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Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Ministry of Elijah # 4

Separation From the Self-Life

So the Lord said to Elijah, "Get thee hence ..." Hence? Where from? From this exposure, this publicity, this open place with all its dangers. "Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan." Hide thyself. Geography may have little to do with it. What is here spiritually s "hide thyself." Cherith means separation or cutting off, and that is linked with Jordan. Cherith is a tributary of the Jordan. We know what Jordan stands for, the death of the self-life. In the major sense, the Lord's servants have been to Jordan; that is, the self-life has been set aside; but they have to keep near Jordan, and Jordan has to govern them at every step. The most paralysing thing to a ministry of Divine authority is "thyself." It is, in other words, the strength of our own souls. Elijah was a strong-minded man, a strong-willed man, a man capable of very strong and drastic actions, of pouring out a great deal of his own soul-life with great heat, and the self-life of a servant of God is a great peril to the spirit. Paul makes it perfectly clear that, at an advanced point in his ministry and in his spiritual life, when God had entrusted him with visions and revelations unspeakable, which it was not lawful for a man to utter, the main and most immediate peril and menace to the ministry of that revelation was himself. "Lest I should be exalted above measure..." Then the self-life had not been eradicated from Paul! Paul was not clear of the peril of doing great damage to purely spiritual ministry, and God had to take a special precaution against the self-life of his own servant, not the sinful life in its old sense, but the self-life. "Lest I should be exalted ..." I ... exalted! What is that? That is the exaltation of the ego, the self. What dangers are in that "I", and how truly it stands in peril of getting into an exalted place, a place of power, a place of influence, a place of authority. It is in this sense that the Lord has to say, "Hide thyself": "get to the place of cutting off, of separation."

This was so different from what you might expect. You see, here is a man, having had this deep, secret preparation with God in much prayer who finds himself brought out in Divine authority to make a great announcement which represents a crisis in the purpose of God. You would expect that, from that point, he would go straight on from strength, to strength, from place to place, would at once become a recognized authority, a recognized servant of God, and be very much before the public eye. But God would guard against any servant of His taking up a Divine purpose and a Divine commission in himself, taking it up in his own energy. That will destroy it, and there must be a hiding, a very real hiding. If a geographical hiding is God's way of getting a spiritual hiding, well, be it so. If God chooses to send us out of the realm of public life and ministry into some remote and hidden place, in order to take us away from the imminent peril of our becoming something of, our going on in the strength of our own self-life, that is all well and good; but whether it be geographical or not, the word of the Lord to all His servants would always be, "Hide thyself!"

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 5 - "Adjustableness")

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