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As the tents of Kedar in themselves; as the courts of Solomon in Him. Black in themselves; but comely in Him. And only can they bear comparison with Him as they are grafted into Him, abiding in Him, fruitful in Him, and so well pleasing to the Father in Him. This to them is, “ to walk worthy of Him unto all pleasing,” to manifest Him a life in them. Therefore do we not wonder to see twelve thousand of this tribe accounted overcomers, and as servants of our God, sealed in their foreheads.
Manasseh, too, shall not be forgotten of His God, seeing that his name indicates One who forgets and is forgotten, for the men of his tribe have in love for their Lord forgotten their own people and their first father's house, that so the beauty of their devotedness might meet the desire and approval of their King. And thus they are soon forgotten and cast off by the world, so that their language becomes, “I am a stranger with Thee and a sojourner, as all my fathers were ;" or again, “I am become & stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother's children." But not forgotten of their God, He saith to each one of them, “I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands, thy walls”—thy wants—" are continually before Me." Nor shall they be forgotten in that day “when He writeth up the people ; ” for of such we read, “ They shall be mine, saith the Lord, in that day when I make up my jewels, and I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.” Therefore are wo not surprised to find twelve thousand such counted overcomers, and, as the servants of our God, sealed in their foreheads.
Then comes Simeon, as One that hears and obeys and is heard himself, and circumcised in heart and in ear : we find their language to be, “ Thou hast opened mine ear as the ear of the learned,” and with their ear bored to the doorpost of their master's house, in sign of perpetual service, they abide in the house for ever, like sons. For hearing Him they live, and living obey, and in the path of obedience are heard in all they ask. Like their great Example they have learned to hear and obey in the path of endurance, and so are able to say, “Not as I will, but as Thou wilt. The cap which my Father giveth me, shall I not drink it ?” And while in this path of endurance their language is, “Lord, what wilt thou bave me to do ?” their hearkening attitude, thus secured, enables them to say, “If we ask anything according to His will He heareth us, and if He hear us, we know that whatsoever we ask we receive of Him." Therefore should we expect to see such as these chosen to serve Him day and night in His kingdom, and overcomers, sealed as the servants of our God in their foreheads.
In Levi we find One who is held and associated, and truly they are held ap, held in, and held on their way by association with the “Strength of Israel, that will not lie nor repent." Having learned wherein their strength lies—not in themselves, like Samson's locks that might be shorn, but in Him, their Jehovah-tsidkenu-they cry continually, "Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe,” for their strength and righteousness consists in the keeping of Another. As members of a mystical body, too, they are associated one with another in Him, and “holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands hath its nourishment ministered," they find their completeness in Him. He is their wisdom to know and their power to do or endure all His appointed will. These
are the truly royal priesthood, holy nation, and peculiar people, who, without portion or inheritance on earth, have the Lord for their portion and inheritance, and so become numbered among the overcomers, and sealed as the servants of our God in their foreheads.
In Issachar we find men of price, reward, and recompence; given of the Father to the Son for a covenant seed, as the price, reward, and recompence of His sufferings and death, and in them He sees of the travail of His soul and is satisfied. Given to Him for a bride " that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might Himself present unto Himself the Church glorious, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that she might be holy and without blemish ” (see Alford). These children of Issachar have been always "men that had understanding of their times, to know what Ierael ought to do ” (1 Chron. xii. 32). And faithful to God, have stood up for Him; not for price, reward, or recompence from their fellow-men, but in loyalty to Him whom they love and serve, having respect unto His recompence of reward in that day. Therefore are we not surprised to find this tribe among the overcomers, and sealed as servants of our God in their foreheads.
In Zebulun, we find signified A dwelling and habitation; and, surely, these are they who have become an habitation for God through the Spirit. Their bodies, the temples of the Holy Ghost, they are called "lively stones built up & spiritual house;" and concerning them as sons and daughters of the Lord God Almighty, He saith, “ I will dwell in them and walk in them; they shall be My people, and I will be their God.” From the beginning His delights have been with the sons of men, With Adam He walked in Eden in the cool of the day; and walking with God has been the sign of faith in the faithful ever since. And, finally, we are to hear a voice out of heaven, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them,” the earnest of which we have now fulfilled in the promise, “If a man love Me, he will keep My words, and My Father will love him, and we will come unto him and make our abode with him; at that day ye shall know that I am in My Father, ye in Me and I in you.” Of such a tribe as this, we should expect to see twelve thousand reckoned as overcomers, and sealed as the servants of our God in their foreheads.
In the tribe of Joseph, we find Men of increase and addition in abundance, for the archers have made them their mark; and, sorely grieved and wounded, they have been “ broken in the place of dragons, and oft covered with the shadow of death.” But through fire and through water they have been brought out into a wealthy place, and all the pruning and discipline has turned to account for fruit-bearing to the glory of the Great Husbandman. As members of the mystical body of Christ, “by joints and bands, having nourishment ministered, they are knit together, and increase with the increase of God." Going from strength to strength, and receiving grace for grace, they grow in grace, and so “add to their faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity," until at length" an abundant entrance shall be ministered unto them into the everlasting kingdom of their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” And as heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ in that kingdom, they are accounted overcomers, and sealed as the servants of our God in their foreheads.
Lastly, we see in Benjamin, The son of the right hand, followers of Him to whom the Father hath said, “ Sit Thou at my right hand until I make Thy foes Thy footstool,” and to whom He hath Himself said, “ He that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, as I also over. came and am set down with My Father in His throne." These sons of the right hand are men of power, through whom God effects His purpose of witness among men, “Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen." Concerning them Christ saith through Isaiah, “Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for the signs and wonders in Israel, from the Lord of hosts which dwelleth in Mount Zion;" and through Zechariah He calls them “men wondered at.” These are the stars in the right hand of Him that walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, shining in His light and upheld by His power, He lays His right hand upon them, say. ing, “ Fear not;" to which they respond, “ Because thou art at my right band I shall not be moved." Therefore should we expect to find this tribe among the overcomers, and sealed as the servants of our God in their foreheads.
But we miss the tribe of Dan, and right glad we are at length to miss it, significant as it is of Judgment, or One that judges ; for these “judges
" of evil thoughts ” have been sad troublers in Israel for ages, not fearing to judge their brother and set at nought their brother, they have judged everything and everybody but themselves. All who have not pronounced their Shibboleth, or seen not eye to eye with them, have been adjudged as heretics, not to be tolerated but tabooed to the extent of their ability. In vain for them has it been written, “ Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and make manifest the counsels of the hearts." Like their great ancestor of this tribe, they deal in foxes and firebrands, and too often set on fire their neighbours' standing corn, an act we have never been able to com. mend even in Samson. This predilection for foxes and firebrands has anhappily developed in the seed of Dan to this day. And so in the place of Dan, The judge, we get Manasseh, One who forgets, one who, Though cast off by his brethren, forgets and forgives their injuries, and we account it a good exchange, and in the New Jerusalem home where failure will be no more, Dan, " a serpent in the way” or “a lion's whelp,” would be as much out of work as out of place.
Thus, surely, we have in the names of the tribes enumerated as sealed ones, "the excellent of the earth,” upon whom the seal of Divine com. placency rests, as upon those who shall be sheltered in the coming storm and eventually caught away to meet their coming Lord.
These are they “ who dwell in the secret place of the Most High, and abide under the shadow of the Almighty, so that a thousand shall fall at their side and ten thousand at their right hand, but it shall not come nigh them; only with their eyes shall they behold and see the reward of the wicked.” For, like their prototype in Egypt, the children of Israel were sheltered ander the blood while the Angel of death smote their enemies, so these shall be sheltered under this sealing of the angel awhile after the storm of judgment has commenced, and as men of faith they shall shine as stars in the world's midnight. For we read, when locusts, like scorpions, appear under the sounding of the fifth angel, “it was com
manded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree, but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads ” (Rev. ix. 4).
And what are these various names but so many features of the one Name, expressive of the one nature, in which all so endowed shall presently be swallowed up and lost, the one Jehovah-tsidkenu, which name the Bridegroom and the Bride are mutually to share. For this is the name whereby He shall be called, The Lord our Righteousness (Jer. xxiii. 6), and, This is the name wherewith she shall be called, The Lord our Righteousness (Jer. xxxiii. 16), which is seen to be the work of the Holy Spirit during the present age, in visiting the Gentiles “ to take out of them a people for His name” (Acts xv. 14). Having taken out of “ the natural branch," a goodly remnant in the past age, He is now taking out of “ the branch wild by nature but grafted into the good olive tree,” a further remnant, and thus is “making ready a people prepared for the Lord.” And when she shall be seen coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband, both branches shall be seen combined in the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb inscribed on her foundations, and these names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel inscribed on her gates.
Now, that it is the true Israel of God, and not the seed of Jacob after the flesh, which are here intended, should be manifest to the least spiritual discernment, as well as to the most superficial observer of prophecy. Beyond preserving their nationality for the purposes of His grace in the coming age, God has had no dealings in grace with the Jews, nor will He have during this age, wherein they have rejected His Son from becoming their King. If our reading of prophecy be correct, two tribes alone return to Palestine and rebuild their city, which eventually becomes the seat of the Antichrist, and when the nations lay siege to it, it is taken with such difficulty that “two thirds are cut off and die " before the Lord goes forth to plead with those nations and save the third part from extermination.
We ask objectors then, Where ? When? How? as to time, space, or place, could such a work of evangelisation take place among literal Jews as to convert 144,000, and especially twelve thousand of each tribe, when two tribes alone are restored ? And when, during this age, a Jew is converted, does he remain a Jew nationally? Do we not baptize him in the name of Christ as a Christian ? How then shall distinction of Jewish tribe be consistent, under this age, with conversion to Christ their true Messiah ? Rather let us, in reading, understand the words of Amos the prophet of Tekoa, echoed by James the Apostle in Jerusalem, “ After this (age) I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David which is fallen down, and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up; that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles upon whom My name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things" (Acts xv. 16, 17).
Before closing, we venture to suggest to our readers that the 144,000 of Romans vii. 4, and the same number of Rev. xiv. 1, are not identical, although the latter may include the former, as the greater includes the lesser. In each case the number is symbolical of a class that can be numbered and are numbered, and therefore an elect number, distinct from “the multitude which no man can number” (Rev. vii. 9), but the former, on earth, the bride militant, and therefore incomplete, the latter in heaven, the bride triumphant, and therefore complete. These, including as they will the subjects of the first resurrection as well as the living saints changed, may be taken to mean an hundred and forty and four thousand thousand, and not simply an hundred and forty and four thousand units. However that may be, the body in its completeness it will be, Head and members; neither a maimed body, nor a monster ; not one member missing, nor one in excess.
Now for its application. Will all believers be sealed ? Will all teachers of others, professors or preachers of Second Advent truth, prove overcomers ? May not some who have been longest and loudest in testimony to this truth be most in temptation to say, " My Lord delayeth His coming ?”. Can any be accounted overcomers unless they endure in testimony unto the end? And, lastly, we ask, Will all the regenerated be pavilioned during the coming judgments and eventually be caught away to meet the Lord ? We reply: Not unless grace in them has conquered sin, proving them to be servants of our God ; Not unless seeing the Son they become, in comparison with Him, bearers of His likeness; Not unless hearing and obeying Him they become forgotten ones in the world and forgetful of the wrongs done to them, forgive the wrongdoers. Not unless upheld by God and in association with Him, they are seen as the price, reward, and recompence of His soul-travail. Not unless indwelt by God, an habitation for God through the Spirit, they add grace to grace, strength to strength, ever increasing with the increase of God. Not unless as sons of His right hand they are manifestly the praise of their Heavenly Bridegroom. Where spiritual life is developed after this manner, we have no difficulty in tracing the features of the Bride, the Lamb's wife,-nor will “ the angel ascending from the East, having the seal of the living God" for their foreheads (Rev. vii. 2). Hackney, London, E.
STUDIES IN THE LIFE OF CHRIST.
terms and means of man's redemption should be what they are, except that it pleased God so to appoint it. The coming of the Son of God, His victory over evil, His radiant life, His obedience unto death, His resurrection and ascension, are to such persons only mysterious antecedents necessary to the establishment of certain conditions to which, by the arbitrary appointment of Jehovah, the creature man must conform if he would be saved. Christ thus preached is simply a ticket to heaven, and the inference is fairly deducible that had the Father made jumping over a stone exactly two feet high the only way of salvation, it would have equally answered the purpose. It is difficult to comprehend the mental and spiritual limitation in a man whose language could seem to imply such an opinion.