THINGS THAT WE HAVE COME TO
Andrew W. G. Spiers
1 Chronicles 29:10-13
I want to speak of what it says in Hebrews, things that we “have come to” (v22). It is quite important when we are young to understand that in Christianity there are certain things that we need to come to. We might not arrive at all these truths at one time, because it would be in connection, always, with our growth. I have read of these three persons in the Old Testament because what we get in them are the final words at certain points which they had reached in their long history with God.
I would say at the outset that we all need to appreciate increasingly the history that we may have with God. I hope you have started on that road. It is a road which would take you from the time that you put your trust in the Lord Jesus to the day that either you depart to be with Christ, or we are all taken to glory together. The work goes on until it is completed. Let us appreciate that: God’s work in a person ends when He finishes it. Then, currently, because we are not in glory, He takes that person to be with Himself.
But Abraham, Jacob and David had histories with God – histories that teach us a lot in relation to our own pathways here. Take Abraham to start with. Abraham is a person who, first of all, was called out. But let me say what he reached. He reached the point of the truth of resurrection. You ask, ‘Why?’ If you read in Hebrews you will see the point I am making; the truth of resurrection is what Abraham reached, because he expected to receive Isaac from among the dead (Heb 11:19).
Resurrection is an important feature of the truth that we as Christians hold dear. It is a truth that is being questioned in the current days. But it is a truth that remains in all its beauty and all its glory, set out to us when God the Father raised Christ from among the dead. Resurrection is set out for us in chapter 15 of the First Epistle to the Corinthians. It is a truth, beloved brethren, that we need to lay hold of in a real way, because, as I said just now, it has been questioned.
Abraham did not arrive at it straight away. He had a history with God, as we all do: you and I have a history with God. He brings us, step by step, to an end, and here is Abraham at his end. First of all he was called out. The principle of faith is applied to Abraham. That is the first step in the Christian’s pathway, the principle of faith.
Faith is the first fixed principle of Scripture, and you will see it there in chapter 12 of Genesis. He was called out and he took a journey, and at the end of that journey he did one thing, he built an altar (v8). When you have finished a step with God, dear Christian hearer, build an altar. Build an altar to the Lord Jesus! In other words, it means you approach God through Him. He built that altar, and, at one point, he had to return to it (ch 13:3‑4). Why? Because he went away. He went down to Egypt – a dangerous thing to do! But he went.
But he returns to the altar, and then he comes to another place, he comes to Hebron (ch 13:18). Hebron, in God’s word, speaks to us of the purposes of God, the oaks of Mamre. And, beloved brethren, let us lay hold, as FER said (I think it was in Birmingham), ‘Young man, lay hold of the purposes of God; they will establish you and keep you firm through your history here.’ The purposes of God are set out for us in Scripture – you will find them in the Ephesian epistle.
And then Abraham takes a further step in his history, and he comes to this point where he was called to offer up his only son, whom he loved (ch 22:2). He was obedient to the divine word. He was obedient to the divine commandment. Why? Because, I think, he had reached the understanding that God, Who had been so faithful to him throughout his pathway down here, would return that son, Isaac, to him. The great point is the truth of resurrection.
Let us lay hold of the truth of resurrection, dear brethren! It is one of the things that we have come to. Do not let us put it on one side. The truth of resurrection is one of the features of the truth that each one of us, essentially, has to appreciate in a greater depth.
Now, with Jacob, it is his knowledge of God. What is your knowledge of God? What is mine? It was his knowledge of God. Where did he learn that? Where did he learn these sentences or part-sentences that he utters here? He learnt them in God’s presence, yes. But he learnt them also during that pathway that he took, right from the house of his father and his mother when he left. He learnt God in his pathway. It was not an easy pathway for him. Read Scripture! The great thing is to read Scripture and find how God took Jacob on his pathway. He did not let him go. He kept him.
That is why he says that God had shepherded him “all my life long.” Can you say that God has shepherded you all your life long? The shepherd character of God Himself is expressed beautifully in the Person of Jesus: the great Shepherd (Heb 13:20), the chief Shepherd (1 Pet 5:4), the good Shepherd (John 10:11,14) of the sheep. That is the Person I know. Do you know Him?
The good Shepherd who gave His life for the sheep – think of that great Shepherd. Jacob knew God as the Shepherd Who shepherded him “all my life long.” “All” – take note of that – it is “all my life.” Not just part of it when he was, maybe, knowing the God Who shepherded him. It says, “All my life long,” every step that he took. “The God that shepherded me all my life long to this day” – right from the point when he left his father’s house, and maybe before. Right through the sojourn he had spent with Laban, right through the journey back. Right from that time when he experienced, “This is none other but the house of God” (Gen 28:17): the angels going up and down that ladder. A “dreadful” place he calls it. A terrible place, and yet he returned to it!
First of all he calls it Bethel – the house of God. The next time he visited it he called it ‘God of the house of God’ (ch 35:7). One of the things we all need to have, dear brethren, is a deepening knowledge of God. Jacob learned it through his pathway.
First of all, he says, “The God before Whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked.” We spoke about Abraham’s walk. We do not know too much about Isaac’s walk, except that in one place it says that “Isaac sowed in that land” and was fruitful (Gen 26:12,22). Dear brethren, sow in the land that God has provided and be fruitful!
Ruth was told to stop in that field (Ruth 2:8). Let us not go outside the field that God has appointed us. Remain in that field, remain with the Man of wealth, Boaz himself!
And then he says, “The Angel that redeemed me from all evil.” Dear brethren, I do not think this brings in the truth of redemption as we may know it, but he says “The Angel that redeemed me from all evil.” ‘This is the Angel that took me and protected me and brought me away from trouble and caused me to come to the place where I reached this knowledge of God in a full character.’ I would suggest, and I would be open to correction, that he is probably morally greater than any other man in Genesis. He was a greater personage, in one sense, than Abraham, because he reached through to his knowledge of God in this way.
With David it is a question of the service of God. David had a chequered history like us all, but the first thing that marked David – and we all like David for this point – is that he overcame Goliath. All the young ones like to speak about David and Goliath. A young lad going into the valley with five smooth stones, and he only had to use one! Think of the history David had with his God. He depended upon Him when he went into the valley. He depended on Him after Ziklag (1 Sam 30:6‑8). He depended on Him after failure came in up until this point. And now he is able to speak here about the God Whom he knew. I think we can say of this that he had reached a pinnacle in the service of God.
“Thine, Jehovah, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the splendour, and the majesty.” These words should set our hearts aglow as to the glory of what is in the divine realm, because it is David speaking of the God Whom he knew – the God Whom David sought to bring in. This is the glorious area of the service of God – because David in the Old Testament times was the one who instituted the service of God in the way in which it is related here.
We have to wait for our day to know what the service of God is for ourselves; while we are still here, on the morrow, we will enjoy the service of God. Think of the words of David here! I have known them to be used in thanksgiving on the Lord’s day morning. “Thine, Jehovah, is the greatness.” His is the greatness! The Lord has the greatness and the power and the glory. David brings everyone in later on in his prayer here, “Who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer willingly after this manner?” (v14).
And so I read in Hebrews because I find these few verses most interesting. We commenced with the things that we have not come to (vv18‑21). I read those just to draw the distinction.
There are eight points, things, that we have come to. The first is, “Ye have come to Mount Zion.” I just want to say a few words about Mount Zion. It is “the city of the great King” (Ps 48:2). There are about 40 references in the Psalms to Zion, and 47 in the prophet Isaiah. It has a great place in God’s viewpoint, mount Zion. It should have a great place in the heart of the Christian. I am not talking now of the literal place. I am speaking of it in its moral or spiritual application to the Christian today. You can go back through the passages in the Psalms and see how they look forward, and relate to the present time and the day to come.
Someone once said as to Mount Zion – I think the address was in about 1910, a brother called Herbert Gill – that Mount Zion to him was like a summit at the end of the road starting with the pathway out of Egypt, right the way through the wilderness, the tabernacle being built, and ending in Mount Zion. Why? Because it was the place that God loved (see Ps 78:68). So today, dear brethren, we need to appreciate what Mount Zion means.
Psalm 78 will tell you what it means, because in Psalm 78 it is presented as the action of the sovereign mercy of God in taking a territory out of the tribe of Joseph and giving it to the tribe of Judah with Mount Zion. Sovereign mercy! And that is for our appreciation of divine grace. Psalm 78 reads, “He rejected the tent of Joseph, and chose not the tribe of Ephraim, but chose the tribe of Judah, the Mount Zion which he loved” (vv67‑68). Zion in God’s eyes was the place of beauty. Psalm 48 says, “Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion, … the city of the great King” (v2). That is Zion, and that is how we, dear brethren, need to regard Mount Zion today. It has its relationship to what we appreciate in the truth of the assembly, but it is, as God calls it, the place that He loved. Also in Psalm 132, it is where He wanted to dwell (v13), and then in Psalms 133 and 134 it speaks of what comes out of Mount Zion, “there hath Jehovah commanded the blessing, life for evermore” (Ps 133:3); “Jehovah, the Maker of heavens and earth, bless thee out of Zion” (Ps 134:3).
So there is great joy in appreciating all that comes out of Zion. What a grand start to the things we have come to, Mount Zion! We can go through the other seven points one by one if we wish – it would take us a little bit of time and I do not intend to do it. I can let brethren do a little bit of homework on them! Because maybe we shall appreciate then the things that we have come to; because, in one sense, it is step by step. We start at the top and we finish at the top, because we finish with the blood of sprinkling. You come to “the city of the living God, heavenly Jerusalem.” “Jerusalem above … our mother” (Galatians 4:26).
You go on to “the assembly of the firstborn who are registered in heaven; and to God, Judge of all; and to the spirits of just men made perfect; and to Jesus.” “And to Jesus!” What an end! “Mediator of a new covenant.” That, as we know, is yet to be made with God’s earthly people. Do we, dear brethren, come into the full appreciation of what is known as the “new covenant?” The love of God spread abroad in our heart by the Holy Spirit – the new covenant. His love is shining out in all its magnificence. It shone out at the cross, it shines out now! And let us lay hold of the One Who is the Mediator of the new covenant.
I just wanted to draw our attention briefly to “the blood of sprinkling.” It is one of those things, the last thing that we have come to. It is not washing here. It is the blood of sprinkling, not washing. Washing is more personal and individual. The blood of sprinkling is a far wider thought – a far greater thought. If you go back into Exodus, you will find that not only the persons were sprinkled, but the tabernacle system was sprinkled. It was all sprinkled with the blood of sprinkling. Everything, by the blood of sprinkling, is covered. It still refers to the blood of the Lord Jesus, and it speaks better than Abel’s. Abel’s blood cried from the ground, as we learn in Genesis 4:10, but the blood of sprinkling speaks today of the way in which God has secured His end in the praises of Israel. So let us not refuse Him that speaks.
As to the eight things we have come to (or, maybe, not!), those are available today for every one of us to take our steps towards them, step by step. Do not miss out, beloved brother, beloved sister. Take it up, as we said as to Jacob, in your knowledge of God. Come to the cross, and there will be great blessing to your soul in so doing it.
We spoke about Abraham and his appreciation of resurrection. We have spoken about Jacob, or Israel, and his knowledge of God; and of David, reaching that great point in the service of God. May we all reach those three points first. And then there are these in the Hebrew epistle, and the writer (Paul, I think) suggests to us that we have come to these places. And let us dwell, particularly, on Mount Zion, because that is the place where God desires to dwell and which He loves.
Read Psalm 87, and that will give you an idea of what God appreciates in Mount Zion. Because Psalm 87 was written by whom? Not by David. It was written by the sons of Korah, by those who knew what God’s sovereign mercy was. Who of us in this room does not know what sovereign mercy is? Well, may we be encouraged! May God bless the word. Amen.
7 July 2012