Journey of the Bride
Beauty For Ashes Part III - George H. Warnock
CHAPTER 7 - INTERACTION OF THE HEAVENLY WITH THE EARTHLY
Again we must reflect upon the emphasis given in the Scriptures as to the interaction of the heavenly with the earthly, and how the earthly is prepared of God for this kind of Divine coincidence. Only then is it a coincidence by Divine arrangement, rather than an accidental coincidence. If we could only realize, in all of our zeal and excitement for action, that God is desiring to tame our spirits to wait before Him that He might meet with us along the Emmaus Road of our tangled lives, and walk with us the rest of the Way. The memories of wilderness wanderings, of fruitless endeavors, and of shattered dreams; these all dissolve in a moment when the Stranger joins us along the Way, and gives us words of assurance: "It is necessary that these things should have happened... if the Word is to be fulfilled... if the glory of God is to be revealed." And then in looking back we can find that same assurance that Joseph would give his brethren when he revealed himself to them in their moment of great distress and perplexity: "You are not to be angry at yourselves for your part in bringing about this desolation... it was God who ordained it for His own purposes, to bring about a great deliverance in the time of famine."
When we are committed to walk in the ways of the Lord we can always be assured that there will be that convergence of the heavenly with the earthly, at some point along our pathway. As we walk in His way, it must be a walk of faith... believing where we cannot see; and we must confidently expect that He will do what we know only He can do, to bring order and fruitfulness out of seeming barrenness and futility. It is the story of Abraham, of Joseph, of Naomi, of David, and of His saints in all ages whose lives counted for God and redounded to His glory. They walked in Godís way... often with much perplexity... often not being positively assured it was the way of the Lord; but out of love and devotion to Him they continued on... waiting, longing, hoping for Him. And never were they disappointed; never were they put to shame. Somewhere along the way God would come forth and assure them that He had been with them all along... that His purpose in hiding His face was not to leave them desolate, but that they might learn of Him, and be a vessel approved in the fire.
Abraham had learned through years of experience that it was God who had been faithfully weaving the garment of His own purposes in his life, and he was assured that He would be faithful to bring those purposes to a conclusion. He would not find it necessary to take this arduous trip into Mesopotamia; but he had faith to leave the matter in the hands of his trusted servant. This true servant felt at once the great privilege, as well as the awesomeness of the responsibility that was laid upon him... and earnestly sought God for guidance.
At the other end of the picture in a far away land we see how God had been preparing this chosen bride, even from her birth, and had been cultivating in her life those qualities that she must have for her role as the mother of many nations, and in becoming one of the greatest of all the great grandmothers of the Lord Jesus. In those early days she did not need to know what her role was to be. Nor do we need to know a great deal about the distinctive role that God has for each of us. It is enough that we learn to love the ways of God, and to walk in obedience, in trust, in honor, in truth, in love, in patience. Then we shall be walking in the right way, and God will be waiting for us there in the pathway of time to visit us with a still greater measure of His presence when the times are ripe, to bring about His own creative handiwork.
"For We Are His Handiwork"
In times of stress and of pressure we are tempted to take matters into our own hands. But in doing so we are very apt to spoil the beautiful picture that God is painting by His artistic fingers. But may we find grace to leave it all in His hands. Then do we become a part of the picture, rather than the amateur artist. Let us be assured of this: this beautiful handiwork of the Master is not perfected by what we are doing for God, but by what He is doing in us. "For we are His workmanship [or, ĎHis masterpiece, His handiworkí] created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:10). Do we hear what He is saying? The "good works" that are accomplished for Him are those works that He has ordained for us to do. OUR RESPONSIBILITY THEN IS TO SO WALK WITH HIM THAT WE KNOW HIS WILL, AND DO WHAT HE SAYS, AND NOT TO MEDDLE WITH HIS PLAN AND PURPOSE. It is only when you and I come to that place where we have a hearing ear, and a faithful heart that His eternal purposes are accomplished. But once we assume it is our duty and responsibility to bring Godís purpose into being, we immediately frustrate that purpose... by walking in our own ingenious ways, vainly hoping that Godís plan will emerge from it all. God has a beautiful plan for meeting the needs of men, and sending forth a light that will reach all nations. He tells us a little about it... enough to give us vision and hope: for example, His prayer to the Father just prior to His death and resurrection: "That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be ONE IN US: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me" (Jn. 17:21). It is so wonderful to know that. But what folly to think He is trying to encourage you and me to bring about this unity in the Body of Christ. Only He can do that. We do have a responsibility... but it is not to try to fulfill Godís plan. IT IS TO SO WALK WITH HIM IN OBEDIENCE AND IN FAITHFULNESS THAT IN THIS PATHWAY OF GOD HE MIGHT COME FORTH AND JOIN US TOGETHER WITH OTHERS WHO ARE WALKING IN THE SAME PATHWAY OF OBEDIENCE AND OF TRUTH. If we could but forsake our ideas to bring together the Body of Christ, and LEARN OBEDIENCE TO HIS WILL FOR OUR LIVES, we would very quickly see this Divine convergence, this Divine coincidence... of a people in the earth apprehended by the powers of the Kingdom of Heaven. We do nothing more than spoil the picture, when we think "our part" is to take up the brush, and apply the pigment to the canvas... and somehow try to complete the picture that we know God wants to produce in the lives of His people.
Nothing that God has ever done... nothing that He will ever do... can compare to the masterpiece that He is bringing forth in His Church, His holy Bride. All other things were created by the Word of His mouth; but this His masterpiece, has cost God everything He has... everything He is. For He poured His very self into the earth, and shed His blood... that we poor, helpless, weak, and sinful creatures might be transformed by the genius of His love and wisdom and creative power, into the crowning masterpiece of His creation; and to reveal in us, and through us to the world as well as to the celestial realms, the greatness of His glory, not only in this age, but in the ages to come:
"To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by (through) the Church, the manifold wisdom of God" (Eph. 3:10).
"That in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:7).
First, The Betrothal... Then Jezreel
"And I will betroth thee unto Me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto Me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto Me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD. And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear saith the LORD, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; and the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel. And I will sow her unto Me in the earth" (Hos. 2:19-23).
Now Jezreel means "God will sow." And what is it that He is going to sow in the earth? The Bride! "And I will sow her unto Me in the earth..." That is why He created her... to be sown in the earth. To be raptured into His presence, and to be forever with the Lord? Yes! And we greatly anticipate that glorious Day... and to abide with Him forever in His eternal glory. --But Godís purpose is first of all to SOW HER IN THE EARTH, for He will continue to reproduce her kind in the earth for the delight and satisfaction of His own heart. The promise that was given to Rebekah was that she should be "the mother of thousands of millions," or more literally, "the mother of thousands and of tens of thousands" (Gen. 24:60). But all this starts with a betrothal unto the Lord, and with a people who walk in "faithfulness" to her Husband. It starts in the heavens, and there is an interaction in the earth with those who hear His voice, and faithfully react to what He is saying. This interaction of heaven and earth goes on and on, as the heavens hear the earth, and the earth cries out to the heavens. Then the corn and the wine and the oil cry out to the earth for fruitfulness... and the Bride in the earth cries out in her barrenness for the Lord to take away her reproach, and cause her to be fruitful. And then God "sows her in the earth" to make her fruitful. There is a mighty chain-reaction that is set in motion between the heavens and the earth, and between the vessels in the earth who cry out for Him. And the work goes on and on and on... until the whole earth is saturated with the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven.
How dull the invitation has become to the inhabitants of the earth, as a carnal, sickly, anemic Bride cries out to the nations, "Come... Come... Come..."
But all this is going to change when the Bride is sown in the earth; and when this cleansed and chosen one cries "COME!" it is going to quicken the ears of the listeners.
And then "He that heareth" will say "COME!" And the quickening Word will spread from the Bride to the hearerÖ and from the hearer to the hungry and the thirsty in the land:
"And let him that is athirst, COME..." (Rev. 22:17).
What are we saying? The so called "gospel" has been going forth without this dynamic impact of the quickening Word. A million might hear it across the waves... and I am not saying nothing is being accomplished... but it ends there. And with every succeeding generation of Christians there is LESS AND LESS of an impact made upon the nations of the earth. Godís answer is not in multiplying these sterile words that are going forth from evangelists and preachers all over the world but in CAUSING A CHAIN-REACTION IN THE SPIRIT. This will cause the Bride of Christ to activate the Word in the hearers. And this Word will be activated still further in the hearts of the hungry and the thirsty of the earth. God is going to do this as He brings forth this holy Bride, who will walk with Him "in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies," and she "knows the LORD," and she is "sown in the earth."
If we can go about in the journey of life without constantly looking heavenward for the heavenly response to what we are saying and doing, it is evident that the history we are making will fade away like the mist at the dawning of the day. But if in every step of the way we find ourselves looking heavenward for the approval or the disapproval of God in what we are doing, repenting when we find ourselves deviating from the pathway, and returning to Him again... in whom alone we can find rest; then all along the way our hearts are thrilled to see that Divine interlacing of His plan and His purpose in our lives and in the lives of His people. For in all of this the Author and the Finisher of our faith, the Alpha and the Omega, the Builder and the Architect, is creating and forming for Himself a New Creation that will shine forth not only in the earth but throughout the heavenly realm, in praise and honor and glory to Him who is the Master Mind behind it all. We behold the glory of a God who works all things together for our good, and for His own glory. We begin with God, and we must end with God; and we must see God working all things in between, if indeed the history of our lives is to be one that will be worthy of note in the celestial realms. For Heaven is very interested in what God is doing in the earth. Heaven knows that God the Most High came down into our nature, not in theirs. And they know why. They know it is because the unfolding of the New Creation is centered in man, and not in them. Therefore, when Godís servants speak, they are very attentive to hear. They desire to "look into these things..." And they rejoice when Godís servants tell them of glorious things that God is doing in the earth. Likewise they are saddened and dismayed and perplexed when they hear the bad news of our apostasy.
Moses said, "Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak" (Deut. 32:1). For if Heaven does not respond to what we are saying, we might as well say nothing.
Isaiah also had words that he wanted the heavens to hear. "Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken" (Isa. 1:2).
Likewise Jeremiah, who carried great grief because of the waywardness of Godís people: "Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid" (Jer. 2:12). Afraid? Why? "For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water" (vs. 13). Angels fear when they see apostasy like that! Why? Because they know that Godís purposes are all wrapped up in a people in the earth, and they fear what God might do to a disobedient and rebellious people. Likewise when Godís true servants minister in the Spirit, they respond... and they are ready to minister on their behalf; and they rejoice when Godís people repent, and turn to God, and they are moved to action on their behalf.
Do we understand this? HEAVEN IS EARTHLY-MINDED BECAUSE THEY KNOW THAT GODíS PURPOSES ARE TO BE WROUGHT OUT IN A PEOPLE WHO WALK IN THE EARTH IN OBEDIENCE TO THE WILL OF GOD.
AND GOD WANTS HIS PEOPLE TO BE HEAVENLY-MINDED BECAUSE IT IS ONLY AS WE FIND OUR CITIZENSHIP THERE, AND OUR RICHES AND RESOURCES THERE, AND OUR WALK THERE, THAT WE WILL BE ABLE TO MINISTER THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN TO THE INHABITANTS OF THE EARTH. AND IT IS ONLY WHEN WE ARE HEAVENLY-MINDED THAT WE CAN EXPECT HEAVEN TO MINISTER TO THE NEEDS OF MEN.
The heavens are astonished at the carnal, rebellious, and apostate ways of the Church. And how they rejoice when they see a people who are drawn to repentance, and when they begin to fear the Lord and to seek Him, and to walk in His ways.
The spirit of the world has pretty well overwhelmed and captivated the Church. So much so that it is taken for granted that if the proven ways of success in the world are applied to the Church, then we can succeed equally as well. And therefore it is assumed that if we are to be successful in church growth and missionary expansion we must become very active, ambitious, zealous, energetic, prosperous, innovative, and know how to tap the resources of Godís people to enlarge our facilities for evangelism, and to reach the hearts of men...
BUT THE LORD JESUS TOLD US THAT IF WE DESIRE TO BE FRUITFUL FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD WE MUST BE WILLING TO BECOME A CORN OF WHEAT... THAT WILL FALL INTO THE GROUND... AND DIE!
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