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Sunday, January 4, 2015

God's Reactions to Man's Defections # 26

A Candlestick All of Gold

We are now going to look at the fourth chapter of Zechariah, which features in a remarkable way conditions and Divine aims in the 'end times.' There are striking similarities in it, as we shall see, to certain things mentioned in the first chapters of the Revelation. Its great value lies in its concentrated presentation of essentials. When you have these, you have everything vital.

What first comes into view is -

An Angel Talking

"The angel that talked with me" (verse 1, 4). The parallel to this in the Revelation is the phrase, seven times repeated (note: seven=spiritual perfection, completeness): "what the Spirit saith to the churches."

The Lord has something to say at the end. The Book of the Revelation is full of voices. It begins with: "I turned to see the voice" (1:12). A strange way of putting things! Did anyone ever see a voice? There is, however, no mistake made. A vital reality is in this seeming error, as we shall see. We have known much to be made of this "voice" factor in the Bible. True as it is that God can make Himself vocal and audible, taking up men and articulating His thoughts through them, as He has ever done, we would point out that in this case it is not the voice of man; indeed, it is not primarily the voice at all. It is that God has something to say, and a very important something.

The most pertinent question that can possibly be asked at this time is - 

What Is God Saying Today?

A striking feature of our time is that so few of the voices have a distinctive message. There is a painful lack of a clear word of authority for the times. While there are many good preachers of the Gospel, and while we are not without champions of the vital verities of the Faith, we are sadly in need of the Prophet with his "Thus saith the Lord", which he has received in a commission born of a peculiarly chastened fellowship with God.

Why is it so? May it not be that so many who might have this ministry have become so much a part of a system: a system which puts preachers so largely upon a professional basis, the effect of which is to make preaching a matter of demand and supply; of providing for the established religious order and program? And not only in the matter of preaching, but in the whole organization and activity of Christianity as we have it in the systematized form today. There is not the freedom and detachment for speaking only when "the burden of the word of the Lord" is upon the prophet, or when he could say: "The hand of the Lord was upon me". The present order requires a man to speak every so often: hence he must get something, and this necessity means either that God must be offered our program and asked to meet it (which He will NOT do), or that the preacher must make something for the constantly recurring occasion.

This is a pernicious system, and it opens the door to many dangerous and baneful intrusions of what is of man and NOT of God. The most serious aspect of this way of things is that it results in voices, voices, voices - a confusion of voices - but not the specific voice with the specific utterance of God for the time. Too often it has the effect of causing men to hear and read just with a view of getting preaching matter, subjects for sermons; the value of things is judged by their suggestiveness of themes. The man may be a godly man and the message may be the truth, but there is something more than this - is it the message which relates to the immediate time-appointed purpose of God? There are many good men who are giving out what they know and believe of the truth, but at the same time there are many of the Lord's children who are hungry and not being fed.

The food question among the Lord's people today is a very acute one, and a more or less good ministry is not going to meet the need. There is a growing concern to know, as distinct from the generalizations of truth and service, what is the Lord's word for now, where we are, and what in the Divine purpose belongs to this present hour.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 27 - (An Awakening to What God Has to Say)

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