Praise and Prayer

by A.E. Knoch


Pray your prayers! Don't say them! Indeed, it may be that, apart from divine inspiration, the most potent and eloquent pleadings are those inarticulate groanings which are wrung from our hearts in our infirmity and ignorance. We are not aware what we should be praying for, because we do not know the details of God's operations. Yet He Who is searching the hearts is aware of the disposition of the spirit He has given us, which pleads for us in accord with God. And we are aware that our underlying wish for welfare will be gloriously fulfilled, no matter what may be our lot, for God is causing all to cooperate to that end. Long before we were aware of anything, the minutest details, as well as the great outlines of our career, were determined, and our most fervent wishes were granted, in the love of God (Rom.8:26-39).

In the language of inspiration, the idea of prayer is essentially concerned with HAVING. To this is added the thought of good, WELL-HAVE, that is, a wish. If this is directed toward anyone, especially the Deity, then it is TOWARD-WELL-HAVING, prayer.

According to the Authorized Version, we ought to know what to pray for. The word ought stands for the word dei it-IS-BINDING, hence cannot be rendered we ought, but it. It does not refer to us, but what. We are not aware what must be, so that we can pray accordingly. If it referred to us, then the word hemas US would have to follow, as in Acts 27:26 it-IS-BINDING US to fall on a certain island. This passage also shows that the word means must not "ought." Ought belongs to the word OWE, as in John 13:14, "you also ought to be washing one another's feet."

The Revised Version changed to "we know not how to pray as we ought" (American Revision). Very few will dispute this assertion, but it is not a correct rendering of this passage. This word is WHAT, not HOW. They correctly render HOW in the thirty-second verse: "how shall he not also with him freely give us all things?" But here it is not the manner or the mode of doing a thing, but the identity of the thing itself. Notwithstanding their scholarship, the Revisers made the matter worse, not better. In both cases they distorted the words to mean what they thought they ought to mean in this context. But they lacked a spiritual conception of God's place in prayer. They saw only the human side of what man wants, rather than the divine, of what God, the Disposer, plans.

The difference between the A. V. as we ought and the C. V. to accord with what must be [WHICH is-BINDING] is almost infinite. One confines us to ourselves and our soulish and selfish interests. The other occupies our spirits with God and His great plan and purpose. Our prayer should always be in tune with His universal symphony. It is impossible for us to know the infinite details of His grand designs. These are as fixed and immutable as His holy Word. Not a "jot or tittle," not one iota or serif, not the smallest letter or even a part of a letter of His revelation can be changed by our prayers, neither can the minutest part of His plan for us be altered by our petitions. In one case we look within at our failing selves, in the other we look above, at the infinite perfection of God. Our attitude and outlook are revolutionized.

Let us beware, in our prayer, that we do not set ourselves above the Supreme. Let us not inform Him Who knows all, or reform Him Who has made all. He is not an idol of putty, so that we may remould Him to conform to ourselves. Those who know Him do not wish to change Him. They are satisfied and delighted to have Him as He is. Neither do they wish to change His purpose or His plan. His will, to them, is the only good. They wish to change themselves, not Him. They would have Him inform them, through His Word. They want Him to conform them to His will.

In these days, in which there is much public prayer, there is a grave temptation to pray to please the public. Indeed, some prayers can hardly be distinguished from preaching, and their fervor is largely for human appreciation. A calm, quiet petition may bring a rebuke from those who are accustomed to the gushing of human emotions, and may seem insufficient to reach the heavens. No doubt such a prayer can be just as genuine as any other, but fervid, forceful, eloquent prayers should have a peroration, petitioning for grace that it may not redound to the fame of the petitioner. It is like the man who was charged with inordinate pride. He prayed all night to be rid of it with such success that he told the first man he encountered that he had engaged all night in prayer, hence was now assured that he was the humblest man on earth. Such proud humility is the most dangerous.

So long as we are in the flesh we may never know just what we should ask for, in prayer, but it is our privilege to know what God has revealed as to the place of prayer in our fellowship with Him, especially in this secret administration, which differs so radically from all that have gone before it. The saints are confused on this theme, as on most others, because they do not discriminate intelligently between God's various operations, not realizing that our intercourse with Him today is on a vastly bigger plane than it could have been under the law, or when connected with the heralding of the kingdom. Human contact with God at that time was based largely on the flesh, and on physical nearness through the chosen nation, while ours is sourced in spirit, which gives us a tremendous advantage in dealing with the Deity, but operates in a different sphere.

Some of the saints have an inkling of God's great plans and do not pray that everyone must be saved immediately, although that desire may be in the heart of us all. Others have gone further and do not insist on great blessing for the world until the return of Christ. A few do not seek to do away with all evil, for they see its place in God's plans. They do not plead with God to remove all trials and sources of temptation from the earth, for they know that today is not the time for Him to do this. They do not embitter their lives by futile supplications contrary to His revealed will.

But even the most enlightened of those who have the gift of teaching are forced to face multitudes of minor details which must be referred to God because of their own ignorance of the infinite intricacies of their daily lives. Israel had a complete code of laws and wise elders to conduct the affairs of the kingdom. Nevertheless God arranged for the chief priest to settle matters by "urim and thummim," or lights and perfections. Two stones were put in a pouch, as when the land was allotted. A leading question was formulated, to be answered by yes or no. Jehovah gave His answer by the stone which was unwittingly withdrawn. This enabled Israel to do according to His will. We need only to place our petitions and problems before Him. In His care we are free from care.

In order to be most helpful, we will seek to cover this subject in all its phases, not only as it applies to us today, but show how and why it differs in the past and in the future. Only so can we clarify the cloud which has concealed our own position, and establish the saints as to the place of prayer in the present. This will also clear up problems and questions in the minds of many as to how to pray, and what to pray for, and to whom, and what answer to expect, and so avoid discouraging disappointments. Because many have been sadly deceived by "claiming the promises" (which were never made to them), false notions as to the efficacy of prayer have led many into doubt and unbelief. Even when their faith has not been shipwrecked by seeming failures to receive the expected answers to their petitions, it has been weakened by the apparent indifference of God in redeeming his presumed promises.

For some time I worked, as a printer, on a small paper called "Prayer," and was much interested in its contents. So far as I can remember, the main message was expressed in the phrase "Prayer changes things," or words to that effect. Great emphasis was laid on the idea that prayer was the greatest force in the world, so that nothing could withstand it, if we only "believed." I liked the stress put upon "faith," but was led to question its quality, when things were made the subject of insistent prayer concerning which God had not spoken. Indeed, it was claimed that everything could be accomplished by prayer, even if it was contrary to what God had said. This, it seemed to me, was faith in ourselves, not faith in God. He certainly could not change His purpose and alter His plans in order to "answer" thousands of conflicting demands from His saints, who did not believe His Word in regard to His great and glorious goal.

I have been told of one person who made prayer the great business of life, and went about Europe giving addresses on the subject. It was not long after the first world war, and, so great was the speaker's confidence in the power of prayer, that the audience was assured that this war would never have occurred had the saints used this marvelous force, which God had put into their hands. All that they needed to do was to stamp their feet and defy the devil to do his worst. Thus they could crush the powers of evil. Needless to say, the lecturer did not succeed in stopping the second world. war by this method. Such extreme, unscriptural ideas do great harm in that they put God in a false light, as though He did not do as He had promised. On the other hand, if the Scriptures distinctly stated that there would be no third world war, I would believe it, and pray accordingly--and there wouldn't be any! That would be faith. The other course was credulity. We may be confident that what we wish will come to pass, but let us not have too much "faith" in ourselves if we do not desire to be badly disappointed.

Why is it that so many prayers do not seem to be "answered?" Let us forestall a more thorough treatment of this question, and answer it briefly ahead of time. The reason is that no prayer or petition of man can alter or nullify the will or intention of the Deity. This holds good at all times. In no eon or administration is the creature able to go counter to His Creator. God is not feeling His way, or waiting for advice from mortal men. He is operating all in accord with the counsel of His own will (Eph.1:11). How unwise it would be for Him to follow the prayers of his saints, very few of whom have any idea of His purpose, His plan, or its consummation! The blind should not even attempt to guide Him who made the organs of sight.

Even the most enlightened saint is not intelligent enough to insist on the fulfillment of his own wishes, as expressed in prayer. He should always subordinate his petitions to the divine will. Our Lord Himself is the most illustrious example of this spirit. He knew, as no one else, what God's will was in regard to His sacrifice.

Nevertheless, when He is about to enter into the depths of distance from His God, He cannot help praying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass by from Me." Surely, no one ever had more reason to pray to be spared than He, especially from such a bitter and bloody experience. But even in the most crucial moment, when, for once, His will did not coincide with His Father's, He immediately adds, "However, not as I will, but as Thou" (Matt.26:39). Then, once more, He makes it plain that, notwithstanding the bitter draught that He was called upon to drain, He was determined to bow to God's will. In this lay the vast value of His sacrifice. Sacrifices and offerings brought God no delight. That was the very motive for His coming, to offer a Sacrifice according to God's will (Heb.10:5-7).

Was there ever anyone more worthy to have His prayers answered? Was there ever anyone more versed in God's will? Yet even He came to a crisis when His will was not in line with God's. If we go through a similar experience today, we would say that our prayer had not been answered, meaning by that that our will had not been carried out. What if God had yielded to His will? Then there would have been no Sacrifice, no Saviour, no salvation. God's whole purpose would have failed. Should we not be thankful that His prayer was not heeded? And should we not be grateful for every prayer of ours that is not "answered?" We may be assured that all that we ask according to His will will meet a response. And we should be most obliged to Him for every petition which is not fulfilled. We may be sure that it would not have been for our welfare.

It is evident from this that we should always modify our petitions by an expression of submission to God's will and good pleasure. But we should also seek to conform our prayers to His intention. When His disciples asked our Lord if they should call down fire from heaven as Elijah had done, to consume those who did not receive them, He rebuked them (Luke 9:53-55; 2 Kings 1:10). The times had changed, and God's method of dealing had altered correspondingly. That is why we can pray in accord with men of God in the past in some respects, but not in others. The grace which accompanied our Lord's earthly ministry would not allow His disciples to ask for destruction as Elijah did. How much less will the transcendent grace of today agree with such a procedure!

Each eon, every administration, puts mankind into a different relationship with God. It follows that He must be approached in a special way, and our prayers should be colored to accord with His operations at the time. The more we, are in tune with His present work, the more our prayers will conform to His will, and we will be "answered" according to our wishes. This is because His spirit, through His Word, has awakened these desires within us, and they must be in line with His will. In this way God is operating in us to will, as well as to work, for the sake of His delight (Phil.2:13).

Instead of prayer being discarded altogether in this administration of God's grace, emphasis is laid upon persevering in it (Rom.12:12; Col.4:2), praying on every occasion (Eph.6:18), and, indeed, praying without intermission (1 Thess.5:17). Where else, in the Scriptures, is such stress laid upon the continual exercise of communion with God? At other times men had a special hour of prayer (Acts 3:1). The early disciples persevered in prayer on certain occasions (Acts 1:14), but it was never made a vital part of the believer's experience as it is today. Indeed, the immature may well question the possibility of praying unintermittingly. How could we give all our time to that alone? Would not other important matters be neglected? In practice such difficulties do not arise. It is quite possible to be always in the attitude of prayer in the subconscious mind, so that all our other work is done in an atmosphere of dependence on God.

To be continually putting our petitions into words is quite the opposite of the unremittent prayer of the apostle. The scribes of old were prolix in prayer (Mark 12:40), but it only drew down judgment upon them. Rather it is the inarticulate pleadings of the spirit, of which we are not always aware, but which immediately makes its presence known, when occasion demands it. I have often awakened from sleep with a word of prayer or praise in my mind, which sometimes forces itself to my lips. Is not this what is meant by God being "All" in us? If our subconscious mind is habitually in tune with Him, so that we only need to touch a key to make it audible, there is a constant connection or communion which is very close to that for which God is preparing the whole universe. And the present administration brings us nearer to that blessed ultimate than any other. May our prayers conform to His grace!

Many a saint has led a life of disappointment and sorrow because he did not know that God will answer all his prayers. How sad seems the lot of the poor and patient widow with a single wayward son, who persists in darkening her days with secret sin or open offenses! How, patiently she prays that God will turn him from his wicked ways, and save his "soul"! Then she dies before her time and even this does not turn him to God and he, he dies and is buried in a pauper's grave. It certainly seems that her heartfelt supplications were in vain. Not so! If she had only known God better, and had been taught His Word, she would not have agonized and insisted on his salvation before God's good time. And she would have thanked Him in advance and rejoiced in the prospect of his ultimate reconciliation at the consummation, if not before.

We wish to point particularly to Philippians as the place to learn the practice of prayer for the present. Paul opens it with thanksgiving to God for them (Phil.1:3-11). As we have already expounded the epistle at length elsewhere, we will stop only to call attention to a passage in it which is in line with our present theme. Paul is confident, not that the Philippians will produce good works of themselves, but that GOD undertakes a good work in them, and that HE will be performing it until the day of Jesus Christ (Phil.1:6). Does not this give us the key to correct conduct for today? We should have our eyes open to His deity, and realize that He is the real motive power in our lives, and rely on Him, not ourselves, in deportment as well as in doctrine.

In the divine revelations previous to Paul the veil before reality is lifted only occasionally, and we see glimpses of God's operations in exceptional cases. But they saw "through a glass darkly," or by means of a mirror, in an enigma (1 Cor.3:12), and got only vague impressions of His ways. And, in fact, this is still so today in many quarters, Even in the highest theological schools they teach that this is the norm for us today. But in Paul's epistles, especially in his latest letters, the enigma is solved, the light is bright, the concealing curtain is gone. What we saw to be the case occasionally in Israel's history, that all is of God, even their prayers, is at last seen to be the constant and continuous mode of God's operations. God is not merely directing all in great crises, but works His will in the meanest of the saints. And this is not confined to his works, but his will. Not only the fruit but even the root is of Him. And all is not only for Him, but out of and through Him.

Let us never base our ideas of the ultimate cause upon our own conscious experience, but upon God's revelation. A beautiful illustration of this comes to my mind. In my early manhood we spent a vacation in a lovely Valley high up in the San Jacinto mountains. Back of our cabin was a little canyon down which a tiny stream made its appearance at intervals only to lose itself in the sand again. We were curious to know whence it came, so traced it up its bed. We opened seven springs from which it emerged. But now, as I look back, I realize that these were not its source. The water came down from heaven when I was not there, and sank out of sight where I could not see it, and came forth only when I dug for it. I forgot that it had fallen from above and had found its way in the heart of the earth to the points where it welled up to slake my thirst and cool my palate with its refreshing fluid.

So it is with the prayer of God. It falls like gentle rain from above upon the human heart and sinks into its deep dark recesses all unknown to us, and emerges only when we consciously disturb its surface. When the stress and strain of circumstance break open the crust of our subconscious mind it comes forth a delicious drink, first of all for His delectation and then for us. Let us never forget to offer Him the first draught in the form of praise before we spread our petitions before Him.


All is out of God, and prayer is no exception. Apart from His revelation in the Scriptures it would be practically impossible to trace a petition from its beginning out of Him, through His creatures and back to God, for we do not consciously realize the promptings of His spirit even in our own experience. So it will be best to trace the course of some important prayers as recorded in holy Writ.

God operated in the saints of old to pray for the things He promised. Did they ask Him to alter His plans? It may be that Jewish saints have petitioned Him to do this in their day. did He fulfill this part of their request? I know that some tried to bring about Israel's restoration when I lived in the promised land. The owner of the house in which I lived in Tiberias put in a garden, with great labor, and made other improvements with the hope of helping to bring about these things now. But this was not in faith and apart from the presence of their Messiah, so it will not succeed. If every Jew on earth, and every Gentile, as well, should join in petition, praying without ceasing that Jehovah establish and bless Israel in the land now, before the coming of Christ (as many are doing), I doubt if a single iota of His prediction would be changed.

We know that God will eventually save all, but this only encourages us to pray that He will save someone now. We should never appeal to Him to call all now, for we know that it is contrary to His Word. But He has not told us who are the elect, so we confidently give out the evangel to all, for God's side is true of everyone. We are confident that it will work His will and gain glory for Him, whether received or rejected. Yet who can quell the overflowing of his own heart, which prompts him to pray for those whom he loves? Even though we may know that the prayer will be fulfilled at the consummation, our hearts surge in supplication that it may be true now.

Many other aspects of this theme will engage our hearts in future installments. In our next chapter we will consider, more fully, The Time for Prayer.


THERE IS A SEASON for everything, and much depends on doing everything in its appropriate time. So it is with Praise and prayer. This not only applies to us in our daily life, but also to the conduct of God's saints throughout the past and future eras. What suited the saints under law is not at all ideal for us today. What was highly commendable in Daniel would be proof of apostasy in this period of transcendent grace. In the past prayer was occasional, intermittent, now it is vital and should proceed without cessation. Let us consider its exercise in the past, in Israel, and compare this with Paul's prescription for today.

In early Israel most prayers were occasional. Some need or crisis drew them forth. Not only so, but the temple was the official location for prayer. Either the people went there or directed their prayers toward it, wherever they were, as the Mohammedans do toward Mecca. I do not remember being in a mosque which did not have some indication of the direction of their sacred shrine, and the worshipers all prostrate with their faces toward it. In prolonged crises like the deportation, pious Jews seem to have had regular hours for prayer. Daniel opened his windows toward Jerusalem and knelt three times a day, and gave thanks. His prayer we shall consider later, but now it is helpful to see that there was no such thing as ceaseless prayer under the law.

In later Israel God was petitioned in the temple at the hour of prayer. There was a place and a time. At the ninth hour (about three o'clock) Peter and John went there and healed the lame man at the Beautiful door (Acts 3:1). And it was at that time that the messenger came to Cornelius and responded to his petitions (Acts 10:3,30). This seems to have been the set time for the Jews and the proselytes to perform their religious obligations. There was nothing in the law which made it mandatory, but it was one of innumerable man-made customs which came to be almost as binding as God's revealed instructions.

But Peter did not confine himself to the customary hour. It was at noon, about the sixth hour, that he went up on the housetop to pray. By this act, he severs himself from the populace, and is prepared for the great change in God's dealings which is impending. Here we have the opening wedge which eventually led to the conciliation of the nations. As we shall see later, even the place was propitious, for Simon, the tanner, with whom Peter was staying, lived on the seashore. In biblical symbols, the sea stands for the nations, and the solid land for Israel. Peter, so to speak, is already at a limit of the land, and is about to be pushed into the sea. But that is no place for a man. Neither is the home of a "gentile" fit for the presence of a Jew. So it is at noon, when nature is at its brightest, that Peter is convinced that God has some scraps for the other nations, and he is prepared for the descent of the spirit on Cornelius. In contrast, Paul, who also prayed at midday on the Damascus road, was arrested by a light above the brightness of the sun, according as his ministry to the nations was above Peter's in celestial glory (Acts 10:9; 26:13).

Nothing can impress us so powerfully with the apostasy of Israel as the tragic fact that they were saying their hypocritical prayers at the very hour when the Great Sacrifice cried out to the Deity, "My God! My God! Why didst Thou forsake Me?" Can we not visualize the scene as it appeared to the spirits above? All about were the religious Jews, holy hypocrites, seemingly in the divine presence in prayer, although their sordid sins demanded that they be put to death on the accursed tree. And, on the other hand, the high and holy Son of the Supreme, Who alone had the right to enter the presence of the Deity, forsaken by His God! What a setting for His supreme sacrifice, the severance from the presence and smile of His Father! All the prayers offered by Israel at the ninth hour never could sanctify the time as His single petition for their forgiveness (Matt.27:46).

Hitherto I have always pictured the so-called "transfiguration," or transformation, of our Lord in the dark shadows of the night. But there is no intimation that it did not occur in the daytime. In fact, as a symbol of the glory of the coming kingdom, it must have occurred during the day, for that eon is always intimated by such terms as the day of Jehovah, and the time when the sun arises with healing in its wings (Mal.4:2). And, moreover, it will be the kingdom of the heavens, even though it will not be in heaven. Moreover the light of the sun is said to be sevenfold in that day (Isa.30:26). On a similar occasion, the call of Saul was at midday, and the light was blinding in its brightness.

To agree with the spirit of the law, our Lord labored during the day. He did most of His praying at night, when the physical conditions corresponded with Israel's spiritual state. Even if He slept, He arose while it was yet night to pray, in preparation for the coming day (Mark 1:35). On one special occasion, when He was about to choose the twelve apostles from among His disciples, He spent the whole night "in prayer to God," as it is usually translated. I do not like the phrase "prayer to God." As we shall see, prayer originates in God. It is not telling Him what He already knows far better than we do, but communion with Him in regard to it. Hence it should be rendered, as in the inspired Original, "the prayer of God." His Father was the One Who gave the apostles to Him (John 17:24), and He was in the prayer of God in order to discern His will, not to press His own.

As the crisis of His ministry approached, when He held up the heralding of the kingdom and began to announce His rejection, our Lord spent the evening in prayer alone (Matt.14:23). He had fed the multitude miraculously from a few morsels. As their bellies were filled they were about to make Him king (John 6:15). This was utterly foreign to His program, and demanded a special session with His Father. As a result, the whole course of His ministry is reversed. "Thenceforth begins Jesus to show to His disciples that He suffering much from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed..." (Matt.16:21).

The next great crisis was Gethsemane, and once again He retires in order to pray in the evening. It was the most agonizing prayer that the world will ever witness. It was terrible, indeed, to be told that His ministry to Israel had failed, but now He enters the deepest depths of despair in view of His desertion by God Himself, when all others had forsaken Him, and He becomes the great Sin Offering for the whole world. The evening was doubtless dark, but to Him it was only the symbol of the dense darkness that would cover the land and His own soul when He suffered for us the next day from mid-forenoon until mid-afternoon, when the brightest part of the day became as dark as the night (Mark 14:32; Luke 22:41,44).

We have considered the times when our Lord prayed, and when Peter made his petitions. Now let us turn to Paul. It is very striking to note how many times he prayed, yet we are hardly ever told when it was. The significance of this will be apparent later. But there was one occasion which should be full of interest to us. Right after his Macedonian call and his contact with the gods of the nations in the maiden obsessed by a python spirit, he and Silas are cast into jail, into the very dungeon, and their feet are secured in stocks (Acts 16:24). How humiliating a beginning, and how discouraging to be stopped at the very start of their God-appointed task of making known the evangel to Europe! When Peter was imprisoned we read that prayer was earnestly made to God for him. But not so with Paul and Silas. They were alone in a strange land. But they had such a glorious vitalizing message that they not only prayed for themselves, but sang hymns to God. And it was midnight. Here we begin to see the place of prayer in Paul's evangel for the nations (Acts 16:23).

In our very darkest experiences, in the most desperate circumstances, if our hearts are brimming with the evangel of God's grace, we will praise as well as pray. The whole atmosphere of this blessed deliverance is redolent with grace. This is further emphasized when we compare it with Peter's release. Paul was the means of salvation to the jailor, who considered himself lost. Peter was the cause of death to the guards who had done nothing amiss. Paul was justified by the city officials, who had to come and get them out. Peter had to slink away into oblivion even after he was released. Our midnight disasters are glorified by God's grace. They may seem the blackest black at the time, but prayer based on God's, grace is superior to every mental state, and we should sing as well as pray. Even if our voices are unmusical, our hearts are enabled to hymn His praise in the deepest depths of despair. And if we can praise at midnight, when all is black, then we surely can pray at all other times when the day is not so dark, and when the sun shines in splendor in the sky.

Through Paul's epistles we read of persevering, unintermitting prayer. It is not an external, outer garment, to be worn on special occasions, but a vital internal organ, essential to the process which carries on our spiritual life. Even our Lord, in His kingdom ministry, told His disciples a parable that they must always be praying and not be despondent (Luke 8:1-8). But the motive back of it was very different. Even an unjust judge may be wearied by a widow so that he will avenge her. Should not God by all means be doing the avenging of His chosen ones who are imploring Him day and night? Shall we follow this example? I trust not! We are in no position to ask for justice or vengeance. On the contrary, we are not avenging ourselves, but give place to God's indignation, for it is written, Mine is vengeance! I will repay! If our enemy should be hungering, we should give him the choice morsel, if he should be thirsting, we should give him a drink, for so we will heap embers of fire on his head. We should not pray for vengeance at any time, but conquer evil with good (Rom.12:19-21).

But how can we pray without ceasing? Only a very few men are able to carry on more than one mental operation at the same time. Most of us can carry on a conversation while working, and that involves far more effort than communion with God. We must turn our thoughts into appropriate words and conform our lips and teeth and tongues to express the proper sounds and use our lungs to propel the air. It is really a rather intricate procedure to speak to our fellows. But we can do it without any great effort on our part. It is much easier for our spirits to take the attitude of praise and prayer to God, no matter what else is taking our attention, and no matter what other functions the body is performing.

Very few realize how many things the human body does at one time. No matter what our principal occupation may be, we keep on breathing; the lungs expand and contract, the blood absorbs the oxygen from the air and gives off the deadly carbon dioxide. At the same time the skin is reacting and may be exuding moisture. Besides this, the complicated operations necessary to the digestion of food are going on in the stomach and beyond. Special fluids are added and churned into the mass, which, in turn, is separated so that a part is absorbed by the blood and the rest eliminated. It would take a considerable laboratory and a very able chemist to perform these operations properly outside the body. Then there are other organs, all operating at the same time. The heart pumps the blood throughout the body, so that the eyes may see, the ears hear, the nose smell, the tongue taste, and all goes on without a conscious effort on our part while we are working and talking to our associates. It is no great thing to add one more function, and keep in touch with God along with the rest.

How much easier it is to speak, or rather think, to God! How often we are at a loss for words to express some vague, but urgent, feeling of need, in view of our service, or of some crisis in His work! As we have already shown, we are ignorant as to what is best, for the future is hid from us, and we are not aware just what God has in view, so that we may conform to His will, for the life we live is far too intricate to be fully comprehended. Then we need only to lift our hearts to God in spirit, like music without words, and find ourselves in tune with His spirit, and rest in His peace, for He does know what we need, and will assure us that all is well, even when it appears to be unutterably ill. If we prefer, we may use words. In fact, in one case that I know of, the prayer, if we may call it so, arises spontaneously, and consists merely in the mental ejaculation, "Gracious God, if it please Thee--!" Nothing more is needed. No definite request is necessary. This comes up unbidden, in the midst of affairs, whenever the load on the heart needs to be lightened.

Praising and praying, are not strange, abnormal functions for which man has no organs. On the contrary, mankind was especially designed by its Creator for this very vocation. Man was given a tongue to communicate with his fellows. At best it is a stammering and imperfect method of making known his thoughts. Words are scarcely ideal as a means of expressing ideas. Too often they are misunderstood and falsely construed. Even the most perfect of all literature, the Word of God, which refines its own vocabulary, has led to innumerable interpretations. When speaking and writing I seek to keep the background of my hearers or readers in view, so that it will be intelligible to them rather than to myself. I use the devices found in Sacred Writ to insure apprehension. I often state a matter twice, using synonyms to more fully cover the ground. But none of this is required when communicating with the Deity. He Who made us for Himself, Who intends to be our All, understands our needs much better than we do ourselves, He reads our hearts, not our heads.

Like a musical instrument, man was made to praise the Deity. He has all the necessary equipment, so that he can do this at all times, without interrupting his vital functions. In fact the stomach and lungs and heart must continue to operate, just as they do when talking to others. It is better, of course, that we be alone, away from the distractions of human fellowship, but this is not absolutely necessary in this administration of spiritual realities. It may help to get down before God on our knees or face, as this is in accord with our spiritual posture before Him. But, again, today there is no need of this, if our spirits are prostrate in His presence. I would be much embarrassed if I should pray publicly, like a Moslem, but I do not hesitate to bow to the ground in spirit in the presence of anyone, at anytime, no matter how much I may be abashed to speak to them, or even to be under their eye.

But to reach such a vast variety, saints and sinners, young and old, spiritual minors and mature, from many different countries, with strange customs, and even more denominations and divisions--to reach them all with the same words is almost as difficult as to reach all mankind with the same language. My grandson, who was sitting on the front seat in a meeting, asked me afterward why I sometimes spoke "over his head." He was then too young to understand all that I said. So I told him that I had to do it to reach the others, who sat behind him! I am sure that they would not have cared for the milk he needed, for some of them had been mature before he was born, both physically and spiritually. This could be remedied very simply. all that is needed is for every listener or reader to know all things. Then they would easily catch my meaning, even if my words failed to convey it.

With characteristic confusion, earnest and devout movements today, not understanding the times, have adulterated grace with law even in praying. Prayer is held in "temples" without intermission, instead of at three o'clock, as in Jerusalem. In one such temple they boasted that prayer had been held without ceasing for many years. It was kept going in relays day and night. Like a watch in wartime, each group was relieved every so often, so that there should be no break in the continuity. I do not know how they explained our Lord's condemnation of prolixity or loquacity in prayer (Luke 20:47), or the use of needless repetitions (Matt.6:7). But we may be sure that the early church did not understand Paul to mean any such thing. It is little better than the prayer wheels of the heathen, who think that they can worry their gods into acquiescence with their own wills. It tends to cover up the fundamental truth that every saint is to keep in vital contact with God at all times.

Let us, then, pray without ceasing. Nevertheless let us make an occasional special petition along the lines proposed by Paul, for the promotion of God's work in the world. Of this we will learn more later when we come to consider the special petitions that the apostle has offered for us, and those for him and all who follow in his ministry. May God Himself encourage us to have communion with Him at all times!


GOD'S GRAND GOAL is to be Everything in every one of His creatures (1 Cor.15:28). In order to accomplish this there must be intercommunication between them. God speaks to men in His Word. Men speak to Him in praise and prayer. Very few listen attentively to what He has to say, but He hears every syllable that they utter. Yes, He listens even to the inarticulate groanings of their hearts. This is even the case when they address themselves to Him, although they do not know Him and do it only as a form, and speak of, and to, themselves. How, then, should He not hear our petitions, who are acquainted with Him and His Anointed? To be sure, in a figure, He may not "hear," that is, even if He does perceive what is said, yet He does not hearken to that which is contrary to His ways and His will.

In Hebrew the word prayer is based on the idea of MEDIATION. In the A.V. Samuel says to his wicked sons, "If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him..." Rather, he said, "the judge shall mediate." This form of the word phll is seldom used. But, by prefixing eth, it becomes self-MEDIATION, or prayer. Usually a priest mediated between a man in Israel and Jehovah. Prayer takes the place of the priest. It is the medium of communication between God and His creatures.

The word hear, in Hebrew and Greek, is also used figuratively, to denote hearken, or obey. God does not hearken to all He hears, that is, do as each one wishes Him to do, but he hears and answers, that is, responds, to every word or thought which is directed to Him. Why, then, does it seem as if He pays no attention to our prayers at times? Again, if He only answers prayer which accords with His intention, why pray at all if our petitions do not alter His plans? Some tell us that in "prayer moves the hand that moves the world." But if a million saints in one part of the world pray for one thing and a million of His people in a different region pray for the opposite, how can He obey them both? Instead of compliance there would be collision. How much less can He submit to each whim of every petitioner? Is it not wrong for men to look at prayer from the human viewpoint instead of from the divine?

But, we may ask, It only prayer in accord with God's will is fulfilled, why pray at all, why persevere if it will not change anything? To the mind trained in human dialectics this seems a mere form and futile, without any reasonable basis. But to the man of God it appears otherwise. Realizing the vanity of reasoning about things divine, he falls back on faith, and believes what God says, rather than any inference which would be logical only if a man had spoken. The prophet Ezekiel, after giving the outlines of the restoration of the holy land in the day of Jehovah, includes this notable detail: "For this I shall be inquired of by the house of Israel to do it for them" (Ezek.36:37). Does not this show clearly that, not only is the answer to the prayer already determined by God, but the prayer itself is a part of His planning. How can we know now that the sons of Israel will pray if God does not put it into their hearts to do so?


Why should prayer have any place in the universe during the eons, when their course has been planned beforehand to the last detail, so that they are sure to end in a glorious consummation? If prayer cannot change this plan, why indulge in futile performances, when they produce no tangible results? That is the human side, which surely should be sufficient evidence to show how utterly ignorant man is of God's great purpose. The answer is simple: Prayer is an essential part of God's program. God's heart hungers for the fellowship of His handiwork. If He wants to be All in all in the future, He must commence to be Something in some at the present. He reveals Himself to us through prayer in an intimate and personal manner which would be impossible if He alone stood back and allowed no one to speak but Himself.


God is engaged in drawing His creatures to Himself by various means. One of the most effective of these is prayer. It is especially needed in the training of the saints in their special function of revealing Him to the rest of creation. Text books are good, but they must be supplemented by practical experience. God could not leave minute directions in His Word for every step in the lives of billions of His saints. Besides, that is not His goal. We need His Word now, in our ignorance. But there is no written revelation for the time after the consummation, because each one will be so attuned to God Himself, Who will be Everything to them, so that no written record will be needed, and no prayer will be contrary to His will. That will be ideal then, but now the experience of ignorance and evil is needed to bring it about.

Let us be clear on this point. The object of prayer is not to dictate to God what He shall do, or to get Him to alter some detail of His plan to conform with our wishes. Sober reflection would soon convince us that this would lead to confusion unutterably worse than we already have in the world. One saint wants this, another that, and if both pray for their own way, one, at least, must be refused, or, more likely, both. But if both close their prayers with "not my will, but Thine be done," they will be heard, they will be blessed, God will be glorified, and they will gain in the realization of His will by their fellowship with Him. This will usually humble them or confirm them in His ways, in view of their future work in making God known to the rest of His creatures. But the main gain will be God's, Who will be more to them through this experience than before. His great purpose to draw all to Himself is greatly advanced through such fellowship with the saints. The prayer itself, whether in accord with His will or His intention, is a vital part of His plan, rather than a means to amend it through the ignorance of conceited mortals.


In my early ignorance of God's great goal, I was much exercised about His apparent failure to answer the prayer of some of His saints who seemed most pathetically deserving. Take the case of a widow, left alone with many children, for each of which she agonizes in prayer, that they should accept the Saviour, yet not a single one responds to her entreaties. Some of them die before she is put to repose, and those who survive are not reached by the gospel. There, you say, is a clear case of earnest petitions and many prayers which were not answered! I do not blame you. I thought so myself once. But now that I have believed that God is the Saviour of all mankind (1 Tim.4:10), and look ahead to the consummation, I have changed my mind. The poor widow knew nothing of the future beyond the grave, so she should have stopped praying, if she had been logical. But she kept on because she could not stop. I am inclined to think that each of her prayers for her children was a "prayer of God" (Luke 6:12), in a very special way inspired by His spirit in her heart.

Can you imagine what joy will be hers when she is reunited with all those for whom she prayed, at the consummation? Will it not be magnified by the tears and prayers which she thought so weak and futile before she died? And who will insist that these hid no part in preparing for the eventual reconciliation of her offspring? And who will assert that the apparent delay was not better, from God's standpoint, than if they had responded to her supplications? It is evident that God's plan calls for an experience of distance from Him on the part of all. Hardly any are called from their birth, or before, like John the Baptist. All of us are estranged from God in our youthful years. Those who are not reconciled in this life have only an extension of this experience. All must be consciously lost before they are saved, in order to realize the direness of being at a distance from Him.

A serious stumbling stone, in the eyes of the world, is the opposing prayers of Christians in time of war. Both appeal to God to give them the victory, when, superficially, at least, only one side can have it. In practice it seems to be "answered," as a rule, but on different planes. On the physical, the power of one side may prevail, and history records a victory, but the spiritual results are often worse than a defeat. Success in battle may breed self-righteousness and pride and domination. But this is quite contrary to God's ultimate, which does away with the righteousness of man, and leads to humiliation and submission. So it is usually a Pyrrhic victory, far higher in price than in profit. On the other side, defeat has its spiritual advantages. It may produce self-searching and humility and submission, just the effects which God is seeking, in view of His ultimate goal. So, in a way, the believers on both sides of a battle are "answered." Yet the one who thinks it was answered does not receive nearly the benefit as the one who thinks it wasn't!

The "logical" deduction from these apparent premises would lead us to cease from praying altogether. If everything is cooperating for our welfare anyway, why even try to spoil it by our ignorant and selfish petitions? Alas, how illogical is human logic! It usually leaves God out, or reduces Him to human proportions even though He is the Major Premise in all things. God is using all our experiences in order to fit us for fellowship with Him, so to become Everything in us, and through us to become All in all His creatures. This calls for the exercise of faith in Him, and doubt and distrust in all that is of man. We must learn by experience how futile are all our wishes unless inspired by God's spirit. As sin in humanity is a background for God's grace, so are seemingly "unanswered" prayers a necessary test to expose us to ourselves and lead us to rely only on Him and His love.


All is out of God. Strange as it may seem at first thought, prayer does not originate with us, but with Him. Before we explain the why and the wherefore of this, let us confirm it by actual examples, of which there is no lack in the predictive prophets. Jehovah has not only promised to restore Israel to their land, but has foretold that they would pray for it. He even puts the actual words into their mouths. Does not this show that the prayer as well as its fulfillment is due to the operation of His spirit? It may, of course, be partly through His Word, in which the blessings are promised. But even that is not enough, for many of His ancient people do not believe them. A special work of His spirit is needed to stir their hearts to ask for the gifts He will bestow (Jer.31:19). It was after Daniel learned from the prophecy of Jeremiah that Jerusalem would be restored after seventy years, that he made his confession and petition (Dan.9:2,3).

Perhaps every reader of these lines is convinced of the blessing of Israel, as a nation, in the day of Jehovah. Reason would say, then there is no need to pray for it. But prayer is hyper-rational, or super-rational, if we may be allowed to use a rare but much needed expression. Perhaps it were better to expose "reasoning," as hypo-rational, because it bases its syllogisms on inadequate premises. A sounder syllogism would be this: Since God seeks the fellowship of His creatures in view of their future, He not only reveals His plans to their minds, but engages their hearts in His proposals by means of praise and prayer. Already much praise has ascended to Him in view of the glories He has promised His ancient people. And much prayer will go up to Him, especially in the dire days preceding the fulfillment of His predictions. Even a cursory reading of Ezek.36:37, will show that the prayers of that day will be inspired by Him, for they were predicted thousands of years ago.

God's dealings with Israel in the past were based on law, therefore there was such fearful failure. His dealings with them in the future will be founded on favor, hence there will be such a fine fulfillment. In older to guide them in their prayers He begins His predictions with an emphatic negative: "Not on your account am I doing it, avers the Lord Jehovah." Their prayers will not be based on ignorance in this particular. What a contradiction! When they sought to earn their blessings, they failed to get them, yet when they do enjoy them it will not be because they keep the law! Though we enjoy the acme of transcendent grace, to which they cannot attain, nevertheless they also are dependent on God's favor for the fulfillment of their prayers. Rather, they are blessed in spite of their wayward ways, and cleansed notwithstanding their depravities. This knowledge enables them to pray the prayer of God.

When Israel has learned the futility of their own failures, the spirit of Jehovah leads them to praise Him and to pray for salvation at His hands. Their deliverance seems long delayed to those who do not apprehend God's purpose in the prolonged period of preparation. The lesson taught to Israel through their wilderness journey was of the utmost importance to prepare them for the land. In the desert they experienced their vital dependence on Jehovah for their very existence. Neither food nor water nor shelter could be had except it come directly from His hand. And the same lesson is being taught to Israel today, for the trials of the wilderness were but a type of their present plight. When they no longer have hope in themselves then they are turned to Jehovah to praise Him and pray for His promised salvation.

The evils in the wilderness were planned by God. He would not allow them to go by the travelled highway to the promised land, so that they must find their all in Him. So with Israel now. Most of them would much prefer to take the travelled road, by automobile, or by airplane, figuratively speaking, in order to enjoy the promised paradise. But, for their own sakes, and for the sake of the other nations, as well as for the benefit of God's creatures everywhere, they must perform their part of the play, which portrays the path of independence from the Deity until the moral is plain and patent to all creation: The creature is accursed when estranged from the Creator!

It is popularly supposed that prayer is essentially begging for something that is outside of God's will or intention. It is argued, What is the use of praying for a thing when God has already promised it? How far this is from God's thoughts may be shown by one example. Jehovah has assured Israel that He will restore them to their land and that it shall become as the garden of Eden, so why pray for it? But Jehovah has also revealed the fact that they will. His heart yearns for the fellowship of His people. That is more important to Him than their blessing. If His kindness to them will not bring Him praise, of what use is it in His purpose? And this is greatly intensified by previous fellowship in His plans.

Not only will the land that was deserted and desolate be filled with cities and luxuriant gardens, but the nations round about will be impressed by the fact that they did not do it, but Jehovah, their God. Hitherto, under the law, self-righteous Israel was wont to war with their neighbors. Now that they are really right, they illuminate them, and reveal the true God to them. Perhaps no passage of Scripture uses the emphatic I so excessively as Ezekiel 36:37. Even the Authorized Version has three capital I's. The Concordant makes a special effort to carry over the emphasis of the Original. And here this cannot be adequately accomplished without using five, and two of these emphatic. Israel, in that day, will no longer be egocentric, engrossed with their own blessing, but world-centric, the center from which blessing will radiate to all the other nations of the earth.

But all this will not be forced on an unwilling and antagonistic nation, out of harmony with God's plans, and opposed to His purpose. Before He blesses them in fact He engages their faith. He not only foretold their fate, but predicted their petitions. For thousands of years before the millennium, the wandering Jew has inquired concerning their coming bliss in the day of Jehovah. The believing remnant emptied out the longing of their hearts before Him, and prayed, "How long, O Lord!" In fact the years of prayer have been much longer than the era of blessing. It may be that this prolonged preparation may do more for Israel to prepare them for their final function in God's universal purpose than the much desired millennium itself. Prediction does not dispense with prayer, it draws it out. Moreover, it helps to mould it to conform with God's heart.

God does not need to wait until we pray before He replies. This is shown clearly in another passage concerning Israel's future. This accords fully with the fact that we already know many details of that glorious day. Prayer can neither hinder nor help the fulfillment of the most minute item of these numerous predictions. Neither can it change a single one in the least particular. This is farther elucidated for us by the fact that, ere they are calling, while they are still speaking, Jehovah is answering and hearkening (Isa.65:24). The days of Jehovah's people will be as the days of the tree of life, and the work of their hands will not wear out. Their efforts will not be futile, as they seemed to be in the past. Then there will be peace--real peace--not only among men, but even among the wild beasts. The lioness and the wolf will live with the animals upon which they had preyed in the past. Evil and ruin will no longer have the place it now has in the human race.

I once had a startling experience as a very young believer which impressed me powerfully, and opened my heart to the truth we are considering. I was much burdened about my relatives, most of whom were unsaved. Some were skeptical and a few were downright derisive. In fact, one of them spread the idea that I was congenitally deranged, although none of our family suffered so, and they certainly did not consider themselves affected! My parents plea was that, if I was bound to be "religious," why didn't I join a respectable church? They did not consider the Plymouth Brethren in this class.

We were at relatives, eating a meal. I was praying for an opening to speak to them about Christ. But before I could finish framing the sentence in my mind, the most contemptuous of my opponents asked the very question which I most desired to answer. I was quite taken aback for an instant, but, full of thankfulness, did my best. I suppose I should add, as a sequel, that he, or someone else, believed, but that was not the fact, and it caused me much questioning. Now I know that all will be saved, and I have no doubt that my words will be used by God to that end eventually.


Perhaps the most important example of prayer for us in this administration is the petition for a spirit of wisdom and revelation. Paul prayed that we should have it, and God puts this desire into the hearts of those of His saints to whom He wishes to reveal Himself through a knowledge of the secrets which underlie the present administration (Eph.1:17). These are all clearly set forth in Paul's epistles, yet have been so smothered by tradition that very few of the saints have more than an inkling that there are some inexplicable "mysteries" which may be revealed to us in heaven. And this is quite right, if we are not graciously given the spirit of revelation in order to apprehend them beforehand.

First God, awakens in us a wish to know what these mysteries conceal. When this wish is directed to Him it becomes a prayer, even though it be too vague for utterance. The spirit of revelation is the spirit of God which reveals Him and which inspired Paul to record the revelation of the various secrets of which the truth for the present is largely composed, for these unfold the fullest and highest revelation of the Deity. The spirit that is imparted to us, in order that we should understand it, is that same spirit that wrote the record. It is a special installment of that life-giving spirit which all the saints possess in limited measure as an earnest. It will reveal these things to all when they are vivified. Now it is the portion of those who are led to ask for it, in order to know God fully.

This prayer it was, more than any other, that led to the study of The Divine Mysteries which afterward appeared in pamphlet and book form. Along with the light came a deep conviction that all was of God, not of us. So that we look upon the revelation of the spirit to us as a manifestation of God's grace, just as the written revelation is an unfolding of the exceeding riches of His favor to those of the nations who believe. They deserve the opposite, yet this makes them the best means for displaying the overwhelming wealth of His grace and love.


The prayer of God carries His will into effect. Not only has Jehovah foretold His will for the future, and predicted the prayers which precede its execution, but, in this administration especially, God is carrying out what delights Him through His saints, and is preparing for it by putting His prayers into their hearts. He not only operates in them to work according to His pleasure, but prepares for this day by implanting in them the will to do it, and the prayer which precedes its accomplishment. In the course of our meditations we will consider many different patterns for prayer, yet all will agree in this, that they have their origin in God and are the operation of His spirit in humanity (Phil.2:13-18).

The works of God, when performed by His creatures, are always due to the energy provided by His will, and preceded by the prayer of God. Usually this is so obscure, so hidden in the subconscious mind, that it does not reach the realm of consciousness, so cannot be known or understood. But, in the saint of the present era this should be clear to all, for it is the privilege of maturity to be consciously controlled by His spirit, and cooperate intelligently in His affairs. May it be the precious portion of all who read these lines to realize in their experience the high honor and happiness of praying the prayer of God!


"HIGH PLACES," or fane heights, were sacred as sites for prayer and worship in Israel up to the time of Solomon. These had been so used by the alien nations before them. Balak took Balaam to a fane height devoted to Baal, in order to get him to curse Israel (Num.22:41). When God's people entered the land they were to destroy all evidences of idolatry, including the fane heights where the Canaanites worshiped (Num.33:52). If Israel should ever use fane heights to worship other gods beside Jehovah He threatened to destroy them (Luke 26:30). During the period of the Judges the fane heights were used as a place for sacrifice. Saul found Samuel when he was about to offer sacrifice at a fane height. Soon thereafter he was anointed Israel's king by the prophet (1 Sam.9:12-10:13).

Even Solomon, the builder of the temple, sacrificed a thousand ascent offerings upon the altar in a great fane height in Gideon (1 Kings 3:3). In his old age he even went so far as to build a fane height for Chemosh, the abhorrent god of Moab, on the hill before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the detestable god of the sons of Ammon, and likewise for other gods of his foreign wives (1 Kings 11:7,8), even after the temple had been erected. From that time on it was a sign of apostasy from Jehovah to worship in the fane heights. Acceptable prayer, praise and sacrifice could be offered only in the place in which Jehovah had put His name, that is, the house of God in Jerusalem. Fane heights became a token of departure from Jehovah. If these were not broken down there was trouble. If they were restored it was still worse. Jehovah was exceedingly jealous of other places than the house in which He homed in Israel.

In order to protect his ten-tribed kingdom, Jeroboam would not allow his people to go to Jerusalem, so he made fane heights for them and appointed priests to officiate. This was frequently referred to as the sin of Jeroboam, the means by which he caused Israel to sin. It finally led to the defeat and deportation of the ten tribes, long before Judah was carried to Babylon. What seemed to be political prudence turned out to be the seed of destruction. It is difficult for us to realize how important it was, under that administration, to worship in the right place. Even in the deportation this is impressed upon us by the action of Daniel, who opened up his window in the direction of Jerusalem when he prayed.


The place of prayer made a permanent division in the holy nation. Those in the ten tribes who would not bow down to the gods of Jeroboam, left the land of Israel and came to Judah, in order to worship in Jerusalem. As a result, the allotment of Judah was inhabited by members of all the tribes, not only the descendants of Jacob's royal son. No matter what tribe it was to which they belonged, in respect to worship they were called "Jews." It was a religious division which superseded the social segregation into tribes and the political one of two kingdoms. This has continued to the present day. The term Jew does not imply that Solomon Levy or David Simon are descended from Judah, for they sprang from Levi and Simeon, but that they are one with Judah in worship of their God Jehovah, at Jerusalem.


The fact that the temple in Jerusalem was the only place to worship acceptably did not depend on the place, or the buildings, or the silver and gold which was so lavishly used in its construction, but upon the manifest presence of the divine glory, the shekinah, in the holy of holies, upon the propitiatory shelter, between the cherubim. When the depravity of the house of Israel became unbearable, the glory left its place in the holy of holies and took its stand over the sill of the door, and thence moved to the right of the house, thence to the east gate, thence to the mountain east of the city, from which it ascended (Ezek.9,10,11). This magnificent shrine, as well as later temples, remained desolate until Christ came and replaced the shekinah glory with His own. During that interval the Jews did not all worship there, for many were deported and the house was demolished. The temples built by Ezra and Zerubabel and by Herod, were only an outward shell, from which the divine Presence was absent.

Even at the time of its desolate condition, with the glory departed, the Samaritan woman, who worshiped in the fane height of their mountain, knew that the Jews claimed that Jerusalem is the place where one must worship. Yet our Lord knew how empty these two places were, so he replied "Coming is the hour, and now is, when the true worshipers will be worshiping the Father in spirit and truth" (John 4:23). As a matter of fact, when do we find our Lord worshiping in the temple? He went there, indeed, but not to worship, for the simple reason that He was the shekinah glory Himself, yet was rejected by the very priests who should have led in His worship! He was the true temple in His day, and many a prayer was directed to Him and received its blessed answer.


Like every other action of our Lord, the places to which He repaired to pray are in fullest harmony with spiritual truth. As a rule He retired from the company of mortals and communed with God alone, in a desolate location, or in the wilderness, or on a mountain, as far from man as possible and as near to God as He could get on earth. He advised His disciples to do likewise. He told them, "Now you, whenever you may be praying, enter into your storeroom, and, locking your door, pray to your Father in hiding." Again, "You shall not be as the hypocrites, for they are fond of standing, in the synagogues and at the corners of the squares to be praying, so that they may appear to men" (Matt.6:5,6). The principal point was to be alone with God, and secluded from human distraction and interference.

At the commencement of His ministry, after the first strenuous day, before the sun had appeared on the scene, He came away into a desolate place, and there He prayed (Mark 1:35). It is easy to understand that He wished to have privacy in prayer. But He could have had that in a storeroom, near at hand. Why did He not follow His own advice to His disciples, and lock Himself in there (Matt.6:6)? Is it not clear that He wished to bring His physical environment into harmony with the spiritual? God's house of prayer was desolate, so He seeks a desolate place. The time, also is significant. His evangel heralded the coming of the kingdom, the day of Jehovah. But that day had not yet become apparent. It was still night. It is best to pray when all the physical conditions about us are in accord with the spiritual state in which we find ourselves.


How appropriate is the name Gethsemane! In Hebrew it speaks of the olive, the source of light, and the pressure needed to produce it, and the trough into which it ran. It is a perfect counterpart of the appalling spiritual pressure under which our Lord implored His God to "Carry aside this cup from Me!" (Luke 22:42). Not only drops of agonizing blood clots fell to the earth from His bitter brow, but, along with it came the oil. The illumination which that soul-sickening scene shed on God's heart is surpassed only by the sorrows of the cross. It has enlightened millions and will continue to shine for all the eons, until everyone of God's intelligent creatures has basked in its beams. What other place would have been more appropriate than the site of an olive trough, where the crushed berries supplied the light which lighted every home throughout the night?

At other times our Lord retreated into the wilderness (Luke 5:16) or into a mountain to pray (Matt.14:23: Mark 6:46: Luke 6:12; 9:28). A great height is suggestive of a spiritual state above the low level of mankind below, and points forward to the kingdom of the heavens upon the earth. Such prayers often followed some miraculous sign connected with the coming millennium. After feeding the multitude with a few cakes and fishes, and seeing their soulish satisfaction, He went up to commune alone. After restoring a withered right hand in a synagogue, and noting the false reasonings of the scribes and Pharisees, He goes above.


Contrary to His usual custom, He took along Peter and John and James when He went to pray and to be transformed, for this needed witnesses. Again, to conform to the kingdom, He ascended a mountain, for the prayer and transformation were a preview of the coming kingdom (Luke 9:28). It was, in a sense, the fulfillment of the so-called "Lord's prayer," which commenced with "Thy kingdom come." Indeed, this thought was doubtless uppermost in the prayers of those days, for His preaching filled the hearts of His disciples with a longing, for His kingdom. But only His three chosen apostles saw its glory on the mount.


Christendom has failed utterly in regard to the place of praise and prayer. In this administration of grace, God does not dwell in temples made with hands, but His spirit makes its home in the living tabernacles of His sanctified people, or saints. No one who is not the home of God is a saint, for His presence alone can hallow mortal man. It is for this reason that true believers are always in "church," for we carry it about with us. We are not sanctified by any earthly edifice. We, like our Lord, hallow every building into which we enter, for God goes with us. When we are not in a "church" it is no more sacred than any other building. Yet every shelter which we enter, be it a hovel or a castle, is sanctified by the immanent Deity Who indwells us. I have lived in a tent and in a palace, but the tent was more filled with God's presence than the stately pile of marble, with its magnificent furnishings and costly paintings.

I have visited many of the magnificent piles of masonry dedicated to the worship of the Deity, but in none of them did I perceive the divine presence. The greatest of them all, St. Peter's at Rome, was disfigured with brazen statues of some distinguished saints. I kissed the toe of St. Peter, but he paid no attention to me. If he had been alive he would have been astonished that I would show him so much affection, when I was so partial to Paul. The worst defect of all, it seemed to me, was a row of brass lines set into the floor, showing the size of most of the other competitive cathedrals. These were there, evidently, to prove to all that St. Peter's was the biggest and best, that the others were inferior to Rome, the self-styled catholic (Greek down whole) or universal church. No other sect has such a grand edifice at its headquarters. Such pride is enough to shut God out of this dank and dim imitation of God's dwelling places in the past.

But I also went to St. Paul's, the chief competitor of St. Peter's. Not only was God absent from its dim interior, but not even Paul was there, and I did not even get to kiss his hand. It is good that Paul is no longer alive, for if he were to go to the cathedral which bears his name in London, and he were recognized as the heretic that he is, they might put him out. Big as it is, it is far too small for a saint of his stature. In neither St. Paul's nor in St. Peter's was there a place to rest. You had to stand. And that is quite in keeping with the atmosphere, for Christ is not there to give men rest.

I also visited other, lesser shrines, among them the cathedral at Cologne, with its delicately carved spires. I found nothing there that I cared to carry away, but across the street I bought some scented water for a friend. That smelled better than anything the cathedral had to offer.

In Venice, St. Mark's was different and interesting on account of its glass mosaics. I am not as much in sympathy with Mark as I am with Paul or even Peter, yet not even he was there, not to speak of the Deity.

The Dom in Berlin is not even a cathedral, I suppose, and is not nearly so imposing and ornate as the others I have mentioned, but, at least I heard a sermon in it, such as it was, and it was pervaded with a profound spirit of reverence which was not due to the building, but to the purpose for which it was used. Of course, had they known what a heretic I am, I might have been made very uncomfortable, to say the least, but my profound respect for Martin Luther, notwithstanding our differences in doctrine, helped me to overcome, to a considerable degree, that innate aversion with which I view all hand-made temples for the Deity. As if He could be housed in these oversized mausoleums, some of them actually filled with dead men's bones!

Let us be candid and confess that the Mohammedan mosques are treated with far more reverence and fear than Christian churches. I would warn my readers never to trespass carelessly on anything held sacred by the sons of Islam. They take their religion seriously, and will not brook the insolence of the infidel who treads their sacred sites without due signs of reverence. I well remember once, in Jerusalem, I had an appointment to visit the Dome of the Rock (commonly called the Mosque of Omar), the area on which Solomon's temple once stood. The day before, as I was near it, I thought it prudent to make sure of the way hither, so that I would know how to find it on the morrow. But, as I strode along thither, I was surprised and appalled by the scowls on the faces of the Arabs as I passed by their shops. I never would do that again. It seems that the area was closed at this time, and foreigners were forbidden to enter. I had no idea of going in, but the Arabs thought I was arrogantly flouting their sacred customs. It might have caused a riot.

When we did go in next day, we had to wear large slippers over our shoes and were in charge of a guide who could speak English. As he was very friendly (probably to please his purse) we were very well treated, and learned much about the place. The mosque was tawdry, and in need of repair, but the colors in the windows were richer than any I had seen elsewhere. The rock itself occupied the center, and, although it was nothing but a bare stone, with a eave in it, on which is supposed to be the site of the great altar where millions of animals shed their blood in order to foreshadow the precious blood of Christ, this spot awoke more reverential awe in my heart than all the cathedrals put together. God was not there, in the midst of a Mohammedan mosque, but there was an authentic memorial of that which spoke of the greatest event in universal history, the bloodshedding of the Christ of God, Who put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

Other and larger mosques I visited made no such impression upon my heart. There was much of interest to see in the great mosque in Cairo, an imitation, I was told, of the church of St. Sophia, in Constantinople. In Damascus there is a very large building. It was too late to see it when I arrived, so I told my guide that I would not risk it. He laughed, and said that he knew a way which was perfectly safe, only it would cost a few piasters. Sure enough, we were welcomed by the caretaker and shown all the objects of interest. Of course this duplicity rid it of all reverential awe for me. I had to revise my previous estimate of Mohammedans. Although baqsheesh was the chief object in the life of many of them, they did not even persist in this if you told them in Arabic, God will give to you! Then the worst villain's hand was held. But here, in the very house of their God, they were selling their sanctity for silver.


God's spirit is the sign of His presence today, not the visible glory of the shekinah. He homes in His hallowed permanently, not, as in Israel, so long as His people were faithful to Him. Of old God's spirit imparted a temporary power by coming on a favored few, now it gives life by homing in all who are hallowed. Here is the true place of prayer and worship today. Hearts hallowed by His spirit need no external house, no ornate furnishings, no aspiring steeples, no soul satisfying windows or musical instruments, to keep in constant communion with the indwelling, life-giving spirit of God. Anywhere, anyway, without visible "means of grace," without audible expression, our spirits may always abide prostrate in His presence in perfect affinity with His spirit, and constant communion, to praise and pray according to the promptings of Him Who is our All.

In the orient much is made of conforming the body to the spirit in prayer. Most men grovel in the dust, quite literally, before some high and mighty potentate. Even the direction toward which they face is important. Daniel had his windows open toward Jerusalem (Dan.6:10). Today, in a Mohammedan mosque, there is always some indication of the direction of Mecca, and all pray facing toward the sacred city. I well remember a venerable and impressive-looking Moslem on the train from Jaffa to Jerusalem, who performed his prayers before a whole car full of passengers, at the prescribed time, and, as nearly as possible, toward Mecca. This was difficult to do, as the roadway is a series of curves, and he could hardly have been correct most of the time. Old as he was, he knelt and bowed clear to the floor, again and again. I could not help admiring his perfect indifference to the many eyes that watched him in his genuflexions.

We are so accustomed to democratic manners that it does not strike us as the height of arrogance for the Pharisee to stand while presumably in the presence of his God, in the sacred precincts of the temple (Luke 18:11). He came quite close, but the tribute collector did not even dare to lift up so much as his eyes to heaven. Our Lord labelled as hypocrites those who were fond of "praying," standing in the synagogues and at the corner of the squares, so that they may be appearing to men. The good opinion of the audience was all the reward they got from their prayers! It is quite helpful to note the posture of anyone, when this is specially mentioned in the Scriptures. It is usually an expression of this spiritual attitude as well. It is a mark of high dignity when anyone may stand in the presence of God (Rev.8:2). Those who are worthy will be rewarded by being stationed in front of the Son of Mankind (Luke 21:36).

Solomon, richly endowed with the gift of wisdom, before he begins his memorable prayer at the dedication of the temple he had built for the worship of Jehovah in Jerusalem, undoubtedly placed his body in a posture concordant with its contents. He kneeled on his knees in front of the assembly of Israel and spread out his palms heavenward. The way he prayed conformed to his words. When the people saw him, even if they could not catch every word that he said, they were impressed by his attitude of abasement before Jehovah, his God, and by the outspread palms, which suggested to them the offering of his work to the Deity.


To kneel, brk in Hebrew, also means to bless. Abraham's servant, when he came to the city of Nahor, in Mesopotamia, caused his camels to ebrik, which may mean either cause to kneel or cause to bless. We have lost the significance of this act, but Israel was always reminded of it by their language. So the very attitude of prayer, as a rule, signified the first requirement, that there must be blessing in the heart of the petitioner. We seldom read of this in the Hebrew Scriptures. Psa.95:6, A.V. "Let us kneel before the Lord," may be the only other occurrence, yet the word is rendered bless hundreds of times. In Chaldee, however, we have one other example. When Daniel knew that the decree was signed that forbade him to make any petition to God for thirty days, he went into his house, his windows being open toward Jerusalem, and he knelt on his knees three times a day (Dan.6:10).

Our Lord seemed to take it for granted that, if anyone fell on his knees to Him intuitively, that one was well disposed, and He, on His part, blessed him. The first occurrence in the Greek Scriptures is the man whose son was an epileptic (Matt.17:14). The second was when the soldiers of the governor mocked His kingly crown with a wreath of thorns (Matt.27:29; Mark 14:19). Besides, there was the leper, whom He cleansed (Mark 1:40), and Peter, after the miraculous multitude of fishes (Luke 5:8). Only the rich man did not receive a blessing from his kneeling. He wished to know what he should do in order to acquire eonian life. Doing is deadly, and does not lead to life, even when he seemed to come in the attitude of blessing. If he earned life by doing, why should he bless the Giver of life eonian?

Only once do we read of our Lord kneeling in prayer (Luke 22:41). This was the time when He approached nearest to us in our infirmities, and the ordeal before Him seemed insupportable. Then it was that he cried, "carry aside this cup from Me." But, both before and after, He abased Himself by making all subject to the two great operative principles that must ever characterize the true Deity--His intention and His will. Christ did not set Himself up as a rival Deity, with a purpose and a plan which is irrevocable. Rather, He took His place in acquiescence to the Father's intention and will. He bowed the knee to Him, and made no move to over-rule Him when their wills did not coincide. He is always subject, and will be even at the consummation, after He has brought back the universe to God, the Father's, heart (1 Cor.15).

Twice we have kneeling associated with the Circumcision in Acts. First we read of Stephen. When he was stoned he knelt and prayed for blessing on his assassins (Acts 7:60). Saul of Tarsus saw this. Peter knelt when he prayed and revived the body of Dorcas (Acts 9:40). This was followed by the housetop vision which led to the blessing of Cornelius.

Paul speaks of kneeling and blessing more than anyone else in the Scriptures. Twice we find him kneeling with the saints at the sea shore, a type of the boundary between Israel and the nations. Why did he send to Ephesus for the elders instead of going there? Their spiritual position was the sea, so they had to come down to Miletus. Kneeling with them all he prayed. Later, they received all the blessings of the so-called Ephesian epistle. Again, when he was about to leave Tyre, they knelt on the beach, presaging the blessing of the nations.

Bowing the knee is a fine figure indicative of blessing, either as desired or as appreciated. We have lost its significance in the western world, and think of it as a token of reverence or submission. It will, of course, include these qualities, but submission, in the Scriptures, is more clearly and picturesquely shown by placing the foot or the hand on the scruff, the nape of the neck (Gen.49:8; 2 Sam.22:41). Reverence is really a far deeper emotion, and demands more than genuflexion. Abram fell on his face, when God spoke to him (Gen.17:3,17). Daniel even fell on his face before Gabriel. The prone position is the lowest that a mortal can take, and is specially fitting when in the presence of the Deity, for then the spirit is also prostrate. In my own experience, in the most agonizing of my prayers, I unwittingly bury my face and lie prostrate. Unless this is done naturally, from the heart, it is a mockery. But it may express the deepest reverence of which our spirits are capable.

On four occasions Paul uses the phrase "bow the knee." Not realizing its proper import, most of us lose the full weight of these words, and make them a mere symbol of unwilling, forced surrender. That this is very far from its force may be seen when Paul uses it of himself (Eph.3:14). He bows his knees to his Father, asking for blessing for the saints. If Paul was compelled it must have been the compulsion of love, for his whole petition is replete with his desire for supernal blessing for the saints.

Bowing the knee to Baal was also done in order to receive blessing. Baal means possessor, and was used freely for a woman's husband (Gen.20:3) or owners of animals or houses or land. Those who bowed to Baal hoped to come into the blessings he possessed, instead of seeking them from the hand of Jehovah (Rom.11:4).

The two other occurrences in Paul's epistles have much in common. They look forward to the time when every knee shall bow, either to the Lord God (Rom.14:11) or in the name of Jesus, for it will be the name above every name, seeing that it presents Him as Jehovah the Saviour (Phil.2:10). In the future few things will so pitilessly expose the hardness of the human heart, as the orthodox perversion of these precious passages. Those who have already been blessed in Christ Jesus should exult to learn that, in the future, there will be bliss for all, not only for themselves. Above this, they should revel in the thought that God will not lose aught by the tragedy of the eons. Rather they are the needed background for that future bliss, which will enable all His creatures to enjoy the blessings which were stored in His heart from the beginning.

In contrast to the glorious, eternal Pauline evangel, we read of the paralyzed knees of those of the Circumcision who hoped for the coming of the kingdom (Heb.12:12). By basing blessing partly on themselves, their conduct and continuance, they forfeited the bliss that comes only from God, apart from human interference. May we never do this! May our knees never be paralyzed by building our bliss on our behaviour, rather than on the exclusive, unfathomable all-victorious grace of God!


Our Lord told His disciples, "Where two or three are gathered into My Name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matt.18:20). If that was true of them, how much more so of us, in each of whom God's spirit homes! This He said to them in reference to requests in which several are agreed. The members of the present ecclesia have much more in common than they had. Fellowship in praise and worship, especially in the recollection of the Lord's death, as well as mutual edification by teaching and exhortation is a very precious privilege none of those should forego who are vitally united by the same spirit. To join with others in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs (Eph.5:19; Col.3:16), making melody in our hearts, and voicing it with our tongues, is a form of worship which warms the heart of God and His Anointed.

One reason why the praise and prayer in our churches is so soulish or insincere is because the ecclesia as a whole, as evident in its local expressions, is so ignorant of the riches of His grace, and fails to appreciate the wealth of His favor. That is why, in these days, a teaching ministry should be encouraged. The prime object of such a service should not be an accumulation of facts, or mere knowledge, but such a revelation of God's grace and love as will bring the saints into constant fellowship with God in prayer and fill the hearts with overflowing praise for His grace. Teaching should bear fruit for God in worship and adoration.

As an ecclesia we have unutterably more for which to praise and adore our Saviour and our God than Israel ever had or ever will have. The blessings of the Circumcision on the earth cannot compare with our spiritual blessings among the celestials. Our praise should far exceed theirs in its fervor and elevation. Let us give it full expression when we gather together. Let us not make the mistake of the Corinthians (1 Cor.11:20-22) of debasing the spiritual fellowship we should have as saints into a social gathering or a soulish feast, which may indeed give pleasure to our souls and feed our bodies, but is far beneath the spiritual bond which makes us one. These things are necessary, but should be kept in their proper place.

The place of meeting of an ecclesia or the posture of its members is of little consequence today. God probably gets more worship from a few handfuls in halls or homes than He receives from all the great congregations in our churches and cathedrals. And the broken utterance of a humble heart that feels free to stand before Him in Christ's worthiness is much more coveted by His heart than an oratorical invocation accompanied by deep genuflections and prostrations. Approach to God is not a matter of place or posture in this dispensation of spirit, when the outward and material is eclipsed by the inner essence. Place and posture play no part in our praise and prayer today, either alone or in the ecclesia, for God is spirit, and must be worshiped in spirit and in truth.


ALL IS out of God and through Christ, hence prayer is to God, the Father, through our Lord, Jesus Christ. If Christ Himself were the Deity, and we directed our prayers to Him, we would lack a channel, a means of approach to God. That is why some turn to Mary, His mother, and put their prayers through her to her Son, and call her "the mother of God." But she has no fitness for such a function. Christ is the antitype of the Hebrew ritual. He is the Way to God because He is the true Tabernacle, in Whom God dwelt, and He is the one Sacrifice of whom all the others were but shadows. Even as the Israelite could draw near to God only through the ritual and the offerings, so we cannot approach except in the name of our, Saviour and Lord, Christ Jesus.

In prayer to God, moreover, it is well always to remember that He is related to us in various characters, and we should use the name or title which is appropriate to our petition. Literally He is the Disposer, Who is operating everything, and Jehovah, Who is arranging all in the eonian times. He is the Deity. Figuratively, in contrast to His creatures. He is the Supreme, far above them all, and the Almighty or All-Sufficient, because He depends upon none, yet all depend upon Him. Figuratively, He is also likened to humanity in the title Lord, because all men are merely slaves. But, best of all, He is the Father of the faithful now, and will become the Father of all at the consummation, for He it is Who loves us as an earthly father his own offspring, and who provides for all our needs during the time of our infancy and childhood and minority, as an earthly parent for his progeny.

Therefore, if we desire to have something done which is beyond the power of mortal man, our prayers should appeal to God, or the Deity (which is only a shorter form of the same word in Hebrew), for He, in the beginning, was the Creator of all, the front of all power and wisdom and love. Indeed, it is seldom that we can pray without mentioning the Deity, for He alone is or has or can do all that we desire. All others are creatures like ourselves, impotent and poor and dependent upon Him for all their needs as well as we. Even if we receive aught from one of His creatures, they can only channel to us, what they have received from Him. So we should go to the Source, that we may give Him the thanks and the glory that should be His alone.


In Israel, the eonian nation, with a special mission to fulfill during the eonian times, God was revealed by a special name, Jehovah, as the One Who is, and Who was, and Who is coming (Rev.1:8). This was most appropriate for the nation to whom the promises of earthly glory and supremacy were made, for these looked back to the past, through the present, to the future. A large part of Israel's prayers consisted in reminding Jehovah of His promises and in beseeching for their fulfillment. The name Jehovah is the seal that guarantees that all His covenants with them and promises to them will eventually be carried out. For this He has set a day, and, most appropriately, has named it the day of Jehovah. But we will have no part in that earthly millennium. That is reserved for the favored nation.

In his precious little monograph, "A Plea for Reverence," Sir Robert Anderson protests against the line, "Safe in the arms of Jesus," because it is unduly intimate, too lacking in reverence. In this we heartily agree. He suggests that it be changed to "Safe in Jehovah's keeping." But we cannot fully endorse this, not because it is not true, but because the title is not appropriate at the present period. We are reminded of the time when Israel prayed to Jehovah, yet God it was, Who answered by dealing with another nation. Even our Lord did not answer the cry of an alien woman when she addressed Him as Son of David. Only when she appealed to Him as her Lord, (which He was), did He attend to her needs. I would suggest the song be changed to "Safe in our Saviour's Keeping," or "Safe in the Father's Keeping." This is reverent, and the terms used are in harmony with the thought of safety, and conform to our relationship to God and His Christ today.


Jesus means Jehovah is Saviour, and is the personal name used to identify God's only begotten Son during the days of His humiliation and death. It is used alone, without any title, very seldom in Paul's epistles. It is almost always accompanied by Lord, or Christ, or both, in acknowledgement of His inherent and official dignities. When a ruler is addressed by his personal name it may easily be taken as an insult, or a denial of his place and power. Among his family or relations the president of a country might be addressed by his private names without giving offense, but it would be very unwise for those over whom he rules to omit his title. And shall we, His saints, fail to give Him His proper place in our prayers, and not call our Master Lord, and our Saviour Christ?

There are times when it is quite fitting for us to use His personal name alone, as in commencing the preceding paragraph, but these are very rare. Whenever we wish to isolate Him as a private Man, apart from His offices and glories, it is proper to omit His titles. For instance, when the apostle speaks of the faith of Jesus (Rom.3:26). It is especially felicitous when the name refers to the depth of His humiliation, when all His high honors were in eclipse, and when He, as the suffering Sacrifice, gave it a glory which exalts it above every name, that, at His name every knee should be bowing and every tongue acclaiming that Jesus Christ is Lord. Let us not fail to note that, though the name of His degradation calls it forth, the acclaim adds the titles which it deserves. He is both Lord and Christ.

When it is a question of earthly rule or worship outside the nation of Israel, the proper title, by which God was given His proper place, was "the Most High," or the Supreme. In the days of Melchizedek there were many gods, with many priests. So each nation usually had its own gods, but high above them all was the Supreme, and He had only one priest, who officiated for all the nations. Abram recognized him and gave him tithes. It was the Supreme Who apportioned to the nations their allotments (Deut.32:8). As this title has to do with supremacy of the nations and their rulers, it is hardly fitting in our petitions today.

The Allmighty or All-Sufficient is another title which is hardly appropriate to the present. It occurs often in the Unveiling, but only once in Paul's writings, in a quotation from the prophet Isaiah (2 Cor.6:18; Isa.52:11). He appeared to Abram after the latter had tried to help Him fulfill the promise of a seed, and had generated Ishmael. This title was to assure Abram that God had sufficient resources to carry out His given word. Hence it reappears again in the Unveiling when He fulfills the promises. This would often be appropriate today, were it not that we have a much nearer and dearer relationship to God since Christ has come and brought us into God's family, and we can call Him our Father. As such He not only supplies all our needs, but the loving care which even a poverty stricken father may lavish upon his children.


Before His Son was manifested, God as Father was almost unknown. Isaiah puts into the mouths of the people a prayer in which they appeal to Jehovah by this figure, and combine with it His character as Potter and Maker (Isa.64:8):

And now, Jehovah, our Father art Thou.
We are the clay, Thou art the Potter,
And the doing of Thy hands are all of us.

But this was not so much a personal relationship as a national one, for it did not take in all mankind, yet included those against whom He was wroth, for their depravity.

In the Psalms, where we would expect this endearing term, it seems to be entirely absent, except by way of contrast (Psa.37:10):

In case my father and mother forsake me,
Yet Jehovah will gather me in.

In Malachi the figure of father is used, but rather to show that Israel did not act accordingly. Jehovah expostulates with them, saying (Mal.1:6): "A son glorifies a father, and a servant his lord. Yet, should I be a Father, where is My glory?" They failed to glorify Him for His care and provision, as they should. He was not acknowledged as a father.

Again the prophet charges them with conduct incompatible with God's fatherhood and creatorship, and asks, "Is there not one Father for us all? Is not one Deity our Creator" (Mal.2:10)? But of appealing to God as a loving and affectionate Father, Who provides for their needs, and cares for their welfare, there is not the slightest intimation. The oft-quoted occurrence, in Isa.9:6, which makes the Son the "Everlasting Father," is most confusing, for the figure of "father" is the complement of "son," and cannot well be applied to the same one in the same connection. One of the Greek versions reads abi (father) as abia (bring) which is far more suitable. The line should read, Counsel to the mighty shall He bring, instead of "Counselor, the Mighty God, the [Everlasting] Father."

In contrast to this the term father is used many times of the forefathers of the nation of Israel. To them Jehovah made great promises, and these were used in prayer to Him in order to bring down blessing. The patriarchies, the physical, literal progenitors of that people, stood between them and Him. This seems to have hindered a closer spiritual relationship, such as now exists, between God and His saints by faith.

After God's Son had appeared in flesh, in the so-called "New Testament," the term Father is used of God twice as often as it is used of men. This is an eloquent commentary on the fact that God Himself has literally begotten a Son, and as a consequence, He is related to mankind by a new tie, which will eventually include the whole race, at the consummation. The Son, as His Christ, or Anointed, will rule as King, but when the kingdom is handed over to God, He does not become King but Father (1 Cor.15:24). The final relationship of all will not be a kingdom, but a family. This is the perpetual name which will keep on gathering hearts into the circle of God's love until all are found within its embrace at the consummation. It is the full-flavored fruit of the eonian times, with all its evil and suffering, for mortals learn by sad experience only how helpless they are in themselves, and how to value and appreciate His loving care.

I have heard of some who refer to God as Father at all times and all occasions. Some have actually gone through their Bibles and changed God to Father throughout. I have much sympathy for this, but deplore its lack of intelligent appreciation of other aspects of God's character, especially His deity. He is related to us by other ties as well, such as Creator and Saviour. And Father limits Him to us and our needs, while God connects Him to all His creatures, even those who do not know Him in this filial relationship. It is God Who loves the world. The Father is confined to the family. In our service we should acknowledge Him as our Lord, and our prayers in regard to His work should be prefaced by this title.

The spirit of sonship that we have received causes us to instinctively cry "Abba, Father" (Rom.8:13; Gal.4:6)! And this leads us to add to the title God the further fact that He is our Father, when appealing to Him in prayer. We not only have a much closer relationship to Him than the title "God" implies, but it expresses a tenderness and sympathy which men do not usually associate with the Deity. As God He is related to all His creatures, but as Father He is restricted to those of mankind who have received His spirit. To some extent we appreciate His provision, and thank Him for His blessings. We anticipate the grand goal of all, in spirit, long before all are made alive and reconciled to God at the consummation.

It is well, at times, to enlarge upon the name or title that we use by adding the special attributes which are uppermost in our hearts at the time. Paul, in the midst of his trials, blesses Him as the Father of pities, and the God of all consolation (2 Cor.1:3). In view of the transcendent grace which has come to the nations, so that we have a much nearer and higher place than He gave to Israel, the favored nation, we may address Him as the glorious Father, or Father glorious (Eph.1:17).


We have considered the direct approach to our God and Father, based on our relationship to Him. Yet, in our highest efforts to bless Him, we should remind Him of the One through whom alone we can approach into His presence. He is not only our God and our Father, but the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. We may rest assured that it is no great honor that we confer upon Him when we acknowledge God as our Father. We are persuaded that, in ourselves, we are a disgrace to Him, and have no right to claim Him as either Father or God. But what a contrast when we think of our Saviour, Who brought infinite an endless glory to His name through His mediatorial work! He is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. That means much to Him!

He is the God of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is not the great Unknown, Unloving Creator and Operator of all, but the God Who has revealed His heart through a Mediator, through Whom He will save and reconcile all to Himself. What can be more acceptable to Him than to be reminded of the fact that He is the God of the One Who, through his humiliation and shame, as well as His glorious reign, will restore sevenfold what seemed to have been utterly lost? On several occasions, Paul commences an epistle with this, the fullest and finest of all the titles of the Deity (2 Cor.1:3; Eph.1:3; Col.1:3). It has a richness and preciousness which appeals to all who would like to look beyond their own happiness and revel in the blessings which our Lord, Jesus Christ, has brought to our God and Father.

What vast values and high honors are expressed by the full name and title of our Saviour! Whenever we think of Him as our Lord, let us remember that, in serving and obeying Him, we are also pleasing His God. And whenever we adore Him as Jesus, that is, Jehovah the Saviour, let us not forget that it was His Father Who sent Him, and His God Who forsook Him for our salvation. And whenever we exult in the glories of His anointing, may we discern that He was God's Christ first of all, His Messiah, as Prophet, to make known His mind to all His creatures, as King to rule, not only the earth, but to reign in the heavens as well, as Priest to bring back mankind to Him and reconcile the universe to God.

I am persuaded that it pleases our God when we, in praise and prayer, remind Him, not only of our relationship to Him by grace, but of His glorious place as the God and Father of the One through Whom all our blessings come. This seems most fitting at the beginning of our prayers, when we preface them with praise, and bless His name, before we descend to petitions and requests which lie upon our hearts. And at the close, if we intelligently realize the vast value of His work, and the deep desire in the heart of God to honor Him, we will close our prayer and clinch our petition by disavowing any right or worthiness of our own, but base all on the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Through Him, to God, be praise and glory for the eons!


The title Lord is taken from the social inequalities that have arisen among men. It is often used of kings, or masters of slaves, of the head of a household, or even as a polite recognition of superiority, as when Jacob called Esau his lord (Gen.32:18,19). The Hebrew literally refers to an ADJUDICATOR, the Greek a SANTIONER, but, in usage, it was applied to any social superior. Hence it is most appropriately applied to the Lord of lords (Rev.19:16). Socially, our Lord, Jesus Christ, is superior in rank to all men and messengers. As His slaves, in spirit, it is peculiarly appropriate that we recognize Him as our Lord in every prayer connected with service, and pray to God in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, when we wish to have fellowship with Him in His work.


We instinctively present our wishes to the one who is capable of fulfilling them. There is a colorful contrast between the Pharisee and the tribute collector in this regard. Our Lord told the story to those who had confidence in themselves, so really could not pray at all, except as a formal religious exercise, in order to be seen by men, and to earn a reputation for piety among the people. Every particular mentioned in connection with the Pharisee was characteristic. He stood. He was even thankful because he was so good! Yet He did not pray to God, but to himself. He had no need of a God, or a Father. Perhaps we should not include this in our study of "prayer." But, alas! how much that goes by this name is directed, like a boomerang, to come back to the one who prays! It is the lowest depth to which a religionist can sink, for he puts himself in the place of God. Let us beware that not the least of this spirit ever enters into our petitions (Luke 18:11). There is always the danger that we consider ourselves sufficient without God in some regard.


Few who read this will even think of approaching God through the interposition of some so-called "saint," or, worse yet, seek to reach Jesus through the mediacy of His mother. But there may be some who pray to Jesus, with the mistaken idea that He is more approachable than the Deity, and that He will present their petitions to His Father. All of this puts God in an altogether false light, and is most unacceptable and offensive to Him. Moreover, it fails utterly to appreciate the value and efficacy of Christ's sacrifice, which has opened a way right into the very presence of God. His Name, with all that it implies, is a full and perfect passport into the divine presence. We should not praise or pray without using it, but we should always acknowledge His high honors as God's Christ or our Lord at the same time. Even among mortals it may be an insult to address a man by his bare name, without his proper title.


It is especially appropriate at the present time to speak of Him as Christ Jesus, putting the office first, just as we do with earthly dignitaries. We speak of King George the fifth, and President Truman, when we refer to their social or political elevation. So, it were well to call Him Who was once Jesus Christ in His humiliation, now rather Christ Jesus, which suggests His exaltation. Almost all our blessing comes to us through His death and glorification. Hence it is especially fitting to remind His Father of the place which is His at God's right hand. We should be like the retinue of an emperor, who always display their loyalty by the titles which they employ in referring to his majesty.

There is only One to Whom we should pray, and only One through Whom to approach the Deity. May it be our blessed privilege to give each their proper place, and ascribe to each their appropriate glory! In our praise it is especially pleasing to Him when we recognize and remind God of the many excellencies of His Son, and this can be done by approaching Him in His name alone, for He is the only Way into the divine Presence, and by applying to Him those appellations and titles which, in themselves, crown Him with the glories and graces granted to Him by God and gained by means of His gracious condescension into the dust of death, in order to reveal God's heart and to restore His creatures to His bosom.


THANKFULNESS for favors received, for prayers answered, for benefits enjoyed, should arise from every grateful heart. But this falls far short of our privileges for today. Prayer should be accompanied by thanksgiving, before the answer comes, along with the petition. That is the faith that honors God! Let us be grateful that He will not blindly obey our behests. Let us give thanks that He will do only what is for His glory, which alone is our good. If we realize only a little of our own folly and feebleness we will be overwhelmingly grateful for every apparent failure to get what we want, for there can be no doubt that it would have been bad for us and against the glory of God. We are instinctively appreciative of receiving what we want, but let us thank Him in advance for sending only that which accords with His intention.

Thanksgiving is not based on a thing or a theory, but on life, experience, action and rejoicing. Like the vivifying revelation which God has given us, the very form in which it is expressed conforms to its vital message. As it is such a brief and beautiful example of the divine mode of expression, we will set forth its literary structure, or skeleton. Read down the left side and up the right. The center only calls attention to the theme of each line, which is repeated in reverse (Phil.4:4).

[READ DOWN]                   

                      [READ UP]
Be rejoicing in              [what]                be rejoicing
the Lord          [who]           I will declare,
always!     [when]      Again,


Joy is the beginning and end of God's eonian operations. In anticipation, the morning stars sang together at the start, and at the close all creation will exult in the consummation. If the cosmos has such glorious boundaries, why should not we microcosms have a similar experience? I have been told that every atom is a miniature of the material world. Let us rejoice in remembrance of God's choice of us and His call and the salvation He has provided, and the place we have in His Christ. Let us enjoy the prospect of the glory that lies before us, for we surely will exult when the fulfillment comes. So shall our thanksgiving be the link between the joy of anticipation and the rejoicing of realization. And therefore it should always accompany prayer, not as a delayed and non-essential afterthought, but as the leading feature. Every petition should commence with thanks or worship.

The two most important prayers for us are those imbedded in the first chapters of Ephesians, which are the models for our imitation. In the first chapter, before he prays, Paul begins by blessing God for His grace (verse 3), and, after having detailed our blessings, he gives thanks (verse 16) before he prays that the saints may enter into a realization of their bliss. There is rare rejoicing in what God has done for us in the past and what He proposes for the future, with Paul's petition in between. Prayer is but the link between past and future joys. If this is realized in our hearts, it will always be flavored by grateful praise of Him to Whom it is directed.


The second point of importance in this sentence is Who. We may rejoice briefly in many things and in a multiplicity of persons. But the chief source of genuine joy for us will center about two, One the Source and the other the Channel of our greatest and most lasting blessings. Only in God and His Christ is the spring perennial of perfect and eternal bliss, and only through the apostle of the nations comes the transcendent grace to us, the least deserving of all God's creatures. It is to Paul's declarations that we must turn if we wish to fully enjoy the special and supernal blessings in store for us among the celestials.

But the bliss here bestowed is not alone that which comes through a realization of our place in Christ, but that which is connected with our service in the Lord. It is comparatively easy to be happy in Him, but may seem beyond us to rejoice in the performance of His work, for then we come into contact, if not collision, with our fellows. Then we are likely to have ample cause for sadness and sorrow and despair, due to the persecutions and calumnies, not only from the world, but from our fellow saints, as well as the fiery arrows of our spirit Adversaries. Here is where most of His people fail. As they do not believe God creates evil, they cannot well rejoice when it jolts them, for they think it must come from the devil, and is contrary to God's intention. It is only when we see that God uses evil as well as good, for His eonian operations, that we can rejoice in very much that befalls us in this life.

Paul is the only pipe line which will convey to us the wine which works in us to produce the joy ineffable wrought by the transcendent grace of God's present operations. Whenever the vintage of this economy is adulterated by the admixture of other times, it deteriorates, and nothing so marks the difference as the lessened measure of delight which it produces. And the flavor, too, is different. The soulish cheer of other eras tends toward sensuality, but the purely spiritual satisfaction and felicity which is poured out for us by Paul charges our spirits with celestial nectar prescient of that which will be our portion in His presence. If any of God's creatures should be glad, we should rejoice more, for we alone are the subjects of grace transcendent. No others were so undeserving, and none have received so much. We are at the summit of God's climacteric plan to reveal His heart.


We should have no difficulty in fixing upon the proper season for rejoicing. Israel concentrated most of its joy upon the harvest festival of tabernacles, beginning on the fifteenth day of the seventh month. For seven days they were to rejoice (Lev.23:40). Yet at some other times they were to afflict their souls (32). They were to be cut off from among their people if they did not afflict their souls on the tenth day of the seventh month (Lev.23:27-32). So must it be under that immature, enigmatic administration. What a contrast with us! When are we charged to afflict our souls? Never! When shall we set aside a time to rejoice? Holidays? Sundays? Birthdays? Anniversaries? Why not? But these, numerous as they may be in some lands, are far from enough. We should rejoice always! Again and again!


A most remarkable feature of Biblical Hebrew is the absence of a distinct term for thanks. The words so rendered in our Authorized Version are translated more consistently by other expressions. The most of them should be acclaim, although they render this word by praise in a number of instances, and praise is used by them mostly for ell irradiate, idiomatically praise, especially in the phrase, "Praise the Lord!" or Jehovah. It is sad that such a significant fact should be hid from us because of a discordant version. The law did not generate thankfulness, but self-acclamation. Even when the Pharisee had a word for thanks in Greek, he misused it. He thanked God that he was not as the rest of men, when he should have confessed that he was far worse, though in a decent and religious way. The word bless seems to have done duty in place of thanks, in Hebrew.

Such an incredible fact needs all the confirmation it can get, so I turned up the Greek concordance of the Septuagint, and called a witness to confirm my findings. Sure enough, the verb thank eucharistein occurs no more than six times in the whole book! And the noun eucharistia only four! Hold! All of these are in the Apocrypha! There are only two other forms, each with a single occurrence. One is also in the uninspired books. Only one, thankful eucharistos has a Hebrew equivalent. In Prov.11:16 it is used for the Hebrew grace chn, rendered, "a gracious woman retaineth honor" in the Authorized Version. Tentatively, the C.V. reads: "A gracious wife is upholding glory." If this is the only place the Greek translators felt the need of using the word thank in the whole Hebrew scriptures, we may be sure that the thing itself was very scarce.

Confession and acclamation are variants of the same word in Hebrew. It is simply the verb of the noun hand. We use the same idiom in English when we say, "Give him a hand!" Then we all clap our palms in approval, as an acclamation. But in Hebrew it is most significant and suggestive that self-acclamation denotes confession! Literally rendered Leviticus 5:5 would read: in case he is guilty as to one of these, then he is to acclaim himself in what he sins. And, in 16:21, Aaron lays both his hands over the live goat, and self-acclaims (confesses) over it all the depravities of the sons of Israel, and all their transgressions and all their sins. May we all learn the lesson of the Hebrew language, that the only self-acclamation before God must be confession (Lev.5:5; 16:21; 26:40; Num.5:7)!

Under the law, the very nature of things demanded confession when approaching God in prayer. So we find, when Israel was manifestly under the displeasure of Jehovah, in the deportation, that Ezra and Nehemiah and Daniel prefaced their prayers by confession, rather than thanksgiving. Their prayers are most instructive and helpful, but we must not imitate them on that account, for we are not under law, and are not unduly concerned with ourselves, now that we want no righteousness of our own, and have the righteousness of God. We should put thanksgiving for deliverance from sin in place of confession.

When Ezra prayed he confessed, weeping and falling before the house of God (Ezra 10:1). Coming together to him from Israel is a very vast assembly of men and women and children, for the people weep with increased weeping. Then one of the men of Israel said to Ezra: "We have offended against our God and dwell with foreign wives, from the peoples of the land. Yet now, forsooth, there is expectation for Israel on this account. And now we will contract a covenant with our God to bring forth all the wives and the children from them, by the counsel of Jehovah and those who tremble at the instruction of our God, and according to the law shall it be done."

Under the law confession was not enough. There had to be a rectification of the wrong and a forsaking of the sin. Israel's principal sin had been the taking of foreign wives. As the law specifically forbids this (Ex.34:16; Deut.7:3,4), they were forced to put them away.

Nehemiah is a refreshing character, the political counterpart of Ezra, the priest. The priest's principal business was to deal with the sins of others, and so Nehemiah might have confined his confession to the sons of Israel, for he was seeking to recover them from the effects of their transgressions. In accord with the era and God's limited revelation at the time, he wept and mourned for days, and fasted before he prayed. But there is no grace in his words. He prays to the great and fearful God, Who keeps His covenant and has mercy for them who love Him and keep His instructions. First he beseeches for an audience, for he feels that God would not hear his prayer which he prays day and night, for the sons of Israel, His servants. Then he confesses the sins of Israel, especially lie and his father's household, and claims an answer on the ground of their conduct (Neh.1:4-11).

Daniel is also in full harmony with the times in which he lived. He prayed, confessing to the great and fearful Jehovah, Who keeps the covenant and kindness for those who love Him, and for those who keep His instructions (Dan.9:4). He confesses the sins of the people as one of them: "We sin and are depraved, and we are wicked, and we revolt, and we withdraw from Thy instructions and from Thy judgments. And we do not hearken to Thy servants, the prophets, who speak in Thy name to our kings, our chiefs, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land" (Dan. 9:5-7). It was the seventy years' of deportation from their own land which wrought repentance and prayer in the heart of Israel, as expressed by their spokesman, Daniel. Grace is well-nigh absent. Even confession is not enough. Hearing and blessing depends on their conduct, not on God's grace. Is not that the reason why thanksgiving is not there?


It is a blessed truth that Christ may appear at any moment, and that the Lord may soon descend to call us away to His presence where rejoicing will fill our hearts forevermore, but that is not all. In spirit the Lord is near now. If we realize this, it will help us greatly in our relations with others, especially in their unjust dealings with us. If we stood alone, with no hope of righting our wrongs, it would tend to make us bitter and severe. But, with Him at hand, we know that all will be adjusted in due time, and, in the meanwhile, is part of His plan for us, hence we are able to be lenient and forbearing. In these last days of inordinate selfishness it is very difficult to make our lenience known, for the most flagrant wrongs are considered rights, so that our very lenience may be denounced, or used as evidence against us. But this must be expected in a period which is perilous (2 Tim.3:1), when men are ferocious like the demoniacs of the Gergesenes (Matt.8:28). How much worse would it be if the Lord were not near!


Why should we not worry? The saints have read these words again and again throughout this era, and still many kept on being fretful and fearful, sad and concerned for the future. They failed and still fail to grasp that God is for them, so that nothing can be against them. They still imagine that they are heard for their much speaking, or, perhaps, lack blessing because of their lack of prayer. Some even express their anxiety in "persevering" prayer, afraid that all would go wrong if they should cease to worry the Deity with their supplication and intercession. Such prayer is not based upon rejoicing and seldom commences with genuine thanksgiving. It is not the prayer of faith, but of unbelief.


All of the saints have some consciousness that Christ died for their sins and that they are saved, but they may still be afraid of the Deity. Some have gone further and have peace with God by receiving the conciliation, and are reconciled to Him through the death of His Son for His enemies. Beyond that are those who enjoy justification as a result of His resurrection. But few, indeed, have entered into the peace of God, that tranquillity which is His because He is guiding all to His predetermined goal, and uses evil as well as good in the course of His operations. From the very beginning He knew the end, and planned every detail in between. Nothing ever has or can go wrong. Everything today is just as He foresaw it. For Him the future is as settled as the past. What has He to worry about?

With us it is otherwise. Apart from God, we do not really know the past, let alone the future. Very little of it is according to our plans. Perhaps much of it was contrary to our wishes and expectations. We have no guarantee whatever of the future, except gradual dissolution and death. The young and the careless may have much to rejoice in, and to distract their minds, so that they do not worry. But the aged and thoughtful may well fear for the future. Many seek freedom from worry by various diversions and try to drown their dread in drink. These should have our heartfelt sympathy. Let us not look askance at worry. Like all other evil it has a part to play, and a very, important one, in God's plans. Apart from God it is no proof of superior mentality not to worry. In fact it is illogical not to do so.

Our mail is flooded with announcements of philosophies which promise happiness and health, wisdom and wealth to all who will comply with the conditions and pay for the instructions. Some of them even claim to get their "principles" out of the Bible. They all promise success by developing something inherent in man. Some of them may even contain hints that would help if mankind were not mortal. As I pay hardly any attention to them, I speak only of the general impression that I receive from their propaganda. I cannot remember any that did not look upon failure, or sin, as an excrescence which ought to be removed, instead of a divine provision for humiliating and teaching mankind in preparation for future "success."

Once we see that all is of God, sin as well as success, and that He is using, all to bring about that perfect consummation, with not a single deviation from the preordained plan, we will be able to understand that He, at least, is at perfect peace, so far as the course of the universe and the creatures in it are concerned. This is the peace of God. This may be ours. This will enable us to refrain from worry and to pray with thanksgiving. In the midst of the warring factions of this world it will guard our hearts like a garrison of soldiers. Even when our minds fluctuate and vacillate with the vicissitudes of existence, this peace will rise superior to every change. Without it, proper and acceptable prayer today is hardly possible. With it, every petition will be crowned with the halo of thanksgiving.


GOD'S WORD AND WORK should be the special subject of persevering prayer by the saints in this administration of God's grace. Paul's epistles provide the precepts, and Paul himself is our pattern in this, as in all else (1 Cor.4:16; 11:1; 1 Thess.1:6; Phil.3:17). He prayed for us that God would give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation, in order to know Him (Eph.1:17). He pled with the saints to pray for the secret of the evangel (Eph.6:18), and of Christ (Col.4:2), and for deliverance from those who opposed his message (Rom.15:30). May we give these a special place in our petitions!

Since the shadows are past and the light of noonday is shining in Paul's evangel to the nations, we should search his epistles if we desire to discover God's mind as to prayer for the present. To accord with our unparalleled nearness to Him in spirit, it is given a much larger place there than in any other part of God's revelation. More than half of the doctrinal division of Ephesians, which is preeminently the charter of the church, is presented in a series of prayers ! God, instead of telling us directly of the transcendent grace which He lavishes upon us, puts this in the heart of Paul in the shape of a petition for us, thus enhancing their preciousness by the very form in which they appear.

One who has been enlightened by God's holy spirit through Paul's epistles will find that it operates in complete harmony with His Word. When the glorious gospel of the conciliation becomes ours, the burden is laid upon our hearts to reach others with it. When the secret of Christ's headship over all dawns upon us, we wish to herald it abroad. When we learn of our own celestial honors, we are pressed to share these glories with all the saints. When we find out that all mankind will be saved, who can stop us from making it known? All these things, received through God's spirit, spontaneously ascend and return to Him as sweet incense, the thanksgiving and petition and prayer. And when these truths are opposed, we cannot help pleading for those who hinder, as well as those who help to make them known.

The dire need of persevering prayer for these things is far more apparent today than when Paul penned his requests, for just these lines of truth practically disappeared soon after the apostle's day, and almost nothing has been heard of them since. In all the writings of the early "Christian fathers" and even in the Reformation, what place is given to the secrets of the evangel, or of Christ, or of this administration? Even today they are nearly unknown "mysteries," as the Authorized Version aptly, but unhappily, describes them. Even the truth of the salvation of all mankind has found only a feeble following.

An incident that has just occurred may help us to realize how dense is the darkness, even in regard to the one of Paul's prayers which has found a little response in our own day. A committee has constituted itself among so-called Fundamentalists which seeks to serve the saints by exposing all departures from the truth. They do, indeed, show that almost every division of Christendom is contrary to the Scriptures, and are doubtless doing much good work. But when it comes to the special subjects of Paul's prayers, they seem not only utterly ignorant, but bitterly hostile. They denounce the teaching that all mankind shall be saved as a "hellish" doctrine, and thus revile all who hold it (1 Cor.5:11).

Their teaching, not Paul's, may indeed be called "hellish," without giving offense (Rom.14:13). They apparently hold that all unbelievers will be tormented forever and ever in "hell," or the lake of fire. We have submitted this statement to them before publication, lest we should accuse them falsely, for we do not wish to misrepresent even the worst enemies of the truth. But the word "hell" has been repudiated by us, as well as by the Revisers and all intelligent students of the Scriptures. It is not a correct equivalent of the Hebrew sheol, the Greek hades, or of Gehenna, or of the lake of fire, so should not appear in a translation of God's Word. It is an unsound expression, to be shunned . Hence our teaching is as far from "hellish" as it can possibly be.

In Webster's dictionary, the supreme authority in the United States, "hellish" is defined as follows: "Of or pertaining to hell; like hell; infernal; malignant, wicked, detestable, diabolical." We ourselves once held the doctrine of eternal torment for all unbelievers, and humbly acknowledge, along with all who still have a spark of feeling for their fellows in their breasts, that nothing imaginable could be more malignant, or wicked, or detestable, especially on the part of the Deity, Who is love, Who wills that all mankind be saved and come into a realization of the truth, and on the part of Christ, Who is giving Himself a correspondent Ransom for all, of which Paul was appointed a herald and an apostle (1 Tim.2:4-7).

But what is at all like hell, malignant, wicked, detestable, diabolical, or "hellish," in the teaching that God is operating all in accord with the counsel of His will (Eph.1:11), so that He not only wills, but will save all mankind, and justify all mankind (Rom.5:18), and reconcile all to Himself through the blood of Christ's cross, whether on the earth or in the heavens (Col.1:20)? This is heavenly, not hellish! This glorifies God, not Satan!

This honors Christ, not the Adversary! Paul entreats us to pray and plead and give thanks for all mankind, not to damn them (1 Tim.2:1-4)!

Instead of falling in line with God's great program, the Christian world, or system, has used prayer as one of the best instruments of error. "Christians" in name only, who did not possess the spirit of God, and lukewarm believers, considering prayer as a sacred duty, fell into futile formalities. Petitions were written or printed, to be read or repeated by rote. A prayer for every day is considered a very spiritual program. But one of the worst mistakes was the adoption of the "Lord's Prayer" as the standard form for the layman. Not only among Roman Catholics is the "Paternoster" a religious exercise of great merit, but even in the Sunday Schools of more enlightened lands it is impressed on the pupil's young minds as if it were the talisman to heaven. It not only leads to hypocrisy but entirely distorts the truth which is ours in Christ Jesus today.

This has been the experience of the writer of these lines: His first book, The Mystery of the Gospel, or The Conciliation, contained on its title page the following: "Praying...for me, that utterance may be given to me to open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel." Thereafter followed expositions of the secret of Christ and of this administration, and a pamphlet, "All in All," setting forth the salvation of all mankind. All of this aroused much opposition and fierce defamation, and will continue to do so until the end, for this is according to God's purpose. Even this should call forth thanksgiving. We may well echo our Lord's prayer: "Acclaiming am I to thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for Thou hidest these things from the wise and intelligent, and Thou dost reveal them to minors" (Matt.11:25).

Paul's greatest prayer for the saints began with ceaseless thanksgiving for them, and was directed to the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory (Eph.1:16,17). This is an introduction worthy of the theme, for all blessing has its source in God, and its channel in Christ, Who is our Saviour, and Whom we obey as Lord. Let us always seek to open our prayers by acknowledging Him in the character which accords with the subject of our petitions. This is addressed to God as the One Who blesses us with every spiritual blessing among the celestials (1:3), that we may appreciate His blessings. It is no longer our need as children that is in view, so He is not seen as our Father, but the Father of glory . He it is Who endows with the glorious riches, concerning which Paul prays.

Briefly summarized, Paul prays for a spirit . This is the greatest need today. We all crave material blessings, food and shelter, health and wealth. It is very striking, in the opening of this epistle, that we are not endowed with physical blessings on the earth, as Israel will be in the kingdom. We are not even assured of bodily welfare among the celestials. These things are necessary, but not nearly so scarce or valuable as an endowment with spiritual wisdom and revelation to enable us to know God and His plans and purpose for us. He wishes us to know what He has in store for us in the future, and what will be our lot, and the power at His command to carry all of this to completion.

This demands a spirit of wisdom and revelation, which God alone can give. All saints have a measure of God's spirit. A special spirit of wisdom will be wary, for there are many deceiving spirits in the world. The forces of wickedness are spiritual (Eph.6:12). There is need of discrimination (1 Cor.12:10). When the spirits disagree with the Scriptures, or even with one another, we may be sure that they are evil, no matter how much they attract us, or operate in us to perform wonders. At various times in the history of the church, there has been a yielding to spirit forces, by means of passivity, or marvelous manifestations, but none of them have ever led the saints into the glorious riches which Paul reveals in this prayer. They were devoid of this wisdom and lacked this revelation.

Without this spirit of wisdom the rich revelations of the prison epistles cannot be apprehended. If anyone has not realized these rare revealments, it is because this spirit is lacking. Let everyone who seeks to understand God's highest unfoldings, as given in this epistle, first of all pray for this spirit. But this is not enough. No one has ever discovered the secrets here revealed apart from the written Word. God's spirit inspired the Scriptures. His spirit is not imparted to the saints to enable them to perceive light apart from the Scriptures, but through the written record. Wisdom demands that there be two witnesses to the truth. The spirits that ignore the written revelation disagree among themselves. The spirit that cleaves close to the record alone will bring us into harmony with each other and with the spirit of God.

Wisdom will seek to discern the spirits. There are so many divergent ones, each trumpeting itself, that no one can accept them all. The matter is much simplified if we have the overwhelming conviction that the Scriptures are inspired by God and were indicted by His holy spirit. Then they become the one and sufficient test as to the spirits, if they are of God. The most dangerous of all spirits is one that rejects this test, and claims individual inspiration, or a super-inspiration which imposes its message upon the sacred text. None of these have ever even discovered, much less revealed, the secret wisdom of the present administration, which was hid in God, until, it was revealed in writing and made known through the pen of the apostle Paul from his Roman prison.

God is the source of all wisdom. Creatures are confined to apparent appearances. He sees through all outward forms to the very heart. He alone knows the end at the very beginning. And He only can use evil to produce good. So wisdom consists in getting a God's-eye view, of seeing everything from His standpoint. In the Scriptures wisdom will remove the veil from all previous revelation, and show how it prepared for the present. It will transform each seeming setback into a magnificent success. The present is the fruit of much apparent failure, and gets its flavor from defeat. Wisdom will doubt all human testimony and believe God. We should even mistrust the evidence of our own spirit unless corroborated by the documentary evidence of God's holy spirit.


Wisdom demands a double witness. This world is full of illusions and deceptions, so every vital matter should rest upon the testimony of two or three. Even men of the world protect their property by legal papers, attested by witnesses. Their private convictions, their own declarations, carry little weight in a court of law. So the opinions of the saint, or his asseverations, the fruit of his own spirit, are a frail foundation for faith. If he differs from others, one or both are bound to be false. Even if two or millions agree, that is no guarantee. A single certified document may prove all to be mistaken. The saint who has God's spirit, should rest only on the divine documents, which alone can give safety and certitude.

This wise precaution should guide us in everything which has been touched and tainted by human hands, even in determining the authenticity of the sacred text itself. Men make mistakes, no matter how hard they try to avoid them. Probably no manuscripts which have come down to us from ancient times were so carefully copied and compared as the sacred scrolls of the Scriptures. Even the three most ancient and best differ slightly from one another. It would be unwise to take one to the exclusion of the others. It would be foolish to accept a poor one which is contrary to all the rest. In the providence of God, these, the most precious and important documents for our faith, are preserved practically perfect, when their testimony is combined. That is why they are given in the Concordant Greek text. There is no question as to the written record of the grace which is ours in Christ Jesus.

In the Hebrew the matter is far more difficult, so that much more wisdom from above is needed. With the exception of Isaiah, the oldest records come to us through a Greek version. This often differs from the traditional Hebrew which has been handed down to us, in many details, although, as a whole, there is substantial agreement. Much more than mere knowledge of the facts is needed, though these must be the basis of any restoration. Perhaps the greatest aid is a knowledge of God such as Paul pleads for in this prayer. Complementing this is an insight into the failings of mortal men, the prejudices of the people and the mistakes of copyists. Then the aid of double witnesses, such as are provided by complementary accounts and parallel passages, and especially the recurrences of the same word, in order to determine its divine definition, as used by the spirit of God.

Even in the written record, the truth is safeguarded by repetition . The narrative in the book of Acts is complemented by Paul's epistles. Romans is reiterated and reenforced by Galatians and the Corinthian letters. Ephesians has its echo in Philippians and Colossians. One part corroborates the other.

This wise precaution has been carried to its limits by the spirit of God in the very words of inspiration. There is no inspired lexicon telling us what each term signifies, such as is provided by some philosophies. Theosophy issues a special handbook defining its vocabulary. But the inspired documents have done even better by means of repetition. The meaning of a phrase or a word or an element is fixed by its usage. Hitherto this has been largely ignored. Men prefer their false opinions, and translate according to the dictates of a deceiving spirit, rather than in accord with the spirit of God. Hence it is wise to use the same symbol where it is repeated, wherever language will allow.

How different with the wisdom of the world! God will destroy it. He makes it stupid (1 Cor.1:19). The reasonings of the wise are vain (1 Cor.3:20). In the truth for today we learn of the depths of God's wisdom (Hosea 8:33). It is a secret wisdom (1 Cor.2:7). It is a multifarious wisdom (Eph.3:10). But our spirits are not equipped to entertain it, apart from a special gift from God. Paul has given expression to it in the previous part of this epistle (Eph.1:3-12). But how few are there, even of those saints who may be called spiritual, who have been able to grasp the wisdom in this marvelous revelation! How few have even felt the need of a spirit of wisdom, or prayed for it!

Before the Concordant version was made or any of the literature written, there was persistent prayer for this spirit of wisdom and revelation. Nor has it ever ceased. The fearful lack of it in dealing with the Bible has become more and more apparent, and the need of it more evident. Not only was it necessary to pray for it in order to recover this crowning revelation of God, but now, even after it has been expounded at length, it is needed to apprehend the expositions! So let us pray, not only for ourselves, but join Paul in his prayer for all saints for this special spirit, so that they may realize the greatness of God's grace.


CAN A MAN by searching find out God? Is humanity endowed by nature to discover the Deity? Can he perceive Him in Creation? Can he learn to know Him by logical deduction? Is God revealed to all who read the Bible? Is the saint fully equipped to comprehend Him if he searches the Scriptures? Many have tried all of these, yet have fallen far short of a knowledge of God and His highest revelation of Himself in His present operations. Therefore we should emulate Paul and pray, as he did in the first chapter of Ephesians, that God would give the saints the spirit of revelation .

Before Adam sinned and offended God, he was in close communion with his Creator. Endowed by nature with all the faculties which raised him above the rest of earthly creation, undimmed by disease or deterred by dread, he far surpassed his progeny in natural powers. His eyes could see, his ears could hear, and all his perceptions were perfect to a degree which no other mere man has ever known. He conversed on intimate terms with his Creator, Who crowned all His other gifts by giving him a complement as his companion. Did he come to know Him? Did it teach him to trust Him? Did he learn to love Him? No ! A single insinuation from the serpent showed that his heart had never appreciated his great Benefactor. By nature, even under ideal conditions, man cannot make acquaintance with the Deity.

Since Adam's day man has made an intense study of nature, on earth and in the heavens. He has pried into the structure of the tiny atom, and tried to comprehend the mighty celestial spheres. He has searched the depths of the earth and the waters of the sea for minerals. He has catalogued and systematized and investigated the flora and the fauna in the oceans, on the land, and in the air. He has amassed tremendous amounts of knowledge concerning God's handiwork, with its multitudinous marvels and awful wonders. But has he met the Creator of all this walking in His garden, as Adam did? By no means! Great scientists are often atheists. Those who see Him in His achievements have met Him elsewhere first. They have learned to know Him through His written revelation.

But cannot men use their minds to reason their way into His presence, or deduce His purpose and His plans from His methods with mankind? Alas, men's minds are feebler than the faculties of sensation. Since their knowledge of God in creation, which displays His imperceptible power and divinity, does not lead them to glorify Him or thank Him, their reasonings are vain and their heart is not intelligent. Alleging themselves to be wise, they are made stupid. Their logic is illogical, and leads them away from the Deity. Without a knowledge of Him and His ways they lack the major premise on which all reasoning must be based.

But even if a man cannot find God in nature or by reason, surely he can find Him by the Bible! Here, indeed, is a means of acquaintance with the Deity which is ideal for the purpose! It is better even than the personal communion of Adam in the garden. No greater boon can come to any people than the Word of God. Israel's primary prerogative consisted in this, that to them were entrusted the oracles of God (Rom.3:2). Yet they did not all find Jehovah. On the contrary, when His words first came to them in the wilderness, they did not desire His presence and refused to believe His word, so their corpses marked their trail through the desert.

No people have ever prized their holy books as the Jews valued their sacred scrolls. They were copied with the greatest care and preserved with religious zeal. Many memorize much of them. Yet how few really grasped their import? This might be understood, if the lower classes, the poor and the ignorant, the stupid and the foolish, failed to become acquainted with God through His holy law and other literature, but, when our Lord came, He acclaimed God because He had hid these things from the wise and intelligent, and had revealed them to minors (Matt.11:25). The rabbis among the Jews, past and present, are often intelligent men, made wise by their knowledge of the sacred scrolls, nevertheless, how few have come to the knowledge of God! None of our Lord's apostles came from this class. Even Peter and John were unlettered, unlearned men.

The staff which worked on the Concordant version delved into the details of the divine records as has seldom been done. The books, the words, the elements, the grammar, all were analyzed in minute detail. Surely that should enable all to enter into the innermost precincts of God's oracles! Would not that open up His revelation as no other effort of man? It was indeed, a very wise procedure, and evidence of the spirit of wisdom, but man may be blind in the brightest of sunshine. It needs a miracle, a special gift of God. No matter how exact our knowledge may be of dead facts, they need to be vivified by the spirit of God before our hearts can realize and respond, and enjoy the full revelation of God's glory as now made known through the apostle to the nations.

Even when the Living Word, God's human Expression, set the Deity before them in letters of life, so that even the illiterate could read His deeds, only a few learned to love God through His words and His works. And even after He had manifested the heart of God, in its deepest depths, by His sacrifice on Golgotha, the nation to whom God's oracles were given turned against Him and His messengers. God repeatedly dulled their ears and eyes and hearts that they should not understand Him. He did it in Isaiah's time (Isa.6:9,10). He repeated it in the midst of our Lord's ministry (Matt.13:14), and after the nation rejected the testimony of His apostles and Paul (Acts 28:27; Rom.11:25). The possession of the Bible is not enough to insure an acquaintance with God!

Even Peter, the chief of the Circumcision apostles, found Paul's epistles hard to apprehend (2 Peter 3:15), for they dealt with a sphere altogether distinct from his own. In early days those who did not have this special spirit for which Paul prayed, twisted it to their own destruction. This is the usual practice today. Very few leave Paul's message as it is, or believe it as it was given. Almost all distort it by mixing it together with previous revelation. It's grace goes against the grain. Even those who have God's spirit in some measure prefer to be under law, with its righteousness, rather than realize crucifixion with Christ, and the need for undiluted grace. This spirit is a necessary foundation for the present revelation, for no one can possibly merit the glory which has been prepared for us, but rather the reverse. A rejection of the cross and the grace it involves locks the door to the spirit of revelation, so that it cannot enter.

Today the nations have a much greater and grander revelation of our gracious God than Israel ever had. He actually entreats His enemies to be conciliated to Him! He does not demand righteousness of the sinner, but imparts it. Instead of excluding us aliens from His presence, He breaks down all barriers, even those which kept the mass of Israelites from coming near to Him. Instead of allowing us a subordinate place of blessing through Israel on the earth in His future kingdom, He gives us a place superior to the celestial hosts! How can we fail to respond to such supernal grants of grace?

This spirit of revelation is for all the saints, not for one or for a few. It is given in order that they may realize what God has revealed to them by His spirit in the Scriptures. It is not that they may get separate revelations for themselves, or that they receive new ones for others. There have been, and are, those who claim to receive additional revelations, beyond what is given us in the Sacred Scriptures. But they disagree among themselves, and none of them even appear to have the spirit spoken of here, for they have not been enlightened with the truth contained in this epistle.

No one, not even the saint in whom the spirit of God makes its home, can grasp the fullest and final revelations in God's Word without special equipment. This is imparted freely to those who pray for it. Paul says that the truth was made known to Him by revelation (Gal.1:12). God's spirit imparted it to him directly and inspired the written record. These revelations represent the greatest accumulation of riches in the universe. They are stored in the Sacred Scriptures as in a safe. No one can get at them except those who have the combination. God does not reveal His secrets to all, but reserves His glories for those who have communion with Him, and are led to pray for this special favor. To them He imparts the same spirit as originally revealed the truth to Paul--the spirit of revelation. They alone enjoy these treasures now, though they are the common property of all the saints.

Yet how few accept God's proffered favors! As it was in Israel, the wise and intelligent will not receive it. God, in His wisdom, destroys the wisdom of the wise and repudiates the understanding of the intelligent. He delights to save those who believe through the stupidity of the cross. Not many wise, or powerful or noble are called, so that we should find our all in Him, and boast in Him, not in ourselves (1 Cor.1:18-31). With the full Bible in their hands, the nations as a whole do not come to a knowledge of God. More than that is needed.

What is necessary in order that we may know Him? Three things, first of all. Not only must we hear, or read, the word of truth, the evangel of our salvation, but must believe it, and be sealed with the holy spirit of promise. All believers receive the holy spirit. That is the seal that guarantees to them, and the earnest that enables them to enjoy in advance a small taste of the glorious allotment which has been procured for them. They are sure to get it, and are able to anticipate some of it in spirit. But, once more, even of them, how few realize the riches of the grace and glory of their allotment, through which alone we may attain to a realization of God?

Spirit is what is needed! We have the holy spirit, which gives us life . Now we need a special dispensation of spirit to enable us to grasp the full import of God's purpose with us, for this enlightens our hearts so that we enter into a full realization of His character. No previous revelation has done this. They were all partial and preliminary, preparatory preludes to His highest unfolding, which is not confined to the earth, but includes the universe. Even the celestial hosts are apprized of God's multifarious wisdom through this secret administration (Eph.3:10).

This is the special spirit that searches out the secrets of God. As the truth for this administration is largely limited to secrets, very few of the saints have any clear conception of its character unless they have been endowed with the spirit of revelation. Even some truths, as justification, which were not secret, are seldom grasped. They are not "mysteries" which cannot be understood. They are secrets, known only to the initiated. They are unknown to all who lack this special spirit.

In view of the almost universal ignorance of the divine mysteries from Paul's day to this, we can appreciate the need of his prayer. There is still greater need today, for Christendom not only ignores the truth for the present, but powerfully opposes it. Many of those who know Christ as their Saviour, and have the seal of the holy spirit, are not only devoid of this spirit, but deem it their sacred duty to condemn all who enter into these precious and powerful truths, and seek to keep the saints from even considering them. This must needs be, for it will cap the climax of grace. It makes the grace more gracious. A lesser quantity or quality of grace would at least demand that it receive a grateful reception. But this is so vast that it overflows even its rejection.

Paul prays that the Father of glory may give us a spirit of revelation . At that time God had already revealed Himself through the Hebrew Scriptures. His Son had come and made Him known in living form. Perhaps many in that day considered that God had fully revealed Himself, and no more was needed to make Him known. Most of the saints today are in the same position. They see little more than the kingdom revelation of our Lord and His apostles. Nor can they do otherwise, if they are not endowed with this special spirit. The lack of this has almost eclipsed the brightest and most glorious light that shines in the heavens. The saints mistake the moonlight for the sun. They grope in the gloom as if the sun were not at its zenith. Blind guides of the blind led them into the pit.

This prayer is for the highest boon a creature could conceive- -a vital knowledge of the Deity. The ancient Greeks had a saying which was considered the height of knowledge, "Know thyself." If they had managed to do this, they would have groveled in the dust. But even this cannot be accomplished apart from a knowledge of God. Moreover, the word knowledge is not nearly strong enough. We may know much about many things without an intimate experience. A realization of God is not a fleeting glimpse of a distant star, but a persistent experience, an everyday intercourse with Him in view of His vital interest in us, and the expectation, the place, and the power He imparts to us.

The depth and thoroughness of this knowledge is expressed in a fine and forceful figure. As a rule, the eyes are the best and safest avenue of knowledge. Job exclaimed, "By the hearing of the ear I heard thee, yet now my eye sees thee" (Job 42:5). Even eyes cannot see in the dark. So the heart is made the organ of sight, and we are given a special store of light in order to perceive what God will and has done for us, and the power He employs in our behalf.

Let us repeat. All saints have God's spirit in measure. Yet few, indeed, have this special spirit, or Paul would not have prayed for them in this behalf. Let us, then, join our prayers with his, first indeed, for ourselves, and then for all saints. May all who read these lines enjoy this priceless boon!


MOST FORLORN of all mankind are we if our expectation is limited to this life (1 Cor.15:19). Material prosperity, sensations of pleasure, high horrors, are by no means the special prerogatives of the saints in Paul's latest revelations. He himself, as their chief representative, lived a life of great hardship, with much persecution, and, at the last, was loaded with a chain, and lived on prison fare, and had very little he could call his own. Far worse than that, the very ones to whom he had brought the highest horrors and grandest glories, who should have at least rewarded him with their undying loyalty and friendship--even these were turned against him. He was, indeed, forlorn, with no perceptible evidence of his vast spiritual wealth or the rich reward for his labors and his sufferings (2 Tim.1:16).

In contrast to our poor expectations in this life, there seems to be no limit to the riches and glories that await us in the next. They are promised to us, not on account of our deserts, but rather the opposite. God's main object is to reveal Himself to the heavenly hosts, especially the riches of His grace and love, so He needs such undeserving subjects as we are in order to press home, by practical examples, what He can do for those who are unworthy of His gifts and have done much to draw forth His enmity and little to deserve His favor. Let us press this home to our hearts, or it will be impossible for us to believe the magnificent promises of honors and glories which are ours in Christ Jesus.

The first part of this petition has to do with our future. What are we to expect? The saints in Israel had a very clear and definite idea of what was in store for them, for the prophets are full of predictions on which to base their expectations. Our Lord added much to raise high hopes of a grand and glorious kingdom when He returns. Even if that were the basis of our expectation, we would have cause for thankfulness, for the nations in that day will be blessed through Israel. But this is not our calling! We will not be the lowest on earth, but the highest in the heavens! We would, indeed, be highly favored if we received a secondary place among the celestials. But this would not reveal God to us. His grace would not be properly displayed even by such a promotion. It calls for much more than that! It demands that the last shall become first, the lowest highest . So it is that we, as members of the body of Christ, are given the highest place in the heavens, who did not deserve the lowest place on earth.

Ours is a life of faith . Our blessings lie in the future . While the present is not our expectation, it is a necessary and salutary preparation for the life which is to come. Our own appreciation of God's glorious grace will be vastly enhanced as we view the fearful failures of the saints even after they have been called, and our own experiences in crucifying the flesh and fighting our spiritual foes. We fail to put the flesh in the place of death, and we fail to use the large shield of faith to protect us from our unseen foes. But our shortcomings should have the salutary effect of convincing us of our own utter unworthiness, and magnifying our thankfulness and adoration for the fullness of His favor.

The Concordant version makes a clear-cut distinction between expectation and hope. We expect that which is sure and certain, something on which we can depend . Indeed, it is translated so when used of God on Whom we rely (2 Cor.1:10; 1 Tim.4:10; 5:5), which is in contrast with the dubiousness of riches, on which we do not rely (1 Tim.6:17). Hope, in contrast with this, must also be rendered apprehensive, as the sailors on board the ship that was wrecked on the island of Melita (Acts 28:6). Faith does not hope, is not apprehensive, but expects, and relies on the promises of God for the future.

The prophetic Scriptures are full of the expectation of Israel, and the Circumcision writings of later revelation confirm them. The disciples of our Lord expected that He was about to redeem Israel (Luke 24:21). Yet it is remarkable how much oftener this thought wells up in Paul's epistles. Although they are not nearly half as long as the Circumcision writings, far more than half of the occurrences of "expect" and "expectation" occur in them. In other words, about two-thirds of the occurrences are found in Paul's epistles. This is doubtless due to the fact that faith is far more prominent in the truth for today than it ever was in the past.

Expectation is the future outlook of faith. The past provides the foundation of faith, the future its fruition. We look back and believe God's record of His activities in creation and revelation as recorded in the Scriptures of truth. We, who have His latest and fullest unfoldings, revel in the deeper truths, that He not only created the heavens and the earth, as recorded in Genesis, the book of the Beginning, but that all was created in Christ, the Son of His love, His visible Image, whether that in the heavens or on the earth, whether visible or invisible. All was created through Him and for Him, and He is before all (Col.1:13-17).

Although expectation is not concerned with the past, it is largely based upon it. Confidence in the future of anyone depends on his previous record. When we realize the exalted position of God's Son as His creative Original (Rev.3:14), so that He is First in place as well as time, it helps us to look forward with confidence to His exaltation in the future, so we expect to see Him as the Last (Rev.1:18), in Whom all will be headed up (Eph.1:10).

This is especially true as to ourselves. How it cheers our hearts, and consolidates our faith and encourages our outlook for the future to know that we were chosen in Christ before the disruption (Eph.1:4)! Our sonship is not a recent development. This high honor was ours before we were called, yes, ere we were born. It even antedated the entrance of evil into the world. The high nobility of earth do not, as a rule, do anything themselves to deserve their exalted position in society. They inherit it from their ancestors, some of whom may go back as far as the crusades. But the sons of God today derive their title from a patent dated in a time when sin had not even entered this scene. So it does not mar their escutcheon or endanger their prospects.


As a background of our present glorious expectation, those of us who are not of the seed of Abraham should always remember the position of the nations in relation to God in the past, before the present administration of God's grace. Being uncircumcised in flesh, we had no covenant relationship with the Deity, consequently, we had no Messiah, for He came only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Mat.10:6). Even after the apostasy of the favored nation was apparent, and God turned to the nations through a special apostle, Paul, they were only guests at Israel's board! Not having any spiritual values of their own, they participated in Israel's spiritual treasures, hence were in their debt, which they sought to settle by sending them fleshly gifts (Rom.15:27).

Israel has a glorious expectation. Jehovah not only promised them a land gushing with milk and honey, peace and plenty under the reign of a righteous King, but supremacy over the other nations. They will not only rule them as kings but bless them as priests . No other nation on earth has any ground to look forward to such a future. Indeed, there were nations that attained to world rule, Babylon, Medo-Persia and Greece, but they brought little blessing to mankind, and perished in their own corruption. There will be another world ruler in the future, the Man of Sin, but he will draw down the indignation of God on the nations. They may expect a little economic prosperity from him at first, but then they will be overwhelmed with suffering and woe.

In these last days there is a pseudo-messianic spirit, which leads nations to hold out high hopes of worldwide peace and plenty, a millennium without God's Messiah. Usually it is to be brought about by changes in the social structure, such as socialism in place of capitalism, and by advances in economics, the harnessing of the powers of nature, the use of machines in place of men. So far these illusive Utopias have led to widespread poverty rather than plenty, to dissatisfaction rather than contentment, to wars rather than peace.

The widespread movement to form a world government, to put an end to the present chaos and insecurity, holds out a hope for the nations that is doomed to bring upon them the direst destruction, except the deluge, that will ever devastate the human race. What they need is a man who is magnetic and powerful enough to unite them under his leadership. When Satan inspires such a man, the anti-Christ, their expectations will doubtless be raised to the highest pitch. Now we will have peace! Now all will have plenty! Estranged from God, rejecting Him and His Christ, they hope to be sovereigns of their souls and designers of their own destiny. But God will blast them from the earth. This is what the nations may expect, apart from God's grace . Let us remember this, and contrast it with our celestial expectation, which we have in Christ Jesus.

The nations, as such, had they faith in God's Word, would look forward to a measure of blessing in the millennium, subordinate to Israel. But they must also reckon with the iron club, with which Messiah will deal with all doers of unrighteousness in that day. Through Israel they will learn of Jehovah, the God of the priestly nation, and His ways. Their weapons of war will be made over into implements of peace. But the transformation will by no means be perfect or permanent. In the midst of the millennium Gog and Magog will rise against Israel and perish (Ezek.38-39). At the end Satan will deceive them for the last time, and perhaps the greatest army of mortals ever assembled surround the citadel of the saints, seeking to destroy the mediatorial nation and blot out God's name from the earth (Rev.20:7-9). Such is the expectation of the nations, as nations.

But we are rather concerned with the individuals among the nations, especially such as received the evangel Paul made known to them in his earliest missionary journey, soon after Israel had rejected the ministry of the twelve. What expectation had they? They had none . Had Christ come to set up His kingdom, even though they were saints, indwelt by God's spirit, they could not point to a single promise of any place or portion in that Kingdom. What could be done with them there? They cannot claim the promises made to Abraham, or to David, or to their seed, for they are aliens and uncircumcised. Although, in spirit, they could enter into the very holy of holies of the millennial temple, in flesh they would be excluded even from the outer court.

But suppose that they had died. Would they not have been raised at His advent, along with the Circumcision saints? No ! There is no hint of such a thing. In fact the Thessalonians were disturbed about this very matter, and did not know what to make of it. Therefore Paul wrote to them that he did not wish them to be ignorant concerning those who are reposing, lest they sorrow as the rest, who have no expectation. They had sorrowed so because they knew of no expectation for themselves. So he reveals it to them for the first time (1 Thess.4:13-18). He bases it upon the death and resurrection of Jesus. He who recalled Him to life will lead forth those who are reposing with Him. The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout of command, and the dead and living will be snatched away to meet the Lord in the air. And thus shall we always be together with the Lord (Thess.4:13-18).

When the apostle Paul revealed this expectation to the Corinthians, he calls it a secret (Cor.15:51). We will not find it in the Scriptures before this time, because the very idea of blessing to a distinct body of people among the nations was quite out of line with previous revelation. It takes the spirit of revelation, for which Paul prayed (Eph.1:17), for us to apprehend it. Paul left the Thessalonians in the air, both literally and figuratively. Yet that is hardly a proper habitation for a mortal. The revelation of our expectation was given in installments. He takes us first to the air. Now he enlarges upon this and explains that, at Christ's presence, we shall all be changed from mortals to immortals. So we can live anywhere and everywhere, in the air or even in the heavens. In fact, our bodies will no longer depend, as now, upon the soil for sustenance, but will be celestial--able to function throughout the universe.

But why should we have celestial bodies when the home of humanity is on earth? It is evident that the saints in the transitional era, which introduced the present secret administration, were not blinded at the beginning by the brilliant blaze of our celestial expectation. Paul himself seems to have lost his sight when the light above the brightness of the sun flashed about him on the Damascus road. It was too bright, so that, instead of enlightening him, he could see nothing, even when his eyes were open. Does not this give us a good illustration and explain why the excessive glory of our celestial expectation was not revealed all at once, but was imparted in installments? The saints were gradually prepared by Paul, during his itinerant ministry, for the full blaze of his celestial revelations in his perfection epistles.

Israel will be blessed with every physical blessing on the earth. Under their own vine and fig and olive they will enjoy health and wealth while they bring righteousness and peace and light to the rest of mankind. Because of their physical relationship to their Messiah they are accorded earth's richest blessing and grandest glories, and are chosen to spread His name and fame from pole to pole.

Our expectation is the counterpart and complement of this on a higher plane and with a grander scope. We will enjoy every spiritual blessing among the celestials (Eph.1:3), because of our spiritual relationship to Christ as the Head of the entire universe. In immortal, glorious, powerful, spiritual, celestial bodies we will never need to be concerned about our health or wealth (1 Cor.15:42-44). And we will enjoy the highest happiness, not merely because we are ourselves "in heaven," but in bringing blessing to the celestial hosts, to whom we even now make known the multifarious wisdom of God (Eph.3:10), by displaying to them the transcendent riches of His grace in kindness to us in Christ Jesus (Eph.2:7).

This is the expectation of His calling. This is what the future holds for all who are called by God during this administration of God's grace, whether they are Jew or "gentile," Circumcision or Uncircumcision. For the latter, the change from the highest place on earth to the lowest one in heaven would be a stupendous promotion. But for us, aliens, outcasts, curs, words fail to measure the height of our exaltation. It is like the universe, whose dimensions we cannot apprehend. It is the expression of the love of God, which passes all comprehension. May it be our boon to perceive this expectation now, so that the highest of all happiness may be ours in the realization of God, and heartfelt thanks may rise unceasingly to Him as the Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Father of glory.


THE LOT takes all determination out of the hands of man and puts it into the hands of God. All life, all history, is due to divine allotment. Even if man does try to force his wild will into the perfect plans of the Deity, it can only play the part assigned it in His intention. Apart from the awards for faithful service, almost all of the treasures and honors which are to be divided among God's creatures during the conclusion of the eons, which is now impending, will be distributed by lot. Man's will will be ignored. Nothing will be left to chance. God alone will place everyone in the position which He determined for him in the beginning.

In Israel the lot was an honored institution, given by Jehovah. Far from leaving anything to luck, or to the fortuity of fate, it evaded the mistakes of men, and put all into the hands of the Deity, where it belongs. It was a device to avoid conflict with the will of Jehovah where His way had not been specifically revealed. It was the method He gave His people of distributing land and of selecting men according to His intention, without His immediate intervention. Our rich and glorious allotment is not an "inheritance," due to the death of the Deity, or based upon our close relationship to Him, but is given to us graciously from the hand and heart of the All Sufficient.

We often read of the lot in the revered Authorized Version, but never of allotting or of the allotment . There it is altered to inherit or inheritance, although it is clearly accomplished by lot . The confusion that this mistranslation has introduced into God's revelation is most regrettable. Even when very young and ignorant in the faith, I could never grasp the thought that I was an heir of God, or a joint- heir with Christ (Rom.8:17). I know that an heir could not enter into the possession of his inheritance until the death of the testator, and I had not the slightest idea that God would ever die. Indeed, I shuddered at the thought, though it was so often intimated on the pages of Holy Writ. Of what value was an inheritance that could never be enjoyed? It could only rouse false and futile expectations. The use of the word "testament" for covenant has also contributed to the confusion.

Let us expunge the words heir, inherit, and inheritance from the pages of God's revelation. They are false and misleading, when used of the Deity. They suggest that, man can take over that which belongs inherently to God. They give color to the mistaken idea that we can own anything apart from Him. They give us a title to property of which we are only tenants. They have no equivalents in the divine vocabulary. In their place we should usually use some variation of the word lot . In a few cases it should be changed to tenant, as it is in the Hebrew. Until we do this, our thoughts in this sphere will be cloudy and confused, and we will not be able to enjoy our own allotment as we should. God has not made us His heirs, but has granted us a rich and glorious part in His grand program, not to have and to hold apart from Him, but to enjoy in fellowship with Him.

On the other hand, it is cause for profound thankfulness that our popular version almost always translates lot correctly. In Hebrew, gurl is always "lot." In Greek kleros is "lot" seven times, "part" twice (Acts 1:17,25), "inheritance" twice (Acts 26:18; Col.1:12), and "heritage" once (1 Peter 5:3). This is due to the fact that it is so often used in connection with casting the lot. They could not well cast an inheritance! The "lots" were usually small objects, such as pebbles, which were marked so as to be identified. These were cast into a pouch and withdrawn unwittingly, so that man's choice was eliminated. To the ungodly it seemed an appeal to chance, a wild gamble. To the pious Israelite it was Jehovah's method of making known His will.

The first occurrence of the word lot clearly sets forth its significance (Lev.16:8-10). Two hairy goats were taken. One was to be offered for a sin offering, but the other was to be left alive and sent into the wilderness. The question arose, which was to be the goat of departure? (AV scapegoat). Which was to be sacrificed? This same problem came up again and again. It could hardly be settled once for all by a written revelation, such as was given to decide the other matters connected with this ritual. Neither could Jehovah leave it to the priests or the people, for they themselves were sinners, and would sin even in offering a sin offering. Jehovah did not give them the ritual in order that they should be independent of Him. He arranged it so that they had to refer many things to Him, and so to realize His living interest in their affairs at all times.

So the lots were cast into the bosom pouch and drawn out in order to determine the fate of each of the two goats. We might reason, why make so much fuss about so mean a matter? They were only animals, not men. Both would die in due time. What difference could it possibly make whether it was one or the other? In either case the picture presented by the type would be the same, would it not? By no means ! It was of the very essence of this typical presentation that it be personally and particularly in harmony with the will of God. The great Antitype, Jesus Christ, was offered up according to the specific counsel and foreknowledge of God (Acts 2:23). He left no details to the mind of man, however trivial and tiny they may seem to us. And so it is with our allotment. Let us thank God that He has left no gleam of its glory for us to determine, but all is in line with His will.

Into the bosom pouch is cast the lot,
Yet from Jehovah is all its judgment (Prov.16:33).

This is an illustration, on a small scale, of the all embracing and God-glorifying truth that all is of God. To have told them this outright in those dim days, would have blinded them, as Saul of Tarsus was on the Damascus road. Even today, immature saints are not able to bear its effulgence. So it was doled out to them, not in plain words, but in obscure acts constantly repeated, and impressed upon them, not only through their ears but by their sight and other senses. It may seem immaterial and far beneath the dignity of the Deity, to choose between two goats, as to the part they should play in presenting this little preview of the drama of redemption. We might object, what difference does it make which goat is slain and which departs? Could not Jehovah leave such a small matter to men or to chance? Is it not an eloquent illustration of the tremendous truth that nothing is left to chance ! All is allotted by Jehovah!

The lot was used in the allocation of the tribes in the land. In general, we might ask, what mistake could be made if they had been placed otherwise? But the question would only manifest our ignorance of God, and His plan and purpose. In His counsels each tribe had its part to play, and this required that they receive their proper place upon the stage. In some cases we can get a glimpse of this. Judah and Jerusalem should not be far apart, for rule and religion were combined in Israel. The fact that the Levites had no allotment, and lived among the other tribes should show us that all was designed for the purpose God had in view. So the land was distributed by lot, not to leave it to chance, but to make sure that God's plan was carried out.

One of the most delightful and God honoring customs in Israel was the yearly allotment of the farm land. The farmers did not own or lease or live on their land as with us. Their homes were in little villages, with the houses clustered together for safety and mutual protection, in the midst of the cultivated ground. This was not reckoned theirs at all. They were merely tenants. It belonged to Jehovah, and was redistributed to them every year by lot. In this way they were continually reminded of their absolute dependence on their God, Who not only supplied the soil, but provided the sunshine and the rain from heaven, without which it was worse than useless. Their food and clothing, the very necessities of life, were annually doled out to them directly from His living and loving heart.

The cultivated ground was divided into parcels, according to the number of plows and teams in the village, and these were allotted, not to each man alike, but according to his ability to farm it. If he had only one plow he received a single lot. If he had many teams he was given accordingly. First the villagers and farm lands were separated into groups with a head to each company. At first a number of marked pebbles, corresponding to these groups, was put in a bag by the village elder, and an innocent little child drew one out for each group. The individual farmer was allotted his land in the head of his group. The head of the group was first allotted all the land for all the men in his company. They were considered to be in him.

Let us pause at this point to enjoy this precious picture of our place in Christ . Our allotment is in His. We were chosen in Him. God has given Him the highest allotment in the heavens. But it is not for Himself alone. He, like the head of a village group, shares His allotment with all who are in His company. The individual allotment comes later. After each group has been assigned its section of the village lands, pebbles were again put in a bag for each plot or parcel, and each individual received that which Jehovah apportioned to him.

This was Jehovah's practical and powerful plan of becoming ever present with His people, and making them perpetually dependent upon Him. He was in full control. Not they, but He, was Master of their souls. Their health and wealth and happiness were directly derived from His providence. Should He withhold the rain, their allotment could no one sustain. But this was a sign that they had displeased Him and departed from His worship. Let us not think of the famines He sent His people as vindictive punishment. Rather, they were salutary discipline designed to draw them back to Him, with the added experience of evil that would enable them to appreciate His blessings to the full, and bind them to His heart in thankful adoration.


The riches of the glory of the enjoyment of His allotment ! What a wealth of words are needed to indicate the blessedness of our celestial apportionment! Israel was allotted the land. But their tenancy has been spasmodic and temporary, with intervals of banishment from its blessings. In fact, their persecutions among the nations have outweighed their blessings in the land. Even while there, they seldom experienced the riches and glory of the days of David and Solomon. Yet they will have a millennium under the rule of Messiah which will far outshine all their past experiences. The reason why the past has been so variable and unsatisfactory lies in the fact that their allotment was not in the proper person. In the future it will be in their Messiah. He will share His blessed portion with them.

It is not easy for us to realize and enjoy the riches of our allotment among the celestials, for that is a sphere of which our knowledge is very scant. Indeed, our own little life span and the limited range of our past activities form no foundation on which to base an estimate of the wealth of glory which inheres in our celestial allotment. We must turn away to Him in Whom our lot is cast (Eph.1:11), and consider His glories on earth and in heaven in order to get even a glimpse of our own in Him. Even then we must consider His earthly honors first, in order to be able to grasp the sublime supremacy which is His among the celestials.

To a large extent the spiritual blessings of Israel on earth are paralleled by the portion of the ecclesia in the heavens. The Scriptures are studded with details dealing with the future of the holy nation, yet very little is revealed concerning our expectation. But, if we look at both from the divine side, we will be overwhelmed with the wealth and overpowered by the prospect of that which lies ahead of us. Indeed, though the destiny of the ecclesia which is His body may run along the same lines among the celestials as that predicted by the prophets for Israel on the earth, it will be on a much loftier level, and on a greatly grander scale.

God's prime purpose with both Israel and the ecclesia is to reveal Himself to the balance of creation, so that He may come to be All in all (1 Cor.15:28). Let us never lose sight of this. It will keep us from many a devious detour, and give us a star by which to steer straight to His grand goal. This will be accomplished along two main lines, rule and religion, in correcting and regulating the relationships of His creatures to one another, and in leading them to worship God. Under their Messiah Israel will not only be governed by Him, but they will be used by Him to rule the rest of the nations. Moreover, He will not only lead them in the worship of Jehovah, but they will bring the other nations to bow the knee to God. He will be their King and Priest. So they will be a royal priesthood set over the millennial earth (1 Peter 2:9).

But Israel will enjoy this double headship over the nations only because their Messiah has the headship, not only over the chosen nation because He is the Son of David, but also over the race of mankind, because He is the Son of Adam. They have failed fearfully to rule themselves, as is shown in the historical prophets. And they will fail even more frightfully when they seek to usurp the suzerainty over the kings of the earth in the time of the end (Rev.17:18). They have had fleeting, infrequent previews of the glories that await them, under the rule of David and Solomon and the good kings of the Davidic dynasty, yet these were but earnests of the grander glories that will be theirs in the day of Jehovah, when Messiah Himself will as sure the fulfillment of all by His powerful presence, along with that of the resurrected saints of Israel.

How glorious would it be even to live in that happy day! The lowest in the social scale, the meanest in rank, the most penurious of the poor, may be better off in many ways than the rich and the great in the present evil eon. As a rule the fearful perplexity and dread of the future, which torments so many of all classes today, will then be unknown. The striving after security will be stilled. Wars, either "cold" or hot, will be almost absent. There will be peace and plenty for all. Even the rich and prosperous, the famous and the mighty of today would probably prefer the poorest position in that elysium to the place, the pelf, and the power which is theirs at present. This blessedness will be due to the radiation of Christ's presence on the earth.

The millennial glories of Christ are revealed on many a page of Holy Writ. But His highest honors, His sublimest supremacy, was concealed from mortal gaze until the revelation of the present secret administration of God's grace. His headships in Israel and over all the earth were gradually revealed along with the future glories of the holy nation. Now that the riches of the glory of our allotment among the celestials must be made known, it became necessary first to disclose His heavenly headship which, combined with that over all the earth, makes Him universally supreme. All is to be "headed up in the Christ, both that in the heavens and that on the earth-- in Him in Whom our lot is cast ..." (Eph.1:10,11). Associated with His celestial headship, our allotment is immeasurably grander and more glorious than anything that earth can ever know.

In our present mortal, earthbound conditions it is almost impossible for many of us to visualize an allotment that does not consist of a part of the earth's surface, including a shelter from the elements, and food for our bodies, and means of satisfaction for our souls. In heaven, of course, this would not be a mean hovel, but a "mansion," not merely food to exist, but feasting for pleasure. And something of this nature will be included in Israel's allotment. They will have comfortable homes in the land, with an abundance of grain and fruits and wine to satiate their souls. And on the new earth they will enjoy the glories of the new Jerusalem.

But no such allotment lies before us. For humans on the earth it does bring happiness to have all that satiates the soul. But even they will have a higher source of joy. It is happiness to give rather than to get. Spiritual satisfaction is superior to soulish sensations. After all, Israel's chief pleasure will be based on blessing the other nations. And these blessings will be spiritual, not material. Their principal export will not be oranges and chemicals from the Dead Sea, as at present, but the law of Jehovah. Even during their deportation their most prized possession, the Hebrew Bible, has brought untold spiritual wealth to the other nations. In the future they will spread the knowledge of Jehovah over the whole earth. This will not only be the greatest possible boon to the others, but the highest height of their own happiness.

Our powerful, spiritual, immortal, glorious bodies will be immeasurably superior to their earthbound soulish frames, and will require no local habitation or material sustenance. We will not need to make provision for our flesh. The universe is our "mansion," and the all pervading spirit of the Deity the source of our sustenance. We will not need to be concerned with our own affairs, but will be able to devote ourselves, unhampered, to the welfare of others. This is the supreme source of the highest happiness. God Himself finds His greatest joy in blessing the creatures of His heart. He will accomplish this through His Christ, in Whom we have our allotment.

In anticipation, this can be a spring of purest joy to us now, if we conform to these principles. Let us seek, not only to be a blessing to others, but to impart spiritual values rather than material necessities. At present we cannot refuse physical aid to the infirm and famished, for even this brings its blessing, as some of us have realized in our efforts to feed and clothe the refugees of Europe in their desperate need. Yet greater still has been our joy to share our spiritual riches with the saints of other nations, even in the remote regions of the earth.

It is a most notable fact that the celestial creatures are designated in the Scriptures by political terms. We read of the sovereignties and authorities and thrones and lordships . It is just as if the peoples of the earth, instead of being designated by race or color or location or characteristics, were described to a Martian as empires and dominions, kingdoms and jurisdictions, or similar terms. We are not told of any race, for there is probably no such relationship among them. Nor are we given any hint as to their physical characteristic, for they are probably outside the range of our sensations. We are given a suggestion as to their mental capacity, for they are able to grasp the multifarious wisdom of God, made known now through the present secret administration.

Their moral status is seldom alluded to in the Scriptures, but may be inferred from the fact that all of these political forms are varieties of government, which is needed only to restrain evil. It is clear from this that they are not in perfect subjection to God. This is confirmed by the fact that Christ is to reign over them until the consummation, just as He is to be King over the earth. Moreover we are to reign with Him among the celestials. Besides, we know that Satan and his messengers are in actual revolt against God, and Michael and his messengers will battle with the dragon and his messengers, and cast them down to earth soon after we are called above to reign (Rev.12:7-9). Besides, there are the messengers who did not keep their sovereignty, and are kept in bonds of gloom until the judging of the great day (Jude 6).

The contexts in which these political designations occur further confirm the thought of insubjection, insubordination. When Paul lists the opposing powers which might seek to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord, he mentions messengers and sovereignties and these must include those among the celestials (Rom.8:38). As Head over all the sovereignties, they are put under Christ's feet, in token of their subjection, and defeat (Eph.1:21). He strips off the sovereignties and authorities and triumphs over them (Col.2:15). Indeed He will nullify all sovereignty and authority and power at the consummation (1 Cor.15:24). Our real enemies at present are these sovereignties and authorities, world mights of darkness, spiritual forces of wickedness among the celestials (Eph.6:12).

Christ is seated at the right hand of God, the highest political position in the universe. He outranks every sovereign and authority, every power and every lordship. His peerless name has the precedence over every other in heaven as well as on earth. All must be subject to Him. The marvel for us is that this supremacy, this headship over all, is His as Head of His body, the ecclesia . We, as members of this spiritual organism participate in His political supremacy. We are His complement, the needed staff through whom He will administer His universal government. Just as in the earthly sphere, the chosen nation will be associated with Him in the rule of the whole earth, so we will be one with Him in His reign over the rest of the universe (Eph.1:20-23). The Circumcision will have no preeminence, because the two are made into one joint body (Eph.2:15; 3:6). The figure of the body remains, with members of different functions and gifts, but the rift between Jew and Gentile disappears.

Paul's epistle to the Colossians deals with Christ's headship in the heavens. In his prayer for the saints there, Paul gives thanks to the Father, who makes us competent for a part of the allotment of the saints in the light, who rescues us out of the jurisdiction of darkness and transports us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in Whom we are having deliverance, Who is the Image of the invisible God, Firstborn of every creature, for in Him is all created, that in the heavens and that on the earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or lordships, or sovereignties or authorities, all is created through Him and for Him, and He is before all, and all has its cohesion in Him (Col.1:12-17).

At present we are subjects, under the jurisdiction of some political authority, which, being in line with God's mandate for this era of the nations, we are bound to obey (Rom.13:1-5). There will be no deliverance from it in this era, on the earth. But there is another, a spiritual jurisdiction, whom we are to withstand . In Ephesians it is called "the world mights of this darkness," and further defined as "the spiritual forces of wickedness among the celestials." These now rule there as the sovereignties, or independent powers, and the authorities, who derive their position from them, and contest our right to our allotment, for they exercise the political power there at present. Only Michael, the chief associate with Israel (Dan.10:21; Jude 9; Rev.12:7) seems to be on the Lord's side, even as Israel on the earth.

We are tempted to think that this world would be much better if the saints could only get control of the political power, or if the highest offices were filled only with men of God. But the Scriptures do not contemplate any such condition, and give no instructions for ruling, only for obeying. Among others the case of Chiang Kai Sheck is a good example. He seems to be a genuine believer, eager to serve God, but his regime has bogged down in corruption notwithstanding his personal integrity and godliness, so that he voluntarily resigned. The governments today have many honest, capable men, but they find themselves thwarted by the unseen spiritual powers which are leading mankind in opposition to God and His Christ. At present this is hard to perceive, but, in the impending conflict, they will mobilize all earthly power at Armageddon (Rev.16:13-16).

Quite apart from the human authorities which we are to obey (Rom.13), there is a spirit overlord now operating among men, called the chief of the aerial jurisdiction, who turns men against God during the eon of this world. As unbelievers, we were once under his evil influence and merited God's indignation. But now, by God's grace, we need be subjects of this sinister spiritual sovereignty no longer, but have been transported into the kingdom of the Son of His love. This is not a literal kingdom, but the spiritual parallel and predecessor of that which will be set up when Messiah returns and reigns in the eons of the eons. It is as Son that He is sovereign in this kingdom, not as Christ, whose members we are. So now we are subjects in it, not associates, as we will be in His celestial realm (Eph.2:2; Col.1:13).

There is very little danger that the political powers on the earth will do us much direct damage if we are subject to them, except as they also are influenced by our spirit adversaries. I had a very interesting experience once along this line, which may be helpful to others, so I will give a brief account of it. In Germany a number of us were working strenuously on a concordant version. Meanwhile, the government changed radically. When we started, the head of the state was a venerable, God fearing man. The new regime was inclined to be anti-religious, for its head had been a Roman Catholic who had been sadly disillusioned, so that he was not sympathetic to any religion. Moreover, he was embittered because he could not persuade the churches to unite, as he had done the political parties.

Friends from other lands wrote and warned us that we would never be allowed to sell the version. And, indeed, the secret police made several investigations and sent men to our meetings. The local policeman acknowledged that he watched my every move. I heard that they had compiled a comprehensive report covering our case. But we had been very careful to be subject, so they could find nothing against us. We completed our task and published the version--at least that of the Greek Scriptures--before the war broke out. And during the war almost the whole edition was sold out. On the other hand, the churches, with few exceptions, virulently opposed us. We certainly never could have even made a version, much less sold it, if they had been in power.

In striking contrast to this has been our experience in seeking to reprint the version, for which there is now much more demand than before. The allied powers are in control, and we had to get permission from each one of them before we would be allowed to print it. We anticipated opposition on the part of the Soviets, yet they did not object. It happens that we had been given property in Britain for the German work. As paper could not be obtained locally, we proposed to import it from England, thus benefitting Britain's financial condition at the same time. This, we supposed, would help to influence the British authorities in granting permission for the reprint. But no, nothing could move them. Meanwhile the funds we had saved were reduced to one-tenth by the currency reform. I do not know if it is true or not, but I have been told that the refusal was due to the opposition of a religious organization! "Freedom of religion," for which the war was fought, seems to have gone into reverse!

As our political allotment is not on earth, the terrestrial authorities do not come into conflict with us in regard to it. As it is in heaven, the celestial hosts are our adversaries, who do all they can to keep us from any knowledge or present appreciation of it. And they have certainly succeeded! The apostate church has retained a vague hope of "going to heaven," after death. But their idea of what they will do there is not at all unlike the paradise of the Mohammedans. Sensual delights, especially music, seem to be their principal expectation. The only others there they think are "angels," literally messengers . As if all that heaven is concerned with is the delivery of messages!

Some of the saints are inclined to think that we exaggerate the opposition of our spirit adversaries at the present time. We can readily understand their position. It is easy to see why the spirit world would not merely fail to oppose much that goes on among the saints, but would actively aid and abet what is agreeable to them. Some saints even imagine that all prosperity, all success, even when it is plainly contrary to the Scriptures, is evidence of the Lord's blessing! Then Paul must have been very wicked! Even our Lord Himself lacked these supposed seals upon His work! The smiles of circumstance, advancement, affluence, and such selfish gains, are far more often a stratagem of the adversary in these last days when apostasy is the popular sin. The greatest, most successful of the churches are all apostate.

But, once we take our stand for God and His Word and withstand the Adversary's attempts to drive us from the enjoyment of our allotment in the heavens, and we engage in such a work as the restoration of God's revelation to His people, or aid in making it known, we will soon find our path filled with hurdles and traps to hinder and trick our feet at every step. Not only our foes, but even our friends will be used to discourage and destroy, little dreaming that they have been deceived by false appearances. I have seen indisputable facts so handled as to give an impression the exact contrary to the reality. I have seen unquestionable truth used to prove the reverse. We should not be ignorant of these things, lest Satan overreach us (2 Cor.2:11). Even as the saints are a small minority compared to the rest of mankind, so also very few of them are free from the toils of his messengers of light. Almost all succumb to his stratagems. Few even think of praying for the spirit needed to enjoy their own allotment !

But our invisible spirit enemies will not be allowed to oppose us forever. At the end of this eon, the air will be cleared of wicked spirit powers. Michael will battle with the dragon, and so Satan, who is deceiving the whole inhabited earth, will be cast out of heaven (Rev.12:7-9). After he has raged down here for a short period, he will be expelled from the earth also, and bound in the abyss (Rev.20:1-3). But the time seems to be very near when, even before this, Satan will be crushed under our feet (Rom.16:20). When Joshua was conquering the land of Israel, he had his captains put their feet on the necks of five kings (Josh.10:24) in token of their defeat. So also will we put our feet on the neck of the Adversary, and go on with our Joshua (which is the Hebrew form of Jesus), to take possession of our spiritual political allotment among the celestials.


MUCH ON EARTH seems to be but a shadow of that in the heavens. We read of the ritual of messengers (Col.2:18). The divine service of Israel seems to have human imitations, copied from that carried on among the celestials. The holy places made by hands were only representations of the true, where Christ has gone (Heb.8:23). We know that the popular idea of "heaven," where all is in harmony with God, and the "angels" are all holy and happy, is false. The blood of Christ's cross will bring peace to the heavens as well as to the earth (Col.1:20). There is enmity there as well as here. It will be our precious privilege to broadcast conciliation to the heavenly hosts, just as it will be Israel's highest honor on earth to win the nations to the worship of God.

The glories of heaven are immeasurably greater than those on earth. This passes our comprehension, but it may help us to compare the two in other ways. Their physical features may be an index of the spiritual. God Himself appeals to the height of the heavens in order to show His superiority to man.

"For as the heavens are loftier than the earth,
So loftier are My ways than your ways,
And My devices than your devices" (Isa.55:9).

Who can measure the vast difference between the ways of God and man? Must not this also be an index of the distance between celestial and terrestrial glories?

Scripture speaks of the multitude of the stars. Abraham could not count them (Gen.15:5). Their number seems to be infinite. Many years ago a hundred inch telescope was set up on a mountain top within sight of my home. It greatly increased the quantity of stars visible to man. Lately another one has been erected not very far away, with a diameter of two hundred inches, four times as large. Although not yet in normal operation, tests have produced photographs of many more stars, never before seen by man. No doubt, with more powerful lenses even more stars would make their appearance. It looks as if they were numberless.

Man cannot number the stars, that is God's prerogative. He not only counts them, but all of them He calls by name (Psa.147:4). What is on them all we are not told. But we know that there are sovereignties and authorities among the celestials (Eph.3:10), just as there are on earth. Their messengers are greater than men in strength and power (2 Peter 2:11). They are able to visit the earth, while we can hardly leave its surface, much less fly to other spheres.

The Scriptures contain many indications of estrangement and conflict in the heavens. Satan's sneering and slighting remarks about Job show what some of the celestials thought of God's relations to mankind. They know of the enmity between man and the Deity, and eagerly grasp the opportunity of stirring it up and widening the breach between the creature and the Creator. Our glorious privilege, the most precious part of our allotment, is to bring these trouble-makers themselves into tune with God and restore the harmony of heaven. Not only Job, but the saints of this administration suffer much from the attacks of these malignant spirit forces (Eph.6:11-17). We do not attack them. All our armour is defensive, except the sword, which is a divine declaration. In the future we will turn them from foes into friends. Through us they, too, will be reconciled with God.


Our allotment is spiritual . Israel's is soulish and material. They will have food and shelter in the land as well as their political and religious supremacy on the earth. Why do not we also receive a portion to eat and a place to live? Of this there is no limit, and the reason is plain. We will not need them . Bodies that are spiritual and immortal will be sustained and protected by other means than those employed by mortals. Perhaps a crude illustration will suggest the solution. In my youth we used coal oil lamps, which needed to be continually supplied with oil, and the flame had to be protected with a chimney, and the wick trimmed of its ashes. If any of these were lacking it might go out. Now, however, we use electric bulbs. All they need is a connection with the power house. Yet they burn much brighter than the lamps.

Even in our present life, all energy is indirectly supplied by the sun. Indeed, we may sometimes warm ourselves and enjoy the direct benefits of the sunshine, so that we need very little or no shelter from the elements. Without sunlight no vegetation would grow, and no animal could feed upon the fruits of the ground. At the same time the earth hides the sun from us half of the day. Theoretically, if we could bask in the sunlight all the time it would double our vitality, and if we could bypass all the mediums through which it provides us with internal fuel, we might be many times as vigorous as we are. The difference might be compared with the telephone and the radio. One needs wires to conduct the impulses, the other, by using waves, does without. Our bodies need not be spirits, to enjoy these advantages, but they must be spiritual, rather than soulish.

Once we are in close and continuous touch with the universal Source of power and life, the curse of Eden will be cured, and even the earth-bound frailties of the human race will vanish. Having no blood, there will be no soul, no sensation, no suffering even possible, and no food could be assimilated if we had it. No cold or heat will affect our bodies, so we will need no house to shelter us from them. Our bodies will be vibrant with life because they will be spiritual. So it is that we are not promised a palace as a part of our allotment, or even a feast, for these things will be utterly unnecessary and unwanted, but would rather detract from the spiritual delight which will fill our hearts when we enjoy the riches of the glory of His allotment, embracing every spiritual blessing among the celestials.


Mankind has many enemies. Because of our sentimental association of heaven with nothing but felicity and angelic beings we have well-nigh forgotten that all men's miseries originated there in the first place, and made us mortals and turned the earth and its life against humanity. Earth is indeed the stage on which God is revealing Himself, but the play is a tragedy written in heaven and directed from above. An angel it was that interfered and estranged us from our Creator, and so introduced death and sin and woe.

Until Satan came down and deluded Eve, there was no enmity on earth. Adam was not afraid of the animals he had named, and the ground gave freely of its bounty. But, as a result of the visit of the Adversary, the living creatures were estranged, and the very soil withheld its increase. The whole kingdom of nature, over which man was appointed ruler, revolted against his leadership. This led to his many miseries and disintegration and death. And it came because he hearkened to a heavenly rebel rather than to God.


When Adam was banished from the garden of Eden he was kept from returning by Cherubim and a flaming turning sword. It is generally supposed that these also were celestial beings, but their name and composition do not seem to warrant that. Although Hebrew words are seldom a combination of other words, Hebrew names are usually made up of two or more. So it may be that k-rub, as cherub is spelled in the original, denotes AS (for k ) and MANY, for rub (as in rabbi), and means AS-MANY, or representative of a multitude. Who these many are is evident from their form, for it combines the heads of all animate creation. They have nothing about them that connects them with the celestials. They seem to represent various forms of life upon the earth. These now are wild, and keep man from enjoying his allotment down here.

We do not read of messengers, or angels, as such, until the time of Abram. Then they are often sent to his descendants, especially the nation of Israel. Still it is remarkable that the first time one appears, it is to Hagar, the mother of Ishmael (Gen.16:7). Next they came to Lot (Gen.19:1). From these two sprang nations which were at enmity with the people of the promise. No messengers appeared during their sojourn in Egypt, but one was sent to call Moses to deliver them from its bondage. From then on until Malachi, which means "My Messenger," they are continuously active on behalf of the people of the covenant. In this prophecy John the Baptist and our Lord Himself are called messengers. They reappear during the ministry of our Lord and His apostles, practically vanish in Paul's epistles, and reappear in the remainder of the Circumcision writings. In the Unveiling they are all seen in myriads, and on many occasions.

The mission of messengers to the Circumcision was usually beneficial. They were ministering spirits, commissioned for service on behalf of those about to be enjoying the allotment of salvation (Heb.1:13). They were sent to Abram and saved Lot from Sodom (Gen.19). A messenger kept Abram from slaying his son Isaac (Gen. 22:15), and went before his servant to get a wife for Isaac (Gen.24:7), and spoke to Jacob in a dream (Gen.31:11), and again at Mahanaim (Gen.32:1). A messenger of Jehovah appeared to Moses in the flaming thorn-bush (Ex.3:2), and went with Israel in their journeys (Ex.14:19; 23:20,23; 32:34), and drove out the nations in the promised land (Ex.33:2). Balaam was opposed by a messenger of Jehovah (Num.22). The Psalmist says,

Camping is Jehovah's messenger around those who fear Him, and He is liberating them. (Psa.34:7)

In the land Jehovah's messenger often appeared, to save the people from their enemies. One came to Gideon (Judges 6:11), to Manoah, the father of Samson (Judges 13), and Elijah, the prophet (2 Kings 1:3). A messenger of Jehovah smote 185,000 Assyrians, when they came against Jerusalem (2 Kings 19:35). A messenger of Jehovah often brought a message to the prophets, as to Zechariah (1:9). Later, even out of the land, Daniel was delivered from the den of the lions through their intervention (Dan.3:28).

In later revelation a messenger of Jehovah appeared to Joseph, the husband of Mary, the mother of our Lord (Matt.1:20; 2:19). A messenger announced the birth of John the Baptist to Zechariah, his father (Luke 1:11). Gabriel was sent to Nazareth, to Mary, heralding the birth of the Messiah (Luke 1:26). One came to the shepherds, along with a multitude of the heavenly host, to celebrate His birth (Luke 2:9). In Gethsemane a messenger strengthened Him. At His resurrection an angel rolled away the stone before the sepulcher and made it known to the apostles (Matt.28:2-7). The apostles were released from prison by a messenger (Acts 5:19). Even after the nations had practically rejected their message and James was assassinated, Peter was loosed from his prison chains by a messenger of the Lord (Acts 12:5-11). One even came to Paul on the ship on his way to Rome, and assured him that he must stand before Caesar (Acts 27:23,24).

The Unveiling is characterized by the fact that as a whole it was dispatched to John by a messenger (1:1). The messengers of the ecclesias were doubtless human, so we will pass over them. But the others are celestial. A strong messenger heralds the opening of the scroll (5:2), many of them join in acclaiming the Lambkin when He opens the scroll of Israel's allotment. Four messengers hold the winds of the earth, while another one seals the slaves of God, before they injure the land and the sea (7:1,2). Then all the messengers stand around the throne (7:11). The seven who stand before God sound the seven trumpets (8:2-6,8,10,12; 9:1,13; 11:15). Another one, standing at the altar, casts fire on the earth (8:3).

Then there is Abaddon, or Apollyon, the messenger of the abyss (9:11), besides the four who were loosed to kill the third of mankind (9:14). He is followed by the one with the opened scroll (10:1). Then Michael and his messengers battle in heaven against the dragon and his messengers (12:7). As a result Satan and his messengers are cast out to the earth (12:9). Then the eonian evangel is brought by a messenger (14:6), followed by one who announces the fall of Babylon (8) and by a third, who warns against the worship of the wild beast (9). Still another calls for the reaping of the harvest (15), whereupon one with a sickle appears (17), who is ordered to gather the vintage (18). The last seven calamities are poured out by seven messengers (15:1). One of these shows John the sentence of Babylon and explains it to him (17:1,7). Another announces its fall (18:1), and still another shows how it will be (21). Then one invites the birds of prey to dine on the dead of earth's armies (19:17).

Finally Satan, the Adversary, the serpent who began the great tragedy of mankind by deluding Eve in the Garden of Eden, is bound by a messenger for a thousand years, and one of the messengers who poured out the last calamities on rebellious Israel, shows John the bride of the Lambkin, the new Jerusalem, which will have a messenger at each of its twelve portals (20:9,12).

The present opposition of the spiritual forces of wickedness among the celestials is apparent from the part they play in Paul's perfection epistles. Near the beginning of Ephesians, the chief of the aerial jurisdiction is the spirit which is operating in the sons of stubbornness, not in those who are obedient to the faith. Their stubbornness may be largely the effect of his influence. In the last chapter we are presented with a panoply with which to withstand these powers, and a sword in order to fight them (Eph.6:10-17).

In Colossians we have an important passage which, because of its figurative form, has been a stumbling block to the earnest but immature student of the Scriptures. Having learned that the kingdom is future and on earth, and that we are justified, which is much more than mere pardon, it is quite a shock to read in Colossians that we have been transported into the kingdom and have the pardon of sins (1:13,14). If we would only consider everything in connection with its context! This is not the future kingdom of the Son of David or the Son of Mankind. It is a present rule under the Son of God's love. Israel will be delivered from the armies of the nations. We are already delivered from sinister spirit forces, called the jurisdiction of darkness. In spirit we already have a foretaste of our allotment in our rescue from the malignant spirit powers which hold all mankind in thralldom.

We are still subject to the superior authorities among men (Rom.13:1). They have been set under God. Should we resist them we withstand God's mandate, and will get judgment for ourselves. Human government is a divine institution and we should hear and obey. It is for our good, in suppressing evil. Even if it is such a failure, it is our duty to submit to it, in the Lord. Our own experience has been such that we have suffered some under unjust and unwise administration, but we have never been forced to violate our conscience. Although living through two wars in which conscription threatened to bring us into conflict with the authorities, God graciously arranged matters so that we could be subject without going contrary to God or man.

Not so with the spiritual powers, headed by the Adversary. Once we walked in harmony with the chief of the jurisdiction of the air, the spirit now operating in the sons of stubbornness (Eph.2:2). Ever since Eve listened to the serpent, the spirit world has sought to obtain control in the affairs of mankind. Individually and nationally the race prides itself on doing as it likes, but both men and nations often stand aghast at what they have done. Their best efforts often recoil on their own heads. Civilized man is inclined to thrust such thoughts aside as mere superstition. Strange to say, the primitive peoples, who live close to nature, seem more sensitive to these evil influences than their sophisticated superiors. In their crude way they recognize not only that there are spirit forces, but that they are evil. In their ignorance they seek to propitiate them.


Nevertheless, even among advanced peoples, there has been a revival of belief in the spirit world. It is usually called "spirit ual ism," but it were better to call it spiritism . Spiritual always suggests something good, as opposed to the flesh. And this is the very thing in which men are led astray. They doubtless do contact the spirits, but they are bad, not good. They are free to operate in those who are stubborn, who do not obey God's spirit. They are the jurisdiction of darkness, not light. They do not enlighten, but deceive. Some of those who have had definite dealings with them have discovered how deceptive they are. But the most of mankind are influenced by them, yet hardly realize that they exist. They are far too clever for mankind to cope with.

It is from this thralldom that we have been delivered. As this personal rescue out of the dark dominion in which we lived, into the light of God's presence, is so much like that which Israel, as a nation, will experience when the kingdom of Christ displaces the kingdoms of this world (Rev.11:15), that it is also called a "kingdom." But the King is the Son of God's love, a title that recognizes His universal headship, over the celestial spirit world, rather than over mankind on the earth. This is our present allotment. We will not be associated with Him in His reign over all these spirit powers until we are vivified. Negatively, however, we are freed from subjection to them, a boon very few of the saints fully appreciate.


Some sects in Christendom make much of the ministry of "angels." Indeed, nearly all consider that the place given them in the book of Hebrews is applicable today. Hence they rely on "guardian angels," and even pray to those of higher rank. Thus they put them between us and God, just as the Circumcision, who had many intermediaries, priests and prophets as well. Paul warns against this in his epistle to the Colossians. If we hold to our Head, we need no go-between apart from Christ (Col.2:18). Indeed, there is a sense in which our Lord is also a Messenger, for He, above all, has brought us God's messages, and He is superior to every celestial power.

The one occasion when we will enjoy the ministry of a Messenger will come at the close of our career. When God calls us above He sends the Chief Messenger, Whose voice will raise the dead and change and snatch away the living. While still on earth He went to Bethany with a message for Lazarus and his sisters concerning the resurrection, which is true of Him at all times. He is the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25). In His presence, those who die shall live, and the living will not die. But how could He deliver it to Lazarus, who was dead? All that He needed to do was to cry out, Lazarus! Hither! Out ! Had He not limited it to Lazarus, He would have emptied all the tombs of their dead.

So will it be when He comes for us. Just what He will say we do not know. Lazarus means helpless, which would fit us very well, but might easily include all the rest of the dead, who must not be roused until after the thousand years. He could not even use the word saints, for then the saints of the Circumcision would hear and rise before their time, for they are not due until seventy-five days after His coming to Israel. What term He will use to exclude these and include all who are members of His body, we do not know, but we will all recognize it when we hear it, either alive or dead.

Neither will it do to call them out, for few of them will be laid away in tombs. Instead the command may be Up ! for we will not merely be raised, so as to stand upright on the earth, but snatched away into the air in order to meet Him there. The central term, Hither ! may well be used of us, for we all are to be drawn in His direction, into His very presence, not, however, bound in winding sheets, but free from every bond, even the gravitation which binds us to the earth. May it be the precious privilege of every reader of these lines to listen and to hear, even before be is laid to repose, the wondrous words that will waft us into His presence! Perhaps the shout we will hear will be, Members! Hither! Up !

Meanwhile, may we all join our apostle, in his inspired prayer for all the saints, that they may perceive what is the riches of the glory of the enjoyment of His allotment among the accord with the operation of the might of His strength which is operative in the Christ, rousing Him from among the dead and seating Him at His right hand among the celestials (Eph.1:15-23).


THE DISCIPLES of our Lord were taught much concerning prayer while He was with them on the earth. They felt their ignorance and asked Him to teach them to pray (Luke 11:1). In response He gave them what is usually called "the Lord's prayer," but in reality it is the disciples' petition. On other occasions He instructed them how to pray and what to pray for. Usually all of this is taken as if it were intended for us, so that the formula He gave to them is almost universally used in christendom today as a model for our practice or imitation. And, indeed, some of the gracious spirit that pervades His words is in harmony with ours, yet it falls far short of that which should actuate us today. In view of this popular misconception it will be wise to stress the contrast with what is ours, rather than seek to apply it to the present.

It seems that John the baptist had taught his followers to pray, so a certain one of our Lord's disciples, after He had ceased praying, requested and said, "Lord, teach us to pray" (Luke 11:1). Then He not only told them what to say, but encouraged them to persevere, by the parable of the "importunate" friend and a likeness in which He compared God to a father who gives good gifts to His children. As these refer to certain parts of the prayer we will consider them in connection with it. Our Lord gave the disciples the prayer on two different occasions (Matt.6:9; Luke 11:2). The wording is almost the same, but His accompanying remarks are very different, and correspond to the character in which He is set forth, the King in Matthew, and the Man in Luke. We will consider Luke's account first.

The prayer is plainly divided into two parts. First we have God and His glory, and then man and his misery. His glory here is that of Father, and this name is to be held sacred, and is declared to be so by the disciple. This is a marvelous commencement, and the principle should be followed in all prayer. It first gives God His proper place, and then reveals the attitude of the petitioner toward Him. As the prayer is for provision and pardon and pity, how good it is to give God the place of Father! On earth children look for these things from the one to whom they are related by filial affection, not from strangers. And likewise, especially in the Orient, the father demands and receives the highest consideration and honor. His name is his most precious possession. In many eastern lands there is nothing so jealously guarded and protected as the "face" or reputation of the head of the house. All this the disciple transfers to his Father in the heavens.

While this prayer falls far short of what we have today, it also is far beyond of what was known before. As has already been shown, God had not revealed Himself to the nation of Israel as their Father, nor did He do so, even when His Son was on earth. This prayer is not for the nation, but for the disciples . There had always been two classes in Israel, those on the side of Jehovah and those against Him, those who clung to His worship and His temple, and those who served other gods and forsook Jerusalem. But there never was the distinct cleavage which was brought about by the presence of their Messiah among them in His humiliation. In their spiritual relationship to God the disciples went far beyond the nation as a whole. In figurative terms, this was expressed in the language of the future, when Israel will be born "again." They experienced an individual new birth and could claim God as their Father in heaven.

This expression "in heaven," is very striking when compared with the past and the future. In Israel their immediate fathers and their early forefathers had a very prominent place in their religion. In a sense their fathers on earth were essential to their whole religious outlook. They inherited their promises and place as God's priestly people from their fathers, and would lose it all if they could not establish their physical descent from them. The clause, "our Father who art in heaven," implied a great deal that we cannot well appreciate. It was no clean cut with their earthly place and blessing. By no means did it even hint that their place was in heaven, or that they would go there in the resurrection. It is very striking to note that Paul, in writing to the nations, never uses such a phrase, although we will rise to a place among the celestials and are already seated there in spirit. Our blessings are spiritual, with no earthly, physical allotment. We are in contact with God everywhere in prayer. Our earthly fathers play no part, as such, in spiritual relationship to God, so we need not add "in heaven" to our prayers.


The kingdom of the Father, like the kingdom of God, expresses a much wider and higher and more permanent conception than is generally associated with the term "kingdom." "The kingdom of the heavens" seems to be strictly limited to the reign of Christ during the day of the Lord, or Jehovah, in the millennium. Even at that time it seems that the kingdom of the Father includes only those begotten by His spirit, the faithful who recognize and appreciate His care and provision. During the eons the kingdom of the Father embraces a continually increasing company including those alone who seek to do His will. But at the end of the eons, when death is abolished and all are reconciled to God, then it is that the kingdom is given up to God, the Father, and all creatures will come under His beneficent, paternal rule. The prayer our Lord taught His disciples was not an appeal to place Israel in power over the nations, a kingdom such as the unregenerate Pharisees desired, but for that higher spiritual rule that will gradually grow until it embraces the whole race.


The kingdom consists essentially in doing His will. In fact, there is no need of any rule where there is unanimity. That is how it should be in the case of all who are led by God's spirit. And that is how it will be, when all sovereignty and authority and power are nullified at the consummation (1 Cor.15:23,24). The disciples were instructed to pray to that end. We might ask, why should they pray for this, when God had already determined that it should be so, and will certainly carry out His intention at the proper time, but in the far future? Their prayer certainly was not "answered!" Perhaps not, from their viewpoint. But it is being answered already in their case, for their prayer itself, and the desires which it awakens in their hearts, will lead them to do the Father's will. And it will be fully and perfectly fulfilled in their future experience in resurrection, when they see the kingdom gradually expand to include all Israel, and all mankind, and finally every spirit in the universe.

The phrase, "as in heaven, on earth also," presents a superficial difficulty. From Job's day (Job 1:6-12), until Satan is cast out of heaven with his messengers (Rev.12:7-9), it would seem that God's will is not being done in heaven, hence there seems to be little point in asking for the same on the earth. But this prayer was given at a time when the kingdom had drawn near, and the proper outlook of those who accepted the evangel of the kingdom was its coming without much delay. This very prayer opens with this thought. So that the context supplies the proper modification, that is, when the kingdom comes, then may thy will be done, as in heaven, on earth also. This is in full accord with the facts. After Satan and his messengers are ejected, before the kingdom is set up, then we may assume that God's will will be done in heaven. The prayer is that this may be true of the earth also. And this will gradually be the case, more and more, especially after Satan's final insurrection, and fully after the consummation.


Some of us may not relish the idea, but, as a matter of fact, we are all "on the dole." Apart from the ability given us by God, we could never earn the food needed to sustain our bodies. No doubt this will be clearly manifest in the kingdom, for then God will control the natural forces that produce food, so that all will know Whom to thank for their fare, and praise will go to Him for every good gift. The word here used, which we render "dole," is epiousion ON-BEING. The A.V. translates it "daily," but there is no hint of time in it. Perhaps our idiom, that which is dealt out to anyone, will best convey the idea. From the verb deal we get the noun dole, which, in its wider usages, described a share or lot . It seems especially fitting in this prayer, where the supplicant goes to the eventual Giver of every good thing for his portion for the day.

This petition was most fitting when used by our Lord's disciples, especially those who went about heralding the kingdom, as they lived from hand to mouth, as it were. They were not even to carry the usual beggars' bag (Matt.10:10; Mark 6:8; Luke 9:3). Of course, even if our barns are full to bursting, that is no guarantee that it will not all be destroyed before we are able to enjoy it. In that sense there would be nothing out of place in praying this prayer. But usually this formula is repeated thoughtlessly, when the petitioner has plenty in the refrigerator and may have a supply of preserved food for months, or the wherewithal to purchase it. Then its use seems little short of irreverence and hypocrisy. There is no harm in thanking God for such stores, but to beg for a day's rations when we have a week's reserve laid aside cannot be very pleasing to Him. That is saying your prayers, not praying them.


The greatest gift that God can bestow is His holy spirit. In Matthew, with its narrower outlook, our Lord mentions all good things, in place of this essential one. Yet both agree, for all good is involved and included in the holy spirit. Now that the disciples know God as their Father, our Lord encourages them to act accordingly, in their prayers to Him. Even an earthly father can be relied upon to give good things to his son. If a child asks for bread, for food, he will not, instead, hand out a stone, which will not nourish his body. For a fish he will not substitute a serpent, which might bite and harm him, a scorpion, which could sting him and cause excruciating pain, or even death. Wicked as mortals are inherently, few are so lacking in natural affection as to do such things. If, then, God establishes a like revelationship with the disciples, they may rest assured that He will not take advantage of their requests to harm them. He will not, instead of the dole of bread, supply them with food lacking in nurture, or a dangerous or deadly diet (Luke 11:11-13).


Our Lord contrasts their heavenly Father with a mere friend who refuses to be inconvenienced in order to do his friend a favor. Often this parable is interpreted as though God were like this lukewarm friend, and the conclusion drawn is, that we must keep on pestering Him if we want Him to do as we wish. He will eventually do it to get rid of us. But this is just the opposite of the prime object of prayer. God wants to commune with us, but He does not want us to think Him niggardly and unkind, unwilling to be put out to fulfill our wishes. The opposite is true, even though it may not seem so sometimes. All should approach Him with confidence that God will always give what they request. All shall find what they seek. He will open to those who knock. But all in due time. The saints will find every prayer fulfilled when they are vivified. And all the rest will be satisfied when they are made alive at the consummation.

But even with the Circumcision, it must be the prayer of faith. James, speaking to the twelve tribes, the nation from the physical standpoint, says to them: "You are requesting and not obtaining, because you are requesting evilly, that you should be spending it on your gratifications" (James 4:3). The unbelieving nation of Israel has prayed fervently for nearly two thousand years for the kingdom. They have tried to establish it by force, even as they are doing today. They will succeed in setting up a counterfeit kingdom by means of their wealth in Babylon. But such prayers and such efforts of the apostate nation are based upon their desire for power and pleasure, with a hypocritical and formal acknowledgment of Jehovah. Such prayers will not be answered during the eons. Those who say them will not be satisfied until the consummation. Let us note that the prayer in the parable did not want anything for himself, but for another.


Pardon is the proper word for the kingdom, for it is the prerogative of the political power. But how far short it falls of justification! It is not gratuitous by His grace, but deserving, based upon conduct. If the grace which comes to us in Christ Jesus were measured by that which we show to others, how restricted it would be! There could be no riches of grace, or transcendent favor, for we are in no position to show this to others. Few of the saints would even deserve pardon, for they are not noted for this trait. And among the disciples of our Lord some did fall away. Judas was the most notorious example. The epistle to the Hebrews speaks of others. Let us never pray for a pardon conditioned upon our own conduct! No matter how kind and gracious we may consider ourselves, it is nothing compared to the fullness of favor which is ours in Christ Jesus.


"Mayest Thou not bring us into trial" is a strictly kingdom prayer. When it has come, the evil eons will be past. Under Christ's beneficent rule, good will be the order of the day. Those who abide in Him need fear no evil. But what a contrast is the experience of our apostle, Paul! He suffered much indeed. Alexander displayed to him much evil. The Lord did not deliver him from it. All he could do was to warn the saints to guard against him because he had withstood Paul's words. Paul does not say that he prayed to be kept out of this severe trial. He suffered much weariness and blows and flogging and stoning and fasting and thirst and famine and cold and nakedness and in solicitude for all the ecclesias (2 Cor.11:23-28). When he was given a splinter in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet him, he did entreat the Lord thrice, that it should withdraw from him. But the answer was no! The Lord protested to him, "Sufficient for you is My grace, for My power in infirmity is perfected." He was a marvelous healer, even at a distance (Acts 19:12). But, in this administration, he himself was not healed!


The disciples will be rescued from the wicked in the kingdom. But we are protected against spiritual forces of wickedness in quite another way. Just as God uses evil for our good, so we are open to attack from spiritual powers, and can shield ourselves only by means of the panoply of truth and righteousness and peace, and must defend ourselves by faith and God's declarations (Eph.6:10-17). Yet we are confident that the evil which does come to us by this means, like Paul's splinter in the flesh, will be used by God for our good, and is necessary in order to fit us for our future mission among the celestials. Nevertheless, let us don all this protective armor and stand, not merely to gain a name for ourselves, but to bring glory and honor to Him under Whom we have enlisted.


The one part of this prayer which should not be our petition under any circumstances, is the prayer for pardon. It is conditioned on human conduct, which is perfectly fitting in the adjudication of the earthly kingdom, but is utterly contrary to the grace of God in this administration, which imparts God's righteousness to the believer, and on the ground of the death and resurrection of Christ . Although I pardon freely those who owe me aught, I would shudder to use that as a ground of God's pardoning me, or the measure in which God absolves me from sin. The vain repetition of this part of the prayer may be the cause of the fearful ignorance of God's transcendent grace, and the almost utter disappearance of the evangel of His righteousness and reconciliation.


When applied to the whole nation of Israel, this principle was the underlying cause of their apostasy. In the parable of the ten thousand talent debtor (Matt.18:23) our Lord foretold the course of events in Israel. He prayed for them on the cross, "Father, forgive them, for they are not aware what they are doing" (Luke 23:34). So, instead of destroying the nation for the crucifixion of their Messiah, pardon is proclaimed once more on the day of pentecost. But the Jews would not tolerate the extension of this blessing to the nations. When Paul spoke to reverent proselytes in Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:14-52), the Jews were filled with jealousy, and contradicted him. Their accumulating debt, due to their rejection of Jehovah and the murder of His Messiah, did not lead them to pardon the much smaller sum owed by the nations for their apostasy from God. Consequently, the pardon of Israel, as a nation, was withdrawn, and now they are still suffering and paying installments on their enormous debt.

A striking feature of this prayer is generally overlooked. Although given to His disciples, it is all in the plural: Our Father...Give us our daily dole...pardon us...for we, ourselves...owing us...bring us not...rescue us. They were still Israelites, still members of the favored nation, and their prayer was not each for himself as an individual, but for their whole nation . The kingdom did not come because only a few accepted their Messiah. It will not arrive until the nation repents and looks upon Him whom they pierced. No one can pray this prayer intelligently on his own account, for the plural includes others. It is very difficult for us, of the nations, to grasp this fully. If we should pray that the kingdom should come, we would pray, not for us, but for Israel . The kingdom will be given to them, not to us.

We can say part of the "Lord's" prayer today, but other parts of it are out of place. "Our Father" is suitable at all times, when a child of God is seeking paternal aid or communion. But we need not locate Him in the heavens, for, in spirit, in which alone we find our blessings, He is with us everywhere, "Hallowed be Thy name" may be said today, but we should rather rise higher and bless Him as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. "Thy kingdom come" is in tune with His purpose at all times, but the particular application which the Circumcision disciples would have in mind, the millennial kingdom on the earth, is not in accord with our expectation, which is to be caught away from the earth and enjoy our blessings among the celestials. "As in heaven" is not true now, but will be when the kingdom on earth is established.

The second part of the prayer, concerned with the disciples themselves, has far less that is pertinent now. Few of us live day by day as they did, so need not pray for our daily dole of bread. We do not pray for pardon of sins when we have God's righteousness. Nor do we base anything upon our treatment of others. We pray for endurance to bear the trials God sends us, rather than to be relieved of them. And we are equipped to stand and defend ourselves from the spiritual forces of wickedness. How thankful we should be that our prayer's are so far beyond those of the disciples! As our place in the heavens is high above the earth, so should the spirit of our petitions transcend those of the favored nation. Glory be to God for the grace which is ours in Christ Jesus!


OUR LORD was often in the prayer of God, but it is seldom that we are given a record of the words that He used or the contents of His petitions. But in John's account a whole chapter is devoted to His communion with the Father. We are taken, so to speak, into the very holy of holies, and are given the precious privilege of listening to the most marvelous and intimate interchange of thought between the Son and the Father in regard to His mission to Israel on the earth. The circumstances are such that we would expect a recital of the sins that surround Him and a plea for protection from the evil devices of the adversary. Instead, as becomes the golden altar of incense, He is occupied with His glories and those of His disciples.

In meditating on any passage in the accounts of our Lord's life it will help us much to get an intelligent grasp of its message if we keep in mind which account contains it, and in what part of each account it occurs. This is comparatively simple if we keep in mind their skeletons as given at the end of the Keyword Concordance. For those who have not, as yet, one of these in their possession, we will repeat, briefly, the important facts, so that we may understand the crisis which called for the Lord's lengthy prayer in the seventeenth of John.

Christ's glory and His humiliation are the two great themes which are set forth in the accounts of His life and ministry. Matthew writes of His glory as the King of Israel, while John correspondingly reveals this glory as the Son of God. Mark and Luke are occupied principally with His humiliation, the former as the Servant and the latter as the Son of Man. We should remember this in reading them, and place them as the backdrop of every scene and incident they contain. For example, the Lord's prayer in John is not based upon His royal rights, His lowly service or His descent to human form, but upon the glory of His divine sonship.

Furthermore, all of the accounts have the same general skeleton, that is, they treat of the same subjects in the same order. Each one has a central crisis, after which the same subjects again occupy our attention, but in reverse order. Up to the crisis He is heralded, after the crisis He is rejected. It is often vital to the understanding of a passage to keep these things in view. The standard formula for all of the accounts may be condensed to this: Credentials, Baptism, Kingdom, King : : King, Kingdom, Baptism, Credentials. For example, our Lord's prayer, which we are about to consider, occurs at the end of the rejection of the Kingdom, and can be understood and appreciated only as we view it in this light.

More definite and detailed indications of what to expect in our Lord's prayer can be gained if we trace the matter still further in the skeleton. The period dealing with the rejection of the kingdom (John 11:54-18:1), divides into two corresponding sections, both of which deal with His departure (11:-54=12:-36), hostility (11:55-12:19=12:37-50), and the hour of His glorification (12:20-36-=13:1-17:26), but the former half is concerned with the throng and the Greeks, the latter with the disciples and the Father. In this latter discussion of His glorification He first speaks to His disciples (13:1-16:33), then prays to His Father (17:1-26). Such is the setting of this most marvelous of the communications between the Son of God and His Father.


To condense it briefly, in a single sentence: God reveals Himself in Christ in the Greek Scriptures, veiled in flesh in the four Accounts, as the Son of God in John, as communicating with His Father in regard to the rejected kingdom and His disciples in our Lord's prayer in the seventeenth chapter of John. If all expositors would introduce their subjects after this fashion, tracing them, figuratively speaking, from the main stem, through the big boughs and the diminishing branches to the fruit, we would not so often be deceived, and be handed a lemon picked from a sycamore tree, or an olive from a fig. We should always view every passage in the light of its place in the whole of God's revelation, and in each secondary division in which it finds its place. Then we would never "take" or "apply" or "appropriate" (or purloin, or pilfer, or filch, or steal) a prayer which belongs to our Lord's disciples, and pertains to His kingdom at its rejection, for ourselves, especially when we can enjoy it much more when we leave it to its rightful owners.

Ever since His rejection as King, after the Jews sought to kill Him, He no longer walked in Judea (John 7:1), and began His return to the Father. He had come out from God and now was on His way back to Him. Significantly, this, the principal crisis in His career on earth, came at the festival of tabernacles (John 7:2). It suggests that, as in the days of the tabernacle in the wilderness, the priest, in passing into the presence of God, made his way by the altar and laver in the court, and the lampstand and showbread and golden altar in the holy place, and passed the curtains into the holy of holies with its ark and cherubim and the shekinah glory, so now He, in the same order, wends His way back to the Father. Indeed, the narrative commences with a suggestion of His sacrifice, for the Jews were out to kill Him.

The prayer itself can best be grasped and enjoyed when we see the subjects and their marvelous balance. At its commencement (1-8) and at its close (24-26) we are occupied with the Glory of the Son. Then, second, as well as second from the end, is a plea for Unity (9-11:20-23). In the center the subject is the Keeping of the Disciples. This divides into two complementary parts, Christ's keeping (12-14) and God's (15-19). In general the Son is the subject at the beginning and the end, just as He is First and the Last in the greater themes of creation and salvation. And the center is taken up with the Disciples, their Unity and Protection. Yet all of this is in view of the failure of the Kingdom heralding, and His consequent departure.

1-5--6-8 Glorification-Recognition 24--25-26
9-11 Unification 20-23
12-14  (Christ) ------ Keep Disciples --------- (God) 15-19


1- Son 5
-1 Father 4
2  Gift ------- Eonian Life ------- Purpose 3


6 Name 26
7-8 Son Sent 25


12-13  Words -------------- Purpose ---------------- Works 18-19
14- Given ---------------- Word ------------------- Truth 17
-14 Not of the World 15-16

He Himself is the Way, the true and living Way (John 14:6). No one else can come to the Father except through Him. But He is also represented by all that is on the way. He is the Door, as well as the Shepherd Who lays down His soul for the sake of the sheep (John 10). He is the Laver, but not alone for outward cleaning. He provides life-giving water which not only hallows but satisfies and vivifies (John 7:37-39). He is also the Lampstand, for He is the Light of the world, and gives the light of life (John 8:12). He makes even the blind to see (John 9:1-6). At the so-called "last supper" He is the "Show-bread," or bread of the presence, and shares Himself with the disciples (John 13). And then, in the prayer He offers we recognize Him as the Incense as well as the Golden Altar, just before the curtain. Soon after this the Curtain was rent and He became the Propitiatory. But, at this time He stops before the altar to offer incense in this most marvelous of all His prayers.


Christ is the Antitype of the golden altar on which incense ascends as a savor of rest up to the Deity. Only through Him can we send up to God our prayers of appreciation and praise. This incense was of a very special composition, and was used only for the worship of Jehovah. As all else in God's dwelling places was designed to be a physical representation of spiritual realities, we may be certain that the ingredients which composed it will tell us much of the composition of that which pleases and glorifies God in His worship. We will therefore consider each of its components and seek to discover what qualities will yield a fragrant odor when offered on the altar, Christ.

Strange as it may seem, almost all have some most disagreeable quality, bitterness, or blackness, or a bad odor, so that they offend one of our senses, taste, sight or smell, tongue, eyes or nostrils. This may be divine illustrations of the function of evil in the eons. When substances which are repugnant to our senses are transformed by the fire into sweet, soothing incense, it may help us to see how God transmutes the evils which we abhor into sweet praise for His name. Bitter burdens, black experiences, bad behavior, all may be turned, by the alchemy of His sacrifice, into light loads and bright events and good conduct, which ascends to the presence of God, in worship and adoration, through the cross of Christ, our Lord.


The material ingredients of the incense used on the golden altar are not accurately known, but we have endeavored to sift the evidence very carefully (Lev.30:34). The first one is simply called a drop (ntph) in Hebrew, the same word used in Job 36:27 for drops of water. The Greek version calls it staktee, our stacte, which also means drop, but was used of special kinds of aloe or cinnamon or myrrh. The Septuagint is woefully loose in this case, as staktee is used of aloe, of labdanum and of carbuncle, as well as of myrrh. An ancient author, speaking of myrrh, says the drops which exude from the tree of their own accord, without an incision, is called "stacte," i.e. drop, which makes the best of all myrrh. So it seems that the principal ingredient of the incense used in the worship of God by Israel, was drop myrrh, the natural, not artificial exudation, which probably exceeded all others in its bitterness.

And is not this in fullest and finest accord with the spiritual ingredients of praise and worship, especially in the case of our Lord? The fumes ascending from myrrh are most agreeable, but it is so exceedingly bitter to the taste that the Hebrew name is simply the stem mr of the word mrre, bitterness. His course, since he left the Father and began his messianic ministry, was bitterly bitter. His own brothers did not believe on Him. His neighbors tried to hurl Him to death. His people rejected Him. The scribes derided Him. The priests, and elders sought to murder Him. All His efforts seemed to be a complete failure. Instead of the crown of the kingdom, He was about to be wreathed with thorns. Instead of the most glorious throne on earth He was soon to occupy the most ignominious and shameful place in the universe, gibbeted as a dangerous criminal on the cross of shame.

He has endured it all, and in this way has glorified God on the earth, and finished the work God gave Him to do. There is a tremendous lesson here for those who have eyes to see it. During the evil eons glory comes to God, not through great success, not through the winning of vast multitudes for Him, but through bitter experiences of defeat and through a few faltering followers, and rejection by the religious world. In this regard our course should agree with His, for we know that mankind as a whole will repudiate the evangel of God's grace just as Israel rejected the gospel of the kingdom. And glory arises today from this bitter way, and ascends to the nostrils of God as incense, a restful perfume most acceptable to Him, when His messengers to the nations are persecuted, just as it did when the great Herald of the kingdom was despised and forsaken, except by a faltering few. The incense that ascends from a martyr, burning at the stake, is the delight of God's heart.


The second ingredient is also much easier to understand spiritually than to ascertain materially. It is simply black. This is applied to the black lion, because this color is so unusual. Here it seems to indicate the black murex shell, which was the base of most oriental forms of incense. Spiritually, the name is most suggestive, for it points to everything that is black, or opposed to the light. Just as the bitter is most unpalatable to the taste so the black is unwelcome to the eyes. Just as the persecution He endured was bitter to His soul, but fragrant in God's nostrils, so the depravity of men, which appalled Him and cast a gloom upon His spirit, ascended to God as a sweet odor when fumed upon the altar.


Galbanum, the third ingredient, gives us another contrast. Its Hebrew name, chlbne, seems to be a combination of chlb MILK or fat and lbn WHITE, that is, MILK-WHITE. It was probably a gum resin which resembles asafetida, with the same fetid odor. The myrrh was bitter to the taste, the murex was black to the sight, now the galbanum is a stench to the nostrils. So was our Lord's ministry an offense to His people.


But not all the ingredients of the incense which ascended on the golden altar are disagreeable to the soul in their native state. The frankincense was a fragrant gum resin, agreeable to the eyes and, though it has a faint turpentine flavor, is not bad to the taste. So with the spiritual counterpart. In our Lord's ministry, and in all efforts for God's glory during the evil eons, there is a measure of pleasure as well as pain, there are men who hear as well as the many who will not harken, some who see as well as the majority who are blinded, and those who accept with pleasure as well as masses who are offended. Frankincense by itself is the usual incense today, and this is an apt ingredient to picture God's pleasure in that which is in accord with His will.


The only other ingredient seems to have been salt. This was added to keep it from going to corruption, as, indeed, it is widely used today. Our Lord knew no corruption, not even of His is flesh, in death. So it is not one of the ingredients of the incense, but an added element which is most necessary when we seek to solid up our worship in the incense of praise and adoration. It seems to suggest that which was largely lacking in Israel's worship, but abundant in our Lord's career, that is discipline. If the walk is corrupt, the worship is a stench in the nostrils of God. No matter how it appears outwardly, no matter how vast and successful our career may be, if it does not conform to the Scriptures, it lacks the salt, apart from which God is not well pleased.

Our Lord cannot be accused of lack of love, for He gave His whole soul for the salvation of the lost. Nevertheless there were times when He seemed to be excessively harsh. When He exposed the Pharisees He called them the progeny of vipers (Matt.3:7). Even when He rebuked a beloved disciple, He did not hesitate to use a term which we could not use without reflecting upon our own conduct. He called Peter a satan, the Hebrew title of the adversary (Matt.16:23). This salt was rather sharp, but it was most necessary. The disciples were the salt of the earth, but how could they be if they themselves were corrupt in their conduct?

The offerings also demanded salt. It must not be lacking. On the other hand no leaven or yeast or even honey was allowed on the present or "meat" offering (Lev.2:11-13). They could have oil and frankincense, but no honey. Does this not suggest to our minds such natural sweetness as conflicts with God's will and condones evil? A father should be fond of his child, but he should not fail to admonish and correct it on that account. We should be fondly affectionate with our friends, but let us not allow this to influence our attitude in case of misconduct. Honey is good (Prov.24:13) yet it is not good when eaten in excess (Prov.25:27). It should not interfere with helpful discipline, or enter into our spiritual relationships. Its sweetness should never be found in the incense of praise and prayer. Our Lord did not include a petition for Judas.


The opening and closing thoughts of this prayer reveal to us the very heart of God's purpose in the Greek Scriptures, as well as the method of attaining it. God's glory is made manifest in the glorification of His Son. On the other hand, He imparts eonian life to make it possible for His disciples to get this knowledge. It is a marvelous condensation of the object of all creation and revelation. God is inherently and infinitely glorious, but it is far too bright for mortal gaze. It must be reflected so that we can look upon it. First, we are introduced to it in the shadows of the Hebrew Scriptures, then we see it in the Son, but not at a glance. We must have time to look and learn. For this purpose we are given eonian life. After all have learned the lesson, then they will have indissoluble life at the consummation, but that will be the result, not the means of a knowledge of God's glory.


The closing period of the lowly life of the Son of God has arrived. In anticipation of its end He prays to the Father, for this will be impossible while He is under the curse of the cross, forsaken for our sins. So that the exact time which He assumes in spirit is when He cries, "It is accomplished!" (John 19:30). Then it is that He gives up the spirit, and then it is that the work which the Father had given to Him was finished (John 17:4).


His first thought is to glorify the Father. He had glorified Him on earth in humiliation, now He desires to do it by a totally different method, by means of His own glory. It is most striking to note these different methods in connection with the two evangels. The apostles had continued with Him in His trials (Luke 2:28). No one who had not been with Him from the baptism of John until His ascension could be numbered with the twelve apostles (Acts 1:22). But He met Saul of Tarsus in glory above the brightness of the mid-day sun. This is the glory for which He asked the Father in this prayer.


THE DAVIDIC DYNASTY had a very delightful beginning. The shepherd king never asked for a continuance of his line. Indeed, instead of being concerned with his own affairs, he was thinking of the glory of God. He was dwelling in a house of cedar, a very rare and rich structure for his day, while the coffer of God was lodged under a covering of sheets. This did not seem right to him, so he desired to build a house magnifical of gold and silver and of costly stones and cedar, more in keeping with the glory of Jehovah's name. This greatly pleased his God, for it manifested an unselfish and grateful heart, in which the Deity delights (2 Sam.7:1-17).

The tabernacle and the temple were not really David's affair. He had been anointed to be king, not chief priest. Indeed, he could not be, as he was not of the house of Aaron. But what priest has composed so many and such precious psalms in praise of Jehovah God? But he never ventured to intrude into the priestly prerogatives like Uzziah, who dared go into the temple to burn incense, and was stricken with leprosy for his transgression (2 Chron.26:16). But he did put the worship of God before the welfare of men, for he knew that this is the source of all blessing. This is the great lesson to be learned from history. It is nowhere more fully and clearly illustrated than in the chronicles of the house of David. If his seed had inherited his spirit of worship, its record would have been very different. But the failures are clearly set forth as due to departures from the ways and worship of Jehovah.

Because David was so eager for God to have a house suited to His splendor, Jehovah turned the tables on him and promised him a "house," that is, that his name should be carried on by his descendants, and his throne should be established for the eon. This assured him of political headship for the eons. It will be finally fulfilled by God's Anointed, whose parents were both descendants of David. Joseph was of the spiritual and legal line, and Mary, His mother, the physical link. This made Him the Seed and Son of David and Heir to his throne. His domain will reach even further than was promised to David, even until all rule is ruled out, and the kingdom becomes the Father's.

The Davidic dynasty is God's delegate in ruling the nations of the earth. He had given Adam, and his race, the right to sway over the lower creatures because they are disposers like Himself, so far as these are concerned (Gen.1:28). He also inaugurated the rule of man over man after the deluge (Gen.9:6). From this sprang nations. Of Abram He promised to make a great nation to bless all the rest (Gen.12:2). He Himself was the King of Israel when they became a nation, after their deliverance from Egypt. He ruled through priests and prophets and judges. But the people rejected Him and called for a human king, like the other nations. As a result He gave them two dynasties, first the "house" of Saul, according to the wishes of the people, and when he failed, He gave them David, a man in harmony with His own heart, and his "house," from which came the Son of David, the Lord of lords and King of kings.


Meanwhile, until the coming of David's greater Son, the seed of David was not to continue in an unbroken line, for the covenant of the kingdom was contingent on their conduct. His first follower, Solomon, carried out David's wish and built the magnificent temple to which his name is attached. But he was not true to Jehovah in his later years, so his successors were corrected with the club of a mortal, as Jehovah had foretold. He even sent His prophet to appoint Jeroboam to be king over the ten tribes before Solomon's death. And, when Rehoboam, his son, wished to fight for the throne, Jehovah would not allow him to do so (1 Kings 11:26-40).

Ever since the days of Solomon, Israel has been under the discipline of the club. The mortals were of two kinds, first, the kings of the ten tribes, the successors of Jeroboam, against David's seed on the throne of Judah, and, second, the kings of the nations against the whole of Israel. For David's sake Solomon was spared the division, and Judah was given a longer tenancy in the land than Israel. Today, once more, a remnant of the nation is in the land, and they have chosen themselves a president. But they have paid no attention whatever to the claims of David's seed, so they will suffer their greatest affliction under the club of the false messiah. Yet this will prepare them for the advent of the Son of David, and their place of supremacy over the nations in the day of Jehovah.

In response, David's figurative posture and mental attitude will give us the first and finest clue to his character. He sat before Jehovah. He was at rest in His presence. He had led a very active life, and would have gladly continued and crowned his life work by building a splendid sanctuary for the God of Israel. But he was not hurt or offended by Jehovah's refusal to grant his request. Indeed, though he did not actually erect the temple himself, he provided the site, and prepared for the building by accumulating a vast amount of the material. His lifelong experience had taught him to bow to the will of Jehovah with gladnesss, for he was assured that Jehovah withheld no good from His people.

Not only his attitude, but his words, are most significant. "Who am I?" "What is my house?" Here we see exemplified a primary and prevailing principle in God's government. He who is exalting himself shall be humbled, yet he who is humbling himself shall be exalted (Luke 18:14). Eventually all will be headed up in Him Who was meek and humble in heart (Matt.11:29), not in the son of destruction who lifts himself above all others, even the Deity Himself (2 Thess.2:3-5; Dan.11:36). Headship is not inherent in mortal man, and is his, not because of his qualifications or ability, but only as a gift from God. Nebuchadnezzar had not been taught this in his experience, as David was, so had to learn it in a short time by severe discipline. This also was true of David's successors and the nation of Israel. Their trials and persecutions are God's means of preparing them for their headship.


David's name is a key to his character. I cannot recollect ever seeing its meaning given as anything else than "Beloved." But this fails to bring out the principal point, and implies that God loves only those whom He likes, which is a fundamental and fatal error. God is love. He loves all His creatures. He so loved the world that He gave His Son for its salvation. He loved all of Israel. He even loved Saul, who had disobeyed Him, and was deposed from his place as king of Israel. Headship is not based on this love alone, or all would become sovereigns and leave no subjects. The Hebrew word for love is aeb, not dud. The law demanded that they should love their associate as themselves. They were even required to love foreigners who sojourned among them (Deut.10:19).


The stem of David, in Hebrew, denotes AFFECTION, fondness, dearness, darling. English does not seem to have a single expression to cover the case. It corresponds to the stem phil in Greek, which we use in many names, such as Philemon and Philetus and Theophilus (God-FOND) and Philadelphia (FOND-BROTHER). Many examples will be found under the stem FOND in the C.V. Concordance. Its force is clearly seen in the word agreeable (TOWARD-FOND). We are told to love our enemies, but we are not asked to be fond of them, or make friends of them, any more than God was fond of Saul, or His other enemies, who are not in accord with His heart, as David was. In John's account we not only read of God's love for the world (John 3:16), but of His fondness for His Son (John 5:20) and for the disciples (John 16:27).

It is remarkable that the word fond is especially introduced into the relationship of Peter, one of the pillars among the apostles, who rule the tribes of Israel, to the Son of David, Who will rule the world. When our Lord asks Simon Peter, "Are you loving Me more than these?" the apostle did not insist that he loved Him, but used the term more expressive of his personal affection, "Thou art aware that I am fond of Thee." As in the case of David, he was in accord with the heart of His Lord. Once more the Lord used the word "love," but the third time He also changes to "fond." And each time, in response to the expression of personal affection, Peter is given the shepherd commission, which invested him with headship when the Chief Shepherd takes His place over Israel.


David had been anointed king over Israel while Saul was still reigning, long before he ascended the throne. In this he was a type of the rejected, persecuted Messiah. But even after he had been king for some time, he had not received any promise for his seed. It was only after he had defeated the enemies of Israel and sat in his own house at peace, that the question of his "house," or dynasty, came up. David was not primarily concerned about his future descendants, but about a proper habitation for Jehovah. It was his solicitude for the glory of God that drew out the response of Jehovah and the throne covenant. Through Abraham Israel had the covenant as to the land, because he believed God, which will be fulfilled by the Son of Abraham. Through David came the covenant as to the throne, because he honored Jehovah, which will be fulfilled by the Son of David, when He comes.


The principal concern of the reign of David was the habitation of Jehovah. In the first half he brings the tabernacle back to its place in the midst of Jehovah's people. As a result, he is prospered in all his efforts and conflicts, so that he was at rest. Once again his thoughts turn to Jehovah's dwelling, and he laments that it is only a temporary tent, while he lives in a permanent palace, as though Jehovah was paying a fleeting visit, while David himself was a fixture! His desire was that Jehovah have a permanent place in the midst of His people, and in such a splendor as befits His glory.

It was this desire of David to give Jehovah a terrestrial temple to be the immovable, permanent center of Israel's worship, which prompted Jehovah to give David a covenant to correspond to it, by promising him a permanent royal "house." Thus God's rule as well as worship will be established in Israel for the future. And with this in mind, David once more takes his seat before Jehovah and gives vent to his feelings of thankfulness, not only for himself, but for Israel also, and prays for those who form his future "house" (2 Sam.7:18-29).

The very form of David's prayer shows that it is vivified by divine inspiration. He balances his thanksgiving for himself (18-22) by a petition for his house (25-29), and, parenthetically, for the whole nation of Israel (23,24). Even his own abasement (18) he beautifully balances with the exaltation of Jehovah (22), and God's promise (19) with His heart (20,21). We have all heard human prayers, and multitudes have been composed to assist us in our devotions, but where is one that is so naturally and delightfully formed? This, of course, is a minor matter in itself, but as an intimation and expression of God's spirit, it is most suitable and in accord with the sentiments conveyed, and marks it, not merely as a prayer of David, but also a prayer of God.


"Who am I?" The ancestors of David were nothing to boast about, unless it be that his great grandmother was Ruth. But she was a Moabitess, and no man of her race could enter into the assembly of Jehovah (Deut.23:3). Notwithstanding her faith and lovely character, she was not an asset in Israel. In his own family David was last and least, He was not a firstborn son by any means, but an eighth-born, for he had seven older brothers. His eldest brother evidently excelled him so far as stature and outward appearance were concerned, even though he was ruddy, with lovely eyes (1 Sam.16:12). On the other hand, he was descended from Abraham, and Israel, and of the tribe of Judah, to which the scepter, or club of pre-eminence belonged, although among the lowest of these. This was his inheritance from the past.

But his present position was very high, indeed, and might easily have filled him with self-importance and pardonable pride. Had he not slain Goliath, and saved Israel from a humiliating defeat (1 Sam.17:23-51)? He it was of whom the women sang, saying,

"Saul smites his thousands,
Yet David his myriads" (1 Sam.18:7).

He it was who had brought Israel rest from their enemies, and prosperity and power such as they had never had before. He it was who had led the praises of Israel. He had brought back the coffer of Jehovah. And He was now concerned to build a temple for the honor of His name. Who else could boast of any feats comparable to these? But his greatest accomplishment, by far, was his knowledge of Jehovah, which made him small in his own sight, so that he humbled himself, and deemed himself altogether unworthy of these new honors.


In the orient, perhaps the greatest disgrace is not to have a son, and the greatest honor to found a dynasty made up of a continuous chain of sons. David's thanksgiving was, first of all, confined to the blessings he had already enjoyed. But this he considers a small thing in Jehovah's eyes, for now he was promised immeasurably more in the far future. And, indeed, what did David's honors amount to up to this time, compared with those which come to Him as the founder of the Davidic dynasty of many kings, or of even One, the Son of David, the Messiah of Israel? He will not only be the King of Israel, but King of all other kings. Indeed, He will subject all under the Father's feet, and then Himself be subject, so that God is All in all.


The A.V. makes the following unanswered question: "And is this the manner of man, O Lord God?" This seems to imply that man does not act in this way. But the Revisers, seeing that it is not a question in Hebrew, make it a statement: "And this, too, after the manner of men." This suggests that men do act this way. Neither of these are in accord with the context. The Hebrew reads, "And this [is] the law of mankind [the human]." If we had a sublinear which shows the stems, it would read, AND THIS AIM of THE TO-be-LIKE. We might render this freely. This is the aim of the one who is like [God, the Disposer]. David, himself, in one of his psalms, is the best commentator on this text. Speaking of man and his mission, he says (Psa.8:5,6)

And with glory and honor art Thou crowning him.
The rule art Thou giving him among that made by Thy hands.

God's aim with mankind was announced to Adam at his creation (Gen.1:26). The sphere of his sway is gradually enlarged from being "like" adm God in relation to the lower creatures, to include the headship of a family, a nation, all mankind, and all creation. It culminates in the subjection of all to Christ as the Son of Adam and the Son of David, and the Son of God. Of all the circumcision writers, David seems to have a greater grasp of this truth than any other, hence he refers to it as the "law" of mankind. He finds himself in the line of God's purpose. He realizes that God is fulfilling his own delight in thus dealing with him, so that there is no need for him to be great or worthy in order to have a place in His plan.

But these thoughts overwhelm David, much as Paul was compelled to confess that we are not aware what we should pray for (Rom.8:27). So he falls back on the comforting consciousness that God is aware, and says "Thou knowest Thy servant...." He does not need to explore for any merit in himself to find a basis for God's blessing. Jehovah does it for the sake of His own Word, and in harmony with His own heart. Perhaps we are in a better position than David to see that Jehovah needed a character like him to typify the coming One, Who does deserve all the greatness that came to David, and far more, and will fulfill that which David only foreshadowed (20,21).

David had commenced this portion of his prayer, which concerned himself (18-22), with a confession of his own worthlessness. Now he closes it with an acclamation of Jehovah's greatness. "Great art thou, Jehovah God, for there is no one as Thou art, and there is no God except Thee among all of whom we hear with our ears" (22). What a fitting finish for this "selfish" part of the prayer! He now turns away from his private interests to the nation with which his lot is cast (23,24) and then to the "house," his future seed, which was the impulse to the prayer, to begin with.


"Who are as Thy people, as Israel? Is there another nation in the earth which is guided by God...?" (23). What a contrast with "Who am I?" (18)! David fully realized, what few of the chosen people have ever comprehended, that the blessing of Israel is not dependent on their worthiness, but upon Jehovah's glory, for His fame follows from their welfare. He had already used them to make known His fame, by delivering them from Egypt. And now He needed only to perform His own promises, and glorify His own name, in order to bring them eonian bliss. In fact, their utter unworthiness during this wicked eon will only enhance His glory in the eons of the eons, when the Son of David is on the throne.


David was not allowed to build the temple. He could supply some of the material of Jehovah's house, but left its erection to his son, Solomon. Is this not a physical parallel to the spiritual truth that his sons and successors never succeeded in making a permanent abode for Jehovah, but have left it for David's greater Son, the Messiah? The promise was that David's seed should build Jehovah's house (13), but David knew fairly well what is in man, so he had little confidence in him. He himself had written (Psa.8:4): "What is a mortal, that Thou art mindful of him?" So, in his prayer, he boldly claims that Jehovah of Hosts, the God of Israel, had said, "A house will I build for you" (27).

Although David's prayer has no direct application to us today, the spirit of it is far above that which prevails among us. This should not be, for we have been shown grace far beyond that revealed in David's day, and have been enriched, with spiritual celestial blessings of which he could have no conception. It should help us to see how utterly absent was his dependence on man, either himself or his house, and how strong was his confidence in God. To faith, his prayer has already been answered, for the Son of David, through His humiliation, His sacrifice, His resurrection, ascension and coming again, has not only prepared for a temple much more magnificent than ever Solomon's, but laid the foundation for a spiritual house, composed of all His saints, in whom He now makes His home, and which will be His permanent habitation for the eons and further.


THE PRAISE AND PRAYER at the dedication of the temple of Solomon is, like the building itself, a magnifical fabric of gold and silver and incorruptible thoughts, more valuable and indestructible than any other work in the worship of ancient times. This inaugural petition, when compared with its fulfillment as recorded in later history and prophecy, will help us much to perceive the place of prayer in God's dealings with His creatures. Wherever it calls for human cooperation, it fails to be fulfilled. Nevertheless, after man's impotence has been manifested, then God steps in and brings about a grand and glorious conclusion, as the final fulfillment.

The prayer of Solomon ascends to Jehovah in the crisis of a divine demonstration. God is staging the tragedy of Human Government in the land of Israel for all the world to see. And He has had it recorded for all future generations to read. It was not enacted to merely entertain, nor written for pious edification. It is God's means of teaching us a vital lesson that men and messengers must learn in order to enter into the joy and satisfaction of God's grand ultimate.

The two introductory scenes in the tragedy of Human Government, as revealed through the nation of Israel, had already been staged. They epitomized all that was to follow. Saul was a man's man. David was a man of God. Saul depicted the glory and energy of the flesh. He towered tall above the heads of all the people. Physically he was the superior of everyone. He should have fought and conquered Goliath. Instead, his physical inferior, the little lad, David, is given the kingdom and promised it in perpetuity to his descendants, because he did not rely on his own strength, but on the help of God.

In Solomon we reach a climax and a turning point. He brings the kingdom to its highest glory, yet leads it to a cataclysm from which it has not yet recovered. Nor will it ever be restored to the power and splendor of the days of David and Solomon until the Messiah, David's greater Son, brings it back to God in the eons of the eons. There are two significant facts which should not escape us if we desire to get a grasp of the great lesson which the kingdom is intended to teach. The first is that Christ is not presented as the Son of Solomon, but of David. The second is that the kingdom was not restored by David's fleshly descendants, but will be by Him Who is also the Son of God and Who is anointed, not only with oil, but by God's holy spirit.

Another point is important and in perfect harmony with this lesson. The idea of building a temple, a magnificent house for the worship of Israel's God, did not originate with Solomon. It was David who desired to honor God in this way. His spiritual instinct made him uncomfortable in his house of cedar, while the God Whom he adored lived in a temporary tabernacle. Spiritually speaking it was the temple of David rather than Solomon. He planned it and prepared for it. So to say, he was both the owner and the architect, while Solomon was only the builder. Even in this he was much helped by David's friend, the king of Tyre.

We cannot repeat too often the striking fact that the greatness and glory of Solomon's reign was based upon the temple, not the throne, marvelous and magnificent as that was. Prosperity and power in the political sphere must rest on the spiritual basis of worship of the Deity, to be real and lasting.

The ideal is government by God Himself, as it will be in the consummation. But there is a gradual approach to this during the eons. To begin with, God gave Israel priests, but no king. He Himself intervened by means of "judges" or rulers, when necessary. A king was not given until the people clamored for one. So we see that kings, as well as priests, are only a temporary expedient, a passing provision, until all these functions are superseded by direct submission to God and immediate worship of the Supreme. There are intermediate stages in which priesthood and rule are strictly separate, yet other times when they are combined. This was foreshadowed by Melchizedek, who was both priest and king, and will be clearly exemplified by the Messiah, Who combines the two offices during the thousand years of His reign over Israel and the earth. Then they also will be a nation of priests.

In order to appreciate the perfection of Solomon's prayer, we must see its place in God's plan. There is something very remarkable in the fact that Solomon, a king, should pray at the dedication of the temple. It is highly suggestive that there seemed to be no special building to house the seat of government in Jerusalem, such as the capitol in Washington, or the Parliament or Whitehall in London. Indeed, King David had built a palace for himself, corresponding to the White House, and Buckingham Palace, and the Quirinal in Rome, and the Schloss in Berlin, but these are not the seat of government, only the residence of the ruler. In Israel the center around which the nation was gathered was God's house, not man's.

Although Solomon did not actually infringe on the legal functions of the priesthood, in spirit he seems to have anticipated the union of the two to some extent in this prayer to Jehovah. Indeed, the reigns of David and Solomon over all Israel are a type of the glorious kingdom of our Lord, in the future. Strictly speaking, his business was to rule the people, not to pray to God. But he was wise enough to see that both must go together, for no one can rule acceptably unless God be with him.

Indeed, if we learn nothing else from Solomon's prayer and his reign, we must be impressed by the close connection between the worship of God and the prosperity of the people. Notwithstanding the terrific drain upon their resources which it entailed, they enjoyed welfare as at no other time in their history.

In the present secret celestial administration the separation of church and state is much to be preferred, although it is contrary to the ideal. We are nearing the climax of man's rebellion against the Deity, and it is not the time for the ideal, except in our private experience. We must be subject to the political authorities, but we are not obliged to submit to the ecclesiastical powers. Whenever these have usurped control, it has been very trying for men of God. Priests may be much more merciless than politicians. The very word "inquisition" reminds us of the misuse of political power by religious potentates.

SOLOMON'S PRAYER (2 Chron.6:14-42)



14-20 The Promise (Past) House of David (Future) Remembrance 42
21-39 The Worshipers Others The Priests 41
40 God to See, Hear The House of God Jehovah to Rise 41
14-15 Plea-
16-17 Petition Faithfulness
19-20 Supplication Condescension
21-31 Israel, 32 Foreigner WORSHIPERS Foreigner 33, Israel 34-39
21 Supplication (General) ISRAEL Judgment (Particular) 22-31
22-23 Sin-24-25 Defeat JUDGMENT 26-27 Drought-28-31Famine
34 Fight-35 Hearken ISRAEL Captivity 36-38--Hearken 39


Most of the Lord's people are like the man who could not see the forest because of the front trees which barred his view. In order to survey all of it, he should have ascended a high hill or a mountain, where he could gaze on the whole with a single glance. In Stepenitz, where I spent some years working on the German version, there was a tremendous forest, which supported the "Stift," or retreat for titled ladies, in which we lived. One day we walked in it until I was tired and had to turn back, so I never learned its extent or shape. I might easily have become lost in it. If I had been given a map of it, with some notation of its salient features, I would not be so ignorant and vague in my thoughts about it. So it is with the saints and the Bible. They need a map to orient themselves in it.

These skeletons are often of great practical value. Nearly a half century ago, when Dr. Bullinger was first writing on "the mystery," and did not differentiate between the secret of the evangel and that concerning the joint body, he was strongly inclined to think that the last few verses of Romans belonged at the end of Ephesians, because he saw no "mystery" in Romans. But a glance at the skeleton of Romans would have shown him that the last verses, on the secret evangel, were indispensable to balance the evangel of God in the first verse. Moreover, they would have nothing to correspond with them, should they close the epistle to the Ephesians.

Even Solomon's prayer, short as it is, compared with the whole Book, is a blur in the minds of many. So we have prepared a "map," or rather "skeleton," so that the whole can be comprehended at a glance, and its message may be firmly impressed upon the mind and memory. As such a skeleton is, perhaps, the most powerful evidence for the inspiration of the Scriptures, and may be an enormous help in grasping the exact significance of its details as well as its general scope, we hope to be able to prepare one for every part as well as for the Scriptures as a whole. Much has been done in this direction by others, but no one seems to have noticed the fact that the written word is planned as though it is a living creation, in which there is a balance of parts.

As the skeleton of a living creature is composed of two complementary sides, such is also the usual literary structure of God's revelation. A very effective form is to deal with a subject in lengthy detail and then retrace the steps, in reverse order, in a short summary. This is the case with Solomon's prayer. He presents a prolonged petition concerning The House of David, then the Others, and The House of God, and then summarizes them. In a brief conclusion He reverts to The House of Jehovah, the Priests, and The House of David. It is not easy to grasp the relation of each of these to each other as presented in this paragraph, so we arrange them so as to express their spiritual position in the skeleton.

But the corresponding parts are not exact duplicates. Because of the confirmation of our bones, we cannot put the right shoe on the left foot, or the left glove on the right hand. They are complementary. They correspond. In Solomon's prayer he elaborates on the past promises to The House of David at the beginning, but refers briefly to God's future remembrance at the end. Within these extremes Solomon prays for all the rest of mankind who may contact the temple. There may seem to be an imbalance in the amount of space given to each. There are eighteen verses about the worshipers and only half of a verse about the priests. But this objection vanishes when we weigh the two. I would have no hesitation in saying that, for us, Paul's epistles have more weight than all the rest of the Scriptures put together. So also, the priests are far more important to the temple than all the worshipers.

The same principle can be seen in the central part of the prayer. So far as the temple is concerned, it is much more momentous than the rest. They deal with the human aspect, this with the divine. It is not only a house of prayer for all people, but, first of all, the habitation of Jehovah God. If He will not see and hear, if He will not rise and rest there, it is all a vain and vapid perversion. This, the heart of the whole prayer, is near the end, and has no bulk at all, yet it is the core and kernel of his petition. I have often thought that an exposition of such a passage should start as God did in dealing with the tabernacle--from the center to the circumference. For this once we will base our study on the skeleton, and start at the central peak and consider each zone, on both sides, so to speak, at the same time.

Solomon's prayer is itself only a segment of a larger section dealing with The Dedication of the Temple. This in turn is only a part of the whole book of Chronicles. So, also, there are smaller parts in some of the portions. The Promise concerning The House of David consists of two complementary parts in which a Plea (14,15) and a Petition (16,17) concerning David's House are balanced by another Plea (18) and Supplication (19,20) concerning Solomon himself. The first one is based on God's faithfulness, the second on His condescension.

The Worshipers (21-39) is a reversal dealing with Israel (21-31), the Foreigner (32), balanced by the Foreigner (38), Israel (34-39). One set emphasizes worship, the other fear.


Jehovah is the God of Israel, and of no other nation. It is the eonian nation, predestinated by God to be the head and ruler, and the channel of blessing to all the rest. He is bound to them by His promises in the past and their fulfillment in the future. No other nation has had such a God. By His revelation of Himself in the past and His promises for the future He has made of Israel a unique nation, altogether different from the rest. As has been fully explained elsewhere, His Name covers and comprehends their whole history, for they are welded into a special people by His dealings with them in the past, His discipline of them in the present, and His promises to them for the future.


As the opening section of Solomon's prayer (14-20) is summarized in the closing words of the prayer, we will quote these in order to grasp its general outline: "Jehovah, God, Thou must not turn back the face of Thine anointed. Remember the kindness of David, Thy servant" (2 Chron.6:42). David, that marvelous type of the coming Messiah, was promised a "house," or dynasty, of which Messiah will be the flower. Yet the fulfillment of the promise was not dependent on Jehovah alone, but upon the faithfulness of David's successors. Solomon was a wise man, and he seemed to sense the insecurity which this implied. He was fearful of himself, although he had been anointed, and had a large measure of God's spirit. So he throws himself upon Jehovah. He does not say "let me not turn back my face," as we would expect. He asked that God would not do the turning, not on his account, but because of the kindnesses He had shown to David.


Christendom prays to a distant God, Who is in heaven. Their God is further from them than Jehovah was from Israel in the wilderness, or in the land. God dwelt in the midst of His people, in the tabernacle and in the temple. His home was on the earth, not in the heavens. All Israel came to Jerusalem to worship Him, and even foreigners, from other lands, could make a pilgrimage to the temple in Jerusalem to do homage to Him. After the glory had departed, however, when the Ethiopian eunuch came, he did not find Him there, but on the road from Jerusalem to Gaza (Acts 8:26). Saul of Tarsus had doubtless been in the court of the temple many a time, but he did not meet God, through Christ, in its precincts, but on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). He it Was who told the Athenians that God does not dwell in temples made with hands. Though far from the land, among the nations, he assured them that God was not far from each one of us (Acts 17:24-29).

There are many examples for praying to the Father in heaven, in the Scriptures. It is in the popular formula, the so-called "Lord's prayer," which He gave to the disciples at their request (Matt.6:9-13). Indeed, our Lord often spoke of their Father in the heavens (Matt.5:16,45; 6:1; 7:11; 18:14). Most of us are blind to the unbridgeable distance implied in this seemingly harmless phrase. God should have been very near to our Lord's disciples. Not merely on the earth, but in the land, in the holy city that they so often visited, in the temple. The Shekinah should have shone above the cherubim in the holy of holies. Instead, Jehovah had become a distant God, more unapproachable even than when He dwelt behind the courts and curtains of the sanctuary. They could approach the inner courts of the temple, and the priests could go into the holies of holies, but who could ascend to the heavens? Such is the true background of our Lord's ministry, especially in the account given by Matthew.

Christendom has been led astray by failing to recognize that heaven is a place of distance, in contrast to the normal nearness of the Deity to His earthly people Israel. Is it not remarkable that the heavens are mentioned four times as often in Matthew than in all of Paul's epistles put together? And this notwithstanding the fact that Matthew presents a kingdom on the earth and Paul alone deals with a heavenly destiny? Christians have sought to mimic the temple on Mount Moriah, by erecting vast cathedrals and building lesser "Churches" and try to envelop these with a false sanctity which is abhorrent to the Deity, Who seeks no habitation made by human hands, but only in that grand spiritual structure which consists of those who are hallowed by His spirit.


God had a covenant with Israel. If they kept His law, He would bless them. They thought they could keep it, but they failed miserably. Nevertheless, whenever they did so in some measure by the help of His spirit, He was faithful to His covenant, and they prospered, only to fall back into failure again. When they have learned the lesson that they cannot keep the law in their own strength, then He will write it on their hearts, and fulfill it by the power of His spirit in the day of Jehovah.

God's covenant with David and his dynasty is almost a perfect parallel to this. David himself, however, did not have the self-confidence of the people. He took it as an undeserved favor. That is why he was able to please Jehovah, and to sing His praises, and received such a special measure of blessing during his lifetime. Yet even he was disciplined, and the penalty for his sins was extended to his descendants (2 Sam.12:10). Like the law, this covenant was conditioned on their conduct. As a result, the history of the kingdom is a record of division and declension and apostasy, with a few intervals of restoration, until the kingdom was taken from them and Israel was deported and scattered among the nations, who were given their place of rule at the head of earthly dominion.

But, at the same time that God fulfills the law by placing it in their hearts, He will also give them a King, a Son of David, the Messiah, Who was begotten by God and anointed with His spirit, hence is fully able to meet the conditions and bring to Israel all the blessings which they failed to win in the past because of their disobedience.

Solomon prayed, "Keep with thy servant David, my father, that which Thou didst speak to him, saying, `No man of yours shall be cut off from before Me while sitting on the throne of Israel, should your sons be keeping their way to walk in My law, as you walk before Me.'" We can only too well understand Solomon for saying this, for the history of his descendants became one great demonstration of the faithlessness of David's line and its disastrous consequences, ending in the destruction of the magnificent building itself and the loss of the throne, which lasts until this day. Yet it is overwhelming to realize in what far more wonderful way God will, in the end, answer this prayer and fulfill His promises to David, notwithstanding the sins of his descendants and his people. He will send His Darling [David], the Messiah, and overfill His covenant, in spite of their failure.


Solomon's wisdom and humility was displayed in his next plea and petition. He had just finished what was probably the most marvelous temple ever built. No other God ever had such a magnificent place of worship. But Solomon was well versed in nature. He had been awed by the grandeur of the heavens. He reveled in the visible creation of God. In comparison with His handiwork, what was this temple that he had built? How could the God of the celestial realms come down to earth? How could He Who was high above the hosts of heaven condescend to dwell among men? Here is a note of wonder and adoration that may find an appropriate place in any prayer. Far more marvelous, however, is it that He should home in our hearts, for our base bodies cannot compare with the house that Solomon built in size or splendor.


Solomon himself and the people of Israel were to pray "to" or toward the temple with which God's name was connected. It was to be the place, the center, to which all should turn, in appealing to the Deity. His glories were represented there in tangible form for the eye to see and the ear to hear and the nose to smell; and all this was in accord with His own instructions. It is the elementary method which must be used with soulish creatures who must learn through their sensations. The walls which surrounded it indicated His holiness, the path through the curtains, past the altar and the laver revealed His salvation, the lampstand His illumination, the showbread His provision, and the golden altar with its incense the way of worship. Above all, in the holy of holies, the shekinah glory proclaimed His presence, even to the material man. In full accord with this was the instinctive desire to turn toward it when praying to the God Whom it housed and hid.

But Solomon was too wise to reason about God as if He were a man like himself. If one of us, or even Solomon were to take up our residence in the temple he had built, we would be forced to leave the place where we had been. We cannot be in more than one place at the same time. Yet the wise king realized that not even the heavens were vast enough to accommodate Him. How then could He forsake them entirely and dwell in a single place upon the earth (2 Chron.6:18)? Hence, throughout his prayer, he speaks of God as dwelling in heaven as well as on the earth. But the house that Solomon had built is distinguished as the place on earth where Jehovah has placed His "name." This is a most expressive figure of speech, in Hebrew, and denotes the location where the greatness, of His glory and manifold magnificence is revealed, where His essential virtues are disclosed to the senses, by means of which mortals are able to realize and appreciate what He is to them in spirit.


Solomon's prayer was prophetic, for he did not fully follow Jehovah, even under the most favorable circumstances. His glory was great, yet he sinned, and, when he was old, he went after the false gods of the nations, and his heart was not perfect with Jehovah, his God, as the heart of David, his father. We should learn from this that our prayers, be they ever so wise, and even if we seek to throw all the responsibility on God, as every wise man will certainly do, they will fail to be fulfilled if there is the least of self involved. On the other hand, the appeal to the kindness of David was heard, for Solomon himself did not live to see the results of his defection. It was after his death that the greater part of the kingdom was rent from the house of David. The dire effect of his sins continued throughout the era of the kings. The house of David never again ruled over all Israel, and will not, until they are united in the hands of Messiah, in the future.


In Solomon Jehovah fulfilled what He had promised David up to that time (15). But thenceforth his further sons did not come up to the conditions, except in checkered fashion. They seldom kept His way and walked in His law. Consequently the line was cut off and the kingdom ended and given over to the nations in the days of Nebuchadnezzar. As a whole the line degenerated, but there were occasional returns to Jehovah, with consequent periods of blessing. It was only after the hopelessness of human rule had been fully demonstrated that the line was cut off temporarily, and the Davidic dynasty came to an end.

Nevertheless, even though David's sons according to the flesh had failed, his greater Son, Christ Jesus, will fulfill all that was promised to David, and far more, in the coming kingdom. And the splendors of His glorious rule will be greatly enhanced by the dark background of the past.


The pardon of that day was conditional, even as our Lord showed when He told His hearers about the ten thousand talent debtor (Matt.18:24). The sacrifices offered on the altar of the temple had no such efficacy as the blood of Christ. Justification was only for the just. It consisted in a recognition of their righteousness by Jehovah and a suitable reward. Many sought to justify themselves and merit God's blessings, like the Pharisee in our Lord's day (Luke 18:14). But few, indeed, were like the tribute collector, who did the right thing in acknowledging the wrong, and his need of a propitiatory shelter.


As a nation, Israel was subject to God's judgments. When they sinned, Jehovah sent their enemies against them, who took away some or all of their land. This happened again and again. But when they prayed and supplicated Jehovah, they recovered what they had lost. Yet, eventually, Israel was deported, and never came back. Then Judah was carried to Babylon. But Daniel and others repented, and a remnant was restored. These were in the land when the Jews committed their greatest sin, the crucifixion of their Messiah. For this they were forgiven, at the request of the Saviour, on the cross, but they did not bring forth fruit suitable to repentance. Hence their pardon was withdrawn. To this day they are scattered among the nations. Those who return to the land are due to endure the great affliction, until their Messiah, the Son of David, will come and give them the kingdom.

All this is in fulfillment of this part of the prayer (36-39): "In case they are sinning against Thee (for there is no man who does not sin), and Thou art angry with them and dost smite them and give them up before the enemy, and their captors capture them and bring them to the land of the enemy, far or near, yet they reverse their heart in the land where they are captives, and turn back and supplicate to Thee in the land of their captors, saying, `We have sinned and have been depraved and wicked,' and return to Thee, with all their heart and with all their soul, in the land of their captors who captured them, and pray to Thee the way of their land which Thou gavest their forefathers and the city which Thou hast chosen and the house which I have built for Thy name, then hearken from the heavens, from Thy established dwelling, to their prayer and their supplication, and execute judgment for them, and pardon Thy people who have sinned against Thee.


The principal profit in judging such prayers as Solomon's lies in considering their fulfillment. From this we can see what to expect in our own case. In general, if we crave blessing contingent on human conduct, and not on God, we must prepare to be disappointed in our expectations. If we base them entirely on God, we are safe. Nevertheless, even our selfish wishes will be fulfilled fully and finally, not through our efforts, but in His final favor. We should consider each petition in order and see how it is answered in Israel's history. It is very helpful to have such a long period and so much detail, in which the prayer is worked out in actual practice in the Davidic dynasty, in the worshipers of Jehovah, in Israel as a nation. It will help us to understand the present Jewish crisis, and the struggle for the land of Palestine. God alone is the Source of every blessing, and it comes to His creatures through Christ.


PRAYER varies greatly in the Scriptures, like all truth, to agree with the administration in which it occurs. Incalculable disappointment and distress have come to sincere saints who sought to be scriptural by copying the example of those in another era. As a whole they have the mistaken conception that, if we persist and persevere in prayer, we will certainly obtain what we want, otherwise there is something radically wrong. The best concrete reply to this is the experience of the apostle Paul.


Paul entreated the Lord thrice, that the splinter in his flesh should withdraw from him. It is well that we are not told exactly what it was, but we know that it was not a selfish desire for some forbidden or harmful thing, but rather the removal of a physical infirmity, which, the apostle probably supposed, would hinder his ministry. Can we imagine a more laudable motive? To begin with, why should God use a messenger of Satan to give Paul an infirmity, when his strength was so much needed in his arduous task of making known his gospel? Most of us would consider this a prime necessity. It is not easy to realize that it is even more important to be kept down. It was given to him lest he should be lifted up (2 Cor.12:7).

This should appeal especially to those of us who, like Paul, have had a glimpse of the transcendent revelations which he received, as set forth in His prison epistles. No doubt his bonds in jail were also a special dispensation to keep him humble, for why, otherwise, reveal them in such a contrastive environment? Some of us have wondered why, with such a glorious message, while we are not enclosed within prison walls, we should be so constricted in our efforts to make it known. Moreover, we, like the apostle, cannot help entreating the Lord to enlarge our sphere. It seems to be more important that His servants should be kept down, than that they should be strong and free to work their will.

In Paul's case, and doubtless in all other such situations, there was a combination of two distinct causes for his weakness, both flesh and spirit. The physical side of it doubtless caused pain and suffering, for this is the effect of a splinter or "thorn." On the spiritual side it was occasioned by a messenger of Satan, and his "buffeting" would consist of blows of a spiritual nature. The word buffet suggests punishment inflicted by those with whom there is close contact, as in the case of our Lord when tried before the chief priest (Matt.26:67; Mark 14:65), and, hidden, in Paul's own experience (1 Cor.4:11). But Satan's messenger would be limited to Spiritual blows, dealt by men's tongues rather than their hands, such as the reviling and calumniation, which made him the offscouring and scum of all! (1 Cor.4:11-13).

We, who look forward to be with Christ among the celestials in the future, should consider the path which He trod on earth to reach His high office. He first came down to suffer pain and shame during His earthly life, quite apart from that which was His as a Sacrifice for our sins by death. He also prayed to have a cup carried aside from Him, but added, "not My will, but Thine, be done" (Luke 22:42). It is our privilege to have fellowship with Him in these sufferings which come to us through the opposition of the Adversary, yet are apparently due to the blows of men, and very often struck by saints who are seeking to exalt themselves in the estimation of the world.

Let it be very clear in our minds that the great grace we have received is not intended to lift us up now, in the estimation of the world. God is making a background now in order to display His grace. He does not call many wise or powerful or noble (1 Cor.1:26), so that there can be no boasting. And His servants must be kept down, to properly portray His grace. Otherwise a man like Paul, instead of being an obscure prisoner in Rome, should have been seated on Caesar's throne, with seven diadems upon his brow, or at least have the triple crown of the supposed successor of Peter, for his ministry far transcended that of the chief of the apostles.

We are told that he prayed thrice for the removal of the splinter, the messenger of Satan. He was not answered immediately. There can be no doubt that he was heard the first time. This must have been humiliating to him, before he realized that this was intended to heighten his humiliation. God does not always "answer" the prayer of even the best of His servants without delay. It does not imply some sin or offense, as the associates of Job insisted. Like the splinter itself, it was part of the gracious discipline to keep the apostle from being unduly exalted by the transcendent revelations.

If we need special strength for doing the work which God has given us to do, and some physical weakness interferes, it is quite in order to pray for its removal. At least, in the writer's own experience, God has answered his petitions for increased vigor, in order to do His work.

Prayer should be the constant attitude of the human heart. But specific petitions, such as this one, should not be constantly repeated, as if God were deaf or indisposed to bless. Suffering and infirmity may be a token of His care and a means of ultimate blessing, as in the case of Job. Nor does it follow that bodily weakness is used to humble in all cases. If the task assigned to a slave requires strength of body or of mind, God has other means of keeping us down. Indeed, the Adversary, being a spirit, is an adept in the use of spiritual say-spears [reviling] and vilification. Job may have suffered more from his false friends accusations than from his physical infirmity.

Twice Paul repeated his request. Is that recorded as the limit to which we should go? By that time we should carefully weigh the situation, and consider whether the evil of which we wish to rid ourselves is not a blessing in disguise. If it humbles us, that is one of the greatest of boons. Even weakness may be a means of displaying God's power. We are only an infinitesimal fraction of humanity, and partake of a minute portion of God's purpose with the whole. He created evil in order to provide a background for blessing, and to reveal Himself through it. So that we should not ask to have all evil extracted from our experience, but rather inquire as to its ultimate effect. Then we may be able to thank God for it, rather than entreat Him to remove it.

Paul's specific request was not granted so far as we are aware. But who of humanity, except His Lord, came anywhere near being as powerful as he? Nothing else can compare with the power of his prison epistles. His infirmity only exemplified the grace it reveals and emphasizes the transcendent power it unveils. So that, instead of persevering in prayer for release from his fleshly infirmities, Paul gloried in them and took delight in them and the outrages and persecutions and distresses which came to him for Christs sake. Instead of praying for their cessation, He gives thanks for the privilege of bearing them. His request was refused, his prayer was not "answered," his desire was not granted, but his spirit was enlightened and his heart was humbled, and he bowed in subjection to God's will, which is the great ultimate of all God's creatures.


GOD will become our All in the consummation. The practice of praise and prayer is the approximation of this ideal in the present. In a busy life there may be little time and few occasions for formal, lengthy petitions or supplications, phrased in precise terms and given audible expression. These have their place, but are by no means essential to the constant and continuous attitude of worshipful submission, so that the least incident in life calls forth a conscious thought of thankfulness and an appeal for divine intervention. A few practical examples may help to illustrate this.

The doorbell rings. There is no time to retire to a place of prayer. We are not aware who it is, or what it is, that brings a visitor to our door, so there is no possibility of praising for specific blessing or praying for definite guidance. All that we really know is our own inability to cope with any matter apart from God, and that He is working all together for our good. Our desire is not only to be well pleasing to Him, but also to be used as a channel of blessing to others. To put all this into words would be improper and impossible, and a very bad introduction to our visitor, who would be patiently waiting outside or impatiently ringing the bell. So we bow our head in spirit, with a fleeting consciousness of thankfulness and petition to Him, and open the door.

The telephone rings. We are right in the midst of this sentence, let us say, and want to finish it. But the telephone is not very patient. It persists in ringing, and is well calculated to make us impatient. Why should it come just at this time, when we are trying so hard to serve the saints? But such thoughts are swiftly banished by the underlying consciousness that everything--even the telephone--is cooperating for our good, and we instantly thank God for it and pray for His presence and help in responding to the message, which may come over the wires. Once more, we may have no idea whatever of what is coming, so have no basis for definite petitions, although these may well follow, without saying a word, as we listen to the voice of the speaker.


In the consummation we will know that all must be right. Now we know that much must be wrong. We know God's ultimate will but we do not know His present intention, for His will must be withstood during this eon. "It is a necessity for snares to be coming" (Matt.18:7). If we knew all that must be, and its purpose in God's plan, we would praise, but have little incentive to pray. As in the case of Israel, God is not leading us out of the servitude of sin into the freedom of His sons by the shortest and most direct route, for we need to learn, by the want and woe of the wilderness, the evil of our own hearts, and the goodness and grace of His fellowship and favor.

Cooperation with the inevitable is the philosopher's substitute for submission to the will of God. It is far better than fighting with your fate, but it is only the way of a slave cringing before his hard-hearted master, not of a son delighting in the doings of his father. It is fatalism, and fosters fear and despair, nor does it promote prayer. Even resignation to the irresistible is far from the exultant acceptance of the perfect and praise-worthy will of God. No impersonal force, no matter how powerful, can take the place of a living, enlightening, loving Father, Whom we know, and whose ultimate He has made known to us. We cannot appeal to mere principles, nor applaud them, nor love them. Yet we do not merely cooperate with God, but lift our inmost hearts to Him in prayer and praise.

How ignorant were those who were redeemed from the bondage of Egypt! And how helpless! And how stubborn! Yet how essential were these failures in order to reveal Jehovah's pity and power and provision! They did not know the way in the wilderness waste. Yet they knew more than most men do today of their goal and the intervening journey. They had heard of their fore-fathers, Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, all of whom had lived in the promised land, and all had journeyed to Egypt. We have had no such forerunners. The trials and tribulations ahead of us are hidden from our gaze. Nothing can be relied upon but the assigned manna, the water from the Rock and the shining Shekinah, for with us it is always night so far as our future down here is concerned. We are constantly driven to prayer, because of our ignorance.

What living thing is so helpless as a human infant! It can do little except to cry to its parents in its distress. Thus it is taught its need of a mother and father. But, when it becomes mature and strong, it is apt to forget that, in a higher, a spiritual sense, it is just as helpless as a babe, and its dependence on God is just as real. But few fully realize this, even after God has called them and imparted to them His spirit, so that they now cry to Him, "Abba, Father." He must graciously use weakness or failure, or some form of evil to bring them to a realization of it, so that they cry to Him as a little child. This is prayer. Eventually some may learn to come to him at all times with their requests, and to solve their perplexities. It is possible to live in constant communion, like a beloved son with his father. This will be the fortunate fate of all in the consummation. It will be the full fruitage of prayer.

How poor is a newborn babe apart from its parents! Unless provided with food and shelter, it would soon perish. Other animals are at least clothed, and need no protecting garments. It pleases God to bring those to whom He will allot the riches of the universe into the world as the most needy creatures of all creation. Apart from their parents, what have they? Unless provided internally with nourishment and externally with clothing and housing by those who generated them, they would perish long before they reach maturity. Indeed, a vast proportion do not develop into self-supporting, life transmitting members of the race. And is that not the case in the spiritual sphere as well? Those whom God calls seldom realize their sonship and its privileges. Hence they are much better beggars from the Father, than acclaimers of the Deity.

Most of the saints are absorbed by their private fortune, or, rather, misfortunes, and these monopolize their praise and prayer. And, indeed, they should be occupied with the way by which God is leading them into a knowledge of Himself. It would be better, however, if they were more engaged by their future expectation, the prospect that lies beyond this time of trial and testing. But, far better still, let us view all from God's standpoint: "what must be", as much as possible. A correct knowledge of His purpose and plan as a whole, and of as much detail as possible, is of the greatest value in our intercourse with God, and will keep us, to some extent, free from praying for that which must not be.


Many of the great "prayer movements," have been quite contrary to God's present intention. For instance, it is God's expressed will that all mankind should be saved (1 Tim.2:4), and He will carry out His determination at the consummation, when all will be vivified and reconciled (1 Cor.15:22; Col.1:20). We do not need to pray for that. Instead, we should praise Him for thus fulfilling one of the deepest desires which He has implanted in our hearts. But to pray for "the evangelization of the world in this generation," to implore, if not pester Him "to keep His Word," to "lay hold on the promises," none of which apply to the present, leads to apparent failure and brings down dishonor and disgrace upon His great name.

We should know the great outlines of "what must be" as unveiled in God's revelation, so that we can at least avoid insisting that God must go contrary to His revealed intentions in this secret administration. But He has disclosed only the broad outlines. In order to assure the fulfillment of His promises He must also fix the fate, and determine the numberless details in the life and experience of every single soul. These He has not revealed. It is well that we should know the outline and the outcome of His plan, but it would not be well if He had revealed all the infinite incidentals of each life. What a Bible that would make! Indeed, the world could not hold the volumes! He reaches down to us through the darkness to guide us on the way. We must learn the lesson that we are lost the moment that we lose our grip upon His helping hand.

But let us not lose the comforting consolation that all cooperates for our good. Even that which is contrary to His will is in accord with His intention. If we let go of His hand and stray away into the darkness of distance from His presence, the evil itself will be used by God to drive us back, and becomes the principal incentive to prayer and praise.


Is it not clear that mankind was created to be dependent? Its constitution and its experience are all, designed for subordinate reception of blessing. Even its likeness to the Deity helps to teach the same lesson. When those below us are in harmonious subjection and obedience, they are happy. The function of generation, which normally makes us dependent infants and children and then, as parents, gives us dependents, is designed to teach us the blessed portion of thankful, trusting obedience. How many have heaved a sigh for the happy days of their childhood! How many have wished they had someone to whom they could go as a child to its parent, confident that all would be well? All these experiences are but a preparation for that delightful day when all will look to the Deity as their Father, thankful and assured that all is in His beneficent hand and heart.


A state of constant submission, thankfulness and assurance that all is cooperating for our good is a tree of life to all who live under its shade and enjoy its fruit. All the so-called "faith healing" of believers or unbelievers, cannot be compared to it. I have known of many who acclaimed to be healed of bodily ills by believing the evangel of the kingdom that God intervenes miraculously now, as He will in the future, so that all our ills can be instantly cured if we have enough faith. Most of these "believers" are now in their graves, some due to overdoses of medicine, while I am still able to deal with trying tasks of translation. There is some distorted truth in the basic, idea of so-called "Christian science," and "faith healing," for the mental state powerfully affects the physical functions (even if the faith is false), but it is far more healthful to believe the undiluted truth of God's benevolent designs, and His constant care and provision for the evils which must mar the way. We have the true, the trustworthy, the triumphant "faith healing!"

Physical relaxation is one of the best cures for the nerves. A beloved brother in Christ once came to me in a very excited state, so that he could hardly express himself. So I insisted that he be seated, lean far back, stretch out his legs, let his arms hang limply at his side, and drop his jaw so that his mouth was open, and let everything go! It was not long till his nervousness vanished and the tenseness of his muscles disappeared. He was relaxed and felt much better. Even more benefits may be obtained in the spiritual sphere if we fall back wholly on God and rid ourselves of the spiritual strain under which almost all of us live in this ferocious era. Its therapeutic value is greater than that of any school of medicine, for it is, to a limited degree, the normal condition of creation, which will be fully realized only after vivification.


Everyone today seems to crave security because he feels insecure. Some "lay aside something for a rainy day," although this is outmoded by insurance of various kinds, health, job, and death. The socialistic governments seek to make their subjects secure from the cradle to the grave. But the feeling of insecurity persists. An early experience taught the writer how little reliance may be placed in these man-made schemes. His father belonged to a lodge which paid quite a sum to survivors at death. This money came from the living members. But, as he was the last of all to die, there were no others to pay. So all the "security" was a large expense for nothing. Other "safer" schemes are used today, which have accomplished much. But even the largest of them is faced with inflation, which might wipe out all the bank assets. This is true of social security which promises a certain sum of money. It may become practically worthless if the present trend persists.

The only secure "security" lies in reliance on God. Everyone is convinced of this in case of death. No one can assure any benefits to the deceased. In truth, no one can really assure a dying mortal of anything, not even taxes or death. The saints who live until the descent of Christ to the air or His coming in glory to the mount of Olives, cannot be assured of death. And then they won't pay taxes either! The only real security, without the feeling of insecurity, lies in constant contact with God in prayer and praise. Then, whatever evil comes, even it will be invaluable in its operation for our spiritual welfare.


Throughout our lives we are taught the fatality of the infinite. Our weal or woe is not determined by the great things that we accomplish, but often by a tiny incident that we might have prevented, had we known of it beforehand. Many a man boasts of his unconquerable will, and his power to shape his own destiny, when he was not even consulted in the most important and far-reaching event of his existence! In Europe they used to have a sarcastic saying to the effect that a man cannot be too careful in the choice of his ancestors and the place of his birth. Yet this single occurrence may have a greater influence on his life and destiny than his whole career. Again, a single mistake, a sudden accident, may close that career in an instant. In these man's will is excluded. If God is not responsible for them then He also has lost control of the helm of the universe, and we are drifting upon the rocks of imminent and catastrophic disaster.


God is not only guiding the stars of limitless space, but controlling the course of the composite molecule. His hand cannot only span the universe, but His power can split the atom. Some may have thought that it makes little difference if an atom explodes or not, but now that we have heard of its unparalleled power, we are more inclined to acknowledge the importance and efficacy of the infinitesimal. A single atom may set off a chain reaction which would destroy the whole world. And, indeed, this very thing may happen with the heavens and the earth, for they are stored with fire, and a single word from the mouth of God will dissolve their elements before the coming of the day of God (2 Pet.3:7-13).

The point of the parable lies in this: Just as we do not need to pray that God will keep the sun and moon and stars in their courses, so we need not be concerned that He fulfill the great promises of His inspired Word. He is faithful and will perform it even if we fail to prod Him. These things we know, so they are the subjects of praise, rather than prayer. But the smallest things that make up our daily grind, which may have far more influence on our present life and experience, these, are hidden, like the Shekinah in the tabernacle, behind a beautiful curtain of the divine glories, for the light behind it is too bright for mortal gaze. We could not bear to know all this beforehand. It might be fatal. And the purpose of God would not be attained, for it would eliminate prayer, which is the principle preparation for praise.

Any single incident in our lives, no matter how trivial it may seem, may be vital to our career, or fatal to our hopes, therefore all should be the subject of prayer, for God alone can control our environment as well as ourselves. We may inhale one tiny, invisible germ that may cause illness or death. We may take a single step that will cripple or kill us. A single glance may lead to trials interminable. And, on the other hand, a single word, either heard or seen, may lead to fame or fortune, yes, even to salvation and reconciliation and vivification by the spirit of God. In fact, even as God chooses the stupid and the weak and the ignoble and that which is not, so that no flesh may boast, so He seems to select the most insignificant action by which to accomplish His purpose, so that human work may be excluded, and man may be utterly cast upon Him, even in the smallest items of his experience. A single sentence may lead a sinner to salvation!


The publication of the Concordant Version is the consuming passion of my life. After years of dire drudgery and patient plodding on the part of many, it would seem to be a small and simple matter to put it into print. And, indeed, sometimes it seemed to go of itself. As a rule, however, we have had to reckon with seemingly silly yet insurmountable obstacles which hardly ever interfere in printing secular publications. For example, no one would make the type for the Greek text. At the same time I could not get work on account of the first world war. So I gave thanks and made it myself, after a long delay. There were other severe trials in printing, which would usually have ruined my health and disposition. Thankfulness overcame it all.

The German version seemed to be an exception at first. Everything went well. The first edition was sold out in the second world war. We had saved all the type so that corrections could be made and it could be reprinted without cost for composition. But it was destroyed in the bombing of Berlin. We had saved up the receipts from sales so as to reprint. We tried our utmost to do this immediately, but one of the occupation administrations refused, and nine-tenths of the sum was lost in the currency reform due to the inflation. But we are thankful and confident that all this evil will work out for our good and His glory.

But these and other such "misfortune" experiences are not to be compared to the many hindrances in publishing the version of the Hebrew. We made unusual and extraordinary provision to take care of the comparatively simple composition of its pages, but it has been practically impossible to proceed. Coupled with the fact that we were forced to disappoint our friends, and any explanation would sound silly, this should have soured our disposition and undermined our health. But we have been given grace to believe that all is cooperating for our good, so that it has had the opposite effect. And now we begin to see why it was, for there are still some matters not quite matured, and the recently recovered Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah may enable us to settle these satisfactorily. We ask all to join us in thanksgiving and praise for the future, whatever it may be, and however dark it may appear today.

We are also concerned about the truth which has been committed to us. We are persuaded that He is able to guard it, even in this day of apostasy and opposition (2 Tim.1:21), yet we would be glad to have all our friends join us in heartfelt thanksgiving for "what must be," for that alone is for His glory and our good. We wish to publish many books, the fruit of our toil and travail in compiling our texts and concordances and versions of the inspired Originals, such as this exposition of Praise and Prayer, and we pray for guidance to conform to His will, but would preface it with praise for the future, whether it appears to be evil or good, for it must be as He intends, in order to display the greatness of His grace and the grandeur of His glory.

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