THE ARK OF HIS COVENANT
The Ark of the Covenant was lost when the Babylonians invaded Jerusalem. The Ark will not be seen again until the Lord Jesus returns. The appearing of the Ark at the coming of Christ tells us it will be the warlike remnant, the holy priesthood, who will rise to meet the Lord in the air. The Ark portrays also the mature character of those who are eligible to participate in the return of Christ.
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THE ARK OF HIS COVENANT
And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament [covenant]: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail. (Revelation 11:19)
King Jehoiachin of Judah surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar II about 600 B.C. At that time the Ark of the Covenant disappeared from view, as far as we know, and will not be seen again until the events described in Revelation, Chapter Eleven take place.
Revelation, Chapter Eleven describes the ministry of the two witnesses, which we believe to be the last-day testimony of Christ—Head and Body. The witness will be overcome by Antichrist, with the Lord’s permission, and then will be raised from the dead. Immediately the seventh trumpet will be blown and the end of the Christian Era will be here.
And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 11:15)
What is the significance of the appearing of the Ark at the time that the kingdoms of the world are put under the authority of Christ? The purpose of this booklet is to explain the reason for the revealing of the Ark in the Temple of God at the coming of Christ.
Whether the temple referred to in Revelation, Chapter Eleven is the great Temple of God in Heaven that Isaiah saw, or the new temple, which is the Christian Church, we do not know. But since Christ and His Body are now the eternal dwelling place of God we would suggest that it is the new living temple, the Church, that is being emphasized.
The Resurrection: Divided Into Two Parts
The next coming of the Lord, the coming set forth in Revelation, Chapter Eleven, signals the beginning of the thousand-year Kingdom Age and the raising of the victorious saints to meet the Lord in the air.
Let us think for a moment about the resurrection of the dead.
The Day of God, including the fleeing of the present earth and sky from the face of Christ, followed by the resurrection of the dead, is mentioned by the Apostle Peter:
Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? (II Peter 3:12)
It appears that Peter did not know there would be a “first resurrection,” a resurrection of the royal priesthood that would occur prior to the fleeing of the earth and sky from the face of Christ. Peter passes over this event and goes directly to the last resurrection; for it is at the last resurrection that the earth and sky flee from the face of Christ.
The Book of Revelation reveals that the resurrection of the dead will be divided into two parts by the thousand-year Kingdom Age. The first resurrection, the resurrection from among the dead, will take place at the beginning of the thousand years. The second resurrection, the general resurrection of the dead, will take place at the end of the thousand years. Both resurrections are announced in the twentieth chapter of the Book of Revelation.
But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:5,6)
“This is the first resurrection.”
And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. (Revelation 20:11,12)
“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God.” This verse describes the second or last resurrection.
- The first resurrection from the dead, the resurrection out from the dead, will take place when the Lord returns.
- The second resurrection, the general resurrection of the dead, will take place at the conclusion of the thousand-year Kingdom Age.
These two facts are commonly believed. What is not as commonly understood is that the first resurrection will include only the overcomers, the victorious saints.
The second resurrection is the general resurrection of mankind. All people will appear here except those who attained to the first resurrection.
Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (John 5:28,29)
The verse above is speaking of the second resurrection, the resurrection that will take place after the thousand years.
The first resurrection, on the other hand, must be attained.
If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead [Greek: resurrection out from the dead]. (Philippians 3:11)
As we have stated, the second resurrection will include all persons except those who attain to the first resurrection.
The revelation of the Ark of the Covenant in the Temple of God speaks of those who attain to the first resurrection. They are God’s blessed and holy priesthood. They are brought back to life so they may rule with the Lord Jesus over the saved nations of the earth.
… and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years… This is the first resurrection… they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4-6)
Participation in the first resurrection was the goal of the Apostle Paul and is to be the goal of the saint who is living in victory. The remainder of this booklet discusses the requirements for participating in the first resurrection, the resurrection out from among the dead.
The Warlike Remnant
There are several types and statements in the Scriptures, both Old Testament and New Testament, that portray the temporary division of the Christian Church, the Body of Christ, into a warlike remnant, and then the remainder of the Church. The purpose of the division is that the warlike remnant may defeat the enemy and establish the Kingdom, a David-type victory over Goliath, so that the remainder of God’s Israel may enjoy the righteousness, peace, and joy of the Kingdom.
It is our point of view that only the warlike remnant will be raised when the Lord appears, at the beginning of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, and that these saints will serve as a ruling priesthood with the Lord Jesus over the saved nations of the earth.
The rest of the dead, including the remainder of the elect as well as all the peoples of the earth, will be raised at the end of the thousand-year period, according to our understanding. Those whose names are found in the Book of Life will be given back their bodies and will enter the glory of the new heaven and earth reign of Christ.
They are saved to the new world of righteousness.
Those whose names are not found written in the Book of Life will be thrown into the Lake of Fire. Each individual will stand before God in his body and be judged according to his or her works.
Some of the types and statements that suggest to us the temporary division of the Church are as follows:
Gideon’s 300. The story of Gideon and how his remnant of warriors defeated the enemy may be the strongest of the Old-Testament pictures of the coming of the Lord.
The mention of the barley bread, in the story of Gideon, is significant in that barley was the grain reaped during the feast of firstfruits. The barley bread suggests that Gideon’s 300 were a firstfruits of Israel.
And when Gideon was come, behold, there was a man that told a dream unto his fellow, and said, Behold, I dreamed a dream, and, lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian, and came unto a tent, and smote it that it fell, and overturned it, that the tent lay along. (Judges 7:13)
Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: (Leviticus 23:10)
The “sheaf of the firstfruits” was from the barley harvest.
The separation of the Ark of the Covenant from the remainder of the Tabernacle of the Congregation throughout the reign of King David; the establishing of the Tabernacle of David in Zion. We believe that the rule of King David is a portrayal of the thousand-year Kingdom Age while the rule of Solomon represents the new heaven and earth reign of Christ.
The locating of the Ark in Zion, a suburb of Jerusalem, after its return from the house of Obed-Edom, is of enormous prophetic significance. The remainder of the Tabernacle of the Congregation was established at the high place in Gibeon, a city outside of Jerusalem. David supplied priests for both locations. The Ark was kept separate from the Tabernacle until both the Ark and the Tabernacle were placed in Solomon’s Temple.
The temporary separation of the Ark from the Tabernacle is a strong portrayal of the temporary division between the warlike remnant of saints and the remainder of God’s elect. They will not be made one until the new heaven and earth reign of the Lord Jesus.
David’s seven and one-half year rule over Judah followed by his thirty-three year rule over all Israel and Judah. This type speaks of an initial rule of Christ over a part of His Church.
The Bride at the beginning of the thousand-year period and then the Bride at the end of the thousand-year period.
First, the Bride at the beginning of the Kingdom Age.
Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. (Revelation 19:7)
Then we behold the Bride at the end of the thousand years.
And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (Revelation 21:2)
And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. (Revelation 21:9)
We see that at the beginning of the thousand-year Kingdom Age the Bride makes herself ready. She is clothed in the white linen of her righteous behavior (Revelation 19:8), a righteous behavior coming from Christ who has been created in her and is dwelling in her. A few verses later she appears as an army that will descend with the Lord Jesus and drive the wicked from the earth.
However, at the end of the thousand years the Bride is prepared or made ready. She now is the holy city, the new Jerusalem. It is our point of view that one of the main purposes of the thousand-year period is to perfect all Israel so that the holy city can descend from Heaven as the eternal Tabernacle of God among the nations of saved peoples of the earth.
And then the very concept of a firstfruits.
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. (Revelation 14:4)
The mention of Mount Zion (Revelation 14:1) suggests the Tabernacle of David in that David placed the Ark of the Covenant in his city of Zion, a small area within the city of Jerusalem.
The “great people and a strong” of the second chapter of Joel, and similar passages of the Old Testament speaking of the army of the Lord. This expression does not appear to refer to all Israel.
A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations. (Joel 2:2)
The “ten thousands of his saints” suggests an army drawn from the total ranks of Israel.
And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, (Jude 1:14)
The concept of David’s “mighty men”—warriors distinguished by prowess in battle.
Was he not most honourable of three? therefore he was their captain: howbeit he attained not unto the first three. (II Samuel 23:19)
It is interesting that of all the ways an Israelite could be distinguished, as a teacher, a writer, a musician, a poet, a farmer, a builder, a businessman, the evidence of honor during the reign of King David was prowess in war. So it is that from the present hour forward there will be a need for saints who are strong in spiritual warfare. There is an enemy to be crushed, a righteous King to be installed, before true and lasting peace and joy can come to the earth.
The bride “terrible as an army with banners”—the “only one of her mother.”
My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her. The daughters saw her, and blessed her; yea, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her. (Song of Solomon 6:9)
The three taken from the twelve in order to behold the Glory of the Lord on the Mount of Transfiguration.
The very wording of Revelation 20:4-6, suggesting a part of the Church that is distinguished by being blessed and holy and by being free from the authority of the second death.
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them:… Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power [authority], …
It is the overcomer, the victorious saint, who is free from the authority of the second death, which is the Lake of Fire.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death. (Revelation 2:11)
Our position (based on the preceding passages) that only a holy remnant of victorious saints will rise to meet the Lord when He appears, is not commonly held. We have come to this belief after several years of consideration. If we are correct, the members of the Body, the Church of Christ, must take a more serious and determined view of the need to live in spiritual victory if they expect to be received of the Lord Jesus at His appearing.
It is plain that the current emphasis on perpetual forgiveness apart from growth in righteous behavior, and the hope of the pre-tribulation catching up of all believers no matter how undisciplined their lives, is not preparing the saints to be part of the glorious appearing of the Lord.
The Ten Commandments
Within the Ark of the Covenant were three items:
- The Ten Commandments.
- The memorial jar of manna.
- Aaron’s rod that budded.
Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; (Hebrews 9:4)
The three items located in the Ark of the Covenant portray the character of the victorious saint, the character required for participation in the first resurrection from the dead.
The eternal law of God. The two tables of stone on which were inscribed the Ten Commandments, the limited expression of the eternal law of God, were the first articles to be placed in the Ark.
And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony [the Ten Commandments] that I shall give thee. (Exodus 25:21)
The Ten Commandments were the only remaining article when the Ark was placed in Solomon’s Temple.
There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the Lord made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt. (I Kings 8:9)
We see from the above two passages that the tables of stone containing the Ten Commandments were the most important of the items placed in the Ark. In fact, the Ark of the Covenant derived its name from the Covenant, the Ten Commandments, placed within it.
The Ten Commandments reflect the eternal moral law of God. They are God’s judgment on the spirits of the heavens that rebelled against Him. The letter of the Ten Commandments was a temporary covenant with the people of Israel—temporary until Christ appeared. The eternal law of God, of which the Ten Commandments are an abridged, covenantal expression, is not temporary. The eternal moral law of God shall never be changed in any manner.
Both the old covenant and the new covenant are based on the moral law of God. Under the old covenant the moral law of God was expressed in the Ten Commandments, commandments that were to be obeyed by every member of the twelve tribes of Israel.
Under the new covenant the moral law of God, now infinitely expanded until its full meaning is brought forth, is written in the heart and mind of the worshiper. Christ Himself is the eternal moral law of God. As Christ is formed in us the eternal moral law of God is formed in us. The holy city, the Bride of the Lamb, will be the eternal expression in the earth of the moral law of God.
Outside and inside. We have stated that the new covenant, as well as the old, is based on the eternal moral law of God. Let us think about how the new covenant operates in terms of the moral law of God.
When we first become a Christian we are forgiven through the blood atonement made by the Lord Jesus on the cross of Calvary. We repent of our worldly ways and are baptized in water, showing our willingness to die to the world and to enter the Kingdom of God. We are born again of the Spirit of God, meaning that the Divine Seed, Christ, is planted within us.
We now are forgiven and have the Life of God in us. But our old adamic personality still governs most of our thoughts, our words, and our actions.
In the New Testament we have numerous commandments. These commandments are to be obeyed by us, remembering that we still are an adamic personality.
- “Love your enemies.”
- “Be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect.”
- “Present your body a living sacrifice.”
- “Let him that stole steal no more.”
- “Do not forsake the gathering of yourselves together.”
On and on they go. We are to obey all these commandments.
But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. (Romans 6:17)
“Ye have obeyed from the heart.”
When we find ourselves unable to obey what the Scriptures say, then we are to go to God in prayer and obtain help in our hour of need.
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
God keeps on forgiving us through the blood of atonement provided we pray, study His Word, gather with the saints, and cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He leads us into battle against the sins of the flesh.
We are to obey the Scriptures. We can obey the Scriptures as the Holy Spirit guides and empowers us. Sometimes it is wise to confess our sins to another Christian, or the elders of the church, and have them pray for us. We are in a battle against sin and we are to put to death the appetites and passions of our flesh.
For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (Romans 8:13)
Obedience to the commandments of the New Testament has many points in common with obedience to the commandments of the Law of Moses. But while the old covenant consisted of obedience to the writings of Moses and the Prophets, obedience to the commandments found in the New Testament is not the new covenant. The new covenant is the creating of Christ in us so that we keep the law of God by nature.
We enter the new covenant as we obey the commandments of the Apostles. We must obey the commandments of the Apostles until the new moral nature, Christ in us, takes control of our behavior. If we do not keep the commandments of the Apostles, Christ will not be formed in us. In this case we will have made the grace of God of no effect as far as our entering the Kingdom of God is concerned.
First the law is on the outside, just as the Book of Moses was placed alongside the Ark of the Covenant.
Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee. (Deuteronomy 31:26)
Then the law is written on the inside.
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: (Hebrews 8:10)
If we are faithful in obeying the commandments of the Lord and His Apostles, the day will come when we begin to keep the eternal moral law of God by nature because it has been written in our mind and heart by the Spirit of God. This is the new covenant.
Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. (I John 3:9)
The creating of Christ in us, which is the new covenant, is a process that takes place over a period of time.
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. (II Corinthians 3:18)
As we have stated, the Law was the first article to be placed in the Ark, and the Law was the only article remaining when the Ark was placed in Solomon’s Temple.
God will have no fellowship with that which is unclean or unrighteous. No believer will be raised in the first resurrection unless the eternal moral law of God has been engraved in His personality.
Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: (Hebrews 12:14)
If we hope to be ready to meet Christ when He appears we must cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He forms Christ in us. Christ must be written “within” before He can be written “on the backside,” referring to our outward appearance including the redemption of our mortal body.
And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. (Revelation 5:1)
“A book written within and on the backside.” This is the whole personality of man.
The Memorial Jar of Manna
The first characteristic of the believer who is eligible to participate in the first resurrection is a personality that practices righteous, holy behavior. The second characteristic of the believer who would appear with Christ in the Day of the Lord is represented by the memorial jar of manna, which was placed in the Ark along with the Ten Commandments and Aaron’s rod that budded.
The Ten Commandments speak of the righteousness and holiness of Christ created in the saint. The jar of manna portrays the dependence on God that we learn as we are brought low and are unable to proceed without God’s help.
Whoever would meet the Lord at His appearing must be “leaning on his Beloved.”
And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live. (Deuteronomy 8:3)
“That he might make thee know.”
God has His way of bringing us down to helplessness so that His wisdom and strength may be revealed. God has his way of causing us to look to Him each moment of each day.
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (II Corinthians 12:9)
The longer we walk with Christ the more helpless we become apart from Him. We long to know the power of His resurrection, the fellowship of His sufferings, to be conformed to His death on the cross. Finally we have the sentence of death in ourselves that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead.
Perilous times will soon come to the earth. An age of moral horrors is on the horizon as well as an age of reconciliation to God. No human being will be able to stand or work spiritually as the spiritual forces of darkness are hurled from the heavens to the earth.
Christ will face Antichrist. The Holy Spirit will face the False Prophet. God the Father will face Satan. The powers of the heavens will be shaken.
Man apart from God is only dust and cannot endure the titanic personalities who will confront one another. Only the individual who is part of Christ’s eternal resurrection Life will be able to save himself and others as the Day of the Lord approaches.
Man uses money to keep himself independent of God’s assistance. Money will protect no one in the chaos soon to afflict the population of the world. He who would be ready to greet the Lord Jesus must learn now to depend on the Lord for every aspect of personality and behavior.
Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: (Philippians 3:8,9)
Aaron’s Rod That Budded
So far we have discussed two of the three items of the Ark of the Covenant—the Ten Commandments and the memorial jar of manna. The victorious saint is coming to maturity in righteousness and holiness, and also is learning to depend on the Lord for wisdom and strength in every part of each day. Truly we are to take no thought for tomorrow. Truly each day has enough trouble present in it, and the Lord will help us if we look to Him constantly.
The third article in the Ark was Aaron’s rod. Aaron’s rod speaks of Divine election and of the resurrection life by which each member of the blessed and holy priesthood rules with God.
Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. (Hebrews 7:16)
“The power of an endless life.”
Many of the chief men of Israel had challenged the right of Moses and Aaron to lead the people of Israel through the wilderness.
Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men: And they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown (Numbers 16:1,2)
Probably most of us know the story, how the Lord came down and destroyed the rebels.
And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods. (Numbers 16:32)
Then the Lord gave the people of Israel a plan whereby they could determine who was chosen to lead them, on whom the Divine election rested. Moses was to take a rod from the leader of each of the tribes. Aaron’s name was written on the rod representing the tribe of Levi. The rods were to be placed in the Most Holy Place in front of the Ark of the Covenant. The owner of the rod that sprouted would thus be shown to be the High Priest of Israel.
And it shall come to pass, that the man’s rod, whom I shall choose, shall blossom: and I will make to cease from me the murmurings of the children of Israel, whereby they murmur against you. (Numbers 17:5)
Those who participate in the first resurrection are the blessed and holy priesthood of God. God’s true priesthood is as a dead rod except when resurrection life is present. Each member of the Body of Christ must be crucified with Christ and living by Christ. Each member of the Body must come to know the power of Christ’s resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; (Philippians 3:10)
There are two errors that can be made that will cause us to fail as one of God’s ruling priests. The first error is that of neglect. The second error is that of ambition. Both errors will result in our not being prepared when the Lord returns, and both carry heavy penalties.
Erring on the side of neglect.
How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; (Hebrews 2:3)
The concept of the clergy and laity, that some members of the Body of Christ serve in a priestly role over other members who are the “laity,” is at the root of much of the spiritual immaturity that we see today. If a believer views himself as a member of the “laity” he may then choose to occupy himself with some worldly pursuit or vocation and leave the “ministry” to those who are “ministers.”
The truth is, the Holy Spirit has given a ministry to every member of the Body of Christ.
But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ [Messiah]. (I Corinthians 12:11,12)
There is no Christian who is a priest over other Christians. Every Christian is called to be a priest of God, not over other Christians but over the saved nations of the world. The very concept of Israel is that of a people who have been called out from among the rest of mankind to serve God as a royal priesthood on behalf of the people of the nations.
Every Christian without exception is obliged to present his or her body as a living sacrifice to God in order to prove the will of God for his life, particularly in the area of ministry.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:1,2)
Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; (Romans 12:6)
When we do not devote our life to discovering, developing, and using our ministry we are “burying our talent.” The penalty for burying our talent is to be cast into outer darkness.
For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 25:29,30)
Ordinarily God does not dramatically call a believer to a spectacular ministry, as God did in the case of Saul of Tarsus. For most of us most of the time we find an area of service as we faithfully wait on the Lord.
We are commanded by the Scripture to earnestly desire gifts of the Spirit so we may build up the Body of Christ.
But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way. (I Corinthians 12:31)
The believer who does not spend his life serving the Lord, using all the abilities God has given him to build up the members of the Body of Christ, is not a disciple of Jesus and therefore by definition is not a Christian. He has no hope of being raised from the dead and ascending to meet the Commander in Chief in the air. He does have the terrifying prospect of being placed in outer darkness when the Lord returns.
Erring on the side of ambition. The error of Korah and the other leaders of Israel was not neglect of God’s calling but personal ambition. They desired to supplant Moses and Aaron. They were reflecting the fallen angelic lords who left their first positions of authority and responsibility. They were not content to abide in their assigned places.
Korah, Dathan, and Abiram were not aware, apparently, that every role in God’s Kingdom is established by Divine election. Not to be content in our own calling and role is to repeat the sin of Satan.
So great was God’s displeasure over this satanic display of lust for preeminence that the earth opened and the rebels went down alive into the pit.
And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods. They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation. (Numbers 16:32,33)
Spiritual ambition, the desire to be preeminent among the servants of the Lord, is close to the spirit of Satan.
For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: (Isaiah 14:13)
“I will exalt my throne above the stars of God.”
Even the Lord’s disciples argued among themselves, each seeking to be greater than the others.
But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. (Mark 9:34)
The history of the Judaic-Christian revelation has included numerous Korahs and Absaloms—those who would supplant the leaders God has chosen.
The Lord Jesus was murdered because of the envy of spiritually ambitious leaders.
For he knew that for envy they had delivered him. (Matthew 27:18)
Throughout the Christian Era ambitious spiritual people have tortured and murdered other believers who appeared, for one reason or another, to be preventing their rise to ever higher levels of power and prestige.
If a person desires power he can never be satisfied. The boss wants to be over other bosses. The governor of a city longs to be president of his country. The president of a country hopes to be the president of the world. The president of the world will compel people to worship him as God. Why is this? It is because Satan is behind all desire for power over other people.
Is there a greater evil than personal ambition—the spirit that murdered the Lord Jesus?
The choices God makes are beyond our comprehension. God sets up one individual and puts down another. He is the Potter and we are the clay.
For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another. (Psalms 75:6,7)
God chose Moses and Aaron. Korah and the other rebellious leaders became bitter, envious, blind, and stupid because of their desire to supplant Moses and Aaron. The same was true of Absalom when he sought to supplant his father, King David.
Korah and the others were blind and stupid. Why couldn’t they understand that Moses was the friend of God and that God would never accept their rebellion? Why couldn’t Absalom understand that God would never be with him as God was with David? How could Absalom govern Israel without God?
The authority to rule with the power of eternal life rests only with those whom God has chosen. There are many imitators, many supplanters in the realm of Christian leadership. How different Church history would be if there had been no Korahs or Absaloms! They are still active today as any experienced pastor will tell you.
The true Christian, the disciple of the Lord Jesus, thinks, speaks, and acts in an increasingly righteous and holy manner.
The true Christian, the disciple of the Lord Jesus, does not neglect his salvation. He always is busy serving the Lord with a pure heart.
The true Christian does not vaunt himself or seek to supplant another. He thinks soberly according to the measure of faith God has given him. He is at rest in God’s Presence being neither careless nor ambitious regarding his salvation.
If we continue behaving in an unrighteous, spiritually unclean manner we cannot have fellowship with the Lord. We will come under the judgment of God.
If we neglect our salvation, our Kingdom talents, we will not rise to meet the Lord at His coming and we stand in danger of outer darkness.
If we are spiritually ambitious we will experience the wrath of God as did Korah and the other leaders. The Lord will have no ambitious individual in His army who is seeking to set himself over his fellow members of the Body of Christ.
The boards that formed the sides of the Tabernacle of the Congregation were all of the same height, symbolizing the fact that only Christ is the Master among the holy priests of God.
And thou shalt make boards for the tabernacle of shittim wood standing up. Ten cubits shall be the length of a board, and a cubit and a half shall be the breadth of one board. (Exodus 26:15,16)
But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. (Matthew 23:8)
We are not to seek to be more important than others in the Kingdom of God. Whomever God chooses to exalt shall be exalted in the Kingdom.
And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father. (Matthew 20:23)
If God promotes someone in the Kingdom, and envy arises in our heart, then we are to go to the Lord immediately and beseech Him to remove the satanic impulse from us. We are to be content with our own ministry and place in the Kingdom, neither being neglectful nor ambitious. We are to be content in the state in which we find ourselves in God.
Aaron’s rod alone brought forth buds. God had spoken. He had chosen Aaron. Those who would supplant God’s choice went down alive into Sheol.
Let us cease from every trace of envy, every attempt to supplant another, every attempt to be first among our brothers and sisters. Then the Lord will be pleased to bring us into the inheritance designed for us from the beginning of the world.
The goal of the victorious Christian life is the first resurrection from the dead, the resurrection that will precede our being caught up to meet the Lord in the air. In the day of resurrection we shall be rewarded precisely according to what we have practiced while living on the earth.
Perhaps the greatest of all the hopes of the Christian is that of being raised from the dead and rising to meet the Lord in the air at His coming, to walk with Him in white at His appearing. This is our traditional hope. We must remember, however, that participation in the first resurrection is promised to the victorious Christian, to no one else. To our knowledge there is no passage of Scripture stating that everyone who is saved will rule with Christ over the nations.
There may have been numerous Christians in the church in Sardis because it had the reputation of being alive. Only a few of the believers were ready to govern with Christ.
Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. (Revelation 3:4)
It is those who suffer patiently with Him who shall reign with Him.
If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: (II Timothy 2:12)
The Word of God is our only reliable source of truth concerning our eternal destiny.
We Christians have many traditions. We absolutely must, in the present hour, return to a careful study of the written Word and determine whether or not our hope is solidly founded in the Scriptures or is a fable.
The hope of a pre-tribulation “rapture” that will carry all believers into Paradise so they will not suffer under Antichrist or during the great tribulation is definitely not found in the Scriptures. It is a fable.
The hope that Gentile Christians will rule in Heaven while Jewish believers install God’s Kingdom on the earth is definitely not found in the Scriptures. It is a fable.
The hope that no believer in Christ will experience evil at the Judgment Seat of Christ is definitely not according to the Scriptures. It is a fable.
The hope that God does not see our sinful behavior because we are covered with the righteousness of Christ is a true hope only as long as we are pressing forward in the light of God’s will. The moment we cease offering our body a living sacrifice and begin to look back toward the pleasures of the world, in that moment the Divine judgment rebukes and chastens us and leads us to repentance so we will not be condemned with the world. If we then persist in sin we are close to the fire of God’s anger. The teaching that the question of righteous and holy behavior does not arise after we receive Christ, and that there is no penalty if a Christian does not serve God, is a fable.
But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live. (Ezekiel 18:21,22)
“All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him.”
But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to All the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die. (Ezekiel 18:24)
“All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned.”
The wonderful Divine grace given through the Lord Jesus Christ does not change the above two passages in any manner. The soul that sins shall die. The soul that practices Divine righteousness shall live. New-covenant grace does not change the eternal moral law of God. Rather it establishes the moral law for eternity. Any teaching contrary to this is a fable.
Grace is the Divine virtue, wisdom, and strength that enable us to practice righteousness and live. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the Divine grace and the only Divine grace. Through His blood we are forgiven. Through His Life we live.
The hope that we can live a merry, pleasure-filled existence on the earth and then be ushered into Paradise when we die because we are “saved by grace” is definitely not found in the Old Testament or the New Testament. It is a fable.
The hope that Divine grace under the new covenant signals a new era in which God no longer views the behavior of man is definitely not found in the Scriptures. The purpose of Divine grace is that we may be able to practice righteousness, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. The individual who does this will be blessed by the Lord. The person who practices wickedness, who is unmerciful, who walks in the pride of his own strength and resources, will be punished by the Lord whether or not he is a Christian. To believe otherwise is to be deluded.
The hope that we will not reap what we sow is definitely not according to the Scriptures. The law of sowing and reaping is a basic law of the Kingdom of God. Grace cannot make this law null and void. Divine grace does not change what we reap but what we sow. The teaching of today concerning grace is a fable.
None of us desires to face an angry God. Let us therefore pray always that we may escape being harmed spiritually during the age of moral temptations and horrors that is approaching and may stand in triumph before the Son of Man at His appearing and His Kingdom, being fully reconciled to God.
We have seen, then, the significance of the appearing of the Ark of God’s Covenant at the time of the return of the Lord Jesus to the earth to set up His Kingdom.
The resurrection from the dead will be divided into two parts by the thousand-year Kingdom Age.
It is the warlike remnant who will be raised at the beginning of the thousand-year period.
The Ten Commandments are a limited expression of the eternal moral law of God. The moral law has never changed and never shall change—not one iota!
At first we keep the commandments of the Apostles as the Holy Spirit enables us. After a while, Christ, who has been created in us, begins to guide our behavior from within our personality.
The memorial jar of manna teaches us continual dependence on the Lord for every aspect of our personality and behavior.
Aaron’s rod that budded portrays the Divine election. Every one of us is to be content in the role and place in the Kingdom that is ours by Divine election. We can err by neglecting our assigned place and also by seeking a role not assigned to us.
It is those whose character reveals the Ark of the Covenant that will be raised in the first resurrection and will rise to meet the Lord Jesus when He appears in the clouds of glory.
(“The Ark of His Covenant”, 3569-1)