With Golden Band Girded
“He was girded about the chest with a golden band.”
BE assured, my Brothers and Sisters, the more real Jesus Christ is to us, the more power there will be in our religion. Those men whose religion lies in believing certain doctrines and contending for certain modes of expression, may be strong enough in bigotry, but they often fail entirely in developing the spirit of true Christianity. There may be minds so constituted that they can live under the power of an idea and they might possibly be able to die for it. But these, I think, must be comparatively few. To draw out enthusiasm among men, there must generally be a man as leader and commander in whom the people can implicitly trust, to whom they will voluntarily tender obedience. Individual men have workedwonders. The thoughts which they incarnated may have been, in themselves, strong, yet their strength was never so forcible as when the men who represented those thoughts were present to give them currency. Then the blood of the many was stirred and every man’s heart beat high. The presence of Oliver Cromwell in a regiment was equal to any ten thousand men. He had only to appear and all his soldiers felt so sure of victory, they would dash upon the cavaliers as some mighty tornado, driving them like chaff before the wind! The presence of Napoleon at any moment in a battle was almost always sufficient to turn the scale. Let but “the little corporal” appear and wave his sword, and men seemed to lose all sense of their own personal danger and rushed into the very mouth of death to gain the victory! In those old days of the Huguenots when they were warring for their liberties, what shouts there were, what beating of hearts, what a glamour of trumpets, what exultation, when Henry of Navarre came riding down the ranks! Then each man felt he had a giant’s arm and, as he rode to battle, struck home for God and for the truth as he gave out his watchword, “Remember St. Bartholomew!”
Now the force of the religion of Jesus, under God the Holy Spirit, it seems to me, is never fully brought out except when our faith greets the Lord Jesus Christ as a Person and holds to Him as a personal Leader and Commander, loving Him and devoting ourselves to Him as an ever-living, ever-gracious Friend. It is not by believing a set of ideas and trying to be enthusiastic over them, that our courage rises or our prowess succeeds. Rather let us feel His Presence, though wecannot see His face, and remembering that there is such an One as Jesus of Nazareth, who became a Baby in Bethlehem for us–who lived, and toiled, and suffered for us–then laid bare His chest to the spear and gave up His life for us. We grow strong when we thus think of Him as our Savior, when His thorn-crowned head rises before our mind’s eye, when we look into that face so marred with shame, and pain, and cruelty, till we are compelled to cry out, “Oh, my Savior, I love You, and for the love I bear Your name would gladly learn what I can do to honor You, and I will do it! Point out to me how much of my substance I should place upon Your altar, and I will be glad to place it there! Put me into the place of suffering, if necessary, and I will account it a place of honor, for if You are there, I can look into Your dear face and think that I am suffering for You–fire shall be then like a bed of roses to me–and death, itself, seem far sweeter than life!”
We need to have more open testimony concerning the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ! I am persuaded of that and we have need, private Christians, to live more in fellowship with Him, the Son of God, the Man, Christ Jesus, who has redeemed us from wrath, and through whose life we live! To Him now–to Him exclusively let all your thoughts be turned. Oh, that you may discern the Image which stood on that Lord’s Day clearly before the view of John, the eyes of your understanding being opened, and your whole soul being attentive to the Revelation! It is but one part of John’s description of our Lord Jesus Christ in Heaven to which I propose to direct your attention. “He was girded about the chest with a golden band.” What did this golden band signify? And what are the golden lessons to be gathered from it?
- THE GOLDEN BAND.
What did it mean? It was designed, first, to set forth our Lord’s excellence in all His offices. He is a Prophet. TheProphets of old were often girded about with leather bands, but our Savior wears a golden band, for He, above all other Prophets, is vested with authority! What He declares and testifies is true. Yes, it is the pure Truth of God, unalloyed with tradition or superstition. He makes no mistakes. There is no treachery to taint His teaching. Sitting at His feet, you may accept every word He utters as Infallible. You need not raise a question about it. The band of golden truth is round about Him. He is also a Priest. The high priest of old wore a band of many colors for glory and for beauty. Our Lord Jesus Christ wears a band superior to this. It is of the pure gold, for among the priests He has no peer. Of all the sons of Aaron, none could vie with Him. They must first offer a sacrifice for their own sins. They needed to wash their feet in the laver, and to be touched with the cleansing blood. But Jesus Christ is without spot, or blemish, or any such thing–
“Their priesthood ran through several bands
For mortal was their race.”
But Jesus is Immortal and about Him, He wears the golden band to show that He excels all the priests of Aaron’s line. As for those persons who, in modern times, pretend to be priests, our Lord Jesus Christ is not to be mentioned in the same day with them. They are all deceivers! If they knew the Truth of God, they would understand that there is no class of priests now. All caste of priesthood is forever abolished! Every man that fears God, and every woman, too, is a priest according to the Word of God which is written, “He has made us kings and priests unto God.” The priesthood is common to all the saints–not confined to some! But He wears a golden band among them. Their priesthood would be nothing without His. He has made them priests. They derive their priesthood entirely from Him, neither could they be acceptable before God if they were not accepted in the Beloved. He is a King as well as a Prophet and a Priest, and that band, being made of gold, signifies His supremacy over all other kings! He is mightier far than they–“the Lord mighty in battle.” “King of Kings” is His name, and the burden of the music of Heaven is this, “King of kings, and Lord of lords.” The day shall come when He shall grasp His scepter and break the kingdoms of earth like a potters' vessels with His rod of iron! He is this day King of the Jews, but He shall openly be so proclaimed. In that day kings shall bow down before Him and He shall gather up sheaves of scepters, while many crowns shall be upon His glorious brow! There is no kingdom like the Kingdom of Christ. Other kingdoms come and go like the hoar-frost of the morning, or the sheen upon the midnight waves, but His Kingdom stands forever and ever! It shall endure from everlasting to everlasting! As Prophet, Priest and King, He wears a band of gold to show His supremacy in office above all others!
The golden band, moreover, bears witness to His power and authority. Men were often girded with bands when they received office. The Prophet Isaiah said of Eliakim that he received a band of power and dominion. Keys were hung upon the band. The housewife’s band with her keys signified her authority over her servants. The keys at the band of great men signified their power in their various offices, and when we sometimes sing–
“Lo, in His hand the sovereign keys
Of Heaven, and death, and Hell,”
we recognize this meaning of Christ’s golden band, that all power given unto Him in Heaven and in earth. He is the universal Lord. Up in Heaven He enjoys an authority that is undisputed. Angels bow before Him–and on the sea of glass they cast down their crowns and cry, “Hallelujah!” Here on earth all Providence is ruled by the Man whose hands were pierced. All this dispensation is an economy of mediatorial government, over which Jesus Christ presides. He puts down one and sets up another. He makes the wheels of Providence revolve. Everything occurs according to His decree and purpose. In all things He rules and He overrules them for the good of His Church, even as Joseph governed Egypt for the good of the seed of Abraham! What a comfort it is, Beloved, for us to think of the authority and the power of our Lord Jesus Christ! He who had not where to lay His head. He who was despised and rejected of men. He who was a working Man–the carpenter’s Son. He who felt the pangs of hunger, endured the pains of weariness, was neglected, condemned, opposed and cast out by His countrymen and His kinsmen–it is He who is now undisputed Master and unrivalled Lord everywhere! No name is as famous as that one once branded with infamy–the name of Jesus–whom sinful men rejected, to that golden band! See how He descended, step by step, into the meanest depths of humiliation. Then mark how He ascended with rapid flight to the towering heights of exaltation! Follow Him. With Him take your lot. Be willing to be made of no repute in this day of reproach that you may be a partaker of His Glory in the day of His appearing!
Girded thus about with a golden band, we have a vivid representation of His activity. The band was used by the Easterns to bind up their long flowing robes. The Hebrew did not usually wear a band indoors. It was only when on a journey, or when engaged in some manual labor that he thus adjusted his attire. So our Lord’s having a golden band signifies that He is still ready to serve His servants, to engage on their behalf. You remember how He once took a towel and girded Himself. That was with kind intent to wash their feet. Now it is no more with a linen towel, but with a band of gold that He prepares Himself to work on the behalf of His beloved! He stands not in Heaven with flowing garments, as though all work were done, but He stands there girded about the chest that He may be still ready and show Himself strong on behalf of His people. Be this your comfort–Jesus has not forgotten to plead for you before His Father’s Throne. He never holds His peace, and never will. As long as you have a cause to plead, Christ will be your intercessor! Whatever you need, He is waiting to supply. As long as you have a sin to confess, Christ will be your Advocate with the Father to purge your guilt and purify your souls. As long as you are persecuted on earth, there will be a Christ to represent you in Heaven. As long as you are in this vale of tears, He, girded with a golden band, will be the Angel of God’s Presence to succor and to save you! In all your afflictions He was afflicted, and He will still bear and carry you as in the days of old.
Oh, my Brothers and Sisters, how people do sometimes talk about the Christian Church, as if Jesus Christ, who died for us, were still dead! What gloomy forebodings I have read during the last few months! Not that I have believed a word, or taken dreams for disasters. I have not even credited their sadness with too much sincerity! I rather thought they wrote for a party purpose, with motives of policy. Were we to believe half we read, Protestantism, in a few years, would become no more! We might have the Pope preaching in St. Paul’s Cathedral! Not a few would be doomed to burn in Smithfield, and we know not what pains and penalties we shall be subject to! Evidently the Church of Christ is quite unable to take care of herself. Unless she is provided with so many hundreds or thousands of pounds, she must go to the dogs–for money, the love of which used to be the root of all evil–somehow or other, is now found out to be the root of all good! As for the good men who have prayed earnestly and worked so zealously, they are all going to leave off praying and preaching, too, when the State pay is stopped! So all the piety towards God and all the good will towards men will come to an end! Well, I suppose this would be very likely if Jesus Christ were dead, but as long as He is alive, I think He is quite ableto take care of the golden candlesticks Himself! And the Church of God will probably be no worse in the next few years than it has been in the years that have passed. No, I will venture to prophesy that the less help she seeks from the world, and the more she leans upon her God, the brighter will be her future! Should the very foundations of society be shaken and the worst calamities befall us–such as we hope will never come–yet over the ashes of all earthly renown and government patronage, the supernal splendor of the immortal Church of God would glow forth with clearer brilliance and brighter glory! She has Long been like a ship tossed in the tempest and not comforted. She has plowed her way, and the spray that has broken over her has been blood-red with martyr’s gore–but she has still kept on her course towards her desired haven! He that is with her is greater than all they that are against her! So shall it be till the world’s end!
Look, then, Beloved, to the golden band of our Lord Jesus Christ, and as you perceive that He is still active to maintain His own cause, to deliver His people and to prosper His Church, you need not be afraid! And does not the golden band imply His enduring love? The heart was, in old times, and still is among ourselves, supposed to be the dwelling place of the affections. What, do you think, is the ruling passion in the heart of Christ? What is it that inflames the bosom of Him who was once the Man of Sorrows, but now is King of kings and Lord of Lords? He is girded about the chest with a band of gold. He never ceases to love His people. The band is an endless thing–it goes right around a man. Christ’s heart always keeps within the sacred circle of undiminished, unchanging, undying affection for all whom His Father gave Him, for all whom He bought with His precious blood! Never doubt the faithfulness of Christ to you, Beloved, since faithfulness is the band of His loins. Never think that a promise will fail, or that the Covenant will be broken. Trusting in Him, you will never be allowed to perish. It cannot be! While He wears that golden band, He cannot prove faithless. That heavenly decoration is a goodly order. Invested therewith, He cannot forget or prove untrue to those whom He has engaged to protect. Though Heaven and earth shall pass away, not one Word of Grace shall fall to the ground. The sun and moon shall expire–dim with age, they will cease to shed their light abroad–but the love of Jesus Christ shall be as fresh and new as in the day of His espousals, and as delicious as when you first tasted of it! Yours shall it be forever and ever to inherit and enjoy!
In days of yore, moreover, the band was the place where the Eastern kept his money. It was his wallet. Some of theOrientals keep their cash in their turbans–in our Savior’s day it was carried in the band. When our Lord speaks in Matthew about His disciples going without purse or scrip, He mentions there that they are not to carry silver or gold in their bands. This golden band, then, to use a simple word, may represent the wallet of the Lord Jesus, and we infer from its being golden that it is full of unequalled wealth and unsurpassed riches. Jesus Christ bears about Him all the available supplies that can be needed by His people. What a multitude of people He has to support, for on Him all His saints depend! They have been drawing upon Him all their lives and so they always will. They are “gentlemen commoners,” as one used to say, upon the bounty of God’s Providence. We are pensioners upon the beneficence of our Lord Jesus Christ! He has supplied us until now. Oh, how much Grace you and I have needed to keep us from starving, from sinking, from going down to the pit of Hell! And we have had all we needed! In fearful temptations our foot has not slipped. We have passed through many trials, but without being crushed. Arduous has been our service, but as our day, our strength has been. We should long ago have broken any earthly bank and drained the contents, but Christ has been to us like an everflowing fountain, a wellhead, a redundant source communicating enough and to spare! What a source! What ready relief for every emergency Christ has at His command! Oh, Brothers and Sisters, have you but little Grace? Whose fault is it? Not your Lord’s! Oh, you who have no spending money! You who are full of doubts and fears! You who have slender comfort and little joy! You who are saying, like the elder son in the parable, “You never gave me a kid that I might make merry with my friends”!–whose fault is it? Does not your Father say, “Son, you are always with Me, and all that I have is yours”? It you are poor in spiritual things, you made yourselves poor, since Christ is yours and with Him all things are yours! Do enjoy what God has given you! Take the good that God provides! Seek to live up to your privileges. Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice! As that golden band gleams from afar, say in your spirit–
“Since Christ is rich, can I be poor?
What can I need besides?”
And now let me briefly point out to you–
II. THE GOLDEN LESSONS to be gathered from these five meanings of the golden band.
It will refresh your memories if I remind you that we showed how the golden band set forth the excellency of Christ in all His offices. The golden lesson, then, is–Admire Him in all His offices! He who loves Christ will never be tired ofhearing about Him. Doubtless when Jacob’s sons came back and told him that Joseph was lord over all Egypt, after hearing the story once, the old man would be sure to say, “Oh, tell me that again!” I will be bound to say that as he sat in that tent of his, he would ask first one, and then another, to tell the tale–and so he would try to pump them with questions. “Tell me, Judah, now how did he look? Has he grown stouter or thinner since the day he left me and I never thought to see or hear of him anymore? Tell me, Simeon, did he sit on a throne? Was he really like a king? Tell me, Levi, what did the Egyptians seem to think of him? Had they a high estimation of his character? Tell me, Zebulon, how did he speak? In what terms did he speak of his old father? Was there a tear in his eyes when he referred to Benjamin, your other brother, the little one whom his father would not spare?” Surely I might draw that picture without being suspected of exaggeration. It would be all true. He loved his son so dearly and doted upon him so fondly that he could not know too much–no, he could not know enough about Joseph! Anybody that had anything to tell about Joseph would be sure to be welcome! So with every renewed heart–if there is anything to be learned about Jesus, you will want to know it! Dear Brothers and Sisters, let us cultivate this spirit more and more. Let us live in the study of the life of Jesus. These are things the angels desire to look into. Do you not desire to look into them, too? Watch your Master. Let your experience, as it alters and ripens, reveal to you fresh beauties in your Lord. As you turn over page, after page, of Scripture, search after Jesus in it as men search after gold–and be not content unless you see your Savior’s face revealed on every page!
Does the golden band indicate His power and authority? The golden lesson is that you trust Him. If all power is His,lean on Him! We do not lean on Christ enough. The remark of the Church was, “Who is this who comes up from the wilderness, leaning on her Beloved?” Lean on Him! He will never sink under your weight. All the burdens that men ever had to carry, Christ carried, and He certainly will carry yours. There can be no wars and lighting that perplex you which did not perplex Him, for in the great fight which comprehended yourselves, and the great warfare for all His saints, He overcame. Nothing, then, can be difficult to Him. How often we weary ourselves with walking when we might ride–I mean, we carry our troubles when we might take them to Christ! We fret, and groan, and cry–and our difficulties do not get any the less. But when we leave them with Him who cares for us, and begin to trust, like a child trusts its father, how light of heart and how strong of spirit we become! The Lord give us to watch that golden band carefully, and as we see the power of Jesus Christ may we come to lean upon that power and trust Him at all times.
Or did the golden band signify His activity? The golden lesson is that we imitate Him. Christ is in Heaven, and yetHe wears a band. Christian, always keep your band round your loins. “Stand, therefore, with your loins girded about,” says the Apostle, “and your lamps trimmed.” This is not the place for the Christian to unbind. Heaven is the place of rest for us–not this world of temptation and of sin. Always stand ready to suffer or to serve! At the Master’s gate, watch and wait to do His bidding. Never, on weekdays, and much less on Sabbath days, let your spirits be out of order for Christian service! We ought so to live that if called to die at any minute, we would not need to say a prayer–ready for Heaven, ready for a life of service or for a death of glory! The true way for a Christian to live in this world is to be always as he would wish to be if Christ came at that moment. And there is a way of living that style–simply depending upon the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ–and then going out into daily service for Him, moved by love to Him, saying to Him, “Lord, show me what You would have me do.” I wish we always were as I have thus said we always should be. The Lord can teach us! Let us ask Him to teach us the lesson.
We told you, moreover, that the golden band indicated His enduring love, inasmuch as it is girded about His chest. Well, then, the golden lesson is, let us love Him in return. Let us wear the golden band, too. Oh, Beloved, love Him withall your heart, and soul, and strength! Let no rival come between you and Jesus. Keep your heart chaste for the WellBeloved. My greatest longing is that I may present you as a chaste virgin unto Christ, that there may be nothing by way of error in respect to Doctrine or to holiness of life that may disturb the full union of your souls with Jesus. Oh, to see that golden band, and as we see it, to feel that He has belted us about after the same manner! “I am my Beloved’s, and my Beloved is mine.” I am not the world’s, nor is the world for me–I belong to Jesus, and Jesus belongs to me! May that be the deep feeling and the truthful expression of everyone of you.
And then does the golden band suggest to us the wealth of Christ, as being His wallet, let it be our golden lesson torejoice in Him. If He is so rich, and all that He is and all that He has belongs to us, bring here your choicest music and let your souls be glad in the name of the Lord! Why are you bowed down? Why distressed? Has your Lord withdrawn, or has He changed? Is He deaf, or is His arm shortened that He cannot deliver? No, but let the children of God be joyful in their King. If you cannot be glad in what is created, be glad in the Creator Himself! If you cannot drink of the streams, go and drink of the fountainhead–the water is sweeter and better there. Blessed wreck which makes us lose everything and cling to our God, for the loss will be a gain if we get nearer to God, love Him better and prize His friendship more!
Ah, me, the day will come when those of you who do not love Christ will have to look on Him and you will see that golden band, then, but it will bring no comfort to you! You despised Him, therefore in that band there will be no love to you, no blessing for you, no power for you! But what will there be? Why, that very band, since it is made of faithfulness, will show Him faithful to His threats! Those who hear Christ preached and reject Him will find that word true, “He that believes not shall be damned.” Nothing but condemnation can be the lot of the man or woman who despises pardon and treats forgiveness with contempt. When simply to trust Christ saves the soul, to distrust Him is the direst and most damnable of sins! It is suicidal! Unbeliever, you refuse to pass through the only door that can lead you to Heaven! Well, if you never enter there, your blood be on your own head. Oh, that Grace may lead you just now to seek salvation! The Man with the golden band can save you, and none but He! Look to Him. Behold Him as He hangs upon the tree with hands and feet fastened there. Look and trust–trust and live! The Lord incline your hearts to espouse and not eschew His rich mercy, for His own dear name’s sake. Amen.