When Jesus emptied Himself He became man, and God was revealed in the Man. When Jesus emptied Himself, on the one side man appeared, and on the other side God appeared. Thus in Him God and man meet in peace and become one: "for He is our peace, who hath made both [God and man] one,...having abolished in His flesh the enmity,...to make in Himself of twain [God and man] one new man, so making peace." (Eph. 2:14, 15).
Nor is this true only as to form; it is true as to substance. For Christ was like God in the sense of being of the nature, in very substance, of God. He was made in the likeness of men in the sense of being like men in the nature and very substance of men.
Christ was God. He became man. And when He became man, He was man as really as He was God.
He became man in order that He might redeem man.
He came to man where man is to bring man to Him where He was and is.
And in order to redeem man from what man is, He was made what man is:--
Man is flesh. Gen. 6:3; John 3:6. "And the Word was made flesh."
John 1:14; Heb. 2:14.
Man is under the law. Rom. 3:19. Christ was "made under the law." Gal. 4:4.
Man is under the curse. Gal. 3:10; Zech. 5:1-4, "Christ was made a curse." Gal. 3:13.
Man is sold under sin (Rom. 7:14) and laden with iniquity. Isa. 1:4. And "the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all." Isa. 53:6.
Man is "a body of sin." Rom. 6:6. And God "hath made Him to be sin." 2 Cor. 5:21.
Thus, literally, "in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren."
Yet it must never be forgotten, it must be borne in mind and heart constantly and forever, that in none of this as to man, the flesh, sin, and the curse was Christ ever of Himself or of His own original nature or fault. All this He "was made." "He took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men."
And in all this Christ was "made" what, before, He was not in order that the man might be made now and forever what he is not.
Christ was the Son of God. He became the Son of man that the sons of men might become the sons of God. Gal. 4:4; 1 John 3:1.
Christ was Spirit. 1 Cor. 15:45. He became flesh in order that man, who is flesh, might become spirit. John 3:6; Rom. 8:8-10.
Christ, who was altogether of the divine nature, was made partaker of human nature in order that we who are altogether of the human nature "might be partakers of the divine nature." 2 Peter 1:4.
Christ, who knew no sin, was made to be sin, even the sinfulness of man, in order that we, who knew no righteousness, might be made righteousness, even the righteousness of God.
And as the righteousness of God, which, in Christ, the man is made, is real righteousness, so the sin of men, which Christ was made in the flesh, was real sin.
As certainly as our sins, when upon us, are real sins to us, so certainly, when these sins were laid upon Him, they became real sins to Him. As certainly as guilt attaches to these sins and to us because of them, when they are upon us so certainly this guilt attached to these same sins of ours and to Him because of them, when they were laid upon Him.
As the sense of condemnation and discouragement of our sins was real to us when these sins of ours were upon us, so certainly this same sense of condemnation and discouragement because of the guilt of these sins was realized by Him when these sins of ours were laid upon Him.
Thus the guilt, the condemnation, the discouragement of the knowledge of sin were His--were a fact in His conscious experience--as really as they were ever such in the life of any sinner that was ever on earth. And this awful truth brings to every sinful soul in the world the glorious truth that "the righteousness of God," and the rest, the peace, and the joy, of that righteousness, are a fact in the conscious experience of the believer in Jesus in this world, as really as they are in the life of any saint who was ever in heaven.
He who knew the height of the righteousness of God, acquired also the knowledge of the depth of the sins of men. He knows the awfulness of the depths of the sins of men, as well as He knows the glory of the heights of the righteousness of God. And by this "His knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify many." Isa. 53:11. By this His knowledge He is able to deliver every sinner from the lowest depths of sin and lift him to the highest height of righteousness, even the very righteousness of God.
Made "in all things" like unto us, He was in all points like as we are. So fully was this so that He could say, even as we must say the same truth, "I can of Mine own self do nothing." John 5:30.
Of Him this was so entirely true that, in the weakness and infirmity of the flesh,--ours which He took--He was as is the man who is without God and without Christ. For it is only without Him that men can do nothing. With Him and through Him, it is written: "I can do all things." But of those who are without Him it is written: "Without Me ye can do nothing." John 15:5.
Therefore, when of Himself He said, "I can of Mine own self do nothing," this makes it certain forever that in the flesh,--because of our infirmities which He took; because of our sinfulness, hereditary and actual, which was laid upon Him and imparted to Him--He was of Himself in that flesh exactly as is the man who, in the infirmity of the flesh, is laden with sins, actual and hereditary, and who is without God. And standing thus weak, laden with sins and helpless as we are, in divine faith He exclaimed, "I will put My trust in Him." Heb. 2:13.
He came to "seek and to save that which was lost." And in saving the lost, He came to the lost where we are. He put Himself among the lost. "He was numbered with the transgressors." He was "made to be sin." And from the standpoint of the weakness and infirmity of the lost, He trusted in God, that He would deliver Him and save Him. Laden with the sins of the world; and tempted in all points like as we are, He hoped in God and trusted in God to save Him from all those sins and to keep Him from sinning. Ps. 69:1-21; 71:1-20; 22:1-22; 31:1-5.
And this is the faith of Jesus: this is the point where the faith of Jesus reaches lost, sinful man to help him. For thus it has been demonstrated to the very fulness of perfection, that there is no man in the wide world for whom there is not hope in God, no one so lost that he can not be saved by trusting God in this faith of Jesus. And this faith of Jesus, by which in the place of the lost, He hoped in God and trusted God for salvation from sin and power to keep from sinning--this victory of His it is that has brought to every man in the world divine faith by which every man can hope in God and trust in God and can find the power of God to deliver him from sin and to keep him from sinning. That faith which He exercised and by which He obtained the victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil--that faith is His free gift to every lost man in the world. And thus "this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith;" and this is the faith of which He is the Author and Finisher.
This is the faith of Jesus that is given to men. This is the faith of Jesus that must be received by men in order for them to be saved. This is the faith of Jesus which, now in this time of the Third Angel's Message, must be received and kept by those who will be saved from the worship of the "beast and his image," and enabled to keep the commandments of God. This is the faith of Jesus referred to in the closing words of the Third Angel's Message: "Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus."
And now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: "We have such an High Priest." All that we have thus found in the first and second chapters of Hebrews is the essential foundation and preliminary of His high priesthood. For "in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that [so that, in order that] He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted." Heb. 2:17, 18.
Further Qualifications of Our High Priest Such is the thought of the first two chapters of Hebrews. And upon this the third chapter opens, or rather the one great thought continues with the beautiful exhortation: "Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; who was faithful to Him that appointed Him." Having presented Christ in the flesh, as He was made "in all things" like the children of men and our nearest of kin, we are now asked to consider Him in His faithfulness in that position.
The first Adam was not faithful. This last Adam "was faithful to Him that appointed Him, as also Moses was faithful in all His [God's] house. For this Man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who hath builded the house hath more honor than the house. For every house is builded by some man, but He that built all things is God. And Moses verily was faithful in all His [God's] house as a servant for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; but Christ [was faithful] as a Son over His own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end."
Next is cited Israel, who came out of Egypt, who were not faithful; who failed of entering into God's rest because they believed not in Him. Then upon this is the exhortation to us to "fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them; but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest," in believing in Him who gave Himself for our sins.
We enter into rest in the forgiveness of all our sins, through believing in Him who was faithful in every obligation and under every temptation of life. We also enter into rest and there abide, by being partaker of His faithfulness, in which and by which we also shall be faithful to Him who has appointed us. For in considering Him "the High Priest of our profession" in His faithfulness, we are ever to consider that "we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." Heb. 4:15.
When we "have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities," we have an High Priest who can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. And the way in which He can and is touched with the feeling of our infirmities is that He "was in all points tempted like as we are." There is not a point in which any soul can be tempted but that He has been exactly so tempted, and has felt the temptation as truly as any human soul can feel it. But, though He was in all points tempted like as we are and felt the power of it as truly as any one can, yet in it all He was faithful and through it all He passed "without sin." And by faith in Him--in this His faithfulness--every soul can meet all temptation and pass through it without sinning.
This is our salvation, for He was made flesh as man and in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren and to be tempted in all points like as we are "that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God." And this not only "to make reconciliation for the sins of the people," but also to "succor"--to run under, to run to the aid of, to assist and deliver from suffering--"them that are tempted." He is our merciful and faithful High Priest to succor--run under--us when we are tempted, to keep us from falling under the temptation and so to keep us from falling under sin. He "runs under" us is our temptation so we shall not fall under the temptation but shall conquer it and rise in victory over it, sinning not.
"Seeing then that we have a great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession." Heb. 4:14. And also seeing that we have such an High Priest, "let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."
Further, in presenting for our consideration our High Priest in His faithfulness, it is written that "every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins, who can have compassion on the ignorant and on them that are out of the way, for that He Himself also is compassed with infirmity." Heb. 5:1,2.
And this is why it is that in order that He should be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God and that He should bring many unto glory, it became Him, as the Captain of their salvation, to be "compassed with infirmity," to be tried by temptation, to be "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;" thus "in all things" to be made acquainted with human experience, so that He truly "can have compassion on the ignorant and on them that are not [sic. "out"] of the way." In a word, in order that He might be "a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God," it became Him to be made "perfect through sufferings."
"And no man taketh this honor [of high priesthood] unto himself but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. So also Christ glorified not Himself to be made an High Priest; but He that said unto Him, Thou art My Son, to-day have I begotten Thee. As He saith also in another place, Thou art a Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. Who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death and was heard in that He feared; though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered; and being made perfect [being tested to perfection in all points], He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him; called of God an High Priest after the order of Melchizedek." Heb. 5:4-10.
"And inasmuch as not without an oath He was made Priest; for those priests [of the Levitical priesthood] were made without an oath; but this with an oath by Him that said unto Him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek: by so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament." Thus, above all others, by the oath of God, Jesus was made a Priest. Therefore, and "by so much" "we have such an High Priest."
And further, "They [of the order of Aaron] truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: but this man, because He continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood." Heb. 7:23, 24. By the oath of God He is made a Priest forever. He is also made a Priest "after the power of an endless life." Heb. 7:16. Therefore "He continueth ever." And because He continueth ever, He hath an "unchangeable priesthood." And because of all this, "He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them." Heb. 7:25. And "we have such an High Priest."
And "such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's; for this He did once, when He offered up Himself. For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son [High Priest], who is consecrated forevermore." Heb. 7:26, 27.
The Sum And "now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an High Priest." And what is that of which this is "the sum"?
1. That He who was higher than the angels, as God, was made lower than
the angels, as man.
2. That He who was of the nature of God was made of the nature of man.
3. That He who was in all things like God was made in all things like man.
4. That as man He was tempted in all points like as men are and never sinned but was in all things faithful to Him that appointed Him.
5. That, as man, tempted in all points like as we are, He was touched with the feeling of our infirmities and was made perfect through sufferings in order that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest; and was called of God to be an High Priest.
6. That by the power of an endless life He was made High Priest.
7. And that by the oath of God He was made High Priest. Such are the specifications of the Word of God, of which the "sum" is "We have such an High Priest."
And yet that is only a part of "the sum." For the whole statement of "the sum" is, "We have such an High Priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man."
On earth there was a sanctuary which man pitched and which man made. True, this sanctuary was both made and pitched under the direction of the Lord; nevertheless, it is far different from the sanctuary and the true tabernacle which the Lord Himself pitched and not man--as far different as the work of man is from the work of God.
That "worldly sanctuary" with its ministry is more briefly described and the meaning of it is more briefly told in Hebrews 9 than would be possible otherwise to do. Therefore we quote Heb. 9:2-12, inclusive: "For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the holiest of all; which had the golden censer, 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; and over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercy-seat; of which we can not now speak particularly.
"Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people; the Holy Ghost this [sic. "thus"] signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing; 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; which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. But Christ being come an High Priest of good 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."
That sanctuary was but "a figure;" and it was but a figure "for the time then present." In it priests and high priests ministered and offered both gifts and sacrifices. But all this priesthood, ministry, gift, and sacrifice was, equally with the sanctuary, only "a figure for the time then present," for it all "could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience."
That sanctuary and tabernacle itself was but a figure of the sanctuary and the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched, and not man.
The high priest of that sanctuary was but a figure of Christ, who is High Priest of the sanctuary and the true tabernacle.
The ministry of that high priest of the sanctuary on earth was but a figure of the ministry of Christ, our great High Priest, "who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man."
The offerings of the priesthood in the ministry of the sanctuary on earth were but a figure of the offering of Christ, the true High Priest, in His ministry in the sanctuary and the true tabernacle.
Thus Christ was the true substance and meaning of all the priesthood and service of the sanctuary on earth, and any part of it that ever passed without this as its meaning was simply meaningless. And as certainly as Christ is the true Priest of Christianity, of which the Levitical priesthood was a figure, so certainly the sanctuary of which Christ is minister is the true sanctuary of Christianity, of which the earthly sanctuary of the Levitical dispensation was a figure. And so it is written: "If He were on earth, He should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith He, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount." Heb. 8:4, 5.
"It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these [earthly sacrifices]; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us." And in "heaven itself," in the Christian dispensation, there was seen the throne of God and a golden altar and an angel with a golden censer offering incense with the prayers of all saints, "And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand." Rev. 4:5; 8:2-4. Also in this same time there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament." Rev. 11:19; 15:5-8; 16:1. And further there was seen there "seven lamps of fire burning before the throne." Rev. 4:5. There, too, was seen one like the Son of man clothed in the high priestly garment. Rev. 1:13.
There is therefore a Christian sanctuary, of which the former sanctuary was a figure, as truly as there is a Christian high priesthood of which the former high priesthood was a figure. And there is a ministry of Christ, our High Priest, in this Christian sanctuary, as truly as there was a ministry of the former priesthood in the former and earthly sanctuary. And "of the things which we have spoken, this is the sum: We have such an High Priest who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man."
That I May Dwell Among Them When the Lord gave to Israel the original directions for the making of the sanctuary, that was to be a figure for the time then present, he said, "Let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them." Ex. 25:8.
That He might "dwell among them" was the object of the sanctuary. This purpose of the sanctuary is more fully stated in the following: "And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle [margin, "Israel"] shall be sanctified by my glory. And I will sanctify the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar: I will sanctify also both Aaron and his sons, to minister to me in the priest's office. And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the Lord their God." Ex. 29:43-46; also Lev. 26:11.12.
This purpose was not that He should dwell among them simply and only by the tabernacle's being set up in the midst of the camp of Israel. This is the great mistake that Israel made in the use of the tabernacle and so almost wholly lost the true purpose of the sanctuary. When the tabernacle was made and was set up in the midst of the camp of Israel, many of the children of Israel supposed that that was enough; they supposed that to be the way in which God would dwell in the midst of them.
It is true that by the Shekinah, God did dwell in the sanctuary. But even the sanctuary with its splendid furniture, standing in the midst of the camp--this was not all of the sanctuary. In addition to the splendid building and its furniture, there were the sacrifices and offerings of the people and the sacrifices and offerings on behalf of the people. There were the priests in their continual services and there was the high priest in his holy ministry. Without these the sanctuary was for Israel practically an empty thing, even though the Lord did dwell in it.
And what was the meaning and purpose of these things? Let us see: When any of the children of Israel had "done somewhat against any of the commandments of the Lord concerning things which should not be done," and so was "guilty," then "of his own voluntary will" he brought to the door of the tabernacle his sacrificial lamb. Before the lamb was offered in sacrifice the individual who had brought it laid his hands upon its head and confessed his sins and it was "accepted for him to make atonement for him." Then he who had brought the lamb and confessed his sins slew it. Its blood was caught in a basin. Some of the blood was sprinkled round about upon the altar of burnt offering," which was at the door of the tabernacle; some of it was put "upon the horns of the altar of sweet incense, which is in the tabernacle of the congregation;" some of it was sprinkled "seven times before the Lord before the veil of the sanctuary;" and all the rest of it was poured out "at the bottom of the altar of burnt offering, which is at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation."
The lamb itself was burnt upon the altar of burnt offering. And of all this service, it is written in conclusion: "and the priest shall make an atonement for his sin that he hath committed, and it shall be forgiven him." The service was similar in case of the sin and confession of the whole congregation. Also there was a similar service, a continual service morning and evening, in behalf of the whole congregation. But whether the services were individual or general, the conclusion of it was always declared to be "The priest shall make an atonement for him [or them], and it shall be forgiven him." See Leviticus chapters 1 to 5.
The course of service of the sanctuary was completed annually. And the day of the completion of the service, the tenth day of the seventh month, was especially "the day of atonement" or the cleansing of the sanctuary. On that day service was concluded in the Most Holy Place. That day was the "once every year" when "the High Priest alone" went into the "Holiest of all" or Most Holy Place. And of the high priest and his service that day it is written, "He shall make an atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make an atonement for the tabernacle of the congregation, and for the altar, and he shall make an atonement for the priests, and for all the people of the congregation." Lev. 16:2-34; Heb. 9:2-8.
Thus the services of the sanctuary, in the offering of the sacrifices and the ministering of the priests, and of the high priests alone, was for the making of atonement and for the forgiveness and sending away of the sins of the people. Because of the sin and guilt, because of their having "done somewhat against any of the commandments of the Lord concerning things which should not be done," atonement must be made and forgiveness obtained. Atonement is literally at-one-ment. The sin and the guilt had separated them from God. By these services they were made at-one with God. Forgive is literally give-for. To forgive sin is to give for sin. Forgiveness of sin comes alone from God. What does God give, what has He given, for sin? He gave Christ, and Christ "gave himself for our sins." Gal. 1:4; Eph. 2:12-16; Rom. 5:8-11.
Therefore when an individual or the whole congregation of Israel had sinned and desired forgiveness the whole problem and plan of forgiveness, of atonement, of salvation, was worked out before their faces. The sacrifice which was brought was in faith of the sacrifice which God had already made in giving His Son for sin. In this faith sinners were accepted of God, and Christ was received of them for their sin. Thus they were made at one with God, and thus God would dwell in the midst of them; that is, He would dwell in each heart and abide in each life to make that heart and life "holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners." And the placing of the tabernacle in the midst of the camp of Israel was an illustration, an object lesson and suggestion, of the truth that He would dwell in the midst of each individual. Eph. 3:16-19.
Some of that nation in every age saw in the sanctuary this great saving truth. But as a body in all ages Israel missed this thought, and stopping only with the thought of His dwelling in the tabernacle in the midst of the camp, they came short of having His own personal presence dwelling in their individual lives. Accordingly their worship became only outward and formal, rather than inward and spiritual. Therefore, their own lives continued unreformed and unholy, and so those who came out of Egypt missed the great thing which God had for them and "fell in the wilderness." Heb. 3:17-19.
The same mistake was made by the people after they had passed into the land of Canaan. They put their dependence on the Lord only as He dwelt in the tabernacle and would not allow that the tabernacle and its ministry should be the means of His dwelling in themselves through faith. Consequently their lives only increased in wickedness. Therefore God allowed the tabernacle to be destroyed and the ark of God to be taken captive by the heathen (Jer. 7:12; 1 Sam 4:10-22) in order that the people might learn to see and find and worship God individually and so find Him to dwell with them individually.
After the absence of the tabernacle and its service from among Israel for about a hundred years, it was restored by David and was merged in the grand temple that was built by Solomon. But again its true purpose was gradually lost sight of. Formalism with its attending wickedness more and more increased until in Israel the Lord was compelled to cry out: "I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. Though ye offer Me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts. Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols. But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream." Amos 5:21-24.
Also in Judah, by Isaiah, He was compelled to make a like plea: "Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto Me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. When ye come to appear before Me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread My courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto Me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I can not away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts My soul hateth: they are a trouble unto Me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide Mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before Mine eyes;; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Isa. 1:10-18.
Yet His pleas were not regarded. Israel was therefore carried captive and her land was left desolate because of their wickedness; and the like fate hung over Judah. And still this danger to Judah was from the same great cause that the Lord had been striving always to teach the nation and which they had not yet learned: the holding of the temple and God's presence in that temple as the great end, instead of holding that as only the means to the true end which was that by means of the temple and its ministry in accomplishing forgiveness and atonement, He who dwelt in the temple would dwell in themselves. And so again the Lord pleaded with His people by Jeremiah that He might save them from this mistake and have them see and receive the great truth of the real meaning and purpose of the temple and its service.
Thus He said: "Behold, ye trust in lying words, that can not profit. Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; and come and stand before Me in this house which is called by My name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations? Is this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the Lord.
"But go ye now unto My place which was in Shiloh, where I set My name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of My people Israel. And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the Lord, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not; therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by My name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of My sight, as I have cast out all your brethren, even the whole seed of Ephraim. Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to Me: for I will not hear thee....Oh that My head were waters, and Mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of My people! Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging place of wayfaring men; that I might leave My people, and go from them! for they be all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men. And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not Me. Jer. 7:8-16; 9:1, 3.
What were specifically the "lying words" in which these people trusted? Here they are: "Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, are these." Jer. 7:4. Thus it is made perfectly plain that the people though going through the forms of worship and of the temple service, went through all this merely as forms, missing entirely the purpose of the temple and its services, which was solely that God might reform and make holy the lives of the people by His dwelling in them individually. And missing all this, the wickedness of their own hearts only more and more made itself manifest. For this reason all their sacrifices, worship, and prayers, were only mockery and noise, so long as their hearts and lives were unreformed and unholy.
Therefore the word "came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, Stand in the gate of the Lord's house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the Lord, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the Lord. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, are these. For if ye thoroughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor; if ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt: then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, forever and ever." Jer. 7:1-7.
Instead of allowing God's great purpose of the temple and its services to be met in themselves, the people utterly perverted that purpose. Instead of allowing the temple and its services which God in His mercy had planted among them, to teach them how that He in truth would dwell among them by dwelling in their hearts and making holy their lives, they excluded all this true purpose of the temple and its services and perverted it all to the utterly false purpose of sanctioning grossest wickedness and cloaking deepest, darkest unholiness.
For such a system there was no remedy but destruction. Accordingly the city was besieged and captured by the heathen. The temple, their "holy and beautiful house" was destroyed. And with the city and the temple a heap of burnt and blackened ruins, the people were carried captive to Babylon, where in their sorrow and the deep sense of their great loss they sought and found and worshiped the Lord in a way that so reformed their lives that if they had done it when the temple stood, it would have stood forever. Ps. 137:1-6.
God brought them back from Babylon a humbled and reformed people. His holy temple was rebuilt and its services were restored. The people again dwelt in their city and their land. But apostasy again ensued. The same course was again repeated until, when Jesus, the great center of the temple and its services came to His own, the same old condition of things again prevailed. Matt. 21:12, 13; 23:13-32. In their hearts they could persecute and pursue Him to the death and yet outwardly be so holy (?) that they could not cross the threshold of Pilate's judgment hall "lest they should be defiled"! John 18:28.
And the Lord's appeal to the people was still the same as of old--that they should find in their own personal lives the meaning of the temple and its services and so be saved from the fate which had overtaken their nation through all its history, because of this same great mistake which they were repeating. Accordingly, one day in the temple Jesus said to the multitude there present, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But He spake of the temple of His body." John 2:19-21. When Jesus in the temple spoke thus to that people, referring to "the temple of His body" he was still endeavoring, as through all their history, to get them to perceive that the great purpose of the temple and its services always was that by means of the ministry and service there conducted, God would dwell and walk in themselves as He dwelt in the temple, making holy His dwelling-place in themselves, as His dwelling in the temple made that place holy so that their bodies should be truly temples of the living God, because of God's dwelling in them and walking in them. 2 Cor. 6:16; 1 Cor. 3:16,17; Lev. 26:11, 12; 2 Sam. 7:6, 7.
And still they would not see this truth. They would not be reformed. They would not have the purpose of the sanctuary met in themselves, that God should dwell in them. They rejected Him who came personally to show to them this true purpose and the true Way. Therefore again there was no remedy but destruction. Again their city was taken by the heathen. Again the temple, their "holy and beautiful house," was burned with fire. Again they were taken captive and were forever scattered, to be only "wanderers among the nations." Hosea 9:17.
Again let it be emphasized that the earthly sanctuary, the earthly temple, with its ministry and services, was as such only a figure of the true, which with its ministry and services was then in heaven. When the thought of the sanctuary was first presented to Moses for Israel it was stated by the Lord to him, "See...that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount." Heb. 8:5; Ex. 25:40; 25:30; 27:8. The sanctuary on the earth was therefore a figure of the true, in the sense of its being a pattern of the true. The ministry and services in the earthly were "figures of the true" in the sense of being "the patterns" of the true--"the patterns of things in the heavens." Heb. 9:23, 24.
The true sanctuary of which this was a figure, the original of which this was a pattern, was then in existence. but in the darkness and confusion of Egypt, Israel had lost the true idea of this, as they had also of many other things which were plain to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob; and by this object-lesson God would give to them the knowledge of the true. It was therefore not a figure in the sense of being a type of something to come that did not yet exist, but a figure in the sense of being an object-lesson and visible representation of that which then existed but was invisible.
And by all this God was revealing to them and to all people forever that it is by the priesthood, ministry, and service of Christ in the true sanctuary or temple which is in heaven, that He dwells amongst men. He was revealing that in this faith of Jesus, forgiveness of sins and atonement is ministered to men so that God dwells in them and walks in them, He being their God and they His people, and thus they be separated from all the people that are upon the face of the earth--separated unto God as His own true sons and daughters to be built up unto perfection in the knowledge of God. Ex. 33:15, 16; 2 Cor. 6:16-18; 7:1.
Index of Pioneer Writings