Tabernacles: The Feast of Glory - From The Feast of Tabernacles
Let us recall how the three events comprising the Feast of the Passover all blended harmoniously together to form that first great Feast of the Church. There were the Passover, the Unleavened Bread, and the Sheaf of Firstfruits: distinct events, yet blending together to form one Feast--beautiful type of the death and resurrection of Christ, and the new life which His death made possible. So now in the last Feast, the events are of a threefold nature: the Blowing of the Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Ingathering. And again these three events blend together to form one great Feast, the last great revival of the Church age. Let us not imagine that this great revival of gifts and ministries of the Spirit is by any means the fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles. But it is the promise and the earnest of this fulfillment, the beginning of the end. For this move of the Spirit must rise and rise and rise (through much sifting and testing and trial), even unto the fullness of the Feast of Tabernacles itself.
And therefore, as the day of glory and of triumph begins to dawn upon the eastern horizon, we may expect to receive a foretaste of that glory as the first rays break forth upon the Church. But we dare not, we must not, settle for anything that God has yet given to any people in any age or dispensation.
We must go forward to explore the infinite realms of the Spirit of God... We must pass out of the realm of the natural, and into the realm of the spiritual... We must progress from the "length and breadth" and begin to comprehend somewhat of the "height and depth" of spiritual things. The "to and fro" experience must give way to an "ascending and descending" experience on Jacob's ladder. We must pass from a knowledge of the understandable... to a knowledge of the inconceivable... We must rise from the visible to behold the invisible... We must hear the inaudible... grasp the intangible... explore the unsearchable... and declare the unspeakable...
For God hath set eternity in our hearts, and we will not rest--nor will we give Him rest, till He stablish, and till He make Jerusalem a praise in the earth. The Church must yet bring forth a child that shall "rule all nations with a rod of iron" (Rev. 12:5). For it is given unto the overcomer to "rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter, shall they be broken to shivers" (Rev. 2:27).
ICHABOD, THE GLORY HAS DEPARTED
We can expect that with the travail of the saints to bring forth this Son, there shall also be the travail of a dying priesthood to bring forth something to perpetuate and sustain the old order. But it shall not prosper. The Aaronic priesthood--glorious as it was in its day, must give way to a new priesthood, the priesthood after the "order of Melchizedek" (Heb. 6:20).
And so it was that Hannah stood before the temple in Shiloh and in anguish of soul prayed that God would give her a man-child, for she was barren; and she promised that if her request was granted, the child would be dedicated unto the service of the Lord all his days. God heard her prayer, and give her a child, and she called his name "Samuel," meaning "Asked of God." This man-child was destined to become Israel's priest, to succeed the dying priesthood of the house of Eli. Because of the wicked way of Eli's sons, God had decreed that the priesthood should be snatched away from the house of Eli, and given to another. As a young child it was revealed to Samuel that God was going to bring judgment upon the house of Eli, and as it was revealed so it came to pass. Eli's two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, who were in line to receive the priesthood--were both slain in one day. At the same time the ark of God was captured by the Philistines; and as Eli heard the sad news he fell backward and broke his neck and died. The glory had departed from Israel, and he who served in the house of God was slain in battle. Then it was that the wife of Phinehas heard the sad news; and that news caused her pains to come upon her, and she travailed and brought forth a man-child. In her dying moments she named him "Ichabod," and she named him well, because the ark of God was taken. Ichabod signifies, "No glory," or "Where is the glory?"
And try as she will, this modern-day church system, this Babylon of religious pomp and splendour, will produce nothing but Ichabods. "Where is the Glory?" Where is that real, vital presence of the Holy Spirit in the congregation of the saints to work the very works of God Himself, and produce the fruit of the Spirit? Yes, the dying priesthood will bring forth its manchild, but Ichabod is the name. God has already prepared another manchild, and Samuel is the name. He was "asked for." The cries and prayers of God's people for years have prevailed upon the God of Heaven, and in answer to their prayers and travail, "a Son, a male" is to be born, for that is the literal translation of "manchild" (Rev. 12:5). Ichabod is in line for the priesthood, that is true; but God has ordained another priesthood, a priesthood of glory.This is the focal hour of history. The glory of Moses' day is for us; the glory of David's kingdom is for us; the glory of Solomon's kingdom is for us; the glory of the restored temple of Ezra's day is for us; the glory of Enoch's day, and the glory of Elijah's day, and the glory of Paul's day,--all this glory and much more is available to us, if we can hear His voice.
THE MELCHIZEDEK PRIESTHOOD
The Melchizedek priesthood is a priesthood of life, and of fadeless glory. It is a priesthood of eternal fellowship and communion with Christ, and not like the Aaronic priesthood which experienced the presence of God only on a certain occasion, once in the year. It is a priesthood that is established by the word and oath of God Himself. It is a priesthood which cannot pass away, for there is no death in the fullness of this new order. It is a priesthood of royal power and authority. Gone shall be the bondage of the world, the flesh, and the Devil. For this priesthood introduces the royal-priest behind the veil, behind the flesh. The flesh is rent asunder, and the glory of God is unveiled. The Head has already entered into this priesthood--and if He has entered it means the way is open for others to follow. "Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made a high priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek." (Heb. 6:20). It is a "new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh" (Heb. 10:20). Can you hear these words, child of God? "For us..." Not for the Church of the past centuries, for they did not hear these beautiful words, and therefore it had no application to them. But "for us" to whom the Word of God is now given. Not to men of some future dispensation or some future Kingdom: but "for us" who live in this day of opportunity, this today of hope and promise. "To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart..." In the fullness of this new priesthood we shall be completely glorified, like unto Christ. But even as Christ began His priesthood on earth by interceding for His brethren--so let us begin even now to possess this glorious heritage in the Spirit, the Kingdom of God within.
A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD
"But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people..." (1 Pet. 2:9). A royal priesthood! A priesthood of kings, and a kingdom of priests! A company of overcomers, who have power with God and with men! As priests they have power with God, and as kings they have power with men. As priests they have "access by faith into this grace" of our holy standing; and as kings they have the power of God to rule and reign in all circumstances and over all opposing forces. As priests they can intercede with God on behalf of men; and as kings they can impart life and power and deliverance to the captive, and set the oppressed free. Such is the kingdom of Melchizedek. He reigns, but he also intercedes; and in fact he reigns by interceding. His very power and kingly authority is for the benefit and sake of others. Jesus said, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore..." (Matt. 28:19). And again, "Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you" (Acts 1:8). He is King! and Priest! And He has designated His kingly authority and His priestly authority to such as are of Him and in Him. In this realm the flesh "profiteth nothing." Natural advantages, fleshly attainments, racial distinctions, educational standards, ecclesiastical success--these profit nothing. This priesthood knows nothing of father, mother, genealogy, beginning of days nor end of life. It is the sphere and realm of the Spirit of God, a priesthood and a Kingdom which the Sons of God shall enter into as they grow up into Christ.
Melchizedek signifies by his name, "King of righteousness." He is also called King of Salem, and that means King of Peace. (Heb. 7:2). His ministry, therefore, is to establish righteousness and peace in those who are under sin's dominion. And that, of course, is the very essence of the Kingdom of God. "The Kingdom of God is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost" (Rom. 14:17).
Now can we understand how the overcomer in the Day of the Lord, when Great Tribulation is upon the earth, will be able to administer help and comfort and sustenance to God's people who are under oppression and persecution. The great tribulation itself is going to be cut short because of the Sons of God. As Moses interceded for Israel and spared them from wrath; and as Jesus intercedes for His people, and spares them from wrath; so the Sons of God, through the exercise of their royal priesthood, shall actually shorten the Great Tribulation. Jesus has declared that they would: "For the elect's sake those days shall be shortened" (Matt. 24:22). The elect shall have entered into a new priesthood, a royal priesthood. As priests they will be able to present the needs of the people to God, and intercede for them; and as kings they will have the authority of God to dispense life and blessing to such as are in tribulation and distress. The world has had her day of kings and dictators whose passion it is to exercise lordship and dominion over a suffering humanity. This new Kingdom shall be a Priesthood,--a priesthood that "can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way" for they will remember their former afflictions. They will recall their former bondage under Satan's cruel kingdom, and the days of yester-years when the flesh tormented them, and they cried in anguish of soul: "O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me...?" They shall not have forgotten that they too were once sinners, defiled in His sight, and poured out their complaint to God in the bitterness of their sorrows. And therefore they shall reign as priests--co-heirs with the Son in the Kingdom of Grace.
"Even he shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both" (Zech. 6:13). What does this mean? "Between them both..."? "Both" refers back to Joshua the high priest, and "the man whose name is the branch." It is the priesthood of the Son and the many Sons. Joshua means "Jah saves," and is the same as Jesus in the Greek. The branch, on the other hand, is said to "grow up out of his place." It is Christ; and His place is the Church. But He is called the branch, or literally the sprout, because this Man is a many-membered Body, that grows up into maturity. We read therefore that the Body is to "grow up into...the head, even Christ" (Eph. 4:15). Hence, away back in the days of Zechariah who prophesied words of encouragement to the builders of the second temple, we have the truth of the new priesthood, a priesthood that reigns upon the throne, a priesthood comprising Christ and His people, the Son and the many Sons, with the counsel of peace "between them both."
Is it not written, "Heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ, if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together"? (Rom. 8:17). And does not the apostle declare that God "hath raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus"? (Eph. 2:6, Literal).
O the depths and the heights of this glorious priesthood! It far surpasses anything we can possibly imagine in the natural; for it is an infinite and eternal priesthood, and we are yet carnal and walk as men. Only by the Spirit can we comprehend anything of our heritage in Christ.
THE FOCAL HOUR OF GOD'S PURPOSES
We may expect, therefore, that in these end times, when the events of the ages are to be focused into one, that we shall discover the pattern of this great hour prefigured and typified everywhere in the sacred Scriptures. This is the day of the "fulness of the times." The ends of the ages have come upon us. Not the end of the age; not the end of the ages; not the ends of the age; but even "the ends of the ages" (1 Cor. 10:11, Literal). And therefore, just as the river which begins as a trickle in the top of some mountain, flows down the steeps and through the plains, and gathers into its flow the waters from all the springs and rivulets and streams along the way--and finally empties all its accumulated waters into the ocean, so it is with the stream of God's purposes. There was judgment and there was glory with every age and every dispensation that God ever gave; but now we have come to the ends of the ages when all the judgments as well as all the glory of bygone ages are to find their focus in this great hour. Why did Jesus say of the Jews of His day: "That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation?" (Lk. 11:50). Simply because the sum and substance of all the promises of the Scriptures were heaped together and offered to that generation in the Person of Messiah; and therefore in their rejection of Messiah all the judgments which were due to all preceding generations were heaped together and laid upon that generation. And so it actually came to pass, and was fulfilled in the desolation of Jerusalem at the hands of the Romans in A.D. 70.
Now we have come to the ends of the ages. Once again there is an apostate religious system, upon which the wrath of God shall descend in great fury; and then shall be fulfilled the Great Tribulation, of which the desolation of Jerusalem in the days of Emperor Titus was but a type and shadow. That was a local event, concerning only the natural Jerusalem; this shall be a world-wide event, and all the earth--especially apostate Christendom--shall feel the mighty impact of the Day of the Lord. But as we have already discovered, the Day of the Lord is the unveiled might and power of the God of Heaven, descending in wrath upon the ungodly, but in great power and blessing upon the overcomer.
The dispensation of the Law could only end in tribulation and the curse: for it is a ministration of death. But the dispensation of Grace must end in glory and victory: for it is a ministration of life. The universal Church, however, has refused to accept the dispensation of Grace, and has continued from the earliest times to live under the dispensation of the Law. Religion continues to patch that which Christ has declared useless. The veil that He rent in twain has been sewn together, and the flesh continues to rule in the place of the Spirit. Instead of the blood of Christ, there is the work of man. Instead of new birth, there is moral rearmament. Instead of the Holy Spirit, there is fleshly entertainment. The Day of the Lord is at hand, even the ends of the ages, and great shall be the display of God's glory. It shall be light, glorious light, or it shall be darkness, gross darkness; and that will all depend upon our position before God. Just as all the wrath and judgments which were due to all preceding generations were heaped together and laid upon the generation of Christ's day; so now, not only all the wrath but all the glory ever administered or ever offered to all preceding generations, shall be heaped together and laid upon our generation when the Day of the Lord is revealed. It shall therefore be Great Tribulation, such as was never known from the foundation of the world; but it shall also be Great Glory, such as was never known from the foundation of the world. To the one class of people it shall be a day of "darkness" and of "gloominess." But to the other, "as the morning spread upon the mountains." (Joel 2:2). To the one, the Great Tribulation; but to the other, "The Manifestation of the Sons of God."
This is the focal hour of history. The glory of Moses' day is for us; the glory of David's kingdom is for us; the glory of Solomon's kingdom is for us; the glory of the restored temple of Ezra's day is for us; the glory of Enoch's day, and the glory of Elijah's day, and the glory of Paul's day,--all this glory and much more is available to us, if we can hear His voice.