by Roel Velema
“For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke, yet I have not forgotten your statutes … I am severely afflicted; give me life, O LORD, according to your word!” (Ps. 119:83,107).
Praise God, we have new wine in new wineskins, yet we may become like a wineskin in the smoke. The smoke makes the wineskin dry and sometimes even black. It points to the soul life where our natural moisture dries up because of our trials. The appearances don’t seem to reflect the inner life of Christ. ‘Christ as us’ seems to be a contradiction, but there is no contradiction, because the Lord wants us to learn that a step in faith is a “For … yet” step. With the Old Covenant it was “give me life, O Lord”, but with life in union with Christ it is “For … yet you are my life, O Lord, according to your word”.
Often ‘Christ as us’ doesn’t appear to meet the afflictions, but we don’t look at appearances. If the Vine bears the branches, then He also bears our circumstances, even when we are dry and the circumstances are smoky with much depressing smell and little sight. A dry wineskin is still a new wineskin where His grace is sufficient. All His resources are in Him and He is as me.
Scripture often connects smoke with the altar which is a type of the cross. From the Lord’s standpoint the wineskin in the smoke is a pleasing burnt offering to Him, a pleasing aroma, a living sacrifice (Ex. 29:18). Once I look in faith at the invisible and eternal instead at the visible, my whole outlook changes. My blackness is now comely (Song of Songs 1:5). Erroneously we look to see a change for life in ourselves, but faith doesn’t allow so. Death works in us, yes we are dead. The union life is a shift to ‘life in others’ (2 Cor. 4:12), because the issue of ‘life in us’ has already been solved in our union whether I am in the smoke or not.