Ron D Plant

Revelation 11: 1, 2

Hebrews 9: 24-28

Genesis 13: 10-18

Romans 12: 1-5

         What I have in mind, beloved brethren, is the need of a sacrificial spirit to mark those at the end of the dispensation.  I have been impressed with the thought of the altar in scripture as bearing upon this matter of what is sacrificialAs thinking about it, it seems to me that the altar in scripture is viewed in different ways.  You get the altars in Genesis which, as we have been taught, do not have dimensions; they are not prescribed.  The Old Testament saints in Genesis built altars, but there was no prescription as to what size they should be, or what they should be made of.  With the coming of the law in Exodus, the specification comes in as to the altar and it becomes a principal feature of the tabernacle system; the service of the altar, the altar of burnt offering and the altar of incense, all this is very carefully set out as to what should be.  But later in the scriptures there are references which I do not think are to a literal altar.  I think they refer to the principle of it, and I think the principle of the altar, beloved brethren, is what is sacrificial; the principle, you might say, is surrender.  It is the means whereby something is given up.  And of course the setting in the scriptures would involve that it is not something given up in view of what is better here, but something that is given up in relation to God.  The principle of sacrifice, I think, is precious to the heart of God. 

         Psalm 50 speaks about God gathering His godly ones, "those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice!", v 5.  If you look at the content of the Psalm, it speaks of a whole area of things in which there is a ritual of sacrifice and of burnt offerings, and God will not say anything against it (I am paraphrasing, of course).  He says "the cattle upon a thousand hills ... are mine:  If I were hungry, I would not tell thee" (v 10-12), but He speaks about gathering to Himself those who made a covenant with Him by sacrifice.  I think there is something to be seen at the end of the day, beloved, not exactly in any literal offering but in the spirit of what is sacrificial, which is precious to the heart of GodThe ritual goes on in the days in which we are.  We have seen huge pomp and ceremony recently in England, and according to the colour pictures in the newspapers, all in glorious array, the occasion being the process of apparently making a long-dead churchman a saintI hope it stirred something in those who saw it, beloved, as to the incongruousness of it all.  You see these personages, and I do not say anything about them personally, and some of the things perhaps that they say may be very apt in the day in which we live, but seeing all the pomp and the ceremony I thought of the days here of the Lord Jesus, and I thought of Mr Darbys hymn -

     No eye was found to pity,

     No heart to bear Thy woe,

     But shame, and scorn, and spitting:

     None cared Thy Name to know

And the religious systems of the day stood in all their glorious array when Christ was denied even a place here.  He was not even given a grave by the establishment of the day.  What things these are, beloved!  I would urge the younger ones to be developed in feelings as to divine things, and be affected by the movements of the One who came here and became the Sacrifice and the basis for everything that God is doingHe came in in silence and obscurity as far as the world was concerned.  It is very affecting that, according to Lukes gospel, as the whole world was being registered at the census by the Roman empire, there in the manger at Bethlehem the kingdom of God came in silently, chap 2: 7.  He came into the world in obscurity but as He came in He was wrapped up in swaddling clothes, and He goes out wrapped up after His death, Luke 23: 53.  You are thankful for those who cared for Him like that, but as far as the world was concerned He was nothing: He was a felon.  Do these things affect your heart, beloved, as man and man’s religious systems go on in all their glory?  I hope these things affect you, beloved, because if the divine work in you and me is to be worked out it must be as we are moved inwardly in relation to the One who is the Centre of divine things. 

         Now I think that God was always affected by what is sacrificialI was noticing that when the children of Israel were seeking to leave Egypt, Pharaoh would not let them go at first, he flatly refused, and then as the plagues came he gradually released his hold.  At one point he said that they could go but they were to leave the cattle behind, Exod 10: 24.  Remember how Moses insists, "Our cattle also must go with us: there shall not a hoof be left behind", v 26It is an interesting thing that the cattle went with them; the cattle were for sacrifice.  I think it was always intended that the people should be marked by what was sacrificial.  You may remember that when they came to cross the Jordan into the land some of them had accumulated so much cattle that they decided that they would be far better to stay on the wilderness side of the Jordan than to go over, Num 32: 1-5.  So Reuben and Gad proposed to remain.  The cattle, that which had been provided in the ordering of God and had come out of Egypt to be for sacrifice, had become a snare to them because they centred all upon themselves and built up huge herds, and the sacrificial side of things was missing as a result.  As a consequence they did not go into the landThey were ready to go across and help their brethren to inherit, and to settle in the land, but then they went back across the Jordan and settled down with their wives, families and their cattle on the other side.  What does this teach us, beloved?  I think if the sacrificial side had been maintained with them they would not have had the hindrance of large herds that stopped them going into the landAnd later, sadly, you find they built a special altar by the Jordan, and they said it was not an altar for sacrifice.  It was an altar of grand appearance (Josh 22: 10) but it was not for sacrifice.  Beloved, let not our Christianity be of a kind where there is nothing surrendered in relation to divine things and nothing surrendered for God.  I think if we are to be preserved, if we are to go in for the fullness of things, it will be on the basis of a sacrificial spirit. 

         So I refer to these things.  I think that all of us here have been baptised, and that is a public committalWe have all made a public committal in baptism.  It may have been made on our behalf but I hope that those of us of mature years have come into the good of that baptism, and that baptism really has placed us outside of this world’s order of things.  What is appropriate to baptised persons, and what marks them, is the spirit of surrender in relation to what there is down here. 

         This scripture in Revelation, which is very interesting to me, is speaking about one of the darkest days in the history of the world.  It is after the saints of this dispensation have gone, when the Lord Jesus will have come at the rapture and He will have taken His own to be with Him, all of them, all of those who died in Christ, going back to Adam, all of those who had faith; and what will descend upon this world, beloved, is a time of terrible, terrible, happenings.  Foretold in the scripture, it will be a time when evil will become unrestrained upon the earth.  All the standards of civilized behaviour will be broken down and gone, and all order will have disappeared.  The Holy Spirit will be gone, the saints will be gone, and such an evil day that never has been in the history of the world will descend upon this earth in this time, before the Lord Jesus comes publicly and the millennium is established.  And in the vision of that time that the scripture refers to, John was told to measure the temple and the altar and them that worship in itAt such a time there will be something of a sacrificial character which can be measured by God.

         One of the things that is measured is the altar – “the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship in it”The temple, I think, involves divine lightIt seems there will still be that feature in that dayI cannot explain how that will be.  The temple will be there, the mind of God will be there in that day somehow, and there will be those who will be worshippers, and we might say that, in between the light of God in the temple and the worshipper, is the altar.  It is the principle of surrender.  We know there will be persons who will surrender their lives, they will lay down their lives for their faith.  We do not know much about the detail of how this will be, but what a remarkable thing, beloved, that such a thing will be measurable.  The devil does his worst and, in the darkest day, still there will be that which God can measure for Himself.  It will be on the basis of what is sacrificialThen John was to measure the temple.  A very searching thing, beloved.  Supposing the measuring came today and the measure of the light there has been was taken, and then the measure of the aggregate of surrender that there has been in relation to it in you and me!  And then he was to measure the worshippers; not measure these people as to what they are in their careers, or about their families, or the size of their houses, or their abilities as far as this is concerned.  No, he is to measure the worshippers.  What has there been for God?  I find that very testing, beloved.  I trust you do as wellHe is told not to measure the court without the temple for it has been given up to the nations and the holy city has been trodden under foot.  Reference was made earlier to the aggressive atheism of the day in which we are.  I think it is something that we should think about, beloved.  There has always been, we may say, scepticism about the things of God, but the day that we are in seems to be marked by a new phase of aggressive opposition as to faith, and I think we should be before God as to itBut John is told, "measure it not; because it has been given up to the nations".  The outward thing is not, as far as God is concerned, worth measuring, but is there something today on the basis of what is sacrificial?  I plead with us all as to this.  We have never been in such a material day.  We have something of the truth of God that has been recovered to us, we have in our hands the Holy Scriptures which contain the revealed mind of God, we have the gift of the Holy Spirit but, beloved brethren, what is the degree, the aggregate of the surrender and the answer in relation to it?  I ask the question; in this day in which we live, when you can fill your time with pleasure, fill your time with all the things that this world offers, how much is there being given for God, how much is there being surrendered in relation to what is for God? 

         I cannot speak of sacrifice without speaking of the Lord Jesus, and what the scripture in Hebrews refers to as "his sacrifice".  Hebrews contains some of the most glorious truths and some of the grandest language of Scripture.  It is a book that is marked by words like greatness”.  We have, "set himself down on the right hand of the greatness on high" (chap 1: 3) and "the greatness in the heavens" (chap 8: 1), and "consider how great this personage was", as to Melchisedec (chap 7: 4), and so onBut what I wanted to just bring out from it is this reference here to "the putting away of sin by his sacrifice" His.  The whole of the Jewish system of sacrifice, the animal sacrifices, was completely superseded when Jesus offered Himself.  The stupendous character of what He did is to fix itself upon my soul, because what is sacrificial in the death of the Lord Jesus is fundamental to everything that we have by way of blessing.  I read these words, not that I can explain them to you, but they set out the difference between the Jewish order of worship and Christianity.  I am not able to go into all the detail of that, but offerings were made every year in relation to sins, and the priests could not continue because they died; and then you get this wonderful scripture, "now once in the consummation of the ages he has been manifested for the putting away of sin by his sacrifice".  What an affecting word that is, beloved!  You notice it does not say the putting away of sins, it speaks a few verses down of that fact, that He bore "the sins of many", but the Lord Jesus in His death has not only dealt with the matter of the sins of the many, including mine and I trust including yours, but He has dealt with the whole matter of sin, the root cause, by His sacrifice.  And sin, not applying just to my day, and not just to this dispensation.  You may say, ’You mean going back as far as Adam?’.  It goes back before Adam; it goes back to the inception when Satan brought sin into the world, and the Lord Jesus by His sacrifice has taken up the whole matter of the offence of sin as it entered into the universe, and He has cleared it forever in the sight of God.  Hebrews 9: 22 refers to remission which is a powerful word; it is more in a way than forgiveness.  Remission involves that the thing is completely cleared away and the Lord Jesus Christ, that precious One, "has been manifested for the putting away of sin by his sacrifice".  Think of the words of John the baptist as he saw Him coming to him: "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world", John 1: 29There must have been something that John recognised in Him - not by any outward signs - to cause that utterance.  There are these ’beholds’ in John’s gospel, one of them is by John the baptist and the other is by Pilate.  Pilate says, at the end, "Behold the man!", John 19: 5.  I would far rather hear the words from the mouth of John the baptist who looked upon Him with admiration and affection as the One who came to give His life.  "Him who knew not sin he has made sin for us, that we might become Gods righteousness in him", 2 Cor 5: 21.  Pilate thought he could do as he would with Him as he says, "Behold the man!".  He had Him beaten, he had Him scourged, he allowed the soldiers to put a crown of thorns on His head, to display Him in a purple robe, and to give Him blows on the face; and then he says, "Behold the man!".  And still today, men in their aggressive atheism are pouring scorn and shame upon the person of the Lord Jesus.  He was the Lamb of God.  It is not the idea of a little lamb, immature, but the idea in the word is the fullness of maturity; it is the One who had full knowledge and full intelligence, and who bore the whole weight of sin before a holy God.  I think it is very affecting.  I hope you are affected by it, by “his sacrifice”It is the basis of everything that we have, the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus.  And I hope all of us, and especially the young ones here, might be encouraged to read these glorious scriptures that speak about the perfectness and the preciousness of the Lord Jesus Christ

         Now I wanted to speak from these other scriptures of the principle of sacrifice that comes out in them, because I think there are certain challenges in our day which can only be met by itI read in Genesis 13 of Abraham.  It seemed appropriate because Abraham sets out the principle of the walk of faith.  Jehovah speaks to Abraham and tells him to go out of his land and out of his kindred and from his fathers house "to the land that I will shew thee" (chap: 12: 1), and he went out "not knowing where he was going", Heb 11: 8.  The obedience of faith marked him.  In Genesis 11 you have the world of Babel where men had made a decision to exclude God from their thinking, and they said, "let us build ourselves a city and a tower, the top of which may reach to the heavens; and let us make ourselves a name", v 4.  You may remember that God scatters them over the face of the earth, and He confounds their language; and then in chapter 12 He calls a man out of the world.  I think the divine intent was to call men out of the world.  So the whole course of faith begins.  It is very interesting that God does not say to Abraham, ’Go out from Babel, and go out from all the wicked things that men are doing’.  He does not say that.  He says, "Go out of thy land, and from thy kindred, and from thy fathers house, to the land ...  ".  The immediate obstacle, we may say, to the movement of the man of faith out of the world was not exactly the wickedness of men, but the claims of nature; and it is still so today.  Abraham, the man of faith, is tested, as we will be testedHe is tested as he goes down to Egypt, which I suppose would speak about the world.  You may say there was a famine; that is why he moved there, but I do not think the scripture says thatI do not think there was any famine in Bethel initially when he moved.  Some people say that there is no food amongst the people of God.  I think if they say that, you will find that their steps have already moved away from the divinely appointed path as Abraham’s had.  I think if you are moving in the divinely appointed path there will always be food for your heart, always.  God brings him back again through mercy and establishes him in the old place where his altar was at first.  And then you get this chapter and the man of faith is here.  In chapter 13 he has Lot his brother, whose heart really had been left in EgyptOne of the solemn things, beloved, is that if we deviate from the path of faith, and if we find our feet straying towards the world and so on, we may find in God’s mercy He brings us back, but Lots heart was left there.  These things are testingLot was not really a man who walked by faith.  He was a righteous man, Scripture tells us, but he did not walk by the light he had, and he is tempted by the plain; he sought the plain of Sodom and Gomorrah.  He is tempted by the world and its hinterland and its apparent richness, and he is confused in his thinking, and I believe it is possible to be confused today.  He thought it was just like the garden of God, like the land of Egypt.  Do you think perhaps, dear younger one, that there is a close connection between the world as it is today and the garden of God?  Let me assure you that there is no connection at all but Satan can make you think that wayIt says of Lot that he "chose for himselfto remain in the plain in the vicinity of Sodom.  Abraham watches him go, and I think you may say it must have been a very sad moment for him, to see Lot go.  Lot had left him for the ease of the present day; he goes for the apparent richness of the pasture land, he goes for the environment of the city, he goes for all these things; but God’s work in Abraham was sustained and a sacrificial spirit was in himHe does not follow his brother.   He did not stop loving him.  We find in the next chapter there was a time when he went to war to save his brother, but he was not going to go with him.  He had the call of God in relation to another place; but for the moment he had lost his brother.  It says of Abraham that "he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker was God”, Heb 11: 10 (AV).  Go for that, beloved; go for that, beloved young oneYou may hear the blandishments of the world and all its careers and all its opportunities and its music, its sport and all these things; but open your eyes to the truth of God, that there is a city that has foundations whose builder and maker is God.  So Abraham has to watch his brother go; I think his heart would have been filled with sorrow.  It would have cost him something.

         So, now Jehovah says to Abraham, "Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land that thou seest will I give to thee, and to thy seed for ever", and "walk through the land according to the length of it and according to the breadth of it; for I will give it to thee".  I just had this impression, beloved, that if we are marked by a sacrificial spirit in relation to all that the natural and earthly side provides, our vision will be broadened in relation to the things of God.  It says of Abraham that he "moved his tents, and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron".  Now those oaks were very old; Hebron was a very old place.  Hebron was a place that the scripture tells us had been built before Zoan in Egypt, Num 13: 22It really typically speaks of the purpose of God, and Abraham went and pitched his tents there.  Can I make a plea, especially to my younger brethren, to pitch your tents, your life, your dwelling circumstances relative to the purpose of God?  He deliberately picked up his tents, and he pitched them by the oaks of Mamre.  That was not just for himself, not just one tent but all of them.  It was his family, it was his family circumstances, and he set his life, and he lived his life, in relation to the purpose of God.  Pray to God for all of us, beloved, that the enemy is not successful in this day in which we are, in which, I believe, the attack is against the possession of the heavenly inheritance.  I am sure of this that if he could turn everyone here away from what is heavenly, he would.  It is a great thing if you not only stand by the oaks of Mamre, but you pitch your tents there, set your life there.  I do not know whether what I am saying is acceptable to you, but I trust it is. 

         I go on to Romans to finish.  I love the epistle to the Romans.  We sometimes speak about the recovery of the truth and that is a wonderful subjectThe epistle to the Romans is the recovery of man, I think.  It is a book where you can trace where man begins as lost and far away from God, and it works through moral exercises and the provisions that God has made in order to take up man from that lost condition and to raise him up to the very entrance to the fullest thoughts of God.  I have often said, it is a quotation of course, that a good Roman, one who is steeped in the truth of Romans, can go anywhere in divine things and God does not fail to provide somewhere to go.  The good Roman can go into the truth of Ephesians, JT vol 90 p38.  But the teaching of this book is essentialIt progresses from man in his wretchedness and his distance from God, until the whole thing is laid bare as to his condition, and until it says, "There is not a righteous man, not even one", Rom 3: 10.  The law could not help, tradition could not help, nothing could help; everything was lost and gone.  Then the scripture says, "now without law righteousness of God is manifested" (Rom 3: 21), and it brings in the way that God has intervened in mans lost condition through the Lord Jesus Christ, and raised him up from the dunghill where his sin had put him and stage by stage brings him into the fullness of the love of God in its expression.  Romans 5 is a glorious chapter of the expression of the love of God.  The believer is filled with the blessedness of all that God has done for him, meeting him when he had nothing to pay, when he had no resources, and bringing all the resources of His grace and giving him everything in Jesus.  That is chapters 1 to 5 of Romans.  He never asked for anything from you.  He has poured upon you grace upon grace through believing in the Lord Jesus.  He has given you everything in ChristWonderful!  Those are the early chapters of Romans.  Then we get in chapter 6, "Should we continue in sin that grace may abound?  Far be the thought" (v 1, 2), and there is the beginning of a response Godward.  He resolves to take the members of his body that had been used in pursuance of sin and in bondage to lawlessness, and resolves to give them in bondage to righteousness.  That is the way that Christianity begins to find its way in the true believer, not through external ordinance but from internal conviction. 

         Chapters 7 and 8 set out the exercises that flow from that, and the greatness of Christ as the Deliverer as we feel our weakness, and the Holy Spirit as the new power of the believers life.  Then in chapter 12 where we read, he says, "I beseech you ... by the compassions of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice".  My simple impression here today is that chapter 12 is the basis, the beginning of the Christian company.  No longer is it just individual exercise but you find that there are others, and the coming together of the Christian company is in chapter 12; but the basis of it, I believe, is the offering of your body a living sacrificeI believe you will never prove the joy, the blessing, the privileges and the opportunities of the Christian company unless you are marked by the sacrificial spirit that chapter 12 speaks ofI have passed over a lot of ground but these are wonderful things to me.  The Christian company comes together as one body in Christ, "thus we, being many, are one body in Christ".  There is something there working inwardly.  That, beloved, is the one precious thing the believer has here upon the earth.  He is a member, he is a part of the Christian companySomeone likened it to the tabernacle, and you learn in the rest of this chapter how it all fits together, how persons use what God has given them in relation to each other and in relation to the completion of the whole.  In the construction of the tabernacle, all those huge boards had two tenons, two feet, and each one of the tenons was in sockets of silver, and each one of those boards could have stood up on its own.  It is like the believer, individually set there.  But the boards were never designed to stand up on their own.  You may remember the tabernacle was established and the boards set side by side to form the walls of the structure and then there was a ring in the centre of each board and finally one bar that was fed through the rings in all the boards.  That is something like the way we work together in our local places.  You know, if my board is a little bit out of level, a little bit out of line, it is going to be very difficult for the bar to go through.  It speaks about the unity of the Holy SpiritBut in Romans 12 the Christian company comes together.  We are given grace that we might each one of us find our part in it, but we shall not find this without what is sacrificial

         These two things, the heavenly inheritance and the privileges and opportunities of the Christian company, are being attacked by the enemy at the present time amongst others.  And I believe that what is sacrificial is essential if we are to know the blessing of them today. 

         May God bless the word for His Name’s sake. 


25th September 2010