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Chapter 3

WHY DID HE SAY IT?

FIRST, Because God's great desire is to surround Himself with men; to dwell in their midst; to have them on the most intimate terms with Himself.

What blessed intimacy is seen between God and man in the garden of Eden in these words: "And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air, and brought them unto Adam, to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof"! (Gen. 2:19) How refreshing to look upon such a fair scene as this holy intimacy! God making living creatures, man calling them by name God setting His seal of approval on what man did, man rejoicing in the works of God's hands! What blessed communion, without a jarring note! God seeking His creature's good and comfort, man seeking God's glory and enjoying His presence!

But alas! sin came in, and marred all this Man was put at a distance from God; yet God's desire remained the same; and we see blessed evidence of this in His dealings with man from Eden to this day. Outside of Eden, He companies with Enoch over three hundred years. Again, when the earth was filled with violence through man's sin, and the ark was ready, we hear God saying unto Noah, "Come thou and all thy house into the ark." (Gen. vii. I.) He. did not say Go, but "Come," implying that God was within, and wanted the man who had found favor in His sight in with Him. In the Patriarchal Age also we see how He talked with men: and now, here in the wilderness, when His people are living in tents, thus declaring themselves pilgrims, God says, I will be a pilgrim with you; make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in your midst. Later, when they were brought into the Land, and lived in ceiled houses, He said, "Make Me a house;" whereupon they erected the Temple, and Jehovah filled it with the glory of His presence.

But alas! alas! sin disturbed God's rest each time, and He was constrained to depart. Then we see Him coming down, in the person of His Son, to dwell among men and do them good; but He was pursued from city to city, from hamlet to hamlet; He could find no rest; He could say, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head." (Matt. 8:20.) They crucified Him, and covered Him with shame between two malefactors; but God raised Him up and covered Him with glory on His throne. And now, through the infinite value God sees in the work of Christ on that cross-in His blood shed there-He has sent down His Spirit, and by His Spirit dwells in the Church, in the midst of His heavenly people, never to leave them until He takes them to be with Himself. In the Millennium He will dwell in the midst of His earthly people; but never will His great desire be fully realized and gratified until we reach the eternal state. God will then dwell in the midst of His people indeed, when all in heaven. and all on earth will be gathered about Him and He will be all and in all. His rest will then be absolute and eternal, when He shall have the redeemed of all ages gathered around Himself, on the most intimate terms-the last sigh given, the last tear shed and wiped away by His loving hand-rest, sweet, eternal rest, for God and His people.

Oh, dear reader, are you one of His? Have you been washed from your .sins by the cleansing blood of Jesus? If not, I beseech you, come to Him at once: He says, "Come unto me, all .ye that labor and are heavy laden, and. I. will give you rest." .(Matt. 11:28) This. is. how you can get rest for your conscience. There is no. rest for the wicked : they "are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest." (Isa. 57:20) Oh, how can you rest, with the sins of your life upon you !-eternity before you !-heaven, with all its blessedness, where there is an eternal rest for the people of God !-hell, with all its anguish, where there is an eternal restlessness! for there is NO REST IN HELL. Oh, listen to the Saviour of sinners, as He stands, with arms outstretched to receive you, crying, "Come unto Me; I will give you rest!" You say, What is it to come to Jesus? Well, it implies a turning from your works to rest implicitly in His work on the cross-a turning from yourself to Himself, and trusting Him absolutely for the salvation of your soul. Come with all your sins in this way, come just as you are, and then you will be able to sing:

 

"I came to Jesus as I was-

Weary, and worn, and sad;

I found in Him a resting-place,

And He has made me glad"

 

Second, It was given to teach them the holiness of the One who had come down to dwell in their midst: hence all these walls shutting them out and shutting God in.

Third, It was given to teach them their sinfulness, and their unfitness on account of this to enter God's holy presence.

Dear reader, have you considered the holiness of God, and how your sins have unfitted you to come before Him? Yes, your sins have placed you at an awful distance from Him.

When Isaiah, the most perfect man in Israel, was brought into God's presence, and saw the holiness of His person-saw the seraphim, who had never come into contact with defilement of any kind, veil their faces with their wings and cry; "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts!" then was wrung from his heart the cry, "Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips." (Isa. 6:5.) When he saw the holiness of God, the righteousness of His throne, the profound reverence of the heavenly intelligences on the one hand, and on the other his own sinfulness and the sinfulness of the people with whom he lived, he saw also the awful distance there was between his soul and God, and he cried out," Woe is me!"' In the preceding chapter he had pronounced six woes on six different classes in Israel but when brought into the Lord's presence, he pronounced the seventh woe upon himself 'His neighbors' sins troubled him no more, but his own did. These must be attended to at 'once; and, thank God, they were, but not by Isaiah. How could he put then away? Could he sweep them away by the power of his hand? or wash them away by his tears? or have them removed by any of his efforts? Ah no! but, thank God, if a sight of the 'holiness of the Lord and the righteousness of His throne, and a sight of his own unfitness for the presence 'of one so holy, led him to pass judgment upon himself and take his place in the dust, it also brought him low enough to see another thing, and that was the altar, and the provision of the altar. The live coal had done its work; the sacrifice bad been consumed; and nothing remained but the live coal itself: this was applied to Isaiah's lips, and the sweet and blessed assurance given, "Thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin is purged." (Isa. 6:7.) The look of' anguish passes from his face, and three comes instead the light of holy joy as he believes what is said to him.

Oh, dear unsaved one! that altar is Christ; the sacrifice consumed on it by the live coal is a type of Christ's work on the cross FOR YOU; and the live coal is a type of God's holiness consuming that which is contrary to His mind. When Christ was made sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21), and bore in His own body on the tree (I Pet. ii. 24) the sins of all who accept Him, it was then God did His "strange work" of judgment upon Him, and He was led to cry out," My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" He was then "cut off" that we might be brought home and bound to God's heart of love forever. It was then the coal of fire reached His heart, and He could say, "My heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels." (Psa. 22:14) The fire, that should have been your portion and mine throughout eternity, was His at this awful moment. Yes; the coal has done its work, its "strange work;" the sacrifice has been consumed -all, all has gone up to God. He "was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification. Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Rom.4:25; 5:1) The live coal, type of God's holiness, lies NOW upon the altar, waiting, anxiously waiting, for you, sinner, to take the place Isaiah took, and pass Judgment upon yourself, as he did; and the very instant you do, it will purge you from every sin, and every stain of sin; for the word of God declares, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." ( John i. 9.) "Be it known unto you, therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by him all that believe are justified from all things." (Acts 13:38,39.) Isaiah knew his sins were gone because the seraphim said so. You can KNOW that YOURS ARE GONE because GOD SAYS SQ. Oh, I am exceedingly anxious that, before you lay down this paper, you may believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved! Time is short: "The coming of the Lord draweth nigh." Oh, sinner, do not trifle with divine things! flee, flee to the outstretched arms of your Saviour!

Fourth, It was to teach Israel that the only way of approach to God was through a sacrifice, and that such a one as God should appoint. Man had no choice in the matter; be was. called upon to submit to. God's judgment in it all, and bring the God-appointed sacrifice.. God, in His infinite love, has appointed, and also provided, a sacrifice for us-His only begotten Son. As such, Jesus has been offered up, and accepted of God; and now God is waiting for you to accept Him -by Him to enter into God's presence, and be reconciled.

Do not dare think of approaching God in any other way. Cain tried that, was rejected, and eventually left the presence of the Lord, with God's curse upon him. "Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain." (Jude '3.) This is what is to characterize professors in the last days of this dispensation. We see it everywhere-men and women trying to get into God's presence with some goodness or merit of their own: "Woe unto them! they have gone in the way of Cain." Abel came with a sacrifice, and offered it up by faith; God accepted it, and Abel was accepted in it. That sacrifice was a type of Christ. Come, then, to God with Christ-with Christ only. You will be accepted in Him; and the measure of His acceptance with God will be the measure of yours also-accepted IN The Accepted One.

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