The Ground of His Presence and Power (continued)
Gideon, the whole story of Gideon is a declaration that the vessel must NEVER have any glory of its own. The vessel that God will mightily use must have no personal glory. The glory has got to be the Lord's and the Lord's alone. The whole story, I say, declares that, does it not? Take the man himself, take the means that the Lord used for the work. It was a case, as we shall see later, of just reducing, reducing, reducing, bringing down lower and lower and lower, never allowing anything whatever which would come into this business which would contribute to the glory of the instrument. When that thing was done everybody had to say, "Well, that is perfectly marvelous to think that could be done with such instruments in such a way." The Lord was taking precautions, was He not? "Lest Israel vaunt themselves," "Lest Israel ..." No glory to the vessel. No, it is the glory of the Name, and that glory of the Name is exclusive of all other glories.
Dear friends, what am I talking about? I am talking about the "ground" of the presence and the power of God. "The Lord is with thee ... Go in this thy might". The presence and the power: what is the "ground"? It is this: The utter emptying of all personal glory and ground of glorying. Shall we put it the other way: the providing the Lord with an utter ground for His own glory. The Lord takes infinite pains to secure that ground. Oh, what a story of weakness and defeat and limitation and all those things of which we have spoke. Simply because men will get their names in, their reputation in, draw some attention to themselves, put their honors in view, call themselves by titles in the work of the Lord, advertise themselves or be advertised as the great instrument that is going to do this. And the appalling state of things after 2,000 years. This sort of thing is self evident, it is self evident. No, the ground of the presence and the power is this: If it was true in the case of the Lord Jesus, and undoubtedly it was, it was because He ... in the other translation, "made Himself of no reputation," and men are always trying to make reputations for themselves in the sphere of God's interests, and God is not in. Have nothing to do with it. Get on with it and do what you can and what you like, but you cannot count upon the presence and power of God.
The Form and the Function: in man likeness, in slave, bondslave function. I am not going to start with the technical points of the different words here in the original fashion and form. That will not be very edifying or helpful to you, it does not matter just at the moment. But what it amounts to is this: the Form, in the form of a man, form in which Christ appeared here on this great mission, the form of a man. The Function: which He accepted, adopted and fulfilled, was the function of a bondslave, that's what it says as a man, in man-likeness. All I am going to say about that here for in keeping with this whole matter of the Presence and Power of God is this: that He did not appear here as some Superior being of another order. So far as the world looking on could tell, there was no difference between Him and other men. Whatever difference there was, was altogether hidden from the world's eyes. They could look at Him, judge Him, speak to Him and of Him, handle Him, deal with Him, just as they would deal with any other man. No, not as some superior being of another order. And you see, there is a principle there dear friends, of tremendous significance and importance where the Lord is concerned.
(continued with # 21)