The Hyssop That Springeth Out Of The Wall - George H. Warnock
INCARNATION - THE HUMILIATION OF GOD
Jesus comes on the scene, and immediately we are made to realize that here is One that is Great because of His humility. Here is One who can take note of the things that are meaningless to others; for He (like the hyssop) was but a "Root of a dry ground." Here was One who "had no form nor comeliness"... One who could not get enthralled about the mighty and the noble; or share the enthusiasm of the disciples about the splendour of the Temple; but who saw beauty in the "lily of the field"... One who would not break the "bruised reed," or quench the "smoking flax."
True greatness does not stand apart, above and beyond the ordinary. True greatness is always identified with humility and weakness and insignificance and lowliness. That is why the great and mighty God of the universe who created all things could not for ever remain high and lifted up in the heavens... with a reputation of being mighty and powerful, but unconcerned about the needs of the people whom He created. He must come down and show Himself as He really is: for God the Father, living in His own Son in all His fulness, truly revealed Himself as He really is: meek, and lowly, and compassionate. A God who is concerned when the sparrow falls to the ground, mortally wounded by the archer. God takes note of it because He is so great. Jesus said that two of them were sold for a far-thing, and five of them for two farthings, And so one was just thrown in for good measure... just forgotten. But not even this forgotten sparrow was forgotten by God. God has been greatly maligned by the peoples of the earth who worship careless, cruel, indifferent, and dictatorial gods who have brought them nothing but bondage and oppression. And so in answer to the prayer of the prophet, God rent the heavens and came down, and showed men what He was really like. I do not mean to start a theological argument, for I feel I have gone beyond that; but it bothers me that so many Christians should think of God the Father as One Person... and God the Son another. The mystery of the three-in-one I do not profess to comprehend (any more than I can comprehend that I am three-in-one, and made in His image). But God wants us to know that when His Son walked this earth, God the Father was in that Man, walking in His sandals. And when Jesus mingled amongst men as the sinless and spotless One, showing mercy and compassion to the multitudes, it was God the Father living in His Son and walking in His Son and showing mercy through His Son. And when He spoke words of Truth, it was God the Father revealing His own heart, and showing forth His own love and mercy towards men. And when He hung on the Cross... it was not a case of God the Father being indifferent to the cries of His Son as He suffered this unspeakable anguish... but in the truest sense of the word, God the Father was Himself suffering the pain of every nail that went into His hand, and every thorn that pierced His brow. And when a soldier took his sword and thrust it into the side of Jesus... Jesus felt it as a man, and God the Father who dwelt within Him felt it as the Creator of the soldier that pierced Him. Yes, it was God the Father who willingly subjected Himself to the full measure of weakness, and poverty, and humiliation and suffering-in order to remove the "curse" which He Himself had laid upon man because of his transgression!
HYSSOP--and the PASSOVER
"And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the basin..." (Exodus 12:22).
We are all familiar with the story of the Passover, and particularly with the phrase: "When I see the Blood, I will pass over you." And honoring the Blood of the Lamb that was slain has been throughout the generations of the Church the key to our Redemption.
But how was the blood to be applied? "Ye shall take a bunch of hyssop..." A temple would be built of Cedar in the centuries that lay ahead: cedar that was cut from the lofty mountains of Lebanon, shaped and fitted together for boards and timbers and beams, But the humble little hyssop that could make boast of greatness or of strength would become, in the purposes of God, the instrument in the hands of the elders of Israel for the applying of the blood of the passover lamb.
Why the hyssop? Because it was so insignificant and ordinary... and easily within the reach of all. God would have us to know that no man is excluded from His grace because of what he lacks in himself. Nor is he excused because of what he lacks by nature; or because of environment, upbringing, background, social stature, weakness, poverty, or ignorance. We might accuse ourselves because of these things, or excuse ourselves for our lack of them. But God would have us to know that... if there be in the standards of men such distinctions that would make some to be superior to others, then if he would know the covering of the Blood he must apply the Blood by the same token as his lowly brother. He must use the "hyssop." It is just a lowly shrub. It is a bitter herb, and is known to have certain medicinal properties. It has purplish flowers--beautiful in its own right... low growing, and fragrant... if one would stoop low enough to appreciate it. But the use of the hyssop was not optional. There could be no distinction here; nor could there be any standard that would cause certain exclusions. It had to be hyssop because we must know that in the sight of God there is no act of the will, no refinement of character, no manner of good works or appearances before God that would ensure the covering of the Blood on our behalf. The hyssop would speak of that humiliation and abasement of the human will before God--a bitter medicine as far as the sickly human heart is concerned--but fragrant and beautiful in the sight of God as He stoops low to heal the broken and the contrite heart.
The Church has always made much of Redemption by the Blood of Christ, and rightly so. Where we have failed is in the emphasis of the fulness of the meaning of Redemption. The word "redemption" in the New Testament carries with it a three-fold connotation. Its simple meaning is: we were "bought with a price." The Greek word is "agorazo"... "purchased at the market-place." A second word like it is prefaced with the preposition "ex" (exagorazo) and means "purchased out of and away from the market-place." Here is the picture. A slave is on the auction block at the market-place. Another man, out of mercy, lays down the redemptive money. He has bought the slave for himself by paying the price. He could, if he so desired, put the man up for auction again, and sell him to the highest bidder. But he takes him "away from" the marketplace. because now he is no longer to be offered for sale. He purchased the slave for himself, and he will not be resold. He is taken "away from" the place of sale. But there is still another word for redemption, and it is "lutroo," and it means, "to set free by paying a price." Again here is the picture. The slave is bought with a price... he is taken away from the market-place... and then the man who purchased him turns to his slave and says, "Now you are mine; I have bought you for myself; but I really bought you that I might set you free. I take away the chains from your hands and your feet, and I set you free."
The man was redeemed with a price, taken from the auction mart, and then released. (There is one further step that the liberated man can take... and should take. And unless he takes this step he will remain in a certain kind of bondage all his days, a bondage to "self." And this step is outlined in Exodus 21:2-6... the liberated slave chooses to become the lifelong slave of the man who bought him. He submits himself to his master that just set him free, allows his "ear" to be bored through with an awl. and he becomes his master's slave forever.) O that we might learn with that liberated slave in Israel, that the only true freedom we shall ever enjoy is that freedom which comes to us when we become forever the captive and obedient servants of the One who purchased us and then set us FREE. O that we might have out ears pierced to hear only what He says, and to have one purpose only in life to pursue: "Lo I come to do Thy will. O God."
There is much made in evangelical Christianity today about the once-for-all aspects of our redemption. And certainly His offering was a once-for-all sacrifice. But once-for-all does nor mean something that happened in the past and therefore remains a thing of the past. God's once-for-alls have eternal significance. God's once-for-alls are eternally present. Jesus suffered once-for-all, but 60 or more years later John on Patmos saw the "Lamb, as it had been slain." It was not a mere fact of history. lt was an act of eternal consequence. Today His blood is just as real and factual as the day lie hung on the Cross while the blood flowed down from His head, His side, His hands, and His feet. The blood was not lost in the stony grounds of Calvary's hill, but in God it actually entered in behind the veil in that eternal realm. We do not imply anything mystical here, as if the blood was literally soaked up from the ground and preserved in any natural sort of way. He shed His blood, and it soaked the ground under His feet... but in God it is an eternal thing, and remains (as it shall throughout eternity) the covering of those who would seek a hiding place from the wrath and justice of a holy God.
And just as the Blood abides, so it remains for you and I to apply that Blood to the heart with the hyssop of repentance, of humility, of brokenness, and of a contrite heart. This is readily available to all of us: it is right there at our feet, if we would but stoop low and lay hold upon it. Jesus tells the story of two men who went up to the temple to pray, the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican, But the Pharisee prayed thus "with himself..." His prayers never got off the ground, because of the Pharisee's proud heart: "I thank thee Lord that I am not as other men..." and then he went on to tell the Lord all about the evil that men commit, as if to divert God' s attention away from his own heart, But the publican didn't even have the courage to look God in the face, but with bowed heart and face he smote upon his breast and cried, "God be merciful to me the sinner..." "I tell you," said Jesus, "that this man went down to his house JUSTIFIED rather than the other. For every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted" (Luke 18:14).
The blood of Christ avails for sinner and believer alike. And how many Christians there are who have known the covering of the blood, and have been redeemed, but have not known the fulness of redemption because of wrong attitudes, wrong motives, and wrong thoughts about God or about certain of God's people. Sometimes the simplest act of obedience unto the will of God can be the hyssop in our hands that will bring into our lives the full benefits of His redemption, and the releasing of our spirits into the freedom of His love and grace. Hyssop is a bitter herb, but it has medicinal qualities. And as we stoop low at His feet, like the publican in the temple, or the sinful woman who washed Jesus' feet with her tears... God Himself stoops low and smells a sweet fragrance; and the erring one, bowed down with guilt and fear, arises to walk in newness of life, and to send forth the fragrance of redemptive grace unto others. That is why David prayed:
"Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow."
THE LAW OF THE LEPER
"This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing: He shall be brought unto the priest: And the priest shall go forth out of the camp; and the priest shall look, and, behold, if the plague of leprosy be healed in the leper; Then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be cleansed two birds alive and clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop: And the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water (Or, in a clay vessel that contains fresh spring water). As for the living bird, he shall take it, and the cedar wood, and the scarlet, and the hyssop, and shall dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that killed over the running water: And he shall sprinkle upon him that is to be cleansed from the leprosy..." (Leviticus 14:2-7). The Blood is mingled with the Living Water!
How determined we are sometimes to get the cleansing of the blood without the use of the hyssop. We would do anything in the flesh to rid ourselves of the weight and burden of sin, other than simply humbling ourselves in the sight of God. "Now Namaan, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honorable, because by him the Lord had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valor, but he was a leper" (2 Kings 5:1). And this last phrase "But he was a leper" almost seems to make everything that was said before sound meaningless. His greatness. his honor, his might... what did it really matter if this dreadful disease was eating away his flesh? But a little captive Israelitish girl who served Namaan's wife, out of pity for her. master, mentioned that there was a cure. "Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria, for he would recover him of his leprosy." The word got to the king, and he sent Namaan down to Israel with silver and gold and raiment in abundance, in order to secure healing for his afflicted general. Naturally he would seek out the king of Israel, because a prophet of this caliber would certainly be living in or near the royal palace. But the king was angry. "Who am I?" he said. "Does the king of Syria think I'm God that can cleanse a man of his leprosy? The man is just trying to start a fight." Elisha heard about it, and sent word for the captain to come to him and he would know that there was a prophet in Israel, And so down he came to the prophet with silver and gold and changes of raiment, sent a messenger to the door of the prophet, and looked for the man of God to come forth, perhaps with some kind of a magic rod in his hand, and with much fanfare he would utter imprecations against this vile disease, and set him free. But Elisha just stayed in his room and sent out a messenger with the word, "Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thou shalt be clean..." What humiliation, and what a letdown for such a great and noble man! They had better rivers back home... cleaner and fresher. "You tell me to wash and be clean by dipping in the muddy waters of the Jordan?" And so he turned away in a rage.
What Namaan did not understand, and what you and I fail to understand so often, is that God's appointment for our lives, and for our deliverance and blessing, is not to be measured in terms of what I can give God in return; nor is it, generally speaking, in getting outside help from some great ministry out there that has a reputation for working miracles; generally the problem is right within ourselves, And the truly great ministry, rather than drawing attention to the power he has, will simply give that person in distress the Word of the Lord which if followed will direct that individual who is seeking help, into a simple walk of obedience with the Lord that will do for him what nothing else can do. It is a simple case of that individual taking a bunch of hyssop and applying for himself the remedy that God has put within the grasp of anyone who would become low enough in His presence, and humble enough before men, to draw from the heart of God that outflow of His grace that He has reserved for the broken spirit and the contrite heart. Some would travel the length and breadth of this land, or go to foreign lands, seeking for deliverance; and yet all the while the hyssop of humility and repentance is growing right at their feet. If it takes money, and time, and travel for an individual to make such a discovery... well and good. But in Namaan's case, and very often in our case... the answer is not in the prophet, but in the Word of the Lord that a faithful prophet might bring forth--and Elisha knowing this was careful to stay out of the limelight, and leave the Word with a man in great need--so that Namaan could fume over it... ponder it... and finally submit.
How many believers there are who have laboured for months and years under condemnation and unrest in spirit and soul because they have steadfastly refused to bow low and gather a bunch of hyssop, and in all humility go to one whom he thinks has wronged him, and whom he blames for his trouble, and confess that he has been expressing a wrong attitude and showing the wrong spirit. God wants us to know that there is NOTHING from without that can harm us if we are right WITHIN. And further, He would have us know that EVERYTHING that comes against us from WITHOUT can actually bring forth GOOD in our lives if we receive it as from Him, and not as from that evil brother, or even as from the Devil. An evil brother may have been involved... and the Devil may have been involved... but a man of true faith and confidence (like Job) will say, "God has done it..." And Job was right, as God later testified. Perhaps one of the most quoted scriptures in the Bible (and we might add, the one less acknowledged as Truth) is Romans 8:28: "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." Sure evil men are involved; certainly, Satan is there steadily at work to hinder and frustrate; and this doctrine does not excuse the evil of men, nor does it encourage us to have more toleration or the Devil. It simply acknowledges that God in His great wisdom is able to take all the opposing forces that would seek to hinder us in our walk with God and literally turn these weapons against the Enemy himself, so that Satan brings about his own defeat.
Throughout the history of the Church God has kept alive, at least among some of His people, that great longing and yearning for heart purity and holiness. At times He has brought forth great visitations in this area, where men sought God with an intensity of spirit that they might know Him in His love and in the beauty of holiness. Soon these movements fade away... and the doctrine remains, encumbered with all manner of legalism and works in an attempt to perpetuate what God once did by His Spirit. Then there are those who in listening to the Word concerning His grace and mercy come out of this kind of legalism, and come to the understanding that holiness itself is the gift of God, and not something one can attain to by good works. This is good. But in so many, many cases the doctrine of separation and holiness and the purifying of the heart is simply laid aside as something not really to be attained to in full measure in this life; so we will just rejoice in His grace and leave holiness and heart-purity and perfection for the next life.
But God will have a "glorious Church..." not in the "hereafter" but "here." In order to excuse themselves, some preachers of holiness are careful to differentiate between sins--making some to be "sin" as such, and others "mistakes." This way we can still claim to be without sin; and wherein we fall short, well it was just a "mistake" not really a sin. I think there is no greater deception than in the one who deceives himself. Why not, if our hearts are sincerely longing for reality and heart-purity, leave the doctrine in its high and holy realm where God dwells, and seek Him until He brings us into that realm, rather than seeking to pollute it a little so we can feel secure in the knowledge that we have what the Bible teaches? Why not seek God to bring us into those higher realms with Himself, rather than seeking to bring that high and holy place down to our level of experience? It is strange but true that men would rather hold to their doctrine, and excuse themselves for their lack of attainment... than to lay their doctrines aside and find true rest and joy in believing that God has reserved for His people yet many things and many experiences and many areas for conquest that as yet they have not known or understood.
God will have a "glorious Church": and it will be without "spot," without "wrinkle," without "blemish"... without "any such thing." And it will be by "the washing of water by the Word." The humble have embraced the Word, as they always do, and are glad. For the humble are quite aware that in spite of the sprinkling of the Blood of the Passover Lamb, and in spite of our deliverance from the place and source of our former bondage, we still carry with us, like Israel of old, "the reproach of Egypt." God's people still are captive in many areas of the world, the flesh, and the devil--and have become so accustomed to it that many do not recognize their bondage. This "reproach" must yet be rolled away at our Gilgal by a new circumcision, a circumcision of the Spirit, before we can truly possess the inheritance. We have not only been purchased, and removed from the place of sale, but liberated and released to serve and worship God in Spirit and in Truth--in "the beauty of holiness," We find it difficult to take the hyssop of humility and repentance because by nature there is within everyone of us the "man" of sin who would seek to keep the throne room of the "temple" of our heart unto himself, and deny the Lord of Glory His full Lordship in our lives. If there is concern in this area by some troubled heart, generally there is someone at hand to ease the burden with the doctrine that the Blood of Christ covers it all, so just forget your worries and rejoice in His grace. The Blood of Christ does cover all. Let us make no mistake about that. What we are talking about is how to have that Blood applied.
For the cleansing of the leper God commanded that two birds were to be taken... "alive and clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop..." All these things are beautiful in their significance... and we will merely touch on them. The birds, the Lord from heaven. "Two"--Christ in death, and Christ in Resurrection. But "Two" is the number of "corporateness": for Christ is joined as one unto His people. (Notice in the human body the "twos": eyes, ears, arms, hands, legs, lungs, etc.) Cedar, strong and stately in His humanity. Scarlet, the color of His sacrifice. The one bird slain in a clay vessel over running water... or literally, "living water." It seems there was to be clear, fresh water in the clay vessel; so that the blood dripping down would be mingled together with the pure water. The Water and the Blood agree in one... "and the Spirit beareth witness, because the Spirit is Truth" (1 John 5:6).
There is much about the cleansing of the Blood that the Church has lost sight of in these past few generations. Too often in our day the doctrines of the Blood have been relegated to areas described as "judicial," with very little emphasis upon the practical and experiential, And so we are made to understand, and rightly so... that God sees us as "clean" because of the Blood. He reckons that we are "clean" if we believe, (even though in actual practice we know we are not clean). It is true that God sees us as "clean" because of His Blood, because He knows that the application of that Blood will make us as clean as He sees us. There is no thought in the heart of God that... Well, I know you are sinful and defiled by nature, and you always will be; but Jesus my Son is clean, and therefore I look upon you as clean because of Him. The Bible says that if there is true fellowship there is cleansing; and that the cleansing is from "all sin." And that the measure of purity is "as He is pure."
"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." (But we must not stop there, as so many do.) Let us read on: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins..." Nor can we stop there. "And to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:7-9). "And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure" (1 John 3:3).
Of course there are many, many other Scriptures that relate to this vital, experiential cleansing; and We believe God will emphasize the truth more and more in this hour of the cleansing of the Bride of Christ. And I am thankful for this glorious Truth, and for the measure of release and liberty that becomes ours when we lay down our doctrines out of hunger for reality. Let us continue to nurture that hunger and thirst after righteousness. For when we do we are going to discover a whole new area of delight in His Word; and henceforth rather than seeking to justify our lives by watering down the Word till it meets my standard, we ask the Lord to enable us to apply the hyssop of meekness and humility to "change" us and to "lift" us up into His own standard, even unto the heights of His grace and glory wherein the Lord would have us to dwell.
Two birds... the one slain, and the other dipped in the blood that was shed over running water; and then released into the open field. Free as a bird! But only free because of the blood, and the running water! "Not by water only, but water and blood," (1 John 5:6). Free as a bird! But only free because another bird had to die. Free as Christ! But only free in Christ who is alive, because we were identified with Christ who had to die. One with Him in resurrection life, only because we are one with Him in crucifixion, And the liberty of the Spirit that we know is only possible because we have been dipped in the Blood by an operation of the Spirit.
In the stream of the Spirit of God there flows all the efficacy of the Blood of Christ. That Blood is alive and efficacious today, just as much alive as it was on the Day that the fountain for sin and uncleanness sprang forth out of Calvary's mountain. We cannot partake of the Spirit without partaking of the Blood for they are co-mingled. The fountain of the living water of His Spirit has mingled together with the fountain of Blood that flowed from the veins of the Lord of the heavens as He hung on Calvary's Cross. The old hymn says:
There is a fountain filled with Blood,
Drawn from Immanuel's veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains.
Dear dying Lamb, thy precious Blood,
Shall never lose its power,
Till all the ransomed Church of God
Be saved to sin no more.
We do despite to the Spirit of Christ to testify that we are filled with the Spirit and then testify that we do not believe or expect that God will cleanse us from all sin. We do not release our spirits to the full efficacy of the Blood, if we do not join with God's Spirit in "bearing witness" to the "Blood" and to "the Water." That's what the Blood was shed for, to cleanse from all sin, And that is why the Blood is mingled with the Fountain of His Spirit, so that in partaking of His Spirit we might likewise partake of the cleansing and healing of the Blood. And that's why He is called the Holy Spirit... because He would come to abide in the temple which we are to make us holy. (Please do not be so foolish as to persuade men not to seek the Baptism of the Holy Spirit until they are wholly sanctified. Only the Spirit of God coming in to abide can make you to be that holy vessel that God wants you to be.)
Now we are talking about "hyssop" which is one of the ingredients of this Fountain of Life. Only the humble will see thereof, and be glad. Only the humble will partake of it, because only the humble can get low enough to discover God's dwelling place (and don't forget, you will never enter into this kind of life until you discover God's dwelling place, and then abide there with Him).
"Then Jesus turned, and saw them following..." (When you sincerely begin to follow Jesus, Great and Mighty as He is, He will turn around and take notice...)
"Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master), where dwellest thou?"
O how we would long to find His dwelling place that we might draw near unto Him... even if it be but for a moment or two! Just to know where He dwells, that in times of stress and uncertainty and perplexity we could find the answers to the problems that beset us. "Master, where dwellest Thou?" "He saith unto them, Come and see.
COME AND SEE! It would be so much easier if we had a road map and a clearly printed address. Not to say that many such maps have not been printed. There are many of them around. If you really want to find God, you must go to such and such a place. God is really working there. Or God sent a great revival to such and such a place 50 years ago, or 80 years ago--maybe if you go there you might find Him. Job in his great perplexity tried desperately to find God... searching on the left hand and on the right... going where God was WORKING, but not finding Him there. (See Job 23:9, 10.) That's the discouraging part of it. You know God is working THERE... and so you go THERE and still you do not really discover God. Where then did he find God? He found Him when he discovered God's WAY. He found Him in his own trial and sufferings. He found Him there with him on the ash pile... but he did not know it at the time.
Next: Where Dwellest Thou? Come and See!
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