George H. Warnock: "The
Family of God"
In these series of
writings we hope to confirm in the hearts of God’s people various aspects of His
work in them relative to HIS PURPOSES and HIS WAYS. We need to have a clear
understanding of HIS PURPOSES if we are to pursue the Vision of God, and seek to
follow on to know HIS WAYS. And then as we follow in HIS WAYS we are going to be
greatly perplexed if we do not know that His thoughts and His ways are as far
beyond ours, as are the heavens above the earth.
It is an hour of great
distress and perplexity among God’s people. It is our hope that this, and future
writings on this theme, will do much to enhance and clarify the Vision of God
that He has put within His people, as well as to encourage them to know that His
way is right, perplexing and disturbing as it may seem to be.
Part I, “The Family of
God,” is the first of this series; and if you are not real familiar with the
story of Jacob’s family, we recommend that you read Genesis 35 to 50 before you
continue with this reading.
Once again we would
encourage God’s people to know that His Word is intended to be our Daily Bread,
and not merely something to replenish our storehouse of knowledge. Read His
Word... and other writings that you feel God has put in your hands to read with
this thought in mind. For it is only the broken Bread of the living Word that
can nourish us in the ways of the Lord.
-George H. Warnock
I am confident the time
is at hand when our Lord will arise in the midst of the Church with eyes as a
flame of fire, with feet as of polished brass, with a sharp twoedged sword
proceeding out of His mouth... to cleanse and purge and prepare His people for
l am confident that any
ministry in this hour that does not hear what this One is saying, and does not
minister what this One is ministering, will be heaping up wood, hay, and stubble
for the furnaces of God.
I am confident that
there is a people in the land whom God is preparing, disciplining, and
refining... who are going to minister in this hour out of the heart of God; and
who, because of this, will work and minister in harmony with Him and with one
another, as God sends His fire into the midst of the Church to accomplish His
cleansing and purifying work.
We have come to the end;
and no longer can we merely prophecy about end-time events, and teach end-time
truths. We must begin to minister in union with the End-Time Lord.
Is He not the One who is
the Same yesterday, and today, and forever? Ah Yes He is! But He has a special
End-Time Name, and that Name is the OMEGA... which is the last letter of the
Greek alphabet. I know He is the Alpha, and He changes not. But in this hour He
stands in our midst as the OMEGA. He is bringing to a conclusion. He is bringing
to a consummation. He is finishing what He started. He is completing the
Building, for which He has laid the foundation. He is about to gather the
Harvest, for which He planted the Seed. He will reconcile and join together in
harmony the Family of God, for which He sent His Son to be the “firstborn among
many brethren.” He will bring forth the LOAF in His people, even as He was the
Manna that came down from Heaven. He will effectually join His beloved ones unto
Himself in one BODY, even as He was the BODY through which the Father expressed
Himself in the earth many centuries ago.
The Vision is high, and
we must keep it high. Man has obscured the Vision, because it seems too high for
attainment. But in reality it is because man does not want to go God’s way, and
yield himself as clay in the hands of the Potter. For this is God’s work... this
is God’s creation.., it is not the work of man.
God is going to do what
He said. But He is going to do it in a manner far different from, and far
beyond, what any of us have imagined. He is going to bring to desolation
everything, every church structure, every planting, every gathering together in
His Name, every ministry.., everything that is NOT THE PRODUCT, that is NOT THE
FRUIT OF HIS OWN SPIRIT EXERCISING HIS LORDSHIP IN THE MIDST OF HIS PEOPLE.
And then out of the
ashes of all this desolation He will bring forth the very Beauty of the Lord!
And so I can think of no
better title for this series of messages that I feel the Lord has laid on my
heart, than this beautiful phrase from the prophet Isaiah, where God promised He
would give His people “BEAUTY FOR ASHES.”
Our hope is that we
might rekindle the vision in the hearts of God’s people, and make it clear and
plain... lest in the face of all the disappointment and disillusionment that has
overtaken the people of God they begin to take the course that has been so
tempting to take: either to forsake the Vision entirely, or to so dilute it with
human reasoning and manipulation that there is really nothing left but a vision
for some humanly devised project for promoting programs of various kinds, or
amassing large congregations of people together in one building, under the guise
of gathering together the Body of Christ in “the unity of the Spirit.” In so
many, many cases the Spirit of God is left completely out of the picture.
Invariably this seems to
happen when God comes on the scene and makes His way known. Call it a vision, a
revelation, a promise, or whatever. God may well have given it. But as we wait
for it to come to pass a weariness sets in, a certain sense of perplexity, of
disappointment, of frustration. Then little by little we find some strong leader
who presumptuously begins to tackle the problem with his own wisdom and
understanding. All in the name of “faith,” of course. All in the name of
“Christ.” All in the name of “edifying the Body of Christ.” And so there comes
into being another church structure, another system, another outreach, another
plan for accomplishing what God would accomplish in and through His own Spirit
in the earth. And God gets the credit (though I should really say “the blame”)
for the new machinery that has come into being for the purpose of fulfilling the
Vision of God.
Of course, every man has
to “prove his own work,” and this is not a wholesale condemnation of all that
goes on in the Name of Christ. But this seems to be the general pattern; and for
a season God seems to go along with it (if you understand what I mean). He knows
the course that man will take, and He is not quick to abandon them because of
their failure, or their lack of understanding. He just says nothing, and goes
along with them. He does so in His great wisdom and love. To stop them short in
their tracks would only frustrate them further (if they are determined to go
their own way)... so God lets them do it. “God you said you wanted this... now I
am trying to bring it into being... why do You hinder me?” So He usually just
goes along... and blesses... for a season.
It doesn’t mean He has
approved what man is doing... or that He has changed His mind about anything.
And it doesn’t mean that He is going to incorporate man’s puny efforts into the
grand scheme and design of His own purpose. It is simply a case. of the God of
all wisdom and knowledge giving man the opportunity to do what He knows He alone
can do; and then when man has become aware of his own failures, and the futility
of his own works... God Himself comes on the scene... and in the background of
human failure and desolation, and in the fullness of time, He gives...
“Beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for
The garment of praise
for the spirit of heaviness” (Isa. 61:3).
It is really the story
of the Old Covenant and the New. Not that there was inherently anything wrong
with the righteous requirements of the Law. But when God gave it, man grasped it
in his own hands, and confidently cried, “All that the LORD hath said will we
do...” You might even say that God enticed them into it. He offered it to them.
Paul says, “The Law entered that the offence might abound” (Rom. 5:20). The
thought seems to be it “crept in unawares.” One translation reads, “The law
God knew it would. It
was never part of His eternal purpose for the Church; but it would have a
temporary purpose: namely, to “make sin exceeding sinful”... and to “shut up all
men unto disobedience”... to imprison all men in one prison-house of sin and
disobedience, that one day the Keeper of the prison might walk in and pronounce
the message of free Grace: “If you realize now that you are in prison... if you
know for a certainty that you are helpless and undone, and utterly hopeless
before God, you may go free... I open the prison-door, and set you free, by the
blood of My Cross.”
And so this matter of
justification by faith has become an established truth in the Church ever since
the Reformation; and many congregations throughout the land rejoice in the fact
that they are “not under the law, but under grace.” But this whole matter goes
much deeper than having the right theology; and the fact remains that most
congregations of God’s people are living under Law, though loudly boasting of
their deliverance from it. For the Scriptures make it plain that “IF YE BE LED
OF THE SPIRIT, ye are not under the law” (Gal. 5:18). Only the ministration of
the Spirit of God in our midst can deliver us from Law. Only as we “walk in the
Spirit” are we really free from the Law.
All we have to do is to
take a glance across the scene of Christendom, and what do we find? All kinds of
laws and by-laws for running the Church. Elders and deacons and pastors and
church workers of every kind are ELECTED by the popular vote of the people. It
would be too tedious a matter, and too devastating to carnal ambition, to seek
God so earnestly that the Spirit of God might come forth and say, “Separate unto
me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them,” as He did in
the early Church. (See Acts 13:2.) Who needs that in this day and hour? It is
much easier and more practical to have a missionary program of our own, and send
out the ones we think are qualified for the task.
We could go on and on in
this; but we are just illustrating the fact that God’s people as a whole
continue to function according to LAW, human LAW... whether it be the Law of
Moses, or their own. They have a certain organizational procedure, and all the
while they boast they are “free from the Law.”
Ishmael, Child Of The
Of course, if God were
to come forth in our midst and say, “Now I want you to set apart this young
couple for a special work for Me...” we would perhaps be quite prepared to
submit to His choice, But if we wait and wait for Him to do it, and He remains
silent in the matter, obviously we have to do something about it ourselves. (Of
course, we are not suggesting that the Antioch experience is to be the formula
for the Church. We are only emphasizing that if and when the Spirit of God is
Lord in our midst, He will indicate His will and His way for the people of God.)
And so we have the story
of Ishmael repeated over and over again in our various churches and fellowships
that abound in the land.
“We have the Word… we
have His promises... it’s up to you and me to get in there and make it work...”
And so the “Promise”
that God gives us as a Word to embrace and cherish and hold, a promise that we
must guard and nurture in our spirits, until it becomes a living and “pregnant”
Word within us... we take it rather as a challenge to act upon, in the name of
faith, in the name of Christian zeal, only to end up in frustration.
And God seems to go
along with it for a season. So long, in fact, that we finally are able to
convince ourselves that God DID use our plans after all.
And so Ishmael grows up
in the household of Sarah and Abraham, as the beloved son that God had promised.
God does not whisper in Abraham’s ear the day Ishmael is born, “Now look,
Abraham... Ishmael is your son, and I will bless him... but he is not really the
heir that I promised you.” As a result Abraham comes to consider God’s silence
to be His consent and approval... this year, and next, and next. Time rolls
along, and Ishmael becomes the beloved of Abraham’s heart.
We have been accused of
setting the Vision too high... too high for people to grasp. If only we could
convince the people of God that the Vision is much higher than we have ever
taught or expressed... and that it is not something for them to “grasp,” but to
nurture in their hearts until by the Light of His countenance we are “changed
into the same image.” For though the Vision might be spoken of in many ways (as
we anticipate doing in this series of writings)... in the final analysis the
Vision is NOTHING LESS THAN THE VISION OF HIS OWN GLORY AND PRESENCE, coming to
abide in the House of God.
Then why do we not stop
right here, and leave it at that? Because it is the Vision of Him... and there
are so many facets of His Being, so many rays of His glory, so many aspects of
His beauty, so many unfoldings of His secrets, that unless we see Him in the
full expression of His Being we are not really seeing Him AS HE IS. And God
forbid that we should, in this writing or in any other, become so taken up with
the chemistry of the living Word that we rejoice in our scientific knowledge of
spiritual things, and fail to eat of Him who is the living bread sent down from
Heaven for the life of the world. We must not take our place at the table of the
Lord as a scientist: able to clearly analyze the food that is on the table, and
know for a certainty that there is carbon in this, and sulphur in that... and
hydrogen in that over there... all the while being totally accurate, but NOT
PARTAKING OF THE LIVING TRUTH and allowing it to bring life and health and
strength to our spiritual man.
God waits about thirteen
years, and then He comes on the scene and reveals Himself afresh to Abraham, and
announces: “This shall not be the heir... Sarah shall have a son...” Abraham’s
immediate response is one of surprise, and frustration, as if to say,
“Impossible, Lord. But we have Ishmael already... Why not Ishmael Lord?”
We see an awful lot of
the Ishmael in the Church today... in church structures and programs, and in the
individual lives of God’s people. Not away out there in the apostate church...
but in the midst of the anointed people, the people of God who profess to have
the Spirit and to know His ways. God continues to bless, and God’s blessing is
taken as a sign of His approval. But in the midst of it all there is the Abraham
people of God, who are aware that God is coming on the scene... and they are
hearing Him announce as He did to Abraham and Sarah: “My covenant will I
establish with Isaac...”
In other words, God is
bringing us back to the clear Vision that He announced in the Word; and we are
going to have to forsake our own initiatives and all the schemes that we have
devised to bring forth the true Body of Christ in the earth. For instance...
“God wants His people to
be ONE. Just forget your differences and come together, and worship with us...
forget your doctrines, they only divide the Body of Christ, and they don’t
really matter all that much... just praise and worship together with us, and
learn to love one another...”
And so we have a very
sentimental display of what they call love and unity, and a systematized form of
worship and praise, something you just do, something you just perform, something
you even do in the flesh if need be, just as long as you do it.
Or we have a more
practical, a more structured way of doing it...
“We have true leadership
in our church. We have the apostolic and prophetic order established by God. We
are authorized to establish the church on its proper foundation. Come under this
covering, get on this sure foundation... and you will come into true
relationship with the Body of Christ...” And so, acting under the delusion that
because God did something wonderful away back there in history, whether it be so
many centuries ago or so many years ago... and because they have continued on in
that particular “movement” in an unbroken line of succession, therefore, it just
must be RIGHT to try to continue and perpetuate what God started. The Spirit of
God may have left the whole thing centuries ago... or even just a few years ago,
as the case may be... but because God started it we are supposed to try to
God help us to learn the
lesson of Eli, of Saul, of Bethel, of Jerusalem, of Rome, of Constantinople...
and we could go on and on in this; places where God’s glory once rested in power
and authority, but which have long since ceased to be anything more than an
empty shell, just a memory of what HAS BEEN. Hear what God has to say about
Bethel, the House of God, the place of God’s visitation to His chosen Jacob...
but which God forsook because the people had gone into apostasy and idolatry:
“For thus saith the LORD
unto the house of Israel, SEEK YE ME, and ye shall live: but SEEK NOT BETHEL,
for... BETHEL SHALL COME TO NOUGHT. SEEK THE LORD, and ye shall live” (Amos
God help His people to
understand that places, things, gifts, enablements, ministries, men of God,
movements, whatever He might have anointed and used for His glory, THESE ARE NOT
TO BE HELD IN VENERATION BY GOD’S PEOPLE; and that for their day and hour they
are to be received and honored only as channels of His grace to LEAD HIS PEOPLE
INTO RELATIONSHIP WITH HIMSELF. Then having served their purpose, God removes
them from the scene, that He Himself might have all the glory.
Let us just summarize
briefly what we have been saying: the Truth, the Vision, the Promise… these come
to us by revelation of the Spirit.
We accept it, embrace
it, joy and delight in it... and wait and wait for God to bring us into it.
Then comes a certain
sense of weariness and disappointment, and we discover we can’t seem to get God
to hurry along with His plans.
Human zeal enters... and
we convince ourselves (or others will convince us) that the Promise is not
really quite as unreachable as we thought... it is there in our power to
fulfill... just take Hagar, and it will work.
Sure enough, it works!
There is conception, and birth, and the growing of a young man unto maturity!
And God in silence says
nothing... until His appointed hour. Then He comes on the scene, and says, “No!
“This one that I am
bringing forth will not be by human engineering. Nor shall it be partly human
and partly by my Spirit.” (You know, “Do your part and God will do His.., start
out in the flesh and somewhere God will enter the picture and takeover ...”)
God says, “My thoughts
are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” (Isa. 55:8).
God says, “Not by might,
nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the LORD of hosts” (Zech. 4:6).
God says, “Having begun
in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Gal. 3:3). Notice where
we are to begin, and where we are to end, “In the Spirit.”
God says, if you are not
“led of the Spirit” you are “under law” (Gal. 5:18).
God says He is looking
for a people who will “worship Him in SPIRIT and in TRUTH” (Jn.4:23).
God grant that the
Abraham people of this hour will be prepared to forsake their many Ishmaels that
the true Isaac of God’s promise might come forth. And let us remember that it is
Sarah, the barren woman, who will bring this to birth. Let Hagar despise her
mistress in her eyes, because of her present fruitfulness. But the barren and
utterly hopeless people of God are going to LAUGH in that day, when Isaac is
born (“Isaac” means “laughter”)... and it will not be the giddy laugh of Hagar,
but the laugh of victory and triumph, and a rejoicing in the faithfulness of God
who beheld the low estate of the barren and fruitless people, who found GRACE in
His sight because of their broken and contrite spirit. We are considered to be
lazy and slothful if we do not get excited about the many outreaches and
programs we find in the Church for the building up of the Body of Christ. God
says the slothful man is the man who does not learn PATIENCE: “That ye be not
slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the
promises” (Heb. 6:12). And in the immediate context, it is Abraham and Sarah
that God is talking about.
Those who have learned a
measure of Patience in their lives know that it takes more spiritual exercise
and striving to wait before God until you know His guidance and direction, than
it does to come up with a good plan and program of your own. It takes a far
greater degree of obedience to discover what God is requiring, and to do what
God would have us do, than it does to follow along in some humanly devised and
well-meaning program that is tangible, and workable, and has much to show for it
in the natural.
The Fullness Of God
There are many aspects
of the great work that God is doing in the earth, and in this series of writings
we want to explore and examine some of them. In each case we want to show how
God is revealing the glory and majesty of His Being in a different light, in a
different way. How else shall we know the “fullness” of His purposes, except as
we see the shining forth of His glory in its many divergent colors?
Paul speaks of the
“manifold wisdom of God”... or “the many-sided aspects of God’s wisdom.” God
forbid that we should depart from the simplicity of the Gospel, from the
simplicity of knowing Christ. But let us not glibbly say, “O I know Jesus... I
am not concerned about all these so called deeper truths... Jesus is enough for
Yes, Jesus is all we
want.., all we need. But the Jesus that most Christians have is very small, very
weak, very helpless. God help us to know that we are not going to really know
Him, we are not going to really see Him, we are not really going to appreciate
the glory of His Being... until He comes to take up His habitation in His
Temple, His Body, His Family that is in the earth, and then in and through them
reveals the very “fullness” of His Being.
Let not the Vision that
God has given concerning His people be marred by the excitement that erupts in
the Church when some great or mighty miracle is performed. God is certainly
performing miracles, and He will continue to do signs and wonders in and through
His people that are in the earth. But all this is nothing compared to the SIGN
that His people are to BECOME when God has finished the work that He started,
and made HIS PEOPLE TO BE SIGNS to be wondered at by the nations of the earth:
“Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for SIGNS and for
WONDERS in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in Mount Zion” (Isa.
BEAUTY FOR ASHES--I--THE
FAMILY OF GOD
God has planned and
ordained that there shall be a full and complete expression of the living Christ
in His family that is in the earth. We dare not lower God’s standard, or dilute
the revelation of the Spirit with human opinions or methods, in order to make it
“workable.” This continues to go on. But in the end God lays it all aside, and
brings forth that HOLY THING from His own creative hand.
What do we mean by the
“fullness of God,” or the “fullness of Christ” being revealed in and through His
people? The Greek word is “pleroma” and means a “completeness,” that state where
there is “nothing lacking.” In no place are the people of God to fall short of
the glory and beauty of Christ. God is going to “complete” and bring to a
glorious conclusion, all that He has purposed in His beloved people.
Now we know that the
work of Redemption was completed when Jesus was here on earth, as far as His
earthly ministry was concerned. He said in His great high-priestly prayer to the
Father, “I have finished the work which thou gayest me to do,” and we hear Him
saying in His dying moments on the Cross, “IT IS FINISHED.” His work on earth
But there was a great
work for Him to do in the heavens, and this has largely been lost sight of by
God’s people. They somehow have the notion that He is filling in time until He
can come back to earth and set up an earthly kingdom. God help His people to
believe Him when He says that His Son is NOW reigning in Zion, and will continue
to do so until all enemies are subdued under His feet (Ps. 110:1; 1 Cor. 15:25,
He went to Heaven to set
up His Kingdom; and He NOW rules and reigns from a heavenly throne, as both KING
and PRIEST, “as a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true Tabernacle, which
the Lord pitched and not man” (Heb. 8:2). His coming back is not to set up a
Kingdom, but to complete the work which He started when He sat down at the right
hand of the Majesty on high... to gather in the Harvest, to judge and consume
the chaff and the tares, and to give to every man according to His works.
For almost two thousand
years He has been ministering, and working, and reigning from Zion, the City of
God; bringing to nought the devices of men, overthrowing, rooting up, tearing
down... as well as building and planting. This work is not finished yet, but it
is going to be. And once again the cry will ring forth (not from the Gross this
time, but from the heavens) “IT IS FINISHED.” (See Rev. 10:7.) The mystery of
God is going to be “finished.” Whatever God has planned and purposed for His
people is going to be completed. He is the Alpha and the Omega. He is the
Author, as well as the “Finisher” of our faith.
Now just where, and at
what point in the Book of Revelation God completes His work in the Church is not
our present concern. But we do want to emphasize that the people of God are in
reality the “Finished Work” that God has in mind. We, His people, are the
crowning work of His creation. “We are His workmanship...” as the apostle said
(Eph. 2:10). Another translation reads this way, “We are His HANDIWORK.” We are
to be the very crowning glory of His creative power and majesty!
Paul says, “The Church
which is His body, the fullness (pleroma) of Him that filleth all in all” (Eph.
That the Lord Jesus was
Himself the “fullness of God” when here on earth, and NOW in the heavens… is
really no problem to the people of God. We know that “in Him dwelleth all the
fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9); because “it pleased the Father that
in Him should all the fulness dwell” (Col. 1:19). And we know that it applies to
Him NOW in the full measure of kingly power and authority; and that it applied
to Him when He was on earth in the beauty of His life, and nature, and
character. It was the “glory of the Father” that shone forth in His earthly life
and ministry (John 1:14). For the Son of God was the “express image” of the
Father, the One who radiated the nature of the Father, lived by the life of the
Father, spoke the words of the Father, and did the works of the Father. Truly
God hath spoken “by His Son,” or more literally, “IN SON”... the Son was
HIMSELF, IN FLESH, the SPOKEN EXPRESSION OF THE FATHER (Heb. 1:1,2). We know it
means that all virtues, all graces, all attributes that pertain to God are and
were wrapped up in Christ. In no area does He fall short. He is that “fulness”
It is not to say that
the totality of God’s Being dwells in one human body, the body of Jesus; but
rather the perfection of it, the fulness of it, the complete expression of it.
If it be patience and longsuffering, God has manifested these in all of His
dealings with men from the beginning of time. But we see the “fulness” of it in
Jesus. Power? We see the glory of His power everywhere in the Universe. But the
“fulness” of it, the “completeness” of it, we find in Jesus. In Him resides the
“full expression” of everything, every attribute, every grace, every virtue that
is inherent in the heart of God. Most of us have no problem in this.
But now that Jesus has
been glorified, He has taken on an EXTENSION of His Body, to include the Family
of God; and now this EXTENDED body, this ENLARGED body is said to be the
“fulness of Christ,” or the full expression of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself...
“The FULNESS OF HIM THAT FILLETH ALL IN ALL...”
Theology has a tendency
to accept Truth as long as it does not become LIVING TRUTH... as long as it does
not change the status quo... as long as it does not start some kind of
revolution. But this statement about the Church being the FULL EXPRESSION OF
CHRIST is not something for theologians to analyze, it is something for God’s
people to appropriate. Listen to these words, which the apostle did not feel he
could utter without cloaking the revelation in a prayer that God’s people might
enter into it.
“For this cause I bow my
knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in
heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of
His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; that
Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye being rooted and grounded in
love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length,
and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth
knowledge...” (Eph. 3:14-19).
Perhaps there is nothing
too controversial in what we have quoted. But we didn’t finish it! In all that
the apostle had been saying we feel the crescendo of heart yearning for more and
more and still more of God until we are literally lost, immersed in the FULNESS
OF GOD HIMSELF... May we finish reading this wonderful prayer...
“And to know the love of
Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with (or UNTO) all THE
FULNESS OF GOD!”
How dare we dilute the
Truth concerning the Body of Christ to the level of human emotion, and settle
for this sentimental idea of everybody getting together, patting one another on
the back, and learning to love them and get along!
Only by the Spirit of God are
we going to see in some faint measure the burden of God’s heart for His people,
and the yearning that overwhelmed the heart of the apostle, as he contemplated
the glory that God had in store for His family. And how clearly he revealed to
us the step-by-step process that God would lead His family in, that they might
explore and appropriate and be lost in this boundless realm of Divine LOVE!
Oceans and fathomless depths of LOVE! Heights and depths of LOVE beyond all
human ability to understand and comprehend! And the revelation of it all is
couched in deep yearnings from the heart of God, and from the heart of the
apostle, in a prayer that is born of the Spirit. For only God could enable a man
to pray this way... that His Family on earth might be able to “apprehend” this
glorious revelation and experience; for the word is much stronger than
“comprehend.” It means to RECEIVE and to RECEIVE FULLY the revelation of it
until we are FILLED UNTO ALL THE FULLNESS OF God... until in and through God’s
precious Family in the earth we might see, and the world might see, the full
expression, the completion, the full display of the LOVE OF GOD.
Keep The Vision High!
Keep the Vision high;
and as you do, do not yield to the temptation that it just must mean less than
God says, otherwise we could never attain to it. For we are not talking about
human achievement… something you just try to do... we are talking about Divine
enablement... And still more, we are talking about New Creation life and what
God is able and willing to do with earthen vessels. We are talking about the
might of the Potter, and the futility of the clay. You have a part, I know. But
your part and mine is to be the CLAY in the hands of the POTTER. Your part and
mine is to let Him mould, and form, and plan... as we simply yield, and let, and
allow, and permit, and seek Him, and yearn after Him until He does it!
And God forbid that the
pressing needs of mankind should deter us from the pathway we pursue, as we
follow this Light; for may we recognize that this, and this alone, is God’s
provision for every human need. And furthermore, as we walk in this pathway, and
as we embrace this Vision, let us be assured that the needs of men are being met
along the way according to the degree in which we are being conformed to the
image of Christ, and not according to the degree in which we are conformed to
the programs and the outreaches of religious zeal and enthusiasm. For it is only
in the pursuit of the calling that God sets before us that we will become those
channels of His grace and blessing that He desires us to be.
The High Calling
Let not the height of
the Vision dismay you, or discourage you as you walk towards it. Remember
this.., that the high calling is not too high for you, or God would not have
called you to it. And take courage in the fact that the HIGH calling is really
an UPWARD call, as the Greek word means, and as it is translated in some
versions. It is an UPWARD call! This gives us hope and courage. If it were
simply “high,” I could very well look up and say, “It is just too high for me.”
I might gaze at the heights of the call, and flounder in discouragement. But it
is an UPWARD call! God is saying to you and to me, “I am calling you UPWARD... I
want you to go on... I want you to come higher... I do not want you to stay
where you are, frustrated and perplexed and bewildered. The reason you abide in
those realms is because you do not see the Vision. And if you see it you think I
have set before you a goal that you know you can never reach. You do not
understand that I only ask you to take one step at a time, and I only ask you to
climb the steps with Me, as you take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me... for
I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”
And so we take but one
step at a time, and God is pleased. But we must not lag behind or yield to the
enticements that come our way from time to time to take a shortcut. For there
are many that appear to be good. You can get gifts of the Spirit freely. You
might even develop for yourself a ministry, that may satisfy your heart for a
season, and from which you might find a certain fulfillment. And certainly you
need His gifts! But pray God that He will cause you to sit and learn from
ministries that will lead you to His feet... ministries that will encourage you
to take His yoke, and follow His ways. Gifts and ministries must not be
considered to be in any sense ultimate.., they are but means to the end.., and
the end pursuit of gift and ministry is to come to know Him, to be joined in
like spirit unto others in the Family of God who are seeking to come to the
“fullness” of Him.., so that together you might be able to comprehend, to
apprehend, to receive fully... the living Christ, in the full expression of His
And let us not be
dismayed when in spite of all our noble efforts to climb higher we feel... we
just know... that we are getting lower and lower. For as we travel this way we
are going to discover, as men and women of all ages have discovered... that...
The way UP is DOWN...
The way OVER is UNDER...
The way to SUCCESS is
The way to true
PROSPERITY is through spiritual BANKRUPTCY...
The way to the true
RICHES, is through POVERTY...
The way to VICTORY, is
The way to LIFE, is
And therefore, for the people
of the UPWARD WAY God has set before us a very clear pattern and example:
“Let this mind be in you, which
was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery
to be equal with God (Or, ‘He did not consider that equality with God was
something He should grasp after’): but made himself of no reputation, and took
upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being
found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death,
even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and
given him a name which is above every name” (Phil. 2:5-9).
For the Son of God, the
Captain of our Salvation, the Author and the Finisher of our faith... for Him
the UPWARD CALL was one that brought Him lower, and lower, and lower.., even
unto the death of the Cross.
And so it must be with you and
me. God deliver us from all that striving we see today to excel... striving for
highness, for exaltation, for greatness, for bigness... even among many who
profess to know the “end-time” message, and who profess to be heirs of the
“Kingdom.” Let us make no mistake about it... the pathway of SONSHIP leads to
none of these. It takes one lower, and lower, and still lower... in order that
in the Spirit of Christ we might rise higher, .. and higher, and still higher...
The Family Of Jacob
In the family of Jacob
we have a type... perhaps we should say a prototype... of the Family of God; and
this is what we want to consider in this writing.
God has declared Himself
to be “the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob...”
In Abraham God called a
man whom He would discipline, and test, and try, until He had made of him a
pattern of FAITH for all generations to come. He was to become “the father of
all that believe,” “the heir of the world,” the one in whose Seed (remember God
said SEED, not seeds, for the Seed is Christ--Gal. 3:16,29)... the one in whose
SEED all nations of the world were to be blessed.
In Isaac we have the
firstfruits... the firstborn son of Abraham’s family... the hope, the promise,
the earnest of the great Family of God that was yet to be born.
In Jacob we have the
outworking of God’s dealings in the Family of God: first in Jacob himself, and
then in his twelve sons. And in all this we have a clear picture and pattern of
how God deals with His family by way of disciplining, teaching, chastising,
frustrating, devastating... and yet in and through it all ordaining and
preparing them for a glorious latter end.
All this, of course, is
for our edification and encouragement, as we travel much the same pathway as
they did, and experience the same frustrations, longings, disappointments, joys,
and encouragements as they did.
As we become acquainted
with the God of Abraham we learn obedience, faith, trust, and yet in the midst
of it all, a certain unrest, a certain perplexity, a certain frustration. We
embrace the promise and begin to walk in it, but the promise lingers
unfulfilled. We pitch our altar, and know the presence of God, but not for long.
We must move on, and on... to new altars, to new areas of commitment and
dedication to God. New horizons open up before us. New frustrations beset us.
All the while we are looking for something more real, something more permanent,
something more lasting... only to find ourselves in the end as “strangers and
pilgrims in the earth.” Nothing fully satisfies, great and wonderful as it may
be. There may arise from time to time the feeling, “Why can’t we be satisfied
like Lot... to find a well-watered plain somewhere in the land, and just settle
down.” Some of God’s righteous ones, like Lot, will do that; but we can’t. The
Vision holds us steady... the Vision of a “City which hath foundations, whose
Builder and Maker is God...”
Of course the Lord is
faithful, and after patient endurance on Abraham’s part, God fulfils the
promise. Isaac comes forth, the true child of promise, and there is joy and
laughter (as “Isaac” means)... laughter such as only Abraham and Sarah can
understand and experience. Not the giddy joy and laughter of entertainers who go
about promoting the laughter of the world in the midst of God’s people... but
the laughter of true spiritual HOPE. There is “rejoicing in hope of the glory of
God.” There is a joy that is born out of tribulation, and patience... A joy that
comes in the morning, after the night of weeping. There is still much work to be
wrought out in the lives of God’s Family, but the hope, the Vision... will
sustain and strengthen as God completes the work that He has begun.
And so we come to Jacob,
in whom God would give us a pattern of the transforming work of His grace in the
lives of His chosen ones. In Jacob God reveals the process whereby He would
change the name of His chosen ones; for when God “names” His people, He names
them according to the nature that they have, or the nature that is yet to be,
And the changing of Jacob’s name signifies the changing of his nature, of his
whole way of life, until Jacob comes forth as ISRAEL, Israel the Prince of God,
Israel the Overcomer.
Like Jacob, we too are
born the beloved of God. Even before he was born God said, “Jacob have I
loved...” In vain are we going to search out the heart of God in an attempt to
discover WHY He loved us. In vain are we going to search out our own hearts, if
perchance the reason for His love was prompted by something we discover within
ourselves. So let us leave all this kind of searching aside. But we must know,
if we are going to survive the tests, the frustrations, the trials, the
temptations of life.., that in and through it all our Father God loves us, and
for NO REASON that He has been pleased to reveal.
And yet, in spite of
this love, and our awareness of it, it does not prevent us from striving to get
it, or from striving to maintain it. And like Jacob we are going to discover
that with every effort we make to get more and more of this spiritual life, the
more frustrated we become. It takes time... and experience. But sooner or later
we are to discover that to really find God we have to surrender all that we have
acquired. I mean surrender all our spiritual blessings, all our spiritual
enablements, all our spiritual gifts.
You see, God may entice
us with gifts and blessings... for these gifts and blessings proceed from Him,
and they indicate to you and me somewhat concerning His nature, His heart... and
they are necessary for our spiritual growth. But God wants us to know that it is
not sufficient merely to have certain of His blessings and His gifts residing
within us... He wants to occupy the throne room of our heart completely, alone
and by Himself.
No problem, of course..,
as long as we can hold on to what we have until we can replace it with something
better. “God, you give me more of Yourself, and I’ll give you more of myself...”
But God does not work that way. Were He to do so He would be allowing you to
have the lordship that He the Jealous God requires for Himself. And so He will
insist that we surrender to Him, before He will surrender to us. “Give Me
everything, every natural endowment, every spiritual endowment.., every natural
possession, every spiritual possession. Then I will give you MYSELF...” For God
is a jealous God, and will not share His glory with another. He may share His
blessings, all the while we are receiving comfort and satisfaction from other
sources. But He will not share His glory, His abiding presence, His lordship
with anything or anyone else.
The experience of Bethel
is a wonderful experience. The word means “House of God”... and the revelation
of the House of God, the Church of God, the Family of God, has been precious in
our eyes. The vast majority of the Family of God have camped right there, and
seemingly desire nothing more than the revelation of His glory at the House of
God. After all, Jacob discovered Bethel to be “the gate of heaven.” What more
could we desire?
But to what had Jacob
really attained? Really, all that was there was a heap of stones. What he had
was a revelation, and it was good. “The House of God.” “The Gate of Heaven.”
Angels of God were ascending and descending upon the heap of stones. But how few
of us have noticed that GOD HIMSELF was still beyond his reach... that God was
at the TOP of the ladder!
We are still very much
at Bethel… the place of the revelation of God’s purposes in His people. But we
are still a heap of stones. God is working on those stones, I know. And He will
continue to chisel, and shape, and fashion according to His will, until we
become “living stones” and built together to form “a habitation of God in the
There are many things
that God says concerning His people as positive declarations. We are His Church.
We are His Building. We are His Temple. We are Living Stones. And we could go on
and on. But God help us not to fall into the deception of thinking that His
declaration of what we are is sufficient, and thereby deny to ourselves the
workings and dealings of God in our lives that will truly and effectually MAKE
US TO BE what He DECLARES US TO BE.
When God appeared to
Abram and announced, “Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy
name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee” (Gen.
17:5), God was declaring His purpose. And as Abraham embraced God’s Word, his
faith would grow and be strengthened in order that the promise might be
fulfilled. God’s declaration of what he was, was sure and certain because God
had declared it but it wasn’t actually so as yet. The promised seed (Isaac) was
not even born yet; and the actual fact of Abraham becoming the father of nations
would be years, decades, centuries away.
Inherent in the changing
of the NAME is the guarantee and the provision by God Himself that we cherish
and embrace, in order that it might become actual and real in our lives. He
calls His own Name upon us. He says we are holy; He says we are AS HE IS; He
says we are His brethren; He says we are righteous; He says we are of His flesh,
and of His bone; He says we are one with Him. As we embrace that He will MAKE US
TO BE what He now DECLARES US TO BE.
First Bethel... Then
This is the order:
Bethel, the House of God; and then Peniel, the Face of God!
The time had come for
God to strip the striving, grasping Jacob of all that he had. And so on his
return from Haran back to the land of promise, God was preparing him for that
confrontation with Himself that would make him to be an OVERCOMER. Jacob finds
himself alone, alone under the stars at Jabbock. He was facing what he thought
was a revengeful Esau, and in fear he surrendered and forfeited everything he
had. And now at the fords of Jabbock God confronted him face to face. The
struggle lasted all through the night; for though we long for God, and earnestly
pray that He will have His way with us... as He seeks to do so He finds it
difficult to prevail against us.
How can mortal man make
it difficult for God to subdue him? Simply because mortal man was nevertheless
made in God’s image... and God’s dealings with man (especially His chosen ones)
are mingled with great concerns that the image which man has lost may be found
again. God’s sons are begotten, and not merely created like beasts of the field.
They are begotten in the Father’s image and likeness. Therefore He desires a
Father-son relationship, obedience, submission, friendship, fellowship. He has
ten thousand times ten thousand of other creatures that do not bear His nature
and likeness; and they do whatever God says. But His sons He has chosen from
among the sons of men, and God would reproduce in them His own nature: by
dealing with them as with sons, by discipline, by chastisement. His hand may be
heavy upon them at times, but then He will restrain Himself.., that His
disciplined ones might voluntarily and willingly draw closer to Him.
But at the breaking of
the Day the Angel of God touches Jacob with the touch we all long for, all the
while strenuously resisting His every attempt to reach us.
We must continue to ask
the Lord to bring us to our Jabbock. Dr. Strong says the word “Jabbock” is from
a word that means to “pour out” or to “empty.” We often pray, “Lord, fill us...”
And it is true that God
can give us many things, many blessings, with whatever degree of commitment we
are able to give, But if we truly desire the “fullness of Him” there is only one
way a complete pouring out and emptying of ourselves at the river Jabbock. It is
only in giving Him all of us, that we can receive all of Him, He will not give
up on us, because we are slow to yield. He will continue the confrontation, if
our hearts are truly after Him, until He succeeds in giving us the final
touch... the touch that cripples, the touch that leaves us lame, never to walk
the same again. Jacob had received a “new name” consistent with the new nature
and the new life that he was to live from that day forward. No longer “Jacob the
supplanter,” but “Israel, the prince of God.”
But Jacob did not go
forth from that experience declaring himself to be God’s man of power. When you
hear of men who claim that title, or accept it... you just know that they have
never seen the Face of God at Peniel, After that kind of experience, God’s
Israels will limp their way along in the ways of God, forever halting on their
thigh. Paul said, “Let no man trouble me, for I bear in my body the brand-marks
of the Lord Jesus.” There might be a lot of boasting at Bethel, the House of
God; but there will be none at Peniel, when one beholds the Face of God. Long
after Jacob’s glorious experience at Peniel we hear Jacob testifying before
Pharaoh, “Few and evil have the days of the years of my life been...” (Gen.
The positive testimony,
the testimony of God’s overcoming ones, is this: that in me there dwelleth no
good thing... that His strength is made perfect in my weakness… that in and
through every devastating experience we have known in life, God has been
faithful to give Beauty for Ashes, the Oil of Joy for Mourning, and the Garment
of Praise for the spirit of heaviness.
God Of Jacob!
God of Abraham! We can
understand that, for Abraham was a man of faith, who walked in obedience before
God of Isaac! We can
understand that, for the Fear of God was upon him, and he too walked with God,
with few deviations.
But the God of Jacob?
What encouragement to you and me, who have known much perplexity and
discouragement, and yet have discovered in and through it all that God was
working in our hearts great longings and desires for Him, and for Himself alone.
And to think that He puts His own Name upon us: “Israel, Prince of God... you
have Power with God and with Men.”
It is a Name we bear in
our reproach. We do not FEEL that the Name is appropriate... but we must take
it. Our hope can be in nothing else, but that we accept His Name upon our lives.
In doing so we are actually inviting Him to have free rein in our lives, and to
work His nature and character into our beings. His Name He would put upon our
foreheads that we might have His heart, His mind, His thoughts... and that we
might walk in His ways. The God of great power and might, condescends to put His
Name upon the sons of men. But what kind of condescension is this that He would
take OUR NAME, and ascribe it to Himself. Listen to this:
“This is the generation
of them that seek Him, that seek thy face, O Jacob...” (Ps. 24:6). God takes the
name of Jacob for Himself! For He takes our nature, our sickness, our problems,
in order that we might take His Name, His nature, His strength, and His life. He
becomes our “Jacob”... that we might become His “Israel”!
A Family Of Many
We are talking about the
Family of God. God has a family. He has One Beloved Son, an only begotten. There
is only One that is in this unique and special sense the Son of God. But God
will not be content until He has a FAMILY like Him. Not because He is not
satisfied with the only Son... but because the only begotten of the Father is so
precious in His sight, and so delights His heart.., that He wants to have more
We get discouraged
sometimes when we see the many faults and failures in the Family of God: the
resentments, the pride, the jealousies, the hate, the conceit, the divisions,
the striving for pre-eminence. Then we read of God’s requirement of us, that we
walk in unity, and in love, and in truth, and in peace. And O the frustration
that sets in as men try to bring this about in the Family of God. Of course, we
have to lower the Vision of God to our human plane in order to make it work. We
do not insist that the Family of God walks in total harmony and union with the
Son of God and with one another. Obviously that is impossible. So we just
encourage people to love one another, to be kind and forgiving, to forget their
differences.., to try and get along as the happy Family of God. The various
schemes that we have mentioned are brought into play... teachings of
“submission” to authority and leadership, and the like; and with these methods
we hope to alleviate the stress that we see as brother tries to co-exist with
brother in the Body of Christ.
All well-intentioned, of
course, and for a season it might seem to work. But surely we have had enough
experience in Church life by now to know that sooner or later there is going to
be a disruption... another division... another clash... and new congregations
will be born out of the ashes of the old. Then there is a certain sense of
satisfaction in the thought that the trouble-makers have left... now we can
start building afresh, Or the “trouble-makers” that have left get to feeling...
“We are going to go on with God, no matter what the others do”... and there is a
new fellowship of come-outers.
All this has been very
frustrating to behold; especially in the eyes of those who just know that they
have the order for the New Testament Church. They just know that if Christians
would get out of all these old systems and join them, they would grow in grace,
and unto the stature of Christ!
“We have no problem in
our fellowship,” I have heard it said... “We have New Testament order and
leadership. Our ministers work together in harmony. The people are taught to
obey the leaders… as they do that there is peace.” Or, words to that effect.
Not to mention of course
that if one or more of the corporate leadership disagrees they are
dis-fellowshipped because of insubordination.
And not to mention that if the
people leave from time to time it is because they are rebellious... or (and this
is quoted frequently), “They went out from us, because they were not of us..,
for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us
A Sign That Deliverance
Is At Hand
But personally, in and
through all the strife and the division and the separations that I see going on
in churches and fellowships of various kinds I find real cause for hope and
encouragement. I just know that God has a plan... a plan that Is much greater
than any of our plans. I just know that God is working in the earth to bring
about true reconciliation in the Family of God; and to bring into being the
peace, and the unity, and the harmony that God is after. And I believe that
God’s plan is even now being unveiled, and it is working; and the strife and
perplexity and upheavals that we see going on about us, even amongst the
dedicated and committed children of God, is an indication that the Day of
Deliverance for the people of God is nigh at hand. Why do I say this?
Never was the nation of
Israel closer to the day of deliverance from Egyptian bondage than the day that
Aaron and Moses stood before Pharaoh and said, “Let my people go...” And yet the
bondage, and the strife, and the turmoil in the people of God was never greater
than it was in that hour. Furthermore, it got worse, and not better... right up
until the night the children of Israel departed from Egypt!
Never had such
frustration and division and distress overtaken the twelve disciples as in the
day and hour when Jesus died on the Cross. And the little flock to whom God had
promised the Kingdom was scattered far and wide on that dreadful day. Yet it was
in that very hour that our Lord by His death and by His resurrection would
gather them together in the unity and harmony of His Spirit.
THEIR TIME OF DESOLATION
WAS BUT THE BIRTH-PANGS OF A NEW ORDER!
I believe it is so
today. There is a lot of talk of unity, of coming together, of ecumenicism...
whether it be out there in the apostate church or amongst God’s true people. And
the more we see and hear of it, the more strife and turmoil are we caused to
behold, IT IS BUT THE BIRTH-PANGS OF GOD’S NEW ORDER!
He is sifting, sifting,
sifting, the hearts of men. God is not in the least interested in gathering
together and joining together a carnal people, a people filled with their own
ways, a people of contention and bitterness and strife. And when men in the
Church think they can just brush all this under the carpet in the name of
“love,” or in the name of “submission” to authority, or in the name of
maintaining “New Testament Church Order,” God is quick to come on the scene,
with eyes as a flame of fire, and to devastate and confound the devices of the
Jacob’s Happy Family In
Moved upon by God to
come back home, after spending some 20 years or more in Haran with his uncle
Laban, Jacob returned with the blessing of God, and settled in the land of
Canaan, the land of his fathers, the land that God had promised to give them for
their inheritance. Of course, they continued on in the land as “pilgrims and
strangers”... for the day of actually possessing their inheritance had not yet
God had been faithful to
the striving, self-seeking Jacob all through the years of his exile; but now he
is home with his family, his very happy family, and dwelling together in peace
in the land of Promise. All living together in communal harmony, and blessing.
All working together, and knowing happy times together, as the heirs of the
blessing that God had promised their father Abraham.
But they were still but
the stones that Jacob saw at Bethel many years before. The Family of God, yes;
but not really builded together as the true Bethel, the House of God.
Let not God’s ministers
continue on in their vain delusions any longer. We do not have the unity of the
Spirit and the bond of peace just because we can assemble together under one
roof, and sing the same beautiful songs of Zion, and raise our hands together in
praise and worship. It may all look very good to the undiscerning eye. And
occasionally you will hear remarks like this, when there is a mixing of various
congregations and fellowships: “Isn’t it wonderful how God is bringing together
the Body of Christ... look at this congregation... and all the different
churches that are represented...”
Sooner or later they are
to discover that there is another upheaval, another trial, another scattering,
and great disillusionment sets in. “How long, O Lord,” we ask, “Are these things
God lift the veil from
our eyes that we might see: it was not a “division” that took place when
suddenly the people of God were scattered; but the “division” was there long
before they even assembled together in one congregation in the first place. It
simply took these many months or years for the division to become unveiled.
A Divided Heart
Again, let us say, God
is not in the least interested in His people trying to maintain a semblance of
“unity”... if their hearts are divided. He is not in the least interested in
joining flesh to flesh, carnality to carnality... and CALLING IT THE UNITY OF
THE SPIRIT. The “unity of the Spirit” means exactly that we are ONE WITH THE
SPIRIT OF GOD. We have come under His Lordship. He is in charge. He dictates the
order and the worship and the praise of the people of God. He gives the
direction in which we are to go as we assemble together in His Name. The members
of the Body of Christ come together having sought the Lord earnestly... that
they might not fail to contribute their portion for the edification of all:
whether it be a Word, a Song, an Utterance... or whether it be to quietly sit
there and pray for, and move in union with those whom God is using.
We could go on and on in
this... and we all know very well that this type of gathering is practically
unknown in the assembling together of the people of God. We are not talking
about “the unity of the faith” which is still farther down the road, we are
talking about the “unity of the Spirit” which is now within reach of the people
of God, regardless of our present understanding of Truth, and of the mysteries
of God. All we need to maintain the “unity of the Spirit” is a people who,
regardless of their present understanding of truth, are committed, yielded, sold
out to God, and are seeking Him with all their hearts. Their hearts are united
unto Him, and therefore unto one another. And we are exhorted to maintain this
kind of unity as God would lead us further and further... even unto “the unity
of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God.”
But away with the notion
that we can keep the unity of the Spirit just because we have His gifts and
blessings... if the hearts of God’s people are set in their own ways, with
hearts divided between God and themselves... a little area here for God, and the
rest I will take care of myself. A heart for religion, and a heart for the
world. A heart for the worship of God in Spirit and in Truth, and a heart for
the idols of the heart.., those things that I just must have whether God is for
it or against it. A heart for the beautiful songs of Zion, and a heart for the
jazz and clanging cymbals of Rock-and-Roll... or perhaps a mixture of the two,
using the words of Zion and the lyrics of Satan.
A divided heart means a
divided life. And many divided hearts gathering together under one roof to
worship God... means a divided fellowship. It may not appear that way right now.
You can sing all the choruses about the Body of Christ and the happy Family of
God. But sooner or later it will be manifest for what it is: a group of people
with divided hearts, divided interests, divided hopes, divided desires... And
then one day when something drastic happens and the flock is scattered we look
about and blame this elder, or that deacon, or that pastor, and go about looking
for a new board, and a new pastor... and start the same proceedings all over
In actual fact the
“division” was there right from the start, but well glossed over, well covered
up... until He with eyes as a flame of fire gazed upon them, and everything went
up in smoke because of His searching, penetrating, consuming fire.
But God has a wonderful
and a glorious solution to the whole problem; and we see it beautifully
portrayed in the Family of Jacob.
The Unveiling Of The
Jacob and his family
were living together in Canaan, as one big happy family. But like the pile of
stones upon which Jacob had laid his head many years before, they were not yet
“living stones,” shaped and fitted together, as the House of God. But this is
what God had in mind, and God would yet bring it to pass.
If this is the day of
the unveiling of Christ, and the joining together of the Body of Christ, it is
also the day of the UNVEILING OF THE HUMAN HEART, and the manifestation of the
hidden things of darkness that lie concealed in the hearts of God’s people.
What is it that begins
to unfold the inherent hatred and dissension that lie concealed in the hearts of
Jacob’s sons? Nothing less than Jacob’s special love for Joseph. Of course it
does not seem fair that Jacob should prefer one son above another. But we want
to emphasize in and throughout this whole episode God’s dealings with His own
Jesus said, “If any man
love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come
unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:23). Does God not love
everybody? Yes, but there is a special love that flows out to the one who loves
Him.., for the simple reason that “deep calleth unto deep.” His love for us
would draw forth from our hearts our love for Him. And if we respond to His
love, and allow ourselves to LOVE Him... then there is a further response from
His heart. Our love for Him releases the flow, And the mutual love between the
Father and His sons will grow and grow and grow... until they LOVE, even as He
But rest assured, when
this kind of love relationship develops between you and your Lord, there is
going to arise great opposition to it from those who love Him not. The reason is
because Love and light are inseparable, and light cannot co-exist with Darkness.
Therefore “men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil.”
Love brings to the light; and light exposes the evil that is there. Repentance
washes away the evil; but if there is no repentance there is great opposition.
Why was Madame Guyon
whom we read about persecuted so much? We can discover no other reason than the
fact she loved God with an intense love...--so intense that it exposed the
darkness and the evil of men’s hearts. Why were Luther and the reformers
persecuted and hunted and hounded, and many of their people tortured and burnt
at the stake? Really, for no other reason than the fact that they loved God with
all their hearts... loved Him more than the establishment... more than their
Bethel, the House of God, that had become apostate and corrupt. Why did Cain
slay Abel? Because “his own works were evil, and his brother’s were righteous.”
And why did the religious leaders of the day slay Jesus, who was the full
expression of God in the earth, and manifested the fullness of love and mercy
and truth? Simply because the hearts of men were filled with hatred and
iniquity, and the love of God that was revealed in Jesus exposed them.., and in
pride of heart they refused to come to the Light for healing and cleansing.
Joseph, very innocently,
but as a lover of the truth, would tell his father of the evil deeds of his
brothers. This angered them. But more than this we are told that Jacob showed
special love to Joseph, and this caused them to hate him more.
But not only had Jacob
favored Joseph. God did too. God would give him dreams, dreams that had great
spiritual meaning; and these served to aggravate the problem still further.
Joseph had dreams of preeminence and of lordship. God gave them, so we cannot
accuse Joseph of pride or bigotry. In child-like simplicity he told his dreams.
But this would bring Joseph into still further trouble. God knew it would. But
God had ordained a furnace of affliction for Joseph, and God knew how to take
care of the situation.
“And they hated him yet
the more for his dreams, and for his words” (Gen. 37:8).
You who have known God’s
special favor and grace upon your life, learn to temper this with the
realization that the grace and the favor He is showing now, is ordained of God
to be a cushion to lessen the blow, and to make the devastation to be endurable,
in the furnace of affliction that lies before you. As you become aware of this,
it may be that God will provide the grace now to humble yourself before Him, and
to seek Him more earnestly for grace in this hour, when you feel you need it
less. For you need His grace exceedingly, if you find your heart and mind
dwelling upon thoughts of Kingdom power and authority and rulership in the
Kingdom of God that is about to be revealed!
Now what was God doing
in Jacob’s family? He was beginning to expose the evil of their hearts; and in
bestowing love and favor towards Joseph He was simply manifesting the evil that
was already there in the other brethren. All the while they were the happy
family of Jacob, living in the beautiful land of Canaan. But they had divided
hearts. Sooner or later there would be a confrontation. And it would come
through Joseph the beloved one, and who was on a mission of kindness to his
brethren, to see how they were getting along.
“Here comes this
dreamer,” they said, “Come let us slay him, and we’ll see what will become of
But God was working in
their lives, and sovereignly exercising control in the whole matter... and they
could not slay Joseph.
We have to know in all
our dealings with men of this world, and in all our experiences in life, that
God is behind the scenes working all things together for good “to them that love
God”- and all for His glory. But perish the thought that God causes the evil...
that God put that hate and rebellion in the hearts of Jacob’s sons, in order to
banish Joseph into Egypt. God has put a hedge about His people, and thwarts the
devices of the evil one on our behalf; and if He sees fit to lower the hedge
here and there, as in the case of Job... it is because in His great love and
wisdom He is going to frustrate the devices of the evil one, and bring great
glory out of it all.
All the brothers were
involved in the plot, but some of them had a greater degree of guilt than the
others. To Reuben’s credit we have to say that he had planned to rescue Joseph
from the pit, and send him back to his father. But when the other boys saw a
caravan of merchantmen on their way to Egypt, they realized that perhaps they
could derive a little gain in the matter, and they drew him out of the pit, and
sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver.
When iniquity abounds,
there is no end to the expression of evil that lies inherent in the human heart.
First, evil conversation... Then jealousy... Then hatred... Then conspiracy to
kill... Then covetousness... Then lying and deception... All this was there in
their heart, yet they seemed to be living in harmony, in communal blessing, as
one big happy family, in the beautiful land of Canaan!
This was the experience
of Jacob’s sons. And when their father examines Joseph’s coat which the boys had
taken from him, and dipped in the blood of a goat... Jacob is completely
devastated. “It is my son’s coat; an evil beast hath devoured him... I will go
down into the grave unto my son mourning...” (Gen. 37:33,35).
But what was God doing
at this time? God was preparing a man for the day and hour when He would
RECONCILE THE FAMILY OF GOD, to one another, to Jacob, to Joseph, to God
If God’s people could
only know this and understand... that the evil that is purposed against us can
do us no harm whatsoever if we are walking in God’s way and doing His will! What
a difference it would make in our relationship with God in that hour! If and
when this happens, God help us to know that He is preparing us for the day and
hour when we can come back to our brethren, and bring them into deliverance, For
if we receive all this as from God, then we who are rejected are but released
into the oceans of liberty and freedom; while those who are free to go their own
willful way are actually weaving for themselves a net of great bondage.
Of course when things
like this happen there may not be very much desire in our hearts to help our
persecutors. There may even be thoughts of vengeance and retaliation. But let us
be quick to discern the evil of our hearts in that day, lest the enemy succeeds
in frustrating the good that God has designed in our lives because of the
furnace of affliction. It may be hard to discern this, if you see Satan stoking
the fires. But let us learn that Satan doesn’t know everything... and it is
quite apparent as we read the Scriptures that Satan rarely seems to know what he
is doing when he afflicts the child of God.., he just does not understand the
mystery of the Cross!
Joseph may have had very
little love for his brethren as he cried and besought them earnestly for mercy.
Anticipating the day and hour when he would be able to return to them and show
them mercy and forgiveness... this was probably farthest from his thoughts. But
it was in God’s thoughts. And when God was through with Joseph he would be able
to love and forgive and show mercy and deliver the whole Family of God. But to
fill this role, he must be prepared through hardship, and bitterness, and
misunderstanding, and cruel bondage.
I know that there is the
outpouring of God’s love in our hearts by the Holy Spirit within us; and we can
experience this intermittently, as we know special seasons of God’s blessing in
our lives. But God’s plan goes much deeper than this, and involves the very
changing of our nature and character within, till LOVE is an inherent part of
our being... and we “LOVE... even as He loved,” and “show mercy” even as He
The Vision Tarries
What is our
responsibility when the Vision tarries? Blame the Devil for his opposition to
us? Or blame ourselves for our lack of initiative and aggressiveness? The
prophet Habakkuk gives us the answer, the answer that God gave him in the hour
of his own affliction:
“THOUGH IT TARRY, WAIT
FOR IT...” (Hab. 2:3).
It seems like vain
comfort in the hour of affliction, but this is God’s answer. The delay of the
Vision only adds to the severity of the affliction. God knows this; but He also
knows that the delay of the Vision will add to the character-building of the man
who has the Vision.., if he will but WAIT FOR THE VISION TO BE FULFILLED.
To take the Vision in
our own hands, and try to make it work, will only add to our problems. And so
God’s chosen ones, God’s Josephs, are handicapped in the matter. So handicapped
are they that they couldn’t take things in their own hands even if they tried.
It is a sort of a handicap-situation in which they themselves very innocently
co-operated, so they cannot “blame” anyone but themselves. For as they earnestly
sought the Lord in earlier days they always said, “Lord I want to go your way...
all the way. Hinder any plan or device of my own that would hinder the full
outworking of your purpose in my life. Don’t let me find true fulfillment...
don’t let my ministry know any enlargement, except Lord, as you know that I am
able to abide faithful in it, and have the power to overcome the temptations
that invariably come to that one who is used of God. Release me to accomplish
your works in the earth, but do not release me till you have accomplished that
needful work in my own life...”
And because we prayed
this way in the time of peace and safety, and without any pressure of
circumstances... God is faithful in the hour when the pressure is released upon
His people to close His ear, and refuse to hear their pleadings when they cry
unto Him, “Lord, take me out of this ... I know I prayed that you would have
control in all things, and I covenanted to go your way all the way.. .and I
meant it... but Lord, I didn’t think it would come to THIS... take me out of
it...” But God does not hear. He did hear that other prayer of true dedication
and commitment that you made in the time of peace and safety; and now that His
hand of trial and testing is heavy upon you, He closes His ear so He will not
hear the cry for release from your commitment.
O yes! He knows what you
are saying. But if you really meant what you said back in those days when you
gave Him your all--He will not let the extreme pressures of the moment change
His mind concerning you. He loves you too much for that.
And so Joseph is in
prison. He cannot go home, even if he wanted to, and repent of his dreams.
God help us to know that
the prison-houses which He ordains for our discipline are ordained of Him, that
we might bring deliverance to others who are in prison because of their sin and
iniquity. God help us to know that the hatred that is hurled against us, is
intended of the Lord to bring forth love and mercy toward them. God help us to
know that the misunderstandings to which we are subjected are ordained of the
Lord that in the day of our release we might understand and show mercy to those
who knew us not, and who in that day will be subjected to misunderstandings and
torments and afflictions too grievous for them to bear.
Joseph’s feet were
placed in fetters. But worse than that, his soul was laid in iron.
“Whose feet they hurt
with fetters; His soul came into irons” (Ps. 105:18).
This is a more literal
translation. Bodily affliction is one thing, and it can he very severe, But the
bondage of the soul can oftentimes be even more severe.
And still the vision
tarries. A year goes by... two years... five years... ten years...
But God was with Joseph
and caused him to prosper. There is a scripture that says, “I would above all
things that you should prosper, and be in health, even as your soul prospers.”
And what perversion men have made of it! Now don’t look up Webster’s dictionary
to get the meaning of the word “prosper”--you had better go to the Bible for
that, or you will find yourself in a lot of trouble.
Joseph prospered in a
prison-house... because he was there in God’s will, was being disciplined of the
Lord, and God gave him favor with the captain of the guard. He found Joseph to
be a trustworthy and obedient SLAVE, and God honored Joseph for his obedience to
his master. Paul had a “prosperous” journey to Rome. I believe he did. He had
prayed for one, and I believe God granted it. He went there in the will of God.
Shipwrecked, of course, and he may have had to float to an island on a plank
from the broken ship. Yet in and through it all it was a prosperous journey,
because God was with him, as God confirmed the Word to the prisoners on the
ship, to the sailors, to the captain of the soldiers. And when they landed on
the island Paul saw the hand of God at work in healing the sick, and confirming
the Word with signs following.
Prisoners Of The Lord
What do we mean,
“prisoners,” in this day and hour, and in this fair land of ours where we can do
as we please, and live as we wish, and enjoy the fat of the land?
We are not really
talking so much about the first degree of Joseph’s imprisonment... his natural
prison.., but the second degree, “His soul was laid in irons...”
We mean that when we
take His Name upon us, and dedicate ourselves to do His will... that freedom to
do as we wish, to work where we will, to live as we please, to go into ministry
for the Lord or work at our jobs, to travel as we will, or to stay home as we
will... these are no longer options that are open to us. For God’s chosen ones
the constraint is at first very grievous. Because serving the Lord” has taken on
a “ministerial” connotation, and you are not really “serving the Lord” in the
concept of many unless you are literally wearing yourself out for God. The world
is your parish. The air-waves are the media by which you must send the Gospel to
the four corners of the earth. The fields are white unto harvest, and you
consider yourself to be lord of the harvest.
We know that God does
use many, many methods to send forth the Truth, and we are not criticizing any
of these methods if God has ordained them. But before we can be the kind of
“servants” that God wants us to be He wants us to know that first of all we are
“sons” in Father’s family; and as such we are not FREE to do as we see fit, just
because we are “sons of the King.” This seems to he the general concept. Rather,
“sons of the King” must be subjected to a far greater measure and kind of
discipline than ordinary citizens of the land. Their training is much more
specialized, and the discipline that they must come under is much more stringent
than what is involved in the upbringing of ordinary children. They are destined
to rule and reign... and if they do not learn special discipline, hardship,
patience, obedience, God knows they will never be able to hold the reins of
government in His Kingdom.
Of course in the natural
order the parents of royalty have revealed to their children what our Father
often hides from us. They know what they are being subjected to, and why. And
they get regular leave of absence to come home and enjoy the benefits of
royalty. With you and me it may be quite different. We find ourselves like
Joseph, and as we shall see later, like Simeon, like Benjamin, like Job... in
prison-houses, or suddenly becoming a bondslave... and we do not know who is
doing it, or why. Where did I sin? Why me? I am a seer, I am a prophet, I get
dreams and interpretations.., why am I suddenly in a prison-house in Egypt, for
no fault of my own? Or like Simeon later... Why should I have to spend months
(or years, for all he knew) here in Egypt, a prisoner of Pharaoh, and my
brothers can go merrily on their way home to their father in Canaan. Why me? Or
like Benjamin... I just came down here because the lord of the land requested
it, and now he frames me, and accuses me of theft, and I am to be his
bond-slave. Or like Jacob back in Canaan, who was also in captivity, a slave to
his own ideas, his own concepts, his own understanding... and yet all the while
he was totally wrong: “Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and now you will take
Benjamin away. All these things are against me!” Or like Job, in desolation and
captivity, not only to his bodily affliction, but to his reasonings, his
concepts, his misunderstanding of God’s ways.
His soul has been laid
in iron. “God,” he says, “has set me up as His target, and He’s shooting His
arrows at me... God is out to get me... and I don’t know why, because I love Him
with all my heart...”
The King’s Prisoners
The time came when
Joseph found himself transferred to the place “where the king’s prisoners were
bound.” Joseph knew that he was the prisoner of the king of Egypt... but did he
know that he was the prisoner of the King of kings? He really did not know the
implications of his transfer to the king’s ward at the time; but he would
understand later. He was really being favored of the Lord. Unknown to him, his
contact with his fellow-prisoners would one day be known at the throne, and
would be the key to his deliverance.
You and I might know
that we are in the ward of the king, as Joseph did. But like Joseph we do not
always know that we are in the ward of the King of kings. But we must come to
this realization, if we are going to find release for our soul from the irons of
Paul writes to the
Ephesians, “I therefore the prisoner of the Lord...” This is what released him
from his captivity. Still a prisoner, yes, still in a prison cell in Rome; but
now he is a free man, because he knows he is a prisoner of the Lord. For who is
free, but the man who recognizes that his situation, his present circumstance,
grievous and evil as it may be in the natural, is really one that has been
ordained of God for the release of his soul? Who is free, but that man who knows
he is really a prisoner, in captivity to his Lord?
Paul may never have
discovered the real purpose of his imprisonment; but by faith he knew that God
put him there. Little did he realize, as he satin his prison cell and wrote to
the different churches, that he was really writing to the Church of every
generation that would live from that day to the end of time.
He did know that the
word of God was not bound, as he knew he was. But he did not know that the Word
that he sent forth to a few hundred people here and there throughout Asia...
would later become a part of the Holy Scriptures, and go forth to multiplied
millions, scattered throughout the whole world to the end of time.
Two of Pharaoh’s
officers are suddenly thrust into the prison cell with Joseph; and one night
each of them dreamed a strange dream. They recognized the dreams to be
supernatural, and therefore it left them troubled, because they had no idea what
they meant. Joseph noticed their distress, and asked them about it. Then they
confessed-they were bothered about their dreams. At Joseph’s request they bared
their hearts, and told him what they had dreamed.
Immediately Joseph had
the interpretation, For the one it meant restoration to his office as the king’s
butler, but for the other it meant execution. And both these things were to
happen after three days.
“Remember me,” Joseph
said to the butler, “You will be back in the good graces of the king... Put in a
good word for me, and get me out of here.”
At last, he was
beginning to make some kind of contact with the authorities. I have contacts
now! Perhaps I will be out of here soon! But time rolls by... a week... two
weeks... two months... a year... two years.., But the butler had completely
If we are in the place
“where the King’s prisoners are bound,” let us be thankful for that. But let us
never put our confidence or our trust in our fellow-prisoners. Minister to them,
or be ministered to by them.., yes. Love them, care for their needs as Joseph
did, as a faithful prisoner-steward. But our trust and confidence must be in the
Lord alone. The butler completely forgot about Joseph, which seems strange to us
as we consider it. God must have caused him to forget so notable an event.
God certainly uses the
various contacts we make in every day life, for some purpose known only to Him;
and He was going to use this contact that Joseph had made with the butler, But
He does not want us to put our confidence in anything, or anyone but Himself. We
must look to Him for every benefit we receive, or ever hope to receive. We must
never transfer our hopes from the Source of every good and perfect gift... to
the channel. We thank the Lord for every channel of His provision; but our
confidence cannot be placed in the CHANNEL, but in the FOUNTAIN.
If the spring that
quenches the thirst of the prophet dries up, it is only that he might look to
God for his next supply. It was God that opened the spring, and it was God who
shut it off. And the God who provided the spring is still alive. Don’t put your
trust in riches, or in rich men.., either in church life, or in your personal
dealings in the world. God does have stewards in His House, who recognize that
all they have is the Lord’s. But our confidence must be in God alone, and not in
some affluent steward. God often has to send the man of God to the house of a
widow woman for bread and water. We thank the Lord for the ravens He once used;
but we must not lament when they stop flying over our head and dropping our
daily bread. They must not become objects of esteem or veneration. God put it
into their heads to feed the prophet for a season. But if they cut off the flow
of provision, they are not able to sever our contact with El Shaddai, the God of
provision and supply. The God who provided the spring, and who sent the ravens,
is still alive, and watching over His chosen ones.
Two full years have gone
by. Enough time for Joseph to lose all confidence in the butler, and to renew
his confidence in God alone.
Then one day it
happened. He had been in prison (or at least in captivity) for thirteen years.
His day had arrived.
It was a day like any
other day. No premonition that his days of imprisonment were just about over. No
sign that things were really getting better and better. It was a day like any
other prison-day; the monotonous and routine duties of the prison-life lay
before him as he awakened in the morning...
But suddenly the prison
doors swing open, and one of Pharaoh’s servants stands before him and orders him
to shave, clean-up, and put on some clean clothes. He has an appointment with
Pharaoh, the lord of the land of Egypt.
Joseph stands before
Pharaoh and hears the king of Egypt with troubled heart relating to him his
strange dreams, about thin cows and fat cows.., thin ears of corn, and fat ears
of corn. The same enablement that he knew in years past was there in his heart
and mind. The prophetic mantle which he had known as a young lad at home with
his father, was still upon him... scarcely used in those thirteen years of
prison-life, but nonetheless vital and genuine; and no doubt much more pure than
it would have been if he had gone about the land those thirteen years giving
revelations and prophecies and interpreting dreams and visions.
God’s prisoners are not
“out of the ministry.” Rather, they are in extra-curricular training for a more
pure and more vital form of ministry.
Do not fret about
“fulfilling” your ministry. But do be very concerned lest you go forth in
ministry unprepared, and without thorough immunization to the tests and
temptations that come to one who has found popularity with people, and praise
from the lips of men. It is more important that you be dedicated to the will of
God, than that you be dedicated to the fulfillment of a ministry, For if you are
dedicated to do the will of God... and if this should lead you to a
prison-house... then the ministry that comes forth from the prison-house will be
pure, vital, timely, powerful, and profitable to the Kingdom of God.
The dreams were about
fat cows, and skinny cows.., fat ears of corn, and skinny, blasted ears of corn.
The skinny cows ate up the fat cows but remained as skinny as ever, and the
skinny ears of corn devoured the fat ones, and remained as skinny as ever.
Pharaoh knew that only God could give dreams like that.
A Pure Ministry Is To
One thing that stands
out in importance in the lives of God’s chosen ones in their pursuit of the will
of God, is the TIMING. Jesus would say, “My time is not yet come...” With the
general run of ministry in the church it could be said, “Their time is always
ready...” In fact that is considered to be a sign of their spirituality-always
ready, always anxious to be out there doing something for God. I am a teacher, I
want to keep busy teaching. I am a prophet, I want to be out there prophesying.
I am an evangelist, I must not have any idle moments... there are open doors
everywhere... I must get going...
But how wonderful it is
when we begin to learn a little of God’s ways, and we discover that God’s WAYS
and God’s TIMING are as vital to the WILL OF GOD, as the performance of the
thing that God has in mind. So few there are who recognize this. Perhaps there
is much good ministry in the land. It is genuine enough. But a lot of it is not
related to the moving of God’s Spirit. There are specific needs amongst God’s
people. And God has specific ministry to meet those needs. And how we need to
learn to move in coordination and conformity to the sovereign moving of the Holy
Spirit in the midst of the Church, in order to meet those needs.
We are coming into a new
phase of life and ministry in the Church of Jesus Christ, wherein the Holy
Spirit will be recognized by the people of God and by the ministry as the Lord
of the Church in the midst of His people. Christ at God’s right hand is the Lord
of the Church; and the Holy Spirit living and abiding in His Church, is the LORD
IN THE MIDST OF HIS PEOPLE. And He will yet exercise that Lordship in our midst.
Of course, this is the
Holy of Holies realm, and we know that all of God’s people will not walk in this
realm. But some will--some must enter in. The Holy Place is the realm of gift
and ministry, and is essential for the nourishing of the Body of Christ. And we
certainly must go THROUGH this realm to enter into the HOLIEST of all. There is
no back door to the HOLIEST OF ALL!
People say to us, “We
need these gifts... we need these ministries...” Of course we need His gifts!
But usually what they mean is, “We only need His gifts of power,” and they fail
to realize that the greater gifts are those which ARE STANDING BEFORE THE VEIL
AND SHOWING GOD’S PEOPLE THE ENTRANCE TO THE BETTER WAY, THE MORE EXCELLENT WAY!
They stand at the Golden Altar... the place of intercession and prayer on behalf
of God’s people; or they seek to trim the lamps of the Candlestick, and furnish
them with oil, that God’s people might know how to ENTER BEYOND THE VEIL! Not
the Veil that was rent on the Cross many years ago, but in reality that same
Veil, though it is now on the hearts of God’s people. And God’s precious gifts
are being ministered by His chosen ones... words of wisdom, words of knowledge,
words of faith, words of prophecy: words of revelation by the Spirit to
encourage His people to enter THE HOLIEST OF ALL! These gifts are the CHANNELS
of Truth; but now we must move forward to the SOURCE. They are but the MEANS to
the END. They are intended to lead us into abiding, fruitful UNION WITH HIM WHO
IS THE SOURCE of every spiritual gift and grace. We are talking about giving up
the PART FOR THE WHOLE, of GOING FORTH FROM THE LESSER REALM TO THE GREATER, and
into union with HIM WHO IS THE SOURCE!
A pure ministry unto the
Lord is going to come forth. Many who are chosen of the Lord for this hour are
not particularly attempting to fulfil their ministry. They have chosen rather to
be obedient to God, and this has served to purify their ministry unto the Lord.
And therefore they are precious and peculiar in His sight. As it was in Israel
of old, the true priests of the Lord have no inheritance of their own. They seek
only to bring others into their particular inheritance in God. They themselves
can have no inheritance.., no kingdom that they might build.., no congregations
or groups of people that they can call “theirs”... nothing that they can call by
their name, and leave as an inheritance to others. And why did God deny them all
this? Because God desired that He alone would be their inheritance!
‘Therefore shall they
have no inheritance among their brethren: THE LORD IS THEIR INHERITANCE” (Deut.
The Purpose of God...
the Will of God... the Servant of God... the Timing of God. Today was that day
when all these aspects of the workings of God would meet together! And by the
Spirit of revelation Joseph not only clearly interpreted the dreams, but with
discretion and spiritual understanding gave counsel and guidance to the king of
Egypt, as to what he must do to save the land from starvation. There would be
seven years of great plenty, followed by seven years of great dearth. The dearth
would be so intense that the seven bountiful years that they were about to
experience would not even be known or recognized when the days of famine were
over.., and the land would be poor and devastated. But there would be provision
for the people in that day, because of the provision that they were to make.
Therefore Joseph advised, “Choose out a man, a man of wisdom and discretion, and
have him lay up in store the bounty of the land for the grievous days of famine
that lie before us.”
Pharaoh and his servants
knew immediately it was the voice of God. There was no doubt in their minds as
to what they must do. “JOSEPH, YOU ARE THE MAN!”
“Moreover He called for
a famine upon the land; He brake the whole staff of bread. HE SENT A MAN before
them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant, whose feet they hurt with
fetters: he was laid in iron; until the time that His word came: the word of the
LORD tried him. The king sent and loosed him; even the ruler of the people and
let him go free. He made him lord of his house, and ruler of all his substance:
to bind his princes at his pleasure; and teach his senators wisdom” (Ps.
If we could only see
things from God’s standpoint, what a difference it would make in our own
perspective! But God does not allow this to happen until the prison-days are
over. Were He to do so, perhaps we would very likely frustrate in our own lives
the beautiful work that God had in mind. If I knew that thirteen years down the
road there would be a great deliverance, a great visitation... how would I
react? Make myself as comfortable as I can for the next thirteen years, and then
look to God for the help He promised? Or would I really live in hope and
“How long, O Lord,
before you come forth and manifest your salvation?”
“Why do you tarry so
long? What are you waiting for? I am ready to go forth in your Name. Why don’t
you equip me for the task?”
And these questions, if
truly born of the Spirit, will continue to work in our lives that needful
preparation for the day of His visitation. It was so with Joseph. It was so with
David. It has been so with God’s chosen ones through the ages. They must live by
faith. To live by sight will not bring them to a place of preparedness. Do not
get fascinated by dates and figures that men have discovered... that seem to fit
in with God’s time-table. It may be right. But this will not prepare you for
that hour. We must live in faith, in hope, in expectation. For “tribulation
worketh patience, and patience, experience (or, a sense of God’s approval), and
experience HOPE...” This is the process. “What a man seeth, why doth he yet hope
for?” If you see it, then hope cannot germinate and mature, and prepare the
heart. It is in “not seeing it,” and yet believing, that you will discover the
unspeakable joy of HOPE.
But now Joseph can see
the picture in proper perspective, from God’s standpoint. It was not Joseph’s
brothers that were to blame for his troubles. It was not Potiphar’s wife, who
lied about him and hated him because of the integrity of his heart, that landed
him in prison. All this was part of the scaffolding... the props. All this was
simply the outworking of evil that exists in the hearts of men... and which God
turns to His glory in your life and mine as we recognize that the kingdom of
Satan is very actively seeking to undermine and frustrate the purposes of God.
But for His beloved ones God takes every evil device, every evil scheme, turns
it about for His own glory, and causes it to work along with His own beautiful
It was God who sent the
man of God into Egypt...
And it was the Word of
the LORD that tried him so severely.
Your Vision becomes your
trial. Your Vision becomes your Cross. And perhaps we can say, the higher and
the more pure your Vision, so the greater will be your Cross. And so will that
vessel come forth from the furnace of affliction.., more pure, more vital, more
important to the Kingdom of God... a “vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet
for the Master’s use, and prepared unto every good work” (2 Tim. 2:21). It is
more important to be “useable” for the Master, than to attempt to be “used.” It
is more important to be “prepared” unto every good work, than to attempt to get
involved in every good work.
The Stage Is Set
The stage is now set for
the great drama that is about to unfold in the reconciliation of the Family of
God; and Joseph is the key to the whole situation.
Joseph knows that the
real purpose of his lordship over the land of Egypt is to bring deliverance to
his own brothers, and to bring about a reconciliation in the whole family. But
he does not seek them out, though he might have done so with the authority and
privileges he now enjoyed. Seven years of plenty go by, and two years of
famine... but Joseph does not go searching for his family in the nine years he
has been in office. We may wonder why.
As we begin to move in
the realm of the Spirit we become more and more aware of the fact that the
pressing needs, the open doors, the evil circumstances that exist... all these
are first and foremost God’s concern; and we can only truly bear the “burden of
the Lord” as He lays it upon us. Of course, we must first of all take His yoke
upon us, if we are going to share His burden; for God has given every man a
“burden” to bear in the Body of Christ. But we must know it is really our “light
affliction” that we bear, as we share His yoke; for Jesus said, “My yoke is
easy, and my burden is light.” True, the burden may be very “heavy”... but we
have to know it is Christ’s burden, before it becomes ours, and after it becomes
ours; and this is what makes it “easy.” We just know that the Spirit of God is
in charge. We just know that only as we walk in the Spirit and do His will and
take His yoke, will we be enabled to perform the desires of His heart.
I am persuaded that we
can accomplish far more in ONE DAY in the yoke of Christ, than we could
accomplish in a whole lifetime bearing a yoke of our own making.
Now what about the
“burden” of the Body of Christ, and of bringing the Family of God into UNITY? It
must be our “burden” because we know it is His. And the Spirit of God is here in
His Church in Christ’s stead.., to accomplish and bring into being that which is
the burden of Christ. I can safely leave the Family of God to Him, and by His
grace be READY and PREPARED for the day and the hour that God has chosen for the
reconciliation of the Family of God. And I know...
This Is Going To Take A
It is going to take a
FAMINE to reconcile the Family of God. I am sure of that. Tapes, tapes, and more
tapes... Books, books, and more books. And now videos, and more videos. Never
has there been such a supply of the Word, as we find in the earth today. A lot
of mixture, I know... but a lot of provision too. And there is a Joseph people
who are laying it up in store. And of course I don’t mean cataloguing the books
and the tapes so they can refer to them in the day of famine. I mean, in
themselves, there is a Joseph people who are submitting to the furnace of
affliction, and are thereby becoming a storehouse of plenty, for the day of
famine.., locked up and sealed that they might open up and bring forth bread for
the hungry in the day of famine.
Right now the Family of
Jacob is pretty self-confident. They are in Canaan, feasting upon the good
things of the land, and very confident. But there is a famine at the door...
“Not a famine for bread,
Nor a thirst for water...
But of HEARING the words
of the LORD” (Amos 8:11).
Not a famine of the
words of the LORD; but a famine of HEARING those words. Jesus said, “Take heed
how ye hear.” There is an abundance of the Word, and it increases day by day,
but it is getting more and more difficult for people to really HEAR what God is
saying in this hour.
continues to prevail. “We are the Family of God, and God loves us, and we are
getting along pretty good
That Christ has been
betrayed and sold, few seem to recognize. It doesn’t seem to bother them in the
That Christ has been
sold for church temples, entertainment, gimmicks, and all manner of religious
That the Song of the
Lord, which proceeds from hearts that have been offered unto the Lord as a burnt
offering, has been sold for jazz, rock music, polished musical talent...
That the Lordship of His
Spirit has (in many, many cases) been sold for the lordship of some strong
church leader, perhaps even for an apostle or prophet who exercises
authoritarian control over the people...
That the Worship of God
in Spirit and in Truth has been sold for a form of programmed worship, for drama
and make-believe, for musical entertainment... and we could go on and on as we
behold the many fleshly and carnal and sometimes devilish things that have
driven Christ out of the Church!
That ministry is
available for hire, and ministries are brought in that require large financing
in order to stay in business...
That the House of God
has become a den of thieves, as gifts and ministries of God are sold and
bartered to the people for money, or for the applause of men.
No, Christ is not being
sold for thirty pieces of silver these days. The Devil is bidding much higher
today, and Christ is being sold for thousands, even millions of dollars... as
men and women sell their gifts, or their ministries, or their Rock or their
Jazz, for large sums of money to gullible Christians.
The Day of Famine is
going to change all that. And I think we are fast approaching that Day... when
the people of God are going to go searching for bread. And they are going to
find it nowhere, but in the storehouses of Joseph in Egypt.
Joseph The Stranger
Finally the famine
caught up with the Family of Jacob living in Canaan; and Jacob sent his sons
down into Egypt to buy bread. Jacob would not let Benjamin go with them, because
he was special to Jacob (being the full brother of Joseph, and the only son of
Rachel his beloved, that was yet alive).
Joseph recognized his
brethren as they stood before him; for they were much older than him, and he was
but a young lad when he was sold into Egypt and had changed a lot. Besides, he
was dressed in royal garb, and spoke the language of Egypt, and had a strange
Egyptian name, Zaph-nath-paaneah.
What did this strange
man do? Run to them and say, “Glad to see you my brothers! Remember me? I am
Joseph your brother whom you sold into Egypt... but it’s all right now... let
bygones be bygones...”
We have this foolish
ecumenicism idea creeping in, even among the real people of God. “Look for every
opportunity you can find for fellowship. Don’t be so exclusive. Don’t let
differences Interfere, or what you believe... just try and get along with the
rest of the Family of God...”
We love God’s people,
and we have no problem getting along with God’s people, or with business people
in the world as far as that goes. But where is the fellowship? John said...
“But if we walk in the
light, as He is in the light, WE HAVE FELLOWSHIP ONE WITH ANOTHER” (John 1:7).
There is not necessarily
any fellowship sitting side-by-side with two thousand people in a church
building. Fellowship means a sharing, a communication in spiritual things, a
receiving and a giving.., back and forth in the Spirit. Not necessarily everyone
with a little sermon. Not necessarily everyone doing something every time you
come together. But there is a mutual concern one for the other, a seeking after
God for His way, a pursuing of the Vision of God, a hope, an expectation of the
lordship of Christ becoming preeminent in our midst.., a desire to walk in the
Light. If these elements are not there, there is no FELLOWSHIP. We desire it...
we want it... we anticipate it.., and in a small measure we have it. But there
will be no true fellowship in the midst of God’s people until the Spirit of the
Lord is given His lordship as we gather together... to cleanse, to purge, to
pull down, to overthrow, and to destroy all the idols that have been erected in
the house of God.
And I believe it is
going to take the Famine to do it. And therefore we anticipate the Famine,
because we know it is the only way that the Family of God will be reconciled and
purged and cleansed.
The First Confrontation
“And Joseph saw his
brethren, and he knew them, but made himself strange unto them, and spake
roughly unto them; and he said unto them, Whence come ye? And they said, From
the land of Canaan to buy food” (Gen. 42:7).
I have to admit that in
years past I felt a little disappointed in Joseph... that instead of throwing
his arms around them and blessing them he should act so conceited. “Where are
you from?”... and “What do you want?”... and “No! But you are spies, you have
just come here to spy out the land and observe all the desolation that we have
here.” But now I understand that Joseph, in the Spirit of prophecy, was
following the leading of the Lord, as this great drama of reconciliation began
“O No!” they said, “We
are true men.” And I think they believed they were. Living together on the fat
of the land, in beautiful Canaan, had somehow caused them to forget their
hypocrisy, forget their jealousy, forget their treachery... and they were able
at this stage to take their place as “true men.” You know, the blessing of God
was intended to bring men to repentance; but almost invariably the sinful heart
of man will misconstrue the blessing of God for His approval of their sinful
ways. Paul said, “Do you not realize that the goodness of God was intended to
lead you to repentance?” (See Rom. 2:4.) Some people would object: “I don’t
think that is God’s way, to send famines to bring them to repentance... God is a
good God... He would not do that.” God does not want to do it, but if His
goodness will not do it, the famine is His only alternative.
We are near that day
when He with eyes “as a flame of fire” will rise up in the midst of His people,
to reveal and lay bare the secrets of the heart, and to cleanse and purge the
Family of God. He will search out the hidden recesses of the heart, and expose
the works of darkness that abound in the midst of God’s people. And we know
there are areas of darkness in all of us. But God is not in the least interested
or pleased in having a large congregation stand before Him with hands raised
high in praise and worship, while in and through it all the idols of this world
are portrayed upon the walls of their heart, and the Lordship of Christ is far
from their minds.
It was God who led
Joseph to use the “rough” language... to speak to them as a stranger through an
interpreter... and all the while he was doing it, his heart was breaking out of
love and compassion for them. God was simply leading him step by step in a
manner that would expose the iniquity that was in his brethren, and bring them
to genuine repentance. I know there is a cry in the land from some sources, and
it is good... “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” But until these
words come forth in the spirit of prophecy and anointed of the Lord, as they did
through John the Baptist, repentance will not be ministered to the people of
God. Only God can open the heart and grant the mercy and the grace of
repentance. And this is going to take a famine, and a prophetic anointing such
as Joseph had, such as John the Baptist had... before we are going to see it.
“You say you have a
younger brother,” said Zaph-nath-paaneah, “Then go home with food for your
families, and when you come again bring your younger brother with you as
positive proof. In the meantime I will keep one of you as a hostage.”
God was beginning to
draw in the net... and Joseph, a prophet of God, was moving in the Spirit, and
following the leading of the Lord.
Joseph took Simeon and
bound him before their eyes; and put him in ward as a hostage. And the other
boys went back home with grain for their families. Not only grain.., but the
money they had brought in the first place was replaced in their sacks much to
their surprise and to their bewilderment. (I know it takes time and money to do
anything these days for yourself or for the Lord. But the Joseph people will be
characterized by the fact that they will not make merchandise of the things of
Joseph knew the famine
would last another five years, but he was making sure that they would return to
Egypt soon; so he kept Simeon as a hostage.
Simeon, In Captivity
“Hearing.” God’s “Simeons” have the ability to “hear what the Spirit is saying
to the churches.” God has His Simeons out there who have that enablement; and
God will use them in the day of His new visitation. But they too will have to
repent for the selling of Christ in this day and hour of His betrayal. Right now
for some reason or another, perhaps for the sake of “unity,” they are not overly
concerned. O there are things that bother them... but what can they do about it?
There they are in Canaan, and that is their “home”... their brothers and sisters
are all there...
But God knows how to
snare His Simeons in the day of famine.
Joseph takes Simeon as a
hostage, and he too is cast into prison. Now he’s got time to sit and listen..,
no cows to look after... no barns to build... he can just sit there and look at
the floor and ceiling... and meditate. “What’s this all about? Why would God do
this to me? I don’t deserve this.” Simeon has left home, but not of his own
doing. He was taken captive, but not of his own will.
God was actually being
merciful to him, though he knew it not at the time. He missed his brothers. He
missed his children. He missed his father... But he had to admit... the food was
good. He was treated reasonably well, but he was a prisoner.
If you have a faculty
for hearing the Word of the Lord (and of course I don’t mean the ability to hear
good sermons and teachings and analyze them)... but if beyond the letter of the
Word you have the enablement to hear what God is really saying, rejoice in that.
For there are many who have ears to hear, and they hear not. Many that have eyes
to see, and they see not.
But even as you rejoice
in the good things you are hearing, be prepared for the day and hour when you,
too, will become a captive, And in that hour you must know that you are in
captivity to your Joseph... your Lord. It may not seem that way... for it will
truly be a prison-house, closed doors, iron bars... and you hear nothing from
without but strange words, foreign words. Your Joseph may visit you on
occasion... or He may not. I do not know. But even if He does He will not tell
you who He is, and you will think He is a cruel dictator.
God is in the process of
reconciling the Family of Jacob, and now you are part of that process. You
cannot run away from your prison if you tried. Besides you brought it upon
yourself. I mean, as you sought the Lord, and as you heard His voice, and
desired that all other voices would be shut out but His, that you might be
wholly shut in with Him alone.., so God heard and answered, and brought you into
captivity to Himself.
The Second Confrontation
This was all very bitter
for Jacob, when the boys returned home without Simeon. Not only that, but on
their return to Egypt for corn they were going to have to take Benjamin along.
“Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and now ye will take Benjamin away... all
these things are against me.” But there was no other way; they were at the point
of starvation. Jacob was forced to yield. “Take Benjamin and go, and God help
Now Benjamin was so
named of Jacob because at birth Jacob recognized that here was one who was
special to God, even as Joseph was special to God. Joseph means, “He will add”;
for when he was born Rachel said, “He will add,” and she called him Joseph. As a
minister friend once said, “Rachel loved Joseph so much... that even in her
sorrow she said, I must have another one”. Very unusual for a woman to make that
kind of a wish in the moment of travail and sorrow! But God is showing us that
in the hour of the travail of Christ that God saw such beauty in Christ, and
loved Him so much, that He said, “I must have a family like Him...”
Benjamin was Joseph’s
full brother. They were Rachel’s only children; and in bringing forth Benjamin,
Rachel died. This beautiful son was Rachel’s “Son of sorrow”... but Jacob
renamed him, “Son of my right hand.” Benjamin and many of his sons of later
generations, would be weak in themselves... but with their left hand in God’s
right hand, they were the SONS OF THE RIGHT HAND! Benjamin and Joseph are very
much identified... and we hear our Lord Jesus saying, “Behold I, and the
children Thou hast given Me.”
Rachel was barren for
many, many years. But God ordained it that way, that in her barrenness God might
be glorified. God’s special ones in Scripture were often born of “barren” women.
For God must have all the glory for that special thing that He would do in the
earth. Every true and genuine moving of God’s Spirit in the earth comes forth
from a barren people. They suffer reproach for their barrenness; and that causes
them to seek God more earnestly. And when He comes forth on their behalf God is
greatly glorified, and their soul rejoices in God their Saviour in praise and
worship such as Leah, and Hagar, and Peninnah, know nothing about.
And so once again the
sons of Jacob visit the harsh lord of the land of Egypt... this time with
Benjamin along. Joseph’s heart yearned over him... but he must move in the flow
of the Spirit
The Family Feasts
Joseph has the sons
brought to his own home, and a feast is prepared for them. Simeon is brought out
of prison, and they are all seated at the table, in the order of their birth.
All the sons wondered at the wisdom and knowledge of Zaph-nath-paaneah, who was
able to arrange the sitting at the table in the order of their birth. And they
feasted and rejoiced together. One family again.., all seated at the same
table.., eating and sharing together, and rejoicing in the renewed relationship
one with the other.
But not really ONE yet
Not really joined together. Still a wall between them: Joseph at his table, and
the sons at theirs. They are getting closer to the day of Joseph’s unveiling.
But still, they knew him not.
Another Test For The
Sons Of Jacob
Let us guard against
that jealous spirit that runs rampant in the midst of God’s people... not only
concerning natural things, but concerning spiritual things. God must root out of
our lives all that striving to succeed, and to become better than our neighbour.
When God bestows more abundant honor on “those parts which lack” (as He said He
would do), let us guard our spirits lest we be inclined to reject them, because
they appear to be climbing a little higher in God than we are, and we appear to
be falling short. Let not God’s goodness to them provoke a spirit of envy in us.
Pride is at the root of it all. We feel we are really better... so when others
receive more from God, some do not like it. Perhaps they excelled in the past
and got to the top... and now they want to stay in the top position.
God help us to know that
He never blessed anybody to make them higher, but that they might partake of
grace to be more humble. A ministry is a “service,” and that is what the word
means. The true minister is a servant of God; a servant to the people, and not
their master. Why then all this exaltation of clergy above laity? And who
started that grand distinction of “clergy” and “laity” anyway? How can one take
the name “reverend” ...a name that is applied to God alone? (“Holy and Reverend
is His Name” Ps. 111:9.) The word means “to be feared.” Rather God gave His
ministers a gift of service, and with that gift there is enabling power to
impart, and enhance, and promote the life of Christ in others. In God’s sight
there is no distinction, other than in the particular function of their calling.
They are all “brethren” in His sight. After God had honored David so highly by
giving him power over the Philistine giant, the women came out of the villages
“Saul hath slain his
And David his TEN
“So,” reasoned Saul,
“they are giving David more honor than they are giving me... next, he will want
the kingdom!” He was judging David’s heart according to the condition of his
own. David had no such aspirations... he knew what God had promised; and he
would continue to humble himself before God, and even before Saul. Almost from
Saul’s beginning as king, those seeds of self-will and rebellion, and envy, and
jealousy, had taken root in his heart. Pride will blind the eyes, so that you
cannot see it, or know it is there. Because Saul refused to deal with the
rebellion and self-will and envy of his heart, he allowed seeds of jealousy to
grow until he was harassed by an evil spirit.
As God begins to bestow
abundant honor on those who are “lacking” in the Family of God, as I know He is
going to do, we are going to see a lot of envy and jealousy asserting itself in
the hierarchy of the ministry. Nicolaitanism is not something that died out in
the early Church. (The word means “to conquer the people.”) There is a strong
Nicolaitan hierarchy in the Church today, that is determined to keep the people
subdued, and God is going to set His people free. He is going to bestow His own
honor upon His humble ones. And let us rejoice when we see this happening...
even if it appears they are receiving more than we have. But we need also to
pray for them lest in their enrichment they too fall into the trap of “pride”
and thus forfeit the grace that God gave them, by assuming a position of
self-importance because of their gifts.
This is the test that
Joseph’s brethren were subjected to, as God gave him honor and favour in the
sight of his brothers; and they eventually sold him “through envy” into Egypt.
And now this is the test that a proven and tried vessel, proven and tried in the
furnace of affliction, would bring to bear upon these same brothers in the time
of their desolation. Had they really changed? Had God wrought true repentance in
And so as they sat
feasting about the table together, Joseph would send portions from his table to
his brothers... but he sent a five-fold portion to Benjamin! Little Benjamin who
sat at the foot of the table, for he was the youngest of them all! How would his
brothers react to this? Would there be envy, jealousy, complaining?
Ah No! They were in
trouble now. God had brought them very low. The famine had achieved the purpose
God had in mind when He sent it. They rejoiced for Benjamin. A little later,
when they went on their way, the sons were all given changes of raiment... but
Benjamin received “three hundred pieces of silver, and five changes of raiment.”
(The number FIVE stands out in the Scriptures as the number of GRACE, the number
of God’s unmerited favor towards man.)
The famine had produced
contrition of heart, repentance, humility, meekness, kindness, brotherly love...
God knows how to bring the Family of God into harmony with Himself and with one
Still Joseph was a
stranger to them. They knew him not! What is it going to take for the Lord of
Glory to come forth in our midst in such a way that we will be able to say in
honesty and truth: “We have seen the Lord”?
Well, you say, He is
coming again, and we shall see Him. I know that. But I also know that there is
to be a visitation of the Lord of Glory in the midst of His people who are His
special Family, before He is openly unveiled before the world. Jesus said, “The
world seeth me no more, but YE see Me”... and He was talking about coming to
them in His Spirit.
There is that visitation
of the Lord of Glory, that consumes the sin and the evil that is in the hearts
of His people; and John says the reason men sin is because they have not SEEN
Him. (See 1 John 3:6; 3 John 11.)
There is that visitation
of the Lord such as Paul had, long after His ascension, when He appeared on the
Damascus road, and shone forth with a light brighter than the noonday sun.
There is the appearing
of the Lord in the midst of His people where they shall SEE HIM, and they shall
become LIKE HIM, “for they shall SEE HIM AS HE IS” (1 John 3:2).
There is that shining
forth of the Lord in the midst of His people, when... “beholding as in a glass
the GLORY OF THE LORD, we are CHANGED INTO THE SAME IMAGE from glory to glory,
even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18).
The Hour Of Repentance
The sons were sent on
their way home with corn for their families, with the money in their sacks, and
with Joseph’s silver cup in Benjamin’s sack. For Benjamin was something special
to Joseph... and he was next in line to be taken into captivity. When they had
just got a little beyond the city walls Joseph sent his servant to apprehend
them... and to accuse them for stealing his silver cup.
Of course, they were
absolutely sure that none of them had done that. And all the while the servant
was opening and closing their sacks they stood by quite satisfied and
contented... they just knew no such thing had happened.
Then suddenly, utter
devastation, when the servant of Joseph discovered the cup in Benjamin’s sack!
Immediately they were taken back to the city, and brought before the lord of the
What was God really
doing? Just revealing, seeking to uncover the secrets of their hearts. The
silver cup was just a ploy. The boys knew they had not stolen that... but they
had done things far worse than that, and thought they got away with it. People
get disturbed when they are falsely accused. Perhaps we had better stop and
think to ourselves: “I know I didn’t do that... but yes, I have done things much
worse.” If we can do that in such an hour, we may discover the grace for the
trial, and the cleansing and the forgiveness we need. These boys were
responsible for Joseph’s afflictions, and for all the misunderstandings that he
had to endure. It was fitting retribution that they should be apprehended for
sins they did not commit.
“Let him curse,” David
said of Shimei who walked along the hillside with the company that was fleeing
Jerusalem at the time of Absalom’s rebellion. “Let him curse, God told him to do
Shimei was wrong for
cursing the Lord’s anointed. But David knew at that particular time that it was
something he needed, some form of judgment that God had laid upon him, and he
recognized that God told Shimei to curse David. Don’t let this bother you. It
wasn’t Nathan that God sent with this hard word... it was Shimei. Nathan was not
a cursing man, and God will not ask you to do the cursing if you are a Vessel of
Mercy. But Shimei was a cursing man, and so God gave him that dirty job to
perform, and David knew it was coming to him. He knew that God was fulfilling a
long outstanding judgment concerning his great sin; and because he received it
all as from the Lord, God wrought grace and humility in David’s heart.
God used Shimei for this
dirty job. Take heed, you who delight in seeing God use your curses to harass
and judge the people of God. Your curses might be effective, if God permit... if
God has decreed that judgment was necessary. But may God have mercy on you, and
cause you to question Him, as to why He chose you for this dirty task, rather
than a Vessel of Mercy. God found Shimei “fit” for such a task. Let us stop
praying, “God use me,” and start praying, “God make me FIT to be a Vessel unto
Honor, and FIT for the Master’s use.”
Silver is a type of
Redemption; and God was using this silver vessel in a redemptive manner. Joseph
was able to hear the sons say from their own lips, “God hath found out the
iniquity of thy servants: behold, we are thy lord’s servants, both we, and he
also with whom the cup is found” (Gen. 44:16).
But Joseph refused to
take them all as bond-slaves. His heart yearned over them, and all along he was
looking for an opportunity to bestow great grace upon them. But first of all, he
had to bring them into devastation and captivity.
Why God Refrains Himself
Joseph said, “The man in
whose hand the cup is found, he shall be my servant; and as for you, get you up
in peace unto your father” (Gen. 44:17).
Why, Joseph, do you
insist on dragging out this whole process, when we know your heart is breaking,
and you long to throw your arms around your brethren and embrace them?
I wonder if we do not
often look upon God and some of His dealings with us, and in our hearts accuse
Him for hiding Himself in the time of our dilemma. It has been the heart cry of
His chosen ones all through the ages:
“Lord, why are you
hiding yourself Why are you tarrying so long?...”
If we could only
understand and know that God longs to come forth in our midst and lavish His
love upon us, then we would begin to question the condition of our own hearts:
“Lord, is there something within that you find offensive? Some idol? Some
unseemly thing that causes you to turn your face away from us? For just at that
moment when we think we are on the verge of a visitation of the Lord, You run to
another room, and we are left to our own accusing heart!”
Little do we realize in
times like that that as Joseph would run to another room, it was to weep before
the Lord. He longed to reveal himself to his brethren, far more than they longed
to see him. If we only knew that our Lord longs to come to us in the Beauty and
Glory of His presence, far more than we long to receive Him! But by nature we
are not compatible with His Glory. It would only devastate and destroy us. It is
only the broken and the contrite heart that can receive of His Presence--and
little by little as there is heart-searching and repentance and commitment,
little by little He comes to us, and makes Himself known.
The Commitment Of Praise
God wants a deeper, and
a still deeper commitment. We hear it so much... we talk about it a lot. And I
believe that in teaching it, and mentioning it often, God is preparing our
hearts for the day and hour when we will be enabled to give Him our all. I think
that if the Lord were to come suddenly and tell us plainly: “Now I want this,
and I want that...” it could be so devastating and so far beyond our ability to
hear, that we might draw back. But little by little as He draws in the net, and
we find ourselves in areas of confinement that devastate us, and leave us in
utter perplexity, we are confronted with the inevitable: “Look now, son...
daughter... there is no way to go! There is no way out! Better sell out
completely to your Lord!”
Why do we hesitate? And
why do we fear to give Him all, that we might have Him? It can only be because
we have not known Him as we ought. We have not seen Him as we ought. Is He not
enough? Have our eyes been so blinded by sin, by self, by condemnation, by wrong
thinking about Him, that when He says, “Give Me your all, that I might give you
My ALL”... we shrink back, and say “Yes, Lord, but please... not THIS...”?
God does reveal Himself
from time to time to His people... but before we behold Him in the fulness of
His Presence, the Lord is waiting for the ultimate commitment, which I am going
to call THE COMMITMENT OF PRAISE!
Before the second trip
to Egypt, the boys had been making commitments to their father, in order to
persuade him to release Benjamin; for they just knew they could not stand before
Zaph-nath-paaneah without Benjamin by their side. Reuben said, “Leave it to me,
Dad... if I don’t bring Benjamin back, slay my two sons.” Later Judah said,
“Dad, send Benjamin with me... I will be surety for him... if I bring him not
unto thee, and set him before thee, then let me bear the blame for ever” (Gen.
stand before the lord of the land, and Benjamin is taken to be a bondslave of
Pharaoh. Here is your opportunity, Reuben and Judah! Speak up!
But Reuben is silent. Of
course, he did not have his two sons with him, or perhaps he would offer them to
Pharaoh. He told Jacob he could slay them if he did not bring Benjamin back!
Speak up Reuben! But Reuben is silent. Reuben was the first born, and he proved
to be “unstable as water.” The first-born, the natural man, is slow to
relinquish his own title-deed. My sons? Yes! But not myself.
But Judah steps forward
and makes such a commitment, you just know God has wrought a great work in his
heart. It was Judah that said about twenty-two years earlier:
“Come, let us sell him
to the Ishmaelites...” (Gen. 37:27).
Of course, that was a
long time ago. Let bygones be bygones! Let’s just be the big happy family of
God! Ah no! God will continue to harass and devastate His people until there
comes forth true humility and repentance; for only then can the Body of Christ
function and move in the earth as the expression of the living Christ.
Now “Judah” means
“Praise,” and that is why we are talking about the COMMITMENT OF PRAISE! Hear
what PRAISE has to say:
“For thy servant became
surety for the lad unto my father, saying, If I bring him not unto thee, then I
shall bear the blame to my father for ever. Now therefore, I pray thee, LET THY
SERVANT ABIDE INSTEAD OF THE LAD A BONDMAN TO MY LORD; AND LET THE LAD GO UP
WITH HIS BRETHREN” (Gen. 44:32,33).
God does delight in the
PRAISES of His people, and we are not denying that. But it is time that God’s
people understand that PRAISE is THE FRUIT OF THEIR LIFE as well as THE FRUIT OF
THEIR LIPS, and not just a certain ritual they go through when they assemble in
His Name. In so many, many cases the praises of God are mere lip-service; and
PRAISE is encouraged to bring life to a dead meeting. It does not matter how
much self-seeking there might be in the people or in the leadership. Pride,
jealousies, covetousness, emulations... may be rampant. The Lordship of Christ
may have been ruled out of order. But if the people stand and raise their hands
in “praise” for a few minutes, their conscience has been soothed, and they are
assured that God came down, because “He inhabiteth the praises of His people.”
Read the Scriptures and
see what happened when God came down and revealed Himself: people would fall
prostrate before Him. Isaiah would cry aloud, “I am unclean... I dwell in the
midst of a people who are unclean...” People would fear and quake before Him,
because of the awesomeness of His presence. There would be a purging and a
cleansing, and the fear of God would grip the hearts of all. But one can go away
from these meetings, where God was supposed to have come down unchanged,
unmoved... ready to pursue their course of life as usual... only to return
Sunday after Sunday to another programmed meeting, with no thought of giving
Christ His Lordship in their lives... no thought of being changed. This is not a
“judgment”... It is just a simple observation of what I see in the Church of
Jesus Christ today.
The Altar Of Incense
“And he shall take a
censer full of burning coals of fire FROM OFF THE ALTAR before the LORD, and his
hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the veil, And he
shall put the incense upon the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of the
incense may cover the mercy seat” (Lev. 16:12,13).
This is what the high
priest did on the Day of Atonement. The Altar of Incense speaks of one’s
communion with God: worship, praise, prayer, thanksgiving. David said, “Let my
prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as
the evening sacrifice” (Ps. 141:2).
But there was no sweet
smelling savour from the incense except as the incense was placed upon the FIRE
FROM THE ALTAR. Just any kind of fire was not sufficient. In fact just any kind
of fire was deadly. Nadab and Abihu discovered that. IT HAD TO BE FIRE FROM OFF
THE ALTAR that would consume the incense, and cause the cloud to ascend unto
God. David speaks about the “high praises” of God that were to be in the mouths
of His people. The word “high” means “to mount up or “to ascend.” The “high
praises of God” are the praises that MOUNT UP, that ASCEND from lips that have
known the fire of the Brazen Altar. They could start no fire of their own in the
Holy Place as they stood before the Veil, which secluded the Ark of the Covenant
and God’s Glory from their view. The Altar of Incense in the Holy Place was not
constructed for burning sacrifices, but in acknowledgment of, and in praise of
Him who became our Sacrifice on the Brazen Altar. It was out there that the fire
had to be kindled. If there is to be true worship, and praise, and adoration,
and prayer... it must be kindled from the FIRE OF THE ALTAR. It must come from
the place of sacrifice. It must come from the place of commitment, of
consecration. And the fire that consumed the sacrifice would become coals in the
burning censer, to cause the cloud to ascend and cover the mercy seat. John saw
the angel of God standing before the Altar of Incense, and adding incense to the
prayers of the saints... and I am sure the word “prayers” includes our whole
life of communion before God: prayer, praise, worship, thanksgiving,
intercession... (Read Hannah’s prayer in 1 Sam. 2:1-8, where she asked God for
NOTHING... and Habakkuk’s prayer in Hab. 8:1-19, where he prays... recounts the
mighty works of the LORD... rejoices in his God... and commits the whole prayer
to the singers, to put it into song.)
God, stand by us at the
time of prayer and praise, and add the incense to our censers, and help us to
bring the coals of fire from a broken and a contrite heart... that our prayers
might be fervent, hot, and effectual.., and that our praises might be HIGH,
mounting up to heaven, ascending from our hearts as well as from our lips.
God help us to know that
it is the broken and the contrite heart, the bruised heart, the truly penitent
heart... the heart that has been laid bare and consumed on the Altar of Burnt
Offering... that causes the incense of the Lord to cover the mercy seat, and the
Presence of God to be made known in the midst of His people.
A certain minister I
knew had a vision as he sat in one of these “praise” meetings. He saw the
praises of the people as crowns upon their heads. Every one had crowns. All
kinds of crowns. Cheap looking crowns. Paper crowns. Some of them looked like
dunce-caps cut out of paper and put together. Then a few crowns of pure gold,
beautiful to behold.
Let me tell you,
beloved, THE PRAISES OF JUDAH are born out of the commitment of Judah: “Make me
to be your bond-slave, Lord, but let my brother go free...” When God’s people
come to that place where they are prepared to “lay down their lives for the
brethren”.., let me assure you, God will be there to inhabit that kind of
The Unveiling Of Joseph
“Then Joseph could not
refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried, Cause every man
to go out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself
known unto his brethren. And he wept aloud: and the Egyptians and the house of
Pharaoh heard. And Joseph said unto his brethren, I AM JOSEPH...” (Gen. 45:1-3).
To me this has always
been the most heart-breaking, heart-moving scene to be found anywhere in the
The room had to be
emptied. No place here for curious onlookers. No place here for those who have
known Zaph-nath-paaneah, the Saviour of Egypt, but have never had any intimate
dealings with the MAN that God sent to Egypt, the MAN that was betrayed, the MAN
that was sold, the MAN upon whom hung the hopes of Israel. Joseph must be alone
with his brothers.
Beloved, there is coming
forth a revelation of Christ in the midst of His people that we can only faintly
visualize at this moment. The world will not see this “revelation of Christ.” It
is an unveiling of Christ in the midst of His brethren... brethren who have come
to devastation, to perplexity, to bewilderment, to frustration... and because of
all this, to genuine heart-felt repentance and brokenness of heart.
I am confident that this
is what God is looking for in this hour... and I know it will not come until the
people of God become disillusioned with the emptiness and the futility of
religious entertainment... the snappy music... the giddy laughter and the empty
joy of a religious show that has ruled Christ out of their midst, and they know
it not. Laughter and joy has become the trademark in our churches, as it is in
the theaters. If a minister knows how to make people laugh, he has it made. If
he can’t, he is considered to be dull and boring. Let me tell you, the
commitment of PRAISE is going to produce weeping and brokenness of heart in the
people of God. The people of God have become estranged from their Lord. But the
captivity of Babylon, and the famine that is coming, is going to change all
“In those days, and in
that time, saith the LORD, the children Israel shall come, they and the
children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the LORD
their God. They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying,
Come, and let us join ourselves to the LORD in a perpetual covenant that shall
not be forgotten” (Jer. 50:4,5).
What about returning to
Zion with singing and everlasting joy upon their heads? Yes, that’s coming too.
But first the people of God must “ask the way to Zion with their faces
thitherward.” They must be committed to “join themselves to the LORD in a
perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten.”
The Lord Jesus is a
Stranger to the people of God! And all the while He stands at the door and
knocks and asks for admission: NOT AT THE HEART’S DOOR OF SINNERS... BUT AT THE
DOOR OF THE CHURCH:
“If ANY MAN hear My
voice, and will open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and
he with Me” (Rev. 3:20).
Joseph wept aloud... so
loud that the Egyptians in the adjoining room could hear him. It was a weeping
of joy, because his afflictions were now bearing fruit in the lives of his
brethren. His many hurts had become redemptive.., because now there is
repentance in the family of Jacob. Remember, hurts can only become redemptive
when they have been healed in the prison of the King. Joseph could never have
brought his brethren to repentance as long as he nurtured in his bosom any
thoughts of greatness, any thoughts of pre-eminence, any thoughts of bitterness,
any thoughts of what he had lost because of his exile. The prison... the King’s
prison, had taken all that out of him.
Joseph wept aloud. It
was the weeping of JOY that inevitably follows the weeping of sorrow and trial
of that one who has known the crucibles of God. It was the weeping of joy, as he
beheld the broken and the contrite hearts of his brethren.., as he saw former
jealousies and hates being washed away in cleansing streams; streams that flowed
from the heart, and to the eyes, and down the cheeks.
What a revelation of the
heart of God there is going to be when our Lord stands in our midst with those
searching, penetrating eyes and lays bear the secrets of the heart; and the
Family of God begins to realize that they have actually betrayed their Lord and
sold Him into Egypt! Sold Him for pleasure, for carnal gratification, for
wealth, for popularity. Sold the gifts they received from God, for base gain.
Sold their ministries. Bartered with the things of God. Made merchandise of holy
things... right in the temple. Changed the truth of God for a lie. Exchanged the
song of the Lord that is born at the Altar of God for the songs of Babylon and
the music of devils.
And all the while
salving over their conscience and saying, “We are doing it for the Lord.., we
are true men... we are the Family of God.”
Some months ago I saw a picture
advertised for sale in a Christian magazine. It was called “The Laughing Jesus.”
The picture showed Jesus laughing hilariously. Let me tell you, beloved, Jesus
is not laughing over His people. He is weeping over them... weeping over their
sins, weeping over their hardness of heart.
The Healing Virtue Of
Our Lord is quick to
forgive.., quick to receive us. He has wept over us, and longed for us... and
when He sees true brokenness and repentance He weeps for joy as He beholds the
broken and the contrite heart. It is the joy of fellowship restored... the joy
of having brothers that are now brothers indeed, and no longer tainted with
jealousies and hatred.
Forgiveness comes easy
to God’s Josephs... because they have partaken of the heart of their Lord.
Forgiveness is something they have stored up in readiness to flow. It is not
something they hold back until they see repentance. It is there in readiness, as
it was with Jesus. He forgave us at the Cross... long, long before we asked Him
for it. But we do not know it, and we cannot receive it, until we are humble and
contrite enough to ask Him for it.
There is no real
forgiving spirit in the man who says... “He has wronged me... if he repents...
yes, I guess I will forgive him.” Forgiveness must be there in the heart... and
it must begin to be stored up the moment you are wronged. He must make it right,
I know. But forgiveness is ready to be released. God says “Love never faileth.”
So you long for him, pray for him, seek God on his behalf... that somehow he
might not continue on hurting himself. He cannot hurt you, if you draw nigh to
the heart of God. Those original hurts you felt are healed, because you have
granted forgiveness in advance of his repentance.
The flow of forgiveness
and mercy in your heart and mine, even though not appropriated and received by
our brother, will bring us cleansing and freedom. You would like to release it
to others... but God must finish the work in them before you can do so. But it
has released you already... because it flows through your blood-stream... in
cleansing, forgiving, healing power... and all the while you are anticipating
the day when it will bring healing to your brother.
And if perchance the
prison-house of our experience has not wrought this grace in our lives, then we
remain prisoners unto ourselves, and will never be able to set others free.
God grant unto us the spirit of
Joseph, the Spirit of Jesus... that we might see the working of God in and
through every bitter experience of life, in order that healing streams of life
might flow forth from the Family of God to those who languish in captivity and
Manasseh And Ephraim
Joseph had two sons born
to him after his release from captivity and his exaltation to a place of power
in the land.
“And Joseph called the
name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my
toil, and all my father’s house. And the name of the second called he Ephraim:
For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction” (Gen.
This is God’s order:
Manasseh, then Ephraim. God must cause us to forget, before we can become
fruitful. You and I are not going to be fruitful until we can forget our past;
and this includes our victories, as well as our defeats. This could be
particularly difficult for those who have known a lot of success in the past,
and have thoughts of greatness; but if God is gracious toward them, they will
find themselves in the King’s Prison, and will have the opportunity to know what
this is all about. There has to be a FORGETTING of the past before we are going
to know true FRUITFULNESS in the Kingdom of God. Consider the achievements of
the great apostle Paul, and the mighty ministry that flowed from his life... and
hear him saying many years later, because of the Vision he had caught of the
high calling of God:
“But this one thing I
do, FORGETTING those things which are behind, and REACHING FORTH unto those
things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high
calling...” (Phil. 3:13, 14).
You are going to have to
forget past achievements if you are going to WIN Christ; but you are also going
to have to forget past prisons, past hurts, past difficulties, past defeats. The
memories of the past, whether they be of successes or of defeats, can he equally
destructive to a fruitful walk with God. But the prison house can erase the
memory of it, if we will accept the grace that He has for us in this hour.
You will remember that
when Joseph brought his two sons to the bedside of his dying father for the
patriarchal blessing, how Joseph brought Ephraim in his RIGHT hand toward
Jacob’s left, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Jacob’s right. In this way he
was making it easy for his blind father to stretch forth his hands, and put the
right hand of pre-eminence on the head of Manasseh, and his left hand on the
head of Ephraim. After all, Manasseh was the firstborn. But Jacob, even on his
deathbed was moving in the prophetic anointing, and he deliberately crossed his
hands over the heads of the two boys, giving Ephraim the blessing of the right
hand, and Manasseh the blessing of the left hand. This displeased Joseph, but
Jacob gently reminded him: “I know what I am doing, Joseph... Ephraim must have
The past would have its
rewards; but the past must give way to “those things which are before.” By way
of experience we have Manasseh first, and then Ephraim. But God puts the SIGN OF
THE CROSS over the heads of Manasseh and Ephraim! Ephraim means
double-fruitfulness. There are greater things ahead, a greater measure of
fruitfulness for God’s people. But the SIGN OF THE CROSS must be applied to our
past as well as to our future, if we are truly going to pursue the pathway to
the “high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
There Is Therefore No
“Be not grieved, nor
angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did SEND ME before you to
preserve life” (Gen. 45:5).
Once God has brought His
Family to true repentance and brokenness of heart, He wants to remove the sting
of condemnation. He does not want us to burden our conscience with the sins and
failures of the past; and He has given us in the scriptures a beautiful example
of the mercy that He bestowed on the greatest of sinners.
God apprehended and
saved the greatest sinner that ever lived! In this way He has given us an
example of His great longsuffering and patience and grace. If He was able to
save the greatest of sinners, surely He knows how to bestow mercy and grace on
the lesser sinners! This man was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, a
murderer; but he became a great apostle, and preached Christ in power and
anointing and great fruitfulness. And without elaborating in detail on all the
sordid things he committed in his past, he said...
“This is a faithful
saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to
save sinners; of whom I AM CHIEF” (1 Tim. 1:15).
God saved the Chief! O I
know, we may all feel that way, when God comes to us with that penetrating,
convicting Sword of His Spirit. But Paul meant what he said; he was the CHIEF OF
SINNERS. And then he tells us why God chose the CHIEF. It was that God might
present a true picture of His mercy and longsuffering, that all lesser sinners
might have hope:
“This is a faithful
saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to
save sinners; of whom I AM CHIEF. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that
in me first (or literally, ‘that in me as THE CHIEF’)Jesus Christ might show
forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on
him to life everlasting” (1 Tim. 1:15,16).
But isn’t it strange...
though we know these things, and are aware that our Lord loves us with an
everlasting love.., that He gave His life for us, and suffered the agonies of
the Cross... that we can continue on in self-condemnation, accusing ourselves
where God has justified... condemning ourselves when God has pardoned... blaming
ourselves, when Christ has taken all the blame?
O how we need to
acquaint ourselves more and more with the great heart of God! For though He has
declared Himself openly on the Cross, and by the Spirit, to be the “Just, and
the Justifier of him that believeth in Jesus”... we still battle with thoughts,
condemning thoughts, that do not glorify God. “God is angry with me, God is
after me, God is displeased with me...” Let us be quick to recognize the grief
of His Spirit when we indulge in our carnal ways. May we never have a heart that
is so callous that we feel not the pangs of an act of disobedience, the sorrow
for sins and shortcomings that God would make us aware of. But let us hear what
He says when forgiveness flows from His heart:
“Now therefore be not
grieved, nor angry with yourselves...” (Gen. 45:5). Come to Him with a broken
and a contrite heart, and then know for sure that He broke that heart of yours
only that He might pour in the oil of mercy and grace, and the wine of gladness.
Do not indulge in self-condemnation and accusation. For if you do, you are not
accusing yourself... you are accusing Him who took your place! Luther said
something like this one time (and I can’t quote it exactly) ...but when the
Tempter came to him and sought to remind him of his former transgressions, he
said, “Satan, you think you are going to torment me with my sins? I want you to
know that when you bring my former sins to mind, you comfort me with great
comfort! For Christ died for sinners! And therefore rather than tormenting me,
you give me great comfort and hope!”
Even after this
marvelous unveiling of the heart of Joseph, the brethren still had thoughts of
accusation coming to them: “I wonder if he really meant it... I wonder if he
will take advantage of us now that father has passed away...” And so they sent a
message to Joseph, telling him that their father Jacob told them to tell Joseph,
that he hoped Joseph would show his brothers mercy, and hold nothing against
them. When Joseph got the message, he wept again. There was no such thought in
his heart. He longed to forgive and forget. It was a joy for him to forgive. It
was healing to his own soul to forgive.
All this clearly reveals
that in spite of the marvelous revelation of Joseph’s love and mercy for them,
they still did not know his heart.
Do you find it difficult
to receive forgiveness, and to know that you stand perfectly forgiven, and
righteous before the throne of Grace? If so, it is because you do not really
know His heart.
Do you find it difficult
to bestow forgiveness upon others, to genuinely and truly forgive another from
your heart? If so, it is because you really have not seen the heart of God.
Furthermore, we are going to
discover that as we find grace to let forgiveness FLOW unto others... so in like
manner and in like measure will we know the healing of our own hearts, and the
cleansing of our own lives. For the cleansing stream of Mercy that we are
enabled to minister unto others WILL CLEANSE OUR OWN HEARTS even as it is
flowing forth unto others!
I see the New Creation
I hear the speaking
It speaks... polluted
Sinks ‘neath the
The cleansing stream, I
see, I see,
I plunge, and O it
O praise the Lord, it
It cleanseth me, yes
It is the stream of life
that flows from Calvary, But just as the blood of a slain bird was mingled with
pure flowing water, before it could become a water of cleansing, so the efficacy
of the blood of Christ has been absorbed into the Spirit of Truth. (See Lev.
14:5; l Jn. 5:6.) Do we understand, then, why it seems so difficult to walk day
by day with pure hearts and pure minds? It is simply because we have not made
way for the Lordship of the Spirit in our lives, and in our gathering together
unto Him! It is going to take a breaking and a melting of God’s people, for this
mighty stream of life to be released in the midst of God’s people.
Do we wonder why it
seems so difficult to minister real repentance to the people of God? Many are
crying, “Repent! Repent!” And this we must do. But beloved it is going to take a
prophetic anointing such as Joseph had, and such as John the Baptist had, if the
hearts of God’s erring ones are going to be unveiled. And it is going to take
the Lordship of God’s Spirit in our midst, if the cleansing Stream of repentance
is going to be released.
How shall we minister
repentance, and brokenness of heart to others, if we have not experienced it in
our own lives? How helpless we are, Lord, unless you continue to search us out,
and gaze upon us with those penetrating, searching eyes of your Spirit! Look
upon us, we pray, as You looked at Peter, as You looked at Moses, as You looked
at John on Patmos, as You looked at Isaiah, as You looked at Saul of Tarsus...
that we too might know the transforming work of the Spirit of God in our lives!
I do not know who
composed the following lines, but may it be the longing and the prayer of us
What has stripped the
From these idols of the
Not the sense of right
But the sight of nobler
Not the crushing of
With its bitter pain and
But the beaming of His
The unveiling of His
‘Tis the look that
‘Tis the face that
‘Tis the heart that wept
Can alone from idols
Draw, and win, and fill
Till the cup o’erflow
What have we to do with
Who have companied