The Overcomers (continued)
The Two Warships
From that moment he set up a spiritual system of worship which is perceivable behind the whole record of history. We have the breaking in of this evil element all along the line of worship, wherever and whenever the rights of God are recognized by sacrifice. Immediately Abel recognized the rights of God and erected his altar, slaying his sacrifice and shedding sacrificial blood, in the simplicity of the testimony of faith that here on the earth God has sole rights, there broke in this very thing against that testimony. The murderer came in to withstand and destroy the testimony, with Cain as his instrument, who also set up an altar and made a pretence in his darkened understanding to worship God. But he never got through to God, and that was the very ground upon which the satanic element of jealousy and pride was churned up within him, and he became, because the devil had got a purchase upon him, the instrument against the worship of God. The enemy's scheme is deep laid; he knows what he is doing. Through the other worship he breaks in against the recognition of the Divine Rights, the worship of God; and from Abel onward it is always so.
Noah set up his altar upon the renewed earth, and in so doing that "the earth is the Lord's end and the fullness thereof". But very quickly there broke in the other thing again. Even in that representative one the element of evil rises up to contradict the testimony, and before long the worship of God becomes associated with shame, and the glory is hidden again. We see the testimony on the one hand and the breaking in to contradict on the other.
Abram's life story heads up to the incident in Genesis 15, where the altar is finally set and the sacrifice is offered - and then the battle begins. While Abram holds on to God and waits and stands, the vultures descend, and a mighty conflict ensues for the preservation of that testimony to the rights of God, the worship of God; and then comes the horror of great darkness. When Israel, in the fulfillment of the vision which was then given to Abram in that very hour of conflict, came out into the wilderness and the worship of God was set up, there broke in this very same element, and you find the golden calf.
And so the story goes on. You come to Balaam seeking to curse Israel, but not permitted, and then setting up by insinuation the evil thing, fornication - a form of idolatry - and the Lord's glory obscured once more. It was a beautiful picture that Balaam gave in his prophecy, perhaps one of the most beautiful things in the Old Testament. As Balaam stands, desiring for gain to curse, but constrained by the Spirit of God to bless, and as he speaks concerning this people dwelling alone, wonderful things are said and the glory of the Lord is presented concerning Israel; and then, as round by a back door, for that gain he teaches Israel to commit fornication. The glorious picture fades, and the glory of God is again obscured in Israel, because of this other worship. The rights of God are all the time disputed.
Then we have the wonderful story of Solomon. On the one hand, his building of the House, his setting up of the altar, and the glory of God descending. Here you have the Cross and the Church and the Spirit. On the other hand, the after-story of Solomon. What a tragedy - what a ghastly tragedy! the glory of God contradicted again by the very man who had so beautifully set up the testimony in Israel. The devil is breaking in all the time to take God's rights from Him, to rob Him of His glory.
(continued with # 16)