<< INVITATION TO THE GREAT SACRIFICE. >>
And thou son of man, thus saith the Lord Jehovih: Speak unto every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves and come; gather yourselves on every side, to My sacrifice, that I do sacrifice for you, a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh and drink blood.
Ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, of rams,· of lambs, and of goats, of bullocks, all of them fatlings of Bashan. All ye shall eat fat till ye be full, and drink blood till ye be drunken, of My sacrifice, which I have sacrificed for you. Thus ye shall be filled at My table with horses and chariots, with mighty men, and with all men of war, saith the Lord Jehovih. And I will set My glory among the nations.-EZEKIEL xxxix. 17-21.
ALL who have ears to hear spiritual things, are invited to a spiritual feast, in the inward sense of the Divine Word, by which they shall be instructed in truths of all degrees, and imbued with spiritual good of all kinds; so that they may be formed into a new church, which shall be in interior worship, and thence in external worship, also.
Even the casual reader can easily see that the statements of the text are not intended to be understood literally, but that they form a figurative prophecy. Historically, this calling was especially addressed to the Gentiles, at the coming of our Lord in the flesh. But, personally, the call is extended to all men who are in mental condition to heed its invitation.
Similar conditions are mentioned in Revelation xix. 17, 18: "And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come, and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; that ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all, free and bond, both small and great." It is not at all probable that God would invite anyone to a cannibal feast, to eat captains and princes and mighty men. And, certainly, no one could feast upon chariots, which were wagons, made of hard wood and iron, etc. And it is evident that God would not call the men of Israel to such a feast, and invite them especially, to eat fat, and to drink blood, as in our text; when, from the establishment of the Israelitish Church, He had always positively forbidden the Israelites to eat fat, or to drink blood, even of the beasts used for food. Certainly, the intended meaning of the text is to be found 'in its representative sense, only.
THE SPIRITUAL MEANING.
The prophet represents the Word of God, which was often given through the prophets. And the prophet speaking to the fowls, etc., represents the Word of God teaching human minds, Fowls, literally, mean birds of all kinds. Man is the head of all created life; and all the powers and capacities of all the creatures below man, represent the different abilities of man's mind. In general, beasts represent human affections, in the life of our heart; while birds represent human thoughts, in our intellectual life. Because of their representative meaning, beasts and birds were used in the Israelitish sacrifices. The call to all these birds and beasts, to assemble at the Lord's sacrifice, is a spiritual call to human thoughts and affections to come together, to associate themselves, for a common purpose; to come together from all different degrees and aspects of life, to feast in the good and true things with which the Lord will feed them, from the inward life of His Divine Word.
To sacrifice is to make holy, to devote to holy and spiritual purposes. Hence sacrifice represents worship of the Lord, and an acknowledgment that all the goodness and truth which we have, are from Him. It is called a " great" sacrifice, because it represents a general state of worship of the Lord, from genuine faith and love; and because it requires the worshipper to perceive the Divine character of the Lord, Jesus Christ, as the one God of heaven and of earth, from whom are all life, and goodness and truth. And the mountains of Israel, on which the feast was to be given, represent the exalted states of will and of understanding, in. the man who comes to that spiritual feast.
EATING AND DRINKING.
To eat, spiritually, is to receive a principle into our affections, and to appropriate it; that is, to make it our own, so that we adopt it into our character. Flesh, as a solid part of the body, represents goodness; and blood, as a fluid, represents truth. And, as blood is the living fluid, in which life circulates, it represents the Divine Truth, circulating in man's mind. This Divine Truth is from the Word of the Lord; i.e., from the Lord, through the Word. As the regenerating man receives a good principle into his will, his heart, this goodness makes a new condition in the man's will, a new quality of life. And when the man receives into his understanding, or spiritually drinks, a new truth, that truth works a new state of the man's understanding, his intellect, and of his practical life, also. Thus, to eat flesh and to drink blood, mean, spiritually, to receive goodness and truth, And such reception of living food from the Lord, constitutes a feast, in the regenerating mind, which is able to appreciate and to use such living food of the spirit. And this is a feast with the Lord, because, in it, the man is conscious of the Lord's presence, spiritually, and of communion with Him.
And this is the spiritual meaning of the eating and drinking in the holy supper, in which bread and wine are used representatively, with a meaning similar to that of the flesh and blood: for flesh and blood are the representatives of goodness and truth, among the things of the animal kingdom, while bread and wine have the same signification in the vegetable kingdom.
Literally, men take the bread and the wine, in the holy supper, in remembrance of the last supper of the disciples with the Lord, in which all used bread and wine. But, when a worshipper understands the spiritual significance, he takes the bread and the wine to represent his spiritual association with the Lord, whenever he receives the Lord's good and true principles into his heart and understanding, and thus mentally feasts with the Lord.
And, in such case, the spiritual feast is a great sacrifice, because, in it, ordinary things of human food are exalted, and made holy, by using them for a holy purpose, representatively, for communion with the Lord.
As a practical example of this sacrifice, observe the fact that there are persons who fear the use of wine, in the holy supper, lest it may arouse a disorderly taste for abusing wine. But, while this danger might exist for a man of very external states of mind, who regarded the matter as one of form, alone, experience has shown that a habit of intemperance has been cured, in men who have been led to regard wine in the holy supper as holy, and as a sacrifice, used with a spiritual purpose, and with a determination to live by spiritual principles; and, if necessary, to avoid the use of wine in any other way than in the holy supper.
In our text, the fowls and beasts are called to a feast in which they shall "eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, of rams, of lambs, and of goats, of bullocks, all of them fatlings of Bashan." Spiritually, the mighty, or powerful, are those who have in their minds the knowledges of truth, from the Divine Word, by which they know how to shun evil and falsity, and to do good, in heart and in conduct. And, apart from persons, the mighty are these truths of the Lord's Word by which a man has spiritual power. In all practical things, it is recognized that " Knowledge is power," because it gives a man the means of carrying out his intentions and purposes. And so, spiritually, to eat the flesh of the mighty is to receive the actual good which comes to the sincere mind by means of the knowledge of truth.
Kings and princes, who are leading men, in ruling a country, represent the leading or primary truths, which rule in the mind, the great fundamental principles of our minds, in all degrees, and of all kinds. The earth represents the church on earth; for, with men on earth, the church is built upon the natural mind, as a lower foundation. And so, to drink the blood of the princes of the earth, representatively and spiritually, is to receive the Divine Truth, in its fundamental forms, its great principles, even as applied in the life on earth.
Rams represent the good of charity, or love to the neighbor, which is spiritual good. Lambs represent innocence, in heart and in life, in principle and in practice. External and natural innocence is a negative state, in which the person has not done any sinful acts. But spiritual innocence is a positive state, in which the person is in such a good condition of heart and of thought, that he would not be willing to indulge any wrong feelings or thoughts. Goats represent faith, which is more external than love, but which holds the mind in the light of truth. Bullocks, and other cattle, represent our natural affections.
"Fatlings of Bashan" represent the good that is in the natural mind, and in the natural life, but from a spiritual origin. Fat, which is built up from the oil of the body, the warm, smooth element, represents goodness from the Lord, a warm, gentle affection, with the delight in goodness, which belongs to such affection. In its highest sense, fat represents celestial good, in which the Divine Love is intimately present. And, in its general sense, fat represents such good carried down into the lower degrees of man's mind, even in the natural life. Fatlings are cattle well fed, and fattened, and thus in good condition. And they represent the good which makes a man's mind to be in good condition, spiritually. The land of Bashan, on the East of the Jordan, and next to Gilead, was a great cattle-country, occupied by the half-tribe of Manasseh. And, being on the East of the Jordan, and not in the principal part of Palestine, it represented the natural mind, in the regenerating man. And thus "fatlings of Bashan," represented heavenly goodness, as it exists in the natural mind and life.
And thus, the call to feast upon the flesh "of rams, of lambs, and of goats, of bullocks, all of them fatlings of Bashan," is a spiritual call, to go to our Lord's feast, to which He calls us, in His Divine Word; and in which He will fill us with charity, innocence and faith, and regenerate natural affections, which will produce good conduct in practical life.
TO BE FILLED.
"All ye shall eat fat till ye be full, and drink blood till ye be drunken," means that there shall be every good and truth in abundance, all that can be used. To us, with our modern customs and ideas, the literal sense seems repulsive. But we must remember that it is representative, only. It does not mean that men should become drunken, but only that there is enough blood provided to make one drunken, if he drank too much, It is not meant that blood will intoxicate, but the meaning is figurative. For, as a fact, truth will mentally intoxicate a man who takes more truth intellectually than he uses in his heart.
Physical drunkenness does not come from the use of vinegar, or soured wine, but from the abuse of good wine. So, spiritually, mental intoxication does not come from merely false ideas, but from the falsification and abuse of spiritual truths, by an insincere mind, which knows the truth, intellectually, but perverts its meaning, in favor of selfish lusts.
Thus, to be filled with good things is to be spiritually filled with every good love, and every truth of faith, to fulness of heart and of understanding. To be thus filled at the Lord's table, is to be receptive of these spiritual things in the worship of the Lord, and by means of His holy Word, by which we know of these things, and by which we are enabled to receive them. At all times, the Word of the Lord supplies to the regenerating mind a feast in all things necessary to a heavenly and happy life.
HORSES AND CHARIOTS, ETC.
Our text also calls us to feast on " horses and chariots, with mighty men, and with all men of war." A horse, the intimate friend and intelligent servant of rnan, represents the intellectual life, in man's understanding, and especially the understanding of the Divine Word. For this reason the horse is frequently mentioned in the representative language of the Scriptures. A chariot, as a vehicle, for carrying men, represents a doctrine, a statement of truth, which carries the truth within it. To eat horses and chariots, spiritually, is to receive, and to make our own, an intelligent understanding of the Lord's truth, and of the doctrines of the church. And " men of war," whose flesh was also to be eaten, representatively, are the truths in our minds, combatting against all that is evil, false, and sinful, in our own natural tendencies. And to eat these men of war, is to receive and use the mighty truths of the Divine Word, in resisting evil, and in doing good.
THE LORD'S GLORY.
After the invitation to the great feast, our Lord says, "And I will set My glory among the nations.'' The glory of the Lord is the bright light of His Divine Truth, as a halo surrounding everything of His love and wisdom, in regenerate minds. To set the Lord's glory among the nations, representatively, is to give the light of His Divine Truth to those who are prepared to receive it; i.e., to those who are in interior good; and who, therefore, are in interior worship, from which they are in external worship, also. Such minds shall understand the Lord, because they receive new and spiritual truth in the good of love, i.e., in love to the Lord and to the neighbor, which is the good of life. And they shall be intelligent in spiritual things. All such minds are ready to receive instruction in. spiritual truths, that they may know the Lord more and more, and in higher aspects of His Divine life and character; and that they may form a new and spiritual church.
Our text is a Divine call to all such minds, to assemble upon the spiritual mountains of Israel, the high conditions of regenerate character; there to be gathered into closer bonds of love, and into greater spiritual intelligence. It is our heavenly Father's call to us, to climb up to greater heights of spiritual and natural character, and to live in the daily use and enjoyment of the grandest principles of love and wisdom which the God of love can give to His loving and obedient children. Our text is our Lord's call to us, to enter into that genuine religion which occupies and nourishes every part of our many-sided human life; a religion which will go with us through every day of every week and year, "to guide our feet into the way of peace;" that we may live " in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our life."
Author: Edward Craig Mitchell 1903