We have been seeing that in the dispensation of the Old Testament the Holy Spirit was operating as the Spirit of prophecy, making everything a prophecy. He was causing everything within the Divine economy to point onward, to imply something further, which was not clear to those who lived in those times and who were most closely connected with what was being done and said; and that comprehensive work of the Holy Spirit through those ages was all heading up to what would be the nature, character and purpose of the dispensation in which we live. This dispensation is marked by two outstanding features - two aspects of one thing. It is the dispensation, firstly, of Christ enthroned at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens, and secondly, of the Holy Spirit here within the Church to make good all that that means. That prophetic activity was many-sided; that is, it pointed to various characteristics of the age which lay ahead; and we have been looking at some of those characteristics in the foregoing chapters.
So that now we start here. We have come to and are living in the dispensation of the spiritual fulfillment of what the prophets foretold, but that fulfillment is not merely and only objective, as in the history of the world or of the Church, in an outward way. That fulfillment is an inward thing, and moreover an inward thing so far as every member of Christ is concerned. It is something which must come down to the youngest. Please do not thing that this is for older or more advanced Christians! It involves every one of us equally.
The first thing that the prophets were occupied with, and which has its fulfillment in an inward way in the members of Christ in this dispensation, is spiritual vision. Everything in the purpose of God, for its fulfillment and for our attainment unto it, rests firstly upon this - that the Holy Spirit has become to us the Spirit of revelation, and has made us to see, in its grand outline, what God is after. The details are filled in as we go on.
(a) The Faculty of Seeing
That has two sides. First of all, there is the faculty of seeing. The prophets had much to say about this. You know that, because of a certain prejudice on the part of the people of Israel, by which they were not disposed to see what God wanted them to see (because they had their own visions and ideas and were not ready for what God wanted), a double-judgment was passed upon them, and the Lord closed their eyes. The word was given to Isaiah for this people: "Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes" (Isaiah 6:9, 10). That was a judgment, and a terrible one: the very faculty of spiritual sight, of vision, was neutralized. It was a terrible judgment, with terrible consequences; for, as we have seen, the ultimate consequence was that they lost all that God intended, and that was no small thing. It passed away from them. It was given to another nation - a heavenly nation. It is a terrible judgment to have a faculty of spiritual sight nullified; and if that is so, it must be a very great thing in the desire and grace and loving kindness of the lord that people should have such vision, such sight.
The faculty for seeing is a birthright of every child of God. Do not think that you have to live the Christian life for a long time, receive much teaching, and reach a certain advanced position, before you begin to see. It is a part of your very new birth. The Lord said to Nicodemus: "Except one be born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). By implication He said, 'When you are born from above, you will see.' The commission to the Apostle Paul was: "... unto whom I send thee, to open their eyes" (Acts 26:17, 18). The very symbolical work of the Lord Jesus in the days of His flesh, in opening the eyes of the blind, was pointing on to what was going to happen when He went above and the Holy Spirit came, and men saw. It is a part of your new birth to see. I am not saying that you will see all at once, that you will see all that those who have gone far on with the Lord are seeing; but the faculty of sight has been given to you. Are you using it? Do you know that it is just as true of your spiritual life as it is of your physical - that you have spiritual eyes, and that they have been opened? If not, get aright down to the Lord about this, because something is wrong.
(b) The Object Seen
And not only the faculty, but the object, of sight; it is a part of the vision. There must be a faculty for seeing before there can be an object seen, but, having the faculty, you must have an object to see; and the object is - what? What was the thing that came to the perception, the recognition, of the people, when the Holy Spirit came? What did they begin to see? They began to see the significance of Jesus Christ, and there is the one very familiar phrase which indicates what that is - "the eternal purpose." They are one and the same thing - the significance of Christ, and God's eternal purpose. The purpose of God from eternity is concerning His Son - the place that His Son holds in the very universe according to God's mind; the tremendous comprehensiveness of Christ; the implications of the very being and existence of Christ; the tremendous consequences that are bound up with Jesus Christ. They did not see it all at once, but they began to see the Lord Jesus They began to see that this was not just a man among men, not just the man of Galilee. No,
He is infinitely greater than that, overwhelming. This mighty impact of a meaning about Jesus Christ is too big to hold, so great that you cannot grasp it. It is overwhelming and devastating. They began to see that; that was their vision: Out of that vision everything else came. Look at them and hear them, recognize what a new and great Christ they have found. what a significant Christ He is, how everything is bound up with Him. All destiny is centered in Him; He is the only consequence.
(continued with # 2)