The Recovering of the Lord's Testimony in Fullness
The Full Triumph of the Heavenly Jerusalem Over Death
And when we move from the earthly to the heavenly; when we move from the old dispensation - the dispensation of that Jerusalem, as Paul puts it, "that now is," here on the earth - away to that other Jerusalem of which the Apostle speaks in heaven, the "Jerusalem which is above" (Galatians 4:25 and 26), or to that Jerusalem to which we are now come, according to Hebrews 12:22, or to the Jerusalem which appears at last in fullness of glory (Revelation 21:10): what do we come to? We come to the full triumph over death, because it is in that final heavenly Jerusalem that the tree of life is found, and the river of water of life. Everything speaks of death fully and finally conquered. So that the wall in recovery is but a parable and a picture of this great truth, substantiated in history, but fully realized in glory in the spiritual realm. This is a monument to the principle that when God is associated, really associated, with anything or with anyone, or when they are associated with God, the mark will be resurrection - newness of life. It will be life. A testimony in life is the testimony that is here represented as being recovered, throwing its light right on to our own time, which is marked by so many features that characterized the days of Nehemiah spiritually. Go will move again - shall we not say God is moving again? - to bring about in a new way, within a people, this great testimony to the indestructibility of His own life; something which declares that His life, though it may seem oft-times to go into death, to be swallowed up, to be overwhelmed, nevertheless comes up again;; this life cannot be fully and destroyed. A testimony in life. It is a testimony to something that God does, that is the point.
Resurrection: The Unique Province of God
We have so often said that resurrection is the unique province of God. We may do a great deal at resuscitations, artificial respirations, but we can do nothing in resurrections. Once death has taken place, that is the end of all man's power and hope, and then it is for God to act, or it is nothing. God is the God of resurrection - that is His alone prerogative: so that anything that really is a work of God bears this mark, that nothing can account for it but an indestructible, imperishable life. There is something there which is more than of man.
Sometimes man comes into the things of God - we shall see that in this book as we proceed - unsurping the place of God in His Jerusalem, in relation to His testimony; and then death begins and destruction concludes the process; God hands the thing over to death. It is a solemn thing to realize that there comes a point where God has to stand back and hand over to death, because man has taken hold and got in His way. But when man does this the fires of judgment work. The result of such interference with God will work itself out; and then, when that work of fiery purification is accomplished, God returns and raises from the dead. That is the history of many things with which God has commenced, but from which in the course of events He has had to stand back, and then again He has come in. It is like that.
And it is like that sometimes in individual Christian lives. God finds that He can go on no further; He has gone as far as He can. Now He is obstructed; there is a will thee that refuses to yield to Him. There is something thee that will not let go to God. He stands back, and if it be through long, long decades - witness Israel's forty years in the wilderness, and seventy years of captivity; long years of barrenness, emptying and desolation - the Lord does not give up. He would recover, He would restore, He would come again, He would have a testimony even there. But oh, what a solemn warning not to lose life, to lose years, to lose the fruitfulness which might be, by resisting the Lord, and knowing nothing but a barren death so far as our usefulness to Him is concerned. Something that God has done is the testimony that God would revive, not what man has done for God, but what God Himself has done, and more - a testimony not only in life, but a testimony of life; not only what God has done but what God will do through what He has done. He has raised an instrument, He has brought it back to life, He ham a vessel resurrected - now see what He will do through it!
A testimony of life - that surely is the glorious triumph of the ultimate Jerusalem "coming down from God out of heaven" (Revelation 21:2). What a checkered history that name Jerusalem has had! But now at last there is triumph in connection with that very name. No longer does it represent or symbolize defeat and failure and tragedy. It is now the symbol of God's triumph. Here at last death is swallowed up in victory. And what happens? Out from that Jerusalem there flows a river of water of life. The nations are deriving the value. The tree is bearing its fruit, watered by that river, and the leaves of the tree are for the health of the nations. It is a testimony of life.
(continued with # 3)