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THE NAIL.

“AND now for a little space grace hath been shewed from the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage.” – Ezra ix. 8. “And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father’s house. And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father’s house, the offspring and the issue, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons. In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, shall the nail that is fastened in the sure place be removed, and be cut down, and fall; and the burden that was upon it shall be cut off: for the Lord hath spoken it.” – Isaiah xxii. 23-25,

The allusions to Christ throughout the Old Testament gleam as shafts of pure radiance illumining the long night of sin which enshrouded the world in its somber folds, never to be lifted from the time that Adam transgressed his Maker’s law until the Sun of Righteousness arose in the person of Christ issuing from the dead. Throughout that darkness from Adam to Jesus, the path of that just One, Christ, was as the shining light shining more and more unto the perfect day of his gospel, destined to be onto all that believe, the power of God unto salvation. For seventy years Israel had sojourned captive in Babylon, involuntary exiles from the land of promise, consequent upon their disobedience to the law of God by his servant Moses. They learned by bitter hardness that the way of the transgressor is hard, that sin entails its own penalty and woe, that an evil tree cannot bring forth aught but corrupt fruit. The days of their captivity being fulfilled, there went forth a decree from Cyrus, king of Persia, whose spirit the Lord stirred in accordance with his word to Jeremiah a long time before, that the Jews should go forth from bondage to build again the temple of their God in Jerusalem in Judah. Forthwith, sheltered under the king’s decree, went forth the remnant of Israel under their leader Zerubbabel. With mingled joy and mourning these laid the foundations of the second temple. Adversaries sought to hinder them in their work, and finally succeeded in having King Artaxerxes issue a decree suspending all operations. But his successor, Darius, affirmed the decree of Cyrus, commanding the work to go on, with the result that the house was finished amid great jubilation in the sixth year of Darius’ reign. Following upon this work of Zerubbabel and his host, and some little time later, Ezra and his companions minded to go with him, not of constraint, but willingly, also went up to Jerusalem to set in order once more the law of Moses and all its ceremonies and rituals, its feasts and fasts, its offerings and sacrifices. Imagine Ezra’s troubled soul upon learning when arrived at Jerusalem that his fellow Israelites, so soon escaped of captivity, had lost their separateness and were mingling in the abominations of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians and the Amorites. “For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons; so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass.” The path of righteousness is indeed a difficult road, and it is hard for even God’s children to maintain a life of integrity and sobriety in the midst of such manifold temptations. How true that those who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. In the midst of this falling away of the Israelites, Ezra and the little band with him stand as a miracle of grace, a living memorial unto the God who had manifested in them the sanctification of his Spirit. Ezra says, “Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel.” Thus there were some who had the fear of God in them, that fear which is the hatred of evil, and which furnished a common impulse to gather together those of like experience. This remnant, then, mentioned by Ezra in the text we have quoted at the beginning, did not include all that came out of Babylon, for many of them went lusting after strange peoples. If we call those who came out of captivity a remnant, then we must speak of these gathered about Ezra with God’s fear in them as the remnant of a remnant. It is of this remaining few that Ezra says, “Grace hath been shewed from the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant to escape,” and by “escape” Ezra means not so much the getting clear of Babylon as the escaping the pollution that followed when the holy seed mingled themselves with the various “ites” about them. This pollution they had escaped, because God by his grace had left them a remnant. Even then, therefore, there was a remnant according to the election of grace which escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. Ezra did not say, nor did he once think, that they had escaped pollution because they were naturally better or more virtuous than those who had corrupted themselves, but gave all the credit for the escape to the grace of God. This is the same old story, old yet ever new, told everywhere throughout holy writ, “to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” How good, in such a time of dissipation and decline, to have that on which to hang or to depend. This dependence this remnant had, and it was given them by that same God who had granted them grace to escape. This dependence Ezra speaks of as a “nail.” “To give us a nail in his holy place.” The “holy place,” and the “sure place,” spoken of by Isaiah are one and the same. By the nail spoken of by both Ezra and Isaiah is meant Jesus. Jesus is the dependence of his people, they all hang upon him. Jesus is the “nail” in the holy place, and fastened in a “sure place.” This holy place, or sure place, is God’s predestination. There can be no surer place to drive a nail than in that place which God has predetermined, and nowhere else can it be driven. As a man, Jesus did not have the arranging of his own life, nor the directing of his own steps. The steps of his feet, the work of his hands, the words of his lips, were all foretold by prophets before . his advent, showing. fully that Jesus, his life and sufferings, death and victory, were all predestinated to be as they were, and could possibly be no other way. His way was inclosed with hewn stones, so that he could not get out. God made his chain heavy, no sorrow was ever beheld like unto his sorrow. He came to his end and there was none to help, no arm reached forth to his relief, none pitied him. Bowed in Gethsemane beneath his heavy. stroke, which was heavier than his groaning, he said, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” But because he was fastened as a nail in a sure and holy place the cup could not pass except he drank it, so he said, “Nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done.” He, then, Jesus the crucified, is the nail fastened in the sure place, the nail in the holy place reserved by the grace of God to Ezra and the remnant with him. Upon this nail hang all the vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups to the vessels of flagons, upon him hang the offspring and the issue. These vessels of small quantity (for there are no big ones in Christ, or hanging on him) range in measure from cups to flagons, but whatever be their measure, whether it be an apostle or only a little one of humbler measure, all depend on Christ, the nail, for whatever measure of grace they possess. Whatever fruit to God they bring forth also depends on this nail, on him hangs the offspring and the issue. The issues from death belong to him. Isaiah says there comes a time, “in that day,” when the nail shall be removed, be cut down and fall. This means not the failure but the fulfillment of the predestination of God. Jesus, the nail, could {not die, that is, be removed, until all his work was done, until the salvation of all hanging on him was eternally secured. His life was cut off from the earth, the nail cut down, in that day that Jesus was crucified. He went on living, but in another sphere of existence. As far as the earth was concerned, he came to his end, the nail was removed, cut down and fell. The burden that was upon him was cut off. He carried the sins of all his people in his own body on the cross, but the shedding of his blood purged all these sins away, so that the burden was removed. However, Isaiah says that the burden was not so much the sins themselves as all the vessels of small quantity, from cups to flagons, the offspring and the issue. Now, we know that in a wonderful, mystical way, that no man can understand, that his people were in him while on the cross, in him when he lay in the tomb, in him when he arose from the dead. But while all this is gloriously true, it is also true that no living mortal can ever suffer what Jesus suffered, none can ever die the death he died. Therefore, it is true that Jesus came to his end alone, suffered alone and died alone, alone without even a realizing sense of the presence of his Father. Thus, the vessels which hung upon him I were cut off from this nail at the last. Not that Christ’s elect will ever be eternally cut off from him, for nothing can ever separate them from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus, but cut off from him in the sense that none could actually participate with him in the work of salvation which he alone could accomplish. Arminians say we are partners with Christ in the work of salvation, that we do our part and he does his part, thus working together to save our own and others’ souls, but this the Bible will not prove. Christ is the whole of salvation for every one of his people. So while all the elect were, and are, and ever will be, in Christ, yet in accomplishing the work of salvation he did all the work, and no man was his helper. This is what is signified by the vessels which hung on the nail being cut off, “in that day” when the predestination of God was accomplished and Jesus died, thus removing the nail out of its place. He went beyond all and each of us into depths of humiliation and woe into which none will ever be called to go. As proof of this truth that Jesus was alone and his people unable to accompany him, we quote the following: “I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me.” – Isaiah lxiii. 3. “He shall come to his end, and none shall help him.” – Daniel xi. 45. “I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the housetop.” – Psalms cii. 7. “Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you.” – John xiii. 33. This Nail predestinated for the people of God is a glorious throne to his Father’s house; that is, to the church. Jesus is not a glorious throne to any but his elect, so we should not be surprised nor indignant if others do not see the beauty in Jesus that we see in him. He is a glorious throne to us, because he is the seat of God’s power and authority to usward. The church knows no lawgiver but Jesus, the living Head, our glorious throne. Ezra names four ways in which the grace of God was peculiarly manifested to him and the escaped remnant with him ; first, grace “to leave us a remnant to escape,” of which we have already written; grace” to give us a nail in his holy place,” of which we have also written; third, to “lighten our eyes;” fourth, to “give us a little reviving in our bondage.” The lightening of the eyes is a figurative expression, meaning the giving of understanding. The law of Moses did not give understanding, but the commandment of the Lord does. “The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.” – Psalms xix. 8. The commandment of the Lord is given by Jesus to his disciples, and was never given to the world at large. Here it is: A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another. This commandment of the Lord, which is love, is the enlightening of the eyes, it gives understanding to the simple. This law,, when written in the inward parts and put in the mind, opens the eyes of the understanding, spiritually, to comprehend spiritual things. Now we come to the fourth manifestation of the grace of God mentioned by Ezra: to “give us a little reviving in our bondage.” To be sure, the church to-day is not under bondage, as was Ezra and the men with him, who all were under the law, and bound to its mandates, still we of the gospel age have our bondage, too, as expressed by Paul: “Ourselves also, which have the first- fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body..” – Romans viii. 23. In this bondage, while in our earthly house of this tabernacle, all our reviving must proceed from the same grace as did the reviving of Ezra and his brethren in those days long ago amid the apostasy of Israel about them. What glorious revivals to the church here in the world as she travels along the wilderness way are those seasons of refreshing that come from the presence of the Lord, when Jesus comes to her, who before has been preached unto her. We believe in these heaven-sent revivals that come as the wind blowing where it lists, imbued with fragrance and power from the throne of God, but we want none of the man-made revivals, whose winds are laden with the miasma. of death from the marshes of filth and the swamps of sin.

Written at the request of sister Sarah E. Runkle, of Macomb, Illinois. L.

Elder H. H. Lefferts

Signs of the Times
Volume 84, No. 9.
May 1, 1916