At the Honor Oak Christian Centre conferences the Sunday gatherings were usually not centred around the main theme. They had a different character. In the morning a short meditation was shared at the Lord’s table and in the afternoon speakers other than the main speaker joined in or gave an exhortation to prayer. Two of such in-between talks are published here. Both were given at the Easter Conference of 1959, which had “Divine Order in Christ” as its main theme. In the morning T. Austin-Sparks shared some thoughts on the crossing of the river Jordan under Joshua and in the afternoon H. Foster had a closer look at Daniel’s steadfastness. Both talks had a common theme: the resurrection. That is why the cover title of this volume of “The Golden Candlestick” is, “Resurrection”.

The Inheritance Secured
The article by T. Austin-Sparks is titled, “The Inheritance Secured.” It focusses on two aspects: the resurrection of Christ as the continuous source of life for the believer and the courage it takes for the believer to apply the spiritual reality of the resurrection in everyday life. Salvation comprises inheritance and that is why there is both a present and a future aspect. The promised land had already been given by God to the Israelites. To actually possess the land their part was to obey and act according to God’s promises. Likewise now the Kingdom of God has already been given to the believer in Christ. The Christian gives evidence of that fact by living a life of obedience to God’s Word, waiting for the moment that Christ has actually come back to settle His Kingdom on earth. The way towards the fulfilment of the promise is living according to the promise. The fulfilment is sure. The inheritance is secured. This assurance lies outside the scope of the believer. It is pure grace, based on the death and resurrection of Jesus. The picture speaks vividly and powerfully: the priests standing immovably with the ark of the covenant in the middle of the river Jordan on dry ground, while the people of Israel enter the land. It is a picture that will help us to put our faith in Christ and keep on doing so. If Christ has been raised from the dead, is there anything God cannot do? The exact relation between faith and receiving the eternal inheritance has been the subject of fiery theological debate over the centuries, but what can be said without dispute is that it is absolutely abnormal for a person who has tasted grace not to enter the Kingdom. But salvation is “so great”, according to the writer of the letter to the Hebrews, that it demands a proper response.

No automatism
It takes courage, says T. Austin-Sparks. Living the resurrection life does not come easily or automatically. This is a truth Joni Eareckson-Tada confirms again and again in her talks. When she gets up in the morning she immediately finds herself in a battle, “Lord, I cannot live this life!” But soon she finds her source of life and joy in Christ again. It is God Who gives her the strength. Of course she longs fervently for her final resurrection, but that hope has to be practically shaped and performed here and now, every day. There will never come a day that she can fly on automatic pilot. It is either having Christ and victory or no Christ and defeat. In the spirit of this article by T. Austin-Sparks we may imagine Joni pointing to the ark on the priests’ shoulders who still stand there, immovably, in the middle of river Jordan. There stands the cross of Christ, immovably, and thus His resurrection. That is our ground of an eternal inheritance secured.

The Word of God
It is amazing how God in the course of history works out His plan of salvation in such a way that the historical events He orchestrates are at the same time typological or at least analogical for the fulfilment of this plan. This is not always so; we have to be careful with typology. It needs backing up and confirmation by Scripture itself. A Biblical type is never a hidden meaning; it is, on the contrary, always meant to help understand spiritual reality. The people of Israel, in passing by the ark of the covenant as they entered the land, were reminded: it is all God’s doing; it is His covenant; it is His land; entering the land is on the ground of His Word that is inside the ark and that Word only. For them it was the Word of the Law, for us it is the Word of grace. And what a wonderful life is life under grace! It is the Word written in the hearts by the work of the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit is the seal of the promise, the Guarantor of the inheritance.

As He Did Aforetime
Harry Foster’s contribution is entitled, “As He Did Aforetime.” The phrase is taken from the book of Daniel (6:10). Sharing a brief meditation on a phrase from the book of Daniel is not easy. Maybe the speaker knew his hearers well and presupposed some knowledge of the book among them. He attributes Daniel’s perseverance to the vision he had, but — probably because of lack of time — does not mention what this vision is. In chapter 6 we find Daniel in the lions’ den, but up to this point we have not read about a vision that would have given him the strength to undergo this trial. Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams may have encouraged Daniel, showing him that God was in control, but this was not directly related to himself or the fate of his fellow countrymen. It is in chapter 9 that we come across the vision or rather an understanding of God’s Word. We should not try to put the two events in chronological order and find some connection between them. Any such effort will fail. The book is not meant to give an historical account of a certain period. Although Jesus calls him “Daniel the prophet” his book is not traditionally prophetic; it does not call God’s people to repentance, nor are there any divine oracles. We will not find phrases like, “Thus says the LORD …” in Daniel. It consists of two parts: chapters 1-6 and chapters 7-12. Part one could serve as basic lessons from history, by which we may know the positive outcome of the future for God’s people, described in part two. The book as a whole is apocalyptic; it describes the rise and fall of empires and God’s final intervention in history by establishing His everlasting Kingdom. Chapters 1 and 8-12 are written in Hebrew, 2-7 in Aramaic. This may imply that the Hebrew parts were originally meant for insiders.

The Christian vision
Although Daniel’s life and the lives of his three friends are exemplary it is not his or their good character that Christians should pursue. His loyalty to God is to be praised, but the emphasis should remain on God Himself. God is sovereign. God is just. God is faithful. That is the message. He has an answer to the bewildering situation of the exiles. He is going to bring them back. Daniel takes hold of that promise. He struggles with it but God graciously helps him. And this may indeed have given him the strength to go through the toughest trials unwaveringly. Likewise Christians have been bestowed with promises and vision. In Romans 5:1-8 Paul gives us a clue, the hope of glory. Once a man or woman knows that the love of God has been poured out into the heart by the Spirit, nothing should be able to move or intimidate him or her. “If God be for us …”. And what is this “hope of glory” other than the resurrection? That is the Christian vision!

The analogy of Babylonian exile
There have been many attempts to find New Testament antitypes of the Babylonian exile. Some think that Martin Luther typified the Roman Catholic Church of his days with Babylon, but this is a mistake. Comparing the Church with Babylon was his rhetorical way of accusing the Roman leadership of keeping away the ordinary people from faith in Christ. The only safe analogy is the one used by Peter, suggesting that Christians are not at home in this present world and are in that sense exiles. Their Kingdom is — as the Lord Jesus Himself put it — not of this world.

February 2021
On behalf of The Golden Candlestick team,
Hugo de Jong