Romans 12: 1-2
2 Chronicles 5: 7-10
Ephesians 1: 3-6
RB What is in mind, beloved brethren, is to enquire into the will of God. It comes into the scriptures which we have read either directly or typically. We see it pre-eminently in the Lord Jesus in His pathway here in all that He accomplished as a Man. Everything that God had in His heart for man was taken up by that blessed One, and we see in Him the full setting out of the will of God. We did not read any scriptures from the gospels bearing on it, but the brethren should be free to bring in instances in the pathway of the Lord Jesus when the will of God was particularly before Him. We think of Him in the wilderness, being tempted of the devil, how He answered. We think of Him in Gethsemane in prayer. How blessed to be engaged with that One. But the will of God from the viewpoint of Hebrews 10, and also from 2 Chronicles and Ephesians, is an accomplished matter. The Lord Jesus has fulfilled that will in its perfection and it involves His present position at the right hand of God. I thought from our perspective, in what the wilderness typifies, this reference in Hebrews 9 is very beautiful, particularly verse 5, “the cherubim of glory shadowing the mercy-seat”. We get some impression of the Father’s delight in the Man that was here, these cherubim speaking of what is protective. That comes into the gospels as well: Matthew’s gospel refers to the little child, and there is protection for the Lord Jesus by His parents and by other agencies as directed by God. This is a beautiful reference, and prior to that it speaks about the golden pot that had the manna and the rod of Aaron that sprouted; so that as we are found here in testimony we have the divine resource in the manna, speaking of the provision of grace from above, and the priesthood of Christ in the rod that sprouted. I wondered if that would help us as to Romans 12 where we are besought to present our bodies “a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God”. I think that has been likened to a priestly act, and the reference to intelligent service would also bear that out. We are not to be “conformed to this world, but … transformed by the renewing of your mind”. My impression is that as engaged with the ark in the wilderness in our pathway here, and as we prove help in not being conformed to this world, we prove what the manna is and Aaron’s rod that sprouted. We prove the life, and where it is resident above, and that enables us to be here for God’s pleasure.
David was one who went in and sat before Jehovah and he saw the end of things as before God. I think as we are engaged with that, and also with the Lord as He was here, we prove what it is to be transformed because we are feeding on that blessed One.
In 2 Chronicles 5 we have the ark at rest, the staves drawn out. That relates more, I think, to final conditions which we read of in Ephesians 1. We read “according to the good pleasure of His will” there and as the brethren are aware there are other references in the chapter to His will, God’s will. There is “the mystery of His will” (v 9) which relates to heading up all things in the Christ, and there is “the counsel of His own will” (v 11): we can refer to that if there is time. In 2 Chronicles 5, it is no longer a wilderness setting: it is final conditions; the manna and Aaron’s rod that sprouted are no longer in the ark. There was nothing in the ark save the two tables which Moses put there at Horeb. That relates to the One who has fulfilled the will of God in its detail and in all its glory; and there is going to be an eternal result from all that has been done by that One. That was what I had before me; do you think we could find help in considering that?
JMcK Yes. I am sure that is very instructive. Could you just say a little bit more of how it applies to us? We speak about these things a lot, but maybe we need to be more instructed to see how we come into this ourselves.
RB I felt that as being engaged with the Lord Jesus as the Ark of the testimony there would be something formed in us that would bear these characteristics. I think the more we frequent the divine presence and contemplate the One who was here as a blessed Man, the One who said, “Lo, I come to do thy will”, the more that would have an effect on us.
JMcK I am sure that is right. We often say, and it is ever true, that God has only Christ before Him and as we are occupied with Him it is in order that these features are wrought out in us for God’s pleasure.
RB Yes, that is what I have in mind, feeling the test of it for myself. The first thing that we have to come to is that our own will has to go. We have to submit to the Father’s will and the Lord Jesus, you might say, would encourage us to do that. In Matthew 11 He says “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me”, v 29. That must relate to the way that He was here before His Father as a Man. For us obedience must be involved in it. I noticed a comment of Mr Darby, that obedience is the only exercise, save praise, of life to God from us (vol 16 p 6); so this matter of doing the will of God must be something very important for us.
AMcK Is there something in this expression here in Hebrews 10, “He takes away the first that he may establish the second”?
RB It is essential that we come to that. We know what the first represented here. It would have represented the system of worship that had been set up and had been recognised by God, but all of that has been done away. For us we have to realise that the first order has gone and that everything is now centred in an ascended Man.
AMcK I wondered if it would be a matter of everything having to be removed in order that the will of God might come into expression.
RB You know in your own experience how important that is. Until you have come to some understanding of that, it is a struggle, but once you have had your affections engaged with the Lord Jesus, the One who was here, the Ark of the testimony, that is the whole secret of it: attraction to Christ where He is.
GBG Is this firstly for God’s pleasure? In fact, there was no one else to appreciate this when the Lord said this, “Lo, I come to do thy will”. God was the only One who would appreciate that. There was no one else there.
RB Say more about that, when this took place, if it is possible to say that.
GBG We need to be careful, but the Lord Jesus came here with the intention of doing the will of Another. No one else has done that.
RB There was a body prepared for Him.
GBG That is right. I think this is firstly for God’s pleasure. God appreciated the One who was coming in and who came in to do His will.
RB Do you think, too, that Satan recognised how crucial that was if the whole counsel and purpose of God was to be fulfilled; repeatedly in the temptations, and then again when he returns in the garden of Gethsemane, his attempts are to move the Lord out of this position of dependent manhood. There was some knowledge with Satan of how important this was for God.
MGW Does it look as though what the writer is aiming at for these beloved brethren is in verse 19 of Hebrews 10? He is leading up to, “Having therefore, brethren, boldness for entering into the holy of holies by the blood of Jesus, the new and living way.” In Judaism there was no access to this but now there is. Is He encouraging us in view of our actually taking it up? Let us get into the presence of God. Christ is there in all His loveliness, in all His delight to God. Is that what we are leading up to?
RB I am glad you refer to it. The fact is that the Lord Jesus has gone in as Forerunner. That means there are others to follow Him there, do you think? And not only has the Lord Jesus done everything that God had in His will for Him, but the intention is that there is a generation formed after Him that come into the same position. That is a very blessed matter, and something that we should all be conscious of, that the Lord Jesus has gone in but His intention is to take us in with Him.
GCMcK “By which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all”. Does that bear on what has just been said as to what has been secured for God: a sanctified company?
RB I think it is. It is a completed matter, is not it? The company is sanctified as a result of the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Other scriptures bring in perhaps a different aspect of sanctification but in this one it is a completed matter. So it relates to what has been said, that there is a company now that affords pleasure to God. God’s pleasure must lie at the heart of it. Do you think this would relate to what we do every Lord’s day morning in putting our hands to the loaf? I got this impression as the result of our time at the Supper a few weeks ago, an impression as to the One who had taken up the will of God and fulfilled it, and then it came in later in the service at the point of praise to God, the One of whom it is said “for thy will they were, and they have been created”, Rev 4: 11. That would relate to creation, but there is the matter of the will of God being fulfilled as praise ascends to Him.
GCMcK Yes, I think so. So really, as coming to the Supper we should be in accord with the sanctification. We should be in the path of the will of God, fully appreciating the One who did it perfectly.
RB It is a challenge to me but, as we put our hands to the emblems in appreciation of the One that was here for God’s will - the loaf in particular bearing that out; we are really pledging our allegiance to Him, and also setting aside our own wills, saying we are here for the will of God. It has been shown so beautifully by the One who was here as Man, but now we, as in the pathway, take that up and seek to be true to it.
NJH This One doing the will of God stands over against universal lawlessness.
RB Open that up please.
NJH This is the starting point really. Righteousness was established at the cross. It subsists now in glory. There is a Man in glory; so the will of God takes us right through.
RB That is the impression I have, and do you think a fresh sight of that would help us in our pathway here, in our wilderness pathway, because the matter has been completed to God’s glory and full satisfaction? There will be an eternal result. It has in mind the millennium, in one sense, but there will be an eternal result. When the Lord was here and the disciples asked Him to teach them to pray He said, “let thy will be done as in heaven so upon the earth”, Matt 6: 10. That was so when the Lord was here, and it will be so in the millennium when Israel is recovered; but do you think it should be so now as those that have an appreciation of this are here in testimony?
CAMcK You said in prayer that the Lord should be magnified in our view. We are challenged as to knowing what the will of God is in the first place before we begin to do it; but is it not wonderful that He knew intimately that will and was able to complete it to its fulness?
RB If we are exercised as to how we should follow the will of God we need to look to Him. He is the One that has accomplished it. He was here as a Man, He went through things, sin apart, He can sympathise with us as the High Priest and is available to do so, and I think, as being engaged with Him, the will of God becomes more apparent.
APG It says “Thou hast loved righteousness and hast hated lawlessness”, Heb 1: 9. It came from His heart, did not it? “Thy law is within my heart”, Ps 40: 8.
RB Very good. “He hath magnified the law, and made it honourable”, Isa 42: 21. We see in Him the epitome of all these typical scriptures. It is very attractive. So, to refer to Mr Darby again, he pointed out that obedience in the Lord Jesus - obedience to the will of the Father - it not any check but motive, vol 21 p24. It was the spring of His life. He loved that will, and He loved the law, and He magnified it as here. How different from us, but then He is set before us as a model in one sense. Also (and again this is quoting Mr Darby), He never had a desire checked by an imposed law, vol 10 p29. Think of Him in all His beauty and dependence here as a Man. It bows your heart.
GBG Is that the force of the expression “the obedience of the Christ”, 2 Cor 10: 5? It was that kind of obedience. He did not have a will to be corrected like we do.
RB Exactly. It is true to say that He was the only Person here who had a right to a will. Would it be right to say that? Then in Gethsemane we see it most beautifully, “not my will, but thine be done”, Luke 22: 42. His holy soul rightly recoiled from what lay before Him, but He went through with it because it was in the Father’s will.
PAG I was just thinking of what it says at the end of John 14, “but that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father has commanded me, thus I do”, v 31. But then He says “Rise up, let us go hence”. He would have His own with Him in the motive spring of His love for the Father, do you think?
RB That would extend to us now. Do you feel, in our measure in our pathway here, we know something of that?
PAG Yes. We have spoken about the will of God, but I am just struck by the fact that the Lord explicitly says, “I love the Father”. It is a love of relationship that brings us into the good of these things.
RB So all that the Father is, all that God is, gives character to that will: love, grace, all these matters underlie it. So it is not an arbitrary will. We think of persons having a will, and we know what our own wills can be and are, but we see the love that underlies everything that God is doing and His will is an expression of that.
RG Early in His life He says, “did ye not know that I ought to be occupied in my Father’s business”, Luke 2: 49. Do you think we need to know the will of God to be able to understand the Father’s business?
RB I think so. He knew it perfectly, but we, too, can come into some understanding of it as we grow in experience with God; and do you think being engaged with these things is essential if that is to be so? Do you think we grow in our understanding of the will of divine Persons?
RG It is not an arbitrary thing; it is a very extensive and expansive thought, the will of God, but then His love has been expressed in the Father, and what He is accomplishing in time, amongst men, for His own pleasure, do you think?
RB Yes, that is good.
JAG Peter says, “leaving you a model that ye should follow in His steps”, 1 Pet 2: 21. As being partakers of the divine nature we should be able to locate His steps quite easily, and I suppose the primary thing with the will of God is that God desires to make Himself known in His nature and attributes. That is to be reflected amongst the saints.
RB I am sure that is what we would all desire, to be more like the Man that was here, and to minister more for God’s pleasure. It is set before us as a completed matter but we want to be in correspondence with it in our hearts and affections, do you think?
JAG Yes, I think so. Here I suppose you can say it is abstract but it becomes concrete in the brethren.
RB We can see and take account of those that were particularly marked by this feature. We can read of them in the scriptures, but we have known persons, and we do know persons, that are like this. They have the will of God before them, and I think we would all covet to be more like that.
JAG We sometime have a view of the will of God as something that is hard and arbitrary but it is really for God’s pleasure. He delights in it.
RB Exactly, and I think we need to be more engaged with what the Lord Jesus is for God. That is what drew me to Hebrews 9, this reference to “the cherubim of glory shadowing the mercy-seat”. It is a very beautiful reference: the pleasure that there was in heaven as the Lord moved here is set out here. The cherubim are looking down on the mercy-seat and the ark supported the mercy-seat. In the ark are these articles that speak so beautifully of the One that was here for the fulfilment of God’s will.
RG-y Israel knew God’s will. God told them what it was through His law, but do you think there is something particularly attractive in the fact that God makes His will known now in His own Son, and it is to be worked out, as this scripture suggests, in an atmosphere where family affections prevail?
RB I thought that was so in the first scripture, “through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all”. That sacrifice involved the body of that blessed One. Do you think something of the feelings of divine Persons are shown in that?
RG-y Yes, I do, and what you have referred to already “the cherubim of glory”, as you have pointed out, really speak of the Father’s affections, and this protective matter that surrounds this blessed One, and we are drawn into that line of things.
RB I would be glad if you would say more about how we are drawn into that.
RG-y God spoke to Israel from Sinai and fear was the result; but He speaks to us through a Saviour who attracts our hearts, and then the thing is expanded as we get to know Him better, and His will becomes more precious to us.
RB That is good; so we move more into the matter of it becoming a motive for us as it was for Him.
RG-y I think that is very important. We may think, ’What would the brethren think?’ or ’I should be doing this’; if it is love for Christ it puts the spring in our heart, and things become a joy instead of a duty.
NJH Was the will of Saul of Tarsus broken in three days? He was ready for the family expression of “Saul, brother”, Acts 9: 17. And then he “took not counsel with flesh and blood”, Galatians 1: 16. The will was broken; he was ready for the divine will.
RB Exactly, so it could be said of him “behold, he is praying”, Acts 9: 11. Is that an indication of one whose will is broken? That could be said of Paul and there are others too. I suppose Jonah had his will broken and we all have to come to that in our own experience: our own will has to go and there is another will that has to be predominant.
We see in the Lord in His pathway particularly in Luke’s gospel, the instances in which He is found in prayer here. I think He is a pattern for us in that.
MGW Would it be a help to refer to Matthew 17 in this connection, as Peter “was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them”, v 5? Is that something like what we have here in Hebrews 9?
RB I think so, and the voice. Heaven was expressing its delight in the One that was here in affection. I think linking it with this passage is very good and precious to us.
JSp I am thinking of the thought of partaking, “we, being many, are one loaf, one body”, 1 Cor 10: 17. We partake of it. It means we allow it to come into our constitution and we are affected by it. It is not just a symbol that is lying dormant on the table; it is something we actually partake of. Do you think that has a moral effect on us?
RB It should have an effect on us as you say. How often perhaps we have taken the emblems and not allowed the full import of them to sink in, but I think what you say as to partaking is important and it should raise exercise with us all.
GBG Do you look on this scripture you refer to in Hebrews 9 as present and true in God’s presence now?
RB That is my impression, but do you think that is all right?
GBG Yes. I think that is the case; therefore we should be engaged with what is in God’s presence, with God’s delight in Christ and what He has done. It says here, “concerning which it is not now the time to speak in detail”, but we would not say that would we?
RB I did not think so. I thought that was true in the time it was written, but in our time I think we would do well to speak about it at every opportunity.
GBG This is an elementary epistle, and these Hebrew Christians needed to be established in grace first of all, and then they would have liberty to approach God. Do you think that is why he is delaying the speaking of it in detail? He is to establish them in their right to have access to God then they would enjoy what is there.
RB It seems to me he is leading them on a step at a time for their blessing but they have yet to come into things fully, but with us I think we could say the actuality of this should now be known amongst us. What I had in mind as to this setting here were the references to the manna and the rod of Aaron which would be connected with the wilderness and therefore the ark of the testimony. So I think these two sides with us would go on together. There is the fact that the will has been accomplished, but then we are still here in wilderness conditions where we have to prove God, and I thought as engaged with the ark that we would prove God as He should be proved because, really, in the wilderness for the believer, there is nothing but God there, and what He gives in His grace.
AMB Is one of the features of the will of God that it is holy? I was just impressed by that. Practically every scripture that you have brought before us refers to what is holy. The first one as to sanctification would relate to that, and here the ark was obviously in the Holy of holies. I just wondered if you could say something about that.
RB I would rather others opened that out, but it is an affecting thing that it is in the “holy of holies”, and we can go there and take account of it, contemplate it, and allow it to work in our affections so that there should be something that is corresponding to the ark in our own hearts.
AMB God’s will must be entirely according to Himself. He is a holy God: His will is holy. But then He has so provided through the work of Christ and His priesthood, as you are bringing in here, that there should be a response to that holy will, and holiness should be found among His people, really conditions that He can associate Himself with or can be associated with Him.
RB That is my exercise. I feel at times how far short I come and I am sure that most of us do but nonetheless there it is in all its glory and we are to go in for these things.
RG I was just going to ask you if Aaron’s rod that budded should not be an encouragement to every generation. We do not leave anybody behind today when we are talking about this. How wonderful the will of God is and how great it is, but there was the blossom, and there was the budding, then there was the fruit. Do you think that we should encourage one another to go from one point to the next?
RB We should, and I trust that what is being said is not beyond anyone. I would seek to make it attractive so that the younger ones are perhaps attracted to look at it in a way that they have not before. This should be something that we should all desire, to get into the presence of God to see the Man that has so delighted God there, and to prove Him in our day to day pathway as well. It really encompasses everything that we hold.
JSp The Lord, in a unique way, encompassed everything related to the will of God. That would be like the ark carrying these different items through the wilderness. We are in that position. Can we encompass them in our affections and our intelligence, and hold them in regard to God?
RB That is the test. We know our own hearts, but is more room being made for this? Are we seeking to go in for this in an increased way as we move nearer to the time of His return? Do you think the Spirit’s work would be to that end that the work that has been going on in the dispensation should be moving towards a culmination, and the affections of the saints must be key to that?
JAG In Romans 12 there is a community of persons working out the will of God in its perfection. There is no colliding, there is nothing going wrong. Everyone is doing what he is supposed to do: a very beautiful situation because it must reflect Christ to God.
RB I wondered that. There is what is acceptable to God. Doing the will of God is not to give us acceptance before God, but nonetheless there is something for God’s pleasure as we do it. The basis of acceptance has been laid. If each of us is seeking before God to see the Lord Jesus and what He was here as embodied in the ark of the covenant and as He is now, our own wills, as feeding on that will, must therefore be done away with. Therefore together you can see how this thing works because there is only one will operating.
JAG Because everybody is after the same thing. Consequently you are beginning to see assembly features develop.
RB There may be a reference to that in Ephesians 1 as to the mystery of His will which is involved in “to head up all things in the Christ”. That must relate to the assembly sharing in headship with Him to some degree.
JS Do you think this would be intended to be the normal result of the glad tidings getting into our souls? “I beseech you … by the compassions of God, to present your bodies.”
RB That is a very affecting reference. You think of the extent to which the compassions of God have gone for us individually.
AM There is a verse in Psalm 119 which starts one of the sections, “Oh how I love thy law!”, v 97. Do you think that shows that the soul is making progress? We have been taught that Psalm 119 is the filling out of Psalm 1. Psalm 1 is only six verses. Psalm 119 is longer, but I was thinking about what you said as to the different generations. We do not drift into this. There has to be genuine soul exercise, but there are tremendous encouragements along the way.
RB Each of us has found that in different ways but it is all tending to the same end, and I think what you say is very helpful.
GCMcK So that the will of God required a vessel in which it was carried out. The ark was that, and in Romans 12 you need vessels, do you? The bodies of the saints become that.
RB Yes. I wondered if feeding on the Lord as the One who came here and had a body prepared for Him would lead us on to this, to present our bodies a living sacrifice as we see what has been worked out by Him. What else would we want to use our bodies for if that has really taken hold of our affections?
GCMcK You spoke of the will of God in its detail being carried out by Christ, and the idea of the will of God connected with our bodies makes it very practical. It brings it down to every possible detail you would say. Again it is “holy, acceptable to God”, which would link on with what we have been speaking about - what is pleasurable to God.
RB As was said earlier, it is not an arbitrary thing. You come into it because you delight in it. You see the One who embraced the whole of the will of God and made it honourable, as has been remarked, but you come into that and therefore you would accept an exhortation “be not conformed to this world”. The manna and Aaron’s rod that budded would help us in this matter of not being conformed, but being transformed.
RG-y Do you think that is one of the ways in which we learn what is acceptable to God. We find that in the holiest. We find what God has retained before Him for His presence, and as we go in there we see in the golden pot that had the manna, that it is not what the manna is to us there; it is what it is to God. And we gain something from the understanding of affections that divine Persons have for each other.
RB What you say is absolutely right. It is what these things were to God, but the wonder of it is that they are available to us. So that in our experience we can prove them in our measure and what is involved is bringing us into correspondence with the will of God ourselves.
GBG We all might feel we are not up to this but we can feed on it.
RB Yes, and you would encourage us all to do that, to be engaged in these things. Even if we feel that they are beyond us, nevertheless we will get something, and we will begin to make progress on these lines.
JMcK What is your thought as to “your intelligent service”?
RB I think the reference to intelligent service has been linked with the scripture, “I speak as to intelligent persons” (1 Cor 10: 15), and I believe it is linked to what is priestly. So we have the service of God and His pleasure before us.
JMcK There have been various references made to development and growth. We do not come into this immediately, do we? I think we become spiritually intelligent as we become occupied with certain things.
RB I think that is the key. So it has often been pointed out in relation to this portion of scripture, that having presented our bodies we do not take them back. We have placed them on the altar and they remain there. Our appreciation of what is for God Himself should grow as we are engaged with these things and as we seek wholeheartedly to come into them in a fuller way.
JD Do you think the love of God then introduces us to what abides, which would be a great encouragement to our souls to go in for it, do you think?
RB I was thinking of that: “he that does the will of God abides for eternity” in 1 John 2: 17, and I think you can see that as you are engaged with these things, as you are engaged with Christ where He is, the One who “has perfected in perpetuity the sanctified”. These are the things that are going through.
JW The Lord said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God”, Luke 4: 4. That was His food, was not it? He says “morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear”, Isa 50: 4. He fed really on the word of God, did He not?
RB And in that He is pattern for us, do you think?
JW Yes. I was thinking that. We do not just fill out the will of God because we know it is the right thing to do, but I was thinking of what was referred to where the psalmist says “O how I love thy law”.
RB I think that is good; so “morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear” (Isa 50: 4) shows He was here as a dependent Man, and we should be exercised to be found here in that character. I think what you say is helpful and what you quote is what He said in relation to the devil tempting Him, quoting from Deuteronomy. I think it has been pointed out that in Luke’s presentation of the temptations the first temptation is really the will of the flesh, JND Notes and Comments vol 6 p102. He hungered, and Satan sought to tempt Him in that way, and move His thoughts off the will of God, but the Lord overcame that, and then, as to dominion, that may relate to the mind of man in relation to “who have been born, not of blood, nor of flesh’s will, nor of man’s will, but of God”, John 1: 13. The Lord Jesus was perfect in all these things and it should affect us and help us in what we have to face here.
JAG We are affected by the compassions of God, and how deep and great they have been to us. How God has shown His compassion. It should really affect us in depth.
RB You see the length to which the Lord Jesus has gone that that should be so, as a Man here, but the perfection of His Manhood required His death to fill this out to completion; “not my will, but thine be done”, Luke 22: 42. He had to go into death and lay down that perfect life in the body in which the will of God had been fully manifested. Really, the matter of death was the fullest expression of it, do you think?
JAG Think of God who “has not spared His only Son, but delivered Him up for us all”, Rom 8: 32.
RB Yes, what you say would affect us all to have our hearts softened so that the contemplation of these things should produce a result in our own hearts for Him.
NJH So it is the way that God looks at matters that governs us. The mind of God is to regulate us in divine things, is that right?
RB I think that is very important, that the mind of God has to regulate us, because the only thing that is suitable for His presence is Christ. The flesh and man’s mind have no place there, hence the reference to intelligent service. There is something that is suitable and pleasurable to God.
JS Is that where the renewing of our mind comes in, do you think?
RB I would be glad if you would say something about what that would involve, please.
JS You come to a different way of looking at things, looking at things from God’s standpoint instead of from the human standpoint and prove then what is the “good and acceptable and perfect will of God”, Rom 12: 2.
RB So we will not prove anything of this without a renewed mind, will we? There is the fact that we submit to the divine will, and that is good, but the proving of it seems a positive thing and an active thing, that we relate ourselves to the will of God in order that we may know that it is good and acceptable and perfect.
DTP Is this when the spirit of grace and priestliness is operating in our hearts? The renewed mind sets you on a different path, does it not, and when priestly grace is operating there is forward progress and development in the soul and committal too, and it becomes very precious to the heart?
RB I think so, and do you think formation results from such a path?
DTP I think it does. I think it alludes to what you referred to as to Aaron’s rod budding. That is where you see it in its development. And it was through that really that matters were secured and held at that point, and it is needful that that spirit is operating amongst us.
RB I think so. So what came in in Aaron’s rod was life, and we covet to have life, to be in touch with the One in whom indissoluble life is.
DTP When you are transformed you are in life, are you not? And when the line is renewed, these are all the activities of life.
JSp You refer to priesthood. One of the prime features of priesthood is you are under charge. David says, “was it not laid upon me?”, 1 Sam 17: 29. Things are not optional. You do not just take them up and drop them as it suits us; you are under an obligation of love, but nevertheless it is an obligation.
RB So you would link that with presenting our bodies, and leaving them on the altar as it were. You would want the divine charge to lay hold of you permanently. As you say, it is not something we take up and lay down as it suits us, but it is to mark us really.
MGW Is this the way to some happy discoveries. The will of God is good; then I discover it is acceptable; then I find it is perfect.
RB We can relate to the will of God being good because it emanates from Him, and perfect, but acceptable is perhaps where we may struggle at times, but as we lay hold of what is available in the grace that comes from above in the provision of the manna, and in the priestly support of the Lord Jesus as shown in Aaron’s rod that budded, then we come into this matter of it being acceptable to us, because our own will has gone and therefore what is acceptable must mark the will of God.
JAG After Numbers 17 there is no more murmuring. In chapter 18 the priesthood is charged with the sanctuary, and chapter 19 is provision in the water of separation, and then they begin to journey.
RB So Aaron’s rod was put in the ark as a testimony against the murmuring, and that should lay hold of us. We know what we can be at times if we have complaints, or we are murmuring; then look in the ark, and see what is before God for His pleasure, and I think that would change our outlook, transform us as is set out here.
DS Does God want us to prove His will? It would become food for us. I was just thinking of what you were saying as to growing up to God’s will. Initially it is not natural to us, is it, but does the proving of God’s will show really what is there substantially to build up the believer?
RB I thought in that way that the manna is not beyond any of us, what we can get by way of gracious provision. Think of the children of Israel going outside their tents in the morning, and the manna transforming the wilderness. Each of us, no matter how young we are, needs to find the manna attractive, and I think that develops a constitution in us as you say. We feed on it and become formed after the One who was here.
DS I am just attracted to what was said earlier as to how God’s will forms a believer, and God loves us to prove Him, does He not? There is resource with God in every situation that we fall into and that is really God’s will for us, but sometimes we do not take it that way. God loves us to prove Him because the resource is there so that we become more like Christ.
RB That is good. “Prove me now herewith”, He could say in the prophet, “if I open not to you the windows of the heavens, and pour you out a blessing, till there be no place for it“, Mal 3: 10. So God, as you say, loves us to prove Him.
GBG Is the renewing of our minds a constant thing. This is not only for young believers. This is for all of us, is it not? We may get our minds set as to persons and things, and think the way we do things is the right way, but we have to be sensitive. The renewing of our mind goes on all the time.
RB What you say is right and something that exercises me. I feel that the remedy to it is to get into the presence of God, without any mindsets and preconceived ideas, but just to go in, as David did, go in and sit and see what God would say to you rather than what you would say to Him.
GBG Part of God’s will in this setting is that we are part of the one body in Christ; therefore the necessity of our minds being renewed in view of sitting together.
RB I think what was referred to earlier about everyone working together in the same direction is key to this.
RG Moses brought the will of God to bear on the people. Aaron then comes into the picture as the one, in his priesthood, who could open that up and help us to understand it and answer to it. But Nadab and Abihu were outside the scope of what was under way: strange fire, no renewed mind, and therefore unacceptable. Do you think we want to keep in the company of the true Aaron, who is the Lord Himself?
RB I think that is essential, and should be an increasing exercise with us, that that should be so. So that regarding anything that may be even hidden from the brethren, we get into the presence of God and it is exposed there, and it needs to be judged in the light of the death of Christ. As such we are found here amenable to the compassions of God, and amenable to the will of God.
RG-y We often connect this rightly with priesthood. Would you allow that there is some suggestion here also of sonship? There is the thought of compassion that you refer to, but then there is intelligence which would be a feature of sonship. That would begin to develop with us, do you think, as we have to do with these things?
RB That is good. You could open that up further, please. Sonship and priesthood go together in many ways. Sonship underlies priesthood.
RG-y Well, is it not in the line you have been setting before us? God said, “Let my son go, that he may serve me”, Ex 4: 23. And the affections proper to sonship really underlie what is suitable in the way of service to God, do you think?
RB Yes, that is right and good.
RG That is good, because priesthood is for time. It does not go into eternity. Sonship goes into eternity, but we need this priesthood so that we might understand and answer to the will of God. But then, when you come to Chronicles and Ephesians, it is sonship, is it not, as we enter into the blessedness of what is in the holy of holies?
RB I felt that. There is no need of priesthood then, is there? We are beyond the contrary scene in which we need these supports. So it says there is nothing in the ark save the two tables which Moses put there at Horeb. The reference to the staves is a reminder that this ark has been carried, though the staves are now drawn out, but it speaks of a place of rest, final rest. How pleasurable to the heart of God.
RG This is John 17, is not it: “that … they may be with me, that they may behold my glory”, v 24.
RB Very good.
BL The ark is in its place here. It has been in other places; the staves that you refer to would allude to where it has been. It has been carried through the wilderness; it has been in the bed of the Jordan but now it is in its place.
RB Go on, say what that would mean.
BL I think what you say is right. Its finality has been reached. Everything has been carried out and accomplished, and now it is in its place.
RB It is the place that the will of God always had for it, do you think, and that will has been brought through perfectly without any hindrance? As you know, when the ark was in the wilderness it went ahead of the people to search out a resting-place (Num 10: 33), but this is finality. This is the ark in its own place.
JSp-s The will of God has an end in view. We might think of doing God’s will here in time, but there is a glorious end in the will of God, is there not?
RB I think that is right, and that being engaged with the will of God, even when we are here, is a wonderful matter for us and helps us in our pathway. Just to be engaged with the Lord Jesus before the Father for His own sake, without any need, without anything of ourselves intruding. How quickly we bring ourselves in, but just to see where He is for the pleasure of God, the will of God completed in that way.
GCMcK John 17 has just been referred to; “I desire that where I am they also may be with me, that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me, for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world”, v 24. Does that enter into this? It is a glory that is peculiar to Christ as the One that has completely accomplished every thought of God, brought it all about. Is that touched a little here, do you think?
RB That is very fine: I appreciate what you say. I could not add to it but I see that beautifully here.
JSp Do we anticipate finality in the service of God?
RB I felt that. This is not theoretical. We know this ourselves: in privilege we do touch this. We get to a point in the service where, you might say, the staves are drawn out, and there is complacency there which relates to the final condition. I think that is a real experience and a very blessed one. What a stimulus it is to our affections as well and what a spring of worship. You get to this point and we can you do nothing but worship and respond in the light of all that has been accomplished, in the light of what we come on to in Ephesians 1: 2; “according to the good pleasure of His will”, the “mystery of His will”, and then the way that He has taken, the “counsel of his own will”. The way all these things have been brought to pass bows your heart in worship, does it?
JAG The sacrifices “could not be counted nor numbered for multitude”, (2 Chron 5: 6) is the answer to this.
RB Very good; then the glory fills the house. When the priests cannot stand to do their service it is a wonderful culmination of all of that.
PAG I am just wondering: you mention these three aspects of the will of God. What was your impression about them?
RB You could help us about that.
PAG Does it suggest the scope of the will of God? The good pleasure of His will relates to what is beforehand, the mystery of His will relates to the fulness of times, but the counsel of His will relates to the present operations of God; so the will of God, in that sense, we can see from these scriptures, covers everything as to time and as to eternity.
RB So the mystery of His will is a mystery because it has not yet happened. We are awaiting that day, but it is not a mystery to those who, you might say, are initiated into it, and we know what this refers to. We know that all things are to be headed up in the Christ, and as far as we are concerned that has now happened, but it awaits that time to happen in actuality, does not it? As to “the counsel of his own will” - think of that: who did God take counsel with? He took counsel with Himself, and He has worked everything out in accordance with that will: a very blessed matter.
JAG All this is “in the volume of the book”, Ps 40: 7. Well, it is very voluminous, the book.
RB Mr Darby refers to the book of eternal counsels, Synopsis on Hebrews vol 5 p231. What you say is very suggestive.
12th September 2009