The New Thing Which is Old (continued)
From Abel to Noah the deviation becomes more intense and deliberate. The earth - which is the Lord's - is taken possession of by man for his own ends. God reacts to this in the deluge. Emerging from the judgment, Noah builds an altar and offers sacrifice, and in so doing declares, in intent and effect: "The earth" (the renewed earth) "is the Lord's and the fullness thereof" (Psalm 24:1). Again God gets His rights - prophetically - through death and resurrection. But all too soon deviation sets in again. Even Noah is a part of it and fails.
Babel is built and cursed, and under that curse men are scattered to the four corners of the earth. Enoch breaks a long line of death and darkness, as God's reaction. Then, when it would appear that the testimony has disappeared from the earth, there is another Divine reaction and Abraham is apprehended. With Abraham, while the old elements reappear, new ones appear. The features of his life are:
1. Revelation - Vision.
2. A walk of faith - Relationship.
3. A country - The Instrument.
4. An altar - The Basis.
5. Conflict - The Challenge.
6. A covenant - Assurance.
7. A city - The Ultimate Object.
8. Death and Resurrection - The Method.
These factors are elemental and eternal, and behind all historical, typical, symbolic, or earthly presentations, spiritual realities persist unto a universal realization. Isaac comes in, not as a separate breaking in of God, but to give special prominence to the method by which everything has its fulfillment. In his very being he is death and resurrection, and, as such, the way by which human limitation is changed for universal expansion and realization (Genesis 22:16-17). There are other elements in his life which foreshadow the intentions of God - such as his marriage with Rebekah.
The next reaction of God comes with the growing up of Jacob and Esau. These were twin brothers, and represent two halves of the whole; two developments from a spiritual origin; two histories from a holy beginning. Esau takes the earth course, the course of the world and the flesh. Heavenly callings and inheritances are obscured by temporal interests, pursuits, and fancies. The gratifying of the soul life in its earthward relationship is the limit of his horizon. Jacob becomes the type of that which receives the heavenly calling and vision, and passes through the experience of the withering of the flesh to be spiritual instrument in relation to a heavenly purpose. With Jacob there is still further introduction of Divine elements. Up to this point the altar has fixed the bounds of advance. That factor remains basic, but Jacob goes a further step. At Luz he has an open Heaven; a revelation of God; a connecting link between Heaven and earth; a voice from God heard; and certain truths from God deposited with him. On the strength of all this he erects a pillar, anoints it with oil, and calls that place "Bethel", "the house of God."
Thus, the house of God, an abiding heavenly object, comes into view, and is defined by all those elements which we have mentioned. A "pillar" in Scripture always stands for a witness or a testimony (Genesis 31:51); Isaiah 19:19-20; 1 Timothy 3:15; and many others). All this has to be seen more fully; we are only seeking in this chapter to indicate the truth and establish our fact, or rather to point out an established fact.
(continued with # 3)