THE BASKET SET DOWN BEFORE THE ALTAR

Deuteronomy 25: 17-19; 26: 1-11

WKC  The passage of scripture here is a very beautiful picture of what God intended for Israel and, I suppose, we can all say, a type of what God intends for us.  I was particularly impressed by verse 4 of chapter 26, “And the priest shall take the basket out of thy hand”.  It is a very wonderful thought as to what each of us can bring.  I wondered first when I read this passage if the basket would be collective but I notice more than once in ministry it is spoken about as being an individual basket.  To that extent we can say we are all like baskets, out of which something can be offered.  Moses never really had the privilege of enjoying this experience as we can in what it typifies.  I suppose the fulness of it is linked with all that we are brought into, all the blessings in the “land flowing with milk and honey”.  There is ample provision for every one of us and there is abundance of fruit.  The fruit, of course, would be Christ, the first-fruits, Christ in resurrection, Christ out of death.  You may say every impression that each of us can contain and bring is brought.  It is a wonderful contemplation.  I suppose the occasion we have come from, the breaking of bread, is an occasion where we could gather things up.  Things are gathered up here.  Each of them brought their basket and they brought it down, and they gave it to the priest, and he put it “before” (not ‘on’) “the altar”.

TWL  He brings what is in the basket, and it involves the goodness of God.  It is interesting that there is no blood attached to what is brought to offer.

WKC  It is “before the altar”; it is not ‘on the altar’.  Often throughout these books of Moses, they place offerings on the altar; there is offering in the sacrifice, but this is “before the altar”; but there is no blood involved in it.  Think of it actually as these baskets were brought: it would be a beautiful sight, a great collection.  Mr Darby speaks in the hymn as to

         Varied fruits of richest flavour

              Offers still the Tree divine;

         One itself, the same for ever,

              Every precious fruit is Thine    (Hymn 50).

This chapter is like that.

TWL  He brings it as having taken possession of the land that God has given him.  It is His fruit, and that is one of the things you come to the service of God with, some fruit of what God has placed you in the good of.

JTB  Amalek was the first enemy.  “For the hand is on the throne of Jah; Jehovah will have war with Amalek from generation to generation”, Exod 17: 16.  He speaks about blotting out Amalek, v 14.  I just wondered if, applying it to ourselves, we can blot out Amalek as we enter into the service of God, and bring our offering as producing the fruit of the land. 

WKC  That is why I read the end of that chapter first because the whole thing is cleared out of the way.  When we come to enjoy what we have just enjoyed, the glorious work has been done; there is nothing left to be done.  It was Samuel that “hewed Agag in pieces”, 1 Sam 15: 33.  He was the king of Amalek, was he not?  The whole thing was cleared out of the way so that the people could come into the enjoyment of it.

JTB  1 Corinthians 10: 4 refers to “a spiritual rock which followed them: (now the rock was the Christ;)”, as if, for the very weakest that lagged behind, there was the Rock; we can take refuge in that.  That is what Rephidim gives us, the first battle.  Jehovah fought their battles.  We are really brought to have confidence in God that He will make a way through for us.  “Thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under the heavens” seems to be connecting us with a heavenly side of things which the land connotes.

WKC  I wondered, too, if the fact that Amalek has been dealt with puts our feet on solid rock.  I wondered if there is a sense of a people who have been “taken … into favour in the Beloved” (Eph 1: 6) when we come to our portion with the Father.  We are taken into “waters to swim in”, Ezek 47: 5.  You may say, for a moment, our feet can come off the ground.

JTB  The first reference is that the priest takes the basket; then the man himself sets the basket down; he becomes the basket, and what is in his heart outpours in the service of God. 

WKC  That is open for every one of us.  Think of what is arising at the occasion we have just come from!  It is not just from brothers; it is from every one of us; sisters have impressions that come into their hearts as we sing these hymns.  They have impressions exactly the same as we brothers, do they not?  The whole thing arises as one. 

DWS  It says somewhere else, “all is of thee, and of that which is from thy hand have we given thee”, 1 Chron 29: 14.  There is something of that in this scripture.  It is from “the land that Jehovah thy God giveth thee” that the first-fruits come.  It is what we have been given, in Christ, that we can present, nothing of ourselves. 

WKC These are indigenous to the land; not fruits that they brought from the wilderness.   These would be fruits that were gathered in the land.  You may say the fact that they had the basket was divine excess.  There was plenty for every one to put in his basket. 

DWS  It is what God had prepared in His love for His own people. 

WKC  That is why I thought there might be a link with Ephesians 1, Paul breaking out in his heart there, as to every blessing that God has given.  I thought reading Ephesians 1 would be a bit like “waters to swim in”.  It is hard to know where to stop and start in Ephesians 1.  It is “every spiritual blessing”, v 3.

JDG  It says in verse 2, “thou shalt take of the first of all the fruit of the ground”.  Cain brought of the fruit of the ground (Gen 4: 3), but it was not acceptable.  Does this show the scope that results from the death of Christ?

WKC  In the light of this I thought of that passage, “He shall see of the fruit of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied”, Isa 53: 11.  You may say this is the “satisfied” chapter.  We have now reached the satisfied area.

JDG  It is sanctified persons we have in this section.

DHM  One of the hymns says:

         Out of Thy death has sprung

               A wondrous living throng:

         All, all to Thee belong,

               And in Thee live.      (Hymn 152)

We see that here, do we not?

WKC  It is wonderful fruit!  These references in the chapter go on to the kind of land that it is, “flowing with milk and honey”.  We are meant to be the baskets, and I was thinking of baskets literally.  Maybe the basket would be one of those woven baskets.  I always go back to the thought of what was woven when Mr Meek gave a word many years ago in Kirkcaldy about the warp and the woof.  The warp is the vertical lines, which may suggest God’s principles, God’s ways with us.  He said interwoven into the warp is the woof which is like our experience with God.  Many in this room know what I am talking about in that because it is how God deals with us.  If it was only our experience, there would not be much of a basket.  If it was only these horizontal threads in our lives, the enemy would have an inroad, but if it is interwoven into God’s ways with us, it becomes something very strong.  It is like a piece of material.  It is like something that when the pressure comes; is it the vertical lines that are giving strength or the horizontal lines?  It is the material that is giving us strength.  Thus the fabric of a Christian is very beautiful, and I wondered if that was linked with the basket: a durable object that can contain something.

TWL  What God has made has ability.  It has function but it has ability so that it can bring.  And one other thing: only God could have done that; only God does.

DCB  You mentioned that Moses did not enjoy this.  Thinking of that in its principle, rather than his personal failure, everyone who is in the land is there as attracted into it in following the ark.  That is why they have come there.  Authority, as we see it represented in Moses, is important, and the history of Moses is gone over, but there is something that is entered into entirely on the basis of being drawn in affection, and that is where God gets His answer in the first-fruits.

WKC  There is a hymn that says,

         Our title is that light to share   (Hymn 88).

 Applying this to ourselves, we all have title to it.  We may not enjoy it.  As has been said, a man may have a house and have title to it, but he may not live in it.  Applying this to ourselves, we all have title to it.  I thought about Moses; I almost read the end of Deuteronomy because he was shown the whole land.  He went up the mountain, and God showed the land to him.  There was a touch of divine grace in that.  The whole land was shown him; his feet were never in it, but he had an appreciation of it.

DCB  That is the land inhabited.  It is quite a wonderful picture, if you think of it, that all over that land there were persons travelling to the altar to present what they had gathered up from that year’s produce, one after another, coming together. It is a beautiful picture of what there is as we gather at the Supper and what flows from it.  No doubt individuals would enjoy what was collective when gathered, but each one was coming with their own touch, their own impression, to present.

WKC  It will be eternal, will it not?  I always like Mr Darby’s hymn:

         Every view of Him unfolding

         Wakes fresh bursts of joyful praise!  (Hymn 83)

You may say that is every basket coming, time and time again, but we can enjoy that.  The occasion we have just come from is a tremendous opportunity to enjoy these wonderful things.

GB  I was wondering about Mary.  She had “a pound of ointment of pure nard of great price”, John 12: 3.  Was it something that she had gathered up?

WKC  The effect of that was that the odour filled the house.  I often wonder about that passage in the light of how the Lord comes in amongst us at the Supper.  Often the very atmosphere in the room changes as the Lord comes in.  It says, “the house was filled with the odour of the ointment”.  There is a change when the Lord comes in and fills the room with His atmosphere, and the whole thing moves forward.  It is a very great privilege that we can have this from week to week.

DJH  Every basket would be of different capacity but capacity according to the one who brought it; what had gone into it has been acquired through the knowledge of God and experience.  It is wonderful really to think of it.  That entered into our being together this morning, did it not?  Each one had been formed in different experience, but all contributing in the same way and all in relation to the altar.

WKC  I wonder if it is a good thing as we look around our local company to see the exercises that one and another has had.  It is linked with what we were talking about in the baskets being woven.  We have all come through different exercises.  God has dealt with us in different ways, resulting in what is of Christ being used in the service of God, which will continue eternally.

JDG  Is there a difference between the basket and the “treasure in earthen vessels” 2 Cor 4: 7?

WKC  I do not know.  That is an interesting enquiry.  Could you help me?

JDG  I was thinking of what you have been saying: I wondered if the basket represents something that goes through; it is eternal; so it must be different from the “treasure in earthen vessels”.  It must relate to what is spiritual.  Testimonially, we have a treasure in earthen vessels, but when it comes to the service of God, what is operating is linked to new creation.

WKC  I often think of that passage, “the proving of your faith, much more precious than of gold which perishes”, 1 Pet 1: 7.  There is something that is proven and that comes through.

JDG  It says in Jeremiah that God made “another vessel”, Jer 18: 4.  The first one had been marred, but He made another vessel.  He uses experiences to form us; so there is something that is not related to man after the flesh.  It is “treasure in earthen vessels”.

WKC  I like the passage in Jeremiah about the potter’s wheel.  The forming of the vessels is in the hand of the Potter, the Lord Himself, and all divine resource is in the formation and it is something that is going to shine eternally.  It is durable.

AB  I was just thinking that.  This fruit literally would perish but if we bring anything in our baskets to God, it would never be lost.

WKC  Yes, actually this fruit would perish, but there is something that will never perish in the Christian.  The passage I have just referred to says “much more precious than of gold”.  It is formed by the divine hand.

RCT  I was trying to count up the times “Jehovah thy God” comes into this passage.  It is about twelve times in this section.  Is that source?  What we have, we have been given.

WKC  These are very fine references to “Jehovah thy God”; it is all going Godward.  I was just looking at 1 Chronicles 29, “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer willingly after this manner? for all is of thee, and of that which is from thy hand have we given thee”.  There has been a reference to that in the reading already.  In that chapter, which is somewhat similar to this chapter, David was coming to a point where everything was Godward; he was praising God.  He had had a lot of experience, but everything now was towards God Himself in 1 Chronicles 29.  I suppose in this chapter it is in view that the saints should be enjoying the land and worshipping Him.  Mr Coates said that this is the only chapter in Deuteronomy where worship comes in, vol 5 p317.  It comes in in verse 10, “And thou shalt set it down before Jehovah thy God, and worship before Jehovah thy God”.  It is the only chapter in Deuteronomy where worship comes in; you can understand that because if we are bringing this to Jehovah, as has been said, and it is all Godward, it can only but be worship.  What else can we do?

JTB  I thought that.  When you come to worship, it is the point where the basket becomes the person himself.  There is no mention of a priest in that verse; so you are really brought into a scene where we can do nothing else but adore.  I just wondered about the reference in Ephesians to “being rooted and founded in love”, chap 3: 17.  That is how the produce is produced from the land, do you think?  It takes you back into the realm of divine purpose.

WKC  There is a winding up in this chapter; we come to the point of worship.  How often Paul comes through to a doxology which is worship.  It is often by the sense of mercy as in Romans 11, and other chapters.  He is talking about God’s ways and he breaks out.  This chapter here is different.  This is worship as a result of everything that has been given to God.  I thought it linked with what we can enjoy in the Father’s presence.

JTB  “Filled even to all the fulness of God” (Eph 3: 19) is the product of full baskets, is it not?

DJH  The note ‘a’ refers to this question of the land as ‘the soil’.  I wondered if that would link with what has been said as to the root.  It seems as though something deep has been secured in that way.

WKC  Something that can continue bearing fruit, do you mean?  If we have good roots, there will be something for God continually, do you think?  I do not know if this would just be once, but we have the privilege that we can bring it often, can we not?

DJH  Something fresh week by week, but coming from the same source, through our experience but all with a view to something for “Jehovah thy God”.

WKC  Mr Darby says in his hymn that we referred to earlier:

         Fresh and ever new are yielded     (Hymn 50).

It gives the whole picture of it, does it not?

GB  It says in John when the disciples came together on the second occasion they “were again within” (chap 20: 26), so that there was a complete company at that second time.  The expression conveys quite a bit, does it not, the way of life?

WKC  Do you mean the enjoyment of it collectively?  I suppose, as we assemble together, we can have that experience.  We “are again within” each week.  That is a fine thought.

RCT  It is why we have to remember, “A perishing Aramaean was my father” and all that line.  Is there really a line of things that we have to leave behind, but it is to be productive?

WKC  I do not know.  I wondered about this and, of course, we are in the right company for enquiry.  It really is a good thing to remember where we came from.  We were “aliens … and strangers”, Eph 2: 12.  I thought about Ephesians in this regard.  In chapter 1 Paul is breaking out completely, and in the first ten verses of chapter 2; then he comes to a point in chapter 2 where he says, “Wherefore remember”, v 11.  You may say the brakes go on for a moment: “Wherefore remember”.  He goes on to say that we were “without God in the world” (v 12); we had no hope; we were far from God.  I do not know if that links with this.  I do not know if that is a right passage to bring in. What do others think?

TWL  It is not so much to bring in our failure but the God who brought us in.  I was thinking about this in relation to the idea of what we have been saying about worship.  It is the glory of the God who did it that brings forth the worship.  It is not so much what was done but who did it, and the most remarkable thing is he brings the basket, and the word says, “Jehovah thy God will choose to cause his name to dwell there”.  This is the God whom the heavens cannot contain, and yet He causes His Name to dwell there.  It is that God who moved that way that causes worship and praise.  That is why you bring it because you have come to know that God.

WKC  Do you think that is what led Paul frequently in the New Testament to these doxologies?  It all runs on to that.  In that doxology I have referred to in Romans 11, he comes to the point where he says, “For who has known the mind of the Lord …?”, v 34.  The thing was too great to contain it.

TWL  You made reference to Ephesians.  It is a remarkable that Paul brings them there to understand that they do not have right to any of this, and yet God gives us it all.  The first two chapters of Ephesians are God’s movements for God’s sake in relation to the persons of His purpose; that God loved me enough to bring me in.

WKC  He has given us title to sonship.  Galatians is a really testing book at times, but there is one passage where he says, “because ye are sons, God has sent out the Spirit of his Son into our hearts”, chap 4: 6.  What he is saying is that whatever other problems you have, you have title to it and that is a glorious thing.  Every one of us here has title to it.

TWL  Because God gave it to us.

JDG  Was Jacob the “perishing Aramaean” when he thought he had lost all? - “Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin!” (Gen 42: 36) - until he got a sight of what God had in mind when he made his journey and went down into Egypt.  He left the “perishing Aramaean” as coming from the God who said, “I am God, the God of thy father” (Gen 46: 3), alluding to Christ in resurrection and glory.

WKC  Jacob was a wonderful, interesting type in the Old Testament.  I like reading about Jacob because I find so many of the problems he had in myself; yet he comes through to some glorious things.  God deals with him and God works with him and he comes to wonderful points in his history.

DHM  I was thinking in line with what you were bringing out there that they would never forget Egypt and what had happened, but they were not occupied with it.  They were occupied with the Deliverer, and not exactly what they had been delivered from, but what they had been delivered to.

WKC  And yet, as you read through this book, and you come to the end of it, and then go on to Joshua, you find that Joshua starts off with quite an urgency to get them over.  Just to use everyday words, you can talk about the thing long enough; you need to get into it.  That was Joshua.  Joshua wanted to get them over there.  He wanted to get them in it, and I suppose that is what we want for every one of us.  There is so much that we speak about often, that we speak about in the sense that they are not there, but there are some wonderful things that are there, positive things.

AB  It is what God wants us to enjoy as well.  God has spoken about this from Exodus.  He described it as “a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exod 3: 8), but then we are to enjoy it.  God would look forward to His own enjoyment, would He not?

WKC  God’s “inheritance in the saints”, Eph 1: 18.  You may say it is all in Christ, but, as you say, when the land is spoken of once or twice, it goes back over the whole history of who it had been promised to.  To Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, because God’s promises stand, and God is never going to let us down.    I suppose the Jews will come into it, but it is written for our enjoyment now.  How much of Deuteronomy is that.

DCB  The history here is the history of God’s operations with the people.  There is no reference to their numerous failures.  God has brought them through from the beginning.  Is it helpful to have in our view too how God has acted in all these different pressures?  He has operated that there should be persons brought into the enjoyment of His land.

WKC  If you go back to the very first verses of Deuteronomy, it is spoken of as an eleven days’ journey (v 2), right at the very beginning, as if God says, ‘There is where you can go’.  And we are now in chapter 26, and there had been a lot of history, and there has been a lot of history with us, but God’s promises stand true.  He is never, ever going to let us down.  God is faithful.  How faithful He has been with every one of us!

DCB  The basket is formed in the wilderness; what is within us is the product of the land. 

WKC  You mean the basket refers to each of us in all our experiences; I have never quite thought of that.  God works and, as we are amenable to God, there is something that is formed.  It is durable; it is like what we were saying; the vessel is the work of God.  The vessel in Jeremiah was just a lump of clay, but God’s hand was on it and then it would go through the firing as these things do.  And there might be paint, some form of varnish, and it shines, has its own lustre.  What has been formed in the saints will shine eternally, but it is a vessel that can contain something, and we have the ability to contain something.  No matter how young or old we are, it is a question of what we can contain because we all have different capacities.

SCL  I was quite struck with the beginning of verse 5; after the basket is brought before the priest, it says, “And thou shalt speak and say before Jehovah thy God”.  One might ask why we would have the morning meeting every single week when we do the same thing?  But God wants to hear from each one of us our impressions and thoughts.  We read later on what they were to say from their own experiences, their own knowledge of God.  It is not a simple case of standing up and reciting the right scriptures when we give praise and give thanks to God.  It is what we as persons have come to know and understand and have gathered up of God ourselves.

WKC  It would also link with having liberty before God Himself.  It is really sonship; it is enjoyment of sonship.  You can have free intercourse with God Himself, but is that the result of divine formation, something of Christ?  It is Christ raised and that is what the first-fruits are, Christ in resurrection.  All our enjoyment is the result of that.

JTB  Where is the altar in the land?  I do not think there are any specifications given for an altar in the land until we come to the temple, but it seems to me it links with your reference to Ephesians 1, “in whom we have redemption through his blood”, and it draws your attention centrally to Christ Himself as really the great Operator in the great system, the scene of bliss, in which the Father’s affections are known.

WKC  That is good, but I ask the question: would it be the same altar as the altar that the blood was put on?

JTB  I think it is left that it is a reference to the Person.  The idea is to draw attention to the Person, is that right?  Therefore you have in Ephesians chapter 1 “we have redemption through his blood”.  It is the Person; that is the point.

WKC  “Into favour”.

RCT  In recovery days they began with the altar.

JTB  That is right.  “They set the altar on its base”, Ezra 3: 3. The Person becomes the focal point and, therefore, the reference to the inheritance, which was mentioned before.  Everything has been secured on that basis.  We have the “perishing Aramaean”, or as note ‘b’ says, ‘A Syrian in danger of perishing’ - where would we be without redemption?  It all comes back to that blessed Person who has secured everything, brought back everything for God.

WKC  Does it bring out God’s mercy towards us?

TWL  Is it determined by, “Jehovah thy God will choose to cause his name to dwell there”?  I was thinking in relation to all of this what we have is a land to take possession of.  It is in the same land where God rests.  They never owned the land; they could not sell it; they could not rent it or do any of those things; but they could possess it.  It belongs to God, but we are allowed to possess it.  It is the place where God rests; it is the place where we offer.   It is, “Jehovah thy God will choose to cause his name to dwell there” in relation to the question about the altar.  It is the Person that is involved in that choosing.  Would that be right?

WKC  If we only had the Scriptures like this, and did not have the New Testament and Paul’s writings, we would not fully be able to understand this.  When you go through all that Paul writes in these chapters in Colossians and Ephesians and Philippians and other books, you can see how Paul is bringing you into a whole area where God is dwelling.

TWL  It helps that we would not forget what was historical, and that is right, but the soul of a Christian would take a firm account of what God has made it; if you do you realise how fit you are for this land.  That is not being presumptuous; it is a statement of fact that God has made you fit for this land.  You do not go in and possess it as being an alien; you are going to go in and possess it as belonging there because God made you fit for that place.

WKC  Sometimes it is a good thing to look back on our lives and look back on how God has been faithful with us.  Mr Darby’s hymn says:

         In the desert God will teach thee

         What the God that thou hast found  (Hymn 76).

You may say there was experience before this.  They came to the point here where Amalek is dealt with, that terrible foe cleared out of the way.  Christ has wrought everything for us, so that we can go in.  As we go into the Father’s presence on Lord’s day morning we may remember all the glorious work that Christ has wrought, but very quickly we are taken to the enjoyment of sonship.  We get to a point where we can just enjoy where we are, just enjoy everything that has been wrought.  Would that be right?

TWL  Absolutely.  When we say that we touch eternity at the Supper, in the service of God, when we say we touch what is eternal, that does not exactly occupy us with things that happened in time; it occupies us with things that were according to the purpose of God before time ever existed, and our place there.  That is a wonderful thing.  He did that and operated through Christ.  He operates on the ground of redemption, but the purpose of God is not limited by the failures of time.  When you are touching what is there in the service of God, you are touching what God had in purpose before time.  Would that be right?

DCB  I wondered whether this chapter, while it is a wonderful type that you have been using, also shows us, therefore, the limitations.  We are in the dispensation where we can actually leave the history behind when responding in the service of God.

WKC  There was still history to go through here; they were still on the way.  This was a wonderful forward look, God giving them a taste for it, but we can come into the fulness of it.  Was there not an old man who said he could go in at any time?  We can enjoy it at any time.  We definitely enjoyed it today, but we can enjoy it tomorrow.

DWS  I was reflecting on the fact that the land had not changed from the time the spies were sent to look it out.  I think they all said the same thing of the land: “it floweth with milk and honey” (Num 13: 27), and it is still the same, but the people had changed, and are now ready to go in.

WKC  Joshua and Caleb came back and said, it is “a very, very good land”, Num 14: 7.  From that experience, they knew it was a very good land, “a land flowing with milk and honey”.  We often talk about that, but it must have been a tremendously fertile and beautiful land.  Milk is nourishment, and honey is the activity of the bees; these two things cannot be there on their own.  If there is milk, there have to be other things; there has to be grass and everything else; and for honey there has to be flowers and everything else.  There has to be a whole area of goodness, and God has brought us into that. 

DWS  It makes you think of the greatness of the work that God has done that there should be this supply for His people, this supply that is there for us to enjoy.

TWL  Milk and honey would suggest life sustained by life.  There is no death attached to them.  Death attached to an offering in meat, but milk and honey is life sustained by life; that is the land.

Edinburgh

31st January 2016

 

Key To Initials

(Edinburgh unless shown): -

G Bailey; A Brown, Grangemouth; D C Brown; J T Brown; A Buchan, Kirkcaldy; W K Clark, Kirkcaldy; J D Gray; D J Hutson; S C Lock; T W Lock; D H Marshall;D W Scougal; R C Trotter