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God in your body (in a death to sin), and your spirit (in a life to God), which are God's.” Wherefore in our life are we as a spiritual house, a temple of God, according to the eternal purpose, the pattern in the mount, to witness to the everlasting principles of the covenant. As Peter says, 66 Ye also as living stones, even as the foundation a living stone, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ (1 Pet. ii. 5).
The redemption out of Egypt and the tabernacle service enforced these principles. They formed part of a dispensation, which had its relos, or fulfilment, in Christ, and, in its relation to that of the Gospel, was referred to by Paul as ministrations of death and of the Spirit, which two dispensations relatively set forth redemption and blessing.
As an example of the sad ignorance prevailing respecting the Old Testament, and the law, in particular, which is said to condemn men to death before God, a preacher stated, with great confidence, “that mercy and the law are opposed to each other.” Whereas, as a ministry of condemnation, it is all mercy; for, though as an outward thing it attests the hardness of the heart of man, yet, as an inward reality and power, it attests a God, merciful, gracious, long-suffering, forgiving sin and transgression, and keeping mercy for thousands. Paul realised this mercy. He could truly say respecting the law, “I, through the law, am dead to the law”—(the law led him to Christ, by whom he was dead to it as an outward thing)—" that I might live unto God." He explains : “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live ; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life I now live in the flesh I live in the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Paul knew the law, that rightly used, as fulfilled in Christ, having its telos in Him, it was a ministration of redemption, while that of the Spirit was of life. The law was a ministration of glory, but it had no glory by reason of that which excelleth—even the in-dwelling Spirit of the Lord.
The Apostle draws a contrast between the Jews in the time of Moses and the Corinthians, to whom he had ministered the Gospel of the glory of the blessed God. He speaks of that ministration of death written and engraven on stones, which, as an outward thing, gave knowledge of sin, and so led men to Christ. Then if that was glorious, how much more so the ministration of the Spirit of life, a reality in the soul. The Corinthians, said the Apostle, were his epistles of Christ ministered, written, not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God.
So far, then, from the Jews realising the spiritual, to which indeed the decalogue testified, they could not even look to it. They could not stedfastly look to the end of that which was to be abolished. They could not look to Christ; but their eyes were blinded, even by the God of this world, and the glory of the living God could not shine unto them. Unto this day, this applies equally to professing Christians; but, where the Spirit of the Lord is, there the veil is done away, there is redemption, there is liberty. Such is the purpose of the Father to all, even when he commanded Moses to do His will, to build the tabernacle according to the pattern shown him in the mount.
1 KINGS xix. 8.
“And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the Mount of God.”
Having thus far traced the covenant, as revealing Father, Son, and Spirit, in a baptism of the world from sin, and a resting in Jehovah, the true ark of our salvation ; in the manifestation of the kingdom in Christ; and in the blessing of righteousness in the Spirit of the Son; we now approach a very interesting and instructive portion of the sacred history, wherein we may see clearly the faithfulness of a covenant God, and how that all things work together for good to them who obey the covenant, and so are called according to grace.
Paul, setting forth the mercy of God, draws a marked distinction between God casting away His people, and their falling away. He could attest that although the nation had its position and honour, as outwardly witnessing to the covenant which it failed to know, God had not cast them off, as he, Paul, a murderer, persecutor, and injurious, was of the remnant according to the election of grace. God has elected all men to walk before Him, according to the covenant, in holiness and righteousness all the days of their life, and if they, despite their privileges and advantages, reject it, they, de facto, fall away, and so God does not cast them off ; but if there be some—a remnant—who do realise and live according to this election of grace, they attest the truth.
In Elijah, who comes before us without any introduction by way of parentage or extraction, and whose name is composed
of two Hebrew words signifying “my Eloh is Jehovah,” we see a man of like passions with ourselves, who yet, in the habit of his life, was not only identified with the covenant, but abided in it, desiring its blessings in a hungering and thirsting after righteousness. Whatever may have been the errors or failings of Elijah in respect to this experience, it is, however, with regard to the covenant that the Lord here reveals Himself. In Elijah we behold one realising the covenant, honouring the Father, walking in the Kingdom, doing His will, and jealous of His honour. He serves not Baal, but is the servant of Jehovah, before whom he stands. He reproves the wicked king and the children of Israel, and shuts up the heavens, that they should not give rain but according to his word. So long as they were hardening their hearts, serving Baalim, this sign of redemption was withholden, and the heavens became as iron. They had forsaken a merciful Jehovah, thrown down His altars, slain His prophets with the sword. They followed and worshipped Baalim, and the long drought had no effect in bringing them to a right mind. The prophet presents himself before the king; denounces him, with his house, as the great troubler of Israel; and challenges him to assemble the priests of Baal at Mount Carmel that he might there prove who is the one and true God. Elijah vindicated the covenant before all Israel. In that awfully solemn act he placed all Israel as offering its holocaust that Jehovah might manifest Himself. Then the priests of Baal are put to the sword, and there is an abundance of rain. By the holocaust, and the slaying of the priests of Baal, he taught them redemption, to which the abundance of rain also witnessed. Then was Ahab to arise, eat and drink, implying redemption; that is, realise the truth, of which these outward gifts would be the expressive sign.
The king, on his coming to Jezreel, told Jezebel all that the prophet had done to the priests of Baal. This wicked woman, whose heart was rancorous with hatred against the cause of God, maddened with disappointment and revenge, threatens the life of Elijah. And when he heard of it, he arose for his life and came to Beersheba. Thence he went into the wilderness, desiring to die—that the Lord would take his life from him, as it was not better than his fathers'. Here we see a man of like passions with ourselves, impatient, indeed, of the providence of God because his cherished hopes appeared frustrated, the desire of his heart deferred.
A witness to this impatience may be discovered even in the very character of the Lord's providential dealings with him. At the brook Cherith he was taught, not only God's continual and unceasing care in sending him his daily food by birds of prey, which seemed to forget their natural instinct, and in giving water by a stream that had not dried up, but also what was the important truth to which, in the blessing of the covenant, he had to witness. However, by its singularity, it is forced upon our notice and claims consideration.
It is not for us, by any means or in any degree, to justify our wrong-doing by the failings of any holy man of God; but to thank God for His mercy, and then learn through him how, independently of such, the covenant stands and reveals its nature and its claims.
Elijah learned, even as we may, that, by the ravens' carrying the flesh and instinctively hungering for it, and the parched earth bearing the water, yet thirsting for it, how we, in the patience of a perfect providence, should hunger and thirst after the kingdom of righteousness. And lest the truth taught by this providential care of Elijah should, by the regular continuance of the supply, be lost sight of, its form