Crowned With Oil
George H. Warnock
Lev. 21:12 "Neither shall he go out of the sanctuary, nor profane the sanctuary of his God; for the crown of the anointing oil of his God is upon him: l am the LORD."
1 Pet. 2:9 "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light."
Many times we may pick up a book and read it, admit that what we have read is good and scriptural, and then begin to wonder: "What did this book do for me? Has it produced in me a greater measure of the life of Christ? Or imparted to me a greater desire to walk in obedience, and to draw closer to His bract?"
Perhaps we are not always able to answer questions like that in a precise manner, But if what we are reading causes our hearts to burn within us, as with the disciples who walked with the Stranger along the road to Emmaus, I think we can be assured that God is working in our lives, even though there may remain a lot of perplexity as to His ways. For this is a day of doubt and perplexity for many of God's people who truly desire to please Him, but who have not been able to understand the tangled threads and the dead-end pathways which they fully expected would have brought them into a life of fruitfulness in the Kingdom of God.
And so here is another writing. Like my other writings it is not intended to set forth doctrinal positions as such, but to give increased hope and courage to those who see the "more excellent Way", but try as they may are finding it difficult to get away from the trail of fallen trees and ruts and rocks, and onto the Freeway of Life. We know the highway is there, and it is easy enough to see it. But only by an operation of the Spirit in our lives are we going to he enabled to break through the high fence of religious works and man's systems (out there in the world, or deep within our own natures), to walk with Him in the Way.
God wants us to know that our High Priest is enthroned in a "more excellent ministry" in the heavens, and the Spirit of God is here in the earth to fully invade our lives, and to lead at into this "more excellent Way".
- George H. Warnock -
Chapter 1 – Reigning in life
The Kingdom of Heaven that Jesus came to establish in the earth is a spiritual, heavenly Kingdom. People lose interest when we mention things like that, because if it is spiritual it is not considered to be real. Let me assure you that the spirit of man is the most important part of man - that the spirit is the real man. And the Kingdom of Heaven is that realm in God where man is lifted and elevated, made alive, and brought into reality.
This Kingdom was heralded by John the Baptist, and brought into being by the ministry of the Lord Jesus Himself. It is not a kingdom that He saw fit to postpone because He was rejected. It was not delayed for some future era. It came right on time.
If God's people could only recognize this! Like Israel of old we have continued to expect a kingdom that would come "with observation", and with outward show. It is taught that one of these days Jesus will return to earth to set up the Kingdom, whereas the Bible clearly teaches us that He set it up and ordained its constitution and its progress in the earth when He came the first time.
If there is one thing that Jesus emphasized above others regarding this truth, it was that the Kingdom of Heaven was to grow out of the earth because of a seed that was planted - and that He Himself became that Seed.
"So is the Kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself: first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear" (Mark 4:26-28). Notice this clear truth: It is planted in the earth. It grows and matures in the earth, And the "full corn" comes to maturity and full growth "in the ear" - in the earth, and not in Heaven.
Then we have the parable of the four different kinds of soil in which the seed of the Kingdom is cast, and how the seed that fell into good soil came forth in abundant fruitfulness, "some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty" (Matt. 13:23). Our Lord tells us also that the Enemy will sow tares among the good seed, and that God would allow the tares and the wheat to grow together until the day of harvest. And lie tells us that the harvest is "the end of the world (aion = age)” (Matt. 13:38, 39). It is the end of the Kingdom age that Jesus brought into being, not the beginning of it. But all this was so contrary to the thinking of the people of His time that they could not receive it. Jesus tells us why: "This people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed" (Matt. 13:15). Surely it would not have been difficult for Him to explain that He was there to become their King in the earth, and to reign from Jerusalem. That was exactly what they were looking for. But the Kingdom He came to establish was so very, very different that they could not see what He was seeking to reveal. So he turned to His disciples and said, "Blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear and have not heard them" (Matt. 13:16, 17). Notice this: "Many prophets" desired to see what these disciples were now seeing, and could not. Why do we get the notion that the prophets were longing for and prophesying about something different? Peter tells us that "All the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days" (Acts 3:24). They did not understand fully the times of which they wrote, but God showed them that "not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things" which they wrote about, and that these things "are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven" (1 Pet. 1:12).
God wants to Spiritualize the Natural
The principle is: "That was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual" (1 Cor. 15:46). It is not less real when it becomes spiritual - it is more real.
When the natural Israelite comes into Christ, he is not less an Israelite. Rather, for the first time he becomes a true Israelite. "For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: neither because they are the seed of Abraham are they all children: but, in Isaac shall thy seed be called" (Rom. 9:6, 7). And Paul tells us what God means by this: "That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for The seed" (vs. 8). Surely the "heavenly Jerusalem" is much more real, much more glorious, much more enduring than the earthly one which "is in bondage with her children" (Gal. 4:25). Surely Mount Zion in the heavens is more glorious, more beautiful, more enduring than that little hill in old Jerusalem! (See Heb. 12:22).
It was God's desire from the very beginning to bring forth a spiritual people out of the natural. True, He ordained sacrifices, and offerings, and circumcision, and altars and temples - for a season. But He always desired "the sacrifices of a broken and a contrite heart" (Ps. 51:17). He always desired "him that is poor and of a contrite spirit" as His dwelling place, and not a 'house' that men would build of wood and stone (Isa. 66:1, 2). God's purpose from the beginning was that He might "circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart" (Deut. 30:6).
Shall we Spiritualize or Carnalize the Word?
Be assured of this, if God by His Holy Spirit does not breathe His own breath and life into the Word, we are carnalizing it. We are making it to be the "letter that killeth" rather than the "Spirit that giveth life" (2 Cor. 3:6).
Now we have many good translations that are useful to us in breaking down the barriers that exist between the original scriptures and our modem day languages. And we are thankful for those translators, ancient and modem, who are honestly trying to express the thought of scripture according to the original intention of the writers.
But let us never forget that there remains an insurmountable language barrier between the Creator and the creature; and that only the Holy Spirit can bridge that vast gulf. Saul of Tarsus knew Hebrew and Greek to perfection - but through it all he never discovered the living truth. God revealed the truth to him "by the revelation of Jesus Christ" (Gal. 1:12). And of course he discovered, in the reading of the scriptures, that what God had revealed to Him was in accord with that which was written.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD" (Isa. 55:8). How great is the barrier between our thoughts and God's? "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts" (vs. 9).
"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor. 2:14).
We are totally helpless, brethren, to come to a knowledge of the truth and of the scriptures except as God reveals it to us by His Spirit.
He speaks from the realm of the Spirit, into the realm of the earthly and the carnal.
He speaks from the realm of eternity, into the realm of the finite.
There is no linguist on earth today, nor has there been in any other day, that can bridge that gulf.
But Lord, we want to know You! We want to hear from You! We want to see You! Illuminate us by Your Spirit, that we might see! We desire "truth in the inward parts" (Ps. 51:6). We want the living bread. We want "manna" that has been spiritualized with the atmosphere of Heaven. We want pure "water" that has been spiritualized with the smiting rod, and flows forth from the living Christ. We want Your word, that is "forever settled in Heaven" - but we must have it fresh and new every morning. From the days of our youth, and even to the days when our head is hoary and our strength is weakened - we must hear and see new things, fresh things, from the throne of God. I must hear a word that is constantly "spiritualized" with the breath of Heaven. We are persuaded concerning the great foundational truths of scripture; but in all that we know we simply recognize that we only "know in part" (1 Cor. 13:12). This awareness does not give us a sense of uncertainty, but it does leave us with a greater sense of our insufficiency. What You give, what You reveal, is sufficient for today. But tomorrow I must have a fresh supply. I will find that supply in the same well, in the same river, in the same manna, in the same holy place. But if I have truly been taught of the Lord, and have walked in obedience, in faith, in hope, in charity - tomorrow's portion will be of a higher order to lead me into higher heights of spiritual appreciation, into broader streams of love and mercy, into lower depths of humility and meekness. Amen.
We must learn to put our trust and confidence in God, and in His Holy Spirit, to lead us into "all truth". He is a Guide that can be trusted. If we fall into deception, it is because of the perverseness of our own hearts. No man who walks with Jesus and stays close to Him can be seduced by the Enemy. For in the Lord Jesus there is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.
We are not denying that there is a Kingdom yet to come. But the essence of that same Kingdom is here in the earth now. And if we do not find ourselves reigning in life now, how vain and senseless to think we are going to reign with Him later on. For whatever may be involved in future aspects of the Kingdom of God, it is nothing more than the outgrowth of the Kingdom that is now planted in the hearts of men by His Spirit. There are "tares" mingled with the "wheat" - that is true; and for this reason many of God's people refuse to believe that the real Kingdom of God is in the earth today. Jesus said it would be this way until "the end" - until the day of harvest. The tares will appear wherever the wheat is growing, because the Enemy wants to spoil God's garden. Antichrist will appear wherever there is an anointed people, because he is 'anti' Christ - He is opposed to the Anointed One. He has no interest in coming to a temple built with the hands of man. He wants to take charge in God's Temple where God's glory should rule and reign. He wants to crowd Christ out of His Temple. The meaning of "antichrist" is not only one who is "opposed to Christ" - it can also mean one who stands "instead of Christ". Anything he can do to replace Christ in your life or in your church assembly, he will do it. If he can succeed in replacing the anointing with something else - anything else, it matters not - he has won a great victory. And how well he has succeeded in doing this, especially in these last few decades!
We know that "Antichrist" will come to fulness of manifestation in the last time. But John tells us that there were many antichrists at work, even in his day (1 Jn. 2:18). He has been the constant Enemy of God's people. And God has always brought forth a conquering people, many of whom overcame through blood and martyrdom. But today it seems the Church has forgotten that she is engaged in battle with a world that hates God, and Antichrist has taken up strong positions in our midst. We have pretty well made a covenant with the world that we will co-operate with her the best we know - help fight her wars, and get very much involved in all her programs and her political systems - rather than becoming a separated people unto the Lord. It is thought we are to be "kings" of this world system, rather than her enemies. And we seem to know how to co-exist quite nicely. The reason is we have taken the kingdoms of this world into our possession under the terms of Satan, and therefore he gets the honor and glory from our submission. He tried to entangle Jesus this way and failed. And he has continued to use the same tactics with the followers of Jesus - and very often is successful.
Chapter 2 - The character of the kingdom
“For the Kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost" (Rom. 14:17).
Jesus came into the world to set up the Kingdom of Heaven - not to banish the Romans from Jerusalem, but to banish sin from the hearts of men. Because He walked in obedience and truly represented the Father in the earth He came into direct confrontation with the world, the flesh, and the Devil. He consistently refused to meddle with the kingdoms of this world, even though they came to Him on one occasion in an attempt to make Him their King "by force". "My Kingdom is not of this world", He said (Jn. 18:36). He came to bring to earth a different kind of Kingdom - the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of God on earth (some would try to make a distinction between the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God. Just take your concordance and look up these terms as used in the four gospels, and it becomes self-evident that it is one and the same Kingdom: The Kingdom of God, brought down from Heaven, to embrace the hearts of men). The principles upon which this Kingdom would be established are the principles of righteousness, truth, meekness, and love. See Him stand before Pilate, a representative of the most powerful of all empires up to that time, and see how He replies to the question, "Are you a King then?"
"Thou sayest that I am a King. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth" (Jn. 18:37).
The Kingdom of God is Righteousness
First and foremost it is a Kingdom of Righteousness; for without righteousness - God's righteousness - there can be no real peace; and without righteousness and peace there can be no real "joy" in the hearts of men.
Now "righteousness" is a free gift of God, and it comes to us by the workings of His grace:
"That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 5:21). The kingdom of righteousness has invaded the kingdom of sin and death. There are many kinds of kings and rulers and dictators both in the world and in the Church - but over them all there is a greater potentate who has the final authority, and this one is Death. There is a short reign of glory and power and it is all over. All lay down their crowns at the throne of Death. Kings in the Church do the same. They may rule and reign in splendor, have large followings, bring the masses under their subjection, receive adoration and honour from the multitudes - but sooner or later they themselves submit to a still greater potentate, even Death.
But when the Kingdom of Heaven is truly making inroads into the lives of men, God's servants begin to reign in life because of the working of the Cross in their lives. Righteousness is ministered to the hearts of men, and "grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life". Apart from a ministration of righteousness by the Holy Spirit, there is no abiding foundation for "peace" and much less for "joy". This order is generally reversed because, generally speaking - the kingdoms of the Church are based on worldly principles. "Joy" is the quest of the world, so it has become the cornerstone of our Church gatherings. The music is like the music of the world and is designed to bring joy. The young people are caught up with the pleasures of the world, so we will incorporate worldly pleasures into our religious services. We will have worldly music and worldly games in our Church gatherings, and in this way we can get more young people involved in our Church activities. And they call it "the Joy of the Lord". In many cases it is like "the crackling of thorns under a pot" (Ecc. 7:6).
Now what is "righteousness"? The good works of the people? Not really.
"Christ Jesus ..is made unto us...righteousness" (1 Cor. 1:30).
This puts the whole matter in an entirely different light. There ought to be good works, this is true. But they are not really righteous deeds in the sight of God except they be the outworking of Christ Himself in our midst. It is only as we are abiding in Christ that His righteousness is revealed in our lives. Only as Christ walks in His people - leading, motivating, energizing, and manifesting His own life are we truly a manifestation of the righteousness of God in the earth. We might bring forth some very impressive programs - religious or otherwise. We might preach, evangelize, and get involved with all kinds of Christian outreaches. But if it is because of human zeal, and not the fruit of the righteousness of Christ in our lives - if it is not because we are "working together with God" in the "yoke" of Christ - all these wonderful works are but as "filthy rags" in His sight, and will avail nothing in the day of Christ.
"Righteousness, and Peace"
"Then judgment (or justice) shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field. And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever" (Isa. 32:16, 17).
When peace becomes our pursuit, we can very easily build a kingdom of peace based on our own efforts. We see it in the world about us. But it is also rampant in the Church. The spirit of compromise has overwhelmed God's people. It seems necessary for survival. God help us to discern the thoughts and the intentions of our hearts. Do our motives spring from the indwelling Christ? Or are we compromising the truth for the sake of unity?
Jesus "came not to send peace but a sword" (Matt. 10:34). He came to do justice, to establish righteousness, and peace will be the fruit of it. But this will bring confrontation with the world about us: friend against friend, brother against brother, father against son, mother against daughter, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law. This is inevitable, because the Kingdom of God is based on righteousness. The wisdom that cometh from above is "first pure, then peaceable" (Jas. 3:17). "Gentle, and easy to be entreated" - Yes. It is not harsh and cruel; but neither can it be compromising. It must first be "pure". True peace will come out of this. True gentleness and meekness will come out of this. The "pure in heart" will see God, and will manifest and show forth the love and mercy and gentleness of Christ. But in the midst of it all he will know God's grief because of the sin of His people, and will "love righteousness and hate iniquity" as Jesus did.
"And joy in the Holy Ghost"
It seems to me that the kingdom that prevails out there in the Church today is very much like the world. It is a kingdom based on Joy. Who would deny that God wants His people to have the "joy of the Lord"? But Joy is the "fruit of the Spirit". Joy is the fruit that grows from the vine of truth and of righteousness. It is not something you try to produce with a lot of good snappy music. It is not manufactured by the mechanics of praise and worship. It is not the enthusiasm and excitement that is generated by an entertainer who knows how to stir the emotions, but does not draw the heart to brokenness and repentance.
It is the "oil of joy" that flows from the olive berry that has known the crushing and the pressing in the vats of God's dealings.
It is the joy of Sarah, who calls her new born son "Laughter" (Isaac) because of God's faithfulness in bringing fruitfulness and blessing to a woman of ninety, who had long bemoaned her state of barrenness before Abraham and before the LORD.
It is the joy of Hanna, who likewise knew sorrow of heart and much reproach, because she was helplessly barren. But she came to the place where she could rejoice in a God who brings down the high and the mighty, and exalts the lowly - who brings desolation to those who gloried in their fruitfulness, and causes the barren woman to be a mother of seven.
It is the joy of Joseph, "whose feet were laid in fetters" and "whose soul was laid in iron" - but who in the fulfillment of God's dealings in his life, wept over his brethren with tears of joy and victory, and rejoiced in the sovereign workings of God in his life - in the God who gives "the oil of joy for mourning".
It is the joy of Paul, who thought himself "happy" to be bound in chains, yet knowing he was free, because he knew he was a ''prisoner of the Lord''.
Happiness is not a feeling that comes and goes because of circumstances. It is not something you have to work up when you come to Church after a long miserable week at your job. It is that abiding state of blessedness that is yours in the midst of the trial, in the midst of the pressure - because you know that you are walking with God and doing His will, and reigning in life by Christ Jesus.
Christ Reigns as a Priest on the Throne
The Kingdom to come is said to be that which Christ will establish when He comes back again, in which He will enforce righteousness in the earth by righteous decree. God once administered righteous decrees in this manner, and exacted very severe penalties upon all who disobeyed His laws. And the final outcome of it all was death. Paul went so far as to say that the whole administration of the Old Covenant was a "ministration of death" (2 Cor. 3:7). Not because there was anything wrong with the Law in itself - but in the outcome of it all a broken Law was inevitable because of "the weakness of the flesh". And that which ought to have ministered life brought about a ministration of death.
But now we are taught that one of these days God will establish a Kingdom in the earth and force the inhabitants of the earth into submission by issuing righteous decrees. Do we not realize that we now have a Mediator of "a better Covenant" enthroned at the right hand of God in the heavens? And that He has all power "in heaven and in earth" to minister and to impart righteousness by the Spirit into the hearts of men, here and now?
This is thought to be totally inadequate - I suppose because He is simply too far away! We know He will rule and reign in righteousness later on, for His Kingdom is "an everlasting Kingdom". But He is reigning on a throne of glory now -
"Behold the Man whose name is the Branch; And he shall grow up out of His place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD" (Zech. 6:12).
This Man is the Lord Jesus. He is the Branch, or Sprout. Isaiah calls Him "a root out of a dry ground". He grows up out of "His place" - and His place is His holy Temple in the earth. His place is in God's Garden. In God's Garden He becomes the Vine, and in union with that Vine there are many "branches".
"Even He shall build the temple of the LORD; and He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne" (Zech. 6:13).
He was the Temple of God in the earth when He was here (See Jn. 2:19). But now He is building an extension of that Temple which He was when He walked on earth. It is not another Temple - but now He is the Chief Cornerstone of an enlarged Temple; and He bears the glory. As our great High Priest in the heavens He carries upon His shoulders the fulness of the glory of God - and He reigns as a Priest, bearing that glory.
The priesthood has been transferred from earth to heaven. The old earthly priesthood had to be changed because it was a "ministration of death". The whole order ended in death because it was an earthly priesthood based upon an old covenant that even the priesthood could not keep.
But now has Christ entered into "a more excellent ministry" in the heavens, a priestly ministry after the order of Melchizedek:
"The LORD said unto my Lord,
Why did God transfer the administration of the priesthood from earth to Heaven, and from Levi to Melchizedek? Paul shows us why:
(1) Melchizedek is superior to Levi, because Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek, and received the blessing of Melchizedek. This proves that Melchizedek was better because the "lesser" is always blessed by the "better" (Heb. 7:7).
(2) The Levitical order, good and all as it may have been in its time, ended in death. And all kingdoms that end in death must give way to the Kingdom of God that issues forth in life (see Heb. 7:8, 16).
(3) The Levitical order could not bring perfection. It could not bring the work of redemption to a completion, to a fulness, and therefore it had to be changed (see Heb. 7:11, 12). Notice this, beloved. For the Church to remain in a constant state of imperfection is sound doctrine the way the Church sees it. God says He had to "change" the old system because it could not bring forth the perfection, the completion, the fulness that is brought forth in the New Covenant.
(4) The old system was declared "unprofitable" for the simple reason that the Old Covenant had no power to bring forth any profit to God or man (see Heb. 7:18). The Law had its day; and it had demonstrated, throughout 1,400 years of human history, that the whole system issued forth in death. Nevertheless, it did "bring in a better hope, by which we draw nigh to God" (Heb. 7:19). The hope of the Law was not another earthly kingdom. The hope of the Law was a new order, with a new priesthood after the order of Melchizedek. This priesthood was to be administered directly from the throne of God in the heavens. The foundation of this new Kingdom would be righteousness and peace, for the very name "Melchizedek" means "King of righteousness". This Melchizedek reigned over the city of Salem, which means Peace. We do not inquire as to who he was, this strange personage; for the secrecy of his origins makes him to be a more fitting type of Christ, whom the world knoweth not. He is said to be "without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life" (Heb. 7:3). In other words, his name is nowhere to be found in the genealogies of the Levitical priestly records. So it is with Christ. Now Christ had a recorded genealogy in Matthew's gospel, and also in Luke's. He also had a mother, and a Father. But as far as the Levitical priestly records were concerned, He did not exist. He enters the scene of priestly and kingly ministry - out from obscurity; for He came fresh from the bosom of God. And now He rules and reigns as a Priest on a "better" throne, and in a "better" priesthood, in the Kingdom of Life.
What the Law could not do because it was "weak through the flesh", the Priest on the throne of Heaven is able to accomplish through the "ministration of the Spirit" to the hearts of men (2 Cor. 3:8, 9; Rom. 8:3). He reigns from a heavenly Zion to ensure that His ministry would be more effectual, more enduring, more pervasive than it could ever be were He to minister from some geographic location on earth. Men do not think this is the best way. Most people in the Church do not seem to think this is the best way. But it seemed good to God! And God has issued a decree to establish the King in the heavenly Zion:
"Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree; The LORD hath said unto Me, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten Thee" (Ps. 2:6, 7; Heb. 5:5, 6).
This decree is reaffirmed again and again by God's holy apostles and prophets; and yet somehow our modem day teachers are bold to declare that His Kingdom will not be truly effective until the heavenly Zion becomes an earthly one. God is satisfied that His King will be able to "subdue all enemies" under His feet as He reigns from a heavenly throne. Why can't we be at rest in the decree? And what makes us think that He is hampered in His task because He is so far away? He was here on earth once, and having finished the work of redemption He remained here for another 40 days. He could have stayed for 40 years - or for 2,000 years if that was necessary. But the "decree" of the Father was that the Son would have "a more excellent ministry" in the heavens (Heb. 8:6). Exalted in the heavens He would have the totality of power, not only in the earth, but in the heavens as well. (Matt. 28:18). Power in the earth would not be sufficient, because earth's real problems are with "principalities and powers" in the heavens. Earth's real problems are with Satan, who is "the prince of the power of the air", as well as "the god of this world". And so God's decree has established a Man in the heavens, who would reign as a "Priest on the throne" - on the highest throne to be found anywhere in the whole universe.
"Far above all principality,
Why do men think that coming back to earth would somehow enable Him to judge more effectively, because of His transfer from heaven to earth? God transferred Him from earth to heaven so He would have "a more excellent ministry". Of course He is coming back! But not to start a Kingdom. He is coming to totally devastate the kingdoms of men, as well as all the kingdoms of the heavens, - and to bring into being a "new heavens, and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness" (2 Pet. 3:13).
The coming of the Lord is generally presented as the hope of the world, when the gospel of Christ will really begin to make an impact on the nations, and the Kingdom of Heaven will be forced upon the earth by righteous decree.
But Jesus likens His coming to the judgment of the flood, and to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Matt. 24:37-39; Luke 17:28, 29). He tells us that just prior to His coming there will be "the days of vengeance", and that "the powers of heaven shall be shaken" (Lk. 21:22, 26). Paul tells us that the Lord Jesus will come "in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thess. 1:8). And Peter tells us that God's delay in fulfilling "the promise of His coming" is because He is "longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Pet. 3:9). If His coming means that the earth will then be saturated with the gospel of the Kingdom, why does God withhold His coming, desiring that men would come to repentance? The reason is: "The Day of God" is at hand - a day when "the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heart, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up" (2 Pet. 3:10).
I am asked, Where do we fit the millennium into this picture? All I can do is ask, Why didn't Peter fit it in? We might just have to leave it alone till the other pieces of the puzzle are fitted together. Somewhere that little piece of the puzzle will find its place. But are we to take the one and only scripture in the Bible that refers to a reign of "a thousand years" and revolve the whole doctrine of the Kingdom of God about that? (Rev. 20). The Book of Revelation is full of symbols, and most - if not all - of the numbers are symbolic in their significance. The only other reference to "a thousand years" in the New Testament is in this passage in Peter; and here he would remind us that "a thousand years" are but as a day. Men are quick to point out that "the last days" mentioned by the apostles have now covered "two thousand years", and so the present Christian era up to now is really only "two days" in God's calendar. Then, why are we not as quick to acknowledge that "a thousand years" might be reduced to mean "one day" - as the apostle said?
We cannot just brush aside the solemn warnings of the apostle because many theologians assure us that the new heavens and the new earth cannot come into being for at least another thousand years. Peter may not have anticipated that this age would last 2,000 years from his time; but under the inspiration of the Spirit he said that we are "looking for" and "hasting unto" the day of God, which is a day of fire. "Hasting unto" has the meaning, "eagerly expecting, earnestly waiting for". Because the Lord comes in fire to devastate the kingdoms of men and destroy the earth and the heavens as we know them, and to bring into being "A new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness" (2 Pet. 3:12, 13).
It is now in this day that the gospel of the Kingdom is to go forth to all nations. And God is preparing a people for this hour as He has in any other hour of apostasy. It is the same gospel of the Kingdom that went forth in the beginning, but now it is "harvest" time, the end of the age. The tares are to be gathered into bundles for burning. The chaff is to be separated from the wheat and consumed. The wheat is to be gathered into the garner. This gospel of the Kingdom will be a word that will devastate the kingdoms of darkness; but it will be a word of salvation that will not only be spoken, but will shine to the ends of the earth.
When one considers the great potential that we now have for promoting the gospel... with radio and television and all kinds of electronic paraphernalia.. .the massive missionary programs... the availability of fast communication and travel... the accumulated knowledge that now lies at our disposal by way of books, and tapes, and seminars - all of which are designed as an aid to an understanding of the scriptures, to evangelism, and to Church growth... How can we help but feel tremendously impressed with the potential of this hour for the spreading of the gospel? - Unless we think back about 50 years! Back then we used to hear statistics like this: One Billion inhabitants of the earth either have not heard the Gospel, or know nothing about the Lord Jesus! Today that number has spiraled to two or three billion, and perhaps more! And yet the Church continues to exalt our modern technology as God's way to send forth His Word into the earth. How blind - just how blind can God's people get?
We are not saying we should not use our modern methods of travel and communication. We are in a modern world, and we use what God has provided, as He may see fit. But we are simply saying that our technology and our modern methods and aids to evangelism have no real bearing on the effectiveness of the gospel of the Kingdom. The gospel of Christ is reproductive by nature, and brings forth after its kind. Every living thing that God placed in the earth was created with a law of procreation inherent within its life cell. But I fear the Church is now almost sterile because she has been drinking from cisterns that have been polluted with the toxic wastes of the psychologies and the philosophies of men. She may be growing in leaps and bounds (in appearance anyway, although it is evident that most of what we call "church growth" is simply a transfer of people from one "church" to another that has a better program). But how many of our church members really know the Lord? It is popular now to be "born again" - because presidents, and governors, and actors, and prominent business men are "born again". When the stigma of the Cross is rooted out of the Church, so is the life of Christ. Where is that travail of the Spirit that brings babes in Christ to new birth? Where is that real conviction of sin that causes men to abhor themselves in their lost condition, and cry unto God for mercy? The Church may say, "These are my children!" But I wonder if God is truly saying, "I am their Father"? What does God call a person that is mothered by the Church, but not fathered by the Lord of the Church? (see Heb. 12:8).
Jesus said, "When He (the Spirit of truth) is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment" (Jn. 16:8). How can a Church that has become totally captivated by the spirit of the world become an effectual reproof to the world about her?
The Scandal of the Cross
"But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block (Gr. skandalon), and unto the Greeks foolishness" (1 Cor. 1:23).
Here is the real problem! God's people do not want to become the objects of "scandal". We do not want to be a by-word, a reproach in a world that we must accommodate in order to win her favour.
And so you can “join the Church" and get away with almost anything - as long as you forsake some of those extreme, outward sins that Christian ethics do not allow. But when we avoid the scandal of the Cross we are eliminating from our way of life that instrument of death that God ordained for the smiting of our carnal nature, and the sinful hearts of men around us. Paul said, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world" (Gal. 6:14).
This is the Laodicean Age
The spirit of compromise has just about conquered the people of God, and especially the leadership in the Church today. The sad part of it all is that they are almost totally blind to their condition. Our Lord has "eye-salve" to anoint our eyes that we might see. But to be blind and all the while insist that we see - this leaves us totally helpless and immune to any offer of salvation.
Everyone is prepared to admit that the Laodicean Church is the character of the end-time Church; but Laodicea is always that other church across the street, not the one we go to. Ours is that "glorious Church" that Paul spoke about!
And so the "gospel" of the Kingdom continues to be heralded by a Laodicean Church...
A Church that is based almost entirely on accumulating earth's resources, and getting more and more involved in earth's economics, in earth’s politics and in earth's governments -
A Church that is "rich” and increased with goods.
A Church that promises the people of God health, prosperity, happiness, and joy... if they will but release their resources to the glory of God.
A Church that has perverted "discipleship" to mean devotion to their system, rather than a forsaking of all in order to follow Him.
A Church that considers large financial resources to be God's provision to reach the lost, rather then recognizing this as the noose that has choked her and deprived her of the breath of life.
A Church that has almost totally embraced the world and its systems, thinking that in embracing the world she could win the world.
A Church that is captivated by the spirit of Jezebel, which is a spirit of sorcery, seducing God's servants to "commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols" (Rev. 2:20).
The prophets of Jezebel and of Baal may declare some very outstanding truths, as Balak did. But his heart was perverse; he was doing it for the money that was in it, and God's wrath fell upon him.
In the time of Ezekiel God complained that the prophets were not preparing the people for the day of battle, nor making up the hedge of defence so the people would be able to stand in the day of the LORD. Rather they were seducing the people by "saying, Peace; and there was no peace" (see Ezek. 13:1-16). There are many prophecies coming forth in our churches. But how long is it since we have heard prophecies that would cause a man to fall on his face as "the secrets of the heart are made manifest", and cry out: "God is in you of a truth" (1 Cor. 14:25)?
We read of men like Wesley and Fox and many others who preached in such anointing and power that men would tremble, and fall on their faces in writhing pain, because of the awesomeness of God's holy presence. Early Pentecost was known for the fiery, consuming presence of God. Men's hearts would be smitten as they agonized under the conviction and reproof of the Holy Spirit. Now they want to build monuments to the memory of those great days of visitation. Sepulchers are harmless things! We are respectable now! We do not want goings-on like that in our churches. Why do we not seek out "the old paths" upon which the prophets of God's glory walked in past generations? I am afraid it is because we do not really want those cleansing streams of holy fire that might destroy our comfortable, Laodicean way of life.
The kernel is gone and we are content to spend our time admiring the broken shell.
We are feeding on the husks that the swine do eat, instead of returning to Father’s table.
The glory has departed, and we mend the veil that was rent, and carry on with our "worship" before an ark that is devoid of the Shekinah.
The altars are still there in our churches, but there is no bleeding sacrifice laid upon it. The dismembered parts of the burnt offering present too bloody a scene - with head, and heart, and liver exposed to the holy fires of God.
We must have an altar, because an altar is part of temple worship. But let it be an altar of oak or mahogany, and let it be enhanced with tapestry and golden cords, and not defiled with the smoke of a burnt offering. Let it not be soiled with the weeping and wailing of penitent hearts, or the grime of sinners off the street. We are Laodicean now, and our temples must be kept beautiful within and without, to attract the crowds. The grounds must be landscaped with the art of the horticulturist - because this temple is for the rich and the prosperous. No bums are wanted in here. Our courts must be filled with jovial, happy, praising people! No longer do we worship in back-alley missions, and old store-fronts. Our temples are of the best architecture and workmanship. For we are "rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing."
And if perchance God prospers us, and our barns are filled to the brim, we will sell them or tear them down and build still greater ones to the glory of God. This is thought to be "vision" and spiritual "outreach". We must build towers that reach up into the heavens, to keep the people of God from being scattered - to keep them together - to make them one - and to "make a name for ourselves".
"And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded" (Gen. 11:5). But He was not the least impressed!
Beloved, let us not be the least disturbed when God begins to confound the languages of men and scatter the people. Let us not be concerned when the finances run low and men are forced to lay aside their plans to finish the city and the tower. God wants us to know that "the Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands". The heart of man is the only dwelling place that God has ever desired for His habitation. Don't be surprised when the Lord of Glory walks in the midst of His Church today and overthrows the tables of the money-changers. Don't try to re-arrange the tables just because you have bought and paid for one of them. And don't blame it on the Devil either! It is God that is saying: "Make not my Father's house a house of merchandise".
It is God saying, "You have sat long enough in your comfortable pews, trying to sing the songs of the LORD in a strange land - I would turn your captivity - I would bring you out of Babylon - I would lead you back to Zion, the city of the living God..." Can we not hear the call to repentance in this awesome hour?
"I know that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of My mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art -
"I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent" (Rev. 3:15-19).
And so our Lord stands outside the door, and still knocking, and asking for admittance:
"Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me" (Rev. 3:20).
A Staff, a Pair of Sandals, and a Coat
This was God's provision for the first preachers of the gospel of the Kingdom that Jesus sent forth:
"And (He) commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse: but be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats" (Mark 6:8, 9).
I know we live in a different time. But I know also that, nice as everything seems to be in this jet age, the age of satellites and dishes - we have become completely burdened down in a system that requires an awful lot of entanglement for a pilgrim people. Let us not think for one moment that the Kingdom of God is in any way dependent upon the modern resources of man, and all their electronic gadgetry. We use what God provides. But when all the machinery of our modern way of life has been swept away, the propagation of the Gospel of Christ will not suffer because of it.
Our real shoes, are not the sandals we wear, but the shoes "of the preparation of the gospel of peace".
The staff in our hand is all that we really need. Our real scepter is that which comes from Him who is King of kings, and Lord of lords.
Our real coat consists of the garments of His righteousness, the broidered coat of priestly ministry, with an ephod about our waist, and a mitre of holiness upon our head.
Any provision we need along our pilgrim way - God will be faithful to provide. Our real provision is in the fact that He sends us. For if He sends He is responsible for our welfare. We simply go as "pilgrims", as ambassadors with a message from Heaven, drop the seed into the hearts of men, and trust God to water and cultivate and care for the growing plant, and bring forth fruit for His glory.
The Church of Christ is self-propagating
Man's way is to build temples and barns to store the seed. But God's way is to scatter it. The heathen raged! They said we will cut away the cords of Zion's King - we will scatter the people far and wide! But they fulfilled God's purposes in doing it. Little did they realize that in their frantic efforts to eradicate the Church they were actually planting the seeds of the Kingdom of God in all parts of the land. They did not know that here was a self-propagating, reproductive people that would reproduce their kind in the good soil of a famishing, hungry world. They did not know that they were dealing with kings, whose scepter was only a staff, but who moved in the authority of the King of the Universe. The sandals they wore were the shoes of "the preparation of the gospel of peace". And their coat was the garment of truth, in which they lived, and by which they spoke a word that was "sharper than any two-edged sword".
Now the purpose of true ministry is to so feed the sheep of God's pasture that they will become strong, vital, healthy, and reproductive. We have all kinds of sheep-factories about us. And they are using all kinds of gimmicks, rock music, entertainment, dance troupes pantomime - you name it - to make the Church productive; when in fact it is making her sterile. But God in this hour is going to raise up "shepherds after His own heart" who will minister life to the sheep, so they will be able to bring forth after their kind:
"(They) come up from the washing; Whereof every one bear twins, And none is barren among them" (Song 4:2).
What do you suppose would happen if every one of God's sheep were to bear twins? Twins that are also vital, strong, healthy, and reproductive?
Let's start with just a small flock, a very small flock. Let's start with one vital Christian in each town or city in the world ... just one (I believe there are at least 150,000 villages, towns and cities in the world). So we have just 150,000 real Christians in the earth.
Now let's give every one of these vital Christians a whole day to bring another to the Lord. So now there are 2 in each of these villages: both strong, vital, healthy sheep. The next day the number of the previous day doubles to 4 - and the next day it doubles to 8 - and so forth. Should that seem too difficult? How long then do you suppose it would take to fill the whole world with strong, vital, healthy Christians?
Just about two weeks! That's all! In slightly over two weeks the whole world has been saturated with the gospel of the Kingdom! And all this by word of mouth, from one neighbour to another, without the use of any other means of communication.
One day, of course, might be crowding it a little. Let's make it a week for each one to reproduce, and then doubling again the next week - and the next - for 15 weeks - and the work is accomplished in about four months. Or give them a month, and the work is accomplished in just over a year. Every sheep of God's pasture is responsible for bringing one more into the life of Christ in each of these periods - and the whole world is filled with real Christians in 15 days - or 15 weeks - or 15 months - as the case may be! We are talking about a vital Church - about true disciples of Christ, living and walking in the principles of the Kingdom of Heaven.
I am not suggesting that this may be God's plan. I am simply using it as an illustration of God's way.
150,000 x2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2 = 4,915,200,000 ...Approximately Five Billion!
"And the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2:47).
"And the number of the disciples was multiplied" (Acts 6:1).
"And the word of God increased: and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly" (Acts 6:7).
"But the word of God grew and multiplied" (Acts 12:24).
"And at that time there was a great persecution... they were all scattered abroad, except the apostles.. they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word" (Acts 8:1, 4). The apostles remained in Jerusalem, and the people that were scattered sowed the seeds of the Kingdom throughout the land. God's Church has been given inherent life from God to reproduce herself in the earth.
All this may sound very unrealistic for today; and it is all because a very unreal Church refuses to acknowledge her sterile condition, choosing rather to carry on with her fruitless programs, instead of calling a halt to the whole thing and urging her members to cry unto God for reality. When are we going to realize that we are the Church, and that the building has nothing to do with it. "O yes," we are assured, "Everybody knows that". But if they do, why are they still building gorgeous temples to the glory of God on the plains of Shinar? And giving them such reverence and honor? And why can't God's people walk away from it all when the glory of God has departed? Simply because: "This is my Church - I was raised here - I helped pay for it".
The gatherings of the early Church were marked by their simplicity. "And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers" (Acts 2:42). Their homes became their meeting places, and this became their way of gathering together when churches began to spring up throughout the Empire. If they had no homes, they would meet wherever they could. They were the Church. They needed fellowship, and they recognized that if there were "two" of them they could have fellowship. They had access to the temple in Jerusalem for a season; but when persecution arose, these facilities were no longer available. In Jerusalem they may have met in hundreds of homes; and they were one because they walked in truth, and the Lord Jesus was present in their midst. For He promised that where "two or three" were gathered together in His name, He would be there in their midst (Matt. 18:20). He was not encouraging the little handful that would gather on a Wednesday night. He was talking about the power of the Kingdom that binds the forces of evil, and looses the forces of heaven, when just two people are in harmony in the Spirit, and the Lord Jesus is Lord in their midst - a handful meeting in this home - another handful over there - what more could the Lord desire? What if we had two hundred such homes, three hundred, four hundred - filled with people who have come together for fellowship, with the Lord Jesus in their midst in the fulness of His presence?
We say these things to encourage God's people in this day when man's programs are crumbling. We are not saying we cannot rent or build a structure of some kind if God gives clear direction in the matter. We are simply saying that all this is totally incidental. We use what God may provide according to His will, but we must be prepared to drop it all at a moment's notice. He wants us to be pilgrim in character, self-propagating and reproductive by nature - and to be assured that buildings and temples have nothing to do with the gospel of the Kingdom of God.
God is going to bring forth this kind of a people in the earth; and He can do it very quickly. Even so, come Lord Jesus! But it may take the fires of trial and persecution to bring it about. I recall the feeling of despair that swept over the Church here in the West when the doors were closed to missionary work in China. Can we not believe that King Jesus has "the key of David" and that He "openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth" (Rev. 3:7). And so when the doors to China were closed God began a great work of purification and refining; and through much trial and suffering there has come forth in that great land a strong, healthy, self-propagating Church. In recent years a little help has come from the outside; but the Church in China is not dependent upon any of this. They know this could change anytime. And they have proved God to be faithful in the past to raise up in their own midst whatever ministry they needed. They have comparatively few Bibles, and not much by way of Christian literature. They meet wherever they can - in the fields, among the trees, on the streets - but generally in their homes. All this is quite incidental because they recognize that they are the Church - and it grows, and grows, and grows, because Christ Jesus is in their midst as Lord and King.
Chapter 3 – Exhaustless oil ... but none to spare
“And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always" (Ex. 27:20).
"Then shall the Kingdom of Heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them. But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps" (Matt. 25:13).
Is This for Us?
I am not going to get into the mechanics of the parable. Are these virgins part of the brides-maids, or part of the bride? - and so forth. It is enough that Jesus said it was for us. "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh" (Matt. 25:14).
God forbid that our concept of walking with God should degenerate into a system of theology where we learn how to pigeon-hole truth that seems too devastating for our hearts to bear. Theology has a tendency to take the teeth out of truth, under the false notion that if it hurts, it can't be Christ-like. Truth is devastating to the natural man. And until we come to that place of total devastation as far as the natural man is concerned, we are not going to come into the beauty of true spiritual life.
We need to pay heed to this parable if we are truly desirous of being prepared with oil for the day of darkness that lies ahead. There is coming a day of test and of trial for God's people - in fact we might say it is at the door - a day in which God is going to expose the hearts, and reveal the nakedness and poverty of this Laodicean Church that professes to be rich and filled with oil, and to have need of nothing. It is a day when our confidence in experiences, in blessings, in gifts, in ministries, in charismatic structures, in charismatic methodology - is going to fail. The people of God generally find it easy enough these days to come up with solutions. They have access to a vast library of success books, and seminars, and workshops, that promise personal spiritual enlargement, as well as the enhancement of Church life and Church growth. The criterion seems to be: Does it work? If it works, and at least seems to perform the desires of our hearts - that seems to be all that matters. Whether or not it is God's Way, and will bring forth God's objective, doesn't seem to matter.
The Hour of Trial
The Lord has warned us that there is coming an hour of trial upon all the world "to try them that dwell upon the earth" (Rev. 3:10). There will be overcomers in that hour, and God has shown us the way to overcome in the day of famine, in the day of darkness and gloominess, in the day when He sends His fire into the earth. It is going to be a day when "the labour of the olive shall fail" - a day when there shall be "no fruit on the vine". And it is going to be a day of the unveiling of one's spiritual worth, or of his bankruptcy. O that God might help us to declare bankruptcy now, as He reveals to us the pile of debts that we have no way of paying. For if we declare bankruptcy now, we will be able to "buy gold tried in the fire" and "white raiment" to clothe ourselves, and "eyesalve to anoint our eyes" that we might see.
The wise and the foolish were all virgins. They all had lamps - they all took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. If they were the "brides-maids" you can be sure that the bride would require even greater diligence for her preparation, than would the brides-maids themselves. All their lamps were burning with oil; for at the midnight hour they did not arise and light their lamps - they rose up and "trimmed" them. They came to this place of waiting, and of sleeping, with lamps that were burning; but as they slept their lamps grew dim. The light from the lamps of the foolish appeared to be equally illuminating as the light from the lamps of the wise. But there was one difference, and this was only revealed in the midnight hour. The wise had brought along with them a supply of oil "in their vessels" - while the foolish were trusting that the lamp they had would keep burning, without any extra supply.
Is Oil in the Lamps Sufficient?
Are you trusting in the lamp you have, the structure you are sheltered under, the New Testament Church order you have found refuge in? Or is your confidence in a personal, abiding union with Christ Himself? Are you trusting in the fact that you have received of His Spirit, and have gifts of the Spirit, and have certain manifestations of blessing and power in your life? Or are you pursuing a life of total abiding union with the Lord?
The oil in your lamp will soon burn out. There is no blessing, no experience, no gift, no ministry, no Church structure, that will keep your lamp burning in the hour of trial. Having the right arrangement, the proper New Testament pattern, the right kind of structure or covering, the right order - these will not suffice. Having His gifts, His blessings, His ministries - these in themselves will not do. They have their purpose, a very needful purpose, and that is to bring us into this relationship we are talking about - to cause us to "grow up into Christ" - even unto "the fulness of God" (Eph. 3:18, 19; 4:13). But if this is not the vision and the hope, and if this is not the objective of our many gatherings together in His Name - sooner or later the lamp will run dry, and the light will grow dim and go out.
There is only one way that we can maintain the oil that will maintain the light that will maintain the vision of His appearing, and prepare us for that appearing - and that is by coming into union with Him who is the Source. It is not some new doctrine that you can take or leave. It is God's provision for His people in the hour of famine and of darkness. You must begin to walk in identification and union with Christ, in His Cross as well as in His life. Only in Him is there an unfailing supply. It is not something you automatically have when you receive of His Spirit and partake of His gifts and blessings. Rather these gifts and blessings are intended to help us along the Way as we seek to follow on to appropriate the death of the Cross and the resurrection life that these enabling gifts and ministries would lead us into.
There is a subtle teaching emanating from the Church in this hour that goes something like this: "Forget those far-out things - get back to basics, get the gifts of the Spirit and start working for God". The subtlety of it all lies in the fact that God has given precious gifts of His Spirit as the means and not as the end - Gifts of power to help and encourage and strengthen us in our many difficulties; and words of wisdom and knowledge and faith to lead us into abiding fulness with Him. But as man has always been prone to do, we accept the part for the whole, the means for the ultimate end. We accept the scaffolding for the building. We glory in the beautiful flowers of the tree, and care less if there be any apples. We admire the living green of the wheat fields and do not see the value of the ripening grain, and the threshing, and the blowing away of the chaff.
Union with the Source
We have the answer to our need in the vision that God gave to Zechariah, at the time of the building of the second temple:
"And (He) said unto me, What seest thou? and I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof: And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof” (Zech. 4:2, 3).
Not just a candlestick, but a candlestick that was in union with an exhaustless supply of oil - oil from the olive-trees - oil from the fountain-head and source. God showed Zechariah that the "olive trees" were the sons of oil, the anointed ones. It was Christ - but it was Christ in union with His many brethren. They were the sons of oil, sons of the anointing - and through them there was an exhaustless supply of oil for the lamp of God.
God has endowed His true servants with spiritual gifts and ministries; but it does not stop there. They are a people who, because of His enabling power, have experienced His Way, and are walking in His Way, and are pointing others to His Way. There is an exhaustless supply of oil - but you must buy it for yourself. You cannot borrow it from your leader, from your pastor, from your teachers. And when you find it (or rather Him), you cannot sell it to any one else. You cannot delegate it to others. You cannot give it away, much as you would like to share it with others. One must walk with Him and learn His ways - hearing His voice and doing His will. Association with God's anointed ones is not sufficient. As they minister out from the heart of God they will seek to bring you into union with Christ for they know that you will not be prepared to go forth in this midnight hour to meet the Bridegroom, except as you come into vital union with Him who is the Source. You have to buy this oil for yourself, if you are going to have it; and you are going to have to buy it now. At the midnight hour, which is very close at hand, you will not have the opportunity to buy it.
What is the Price?
What is the price? That would be difficult for me to say explicitly. But the Lord will show you, if you truly want to know and pay the price. The price-tag is not according to the value of the oil, for this unfailing supply is really without money and without price. But there is a price-tag, and you will have to discover that for yourself. It could be some paltry earthly thing that has blinded your eyes to the true riches. But it could also be some degree of spiritual attainment that you are loathe to relinquish in order to have His fulness. It could even be a ministry, great or small - full of truth, full of oil, full of blessing - but which will go out in the darkness of the night if you do not surrender it all to Him for the prize of the high calling of knowing Him. The price-tag merely reveals the smallness of your own heart, and the struggle one has to go through in order that he might receive the riches of His grace.
It could be Anything - but it has to be Everything. For it is only in forsaking all that we have that we might receive all of Him. These blessings and gifts and enablements are only manifestations of Him. They are good, but they are only intended to lead us unto Him, unto His fulness, unto the Fountain-head and Source. If they fail to do this, they will soon wither and die.
"Search us, O Lord, and know us. Try us and know our thoughts. Continue to send forth your Word to our hearts that your people might hastily sell all they have and buy this precious, exhaustless supply of oil. For truly the midnight hour is nigh at hand; and very shortly we must go forth to meet the Bridegroom under the illumination and anointing and guidance of Your Spirit".
When Jesus came the first time it was those who had an abundance of scriptural knowledge of His coming who missed Him - whereas the humble and the lowly whose hearts were prepared saw Him. Can we not learn from what happened at His first coming, as we anticipate His second coming?
It is evident that there are going to be some very dramatic, sudden outward manifestations at His second coming. But it is also evident that there will be aspects of His appearing that only those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, will recognize. Paul saw the Lord in such a brightness of His glory that it blinded his eyes. But his companions who travelled with him saw nothing, and only heard meaningless sounds. And yet it all happened at the same moment, and in the same place. I know this was not at Christ's first coming. Neither was it at His second coming. But Paul saw Him! It was an appearing of the Lord that was just as real as His appearing to Peter and James and John and the other disciples (1 Cor 15:5-8). The five virgins saw Him, and walked into His presence - while the foolish virgins saw Him not. He comes as "a thief in the night" - to those who are not walking in the light - but in the brightness of His glory to those who are (1 Thess. 5:2, 4).
These things may be very disturbing to the theological mind, because theology must be able to so arrange the scriptures that they can precisely set forth the manner of the coming of the Lord. But God does not reveal Himself in this way. In all of the parables, in all of the exhortations in the epistles, there is both encouragement and warning to God's people that He may appear any moment, and that those who see Him when He appears are those who are looking for Him, waiting for Him, and expecting Him (see Matt. 24:44; 25:10; 1 Thess. 1:10; Tit. 2:13; Heb 9:28; 1 Jn. 3:2, 3).
But it does not mean that everything pertaining to the second coming must take place in that single moment of time. It took 33 years for the prophecies that related to His first coming to be fulfilled; and we have no way of knowing how many years it may take for all aspects of His second coming to be fully revealed. But let us remember that those who earnestly looked for Him, and whose hearts were prepared, saw Him early in the day of His appearing, simply because they were walking with God, and had eyes to see what the world could not see. We cannot miss Him if we are constantly looking for Him. And God forbid that any of us should be found in the company of those who are going about lecturing from beautiful charts of the second coming, while the Bride of Christ is feasting with her Lord at "the marriage supper of the Lamb".
Chapter 4 – The consecration of the priest
“Take Aaron and his sons with him, and the garments, and the anointing oil, and a bullock for the sin offering, and two rams, and a basket of unleavened bread" (Lev. 8:2).
Aaron does not just walk boldly into the sanctuary boasting: "I was born a priest - I have a right to be here". He was born to be a priest - that is true. And likewise we are born into the family of God to be a "royal priesthood", and to offer up "spiritual sacrifices" unto God.
But if we are born to be priests, we are also born to be consecrated unto the Lord, born to know sacrifice, born to know cleansing, born to be separated wholly unto God, born to be His holy Temple in the earth. Let us consider some of the things that had to be done for the consecration of Aaron and his sons unto priestly ministry.
They were Washed with Water
They were totally stripped of their clothes, and washed with pure water at the laver (Lev. 8:6). We are cleansed by the blood of Christ, that is true. But His blood was shed almost 2,000 years ago; and it is the living Word of God that now contains the ingredients of that precious blood. Jesus said, "Now ye are clean through the word that I have spoken unto you" (Jn. 15:3). Just as for the cleansing of the leper there was a vessel that contained living water that was mingled with the blood of an atoning bird - so the living word that is brought to us by the Spirit contains and ministers to us the efficacy of the blood of Christ (see Lev. 14:5-7).
"This is He that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth" (1 Jn. 5:6). What kind of water? The word, but the living word - the word that He was, the word that He gave them. The word about the blood of the New Covenant. The word about following Him, about taking up their Cross, about hating their lives and losing themselves for His sake, about walking in total self-denial, about abiding in union with the Vine.
They were Clothed with New Garments
"And he put upon him the coat, and girded him with the girdle, and clothed him with the robe, and put the ephod upon him, and he girded him with the curious girdle of the ephod, and bound it unto him therewith" (Lev. 8:7).
Stripped of the old garments, washed at the laver, and then clothed upon with garments that were tailor-made "for glory and for beauty" (Ex. 28:2). They were not just washed up and clothed again with their old garments. Not even with the old garments fresh from the dry-cleaners. It must be a new garment, a priestly garment. They are garments of His own making, "for glory and for beauty" - garments that will show forth the glory of the Lord, and the beauty of His holiness. These garments were intricately made and fashioned according to the craftsmanship of men who had the wisdom of God. Our new clothing is by God's workings and God's dealings. There was "a breastplate, and an ephod, and a robe, and a broidered coat, a mitre, and a girdle" (Ex. 28:4). Then on the two shoulders of the vest-like garment called the "ephod" there were placed "two stones" in which were engraved the names of the children of Israel (Ex. 28:11). So when Aaron stood before the Lord, he was actually bearing the names of the children of Israel "before the LORD upon his two shoulders" (vs. 12).
The Breastplate of Judgment
Now to the ephod there was fastened what was called "the breastplate of judgment" - also made of "cunning work", and it was fastened to the ephod with chains of gold, as a sort of apron. On this breastplate were set four rows of precious stones, three in each row, making twelve stones, each stone representing one of the twelve tribes of Israel. It was called the breastplate of judgment because as Aaron stood before the LORD he was bearing "the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before the LORD" (Ex. 28:30). On his shoulders he bore their names in the place of power and strength. But on his heart he would also bear their names in the place of love and mercy. It was called the breastplate of judgment, because all that our High Priest does in the heavens in the administration of His priesthood, He does it in righteousness and in justice, as well as in love and mercy. We know that if and when God condemns, He does so because He is a just and holy God. But do we realize that when He justifies us, He also does it because He is just and holy? Christ died for us because He loved us. But justification is a legal term; God justifies us as a righteous Judge. Aaron stood before the mercy seat with the breastplate of judgment tied to the ephod. Let us consider the mercy seat in its New Testament setting.
"Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation (or 'mercy seat') through faith in his blood" (Rom. 3:24, 25). The word "propitiation" is translated "mercy seat" in Heb. 9:5; and this refers to the lid of the ark of the covenant, before which the high priest would stand on the day of atonement when he went into the holy of holies. Here he would sprinkle the atoning blood on behalf of the children of Israel.
Now Christ our Mercy Seat declares God to be just in remitting our sins: "To declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God" (Rom. 3:25). God forgave and remitted the sins of His people in a past day, because of the sacrifices which they brought. But how could God be seen as a just God, by accepting the blood of an animal for man's sin against his Creator? Paul reminds us that it was because of God's forbearance that He was able to remit sins, for He anticipated the day of the Cross, when He would be fully vindicated and declared to be righteous in accepting the sacrifices of bulls and goats which could never take away sins.
But the apostle goes still further: "To declare, I say, at this time His righteousness; that He might be just, and the justifier, of him which believeth in Jesus" (Rom. 3:26). Can we grasp the significance of this? We are saved because of the love and mercy of God, this is true. But God wants us to know that by virtue of the Cross we are justified, or declared to be righteous, by a righteous decree of the Judge of Heaven. No earthly judge could do such a thing. He might pardon a criminal, if that were within his jurisdiction to do so. But if he did so, how could he show himself to be righteous in doing it? But so marvelous, so unsearchable are the judgments of God, so great and effectual was the work of the Cross, that when God the Judge declares the believing sinner to be righteous, by this very declaration He is revealing Himself to be totally just and righteous. And so the Psalmist says, "Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other" (Ps. 85:10).
Where did this happen? At the mercy seat! And that is why on either end of the mercy seat in the Old Testament there were figures of the cherubim, made of solid gold - facing each other, but looking down upon the sprinkled blood of the sacrifice. Mercy and truth had come together. The cherubim which once were placed at the gate of Eden to bar man from the presence of the holy God against whom he had sinned - are now at the mercy seat to welcome sinful man back into God's presence.
This was the truth that set the world aflame during the Reformation, when God by His Spirit began to bring to light the truth of “justification" that had become almost completely obscured from the eyes of men, and encumbered with religious ritual and bondage. "The just shall live by faith" was the word that God made alive to Martin Luther. Only God by His Holy Spirit can make this to be a living revelation in the hearts and minds of men. And we need this revelation if we are going to walk in the righteousness of Christ. We need to know that those garments of His righteousness are freely ours, if we are going to have faith to put them on and wear them.
The Accuser of the Brethren
Now Christ is our great High Priest who bears our names before the throne of judgment in the heavens, commending us to God, and to His holy presence. But there is one who would persist in accusing us before God, if and when he has the opportunity.
"And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the LORD said unto Satan, the LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel" (Zech. 3:1-3).
We can be sure that when the people of God set about the task of restoring the priesthood they would have engaged the best tailors in Israel to make those priestly garments. We can be sure they would have been pure and clean. But Zechariah was a prophet, and God was showing him the high priest, as He saw him. God saw "filthy garments" - and this gave opportunity for Satan to accuse him before God.
But one word from God was sufficient to silence the Accuser: "The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan, is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?" One word of rebuke from our Intercessor in the heavens is all that is required to "purge our conscience from dead works to serve the living God". "Who is he that condemneth: It is Christ that died, yea, rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us" (Rom. 8:34).
We glory in the fact that God has justified us freely by His grace. But God does not hand us holy garments to look upon and admire.
"And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee and I will clothe thee with change of raiment" (Zech. 3:4).
Put Off - and Put On
It is a change of raiment, beloved! Not the old ones laundered and put on again. It is not a refinement of your old nature. It is not your eloquence refined and given to God. Not your musical talents refined and given to God. Not your executive abilities, your business and professional talents, refined and given to God. It is not the old garments at all, but new ones, for glory and for beauty.
"But now ye also put off all these...put off the old man with his deeds; ...And put on the new man which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him" (Col. 3:8-10).
Yes, we have our own distinct personalities from birth. And God makes us the way we are, according to the intricate workings of His grace and wisdom. But let us not just make excuses: "Well, that's just the way I am". This might be true. But is it the way God wants us to be?
God makes us the way we are that we might be recreated into what He wants us to be.
He makes the flower, that it might become the fruit.
He makes the worm, that it might become the butterfly.
He wants to change us. He does not remove from us our distinct personality. But He wants to bring about something brand new. He wants to bring about a revolution in our personalities so that what God sees, and what we see, and what the world about us sees - is a New Creation. As the "elect of God" He wants to clothe us with "mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering, forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, ...even as Christ forgave you" (Col. 3:12, 13).
O how absolutely essential it is that we who profess to function in priestly ministry come to that place of total commitment to the Lordship of the Spirit of God in our lives. Because only the Spirit of God can enable us to minister righteousness to His people. We can't remove the "filthy garments" just by saying, "Take them off". Only the "ministration of the Spirit" can do that (2 Cor. 3:6). No wonder there is so much death in our midst. The form may be there: the praise, the worship, the preaching, the teaching - but if the Spirit of God is not reaching into the heart of God and taking the things of Christ and "showing" them to us - with all of our rightness of truth and doctrine there is no vital ministration of the Spirit of Christ in our midst.
A Holy Mitre and a Crown of Gold
"And he put the mitre upon his head; also upon the mitre, even upon his forefront, did he put the golden plate, the holy crown" (Lev. 8:9).
Crowned with a golden plate, and on the plate were engraved the words, "Holiness to the LORD".
"And it shall be upon Aaron's forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things" (Ex. 28:38).
Now Aaron was not boasting about how holy a man of God he was. Rather he was saying, "I am wholly consecrated unto the service of God - my mind, my thoughts, my whole way of life is devoted to the holy ways of God. And it is not for my sake that I do it, but for His sake, and for the sake of God's people Israel. It is their iniquity that I bear, that they might know God's salvation". It was a confession that because of his high calling he was totally devoted to God, to His purposes, and to the ministry of the sanctuary.
Jesus said, "For their sakes I sanctify Myself (I devote Myself totally unto God) that they also might be sanctified through the truth" (Jn. 17:19).
Anointed with Holy Oil
"And he poured of the anointing oil upon Aaron's head, and anointed him" (Lev. 8:12).
When David beheld the people of God assembled together in worship he was inspired to say, "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" But let us never forget the one and only basis of unity in the body of Christ - it is because of the anointing. "It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments" (Ps. 133:1, 2).
O that God's priests might know that we are partakers of "the same anointing" with which our High Priest is anointed! And that we only partake of the same anointing when we are clothed upon with His holy garments! That God does not anoint our fleshly natures, nor our fleshly words, but only the garments of Christ Himself! And that we only partake of this anointing as the drippings of the oil flow down upon us from the beard of the Ancient of Days in the heavens!
"Thou hast anointed Him with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows" (Heb. 1:9).
The Ram of Consecration
There were two rams that were offered, the one as a burnt offering, and the other as "the ram of consecration" (Lev. 8:18, 22).
The burnt offering is primarily one of the will; for every service to God must proceed from a commitment to do His will and not our own. "He shall offer it of his own voluntary will..." (Lev. 1:3).
It is the offering of Christ that supersedes and replaces all other offerings:
"Sacrifice and offering Thou didst not desire;
The offering of "the ram of consecration" was of a higher order than the general burnt offerings. In this offering Aaron and his sons were consecrated by blood and then by oil:
"Upon the tip of Aaron's right ear, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot" (Lev. 8:23, 30).
Blood on the ear, that they might hear with ears that had been cleansed and purged, and quickened to know His voice. Blood on the thumb, that the works of their hands might be the workings of Christ, and not their own. Blood on the toe, that they might walk in a way that is pure and holy.
And then the garments themselves were sprinkled with blood and oil, that they might be wholly sanctified unto the ministry of the priesthood.
So once again we have the three witnesses: Washed in pure water, that they might be clothed upon with garments of glory and of beauty. Consecrated by blood and anointed with holy oil. There was no cleansing in the laver itself - it is not by the letter of the word - but by the living word, by water mingled with blood. And "it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth" (1 Jn. 5:6).
We can do a lot of talking, a lot of preaching, a lot of teaching from the word. And we can have all the facts about redemption and about the blood. But may God shut our mouths and may our witness perish from the earth if the Spirit of God is not bearing witness to what we are saying and what we are doing. For He alone is Truth. He alone is the faithful and true Witness in the earth, as Christ is in the heavens.
Chapter 5 – Ingredients of the holy oil
We spoke about the oil of the candlestick that gave light in the sanctuary. But now we want to talk about the ingredients of the anointing oil that was used for the anointing of the priesthood and the tabernacle.
"Take thou also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh... of sweet cinnamon... of sweet calamus.. of cassia... of oil olive... and thou shalt make it an oil of holy ointment" (Ex. 30:23-25).
(1) Pure Myrrh (also translated as "liquid myrrh"). Myrrh was a fragrant resin that would ooze from the myrrh shrub. But it was "bitter", and that is what the word 'myrrh' actually means. Myrrh, you will recall, was one of the gifts that the wise men brought to Jesus at His birth; for He was to be a "Man of Sorrows" in His life and in His death. His true joy would spring forth from His obedience to the heavenly Father, and in His abiding relationship with Him. He gloried not in His ministry, in His works, in His accomplishments - but gave all glory to the Father who was the One who performed all His mighty works through Him.
Have we not all wondered at times how men who have seemingly carried a lot of anointing have so often lacked the grace and beauty of the Spirit in their lives? It is because they have refused to allow the myrrh to be mingled with the oil in the apothecaries of God. Because Jesus suffered, it is taught that we do not have to suffer. The way of discipleship has been perverted to mean coming under subjection to some minister or some kind of church system. Men would simplify the pathway of discipleship by eliminating the myrrh. Just get under our 'covering'. Just get involved with our 'church order'. Just recognize 'our prophet' or 'our apostle', if you want to be a true disciple. But in spite of all the assurances that they might give us, the path of discipleship is just as demanding today as it was when Jesus warned His disciples:
"Whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be my disciple..."
"Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:27, 33).
(2) Sweet Cinnamon. Cinnamon was from the bark of the cinnamon shrub, and had a certain fragrant sweetness. The root meaning of the word is "to erect" or "to stand upright". The holy oil if truly compounded by the apothecary will cause the anointed people of God to stand erect, to walk in truth. It is said of the anointed Son that He "loved righteousness and hated iniquity". We glory in justification - in the imputed righteousness of Christ which we receive by faith. But if we truly receive this righteousness and walk in it we are going to hate iniquity. These two things are mutually exclusive. Truth and deception cannot co-exist. Righteousness and iniquity cannot co-exist. The one will overshadow the other, and eventually exclude it.
It is not too difficult to discern an awful lot of dead flies in the ointment today. "Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour" (Ecc. 10:1).
(3) Sweet Calamus. The word "calamus" has been variously translated as "reed" or "cane", and once as "branch" (for the branches in the candlestick) (see Isa. 42:3; 43:24; Ex. 25:33). And so like John the Baptist (who appeared to be but a "reed shaken in the wind" the sweet calamus is a rod of strength, a channel, a branch through which the oil can flow. It is also the same word that is used for the "stalk" on which the ears of corn develop and mature (see Gen. 41:5). A reedy stalk, not seemingly of any particular value; but the life flows through it, and causes the fruit to grow and mature. There is nothing pretentious about it. It "seeketh not its own". It merely wants to be a channel for the oil, the stalk through which the life can flow to produce the fruit of the Spirit and to bring forth the life of Christ in others. Paul carried with him a "treasure" in an "earthen vessel". The reason was "that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us" (2 Cor. 4:7). A stick in the hand of Moses as he tended the sheep in Midian becomes the "rod of God" when he stands before Pharaoh. The shepherd's staff becomes a scepter of power and authority. A "reed shaken in the wind" strikes fear into the heart of a wicked, powerful Herod. A man manacled with fetters causes another governor to "tremble". At His trial the soldiers entwine the briars into a crown of thorns and place it on the head of Jesus, and they put a flimsy reed in His hand, and hail Him "King of the Jews" in mockery. But in the wisdom of God and in the wisdom of the Cross that "reed" becomes His royal scepter of dominion over all creation. The crown He wore becomes the crown of the anointed King who reigns eternally on Zion's Hill, King of kings and Lord of lords.
How is it then that the lesser kings and the lesser lords of the Kingdom of Heaven are boasting about scepters of iron rods and crowns of gold? They seem to think that Jesus became a Lamb so they could become lions. They seem to feel that Jesus took the form of a "slave" so they could take the form of a king.
(4) Cassia. The cassia was also the bark of a shrub; and its root meaning is 'shriveled'. It is from the same root as the word "bowed down", when it refers to Abraham's servant bowing his head and worshipping the LORD in humbleness of heart (Gen. 24:26). It is also the word used for "stoop" where David humbled himself in reverence before Saul (1 Sam. 24:8).
The flesh can produce a legalistic, mock humility. But we are talking about true reverential fear and worship that is inherent in the anointing oil from God's apothecaries. The giddy laughter and joy in many of our places of 'worship' has nothing to do with the holy ointment. Happiness, joy, and entertainment has almost crowded the cassia out of the house of God. All this professional musical entertainment we have today has absolutely nothing to do with the true anointing. True worship is primarily a state of being, and not an act that you perform in times of religious service. Jesus talks about "true worshippers", and not merely about the act of worship. Only as you become a worshipper can you truly "worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth" (Jn. 4:23). Let us seek to minister Christ, that men might become worshippers, rather than trying to stimulate "worship" in a religious service.
Do you know that the first mention of the word for "worship" in the Bible concerns the offering up of Isaac on the altar of Moriah? True worship is simply that: giving your all to God in total surrender. In praise you give Him glory and honor and thanksgiving; but in worship there is a "bowing down" before Him in total surrender to His Lordship. And so, after extolling the Lord in song and praise and thanksgiving, the psalmist goes further and cries out for worship …
"O come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker" (Ps. 95:6).
True worship leads to total commitment to His will. True worship softens the heart so we may hear His voice, and conditions us to walk in step with God. God, we pray, mingle us with the cassia of Your gracious dealings, that we might know the fulness of Your anointing oil.
(5) Oil Olive. Olive oil is consistently used in the scriptures as a type of the Holy Spirit. But the anointing oil is mingled with all these ingredients we have mentioned, to more clearly portray the attributes of the Spirit of God, whose presence in our lives will give forth the fragrance of Christ. He comes into our lives to make the Lord Jesus real to us, and to shine forth from our lives in the beauty of holiness.
The Art of the Apothecary
Now do we understand why men can be anointed of God, and still lack the grace, the holiness, the beauty of Christ? It is because they have not known the processings of God in His divine apothecaries. How we have tried to take the ingredients of His grace and mingle them together in our lives, that the virtues of His own character and excellence might flow forth! And how hopelessly we have failed!
Now we understand why. We haven't been willing to undergo the mingling together of the virtues of Christ according to the "art of the apothecary". Only God knows the secret of this wonderful "art". But He shares His secrets here and there as we are willing to submit to His ways. And as we do we discover that the anointing is more fragrant, and more pleasing in the eyes of God, and more edifying in the lives of His people. The bitterness of the myrrh removes the bitterness of past circumstances and disappointments, and the many wounds that have been inflicted upon us in the battles of life. There is a fragrance and a sweetness from our lives that we could not have known except as we find ourselves ground and pulverized in the mortars of God's apothecary. We discover that the bruised reed of our calamus is never really broken; that the smoking flax is not quenched. Rather, God has led us this way to prepare us for a richer anointing, a more pure anointing, a holy oil that would crown our heads with priestly virtue and priestly ministry in the house of God.
And so we continue to pray: "Lord, compound us together in your Divine apothecary. Add all the graces and virtues of your Spirit to our lives, and mingle us together in your holy oil, according to your own art and wisdom, bitter though your ways seem to be - That mingled together with the sufferings of Christ and the fragrance of your own nature, we may discover the crown of priestly ministry. Give us not the power that the rulers of the Gentiles exercise, to lord it over others. But rather give us true spiritual power with man and with God - priestly power that can rule over the restless hearts of men, by a ministration of your grace and peace and truth and love".
The Restrictions of the Priesthood
There are many restrictions laid upon the priesthood, and the reason is clearly stated:
"For the crown of the anointing oil of his God is upon him" (Lev. 21:12). We are restricted because of the anointing oil. The anointing does not give us freedom to do as we see fit.
God cause us to know that the crown of oil is a crown that confines us to the sanctuary. "Neither shall he go out of the sanctuary" (Lev. 21:12). Perish the thought that because we have the anointing, the "liberty of the Spirit" gives us freedom to do our own thing, to magnify and enlarge our own ministry, to come and go, to speak, to minister as we see fit.
Nor does it mean that we become a member of the clergy, or confine ourselves to a cloister. This holy oil is for all of God's people. For this living sanctuary in the New Covenant is not some kind of religious system - nor a building that has been dedicated to the glory of God. God's people are His sanctuary; and God's holy presence is the place where we sit before Him, to inquire in His Temple. And it is here that we discover the revelation of His heart and mind by Urim and Thummim. It can be at your work or place of business, in the factory or on the farm, in the field or on the streets. God's holy priests are to remain in the sanctuary at all times, even as they walk in the midst of men.
Furthermore we must know that we do not minister as priests except as we stand before the mercy seat in heavenly places. We must become totally heavenly minded, wearing the holy mitre upon our head, and the crown of "holiness to the LORD" - if we are going to be of any earthly good here in the midst of men.
We are Not Part of the Harlot System
"A widow, or a divorced woman, or profane, or an harlot, these shall he not take: but he shall take a virgin of his own people" (Lev. 21:14). Paul said, "For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ" (2 Cor. 11:2). Anything - any religious system, any minister, any apostle, any prophet - that comes between you and Christ, God will not approve. True ministry is for this purpose: to ensure that the people to whom we minister are totally devoted to Christ, and not to us or to any religious system. Ministry is not to stand as a mediator between God's people and the Lord, or above them - but to be one with them in mutual relationship with Christ.
The Priesthood must be Without Blemish
"Whosoever he be of thy seed in their generations that hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God" (Lev. 21:17).
Who can qualify? Only Christ can qualify! And He bears the "iniquity" of a holy people upon His heart so that He might cleanse and perfect them, that they too might qualify in union with Him.
"A blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or anything superfluous, or a man that is broken-footed, or broken-handed, or crook-backed, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eyes, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken; no man that hath a blemish... shall come nigh" (Lev. 21:18-20).
What a high and holy standard! O how sick and deformed is the Church of Jesus Christ! But His body was broken and His blood was shed, that we might be healed. He was blinded with blood oozing from His brow, that we might see. He was made lame by nails in His feet, that we might walk in paths of truth and righteousness. His heel was bruised, that by His bruised heel He might bruise the Serpent's head and set us free. He was broken-footed and broken-handed with cruel spikes (though not a bone was broken), that we might walk uprightly, and use our hands for His glory.
"Surely He hath borne our griefs (our diseases, our sicknesses), and carried our sorrows (our anguish, our pain): yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted" (Isa. 53:4).
He suffered all of this that we who are acquainted with many diseases and many afflictions, both physical and spiritual, might be healed; that we His brethren, His sons, might minister with Him in the heavenly sanctuary, crowned with a golden plate of "Holiness unto the LORD", and a crown of anointing oil upon our brow.
Restrictions of the Holy Oil
We spoke a little about the restrictions of the priesthood. Now we want to speak about the restrictions of the anointing oil; for it was because of the holy oil that God has laid these prohibitions upon us.
(1) The Oil is Not for the Flesh
"Upon man's flesh shall it not be poured" (Ex. 30:32). We mentioned some things along this line when we talked about the consecration of the priest.
God will not pour out His holy oil upon carnality. God's priests must be stripped of their unclean garments, and washed in pure water at the laver. This cleansing vessel stood at the door of the holy place. Here in the sight of Moses and God alone, the priests were stripped of their clothing - unseen by the eyes of the nation that was camped outside the linen fence. God does not want His people to gaze upon the nakedness of God's erring ones. We need to remember this in this day and hour when God is exposing the hearts of men. But let us not shrink from exposing ourselves openly before our Mediator in the heavens. He desires only that He might cleanse us with pure water, because He wants us to enter into priestly service for Him. There is only one Mediator - and let us never forget that. And let us be assured that if we are sharing the problems of another in priestly ministry, we can only function before God by virtue of the anointing of the High Priest Himself. It is His garments of truth and meekness that we must wear. It is His words of comfort and forgiveness that we must speak. God's true priests will not pull back the hanging of the gate and expose his brother, like Ham of old; but like Shem and Japheth they will cover his nakedness, and receive the blessing of God on his life because of his priestly heart. For he knows that if he should rejoice in the downfall of a fellow-priest, he might well be the next to fall. He knows that God wants "merciful" priests, who can show compassion to the erring ones. He knows that he, too, is "compassed with infirmity" - and if he does not know it, he will have to discover it before he may qualify as a priest in the sanctuary of God.
"Upon man's flesh shall it not be poured". God's priests must be washed and cleansed and then clothed upon with priestly garments.
Garments of His righteousness. Garments for glory and for beauty. Garments of 'fine linen'. We are not to wear anything that causes "sweat" in the house of the LORD (see Ezek. 44:17, 18). O the sweat that some of God's priests work up as they seek to burn themselves out for God, and for their own achievements! God says, "I see garments woven from spider webs" and He declares: "Their webs shall not become garments, neither shall they cover themselves with their works" (Isa. 59:6). God is raising up a Zadok priesthood who shall minister in truth and righteousness; and their garments must be of pure linen, holy and clean. Zadok means "righteous". The name is the latter part of the word "Melchizedek" (Melchi-Zadok), which means king of righteousness.
We are talking about the restrictions of the holy oil. It is not for the flesh. It is for a priesthood that has been stripped of filthy garments, washed, and clothed upon with the garments of His own righteousness.
(2) There is to be No Substitute Anointing
"Neither shall ye make any other like it" (Ex. 30:32). We must not try to make something like the real thing.
How bold and blasphemous the Church has become in our day! It is one thing to lack the anointing, or unknowingly get into a false anointing. But today they are openly declaring that they are using the art of mimicry to enhance their worship in the house of God. There are professionals in mime and pantomime and puppetry and drama and magic and clowns going about showing the people of God how to beautify their worship! All in the name of charismatic worship!
How long, O Lord, before you come forth and cleanse your Temple, and "purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness"? (Mal. 3:3).
The falsehood and the make-believe and substitutes in the Church today are incredible. But along with all of that there has to be a veil of great deception on the hearts of the people - for many of them believe that this is true worship, and a true anointing.
Does the Church not realize that "antichrist" not only means "against Christ" - it also means "instead of Christ"? And Christ means the Anointed One. Can we not see that the "Instead-of-the-Anointing" is really "Antichrist"? God help your people to see You, and how You look upon the fake anointing in our midst; for only as we see You and understand the grief of Your heart, will we be able to turn from the waywardness of our ways!
God's people used to sing under the anointing, praise in the anointing, worship in the anointing, dance before the Lord in the anointing. But now they just do it because they have learned how to do it professionally.
Young people, seek God for the real thing! It may be much more difficult to find - but there is nothing comparable to God's holy anointing oil. You might make something like it and have more fun. And you may get a lot of applause from carnally minded Christians who know nothing about the anointing of God. But it is all "wood, hay, and stubble" - and will go up in smoke in the Day of Christ.
The Fragrance of the Real Thing
You do not really need a lot of Bible knowledge or discernment to see the falsehood in it all. The smell is enough.
Of Christ it is said, "Therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows. All Thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces" (Ps. 45:7, 8).
Don't try to make anything like it! It just doesn't smell right. Throw away your gadgetry, and worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. You do not need ballet slippers, and you do not need instructions in choreography - in order to dance before the Lord. You do not need the flowery words - but let your words flow from a heart that has touched the heart of God.
And if you lift your instrument or your voice to show forth His praises - let your song be the song of the Lord that glorifies Him, and draws the hearts of the people toward Him.
God needs no court-jesters to amuse His heavy heart, nor will they stand before Him in His priestly courts.
(3) It is Holy
"It is holy, and it shall be holy unto you" (Ex. 30:32). It is something that is consecrated wholly to the service of God, totally set apart for God and His purposes. It is His working, and not ours. Christ Jesus is "made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification (holiness), and redemption" (1 Cor. 1:30).
God wants us to give His priesthood the same Anointing that He gave to Christ, and to be as holy in our eyes, as it is in His. "The anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you... the same anointing" (1 Jn. 2:27).
(4) It is not for the Stranger
"Whosoever putteth any of it upon a stranger, shall even be cut off" (Ex. 30:33). It is for the whole family of God: "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 2:5).
Yes, we are born as "priests" into the family of God. But if we are going to participate in the priesthood we must be disciplined. We must be washed in pure water, stripped of the old garments and clothed upon the new, and consecrated unto priestly service. We must know the restrictions of the holy oil. Our heritage as priests does not give us liberty to indulge in the work of the Lord any time we wish, any way we see fit. The anointing oil confines us to His will. We are not free to use substitute anointings - if we think it will attract more people. We cannot use strange fire like Nadab and Abihu, or like our modem entertainers who are using smoke-machines to imitate the glory of God. We cannot offer strange incense, in order to get the applause of men. Ask Nadab and Abihu if being "born" a priest was enough to qualify them to minister in holy things any way they saw fit!
God grieved over the house of Israel, and said:
"Ye have brought into my sanctuary strangers uncircumcised in heart, and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in my sanctuary, to pollute it" (Ezek. 44:7, 9). The "stranger" in God's house is the man who is "uncircumcised in heart". New Covenant circumcision enables a man to "worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh" (Phil. 3:3).
God says His priests must minister unto Him according to the "order of the sanctuary". It is disorder if it is not God's order. It is the bondage of man if it is not the liberty of the Spirit. The "order of the sanctuary" will determine the manner and the character of our gatherings in His name. Right now there is an awful lot of strange fire, and strange incense, and strange anointing. But because the glory of God is not there, there is no fire coming forth from the presence of God to put an end to it all.
Confined to the Anointing
Let us recognize that it is in the restrictions of the anointing oil that we shall discover true release in our spirits. For what man is released to serve God in the liberty of the Spirit, but he who walks in the restrictions of the anointing? What man knows true freedom, but he who sits at His feet in confinement to His will? Who is he that knows true liberty, but he who comes under the yoke of Christ?
Can we not see the glorious contradiction of warring a good warfare in order to enter into Canaan rest?
Of taking His yoke, in order to learn from Him, and find rest for our souls?
Of becoming a bond-slave of Christ, in order to discover true freedom?
Of coming into a prison-house of confinement, in order to discover the freedom of doing His will?
Of becoming a captive to Pharaoh, or a prisoner of Nero - in order to discover that we are the Lord's free man?
Of experiencing the myrrh of trial and bitterness, that our lives may show forth the fragrance of Christ?
Of dying, that we might come forth in life?
Of counting all things but loss, "for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord"?
Glorious contradictions! And glorious and holy is the anointing that confines us to the hidden wisdom, and delivers us from the wisdom of this world.
That confines us to Him who is pure love, and pure light, and delivers us from the darkness that surrounds us in this world.
That confines us to the lengths and the breadths and the heights and the depths of God - depths that are unsearchable - and delivers us from the fleeting, perishable things of this life.
That confines us to oceans of love and truth, and delivers us from the muddy pools of theology and the philosophies of men.
That confines us to His living word, and reduces us to God, that we might be delivered from ourselves and from the world about us.
Chapter 6 – Urim and Thummim
“And thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and Thummim; and they shall be upon Aaron's heart, when he goeth in before the LORD" (Ex. 28:30).
Of what form or substance these precious objects were made, we do not know. Nor do we really need to know. The true character and virtue of these gems (or whatever they were) is revealed in the names by which they are called, and in what they performed in the presence of God. First let us consider the meaning of the words, for they are Hebrew words, left untranslated in most of our English versions.
Both words are in the plural; and the objects are two in number, which is a number of the corporate relationship in the body of Christ: the part and the counterpart, the right hand and the left, the right eye and the left, the right ear and the left - and so forth.
In Urim and Thummim we have Light - God's Light that comes to fulness, to perfection. We have a corporate expression of the Light and the Glory of God in fulness of manifestation. We have the full revelation of the word, of the heart and mind of God, in a people who have come into abiding union with Christ, and are hidden away in the breastplate of judgment.
When Aaron stood before the Most High God with priestly heart - adorned with priestly garments and anointed with holy oil - God Himself spoke forth in a clear, accurate and precise manner His righteous decrees. All Israel stood expectantly, yet fearfully, outside the Tabernacle, wondering what God might have to say to them on that great day.
They had the scriptures that Moses had written down for them. They had the decrees and the ordinances of God from the great lawgiver - and Urim and Thummim did nothing to change any of that. But they were a people of the Way. They were going somewhere. They were to face formidable enemies as they began to enter into the Land of Promise. Unforeseen circumstances would arise where they would need a very explicit word from the Lord. It would not be contrary to what was written. But it would pin-point and unfold some very specific instruction that they would need for direction as they walked in the unknown way, the unexplored way of the LORD. And after they entered the land they would need some very explicit instructions from the LORD as to the manner of their warfare, and how they were to conquer their enemies and possess the land.
Many of God's people do not seem to understand this. "We have the Word - what more do we need"? is the attitude of many. Let us make it clear: the word of God is all we need to fully equip us for a life of fruitfulness and godliness. But that Word must be illuminated by His Spirit as we walk along in the pathway of life. Also, there will be many times when we will need a very explicit word for particular moments of decision, or some grievous area of conflict, that the Bible was never intended to give us. It does not take from what is written, nor add to it. But we are a people of the Way, just as Israel was. And like them we need clear direction and guidance, and some very specific words from the heart of God from time to time, as we travel the unknown way, and go through areas of conflict and trial.
Now Joshua was warned that He must "meditate" in the "book of the law" day and night for his success (Josh. 1:8). Nevertheless he would need some direct counsel from the LORD along the way; and Eleazar the priest was to "ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim before the LORD" (Num. 27:21). God would be faithful to give him clear and infallible direction - both as he went forth in battle, and as he came home in victory. It was not a game of chance - like the throwing of the dice, or a "yes" or "no" type of thing. It was a pure, clear word from the mouth of the LORD.
Saul looked for this kind of direction, but because his heart was alienated from God, God refused to help him. "The LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets" (1 Sam. 28:6). God's Urim, God's clear, bright Light, is for those who will walk in it.
The governor of the remnant who returned from captivity to rebuild the temple and restore the priesthood, was not able to determine whether or not certain priests in Israel were valid priests of the Aaronic order. Their names could not be found in the genealogical records. How would they know? Therefore the governor decreed "that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and with Thummim" (Ezra 2:63).
The scriptures could not help them here. Nor could they recreate these special gems, and try to operate them by faith. If God did not restore Urim and Thummim they would be totally helpless to do anything about it. Are we not confronted many times with perplexing problems such as this?
The Urim and Thummim were placed in the pocket of the breastplate, and this was fastened with chains of gold to the "ephod". The "ephod" therefore became identified with the illuminating word of Urim and Thummim, long after these precious objects seemed to have faded out of the picture. Samuel, as a young child in the Tabernacle was "girded with a linen ephod" (1 Sam. 2:18; also vs. 28). The ephod seemed to be that specific garment of the priesthood that gave validity to this high calling. And as Samuel grew older the Urim and Thummim was established in his heart so well that God "did let none of his words fall to the ground" (1 Sam. 3:19). The clear word that God spoke through Samuel was as valid and true as any message God gave to any of the former priests in Israel by Urim and Thummim. The linen ephod that Samuel wore as a boy in the Tabernacle, had blossomed forth into a garment of truth that he wore the rest of his days, and "All Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the LORD" (1 Sam. 3:20). When Abiathar fled from the wrath of Saul, he was careful to come to David "with an ephod in his hand" (1 Sam. 23:6). And though David was not a priest, he had the heart of a priest; and on many occasions he exercised priestly prerogatives - even going so far as to erect the Tabernacle of David on Mount Zion, where he as king of Israel might have priestly communion with God, and stand before the ark of the Covenant. In all of this he was a beautiful type and forerunner of Christ who would reign as a Priest upon the throne. Therefore when David stood in need of direct, explicit instructions from God, as to his own preservation, and as to the battles he must wage, he had access to "the ephod". God honored his prayers and gave clear direction as to the way he should go. God warned him that Saul would come down to Keilah searching for him, and so they must leave (1 Sam. 23:9-13). Again, when the enemy had smitten the camp where David and his men were living, and took away much spoil, David asked God what to do, and God told him specifically:
"Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all" (1 Sam. 30:8). There was nothing in the scriptures that could give him the counsel he needed for this specific occasion. But God gave him clear, direct, infallible direction, and David won a great victory. David, though officially a king, also functioned as a priest. How could it be otherwise, for he was "a man after God's own heart"? We have many volunteers for kingly power. But few there are who have hearts of meekness, humility, mercy, patience, longsuffering - after the heart of God. So when David brought back the ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, it should have been placed in the holy of holies of the Tabernacle. But David put it in a new Tabernacle that he had constructed for this new kingdom that prefigured the Melchizedek order, a kingdom and priesthood of righteousness and peace. And when the Ark was returning he put off his royal garments and put on a priestly "robe of fine linen" and an "ephod". Priestly ministry unto the Lord was more important to him than kingly power and authority (1 Chron. 15:27). No wonder the daughter of Saul, who was raised in royal splendour and had married a king, "despised" him in her heart - to see the king of Israel abasing himself to the level of a humble priest in Israel!
God has a Clear, Pure Word for His People
"And of Levi he said, Let thy Thummim and thy Urim be with Thy Holy One, whom Thou didst prove at Massah, and with whom Thou didst strive at the waters of Meribah. Who said unto his father and to his mother, I have not seen him; neither did he acknowledge his brethren, nor knew his own children: for they have observed Thy word, and kept Thy covenant" (Deut. 33:8, 9).
These were a holy people, totally committed to the LORD, set apart entirely unto the service of the sanctuary. There could be no human interference in their devotion to God. No relationship with brother, sister, father, mother, children - could have precedence over their service to God. Nothing could detract them from their all-consuming desire to observe God's word and keep His covenant.
Like the disciples of Christ, they must forsake all if they would truly follow the LORD, and if He would truly be their Master. They had no inheritance that they could call their own - nothing that they could leave for their children, except the holy calling of priestly service.
The Urim and Thummim by which Eleazar would divide the land of Canaan would designate nothing for the priestly tribe, even though Eleazar himself was a member of that tribe. Urim and Thummim were not something he could manipulate for his own advantage - for his own honour and glory. They would have cities to dwell in, and their needs would all be taken care of, but they were special to God and God was special to them. "Wherefore Levi hath no part nor inheritance with his brethren; the LORD is his inheritance, according as the LORD thy God promised him" (Deut. 10:9).
A clear, pure word would pour forth from their lips, because they feared and trembled before God, and because they observed His word and kept His covenant.
Urim and Thummim will not function in a rebellious heart
When Saul walked in disobedience, Urim and Thummim were silent, and he could find no direction from God. When he saw the armies of the Philistines melting away in confusion, he called for the ark of God and the priest to see what was going on, but nothing happened. Consequently he went ahead and acted according to his own best judgment. God was giving Jonathan a great victory, but Saul took the credit for it; and to seal his own authority he put the people under tight control and denied them access to the honey that flowed from the trees of the wood (see 1 Sam. 14).
The time came when the heavens were silent, and "the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets" (1 Sam. 28:6).
God said His Urim and Thummim were for His holy one, It is not for the self-willed and the rebellious. It is for a people who walk in truth, and who tremble at His word.
It is God's Provision in the Hour of Apostasy
Urim and Thummim soon became extinct in Israel. God nevertheless was faithful to bring forth that clear word of Urim even in times of darkness and apostasy. God must have one who would stand before Him in true priestly ministry and deliver a pure, clear word to His people - no matter how apostate that people may have become. Our teachers are talking about ruling and reigning, about taking over earth's resources, and their governments, and the offices of presidents and prime ministers. But God is grieving over a backslidden and rebellious Church. And God will raise up a priesthood in this hour with Urim and Thummim, who will be anointed to show God's people "the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean" (Ezek. 44:23). God will have a prophetic priesthood that will carry "the burden of the LORD" upon their shoulders, and bear "the iniquity" of the people upon their hearts, and seek to turn them back to God.
Transition of Urim and Thummim from the Old Era to the New
Those original objects called Urim and Thummim soon faded away from Israel, for they were but types and shadows of reality. Yet even in Old Testament times God began to put Urim and Thummim in the hearts of His chosen vessels the prophets. They bore the judgment of the people upon their hearts before the Lord continually, as priests of the LORD; and sometimes it was a burden too grievous for them to bear.
When the priesthood had become corrupt God raised up a Samuel, with Urim in his heart, and he came to Israel with a clear, pure word from the mouth of God. "And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the LORD" (1 Sam. 3:20). Sure, they had the law, and the temple, and the priesthood, and the sacrifices. But when these fail God is faithful to raise up a Urim and Thummim ministry to turn the hearts of the people back to God. Jeremiah had that pure word from God, and it became a burden upon his shoulders that was so heavy he decided it was enough...
"Then said I, I will not make mention of Him, nor speak any more in His Name" (Jer. 20:9) (to be a prophet from God was evidently far from being a glamorous ministry in Jeremiah's eyes).
But how can a man with Urim (God's Holy Fire) in his bosom - how can he quench it? And so he testified: "His word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay". He said it made him more weary just trying to hold back the word - and he had to give it forth. One king thought he would extinguish the fire in Jeremiah's word by lighting his own fire and burning the prophet's words. But this only increased the fire in Jeremiah's heart, and God gave him the words again - and even more than he had written the first time (see Jer. 36:32).
It was evidently a source of great perplexity in Israel to discover, after every season of restoration and revival, that the precious gems of Urim and Thummim were still not to be found in the breastplate of the high priest. They did not understand that God had placed these gems in His chosen ones the prophets, hidden away in the secret pockets of their hearts. They did not understand that even in their time the prophetic ministry was the beginning of a great transition from an old covenant to a new, from an old order to a new. Even the prophets themselves, though speaking a very clear and precise word from God, did not understand the nature of the times they wrote about. They knew they spoke clear words of warning to an apostate nation. But intermingled with their message were words of hope and promise for a day of glory that was yet to appear. As they sought God in the matter (for we are told that they "inquired and searched diligently" what they were prophesying about) God showed them that they were really speaking of the Church, the people of God who would be living after the resurrection of Christ:
"Unto whom (the prophets, who diligently sought God as to the intent of their words) it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven" (1 Pet. 1:12). We are taught today that the prophets spoke of an earthly, political, national kingdom to be set up in old Jerusalem. But God revealed a secret to them, that they spoke of these days following the resurrection of Christ: "Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days" (Acts 3:24).
Urim and Thummim in John the Baptist
About 400 years had gone by since Malachi had come to the nation with a clear word from God. Then God raised up the greatest prophet He had ever given to Israel. Jesus said that of all born of women, "There hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist" (Matt. 11:11). Never was there greater apostasy in Israel than when John arose in the spirit and power of Elijah, and sounded forth the call to repentance. All men who had understanding knew that John was established as the prophet of the Most High God. Luke in his narrative tells us about the very highly organized political and religious world that formed the setting for the sudden appearance of this great prophet.
"Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and..." - then Luke goes on to elaborate on the very highly organized governments of the earth, just to give the setting in the midst of which "a man sent from God" would suddenly appear on the scene with a clear word from God. Tiberius was the emperor of the mighty Roman Empire. Pontius Pilate was governor of Judaea. Herod was over Galilee; His brother Philip over Ituraea and Trachonitis; and Lysanias over Abilene. Then there was a very magnificent religious system, ruled over by Annas and Caiaphas, the high priests. Why did the Spirit of God see fit to give us all these details? (see Luke 3:1, 2). I believe God is showing us that in the midst of this very highly organized political empire, and a very highly organized religious system - right here God introduces another Voice, clear and distinct from all the rest - a Voice that would herald the coming of an entirely new Kingdom. It was right here in the midst of gross apostasy that we read these words, "The word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness". (Luke 3:2). Out there in the wilderness God began to send forth a clear Word from His heart: "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand". The message was very clear: only one thing was acceptable to God - "Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance" (Lk. 3:8). You cannot trust in your racial heritage, - even if you are the sons of Abraham. You cannot trust in your religious heritage, if you bear no fruit that is pleasing to God. The axe of God is ready to cut down every fruitless tree. The fan is in God's hand to blow away the chaff. A fire is about to be kindled, for the One that is coming is going to "baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire" (vs. 16). I know it is taught that this speaks of God's judgment to come upon the sinful nation. And I know we are told that God's people should not desire or anticipate this mighty, devastating baptism. But Jesus promised this baptism. "For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence" (Acts 1:5). It happened on the Day of Pentecost. And Peter remembered the words of Jesus again when the Holy Ghost fell on the Gentile believers in Caesarea:
"Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost" (Acts 11:16). Judgment? Of course! for we must know the judgments of God's fire in our hearts to purge us and cleanse us from all defilement. We are to expect it, look for it, anticipate it - The Fire of God's holy Presence, to consume all the chaff and dross in the House of God, and to make us Holy! To kindle the fire of the Burnt Offering - and to bring us into the Presence of the Shekinah Fire in the Holy of Holies. As priests of God we must come into His presence, and stand before Him - that this Holy Fire might be ignited in our own hearts. Once again God is raising up a people with Urim & Thummim in their hearts, who will live a pure and holy life and will speak a pure, clear Word in the midst of apostasy.
Urim and Thummim in the Son
All the prophets spoke of "these last days" when God's final revelation of Truth would come forth in His only begotten Son:
"God, who... spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son" (Heb. 1:1, 2). John was but a Voice in the wilderness. Jesus was Himself the Word, the incarnate expression of the Word of God. He did not come to change the real meaning of scripture, but to bring to light its true meaning. For in His humanity He was Himself the Word - not only because of what He said, but because of what He was - the very expression of God's heart walking in human form. In Him we have the very ultimate of God's intention in Urim and Thummim.
Nevertheless it was God's plan that the Son, having finished an earthly ministry would then enter a more glorious ministry in the heavens. His earthly ministry would culminate in His sacrificial death on the Cross. But He would rise from the dead as the Conquering One, and be enthroned at the Father's right hand in the heavens, and would continue to send forth that pure, clear word from His heavenly throne. In speaking from Heaven His Word would not be less effective than it was when He was here on earth, for the very Spirit of Truth that was in Him in earth, would now be implanted in the hearts of His chosen ones who would continue to speak that clear, pure word from the heart of God.
I know we are inclined to think that as long as any human vessel is involved, the word from their lips is bound to be tainted with error and weakness. But God foresaw no problem in that area. God said His plan was the very best. And so before He went away Jesus assured His disciples: "It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you" (Jn. 16:7). Because He is in the heavens, bearing the breastplate of judgment upon His heart, on which are written the names of His people - He would continue to speak by Urim and Thummim with a clear, infallible, precise, pure word from the Father. There would be no mixture, no pollution of the word that would come from the Son in Heaven; because the Holy Spirit abiding in His people in the earth would be faithful to the charge laid upon Him to precisely and clearly communicate the words of Jesus to His chosen vessels in the earth.
Now I know that men are teaching that we had perfection in the ministry of the Son while He was on earth, but that we will never find perfection in the ministry of the Holy Spirit as long as we poor mortals are involved; and generally that is the way it has been. Are we to conclude then that Jesus was wrong when He said it was "expedient" (better) that He went away so His Spirit could come to take His place in the earth, and in the hearts of His people? Not at all! God's way is best; and He will yet demonstrate that His way is best. The Son continues to reign as a Priest on the throne, and the work of the Holy Spirit is not yet finished. And the Lord Jesus has assured us that when He speaks from Heaven it will be sounded in the earth as clearly, as distinctly, and as purely as when He was here in our midst. Let us consider some of these precious secrets that He revealed to His disciples just before He went away:
(1) The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus
He is described as "another Comforter", for the Man Christ Jesus is the Advocate on the throne, while the Holy Spirit is the new Advocate who would abide in His people in the earth. But He is in fact the very Spirit of the Lord Jesus, and distinguished from the Son only by reason of His new habitation in the earth:
"I (Jesus) will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you" (Jn. 14:18). And again, "I (Jesus) go away, and come again unto you" (vs. 28). Read it in its context. Clearly He is telling us that in going away He would come again and abide in His people, by the Spirit of Truth whom He would send from the Father.
(2) The Holy Spirit will perform Greater Works than when Jesus was here
"And greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father" (Jn. 14:12). Not because His people are greater - they are much more frail, much more subject to weakness. But it is because Jesus has gone to the place of all power and authority in the heavens. And now the Father is "glorified in the Son" and the Son is "glorified" in His brethren in the earth. (Jn. 14:13; 17:10).
(3) Jesus is the Way - Then and Now
"Whither I go ye know, and the way ye know" (Jn. 14:4). The Way would not be obscured because of His going away; because the Spirit of Truth would take up His habitation in His own in the earth (Jn. 14:6, 17).
(4) Intimacy with Christ assured - Then as Now
"At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in Me, and I in you" (Jn. 14:20). This new intimacy of fellowship in the Holy Spirit would be of the same kind and nature as that which He Himself had with the Father. They would all be blended together in glorious union with one another and with the Father.
(5) His People to be a Home for Father and Son
"We will come unto him, and make our abode with him" (Jn. 14:23). This is the promise to those who keep His words, and love Him. The eternal longing in the heart of God for a Home will finally be realized in the hearts of His people - the only Home that God has ever desired, the only Temple that God ever longed for.
(6) There will be Continuous Revelation of Truth
The Holy Spirit will not fall short in His ministration of truth to His chosen ones. "He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (Jn. 14:26). And He would reveal other things to them as they needed it, and as they were able to receive it. "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth" (Jn. 16:13).
(7) There will be a Vine and Branch Relationship
Union with Him would be as real as the union of a branch in the vine! "I am the true Vine, and my Father is the Husbandman... abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me" (Jn. 15:1, 4).
(8) There will be a Certainty of Answered Prayers
In this abiding relationship in the Vine, the prayers of His people would be just as effectual as the prayers of the Son Himself. For in Him they not only will know how to pray, and what to pray for - but in union with Him it is His own desire that they are expressing before the throne. "If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you" (Jn. 15:7).
(9) God loves His own with the same Intensity by which He loves the Son
"As the Father hath loved Me, so have I loved you: continue ye in My love" (Jn. 15:9). He also promised the Father that He would continue to make known the Father's Name to His people until - "The love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them" (Jn. 17:26).
(10) There is a Divine Provision to Abide in this Love
"If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love, even as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love" (Jn. 15:10).
(11) There is Divine Enablement to Manifest that Love
"This is My commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you" (Jn. 15:12). Enablement in His commandments? Yes, because the New Covenant commandments are not like the old. God's commandments are "life everlasting" (Jn. 12:50) - in the "ministration of the Spirit" (2 Cor. 3-8).
(12) Jesus tells His secrets to His Friends
"Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends for all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you" (Jn. 15:15).
There is something higher than being a "servant" of the Lord. God wants "friends". God can find many servants to do what has to be done; but He has few "friends" with whom He can share His heart. Martha was cumbered about with "much serving". It was work that had to be done. But Mary chose "that good part". God had no need to create a Man in His image if all He wanted was service. He has thousands, tens of thousands of angelic hosts who can do that. But God wants friends, because He wants fellowship. Further - He needs fellowship, because He is a Father who longs for sons and daughters in His image and likeness, to share His love, His nature, His very heart. His heart cries out for this. He is looking for those who will worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.
(13) His people are Assured of Fruitfulness
"I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit" (Jn. 15:16) - fruit that would remain, abiding fruit. And the fruit is of such delight to the Father that He promises to answer every prayer that ascends to Him from His own who are abiding in the Vine.
(14) His people are Assured of the Enmity of the World
Why should we not rejoice in this? If we, like our Master, are loving righteousness and hating iniquity? "Because ye are not of the world... therefore the world hateth you" (Jn. 15:19).
(15) The Holy Spirit will Witness of Christ
"The Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me" (Jn. 15:26). The Spirit of God is faithful to testify only of Christ. That is why He came into the earth. He came to take the place of Jesus, the faithful and true witness, who is now on the throne. And because the Spirit is faithful to testify only of Christ, God's servants in the earth who love Him will also faithfully "bear witness" to the truth (vs. 27).
(16) His Enthronement in Heaven - God's Best Plan
"It is expedient (best) for you that I go away" (Jn. 16:7). There will be no interruption of the ministry of the Son simply because He has gone away, and His people in the earth may not always prove to be faithful. Nor is He coming back to earth to do something the Church has not been able to do. The Church will yet know - the world will yet recognize - that God's plan is the very best!
(17) The Holy Spirit has Taken the Place of Jesus in the earth.
"If I go not away the Comforter (the Advocate) will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you" (Jn. 16:7). When He came - He came to do and say and work as Jesus did when He was here: reproving the world "of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment" (vs. 8). Jesus was the Truth; and the Holy Spirit is now "the Spirit of Truth" - once again abiding in a body, a corporate body, in the earth.
(18) The Holy Spirit will Lead His People into All Truth
"When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth" (Jn. 16:13). Jesus was the Truth here on earth. But there were many things His people could not yet receive. The Spirit of God coming to abide in His people would therefore continue the work that Jesus started - and lead them into still further revelation of truth. Some insist "We have the completed Bible now, with the New Testament added to the Old: so we need no further revelation." But those who say such things ignore the fact that the New Covenant itself must be ministered to the hearts of men by the same Spirit who caused the scribes to write it. It must be a "ministration of the Spirit" (2 Cor. 3:3-8). God's people, even though they have received the Spirit, must have a further enduement of "the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him", the "eyes" of their understanding "being enlightened" - if they are going to hear, and see, and know what God is saying - and experience and appropriate what God is doing (see Eph. 1:17, 18).
(19) The Holy Spirit will Speak Only what He Hears
"He shall not speak of (from) Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak; and He will show you things to come" (Jn. 16:13). The Word from the throne will be accurately and precisely declared in the earth, because the Spirit is under obligation to speak only what He hears. And therefore His ministers in the earth will be under obligation to speak only what the Spirit is saying to the churches.
(20) The Spirit will Glorify the Son
"He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall shew it unto you" (Jn. 16:14). Taking from Christ and imparting that treasure to His people does not glorify God's ministers; it glorifies the Christ. The man who speaks "from Himself" is seeking His own glory (Jn. 7:18). But the man who speaks out from the heart of the Spirit is seeking the glory of Christ, and His only - because the Spirit speaks out from the bosom of the Son to glorify the Father.
(21) All the Treasures of Christ are Given to His People
"He shall take of Mine, and shall shew it unto you" (Jn. 16:15). The "hidden wisdom". "The unsearchable riches of Christ". "The breadth, and length, and depth, and height" of His immeasurable treasures. "The love of Christ which passeth knowledge". "The depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God" - It is the ministry of the Holy Spirit abiding in His people in the earth, to bring forth all these riches from the heart of God and make them known to His people. And yet foolish man will insist:
We do not need the Holy Spirit now, because we have the Bible - ignorantly believing that they can understand the "depths of God" without the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit to take the things of Christ, and make them known to man.
Surely in all that we have said it is abundantly evident that in the coming of the Holy Spirit to abide in His Temple in the earth, God's people would in no way fall short of a clear, precise, accurate, and distinct revelation from God by reason of the weakness and frailty of the vessels in whom God's Spirit would dwell.
And surely it is evident that God's chosen vessels are in no way equal to Christ - in no way to be considered as other little Christs, other voices, or any such thing. It is only as they abide in Him that they are able to partake of this high and holy calling. Apart from Him - severed from Him as the branch is cut off from the vine - they are nothing, absolutely nothing. We cannot receive any office, or function in any capacity, as some one independent of Him, some one other than Him, some one apart from Him, in contrast to Him, as distinct from Him. Only He is that infallible Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor, Teacher. Only He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Only He is the High Priest in the heavenly Sanctuary. Only He is the Anointed One. And we are only true priests, true apostles, true evangelists, true pastors, and true teachers - as we abide in Him and speak out from His anointing, out from His heart, out from abiding union with Him.
Any open-minded believer would have to admit that what we have said concerning the ministry of the Holy Spirit in His people is right and scriptural. But the nagging question is, Can it really happen? Are we able to come to this kind of relationship as long as we are here in this world?
And the answer is Yes! Because Jesus could have stayed here in the earth and continued to be that clear Voice of the Father - except that the Father had a better plan in mind! God said it was "expedient" that the Son be enthroned in the heavens! Better for us, and more glorifying to God! For He has absolute confidence that in going away He would be able to reproduce His kind in the earth, by virtue of His high-priestly ministry in the heavenly Sanctuary. And now let us consider in some detail the nature and character of the "more excellent ministry" of the exalted Christ.
Chapter 7 – The more excellent ministry in the heavens
“But now hath He obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also He is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises" (Heb. 8:6).
Right now there is a Man reigning on the greatest and most powerful throne in all of God's universe. And He is there to subdue all His enemies under His feet - and build a glorious Temple in the earth.
"Even He shall build the temple of the LORD; and He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a priest upon His throne" (Zech. 6:13).
Who is this One? He is "the Man whose name is the Branch" (vs. 12). He is the Lord Jesus Himself. But He is One who "grows" up out of His place. He is a "Root out of a dry ground" (Isa. 53:2). He grows - and becomes a Vine. In that Vine there are other branches, that are joined unto Him, and who become one with Him. With Him they will be priests on the throne; for they are made to be "Kings and priests unto God" (Rev. 1:6). But there are not two institutions: a kingdom, and then a priesthood. I know God made this distinction in the Old Testament, when Israel failed as a nation to become "a kingdom of priests" (Ex. 19:6).
But man's failure does not frustrate God's plan and purpose; and after the resurrection of Christ He did what He had planned and declared to Moses. He brought forth "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Pet. 2:9). God wants a priestly people who will "reign in life"-a people who are "vessels of mercy" - who will have kingly authority to minister life to others, because of His ministration from the throne. We have many volunteers for the throne - men who are looking for opportunities to take over earth's resources, earth's governments, and so forth. But God's crowns are for those who qualify as priests. And the only crown of authority on their brow will be a priestly crown of oil.
"For the crown of the anointing oil of his God is upon him" (Lev. 21:12).
"The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek" (Ps. 110:4).
"Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows" (Heb. 1:9; from Ps. 45:6, 7).
He earned the crown of power by wearing on His brow the crown of thorns.
He earned the crown of oil, because He "loved righteousness and hated iniquity".
He received the scepter of righteousness because He took from the Roman soldier the flimsy reed that was placed in His hand, and suffered the ignominy of a mock coronation. All this became the first chapter in His coronation as King.
The second chapter took place at His ascension. It was there that God "set" His King on Zion, and made Him to be King of kings and Lord of lords. He was "set" there to be a Priest on the throne. His ministry on earth was finished. Now He would begin His Messianic ministry in the heavens. The Kingdom of God was not postponed because they slew their King. It was the slaying of the King that became the first chapter of His coronation in the heavens. The long expected Messiah was to reign upon a throne that would be far, far superior to the one His people had planned for Him. It would be far above any earthly throne.
All this was very distressing to the people who were expecting Him to set up a kingdom there in Jerusalem. But after His ascension it gradually became clear to them. He was given a more glorious throne than they had ever imagined possible. David was dead and buried, and his sepulchre was there in their midst, for all to see. But David himself, to whom God had promised an eternal kingdom - foresaw a little of what God had in store for the King who would come from David's line.
David was a prophet, and like all the other prophets, he foresaw the Messiah ruling on the exalted throne in the heavens: "Being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, He would raise up Christ to sit on his throne... he seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ" (Acts 2:30, 31). And because He now sits on the throne of David in the heavens, Peter declares: "Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear" (vs. 33).
It was because Jesus was enthroned as the King that was promised to his father David, that He was able to begin pouring forth unto His people the blessings of His Messianic ministry in the earth. Salvation from sin and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon His people is the first and foremost of the blessings bestowed by the exalted Messiah. The promise was to Israel, "The promise is unto you, and to your children..." - and went further to embrace all nations - "and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call" (vs. 39). And Peter further declares that the blessing of Abraham was the blessing of salvation from sin: "Saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up His Son Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities" (Acts 3:25, 26).
When Jesus died on the Cross He broke down the "wall of partition" between Jew and Gentile, opening the way for all men to become partakers of "the commonwealth of Israel"..."no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God". Jew and Gentile now redeemed by the same Cross, are no longer two peoples at enmity one with the other; but together in Christ they become "one new man" (see Eph. 2:12-19). I know the enmity is still there in the hearts of both nations, and will continue on - but when they both bow at the foot of the Cross, the enmity is gone - and suddenly they become a part of God's one "holy nation", and are partakers together of the Covenant of Abraham.
Christ became a curse to make this happen: "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ... (and what is the blessing of Abraham?) ...That we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith" (Eph. 3:13, 14). God's message to Israel, and to all nations, is strong and clear - Stop trying to erect the wall that God tore down at the awful cost of the Cross. God sees "no difference" in nations and peoples of the earth, "for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23).
"The promise of the Spirit" is the blessing of Abraham. Let us never forget that! There may be lesser benefits included in the promise, but they all fade away in our eyes if like Abraham we "look for the City which hath foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God" (Heb. 11:10, 16). And it is the work of the Holy Spirit to bring forth in the earth this holy City, this heavenly Jerusalem, this Mount Zion, this Church of the living God - and to bring her to fulness, to completion, to perfection (see Heb. 12:22, 23; Eph. 4:8-16).
Having understood these things, after much perplexity and bewilderment, the disciples were able to understand why it was "expedient" for Jesus to go to the heavenly throne. His going away would not mean that they would lack anything, or that His promises concerning the Kingdom would fail. It was only in going away, that He could come to them again in such an indwelling of His presence that He who was with them could now be in them. And it would be there from the heavenly throne that He would have all power and authority to rule over all nations, as well as over all the heavens.
I know He comes again in kingly power and dominion. But it is not to begin the Kingdom. He came the first time to do that, and He went away to continue doing that. And He remains there till the "precious fruit of the earth" is to be harvested. Then He comes to cut down the fruitless trees, to root out the tares, to burn up the chaff, to consume the stubble, to bring to total devastation all the works of man: and "to gather the wheat" into His storehouse (see Matt. 13:24-31). He comes to consume all that is corrupt - socially, politically, economically, religiously, environmentally. He comes "to gather out of His Kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father" (Matt. 13:41-43). He comes to reap the harvest of the Kingdom, not to start a new one.
We only "see through a glass darkly" concerning these things. But when His fiery judgments have been finished God has this exhortation for the nations:
"Be still and know that I am God". For He is bringing the nations to devastation that He might be glorified (see Ps. 46:8-10).
Like the disciples of Jesus, many of God's people are trying to pressure Jesus to get involved with the politics of the Kingdom, while He is concerned only about "righteousness". They would pressure Him to show them the way to the throne, the way to the presidency, how to get the right men in the supreme court - whereas He would seek to show them the way to the Cross. They want to know the steps of glory that would lead to Solomon's throne of ivory; but He wants us to follow in His steps to Golgotha. He would have us to continue praying: "Lord, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven".
A New and Better Covenant
The whole burden of the New Testament, and especially of the epistles - which came as a result of His ministration from the heavenly throne - is that the heavenly ministry of the Messiah is "more excellent" than any earthly ministry could ever be.
The "heavenly sanctuary" is better than the earthly one. The heavenly Mediator is better than the earthly one.
The Melchizedek priesthood is better than the Levitical one.
The New Covenant is better than the old one, which was "weak through the flesh".
The blood of the New Covenant is better than the blood of bulls and goats.
The Old Covenant was written on tables of stone; the new one on "fleshly tables of the heart".
The blood of bulls and goats merely covered sin for a season - they could never take them away. In the New Covenant, sins are done away, never to be remembered in Heaven, and never again to defile the conscience of a people that have been purged from dead works to serve the living God.
The application of the blood of Christ to our hearts and minds so erases sin and its scars that we see them no more, even as God sees them no more.
Everything about the ministration of the New Covenant from Messiah's heavenly throne, is better, better, better...
This is the Kingdom that Christ is now establishing in the hearts of men in the earth. And our prayer continues to be, "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done in earth, as it is in Heaven". He has "all power in heaven and in earth" to make it happen. He has a priestly people walking in union with Him, who continue to pray that it will happen. Creation continues to cry out for "the manifestation of the sons of God" (Rom. 8:19). And be assured, the lesser brethren of Christ are not going to be manifested in any other way than the way their Elder Brother was manifested. Jesus did not suddenly drop down from Heaven wrapped in glory and manifested in the earth as the Son of God with power. Nor will His younger brothers. Jesus was born into our humanity, and God was manifested through Him in the weakness of His humanity. He grew up under discipline, and learned obedience through the things that He suffered. He carried His cross daily - not just the one time when He carried it to Golgotha. All through His life He walked under the shadow of the Cross. His lesser brethren will certainly be "manifested" in the same way, for Jesus said "I am the Way". They too must know rejection, suffering, learn obedience as He did, and become disciples who count all things but loss, "for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus their Lord". Only as they "suffer with Him" will they be manifested as His sons, and "reign with Him" (Rom. 8:17).
God's first and Special Son was "manifested" in weakness, in poverty, in rejection, in suffering - long before He was manifested as the Son of God in resurrection glory. So will it be with His younger brethren: they will not be manifested as the sons of God with power and glory until they have been manifested in the earth as followers of the Lamb, and showing forth the love and mercy and virtues of their Master in the midst of weakness and mortality. How foolish to think that they are above their Master, and that one day they will just drop down from Heaven to earth as glorified "sons" to deliver creation from her bondage!
The Husbandman Waiteth, Be Ye also Patient!
I recognize that many things I have mentioned concerning the New Covenant are not to be seen to any great extent in God's people. This does not alter the Covenant. It simply explains why the Holy Spirit is still in the earth, why Jesus has not come back yet, and why the Husbandman continues to wait "for the precious fruit of the earth". God's precious Covenant, ratified by the blood of Jesus, must yet come to ultimate fulness in His people. The Son must yet receive the reward of His sacrifice. The Father will continue to prepare a Holy Bride for His Son who is worthy of the very best that God's grace and the power of the Creator can bring forth. The Holy Spirit will be faithful in His work in the hearts of men to bring forth a Bride that is worthy of His Son, through the merits of "precious Blood". When He presents this spotless Virgin to Christ He will not have to apologize something like this: "Here is the Bride you wanted Me to procure for your Son - still full of faults and blemishes I know, - but it's the best I could do". He has all power and authority to bring forth the perfect Church, the perfect fruit, the perfect Bride that God authorized Him to prepare.
In Jesus' prayer for His chosen ones, just prior to His going away, we have a beautiful preview of His "more excellent ministry" in the heavens. He speaks as though He were already glorified and enthroned at God's right hand. He speaks as One who has already fulfilled His earthly ministry, because His face is firmly set for the Cross that lay before Him. He knows He has overcome the world. But He prays while yet in the earth in the presence of His distraught disciples, that He might give them comfort and assurance concerning the purpose of His going away. If ever you find yourself wondering what the New Covenant is all about, and doubting whether or not it will be fulfilled in your life - just read this chapter slowly and prayerfully, and be renewed in your spirit concerning the hope of His calling, and the faithfulness of your great High Priest in the heavens to complete the work there, as truly as He finished the work that God gave Him to do here in the earth. We want to read the whole chapter, and consider each verse in some detail:
Joh 17:1. "Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee". The Father is seen as holding the hand of the Son, that the Son might have all power to fulfill the Covenant in His people. In reality, He is Himself that Covenant. Our High Priest in the heavens "shall not fail nor be discouraged, till He have set judgment in the earth... I the LORD have called Thee in righteousness, and will hold Thine hand, and will keep Thee, and give Thee for a covenant to the people" (Isa. 42:4-6).
Now Jesus prays to the Father that He might be "glorified" in order that He might fulfill the Covenant. God has declared, "My glory will I not give to another" (Isa. 42:8). And yet here Jesus is asking for it. Because He knows that He was manifested in the earth, not to steal God's glory, but to be that vessel in the earth who would truly radiate and shine forth God's glory in the earth. "We beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father" (Jn. 1:14). He came to reveal not Himself, the Son, but to show forth the Father. The Son was the shining forth of the Father. And because He was faithful as a man to live and work in the earth in total dependence upon the Father, He triumphed where the first Adam had failed. Therefore He became, as God intended Adam to become, the very "glory of God" in the earth (see 1 Cor. 11:7).
When God gives His glory and we retain it, we are stealing the Glory of God! Man was made to glorify God. Angels and all the celestial hosts were made to glorify God. When Lucifer said, "I will exalt my throne above the stars of God" - this shining one (as his name means) lost his brightness and became darkness (see Isa. 14:13). "The anointed cherub that covereth" was appointed to fulfill that kind of ministry: to "cover" as it were, to protect, to defend the glory of God (see Ezek. 28:14). The only way man or angel can protect God's glory is to ensure that he retains none of it for himself. But in all that he does, in whatever capacity he may minister - it is to give honour and praise to God, and seek to bring others of His creatures into that same spirit of worship - that they too might give all honour and praise to Him. Like the living creatures that surround the throne, we too are to "give glory and honour and thanks to Him that sits on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever" (Rev. 4:9).
Now the Son of God was "glorified" in the earth, because in all that He did, the glory that the Father had bestowed upon Him returned to the Father in praise and exultation. When He preached, it was God that was glorified. When He healed, it was God who was glorified in the Son. (Jn. 11:4; 13:31).
And now the time had come for Him to leave the world, and begin a heavenly ministry; and He prays that He might be "glorified" in the heavenly ministration, as truly as He was when He ministered on earth. Once again the Father would be glorified in the Son on the throne, as He was here in the earth.
"Glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee". In all of our teaching about God's purposes in His "sons" we are finding it necessary to emphasize this, because some are getting the notion that we are teaching equality with Christ. Accusations of this kind are perhaps inevitable, because we are teaching vital union with the Son. And Jesus Himself was accused of "making Himself equal with God" for insisting that He was one with the Father. In His humanity Jesus took a place lower than Deity, lower than the Father. He said, "My Father is greater than I". We are less than Christ, much weaker than Christ, totally helpless and undone apart from Christ. It is only as we partake of His anointing, as we grow up into Him, as we abide in Him, that we are able to partake of the same anointing and the same glory. God does not glorify apostles and prophets and teachers, and other ministries. God did not even glorify the Apostle, or the Prophet, or the Teacher - as He walked on earth. But God "glorified" the Son - because it is only a disciplined son that can truly glorify the Father.
Joh 17:2. "As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him". His priestly ministry is for the Covenant people. He has "power over all flesh" to bring His Covenant people into life. He has power and authority to "subdue all His enemies under His feet" - and one day He shall "put down all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet" (1 Cor. 15:24, 25). We do not press too deeply into an understanding of His future Kingdom, and the glory and the power that will be revealed in that Day. But clearly, He is reigning on His Messianic throne now. If God's people know so very little about His present reign over the earth, and His workings in His people here and now, it is certain that God is not going to give any depth of revelation about things that pertain to the next age - or concerning the ages to come.
Right now He is enthroned with "power over all flesh" to fulfill the New Covenant in His people. He has committed Himself to bring life to a people chosen of the Father and given to the Son as a gift. They are a people who walk in total obedience to His will, even as Jesus did. We try and fail many times because we fail to realize that the obedience God requires is the obedience He provides. It is by "the obedience of One" that we are made righteous (Rom. 5:19). God wants to assure us that it is not our obedience, but His - and that whatever He may require of us, be it great or small - we can only please Him by acknowledging our helplessness, and walking in the obedience of Christ. This spirit of obedience He supplies as we simply take off our shoes, like Joshua of old - and walk in His.
His purpose is to give "eternal life" - and that is what His priestly ministry is all about. And what is eternal life?
Joh 17:3. "And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou has sent". It is good when we are able to step out of the puddle of doctrinal positions, and flow with Christ in the living streams of truth. You can hardly define your doctrines as well as you flow in the Stream, but it is more pure. I mean - theology must always define truth within boundaries, otherwise how is one to keep a hold on it? But a river, the River of Life, though lacking in definitive boundaries, will carry you with its healing streams onward and still onward to the very heart of God. What then, is the doctrine of eternal life? It is not merely eternal existence in Heaven. It is knowing God! This is life eternal, "That they might know Thee". It begins when we receive Him - or rather, when He receives us; but it flows on eternally. We know Him when we first discover Him, like you know the ocean when you wade into the waters along the shore. But you do not really know Him until you begin to explore "the lengths, and the breadths, and the heights, and the depths" of His Being. You do not find Him in books, but in walking with Him (and if books do not help you to walk more closely with Him - better that you do not read them).
Now the Spirit of God comes into our lives to help us explore the vastness of His Being: "For the Spirit searcheth all things, yea the deeps things (the depths) of God" (1 Cor. 2:10). Do not boast that you know God just because you met Him one time. It is good that you met Him. But we only know Him as we become lost in the oceans of His Being. And God will not rest - and Jesus will not have completed His ministry in the heavens - until His people "know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge" and are "filled with (or, unto) all the fulness of God" (Eph. 3:19) (not denying, of course, that it will take eternity to fully comprehend what we are talking about).
Joh 17:4-5. "I have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was". He finished the work of redemption on earth. Now He is about to begin a work in the heavens. He was glorified by the Father for the earthly task. Now He asks for further glorification for the heavenly task, that He might complete that work also. On earth He was the very shining forth of the Father's glory. "And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (Jn. 1:14). But now in Heaven He is so immersed in the Glory, as One absorbed back into the Father from whom He came, that He is seen as the very Ancient of Days Himself, of one and the same substance and likeness:
John saw Him this way: "His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire; and His feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters" (Rev. 1:14, 15). Who was He?
Daniel saw the same One, whom he called "the Ancient of days" -
"And the Ancient of Days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head like pure wool: His throne was like the fiery flame, and His wheels as burning fire" (Dan. 7:9).
Joh 17:6-8. "I have manifested Thy name unto the men which Thou gavest Me out of the world: Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me; and they have kept Thy word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever Thou hast given Me are of Thee. For I have given unto them the words which Thou gavest Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from Thee, and they have believed that Thou didst send Me". It was the Father's name that Jesus came to reveal. He never went about explaining all the various names of Jehovah-God and what they meant. But He did reveal the Name, the nature, the character of all that the great Jehovah-God IS. For He was the revelation, the outshining of the glory of the Father. In all that He did, in all that He said - it was the Father's name and nature and character that He was making known.
Joh 17:9. "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which Thou hast given Me, for they are thine". God's objective is certainly to reach the world with the knowledge of His great salvation; for Christ died "that the world through Him might be saved". And so the churches have recognized God's objective, and are trying their best to fulfill God's objective - but they are slow to walk in God's way. God's way to cause the world to believe is through a people who come into union with Himself - not by organizing a Christian outreach. Christ's more excellent ministry in the heavens is to prepare disciples who will become His representatives in the earth. And so our Lord Jesus prays for His own, not for the world. When He is truly glorified in His own, then of course they will pray for the world into which the Lord sends them. And because of their union with Him they will have a vital, living testimony of the resurrected Lord.
Joh 17:10. "And all mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine; and I am glorified in them." We have already observed that the Father was "glorified in the Son". And now as our High Priest in the heavens He prays that He might be glorified in His people. If there is one thing that is emphasized in John's writings, it is that we are to have the same kind of relationship with the Son through the Holy Spirit, that He had with the Father. "I am glorified in them", Jesus said. The Father had no fear that if He took Christ to a heavenly throne, His work on earth would be interrupted or hindered in any way. For as truly as the Father was glorified in the Son, so now the Son would be glorified in His people in the earth.
Joh 17:11. "And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are". How can we miss what the Lord is saying? How can we so pervert His intention as to make it mean He just wants His people to forget their differences and get together in large congregations and prove to the world that we are one? It is a total perversion of truth to equate "the unity of the Spirit" with ecumenicism, and dialogue between church leaders - with our theologians getting together and seeking out areas of consensus in order to eliminate the divisions in the Church. The unity of the Spirit has nothing to do with that. It is just what it says - becoming one with the Spirit. "That they may be one, as we are".
One with Jesus, as He is one with the Father.
Joh 17:12-16. "While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Thy name: those that Thou gavest Me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. And now come I to Thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have My joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them Thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." The people of God have nothing in common with the world system. That is why they are hated. They cannot cooperate with earth's plans. They are just passing through as "strangers and pilgrims", for they are looking for a different kind of City. They are foreigners to this one, and they disdain earthly entanglements.
This in itself may not cause too much trouble; but while here they are ambassadors from another Country. And it is this witness that causes all the problems. We are here to reprove, to reproach, and to convict those about us of their iniquity - as the Holy Spirit gives forth that clear witness through us. It is this that produces enmity from a world that hates God - a world that may profess that they want God, but they want their idols too. For covetousness is idolatry, according to the apostle Paul (Col. 3:5). And covetousness is not only rampant out there in the world, but is preached and promoted by those who promise wealth, happiness and prosperity to a people who will join the Church, and go along with their worldly systems.
Our present day Christianity is very much a part of the world system. Too often we have "made a covenant" with the inhabitants of the land, rather than destroying their idols - like Israel of old. We grow up from infancy in a society that we consider to be our very own. In many countries where Christianity has flourished it is even taught they are God's specially chosen nation. It is difficult for most Christians to accept the fact that we are at war with this world system. "The whole armour of God" is something we read and teach about; but where is the conflict with the god of this world? The attitude seems to be, "World, leave us alone, and we will leave you alone - let us dwell together in beautiful co-existence". And so the world tolerates us now because we are pretty well one with them. It will be much different when we begin to walk according to the principles of the Kingdom of Heaven. Be assured, people of God, when the Spirit of truth is given His Lordship in our midst, He is going to "reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment" - for this is what He came to do. And the world will hate us for it.
Joh 17:17-19. "Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth. As Thou hast sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth." Jesus is praying for us in the heavenly Sanctuary, that we might be made holy, set apart, consecrated unto Him by the truth. Too often "sanctification" has been made to mean a certain experience you get - and then are apt to lose. Then after seeking God you get "it" again. Now Christ is made unto us "sanctification" - just as He is our "wisdom" and "righteousness" and our "redemption" (1 Cor. 1:30). We are wholly sanctified when Christ is in control of our lives - when He lives and walks in us by His Spirit. It became our heritage when Jesus died on the Cross, once-for-all (Heb. 10:10). And it is an ongoing work of grace in our hearts "by the washing of water by the word" (Eph. 5:26) - and we in turn "sanctify the Lord God in our hearts" (1 Pet. 3:15). Only as we give Him His lordship in our hearts do we live the sanctified life, the life that is totally consecrated unto God. And so Jesus for our sakes has "sanctified" Himself. Did He have to clean up His life from filthiness of the flesh? No! But He who was always pure and clean went still further, and "sanctified Himself". That is, He set Himself apart totally unto the will of the Father.
"Even so have I also sent them into the world". Many churches and mission boards are sending forth their representatives into the world; and we know God is doing a certain work, according to the calling each one has. But when God has prepared for Himself a "sanctified" people - totally separated unto God, and He sends them forth, they will make the same kind of impact upon the world that Jesus did when He was sent from the Father - like His disciples did when they were sent by the Son.
Joh 17:20-21. "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them which shall believe on Me through their word; that they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me".
And so we are included in His high-priestly prayer. And the prayer is very explicit: "That they also may be one in us". It has nothing to do with the slogans we see advertised in great conventions: THAT THEY ALL MAY BE ONE. The only "oneness" that delights the heart of God is oneness with Jesus, oneness with the heart and mind of God - having the same kind of union with the Son that He has with the Father.
Let us take notice: this is God's witness to the world that Jesus is the Son of God. This God's way. And when all of man's efforts to reach the world through mass evangelism and through the facilities of mass-media have failed, God is going to send forth His witnesses to the ends of the earth - so that all the world will know that a Lamb is reigning on the throne of glory. How do I know? Because when God's judgments fall in the earth, the inhabitants of the earth are going to cry to the mountains and rocks to hide them from the wrath of the Lamb. They are going to know that the Lamb has arisen to judge the nations:
"Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb". I wonder if God could pour out the full measure of His wrath before there is that pure and holy witness of the Lamb who reigns on the throne.
Joh 17:22-23. "And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me."
God's people are not made one by ecumenical conclaves, or by large Charismatic conventions, presided over by powerful apostles and prophets. They are made one by the glory of God, by the glory that He placed upon Christ - for this is the glory that He places upon His people. Conferences, dialogues, open communication between Church leaders, getting together in "love" and "praise" and "worship" and trying to solve controversial issues - This has nothing to do with it. It is by God's glory coming to abide in His Temple - the very same glory that took up His habitation in the Lord Jesus, making Him to be the very Temple of God in the earth - making Him to be God's mouthpiece, God's voice, God's revelation of Himself to the hearts of men. But now it is no longer "the fulness of God" in His Son in the earth, but the fulness of God in His "many brethren" - His only begotten always having the preeminence in all things, both now and evermore. Amen!
Made perfect in ONE ...
This is what the ministry from the throne is for. And if "ministry" does not bring this about in the earth, God's purpose in bringing it forth has fallen short of His intention. For the Son of God, exalted at God's right hand in the heavens, is there to bring about this kind of ministry in the earth.
"For the perfecting of the saints,
This is God's revelation of Himself to the world. This is God's witness to the world that the Son was sent from the Father, to redeem the world - and that Jesus now reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords over all things.
Impossible, you say! I know, it is totally impossible with men. That is why God chooses to do it this way, that He alone might be glorified.
Joh 17:24. "Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me; for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world."
We do not deny God's ultimates, just because we emphasize His present workings; and He wants us to be with Him in a very real way - here and now. We anticipate being with Him in future glory; but He also wants us to abide in Him now. "If that which ye have heard shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father" (1 Jn. 2:24). He wants us to abide with Him now - that we might also abide with Him then. Never let us think that if we find our home in God now, that Heaven will have less meaning to us then. The opposite is the truth. It is because the Son of Man dwelt in Heaven while He walked on earth that He was able to pray effectually: "Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was" (Jn. 17:5; see Jn. 3:13).
The future glory of our inheritance will depend upon our appropriation of that glory here and now in this life. There will be degrees of glory over there, for Paul tells us: "There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead" (1 Cor. 15:41, 42). But let us know for sure, that our attainment of the "prize" that Paul talks about is not determined by how much knowledge we have concerning "the high calling of God in Christ Jesus". Rather it is determined by whether or not we have walked in His Way, and have identified with His sufferings.
Joh 17:25-26. "O righteous Father, the world hath not known Thee: but I have known Thee, and these have known that Thou hast sent Me. And I have declared unto them Thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them."
What is the end pursuit, the end hope and longing, the supreme desire of the heart of our great High Priest on the throne?
It is that the same love that the Father had for Christ, and was manifested through Christ, might be in us. And that is why He is so concerned that we walk in His truth. That is why He reveals to us the heart, the mind, the name - the very nature and character of the Father. It is so that in knowing the Father, we might partake of His love in a greater and greater abiding fulness.
Foolish man says, "Forget all those far-out teachings, and let's just love one another". You do not just reach out and lay hold on love as you would on some earthly, tangible thing. You do not grab it out of thin air! You cannot know love until you know God, for God is love. You cannot find love without walking close to Him, learning of Him - learning obedience, taking up your cross, following the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. This is why we must minister the truth and walk in truth. God wants to bring us to Himself, to bring us into His love. You can't just reach out and grasp it like you would a butterfly flitting across your pathway, or like a blade of grass floating on the water. Love is rather the wind itself - the very atmosphere of Heaven which we were born to breathe. Love is the ocean itself, into whose depths we must plunge - and in which we must live - if we are to become a people that are filled with the fulness of God's love.
We have to be re-created in order to become creatures of His love. And the end purpose of Christ abiding in our hearts - as we walk in faith, in obedience, in hope, in patience - is that He might bring us into the fulness of His love. He wants to bring forth a corporate people in the earth, that will be able to comprehend, to apprehend, - to lay hold upon and become lost in the fulness of His love:
"That ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend (lay hold upon) with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with (unto) all the fulness of God." (Eph. 3:17-19).
Don't say, "Let's just have love, and forget the truth" - Don't say, "Let's just have the Temple, and forget the foundation" -
Don't say, "Let's just reap the harvest, and forget the time of sowing" -
Don't say, "Let's just have the apples, and forget the watering, the pruning, the leaves, and the flowers."
It takes the infinite and patient watchcare of the Husband-man in our lives, and the great intercessory work of our High Priest in the heavens, to bring forth in the earth a people who will manifest the very same love that was in Jesus. And our Lord continues to ask the Father to bring forth this kind of people in the earth. For Jesus knows, and He wants us to know, that God's answer to that prayer is God's answer to every human need.
The Urim and Thummim has come to glorious fulness in our High Priest on the throne of glory, and it will yet come to glorious and triumphant fulness in His chosen ones in the earth. The Urim (the lights, the glories, the fires) that encompass the throne and radiate from His face, must yet shine forth in the Thummim (the perfections, the fulness, the completeness of Divine revelation in the earth). Because the Spirit of God is here in the earth to take the excellencies of Christ from the heart of God, and reveal Him to us. And because He is not only URIM in His nature - He is also THUMMIM in His workings. He is not only Light and Fire and Brightness in Heaven - He is also THUMMIM: He brings to fulness, He brings to perfection, He brings to completion the New Covenant that our High Priest mediates before the throne. "For we are His workmanship" - or as one has translated it - "we are His masterpiece", that God has decreed to be the wonder and the glory of His wisdom, not only here in earth, but in the heavens as well (Eph. 2:10; 3:10).
Perhaps never in her history has the Church become more sterile, more worldly, more captivated by worldly principles, more embellished with earth's adornment, as she is today - and yet so devoid of the Glory of God.
Never has she been so well-equipped with earth's resources; and yet never has she been so weak in her witness, so confused in her speech, so idolatrous in her worship, as she is today.
Ten thousand voices cry out from the air-waves, and beam down from the satellites above us - but where is that clear, pure authoritative voice from the heart of God?
All this is going to change; and I think the trumpets of God are beginning to sound. Once again in this day of great apostasy, as in other days of apostasy, God is going to bring forth a pure word from the throne, a sure and certain word from Urim and Thummim, and men will know - this is the Word of the Lord. God could have decreed that Jesus stay in the earth, but He enthroned Him in Heaven. Can we not recognize that God's plan is the very best? And that God's plan was that the Spirit of God would come to take up His habitation in His chosen ones in the earth, to fulfill in them the Covenant that Christ is mediating in the heavens?
Let us be assured that the Holy Spirit can be trusted to complete the work that God has given Him to do in the world and in the Church. We are prone to exalt His gifts; or to exalt His ministers. But the purpose of the gift and the purpose of the ministry is to exalt the Christ. And Christ is only truly glorified when His people come into a living relationship with Him. Jesus said, "I am glorified in them". The ultimate end and purpose of the gift is to bring forth a people who are walking in fellowship with Christ - a people who have learned to "walk in the Spirit". "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God" (Rom. 8:14).
The Holy Spirit is a Guide who is to be trusted. We will never fall into deception if we stay close to Jesus, and walk in the Spirit.
God in ages past committed the seething chaos of a world still unformed to the brooding watchcare of His Spirit, who - as the poet said - "Sat dove-like on the vast abyss, and madest it pregnant".
He it is who scattered the galaxies in the heavens, and who orders their every movement throughout the uncharted reaches of the universe.
He gives the spirit of life to every living creature, ordering their way from the time of birth unto the time of death.
He gives wisdom to the eagle to build her nest in the craggy heights; and to the coney to make her home in the rocks.
He gives wisdom to the ant, to store up her food in the summer, for the day of winter which she does not even know is coming.
He sends forth the locusts in battle, yet they have no king or ruler.
But God's people, since the days of Saul, have been reluctant to put their trust in God, saying, "Give us a king to tell us what to do - to lead us out - and to bring us in."
Man, redeemed by marvelous grace, and washed and cleansed by precious blood, and endowed with the Holy Spirit who comes to abide in our hearts in the fulness of His presence.
Redeemed man, enriched with grace immeasurable, and with the very wisdom of God - yet fears to make the Holy Spirit of God to be his Guide and Interpreter as he walks through the uncharted wilderness of life. He fears to let the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus become the motivating, energizing principle by which he lives. He chooses rather to let the law of some church system, some minister, some apostle or prophet - become the rule by which he lives, and by which he walks.
What are these ministries for? To bring us into this kind of life in the Spirit, that we might walk with God. And if they are not doing that, they are failing to fulfill the function for which God ordained them and set them in the Body of Christ. Their purpose is to feed God's people with truth, that they might simply walk with God in the freedom of the Spirit.
You will not be free from deception - nor will you come to a knowledge of the truth, by studying all the different books on deception that abound in the Church these days. You will only know the truth, and walk in the truth, as you make the Lord Jesus to be Lord of your life, and learn to trust in His Spirit to lead and guide you into all truth. He is a faithful Guide, and one that is to be trusted.
- George H. Warnock -