The Patriarchal Section (continued)
Abraham: the man whose portion alone was the Lord. "Fear not, Abram: I am Thy ... reward" (Genesis 15:1). That is all. A man deprived of his country and deprived of all foothold in the land of his sojourn, he went up and down that land as "a stranger and a sojourner" (Genesis 23:4), but his portion was the Lord. We are told that he was looking for "a better country ... a heavenly"; for "the city ... whose builder and maker is God" (Hebrews 11:16, 10). Abraham's alone portion was the Lord. There is very much more in it than that, but that sums it up. And such was the Lord Jesus. What a lonely life was His, and, so far as things here were concerned, what a life of forgoing, of deprivation! But the Father was His portion, and that was enough for Him.
Isaac: the living embodiment of the fact that there is a life which cheats death of its prey, renders death null and void and leaves it behind, and goes on. Again, that is the Lord Jesus: a life which all the time declares that death is vanquished; and death is cheated; life that goes on and ever on, triumphant over death.
Jacob: a difficult character, Jacob. Yet, when you come to sum up his story, here was a man who came to know the thing which the Lord Jesus knew, and which characterized Him perhaps more than anything else: that it is only the life in the Spirit that is ascendent life. Jacob made a very thorough and exhaustive trial of gaining ascendency in the flesh. The day came when his flesh was smitten, and he was weakened and broken. He discovered in that moment that ascendency is not by the wit and cunning and strength of the flesh, but wholly by the Spirit. The Lord Jesus lived on that principle. God brought Jacob through to the ground of His own Son - the ground of ascendency in the Spirit.
Joseph: he sums up all the others and embodies the great truths of Christ: suffering and glory.
Here, then, in outline, we have God's portrait of His Son. Now remember: it is said that it was by the Son that all things were created (John 1:3; Col. 1:16). The end of the first section, the creation, therefore, is arrived at by the Son. What is He doing after that? It is true that God has entered into His rest - but what is the Son doing? Has the Son sat down and said, "That is the end of everything?' For the whole of that long period afterward, what is the Son doing? The Son is active in the inculcation of Himself in the lives of those seven men. He is building Himself into their spiritual experience. He is bringing out the lines of His own character in this sevenfold way. The only profitable and right way to study the Patriarchs is to study them in the light of Jesus Christ. They are interesting as human studies, but that will not get you anywhere. If you can see that what God is after, what He has committed Himself to, and what the Son is engaged upon, is to reproduce Himself in the spiritual life of men, then you have something to bring you into a knowledge of Christ that is helpful knowledge, building knowledge, constructive knowledge, knowledge that is power and life.
(continued with # 5 - (The Israelitish Section)