Life ... Promised Before Times Eternal (continued)
Now you are wondering what the next phase in the Old Testament can be! Well, of course, I leave out a lot, and come to the phase of the Prophets. That is really a longer phase than the part of the Old Testament which is called the Prophets, for Samuel was a Prophet. You go though the whole school of the Prophets, and when you listen to them what do you hear? Can you hear the Prophets? They are crying, they are groaning, they are in pain. What is all this about? It is the travail of life. It is the mature, the manhood phase of the Old Testament.
That phase - the travail of life - began immediately as Jesus moved from the Jordan. The battle for life began then, and from then on to the Cross it was the travail of life. This great thing called "eternal life" has entered into a great conflict in the universe, and Calvary became the center of the whole universe. It was not just something that happened in a small place called Palestine, just outside Jerusalem. It reached out into all the world, and then it reached beyond the world. Calvary was a great cosmic battle. Paul says that He stripped off principalities and powers in His Cross (Colossians 2:2). It was the great travail of life.
Now, dear friends, this ought to help us to understand what the Holy Spirit is doing with us. I do not want to discourage young Christians, nor do I want to cast a shadow over your growing Christian life, but I must say this: the further we go with the Lord, the longer we live with Him and the closer we walk with Him, the more intense becomes this travail of life. Is that true? What do you know about that? We have sometimes said, when we are having a very difficult experience: 'It does not get easier as we get older!' You would think that, having walked with the Lord for so many years, He would let us have a little easier time at the end, but He does not do so. Does that explain something? Things are getting more difficult and sometimes the devil says: 'Ah, this is because the Lord is not with you. If that great Lord that you believe in was with you, you would not have these troubles!' That is exactly what the devil said to the Lord Jesus when He was on the Cross. 'Your Father has left You. You are suffering like this because He has given You up. You see how the devil twists things! But spiritual maturity involves intensive conflict.
I have said that the third period in the Old Testament, that of the Prophets, is the travail of life. How the Prophets are suffering to bring back that Divine life in fullness to the people of God! Yes, the Old Testament closes - but what are you going to say about closing the Old Testament? It closes in tragedy, in hopelessness? Not at all! It closes in order that the New Testament may open, and what does the travail work out to in the New Testament? A new history begins. Out of the travail "a Child is born, a Son is given," the Old Testament is lifted up onto the heavenly plane, and the Holy Spirit begins all over again in the spiritual realm. He begins with our new birth, takes us on into the period of spiritual growth, where we learn the laws of spiritual life, and then on into the travail of life that the Kingdom should come, and we are called upon to share this part of the biography of Jesus Christ - "If we suffer with Him, we shall also reign with Him" (2 Timothy 2:12). And what was the suffering of Jesus? It was the travail of His soul that He should see His seed, prolong His days, and be satisfied. That is what He is doing in us now by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is working toward that end - that He should be satisfied, and we shall be satisfied when we awake in His likeness.
(continued with # 11 - (A. The True Life and the False Life)