And he brought the ram for the burnt offering: and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the ram. And he killed it; and Moses sprinkled the blood upon the altar round about. And he cut the ram into pieces; and Moses burnt the head, and the pieces, and the fat. And he washed the inwards and the legs in water; and Moses burnt the whole ram upon the altar: it was a burnt sacrifice for a sweet savour, and an offering made by fire unto the LORD; as the LORD commanded Moses. And he brought the other ram, the ram of consecration: and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the ram. And he slew it; and Moses took of the blood of it, and put it upon the tip of Aaron's right ear, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot. And he brought Aaron's sons, and Moses put of the blood upon the tip of their right ear, and upon the thumbs of their right hands, and upon the great toes of their right feet: and Moses sprinkled the blood upon the altar round about. And he took the fat, and the rump, and all the fat that was upon the inwards, and the caul above the liver, and the two kidneys, and their fat, and the right shoulder: And out of the basket of unleavened bread, that was before the LORD, he took one unleavened cake, and a cake of oiled bread, and one wafer, and put them on the fat, and upon the right shoulder: And he put all upon Aaron's hands, and upon his sons' hands, and waved them for a wave offering before the LORD. And Moses took them from off their hands, and burnt them on the altar upon the burnt offering: they were consecrations for a sweet savour: it is an offering made by fire unto the LORD... -- Leviticus 8:18-28;
...But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. -- 2 Corinthians 3:18.
WE have seen, on a former occasion, that we have the right of entrance into the holiest of all. That is, the ground of approach to God is so sure, that we can say, His presence is ever near; as prefigured in the fact of the tabernacle being a travelling companion, as we might say, of Israel through the wilderness. It is now, through the efficacy of Christ's work, that we can say His presence is with us, though we are still travelling to heaven.
We have looked at the fact of the assembly on the earth, and we have looked at the assembly as the body of. Christ -- our wonderful relationship to Him; and I think that it would be fit to conclude with this subject -- What do we enjoy, what is the nature of our position in the presence of God? This I will call consecration and worship. Consecration is properly completion, that is the right meaning of the word; we are filled; it is like saying, "Ye are complete in Him."
In a subject like this, one cannot expatiate much, but I think one can point out what we ought to understand. If I may use such a figure, I can open a door for you to look in, and you can see what you are.
I have read about the two rams. Now if you do not understand the first ram, you will never understand the second one. The first ram is the burntoffering; it is gone up whole. Mind you, that is not the sin-offering. The sin-offering establishes a basis, by virtue of what Christ has done, that God can receive you in His presence. The burnt-offering goes farther, because it shows me not only that He can receive me, but the nature of my reception; a very important point. A person might be received in a very grand place, but he might be received there only formally and not cordially. It is not merely that I have the right of entrance to a place, but the nature of my reception there. That is what the burnt-offering shows. Hence there were the two rams, and in one sense one ram was the duplicate of the other. The one ram as the burnt-offering went up whole. The blessed Lord who glorified God in death is gone up into the presence of God; He was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, and as it says, "the Holy Spirit was not yet, because Jesus was not yet glorified"; not crucified, but glorified. The Holy Spirit comes down to tell us that a Man on this earth has so glorified God that He is raised up into glory, and not only raised into glory, but all glory rests upon that blessed Person now. In the sin-offering the blood was taken into the presence of the majesty of God and sprinkled on the mercy-seat, and seven times before it, and thus a basis was made for God to receive us there, so that He could "be just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus." Hence the veil was rent the moment Christ died. But then there is another thing. The same blessed Person so glorified God under the weight of judgment that He was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, and hence you find that is what the burnt-offering is; He is crowned with glory and honour. The priest never had any of the burntoffering; it all went up to God, it was burnt whole.
Next we enjoy what Christ as the burnt-offering is; to us, in a word, the nature of our acceptance. As it is said, "Accepted in the beloved." It is not the question therefore that I have the right to enter, that is not what I am upon, but how I am there. We may call it our acceptance, but that would not be sufficient, because it is not only our acceptance, but I wish to bring before you what you gain there; I do not know how to express it; it takes in not only what you are, and what you enjoy, but what you do. I cannot leave out worship, I cannot leave out enjoyment, I cannot leave out progress.
Now look at the other ram, that is the consecration ram. Look at the two rams; one ram typifies Christ glorifying God and now gone up to Him, and the other ram is how He, the glorified One, is to you. That is its great point -- What is Christ to you? We are complete in Christ; I see what He is to God in the burnt-offering, but what am I? Hence you see, first the ram for the burnt-offering was brought, and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on it, and it was killed, and the blood sprinkled on the altar, and the whole ram burnt. Then the other ram was brought, and Moses took of the blood of it (and now we are all under the virtue of the blood); it was put on the ear, the hand, and the foot, and all in connection with the high priest, for we enter the holy place as his house. But that was not all. Then come the fat and the inwards, etc., typifying the pure perfect motives of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus I come into the presence of God in the sense of the fragrance of Christ. The prodigal had the best robe on; invested with the beauty of Christ which has come out from heaven. Thus I am brought into correspondence with a greater One who is inside. I mean correspondence with Christ, the burnt-offering, now glorified. Of course, we do not come up to the greatness of what He is, but I am brought into correspondence with that blessed, glorified One. I have nothing of myself, I am filled with what He is to God. The idea of consecration is rarely apprehended; some talk of giving up themselves to the Lord. In presenting my body as a living sacrifice I am only yielding that to which the Lord has the right; for it necessarily follows, that if Christ has freed me from the old master, the flesh, He has the right to the body now.
The consecration takes place when their hands are filled. The varied types of Christ in His life and ways, were put upon Aaron's hands and his son's hands, and waved as a wave-offering, and then all was burnt for a sweet savour unto the Lord. I want you to have a true sense of the way in which the priestly company went into the holy places. At that time they only went into the holy place, but of course now when the veil is rent, there is full approach to God. We approach in all the fragrance of the One who has glorified God, we are in the presence of the glorified One; He was the burnt-offering, and has gone up into glory, and we come in, in correspondence with Him; we go in, not by any virtue, or anything of our own, but in all the blessed fragrance of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to the type.
Now we turn to the New Testament, and get it all plainer, surely. Still, I trust the sense is awakened in your soul, by the beauty of the type, of the wonderful nature of our entrance into the true tabernacle. Well, you know that Christ has gone up into the presence of God, raised up and glorified; and you know that you can enter in to be assimilated to Him there. You come in, in the fragrance of Jesus in the glory of God.
Now in 2 Corinthians 3, the point of the argument is, that if that which was done away was glorious, how much more glorious is that which remains; that if the ministration of condemnation was glorious, how much more does the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. What we find is that now that our blessed Lord has been received up into glory, it is not a demand for righteousness, but the very opposite, there is a ministration of righteousness; the greatest moral revolution ever known. Now we behold the Lord's glory, His face is unveiled. You are looking at a Person in glory; we have looked at the type, now look at the reality. You are looking at the Lord's glory. I hear people sometimes say, I am looking at the Lord. I say you have left out a word; it is looking at the Lord's glory. Why do I make such a point of looking at the Lord's glory? Because the glory is the expression of the divine satisfaction in the One who has accomplished everything according to the glory of God. What is the glory of God? When God said to Moses, I will show you the back parts, He could not show him the glory fully, because it was not fully come out. It was not yet the ministration of righteousness, and love could not come out without righteousness. The glory could not be displayed all round; it was not equipoised. The Lord Jesus Christ, He, as man, glorified God.
Glory can be displayed! Hence the apostle says in the next chapter, that which could not have been said before -- mark the expression; "The light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." But glory is the expression of the Father's satisfaction according to all His attributes; and that never could have come out till now, and it now rests on the glorified Man. The Holy Spirit has come down from that glorified One. Ezekiel in a vision saw a man in the glory (Ezekiel 1:26), but it is not only a man in the glory, it is that the glory rests upon a Man. As it is in another place, He is crowned with glory and honour. He has glorified God in the very place of judgment upon man; as Man He so glorified God that the glory of the Father claimed Him. It was not only glory saluting Him as in the mount of Transfiguration, but the glory claimed Him. I am looking at the Lord's glory; I am looking at the One who has established everything according to the nature of God; His righteousness, His truth, His love, His majesty, His honour, everything is there consistently.
That is the Lord's glory; and I am looking at it.
Next I learn the effect. Beholding the Lord's glory, we are transformed; it is the strongest word used in the language, it is stronger than changed, it is 'metamorphosed'; you are changed morally into another being altogether, "into the same image."
You become assimilated; "from glory to glory as by the Spirit of the Lord"; or as our hymn has expressed it
"Yet sure, if in Thy presence, My soul still constant were; Mine eye would, more familiar, Its brighter glories bear."
It is not only that I can reach this bright place, it is not only that I can enter into, but am actually made to correspond with the condition suited to it. The state of holiness is an inseparable condition for entering the holiest, but assimilation to the glory is the condition acquired within (we are not come to position yet, we have only to do with condition), but instead of being a stranger in this place, on the contrary I find that the more I behold the Lord's glory -- mind, it is not a question of place, but of condition -- I am "transformed into the same image from glory to glory as by the Spirit of the Lord." I hope we know something about it; but if the Psalmist could say, When I went into the Sanctuary I was completely altered as to my judgment of things, how much more should you and I be altered! I am not speaking now of enjoyment; I am insisting on what really belongs to us. If I were a solicitor, and telling a man of a fortune to which he was entitled, he would be arrested. I am now telling you of your title to a much greater thing than an earthly fortune. I am trying to make it clear to you, that glory is your property.
One may not understand how he could be transformed. If you were beholding the Lord's glory, you would understand it. But I will give you an example, Paul prayed three times for the removal of a thorn; and he was a very spiritual man. He was trying to get rid of this thorn but at length he found out that it was better to take pleasure in it. He was a wonderfully changed man; and how did it happen? By being in the Lord's presence Paul was brought right round to the Lord's mind. I do not say it was wrong to try and get rid of his thorn, but he was so utterly changed as to it, that he takes pleasure in it; you cannot have greater transformation than that.
I may give you another example. We are told to make known all our requests unto God, and the peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep our hearts and minds. That is the experience of a heavenly man. The effect, an effect that passeth all understanding, of being in the presence of God. I want to press upon you this passage, "Beholding the Lord's glory." It will afford wonderful delight to your heart -- you will see every attribute of God's nature established in that blessed Person; the effect upon me of beholding, will be to be transformed into the same image. Could anything be more exquisite than that? Because it is not merely that I have reached the highest 'place, but I am actually made to correspond with the highest moral beauty there. Now if you understand that sentence you understand everything. The greatest potentate on the earth might receive me into his presence, and might treat me with the greatest friendship, but he could not transform me, he could not make me correspond with himself. But here is the most wonderful thing, I am changed, transformed into the same image. No wonder Paul said, "To God, I am beside myself." It is not now merely what you get with the Psalmist, that all your preconceived notions are reversed, but that you yourself are changed -- you are being assimilated to the glory.
I turn to a passage that is familiar to us, Luke 15:22, to make this plainer. "The father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet." We are made meet to enter; we have a new nature, Christ's nature, and in His Spirit we come into a new place, and are actually fit for this place. Once a prodigal, I am now fit to be in the Father's house; I am not merely fit to be in, but it has an effect on me
"And with adoring fervour, In this Thy nature grow."
When you are acting from God's presence it is always God who is before you, and not man. A wonderful mark of a spiritual man in every matter. See the difference between Moses and Joshua in Numbers 11:28, 29. "And Joshua, the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them. And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them? "You cannot judge of a thing as it relates to God, unless He is prominently before you. We often speak of going to God; it is quite right, I need not say; but the true power for acting is coming from Him. Our blessed Lord always came from God.
Well next, when in spirit in the holy place, what occupies us? It is a scene of unbounded joy. It is consequent on eating of the fatted calf that the Father's delight is known to the heart. I want to know, Do you believe that you are entitled to this festivity, that it is a part of your property? I am presenting to you your property, I want every one in this room to say, Thank God that is my property, though I have not rightly enjoyed it yet, yet it is my property; and I not only enter, but I come in suitably, according to the beauty of Christ. I am accepted in the Beloved.
The next point is -- I have already alluded to it "God I am beside myself." It is a sure mark that I am in the presence of the Lord, when I am so absorbed by Him that I have lost sight of everything but Himself. Would to God we all knew it better. I will give you an illustration of what I mean. In 1 Kings 10:4, 5, "When the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon's wisdom, and the house that he had built, and the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the Lord, there was no more spirit in her." That, I believe, illustrates what Paul said, "To God I am beside myself"; as you would say of a man, he is beside himself, he is in an ecstasy. I do not object to ecstasy, I would we knew more of it. Here is an interesting illustration of it, in the queen of Sheba. She was a very great person, had plenty of natural means and the like, and yet she is absorbed with the things belonging to Solomon. See how often she uses the word 'his'; it was all that belonged to him. I believe you get the antitype of this in John 16, "He shall glorify me, for he shall take of mine, and shall show unto you; all things that the Father hath are mine, therefore said I, that he shall take of mine and shall show unto you." Did you ever look for those things? Did you ever lose an hour's rest looking for them? Do you think you will pick them up from books, or by listening to me? Not you. "Exalt her [wisdom], and she shall promote thee:she shall bring thee to honour when thou dost embrace her"; that is, when you really seek Christ as for hidden treasure.
Next I turn to 1 Corinthians 2:9, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." Is that all you know? "But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit, for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." I ask you, and I think I am entitled to ask you, Have you really seen these things? In Isaiah's time they were not revealed; now the doors are thrown open. Have you come to Solomon? And I very often say, when I see a saint clinging to the things of this world -- You have not seen Solomon; I do not say that yo; have not seen the Jonah side of Christ, but you have not seen the Solomon side; Jonah is the sufferings and Solomon is the glory; and you are as much entitled to the Solomon side as you are to the Jonah side. It says in Colossians 3:1, "Seek those things which are above." That is your place, and it is not only that you would like to be there, but your Father would like you to come in and have fellowship with Him there.
Well, beloved friends, there is only one thing more. It is not only how I get in, and what I am, and how I am there, and what I enjoy there, but now, what am I to God? Now I turn to Ephesians 3:14-21, "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith:that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled unto all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the assembly by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." There you get the completion of the thing. Therefore it is always, by the assembly, the glory of God.
Now we have reached the place. We are in the condition of holiness, and we are in the condition of glory, now we come to position. You never can enjoy the position unless you are in a condition for it. It is not the question of having a right to that position, but you cannot enjoy the position without being in the condition suited to it. You are in holiness, which is inseparable from God -- you have a right to enter the holiest of all; it is not a question of sin at all, it is holiness, a very great contrast; holiness before God, and not sin. You are in there too with the One who not only died to effect this entrance for you, but as the burnt-offering, the Man who glorified God in death, so that God Himself delights in that Man, His own blessed Son, who has established everything as Man according to God's nature and attributes; that blessed Person is your Saviour; and instead of shrinking from the glory as you naturally would, you are transformed into the same image. And therefore you are in a condition now to occupy the greatest position. Hence the prayer, "That you may be strengthened with power by his Spirit in the inner man, that the Christ [not Christ only, but the Christ] may dwell in your hearts by faith " -- there you have the whole scope of Christ's interests before you. Well, how small this poor world would be, if you spent a little more of your time there -- " That the Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith, that ye, being settled and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints " -- not one left out, how could you see the extent of it if you were not there? How could Abraham walk through the length and breadth of the land if he was not in the land? -- "may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height."
Now, beloved friends, will not you believe that I am showing you your property, and is it not your heart's delight to know it? "And to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled unto all the fulness of God." I feel myself, when I am reading this passage and trying to explain it, how little I know of it, but still I see it, and I want my heart to enter more into it.
Now we worship. "Now unto him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, to him be glory in the assembly by Christ Jesus " -- all by Christ Jesus. I think it is unspeakable delight to dwell on the fact, that I am in the presence of the Father, to worship Him, "for the Father seeketh such to worship him." I am lost in adoration at the wonderful nature of the grace that has brought me into a scene of such unbounded blessing. And what next? You are fit to come forth, and on this earth to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace; and you are never fit otherwise; and I do not believe that you could do it, or even keep a single precept in the Ephesians, unless you come from the presence of God in the sense of the power that worketh in you, not working towards you now, but "the power that works in you." And what then? "To him be glory in the assembly by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end." What a wonderfully blessed thing, that the assembly will be ever the instrument, ever the channel of setting forth the glory of God; and hence when she comes down as a bride adorned for her husband, the very first sight that you get of her is, "Having the glory of God." The Lord give us grace to be more according to His glory here.