Lawrenceburg, Ky., 1878.
DEAR BRETHREN EDITORS: - Some time ago I used the above word as a text after which several brethren earnestly requested me to write as nearly as I could the sentiments advanced on that occasion. I penciled down as well as I could the substance of what I said, but concluded that it was not worth the room it would occupy in the SIGNS, and that I would not send it. The brethren however have recently renewed the request, and I have finally concluded to place it at your disposal. The verse containing the word reads as follows: “Namely, Bezer in the wilderness, in the plain country of the Reubenites; and Ramoth in Gilead of the Gadites; and Golan in Bashan of the Manassites.”
These are all three significant names, and I think appropriately represent the church in its different phases, as well as Christ her only refuge, for they are the names of places of refuge. In the preceding connection it is said, “Then Moses severed three cities on this side Jordan toward the sunrising, that the slayer might flee thither which should kill his neighbor unawares, and hated him not in times past; and that fleeing unto one of these cities he might live; namely, Bezer,” &c. This name Bezer signifies vine, branches; no doubt alluding to Christ the Vine, and the members his church, the branches. The name Ramoth means eminences, high places; I suppose prefiguring the church “set on a hill,” according to Matt. 5:14, or “established in the top of the mountains, and exalted above the hills.” See Micah 4:1; also Psalm 68:15. “The hill of God is as the hill of Bashan; an high hill, as the hill of Bashan.”
Next, we call attention to the name more particularly under consideration, Golan; which, like the others, has a two-fold signification; namely, passage, revolution. Indeed, we may say it has a three-fold signification, for it was a city of refuge.
Should we present the true, biblical sense of the subject, it will no doubt pertinently correspond with the experience of the children of God.
But; first, this word Golan signifies passage; but the word passage has different meanings, but here we must use it in the sense of transition, or passing from one place or state to another.
Now, if the saints will retrospect their former standing in their fallen head, and then can realize their present standing in their risen Head and in his church, and lastly, their supernal location in their final and celestial abode, they have this passage portrayed in a nutshell. But should we undertake to trace the whole journey, and particularize the many eventful scenes connected therewith, it would take volumes to exhibit them. It is first, passing from death to life. I need not attempt to note all the circumstances connected with this passage. Brethren, sisters, recount your former exercises, and note them as evidences of that passage. It is a toilsome and trying passage, accompanied with a terrible warfare. But amid the din of battle, hark! I hear a cheering voice. “He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life.” This is an important step in our passage along the journey of our pilgrimage, but it is often but the goal of an ordeal through which we must pass – a road thickly beset with severe trials, alluring temptations, deep tribulations, and many other fearful forebodings.
But notwithstanding this seemingly fearful array of relentless foes, we may with holy boldness gird on our armor, unfurl our banner to the breeze, for victory will assuredly perch upon that banner set up “in the name of our God.” Although a fearful catalogue of enemies environ and dwell in us, the encouraging and cheering voice of the Captain of our salvation, saying, “Fear not, for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by my name, thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burnt, neither shall the flames kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the holy one of Israel, thy Savior,” [Isa. 43:1-3] should cause us to “thank God and take courage,” for we shall pass through the waters, the rivers, the fire and flames unharmed; for “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it and are safe.”
“We’re passing through a dreary wilderness,
Oft weary, heavy laden and distressed;
But grace supports us o’er the toilsome road,
And faith insures us final rest with God.”
Again; notwithstanding we are continually waging this uncompromising war with countless hosts of insidious foes, not one of our Captain’s faithful soldiers have ever been destroyed, or even harmed. Then,
“If the passage is gloomy and seems to alarm,
Be fearless, be faithful, you’ll suffer no harm.”
Sometimes it is needful that we should pass under the rod, for he scourges all his children, but this is for our good, and a proof that we are not bastards, but sons. “And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and will bring you into the bond of the covenant.” Ezek. 20:37. The bond of this covenant can never be broken, it is an everlasting covenant, “ordered in all things and sure.” This covenant secures a safe conduct or passage through the whole journey of our weary pilgrimage, and a safe and felicitous ingress into the desired haven.
But this word Golan also signifies revolution, and a revolution is a great change in government, or, a deliverance from one code of law, and a placing under another or different code, constituting a complete transition. Witness for instance our revolutionary struggle with Great Britain. In that encounter we were delivered from the law of England, and eventually brought under the law or government of the United States. This was effected by a seven-year struggle of the people. But the revolution that we have under consideration is radically different in many respects. And first, suppose that the people of the United States had went to work on the Arminian plan, that is, by serving under, and obeying the laws of the mother country to the letter, and suppose that they had succeeded and pacified the tumult in that way, would that have produced a revolution? By no means; they would still have remained under the same law, as do workmongers by endeavoring to obey the law of Moses, or to be saved by their works.
But secondly, the American Revolution was accomplished by the united effort of the people. It was temporal, not spiritual; it cannot survive the ravages of time. Not so with this revolution. It is true in the first place, that Jesus strictly obeyed the law in all its exactions, but his obedience alone never could have effected a revolution. That law was violated by all his people, and a violated law knows no mercy – no mitigation short of the penalty annexed to the transgression. If the crime is a capital one, capital punishment must ensue, and when that is executed the law stops there. If an individual commits a capital offense in our country, the law says he shall hang until he is dead, and when dead, that law is a dead letter to that person, it can pursue him no further, it matters not how atrocious his crime may have been; the law ends there. As before observed, Christ’s people have all violated the law of God, their crime is a capital one – the penalty is death.
Now, Christ and his people are actually, absolutely and inseparably one. He, bearing their sins in his own body [and his people are his body] on the tree, was crucified, and consequently they were crucified with him; hence, they become dead to the law, the law is dead to them, and can pursue them no further; just as soon would our capital code pursue the man that is hung by the head until he is dead. Of the correctness of these facts we have abundant testimony in the scriptures; we need refer to but a few texts. See Rom.7:5,6 – “For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members, to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.” Again, “For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me,” &c. Gal. 2:19,20. “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” Rom. 10:4. “For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” Does not this constitute a thorough and complete revolution? Under the law of sin and death, bound by its manacles and fetters, sin reigns, pursues us, reigns even to death, but there the dominion of the law of sin ends; but now the thorough transition, the great change in our condition takes place, and we are brought under another, a different, and an infinitely superior dominion. Grace triumphs now, and reigns through righteousness unto eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord, brought under the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, that makes us free from the law of sin and death. But further; this revolution was not consummated, as ordinary ones are, by the efforts, struggles and exertions of the people at large. One champion encounters all the hosts of the adversary, and a terrible combat ensues. What a solemn, awe-inspiring scene here confronts us! One solitary, care-worn, marred-visaged individual on the one hand, defenseless, as to carnal weapons, unaided by helpers of any kind; but faced and opposed by hosts of relentless and bloodthirsty enemies, in combination with cohorts of the most powerful earthly government in existence. Suppose the millions of his people could have stood by and looked upon the grand, imposing scene, not knowing the final result, but thoroughly convinced that their eternal destiny hung upon the final event. Now, behold! A banditti gathers round him, armed with weapons of death; no resistance on his part; he is led before an auditory of his most deadly enemies; no objection is made. He is there smitten upon the cheek; no complaint. Thence he is led away to another auditory, vested with authority to take his life; no murmuring. Robbed of his clothing, and a mock robe placed upon him; no evasion. A crown of thorns is ruthlessly fixed upon his head; he calmly submits. Then he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter; he opens not his mouth. Next he is led to the place of execution, as a sheep before her shearers; he is dumb. And then, O tragical scene! With cruel severity his hands and his feet are pierced, jagged nails fasten him to the terrible cross, and there, by a painful, lingering, disgraceful and most cruel death, his life is taken away; and there is the end of the law. It can pursue neither him nor his people in him further. Is not this a complete transition? Here, then, we are delivered from the law, “that being dead wherein we were held;” not by violently opposing, disobeying, and forcibly throwing off the law, as did the American people in our revolution; for the law of sin and death from which we were delivered was holy, just and good, and our God, a “just God and a Savior,” could not disobey or violate a just and holy law. He therefore fulfilled it by suffering its penalty, after obeying it to the letter in behalf of his people. Now they are brought under the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, which makes them free from the law of sin and death; and this constitutes a thorough revolution, a complete GOLAN for his people.
But further; this Golan was a place of refuge and safety for those who were pursued by their enemies, or the avengers of blood. Here, too, is a symbol of the safety of the city of our God. The Lord dwells in this city, and he is her palladium, her safety, her everlasting and all-sufficient refuge. See Ps. 57:1; 59:16; 71:7. “The eternal God is her refuge, his everlasting arms are underneath to support her.” Walls of salvation protect her, mountains are round about, forming invulnerable fortifications to defend her. The place of defense for this is the munitions of rocks; bread shall be given them, their waters shall be sure. Isaiah 33:16. In their majestic Head is treasured an everlasting plenitude to supply their wants, with the sure mercies of David to relieve their suffering. What an asylum for the oppressed, the laboring, the heavy-laden pilgrim; and can we not say, with David, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and inquire in his temple.” Psa. 27:4.
“Here would I find a settled rest,
While others go and come;
No more a stranger or a guest,
But like a child at home.”
Yours to serve,
J. F. JOHNSON.