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Monday, January 14, 2013

A Message Inwrought By Actual Experience

Prophetic Ministry

You see, the principle is at work all the time, that God is going to make the ministry and the minister identical. You see it in all the prophets. The Lord stood at nothing. He took infinite pains. He worked even through domestic life, the closest relationships of life. Think of the tragedy of Hosea's life. Think of Ezekiel, whose wife the Lord took away in death at a stroke. The Lord said, 'Get up in the morning, anoint your face, allow not the slightest suggestion of mourning or tragedy to be detected; go out as always before, as though nothing had happened; show yourself to the people, go about with a bright countenance, provoke them to inquire what you mean by such outrageous behavior.' The Lord brought this heartbreak upon him and then required him to act thus. Why? Ezekiel was a prophet; he had got to embody his message, and the message was this: 'Israel, God's wife, has become lost to God, dead to God, and Israel takes no notice of it; she goes on the same as ever, as though nothing had happened.' The prophet must bring it home by his own experience. God is working the thing right in. He works it in in deep and terrible ways in the life of His servant to produce ministry.

God is not allowing us to take up things and subjects. If we are under the Holy Spirit, He is going to make us prophets; that is, He is going to make the prophecy a thing that has taken place in us, so that what we say is only making vocal something that has been going on, that has been done in us. God has been doing it through years in strange, deep, terrible ways in some lives, standing at nothing, touching everything; and the vessel, thus wrought upon, is the message. People do not come to hear what you have to teach. They have come to see what you "are", to see that thing which has been wrought by God. What a price the prophetic instrument has to pay!

So Moses went into the wilderness, to the awful undoing of his natural life, his natural mentality; to be brought to zero; to have the thing wrought in him. And was God justified? - for after all it was a question of resource for the future. Oh, the strain that was going t bear down upon that life! Sometimes Moses almost broke; at times he did crack under the strain. "I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me" (Numbers 11:14). What was his resource? Oh, if it had been the old resource of Egypt he would not have stood it for a year. He could not stand provocation in Egypt, he must rise up and fight. He broke down morally and spiritually under that little strain away back there forty years before. What would he do with these rebels? How long would he put up with them? A terrific strain was going to bear down upon him, and only a deep inwrought thing, something that had been done inside, would be enough to carry through when it was a case of standing against the stream for God's full thought.

With us, too, the strain may be terrific; often there will come the very strong temptation - 'Let go a little, compromise a little, do not be so utter; you will get more open doors if you will only broaden out a bit; you can have a lot more if you ease up!' What is going to save you in that hour of temptation? The only thing is that God has done this thing in you. It is part of your very being, not something you can give up; it is you, your very life. That is the only thing. God knew what He was doing with Moses. The thing had got to be so much one with the man that there was no dividing between them. The man was the prophetic ministry.

He was rejected by his brethren; they would not have him. "Who made thee a prince and a judge over us?" (Exodus 2:14). That is the human side of it. But there was the Divine side. It was of God that he went into the wilderness for forty years. It had to be, from God's side. It looked as though it was man's doing. But it was not so. These two things went together. Rejection by his brethren was all in line with the sovereign purpose of God. it was the only way in which God got the opportunity He needed to reconstitute this man. The real preparation of this prophet took place during the time that his brethren repudiated him. Oh, the sovereignty of God, the wonderful sovereignty of God! A dark time, a deep time; a breaking, crushing, grinding time; emptied out. It seems as if everything is going, that nothing will be left. yet all that is God's way of making prophetic ministry.

A Messenger Divinely Attested

I expect that Moses at the beginning would have been very legalistic, laying down the law - 'You must do this and that' - and so on; an autocrat or despot. When, after those years, we find him coming off the wheel, out of the hands of the Potter, he is said to be "very meek, above all the men that were upon the face of this earth" (Numbers 12:3), and God could stand by him then. He could not stand by him on that day when he rose up in a spirit of pride, arrogance, self-assertiveness. God had to let that work itself out to its inevitable consequence. But when Moses, as the meekest of men, the broken, humble, selfless man, was challenged by others as to his office - at such a time Moses did not stand up for his position, his rights; he just handed the matter over to the Lord. His attitude was, 'We will allow the Lord to decide. I have no personal position to preserve: if the Lord has made me His prophet, let Him show it. I am prepared to go out of office if it is not of the Lord.' What a different spirit! And the Lord did stand by him marvelously and mightily on those occasions, and terribly so for those who opposed themselves (Numbers 12:2; 16:3).

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 1 - "Prophetic Ministry A Life, Not Teaching

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