Beauty for Ashes Part III
Journey of the Bride
George H. Warnock
"For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one Husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ." 2 Corinthians 11:2,3
C O N T E N T SPreface Chapter 1: An Hour Of Preparation Chapter 2: The Burden Of Abrahams Servant Chapter 3: Gods Sovereign Choice Of The Bride Chapter 4: The Journey Of The Bride
Chapter 5: A Bride For The First AdamChapter 6: A Bride For The Last Adam Chapter 7: Interaction Of The Heavenly With The Earthly
This writing concerns the Bride of Christ, and her journey to the heart of God. Genesis 24 forms the basis of what we have to say: the story of Isaac and Rebekah, and her journey to the land of Canaan, under the watchful care of Abrahams trusted servant.
But we also give a lot of emphasis to the role of the servant, who was given the charge to make the journey into Mesopotamia, to procure this virgin bride for Isaac. We know the Holy Spirit is that faithful One who prepares and enriches the Bride of Christ. But He abides in His people in the earth, so that in a very real sense we are all responsible to take our place as ministering servants to the Bride of Christ. For as Eve was the Bride of Adam-and at the same time "of his bone and of his flesh"--so we are the Bride of Christ, yet joined to Him in one Body. And the Body of Christ is to "edify itself"... as each member takes his place as a ministering servant to Christ. We recognize of course that there are special ministering servants that God has set in the Body, whose responsibility it is to minister the Word of God faithfully, as "stewards of the mysteries of God."
May the manner and the deportment of this faithful unnamed servant be a challenge to all of our hearts, to faithfully fulfill the charge that is laid upon us to minister the life of Christ to Gods people. For as members of His Body we are all involved, and we are all to be servants one to another, while at the same time being a part of the corporate whole.
-George H. Warnock (February, 1989)
AN HOUR OF PREPARATION
If we are hearing what the Spirit is saying to the churches in this hour, I am sure we are hearing above all else the word, "PREPARE." It is an hour of preparation. God always prepares His people when He is about to do some new thing... and a "new thing" He is doing in the earth at this time.
Let us not get disturbed at the thought that God might be doing something new. Let us not think that our God has exhausted His resources, as some would have us believe, when they tell us that God never does anything new. He has always been doing new things. From the time He placed man on the earth, and unto this day, He has been reaching into His own heart of wisdom and knowledge and truth and bringing forth new things. For "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of men, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit" (1 Cor. 2:9,10). Has our God finally expended all His treasures of wisdom and knowledge upon His people, so that now at this late hour He has nothing more to say or do but to bring forth the old? Certainly we appreciate how God has worked of old, but the true steward of the mysteries of God will continue to bring forth from his treasures "things new and old"... for God is a God who reserves His very best for the last, and He bids us now to buy of Him "eyesalve to anoint our eyes, that we might see"--that we might see and behold new workings, new unfoldings of His purposes, new insights into His ways, new glimpses of His glory and presence.
"Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them" (Is. 42:9).
"Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it?" (Is. 43:19).
There is an old adage: "If its new, its not true... If its true, its not new...
But dont be so foolish as to apply that to the "spiritual world," and to things pertaining to the Kingdom of Heaven; for God will continue to do new things in His people until He is able to "rest in His love" and find total delight and satisfaction in the people whom He has created for His own glory.
When we speak of "new things" of course, we mean they are new to Gods people in the earth. Every new working of God in the earth is certainly a repeat of many things He has done before. For God will consistently seek to bring us back to the old paths, back to "first love," back to the Word, back to what He said in His dealings with former generations. But in doing so His desire is to bring us back to the path from which we have gone astray, that He might lead us forward into new areas of exploration in God that we have never known before. For His intention is to bring His people into the fullness of the desire of His heart, and not merely to bring us back to that measure of attainment and fulfillment that our fathers knew in their generation. Gods people are always inclined to fall short. Gods burden is always that we "go on" from where others have left off. And in doing "new things" He prepares His people afresh to make new advances into the Kingdom of God until they come to that measure of completeness, and maturity, and perfection... the standard for which is nothing less than "the stature of Christ" (Eph. 4:13).
What then is God doing in His people? God uses many different kinds of illustrations to describe what He is doing in His own, and briefly we will name some of them. He is preparing a Body, in which He will be glorified as the Head, with every member fitly framed and joined together: "members in particular," yet but "one Body."
He is building a Temple, not made with hands, as a habitation for Himself by the Spirit.
He has planted a Garden, and He, the Husbandman, waits patiently "for the precious fruit of the earth."
He is mobilizing an Army, that will be clothed upon with the whole armor of God, and that will go forth in the Day of the Lord, in total triumph and victory.
He is preparing gold and silver vessels for the House of God, refined and precious in His sight, to carry the incense and the oil and the fragrance of His presence to the world about us.
He is perfecting Sons, in His own image and likeness, that they, like their elder Brother, might be a delight to His heart, and the expression of His own glory in the earth.
And He continues to cleanse and to purge and to adorn a holy Bride for His Son, that she might share that intimate union and relationship with Him for which His heart longs.
Now all these things which we have mentioned are really one thing-but each in its own way depicts and shows forth its own peculiar reflection of the glory of God, which is many sided and varied in its composite fullness.
One Thing Have I Desired
As humans we are very inquisitive creatures. We would like to know so many things. And that is why in our search after knowledge the Church has become very much encumbered with doctrines and theories and ideas about Gods plans and purposes. But if indeed we are truly searching after the living Truth, sooner or later we must come to the realization that only "one thing is needful," and that is that we might sit at the feet of the Lord Jesus and hear His Word, and then walk by His side.
God bring us to this "one thing," that with David we might say,
"One thing have I desired of the Lord,
That will I seek after;
That I might dwell in the House of the Lord
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD,
And to inquire in His temple" (Ps. 27:4).
For these are not really three things, but ONE thing in its three dimensions: to dwell in Gods House --for it is there that we would see His beauty, and it is there that we will be able to inquire of Him concerning His ways.
In vain do we talk about the House of God and the Temple of God, if the beauty of His Presence is not there. And if He is truly there our inquiry will have nothing to do with inquisitiveness about irrelevant things; but our inquiry will center entirely about Him, and His ways, and the desire of His heart for His people.
God, we pray, so deal with us in this hour that we will be concerned, like Mary of Bethany, or like David the shepherd of Israel, with only "one thing"; for "one thing is needful," and that is that we might sit at the feet of Jesus and hear what He has to say to our inquiring hearts.
When Does Our Lord Return?
God take away from our hearts that carnal delight we have for calculating dates and times and schedules, which God has re served in His own heart... and cause us to be a people who are watching and waiting and looking for Him. Are we looking for the "second coming"... or do we watch and wait and look for Him? Are we looking for a climactic event to take place? Or are we longingly waiting for Him?
God tells us specifically enough when our Lord is coming, and if we would hear what He is saying, we would be ready and prepared to receive Him when He appears. He is not coming merely because time is running out. He comes rather when the purpose of His heavenly ministry has been accomplished, and the people for whose sake He ministers in the heavenly sanctuary are prepared and adorned to receive Him.
He comes to be "glorified in the saints"... in a Body that is thoroughly joined and knit together, and has come "unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13).
He comes to inhabit a Temple, a temple not made with hands, a temple that has been "builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit" (Eph. 2:22).
He comes as refiners fire, and as fullers soap... to purge the sons of Levi, as gold and silver is purged... that they might be holy vessels in the House of God, "that they might offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness" (Mal. 3:3).
He comes for a holy Bride... a Bride that is worthy of the Bridegroom, a Bride that is His own complement, His counterpart, His fullness, His completeness. But notice this: she is going to be ready! She is going to be prepared! She is not going to be kidnapped the way she is, unaware of what is happening. "For the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife HATH MADE HERSELF READY" (Rev. 19:7).
And therefore, because He comes for this kind of a people, He is now sending forth into the earth this kind of Word-to prepare this kind of a people. The servants of God who are hearing what the Spirit is saying, are declaring a living Word in the earth; and it is this living Word that is preparing His people to receive Him. His Word, His living Word, is that which makes us ready!
That is why He speaks very explicitly to the hearts of His people in the day and hour when He arises in the earth to do a new thing. It is not something that His servants have imagined out of their own hearts. It is something that originates in the heart of God. It is His intention and His desire to bring it into being, and therefore He declares it. He speaks it forth. He knows that His Word is creative in its working, and nothing that He says can fail to come to pass, and so He speaks it forth. "For with God nothing shall be impossible" (Luke 1:37). This is what the angel said to Mary concerning the birth of her Son-something that was totally impossible as far as she could understand. And so He told her, and I believe this is a more literal translation: "No Word of God shall be void of power."
The Power Of The New Covenant
Right here let us reaffirm again that the living Word of the New Covenant is not in any sense a mere expression of what God would like His people to do. Such was the Old Covenant; but the New Covenant is a living Word sent forth from His heart to create, to bring into being, the desire of His heart. Surely if we recognize it in this light it ought to put our hearts and minds at rest, as far as the outworking of the Word is concerned. We are not reiterating some old law, clothed with New Covenant terminology. If we are truly speaking the words which "the Holy Ghost teacheth" then it is a living, creative Word that "proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord," and it comes to pass simply and only because the Lord hath spoken it to obedient hearts. It is not our idea, our concept of doctrine, our opinion... If it is that, nothing more will come of it. But if Gods servants are truly speaking a living Word that they hear from the throne, then that Word will bring into being that which God has declared. We who believe God seemingly have no difficulty in believing that when God spoke with creative voice in the beginning, the thing that He spoke sprang into being. When God simply declared, "Let there be light," light shone forth out of darkness, because in the Word that He spoke there was a creative power behind what He said. Can we not believe that the same God who spoke in ages past is now speaking in New Covenant, new creation power... once again to bring into manifestation and expression the light and the glory that is inherent within Himself?
"For God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6).
How can we fail to see the true nature of the New Covenant, when we meditate upon this one principle of truth. It is not an exhortation to try to live like Jesus, to try to enter into His glory, to try to shine. It is rather a living, creative Word that CAUSES us to shine with the light of His glory, because He has spoken. It is not a living Word when I teach it, or quote the Scripture. It is only a living, creative Word when the same God who spoke it in ages past speaks it again here and now by His Spirit, to our benighted souls. It is only a living Word when Gods servants hear what the Spirit is saying and speak it forth in "words which the Holy Ghost teacheth."
The Predetermined Ways Of The Lord
God wants to assure us that He has ordained our pathway before us. We must know this if we are to find peace in the wilderness journeys of life. As we come to know this we find assurance in the fact that He has gone before us, and that He knows the way that He has determined for us to walk in. This is the simple meaning of that very "scary" word, "predestination." It simply means that He has marked out our pathway for us ahead of time... and His intention was a good one: "That we might be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren" (Rom. 8:29). The doctrine only becomes "scary" when it becomes theological. The believing, trusting heart knows for sure that whatever God does will be right. When we say in our hearts, "God cannot do that, because that would not be right," we are setting up our concept of righteousness above the knowledge and the wisdom of God. God in this declaration is simply telling all those who love Him that He has gone before, and has marked out the pathway in which He would have us walk... and that His intention in leading us this way is to "conform" us to "the image of His Son"! Can we not rejoice in that, and leave the arguments with the theologians? Or must we argue the pros and cons of a very controversial doctrine, in a vain attempt to satisfy our carnal minds with a doctrinal concept... and all the while our souls are left dry, and our hearts and minds confused?
God knows our way, because He has predetermined it. As the way becomes distressing, and turbulent, the man of faith and patience will find strength and courage in knowing that God is there in the midst of it all, working all things together for our good and for His own glory. In knowing that He knows, the man in trial begins to anticipate the good that God intends to bring out of it, as Job did. In his trial he looked desperately for God, everywhere and in all directions, but couldnt seem to find Him.
"Behold, I go forward, but He is not there;
And backward, but I cannot perceive Him:
On the left hand, where He doth work,
But I cannot behold Him:
He hideth Himself on the right hand,
That I cannot see Him" (Job 23:8, 9).
How many are going through the tedious pathways of exploration, hoping to find God? Boldly stepping forth into new challenges of faith, but not finding God. Or going back to the old ways, which were good in their season... and when God was blessing- saying, "Did I miss God, I wonder, by not staying where I was?" Or, God seems to be really working over there... I will go there and find Him. Surely I shall find Him if I go where He is working. But I go there, and He is not to be found. He is neither there on my left hand nor on my right. Where then do we find Him? Right there where Job found Him. Right there in the place of trial and testing. Right there on the ash pile where he sat and bemoaned his plight. But it was right there in his predicament that he found grace and courage to say...
"He knoweth the way that I take: When He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold" (Job 23:10).
He must yet undergo a lot of trial, and a lot of confusion as to the ways of the Lord. But at least he was beginning to see what God was doing. He understood that Gods intention was good: HE WANTS TO BRING FORTH THE GOLD! AND THIS IS HIS WAY OF DOING IT!
Now in this writing we are dealing in particular with the Bride of Christ, and her preparation and journey to the heart of God. The basis of our remarks will be in Genesis 24, as we consider the story of Isaac and Rebekah, and how beautifully it portrays Christ, and the preparation of His Bride. But we are going to put a lot of emphasis on the part of Abrahams servant, and we will see how precisely he obeyed his master; and then how God so beautifully ties everything together according to His own plan and purpose, when the servant did what he was supposed to do... no more, and no less.
THE BURDEN OF ABRAHAMS SERVANT
"And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh: and I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell: but thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac" (Gen. 24:24).
The eldest servant was Abrahams steward; he had all of Abrahams possessions in his care. Now Gods stewards are simply those to whom the Lord has entrusted the treasures of His wisdom and knowledge for the instruction and the maturing of the people of God, so as to enable them to walk in His ways. Gods true steward-servants are those who bring forth from their treasures "things new and old." Things that God has given them, and revealed to them by His Spirit. They are not sent of Him to unravel the philosophies of Plato and Socrates, or the hidden mysteries of the occult realm. They are appointed to relate to Gods people the secrets of God, which no one can relate and no one can receive except as they are illuminated by the Holy Spirit. Abrahams servant had nothing of his own; but he had all of Abrahams possessions under his watchful care. Jesus said, "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you" (Jn. l5:15). Gods true servants are not "slaves" by calling, as the word "doulos" implies. They are the friends of God. Nevertheless they are "friends" who walk in such a love-relationship with Him that they become, in their own eyes and in their own estimation, the "bondslaves" of love and truth. Not until they come to this kind of commitment do they know anything about real freedom, and much less about taking charge of Gods House or of His treasures. True authority in the House of God does not spring from the authority of the ministry one has. It springs rather from a true and loving bondslave relationship with the Father. If this relationship is not there, the authority will be "authoritarian" by nature, rather than a ministration of love and truth which brings the discipline and the order of the Law of the Spirit into loving and meaningful expression in the House of God.
Now I think it is evident that in the higher sense the servant of Abraham represents the Holy Spirit, whose mission it is to prepare a Bride for Christ. But what we so often forget is the fact that the Holy Spirit dwells in Gods servants in the earth, making them to be true and faithful servants of God, that He might live in them, speak through them, and work through them. Gods servants, therefore, become the visible instruments in the earth who are responsible and held accountable before God to faithfully speak His words in the earth, that will procure this holy Bride for Christ. Without this faithful ministration of His servants in the earth this holy Bride cannot be prepared; and so Paul could say to the Corinthian church:
"For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy; for I have espoused you to one Husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ" (2 Cor. 11:2).
Notice what he said: "My jealousy over you is Gods very own jealousy... I have espoused you to one Husband I want to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." Some who are strong on the idea of rulership over the people have coined the phrase, "the husband ministry," relative to the apostles and prophets and teachers in the Church. This is totally wrong. True ministry will never meddle with ones individual, intimate relationship with the Lord; but with Gods zeal and jealousy will so minister Christ that the believers love-relationship with Him will become more and more pronounced. As this relationship continues to grow and to be strengthened, so will the cords which once seemed to bind the immature child of God to some outstanding minister begin to snap. God never intended that these cords of ministry should be anything more than cords of respect and love because of the help they receive; and these cords must be replaced, in the fullness of Gods working in our lives, with the all-encompassing cords of true love that bind our hearts to Him that loved us, and to all of Gods people who are loved of Him. The weaned child must eventually become a son or daughter in Fathers House, and grow unto maturity under the guidance of spiritual fathers and mothers, until one day they themselves may be able to feed and nourish others. True fathers in Gods House will anticipate the day when the children shall have grown unto maturity, and become equal with them in their apprehension of Truth, and in their personal relationship with the Father above. The true servant does not, because of the office he may hold, command the submission and respect of the people of God in virtue of that office. That respect and submission ought to be there if the immature ones are truly desirous of growing in the ways of the Lord. But that servant of the Lord who feeds them and seeks to nurture them in the ways of the Lord will be happy and blessed when the one he feeds with Truth rises up in the stature of the Lord and begins to feed others. Even that elder pastor or that elder teacher or that elder prophet, or apostle, will find himself sitting at the feet of one whom he has instructed in the ways of the Lord, to receive instruction from him, and rejoicing in the maturity that he sees beginning to develop in one much younger than himself.
When God ordained the casting of lots for the ministry of song in the House of the Lord, He made no distinction between "the small and the great," or between "the teacher and the scholar." So does God harmonize the expression of the living Christ in the House of God. He, the Master musician, knows how to strike-the chords of many hearts as they assemble together to behold the beauty of the Lord. And with the striking of the chords in hearts that are in tune with Him... whether they be "great or small," whether they be "teacher or scholar"... ONE SOUND is heard in the congregation of the Lord, as it was in the early days of the ministry of song in Solomons Temple. (See 2 Chron. 5:13.) The harmonious strains of the Lord will find a response in the hearts of Gods people no matter what instrument may be used; and many voices will blend together as they are orchestrated by the Holy Spirit to magnify and to glorify the Lord Jesus in our midst.
Our modern musicians in the Church are masters at this, as far as their musical talent is concerned. But we are not talking about that. For the musical instruments in the Temple were themselves but types of the people of God, who are fine tuned by the Holy Spirit, and who become very sensitive to the fingers of God as He plays upon the strings of their heart, and causes them to show forth in the congregation of the Lord some aspect of the glory of Christ for which the Spirit has tuned them true to His own heart, and set them in the Body as "members in particular."
Would God that His people would have the same diligence to be tuned into God and His truth, as they are to have their musical instruments tuned to the sensitive ears of the musicians. Then we would have a vital expression of the Body of Christ in the earth, showing forth the praises of the Lord. Without that expression of Christ in our midst, our musical renditions become mere entertainment, and serve only to soothe the hearts of Gods people, rather than to pierce them with the Sword of the Spirit. Without that expression of Christ in our midst, the beautiful music must sound like "clanging cymbals" or like "sounding brass" in the ears of the Lord. And the heart that is soothed by the beautiful music of the minstrel will soon be lulled to sleep, rather than awakened to hear the clear, pure Word of the Lord. I fear it is happening in our churches, as happened in the days of the prophet:
"And lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that bath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not" (Ezek. 33:32).
We are talking about the burden that Abraham laid upon his servant. Abraham knew what he wanted, and he knew what God wanted; and we can be sure it was God who put it into his heart to set in motion the plan that would bring into being the desire of His own heart. Abraham would not have to personally take that long and arduous journey to Mesopotamia. His trusted servant could do the job as well as he; for this servant had been with Abraham these many years, and he had come to know the heart of Abraham, as well as the heart of Abrahams God. This was a matter of vital importance. Through Abraham and through Isaac "all nations were to be blessed" . . and Isaacs bride must be "elect according to the foreknowledge of God."
Throughout the whole story the servant remains the unnamed servant. Some assume it was Eliezer; but this we do not know. By the time we come to Genesis 24, it is at least 54 years from the time Eliezer was last mentioned. And so we are simply going to call him "the servant" or "the man" as the Bible does. His name is not to be held in reverence, nor are the names of Gods servants today. His mission is to honor the name of Abraham and of Isaac, and to procure a worthy bride for his master. He was not to get any glory out of this, except the glory one has when, by the ministry of the Spirit, he is enabled to impart the glory of God to others, and through this to glorify and exalt the Name of the Lord Jesus. Paul was able to say of the Thessalonians, "For ye are our glory and joy" (1 Thess. 2:20). Why? Because in ministering Christ to them it was Christ that was honored and Christ that was glorified, and that was the total purpose of his ministry. "Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?" (1 Cor. 3:5). Yet even as he would "downgrade" himself as it were, he had no hesitation in saying that he was a "steward" in the House of God.
Stewards Of The Mysteries
"Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God" (1 Cor. 4:1). The mysteries of God are the secrets of God, and Paul was entrusted with many of these. As a Pharisee he knew the Scriptures very well, but he had not learned Gods secrets. He certainly honored the Scriptures as the Word of God; but he made it clear that he did not come to an understanding of Gods "secrets" through an intellectual research of the truth, but by the "revelation" of the Spirit. (See 1 Cor. 2:12-14; Gal. 1:12.) It was all there in the Old Testament, at least in seed-form; but he could not see it until God revealed to him His secrets. What he received was not foreign to the Scriptures, but it was so hidden away in the letter of the Word that no man could see it unless God unveiled it. For instance, who would consider this to be a valid interpretation of Scripture: that the "seed of Abraham" was really the Christ Himself? Only the Holy Spirit could reveal something like that; and even our most fundamental Christian teachers are slow to accept it: THAT THE PROMISES TO ABRAHAM WERE TO THE SEED, WHICH IS CHRIST, AND NOT TO UNREGENERATE ISRAELITES. (See Gal. 3:16.) And again, it is said by the Holy Spirit that Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek... because Abraham, Levis great-grandfather had done so. What kind of logic is that? it is the logic of the Spirit of God. (See Heb. 7:9, 10.) He alone can reveal secrets like this that are hidden away in the letter of the Word. He alone is able to break open the shell, and bring forth the kernel. He alone can clothe the Word with life, that it becomes living bread to the hungry heart. The living Word is there... hidden away in the shell... but only the Holy Spirit can make it to be bread for the hungry, and refreshing water to him that is thirsty and dry.
Now if we profess to be partakers of the "secrets of God," let us be assured that we can only minister those secrets by the Holy Spirit; and if He does not break open the shell and show them to us... they will not minister life to our own hearts, or to the hearts of the people with whom we seek to share them. For this reason a great deal of discipline is required in the lives of those who are "stewards of the mysteries of God." God does not place us under oath, as Abraham did with his servant... and we can be thankful for that; for He knows only too well that we would at one time or another become guilty of perjury. But let us be sure of this:
If God reveals His eternal secrets to us, our obligation to faithfully relate the words of God to His people is just as exacting, and perhaps more so, than if we were called upon to swear by God or His throne that we would do what He said.
In this writing we are putting a lot of emphasis upon the servant-ministry, because it is very evident that they are largely to blame for the lack of true spiritual life in the people of God. I believe that God is in this hour seeking out for Himself a trusted and tried servant-ministry that will faithfully minister the truth to His people; for God is very jealous for His own Names sake that He have a Bride truly like Himself truly worthy of Him, truly compatible with Him. Let the awesomeness of the oath of God that Abraham laid upon his servant, strike all of our hearts with the sense of our responsibility before God and His people in this awesome hour. There is a holy Bride out there that God is grooming for His Son. And there is a fresh Word going forth from the heart of God that will prepare and procure this holy Bride for Christ. Long has the Church realized that the Holy Spirit will be faithful to present this chaste virgin to Christ. But how little have we recognized that He sends forth this cleansing, purifying Word through the lips of trusted, tried, cleansed, and purged vessels in the House of God.
I believe God is bringing forth a new ministry in the Church to bring forth this fresh, cleansing stream from the House of God. I am not referring to a new kind of clergy. I am referring to a true corporate ministry that is arising in the Body of Christ that will be one with the people of God... and together, one with the Holy Spirit. God never intended the special ministries of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, to be on an elevated plane, above the people. The clergy-laity system in the Church must disappear. God never gave these ministries to the Church to create a class-system in the Church. As truly as the five loaves and the two fishes were taken into the hands of the Master, and broken together in His hands... and then distributed to the disciples and from there to the famishing crowds... so the ministry and the people must be broken together in the hands of Christ if there is to be broken bread for a Church and a world in need. In all of the teaching that abounds in the Church today concerning the Body of Christ we see very little beyond a class system... a clergy type of ministration to a people who are content to just sit and listen. Oftentimes the people will exalt and idolize the one who stands before them, with very little thought that they are supposed to be a part of the ministration of the Spirit... that they must so partake of Christ for themselves, that they might become a living expression of the Christ in His corporate Body. Now it is clearly stated in the Word what the special ministries are for... if we may use that word "special."
"For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ" (Eph. 4:12). Read it slowly: It is to perfect and equip the people of God that they may effectually minister to, and build up the Body of Christ. The "five-fold ministry" then is intended of the Lord to so bring forth this living Word that every member, as a "member in particular," may become a vital expression of Christ in our midst. It is not just to prepare a few elders and deacons to minister under the authority of a pastor, but to so impart Christ to the Body that each member will have his own vital ministration of the Spirit to share with the rest of the Body.
But notice this: it is the lack of this kind of expression in the Body that is responsible for the schisms that exist, and that are becoming more and more frequent in the Church:
"But God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another" (1 Cor. 13:24, 25).
Did you hear what God says is causing the schisms in the Body? That unruly member? That ambitious elder? These problems may exist; but God says it is because there are members that sit there in the congregation, lacking that abundant honor that God would lay upon them... so that they might be enabled to minister Christ, as a "member in particular." We are not talking about ministering in the ecclesiastical sense; but a people so honored of the Lord with the "honor" that He places upon them, that out from their lives there comes forth a reflection of the living Christ in the midst of His people. It causes them to exercise a "care" for the flock of God... a care that removes the schisms, and that brings a healing to the Body of Christ. It could manifest itself in many, many ways: in prayers and intercessions, in exhortations, in ministrations of mercy, in physical and spiritual healings, in helps of one kind and another. God says it is this "abundant honor" from Christ that will remove the schisms, and heal the Body. Until this happens, it matters not how many wonderful prophets and apostles and teachers might be in the Church establishing church "order," and setting up "New Testament churches." If there is not that ministration of the Spirit that nurtures the saints of God and makes them to be a vital "Member in particular," we are not going to see this kind of healing in the Body of Christ that God intends. Of course we cannot manufacture this kind of ministration in the members of the Body of Christ. God must do it by His Spirit. But the true servants of the Lord will cherish this vision, and will earnestly seek the Lord that the "honor" He alone can bestow may come upon the whole congregation, that "there be no schism in the Body... that the members should have the same care one for another."
The Nature Of The Oath
As we know, an "oath" is intended to attach great significance and importance to a covenant, lest it be taken lightly. This matter of ministering the Truth is no light thing in the sight of God. God does not ask His servants to take an oath in ministry, for it would only bring greater condemnation upon us in times of failure. He nevertheless bears witness to all that we say and do, and He is not at all pleased with this professional type of minis try in the Church that functions not too differently from our political parties in the world... in setting up one, and putting down another, according to the popular will of the people. This democratic system of government has no place in the House of God. God has always been faithful to give leadership according to His own will, if the people are really minded to go His way. But when the time comes that Gods will is no longer considered to be of utmost importance, He simply withdraws from it all and allows man to run it his way. Oh, He may continue to bless His people, as He did under Saul; but it is not His way, and in due course it must all come crashing down. His blessing in the midst of a politically oriented church structure is in no sense a token of His pleasure in what they are doing. It is rather another example of His grace and mercy to a disobedient people. Forty long years God blessed His people in the wilderness... but when it was all over, God Himself testified that He was "grieved" with that generation who "erred in their heart" and who did not come to know His ways (Ps. 95:10).
Abrahams servant took the oath, but not without some misgivings. What if the one he found for Isaac was not willing to take the journey? Would he then be permitted to take Isaac back to that land, to receive his bride? The answer was "No"... he was not to do that. But with that answer Abraham, with confidence in God, was able to assure the servant that if he was faithful to follow the instructions he was giving him, then God would be faithful to find a bride that would be willing to take the journey.
The commitment of a faithful servant to minister Truth explicitly according to the will of God, is the servants assurance that God will be faithful to watch over that Word, and bring it to pass.
God help us all in this matter of commitment. It is no light thing to say, "Lord, I will follow you... I will go your way... I will do your will." For as surely as we are apprehended of God with a desire to do His will, the assurance that we are walking in His will becomes more and more pronounced in all that we do. Is there first of all a genuine, fervent desire to do as He says? Or is there that lingering mixture of selfish desire? "I will follow you, Lord, but FIRST I want to do this... or that..." (See Luke 9:59-61.) How many conditions do we attach to our commitments, knowingly or unknowingly? As long as these conditions are there we are not going to discover the positive assurance that we must have in our walk with Him as we seek to walk beneath the unclouded skies of His favor and presence. But as our commitment is purged from all conditions, and our desires purified from all selfish pursuits, more and more will we discover His faithfulness in causing us to make the right judgments, and to walk in the perfect ways of the Lord.
Jesus was able to say, "I can of Mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and My judgment is just; because I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me" (Jn. 5:30). His commitment to the will of God so apprehended His inner-most being that He had positive assurance that what He said was right... what He judged was right. He would pray, and He knew the Father would hear Him always. He would speak, and He knew it was the Father speaking. He would work, and He knew the Father would be there to perform what the Father had in mind. Notice this: He did not claim to be right, and to judge aright, because He was an apostle or a prophet, or because He was the Messiah, BUT BECAUSE HE EARNESTLY DESIRED TO DO THE FATHERS WILL, RATHER THAN HIS OWN. "Because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent Me."
So it was that Abrahams servant went forth on a long journey under oath to do what Abraham had said... nothing more, and nothing less. He had the assurance from his master, "You do what I am adjuring you to do, and God will show you favor, and do what you cannot do. He will lead you in the right way; He will guide you to the right place; and you will be assured that the one that God has chosen for Isaac will be the right one... a bride compatible and worthy of my son, and willing to follow you on the journey home."
GODS SOVEREIGN CHOICE OF THE BRIDE
When Gods servants move in the realm of the will of God, there is always the interaction of the heavenly with the earthly. This is what makes the difference between secular and Biblical history; and this is what has always captivated the hearts and minds of Gods people in any age. It is not just that men lived right and prayed right, and so God intervened. Rather, in and through all of Gods dealings with men, His own purposes are intricately woven into the fabric of Biblical history so as to reveal to us, and to the heavenly realm, the beauty of His own eternal purposes. Men of faith who moved the hand of God were simply those servants who knew and recognized that God had a plan and a purpose, and their commitment and dedication to Him was such that they discovered what that plan was, and moved according to His direction. By faith they tapped into the unseen realm, heard what God said, knew what He wanted, and acted accordingly. Their prayers did not change Gods plan; but having heard from God, and knowing a little of His plan... they learned how to pray according to His will. They did not determine or change their own destiny; but in drawing nigh to God, and coming to know His will, they learned how to walk in a pathway that would fulfill Gods destiny for their lives.
As we discover ourselves moving in this kind of a scheme, we come to understand that God works at both ends of the situation, as well as all the way through and in between. We are prone to manipulate situations to make them work out right; but the servant that is sent of the Father will not do that. He may try to do so at times, but he soon discovers that whenever he has tried to make it work, he has failed miserably. Experience has taught him that if God is in it, God Himself will be there... at this end, as well as at the other end of the road; for He is "the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last." If this One is the One we are serving, then He must be first and last in all that we desire, and first and last in all that we do. We would like, perhaps, to have things more under our control. We would like to go forth with a greater sense of knowing how to cope with contingencies that may arise along the way. Just to flow along in the River of Truth... or to be wafted along on the wings of the wind... this can be very distressing to our calculating minds. What if it doesnt work out? What if it doesnt happen? These and similar questions would continually nag our spirits. But the man of the Spirit must learn the ways of the Lord so well that he can go forth at Gods bidding, led of the Spirit, in ways which he does not know or understand. He does not step out in what man calls "faith" to get involved in programs and structures that he thinks might glorify God. If God is not directing... if God is not giving a sure Word... then it has nothing to do with Faith, it is mere presumption. As God makes known to us His will, only then can we move in the realm of faith, and be assured of His guidance along the way. He gives us faith according to the measure of our obedience... obedience to His will. You do not apprehend faith as you step out boldly to perform some worthy task for the Lord... but rather, when you have learned, as Jesus learned, that "I can of Mine own self do nothing." When your own strength has been weakened, then you will be able to hear what God has to say. You do not have to see the whole picture clearly. But as you move in faith, as He gives you the Word to move, then you can go forth in the confidence that He will make the picture complete when you come to the end of the road. You do not need the knowledge, or the understanding, or the faith for the other end until you get there. But if you have been apprehended with a great longing and desire to do the will of God, you will walk with Him today, and tomorrow, and the next day, "strengthened with all might by His Spirit in the inner man," knowing each day the faith that you need for that day, and for that situation. Then once again you come to the crossroads... but having learned a little of His ways you do not panic. You simply stand by the well, as Abrahams servant did, and look to the Lord for the next step.
Standing By The Well
"And the servant took ten camels of the camels of his master, and departed, for all the goods of his master were in his hand: and he arose, and went to Mesopotamia, unto the city of Nahor. And he made his camels to kneel down without the city by a well of water at the time of the evening, even the time that women go out to draw water. And he said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and show kindness unto my master Abraham. Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water: and let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast showed kindness unto my master" (Gen. 24:10-14).
The servant had gone forth in obedience to the will of his master, and had arrived at the right place, and at the right time. Now what? Where does he go from here? He must find this bride for his masters son. What will he do now? Go knocking on doors? Go scouting? Ask people on the street the where-abouts of Abrahams relatives?
We have emphasized that God does have a plan and a purpose for our lives; and we must know that, if-we are to have rest and quiet in the storms of life. We do not need to have great understanding as to what that plan and purpose is; BUT TO SEE THE UNFOLDING OF IT IN OUR LIVES WE MUST KNOW HIS WILL AND WALK IN IT. We must not attempt to fulfill the plan, for our understanding of it is very faulty... and if we set our sights to fulfill it, we will end up in frustration. The secret is to come back to the pathway of His will, and begin afresh to walk in that. True, it may seem that the way He is leading has no bearing on the plan at all; but when we discover His ways a little, we understand this is the way it is supposed to be; for our thoughts are not His thoughts, nor are the ways of man, Gods ways. This is what usually disturbs us: we feel we have a little insight into His plan, and we try to turn in that direction... rather than simply doing what God wants us to do today... and tomorrow... and the next day. Our goals may be receding, and we are inclined to feel that we are getting further and further away from what God had in mind for our lives. Perhaps it is because of some prophecy we have had... some dream... some vision... and the way we are going seems to be leading us farther and farther away from that. But let not this disturb you. It has always seemed that way to men and women of faith. Let us continue to seek Him, know His will for today, and walk in it. Somewhere along the Way we will become aware that in simply doing His will and walking in the pathway of obedience, our pathway is converging with the plan and the purposes of God.
Here is where we so often fail. We have direction to go so far and then comes a time of crisis, and we are prone to take matters into our own hands. And counselors often fail us by telling us to do our part, and then God will do His. Human wisdom and understanding is always detrimental to a walk of faith. We have a sound mind, and we have many counselors, and it seems to be easy enough to choose the next course of action.
But the true servant is ever aware of two things: his own inadequacy, and the burden of the oath that he carries. He must have Divine guidance, or he knows he could spoil the whole picture. Once we are assured that God is indeed painting a beautiful picture in our lives, for His own glory, and for the revelation of His wisdom to the celestial hosts... then do we find ourselves more and more under the constraint of the Spirit to tread cautiously, lest we mar the picture with our own intervention and folly. It is a glorious and wonderful thing that God is doing... and it is not for our pleasure, but for His. He is about to reveal and bring forth a Bride for His Son, and all Heaven is focusing on what God is doing in the earth. Peter tells us that "angels desire to look into these things"... these things that pertain to our redemption. (See 1 Pet. 1:12.) Paul says we are made to be a "spectacle," or we are "put on display, both before angels and before men" (1 Cor. 4:9). He tells us again that it is "through the Church" that God would make known to the celestial realm "the manifold wisdom of God" (Eph. 3:10). How dare we mar the beautiful picture that God is creating, by taking things in our own hands. Let us rather stand by "the well of water" and ask counsel from the Most High, before we proceed any further. It is always better to "wait" than to hurry. The scripture, "What thou doest, do quickly," was not given to a true servant of the Lord, but to the betrayer. To you and me He saith, "Stand by the well of water, and ask counsel at My mouth."
Suddenly he became aware that here at the well God would complete the picture. He would simply stand still and see the plan and purpose of God unfold. We can do that, if we are truly walking by faith; because faith is not of human origin. It originates in God; it is the "faith of God" by which we live; and it originates in God in order that men who have learned obedience to God might partake of it and walk in it. And then when he walks in it, he finds himself flowing in the plan and in the purpose of God. The concept of faith that emphasizes the ability to get and to get and to get, is a very low character of faith, especially when it means the getting of material things. Scriptural "faith" proceeds from God, the God whose plan for our lives is that we be "conformed to the image of His Son." It is primarily faith to BECOME, not faith to GET, or faith to DO.
The ultimate purposes of God were all wrapped up in this choice that the servant had to make, and he was aware of the importance of getting Divine direction. Once again he cast himself upon the mercies of the God of Abraham. Perhaps unknown to the servant, but known to us, was the fact that God was at this time bringing together the vessels that would, in the fullness of time, be the instruments in Divine providence for the incarnation of the Lord Jesus, the Christ Himself. The supreme purposes of God were all converging at this point in time, at this place in history, as the servant stood before the well of water. He may not have known much about the ultimate unfoldings of the purposes of God; nor did he need to know. It was enough that he loved his master so dearly, and served him with such love and obedience, that he knew he must know the voice of God at this most critical time.
And so the servant was moved to ask God to answer a very difficult prayer: "Let this chosen one give me a drink when I ask for one... and let her offer to water my camels also." No easy task that! I am told a thirsty camel can drink up to 22 gallons of water at one time... and he had ten thirsty camels! True faith does not look for the easy way out. Gods plan and purpose is very specific... and we must have Gods faith, which will likewise be very specific. And so while the servant looked on in amazement, Rebekah came to the well and began to fulfill the servants prayer in every detail. She gave him the drink he had asked for and then with a sigh of relief he heard her say, "I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking" (vs. 19).
We have many examples in Scripture as to how Gods purposes would converge at a certain time, at a certain place, under certain circumstances... but which had, in the plan of God far-reaching implications that Gods servants knew nothing about. Yet see how they reacted in the time of crisis... not even being aware that it was a time of crisis. They were just going about performing the menial, routine tasks of life and right there on the job the wheels of Gods purposes began to move together, and Gods true servant was suddenly caught away in the movements of God. See Joseph, cruelly apprehended by his brethren... but in reality apprehended of God, and sold as a slave. But because he was true and faithful, the movements of God eventually brought him to a place of power and a place of fruitfulness. See Moses, tending the sheep, and suddenly apprehended of God to become a mighty deliverer.
What are we to learn from all this? That it is not in the halls of learning, that we come to know God. That it is not in kings palaces, that we are groomed for a place on the throne. That it is not in the realm of politics that we learn the ways of spiritual rule and authority. That it is not according to the strategy of natural warfare, that we learn the secrets of spiritual combat. Rather, that IT IS IN THE ORDINARY PURSUIT OF DAILY LIVING, ACCORDING TO THE PLAN AND PURPOSE OF GOD... RIGHT THERE ON THE JOB PERFORMING FAITH-FULLY UNTO OUR MASTER, AS UNTO THE LORD, THAT WE WILL BE ACCOUNTED FAITHFUL TO BE HEIRS OF THE HEAVENLY KINGDOM.
Little did Rebekah know or understand that in saying out of the kindness of her heart, "I will draw for your camels also," that she was there and then, standing by the well, qualifying herself to become the bride of the chosen seed through whom all nations to the end of time were to be blessed! But she passed a test that she didnt know she was taking, because in living the right way everyday she had partaken of those qualities of love and mercy and tenderness that would make her to be a faithful and compatible bride for the one who was to inherit all nations.
An Engagement Ring From Isaac
"And it came to pass, as the camels had done drinking, that the man took a golden earring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold; and said, Whose daughter are thou? Tell me, I pray thee ?" (Gen. 24:23).
Gold for her ears, and gold for her hands... signifying that she was to have an ear to hear her masters voice, and hands to do his bidding. And as she ran home to tell her mother and her brother, the man stood there with bowed head and worshipped the Lord... for His great faithfulness and mercy in leading him in the right way.
When Gods servant is committed to do Gods will, in Gods way, in Gods time (for all these elements are essential in this matter of doing the will of God)... then he cannot fail to be in the right place, at the right time, and to see Gods glory unveiled in that which He has ordained. For in this kind of commitment he is not wandering to and fro in the earth, looking for a place of rest, and thinking to find it in the works of his hands. Rather, he begins to comprehend that he is locked into the purposes of God and moving along in the streams of those purposes. He refuses to yield to the pressure of the times, the pressure of the world about him, or the pressure of well-meaning people in the Church; and he finds a new assurance and confidence in earnestly desiring to do the will of God. To please the Lord becomes his highest desire... perhaps we should say, his only desire. When he is tempted to take the brush in his own hand, to see if somehow he could fill in the blank spots on the canvas... he hesitates, and draws back, lest he mar the Masters handiwork in his ignorance. He chooses rather to stand back, and see how the picture may unfold.
The Servant Tells The Whole Story
"And he said, I am Abrahams servant. And the LORD hath blessed my master greatly, and he is become great: and He hath given him flocks, and herds, and silver, and gold, and menservants, and maidservants, and camels, and asses. And Sarah my masters wife bare a son to my master when she was old: and unto him hath he given all that he hath. And my master made me swear, saying, Thou shalt not take a wife to my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I dwell: but thou shalt go unto my fathers house, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son" (Gen. 24:34-38).
With his mission accomplished thus far the servant tells the whole story to Rebekahs brother and her mother, and simply waits for their decision. "I have faithfully done what Abraham told me to do... God has been faithful to do what I had no way of doing and brought Rebekah into the picture... now what is your answer?" And the reply was simply, "The thing proceedeth from the LORD... take her and go."
We are emphasizing a lot the faithfulness of Abrahams servant, and how zealous he was to do simply and only what his master told him to do... no more, and no less. I am convinced God is not going to tolerate the unfaithfulness we see everywhere in the Church of this hour, in those who feel they have the right, because of their calling and their ministry, to move out "by faith" and get involved with all kinds of worthy projects that God has not authorized them to do. In doing so they are actually distorting and marring the beautiful work that God has in mind. We know Gods plan will not fail, so we do not get overly disturbed about all this; for God knows how and when to crumple the earthen vessel in His hands, and "make it again another vessel, as seems good to the potter to make it" (Jer. 18:4).
Gods Part And Our Part
Let us clearly understand what "our part" is in this whole matter of serving the Lord. Our part is to discover Gods will, and then do it... by His anointing and direction. Our part is not to make the vessel. It is rather to so yield ourselves to Him, that we might be an instrument that God can use. All we can ever do is mar the vessel. And when this happens we cannot expect the Potter will come along and take over where we left off and fix it up a little. He does not bring forth nice new patches to mend the worn-out garments of our own righteousness. He does not try to plug the cracks in the old wine-bottles. Rather, HE MAKES A NEW ONE!
Let us understand the message of the marred pot... the message of the old garment... the message of the old wine-skin. If we do, then rather than being discouraged at the devastation He would bring us to, we can find the courage to rise up again, and seek the will of God afresh, and learn to do His will more effectively.
Jesus the True Servant said: "I can of Mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and My judgment is just; because I seek not Mine own will but the will of the Father which hath sent Me" (Jn. 5:30). Strange, isnt it, that men can do so many wonderful things because of their great abilities and talents... and Jesus could do NOTHING! Why? Because in His commitment to do the Fathers will He was so apprehended of the Father that there was no place for His own desires to enter the picture. He walked this way that you and I, who are able to do so many wonderful things, may rejoice when He brings it all to nought, and begins to fashion us after His own will. When will Gods servants begin to comprehend that as they speak out from themselves, out from their own knowledge and their own understanding, and that in doing their own thing, they are in reality seeking glory for themselves:
"He that speaketh of [out from] himself seeketh his own glory; but he that seeketh His glory that sent him, the same is true" (Jn. 7:18).
Abrahams servant did explicitly what his master told him to do; and then God was faithful to interlace his act of obedience into the beautiful garment of His own purposes. Only God can do that. We hear a lot about Gods part and our part; and it is often presented as if God starts His work going, and then turns it over to His servants to do their part. It is not quite that way. My part is to do only what God lays upon me to do... and I can only do it as He does it through me. He only asks me to carry the burden which I find when I come into union with Him, and come under His yoke.
He is the Potter; we are but the clay that He would fashion for His glory. To be the right kind of clay is all He asks... to become yielded and pliable in His hands, to be molded as He sees fit.
He is the Master Artist; we are but the canvas... to be surrendered into His hands, and to receive the color that comes from His brush.
He is the Sculptor; we are but the rock... perhaps hard and impenetrable... but yielded to the blow of the hammer and chisel we find ourselves coming forth in His own image and likeness.
He is the Architect and Builder; we are the building that He would join together--timber upon timber, stone upon stone that we might be builded together for "a habitation of God by the Spirit."
He is the Gardener; we are the garden. We are but the dirt. He desires only that we become the "good soil" He is looking for... as we permit Him to do the cultivating, and to sow the good seed of Truth within us... and then to water, and to weed, and to prune as He sees fit.
The servants part was not in any sense something additional to Abrahams part... it was -really one and the same thing. Jesus said, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work " (Jn. 5:17). Only as He saw the Father working was He able to work. Only as He heard the Father speak, would He speak; for then it would be the Fathers words and not His own. Otherwise He would have been seeking His own glory.
The Servant, A True Worshipper
"And it came to pass, that, when Abrahams servant heard their words, he worshipped the LORD, bowing himself to the earth" (Gen. 24:52).
Worship has come to mean something you do in church. But true worship is not something you do in church any more than in any other place. If worship is genuine it is something that becomes your whole way of life.
"But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth" (Jn. 4:23, 24).
The man that Jesus healed who was born blind was considered by the Jews to be rather ignorant, but he taught them a very wonderful thing about worship:
"Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth His will, him He heareth" (Jn. 9:31).
God is earnestly desiring "true worshippers"... not merely a congregation of people who "know how to do it." Abrahams servant didnt learn how to do it; but he did learn strict obedience to his master Abraham, and partook of some of his qualities and he, too, became a "true worshipper." He had observed worship in the life of Abraham. He knew how his master had worshipped the Lord all his days, as he moved about in obedience to God, and how he erected an altar unto the Lord wherever he went. And he most certainly knew about the altar on Mount Moriah where Abraham, in a supreme act of worship, laid his son Isaac on the altar... and how God met him there in that great act of obedience to the will of God. (See Gen. 22:5.) He knew how worship had become a way of life for Abraham, whether it was at Bethel, in the Negeb, at Hebron, or at Moriah. It was not an art, or a method... it was a way of life. He had become a "worshipper."
So with Job. When things went well, and he prospered, he worshipped God. When calamity struck, and God took it all away in one devastating stroke, Job tore his clothes, not in anger against God or man, but in "worship." Strange way to worship God? Not really, when you understand what worship is. It is an act of total submission to the will of God... total denial of any right on our part to resist what our God is doing. It is giving God glory and humble obeisance in all our ways... because we know He is always right, and He is always worthy.
"Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped" (Job 1:20).
Our whole way of life, and our gatherings together in church fellowship, are going to change drastically when Gods people become "worshippers." For we cannot "worship the Father in spirit and in truth" until we become worshippers... until we begin to walk in Truth, and in the Spirit.
God make us to be "true worshippers"... a people so totally committed to God, so totally apprehended by the desire to do His will, that we worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth, morning, noon, and night... day by day, and everyday... in what we say, in what we do, in what we are!
Gifts For Rebekah And For Her Family
"And the servant brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment, and gave them to Rebekah: he gave also to her brother and to her mother precious things" (Gen. 24:53).
God has special gifts for His Bride... gifts of gold, and silver, and of raiment.
Jewels of Silver. Silver speaks of our redemption, because we too are "bought with a price." But the price is not the silver and the gold of this world. It is nothing less than the precious blood of the Lord Jesus. We are not our own... we are His, at the great cost of His blood (1 Pet. 1:19).
Now if this be so, why do we take it for granted so often that we have a right to choose our way? It is not our option to go here and there... to preach or not to preach -- to build or not to build... to enlarge or not to enlarge. We are not our own. We belong to Another.
We assume too much as servants of the Lord. The reason, very often, is because of our ignorance of Gods ways. We just assume that God always wants enlargement... He always wants increase... He always wants expansion. And the reason we think this way is because our thoughts are so different from Gods, and our ways from His.
Surely our God doeth great and marvelous things, and there is enlargement and fruitfulness. But when Jeshurun "waxes fat," as Israel did and as the Church has done, it is time once again for God to come on the scene and call together a "little flock," a small remnant, a crippled army... and bring them back to the simplicity of church life and practice, and do still another "new thing" in the earth. Surely we have come to such an hour! Surely, once again, the time to favor Zion, "yea, the set time, is come" (Ps. 102:13).
Jewels of Gold. Gold speaks of Divine nature and character. But to bring forth the gold God must lead us into trial and testing. He must lead us through pathways in the wilderness. He must lead us into places of confinement, to prison-houses of His discipline. The gold is there if you truly love Him and desire to do His will. But He wants to remove the dross, all the human element, all the human ambitions, all the human zeal, all the desire for success and achievement. If you and I truly walk in His ways, we are going to stumble into the fire. At least it may appear to us that we accidentally stumbled into it. But if we accept it as from Him, we will come forth out of it again, "A vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the Masters use, and prepared unto every good work" (2 Tim. 2:21).
And Raiment. Rebekah got her engagement ring at the well, and we can be sure she was excited about that. But there is much more to a wedding than to have an engagement ring. There are beautiful garments that God wants us to wear. These garments are brought to us by the Servant, from Fathers House. Because He wants us to live the life of the heavenly realm down here:
"Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God" (Col. 3:2, 3).
These garments are not woven by our hand -but by His. We have to know that what God requires of us He also provides. He it is who makes our garments. Of course as He would weave the threads of His will into our lives, we must make way for it. But the grace is His, and the humility is His, and the gentleness and the meekness and the patience... it is all of Him; and as He begins to weave these virtues into the fabric of our lives they become, like the garments of the priests in Israel"garments for glory and for beauty."
"Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering, forbearing one another and forgiving one another." And then He says, tie it all together with love: "And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness" (Col. 3:12-14).
Our old garments are the old man... and so Paul tells us to "put off the old man with his deeds, and put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him" (Col. 3:9, 10). So it is His creative work in our lives that brings forth these beautiful garments of His righteousness.
It has been the ceaseless struggle of Gods people to somehow discover the secret of putting off the old man, and putting on the new. The understanding of Gods way to do it I think is clear enough in the Scriptures. We must reckon the old man to be dead unto sin... for that is what God did with the old man at the Cross. He was crucified there with Christ on the Cross. But how to so effectively "reckon" the old man to be dead that he acts like he is dead, has been a ceaseless struggle in the hearts of Gods people. I am convinced the problem is more than somehow just trying to theologically know and understand what Jesus accomplished at the Cross. Now the Holy Spirit is the One who effectually ministers in our lives all that Jesus accomplished in His great work of redemption. The secret, then, is to have the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and in our gatherings together in His Name. I am convinced this is the real problem. He wants to be Lord in our lives, and in our midst when we assemble together; and He is not being given His Lordship. He it is who bears constant witness to the cleansing of the blood, and the cleansing of our conscience. He it is who applies the blood of Christ, by "the washing of water by the Word." Like the dove that flew away from Noahs ark, she could find no place for the sole of her foot to rest, and had to return to the ark until the waters had abated. Paul speaks about the grief of the Holy Spirit. He is easily grieved... and cannot long abide where there is carnality, self-will, and rebellion. We must with great longings and yearnings for His presence invite Him back, and make way for His return in humility and repentance. The sad part of it is that all over the land the precious Dove of Gods abiding presence has flown away from our churches... and in most cases they do not even know He has gone!
These precious gifts that Abrahams servant brought forth glorified his master, not himself; for they were brought to the bride from the house Abraham. Would that Gods people, and especially His ministry-servants, could see this! It is not in our option, it is not of our choosing, how we may glorify the Lord Jesus. It is only as we are enabled by the Holy Spirit to bring forth treasures from the heart of God and to weave the beautiful garments of His righteousness into the lives of His people that our Lord Jesus is truly glorified. I wish I could emphasize this more:
"He shall glorify Me: FOR HE SHALL RECEIVE OF MINE, AND SHALL SHEW IT UNTO YOU..."
It is only glorifying to the Lord Jesus if it is SOMETHING THAT PROCEEDS FROM THE TREASURES OF GOD.
"All things that the Father hath are Mine: therefore said I, that He shall take of Mine, and shall shew it unto you" (Jn. 16:15).
The cute things we can say and do... the entertainment that we can offer... the eloquent sermons that we might prepare... we might sincerely profess we are doing it all to glorify the Lord; but God says we only glorify the Lord when we take of His treasures, and bestow them upon His people.
"WILT THOU GO WITH THIS MAN?" "And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go" (Gen. 24:58).
God had sovereignly worked together all the details involved in this matter of choosing a bride for Isaac. The servants jealousy for his masters welfare had brought forth from his heart a deep and sincere prayer for guidance and direction. God honored his prayer and his faithfulness, and brought Rebekah across his pathway. She, unknowingly, had qualified to become this worthy bride not simply because she had said the right words to the servant, but because she had developed these qualities through years of training and upbringing: qualities of grace, of kindness, of gentleness, of generosity, and of concern for others. Her mother and her brother were likewise deeply impressed with the words and the deportment of Abrahams servant, and they had to admit, "The Lord is in all of this."
Now there was a temptation to delay proceedings. "Let the damsel abide with us a few days, at the least ten." The number "ten" is recognized in the Scriptures as a number of "test" and of "trial." Here the test is: "Can we not delay this journey for a few days?"
Let us be clear in our hearts regarding this matter of "waiting." We emphasize much this matter of waiting for God. But the true servant that has a waiting heart is quick to respond to the desire of his Master. Waiting for God is not a case of slothfulness, unconcern, indifference, neglect. We wait for direction, for counsel, for guidance... and sometimes we must wait long, and suffer long. But when He speaks, we must be quick to respond. The waiting heart is quick to respond. The waiting heart is faithfully doing the will of God, as he patiently waits for Him. The impatient heart is slow to come to a true spirit of waiting, and therefore slow to comprehend what the voice of God is all about. The brethren of Jesus, who urged Him to action, were "always ready" to do things. But with Jesus it mattered whether or not God was ready. "Your time is always ready, but My time is not yet come." When His time came He was quick to respond, quick to do the Fathers bidding. Being quick to act on our own initiative might produce quick results, but it does not bring about a true unfolding of the working of God in our lives, or in the lives of those whom we seek to help.
We must emphasize this matter of waiting for God and for His times to unfold... because it is only in the pathway of the perfect will of God that we are going to see the heavens opening and responding to the needs and to the cries of the earth. Those who urge quick action and spurn the thought of waiting for God do not find themselves apprehended of God in the day when His sovereign purposes begin to coincide with men of faith and of patience. This coincidence of the heavenly with the earthly is that which dominates the Biblical account of the heroes of faith in both the Old Testament and in the New. It is no haphazard thing that we can manipulate. It happens when men and women walk in the ways of the Lord... seeking Him, waiting for Him, and pursuing a life of total submission and obedience to the will of God. They do not miss God. They cannot miss God. Because as they walk in His way God has determined a meeting place with them in the very pathway in which He is leading them. He waits for them there, that He might visit them... in a cave, in a prison cell, in a ship tossed about on an ocean, at a threshing floor, near the winepress, or in a burning bush. If we knew where He was going to meet us, we would take a shortcut and rush there at once... but we would not find Him, for then we would be there ahead of Him. It is only after we have done the will of God, and have learned patience, that we may expect and anticipate the opening of the heavens, and the shining forth of His presence.
Abrahams servant replied: "Hinder me not, seeing the Lord hath prospered my way. And they said, We will call the damsel, and inquire at her mouth. And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go" (Gen. 24:56-58). The waiting heart is a prepared heart... and is quick to respond to the will of God.
Man says, and generally the Church will agree, that to be effective and successful one must be energetic, ambitious, innovative, zealous, powerful... and have the wealth behind you to make it work.
But God says, if you want to be fruitful in His Kingdom you must be like a seed that would fall into the ground and die...
THE JOURNEY OF THE BRIDE
There are so many who teach that the meeting of Christ with His Bride is to be the greatest kidnap mystery story in history; that suddenly, without warning, the people of God are to be kidnapped from their daily, routine tasks of life, and taken away to be the Bride of Christ... whisked away to enjoy a life of ease while the world suffers the torments and agonies of suffering under the wrath of God. Dont misunderstand me... we are to be "caught up to meet the Lord in the air".... but this is not presented in the Scriptures as something that takes the waiting heart by surprise; and it is very clearly stated that it will happen "at the Last Trump" (1 Cor. 15.52; 1 Thess. 4:16).
The journey of the Bride of Christ is a journey to the heart of God; and it must begin now. When we finally see Him ("whom not having seen we love") it is because all along the journey our eyes are fixed upon Him. At every bend in the road we are hoping to see Him approaching; for He too is anticipating this great meeting, and He comes to meet us. There are aspects about the coming of the Lord that will remain obscure to us... until it happens. God sees fit to keep it this way. If the servant was to tell Rebekah, "I think you will see your master on the seventeenth day of Chislev," this would be something out of his own heart, and entirely irrelevant to the journey. Rebekah said in effect, "I will go with the man... and I will go NOW." Her preparation was in no way determined by some inside knowledge that one of the servants may have had, that Isaacs bride would be home on such and such a day.
Pauls great concern was, "Lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ" (2 Cor. 11:3). The word "simplicity" speaks of singleness of heart and mind, one without dissimulation and self-seeking. The Serpent would ever seek to corrupt, to change what God said, to adjust the Word a little here and there to make it pleasing to the eyes, something that appears to be good to eat, something that would give one a sense of being "wise." The desire for wisdom and knowledge has captured the minds of many; and from the beginning of the Church, men have been overcome with the temptation to search out the times and the seasons (which God has reserved in His own heart) and to come up with dates that they think they have discovered when certain events are supposed to happen.
But the Bride of Christ, who has singleness of heart, is content to "go with the Man"... and from that day on continues to look for His appearing. Every step of the camel journey brings us closer and closer to Him. Along the journey the Man will tell us many things about the Master that will delight our hearts and increase our longing for Him. But because the servant has been given a charge he will be very careful not to project anything in the conversation that might detract from the glory of the Master. He will say nothing that might somehow win her affection for himself, or in any way distract her from her one objective of knowing Him, and seeing Him.
And if this was so with Abrahams servant and Rebekah, we can be sure God will be no less selective as He chooses His servants to minister to the Bride of His Son.
"And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them" (Gen. 24:60). We are not to read into this verse any specific numbers of the seed of Isaac and Rebekah. Another translation simply says, tens of thousands The word used for "millions" refers to a very large number... the same word that is used for Davids victory over the Philistines: "David hath slain his... ten thousands." Knowingly or not, Rebekahs brother and her mother were prophesying something that God had already promised Abraham: "Thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed My voice" (Gen. 22:18). Contained in the promise is the mystery, not yet revealed, that the Seed was Christ who would come from Isaacs line... through whom redemption would flow to the ends of the earth. Inherent in the blessing was the promise of the Holy Spirit, "That we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith" (Gal. 3:29). Peter tells us that the blessing of Abraham was that men should be turned away from their "iniquities" (Acts 3:26). And Paul reminds us that Abraham received the covenant of circumcision AFTER Abraham had received the promise, and not before... so that Abraham might become the father of uncircumcised Gentiles as well as the father of circumcised Israelites. In either case, faith was made to be the basis for their inclusion into the family of Abraham. (See Rom. 4:10-12.) In this way Abraham would become literally "THE HEIR OF THE WORLD"... and not just heir of a tiny portion of land that pertained to the twelve tribes of Israel. Strange, is it not, that zealous Messianic Jews should feel we are trying to steal away their inheritance in the land of Canaan. If they only could believe what the apostle was saying: God has the whole WORLD for you, if you have Abrahams faith! For the true Seed of Abraham (even Christ) has inherited all things... not only in the heavens, but in the earth as well. For the Father has given unto His Son "All that He hath." (See Rom. 4:13.)
"And thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies" (Gen. 22:17; 24:60).
But before Israel the nation, or spiritual Israel the Church, begins to war against their enemies, they need a further revelation from God as to who their enemies are. What a revelation it is to the human heart to discover that our enemies are not out there in the world... men of other nations, or men in our own country who abuse us or misuse us. Nor are they the people in the Church that may despise us, and do contrary things to our fretting hearts. Once we discover that our real enemies are those seven abominable nations in our own hearts that would rise up and seek to hinder our journey to the heart of God, then we have discovered the key to freedom. Then we can boast, "O heart of mine, who is he that can harm you, if you be a follower of that which is good...?" We discover that the foe is within, and that we must learn to "overcome evil with good." We discover that every ingenious method that we might use to overcome evil might fail, but that "love never faileth." What a different outlook we have, once we find ourselves "in Christ."
The slave discovers he is suddenly a free man; and the slave-owner discovers he is under bonds, as a slave to Christ.
The rich man discovers how poor he really is; and the poor man discovers he is rich, with the riches of Heaven.
The wise man discovers how foolish he has been; and the fool discovers the true wisdom of the Cross, the wisdom that cometh from above.
The mighty man discovers his weakness; and the weak can boast, "I am strong in the Lord."
The proud man is humbled to the dust; and the humble man is exalted with Christ to sit in "heavenly places."
And then, all together, they rejoice in the victory they have come into as they submit themselves unto Him, as prisoners of His love and grace. For He imprisoned them all, that He might have mercy upon all. And in their defeat they discover the victory that Jacob discovered at the waters of the Jabbok, when he saw the face of God and was crippled and defeated that he might walk in the strength of the Lord, as a Prince of God. An overcomer at last! Because he had been overcome by the mighty touch of God!
We have been talking about our "enemies" that would harass and torment us from within. But what about our "enemies" from without? About these we are not to be unduly concerned. "Vengeance is Mine" saith the Lord. He will deal with them in His own way, in His own time; for all His enemies are to be subdued under His feet. In the meantime, God has seen fit to leave these enemies in the world; for they pose no threat to the Kingdom of God. In fact church history has shown that when those enemies out there are the strongest and the most violent, then it is that the most illustrious of her warriors radiate triumph and victory. Then it is that the Church of Christ marches forward in great strides, and puts the enemies of the Lord to flight... clothed upon with the whole armor of God.
The Camels Are Coming
"And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming. And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel. For she had said unto the servant, What man is this that walketh in the field to meet us? And the servant had said, It is my master: therefore she took a veil, and covered herself" (Gen. 24:63-65).
The word "camel" has the meaning of burden-bearing; but it also has a meaning that implies "to treat one well" or to "render a benefit" to someone.
Blessed is that person who comes to that place in his walk with the Lord when he can truly say, "The Lord knoweth the way that I take... when I am tried I shall come forth as gold." In the trial we are very conscious of the burden... and less conscious of the benefit that God has promised would come out of it. This is all part of the journey to the heart of God. Before the trial there may be a certain knowledge of God; but Job describes it as a "hear-say" knowledge. "I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth Thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:5,6). Repent of what, when he was a good and righteous man even in Gods estimation? Repent of how he could blame God for the way God had led him, rather than understanding that Gods intention was to do him good at his latter end.
God has provided our means of transportation to His own heart, and it is not of our choosing, but His. The Servant is in charge of the journey, and He knows the way that we take; for He has come from the heart of God, to take us back to the heart of God. Once we find ourselves caught or apprehended by the ways of God there is at the same time a feeling of great helplessness, and yet a feeling of great assurance. Where is this Way taking me? What lies before? I cannot begin to calculate and plan anymore, much as I may feel I would like to. But then we remember that in pursuing our own way in the past we always wandered off into tangled pathways that led us nowhere. We remember how the pleasant pathway that deviated a little from the pilgrim way led only to Doubting Castle and to the beatings of Giant Despair with his crab-tree cudgel. And having discovered through experience that His way is the best, we return to His rest, and are more content to know that we are being carried to our destination on the back of a faithful Burden Bearer, and that the Servant knows the way home.
The camel used to be called "the ship of the desert." I recall how one man described the sensation he had riding a camel; he said it felt as if he were in a ship, tossed about on the waves. But be assured... the camels of Gods provision are suited for the wilderness journeys of life. The destination is certain because the Servant is in charge. His eye is fixed; and we must always let Him be in charge. He will be faithful. He would not delay our departure from home even for ten days... and He will waste no time along the way. Nor will He allow us to be tested and tried beyond what we are able to bear. He must stop at times to give us seasons of rest and refreshing. When He does, let us not condemn ourselves with the thought that "we are going nowhere... we are just standing still." And then as we travel, let us not complain: "I dont think I can stand this kind of a journey any longer...I seem to be tossed about like a boat on the waves. On and on He carries us, and restless though we may be, let us understand that He too is restless until He has fulfilled His mission, and brought us safely to our Isaac in Canaan. For God has declared: "For Zions sake will I not hold My peace, and for Jerusalems sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth" (Isa. 61:1). His jealousy for a holy Bride is very great.
It is said of Israel that God bore them along on "eagles wings" as He brought them forth out of Egyptian bondage. Nevertheless, to them it was a very grievous journey, and one that was fraught with hunger and thirst and many trials. But their real problem was not God and His ways; it was their own stubborn and rebellious hearts which caused them to fret and to murmur, rather than to trust and to obey.
God leads us in a way that we know not; but the camels know it. They have come from the Master, and they will return to the Master... but with the Bride along with them. Let us not look upon the camels as an instrument in Gods hands to make our journey rough and tiring and burdensome... but as the Word from the Father, working in our lives... a Word that will not return to God empty or void. For this Word will bring back to the heart of God His chosen Bride. The camels will not go astray, and wander off into an endless, entangled wilderness way. They are harnessed for the journey, to ensure that they will keep to the highway that leads home. The camels are "girded" with a harness that causes them to go the right way. God has promised He would not allow us to be tempted beyond that which we are able to endure. The camels are "girded" or held in restraint, so that they will keep to the appointed pathway of God. So are the people of God to have their loins "girt about with truth" (Eph. 6:14). The girdle of truth is part of our armor, part of our harness, to hold us in restraint, lest we wander off in pathways that are not relevant to the journey, and to keep us from doing as we please. The Old Testament priest was likewise girded with "the curious girdle of the ephod." Gods Word in our lives will keep us from suddenly bolting off in some alien pathway in a moment of stress and trial. He consistently restrains us by His hand; and as He does, we may fret a little under the constraint, and long to be free. But when we come to know Him a little better we thank Him for the restraint, and we begin to realize that what seemed to be bondage was indeed Gods way of causing us to walk in freedom. That fretful spirit in the hearts of men that causes them to wander to and fro in the earth looking for some kind of spiritual fulfillment, is not of God. If God is leading us in new ways, as He did with Abraham... and as He does with all those whose hearts yearn for the City of God... surely He is faithful to give us rest and assurance along the way. We know He is leading, but we know not the way; but every step of the journey should bring within us that assurance that "today" I am in the will of God, if we are girded with Truth. Many of Gods people have failed to have their "loins girt about with truth" and are hoping that eventually they will find some geographic location in the earth where they may settle and find some sense of spiritual fulfillment. But this will not come until we are first spiritually located in the will of God, and are "harnessed" with the Truth. This girdle of Truth will cause you to be steadfast, constant, faithful, righteous, patient. Your job may not be entirely to your liking... and we all experience that. But we must be thankful for whatever task God has given us to do, and be faithful in that. Who knows? God may have something in mind for the future that is more appropriate, and more suited to our abilities.
Only as one remains girded with the girdle of truth will we know what it is to walk in the freedom of the Lord. Without it we might feel we are free for a season... but the old bondage will return. It is only as we come under the constraint of the Lord that we will know and experience true freedom. The camels of our journey are harnessed and constrained to travel in the pathway of God. Freedom to go our own way is not freedom, but bondservice to sin and self; and God does not intend the bondslave to inhabit this temple forever. "But the Son abideth ever" (Jn. 8:35). "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" (Jn. 8:36). But we are only "free indeed," and we only find true rest, as we come under His yoke.
The camels are Gods provision to bring us out of the old land, and into the new. It is the Truth that makes one free, but only as we walk in the Way of the Lord. And it is a wilderness way, because our carnal natures are that wilderness; and God must lead us out of the old life, before we can enter the rest of His own heart. Our hearts and our minds are that wilderness, and the journey through it, grievous though it may seem to be, is intended of the Lord to give us rest and to bring us home. The land of our "nativity" is not our true home. We are born in a strange and foreign land, and God wants to bring us home. It is only because our hearts are alienated from Him that the way seems to be a grievous one. Jesus delighted to do the Fathers will, because He loved God so much He knew Gods way was the best. Paul was able to say, "I glory in tribulations also" because he knew the end result of tribulation was patience, and experience, and hope... and that this continual working of God in his life would bring about a full expression of the Love of God flowing through him. By nature we are alienated from God, and far from His heart; and the journey home is a long one. I do not mean it must take a long time. If we would quickly learn His ways, the journey would be much shorter. But it is a spiritual journey; and it is long and grievous because of the tangled wilderness areas of our carnal natures that seek to hinder that cultivating process of God in our lives that God intends for the weeding, and the tilling, and the sowing of His Word and Truth. God wants to make the wilderness of our lives, and the solitary place, to rejoice, and to "blossom as the rose." And in all of this He is bearing us, He is carrying us along on "eagles wings," but because of our fretting hearts, and our ignorance, we think He is driving us into thorny hedges. Rather, He is seeking to remove us from the land of our nativity, that is watered by the rivers of the old nature... and into a new land... that flows with refreshing streams, and with milk, and honey, and oil, and new wine.
Rebekahs birthplace was in Mesopotamia, which means "between the rivers." The land of our nativity is watered by the streams of the old life; and God wants to remove us from there to dwell in a new land, the land of Canaan, to be watered by the River of Life... those living streams that proceed out from the throne of God and of the Lamb.
"How far is it yet to the land of Canaan?" we keep asking along the way, like children starting out on a long journey to another city. And He replies, "Keep watching, keep looking for Him... you will know Him when you see Him in the fields, coming to meet us." For He is far more anxious to receive us into union with Himself, than we are to receive Him. His desire is for us; and He chose us not for our sakes only, but for His. We only delight in Him because He first delighted in us. We have been called and chosen "according to the good pleasure of His will"; and the purpose is: "that we might be to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He bath made us accepted in the Beloved" (Eph. 1:6).
"And the servant told Isaac all things that he had done. And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarahs tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her... "(Gen. 24:66, 67).
"And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And He saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb" (Rev. 19:8, 9).
What Man Is This?
"What man is this?" Rebekah had asked the servant. It appears she had noticed him before the servant did. She was "looking for him" and when the time came for his appearing, she saw him. She was not caught unawares; nor shall the Bride of Christ be caught unawares. For "ye... are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief." It is the hope of His appearing that purifies us, and that prepares us, and that gives us that sense of awareness that He is at the door.
"Therefore she took a veil and covered herself." It was an act of humility in the presence of her master; also an act of respect and honor. She was not of the feminist crowd... out to rob Isaac of his headship. And yet in union with him she would suddenly become the heir of all things that Isaac had. Rebellion is self-will; and it really indicates a refusal to come under subjection to anything or anybody. In Gods order EVERYBODY comes under subjection to someone else; and this is what makes for peace and contentment in the home, in the society, or in the heavenly realm. Children are subject to their parents; wives to their husbands; husbands unto Christ; and Christ unto God. Even in Heaven the seraphim, one of the highest and most exalted of the heavenly order, modestly cover their faces with their wings, as they stand before the throne. The most gifted and the most blessed of Gods creatures are generally those who are most afflicted with the sin of rebellion; and it springs from pride. They look at themselves and see what glory and greatness they have come to, and the temptation arises to think in their hearts, "See how great I am... See what I have done..." How can that feeling arise in any creature that is totally dependent upon God for any beauty, any greatness, any virtue, or any power that he may have? Simply and only because for a moment he sees himself no longer as totally dependent upon, and as subject to the One who sustains him. He sees himself as someone great in his own independent self, someone distinct and apart. Lucifer, one of the most exalted of the heavenly hosts, the "son of the morning," looking at himself and the glory he had, said, "I will be like the Most High." Korah and Dathan and Abiram had an exalted place in Israel in the service of the tabernacle... but they looked to themselves and to their importance, and withdrew from the authority of Moses and Aaron because they wanted to be on top. Adonijah was a prince in Israel, but he wanted to be king. Absalom also was a prince, and a very handsome and lordly one... but he didnt like the idea of being a little lower than anyone else. There are elders in the flock of God who in their role as leaders are supposed to minister truth and love and righteousness. When they do so the saints of God rejoice in being subject to them. And the true servant-ministry, like Abrahams servant, will anticipate the day when their Rebekah will alight from the camel and into the arms of her Isaac. That is his only purpose in ministry, to bring her to that place where she is totally devoted to her Master. But when the servant begins to rule selfishly, and becomes jealous for his own authority and glory, then there is confusion. Rulership in the house of God is only effective and true and liberating as Gods servants come under total subjection to Christ. When the servant demands respect because he feels he has a higher office than the others, he there and then weakens, rather than strengthens, whatever authority he may have had for the edifying of the Body of Christ. Rulership in the House of God is only effective and liberating as each individual, according to his calling in Christ, comes under total subjection to the Lord in our midst.
Subjection is Gods way for His people... to make way for the flow of His anointing and power from the Throne. It is not intended to be a hierarchy in the Church... but a channel for the flow of grace from the Throne. In the broader sense "submission" is something we are all to practice: "Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God" (Eph. 5:21). If we truly desire to be under Christ, and have hearing ears, we will hear that word of admonition that comes to us from the Lord... no matter how insignificant that vessel might seem to be in the natural. But more specifically, God establishes a certain order in the family and in the Church because there are varying degrees of maturity that require the oversight of stronger vessels.., not to dominate the weaker ones, but to strengthen them in the faith and in the love of God. "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord; for the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church" (Eph. 5:22, 23). But the emphasis is on the authority of Love that springs from this relationship: "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it" (vs. 25). Gods order is beautiful, and it works and it is life-giving and effective. Children in subjection to parents, the wife in subjection to husband, the husband in subjection to Christ, and Christ in subjection to God. And you will notice, in Gods order, He does not insert the "elders" or other ministries in this order of "submission": "The head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God" (1 Cor. 11:3). These ministries are contravening Gods order when they assume what has been called a "husband ministry" over the Church, and meddle with ones relationship with the Lord. Their true ministry, like that of the apostle Paul, will be simply and only to so minister Christ that they might present Gods people "as a chaste virgin to Christ"... and not to themselves first, and then to Christ. This kind of interference has brought about many broken homes, and devastated lives.
Quite obviously there is a horrible breakdown of Gods order in the Church... and in the home. How could we separate these, for the Church is but a congregation composed of many homes? Gods order has been violated, and it all springs from a spirit of rebellion that has characterized this age. The children seek "liberation" from parents; the wife from husband; and the husband from Christ. But God calls it rebellion. Thank God for the Son who maintains total allegiance to the Father, even now while He reigns with all power in Heaven and in earth at His disposal. He still abides in faithful submission to the heavenly Father. He still delights to do the Fathers will, and not His own. (See 1 Cor. 15:27.) And while He abides in this beautiful realm of priestly ministry, He continues to intercede for His people... that God might be glorified in them, and that the love of the Father which is in Him, might also be manifest in His people (Jn. 17:26). Now it is not our purpose here to add to the many writings that have been circulated, by way of giving counsel to devastated lives; besides, it is evident that many Christians are not prepared to go Gods way if it involves any kind of suffering. But we do want to encourage Gods people who have known devastation in their lives because of a broken home or a broken church fellowship. God does have an answer that will bring peace to every troubled heart, if you are truly committed to go Gods way, regardless of the suffering that might be involved. But we cannot expect to find Gods answer as long as we hold in our hearts certain reservations concerning the will of God: like, "I want Your will, Lord... but not if You will not let me do what I want..." No, we would not blatantly say that to God, but be assured He reads what your heart is saying, whether you speak it or not. The pursuit of happiness is considered to be the American dream. But when it comes to the things of God let us understand what God considers to be true happiness. It is that assurance and that motion of the heart that comes when we are totally committed to go Gods way. It was the supreme happiness of the Lord Jesus that His total delight was in doing the will of the Father.
Self-will and rebellion is the mark of this age, and it is evident both in the world and in the Church that we are fast approaching a state of total anarchy. We have "government" and "authority" everywhere... but how much of it carries with it true, God-given authority. Many of Gods people are entangled in webs of confusion and of bondage from which there seems to be no deliverance; and the world and the Church are equally filled with broken homes, more and more church splits and divisions, and more and more counseling services to deal with all this. BUT IN SPITE OF ALL THIS, OUR PROBLEMS CONTINUE TO INCREASE AND OVERWHELM THE CHURCH OF GOD. God has some very good "counsel" for this Laodicean age... but as long as we think we can handle it ourselves, God will let us go ahead, and multiply our counseling services in the Church, rather than pay heed to the "counsel" that He offers. Great will be the judgments and the devastation that God will bring, as He deals with the spirit of rebellion that is in the world, and in the Church. But out of it all God is going to bring forth a willing people in the Day of His power. He is going to have a people that will function in their homes and in the Church according to a new Law: "The Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus." And for this we must believe, and pray, and hope, and wait...
The Servant Told It All
"And the servant told Isaac all things that he had done...."
Abraham had told his servant explicitly what he was to do. The true servant of God will know explicitly what he is to do if he is truly walking in obedience... if he is earnestly seeking to go Gods way. There will be times of uncertainty; but let these times lead us into greater and greater heart-searching and seeking of God. For God is committed to show us His way if we are totally committed to walk in it. But a divided heart in this will leave us in confusion.
Let the awesomeness of the role of Abrahams servant strike all of our hearts with godly fear. When he returned home to his master in Canaan he told him everything that he had done. Be assured, the time is coming when we are going to tell it all... exactly as it is, exactly as God sees it.
Knowing this, may the fear of God become more and more pronounced in all of our lives that in this late hour, while yet there is opportunity, we might earnestly seek the Lord to reveal to us "the thoughts and the intents of the heart." For if these are not revealed and brought to light now by the quickening Word of God, be assured they will be brought to light when we stand before Him to tell it all. All the self-seeking... All that desire for the honor and the approval of men... All those dead works, all those achievements that brought praise and glory to our selfish hearts... All the treacherous things that have gone on among the ministry and among the people by way of robbing, and demoralizing, and raping the Bride of Christ... All the devastation that the people of God have known and experienced under the rule of faithless shepherds who fed themselves and despised the altar of God, and the flock of God....
All of these things will be told by the servant who did them-when he stands before the judgment seat of Christ. Let us tell it all now, as we seek Him earnestly. Let there be a cry from all of our hearts...
"Search me, 0 God, and know my heart:
Try me, and know my thoughts:
And see if there be any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting" (Ps. 139:23, 24).
A BRIDE FOR THE FIRST ADAM
The Book of Genesis is, as we know, the book of beginnings. But even in the original creation we have many types and shadows of greater things to come in the New Creation. The first Adam was himself but "a figure of Him that was to come" (Rom. 5:14). He was not the full intention of a man in His image and likeness. In the last Adam it was Gods intention to bring forth a Man of a much higher order than the man of the first order. And so in redemption we not only have recovery... we have something far beyond recovery. We have something of an entirely new order. We need to understand this principle in this day when "restoration" seems to be the theme, and people have the thought that to get back to the original state of the Church is all that God has in mind. God has much more in mind than that. Certainly it is a restoration back to foundational principles of Truth, but there must be a going on from there, to the fullness of Gods intention. And so there are two orders of men, the old one and the new one; and the new one is of a much higher order...
"The first man is of the earth, earthy:
The second Man is the Lord from heaven.
As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy:
And as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.
And as we have borne the image of the earthy, We shall also bear the image of the heavenly"
(1 Cor. 15:47-49).
It is strange that we accept the fact that we are like Adam because we are born in Adam and grow up in Adam... NOT IN THE NEXT WORLD BUT IN THIS ONE... but so difficult to comprehend that we are likewise born in the Last Adam, and grow up in the Last Adam, NOT IN THE NEXT WORLD BUT IN THIS ONE. Our problem arises, of course, in not realizing that the first Adam has become the seed-plot for the sowing of the seed that would bring forth the Last Adam. Consequently religion in general has tried to bring about a reconstruction of the old Adam to make him conform to the nature of the New. But quite to the contrary God has ruthlessly dealt with the old Adam, by nailing him to the Cross; and it happened when Christ was "made sin for us, who knew no sin." It was there at the Cross that God "condemned sin in the flesh" in order that the new life of the Spirit might be released, and become the new nature, and the energizing life of the new man in Christ.
The man Adam was the crowning work of Gods creation. He was made "in Gods image"... a man who would represent God Himself in the earth. He was endowed with great wisdom and understanding, by virtue of the fact that he had Gods own image stamped upon him. He had soul life, it is true... even as the animal world about him had soul life. But his was of a higher order. It was Gods breath that came into him; it was Gods image and likeness that he bore.
Upon this man God laid great authority and power, to rule over the earth. But He also laid upon him one restraint: "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Gen. 2:17). The man would hardly be worthy of one "in the image of God" if he could not stand a test... and God subjected him to a very simple test, to prove him worthy of the image he bore, and the power that had been given to him. God help us to understand that He is testing us, and will continue to test us, in one degree or another; and that it is not to destroy us, but to prove us and try us that we might be accounted worthy to be called the sons of God.
A Help, A Counterpart For Adam
This is next in Gods provision. "And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him" (Gen. 2:18). Or, "a help... suitable for him." This one would be his like, and yet different: his counterpart, his complement, one that would be his glory, one to make him complete.
But before God proceeds to do this He tells us something else that seems to be irrelevant to what God had in mind:
"And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof."
And then in the same context the Scriptures go on to say, "But for Adam there was not found an help meet for him" (vs. 19,20).
So in the context of what is written is this thought: Adam in naming the various creatures that came before him, was evidently quite aware of the fact that he was "alone"... there was no one his like, his counterpart. The other creatures were not alone, each had its mate; but in all that he observed in the creation about him, there was no one suitable for himself, no one his kind, his like, his counterpart.
Some would shrug off this matter of Adam naming the various creatures... who couldnt put a name on an animal? But we have to understand that Bible names have significance; and whether it be people, or things, or places, or cities, they are so named because of the nature of these things, or because of something that would happen relative to these things or these individuals. Adam had this inherent wisdom and perception to know and understand the meaning or the purpose for which God had created all things, and he named them accordingly; but he found in all of his association with creation nothing that could give him that sense of completeness and fullness. "But for Adam there was not found an help"... Adam was alone....
Until God did something very unusual, and something very different to what He had done up till that time. "And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and He took one of the ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man" (Gen. 2:21, 22).
Adam was asleep while all this was going on, but on awakening he beheld for the first time that one creature that he had not seen when he was naming all the other creatures of Gods original handiwork. Again, he knew intuitively what God had done, and he understood that this one was truly a part of himself, one his like, one with him:
"This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh: She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man" (Gen. 2:23).
But I understand the word "now" has this thought: "Now at last..." As if to say, "I knew I was alone... I saw the beauty of Gods creation... but in and through it all I remained detached... there was nothing I saw that was truly completive for myself... NOW AT LAST, this is the one."
He knew instinctively that she came from his side. He knew that she was taken out from him to be joined to him again. He knew that in this mystical union God was establishing a pattern for the race that would come into being. He knew that families would come from this union, and that his kind would be perpetuated in the earth. "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh" (Gen. 2:24). Now when God had created them, He "called their name Adam." But it was Adam that would name the other creatures: and knowing instinctively what God had done he called his wife "Woman"... for she was "taken out of man." And then more specifically he named her "Eve" "because she was the mother of all living" (Gen. 3:20).
Now as we know, this history of our early beginnings has become the basis of family relationships, and of the order of the home; and it is recognized as such by the Lord Jesus, and by the apostles. When the subject of "divorce" came up, Jesus replied that "from the beginning it was not so," and therefore it was not right. God only allowed it because of "the hardness of your hearts." (See Matt. 19:8; Mark 10:5-9.) We must always go back to beginnings, to discover Gods plan. What He did in the beginning was good. We must grow and develop from there, even as the seed germinates and grows and develops in the earth. And so the apostle Paul lays out Gods plan for the home, based on what God did at the beginning:
"Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the Church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the Church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything" (Eph. 5:21-24).
Only a rebellious spirit thinks this to be a grievous arrangement; and in this rebellious generation it is not at all surprising that laws and constitutions, in the Church and in the world, are being changed to accommodate this rebellion. With it there has come into being such a breakdown of the home and the family that neither the government, nor the society, nor the Church, have been able to come up with any solutions. It all started with rebellion against God, and a refusal to acknowledge that God was the Author and the Creator of this divine order; and it is taught rather that mans headship over the woman was something that evolved out of the cave and primeval ignorance. It was not the law of Moses that started Gods order in the family; it was the law of creation, the law of life. "From the beginning it was not so", because creation did not evolve from a meaningless mass of matter and slime... it came forth fresh from the hand of God. There would be a development and further unfolding of Gods purposes, as the seed sprouted and grew in the earth; but it is all inherent there in the seed.
And so even in the first man and the first woman we have a picture of what God will have in the New Creation order. It has begun now... and we may begin to look for the unfolding of Gods order in our lives as God continues to bring us out of the old order and into the new, out of the old Adam and into the New. It is a time of transition... a time of change. The old order was cursed by the Fall... but God brings forth the New out of the old, by the work of redeeming grace.
A BRIDE FOR THE LAST ADAM
The apostle Paul makes it clear that in the admonition he is giving concerning the home, and the marriage relationship, he is doing so by way of presenting a picture of the Last Adam, and the Bride of the Last Adam.
"This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church" (Eph. 5:32).
But he does not stop there. He does not say, "What I have said about the man and the woman in the home is now outdated; Rather he adds,
"Nevertheless, let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband" (Eph. 5:33).
He is not saying then that the order of Genesis is no longer applicable, because he recognizes that elements of the original creation are still there in this present life, in this time of transition. We have not yet come into the full expression of the New Creation concerning which it is said that men will "neither marry" nor will women "be given in marriage." This pertains to the new age, and to the day of resurrection... and to those who partake of it. (See Matt. 22:30.)
Right now it is a time of transition, as God brings us out of the old and into the new. Changes are taking place. Some very wonderful changes are taking place. But as long as there is the male and female relationship in the earth there will continue to be marriages, and homes, and children... and the exercise of certain responsibilities of one to another, as God ordained it in the beginning, and as Paul set it forth in his letter to the Ephesians.
Some are quick to quote Galatians 3:28, "There is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." But please note that it was the same apostle who wrote Galatians that wrote Ephesians; and that when he wrote to the Ephesians he was writing to a people who were "IN CHRIST" (Eph. 1:1). And it was to them that he said, "The husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the Church" (Eph. 5:23). There is no discrepancy in what Paul said to the Galatians, and what he said to the Ephesians. We are "in Christ" now... but there continues to be a man-and-woman relationship; for we are in a state of transition from the old realm of Adam, to the new realm of the Last Adam; and it is a relationship of a much higher order. Notice that Paul said, "the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man... neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, IN THE LORD" (1 Cor. 11:8, 11). This relationship continues even for men and women in this age who are IN CHRIST; but it is a more highly elevated relationship, because their spirits are made alive in Christ. There is an equality here, as far as fellowship and communion with the Lord is concerned; but when woman seeks equality with the man in matters of headship and rulership she is forsaking the means of grace that God gave her, not enhancing it. Peter encourages "subjection to your own husbands" (and notice he said this in the context of a woman who had an unbelieving husband)... for in her role of quiet subjection she may win her husband (and of course we are not suggesting that in "sinning" she may win him, but that in walking in meekness and humility she may win him). The husbands likewise, because they are in Christ, have a much higher responsibility, and are admonished to give "honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life." But notice what follows: "That your prayers be not hindered." (See 1 Pet. 3:1-7.) I wonder how many prayers go unanswered because of a spirit of rebellion in the wife, or in the husband?
The apostles were not male chauvinists. They were giving good counsel by the Spirit to men and women who were in Christ... counsel which, if heeded, would put our many counselors in the Church and in the world out of a job. In Christ our privileges and responsibilities are of a much higher order than they were in the beginning of the human race. And I think the reason Christian women feel they are in bondage is very often because the man has fallen so far short of his responsibility:
"Husbands, love your wives, EVEN AS CHRIST ALSO LOVED THE CHURCH, AND GAVE HIMSELF FOR IT" (Eph. 5:25).
"In Christ" there is a new kind of relationship between the man and the woman. The woman learns subjection, and in so doing partakes of a greater measure of grace, and of meekness, and of quietness. The man must come to a quality of love that Christ exemplified: "Even as Christ loved the Church..." "In Christ"... there is "neither bond nor free... neither male nor female." Does the apostle then exhort the slaves to run away and exert their new-found freedom in rebellion? No! Rather it is this way: in the Lord you are FREE, so you are to serve your master as a free man, and no longer as a slave: "Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as unto Christ" (Eph. 6:5). Now because he is "in Christ" he has a new relationship with his master, even as he remains a slave. Now his real master is not that inconsiderate, cruel lord he had known in the past. He the master may not have changed, but he the servant HAS. His real master is now the Lord Jesus; because now he the slave is a free man in Christ. He must be more diligent than ever before, because now he serves the Lord Christ. He can now suffer the shame and the ignominy of an iron-handed master because his true Master and Lord suffered equal shame and ignominy, and because he is now in Christ, he is to follow in his Masters steps. In so doing he will partake of His nature, and His character, and as a bondslave he will qualify to be an heir of the Kingdom over which Christ has been exalted with a "Name that is above every name." And as he follows his Lord and hears His Word he discovers that his Lord has been exalted to the highest throne of the universe by reason of the fact that he descended to take the lowest place in the earth, even as a bondslave, the One who became "obedient unto death, even the death of the cross".
"Run away, Onesimus... you are a free man in Christ!" Was this Pauls admonition to Onesimus. Ah, No! Quite to the contrary. And this is what Pauls letter to Philemon was all about. "Your slave has harmed you, Philemon. He owes you a debt for having robbed you, and fled to Rome. But dont forget, Philemon, you owe me a great debt also. You really owe me your very self, for it was I that brought to you the message of liberation. For you too were once a slave, and Christ has set you free. Now you, once a freeman, are under bonds to Christ. Now that you are in Christ you must act like Christ. You must receive Onesimus back in total forgiveness, even as Christ has received you. Now he is no longer just a slave... now he is your brother and mine."
How elevated does one become in his relationship with God and with His people, as he comes into Christ! Paul never instigated a freedom movement in the Church to liberate the slaves. This is not the Churchs responsibility. Our responsibility is to so minister the Truth that men and women are brought into Christ, where they are FREE. Vengeance belongeth unto the Lord... He will deal with oppressive governments, and oppressive rulers in the Church and in the world... in His own way, in His own time. He knows how to deal with the Pharaohs, and the Nebuchadnezzars, and the Herods, and the Caesars. Our responsibility is to so preach Christ that men and women are brought into Christ, where there is total freedom.
What a high and lofty order has God brought about in the Church, as He brings a people into Christ, and even now enables them to walk before Him in New Creation life. When men and women seek to change that order, it is not liberation they find but bondage of a far greater sort than they knew before. Homes are broken up, and men and women have gone their own way under the guise of "liberation," but it is bondage of a far greater degree. Children are scattered far and wide, and are placed in institutions of welfare, and become a burden to society. Broken homes produce more and more devastated wives and devastated husbands and devastated kids; and it all springs from a spirit of rebellion to Gods order. Consequently neither the society nor the Church has been able to cope with all the problems that are being created.
True, many of these come into the Church, and why not? God intended that the Church should bring healing to the broken-hearted. But it seems to me that the Church is bulging its seams with broken homes, devastated homes, devastated men, devastated women without healing the breach. If we leave the faucet running, and hire more and more counselors to mop up the floor, what is really happening? We have got to shut the faucet off first... and then seek God for the healing, which He longs to bring. Like our mental institutions, and our penal institutions, so the Church is involved with massive building programs to take care of multitudes of people that are spiritually and morally sick... and these massive buildings are being filled with people, and congregations are growing and growing, but where is the healing? Have you ever noticed this? That as the Church grows and expands in wealth and in buildings and in numbers, so does the divorce rate? And in all of this expansion, what is really happening? The divorce rate soars, in the Church as well as out of it, and nothing is done to turn off the faucets.
There is only one real solution, but there is no likelihood that the Church will admit to her condition, and go Gods way. God looks down from high Heaven and pinpoints the problem:
"Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art WRETCHED, and MISERABLE, and POOR, and BLIND, and NAKED: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see" (Rev. 3:17, 18).
Will we listen? I predict that the Church will prefer to enlarge their counseling services in the Church rather than to take Gods counsel. What then? His judgments fall from Heaven, and great and awesome will be the desolations of that hour:
"There is a voice of the howling of the shepherds; for their glory is spoiled: a voice of the roaring of the young lions; for the pride of Jordan is spoiled" (Zech. 11:3).
"And the songs of the temple shall be howlings in that day, saith the Lord GOD" (Amos 8:3).
"They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly, saying, Peace, Peace: when there is no peace" (Jer. 6:14).
Jesus said that because iniquity would abound the love of many would wax cold. I believe this is our real problem. We have become so intricately entwined with the ways of the world that the broken home is taken as a matter of course, rather than a cause for alarm. The rebellion in the world has swept through the Church... and homes are being devastated. Please understand that we are in no way judging the many innocent victims that are involved; for there are many who have been caught in this web of devastation, and there is nothing they can do about it. If this is your situation be assured that nothing that has happened can hinder you from becoming a vessel unto honor and glory, if you are truly committed to go Gods way, regardless of the suffering that may be involved.
Now the Enemy knows that if he can break up the Christian home he has conquered the Church; for the Church is but a congregation of many homes. The tragedy is that Gods people do not recognize this... and by and large the Church continues to boast of strength and power and enlargement, completely ignoring the fact that the foundations of the Christian home are breaking down on every hand. God wants to heal this situation and He would show us the cause of our problems, for it is nothing less than this: Man with all of his human engineering has crowded Christ completely out of His Temple, and the Glory of God which He intended to be our defence and our protection is no longer there. The canopy of His glory is our only defence in the time of storm. (See Isa. 4:6.) Only as Gods people humble themselves and accept His "counsel" to buy of Him the true riches, and the eyesalve that He provides, are we going to see the healing that He wants to bring.
Beauty For Ashes
Now the background of the Bride of Christ is one of devastation and ashes. This Holy Bride, this "chaste virgin," in her natural state is totally corrupt, and God must recreate her anew from the ashes of her depravity. She is anything but chaste, anything but clean, anything but holy. Nevertheless she has been apprehended by the Holy Spirit to become the pure, chaste virgin Bride of Christ. Let us see Gods estimate of this one whom He has chosen to be His very own...
"And as for thy nativity, in the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to supple thee; thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all. None eye pitied thee, to do any of these unto thee, to have compassion upon thee: but thou wast cast out in the open field, to the loathing of thy person, in the day that thou wast born. And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live. I have caused thee to multiply as the bud of the field, and thou hast increased and waxen great, and thou art come to excellent ornaments: thy breasts are fashioned, and thine hair is grown, whereas thou wast naked and bare. Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread My skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest Mine. Then washed I thee with water; yea, I throughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil. I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badgers skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk. I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck. And I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head" (Ezek. 16:4-12).
What a picture of the grace of God! What love and mercy has come from the Father upon the fallen sons of Adam that we should become the holy and faultless Bride of Christ... pure, unmerited favor. It is all of that. But the grace of God goes far, far beyond that blessed state of forgiveness, wherein God looks down upon His people as though they had never sinned. This would make us to be like Adam was before he fell... innocent, but not "justified." For in justification God sees us so totally clothed upon with the righteousness of God, that we are righteous and holy with His very own righteousness. Forgiveness deals with the past... and wipes it out. But in "justification" all the righteousness of God is placed upon us, so that we are made to be "the righteousness of God in Christ."
Now the saints at Corinth were the ones to whom Paul said, "I have espoused you to one Husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." And what was their "nativity"? Paul sets forth the horrible list of their sins... not to condemn them, but to show them the marvels of Gods grace. He mentions everything... "fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, homosexuals, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, extortioners..." And then he adds, "And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Cor. 6:9-11).
In their own eyes, and in the eyes of those who knew them, they were the ex-sinner, the ex-thief, the ex-robber, the ex-drunkard, the ex-homosexual... But not so in the sight of God. For the cleansing of the blood of Christ is so efficacious that sins once forgiven and washed away can no longer stain the heart, the mind, the character, the conscience of that one who has been plucked as a brand from the burning, and recreated into the image of God. They become in Gods estimation, "a chaste virgin to Christ"... as chaste and pure as Eve was when she was taken from the side of Adam, and brought to him again, and joined to him in one body. Now when God wanted a holy and undefiled Bride He did not look over the ranks of angels and archangels, among those who had never sinned. He wanted someone much better than these, someone more worthy of Him. And where did He look? He looked into the earth, and He found the apple of His eye, and He spoke life into her, as she lay there wallowing in her own blood:
"And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, LIVE; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, LIVE."
But He said so much more than that, and He did so much more than that. He gave her new life, and that is wonderful. But He desired her for His own Bride. His plan was to make her exceedingly beautiful. There is much more to the preparation of the Bride than having new life. Gods tender care over her must continue until she is fully matured, and adorned, and beautified with His own presence and glory. Her "hair is grown"... for her hair is her glory, and speaks of the covering of her Master. She is washed, with "the washing of water by the Word." Her garments are of broidered work and "fine linen"... for "the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints." She is covered with silk, and decked with ornaments: "bracelets" on her hands, that she might serve her Master in truth and sincerity; a "chain on her neck"... lest she become stiff-necked and rebellious; a precious "jewel" on her forehead, that she might partake of the mind of Christ; "earrings" on her ears, that she might clearly hear the voice of her Beloved; decked with "gold and silver" for the glory that she displays is not to be her own carnal self, but the ornaments of a "meek and quiet spirit"... the gold of His own nature, and the silver of His redemption in her life. She partakes of "flour, and honey, and oil"... the ingredients of the bread of God, mingled with the holy oil of His anointing, that she might become "one bread, one loaf" to a hungry world about her. In Gods words she becomes "exceeding beautiful" and "prospered into a Kingdom"... a Kingdom of truth and of righteousness.
O how shall we ever glorify Him enough for His marvelous grace and mercy? How can we ever do it with our mortal tongues? We try, and this is good, but never shall we truly glorify the Lord for His wonderful work of redemption until we are given over completely to Him, and we become aware with every breath that we breathe, "I am not my own... I am bought with a price."
And when we come to this we suddenly realize: I am not my own that I could owe Him anything. I am His very own possession... and all that I have... all that I am .. it is not mine, it is HIS!
These whom He has chosen to be His spotless Bride are a people washed so clean, sanctified so wholly, perfected so perfectly with the perfections of Christ, that God looks down and says, "You are My virgin Bride." And angels and archangels whom God would not choose for so high a calling, surround the throne of God, as they cry one to another:
"Let us be glad and rejoice,
And give honor to Him:
For the marriage of the Lamb is come,
And His wife hath made herself ready" (Rev. 19:7).
Never a murmur from anyone: "I remember your past...I know what you once were... how could God Almighty have chosen you to be His holy Bride?" We are told that angels "desire to look into" the mysteries of our redemption, and I do not know how much they understand about it. But in that day they must see and understand, at least in part, the wonder-working power of the cleansing of the blood of Jesus, in the lives of fallen humanity. No one in heaven is able to utter one word of protest. I do not think there would be any need for the archangels to make this challenge:
"Now therefore if anyone present can give any lawful reason why this Man should not take this Woman to be His lawful wedded wife, let him speak now or forever hold his peace..."
But even if they did, no one could utter a word of protest. No angel could come forth and say, "You must know, O Lord, what this one did... You must know this one was a liar, a pervert, a murderer, a criminal of the basest sort. How can we rejoice and be glad because of Your Bride? You are worthy, but how can we rejoice in Your Bride?"
Quite to the contrary, all Heaven rejoices with the Lamb for the Bride He has found is the one He created for Himself out from the ashes of depraved humanity. No unclean spirit can arise and accuse as they were wont to do. For this one is clean and holy, and there is no place for the Accuser to find fault.
How wonderful when we all get to Heaven, and are joined in this glorious union with our Beloved! Is this what you are thinking?
"And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness [or the righteous deeds] of the saints" (Rev. 19:8).
Her wedding garments are her "righteous deeds"... the garments she walks in before men, and not only those hidden garments of righteousness that she receives in justification. Like the high priest of the Tabernacle, she wears "garments for glory and for beauty" as she ministers truth and righteousness in the earth.
Why do we have the feeling that nothing totally clean and pure can walk in this defiled earth? Did Jesus not do it? And did He not die that "As He is" so might we be in this evil world? And if we consider that dying by cancer, or by tuberculosis, or by heart disease... if we consider these to be the instruments of our perfection, are we not giving more glory and honor to the diseases of Adams sin and curse than we are to the precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ? Is it indeed true that the sin and death of Adam, as it pursues us and overtakes us, is to do for us what the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus cannot do?
Must God rapture us as soon as we come close to perfection, because a perfect and holy man must not walk on this defiled planet? Some teach that is why God took Enoch. He finally came to perfection, and God had to take him. Bless your hearts, Enoch walked with God in the earth for 300 years before He saw fit to take him; for while Enoch was yet in the earth he had this witness that he "pleased God." And God took him according to His good pleasure when the time had come... and Enoch heard and knew what God was going to do, and found FAITH to be translated! (See Heb. 11:5.)
It did, indeed, seem strange that the Lord Jesus, the New Adam, should have lived in this old world a mere 33 years-- barely a minute in the time-frame of human existence. But we think this way because of our misunderstanding of Gods plan and purpose. For in that short life-span of 33 years our Lord Jesus had accomplished EVERYTHING HE NEEDED TO ACCOMPLISH to bring forth a new race of beings in the earth, a new Adamic order after His own kind. He finished the work the Father had given Him to do in the earth, and then returned to the Father to begin... and to complete... a greater ministration in the heavens. For it is there, from the throne, that He sends forth His Word and His Spirit to create a new race of people in the earth--a people who would become His own kind in the earth.
HE DOES NOT COME BACK TO EARTH TO DO THAT; HE WENT AWAY TO DO THAT.
His work of redeeming, and cleansing and purging the old Adam from his sin was accomplished at the Cross. And now from Heaven He ministers THE WORD concerning this great accomplishment in the earth, by THE SPIRIT whom He has placed in our hearts. Gods purpose was not to wipe out the old creation, but to bring forth a new one out of the old. Not, however, by renovating and making the old one over, but by crucifying and slaying it at the Cross, that out from the ashes of Calvary a New Man might be born. The foundation for our redemption was laid in the earth, and that work was "finished." But the super-structure of the New Creation arises in the earth because of the ministration of the High Priest on the throne of glory, who ministers from the "heavenly sanctuary." He spoke many wonderful things "on earth." But now He speaks "from Heaven." His Word is just as effectual now, as it was then. His Word is just as pure, just as creative now, as it was then. For His Spirit is the Truth; and the anointing that He has given to men is the Truth.
But the Bride has fallen, as surely as Eve was "beguiled" from the "simplicity" of the truth she had received. We must continue to emphasize the "simplicity" or the "singleness" of our devotion to Christ. The deception that came upon Eve is very strong in the Church today.
She saw something that was...
Good for food...
Pleasant to the eyes...
Desirable to make...
This was her deception; in simply not abiding in her role as one subject to Adam, and together with him in subjection to the God who had created them.
There is a lot of writing these days about deception; and generally it relates to this false doctrine, or that other one. And do not misunderstand me... God wants our doctrines to be true, and to be healthy. But the deception that Eve fell into is not mentioned in most of these writings; and in fact there is much deception to be seen in this quest for an understanding of good and false doctrine, under the guise of standing for the truth. John tells us that the antidote to seduction is to abide in the anointing, because the "anointing... is truth" (1 Jn. 2:26, 27). I fear a lot of this feasting upon knowledge, which men are digging out of books, is in reality the eating of "the tree of knowledge of good and evil." Now God wants us to "discern both good and evil," but we only do this as we grow into Christ, and come to maturity, as we eat of "the tree of life." Eating of the tree of knowledge will not deliver us from the evil, but eating of the tree of LIFE will: as we walk in the light, as He is in the light... as we love Him who is Truth... as we walk in the Anointing, which is Truth. Then the Word becomes alive, and a light unto our pathway. Eating of the other tree can only make ones heart haughty, and the mind heady.
The fall of the Bride can always be attributed to pride, and to a false confidence in her position. "But thou didst trust in thine own beauty" (Ezek. 16:15). The redemption of the Bride must always be attributed to the sovereign workings of God, and to His own desire for a Bride that will be His counterpart in the earth, one radiating His likeness and glory in the earth.
The history of Israel as a nation, and the history of the Church, tell the same story: a story of backsliding and of new beginnings. We may wonder why there could not have been a continual progressive walk of Gods people throughout her long history. But each generation is responsible to hear and to hearken to the voice of God for themselves. They cannot inherit the Kingdom of God from their fathers... And yet, there is a deposit from one generation to another, and somewhere in succeeding generations that deposit of truth will begin to germinate, and sprout, and bring forth the fruit that God is after.
"For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: that the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments" (Ps. 78:5-7).
With our distorted vision we are inclined to see it this way:
First that which is good, and then the evil. First the beauty, and then the chaos.
First the brightness of Day, and then the Darkness.
First the real thing, and then the shadow. First an innocent man, then rebellion.
But with renewed vision and hope we see it in a far different light:--
We see the evil and the chaos, and out of it God brings forth order, and beauty.
We see the darkness first, and then God speaks and there is Light.
We see the shadow first, and then the substance.
We see Adam first, and then the Last Adam.
We see an Old Covenant first, and then the New.
We could go on and on in this. For if we could but see with eyes focused on Christ and His Glory, and His Purposes, and not crossed by our carnal nature... we would know and understand THAT THE HOUR OF HUMAN FAILURE, DEVASTATING THOUGH IT MAY BE TO PREVIOUS WORKINGS OF GOD, IS NEVERTHELESS THE SEED PLOT IN WHICH GOD WILL PLANT THE SEEDS OF NEW CREATION LIFE, FOR A NEW WORKING OF GOD, A NEW EXPRESSION OF HIS GLORY, A NEW UNVEILING OF THE UNSEEN TREASURES THAT ARE STILL HIDDEN AWAY IN HIS HEART AND PREPARED FOR THEM THAT LOVE HIM AND WAIT FOR HIM.
In saying this, we are in no way minimizing the drastic effects of human failure, or inferring that their failure was in reality a good thing. We are merely giving honor and glory to Him who in spite of all the failures of the human family, and all the devices of Satan to defeat Gods purposes... God has reserved in His heart a mighty working of His wisdom and power that will be revealed in its time to bring to nought all the devices of the evil one who seeks to dethrone God and to devastate the glory and the beauty of His handiwork.
It is a perverted wisdom that would say, "It is good that God made evil men... or evil spirits... for see how wonderfully God brings forth His glory out of it all." God still finds fault with them and will judge them. These are areas we do not understand, as mere mortals. Gods answer is simply:
"Nay, but O man, who art thou that repliest against God?...Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew His wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction?" (Rom. 9:20-22).
Let us be assured of this: IF EVER YOU OR I SHOULD QUESTION GODS RIGHTEOUS CHARACTER OR HIS WISDOM, IT IS BECAUSE WE DO NOT KNOW HIM VERY WELL.
Gods Bride has fallen, as truly as Eve fell. And it all started when she got her eyes off of her beloved, and trusted in her own excellence and achievement: "But thou didst trust in thine own beauty...
What beauty was that? Nothing less than what she had received as a gift from her Lord: "For it was perfect through My comeliness, which I had put upon thee" (Ezek. 16:14, 15).
God, cause Your people to see the folly they have committed in making for themselves the "images of men"... and setting the oil and the incense before them as Israel did. God, cause us to know and understand that there is no real beauty or glory in ourselves, in any man or ministry... except that which You, Lord, have bestowed by Your own gracious handiwork. For it is not from ourselves but from You; and You alone are to be glorified in the beautiful work of Your own hands. Shall we gaze at the beautiful work of art, and exalt the canvas on which it is painted? Or admire the stone from which the sculptor chiseled his masterpiece? Or think the beautiful piano or violin is to be praised for the music that comes forth from the wooden box, rather than the master craftsman who made the instrument? And especially the master musician who calls forth the music? How ignorant we are! How dishonoring to God we are when somehow we get to thinking: How great is our preacher! How great is our church! How great is our music and our talent! Rather than worshipping the Lord, and saying from our innermost being, "O Lord, How great Thou art!"
And so the Bride of Christ has fallen! In every generation of the Church God would bring forth this holy Bride, and inevitably she would fall, and always for the same reason: she began to trust in her own beauty, failing to realize and understand that she had no beauty except what she received from the Lord.
But let us remember Gods order! Gods Day starts with evening, and ends with Morning! For when "darkness covers the earth, and gross darkness the people," it is then that God promises:
"The Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee."
This is Gods order that we observe everywhere in the Scriptures. There is a New Day for every night of darkness that has overwhelmed Gods people.
Yes, Gods Bride fell from her beauty and her glory, but that is not the end. God promised judgment: "And I will judge thee, as women that break wedlock, and shed blood are judged; and I will give thee blood in fury and jealousy" (Ezek. 16:38). His judgments are very far-reaching, and very awesome. But what God is doing is for His own glory... and there is restoration:
"Nevertheless I will remember My covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant... and I will establish My covenant with thee, and thou shalt know that I am the LORD" (Ezek. 16:60, 62).
God always finishes His work with Righteousness, and Life, and Glory.
The Bride, The Fullness Of Christ
This is the desire of Christ. As truly as Adam looked about him and saw all the beautiful handiwork of God and yet found no one that was really compatible with him... so our Lord, not even in the celestial realms could find one of whom He could say, "This is the one I want for My Bride, for the eternal satisfaction of My own heart." And the reason He could not find such a one is because in those realms God had never created anyone in His image and likeness. There was no angel, no archangel, no cherub, no seraph... that was really akin to His own nature and likeness.
If God were only a God of might and of power and of majesty... then He may have found a certain compatibility with powerful, beautiful creatures. But God is much more than that. He is meek, and lowly, and humble, and merciful, and gentle, and patient, and longsuffering, and kind... because He is LOVE. And so in His own great wisdom and knowledge He chose a weak creature, a man of the dust, through whom He would be able to display the fullness of His nature and character. This man became at the same time "lower than the angels" and yet the highest of His created order. For only in this Man would He be able to express Himself as He really is, and show forth the fullness of His glory.
This Man came to earth, and His Name was Jesus. But this Man in the earth found Himself ALONE, even as God was ALONE in the heavenly realm. God in Heaven had many wonderful creatures about Him, but still He was ALONE. Adam likewise, had a very wonderful garden in which he dwelt, and many wonderful and friendly creatures about him; but he was ALONE. Jesus in the earth had a few disciples who in time became His friends... but He was ALONE. And He would have to remain alone, as He Himself said, except He would be faithful, as a Seed, to fall into the ground and die.
And so it was the Father who arranged for His Son the sleep of death. And while He slept in the earth, there and then God was beginning to form for Himself and for His Son this one who was to be His Body in the earth, for the expression of His own life and glory.
"I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are Thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in Thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them" (Ps. 139:14-16).
"Fearfully and wonderfully made..." So is the Bride of Christ. So is the Body of Christ. For we are the Body of Christ, of His flesh, and of His bones; just as Adam said of Eve, "This is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh... she shall be called Woman for she was taken out of Man." She was taken out of man, to be joined to him again... so that individually she was "Eve," but together with Adam she bore his name, "And God called THEIR NAME Adam."
Surely this should put our minds at rest when we talk of our union with Christ. Only as we are joined unto Him in this mystical union does God say that we are of the Christ Body. It is His Name that we take, because of our union with Him. "For as the body is one, and hath many members... SO ALSO IS CHRIST" (1 Cor. 12:12). We are not another Jesus, another Christ, even as Eve was not another Adam. It is only in union with him that she shares the name "Adam." In union with Christ we share His same anointing, for "Christ" means "Anointed One." His Name has been called upon us.
Now the word "fullness" as used by the apostle Paul means a "completeness"... and this is what Eve was to Adam: his complement, his completeness... the one who took away Adams "aloneness," for she was very much like him, and of his nature.
So the Church is said to be the fullness, the completeness of Christ: "The Church which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all" (Eph. 1:23). Eve came out from Adam, and was created for Adam, to be his glory. A new personality had come into being, having the same virtues as Adam, the same heart, the same hopes, the same longings, the same potential to know God and walk with Him. But she was to be dependent upon and subject to Adam, and together with him in subjection to God who created them. God had projected Himself into the earth in a new way, in a man created in His image. Now He would project Himself still further, in a bride who would be the "glory of the man" even as the "man was the glory of God." God was no longer alone. Adam was no longer alone. He was one of kind, his like, his completeness, his fullness. Like him, and yet different... but it was this "difference" that gave greater meaning to his own life, and made possible the expression of those qualities with which he was endowed by the Creator: to love, to fellowship, to communicate, and to share his own life with another. Can we understand this a little? That God wanted us, that He needed us, to provide an outlet and a channel for the satisfaction and the delight of His own heart, and for meaningful fellowship with a people in His own likeness?
We pray, "Lord, make us channels just channels of blessing to others..." And this is good: but God is really after much more than that. He desires to so endow us with His own life and nature and character that we become like Him, and yet different. Not to become another Jesus, or another God. But in being like Him we are totally dependent upon Him. Like Him so much that we are "bone of His bone, and flesh of His flesh." Not just a puppet easily manipulated to do His will. Not just a pipe through which His blessing might flow. But another person, another personality... walking in such union with the Christ that the same law of life that functions in the Head, functions also in the Body: even "the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:2). As the Spirit would speak, so we speak. As the Spirit would work, so we work. He thinks this way, so we think this way. The apostle said, "It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us" (Acts 15:28). Presumptuous, is it, to say that, "It seemed good to God and it seemed good to us..."? Was it not enough that it was good in the sight of God? And leave us out of the picture? No, not at all; for God wants His people to have His mind, to think as He thinks, to work as He is working, to speak as He is speaking. "The Spirit and the Bride say, Come..." (Rev. 22:17). Is it not enough that the Spirit says come? Not really, for His Spirit, men do not know... and unless the Bride is speaking in union with the Spirit, men are not going to hear. As long as the "Bride" in her carnal, apostate, and corrupt way of life sends forth the message to the nations, "COME! COME!" there will continue to be scorn and derision heaped upon the people of God. But wait till the Spirit has a Bride in union with Himself, and together they speak! Great will be the impact upon the nations when "the Spirit and the Bride say, COME" (Rev. 22:17). This kind of invitation, this kind of working, is powerful... because mens hearts are moved by the Voice. The vessel is not just seen as a medium through whom God can work, but he is seen to be ONE WITH THE SPIRIT, motivated by the Spirit, energized by the Spirit--of one heart and of one mind with the Spirit. This great ecumenical show of unity is totally worthless. But when man becomes ONE WITH THE SPIRIT, great and terrible and wonderful will be the Voice that the nations shall hear.
This is the way of the spiritual man. It is a high and holy ideal. But we must not falter because of that. Nor must we try to make it work. The Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ will cause it to work. We must keep drawing closer to Him, and He will keep drawing closer to us. And when we meet, the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus will begin to function in our lives in a manner we have never known or imagined to be possible.
You long for this kind of a life. Your heart is drawn toward this kind of union with Him. Be assured: God longs for you far more than you long after Him; and the only reason we long for Him in the first place, is because He apprehended us, and caused us to long for Him. There is a "deep" in the heart of God that "calleth unto deep" in the hearts of His people. God knows it is "not good that the Man should be alone." He is seeking out a Bride for His Son. Once God was "alone"... so He knows what it is like. And when He made a Man in His image, He knew full well that this Man would experience loneliness; for this Man bore the stamp and image of His Creator. And from His side, as He slept, God began to build and to form the one who would be His beloved, His completion, His counterpart in the earth. Taken out from Him that she might become a New Creation, and joined unto Him again in mystical union... a union that only He and His Bride can comprehend and enjoy.
This is no selfish, self-entered thing that we speak of. This is Gods way for His people to become fruitful in the earth. It is Gods only way. The "job" that the Church speaks of is getting bigger and more complicated and more massive with every passing year, with every passing decade. And the "job" will never be accomplished by a sick, anemic Bride... wallowing in her own blood... wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. Not until she is cleansed and made holy, and adorned with the beautiful garments of His righteousness, and comes into union with her Lord, will she be able to say "Come!" in a way that will produce a meaningful response. God is exceedingly jealous for this to happen; and therefore the Bride is exceedingly jealous for this to happen:
"For Zions sake will I not hold My peace, and for Jerusalems sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth... Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married... and as the Bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee" (Isa. 62:1, 4-5).
I do not profess to know the order of events that will unfold at the time of the coming of the Lord; and I feel sorry for those who think they do. Let us be ready to leave the blank spaces there in our understanding, until God sees fit to fill them in. For the apostle tells us that "we know in part, and we prophesy in part." The part we know is what He is pleased to reveal; and it is always sufficient for our walk with Him, and for our growth in His ways. It is far better that we leave the blank spaces open, in our chart of end-time events, than to fill them all in, and try to erase them later on. But we want to make this observation: When the marriage supper of the Lamb takes place, it is not all over at that moment: "Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb" (Rev. 19:9).
Now it is right after that, that the War takes place, in which the Bride of Christ is involved: "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He doth judge and make war... And His Name is called THE WORD OF GOD. And the armies which were in heaven followed Him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of His mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations" (Rev. 19:11-16).
He is the Last Adam; but joined unto Him is the one who shares His Name, His ministry, His authority. He is Faithful and True, and His followers are faithful and true because of Him. His Name is THE WORD OF GOD... and the armies which follow Him administer that same powerful and living Word; for they too are clothed upon with "fine linen, white and clean," the attire of the Bride. The word from their mouth is "sharper than any two-edged sword" (Heb. 4:12); because they are clothed upon with "the whole armour of God" (Eph. 6:13). They, too, shall smite the earth with "a rod of iron"... because they move in His strength, and not in their own. They are in His yoke; they are one with Him; and they are clothed upon with His armor (Rev. 12:5).
In other words, it is not the Last Adam doing one thing, and His Bride another. It is not the Spirit saying one thing, and the Bride another. It is not the Lord Jesus fighting His war in the heavens, and His people struggling to fight their war here on earth. This is the way we generally see it in the earth today.
But it will be far different in the day when the King on Zions hill has created for Himself a "willing" people, and who are joined unto Him in One Body.
And the Law of the Spirit of Life reigns...
And "the Spirit and the Bride say, Come..."
And the armies of Heaven follow their Captain into battle, clothed upon with His Armor...
And the Battle is not ours, but the LORDs!
INTERACTION OF THE HEAVENLY WITH THE EARTHLY
Again we must reflect upon the emphasis given in the Scriptures as to the interaction of the heavenly with the earthly, and how the earthly is prepared of God for this kind of Divine coincidence. Only then is it a coincidence by Divine arrangement, rather than an accidental coincidence. If we could only realize, in all of our zeal and excitement for action, that God is desiring to tame our spirits to wait before Him that He might meet with us along the Emmaus Road of our tangled lives, and walk with us the rest of the Way. The memories of wilderness wanderings, of fruitless endeavors, and of shattered dreams; these all dissolve in a moment when the Stranger joins us along the Way, and gives us words of assurance: "It is necessary that these things should have happened... if the Word is to be fulfilled... if the glory of God is to be revealed." And then in looking back we can find that same assurance that Joseph would give his brethren when he revealed himself to them in their moment of great distress and perplexity: "You are not to be angry at yourselves for your part in bringing about this desolation... it was God who ordained it for His own purposes, to bring about a great deliverance in the time of famine."
When we are committed to walk in the ways of the Lord we can always be assured that there will be that convergence of the heavenly with the earthly, at some point along our pathway. As we walk in His way, it must be a walk of faith... believing where we cannot see; and we must confidently expect that He will do what we know only He can do, to bring order and fruitfulness out of seeming barrenness and futility. It is the story of Abraham, of Joseph, of Naomi, of David, and of His saints in all ages whose lives counted for God and redounded to His glory. They walked in Gods way... often with much perplexity... often not being positively assured it was the way of the Lord; but out of love and devotion to Him they continued on... waiting, longing, hoping for Him. And never were they disappointed; never were they put to shame. Somewhere along the way God would come forth and assure them that He had been with them all along... that His purpose in hiding His face was not to leave them desolate, but that they might learn of Him, and be a vessel approved in the fire.
Abraham had learned through years of experience that it was God who had been faithfully weaving the garment of His own purposes in his life, and he was assured that He would be faithful to bring those purposes to a conclusion. He would not find it necessary to take this arduous trip into Mesopotamia; but he had faith to leave the matter in the hands of his trusted servant. This true servant felt at once the great privilege, as well as the awesomeness of the responsibility that was laid upon him... and earnestly sought God for guidance.
At the other end of the picture in a far away land we see how God had been preparing this chosen bride, even from her birth, and had been cultivating in her life those qualities that she must have for her role as the mother of many nations, and in becoming one of the greatest of all the great grandmothers of the Lord Jesus. In those early days she did not need to know what her role was to be. Nor do we need to know a great deal about the distinctive role that God has for each of us. It is enough that we learn to love the ways of God, and to walk in obedience, in trust, in honor, in truth, in love, in patience. Then we shall be walking in the right way, and God will be waiting for us there in the pathway of time to visit us with a still greater measure of His presence when the times are ripe, to bring about His own creative handiwork.
"For We Are His Handiwork"
In times of stress and of pressure we are tempted to take matters into our own hands. But in doing so we are very apt to spoil the beautiful picture that God is painting by His artistic fingers. But may we find grace to leave it all in His hands. Then do we become a part of the picture, rather than the amateur artist. Let us be assured of this: this beautiful handiwork of the Master is not perfected by what we are doing for God, but by what He is doing in us. "For we are His workmanship [or, His masterpiece, His handiwork] created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:10). Do we hear what He is saying? The "good works" that are accomplished for Him are those works that He has ordained for us to do. OUR RESPONSIBILITY THEN IS TO SO WALK WITH HIM THAT WE KNOW HIS WILL, AND DO WHAT HE SAYS, AND NOT TO MEDDLE WITH HIS PLAN AND PURPOSE. It is only when you and I come to that place where we have a hearing ear, and a faithful heart that His eternal purposes are accomplished. But once we assume it is our duty and responsibility to bring Gods purpose into being, we immediately frustrate that purpose... by walking in our own ingenious ways, vainly hoping that Gods plan will emerge from it all. God has a beautiful plan for meeting the needs of men, and sending forth a light that will reach all nations. He tells us a little about it... enough to give us vision and hope: for example, His prayer to the Father just prior to His death and resurrection: "That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be ONE IN US: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me" (Jn. 17:21). It is so wonderful to know that. But what folly to think He is trying to encourage you and me to bring about this unity in the Body of Christ. Only He can do that. We do have a responsibility... but it is not to try to fulfill Gods plan. IT IS TO SO WALK WITH HIM IN OBEDIENCE AND IN FAITHFULNESS THAT IN THIS PATHWAY OF GOD HE MIGHT COME FORTH AND JOIN US TOGETHER WITH OTHERS WHO ARE WALKING IN THE SAME PATHWAY OF OBEDIENCE AND OF TRUTH. If we could but forsake our ideas to bring together the Body of Christ, and LEARN OBEDIENCE TO HIS WILL FOR OUR LIVES, we would very quickly see this Divine convergence, this Divine coincidence... of a people in the earth apprehended by the powers of the Kingdom of Heaven. We do nothing more than spoil the picture, when we think "our part" is to take up the brush, and apply the pigment to the canvas... and somehow try to complete the picture that we know God wants to produce in the lives of His people.
Nothing that God has ever done... nothing that He will ever do... can compare to the masterpiece that He is bringing forth in His Church, His holy Bride. All other things were created by the Word of His mouth; but this His masterpiece, has cost God everything He has... everything He is. For He poured His very self into the earth, and shed His blood... that we poor, helpless, weak, and sinful creatures might be transformed by the genius of His love and wisdom and creative power, into the crowning masterpiece of His creation; and to reveal in us, and through us to the world as well as to the celestial realms, the greatness of His glory, not only in this age, but in the ages to come:
"To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by (through) the Church, the manifold wisdom of God" (Eph. 3:10).
"That in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:7).
First, The Betrothal... Then Jezreel
"And I will betroth thee unto Me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto Me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto Me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD. And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear saith the LORD, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; and the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel. And I will sow her unto Me in the earth" (Hos. 2:19-23).
Now Jezreel means "God will sow." And what is it that He is going to sow in the earth? The Bride! "And I will sow her unto Me in the earth..." That is why He created her... to be sown in the earth. To be raptured into His presence, and to be forever with the Lord? Yes! And we greatly anticipate that glorious Day... and to abide with Him forever in His eternal glory. --But Gods purpose is first of all to SOW HER IN THE EARTH, for He will continue to reproduce her kind in the earth for the delight and satisfaction of His own heart. The promise that was given to Rebekah was that she should be "the mother of thousands of millions," or more literally, "the mother of thousands and of tens of thousands" (Gen. 24:60). But all this starts with a betrothal unto the Lord, and with a people who walk in "faithfulness" to her Husband. It starts in the heavens, and there is an interaction in the earth with those who hear His voice, and faithfully react to what He is saying. This interaction of heaven and earth goes on and on, as the heavens hear the earth, and the earth cries out to the heavens. Then the corn and the wine and the oil cry out to the earth for fruitfulness... and the Bride in the earth cries out in her barrenness for the Lord to take away her reproach, and cause her to be fruitful. And then God "sows her in the earth" to make her fruitful. There is a mighty chain-reaction that is set in motion between the heavens and the earth, and between the vessels in the earth who cry out for Him. And the work goes on and on and on... until the whole earth is saturated with the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven.
How dull the invitation has become to the inhabitants of the earth, as a carnal, sickly, anemic Bride cries out to the nations, "Come... Come... Come..."
But all this is going to change when the Bride is sown in the earth; and when this cleansed and chosen one cries "COME!" it is going to quicken the ears of the listeners.
And then "He that heareth" will say "COME!" And the quickening Word will spread from the Bride to the hearer and from the hearer to the hungry and the thirsty in the land:
"And let him that is athirst, COME..." (Rev. 22:17).
What are we saying? The so called "gospel" has been going forth without this dynamic impact of the quickening Word. A million might hear it across the waves... and I am not saying nothing is being accomplished... but it ends there. And with every succeeding generation of Christians there is LESS AND LESS of an impact made upon the nations of the earth. Gods answer is not in multiplying these sterile words that are going forth from evangelists and preachers all over the world but in CAUSING A CHAIN-REACTION IN THE SPIRIT. This will cause the Bride of Christ to activate the Word in the hearers. And this Word will be activated still further in the hearts of the hungry and the thirsty of the earth. God is going to do this as He brings forth this holy Bride, who will walk with Him "in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies," and she "knows the LORD," and she is "sown in the earth."
If we can go about in the journey of life without constantly looking heavenward for the heavenly response to what we are saying and doing, it is evident that the history we are making will fade away like the mist at the dawning of the day. But if in every step of the way we find ourselves looking heavenward for the approval or the disapproval of God in what we are doing, repenting when we find ourselves deviating from the pathway, and returning to Him again... in whom alone we can find rest; then all along the way our hearts are thrilled to see that Divine interlacing of His plan and His purpose in our lives and in the lives of His people. For in all of this the Author and the Finisher of our faith, the Alpha and the Omega, the Builder and the Architect, is creating and forming for Himself a New Creation that will shine forth not only in the earth but throughout the heavenly realm, in praise and honor and glory to Him who is the Master Mind behind it all. We behold the glory of a God who works all things together for our good, and for His own glory. We begin with God, and we must end with God; and we must see God working all things in between, if indeed the history of our lives is to be one that will be worthy of note in the celestial realms. For Heaven is very interested in what God is doing in the earth. Heaven knows that God the Most High came down into our nature, not in theirs. And they know why. They know it is because the unfolding of the New Creation is centered in man, and not in them. Therefore, when Gods servants speak, they are very attentive to hear. They desire to "look into these things..." And they rejoice when Gods servants tell them of glorious things that God is doing in the earth. Likewise they are saddened and dismayed and perplexed when they hear the bad news of our apostasy.
Moses said, "Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak" (Deut. 32:1). For if Heaven does not respond to what we are saying, we might as well say nothing.
Isaiah also had words that he wanted the heavens to hear. "Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken" (Isa. 1:2).
Likewise Jeremiah, who carried great grief because of the waywardness of Gods people: "Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid" (Jer. 2:12). Afraid? Why? "For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water" (vs. 13). Angels fear when they see apostasy like that! Why? Because they know that Gods purposes are all wrapped up in a people in the earth, and they fear what God might do to a disobedient and rebellious people. Likewise when Gods true servants minister in the Spirit, they respond... and they are ready to minister on their behalf; and they rejoice when Gods people repent, and turn to God, and they are moved to action on their behalf.
Do we understand this? HEAVEN IS EARTHLY-MINDED BECAUSE THEY KNOW THAT GODS PURPOSES ARE TO BE WROUGHT OUT IN A PEOPLE WHO WALK IN THE EARTH IN OBEDIENCE TO THE WILL OF GOD.
AND GOD WANTS HIS PEOPLE TO BE HEAVENLY-MINDED BECAUSE IT IS ONLY AS WE FIND OUR CITIZENSHIP THERE, AND OUR RICHES AND RESOURCES THERE, AND OUR WALK THERE, THAT WE WILL BE ABLE TO MINISTER THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN TO THE INHABITANTS OF THE EARTH. AND IT IS ONLY WHEN WE ARE HEAVENLY-MINDED THAT WE CAN EXPECT HEAVEN TO MINISTER TO THE NEEDS OF MEN.
The heavens are astonished at the carnal, rebellious, and apostate ways of the Church. And how they rejoice when they see a people who are drawn to repentance, and when they begin to fear the Lord and to seek Him, and to walk in His ways.
The spirit of the world has pretty well overwhelmed and captivated the Church. So much so that it is taken for granted that if the proven ways of success in the world are applied to the Church, then we can succeed equally as well. And therefore it is assumed that if we are to be successful in church growth and missionary expansion we must become very active, ambitious, zealous, energetic, prosperous, innovative, and know how to tap the resources of Gods people to enlarge our facilities for evangelism, and to reach the hearts of men...
BUT THE LORD JESUS TOLD US THAT IF WE DESIRE TO BE FRUITFUL FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD WE MUST BE WILLING TO BECOME A CORN OF WHEAT... THAT WILL FALL INTO THE GROUND... AND DIE!
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