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THE PEARL OF GREAT PRICE
Mt. 13:45 records one of the kingdom parables of Jesus as follows: "The Kingdom of heaven is like to a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it." This was the sixth of a series of parables recorded in Mt. 13. The seventh, in verses 47-50, has to do with a net cast into the sea gathering a great catch of fish. I believe these seven parables picture the course of this age, and thus the seventh, and last, would picture the final great harvest of souls which is to be gathered from the "sea" of humanity before this age closes. If this is true, then the sixth parable, which deals with the pearl of great price, chronologically pictures something which the Lord is doing NOW, just before the gospel "net" brings in the last great harvest of this age.
[Three Sets of Seven Types]
It is this sixth parable that I want to deal with in this article. But first, so that you may get a better grasp of the progress of God's plan through this age, I will list the seven parables of Mt. 13, and also show that they have a correspondence to the seven feasts of the Lord and the seven churches in Rev. 2 & 3.
Seven parables of Mt. 13:11-50
1. The Sower
2. The Wheat and Tares
3. The Mustard Seed
4. The Leaven in the Meal
5. The Hid Treasure
6. The Pearl of Great Price
7. The Net in the Sea
Seven churches in Rev. 2 & 3
Seven Feasts in Lev. 23:10-44
2. Unleavened Bread
3. Firstfruits Wave Sheaf
6. Day of Atonement
I cannot take the time in this study to detail the parallels in each of the three sets of sevens as they show the progress of God's plan down through this age. But just for example, in the first parable in Mt. 13:1-8, the sower sows the seed (Word of God) on different types of soils (hearts). This pictures the beginning of this age when Jesus, and later the apostles, sowed the gospel seed. This corresponds in the Feasts of the Lord to the first feast which is Passover, speaking to us of the Word of salvation through the blood of Jesus. Ephesus, being the first of the churches, also speaks to us of the apostolic church, or beginning of this age when the gospel seed was first preached.
To illustrate further, notice the seventh in each set. We have already mentioned that the net cast into the sea speaks of the last great revival and ingathering of this age. The seventh Feast is that of Tabernacles, which took place at the close of the harvest season when the final crops and vintage were gathered in, and is also called in the scriptures the Feast of Ingathering (Ex. 23:16). So again, this last feast speaks of the final harvest of the age. Then the last church is Laodicea. Ordinarily, when reading of this church we see only the lukewarm condition of apostate Christianity which is to be so prevalent at the close of this age. But notice that right in the midst of this letter are the Lord's indications of a final great harvest during the time of the great tribulation. Why do I say this? First, the Lord says that He will spew this church out of His mouth (Rev. 3:16). But spewed out where? Right into the great tribulation! Now notice in Rev. 3:20 that Jesus says to this church in the midst of the tribulation: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with me." What a glorious hope and opportunity! We might parallel this passage of Jesus at the door knocking with Mt. 24:33 which declares that when certain tribulation conditions come to pass: "So likewise you, when you shall see all these things, know that He is near, even at the doors (knocking!)." Multitudes will "hear His voice" in those days and invite Him to come in, for the greatest revival in history will be in progress»
Notice further the words of Jesus to the Laodicean church in Rev. 3:18: "I counsel you to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich; and white raiment, that you may be clothed, and that the shame of your nakedness does not appear; and anoint your eyes with eye-salve, that you may see." In relation to the Lord, the only thing people have to "buy" with is themselves, and the above scripture shows not only what will be available to "buy" during that great tribulation, but also the "mentality" of vast numbers of previously lukewarm Christians at that time. Nothing else will matter but "selling themselves out totally" to the Lord with a devotion that will approach a "mania"--in order to "buy" as quickly as possible and get ready for the Lord to translate them at the close of the tribulation. Their diligent seeking of the Lord will enable them to "buy" "gold (Divine life and character) tried in the fire." The "fire" here is a reference to the "fiery tribulation" that will be going on at that time. They will receive "eye-salve" (the ointment of the Holy Spirit) to open their eyes which had been blinded by their traditions and lukewarmness, and also "white raiment" that the "shame" of the "nakedness" does not appear. This last statement is extremely important and I will tell you what it means later in this article.
[The Sixth Parable: The Pearl]
Now to come to the sixth parable quoted at the beginning of this article. I believe that the "merchant man" seeking goodly pearls is none other than the Lord Jesus Himself. What then is the pearl which He sells all to buy? In the fifth parable (Mt. 13:44) a man (Jesus) buys a "field" for the sake of a treasure in it. We know that the "field" is the world (Mt. 13:38), which Jesus purchased by His death on the cross, that He might have a "treasure." God told Israel that they would be a "peculiar treasure" to Him above all people, and we know that the same is said of new covenant Israel—the people of faith (see Ex. 19:5; I Pet. 2:9). But there is something else which Jesus is seeking, and which He gave His all for (and continues to give Himself for), that PEARL of great price, which I believe is a body of overcomers OUT OF the rest of His people (treasure). Those who know their Bibles know that special promises are given to the overcomers. Because they are the ones who will inherit the upper or heavenly part of the coming kingdom in contrast to all other Christians who must be resurrected back to this earth (more on this later). They are the ones who shall live in intimate association with Jesus as His Bride and Household in glorified bodies like to His, and because of this a special work must be done in them. This is where the PEARL comes in. What a beautiful picture of "overcoming" the pearl is.
Before writing further about the PEARL, I want to share some related scriptures. In Rev. 21, John describes his vision of the New Jerusalem, the heavenly city of God. Notice carefully what he says in Rev. 21:21: "And the twelve gates were twelve PEARLS; each individual gate was of one pearl." WHY is each gate a pearl? Is this not literally shouting at us that only those who become, as it were, a "little pearl" in God's sight will enter that city? God is showing us that He must do a work in us symbolized by the making of a pearl before we are ready to enter that city.
[The Sixth Church]
For further confirming evidence, let us now turn to the sixth church and see the correspondence with the sixth parable we are considering. The sixth church is Philadelphia, which is the most pure and faithful of all of the seven churches, Jesus found no fault with it, neither did He command it to repent of anything. Now notice carefully the special promise to the overcomers of the Philadelphia church, because it "ties in" with the overcomers and the New Jerusalem. "Him that overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go out no more: and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God: and I will write on him my new name." (Rev. 3:12). The "writing" of these names on the overcomers would indicate their readiness for a new potential and destiny, linked with their "reigning" with Christ in the heavenly city, the New Jerusalem.
[The Sixth Feast]
I will now link these truths of the sixth parable and the sixth church with the sixth Feast of the Lord. That feast was the Day of Atonement, which was on the 10th day of the 7th month, according to the Jewish calendar. The Day of Atonement was the one day in the year that the High Priest, with the sacrificial blood, entered the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle to "make atonement" for the sins of the people. You can read the details in Lev. chap. 16. I will not here go into all those details, but simply relate the main points to our study. We know that the one primary fulfillment of the day of atonement was when Jesus, our High Priest, entered into the Holy of Holies in Heaven with His own blood (Heb. 9:12). But I also believe that the Old Testament High Priest, as he entered the Holy of Holies on the day of Atonement, represents in type an overcoming BODY of Christians (of which Christ is the Head), who shall enter into the very presence of the Father in Heaven, and then during the Millennial Kingdom of Christ also share the throne and glory of God and the Lamb in the heavenly New Jerusalem. They will be a part of the Melchisedec priesthood, for Melchisedec (who was a type of Christ) was both a King and Priest (Heb. 7:1-2), and these overcomers will reign as kings and priests with Christ (Rev. 1:6; 5:10) over the earth.
Now I want you to notice something very carefully. The Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle was a 10 x 10 x 10 or a perfect CUBE. Look now at Rev. 21:16 and you will see that the New Jerusalem is also equal in length and breadth and height—also a perfect CUBE. Therefore, the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle was actually a miniature TYPE of the coming New Jerusalem. In the Holy of Holies were the Ark of the Covenant and the Shekinah Glory cloud. And God, who was King in Israel is pictured in the Old Testament as "reigning" from His dwelling place and "throne" between the cherubim in that Holy of Holies (see Psalm 99:1; 80:1, etc.). Even so do we see the New Jerusalem and within: the Ark (Jesus, the Lamb), the Glory, and the Throne of God (Rev. 21:22-23; 22:1, 3). The Day of Atonement was the one day of the year that the children of Israel were commanded to "afflict their souls" with fasting, repentance and humility as the High Priest prepared to enter the Holy of Holies with his pure white linen garments on (Lev. 16:29-34). So the day itself speaks to us of cleansing, purifying and preparation. Even so, must there be that inner cleansing, purifying and preparation in every one of the overcomers who is to enter the heavenly New Jerusalem. Also, we must be clothed, as was the High Priest, with the "linen of righteousness." This is confirmed by Rev. 19:8. Read my article on "Preparation for the Lord's Coming " to see the difference between the imputed righteousness of Christ whereby we are accepted IN Christ, and the imparted righteousness of Christ which prepares us to be presented TO Christ. The latter is the "linen garment."
[The Coming Two Manifest Kingdom Realms]
At this point I believe I must further digress to clarify some other matters. This is beyond what I had originally intended for this article, but I trust it will help you to get a more complete picture. Very few Christians realize that the coming Kingdom to be established when Jesus comes is to have TWO manifestations—the upper and the lower; or the heavenly and the earthly. This is pictured in Zech. 14:4 by the fact that when Jesus' feet touch the Mount of Olives (a type of the Kingdom of God), that mountain is split in TWO. It is also pictured by the TWIN sons of Rebekah, the wife of Isaac, (Isaac being a type of Christ) who were Esau and Jacob. This will be amplified later. The truth of the two is also given to us in type by the TWO parts of the Tabernacle proper, and the TWO parts of the promised land of Canaan. I have chosen to illustrate these latter two types by a drawing on the next page. The Jordan River separated the two parts of the Promised Land, and a Veil separated the two compartments of the Tabernacle. I have superimposed the drawing of the Tabernacle onto that of the Promised Land, with the Jordan River flowing through where the Veil was in the Tabernacle, showing that the two correspond in type. The Holy of Holies is in the west part of Canaan, and the Holy Place in the east side. Thus the west portrays the Heavenly Kingdom and the east the Earthly Kingdom. For the purpose of illustration I have listed the three tribes which had their inheritance on the east side, but only the two birth-right tribes on the west side.
[The "Veil" Between the Two Realms]
To better understand the two Kingdoms, I will now make some brief explanations of the typical significance of the separating Veil and the Jordan River. First the Veil. According to Heb. 10:20, the Veil corresponds to Jesus' flesh (body). When Jesus died on the cross, the Veil in the temple was "rent in twain" (Mt. 27:51). The shedding of His blood as the perfect sacrifice, when His flesh was torn, provided the legal ground for access into the Holy of Holies. By faith, any Christian can go directly to God, "by the blood of Jesus" (Heb. 10:19). However, this is just the beginning. Those who factually enter the "Holiest" where the presence and throne of God are, and also "reign" with Christ in the New Jerusalem, must follow the same pattern that Jesus set. According to Heb. 6:19-20, Jesus entered "within the veil" as a "forerunner." This means one who goes ahead as an example and pattern, and as one who prepares the way.
It must be kept in mind that Jesus entered "within the veil" as a glorified MAN, in a glorified physical body. He is the "pattern Son" for all who would follow Him into that same glory. Heb. 2:10 declares that He purposes to bring "many sons to glory." The Hebrew word for "son" here is huios, which means one who has reached a measure of maturity, not spiritual babes and children (which are designated by other Greek words). We must be willing to grow spiritually (see Heb. 6:1) as He did; not in the sense of the absolute perfection which He manifested, for He was the Divine Son of God as well as being a human: but after the example that He set as the pattern son. We must be willing to "overcome" as He overcame (Rev 3.21). If we are going to "follow Him" INTO the Heavenly glory, receiving a glorified body like His, then we must fulfil the conditions He set down in Luke 14:25-33; Mt. 10:37-38; otherwise, He said that we are not worthy of Him (to dwell in His immediate presence). Paul understood this and that’s why he declared in Phil. 3:8, 14: "I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them as dung, that I may WIN Christ. . . I press toward the mark for the PRIZE of the high (heavenly) calling of God in Christ Jesus."
[The Gift and the Prize]
There are numerous scriptures which show that after we are saved we enter a "race" for the "prize" which is the "CROWN of Life" (for example see I Cor. 9:24-27; Heb. 12:1; James 1:12; Rev 2:10) I will not elaborate further on this now, but I wrote an article on this a number of years ago which appeared in one of my earlier booklets. I may enlarge on that article and send it out to the mailing list. But in brief summary, let me say here that the GIFT of eternal life (Rom. 6:23) is simply the lifting of the death penalty and the restoration of what Adam lost in the garden of Eden when he sinned. Adam was on earth, not in heaven, when he sinned and forfeited deathless life. Jesus declares in Matthew 22:14 that "many are called (to gain the heavenly prize), but few are chosen." The Greek word translated "chosen" in this passage is also translated "elect" and "election" in other passages in the New Testament. "Election" has nothing to do with salvation for in salvation it is "whosoever will may come" (Rev. 22:17). Election has to do with God's purpose to "raise up" an overcoming company out of the earthly into the heavenly, to function in glorified bodies like to Jesus' glorified body. Peter tells us that we must "give diligence to make our calling and election sure" (II Pet. 1:10). Revelation 17:14 states that those who are WITH Jesus are the "called, and chosen (elect), and faithful." [Ed. Note—please see my comment regarding Brother Earls’ view of election in A New and Living Way .]
Whenever Paul uses such expressions as "we" and "our," the casual reader thinks that he is referring to all Christians. For example, take Paul's words in Philippians 3:20-21: "For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like to His glorious body...."
If you want to know who Paul is talking about in these verses, then read carefully the entire chapter of Philippians 3. Notice the conditions Paul lays down. This promise of having "our" bodies changed into the likeness of His glorious body is clearly for those who are "pressing toward the mark for the PRIZE of the High (heavenly) calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:14). Those who fall short of this "calling" will simply be resurrected back to this earth, to live in deathless physical bodies for at least a thousand years. Sometime after the Millennium they will have the opportunity to have their bodies translated and glorified. But to the "overcomer," the Lord makes this promise in Revelation 3:12: "Him that overcomes will I make a pillar in the Temple of My God, and he shall go no more out." That last expression, "go no more out," simply means that the overcomer does not have to come back to the earth to live any more. For such, the earth schooling is finished.
Those who must come back and inherit the earthly Kingdom are typified by the priests who ministered in the Holy Place. Take a look at the diagram [above] and note that the Holy Place corresponds to the east side of Jordan. I cannot take time here to describe their ministry in the Holy Place, but let me point out that only those born into the family of Aaron could minister as priests. Thus, the priests picture, by type, the "born-again" Christians who have come into the family of God through the new birth (Jn. 3:3), and are priests to God (I Pet. 2:9). But the priests of the Holy Place were never permitted to go "beyond the veil" - that prerogative was for the High Priest alone. This shows us again that just being "born again" (saved) does not in itself qualify one for the Heavenly Kingdom beyond the veil. Before this article is finished, I want to once again focus attention on the High Priest as a type of the "overcomers" who shall inherit the upper or Heavenly Kingdom, and add some further insights which I believe will be helpful.
[The Jordan River as Dividing Veil]
Now let's take a look at the Jordan River and its symbolism. You will notice on the diagram that the Jordan River corresponds to the separating veil in the Tabernacle. The Jordan River separated the 2 sections of the Promised Land. The word "Jordan" means 'descender', and is a type of death. When Jesus was ready to begin His ministry, He demonstrated (by symbolism) His willingness and purpose to go to death on the Cross by being immersed in the Jordan River. He declared His intent at that time to "fulfill all righteousness"—that is, He would fulfill all the righteous demands of the Law of God, including the taking on Himself the penalty of that broken Law by a vicarious death for all mankind (Matt. 3:13-15).
Turn to the Book of Joshua and notice how this was portrayed by type when the Israelites were preparing to cross the Jordan River. Read Joshua 3:11-17. The priests carrying the ARK went first. The ARK is a type of Christ. The priests carrying the Ark had to actually walk INTO the waters of Jordan. This is a type of Christ, Who "walked" purposely INTO death for us. But note, when the feet of the priests rested IN the waters, the waters of Jordan were CUT OFF (3:13, 15-16). This pictures the truth that when Jesus died on the Cross as our substitute, the "great descender" (death) was "cut off" or abolished (II Tim. 1:10). The Israelites were then able to cross Jordan on dry ground (Josh. 3:17). Crossing Jordan on "dry ground" symbolizes those who will have their bodies translated and glorified without the experience of death. ."..Changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye," as Paul states in I Corinthians 15:51-52. Thus we can see that this crossing Jordan INTO Canaan's west side is, by type, the same as going BEYOND THE VEIL into the Holy of Holies.
Those "overcomers" who have died down through this age, however, obviously cannot be translated without experiencing death. Their entrance into the Heavenly Kingdom will come through resurrection. Actually, to them it will be a resurrection PLUS, for their bodies will be glorified. The Greek word anastasis simply means a "re-standing (or standing up again)" on this earth, and of itself does not necessarily imply a glorified body; for we know that many will be resurrected back to this earth to live in deathless physical bodies. But just as Jesus' body was both resurrected and glorified, so will be the lot of the "overcomers" who have died down through this age.
This truth is typified in Joshua chapter 4, where we read that Joshua commanded the Israelites to take 12 stones out of the Jordan to set up as a memorial on the west bank, and also to take 12 other stones and place them in the Jordan in the place where the feet of the priests had stood. Here we have a picture of death and resurrection. The stones placed in the bed of Jordan would be covered by the waters when they were released, speaking to us of the "living stones" (saints) who have died. But the stones taken OUT OF Jordan and placed as a memorial on the west bank speak to us of those same saints who will be resurrected and glorified to enter the Heavenly Kingdom when Jesus returns to set up His Kingdom. Joshua 4:7 states that the stones taken out of Jordan were to be a perpetual memorial to the children of Israel that "the waters of Jordan were cut off before the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord when it passed over Jordan." Yes, beloved, when the resurrection takes place, what a "living memorial" it will be to the fact that the "waters of Jordan" (death) were truly "cut off" when our ARK (Jesus) died on the Cross. The waters of Jordan being "cut off," that a WAY into the West of Canaan might be opened, corresponds exactly to the Veil in the Temple being "rent" that a WAY into the Holy of Holies might be opened.
[Distinguishing the Realms of Heaven]
One might ask the question: "But are not the saved who have died now in heaven?" Yes, but that "heaven" is far from being in the very Presence of God "beyond the veil;" neither is it the full-fledged Kingdom of Christ which is yet to come. To come into the very Presence of the great KING, and even to live in His Presence in the coming New Jerusalem, we must be properly dressed. This requires that "vestment" we have referred to as the glorified body; it is the "wedding garment" referred to in Matthew 22:11. Those now in that "heaven," which the New Testament refers to as Paradise, are functioning in the "underwear" of their soul-bodies, having lost the outer vestment or garment of the physical body through death. They are waiting for the completion of their redemption, even the restoration (resurrection) to them of their outer garment—the physical body (Rom. 3:23; Eph. 1:14). But Paul reminds us in I Corinthians 15:40-41 that there are different kinds of bodies: some celestial (heavenly) and some terrestrial (earthly); so will be the resurrection. According to Revelation 6:9, those in Paradise are "under the altar" (the sheltering of the blood of Jesus).
According to the pattern given by God to Moses, the Altar of Sacrifice was in the Outer Court—not in the Holy Place or Holy of Holies. Not until Revelation 15:5 is the Temple where God dwells opened, and in 15:2 we see glorified saints ready to enter; whereas 15:8 says that they cannot enter until the vials of wrath are poured out on the earth. By that time the Tribulation will be virtually over, and the great Harvest company taken before the vials of wrath are poured out, as well as the Firstfruits taken before the Tribulation, will be "attired" in their glorified vestments (bodies), ready to enter on the very Day of Atonement, which will be on the 10th day of the 7th month (Tishri) of the Hebrew calendar (in the Fall of our year).
One more thought concerning those in Paradise. The word "Paradise" is a Persian word meaning "garden," and it referred to the outer garden realms outside the Palace of the King, and outside the inner courtyard around the palace. This is in harmony with the Revelation 6:9 passage where the saints are seen "under the altar" in outer court. Paradise is actually the soul’s counterpart to the earthly "garden" (paradise) lost by Adam and Eve on earth. Most in paradise will actually be resurrected back to long enjoy the "paradise" conditions on this earth when the Kingdom is established at Christ's return and shortly thereafter.
[Old Testament Saints Promised the Earthly Kingdom]
This brings me to a related matter that I may as well touch on while I am on the subject. Heb, 9:7-8 relates a truth concerning the Tabernacle of Moses and pattern—rites which I want to comment on: "But into the second (Holy of Holies) went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people; the Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest (Holy of Holies) of all was not made manifest, while the first tabernacle was yet standing." This scripture boldly declares to us that to the Old Testament saints under the Mosaic Law, the way into the Heavenly Kingdom was NOT OPEN to them. The High Priest merely acted out what WOULD be made available in the future. In other words, there was no promise made to the O.T. saints that they would be in the Heavenly Kingdom. They were taught and expected to be resurrected back to this earth to once again inherit the LAND promised to them. This is too vast a subject to go into detail here. Heb. 11:8 tells us that Abraham obeyed God and went to a land that he "should after receive for an inheritance." Yet, he, and Isaac and Jacob after him, were merely sojourners and strangers in that land, having died before the land became theirs as a possession (Heb. 11:13). Rom. 4:13 says that Abraham received a promise that he should be "the heir of the world." Lk. 13:29 says that "many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of God." The verse also mentions "north" and "south" which I omitted, but all of these directions speak of earth conditions. Because Abraham was a "friend of God" and because of his great faith, I do believe that God gave him a glimpse of what he would inherit even beyond his restoration to the promised land in the earthly Kingdom (Heb. 11:16), but it is a matter of God’s timing. After they enjoy the inheritance God promised them for a thousand years or more, THEN they will have their bodies glorified and enter the celestial city. If this perspective is true, then Mt. 11:11 can be easily understood: "Verily I say to you, among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." Having died before Jesus opened up a "new and living way" (Heb. 10:20) on the cross, John the Baptist must be resurrected back to this earth. Yet the least, functioning in a glorified body in the heavenly Kingdom, will obviously be greater than John who will be functioning on this earth in a deathless physical body.
[Summarizing the Coming Two Manifest Kingdom Realms]
When we understand the truth of both the Heavenly and earthly Kingdoms, then all Scriptures become plain, intelligible and harmonious, each contributing in the declaration of God's truth, love and righteousness. We have no right to pick Scripture here and there—whatever appeals to the soul, and affirm that THAT applies to us (or self) unless there is proper justification for doing so. We need to "rightly divide" (II Tim. 2:15) the Word of truth, knowing who is speaking and to whom, what promises are given and for what purpose, and in what dispensation. For example, the Scriptures declare that during the coming Millennium, Jesus will be absolute King over the earth, having destroyed all rebellion and opposition. But many have assumed that Jesus will be sitting on some literal throne in the literal city of Jerusalem. But Rev. 22:3 clearly states that the Throne of the Lamb will be in the Heavenly city, the New Jerusalem, which will come down and be stationed somewhere in our upper atmosphere. Moreover, Jesus says in John 1:51 that at THAT time, "you shall see heaven open, and the angels (messengers) of God ascending and descending on the Son of man." The Greek word "angel" simply means "messenger" and is applied to humans in Scripture as well as the heavenly angels. The messengers of that day will be the glorified saints who will be ruling with Christ. The very fact that Jesus says they will be "ascending" as well as "descending," affirms clearly that Jesus will be stationed above some where—and that will be the heavenly Jerusalem, from which the glorified saints will ‘commute" to carry out duties on this earth. The Scriptures declare that David will be resurrected to rule the earthly Kingdom from Jerusalem (Jer. 30:9, Ezek. 34:23-24; 37:24-25). The two kingdoms are seen in Isa. 2:3: "for out of Zion (the Heavenly Kingdom—Heb. 12:22; Rev. 14:1) shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem (the earthly Kingdom—Zech. 14:16). Just how the two Kingdoms will function, and eventually become ONE, will have to be left to another study.
[The Significance of the Pearl]
We have seen some of the spiritual and symbolic significance of the sixth Church of Asia, and the sixth Feast of the Lord. Now I want to turn to the sixth parable of Mt. 13, and amplify on the PEARL of great price. Pearls come from little creatures of the ocean called oysters. We have already mentioned that the pearl is a beautiful type of the "overcomer." The oyster is certainly not a beautiful creature on the outside, yet God has ordained a spiritual lesson for us in that on the inside of the oyster, through processes that He has ordained, something BEAUTIFUL can be formed. A pearl is actually a right response, a healing response, to an irritation. Something that HURTS. In human terms we could call it a trial, a difficult situation; something that must be OVERCOME through the GRACE of God. The pearl oyster, usually when seeking for food (symbolic of those Christians who are hungry to go on with the Lord), finds that some kind of foreign substance—perhaps a grain of sand or something else, has lodged inside of it. Because of the irritation and hurt, a juice or fluid is exuded by the oyster to "coat" the foreign substance. This provides some temporary relief. But when moving around again, there may be renewed pain. Thus, another layer of coating is added. This process continues over a period of time, each layer being added, and hardening into a spherical form, and providing man with one of the most beautiful "jewels," when the oyster is caught and the pearl removed.
The genuine pearl is the only gem that comes from the sea and the only one made by a living process. The "sea" (water) is a type of the human soul, and the "living process" involved in making a pearl is a type of the living, dynamic, WORK of the GRACE of God in our inner being by the SPIRIT of our God, producing the beautiful character qualities that will enable us to have enough of an affinity with the nature of Christ to be qualified to DWELL in His immediate presence in the New Jerusalem. Remember that each gate of that city is a PEARL, and we cannot be admitted to that city unless God has produced something in our lives that is akin to the beauty of a pearl. Although pearls can be found anywhere in the world, even in waters that are somewhat shallow, the best quality pearls are found in the depths of the sea, speaking to us of a deep work of God in us. Ps. 107:23-24 says: "They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; these see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep." Surely a pearl is one of "His wonders in the deep." And as God does a deeper work in us, then truly "deep calls to deep at the noise of the waterspouts." (Ps. 42:7). The appealing iridescence and the luster for which pearls are prized are due primarily to the reflection and refraction of light on the surface of the translucent gem. Ah, beloved, the light of the New Jerusalem is the GLORY of God (Rev. 21:23). Can we be ready for that city unless when that glory shines on us there is a reflection and refraction of HIS OWN beauty and image developed within us?
A pearl cannot be produced without a certain amount of suffering in the oyster. Heb. 2:10 says that Jesus was made "perfect through sufferings," The Greek word used here is pathema, meaning "something undergone, i.e. hardship or pain." Another Greek word is used in Heb. 5:8 where we read that Jesus "learned obedience by the things which he suffered." The word in this passage is pascho, which means "to experience a sensation or impression." Thus it was ALL the experiences that Jesus went through which prepared or "perfected" Him for His role or ministry as KING-PRIEST in the Kingdom of God. And remember, Jesus is not only our Savior, but also the pattern-Son for all the sons who are to be brought to His same glory and share in His King-Priest ministry and rule. We are being prepared for future roles of responsibility. And the experiences of life correspond to the "irritants" that "invade" the oyster. How we respond to them is important. If we let the Spirit of God to "exude" Divine grace within us, even as the oyster exudes a living substance to form a pearl, then our right and grateful response to every experience can be used of God to form the pearl-like beauty of His nature and character in us. Pearls may be rose, cream, white, bronze, brown, or pastel shades of lavender, blue, green, etc., depicting the various "hues" of the Lord's work in us by His Spirit. It is not the "irritants" (experiences) themselves that make us overcomers, but rather our drawing on His grace—His Divine life substance, that builds layer on layer of pearl-like beauty in us.
We have seen in this study that the sixth parable, the sixth feast, and the sixth church all emphasize the same message: God is preparing a BODY of overcomers who shall, at the appointed time, go "beyond the veil" into the Heavenly Kingdom and Glory, having bodies like to Christ, that they might "reign" with Him In the New Jerusalem. Throughout the New Testament, this "Hope" is set before Christians and the requirements for its attainment. For example, John tells us in I John 3:2-3 that "every man that hath this hope in him purifies himself, even as He (Christ) is pure." Heb. 6:18-20 speaks of this hope and says: "which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters into that within the veil." There are numerous passages in the book of Hebrews that declare the necessity of being "anchored" to Christ in steadfastness and faithfulness if we hope to be part of His Heavenly Household (Heb. 3:6 for just one example). As a matter of fact, almost the entire book of Hebrews is a dissertation on the "Heavenly Calling" (Heb. 3:1), and the warnings of "coming short" of it. Not understanding this, Bible students have usually applied these warnings to the losing of salvation, but that is not the matter under consideration, After giving all of his arguments, illustrations and warnings, the Writer of Hebrews comes to a climax in Heb, 12:1: "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience (steadfastness) the race that is set before us." You don't "run" to obtain salvation, but rather for the "prize" and "crown" (Phil. 3:14; I Cor. 9:4-25).
Notice the warning in Rev. 3:11, which was written to the sixth church (Philadelphia). "Behold I come quickly: hold that fast which you have, that no man TAKE YOUR CROWN." No man can take our salvation from us, but if we fail to give diligence to make our calling and election sure (II Pet. 1:10), then someone else will be chosen to take our place in the "elect BODY" which shall be "raised up" to Christ's own glory to "rule" (crowned) with Him. Speaking of the "crown," I want to call your attention to a scripture in Lev. 21:12 regarding the High Priest, We have already seen that the High Priest is a TYPE of the overcomers who shall go beyond the veil. "Neither shall he go out of the sanctuary, nor profane the sanctuary of his God; for the CROWN of the anointing oil of his God is on him." Only the High Priest had the anointing oil poured on the crown of his head. The other priests had the oil sprinkled on them (see Lev. 8:12 & 8:30). We know that oil is a type of the Holy Spirit, and in the New Testament the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is pictured as being "poured out" on a person (Acts 2:17-18; 10:45, 19:6). On the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came on the 120, tongues like as of fire sat on each of them (presumably on their heads); and thus we might say "crowning" them, as they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit (oil) and fire (Mt. 3:11). The anointing "oil" of the Spirit is to give power for ministry (Lk. 4:18; Acts 10:38), and the "fire" of the Spirit is for inner purging (Mal. 3:2-3), that we might be "sanctified" (separated) from our carnality, making us "fit" for His presence (see Mt. 5:8; Heb. 12:14). Because Jesus was without sin, He did not need to be purged of any carnality, but as the pattern Son, He was CROWNED with the anointing of the Holy Spirit (Mt. 3:16; Heb. 2:9). And so must we be likewise "crowned" if we hope to be a part of His King-Priest ministry in the coming Kingdom.
[Purified Garments Vs. Nakedness]
Note the promise in Rev. 3:4: "You have a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white; for they are worthy." Ah, beloved, this is [the] essence of that Pearl of great price for which Jesus is seeking: those who shall "walk with Him in white" in intimate association with Him, in celestial realms of glory, as His heavenly Bride and Household. But notice the stated pre-condition: "which have not defiled their garments." The "garments" referred to here are the inner soul garments. As pointed out in the previous paragraph, the soul must be purged and purified of its innate carnality (I Pet. 1:22, Titus 2:14); [that] those garments not be "defiled;" that is, not gotten dirty or soiled. The apostle James says that "pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is. . . to keep himself unspotted from the world." A certain amount of "surface dirt" is picked up every day as we carry out our duties in work or business, but this can be removed as we come to Jesus and ask Him to "wash our feet" (our daily walk). See John 13:1-10. Also, because of the frailties and imperfections of the human nature, there can be many momentary failures, "stumblings" and even occasionally what could be considered a "sin;" but for these there is God's promise that where there is an humble and repentant heart with confession, His blood cleanses us from all unrighteousness (I John 1:8-9). But there can be no serious defaulting or compromise with the godliness and "filth" of this world, for such defilement with the dirt and grime of this world could disqualify the one previously purified. This is why Paul says in I Cor. 9:27: "I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others I myself should be disqualified" (for the heavenly prize and calling).
Referring again to the scripture with which I began the last paragraph, notice that Jesus says, "You have a FEW names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments" (Rev. 3:4). Out of all the Christians in the church at Sardis only a "few" would qualify to "walk with Jesus in white." This scripture alone should make us realize that not all Christians will qualify for this high calling. Of the church at Sardis Jesus said: "you have a name that you live, and are dead." Are there not many churches which fall into that category today? Although I believe that the seven churches of Asia depict the progressive stages of church history down through this age, I also believe that ALL together (for "7" is the number of completeness) these churches picture the entire "spectrum" of the church world in this end time. All the characteristics of the church world today, both good and bad, are depicted in these seven churches. The same deviations and corruptions for which Jesus rebuked some of the churches severely, are still present in some churches today. And thankfully, the excellent characteristics for which some of the churches were commended by Jesus, are also in evidence today among some Christians. As we read the seven letters, we note that there are "overcomers" out of all of the churches. But we have already seen that in Sardis only a "few" would be found to be "worthy" (fit, suitable, deserving) of the Overcomer’s Calling.
The Philadelphia church, on the other hand, was highly commended for its faithfulness, and thus very likely the bulk of those that God sees as being in this church category would be classed as "overcomers." This is why this sixth church parallels the sixth parable on the Pearl of great price, for as we have seen, the making of a pearl is a type of the overcoming life. A very special promise is made to this church: "Because you have kept the word of my patience (perseverance or steadfastness), I also will keep you from the hour of temptation (testing), which shall come on all the world, to try them that dwell on the earth." (Rev. 3:10). This "hour of testing" is a reference to the great tribulation that is coming. A "firstfruits company" of overcomers will be "kept" from this time of tribulation by being translated and glorified before that time of tribulation. To others of this church it no doubt means an absolute protection through that tribulation, and also the promise of being used mightily in the power of the Spirit at that time. This is implied in another special promise given to this church: "Behold, I have set before you an open door, and no man can shut it: for you have kept my word, and have not denied my name." Those in this church can be "kept" from the time of testing, because they have already proven faithful ahead of time through God's dealings and testings in their lives; they have sought to live the "overcoming life" in truth and holiness and righteousness. Thus the sixth church (Philadelphia) and the sixth parable (Pearl of great price) and the sixth Feast (Day of Atonement—cleansing and purifying through the High Priest's ministry) PREPARE for the seventh church (Laodicea—see comments below), the seventh parable (the "net" cast into the "sea of humanity" for a great "net" of souls), and the seventh Feast (Tabernacles—the final "ingathering" before Jesus comes to "tabernacle" with man).
Among other things, Jesus characterizes the Laodicean church as being "naked" (Rev. 3:17). In the scriptures the term "naked" is used symbolically to mean the "exposure" of one's true condition; to be "discovered" or "made manifest." Just what is God going to do to expose the "nakedness" of the Laodicean church? I believe the key is found in Rev. 16:15: "Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame." When Jesus comes as a "thief" He "takes" (by translation) the 144,000 Firstfruits. They will simply be found "missing." This Sudden, SHOCKING event and its aftermath, will expose the true spiritual condition of every remaining Christian. Certainly there will be many consecrated Christians left behind (for God's purpose) who will have been "keeping their garments" (from defilement); and in the verse quoted above, Jesus says "'blessed are they," for they will not need to be ashamed. But to those "caught naked" (unprepared) it will be a time of great shame. There will be a remedy, however, for those willing to be quickly diligent. It is found in a scripture which I have already dealt with, but which I will quote again to emphasize certain words. "I counsel you to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich; and white raiment, that you may be clothed, and that the shame of your nakedness does not appear; and anoint your eyes with eyesalve, that you may see." (Rev. 3:18). The word "appear" in that verse means to be "made manifest or publicly exposed." The only way the "lukewarm" shall be able to mitigate such open shame will be to "buy" quickly (with the whole intensity of their being) what is needed from the Lord.
[Conclusion: The High Priestly Elements]
I will now deal with just one more thing in concluding this article. We have already seen that the High Priest entering "beyond the veil" on the Day of Atonement is a type of that "elect BODY" which will enter the New Jerusalem to reign with Christ, for the New Jerusalem will be the "Holy of Holies" of the coming Kingdom. What was required of the High Priest that day also typifies the qualifications necessary. We have already seen that the High Priest entered with (1) the blood of sacrifice; (2) the "crown" of the Holy Anointing Oil on his head; (3) the linen clothes made especially for that occasion; but there is one more that I did not mention before, namely (4) the incense (Lev. 16:12). Sweet incense burnt before the Lord speaks symbolically of the thought-emotions that arise from our hearts in communion, gratitude, adoration, love and worship to our wonderful Lord. It speaks of an intimacy of fellowship whereby you KNOW the Lord in increasing daily experience, and your heart "bubbles over" in sweet fellowship with Him. On two occasions Jesus spoke to certain ones that He did not "know" them (Mt. 7:22-23; 25:11-12), yet it is quite obvious they were believers in Him.* They were either too spiritually lazy or too busy doing works for Him to take the time to get to "Know Him" in a personal way. Years after he had received Christ as his Savior, the apostle Paul's heart-cry was "that I might KNOW Him" (Phil. 3:10). If we hope to dwell with Jesus in the coming Kingdom, we must seek to increasingly "know" Him now.
[*Ed. Note: Brother Earls’ interpretation of Mt. 7:22-23 is keyed to his understanding of the phrase "kingdom of heaven" as a destination of higher calling, not one of salvation, and makes perfect sense in that framework. Nevertheless, the strength of language used of these "lawless" ones prevents me from accepting that interpretation here. Wherever else the New Testament refers to those who "work lawlessness" it is in context of salvation and judgment, not of higher calling and lost reward. While there are different levels of being "known" of the Lord, the fundamental knowing of the Lord associated with eternal life (Jn. 17:3) allows no room for fruit characterized by the "practicing of lawlessness"(Jn. 15:6; I Jn. 2:4; 3:9) That the Lord "never knew" these workers strongly intimates He didn’t know them at any level. ]
Finally, read carefully Rev. 21:12, 21, and notice that not only was each gate a pearl, but that on the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. Thus there was a name on each pearl. This is most significant, and in the next article I send out, I am going to show the meaning of these names and how they relate to the path of the overcoming life. I hope you will be looking forward to the next exciting episode.
[Ed. Note: I have elected not to post Brother Earls' extensive article series called "Names of Tribes on Gates of Pearl." However this is available in hard copy from the Shepherdsfield ministry.]
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