Journey of the Bride
Beauty For Ashes Part III - George H. Warnock
CHAPTER 1 - AN HOUR OF PREPARATION
"If we are hearing what the Spirit is saying to the churches in this hour, I am sure we are hearing above all else the word, "PREPARE. " It is an hour of preparation. God always prepares His people when He is about to do some new thing... and a "new thing" He is doing in the earth at this time.
Let us not get disturbed at the thought that God might be doing something new. Let us not think that our God has exhausted His resources, as some would have us believe, when they tell us that God never does anything new. He has always been doing new things. From the time He placed man on the earth, and unto this day, He has been reaching into His own heart of wisdom and knowledge and truth and bringing forth new things. For "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of men, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit" (1 Cor. 2:9,10). Has our God finally expended all His treasures of wisdom and knowledge upon His people, so that now at this late hour He has nothing more to say or do but to bring forth the old? Certainly we appreciate how God has worked of old, but the true steward of the mysteries of God will continue to bring forth from his treasures "things new and old"... for God is a God who reserves His very best for the last, and He bids us now to buy of Him "eyesalve to anoint our eyes, that we might see"--that we might see and behold new workings, new unfoldings of His purposes, new insights into His ways, new glimpses of His glory and presence.
"Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them" (Is. 42:9).
"Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it?" (Is. 43:19).
There is an old adage: "If itís new, itís not true... If itís true, itís not new..."
But donít be so foolish as to apply that to the "spiritual world," and to things pertaining to the Kingdom of Heaven; for God will continue to do new things in His people until He is able to "rest in His love" and find total delight and satisfaction in the people whom He has created for His own glory.
When we speak of "new things" of course, we mean they are new to Godís people in the earth. Every new working of God in the earth is certainly a repeat of many things He has done before. For God will consistently seek to bring us back to the old paths, back to "first love," back to the Word, back to what He said in His dealings with former generations. But in doing so His desire is to bring us back to the path from which we have gone astray, that He might lead us forward into new areas of exploration in God that we have never known before. For His intention is to bring His people into the fullness of the desire of His heart, and not merely to bring us back to that measure of attainment and fulfillment that our fathers knew in their generation. Godís people are always inclined to fall short. Godís burden is always that we "go on" from where others have left off. And in doing "new things" He prepares His people afresh to make new advances into the Kingdom of God until they come to that measure of completeness, and maturity, and perfection... the standard for which is nothing less than "the stature of Christ" (Eph. 4:13).
What then is God doing in His people? God uses many different kinds of illustrations to describe what He is doing in His own, and briefly we will name some of them. He is preparing a Body, in which He will be glorified as the Head, with every member fitly framed and joined together: "members in particular," yet but "one Body."
He is building a Temple, not made with hands, as a habitation for Himself by the Spirit.
He has planted a Garden, and He, the Husbandman, waits patiently "for the precious fruit of the earth."
He is mobilizing an Army, that will be clothed upon with the whole armor of God, and that will go forth in the Day of the Lord, in total triumph and victory.
He is preparing gold and silver vessels for the House of God, refined and precious in His sight, to carry the incense and the oil and the fragrance of His presence to the world about us.
He is perfecting Sons, in His own image and likeness, that they, like their elder Brother, might be a delight to His heart, and the expression of His own glory in the earth.
And He continues to cleanse and to purge and to adorn a holy Bride for His Son, that she might share that intimate union and relationship with Him for which His heart longs.
Now all these things which we have mentioned are really one thing-but each in its own way depicts and shows forth its own peculiar reflection of the glory of God, which is many sided and varied in its composite fullness.
One Thing Have I Desired
As humans we are very inquisitive creatures. We would like to know so many things. And that is why in our search after knowledge the Church has become very much encumbered with doctrines and theories and ideas about Godís plans and purposes. But if indeed we are truly searching after the living Truth, sooner or later we must come to the realization that only "one thing is needful," and that is that we might sit at the feet of the Lord Jesus and hear His Word, and then walk by His side.
God bring us to this "one thing," that with David we might say,"One thing have I desired of the Lord,
That will I seek after;
That I might dwell in the House of the Lord
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD,
And to inquire in His temple" (Ps. 27:4).
For these are not really three things, but ONE thing in its three dimensions: to dwell in Godís House --for it is there that we would see His beauty, and it is there that we will be able to inquire of Him concerning His ways.
In vain do we talk about the House of God and the Temple of God, if the beauty of His Presence is not there. And if He is truly there our inquiry will have nothing to do with inquisitiveness about irrelevant things; but our inquiry will center entirely about Him, and His ways, and the desire of His heart for His people.
God, we pray, so deal with us in this hour that we will be concerned, like Mary of Bethany, or like David the shepherd of Israel, with only "one thing"; for "one thing is needful," and that is that we might sit at the feet of Jesus and hear what He has to say to our inquiring hearts.
When Does Our Lord Return?
God take away from our hearts that carnal delight we have for calculating dates and times and schedules, which God has re served in His own heart... and cause us to be a people who are watching and waiting and looking for Him. Are we looking for the "second coming"... or do we watch and wait and look for Him? Are we looking for a climactic event to take place? Or are we longingly waiting for Him?
God tells us specifically enough when our Lord is coming, and if we would hear what He is saying, we would be ready and prepared to receive Him when He appears. He is not coming merely because time is running out.He comes rather when the purpose of His heavenly ministry has been accomplished, and the people for whose sake He ministers in the heavenly sanctuary are prepared and adorned to receive Him.
He comes to be "glorified in the saints"... in a Body that is thoroughly joined and knit together, and has come "unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13).
He comes to inhabit a Temple, a temple not made with hands, a temple that has been "builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit" (Eph. 2:22).
He comes as refinerís fire, and as fullersí soap... to purge the sons of Levi, as gold and silver is purged... that they might be holy vessels in the House of God, "that they might offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness" (Mal. 3:3).
He comes for a holy Bride... a Bride that is worthy of the Bridegroom, a Bride that is His own complement, His counterpart, His fullness, His completeness. But notice this: she is going to be ready! She is going to be prepared! She is not going to be kidnapped the way she is, unaware of what is happening. "For the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife HATH MADE HERSELF READY" (Rev. 19:7).
And therefore, because He comes for this kind of a people, He is now sending forth into the earth this kind of Word-to prepare this kind of a people. The servants of God who are hearing what the Spirit is saying, are declaring a living Word in the earth; and it is this living Word that is preparing His people to receive Him. His Word, His living Word, is that which makes us ready!
That is why He speaks very explicitly to the hearts of His people in the day and hour when He arises in the earth to do a new thing. It is not something that His servants have imagined out of their own hearts. It is something that originates in the heart of God. It is His intention and His desire to bring it into being, and therefore He declares it. He speaks it forth. He knows that His Word is creative in its working, and nothing that He says can fail to come to pass, and so He speaks it forth. "For with God nothing shall be impossible" (Luke 1:37). This is what the angel said to Mary concerning the birth of her Son-something that was totally impossible as far as she could understand. And so He told her, and I believe this is a more literal translation: "No Word of God shall be void of power."
The Power Of The New Covenant
Right here let us reaffirm again that the living Word of the New Covenant is not in any sense a mere expression of what God would like His people to do. Such was the Old Covenant; but the New Covenant is a living Word sent forth from His heart to create, to bring into being, the desire of His heart. Surely if we recognize it in this light it ought to put our hearts and minds at rest, as far as the outworking of the Word is concerned. We are not reiterating some old law, clothed with New Covenant terminology. If we are truly speaking the words which "the Holy Ghost teacheth" then it is a living, creative Word that "proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord," and it comes to pass simply and only because the Lord hath spoken it to obedient hearts. It is not our idea, our concept of doctrine, our opinion... If it is that, nothing more will come of it. But if Godís servants are truly speaking a living Word that they hear from the throne, then that Word will bring into being that which God has declared. We who believe God seemingly have no difficulty in believing that when God spoke with creative voice in the beginning, the thing that He spoke sprang into being. When God simply declared, "Let there be light," light shone forth out of darkness, because in the Word that He spoke there was a creative power behind what He said. Can we not believe that the same God who spoke in ages past is now speaking in New Covenant, new creation power... once again to bring into manifestation and expression the light and the glory that is inherent within Himself?
"For God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6).
How can we fail to see the true nature of the New Covenant, when we meditate upon this one principle of truth. It is not an exhortation to try to live like Jesus, to try to enter into His glory, to try to shine. It is rather a living, creative Word that CAUSES us to shine with the light of His glory, because He has spoken. It is not a living Word when I teach it, or quote the Scripture. It is only a living, creative Word when the same God who spoke it in ages past speaks it again here and now by His Spirit, to our benighted souls. It is only a living Word when Godís servants hear what the Spirit is saying and speak it forth in "words which the Holy Ghost teacheth."
The Predetermined Ways Of The Lord
God wants to assure us that He has ordained our pathway before us. We must know this if we are
to find peace in the wilderness journeys of life. As we come to know this we find assurance in the fact that He has gone before
us, and that He knows the way that He has determined for us to walk in. This is the simple meaning of that very "scary"
word, "predestination." It simply means that He has marked out our pathway for us ahead of time... and His intention
was a good one: "That we might be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren"
(Rom. 8:29). The doctrine only becomes "scary" when it becomes theological. The believing, trusting heart knows for sure
that whatever God does will be right. When we say in our hearts, "God cannot do that, because that would not be right,"
we are setting up our concept of righteousness above the knowledge and the wisdom of God. God in this declaration is simply telling
all those who love Him that He has gone before, and has marked out the pathway in which He would have us walk... and that His
intention in leading us this way is to "conform" us to "the image of His Son"! Can we not rejoice in that,
and leave the arguments with the theologians? Or must we argue the pros and cons of a very controversial doctrine, in a vain
attempt to satisfy our carnal minds with a doctrinal concept... and all the while our souls are left dry, and our hearts and
minds confused? God knows our way, because He has predetermined it. As the way becomes distressing, and turbulent,
the man of faith and patience will find strength and courage in knowing that God is there in the midst of it all, working all things
together for our good and for His own glory. In knowing that He knows, the man in trial begins to anticipate the good that God
intends to bring out of it, as Job did. In his trial he looked desperately for God, everywhere and in all directions, but couldnít
seem to find Him.
"Behold, I go forward, but He is not there;
And backward, but I cannot perceive Him:
On the left hand, where He doth work,
But I cannot behold Him:
He hideth Himself on the right hand,
That I cannot see Him" (Job 23:8, 9).
God wants to assure us that He has ordained our pathway before us. We must know this if we are to find peace in the wilderness journeys of life. As we come to know this we find assurance in the fact that He has gone before us, and that He knows the way that He has determined for us to walk in. This is the simple meaning of that very "scary" word, "predestination." It simply means that He has marked out our pathway for us ahead of time... and His intention was a good one: "That we might be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren" (Rom. 8:29). The doctrine only becomes "scary" when it becomes theological. The believing, trusting heart knows for sure that whatever God does will be right. When we say in our hearts, "God cannot do that, because that would not be right," we are setting up our concept of righteousness above the knowledge and the wisdom of God. God in this declaration is simply telling all those who love Him that He has gone before, and has marked out the pathway in which He would have us walk... and that His intention in leading us this way is to "conform" us to "the image of His Son"! Can we not rejoice in that, and leave the arguments with the theologians? Or must we argue the pros and cons of a very controversial doctrine, in a vain attempt to satisfy our carnal minds with a doctrinal concept... and all the while our souls are left dry, and our hearts and minds confused?
God knows our way, because He has predetermined it. As the way becomes distressing, and turbulent, the man of faith and patience will find strength and courage in knowing that God is there in the midst of it all, working all things together for our good and for His own glory. In knowing that He knows, the man in trial begins to anticipate the good that God intends to bring out of it, as Job did. In his trial he looked desperately for God, everywhere and in all directions, but couldnít seem to find Him.
How many are going through the tedious pathways of exploration, hoping to find God? Boldly stepping forth into new challenges of faith, but not finding God. Or going back to the old ways, which were good in their season... and when God was blessing- Ösaying, "Did I miss God, I wonder, by not staying where I was?" Or, God seems to be really working over there... I will go there and find Him. Surely I shall find Him if I go where He is working. But I go there, and He is not to be found. He is neither there on my left hand nor on my right. Where then do we find Him? Right there where Job found Him. Right there in the place of trial and testing. Right there on the ash pile where he sat and bemoaned his plight. But it was right there in his predicament that he found grace and courage to say...
"He knoweth the way that I take: When He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold"
He must yet undergo a lot of trial, and a lot of confusion as to the ways of the Lord. But at least he was beginning to see what God was doing. He understood that Godís intention was good: HE WANTS TO BRING FORTH THE GOLD! AND THIS IS HIS WAY OF DOING IT!
Now in this writing we are dealing in particular with the Bride of Christ, and her preparation and journey to the heart of God. The basis of our remarks will be in Genesis 24, as we consider the story of Isaac and Rebekah, and how beautifully it portrays Christ, and the preparation of His Bride. But we are going to put a lot of emphasis on the part of Abrahamís servant, and we will see how precisely he obeyed his master; and then how God so beautifully ties everything together according to His own plan and purpose, when the servant did what he was supposed to do... no more, and no less.
Chapter 2 - The Burden of Abraham's Servant
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