FEATURES OF CHRIST UNFOLDED

Walter M Patterson

Hebrews 11: 4-7; 3: 5, 6

         We were occupied a little in the earlier occasion with matters that related to ourselves as believers.  We considered how we might be divinely helped to be here more in relation to the pathway of the will of God, to know what it is to serve God intelligently, whether in our Christian walk here; or in relation to what enters into His service; or intelligently as we are with one another in our local companies, working out the truth in love.  But with all these things, what God has in mind is that our attention should be drawn to the Lord Jesus, the Lord Jesus Christ.  He is the Man of God’s purpose; He is the Beginning, the moral Beginning of everything that is for God.  And so if we are to think about what is morally suitable to God, we must begin with Him; we must begin with Christ.  I would like to use these passages of Scripture to show how God begins the unfolding of moral features and traits in the Scriptures.  In every case He begins with the Man of His purpose; He begins with Christ.  He must begin with the Man that He ever intended to bring in, for in the bringing in of Adam, a figure of the One who was to come, God intended that Adam, would set out headship as a type of the Lord Jesus Christ.

         What led me to these scriptures was our local reading last Lord’s day in which we spoke about how these great personages at the beginning of Genesis bring out and reflect the wonderful moral glories of the Lord Jesus.  God would draw our attention to them that we might be affected by them, not exactly impressed in our minds only, as we might be, but affected by all that has come out in perfection in Jesus.  Locally we are reading in Genesis and we had noted the way in which the features of the Lord Jesus that are to become known to us and appreciated by us as believers are brought into relief, into illustration in persons.  So I believe the early part of Genesis presents types that speak of the Lord Jesus to us. 

         We begin with the securing of order out of chaos, that which was to be fruitful and for the pleasure of God brought out of a chaotic sphere.  Well, that speaks to us of the work of the Lord Jesus, all that He has effectuated in His death and what He has secured for God.  There is a type of the Lord Jesus, too, in “the great light” (Gen 1: 16), the thought of a great controlling influence there in the heavens.  There is a type of the Lord Jesus seen in the tree of life, and another in the river that goes out of Eden.  So we come to these personages that are given to us, the ones that I want to speak of, Abel and Enoch and Noah and Moses.  When we come to these personages, we have what marks them substantially, not only that they present a type that leads us to the Lord Jesus, but there was a moral substantiality in these persons that brings the Lord Jesus before us, and I would seek the Lord’s help to speak of that. 

         So we have this man, Abel; what does it say of him?  That he was “righteous”. What a wonderful thing that there was a Man here in this scene who was the righteous One, “Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2: 1), One who was here.  You may know He came in to do the will of God, but He “loved righteousness and … hated lawlessness”, Heb 1: 9.  How had lawlessness come in?   Man had sinned, and the Fall had come in, and the result is that God speaks to Satan, to the serpent, and He says, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; he shall crush thy head, and thou shalt crush his heel”, Gen 3: 15. 

         Now, the first man to be born, Cain, is brought in.  Which of these lines was he on?  Was it the seed of Satan, or the seed of the woman?  Scripture tells us that “Cain was of the wicked one” (1 John 3: 12); that is, that lawlessness had an entrance in Cain.  In the midst of this, man becoming lawless, there is one, Abel, who comes in of the seed of the woman, on that line.  What is he going to display?  Righteousness!  You might say, in every feature of Abel’s life there was righteousness.  What did it lead to?  Suffering!  Dear young believer, it would cause us to think about the Lord Jesus because that is who I want to speak of.  We know that these personages have their application to ourselves in our faith, so that we might be built up and strengthened and we might see in them some model for us.  And, of course, if they speak of the Lord Jesus, they must be models because He is the great Model in everything. 

         There was One here who was righteous and He suffered for righteousness’ sake.  He was prepared to do that, to be here in the midst of a world that was entirely lawless and away from God, to represent holiness, to love righteousness, to be here to carry out the will of God, which He did in blessed perfection, to be committed to the will of Another, and to secure the righteousness of God through His sacrificial work on the cross, to suffer for sins and to bear the wrath and judgment of God in relation to sin.  What a wonderful work He has accomplished!  Indeed, what a glorious Saviour He is! 

         So we would say that Christ, morally, was there in Abel, and it speaks of the seed of the woman.  “Seed” has in mind that there is to be a continuation.  This line, this moral feature that was seen in this man, Abel, is to be continued, continued in faithful men, men of God, all down through the dispensations.  And so God is going to unfold one after the other, and something of these features is going to come out in them.  It is a feature that we are to learn to love.  Jesus “loved righteousness”.  Do I love it?  Have I learned to know what that is, to love righteousness?  But I see it in Him; I think that is just the simple thought.  I want you, dear young persons, to have this impression, not exactly about these individuals, but about these glorious features in Jesus.  We often use that expression, ‘the glories of the Lord Jesus’.  We speak about how wonderful they are as we speak to Him in praise and thanksgiving, but have you ever taken the time to reflect on them, to value them in your mind?  So we have to value this, that He was the righteous One and He suffered for righteousness’ sake.  He was here as the suffering One in His pathway.  What was the outcome?  For Abel it was death, and it was death for Jesus, the One who displayed such divine righteousness.  Man would not have that line; they refused it, and they refused it in putting Him to death. 

         You ask if that is the end of the matter.  This righteous Man, His life taken from the earth, is that the end of it?’.  As we proceed in Genesis, we find at the end of chapter 4 another son, Seth: “And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son, and called his name Seth: … For God has appointed me another seed instead of Abel”, v 25.  Is that not wonderful?  Think of the divine consideration that such a One, the righteous One, should be wholly vindicated, and that God should bring Him out of death and establish Him, bring Him into a whole established order of things where everything is to be centred in Himself!  So that seed continues in believers, and it is going to continue to the end; the Holy Spirit is here to help us to be on the line set out for us in this man Abel.

         And then the writer to the Hebrews speaks to us of this other substantial figure of the Lord Jesus, Enoch, a man in whom God had pleasure.  Think of this, that in the midst of that lawless scene that we have spoken about, there was a man who walked for these three hundred years in the company of God, and it says. “he had pleased God”.  How like the Lord Jesus, here as a blessed Man, wholly committed to the will of God, displaying that in His ministry and in manifesting divine affection towards men.  But this is a period in the life of the Lord Jesus of which not much is spoken in Scripture, these hidden years, these thirty years, from His incoming until the acknowledgement by God at the waters of baptism, “This is my beloved Son” (Matt 3: 17), and in another gospel, “Thou art my beloved Son”, Mark 1: 11.  Think of the divine interest and affections expressed in that way, and expressed in relation to this One, “Jesus himself … beginning to be about thirty years old”, Luke 3: 23.  It shows us that there was a life in which God delighted, a life of communion, a life of prayer, a life in which “morning by morning” His ear was opened “to hear as the instructed”, Isa 50: 4.  There is a further wonderful type in this book of Genesis.  When Abraham and Isaac were going to the place of sacrifice, it says, “and they went both of them together”, chap 22: 6.  The Father and the Son went on together, the Father finding such delight in the holy perfection and manhood of Jesus. 

         What does it mean to you, dear young friend?  Is it something that has attraction for you?  Not according to this world or the things of this world, not according to man’s measure of things because Enoch does not appear in man’s register; it says, “he was not”, Gen 5: 24.  In that sense he does not enter into public history, and yet that is what we are very conscious of in the life that we live.  We are conscious of things that are in the public history, persons who are in the public domain, brought before the eyes of men, but there is a Man here who lived in the light and joy of His Father’s love and His Father’s communion, and it came to that point where He would enter into His short period of ministry for men, but before that He is hidden, and what does God say?  ‘I must have that for myself’.  God took Him.  He looked at this poor world with all its lawlessness, all its corruption and He found in it a Man for His pleasure and delight, and He says, ‘I must have that for Myself.  I must have that in heaven’. 

         So the Lord Jesus knew in John 13 that He was going to the Father; it is not exactly a matter of His ascension there, but He is going to the Father: “he came out from God and was going to God”, v 3.  God looked for that order of Man.  That is what it points to, an order of Man, entirely different from what is in the world, but entirely pleasing to God.  Has it become attractive to you?  You say you understand how the Lord Jesus is presented in the Gospels, and His wonderful ministry of love and grace.  You can feed on that; you can feed on the expression of the mind of God and the life of God in the Gospels.  But have you ever taken time to think about this wonderful, glorious Lord Jesus, His thirty years of hidden life in which He was wholly committed to the things of His Father, and which afforded delight to His own heart?  The Psalmist says prophetically:

         Jehovah is the portion of mine inheritance

               and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot. 

         The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places;

               yea, I have a goodly heritage.

         I will bless Jehovah who giveth me counsel;

                even in the nights my reins instruct me,

                       Ps16: 5-7. 

There was a Man, a dependent, praying Man, here for the pleasure of God, and God must have that for Himself!  So He says, “and I, if I be lifted up out of the earth, will draw all to me”, John 12: 32.  He is going to go out of this world and, as being lifted up, He is drawing all to Himself.  Are you drawn to Him?  Do you find these wonderful, moral features in Jesus?  I trust it would draw out your interest and affections in relation to Him.  I trust that will be the result of the word spoken.

         There is another thing said about Enoch; we are told that he was “the seventh from Adam”, Jude v 14.  I think it points to how he was drawing on experience.  We spoke in the reading about progress and experience.  Enoch is able to draw on that, so that he rightly understands what is suitable to God and is able to maintain what is due to God in this scene.  We should note that where we read in Genesis 4 there was another Enoch; Cain’s son was called Enoch: the world is like that.  I spoke about the personages in the world, and the world would say to you, ‘We have an Enoch too.  We have better intelligence, men of science, workers in brass and iron and music.  We have these intelligent and cultured persons that must be listened to’.  In the gospel, God is calling your attention today, this afternoon, to His glorious Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the perfection that marked Him as truly here for the pleasure of God.

         Noah is interesting.  He was “a preacher of righteousness”, as we are told elsewhere (2 Pet 2: 5), and Noah goes through the whole matter of judgment.  You can see how he expressed these wonderful, moral features of the Lord Jesus here as preaching the kingdom of God.  Mark’s gospel brings that in, Jesus presented as immediately “preaching the glad tidings of the kingdom of God”, chap 1: 14.  You might say it was an urgent matter for Mark.  Think of a blessed Man here, appealing to men, who was here for men, here to serve them, and He brings before them “the glad tidings of the kingdom of God”. 

         And we have too, in this type of Noah, the thought of going through, carrying everything through the judgment.  Well, Jesus has done that, but what I want to draw your attention to, dear hearer, is what Noah’s name means, and we are told that in Genesis 5: 28 and 29.  It says, “And Lemech lived a hundred and eighty-two years, and begot a son.  And he called his name Noah, saying, This one shall comfort us concerning our work and concerning the toil of our hands, because of the ground which Jehovah has cursed”.  So Noah’s name suggests ‘comfort’.  And I want you to think about the Lord Jesus in that way.  You agree that He is wonderful, and as you have come to know Him as my Saviour, He has become a Comforter to you, and He is.  We have spoken in prayer about the pressures and sorrows in the souls of the saints, and the Lord Jesus is surely that, surely a Comforter for every heart.  But, actually, He is the Man that has brought in comfort for God.  He brought in all that was for the rest of God, the comfort and rest of God.  How has He done that?  He has done it through His work, His sacrificial work on Calvary, His going in to death, His coming out of it, a risen, glorified Man, and His ascending into heaven and establishing a new world, a new order of things, for the will and pleasure of God and, in doing that, He has established what is for the rest of God, and God intends that we might enter into it.  He presents that for us that we might find our rest, our own rest, in that blessed Man.  But firstly it is for God.  Someone might say, ‘How momentous!’  Where we read initially in Genesis 3 we have disruption; a whole disruption had come into the world.  A dislocation, a fracture, had entered into the world, and brought in distance between men and God, but in Christ we have a blessed Man who is able to bring in peace and is able to establish in Himself, as a risen Man, His work accomplished, all that is going to be eternally for the pleasure of God and for the joy of His own heart.  I just want you to have a sense of how momentous that is.  In order that it might be resolved, the whole weight of that fracture or that dislocation, rested on one Man, rested on the holy, perfect, righteous One, and He has accomplished that work.  I wonder if you view a risen Christ in that light.  He has accomplished everything for God.  You may say that you have your salvation; thanks be to God for that!  But do you see that the whole solution, God’s solution, to that dislocation is there established in Christ?  There is a new order of things in an ascended and glorified Christ, the order of man that was pleasurable to Him here.  He now has it in risen life in His presence, and that Man lives there and He lives to God.  You can see how the rest of God is secured, secured there in Him, and our affections, our interests, are to be drawn to Him there to see all that is connected with Him, all that is connected for our blessing, but all that is there for God Himself.  God is going to have a universe that is centred and founded on the Lord Jesus Christ. 

         What Lemech said is quite interesting, is it not?  He said, “This one shall comfort us concerning our work and concerning the toil of our hands”.  So there was a world full of toil and trouble and sin and lawlessness, and there was one who came in in Noah, who brought comfort, and in whom, Lemech prophetically says, ‘There will be comfort and rest’.  When God has that, you then see that that world must go.  That world in which there was "our work” and “the toil of our hands” must go.  And God removes it through the deluge.  He has Noah in whom He could have a confidence and delight and who is “a preacher of righteousness”, and He brings in the mind of God, working with God, and God says, ‘I have that, and the world can go.  I can dispense with it.  I can bring in a new world’.

         And so we have the new world after the deluge, but I want to draw your attention to the fact that that was not enough.  It was not enough only that there should be a cleansed earth, all that had marked it removed, but God looked for the burnt-offering, chap 8: 20, 21.  There has to be what is sacrificial.  I ought to have spoken of it in relation to Abel because what Abel represents is that thought, the thought of a sacrifice that is suitable to God, and the Lord Jesus was that.  He knew what the righteousness of God required and He was that, became that precious Sacrifice.  And so the burnt-offering had an odour, and we know that from Leviticus.  That is the first offering, a voluntary offering, and it brings us into acceptance before God.  There it is, “to Jehovah of a sweet odour”, Lev 1: 9. So we need these two things.  We need the understanding of all that there was for God in that death, the death of Christ, as God appreciates Him. 

         I want to speak about this last matter as to Moses.  You might say, you are jumping over a few examples.  You are jumping over Abraham, one who is a type of Christ in his separation from the world, and becoming the one to whom all the counsels of God were revealed.  He becomes a repository really of that, the counsels of God.  And Isaac is a type of a risen Christ.  And Joseph, Christ rejected by His brethren but glorified among the Gentiles. 

         But there are many things we could say about Moses.  I suppose in one sense we could have occupied the time by speaking about Moses and the way that the Spirit of Christ came out in him, the meekest man on all the earth (Num 12: 3), one who shines as a mediator.  What a wonderful type of Jesus he is in that!  He put himself between God and the people as a mediator.  But he was “faithful”.  So where do we find that?  Where was Moses “faithful in all his house”?  Well, he was faithful when he came down from the mountain and came into the camp and found that there was idolatry there, Exod 32: 15-35.  You might have said to Moses that this was a people that he was going to carry in your bosom through the wilderness.  He was going to nurse them.  He was going to love them.  There is no doubt that Moses loved the people.  It says in Deuteronomy about Jehovah that “he loveth the peoples” (Deut 33: 3), but Moses did too.  You might have asked Moses what he was going to do if he loved these people?  Moses was faithful to God.  What was the motive behind that?  It was that he had been with God on the mountain.  He had come from the presence of God.  He had a glimpse of what was suitable to God, and so he comes down and he was faithful to that, faithful to what he found in the presence of God.  So that is what the writer to the Epistle to Hebrews draws our attention to, that he was “faithful”.  “And Moses indeed was faithful in all his house, as a ministering servant”, that is the house of Israel, the tribe of Israel.  Moses was faithful to God in that matter.

         The Lord Jesus is presented to us then as “Son over his house”; so we can think of the Lord Jesus in that way as “Faithful and True”, Rev 19: 11.  He is faithful and true to all that is of God and all that is according to the truth.  He remains faithful.  So I just speak simply among the brethren; the Lord Jesus is not changing His mind.  He is not changing direction; He maintains all that is according to the truth as Son over God’s house.  We are given a presentation of the Lord Jesus in His function in relation to the whole matter of the house of God, all that is to be for God’s glory and His pleasure in His people here; because the apostle says, “whose house are we”.  It is a reference to those of the assembly, “whose house are we”, and the Lord Jesus is faithful in relation to His assembly.  He presents Himself in that way, as we know, in the addresses to the churches in Revelation. 

         I would just like to close with that because I think that is the thought: He is faithful over all God’s house.  So in Revelation chapters 2 and 3 we see it coming out.  We see it coming out in the Lord Jesus making Himself known: “he that holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lamps”, Rev 2: 1.  In the earlier part of Revelation he appears to John with “his feet like fine brass” (chap 1: 15), suggesting judgment.  I just have a simple impression, that there it is, the writer to the Hebrews draws attention to this feature in Moses in the Old Testament, Heb 3: 2.  He might have said many things about him.  As I say, how wonderful a type he is, a man who continues spiritually right to the end, a man who writes a fifth book, Deuteronomy, that is full of energy and life and vitality and spirituality.  But this epistle draws attention to this feature that is necessary for the present time, that he was faithful in God’s house. And he says that Jesus was faithful as Son over God’s house.  You might say, He is looking at things.  So in these addresses to the assemblies, the Lord Jesus looks at things, and He says, “I know”.  He is the One who knows; so where the word of adjuration was required, He brings it in, and to Philadelphia He can provide the word of comfort, “I also will keep thee out of the hour of trial … I come quickly: hold fast what thou hast, that no one take thy crown”, Rev 3: 10, 11.  I think the Lord would give that word to us all today that we might “hold fast” what we have, for His Name’s sake.   

Grimsby

10th October 2015