Evening and Morning - George H. Warnock
CHAPTER 5 - THE RIVER OF GOD
All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full: unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again." The sea does not overflow its boundaries, because God has ordained that from the sea the rivers shall again be replenished, and the process will go on repeating itself. Therefore, just as the generations go and come, the sun sets and rises again, the winds blow from the north and then from the south... so the rivers flow on and on into the oceans, and are constantly being replenished from the same oceans into which they flow, as God sends the rain, and stores up the ice and the snow in our great mountains.
Some years ago I stood on the great icefields in Jasper National Park which constitute the main source of supply for three of the continent's great rivers: the Athabaska which empties into the Arctic, the Saskatchewan which eventually finds its way into the Atlantic, and the Columbia which flows into the Pacific. Huge glaciers many miles across, and up to 2500 feet in thickness keep replenishing these rivers with their endless supply of ice and snow, as they melt in the sunlight, and are replenished with a new supply in every winter season.
The Snow From Heaven
God said, "As the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven. so shall My word be" (Isa. 55:10, 11). We can appreciate the rain, because we know what it accomplishes. It may come through wind and storm, but at least there is a blessing in it. But the snow brings anxiety, discouragement, and coldness. But God brings the seasons, whether it be for the rain, or for the snow. Men in the Church stand in doubt of this "endtime" message, and question, Who are we that we should enter into this great fulness of grace and glory and power that has not been known from the foundation of the world? But it is all according to God's purpose. It is all according to God's seasons. It is not a case of "Who are we?" It is a case of "How great Thou art, O Lord!" God is doing this for His own glory and praise, and not because we are anything. After all is said and done, man is frail and weak and helpless and futile--regardless who he is. The sooner we come to this realization, the better it will be, and the more quickly will we come into the fulness for which our hearts have longed. Whether it be Moses, or David, or Solomon, or Isaiah, or Paul, or Peter, or James, or John, or Luther, or Wesley, or great men that we might name in the world today... they are all but dust and ashes. (We will not attempt to name the great men of today, however, because probably we would name the wrong ones. Why? Because the great men of any generation are not really great in the eyes of that generation. It is usually true that great men are persecuted and rejected by their generation, while the following generations arise and build their sepulchres. Exaltation in their own day and by their own people would have frustrated the greatness of God's purpose in their lives. But because they were faithful in bearing the cross of rejection in their generation, they have now taken their place in the roll of honor in heavenly places, and in the annals of human history.) David said, "I am a worm, and no man." He was not just trying to be humble, but he said that in full recognition of what he was by nature, Oh that God may show each and every one of us that we are but stubble before the wind, as the flower of grass that fadeth away in the heat of the sun! By nature that is all we are. The day of man draws swiftly to its close. This is the Day of Christ! He must be exalted in this day, and He alone.
Perhaps we do not see any profit in the snow and the ice and the hoarfrost relative to spiritual things. But its purpose is the same as in Nature. Its purpose is for melting in the hour of spring. If we are cold, and barren, and lifeless--that is part of the Divine purpose--providing, of course, that we are prepared to acknowledge it. Then we may rejoice in our condition. For to the barren God gives a promise of fruitfulness. "Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the LORD" (Isa. 54:1). Let the spiritual eunuch rejoice that he has been a dry tree, "For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters..." (Isa. 56:4, 5). Are you entering into God's sabbath rest? Are you ceasing from your own works, that henceforth it might be the Son abiding within and doing His work? Do you call this sabbath of the Lord a delight, "not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words?" (Isa. 58:13). Then God says He has for you the very heritage of Jacob, and that you will ride upon "the high places of the earth."
He Sendeth Forth His Word And Melteth
There is a melting taking place in the Church of Christ. The snow and the ice and the hail and the hoarfrost have served their purpose. Now in their melting they will release a flow of water, of living water, that shall cause the rivers to swell, and bring blessing and life to all humanity. The river of God shall be "full of water" in this great hour of melting, this day of spring. Whithersoever this great river shall flow, it shall bring healing and life to a world that is waste and barren. The desolate wilderness shall be a thing of the past. The Garden of Eden shall be on ahead. The fruitfulness of the heritage of Jacob, even the land of Canaan, lies ahead; and that great and terrible wilderness of human failure shall be left behind.
In this melting, this flowing of the river of God, there is a losing of one's identity in the great stream of the eternal purpose. We will continue to be individual living stones in the Temple of God, individually shaped and molded and fitted into His spiritual habitation, But in the stream of His purpose we flow together, losing ourselves that we might truly find ourselves in Him. It is not merely as individuals but in union with the Body of Christ that we shall come into his Divine fulness. Says Paul, "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend (apprehend) 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, 18). It is too much for us to even grasp with our minds, But in union with God who is Love, and in fellowship WITH ALL SAINTS, there is to be an apprehension of the very FULNESS OF GOD, nothing less than the very FULNESS of all His Divine perfections and glory.
Joined Unto The Lord
Some may ask the question, therefore, as to where they should go, and with what group of people they should associate, in order to come into this fulness of God in the Body of Christ. The answer is very simple: The Lord shapes and molds you as an individual, in the pathway of life which He has before ordained for you, chastens and disciplines you along the way as you submit to the working of His Spirit. His purpose is to join you unto HIMSELF. That is therefore the purpose of the ministry which God hath set in the Body. ministry which succeeds, knowingly or otherwise, in bringing the people into union with the ministry, rather than into union with the Son, has failed in its purpose. This may not always be readily recognized. We may feel that our true loyalty is unto Christ, while at the same time there is unconditional loyalty to the ministry--because of the position that such a one occupies in the work of the Lord. We need to honor those whom God bath sent. On the other hand, those whom God hath sent must be careful to see that the saints are brought into that place of unconditional loyalty to the Lord Christ Himself... that we "grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ" (Eph. 4:15). Then as we all, thus beholding the face of the Lord and being transformed into the image of His Son and are JOINED UNTO HIM, we discover to our joy and amazement, that we are in union and fellowship with the other members of the Body of Christ, who have been likewise taught and disciplined in their individual relationship with Him. We are continually meeting such for the first time, as this effectual joining of member to member takes place. But this joining together is not necessarily for the purpose of setting them straight, or trying to fashion them afresh after our mould. Usually we discover that they have already been molded and trained in some other area of His dealings that we have known nothing about; and now together we flow along into the Divine purpose, for further development in the ways of the Lord, If for a season some do not flow along with us, whom we think should do so, let us not be too disturbed about that. As long as they are waiting upon Him and yielding to the Sun of righteousness, they cannot help but flow together in God's time. Also, we do not need to be unduly concerned if for a season one stream seems to flow along in one channel... with blessing and favor from God... and we in another channel. It is quite possible that in either case, neither of us are in the main river of God. But as we flow along in the stream of God's purpose for us at this time, eventually we will flow together as the great RIVER OF GOD, which is FULL OF WATER, to bless humanity.
The Rain Cometh Down
"For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it" (Isa. 55:10, 11). The flowing of the rivers into the oceans seems to be a monotonous, unchanging process. But God would have us know that there is a continual increase of His fulness with the endless rains, and the ceaseless flow of the rivers. So with His Word. It accomplishes something. It prospers in the thing for which He sent it forth. When it comes back to the heart of God it brings with it a fulness that was not there when it first went forth. So it was with the Word, the Logos, that was "made flesh" sent forth from the heart of God upon the field of mankind, to dwell amongst us. He came forth from the heart of God as the rain, but when He went back unto the Father He returned with a fulness that brought a greater measure of glory and majesty and beauty to His Name than before. Jesus said, "I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father" (Jn. 16:28). That seemed clear enough to them, and for the first time they felt they understood the mystery of the Son and of the Father, But Jesus knew they really did not understand what He was trying to show them. Nor did they have a clear understanding of His purpose in going away, until the Spirit of Truth came forth and revealed the deeper mysteries to them. They were so sure that He came to set up a kingdom and reign on the throne of David. Then why was He speaking about going back to the Father? Why did He not remain on earth and sit on the throne of power and glory? Because the circle of God's purpose would have been broken. He came forth from the Father; now He must go back to the Father, completing the cycle of Truth as it pertained to His incarnation, and thus bringing greater honor and glory to the Father's Name. Were He to accept the kingdom before the completion of the circle of God's purpose, there would have been an emptiness, a voidness, about His incarnation He must finish the work, and return to the Father with abundant FULNESS. He was the true Seed that God had sent forth to the earth, But He sent the Seed into the earth that it might "go down into the ground and die." Only in thus going down into the ground and dying could there come forth that fulness of the harvest. The purpose of the rain is not merely to replenish the rivers, and flow back into the oceans. God desires to "accomplish" something. He wants to "water the earth," that it may "bring forth and bud." And after the budding, He wants the fruit. "That it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater." There had to be a returning unto the Father in the fulness of glorification. And this included the fulness of obedience, even unto death, and that the death of the Cross. Only in the fulness of obedience unto death would there come forth the fulness of glory unto life. When Jesus gave the sop to Judas on the eve of His crucifixion, He was able to say: "Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him" (Jn. 13:31). Anything less than the fulness of obedience unto death would have meant the cutting short of the fulness of glory, and the Logos, the Word, would have returned unto the Father "void." "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth ALONE..." But He was faithful and the Word did not return VOID unto the Father. He went back in complete fulness.
Something happened that had never happened before in Creation. He didn't merely come from God and go back to God, as it may have seemed to the disciples. He came forth the Lord from heaven, but He went back a Man from earth, crowned with glory and honor, and made both Lord and Christ. Now there is in Heaven a Man, a Perfect Man, and this Perfect Man is Lord of the Universe.
I Go Away And Come Again
Now the circle of God's purpose must begin all over again. He came from God and went back to God in abundant fulness; now the Word must come forth again, this time to accomplish a different purpose. He went away, that He might come forth again, in the Spirit.
The Truth of John 14, which we usually ascribe to the Second Coming of the Lord, is really applicable to the coming of the Holy Spirit. "I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you... we will come unto him, and make our abode with him... I go away, and come again unto you..." He must go away in the fulness of glorified humanity, perfect man returning to the heart of God, that out from the heart of God He might come forth again as the Spirit of Truth, even as the Spirit of the Father and the Son. Once again the Word goes forth out of the heart of God, this time the Spirit of Truth. This time the purpose of God is to bring forth in the earth other sons, like unto His very own Son, and bring them back unto the heart of the Father in yet a greater fulness! "O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out... for OF Him, and THROUGH Him, and UNTO Him are all things, to whom be glory for ever and ever."
He Emptied Himself
When the Son of Man came to earth He laid aside the glory of Heaven, and came into our very likeness and nature, that He might live here as man, and strictly as man, in utter dependence upon the Father. For though He was in the form of God, yet He made Himself of no reputation. literally, it says, "He emptied Himself..." or "made Himself void." Incarnation speaks of God "emptying" Himself--even emptying Himself into human nature. Incarnation placed God, the Most High, in a position of "weakness," of "flesh and blood," of "temptation," of "poverty," of "humiliation." How could the Most High possibly empty Himself into human nature without becoming poor, and weak, and meek, and lowly? Flesh and blood cannot even look upon God and survive. What then shall we say of the Most High who came into our very flesh and likeness? How little do we appreciate of the greatness of the humiliation and suffering that the Almighty subjected Himself to, in merely taking upon Himself the form of man! But He went further and further down the ladder of humiliation. Rather than coming as an earthly King, He took a bondslave's form--that in such a form He might learn obedience... obedience even unto death... and that, the death of the Cross, the death of the criminal. Thus the Son of Man was sinless and spotless from His birth until His death, but He was not declared PERFECT until He had learned obedience by the things which He suffered. He had to be made "perfect through sufferings" (Heb. 2:10). Then God received Him back into heaven as PERFECT MAN, where PERFECT HUMANITY was absorbed back into DEITY--making Him to be both Lord and Christ. He must needs go back into the heart of God, receive that Name which is above every name in earth, heaven, or under the earth--that now He might come forth again in the Spirit of Truth. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Son and of the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, who comes forth from the heart of God to begin the circle of Truth over again. As He comes to us, He comes to bring from the heart of God, all that Divine glory and power and life that is now inherent in PERFECT GOD and PERFECT MAN--that the PERFECTIONS of the risen and glorified Christ might become our very life. He must needs go away, back to the Father, that in the coming of the Spirit of God into our lives we would have One who would take the things of Christ and reveal them unto us. Certainly not to reveal to us something that we cannot have! But to show us those things which "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard," and which have not even "entered into the heart of man,"--the things that God has "prepared for them that love Him." They are being "prepared" for us, so we are not being presumptuous if we long after them. Rather, the Spirit within is there to "search all things... yea, the depths of God." He is there in our hearts, not merely to bless us--but to reach out into the vastness of the eternal depths of God, and uncover and reveal those things which He has in store and in preparation for His own. The Spirit searcheth out the heart of God, not merely to satisfy our intellectual fancy, but to satisfy that inner longing within to partake of and receive that which the Spirit has discovered and explored. "He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you" (Jn. 16:14, 15). He takes the things of the Father and makes them known unto us; not from the standpoint of mental observation, standing afar off and knowing something about His glory and greatness, but not partaking of it! Rather, He shows the Father unto us in such a way that we know HIM, and knowing Him means abiding in His love and nature. "Love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God... God is love; and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him" (1 Jn. 4:7, 16).
Will this cycle of Truth be completed? Will God cut the circle short in order that we might escape the suffering and woe that is coming upon the earth? Nay, rather, He uses troubles and tribulations for the completion of His great work. We, too, must learn obedience by the things which we suffer. We too must walk in the pathway of obedience as a servant, obedience unto death, obedience that leads us eventually into complete identification with His very own Cross. He hath sent forth the Word, the Spirit of Truth, concerning the perfection of the Body of Christ, and the manifestation of His many sons, and His Word shall not return unto Him void. It shall prosper in the thing whereunto He sent it forth. The purpose of this manifestation is to bring fruitfulness to the earth, that it may give "seed to the sower, and bread to the eater." It shall bring blessing and deliverance to a groaning Creation. "For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off" (Isa. 55:12, 13).
The Mediator Of The New Covenant
Christ, therefore, has become the "mediator between God and man" (1 Tim. 2:5), and he is there to mediate "the new covenant" (Heb. 12:24). The mediator is the "middle man." Not, however, to settle arguments, to negotiate bargains, as in the affairs of men. But he is there to mediate the New Covenant, to administer it and to enact it in His many brethren. This administration of the New Covenant is not completed by writing it upon tables of stone, nor in writing it upon the parchments of the New Testament. It is only the New Covenant as He writes it upon the "fleshly tables of the heart." For this is the New Covenant, the indelible inscription of the mind and will and heart of God upon the mind and will and heart of His people. "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord: I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them..." (Heb. 10:16). It is not merely the heart feeling the impulses and the virtues of His grace, but it is in the heart being fashioned and molded in the Divine image, till man's heart becomes the very heart of God. It is not merely in the mind being activated to enjoy an intellectual concept of Truth, and to appreciate from a rational standpoint the facts of redemption. It is rather in the mind being "renewed" and renovated so completely and so drastically that it verily becomes "the mind of Christ." There is a complete TRANSFORMATION, a complete change, out of the natural and into the spiritual, out of the soulish and into the realm of the Spirit of God. He, the Mediator, is there in the heavens to administer this covenant, and this He does by coming forth in us by the Spirit of Truth. This Word must not return unto the Father void, or empty. The Spirit of Truth comes down from heaven to take all that righteousness and glory and praise that belong unto Christ, and to effectually administer it unto His brethren, that as He receives them back unto Himself in the completion of the circle, He shall receive a measure of fulness and glory such as He did not have before. Some might object that we could not possibly bring to the heart of God any glory that He did not have before. But for this very reason were we created, "That we should be to the praise of His glory..." (Eph. 1:12).
The Fulness Of Christ
Therefore, as we have in the Lord Jesus Christ the fulness of God; so we have in His many brethren, His body, the very fulness of Christ. The manner in which God manifested His fulness in the Lord Jesus is the same as the manner in which the Lord Jesus manifests His fulness in the Church, which is His Body. This fulness was not manifest in the Lord Jesus by virtue of His inherent Deity, but rather in virtue of the fact that He "emptied Himself," and took a bondman's form, and was found in fashion as a man; and then in subjecting Himself to even greater humiliation, and walking in the pathway of total obedience unto the will of the Father. Likewise the fulness that is being manifest in the Church which is His Body is not in virtue of new birth and sudden rapture. Rather it is to be in growing up unto Christ, abiding in Him, and the word abiding in us, changing... transforming... renewing... purifying... and cleansing this Temple as we, too, walk in the pathway of total obedience unto the will of the Father. Christ must go back to the Father, that as One who had glorified the Father's Name and revealed the Father through His obedience and faithfulness as a Son; so now from His exalted throne in the heavens He might glorify His Name in His many brethren that He with them, and not apart from them, might bring forth an even greater fulness of glory. This He accomplishes by bringing forth the perfections of the risen and glorified Lord throughout the members of the Church, which is His Body. For God hath given Him "to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, THE FULNESS OF HIM that filleth all in all" (Eph. 1:22, 23).
The same old theological block that hindered the Jews of Christ's day is hindering God's people today. Their minds were made up. As a Teacher, they would acknowledge Him. As Prophet from Galilee, they would readily accept. Even as King of Israel, they were ready and anxious to receive Him. (Strange that so many are teaching that they refused to have Him as their King. They actually came by force on one occasion to make Him their King.) There was really no problem in receiving Him as teacher, prophet, king, healer, or miracle worker. It was in making Himself ONE WITH THE FATHER that they took such great exception. Not that He declared Himself to be the Father, but rather He declared Himself to be the expression of the Father, the servant of the Father, the one in whom the Father lived, in whom He worked, whose words He spake, whose mouthpiece He was, and whose works He performed. The Son of God was the living Temple in whom God the Father dwelt. He was not the Son of Man as to His humanity and Son of God as to His Deity. He was both Son of Man and Son of God as to His humanity. "That holy thing" that was born of Mary was at the same time Son of Man and Son of God, for God was the Father of His human nature, as Mary was the mother (Luke 1:35). This Son-of-Man-Son-of-God was PERFECT MAN in every sense of the word. In other words, the Son of God was God--made weak, the God--made poor, God emptied out, God the Ruler of the Universe condescending to become a bondslave amongst men! For Jesus testified, "I can of mine own self do nothing." Yet in union with the Father He could do ANYTHING When the truth is brought forth concerning our union with Christ some seem to get the notion that we are seeking equality with Christ. But the exact Opposite is the truth. For we must become utterly weak, that He might be All-glorious in power... helpless in ourselves, that He might be the All-sufficient One. In fact, we are to live the Life of Another. We are to manifest the fulness of Christ, just as the Lord Jesus manifested the fulness of God when He was here. He did nothing, absolutely nothing, independently of the Father, as God the Son working in contradistinction to God the Father. Never once is He called "God the Son." Everything He did and everything He said was in utter and complete obedience to the Father, as the Father dwelt in Him and worked through Him. So with Christ's many-membered Body. We must come to that place where we do nothing in contradistinction to the Son, as separate from Him. We must come to that place where it is the living Christ living in us, speaking through us, thinking through us... the risen and glorified Lord pouring into our hearts by the Spirit all the perfections of His glorified humanity. This we receive in virtue of the Spirit abiding within, and our complete obedience and submission unto the will of God.
This does not make us to be the Lord Jesus anymore than it made Him to be the Father. But it does mean that we are to be ONE WITH HIM, in the very same manner in which He was ONE WITH THE FATHER. "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." How could this possible be? Simply and entirely by the risen and glorified Lord pouring that same fulness and glory in us, as the Father poured His glory and fulness into the Son. "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..." Glorious day of rapture, says one. But the Lord continues: "That the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me" (Jn. 17:21-23). After this, and only after this glorious fruitful testimony, does the Lord pray that we might be with Him even where He is, right back in the heart of God (vs. 24).
Now someone would like to say, "Please explain the doctrine of the Godhead, in the light of what you have written." This we must refuse to do, for the doctrine of the Godhead cannot be defined. Church councils invariably assemble to define doctrine and creed when the Spirit and the life of Truth have ebbed away and departed. Sound doctrine does not submit itself to definition, because sound doctrine (Lit. "healthful teaching") is that flowing forth of living Truth, and simply cannot be defined. What about the Apostles' Creed? I have never studied it, nor am I really too interested in it, because the apostles were dead and buried when church leaders got together and made the Apostles' Creed. The apostles were not even at the council.
What we, as the Body of Christ, must do in this hour is come back to the apostles' love and life; then we shall go on to that fulness of Christ, the seeds of which they planted in their ministry and testimony, but the fulness of which comes forth today in the day of harvest. This may stumble many who somewhat hopefully look for a restoration of apostolic glory, as if that were the ultimate, But it will rejoice the hearts of those who have the forward and the upward calling and vision, and are pressing toward the mark of the "high calling."
"Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth." The Church say's God is waiting till the last member of the Body of Christ is converted. God says He is waiting for "precious fruit"... and has long patience over it till it receive not only the early, but the latter rain. Not only the "seed rain" but the "harvest rain." Not only for the seed rain of conversion ("being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible..."), but also for the harvest rain of the FRUIT... the rains that bring forth the fruit that is exactly like unto the original seed that was planted. Anything less is utterly unacceptable to the Husbandman. Anything less than the perfection of the fruit of the Spirit in God's people would cause the Name of the great Husbandman to be dishonored. God is jealous over His people with great jealousy. It is His own Name that He is so concerned about. He has planted a Garden, and He has done so for His own Name's sake, He will yet come into His garden, and partake of its "pleasant fruit." He shall yet find joy and delight and REST in the work of His hands. For we are "the planting of the LORD that He might be glorified." He is only truly glorified in His people as they manifest and show forth His glory and His excellencies. He created us that we should be "unto the praise of the glory of His grace." The fulness that He would manifest in His many sons is for the purpose of showing forth the "praises (the excellencies, the virtues, the glory) of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvelous light."
Growing Up Unto Him
"As the rain cometh down and the snow from heaven..." It is not just another rain, another revival, history repeating itself. Every time it rains there is a new measure of fulness wrought in the earth. It rains, and the seed that has been planted begins to sprout and break forth under the soil. It might not even be visible. Silently does the Spirit of God come into the life and such a one is "born again" by the incorruptible seed of the Word of God. But it is really just the sprouting of the seed. It is a rebirth in the inner man. It is God becoming involved in the life of the individual, that before the entrance of the Word was nothing more than earth... dark, barren, fruitless. Again it rains. Now there is a springing forth of leaves, of twigs, of branches. There is a continual unfolding. One says, "Strange, I never saw that in the Word before." It was there, and you read it perhaps hundreds of times, but you never saw it. Why? Because you were but a sprouting seed hidden away in darkness... or a blade... just beginning to come forth into the light. You have been growing in Grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Now you are able to see what was inherent in the seed, but was never revealed. It was in the Word, but hidden away in the letter, in the shell. It rains, and rains again. The process continues to go on. "All the rivers run into the sea, yet is the sea not full..." Because through the process of Nature the sea yields its moisture back to the air, and the winds carry it across the land. The rivers are replenished, the clouds pour the water back to the earth again. The day of harvest approaches. Things begin to change once more. We get accustomed to new revelation and settle back in satisfaction and delight of our new found joy, then God comes forth again... and there is dismay. It seemed that we were on the verge of having arrived at our true destiny. Our plant begins to take on a new measure of beauty and glory. There is liberty in the Spirit. The flowers of grace appear. There is a beauty and a glory in the life of the individual or in the assembly, such as our hearts had longed for. But it rains again, and those beautiful flowers disintegrate and fade from the vine. Soon they are trampled in the mud beneath. The once beautiful orchard becomes a picture of desolation. We had looked for much. There was promise of much. There is nothing more beautiful than a blossoming orchard in the days of spring. But strangely enough the fruit-grower is not concerned about the fading of the flowers. In fact, he is happy. He must have the rain in due season; but in the time of harvest it is no longer necessary; because he is looking, not for rain, but for the FRUIT of the earth. So often in our lives we look upon and judge circumstances by what we can see. We know that God was using us in the past, because of the fragrance of the flowers of grace, and the beauty of His Spirit upon us. Something must have gone wrong. But in reality God is looking for something deeper, something better, something that will be to the praise of His glory. In short, something that will show forth His own life, His own nature, His own character, His own love. Christ must be formed within before the Husbandman can reach forth His hand and take that which will delight and satisfy His own heart, and that which will satisfy the hunger and thirst of mankind.
Restoration Or New Creation?
We must view the work of God in the realm of Restoration in the light of the fact that God has from the very beginning progressively moved forward with His people into dispensations of His dealings with men that would eventually bring about an entirely New Creation. There are, of course, seasons of refreshing and renewal wherein lost truths are rediscovered, forgotten gifts are restored, the book of the law is once again found in the temple, and the dimly burning candlestick is trimmed, and shines brightly with fresh oil. But this is by no means God's ultimate. Rather it is a GOING BACK that we might MOVE FORWARD with God in the path of the just "that shineth more and more unto the perfect day."
The prophet Isaiah said, "For brass I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver, and for wood brass, and for stones iron..." (Isa. 60:17). We ask for brass, because God promised brass. but in the hour of fulfillment God says, "No, I must give you GOLD." We look for iron... we insist we must have iron... but God says, "No, I promised iron, but my purposes are hastening on to fulfillment... I must give you exceeding abundantly above all you can ask or think... because with your limited understanding you do not really appreciate the nature of my promises... I must give you SILVER."
And so Abraham looked for a land of promise, and longed to acquire it according to God's plan... until he caught a glimpse of the City which had enduring foundations, "whose Builder and Maker is God." In great trial of spirit he looked for a son, a seed, and a nation that would inherit this land... but one day he saw the Day of Christ, and he caught a new vision. He rejoiced and was glad in what he saw. No longer was he to occupy himself with the brass of the promises... now he would partake of the GOLD... even God Himself was to be his "exceeding great reward." The iron of Canaan must give way to the SILVER of God's redemptive purposes, and the WHOLE WORLD was to become the inheritance of this great man of faith (Rom. 4:13).
And so we could go on and on. The glory of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness fades away. but in due season God raises up the Tabernacle of David... and all the furnishings and the ritual and the ceremony of the old Tabernacle is replaced with nothing more than the Ark of the Covenant and the Glory of God. But the Tabernacle of David itself was but a transitional dwelling place, and soon it will give way to the magnificent Temple of Solomon, The Temple of Solomon went into ruin, and in restoration we have the Temple of Zerubbabel. But this temple left the people of God somewhat perplexed. Where was the glory of the latter house, that was to exceed that of the former? Where was the greater than Solomon? Where was the Urim and Thummim? But if the vision tarry, we must WAIT FOR IT. One day the promised GLORY stood in view of the old temple and declared: "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up." For He indeed was the true Temple of God in whom dwelt the GLORY that had occupied all former temples. But so sudden a transition from the old to the new was too much for the people of that hour. God was saying, I would give you silver for iron, and gold for brass, but they said, "No, we just want the brass and the iron." Then suddenly this new Temple was destroyed... and God raised it up again after three days. But to the consternation of the disciples He must tell them that He would no longer locate in Judea... but He would find His place at the Father's right hand... in a heavenly Zion, that the Ultimate Temple that God had in mind from the very beginning might begin to take on enlargement in the earth. Jesus Himself would be the High Priest of that Temple, and He would also be the King on the throne of that Temple. And more amazing still, we in union with Him would become living stones of that Temple, as well as co-priests and co-rulers with Him in an entirely different order, a Royal Priesthood after the order of Melchizedek.
As we look about us there oftentimes seems to be naught but barrenness and desolation. The trees remain stripped of leaves and flowers and fruit. The ground remains dry and cold and barren. Perhaps there is still a little snow here and there... and very little evidence of life. But here in Western Canada a crocus bravely lifts its head above the ground and declares: "As far as I am concerned, it is the time of Spring... it is the time of New life."
What is God doing today? As far as I am concerned...
IT IS THE HOUR OF NEW CREATION. &
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