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Next: Volume II

THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW: AN EXPOSITION
BY
ARNO C. GAEBELEIN
VOLUME I


COPYRIGHT 1910, In the Public Domain


Scanned, edited and presented by the
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October 2005


                             Contents Volume I

Introduction - 3

Chapter
     I - 17
     II - 38
     III - 53
     IV - 79
     V - 105
     VI - 131
     VII - 150
     VIII - 165
     IX - 184
     X - 203
     XI - 218
     XII - 234
     XIII - 259

                                    _3

                               INTRODUCTION.

     The Gospel of Matthew stands first among the Gospels and in the New
Testament, because it was first written and may be rightly termed the
Genesis of the New Testament. Genesis, the first book of the Bible,
contains in itself the entire Bible, and so it is with the first Gospel; it
is the book of the beginnings of a new dispensation. It is like a mighty
tree. The roots are deeply sunk in massive rocks while its uncountable
branches and twigs extend upward higher and higher in perfect symmetry and
beauty. The foundation is the Old Testament with its Messianic and Kingdom
promises. Out of this all is developed in perfect harmony, reaching higher
and higher into the new dispensation and to the beginning of the millennial
age.

     The instrument chosen by the Holy Spirit to write this Gospel was
Matthew. He was a Jew. However, he did not belong to the religious,
educated class, to the scribes; but he belonged to the class which was most
bitterly hated. He was a publican, that is a tax gatherer. The Roman
government had appointed officials whose duty it was to have the legal tax
gathered, and these officials, mostly, if not all Gentiles, appointed the
actual collectors, who were generally Jews. Only the most unscrupulous
among the Jews would hire themselves out for the sake of gain to the avowed
enemy of Jerusalem. Wherever there was still a ray of hope for Messiah's
coming, the Jew would naturally shrink from being associated with the
Gentiles, who were to be swept away from the land with the coming of the
King. For this reason the tax gatherers, being Roman employees, were hated
by the Jews even more bitterly than the Gentiles themselves. Such a hated
tax gatherer was the writer of the first Gospel. How the grace of God is
revealed in his call we shall see later. That he was chosen to write this
first Gospel is in itself significant, for it speaks of a new order of
things about to be introduced, namely, the call of the despised Gentiles.

     Internal evidences seem to show that most likely originally Matthew
wrote the Gospel in Aramaeic, the Semitic dialect then spoken in Palestine.
The Gospel was later translated into Greek. This, however, is certain, that
the Gospel of Matthew is pre-eminently the Jewish Gospel. There are many
passages in it, which in their fundamental meaning can only be correctly
understood by one who is quite familiar with Jewish customs and the
traditional teachings of the elders. Because it is the Jewish Gospel, it is
dispensational throughout. It is safe to say that a person, no matter how
learned or devoted, who does not hold the clearly revealed dispensational
truths concerning the Jews, the Gentiles and the church of God will fail to
understand Matthew. This is, alas, too much the case, and well it would be
if it were not more than individual failure to understand; but it is more
than that. Confusion, error, false doctrine is the final outcome, when the
right key to any part of God's Word is lacking. If the dispensational
character of Matthew were understood, no ethical teaching from the
so-called Sermon on the Mount at the expense of the Atonement of our Lord
Jesus Christ would be possible, nor would there be room for the subtle,
modern delusion, so universal now, of a "social Christianity" which aims at
lifting up the masses and the reformation of the world. How different
matters would be in Christendom if its leading teachers and preachers,
commentators and professors, had understood and would understand the
meaning of the seven parables in Matthew 13, with its deep and solemn
lessons. When we think how many of the leaders of religious thought reject
and even oppose all dispensational teachings, and never learned how to
divide the Word of truth rightly, it is not strange that so many of these
men dare to stand up and say that the Gospel of Matthew as well as the
other Gospels and the different parts of the New Testament contain numerous
contradictions and errors.
 
     Out of this failure to discern dispensational truths has likewise
arisen the attempt, by a very well meaning class, to harmonize the Gospel
records and to arrange all the events in the life of our Lord in a
chronological order, and thus produce a life of Jesus Christ, our Lord, as
we have a descriptive life of Napoleon or other great men. The Holy Spirit
has never undertaken to produce a life of Christ. That is very evident by
the fact that the greater part of the life of our Lord is passed over in
silence. Nor was it in the mind of the Spirit to report all the words and
miracles and the movements of our Lord, or to record all the events which
took place during His public ministry, and to arrange them in a
chronological order. What presumption, then, in man to attempt to do that
which the Holy Spirit never attempted! If the Holy Spirit never intended
that the records of our Saviour should be strictly chronological, how vain
and foolish then, if not more, the attempt to bring out a harmony of the
different Gospels! One has correctly said, "The Holy Spirit is not a
reporter, but an editor." This is well said. A reporter's business is to
report events as they happen. The editor arranges the material in a way to
suit himself, and leaves out or makes comment just as he thinks best. This
the Holy Spirit has done in giving four Gospels, which are not a mechanical
reporting of the doings of a person called Jesus of Nazareth, but the
spiritual unfoldings of the blessed person and work of our Saviour and
Lord, as King of the Jews, servant in obedience, Son of Man and the only
begotten of the Father. We cannot enter more deeply into this now, but in
the exposition of our Gospel we shall illustrate this fact.

     In the Gospel of Matthew, as the Jewish Gospel, speaking of the King
and the kingdom, dispensational throughout, treating of the Jews, the
Gentiles and even the church of God in anticipation, as no other Gospel
does, everything must be looked upon from the dispensational point of view.
All the miracles recorded, the words spoken, the events which are given in
their peculiar setting, every parable, every chapter from beginning to end,
are first of all to be looked upon as foreshadowing and teaching
dispensational truths. This is the right key to the Gospel of Matthew. It
is likewise a significant fact that in the condition of the people Israel,
with their proud religious leaders rejecting the Lord, their King and the
threatened judgment in consequence of it, is a true photograph of the end
of the present dispensation, and in it we shall see the coming doom of
Christendom. The characteristics of the times, when our Lord appeared among
His people, who were so religious, self-righteous, being divided into
different sects, Ritualists (Pharisees) and Rationalists (Sadducees --
Higher Critics), following the teachings of men, occupied with man-made
creeds and doctrines, etc., and all nothing but apostasy, are exactly
reproduced in Christendom, with its man-made ordinances, rituals and
rationalistic teachings. We hope to follow out this thought in our
exposition.

     There are seven great dispensational parts which are prominent in this
Gospel and around which everything is grouped. We will briefly review them.

     I. -- The King. The Old Testament is full of promises which speak of
the coming, not alone of a deliverer, a sinbearer, but of the coming of a
King, King Messiah as He is still called by orthodox Jews. This King was
eagerly expected, hoped for and prayed for by the pious in Israel. It is
still so with many Jews in our days. The Gospel of Matthew proves that our
Lord Jesus Christ is truly the promised King Messiah. In it we see Him as
King of the Jews, everything shows that He is in truth the royal person, of
whom Seers and Prophets, as well as inspired Psalmists, wrote and sang.
First it would be necessary to prove that He is legally the King. This is
seen in the first chapter, where a genealogy is given which proves His
royal descent. The beginning is, "Book of the generation of Jesus Christ,
Son of David, Son of Abraham."* It goes back to Abraham and there it stops,
while in Luke the genealogy reaches up to Adam. In the Gospel of Matthew He
is seen as Son of David, His royal descent; Son of Abraham, according to
the flesh from the seed of Abraham.

     *We use a translation of the New Testament which was made years ago by
J.N. Darby, and which for correctness is the very best we have ever seen.
We can heartily recommend it.

     The coming of the Magi is only recorded in Matthew. They come to
worship the new born King of the Jews. His royal birthplace, David's city,
is given. The infant is worshipped by the representatives of the Gentiles
and they do homage indeed before a true King, though the marks of poverty
were around Him. The gold they gave speaks of His royalty. Every true King
has a herald, so the King Messiah. The forerunner appears and in Matthew
his message to the nation is that "The Kingdom of heaven has drawn nigh";
the royal person so long foretold is about to appear and to offer that
Kingdom. When the King who was rejected comes again to set up the Kingdom,
He will be preceded once more by a herald who will declare His coming among
His people Israel, even Elijah the prophet. In the fourth chapter we see
the King tested and proven that He is the King. He is tested thrice, once
as Son of Man, as Son of God and as the King Messiah. After the testing,
out of which He comes forth a complete victor, He begins His ministry. The
Sermon on the Mount (we shall use the phrase though it is not scriptural)
is given in Matthew in full. Mark and Luke report it only in fragments and
John has not a word of it. This should at once determine the status of the
three chapters which contain this discourse. It is teaching concerning the
Kingdom, the magna charta of the Kingdom and all its principles. Such a
kingdom in the earth, with subjects who have all the characteristics of the
royal requirements laid down in this discourse will yet be. If Israel had
accepted the King it would then have come, but the kingdom has been
postponed. The Kingdom will at last come with a righteous nation as a
center, but Christendom is not that kingdom. In this wonderful discourse
the Lord speaks as the King and as the Lawgiver, who expounds the law which
is to rule His Kingdom. From the eighth to the twelfth chapters, we see the
royal manifestations of Him who is Jehovah manifested in the flesh. 

     This part especially is interesting and very instructive, because it
gives in a series of miracles, the dispensational outline of the Jew, the
Gentile, and what comes after the present age is past.

     As King He sends out His servants and endues them with kingdom power,
preaching likewise the nearness of the kingdom. After the tenth chapter the
rejection begins followed by His teachings in parables, the revealing of
secrets. He is presented to Jerusalem as King, and the Messianic welcome is
heard, "Blessed is He who cometh in the name of Jehovah." After that His
suffering and His death. In all His Kingly character is brought out, and
the Gospel closes abruptly, and has nothing to say of His ascension to
heaven; but the Lord is, so to speak, left on the earth with power, all
power in heaven and on earth. In this closing it is seen that He is the
King. He rules in heaven now and on the earth when He comes again.

     II. -- The Kingdom. The phrase Kingdom of the Heavens occurs only in
the Gospel of Matthew. We find it thirty-two times. What does it mean? Here
is the failure of the interpretation of the Word, and all error and the
confusion around us springs from the false conception of the Kingdom of the
Heavens. It is generally taught and understood that the term Kingdom of the
Heavens means the church, and thus the church is thought to be the true
Kingdom of the Heavens, established in the earth, and conquering the
nations and the world. The Kingdom of the Heavens is not the church, and
the church is not the Kingdom of the Heavens. This is a very vital truth.
May the exposition of this Gospel be used in making this distinction very
clear in the minds of our readers. When our Lord speaks of the Kingdom of
the Heavens up to the twelfth chapter He does not mean the church, but the
Kingdom of the Heavens in its Old Testament sense, as it is promised to
Israel, to be established in the land, with Jerusalem for a center, and
from there to spread over all the nations and the entire earth. What did
the pious, believing Jew expect according to the Scriptures? He expected
(and still expects) the coming of the King Messiah, who is to occupy the
throne of His father David. He was expected to bring judgment for the
enemies of Jerusalem, and bring together the outcasts of Israel. The land
would flourish as never before; universal peace would be established;
righteousness and peace in the knowledge of the glory of the Lord to cover
the earth as the waters cover the deep. All this in the earth with the
land, which is Jehovah's land, as fountain head, from which all the
blessings, the streams of living waters, flow. A temple, a house of
worship, for all nations was expected to stand in Jerusalem, to which the
nations would come to worship the Lord. This is the Kingdom of the Heavens
as promised to Israel and as expected by them. It is all earthly. The
church, however, is something entirely different. The hope of the church,
the place of the church, the calling of the church, the destiny of the
church, the reigning and ruling of the church is not earthly, but it is
heavenly. Now the King long expected had appeared, and He preached the
Kingdom of the Heavens having drawn nigh, that is, this promised earthly
kingdom for Israel. When John the Baptist preached, "Repent ye, for the
kingdom of the Heavens has drawn nigh," he meant the same. It is all wrong
to preach the Gospel from such a text and state that the sinner is to
repent and then the Kingdom will come to him. A very well known English
teacher of spiritual truths gave not long ago in this country a discourse
on the mistranslated text, "The Kingdom of God is within you," and dwelt
largely on the fact that the Kingdom is within the believer. The context
shows that this is erroneous, and the true translation is "The Kingdom is
among you;" that is, in the person of the King.

     Now if Israel had accepted the testimony of John, and had repented,
and if they had accepted the King, the Kingdom would have come, but now it
has been postponed till Jewish disciples will pray again in preaching the
coming of the Kingdom, "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth as it
is done in heaven." That will be after the church has been removed to the
heavenly places. The history of the Kingdom is given in the second chapter.
The Gentiles first, and Jerusalem does not know her King and is in trouble
on account of Him.

     III. -- The King and the Kingdom is rejected. This is likewise
foretold in the Old Testament, Isaiah 53, Daniel 9:25, Psalm 22, etc. It is
also seen in types, Joseph, David and others. The herald of the King is
first rejected and ends in the prison, being murdered. This speaks of the
rejection of the King Himself. In no other Gospel is the story of the
rejection so completely told as here. It begins in Galilee, in His own
city, and ends in Jerusalem. The rejection is not human but it is Satanic.
All the wickedness and depravity of the heart is uncovered and Satan
revealed throughout. All classes are concerned in the rejection. The crowds
who had followed Him and were fed by Him, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the
Herodians, the priests, the chief priests, the high priest, the elders. At
last it becomes evident that they knew Him who He was, their Lord and their
King, and wilfully they delivered Him into the hands of the Gentiles. The
story of the cross in Matthew, too, brings out the darkest side of the
rejection. Thus prophecy is seen fulfilled in the rejection of the King.
13

     IV. -- The rejection of His Earthly People and their Judgment. This is
another theme of the Old Testament which is very prominent in the Gospel of
Matthew. They rejected Him and He leaves them, and judgment falls upon
them. In the eleventh chapter He reproaches the cities in which most of His
works of power had taken place, because they had not repented. At the end
of the twelfth chapter He denies His relations and refuses to see His own,
while in the beginning of the thirteenth He leaves the house and goes down
to the sea, the latter term typifies the nations. After His royal
presentation to Jerusalem the next day early in the morning He curses the
fig tree, which foreshadows Israel's national death, and after He uttered
His two parables to the chief priests and elders, He declares that the
Kingdom of God is to be taken away from them and is to be given to a nation
which is to bring the fruit thereof. The whole twenty-third chapter
contains the woes upon the Pharisees, and at the end He speaks to Jerusalem
and declares that their house is to be left desolate till they shall say,
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.

     V. -- The mysteries of the Kingdom of the Heavens. The kingdom has
been rejected by the people of the kingdom and the King Himself has left
the earth. During His absence the Kingdom of the Heavens is in the hands of
men. There is then the kingdom in the earth in an entirely different form
than it was revealed in the Old Testament, the mysteries of the kingdom
hidden from the world's foundation are now made known. This we learn in
Matthew
14
13, and here, too, we have at least a glimpse of the church. Again it is to
be understood that both are not identical. But what is the kingdom in its
mystery form? The seven parables will teach this to us. It is seen there in
an evil mixed condition. The church, the one body, is not evil, for the
church is composed of those who are beloved of God, called saints, but
Christendom, including all professors, is properly that Kingdom of the
Heavens in the thirteenth chapter. The parables bring out what may be
termed the history of Christendom. It is a history of failure, becoming
that which the King never meant it to be, the leaven of evil, indeed,
leavening the whole lump, and thus it continues till the King comes back,
when all the offences will be gathered out of the kingdom. The parable of
the pearl alone speaks of the church.

     VI. -- The Church. In no other Gospel is anything said of the church
except in the Gospel of Matthew. In the sixteenth chapter Peter gives his
testimony concerning the Lord, revealed to him from the Father, who is in
the heavens. The Lord tells him that on this rock I will build My assembly
-- church -- and hades' gates shall not prevail against it. It is not I
have built, but I will build My church. Right after this promise He speaks
of His suffering and death. The transfiguration which follows the first
declaration of His coming death, speaks of the glory which will follow, and
is a type of the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:16).
Much that follows after the declaration of the Lord concerning the building
of the church is to be applied to the church.
15

     VII. -- The Mount of Olivet Discourse. Prophetic Teachings Concerning
the End of the Age. This discourse was given to the disciples after the
Lord had spoken His last word to Jerusalem. It is one of the most
remarkable sections of the entire Gospel. We find it in the 24th and 25th
chapters. In it the Lord teaches concerning the Jews, the Gentiles and the
Church of God; Christendom is in it likewise. The order is different. The
Gentiles stand last. The reason for that is because the church will be
removed first from the earth and the professors of Christendom will be
left, and are nothing but Gentiles and concerned in the judgment of nations
as made known by the Lord. The first part of Matthew 24 is Jewish
throughout. From the fourth to the forty-fifth verse we have a most
important prophecy, which gives the events which follow after the church is
taken from the earth. The Lord takes here many of the Old Testament
prophecies and blends them in one great prophecy. The history of the last
week in Daniel is here. The middle of the week after the first three years
and a half is verse 15. Revelation, chapters 6-19 is all contained in these
words of our Lord. He gave, then, the same truths, only more enlarged and
in detail, from heaven as a last word and warning. Three parables follow in
which the saved and the unsaved are seen. Waiting and serving is the
leading thought. Reward and casting out into outward darkness the twofold
outcome. This, then, finds an application in Christendom and the church.
The ending of Matthew 25 is the judgment of nations. This is not the
universal judgment, a popular term in Christendom, but unscriptural, but it
is the judgment of the nations at the time when our Lord as Son of Man sits
upon the throne of His glory.

     Many of the most interesting facts in the Gospel, the peculiar
quotations from the Old Testament, the perfect structure, etc., etc., we
cannot give in this introduction and outline, but we hope to bring them
before us in our exposition. May, then, the Spirit of Truth guide us into
all the truth".

                                    _17

                                 CHAPTER I

     The first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew is divided into two parts.
In the first to the seventeenth verse we find the genealogy of Jesus
Christ, and in the last part of the chapter the account of the birth of the
promised One. In the second half we see Him as Son of God and Saviour,
while in the first, in the genealogy, His royal descent is proven. He is
the rightful heir to David's throne, and thus His Kingship is legally
established.

     The two Greek words with which this Gospel begins are "Biblos
geneseos," the book of the generation, which corresponds to a similar Old
Testament expression frequently found in the Scriptures (Genesis 6:9.,
etc.) The very beginning of this Gospel shows clearly that this is the
Jewish Gospel. The question of genealogy is an all important one for the
Jew. The genealogy which appears in the Gospel of Luke does not stand there
in the beginning, but it comes in with the third chapter, after the account
of the Saviour's birth, and the ministry of the forerunner, and when He
begins His public ministry. In the Gospel of Luke He is the Son of man, and
not as in Matthew, the King. In Luke it is a going backward clear to Adam,
while in the genealogy in Matthew it is the opposite; not like in Luke,
beginning with His earthly name, Jesus, but beginning with Abraham, it goes
forward till the end is reached in Joseph, the husband of Mary. The first
verse in Matthew may be termed a superscription for the genealogy which
follows, Book of generation of Jesus Christ, "Son of David, Son of
Abraham." How truly He is all that, is now to be established, Son of David,
because a King is promised to rule in righteousness upon the throne of His
father David; but in a larger sense, Seed of Abraham, through whom all the
families of the earth are to be blessed, and the nations to receive
spiritual blessings. How incorrect it would have been if it had said, Book
of generation of Jesus Christ, Son of Abraham, Son of David. That would
have been the rendering by man, but the Holy Spirit puts David here before
Abraham, though in the genealogy itself Abraham is the head, the first one.
Jesus Christ is first the Son of David, and as such He is to be presented
to the nation Israel, as King, and to be rejected by them. He is after that
in the wider sense the One through whom the promises of blessing in Abraham
to the nations are to be fulfilled. How clearly this proves the verbal
inspiration! Indeed, if there is no verbal inspiration there is no
inspiration at all.

     It is not rarely the case that readers of the New Testament have asked
themselves why all these names appear in the first chapter. We have
answered many questions and have written numerous letters during the last
eight years in answer to inquiries from the Jews on account of the
genealogy, as it appears here, and the apparent contradictions and
discrepancies between Matthew and Luke. Many a Jew has come and asked, Why
must a man have two genealogies, and which is the right one? When the Jew
takes the New Testament and opens it with Matthew, he finds himself upon
familiar ground. It is the first question with him, if Jesus of Nazareth is
the Messiah, Son of David, it must be proven by a genealogy. Does the New
Testament, in the genealogies in Matthew and in Luke, prove this? is the
important question the Jew asks. We have often asked the Jewish inquirer,
Supposing Jesus of Nazareth was not the Messiah, not the Son of David, then
you would expect the coming of a Messiah who is a Son of David, born in
Bethlehem; how could that coming Messiah prove that he is really the Son of
David, when your genealogical registers have been lost centuries ago?
Others, too, have had difficulty on account of these two genealogies. We
will state the case and what they teach in a few words.

     In the genealogy of Matthew Jesus Christ is shown to be the King
legally; in the Gospel of Luke we have His genealogy as the Son of Man, and
as such linked with the whole race. The genealogy in Matthew proves that
Joseph is a descendant of David through the house of Solomon. The one in
the Gospel of Luke proves that Mary, the virgin, is likewise a descendant
of David, but not through the house of Solomon; she is connected with David
through the house of Nathan. The Messiah was to be born of a virgin, one
who must be a descendant of David. But a woman has no right to the throne.
As the son of the virgin alone He could not have a legal right to the
throne. For this reason to make the One begotten in her of the Holy Ghost,
the rightful heir to the throne of David in the eyes of the nation, the
virgin had to be the wife of a man who had a perfect, unchallenged right to
the throne. Now the genealogy in Matthew shows that Joseph is a son of
David, and thus entitled to the throne, therefore Jesus is legally in this
way heir to the throne. He is the legal descendant and heir of David
through Joseph, but never Joseph's Son. He was supposed by the people to be
the Son of Joseph. "And Jesus Himself, when He began to teach, was about
thirty years of age; being, as was supposed, the Son of Joseph" (Luke
3:23). "And they said, Is not this the Son of Joseph?" (Luke 4:22). His
claim as being truly the Son of David was therefore never disputed. Now if
He had been the Son of Joseph according to the flesh, He would never be and
could never be our Saviour. The 51st Psalm would then have found an
application. "I was shapen in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive
me." On the other hand, if He had been the Son of Mary, without she being
legally the wife of a Son of David, the Jews would have rejected His claim
from the very outset. We see then that legally He was the Son of Joseph; in
His humanity, He is the Son of Mary, and then one step higher, as we read
in the closing verses, He is the Son of God. The two genealogies show Him
as King -- Son of man and Son of God -- as the One born of Mary, but
begotten in her of the Holy Ghost.

     The genealogy in Matthew speaks of decadence. Corruption, ruin and
hopelessness is clearly brought out in it. It begins with Abraham. And as
generation after generation is mentioned, it puts before us the shameful
history of Israel, with their unbelief, apostasy and judgments. At last it
becomes all dark and all hopeless as far as Israel is concerned. Like
Sarah's womb, as she indeed stands in type for the nation, the whole nation
was dead, no hope, all ruin and corruption. But God can bring life from the
dead. "But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, come
of woman, come under the law, that He might redeem those under the law,
that we might receive sonship" (Gal. 4:4). It is so with this present
dispensation, for after awhile when the Lord has taken to Himself His
Church, darkness, ruin and evil will prevail, and in the darkest hour of
Israel's believing remnant and in the history of the world, the Firstborn
will come again into the habitable world surrounded by worshipping angels
(Heb. 1:6).

     The division of the genealogy is threefold. From Abraham to David,
from David to the carrying away into the Babylonian captivity, and from the
carrying away into Babylon to Christ (verse 17). In each division are
fourteen generations, twice seven in each division. This brings in perfect
harmony and order, as He who has given it all is the Spirit of order and
not disorder (1 Cor. 14:33). Seven is a highly symbolical number, peculiar
to Israel. Much of the history of Israel is divided into seven; the seventy
years of Captivity, the seventy prophetic weeks in Daniel, the last week
still future composed of seven years, etc., are well-known facts to every
reader of the Word. Here it is three .times twice seven, which means
fulfillment and completeness. A closer investigation shows at once that a
number of generations have been left out. Attempts have been made to
explain this in different ways. Many poor, shortsighted men have put it
down as an error, and higher critics and unbelievers have pointed it out as
an argument against the inspiration of the Word, and as an example of the
contradictions, which, according to them, exist in the Scriptures. Others
have charged Matthew with ignorance, and that by not knowing any better, he
left these generations out. As a Jew, he was, without question, well
acquainted with the Old Testament writings. He had full access to all the
collections of books which we term Old Testament. Out of the historical
books it would have been a very easy matter to get together a complete
register of names, such as would have been in full accord with the object
in view to satisfy the Jew. Man indeed would have done that if he had to
write the genealogy, but Matthew did not write according to his own taste
or wish; the Holy Spirit wrote every word, and He has found it good to make
a number of omissions. For this reason, that which is so often claimed to
prove that there are contradictions in the Bible, and that the Bible is not
infallible, is really a witness for the divinity of the Scriptures. In all
this arrangement, leaving out and changing, the Holy Spirit has a wise
purpose, and it does not follow, if we in our shortsightedness do not
understand it all, that there must be an error involved somewhere. He has
the right to do it, and it has been His pleasure to leave out generations.
This is also so in the case of another Old Testament genealogy (see Ezra
7).

     The most prominent omission is in verse eight. Three kings are left
out. These are Ahaziah, Joash and Amaziah. Who were they? They are the
descendants of the daughter of wicked Ahab, Athaliah. Athaliah desired to
annihilate the kingly seed of the house of Judah. This was a satanic
attempt to frustrate the purposes of God. It was, like Haman's attempt,
inspired by him who is a murderer from the beginning. It may be called
Anti-Messianity. This is undoubtedly the reason why the Holy Spirit left
out these three kings.

     Another apparent difficulty is the one concerning Jechoniah (verse
11), Zorobabel and Salathiel. The last two are in the genealogy in Luke,
and Zorobabel being called a son of Salathiel when 1 Chr. 3:10. speaks of
him as a son of Pedaiah.

     We give a few hints, which will be helpful in the correct
understanding. Jehoiakim is often called by the name of his son Jechoniah.
Both have the same meaning translated from the Hebrew, Jehovah will
establish. Jehoiakim was carried away into Babylon (2 Kings 24:15). He has
had brethren, which Jechoniah had not (1 Chr. 3:15). Thus it becomes clear
that Jechoniah is Jehoiakim. In the twelfth verse we have Jechoniah, the
son of Jehoiakim, because Salathiel is the son of Jechoniah (1 Chr. 3:17).
Read also Jeremiah 22:30.

     Upon the line of Solomon there was then a curse, and Joseph is in
connection with that line. Upon the line of Nathan there was no curse, and
thus in His birth from Mary He is in truth the Son of David, still in the
eyes of the nation He was it legally in Joseph.

     If Zorobabel and Salathiel appear in Luke we may take them as
different persons. The difficulty of Zorobabel being the son of Salathiel
here and the son of Pedaiah in Chronicles may be solved by the levirate
law.

     Other striking facts come to our knowledge when we go through the list
of the generations, each one is highly significant. We mention a few only.
Judah is mentioned, because the prophecy of Jacob makes it clear that from
him the Shiloh would come (Gen. 49:10). We are reminded of something else
in the phrase, Judah and his brethren, namely, of Judah's sin and his
brethren's in selling their own brother, and all that is connected with it.

     David alone has the title, the king (verse 6). Solomon's name is
there, but there is no kingship attached to it. The unbelieving Jew, as he
tries to reject prophecies concerning the Messiah, has always made a strong
point of this, that the promises given to David concerning a son were all
fulfilled in Solomon. Solomon according to them is the king, and higher
than David in his rule and dominion. How striking then that the Holy Spirit
gives the name simply Solomon without adding, the king, to it. David is the
king and no other can have the title, till his son come: even He who came
and whom David called Lord (Ps. 110:1). Thus the angel announced Him, the
Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and He shall
reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there shall be no
end.

     In the last fourteen generations beginning with Zorobabel, we find no
more prominent names. Only two of them are recorded in the Old Testament.
Zorobabel means, Born in Babel, and his son Abiud, which means, Perishing.
However, the most interesting fact is the four women who are mentioned in
the genealogy. Three of them are found in the first division and the fourth
in the second one. Women in a genealogy is something which is very rarely
the case. There were many noble, devoted and believing women in the Old
Testament. Sarah, Rebekah, Deborah, and women received their dead raised to
life again, and others were tortured not accepting deliverance (Heb.
11:35). One would naturally expect that in the genealogy of Him who is the
seed of the woman to bruise the serpent's head, some of these women who
believed the promise would be mentioned. However, we look in vain for them.
Instead of them we discover four, who are only known, at least three, by
their shame, and the other belonged to a race which was according to the
law cursed. Let us look into the names and history of these four women.

     Tamar is the first. Her shameful history of fornication is recorded in
Genesis 38. What a dark story it is, full of the evil deeds of the flesh.
Sin in its blackness is seen there. But how did she get into the genealogy?
The answer is, by her sin. It was her shameful sin that puts her here in
the genealogy of Him who has come to save that which is lost, the Saviour
of men. The Holy Spirit has put her name in and shows by it that the Lord
Jesus Christ is the Saviour of sinners. He has come to save the vilest and
the lowest. And the second one is Rahab. Who was she? A Canaanitess.
Unclean and outcast, a harlot full of abomination. Yet here is her name too
linked with Salmon (meaning clothed) and Boaz, her son, which means, "In
strength." She had believed the messengers as they had come, and the
scarlet thread, the sign of her deliverance from the doomed city, was in
her window. "By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed
not, when she had received the spies with peace" (Heb. 11:31). It was faith
by which she came into line. Every Jew knew her history and knew too that
she had come in to share Israel's blessings. Still the proud Pharisees
murmured when Jesus sat down and ate and drank with the publicans and the
sinners and the outcasts gathered around Him, murmuring because He sought
the lowest.

     Ruth, the third woman mentioned, is an exception, for there is no
stain upon her character. She was a Moabitess. The law was against her and
cursed her. It is written, "An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the
congregation of the Lord; even to their tenth generation shall they not
enter into the congregation of the Lord forever" (Deut. 23:3). But in faith
too she enters into the congregation with her children, and the third after
her, her grandson, is King David himself. The law which had pronounced the
curse is completely set aside in her case.

     The fourth woman is not mentioned by name -- Her of Uriah, that is all
it says. We know it is Bath-Sheba, the one with whom King David committed
adultery. Here it is sin in connection with a believer. Did that sin
committed by King David then undo him as a believer? No, he had believed
and grace had full sway over him.

     What a wonderful demonstration of the whole and full Gospel of Grace
as it is in Him, the Lord Jesus Christ! We see sin -- Faith as it lays hold
and salvation by faith -- deliverance from the law -- and then the case of
the believer, the assurance of salvation. Grace -- nothing but grace shines
out as nowhere else in the genealogy, in the four women, all four Gentiles.
Hannah broke out in her prophetic song and said, "He lifteth up the needy
from the dunghill, to make them sit with princes and inherit the throne of
glory" (1 Sam. 2:8). How truly this is seen with Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and
Bath-Sheba. What comfort in this fact for us all!

     He is Son of Abraham. Through Him the blessing is to go out to the
greatest sinner, to the deepest in misery and in want, blessing to the
Gentiles in the new dispensation of grace.

     We come now to the account of His birth. Here He is presented as human
and divine, born of a virgin and at the same time Jehovah-Saviour,
Emmanuel, God with us. If Matthew 1:1-17 were all that could be said of His
birth, He might then have had a legal right to the throne, but He could
never have been He who was to redeem and save from sin. But the second half
before us shows Him to be truly the long promised One, the One of whom
Moses and the prophets spake, to whom all the past manifestations of God in
the earth and the types, pointed. To accomplish the work of salvation, to
suffer the penalty of sin and to put away sin He had to be divine and
human.

     "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was thus: His mother, Mary, that is
having been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found
to be with child of the Holy Ghost. But Joseph, her husband, being
righteous, and unwilling to expose her publicly, purposed to have her put
away secretly; but while he pondered on these things, behold, an angel of
the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, son of David, fear not
to take to thee thy wife, for that which is begotten in her is of the Holy
Ghost. And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus,
for He shall save His people from their sins.

     "Now all this came to pass that that might be fulfilled which was
spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, Behold the virgin shall be
with child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call His name
Emmanuel, which is, being interpreted, God with us. But Joseph having awoke
from his sleep did as the angel of the Lord enjoined him, and took to him
his wife, and knew her not until she had brought forth her firstborn Son;
and he called His name Jesus." (verses 18-25)

     How simple all this sounds; yet here are depths which no human mind
can or ever will fathom. All attempts to explain will utterly fail. Faith
worships here and looks with profound adoration upon the mystery made
known, God manifested in the flesh. The Lord stood before Abraham, clothed
in the form of a human being, eating and drinking (Genesis 18). What
humiliation that was for Him even then, but how much deeper and
far-reaching it is here? It is now His mother, Mary, which is prominent in
the record. Born of a woman Paul says in Galatians 4. This directs our
attention to the very first promise made in Genesis 3: "I will put enmity
between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: He shall
bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise His heel." This is the first promise
of a Deliverer.

     We often read in the prophetic Word, I am He. The Hebrews have the
word "Hu" (He) as a divine name. In the ancient book of Zohar the word "He"
is applied to the eternal God bruising the serpent's head. He is to be the
seed of the woman, not of Adam, the man. Interesting is the following
quotation from an ancient exposition of the Jews. "The voice which our
first parents heard walking in the garden was the Word of the Lord, or the
Messiah. Before they sinned they saw the glory of the blessed God speaking
with them, but after their sin they heard only the voice walking. The seed
of the woman shall bruise the head of the serpent, and they shall obtain
healing in the days of the Messiah."

     Mary was that elect woman, a virgin, from whom the One seed came. She
was betrothed to Joseph, the Son of David, and so that there should not
even be the shadow of a doubt, it is added, before they came together she
was found to be with child of the Holy Ghost. Righteous Joseph pondering on
these things and as a righteous man undoubtedly praying to God about it, is
visited by an angel of the Lord. Even the little word "an" is here of
importance. We hear much in the Old Testament of the angel of the Lord. He
appears often as the mediator between God and man. He has divine names and
attributes. He appeared in the form of man to Hagar, Abraham, Jacob, the
children of Israel, Joshua, Gideon, Manoah, and to Manoah's wife. Jacob
calls him the angel, the Redeemer. In Isaiah 63:9 he is called the angel of
His face. Indeed all through the Old Testament Jehovah and His glory is in
him revealed, so that in these manifestations we see the incarnation
foretold. The very name of God was in him (Exodus 23:20). The old Jewish
synagogue believed correctly that this angel of the Lord is the word of
God, the Messiah. The One who appeared as the angel, is now to be born of
the virgin. He emptied Himself, taking a servant's form, taking His place
in the likeness of men (Phil. 2:7). If the writing of the Gospel of Matthew
had been the work of an impostor, he would surely have written, that the
angel of the Lord came to Joseph, instead of an angel. So even the little
word, an, brings out the verbal inspiration.

     In the Gospel of Luke we read that the angel Gabriel (the same who
announced to Daniel the coming of the Messiah and the time of the end), was
sent of God to Mary, and came in to her and said, "Hail, favored one! the
Lord is with thee. But she, seeing the angel, was troubled at his word, and
reasoned in her mind what this salutation might be. And the angel said to
her, Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou
shalt conceive in the womb to bear a Son, and thou shalt call His name
Jesus. He shall be great and shall be called Son of the Highest; and the
Lord God shall give Him the throne of His father David; and He shall reign
over the house of Jacob for the ages, and of His kingdom there shall not be
an end. But Mary said to the angel, How shall this be, since I know not a
man? And the angel answering said to her, The Holy Spirit shall come upon
thee, and power of the Highest overshadow thee, wherefore the holy thing
also which shall be born shall be called Son of God" (Luke 1:28-35). In
reading this one almost hears the voice which spoke to Moses, Take off thy
shoes from thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.
Both Gospels bring it out clearly that it is the Son of God, the eternal
Word, who becomes a man, truly the child of His virgin mother, flesh and
blood, a real human body like ours, but a holy thing, that is absolutely
without sin. His human nature proceeded directly from the Spirit of God. No
other being could have saved us.

     The Old Testament speaks often of this great event, the birth of the
Saviour, and that He is to be divine and human in His person. He is called
the Branch (Zemach). In Isaiah He is called, The branch of Jehovah, and in
other prophets, The branch of David. "For unto us a child is born, unto us
a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name
shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:7). There is a very important and remarkable
passage in Jeremiah, "The Lord hath created a new thing in the earth, A
woman shall encompass a man" (Jer. 31:22). This belongs to a Messianic
prophecy as shown by the context. It is a new thing which is to take place,
and a creation. This could never be said of the birth of a child in the
natural way. Even one of the ancient rabbis acknowledges that Jer. 31:22
speaks of Messiah, and that by the woman a virgin is meant. In the Jewish
writings, some of them of great antiquity, much is said on the origin and
birth of the Christ. We quote but a few of the most important words of the
rabbis. "Several state that Messiah is to have no earthly father." "The
birth of the Messiah alone shall be without any defects." "His birth shall
not be like that of other men." "The birth of the Messiah shall be like the
dew of the Lord, as drops upon the grass without the action of man."

     That this exposition of the Scriptures concerning the miraculous birth
of the Messiah was generally believed at the time of our Lord is seen from
the Gospel of John. "Is not this He whom they seek to kill? and behold He
speaks openly and they say nothing to Him. Have the rulers then indeed
recognized that this is the Christ? But as to this man we know whence He
is. Now, as to the Christ, when He comes no one knows whence He is (John
7:27). With this they acknowledged that they believed that with the birth
of the Christ a mystery is connected. They thought then they knew who Jesus
of Nazareth is; "And they said, is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose
father and mother we have known? How then does he say I am come down from
heaven?" (John 6:24). Many centuries later wicked Jews wrote a vulgar and
blasphemous account of the birth of our Lord, but the early Jews, it seems
never attempted to contradict the first chapter in Matthew.

     The angel bade Joseph not to fear, and make known to him not only that
that which is begotten in Mary is of the Holy Ghost, but he said also, "She
shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall
save His people from their sins."

     The word Jesus is taken from the Hebrew Jehoshua, which means, Jehovah
is the Saviour. It is the precious name in which the whole story of
salvation is contained. The people of Jehovah are His people, because He is
Jehovah, and left His eternal glory, His riches, and became poor, to save
them from their sins. When Moses stood in the presence of this descended
Lord, who proclaimed before him the name of the Lord, Moses said, "If now I
have found grace in Thy sight, O Lord," saying this looking to heaven, "let
my Lord," the One who had come down and stood before him, "I pray thee go
among us; for it is a stiff-necked people, and pardon our iniquities and
our sin, and take us for Thine inheritance." (Exodus 34:9.). And He has
come, Jesus, who is able to save His people from their sins, because He is
God, and gracious, as revealed to Moses in the mountain. They rejected Him
and His salvation. They are scattered among the nations, blinded and
hardened, but He is nevertheless Jesus who shall save His people. He has
bought the field and the treasure in it. He will come again and turn away
ungodliness from Jacob and remember their sins no more. Yes, He will come
again and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He
shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever. Saul of Tarsus heard the
voice from heaven, which said, "I am Jesus!" It is very significant that He
spoke thus to the one who became the apostle to the Gentiles, and who in
many respects is a type of the whole nation in unbelief and in their coming
conversion. He saved Saul of Tarsus. He will save all Israel yet. For
believers, His name is not simply Jesus, but for us, the church, He is both
Saviour and Lord, and the right way to address Him is by His full name, as
it is by the resurrection from among the dead, our Lord Jesus Christ.

     With the declaration that He shall save His people from their sins the
message of the angel was completed. It is now Matthew, and through Matthew
of course the Holy Spirit, who continues. The most vital passage of the Old
Testament is brought to the front. This is the familiar prophecy in Isaiah
7:14, which reads, "Behold a virgin shall be with child and shall bring
forth a son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel." Like most all the
other Messianic prophecies, this one has also been the target of "Higher
Criticism." These learned (?) critics have made some very ridiculous
utterances on this sublime prophecy, and said that it is anything but
Messianic. They stand not alone, but are in company with rationalistic Jews
and other infidels, who serve the power of darkness -- the one who is the
falsifier of God's Word from the beginning. Some of this infidel trash of
Wellshausen, etc., is continually being rehashed by some of the so-called
professors in theological "evangelical" seminaries in this country. Alas!
how true still, professing themselves wise, they became fools. Higher
criticism is nothing else but infidelity and foolishness.

     It is with these critics, who are the educators of the coming
preachers in the different denominations, a question what Isaiah wrote and
what he did not write, what is genuine and what is added to by another
hand. So it is being taught that Isaiah spoke of his own wife when he
uttered the words which are before us. Now beware how you treat this
prophecy! Matthew 1:22 says that not the prophet said these words, "Behold,
a virgin shall be with child," but the Lord Himself spoke these words
through the prophet. A denial of Isaiah 7:14 that it is not a Messianic
prophecy is a denial of the integrity of the New Testament, a denial of the
Lord. How does any one dare to say the prophet did not utter a prophecy at
all, that it is not to be understood as meaning the Lord Jesus Christ, when
the Holy Spirit in the very first chapter in the New Testament declares
that it is a Messianic prophecy, and that it has found its fulfillment in
the person of our Lord? If there were no other evidence whatever in the Old
Testament, nay, if there were many difficulties connected with it Matthew
1:22 would settle it all and would be sufficient proof in itself for what
the Lord meant when He spoke these words through Isaiah the prophet.

     But there is nothing whatever in Isaiah 7 which would in any way show
that the prophecy is not Messianic. The Lord spoke the promise at a time
when the house of David was discouraged and disheartened, and King Ahaz,
instead of trusting the Lord, continued in unbelief. The prophet asks him
to demand a sign from the Lord, but he rejects the offer under the plea
that he would not tempt God. Upon this the prophet said that the Lord
Himself shall give you a sign, and the prophecy then spoken is the sign for
the discouraged king and the house of David. In other words, Messiah is to
be born, He is to come from Judah, and from the house of David. How could
he, the king, fear destruction and extermination? This was the comfort of
the sign. The birth of Him is a sign -- something extraordinary, a miracle,
and therefore the promise of comfort begins with the prophetic word,
"Behold." We will not enter into fuller discussion of the seventh chapter
of Isaiah, nor answer the arguments which are brought against the Hebrew
word used here for virgin; all this would be of little value and profit to
most of our readers.*

     * "That the word _almoh, in Isaiah denotes an untouched virgin,
sufficiently appears from the sense of the passage Is. 7:14. King Ahaz was
afraid lest the enemies that were now upon him might destroy Jerusalem and
utterly consume the house of David. The Lord meets this fear by a sign and
most remarkable promise, namely, 'that sooner should a pure virgin bring
forth a child than the family of David perish.' And the promise yields a
double comfort: namely, of Christ hereafter to be born of a virgin; and of
their security from the imminent danger of the city and house of David. So
that, although that prophecy, of a virgin's bringing forth a son, should
not be fulfilled till many hundreds of years after, yet, at that present
time, when the prophecy was made, Ahaz had a certain and notable sign, that
the house of David should be safe and secure from the danger that hung over
it. As much as if the prophet had said: 'Be not so troubled O Ahaz, does it
not seem an impossible thing to thee, that never will happen, that a pure
virgin become a mother? But I tell thee such a virgin shall bring forth a
son, before the house of David perish.'" -- Horae Hebraicae et Talmudicae
by Lightfoot.

     Some have seen a difficulty that the child was to be named Emmanuel,
and instead of this name, He is named Jesus. The Jew often comes with this
question. We point out to him that this apparent contradiction is really a
proof of the inspiration. How easy it would have been for Matthew to have
all fit in so that every word would be in harmony with the Old Testament.
The Holy Spirit guided his hand in writing. The prophecy in the Old
Testament says, "And call His name Immanuel." Here it says, "They shall
call his name." In the first chapter of Matthew we read that Joseph called
the child's name Jesus, but in Luke we read that Mary calls His name Jesus.
The name Emmanuel, God with us, is only given in Matthew. He is Emmanuel,
and as such Jehovah the Saviour, so that in reality both names have the
same meaning. "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (and we have
contemplated His glory, a glory as of an only begotten with his Father)
full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). He is the exalted One over all.

     Joseph was obedient to the word of the Lord as it had come to him
through the angel. That Mary had other children is clearly seen from the
sixty-ninth Psalm, verses 7 and 8, where it speaks of His suffering:
"Because for thy sake I have borne reproach; shame has covered my face. I
am become a stranger to my brethren, even an alien to the children of my
mother."

                                    _38

                                CHAPTER II

     The second chapter in Matthew relates events which are nowhere else
recorded in the Gospels. For this reason, and this is the only reason, the
authenticity of the chapter has been doubted more than once. All that which
the second chapter contains belongs properly into the Jewish,
dispensational Gospel, and would indeed be entirely out of place in the
other three Gospels, therefore the Holy Spirit has seen fit to put it only
in the first Gospel. The chapter contains the story of the coming of the
Magi or wise men to Jerusalem in search of the King of the Jews, to worship
Him, and to bring Him the gifts they had brought from afar; the wrath of
Herod the king, and the flight of the child into Egypt, the slaughter of
the children in Bethlehem, the return from Egypt, and the dwelling of the
Lord in Nazareth as the rejected One. All these events are foretold in the
Old Testament, to which we are referred and where we learn the meaning of
them. The chapter is an intensely interesting one, full of important
teachings. It gives us in a nutshell the story of the entire Gospel. The
true King is not known in Jerusalem, the City of a great King; in His own
royal residence, His people do not know He has come. Strangers from distant
lands seek Him and are desirous to know and to worship Him. Still worse,
the ecclesiastical authorities, the chief priests and the scribes, are
indifferent, and the civil ruler is filled with hatred against Him and
seeks His life, and later both combined to kill Him. Thus in one of the
shortest chapters and narratives the trend of the whole Gospel is given.
But it is reaching still farther. The whole history of the kingdom of the
heavens in its hidden form is here outlined, and the character of the
entire new dispensation is manifested.

     "Now Jesus having been born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod
the king, behold Magi from the East arrived in Jerusalem, saying, Where is
He that hath been born, King of the Jews, for we have seen His star in the
East and have come to worship Him?" (verses 1, 2.)

     The first question would be to ascertain the time when these wise men
came to Jerusalem. It is generally believed that it was immediately after
the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. The old masters have taken most of the
subjects for their paintings from biblical history, but many of these
productions, if not all, are unscriptural and misleading. Thus the birth of
the Saviour has been put on canvas, so familiar to our readers, a stable, a
manger, Mary and Joseph, domestic animals, a star shining over the
building, shepherds with their staffs on the one hand and on the other
three gaudily attired persons on their knees, glittering crowns on their
heads, and in the extended hands the gift upon which the eyes of the babe
rest. Such a picture of course is incorrect. The authorized version, too,
has helped such a wrong conception along by having it translated, "But when
Jesus was born." The correct reading is, But Jesus having been born, that
is some time after and not immediately after. Other evidences in the
chapter show that the child must have been about a year old when the visit
of the wise men occurred. They had seen His star, announcing to them in
their far away homes that the expected king had been born. They had to
travel over a large territory, and the journey must have taken many months,
and then there is nothing to show that they started at once. In the
eleventh verse we read, "And when they had come into the house, they saw
the young child with Mary His mother, and they fell down and worshipped
Him." In Luke it says, "And she brought forth her first born Son, and
wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger, because there
was no room for them in the inn." In Matthew it is a house where the child
is found, in Luke there was no room in the inn. Perhaps the most important
evidence is in the sixteenth verse. Herod had privately called the wise men
and inquired of them exactly the time that the star appeared. Their answer
is not given, but from the sixteenth verse we may conclude that Herod had
received a very definite answer by which he knew that the child could not
be over two years old.

     The second question would be about these strange visitors, who came to
do homage before the King. Who were they? How many of them came? They are
called in the Greek, Magi from the East. Magi is the name by which in olden
times a large class of people, who were occupied with occult things, were
known. These were the astrologers, interpreters of dreams and omens,
medical men, necromancers, etc. Among the Persians and Medes they formed a
special class of priests, and were chiefly occupied with foretelling events
from the stars, and preparations of medicines for bodily ills. From Magi
has come the more modern word magic; in an evil sense, sorcerer. Daniel was
chief over such a class of wise men. "And the king made Daniel to be chief
governor over all the wise men of Babylon" (Daniel 2:48). These wise men of
the East were not all impostors. Many of them were earnest seekers after
the truth, and students of natural forces. They did not have the true
light. What a significant fact it is that now in the beginning of the
twentieth century, in the midst of so-called Christian nations,
soothsayers, readers of "human destiny" through the stars, those who claim
to ask the dead, others having familiar spirits, are practicing their
deceptions, wickedness and abominations, and are advertising their evil
things openly, and find among these so-called "Christians" thousands and
thousands to consult them. It cannot be otherwise. The true Light rejected,
the truth not believed, strong delusions and utter darkness follow (2
Thess. 2). The Magi here were unquestionably earnest seekers after truth.
There is nothing to show how many came thus to Jerusalem. That three came
and that these three were kings is incorrect. We would rather think that a
larger number made their appearance in the city, followed perhaps by a
large train of attendants. Their appearance in number was striking enough
to startle Jerusalem, and to bring trouble into the heart of its wicked
king.

     They had seen "His star," the star of the born King of the Jews. There
has been much speculating about the star, likewise. Many think that the
star was a constellation of Jupiter and Saturn. The great astronomer,
Kepler, issued in 1606 a book in which he attempted to show the year of the
birth of our Lord by such a constellation. In 1463 the great Jewish
teacher, Abarbanel, concluded from a similar constellation which happened
then that the coming of the Messiah must be near. But it does not say
stars, but it is star, and that His star. It is also incorrect to think
that the star guided the Magi from the East across an immense stretch of
country and brought them at last to Jerusalem. The star they had seen in
the East went before them only after they had departed from Jerusalem. It
says then, "When they saw the star they rejoiced with exceeding great joy."
This shows that for a time they did not see the star. Perhaps in their
ancient traditions there was something left of Balaam's prophecy (Numbers
23 and 24). Might they not have had fragments of Daniel's prophecies? It is
a well known fact that throughout the East there was at that time a
universal expectancy of the coming of a King, and Jerusalem was connected
with this King. A similar expectancy is even now noticeable among Oriental
nations. A marvelous light was seen by these men. It burst forth in a
brilliant brightness, as once more in the near future the heavens will be
lit up by the sign of the Son of man, returning in power and glory. With
that strange light in the heavens, a brilliant star, the intelligence was
conveyed to them that the King, the One who is the desire of all nations
(Hag. 2:3) was born. And that light was sufficient for these seekers to
make them set out with their gifts, to undertake the long and dangerous
journey to find the King and bow before His royal person.

     What a day it was when they arrived at last in Jerusalem, not guided
there by the star, but by the knowledge that in Jerusalem the King was to
reign, and where they expected to find Him! But what did they find?
Jerusalem under the regime of an Edomite. Herod upon the throne and his
heart filled with Edomite hatred. No question that these evil rulers,
including this one, are types of the final usurper, the Antichrist, whom
the Lord will find in possession of the city when He comes the second time,
and whom He will destroy with the breath of His mouth and the brightness of
His coming. "Where is He that hath been born King of the Jews?" Where is
He? In vain they go after their long journey through the streets of
Jerusalem asking the question; there is no answer. The great city with its
magnificent religious institutions, its wonderful Herodian temple, then
still in process of erection, its aristocratic priesthood and benevolent
institutions, had no knowledge of that King; nay, they did not desire that
King to come, they were self-satisfied. This foreshadows the whole story of
the rejection of the King, the Lord from heaven, that there was not alone
no room for Him in the inn, but there was likewise no room for Him among
His own; they received Him not. Herod, the king, was troubled and all
Jerusalem with him. He feared for his throne, which was not his. Jerusalem
knew what Herod's fear meant -- rebellion, bloodshed, and suffering.

     How true this is still, and how truly it describes the entire
dispensation in which we live! Jerusalem knows not the King, has rejected
Him who is their Messiah, and ever since, Jerusalem and Israel's sad
history of blood and tears has begun and will surely not end till the false
king is dethroned and Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews, is crowned
as Lord of all.

     And these men from the East were not Jews, they were not Israelites,
but Gentiles. For months, while Jerusalem is not acquainted with the fact
of the birth of the long promised One, they had knowledge that He had come.
Gentiles were first to acknowledge and to worship Him. The first became
last and the last became first. By their fall salvation has come to the
Gentiles to provoke them to jealousy. He, the Saviour, is first, a light
for the "unveiling of the Gentiles, but in the end, too, the glory of Thy
people Israel" (Luke 2:32). Still it is to be seen here likewise that not
all the Gentiles came to worship Him, only a small number, and so
throughout this dispensation the promise is not that the nations will walk
in His light and worship Him, but only a people is called out from the
nations for His name. We will see later in the exposition of this chapter
that these Gentiles who came to Jerusalem are typical of all the nations
going up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts.

     But in Jerusalem there was not only a king who was the enemy of the
right heir to David's throne, but there were the religious leaders of the
people, the Pharisees, the scribes, the priests and the chief priests. The
learned doctors of the law, the students of prophecy, the orthodox; had
they no knowledge of Him of whom Moses and the Prophets spoke? Surely if
they hear He has come they will run to meet Him and welcome Him! Far from
it; they were ignorant, likewise, and all indifferent to the startling news
which had come to Jerusalem from such an extraordinary source.

     "And when Herod the king heard it he was troubled, and all Jerusalem
with him; and having gathered together all the chief priests and scribes of
the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. And they
said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judea; for it is written through the
prophet, And thou Bethlehem in the land of Juda, art in no wise least among
the governors of Juda; for out of thee shall come forth a leader who shall
be a shepherd to my people Israel."

     By order of the king they were called together, not in a special
session of the Sanhedrin, but in a larger gathering, all the chief priests
and scribes are commanded to show themselves and to produce the scrolls of
the law, the prophets and the writings. And now Herod puts his question,
Where is Messiah to be born? The answer comes at once from the prophecies
of Micah in the beginning of the fifth chapter, "Bethlehem in Juda." There
was no dissenting voice. They were all orthodox and had a perfect knowledge
of the scriptures, but it was head knowledge, and their consciences were
not touched by it. The quotation itself differs from the original Hebrew
and from the Septuagint. They used undoubtedly the text from a Chaldee
paraphrase. The meeting is dismissed and all goes on in its usual way.
Nothing is said that these priests and scribes were awakened and joined the
seeking strangers to find Him, who is their Messiah. Sad was their state.
Knowledge sufficient, but no interest in Him, no love for Him, the living
Word. Their hearts were not filled with joy, and perhaps in their
indifference the incident was soon forgotten, till one day the slaughter of
the children in Bethlehem reminded them once more of what had happened. It
is the first time we meet these chief priests and scribes in the Gospel;
they will soon stand before us in all their religiousness in another
character. Indifferent they were once, and soon we shall see them in their
hatred, wickedness, and at last, with a perfect knowledge of the person who
is in their midst, they deliver Him into the hands of the Gentiles.

     And is this not true in Christendom at this present time? How much
there is of religiousness, rituals, ceremonies and creeds of men, but with
all this it is nothing but profession outwardly, the heart cares not for
Him and has no interest in Him. The indifference of our times in the midst
of Christendom is appalling. There is no interest in the coming again of
our Lord as there was no interest in the religious leaders of the people at
His first coming. Indifference ends with this age also in opposition and
apostasy, followed by judgment. Perhaps for the first time had these wise
men from the East heard the Word of God. The flash of light, the brilliant
star, that supernatural sign, was sufficient to start them on their way.
The light they had they followed, and soon there is added to it. The Word
of God they heard perhaps not at all from any of the scribes and chief
priests. These strangers were despised by them and considered as dogs, in
spite of the prophetic scriptures which speak of the salvation of the
Gentiles. The presence of them in Jerusalem should have taught them the
fulfillment of prophecy. No, not the scribes and chief priests acquaint the
wise men with the Word, but wicked King Herod, with his wicked thoughts and
intentions, transmits it to them. "Then Herod, having privately called the
Magi, inquired of them exactly the time that the star appeared; and sending
them to Bethlehem he said, Go and search out exactly about the child and
when ye have found Him bring me back word, that I may come and worship Him
also." They are obedient to the word spoken; though it came from Herod's
lips, it was nevertheless the truth. Jerusalem is left behind, and their
faces are set towards Bethlehem. "When they had heard the king they
departed; and lo, the star they had seen in the East went before them until
it came and stood over where the young child was. And when they saw the
star they rejoiced with exceeding great joy."

     The question has been raised, Where did they find the child? In Luke
we read, "And when they had performed all these things according to the law
of the Lord, they returned unto Galilee, their own city Nazareth" (Luke
2:39). Now if the wise men came about a year later, did they find the child
in Bethlehem or were they guided all the way up to Nazareth? We think they
were guided by the star to Bethlehem in fulfillment of the word they had
heard. Bethlehem is in a southern direction from Jerusalem and Nazareth
directly north. They were put without question on the right road by Herod,
when the star appeared again. But if the parents were in Bethlehem a year
later with the child, why did they go there? The Gospel of Luke gives the
answer. "Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the
Passover. And when He was twelve years old they went up to Jerusalem after
the custom of the feast" (Luke 2:41, 42). This brings out that they were a
year after again in Jerusalem for the feast, and were therefore not in
Nazareth. Bethlehem was truly their city, and the very short journey was
made there from Jerusalem, where the wise men now found the young child
with Mary His mother.

     "And having come into the house they saw the little child with Mary,
his mother, and falling down did Him homage. And having opened their
treasures, they offered him gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh." With
exceeding great joy they had welcomed the reappearing of the star; it came
and stood over the place where the child was. They enter into the house and
find the little child and Mary, his mother. Even the order of words teaches
us something. It is not Mary, his mother, and the little child, but the one
who is God manifested in the flesh stands first, and Joseph is not at all
mentioned. What a rebuke to the corrupt systems in Christendom where Mary
and Joseph occupy a prominent place and are worshipped. The wise men
worshipped Him, there was no adoration for Mary, while Joseph was
completely ignored. All the worship and bowing of knee is for Him of whom
it is written that at His name every knee should bow, of heavenly and
earthly and infernal beings, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is
Lord, to God the Father's glory (Phil. 2:10). The outcome of their long and
tedious journey, of their searching and seeking Him who is the King, was
worship. A little light was followed, and soon the increase came. The Word
of God showed them the way, and there was a second outburst of light from
the star which brought them to the right place. What else could they do
then but do homage to Him and to adore Him? Their first business was
worship. It should be so with every true believer. We often hear it said,
"saved to serve." This is not strictly true. We are saved by grace to
worship and adore our God and Father and His Son, our Saviour and Lord.
Service comes in, too, but only after worship. Where grace is rightly
understood there will be a great deal of worship and praise, followed by
true service, but where there is a dim conception of what God has done for
us, what He has made us in His Son, and where that blessed and comforting
doctrine, the assurance of salvation, is not known, there will be much
service or attempted service, with much unrest, but little worship, or none
at all. May our readers understand that worship stands first and is the
first thing. The Father seeks worshippers (John 4:23). We are saved by
grace to be worshippers of Him. All our joy and peace as believers, as well
as fruitbearing, comes from being at His feet and doing homage to Him.

     How long the worship of the wise men lasted we do not know, nor how
long they tarried. After their worship they opened their treasures and
offered to Him gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh. This was their service,
the offering of gifts.

     Prophetically, this homage of the wise men, and the gifts they
brought, is of much importance. It was, of course, and still is a custom of
the Orient to appear before a person of royal descent with many presents,
but here we have more than a simple custom. Without knowing it, nor knowing
the significance of what they did, their hands, in selecting the gifts,
were divinely guided. As King they had sought Him, as such they worshipped
Him, and now the presents are in full harmony with the character of the
King. The gold speaks of His divine and kingly glory, the frankincense of
the fragrance of His life, as Son of God in power, according to the spirit
of holiness, and myrrh, the balsamic juice of Arabian myrtle, which is used
for burial, speaks of His death, that this King is to lay down His life.
What lessons there come even from the gifts the wise men spread before our
Lord.

     Quite often we are told that this is in fulfillment of Isaiah 60:6.
However, in looking at this passage, we discover that the wise men could
not be spoken of there, nor that they fulfilled that prophecy. We read in
Isaiah: "They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the
praises of the Lord." We notice at once that Isaiah does not say anything
at all about myrrh. Why, then, is there no myrrh in Isaiah, and why is
there a mention made of myrrh by Matthew? The passage in Isaiah refers to
the coming of the Gentiles at the time when the rejected King has come
again in power and in glory, and is King of kings; hence there is no need
of myrrh. The whole scope of Isaiah 60 brings this out. "For behold,
darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the nations (yet to come
during the tribulation), but the Lord shall arise upon thee (Israel) and
His glory shall be seen upon thee. And nations shall come to thy light, and
kings to the brightness of thy rising." If we read through this chapter we
find multitudes coming, and they seek not a small humble house like the
wise men did, but they seek the house of glory, and there they meet the
King of Glory in His beauty, and spread before Him gold and frankincense,
shouting aloud His praises and the glory of His name. What a glorious
chapter this is, and, oh, the joy which fills us as believers in the
anticipation when all this shall be so. May it soon be when violence shall
no more be heard in the land, desolation nor destruction within thy
borders; but thy walls shall be called salvation and thy gates praise. We
would say, then, that it is incorrect to state that the wise men came in
fulfillment of Isaiah 60:6; they were but faint types of what shall take
place after the Glory, when no more bloodthirsty Herod will be upon the
throne, and Jerusalem and not Bethlehem will be the city to which the
Gentiles journey, the city of a great King.

     "And being divinely instructed in a dream not to return to Herod, they
departed into their own country another way." This is all the Word has to
say about the departure of these strangers. After their worship and
offering of gifts, divine guidance instructs them. It is guidance,
likewise, we have as believers, but it is a guidance through the Spirit in
the Word.

     "Now they having departed, behold an angel of the Lord appeared in a
dream to Joseph, saying, Arise, take to thee the little child and His
mother, and flee into Egypt, and be there until I shall tell thee; for
Herod will seek the little child to destroy it. And having arisen, he took
to him the little child and His mother by night, and departed into Egypt,
and he was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which
was spoken by the Lord, through the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I
called my Son" (verses 13-15). Thus the narrative continues. The child is
the only prominent figure in it. There is a spurious gospel, called the
Gospel of the Infancy of our Lord, (Evangelium Infantiae), in which the
flight to Egypt is adorned with many miracles. We mention some of them.
Idols broke to pieces wherever the child came; the three-year-old child of
an Egyptian priest who was possessed by demons put a swaddling cloth of the
child upon his head, and the demon fled; a woman possessed by a demon was
healed by looking upon Mary; robbers fled in terror before the child; all
manner of diseases were healed, including leprosy, etc. The whole book
shows that it is a counterfeit, gotten up by some one who favored the
worship of Mary and the child. How simple the story is here in Matthew. The
child is dependent upon Joseph, who is now mentioned, and in poverty, under
great danger, at night, they had to flee. God could have transported His
Son by a miracle, but the Son of God had become man, and now it was for Him
to enter into all. He has to go the long and weary road. The cause of the
flight was Herod, who under the power of Satan sought the life of the
child. He shows himself here as the murderer from the beginning. Satan is
that still, the great red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, ready to
devour the man-child (Rev. 12). The place of refuge is Egypt. There He is
to go, to be called back after a while in fulfillment of the prophetic
Word, "Out of Egypt have I called my Son."

     This prophecy is found in Hosea 11:1. "When Israel was a child then I
loved Him, and called My Son out of Egypt." This was spoken about 700 years
before and is about Israel, but here we learn through the Holy Spirit its
true and full meaning. Jews, infidels and higher critics have stumbled at
this, but how simple even this is, no difficulty, as commentaries sometimes
say. Israel is, according to Exodus 4:22, God's first born Son, and in
Jeremiah 31:9, we read, "I am a father to Israel and Ephraim is my first
born." Christ and Israel are closely identified in the prophetic Word. Thus
the Messiah, our Lord, is called in Isaiah the servant of the Lord, and
Israel is spoken of there, too, as the servant of the Lord, that is
Israel's Messiah is the servant of the Lord through whose obedient
suffering and death Israel becomes at last in the earth the righteous
servant of Jehovah. Israel is God's first born, but the Lord Jesus Christ
is not alone the only begotten of the Father, but also the first born from
the dead. In resurrection He will be the first born among many brethren,
which is the Church, His body. But through Him and in Him alone, Israel,
God's earthly people, His first born will become that for which God has
called them according to His merciful purposes. Israel's history beginning
with Egypt, has been a history of sin, disobedience, apostasy and shame.
Therefore the true One had to come, the true servant of the Lord in
obedience -- obedience unto death. He had to go through the history of His
people. This is the reason why He had to go down to Egypt, the house of
bondage. Of course, there was no bondage for Him. And when He is called out
of Egypt, He comes to pass through the wilderness to be tested and tried,
going the long journey through all in the spirit of holiness without sin,
far different from that which Israel was. How blessedly He became
identified with all.

     In the following three verses we read of the satanic rage of Herod
when he finds that the wise men did not return and all the boys in
Bethlehem and in all its borders from two years and under were slain. "Then
it was fulfilled that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet,
saying: A voice has been heard in Rama, weeping and great lamentation;
Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they
are not." The wicked deed is but a beginning of the sorrows of Israel on
account of the rejection of the King. His blood indeed has been upon them
and their children, the worst is still to come in the time of Jacob's
trouble when the false Messiah will be like Herod, shedding their blood.
The quotation is from Jeremiah 31:15. It is an application here of that
prophecy. Rachel was buried near Bethlehem. Dying there she called the son
who was born to her Ben-oni, which means the son of my sorrow, but his
father Jacob soon changed his name, and the son of sorrow becomes Benjamin,
which means, the son of the right hand. Rachel is seen here as weeping and
lamenting over the slaughtered children, the children of Bethlehem. They
were no more, and would not be comforted. What greater crying and
lamentation there shall be in the future in the land! In Jeremiah, in the
context, we read: "Thus saith the Lord, refrain thy voice from weeping and
thine eyes from tears -- they shall come again from the land of the enemy."
The child had escaped the murderous onslaught of Satan through Herod, but
He comes back to lay down His life, that through death He might annul him
who has the might of death, that is, the devil; and might set free all
those who through fear of death through the whole of their life were
subject to bondage (Hebrews 2). The return of the child, how long they
stayed in Egypt is not said, is next described in our chapter and needs no
further comment. The child is kept as He now keeps the feet of His saints,
His church, and hades' gates shall not prevail against it.

     There is one more prophecy which is to be mentioned. "And having been
divinely instructed in a dream, he went away in the parts of Galilee, and
came and dwelt in a town called Nazareth; so that it should be fulfilled
which was spoken through the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene"
(verses 22, 23). It is next to the questions from the first chapter in
Matthew, the most important the inquiring Jew brings in reading the New
Testament: "Where is it written, or in what prophet is it written, that
Messiah should be called a Nazarene?" It does not say here that it is
written by one prophet, but by the prophets. Therefore all the prophets
have spoken of Him as being a Nazarene. A Nazarene is an inhabitant of
Nazareth. That city is in Galilee, which is called the Galilee of the
Gentiles, because so many Gentiles lived there. The Pharisees and scribes
in Jerusalem hated and despised Galilee, and especially was Nazareth
despised. The inhabitants were called Am-horatzim, that is ignorant men.
Even the Galileans looked down upon the town and despised everybody who
lived there. The ruin and corruption was there the greatest. Therefore we
read in another Gospel: "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" To that
mean, despised place the Son of God is to go, there He, who was rich in all
eternity, found His abode. Now, this is spoken by all the prophets, that
the Messiah, the Saviour, was to be rejected by men. The rejection began
with the very start, and there in the little town He is to spend thirty
years of His life, and when He comes forth and begins His ministry in
Galilee, it is only to be rejected again, ending at last in Jerusalem
outside of the camp. How true, He was despised and rejected of men. And our
place is with Him now in rejection, outside of the camp, to bear His
reproach. May this be our place, and like Him, the leader and completer of
the faith, may we, for the joy set before us, endure the cross and despise
the shame.

                                    _57

                                CHAPTER III

     The third chapter relates the ministry of the herald of the King, who
announces that the kingdom of the heavens has drawn nigh, and the presence
of the King Himself, who is to come after him; the baptism of the King, who
comes from Galilee to the Jordan to John, and the events connected with it,
are given in the second half of the chapter.

     "Now in those days comes John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness
of Judea, and saying, Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn
nigh. For this is He, who has been spoken of through Esaias the prophet
saying, A voice of Him that crieth in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of
the Lord, make straight His paths. And John himself had his garments of
camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins, and his nourishment
was locusts and wild honey" (verses 1-4).

     The forerunner is John the Baptist, a typical Old Testament person, of
whom the Lord says later in the Gospel, "Yea, I say to you, and more than a
prophet, this is he of whom it is written, Behold I send My messenger
before Thy face, who shall prepare Thy way before Thee. Verily I say to
you, that there is not arisen among the born of women a greater than John
the Baptist, but he who is a little one in the kingdom of the heavens is
greater than he" (chapter 11:9-11). In the same discourse the Lord' says,
in vindication of John, who was then in prison: "And if ye will receive it,
this is Elias who is to come." In the first chapter of Luke the angel
announces his birth and says: "For he shall be great before the Lord, and
he shall drink no wine or strong drink; and he shall be filled with the
Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. And many of the sons of Israel
shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before Him in the
spirit and power of Elias, to turn hearts of fathers to children, and
disobedient ones to the thoughts of just men, to make ready for the Lord a
prepared people" (Luke 1:15-17). In these words, given through the Holy
Spirit, the Lord Himself and an angel of the Lord, we have the three
prophecies of the Old Testament concerning the forerunner quoted. These
are: Isaiah 40:3-5; Malachi 3:1; 4:5, 6. That he was sent in fulfillment of
these prophecies is therefore unquestionable. To this comes the manner of
his dress and the nourishment. It reminds us of the great prophet Elias,
the Tishbite. "He was an hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about
his loins" (2 Kings 1:8).

     John knew His personality and His mission, for he said: "I am the
voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord,
as said the prophet Esaias" (John 1:23). But when asked, Art thou Elias? he
answered, I am not. The Jews expected Elijah, as the orthodox Jews expect
him still, as the forerunner of King Messiah. At every passover ceremony a
cup is reserved for the prophet Elijah, and at the circumcision of the
child a chair is placed for that person, and many are the prayers which are
said, that God may send soon the prophet Elijah, for his presence would
indicate to them the nearness of the King. The character and preaching of
Elijah were clearly reproduced in John. He was the Elias for his day. If
they had received it, he would have been Elias. In this sense, Matthew
17:12, is to be understood: "Elias cometh and restoreth all things; But I
say unto you, that Elias is come already, and they did not recognize him,
but did unto him whatever they would." He was rejected, and his rejection
foretold how things would go, that the King Himself would be rejected. We
would only mention that before the King comes again there will be once more
a forerunner. Once more the message will be heard, The kingdom of the
heavens draweth nigh. It will be the Gospel of the Kingdom preached by the
remnant during the great tribulation. All we have in Malachi 4:5, "Behold,
I will send you Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and
dreadful day of the Lord," will then be fulfilled. In Revelation 13 one of
the two witnesses is, without question, one like Elijah. It is necessary to
state, that no great and miracle-working preacher of repentance, in the
spirit of Elijah, is promised to Christendom. We make this remark, because
in our days persons stand up and declare that they are forerunners, or one
of the witnesses or messengers of the covenant. These poor people err and
know not the Scripture, and by their conceited claims work untold harm.

     John the Baptist appears in the wilderness. He is not in the temple in
the midst of the learned and the great. There was no room for him there. He
is outside of the camp, and the people too have to leave Jerusalem and go
out to him. This is once more significant. It shows what the end will be.

     His preaching is, "Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn
nigh."

     The phrase, kingdom of the heavens, is mentioned thirty-two times in
the Gospel of Matthew. Here it is for the first time. The strangest meaning
has been put upon this term. Christendom at large is all at sea about the
meaning of it. Heaven or the church are the general interpretations which
are given. Both are wrong, and because the meaning of this term is so
grossly misunderstood, there is no conception whatever of the thoughts and
purposes of God. The kingdom of the heavens is an Old Testament term. It is
to be in the earth and not in heaven. It is a kingdom in which the heavens
rule (Daniel 4:26). The setting up of that kingdom is spoken of in Daniel
2:44, and in the seventh chapter, verse 14. It is in the hands of One who
is the Son of Man, Messiah, the Son of David, who is to rule in
righteousness. In that kingdom there will be universal peace, and the
knowledge of the glory of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters
cover the deep. His own people, the house of Judah and the house of Israel,
will all be regathered into the land, Jerusalem built again and become the
great center of blessing for the nations of the earth. In one word, the
kingdom of the heavens is the literal fulfilment of all the prophecies and
promises contained in the Old Testament, which the Lord gave to the seed of
Abraham, and the blessings of the nations of the earth to come after this
kingdom is set up. The Church is not known in the Old Testament, nor is it
seen in the opening chapters of Matthew. _This _kingdom, the forerunner
declares, now has drawn nigh, it is at hand. The King is in the earth,
Emanuel, He whose name is Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the
Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, and concerning whom it is said,
"that of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end
upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it and to
establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever."
Not alone did John preach this kingdom to its Jewish, earthly form, but the
Lord Himself declared that it had drawn nigh, and when the King sent out
His disciples He told them to preach, "The kingdom of the heavens has drawn
nigh," the special Messianic kingdom power was put upon them to heal the
sick, to raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, and cast out demons (Matthew
10).

     But as the forerunner and his testimony is rejected, and the King
Himself, the coming of that kingdom of the heavens is postponed. It is not
set aside completely, but only postponed, and all the glories of that
earthly Messianic Kingdom, which will reach from sea to sea, so minutely
pictured in Old Testament prophecy, will yet be established in the earth
with Jerusalem as the center, for the gifts and callings of God are without
repentance. The kingdom of the heavens is not the church, and the church is
not the kingdom. How great the confusion is on this point in all Christian
denominations who read the "history of the church" in the establishment and
glory of the kingdom predicted by the prophets.

     The proper word for John to utter when appearing in the wilderness
was, repent. That kingdom which had now drawn nigh was to bring judgment of
all that is evil. Judgments upon all unrighteousness are associated with
the coming of that kingdom. Every Jew was acquainted with that fact. It is
true the earthly glories of the kingdom of the heavens had been announced
by every prophet, but equally true is it that the coming judgments were
announced, and at all times in past generations of the earthly people of
God, the cry, "Return! Repent!" was heard. Now the greatest one of all the
prophets has come, and the cry of the Law and the Prophets, Repent, sounds
forth once more, so strong and clear as never before.

     Before we take up the meaning of repentance here and the baptism unto
repentance wherewith he baptized, and compare them with repentance and
baptism which are connected with the Gospel of Grace, we must call
attention to the quotation from Isaiah which follows. The words are taken
from that sublime chapter which begins with, Comfort ye, comfort ye, my
people, the fortieth chapter. In comparing Matthew with Luke we find that
the quotation in Luke is complete, in Matthew it is only in part. Luke, or
rather the Holy Spirit through him, adds, "Every gorge shall be filled up,
and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, and the crooked shall
become straight, and the rough places smooth ways, and all flesh shall see
the salvation of God (Luke 3:5-7)." One would look to the Gospel of Matthew
as the Jewish Gospel, to find such a complete quotation from the Old
Testament. Why then, is it not all quoted in Matthew, and why does it stand
in Luke? The reason is easily found. Luke's Gospel is for the Gentiles, to
show that salvation is to be indeed offered to all flesh. For this reason
the full quotation is perfectly in order in that Gospel, while in Matthew,
here in the beginning in its narrower scope, it would be out of order. It
is likewise to be remarked that the testimony of John was not only the cry
in the wilderness, the loud and continued "Repent!" Such is heard here, and
when the kingdom hopes are not realized, we shall see him later sending
from the prison to the Lord with his question. But John had a more perfect
knowledge, which he imparted to his disciples. The proper place for that
testimony is neither Matthew, Mark nor Luke, but the Gospel where the Holy
Spirit shows us our Saviour and Lord as the only begotten of the Father,
the Gospel of John. There John points to Him and says, Behold the Lamb of
God who taketh away the sin of the world. "I have seen and borne Him
witness that He is the Son of God (John 1:29-34)." But clearer still is
that wonderful address he delivers to his disciples when they came to him.
"And John answered and said, A man can receive nothing unless it be given
him out of heaven. Ye, yourselves, bear me witness that I said, I am not
the Christ, but that I am sent before Him. He that hath the bride is the
bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him,
rejoices in heart because of the voice of the bridegroom; this my joy then
is fulfilled He must increase, but I must decrease. He who comes from above
is above all. He who has his origin in the earth is of the earth, and
speaks as of the earth. He who comes out of heaven is above all, and what
He has seen and what He has heard this He testifies; and no one receives
His testimony. He that has received His testimony has set to his seal that
God is true; for He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God
gives not the Spirit by measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all
things in His hand. He that believes on the Son has life eternal, and he
that is not subject to the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God
abideth upon him" (John 3:27-36).

     Such a testimony then was given by John, he knew of life through
Christ and that the bridegroom is the Son of God.

     Repentance is his foremost message to the nation. Let us consider
briefly what it means. Repentance as it is found in the Old Testament, is
God's request to His earthly people to return unto Him. This is the call of
John the Baptist in this third chapter. It is the Gospel of the Kingdom
which he preaches. The Gospel of Grace is something different. It was not
known then, it could not be fully made known and preached till after the
death, the resurrection, ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ and the gift of
the Holy Spirit. To preach the Gospel of Grace from the words of John the
Baptist, "Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn nigh," would be
misleading. Still it is being done throughout Christendom. Not knowing what
the kingdom of the heavens is, what the church is, and the differences
between the Gospel of the Kingdom and the Gospel of Grace, there is a
constant misapplication of the scriptures and preaching of a repentance
which is Jewish. Theological systems, especially Arminianism, have produced
a way of salvation, which is surely nothing less, than the new wine in old
wineskins. There is the demand of a repentance, a certain form of
penitence, a deep feeling of being lost, grief and despair, turning away
from the world and worldly pleasures, seeking the Lord, perhaps for many
weary months, then at last, after such a weird experience, believing in the
Lord Jesus Christ. After this the receiving of what is termed, the witness
of the Spirit, a good feeling, by which it is claimed one alone can know
that he is saved, a feeling which can be lost, after which the person is
once more unsaved. That all this is not according to the Gospel of Grace,
the teachings of Romans, as well as the other epistles is evident. One who
has written on the subject of repentance has done it in such a scriptural
and simple way that we desire to quote from his book:


     "What then about repentance? Are faith and the Spirit's work enough?
Or is not repentance no less a necessity if men are to be saved? I meet
this question boldly and at once by denouncing it as based, not so much on
ignorance as on deep seated and systematic error. The repentance which thus
obtrudes itself and claims notice in every sermon is not the friend of the
Gospel but an enemy. It is like the officious guide, who forces himself
upon the traveler only to mislead him. Faith and repentance are not
successive stages on the road to life; they are not independent guides to
direct the pilgrim's path; they are not separate acts to be successively
accomplished by the sinner as a condition of his salvation. But, in
different phases of it, they represent the same Godward attitude of the
soul, which the truth of God believed produces.
     "Salvation there cannot be without repentance any more than without
faith, but the soundest and fullest Gospel preaching need not include any
mention of the word. Neither as verb or noun does it occur in the Epistle
to the Romans -- God's great doctrinal treatise on redemption and
righteousness -- save in the warnings of the second chapter. And the Gospel
of John, pre-eminently the Gospel-book of the Bible -- will be searched in
vain for a single mention of it. The beloved disciple wrote his Gospel that
men might believe and live, and his Epistle followed to confirm believers
in the simplicity and certainty of their faith; but yet from end to end of
them the word 'repent' or 'repentance' never once occurs. It is to these
writings before all others men have turned in every age to find words of
peace and life, and yet some who profess to hold them inspired will cavil
at a Gospel sermon because repentance is not mentioned in it -- a fault, if
fault it be, that marks the testimony of the Apostle John and the preaching
of our Lord Himself, as recorded by the fourth evangelist. The repentance
of the Gospel is to be found in the Nicodemus discourse and in the gracious
testimony to the woman at the well; and, I may add, any repentance that
limits or jars upon those sacred words is wholly against the truth." (The
Gospel and its Ministry, By Robert Anderson.)

     In Acts 3:19 we hear Peter preaching, "Repent." It is here still to
the nation connected with a national hope: The restoring of all things of
which God has spoken by the mouth of His holy prophets. After the calling
out of people for His name is accomplished, and the fullness of the
Gentiles has come in, there will be once more the call heard, "Repent!"

     But the call to repentance is associated with baptism -- the baptism
unto repentance. "Then went out to Him Jerusalem and all Judea, and all the
country round the Jordan, and were baptized by Him in the Jordan,
confessing their sins (verse 5)." Concerning his baptism He said, "I indeed
baptize you with water unto repentance." There was then a great stir, and
large were the multitudes from the city who came out to hear and to follow
the call to repent. Among them were many Pharisees and Sadducees, to whom
He said, "Offspring of vipers, who has forewarned you to flee from the
coming wrath? Produce, therefore, fruit worthy of repentance. And do not
think to say within yourselves, We have Abraham for our Father; for I say
unto you that God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham.
And already the axe is applied to the root of the trees; every tree
therefore not producing good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire."
"And all the people when they heard it, and the publicans, justified God,
having been baptized with John's baptism; but the Pharisees and the lawyers
rejected God's counsel with regard to themselves, not being baptized by
Him" (Luke 7:29, 30).

     The baptism of John shows clearly what repentance means. Jordan is
always in the Word the type of death. Thus John baptized in the river of
death, which would mean unto death. (Baptism in water was known and
practiced among the Jews centuries before John. Proselytes were not only
circumcised but also dipped in water.) The people came, confessed their
sins, seeing then their true position, what they were and what they
deserved; they went down into Jordan to be buried in water, thus typifying
death. They heard, they believed, they confessed and witnessed to it
outwardly. In this way they justified God, as recorded in the above passage
from Luke. Christian baptism is, of course, something essentially
different. It is not a baptism unto repentance of deserved death, but it is
unto Christ's death, who has taken our place and died for us. "Are you
ignorant that we, as many as have been baptized unto Christ, have been
baptized unto His death? We have been therefore buried with Him by baptism
unto death, in order that even as Christ has been raised up from among the
dead by the glory of the Father, so we also should walk in newness of life"
(Rom. 6:3-5). Christian baptism is not taught in the third chapter of
Matthew. How much confusion has resulted from giving it such a meaning,
placing believers into a sad legalism.

     Many then were baptized unto repentance by the forerunner. But now for
the first time we meet with the two great religious classes and leaders
among the Jews, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, who came out to John.
These two classes play an important role in the Gospel. The Pharisees* were
the strictly religious, orthodox-ritualistic class. (The name Pharisee
means a Separatist. One who says: "I am holier than them.") They were well
versed in the traditions of the elders, and occupied themselves with
creating new commandments and strange interpretations of the law. They are
the fathers of the talmudical Jews of the present day and typical of
ritualistic Christendom, having the form of godliness and not the power.
The Sadducees were the rationalists, the unbelieving class. They were much
given to reform. Their offspring today are the reformed Jews, who reject
the greater part of the Word of God, and in Christendom they are remarkably
reproduced in the unevangelical "Isms," though they call themselves
"Christian" (as the Sadducees called themselves Jews), who reject portions
of the Word, who do not believe in the inspiration of the Bible.

     "Offspring of vipers!" thus the Holy Spirit declared through the
forerunner their true character. What a strong and cutting word it is,
which applies not alone to the Pharisees and Sadducees, but to all
ritualistic-religiousness and unbelieving criticism. They are the offspring
not of God but of vipers. But still they were the proud boasters of being
the seed of Abraham and as such entitled to the promised blessing. They
believed that they were to be saved from the wrath of God connected with
the establishment of the kingdom, and the wrath would fall entirely upon
the Gentile nations. One only needs to peruse some of the tracts of the
Talmud to find the reflection of their proud, self-righteous belief. When
they came, they were far from taking that true position in repentance, in
death. And so John demands of them that they are to bring forth fruit
worthy of repentance. He uncovers their false pretensions, and shows that
no natural birth, no religious attainment would deliver them in the day of
wrath. This is followed by the announcement of the nearness of the
judgment, the axe laid at the root of the trees, ready to fell the mighty
trees void of fruit. All this finds an application in the day in which we
live, when the axe is once more laid at the roots to cut off and cast into
the fire that which has not brought fruit. (The conditions in nominal
Christendom now, immediately before the Second Coming of Christ, are the
same as the conditions in professing Judaism at the time of His first
coming.)                             

     From the words of condemnation upon the proud, self-righteous
Pharisees and Sadducees, the herald of the King now turns to speak, as it
became him in humility, of the glorious Person of the King Himself. And
what a far reaching testimony it is we have in the eleventh and twelfth
verses! "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He that comes
after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not fit to bear; He shall
baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire; whose winnowing fan is in His
hand, and He shall thoroughly purge His threshing floor, and shall gather
His wheat into the garner, but the chaff He will burn with fire
unquenchable."

     Here we have another passage which is of vital importance. Let us
understand in the first place that the words spoken refer to the first and
second coming of our Lord. Let this be clearly fixed in our minds, and all
will be plain. The promise connected with the first coming is, He shall
baptize you with the Holy Spirit. The second coming of the Lord will bring
the baptism with Fire, as it is seen at once in the words which follow,
which speak clearly of judgment and fire unquenchable. It may appear
strange at the first glance that John says in one breath: "He shall baptize
you with the Holy Spirit and fire" -- that the Holy Spirit should refer to
His first coming and the fire to His second appearing, but let us take into
consideration that John still belongs to the Old Testament, and he
expresses himself in a way as many of the prophets did, who frequently
spoke in one clause of the Lord's first and second coming. However, the
fifth verse in the first chapter of Acts puts into our hands the key. The
Lord said then to His disciples, "John, indeed, baptized with water, but ye
shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence." That our Lord
speaks of what John said in our passage here is evident, yet He does not
mention baptism with fire. If He had added, and with fire, it would clearly
prove that the baptism connected with His first coming is a baptism with
the Holy Spirit and fire. But He leaves out the fire because it stands in
connection with His second coming. Thus it is seen in the entire prophetic
Word, which speaks of the day of wrath and vengeance as being a day of
burning and fire. How could we even undertake to mention but half of the
erroneous doctrines which are more or less emanating from this passage
wrongly applied? The doctrine of the Holy Spirit, the work of the Holy
Spirit, etc., has of late years been made very prominent. Conventions for
baptisms, fillings with the Holy Spirit, the enduement of the Spirit for
power in service, and many other topics in relation to the doctrine of the
Spirit and for a so-called "second blessing" (a term which is nowhere found
in the Word) are being held. But how sad it is to see the contortions of
the Scriptures as well as the unscriptural, abnormal applications which
have been made. A good deal comes from teaching that the believer is to be
baptized not alone with the Spirit but also with fire. It is not enough to
have believed, so they teach, and be saved by Grace, but there is to be a
baptism with fire, a second experience which outshines all others. Hence we
find the most extravagant terms which are used in connection with the Holy
Spirit, such as Holy Ghost preachers and Holy Ghost fire.

     The baptism with the Holy Spirit promised by the Lord took place on
the day of Pentecost. By this one Spirit are we all baptized into the one
body, which is the Church (1 Cor. 12:13). We are not born again by the
baptism of the Spirit, but those who are born again become by it the
members of that one body. Every believer who has believed in the Lord Jesus
Christ hath the Holy Spirit. He the blessed Paraclete, is abiding in him.
It is wrong for a believer to plead or pray for the Holy Spirit to come
unto him, and equally unscriptural is it to pray for a baptism with fire,
for there is no such baptism now, and no believer could pray for the
flaming fire to fall upon him, for he is delivered from that wrath.

     The Lord comes again, and then it will be with a baptism of fire. The
wheat will be gathered into the garner, and then the chaff upon the
threshing floor swept together, corresponding with the tares in the
parables put together in bundles, will be given over to the fire
unquenchable.

     John unquestionably waited anxiously for the appearing of Him whose
advent he had announced. God, who had sent him to baptize with water, had
told him that upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and abiding on
him, he it is who baptizes with the Spirit (John 1:32-34). At last the
moment came. What a moment it was! It terminated the ministry of the
forerunner. It was the beginning of the public ministry of the King
Himself. He now steps to the front to go that path of obedience marked out
for Him, to be presented as King to the nation, to be rejected, and to do
that work which no Prophet, no John, no Angel or Archangel could do, but He
alone.

     "Then comes Jesus from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized
of him." The Lord, He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit and with fire, He
who is greater than John, to whom the Baptist bowed in humility and
worship, He who is the creator of all things, comes to the preacher of
repentance and presents Himself to be baptized. What a scene! John stood
amazed. "He forbade Him, saying, I have need to be baptized of Thee, and
comest Thou to me?" In other words, I am the sinner, I need repentance, I
deserve to go into that river of death, but Thou art holy -- no evil in
Thee, nothing worthy of death.


     Thus in the very beginning of His public ministry we have the
testimony of His holiness. He is the one who alone is holy, harmless,
undefiled, separate from sinners; He knew no sin, who could not sin,
neither was guile found in His mouth. When at last the prince of this world
came he had nothing in Him. But why then should He, the holy one, this
spotless, pure being, present Himself to the preacher of repentance? Why
should He go into the river of death and take His place in death? Where
there is no sin there need be no confession. Where there is no sin there
can be no death. How could He, the King, that holy thing born of the
virgin, God manifested in the flesh, ever confess sin when there was no
sin? Yet He not only came to be baptized, but He was baptized. The question
has had many answers. We said above that His baptism marks the beginning of
His public ministry, He enters upon His work, and there can be only one
meaning to His baptism, which is in fullest harmony with that work He came
to do. Baptism means death and resurrection. He had no sin, but came to be
the substitute for sinners, and so He takes in the very beginning their
place, the sinner's place in death. He knew His work before. It is not to
be understood as if now He had learned for the first time who He is and
what His work is. But publicly He declares in presence of men, angels,
demons, and in the presence of God that He is here to fulfill all
righteousness. "Suffer it now, for it thus becometh us to fulfill all
righteousness" (verse 13). No confessing or repenting on His part, He was
fulfilling all righteousness. As one has said, "He saw His sheep struggling
in the dark waters of the river of judgment, the meaning of the Jordan, and
He must go in for their rescue. He must become identified with them, taking
their place in judgment that they might be made the righteousness of God in
Him, bringing in "the righteousness of God by faith of Jesus Christ towards
all and upon all those who believe" (Rom. 3:22). He knew no sin, was made
sin for us, and His baptism declares this. The details of His baptism are
not given. Then he suffers Him. He placed Himself into the hands of John
and went into the waters of Jordan. Later He said, I have a baptism to be
baptized with, and how I am strengthened until it shall have been
accomplished! The man of sorrows and acquainted with grief soon reached
that place, when He went into the deep waters of suffering and death, when
all the billows broke over His head. His baptism was but a type of this.

     "And Jesus, having been baptized, went straightway from the water, and
lo, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending
as a dove and coming upon Him; and behold a voice out of the heavens
saying, This is my beloved Son in whom I have found My delight (verses 16
and 17)."

     Here we have something which leads us still deeper. It is a glorious
manifestation of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Son who has
gone down comes out to be anointed by the Holy Spirit, and proclaimed as
the beloved Son by the Father's voice. He is anointed for the work He had
to do. He was begotten by the Holy Spirit, filled with the Spirit, and
through the eternal Spirit He offered Himself without spot to God. John
learned now that He was the true One. The Holy Spirit came upon Jesus in
the form of a dove. The dove is the type of the Holy Spirit. We are
reminded of the dove which flew across the dark waters of judgment, come
from the ark, lifted above all judgment, finding no resting place and
returned to the ark. And when sent out the second time the dove returns
with an olive branch and the third time there was no return to the ark.
This speaks of the sending forth of the Holy Spirit in the different
dispensations. But here is the One upon whom the Holy Spirit came to abide.
We are reminded of the prophet whose book and experience is a type of
Christ, Jonah the son of Amittai, translated, the Dove, the Son of Truth.
The dove is, as one of the sacrificial birds, a type of Christ. And through
Him and in Him we have the Holy Spirit as the abiding one, the Paraclete.
He was poured out after His death and resurrection.

     The heavens were opened unto Him. This is a significant word which is
often overlooked. For Him alone the heavens are open. No one has gone up
into heaven save He who came down out of heaven, the Son of Man, who is in
heaven (John 3:13). He came out of heaven. The heavens were opened unto Him
and He has passed through the heavens. In Him the heavens are opened for
us, and He has taken us all, who believe, into heaven, bringing many sons
to glory. And now a voice is heard. It is not the voice of an Angel, but
the voice of the Father. Wonderful fact, that now after He, who is
eternally the Son of God, subsisting in the form of God, and who became Son
of God incarnate, after He has thus taken the place in death for sinners,
that the Father speaks to approve of Him. He had seen Him, His beloved Son,
go down to fulfill all righteousness, and now He vindicates Him by
declaring, This is My beloved Son in whom I have found My delight. This
corresponds to the word in the second Psalm, Thou art My Son, this day have
I begotten thee. The Lord Jesus Christ is eternally the Son of God, but
here in both passages we see Him as the Son of God incarnate. Never could
it be said of Him as the Only begotten of the Father, This day have I
begotten Thee. Equally true is it that eternally the Father's delight has
been in the Son. But Romans 1:3 speaks of Him as His Son, come of David's
seed according to flesh, marked out as Son of God in power, according to
the spirit of holiness by resurrection of the dead Jesus Christ our Lord.
He is the first begotten, and in Acts 13 we have the true application of
that word, Thou art My Son -- "having raised up Jesus;" as it is also
written in the second Psalm, "Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten
Thee" -- it is then in resurrection, by the resurrection from the dead that
He is marked out Son of God.

     And thus we see it here. In going down into Jordan He typifies His own
death, but His coming up straightway is the type of resurrection, and in
this coming up the Father's voice is heard declaring Him the well beloved.
"Therefore doth My Father love Me -- because I lay down My life that I
might take it again." Well pleasing to the Father He was, and how else
could it be with the Sinless One, who was made like unto His brethren. It
is then seen from the baptism of our Lord that He is the Lamb of God for
the sacrifice, even as John recognized it in pointing to Him, Behold the
Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world. He is perfectly pleasing
to the Father, and by the Holy Spirit who came upon Him He is consecrated
to the work before Him. It is also clear from these meditations that the
baptism of the Lord is typical of His death and resurrection.

     And now, after all this took place and He entered thus upon His
official work -- then Jesus was carried up into the wilderness by the
Spirit to be tempted of the devil (chap. 4:1).

     Many other teachings could be given in connection with the third
chapter in which we tarried longer than we expected. How rich, how
unfathomable is God's Word! Divine from beginning to end, a living Word,
energetic, and sharper than any two-edged sword. May we praise our God for
His written Word, and for Him who is the living Word, who took our place in
death, delivered for our offences, but raised from the dead on account of
our justification. All honor and praise and glory to Him who loveth us and
has washed us, to Him the Son who has made us sons, and in whom we hear the
Father's loving voice. "And because ye are sons, God has sent the Spirit of
His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba Father" (Gal. 4:6).

                                    _79

                                CHAPTER IV

     The first part of this chapter gives us the history of the temptation
of the King. This is a most important topic, many-sided in its
applications; large volumes have been written on it without exhausting it.
We will therefore have to confine ourselves to the bringing out of some of
the most important teachings, without attempting to go into many of the
precious details and applications to the believer.

     The baptism marked, as we saw in the last chapter, our Lord's entrance
upon His official work. He is declared as the Son of God by His Father, and
anointed with the Holy Spirit; and the third act is that He, who is
declared the Son of God, anointed with the Spirit, come to do the eternal
will of God, to suffer and to die, is to be tempted by the devil. "Then was
Jesus carried up into the wilderness by the Spirit" (verse 1). It came
immediately after he had come out of the waters. There was no interval
between. This is seen from the Gospel of Mark. "And immediately the Spirit
drives Him out into the wilderness" (Mark 1:12). It was the first thing to
be done in fulfilling the Scriptures. He was carried into the wilderness,
and in Mark it is stronger still: driven there. Some have said, as if our
Lord was anxious to meet the enemy, desirous of coming face to face with
that old serpent, the devil, who has the power of death, and whom to annul
He had come. But that cannot be. If it had been our Lord Himself who
hastens impatiently to meet the adversary, He would have been the tempter
of the Evil one. Not His Spirit drove Him, but the Spirit carried Him into
the wilderness. It was the Holy Spirit who took Him to meet the enemy. The
Spirit, who had come upon Him and rested on Him -- He impels Him. The
Christ, the second man and last Adam, meets the devil in another place, far
different from the garden where Adam and Eve had their abode. What a
contrast! Even the earth, though good and perfect it was, did not seem to
be a good enough place for Adam and Eve. So the Lord planted a garden
eastward in Eden, and there He put the man He had formed. And out of the
ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight
and good for food (Gen. 2:8, 9). What a beautiful spot that garden must
have been! Surrounded by all this, with all wants supplied, the enemy came
to tempt, and with it came the failure. But here is the second Man, and He
is not brought into a garden, but He is driven into the wilderness -- "the
great and terrible wilderness wherein were fiery serpents and scorpions,
and thirsty ground where was no water" (Deut. 8:15). He was there in the
wilderness with the wild beasts (Mark 1:13). In that terrible wilderness,
surrounded by serpents, scorpions, adders and the wild beasts, the Messiah,
the King, stands to meet the foe. And having fasted forty days and forty
nights, afterwards He hungered; His blessed body, a body of flesh and
blood, felt hunger and thirst. How reduced in His outward appearing He must
have been, the Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief!

     We would call attention to the fact, that the tempter did not come to
Him for forty days, as it is often said in misquoting scripture, but
afterward, when, having fasted, he came to Him.

     And the tempter came to Him. It is the adversary, the accuser of the
brethren, that old serpent, the devil. He is as truly a person as God and
our Lord is a person. How terrible it is that in the very midst of
Christendom the personality of the devil is denied. If there is no personal
devil there is no need of a personal Saviour. The "new" theology, whose
father the devil is himself, has no use for a belief in the personal devil.
That person is simply put down as an invention of the dark middle ages, and
spoken of as an old relic, which still survives in the minds of some old
fogies. It is no longer a person with most of these modern theologians, but
an evil principle. The Lord's temptations, according to this new
interpretation, were only imaginations, they were the workings of the mind,
a kind of weakness which was produced by the prolonged fastings. If we ask
these men who got rid of the personal devil, how they can explain the
belief of the Jews in a personal devil and in the demons, as well as the
demoniacal possessions in the days of our Lord? they answer us and say, The
Jews brought this superstition from the Babylonian captivity. But if we ask
these "critics" Why, then did the Lord and His apostles not correct so
grave an error? they give us an answer which dishonors our Lord. The denial
of the existence of a personal devil, as it is becoming almost universal in
Christendom, is surely the masterpiece of all the dreadful work Satan has
done, and we can well imagine what fiendish joy he must have in seeing his
existence denied, and by and by he will have the world in security ensnared
by his delusions. Then, when he himself and with him his demons are cast
out of heaven into the earth, the earth will know that there is a personal
devil, for he comes on the earth and brings with it that which is his work,
the great tribulation. His wrath will be great for a short time (Rev. 12).
What a terrible awakening that will be for all those who denied the
existence of that Evil one! The dreadful chain in denying the personality
of the devil is: No devil, no sin, no judgment, no wrath, no atonement, no
Saviour, and at last no God.

     We do not know in what form of a person the devil appeared to our
Lord. There is a scripture which tells us of a form he took that is in
Genesis the third chapter. The serpent must have been perhaps the most
attractive of all the creatures and not as the serpent is now, creeping
upon its belly, having become this by the curse. In the New Testament we
read that he goes about as a roaring lion and that Satan transforms himself
into an angel of light. Perhaps in that subtle form he came to meet Him,
whom he knew to be the eternal Word made flesh.

     There is but one more word to be considered before we turn to the
temptations themselves and take them up in their order. It is the word
tempt. It is here where much misunderstanding comes in. The word tempt has
different meanings. One of them is inciting or enticing to evil, to seduce.
This always presupposes evil present in some form, the possibility that the
person can be enticed and incited to evil, that in the person there is
something which responds or may respond to the evil placed before the soul.
This could never be the case with our Lord. There was no sin, no evil in
Him. He is absolutely holy. Therefore the word tempt in this form can never
apply to Him. But the word tempt means also, put to test. To test means to
bring to trial and examination; compare with a standard; in this sense only
it can refer to our Lord. He was tempted means, He was tested as to His
ability to do that for which He had come. The test or tempting is to bring
out that He is the pure gold, the Holy One, the spotless One, the One who
alone can do the work for which He appeared, to put away sin by sacrificing
Himself. Therefore the Spirit led Him up into the wilderness. The word
tempting or testing has also a special significance in connection with
Israel. The Lord, as Messiah and King, is closely identified with His
people. He goes through their history, so to speak, and fulfills all, and
at last He died for that nation. Israel was tested or proved, and failed.
"There He made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there He proved
them." The Septuagint translates the Hebrew "Nissohu" with a Greek word
which is used in the fourth chapter of Matthew. The Hebrew means testing,
to find out if it is really so by a test. The same word is used in
Deuteronomy the eighth chapter. "And thou shalt remember all the way which
the Lord thy God has led thee these forty years in the wilderness that He
might humble thee, to prove (test) thee, to know what was in thine heart,
whether thou wouldest keep His commandments or no" (Deut. 8:2). The Lord,
the true Israel then is tested and He does not fail. And now we come to the
temptations themselves. The devil begins to address Him, who has come to
crush his head. It would be very interesting to make a careful study of the
words of Satan we have in the Word of God. They are contained in Genesis
the third chapter, the first chapter of Job, and here in the Gospel. The
words he speaks in these passages establish him in his true character, the
liar and murderer from beginning, the accuser. He places before our Lord
three temptations, the test is threefold.

     I. "And the tempter coming up to Him said, If thou be Son of God,
speak that these stones may become bread."

     The answer from the Lord: "But He answering said, It is written man
shall not live by bread alone, but by every word which goes out through
Gods mouth" (Deut. 8:3)

     II. "Then the devil takes Him to the holy city and sets Him upon the
edge of the temple, and says to Him, If Thou be Son of God cast Thyself
down; for it is written, He shall give charge to His angels concerning
Thee, and on their hands shall they bear Thee, lest in any wise Thou strike
Thy foot against a stone" (Psalms 91).

     The answer: "Jesus said to him, It is again written, thou shalt not
tempt the Lord thy God" (Deut. 6:16).

     III. "Again the devil takes Him to a very high mountain, and shows Him
all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, and says to Him, All these
things will I give Thee, if, falling down, thou wilt do me homage. Then
Jesus says to him, Get thee away, Satan, for it is written, Thou shalt do
homage to the Lord thy God, and Him alone shalt thou serve" (Deut. 6:13).

     First, a few general remarks. Twice Satan takes the name Son of God in
his mouth. He knew that the Person before him is the Son of God, but he
hates Him as such. Later this hatred is fully seen in those of whom the
Lord said, "Ye are of the devil, as your father, and ye desire to do the
lusts of your father" (John 8-.44). The Pharisees and elders of the people,
who are seen in the Gospel of Matthew, knew Him as Son and Heir, and with
this knowledge they rejected Him and delivered Him into the hands of the
Gentiles. This was surely Satanic. Each of these temptations leads higher.
In the first it seems but a small matter to turn a stone into bread. He
knew this Lord had spoken in creation, and the heavens were blazing with
millions of worlds, now but speak and change a stone into bread. The second
demands more, but the third is the climax, when he asks Him, who is the
Heir of all things, and in whose name every knee must bow, to fall down and
do him homage. All the forces at Satan's command were unquestionably
brought to bear in this last temptation. With one stroke of His hand He
could produce before Him, who is the King of kings, all the kingdoms of the
world.

     Only once the tempter says, It is written. He knows what is written
and he knows more of the written Word, which is forever settled in the
heavens, than all the higher critical professors in the world. Higher
criticism of the Word is but his child, his production. But whenever he
quotes scripture it is always in the wrong way. It was so in the Garden of
Eden and it is so here. He quotes from the ninety-first Psalm, but leaves
out the words, "In all thy ways." Another interesting fact is that the
tempter knew that this psalm was spoken prophetically of the second man,
the Lord from heaven. What sneering remarks have been made on the Book of
Psalms by the critics. What they deny is a denial of the truth, which the
devil knows, believes and trembles. Our Lord speaks three times, It is
written. What a testimony to the Word of God! He knows no other weapon than
the written Word. In quoting the scriptures to the enemy He does it from
but one book, that is the book of Deuteronomy. More than any other book in
the Old Testament this one has been denied an ancient date. Higher
criticism has declared and declares today, that Moses never wrote that
book, but that it is the work of some priest living centuries later. The
late J.H. Brookes wrote very pointedly on this, saying, "Our Lord took
refuge, so to speak, behind the written Word of God, quoting each time from
the book of Deuteronomy, as if foreseeing the contempt with which this
precious book is treated by modern higher criticism, and defending it
against the attacks of the enemy. It is perilously near blasphemy to assert
that He quoted from a book which this insolent criticism declares to be a
forgery. For if He did not know the date of its composition He is not
divine. And if He did not know but chose to humor a popular error, He
connived a falsehood. Genesis tells us of election; Exodus of redemption;
Leviticus of worship; Numbers of warfare in the wilderness; Deuteronomy of
obedience; and hence the appropriateness of quoting from this book, which
the Lord knew as divinely inspired. It is written, was enough for Him in
the conflict with the devil, and It is written enough for us amid all the
temptations we may encounter on our way to meet Him in the air."

     We will leave it, then, as we suggest above, to the reader to make a
careful comparison between the opening verses of the third chapter in
Genesis and the temptations of our Lord. The Satan there is the same, that
old serpent, the devil. He came to Eve with the lust of the flesh, the lust
of the eyes and the pride of life, and the same he brings to bear upon the
Lord. He said to Eve, "Is it so that God said?" and to Christ he said, "If
thou art the Son of God." It is doubt, unbelief with which he always
advances. He misquoted the Word of God to Eve. God had said, "Thou shalt
surely die," and he said, "Lest ye die." He does the same in the
temptations of Christ. These hints will be sufficient to help in the
comparison.

     The first temptation is of course the principal one. Defeated in this
one he is defeated in all. He is detected at once as the enemy and with the
first victory the whole victory is won. It is the most subtle of all; it
appears extremely plausible and one might think it hardly a temptation at
all, while in the third it is the most blunt attempt; we might almost say a
desperate, despairing attack. But what was the first temptation and what
does it teach us? "If thou be Son of God, speak that these stones may
become bread." That the Christ is the Son of God as He stands before the
tempter was well known to the evil one. He knew it before and attempted to
take the life of the child through Herod, and the demons cried out before
Him in terror, "What have we to do with the Son of God -- hast Thou come
here before the time to torment us?" But it can hardly be said that the
temptation is to make Jesus doubt that He is the Son of God, because He is
suffering hunger. The first temptation is one in which He is assailed as
the Son of man. He was truly man, and this is seen here in the wilderness.
He fasted and He hungered. Is there anything wrong in being hungry?
Certainly not. It is in this that the subtlety of the tempter shows itself.
The enemy comes with a natural want and appeals to our Lord's power to
relieve Himself from that want. He is still the same evil, cunning
deceiver, who begins with the most subtle temptations. Here one might ask,
What wrong is there in satisfying hunger? The Lord could easily have done
this, turning stones into bread. He, who spoke in the hour of creation,
"Let there be light," "let the earth bring forth," He by whom and for whom
are all things could have at once changed all the stones into bread. Later
He fed thousands in a miraculous manner. He could have done so now for
Himself, but if He had done it He would have been proven at once unfit to
be our Saviour, who could die for us. He came to do the will of God. Thus
it is written, "Sacrifice and offering Thou willedst not, Thou hast
prepared me a body. ... Lo I come, O God, to do Thy will" (Hebrews 10:5-8).
He had not esteemed it robbery to be on an equality with God; but had
emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, taking His place in the
likeness of men. Now the path for Him has begun. He is here as true Man,
God manifested in the flesh, but the path is to do the will of God, that
eternal will of salvation. The path leads downward in humiliation,
suffering, it is to end in the cross, suffering death and tasting death for
everything. Hunger is a part of His humanity. Was there or is there in the
Word of God one word which could have told Him to change stones into bread?
On the cross in deep agony He remembered but a little Scripture concerning
Himself, which had to be fulfilled, and so it was by His own request so
that even not one of the smallest prophecies about His sufferings might be
unfulfilled (John 19:28). But had God given anywhere one word to Him, who
had come to do His will that He was to end His suffering as man, His hunger
by a miracle? Nowhere is to be found such a direction. If He had entered
upon the suggestion of Satan He would have acted according to His own will
and that would have been the will of the enemy. He would have taken His
case in His own hands. All the elements of disobedience and distrust to God
are in it involved. Now having failed in this one thing, having satisfied
His hunger and saved Himself by using powers which were not according to
the will of God, He would have been unfit to endure the cross and to
despise the shame. When it came to Gethsemane He might have shrunk from
drinking the cup, He might have called upon legions of angels at His
command to deliver Him, and when the billows of wrath and judgment were
coming He could not have stood them. Thus the changing of stones into bread
would have shown that He who did it was not fit to die for us, for He had
chosen His own will by the suggestion of Satan and not done the Father's
will, which is that He should suffer.

     This is clearly seen from His answer. He detects the old serpent at
once. There is no parleying from His side as it was with Eve. He resists
the devil at once. The perfect, sinless and spotless One has His "It is
written" to hand and this Word, bringing out the Father's will which He is
here to do, ends this first temptation. "It is written man shall not live
by bread alone, but by every word which goes out through God's mouth"
(Deut. 8:3). The meaning of the word He uses here is that man lives truly
not by bread alone, but by the Word of God, that is, in obedience to this
Word. And there is an application for us as believers. One has said on
this, (Numerical Bible, New Testament, page 62), "We realize the wondrous
privilege that is ours, the solemn responsibility that lies upon us. For we
are sanctified into the obedience of Christ, and He has left us an example
that we should follow in His steps" (1 Peter 1:2, 2:21). This principle of
His life must then be the principle of our lives. If with Him the governing
motive was to do the will of God, how simple is it that for us also the
will of God must be our motive for action. By every word that goes out of
the mouth of God doth man live. What a sustenance of the true life within
us to be thus, day by day, receiving the messages of His will guided by
that wondrous voice, learning more continually the tenderness of His love
for us: "He wakeneth morning by morning, He wakeneth mine ear as the
learner" (Isaiah 1:4). This is the utterance of the Lord Himself. How
blessed to be able to make it our own, and to have the fulfillment of those
words: "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way in which thou shalt
go; I will guide thee with mine eyes."

     For the next test the tempter took the Lord to the Holy City and sets
Him upon the edge (the pinnacle) of the temple, and said to Him, "If Thou
be Son of God cast Thyself down; for it is written, He shall give charge to
His angels concerning Thee, and on their hands they shall bear Thee, lest
in any wise Thou strike Thy foot against a stone."

     The Psalm which Satan quotes (Psalm 91.) is a Messianic Psalm. He
takes Him to the Holy City, Jerusalem, and upon the pinnacle of the temple,
because the second temptation is the temptation of Him as the Messiah.
Standing upon that high place the people below must have seen Him and
recognized Him; Satan was hid from their view. What a test and proof of His
Messiahship if slowly He had descended, the laws of gravitation completely
set aside, landing unharmed on His feet before the astonished multitude.
Would they not at once accept Him? Why should He be rejected if by doing
this He might become in the shortest order their leader, their King and
redeemer from the yoke of the Roman oppressor? Now Satan defeated had heard
the Word upon which the Lord stood. He was defeated by the Word. He comes
now with the Word himself, quoting scripture and that from a Psalm which
speaks of the Messiah, the second man. However, he misquotes the Word and
leaves out the seven words, "and keep Thee in all Thy ways." It is as
subtle as the first temptation. Here he presents the Word and tries to make
our Lord act in obedience to the Word by testing God's Word and by doing so
to prove that He is the Messiah and the Son of God at the same time. But
why did he leave out those seven words? Because the ways in which He, the
Messiah, will be kept are the ways of God. "Thy ways" are indeed His ways.
It was not the way of faith in impatience to test the truth of the Word and
casting Himself down and to prove thereby that He is Messiah and Son of
God. It was impossible that He could have even given this temptation a
moment's thought. The answer is at once ready as soon as the tempter has
uttered his lie. Jesus said, "It is again written, Thou shalt not tempt the
Lord thy God." It would have been testing, proving God and as such again
distrust and disobedience. We see how closely the two temptations are
connected. It is tempting Him to choose His own will and not the Will of
God, to act in His own behalf and to escape the suffering before Him.

     It is very suggestive that Satan should demand of Him to cast Himself
down from the edge of the temple, and to prove by this act His Messianity
and Divinity as well. Our Lord is gone into the presence of the Father with
a glorified body of flesh and bones. In a future day He who ascended upon
high, will descend. The heavens will be covered with His glory, and He who
is the leader and completer of faith, the great Exemplar of faith, in whom
patience had its complete, perfect work, will come again in glory and
majesty, seen by all eyes, the Messiah-King of Israel, the Son and Heir.
Then at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, and every tongue confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord, to God the Father's glory. The adorable One knew
the Father's will; He knew the suffering and the patience, the only road
that leads to glory. He begun to go the path, and His face is set like a
flint. He could not fail in what He had come to do. Again the old serpent
is conquered.

     Let us, like our Lord, be patient and go the way which is for us now
in humilitation, never murmuring or tempting God. "Count it all joy, my
brethren, when ye fall into various temptations (trials), knowing that the
proving of your faith works patience. But let patience have its perfect
work, that ye may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (James
1:2-4).

     And now they stand upon a high mountain. What a picture is presented
to our view! The liar and murderer from the beginning, and alongside of him
stands He who is Jehovah, the eternal Word made flesh. What must have been
His outward appearance with the fasting of forty days, with perhaps the
tattered robes which hung upon His body rent by the thorns of the
wilderness. The tempter's eyes must have beholden such a weak and frail
Person -- a man of sorrows, One who knew not where to lay His head. But the
scene changes. The serpent hisses, and by his immense power still at his
command the darkness of the night and the gloominess of the mountain top
are dispersed. Marvelous visions of beauty! Right here is Egypt with its
pyramids and wonderful buildings, treasures of art and precious things. It
disappears, and in its place ancient Greece, Athens and Corinth come up in
all their splendor. Once more the scene shifts, and now Rome, the mistress
of the world, that great city, is revealed. Satan shows Him all the
kingdoms of the world, and their glory. Yes, all the kingdoms of the world,
and they are in the tempter's grasp still, are passing by, one startling
vision after the other. And when the glory has passed, or perhaps while
still in view, driven to the very last, Satan speaks, but now no longer
mentioning the Lord as Son of God, but treating Him as mere man. He says to
Him, "All these things will I give Thee if falling down Thou wilt do me
homage." The very words speak of despair. All things are His -- all the
kingdoms of the world and their glory shall yet be the kingdom of our Lord
Jesus Christ, and the prince of this world, whose eternal abode with all
his demons is the lake of fire, could dare and stand by Him who is the
King, the second Man, and offer all the world to Him. Perhaps the very
appearance of our Lord may have brought the tempter to this despondent act.
But when all the kingdoms of the world and their glory pass along and the
eyes of Jesus rest upon them, what thoughts must have been His? What did He
behold in all the grand and glorious scenes? Surely we can venture to say
that He must have thought of this poor, benighted world under sin, death
and judgment, in the grasp of this dark and dreadful being standing there
at His side. And He had come to be the Lamb of God and to take away the sin
of the World. He had come to annul him, who has the might of death, that
is, the devil (Hebrews 2:14). That He is the future heir of all things
Satan must have felt, and now he offers Him all at once to turn over all
the kingdoms of the world and their glory to Him if He will but do him
homage -- again if He but turn aside from the will of God. It is now clear
that Satan feared Him going that path of faith as the second man -- going
it to the very end where He would crush the serpent's head. Through death,
through His death on the cross, the might of death in the devil's hand, and
eventually the control over this world, were to be wrested from Satan's
hands. All three temptations bring this out, "The tempter would keep Him
back from doing the will of God." But our Lord has gone that way. He was
obedient unto death, even unto the death of the cross. God has exalted Him,
the eternal victor, by whom we are forever separated from sin and death. He
has put all things in subjection under His feet; He has left nothing
unsubject to Him. He has been welcomed in heaven by the Father and taken
His place at His right hand, waiting till the time comes when heaven and
earth shall be shaken, when He, the First-born, is brought into the
habitable world, and with Him in glory the many sons, and when at last the
glorious shout shall ascend, "The kingdoms of this world are become the
kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and
forever."

     With threatening, defying words the Lord might have hurled the tempter
down the mountainside, but it is a majestic "Get thee away, Satan" (He
calls him now by name), "for it is written, Thou shalt do homage to the
Lord thy God, and Him alone shalt thou serve." The devil leaves Him, and
behold, angels came and ministered to Him. What a ministry that must have
been!

     Satan could not conquer Him. He has met Him whom he could not harm,
and the temptations were the tests and show that our Lord is He, the only
One who is able to do the work He came to do. But the tempter has gone on
with the same temptations, and how astonishingly he has succeeded in that
monstrosity which calls itself Christendom ! He has brought about a perfect
blindness. Christendom attempts to rule, to control the world, to be on the
throne; world-conquest, influence and power are its watchwords. Christendom
has bowed the knee before Satan. It would not go the way the Lord went,
doing the will of God, in obedience, patience and suffering, and then the
glory. Hence Christendom has become the enemy of our Lord Jesus Christ.

     The remainder of the fourth chapter describes the entrance of our Lord
upon His public ministry. The ministry which the Holy Spirit describes in
Matthew is the Galilean. The events which show Him and make Him known as
the true Messiah, the Jehovah-Jesus, in fulfillment of Old Testament
prophecy, are vividly described. As Jehovah in the earth, He does miracles,
announces the kingdom of heaven to be at hand, but soon is in want,
despised and rejected by the leaders of the nation and by the nation
itself. The events of His Judean ministry in Jerusalem are passed over in
Matthew. The fourth Gospel describes these events in detail, in which He is
manifested as the only-begotten of the Father. There has been and is still
a great deal of wrestling, so to speak, with these events as they are
recorded in the different Gospels, to arrange them in a perfect
chronological order, or, as it is said, to harmonize the Gospel records.
The infidels of all ages have made the most of it to prove contradictions,
and the rationalistic preachers and professors in the camp of Christendom
have generally founded their accusations of numerous contradictions in the
New Testament upon these apparent discrepancies, which they think exist in
the different statements concerning the public ministry of our Lord. The
Holy Spirit could have written a perfect account of the earthly life of our
Lord Jesus Christ and arrange a biography of Him accounting for every
detail, but He has not done this. To charge the writers of the Gospel with
ignorance of certain facts is charging the Holy Spirit with it. In each
Gospel the Holy Spirit makes prominent the events which are calculated to
impress the specific teachings of the respective Gospels, and He has always
arranged the events in such an order to suit Himself. Every Gospel is
therefore to be studied and read separately from the others. They are in
their contents not the mechanical reporting of the life of Jesus of
Nazareth, but the spiritual unfolding of the blessed person and work of our
Lord and Saviour as King of the Jews, servant in obedience, Son of man and
the Only-Begotten of the Father. In Matthew we have before us the King and
His rejection; therefore in the matter of His public ministry all is
brought together by the Holy Spirit to show Him as King and to bring out as
in no other Gospel that He is rejected of men.

     We divide the account of the beginning of His public ministry, as
given in the fourth chapter, into three parts. The first from the 12th to
the 17th verse. Our Lord was in Jerusalem. The report reaches Him there
that the forerunner, John, was delivered up, cast into prison and his
ministry is ended. This foretold His rejection, and on account of the
imprisonment of John, He departed into Galilee. Here we see Him first in
His own city, in Nazareth. But we have here only the bare mention that He
was in Nazareth and that He left Nazareth to dwell in Capernaum (verse 12).
What happened in Nazareth we have recorded in the Gospel of Luke. In the
fourth chapter of that Gospel we read that our Lord, after the temptations,
returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee. The whole surrounding
country was stirred up on account of Him, and He entered their synagogues,
being glorified of all. In the synagogue of Nazareth the scroll of Isaiah
was handed to Him, from which He read the opening verse of the 61st
chapter, stopping in the middle of a sentence, and began to say to them,
"Today this scripture is fulfilled in your ears." And there in the city
where He was brought up they said, "Is not this the son of Joseph?" (In a
little pamphlet. "The Messiah and His People," we have described the event
in Nazareth in connection with the chapter from Isaiah.) But the starting
point of the Galilean ministry and its career is not Nazareth, but the
place called Capernaum, that is, "village of comfort," and there He did
some of His mighty works. But leaving Nazareth and dwelling in Capernaum
was done by Him in the literal fulfillment of a prophecy, standing in a
very significant part of Isaiah. We find the words here quoted in the ninth
chapter of Isaiah. It is in the midst of prophecies which are all Messianic
that we read in the beginning of the 9th chapter that the great light (the
Messiah) was to be seen in the Galilee of the nations. The most oppressed,
the darkest and the most corrupt province was to receive the light first.
Here we see this word fulfilled. We notice a twofold description of
Galilee, namely, as the land of Zebulon and Nephtali and as the Galilee of
the nations. Read Genesis 49:13, "Zebulon shall dwell at the haven of the
sea, and he shall be for an haven of ships and his border shall be upon
Zidon." Jacob's prophecy outlines the history of the sons of Jacob, that
is, the whole nation, and Zebulon signifies the time of their rejection,
when they become merchantmen. Here in Matthew we see Zebulon dwelling by
the sea. So that we have the fulfillment of two prophecies before us -- the
prophecy in the forty-ninth chapter in Genesis and the one in Isaiah. The
same is true of Nephtali. This means struggler. "Nephtali is a hind let
loose" (Gen. 49:21). In Jacob's prophecy Nephtali stands for the coming
struggling and victorious Jewish remnant. Here, then, in the land of
Zebulon and Nephtali the great light shines first. Grace comes down to the
most miserable, the struggling ones. But here we see likewise something
which has a connection with His second coming. The great light will shine
once more. The glory of the Lord will cover the heavens, the Sun of
Righteousness will rise with healing in His wings, and when this great
event comes, the light will shine indeed upon a remnant of Israel sitting
in darkness and the shadow of death.

     The term Galilee of the nations has another significance. The province
was called by this name, because the most ignorant class of Jews lived
there and they had become mixed up with the Gentiles, who were very
numerous in that borderland. The aristocratic classes of Judea, the learned
in the law, the refined and ecclesiastical leaders, yes, all the different
sects in Jerusalem, despised Galilee. An inhabitant of Galilee was looked
upon as an Am-Hoaretz (an ignorant countryman). What good thing can come
from Nazareth? -- But here, where the people had sunk the lowest, the Lord
appears first. That this is again an indication that the Gentiles, the
outcasts and despised, were to come first, as we saw in the second chapter,
need hardly be mentioned.

     From the lips of the King Himself comes now the proclamation, "Repent,
for the Kingdom of the heavens has drawn nigh" (verse 17). He announces
that the Kingdom has drawn nigh in that He, the King, is standing in their
midst to establish that Kingdom. He never said nor taught of a Kingdom
within them. All spiritualizing on these lines of a Kingdom within, which
our Lord is made to teach here in Matthew, is wrong. It is the Kingdom John
had announced which He now preaches. He prolongs the message of the
forerunner for a short time and soon His lips were closed, too. We preach
not the Gospel of the Kingdom, but the Glad Tidings of Grace. A day is
coming when heralds will announce once more the Kingdom to be at hand, and
when it will come in the person of the Son of Man coming from heaven with
angels of His power in flaming fire (2 Thess. 1).

     The second part of the portion here before us extends from verses
18-22. It describes the call of four disciples, Peter and Andrew and the
two sons of Zebedee, James and John. They were not from the class of wise
men, learned in the written and oral law, but they were fishers. He calls
them away from their nets to be fishers of men. This illustrates what the
Holy Spirit later declared through the Apostle of the Gentiles: "For
consider your calling, brethren, that there are not many wise according to
flesh, not many powerful, not many high-born. But God has chosen the
foolish things of the world, that He may put to shame the strong things, so
that no flesh should boast before God" (1 Cor. 1:26). To be a fisher of
men, to preach the Gospel, does not demand a classical education, nor the
ordination parchments of man. It is the Lord who calls to service. It is
not the first acquaintance these four men had with the Lord. They knew Him
before. Here it is the definite call which comes to them to be fishers of
men. If we want to learn how these men came to the Lord Jesus Christ we
must read the first chapter in the Gospel of John. The events there
transpired before the Lord departed into Galilee. We see in the first of
John that the forerunner was still witnessing; he was not yet in prison.
The "Follow Me" here does not mean, as often erroneously put, the call of
the Gospel. Gospel preaching never asks to follow the Lord, but to "believe
in the Lord Jesus Christ." It is the "Follow Me" for service. And how
simple and refreshing the whole scene is! Their obedience is prompt. There
is no excuse and no delay, for the King's business requires haste. They had
come to Him, to Whom John had pointed as the Lamb of God, who taketh away
the sin of the world, and trusted Him for salvation, eternal life, and now
they put themselves, their time, their all completely into His hands. The
first call in John came to them, as the call from Him as Saviour, and here
it is the call of Him as Lord, and they were to be His servants. "And they,
having left their trawl nets, immediately followed Him" (verse 20). How
many questions might have been asked by them? "What about our nets?" "What
about our support?" "What about food and raiment?" "And here is our old
father. Does not our law say, Honor thy father and thy mother? Is it right
to leave our father to toil alone by the sea?" -- They left it all
immediately and trusted Him for all. And so the true servant of the Lord is
obedient to His call and looks to Him, who has called him to service and
who has promised from the glory through His Spirit to supply all need. How
sad we are made when we look away from this refreshing picture to the
modern evils of Christendom. Surely a salaried Gospel ministry is
unscriptural. And then to think of all the evil, dishonor to the Lord and
reproach upon His Name which is sometimes associated with it.

     In the third section we see our Lord making the whole round of
Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the glad tidings of the
Kingdom and healing every disease and every bodily weakness among the
people. The work done was threefold -- teaching, which was exclusively done
in their synagogues, and that was expounding the scriptures, the law and
the prophets. The meeting in the synagogue in Nazareth referred to above
was repeated in many other synagogues. Preaching the glad tidings of the
Kingdom, which may have been done mostly to the large crowds of people who
flocked around Him in public places, in the streets and at the side of the
mountains. Closely connected with the preaching of the Gospel of the
Kingdom was the healing of every disease not spiritual, but every bodily
disease and weakness. The healing of disease is always connected with the
preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom. The healings were signs that the
King is the Jehovah and that the Kingdom had drawn nigh. These signs of
healing every disease are the powers of the world to come. Later in our
exegesis of the eighth chapter we hope to consider the question of healing
more fully in all its far-reaching importance. Here we point out simply the
fact, that it is not the Gospel of Grace which is preached, but that of the
Kingdom. The Gospel of Grace needs no sign outwardly by healing of disease
to demonstrate that it is God-given. Nowhere in the Epistles have we the
promise that Gospel preaching is to be connected with healing of every
bodily weakness and disease. However, it is very significant that the
question of healing of every disease by supernatural power is made so
prominent in our days. It is but an indication of the nearness of the
coming dispensation, when the earth shall be delivered with its groaning
creation.

     His fame then went forth into the whole of Syria. And now they flock
to Him. What a multitude it must have been! Satan had his mighty power
resting upon that land. He knew that Christ had come to make an end of his
power, hence he troubled his poor slaves with terrible diseases and by his
demons took possession of his victims. There were various pains and
diseases, those possessed by demons, and lunatics, and paralytics; and He
healed them. Once more the prince of this world will attempt to have the
world in his control. An evil day is coming for this world. Even now there
is an increase of crimes and forms of insanity which indicate demoniacal
possession. China and other countries are full of it. In our own land there
are unquestionably those who have familiar spirits, known under the name of
spiritualistic mediums. But He will come again. He comes when Satan with
his demons are in the earth, and in his great but short wrath, torments the
inhabiters of the earth during the tribulation. Christ's coming means an
end of that awful enemy. Then the Sun of Righteousness will bring healing,
and what we see at the end of the fourth of Matthew is but a faint outline
of what will be when the Kingdom will have come in the person of the
returning King. May that day be hastened!

                                   _105

                                 CHAPTER V

     In the closing of the last chapter we saw our Lord Jesus Christ
surrounded by a great multitude of people, which followed Him and who were
attracted by the King's presence, before whom the various diseases had to
flee. If we turn to the eighth chapter we find the continuation of these
scenes we had in the last half of the fourth chapter. Between these two
chapters are three very important ones, which are as such found only in
this Gospel. The contents of the fifth, sixth and seventh chapters are in
the form of a continued discourse of our Lord, commonly called "the sermon
on the mount," an expression which the reader knows is nowhere found in the
Gospels. If we look through Mark, Luke and John we do not find any such
report there of a lengthy discourse; indeed, except a number of fragments
in the Gospel of Luke, we find nothing whatever in them about these
sayings. When we turn to the Gospel of Luke, we find that the portions of
this discourse reported there are in an entirely different setting. We
point to that which is generally called "the Lord's prayer." In Luke we
read (chapter 11) that as He was praying in a certain place, when He
ceased, one of His disciples said unto Him, Lord, teach us to pray, even as
John also taught his disciples. And he said unto them, When ye pray, say,
Our Father, etc. Now in Matthew there is no such incident, but the
disciples hear it in a continual flow of speech. We also call attention to
the fact that the call of Matthew is reported in the ninth chapter, the
call of the twelve disciples in the tenth, here his discourse is placed
before these historical events. The Holy Spirit, to carry through the
wonderful scope of the first Gospel, has put the words of our Lord together
into one continued address to His disciples, in the very midst of the most
positive evidences that the King has come and Jehovah is in the midst of
His people. When the King is manifest He utters His proclamation. Such is
the discourse before us here in Matthew, the proclamation of the Lord Jesus
Christ as King. And if the King proclaims, makes known His proclamation, it
must be concerning the Kingdom which He came to bring, preached and offered
to the people. Let this, then, be the starting-point of our analysis of
this discourse. The so-called sermon on the mount is a proclamation
concerning the Kingdom, the magna charta of the Kingdom of heavens.

     In the next place let us consider three false applications which are
being made of the discourse of our Lord before us.

     1. The application to the unsaved, unbelieving mass of Christendom and
others, as if in the sermon on the mount the way to righteousness is
revealed and human nature's development (as they say) were here shown, for
which every man should strive. This, of course, is the grossest error
possible. The discourse speaks of the characteristics of persons who are
saved, who have redemption. There is nowhere found in it the word
redemption, nor is salvation mentioned and pointed out; in other words, the
way a sinner is saved is not revealed here, but, as the greater part of the
discourse was addressed exclusively to disciples, the Lord is speaking
about such who are saved and not sinners. Yet how little this is
understood.

     In our days more than ever before we notice an astonishing misuse of
the sermon on the mount. The saddest of all is that many preachers of
various evangelical denominations fall back upon it as the most important
document of Christendom; for them it seems to become more and more the
Gospel, and the consequences are that we hear in our times more ethical
preaching, more about becoming better, doing good, improving your better
self, etc., than ever before. It would require much time and a great deal
of space to show up all the errors which are springing from this
application. It is the Gospel of works and of evolution. And as this is
done there is less preaching of the utter corruption of man, his lost
condition and utter helplessness to be righteous (that which the discourse
makes very clear), and the salvation of God in our Lord Jesus Christ, the
absolute necessity of being born again, the reception of eternal life, the
new nature. As the teachings of the Epistle to the Romans have been and are
being abandoned in Christendom, the false application of the discourse here
in Matthew has been taken up. There is therefore a continual increase of
teaching about lifting man out of his lost place into a better sphere by
means of ethical teachings taken from the sermon on the mount. This is done
also under the garb of a social Christianity, union of worshippers (?), the
Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. Not long ago we were told of
a reformed rabbi who read in his synagogue on Saturday portions of the
sermon on the mount and preached on it to his hearers. This was hailed as a
favorable sign of the progress made toward the lifting up of humanity.
Surely, if evangelical preachers (in creed at least) continue to progress
in this awful direction by substituting ethical teachings for salvation by
the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, and declare, as not a few have
done, "the sermon on the mount is a large enough Bible for us," a general
apostasy from the faith will soon be reached. There is a lifting up of the
sinner from his miserable place into sonship and making him the heir of
God, but that is never by the sermon on the mount, by striving to obtain
the heavenly righteousness revealed here.

     2. There are others who give the discourse in Matthew 5-7 an
exclusively Christian application.

     This is the second false application. We cannot put into the discourse
exclusively church teachings and say that all found here is to be applied
to the church, and that it is the guide for the church, as some have said.
If the Lord had had the church in her heavenly calling and character in
mind, the place given to the discourse would be all wrong. The Lord
mentions the church the first time in the sixteenth chapter, and if
following the sixteenth chapter He had spoken these words we might say that
we should find in it the church. He said something to His disciples after
He had declared that He would build His church, which applies to the
church. A good deal in the sermon on the mount appears mostly in connection
with the earth. The meek are to inherit the earth. The church, however, is
heavenly. Not here, but in the Epistles, written after the death,
resurrection and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ and after the Holy
Spirit had come down from heaven, do we find all about the church. The
magna charta of the church is in the Epistles of Paul, to whom the full
revelation of the church was given. Out of this misconception has sprung a
good deal of error. People attempt to make the sermon on the mount the
standard of their lives; they apply it to themselves in the least details
and get into legal bondage. The flesh given so much to legality likes this
only too well. Here the greatest mischief comes in, that believers do not
see clearly what grace has done, and that their heavenly walk does not
spring from a contemplation of a series of descriptions of the character
and actions of regenerated persons, but by the fact that we look upon
ourselves as lifted into the highest heaven once and for all in the person
of our perfect High Priest. A heavenly walk is the outcome of a heavenly
contemplation. But this not being seen, professing Christendom, amongst it
many true believers, stumble around in the sermon on the mount. In this way
it has come about that the "Our Father" (the name next to "Lord's prayer"
given to the prayer, our Lord taught His disciples.) has become the
ritualistic prayer of Christendom, repeated at numerous occasions.

     3. The last false interpretation is that one, which makes the sermon
on the mount exclusively Jewish.

     There are not a few who refuse to consider the three chapters in
Matthew as having any reference to Christian believers at all and as if
there is no application to be made in this direction and the believer could
afford to pass them by entirely and not be concerned about it. This is the
other extreme and equally wrong.

     In our exegesis of the three chapters, (which of necessity we have to
condense considerably) we shall always in every part look upon the sermon
on the mount as the proclamation of the King concerning the Kingdom. That
Kingdom is not the church, nor is the state of the earth in righteousness,
governed and possessed by the meek, brought about by the agency of the
church. It is the millennial earth and the Kingdom to come, in which
Jerusalem will be the city of a great King. We read in the Old Testament
that when the Kingdom comes, for which these Jewish disciples of our Lord
were taught to pray, the law will go forth out of Zion and the Word of the
Lord  from Jerusalem. While we have in the Old Testament the outward
manifestations of the Kingdom of the heavens as it will be set up in the
earth in a future day, we have here the inner manifestation, the principles
of it. Yet this never excludes application to us who are His heavenly
people, members of His body, who will share the heavenly throne in the
heavenly Jerusalem with Him. Israel's calling is earthly; theirs is an
earthly kingdom, ours is altogether heavenly. "In the sermon on the mount
we have, then, the principles of the Kingdom of heaven, with very plain
references to the millennial earth *** Yet let it not be thought that this
takes from us the application to ourselves which Christians seek in it. The
fuller revelation only completes the partial one; the higher blessing but
transcends the lower. Through all dispensations God is the same God, and we
are 'blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ
Jesus.' Of many things we can only argue, indeed a more perfect (or at
least a fuller application) to ourselves than to them. To take from Israel
what is hers is only to diminish her and not enrich ourselves. Nay, what
has been called in this way the spiritualizing of the promises has led most
surely and emphatically to the carnalizing of the church." (F.W. Grant on
Matthew, page 70.)

     The Kingdom has, then, a heavenly and an earthly side. Both are seen
in the discourse, but the earthly is predominant. In itself the discourse
is most perfect. The sevenfold division is well known. We mention them
here, and will take up each for a very brief consideration.

     1. The characteristics of the Heirs of the Kingdom (chapter 5:1-16).

     2. The Law goes forth from Zion. It is confirmed and expounded by the
King (verses 17-48).

     3. The better righteousness (chapter 6:1-18).

     4. Kept in the world. Single-eyed, trusting in God (verses 19-34).

     5. The judgment of righteousness (chapter 7:1-14).

     6. Warning against false prophets (verses 15-20).

     7. Warning against false professors (21-29).

     Most of these sections may again be divided into seven parts. The
number seven is the perfect number, and as He is the divine King, the
perfect King, all that proceeds out of His mouth is perfection. We have
seven expansions of the law, seven parts of the better righteousness, and
seven petitions in the prayer our Lord taught His disciples.

     The first section in the fifth chapter from the first verse to the
sixteenth is before us. Seeing the crowds He went up into the mountain, and
having sat down, His disciples came to Him; having opened His mouth He
taught them. Moses the mediator of the old covenant went up into the
mountain where he received the law; but here is a greater one than Moses,
the Mediator of a better covenant and the King at the same time. He begins
with blessings, the blessings of grace.

     The blessings in themselves are most wonderful in their scope and
inexhaustible in their meaning. We can but call the attention to a few
thoughts in connection with them.

     We notice seven beatitudes which show forth the character of those who
are the heirs of the kingdom. These are:

     Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of the
heavens.

     Blessed they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.

     Blessed the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

     Blessed they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall
be filled.

     Blessed the merciful, for they shall find mercy.

     Blessed the pure in heart for they shall see God.

     Blessed the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.

     These seven blessings must be divided into two parts. The division is
into four and three. Four is the earthly number and three the heavenly. In
the first four we see the characteristics of the heirs of the kingdom in
their position in the earth, waiting for the kingdom of the heavens and the
inheritance of the earth, and in the last three the inner characteristics
as the heirs of the kingdom have them by having become the partakers of the
divine nature. Let us remind ourselves once more that the Lord does not
speak to unsaved persons, but to His disciples. The blessings do not speak
of what a person should be, or strive to be, but what they are. All here is
contrary to the natural man, everything is strange to his disposition. It
is only the Grace of God in Christ Jesus which can produce this. The gift
of God is eternal life in our Lord Jesus Christ. He Himself is the true God
and the eternal life, which has been manifested and which is communicated
to every one who believes and thus hath the Son. Believing in Him we
receive life and are partakers of the divine nature. Here we have the
description of one who is in possession of this new nature and as it
manifests itself. (The first Epistle of John shows the same
characteristics). One has said very pointedly: "At the beginning of His
career, Christ draws the picture of the person who is to be the result of
His work. This is the ideal man whom the Saviour is to make actual by
saving him from sin." (Western on Matthew) How great then the blindness of
those teachers in Christendom who make the sermon on the mount, the
beatitudes, the Gospel, and who attempt to reform the world by it.

     In the first place let us consider that in the seven blessings we have
the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He is the fullest expression of all. He is
the highest illustration of these characteristics. It is a most blessed
study to see how the Word speaks of Him as the one who was poor and needy,
who became poor for our sake. He took that place for us. He could say, "I
am poor and sorrowful" (Ps. 69:29). and, "Bow down thine ear, O Jehovah,
for I am poor and needy" (Ps. 86:1), and again, "For I am poor and needy,
and my heart is wounded within me" (Ps. 109:22). And He who humbled Himself
receives the kingdom. He was while on earth the man of sorrows and
acquainted with griefs. He Himself took our infirmities and bare our
diseases. Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus and over Jerusalem, and in
that night of deepest gloom He offered both supplications and entreaties to
Him who was able to save Him out of death with strong crying and tears
(Heb. 5:7). He was the great mourner and He was comforted; heard because of
His piety and raised from the dead. We know Him as the One who was meek and
lowly in heart. He did not cry, nor lift up, nor cause His voice to be
heard in the street (Isaiah 41:2). And now the earth is surely the Lord's
and the fulness thereof; the world and they that dwell therein (Ps. 24).
Thou madest Him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put
all things under His feet (Ps. 8). As the hungering and thirsting One, He
was here, too, hating iniquity and loving righteousness, His meat and drink
to do the will of Him who sent Him. And surely He sees and shall see the
travail of His soul and shall be satisfied. Mercy and Purity and Peace were
embodied in Him.

     Every one then who is born of God has by grace these characteristics.
Poor in spirit is the very first characteristic. The unsaved sinner knows
nothing of it. It is altogether the work of the Holy Spirit. It means to
take the right place before God, which is in the dust in absolute
helplessness. It is the continued attitude of a saved person in the earth,
poverty in spirit and entire dependence upon the Lord. The mourning which
comes next should not be made to mean grieving on account of personal sin.
It is rather over the results of sin, the present conditions of things in
the earth. Thus our Lord grieved and mourned. The comfort is that coming
redemption from the presence of sin and entrance into that heavenly
inheritance which belongs to us in Christ Jesus. But having taken the true
place before God, and knowing the evil and mourning on account of it, what
is to be our path on the earth? Blessed are the meek! Blessed are they that
hunger and thirst after righteousness! This is the way of the heirs of the
kingdom, waiting for the manifestation of it.

     When we come to the next three blessings, we find the divine origin of
the children of God brought out. It would be very helpful to compare these
last three beatitudes with the first Epistle of John. God is righteous, God
is light and God is love. Everyone who is born of God is righteous, he is
in the light and he loves. The love of God which comes down from heaven is
perfected in Him. Merciful would stand for Righteousness, purity in heart
for Light and peacemaker for Love. These are then called the sons of God
and shall see God.

     But while all this is a true application or rather a faint outline of
that which is so richly told out here, we must not forget that there is
also a direct application to the believing remnant of Israel. This remnant
of Israel will pass through the great tribulation through which the Church
(which of course can never be put into the first part of Matthew) will
never pass. They will then be waiting in the midst of great tribulations,
persecutions and sufferings for the kingdom to come. When the kingdom at
last comes, in the return of the king, the Son of man, they will enter in.
Let us look at the first four beatitudes from this standpoint. This people
will be poor in spirit. The remnant is described in Zephaniah 3:12-13, "I
will leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they
shall trust in the name of Jehovah. The remnant of Israel shall not do
iniquity, nor speak lies, neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in
their mouth, for they shall feed and lie down and none shall make them
afraid." In Isaiah 66:2: "To this man will I look, even to him that is poor
and of a contrite spirit and that trembleth at my Word." This elect remnant
will mourn in the earth in the evil day. Here is a prophetic description of
the mourning of this remnant: "Woe is me! for I am as when they have
gathered the summer fruits, as the grape gleanings of the vintage; there is
no cluster to eat; my soul desireth the first ripe fig. The godly man is
perished out of the earth and there is none upright among men; they all lie
in wait for blood, they hunt every man his brother with a net. Their hands
are upon that which is evil to do it diligently. ... The son dishonoreth
the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter-in-law
against her mother-in-law, a man's enemies are the men of his own house.
(compare with Matthew 24:10 and 10:21-23). But as for me, I will look unto
the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me"
(Micah 7:1-7). They shall then be comforted. Their comfort, however, will
not be in the heavenlies, but they shall be comforted in Jerusalem, for He
shall come and deliver them from all their enemies and restore the kingdom
to Israel. They will be as the meek of the earth and inherit the earth when
the king comes. Inheriting the earth is Israel's promise; ours is to rule
and reign with Him in the heavenlies over the earth. The thirty-seventh
Psalm forms a perfect commentary to this beatitude "Blessed are the meek."
There we find what meekness includes, both in ourselves as believers and
the future believing remnant. "Fret not thyself" -- "Neither be thou
envious" -- "Trust in the Lord" -- "Delight thyself in the Lord" -- "Commit
thy way unto the Lord" -- "Rest in the Lord." The meek waiting for the Lord
are thus described. But it is of the believing remnant we read in that
Psalm. Some day it shall be as it is written there: "Evildoers shall be cut
off. But those that wait upon the Lord they shall inherit the land. For yet
a little while and the wicked shall not be, but the meek shall inherit the
land, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace" (Psalm
37:9-11). They will also be hungering and thirsting for righteousness and
shall be filled in the day of His manifestation.

     The seven beatitudes are followed by two others which describe the
heirs of the kingdom as sufferers and persecuted in the earth. Therefore,
because we are children of God, the world knoweth us not, for it knew Him
not. Do not wonder, brethren, if the world hate you. Our Lord here, too, is
the great exemplar. "For to this have ye been called, for Christ also has
suffered for you, leaving you a model that you should follow His steps: who
did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth; who, when reviled,
reviled not again; when suffering threatened not" (1 Pet. 2:21). The first
blessing is for the persecuted for righteousness' sake, but in the second
we read, "Blessed are ye when they reproach and persecute you, and say
every wicked thing against you, lying, for my sake. Rejoice and exult, for
your reward is great in the heavens, for thus have they persecuted the
prophets who were before you." This second beatitude stands in connection
with the last three blessings. In the first the Lord says "They" and that
"theirs is the kingdom of heaven," but in the second He says, "Ye." In the
first it is the kingdom of heaven, in the second it is the great reward in
heaven. The latter is more than the earthly glory of that coming kingdom.
This finds unquestionably its fulfillment during that time of Jacob's
trouble. There will be the suffering for righteousness' sake during the
tribulation as never before and many will be slain of these faithful Jewish
witnesses for His sake. The latter will receive great reward (read Rev.
20:4). It will be the comfort for His earthly people in the coming day of
trouble. The suffering of the church, outside of the camp bearing His
reproach is revealed in the Epistles.

     From the 13th-16th verses we hear what the heirs of the kingdom are in
the earth. "Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become
insipid, wherewith shall it be salted? It is no longer fit for anything but
to be cast out and to be trodden under foot by men."

     This is in reference to the first beatitudes. Salt preserves from
corruption. Thus is the heir of the kingdom to be in the midst of all that
which is corruption. But what when the salt becomes insipid? It becomes
absolutely worthless and is trodden under foot. It was so with Jerusalem,
it has become worthless; it has been trodden down by the Gentiles and
Christendom will be that, nay is, in the age of Laodicea. Ye are the Light
of the world. This is in reference to the last three beatitudes. This is
followed by the exhortation: "Let your light thus shine before men so that
they may see your upright works, and glorify your Father who is in the
heavens." But what light is it which is to shine? Surely this can mean only
the reflection of Him who is the Light. "He does not say let your good
works shine, but let your light shine; that is, let Christ shine in your
life; not that ye may see your good works, but that men see them; not to
your glory, but to the glory of your Father."

     Because it is the God who spoke that out of darkness light should
shine who has shone in our hearts, for the shining forth of the knowledge
of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6). Salt and
Light, to preserve and to shine -- this is then our responsibility and our
testimony we have. But the salt, the preserving, hindering power will at
last be taken away from the earth, and the light will shine no longer. What
will be left, but unspeakable corruption and the gross darkness which will
cover the earth?

     The second section of the great proclamation of the King contains the
confirmation of the law and its expansion. We can but give a very brief
outline and exposition and will be obliged to guard against digressions,
which might be made at almost every verse.

     We now see our Lord speaking as the one who is greater than Moses
(Hebrews 3:12). Sitting upon the mount, He speaks with greater authority
than Moses or any one before Him, because He has greater authority. He who
speaks concerning the law and the prophets, confirming and expanding, is
the one who gave it to Moses, whose fingers wrote upon the tables of stone,
whose Spirit revealed the visions to the prophets and testified in them and
through them beforehand, concerning the suffering and the glory that should
follow. The question which comes to the Jewish mind after reading the
opening of the discourse, the description of the characteristics of the
heirs of the kingdom is the question concerning the law and the prophets;
that is, the whole Old Testament. Did He then come to set them aside? Did
He come to make the law and the prophets void? He states at once that He
came not to make void the law and the prophets, but to fulfill, and adds,
"For verily I say unto you until the heaven and earth pass away, one iota
or one tittle shall in nowise pass from the law until all come to pass."

     A good deal of wrong teaching has been taken from these words; the
most erroneous is the one which puts a Christian believer still under the
law and teaches from this passage that inasmuch as Christ came not to make
void the law so, every believer is obliged to fulfill the law. This is a
favored argument with Seventh Day people and others. It springs from
forgetting the fact that here we have no teaching concerning the Church or
the individual believer as it was made known subsequently in the Epistles.
The Epistles make very clear the relation to the law which the true
believer sustains, who has eternal life and is in Christ. "So that, my
brethren, we also have been made dead to the law by the body of Christ, to
be another who has been raised up from among the dead in order that we
might bear fruit to God" (Romans 7:4). We are dead to the law, yet the law
in itself is not dead; it is as much alive as ever, and holy, just and
good. However, the new nature which we have Is the perfect law of liberty;
it is something altogether new; yet the old law still exists and has its
power, but never for him who is a new creation in Christ Jesus. "The law
has been our tutor up to Christ, that we might be justified on the
principle of faith, but faith having come we are no longer under a tutor,
for ye are all God's sons by faith in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:24, 25). The
law could make nothing perfect, but Christ came, and perfection is in Him
and through Him. What is the meaning of "to fulfill"? It means to give the
fullness, to make full, to fill out the law and the prophets. The wrong
interpretation comes generally from having only the ten Commandments in
view, but there is more than that and more than the Lord's full obedience
to the law and fulfilling Himself all that which the law and the prophets
had spoken concerning Him. In the true sense of the word the meaning is,
that He came to make good the whole scope of the law and prophets. He is
come to reveal the completeness of that which the law and the prophets had
but pointed out. All that which the law and the prophets teach and predict,
the fullness, is of Him and will be fulfilled in Him who came and who will
come again. The eighteenth verse makes this clear. Even the smallest
letter, the Hebrew "jod," shall come to pass; not even the least letter can
be set aside, but all will be accomplished. Here we have one of the
strongest words for the verbal inspiration and infallibility of the Bible.
Even the "jod" is of Him, and "until the heavens and the earth pass away
one iota or one tittle shall in nowise pass from the law till all come to
pass." All then is divine, infallible and will come to pass. What a solemn
declaration of the great King this is! This is in full harmony with the
entire testimony of the Word. "Forever, O Lord, Thy Word is settled in the
heavens" (Psalm 119:89). "Thou hast magnified Thy Word above all Thy name"
(Psalm 130:2). "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the
testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the statutes of the
Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the
judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired
are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold, sweeter also than honey and
the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is thy servant warned, and in keeping of
them is great reward" (Psalm 19). In the 119th Psalm the perfection and
excellency of the Word is told out in each of the 176 verses, with the
exception of two, and the declaration is made, "Thy Word is true from the
beginning." What an awful sin, what a heinous thing, the rejection of the
inspiration of the Word of God is!

     In the nineteenth and twentieth verses the King speaks of the doing
and teaching of the commandments. Here we are, of course, altogether on
Jewish ground. Then there is to be a surpassing righteousness, or better
righteousness for the one who is to enter into the kingdom of the heavens.
Their righteousness was their own and insufficient for the entering into
the kingdom of the heavens. But does our Lord here teach that a person is
by a better righteousness of his own to enter into the kingdom of the
heavens and that he is by his own efforts to produce this righteousness?
Certainly not. Still the false application, the ethical teachings in
Christendom substituting now so universally the preaching of the glad
tidings of our salvation, teaches that man is to lift himself up into
heaven by his own righteousness. Our Lord speaks not to sinners here, but
to such who are saved, and the saved sinner has a better righteousness than
the scribes and the Pharisees, who were only natural men. In possession of
his righteousness we do rejoice. "But now without the law the righteousness
of God is manifested, borne witness to by the law and the prophets;
righteousness of God by faith of Jesus Christ towards all, and upon all
those who believe, for there is no difference, for all have sinned and come
short of the glory of God; being justified freely by His grace through the
redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth a mercy seat
through faith in His blood for the showing forth of His righteousness; in
respect of the passing by the sins that had taken place before, through the
forbearance of God; for the showing forth of His righteousness in the
present time, so that He should be just and justify him that is of the
faith of Jesus" (Romans 3:21-26). "For what the law could not do, in that
it was weak through the flesh, God, having sent His own Son in the likeness
of flesh of sin, and for sin, has condemned sin in the flesh, in order that
the righteous requirement of the law should be fulfilled in us, who do not
walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit" (Romans 8:3, 4).
And the outflow of the righteousness of God we are in Him, is His
righteousness. But these words stand also in relation to Israel, converted
at last and entering into the kingdom (Ezek. 36:25, etc).

     And now after He had confirmed the law and made known its
immutability, He begins to teach that surpassing righteousness which He
demands. He teaches the law in its fullest and deepest spiritual meaning.
Here we see all the majesty of the King and the lawgiver. Six times He says
"I say unto you." It is divine "I" of Jehovah, who speaks. And as He speaks
here and sends forth the expansions of the law, so will He speak again. Out
of Zion shall go forth the law and the Word of the law from Jerusalem
(Isaiah 2:3). And when that time comes, then surely righteousness and peace
will kiss each other, and Israel, new-born, having the laws in their inmost
parts and written in their hearts and the Spirit upon them, will walk in
His statutes, and nations will be converted.

     Not alone does He show in these expansions of the law, in declaring
the true righteousness, His divine authority, but He uncovers the human
heart and shows its deep corruption and the hopelessness that the natural
man could ever attain to such a righteousness. It condemns every human
being. As mentioned before, thousands of unsaved persons, Jews and Gentiles
have made this first discourse of our Lord in the Gospel of Matthew the
standard for what they call "their religion." It is a sad statement which
is now heard from all sides: "The sermon on the mount is my creed," or "Our
preacher preaches only from the Gospels and the sermon on the mount, and
never touches the Old Testament or the Epistles" (this was told us), etc.
Are these people really honest, and do they know the cutting words of our
Lord, words like a two-edged sword, penetrating to the division of soul and
spirit, a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart? If they read
and are sincere they find themselves all uncovered and naked before Him
whose eyes are like flames of fire, before whom indeed all things are naked
and laid bare. The words show the sinner his ruin and his corruption.
Condemnation comes from every word to the natural man.

     Let us look but briefly to the different teachings our Lord giveth,
both to show the true righteousness He demands and to uncover the
corruption of the heart.

     He takes some of the commandments which He wrote on the second table
of stone and begins with the commandment: "Thou shalt not kill." Murder was
the first awful fruit after the fall, sprung as it was from envy in the
heart. The penalty of murder is the judgment. This, then, is the letter of
the law. It dealt with the outward deed, but the heart itself it did not
touch. Now He speaks. "I say unto you, that every one that is _lightly
angry with his brother shall be subject to the judgment." (The word
"lightly" belongs in here. It was dropped in some manuscripts, but stands
in the oldest. It is not angry alone outwardly, but even the remotest
feeling of displeasure is meant.) It shall be as if he had committed the
deed "thou shalt not kill." Every one that hates his brother is a murderer
(1 John 3:15). "Whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca (a word embodying
hatred and contempt) shall be called before the Sanhedrin; but whosoever
shall say, Fool, shall be subject to the penalty of the hell fire." It will
be so, no doubt, when the kingdom will be come into the earth; swift
judgment will overtake the offender. But the words lay bare the heart and
show the impossibility of man to stand before God, who judges the heart, in
their own righteousness. The believer being the partaker of the divine
nature, is righteous and loves his brother. Only the reception of eternal
life, which is Christ Himself, can produce righteousness and love.
"Whosoever has been begotten of God does not practice sin, because His seed
abides in him and he cannot sin, because he has been begotten of God. In
this are manifest the children of God and the children of the devil.
Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, and he who does not
love his brother" (1 John 3:9-11). The believer walking in the Spirit will
in no way fulfill flesh's lust.

     The 23rd and 24th verses refer primarily to Israel; in principle they
are applicable during this Christian age.

     The words which follow are: "Make friends with thine adverse party
quickly, while thou art in the way with him; lest some time the adverse
party deliver thee to the judge and the judge deliver thee to the officer
and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say to thee, Thou shalt in nowise
come out thence till thou hast paid the last farthing." The words contain
an allegorical exhortation to Israel. It is a short outline of their
history the Lord here introduces. Following the expansion of the law
concerning murder and hatred, that which they were about to do with their
own Brother, it is significant. Israel were the adversaries of Him who had
come, and treated the royal Person in their midst as an adversary. They did
not agree with Him and have been put into the prison (nationally) under
punishment till the last farthing is paid. The lord will perform His whole
work (punitive) upon Mount Zion and on Jerusalem (Isaiah 10:12), and then
it will be "that her warfare is ended" or, as the marginal reading gives it
(Isaiah 40:2), "her punishment is accepted," and "her iniquity is pardoned
and she hath received of the Lord's hand double "(in blessing) for all her
sins." Thus explained these words fit in the whole.

     The next two expansions of the law are concerning purity and divorce.
Not alone the deed itself, which was punishable by a severe penalty, is
sin, but every one who looks upon a woman to lust after her has already
committed adultery with her in his heart. Out of the heart the
transgression comes, and the heart is evil. And this is what so many
persons in Christendom say is their creed and standard for "religion"! It
is the word which condemns them altogether.

     The plucking out of the right eye and the sacrificing of the right
hand is, of course, never to be understood in the literal sense, but stands
for the inner exercise of the believer, who in self-judgment puts that away
which is a snare or a stumbling block. But what sinner can do it or will do
it? Let him try it. And while there is in our day an increased boasting in
a better morality, a higher standard, and a "social Christianity" is
attempted and built upon certain words of our Lord in this discourse, it
becomes more and more evident that the lust of the eye and the lust of the
flesh are honeycombing all classes of the professing church and are
practiced as never before. So it is with divorce. What dreadful things
might be mentioned here! Among the Jews the greatest laxity prevailed in
this direction. Even now through talmudical laws the marriage relations may
be dissolved on a mere pretext. Our Lord says with the voice of authority,
binding ever: "Whosoever shall put away his wife except for cause of
fornication makes her commit adultery, and whosoever marries one that is
put away commits adultery."

     In the fourth place He speaks against swearing, not against oaths such
as are demanded by law, but in a profane way. Heaven, earth and Jerusalem
are mentioned because these were mostly used in profane swearing.
Significant here is the description of Jerusalem as the city of the great
King. This will be during the millennial reign. When the kingdom has come
praise will be heard in the heavens, in the earth and in Jerusalem. Now the
earth is full of swearing and wicked words, but in that coming day the
offences will be gathered out of the kingdom.

     The law of retaliation comes next (verse 38). He teaches not to resist
evil. This is again a great principle for His disciples. The author of the
Numerical Bible says: "There is no supposition of the abrogation of law or
of its penalties. The government of the world is not in question, but the
path of the disciple in it. Where they are bound by the law, they are bound
and have no privileges. They are bound, too, to sustain it in its general
working, as ordained of God as good. Within these limits there is still
abundant room for such practice as is here enjoined. We may still turn the
left cheek to him that smites the right, or let the man that sues us have
the cloak as well as the coat which he has fraudulently gained, for that is
clearly within our rights. If the cause were that of another, we should
have no right of this kind, nor to aid men generally in escape from justice
or slighting it. The Lord could never lay down a general rule that His
people should allow lawlessness or identify themselves with indifference to
the rights of others. He speaks only of what is personal to one's self --
smite thee, compel thee and sue thee."

     The last expansion brings forth love. "Ye have heard that it has been
said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy. But I say unto
you, Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those that
hate you and pray for those who insult you and persecute you," etc. (verses
43-48), ending with "Be ye therefore perfect, as your heavenly Father is
perfect." It is the same exhortation as in Eph. 5:1: "Be imitators of God
as dear children." The standard for the heirs of the kingdom is then His
own moral perfection.

     The day will come when such righteousness and love and perfection as
the King here describes will dwell amidst His earthly people and will be
manifested in the earth. It will be in the day when the kingdom has come
and His will be done in earth as it is in heaven. But every child of God
born anew has put before him the highest standard, which includes all that
which the King here expounds and that is in possession of Himself, who is
the true God and the eternal life, "to walk even as He walked." "Be ye
therefore perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect."

                                   _131

                                CHAPTER VI

     Our Lord said: "For I say unto you, that unless your righteousness
surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in nowise enter into
the kingdom of the heavens" (chap. 5:20). This righteousness He had taught
in His confirmation and expansion of the law, but now He speaks of
something higher still. He makes known the motive of this true
righteousness, which the heir of the kingdom is not alone to possess but
also to practice. The motive is in all to act in the presence of the
Father. The first eighteen verses of the sixth chapter shows this in a
threefold relation. First, in relation to man (verse 1-4), then in relation
to God (verse 5-15) and lastly in relation to self (verse 16-18). The word
Father is found ten times in these first eighteen verses of the sixth
chapter. The Father sees, the Father knows; therefore all is to be done
before Him, the Seeing and Knowing One. Here, then, relationship is
acknowledged and made prominent, such a relationship which was unknown in
the Old Testament. How we are brought into this relationship to God as
Father, and to know Him as our Father, so as to act continually as in His
presence, is not taught in the Gospel of Matthew. The Gospel of John makes
this fully known. There we read all about eternal life, the reception of
this life, being born anew, born into the family of God, etc. "As many
received Him (Christ, the true God and eternal life), to them gave He the
right to be children of God, to these that believe on His name; who have
been born, not of blood nor of flesh's will nor of man's will, but of God"
(John 1:12, 13). This is all anticipated in Matthew, and the Father here is
not that "All-Father," as the modern twentieth-century teachers of a
Fatherhood of God and brotherhood of men teach, but He is the God and
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, according to His great mercy, has
begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ
from among the dead (1 Peter 1:3-5). Only such as are begotten again, born
into the family of God are children and though they are little children,
yet do they know God as their Father. "I write to you, little children,
because ye have known the Father" (1 John 2:13). Only such who are children
and partakers of the divine nature can act as in the presence of the
Father; with all others this is an impossibility; for how can they act and
walk before One and do all out of love for One and to please that One, whom
they do not know? This is another proof how impossible it is for the
unregenerated, who have taken the sermon on the mount as a so-called rule
for conduct, to do that which is taught.

     Our Lord begins with alms. In the first verse the word alms is best
translated (as several old manuscripts read) by "righteousness." "Take heed
not to do your righteousness before men to be seen of them, otherwise ye
have no reward with your Father who is in the heavens."

     Alms are good deeds towards others, charitable actions, bestowing upon
the poor, needy and afflicted. Such deeds of mercy and kindness are
generally designated by Jews as righteousness. In their prayers on New
Year's day they profess that repentance, prayer and Zodoko--righteousness
will influence God and change the evil to come upon them for their sins,
into good. Under righteousness every orthodox Jew understands alms. It must
have been so during the days of our Lord in the midst of His earthly
people. How was it done? We believe that the description our Lord gives
here was a literal performance by the self-righteous religionists. Alms
were given so as to be seen by men, a trumpet was sounded before them and
the sums they gave to the poor were heralded through the streets. And is it
not so now even in the midst of Christendom? How much almsgiving and
charities would there be if it were not for a big display? Such almsgiving,
such deeds of mercy are not pleasing to God. Such a righteousness, and done
by such a motive, are but filthy rags which give no covering and defile.
But so it is among Jews and professing Christians, almsgiving, charities
without end, good works to appear before men as religious, and no knowledge
of the Father. "Verily, I say unto you, they have their reward. But when
thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand does; so
that thine alms may be in secret and thy Father who sees in secret will
render it to thee" (verse 4). The lesson here for every true believer is
that all our good works are to be done as to our Father and as before Him
alone; when we have done all things that are commanded, we are to say, we
are unprofitable servants (Luke 17:10).

     Prayer is the next which follows. Prayer is that which relates to God.
How much might be said on that most precious duty and privilege -- prayer!
But we cannot digress here. "And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as
the hyprocrites; for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in
the corners of the street, so that they should appear to men." What glaring
contradiction to pray in words which are addressed to God, and in motive
they are but uttered so as to "be heard by men! What our Lord describes any
one can witness still, on any Saturday morning on the lower East Side of
New York City. In synagogues and private dwellings many a Jew can be seen
marching up and down, or standing still, or swaying his head and reading
his prayers. He is attired with the philacteries (prayerstraps), a purely
rabbinical invention, and his shoulders are enshrouded by a prayer-mantle.
His whole behavior as he takes a prominent stand in the synagogue or before
an open window, shows but too well that it is done so as to appear before
men. "Hypocrites" is the word with which our Lord designates such men. Yet,
is it any better in Christendom? The modern "church prayer meeting" shows
only too often the same spirit. We have known men and seen them standing in
public places to lead in prayer, and before them a very carefully worded
prayer written beforehand, which was read with much pathos. Some observer
of religious movements spoke of a leading New York preacher a short time
ago as making "beautiful and very flowery public prayers." Alas! without
sitting in judgment upon any one, the flowery prayers, human eloquence in
prayer, are only too often a form of address to God but only uttered to be
seen of men. None is excepted of this danger which comes with public
prayer. It should be with much godly fear and earnest looking to the Lord
when a brother rises to lead in prayer. It is to be done as before God and
not before men.

     Next our Lord tells us that prayer, like alms, is to be done in
secret, as unto the Father and not unto men. "But thou, when thou prayest,
enter into thy chamber, and having shut thy door, pray to the Father who is
in secret, and thy Father who sees in secret will render it to thee." No
one would conclude from these words that our Lord forbids public or united
prayer. It is seen only that He speaks against the mode and manner of
public prayer. A believer praying in public should be as before the Father
in secret. Later our Lord says, anticipating the church, "Again I say to
you, that if two of you shall agree on the earth concerning any matter,
whatsoever it may be that they shall ask, it shall come to them from my
Father in heaven" (chapter 18:19). United prayer of the assembly and that
not in secret alone but in public, yet as before the Father, is a great
privilege and attended by untold blessings. "They gave themselves all with
one accord to continual prayer" (Acts 1:14). "And they persevered in the
teaching and fellowship of the apostles, in breaking of bread and prayers"
(Acts 2:42). "But we will give ourselves up to prayer and ministry of the
Word" (6:4). Unceasing prayer was made by the assembly to God concerning
him (Acts 12:5). Such was the practice in the apostolic age, and the
exhortations given to believers in the New Testament are in harmony with
it. "As regard prayer, persevering" (Rom. 12:12). "Persevere in prayer,
watching in it with thanksgiving, praying at the same time for us also,
that God may open to us a door of the Word to speak the mystery of Christ"
(Col. 4:4). "In everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving,
let your requests be made known to God" (Phil. 4:6). Secret prayer is here
mentioned by our Lord, and surely the true believer is doing this as he
looks to the Father only. What joy, comfort and strength it does afford to
be alone before God. Here it cannot be done as unto men. The hypocrite does
not know nor practice secret prayer, and the professing Christian often
makes an attempt at it in a legal way so as to satisfy his conscience. "The
Father who seeth in secret shall recompense thee." Some manuscripts have
"openly." The day will be when all the secret prayers, that precious
ministry of prayer given to the saints who are holy priests, will be made
known. What revelations there will be and what reward to the saints for
such faithful and persevering ministry in secret!

     "No sooner had Saul of Tarsus passed from death unto life, than the
Lord says of him "Behold he prayeth!" Doubtless he had as a "Pharisee of
the Pharisees" said many long prayers, but not until he "saw that Just One
and heard the voice of His mouth" could it be said of him, Behold he
prayeth (Acts 22:14). Saying prayers and praying are two totally different
things. A self-righteous Pharisee may excel in the former; none but a
converted soul can enjoy the latter. The spirit of prayer is the spirit of
the new man; the language of prayer is the distinct utterance of the new
life. The moment a spiritual babe is born into the new creation it sends up
a cry of helpless dependence toward the source of its birth." -- C.H.M.

     "But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as those who are of the
nations: for they think they shall be heard through their much speaking. Be
not ye therefore like them, for your Father knows of what things ye have
need before ye beg anything of Him." Martin Luther says on this: "Here He
censures the abuse of prayer, when they that are praying make use of many
words and babblings; He calls this a heathenish practice, a loose, idle and
useless talk, of such who think they would otherwise not be heard. The
spirit of the worshiper prays, and because he knows that God will hear him,
he dares not use such endless, idle talk -- the fewer the words, the better
the prayer." (Luther's notes on the Gospels.) The Pharisees had their long
prayers with many vain repetitions. One only needs to take up an orthodox
Jewish "prayer book" to see the numerous vain repetitions, repeating
phrases over and over again. That our Lord had this first of all before Him
seems clear. Yet what else is Christendom but, as one has said, "an
unauthorized revival of a departed shade"? (Adolph Saphir on Hebrews.) It
is an aping after that which no longer exists. The rituals of Christendom
with their liberal use of the Psalms in responsive readings, set forms of
prayer for all occasions, their chant and rapid delivery, are but the
daughters of the old mother -- Phariseeism. Here we mention especially
rituals which are used at the Lord's supper, generally called by that
unscriptural word "sacrament." There are used repeatedly phrases like "Lamb
of God, have mercy on us," "Almighty God, have mercy on us," "O Lord, save
us." These indeed are vain repetitions, and at the Lord's table when they
are used by a believer (who only has a right to the Lord's table) they are
worse than vain. Vain repetitions, however, may also be used by such who
use no formal prayers, ritual and prayer book. This is often done when the
name of God and the Lord is falsely used in public prayer as well as other
oft-repeated phrases. Others have gone into an extreme and have declared
that the Lord teaches here that a petition should be made only once, and
that if we have asked in faith for something once, to ask again is only
proof of our unbelief. The Lord teaches no such thing. Our Lord Himself in
Gethsemane made the same petition three times, and Paul with his thorn in
the flesh had besought the Lord thrice that it might depart from him (2
Cor. 12:7).

     This is followed by a model for prayer which the King now gives. This
prayer is generally called throughout Christendom "the Lord's prayer."
Where is the authority in Scripture to call it by this name? If any prayer
can be called the Lord's prayer it certainly is the one contained in John
17. It is not the Lord's prayer, but the disciples' prayer. This model for
prayer has become the formal prayer, the ritualistic prayer of every sect
in Christendom. That which our Lord forbids, vain repetitions, is practiced
with this divine model by those who call themselves Christians. In the
Roman and Greek Churches, so-called, it becomes a good work to repeat so
many "Our Fathers," and the poor deceived souls expect blessing in this
world and in eternity from the mechanical repetition of so many prayers.
This of course is very little different from the prayer machines of Thibet,
upon which a certain number of prayers written on paper are placed and
unwound before some god or goddess. In "evangelical" denominations it is
not much better. We remember well in childhood, being strictly brought up
in the Lutheran denomination, how constantly this prayer was used. In
sickness, in pain, in danger, at mealtime, in the morning and at night, in
severe storms, etc., it was ever repeated as if a miraculous power indwelt
these words sufficient to dispel sickness, deliver from danger and bring
blessing which otherwise would not come. It is one of the rags which Luther
brought away from the old Roman sepulchre. Yet it is the same in other
denominations. In one of the strongest it is used at the burial of the
dead, sprinkling of infants, Lord's supper, "ordination" of deacons and
elders, "consecration" of bishops, and it is repeated in public by the
congregation. All this practice, the use of this model for prayer, as the
Lord's prayer given to the Church, to be used by the Church, is wrong,
decidedly unchristian, nor can it be proven from the New Testament that it
is intended for the Church. In the Acts of the Apostles we read of the
breaking of bread, the gifts of the Spirit, the assembly of believers, the
baptism of believers, but do we read anywhere in the divinely inspired
record of the beginning of the Church that the so-called Lord's prayer was
used by the apostles or by the primitive church? Is there a hint anywhere
in the New Testament that the prayer is to be repeated in public and used
by believers? Not even the faintest hint that this should be so, but many
strong proofs and arguments that it should not be so. Centuries passed
before it became a settled custom to make the prayer the King gave to His
Jewish disciples the prayer for Christians and to use it in the form and in
the way it is used now. An unknown hand then added something to the last
petition, "Deliver us from the evil one." The words, "for thine is the
kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever -- Amen," are an
interpolation. They do not belong into your Bibles, for the Lord never
uttered them. The revised version (though so imperfect in many of its
revisions) has done well in omitting them altogether. When it was decided
to use this model for prayer as a prayer, this ending was written by some
one and added to it and thus making it a prayer with the "Amen" attached to
it. No such "amen" belongs there.

     This perfect model of prayer was given by our Lord to His disciples to
be used by them individually and previous to the gift of the Holy Spirit.
It was then all on Jewish ground; they were Jewish believers and as such
they received this model prayer and used it in the transition state. There
came a day when our Lord said another word to these very disciples who had
come to Him with the request, "Lord, teach us to pray, even as John also
taught his disciples." It was in the upper room where He spoke all the
precious words concerning the Comforter, all that which was so new,
altogether new, that which would take them upon a new ground. He said,
"Hitherto ye have asked nothing in My name; ask and ye shall receive, that
your joy may be full. ... In that day ye shall ask in My name" (John
16:24-25). This message alone ought to give perfect light and understanding
to any of our readers who are in doubt about this matter. "Hitherto ye have
asked nothing in My name." This shows two things: (1) They asked of God,
and (2) They asked not in His name. They had then used the prayer He had
taught them, and it was a prayer not in His name. Now He tells them that
they were to ask in His name. This, then, is Christian prayer to ask God,
the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and our Father in the name of our Lord
Jesus Christ. When He says "in that day" He means the day which began when
the Holy Spirit came down from heaven, and this day is still present.

     "When the Holy Spirit was given, and the child was able to draw near
to the Father in the name of Christ, you have something different. The
Lord's prayer so-called does not clothe the believer with the name of
Christ. What is meant by asking the Father in that name? Can it be merely
saying "in His name" at the end of a prayer? When Christ died and rose
again, He gave the believer His own standing before God, and then to ask
the Father in the name of Christ is to ask in the consciousness that my
Father loves me as He loves Christ; that my Father has given me the
acceptance of Christ Himself before Him, having completely blotted out all
my evil, so as to be made the righteousness of God in Him. To pray in the
value of this is asking in His name. Is there a soul using the Lord's
prayer as a form that has a real understanding of what it is to ask the
Father in the name of Christ? I believe they have never entered into that
great truth." -- Notes on Matthew by W. Kelly.

     The latter is, alas! too true; "they have never entered into that
great truth." How sad to see the great mass of professing Christians
without a knowledge of what grace has done, without assurance of salvation,
constantly "unchristianizing" themselves, cumbered with much service,
running to and fro. -- A.C.G.

     The Christian believer, knowing his perfect standing in Christ Jesus,
prays in His name, and that is prayer in the Holy Spirit, who now joins His
help to our weakness; for we do not know what we should pray for as is
fitting, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession with groanings which
cannot be uttered (Rom. 8:26). We glance but briefly at a few of the
petitions to show how a Christian believer could not use this model of
prayer as a form. However, we desire to state once more the perfection of
the prayer. Every word here is as divine as He who spoke it. There could be
no imperfection about anything He uttered. Many volumes have been written
on it and many more might be written to show the perfection of every
petition.

     As believers we know that our Lord gave the promise and has fulfilled
it by the gift of the Holy Spirit, "That if any love Me, he will keep My
word and My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our
abode with him." We are brought nigh by His blood, and in the person of an
adorable Lord we are in heaven seated with Him in the heavenlies. The "Our
Father who art in heaven" does not give expression to this nor could it be
before the death, resurrection and ascension of our Lord. "Hallowed be thy
name" is Jewish. Indeed, the Jewish ritual uses the phrase very often. The
believer exalts "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and Him whom
God has exalted and made head over all things."

     "Thy kingdom come." This petition is for the coming of the kingdom,
the kingdom of the heavens, the Messianic Kingdom, which is followed by the
doing of the will of God on earth as it is done in heaven. Here Christendom
is the most confused, expecting a kingdom now; a spiritual kingdom without
a king. What our Lord taught His Jewish disciples to pray for is the
kingdom of the heavens to come, that which John the Baptist preached, and
also the Lord up to the time of His rejection. As Believers we do not wait
for the coming of the King and the establishment of the kingdom in the
earth, but we wait for the coming of the Lord to take us out of the earth.
The prayer of the Church is, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." And the Spirit
and the Bride say, "Come." Without enlarging on the other petitions or
attempting a full exposition of them in their full and perfect meaning we
wish only to say that this prayer will be heard once more in the earth and
will then be used as it was once used by the Jewish disciples when they
were sent forth by our Lord. When the Church is taken from the earth a
believing Jewish remnant will give the witness and preach the Gospel of the
Kingdom once more. They will undoubtedly use this prayer during the great
tribulation through which they will pass, the tribulation in which the evil
one is in the earth and famine and many temptations will abound. Then can
they truthfully ask, "Give us this day our daily bread -- lead us not into
temptations -- deliver us from the evil one," which is the personal
Antichrist. "Thy kingdom come." This prayer will be answered, deliverance
will come for them from heaven in the coming of the King. (We pass over the
petition, "And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." This is a
legal, an Old Testament petition. Our forgiveness does not depend upon our
relation to each other.)

     Then our Lord speaks in connection with prayer of the spirit of
forgiveness which every one who is in relationship with God as Father
should exercise. If such a spirit of love and patience towards those who
have done evil against us is not practiced, it means that we cannot enjoy
full communion with Him. Therefore, "let all bitterness, and heat of
passion, and wrath, and clamor and injurious language be removed from you,
with all malice; and be to one another kind, compassionate, forgiving one
another, so as God also in Christ has forgiven you" (Eph. 4:32). That which
relates to ourself follows next: "And when ye fast be not as the
hypocrites, downcast in countenance, for they disfigure their faces so that
they may appear fasting to men; verily I say to you, they have their
reward. But thou when fasting anoint thy head and wash thy face, so that
thou mayest not appear fasting unto men, but to thy Father, who sees in
secret; and thy Father who sees in secret shall render it to thee." Here
once more we have the wrong motive and the true. It was done by the
hypocrites in just the way spoken of here. It was an attitude of
humiliation of the body, denying self, but only as to be seen of men. What
else has been and is all the fasting and asceticism as it has been fostered
in Christendom? If one does fast, let the fasting be done in secret as unto
the Father and not to appear before men.

     In the second half of the sixth chapter we are taken upon another
ground. The heirs of the kingdom are seen in this section as in the world,
subject to the cares and temptations of the wilderness. We must not lose
sight here of its Jewish application. When our Lord sent forth His
disciples in the tenth chapter to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom He gave
them instructions how they should go about, depending in all things upon
their Father in heaven. The disciples thus sent forth with the preaching of
the Kingdom Gospel are the types of another Jewish remnant which is to
preach once more in a future day the same Gospel, "The Kingdom of the
heavens has drawn nigh." To this remnant going through the tribulation the
exhortations have a special application. However, we pass this by and apply
it to ourselves as believers, for all which our Lord speaks in this section
is for every member of the body of the Lord Jesus Christ, as such, who are
in the earth, pilgrims and strangers, waiting for the coming of the Lord.
We are in the world though not of the world, hated by the world as the
world hated Him, but in this world we are exposed to all the temptations
and the cares and sorrows connected with an earthly life which are ever
coming upon the believer. Our Lord tells us now how to behave in the midst
of these scenes, passing through the wilderness, what our privileges and
comforts are. -- "Lay not up for yourself treasures upon the earth, where
moth and rust spoils, and where thieves dig through and steal; but lay up
for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust spoils, and
where thieves do not dig through and steal; for where thy treasure is,
there will be also thy heart." -- The natural man lives for the earthly
things and strives for the things which are seen. His delight is in
treasures which are here below, and connected with this life is care,
worry, anxiety and at last the loss of that which was cherished and loved.
As believers born again we have a new nature and belong no longer to the
earth, but we belong to heaven. "If therefore ye have been raised with the
Christ, seek the things which are above, where the Christ is sitting at the
right hand of God: have your mind on the things which are above, not on the
things that are on the earth" (Col. 3:1, 2). "We look not at the things
that are seen, but at the things that are not seen; for the things which
are seen are for a time, but those that are not seen are eternal" (2 Cor.
4:18). While, then, this is our calling it is nevertheless true that the
heirs of the kingdom are constantly in danger in this present evil age to
forget that they are but pilgrims and strangers here. Alas! only too many
are like Lot, pitching first the tent towards Sodom and getting there
altogether after a while. In these days especially the danger is
exceedingly great and the heavenly calling, the laying up of treasures in
heaven is often put into a secondary place. The exhortations in the
Epistles are but a continuation by the Holy Spirit of this word of our
Lord. "Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and
many unwise and hurtful lusts, which plunge men into destruction and ruin.
For the love of money is the root of every evil; which some having aspired
after, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many
sorrows" (1 Tim. 6:9-11). "Enjoin on those rich in the present age not to
be high-minded, nor to trust in the uncertainty of riches; but in God who
affords us all things richly for our enjoyment; to do good, to be rich in
good works, to be liberal in distributing, disposed to communicate of their
substance" (1 Tim. 6:17, 18). "Let your conversation be without the love of
money, satisfied with your present circumstances" (Heb. 13:5). How great
the danger of looking back to Egypt! But as we follow the exhortation and
lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven and that in view of the judgment
seat of Christ, where we shall receive the rewards, our heart will surely
be there. Thus having our treasures there and laying them up there they are
not alone secure, but our heart will constantly be drawn there and in this
way kept from the earthly things. And where do our thoughts mostly rest --
on earthly or heavenly things? If our thoughts are here surely our treasure
cannot be in heaven.

     Our Lord continues: "The lamp of the body is the eye; if therefore
thine eye be single, thy whole body will be light; but if thine eye be
wicked, thy whole body will be dark: If therefore the light that is in thee
be darkness, how great the darkness."

     These are most solemn words. The believer has a spiritual nature, a
heart in which he sees, "being enlightened in the eyes of your heart" (Eph.
1:18). The Word of God is the light and the entrance of His Word bringeth
light. The eye, the heart single -- that is looking only above to the
heavenlies, the whole body will be light, there will be not only a
realization of a heavenly calling but also a walk worthy of this high
calling, a heavenly walk. But light rejected becomes darkness, and how
great the darkness! Truth given, light flashed forth from the Word and not
used and acted upon, leads into the grossest darkness. (This is the
deplorable state of thousands of believers.)

     Therefore a double service is impossible. We cannot serve two masters.
It is impossible that the eye could look at the same time to the earth and
to heaven. Friendship with the world is enmity with God (James 4:4). Is it
then a hard path which we have in the wilderness with no comfort? No, for
the very next words of our Lord bring to our hearts that sweet and precious
comfort which only he can enjoy who with the single eye looks to things
above and walks in separation from the world.

     These words (verses 25-34) tell us that we have a Father who careth, a
Father who knows and who loves. He who feedeth the birds of heaven provides
surely more abundantly for those who are much better than they, and all He
asks is trust in Him. "Be not careful" -- oh, how blessedly it sounds --
oh, how full and rich it comes to the believer's heart. And again it is
written "Be careful about nothing; but in everything, by prayer and
supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God"
(Phil. 4:6). Be not careful for your life, what ye shall eat. ... Be
careful for nothing. ... Yet how slow we are to learn it. Anxiety and care,
hurry and worry, these God-dishonoring works of the flesh are ever coming
up again. How true George Mueller used to say:

     "Where anxiety begins faith ends, 
     Where faith begins anxiety ends."

     The lesson can only be learned in constant dependence upon Him in
seeking the things which are above.

     And what does anxiety and care accomplish after all? "But which of you
by being careful can add to his growth one cubit? And why are you careful
about clothing?" etc. (Verses 27-33). We are then utterly helpless in
ourselves. Alas! how often we look in our anxiety, in sickness and in
health to something in ourselves and to men and man's help and not to Him
in whose hands we are so secure and leave it all with Him, committing our
way unto the Lord. And all this is applicable to even the smallest matters
of the daily life. Seeking then first of all the kingdom of God and His
righteousness -- that is, the things which are above -- the promise is
given, all things shall be added unto you.

     And there is another characteristic about anxiety. It looks
unbelievingly ahead. Unbelief draws dark pictures of despair and occupies
the mind with a day which may never come. How different it ought to be and
will be if we but follow His word, "Be not careful then as to the morrow,
for the morrow will be careful for itself: sufficient for the day is its
own evil."

                                   _150
                                CHAPTER VII

     The chapter which follows contains the last words of the great
discourse of our Lord. The contents of this chapter are very instructive
and form a most fitting end of the declaration of the King. The first few
verses contain a warning against judging. We have in the beginning of the
chapter something which is altogether different from the last section of
the sixth chapter. There we saw the heir of the Kingdom in the midst of the
world, how he is to trust in and depend on the Father and seek first the
kingdom of God and his righteousness, his walk undivided and depending.
When our Lord begins with "Judge not, that ye be not judged" He directs the
attention to the conduct of the disciple towards his fellow disciple. The
conduct towards those who are enemies, who despitefully use and persecute
the heirs of the Kingdom was mentioned by our Lord before. It is the
relation they were to show one towards the other He touches upon now. The
principle of this relation is love. In Matthew of course it could not be
mentioned in full. In the Gospel of John our Lord leads His disciples into
the fullness of it, which here is but indicated, and in the First Epistle
of John these precious things are still more unfolded. After He had, as the
Lord and Teacher, washed the disciples' feet, He told them that they ought
to wash one another's feet. This is the opposite from that against which He
warns here, sitting upon judgment against the other and exposing one
another's faults.

     But we ask, what does our Lord mean, when He says: "Judge not, that ye
be not judged; for with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and
with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you"? Does He in these
words forbid the judging of outward actions or the present evil? Some have
taken it in this sense and gone into that looseness against which the Lord
warns later (verse 6). The Lord does not forbid here the judging of actions
and evil. If He did, His words would clash with numerous statements in the
Epistles. For instance, we read in Corinthians: "For what have I to do with
judging those outside also? Yea, do not ye judge them that are within? But
those without God judges. Remove the wicked persons from among yourselves"
(1 Cor. 5:12, 13). It is evident from these words, as well as from the
order our Lord has laid down, to proceed with a brother who has sinned
(Matthew 18:15-18), that the individual believer as well as the assembly
has a right to judge evil actions. Furthermore, in this very chapter our
Lord declares, "By their fruits ye shall know them;" how, then, could we
know them if it were not by ourselves judging the persons on account of
their evil actions? Certainly judging of things which surround us, as well
as persons, when it is our plain duty to do so, is nowhere forbidden.
Contending earnestly for the faith once and for all delivered to the
saints, to which we are exhorted in these days of falling away, carries
with it the necessity of judging that which, in man-made systems as well as
in persons, is offensive to God and dishonoring to our Lord. The words
which demand the separation from that which is evil presupposes judging
likewise. This solemn duty we have as believers, in the midst of a perverse
generation, standing as we do, at the close of this dispensation. It is to
be exercised as in the fear of the Lord and with the single eye to His
glory and the honor of His name. Easily and quickly made is the step from
the judging, which is duty, to that censoriousness, fault-finding and all
that follows, against which our Lord warns and which is sinful.

     But what is the meaning of the words "Judge not"? Our Lord forbids the
judging of motives, the spring from which actions result. I have no right
to judge that which is not manifested to mine eyes. Motives are concealed
and known to God alone. He who in censoriousness continually judges his
brother's motives and in a fault-finding spirit sits in judgment upon him,
assumes the place of the judge, which does not belong to him, but to the
Lord only. Two passages, perhaps, from Romans and Corinthians explain the
judging which our Lord condemns: "One man is assured that he may eat all
things; but the weak eats herbs. Let not him that eats make little of him
that eats not; and let not him that eats not judge him that eats: for God
has received him. Who art thou that judgest the servant of another? to his
own master he stands and falls. ... But thou, why judgest thou thy brother?
or again, thou, why dost thou make little of thy brother? for we shall all
be placed before the judgment seat of God. ... Let us no longer therefore
judge one another; but judge ye this rather, not to put a stumbling-block
or a fall-trap before his brother" (Romans 14:3-13). "So that do not judge
anything before the time, until the Lord shall come, who shall also both
bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and shall make manifest the
counsels of hearts; and then shall each have his praise from God" (1 Cor.
4:5).

     And how true it is what our Lord says: "For with what judgment ye
judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be
measured to you." This is a law, from which the believer cannot escape. A
law like that other one in Galatians, "Be not deceived: God is not mocked;
for whatever a man shall sow, that shall he reap." Many a one has found out
the swift working of this law, "With what measure you mete, it shall be
measured to you." Many will have yet to learn by sad experiences and much
heartache that the execution of this law is never slow. The word was
quickly spoken which censured a brother's motives, which belittled him (to
lift up the self of the accuser), but it will not take very long, and some
one will step up with the same measure and the same judgment and do the
same to us. Nothing is so detrimental to spirituality than a habitual
censoriousness.

     And why, then, do men see the little mote in their brother's eye?
Because they do not see the great beam in their own.

     If the saint But judges himself he will surely not be forever occupied
with seeing the mote in the Brother's eye. He will be patient, loving and
not surmise always evil. "Love does not impute evil ... beareth all things,
believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things" (1 Cor. 13).

     In the sixth verse our Lord warns against the other extreme, which is
looseness, the abuse of His grace: "Give not that which is holy to the
dogs, nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them with their
feet and turn round and rend you." (That incorrect paraphrase called "the
Twentieth Century New Testament" has seen fit to put part of this verse in
a more refined [? !] language. They translate, "Do not give what is sacred
to dogs; nor yet throw your pearls before pigs." How ridiculous!) A person
misunderstanding the "judge not" may allow evil to go unjudged, and
therefore that which is holy and the pearls become defiled and are trampled
under feet by dogs and swine -- unconverted persons, though perhaps outward
professors (see 2 Peter 2:22). To apply the passage to the preaching of the
Gospel to the unsaved and to those sunk the deepest in vice would be
incorrect. It has no reference to the preaching of the Gospel. We should,
however, always guard against any irreverent use of the word of God and the
blessed things made known in it.

     In verses 7-11 we have the familiar words of our Lord telling us to
ask of Him, with the assurance that every one that asketh receiveth. The
connection is obvious. In looking at the injunctions our Lord gives not to
judge and not to abuse, what He has given, one feels the need of wisdom.
Intercourse with God in prayer supplies this need. "If any of you lack
wisdom, let him ask God that giveth to all liberally, and upbraideth not;
and it shall be given him" (James 1:5).

     And what an invitation is here put before us! How simple and definite
the language! How plain it all is with no "if" or "but" added to it. Happy
he who takes all these words in their simple meaning and ever uses the
royal offer in faith. Of course we would not look in Matthew for the
fullest teaching on prayer in His name nor could the words here, "Ask and
it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened
to you," be applied to anyone else but believers. This is clear from the
words: "If ye then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts unto your
children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things
to those that ask Him." In Luke 11 we read the same word, but there it
says, "give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him." The prayer for the gift
of the Holy Spirit, however, is no longer in order, for the Comforter has
come, and no believer has a right now to ask upon this promise for the
Spirit.

     The 12th verse in this chapter is one of the most misapplied in the
whole discourse of our Lord. "All things, therefore, whatsoever ye would
that men should do unto you, thus do ye also to them: for this is the law
and the prophets." This, many professing Christians and others, who make no
profession at all, call the golden rule. How many, Jews and Gentiles, have
told us that this is the religion they believe in. It is even claimed that
in the "sacred" books of the East, the religious products of Buddhism and
Brahmanism, something similar is found. (Jews claim the same for the Talmud
because Hillel taught "What thou wouldst not wish for thyself, do not unto
thy neighbor. This is the whole law." -- Talmud, Sabb. 31.)

     Yet with all this boast in a rule which they do not understand, no one
keeps it nor would think of keeping it. The Lord gives this practical word
to the true disciple. He who is born again is born of God. He has the
nature of God and that is love. "He that loveth another hath fulfilled the
law. ... Love worketh no ill to his neighbor; therefore love is the
fulfilling of the law" (Rom. 13:8 and 10). "For this is the message that ye
heard from the beginning, that we should love one another" (1 John 3:11).
"We love, because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19). We see then that the
terse saying our Lord puts in the chapter is not out of keeping with the
whole. The outcome of intercourse with God spoken of in verses 7-11 will
be, acting in love.

     This is followed by an exhortation such as He who is from above alone
could give and with it the first half of the seventh chapter closes. "Enter
ye in through the narrow gate: for wide is the gate and broad is the way
that leadeth unto destruction, and many there are that enter through it;
because narrow is the gate and straitened is the way that leadeth unto
life, and few there are that find it." It is the well-known Gospel text,
though not always correctly applied. The gate (door) and the way is Christ
Himself. "I am the door of the sheep; by me if any man enter in, he shall
be saved" (John 10). "I am the way ... no man cometh unto the Father but by
me" (John 14). And why then is the gate narrow? Not because certain
conditions and hard terms are to be fulfilled, but because man does not
want to give up his own righteousness and clinging still to his miserable,
filthy rags, he refuses God's way and God's door of salvation, which is
Christ and Christ alone. Ah, the devices of Satan ever multiplying to keep
men away from entering in through the narrow gate! The broad way that leads
to destruction was never so thronged in the history of Christendom with
such masses of professing, self-righteous, moral, educated, but Christ and
the blood rejecting "Christians" as in these days, and still the word is
true of the narrow gate and the straitened way that "few there are that
find it."

     In His closing words our Lord gives a most solemn warning against
false prophets, and makes a contrast between the false professor and the
true possessor. "Beware of false prophets, such as come to you in sheep's
clothing, but within are ravening wolves!" (verse 15). Let us notice first
of all that this warning has a special significance for the closing of the
age, that is, the ending of this dispensation, the seven years of
tribulation and sorrow in the earth. We only need to turn to the Olivet
discourse (Matt. 24) in which our Lord answers the question of His
disciples concerning the consummation of the age. When they asked about
this ending of the age they surely meant nothing else but the Jewish age,
for of a Christian age they knew nothing. In answer our Lord gives,
describing the events which fall into the seventieth week of Daniel, He
says: "And many false prophets shall arise." These false prophets will make
their appearance during the great tribulation, no doubt under the
leadership of the false prophet, the Beast, so prominent in the book of
Revelation. That there have been throughout this dispensation false
prophets in sheep's clothing and that they are more numerous now than they
have ever been before we need hardly mention, yet strictly speaking, the
warning against false prophets concerns the Jewish remnant in the earth
during the time of Jacob's trouble. Nowhere are we as believers warned
against false prophets; we are warned against false spirits and false
teachers, which of course, like the false prophets come in sheep's
clothing. False prophets then, after the church is taken, to lead many
astray; false teachers and false spirits now while the Church is still on
the earth. The false prophets, who will undoubtedly work many miracles and
be leaders of the strong delusions, are the visible manifestation of the
false spirits which are now at work. When Paul said farewell to the Elders
of Ephesus he said: "For I know this, that after my departing shall
grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own
selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples
after them" (Acts 20:29, 30). How soon this prophecy was fulfilled! Let us
remind ourselves of some of the solemn warnings which are for the Church.
"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after
the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world and not after
Christ" (Col. 2:8). "O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust,
avoiding profane and vain babblings and oppositions of science, falsely
so-called, which some professing have erred concerning the faith" (1 Tim.
6:20). The very errors and false teachings so prevalent in these days are
marked out here. "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter
times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits,
and doctrines of demons" (1 Tim. 4:1). And how great the increase of these
seducing spirits in our day! "But there were false prophets also among the
people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall
bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and
bring upon themselves swift destruction" (2 Pet. 2:1). The so-called
"Higher Critics," who sit in wicked judgment upon the infallible Word of
God and dishonor Christ, the living Word, are meant here. And where are
these men not found throughout Christendom? See also the warnings against
false spirits in the first Epistle of John. (1 John 4:1-3; 2 Cor. 2:17; 2
Cor. 11:13-15; Titus 1:10, 11, and other passages).

     But whether they are false prophets coming in the future or the false
spirits and teachers at the present time, they come in sheep's clothing.
Anti-Christ himself will first speak like a lamb and have a flattering
tongue, and all the prophets under his control will follow him, backing
their assertions by signs and lying miracles. The story of Moses and Aaron
sent by Jehovah, and Jannes and Jambres sent by Satan and endued by him
with power, will then be acted out again (Exodus 7:11). In this way many
will be led astray. In our age Satan transforms himself into an angel of
light, and the false spirits and teachers appear like meek sheep of the
Great Shepherd. In the subtle infidelity which denies the inspiration of
the Bible, Satan has surely transformed himself thus. There is much talk
from their side of "Bible research," and that their work will help in
bringing out the truth, and many declarations that they are sincere and
earnest Christian workers in spite of their infidelity in the divinity of
the Scriptures, but all this is but the sheep's dress in which they make
their appearance. We think of other false teachers who deny the eternal
Deity of our Lord, the physical resurrection of Him and the revealed facts
concerning the dead in Christ and those who died unsaved. (We have
reference to the "Millennial Dawn Series." Thousands have been led astray
by these books which appear indeed in sheep's clothing, but within is the
ravening wolf who wishes to harm the flock of Christ.) All these soul
destroying false teachings come in the garb of truth and light.

     Our Lord continues: "By their fruits ye shall know them: do men gather
grapes from thorns or figs from thistles? So every good tree bringeth forth
good fruit, but the corrupt tree bringeth forth bad fruit. A good tree
cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every
tree that bringeth forth not good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire.
By their fruits then shall ye know them" (verses 16-20).

     What does our Lord mean by fruit? Does He mean downright wickedness?
There is no question that immorality and evil deeds are included under the
term fruit. Many a false teacher began in teaching error in such a way that
the error could hardly be distinguished from the truth, but continuing in
error he ended with many of his followers in the flesh. Often behind the
most subtle errors the flesh is nourished and an outbreak in gross
immorality may follow. Yet, if our Lord meant nothing but evil deeds and
wickedness, it would be hard indeed to detect these false ones. Satan is
not so blind as to peddle his lies around by wicked people whose lives bear
the stamp of immorality and open wickedness. He does it in quite another
way. We were often told of people who hold the most abominable doctrines
and deny the Deity of our Lord as well as the atonement, "But look at the
beautiful lives they live! How meek and lovely they are! How much good they
do! Do not their lives prove that their doctrine is right and the fruit
show that the tree is not bad?" This outward moral appearance and a "sweet"
temper belongs only too often to the sheep's clothing and is one of the
devices of Satan with which he tries to lead many away from the truth and
into error -- the fruit by which we shall know them may be wickedness in
the grossest form, but it means more than that. The word "Do men gather
grapes from thorns and figs from thistles?" is the key. Grapes and figs
speak of true fruit. Thorns bear fruit which may resemble grapes, but never
can they be grapes from which comes the wine which makes glad the heart of
God and man. The soul looking deeper (and we remember the warning is for
believers) than outward appearances finds soon that the false teacher or
spirit is not in the truth. He tests it by the Word, and finds the fruit,
the glory of Christ and glorying in Him, lacking. It is a most subtle
substitute for the true fruit -- a counterfeit -- and leaves the soul
empty. A believer, not much taught in the Scriptures, sent us a few weeks
ago a question about a certain publication which was sent to him with the
promise of leading him into a better knowledge of the Bible inasmuch as it
was devoted to Bible study. We wrote him at once exposing the true
character of the paper. He answered, that while he had but little knowledge
yet of the Word, and while much seemed to be in favor of the paper which
had been placed into his hands, yet while reading he experienced a feeling
of emptiness, there was no response from his heart and a lack of joy and
peace. This, perhaps, will be helpful to see how a true believer will know
them by their fruit.

     But in the words of our Lord we have also the most definite teaching
of that doctrine, which may be termed the A B C of the Gospel, the total
depravity of man, the utter ruin of man, and, therefore, the necessity of
the impartation of a new nature. Both, as we well know, are denied by some
of the leading preachers and teachers of all the great evangelical
denominations. To deny these truths is equal to the denial that Christ is
our Saviour. Man is, according to the new theology, his own Saviour. The
tree is corrupt, the fruit is bad. That which is born of the flesh is
flesh. The tree is good and the fruit is good. That which is born of the
Spirit is Spirit.

     In the three verses our Lord mentions His own coming day, when He will
appear as the One into whose hands the Father has given all things. The
whole ending of the discourse brings us into that time. This in itself
makes it that great dispensational discourse concerning the kingdom, as we
have pointed out in our exposition.

     "Not every one who saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the
kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of My Father, who is in
heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied
in Thy name, and in Thy name have cast out demons, and in Thy name have
done many wonderful works? And then I will profess unto them, I never knew
you; depart from Me, ye who work lawlessness!"

     That this has no reference to the Church is evident. The Church meets
the Lord in the air, and every believer has in Christ's day to appear
before the judgment seat of Christ. But at that judgment seat no mere
professors of Christ's name will appear, and no "Depart from Me," will be
heard from the lips of the Lord, the Head of the Body. Nor does this word
here in Matthew refer us to the great white throne. When our Lord says "in
that day," He means the day when the kingdom of the heavens is come by His
return to the earth. Then many will be found but empty professors, who in
spite of their works and using His name were none of His. From this
dispensational aspect, we may well look to our times. The name of Christ is
upon many lips, and there are many who speak in His name, and do works of
power in His name, yet they are not saved and know Him not. Christian
Science, falsely so-called, may be mentioned here as well as others. Not
outward profession brings into the kingdom and makes one an heir of it, but
doing the will of the Father. This is continued in the last paragraph.
"Therefore, whosoever heareth these words of mine and doeth them, is
likened unto a prudent man, who built his house upon the rock, and the rain
and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, and it
fell not, for it was founded upon the rock. And every one that heareth
these words of Mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish
man who built his house upon the sand. And the rain and the floods came,
and the winds blew and beat upon that house, and it fell, and great was the
fall of it" (verses 24-27).

     How sublime and yet simple is this illustration of our Lord! Hearing
first and doing is the way. The rock upon which he who heareth (believeth),
builds, is Christ. Other foundation can no man lay. Being in Him we are
safe and secure in time and in eternity. The storm will come, and is even
now advancing, yet we have a refuge and a shelter in Him, and as He abides,
the Rock, so shall we abide. How true, oh! how true it is:

     On Christ, the solid rock, I stand,
     All other ground is sinking sand.

     All which is not Christ is sinking sand. Reader! where do you stand,
upon Christ and Christ alone, or upon something else -- no matter what --
the sinking sand?

     Such teaching, such unfoldings of the purposes of God were never heard
before. The Pharisees and scribes disputed together, and expressed their
human opinions, but here One spake with authority, so that the multitudes
were astonished.

                                   _165

                               CHAPTER VIII

     With the eighth chapter we enter into a new section of the Gospel.
This section extends to the end of the twelfth chapter. The King had
declared the principles and rule of the kingdom, and now He comes down from
the mountain followed by great multitudes. First of all He is to manifest
Himself as the divine King, the Jehovah of the Old Testament Scriptures,
who is truly come to His own. To them He offers and through His disciples
likewise, the kingdom. But soon it becomes evident that His own receive Him
not. They reject Him and recognize Him not as their King, and accuse Him,
before whom the demons cried in terror, that His miracles were done by
Beelzebub, the prince of demons. He then breaks off the relationship with
His own, which we find at the end of the 12th chapter. These five chapters,
from the eighth to the twelfth, contain therefore the full manifestation of
Jehovah-Jesus among His people and the rejection of the King.

     And how completely He manifested Himself as the King with divine
power! Here we have a number of miracles, one following the other, as we
Hope to show, put in perfect order by the One who is perfect in Knowledge,
the Holy Spirit. Yet with these wonderful manifestations, the leper
cleansed, the demons driven out, the blind made to see, the dead raised,
the people deliberately reject Him, and fall not at His feet to worship
Him. This shows the utter ruin and full character of the flesh, enmity
against God. It is so still and never can be anything else. Even if now (as
it is sometimes said it should be) signs and miracles would be done, the
flesh would not be changed by them, but would still reject Him and turn
away from the Lord. The antichrist, the false king, Satan's masterpiece and
counterfeit, will make his appearance in the closing days with all power
and signs and lying wonders. He will mimic all the signs and miracles done
by our Lord. The flesh will surely accept that false one with his strong
delusions. But let us briefly point out the signs our Lord does in these
chapters:

     1. The cleansing of the leper, 8:1-4. He touches the leper.

     2. The healing of the Centurion's servant, 8:5-13. He heals by His
word. Faith touches Him.

     3. Peter's wife's mother healed of fever, 14, 15. Healing by His
touch.

     4. The healing of All, 16, 17. His presence among the suffering.

     5. He rebukes the winds and the sea, 23, 27. His divine power over
nature.

     6. The two possessed by demons delivered, 28-34. Demons confess Him
Son of God.

     7. A man sick of palsy completely restored, 9:1-8. Full restoration of
soul and body. "The lame man shall leap as an hart" (Is. 35:6).

     8. A woman with an issue of blood healed, 9:20-22. She touches Him.

     9. The daughter of the ruler raised up, 23-26. Resurrection.

     10. Two blind men receive their sight, 27-31. "He openeth the eyes of
the blind" (Is. 35:5).

     11. A dumb man with a demon healed, 32, 33. "The tongue of the dumb
shall sing" (Is. 35:6).

     12. Preaching the Gospel of the kingdom and healing every sickness and
every disease, 9:35 (Is. 61:1).

     13. The man with the withered hand healed (12:10-13).

     14. One possessed by a demon, blind and dumb, restored,
12:22. His last sign of this section (Is. 35:5, 6).

     In these miracles we have before us the manifestation of the King.
Jehovah alone could manifest Himself thus in mercy, healing and restoring.
Satan may have great power to work signs, yet never could such a
manifestation come from him. "If Satan cast out Satan, he is divided
against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?" (12:26). With these
words our Lord silenced the Satanic accusations of the Pharisees. What He
did, furthermore, is seen in the Old Testament in connection with the
kingdom. The signs manifest the King as well as the Kingdom. In Isaiah 35
we have a description of the kingdom as the King is to set it up. He came,
and that He is the King and His Kingdom at hand, is proven by Him in doing
the signs enumerated in the thirty-fifth chapter of Isaiah. The King and
Kingdom is rejected, the Kingdom postponed, and Israel and the nations wait
with a groaning creation for the glorious fulfilment of this chapter in
Isaiah. The fulfilment will come, when the King comes back to the earth,
then "the ransomed of Jehovah shall return and come to Zion with songs and
everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and
sorrow and sighing shall flee away."

     And how full is the manifestation of His divine power! Leprosy, the
awful disease and defilement, altogether gone. Winds and sea calmed. Demons
banished and sent to the place where they belong. Forgiveness of sins
followed by the healing of the body. The blind see, the dumb speak, the
dead rise! Every sickness and every disease healed. These miracles our Lord
did here to show Himself as the King are certainly also typical of the
spiritual cleansing, the opening of the eyes of the blind, the sinner, the
speaking in praise and worship of those who never spoke to God or of God,
the raising of the dead, the power and dominion of Satan broken. The
application on these lines is evident. We see in them also a foreshadowing
of the redemption of the body of the believer in resurrection, as well as
the blessings for Israel and the nations, in the coming age. All these
features, we hope to point out as we look to the different signs,
separately.

     Before taking up the first part of the eighth chapter we must call the
attention of our readers to another fact. If one looks for these miracles
in the Gospels of Mark and Luke, and traces our Lord's movements in them,
he will be astonished to find that they are put in these Gospels in an
entirely different setting. We will not go into details here. In Matthew
all has its peculiar arrangement, and everything is taken out of its
chronological order. This is nowhere so evident, as in the section before
us. The reason is obvious. The Holy Spirit has manifested in it His divine
wisdom. Infidels have ever sneered (and do even more so every day) at a
verbal inspiration of the Scriptures. The utterances of some well-known
"evangelical" teachers, that the New Testament contains numerous
discrepancies, is generally backed up by arguments about the miracles
recorded in Matthew, as happening after the sermon on the mount, when in
another Gospel they are given as having occurred before the discourse of
our Lord. Now that which moves the infidel and the preacher tainted with
higher criticism to ridicule the divinity and infallibility of the written
Word, moves the believer and diligent searcher of the Scriptures to praise,
for the very argument which the denier of a verbal inspiration uses to
build his infidel fabric on, is to the believer the most positive evidence
of the divinity of the Bible and its verbal inspiration. It is not alone so
here but all through the Word. The Holy Spirit as the writer of the first
Gospel has taken certain events in the life of our Lord and grouped them
together in such a way that they not only show us how the King proved
Himself King and how He was rejected, but to show in the grouping of these
miracles the purposes of God, and bring out some very rich yet simple
dispensational teachings. The Gospel of Matthew as the Jewish Gospel is the
proper place for it.

     We look now at the first seventeen verses of the eighth chapter. Here
we have four different signs.

     The first is the cleansing of the leper, followed at once by the
healing of the centurion's servant, after which our Lord enters Peter's
house, and his mother-in-law being sick, He touches her hand and the fever
leaves her. The last is the healing of all. Now in these four miracles,
following one the other as they do here, we have by the Holy Spirit
dispensational teachings concerning the Jews and the Gentiles. The first,
the cleansing of the leper, stands for Jehovah among His people Israel. The
second, where He is absent, and heals not by His touch but by His Word;
this represents the Gentile dispensation which is still running. After this
dispensation is passed He will enter the house again, restoring His
relations with Israel, and healing the sick daughter of Zion, represented
by the healing touch and raising of Peter's mother-in-law. After this is
accomplished the millennial blessings come to all in the earth when the
curse of sin will be removed. We look at each but briefly.

     I. The cleansing of the leper. Israel represented by the leper.
Jehovah-rophe (Exodus 15) among His people. Leprosy is the most loathsome
disease known. There was no remedy for it in the Old Testament, nor is
there a remedy for it in our times, and we may say there will never be any
found. The Spirit of God has made leprosy a type of sin, and inasmuch as
there is no remedy from the human side for sin, so there is none and will
be none from man's side for leprosy. Jehovah alone could heal the awful
disease (Numbers 12:13; 2 Kings 5:1-15, etc.). This man meeting our Lord as
He comes from the mountain was according to Luke (and he was a physician),
"A man full of leprosy" (Luke 5:12). The application of leprosy as to every
sinner is so well known that we pass it over. The leper here does not alone
represent the sinner, but he represents Israel. Long before the Spirit of
God had made known the leprous condition of the people in the following
words: "The whole head is sick, and the whole heart is faint. From the sole
of the foot even unto the head, there is no soundness in it; but wounds and
bruises and putrifying sores. They have not been closed, neither bound up,
neither mollified with ointment" (Is. 1:5, 6). This is a most perfect
description of the leper with his wounds, bruises and sores as he wanders
an outcast toward still greater sufferings. Here then Israel's Messiah,
Jehovah-Jesus, the same who spoke in Exodus, "I am Jehovah, thy Healer,"
meets His poor, unclean people, represented by the leper. The attitude of
the leper as he fell before Him, doing Him homage, should have been
Israel's attitude, his prayer, "Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou art able to
cleanse me," Israel's prayer. Jehovah-Jesus stretches out His hand and
touches him. He speaks as Jehovah in all His omnipotent power and mercy, "I
will -- be cleansed." And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Thus
Jehovah could and would cleanse Israel. He had then manifested Himself as
the "Jehovah, thy Healer," among His people. The Lord sends the cleansed
leper to the priest and asks him to offer the gift which Moses ordained.
This was all proper before the death and resurrection of our Lord. Some
have taken this as an evidence that the law should still be kept, but they
forget that by the death and resurrection of our Lord we are delivered from
the law. However, the issue here is not the continuation of the Mosaic
institutions. The Lord sends the cleansed leper to the priest for a
different purpose. The priest was the proper person to pronounce the
cleansed one clean. How then had he become clean? Had he used any remedy?
No. Had he seen some celebrated physician? No. Jesus had spoken, "I will!"
He, who in prophecy, in the law (Deuteronomy), in Ezekiel and Isaiah, saith
again and again, "I will," had touched him. Who was this Jesus? There could
be only one answer, He is Jehovah manifested in the flesh. The priest
should have broken forth in song and praise: "Blessed be the Lord, the God
of Israel, because He hath visited and wrought redemption for His people!"
He should have run from the sanctuary in search of Him, and having found
Him adore Him as Jehovah. But the event closes abruptly. The priest alone
heard the story, for the man was told not to tell it to others. The priest
is silent; we hear nothing of him. He failed to recognize Jehovah in the
midst of His people, and does not respond by coming forth to meet the
divine King. The priest is the type of unbelieving Israel. The day,
however, will come when the King will come again, and when in mercy, He
will speak again to the remnant of His people, "I will." The Sun of
righteousness will rise with healing beneath His wings.

     II. The Centurion's servant healed by His Word. Grace shown to the
Gentile. Not even in Israel have I found so great faith. Israel having
failed to accept the King, and not recognizing Jehovah in their midst, the
Gentile is introduced. Grace was to come to the Gentile. The Centurion's
servant was a paralytic -- the type of the helpless and hopeless condition
of the Gentiles. The Centurion steps up with a simple, childlike faith. How
different from the ritualistic priest who had no answer to Jehovah-Jesus.
Jesus declared Himself willing to come and heal him. He, the One who knows
the heart of man, well knew that this would bring out the faith of the
Gentile. And the Centurion answered and said, "Lord, I am not fit that Thou
shouldest enter under my roof: but only speak a word and my servant shall
be healed." In this simple faith there is the fullest confession that Jesus
is God and able to heal by His Word, though absent from the sufferer. What
a grand foreshadowing of the dispensation in which we live and of the mercy
shown to the Gentiles! It is the character of the dispensation. Jesus is
absent, yet in childlike faith we know Him, and by His Word He manifests
His power. It is not Healing by touch, But By His Word. Upon the
manifestation of "so great faith," our Lord reveals the coming in of the
Gentiles and the setting aside of Israel, "the sons of the kingdom." "But I
say unto you that many shall come from the rising and setting sun, and
shall lie down at table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of the
heavens; but the sons of the kingdom shall be cast out into the outer
darkness: there shall be the weeping and gnashing of teeth." There is
another feature here we must not forget. In the eighteenth chapter of
Genesis we read how Abraham refreshed the Lord. Here after the failure of
Abraham's seed the Gentile refreshes the heart of the Lord. What joy and
comfort the blessed One had in looking upon this Gentile and "so great
faith," and then look towards the cross and beyond it; the travail of His
soul must have come before Him, the blessed fruit of His death and
resurrection in the coming of them afar off. And are you refreshing and
comforting His heart, Him who is unseen now? And surely it is by simple
faith in Himself and in His power we refresh Him.

     III. Coming to the house. The suffering woman healed of fever, raised
up and serving Him. Typical of Israel's healing and raising up. In the
healing of Peter's mother-in-law, we see a type of what will take place
after the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. The sick woman is typical
of Israel. In some of the Prophets we have the comparison of Israel to a
woman, a widow, one forsaken, but the promises speak of her healing and
that she is to become the minister of the Lord as Peter's mother-in-law
served the Lord. We also see that He heals her by touch. So will He come
again in relationship with His people and heal them.

     IV. The demons cast out. All healed who were sick. The fulfilment of
Isaiah 53:4, Millennial blessings. "And when the evening was come, they
brought to Him many possessed by demons, and He cast out the spirits with a
word and healed all that were ill; so that that should be fulfilled which
was spoken through Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities
and bore our diseases." Later the demons cried out, saying, What have we to
do with Thee, Son of God? Hast Thou come here before the time to torment
us?" (Verse 29.) The day is coming, the set time, when Satan will be cast
out and bound. This will be in connection with our Lord's return and
Israel's restoration. Then all demons will be cast out. Now not all are
healed, but then the sad results of sin will be removed. "And the
inhabitant shall not say, I am sick" (Is. 33:24).

     We come now to the second half of the chapter. It will not be
necessary to call again attention to the arrangement of the incidents
recorded, differing from the Gospel of Luke, where the scene is laid after
the transfiguration. We have learned before that the Holy Spirit does not
report these events chronologically, but puts all together in His own
perfect, divine way. First, we meet with a scribe who desires to follow
Jesus, and then a disciple is seen, who wishes to go first to bury his
father before following Him. After this He and the disciples are on the
stormy sea and He rebukes the winds and the sea. On the other side the two
possessed of demons are delivered. We can touch upon but a little of the
manifold application which can be made of these events.

     "And a scribe came up and said to Him, Teacher, I will follow thee
whithersoever thou mayest go." And Jesus says to him, "The foxes have
holes, and the birds of the heavens roosting places, but the Son of Man has
not where to lay His head" (verse 19, 20).

     This man was a self-seeking scribe, one whose mind was filled with
idle dreams of a Kingdom to be established and, having seen the
manifestation of the divine power, he desires selfishly to follow Jesus. No
doubt his expectations were earthly gain, riches and glory. In this respect
he may well be taken as a type of the nation itself. The Lord then gives
the answer, which showed the scribe how perfectly He understood his heart
and read his thoughts. Nothing is heard of the scribe afterward. It was
sufficient to discourage him completely. The Messiah had nothing to offer
him, and if he would follow Him, it meant that which the flesh can never
do. But all brings out the fact of the coming rejection of the King. None
of the multitude come to fall down before Jesus and worship Him as Jehovah,
only this man comes. Our Lord was on His way to the other side, when the
scribe approaches Him with his carnal request. The answer which Jesus gives
is also significant. It is the first indication coming from His own lips of
His rejection, and for the first time in this Gospel He speaks of Himself
as "Son of Man." This title belongs to Him both in His rejection and in His
exaltation. Of course, here it refers to His rejection. The words, "The
foxes have holes and the birds of the heaven roosting places, but the Son
of Man has not where He may lay His head," are generally taken to refer to
His extreme earthly poverty. This is certainly correct. He who was rich
became poor, that we might by His poverty become rich. He who is the
creator of all things came into the earth and made a little lower than the
angels, which He had created, took the place of dependence in lowliness.
The Book of Psalms, which so fully reveals Him, the Son of Man, in His
rejection as well as in His glory, records His voice as He would speak and
as He did speak in the earth. There we read that He says: I am weak, I am
weary from groaning, I am poor and needy, I am a worm and no man, I am
poured out like water, I am poor and sorrowful, I am like a pelican of the
wilderness, I am a sparrow alone, etc. But this word of our Lord speaks
also of His death, though it is in the 16th chapter, after Peter's
confession, He reveals to His disciples fully the fact of His rejection,
suffering, death, resurrection and coming again as Son of Man. The foxes
have places where they find shelter when the hunters seek their lives, so
have the birds roosting places where they are safe, but for the Son of Man
there was to be no refuge; He came to die the death on the cross.

     Many there are still who speak of "following Jesus." What has not the
flesh attempted in this direction! Some went into poverty to be as poor as
He was and others tried to follow Him in His life and walk as Jesus of
Nazareth, ever speaking of His earthly life as an example and of "character
building" (a phrase so prominent in modern preaching), as if the flesh
could ever be anything but flesh. The true "follow me" and the connection
of him who has believed with the Lord in death and resurrection, is but
little known and understood.

     Then comes one who is a disciple. In Luke we read that the Lord spoke
to him first. He called him as His disciple. Here we read, "But another of
His disciples said to Him, Lord, suffer me first to go away and bury my
father. But Jesus said to him, Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their
own dead." The Lord who calls asks absolute obedience. He is the first and
all earthly connections are to cease. How reluctant to follow the call; how
often the disciple, the believer, who is the Lord's when there is the call
to service from the Lord, says, "Suffer me first." Some earthly thing, a
certain occupation, an earthly relationship intrudes itself between the
calling Lord and His disciple. Oh, for more and greater devotedness to Him,
whose we are and who is our Saviour and Lord. May we be loosed from all
earthly bondage and "let the dead bury their dead."

     "And He went on board ship and His disciples followed Him; and behold,
the water became very agitated on the sea, so that the ship was covered by
the waves; but He slept. And the disciples came and awoke Him, saying,
Lord, save: we perish. And He says to them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of
little faith? Then having arisen, He rebuked the winds and the sea, and
there was a great calm. But the men were astonished saying, What sort of
man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him" (verse 23-28).

     "He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still" (Ps.
107:28). The "He," who created the sea was in that ship upon the stormy sea
and rose in His power and rebuked (what a word!) the winds and the sea. How
suggestive it all is. He had asked devotedness and obedience of His
disciples and now He shows them that He is with them and in the midst of
storm and waves they are secure and are kept and saved by His power. He
slept. What calm and rest was His in the midst of the turbulent element
when the disciples were threatened with disaster and death. And such rest
is the rest of faith. How slow we are to learn it, the simple lesson "Be
anxious for nothing." It is impossible for the flesh. Though the Lord may
have sent deliverance a thousand times, whenever a new trial of faith
comes, whenever a new storm arises and tribulation is before us, the flesh
will always fear and tremble in unbelief. But how blessed the assurance
that in the midst of all the waves and roaring, in all the attacks of Satan
and the world, in all trials and adversities, we are secure, eternally
secure. We can never perish. "All things work together for good to those
who love God, who are called according to purpose;" and therefore "we glory
in tribulations." And the disciples with their unbelieving appeals and
cries, how often we have been like them! Instead of looking to Him, who is
Lord and our Lord, we looked to circumstances and cried for help where
faith should have looked in rest and silence to Him, who doeth all things
well. But where could we stop with the lessons and different applications
of this scene! The world and the age, this present evil age, is represented
by the sea and His own are upon it, so fearful and of little faith. As He
arose then, so will He rise again and will rebuke in His majesty as Son of
Man the winds and the sea. We speak not only of the blessed fact that in
our own lives and experiences He does now often rebuke the winds and the
sea, but of His coming again. Then and only then will be "a great calm."

     Coming to the other side He is met in the country of the Gergesenes by
two possessed by demons, coming out of the tombs, the place of death,
exceedingly dangerous, so that no one was able to pass by that way. They
could not be bound, not even with chains and they cut themselves with
stones (Mark 5:1-7). Not one demon, but many demons had entered into them;
their name in one of them was Legion (Luke 8:30). What awful witnesses,
these naked, bleeding, raving and tearing demoniacs were of the body and
soul destroying power of the enemy. When our Lord appeared in the land the
evil one had by the demons taken possession of large numbers of people and
was driving them on to perdition. It will even be worse before His return.
Satan and his angels will be cast out into the earth and his angels with
him. This will be during the great tribulation. And even now those
possessed by demons are continually increasing. The ever changing, as well
as new forms, of insanity, many of them at least, if not all, must be
connected with the influence of these evil spirits. The so-called "mediums"
of Spiritism and adepts in occult "sciences" are undoubtedly
demon-possessed. Surely our days, the days long ago predicted, are the
latter times in which some apostatize from the faith, giving their mind (it
is the mind where these evil workings begin) to deceiving spirits and
teachings of demons (1 Tim. 4:1). And opening the soul to the deceiving
spirits and teachings of demons means their dreadful entering in and taking
full possession. We cannot follow here this dark theme, much as it is
needed in our days. And, He, the Son of God has come to destroy the works
of the Devil, and through death annul him, who has the might of death, that
is, the Devil. And here the demons confess Him, that He is Son of God. "And
behold they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Son of God?
Hast thou come here before the time to torment us?" It is the first
confession of Him as Son of God we have in the Gospel. They give Him His
right title. The demons believe and tremble (James 2:19). They see and know
Him as their future Judge, but they argue that the right moment for the
punishment is not yet. The knowledge of the demons according to this is
threefold: They know Him as Son of God, as their Judge and that the
judgment will take place at a certain time. But Satan with his lies drives
his countless victims on in unbelief to deny every one of these facts that
Christ is Son of God and the Judge, and the most striking thing is that the
father of lies succeeds to put himself down as a myth.

     He shows Himself next as the one who has power over these demons and
that they may well fear Him. They cried out and then asked, "If thou cast
us out send us away into the herd of swine." He said: "Go!" What power over
these legions is His! Can they ever touch Him or harm Him? No, never! And
Son of God, declared by resurrection from the dead as all power in heaven
and in earth and the day will be when all things shall be subjected under
His feet. Then "at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of heavenly and
earthly and infernal beings." And we are linked with Him, His victory is
ours, we too can triumph over these evil beings. Thanks be to God who gives
us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. "For the rest brethren, be
strong in the Lord, in the might of His strength. Put on the panoply of
God, that ye may be able to stand against the artifices of the Devil;
because our struggle is not against blood and flesh, but against
principalities, against authorities, against the universal lords of this
darkness, against spiritual power of wickedness in the heavenlies" (Eph.
6:10-13).

     "And they, going out, departed into the herd of swine; and lo, the
whole herd of swine rushed down the steep slope into the sea, and died in
the waters." This has puzzled not a few readers of the Word. We may explain
it from the dispensational side. The deliverance of the two possessed
typifies the deliverance of the Jewish remnant, the apostate part of the
Jewish nations is foreshadowed in the swine and they will rush on into the
waters, representing judgment.

     The account in Mark and Luke goes into details, showing each one of
the delivered victims in their right mind. In the end of the chapter we
hear that the whole city went out to meet Jesus, and when they met Him,
they begged Him to go away out of their coasts. They feared perhaps the
loss of other possessions, and rather have the earthly things and the
swine, than the Lord. What Satanic blindness! He, the evil one, is seen
here in the manifestation of His power in another form. Strange that they
should be afraid of Him who is the deliverer! But Satan had completely
blinded them. And as we look back over what we were, we can praise our God
for such deliverance from such an enemy, for we were dead in offences and
sins in which we once walked according to the age of this world, according
to the ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit who works now in the
sons of obedience (Eph. 2).
                                   _184

                                CHAPTER IX

     After our Lord was requested by the Gergesenes to go away out of their
coasts, He passed over the lake and came to His own city, that is,
Capernaum. Here the Lord did His greatest miracles, yet they rejected Him
there, so that later He said: "And thou, Capernaum, who has been raised up
to heaven, shall be brought down even to Hades. For if the works of power
which have taken place in thee had taken place in Sodom, it had remained
until this day. But I say to you, that it shall be more tolerable for the
land of Sodom in judgment day than for thee" (Matt. 11:23-24).

     One of the mighty miracles He did in Capernaum is related by the Holy
Spirit in the beginning of the chapter which we have reached. He is
manifested in this miracle like in the others, as Jehovah. A paralytic is
brought to Him by loving hands, and when He saw their faith He said to the
helpless one, "Be of good courage, child; thy sins are forgiven." And now
for the first time in the Gospel do we read that the scribes said, "This
man blasphemes." They did not speak it out, but He saw their thoughts, for
He is the One of whom David says: "Thou knowest my downsitting and mine
uprising; thou understandeth my thoughts from afar off" (Ps. 139:2).

     He then asks them: "Which is easier: to say, Thy sins are forgiven; or
to say, Rise up and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of God has
power on earth to forgive sins (then He says to the paralytic), Rise up,
take thy bed and go to thy house. And he rose up and went to his house"
(verses 2-8).

     Divine power is here fully manifested. In Luke the Scribes and
Pharisees say, "Who is able to forgive sins but God alone?" (Luke 5:21).
Indeed, if He who spoke the word of comfort and gave the paralytic the
assurance of forgiveness is not Jehovah, anything less than He, the
accusations of the scribes would have been well founded. He then shows that
He has the power to forgive sins by healing the body of the paralytic, who
rises up and carries away the bed upon which he was brought. The paralytic
is a type of the sinner in his helpless condition. In the Old Testament we
have a beautiful type of this in Mephibosheth, who was lame on both of his
feet and who had to be brought to King David. So this one is brought. But
why did they bring him? No question, healing of the body was all which they
desired for their helpless friend and what he himself expected. But our
Lord goes deeper to that which is the fountain of all disease and pain --
sin. He knew the guilt of sins resting upon the paralytic, and before he
could rise and walk, before he could be delivered out of his helpless
condition, the sins had first to be forgiven. The conscience, burdened more
than the crippled, paralyzed body was by disease, had first to be relieved.
The lessons here are clear. It foreshadows that which He, who gave Himself
for us and who was raised on account of our justification, gives to every
one who believes in Him. He has removed completely the guilt of sin and we
have the assurance of the forgiveness of sins: the blessedness of the man
"whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered" is ours through and
in Christ. He also has given us a new life. He has delivered us from the
power of sin and spoken the word "Rise up and walk." All this is so
familiar that we will not enlarge upon it. We should not forget that the
spiritual application of "Rise up" is not the first meaning. The paralytic
received healing for his body and the miserable body was delivered from the
paralysis which held it down. So the body of the believer has been redeemed
and there will be a "rising up" from the grave and from the earth, changed
in the twinkling of an eye.

     We have also to say that the teaching of remission of sins and what is
connected with it is not to be taken from the ninth chapter in Matthew. To
teach from this chapter the doctrine of forgiveness, as it has been done so
much, would be an error. He shows His authority as Son of Man to forgive
sins on earth, and because He has this power and proves it, He manifests
Himself by it as God. He is now no longer Son of Man on earth, but He will
come again as Son of Man, and then once more will show His authority to
forgive sins on earth and speak the Word of Life to those who are helpless.
To this the miracle refers us in type.

     The paralytic is the type of Israel. We have a number of such types in
the Word. In the fifth chapter of the Gospel of John we read of an infirm
man who was lying helpless in the five porches (typifying the law) and
Jesus came and healed him, telling him, "rise, take up thy couch and walk."
He is the type of Israel. In the third chapter of Acts another helpless
one, lame from his mother's womb, was lying at the beautiful gate of the
Temple. He is raised up and leaps and praises God. The name of Jesus Christ
the Nazarene had raised him up. He also is a type of Israel. Aeneas in Acts
9:32-35, who had been lying for eight years upon a couch, paralyzed, and to
whom Peter said, "Jesus the Christ heals thee," is not different in the
typical application from the others.

     It is Israel we have to see here represented in type. What He, the Son
of Man, when He comes in glory, will do for His earthly people is seen in
the healing of the paralytic. First, He will come and turn away ungodliness
from Jacob. He will forgive their sins and remember them no more. And His
people, the remnant of Israel, will break forth and sing, "Who is a God
like unto Thee, that pardoneth iniquity and passeth by the transgression of
the remnant of His heritage? He retaineth not His anger forever, because He
delighteth in mercy" (Micah 7:18). He will then say to His people, "I, even
I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will
not remember thy sins" (Is. 43:25).

     After this He will heal them. His own, poor, blinded, paralyzed and
miserable people Israel will be the first of the nations of the earth to
receive complete healing for soul and body. They will leap and shout for
joy like the lame man in the third chapter of Acts. Therefore it says in
Malachi 4, where it speaks of the Son of Righteousness with healing beneath
His wings, "Ye shall go forth and leap for joy (correct translation) as
calves of the stall." "And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: the
people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity" (Is. 33:24).
The 103rd Psalm illustrates most beautifully Israel's coming praise. It is
not only "who forgiveth all thine iniquities," but also "who healeth all
thy diseases." The diseases in this psalm are generally spiritualized, but
that is incorrect. They are bodily diseases. The healing of the paralytic
has been put by the Holy Spirit in a special place to be in harmony with
the whole scope of the Gospel of Matthew. What the Son of Man did in
humiliation to one paralytic, the Son of Man in exaltation, coming again,
will do to the whole nation and others in the earth in that coming age of
millennial glory.

     The healed one went to his house. "But the crowds seeing it were in
fear, and glorified God, who gave such power to men" (verse 8). This was
all they saw and did. They did not acknowledge Him as Jehovah, but simply
in their formal way glorified God, which was but the service of the lips.

     Besides the record of the healing of the paralytic we have nine other
events put together once more in a peculiar order, far from being
chronological, but in fullest harmony with the scope of this first book.
These are: The call of Matthew, Jesus entering the house and sitting down
with the publicans and sinners, the question of John's disciples, the ruler
whose daughter had died and the Lord going to raise her up, the woman with
an issue of blood who touches Him and is healed, the raising from the dead
of the ruler's daughter, the healing of the two blind men, the healing of
the dumb man as well as others and the Lord's compassion for the
multitudes.

     The call of Matthew, the same who was chosen by the Holy Spirit as the
instrument for the writing of this Gospel, is related in a few words only:
"And Jesus passing on thence saw a man sitting at the tax office called
Matthew, and says to him, Follow Me. And he rose up and followed Him"
(verse 9). Had Matthew written this book by himself and not by inspiration
he would have followed the custom of other writers in making himself more
prominent. He might have begun the book with an elaborate account of
himself, his earthly circumstances and spoken, perhaps, at length of the
scene which is but rapidly sketched in one verse. The Holy Spirit, however,
guided his pen, and in the right place in the right words he records the
story of his own call. The place given to it is significant. After the Lord
had shown Himself in His power to be Jehovah He now manifests Himself in
His grace to the lost and outcast sinner. What a scene it is which the one
little verse puts before us! There he sits gathering in the tax, no thought
of Him, no knowledge of Him. As a tax-gatherer he was, with his colleagues,
despised by the leaders of the Jews, the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the
Scribes, as well as by the mass of the people. Tax-gatherers (Publicans)
were known as thieves, who enriched themselves by extortions. Another one
said later, after the Lord had entered into his house: "If I have taken
anything from any man by false accusation, I return him fourfold." However,
this was not the cause why the people hated him. They looked upon them as
miserable hirelings of the Roman government, who had put themselves under
the control of the Gentile rule and helped in the subduing of the land and
the people, their own land and their own brethren. The taxgatherers were,
therefore, considered apostates. And such a one is called not alone to
follow Jesus, but called and chosen as an instrument to write the kingly
Gospel. Marvelous Grace! "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you"
(John 15:16). This is perfectly illustrated in Matthew's case as well as in
everyone who is saved by Grace. Well may we adoringly cry out: "Oh, the
Grace that sought me!" With no thought of Him or for Him, busied in earthly
things for the meat that perisheth, Matthew was called to follow Him.
Matthew follows. He leaves the table, there is no bargaining on his side,
no request to think it over, no desire to go first to do something else,
but the first thing done was obedience to the voice which had spoken. Yet
there is no claim of merit from his side in doing this. May we who are His
own ever be ready in obedience to His call.

     And Matthew invites Him to his house and makes Him a feast. It does
not say in this Gospel that it was Matthew's house; in another Gospel the
Holy Spirit has made a record of it (Mark 2:14-17). Here a company of
tax-gatherers and sinners are come together, and He, the Holy One, the One
who had come to seek and to save that which is lost, reclines with them at
table and eats with them. Again we say, what a scene of grace! He who
created the heavens and the earth in the creature's place in living touch
with those who rebelled against Him! And there they stand, the poor,
miserable, self-righteous Pharisees. They would in their religiousness,
with their broad phylacteries, keeping the outside clean, not even touch a
tax-gatherer, much less speak to him. To sit down and eat with them would
have been in their eyes an almost unpardonable crime. And here they find
Him whose words of divine authority they had heard, whose deeds of
omnipotent power they had seen, who had manifested Himself as Jehovah, and
He eats with tax-gatherers and sinners. Not the poor, wicked,
self-confessed thieves, the tax-gatherers and harlots appear in this scene
and throughout the Gospel as Satan's masterpiece, but the proud, religious,
self-righteous Pharisee. John the Baptist with his divine message came, and
the Pharisees were rightly called by him the generation of vipers, but
never the tax-gatherers and the harlots, who gladly came and confessed
their sins and owned their lost condition. "John came to you in the way of
righteousness, and ye believed him not; but the tax-gatherers and harlots
believed him; but ye, when ye saw it, repented not yourselves afterwards to
believe him" (Matt. 21:32). So here we see them, without any faith in Jesus
and no knowledge of the God of mercy, wrapped up in the filthy rags, their
own righteousness. What else then could they do but speak against the
Lord's gracious way? "Why eateth your Master with tax-gatherers and
sinners?" And the self-righteous Pharisees of ritualistic Christendom are
not different from these, their forefathers, the Pharisees. No heart for
Christ, no understanding of grace and no knowledge of God. In the answer
our Lord gives He shows that what He does is in fullest harmony with His
having come down into the earth. God would have mercy and He had come to
show it. "They that are strong have not need of a physician, but those that
are ill. But go and learn what that is -- I will have mercy and not
sacrifice; for I have not come to call righteous men, but sinners."

     Then the disciples of John came to Him with a question. "Why do we and
the Pharisees often fast, but Thy disciples fast not?" John's disciples
were having a difficulty. Their master had made much of fasting and had
enjoined it upon themselves, but the disciples of Jesus were not fasting.
Were they not with Him in the tax-gatherer's house, eating and drinking? It
is a straightforward question they bring. They come not as faultfinders or
murmurers, like the Pharisees, but as intelligent inquirers, who were
seeking light. So the Lord meets them and solves their difficulty by a
gracious answer. He is still the same, ever ready to teach and instruct the
saint who sits at His feet. The only difficulty is we are often so unlike
these disciples of John, though our knowledge and our position is higher
than theirs. Instead of taking the straight course in coming to Him first
of all, we seek first the solution of our difficulties somewhere else.
Perhaps the disciples of John who came here are the same who came and told
Jesus, after they buried the headless body of their master.

     "Can the sons of the bridechamber mourn so long as the bridegroom is
with them? But days will come when the bridegroom will have been taken away
from them, and then they will fast." He Himself is the bridegroom and He
had come and while He was with them, mourning could have no place; His
rejection was to come and then they would fast. But our Lord not merely
answers the question and shows Himself greater than John, who was but the
friend of the bridegroom (John 3:29), while Jesus is the bridegroom. He
adds something which is of great importance. He speaks of a complete change
of the order of things. "But no one puts a patch of new cloth on an old
garment, or its filling up takes from the garment and a worse rent takes
place. Nor do men put new wine into old skins, otherwise the skins burst
and the wine is poured out, and the skins will be destroyed; but they put
new wine into new skins and both are preserved together." The old garment
is Judaism with its legal righteousness. It is no good and had proven
itself as such. No value in it at all, only to be cast aside, utterly put
aside. A new garment, a better righteousness was about to be given. He
whose name is "Jehovah our righteousness" had come and a change of
dispensations was to take place. And now as it has come the old is gone, it
is no longer in existence. Yet that which the Lord here but faintly
indicates, the impossibility of patching up that which is hopeless and
worthless, has been done in Christendom, nay, is the almost universal state
of Christendom. It is mixing law and grace together. The rent has become
worse. A Judaistic Christianity which, with a profession of Grace and the
Gospel, attempts to keep the law and fosters legal righteousness, is a
greater abomination in the eyes of God, than professing Israel in the past,
worshipping idols.

     The new wine is the Gospel of Grace. The old skins* are the law, the
Levitical institutions and all connected with it, New wine belongs into new
skins. (Bottles in the authorized version. Skins were used and are being
used in the Orient for the preservation of wine. Hence skins is the correct
translation.) If the new wine is put into old skins, the skins will burst
and then there is no wine left and the skins are also made useless. The two
belong no longer together. So Gospel and Judaism, Law and Grace do not
belong together. The Gospel of Grace enclosed in ceremonial Judaism will
result in the loss of the new wine, and ceremonial Judaism, the old skins,
will be gone as well. And such is ritualistic Christendom; it is neither
Christian nor Jewish. It has not Judaism and has lost the new wine. "They
say, they are Jews and are not" (Rev. 3:9). If men hold only the form of
godliness and deny the power thereof, it will always mean outward
religiousness, legality, self-righteousness and turning away from Grace and
the Lord Himself.

     The ruler whose daughter had died appears next on the scene. He is
unlike the Centurion in the eighth chapter who had the greater faith and
wanted the Lord to speak but a word. The ruler of the Jews wants the Lord
to come in person to his house and touch the one, without life. His
personal presence is demanded to raise the daughter from death to life.
That we have here once more dispensational truths before us is seen at the
first glance. Israel is often spoken of in the Old Testament Scriptures as
a daughter, the daughter of Zion. In the short book of Lamentations alone
we find the word, daughter, as meaning Israel, eighteen times. The daughter
who has died is then likewise a type of the people. To bring life to Israel
can be only through the presence of Him, who is the life. When He came the
first time, they would not come to Him that they might have life. But He is
coming again to raise up His people, to touch the daughter of Zion.

     And while our Lord goes forward to fulfill the request of the ruler,
another incident comes in by the way. An unclean woman touches Him and is
healed. "And behold a woman who had an issue of blood for twelve years came
behind and touched the hem of His garment; for she said within herself, if
I should only touch His garment I shall be healed. But Jesus, turning and
seeing her, said, 'Be of good courage, daughter, thy faith hath healed
thee.' And the woman was healed from that hour" (verses 20-23). She
represents the Gentiles and the grace which comes to them by faith, while
the resurrection of Israel is still unaccomplished, but drawing' nigh.
Faith touches Him now and receives of Him salvation with its precious
assistance. But the touching of Him is parenthetical, just as the present
age with salvation come to the Gentiles is a parenthesis. Jesus comes to
the house of the ruler. It has the meaning of relationship. So will He come
to raise up the daughter of Israel. "And when Jesus was come to the house
of the ruler, and saw the flute players and the crowd making a tumult, He
said, Withdraw, for the damsel is not dead, but sleeps. And they derided
Him. But when the crowd had been put out, He went in and took her hand; and
the damsel rose up. And the fame of it went out into all that land." May
not the crowd of unbelievers and mockers represent nominal Christendom?
Surely the same is in Christendom which we see here. The Lord has declared
in His Word, eternally settled in the heavens, His loving purposes
concerning Israel. It can well be said of His earthly people, as He said of
the ruler's daughter, "The damsel is not dead, but sleeps." The Scriptures
are full of promises to Israel and the day of their resurrection and
restoration, yet Christendom treats all this with unbelief and ridicule.
There is no understanding of God's purposes, the plan of the ages, and
hence no heart and no love for the people, who are still beloved for the
Father's sake and whose are the promises. Our Lord said to that crowd,
"Withdraw," and they were put out of the scene, when He came and touched
the damsel to raise her up. And may we not see in this also the end of the
motley throng in Christendom, which will be put off the scene when He comes
to do the miracle of His mercy and His power on Israel?

     And when He does this to His people then surely the blind will see and
the dumb speak.

     In the healing of the two blind men, which comes immediately after the
raising of the maid, we see again a dispensational foreshadowing of
Israel's present condition and future healing. It is true the miracle of
the two blind men who cry to Him is often spiritualized, and we do not at
all deny that he has an application in that direction. First of all,
however, we must not overlook the original meaning it has in this Jewish
Gospel, and as we do this we shall yet more and more grasp the divine scope
of the Gospel of Matthew. "Two blind men followed Him crying and saying,
Have mercy on us, Son of David." The two blind men picture Israel's
condition as the leper did in the beginning of the eighth chapter. They
were blind, when He came and dwelt among them. His own knew Him not and
received Him not. But how much greater has their blindness become since
they not only have cast Him out, but rejected the offer of His mercy after
His resurrection and ascension? Now it is, Let their eyes be darkened.
Blindness in part has happened to Israel. When the Apostle to the Gentiles,
Paul, had come to Rome, and in his burning love for his brethren, his
kinsmen, had sent for them and in disagreement they began to leave, he
addressed to them the Word, so true throughout this age: "Well spake the
Holy Spirit through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers, saying, Go to this
people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear and not understand, and seeing ye
shall see and not perceive. For the heart of this people has become fat,
and they hear heavily with their ears, and they have closed their eyes;
lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and
understand with their heart, and be converted and I should heal them" (Acts
28:25-28). But this is not Israel's final condition. Like these two blind
men, so Israel will cry out of the deepest darkness, out of the terrible
night of Jacob's trouble, "Have mercy on us, Son of David." Son of David is
His title as He stands in relation to His earthly people, and in this
passage we have Him called by this name for the first time in the Gospel.
The cry these two men utter is specifically Jewish, and surely no Gentile
will cry to Him as Son of David. Later in the Gospel a Gentile woman cried
after Him, "Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is miserably
possessed by a demon. But He did not answer her a word" (Matt 15:23). When
she called again, she said, "Lord, help me," and after she had taken her
place with the dogs the Lord acknowledged her faith. And when thus Israel
cries for mercy and waits for the coming of the Son of Man and the Son of
David, He will arise and have mercy upon Zion and "in wrath He will
remember mercy." "He will return again, He will have compassion upon us; He
will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the
depths of the sea" (Micah 7:19).

     He did not pass by the two blind men. "When He was come to the house
(which always stands for relationship), the blind men came to Him, and
Jesus says to them, Do ye believe that I am able to do this? They say to
Him, Yea, Lord. Then He touched their eyes, saying, According to your
faith, be it unto you. And their eyes were opened." So He healed them by
coming in touch with them not absent and unseen, but present and touching
them. He is absent from the earth now unseen to the eyes of men, yet we
believe in Him and through Him on God; we believe, too, that He is able,
that all power is given to Him in heaven and on earth and it is also now
"according to your faith." But He who is absent will come back to earth
again, back into definite relationship with His earthly people, and then
and not before will Israel's blindness be ended. And what these two healed
men did, spreading His name abroad in all that land, believing and seeing
Israel will do in that day.

     Next comes a dumb man possessed by a demon, and the demon having been
cast out, the dumb spake. This, too, refers to Israel still under the
control of Satan's power. Instead of praising their King, Israel was dumb
and is dumb now; but the demon will be cast out, and then Israel will speak
His praises and sing the new song unto the Lord. What a day it will be,
when dumb Israel is at last the people "formed to show forth His praise!"
"And the crowds were astonished, saying, It has never been seen thus in
Israel." And in that day when Israel is healed it will be said, "What God
has wrought," and all the nations will know that He is Jehovah. We learn
therefore in the three miracles -- the raising of the maid from the dead,
the opening of the eyes of the blind and the casting out of the demon from
the dumb man -- the blessed story of Israel's coming redemption. Israel
raised from the dead will see and behold the King, the Son of David, and
speak and praise His name. It is not less the way of divine grace with each
sinner who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are dead in trespasses and
sins. He said: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, that an hour is coming and
now is (and the hour is not yet passed), when the dead shall hear the voice
of the Son of God and they that have heard shall live" (John 5:24), and
those He raises from the dead to them He gives eternal life, which is He
Himself, and gives them the light of life, His Spirit, to enlighten them
and guide them. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth will speak to
His praise who loveth us and has redeemed us by His blood and delivered us
from the power of darkness. Oh, how blessedly rich and full in His Word!

     But now the dark side. While the crowds were astonished, the Pharisees
said, He casts out the demons through the prince of demons. Here for the
first time in the Gospel do we find the awful blasphemy of the religious
leaders of the people. The power of Jehovah had been manifested before
their very eyes. The leper had been cleansed and gone to the priest, who
knew Jehovah's power had done it; the tempest had been stilled, the demons
cast out, the paralytic healed, the dead maid raised up, the blind saw and
the dumb spake; but instead of bowing in the august presence of the King
and acknowledging the power, which manifested itself in such a manner, as
divine, they attributed it to Satan, the prince of demons. They accused the
Lord from heaven of being the instrument of Satan! Awful blasphemy! It is
here but the first muttering of the coming storm. The storm breaks fully in
the twelfth chapter. There they stand in all their Satanic boldness and
charge Him with casting out demons by Beelzebub. They committed there and
then the sin against the Spirit. We must reserve the closer investigation
of this matter till we read the chapter in which our Lord speaks of that
sin. Here we notice especially that the rejection of our Lord began with
the blind leaders of the people, the religious, self-righteous Pharisees.
It is not different in Christendom with the falling away from the faith.

     Our Lord continued in His ministry in Galilee. "And Jesus went round
all the cities and the villages, teaching in their synagogues, and
preaching the glad tidings of the kingdom and healing every disease and
every bodily weakness" (verse 35). What an activity this must have been! He
walked up and down through Galilee, and certainly not one of the numerous
villages was forgotten by Him. Let us notice again that it is the Gospel of
the kingdom He preached, therefore Kingdom signs were present. When He, the
King, comes again, and the Kingdom of the heavens is established and the
heavens rule, then disease and all that offends will be put away.

     But what scenes met His eye as He passed thus ministering among the
crowds of people? He beheld them as worn out, harassed and cast away as
sheep not having a shepherd. His loving heart was moved with compassion for
them. In this loving sympathy He reveals Himself as the Shepherd of Israel.
Long before His Spirit in the prophets had spoken of the scene we behold
here. "Son of Man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and
say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds: Woe be to the
shepherds of Israel that do not feed themselves! Should not the shepherds
feed the flock? ... And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd;
and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, where they were
scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high
hill; yea, My flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth and none
did search and seek after them" (Ezek. 34). In the same chapter we read
what Jehovah the Shepherd of Israel says: "I will both search My sheep and
find them out. ... I will seek out My sheep. ... I will bring them out from
the people and gather them from the countries. ... I will feed them in a
good pasture. ... I will feed My flock and I will cause them to lie down.
... I will seek that which was lost. ... I will make with them a covenant
of peace," ... etc. He came thus to His own as the Shepherd, but they did
not want Him. As the good Shepherd He laid down His life for the sheep,
becoming the great Shepherd in resurrection and the chief Shepherd in
glory. But He is also the Shepherd of Israel, and thinks still of His
earthly people and loves them. That thirty-fourth chapter of Ezekiel will
yet be literally fulfilled through the returning Son of Man, and then His
poor flock will know Him and sing in the earth what the believer's heart
sings now: "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want." "Then saith He to
His disciples, The harvest is great and the workmen few; supplicate
therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He send forth workmen unto His
harvest." He Himself is the Lord of the harvest. He sends forth the workmen
and He equips them for the service. But there is a great difference between
the sending forth of the workmen to preach the gospel of the kingdom, and
to heal the sick, and the gifts, the Lord in glory, as the Head of His
body, has given to the church. The sending forth of the laborers into the
harvest will be before us in the next chapter.

                                   _203

                                 CHAPTER X

     We learn now how our Lord, who is truly the Lord of the Harvest, sends
forth the laborers. He does it as the King, who came to offer the Kingdom
to Israel. He sends forth the laborers into the harvest as messengers of
Himself to announce the same message, which He announced, "The Kingdom of
the heavens has drawn nigh," and confers to them the authority and the
power to heal the infirm, raise the dead, and cast out demons. This sending
forth, as we shall see, was altogether in connection with the Kingdom; it
was therefore only temporary and ended with the complete rejection of the
Kingdom by Israel. However, there is a time coming when a Jewish remnant
will again go forth to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom. This will be
during the great tribulation.

     It is strange that Christian believers should go to the tenth chapter
of Matthew and look upon what is written here as meaning the sending forth
of the laborers, missionaries, preachers and teachers to proclaim the
Gospel of Grace, when there was first of all no Gospel of Grace and when
the words of our Lord so clearly show that it could not refer to anything
outside of Israel and Israel's land. Yet this wrong application is
constantly made. It is claimed by some on the authority of this chapter
that missionary efforts should consist in not preaching alone, but healing
of the sick. They send out, therefore, missionaries who are physicians, and
supply them with drugs and surgical instruments, as if our Lord did
anything of the kind. Others again claim that the healing of the sick,
besides the preaching of what they term, the Kingdom of the heavens, is
still in order, and they act according to this belief; however, the raising
of the dead they do not include in their powers. The Mormons with their
abominable and blasphemous teachings likewise go to this chapter, going
forth two by two and trying to follow the other commands given. All this
confusion is at once ended, when we look upon the sending forth of the
laborers here, as the sending forth of messengers to announce the Kingdom;
after the Kingdom had been postponed this special mission of the twelve
ended.

     The first verse in the chapter tells us that He called His twelve
disciples and that He gave them power over unclean spirits, so that they
should cast them out, and heal every disease and every bodily weakness. The
twelve messengers, whose names are given in the second, third and fourth
verses, stand as such always in relation to Israel. He tells them later,
"Ye shall also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel"
(chapter 19:28). Even in the New Jerusalem there will be this distinction.
"Her shining was like a most precious stone, as a crystal like jasper
stone; having a great, high wall; having twelve gates, and at the gates
twelve angels, and names inscribed, which are those of the twelve tribes of
the sons of Israel. ... And the wall of the city had twelve foundations,
and on them twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb" (Rev.
21:12-14). The twelve apostles thus stand in prominent and definite
relation to Israel. Here among the twelve, who are sent forth, is also the
name of Judas the Iscariot, who delivered Him up. After his awful end
another was rightly and divinely chosen in his place, that is Matthias. It
is astonishing to hear able teachers of the Word talk and write of the
mistake which the eleven made in the first chapter in the book of Acts in
casting the lot and choosing Matthias. We have heard all kinds of criticism
upon their action. They were, however, guided aright, and did not make a
mistake, for they acted upon the Word of God in the Psalms, and in the
casting of the lot they were fully authorized by the Old Testament
Scriptures, and besides this, they did it in dependence on the Lord. It is
also said by these brethren who see in the choosing of Matthias an error,
that the Lord wanted Paul to be the one who belongs to the twelve. This is
the worst blunder of all. The Holy Spirit fully endorses the action of the
eleven before Pentecost through Paul himself. In 1 Corinthians 15:5 we read
that the risen Lord was seen by the twelve. In the eighth verse Paul says:
"And last of all, as to an abortion, He appeared to me also." It is clear
from this passage that Paul does not belong to the twelve. Paul, as apostle
to the Gentiles, is an apostle not from men nor through man (Gal. 1:1); he
received his apostleship from the risen and glorified Lord. It is through
Paul as the one who has no earthly connections, but has it all from above,
that the Gospel of Grace as well as the mystery hid in former ages is made
known. 

     In the Epistles given through Paul we read, therefore, all concerning
the Gospel of Grace, the church and the ministry, which is for this age, an
age in which our Lord Jesus Christ is not King, but Lord in Glory. It is
from the Glory as Head of the Body He gives gifts. "He that descended is
the same who also ascended up above all the heavens, that He might fill all
things; and He has given some apostles, and some prophets, and some
evangelists, and some shepherds and teachers, for the perfecting of the
saints" (Eph. 4:10-12). He ministers then through the instruments He
chooses from above, and nowhere in the Epistles do we read anything like
that which is contained in the tenth chapter of Matthew. Let us divide the
Word of truth rightly and not put the church and the ministry of the church
in the chapter before us. All this will become clearer to us as we turn to
the different verses.

     For instance, in the sixth verse we read: "Go not off into the way of
the Gentiles, and into a city of Samaritans enter ye not; but go rather to
the lost sheep of the house of Israel." This is a limited sphere. They had
nothing to do and could have nothing to do with the Gentiles nor with
Samaritans. After the death and resurrection of our Lord the Gospel was to
be preached, beginning in Jerusalem, in Samaria, to the uttermost parts of
the earth. The lost sheep of the house of Israel, that much "spiritualized"
phrase, were not Gentiles, nor were they the church, for a church was not
and could not be then. Their preaching was only this text: "The Kingdom of
the heavens has drawn nigh." What does it mean? It meant that the promised
Kingdom for Israel, and through Israel to the nations, the Kingdom with all
its earthly blessings, was about to come. It was heralding the fact of the
presence of the King to set up the Kingdom, if His own would have it. Such
a preaching of the Kingdom of the heavens is not given now. After the
church age closes by the removal of the church from the earth into heaven,
as foreshadowed by the vessel which Peter saw coming out of heaven and
again received into heaven, then the kingdom will again draw nigh in the
person of the returning King and Lord with His saints.

     He tells them: "Ye have received gratuitously, give gratuitously.
(Christian Science also claims to follow this chapter by healing the sick.
But "freely give" is not practiced by this wicked cult. It costs to be
healed.) Do not provide yourselves with gold, or silver, or brass, for your
belts, nor scrip for the way, nor two body coats, nor sandals, nor a staff,
for the workman is worthy of his nourishment." Some well-meaning persons
have tried to follow out these commandments to the very letter, but it was
never meant for the servants of Christ to be followed literally during this
age. However, two principles are in these words before us, which find their
application in this age. They had received the message and power
gratuitously and thus they were to give it. The Gospel is to be free,
without price and without money. This principle holds good at this time.
How great the failure in Christendom, with its salaried ministry, pew
rents, fairs and entertainments to make money for the building of churches
and other things!

     They were to go forth with no provision made. This made them
altogether dependent upon the Lord who had sent them. Trust in the Lord,
who sends out the laborer, is another principle, which belongs to this age
as well. All disappointment and discouragement for the servant of Christ
comes in when he looks not to the Lord but to man. The Lord never
disappoints. "And He said to them, When I sent you without purse and scrip
and sandals, did ye lack anything? And they said, Nothing" (Luke 22:35).
The Lord who calls His servants and sends them forth always keeps them when
they walk in simple dependence upon Himself.

     From verses 11 to 15 we read other instructions for this special
mission. In city and village they were to inquire for them who are worthy.
The worthiness consisted undoubtedly in a desire to know Messiah, "waiting
for the consolation of Israel." The Gospel of Grace, which is preached now,
is preached without any such distinction. Its message is: "Whosoever," even
the most unworthy. At the end of this paragraph (verse 15) there is the
threatening of judgment when their message is not accepted.

     In the next four verses (16-20) we read of how their ministry would be
accepted. "Behold I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves; be therefore
prudent as the serpents and guileless as doves. But beware of men; for they
will deliver you up to sanhedrins and scourge you in their synagogues." And
so they did reject the Lord and the servants He sent. But it was not alone
confined to the Jews -- sanhedrin and synagogue -- but the Gentiles would
treat them in the same way. "And ye shall be brought before rulers and
kings for my sake, for a testimony to them and to the nations." Part of the
fulfillment of all this is found in the book of Acts. We see here also a
deeper meaning and refer to these words again when we come to another
verse.

     "But when they deliver you up, be not careful how or what ye shall
speak; for it shall be given to you in that hour what ye shall speak. For
ye are not the speakers, but the Spirit of your Father which speaks in
you." We can point to Stephen in Acts 7 as an illustration how fully this
promise has been fulfilled.

     The most bitter persecution is now promised them by our Lord: "But
brother shall deliver up brother to death, and father child; and children
shall rise up against parents and shall put them to death; and ye shall be
hated of all on account of my name. But he that has endured to the end
shall be saved. But when they persecute you in this city, flee to the
other, for verily I say to you, Ye shall not have completed the cities of
Israel until the Son of Man be come." These words are perhaps the most
important in the whole chapter. They are a kind of key to the entire
chapter.

     The coming of the Son of Man which is mentioned is His second coming.
The giving of the testimony by Jewish disciples concerning the Kingdom of
the heavens is according to the words of our Lord to continue till He comes
again. How are we to understand this? The testimony which was begun by the
apostles up to the time when Israel rejected once more the offers of mercy
from the risen Lord, when He was still waiting for their repentance as a
nation, is an unfinished testimony. After that offer was again rejected the
great parenthesis, the church age, began, and during this age (which is not
reckoned in the Old Testament) there is no more Jewish testimony of the
kingdom of the heavens. Israel nationally is set aside, blindness in part
is theirs till the fulness of the Gentiles is come in. When the church is
complete and the rapture of the saints has taken place, then the Lord
begins to deal with His people Israel again. There is the seventieth week
of Daniel 9 yet to come, and this week of seven years forms the end of this
dispensation. In this coming last week of seven years the church testimony
is finished and Jewish believers will take up the unfinished testimony to
the nation and proclaim once more "The Kingdom of the heavens is at hand."
The 24th chapter in this Gospel is a continuation of the 10th chapter,
inasmuch as Matthew 24 shows us the unfinished testimony of the 10th
chapter, finished and completed. (Read Matt. 24:5-32.) In Matt. 24 we read
of the great tribulation, so likewise here in the tenth chapter. In Micah 7
we read of a dark picture and there the Spirit of Christ reveals a
tribulation, which His lips on the earth proclaim to His disciples. Then
during the tribulation (never now) it will mean enduring to the end and
salvation will come then by the visible return of the Son of Man from
heaven. What our Lord said in verses 17 and 18 about persecutions from Jews
and Gentiles for these witnesses will find its final great fulfilment in
that great tribulation, when not alone the unbelieving nation will
persecute the believing and witnessing Jewish remnant, but nations as well.

     From the twenty-fourth verse to the end of the chapter our Lord
continues to speak to the twelve, who were about to go forth. His words are
now words of encouragement, not to fear; they were safe in the hands of His
Father. While all these words had a special significance for the Jewish
disciples our Lord sent forth, they also contain precious comfort and
instruction for every true believer living in this day. It would be
extremely one sided to pass over these words of our Lord and treat them as
not containing truth for us. Every word which our God and Father has been
pleased to give us has a meaning for us.

     First of all our Lord speaks of the position of the disciple. "The
disciple is not above his teacher, nor the bondman above his Lord. It is
sufficient for the disciple that he should become as his teacher, and the
bondman as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub,
how much more those of his household?" (verses 24-26). (Beelzebub means
"Lord of the house," that is, Satan as the possessor of the house.) The
position of the disciple is then according to these words identification of
the closest kind with His Lord. However, to learn fully of this
identification with Him, who is our Saviour and Lord, we do not go to this
first Gospel. The Gospel of Matthew was not written with this purpose. In
the Gospel of John, the Gospel of Life and Resurrection, and the First
Epistle of John as well as the Epistles given by the Holy Spirit through
Paul, we learn of the blessed identification which exists by Grace between
the Lord and His own. How preciously it is revealed by Himself in that Holy
of Holies in the Gospel of John, the seventeenth chapter. And this chapter
itself is but the germ out of which the Holy Spirit develops in the Pauline
Epistles, the Gospel of Grace and the truth concerning the Church as the
Body of Christ. In that marvelous chapter our Lord intercedes before His
Father for the very disciples (as well as ourselves) whom He sent forth in
the beginning of His earthly ministry. Altogether one with Him, is the
golden thread which goes through His prayer. And He said; "The world has
hated them, because they are not of the world, as I am not of the world. I
do not demand that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou
shouldest keep them out of evil." In the First Epistle of John the Holy
Spirit says: "Do not wonder, brethren, if the world hate you," and in the
upper room He said to His own: "If the world hate you, ye know that it
hated Me before you" (John 15:18). It is therefore an identification of the
closest nature in which we stand with our Lord. And do we ever stop and
think on these things? How little we do, how little all this is real to us?
It is true little of the reproach of Christ is seen in these days; but
little hatred from the side of the world, nor any names of rejection. We
ask why? The answer is soon given. The professing church has turned her
back upon her heavenly calling and with that upon the Lord. She has
committed adultery in loving the world and has returned to the beggarly
elements of this world. But let the true believer leave this camp and go
outside of that which professes His name and soon enough the reproach will
have to be borne. Christendom and the world has little use for one who
walks in true separation. Still how precious is that place. If it is
reproach it is His reproach; hatred, it is the same with which He was
hated. Reproach, hatred and persecution is the seal of identification and
fellowship with Him.

     But with this our Lord does not leave it. He comforts those He sent
forth. And now He speaks the word which is to calm their fears: "Fear not."
What meaning it has coming from such lips! Angels spoke the word "Fear not"
in olden times. They are but creatures sent with a message from the Throne.
But He who speaks here is the Creator Himself made a little lower than the
angels He had created; the Omnipotent One, our Lord speaks, "Fear not!"
"Fear them not therefore; for there is nothing covered which shall not be
revealed, and secret which shall not be known. What I say to you in
darkness speak in the light, and what ye hear in the ear preach upon the
houses." In other words, He tells them of the day when all is to be
uncovered, and the secret things to be made known. This fact is ever to be
before them. It is to be daily before us. Oh, brethren, let us learn to
look at all things in the light of the Judgment seat! "Do not judge
anything before the time, until the Lord shall come, who shall also bring
to light the hidden things of darkness, and shall make manifest the
counsels of hearts; and then shall each have his praise from God" (1
Corinth. 4:5). In view of this revelation of the secret things our Lord
tells us to be bold and to declare the whole counsel of God.

     Then what harm can men do to him anyway, who is Christ's (and Christ
is God's). We belong to God, we are His own. No man can do us any harm with
his persecution or hatred. Therefore He says now: "And be not afraid of
those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul." What if they should even
go so far as to kill the body, as they often did and will yet do,
especially to the Jewish Saints in the great tribulation. (We mention again
that all these words have a future meaning and fulfillment during that time
of Jacob's trouble, after the removal of the church. The Jewish believers
will know the comfort of these words, as Saints during this age know them.)
If they kill the body they cannot kill the soul and the killing of the body
and faithful testimony given through martyrdom will enrich the Lord as well
as the disciple. We may not be called upon to surrender thus our bodies,
yet the principle of it is ours; fear nothing outward, nothing temporal,
whatever it may be. "But fear rather Him who is able to destroy both soul
and body in hell." (Here Gehenna and not Hades. Gehenna is correctly
translated hell.) And He who is able to do that and will do it at the great
white Throne to the unsaved, is God. He then is to be feared alone. Of
course all this is not to be read as referring to the believer. He who has
believed is passed from death unto life, he does not come into judgment.
Once saved means always saved. We must, however, not overlook the fact that
among the twelve there was one who was not saved. It was the first warning
coming to Judas. He looked to outward things and was a thief.

     Words of comfort come next. "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?
and one of them shall not fall to the ground without your Father; but of
you even the hairs of the head are all numbered. Fear not therefore; ye are
better than many sparrows." And where is the child of God who does not
rejoice in such a statement? He knows the sparrows upon the housetops as He
knew the fish in the sea and the piece of money, which laid on the bottom
of the sea. He knows every hair of His own. He speaks of a special
providence which watches over every child of God. Happy are we if we walk
in the simplicity of a child before our Father and our Lord and ever know
by day and by night "He careth for you." We are all in His hands.

     The words of responsibility follow: "Everyone therefore who shall
confess me before men, I also will confess before my Father who is in the
Heavens. But whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny
before my Father who is in the Heavens."

     He who believes in the name of the Lord Jesus is saved; confession
with the mouth follows (Rom. 10:8-12).

     Every one who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ and confesses with the
mouth that Jesus is Lord, such confesses Him before men. This confession of
Him is ever to increase not only with the lips but in the conduct and the
life. Thus every true believer is a confessor of Jesus as Lord and the Lord
in His day will confess him before His Father. Individual faithfulness will
of course bring a corresponding reward. The unsaved denies Him before men.
He may have the name of Jesus upon his lips but he trusts not in Him and
this is the denial and he who has not believed will not be confessed before
the Father, because the unsaved is none of His.

     In the few verses which follow, 34-36, our Lord describes the
characteristics of this age, the age in which we live and which is so
rapidly ending up. "Do not think that I have come to send peace upon the
earth. I have not come to send peace, but a sword." Many puzzled Jews have
come to us with this word and asked what Jesus of Nazareth meant. How could
He be our Messiah when instead "of peace He sends the sword?" "Is not
Messiah the Prince of Peace to speak peace to the nations?" However we
learn that the words He speaks here, foretelling the history of this age,
are blessed evidences of His divinity. This age is not the age of world
wide peace. "Peace on Earth" is not yet reached in the divine program for
the earth. The King and His kingdom rejected, He Himself absent, strife,
confusion and wars, the sword reigns. But the King is coming back. Before
His return as King out of the opened heavens the sword will be unsheathed
and peace be taken from the earth. The nations may boast of peace among
themselves at this time, but it will not last very long and soon the rider
upon the red horse will gallop over the earth (Rev. 6). Peace like a river
will surely flow after the King has come and all swords have become
plowshares. The Lord hasten the day.

     And what place and position has the true disciple with Christ in this
age? Christ is rejected and scorned. He Himself is to be owned and full
devotedness shown to Him, and that means -- suffering.

     "He who loves father or mother above me is not worthy of me; and he
who loves son or daughter above me is not worthy of me. And he who does not
take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He that finds his life
shall lose it; he who has lost his life for my sake shall find it."

     But there is another side. Not alone the suffering but the glory which
is to follow. The recompense is as sure as the suffering and the recompense
will be greater than the sufferings.

     "He that receives you, receives me, and he that receives me, receives
Him who has sent me. He that receives a prophet in a prophet's name shall
receive a prophet's reward; he that receives a righteous man in a righteous
man's name shall receive a righteous man's reward. And whosoever shall give
to drink to one of these little ones a cup of cold water only, in the name
of a disciple, verily he shall in no wise lose his reward." The one who
receives a prophet shall have the blessing of a prophet -- he who receives
the Son of God becomes the Son of God, Heir of God and joint heir with
Jesus Christ, and anything done, which has love for its motive, will not be
forgotten.
                                   _218

                                CHAPTER XI

     The first verse of this chapter belongs to the sending forth of the
twelve, and should be put to the previous chapter. "And it came to pass
when Jesus had finished commanding His twelve disciples, He departed thence
to teach and preach in their cities." He took the work upon Himself once
more, and with the disciples He had sent forth He preached the Kingdom of
the Heavens to be at hand. The Lord of the harvest, who had sent forth the
laborers, enters the harvestfield Himself. His rejection is now to be made
more and more manifest. He came to His own and His own received Him not.
Gradually in this Gospel we have seen how Israel had no heart, no desire
for Him; they were indeed blinded. The rejection of Him who had so fully
shown Himself to be Jehovah manifested in the flesh, is now rapidly
approaching. Soon He will leave the house and take His place at the
seashore (chapter 13:1) to teach the mysteries of the Kingdom of the
Heavens, that which is to pass, while He, the King, and with Him the
Kingdom is rejected. The eleventh chapter is the beginning of the crisis,
and the twelfth chapter is the great turning point.

     First of all we have the record of John the Baptist in prison sending
to our Lord, and the message our Lord sends to him. "But John, having heard
in the prison the works of the Christ, sent by His disciples and said to
Him, Art Thou the Coming One? or are we to wait for another? And Jesus
answering said to them, Go, report to John what you hear and see. Blind men
see and lame walk; lepers are cleansed and deaf hear; and dead are raised
and poor have glad tidings preached to them; and blessed is whosoever shall
not be offended in Me."

     The incident has been differently interpreted. From the fourth chapter
we learned that when Jesus heard that John was cast into prison He departed
into Galilee (4:12). The fourteenth chapter in this Gospel gives the story
of John's imprisonment and his death. In this arrangement the divine hand
which guided Matthew's hand is seen again.

     John the Baptist spent therefore some time in prison before he sent
his disciples to our Lord. It is generally assumed that John, the preacher
of repentance and the coming Kingdom, had finally expected that Jesus would
soon establish the Kingdom, and that he, as the voice in the wilderness,
the forerunner, would have a share in its glories. Instead of this expected
glory he is cast into a dungeon. He had faithfully discharged his duties.
Not like a miserable hireling had he acted, but fearlessly he had denounced
evil, and for all his faithfulness nothing but suffering, rejection and
death staring him in the face. It is, therefore, said by many that he
doubted that Jesus was truly the promised Messiah, and asked for evidences
of His Messiahship. However, this interpretation can hardly be right. If we
turn to the Gospel of John and read his utterances there, we find that he
had a complete insight into the work which Christ as the Lamb of God was to
do, and he knew Jesus was the Christ. It is also reasonable to assume that
his own disciples who had come to our Lord with the question, "Why do we
and the Pharisees fast but Thy disciples fast not?" had come to him and
given him the answer, that the bridegroom, the Messiah, was to be taken
away from them, and then there would be fasting.

     Others have looked upon this incident in another light. They attempt
to shield John the Baptist altogether, and defend his absolute faith and
confidence in Jesus as the Christ. According to many John was perfect so
that no doubt could assail his mind. But why should he send from his prison
and ask of the Lord such information? The difficulty is, according to
these, solved, in that John desired the answer not for any confirmation of
his faith, but that he sent his disciples because they were staggered in
their belief. Martin Luther says on this passage: "It is certain that John
sent to inquire on account of his disciples; for they did not yet regard
Christ as the One for Whom He was to be regarded. They waited for one who
would move along pompously, highly learned, as a mighty King. John treats
them tenderly, endures their weak faith till they become strong; does not
reject them because they do not yet believe in Him so firmly." This
solution of the difficulty, however, lacks scriptural support. It is a
fanciful theory that John should have sent to Christ for the sake of his
disciples. We need not claim perfection and infallibility for John the
Baptist, for he had neither. Only one on the earth was perfect and
infallible, sinless and spotless, who was never assailed by doubt, and that
one is our Lord Jesus Christ. John, like Elijah, was "a man of like
passions as we are." Elijah's ministry was marked with individual failure.
His life was threatened by Jezebel: "And when he saw that, he arose and
went for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongeth to Judah, and
left his servant there. But he himself went a day's journey into the
wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested
for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take
away my life; for I am not better than my fathers" (1 Kings 19:3, 4). What
a failure this was! Surely there is nothing good in man, and even in the
most privileged servants of the Lord there is the flesh and the failure of
the flesh. John in prison passes through the experience of Elijah in whose
spirit and power he had come. It would be incorrect to say that John
doubted the Messiahship of Jesus. He knew Him as the Christ. Yet in prison
his patience is severely tested, and doubt troubles him. In this test he
looks to Him, whom he always honored as his Lord, for succor. He sent
directly to the Lord, and certainly He knew the weak and doubting one, as
well as his faith, which looked to Him for strength and a word of cheer.

     And is this not an incident with lessons for us? It teacheth us to
confess our weakness before Him, and look to the Lord for the strength and
comfort He alone can give.


     We may also meditate in connection with John in prison and his doubt
with another servant of the Lord in prison. There in Rome he sat and wrote,
"I, Paul, prisoner of the Lord." And out of that prison came forth the
strains of praise and joy. How many "ifs' and "hows" and "whys" he might
have asked? How many murmurings and bitter complaints might have flown from
His lips? He sends out a letter from the dungeon which has not the
slightest hint of failure in it, where sin and flesh is not seen and not
mentioned. But what is the secret of the rejoicing prisoner of the Lord?
What is the secret which underlies the triumphant language of joy in the
Epistle to the Philippians? It is one word, "Christ." The life of Christ in
him, and Christ the center, Christ the pattern and object before the
apostle, and Christ his strength, enabled by Him to do all things, is the
secret of all; and that John the Baptist, the greatest of the Old Testament
did not know, nor could he be in possession of it. It is our full
inheritance as believers on the other side of the cross. Oh, may we live in
enjoyment of it, up to the mark of our position and possession in Christ.

     But we return to our chapter. The Lord gives the message for John. If
his disciples had any doubt, the words of the Lord must have dispersed
these. And when John heard the answer it must have brought him strength and
cheer. The Lord speaks of the signs of the Kingdom which He did in
fulfillment of Old Testament predictions. We have shown before how in the
miracles our Lord performed of Isaiah 35:5 and 6 was fulfilled. The dead
also were raised and the glad tidings preached. The spiritual significance
of the latter two is of course fully seen in the Gospel of John. The words,
"And blessed is whosoever shall not be offended in Me," are words of
exhortation to John the Baptist. How like the Lord to put them at the end
of the message. The Holy Spirit has repeated this in the Epistles where the
admonitions are always coming in at the end or after words of love and
commendation were given first. The admonition was certainly understood by
John, and how deeply it must have exercised him. It led to humiliation,
heartsearching, and in the end it was a beatitude, a "blessed." May it ever
be so with us.

     And all this was not unknown to the crowds. They stood there and heard
what passed between the Lord and John's disciples. They heard the question
they asked and the answer our Lord sent to John. John the Baptist was known
by these crowds and they believed in him as a great prophet. His testimony
and his personality might then be discredited by them. The Lord addresses
himself to the crowds in what may be termed a defense of John. He shields
him now before any criticism, and maintains his testimony and divinely
given mission.

     "But as they went away Jesus began to say to the crowds concerning
John, What went ye out in the wilderness to see? A reed moved about by the
wind? But what went ye out to see? A man clothed in delicate raiment?
Behold those who wear delicate things are in the houses of kings. But what
went ye out to see? A prophet? Yea, I say to you, and more than a prophet;
this is he of whom it is written, Behold, I send My messenger before Thy
face, who shall prepare Thy way before Thee. Verily I say to you, that
there is not risen among the born of women a greater than John the Baptist.
But he who is a little one in the Kingdom of the Heavens is greater than
he."

     We confine our remarks to the end sentence. What is the meaning of it?
Its common application is generally the thought that our Lord speaks here
of the church age, and that the least in this present dispensation is
greater than John in the old dispensation, to which he fully belonged. That
such is the case no one doubts. We as Christian believers are higher in our
standing than the Old Testament saints. However, the primary meaning of the
passage is a different one. The question would be first of all, "What does
our Lord mean here by Kingdom of the Heavens?" Up to the thirteenth chapter
in the Gospel of Matthew the phrase, "Kingdom of the Heavens," has only one
meaning, viz., the Kingdom to be established in the earth, as predicted by
the Old Testament prophets. In the thirteenth chapter it is the Kingdom of
the Heavens in the hands of man in its development during the absence of
the King. We cannot think, therefore, that in the eleventh chapter, where
it is still the offer of the Kingdom of the Heavens, our Lord would
introduce the present age. This would be all out of keeping with the scope
of Matthew. Now as our Lord means the Kingdom of the Heavens actually set
up in the earth, the meaning of His words becomes clear. The little one who
is in that Kingdom of the Heavens, when it has come at last, will be
greater than John, who but announced the Kingdom to come. It foreshadows
the glories of the coming Kingdom age, when the little one will be greater
than John ever could be in the earth.

     But our Lord adds: "From the days of John the Baptist until now, the
Kingdom of the Heavens is taken by violence, and the violent seize on it.
For all the prophets and the law have prophesied unto John. And if ye will
receive it (him), this is Elias, who is to come. He that has ears to hear
let him hear."

     These words are again very simple and to our mind present no
difficulty at all, if they are taken in their literal meaning. It is
strange that the words of our Lord should be made to mean the Gospel,
eternal life, conversion and the sinner's own efforts to take possession of
it. Yet such is the case. Many preachers and evangelists have no other
light on this passage and preach and exhort from it what is in direct
opposition to the blessed Gospel. According to these preachers, the
violent, who take the Kingdom by force or press into it (Luke 16:16), are
unsaved sinners. The devil, the flesh and the world stand in the sinner's
way of salvation, so they teach, and he must use force, great violence, to
enter into the Kingdom. After due exercise, strenuous effort and violence
he will be able to take it by force. This is the general interpretation of
the passage. It is as erroneous as the interpretation of the parable of the
treasure hid in the field and the pearl of great price, which makes the
sinner give his all (though he has nothing to give) to buy salvation.

     No, the violent who take the Kingdom by violence are not unsaved
sinners, who seek salvation and that salvation must be taken by force.
Salvation is by grace, it is God's free gift, and the sinner is not saved
through and in his violent efforts, but in believing in the Lord Jesus
Christ.

     The Pharisees and scribes who stand here before our Lord are the
violent who take the Kingdom of the Heavens (never the Gospel) by force and
seize on it. Our Lord says: "From the days of John until now." The
forerunner, John, was violently rejected by the Pharisees. This
foreshadowed the rejection of the King, the rejection of the preaching of
the Kingdom and the Kingdom itself. In this seizing upon the Kingdom,
rejecting it, the Kingdom of the Heavens suffered violence. It was rejected
by force and now is postponed till He comes again. If they had received
John the Baptist he would have been Elias. But he was rejected, they would
not have it so. They did violence to what the King had come to bring.
Another Elias will come once more, and then no violence can keep back the
coming of the Kingdom of the Heavens.

     Let us notice that John's ministry was exclusively to his own people.
Elijah's ministry is still future and falls in the period of the great
tribulation. His ministry and testimony will be confined to the land of
Israel and to the remnant of Israel. Any one who claims to be Elijah
incarnate at this time is either a downright fraud, unbalanced in his mind,
or so grossly ignorant of the Word of God and His revealed purposes, that
the proud imaginations of his heart lead him astray into such a ridiculous
claim.

     The words which follow are a true description of the generation which
was privileged to see the King, Jehovah, manifested in the earth. "But to
whom shall I liken this generation? It is like children calling to their
companions, saying, We have piped to you, and ye have not danced; we have
mourned to you, and ye have not wailed. For John has come, neither eating
nor drinking, and they say, He has a demon. The son of man has come eating
and drinking, and they say, Behold a man that is eating and wine drinking,
a friend of tax-gatherers, and of sinners; -- and wisdom has been justified
by her children" (verses 15-19). In other words, the generation was a
foolish lot of people who could not be suited by anything. They were like
children. It is a wonderful declaration of our Lord of the condition of the
people, His own to whom He came, and who received Him not. The illustration
is taken from children playing with the real things of life, with joy and
sorrow, and idling their time away. John appeared, among them and they were
dissatisfied with him. He was too strict, too severe; they cared not for
him, and because he would not sit down and eat and drink with them they
said, he has a demon. Then the Lord came. Truth and mercy were revealed
through Him. He sat down with the tax-gatherers and sinners and mingled
with them, eating and drinking. Divine mercy towards the fallen and outcast
was most blessedly shown -- the spotless One in touch with the defiled and
lost, calling sinners to repentance. But they had no understanding for
this, no heart for that wonderful grace. He was in their eyes but a man,
for they said: "Behold a man -- eating and drinking." They put Him on the
same level with the wine drinking company. Neither mourning nor rejoicing
suited them. Behind it stands the evil heart, the natural man, never
pleased with God's way, always finding fault. "The carnal mind is enmity
against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can
be" (Rom. 8:7). The words "wisdom has been justified by her children" has
found many different interpretations. Its meaning is very simple. While the
large mass of people were thus rejecting John and Christ, and had no
understanding for God's love and mercy made known, there were others, a few
indeed, and these accepted the teaching of John and believed in the Lord.
"Wisdom" is an Old Testament name of our Lord. The whole book of Proverbs
abounds with the word Wisdom and the speech Wisdom utters. The eighth
chapter tells us that Wisdom is a person and that person is our Lord. Those
who believed in Him are the children of Wisdom and they had no fault to
find, neither with John's burning call to repentance, nor with the mercy of
Christ in eating and drinking with the tax-gatherers and sinners. In this
way Wisdom was justified by her children.

     And is the present generation of nominal Christian better than the
generation of professing Israelites in the day of Christ? We think not.
They are today the same as the Christ rejecting Jews were then. The Christ
of God, God's way of Righteousness and Grace does not suit the natural
heart at any time.

     Solemn are the words which follow now. The Judge speaks. He who speaks
here will take His place upon the throne and preside in that judgment day
of which He speaks, "Then began He to reproach the cities in which most of
His works of power had taken place, because they had not repented. Woe to
thee, Chorazin! Woe to thee, Bethsaida! for if the works of power which
have taken place in you, had taken place in Tyre and Sidon, they had long
ago repented in sackcloth and ashes. But I say to you, that it shall be
more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in judgment day than for you. And thou,
Capernaum, who hast been raised up to heaven, shall be brought down even to
Hades. For if the works of power which have taken place in thee, had taken
place in Sodom, it had remained until this day. But I say to you, that it
shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in judgment day than for
thee." His divine patience is now seen as almost exhausted and for the
first time in this Gospel He speaks the "Woe," which He repeats later a
number of times. And oh! the word "woe" coming from such lips! Chorazin and
Bethsaida had been greatly privileged. Works of power, works which
manifested Jehovah's presence had been shown in their midst, yet they
repented not. Tyre and Sidon never witnessed such manifestations. The
responsibility of Chorazin and Bethsaida is therefore greater than the
responsibility of Tyre and Sidon. There will be in that day different
degrees of punishment. Capernaum, His own city, had come nearest to heaven
and still there was no response. Sodom with all their awful fruits of the
flesh will fare better in judgment day than Capernaum. The measure of
relationship is always the measure of responsibility. Tyre, Sidon and Sodom
had no such privileges and stood in no such relationship to the Lord as the
cities which our Lord mentions here. It is so with Christendom today. It
shall be more tolerable in that day to the nations of darkest Africa than
to the so-called "Christian nations," with light and privileges offered and
wilfully rejected.

     And what a scene follows! "At that time," when in the midst of the
outburst of His righteous words of condemnation, He speaks the words so
precious still. What words could picture Him as He stood there and that
face, soon to be marred and spit upon, turned upward to heaven? And now He
said, "I praise thee, Father, Lord of the heaven and the earth, that thou
hast hid these things from the wise and prudent and hast revealed them to
babes. Yea, Father, for thus has it been well pleasing in Thy sight. All
things have been delivered to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son but
the Father, nor does anyone know the Father but the Son, and he to whom the
Son may be pleased to reveal Him."

     The Lord stands on the earth and looks to the Father in heaven. Both
are Lord. It was so at the destruction of Sodom. "Then the Lord rained upon
Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven."
(Gen. 19:24). The Lord who had then been in the earth and communed with
Abraham His friend, stood once more on the earth. He came in the form of a
servant, having emptied Himself of His outward glory, and here as the
obedient One praises Him, to whom He had said coming into the world, "Lo, I
come to do Thy will" (Heb. 10:4-7). The Lord of the heaven and of the earth
is His Father, but He who looks now to Him is not less the Lord of the
heaven and of the earth. "Father," He said. He was then the only One who
could thus look to heaven. It is, blessed be His name! different now. The
Spirit of Sonship has been given whereby we cry, "Abba, Father."

     From the wise and the prudent, the self-sufficient religionists, the
Pharisees and speculating Sadducees these things were hid, but revealed
unto babes. They had refused Him, the wisdom of God; being wise in their
own conceits and blindness was the dreadful result. Babes instead received
the revelation of Himself. We often wonder why the wise and prudent of our
day do not see certain truths, the blessed Gospel of the Glory of God, the
truth concerning the church, the coming of our Lord, while others, poor and
weak though they are, are in full possession of these revelations and ever
receive more out of his fullness. The reason is soon found. Only He who
owns his nothingness, who takes his place in weakness at His feet, and is
like a babe, can receive these things. Never does the Lord entrust His
secrets and his councils to the wise and prudent. Would we know more of
Him, of His Word, His purposes and His thoughts? There is only one way --
be a babe, own yourself as such and as a babe walk and live before the Lord
of heaven and earth.

     "All things," our Lord said, "have been delivered unto me by my
Father." The people were soon ready to reject Him as their Messiah and
King, but He knew His inheritance, an inheritance in which the babe in Him
has a glorious share.

     Furthermore, "the Father knoweth the Son." How softly we should tread
whenever we speak of the person of our Lord, for the full knowledge is only
with the Father. "No one knoweth the Father but the Son and he to
whomsoever the Son may be pleased to reveal Him." No one cometh to the
Father but by me. Whoever denies the Son has not the Father either.
Revealing the Father is what our Lord did and still is doing. In
resurrection He is Son of God with power, and all who receive Him are
brought to God and become children of God, to know the Father.

     Upon this divine statement of His own person, His oneness with the
Father, He utters that word which is so well known and which has been a
word of blessing to uncountable souls.

     "Come to Me all ye who labor and are burdened and I will give you
rest." This is the first part of the gracious invitation. Significantly it
comes in right after the rejection by His own becomes manifest and after He
spoke of the rejection of the favored Galilean cities. It is typical of
that full, free and blessed Gospel of Grace, which was made known after His
death and resurrection, and which is still being preached.

     It is an invitation to all, Jew and Gentile. The invitation is to
those who labor and are burdened; it is to come to Him and He promises
rest. How full it is! How inexhaustible in its meaning! The second part of
His invitation brings us further. "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me;
for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest for your souls;
for My yoke is easy and My burden light."

     The one who has come to Him and found rest is to take now His yoke
upon him and to learn of Him. It means to follow Him, to be under Him as
Lord. The yoke is not the law, but His own yoke, His loving restraint; and
two belong into the yoke; we are yoked together with Him. And having Him,
the One meek and lowly in heart, ever before the soul, rest for the soul is
the blessed fruit. It is the whole Epistle to the Philippians in a
nutshell. "Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus." Coming to
Him we have rest -- living in Him we find rest for our souls. May the
reader meditate upon these words of our Lord till they become sweeter than
honey and honeycomb.
                                   _234

                                CHAPTER XII

     The twelfth chapter brings before us the full manifestation of the
enmity of Israel against our Lord and His rejection by His own.

     It is the great turning point in this Gospel and with it the offer of
our Lord to Israel as their King, as well as the offer of the Kingdom
ceases. We have followed the story of our Lord manifesting Himself as
Jehovah the King. Everything in the first part of this royal Gospel proves
Him to be the promised One. Speaking not like the Pharisees and the
Scribes, but with authority, He had declared the principles of the Kingdom
He came to bring.

     Going through the cities of Galilee, He and His disciples had preached
the Kingdom of the Heavens to be at hand. Multitudes had heard the glad and
solemn announcement.

     These glad tidings were backed up by the most startling signs. The
blind saw, the lepers were cleansed, demons were driven out and the dead
were raised. There could be only one explanation for these miracles.

     Every one of them proved conclusively that Jehovah had visited His
people; He whose name is "Immanuel" had appeared in their midst. Old
Testament predictions of the coming of the Messiah, the manner of His
coming and His works were being fulfilled before the eyes of that
generation yet they did not and would not recognize Him. They remained cold
and indifferent. They had no heart for Jehovah-Jesus. This in itself was a
fulfillment of prophecy. And so we learn in the eighth chapter that a
Gentile showed greater faith than the Lord had found in Israel and our Lord
indicates the immediate future of the children of the Kingdom. They were to
be cast out and others from the East and the West were to come and sit down
in the Kingdom of the Heavens with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The murmuring
of the Pharisees, first heard when he healed the paralytic and forgave him
his sins, was the first outbreak against Him. And now the storm we saw in
its threatening is to break. The awful blasphemy is uttered and the King
declares in His sovereign power the relationship between Him the King and
the Kingdom people broken. It is now clear that the Kingdom of the Heavens,
so fully revealed in the Old Testament, is to be postponed till the Son of
Man comes again. After this rejection of the King and His turning away from
His own, He revealed the Kingdom of the Heavens in mysteries. He shows, as
the Revealer of Secrets, the history of what He brings and makes known, the
Kingdom in the hands of men and the development of it during His absence
from the earth. And so we read immediately following the 12th chapter, "And
that same day Jesus went out from the house and sat down by the sea." He
left the house; breaking off His relationship and taking His place by the
sea -- (a type of the Gentiles).

     And now we are ready to look a little closer at the sad events before
us in the important twelfth chapter.

     The first paragraph, contained in eight verses, shows us our Lord
manifesting Himself as Lord of the Sabbath and answering the charge of the
Pharisees, who accused them of Sabbath breaking. "At that time Jesus went
on the Sabbath through the cornfields; and his disciples were hungry and
began to pluck the ears and to eat. But the Pharisees, seeing it, said to
Him, Behold, Thy disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the
Sabbath." It was "at that time," at the time of that loving call to come
unto Him, which stands at the close of the eleventh chapter. When divine
love was full of solicitude for the burdened and the poor, the evil hearts
of the enemies were ready to attack Him.

     The Sabbath, the seventh day, is something essentially Jewish, the
peculiar day for the peculiar people. Its keeping is embodied in the ten
commandments. The seventh day was, and is to the present day, a matter of
great importance with the Jew. He prides himself with it and boasts in the
strict keeping of it. Not satisfied with the plain fourth commandment in
the decalogue, the Jewish elders added their injunctions forbidding even
the smallest matters and entering into details which are ridiculous. These
human traditions were in the days of our Lord strictly followed. The
religious Pharisee saw to its enforcement and they put these burdens upon
the people and tried to establish their own righteousness. To take ears of
corn and eat them on the Sabbath is nowhere forbidden in the law given
through Moses. Among many other injunctions the leaders of traditions had
added this to the Word of God and made it a sin should anyone pluck an ear
of corn on the seventh day.

     Before we continue with the story of this chapter we desire to add
here a few words, which may prove helpful to some of our readers. Not a few
Christian believers have been annoyed, as well as disturbed, by a class of
professing Christians who have added to their denominational names, as a
special distinction, the term "Seventh day." Thus we find about us "Seventh
Day Baptists" and "Seventh Day Adventists," as well as others whose chief
endeavor seems to be to preach the keeping of the Jewish Sabbath. These
sects, who defend the seventh day as a Christian institution, are nearly
all infested with other serious evil doctrines, such as soul sleep, second
probation, universalism and others. The root of this error of Sabbath
keeping is the ignorance of these people of the fact that the believer in
Christ has not the law, the ten commandments, for his rule, but the
believer in Christ is dead to the law, and as a new creation is completely
severed from that which is old, as well as from all earthly connections.
The believer in Christ is above the law. He is complete and perfect in
Christ. The rule for his walk is Christ Himself, by whom he is indwelt. The
Sabbath, the seventh day, is connected with the earth and with Israel, but
the believer is not Israel, nor does he belong to the earth, but Grace has
lifted him into heaven. It is quite true there is a Sabbath day and this
day is the seventh day of the week. But there is no Sabbath keeping now as
regards Israel and the earth. The great and true Sabbath is still coming.

     The question might then be asked, "Has the Christian believer no
Sabbath day to keep?" The answer is, No. If we speak of a Sabbath day then
surely it must mean the seventh day, and if we desire to keep the Sabbath
day holy we must keep not the first day of the week but the seventh day.
But some will say, "the Sabbath has been changed from the last day of the
week to the first day." This is often said; but there's no scriptural
authority for it. Neither Christ nor His apostles declared such a change.
It is, therefore, wrong to call the first day of the week, known by the
name "Sunday," the Sabbath or "Christian Sabbath." The first day of the
week is the Lord's day, the day of resurrection, the day of the new
creation. This day was kept in the very beginning of the Christian age as a
precious memorial of Him who was dead and was raised from the dead, who is
seated in the Highest Heaven and who is coming again. It was with the early
Christians, and should be so still, a day of worship, when they came
together to break bread and partake of the blessed cup, to show the Lord's
death, till He come again. Some one has expressed it in the following short
sentences: "Israel was commanded to observe the Sabbath day; the church is
privileged to enjoy the first day of the week. The former was the test of
Israel's moral condition; the latter is the significant proof of the
Church's eternal acceptance. The Sabbath day manifested what Israel could
do for God; the Lord's day perfectly declares what God has done for us."

     There is no law about this blessed first day of the week. The
Christian believer is in perfect liberty, with no yoke and bondage upon
him. "For ye have been called to liberty, brethren; only do not turn
liberty into an opportunity to the flesh, but by love serve one another"
(Gal. 5:15). The child of God will know how to use this liberty in the
right way and will certainly have the first day of the week as a day of
rejoicing in the Lord and fellowship with Him.

     A strange sight indeed it is to see the nominal church attempting by
political influences, legislation, police activities, to force the world to
keep the Sabbath day on the first day of the week. As if it were the
calling of the church to enforce laws and as if the world could be made to
keep the Sabbath. What a deplorable mixture! What an awful confusion!

     And now after this disgression we come back to our chapter. The human
way of answering the objections of the Pharisees would have been to tell
them that there was no law forbidding the deed done by the disciples. In a
few words He might have informed them not alone of the invalidity of their
traditions, but also of the sin they had committed by adding to the Word of
God. However, this is not the way divine wisdom chooses to silence their
accusations. Perhaps they expected in their Satanic device some such
answer, which they would have used against Him. The answer they hear from
His lips, the lips of the Lawgiver Himself, is a different one than they
expected. It reveals His divinity, Hint the perfect one in knowledge, as
does every other answer He gave to His enemies in this Gospel, silencing
their temptings at every instance. When He met Satan, as we learned from
the fourth chapter, He used as weapon the Word of God, His own Word. Now He
meets the offspring of vipers, the children of the enemy, and the weapon He
uses is the same. He wields once more the Sword of the Spirit and answers
their unscriptural objections by His scriptural assertions. May we learn
from it, and at all times, whether it is the Devil or his offspring which
tempt us, use the Word in our defense. And thus He spake: "Have ye not read
what David did when he was hungry, and they that were hungry? How he
entered into the house of God, and ate the shewbread, which it was not
lawful for him to eat, nor for those with him, but for the priests only? Or
have ye not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple
profane the Sabbath and are blameless? But I say unto you, that there is
here what is greater than the temple. But if ye had known what is: I will
have mercy and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.
For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."

     The incident quoted by our Lord from David's life we find recorded in
1 Sam. 21. How then is this incident to be applied? David was forced, as
the rejected one, though God's anointed king, to enter the house of God and
do what was not lawful for him to do. David's hunger and the hunger of
those who were with him is but a type of the greater One than David and His
disciples passing through the cornfield hungry and obliged to pluck ears of
corn to eat. The sad scene on that Sabbath day was evidence enough that the
people did not care for the little group headed by the King. When David was
rejected and a fugitive, the holy things connected with the ceremonials
given to Israel by God ceased to be holy. The sin was David's rejection,
and this made the consecrated shewbread common, as David said to the High
Priest, "the bread is, as it were common, yea, though it were sanctified
this day in the vessel" (1 Sam. 21:5). The rejection of God's anointed had
profaned all. This is the thought our Lord expressed to the Pharisees. They
had rejected Him. They had no love for Him nor cared for Him. How
ridiculous for these hyprocrites to speak of Sabbathkeeping when they were
rejecting the Lord of the Sabbath! They were straining at a gnat and
swallowing a camel. How much of this pharisaical, hypocritical spirit we
have about us in Christendom. The divinity of the Bible, as well as the
Lord and His redemption work, is denied by many professing Christians, who
hold still outward forms, rituals, keeping of holidays and ceremonials. But
even the priests profaned the Sabbath and were blameless. What did our Lord
mean by this? The priests had to bring sacrifices on the Sabbath day. "And
on the Sabbath day two lambs of the first year without spot, and two-tenth
deals of flour for a meat offering, mingled with oil, and the drink
offering thereof" -- thus the law commanded (Num. 28:9). This demanded
work, and according to the law and their interpretation of it, it was
forbidden on the Sabbath, yet the priests, though they profaned the
Sabbath, were held blameless. Grace was fully typified in these sacrifices
and Grace working is above the law and does away with the legal covenant.
Our Lord surely indicates here the time when laws and ceremonials were to
find their end in Him who is "greater than the temple." He had come as the
true priest and the true sacrifice to do that which the blood of bulls and
goats could never do; that is, to take away sin and bring the Sabbath, the
rest. He is the Lord of the Sabbath and that as Son of Man, in His
humiliation and in His exaltation. But alas! they would not understand Him
nor know what it meant, "I will have mercy and not sacrifice." There was no
answer from the Pharisees. The declaration of Himself as the Lord of the
Sabbath, the One who is above the Sabbath, must have inflamed the hatred in
their hearts still more. And so we see Him going away from thence. However,
He did not turn His back upon them. It is a lingering, patient love we
learn of Him here. He turns His blessed feet towards their synagogue. How
reluctant to leave them in their dreadful condition of enmity against Him!

     A man is present with a withered hand. They desire now to find some
new ground of accusation again Him. Their first attempt had failed. He had
read their evil thoughts, and by His answer He had shown that He
anticipated the question they now put to Him, "Is it lawful to heal on the
Sabbath?" Awful motive, which stands alongside of the question, showing the
depths of Satan "that they might accuse Him." The question also discloses
the fact that they believed in His healing power. We may well imagine the
scene in that synagogue. The Lord in His divine calmness, the unfortunate
man with the withered hand, the malicious, accusing Pharisees with their
Satanic desire. And now the stillness broken by His voice, "What man shall
there be of you who has one sheep, and if this fall into a pit on the
Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and raise it up?" There was no answer; of
course none could stand up and declare he would not deliver his one sheep
out of the pit. "How much better then is a man than a sheep! So that it is
lawful to do well on the Sabbath." What a divine logic! How unanswerable
this statement!

     But it is not His Word alone. He has divine power to heal him who has
heard His words. His glory as Jehovah, the King Immanuel, is to shine forth
once more. He says to the man, "Stretch out thy hand!" Faith answers to His
Word, and he stretcheth it out, and it was restored sound as the other. It
was faith to stretch out a withered hand in answer to His Word and precious
are the lessons we may learn from it for the life by faith to which we are
called, ever living and acting in obedience to His Word. Yet we pass over
that which is so plainly seen on the surface and add but a few words of
what this miracle stands for in this dispensational Gospel. The man with
the withered hand is a type of poor, withered Israel, withered spiritually
and nationally. He had come to restore, but, unlike the man, Israel had no
faith. Yet the day is coming when Israel will answer in faith and healing
will follow.

     The Pharisees beaten by His words and deed go out of the synagogue. In
their dark councils for the first time they came together to find a way how
to destroy Him.

     How great the blindness which began to settle upon them! How could
they destroy Him, who had raised the dead? How could they take His life,
who is the true God and the eternal life? And even if there and then, in
their dark counsels, they had found a way, according to their conception,
to destroy Him, they could never have touched His life, for our Lord's body
was not subject to mortality, His body in His humiliation was immortal, for
He knew no sin. And while they kept their blind endeavors to themselves, He
was not ignorant of it. "But Jesus, knowing it, withdrew thence, and great
crowds followed Him and He healed them all and charged them strictly that
they should not make Him publicly known" (verses 15, 16). The withdrawal of
Himself from the scene and the presence of the Pharisees indicated His
withdrawal from the nation itself, the result of His rejection.

     This is made clear by the quotation from the Scriptures which follows:
"That that might be fulfilled which was spoken through Esaias the prophet,
saying: "Behold my servant, whom I have chosen, my beloved, in whom my soul
has found its delight. I will put my Spirit upon Him, and He shall show
forth judgment to the nations. He shall not strive or cry out, nor shall
anyone hear His voice in the streets; a bruised reed shall He not break,
and smoking flax shall He not quench, until He bringeth forth judgment unto
victory; and in His name shall the nations hope" (verses 17-21). These
verses are found in Isaiah 42:1-4. He who knew the Scriptures and who had
come to fulfill the prophecies relating to His sufferings, whose constant
desire was to do the will of Him who sent Him, that the Scripture might be
fulfilled -- what comfort and encouragement must have come to Him through
these words, which His own Spirit had revealed to Isaiah. The rejection of
Him by His own was imminent. They were turning away from Him and accusing
Him, but He knew Himself as the chosen One, the Beloved, His Father's love
and delight upon Him. Thus in the midst of the enemies with their wicked
accusations and persecutions He could be calm, His perfect trust in Him,
whose Beloved He was, well pleasing to Him.

     Our way, as His own, should not be different from this. In the midst
of tribulations and adversities, surrounded by the enemy, we can be calm,
and more than that, rejoice.

     He, as the servant of Jehovah, did not strive. Why should He strive as
the One who put His trust in Jehovah? And thus it is written of the
servant, His follower, "the servant of the Lord must not strive, but be
gentle to all." (2 Tim. 2:24.) Gentleness as foretold was to be found in
Him. How gentle and loving He must have been? Can we ever think too much of
His patience and gentleness? The bruised reed He did not break. The weakest
thing He took tenderly in His hands. The smoking flax was not quenched by
Him. In the Epistle of our practical walk in Christ we are exhorted, "let
your gentleness be known of all men." (Phil. 4:5). He in us will reproduce
the very same characteristic in our lives here on the earth.

     But the force of the quotation lies in the fact that the Gentiles, the
nations are mentioned. The fulfillment in its completeness will take place,
no doubt, at the time of His second Coming, but here the Holy Spirit uses
it in still another way. Israel had begun to reject Him and now the
Gentiles shall hear of God's gift and grace. The passage is introduced by
the Spirit of God in a way as He only could do it.

     Another one possessed by a demon is brought before Him. Most likely He
had returned from the withdrawal recorded above, and once more the
Pharisees are present. The possessed one is blind and dumb. Was he not a
perfect picture of the nation Israel? Blind and dumb was their condition.
Again He manifests Himself as Lord and He healed the demon possessed man,
so that the dumb spoke and saw. No wonder that all the crowds were amazed
and said, "Is this the Son of David?" They must have meant by this cry the
Messiah, for they expected Him under the title of the Son of David. Still
the question also implies doubt.

     And here they stand again, these dark and cunning Pharisees. They have
heard it. Perhaps the cry, "Is this the Son of David?" reached their ear.
Moved with jealousy, anger, malice and Satanic hatred against Him whose
omnipotent power was once more manifested, they said: "This man does not
cast out demons but by Beelzebub, prince of demons."

     The accusation had been made before by them (9:34) when it was passed
over by the Lord, but now, after the repeated manifestations of His power,
after their hatred culminated in seeking His life, the awful blasphemy is
to be rebuked by Him. Cowards they were, as it is seen that they did not
dare to bring the accusation to His face. How could they dare to stand
before Him? So He reads again their very thoughts, a miracle in itself,
which should have startled them. His answer to their Satanic thoughts
consists in two very logical arguments. "Every kingdom divided against
itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against
itself will not subsist. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided
against himself, how then shall his kingdom subsist?" (verses 25-26). This
is very clear. Satan casting out Satan would mean a division in his awful
domain, which would mean its complete ruin and overthrow. It is, therefore,
inconceivable that the Devil could furnish the power to destroy his own
kingdom which he controls. The passage is full of meaning aside from the
argument it contains. He who knoweth all things in perfect knowledge tells
us that Satan is a person and a king, for he has a kingdom over which he
rules. The demons are in his kingdom, one with the head in thought and
purpose. (The translation "devils" is not correct. There is one devil, but
the fallen angels are demons.) How little we know of his awful power, of
his kingdom and the agencies at his command to destroy body and soul. We
need not know it all, it is sufficient to know that he is an enemy
overcome, his kingdom is spoiled by the victor, by Him who has annulled
him, who has the power of death, that is the Devil.

     Higher Criticism claims that our Lord acquiesced in the legendary
belief of the Jews, a belief they had picked up in Babylon, that there
existed a personal Devil and demons under him. This foolish, infidel
theory, which is nowadays held by so many preachers and theological
professors, is almost as blasphemous as the accusation of the Pharisees. If
our Lord knew better than what the Jews held, and He did not correct their
views, and if He did not know that their belief was incorrect, then in
neither case could He be divine. This is Higher Criticism, the denial of
the infallibility and divinity of the living and the written Word. The
second argument against their evil thoughts is the following:

     "And if I cast out demons, by Beelzebub, your sons by whom do they
cast them out? For this reason they shall be your judges" (verse 27).

     Among the Jews there were and are still such who profess to be
exorcists, men who claim to have power to cast out demons. We cannot follow
certain traditional teachings of the Jews concerning exorcism at this time.
Some of them were wandering exorcists, going from place to place professing
to cast out demons. Such are they who are mentioned in Acts 19:13: "And
certain of the Jewish exorcists also, who went about, took in hand to call
upon those who had wicked spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, I
adjure you by Jesus, whom Paul preaches." Perhaps those who are mentioned
elsewhere, who drove out demons using the name of the Lord and did not
follow Him, were exorcists. Certain it is the Lord did not mean His own
disciples upon whom He had conferred the power to cast out demons in His
name; He meant the school of Pharisees, who practiced, or claimed to
practice, exorcism. The question put to them by our Lord demanded an answer
which they cared not to give, for it would have been to their own
condemnation.

     And so He continues with His perfect argumentation, driving it home to
their hearts, as only He could do it. "But if I by the Spirit of God cast
out demons, then indeed the Kingdom of God is come upon you." It is
impossible that Satan could cast out Satan. There remains, then, only one
other alternative; the Spirit of God casts out the demons. Then, indeed,
the Kingdom is come upon you in the person of the King who manifests this
power. Alas! they knew it, but they would not have Him and the Kingdom He
preached.

     And still His voice is heard: "Or else, can anyone enter into the
house of the strong man and plunder his goods, unless he first bind the
strong man? And then he will plunder his house."

     The strong man is Satan, but the Lord, stronger than Satan, had bound
him and has the power to enter his domain and take away his prey. Who then
is He who bound the enemy? Perhaps His voice rested here. Perhaps He waited
for an answer. "Thou art Christ the Son of the living God" would have been
in order here.

     And stronger still He speaks. "He that is not with me is against me,
and he that gathers not with me scatters." He demands decision.
Half-heartedness does not satisfy Him and in face of such open-faced
accusations and blasphemies would be impossible. It was an appeal to
decide. In our day in which we live, out and out decision is not less
demanded. Phariseeism and Sadduceeism, the leaven is working about us and
to be undecided is paramount with dishonoring His own glorious person.

     "For this reason I say unto you, every sin and injurious speaking
shall be forgiven to men but speaking injuriously of the Spirit shall not
be forgiven to men. And whosoever shall have spoken a word against the Son
of man, it shall be forgiven him, but whosoever shall speak against the
Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this age nor in the
coming one."

     Much has been said and written on this passage and on the question of
the unpardonable sin. Many who had lived in open sin and worldly lusts,
having been arrested by the grace of God, almost despaired for they feared
they had committed that sin and now in spite of their repentance
forgiveness was an impossibility for them. This wrong conclusion is often
preached in so called "revival meetings" to bring sinners to accept Christ.
Believers who fell in sin likewise have thought that after sinning with
open eyes, wilfully, they had been guilty of the unpardonable sin. How many
poor, ignorant souls have grieved for weeks and months thinking the Holy
Spirit had now left them for good. But the Holy Spirit once given to the
believer in believing on Christ has come as the abiding Comforter. He has
come to stay and never, no never, to leave that which He has sealed. The
Spirit may be grieved, He may be quenched, but never can He be driven away
so that the true believer would fall back and be lost.

     This widespread doctrine of falling from grace in the sense of the
believer's possibility to be lost dishonors Christ and His work for us. But
some one says: "Did not David pray: And take not the Holy Spirit from me?"
Certainly he did, and it was in order for him to pray thus for the Holy
Spirit might have left him, for He was not then in the earth with believers
as the abiding comforter. The believer in the New Testament is never
exhorted to pray to the Spirit to remain with him. He is to be filled with
the Spirit and continually guard against grieving the Spirit or not to
quench Him, but never to doubt His presence. All these wrong conceptions
spring from a deplorable ignorance of the fundamentals of the blessed
Gospel of the Grace of God.

     And now what is this sin of which our Lord speaks here? In His coming
to His own people, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit were manifested.
The Holy Spirit in His power was manifested through the Son, our Lord, upon
whom He was in His fullness. The signs He did were not alone done in His
own omnipotent power as Jehovah, they were the manifestation of the Holy
Spirit likewise. And these Pharisees had sinned against this Holy Spirit by
accusing Christ, that He drove out the demons by Satanic power. They had
blasphemed the Spirit, spoken injuriously about Him, in saying that
Beelzebub, the prince of demons, was present with Christ and not the Holy
Spirit. This they did maliciously. And this and nothing else is the sin of
which our Lord here speaks. The sin is to charge the Lord with doing His
miracles through Satanic power and not through the Holy Spirit. We do
believe, therefore, that this sin could only be committed as long as our
Lord Jesus Christ was in the earth and that it was committed by the
Pharisees with their blasphemies. This is the sin which would not be
forgiven neither in this age nor in the coming one. In 1 John 5:16-17, we
read, "If any one see his brother sinning, a sin not unto death, he shall
ask, and he shall give him life, for those that do not sin unto death.
There is a sin to death. I do not say of that that he should make a
request." This is to be explained in the following way. The brother is a
believer. On account of sinning he is chastised. God permits sickness to
come upon him and the sinning not having been unto death (physical death
only) he is raised up. However, a believer may go on wilfully sinning and
remain there dishonoring Christ. He is to be taken away out of the land of
the living, cut off by death. No request could be made for such a one. The
question of death is not eternal condemnation but only physical death.

     From the fact of the sin these Pharisees were doing, the blasphemy
against the Holy Spirit, the Lord now turns to the cause of this, the
spring from which the evil comes. "Either make the tree good, and its fruit
good; or make the tree corrupt, and its fruit corrupt. For from the fruit
the tree is known. Offspring of vipers! how can ye speak good things, being
wicked?" (verses 33-34). The Searcher of hearts, He who understandeth the
thoughts afar off, uncovers the real condition of these men and the
condition of man in general. The tree is bad, the fruit must be bad. The
tree must be made good, and that denotes a change, and the fruit will be
good. "The heart is deceitful above all, and desperately wicked; who can
know it? I, the Lord, search the heart" (Jer. 17:9, 10). He does it here
and speaks of them as John, the forerunner did, as "offspring of vipers,"
with wicked hearts and impossible to bring forth anything good. And, later,
once more He spoke of the condition of the heart of man, "For out of the
heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts,
false witness, blasphemies" (Matt. 15:19). How little those Pharisees, and
Sadducees as well, believed in this and how unwilling they were to accept
the sentence and verdict of Him, who knoweth all things. They were given to
their ceremonial, ritualistic observances, very scrupulous about their
phylacteries and fringes of their garments, making long prayers, keeping
the outside of the cup and the platter clean, but never acknowledging the
condition of the heart before the Searcher of Hearts. Self-righteous,
moral, religious and, with it all, "offspring of vipers." All their
religious observances and outward morality did not and could not effect a
change. And so they stood before Him whose finger had written the law,
boasting in the keeping of the law and rejecting the Lord, blaspheming
against the Holy Spirit.

     The leaven of the Pharisees is still at work. This leaven has
leavened, indeed, the whole lump. Ritualistic, religious, moral
Christendom, professing, and not possessing, is the direct descendant of
the Pharisee of old and as such the offspring of vipers as much as they
were. How little the radical, complete corruption of man is believed in
Christendom, how little it is taught. Man with the good spark in him (as
they claim), developing it by religiousness and the use of his own will,
becomes and is his own Saviour. The Lord is looked upon not as Lord, but as
Jesus of Nazareth, whose life is an example, while the atonement, the
blood, is set aside and rejected. The wicked heart cannot bring forth good
things. Fine and polished, sweet and harmonious, may be the language of the
cultured, religious, unsaved man, but proceeding from an evil heart it can
never please God. "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
The good man out of the good treasure brings forth good things and the
wicked man out of the wicked treasure brings forth wicked things. But I say
unto you that every idle word which men shall say, they shall render an
account of it in judgment day; for by thy words thou shalt be justified,
and by thy words thou shalt be condemned"
(verses 35-37).

     These words have been misunderstood and much misapplied and all this
by wresting these words out of their connection. They are mostly applied in
connection with that unscriptural phrase and doctrine, "universal
judgment." According to this, even the words will be weighed and judged,
and only then in that hour of judgment, will it be known, according to this
teaching, who will be saved and who is lost. Our Lord did not teach this
here nor is it taught anywhere else. These Pharisees were proud of their
works and were self-righteous. If they relied on their works as a means of
their justification and salvation they have to expect a judgment
accordingly; every idle word is to be judged, which means utter, absolute
condemnation. Their words could not be good because they were wicked. May
the self-righteous, religious man remember this. Absolute condemnation
awaits him. Salvation is by grace, and by that salvation man receives a
good treasure and brings forth good things. Out of the abundance of the
heart the mouth then speaks. Furthermore, the word "idle" means useless,
barren. All that which man speaks out of himself is barren and useless. The
believer, however, living after the Spirit, will not utter useless words,
but that which is in honor of the Son of God. As believers, we should bear
constantly in mind that we must all appear before the judgment seat of
Christ, not for a decision of eternal salvation, this was settled when the
believer trusted in Christ, but for rewards. Surely then our deeds, our
works and our words will be either approved or disapproved.

     "By thy words thou shalt be justified and by thy words thou shalt be
condemned." This has also a reference to the familiar passage in Romans 10:
"If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in
thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."
And wherever there is not this confession springing from the belief of the
heart there is condemnation.

     The scene is now drawing to its close. The hard-heartedness of the
Pharisees is seen by some of them coming after such words, saying, Teacher,
we desire to see a sign from Thee. Whatever evil design they had in asking
him thus we do not know. He had done sign upon sign and they had ample
proofs of His divinity. Upon such an evil, unbelieving request He can only
utter His righteous indignation. So He calls them a wicked and adulterous
generation. "A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and a
sign shall not be given to it save the sign of Jonas the prophet. For, even
as Jonas was in the great fish three days and three nights, thus shall the
Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.
Ninevites shall stand up in the judgment with this generation, and shall
condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and behold more
than Jonas is here" (verses 38-41). This is a most significant passage. How
far the Pharisees believed the story of Jonas we do not know. The Sadducees
no doubt rejected the book of Jonah, for they were the rationalists and
critics of their day. It is significant for us in our day when the judgment
to fall upon apostate Christendom is so near, nothing is more ridiculed
than the book of Jonah and its sublime teachings. The Sadducees of the
present day, the higher critics, assume to know more than the Lord, and by
rejecting the book of Jonah as uninspired they reject the infallible Lord
Himself. But why does our Lord mention Jonah here? Because Jonah is a type
of the death and resurrection of our Lord. Jonah is the only prophet who
was sent away from Israel's land far unto the Gentiles, to the great and
ungodly city of Nineveh. However, before he went there, he passed through a
death experience and out of that grave in which he was brought he was taken
again, a type of resurrection. Through it God brought salvation to the
Gentiles, for Jonah, after his death and resurrection experience proclaimed
the message of God. So the Lord was going away from Israel. He was soon to
leave them, and the grace of God was to go out towards the Gentile world.
Yet before that could be He had to go into the jaws of death, and, like
Jonah, was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so
was He to be the same length of time in the grave, but also to come forth
in resurrection. He was preached, after His resurrection, to the Jew first;
but while Nineveh repented after the message of Jonah, that wicked and
adulterous generation did not repent of their course, after the preaching
through Him, who is greater than Jonah. Therefore the Ninevites will rise
up and condemn that generation. Jonah is likewise a type of the whole
nation, which, however, is not before us in this chapter. (See our tract on
"Jonah and the Whale," where the dispensational side is expounded.) The
Queen of Sheba also will condemn that generation, she came to hear the
wisdom of Solomon and here stands He who is the Wisdom and they reject Him,
who imparted to the wise King the wisdom he had.

     And this is followed by a prediction by our Lord which concerns the
future of that generation. "But when the unclean spirit has gone out of the
man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and does not find it. Then
he says, I will return to my house whence I came out; and having come he
finds it unoccupied, swept and adorned. Then he goes and takes with himself
seven other spirits worse than himself, and entering in, they dwell there;
and the last condition of that man becomes worse than the first. Thus it
shall be to this wicked generation also" (verses 43-45). All kinds of
interpretations and applications have been made of this prediction. It is,
however, clear that there is but one application, and that is in respect to
the unbelieving generation. "Thus shall it be to this wicked generation
also" -- settles the point of application. Generation is certainly to be
understood in the sense of race. The unclean spirit is idolatry. It had
left the nation, and even now the nation is swept from that evil spirit and
unoccupied, and boasts of reform. It will not be so forever. The unclean
spirit will return and bring seven others with him and take possession of
that house again, and the last condition, the end, becomes worse than the
beginning. The return of the unclean spirit with its seven companions will
take place during the great tribulation.

     The end of the rejection of our Lord by His own has come. He has
outlined their dreadful end, and to which Israel's unbelief is rapidly
leading on, and now follows a pathetic ending of this great crisis. "But
while He was yet speaking to the crowds, behold His mother and His brethren
stood without, seeking to speak to Him. Then one said to Him, Behold Thy
mother and Thy brethren are standing without, seeking to speak to Thee. But
He answered and said to him who had spoken to Him, Who is My mother and who
are My brethren? And stretching out His hand to His disciples, He said,
Behold My mother and My brethren; for whosoever shall do the will of My
Father who is in the heavens, he is My brother and sister and mother." From
Mark's Gospel we learn the possible reason of His relatives coming to Him.
"And His relatives having heard of it went out to lay hold of Him, for they
said, He is out of His mind" (Mark 3:21).

     He refuses to see them. Behind this refusal stands the fact of a
broken relationship. He no longer recognizes His own, and speaks of a new
relationship, founded upon obedience to the will of His Father in the
heavens.

                                   _259


                               CHAPTER XIII

     We have now reached one of the most important chapters in this Gospel.
It demands, therefore, our closest attention, and this more so because the
revelation which our Lord gives here, the unfolding of the mysteries of the
kingdom of the heavens, has been and still is grossly misunderstood and
falsely interpreted. Precisely that which our Lord did not mean has been
read into this chapter. The whole chapter has been, so to speak, turned
upside down by most of the learned commentators of Christendom. For any
believer to turn to these for light and instruction will only result in
getting thoroughly confused. We have often said if this one chapter would
be rightly understood by the professing church, the consequences would be
the most far-reaching. But one almost despairs of seeing the true meaning
of the mystery of the kingdom in Matthew 13 believed in Christendom. The
professing mass continues, and will continue, with the majority of those
who are not merely outward professors, to build upon the misinterpretation
of our Lord's parables the optimistic dreams of the enlargement of the
church, the foreshadowing of the universal extension of the church and the
continued good work of the leaven in the three measures of meal, etc. We
have found in our experience, that it is hard to get the individual
believer, brought up in these wrong conceptions, to see the true meaning;
and often the testimony given is rejected. Let us then carefully and
prayerfully look into the chapter before us, and may our Lord give His
blessing; and while the many may reject what we teach from these parables
it may be a few receive light through the entrance of His Word, and may all
believers in these truths be strengthened.

     Let us notice, first of all, two verses in this chapter; "Because to
you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of the heavens, but to
them it is not given" (verse 11); "All these things Jesus spoke to the
crowds in parables, and without a parable He did not speak to them, so that
it might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophets saying, I will
open my mouth in parables; I will utter things hidden from the world's
foundation" (verses 34-35). These verses then tell us what our Lord makes
known in this chapter, namely "the mysteries of the kingdom of the heavens"
-- "Things uttered, which were hidden from the world's foundation."

     In Genesis we read of one who is called "Zaphnath-paaneah" which,
according to rabbinical interpretation, means "Revealer of secrets." He is
Joseph, the Hebrew lad rejected by his brethren, that most perfect type of
our Lord. After his rejection by his brethren, Joseph becomes the revealer
of the secrets, and that through the wisdom of God.

     Here in this chapter Christ appears as the rejected one, and now after
the offer of the kingdom is rejected by the people of the kingdom, and He
as king, is likewise rejected, He becomes the revealer of the secrets, to
show what will take place after the Kingdom has been rejected by Israel,
and postponed.

     That He is the rejected one and the far-reaching witness He gives now
is evident in the very opening verses. "And that same day Jesus went out
from the house and sat down by the sea." Leaving the house means He severed
His relation with His people as we saw at the close of the twelfth chapter.
Taking His place by the sea, the sea typifying nations, shows that His
testimony to be given now, the mysteries to be revealed have a wider
sphere; they are relative to the nations. "And great crowds were gathered
together to Him, so that going on board ship He sat down, and the whole
crowd stood on the shore." He separated Himself from the multitude, while
in the first part of this Gospel He moves in the midst of the multitudes,
here He takes His place alone. What a scene it must have been! There on the
seashore the multitude, and He alone some ways from the shore -- He cannot
be reached by touch now. All is significant. Then when all eyes hang upon
His lips, He began to speak.

     What He says is in parables, and without parables He did not speak to
them. He utters seven parables. In no other Gospel do we find them grouped
together as here. Why is this? This is the great dispensational Gospel.
Here God's plan of the ages is revealed as in no other Gospel. We have seen
before that the Holy Spirit in giving us this Gospel, the Genesis of the
New Testament, is not tied down to chronological order, but He arranges
everything to suit His sublime purpose. After the kingdom was offered and
rejected, the Lord makes known what is to be after this rejection, and
during the time of His absence. Therefore these parables, seven in number,
denoting completeness, are put right in here.

     Now the important question is when the Lord says six times in these
parables, "The kingdom of the heavens is like" what does He mean by the
term "Kingdom of the heavens?" That it can no longer mean the kingdom as it
is revealed in the Old Testament, as it is promised to Israel, and as He
offered it to the people, is evident. For in the first place, the offer was
made and rejected. The preaching of Him and the messengers He sent out was,
"The kingdom of the heavens is at hand, repent." Not a word do we hear of
this in the thirteenth chapter, nor after this chapter. And in the second
place, if our Lord had had the Old Testament kingdom promised to Israel in
view, when He says here "The Kingdom of the heavens is like," He could not
have said that He uttered things hidden from the world's foundation, for
the kingdom, in the Old Testament is not a mystery, but clearly revealed.

     Some say, and indeed the popular and almost universally accepted
interpretation is -- it is the church. The Lord begins now to teach about
the church. So that if He says: "The kingdom of the heavens is like leaven,
which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal," etc., it is declared
the church is meant, and the Gospel. The church is nowhere called the
kingdom of the heavens. Oh, the great confusion which exists on this topic.
The Lord mentions the word church only [twice] in the Gospel, and it is in
Matthew 16:18 where He says that He will build His church. The church did
not exist in the Old Testament, it was not known there at all; it was not
in existence while the Lord walked in the earth, and nowhere does He refer
to the church as the kingdom of the heavens, neither does the Holy Spirit
speak of the church as the kingdom. He speaks of the church as the
habitation of God, a house, a temple, the body of Christ and the Bride of
Christ, but we repeat it, never as the kingdom of the heavens. All this
modern application of kingdom of the heavens to the church is foreign to
the Word of God. It is the unscriptural theory of man.

     But what does our Lord mean when He says "the kingdom of the heavens?"
The answer is a very simple one. The kingdom on the one hand was rejected
by Israel, but on the other hand, God gives His Word to the Gentiles, a
fact indicated in the Old Testament prophetic Word.

     The mercy and grace offered to Israel is to go forth to the Gentiles,
the nations, while the King Himself is absent. This is indicated in the
first parable where the sower went out, which stands for the fact of His
going forth into the field, which is the world. So that which is extended
to the Gentiles and that in which the name of Christ is confessed is now
the kingdom of the heavens, and of this development of what He the Lord
from heaven brought and left in the earth, our Lord speaks in these
parables. In one word "the kingdom of the heavens" in Matthew is equivalent
with "Christendom." It includes the whole sphere of Christian profession
saved and unsaved, so-called Romanists and Protestants, all who are naming
the name of Christ. Therefore the church is not the kingdom of the heavens,
though the church is in the kingdom of the heavens.

     The Lord teaches in the seven parables how matters will go in the
earth while He is not here, and what men will do with that which He brought
from heaven and left in the hands of men.

     Before we take up the parables separately we must consider their
general character. The seven parables are first divided into four and
three. The first four He speaks before the multitudes. Then after He
dismissed the crowds, He went into the house and in the presence of the
disciples He utters the three last parables. These three last ones, the
treasure hid in the field, the pearl of great price and the dragnet, have a
deeper spiritual meaning than the first. The first two parables our Lord
explains Himself to His disciples; the other five He leaves unexplained.

     They may also be divided in the following way by twos:

     1. The sower who went out to sow.


     2. The enemy sowing tares, the spurious seed.

     These refer in part to the beginning of the kingdom of the heavens in
the hands of men, however the conditions pictured here last to the end, the
time of the harvest.

     3. The parable of the mustard seed.

     4. The parable of the leaven.

     These foretell the external and internal development of the kingdom of
the heavens, the progress is described and it is an unnatural and evil
progress.

     5. The parable of the treasure hid in the field.

     6. The parable of the one pearl.

     These stand for the two mysteries of the kingdom, God's earthly people
hid in the field, the church the one pearl for which He has given all.
First the pearl is taken, then the treasure is lifted in the field.

     7. The parable of the dragnet.

     It stands isolated, and refers to the end of the kingdom of the
heavens in its mystery form.

     Still another way of looking at them would be to compare them with the
seven church messages in Rev. 2 and 3. Here the Lord speaks again, and this
speaking is from the glory. In the seven messages we learn the beginning,
the progress and the end of this present Christian age. It is the history
of Christendom, the kingdom of the heavens.

     1. The parable of the sower -- Ephesus. The apostolic age. The
beginning with failure -- leaving the first love.

     2. The parable of the evil seed -- Smyrna, meaning bitterness. The
enemy revealed.

     3. The parable of the mustard seed -- Pergamos -- meaning high tower
and twice married. The professing church becomes big, a state institution
under Constantine the Great. The big tree and the unclean birds (nations)
find shelter there.

     4. The parable of the leaven -- Thyatira -- the one who sacrifices.
Rome and her abomination. The woman Jezebel, the harlot, corresponds to the
woman in the parable of the leaven.

     5. The parable of the treasure hid -- Sardis -- the reformation age --
having a name to live, but being dead and a remnant there. Israel, dead but
belonging to Him who has purchased the field.

     6. The parable of the Pearl -- Philadelphia. The church, the one
pearl. The one body of Christ and the removal of the church to be with Him.

     7. The parable of the dragnet -- Laodicea -- Judgment. I will spue
thee out of my mouth.

     We do not claim to teach all this exhaustively. That would take many
months, but we give these that each reader may have hints in what way to
search.

     We add but one more fact to these introductory remarks to the study of
the different parables. The key for their right interpretation is in
themselves as well as in the scriptures. The sower in the first parable and
in the second is the Son of Man. What He sows is the wheat, that which
stands throughout the scriptures for purity, for Christ himself. The Word
He is Himself and the corn of wheat; the good seed are the sons of the
kingdom. The field is the world. The enemy is the Devil. The man in the
sixth parable who buys the field (the world) is the same Son of Man and the
merchantman who sells all He has to purchase the one pearl He desires is
the same person as the Sower. It is nonsense to make out of the merchantman
and out of the man who buys the field the sinner. That would mean that the
sinner has something to give. He has not. And the field, meaning the world,
it would mean the sinner is to buy the world.

     The three measures of meal of course come from the wheat, they always
stand for that which is good. Leaven, however, never means anything good,
but it always stands for evil. The closer study of these parables, which we
now take up will bring out all this more fully.

     After having studied this important chapter in a general way, we shall
now look at the seven parables separately and to learn from them the
development of the Kingdom of the Heavens in its mystery form. Throughout
our study the dispensational aspect of the parables is to be kept strongly
in the foreground, for it is dispensational truth which is taught here.

     The first parable is the well-known one of the sower. "And he spoke to
them many things in parables, saying, Behold the sower went out to sow."
Two things attract our attention in this opening sentence of the parable.
We notice first that our Lord speaks of the sower, not of a sower, and when
He expounds the parable later to His disciples He does not tell them who
this sower is, but He only speaks of what happened to the seed He sowed.
The second thing we mention is that the sower went out.

     The personality of the sower is not difficult to clear up, for in
explaining the second parable our Lord says: "He that soweth the good seed
is the Son of Man." Our Lord Himself is the Sower. He came with the
precious seed, the fine wheat, and of course He himself is the corn of
wheat. The seed He sows can only bring forth as it falls upon good ground,
and in the ground it dies, and out of death comes the fruit. All this is
indicated here. We would, however, take this parable in the first sense to
apply to the days of our Lord in the earth. In a wider sense it must be
taken as typical of the entire age, in which He is absent from the earth
and the Kingdom is in the hands of men. The sowing He began continues
still, and the result of sowing is likewise the same.

     And what is the significance that it is written that the sower went
out to sow? It shows the beginning of something new; a new work which the
Lord now takes up. Israel had failed to yield fruit. Israel was the
vineyard of Isaiah 5. "He fenced it in, and gathered out the stones
thereof, and planted it with the choicest vines, and built a tower in the
midst of it, and also made a wine press therein; and He looked that it
should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes ... and now go
to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the
hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof,
and it shall be trodden down." (Is. 5:2-5) Israel is the fig tree of the
parable; the Lord came and found no fruit. The vineyard is laid waste and
the fig tree stands barren. It is true, it will not be always so. The vine
and the fig tree will bring fruit at last, but in the meantime, while
Israel is unfruitful, the sower has gone out to sow. Where has he gone?
Where does the sower generally deposit the seed? In the field. What is the
field? The divine interpreter gives us the answer. "The field is the
world." So we have here the fact established that after Israel failed the
Word is to go forth into the wide world, "beginning in Jerusalem unto
Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth."

     The question comes at once, what will be the result? Will all the
world receive it and every part of the entire field be cultivated? Will the
whole field be reached by the seed and the seed spring up and bear an
abundant harvest? Will not a single grain be lost? The parable has this
very thought as its center, What becomes of the seed?

     What we learn from the parable is far from teaching us the optimistic
dream of Christendom of world conversion, so often founded upon a wrong
application of these parables. The parable proves that it will not be a
universal acceptance of the Word which we can look for in this age; only
the fourth part of the seed sown brings forth fruit, and there is again a
marked difference in the quantity of fruit in that fourth part. Our Lord
then impresses here in this simple parable the fact, which later the Holy
Spirit repeats, the age in which He is absent and in which His Word is
preached and His grace is offered, that Word will be in greater part
rejected, and only a fourth part yields the fruit; the rest is failure.

     It is very significant that we meet this important dispensational fact
at the very threshold of Matthew 13. Alas! it has not been believed by the
great mass of professing Christians. To speak of failure in this age and
deny a soon coming world conversion is frowned upon as a miserable,
unbelieving pessimism. One is sometimes even accused of disbelieving the
power of the Holy Spirit to convert the whole world, as if the Holy Spirit
had been sent down from heaven for world conversion.

     But we shall now read what came from the lips of our Lord in this
parable.

     "Behold the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some grains fell
along the way, and the birds came and devoured them; and others fell upon
the rocky places where they had not much earth, and immediately they sprang
up out of the ground, because of not having any depths of earth, but when
the sun rose they were burned up, and because of not having any root were
dried up; and others fell upon the thorns, and the thorns grew up and
choked them; and others fell upon the good ground, and produced fruit, one
a hundred, one sixty, and one thirty. He that has ears let him hear"
(verses 5-9). We need not to guess the meaning of this parable for the Lord
Himself tells His disciples what He meant by the birds and the rocky place
and the thorns. And so we shall take His own explanation with such comments
which may be helpful for a fuller understanding.

     "The disciples came up to Him and said, Why speakest thou to them in
parables?" This question came at once after He had finished this first
parable. They had never heard a parable from His lips. What He had spoken
before to the people and their leaders had been in simple words, easily to
be understood by every one, and now for the first time He spoke something
which they could not comprehend. It was veiled. The answer which our Lord
gives is of great solemnity, as it announces the judgment upon Israel.

     "And He answering said to them, Because to you it is given to know the
mysteries of the Kingdom of the Heavens, but to them it is not given." The
disciples, representing believers, were to understand the mysteries coming
in now while the nation who had refused the light would be in darkness.
"For whosoever has, to him shall be given, and he shall be caused to be in
abundance. But he who has not, even what he has shall be taken away from
him." The disciples had received the Lord and He gave them more, while
Israel had not, they rejected Christ and so what they had still as His
earthly people was to be taken away from them. But this two-edged sword
cuts in another way. The principle our Lord here utters is still active.
The true believers composing the church have, and by and by we shall be
caused to be in abundance, while an apostate Christendom which has not
shall lose even what it boasts to have.

     "For this cause," our Lord continues, "I speak to them in parables,
because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear nor
understand; and in them is filled up the prophecy of Esaias, which says,
Hearing ye shall hear and shall not understand, and beholding ye shall
behold and not see; for the heart of this people has grown fat, and they
have heard heavily with their ears, and they have closed their eyes as
asleep, lest they should see with the eyes, and hear with the ears, and
understand with the heart, and should be converted, and I should heal
them." This passage is a quotation from Isaiah 6:9-10. Isaiah saw in a
vision Jehovah sitting upon a throne, and He spoke these words to the
prophet. If we turn to the 12th chapter in the Gospel of John we find these
words quoted again, and there is the significant addition, "These things
said Esaias, when he saw His glory, and spoke of Him" (John 12:40). The
Jehovah Isaiah saw upon His throne was our Lord Jesus Christ. Once more do
we read the same words brought to remembrance by the Holy Spirit. In the
last chapter of Acts, when Israel's apostasy and unbelief is fully
established, Paul speaks them to the assembled Jews and adds, "Be it known
therefore unto you that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles and
they will hear."

     And now after our Lord declares them blessed on account of what they
see and hear, He explains the parable Himself.

     "Ye, therefore, hear the parable of the sower. From every one who
hears the word of the Kingdom and does not understand it, the wicked one
comes and catches away what was sown in his heart; this is he that is sown
at the wayside" (vv. 18-19).

     How easy is it then understood. The wayside is hard and trodden down
by feet, there the seed fell and birds were ready to snatch it up and
devour it.

     A hearer or a class of hearers is given here who do not understand the
Word. But is it the question of mental capacity of an intellectual
understanding? Certainly not. The Lord says the word was "sown in the
heart;" it had directed itself to the conscience and could either be
accepted or rejected. But the heart would not have it and turned against
it; "and does not understand it," means "he would not understand or receive
it." No sooner is this the case and the seed has fallen upon such a ground,
a hard heart like the wayside, then the birds come and devour the seed. The
birds represent the wicked one. He is present with his agencies and busy to
take up whatever was given and rejected. Once more do we read in this
chapter of birds; it is in the third parable, that of the mustard seed. The
birds there mean nothing good but that which is evil, like in the first
parable.

     "But he that is sown on the rocky places -- this is he that hears the
Word and immediately receives it with joy, but has no root in himself, but
is for a time only; and when tribulation happens on account of the Word, he
is immediately offended" (vv. 20-21).


     The rocky ground is lightly covered with earth. There is a sudden
springing up, an enthusiastic reception one might say, which pushes itself
along. But the sun rises higher, the heat is felt, and there is no
resistance, no life to combat these conditions; the delicate thing drops
over and is burned up. It had no roots. This little earth on top of the
rock may well represent the natural heart of man as the way trodden by men
represents it. Only here is the brightest side of the flesh, if one can
speak of it in such a way. But behind that little earth is the solid rock,
which no plow has broken and where no life is present. How large is this
class? It is the great class of professing Christians. They are covering
over this old, desperately wicked heart with a little earth. They put on
the form of Godliness, while they know nothing of its power. There is also
a great deal of enthusiasm, a springing up of the seed; it looks almost as
if there is to be a great result -- but alas! there is only the name to
live, but death is behind it.

     "When the sun rose they were burned up." May we not apply this word
also dispensationally? The rocky ground sowers will flourish, and they
flourish and increase now with their empty profession and their
enthusiastic show at religiousness and world improvement. But the sun will
rise, tribulation will come. The great tribulation and the judgments, which
precede the rising of the Sun of Righteousness will burn them up and sweep
them away.

     "And he that is sown among the thorns, this is he who hears the Word,
and the anxious care of this life and the deceit of riches choke the Word
and he becomes unfruitful" (verse 22).

     This is so plain that it needs hardly any comment at all. "The deceit
of riches" hinder the growth of the Word. It becomes choked and there is no
fruit. How true this is of the present day we all know. The world, the
pleasures of the earth, cares and anxiety in getting as much as possible of
these phantom things seems to control more and more the outwardly
professing masses. All that is of God becomes choked.

     Thus we see in these three classes, in which the seed perishes and
brings no fruit, the Devil, the Flesh and the World represented. The Devil
snatches up and devours, the Flesh attempts and fails, the World surrounds
and chokes. And yet how much else might be said in connection with these
three classes! No human being could have spoken such a simple parable with
such a deep and far reaching meaning. The Revealer of Secrets speaks, who
knows the hidden things.

     "But he that is sown upon the good ground, this is he who hears and
understands the Word, who bears fruit also and produces one a hundred, one
sixty, and one thirty" (verse 23). Hearing, understanding, which is in
faith and through faith, fruitbearing and producing, this is the process of
the seed in the good ground, a receptive heart prepared by the Grace of
God.


     We come now to the second parable, in which we find the Kingdom of the
heavens mentioned. It was not mentioned in connection with the first
parable of the sower. "Another parable set He before them, saying, The
Kingdom of the heavens has become like a man sowing good seed in his field;
but while men slept his enemy came and sowed darnel amongst the wheat and
went away. But when the blade shot up and produced fruit then appeared the
darnel also. And the bondmen of the householder came up and said to him,
Sir, hast thou not sown good seed in thy field? Whence then has it darnel?
And he said to them, A man that is an enemy has done this. And the bondmen
said to him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather it up? But he said, No;
lest in the gathering the darnel ye should root up the wheat with it.
Suffer both to grow together unto the harvest, and in time of the harvest I
will say to the harvestmen, Gather first the darnel, and bind it into
bundles to burn it; but the wheat bring together into my granary" (verses
24-30). Again we are not left to seek for an interpretation. After he had
spoken two other parables we read that our Lord in answer to His disciples'
question tells them what He meant by the parable. To this perfect
interpretation by the divine speaker we have to turn to find the correct
and far reaching meaning of this second parable. "Then, having dismissed
the crowds, He went into the house; and His disciples came to Him, saying,
Expound to us the parable of the darnel of the field. But He answering
said, He that sows the good seed is the Son of Man, and the field is the
world and the good seed are the Sons of the Kingdom, but the darnel are the
sons of the evil one; and the enemy who has sowed it is the devil, and the
harvest is the completion of the age, and the harvestmen are angels"
(verses 36-39).

     The connection with the first parable is clear. The same sower is in
the beginning of the parable before us, and the seed is deposited in the
field, which is the world. But our Lord says, "the good seed, these are the
Sons of the Kingdom." This can mean only one thing, namely, that the good
seed sown and fallen into a good ground, as we saw in the first parable,
brings forth fruit, and the Word of the Kingdom produces the Sons of the
Kingdom. Like begets like; the fruit is according to the seed. However, the
leading thought in this parable is the enemy and his evil work. It is a
work of spite, as it is yet quite often practiced in oriental countries.
The enemy watches till his hated neighbor has deposited his seed into the
field, then he goes to work and during the night, while men sleep, and
begins to sow the bad seed of some weed. Not till the seed springs up and
grows does the unsuspecting victim see the work of the enemy. The enemy,
our Lord says, is the devil. As from the Word of the Kingdom the Sons of
the Kingdom spring forth, so from the evil seed sown by the devil come the
sons of the evil one.

     It is important to notice the time when the enemy did this and the
manner in which he attempts to counteract the work of the Sower, the Son of
Man.


     In regard to the time, we have two facts to consider. The first is: It
was immediately after the Sower had deposited the good seed; and the second
fact: It was "while men slept." No sooner had our Lord brought the truth,
and the Holy Spirit had been given, than the enemy began its work. In the
days of the Apostle Paul the work which the enemy had done became manifest,
and the evil seed, which at the end of this age is full grown, is easily
seen springing up in the beginning of the age. The mystery of iniquity
began its work then, and continues throughout the age till the end is
reached, when it is fully developed.

     It was while men slept that the enemy did it. Not the Sower slept, He
neither sleeps nor slumbers, but the men slept. Such an unwatchful
condition soon developed in the beginning of the age. The first love was
soon given up, and then the enemy did his work.

     The manner was by putting a counterfeit seed in the field. The darnel
looks in its seed like the wheat. When it springs up it cannot be
distinguished from the wheat, yet it is a poisonous weed. The darnel
represents the lie as it is put into the field by the devil. It is evil
doctrine, a counterfeit of the faith once and for all delivered unto the
saints. The denial of the Deity of our Lord, the denial of the resurrection
and the inspiration of the Bible belong to this darnel seed, which makes
itself felt in the very beginning of this Christian age.

     In a certain sense this process still continues. Whenever the truth is
proclaimed and the Word taught, it does not take long before the enemy
comes and brings the counterfeit when "men sleep." Another strong lesson we
learn from this parable is the character of this entire age. It is evil.
Satan is the god of this age till the end of the age comes. The mixed
condition of good seed and darnel seed, Sons of the Kingdom and sons of the
evil one, prevails to the very end. The servants of the bondmen were
willing to root out the darnel but were not permitted to do so. It is an
idle dream, which many hope to realize, to reform the world, to gather out
obnoxious evils, to banish drunkenness and immorality, to purify the state
and politics. Such efforts are nowhere taught in the Word of God. Men,
under Christian profession, take such work upon themselves, and they little
know how they sin and dishonor Christ with it. No, error and its fruits
will continue to grow alongside the good seed and its precious fruit till
the time of the harvest. Before we follow the thought of the harvest we
turn our attention to still another matter in connection with the first
part of this parable.

     A vital error has been committed in regard to the place where the
wheat and the darnel grow together. It has Been said to us "we cannot have
a pure church, or assembly, for the Lord Himself has said that the evil
will always be with us and that we are not to put them out who are the sons
of the evil one." This was said and is said on the supposition that our
Lord speaks of the Church. However, this is not the case. The church, the
assembly, is not before Him at all. As we have said before the Kingdom of
the heavens is not the Church. When it comes to the revelation concerning
the Church we hear our Lord say that evil is not to be tolerated in the
assembly. "If thy brother sin against thee go, reprove him between thee and
him alone. If he hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he do not
hear, take with thee one or two besides that every matter may stand upon
the word of two witnesses or of three. But if he will not listen to them,
tell it to the assembly and if also he will not listen to the assembly, let
him be to thee as one of the nations and a taxgatherer" (Chapter 18:15-17).
This is the way evil is to be treated in the assembly, or, as we generally
say, Church. In the epistles we find numerous exhortations that evil
doctrine and an evil walk contrary to the Gospel is not to be tolerated in
an assembly. The assembly is to judge evil. It is not said of the Church
"let them grow together."

     The field is not the Church, but the world, and it is in the world
that this takes place; in that part of the field where the good seed has
been sown, in the entire sphere of professing Christendom.

     The harvest is the completion of the age. Our authorized version has
it "world." This has misled many readers of the Word. The end of this world
is a good ways off yet. The end of the age in which we live is drawing
rapidly to a close. What will take place then? Our Lord says, "As then the
darnel is gathered and is burned in the fire, thus it shall be in the
completion of the age. The Son of Man shall send His angels and they shall
gather out of His Kingdom all offences, and those that practice
lawlessness, and they shall cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall
be the weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous shall shine forth
as the sun in the Kingdom of their father. He that hath ears let him hear"
(verses 40-43). Before in the parable our Lord said: "I will say to the
harvestmen, Gather first the darnel, and bind it into bundles to burn it;
but the wheat bring together into my granary."

     The completion of the age is the same as in Matthew 24, when the
disciples asked for the signs of His coming and the completion of the age.
The ending of the age will be Jewish; Jewish history resumed in the events
which fall into the last week of Daniel, the seventieth week. Of this
ending the Lord speaks. The angels will then be the harvestmen. It
corresponds to what we read in Rev. 14:14-20. "And I looked and behold a
white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of Man, having
upon His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. And another
angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on
the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle and reap; for the time is come for thee to
reap for the harvest of the earth is ripe."

     Some who teach the unscriptural theory, that the church will remain in
the earth to the very end of the age and pass through the great
tribulation, have used this parable to support their views. We repeat the
parable has nothing to do with the Church. When our Lord speaks of the
bundling up of the darnel and the gathering of the wheat into the granary,
He did not teach that the wheat is the Church or represents the Church, and
that the gathering in of the Church is to be His last act in this age. The
wheat, of course, is the good seed, the good seed are the Sons of the
Kingdom. That all true believers are the good seed and as such Sons of the
Kingdom none would doubt. Yet, after the Church is removed from the earth,
before the completion of the age, as foretold in prophecy, begins, there
will still be wheat in the earth. There will still be sowing. Indeed it
will then be "the Word of the Kingdom" which is preached. The Gospel of the
Kingdom will be proclaimed during that end and the seed will spring up. A
great multitude will come out of that great tribulation having washed their
robes in the blood of the Lamb. This multitude will be gathered in the time
when the darnel are bundled up, preparatory to the burning. The wheat,
these Sons of the Kingdom, will be gathered into His granary, kept and
preserved for the Kingdom to be established in the earth. "Then the
righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father."
This reminds us very strongly of the language of Matthew 25:34. "Come ye
blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the
foundation of the World." These words are not addressed to the church, but
to that multitude come out of all nations (Rev. 7) and the Kingdom is not
the heavenly glory but the earthly Kingdom. The Church, her heavenly
calling and destination, we repeat again, is not in view at all in this
second parable.

     Let us hold fast the three great facts the parable teaches. These are,
as we have seen, the following:

     1. The enemy, the devil, began his work in the beginning of the age.

     2. The age is mixed, good and evil grow together. This condition
cannot be changed throughout the age.

     3. The mixed condition will cease with the completion of the age. The
Sons of the Kingdom will inherit the Kingdom. The darnel after being
bundled up are burned with fire.

     The next two parables our Lord spake to reveal still more of the
mysteries of the kingdom of the heavens are the parables of the mustard
seed and of the leaven.. They belong together. We shall learn in the
exposition of these two parables, how the popular interpretation of them
through the leading commentators of Christendom has turned everything
upside down. The fact is, precisely the opposite our Lord meant is being
taught by teachers in evangelical Christendom. The fault of this erroneous
interpretation springs from the great fundamental error that the Lord has
the church in view when He speaks of the kingdom of the heavens, and that
the church is that kingdom. Therefore it is taken for granted by this
exposition that when the Lord now speaks of a grain of mustard seed, which
becomes a great tree and which gives shelter to the birds, that this is a
prophecy relating to the expansion of the church. The leaven is therefore
made to mean the gospel with its leavening power. All this is radically
wrong. We turn to the parable of the grain of mustard seed first.

     "Another parable set He before them, saying, The kingdom of the
heavens is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his
field, which is less indeed than all seeds, but when it is grown is greater
than herbs, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of heaven come and roost
in its branches" (verses 31-32).

     Here we have the outward development of the kingdom of the heavens as
it grows and expands, in an unnatural way, and becomes the roosting place
of the birds of heaven. As indicated above, the almost universal comment on
this mustard seed and its miraculous growth, as it is termed, is that it
fully declares the expansion of the church, and the birds of heaven are
interpreted as meaning peoples and nations, who find shelter in the church.
Growing and still growing, the mustard tree reaches over the entire earth,
its branches spread out wider and wider, and soon (so they tell us) the
tree will have covered the earth as the waters cover the deep. It is also a
common occurrence that some denominational leader -- a bishop or an elder
-- claims the parable for his denomination and illustrates with it the
phenomenal growth of the sect to which he belongs, or claims a great future
of success. Again, the history of the "church" is resorted to for the sake
of showing the fulfillment of this parable and the statistics of
Christendom, so many millions of Protestants (including all the infidels,
unsaved masses of Germany, England, and every other "evangelical" country)
so many more now than fifty years ago, etc.

     If the Lord had meant His church by this mustard seed, which becomes a
tree and the roosting place of birds, if it is really the church, which is
His body, then this parable would be in flagrant contradiction with what He
and the Holy Spirit teach elsewhere concerning the church in the earth, the
mission and the future of the church. The greatest clash of teaching would
be the result.

     For instance, in His prayer our Lord says concerning His own, those
who are one as the Father and Son are one: "They are not of the world, as I
am not of the world" (John 17:14). The church then, composed of all true
believers, is not of the world as He is not of the world. The church is
from above, as every believer has a life which is from above; but for a
little while the church is in the world, and in a little while the church
will be above, where He is the glorified Head of His body. The mustard seed
springing up in the field (do not forget the field is the world), rooting
deeper and deeper in the earth and expanding in this unnatural way
affording room for birds, is the picture of something entirely different.
It shows us a system which is rooted in the earth and which aims a
greatness in the world, expansion over the earth. The Lord never meant His
church to be rooted and grounded in the field, the world. He never called
the church to assume such proportions and become an abnormal growth in the
earth. Whatever is spoken of Christ is spoken of the church. Suffering and
glory, after lowliness, followed by exaltation, is the way Christ went; it
is the way ordained for the church. She is to be lowly, now suffering with
Him, rejected and disowned by the world as He was, never to reign and rule
now, but patiently waiting with Him for the moment when He is manifested
and then to share His Throne and His Glory. The calling and destiny of the
church is heavenly. Her mission is to shine out Himself and testify of His
grace, but never to control and overspread the world. The epistles
addressed to the church make this sufficiently clear.

     But if the mustard seed and its growth does not mean the church, what
does it mean? It means the Kingdom of the heavens, and this is, as we have
seen before, professing Christendom. At once the parable becomes
illuminated with light. Looked upon in this light, in full harmony with all
the Lord teaches in this chapter, all is easily understood. The little
mustard seed, which was not destined to be a tree but only a shrub, easily
taken out of the garden where it had been planted, develops against its
nature into a tree. That which came from Him, the Son of Man, the Sower,
develops, committed into the hands of men, into an unnatural thing -- one
might say, a monstrosity -- for such a mustard tree is. This unnatural
thing, this monstrosity, is professing Christendom as a system of the
world, professing Christ, without possessing Him and His Spirit.

     Here we have to call attention to the third message to the churches in
Revelation, the second chapter. That is the message to Pergamos, typifying
the age of the history of Christendom, beginning with Constantine the Great
in the fourth century. The suffering church was made a state church. The
mustard seed suddenly became the tree, and ever since the professing church
has delighted in looking upon herself as a big expanding tree. But notice
the perfect agreement -- the third parable and the third church message.

     The birds which roost in that tree would mean, if the parable applies
to the church, converted sinners. Do birds ever represent clean persons? We
need not go outside of the chapter to answer this. The birds which fell
upon the seed which had fallen by the wayside were instruments of Satan.
Birds of heaven, or fowls, never mean anything good in Scripture. Abraham
stood in the midst of the pieces of the sacrifices and drove away the fowls
which were ready to fall upon the pieces (Gen. 15). The animals divided
there represent Christ and the fowls nothing good. Birds in this parable
mean unsaved, unconverted people and nations who flock for selfish motives
to the tree, the outward form of Christendom, and find shelter there. But
they defile the tree.

     At last the tree will be full grown. Of the full grown tree it is
said, "Great Babylon has become the habitation (roosting place) of demons,
and a hold of every unclean spirit, and a hold of every unclean and hated
bird" (Rev. 18:2).

     But let us not forget there is a tree which is to grow up and spread
its branches, taking sap out of the root, over the whole earth. This tree
is Israel -- the good olive tree with its indestructible root. Some of the
branches are now broken off and lie upon the ground. Romans 11, however,
assures us that God is able to graft them in again. Yet, before this olive
tree with its holy root, this olive tree with its long promised future, the
covenant made with an oath, stands highminded, boasting Christendom,
boasting itself against the branches and claiming to be the tree to
overspread the earth and thus attending to Israel's earthly calling. Alas!
the warning is cast into the winds, "if God spared not the natural branches
take heed lest He spare not thee." What a fall it will be when at last that
tree, the monstrous tree, falls and is destroyed forever root and all!

     But we must now turn our attention to the next parable, the parable of
the leaven. "He spoke another parable to them: The kingdom of the heavens
is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal until
it had been all leavened" (verse 33). It is, perhaps, unnecessary to state
the universal explanation of the parable of the leaven. All the leading
commentators of the Bible have accepted it, and it is taught throughout
Christendom. However, we must refer to it briefly. The leaven is taken to
mean the Gospel and its power. The woman represents the church. The woman
takes the leaven and puts it into three measures of meal, which, according
to this general exegesis represents humanity, the entire human family. Here
the leaven does, in a hidden manner, its work in an assimilating process in
penetrating the whole mass of humanity.

     (Thus writes P. Lange, often called "the Prince among commentators."
"The woman is an apt figure of the church. Leaven, a substance kindred, yet
quite opposed to meal, having the power of transforming and preserving it,
and converting it into bread, thus representing the divine in its relation
to, and influence upon, our natural life. One of the main points of the
parable is the hiding or the mixing of the leaven in the three measures of
meal. This refers to the great visible church, in which the living Gospel
seems, as it were, hidden and lost.")

     That the parable could mean anything but that, which we have briefly
outlined, seems to the great majority of teachers and preachers of
Christendom next to an impossible thing. It is such a general accepted view
that but few can tear themselves loose from it, and see the true teaching
our Lord gives in this fourth parable. One hears so continually statements
about the Gospel leaven and prayer that the "good" leaven may do its work,
etc., that another explanation of this parable puts one at odds with the
bulk of Christian believers. Indeed, this little parable contained in a
little verse is apt to revolutionize the conception of many truths revealed
in the Word of God. If we then approach this parable with a candid mind,
laying aside any prejudice and preconceived ideas and are willing to know
and follow the truth at any cost, we shall certainly find the truth and
with it great joy and peace. If it revolutionizes our views it will only
put us right, for whosoever follows the accepted teachings of men is
generally not right.

     If then the leaven means the Gospel, and the woman the church, and the
three measures of meal humanity, the Lord would teach that, the Gospel,
through the instrumentality of the church, is to permeate humanity, and
that the world is to be converted by the assimilating power of the Gospel
in penetrating the whole mass of humanity. Such, of course, is the belief,
the unscriptural belief, of Christendom. But if the Lord teaches any such
doctrine in this parable He manifestly contradicts Himself, a thing
impossible with Him, who is infallible. We have seen in the second parable
that the wheat and the tares grow together until the time of the harvest.
This excludes the thought of world conversion in this age. This age, as we
have seen, is a mixed one, and these conditions prevail to the end of it.
If our Lord meant the leaven to permeate the whole lump of humanity then He
teaches something entirely different from what He taught in the second
parable.

     But let us turn our attention to the word "leaven." We should not
forget that our Lord as the teacher, as Nicodemus called Him, come from
God, was according to the flesh the Son of David and the Son of Abraham.
These to whom He speaks were Jews. Now the hearers of the parable certainly
understood what was meant by leaven. No Jew would ever dream that leaven
used in illustrating some power of process, could stand for something good.
Leaven with the Jews means always evil. It was excluded from every offering
of the Lord made by fire. Conscientiously the orthodox Jew searches his
dwelling before keeping the feast of the unleavened bread, if perhaps
somewhere a morsel of bread with some leaven may be hid. He purges out the
leaven.

     The word leaven, however, is not used here exclusively. We find it a
number of times in the New Testament; the question is for what does it
stand in the other passages?

     Three times our Lord uses the word leaven, besides here in the
parable. He speaks of the leaven of the Pharisees, the leaven of the
Sadducees and the leaven of Herod. (Matt. 16:12; Mark 8:15) Does He mean
some good quality of the Pharisees and Sadducees when He mentions leaven in
connection with them? Certainly not, He cautions His disciples to beware of
that leaven. He terms the hypocrisy of the ritualistic Pharisee, leaven,
and the rationalism of the Sadducees and worldliness of Herod is leaven.
The Holy Spirit furthermore uses the word leaven only in an evil sense (1
Cor. 5:6; Gal. 5:9). It is then evident in Scripture language leaven never
means anything good, always stands for evil and corruption. It is
impossible that it should mean only once something good, and that the Lord
without any further comment, should use it here as a type of the gospel.

     But let us turn to the question of the three measures of meal. What do
they represent? The faulty but accepted teaching is, that the Lord means
corrupted humanity by it. However, this is as impossible as it is for
leaven to be something good. Where does the meal come from? Surely any
child can answer this, the meal comes from the wheat. Tares, the type of
evil, corruption, never yield fine, wholesome meal. Meal is the product of
the good seed only. Good, nutritious and pure as it is, it can never
represent the unregenerated mass of humanity. But we have still greater
evidence. Three measures of meal stand in type for Christ, the corn of
wheat and the bread of life. When Abraham comforted the Lord (Genesis 18)
it was by three measures of meal and a calf. Both are typical of Christ,
His Person and His Work. He is good, pure, holy, undefiled, as well as that
which He has given, His Word. It is therefore all folly to twist Scripture
language around, and make the three measures of meal mean corruption, when
it always denotes purity.

     Again, if the Gospel is leaven, and this leaven is to permeate the
whole mass of humanity, we have an additional contradiction. Does the
Gospel really work like leaven? How does leaven work? It is put into meal
and then it works by itself. That is all. Simply put it there, leave it
alone, it is bound to leaven the whole lump. But this is not the way the
Gospel works the power of God unto Salvation.

     Conceding it is true, the Gospel is leaven and is to permeate the
whole lump, then we can readily say the "Gospel leaven" is the biggest
failure which has ever been put out. There is no nation, nor even a town or
hamlet which has ever been successfully "leavened" by the Gospel.

     The process is then a failure, the Gospel does not accomplish the
leavening of the lump, it has not done it in 1900 years. The inference
which comes next is, that in giving such a prophecy the speaker, our Lord,
was mistaken.

     We have now torn down the false explanation of the parable, and laid
the foundation upon which we can easily build and grasp the true meaning of
the parable.

     Leaven is error, evil, corruption. The good pure meal stands for
truth, for Christ and His Word. The leaven corrupts the meal, it changes
that which is good, and attacks in a hidden way its purity, till it has
pervaded the whole mass. The Lord teaches in the parable how evil doctrine
will corrupt the fine meal, the doctrine of Christ. It follows the parable
of the mustard seed. First the professing church was lifted up into
prominence, and the next step was the woman who put leaven into the three
measures of meal. Pergamos, the period of church history, in which the
professing church is married (the meaning of Pergamos) to the state and the
world, is followed by the fourth period, that of Thyatira. This fourth
message corresponds to the parable of the woman and the leaven. A woman,
the woman Jezebel, is mentioned in Revelation 2. No doubt she stands for
Rome. The woman in the parable represents the same, the apostate church,
the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth. She has with her evil
doctrine, the leaven, corrupted the fine meal, the doctrine of Christ. And
now this leaven works in professing Christendom. It cannot yet fully
pervade all, the whole is not yet leavened. The true believers, the church,
still in the earth, is a hindrance to the full leavening process of evil.
But the church will be removed from the earth, then the whole lump will be
leavened. The fire alone can arrest the leaven in its work. The fire will
make an end of the leaven. This explanation is the only correct one, for it
agrees perfectly, not only with the teaching of our Lord in the previous
parables, but with Scripture as a whole. The evil conditions in which the
kingdom of the heavens gets in the hands of men, during the absence of the
Lord, is here fully declared. Christendom, Rome, the mother of harlots, and
the daughters, is evidence enough and proof how the Revealer of Secrets
revealed things to come.

     All these parables show the growth of evil, and are prophecies
extending over the entire age in which we live. May we bow before the Word
and follow the Word and its clear teachings, the oracles of God, rather
than the "voice of the church" or "the doctrines of men."

     After our Lord dismissed the crowds, He went into the house and here,
in answer to the request of the disciples, He expounded the second parable.
It was given to them, as it is given to us, to know the mysteries of the
kingdom. We have looked at this divine interpretation before, and so we can
at once proceed with the three parables which follow and which our Lord
speaks to His disciples in the house. Two of these, the parable of the
treasure hid in the field and the parable of the one pearl of great price,
belong together. After these the Lord concludes His teaching of the
mysteries with the parable of the dragnet.

     "The kingdom of the heavens is like a treasure hid in the field, which
a man having found has hid, and for the joy of it goes and sells all
whatever he has, and buys that field. Again the kingdom of the heavens is
like a merchantman seeking beautiful pearls; and having found one pearl of
great value, he went and sold all whatever he had and bought it" (verses
44-46). That these two parables are closely connected is seen by their
similarity. In both a man is mentioned, and he sells in each all he has to
obtain what he esteems precious. In the first, he finds a treasure in the
field and hides it there, while he buys the field to possess the treasure.
In the second, he sells all to obtain one pearl of great value. There is,
of course, a difference likewise. The treasure is in the field; it is
deposited there. The field is bought, and with it the treasure. The one
pearl comes out of the sea; its value is greater than the treasure in the
field, of which it is not said that it has a great value. Again, a treasure
may be increased or decreased, there may be taken away from it or added to
it; the one pearl, however, is complete, its value and beauty are fixed.

     As we turn to the interpretation of these parables, we are obliged to
follow the same course which we followed with the preceding parables. We
have to set aside the commonly accepted view. We have to show once more
that the almost universal exposition and application of the parables by
evangelical Christendom is wrong, unscriptural and conflicting with other
parts of God's Word. We shall have to use the sharp knife again, to lay
bare the errors of the teachings taken from the treasure in the field and
the one pearl. Only in this way can we get at the root of the matter, and
see the true meaning and understand the mysteries of the kingdom.

     Perhaps the Best way to mention the erroneous interpretation is to
quote the father of Protestantism, Martin Luther. His comment on these two
parables is about the best expression of the accepted theories, what our
Lord meant with the treasure and the pearl. Luther said:

     "The parable of the treasure means, that we vainly seek the kingdom of
God by our works and exertion, or the works of the law. For we are not born
of the blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man. The
Jews had the field, but did not see the treasure in it. But the Gentiles
bought the field with the treasure; that is the law with Christ The hidden
treasure is the Gospel, which gives us grace and righteousness without our
merit. Therefore when one finds it, it causes joy; that is a good, cheerful
conscience, which cannot be secured by any good works.

     "The parable of the pearl is almost of the same import as the
preceding one, except that the former speaks of the finding and this of the
seeking. Therefore he speaks here of a growing faith, and signifies
therewith that the pearl was not unknown, but that it had been heard of, as
being of great price. Here the merchantman is intent only, that he may
possess the one pearl. For this is also the nature of the Christian life,
that he who has begun it imagines he has nothing, but he reaches out for
it, and constantly presses onward, that he may obtain it." (Luther's
Explanatory Notes on the Gospels. p.82.)

     This mode of interpretation has been strictly followed by
commentators. H.A.W. Meyer, a leading expositor of the New Testament,
declares "the kingdom, the most valuable possession, must be taken hold of
by a joyful sacrifice of all earthly things." Another one says: "The
treasure and the pearl are pictures of the great value of the kingdom of
the heavens. To possess them one has to sacrifice all his other goods"
(Prof. Holtzmann). P. Lange, so well known, declares: "True Christianity is
like an unexpected discovery, even in the ancient church. It is the best
possession we can find, a gilt of free grace. Every sinner must find and
discover Christianity for himself. In order to secure possession, even of
what we found with no merit of our own, we must be willing to sacrifice
all; for salvation, though entirely of free grace, requires the fullest
self-surrender." But enough of this. It is the general way of interpreting
these two parables by making the man who sells all to obtain the treasure
and the merchantman, the unsaved sinner. The Gospel, salvation, the grace
of God, or as some term it "religion," is, according to this, represented
in the treasure and the one pearl of great value. That such a theory is
unreconcilably clashing with the very heart of the gospel is but little
considered.

     Gospel sermons, so-called, are preached, in which the sinner is
exhorted to give up, to sell all, in order to become a Christian, to
surrender the world and himself and then to find the pearl of great value.
But is this the Gospel? We answer, No! The sinner has no sacrifice to
bring. All his trying to surrender himself or giving Up the world can never
secure for him eternal life or the grace of God. "What must I do to inherit
eternal life?" was spoken by a self-righteous Pharisee, the young ruler,
and the Lord answers him, who came to him with the law and as under the
law, accordingly, and tells him to sell all he has and give it to the poor
and follow him. But this is not the gospel, but the law, which says, "Do
and live." To preach the Gospel to sinners and tell them to do, to give up
and to receive, is fundamentally wrong. The Gospel of grace does not ask of
the sinner to sell all he has to receive the grace of God and eternal life,
but the Gospel of grace offers to every sinner eternal life as God's gift,
a free gift, in Christ Jesus. The Word of God, it is true, speaks of
buying; but what kind of buying is it? "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come
ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come ye, buy, and eat; yea,
come buy wine and milk without money and without price" (Is. 4:1, 2). It is
buying without money and without price.

     The giving up, the surrender, follows when a person is saved and has
received the grace of God, but never before. We see that to teach, the man
who finds the treasure is the sinner, and the sinner is to sell all to
obtain the possession of Christ, or the merchantman is the sinner who
obtains a pearl, eternal life, by giving up all, is wrong teaching. (How
strange that even the simple Gospel is so little known, and there is more
and more the preaching of a Gospel, which is another. A nauseating mixture
of law and grace.) The Lord never meant in these parables to describe the
seeking and the finding of the sinner.

     The difficulty which is so apparent in the first of these two parables
is but little dealt with by preachers who make the Gospel out of it.
According to this wrong application the sinner would have to buy the field
to obtain the treasure, the Gospel. What is the field? One of the above
mentioned commentators makes of it "the external, worldly ecclesiasticism."
This is simply a human opinion. We know what the field is. We need not to
ask Dr. Luther, Lange, or any other man, what means the field. The Lord has
given us the key. "The field is the world." This is the meaning of the word
field in the first two parables. Who would say that the word "field" means
anything different in the fifth parable? The field is the world. If the
sinner is meant by the man who buys the field, it would mean that the
sinner has to buy the world. There is no sense whatever in giving these two
parables such an application.

     Again, in the two first parables a person is spoken of -- the sower,
the man who sowed the good seed. This Man in the first two parables is the
Lord Himself. In the two parables before us the man and the merchantman
stand for the same person, and this person is identical with the man in the
first and second parables; in other words, the man who bought the field and
the treasure in it, and the merchantman, who sold all to obtain one pearl
of great value, is the Lord Himself. It is not the unsaved seeking and
finding salvation, but it is the Saviour seeking the sinner, purchasing the
field, buying the treasure in it, giving up all to possess one pearl of
great value.

     As we look upon it in this light we have indeed the blessed Gospel.
He, who was rich, became poor for our sakes, that by His poverty we might
become rich. He, who subsisted in the form of God, emptied Himself. He came
down, He gave up, He gave all and was obedient unto death, unto the death
of the cross. Both parables teach the same great truth, Christ, the
Saviour, who came to seek that which is lost and who has purchased the
field and found in it a treasure, which is His, and obtained one pearl of
great value.
But the question arises, if this is the case, why two parables? If the
finding man and the seeking merchantman is our Lord, why should His work in
giving up and selling all be mentioned twice? Why is a treasure mentioned
first and then a pearl? and why is the purchased treasure hid, while the
one pearl of great value comes evidently first into the possession of the
merchantman?

     The Lord certainly speaks here of a twofold mystery of the kingdom of
the heavens and of two different objects, which He obtained by His work of
redemption. When He mentions the treasure hid in the field, which is His by
purchase, He means His earthly people, Israel. The one pearl of great
value, taken out of the sea; the one pearl, beautiful and complete, means
the church, the one body. We have in these two parables the mystery of
Israel and the mystery of the church; of both mysteries the Holy Spirit
witnesses in the epistles by the Apostle of the Gentiles, to whom these
mysteries were made known.

     Israel is the treasure in the field. "Ye shall be a peculiar treasure
unto me above all people; for all the earth is mine" (Exodus 19:5). "For
the Lord hath chosen Jacob for Himself and Israel for His peculiar
treasure" (Ps. 135:4). When He came from heaven He found His people in the
field. He bought the whole world and with it, inclusive, the people who are
His earthly treasure. "He died for that nation" is spoken of His blessed
work (John 11:51). However, we do not read that He got possession of the
treasure; it is rather the thought which we get from it, that the treasure
found is hid still in the field which He bought by so great a price, for
the sake of owning that treasure. And in this we have the key, why this is
introduced in these parables of the mysteries of the kingdom of the
heavens.

     Israel is the Lord's peculiar treasure. He has purchased His earthly
people. They shall be yet his peculiar treasure, displaying in the earth,
in the coming age, all the excellencies of Himself. They will be justified,
a separated and Spirit-filled people. In Balaam's prophecies the Spirit of
God speaks of what Israel is in God's eyes through the redemption work of
Jehovah. The Lord died for that nation, and still the results of His death
are not yet manifested. Israel is hid in the field, in the world. The Lord
will come again and return to the field, the world, once more. He comes to
claim His inheritance. Then He will lift the treasure, then He claims His
people Israel and they will rejoice in His salvation. During this age, the
age of an absent Lord, Israel is kept hid in the field. This is one of the
mysteries of the kingdom of the heavens. It corresponds to Rom. 11:25: "For
I do not wish you to be ignorant, brethren, of this mystery, that ye be not
wise in your own conceits, that blindness in part is happened to Israel,
until the fullness of the nations be come in; and so all Israel shall be
saved. According as it is written: The Deliverer shall come out of Zion; He
shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob." Alas! Christendom is wise in their
own conceits and has ignored, yes completely ignored this mystery. It
declares that "God hath cast away His people and there is no hope for
Israel." Christendom forgets that Israel is the treasure in the field,
purchased by the blood, the precious blood of the Son of God, and that He,
who is like a man who has gone to a far country, will come again to claim
the earth and lift His peculiar treasure Israel. Much more might be said on
all this, but we are obliged to turn to the meaning of the one pearl of
great value.

     This one pearl is the Church. "He loved the Church and gave Himself
for it," thus it is written, and here in the parable He declares this
precious truth Himself. The pearl is taken out of the sea. Way down on the
dark bottom of the ocean is the shell, the house of an animal, and in this
animal, by its work, the beautiful pearl is produced. A small grain of
sand, we are told, imbeds itself between the animal and the shell and
creates by its presence a wound in the side of the animal. Upon this
miserable grain of sand the animal deposits a thin crust of a brilliant
material. How often this is repeated no one can tell, one deposit after the
other is made, till at last in the side of the animal there is found a most
beautiful pearl, a pearl of great price, a pearl in which the colors of the
rainbow of the heavens are wonderfully blended together. It is taken up and
becomes the well nigh priceless jewel in the crown of some mighty monarch.

     We see at once why our Lord used the pearl as the type of the church,
which He loved and gave Himself for it. Like Eve who was taken out of the
side of Adam, so His blessed side was opened and out of that side is
building His church. Like the pearl, the church is one, though composed of
many countless members known to Him alone. This one pearl is still forming
out of His side. The one pearl is still in the dark waters of the sea. How
many more members will be added to this one pearl we do not know. How long
it will be yet, before the Lord takes her unto Himself into the air, to
adorn Himself with that precious pearl, none can tell. The church belongs
to Him, and will be with Him in the heavenlies. Of what great value must
this one pearl be to Him, that He gave all for it? What glories will He
receive from the possession of that pearl and what a beautiful object will
be the pearl in the possession of the heavenly and eternal merchantman?

     When He comes to take possession of Israel, the treasure, and of the
world, His church will be with Him. And what else might be said of this
precious parable! May we meditate on it, and rejoice in that love which
gave up all to take us out of our ruin and loss untold, and make us the
objects of His marvelous grace.

     One more parable remains, the seventh. "Again the kingdom of the
heavens is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and which gathers together of
every kind, which when it has been filled, they having drawn up on the
shore and sat down, gathered the good into vessels and cast the worthless
out. Thus shall it be in the completion of the age; the angels shall go
forth and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into
the furnace of fire; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (verses
47-50).

     This is not the Gospel net, as it is often called. After the one pearl
is taken up the end of the age begins. This parable falls into the
completion of the age. The dragnet is let into the sea, which, as we have
seen before, represents the nations. The parable refers to the preaching of
the everlasting Gospel as it will take place during the great tribulation
(Rev. 14:6, 7). The separating of the good and the bad is done by angels.
All this cannot refer to the present time nor to the church, but to the
time when the kingdom is about to be set up. Then angels will be used, as
it is so clearly seen in the book of Revelation. The wicked will be cast
into the furnace of fire and the righteous will remain in the earth for the
millennial kingdom. To follow all this in detail would take us into the
history of the seventieth week of Daniel. It is the same "end of the age"
which is described in Matthew 24.

     We have learned from these seven parables the mysteries of the kingdom
of the heavens, beginning with the apostolic age and showing us the
conditions which prevail up to its end. It is significant that the last
three parables -- containing, as we have seen, the mystery of Israel, the
mystery of the church, and the mystery of the ending of the age -- were
spoken in the house to the disciples. The great multitude did not hear
them, as they contain truths for His own, to whom alone it is given through
the Spirit of God to know the mysteries of the kingdom. And so we read:
"Jesus says unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say to
Him, Yea, Lord. And He said to them, For this reason every scribe discipled
to the kingdom of the heavens is like a man that is a householder who
brings out of his treasure things new and old" (verses 51, 52). The things
old are the things revealed in the Old Testament and the new things those
of the new dispensation, which are given in these parables in a nut-shell.

     Upon this declaration there follows a symbolical action of our Lord.
"And it came to pass when Jesus had finished these parables, He withdrew
thence." The revealer of the secrets has given His revelation and now He
disappears from the scene. It stands in type for His bodily absence from
the earth during this age.

     The end of the chapter is in full accord with the beginning and the
teaching of the entire chapter. "And having come into His own country, He
taught them in their synagogues, so that they were astonished, and said,
Whence has this man this wisdom and these works of power? Is not this the
son of a carpenter? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brethren James
and Joseph, and Simeon and Juda? And His sisters, are they not all with us?
Whence then has this man all these things? And they were offended in Him.
And Jesus said to them, A prophet is not without honor, unless in His
country and in his house. And he did not there many works of power, because
of their unbelief" (verses 54-58).

     What else is all this but evidence of His full rejection. His own knew
Him not. They speak of His earthly relations. For them He is "this man."
His Father they knew not. They call Him "the son of the carpenter." And
thus He is rejected still by His earthly people; and alas! many of those
who call themselves by His name during this age treat Him no better. With
the next chapter we shall follow the story of His rejection.

                             End of Volume I.

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