God's Ultimate Standard (continued)
Now, seeing that this is not a whole book, we must sum up thus far. What comes out as governing his contemplation is this: whichever school of interpretation may be our - historicist, futurist, spiritual, or none of them - one thing governs the whole section (chapters one to three). It is that, whenever things have departed from the pristine glory, fullness, and power, and a decline to a lesser and lower spiritual measure and level has taken place, the Divine method of recovery is a fresh presentation and unveiling of Christ in His fullness and true character. Before there can be any hopeful dealing with the details of the situations which are wrong; that is, before taking a negative course of condemnation, judgment, warning, etc., the Lord presents, or re-presents the positive standard of His Son. This has always been the principle on which God has acted, as we could show from many instances. Unless we have a positive better to present, we have no ground for being negative in judgment, criticism, or attitude. There must be a Divine criterion by which all things are measured. People will only see the wrong and be ashamed if the right is set before them. "Show the house to the house of Israel that they may be ashamed" was the command of God to Ezekiel. The Lord would, in our time, have His prophets who can - like John - bring fullness and significance of Christ before His people. So the whole book of the "Revelation" is governed by the initial unveiling and presenting of Jesus Christ in full stature and detailed character.
The Foundation of Recovered Testimony
In our first chapter our main point was that this book of the Revelation is, in its first section, a call-back to a position which had been lost by most of that representative body of first Christians. The first chapter must be read in that light, and it is that fact which will most truly interpret its symbolical content. The following messages to the churches must also be related to the full presentation of Christ in chapter one. This will become clear as we proceed. We reached the point where we saw that the "garment down to the foot" introduces all that follows as signifying the fullness and completeness of Christ as the standard for the Church and churches. More will be said about this later. For the present we are going to take a step backward, and a step forward because this full-stature description of Christ stands between two important fragments. Verse 5: "Unto Him That loveth us, and loosed us from our sins in His blood," and verse 18: "I was (became) dead, and behold I am alive for evermore." These words, as we have said, form the boundary within which Christ is heavenly fullness is presented. This boundary, or basis, is something to be very carefully noted, for its significance is immensely important. Whenever God has moved for the recovery of the lost testimony (Revelation 1:2) He has always called back to the Cross. That was always His starting point, and any deviation will necessitate a return there. There are three very clear and strong instances in the Old Testament. These were in the reigns of Josiah and Hezekiah respectively, and later, in the time of Ezra. In the revivals under Josiah and Hezekiah recovery was definitely related to the Passover.
Three Features In That Connection Are Noticeable:
(a) It is impressive and instructive that the two godly kings concerned were characterized by a clear perception as to the key to the prevailing spiritual weakness and complications, Not a "conference" or "convention" or "convocation." Not a "round-table discussion." Not an entertainment or "holiday camp." But a celebration of the Passover. A solemn yet joyful reaffirmation and celebration of the one fundamental and inclusive basis of their live as the people of God. The Passover had constituted them God's distinctive people, and it had, year by year, been the central power in their testimony. That both Josiah and Hezekiah discerned that this was the ground of resolving the so deplorable situation, and not any of the other methods resorted to since, is a very clear evidence of the sovereign guidance and instruction of the Spirit of God. The Passover had all the aspects and content of the Cross of Christ, just as the Lord's Table - or Supper - is the inclusive embodiment of everything foundational to New Testament Christianity.
In the case of Ezra, it has only to be pointed out that after the seventy years of Israel's exile, when the "Remnant" returned, it was the altar which was the center and focal-point of the recovery of testimony.
With the Church in the New Testament the testimony becomes definitely the Testimony of Jesus, and, as we are seeing, after decline at the end of the apostolic period, the Lord works again for recovery by introducing and presenting Himself in terms of the Cross.
(b) The second thing noted in this method and means of revival and recovery is that the Passover was:
(continued with # 10 - (The All-Uniting Ground)