Luke 24:29; John 1:38, 39.
In the address to Laodicea the Lord, standing at the door and knocking, says, "If any man hear my voice; and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." (Rev. 3:20.) In the incidents recorded in the above scriptures we have an illustration of the fulfilment of this promise. The two disciples on the journey to Emmaus, though they had not recognised their Companion, had been drawn to wards Him, for their hearts had burned within them while He talked with them by the way, and while He had opened to them the Scriptures. When, therefore, arriving at their destination, He made as though He would have gone further, they constrained Him to abide with them; for, they said, "it is towards evening, and the day is far spent." They had, in fact, heard His voice, and opened the door, and He joyfully entered and supped with them. And while He in His tender grace was seated at table with them, their eyes were opened, and they knew Him. It was the first time they had ever truly seen and known Him (compare 1 John 1:1-3), for it is only in such intimate communings that the Lord really discloses Himself to His people. How much then they would have lost, had they not constrained Him to enter! It is different with the two disciples of John. It is, in fact, the other side of the promise; for they "supped" with Christ. They had heard the heart-utterance of their master when, filled with the beauty of the One on whom he gazed, he said, "Behold the Lamb of God." This unconscious testimony (for he was rather expressing the admiration of his own heart than bearing witness) went home to their souls in such power, that they left their master, and followed Jesus. The attractions of "the Lamb of God" overmastered them, and drew them away from their beloved master in the intense desire, thus begotten, to know more of the One who had been pointed out to them. The feelings of John had been transferred to their hearts (and this is alway the characteristic of a testimony in the power of the Spirit), and now they only desired to "behold the beauty of the Lord, and to dwell in His temple." Jesus turned and saw them following, and saith unto them, "What seek ye?" He knew their hearts. He had watched the effect of the words of His servant; and now, by this question, He was but seeking to elicit their desire, that He might satisfy them beyond all their expectations. They thus replied, "Master, where dwellest thou?" for already they had been taught that Christ could only be fully known in His own home. Like the Queen of Sheba, they were not satisfied with the report that had reached their ears, but they would see His beauty, and hear His wisdom for themselves, in the only place where He could fully display what He was, where He dwelt. They could not have given greater delight to the heart of Christ than by this question; and hence He instantly responded, "Come and see." And "they came and saw where He dwelt, and abode with Him that day: for it was about the tenth hour." They went, and entered at his invitation, and they "supped" with Him; for they feasted on Him, and on His things. That they were abundantly satisfied we know, for they went forth from that secret place of communion, entranced with the beauty they had witnessed, to testify of the One they had seen and heard. And sure we are that they would have also said with the Queen of Sheba, "It was a true report which I heard . . . of thine acts and thy wisdom. Howbeit I believed not their words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the one half of the greatness of thy wisdom was not told me: for thou exceedest the fame that I heard." If then we lose much when we do not constrain the Lord to enter and abide with us, we lose much more if we do not press on to the place where He dwells, where alone we can fully know Him, and where alone we can behold His glory. Nothing less than this will satisfy His heart; and if we desire to be in communion with Him, nothing less will satisfy ours.
1 Chronicles 21:13; Hebrews 10:31.
The difference between these two scriptures is immense. David had fallen into sin in yielding to the temptation of Satan to number Israel; and, governed by will and pride, he had forgotten the ordinance that every man was to give a ransom for his soul when they were numbered, "that there be no plague among them, when thou numberest them." (Exodus 30:12.) God, therefore, was displeased, but He loved His servant David, and He sent Gad, after the king had confessed his iniquity, to offer him one of three methods of chastisement - three years' famine, three months to be destroyed before his foes, or three days the sword of the Lord, even the pestilence, in the land. God could accept the confession of His servant's sin, and restore his soul, but governmentally He must deal with this flagrant transgression. It was to the offer, Gad was commissioned to make, that David replied, "I am in a great strait: let me fall now into the hand of the Lord; for very great are His mercies: but let me not fall into the hands of man." It is evident from these words that, if the Lord knew David, David also knew the Lord, apprehended the nature of the stroke about to fall upon him, and could count on "His mercies" in using the rod. In other words he accepted the chastisement, and preferred to receive it directly from the Lord's hand; and he thus could say, "Let me fall now into the hand of the Lord." But when we come to the epistle to the Hebrews, it is not a saint falling into temptation, but apostates, that were before the mind of the writer, those who had once been with the people of God, professors of Christianity, who had "sinned wilfully" after having received the knowledge of the truth for whom there remained no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation which should devour the adversaries. (vv. 26, 27.) It is such the writer warns that vengeance belongs to the Lord, that He will judge His people - all who profess to be such - and that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God; for to fall into the hands of God in this way would involve irremediable destruction. It is one thing, therefore, to fall into the hands of the Lord, like David, for chastening, for governmental dealing, and another thing to fall into the hands of the living God for unmitigated judgment as His adversaries - and this is the difference between these two scriptures. E. D.
Verse 7 puts Joshua, as the representative of the people, under responsibility for the time being. If faithful, he should have a place in the presence of Jehovah of hosts. Verse 8 treats him as a type of Christ, having the nation of priests associated with himself in the blessing that shall be accomplished in the last days. The foundation-stone that was laid before the eyes of Joshua was but a feeble image of that true stone, the immovable foundation of all the blessing of Israel, of all the government of God in the earth. Jehovah Himself stamps it with its true character. It should represent the thoughts of Jehovah Himself in His government. It should have, or rather it should be, the signet of God; and the iniquity of the earth should be definitely taken away by the absolute, efficacious, and positive act of God. In this stone shall be seen also the perfect intelligence of God. The seven eyes shall be there. I would add a few words on this expression. In 2 Chr. 16 we find the eyes of Jehovah represented as running to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in behalf of those whose heart is perfect towards Him. This is the faithfulness of God in taking cognizance of all things in His ways of government. In Zechariah the eyes are found upon the stone that is laid in Zion. It is there that the seat of that government is placed, which sees everything and everywhere. In verse 10 of the next chapter these eyes, which behold all things, which run through the whole earth, are said to rejoice when they see the plummet in the hands of Zerubbabel; that is to say, the house of Jehovah's habitation entirely finished. In this case, they are not presented as established in the seat of government upon earth, but in their character of universal and active oversight; and in this providential activity never resting until Jehovah's counsels of grace towards Jerusalem are accomplished, and then they shall rejoice. The active intelligence of Providence finds its full delight there in the accomplishment of the unchangeable purpose of the will of God. Finally, these eyes are again seen, in Rev. 5, in the Lamb exalted to the right hand of God, who is about to take possession of His inheritance of the earth. Here it is the seven spirits of God sent forth into all the earth; for the government is in the hands of the Lamb, although He has not yet exercised it in the earth, of which He is about to be put in possession. J. N. D.
The primary application of these words is, of course, to the Hebrew believers to whom the epistle was sent. But the word of God is also addressed to all; and constantly needing, as we all do, the teaching of this chapter, as, indeed, of the whole epistle, this admonition is suited to us all. We never, indeed, read such scriptures with profit unless we read them in their application to ourselves. To read them for others is to lose all edification and blessing. This understood, the tenderness of the writer of these words may well be noted. He fully identifies himself with his readers, as is seen in his saying, "Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name." (vv. 13-15) Then after certain other instructions, counting upon their fellowship and prayers, and what may be termed the doxology (vv. 20, 21), avoiding the assumption of any place of authority, he adds, by way of entreaty, "I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation." Surely the grace of the Spirit, in seeking the welfare of the saints, is inimitable.