosom lust: this is what is signified by cutting
off a “right hand” or plucking out a “right eye” (

Matthew 5:29, 30).
Let us notice the time when Abraham was thus tested. The Holy Spirit has
emphasized this in

Genesis 22:1 by saying, “And it came to pass after
these things, that God did tempt Abraham.” A double reference seems to
be made in these words..328
First, a general one to all the preceding trials which Abraham had endured
– his journey to Canaan, his sojourning there in tents, the long, long wait
for the promised heir. Now that he had passed through a great fight of
afflictions, he is called upon to suffer a yet severer test. Ah, God educates
His children little by little: as they grow in grace harder tasks are assigned
them, and deeper waters are called upon to be passed through, that
enlarged opportunities may be afforded for manifesting their increased faith
in God. It is not the raw recruit, but the scarred veteran, who is assigned a
place in the front ranks in the battle. Think it not strange then, fellow-Christian,
if thy God is now appointing thee severer tests than He did some
years ago.
Second, a more specific reference is made in

Genesis 22:1 to what is
recorded in the previous chapter: the miraculous birth of Isaac, the great
feast that Abraham made, when he was weaned (verse 8), and the casting
out of Ishmael (verse 14). The cup of the patriarch’s joy was now full. His
outlook seemed most promising: not a cloud appeared on the horizon. Yet
it was then, like a heavy clap of thunder out of a clear sky, that the most
trying test of all came upon him! Yes, and so it was just after God had
pronounced Job “a perfect man and an upright” that He delivered all that
he had into Satan’s hands (

Job 1:8, 12). So too it was when Paul had
been rapt to the third heaven, when he received such “abundance of
revelations,’’ that there was given him “a thorn in the flesh, the messenger
of Satan to buffet him” (

2 Corinthians 12:1-7).
How we need to seek grace that we may be enabled to hold every thing
down here with a light hand. Rightly did an old writer say, “Build not thy
nest on any earthly tree, for the whole forest is doomed to be cut down.” It
is not only for God’s glory, but for our own good, that we set our
affections upon “things above.” And in view of what has just been before
us, how necessary it is that we should expect and seek in advance to be
prepared for severe trials. Are we not bidden to “hear for the time to
come” (

Isaiah 42:23)? The more we calmly anticipate future trials, the
less likely are we to be staggered and overcome by them when they arrive:
“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to
try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you”
(

1 Peter 4:12).
Having observed the time when Abraham was tested, let us now consider
the severity of his trial..329
First the act itself. Abraham was ordered to slay, not all his bullocks and
herds, but a human being; and that not one of his faithful servants, but his
beloved son. Abraham was bidden, not to banish from home or send him
out of Canaan, but to cut him off out of the land of the living. He was
commanded to do a thing for which no reason could be assigned save the
authority of Him who gave the command. He was bidden to do that which
was most abhorrent to natural feeling. He must not only consent unto the
death of his dear Isaac, but himself be his executioner. He was to slay one
who was guilty of no crime, but who (according to the Divine record) was
an unusually dutiful, loving, and obedient child. Was ever such a demand
made upon a human creature before or since!
Second, consider the offerer. In our text he is presented in a particular
character: “he that had received the promises,” which is the key clause to
the verse. God had declared unto Abraham that He would establish an
everlasting covenant with Isaac and with his seed after him (

Genesis
17:9). Isaac, and none other, was the “seed” by whose posterity Canaan
should be possessed (

Genesis 12:7). It was through him that all nations
should be blessed (

Genesis 17:7), and therefore it must be through him
that Christ, according to the flesh, would proceed. These promises
Abraham had “received”: he had given credit for them, firmly believed
them, fully expected their performance. Now the accomplishment of those
promises depended upon the preservation of Isaac’s life — at least until he
had a son; and to sacrifice him now, appeared to render them all null and
void, making their fulfillment impossible.
“He that had received the promises” —
“which noteth not only the revelation of the promises, concerning a
numerous issue, and the Messiah to come of his loins, but the
entertaining of them and cordial assent to them. He received them
not only a private believer, but as a feoffee in trust for the use of
the church. In the first ages of the world God had some eminent
persons who received a revelation of His will in the name of the
rest. This was Abraham’s case, and he is here viewed not only as a
father, a loving father, but as one who had received the promises as
a public person, and father of the faithful — the person whom God
had chosen in whom to deposit the promises” (T. Manton)..330
Herein lay the spiritual acuteness of the trial: would he not in slaying Isaac
be faithless to his trust? would he not by his own act place the gravestone
on all hope for the fulfillment of such promises?
Forcibly did Matthew Henry, when commenting upon the time at which
Abraham received this trying command from God, say,
“After he had received the promises that this Isaac should build up
his family, and that ‘in him his seed should be called’ (

Hebrews
11:18), and that he should be one of the progenitors of the
Messiah, and all nations blessed in Him; so that in being called to
offer up his Isaac, he seemed to be called to destroy and cut off his
own family, to cancel the promises of God, to prevent the coming
of Christ, to destroy the whole truth, to sacrifice his own soul and
his hope of salvation, to cut off the church of God at one blow; a
most terrible trial!”
If Isaac were slain, then all seemed to be lost.
It may be asked, But why should God thus try the faith of the patriarch?
For Abraham’s own sake that he might the better know the efficacy of that
grace which God had bestowed upon him. As the suspending of a heavy
weight upon a chain reveals either its weakness or its strength, so God
places His people in varied circumstances which manifest that state of their
hearts — whether or no their trust be really in Him. The Lord tried
Hezekiah to show unto him his frailty (

2 Chronicles 32:31); he tried Job
to show that though He slew him yet would he trust in God. Second, for
the sake of others, that Abraham might be an example to them. God had
called him to be the father of the faithful, and therefore would He show
unto all generations of his children what grace He had conferred upon him
— what a worthy “father” or pattern he was (condensed from W. Gouge).
In like manner, God tries His people today and puts to the proof the grace
which He has communicated to their hearts: this, both for His own glory,
and for their own comfort. The Lord is determined to make it manifest that
He has on earth a people who will forsake any comfort and endure any
misery rather than forego their plain duty; who love Him better than their
own lives, and who are prepared to trust Him in the dark. So too we are
the gainers, for we never have clearer proof of the reality of grace than
when we are under sore trials..331
“Knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience
experience, and experience hope” (

Romans 5:3, 4).
As another has said, “By knocking upon the vessel we see whether it is full
or empty, cracked or sound, so by these knocks of providence we are
discovered.”
Rightly did John Owen point out, “Trials are the only touchstone of faith,
without which men must want (lack) the best evidence of its sincerity and
efficacy, and the best way of testifying it unto others. Wherefore we ought
not to be afraid of trials, because of the admirable advantages of faith, in
and by them.” Yea, the Word of God goes farther, and bids us, “Count it
all joy when ye fall into divers temptations” or “trials,” declaring
“that the trying of your faith worketh patience; but let patience
have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting
nothing” (

James 1:2-4).
So too,
“Though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through
manifold temptations (or “trials”) that the trial of your faith, being
much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried
with fire, might be found unto praise and honor, and glory at the
appearing of Jesus Christ” (

1 Peter 1:6, 7).
In conclusion, let us observe how Abraham conducted himself under this
sore trial: “he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten
son.” Many instructive details concerning this are recorded in

Genesis
22. There it will be found that Abraham consulted not with Sarah — why
should he, when he already knew God’s will on the matter! Nor was there
any disputing with God, as to the apparently flagrant disprepancy between
His present command and His previous promises. Nor was there any delay:
“And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass,
and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and
clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto
the place of which God had told him” (

Genesis 22:3).
And how is his unparalleled action to be accounted for? From what super-fleshly
principle did it spring? A single word gives the answer: FAITH. Not.332
a theoretical faith, not a mere head-knowledge of God, but a real, living,
spiritual, triumphant, faith.
“By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac.” By faith in the
Divine justice and wisdom behind the command so to act. By faith in the
veracity and faithfulness of God to make good His own promises. Fully
assured that God was able to fulfill His word, Abraham closed his eyes to
all difficulties, and steadfastly counted upon the power of Him that cannot
lie. This is the very nature or character of a spiritual faith: it persuades the
soul of God’s absolute supremacy, unerring wisdom, unchanging
righteousness, infinite love, almighty power. In other words, it rests upon
the character of the living God, and trusts Him in the face of every
obstacle. Spiritual faith makes its favored possessor judge that the greatest
suffering is better than the least sin; yea, it unhesitatingly avows “Thy
loving kindness is better than life” (

Psalm 63:3).
We must leave for our next article the consideration of the remainder of
our passage. But in view of what has already been before us, is not both
writer and reader constrained to cry unto God, “Lord, have mercy upon
reel Pardon my vile unbelief, and graciously subdue its awful power. Be
pleased, for Christ’s sake, to work in me that spiritual and supernatural
faith which will honor Thee and bear fruits to Thy glory. And if Thou hast,
in Thy discriminating grace, already communicated to me this precious,
precious gift, then graciously deign to strengthen it by the power of Thy
Holy Spirit; call it forth into more frequent exercise and action. Amen.”.333
CHAPTER 66
THE FAITH OF ABRAHAM
(

HEBREWS 11:17-19)
“Yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead,
and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God”
(

Romans 6:13).
The Lord has an absolute claim upon us, upon all that we have. As our
Maker and Sovereign He has the fight to demand from us anything He
pleases, and whatsoever He requires we must yield (

1 Chronicles
29:11). All that we have comes from Him, and must be held for Him, and
at His disposal (

1 Chronicles 29:14). The Christian is under yet deeper
obligations to part with anything God may ask from him: loving gratitude
for Christ and His so great salvation, must loosen our hold on every
cherished temporal thing. The bounty of God should encourage us to
surrender freely whatever He calls for, for none ever lose by giving up
anything to God. Yet powerful as are these considerations to any renewed
mind, the fact remains that they move us not until faith is in exercise. Faith
it is which causes us to yield to God, respond to His claims, and answer
His calls.
“By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac; and he
that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son. Of
whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy Seed be called:
Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead;
from whence also he received him in a figure” (

Hebrews 11:17-
19).
The apostle’s purpose in citing this remarkable incident, was to show that
it is the property of faith to carry its possessor through the greatest trials,
with a cheerful submission and acceptable obedience to the will of God. In
order to make this clearer unto the reader, let us endeavor to exhibit the
powerful influence which faith has to support the soul under and carry it
through testings and trials..334
First, faith judgeth of all things aright: it impresses us with a sense of the
uncertainty and fleetingness of earthly things, and causes us to highly
esteem invisible and heavenly things. Faith is a spiritual prudence opposed
not only to ignorance, but also to folly: so much unbelief as we have, so
much folly is ours — “O fools and slow of heart to believe” (

Luke
24:25). Faith is a spiritual wisdom, teaching us to value the favour of God,
the smiles of His countenance, the comforts of Heaven; it shows us that all
outward things are nothing in comparison with inward peace and joy.
Carnal reason prizes the concernments of the present life and grasps at its
riches and honors; sense is occupied with fleshly pleasures; but faith knows
“Thy loving kindness is better than life” (

Psalm 63:3).
Second, faith solves all riddles and doubts when we are in a dilemma: what
a problem confronted Abraham; what! shall I offer Isaac and bring to
naught God’s promises, or must I disobey Him on the other side? Faith
removed the difficulty: “accounting that God was able to raise him up even
from the dead.” Faith believes the accomplishment of the promise,
whatever reason and sense may say to the contrary; it cuts the knot by a
resolute dependence upon the power and fidelity of God. Faith casts down
carnal imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against God,
and brings into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.
Third, faith is a grace which looks to future things, and in the light of their
reality the hardest trials seem nothing. Sense is occupied only with things
present, and thus to nature it appears troublesome and bitter to deny
ourselves. But the language of faith is,
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us
a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not
at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen”
(

2 Corinthians 4:17, 18).
Faith looks within the veil, and so has a mighty influence to support the
soul in time of trial. He who walks in the light of Eternity goes calmly and
happily along through the mists and fogs of time; neither the frowns of men
nor the blandishments of the world affect him, for he has a ravishing and
affecting sight of the glorious Inheritance to which he is journeying.
Fourth, “faith worketh by love” (

Galatians 5:6), and then nothing is too
near and dear to us if the relinquishing of them will glorify God. Faith not
only looks forward, but backward; it reminds the soul of what great things.335
God has done for us in Christ. He has given us His beloved Son, and He is
worth infinitely more than all we can give to Him. Yes, faith apprehends
the wondrous love of God in Christ, and says, If He gave the Darling of
His bosom to die for me, shall I stick at any little sacrifice? If God gave me
Christ shall I deny Him my Isaac: I love him well, but I love God better.
Thus faith works, urging the soul with the love of God, that we may out of
thankfulness to Him part with those comforts which He requires of us.
“Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy Seed be called”
(verse 18).
This was brought in by the apostle to show wherein lay the greatest
obstacle before Abraham’s faith.
First, he was called on to “offer up” his son and heir.
Second, and this after he had “received the promises.”
Third, not Ishmael, but his “only begotten” or well-beloved Isaac —
this is the force of the expression: it is a term of endearment as

John
1:18, 3:16 shows.
Fourth, he must slay the one from whom the Messiah Himself was to
issue, for this is clearly the meaning of the Divine promise recorded in
verse 18.
Long ago John Owen called attention to the fact that the Socinians
(Unitarians) reduced God’s promise to Abraham unto two heads: first that
of a numerous posterity, and second that this posterity should inhabit and
enjoy the land of Canaan as an inheritance. But this, as he pointed out,
directly contradicts the apostle, who in Heb. 11:39 affirms that, when they
had possessed the land of Canaan almost unto the utmost period of its
grant unto them, had not received the accomplishment of the promise–we
wish our modern “dispensationalists” would ponder that verse. While it is
true that the numerous posterity of Abraham and their occupancy of
Canaan were both means and pledges of the fulfillment of the promise, yet

Acts 2:38, 39 and

Galatians 3:16 make it unmistakably plain that the
subject-matter of the promise was Christ Himself, with the whole work of
His meditation for the redemption and salvation of His Church.
“Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy Seed be called.” This Divine
promise is first found in

Genesis 21:12, and the occasion of God’s.336
giving it unto Abraham supplies us with another help towards determining
its significance. In the context there, we find that the Lord had given orders
for the casting out of Hagar and her son, and we read,
“And the thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight because of his
son” (

Genesis 21:11).
Then it was, to console his stricken heart, that Jehovah said unto His
“friend”: grieve not over Hagar’s son, for I will give thee One who is better
than a million Ishmaels; I will give thee a son from whom shall descend
none other than the promised Savior and Redeemer. And now Abraham
was called upon to slay him who was the marked-out progenitor of the
Messiah! No ordinary faith was called for here!
Who can doubt but that now Abraham was sorely pressed by Satan! Would
he not point out how “inconsistent” God was?–as he frequently will to us,
if we are foolish enough to listen to his vile accusations. Would he not
appeal to his sentiments and say, How will Sarah regard you when she
learns that you have killed and reduced to ashes the child of her old age?
Would he not seek to persuade Abraham that God was playing with him,
that He did not really mean to be taken seriously, that he could not be so
cruel as to require a righteous father to be the executioner of his own
dutiful son? In the light of all that is revealed of our great Enemy in Holy
Writ, and in view of our own experience of his fiendish assaults, who can
doubt but what Abraham now became the immediate object of the Devil’s
attack.
Ah, nothing but a mind that was stayed upon the Lord could have then
resisted the Devil, and performed a task which was so difficult and painful.
“Had he been weak in faith, he would have doubted whether two
revelations, apparently inconsistent, could come from the same
God, or, if they did, whether such a God ought to be trusted and
obeyed. But being strong in faith, he reasoned in this way: This is
plainly God’s command, I have satisfactory evidence of that; and
therefore it ought to be immediately and implicitly obeyed. I know
Him to be perfectly wise and righteous, and what He commands
must be right. Obedience to this command does indeed seem to
throw obstacles in the way of the fulfillment of a number of
promises which God has made to me. I am quite sure that God has
made those promises; I am quite sure that He will perform them..337
How He is to perform them, I cannot tell. That is His province, not
mine. It is His to promise, and mine to believe; His to command,
and mine to obey” (John Brown).
The incident we are now considering shows us again that faith has to do
not only with the promises of God, but with His precepts as well. Yea, this
is the central thing which is here set before us. Abraham had been “strong
in faith” when God had declared he should have a son by his aged wife
(

Romans 4:19), not being staggered by the seemingly insurmountable
difficulty that stood in the way; and now he was strong in faith when God
bade him slay his son, refusing to be deterred by the apparently immovable
obstacle which his act would interpose before his receiving the Seed
through Isaac. Ah, dear reader, make no mistake upon this point: a faith
which is not as much and as truly engaged with the precepts as it is with
the promises of God, is not the faith of Abraham, and therefore is not the
faith of God’s elect. Spiritual faith does not pick and choose: it fears God
as well as loves Him.
As the promises are not believed with a lively faith unless they draw off our
hearts from the carnal vanities to seek that happiness which they offer us,
so the commandments are not believed rightly unless we be fully resolved
to acquiesce in them as the only rule to guide us in the obtaining that
happiness, and to adhere to and obey them. The Psalmist declared, “I have
believed Thy commandments” (

Psalm 119:66); he recognized God’s
authority behind them, there was a readiness of heart to hear His voice in
them, there was a determination of will for his actions to be regulated by
them. So it was with Abraham, and so it must be with us if we would
furnish proof that he is our “father.”
“If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of
Abraham” (

John 8:39).
God’s Word is not to be taken piece-meal by us, but received into our
hearts as a whole: every part must affect us, and stir up dispositions in us
which each several part is suited to produce. If the promises stir up
comfort and joy, the commandments must stir up love, fear, and obedience.
The precepts are a part of Divine revelation. The same Word which calls
upon us to believe in Christ as an all-sufficient Savior, also bids us to
believe the commandments of God, for the molding of our hearts and the
guiding of our ways. There is a necessary connection between the precepts
and the promises, for the latter cannot do us good until the former be.338
heeded: our consent to the Law precedes our faith in the Gospel. God’s
commands “are not grievous” (

1 John 5:3). Christ must be accepted as
Lawgiver before He becomes our Redeemer:

Isaiah 33:22.
How the readiness of Abraham to sacrifice his son condemns those who
oppose God’s commands, and will not sacrifice their wicked and filthy
lusts!
“Whosoever he be of you,” says Christ, “that forsaketh not all that
he hath, he cannot by My disciple” (

Luke 14:33):
by which He meant, until he does in heart sincerity and resolute endeavor
turn away from all that stands in competition (for our affections) with the
Lord Jesus, he cannot become a Christian: see

Isaiah 55:7. In vain do
we claim to be saved if the world still rules our hearts. Divine grace not
only delivers from the wrath to come, but even now it effectually “teaches”
its recipients to deny
“all ungodliness and worldly lusts, that we should live soberly,
righteously, and godly in this present world” (

Titus 2:12).
“Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the
dead” (verse 19).
Here we learn what was the immediate object of Abraham’s faith on this
occasion, namely, the mighty power of God. He was fully assured that the
Lord would work a miracle rather than fail of His promise. Ah, my
brethren, it is by meditating upon God’s sufficiency that the heart is
quietened and faith is established. In times of temptation when the soul is
heavy with doubts and fears, great relief may be obtained by pondering the
Divine attributes, particularly, God’s omnipotency. His all-mighty power is
a special prop to faith. The faith of saints has in all ages been much
strengthened hereby. Thus it was with the three Hebrews:
“our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning
fiery furnace” (

Daniel 3:17)!
“With God all things are possible” (

Mark 10:27):
He is able to make good His word, though all earth and hell seem to make
against it..339
Here too we see exhibited another of faith’s attributes, namely, the
committal of events unto God. Carnal reason is unable to rest until a
solution is in sight, until it can see a way out of its difficulties. But faith
spreads the need before God, rolls the burden upon Him, and calmly leaves
the solution to Him.
“Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be
established” (

Proverbs 16:3):
when this is truly done by faith we are eased of many tossings of mind and
agitations of soul that would otherwise distress us. So here, Abraham
committed the event unto God, reckoning on His power to raise Isaac
again, though he should be killed. This is the very nature of spiritual faith:
to refer our case unto Him, and wait calmly and expectantly for the
promised deliverance, though we can neither perceive nor imagine the
manner in which it shall be brought about.
“Commit thy way unto the Lord: trust also in Him; and He shall
bring to pass” (

Psalm 37:5).
O how little faith is in exercise among the professing people of God today.
Occupied almost wholly with the rising tide of evil in the world, with the
rapid spread of Romanism, with the apostasy of Protestantism, the vast
majority of those now bearing the name of Christ conclude that we are
facing a hopeless situation. Such people seem to be ignorant of the history
of the past. Both in O.T. times and at different periods of this dispensation,
things have been far worse than they now are. Moreover, such trembling
pessimists leave out God: is not HE “able” to cope with the present
situation? A hesitating “Yes” may be given, at once nullified by the query,
“But where is the promise that He will do so?” Where? Why in

Isaiah
59:19,
“When the enemy shall come in like a flood (has he not already
done so!), the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against
him”
— but who believes it!
Ah, my Christian reader, ponder thoughtfully that blessed affirmation of
Him that cannot lie, and then bow the head in shame for thine unbelief.
Every thing in the world may seem to lie dead against the fulfillment of
many a Divine promise, yet no matter how dark and dreadful the outlook.340
appears, the Church of God on earth today is not facing nearly so critical
and desperate a situation as did the father of the faithful when he had his
knife at the breast of him on whose one life the accomplishment of all the
promises did depend. Yet he rested in the faithfulness and power of God to
secure His own veracity: and so may we do also at this present juncture.
He who responded to the faith of sorely-tried Abraham, to the faith of
Moses when Israel stood before the Red Sea, to the three Hebrews when
cast in Babylon’s furnace, will to ours, if we really trust Him. Forsake then
your newspapers, brethren, get ye to your knees, and pray expectantly for a
fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Man’s extremity is always God’s
opportunity.
“Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead.” This
supplies an interesting sidelight on the spiritual intelligence of the
patriarchs. The O.T. saints were very far from being as ignorant as some of
our superficial moderns suppose. Erroneous conclusions have often been
drawn from the silence of Genesis on various matters: the later books of
Scripture frequently supplement the concise accounts supplied in the earlier
ones. Rightly did John Owen point out, “Abraham firmly believed, not only
in the immortality of the souls of men, but also the resurrection from the
dead. Had he not done so, he could not have betaken himself unto this
relief in his distress. Other things he might have thought of, wherein God
might have exercised His power; but he could not believe that He would do
it, in that which itself was not believed by him.”
Some, perhaps, think that Owen drew too much on his imagination, that he
read into

Hebrews 11:19 what is not really there. If so, they are
mistaken. There is one clear statement in Genesis 22, which, though not
quoted by the eminent Puritan, fully establishes his assertion: there we are
told that the patriarch said unto his young men, “I and the lad will go
yonder and worship, and come again to you” (verse 5). This is exceedingly
blessed. It shows us that Abraham was not occupied with his faith, his
obedience, or with anything in himself, but solely with the living God: the
“worship” of Him filled his heart and engaged all his thoughts. The added
words “and come again to you” make it unmistakably plain that Abraham
confidently expected Jehovah to raise again from the dead the one he was
about to sacrifice unto Him as a burnt offering. A wonderful triumph of
faith was this: recorded for the praise of the glory of God’s grace, and for
our instruction..341
O my dear brethren and sisters in Christ, we want you to do something
more than read through this article: we long for you to meditate upon this
blessed sequel to Abraham’s sore trial. He was tested as none other ever
was, and grand was the outcome; but between that testing and its happy
issue there was the exercise of faith, the counting upon God to interpose
on his behalf, the trusting in His all-sufficient power. And God did not fail
him: though He tried his faith to the limit, yet in the nick of time the Lord
intervened. This is recorded for our encouragement, especially for those
who are now passing through a fiery furnace. He who can deliver from
death, what cannot He do! Say then with one of old, “Neither is there any
Rock (to stay ourselves upon) like our God” (

1 Samuel 2:2): Hannah
had found a mighty support to her faith in the power of God.
“By faith Abraham… offered up Isaac… accounting that God was
able to raise him up.” Faith, then, expects a recompense from God.
Faith knows that it is a saving bargain to lose things for Christ’s
sake. Faith looks for a restitution of comforts again, either in kind
or in value: “There is no man that hath left house, or brethren,… for
My sake and the Gospel’s, but he shall receive an hundredfold now
in this time, houses and brethren… and in the world to come eternal
life” (

Mark 10:29, 30)
— that is, either actually so, or an abundant equivalent. When one of the
kings of Israel was bidden by the Lord to dismiss the army he had hired, he
was troubled, and asked,
“What shall we do for the hundred talents which I have given to the
army of Israel” (

2 Chronicles 25:9);
whereupon the prophet replied, “The Lord is able to give thee much more
than this”! When a man, through faithfulness to Christ, is exposed unto the
frowns of the world, and his family faces starvation, let him know that God
will undertake for him. The Lord will be no man’s Debtor.
“From whence also he received him in a figure” (verse 19). Abraham had,
as to his purpose, sacrificed Isaac, so that he considered him as dead; and
he (thus) received him back from the dead — not really, but in a manner
bearing likeness to such a miracle. This illustrates and demonstrates the
truth of what has just been said above. God returns again to us what we
offer to Him:.342
“whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap”
(

Galatians 6:7).
“That which he hath given will He pay him again”
(

Proverbs 19:17),
for He will not be beholden to any of His creatures. Hannah gave up
Samuel to the Lord, and she had many more children in return (

1
Samuel 2:20, 21). How great, then, is the folly of those who withhold from
God anything which He asks of them: how they forsake their own mercies,
stand in their own light, and hinder their own good.
“From whence also he received him in a figure.” Here is the grand outcome
of the patriarch’s faith.
First, the trial was withdrawn, Isaac was spared: the speediest way to end
a trial is to be completely resigned to it; if we would save our life, we must
lose it.
Second, he had the expressed approval of the Lord, “now I know that thou
fearest God” (

Genesis 22:12): he whose conscience is clear before God
enjoys great peace.
Third, he had a clearer view of Christ than he had before: “Abraham saw
My day” said the Savior — the closer we keep to the path of obedience the
more real and precious will Christ be unto us.
Fourth, he obtained a fuller revelation of God’s name: he called Him
“Jehovah-Jireh” (

Genesis 22:14): the more we stand the test of trial the
better instructed shall we be in the things of God.
Fifth, the covenant was confirmed to him (

Genesis 22:16, 17): the
quickest road to full assurance is full obedience..343
CHAPTER 67
THE FAITH OF ISAAC
(

HEBREWS 11:20)
Though Isaac lived the longest of the four great patriarchs, yet less is
recorded about him than any of the others: some twelve chapters are
devoted to the biography of Abraham, and a similar number each to Jacob
and Joseph, but excepting for one or two brief mentionings before and
after, the history of Isaac is condensed into two chapters,

Genesis 26,
27. Contrasting his character with those of his father, and of his son, we
may remark that there is noted less of Abraham’s triumphs of faith, and
less of Jacob’s failures. Taking it on the whole, the life of Isaac is a
disappointing one: it begins brightly, but ends amid the shadows — like
that of so many, it failed to fulfill its early promise.
The one act in Isaac’s life which the Holy Spirit selected for mention in the
Scroll of Faith takes us back to

Genesis 27, where, as the Puritan Owen
well said, “There is none (other story) in the scripture filled with more
intricacies and difficulties as unto a right judgment of the things related,
though the matter of fact be clearly and distinctly set down. The whole
represents unto us Divine sovereignty, wisdom and faithfulness, working
effectually through the frailties, infirmities, and sins of all the persons
concerned in the matter.”
Genesis 27 opens by presenting unto us Isaac in his old age, and declares
that “his eyes were dim, so that he could not see” (verse 1). It ought not to
need saying that we have there something more than a mere reference to
the state of his physical eyes, yet in these days when so many glory in their
understanding the Word “literally,” God’s servants need to dwell upon the
most elementary spiritual truths. Everything in Holy Writ has a deeper
significance than the “literal,” and we are greatly the losers when we limit
ourselves to the “letter” of any verse. Let us contrast this statement
concerning Isaac’s defective vision with what is recorded of another
servant of God at the same advanced age:.344
“And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died:
his eye was not dim” (

Deuteronomy 34:7).
Genesis 27 shows us the low state into which a child of God may get. Isaac
presents unto us a solemn warning of the evil consequences which follow
failure to judge and refuse our natural appetites. If we do not mortify our
members which are upon the earth, if we do not abstain from fleshly lusts
that war against the soul, then the fine edge of our spiritual life will be
blunted, and the fine gold will become dim. If we live to eat, instead of
eating to live, our spiritual vision is bound to be defective. Discernment is a
by-product, the fruit and result of the denying of self, and following of
Christ (

John 8:12). It was this self-abnegation which was so
conspicuous in Moses: he learned to refuse that which appealed to the flesh
a position of honor as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; that is why his “eye
was not dim.” — He saw that the brick-making Hebrews were the people
of God, the objects of His sovereign favor, and following his spiritual
promptings, threw in his lot with them.
How different was the case with poor Isaac! Instead of keeping his body in
subjection, he indulged it. More than a hint of this is given in

Genesis
25:28, “And Isaac loved Esau because he did eat of his venison”: this
brought him under the influence of one who could be of no help to him
spiritually, and he loved him because he ministered unto his fleshly
appetites. And now in

Genesis 27, when he thought that the end of his
days was near, and he desired to bestow the patriarchal blessing upon his
son, instead of giving himself to fasting and prayer, and then acting in
accord with the revealed will of God, we are told that he called for Esau
and said,
“Now therefore take, I pray thee, thy weapons, thy quiver and thy
bow, and go out to the field, and hunt me some venison; and make
me some savory meat, such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may
eat; that my soul may bless thee before I die” (

Genesis 27:3, 4).
This is what furnishes the key to the immediate sequel.
“And the Lord said unto her (viz., Rebekah), Two nations are in
thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy
bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people;
and the elder shall serve the younger” (

Genesis 25:23)..345
This is the scripture which supplies the second key to the whole incident
recorded in

Genesis 27 and opens for us

Hebrews 11:20. Here we
find God making known the destiny of Jacob and Esau: observe that this
revelation was made unto the mother (who had “inquired of the Lord”:
verse 22), and not to their father. That, later on, Isaac himself became
acquainted with its terms, is clear, but as to how far he really apprehended
their meaning, is not easy to say.
The word that the Lord had spoken unto her, Rebekah believed; yet she
failed to exercise full confidence in Him. When she saw Isaac’s marked
partiality for Esau, and learned that her husband was about to perform the
last religious act of a patriarchal priest and pronounce blessing on his sons,
she became fearful. When she heard Isaac bid Esau make him some “savory
meat” — evidently desiring to enkindle or intensify his affections for Esau,
so that he might bless him with all his heart — she imagined that the
purpose of God was about to be thwarted, and resorted unto measures
which ill become a daughter of Jehovah, and which can by no means be
justified. We will not dwell upon the deception which she prompted Jacob
to adopt, but would point out that it supplies a solemn example of a real
faith being resolutely fixed on the Divine promises, but employing irregular
ways and wrong means for the obtaining of them.
In what follows we see how Isaac was deceived by Jacob posing as Esau.
Though uneasy and suspicious at first, his fears were largely allayed by
Jacob’s lies: though perceiving the voice was that of the younger son, yet
his hands appeared to be those of the elder. Pathetic indeed is it to see the
aged patriarch reduced unto the sense of touch in his efforts to identify the
one who had now brought him the longed-for venison. It is this which
should speak loudly to our hearts: he who yields to the lusts of the flesh
injures his spiritual instincts, and opens wide the door for the Devil to
impose upon him and deceive him with his lies! He who allows natural
sentiments and affections to override the requirements of God’s revealed
will, is reduced to a humiliated state in the end. How often it proves that a
man’s spiritual foes are they of his own household! Isaac loved Esau
unwisely.
But now we must face a difficult question: Did Isaac deliberately pit
himself against the known counsel of God? Did he defiantly purpose to
bestow upon Esau what he was assured the Lord had appointed for Jacob?.346
“Whatever may be spoken in excuse of Isaac, it is certain he failed greatly
in two things.
First, in his inordinate love to Esau (whom he could not but know to
be a profane person), and that on so slight an account as eating of his
venison:

Genesis 25:28.
Second, in that he had not sufficiently enquired into the mind of God,
in the oracle that his wife received concerning their sons. There is not
question on the one hand, but that he knew of it; nor on the other, that
he did not understand it. For if the holy man had known that it was the
determinate will of God, he would not have contradicted it. But this
arose from want of diligent enquiry by prayer, into the mind of God”
(John Owen).
We heartily agree with these remarks of the eminent Puritan. While the
conduct of Isaac on this occasion was far from becoming a child of God
who concluded his earthly pilgrimage was now nearly complete, yet charity
forbids us to put the worst possible construction upon his action. While his
affection for Esau was misplaced, yet, in the absence of any clear scriptural
proof, we are not warranted in thinking that he sinned presumptuously, by
deliberately resisting the revealed will of God; rather must we conclude
that he had no clear understanding of the Divine oracle given to Rebekah
— his spiritual discernment was dim, as well as his physical vision! As to
the unworthy part played by Rebekah and Jacob, their efforts are to be
regarded not so much as the feverish energies of the flesh, seeking to force
the fulfilment of God’s promise, but as well-meant but misguided intentions
to prevent the thwarting of God’s purpose. Their fears remind us of
Uzzah’s in

2 Samuel 6:6.
The one bright spot in the somber picture which the Holy Spirit has so
faithfully painted for us in

Genesis 27, found in verse 33. Right after
Isaac had pronounced the major blessing on Jacob, Esau entered the tent,
bringing with him the savory meat which he had prepared for his father.
Isaac now realized the deception which had been played upon him, and we
are told that he “trembled very exceedingly.” Was he shaking with rage at
Jacob’s treachery? No indeed. Was he, as one commentator has suggested,
fearful that he might suffer injury at the hands of the hot-headed Esau? No,
his next words explode such a theory. Rather was it he now realized that
he had been out of harmony with the Divine will, and that God had.347
providentially intervened to effect His own counsels. He was awed to the
very depths of his soul.
Blessed indeed is it to behold how the spirit triumphed over the flesh.
Instead of bursting out with an angry curse upon the head of Jacob, Isaac
said, “I have blessed him, yea, and he shall be blessed.” That was the
language of faith overcoming his natural partiality for Esau. It was the
recognizing and acknowledging of the immutability and invincibility of the
Divine decrees. He realized that God is in one mind, and none can turn
Him: that though there are many devices in a man’s heart, nevertheless the
counsel of the Lord that shall stand (

Proverbs 19:21). Nor could the
tears of Esau move the patriarch. Now that the entrance of God’s words
had given him light, now that the over-ruling hand of God had secured His
own appointment, Isaac was firm as a rock. The righteous may fall, but
they cannot be utterly cast down.
“By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come”
(

Hebrews 11:20).
Jacob, the younger, had the precedency and principal blessing. Strikingly
did this exemplify the high sovereignty of God. To take the younger, and
leave the elder to perish in their ways, is a course the Lord has often
followed, from the beginning of the world. Abel, the junior, was preferred
before Cain. Shem was given the precedency over Japheth the elder
(

Genesis 10:21). Afterwards, Abraham, the younger, was taken to be
God’s favorite. Of Abraham’s two sons, the older one, Ishmael, was
passed by, and in Isaac was the Seed called. Later, David, who was the
youngest of Jesse’s eight sons, was selected to be the man after God’s own
heart. And God still writes, as with a sunbeam in the course of His
providence, that He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy.
The “blessing” which Isaac pronounced upon Jacob was vastly superior to
the portion allotted Esau, though if we look no deeper than the letter of the
words which their father used, there appears to be very little difference
between them. Unto Jacob Isaac said,
“God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth;
and plenty of corn and wine” (

Genesis 27:28);
what follows in verse 29 chiefly concerned his posterity. Unto Esau Isaac
said,.348
“Behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the
dew of heaven from above: and by thy sword shalt thou live, and
shalt serve thy brother” (

Genesis 27:39, 40).
Apart from the younger son having the pre-eminence over the elder,
wherein lay the peculiar excellence of his portion? If there had been
nothing spiritual in the promise, it would have been no comfort to Jacob at
all, for the temporal things mentioned were not his portion: as he
acknowledged to Pharaoh, “few and evil have the days of the years of my
life been” (

Genesis 47:9).
What has just been before us supplies a notable example of how the O.T.
promises and prophecies are to be interpreted; not carnally, but mystically.
That Jacob’s portion far excelled Esau’s is clear from

Hebrews 12:17,
where it is denominated, “the blessing.” What that is was made clearer
when Isaac repeated his benediction upon Jacob, saying, “And give the
blessing of Abraham to thee and to thy seed” (

Genesis 28:4). Here is
the key which we need to unlock its meaning; as

Galatians 3:9, 14, 29
clearly enough shows, the “blessing of Abraham” (into which elect Gentiles
enter, through Christ) is purely a spiritual thing. Further proof that the
same spiritual blessing which God promised to Abraham was also made
over by Isaac to Jacob, is found in his words, “I have blessed him, and yea,
and he shall be blessed” (

Genesis 27:33), for Jehovah had employed the
same language when blessing the father of all believers: “in blessing I will
bless thee” (

Genesis 22:17). To this may be added Isaac’s “Cursed be
every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee”
(

Genesis 27:29), being part of the very words God used to Abraham,
see

Genesis 12:2, 3.
Now in seeking to rightly understand the language of Isaac’s prophecy, it
must be recognized that (oftentimes) in the O.T. heavenly things were
referred to in earthly terms, that spiritual blessings were set forth under the
figure of material things. Due attention to this fact will render luminous
many a passage. Such is the case here: under the emblems of the “dew of
heaven and the fatness of the earth,” three great spiritual blessings were
intended.
First, that he was to have a real relation to Christ, that he should be one of
the progenitors of the Messiah — this was the chief favor and dignity
bestowed upon “Abraham.” It is in the light of this that we are to
understand

Genesis 27:29 as ultimately referring: “let the people serve.349
thee, and nations bow down to thee,” that is, to the top branch which
should proceed from him — unto Christ, unto whom all men are
commanded to render allegiance (

Psalm 2:10-12).
Second, the next great blessing of “Abraham” was that he should be the
priest that should continue the worship of God and teach the laws of God
(

Genesis 26:5). The bowing down of his brethren to Jacob (

Genesis
27:29), was the owning of his priestly dignity. Herein also lay Jacob’s
blessing: to be in the church, and to have the church continued in his line.
This was symbolically pointed to in “that thou mayest inherit the land”
(

Genesis 28:4). “The church is the ark of Noah, which is only preserved
in the midst of floods and deep waters. The church is the land of Goshen,
which only enjoys the benefits of light, when there is nothing but darkness
round about elsewhere. It is the fleece of Gideon, being wet with the dews
of heaven, moistened with the influences of grace, when all the ground
round about is dry” (Thomas Manton). As to how high is the honor of
having the church continued in our line, the Spirit intimates in

Genesis
10:21 — Eber being the father of the Hebrews, who worshipped God.
Third, another privilege of Jacob above Esau was this, that he was taken
into covenant with God: “the blessing of Abraham shall come upon thee.”
And what was that? This,
“I will be thy God, and the God of thy seed” (

Genesis 17:7).
This is the greatest happiness of any people, to have God for their God —
to be in covenant with Him. Thus when Noah came to pronounce blessings
and curses on his children, by the spirit of prophecy, he said,
“Blessed be the Lord God of Shem” (

Genesis 9:26).
Afterward the same promise was made unto all Israel:
“I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of
Egypt, out of the house of bondage” (

Exodus 20:2).
So under the new covenant (the present administration of the everlasting
covenant), he says,
“I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people”
(

Hebrews 8:10)..350
To be a “God” to any, is to supply them with all good things, necessary for
temporal or spiritual life.
The fulfillment of Isaac’s prophetic blessing upon his sons was mainly in
their descendants, rather than in their own persons: Jacob’s spiritual
children, Esau’s natural. Concerning the latter, we would note two details.
First, Isaac said to him “thou shalt serve thy brother”; second, “and it shall
come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his
yoke from off thy neck” (

Genesis 27:40). For long centuries there
seemed no likelihood of the first part of this prediction being fulfilled, but
eight hundred years later, David said, “over Edom will I cast out my shoe”
(

Psalm 60:8). which meant, he would bring the haughty descendants of
Esau into a low and base state of subjection to him; which was duly
accomplished — “all they of Edom become David’s servants” (

2
Samuel 8:14)! Though their subjugation continued for a lengthy period,
yet, in the days of Jehoshaphat, we read,
“In his days Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah, and
made a king over themselves” (

2 Kings 8:20)!
“By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.” This
“blessing” was more than a dying father expressing good-will unto his
sons: it was extraordinary: Isaac spoke as a prophet to God, announcing
the future of his posterity, and the varied portions each should receive. As
the mouthpiece of Jehovah, he did, by the spirit of prophecy, announce
beforehand what should be the particular estate of each of his two sons;
and so his words have been fulfilled. Though parents today are not thus
supernaturally endowed to foretell the future of their children, nevertheless,
it is their duty and privilege to search the Scriptures and ascertain what
promises God has left to the righteous and to their seed, and plead them
before Him.
But seeing Isaac thus spake by the immediate impulse of the Spirit, how
can it be said that “by faith” he blessed his sons? This brings in the human
side, and shows how he discharged his responsibility. He gathered together
and rested upon the promises which God had made to him, both directly,
and through Abraham and Rebekah. The principal ones we have already
considered. He had been present when the Lord said unto his father what is
found in

Genesis 22:16-18, and he had himself been made the recipient
of the Divine promises recorded in

Genesis 26:2-4. And now, many
years later, we find his heart resting upon what he had heard from God,.351
firmly embracing His promises, and with unshaken confidence announcing
the future estates of his distant posterity.
That Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau “concerning things to come,” gives us a
striking example of what is said in the opening verse of our chapter. “Now
faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
“Abraham was now dead, and Isaac was expecting soon to be
buried in the grave he had purchased in the Land given to him and
his seed. There was nothing to be seen for faith to rest on; nothing
that gave the smallest ground for hope; nothing to make it even
probable (apart from what he had heard and believed) that his
descendants, either Jacob or Esau, would ever possess the land
which had been promised to them” (E.W.B.)
There was no human probability at the time Isaac spake which could have
been the basis of his calculations: all that he said issued from implicit faith
in the bare Word of God.
This is the great practical lesson for us to learn here: the strength of Isaac’s
faith should stir us up to cry unto God for an increased measure thereof.
With most precious confidence Isaac disposed of Canaan as if he already
had the peaceable possession of it. Yet, in fact, he owned not an acre of
that Land, and had no human right to anything there save a burying-place.
Moreover, at the time he prophesied there was a famine in Canaan, and he
was an exile in Gerah.
“Let people serve thee, and let nations bow down to thee”
(

Genesis 27:29),
would, to one that viewed only the outward case of Isaac, seem like empty
words. Ah, my brethren, we too ought to be as certain of the blessings to
come, which God has promised, as if they were present, even though we
see no apparent likelihood of them.
It may be objected against what has been said above, that, from the
account which is supplied in

Genesis 27, Isaac “blessed” Jacob in
ignorance rather than “by faith.” To this it may be replied, first, the object
of faith is always God Himself, and the ground on which it rests is His
revealed well. So in Isaac’s case, his faith was fixed upon the covenant
God and was exercised upon His sure Word, and this was by no means
negatived by his mistaking Jacob for Esau. Second, it illustrates the fact.352
that the faith of God’s people is usually accompanied by some infirmity: in
Isaac’s case, his partiality for Esau. Third, after he discovered the
deception which had been played upon him, he made no effort to recall the
blessing pronounced upon the disguised Jacob — sweetly acquiescing unto
the Divine Sovereignty — but confirming it; and though with tears Esau
sought to change his mind, he could not.
Here too we behold the strength of Isaac’s faith: as soon as he perceived
the providential hand of God crossing his natural affections, instead of
murmuring and rebelling, he yielded and submitted to the Lord. This is ever
the work of true faith: it makes the soul yield to God’s will against our
fleshly inclinations, as also against the bent of our own reason. Faith knows
that God is so great, so powerful, so glorious, that His commands must be
obeyed. As it was with Abraham, so in the case of Isaac: faith viewed the
precepts as well as the promise; it moves us to tread the path of obedience.
May our faith be more and more evidenced by walking in those good
works which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them..353
CHAPTER 68
THE FAITH OF JACOB
(

HEBREWS 11:21)
It has been well said that
“Though the grace of faith is of universal use throughout our whole
lives, yet it is especially so when we come to die. Faith has its great
work to do at the last, to help believers to finish well, to die to the
Lord, so as to honor Him, by patience, hope, and joy, so as to leave
a witness behind them of the truth of God’s Word and the
excellency of His ways, for the conviction and establishment of all
that attend them in their dying moments” (Matthew Henry).
God is greatly glorified when His people leave this world with their flag
flying at full mast: when the spirit triumphs over the flesh, when the world
is consciously and gladly left behind for Heaven. For this faith must be in
exercise.
It is not without good reason, we may be sure, that in the description
which the Holy Spirit has given us of the life of faith in Hebrews 11, He
has furnished us with no less than three examples — and these in
successive verses — of the actings of faith in the final crisis and conflict.
We believe that, among other reasons, God would hereby assure His
trembling and doubting children, that He who has begun a good work in
them, will most certainly sustain and complete the same; that He who has
in His sovereignty committed this precious grace to their hearts, will not
suffer it to languish when its support is most sorely needed; that He who
has enabled His people to exercise faith during the vigor of life, will not
withdraw His quickening power during the weakness of death.
As the writer grows older, he is saddened by discovering how very little is
now being given out, either orally or in written ministry, for the instruction
and comfort of God’s people concerning the dying of Christians. The devil
is not inactive in seeking to strike terror into the hearts of God’s people,
and knowing this, it is the bounden duty of Christ’s servants to expose the.354
groundlessness and hollowness of Satan’s lies. Not a few have been
deterred from so doing by heeding the mistaken notion that, for a Christian
to think of and prepare for death is dishonoring to Christ, and inconsistent
with the “imminency” of His coming. But such a notion is refuted in our
present passage. Let it be carefully considered that, when in

Hebrews
12:1 the Holy Spirit bids us “run with patience the race that is set before
us,” He bases that exhortation on the fact that we are “compassed about
with so great a cloud of witnesses,” the reference being unto the men of
God who are before in

Hebrews 11, who all “died in faith” (verse 13).
A God-given and a God-sustained faith is not only sufficient to enable the
feeblest saint to overcome the solicitations of the flesh, the attractions of
the world, and the temptations of Satan, but it is also able to give him a
triumphant passage through death. This is one of the prominent things set
forth in this wondrous and blessed chapter. In

Hebrews 11 the Holy
Spirit has set out at length the works, the achievements, the fruits, the
glories, of faith, and not the least of them is its power to support the soul,
comfort the heart, illumine the understanding, and direct the will, in the last
earthly struggle. While

Hebrews 11:20, 21 and 22 have this in common,
yet each contributes its own distinctive feature. In the case of Isaac, we see
a dying faith triumphing over the affections of the flesh; in the case of
Jacob, dying faith overcoming the interference of man; and in Joseph,
scorning the worthless pageantry of the world.
Of old Balaam said,
“Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like
his” (

Numbers 23:10):
well might he wish to do so. The writer has not a shadow of doubt that
every Christian who has, in the main current of his life, walked with God,
his last hours on earth (normally speaking, for we consider not here the
exceptional cases of those taken Home suddenly) are the brightest and
most blissful of all.

Proverbs 4:18, of itself, it fully sufficient to warrant
this thought. The Christian is not always permitted to bear testimony of
this so as to be intelligent unto those surrounding him, but even though his
poor body be convulsed with pain, and physical unconsciousness set in, yet
the soul cutting adrift from its earthly moorings, is then blest with a sight
and sense of his precious Redeemer such as he never had before (

Acts
7:55)..355
“Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright; for the end of that
man is peace” (

Psalm 37:37).
A peaceful death has concluded the troublous life of many a good man. As
the late C. H. Spurgeon said on this verse, “With believers it may rain in
the morning, thunder at midday, and pour torrents in the afternoon, but it
must clear up ere the sun go down.” Most aptly do his words apply to the
case of Jacob. A stormy passage indeed was his, but the waters were
smooth as he entered the port. Cloudy and dark were many of the hours of
his life, but the sunset bathed it with radiant splendor at its close.
“By faith Jacob when he was a dying” (

Hebrews 11:21).
Ah, but to “die” by faith, we must needs live by faith. And a life of faith is
not like the shining of the sun on a calm and clear day, its rays meeting
with no resistance from the atmosphere; rather is it more like the sun rising
upon a foggy morning, its rays struggling to pierce through and dispel the
opposing mists. Jacob walked by faith, but the exercise thereof
encountered many a struggle, and had to fight hard for each victory. In
spite of all his faults and failings (and each of us is just as full of the same),
Jacob dearly prized his interest in the everlasting covenant, trusted in God,
and highly esteemed His promises. It is a very faulty and one-sided
estimate of his character which fails to take these things into account. The
old nature was strong within him; yes, and so too was the new.
Though his infirmities led Jacob to employ unlawful means for the
procuring of it, yet his heart valued the “birthright,” which profane Esau
despised (

Genesis 25). Though he yielded unto the foolish suggestions
of his mother to deceive Isaac, yet his faith covetly eyed the promises of
God. Though there may have been a measure of fleshly bargaining in his
vow, yet Jacob was anxious for the Lord to be his God (

Genesis 28:21).
Though he stole away from Laban in fear, when his father-in-law overtook
him, he glorified God in the tribute he paid Him (

Genesis 31:53).
Though he was terrified at Esau, nevertheless he sought unto the Lord,
pleaded His promises (

Genesis 32:12), and obtained an answer of
peace. Though later he groveled at the feet of his brother, in the sequel we
find him prevailing with God (

Genesis 32:28). Equally with Abraham
and Isaac, “by faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange
country, dwelling in tents” (

Hebrews 11:9)..356
But it was during the closing days of his life that Jacob’s faith shone most
brightly. When giving permission for Benjamin to accompany his other
sons on their second trip to Egypt, he said “God Almighty (or “God the
Sufficient One”) give you mercy before the man” (

Genesis 43:14). This
was the title under which the Lord had blessed Abraham (

Genesis
17:1), as it was also the one Isaac employed when he blessed Jacob
(

Genesis 28:3): thus in using it here, we see how Jacob rested on the
covenant promise. Arriving in Egypt, the aged patriarch was presented
unto its mighty monarch. Blessed is it to see how he conducted himself:
instead of cringing before the ruler of the greatest empire of the old world,
we are told that “Jacob blessed Pharaoh” (

Genesis 47:7); with
becoming dignity he conducted himself as a child of the King of kings
(

Hebrews 7:7), and carried himself as became an ambassador of the
Most High.
“By faith Jacob when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph.”
This takes us back to what is recorded in

Genesis 48. What is found
there is quite distinct from what is said in the next chapter, where Jacob is
seen as God’s prophet announcing the future of all his twelve sons. But
here he is concerned only with Joseph and his two sons. Before considering
the particular detail which our text treats of, let us note the sentence which
immediately precedes it. “And he blessed Joseph” (

Genesis 48:15): in
this we may admire the overruling hand of God, and also find here the key
to what follows.
In

Deuteronomy 21:17 we read,
“But he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the first-born,
by giving him a double portion of all that he hath: for he is the
beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his.”
It was the right of the firstborn to have a double portion, and this is exactly
what we find Jacob bestowing upon Joseph, for both Ephraim and
Manasseh were allotted a distinct tribal part and place in the promised
inheritance. This, by right, belonged unto Joseph, though the Devil had
tried to cheat him out of it, using Laban to deceive Jacob by substituting
Leah in Rebekah’s place, and Joseph was her firstborn; and now by the
providence of God the primogeniture is restored to him. So too God
permitted Reuben to sin so that the way might be open for this:.357
“Now the sons of Reuben, the firstborn of Israel, (for he was the
firstborn) but, forasmuch as he defiled his father’s bed, his
birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph” (

1 Chronicles
5:1).
Earlier in this interview, Jacob had said,
“And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born
unto thee in the land of Egypt, before I came unto thee into Egypt,
are mine” (

Genesis 48:5).
Those two sons of Joseph had been borne to him by an Egyptian wife, and
in a foreign land, but now they were to be adopted and incorporated into
the body of the holy seed. For note, when Jacob blessed them he said,
“The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let
my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers, Abraham
and Isaac” (verse 16).
By that blessing he sought to draw their hearts away from Egypt and their
kinsfolk there, that they might be annexed to the church and share with the
people of God.
“By faith Jacob when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph.” In
this case the R.V. is more accurate: “blessed each of the sons of Joseph,”
for their blessing was not collective, but a distinctive and discriminating
one. In fact the leading feature of the dying Jacob’s faith is most
particularly to be seen at this very point. When Joseph brought his two
sons before their grandfather to receive his patriarchal blessing, he placed
Manasseh the elder, to his right hand, and Ephraim the younger to his left.
His object in this was that Manasseh might receive the first and superior
portion. Right there it was that the faith of Jacob was most tested. At this
time Joseph was governor over all Egypt, and second only to Pharaoh
himself in authority and power; moreover he was Jacob’s favorite son, yet
the dying patriarch had now to withstand him.
“And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim’s
head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh’s
head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn”
(

Genesis 48:14)..358
Herein we behold the manner in which the blessing was bestowed. Once
more the younger, by the appointment of God, was preferred before the
elder, for the Lord distributes His favors as He pleases, saying
“Is it not lawful for Me to do what I will with Mine own?”
(

Matthew 20:15).
Unto the high sovereignty of God Jacob here submissively bowed. It was
not a thing of chance that he crossed his hands, for the Hebrew of “guiding
his hands wittingly” is “made his hands to understand.” It was the
understanding of faith, for his physical eyes were too dim to see what he
was doing — true faith is ever opposed to sight! Note how the Holy Spirit
emphasizes the fact that it was “Isaac” (and not “Jacob”) who did this.
“And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers
Abraham and Isaac did walk” (

Genesis 48:15).
Very blessed is this. Despite his physical decay, there was no abatement of
his spiritual strength: notwithstanding the weakness of old age, he abode
firm in faith and in the vigorous exercise of it. Here in the verse before us,
we behold Jacob recognizing and asserting the covenant which Jehovah
had made with his fathers. This is the very life of faith: to lay hold of, draw
strength from, and walk in the light of the everlasting covenant, for it is the
foundation of all our blessings, the charter of our inheritance, the guaranty
of our eternal glory and bliss. He who keeps it in view will have a happy
deathbed, a peaceful end, (and a God-honoring exit from this world of sin
and suffering.
“The God which fed me all my life long unto this day”
(

Genesis 48:15).
As Jacob had made a solemn acknowledgment of the spiritual blessing
which he had received by virtue of the everlasting covenant, so he also
owned the temporal mercies of which he had been the favored recipient. “It
was a work of faith to retain a precious thankful remembrance of Divine
providence in a constant provision of all needful temporal supplies, from
first to last, during the whole course of his life” (John Owen). As it is an
act of faith to cordially consent unto the dealings of God with us in a
providential way, so it is a fruit of faith to make a confession by the mouth
concerning Him. Note: God is honored before those attending Him when a
dying saint bears testimony unto His faithfulness in having supplied all his
need..359
“The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads”
(

Genesis 48:16).
“He reflects on all the hazards, trials and evils that befell him, and
the exercise of his faith in them all. Now all his dangers were past,
all his evils conquered, all his fears removed, he retains by faith a
sense of the goodness and kindness of God in rescuing him out of
them all” (John Owen).
“Thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led
thee” (

Deuteronomy 8:2):
as the children of Israel were called upon to do this at the close of their
wilderness journey, so we cannot be more profitably employed in the
closing hours of our earthly pilgrimage than by recalling and reviewing that
grace which delivered us from so many dangers known and unknown.
“And let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers
Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst
of the earth” (

Genesis 48:16).
Jacob was not ambitious for a continuance of their present greatness in
Egypt, but desired for them the blessings of the covenant. Joseph could
have left to his sons a rich patrimony in Egypt, but he brought them to
Jacob to receive his benediction. Ah, the baubles of this world are nothing
in comparison with the blessings of Zion: see

Psalm 128:5; 134:3;
133:3. The spiritual blessings of the Redeemer far exceed in value the
temporal mercies of the Creator: it was the former which Joseph coveted
for his sons, and which Jacob now prophetically bestowed.
“And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the
head of Ephraim, it displeased him; and he held up his father’s hand
to remove it from Ephraim’s head unto Manasseh’s head. And
Joseph said unto his father, not so, my father; for this is the
firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head” (

Genesis 48:17, 18).
Here we see the will of man asserting itself, which, when left to itself, is
ever opposed to God. Joseph had his wishes concerning the matter, and
did not hesitate to express them; though, be it noted unto his credit, he
meekly acquiesced at the finish..360
“And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it”
(

Genesis 48:19).
It was at this point that Jacob’s faith shone most brightly; the repeated “I
know it” marks the great strength of his faith. He had “heard” from God
(

Romans 10:17), he believed God, he submitted to God. Jacob was no
more to be influenced by “the will of man” here, than in the preceding
verse Isaac was by “the will of the flesh”; faith overcame both. Learn, my
reader, that sometimes faith has to cross the wish and will of a loved one!
Plainly it was “by faith” that the dying Israel blessed each of the sons of
Joseph. Certainly it was not by sight.
“To ‘sight’ what could be more unlikely than that these two young
Egyptian princes, for such they were, should ever forsake Egypt,
the land of their birth, and migrate into Canaan? What more
improbable than that they should ‘each’ become a separate tribe?
What more un-looked for, than that, of these two, the younger
should be exalted above the elder, both in importance and
number?” (E.W.B.)
“He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly
his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall
become a multitude of nations” (

Genesis 48:19).
Not only does God make a great difference between the elect and the
reprobate, but He does not deal alike with His own children, neither in
temporals nor spirituals. There are some of His favored people to whom
God manifests Himself more familiarly, grants them more liberal supplies of
His grace, and more plentiful comforts – there was a specially favored
three among the twelve apostles. Some Christians have more opportunities
to glorify God than others, higher privileges of service, greater abilities and
gifts – the “talents” were not distributed equally: one had five, another
three, another one. But let us not murmur: all have more than they can
improve.
“And worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff”
(

Hebrews 11:21).
There is some room for question as to what incident the apostle is here
referring to. Some think that (like Moses did “exceeding fear and quake”:

Hebrews 12:21) it is entirely a N.T. revelation; others (the writer.361
included) regard it as alluding to what is recorded in

Genesis 47:31.
The only difficulty in connection with this view is, that here we read Jacob
“worshipped upon the top of his staff,” there that “he bowed himself upon
the bed’s head.” Concerning this variation we agree with Owen that “he
did both, namely, bow towards the head of the bed, and at the same time
lean on his staff, as we are assured by comparing the Divine writers
together.”
The occasion of Jacob’s “worship” was as follows:
“And the time drew nigh that Israel must die: And he called his son
Joseph, and said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight,
put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly
with me; bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt: But I will lie with my
fathers, and thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their
burying-place. And he said, I will do as thou hast said” (

Genesis
47:29, 30).
It was far more than a sentimental whim which moved the patriarch to
desire that his body be interred in the holy land: it was the working of faith,
a blessed exhibition of his confidence in God.
It was not the pomp and pageantry of his burial which concerned Jacob,
but the place of it which he was so solicitous about. Not in Egypt among
idolators, must his bones be laid to rest, for with them he cared not to have
any fellowship in life; and now he desired no proximity unto them in death
— he would show that God’s people are a separated people. No, it was in
the burying-place of his fathers he wished to be laid.
First, to show forth his union with Abraham and Isaac in the covenant.
Second, to express his faith in the promises of God, which concerned
Canaan, and not Egypt.
Third, to draw off the minds of his descendants from a continuance in
Egypt: setting before them an example that they should think of
returning to the promised land at the proper time, and thereby
confirming them in the belief of possessing it.
Fourth, to signify he would go before them, and, as it were, take
possession of the land on their behalf..362
Fifth, to intimate that Canaan was a type of Heaven, the “Better
Country” (

Hebrews 11:16), the eternal Resting-place of all the
people of God.
The asking of Joseph to place his hand under his thigh, was a gesture in
swearing (

Genesis 24:2, 3), as the raising of the hand now is with us. It
was not that Jacob doubted his son’s veracity, but it signified the eagerness
of his entreaty, and the intensity of his mind about the matter: what an
important thing it was to him. No doubt it was also designed to forestall
any objection which Pharaoh might make after his death: see Gen. 50:5, 6.
Jacob was in bed at the time, but gathering together his little remaining
strength, he raised himself to sit upright, and then bowing his body, and so
that it might be supported, he leaned upon his staff, worshipping God.
The Holy Spirit’s mention here of Jacob’s reverent gesture in worshipping
God, intimates to us that it well becomes a worshipper of the Most High to
manifest the inward devotion of the soul by a fitting posture of the body.
God has redeemed both, and He is to be honored by both:

1 Corinthians
6:20. Shall we serve God with that which costs us nothing? Sitting or lying
at prayer savors more of sloth and carelessness, than of reverence and zeal.
Carnal men, in pursuit of their fleshly lusts, can weary and waste the body;
shall Christians shelter behind every inconvenience and excuse? Christ
exposed His body to the utmost suffering, shall not His love constrain us to
deny selfish ease and sloth!
Having secured the promise from Joseph that his will should be carried out,
Jacob bowed before God in worship, for now he realized the Lord was
making good the promise recorded in

Genesis 46:4. In his great
weakness he had bowed toward his bed’s head so as to adore God,
completing now his representation of reverence and faith by leaning upon
the top of his staff. In that emblematic action he signified his complete
dependence upon God, testified to his condition as a pilgrim in the earth,
and emphasized his weariness of the world and his readiness to part from
it. He praised God for all He had done for him, and for the approaching
prospect of everlasting bliss. Blessed is it to find that the Holy Spirit’s final
word about Jacob in Scripture (

Hebrews 11:21) depicts him in the act
of worship!.363
CHAPTER 69
THE FAITH OF JOSEPH
(

HEBREWS 11:22)
At the early age of seventeen Joseph was carded away into a foreign
country, into a heathen land. There he remained for many years surrounded
by idolaters, and during all that time he, probably, never came into contact
with a single child of God. Moreover, in those days there was no Bible to
read, for none of God’s Word had then been committed to writing. Yet
amid all sorts of temptations and trials, he remained true unto the Lord.
Thirteen years in prison did not embitter him; being made lord over Egypt
did not spoil him; evil examples all around, did not corrupt him. O the
mighty power of Divine grace to preserve its favored objects. But let the
reader carefully bear in mind that, in his earliest years, Joseph had received
a godly training! O how this ought to encourage Christian parents: do your
part in faithfully teaching the children, and with God’s blessing, it will
abide with them, even though they move into a foreign land.
It may strike some of our readers that the apostle made a strange selection
here from the remarkable history of Joseph. No reference is given unto his
faithfulness to God in declaring what He had made known to him
(

Genesis 37:5), his chastity (

Genesis 39:10), his patience under
affliction (

Psalm 105:18, 19), his wisdom and prudence (

Genesis
39:22; 47:14), his fear of God (

Genesis 42:18); his compassion
(

Genesis 42:24), his overcoming evil with good (

Genesis 45:10), his
reverence to his father, and that when he was advanced unto outward
dignity above him (

Genesis 48:12), his obedience to his father
(

Genesis 47:31); instead, the whole of his memorable life is passed
over, and we are introduced to the final scene. But this seeming difficulty is
at once removed if we bear in mind the Spirit’s scope in this chapter,
namely, to encourage the fearful and wavering Hebrews, by bringing before
them striking examples of the efficacy and sufficiency of faith to carry its
favored possessor safely through every difficulty, and utimately conduct
him into the promised inheritance..364
Not only was there a particular reason in the case of those who first
received this Epistle, why the Holy Spirit should conduct them unto the
expiring moments of Joseph, but there is also a wider purpose why (in this
description of the whole Life of Faith) He should do so. Faith is a grace
which honours God and stands its possessor in good stead, in death as well
as life. The worldling may appear to prosper, and his journey through life
seem to be smooth and easy, but how does he fare in the supreme crisis?
what support is there for his heart when God calls him to pass out of time
into eternity? “For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath
gained, when God taketh away his soul?” Ignorance may exclude terror,
and sottishness may still the conscience; but there can be no true peace, no
firm confidence, no triumphant joy for those out of Christ. Only he can die
worshipping and glorifying God for His promises who possesses genuine
faith.
If the kind providence of God preserves his faculties unto the end, a
Christian ought not to be passive in death, and die like a beast. No, this is
the last time he can do any thing for God on earth, and therefore he should
take a fresh and firm hold of His everlasting covenant, “ordered in all
things and sure,” going over in his mind the amazing grace of the Triune
God toward him; the Father, in having from the beginning, chosen him
unto salvation; the Son for having obeyed, suffered and died in his room
and stead; the Holy Spirit for having sought him out when dead in sins,
quickened him into newness of life, shed abroad the love of God in his
heart, and put a new song in his mouth. He should review the faithfulness
and goodness of God toward him all through his pilgrimage. He should rest
on the promises, and view the glorious future awaiting him. Thereby,
praise and thanksgiving will fill his soul and mouth, and God will be greatly
honored before the onlookers.
When faith is active during the dying hours of a saint, not only is his own
heart spiritually upheld and comforted, but God is honored and others are
confirmed. A carnal man cannot speak well of the world when he comes to
pass through the dark valley; no, he dares not commend his wordly life to
others. But a godly man can speak well of God, and commend His
covenant to others. So it was with Jacob (

Genesis 48:15, 16). So it was
with Joshua:
“Behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know
in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed.365
of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning
you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed
thereof” (

Joshua 23:14).
So was it also with Joseph. He could have left to his sons nobility of blood,
a rich patrimony in Egypt, but he brought them to his father to receive his
blessing (

Genesis 48:12). And what was that? To invest them with the
right of entering into the visible privileges of the covenant. Ah, to Joseph,
the riches of Egypt were nothing in comparison with the blessings of Zion.
And so again now: when his hours on earth were numbered, Joseph thinks
not of the temporal position of honor which he had occupied so long, but
was engaged only with the things of God and the promised inheritance. See
here the power of a godly example: Joseph had witnessed the last acts of
his father, and now he follows in his steps. The good examples of superiors
and seniors are of great force unto those who look up to them — how
careful they should be, then, of their conduct! Let us seek to emulate that
which is praiseworthy in our betters:

Philippians 3:17;

Hebrews
13:7.
“By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of
the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his
bones” (verse 22).
First, let us observe the time when Joseph’s faith was here exercised. It
was during his closing hours upon earth. Most of his long life had been
spent in Egypt, and during its later stages, had been elevated unto a dizzy
height; for as

Acts 7:10 tells us, he was made “governor” or lord over
Egypt, and over all Pharaoh’s house. But neither the honors nor the
luxuries which Joseph received while in the land of exile, made that holy
man forget the promises of God, nor bound his soul to the earth. His mind
was engaged in higher things than the perishing baubles of this world.
Learn them, my reader, it is only as our hearts ascend to heaven that we
are able to look down with contempt upon that which this world prizes so
much.
From the case of Joseph we may see that earthly honor and wealth do not
in themselves injure: where there is a gracious heart to manage them, they
can be employed with advantage and used to God’s glory. Many examples
may be cited in proof of this. God has ever had a few of His saints even in
Caesar’s “household” (

Philippians 4:22). Material things are God’s
gifts, and so must be improved unto His praise. There is as much faith, yea.366
more, in moderating the affections under a full estate, as there is in
depending upon God for supplies when we have nothing. Nevertheless, to
learn “how to abound” (

Philippians 4:12) is a hard lesson. To keep the
mind stayed upon God and the heart from settling down here, calls for
much exercise of soul; therefore are we exhorted “if riches increase, set not
your hearts upon them” (

Psalm 62:10) — but be thankful for them, and
seek to use them unto God’s honor.
No, the poor do not have such temptations to overcome as do the rich. The
poor are driven to depend upon God: they have no other alternative save
abject despair. But there is more choice to those who have plenty: their
great danger is to lose sight of the Giver and become immersed in His gifts.
Not so with Joseph: to him Egypt was nothing in comparison with Canaan.
Then let us seek grace to be of his spirit: true greatness of mind is to count
the highest things of earth as nothing when weighed against the things of
Heaven. It is a great mercy when the affluence of temporal things does not
take the heart off the promises, but for this there has to be a constant
crying unto Him to quicken our spiritual sensibilities, keep us in close
communication with Himself, wean us from things below.
But neither the riches nor the honors of Egypt could secure Joseph from
death, nor did they make him unmindful or afraid of it. The time had
arrived when he saw that his end was at hand, and he met it with a
confident spirit. And thus it should be with us. But in order to do this we
must be all our lifetime preparing for that hour. Reader, there can be no
dissembling then. Allow me to ask: Is your soul truly yielded up to God?
Do you hold this world with a light hand? Are God’s promises your daily
food? Life is held by a very uncertain tenure. Unless the Lord returns first,
death will be the last great enemy with which you have to contend, and you
will need to have on all your armor. If you have not on the breastplate of
righteousness and the helmet of salvation, what will you do in the swellings
of Jordan, when Satan is often permitted to make his fiercest attack?
“By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the
children of Israel.” Let us consider next the strength of his faith. It will be
noted by the careful reader that the margin gives an alternative rendering,
namely, “By faith Joseph, when he died, remembered the departing of the
children of Israel”: the Greek will allow of either translation, and personally
we believe that the fulness of the Spirit’s words requires that both
meanings be kept before us. That which is in view here is very striking and.367
blessed. The word “remembered” shows that Joseph’s mind was now
engaged with the promise which the Lord had made to Abraham, recorded
in

Genesis 15:14-16. The alternative translation “he made mention of
the departing of the children of Israel,” signifies that Joseph testifies his
own faith and hope in the sure words of the living God.
At the end of Joseph’s long and memorable career his thoughts were
occupied not so much with what God had wrought for him, but with what
He had promised unto His people: in other words, he was dwelling not
upon the past, but with that which was yet future. In his heart were the
“things hoped for” (

Hebrews 11:1)! More than two hundred years had
passed since Jehovah had spoken what is recorded in

Genesis 15. Part
of the prediction which He there made, had been fulfilled; but to carnal
reason there seemed very little prospect that the remainder of it would
come to pass.
First, God had announced that the seed of Abraham should be “a stranger
in the land that is not theirs” (

Genesis 15:13), which had been
confirmed when Jacob carried all his household down into Egypt.
Second, God had declared the descendants of Abraham should “serve” the
Egyptians and “they shall afflict them four hundred years” (

Exodus
15:13): but to outward sight, that now appeared most unlikely. The
posterity of the patriarchs had been given favor in Pharaoh’s eyes
(

Genesis 45:16-18), the “best” of the land was set apart for their use
(

Genesis 47:6), there they “multiplied exceedingly (

Genesis 47:27),
and so great was the respect of the Egyptians that they “mourned” for
Jacob seventy days (

Genesis 50:3). Joseph himself was their great
benefactor and deliverer from the famine: why, then, should his
descendants be hated and oppressed by them? Ah, faith does not reason,
but believes.
Third, God had declared that He would judge the Egyptians for their
afflicting of His people (

Exodus 15:14), which was fulfilled in the awful
plagues recorded in the early chapters of Exodus. Finally, God had
promised “and afterward shall they come out with great substance… in the
fourth generation they shall come hither (into Canaan) again” (

Exodus
15:14, 16). It was unto this that the heart of Joseph was now looking
forward, and nothing but real spiritual faith could have counted upon the
same. If, after his death, the Hebrews (without a leader) were to be sorely
afflicted, and that for a lengthy season; if they were to be reduced unto.368
helpless slaves, who could reasonably hope that all this should be followed
by their leaving the land of Egypt with “great substance,” and returning to
the land of Canaan? Ah, FAITH is fully assured that God’s promises will
be fulfilled, no matter how long they may be delayed.
Faith is gifted with long-distant sight, and therefore is it able to look
beyond all the hills and mountains of difficulty unto the shining horizon of
the Divine promises. Consequently, faith is blessed with patience, and
calmly awaits the destined hour for God to intervene and act: therefore
does it heed that word,
“For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it shall
speak, and not lie; though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely
come” (

Habakkuk 2:3).
Though the Hebrews were to lie under Egyptian bondage for a long
season, Joseph had not a doubt but that the Lord would, in His appointed
time, bring them forth with a high hand. God’s delays, dear reader, are not
to deny our prayers and mock our hopes, but are for the disciplining of our
hearts — to subdue our impatience, which wants things in our own way
and time; to quicken us to call more earnestly upon Him, and to fit us for
receiving His mercies when they are given.
God often defers His help till the very last moment. It was so with
Abraham offering up Isaac; only when his son had been bound to the altar,
and he had taken the knife into his hand to slay him, did God intervene. It
was so with Israel at the Red Sea (

Exodus 14:13). It was so with the
disciples in the storm: “the ship was covered with the waves,” before
Christ calmed the sea (

Matthew 8:24-26). It was so with Peter in
prison; only a very few hours before his execution did God free him
(

Acts 12:6-8). So, too, God works in mysterious ways His wonders to
perform, and often in a manner quite contrary to outward likelihood. The
history of Joseph affords a striking example. He was first made a slave in
Egypt, and this in order to his being made ruler over it–who would have
thought that the prison was the way to the court! So it was with his
descendants: when their tale of bricks was doubled and the straw withheld,
who would have looked for deliverance! Yes, God’s ways are strange to
flesh and blood: often He allows error to arise to clear the Truth; bondage
often makes way for liberty; persecution and affliction have often proved
blessings in disguise..369
“And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die; and God will surely visit
you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which He sware to
Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob” (

Genesis 50:24).
How plainly and how blessedly does this bring out the strength of Joseph’s
faith; There was no hesitancy or doubt: he was fully assured that God
cannot lie, and that He would, “surely” make good His word. Equally
certain is it that God’s promises unto us will be fulfilled: “I will never leave
thee, nor forsake thee” (

Hebrews 13:5). Therefore may the dying saint
exclaim
“Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will
fear no evil; for Thou art with me” (

Psalm 23:4).
So too our faith may look beyond the grave unto the glorious resurrection,
and say with David, “my flesh also shall rest in hope” (

Psalm 16:9).
“By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the
children of Israel.” Let us now take note of the breadth of his faith. A true
Christian is known by his affection for Zion. The cause of Christ upon
earth is dearer to him than the prosperity or disposition of his personal
estate.
“We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we
love the brethren” (

1 John 3:14).
Thus it was with Joseph; before he gave commandment concerning his
bones, he was first concerned with the future exodus of Israel and their
settlement in Canaan! How different with the empty professor, who is ruled
by self-love, and has no heart for the people of God. He may be interested
in the progress of his own denomination, but he has no concern for the
Church at large. Far otherwise is it with the genuine saint:
“If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.
If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my
mouth, if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy” (

Psalm
137:5, 6).
So Joseph, at the very time of his death, was engaged with the future
happiness of God’s people.
Beautiful indeed is it to see the dying Joseph unselfishly thinking about the
welfare of others. O may God deliver the writer and the reader from a.370
narrow heart and a contracted spirit. True faith not only desires that it shall
be well with our own soul, but with the Church at large. Behold another
lovely example of this in the case of the dying daughter-in-law of Eli, the
high priest:
“And she said, The glory of God is departed from Israel; for the ark
of God is taken” (

1 Samuel 4:22)
— not my father-in-law is dead, not my husband has been slain, but “the
glory is departed.” But most blessed of all is the case of Him of whom
Joseph was here a type. As our precious Savior drew near the Cross, yea,
on the very night of His betrayal, it is recorded that
“having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them to
the end” (

John 13:1).
The interests of God’s people were ever upon His heart.
Let us note how another aspect of the breadth of true faith was illustrated
by Joseph. Faith not only believes the promises which God has given to His
saints individually, but also lays hold of those given to the Church
collectively. There have been many seasons when the cause of Christ on
earth has languished sorely; when it has been in a low state spiritually;
when eminent leaders had been all called home, and when fierce
persecution broke out against the little flock which they had left behind.
Even so, they still had that sure word,
“Upon this Rock I will build My Church, and the gates of Hades
shall not prevail against it” (

Matthew 16:18).
In all ages the enemy has sought to destroy the people of God, but the
Lord has defeated his designs and rendered his opposition ineffectual. O
for a faith to now lay hold of this promise,
“When the Enemy shall come in like a flood the Spirit of the Lord
shall lift up a standard against him” (

Isaiah 59:19).
“And gave commandment concerning his bones.” The reference here is to
what is recorded in

Genesis 50:25,
“And Joseph took an oath saying God will surely visit you, and ye
will carry up my bones from hence.”.371
This brings out another characteristic of his faith: the public avowal of it.
Joseph’s faith was no secret thing, hidden in his own heart, about which
others knew nothing. No, though he had occupied for so long an eminent
situation, he was not ashamed to now let others know that he found his
support and confidence in the promises of God. He had been of great
dignity and authority among the Egyptians, and his fame for wisdom and
prudence was great among the nations. It was therefore the more necessary
for him to openly renounce all alliance with them, lest posterity think he
had become an Egyptian. Had he liked and loved the Egyptians, he had
wanted his tomb among them; but his heart was elsewhere.
“And gave commandment concerning his bones.” This was not a
superstitious request, as though it made any difference whether our bodies
be deposited in “consecrated” ground or no. Rather it was:
First, to exhibit his belief in the promises of Jehovah; though he could
not go in person into the land of Canaan, yet he would have his bones
carried thither, and thus symbolically (as it were) take possession of it.
Second, to confirm the hope of his brethren, and thus draw their hearts
from the goodly portion in Goshen. He would sharpen the desire of the
Nation to earnestly aspire after the promised redemption when he was
dead.
Third, to establish a public memorial, by which on all occasions, his
posterity might call to mind the truth of the promise.
Proof that this dying request of Joseph’s was designed as a public
memorial is found in noting a significant change between the wording of

Genesis 50:24 and

Genesis 50:25. In the former, Joseph “said unto
his brethren”; in the latter, he “took an oath of the children of Israel” (cf.

Exodus 13:19): by the heads of their tribes, he brought the whole
people into this engagement — binding on after generations. Thus Joseph
established this monument of his being of the favored seed of Abraham.
Joseph’s requesting his brethren to “take an oath” illustrates the power of
example: cf.

Genesis 47:31! He made reference to his “bones” rather
than to his “body,” because he knew another two centuries must yet run
their course. The whole transaction was an emblematic pledge of the
communion of saints. Though the Christian at death be cut off from his
loved ones on earth, he is introduced unto the spirits of the just in Heaven..372
CHAPTER 70
THE FAITH OF MOSES’ PARENTS
(

HEBREWS 11:23)
“By faith Moses when he was born, was hid three months of his parents.”
A considerable length of time elapsed between what is recorded in the
preceding verse and what is here before us. That interval is bridged by
what is found in

Exodus 1. There we see a marked revolution taking
place in the lot of the Hebrews. In the days of Joseph, the Egyptians had
been kind, giving them the land of Goshen to dwell in. Then followed
another dynasty, and a king arose who “knew not Joseph” — probably a
foreigner who had conquered Egypt. This new monarch was a tyrant of the
worst kind, who sorely oppressed the descendants of Abraham. So subject
to drastic changes are the fortunes both of individuals and nations: hence
the force of those words,
“In the days of prosperity be joyful, in the day of adversity
consider: God also hath set one over against the other, to the end
that man should find nothing after him” (

Ecclesiastes 7:14).
The policy of the new ruler of Egypt quickly became apparent:
“And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of
Israel are more and mightier than we: come on, let us deal wisely
with them, lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that when there
falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies” (

Exodus
1:9, 10).
Ah, but though
“there are many devices in a man’s heart, nevertheless the counsel
of the Lord that shall stand” (

Proverbs 19:21).
So it proved here, for
“the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew”
(

Exodus 1:12)..373
Yes,
“the Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to naught: He maketh
the devices of the people of none effect. The counsel of the Lord
standeth forever, the thoughts of His heart to all generations”
(

Psalm 33:10, 11).
Next, the king of Egypt gave orders to the midwives that every male child
of the Hebrews should be slain at birth (

Exodus 1:15, 16). But all the
laws which men may make against the promises that God has given to His
church, are doomed to certain failure. God had promised unto Abraham a
numerous “seed” (

Genesis 13:15), and had declared to Jacob,
“fear not to go down into Egypt, for I will there make of thee a
great nation” (

Genesis 46:3);
as well, then, might Pharaoh attempt to stop the sun from shining as
prevent the growth of the children of Israel. Therefore do we read,
“But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt
commanded them, but saved the men children alive”
(

Exodus 1:17).
Refusing to accept defeat,
“Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye
shall cast into the river” (

Exodus 1:22).
Now that the execution of this barbarous edict had been entrusted unto his
own people, no doubt Pharaoh imagined that success was fully assured for
his evil design: yet it was at this very season that God brought to the birth
the one who was to emancipate his suffering nation.
“How blind are poor sinful mortals, in all their contrivances against
the church of God. When they think all things secure, and that they
shall not fail of their end, that their counsels are laid so deep as not
to be blown upon, their power so uncontrollable and the way in
which they are engaged so effectual, that God Himself can hardly
deliver it out of their hands; He that sits on high laughs them to
scorn, and with an Almighty facility lays provisions for the
deliverance of His church, and for their ultimate ruin” (John
Owen)..374
“And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born
ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive.
And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a
daughter of Levi, and the woman conceived, and bare a son”
(

Exodus 1:22 and 2:1, 2).
Amram and Jochebed refused to be intimidated by the cruel commandment
of the king, and acted as though no injunction had been issued by him.
Were they reckless and foolish? No indeed, they took their orders from a
far higher authority than any earthly potentate. The fear of the Lord was
upon them, and therefore were they delivered from that fear of man which
bringeth a snare. In covenant relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac
and Jacob, this godly couple from the tribe of Levi allowed not the wrath
of man to disrupt their domestic happiness.
“By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents.”
“It is the faith of Moses’ parents that is here celebrated. But
because it is mentioned principally to introduce the discourse of
himself and his faith, and also that which is spoken belongs unto his
honour; it is thus peculiarly expressed. He saith not ‘By faith the
parents of Moses when he was born, hid him,’ but ‘By faith Moses,
when he was born,was hid three months of his parents’; that is, by
the faith of the parents who hid him” (John Owen).
Ah, here is the explanation of the conduct of Amram and Jochebed: it was
“by faith” they acted: it was a living, supernatural, spiritual faith which
sustained their hearts in this crisis, and kept them “in perfect peace”
(

Isaiah 26:3). Nothing will so quieten the mind and still its fears as a
real trusting in the Lord of hosts.
The birth of Moses occurred during the very height and fury of the attack
that was being made upon the infant males of the Hebrews. Herein we may
discover a striking foreshadowment of the attempt which was made upon
the life of the Christ-child, when, in his efforts to slay Him, Herod gave
orders that all the children in Bethlehem and in all the coasts thereof from
two years old and under, should be slain (

Matthew 2:16). Many a
typical representation of the principal events in the life of the Redeemer is
to be found in the Old Testament, and at scores of points did Moses in
particular prefigure the great Deliverer of His people. It is a deeply
interesting line of study, which we commend to our readers, to go over the.375
history of Moses and note down the many details in which he pictured the
Lord Jesus.
“By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents,
because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the
king’s commandment.” It seems clear from the final clause that Pharaoh
had either given orders that the Hebrews should notify his officers
whenever a male child was born unto them, or that they themselves should
throw him into the river. Instead of complying with this atrocious
enactment, the parents of Moses concealed their infant for three months,
which supplies us with a clear example of “We ought to obey God rather
than men” (

Acts 5:29). It is true that the Lord requires His people to
“be in subjection unto the higher powers” (

Romans 13:1), but this holds
good only so long as the “higher powers” (human governors) require the
Christian to do nothing which God has forbidden, or prohibit nothing
which God has commanded. The inferior authority must always give place
before the superior. As this is a principle of great importance practically,
and one concerning which confusion exists in some quarters, let us amplify
a little.
Holy Scripture must never be made to contradict itself: one of its precepts
must never be pressed so far as to nullify another; each one is to be
interpreted and applied in harmony with the general analogy of faith, and in
the light of the modifications which the Spirit Himself has given. For
example; children are required to honor their parents, yet

Ephesians 6:1
shows that their obedience is to be “in the Lord”; if a parent required
something directly opposed unto Holy Writ, then he is not to be obeyed.
Christian wives are required by God to submit themselves unto their
husbands, and that, “in everything” (

Ephesians 5:24), obeying them
(

1 Peter 3:6); nevertheless, their subjection is to be of the same
character as that of the Church unto Christ (

Ephesians 5:24); and
inasmuch as He never demands anything from the Church which is evil, so
He does not require the wife to obey injunctions which are positively
harmful — if a thoughtless husband should insist on that which would be
highly injurious to his wife’s health, she is to refuse him. Submission does
not mean slavery!
Now the same modification we have pointed out above obtains in
connection with the exhortations of

Romans 13:1-7. In proof, let us cite
a clear example to the point from either Testament. In

Daniel 3 we find.376
that the king of Babylon — the head of the “powers that be” — erected an
image unto himself, and demanded that on a given signal, all must “fall
down and worship” the same (verse 5). But the three Hebrew captives
declared,
“Be it known unto thee O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor
worship the golden image which thou hast set up” (verse 18);
and the Lord vindicated their non-compliance. In

Acts 4 we see Peter
and John arrested by the Jewish “powers,” who, “Commanded them not to
speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus” (verse 18). Did the apostles
submit to this ordinance? No, instead they said,
“Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more
than unto God, judge ye” (verse 19).
As

Romans 13:4 declares, the magistrate is “the minister of God to thee
for good”: should he require that which the Word condemns as evil, he is
not to be obeyed.
And what was it that enabled the parents of Moses to act so boldly and set
at naught the royal edict? Our text furnishes clear answer: it was “by faith”
they acted. Had they been destitute of faith, most probably the “king’s
commandment” would have filled them with dismay, and in order that their
own lives should be spared, would have promptly informed his officers of
the birth of Moses. But instead of so notifying the Egyptians, they
concealed the fact, and though by preserving the child they followed a
course which was highly hazardous to sense, yet under God it became the
path of security. Thus, the particular aspect of our theme which here
receives illustration is the courage and boldness of faith: faith overcoming
the fear of man. That brings before us another characteristic of this
heavenly grace, one which evidences its excellency, and one which should
move us to pray daily for an increase of the same.
Faith is a spiritual grace which enables its possessor to look away from
human terrors, and to confide in an unseen God. It declares,
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the
Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”
(

Psalm 27:1)..377
True it is that this faith is not always in exercise, yea, more often is its
bright shining overcast by the clouds of unbelief, and eclipsed by the murky
dust which Satan raises in the soul. We say, “this faith,” for there are
thousands of professing Christians all around us who boast that their faith
is constantly in exercise, and that they are rarely if ever tormented by
doubts or filled with alarms. Ah, reader, the “faith” of such people is not
“the faith of God’s elect” (

Titus 1:1), entirely dependent upon the
renewing power of the Holy Spirit; no, it is but a natural faith in the bare
letter of Scripture, which by an act of their own will they can call into
exercise whenever they please. But unto such the many “Fear nots” of
God’s Word have no application! But when the dew of Heaven falls upon
the regenerated heart, its language is,
“What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee” (

Psalm 56:3).
Great indeed is the power of a God-given and God-sustained faith: not
only to produce outward works, but to affect the workings of the soul
within. This is something which is not sufficiently considered these days,
when attention is confined almost exclusively to “visible results.” Faith
regulates the affections: it curbs impetuosity and works patience, it chases
away gloom and brings peace and joy, it subdues carnal fears and produces
courage. Moreover, faith not only sustains the hearts under severe trials,
performs difficult duties, but (as the sequel here shows) obtains important
benefits. How pertinent, then, was this particular case unto those to whom
this Epistle was first sent! How well was it calculated to encourage the
sorely-tried and wavering Hebrews to remain faithful to Christ and to trust
God with the issue and outcome!
“By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents.”
Probably two things are included in these words: first, that they concealed
all tidings of his birth; second, that they hid him in some part of the house.
No doubt their diligence was accomplished by fervent cries to God, and the
putting forth of a daily trust in Him. The fact that it was “by faith” that they
“hid” him, shows that real spiritual faith is cautious and wary, and not
reckless and presumptuous. Though faith overcomes carnal fear, yet it does
not disdain the use of lawful means for overcoming danger. It is fanaticism,
and not faith, which tempts God. To needlessly expose ourselves unto
danger is sinful. Faith is no enemy unto lawful means as

Acts 27:31
plainly enough shows..378
It is to be observed that the words of our text go beyond

Exodus 2:2,
where the preserving of Moses is attributed unto his mother. As both the
parents were engaged in the hazard, both had a hand in the work; no doubt
Amram took the lead in advice and contriving, and Jochebed in the actual
execution. As the parents have a joint interest in their children, both should
share in the care and training of them, each seeking to help the other.
Where there is an agreement between husband and wife in faith and in the
fear of God, it makes way for a blessed success in their duties. When
difficult tasks confront husbands and wives, it is their wisdom to apply
themselves unto that part and phase of it which each is best suited for.
“It is a happy thing where yoke-fellows draw together in the yoke
of faith, as the heirs of the grace of God; and where they do this in
a religious concern for the good of their children, to preserve them
not only from those who would destroy their lives, but corrupt their
minds” (Matthew Henry).
The “three months” teaches us that the parents of Moses persevered in that
which they began well. They were prudent from the hour of his birth, and
they maintained their vigilance. It is no use to shut the stable-door when
the horse is gone. Care in preventing danger is to be continued as long as
the danger is threatened. Some, perhaps, may ask, Would it be right for the
people of God today to give shelter to one of His saints or servants who
was being unjustly hounded by “the power that be”? Surely; it is always the
duty of love to shield others from harm. But suppose the hidden one is
being inquired-after by the authorities, may they still be concealed? Yes, if
it is done without the impeachment of the truth, for it is never permissible
to lie- to do so shows a distrust of the sufficiency of God. Should the
officers ask whether you are sheltering one they seek, either remain silent,
or so prudently word your answer as will neither betray the party nor be
guilty of falsehood.
Others may ask, Since God purposed to make Moses the leader of His
people and accomplish such a memorable work through him, why did He
not by some wonderful and powerful miracle preserve him from the rage of
Pharaoh? Answer: God was able to send a legion of angels for his
protection, or to have visibly displayed His might by other means; but He
did not. It is generally God’s pleasure to show His power through weak
and despised means. Thus it was during the infancy of His own incarnate
Son: God warned Joseph by a dream, and he took the young child and His.379
mother into Egypt, remaining there till Herod was dead. Frequently it
pleases the Most High to magnify His providence by things which men
despise, by feeble instruments, and this, that it may the more plainly appear
the excellency of the power is of Him.
In the preservation of the infant Moses, we may see a blessed illustration of
how God preserves His elect through infancy and childhood, and from all
that threatens their existence prior to the time when He regenerates them.
This is expressed in

Jude 1: “Preserved in Jesus Christ and called.” How
blessed is it for the Christian to look back behind the time when God called
him out of the darkness into His marvelous light, and discern His guarding
hand upon him when he was dead in trespasses and sins. There are few if
any of the Lord’s people who cannot recall more than one incident in early
life when there was “but a step” betwixt them and death; yet even then, as
in the case of the infant Moses, a kind Providence was watching over them.
Then let us return thanks for the same.
“By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents,
because they saw he was a proper child: and they were not afraid of the
king’s commandment.” It is really surprising how many of the
commentators, led by sentiment, have quite missed the meaning of this
verse.

Exodus 2:2 states that his mother saw “that he was a goodly
child”: the Hebrew word (“tob”) being the same term whereby God
approved of His works of creation and declared them perfect (

Genesis
1), from which the conclusion has been drawn that, it was the exceeding
fairness or beauty of the babe which so endeared him to his parents they
were moved to disregard the king’s edict, and take special pains to
preserve him. But this is only carnalizing Scripture, in fact, contradicting
what the Holy Spirit has here said.

Hebrews 11:23 distinctly affirms that it was “by faith” the parents of
Moses acted, and this it is which explains their conduct. Now

Romans
10:17 tells us, “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”:
thus Amram and Jochebed must have received a Divine revelation (not
recorded in the O.T.), and this word from God formed the foundation of
their confidence, and supplied the motive-power of what they did. It is true
they knew from the prophecy given to Abram (

Genesis 15) that the time
for the deliverance of Israel from Egypt was drawing near, as they also
knew from the prediction of Joseph (

Genesis 50:24) that God was
going to undertake for His people. Yet we are persuaded that

Hebrews.380
11:23 refers to something more definite and specific. Most probably the
Lord made known to these parents that their child was to be the promised
deliverer, and furnished them beforehand with a description of him.
This revelation which Amram and Jochebed “heard” from God they
believed, and that, before Moses was born. When, in due time, he was
given to them, they “saw he was a proper child” — it was the
discernmentcof faith, and not the mere admiration of nature. As

Acts
7:20 declares “in which time was born Moses, and was beautiful to God”
(Bagster Inter.), which indicates an appearance of something Divine or
supernatural. They recognized he was peculiarly grateful and acceptable to
God: they perceived something remarkable in him, which was the Divine
token to them that he would be the deliverer of Israel.
“Probably there was some mark of future excellency impressed on
the child, which gave promise of something extraordinary” (John
Calvin).
“The beauty of the Lord set upon him as a presage that he was born
to great things, and that by conversing with God his face would
shine (

Exodus 34:29), and what bright and illustrious actions he
should do for the deliverance of Israel, and how his name should
shine in the sacred record” (Matthew Henry).
Resting with implicit confidence upon the revelation which they had
received from Jehovah, their faith now confirmed by God’s mark of
identification upon the babe, the parents of Moses preferred its safety
before their own. It was not simply they trusted God for the outcome, but
in their souls was that faith which is “the substance of things hoped for”
(

Hebrews 11:1), and in consequence “they were not afraid of the king’s
commandments.” Had it been only a natural or human admiration which
they had for a signally beautiful child, then it had been “by affection” or “by
infatuation” they hid the infant; and that would only have intensified their
“fear,” for the more they admired the infant, the more afraid would they
have been of harm befalling it.
Mere beauty is by no means a sure sign of excellency, as

1 Samuel 16:7,

2 Samuel 14:25,

Proverbs 31:30 plainly enough show. No, the infant
Moses was “beautiful to God” (

Acts 7:20), and perceiving this, Amram
and Jochebed acted accordingly. First, they “hid” him for three months,
“and when she could no longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bull-.381
rushes” etc. (

Exodus 2:3): it may be that the Egyptians searched the
houses of the Hebrews every three months. No doubt it was under the
Divine direction that the parents of Moses now acted, for surely the placing
of this precious child by the brink of the fatal “river” (

Exodus 1:22) was
the last thing that carnal reason had suggested! We do not at all agree with
those who think the faith of Moses’ parents wavered when they placed him
in the ark: when one lawful means of preservation from persecution will no
longer secure, it is a duty to betake ourselves unto some other which is
more likely to do so —

Matthew 10:23.
In the kind providence of God, His interests and ours are often twined
together, and then nature is allowed to work; though even then, grace must
bear sway. So it was here: the parents of Moses had received a direct
commandment from God how to act and what to do (as the “by faith”
clearly denotes), and in their case, what He prescribed harmonized with
their own feelings. But sometimes God’s requirements and our natural
affections clash, as was the case when He required Abraham to offer up
Isaac, and then the claims of the lower must yield to the Higher. When the
current of human affection clashes not with God’s express precepts we
may follow it, for He allows us to take in the help of nature:
“a brother beloved… both in the flesh and in the Lord”
(

Philemon 16)..382
CHAPTER 71
THE FAITH OF MOSES
(

HEBREWS 11:24-25)
“The apostle, as we showed before, takes his instances from the three
states of the church under the O.T. The first was that which was
constituted in the giving of the first promise, continuing to the call of
Abraham. Herein his first instance is that of Abel, in whose sacrifice the
faith of that state of the church was first publicly confessed, and by whose
martyrdom it was confirmed. The next state had its beginning and
confirmation in the call of Abraham, with the covenant made with him and
the token thereof. He therefore is the second great instance on the roll of
testimonies. The constitution and consecration of the third state of the
church was in giving of the law; and herein an instance is given in the law-giver
himself. All to manifest, that whatever outward variations the church
was liable to, and pass under, yet faith and the promises were the same, of
the same efficacy and power under them all” (John Owen).
In approaching the careful study of our present verses it is of great
importance to observe that they begin a new section of

Hebrews 11: if
this be not seen, they cannot be interpreted aright. The opening verse of
each section of this chapter takes us back to the beginning of the life of
Faith, and each one presents a different aspect of the nature or character of
saving faith. The first three verses of

Hebrews 11 are introductory, the
fourth beginning the first division. There, in the example of Abel, we see
where the life of faith begins (at conversion), namely with the conscience
being awakened to a consciousness of our lost condition, with the soul
making a complete surrender to God, and with the heart resting upon the
perfect satisfaction made by Christ our Surety. That which is chiefly
emphasized there is faith in the blood. But placing his faith in the blood of
Christ is not all that is done by a sinner when he passes from death unto
life.
The second section of

Hebrews 11 commences at verse 8 where we
have set before us another aspect of conversion, or the starting-point of the.383
Life of Faith. Conversion is the reflex action or effect from a soul which
has received an effectual call from God. This is illustrated by the case of
Abraham, who was, originally, an idolater, as we all were in our
unregenerate state. The Lord of glory appeared unto him, quickened him
into newness of life, delivered him from his former manner of existence,
and gave him the promise of a future inheritance. The response of Abraham
was radical and revolutionary: he set aside his natural inclinations, crucified
his fleshly affections, and entered upon an entirely new path. That which is
central in his case was, implicit obedience, the setting aside of his own
will, and the becoming completely subject to the will of God. But even that
is not all that is done by the sinner when he passes from death unto life.
The case of Moses brings before us yet another side of conversion, or the
beginning of the Life of Faith, a side which is sadly ignored in most of the
“evangelism” of our day. It describes a leading characteristic of saving
faith, which few professing Christians now hear (still less know) anything
about. It shows us that saving faith does something more than “believe” or
“accept Christ as a personal Savior.” It exhibits faith as a definite decision
of the mind, as an act of the will, as a personal and studied choice. It
reveals the fundamental fact that saving faith includes, yea, begins with, a
deliberate renunciation or turning away from all that is opposed to God, a
determination to utterly deny self and an electing to submit unto whatever
trials may be incident to a life of piety. It shows us that a saving faith
causes its possessor to turn away from godless companions, and henceforth
seek fellowship with the despised saints of God.
There is much more involved in the act of saving faith than is generally
supposed.
“We mistake it if we think it only to be a strong confidence. It is so
indeed; but there are other things also. It is such an appreciative
esteem of our Christ and His benefits, that all other things are
lessened in our opinion, estimation, and affection. The nature of
faith is set forth by the apostle when he saith, ‘What things were
gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ; yet, doubtless, and I
count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of
Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all
things, and do count them but dung that I may win Christ; and be
found in Him, not having mine own righteousness which is of the
law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness.384
which is of God by faith; that I may know Him, and the power of
His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made
conformable unto His death’ (

Philippians 3:7-10). And therefore
true faith makes us dead to the world, and all the interests and
honors thereof: and is to be known not so much by our confidence,
as by our mortification and weanedness; when we carry all our
comforts in our hands, as ready to part with them, if the Lord called
us to leave them” (Thomas Manton, 1660).
“By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son
of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people
of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (verses 24, 25).
Here we see the nature and influence of a saving faith. Two things are to
be particularly noted: in it there is an act of relinquishment, and an act of
embracing. In conversion, there is a turning from, and also a turning unto.
Hence, before the sinner is invited to “return unto the Lord,” he is first
bidden to “forsake his way,” yes, his way — having “his own way.” So too
we are called on to “repent” first, and then “be converted,” that our sins
may be “blotted out” (

Acts 3:19).
“If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself”
(

Matthew 16:24).
What is meant by the denying of “self”? This, the abridging ourselves of
those things which are pleasing to the flesh. There are three things which
are chiefly prized by the natural man–life, wealth, and honor; and so in the
verses which immediately follow, Christ propounded three maxims to
counter them.
First, he says,
“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; and whosoever will
lose his life for My sake shall find it” (verse 25):
that is, he who thinks first and foremost of his own life, whose great aim is
to minister unto “number one,” shall perish.]
Second,
“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and
lose his own soul?” (verse 26):
showing us the comparative worthlessness of earthly riches..385
Third,
“For the Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His
angels; and then shall He reward every man according to his
works” (verse 27):
that is the honor we should seek.
“By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son
of Pharaoh’s daughter.” Here was a notable case of self-denial: Moses
deliberately renounced the privileges and pleasures of a royal palace. It was
not that he was now disowned and cast out by the woman who had
adopted him; but that he voluntarily relinquished a position of affluence
and ease, disdaining both its wealth and dignities. Nor was this the rash
impulse of an inexperienced youth, but the studied decision of one who had
now reached the age of forty (

Acts 7:23). The disciples said, “We have
forsaken all, and followed Thee” (

Matthew 19:27): their “all” was a net
and fishing-smack; but Moses abandoned a principality!
The denying of self is absolutely essential; and where it exists not, grace is
absent. The first article in the covenant is, “thou shalt have no other gods
before Me”: He must have the pre-eminence in our hearts and lives. God
has not the glory of God unless we honor Him thus. Now God does not
have the uppermost place in our hearts until His favor be esteemed above
all things, and until we dread above everything the offending of Him. As
long as we can break with God in order to preserve any worldly interest of
ours, we prefer that interest above God. If we are content to offend God
rather than displease our friends or relatives, then we are greatly deceived
if we regard ourselves as genuine Christians.
“He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of
Me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy
of Me” (

Matthew 10:37).
“Faith is a grace that will teach a man to openly renounce all
worldly honors, advantages, and preferments, with the advantage
annexed thereto. When God calls us from them, we cannot enjoy
them with a good conscience” (Thos. Manton).
We are often put to the test of having to choose between God and things,
duty and pleasure, heeding our conscience or gratifying the flesh. The
presence and vigor of faith is to be proved by our self-denial! It is easy to.386
speak contemptuously of the world and earthly things, but what is my first
care? Is it to seek God or temporal prosperity? To please Him or self? If I
am hankering after an increase in wages, or a better position, and am fretful
because of disappointment, it is a sure proof that a worldly spirit governs
me. What is my chief delight? earthly riches, honors, comforts, or
communion with God? Can I truly say, “For a day in Thy courts is better
than a thousand” (

Psalm 84:10)?
“All believers are not called to make the same sacrifices, or to
endure the same trials for righteousness’ sake, nor have all the same
measure of faith; yet, without some experience and consciousness
of this kind, we are not warranted to conclude that we are of
Moses’ religion; for a common walking-stick more resembles
Aaron’s fruitful rod, than the faith of many modern professors of
evangelical truth does the self-denying faith of Moses or Abraham”
(Thomas Scott).
The faith of God’s elect is a faith which “overcomes the world” (

1 John
5:4), and not one which suffers its possessor to be overcome! “They that
are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts”
(

Galatians 5:24); not ought to, but have done so — in some real
measure at least!
The great refusal of Moses consisted in a firm resolution of mind not to
remain in that state wherein he had been brought up. This was not attained,
we may be sure, without a hard fight, without the exercise of faith in prayer
and trust in God. He knew full well all that his decision involved, yet, by
grate, made it unhesitatingly. His resolution was made known not by a
formal avowal, but by deeds, for actions ever speak louder than words.
There is no hint in the sacred record that Moses verbally acquainted his
foster-mother
with his decision, but his converse with his brethren (

Exodus 2:11 etc.)
revealed where his heart was, and identified him with their religion and
covenant. Ah, dear reader, it is one thing to talk well about the things of
God, but it is quite another to walk accordingly; as it is one thing to pen
articles and deliver sermons, and quite another to practice what we preach!
Not only was Moses’ renunciation of his favored position a grand triumph
over the lusts of the flesh, but it was also a notable victory over carnal
reason. First of all, his action would seem to indicate the height of.387
ingratitude against his foster-mother. Pharaoh’s daughter had spared his
life as an infant, brought him into her own home, reared him as her son,
and had him educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians. For him to turn
his back upon her now would appear as though he was devoid of
appreciation — so little is the natural man able to understand the motives
which regulate the workings of faith. The truth is that, the commandments
of the second table are binding upon us no further than our compliance
with them is agreeable to our obedience unto the commandments of the
first table. The saint is neither to accept favors from the world, nor to
express gratitude for the same, if such be contrary to the fear of God, and
the maintenance of a good conscience.
We are never to be dutiful to man at the expense of being undutiful to God.
All relations must give way before preserving a clear conscience toward
Him. His rights are paramount, and must be recognized and responded to,
no matter how much the doing so may clash with our seeming obligations
unto our fellows. A friend or kinsman may be entertaining me in his home,
and show me much kindness through the week, but that will not justify or
require me to join him on a picnic or frolic on the Sabbath day.
“If any man come to Me, and hate not his father, and mother, and
wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life
also, he cannot be My disciple” (

Luke 14:26).
The language of the Christian ought ever to be, “wist ye not that I must be
about my Father’s business?” (

Luke 2:49).
To enjoy worldly honors is not evil in itself, for good men have lived in bad
courts. Daniel is a clear case in point: most of his life was spent in high
civic office. When Divine providence has given worldly riches or worldly
prestige to us, they are to be entertained and enjoyed, yet with a holy
jealousy and prayerful watchfulness that we be not puffed up by them,
remembering that,
“Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide
the spoil with the proud” (

Proverbs 16:19).
But such things are to be renounced when they are sinful in themselves, or
when they cannot be retained with a clear conscience. Against his
conscience, Pilate preferred to condemn Christ than lose Caesar’s
friendship, and stands before us in Holy Writ as a lasting warning..388
“Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed
is willing, but the flesh is weak” (

Matthew 26:41).
Again; not only did Moses’ great refusal seem like gross ingratitude unto
her who had adopted him, but it also looked like flying in the face of
Providence. It was God who had placed him where he was; why, then,
should he forsake such an advantageous position? Had Moses leaned unto
his own understanding and listened to the dictates of carnal reason, he had
found many pretexts for remaining where he then was. Why not stay there
and seek to reform Egypt? Why not use his great influence with the king
on behalf of the oppressed Hebrews? Had he remained in the court of
Pharaoh, he would escape much affliction; yes, and miss too the
“recompense of the reward.” Ah, my reader, unbelief is very fertile, argues
very plausibly, and can suggest many logical reasons why we should not
practice self-denial!
What was it, then, which prompted Moses to make this noble sacrifice? A
patriotic impulse? a fanatical love for his brethren? No, he was guided
neither by reason nor sentiment: it was “by faith” that Moses refused to be
called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. It was the clinging of his heart to the
Divine promise, the apprehension of things not seen by the outward eye,
the confident expectation of future reward. Ah, it is faith which imparts to
the heart a true estimate of things, which views objects in their real light,
and which discerns the comparative worthlessness of what the poor
worldling prizes so highly, and through his mad quest after which he loses
his soul. Faith views the eternity to come, and when faith is in healthy
exercise, its possessor finds it easy to relinquish the baubles of time and
sense. Then it is the saint exclaims.
“Surely every man walketh in a vain show: surely they are
disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches and knoweth not who shall
gather them” (

Psalm 39:6).
What a truly remarkable thing that one in Egypt’s court should have such a
“faith”! Moses had been brought up in a heathen palace, where there was
no knowledge of the true God; yea, nothing but idolatry, wantonness, and
profanity. Yes, some of Christ’s sheep are situated in queer and unexpected
places, nevertheless the Shepherd seeks them out, and either delivers them
from or sustains them in it: the wife of “Herod’s steward” (

Luke 8:3),
the saints in Nero’s “household” (

Philippians 4:22) are notable
examples. What illustrations are these of.389
“The Lord shall send the rod of Thy strength out of Zion: rule
Thou in the midst of Thine enemies” (

Psalm 110:2)!
However His enemies may rage, seek to blot out His name and root out
His kingdom, Christ shall preserve a remnant according to the election of
grace “even where Satan’s throne is” (

Revelation 2:13).
Some one may object,
“But Joseph had faith as well as Moses, yet he did not leave the
court, but continued there till his death.” Circumstances alter cases!
Their occasions and conditions were not alike. “God raised up
Joseph to feed His people in Egypt, therefore his abode in the court
was necessary under kings that favored them; but Moses was called
not to feed His people in Egypt, but to lead them out of Egypt; and
the king of Egypt was now become their enemy, and kept them
under bitter bondage. To remain in an idolatrous court of a pagan
prince is one thing; but to remain in a persecuting court, where he
must be accessory to their persecutions, is another thing” (T.
Manton).
“Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to
enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (verse 25).
This gives us the positive side of Moses’s glorious decision. There is both a
negative and a positive side to faith. First, a refusing, and then a choosing,
and that order is unchanging. There must be a “ceasing to do evil” before
there can be a “learning to do well” (

Isaiah 1:16, 17); there must be a
“hating the evil” before there is a “loving the good” (

Amos 5:15); there
must be a “confessing and forsaking” of sin, before there is “mercy”
(

Proverbs 28:13). The prodigal must leave the far country, before he
can go to the Father (

Luke 15). The sinner must abandon his idols,
before he can take up the Cross and follow Christ (

Mark 10:21). There
must be a turning to God, “from idols,” before there can be a “serving the
living and true God” (

1 Thessalonians 1:9). The heart must turn its back
upon the world, before it can receive Christ as Lord and Savior.
“Moses gave up the world; and ambition had the prospect of honor
and greatness; the culture of the most civilized state was fascinating
to the mind; treasure and wealth held out potent allurement. And all
this — and does it not comprise ‘all that is in the world,’ and in its
most attractive and elevated manner? — Moses gave up. And, on.390
the other side, what awaited him? To join a down-trodden nation of
slaves, whose only riches was the promise of the invisible God”
(Adolph Saphir).
A man is known by his choice. Do you do evil for a little profit? Do you
avoid duty because of some trifling inconvenience? Are you turned out of
the way because of reproach?
Moses preferred to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy
the pleasures of sin for a brief season. Do you? He judged it the greatest
misery of all to live in sin. Do you? Here is an important test: which gives
you greater grief, sin or bodily affliction? Which troubles you the more:
suffering loss in the world, or displeasing God? There are thousands of
professing Christians who complain of their physical aches and pains, but
how rarely do we hear any groaning over the body of sin and death! When
you are afflicted in the body, which is your dominant desire: to be freed
from the suffering, or for God to sanctify the suffering unto the good of
your soul? Ah, my reader, what real and supernatural difference is there
between you and the moral worldling? Is it only in your creed, what you
believe with the intellect? “The demons believe.”
Yes, it is our refusal and our choice which identifies us, which makes it
manifest whether we are children of the devil or children of God. It is the
property of a gracious heart to prefer the greatest suffering — physical,
mental, or social — to the least sin: and when sin is committed, it is
repudiated, sorrowed over, confessed, and forsaken. When “suffering” is
inflicted upon saints by persecutors, the offense is done unto us; but “sin”
is committed against God! “Sin” separates from God (

Isaiah 59:2),
“suffering” drives the Christians nearer to God. “Affliction” only affects the
body, “sin” injures the soul. “Affliction” is from God (

Hebrews 12:5-
11), but “sin” is from the devil. But naught save a real, spiritual,
supernatural faith will prefer suffering affliction with the people of God,
than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.
“None of the exemplifications of the importance of believing,
brought forth by the apostle, is better fitted to serve his purpose
than that which we have been considering. The Hebrew Christians
were called on to part with an honor which they were accustomed
to value above all other dignities. They were excommunicated by
their unbelieving brethren, and denied the name of true children of
Abraham. Their unbelieving countrymen were enjoying wealth and.391
honor. The little flock they were called on to join were suffering
affliction and reproach. Now, how is this to be done? Look at
Moses. Believe as Moses believed, and you will find it easy to
judge, choose, and act as Moses did. If you believe what Christ has
plainly revealed, that ‘it is His Father’s good pleasure to give’ His
little flock, after passing through much tribulation, ‘the kingdom’; if
you are persuaded that, according to His declaration, ‘wrath is
coming to the uttermost’ on their oppressors, you will not hesitate
to separate yourselves completely from your unbelieving country-men.
“The practical bearing of the passage is not confined to the Hebrew
converts, or to the Christians of the primitive age. In every country,
and in every age, Jesus proclaims ‘If any man would be My disciple
he must deny himself, he must take up the cross, and follow Me.’
The power of the present world can only be put down by ‘the
power of the world to come’; and as it is through sense that the
first power operates on our minds, it is through faith alone that the
second power can operate on our minds. Some find it impossible to
make the sacrifices Christianity requires, because they have no
faith. They must be made; otherwise our Christianity is but a name,
our faith is but a pretense, and our hope a delusion” (John Brown)..392
CHAPTER 72
THE FAITH OF MOSES
(

HEBREWS 11:25-26)
“The person here instanced as one that lived by faith, is Moses. And
an eminent instance it is to his purpose, especially in his dealings
with the Hebrews, and that on sundry accounts.
1. Of his person. None was ever in the old world more signalized by
Providence in his birth, education, and actions, than he was. Hence his
renown was both then, and in all ages after, very great in the world.
The report and estimation of his acts and wisdom, were famous among
all the nations of the earth. Yet this person lived and acted, and did all
his works by faith.
2. Of his great work, which was the typical redemption of the church.
A work it was great in itself; so God expresseth it to be, and such as
was never wrought in the earth before (

Deuteronomy 4:32-34). Yet
greater in the typical respect which it had to His eternal redemption of
the Church by Jesus Christ.
3. On the account of his office. He was the lawgiver, whence it is
manifest, that the law is not opposite to faith, seeing the lawgiver
himself lived thereby” (John Owen).
Each example of faith supplied by the Holy Spirit in

Hebrews 11
presents a distinctive feature or fruit of that spiritual grace. The faith which
is here described is saving faith, without which no man is accepted by God
(see verse 6). It is true that all Christians are not given the same measure of
faith, nor do all of them manifest it in the same manner. All flowers are not
of the same hue, nor are they equally fragrant; yet every variety differs
radically from weeds! Not every saint is called upon to build an ark, offer
up his son in sacrifice, or forsake a palace; nevertheless, there is that in the
heart and life of every regenerate soul which plainly distinguishes him from
those who are dead in trespasses and sins, and which clearly bears the mark.393
of the supernatural–there is that in him which mere nature does not and
cannot bring forth.
While it be true that very few Christians are called upon to leave a palace,
yet every one who would become a Christian is required to forsake the
world: not physically, but morally. God does not bid us become hermits, or
enter a convent or monastery — that is only the Devil’s perversion of the
truth of separation; but He does insist that the sinner must cast away the
idols of the world, turn from its vain pleasures, cease walking in its evil
ways, and set his affections upon things above. Scripture is unmistakably
plain upon this point, declaring,
“Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?
whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world, is the enemy of
God” (

James 4:4).
That which was adumbrated by Moses in our present passage was, the
heart’s renunciation of a vain and perishing world, and giving God His true
place in the affections.
In our last article we saw how Moses voluntarily relinquished his position
of a nobleman in Pharaoh’s court, and preferred to have fellowship with
the despised and suffering people of God. In this he was a blessed type of
Him who was rich, yet for our sakes became poor, who descended from
the glory of Heaven, and was born in a manger; who laid aside His robes of
majesty, and took upon Him the form of a servant. And my reader, His
people are predestinated “to be conformed to” His image (

Romans
8:29). He has left them an example, and there is no other route to Heaven,
but by “following His steps”: see

John 10:4! There is a real and
practical oneness between the Head and the members of His mystical body,
and that practical oneness consists in self-sacrifice. Unless the spirit of
self-sacrifice rules my heart, I am no Christian!
The way to Heaven is a “narrow” one and the entrance to it is “strait,” and
few there be that find it (

Matthew 7:13, 14). Because that way is
“narrow,” opposed to all the inclinations of flesh and blood, Christ bids us
to “sit down and count the cost” (

Luke 14:31) before we start out. The
“cost” is far too high for all who have never had a miracle of grace
wrought within them, for it includes the cutting off of a right hand and the
plucking out of a right eye (

Matthew 5:29, 30)–that is why

1 Peter
4:18 asks, “If the righteous scarcely be saved (or “with difficulty be.394
saved”) where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear”! Few indeed are,
like Moses, willing to pay the “cost.” Alas, the vast majority, even in
Christendom, are like Esau (

Hebrews 12:16) or the Gadarenes
(

Mark 5:14, 15) —they prefer to indulge the flesh rather than deny it.
The difficulty of salvation, or the “straitness” of the gate and the
“narrowness” of the way which leadeth into Life, was strikingly prefigured
by the alluring temptations and carnal obstacles which had to be overcome
by Moses. As we pointed out in our last article, his noble decision not only
involved the leaving of Pharaoh’s palace, the apparent ingratitude toward
his foster-mother, the ignoring of the precedent set up by Joseph; but, it
also meant the throwing in his lot with a despised people, enduring all the
discomforts and hardships of their wilderness wanderings, and the bringing
down upon his head not only the contempt of his former associates, but
having to endure the murmurings and criticisms of the Hebrews
themselves. Ah, my reader, such a choice as Moses made was altogether
contrary to flesh and blood, and can be accounted for only on the ground
that a miracle of Divine grace had been wrought within him. As our Lord
declared,
“With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible”
(

Matthew 19:26).
From what has been said above, is it not unmistakably evident that as great
a distance as that which separates heaven from earth divides Scriptural
“Conversion” from that which goes under the name of “conversion” in the
vast majority of the so-called “churches” today! A genuine and saving
Conversion is a radical and revolutionary experience. It is vastly more than
the taking up of a sound creed, believing what the Bible says about Christ,
or joining some religious assembly. It is something which strikes down to
the very roots of a man’s being, causing him to make an unreserved
surrender of himself to the claims of God, henceforth seeking to please and
glorify Him. This issues, necessarily, in a complete break from the world,
and the former manner of life; in other words,
“if any man be in Christ, he is new creature: old things are passed
away; behold all things are become new” (

2 Corinthians 5:17).
“By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called
the son of Pharaoh’s daughter” (verse 24)..395
It is the first two words of this verse which supply an adequate explanation
of the noble conduct of Moses here. A God-given faith is occupied with
something better than the things of sight and sense, and therefore does it
discern clearly the utter vanity of worldly greatness and honor. Faith has to
do with God, and when the mind be truly stayed upon Him, neither the
riches nor the pleasures of earth can attract, still less enthrawl. Faith relies
upon and is obedient unto a personal revelation from on High, for “faith
cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (

Romans 10:17).
Moses had “heard,” Moses “believed,” Moses acted on what he had heard
from God.
“Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to
enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (verse 25).
Yes, each of us has to choose between life and death (

Deuteronomy
30:15), between sin and holiness, between the world and Christ, between
fellowship with the children of God and friendship with the children of the
Devil. When Moses took the part of an Israelite against an Egyptian
(

Exodus 2), he declared plainly that he preferred the former to the
latter, that the promises of God meant far more to him than the fame or
luxury of an earthly court. Yet at that time the seed of Abraham were in an
exceedingly low state, nevertheless Moses knew that the promises which
God had made unto the patriarchs could not fail.
That was faith indeed: to willingly forego the attractive prospects which
lay before him in the land of the Nile, and deliberately prefer a path of
hardship. What he had “heard” from God was to him so grand, so great, so
glorious, that, after thoughtfully balancing the one over against the other,
Moses rejected material aggrandisement for spiritual riches: he considered
it to be a far higher honor to be a child of Abraham than to be called the
son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He might have reasoned that “a bird in the
hand is worth two in the bush,” and have “made the most of his (present)
opportunity,’’ rather than have set his heart on an unseen future; but the
spirit triumphed over the flesh. O how we need to pray for grace to enable
us to “approve things that are excellent,” that we may be “sincere and
without offence till the day of Christ” (

Philippians 1:10).
It is to be duly noted that Moses elected to suffer affliction with the
Hebrews not because they were his people, but because they were God’s
people. “The object of his choice was God; the One who chose his fathers,
who revealed to them His truth and grace, and commanded them to walk.396
before Him without fear; the God who was not ashamed to be called their
God, and to whom he had been dedicated in his infancy” (Adolph Saphir).
Observe that fellowship with “the people of God” necessarily involves, in
some form or other, “affliction.” Yes, God has ordained that “we must
through much tribulation enter into His kingdom” (

Acts 14:22), and
declares,
“all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution”
(

2 Timothy 3:12).
But why should this be so? Why has not God appointed a smoother path
and a pleasanter lot for His high favorites while they pass through this
world? We subjoin one or two of the many answers which may be returned
to this question.
God has decreed that the general state of His people on earth shall be one
of hardship, opposition, persecution.
First, to arouse them to spiritual diligence. He has told them in His
Word “This is not your rest” (

Micah 2:10), nevertheless there is a
tendency in us to settle down here. Again and again God bids us to
watch and pray, to be sober and vigilant, alert and active; but only too
often His exhortations fall on deaf ears. The “wise virgins” slumbered
and slept as well as the “foolish” ones, and need awakening; because
they will not heed such calls as are found in

Romans 13:11,

Ephesians 5:14 etc. He uses the Enemy to arouse us.
Second, to wean us from the world: because there is that in us which
still loves the world, God, in His mercy, often stirs them up to hate us.
Third, to conform us more fully unto the image of Christ: the Head
endured the contradiction of sinners against Himself, and His body is
called to have “fellowship in His sufferings.”
The “pleasures of sin” in verse 25 has immediate reference to the riches
and dignities of Pharaoh’s court, which Moses could no longer enjoy
without being unfaithful to God and His people. To have gone on living in
the palace, would be despising Jehovah and His covenant with Abraham’s
seed. It would have been preferring his own advancement and ease rather
than the deliverance of his people; he would have been conducting himself
as a worldling, rather than as a stranger and pilgrim in this scene; and
worse, he would have been conniving at Pharaoh’s cruel treatment of the.397
Hebrews. Moreover, to have resisted the impulse of the Spirit on his heart
would have been sin. This shows us that things which are not sinful in
themselves, become so when used or enjoyed at the wrong time. Every
thing is beautiful in its season: “There is a time to weep, and a time to
laugh” (

Ecclesiastes 3:4).
The principle we have just enunciated above is of great practical
importance. Material things become snares if employed intemperately. God
has granted us permission to “use” the things of this world, but has
forbidden the “abuse” of them (

1 Corinthians 7:31). Temporal blessings
become a curse if they are allowed to hinder us from the discharge of duty.
All associations must be severed which deter us from having fellowship
with the saints. Personal ease and comfort is to be set aside when our
brethren are “suffering afflictions” and need a helping hand. Alas, only God
knows how many professing Christians have continued to enjoy the
luxuries of life, while thousands were without some of the bare necessities
of life.
Everything which is severed from true Godliness is included in this
expression “the pleasures of sin.” Temporal mercies are to be enjoyed with
thankfulness to God, but only so far and so long as they help to promise a
true following of the example which Christ has left us. Alas, how many are
seeking their happiness in the things of the flesh, rather than in the things of
the Spirit. Scripture says,
“Better is little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure and
trouble therewith” (

Proverbs 15:16)
— but how few believe it! Mark it well, dear reader, the “pleasures of sin”
are only for “a season,” and a solemnly brief season at that: they must end
either in speedy repentance or speedy ruin. How blessed is the contrast
presented in

Psalm 16:11, “At Thy right hand there are pleasures for
evermore”! Is my heart set upon them? If so, I am making it my chief
concern, every day, to walk along the only path which leads to them.
“Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures
in Egypt” (verse 26).
Here the Holy Spirit mentions a third instance of Moses’ contempt of the
world: first, of its honors (verse 24), then of its pleasures (verse 25), now,
of its wealth. Note the emphatic graduation in the decision of Moses as
intimated in the three verbs: first, he “refused” to be any longer.398
acknowledged as the adopted son of Egypt’s princess. Second, he “chose”
or deliberately elected to become identified with and throw in his lot
among the despised and suffering people of God. Third, he “esteemed” the
reproach this involved, as high above that which he relinquished and
renounced. The same Greek word is rendered “judged” in verse 11,
showing that it was no rash conclusion which he jumped to hastily, but that
it was the mature consideration of his mind and heart. Another has
compared the three verbs here with

Mark 4:28: “First the blade, then
the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.”
This 26th verse is an amplification of what is found in the 24th and 25th,
and announces both the intelligence of Moses’ choice and the fervor of
spiritual affection which prompted it. The decision that he made was not a
reluctant and forced one, but ready and joyous. It was not merely he
perceived that identifying himself with the Hebrews was a bounden duty,
and therefore he must “make the best of a bad job” and put up with the
hardships such a course entailed, but that he gladly preferred the same —
Christ meaning infinitely more to him than everything which was to be
found in Egypt. Reader, is the denying of self and taking up of the cross
something which you grudgingly perform, or does the “love of Christ
constrain” (

2 Corinthians 5:14) you thereto? Can you, in your measure,
say with the apostle,
“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in
necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake”
(

2 Corinthians 12:10)?
What is meant here by “the reproach of Christ”? The Savior was not born
till many centuries later; true, but those whom the Father gave to Him
before the foundation of the world, were, from Abel onwards, well
acquainted with Him: see

John 8:56. Christ had a being before He was
born of the virgin: we read of Israel “tempting Christ” in the wilderness
(

1 Corinthians 10:9). From the beginning, Christ was Head of the
Church, and in His own person led His own people, and was present in
their midst, under the name of “the Angel of the Covenant.” Let the
interested reader carefully ponder the terms of

Exodus 23:20-22, and it
should be plain that no created “angel” is there in view. Thus, whatever
that people suffered, it was the reproach “of Christ,” who had taken them
under His protection. There was a communion between Christ and His
people, as real and as intimate as that union and communion which exists.399
between Him and His people now: weigh well

Isaiah 63:9,

Zechariah
2:8, and compare with

Acts 9:4,

Matthew 25:34 and clear proof of
this will be obtained.
The “reproach of Christ,” then, signifies first, Christ personally as
identified with His people. Second, it has reference to Christ mystically,
His redeemed as one with Him in humiliation and persecution. “Christ and
the church were considered from the beginning, as one mystical body; so as
that what the one underwent, the other is esteemed to undergo the same”
(John Owen). In marriage the wife takes the name and status of her
husband, because they have become “one flesh”: in like manner, the Church
is called “Christ” in

1 Corinthians 12:12,

Galatians 3:16 because of
its union and communion with Him, because of the likeness and sympathy
between them. Nor was this blessed mystery kept concealed — as modem
“dispensationalists” wrongly declare — from the O.T. saints, as a careful
comparison of

Jeremiah 23:6 with

Jeremiah 33:16 makes very
evident. Moses had “heard” from God that the Hebrews were His people,
and the remnant among them “according to the election of grace” were
ordained to be “joint heirs with Christ,” and believing what he heard, he
voluntarily and gladly decided to throw in his lot with them.
That the mystical body of Christ, the Church, is in view here in

Hebrews 11:26 — for the Head and His members can never be
separated, though they may be viewed distinctly — is abundantly clear by a
careful comparison of the preceding clauses. Verses 25 and 26 are
obviously parallel, and explain one another. In the former we are told that,
Moses “chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to
enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” Thus, there is a threefold
parallelism: the “reproach of verse 26 agrees with and is interpreted by the
“suffering affliction” of verse 25, “the Christ” of verse 26 corresponds with
and is defined by “the people of God” in verse 25; and the “treasures of
Egypt” balances with and explains the “pleasures of sin for a season.”
“For he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.” This was what
strengthened and supported the faith of Moses. He had never forsaken the
honors and comforts of the palace unless his heart had been fixed upon the
eternal recompense. Faith realizes that peace of conscience is better than a
big bank-balance, that communion with God is infinitely to be preferred
above the favors of an earthly court. Moses knew that he would be no
loser by such a choice: faith sees that nothing is lost which is quitted for.400
Christ’s sake — though the name of Moses was removed from Egypt’s
records, it has been accorded a prominent place upon the imperishable
pages of Holy Writ. See here the vast difference between worldlings and
saints; the former estimate things by sight, the latter by faith; the former
through the colored glass of corrupt reason and carnal sense, the latter by
the light of God’s Word. Thus they wonder at each other: the worldling
thinks the real Christian is crazy, the Christian knows the poor worldling is
spiritually insane.
The heart of Moses was set upon something more blessed than the
perishing things he was relinquishing. The “he had respect” is a compound
in the Greek, and properly signifies to look from one thing to another: he
looked from the things of time to those of eternity, for “faith is the
substance of those things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”: cf.

2 Corinthians 4:17. This is one of the great properties of faith: to
frequently and trustfully ponder the promise of Eternal Life, which we are
to dwell in forever after this scene of sin is left behind. Faith perceives that
the way to “save” is to “lose” (

Matthew 16:25), that present self-denial
will yet be honored by enrichment, knowing that if now we suffer with
Christ we shall be “also glorified together” (

Romans 8:17). How this
condemns the practice of many who spend their lives in the greedy pursuit
of the world, with no regard to God or their eternal interests, but think that
if they call on Him for mercy with their last gasp, all will be well. Such
people terribly deceive themselves by failing to see that Eternal Life is a
“reward” — see

Luke 1:74, 75: we must labor in the works of
godliness in this life.
That which Moses had “respect unto” is here called “the recompense of the
reward.” This is the all-sufficient presence of God with His people now
(

Genesis 15:1), and the great and final reward of Eternal Glory which is
given by God, and received by His people as a compensation for all their
sufferings. This is one of the N.T. passages which proves the O.T. saints
had a much clearer understanding of the future state of the redeemed than
is now commonly supposed. For the reward of good works, see

Hebrews 6:9, of patience,

Hebrews 6:12, of suffering,

Hebrews
10:34. The calling of Heaven a “reward” in nowise imports any desert on
man’s part, but abundant kindness in God, who will not suffer anything to
be done or endured for Christ’s sake without recompense. It is called a
“reward” to encourage obedience (

Psalm 19:11) and allure our hearts
(

Matthew 5:12). That a gift may. be a “reward” is clear from.401

Colossians 3:24. It is also called a “reward” because it is God’s owning
of the Spirit’s work in and through His people. Since eternal glory is a
“reward” let us be patient under present suffering:

Romans 8:18. It is
legitimate to view the reward of Heaven while serving here — not that this
is to be the chief or only motive (for that would be a religion of
selfishness), but as faith’s anticipation: cf.

Philippians 3:8-14. The
reward is
“gratuitous that God hath annexed to faith and obedience, not
merited or deserved by them, but infallibly annexed unto them in a
way of sovereign bounty” (John Owen)..402
CHAPTER 73
THE FAITH OF MOSES
(

HEBREWS 11:26-27)
In our last two articles (upon

11:24-26) we had before us the striking
example of the power of faith to rise above the honors, riches, and
pleasures of the world; now we are to behold it triumphing over its terrors.
Faith not only elevates the heart above the delights of sense, but it also
delivers it from the fear of man. Faith and fear are opposites, and yet,
strange to say, they are often found dwelling within the same breast; but
where one is dominant the other is dormant. The constant attitude of the
Christian should be, “Behold, God is my salvation: I will trust, and not be
afraid” (

Isaiah 12:2). But alas, what ought to be, and what is, are two
vastly different things. Nevertheless, when the grace of faith is in exercise,
its language is, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee” (

Psalm
56:3). So it was with Moses: he is here commended for his courage.
The leading feature of that particular working of Moses’ faith which we are
now to consider was its durability. That which engaged our attention on
the last two occasions occurred when our hero had “come to years.” Forty
years had elapsed since then, during which he passed through varied
experiences and sore trials. But now that he is eighty years of age, faith is
still active within him. That spiritual grace moved him to withstand the
attractions of Egypt’s court, had led him to relinquish a position of high
honor and wealth, had caused him to throw in his lot with the despised
people of God; and now we behold faith enabling him to endure the wrath
of the King. A God-given faith not only resists temptations, but it also
endures trials, and refuses to be daunted by the gravest dangers. Faith not
only flourishes under the dews of the Spirit, but it survives the fires of
Satanic assault.
True faith neither courts the smiles of men nor shuns their frowns. Herein it
differs radically from that natural faith, which is all that is possessed by
thousands who think they are children of God. Only yesterday we received
a letter in which a friend wrote,.403
“I know some professing Christians who boasted that the prospect of being
out of work did not trouble them at all: for they knew every need would be
supplied. Now that they have no work, they are not nearly so confident,
but are wondering how in the world they are going to get along.” So too
we read of the stony ground hearer,
“The same is he that heareth the Word, and anon with joy receiveth
it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for awhile: for when
tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the Word, by and by
he is offended” (

Matthew 13:20, 21).
Far otherwise was it with Moses.
“By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he
endured, as seeing Him who is invisible.” Moses left Egypt on two
different occasions, and there is some diversity of opinion among the
commentators as to which of them is here in view. Personally, we think
there is little or no room for doubt that the Holy Spirit did not have
reference unto the first, for we are told,
“And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known. Now
when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But
Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of
Midian” (

Exodus 2:14, 15).
There he fled as the criminal, here he went forth as the commander of
God’s people! then he left Egypt in terror, but now “by faith.”
There are some, however, who find difficulty in the fact that Moses’
leaving of Egypt is here mentioned before his keeping of the passover and
sprinkling of the blood in 5:28. But this difficulty is self-created, by
confining our present text unto a single event, instead of understanding it
to refer unto the whole conduct of Moses: his forsaking of Egypt is a
general expression, which includes all his renouncing a continuance therein
and his steady determination to depart therefrom. So too his “not fearing
the wrath of the king” must not be restricted unto the state of his heart
immediately following the Exodus, but also takes in his resolution and
courage during the whole of his dealings with Pharaoh. And herein we may
perceive again the stability of his faith, which withstood the most fiery
ordeals, and which remained steadfast to the end. Thus did he supply a
blessed illustration of.404
“Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation,
ready to be revealed in the last time” (

1 Peter 1:5).
The experiences through which Moses passed and the testings to which his
faith was subjected, were no ordinary ones. First, he was bidden to enter
the presence of Pharaoh and say,
“Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Let My people go, that they
may hold a feast unto Me in the wilderness” (

Exodus 5:1).
Let it be duly considered that for forty years Moses had lived the life of a
shepherd in Midian, and now, with no army behind him, with none in
Egypt’s court ready to second his request, he has to make this demand of
the haughty monarch who reigned over the greatest empire then on earth.
Such a task called for no ordinary faith. Nor did he meet with a favorable
reception; instead, we are told
“And Pharaoh said, Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice
to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go”
(

Exodus 5:2).
Not only did the idolatrous king refuse point-blank to grant Moses’
request, but he said,
“Wherefore do ye, Moses and Aaron, hinder the people from their
work? get you unto your burdens… Ye shall no more give the
people straw to make brick, as heretofore: let them go and gather
straw for themselves” (

Exodus 5:4, 7).
Well might the heart of the stoutest quake under such circumstances as
these. To add to his troubles the heads of the Israelites came unto Moses
and said,
“The Lord look upon you, and judge; because ye have made our
savor to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his
servants, to put a sword in their hand to slay us” (

Exodus 5:21).
Ah, faith must be tested; nor must it expect to receive any encouragement
or assistance from men, no, not even from our own brethren — it must
stand alone in the power of God.
Later, Moses was required to interview Pharaoh again, after Jehovah had
informed him He had “hardened” his heart, and say,.405
“The Lord God of the Hebrews hath sent me unto thee, saying, Let
My people go, that they may serve Me in the wilderness: and,
behold, hitherto thou wouldest not hear. Thus saith the Lord, In
this thou shalt know that I am the Lord: behold, I will smite with
the rod that is in mine hand upon the waters which are in the river,
and they shall be turned to blood. And the fish that is in the river
shall die, and the river shall stink; and the Egyptians shall loathe to
drink of the water of the river” (

Exodus 7:16-18).
It is easy for us now, knowing all about the happy sequel, to entirely
under-estimate the severity of this trial. Seek to visualize the whole scene.
Here was an insignificant Hebrew, belonging to a company of slaves, with
no powerful “union” to press their claims. There was the powerful
monarch of Egypt, who, humanly speaking had only to give the word to his
officers, and Moses had been seized, beaten, tortured, murdered. Yet,
notwithstanding, he “feared not the wrath of the king.”
We cannot now follow Moses through all the stages of his great contest
with Pharaoh, but would pass on to the closing scene. After the tenth
plague, Pharaoh called for Moses and proposed a compromise, which,
upon Moses refusing, he said,
“Get thee from me, take heed to thyself, see my face no more; for
in that day thou seest my face thou shalt die” (

10:28).
But Moses “feared not the wrath of the king,” and boldly announced the
final plague. Not only so, he declared that his servants should yet pay him
homage (

Exodus 11:4-8).
“He had before him a bloody tyrant, armed with all the power of
Egypt, threatening him with present death if he persisted in the
work and duty which God had committed to him; but he was so far
from being terrified, or declining his duty in the least, that he
professeth his resolution to proceed, and denounceth destruction to
the tyrant himself” (John Owen).
After the tenth plague had been executed, Moses led the children of Israel
out of the land in which they had long groaned in bondage. “By faith he
forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king.” Even now he was not
terrified by thoughts of what the enraged monarch might do, nor at the
powerful forces which he most probably would send in pursuit; but staying
his mind upon God, he was assured of the Divine protection. He allowed.406
not gloomy forebodings to discourage him. Yet once more we would say,
it is easy for us (in the light of our knowledge of the sequel) to under-estimate
this marvel. Visualize the scene again. On the one hand was a
powerful nation, who had long held the Hebrews in serfdom, and would
therefore be extremely loath to let them altogether escape; on the other
hand, here was a vast concourse of people, including many thousands of
women and children, unorganized, unarmed, unaccustomed to travel, with
a howling wilderness before them.
Ah, my reader, does not such a situation as we have hastily sketched
above, seem utterly hopeless? There did not seem one chance in a thousand
of succeeding. Yet the spirit of Moses was undaunted, and he is here
commended to us for his courage and resolution. But more; Pharaoh,
accompanied by six hundred chariots and a great armed force, pursued
them, and “when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their
eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them: and they were sore
afraid; and the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord. And they said
unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us
away to die in the wilderness? Wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us to
carry us forth out of Egypt?” (

Exodus 14:10, 11). Here was the crucial
moment, the supreme test. Did Moses’ heart fail him, was he now terrified
by “the wrath of the king”? No indeed; so far from it, he calmly and
confidently said unto the people,
“Fear ye not, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, which
He will show you today: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen
today, ye shall see them again no more forever. The Lord shall fight
for you, and ye shall hold your peace” (

Exodus 14:13, 14).
O how the undaunted courage of Moses shames our petty f