KINGDOM BIBLE STUDIES
studies in end-time revelation
THE HEAVENS DECLARE
VIRGO -- THE VIRGIN ( continued )
"And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for SIGNS, and for seasons, and for days, and years" (Gen. 1:14).
The word for "signs" as found in the passage above is OTH in the Hebrew. A sign is a mark to indicate something greater than the mark itself. Musical notes are symbols, or signs, to the pianist sitting at his instrument. If the pianist interprets the notes together in proper sequence, then the audience hears what the creator of the music intended when he wrote the composition. Likewise, the heavens are signs, as notes on a sheet of music. If we interpret the signs in the heavens correctly, then we can understand and appreciate the symphony of God's creation from the beginning to the end. Signs in the heavens can also be compared to notes of music in another way. As the pianist plays a concerto, the music, like a constant revelation, is heard in its proper sequence. Similarly, "signs" in Gen. 1:14 mean that the heavens are the unfurling of God's revelation to man. In other words, the heavens tell the story of things to come--they PROPHESY!
PICTURES speak in every language, and this significant fact was recognized by the psalmist in Psalm 19 as in spirit he stated that the heavens declare a Divine meaning, in universal language, to all people, everywhere. Almighty Lord! in whom dwelleth the wisdom and knowledge of the universe, may our hearts be filled with the holy assurance that the starry hosts shining in the night skies above us are like a glorious PICTURE BOOK which God has placed wide open above us. It is full of wonderful things, glorious beyond words, for us to see and learn about Himself, our selves, and His great and stupendous plan for us. They speak in every language to every people. And they speak and reveal the majesty of God's great plan and purposes to His creation. Upon the blue sapphire of the firmament is spread a sheet of royal paper written all over with the wisdom and power of God. This Book of Creation is not sold in stores, but it is to be read by everyone who lifts his eyes up to heaven.
To establish the message of God's Bible in the sky, the Lord selected three of the most godly and eminent of men at the beginning of history--Adam, Seth and Enoch. It is not our purpose to go into the wearisome trail of historical evidence in support of the fact I have just stated--but it does exist. According to Arabic tradition the signs came from Seth and from Enoch. This is the same tradition that the Greeks have, only they knew Enoch as "Atlas." This is the same tradition the Egyptians have, only they knew Enoch as "Hermes." But all these go back to the grandson of Adam and say that Enoch and his father Seth were the founders of this ancient understanding of the heavens. In the divine record of the fourth creative day the sun, moon, and stars were arranged as lights in the sky, and these lights were designated to be for SIGNS, so that night after night, year after year, in the purple depths of the midnight sky, those burning suns show forth and silently but ceaselessly proclaim the Great Revelation. There is only one system in the universe where STARS and SIGNS are united together and that is in the SIGNS OF THE ZODIAC, also called the Celestial Signs and the Twelve Signs. Ancient and modern civilized nations have called them Signs. The renowned Jewish historian, Josephus, mentions Seth as the first astronomer, or arranger of the Zodiac. The ancient Egyptians said SET (Seth) was the inventor of astronomy--and astronomy in ancient times was not by the study of the Signs of the Zodiac. And according to Gen. 4:25-26 it was directly through the ministry of Seth that MEN BEGAN TO CALL upon THE NAME OF YAHWEH. The method by which Seth taught the knowledge of God was by the stars of heaven, for there was no written scripture in that early time. Seth gave a name to each star group, designating them by the attributes of Jehovah and the characters and events involved in the great scheme of redemption. He named the first sign VIRGO--for the Redeemer of the world would come forth as a child, born of a Virgin. The last sign he named LEO--the figure of a great rampant lion, leaping forth to rend, with his feet over the writhing body of Hydra, the Serpent, which is in the act of fleeing. The Lion of the tribe of Judah prevails. The Serpent of that long ago Eden is defeated. Christ IN US is Victor. The conflict ends, the warfare is b[ought to a successful conclusion, all strife ceases. Sin, error, sickness, pain, sorrow and death forever flee away. Victory is secure! All things are restored! Man lives again tall and magnificent in the image of God!
At the time of the building of the tower of Babel, under the rebellion and apostasy of Nimrod, who introduced idolatry into the world, this glorious truth of God was corrupted into pagan mythology, whereby instead of these being signs of God and His salvation, by which men should know the Lord, and understand His wonderful plan of the ages, they were changed into deities themselves and people began to worship the host of heaven: the sun, the moon, the planets and the stars. These became the great gods of Babylon, Assyria, Greece and Rome. How plain it is--even a child can understand!--all false religion, even from the distant dawn of history, is but a PERVERSION OF THE TRUTH!
In ancient times there were more constellations recognized than the twelve signs of the Zodiac. Each of the twelve signs has three other constellations grouped around it. Thus, altogether there are twelve Zodiacal signs with 36 additional constellations. These secondary constellations are called "Decans," from the Shemitic term DEK, meaning a "part" or "piece." The Decans are therefore "sidepieces," indicating that they belong to the sign and that their message is a part of that sign's message. As previously pointed out, each Zodiacal sign has three Decans, or three secondary constellations grouped about it. These three additional constellations are a part of that sign's revelation. Therefore, to fully comprehend the significance of each sign we must examine not only the major sign, but also its three Decans. The sign of VIRGO has its three Decans: the constellations of Coma, Centaurus, and Bootes. Before proceeding to the next major sign let us consider the three Decans or other pieces of Virgo's house.
The first is called Coma. It depicts a woman sitting in a chair holding a child in her arms, which she i~ contemplating and admiring. The name Coma means "the desired" or "the longed for"--the very word which Haggai the prophet uses where he speaks of the coming Messiah as "THE DESIRE of all nations." "And I will shake all nations, and THE DESIRE of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts" (Hag. 2:7). The ancient Egyptian name for this constellation was SHES-NU, meaning THE DESIRED SON! The woman in Virgo, and the woman in this first De-can of Virgo, as well as the sun-clad woman in Rev. 12 are one and the same; and the infant here is everywhere identified with the Seed and the Branch. Historically this is Jesus the Christ. But prophetically it is the manchild of the manifested sons of God--the complete Christ, Head and body. Oh, the mystery of it! How this precious child is DESIRED!
"For even the whole creation waits expectantly and longs earnestly for God's sons to be made known--waits for the revealing, the disclosing of their sonship. For...the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and corruption and gain an entrance into the glorious freedom of God's children" (Rom. 8:19,21). When Paul by inspiration penned these blessed words of hope he did not have in mind a manifestation of God's sons after the order of which Jesus was manifested while on earth. Jesus glorified the Father on the earth plane, and so do we; but this is not the glory yet to be revealed that we anticipate, neither is it the hope for which the whole creation is in travail. The glory to which we are called as sons of God is not the glory Jesus had on earth, but the glory for which He prayed when His earth-walk was completed: "And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was." Paul wrote, "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall YE also appear WITH HIM IN GLORY" (Co]. 3:4). And Peter declared, "But the God of all grace...hath called us unto HIS ETERNAL GLORY by Christ Jesus" (I Pet. 5:10).
I can assure you, precious friend of mine, that this resurrection glory, this incorruptible glory, this eternal glory is the HOPE OF ALL CREATION. We rejoice in the manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit, in prophecies, visions, healings, miracles, temporal blessings and provisions, but I must confess that I am saddened to see the Lord's people continually following after mere TEMPORAL SIGNS and PHYSICAL, MATERIAL, MORTAL BLESSINGS. It is a distress to my soul to see my precious sick brethren (as well as myself) healed by the power of God, only to behold them smitten later by some other debilitating disease. What sorrow it brings to the human heart to see the precious men and/women of God who have walked in the Spirit, and proclaimed the revelation of God, and have so mightily blessed God's people finally grow old or be struck down by some loathsome disease and pass from our midst into the silence of the grave. I grow tired of healing the sick only to see them sick again. It is frustrating to pray for the same saints over and over again for the same problems and weaknesses. I say it reverently, but I am weary of seeing the dead raised just to watch them aging and weakening on their way into death again. I tire of signs and wonders which cater only to the flesh, and minister solely to the physical man on the plane of mortality: food, raiment, money, and all the rest of the corruptible things of earth. I am deeply discontented with that which blesses men in the natural but then leaves them to carry on their lives in corruptible bodies and natures. There is NO ETERNAL GLORY nor is there any release from THE BONDAGE OF CORRUPTION in any of these things. How expressive the word which the Spirit selected when He inspired the apostle to write: "For in this (our earthly house) we groan, EARNESTLY DESIRINC to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven... that mortality might be swallowed up of life" (II Cor. 5:1-5). Paul says that the whole creation GROANS and EARNESTLY AWAITS the manifestation of the sons of God, and we ourselves ALSO GROAN, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. This incorruptible race of the manifested sons of God is the "desired son"--COMA! The "greater works" of which Jesus spoke will appear when thus corruptible has fully put on incorruption and the sons of God are put on display in the fullness of His divine life and Glory. When we consider the transcendent majesty and power of the glory of a ministry beyond limitation, death, and the curse, it seems but little wonder that such deliverance and reality is indeed THE DESIRE OF ALL NATIONS. With what anticipation do we wait for this glorious manifestation!
The second constellation of Virgo is Centaurus. It is depicted as a centaur, which in ancient times was a creature having the head and torso of a man, with the body and legs of a horse, and thus a dual-natured being. Centaurs were believed to be heaven-be-gotten. They were born of the clouds; they were sons of the gods. But they were despised, hated and abhorred by both gods and men. They were fought, driven to the mountains, and finally exterminated. The Centaur in the Decan of Virgo is pictured going forth as a hunter, with a spear he is slaying a beast which is called the VICTIM, and the whole scene appears in the heavens against the back-ground of the Southern Cross or Crux. The name of this constellation in Arabic, Chaldaic and Hebrew was BEZEH, meaning "the despised one"--just the opposite of Coma, "the desired." Yet--they are one and the same! This title BEZEH, meaning "the despised one," is found several times in Hebrew Old Testament. Most commonly known of the passages in which it is to be discovered is Isa. 53:3 where it appears twice in one verse. Referring to the rejection of Israel's Messiah by that nation, the prophet cries, "He is DESPISED (BEZEH) and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and we hid as it were our faces from Him; and He was DESPISED (BEZEH) and we esteemed Him not."
Let us summarize the scene. Here is a double-natured being, out of the heavens, yet in the likeness of men, who, to men is repulsive and despised, yet really great, powerful and beneficent, pushing with his spear at the heart of some victim, and moving all the while over the constellation of the Cross. What a picture! Historically this is Jesus, the man who is the Lord from heaven, but made in the likeness of sinful flesh, humbling Himself to be despised and rejected of men, yet great, powerful and glorious with words divine attended by signs, wonders, miracles, and authority and grace such as men had never witnessed, yet laying down His life, slaying Himself, as a Victim, over a cross, as a sacrifice, a sweet smelling savour unto God.
The message which beams from this awe-inspiring picture like the blazing rays of the noon-day sun is one of SACRIFICIAL LOVE--REDEEMING LOVE. The truth of love in Jesus Christ was that He loved without retaliation for evil, a love that suffered long, even to the agonies of the cross, and then was kind enough to pray: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Lk. 23:34). And I declare to you that regardless of what other sins those wicked men may come into judgment for, they will never stand in the judgment condemned for killing the Son of God, for HE AND HIS FATHER FORGAVE THEM! This truth of the love of God in Jesus Christ must also be true in us, the younger sons of God. Jesus did not love people because He loved Himself, as it was under the law. It was the Father's unconditional and all-surpassing love flowing through Him, surging as a mighty river out to humanity, overflowing redemptively, so that He could say, "Let your love for others not be based on love for yourself, but on what was true in Me: If the Father could love Judas through Me, and love Peter through Me, and the people that crucified Me, then let the Father's love so find expression through you."
In years past we have sung a chorus that goes like this: "His love has no limits, His grace has no measure, His power has no boundaries known unto man; for out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again." This is a lovely chorus and I love to sing it and I say it is true. In Jesus Christ, there is NO LIMIT to His love, NO MEASURE to His grace, and NO BOUNDARIES to His power for He is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and His mercy endureth FOREVER. If I say that there is one sin, one condition, one creature, one place, one age or group of ages unto which His love and His grace shall not reach then I LIE and know not the truth. Jesus loved His friends, His enemies, the man who betrayed Him, the man who denied Him, the men who nailed Him to the cross. There just was no limit to His love! You could never find a place where you could say, "So far would He love, but no farther." Is that love true in us? Or do we say, "Well, I will only stand so much, I will only forgive so long, I will only trust so far, and that is the end of it." It is God's purpose that His love should find no limit in us, His grace no measure in us and His power no boundary in us.
God is preparing a people who, when they stand up and say, "God is love," are not talking about God's love in heaven, or God's love in Jesus; no, they will be expressing the love of God in their own person. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son" (Jn. 3:16). Everyone likes a verse like that. But how many would like a verse like this: "God still loves the world so much that He would like to give His sons, right now." We do not like that. We like to be sons if God will keep us, if He will bless us, if He will take us to His bosom and not let us go. But what does God do with His sons? Why, He GIVES THEM! Jesus said, "As the Father has sent Me, even so send I you." What did Jesus also say? "This is My flesh, My B-O-D-Y, which I GIVE for the life of the world." If we are His body, then will He not give us for the life of the world? "Oh," someone says, "I do not like the kind of religion where I do not get something." Well, my brother, my sister, that is how it starts, by receiving, but it must not end there. We must come to the place where God can give us, where we can lie down and become a channel, a river--the River of Life poured out into humanity!
This is the high drama of the double-natured Centaur carrying the spear and slaying the Victim--for those elect sons of God represented by this Centaur are both human and divine, earthly and heavenly, and they are both Centaur and Victim. It means the laying down of the life for the world. It is the receiving of heaven's life into earthen vessels, but not for our sakes, but for creation's sake, that there shall be an out-flowing of God into men's lives. If you have been trying to prove something out of the Bible, let it be proved out of your life instead. Let us say, "Father, make your truth to be reality and life in me and through me." This is sonship! This, beloved, is the Victim dying, not in the place of mankind, but FOR or ON BEHALF of mankind, universally pouring out his life unto all. This is God IN us, God AS us, God LIVING TH~-OUGH us, God FLOWING OUT of us, loving through us, redeeming through us, reconciling and restoring all by us. Amen. So be it!
THE FOOLISH FIVE-FOLD MINISTRY
There is a truth enunciated by the apostle Paul in I Cor. 1:26-29 that should hold us spellbound once we grasp its meaning. The statement is very simple and, like so many profound truths, it is easily missed, going completely unnoticed. But you, O people of God, partakers of the heavenly calling and sharers together with Christ Jesus in the sonship for which all creation groans, should give continual meditation and consideration to these words. Paul, having stated that Christ is both the wisdom and power of God, and that the FOOLISHNESS OF GOD is wiser than men and the WEAKNESS OF GOD stronger than men, says, "For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the FOOLISH THINGS of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the WEAK things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and BASE things of the world, and things which are DESPISED, hath God chosen, yea, and things which ARE NOT, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in His presence."
There are five powerful ministries listed in this remarkable passage--a FIVE-FOLD MINISTRY. Many men have aspired to be a part of God's great five-fold ministry set forth in Eph. 4:11. Who wouldn't covet the ministry of an apostle, a prophet, an evangelist, a pastor or teacher? The world has been turned up-side down by such ministries! But the five-fold ministry revealed in I Cor. 1:27-28 has nothing to do with these ministries at all. Rather, it is what I have termed GOD'S FOOLISH FIVE-FOLD MINISTRY. These five ministries are just as real and far more powerful, effective and far-reaching than the more popular five-fold ministry. The five ministries mentioned in Eph. 4:11 are exclusively for the body of Christ, for the perfecting of the saints, but the five superlative ministries set forth in I Cor. 1:27-28 are universal in scope, Kingdom in character, subduing all things unto God. This powerful and effective five-fold ministry shakes empires off their hinges, subdues kingdoms, confounds the wisdom of the mighty, and brings to nought all the things that are. All those blessed ones apprehended to sonship will share in this invincible ministry. In spite of their surpassing glory and irresistible power we do not desire them, but they come to us just as .surely as day follows night. They come to us unannounced and unsolicited. None of us would invite these God-ordained ministries to come our way! But God in His great wisdom and unsearchable ways sends them to us that we may know Him as He is and learn the strange but wonderful WAYS OF HIS KINGDOM. Now that we see how important and powerful these ministries are, let me present them to you:
(I) foolish things
(2) weak things
(3) base things
(4) despised things
(5) things which are not
We need not look to the great men of this age, nor yet to the esteemed religious leaders of this age, nor the wise men after the corrupt wisdom of this age to be the ones who will bear the government of the Kingdom of God in the age and ages to come. It remains then, for us to see that "GOD HATH CHOSEN the FOOLISH things of the world to confound the wise (that is, the things which the WORLD CALLS FOOLISH); and God hath chosen the WEAK things of the world to confound the things that are mighty (that is, the things that the world deems weak); and the BASE things of the world, and the things which ARE DESPISED, hath God chosen, yea, and the things which ARE NOT to bring to nought the things that are: that no flesh should glory in His presence."
Seeing, then, that God has rejected the wisdom and power and honor of this world and its vain system and has chosen instead a people that the wisdom of the-world considers foolish, stupid, weak and of no account, we should readily see that divine wisdom has chosen those who for His name are despised, who glory not in the wisdom of men, but who glory in the hidden wisdom of God revealed in Jesus Christ our Lord who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption, according as it is written, "He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord" (I Cor. 1:31).
It is interesting to note that the word FOOLISH is from the Greek word MOROS meaning "dull, stupid, heedless, blockhead, absurd." Furthermore, this Greek word is the word from which we get our English word MORON. Ah--God has chosen a company of dull, stupid, nit-witted, heedless, absurd, moronic blockheads (by this world's standards!) to confound the irrational wise ones of this world's system! The word CONFOUND means "to put to shame or disgrace." Well did Ray Prinzing write: "God hath chosen what the world calls foolish, to confound the world's wisdom. Among all the descriptive phrases used by Paul, one especially stands out, when he says, 'and base things...' The Greek word for 'base' used here is: AGENES. The letter 'a' when placed in front of a word, reverses its meaning, either from negative to positive, or from positive to negative. Here it is in the latter case, and it provides for us this thought: God is going to have the ones who have boasted in their 'genes' as of royal lineage, to be confounded by those of ignoble, or common birth. Not many mighty, not many noble, are called. Thank God for those that are--but they soon learn that they have nothing to boast of in the natural, for it is only HIS LIFE IN US that is of real value. And HE can take the weakest, and the basest, and use them to BRING TO NOUGHT, to make useless, to down-idle, the things wherein men once trusted" --end quote.
There is absolutely no need for any of us to try to search out the ways, means and methods that God employs to bring His purposes to pass. For God has declared and written that He will destroy the wisdom of the wise and will even bring to nothing the wisdom of the prudent. And, as we have seen, the FOOLISHNESS of God, is WISER than men. Or this thing that appears to be so foolish to the carnal mind (the Christ and His work) is actually the WISDOM OF GOD. Not a great many wise men, after the flesh, are called of God. They are left to follow the plan prescribed for them, and in God's due time and according to His plan, they will be brought to a knowledge of God. Their wisdom, which is nothing but foolishness, will drop from them, light will shine upon their path and they will be brought to understand at last what true wisdom is.
"For though He was crucified through weakness, yet He liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God" (II Cor. 13:4). "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Phil. 4:13). In becoming WEAK IN HIM, brought to obedience unto the death of His cross, we are also brought to the end of our self-life, in its carnality, perverted consciousness, distorted understanding, and deceptive illusion. But rather than being destroyed by this process, there is a new and glorious living by the power of God out of our own reality of SPIRIT-LIFE. There is a revelation in weakness that few have comprehended. The purpose is to magnify the supremacy of the SPIRIT, the power of the divine life released through us, while discouraging completely the strength, wisdom, and reality of the OUTER MAN. Again I would share an enlightening insight from the able pen of Ray Prinzing: "Regardless of Paul's natural stature, be he a short man, or otherwise, I do envision him standing before men and speaking with power and authority because of the revelation of God which he possessed, and because of the anointing upon his message. His boldness, his free-spokenness was IN GOD, not as the result of being psyched up by his own ego. The natural world today relies heavily upon this self-psyched state. Athletes will win or lose a game according to the degree they mentally 'jack themselves up' until they feel themselves to be superior to all the athletes in contest with them. On the energy-force of this mental state, combined with a physical body that has been toned and prepared for this hour, they emit a self-confidence that is used to intimidate their opponent. However this self-induced state cannot be maintained, and they will 'peak out,' burn up their resources, and afterwards have a 'let down' and be unable to continue any immediately stressful conflict. How OPPOSITE is the way of the child of God, who knows that 'in himself he is nothing,' and then, relying solely upon the power of God, can move forth in divine confidence. Thus, at the same time Paul was speaking forth the truth by the power of the Spirit, yet he was conscious of his own weakness, that in his flesh (outer man) dwelt no good thing (Rom. 7:18). Be there any sufficiency at all, it would have to be BY THE POWER OF GOD. Nor did Paul desire that people put their trust in him--this would be building a kingdom of man, which man would have to maintain. There must be a BALANCE, for while we have a 'consciousness of our weakness,' we must not develop a WEAKNESS COMPLEX. For though it is true, I AM WEAK, yet it is also true, I CAN DO ALL THINGS! Thank God when He imparts to us a real understanding and comprehension of our own weakness--we should not despair because of it, because it becomes the arena wherein He can show forth HIS POWER. 'Out of weakness were made strong...' (Heb. 11:34)" --end quote.
In the physical universe we have the example of the atom. The tremendous power which we fear in our world is not the flow of great rivers or the floods which they cause. It is not the might of the tide as it pushes the millions of tons of water forward and then draws them back again. It is not the flash of the lightning or the crack of the thunder. It is something so small that we cannot see it. It is the atom which we fear, and it is the atom which has the unlimited power to blow the world apart. What would seem to be the weakest thing in the world is in reality an unbelievably powerful force. So it is that God in His dealing with humanity uses, not the great spectacular things which worldly rulers use, but the insignificant things which men despise
One of the unique workings of God in the earth is that He has always delighted to use small instances to launch mighty movements. Divine wisdom has never been particular about the condition or position from which He selects His privileged sons who were to change the ages. God has His failures. His Kingdom cannot do without them. These failures are His men and women of promise, weak in themselves and the wisdom of this world, often walking the way of defeat, failure, humiliation, and resignation--unto glory. Did God choose ancient Israel because they were more or better or stronger than anybody else? If you had to choose a people to lead the rest of the world you probably would select the greatest and strongest on earth. But that is not how God works. Almighty God, in His infinite wisdom, works JUST THE OPPOSITE. God is the great miracle worker. He makes something out of nothing, and somebody's out of nobodies.
Pharaoh thought that by slaying all the Hebrew male infants in Egypt that he could further oppress the people of God, but the very edict he sent forth opened the door for little Moses to slip right into his own house and be raised as his own son, finally overthrowing his throne and scattering the Egyptian tyrant and his armies upon the rocky depths of the Red Sea. Thus was the wisdom of Egypt confounded. Ah, the weak things! What was weaker than Moses' rod? God sent Moses against the mightiest empire of the world. Egypt then ruled the world. When Moses was wanted for God's service he was found on the back side of a mountain feeding sheep. God found him with just a shepherd's stick, and said, "What is that thou hast in thy hand?" and he answered, "A rod," and God said, "Throw it on the ground," and when he had done so it became a serpent, and Moses was afraid of it, but God said, "Take it by the tail," and he trusted God and took it by the tail, and it became a rod again. He stretched that rod over Egypt ten times, and ten times the heavens parted and God sent judgment on that people. With that rod he smote the waters of the Red Sea and they parted. With that rod he struck Jacob's rock at Horeb, and a vast Mississippi River sprang forth, enough for three and a half million famished souls, and all with flocks and herds. God chose the WEAK THINGS.
God chooses the foolish things. It must have seemed very foolish to the people of Jericho for the army of God, 600,000 men, to march around Jericho with no weapons but ram's horns! Think of it. What artillery! What cannonading can they do? To the military wiseacres this was worse than nonsense; but still the 600,000 men marched and did nothing but blow ram's horns until the time came to shout, and when they shouted the echo of their shout was answered by the roar and crash of the falling walls of the doomed city. The thing that seemed foolish proved the greatest triumph possible.
The Lord spoke to, and dealt with Gideon so encouragingly, when he was hidden in the winepress beating out wheat. The angel saluted him with: "Jehovah is with thee, thou mighty man of valor." Gideon did not appear to be either a mighty man or a man of valor, for he was hidden away for fear of the enemy. But it was not anything in Gideon that made him mighty; it was because of the Mighty One in the midst of him. And the Lord led him on until His gentleness made Gideon great, and he really became a mighty man of valor. How preciously God woos us on; and as we yield that He may work in us, He ascribes to us the fruit of His own working upon and within us, for HE IS MIGHTY IN US. What could be weaker than Gideon's three hundred, and what were their weapons? Nothing but lamps and pitchers, and the lamps would not shine until the pitchers were broken. The earthen pitcher represents the majority of believers today whose consciousness of their identity in the outer flesh-life has never been smashed to pieces by the inward power of the Holy Spirit. But when the pitchers were broken the inner light shone out with such brilliance that three hundred men with NOTHING BUT LIGHT were enough to scatter the hosts of the enemy and give victory. If our military generals are going to fight a battle they would want more men than that. But when God wants to fight a battle He delights in getting hold of the SMALLEST THING HE CAN FIND. He knew how to tumble a cake of barley-meal down into the camp of the Midianites, and have it confuse them so that they fell to slaying themselves, and the victory was the Lord's. In like manner ONE WORD from the realm of SPIRIT is enough to confuse and put to flight all the forces of sin, sickness, sorrow and death from the carnal mind.
What was weaker than David's sling? It was just such a sling as any boy could make. David slipped down to the brook and picked up five stones, and gained a victory for God that all the army of Israel had failed to gain. Oh yes, God not only uses the foolish things, and the despised things, He also uses the ARE NOTS to bring to nought the things that are. Years after the slaying of Goliath David gathered around him 400 men who have been called DAVID'S MIGHTY MEN. But just who were these "mighty men"? These were the men out of Israel who were in distress, in debt, misfits, and discontented. They were a motley crew of FAILURES! But David under the leadership of the Holy Spirit took that weak and base and despised army and made them expert in war.
Note how rare it is that a prophet ever comes forth from the ranks of privilege in either Church or State. Your mighty Elisha comes from the plough; it is seldom that he comes from the conventional school of the prophets. It seemed very foolish for Jesus in choosing disciples to ignore Jerusalem with the Sanhedrin and all its culture. There was no shortage of trained religious professionals to choose from--priests, scribes, lawyers, Pharisees, and Sadducees --but Jesus bypassed them all for a group of nobodies. How strange--to the natural man--that He ignored Rome--Rome that ruled the world, and was in the height of her splendor! The Son of God goes down to the shores of Galilee and gets twelve men. Here comes a young, unheard-of itinerant preacher from Nazareth, the "place of no good thing." He has only a collection of bedraggled, uneducated, untutored, unschooled, unlettered, unsophisticated men around Him who smell of fish. This is His corporate board of directors. Yet He claims }It is going to triumph over Rome! When the hour arrive for Jesus to inaugurate His Church, the Pastor (Jesus Himself) was being executed between two thieves. The chairman of the board (Peter) was out cursing and swearing that he had never even met the Master. The treasurer (Judas) was committing suicide after embezzling funds. Most of the rest of the board members (the apostles) had run away. A few ladies from the Women's Fellowship were about the only ones who showed much faithfulness. Talk about a bunch of "ARE NOTS"! Shortly thereafter He leaves His followers with an assignment to preach the Word of His Kingdom in the uttermost parts of She earth. Little did those simple fishermen know that their work would one day extend to Hong Kong, Rio de Janeiro, Lagos, London, and even Moscow! But when He had chosen them and filled them with fire out of the skies, the wisdom of this world was not able to resist the power with which they spake. !'Foolish things" hath God chosen! "It pleased God," Augustine beautifully says, "in His infinite mercy, to save philosophers by means of fishermen, and not fishermen by means of philosophers."
What was ever so weak as Christ? "He was crucified through weakness" (II Cor. 13:4). When God said, "Let us make man in our image, and after our likeness, and let them have dominion," it seems that God made a mistake. When He lowered that man into this gross material realm, made of dirt, of the dust of the ground, and formed him with the kind of human body we have, flesh and blood, soul and body, with all the appetites, desires and weaknesses we have, all the frailty, all the ability for twisting, warping, and spoiling things, when He created us like that and then thought that in such a physical, human, natural, earth-made body HIS IMAGE COULD BE MANIFESTED, it seems that God was mistaken. Could that human creature limited like us, rule the world, and judge angels, and subdue and control all the unbounded heavens unto the unlimited vastnesses of infinity? So God said, I will invade humanity and come down in the person of My Son, limit Myself to a human, physical body just like man has, with all its appetites, hunger, weakness, sorrow and death, and I will demonstrate the character, the life, the love, and the power of God on the human level. THE INCARNATION WAS GOD MANIFESTING HIMSELF WITHIN THE LIMITATION OF A HUMAN BODY. Christ could not fly like a bird, He could not see further than anybody else, He could not run faster than the other young men in His day, He got as tired as anybody else, He got hungry and thirsty, fell asleep, they could spit on Him and finally kill Him. Yet in Jesus Christ you have the perfect expression of God and the demonstration of the ultimate triumph of THE SPIRIT over all the weakness of the flesh.
What is the importance of God in Christ Jesus? It means that the Spirit of God, the Son of God, the inner man, God Himself, can live and express Himself in a physical human body. When God invaded humanity in the body of Jesus Christ, took upon Himself human nature and limitation, was made in the likeness, not of glorified flesh, but of sinful flesh, and for thirty-three and a half years lived, walked, slept, and died in that body, manifesting God in the scope of humanity, it meant that God can by His Spirit of life within you, my beloved, live in these human bodies of ours, living in us, loving in us, reigning in us, speaking in us, blessing in us, and manifesting Himself in the absolute fullness of His Godhead. Being mocked, God was living in Him. Asleep in the back of a boat, God was living in Him. He goes to a tree and finds nothing on it, and God is living in Him. When He was weary, persecuted, hated, spit upon, nailed to the cross, God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.
Do you see what God did? He made it possible for Himself to be at home in human bodies. "The tabernacle of God is with MAN" (Rev. 21:3). Not with angels, with man. "We beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (Jn. 1:14). The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you," is the inspired admonition (Col. 3:16). This is not God in Jesus, this is God in YOU! That is not just a figure of speech, in your physical body is the tabernacle, the dwelling place of the eternal God. In man dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. "That you might be filled with ALL THE FULLNESS OF GOD" (Eph. 3:19). God demonstrated this will of God for all mankind in the person of Jesus Christ, GOD manifest in the flesh. "The Father and I will...make our abode--be at home--with you" (Jn. 14:23). "Abode" means not to be a visitor but to settle down, without conflict. The SPIRIT will abide with you forever, so that the mind of the Spirit flows through your mind normally and naturally. The word of God shall flow out of your mouth normally and naturally. It seems some so-called prophecy cannot come forth unless the speaker starts to shake or change his tone of voice. Don't you know that God was speaking through Jesus all the time?
It is a wonder when we think of the method that God used to accomplish the redemption. It was not that He appeared as some blazing flame of fire from the heavens. No! He came as "a little tiny baby thing that made His mother cry." God in swaddling clothes! A wonder indeed to behold! God as a teenager, God as a carpenter God as the wandering peasant preacher who proclaimed a new message which startled men. Everywhere He went He caused people to wonder, "What manner of man is this?" In one moment He is wearily lying in the back of a ship and in the next He says, "Peace, be still," and the waves cease their roaring and the winds die at His command. "What manner of man is this?" "Whence hath He these things, seeing that He never learned?" Here the wisest man that ever lived astounds the doctors and the lawyers and the theologians with the depth and profundity of His wisdom. It is a wonder by the principle on which it operates, a principle which is so foreign to anything we know in this world. It is a principle which most people have never even dimly grasped--that God is Spirit, that God tabernacles in human flesh, that man is basically spiritual, not physical, that we can live out of the Spirit so that out of the greatest weakness is revealed the greatest strength, God manifest in the flesh! It is the principle that GOD HATH CHOSEN THE FOOLISH, WEAK, BASE, AND DESPISED THINGS of the world to confound the wisdom of the wise and the power of the mighty.
The meaning of the incarnation is that God could drink out of a bottle if Jesus drank out of a bottle, God in Him learned to crawl before He learned to walk, God learned a language and stumbled over the words before He got it straight, for God limited Himself to the limitation of man that He might increase in man to the unlimited capacity of the Spirit. When God dwells in us and Christ is living in us, it is not something foreign that has invaded us. Paul did not say, "For me to be spiritual and shake and fall out under the power is Christ." He said, "For me to LIVE is Christ" (Phil. 1:21). Living for Paul did not mean those supernatural moments when he was seeing visions and hearing voices and being caught up into the third heaven. It meant for Paul to walk from one town to another on the dusty streets with Christ walking in him and as him. It was for Paul to sew tents, with Christ making tents through him. It was speaking to people and manifesting the love of God, with Christ manifesting that love through him. THE LIVING OF HIS LIFE WAS CHRIST. So now God can be at home in us, without any strangeness or abnormality. God can live in us, manifest His life in us in the office, in the shop, in the home, in every relationship of life. At all times, in all places, under all circumstances it is God manifest in the flesh, the Spirit living out through the soul and body. As one brother said, "I drive my car in the Spirit--if you don't believe it you should see the spirit some people drive their cars in!"
As great as was the mighty apostle Paul, yet he said that he was the "chief of sinners," the "offscouring of all things," "contemptible" in the eyes of so many, "for they say, His letters are weighty and impressive and forceful and telling, but his personality and bodily presence are weak, and his speech and delivery are utterly contemptible of no account" (II Cor. 10:10). It should not surprise us that those whom the Lord has chosen and is preparing to PROMOTE to the highest rank for His own pre-deter-mined purposes will be those that seem most unlikely and unfit for such a "high calling" according to human estimates and values. And it should not seem strange to us that God has deliberately chosen for the firstfruits company of the sons of God, those typified by Jacob the schemer and trickster, by Joseph misunderstood, hated, sold into slavery and condemned to years of misery and oblivion in an Egyptian dungeon, by David the young shepherd boy, who was the least likely candidate for becoming king amongst his seven brothers, by the dark-skinned Shulamite maiden (a native shepherdess) of the Song of Solomon, who was so dark and uncomely and common, of peasantry rather than royalty! I do not hesitate to tell you that those precious saints who walk in the Spirit, love the truth and embrace the promises--who by any religious standards would be voted the most UNLIKELY TO SUCCEED in any spiritual endeavor--will in fact be God's Kings and Priests for the age and the ages to come!
The following words penned by George Hawtin add a dimension of fullness to the truth I now share. "Thus is the door of sonship SLAMMED SHUT in the face of the rich, the mighty, the famous, and the great, but OPPENED WIDE to the poor, the humble, and the unknown. 'For He hath shown strength with His arm; He hath SCATTERED T~E PROUD in the imagination of his heart. He hath PUT DOWN THE MIGHTY from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath FILLED THE HUNGRY with good things, and THE RICH He hath sent EMPTY AWAY' (Lk. 1:51-53). Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are they that mourn, blessed are the merciful, blessed are the pure in heart, blessed are the peacemakers, and blessed are the persecuted, for they shall be called God's sons and they shall be the children of the Kingdom of God. Is it any wonder then that those mighty shall be ashamed who come saying, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name, and in Thy name done MANY WONDERFUL WORKS,' for they shall hear Him say, 'I NEVER KNEW YOU!' It is a sadness to my heart that the world today is filled with such men. You hear them and see them everywhere. They clamor to be rich and honored of men, but they shall be ashamed. Let the humble who have faithfully prayed, suffered persecution, been misunderstood and unnoticed as they cast their mite into the treasury of the Lord, rejoice, for HE HATH REGARDED THE LOWLY ESTATE of His handmaiden, and the rich He hath sent away empty" --end quote.
As we approach the more excellent ministry of the sons of God and that greater glory of the age of the Kingdom of God, I must confess that in the face of my own weakness and the seeming insignificance of those elect of God scattered across the face of the earth today I feel a bit like the little boy in a story I heard one time. The little boy called at a house selling picture post cards for a dime a piece. He was asked what he was going to do with the money he was earning. He said, "I'm raising $100,000 for our new school building." The startled customer replied, "Do you expect to raise it all by yourself?" He answered with a straight and serious face, "Oh, no sir. There's another little boy helping me."
That, precious friend of mine, is just the glory of CENTAURUS--"the despised"--who lays down his life, bringing redemption to all mankind! Centaurus is the epitome of those foolish, weak, base, and despised are not to who bring to nought the powers that are. Glorious victory! Hallelujah to the Lamb!
Brother, sister, do you feel neglected, unnoticed, unhonored, unseen, and unsung? Do you seem to those who know you, as being a little peculiar, as one who certainly isn't doing much for God--separated from all the religious activities, soul saving crusades, not involved with the great and grandiose programs of the church systems of the. world? Surely you are judged as having little or nothing, for your strong foundations, laid down during a long period of processing, are hardly noticeable to those who pass by. "Nevertheless THE FOUNDATION OF GOD STANDETH SURE, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His!" (II Tim. 2:19). As someone has written, "You may be so unlearned that you cannot recite the alphabet, so unwise that you could not make one right decision, so weak that all men would oppress you, and so dishonored that none would associate with you, but if your spirit has beheld these things which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, then you have attained a wisdom which this world knoweth not. Cod did not choose you because you were better or greater than someone else, but because God chose you and ordained you that He might commit unto you the word of reconciliation for the age to come when all men, through the ministry of God's sons, shall be brought to the fullness of the knowledge of God. There was nothing in us that we deserved to be chosen. The God of Jerusalem said to her, 'Thy birth and thy nativity is in the land of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite. And as for thy nativity, in the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to supple thee; thou wast not salted at all nor swaddled at all. None eye pitied thee, to do any of these unto thee...' (Eze. 16:3-5). We were chosen rather for weakness than for strength and for our foolishness rather than our wisdom, for GOD HAS CHOSEN the weak things to confound the mighty and foolish things to confound the wise, and things which are not to bring to nought the things that are that no FLESH should glory in His presence."
J. PRESTON EBY
P O BOX 371240
El Paso Texas
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