« PreviousContinue »
nected with the gracious walk of a Christian, but not drawn from the higher and more heavenly sources and principles of the Christian life as we see in Ephesians and Colossians. Nor even though there be more analogy —for the epistle to the Romans, rests in general, in resurrection, and does not go on to the ascension k—are the exhortations such as in this latter epistle. Those which follow connect themselves with the circumstances in which the Hebrews found themselves, and rest on the approaching abolition and judgment of Judaism, from which they had now definitely to separate themselves.
In exhorting them (ver. 7) to remember those who have guided the flock, he speaks of those already departed, in contrast with those still living (ver. 17). The issue of their faith might well encourage others to follow their steps, to walk by those principles of faith which had led them to so noble a result.
Moreover, Christ never changed; He was the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. Let them abide in the simplicity and integrity of faith. Nothing is a plainer proof that the heart is not practically in possession of that which gives rest in Christ, that it does not realize what Christ is, than the restless search after something new, "divers and strange doctrines.” To grow in the knowledge of Christ is our life and our privilege. The search after novelties which are foreign to Him, is a proof of not being satisfied with Him. But He who is not satisfied with Jesus, docs not know Him; or, at least, has forgotten Him. It is impossible to enjoy Him and not to feel that He is everything, that is to say, that He satisfies us, and that, by the nature of what He is, He shuts out everything else.
Now with regard to Judaism, in which the Hebrews were naturally inclined to seek satisfaction for the flesh, the apostle goes farther. They were no longer Jews in the possession of the true worship of God, a privileged worship in which others had no right to participate. The altar of God belonged now to the Christians. Christians only had a right to it. An earthly worship, in
It is only spoken of in viü. 34., and an allusion in x. 6.
which there was no entering within the veil into God's own presence in the sanctuary, could no longer subsista worship that had its worldly glory, that belonged to the elements of this world and had its place there. Now, it is either heaven or the cross and shame. The great sacrifice for sin has been offered; but, by its efficacy, it brings us into the sanctuary, into heaven itself, where the blood has been carried in; and, on the other hand, it takes us outside the camp into shame and rejection on earth. This is the portion of Christ. In heaven He is accepted, He has gone in with His own blood. On earth cast out and despised.
A worldly religion, which forms a system in which the world can walk, and in which the religious element is adapted to man on the earth, is the denial of Christianity.
Here we have no continuing city, we seek the one which is to come. By Christ we offer our sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving. By sharing also our goods with others, by doing good in every way, we offer sacrifices with which God is well pleased. (17.) He then exhorts them to obey those who, as responsible to God, watch over souls, and who go before the saints in order to lead them on. It is a proof of that humble spirit of grace which seeks only to please the Lord. The sense of this responsibility makes Paul ask the
for him—but with the declaration that he had assuredly a good conscience. We serve God, we act for Him, when He is not obliged to be acting on us. That is to say, the Spirit of God acts by our means when He has not to occupy us with ourselves. When the latter is the case, one could not ask for the prayers of saints as a labourer. While the Spirit is exercising us in our conscience, we cannot call ourselves labourers for God. When this conscience is good we can ask, unreservedly for the prayers of the saints. The apostles, so much the more, asked for them because he hoped to see them again,
Finally, he invokes blessing upon them, giving God the title he so often ascribes to Him "the God of peace.” In the midst of exercise of heart with regard to
saints to pray
the Hebrews, of arguments to preserve their love from growing cold, in the midst of the moral unsteadiness that enfeebled the walk of these Christians, this title has a peculiarly precious character.
The Spirit sets them also in the presence of a risen Christ, of a God who had founded and secured peace by the death of Christ and had given a proof of it in His resurrection. He had brought Christ again from the dead, according to the power of the blood of the everlasting covenant. On this blood, the believing people might build a hope that nothing could shake. For it was not, as at Sinai, promises founded on the condition of the people's obedience, but on the ransom which had been paid and the perfect expiation of their disobedience. The blessing was, therefore, unchangeable. He prays that the God who had wrought it would work in them to grant them full power and energy for the accomplishment of His will, working Himself in them that which was well-pleasing in His sight.
He exhorts them to give heed to exhortation - he had only sent them a few words.
He who wrote the letter desires they should know that Timothy had been set at liberty. He himself was so already. He was in Italy. Circumstances which tend to confirm the idea that it was Paul who wrote this letter-a very interesting point, although in nowise affecting its authority.
It is the Spirit of God who everywhere gives His own authority to the Word.
FRAGMENTS. "Most men think that there is much to be settled by and bye. Their own choice now cannot be settled by and bye. It is their own choice now that settles the judgment by and bye. Thus much is settled now. He that believeth not is condemned already.' The Lord has said it. Confess (now] Jesus to be your only true and proper Lord, and believe that God hath raised Him from the dead, and YOU SHALL BE SAVED."
L. Even so! the sanctuary is my home. What other place is there for Jabez in this wide, wild, weary world ?
Jabez must be a sanctuary-man; and a sanctuary-man must be a Jabez
“ By faith Rahab perished not with them that believed not."
How forlorn and hopeless was her condition before the spies had visited her. Death was written on everything. The land and its inhabitants were given over to utter destruction. She believed all this. All hope as to her then condition was over; nothing but judgment was before her. There was, it is true, a turning of heart to the God of Israel, for whoever bows to God's judgment (and the woman bowed to it; her people feared but resisted), is drawn irresistibly to the very God whose claim is acknowledged.
But how could she be connected with this God? Where could she find Him? Israel were as yet on the other side Jordan, and, when they should cross, it would be in judgment. Well, God sees this poor woman, and He so orders it, that ere a stroke of judgment falls, mercy should reach her, and the assurance of salvation. The spies are guided to her house, and through them she is bound up with Israel's God and with the fortunes of His people. She transfers all her confidence and all her hopes and expectations to a new scene altogether, which as yet did not exist; for Israel were not yet in the land. But faith calleth the things that be not as though they were, even as God does; and so this woman of precious faith bowed to the judgment and death, her due and portion by nature and by works, and fled for refuge to the God of Israel, and cast in her lot with His people. Sihon and Og she knew were utterly destroyed. They resisted God's claims, and opposed Him in the establishment of his kingdom. But she knew that it was a vain opposition: for He was God in heaven above, and God
in earth beneath. The idols were no gods. So she gives up her whole place, and possession, and inheritance of the land under the god of this world, and looks for a name and inheritance under the God of Israel. For if Jericho is to be destroyed, it is to make way for the God and people of Israel, and, in faith, she transfers herself to 2 city that hath foundations, to an inheritance that fadeth not away. Moreover, her life she begs from God: *Deliver our lives from death.” And in the name of their God does she ask it: “Swear unto me by the Lord.”
What a change to Rahab in a few hours ! The shadow of death is turned into the morning. The coming of Joshua, instead of being black with judgment is bright with hope; for she has the token of the God of Israel that his coming will be salvation to her.
How this not only changes her prospects, but her life and business! All her plans and pursuits in Jericho arc uprooted, and now they all have reference to the coming day. Her one object would be, to get beneath the scarlet line all dear to her. And of what a secret between Rahab and God, and the people of God, was this scarlet line the sign and symbol! Who in Jericho knew its import but herself? So is it with us in all these particulars. The world knoweth us not. It is as really under judgment now as was Jericho then, though heedless of it as they were. But we look for the coming of Jesus, to take us to Himself on that day.
Note also that Rahab risks her life for this people, even before she has any assurance that they will have mercy on her.
The two chief points in this precious narrative, areFirst
, the tender grace and compassion of God towards this one solitary woman, under judgment, and a harlot, but a vessel of mercy and bright specimen of the sovereignty of His Grace. The spies must find her out; Israel's march must tarry until the scarlet line has sheltered this woman of Canaan. And, Second, she perished not with them that believed not. All would have been saved by faith as well as Rahab. God will be justified in His sayings, and clear when He judges.