ECHOES FROM EDEN
A SABBATH IN EDEN
"Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and HE RESTED ON THE SEVENTH DAY from all His work which He had made. And God BLESSED THE SEVENTH DAY, AND SANCTIFIED IT: because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made" (Gen. 2:1-3).
In the two previous Studies on this subject of A SABBATH IN EDEN I have pointed out that the Sabbath in Gen. 2:2-3 was not a twenty-four period of time, in which God rested from the labor of six other twenty-four hour periods of time. The Sabbath following the six days of creation is an ETERNAL DAY OF REST in which God still abides, a day ever accessible to man, for man is still enjoined to "enter into His (God's) rest" (Heb. 4:1-11). How could it be possible today, six long millenniums after Adam dwelt in Eden, for man to "enter into GOD'S REST," if God's rest ended at the close of a twenty-four hour day thousands of year ago? This blessed Sabbath of God to which the Spirit now points us is THE ETERNAL REALM OF GOD'S OWN REST AND GLORY, sanctified and set apart for man, that man might have entrance into it, to know God there, to experience God there, and forever abide in union with God in the high and holy and blessed realm of HIS LIFE, REST, JOY, PEACE, RIGHTEOUSNESS AND VICTORY.
This hallowed realm of God's rest is three-fold as pertains to man, for man has three main parts in his being: body, soul, and spirit. The Spirit of God is today teaching us how great is the necessity for each of these three faculties of our being to "enter into His rest," that we might know the fullness of the rest of God provided for THE WHOLE MAN. God has not given us a Sabbath merely for the body, nor just for the soul, nor alone for the spirit. The simple truth of the matter is this: When the omniscient, immutable, omnipotent, and eternal God said, "They shall enter into My rest," He INTENDED THE WHOLE MAN TO ENTER INTO THAT REST, spirit, soul, and body. Behold how great and complete a provision God has made for His people! In this present article we shall pursue further the thought of a three-fold Sabbath for man.
A SABBATH FOR THE SPIRIT
Praise God! our spirits have been quickened by God's Spirit, and there is a rest deep within our bosoms, begotten by the Spirit of Him WHO IS REST. Here is where God's Sabbath is rooted, in the area of our spirit. "He that is joined unto the Lord is ONE SPIRIT" (I Cor. 6:17). There is a rest in the spirit of every begotten child of God which is a source of mighty peace and victory in the midst of earth's trying circumstances. WITHIN YOUR SPIRIT, my brother, my sister, has been planted the incorruptible seed of the Christ life and therein is a reservoir of THE PEACE OF GOD that passeth all human understanding.
A SABBATH FOR THE SOUL
"And He brought us out from thence, that He might bring us in, to give us the land which He sware unto our fathers" (Deut. 6:23). God's purpose in delivering us from our sins and quickening us in our spirit is that He should bring us into our heritage in Christ. The one is not complete without the other. He died that we might be delivered from the power of sin and death and rose again that we might live in the realm of His more abundant life. We thank God for what He has done in saving us and making us His people. One thing remains: "There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief" (Heb. 4:9,11). That means possessing our possessions; and that is exactly what God bids us do. God wants us to receive that divine enablement whereby we shall be "able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God" (Eph. 3:18-19).
Rest for the soul! Rest for the mind and emotions, rest from the wearings of the will and desires of the flesh. Soul weariness can't be healed through sleep or relaxation, as can body weariness, and it actually rob us of sleep. It involves tension, fear, anxiety, anger, frustration, the disturbing of our inner peace, the deep unrest of mind and heart that saps strength from the center of our being. While in this world, no matter how much we try, things are constantly happening that batter away at our soul. These battles take their toll, and as a result, our soul need to be rested. If we try to fight in our own strength against the things that assault our souls, we will just heighten the problem. Temptations that we have to resist, arguments in which we find ourselves embroiled, misunderstanding between friends, family, and brethren, rumors that we somehow get caught up in, accusations that are hurled toward us, the multiplied pressures on the job and at home, all the activities of trying to keep pace with this world's system - these are all things that constantly beat upon the soul to wear us down.
Soul rest is a gift that comes from the God of all grace. The world fails to find rest for its soul in spite of attempts made through drugs, Eastern religions and philosophies, abnormal sexual practices, rock music, psychiatry, psychology, psychoanalysis, and countless other ways. It would be a great blessing if every man on earth could hear by the Spirit the wonderful invitation of the Christ of God: "COME UNTO ME, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I WILL GIVE YOU REST. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me: and YE SHALL FIND REST UNTO YOUR SOULS" (Mat. 11:28-29). This is the divine prescription for a soul which needs rest. People in the world who are going at ninety miles an hour in their whirl of worldly pursuits and pleasures may seem to have everything under control, but they are restless in their souls. It is as impossible for the man or woman who hasn't come to Christ and been QUICKENED BY THE SPIRIT to be rested in their soul as it is for a tom-cat to sprout wings and fly above the mountains.
If we will turn our hearts away from the things of this world and from the religious vanity, the churchianity, the religious rubbish that everywhere confronts us, and turn our eyes upon CHRIST JESUS, we will find rest for our souls. All who long after HIS REST must cease from following after men to inquire of them and imbibe their vain philosophy. The carnal mind has nothing more to offer in counsel but darkness and death, for the carnal mind IS DEAD, and knows nothing at all of that which pertains to life. For the people of God to seek counsel from the counsellors of this world, be they psychologist, psychiatrists, marriage counsellors, or the ministers of religion in the harlot church systems, is as futile and worthless as seeking counsel from a zombie. How accurately did Paul pen the words in Rom. 8:6: "For to be carnally minded IS DEATH; but to be spiritually minded IS LIFE AND PEACE." The Amplified Bible reads: "Now the mind of the flesh, which is sense and reason WITHOUT THE HOLY SPIRIT, is death - but the mind of the Spirit is life and SOUL-PEACE both now and forevermore." How many of the world's Christians, enmeshed in the carnal system of religion commonly known as "the church," daily seek human counsel which is, in all reality, nothing more than the advice of men who are walking in fallen, unregenerate, carnal minds. As a worm looks at things through the eyes of a worm with the limited understanding of its worm mind, so carnal men see all things through carnal minds and give their counsel as carnal men, and often the counselor is in as great darkness as the counseled. Oh! that all God's people would call a halt to running hither and thither seeking after counsel and prayers and blessings from men, and in place of all their carnally-minded pursuits turn aside to BEHOLD THE GLORY OF THE LORD as His Spirit moves in their spirits like a quickening stream that they might cease from their labors and FIND REST UNTO THEIR SOULS.
Listen now, with bowed head and contrite spirit, to the heart-cry of the lovely Shulamite as she, possessed by the godly desire to enter into a closer walk with her Beloved, and to know Him in deeper measures of intimacy and union, implores, "Tell me, O Thou whom my soul loveth, where Thou feedest, where Thou makest Thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of Thy companions?" (S. of S. 1:7). All that the world or any creature can give, is as ashes to that hungry soul who is longing for a revelation of his Lord. Nothing else can satisfy, nothing else can bring peace and joy and imperishable reality. All other love is as husks, to the love and companionship of God, and to the love which He draws from the heart that is yielded to Him. The lovely Shulamite maiden in the Song of Solomon represents the elect of God. Truly has His Name become to God's apprehended ones as ointment poured forth; and their hunger for divine fellowship and communion has increased, so that they long TO BE FED BY HIM, and Him alone. They would know WHERE HE IS FEEDING HIS FLOCK, that they may join that company which follows the Lamb to Zion's holy hill and behold Him all the time.
It is absolutely amazing to see how God is drawing those who are willing to pay the price to go all the way with God in this momentous hour. His hand is upon them, and He is drawing them to Himself in increasingly deeper measures. there is no self-satisfaction with those whom God is drawing and making hungry for Himself. Though we are always satisfied with Christ, it seems that the more we feed upon Him and the more satisfied we become in our relationship with Him, the hungrier we are for Him. The more we drink of the living waters, the more satisfied we become and yet the thirstier we are. The closer we draw to God, the more Christ is revealed to us, the more satisfied we are, and yet the more fervently our hearts pant for Him. This is because a portion of our being has been satisfied, and the portion that remains desires Him all the more! The reason many of God's children are not hungering and thirsting after Him, is because they are not feeding at all, or are eating the impure, contaminated food of the carnal doctrines and programs of the church systems, and drinking lukewarm muddy water from Babylon's polluted streams.
How puny, how weak, how miserable at best, is our love for our Lord! Oh, that He would melt us down, that we might cry to Him with a voice that would go right up into His heart: "O Thou, whom my soul loveth, tell me where Thou art feeding Thy flock, that I may ever keep step with Thee: and not be lingering over food that is fried, withered, and untimely, even though it may once, in some revival or experience of the past, been fresh. Guide me, that I may walk in every ray of light and continually feed upon Thee who art the Bread of Life; feed in trial and perplexity, in pressure and trouble, in temptation and difficulty; that from Thee, who art my strength and redeemer, I may derive the quickening power for everything that comes into my life." "Tell me where Thou feedest Thy flock," is the fervent cry in the hearts of all Sons of God. Their hunger and desire after HIM have increased as they search for, and follow after reality.
And now comes the promise: "I will feed My flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God. I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains...shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed" (Eze. 43:15,14). How significant that in these verses we find that first comes the FEEDING, and then follows the REST. There would be no rest if one's stomach were gnawing with hunger pangs. The internal desires must be satisfied first. We have tried in our fleshly zeal to find that which satisfies, and we have wandered through a great and vast wilderness of religious programs, rituals, ceremonies, meetings, revivals, and activities, only to discover that the shepherds of Babylon have trampled under foot the precious and glorious realities our hearts have so desperately panted after. But HE who is the GOOD SHEPHERD has promised that HE will feed, and HE will cause to lie down! It is His own sovereign work, as many can testify who have heard His voice and have followed on to know the Lord. One does not "work up" nor "shout down" the deep dealings and unfoldings of God, they have to be given by the Spirit to our spirit, and simply received and appropriated by faith and obedience. How precious is the impartation of HIS LIFE, and when it ABIDES WITHIN, you find a rest taking over within. Gone are the strivings and the multitude of works. No need, now for the flesh to conjure up a new batch of religious exercises, for the soul is at rest, divinely quickened, divinely sustained.
"Tell me, O Thou whom my soul loveth, where Thou feedest, where Thou MAKEST THY FLOCK TO REST AT NOON." How this word reveals our utter helplessness to feed ourselves or find the place where He is feeding His flock. With what intense desire do we beseech Him not only to lead us in green pastures of His Word, not only to feed us in the company which is nearest Him, but we would be so close to Him that our eyes may rest upon Him and Him alone, and that His shall be the only voice to fall upon our harkening ears. We pray that HE will open up to us all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge which are hidden in Him; that He will teach us to feed upon the Hidden Manna of an incorruptible life.
It is when the flock has to the full, that they LIE DOWN, but the shepherd is with them all the time. Thus would we have it continually in our life. When we have fed upon the Living Word of Christ so that faith has arisen in our hearts, we can then lie down upon that Word in rest and confidence, knowing that we are in the pasture of the Great Shepherd. As we eat of HIM, and LIE DOWN WITH HIM upon the promises of God, and hide away in blessed fellowship with Him, we shall find peace and rest to our souls. Is your life tossed and troubled, beloved friend, is your mind weary, your nerves frayed, your emotions erupting, agitated and distressed? I do not hesitate to say that it is because you have not sought out Him whom thy soul loveth, you have not found the place where HE FEEDETH HIS FLOCK and MAKEST IT TO REST AT NOON, you have not discovered that blessed place ALONE WITH HIM AT HIS FEET, even the secret place of the Most High.
Those who would be the Sons of God in this dark hour must be diligent to feed in the green pastures of His leading, not only in the cool of the morn and at eve when the dew is upon the grass, but even in the hottest hour of the day, when the sun is beating down so fiercely, and there is no breeze stirring. Amidst all the pressures within and without we must be so nourished and strengthened by the heavenly manna of HIS INDWELLING LIFE, that the heat cannot make us faint, nor the storms dismay or make us afraid.
There is a wonderful relationship with Christ, in which we are hidden away and draw upon Him for all enabling and strength in every time of need. Not only this, There is a relationship where He causes us to lie down and rest when all is turmoil about us. When everything without is going wrong, when the toast burns, and the milk spills, and the brats bawl, and the car won't start, and the tire goes flat on the freeway, and the boss curses, and the pressures reach the point of crushing the life out, even in the worse testings and the hardest things that can come upon us, HE IS ABLE TO MAKE US REST BESIDE STILL WATERS. Though the sun's rays are hot, and, in ourselves, we would be overcome; He will hush our fears and cause us to rest. He will spread His wing over us, and in its shadow we shall rest. In the covert of His INDWELLING PRESENCE will He hide us from the plottings and words of men. He will keep us secretly in His pavilion from the strife of tongues, for He is our keeper. He is our shade upon our right hand, the sun shall not smite us by day nor the moon by night. As the whole world situation crumbles around us in the days which lie ahead, HE will keep our going out and our coming in. He will keep us from all evil, for He neither slumbers nor sleeps. Those who KNOW THIS are SONS OF THE MOST HIGH GOD!
Rest for the soul! "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls" (Mat. 11:28-29). Have you noticed how, in the original invitation of our Lord to come to Him, the promise of rest is repeated twice, with such a variation in the conditions as suggest that ABIDING REST can only be found in HIS ABIDING PRESENCE. First the Lord says, "Come unto Me, and I will give you rest." The very moment you come, and believe, I will give you rest - the rest of forgiveness and acceptance - the rest of My grace. But we know that all God gives must eventually be INWORKED into our very nature, to become our STATE OF BEING, before it is truly our own. It must be held fast, and appropriated, and assimilated into our innermost being; without this not even Christ's giving can make it experientially our very own - part of us. And so the Lord repeats His promise, in words which clearly speak not so much of the initial rest with which He welcomes the weary one who comes, but of the deeper INWORKED REST of the soul that yields completely to Him. He now not only says, "Come unto Me," but "Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me." He says, "Become My disciples, My scholars, My disciplined ones; yield yourselves to My training, submit in all things to My will, let your whole life be one with Mine," and then He promises, not only, "I will give," but "Ye shall FIND REST to your souls." The rest He gave when you came will now become something you have really found and made your own, yea, something YOU HAVE BECOME. This is the place of not only having rest, but BEING REST.
But alas! I hear someone say, it is this constant labor to bear His yoke, to learn of Him, that is so difficult, and the very effort to attain to this often disturbs my rest even more than the pressures from the world around me. What a mistake to speak thus! Does it weary the traveller to rest on the bed where he seeks relaxation from his fatigue? Or is it a labor for an infant to rest in its mother's arms? Is it not the bed that supports the traveller? Do not the arms of the mother sustain and keep the little one? And so it is with CHRIST IN OUR SPIRIT. The soul has but to yield itself to HIM, to be still and rest in the confidence that "GREATER IS HE THAT IS IN YOU, THAN HE THAT IS IN THE WORLD" (I Jn. 4:4). I stand in amazement and wonder at such words of life as these. The Christ within rejoices in them, and my own begotten spirit shouts, "Amen!" He that is within IS GREATER than all, therefore the soul who trusts in this truth finds blessed rest. This rest is the fruit of the fellowship of God's own rest, it is the peace of God, the great calm of the eternal world, that passeth all understanding, where CHRIST IS LORD OF ALL.
God wants you to know that He that is WITHIN YOU IS GREATER than he that is in the world. If He is - HE IS! It doesn't mean that He is greater IF you pray all night, IF you read ten chapters in the Bible each day, IF you fast all week, IF you praise ever so loud or long, IF you "plead the blood" every time evil presents itself, IF you go to the meeting and sing some chorus twenty-five times, or IF you have five prophecies and two seven-foot angels assuring you that He is working in your behalf. Though none of the above happen, it is still a great fact: HE THAT IS IN YOU IS GREATER THAN HE THAT IS IN THE WORLD. He IS GREATER! IS! IS! IS! Only the blessed Holy Spirit can take this word and make it real. Let us therefore humbly bow before the Lord of the universe, and acknowledge in adoring contemplation this glorious truth that He who dwells in the secret place of our quickened spirit IS GREATER than all the raging passions of the soul and all the powers and pressures that are in the world.
Twenty years ago a spiritualist sat across a room from me and told me that he could take my spirit out of my body while I while slept, and bring it up to talk to him in the night. This man continually worked in occult powers, and had I not known the wonder of THE INDWELLING CHRIST there might have been reason to become alarmed, or fearful. But in those days the Spirit of God had made wonderfully real to my heart the absolute and uncontrovertible truth that He that is within me IS GREATER than all. This, beloved friend, is an unalterable and eternal fact, contingent upon nothing but our simple acceptance of it as fact. No religious works of any kind will add aught to this fact, no pietistic exercises can make it any more effective - He simply IS GREATER! Calmly, I looked this spiritualist in the eye and said, "I defy you; you can never take my spirit out of my body and carry it anywhere." When I left that house I did not even pray about the matter; I did not waste time worrying or thinking about it; neither did I commence to "bind the devil," or "plead the blood," or "rebuke the spirits." I simply forgot about it. When one KNOWS THAT HE KNOWS that THE CHRIST WITHIN IS GREATER it gives blessed rest.
"For thus saith the Lord God: in rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength" (Isa. 30:15). That very night I had an experience while sleeping. I dreameth, and in my dream I saw my mother, who has moved for many years in a powerful gift of tongues and interpretation. She was standing with right hand stretched forth, speaking vehemently in other tongues, in the tone of authority and rebuke. Immediately I awoke, and the Spirit of God revealed to me that at that very moment the spiritualist was working with occult powers to draw my spirit from my body, but the dream revealed that even as I slept in confidence in the power of the Christ within, THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD HAD RAISED UP A STANDARD AGAINST HIM, and no evil on earth could touch me. Ah, beloved, this victory came not from much agonizing, praying, rebuking, or binding. It came by calm and patient ASSURANCE. Either the Christ within is greater than all, or He isn't. Through the years I have learned more and more of the certain reality of the mystery, hidden from all previous ages, "which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27). This is a great fact, and those who pray the loudest and rebuke devils the longest, have never discovered this fact, and have the least faith.
Oh! that Spirit of wisdom and revelation from God may give to all who read these pages the ability to see with enlightened eyes how it is that this blessed realm of REST, PEACE, and CONFIDENCE IN THE CHRIST WITHIN is the Sabbath of the Lord our God. We are to labor to enter into this rest! We are to labor to come to the point of faith where we stop striving and calmly LET GOD BE GOD. We must believe that Christ, the Almighty One, will in very deed lead, teach, defend, keep, preserve, deal, work, transform, and sustain us all the day. Oh my Lord and my God! If ever our hearts should doubt or fear again, as if the reality were too great to expect, or too high to attain, let us hear Thy voice to quicken our faith and obedience: "Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; and ye shall find rest UNTO YOUR SOULS." When in everything you can rest in God, you have stepped into eternal fountain of life and inexhaustible riches of Christ. There is no faith so mighty as the faith that RESTS IN GOD alone. When I pray, I never excite myself. I get excited about many things. You who heard me minister the Word know how excited I can get over the revelation of God for this hour! I have been known to get LOUD. But of all the lessons God has taught me, I think none as sweet as this, that when I pray, then I rest. I rest in God. In quiet faith we step into the fountain of God's unfailing goodness and there stand still to see the salvation of the Lord.
THIS IS MY REST
There is another truth altogether as grand as the truth of our entering into the rest of God, namely, God entering in to rest in us. "And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and HE RESTED on the seventh day from all His work which He had made" (Gen. 2:2). It is now, as it has been through all the ages of time, the Lord may work in many a house, but He can find rest in very few. So He works in many souls, and comes to bring His fullness; but few so entirely yield to Him, as to let Him rest there.
Our Lord Jesus the Christ said, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nest; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head" (Mat. 8:20). Yes, the "little foxes" that spoil the vines have holes for lodging within us, the "spirit-birds" of negative and erroneous thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs build nests in our minds and hearts and souls, but few men give THE MIND OF CHRIST a true resting-place. For Christ to rest in us means that all His labor in us is finished, the work of transformation and re-creation is accomplished, and His will is done in us as it is done in heaven. God is beheld in glory in His temple, which temple we are. We enter into rest when we cease from our labors that God can work; and HE RESTS IN US when HIS WORK IN US IS COMPLETED. God will not, cannot rest, until His will is done and His image is seen in the creation.
Would God that all the saints might see that God's purpose from the foundation of the world has been the building of a spiritual house, an holy temple, an eternal abiding place in which He can be at home and rest. It is a house made up of many living stones. Every stone is a redeemed person and every stone is a person upon whom the mighty hand of God has been laid in dealing. More than three thousand years ago Solomon built a magnificent temple of stone and precious materials. He overlaid it with gold and adorned it with silver. All manner of costly stones were in it. So wonderful was it that the Queen of Sheba stood transfixed at the sight. But the temple built by Solomon was only an ephemeral foreshadow of the living temple which Christ would build by the Spirit - a temple not made with hands (Eph. 2:19-22).
Surely it was not by accident that Solomon, the type of Christ who should build the eternal house of God, received his name. Solomon means "rest." It is interesting that Stephen, referring to Solomon and his temple says, "But Solomon built Him an house. Howbeit the Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool: what house will ye build Me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of My rest?" (Acts 7:47-49). The temple of God IS THE PLACE OF HIS REST, and there is only one temple recognized by the Lord, the TEMPLE OF HIS BODY, the temple which YE ARE.
"Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof. Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces" (Ps. 48:12-13). "For the Lord hath chosen Zion; He hath desired it for His habitation. THIS IS MY REST FOREVER: here will I dwell; for I have desired it. I will abundantly bless her provision: I will satisfy her poor with bread. I will also clothe her priests with salvation: and her saints shall shout aloud for joy" (Ps. 132:13-16). These important verses teach us that ZION IS THE PLACE OF GOD'S REST.
There was a day when, confined within the dank walls of a prison house, Paul, the beloved apostle, was caught away in spirit into a realm of revelation. There he beheld Mount Sinai, dreadful in its awesome glory, a mount that durst not be touched, where flaming consuming fire dwelt with horrible black darkness. A terrifying storm raged upon its heights, wind-blown flames and smoke pierced the sky. Out of the tempest sounded a deafening trumpet-blast, a voice speaking human words, the voice of the Almighty, so terrible, that those who heard it begged and prayed that it might say no more. Beasts straying near the mountain were instantly killed and so fearful was the spectacle that Moses himself cried out, "I am terrified and tremble!" In his spirit Paul was there at Mount Sinai with the children of Israel, trembling like a reed shaken by the wind, fearing with their fear, dreading with their dread.
Suddenly the scene was changed as the Holy Spirit transported him across the ages of time to gaze with wonder upon things that were yet to come, to another, more beautiful scene. Borne by the Spirit he stood before another Mount, even glorious spiritual Zion, an eternal Mount inhabited by a spiritual race of Kings and Priests, the Sons of the living God. No longer did he see an impregnable fortress within the walls of an earthly Jerusalem, but a celestial Zion, composed of the redeemed and glorified Army of the Most High. There dwells the Church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven, the spirits of just men made perfect, and Jesus Christ, the first-born of many brethren, the mediator of the new covenant, whose priceless redeeming blood speaks better things than that of Abel.
Paul's spirit is enraptured with glory, his heart is exulting in praise, as he beholds the transcendent glory of SPIRITUAL MOUNT ZION contrasted with the indescribable dreadfulness of Mount Sinai. From his mouth pours forth the prophetic pronouncement: "For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them anymore: (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) BUT YE ARE COME UNTO MOUNT ZION, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, and to general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel" (Heb. 12:18-24).
What is this MOUNT ZION, the PLACE OF GOD'S REST, and what is this city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem? The best way to come to an understanding of its true meaning is to go back to the Old Testament and consider the shadow. Israel of old was God's chosen nation, His peculiar treasure above all the people of the earth. Israel was the visible expression of the Kingdom of God upon earth. Israel was the whole nation and in type represents all who, under the new covenant, are born into the Kingdom of God by spiritual birth. All who were born of the flesh in Israel were citizens of the Kingdom, mattered not their station, whether the king upon the throne, or the blind beggar by the roadside; all alike were citizens by virtue of birth. In this more glorious dispensation of the Spirit, each and every son of Adam's race who have been BORN AGAIN BY THE SPIRIT through the washing of regeneration, are alike citizens of that Kingdom which is no longer a literal dusty little country thronging with peasants and cattle who inhabit tumbledown shacks and barns, but an eternal land, a heavenly country of a spiritual order, the inhabitants of which have been born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.
Israel was the whole nation; Jerusalem, the capital city. And as that old order of the flesh was but a type and shadow of the new order of the Spirit (Heb. 10:1; Col. 2:16-17), therefore the New Jerusalem is the capital city, transcendent in glory, in Israel today, which is Christ's Kingdom and of which our Lord said, it "is not of this world" (I Jn. 18:36). This is a city of redeemed persons, but persons who have not only been born as citizens of heavenly country, but have MOVED ONWARD to dwell in the capital city of that country, a realm of surpassing beauty and glory, the inhabitants of which are the embodiment of the glory of God and the light thereof.
One of the chief mistakes made by Christians of almost all persuasions is the common notion that all saved people belong to the same company or rank in God's Kingdom. Men like to imagine that ALL Christians are the bride of Christ, ALL are sons of God, ALL have the mind of Christ, ALL are "going to the same place" and so on. To assume this is to frustrate the purpose of God in your life. Do not be deceived by the senseless prattle of carnally minded theologians, nor by the childish understanding of baby Christians. There are many justified believers who have not been filled with the Holy Spirit of God. There are many Spirit-baptized believers who have not grown up into maturity. And nearly all Christians fit somewhere in between those who are just SAVED BY GRACE and those who have been completely CONFORMED TO THE IMAGE OF THE SON OF GOD.
It should be clear to all who have eyes to see that the JERUSALEM PEOPLE dwell in a brighter glory than do the ISRAEL PEOPLE, even as SPIRIT-FILLED PEOPLE dwell in a brighter glory than do JUSTIFIED PEOPLE. The New Jerusalem is THE BRIDE OF CHRIST (Rev. 21:2, 9-10). A bride is one who is no longer a babe, but has reached a degree of maturity, and has fallen so intensely in love that her only wish is to yield herself to high desires of her husband, giving herself completely and unreservedly to him as her lover, submitting her whole life to him as her head and lord. Oh! So many of the Lord's redeemed people know so little of what it means to BE THE BRIDE OF CHRIST! Not all who pray the sinner's prayer, who receive Christ as Saviour, and fill the pews of Churches on Sunday morning, have discovered this blessed relationship with Christ. I do not believe that I would be mistaken to say that practically none have. Only those who truly FOLLOW ON in their Christian life to know the Lord in this secret place of intense love and complete surrender, of intimacy of fellowship and vital union, ARE THE NEW JERUSALEM, the city foursquare, which is THE BRIDE OF CHRIST, having the glory of God.
And what is MOUNT ZION? To correctly unlock this prophetic expression we need to go back again and consider the shadow. Israel was the whole nation; Jerusalem, the capital city. All Israelites were alike citizens of the Kingdom, but not all Israelites dwelt in Jerusalem, the city of the great king, where stood the temple of God, the priesthood, and the glory. And while Jerusalem comprised a people of surpassing honor and glory and relationship to God, yet in all Jerusalem there was only one who, with his household, DWELT ON MOUNT ZION. He was the King. Zion is the name of the ancient citadel of Jerusalem. It was captured by David shortly after he became King. From that hill David and the Kings of Israel reigned gloriously, and the Ark of God rested there all through the reign of David which was forty years, and for several years afterward until the temple was completed by Solomon. Mount Zion, the hill of David the King, was the highest pinnacle of glory attainable in Israel. But that Zion was only a faint shadow of THE ZION TO WHICH WE ARE COME. David was King over natural Israel. Christ is King over spiritual Israel. David dwelt on the natural Mount Zion. Therefore Christ dwells upon the spiritual Mount Zion. And this spiritual Mount Zion is composed of those who reach the very highest pinnacle attainable in Jerusalem: those who, like King David of old are " a man after Mine own heart, which shall fulfill ALL MY WILL" (Acts 13:22). This Mount Zion Company is the ruling class, the overcomers of whom it is written: "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne" (Rev. 3:21). These are the Kings and Priests unto God, after the Order of Melchisedec, those who have attained to the highest position of honor and might and true greatness in the Kingdom of God. It comprises those who are such as have gone all the way with their Lord and shall now rule with Christ upon His throne over God's infinite realm for evermore.
The apostle John was borne away on the wings of the Spirit into a realm of revelation and beheld this Zion company. "And I looked, and lo, a Lamb stood on Mount Zion, and with Him an hundred and forty and four thousand, having His Father's name written on their foreheads. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb" (Rev. 14:1,4). They are said to have His Father's name written in their foreheads, in distinction to those who, in Rev. 13:16, receive the mark of the beast in their foreheads. The mark of the beast denotes those who have subscribed to the authority, doctrines, spirit, blasphemy, idolatry and practices of the beastly system of Mystery Babylon. Practically every Christian living is in some way submitted to this religious harlot falsely called "the Church." This beastly system is so in grained in the minds of God's people and they are so saturated with it in their very natures that they can neither think nor function apart from it. God's name is not in their foreheads. They do not have the MIND OF CHRIST, but rather they have the distorted mind of the beast. The Mark of God, the Father's name in the forehead, IS THE MIND OF CHRIST. Those who stand with the Lamb on Zion's holy hill have God's mind. They have been made conformable to His death. Nothing is left of Babylon's ways, nothing is left of their own will, but they find unspeakable joy and pleasure in this: "I do always those things that please the Father."
The only people who could possibly REIGN WITH CHRIST will be those who through death to self have become ONE WITH HIS MIND. All through the ages there have been a minute few who by the grace of God have been able to crucify self, put off the carnal mind, and become LIKE UNTO THE SON OF GOD. Would you dare say that most Christians in any age have attained to this? Ah, beloved, I can assure you that these individuals have been so few in number that if you could place them as grains of sand upon the seashores even one of them. This is Mount Zion!
But. let us nevermore forget, "YE ARE COME unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem." The darkened masses in Babylon's religious systems think that they will somehow, away on in the future, enter this heavenly city and ascend Mount Zion's height, with fluttering wings and wispy white nightgowns and strumming harps. Trash and nonsense! "YE ARE COME," not "will come" unto Mount Zion. Mount Zion is not a beautiful park, a celestial Disney World, away off somewhere, a billion billions miles away. It is a present reality. It is a place in God. It is an attainment in the Spirit. And "the Lord hath chosen Zion; He hath desired it for His habitation. THIS IS MY REST FOREVER: here will I dwell; for I have desired it" (Ps. 132:13-14).
God's Kingdom and Throne and Temple are all an eternal reality right now on this earth. God's Kingdom is a people, those begotten by the Word of God and born again of His Spirit. The New Jerusalem is a people, even those who have fallen fiercely in love with Christ Jesus, who abide in the hidden place of intimate fellowship and union with Him, walking in blessed submission to His Spirit, the BRIDE OF CHRIST. God's Throne is a people, those in whose hearts and lives He is ENTHRONED AS KING, having counted all else but loss, to suffer with Him. God's Temple is a people, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you?" (I Cor. 3:16; 6:19). And Mount Zion is a people, the Kings and Priests who rule and reign with the Lamb, the GOVERNMENT OF GOD upon earth!
This Zion company is THE PLACE OF GOD'S REST. These become God's eternal SABBATH DAY, His SABBATH PEOPLE, the personification of His peace, and joy, and righteousness in the Holy Ghost. These are God's resting place because in them GOD HAS DONE A PERFECT WORK, the entire process of re-creation has been brought to its consummation, nothing remains to be accomplished to bring forth the image of God in them, God has ended all His work which He has created and made, and now IN THE BLESSEDNESS OF THIS NEW CREATION HE CAN REST.
Oh the depth that opens here! As in the beginning, God made the heavens, and yet rested not; He made the sun, the moon, and the stars, and yet He rested not; He made the earth, and yet He rested not; He made the herbs, and fruits, and the moving creatures of sea and land and air, and yet He rested not. But He made man, His image in the earth, AND THEN HE RESTED. I do not hesitate to declare to you that God has saved men, and yet he rested not; He has blessed men, and yet He rested not; He has healed men, and yet He rested not; He has given gifts and ministries unto men, and yet He rested not; He has shown marvelous revelations unto men, and yet He rested not. But when MOUNT ZION IS ESTABLISHED He declares, "THIS IS MY REST FOREVER: here will I dwell; for I have desired it!"
Do you despair, my friend, that God shall ever complete His work in your life and find in you a place to rest? I invite you to come now, lend your ear to the gentle voice of the Lord God your Creator as He whispers to His apprehended ones this precious promise: "For Zion's sake I will not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, UNTIL THE RIGHTEOUSNESS THEREOF GO FORTH AS BRIGHTNESS, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name. Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God" (Isa. 62:1-3).
Zion has already been established within to the degree that HE IS LORD WITHIN. Thank God! from dealing, from quickening to quickening, from judgment to judgment, from glory to glory shall we go as He works, until His dominion within is complete, AND GOD CAN REST IN ZION FOREVERMORE.
J. PRESTON EBY
J. PRESTON EBY
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