Responsibility in an Assembly – 1 Chronicles 4. 21-23 – Part 2

Having considered in our previous paper the fine linen, the ancient things and the potters occurring in this passage, the next fact that we discover about these men is that they:

Dwelt among Plants and Hedges, v. 23

They were surrounded by living things. In Isaiah 5. 7, Judah is called God’s “pleasant plant”, and Israel His “vineyard”. Another wonderful statement concerning Israel is found in Isaiah 60. 21, where God says that “Thy people shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified”. There follow the words, “that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified”, 61. 3. Job writes of trees that have been cut down, having roots, that wax old in the earth, and the stock dying in the ground. But he adds, “Yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant”, 14. 7-9. How we need the One who gives the water of life.

In Song of Solomon 4. 12-15, the Church typified is referred to as “a garden inclosed (nailed up, bolted) is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up (the same word as inclosed), a fountain sealed”. This suggests that all the beauty, fragrance and all the fruit of the Church should be. of, and for, the Lord. We are to be shut up unto Christ and for His glory alone. “Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard, spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices: a fountain of gardens a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon”. streams

All these names are suggestive of spiritual things, and contain much truth both for the individual and the assembly. But in either case, there must be the being shut up unto the Lord. Consider the plants: Pomegranates’. a beautiful fruit, containing within many hidden seeds. As we meditate inwardly upon the many seed thoughts touching the Lord Jesus, we must present the beauties of the Lord Jesus to others. Pleasant fruits’, the fruit of the Spirit - all for His glory. Camphire: this is thought to be a shrub like the privet, or perhaps a tree like the cypress. Apparently it had a fragrant sweet perfume. Spikenard: a perfumed ointment, wonderfully fragrant, capable of filling the house with its delightful odour, John 12. 3. Saffron: aromatic, but bitter to the taste, and sometimes used in medicine. “With his stripes we are healed” - His the bitterness, but ours the joy. Calamus: a reed, like common cane, but remarkably fragrant. So the Lord Jesus took upon Himself the likeness of men, but His fragrance is that of the altogether lovely Son of God. Cinnamon: an aromatic bark, the outer covering of a tree, reminding us of the fragrance of His earthly life in the body prepared for Him. Frankincense: obtained by piercing a tree; it was called frank because it was free burning, giving out its fragrance very readily. It is bitter and acid to the taste, but when it is burnt it exudes fragrance, speaking of the Lord as our burnt offering. Myrrh: a medicinal gum yielded by a thorny tree. Used in embalming, it suggests to us healing through Christ’s suffering and death. Aloes: a perfumed wood, speaking of the fragrance of the earthly life of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In Song of Solomon 4. 1 6 we read that the wind is called upon to awaken and to blow upon the garden, so that the fragrance of the spices may flow out. Then the beloved One will come into His garden, to eat His pleasant fruits. How we need the Holy Spirit to remind us of the loveliness of our Lord, His Person, His work and His worth! When our hearts are full of true adoration and worship, then we are conscious of His presence with us.

In Psalm 1. 3 we find the blessed man like a tree planted by the rivers of water, bringing forth its fruit in season, and never withering. This is spiritual prosperity. A similar thought occurs in Jeremiah 17. 7-8; truly trusting - freely fruiting.

Dwelling among Hedges, 1 Chron. 4. 23

Today, God hedges us about with blessing and protection. Satan’s complaint to God concerning Job was that God had made a hedge about him, about his house, and about all that Job had on every side. In Ezekiel there are two references to hedges; both of these carry the thought of responsibility, which may not be popular to some believers today. In Ezekiel 13. 5 the charge is made against Israel that she had not filled the breaches, nor hedged the hedges, thus not being equipped and prepared for the battle in the day of the Lord. The second reference is in Ezekiel 22. 30; here God says that at that particular time, He could not find a man among them who should make up the hedge or stand in the gap before Him for the land, that He should not destroy it. But God found none. How terrible when there is no man ready and willing to serve God at any particular time. Is not this our need today ? - of men able to stand for the truth of God, to withstand the inroads of modernism, liberalism and compromise in local assemblies, to stand in the defence of the Gospel and the Word of God, and to go with the gospel and the teaching of the New Testament.

Finally in our verse we read of these men, “there they dwelt with the king for his work”. Is there not a lesson in this for us? Do we not need to cultivate a conscious realization of being in the presence of the Lord ? The word “dwelt” here has the meaning of “to sit still, or to sit down”. We live in a world of rush and bustle, but we must make time to get alone with the Lord. It is possible for us to know that we will “dwell in the house of the Lord for ever”, and yet fail to .experience and enjoy the thrill of dwelling with Him now. The psalmist had the right idea, expressed in the words of Psalm 27. 4, “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 to inquire in his temple”. There are three outstanding things here. The psalmist’s desire involved: (i) his position - to be in the presence of the Lord; (ii) his vision - to view the Lord Himself; (iii) his intelligence - to inquire in His temple. He wanted to get to know the Lord in a more intimate way. As we know more of the Lord, we get to know more about heavenly things. Dwelling with God enlightens the vision and understanding.

In the first Epistle of John we find a number of things which have to do with dwelling with the Lord. Dwelling with God means that we share what we have with others, 3. 17. If I do not share, the love of God does not dwell in me. Obeying Him also indicates that we dwell in Him, y. 24. Loving the Lord’s people means that God dwells in us, 4. 12. Having given us His Spirit, God can and does dwell within us, v. 13. Confessing the Lord Jesus as Son of God assures us that God dwells in us, and we in Him, v. 15. Dwelling in love means dwelling in God, v. 16.

2 Corinthians 3. 17-18 seems to link up with Psalm 27. 4. Position and vision stand out in both passages. Paul writes, “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty”. The word for “liberty” has the meaning “freedom of access into the presence of God; manumission from slavery”. It also suggests that we have been purchased by the Lord Himself, and can never again become enslaved by Satan. Immediately following access comes the verse that reminds us that we who belong to Christ, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit. What a wondrous transformation! Being consciously in His presence, dwelling with Him, gazing on Him with the eye of faith, we must be transformed so as to reflect something of His glory in our service and worship.

For we must not forget that dwelling with the king is connected with serving the king. 1 Chron. 4. 23. In Matthew 28. 19-20 the service of the Lord is linked with His presence among His servants. The commission to make, baptize and teach disciples is followed by His promise to be with them always. In order that we may serve the Lord effectively in a spiritual way, we must obey the command or beseeching found in Romans 12. 1. We are told to present our bodies a living sacrifice unto God ; He wants every part of each believer - spirit, soul and body. Again in Philippians 2. 17-18 Paul, after speaking about “holding forth the word of life”, indicates his willingness to be “offered (poured out) upon the sacrifice and service of your faith”, and that he would do this with joy. This is self-sacrificial service. When we get to heaven, service and vision will be perfect and complete, for “his servants shall serve him: and they shall see his face”, Rev. 22. 3-4. There we shall dwell with Him in His service.


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