Luke 2: 27-35
John 21: 20-23
Revelation 3: 8-11
It is just a simple word that came to me as our brother spoke earlier today about this scripture in Luke, beloved brethren, where as to Simeon it says that “he received him into his arms”. Scripture does not record that he ever let Him go. It never records, as far as I know, that he gave the Child back. Now we know of course as a matter of fact that he must have done because of subsequent history, but Scripture is very careful, especially Luke who writes with method and accuracy. He speaks about that. It just struck me, beloved brethren, what an important thing it is that, if in some way you have received such an impression of Christ, and I would think that everyone here has received an impression of Christ, it is a vital thing that you never let it go. Simeon was not an official priest; it speaks of him as “a man in Jerusalem”. It is almost as if the official priest never came into sight at all because Simeon, who is “a man in Jerusalem”, is there and it gives his qualifications, the fact that “he came in the Spirit”, and that he was “just and pious, .... and the Holy Spirit was upon him”. This man was in that condition as he came into the temple here. It is as if he supersedes the whole official system here, and he receives "the child Jesus" in his arms, and Scripture does not record that he let him go. My simple impression, beloved brethren, and it may seem very simple, is that.
There were others in Scripture who received a divinely given impression in their day that remained with them through the whole of their life. Moses was a man who, after dwelling behind the wilderness for forty years, where he looked after his father-in-law’s sheep, received an impression as God appeared to him in the desert at the bush that was on fire and was not consumed. He turns aside to see it, and God spoke to him out of the bush, “loose thy sandals from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground”, Ex 3: 5. The impression that remained with Moses all his life was a sense of the divine committal to the people. He never forgot it. And you may remember that when the people had sinned so grievously by building the golden calf and Jehovah’s anger was burning against them, that Moses intercedes with God. Such was his impression that he had received at the bush, that God was in the midst of His people and He was not consuming them, that he stands before God there in the breach that their sin had created. The psalmist very beautifully says, speaking of Jehovah, “And he said that he would destroy them, had not Moses, his chosen, stood before him in the breach”, Ps 106: 23. He says, “blot me ... out”, Ex 32: 32; the impression that he received at the beginning of his active spiritual life remained with him.
What was your impression, beloved? I believe that everyone here when they first had an impression of Christ had something that is distinctive to them. Every one has something that is a little different, it may be very different, but at least a little different from every other believer so that the glories of Christ are magnified everywhere. Here is Simeon and, as I say, he received the Child in his arms, and it is almost as though he never let Him go. Have you let impressions go, beloved? The enemy will be at you continually day in, day out in order to tempt you and persuade you to give up your impression of Christ; but, beloved, seek God’s help that you might be preserved in it. It goes on to speak about what this Child would be, “a light for revelation of the Gentiles and the glory of thy people Israel”. You could imagine Simeon holding the Child there. He speaks of what "this child" would be. The Gentiles were going to come into the full shining of God, and we are here tonight, beloved, as a result of what came out in this Child, the full blessing of God has come out to the Gentiles, “and the glory of thy people Israel”; the fulness of that awaits a time still to come. You may say, ’These are wonderful thoughts’, and he is still holding the Child in his arms when he says, “this child is set for the fall and rising up of many in Israel”. This brings out that there is the testing, moral side to the reception of the Lord Jesus but everything that God has is in Christ. So my simple word is, if you receive an impression of Christ, and perhaps you have received one today, seek God’s help that you never let it go.
I read in John. This is slightly different but I was just impressed with this reference to “the disciple whom Jesus loved”. John the writer never refers to himself by name. He refers to “that disciple whom Jesus loved” (v 7) and various variations of that, and so it is here, “the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also leaned at supper on his breast ... Peter, seeing him, says to Jesus, Lord, and what of this man?” I do not go into what lay behind Peter’s question here, but Jesus says, “If I will that he abide until I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me”, and immediately the word goes out that the Lord had said that he did not die, but Scripture carefully says that He did not say that. What He says is, “If I will that he abide until I come”, that is not simply John, that is the character of man who was loved by Jesus, and that was John’s impression which he cherished. My point in this is that if I want to be preserved as loving Christ I shall need to be preserved in a sense of being loved by Christ. The one who is going to be preserved to the end, who is going to hold things to the end is not one who becomes overly occupied with his own love for Christ, but one who has the sense of being loved by Christ. That is just my impression there, beloved. He did not say that John would abide until He came, but I do believe that when the Lord Jesus comes there will be persons on earth who have been loved by Christ, and there will be a place on earth where He has been loved, and I would like to be part of that; I would like to hold on to that.
Now, just finally as to that scripture in Revelation recorded by John as to Philadelphia, where the Lord speaks about setting before them "an opened door, which no one can shut, because thou hast a little power, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. Behold, I make them of the synagogue of Satan ...” and so on; “and shall know that I have loved thee". We were speaking recently about Rebecca in Sarah’s tent and the time that we are in. It has been set on when in the type Rebecca comes to Isaac. The assembly typically fills the place that properly belonged to another, as Rebecca enters the tent that had been vacated following Sarah’s death. We may say that it speaks of Israel’s passing, and the assembly entering into an area of things in testimony which is not properly her own, because the assembly is a heavenly vessel. She enters into an area of things in the testimony that should have been filled by Israel, in response to Christ. She fills the position gloriously which belonged to another. It says of Rebecca, “and she became his wife, and he loved her”, Gen 24: 67. That is a lovely touch. But what strikes me about this scripture is here, right at the end, where He says “and shall know that I have loved thee”. I believe, beloved brethren, that we need to be preserved not in concentration upon our love for Christ, that will follow, but in the blessedness of Christ’s love for us. I think that is where the secret to not letting go lies. I think that the departure of Ephesus from first love was not exactly their love for Christ but their sense of His love for them. I think that was the departure at Ephesus. But what I also wanted to draw attention to here is that it says, “because thou hast a little power ... and hast not denied my name”. It does not say, ’because you had a little power’; it does not say, ’because you did not deny my name’, but “hast not”. It is as if the whole thing was carried right through. Now, beloved brother or sister, if you have found the grace to care for the testimony and for Christ at the present time, seek God’s help that you might be maintained in it. It may only be a little, but it will be “a little power”, and it will be an element in which you will still find a little grace not to deny His Name. It may be at school, maybe at work, maybe in the local meeting; wherever it is, you will find grace not to deny His Name here. You may feel weak in it, you may be conscious of the difficulties of the day, but if you have been given grace for it so far, seek His grace that you might be maintained in it and do not let it go.
I suggest these things to the brethren; it is just an impression that it does not say of Simeon that he let the Child go; it does not say of Caleb that he ever died; it does not say of Daniel, who continued right the way through the captivity to the end, that he ever died. That is how these things are presented in the Scriptures. It is as if these things are mentioned in the way they are that we might be encouraged to see that it is not only a question of where we are now but of being sustained to the end. For His Name’s sake.
3rd August 2010