"Gather My Saints Together" (continued)
In chapter 15 (Genesis) we have the basis of a covenant concerning Abram's seed. Firstly, there is the comprehensive inclusion of the offerings which came in later in Leviticus: a heifer, a goat, a ram, a turtle-dove and a pigeon. These - with the exception of the birds - were divided in the midst, and laid one half on this side and the other half on that side. There were the two sides of the covenant, God's and Abram's. Later we see a flaming torch passing between the two halves (verse 17).
Now, it is clear that Abram knew what this all meant. He realized that it involved him in something. God was saying quite clearly that He was wholly for Abram, that all that He was and had was being committed to this covenant. He would keep nothing back from him, but would, so to speak, place His very life, honor, name, glory, to the good of His word to Abram. This was adequately proved in the long run when He became incarnate in the seed of Abraham for universal blessing. But there were two sides to the covenant, and Abram understood this. He also was handing himself over to God with all that he was and had, to the very dearest possession, and if need be, to death. That burning torch - that Fire of the Spirit - sealed the oneness of the consecration or devotion of each to the other.
Now this explains chapter 33. By that time Isaac was born and had grown out of childhood. He had taken his place, and was to Abraham what a first-born son is to his father in the East. But he was more, because of the miracle of his birth and the long-deferred hope. He was everything to Abraham - more than life itself. All his father's hopes, expectations, vindications, promises and Divine assurances were bound up with him. Accordingly -
"It came to pass after these things, that God did PROVE Abraham, and said to him, Abraham; and he said, Here am I. And He said, Take now thy son, thine only son, whom thou lovest, even Isaac ... and offer him ... for a burnt offering..."
This "proving" was concerning the covenant. Did Abram mean his part of it? Would he stand to it? Did he so utterly believe that God would be faithful to His part that, no matter what happened to Isaac, God could be trusted and His promise would be fulfilled? What a test! But "Abraham believed God" (Romans 4:3). His faith in God enabled him to stand by his part of the covenant, and "he wavered not" (4:20).
The issue was that, when Isaac had virtually been offered, the Lord said to him: "Now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from Me" (Genesis 22:12).
And then the Lord came in with His oath: "By Myself have I sworn ... because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven ..." (verse 16-18).
Do we now see the meaning of 'a covenant by sacrifice'? Then we shall see who it is that will be in the 'gathering together.' It will certainly be only those to whom the Lord is everything, to whom He is all and in all; those who are all for the Lord without reservation, without personal interest, without anything less or other than Himself. Spiritual oneness is only possible on this basis.
The Lord's word at the end to Abraham was: "Now I know that thou fearest God". Malachi's end-time word was: "Then they that feared the Lord ..." (3:16). The fear of the Lord is an utter abandonment to Him, at any cost. It is His will being supreme, claiming and obtaining the measure of a whole burnt-offering.
(continued with # 33 - (The Nature of the Gathering)