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Saturday, December 27, 2014

God's Reactions to Man's Defections # 20

The Altar, The House, The Name

Let us now gather up in a positive presentation - even at the risk of some repetition - what we believe to be the essence and substance of that testimony for which the Lord has ever reacted, and would now react, in a day of declension. There are three words which represent this testimony, and these three words may be clearly seen to govern and interpret the whole of the Scriptures. There is no part of the Scriptures which does not relate in some way to one or more of the objects which these words denote. They are, in the Old Testament: THE ALTAR, THE HOUSE, THE NAME; or, in the New Testament: THE BLOOD, THE CHURCH, THE SOVEREIGNTY.

The Altar and the Blood

Every reaction and new beginning that has come from God has been by an altar. The first of these was that of Abel, although there must have been an earlier shedding of blood, when the consciousness of being uncovered led to God's clothing or covering the expelled two with skins of animals. Then, when that world was  wiped out in judgment by the flood, a new beginning was made with Noah's altar. When there was nothing of a distinctive character speaking for God in the days of Abram, the Lord laid His hand upon him, called him out as an elect instrument, and brought him to an elect land; and there, with the man and the place of His new beginning brought together, an altar was erected. There was a brief lapse when Abram went down to Egypt, but on his return the original ground was re-taken with a reconstructed altar.

Thus a distinctive seed was marked out; and some four hundred years later, that seed being constituted a corporate testimony against world-wide misrepresentation of God, an altar was the conspicuous factor, initially and continuously. It is significant that, although many thousands of lambs were slain on the night of the separation of that people from Egypt, the record always speaks on the singular, never in the plural. It was always "the lamb" or "a lamb." In God's sight there was only One Lamb, and although every threshold was an altar, there was only one Altar in Heaven's view. (The word in Exodus 12:22, translated "bason", is in the Hebrew "threshold.")

This truth of new beginnings with the altar can be clearly seen afterward in the case of the receiving of the Law and the pattern of the heavenly things by Moses. The great altar of the Tabernacle and Temple governed the life of Israel for many years, until the times of declension set in, and then each movement back toward God was marked by the altar coming again into its place. It was so in Elijah's stand, in 1 Kings 18; and it was so with the revival under Hezekiah, in 2 Chronicles 30. It was so again with Josiah - 2 Chronicles 35. But hardly had Josiah passed off the scene that his work fell in ruins. Judgment fell, Jerusalem was destroyed, the Temple burnt, and the people went into captivity. After seventy years a remnant returned, and we read in Ezra 3:3 that the first thing that the remnant did was to "set the altar in its place."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 21)

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