A Primary Object of Present Divine Need (continued)
Paul A Type of the Whole Vessel
That truth and that principle comes out in the way which we are very fond of speaking and thinking of here, that is, in connection with Paul and the Church. As we have frequently said, the great revelation of the mystery of Christ and His members, one Body, the Church, with all its meaning, which comes through the Apostle Paul, was personally represented and signified by the man himself. That he as "a" vessel in every detail represented "the" vessel of the testimony. What was true of the corporate vessel, the Church, was revealed through him, was true of him personally and had to be made so. That is where we begin when we speak of the vessel and that is the most helpful way, perhaps, of reaching the heart of this matter.
There are one or two passages which come through the Apostle, which show that this very thought was in his own mind. The passage in Philippians 3:17: "Brethren, be ye imitators together of me, and mark them that so walk even as ye have us for an ensample." The word "ensample" there is the word "tupas," which is type. "Even as ye have s for a type." Now you take that last fragment, ye have us for a type, and link it with the first fragment, be ye imitators of me. Turn to 1 Timothy 1:15: "Faithful is the saying, and worthy of all acceptation; that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief: howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me as chief might Jesus Christ show forth all His long suffering, for an ensample (for a type) of them that should thereafter believe on him unto eternal life." More literally that is: "This is a trustworthy saying and worthy of all acceptation that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief; howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth the whole long-suffering for a pattern, or delineation of them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting." Do you catch that? Paul made a pattern for all who should hereafter believe; that is, he is placed at the head of the age which he represents, as a pattern, as a model, as a type, as a delineation, as a representation. There is a great deal more in what he is saying here than I have time for, but when he speaks of the whole long-suffering, he is referring to a dispensation which he had represented as a member of Israel (the long-suffering of God through the whole Jewish age was the most marvelous thing) and that whole dispensation of Judaism which drew out the long-suffering of God in such a marvelous way. Think about it.
I confess that spiritually I have often found God's dealings with Ahab a stumbling block, for I have felt that God ought to have dealt with Ahab long before He did. But while it is said of Ahab that he sinned more than all the kings of Israel that were before him, and that was before he married Jezebel and yet when God did pronounce a judgment on Ahab and determined his end, and Ahab started whimpering and putting on sackcloth and fasting, the Lord said to the prophet: "Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? Because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days; but in his son's day will I bring the evil upon his house" (1 Kings 21:29). I have had a quarrel with the Lord over that many a time because of the issue. But I am wrong, of course! Now take that as a fragment of the long-suffering of God and spread a thing like that over the long dispensation, and then take Saul of Tarsus as an outstanding and inclusive representation, as we shall see presently, of that whole Jewish dispensation and order, and the last thing that Saul of Tarsus did was to consent to the murder, the martyrdom of Stephen in red-hot blood, so to speak, violent blood, against Jesus of Nazareth. Now, he says, the whole long-suffering, all the long-suffering of God as shown through that long and terrible age is gathered up in Saul, the cumulative long-suffering of God is gathered up and he stands as a model of the long-suffering of God for all who should hereafter believe. But the heart of the thing that I am trying to get at is this, that Paul was a model, a type at the beginning of the age, of the vessel, the vessel of mercy, and what he was individually, the whole Body - vessel - would be collectively; and as parts of that Body, and as individual vessels, we stand in relation to that whole long-suffering of God. We are where we are because of the infinite grace of God.
Now I think we have established fairly well at the outset, our principle, that what is true of the whole vessel has to be true of the individual vessel, and that the individual vessel has to be a representation of the whole.
(continued with # 58 - (The Closing of an Entire History)