ECHOES FROM EDEN
DRESSING THE GARDEN
"And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had formed...to DRESS IT AND KEEP IT" (Gen. 2:7-8,15).
In these articles on DRESSING THE GARDEN I am endeavoring to show that the lovely garden which God planted in Eden at the beginning of human history is a divine representation of man's state of being when first brought forth from the skillful and loving hands of his Creator. Adam was placed in this garden, the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, and was told to "dress" and to "keep" it. The word "dress" is the translation of a Hebrew word meaning "to work, to serve, to till, to be a bondsman, a husbandman - a gardener." The word "keep" actually means "guard," and the idea conveyed is to protect the precious plants and trees of the garden from every enemy, exercising a careful and loving stewardship over it, keeping it beautiful and orderly and flourishing, with every component in place and in harmonious relationship with the whole, that the fruit thereof might abound.
It would be a beautiful thing if all the saints of the Lord could have the spirit of revelation that would enable them to understand how the life of every child of God is a garden within God's garden. Though the Lord may let us tend a portion of His great Garden, though He may let us minister to many souls in different ways, there is a part of the garden of the Lord which HE actually gives to each one of us; and that is the garden of our own lives. He would have us care for and guard our heart above all we treasure and protect, for out of them are the issues of life. It is this hidden place of our innermost being that must be watched and tended more than all that appears on the outside. We must guard and protect the roots and hidden fibers of our beings; our thoughts, our impulses, our desires and motives. And the purpose of all this tending, dressing and guarding is that every plant and tree in the Garden shall bring forth FRUIT.
WHAT IS THE FRUIT?
"I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth MUCH FRUIT: for without Me ye can do nothing. Herein is My Father glorified, that YE BEAR MUCH FRUIT" (Jn. 15:5,8).
Now the question readily arises, what is the fruit to be borne? Everywhere today carnal men with carnal minds spawned many mis-conceptions concerning the holy things of God. Oft times people have looked at some zealous evangelist or devoted missionary and piously exclaimed: "May the Lord give you a harvest of many souls" - as if this were the fruit for the preacher to produce! Truly, we rejoice with the angles in heaven over every sinner that comes to repentance (Lk. 15:7,10), and there is a special joy that attends the birthing of a new life into the family of God; but I do not hesitate to declare to you, beloved, that winning souls to Jesus has nothing to do with "bearing fruit." To bear fruit is to produce a harvest, and a harvest speaks of gathering that which is MATURE, FULLY DEVELOPED, BROUGHT TO PERFECTION. Bringing souls into a salvation experience has little in common with this type of maturity and perfection, for such newborn babes in Christ are mere beginners, not mature ones; and BABIES ARE BORN, NOT HARVESTED. Paul wrote, "For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel" (I Cor. 4:15). How clear from this verse that A NEW LIFE IS BROUGHT FORTH THROUGH THE TRAVAIL AND BIRTHING PROCESS, and such is not a harvesting of "maturity" but the beginning of a new life which must grow and develop unto maturity, that there may be fruit. All fruit is borne in maturity; such is the law of nature.
We all know what fruit is. The produce of the branch, by which men are refreshed and nourished. The fruit is not the same as the branch, nor is it for the branch, but for those who come to carry it away. As soon as the fruit is ripe, the branch gives it off, to commence afresh its work of beneficence, and anew prepare its fruit for another season. A fruit-bearing tree lives not for itself, but wholly for the owner of the orchard and for those to whom its fruit brings refreshment and life. And so the branch exist only and entirely for the sake of the fruit. To make glad the heart of the husbandman is its first object, its safety, and its glory; and to bless those who partake of its fruit, the second. With these facts in mind, how easy it should be to understand that the fruit we bear is not the souls we save, but that which is BORNE OUT OF OUR LIVES which is then the possession of the Owner of the Garden, to be distributed as He chooses to MAKE IT LIFE UNTO OTHERS. Souls are not the fruit; they eat of the fruit, are blessed by the fruit, and are quickened and nourished by the fruit.
The more we study the Bible and the more we see its themes unfold, the more we will discover that its many truths are in fact one truth. They are like the countless boards, nails and bricks that, though they be so many, and so diverse, make up one building. So is God's great and eternal storehouse of truth. As we consider this great truth of fruit-bearing in the Garden of the Lord, we cannot disassociate the fruit from the vine and branches that bear it. Twenty-five centuries ago Zechariah prophesied of One who should come, saying, "Behold, I will bring forth My servant the BRANCH" (Zech. 3:8). This remarkable prophecy is amplified in its glory, majesty and wonder by these words of inspiration from the prophet Isaiah: "In that day shall the BRANCH OF THE LORD be glorious, and the FRUIT of the earth shall be excellent and comely" (Isa. 4:2).
There are many descriptive terms which are used in the Word to speak of God's chosen ones, His elect. They are variously designated "the firstfruits," "the elect," "the body of Christ," "Sons of God," "kings and priests," "army of the Lord," "kingdom of God," "temple of God," "arm of the Lord," "Zion," "City of God," "the anointed," "the Garden of God," "the little-stone" company which shall be used to smite all the kingdoms of this world, and bring forth the glorious Kingdom of our God, etc. etc. This company is also called THE BRANCH OF THE LORD. Jesus said, "I am the Vine, YE ARE THE BRANCHES" (Jn. 15:5). This is the Branch in the Garden of God, to be dressed, and tended, and guarded, that it shall bring forth much fruit, even a hundred fold.
May the blessed Holy Spirit give the reader eyes to see and a heart to understand that this is not usurping the place of our precious Lord Jesus Christ, when we of God's elect as THE BRANCH. All those who love God and revere His Word know that this title to the Lord Jesus Christ, for IN ALL THINGS He must have the pre-eminence; nevertheless, is it not the same God who inspired these words: "He that is joined to the Lord IS ONE SPIRIT" (I Cor. 6:17). All of that called-out company of which He is the HEAD, and who are vitally joined to Him AS ONE SPIRIT, who also bear His name and share His glory and throne, are the BRANCHES OF HIM WHO IS THE TRUE VINE, the planting of the Lord.
Prov. 11:28 says, "The righteous shall flourish as branch." The word "flourish" is translated from the Hebrew word "parach" meaning "to break forth as a bud, to bloom (with fruit in view), to spring up, to spread abroad." This Branch of the Lord is a SPRINGING UP, GROWING, INCREASING, BLOSSOMING, FRUIT-BEARING Branch, rising up in the power of His resurrection, advancing from glory to glory, from strength to strength, from faith to faith, from fruitfulness to fruitfulness. So much of what we called fruit in the past, our multiplied works, efforts, promotions, organizing, and doings oft times withered and died, being consumed by the fire of God's testing; it perished with using, for it had no eternal quality in it, because IT SPRANG FROM SELF. But now that God is planting us in His Garden, making us the keepers of the Garden, that fruit which grows out of HIS GRACE, HIS LIFE WITHIN, will be abundant, and will remain, bless His name!
And what is the fruit to be borne by this flourishing branch? The answer is found in Jer. 23:5-6 where we read, "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a RIGHTEOUS BRANCH, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth...and this is His name whereby He shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS." The Branch of the Lord is called a "righteous Branch" and His name is THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. "The RIGHTEOUS shall flourish as a BRANCH" (Prov. 11:28). Righteousness is not soul winning, preaching, prophesying, speaking in tongues, healing, casting out devils, establishing churches, doing good works, nor any of the thousand and one other things mistakenly imagined to be "fruit." Righteousness is, first of all, a STATE OF BEING. Righteousness is, above all else, a NATURE. Righteousness is not merely what a person does, but what he IS. "For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that WE MIGHT BE MADE THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD in Him" (II Cor. 5:21). It follows, however, that there is a doing of righteousness which proceeds from the being of righteousness.
What does righteousness mean? What is righteousness? "The kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but RIGHTEOUSNESS...in the Holy Ghost" (Rom. 14:17). Righteousness is RIGHT-BEING...right living, right attitude, right desire, right motive, right actions, a total rightness in all things according to God's standard and as expression of God's nature. When you receive a new spirit, or right spirit, or Holy Spirit, you are destined to right being and right doing; you are destined to righteousness. David prayed, "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a RIGHT SPIRIT within me" (Ps. 51:10). Right being and right doing is attainable on this earth right now because of the right spirit. Who is the right spirit? Christ is the right spirit, a new spirit, the Holy Spirit, God's Spirit, the spirit of RIGHTEOUSNESS.
The realities of the Kingdom of God are not to be found in the things you know about God nor in the knowledge and understanding you acquire even of the "deeper truths" of Sonship, etc. One knows that a person is in the Kingdom of God because of the LIFE that emanates through him by the inworkings of the Spirit of God. Ah - God's chosen ones are plants in the Garden of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, destined to bear fruit, even a hundred fold. To explain what the Kingdom of God is, sometimes it is important to know what the Kingdom of God is not. "For the Kingdom of God is not in word, but in power" (I Cor. 4:20). The Kingdom of God is NOT IN WORD. You mean if you can preach like Paul, understanding all the mysteries, explain all the deep revelations, know all about pre-existence, the pre-Adamic creation, where Cain got his wife, how the different races of men originated, who are the lost ten tribes of Israel, who is the antichrist, what is the mark of the beast, when the tribulation will begin, how the Sons of God shall conquer death, the collapse of the international money system, the Illuminati, pyramidology, etc. etc. - the full and correct understanding of all these things is not the Kingdom of God? No! "The Kingdom of God is not in word (understanding, teaching, doctrine), but in POWER." If the Kingdom of God is in power, what kind of power would that be? It would to be GOD POWER. The Bible reveals that God is a Spirit; therefore, the Kingdom of God would be SPIRIT POWER. God is love. I ask you, Is there power in love? Is there power in peace? I would say there is power in peace! Is there power in joy? If you have joy, you are not going to be sobbing and crying for fear of being destroyed, or because somebody did you wrong. There is power in joy! It is contagious. There is power in peace. It is contagious. There is power in love; power to soften the hardest heart, to reconcile the bitterest foe, to transform the wickedest of men! There is power in temperance. There is power in gentleness. There is in power in faith. There is power in goodness. There is power in patience and longsuffering. There is power in righteousness. There are nine virtues of the fruit of the Spirit and each one is a spiritual reality, and this is the very power that constitutes the Kingdom of God - the power that is destined to change the whole world even as it has is CHANGING YOU. The Kingdom of God is not in word, but it is in power. The Kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but is righteousness - or RIGHT BEING AND DOING. It is peace and joy in the Holy Ghost!
What does your life emanate to others? What flows from your lips, your moods, your disposition, your actions and reactions? Can those who draw nigh to this Garden where you are planted see or sense peace, joy, love, life and righteousness? Is there power, a Godly power, a divine power, coming from your life? Forgiveness...mercy...humility...godliness...THIS is what the Kingdom of God is, and this is the FRUIT to be upon the branches of your life and mine.
Abiding in HIM, He will cause to increase the fruits of your righteousness. That which springs out of "man" will fade and fail, for the natural is but a shadow soon dissipated. That which is produced out of the carnal mind holds within it the sentence of death, for to be carnally minded is death. But that which springs forth from our spirit, which has been quickened by the Spirit of God, this fruit, this generation of HIS NEW LIFE will grow, expanding our righteousness, increasing the characteristics of Himself, which redounds to His praise.
Ah, yes, the FRUIT of the Vine is the product of the life in the Vine, taking of that life and producing from it a substance that can be visible to others and of which they can eat and live. Is your life influencing other people for God? As a Son of God you will find there is life flowing through you. This is merely the presence of Jesus Christ within you, and the divine realities within this presence are the fruit that is being formed. He who bears such fruit, amid all who surround him, becomes a TREE OF LIFE of which they can taste and be refreshed. "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me" (Jn. 15:4). All fruit is the expression, manifestation and outflow of HIS SPIRIT OF LIFE DWELLING WITHIN. The seed of life is HIS, the growth is HIS, the fruitage is HIS, and we are but the earthen vessel which He has energized and nourished to bear the fruit. And what is the fruit? Souls? No! "THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT IS love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance" (Gal. 5:22-23). The fruit is WHAT HE IS, manifested in our lives and made edible to those who so desperately need to partake of HIM!
There is a beautiful parallel between the second chapter of Genesis and the book of the Song of Solomon, chapter two, verse thirteen we read: "The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell." Another translation reads: "As for the fig tree, it has gained a mature color for its early figs; and the vines are abloom, they have given their fragrance." The Hebrew indicates that the fig tree, upon which abundant fruitage has been preparing during the winter, has begun to "make red" her green figs, bringing into manifestation the CONDITION OF MATURITY and fullness. It is interesting to note that the fig is a winter fruit in Palestine which remains on the branches until spring. This denotes a fruit which has passed through the winter of testing and has survived, bespeaking the fruit we acquire in our lives through discipline and severe trials, but which, when spring arrives, comes forth in luscious rich sweetness. Figs need more moisture than most, and the spiritual application is clear, those who come to this maturity require the full measure of the water of the Spirit and the Word. The figs must be well tended to hasten their maturity. There was an ancient custom to hasten the maturity of the figs which consisted in dropping a drop of pure olive oil of HIS SPIRIT, watered with the pure water of HIS WORD, well tended, cultivated and guarded - an abundant harvest of HIS LIFE!
"And the vines are in blossom; they give forth their fragrance." " The vines," symbolic of the true Vine, are ladened with fragrant blossoms. This symbolizes the birth and pure, fragrant life of our Lord when He was upon earth. The flowers on the vine have their place, and Christ's holy, spotless life had its place; but if there were only blossoms on the grapevine, with no fruit, the blossoms, however fragrant and beautiful they might be, would profit nothing. Even so with the true Vine. If the pure, fragrant life of our Lord Jesus Christ upon earth were all, then there would be no fruit; and His life would have profited nothing in the redemption of the human race. But our Lord's life on earth was perfected, the fruit was perfected and gathered, and the juice of the fruit flowed out when He hung upon Calvary. It was only as He died that He opened up the way for bringing MANY SONS to glory. It was as He died that the incorruptible seed of His perfect and divine life was taken from the fruit of His being to be planted in all who receive of His life by faith. Those who do not understand the greatness of God's purpose in Sonship, those whose eyes are blinded to the realities of this hour, those who comprehend not that there shall come forth in this hour a many-membered body IN HIS LIKENESS, CONFORMED TO HIS IMAGE, the COMPLETENESS OF HIM, really exalt the flowers of His historical life above the fruit, which comes forth more abundantly as His life flows through the many branches and is there formed into a substance of beauty and sweetness and nourishment.
As with our Lord who is the true Vine, so with the believers who are the branches; the blossoms, however beautiful and fragrant, profit nothing if they wither away and fall off, and there is no fruit. Experiencing His blessings, however beautiful and enjoyable, profits nothing except His life be formed within. We are warned that those that have no fruit shall be taken away; but the great Husbandman prunes those that show signs of life, and have even a little fruitfulness. He purges and cuts off all suckers and fruitless wood that they may bear more fruit; and if they abide in the Vine, Christ, they shall bear much fruit.
Already the Kingdom of Heaven is beginning to show promise of a great and eternal harvest. Already the warmth and light from the Sun of righteousness," who has arisen with healing in His wings, has moved upon our hearts, and the hearts of many thousands of God's people across the land and around the world, moving upon that which was dead and dormant; and in the place of dry, dead branches, tender shoots are springing forth. Out of the dry ground of our humanity has a "root-sprout come forth" (Isa. 53:2). Ah, beloved, a Shoot has come forth, and a Branch out of His roots which shall bear fruit (Isa. 11:1). This Root-sprout is Jesus Christ, and the Branches are the many Sons He is leading to glory. Arise! Behold the dawn! Drink of the intoxicating freshness of the morn! Walk up and down through the Garden of the Lord and smell the fragrance that fills the air from the blossoms upon the Vine, the sweet savor before God of the "beloved Son in whom I am well pleased" being formed in the "many brethren" that follow the Lamb. This sweet savor ascends from every branch that abides in Christ, and from those heavenly blossoms, which shall become fruit for eternity unto the glory of God.
THE KEEPERS OF THE VINEYARD
"Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon; he let out the vineyard unto keepers; everyone for the fruit thereof was to bring a thousand pieces of silver. My vineyard, which is mine, is before me: thou, Solomon, must have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred" (S. of S. 8:11-12).
The literal meaning of "Baal-hamon" is "the owner of a multitude." Solomon typifies the Lord Jesus Christ and the vineyard corresponds to the garden of Eden, the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. Not only is the Lord Jesus Christ the owner of a multitude, but He has planted His Vineyard in the midst of this multitude; and from the multitude men are taken and planted in His Vineyard. In the Old Testament, the people of God were as the sands of the sea; and throughout the Book of Revelation, we see that the Redeemed throng is pictured as "a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues" (Rev. 7:9). Then - beyond the great multitude, there is amore select and favored class - the 144,000 chosen ones, having the Father's name written in their foreheads, who follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth (all the way with God), being the firstfruits (of the matured ones) unto God and to the Lamb (Rev. 14:1-5).
In the above verses quoted from the Song of Solomon it is stated the Vineyard of the Lord was "let out unto keepers." The keepers are the Sons of God, for Adam of old was a Son of God (Lk. 3:38) and was put in the Garden "to dress it and keep it." We are appointed to till, keep, prune, nurture, and care for the Lord's ground and plants, and He will presently reward the faithful keepers with the increase of the fruits. The keepers were to bring to Solomon a thousand pieces of silver for the fruit of the Vineyard, representing the full value of the fruit.
ONE THOUSAND (And all the zeros of the thousands) is the number in Scripture connected with THE GLORY OF GOD. The highest number referred to in any way in the Bible is ten thousands times ten thousand, and the whole picture surrounding this number bespeaks the majesty of the GLORY OF GOD. "I beheld till the thrones were set, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head like the pure wool: His throne was like the fiery flame, and His wheels like burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him: thousand thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand(s) times ten thousand stood before Him" (Dan. 7:9-10). "And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angles (messengers) round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand(s) times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing" (Rev. 5:11-12).
Interesting that in connection with the "thousand years" in chapter 20 and 21 of Revelation, John was carried away in the Spirit and showed "that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, HAVING THE GLORY OF GOD: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal" (Rev. 21:10-11). As you study these things you will notice that the Scriptures show conclusively that ONE THOUSAND is the number of THE GLORY OF GOD. There is a most significant truth here, to which the Spirit of God would draw our attention. When the keepers of the Vineyard render a thousand pieces of silver to the Lord of the Vineyard, this price represents the FULL VALUE OF THE FRUIT, signifying that they return unto the Lord all He has inworked into their lives, the price of all the fruitage borne, so that HE RECEIVES ALL THE GLORY for all that has been wrought! A thousand pieces of silver, all the glory of the fruitage, rendered unto the Lord, for He is worthy, bless His name.
Now notice that the value of the fruit of the Vineyard is a thousand pieces of silver. Silver is a symbol of redemption, and full redemption means deliverance from all the power and effects of sin and death - spirit, soul, and body. Here we have the blessed end to which Christ and life in Him leads. The word redemption, though many times applied to our deliverance from the guilt of sin, refers to our complete and final deliverance from all it's power and consequences, when the Redeemer's work shall become fully manifest, breaking all the power of the carnal mind and nature of the soul, even to the redemption of the body itself.
"But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption" (I Cor. 1:30). Christ is made unto us REDEMPTION. The word invites us to look unto Jesus our forerunner, not only as He lived on earth, teaching us by word and example, as He died, to reconcile us to God, but as, sitting at the right hand of God, He takes again the glory which He had with the Father, before the world began, and holds it there for us. His glory consists in this, that there His human nature, yea, His human body, freed from all the consequences of sin to which He had once been exposed, is now admitted to share the divine and eternal glory of GOD. As Son of Man, He dwells on the throne and in the bosom of the Father: the deliverance from what He had to suffer from the power of sin and death is complete and eternal. The complete redemption is found embodied in His own glorious Person: what He as glorified man is and has in heaven IS THE COMPLETE REDEMPTION. HE is made of God to us redemption!
We are in Him and He is in us as redemption. And the more intelligently and believingly we acknowledge Him as our redemption, the more shall we experience, even now, of "the powers of the age to come." As our communion with Him becomes more intimate and intense, and we let the Holy Spirit reveal HIM to us in His heavenly glory, the more we realize how the life in us is the life of the One who sits upon the throne of the heavens. We feel the power of an endless life working in us. We taste the eternal life. We have the foretaste of the eternal glory. It is here! HE is made to us redemption - now! The sanctification of the soul, the transformation of the body is no longer a barren doctrine, but a living expectation, and even an incipient experience, because the Spirit of Him who raised up Jesus from the dead, dwells in our bodies as the pledge that even our mortal bodies shall be quickened. This faith exercises a sanctifying influence in the willing surrender of the sinful members of the body to be mortified and completely subjected to the dominion of the Spirit, as preparation for the time when the frail body shall be changed and fashioned like to His body of glory.
Thus now with all conviction I tell you that when the keepers of the Vineyard render unto the Lord of the Vineyard a thousand pieces of silver, they present before Him THE FINISHED PRODUCT OF REDEMPTION, which is naught but THEMSELVES CONFORMED INTO HIS LIKENESS, spirit, soul, and body. And it is a thousand pieces of silver, for it is ALL TO HIS GLORY, as it is also the manifestation OF HIS GLORY. "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with glory which shall be revealed in us" (Rom. 8:18). "...who shall transform this body of ours which has been humiliated by the presence of indwelling sin and by death and decay, so that it will be conformed TO HIS BODY OF HIS GLORY" (Phil. 3:21, Wuest).
The prize of Sonship to God is a prize beyond the scope of human imagination. To be a Son of God and joint heir with Jesus Christ that "as He is so are we in this present world" is a hope which defies all possibility of description. The hope that burns perennial like a fire within the breasts of God's elect Sons is the inspiration that inspires them to tend the gardens of their lives, to prune and purge and purify their hearts that they might be pure even as He is pure. These are filled with holy zeal and determination to faithfully dress and keep their vineyards, that they may bring forth fruit unto God, fruit that will redound TO THE GLORY OF GOD, and to HIM alone!
Every man and woman who in this hour cherishes the hope of Sonship rejoices that God has called him to be conformed to the image of His own dear Son; and in order that he may do this, God has given him the needed tools of the Spirit and the Word, with which to guard and tend every avenue of his life. He rejoices that the Lord has really given him this sacred trust as "keeper of the Vineyard," and he determines that it shall ever be before his eyes; he will not neglect nor lose sight of it day nor night until the fruit thereof has been brought forth and the Lord the Vineyard receives His "thousand" - ALL THE GLORY.
Those apprehended to Sonship are not busy working for God with the motive self-interest, nor for what it will bring them. They are not thinking joy and all those other spiritual blessings that come from obeying the Father and doing His will. We scarcely realize the mixed motives that oft times defile our prayers and even enter into our obedience to God. We think we desire only His glory; but we become taken up with satisfaction we shall have when we are overcomers, with the joy that will ours when we reach the place where we live and walk in the Spirit continually, and with the power that shall flow through us when we rule and reign with God's glory, but we are really taken up with the advantage it will bring to us, the ego of our faith, our victory, etc. and even the earthly things we shall enjoy once we are well! We pray for God to use us in the saving of souls and think that we desire this for His glory, when we are really concerned about the apparent "success" of "our ministry" and its enhancement as we quote to others the "statistics" of how many people we have won to Christ. We seek after gifts and manifestations, for God's glory we think, while beneath lurks the secret desire to appear "spiritual" before men, and the satisfaction of the esteem and recognition the gift brings.
There is nothing in the whole world so deceiving as our innermost motives! We pray that God will save souls, that He will supply our needs, that He will bring us into closer communion with Himself; we pray for so many things that are right and legitimate and would be for His glory; but if the Spirit searches out our innermost and deepest motives, we should be dismayed how much SELF INTEREST has entered in. Why do you long for the flesh and the moving of the self-life to be put away? Why are you praying that the Holy Spirit shall take full control of you, enabling you to continually live and walk in the Spirit? Why have you desired to be a joint heir with Christ, to share His throne, reigning in the Kingdom? Why have you pray all those prayers of the past, which have gone up before the face of God, bearing such great petitions and such magnificent promises? Has your motive and desire been for FRUIT and only that GOD SHALL BE GLORIFIED, or have you looked at the benefit that would come to you?
Why have you grieved that there were so many waste places in your life, so many unworthy things, so much that was unchristlike? Has your one sorrow and grief been, that your Lord has not been glorified in you as God had planned? or was it regret for your own failures and humiliation, because of the effect they had upon your prestige and influence with others? "My vineyard, which is mine, is before me: thou, O Solomon, must have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred" (S. of S. 8:12). Too often we are concerned that the thousand shall be ours, and we give the two hundred to the Lord. We want all the joy, the blessing, and we are thinking of our own delight and the increase in our own lives; but we forget that ALL MUST BE GIVEN TO OUR SOLOMON, all must be for HIM and for HIM alone, and He gives back to us the two hundred; for it is we who tend the Vineyard of the Lord.
How remarkable that the keepers of the Vineyard receive back, out of the thousand, exactly TWO HUNDRED pieces of silver. The spiritual significance of the number two hundred is most meaningful, being 2 x 100. ONE HUNDRED is the number that stands in the Scriptures for THE CHILDREN OF THE PROMISE, or THE SONS OF GOD. Isaac, a child of promise, was born when Abraham was a hundred years old. "And Abraham was an HUNDRED years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him" (Gen. 21:5). Isaac was a type of the children of promise, or the promised seed, Christ, Head and body, that company of kings and priests destined to bring deliverance to the groaning creation, the many-membered SON. "Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise" (Gal.4:28). "In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, they which are children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed" (Rom. 9:7-8). The number ONE HUNDRED is connected with Isaac's sowing and reaping, and God's blessing, even a hundred fold fruitage: "Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an HUNDRED fold: and the Lord BLESSED him" (Gen. 26:12). Isaac received this HUNDRED FOLD in the harvest time, the time of MATURE FRUIT. In His parable about the tares Jesus said, "The good seed are the children of the Kingdom...the harvest is the end of the age...THEN SHALL THE RIGHTEOUS SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN IN THE KINGDOM OF THEIR FATHER (Mat. 13:38-39,43). The Lord roots out the tares, but gathers His wheat (matured Sons) into His barn (as provision for the world's hunger).
Jesus likened His apprehended ones unto an HUNDRED sheep gathered into a fold. He is not speaking of the conversion of unbelievers, but of His dealings with HIS OWN SHEEP, the children of the promise. "For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. How think ye? If a man have an HUNDRED sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?" (Mat. 18:11-12). "Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice; and there shall be ONE FOLD and ONE HUNDRED" (Jn. 10:16). The number ONE HUNDRED also appears in a number of significant places in the Tabernacle in the Wilderness.
I dare not attempt any detail here, but the number TWO is the number of WITNESS. TWO HUNDRED is TWO TIMES ONE HUNDRED. So putting these meanings together, ONE HUNDRED standing for the children of promise, the Sons of God, and TWO standing for witness, the number TWO HUNDRED reveals THE WITNESS OF THE SONS OF GOD, or GOD'S SONS AS HIS WITNESS. Isn't that beautiful! It is completely impossible to over-emphasize the importance of this great truth: it is given to us to become the Sons of God, the expression and witness of God in the earth, that is our two hundred - but to HIM belongs the thousand, to GOD BE ALL THE GLORY, in all things, at all times, forever; for all that we have and are shall ever be are OF HIM and FROM HIM, and FOR HIM, and TO HIM, blessed be the name of the Lord.
It is through the inworkings of God in our lives that the increase is brought forth for the Owner of the Garden. Every time some measure of His life is worked in us through the dealings that He brings our way, every time faith and love are increased, every time we partake of the working of the cross and put off something of the flesh, every time the mind of Christ rules in our lives a little more, we add a piece of silver to the revenue that He has a right to expect from the vineyards and gardens He has planted, for He becomes more and more GLORIFIED IN US. As we die daily that His life may be manifested, we add piece by piece to the increase that we have covenanted to give to Him. Let it encourage our hearts to remember that every time we put to the test our union with Jesus Christ in His death and resurrection, we are depositing precious pieces of silver, the outworking of His redemption, to redound to His praise and glory. The two hundred which is given back to us is of the thousand unto Him, so that, precious and wonderful as it is, all we have and are is ENTIRELY BY HIS GRACE and UNTO HIS GLORY.
To the keepers of the Vineyard comes this word: "Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; BREAK UP YOUR FALLOW GROUND: for it is time to seek the Lord, till He come and rain righteousness upon you" (Hosea 10:12). The deeper the plow goes, the more the ground is prepared, the more abundant the crop. If we refuse to submit to the plow, is it any wonder there is little fruit? Praise God, though the processing has not been easy upon the self-life, as HIS DEALINGS have faithfully come upon our lives, He surely has been causing our fallow ground to be thoroughly broken up, breaking the hard clods of our pre-conceived ideas, dislodging the rocks of our self-will, tearing out the imbedded roots of our own fleshly desires and the carnal traditions of religion which resisted the inworking of truth, and thus enlarging the field for a greater crop of HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS.
Turn to the flesh, follow the ways of the carnal mind, as did Adam in his garden; try to become something in yourself, and you will ultimately wither right in the furrow where you tried so hard to become a plant of beauty. It is high time to SEEK THE LORD till HE rain righteousness upon us! Turn from all of man's programs and efforts, turn from the frenzy of religious activity promoted by Church systems, for many of the Lord's people let the so-called work of the Lord steal away the anointing and unction that would transform them into the image of the Son. Many let the energy and activity of running here and there, doing this and that "for God" soothe them into a vain belief that all this religious ferver is really speed in following Jesus Christ. There is a true work of the Lord, that which is WROUGHT BY HIS SPIRIT through us, but let me assure you that Babylon's confusion will not produce true spirituality, nor will any of her ways and manners. But they who seek the Lord, turning to HIM with all their heart, find that God will plow, cultivate, water, settle, prune and bless His Garden until every plant and vine and tree shall flourish and be found to His praise and glory. It requires a separation from the that lies without His Garden, from all the rest of the world, to be cut off from the thoughts and reasoning's and methods of this world's systems; but it also means to be renewed INTO THE MIND OF CHRIST, praise God, until HIS MIND operates in you as the very normal out-living of His life, will, and purpose.
Yes, beloved, let us find ourselves in the Garden of the Lord, let us see ourselves under the mighty hand of the Master Husbandman as the keepers of the Garden, and may we determine to tend well this garden of our lives in Christ. As this evil age comes to its climax, every allurement of the world is exerting itself, to entice mankind. The kingdoms of this world seek to swallow up even the elect in their grasp. But there is another, higher Kingdom, the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, which is not this world, a realm of life which is not derived from this world's systems and orders. Thus this becomes a day of crucial decision - not just for the baby Christians held captive within Babylon's walls, but for the deepest saint - to which kingdom are we totally committed? Those called to maturity can no longer stand with one foot in the Garden of the Lord, and the other foot planted in Babylon. There must be a renunciation of all that is not of the SPIRIT, a deliberate stand for truth. a separation unto GOD, abandoning all else, to FOLLOW THE LAMB WHITHERSOEVER HE GOETH, renouncing all other paths, and it is here, in the good soil of the Kingdom of God that we will find hundred fold fruitage, for when HIS WILL and HIS WAY is our supreme desire, it becomes the fertile field of rich growth and increase of HIS LIFE.
J. PRESTON EBY
J. PRESTON EBY
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