This is the Lord’s day — the day that has been set apart in grace by the Lord called the “Lord’s day.” It isn’t as some suppose, the Sabbath day, the Jewish Sabbath day. It is the Lord’s day, the day in which we commemorate His resurrection and remember His dying love upon the cross, and it is of peculiar advantage to God’s people in the midst of a world that hurries along without a thought of God. There is no fear of God before their eyes — the average man doesn’t think. Streams of motor cars go along the highways endeavoring to find some source of satisfaction and peace, even in contact with nature. People have gotten tired of the old dead way of the clergy and that kind of worship, and so they turn their faces, in this country, as in our country, to the open roads there to better enjoy nature’s scenery, but after all it just only reveals the inward paganism of the heart — the desire to be in contact with things that do not interfere with the pleasure and sin of this life, and even though people have fallen away from the orthodox ways of worship that the world has accepted and do not identify themselves with those systems, they are no better. The only man that is better is the one who turns away to read the scriptures. We read of that kind of man in The Acts, who having been disappointed with what he saw in Jerusalem among the priests, and the idolatry there, the false worship that was offered to God; he went away from Jerusalem reading the scriptures, and to that man God sent a messenger, His servant.
The Lord’s people have the privilege of being in the spirit on His day. In the last book of the bible in one of the early chapters the servant of God describes his condition of heart and mind as placed in very difficult circumstances and in great hardship he was enabled to be in the spirit — in the spirit that enables God to give revelation to the heart — this takes a great deal of labor. Anyone that has endeavored to be in the spirit on the Lord’s day knows it is no easy task; that things will crop up in the home, on the farm, or even in the servants of God’s lives that will conspire together in a devilish way to prevent the child of God being in the spirit, so that in this battle that we are engaged in we must be prepared for conflict and climb over every difficulty between our souls and Christ, putting behind us everything that would cause annoyance and distraction, and cultivate the habit of “Forgetting those things that are behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before…” It is always difficult for the saints, and always difficult for the servants, and especially difficult for the people in whose homes the church meets, in order to preserve that home a consecrated place for the Lord; and sometimes a testing time for those on whose place the convention is held. Subtle things crop up, and almost cause a man to question the value of this gathering — “the spirit that worketh in the children of disobedience” tries to bring trouble and difficulty and irritation into the lives of the people of God, whose constant experience ought to be “the peace of God that passeth all understanding.” We can not have “the peace of God that passeth all understanding” without the presence of God, so we again bring out that great principle of the truth of God that “in His presence is salvation;” so that when difficulties present themselves you will be able to find satisfaction and rest and peace in the presence of God. David was perplexed about the wicked around him and the difficulties that surrounded his life, and he didn’t understand the why and wherefore of things until he went into the sanctuary of God and there he understood the reason. God has a very calming influence upon us — He alone can say “Peace be still.” He alone can cause those troubled waters to subside and give us those “unsearchable riches,” “the peace of God that passeth all understanding,” so I hope on the Lord’s day you will endeavor to be in the spirit — in the spirit of humility, or worship, of brotherly relationship with your fellows and to preserve that right attitude of mind toward God that He can bless.
Imagine the difficulties that John the apostle had — a slave working in the mines, probably with a chain about his legs. John, the beloved disciple, the one whose head lay upon the Saviour’s breast — the one who followed in the footsteps of the Master, the one who stood as the last one around the cross — who had such privileges — who was on the holy mount with Peter and James; yet he had to pass through at the very end of his life, great tests. God’s way is very extraordinary to us as we think about it in that way. It doesn’t lead a man to the pinnacle of power, wealth, or influence; it is hard to understand that the pilgrim journey might end in circumstances that could try the very fibers of our being. Away from his loved charge, the church, away from the fellowship of his fellow servants — away in the Isle of Patmos (Revelations 1:9) bound in chains for the gospel’s sake, and yet he was in the spirit — that is just to show us, in the mercy of God that “no circumstances should be allowed to chain the spirit.” “Fear not them that kill the body but are not able to kill the soul, but rather fear him which is able to destroy both body and soul in hell.” When we have formed the right link with Christ, and His living faith has come to us, the living faith that is the gift of God will enable us to triumph over all circumstances. The person that gives way and yields to the pressure put upon him only proves how little of that faith he possesses and how little progress he has made, and how little he understands of the testimony of our Lord Jesus Christ.
John had a great vision, he heard a voice and became conscious of a Presence. In the light of that Presence and in the power of that Presence he is given visions — some of them very terrible visions, of the future. We read of very terrible judgments of God on the earth — He has had at various times to chastise the children of men. It was the God of love that sent his judgments at the flood for the wickedness of men was great and whole nations wickedly departed from God and took their own way. God was love when the fire fell upon the cities of the plain. God was love in all the chastisements that He has had to inflict upon the children of Israel and the chastisements of God are not yet finished. The terror of the Lord is a very terrible thing and the world has yet to suffer for the rejection of the Saviour. The earth must go through much suffering in order that God may accomplish His purpose and bring to a finish His will; but it isn’t all a gloomy picture, it isn’t such as would make us say in our hearts “What is the purpose of it all?” “Would it be better the world and mankind had never been?” If it had only one side to it we could rightly deem it so. Along side of that gloomy picture, along side of those judgments God’s word speaks of, is the revelation of God’s love, mercy and forbearance with mankind; there can be no question raised in earth, heaven or hell, about the righteous acts of the Lord. All the punishment and suffering has been rightfully and well deserved, for the explanation of all that suffering and tears is found on that day in which the cross of Calvary has raised and that crowd around the cross said of the Son of God, “Crucify him, crucify him – he saved others, himself he cannot save…” No language could be used more in derision, it was the bitter scoff of the hell in the human heart, and as life goes on I have no difficulty whatever in accepting a thousand fold the verdict of God upon the human heart, full of iniquity, of treachery, hatred, and hell; and yet the creatures subjected to all that iniquity God desires to bring from that condition and make them His children.
The picture that is shown to us at the end of the book of Revelation tells us of John being in the spirit again. It says, “He brought me in the spirit and showed me the holy Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” The invitation was given to him, “Come and I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife,” and then he said, “I saw; the holy Jerusalem” — I saw the consummation of God’s purpose, I saw the better, brighter day — that it wasn’t all failure and despair and sorrows and tears for the children of men; I saw that God’s glorious purpose had been accomplished and that God had brought out of the darkness, and the ruin, and the death, a people he could speak of as his holy Jerusalem — the work or His own hands; “Coming down from God as a bride adorned for her husband, and her light was as clear as crystal, and the wall round that city was great and high, and her light was a light most precious, shining throughout eternity.” That is the great crowning holy city, which is to come down from God and is as a bride adorned for her husband, but undoubtedly what we enjoy today is but a little glimpse of the glorious future. We must be a people that have a nature and spirit that will enable us to be happy in that city — in the final work of God, to be identified with all God’s truth, with gladness and with subjection in our heart and mind; we have a foretaste of that by the gospel, but we can’t help thinking of all that must have transpired through the ages in order that purpose might be accomplished — all the labors, all the tears, all the journeyings, all the heart searching, all the loss, all the suffering, that the bible records in connection with His people — a long list of difficulty, trouble, danger, and labor in connection with God’s work before it can be accomplished. I am glad today I have been privileged in having some little share in this. While we enjoy a great deal of God’s provision now and enjoy the blessings he is showering upon us in these times, yet I am glad of any tears that have been shed, of any heart breaks there have been, of any anguish of soul and mind, of any toil and labor, expenditure of strength in body, soul and spirit — it isn’t worth talking about. I am very glad today that I have any little part in the great privilege of carrying on the work of God in my day and generation, and your joy in eternity will be that little bit of expenditure of time, toil, of anything that you are, and have, for the extension of that glorious kingdom, for there are tremendous difficulties in the way — there’s a lion in the way every step you take, a barrier to prevent you reaching the ultimate goal. These difficulties must be faced and conquered in order that you might be able to have “the peace of God that passeth all understanding.” There is a sense in which He gives us rest. It is a complete and gracious act that we don’t merit, when he gives that rest; but there is a rest we have to find. “Take my yoke upon you… and ye shall find rest…” His work is the work of grace, that secures to us his great salvation and there is our work — that is the work of loyal, loving service in His kingdom that brings us rest unto our souls.
It is a long story from that first day of conflict between Cain and Abel until John finishes the revelation of God in the Isle of Patmos, but every conflict is numbered amongst God’s elect; so don’t shrink because of tears, because of disappointment, because of danger — let the very fact of danger or disappointment or tears, enable you to be a stronger, better man in the future. It’s the man who bears all things and endures all things in silence that comes out the strongest (not he who whimpers, who allows his fears to overcome him — he produces fear upon other hearts). I was reading the other day of the orders issued in connection with the last war, that the messengers sent up to the trenches were strictly ordered not to “hurry” coming back lest the infection of fear might get into the minds of others looking on. They knew the liability to panic and the influence that one man has on another, so Christians are admonished to fight like men and having done all to stand in the day of battle. “Curse ye Meroz (Judges 5:23) … because they came not to the help of the Lord,” who had the opportunity of joining the forces of the Lord but they shrank back and came not to the battle, and brought a curse to themselves.
Acts 2:1-5 was upon my mind when I thought about our gathering today — “When the day of Pentecost was fully come they all were with one accord in one place.” God’s people are a natural people — they are not unnatural, or fanatical — They have the sanest teacher who ever was upon earth. The teaching of Jesus never produced fanaticism, but we are not to forget it is supernatural and that we are to expect in our lives the power of God that makes us different, that enables us to minister the word of God in the power of that spirit in such a way that people would easily be inclined to think we were drunk. When Peter spoke on that day of Pentecost at 9 o’clock in the morning they said, “Those men are filled with new wine,” but Peter told them they were not drunk and he quoted that part from the ancient prophet that “God had sent forth His spirit upon them and given them utterance.” I believe in the Holy Ghost — I believe in that church of the living God that has a universal appeal to all sorts and conditions of men, in which rich and poor, small and great, can find shelter. I believe in the Holy Ghost and I am afraid to work for God except in the power of the Holy Ghost, and the thing I crave for most before a meeting of this kind is that it would be in the power of the Holy Ghost. I know “in Adam” I have no right to be here and I sit wondering what right have I here; and what right have I to address a people like this. The only right I have is that of a redeemed sinner that God uses now and then for His own glory. “We have this treasure in earthen vessels that the Excellency of the power might be of God and not of us.” Here were these men after a long discipleship, in one place and of one accord and probably thinking of the Psalm, that it was there the Lord commanded the blessing — “Where brethren dwell together in unity.” I do trust that unity of purpose and unity of spirit and mind and heart is our experience today as God looks down upon us, that in our attitude to the Lord Jesus and to each other we are such as God would have us be, for “There God will command the blessing, even life for evermore.” They were of one mind and accord when the day of Pentecost came. I can’t help feeling a sense of great indebtedness to the Jewish people, a great admiration and profound respect for the Jewish people — not the rascals that are the atheists of the world today, but the Jewish people as a whole and the “Fathers” through whom blessing has come to the world. God deliberately selected Abraham and others as the vehicle by which Christ should come, and there is in the true Christian a veneration for the line through which the Son of God came; they were the means whereby the world could learn of Christ, their ceremonial law and their moral law led to Christ. The moral law revealed to an honest man that his struggles against the power of evil and sin were more than he was able for, and in the conviction of his weakness, like the prodigal, he came to the Father, through the sacrifice of the Son. The dim shadows of the “child leader” to lead to Christ. In every year there were three special occasions in which Israel was commanded to appear before God — three special convocations, of especial importance to the Jews. We think that the expense of coming to a convention is heavy sometimes, and some people may think it an expensive thing to spend three or four days in this way and to spend money in traveling and in the service of God generally — they feel it might be to them a burden; but God asked of the Jews that no matter what part of the Holy Land they lived in (they had not the conveniences than that we have in these days). They had to come over the hills and valleys and come together in the place where the Lord chose. The Passover commemorated their leaving Egypt. God knows there is a proneness in us to forget the most important things — the things that matter — God says that early in the history of his people, so he asked them to remember their deliverance from Egypt by commemorating that in the Feast of the Passover and Unleavened Bread.
In Exodus 12 we read the instructions given by the Lord to Moses and Aaron in connection with the Passover. They were to take a lamb, set it apart, four days — on evening of the fourth day that lamb was to be killed and the blood sprinkled on the door posts of their houses and in the evening each family was to be gathered in the house provided for it, and were to partake of the lamb. They were to have their loins girded, shoes on their feet, and staff in their hand — indicating that they were ready for a journey. That ought to have explained to Israel God’s great future purpose. Its fulfillment you see in that scene in the upper room in that chapter in Luke’s Gospel in which it is described, and the Lamb of God is there. John is the servant of God who particularly speaks of Christ as the Lamb of God — he must have had singular knowledge of the law and sacrifices, because he puts the right interpretation from the beginning of his gospel on the work of Christ as the Redeemer of His people. In that upper room in Jerusalem the true Passover was being kept — the disciples had opportunity of beholding that Lamb of God just as the Israelites were told to look upon the lamb, the typical lamb, for those four days, so had the disciples the opportunity of beholding the Lamb of God in his lovely life. In Luke 23, we read of the death of the Lamb — “they came to a place which is called Calvary and there they crucified him.” Actually in Jerusalem at that time the Passover was being kept — the typical lamb being killed, the typical service being offered to God and the real purpose of God was being ignored, despised, and rejected. You can see there the darkness that was in the hearts of men, also the reason for the righteous acts of God when he disciplines men. In the Feast of the Passover and Unleavened Bread there was typified the life, death and resurrection of the Christ — it was a message that spoke of his life, his death, and his glorious resurrection. On the morning of the third day after the Passover had been killed the priest went out to the ripened harvest field with a sickle and gathered a golden sheaf, of the first fruits, bound it, and waved it before the Lord. They didn’t know what they were doing in thousands of instances, but it was the shadow and type of Christ being the first fruits of those who sleep; so you have in the Passover Feast the teaching concerning the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and we have the authority of Paul, God’s servant, for emphasizing this. He said to the Corinthians, “Moreover brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you by which ye are saved, and in which you will be saved, unless you have believed in vain — Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures, and was buried and rose again according to the scriptures” so that we have no real gospel for the world unless we emphasize those great truths God holds forth for us in His word.
The two servants of God that seem to be most criticized by what might be called the intellectual religious world, are Moses and Paul, and the reason seems to be that Moses’ message is “Redemption by blood,” and Paul’s “Salvation by faith;” both these doctrines are hated by the natural man, insisting as they do that the only link the soul can have with God is that by faith — that faith which is unto the saving of the soul.
The next feast is that one we have already mentioned, the Feast of Pentecost. You will find the instructions about these feasts in Leviticus 23. It mentions the Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles. When the apostles were gathered together with one accord, in one place, on day of Pentecost they were obeying the Mosaic law, were considering the typical teaching they had heard many times as to the meaning of Pentecost. When that feast was held or observed by the Jewish people they got instructions to take of the new grain of the harvest that had been reaped and to grind it, and bake it, and take two loaves of it and bring those loaves and present them unto the Lord. They were to be baked with leaven and I think God must have recognized in connection with his people there will always be human frailty and weakness, that the perfection of the Lord Jesus in his own life is not fully reflected in the shortcoming of service that we have to lament over, and God has made provision, by which even that imperfect service, so full of shortcomings, may be acceptable unto him. Those two loaves were the fruit of the completed harvest and offered unto God they typified the service of His loving, redeemed people, and on day of Pentecost that was perfectly fulfilled. Just as in the case of the Passover, every word of God was perfectly fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus and men knew it not, and so on that day of Pentecost in an upper room, hidden away from the eyes of the general public, that glad presentation took place that God accepted by the gift of his Holy Spirit. “They were of one accord, in one place…” What brought that about? They had been in the company of the Lord Jesus for 31/2 years — had accepted him as the Christ, the son of the living God, had parted company with their own traditions, had been subjected to the grinding and beating that had come into their lives as the result of the discipline they had gone through, and now they were a loaf baked together, bound together, one heart and one soul, yielding themselves up to the service and work of God. The day of Pentecost had truly come. On the day of Pentecost, or 50 days after the Passover, it was the seventh Sabbath after that feast — the perfect Sabbath, the true cessation from self and sin had taken place and they were loaves baked together in one bond for the work and service of God. The day of Pentecost had fully come — that is what they understood, no doubt by the spirit in connection with the typical teaching of the Mosaic law and now they were experiencing its fulfillment as they remembered those days of misunderstanding, those days of discipline, those days in which they had to be rebuked, had to endure the reproach of men, and the effect of all that upon them was to make them fine flour that could be baked together and presented to God. You talk about your colleges, schools, theological seminaries to fit men for the work of God — they have only produced false prophets that do not understand the first principles of the doctrine of Christ, disobedient in their manner of life — they have produced this awful confusion and Babylon that has made men pagans; but God’s way in which his servants subject themselves to that beating, grinding, that makes them “one,” produces men and women that carry His gospel by His Holy Spirit to the ends of the earth, and the tongues of fire are upon them to enable them to speak of the wondrous things of God as the spirit gives them utterance.
Later on in the year Israel was commanded to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. It was the most enjoyable of all feasts for it was the time when the whole harvest had been gathered in; the vine and olive had given their fruit and the fields had yielded up their grain and God’s people Israel were called upon to assemble now and keep the Feast of Tabernacles. It was held in the early autumn. Jesus and the disciples went up frequently to the Feast of Tabernacles — spoken of in John’s gospel as “the Feast of the Jews” — it shows how the best institutions devised by God can be brought to nothing by men — they had no meaning for them spiritually, they continued in the form and ritual and offered their sacrifices but they might as well have been at home, it meant nothing to them. In John 7 there was a ritual performed in connection with that feast that was very significant. A priest took a golden vessel and went down to the pool of Siloam — he filled that golden vessel at the well, then that water was poured upon the altar — it was that which made Jesus cry in that last, the great day of the feast, when he saw the significant ceremonial and saw the Jews abiding in booths — He stood there and cried, “If any man thirst let him come unto me and drink…” “This he spake of the spirit, which they that believe on him should receive..,” so in the very center of that unbelieving throng, composed of dead professors, observing a dead ritual, the living water of the living God was being poured out and Jesus could say as a result of that there could be “the healing of the nations.” The Jews were asked to dwell in booths for 7 days to cause them to remember they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth, but they failed to apprehend the meaning God had behind his truth and they worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, the shadows were more to them than the substance. In the very midst of all that unbelief and ignorance the fountain of living water, the man Christ Jesus, stood and cried, “If any man thirst let him come unto me and drink…,” for out of him, through a believing heart, there shall flow rivers of living water, and that promise is for you, and me, today as we keep the Feasts of Tabernacles. We keep as Christians the Passover, for Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us, therefore let us keep that feast; and we keep the Feast of Pentecost as a cessation from ourselves and sin; and we keep the Feast of Tabernacles, in which we confess ourselves strangers and pilgrims on the earth and respond to that call of Jesus, “if any man thirst let him come to me and drink.”
The living words of the living Christ will be in us as an eternal spring, springing up unto everlasting life. You are linked on with mighty forces by the faith of Jesus, you have power to bless the lives with which you come in contact the life-giving spring that God has endowed you with can be such a source of health and life to those around you that they can pass from the state of corruption, to life and immortality, and become children of light. No wonder in that revelation John had that we read of in Revelation he said, “I saw a pure river of water of life…” He had seen great judgments — now best of all he closes with the vision of a pure river of water of life, proceeding from the throne of God, with one purpose in view that it would be for the healing of the Lamb there does proceed from us in spite of the limitations of our human nature, a pure river of water of life, which is “for the healing of the nations,” for the blessing of mankind, and this is what he had in view in bringing you out of Egypt’s bondage — in giving you the privilege of sheltering under the precious blood. This is His purpose that from you and I should proceed this “pure river of water of life, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb, which shall be for the healing of the nations.” God knows the world has had enough of its hatred, its animosity, its sorrow. He looks down today in pity, but can not avert the dreadful calamity that must come upon men as a result of their disobedience and sin; but there is a people from whose lips there proceeds that water of life “for the healing of the nations,” and may you and I, indeed have a part in it. Amen.