Revelation 1: 8-11; 22: 16-21
Both the hymn and the prayer were an encouragement in relation to my exercise and brought to mind in the Lord’s word as to Himself, “I am the Alpha and the Omega”; these are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. When the Lord says it of Himself it has some outstanding significance. The Alpha, I suggest, represents what was set out in Christ when He came in, the beginning. The freshness and beauty of God’s thoughts in purpose really came into relief when the Lord Jesus appeared in this scene and took up His place in flesh and blood conditions. It was all there. God’s thoughts were vested in that One; they were perfect in every way. But then we have the Omega. We may say this simply means ’the end’, but it means much more than that. What it suggests to me is this that we have all that the Alpha speaks of, God’s purpose set out in its glory and fulness in Christ, but also God’s ways, that is the way that God has brought glory to Himself by filling out and carrying out every single word of what He says through the prophets, through the Lord Himself, through the apostles, “I am the Alpha and the Omega”. The fact that the Lord Jesus is in heaven and is seated at the Father’s right hand is proof that everything that God has set on in purpose is and will be fulfilled without any detail missing. No one will speak after Him: no one has anything to add after our Lord Jesus. ’Now’, you say, ’that is very fine’, and it is fine, but where do we see it today?
I read at the end of this remarkable book because I think it is a present word to us. I was thinking of this section, “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify these things to you in the assemblies”. Where we read at the beginning we had seven assemblies named. They are not named here: it is “to you in the assemblies”. What is looked at here is the saints, persons who are of that character, and it is a question that has been in my own mind, ’Am I of the assembly?’. You may say, ’I have broken bread for all these years and there have been many exercises’, but it is not like a badge or a qualification: “to you in the assemblies” is to persons who know and love Christ and understand the feelings of His heart. Now this has pressed on me a little because the idea of the assembly itself is not set out distinctively, as in Ephesus or Pergamos or whatever, as at the beginning of Revelation. It is “to you in the assemblies” that is, where saints are found formed after the assembly and have the truth of the assembly; those are they to whom the Lord is speaking.
So it says here, “I am the root and offspring of David, the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come”. I just want to dwell on this a little because we have been brought into liberty. Not many here will remember it now, but I remember when I was young when the thought of addressing the Spirit was first raised among the brethren; it caused much soul searching and exercise. But it is an essential part of the testimony, that the Holy Spirit should be given His place in worship, not exactly prominently - the Lord is the Centre of things - and also that but He should be brought more fully into the consciousness and affections of the brethren as a power and known as a Person. I think the fact that it is John who says, “I beheld the Spirit descending as a dove” (John 1: 32), would impress on our minds and hearts the thought that this is a divine Person, not an influence only: this is a Person who has the rights of a divine Person and the power of a divine Person, and is worthy of our worship. Now, it is that Person who says, “Come”, but He is not saying it alone; “the Spirit and the bride say, Come”. ’Well’, you say, ’that is fine, we know all this’, and that may well be so; I trust it is. But what flows out of this? “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that hears say, Come. And let him that is athirst come; he that will, let him take the water of life freely”. What that suggests to me is that the truth of the assembly, and the truth and maintenance of the gospel, are inextricably bound up. We have had much entrusted to us in the way of assembly truth, assembly light. Do not forget the gospel. Let us pursue the gospel in these difficult, dark days. Certainly evangelical work is of God, but do not forget the assembly either. They stand together. Now, I want to be wise in what I say but I have the impression that the truth of Christ and the assembly is under attack. This matter of marriage is much before us - the Lord grant us wisdom here - but when Paul spoke of marriage he said, “but I speak as to Christ, and as to the assembly”, Eph 5: 32. And the representation of that in marriage in households set up according to God is an essential part of the constitution of the assembly and the present testimony, as it always was indeed. We cannot have the idea - and it is so insidious and so subtle - we cannot have the idea that belongs in Christendom that we will water things down, not much, just a little: this stands, “I speak as to Christ, and as to the assembly”. Now, Paul linked that directly with the illustration of husband and wife. The households of the saints are an essential and indestructible part of what constitutes assembly life and assembly walk. The Lord is speaking here, and the scripture speaks earlier of “they that wash their robes, that they may have right to the tree of life, and that they should go in by the gates into the city. Without are the other persons, dogs, fornicators”, and so on. Along with this, there goes the necessity not to have indistinct or blurred ideas of what constitutes the assembly and assembly life. There are things that are within and, according to God, marriage in the Lord is one of these things. There are things that are without and are not of God, and they are better left. In fact, it is essential that they should be left, “... every one that loves and makes a lie”. In the presence of that the Lord speaks, and says, “I”: “I, Jesus”. The Lord has not given up one thing; He has not relinquished His rights. I speak with great reverence. He has not grown weary of the truth nor of the dispensation, which is in grace. It says in the type, “he bore them and carried them all the days of old”, Isa 63: 9. What a Saviour! What a high Priest we have! What a One who loves us and has secured us at such cost! And He tells us things to cheer us on our way, “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify these things to you in the assemblies. I am the root and offspring of David, the bright and morning star”. We would be helped as we look to Him. You may say, ’We address the Saviour as the Lord Jesus, we remember Him in the breaking of bread’. That is good, but special times require special committal, and I think, brethren, we are in a special time, that is as the enemy sees the end - and I speak carefully - the enemy is not foolish. He knows what is coming perfectly well, he knows the Scriptures, he sees things heading up, and what is he doing? He will spoil what is for Christ at any price. It lies with us to go back to Philadelphia, “hold fast what thou hast”, Rev 3: 11. You say again, ’We have heard that from the beginning’. Yes, and I believe that the Lord would say that to us with more and more clarity. “He that has an ear, let him hear”: let your ear be attuned, let mine be. “I am … the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come.”
I trust what is said will be of profit. The Lord loves the assembly; He is jealous of it; He cares for it. Let us not in any sense tarnish what belongs to Christ and the assembly.
May it be so for His Name’s sake.
4th March 2014