Praise and Prayer
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? (A.V. 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.
Yet from Jehovah is all its judgment.
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 farmland. 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 farmlands were separated into groups with a head to each company. At first, a number of marked pebbles, corresponding to these groups, were 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
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 is 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 Christs 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 benefiting 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.
A. E. Knoch
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