Lectures on 2 Chronicles 4-6

 •  14 min. read  •  grade level: 7
So in the next chapter (4) we find all the appurtenances-the altar and the sea of brass, and the pots and shovels and basins—for everything has its place. And, further, all the golden vessels were made by Solomon. Huram, a Gentile, might be entrusted with the outside vessels; but “Solomon made all the vessels that were for the house of God” (ver. 19). They were under his own superintendence directly as it became him.
“Thus,” it is said in chapter 5, “all the work that Solomon made for the house of Jehovah was finished: and Solomon brought in [all] the things that David his father had dedicated; and the silver, and the gold, and all the instruments, put he among the treasures of the house of God” (ver. 1).
And then comes the assembling of the elders of Israel and the bringing up of the ark, for that remains unchanged— “Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday, to-day, and forever” —the grand central witness of the Lord Jesus. The ark of the tabernacle is the ark of the temple. The cherubs may differ but not the ark itself. “And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of Jehovah unto his place, to the oracle of the house, into the most holy [place, even] under the wings of the cherubim: for the cherubim spread forth [their] wings over the place of the ark and the cherubim covered the ark and the staves thereof above. And they drew out the staves [of the ark], that the ends of the staves were seen from the ark before the oracle: but they were not seen without. And there it is unto this day. [There was] nothing in the ark save the two tables which Moses put [therein] at Horeb, when Jehovah made [a covenant] with the children of Israel, when they came out of Egypt” (vers. 7-20).
This is very striking. Aaron's rod was not there now; neither do we find the pot of manna, but only the tables of stone. Why this difference? Why do we find the former in the tabernacle, and not in the temple? The reason is the change from the present dealings of God in grace, and the future dealings of God in judgment. The authority of God must govern now as always. The man that shrinks from the authority of God's word is not born of God, for what are we born for but to obey? And if to obey, to obey whom but God? We may have our duty with our parents, with our sovereign, and the like—with all lawful authority; but whomsoever we obey, the great One that we have to obey is God Himself. And this gives us a limit, therefore, and shows us where we are not to obey. It is never right to disobey, save where we are to obey God rather than men—for there may be such a collision—and we must then take the consequence. The great point of the Christian is in everything to find the point of obedience. That is his place, and what is to govern. Hence, therefore, always, whether it is the heavenly people, or the earthly with the tables of stone, there must be the expression of God's authority over His people. They are found now, and they will be found in the kingdom, and the kingdom of God will be indeed a most grand expression of the authority of God over the earth; because the nation and kingdom that will not serve—that goes not up to Jerusalem then the people and city of His choice—will be visited by His judgments. God will maintain righteousness all over the world. There will be only one Sovereign then, and although there may be different kings they will be all the servants of God, or they will be destroyed at once if they are not.
But it is a different state of things now. We have now to do with the authority of God. We must always have that in whatever shape it comes; and we have now the authority of God expressed in God's word. But, further, there was the pot of manna, and there was the rod—the witness of the rejected Christ glorified, for that is the meaning of the hidden manna—Christ that came down in humiliation, that, is now gone up glorified on high. That is what we know. You will understand why it could not be then. At that time He would have left the heavenly glory and taken the earth, and, therefore, there would be no sense in it then. This, then, is of importance. As the One who came down is the manna from heaven and went back to heaven, so the pot of manna is in the ark in the most holy place, in the sanctuary of God. Secondly, while Christ is there on high, He is acting as the priest. And the rod of Aaron that budded was the witness of the unfailing priesthood of Christ which alone can bear fruit. The other rods were powerless and lifeless. The human priest is good for nothing; but this divine priest—this Son of God that became man, and entered upon His priesthood on high—is good for everything; and so, accordingly, the stick or rod that was dead bore fruit at once. All fruitfulness then is inseparable from the priesthood of Christ, and there is nothing which destroys fruit to God more than the substitution of an earthly dead priest for the true living one in the presence of God.
Well, you observe that is not the point now, because the Lord will then be taking His place as King: That will be a permanent one, and although I do not deny that He will be priest—for He is to sit as a priest upon His throne when He takes His place by and by—still He will be no longer a hidden one. It is no longer a rod hidden in the most holy place out of the sight of man. He will be then displayed. Every eye will see Him. We must leave room, therefore, for the different dispensations of God.
Then we find the glory of the house. The glory of Jehovah filled it, just as He filled it at the time when the priests were consecrated; for there is a remarkable analogy between these two events. When the high priest was consecrated and the priests, then the glory of Jehovah filled the tabernacle; and now, when the king consecrates the house, the Jehovah-glory comes down again. I am referring of course to the 9th of Leviticus, and comparing it with this. How has that been accomplished. Why, it is true now, and the glory of the Lord fills the church in connection with the priesthood of Christ as truly as it will fill the house of God by and by—the great center of Israel's worship under the King. In short, the glory of God is given in answer to priesthood as well as the kingdom or kingship.
What is the meaning of Pentecost? There we find God coming down to dwell in connection with priesthood, just as by and by, God will dwell in connection with the kingdom, The one is visible, it is true; the other is not so. There was a visible sign of Jehovah's presence in the Holy Ghost being given to us; but of nothing more. But during the kingdom there will be a visible glory on mount Zion and the world will know it. The most distant nations will hear of it. There will be a testimony everywhere of the glory of Jehovah in connection with the people that He blesses.
So in the 6th chapter we have Solomon's grand outpouring of his heart to the Lord, in which he spreads before Jehovah this new state of things that he so well understood. “The king turned his face and blessed the whole congregation of Israel” —for it is not the priest now: it is the king. A remarkable change. In the previous days it was the priest. We, too, have the priest in these days: we have Christ. He is never called our King. It is a great mistake to speak of the Lord as our King. He is the King; but He is the King of Israel; He is the King of the nations. He is never called the King of the church. King is not the relationship of the Lord to the church or to the saint. The one verse in the 15th of Revelation that seems to give it I have already explained. It means “king of nations,” not of “saints"; and a very important error it is to be expunged. There is no doubt of it. There is not a scholar who knows anything at all about these matters who would not agree with me. But anyone—I do not care who he is—whether he is Roman Catholic, or Tractarian, or anything else—would agree with me in this, and he would not require to be told it because every scholar knows it. The notion of “king of saints” is very unscriptural; and it is a very important mistake because the proper notion of the relation of a king to his people is one of distance and of graduated ranks in the kingdom. The word “king” implies graduated ranks, all having their place and their measure of nearness or of distance, and, consequently; there are all kinds of relative distance among themselves.
That is not the case in the church of God, because the least Christian is as much a member of Christ's body as the greatest. You see the fact of the membership of the body puts aside all these questions of relative or different distances. In the kingdom there will be these differences. And this is the reason why so many people misunderstand the church of God. Take Scotland. That is a very Bible-reading people, and yet there is not a people in Europe that goes more wrong about “the King of the church.” It was the great cry at the time that the Free Church came into existence: They thought that the matter which was in dispute at the time between them interfered with Christ's rights as King of the church. That was the grand thing, and as loyal men they naturally stood up for the King. That was the idea. I do not say this because I do not sympathize with their fidelity. It is not that. I have the greatest sympathy with their fidelity; but they do not understand the vitality of our relationship to Christ.
Our relationship is not that of a people to a king, but of members of a body to the Head of the body. Christ and the church make one body, and that makes all the difference to the Christian, because it shows that we are brought into a new place altogether, and that this place is one, not of relative, but of absolute nearness. That is the reason why Peter, where he is not speaking about the body at all, says that “Christ suffered, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God.” That is what puts aside earthly priesthood, because if I have an earthly priest between me and God, I am not absolutely near, and if I am absolutely near I have no earthly priest. And so the assertion of an earthly priesthood is absolutely contradicted by the assertion of the plain simple truth of the gospel. It is not that the Lord Jesus Christ is not entitled to command us, because the head governs the body. There is not a member of my body but what is governed by my head, much more than people are governed by a king or queen, because, I am sorry to say, they do not obey very heartily, and they are rather refractory at the present day. But that is not the case with the members of the body: they must obey. And so it is with Christ and the church. The obedience is one of the most intimate kind. The Spirit of God is given to maintain that union between the Head and the body.
However, I do not mean to illustrate it more. It is enough at the present time to refer to it. It is a very important practical matter, for you will find that if you give up as your grand thought in your relationship that you are a member of Christ's body, and sink into the place of a people governed by the King, you will get into distance; you will get into earthly thoughts of it. You will, practically, become a Jew instead of a Christian, because that is the relationship of the Jew. But the relationship of a Christian is a totally different one; and the substitution of the Jewish relationship for the Christian one, unconsciously Judaizes the church instead of preserving us in our own proper relationship to God. And I suppose that all here are aware that the accomplishment of our duty always depends upon our relationship—always depends upon the sense and attention that we give to our relationship. For instance, a wife has a totally different relationship from a daughter or from a mother, and each person does his own duty only as he is true to his own relationship. There is the great moment of it, and I do most earnestly entreat every Christian to search and see in the word of God whether these things be not so.
Well, then, Solomon blesses the whole of the congregation of Israel, and all of them stood. “And he said, Blessed [be] Jehovah God of Israel, who hath with his hands fulfilled [that] which he spake with his mouth to my father David, saying, Since the day that I brought forth my people out of the land of Egypt I chose no city among all the tribes of Israel to build a house in, that my name might be there; neither chose I any man to be a ruler over my people Israel: but I have chosen Jerusalem, that my name might be there; and have chosen David to be over my people Israel” (6:4-6). He recounts how God had chosen from the beginning, and how as He chose Jerusalem, and not another city, to be the metropolis, so also He chose David's house and no other family, and of David's family He chose Solomon himself. Everything depends upon the election of God, there is nothing good that is not founded upon God's election—nothing. The whole blessedness and strength of the believer depends upon it; and that is what delivers a person from self. I do not mean by that, that one ought to put election before an unconverted soul. Far from it. That would be, indeed, to add to his misery if he feels his misery, But the moment a soul receives Christ then I can tell him that he is chosen of God, and an immense strength and encouragement it is to his heart that he knows that it is not his own will, else it would be weak, and it is not his own choice, else he might flatter himself that it was good, but that it was God's grace and God's election that accounts for his being brought who never deserved it.
Solomon, therefore, struck the right note when he touched this great point of election. And, on the other hand, he shows how God, having taken this house to dwell in could be always prayed to—always looked to in every trouble. No matter what might be the sin or the affliction—whether it was personal or national—God was there to be prayed to. And so we find Israel did. Even if they were out of the land they looked to it as a witness of this great truth. But just think of the folly of Christians taking up such things. Just think of the folly of a Christian turning to the east because a Jew did it, or doing anything else of the sort, just as if the God who is revealed to us is in the east more than any other spot of the earth. Never was there such insensate folly as that which has been prevalent in Christendom. No, we belong to heaven, and we look there if we look anywhere; but that alas! is just where people do not look. [W.K.]
(To be continued)