Romans 8:19, 21-23; Hebrews 1:2; 2:5-8, 9-11; 3:1, 7-8; 12:5-6; Revelation 12:5
In our previous meditation, we were occupied with the School of sonship unto adoption. We are now going to follow that on to the next stage.
We were seeing a little of the nature, meaning and need for transition from spiritual infancy to the School of Sonship. A very real experience is that transition and a very deep one for those who enter into it. A whole new set of conditions perfectly strange to us is connected with that further movement in the life of a child of God which marks the passage from spiritual childhood to spiritual sonship, or the School of Sonship.
I suppose most of us remember when we went to a new school, or when we went to school for the first time. Everything was strange, everything was new. We had to take up things from the very first point. It was an entirely new world: and so it in the life of the child of God. It is an entirely new world, a new set of conditions, something with which we are altogether unfamiliar when that point is reached where God takes us in hand to see that we are no longer children, but are brought into the School of Sonship with adoption in view, adoption, of course, according to the Divine meaning of that word, not or natural meaning.
The Purpose of Our Graduation as Sons
Now we are going for a little while to consider the graduation from the School of Sonship, graduating to that for which school has been going on, all that child-training which, as the Lord Himself knows and let us know that He knows, is for the present not joyous but grievous. But there is the graduation day.
The whole creation waits for that graduation day with bated breath and an inward yearning, the day of the manifestation of the sons of God, the placing of sons to which we referred in our previous meditation, which is the meaning of the word "adoption"; not bringing into the family, but the placing of sons who have qualified through the school. And what is the graduation of sonship, unto what is it? It is unto the Throne.
Not unto angels [not unto angels of any rank, not
even the highest rank of archangels] did he subject
the world to come, whereof we speak. But one hath
somewhere testified, saying, What is man, that
thou art mindful of him? Or the son of man, that
thou [settest him apart]? A.S.V.
That is the true rendering of the latter sentence; not "visited him" as we commonly use the word, but "settest him apart"; that man, in a word, is in view with God from eternity for this purpose, to have the throne, the government, the dominion over the world to come in union with God's Son, as the sons brought by that Son to glory.
There is the Heir in Hebrews 1:2 - "... whom he hath appointed heir of all things ..." There are the heirs in chapter 2 - "... bringing many sons unto glory ..."
The throne is that which is in view at the end of school, the graduation, and it is that which is referred to in Revelation 12. The governing principle of Revelation 12 is sonship brought out to completion, a man child. "She was delivered of a son, a man child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron [This is sonship]: and her child was caught up unto God, and unto his throne". That is the graduation.
The Man Child of Revelation 12
Now, I am going to stay for the miserable business of getting rid of a few misconceptions about this chapter. The accepted and firmly held view concerning this chapter is, that this woman is Israel and that this man child is Christ. I will not impute motives and reasons to the holders of that view, but it does seem to me that only a prejudiced mind could hold it, a mind not willing to accept what is, I think, quite patently the truth.
This Book of Revelation begins with a pronouncement from Heaven that what is going t be shown is "things which must shortly come to pass," and that pronouncement was made years and years after Christ had gone to Heaven. It was future. Moreover, when Christ went to Heaven, satan was not cast out of Heaven as is the case of Revelation 12; for nearly forty years after Christ went to Heaven, Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians, and in chapter 6 we have this revelation of the nature and sphere of the Church's warfare: "Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places". satan was not deposed when Christ was caught up to the throne. Thirdly, the dragon was not cheated of his prey in the case of the Lord Jesus. The Lord Jesus was slain by the dragon, and it is a part of the great and glorious truth that it was through death that he destroyed him that had the power of death, namely, the devil. satan, the dragon, thought he had swallowed up Christ perhaps, but he discovered that he had been swallowed up. But the Lord Jesus did not escape the great red dragon by a rapture; not at all. The dragon got him so far and slew him. But therein is the glorious sovereignty of God, and that is another line of truth altogether: God's sovereignty wrought in the very presence of satan's triumph. That that is not this.
Then this woman is a paradox, a contradiction. She is at one and the same time in Heaven clothed in glory and on the earth clothed with trouble and travail. She is clothed with the sun in Heaven, and yet in the next breath she is travailing on the earth. Is not that just exactly what we have in the letter to the Ephesians about the Church? In the heavenlies, in Christ Jesus blessed with every spiritual blessing, and yet at the same time the letter shows us very clearly right at the heart of it that the Church is down here and in conflict.
She has an earthly walk and is meeting things down here while at the same time in the heavenlies. A contradiction apparently: at one and the same time in Haven glorious and yet on earth in tribulation. That is the Church. Well, is not that enough, though there is a lot more here?
I know there is another interpretation: that this was not only Israel but Christ Himself, and that we are the seed of Christ. But that is only just allowed to go so far. It does not carry us through satisfactorily. But this is the main position held about Israel and Christ, and I say I do not see how it can hold water in the light of even the two or three things that we have just noted.
You see, you have a correspondence here. In Revelation 2:26-27 you have these very words addressed to the overcomers in the church at Thyatira - "He that overcometh ... to him will I give authority over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron". Then in a letter to the church in Laodicea we have these further words: "He that overcometh, I will give to him to sit down with me in my throne, as I also overcame, and sat down with my Father in his throne". There is the throne for overcomers and the rule of the nations! Then those very words are reiterated in chapter 12 about the man child caught up to the throne to rule the nation with a rod of iron. And I do not see that we can divorce those words from Hebrews 2 - Thou madest him (man) in order to have (that is the sense of the word) dominion over the works of thy hands. Of course there is the union between Christ and His own; that is what Hebrews is speaking about. "Christ as a son over [God's] house, whose house we are ..."
So then, having said that much - and I think it is enough, I am not dealing with all the data and points in this chapter - having said that much, we want to come right to our point in this meditation.
The graduation from the School of sonship is to the throne, and it is that throne, with what it means with regard to vocation, to service, to purpose in relation to God's eternal intention, that is in view while God is dealing with us, when God takes us out of the comfortable, pleasant time of spiritual infancy and childhood, where everything is done for us, and puts us into that experience where the thing has to be wrought in us and where through this deep exercise of our spiritual faculties or senses, we become spiritually responsible sons of God. it is with this in view that God deals with us as with sons. Now, to grasp the meaning of that, what it implies. It implies one or two rather important things.
(continued with # 30 - "Spiritual Increase Related to the Throne and the Glory of the Lord")