KINGDOM BIBLE STUDIES
THE KINGDOM OF GOD
QUALIFYING FOR KINGDOM DOMINION
To Jesus, the firstborn Son of God, the Kingdom of God was the most precious thing in the universe and possessing the reality of it was of all things most valuable. Repeatedly He made it clear that the Kingdom had a worth which was above all earthly things and standards. He admonished, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God..." He said, "If your eye causes you to miss the mark, pluck it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be swallowed up of death." He spoke many parables about the value of the Kingdom. He said that once there was a man who was digging in a field; as he dug his spade struck across a buried treasure. It was the law of Israel that such finds might be kept by the finder; and so the man went away and sold every single thing that he possessed in order that he might buy the field and so possess the treasure. He said that once there was a merchant man who had spent his whole life searching for lovely pearls. At last he found a pearl which was the most perfect and beautiful pearl he had ever seen; so, when he found it, he went and sold out his whole stock and everything he had in order to buy the one precious pearl. It is that way, said Jesus, that a man must be about the Kingdom! To inherit the power and the glory of the Kingdom is worth everything that a man possesses and all that a man is; and if anything hinders a man from inheriting it, even if that thing is the dearest thing on earth, it must be rooted out and thrown away.
Only the spiritually ambitious man will lay hold upon the Kingdom of God. Note -- I do not say merely "ambitious," but spiritually ambitious. To be spiritually ambitious is to earnestly desire God's best -- in His way and time, according to His purpose, and always and only for His glory. It means to seek first the Kingdom of God in all things. It means to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, mind, soul and strength. It means to come only to do the will of the Father, and to do only what we see the Father doing. To be spiritually ambitious is the very spirit of sonship! There is a place for ambitious men in the Kingdom of God. Jesus said, "Whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all." He did not turn the man away from the ambition to be great. He simply told him how greatness can be achieved -- become the servant of all! And then there are degrees of this greatness. If you want to be great, be "the servant of all." If you want to be first, be "the bond-slave of all." The servant and the bond-slave represent degrees of self-giving, and they, in turn, represent degrees of greatness attained, namely "great" and "first." Beyond that is a level to which Jesus Himself had attained. "The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many." In other words, since He went deeper than being servant of all, or a bond-slave of all, in that He gave His very life, so He becomes the Son of man, which is more than being great, or first, among a group -- it is the acme of being! So the door is open for ambition. You may be least, or less, or great, or greater, or greatest, or first, or one like unto the Son of man!
Yet, it does not mean that we give in order to get -- that is not the Kingdom of God at all! We do not put on humility and serve others with the motive of becoming great, attaining to exalted positions of power and honor. If we are serving to gain advantage, to receive a position of authority over others, for the sake of authority, then our motive is all wrong -- yet carnal, earthly, sensual and devilish. That is not how the Kingdom works! We do not serve to be made great -- we serve because we are great with God's greatness. This is not a position of exercising power over others but of serving them. Serving is the power and the greatness. The motivation of our desires must be the same as that of the Captain of our salvation. Filled with the great love of God, the desire to attain to this position is to give ourselves in sacrifice and service for the deliverance and restoration of the rest of God's creatures. Having attained to this deliverance from the bondage of corruption as the firstfruits of the creation, our only desire will be to labor together with the Lord in the deliverance of the rest of His creation, to lift them up to the same level of life as He has lifted us. The heart of God, the heart of unconditional and unlimited love and all goodness, is the greatest heart in the universe. It is not serving that makes us great, it is true divine greatness that causes us to serve! Oh, the mystery of it!
Let us see how beautifully Jesus taught this by His own example. Everything is prepared and set in order for the last supper, to the very water to wash the feet of the guests, as their custom was. Christ and His disciples gather in the upper room to eat and fellowship together on this solemn night. Each one waits for the other, for there is no servant available to perform the customary service of washing the guest's feet. Washing feet was one of the basest tasks in the culture of Jesus' day. It was a job usually done by a house slave. Just as we offer a visitor hospitality, so in Jesus' time they customarily washed a visitor's feet. Washing feet was an undesirable responsibility: the roads were dusty well enough. But the filth of the road was more than dust. The transportation of that day was the camel, the donkey, the horse and the mule. It takes little imagination to understand that the streets and roads were littered with their manure. The traveler's feet would be covered with this as well as being caked with dust. The washing of feet was assigned to the lowliest slave because it meant handling the filth of the streets. This job was thought to be below the dignity of the "good man of the house."
Not one of the twelve thinks of humbling himself to do the job, for, are they not the honored ones, the disciples of the very Son of God, the flaming evangelists of the Kingdom, the future rulers of the world! Even at the table they were full of the thought -- who should be greatest in the Kingdom that was then beginning to dawn. Suddenly, unexpectedly Jesus stood up from the table, and began to take off His inner layer of garments until He was stripped to the waist, wearing only His loincloth. He then took a large towel and wrapped it around Himself, poured water into a large brass basin, and, beginning with one of the men at the end of the table, laid heavy emphasis upon His words of a few moments before, "I am in the midst of you as one that serves." Oh, the wonder of it! on which angels gazed with adoring wonder. Christ, the Creator and King of the universe, at whose word all worlds and galaxies flooded the infinity of space, who might with one word have compelled any man or legions of angels to do His bidding, Himself chose the slave's place as His own, taking the soiled, filthy feet in His own holy hands, and washes them. It was to this task that the Lord of Glory stooped!
But listen more carefully to the divine why and how of this wondrous spectacle. Jesus does it in the full consciousness of His divine glory, for the apostle John records, "Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He was come from God and went to God, rose..." What a startling combination of sublime cause with curious consequence! How could Jesus have done this? How could the Master and the King of the universe wash dung from His disciple's feet? He could do it because HE WAS SECURE IN WHO HE WAS. He knew that the Father had given all things into His hands. He knew that He had come from the Father and that He was the Son of God and the promised Messiah. He knew that He was going back to the Father after He defeated sin, sickness, death, the grave and hell. He didn't have to prove anything to Himself or to anyone else. His life had already proven who He was to those who had eyes to see. And He didn't stoop so low to become a tyrant, to rule over this world by force. He came to heal and bless and deliver, to reign by serving! Ah, yes, precious friend of mine, once we thoroughly know who we are there is no need to proclaim it, no need to sound a trumpet, no need to wear a badge, to remind people of who we are. Once we know that we are the sons of God WE ARE FREED TO SERVE!
You see, it wasn't in spite of the fact of His greatness that Jesus took the place of the servant -- it was because of His greatness! The greatness of Jesus is the greatness of the Father's heart. The greatness of Jesus is the greatness of divine love and humility. The greatness of Jesus is the greatness of sonship! For the hands into which the Father gives all things nothing is common or unclean. Because one is the offspring of the God of all grace, compassion, love, mercy and goodness, in whose hands all things are given, it is not difficult for him to stoop so low. In this taking the form of a servant, Jesus proclaims the divine order of the Kingdom of God and the house of sons. The higher one stands in attainment in the Kingdom, the more it must be his joy to be servant of all. "Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant" (Mat. 20:27). "He that is greatest among you shall be your servant" (Mat. 23:11). The higher I rise in the consciousness of being like Christ, the deeper shall I stoop to serve the creation around me. The reason why we so often do not bless others is that we wish to appear to them as their superiors in blessing, calling or rank, or at least their equals. But that is not the spirit of sonship! The truth is that only as a son can we truly be a servant. It was the Son of God who assumed the form of a servant and humbled Himself. Ah, beloved elect of the Lord, walk among men as a son of the Most High God. A son of God is only in the world to show forth his Father's glory, to demonstrate how Godlike and how blessed it is to live only and always to find a way to love, bless, redeem and restore God's lost creation. Someone has said, "God has three sorts of servants in the world: some are slaves, and serve Him from fear; others are hirelings, and serve for wages; and the last are sons, who serve because they love."
In a book I read there is a story which beautifully illustrates why the mighty God would stoop so low as to appear as a servant in His sons in order to restore creation. A little child is handed over to the keeping of another by her own father -- not that he wants to part with her, but they are poor, and so he gives her into the rich man's keeping, making her the rich man's daughter so far as a resolution can do it, in order to find bread for both. He then hires himself as a servant to the rich man and stays about where she is. He keeps watch and care over that little life until it is matured; and the girl, as she grows up, begins to feel that she can always rely upon the unselfish love of him who seems but a serving man. But her father, as she supposes him to be, is cold, distant, and even cruel. The day came when he repudiated her with anger, selfish and base, because she had brought what seemed disgrace on his name. Then forward stepped the serving-man, and flung his arms around her, shouting, with the fierceness of righteous indignation to the man who had evilly entreated her, "She never was your child!" Then the girl knew why it was that she had felt such rest, peace and joy in the presence of the serving-man. She had listened to his language of love many a time, not knowing the speaker was her real father.
Old father flesh, old father world, old father the devil repays all men with cruelty, injustice, baseness, lack, sorrow and death. But there is a better Father -- the One that sent you here, the One who has watched over you, blessed you, cared for you, counseled you, entreated you, woo'd you and overshadowed you with His love. Even when you knew it not, He was already your Father! And in Jesus He came as a servant to minister to your need, to lift and redeem and restore you unto Himself and His Kingdom. And now, bless His name, He comes in many sons to reveal His heart of love to the whole vast creation and restore all things. We, as sons of God, are among men as Him that serveth!
This is the great miracle of sonship! It unites greatness and humility in a divine combination. This is the new creation in Christ Jesus! This is the balance that is rarely attained in this world of natural men. The great secret lies in the indwelling spirit of Jesus. Being made partakers of His nature and mind we are able to stand before Pilate, and when he says, "Are you a king?" we answer, "Thou sayest it." At the same time it is possible to kneel before our brethren with a towel and a basin of water, washing their feet -- cleansing their walk -- in the spirit of service and humility. Only in sonship do power and humility find their true relationships and their true balance. Have you ever seen the President of the United States cutting the grass at the White House? How about Queen Elizabeth scrubbing the floors of her palace? Or the Prime Minister of Canada washing dishes? We don't expect people of high position to do lowly and seemingly unimportant tasks. Yet Jesus has revealed the law of a Higher Kingdom, a Kingdom where power and humility are joined together in a divine outpouring of love, grace and goodness!
Lyn Gitchel, a dear friend of ours in Pennsylvania, shared a precious point about the meaning of what we call ministry. She wrote, "The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and give His life a ransom for many. The whole idea that we have of "ministry" has got warped up in these days, and I believe we shall have to have a new picture of what ministry really is put into our minds by God. The word ministry comes from two Latin words, minis, (from which we get minus), which means lesser, and tri, which is the Latin word for servant. Now, when you think about it, a LESSER SERVANT is a whole lot different from what we think of when the word ministry is put in our minds. We think of famous evangelists, and large meetings, crowds with a tremendous flow of miracles and of worship, and people that can really hold your attention by their great preaching -- and then we find that the word means LESSER SERVANT!
"The impact of this hit me recently and I'll share the experience with you. For most of my life I have served in a professional capacity. Before I was an ordained minister I was a registered nurse. I have never really worked as a servant of any kind, until recently. A friend of mine was doing a little job here in town which involves helping an elderly lady who has had a stroke. You need to help her in whatever capacity she needs, from housework to bathing her. My friend had to leave town and, to help her out, I took the job. Nearly a year later I am still doing it! One day I was kneeling on the bathroom floor drying her feet when suddenly I said to myself, 'Whatever am I doing here? -- I'm supposed to be an Ordained Minister!' Immediately the Spirit of God answered within my heart, 'You wanted to minister, didn't you?'
"The time has come when we must understand that ministry is not preaching but servanthood. We are going to have to learn all over again what it means to serve people with the same heart of love that Jesus had when He walked among men. It was not beneath Him to lift a woman caught in adultery to her feet and speak a word of reassurance to her, nor was it beneath Him to eat at the house of an ungodly tax-gatherer and his friends. Jesus did not hire a huge auditorium and put out publicity announcing great meetings. He simply moved among men and women where they were and touched them with love, and healing, and compassion" -- end quote.
There is the story of a man who desired from the Lord a true understanding of heaven and hell. One night in a dream he was told that he would soon receive this understanding. He was taken into a room where a few dozen people were sitting around a huge kettle of stew. Each one had only a long handled spoon to eat with, and their arms were straightened so they could not bend them and bring the food into their mouths. This, he was told, was hell. Then he was taken into another room which would be a picture to him of heaven. To his surprise, the room was identical. The large pot was there, as well as people with stiff arms and long spoons. There was one major difference, however. In this room, each one would dip into the stew with his or her long-handled spoon and feed his fellow on the other side of the kettle! In this day we are being translated from hell to heaven within ourselves as we learn the way of the Kingdom of Heaven which is the Kingdom of Love -- by SERVING!
Every new year the Queen of England publishes her Honors List, conferring titles and decorations upon the men and women who have rendered distinguished service to mankind or to the country or to the political party in power. I have in my mind a little Honors List of my own. There is not much point in publishing it, because you will never have heard of these people. They include a dear sister who was poor in this world's goods, who lived in a little house that approached being a shack, yet was committed to God's purposes in this Day and vibrant with the love of God. She was always sharing the word with the neighborhood children who graced her porch, continually cooking and sharing with others, fixing up and maintaining a building for the gatherings of the saints, entertaining the ministries the Lord sent their way, and encouraging everyone. She never murmured or complained about anything that came her way.
Honor goes also to a brother who prayed earnestly and is credited with "praying down" a mighty move of the Spirit of God many years ago, by which others with whom he was associated were propelled into world-wide fame, while he unpretentiously cherished the deep truths and hope of sonship and the reconciliation of all things, continuing in prayer, setting an example of righteousness and humility before his family and community, regularly visiting the widows, orphans, and shut-ins. I honor another brother whose name I do not even know who, during our Conferences in Florida years ago, would sweep and clean the meeting place until the wee hours of the morning (without being asked -- it wasn't his responsibility!), while most of the brethren and the preachers were enjoying rich fellowship over food at the local restaurants. The one thing that these quiet heroes have in common is that they lived the spirit of servanthood without pretense or any motive other than a pure love and the deep desire to bless creation and advance the Kingdom of God into men's lives. Truly such shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven!
That there are different levels in the Kingdom of God, from the least in the Kingdom to the greatest in the Kingdom, Jesus clearly taught. He told His disciples, "Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there has not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he" (Mat. 11:11). And again we read of Jesus' disciples that "they disputed among themselves who should be the greatest. And Jesus sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all" (Mk. 9:34-35). Christ Himself was the greatest among them. He said, "I am in the midst of you as he that serveth." He was the humblest, and, therefore, the greatest, but had He no authority? He had authority in heaven and on earth! Because He takes the place of deepest humility, does that strip Him of His kingly authority? No! It intensifies and magnifies it. "And whosoever would be first among you shall be your servant." "Bondservant" is the meaning of the word in the Greek. The man who is to be the greatest among God's kings and priests must be the slave of all. The man who will be the greatest, the primus, or first, will be the man who is, as it were, the very bondservant; willing to serve his brethren as if he were their slave with a deep and true humility. Jesus Christ died the death of a slave. Amongst the Romans, crucifixion was the death reserved for a bondservant. No Roman citizen could be crucified, but the slaves were punished in that manner. Christ was the greatest, yet He took the place of the lowest. He who stooped from the highest heaven, not only to earth, but to the deepest hell, who went into the deepest depths to seek for sinful men, is greatest. That is why He exercises authority today in the heavens and on the earth. He now takes the highest place as the Head of the body, the High Priest of our profession, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, and the Head of all principality and power. He is the greatest!
He that would rise to be the highest,
Must first come down to be the lowest,
And then ascend to be the highest
By keeping down to be the lowest.
It is only when you keep down to be the lowest that you can be a power.
The following words by brother Paul Mueller clearly express another aspect of this same beautiful truth. "What does it mean to rule and reign with Christ? The Greek word poimaino is translated rule in some New Testament passages, and means 'to tend as a shepherd.' This agrees with the prophecy of Isaiah, 'See! the Lord is coming with might, His own arm having won Him the kingdom; See! His reward is with Him, and His recompense before Him. Like a shepherd He tends His flock, with His arm He gathers them; the lambs He carries in His bosom, and gently leads those who give suck' (Isa. 40:10-11, Smith-Goodspeed). 'Like a shepherd He tends His flock,' this is the manner of the Lord's dealings with mankind. He cares for each one, observing them and supplying their individual needs. He gathers them with His arm so that not one is lost (Mat. 18:12). Some He carries and still others He leads, but all will be gathered into His kingdom, for He is a faithful Shepherd.
"The story is told of a person who saw himself walking in the sand as he was going through a very difficult trial. Suddenly another set of tracks were seen in the sand next to his. He knew instinctively that the other set of tracks were made by the Lord, who was faithfully walking by his side. Then, just as suddenly, he saw that there was only one set of tracks in the sand, and fearfully he thought the Lord had left him. But then he was made to realize that there was only one set of tracks in the sand because the Lord had picked him up and was carrying him through that most difficult time. Indeed, the Lord had not left him after all, but was carrying him in His bosom. And these are the ways of the Lord that must be imparted to all who will rule and reign with Him. The love of the Lord for all mankind is as the love of a faithful, loving shepherd. The kingdom of God shall be established in the earth by the omnipotent and sovereign power of the Lord. He shall rule and reign in union with all His sons in the spirit of a loving shepherd who gently leads his subjects, yet His power is mighty.
"The same Greek word is used for rule both in Matthew 2:6 and Revelation 12:5. It is the Greek word poimaino which means to tend as a shepherd. What does it mean to rule and to reign in the kingdom? All who are chosen for this high calling will shepherd the people into the kingdom of God. Each one of them will be like a hiding-place from the wind, and a shelter from the storm. They will cover and protect their subjects, sheltering them until they are firmly rooted into the life of the kingdom. They are like streams of water in a dry place, and like the shade of a great rock in a wearisome land. Their new Life, which is the very Life of Christ, flows from them like streams of water in the desert. They are that mighty Rock which has smitten the image of the nations, causing them all to fall (Dan. 2:34), but which now gives forth shelter and protection. They are entrusted with the ring of kingdom authority, the best robe of kingdom righteousness and life, and the royal scepter of the kingdom of God. Indeed, when one rules over men as a righteous one, when one rules in the fear of God, then it is as the light of the morning when the sun rises, a morning cloudless and clear, after rain upon the tender grass" -- end quote.
God has called a people aside in this hour and brought them to a place of brokenness, humility, and nothingness in the eyes of the world and the church systems of man. We have obeyed the word the apostle Peter admonished, "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time" (I Pet. 5:6). God is about to exalt His sons, but it shall be the exaltation of humility.
The following prophecy from the late Norene Nicholls has come into my hands at this time, and it surely speaks for this Day. "A strange and wondrous thing is about to come, for the Lord has spoken to those that will hear, and their ears have been sharpened. There is a gathering of the royal family, and the shepherds of Israel shall become rulers on the thrones. They have stood in desolate places and listened to the low sound of the sheep -- even a little flock in a wilderness place, but now it shall change. The shepherds who have proven their worth in aloneness shall now come forth to be acknowledged of those who would not have Me to reign over them in times past. Behold the thing is at the door. Some have chosen high places for themselves, but others have allowed the Lord to choose for them, and thus have they been separated from their brethren and lost to sight. But now shall events bring forth the deserted ones and show them before kings who are really not kings at all. The scepter of these kings shall be righteousness and the girdle of faithfulness shall be upon their loins. They shall be recognized, not because they are of great stature nor commanding of personality, but they shall be recognized because the Spirit of the Lord is upon them.
"Men shall no longer gather to men, but the men of God shall gather to the establishment of truth where the angels activate the holy ground. There shall strange but wondrous things take place, for instructions from the presence of the Lord shall be heard, and kings shall lift their voices in confidence and courage at the declaration. And, there too, shall be that peculiar anointing reserved for kings come into being; and that anointing shall teach you all things. Then from that pillar of truth shall the kings issue forth to do exploits and turn the aliens back from the shores of the land promised. Be not afraid nor amazed, for the Lord has spoken in verity and truth and shall bring it to pass. No longer shall you stand idly by and wait for another day, but there shall be activity of a new source -- yet activity that is effortless and quiet. You shall slip quietly into palaces and judgment halls and speak a word in season. You shall stand before prelates and counselors, but not one of your words shall fail. You shall see the manifestation of what you have spoken, and men shall shut their mouths nor argue the point. This is a strange work to be done, but it shall come by the decree of God and stand unmovable before heaven and earth. The closing of the day is also the opening of the Day, and to this time have you been called. See to it that you be not discouraged, for you shall stand in the land and turn the enemy from the shores. So it is and shall be" -- end quote.
SONS AND SERVANTS
It is when we come to this thought of servants that there is a great deal of misunderstanding among the Lord's people. When we speak of servants, some boast that this calling does not apply to them, for they are no longer servants, but sons. That is true in the spirit in which Paul argues in Galatians 4:6-7 wherein he says, "And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore, thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ."
It is far from the truth, however, to say that there is no sense in which those who are sons are also servants. Paul is speaking in the passage above of our relationship to God, the Father. Under the Old Covenant the people of God had not received new birth by the Spirit, to live in the Spirit and walk after the Spirit, but were placed under the rule of law. They were not a house of sons, but a house of servants. Their relationship to God was the relationship of servants. They were not sons. God had not sent the spirit of sonship into their hearts. By the New Covenant God has redeemed us from the curse of the law that we might receive placement as sons and has birthed into our hearts the Spirit of His Son, the spirit of sonship, whereby we cry, "Father!" This has brought a change in our relationship to God. Unto Him we are no longer servants, but sons. As sons, however, we become related not only to God, but we also become related to men. Jesus is the Son of God, but He is also the Saviour of men, the Redeemer of men, the Reconciler of men, the Blesser of men, the Deliverer of men, the Sovereign Lord over all flesh. It is here that we must be very clear in our understanding. Unto God I may be a son; but unto men I must be a servant. I am God's servant, sent of the Father to serve mankind. I cannot be a servant to God, for I am His son; and I cannot be a son to men, therefore I much approach unto men in a relationship through which I can minister unto them the life of the Son who dwells in me. The only way I may minister Christ unto men is as a servant. To minister means "to serve," and both minister and servant are a number of times translated from the same Greek word.
Can a son be a servant? Jesus, the pattern Son declared, "Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto (served), but to minister (serve) and give His life a ransom for many" (Mat. 20:28). It is the SON who SERVES! The Son is a Servant-Son. The very same Jesus of whom the Father witnessed, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased," of Him the Father also witnessed, "Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my Spirit upon Him: He shall bring forth judgment to the nations" (Isa. 42:1). Matthew 12:15-21 shows unmistakably that this servant of the Lord is Jesus. The Son came as a Servant-Son.
John understood this significant truth, for the same John who wrote, "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God," later stated, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to show unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant John" (Rev. 1:1). Paul understood this truth, for the very same Paul who wrote, "Wherefore thou art no more a servant but a son," also said, "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle." "Apostle" means a "sent one," therefore Paul was sent to serve! To God he was a son, but he was the servant of men. Is Jesus a Son or a Servant? Was John a son or a servant? Was Paul a son or a servant? And lest the elect of God in this Day should exalt themselves above John, or Paul, or even Jesus, we further find that of the 144,000 overcomers, that glorious company of the sons of God who stand with the Lamb on mount Zion, having the Father's name in their foreheads, it is written, "Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the SERVANTS OF OUR GOD IN THEIR FOREHEADS" (Rev. 7:3). So there you have it! The sons are the servants! Not servants to God, but sons who are servants to men, humble ministers of the mercies and goodness of the Lord.
What blessedness, what value has sonship without the outpouring into the depths in which men dwell? The whole purpose of sonship is that God may be revealed, expressed, and communicated to men even unto the lowest hell. Sonship is not some country-club set of super-spiritual-elite-gods who spend their time polishing up their halos while basking in the meretricious brilliancy of their own self-importance. If, upon our road to manifested sonship, we first learn to identify with the creation which we are ordained to deliver, to associate with the lowest and basest of men in the blessed spirit of a servant, what a blessing we shall become to the world! THAT IS WHAT JESUS DID. If Jesus were here today He would be condemned for eating with politicians, lawyers, mobsters, drug lords, call girls, crooks, drunks, and a whole host of unsavory characters, just as He was two thousand years ago. We think of the mighty anointing of the seven spirits of God that rested upon the firstborn Son, and shall rest upon all the manifested sons of God. But is it not written of these seven spirits that they are "sent forth into all the earth" -- into the earthiness of man's experience. Only as a son can one truly be a servant, for only the son possesses that life which can quicken all things!
There is a striking and beautiful parallel between sons and servants, between kings and priests. It is the son who reigns, and the priest who serves. As sons we are destined to reign as kings, as servants we are called to serve as priests. "For thou wast slain, and has redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God KINGS and PRIESTS: and we shall reign over the earth" (Rev. 5:9-11). God makes us kings that we might rule; He makes us priests that we might serve, bringing reconciliation, blessing and transformation to mankind. As priests we live for others, to pray for them; to work among them; to teach and instruct them; to bless and lift them; to deliver and redeem them; to bring them to God! "And I beheld, and lo, in the midst of the throne . . . stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns (power, kingship) and seven eyes (perception, vision, communication, priesthood), which are the seven spirits of God sent forth into all the earth" (Rev. 5:6). The sevenfold intensified Spirit of the Lord is given to God's King-Priests so as to be a channel for the outpouring of His glorious life to creation. To be a king is marvelous beyond words, but to be a priest is no idle self-seeking blessedness. It is a compelling power to enter into God's presence on behalf of mankind; the power to receive from the Lamb all the blessings and provisions of His wonderful life, and to receive and carry and distribute them!
You will never be a priest without the servant-nature. The story is told of a farmer who had just sat down to the table and prayed, "Oh Lord, bless the poor people in this neighborhood, and feed them." Very soon after, there was a knock at the door and a poor neighbor came in and asked the farmer for a bushel of potatoes. The farmer began to make all kinds of excuses. He had fifty bushels of potatoes, and his little boy said, "Papa, there is a chance to answer your own prayers." That is the servant-nature, and the spirit of priesthood. So many in this hour want to be sons and kings and priests while living in their own little world, studying the deep revelations, singing beautiful kingdom songs, but never having any practical outworking of the servant-nature in the nitty-gritty of everyday living where the needs of creation are met. May the Spirit of God make very real to all our hearts the great truth that he who will not serve cannot be a son. "For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life..." The sons come for the same purpose!
What a blessing there is in giving! Even on the natural plane it is a part of the makeup of everyone that they feel good when giving or helping others. But in many people, and even in some who aspire to be kings and priests of God, this attribute is never developed into becoming a part of their life-style, so the opposite takes place. However many wonderful people spend their lives in giving service to others. When analyzed, the servant-nature is the most prized possession of the human race. What a joy is the restaurant waitress who gives true service. To be a real nurse requires this above all else. The secretary in an office can be an inspiration to everyone through her ability to be of help and support in every situation instead of merely doing what is required of her. Then there is the teacher who is vitally concerned for every member of her class. In such as these is the servant-nature revealed even on the earthly level. Serving those about you will never of itself make you a priest of God, but YOU CAN NEVER BE A PRIEST WITHOUT THE SERVANT-NATURE! HE makes us kings and priests! Because we have priestly hearts we shall stretch forth our hands to heal the nations and speak forth the word that brings them life!
Many years ago amidst a great moving of the Spirit of God the revelation of sonship fell with wonder upon our ears and burst with glory within our hearts. We sat enraptured for hours, day after day, and were taught by the Spirit about the Father and His purposes and about that elect company He has called, apprehended and chosen to be His sons to rule with Him in His Kingdom and restore all things. We learned that these sons would have power unlimited -- power over everything. Power over sin, power over sickness, power over the elements, power over demons, power over all the power of the enemy, and power over death. We were going to rule and reign in power, and our eyes sparkled like diamonds in the light and our hearts swelled with joy in expectation of the wonderful position and authority we would soon have in the Kingdom. We could think and talk of nothing else but the power we would have, and in our glorying we tried to usurp and demonstrate this power. We were intoxicated with illusions of grandeur as we pressed our way into the Kingdom and the exalted position of sitting on the throne with Jesus and ruling the world and the vastnesses of infinity forever.
Little did we understand in those early days that the way up is down. The carnal mind would have us believe that the way up is up. Thus we have pressed our way into ministry, pressed our way into the Kingdom, "stood on the promises," demanded of God our "rights," presuming even to command God to do this and that, and sought to seize the throne. It is true, elect of the Lord, that God wants to take us UP -- high into the realms of God -- UP to the throne -- but God would have us know that the way UP is always DOWN! Do you remember what Jesus said to His disciples when they aspired to greatness in the Kingdom? "Now an eager contention arose among them, which of them was considered and reputed to be the greatest. But Jesus said to them, The kings of the Gentiles are deified by them and exercise lordship, ruling as emperor-gods over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors and well-doers. But this is not to be so with you; and on the contrary let him who is the greatest among you become as the youngest, and he who is the chief and leader as one who serves. For which is the greater, he who reclines at table (the master), or he who serves? Is it not he who reclines at table? BUT I AM IN YOUR MIDST AS ONE WHO SERVES" (Lk. 22:24-27, Amplified). The one who serves the people well as a priest is the one who will also reign well as a king. "They shall be priests . . . and they shall reign." That is the order! Though He is calling us to be kings with authority over all, yet our inner spirit must be that of a servant, that we might freely minister, loving, touching, doing good, speaking kindness and encouragement, healing, reconciling, restoring, with mercy, compassion and love. The problem with many people is that they have never learned to live for anything other than themselves and their own -- me, my wife Mary, my daughter Sue, my son John, these four, no more.
God by many and varied experiences brings preparation into our lives to teach us the attitude of a servant. Pride shows that that person has failed to grasp that rulership is rooted in God, who is Love, and not in ourselves. Jesus was the most lowly and humble of all men, and also the most powerful and authoritative. He was not a super-duper-elite-country-club Son of God. He didn't bounce onto the platform under the lights with a flare of worldly showmanship and then disappear out the back door to escape contact with the people. "Although He existed in the form of God, He did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" (Phil. 2:6-8).
THE MELCHIZEDEK PRIESTHOOD
At the last supper, in addition to taking the form of a servant and washing His disciple's feet, Jesus offered His disciples bread and wine. These are the two symbols of the Melchizedek Priesthood. "And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God" (Gen. 14:18). Deep down in the heart of men there is a strong and instinctive demand for a priest, to be a mediator, to lay one hand on man, and the other on God, and going between both to bring the two together into unification. A priest or priesthood infers that there is a reason why such has been called into play. It denotes that there is an estrangement between God and His creatures and the priest ministers to bridge that gulf and bring about peace or at-one-ment. Many today proclaim that there is no estrangement, no separation between God and man, that it is only a false sense of duality in man's mind, that he has only to see that he himself is God, and as soon as his true identity is recognized, he can proceed to manifest out of his divine self. If that is the truth then man did not truly fall, there was no sin in Eden, and no penalty for that sin; God did not drive man out of paradise, there was no need for Jesus to come to ransom us with His precious blood, and there certainly would be no need for the Melchisedek Priesthood! Nor would there be any purpose in any scriptural teaching of forgiveness by God, atonement with His blood, redemption through His blood, justification by the blood, sanctification by the blood, regeneration, new birth, or the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Jesus should have just come and told us who we really are and explained to us that none of these things can add anything to our inherent divinity, and gone back to heaven.
Webster's dictionary defines priest as: a mediatory agent between God and man. In the Old Testament the word priest is translated from the Hebrew word cohen, the root meaning of which is "one who stands up and draws nigh for another." The Greek word, in its root, means "to minister." Thus, a priest is one who "draws near and ministers on behalf of another." And the priest always draws nigh and ministers in two directions -- drawing nigh to God on behalf of the people and drawing nigh to the people on behalf of God. The priest stands and ministers unto the Lord on behalf of the people while, on the other hand, he ministers unto the people on behalf of the Lord. The ministry of the priest is an intermediary or go-between ministry. He reaches out with one hand and takes hold of God; he reaches out with the other hand and takes hold of humanity; and he brings the two together by virtue of his priestly ministration.
The inspired writer to the Hebrews says of our Lord Jesus the Christ, "We have such an high priest who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man" (Heb. 8:1-2). What does he mean when he says that Christ is "the minister of the sanctuary"? In every temple there was a god, an unseen god, to whom the temple was devoted. But there was a priest, the priest of that temple, who was to receive the petitions and sacrifices of the worshipper and to get the answer back from the god. So it was with Aaron in the Old Testament. It is said of him and of the priests of Israel, "they shall stand in my presence to minister," and "they shall go out and bless in my name."
The High Priest in Israel was the mediator between God and the nation. He carried into the presence of God the sins and needs of the people, and carried the people in him. He obtained from God the power to declare the remission of sin and the right of blessing the people. God drew nigh unto the people in the person of the Priest. God ministered of Himself unto the people through the blessing of the Priest. "And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of the congregation, and came out, and blessed the people: and the glory of the Lord appeared unto all the people" (Lev. 9:23). From this Old Testament shadow the service of the priesthood under the New Covenant is clear, first to minister to the Lord, then to minister the life of Christ to those who sit in darkness, in the region of the shadow of death, until all are fully reconciled to God. The sons of God are called to be "a kingdom of priests," the government of God ministering unto creation!
There is both a Godward and a manward work in reconciliation, redemption, and restoration. And so our great High Priest, Jesus, stands as the minister of the sanctuary, the temple of God, "which temple ye are." Not only are we God's Royal Priesthood, WE are also the temple of the living God, a temple of living stones, an habitation of God through the Spirit! WE are the realm of His dwelling and the sanctuary in which, and from which, Christ ministers to creation! As we minister unto the Lord, there flows back from His presence a stream of blessing to impart to men upon the earth.
I cannot emphasize too strongly the important truth that ALL PRIESTHOOD has a double outreach -- ministry to both God and man. It could not be otherwise, for a priest is one who "stands between" two factions in mediation, and the moment a priest ceases to touch both God and man, unifying the two, he simply ceases to be a priest. He may be a worshipper who speaks to God, or a king who rules the people for God, or a prophet who delivers a message from God, but no man can have a one-sided ministry and be a priest. The priest must touch God with one hand, and mankind with the other, bringing the two together by his ministration. Anything less or different than this is not priesthood at all.
It is interesting to note that the Melchizedek Priesthood is likewise a priesthood flowing in two directions. "And Melchizedek, the king of Salem, brought forth bread and wine: and he was priest of the most high God. And he blessed him (Abraham), and said, blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth, and blessed be the most high God" (Gen. 14:18-20). How meaningful that Melchizedek blessed Abraham, and then goes on to also bless the most high God. God is raising up a priesthood, the body of the High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, that will not only be able to bless men, but they will bless God, for they BECOME THE BLESSING OF GOD in the earth.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the High Priest of the Melchizedekian Order, to which we, the members of His body, the Royal Priesthood, are called. As we grow up into His fullness we shall experience all that the Order of Melchizedek represents. In Jesus we see the dual aspect of true priesthood for while He has beautifully offered Himself up to God as a sweet smelling savor, an acceptable sacrifice, with the incense of all His divine attributes, He also "is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them" (Heb. 7:25). I have met many would-be sons of God across the land who pride themselves that they have been called aside to minister unto the Lord, but they have no corresponding vision to bless or save men, and wouldn't walk across the street to minister to a needy soul. I do not hesitate to tell you, precious ones, that such have no true revelation of what is embodied in the Melchizedek Priesthood. How I rejoice in the knowledge that Jesus Christ, the High Priest of the Melchizedek Order, does indeed have a ministry manward. He is still saving all who come to God by Him! He is still touched with the feelings of our infirmities! He still maketh intercession for us! He is still writing His law upon our hearts! He still has compassion on the ignorant and them that are out of the way! He is still reconciling by His blood all who call upon Him! Without His Priestly Ministry I, and you, too, precious friend of mine, would still be lost without God and without hope in the world. Thank God, HE REACHED DOWN HIS HAND FOR ME! What if Jesus only ministered unto the Father?!
In light of the Melchizedek High Priesthood of Jesus we are admonished, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of Grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb. 4:16). " . . . that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people" (Heb. 2:17). "And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (I Jn. 2:2). He ever liveth to bring such victory to His creation, none left out, none rejected, none too filthy or depraved or rebellious for Him to touch, for "I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me" (Jn. 12:32), and "all the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before Thee" (Ps. 22:27). And there shall come a priesthood that shall truly labor together with Christ until all enemies are subdued under His feet, until death is no more, until all things are made new, until the knowledge of the glory of the Lord fills the earth as the waters cover the sea, and until HIS LIFE FILLS THE UNIVERSE, praise His name!
We have received the call from our Father to follow Christ into His new Kingdom order for this New Day. He is preparing our hearts to enter into an entirely new kind and dimension of ministry that will transcend the church age ministry as far as the heavens are above the earth. This is the ministry of the Melchizedek Priesthood! The Melchizedek Priests are the genetic reproduction of God, born of His life, revealing His heart, expressing His love, manifesting His glory. The Melchizedek Priests inherit all the wisdom, splendor and power of their Father. They are the fullness of God shed upon the earth in the ministry of the restoration of all things. They are the source of divine blessing for all the families and peoples of the earth. Being born of God, the Melchizedek Priests do not minister according to man's carnal religious ways, ideas, traditions, methods, or means. They are motivated only internally, by the leading of the spirit of God and by the outflowing of agape-love. The Melchizedek Priesthood is the new, spiritual state of being God's sons for the new age of the Kingdom now dawning.
The Melchizedek Priests are born of this new order and character that transcends the in-part ministry of the church systems wherein we walked in our childhood in Christ. These Priests are not apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, or teachers -- they are King-Priests after the order of Melchizedek, which is the order of manifested sonship. They live in the fullness of God, but come forth with bread and wine to nourish and bless and restore in the form of servants. They are the sons of men who become the sons of God. They are born of agape-love, enter the Melchizedek Priesthood, and become God's Kings and Priests unto all creation. Becoming a son is not an ego trip. It is a position of great responsibility. We pray that we will be equal to the challenge God has set before us, and that we will be enabled to fill the place He is calling us to. Amen.
J. PRESTON EBY
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J. Preston Eby
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El Paso TX 79937-1240
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