THE VOICE OF THE SPIRIT — A Paper by Joseph Revell

Revelation 22:17

The Spirit’s voice is the expression of the present mind of God. Of old the priest in the house of God had the Urim and Thummim by which God made known His mind. Now, the Spirit maintains a living testimony within the house of God, and shows what is the mind of God. Thus, in the early chapters of the Revelation, the one who has an ear to hear is called to hear the Spirit’s voice to the assemblies. We are not called to hear the assembly’s voice, but what the Lord has to say in the testimony of the Spirit to the assemblies, and about them. If the assembly speaks there cannot but be in its voice the sad evidence of all the corruption which has found a place within it. In the voice of the Spirit there is the maintenance of all that is according to God, even though it be to the condemnation of the church. All that in which man rests in self-complacency, and of which he boasts so loudly, is exposed, as the mind of God is made known, and judgment is pronounced upon it as evil. This bows the heart that loves the Lord in deepest humiliation, that that which bears His name should be found so evil that nothing can prevent its becoming the subject of the righteous judgment of God.

But now, in the close of the book, we hear the Spirit’s voice in a different way. The Lord presents Himself as the One in whom all blessing lies, and the Spirit leads in the suited cry of invitation to Him to come: “The Spirit and the bride say, Come”. It is not His voice alone which utters the cry, for joined with His is the voice of the saints in whose hearts bridal affection has been formed, and with it the intense longing to see the face of Him whom they love. In the solemn testimony of judgment in the early part of the book, the Spirit’s voice gives the message of the Lord. In the cry of invitation, He leads the saints to a suited response to the Lord. In both, He maintains the mind of God.

The Lord presents Himself as the Root and Offspring of David, and the bright and Morning Star. In chapter 5: 5, He is announced as the Lion which is of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David. He is thus made known as the subject of prophecy, from that of Jacob, when he blessed his sons, to that of the later prophets. Yet He appears in the midst of the throne in the character of a Lamb standing as slain. He has overcome, but He has done so through suffering and death. He comes forward to take up the inheritance, and to fulfil in regard to it all the will of God. The first strokes of His power must of necessity be in judgment for the overthrow of evil in its various forms, but all this is with a view to bringing in all the blessing which God has purposed for the earth. How happy will be the day when the power of the evil one shall be broken and abolished, and the Lord alone shall be exalted!

The darkness of the night seems most intense when in chapter 2 we read the message to Thyatira. Then it is that the Lord speaks to the overcomer of the day when His own shall share with Him His reign, and adds, “I will give to him the morning star” (verse 28). He makes Himself known in the heart as the pledge of the day, and the assurance of its being near. The day of which He is the blessed harbinger is the day of God, beginning with His reign for the subjugation of all things, but passing on to when God shall be all in all, the day of eternity. We taste the joy of that day in the knowledge of Himself. Here, in this closing presentation of Himself in this character, He adds the word “bright”. It is as though the nearer we come to the close, and feel more the darkness around, the brighter becomes to us the character He bears. He is the bright Morning Star.

It is significant that in this way the Lord presents Himself at the close. We ourselves have had to learn the truth much in the order in which it is presented in this book. That is, we have had to learn the evil that has crept into the church, which has brought it, as an outward body in this world, under judgment. Along with this we have learned something of the working of things in the world, and the details which are given prophetically in Scripture of the Lord’s coming. Now, the Lord would draw us from the contemplation of the evil, and its judgment, and would wean us from the absorbing study of prophetic details, that He may have our eyes and hearts for Himself. The great theme of these closing verses is what He Himself is: “I Jesus ... I am”. Whatever the world is, and whatever the church has become, He remains, and all blessing is found with Him.

The great end of the Spirit’s present work is that we may be brought to the consciousness of union with Christ. It is dependent upon affection for Him, for no one could value union with Him to whom He is not the absorbing Object. Leading us, therefore, by the path of deliverance, and of the knowledge of the purpose of God, He so presents Christ to us that our affection for Him grows. In this way does He form the bridal cry which is here spoken of, in which He Himself leads, as showing that it is the present mind of God. “The Spirit and the bride say, Come”. It is the language of the heart divinely instructed in our relation to Christ, that longs with affectionate yearning after Him, that He may have His place and that His joy may be full.

Beloved brethren, let those who wish to do so count dates and investigate the signs of the times. But let it be our earnest desire to be formed by the Spirit in the intimate knowledge of the One whom we love, and of our proper relation to Him, that there may be produced in our hearts and upon our lips, intelligently and fervently, the response which the Lord looks for to the presentation of Himself — “Come”.

Joseph Revell (d. 1900)

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