Journey of the Bride
Beauty For Ashes Part III - George H. Warnock
CHAPTER 2 - THE BURDEN OF ABRAHAM'S SERVANT
"And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh: and I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell: but thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac" (Gen. 24:24).
The eldest servant was Abrahamís steward; he had all of Abrahamís possessions in his care. Now Godís stewards are simply those to whom the Lord has entrusted the treasures of His wisdom and knowledge for the instruction and the maturing of the people of God, so as to enable them to walk in His ways. Godís true steward-servants are those who bring forth from their treasures "things new and old." Things that God has given them, and revealed to them by His Spirit. They are not sent of Him to unravel the philosophies of Plato and Socrates, or the hidden mysteries of the occult realm. They are appointed to relate to Godís people the secrets of God, which no one can relate and no one can receive except as they are illuminated by the Holy Spirit. Abrahamís servant had nothing of his own; but he had all of Abrahamís possessions under his watchful care. Jesus said, "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you" (Jn. l5:15). Godís true servants are not "slaves" by calling, as the word "doulos" implies. They are the friends of God. Nevertheless they are "friends" who walk in such a love-relationship with Him that they become, in their own eyes and in their own estimation, the "bondslaves" of love and truth. Not until they come to this kind of commitment do they know anything about real freedom, and much less about taking charge of Godís House or of His treasures. True authority in the House of God does not spring from the authority of the ministry one has. It springs rather from a true and loving bondslave relationship with the Father. If this relationship is not there, the authority will be "authoritarian" by nature, rather than a ministration of love and truth which brings the discipline and the order of the Law of the Spirit into loving and meaningful expression in the House of God.
Now I think it is evident that in the higher sense the servant of Abraham represents the Holy Spirit, whose mission it is to prepare a Bride for Christ. But what we so often forget is the fact that the Holy Spirit dwells in Godís servants in the earth, making them to be true and faithful servants of God, that He might live in them, speak through them, and work through them. Godís servants, therefore, become the visible instruments in the earth who are responsible and held accountable before God to faithfully speak His words in the earth, that will procure this holy Bride for Christ. Without this faithful ministration of His servants in the earth this holy Bride cannot be prepared; and so Paul could say to the Corinthian church: "For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy; for I have espoused you to one Husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ" (2 Cor. 11:2).
Notice what he said: "My jealousy over you is Godís very own jealousy... I have espoused you to one HusbandÖ I want to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." Some who are strong on the idea of rulership over the people have coined the phrase, "the husband ministry," relative to the apostles and prophets and teachers in the Church. This is totally wrong. True ministry will never meddle with oneís individual, intimate relationship with the Lord; but with Godís zeal and jealousy will so minister Christ that the believerís love-relationship with Him will become more and more pronounced. As this relationship continues to grow and to be strengthened, so will the cords which once seemed to bind the immature child of God to some outstanding minister begin to snap. God never intended that these cords of ministry should be anything more than cords of respect and love because of the help they receive; and these cords must be replaced, in the fullness of Godís working in our lives, with the all-encompassing cords of true love that bind our hearts to Him that loved us, and to all of Godís people who are loved of Him. The weaned child must eventually become a son or daughter in Fatherís House, and grow unto maturity under the guidance of spiritual fathers and mothers, until one day they themselves may be able to feed and nourish others. True fathers in Godís House will anticipate the day when the children shall have grown unto maturity, and become equal with them in their apprehension of Truth, and in their personal relationship with the Father above. The true servant does not, because of the office he may hold, command the submission and respect of the people of God in virtue of that office. That respect and submission ought to be there if the immature ones are truly desirous of growing in the ways of the Lord. But that servant of the Lord who feeds them and seeks to nurture them in the ways of the Lord will be happy and blessed when the one he feeds with Truth rises up in the stature of the Lord and begins to feed others. Even that elder pastor or that elder teacher or that elder prophet, or apostle, will find himself sitting at the feet of one whom he has instructed in the ways of the Lord, to receive instruction from him, and rejoicing in the maturity that he sees beginning to develop in one much younger than himself.
When God ordained the casting of lots for the ministry of song in the House of the Lord, He made no distinction between "the small and the great," or between "the teacher and the scholar." So does God harmonize the expression of the living Christ in the House of God. He, the Master musician, knows how to strike-the chords of many hearts as they assemble together to behold the beauty of the Lord. And with the striking of the chords in hearts that are in tune with Him... whether they be "great or small," whether they be "teacher or scholar"... ONE SOUND is heard in the congregation of the Lord, as it was in the early days of the ministry of song in Solomonís Temple. (See 2 Chron. 5:13.) The harmonious strains of the Lord will find a response in the hearts of Godís people no matter what instrument may be used; and many voices will blend together as they are orchestrated by the Holy Spirit to magnify and to glorify the Lord Jesus in our midst.
Our modern musicians in the Church are masters at this, as far as their musical talent is concerned. But we are not talking about that. For the musical instruments in the Temple were themselves but types of the people of God, who are fine tuned by the Holy Spirit, and who become very sensitive to the fingers of God as He plays upon the strings of their heart, and causes them to show forth in the congregation of the Lord some aspect of the glory of Christ for which the Spirit has tuned them true to His own heart, and set them in the Body as "members in particular."
Would God that His people would have the same diligence to be tuned into God and His truth, as they are to have their musical instruments tuned to the sensitive ears of the musicians. Then we would have a vital expression of the Body of Christ in the earth, showing forth the praises of the Lord. Without that expression of Christ in our midst, our musical renditions become mere entertainment, and serve only to soothe the hearts of Godís people, rather than to pierce them with the Sword of the Spirit. Without that expression of Christ in our midst, the beautiful music must sound like "clanging cymbals" or like "sounding brass" in the ears of the Lord. And the heart that is soothed by the beautiful music of the minstrel will soon be lulled to sleep, rather than awakened to hear the clear, pure Word of the Lord. I fear it is happening in our churches, as happened in the days of the prophet:
"And lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that bath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not" (Ezek. 33:32).
We are talking about the burden that Abraham laid upon his servant. Abraham knew what he wanted, and he knew what God wanted; and we can be sure it was God who put it into his heart to set in motion the plan that would bring into being the desire of His own heart. Abraham would not have to personally take that long and arduous journey to Mesopotamia. His trusted servant could do the job as well as he; for this servant had been with Abraham these many years, and he had come to know the heart of Abraham, as well as the heart of Abrahamís God. This was a matter of vital importance. Through Abraham and through Isaac "all nations were to be blessed" . . and Isaacís bride must be "elect according to the foreknowledge of God."
Throughout the whole story the servant remains the unnamed servant. Some assume it was Eliezer; but this we do not know. By the time we come to Genesis 24, it is at least 54 years from the time Eliezer was last mentioned. And so we are simply going to call him "the servant" or "the man" as the Bible does. His name is not to be held in reverence, nor are the names of Godís servants today. His mission is to honor the name of Abraham and of Isaac, and to procure a worthy bride for his master. He was not to get any glory out of this, except the glory one has when, by the ministry of the Spirit, he is enabled to impart the glory of God to others, and through this to glorify and exalt the Name of the Lord Jesus. Paul was able to say of the Thessalonians, "For ye are our glory and joy" (1 Thess. 2:20). Why? Because in ministering Christ to them it was Christ that was honored and Christ that was glorified, and that was the total purpose of his ministry. "Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?" (1 Cor. 3:5). Yet even as he would "downgrade" himself as it were, he had no hesitation in saying that he was a "steward" in the House of God.
Stewards Of The Mysteries
"Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God" (1 Cor. 4:1). The mysteries of God are the secrets of God, and Paul was entrusted with many of these. As a Pharisee he knew the Scriptures very well, but he had not learned Godís secrets. He certainly honored the Scriptures as the Word of God; but he made it clear that he did not come to an understanding of Godís "secrets" through an intellectual research of the truth, but by the "revelation" of the Spirit. (See 1 Cor. 2:12-14; Gal. 1:12.) It was all there in the Old Testament, at least in seed-form; but he could not see it until God revealed to him His secrets. What he received was not foreign to the Scriptures, but it was so hidden away in the letter of the Word that no man could see it unless God unveiled it. For instance, who would consider this to be a valid interpretation of Scripture: that the "seed of Abraham" was really the Christ Himself? Only the Holy Spirit could reveal something like that; and even our most fundamental Christian teachers are slow to accept it: THAT THE PROMISES TO ABRAHAM WERE TO THE SEED, WHICH IS CHRIST, AND NOT TO UNREGENERATE ISRAELITES. (See Gal. 3:16.) And again, it is said by the Holy Spirit that Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek... because Abraham, Leviís great-grandfather had done so. What kind of logic is that? it is the logic of the Spirit of God. (See Heb. 7:9, 10.) He alone can reveal secrets like this that are hidden away in the letter of the Word. He alone is able to break open the shell, and bring forth the kernel. He alone can clothe the Word with life, that it becomes living bread to the hungry heart. The living Word is there... hidden away in the shell... but only the Holy Spirit can make it to be bread for the hungry, and refreshing water to him that is thirsty and dry.
Now if we profess to be partakers of the "secrets of God," let us be assured that we can only minister those secrets by the Holy Spirit; and if He does not break open the shell and show them to us... they will not minister life to our own hearts, or to the hearts of the people with whom we seek to share them. For this reason a great deal of discipline is required in the lives of those who are "stewards of the mysteries of God." God does not place us under oath, as Abraham did with his servant... and we can be thankful for that; for He knows only too well that we would at one time or another become guilty of perjury. But let us be sure of this:
If God reveals His eternal secrets to us, our obligation to faithfully relate the words of God to His people is just as exacting, and perhaps more so, than if we were called upon to swear by God or His throne that we would do what He said.
In this writing we are putting a lot of emphasis upon the servant-ministry, because it is very evident that they are largely to blame for the lack of true spiritual life in the people of God. I believe that God is in this hour seeking out for Himself a trusted and tried servant-ministry that will faithfully minister the truth to His people; for God is very jealous for His own Nameís sake that He have a Bride truly like Himself truly worthy of Him, truly compatible with Him. Let the awesomeness of the oath of God that Abraham laid upon his servant, strike all of our hearts with the sense of our responsibility before God and His people in this awesome hour. There is a holy Bride out there that God is grooming for His Son. And there is a fresh Word going forth from the heart of God that will prepare and procure this holy Bride for Christ. Long has the Church realized that the Holy Spirit will be faithful to present this chaste virgin to Christ. But how little have we recognized that He sends forth this cleansing, purifying Word through the lips of trusted, tried, cleansed, and purged vessels in the House of God.
I believe God is bringing forth a new ministry in the Church to bring forth this fresh, cleansing stream from the House of God. I am not referring to a new kind of clergy. I am referring to a true corporate ministry that is arising in the Body of Christ that will be one with the people of God... and together, one with the Holy Spirit. God never intended the special ministries of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, to be on an elevated plane, above the people. The clergy-laity system in the Church must disappear. God never gave these ministries to the Church to create a class-system in the Church. As truly as the five loaves and the two fishes were taken into the hands of the Master, and broken together in His hands... and then distributed to the disciples and from there to the famishing crowds... so the ministry and the people must be broken together in the hands of Christ if there is to be broken bread for a Church and a world in need. In all of the teaching that abounds in the Church today concerning the Body of Christ we see very little beyond a class system... a clergy type of ministration to a people who are content to just sit and listen. Oftentimes the people will exalt and idolize the one who stands before them, with very little thought that they are supposed to be a part of the ministration of the Spirit... that they must so partake of Christ for themselves, that they might become a living expression of the Christ in His corporate Body. Now it is clearly stated in the Word what the special ministries are for... if we may use that word "special."
"For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ" (Eph. 4:12). Read it slowly: It is to perfect and equip the people of God that they may effectually minister to, and build up the Body of Christ. The "five-fold ministry" then is intended of the Lord to so bring forth this living Word that every member, as a "member in particular," may become a vital expression of Christ in our midst. It is not just to prepare a few elders and deacons to minister under the authority of a pastor, but to so impart Christ to the Body that each member will have his own vital ministration of the Spirit to share with the rest of the Body.
But notice this: it is the lack of this kind of expression in the Body that is responsible for the schisms that exist, and that are becoming more and more frequent in the Church:
"But God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another" (1 Cor. 13:24, 25).
Did you hear what God says is causing the schisms in the Body? That unruly member? That ambitious elder? These problems may exist; but God says it is because there are members that sit there in the congregation, lacking that abundant honor that God would lay upon them... so that they might be enabled to minister Christ, as a "member in particular." We are not talking about ministering in the ecclesiastical sense; but a people so honored of the Lord with the "honor" that He places upon them, that out from their lives there comes forth a reflection of the living Christ in the midst of His people. It causes them to exercise a "care" for the flock of God... a care that removes the schisms, and that brings a healing to the Body of Christ. It could manifest itself in many, many ways: in prayers and intercessions, in exhortations, in ministrations of mercy, in physical and spiritual healings, in helps of one kind and another. God says it is this "abundant honor" from Christ that will remove the schisms, and heal the Body. Until this happens, it matters not how many wonderful prophets and apostles and teachers might be in the Church establishing church "order," and setting up "New Testament churches." If there is not that ministration of the Spirit that nurtures the saints of God and makes them to be a vital "Member in particular," we are not going to see this kind of healing in the Body of Christ that God intends. Of course we cannot manufacture this kind of ministration in the members of the Body of Christ. God must do it by His Spirit. But the true servants of the Lord will cherish this vision, and will earnestly seek the Lord that the "honor" He alone can bestow may come upon the whole congregation, that "there be no schism in the Body... that the members should have the same care one for another."
The Nature Of The Oath
As we know, an "oath" is intended to attach great significance and importance to a covenant, lest it be taken lightly. This matter of ministering the Truth is no light thing in the sight of God. God does not ask His servants to take an oath in ministry, for it would only bring greater condemnation upon us in times of failure. He nevertheless bears witness to all that we say and do, and He is not at all pleased with this professional type of minis try in the Church that functions not too differently from our political parties in the world... in setting up one, and putting down another, according to the popular will of the people. This democratic system of government has no place in the House of God. God has always been faithful to give leadership according to His own will, if the people are really minded to go His way. But when the time comes that Godís will is no longer considered to be of utmost importance, He simply withdraws from it all and allows man to run it his way. Oh, He may continue to bless His people, as He did under Saul; but it is not His way, and in due course it must all come crashing down. His blessing in the midst of a politically oriented church structure is in no sense a token of His pleasure in what they are doing. It is rather another example of His grace and mercy to a disobedient people. Forty long years God blessed His people in the wilderness... but when it was all over, God Himself testified that He was "grieved" with that generation who "erred in their heart" and who did not come to know His ways (Ps. 95:10).
Abrahamís servant took the oath, but not without some misgivings. What if the one he found for Isaac was not willing to take the journey? Would he then be permitted to take Isaac back to that land, to receive his bride? The answer was "No"... he was not to do that. But with that answer Abraham, with confidence in God, was able to assure the servant that if he was faithful to follow the instructions he was giving him, then God would be faithful to find a bride that would be willing to take the journey.
The commitment of a faithful servant to minister Truth explicitly according to the will of God, is the servantís assurance that God will be faithful to watch over that Word, and bring it to pass.
God help us all in this matter of commitment. It is no light thing to say, "Lord, I will follow you... I will go your way... I will do your will." For as surely as we are apprehended of God with a desire to do His will, the assurance that we are walking in His will becomes more and more pronounced in all that we do. Is there first of all a genuine, fervent desire to do as He says? Or is there that lingering mixture of selfish desire? "I will follow you, Lord, but FIRST I want to do this... or that..." (See Luke 9:59-61.) How many conditions do we attach to our commitments, knowingly or unknowingly? As long as these conditions are there we are not going to discover the positive assurance that we must have in our walk with Him as we seek to walk beneath the unclouded skies of His favor and presence. But as our commitment is purged from all conditions, and our desires purified from all selfish pursuits, more and more will we discover His faithfulness in causing us to make the right judgments, and to walk in the perfect ways of the Lord.
Jesus was able to say, "I can of Mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and My judgment is just; because I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me" (Jn. 5:30). His commitment to the will of God so apprehended His inner-most being that He had positive assurance that what He said was right... what He judged was right. He would pray, and He knew the Father would hear Him always. He would speak, and He knew it was the Father speaking. He would work, and He knew the Father would be there to perform what the Father had in mind. Notice this: He did not claim to be right, and to judge aright, because He was an apostle or a prophet, or because He was the Messiah, BUT BECAUSE HE EARNESTLY DESIRED TO DO THE FATHERíS WILL, RATHER THAN HIS OWN. "Because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent Me."
So it was that Abrahamís servant went forth on a long journey under oath to do what Abraham had said... nothing more, and nothing less. He had the assurance from his master, "You do what I am adjuring you to do, and God will show you favor, and do what you cannot do. He will lead you in the right way; He will guide you to the right place; and you will be assured that the one that God has chosen for Isaac will be the right one... a bride compatible and worthy of my son, and willing to follow you on the journey home."
Chapter 3 - God's Sovereign Choice of the Bride
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