ECHOES FROM EDEN

 

Part XXVI

 

THE GARMENTS OF EDEN

"And they were both naked, the man and his wife...and the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And... unto Adam and his wife did the Lord God make COATS OF SKINS, AND CLOTHED THEM" (Gen. 2:25; 3:6-10,21).

What a blessed and thrilling revelation it has been to have the Spirit unfold the wonders of the Garden of Eden! All that now pertains, or shall ever pertain to man's relationship with God is there unveiled to the wondering eyes of our understanding. With the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden, having disobeyed the command of God, and partaking of the forbidden fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, their eyes were opened, and they knew that they were naked and went and "hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the Garden" (Gen. 3:8). To this day Adam's race senses their shame, and cannot stand in the presence of God without fear, UNLESS CLOTHED UPON WITH THE GARMENTS OF OUR GOD. Gladly, therefore, do we freely acknowledge that "HE hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, HE hath covered me with the robe of righteousness" (Isa. 61:10). Realizing that all our covering garments must be of HIM, let us follow on to examine the character of these garments, and their operation in our lives.

"Unto Adam also and his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them" (Gen. 3:21). These coats were for clothing as well as to hide their shame. They were not their own; not of their own invention, but made by Jehovah from skin taken off some slain victim, and placed by His hand upon the man and woman who needed them. It may be observed here that while "coats" is in plural number, "skin" is in the original in the singular number, and not plural as in the King James Version, intended by the Spirit to make the type more significant - ONE victim supplying the whole cover! Also the Hebrew word translated "skin," is derived from a root, signifying "to be naked." The victim was made naked, stripped of its skin, that a covering might be provided for the naked ones.

We would be hard pressed to determine what kind of victim it was that provided this blessed covering, were it not that the Holy Spirit has shed precious light upon this wonder, revealing that CHRIST is "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8), who verily was "a Lamb without blemish or spot...foreordained before the foundation of the world" (I Pet. 1:19-20). It is important to note that this Lamb was FOREORDAINED BEFORE the foundation of the world, but He was not SLAIN BEFORE the foundation of the world, as we so often hear the verse misquoted. Not one verse of Scripture in the whole Bible declares that Christ was slain before the foundation of the world, but Peter does tell us by inspiration of the Holy Spirit that He was slain from the foundation of the world, and that certainly carries us back to Eden.

The skin with which God clothed Adam and Eve in Eden was the product of the life of God's precious Lamb. When they received these blessed garments upon them, they received something borne out of HIS LIFE, a very part of HIMSELF, the form and appearance of Himself generated by His life. More wonderful than news from a far country is the wonderful revelation with which He now floods our hearts, showing how He now clothes us with THE LAMB'S SKIN - the Lamb's own image, likeness, and identity.

STRANGE APPAREL

We must once and for all settle it in our hearts that in all the world there is NO OTHER COVERING than that which God has Himself provided in our Lord Jesus Christ. We are living in days of extreme peril. The feverish activity of all the religious systems of earth is immense, but it is not motivated by the Spirit of God. This is a day of every imaginable spiritual deception. One of these many deceptions is described by the prophet Zephaniah in these words, "And it shall come to pass in the day of the Lord's sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king's children, and all such as are CLOTHED WITH STRANGE APPAREL" (Zeph. 1:8). What do we mean by "strange apparel bespeaks a covering which is strange to the Lord, not of HIS SPIRIT, but of the flesh.

We hear much these days about having a "local group for a covering," whatever that is supposed to mean. Strange apparel, indeed! This so-called "truth" usually refers to a psuedo-spiritual submission to men calling themselves elders, or shepherds, who desire to lord it over a flock or other men's lives, and tell others what they can and cannot do. They esteem themselves spiritual enough to discern for everybody else what the will of the Lord is, though they themselves are missing the point entirely. My brother, my sister, hearken to the words of the prophet Isaiah: "Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, BUT NOT OF ME; and that cover with a covering, BUT NOT OF MY SPIRIT, that they may add sin to sin" (Isa. 30:1).

COVERING! By many this term is used to mean that each believer, being a "dumb sheep," needs the "covering" or protection of a group, or fold, presided over by men who are "elders" or "shepherds". Every one is in "submission" to someone higher in the pyramid, until the whole structure becomes one vast hierarchy with just a few men or one man at the top. Each "shepherd" of a local group is "in submission" to some other higher "shepherd" and all these are ultimately submitted to an "apostle" somewhere in the world. Some rule more strictly than others over their "dumb sheep," but in general the individual believer is taught that he cannot trust his own ability to hear from the Lord, or understand the Word of God, or order his own life, but must look to his earthly shepherd to hear from the Lord for him. In many cases one dare not change jobs, move from one place to another, marry, or make any other decision without checking it out with the elder or elders. The counsel of the elder or shepherd in many cases MUST be followed! Women have often been told that they must always obey their husband's wishes, even if he requires something illegal or immoral! Some are instructed as to how much of their means to "give" to the "body".

Now, not all who teach "the covering" are that extreme, but for many of them the half has not been told. There is a great emphasis on the word "covering" as being necessary for each member, for protection from harm and deception. If we do not have this "covering" of the local fellowship, or elders, or shepherds, then, we are told, we cannot discern the will of the Lord, cannot understand the Word of the Lord, will be overcome by our adversary, will fall into sin and delusion, or the present world system will destroy us. Some groups across the country will not receive your ministry unless you reveal to them who your "covering" is.

I am frankly appalled at the shallowness, gullibility, and lack of spiritual discernment among the people of God, for they give heed continually to the voice of such strangers, but the voice of the Good Shepherd they do not know. Why are the children of God so ready to blindly accept every subtle and plausible teaching that is thrust at them, without earnestly seeking the help of the blessed Spirit WHO ALONE HAS BEEN SENT TO GUIDE US INTO ALL TRUTH. Any preacher today who can come up with some fantastic notion can corral God's people under his authority, and the more fantastic the notion the more people run after it. I do not hesitate to tell you that I know of no greater deception that has entered in among the people of God during the past twenty years than the error of the "covering" teaching.

Where, I ask, WHERE DOES THE SCRIPTURE GIVE EVIDENCE THIS APPLICATION OF THE WORD "COVERING" IS LEGITIMATE? I know of no place! Where in the Bible, I ask, is the husband called a "covering" for his wife? Where in the whole Bible are elders called a "covering" for the Church? In what place is the Church spoken of as a "covering" for believers? Where is the chapter and verse to be found that refers to an apostle as a "covering" for other ministries, elders, or shepherds? Where is the rule that a ministry should not be accepted unless he has some group or eldership for a "covering"? Ah, my friend, you may search for these long and hard, you may burn the midnight oil, you may read and study until your eyes become red and your vision blurred, until you fall into fitful sleep with your Bible and reference books still open on the desk before you, and I can assure you without fear of contradiction that your most diligent and persistent efforts shall prove fruitless and in vain! We are blind readers indeed if we do not readily see that the fact of the matter is that the "covering" doctrine is foreign to the Word of God! Strange apparel, indeed! You will have to tear the Bible all to pieces if you teach such doctrine.

The time has come when people no longer endure sound doctrine but are turned to fables. Many false Christs and false prophets and false forms of religion are going forth into all the world. Some time ago a dear sister stopped to visit with us for a few hours, and during the course of our conversation she asked a most momentous question. She wanted to know, in my opinion, what is the greatest danger present among God's people in this hour. I could only reply that the greatest danger I perceive today is that of God's saints being BROUGHT INTO BONDAGE TO MEN. And I will tell you frankly that there are a thousand and one different schemes and distortions of the Word of God continually being concocted by conniving and power-hungry preachers to bring the saints into bondage to men.

I speak the truth when I say it is high time for the people of God to begin to KNOW THE LORD FOR THEMSELVES. Let God's people come out from among them and begin to seek God, and walk with God, and know God, and search the Scriptures for themselves, and GOD HIMSELF will be YOUR FATHER and you will sup with HIM and He with you. Let us ask the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and before we realize it we will find ourselves digging deep in the storehouse of God's treasures of wisdom and knowledge and sitting with Him at His banqueting table. He will spread a table before us in the presence of our enemies, He will flowing FROM WITHIN; He will cause us to rest beside cool, still streams; and HE, the Great Shepherd of the sheep will abide with us and our cup will overflow with the unspeakable riches of His grace and the wonder of His glorious and eternal reality.

A dear brother has so aptly written in an article received just a few days ago: "Ephesians 5:8, Williams translation, 'For at one time you were darkness itself, but now IN UNION with the Lord you are light itself. You must live like children of light.' The word of emphasis right now surely must be upon the word 'UNION', for it is only by virtue of our union with Him that He in us this light so vitally needed. And it seems that all the negative forces in the world today are arrayed against this union, so that we would turn away from Him for the allure of the world. But while they promise light and freedom, 'of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage' (II Pet. 2:19). So subtle are the devious ways of the enemy, that if you cannot be enticed into outright sin and forsaking of the way of truth, then the adversary would cause you to become so religious, working a spiritual pride, or a false humility, or perhaps the allure of one to be your shepherd, or covering, or spiritual mentor, just anything to keep you from that vital, personal UNION with Christ as your HEAD, so that in ONENESS with Him you are lead by His Spirit. If ever we LIVE like children of the light, it will be because of our UNION WITH HIM IS LIGHT."

I feel to share further from another precious brother to whom the Lord has given great wisdom in this hour: "God is always faithful to send forth true leaders to bring His people into new ways in God, when the time comes for His people to enter in. And God is faithfully doing this today. That is why it is so important that the ministry, as well as the people, 'hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches...' lest the ministry on the one hand assume a place of carnal authority and leadership that has no relation to what God is doing today...and lest the people on the other hand submit to such authority under the false notion that it is the highway to the Kingdom of God. The ministry has amply fulfilled its purpose on earth if it succeeds in declaring Him, speaking about Him, and leading others INTO DIRECT UNION WITH HIM. And having fulfilled this divine objective they should be willing to just 'fade away', as it were (as Moses and Elijah faded away on the Mount of Transfiguration)...that the people of God might "HEAR HIM..." and see "JESUS ONLY". Moses and Elijah have an important part to play...and the ministry that is sent forth from the throne as God's gift to the Church has an important role to fulfill. But they are important for one purpose only, and that is ...TO BRING MEN INTO CLOSER UNION WITH CHRIST, WHERE THEY CAN HEAR HIS VOICE, AND SEE HIS FACE, AND HAVE PERSONAL AND INTIMATE COMMUNION WITH HIM WHO IS THE HEAD. As the government of Christ increase in the hearts of His people, then the ministers of Christ must decrease. As the heart of a true Son begins to mature and develop, then the servant (for God's true ministers are "servants") must be quick and anxious to loosen the ties of allegiance that somehow may have come into being as he sought to lead God's Sons into maturity; and encourage them to walk ALONE WITH GOD. (Alone, I say, because no matter how many thousands there are who are walking with you and with God...your walk with God is intended to be very individual and unique). Ministry in the Holy Place must give way to SONSHIP in the HOLIEST OF ALL, as Faith gives way to Hope, as Hope gives way to Love, as the Blade gives way to the Ear...as the Ear gives way to the Full Corn in the Ear...as bondage in Egypt gives way to a walk of discipline in the Wilderness...as the Wilderness gives way to Fruitfulness in the Land of Canaan. In other words, the ministry has fulfilled its purpose if it has been successful in bringing the people of God into direct, intimate communion with the Lord!

"The purpose of all ministry that proceeds from the exalted Christ is to so minister the Truth that the sheep of God's pasture might come into direct, unhindered personal union with the Lord. They make disciples FOR CHRIST, BUT NONE FOR THEMSELVES. In still another analogy, God's ministers are gardeners: those who plant the seed, or those who water the growing plant, or those who reap the harvest. They must not meddle with the seed, or with the growing plant. GOD is the REAL HUSBANDMAN, and He it is that giveth 'the increase." 'So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; BUT GOD THAT GIVETH THE INCREASE' (I Cor. 3:7)."

Ah, yes, we do need a "covering"! The Spirit has revealed this over and over again in numerous ways, through types, and shadows, and forms, and inspired utterances through all His holy prophets since the day that Adam and Eve were clothed in Eden's lovely Garden. One cannot help but notice with what emphasis the Lord declares that HE ALONE is the true covering and the true coverer: "And I have put My words in thy mouth, and I HAVE COVERED THEE IN THE SHADOW OF MINE HAND, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art My people" (Isa. 51:16). "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord...for HE HATH CLOTHED ME WITH THE GARMENTS OF SALVATION, HE HATH COVERED ME WITH THE ROBE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS" (Isa. 61:10). "HE SHALL COVER THEE WITH HIS FEATHERS, and under His wings shalt thou trust: His truth shall be thy shield and buckler" (Ps. 91:4). When our Lord Jesus Christ came forth from the heart of God He stood in the temple and wept over Jerusalem as He reproached the people with these sorrowful words: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killeth the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathered her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" (Mat. 23:37).

God does use His people and His ministers to teach, and to minister one to another. We are always to esteem another better than ourselves. As we walk in the Spirit of Christ we will submit ourselves ONE TO ANOTHER, in honor preferring one another. The wife is to honor and respect her husband and the husband to love and cherish his wife. In the area of ministry, we are to know those who labor among us. We praise God for every ministry HE sets in the midst of the body of Christ, They are examples to the flock, and a source of encouragement, confirmation, and strength to all unto whom they are sent, we support and esteem them highly, and take heed when they admonish us in the Lord, but they are not, and never in a million years can they ever become our "covering". Oh, child of God, I pray that the truth of these things will grip our heart! Let every saint of God RECOGNIZE THE LORD A-L-O-N-E AS THEIR COVERING!

Why, oh why, is it not possible for the Lord's people to see that any "covering" except THE LIFE OF THE LAMB is naught but withering fig-leaves which in due time fall away and fail to cover sufficiently, leaving the flesh exposed. To say that we need MEN, or ELDERS, or ANYONE AT ALL other than the Lord Jesus Christ to "cover" us will surely bring spiritual stagnation, or worse, spiritual death. Nothing will avail but the ANOINTING OF LIFE which comes alone from the Holy Spirit as we seek the Lord with all our hearts. The authority of men over men and over women is still being fought for very, very fiercely. Men simply will not let go of wanting to RULE OVER SOMEONE, for it is built right into the fleshly nature of the SELF. Yes, we need a covering, but it is not a group of men, however spiritual or well-intentioned they may be. After nearly thirty years of ministry among Spirit-filled saints I testify to you that never, in all these years, have I witnessed a quickening flow of HIS LIFE, never have I beheld Sons coming to glory in any group where MEN OR ELDERS RULE OVER GOD'S PEOPLE OR BECOME A COVERING FOR THEM. They only horrible bondage and spiritual stagnation to themselves.

Invariably, in the history of God's dealings, the Lord's people have grown weary in pursuing the fullness of God for themselves, and as the vision grows dim before their drowsy eyes they become impatient in spirit and are willing to turn their walk with God into the hands of others whom they deem more capable than themselves to watch for their souls. This is what happened in the early days of Israel, after they had become settled in the land of their inheritance. God had been their Lord and King from the time He called them out of bondage, and drew them apart into a special relationship with Himself. But now in the time of Samuel they began to grow weary with it all, and desired a king, like the nations about them. How this grieved the heart of God! All along, and right from the beginning, their very existence as a nation was by reason of the fact that God longed for an inheritance of His own in a people that were separate from other people, and very much UNLIKE the nations. He desired to lead them, protect them, feed them, teach them, rule over them, bringing them into union with Himself, to walk in His truth, in His ways, in His holiness, in His life, clothed upon with the indescribable majesty of Himself - ONE WITH HIM in all things. "Make us a king!" they demanded of Samuel, "someone to go out before us, and to fight our battles for us." Pursuing the vision of God, and seeking out His will for our lives has become burdensome to many people. "Give us a leader," they clamour, "someone who will tell us what we are supposed to do, someone who will preach to us, study for us, pray for us, prophesy to us, find the will of God for us, marry us, bury us..."

God will let them have it! If you want a covering other than Christ, God will let you have it. If you want men to rule over you, rather than learning to walk in a personal relationship with the Lord in the Spirit, you will get it! There are many around who would just love to RULE YOU! I can direct you to quite a number who would be delighted to become your COVERING! "Jonestown," with all its horrible extreme of the dominating authority of man, should be a warning example to all Christians who give blind obedience to their leaders or who are looking to man as their spiritual authority, instead of looking to the CHRIST WITHIN as the hope of glory. Any counsel or advice or supposed "Word of the Lord" through man MUST BE CONFIRMED TO OUR HEARTS BEFORE WE ACCEPT IT!

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage...for, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another" (Gal. 5:1,13). "These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth IN YOU, and ye need not that any man teach you; but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him" (I Jn. 2:26-27). Oh, yes! The enemy loves it if he can make us abide to hear from God for ourselves! Afraid to trust the CHRIST WITHIN! But, "My sheep HEAR MY VOICE (not the voice of hirelings) and I know them, and they follow ME. And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall ANY MAN pluck them out of MY HAND. My Father, which gave them Me, is GREATER THAN ALL; and NO MAN is able to pluck them OUT OF MY FATHER'S HAND" (Jn. 10:27-30). I rejoice with exceeding great joy and my shouts unending hallelujahs, for I have found THE COVERING OF LIFE! His name is Jesus Christ, Eden's beloved Lamb, and I tell you today that HE A-L-O-N-E IS MY COVERING. I shall never seek another.

THE GARMENTS OF EXPRESSION

When Christ becomes our covering, Christ as the embodiment of God is wrought into us that we may know and experience HIM as life and as our all-in-all. The Lord must open our eyes and quicken our understanding to know these things. We cannot merely find a "Church" pattern in the book of Acts, get a group of saints together, set up elders and deacons, call this the "Church," and imagine God will use this contrivance to bring us into the glorious hope of Sonship. First of all, this is not the Church; this is an imitation of the Church.

If we ask someone how he came into being and became such a tall, dark, and handsome fellow, he will tell us, "I was begotten by my father, born of my mother, I have eaten a lot of nourishing food, and I have grown up to such a height." We can manufacture a doll or a statue, but there is no way for us to manufacture a man. The Church is a REAL MAN, the BODY OF THE CHRIST; no one can make a Church! It must be something of new birth in the Spirit and growth of life in Christ. I find that I must say again and again: Brethren, keep hands off! We should not try to form or organize or structure anything. In so many places during the past many years I have pleaded in this way, yet not many saints realize what I mean. They say. "Well, if we do not form a Church, if we do not organize anything, what should we do?" We should do one thing: seek Christ, eat Christ, drink Christ, think Christ, speak Christ, sleep Christ, and live Christ! We must be swallowed up by Christ. We think we are only feeding on Him, and enjoying Him, but actually the more we feed on Him, and abide in Him, the more we are being swallowed up by Him! The life of a Son of God cannot be formulated and organized, but must be born of Christ in the Spirit, it must be the living body of Christ grown up with the life of Christ. Then, as a result, it will spontaneously assume a certain form...the form of THE SON OF GOD, and HE shall be seen! You do not organize the life of the Son of God anymore than you can organize the life of a pumpkin. The gardener knows that if he just plants it, waters it, and weeds the soil...somehow he discovers that the pumpkin will take on beautiful form and structure without him tampering with it in any way. Yes, the gardener has his part to play, but the whole process is governed by THE LAW OF LIFE IN THE SEED, and the pumpkin is formed from the nutrients it receives from where its roots dwell, not from the gardener.

For those apprehended to be the firstfruits unto God, being conformed to the image of Christ, no man can become their covering. If man is our covering, we will become the EXPRESSION OF MAN. Only Christ can be our covering, for every Son of God must be only the expression of Christ Himself. I would point out here that all clothing fulfills three objectives for the wearer. First, the clothing covers and hides the flesh; second, it protects from the elements of sun, wind, cold, etc; third, clothing is a person's expression. What you wear on the outside expresses your personality and inner state of being. Many people spend a great deal of money, and select with great care each item in their wardrobe, paying meticulous attention to such matters as color, style, fit etc., with the one object of projecting their person in the most favorable or flattering light. One can appear either wealthy, poor, dignified, intellectual, athletic, beautiful, discriminating, business-like, seductive, or unimposing merely by the choice of clothing they put on.

Ah, Christ is to be not only our covering and our protection, but also OUR EXPRESSION! This means that if we do not have Christ as our expression, if His attributes are not manifested out of our lives, we do not have His protection or His covering. In some places it seems that the Lord's people are not covered by Christ, but rather by some kind of doctrine, for the doctrine becomes their expression. In other places the covering is a manifestation of certain gifts or manifestations - the gifts have become the expression. In other places the covering is the ministry, and the leaders impart their own spirit to the people, themselves becoming the expression, as the younger ones take on even the physical mannerisms and talk, act, teach, sing, clap, and prophesy just like their mentors! Groups of believers are either under the covering of teachings, under the covering of gifts, or under the covering of ministers - not under the covering of Christ! But the teachings and gifts and ministries can never cover our flesh, or protect us, or produce the expression of CHRIST. No doctrines, no gifts, no men are adequate to cover a single believer! Only Christ must be exalted, only Christ must be EXPRESSED AS THE CLOTHING THAT ADORNS OUR LIVES! Little wonder the Scripture exhorts, "PUT YE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof" (Rom. 13:14). This is Christ as the expression of our lives.

This is a wonderful truth. It is not a matter of doctrines, organizations, New Testament Church structures, how the chairs are arranged, whether or not you have a pulpit, meetings, gifts, elderships, methods, works, techniques, rules, fellowships, or external observances, but it is CHRIST WROUGHT INTO MEN'S LIVES, and they now seek only Christ, exalt Christ, and put on Christ AS THEIR EXPRESSION. God's own precious Lamb "slain from the foundation of the world" wonderfully provides that which is of Himself, borne out of His life, as the covering for His "many brethren" - a Christ within who is full of divine comeliness, and a Christ without who bears the form, likeness, and image of the Father.

Christ becomes our expression as we enter into vital union with HIM. Through our union with Him we are able to put off the natural man and put on His attributes. The one who preaches and teaches, but does not partake of what he gives forth; who testifies to one thing and living another, has little or no influence when he attempts to share the reality of Christ. None judge our relationship with God by our knowledge of the Bible, or doctrines, or our profession and testimonies. The Christ-life must be working out in our lives, and manifested in our daily walk in the home and before those who see us the most.

When Jesus came to earth, it was that He might express the Father, that He might again show forth in its true light and beauty that glory which sin had so entirely hid from man. Man himself had been created in the image of God, that God might lay His glory upon him, to be shown forth in him - that God might be expressed in him. The Holy Ghost says, "Man is the image and glory of God" (I Cor. 11:7). Jesus came to restore man to his high destiny: He laid aside the glory which He had with the Father, and came in our weakness and humiliation, that He might teach us how to express the Father in the earth realm. And so it will be with all the holy Sons of God. If here on earth we have given ourselves to have God's glory take possession of us, and God's holiness and love to dwell and shine in us, then our human nature with all our faculties, created in the likeness of God, shall have poured into and transfused through it, in a way that passes all conception, the purity and holiness and the life, the very brightness of the glory of God.

"I shall be satisfied when I awake with THY LIKENESS," so the Psalmist sung of old. Nothing can satisfy the soul but God's image, because for that it was created. Blessed are they who here long for it with an insatiable hunger; they shall be filled. This, the very likeness of God, this will be the glory, streaming down on them from God Himself, streaming through their whole being, streaming out from them through the universe! "When Christ who is our life shall be manifested, we also shall be manifested with Him in glory" (Col. 3:4). Standing between two eternities, the eternal purpose in which we were predestined to be conformed to the image of the first-born Son, and the eternal realization of that purpose when we shall be like Him in His glory, we hear the voice from every side: Oh ye image bearers of God! on the way to share the glory of God and of Christ! put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ! and be ye clothed with ALL HE IS that HE may be the expression of your life!

In the light of such ineffable glory, can it not be clearly seen that the "covering" teaching so revered by the Charismatic movement today (and, I regret to say, by some "Sonship" group as well) is indeed "a bed shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it: and a COVERING NARROWER than that he can wrap himself in it" (Isa. 28:20), insufficient to cover those who trust in it or to carry them on into the fullness of God. It may be, dear child of God, that you do not like the things I write in this article, but I am constrained by the Spirit of God to state emphatically that I believe all such teachings to be heresy and a complete distortion of truth. It is a lie that "you must have a group or a ministry" as your covering! It is more than a lie, it is a monstrous blasphemy, men usurping the place that both the Scriptures and the Spirit of God have GIVEN ALONE TO CHRIST.

It is the will of God that we should look only to Him and know that ALL OUR COVERINGS ARE OF HIM. I do not mean that we should not love and appreciate our brethren, or that we should not receive from those whom the Lord sets to minister to us along our journey, but we must never fix our confidence or hope upon men lest we be ashamed. We must not pin our admiration upon men, who have been sustained, but upon God, who sustained them. Neither are we admire men who have gotten the victory, but God, who gave them the victory. We must never pay homage to men who have accomplished great works, but God, who wrought through them. There exists a great cloud of witnesses who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, closed the mouths of lions, quenched the power of raging fire, escaped the devourings of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed mighty and resistless in battle, routing alien hosts; women received their dead raised to life again, others suffered the trial of mocking and scourging, and even chains of imprisonment; they were stoned, were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they went about wrapped in the skins of sheep and goats, utterly destitute, oppressed, cruelly treated, men of whom the world was not worthy. But for all the glory of their mighty works and wonderful victory we are instructed to build neither upon their personal faith nor upon themselves. All the teaching of Scripture instructs us to SEEK AFTER THE GOD WHO HELPED AND SUSTAINED THEM and who is faithful to all who put their trust in HIM. Who among us can refrain from rejoicing that some have done mighty things and have gained the victory? But they would not have gained it had they been left to their own resources! Every man's sufficiency IS OF THE LORD. It is HE who is our strength, our covering, our glory, our protection, and our exceeding great reward. Let us not thereof rejoice in any MAN who has found favor with God, but in God, WHO HAS FAVORED HIM.

THE GARMENTS OF PROTECTION

Once the impending trouble and judgement breaks in terrifying fury upon the nations, those held captive by men, those whose trust is in men who rule over them, those who are content to have their lives ordered by others, failing to enter into vital union with the Lord for themselves; those who are comfortable in their established patterns of Church life and ritual, and those who fill the pews of the beautiful buildings of the so-called Churches - these will be the first to fall before the overflowing scourage. Only those who do not bear any outward show but have the heavenly beauty and divine power of Christ upon them will endure to the end and come through the valley safely, to the amazement not only of the ungodly, but the religious as well. Clothed upon with the Spirit and Power of Christ they shall be untouched by the evil around them.

God's word is sure, His promise is clear, and we shall take courage and believe what He has spoken. Yes, HE is our covering, our expression, AND OUR PROTECTION. "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust. Surely He shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust: His truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked...BECAUSE THOU HAST MADE THE LORD, WHICH IS MY REFUGE, EVEN THE MOST HIGH, THY HABITATION" (Ps. 91:1-9). Nothing can damage or overcome the Sons of the Most High covered with such a Christ!

The Spirit bids me share a vision given to a brother on the East Coast of the United States. He relates the following experience:

"After spending a period of time in prayer in the Spirit, before daylight, I dropped off to sleep between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m. While sleeping, I was given a dream which contained a vision. I shall relate this, with the interpretation which God spoke to me after the dream. It was a time of rest and peace in the home. The sun shone brightly and happiness prevailed. Sitting in the room, looking outside at the glory of God's nature, I suddenly saw a gross, dark cloud appear on the horizon. This was not just a normal dark cloud; its very "blackness" filled me with a terrible apprehension as I looked upon it. Then to my amazement, it had no sooner appeared on the horizon, than it literally filled the sky in all directions. The rapidity with which it moved caused me great alarm, for with its coming, came a sound of a deafening noise that continued as it passed over the earth. The noise was like a thundering, gutteral, whistling roar, louder than any fleet of bombers I ever heard while in the Air Force.

"As the cloud came toward me, approaching with the speed of a tornado, I became aware of something other the increasing roar of noise as it approached. As it rapidly spread over the land, I saw tiny lights, like dancing candle flames appearing to be folded into the cloud as it sped along. The lights seemed more numerous than the darkness could contain, but the cloud was not lightened by these millions of little lights it carried with it.

"I ran out to watch its progress, for I was drawn to it by a terrible fascination. As the darkness swept past me, suddenly shimmering waves of "Light" came before me, seeming to separate me from the cloud - then it cleared and I could see clearly. Instantly came the conscious thought: 'This is a vision from the Lord: I must watch closely!' As the shimmering waves of "Light" cleared, I saw the blackness sweeping past with jet-pane velocity, yet I was neither afraid of its noise or appearance. Suddenly, the lights changed and took form. They became numbers and letters of the alphabet. They did not count or spell anything, but literally millions of them streamed by in the cloud so rapidly that I could only distinguish what they were.

"Then the sounds of explosions, rending of metal, whining of engines out of control ended in a great cloud of white-looking smoke that billowed into the air. I saw one very fat-bodied plane falling crazily to the earth, and when the smoke cleared away, the earth was littered with crumpled aircraft and debris of all sorts. I looked on in agony, sickened by the destruction, yet in a way, I was strangely unmoved. Then I noticed the insignia on the planes was that of our beloved nation!

"Again the shimmering waves of light cut off the sight of the destruction, and I woke with a start. As I pondered these things greatly, the Word of the Lord came to me saying, 'My child, the dark cloud you beheld is the wrath of God in judgement. The lights, as numbers and letters it bore along with its passing, are peoples of innumerable number, and many languages which it shall sweep before it, and carry to destruction. The speed with which it came and went upon a day of sunlight and rest is to show you how unexpected and rapid this judgement shall be. The shimmering Light which came between you and the cloud of darkness is THE GLORY OF MY PRESENCE! The lack of fear you had for yourself is to show you the condition of those WHO HAVE DWELT IN THE SECRET PLACE OF THE MOST HIGH! The planes you saw are those of America, that you might know to warn My people: JUDGEMENT SHALL ALSO FALL HERE!

"'My son, think no longer upon these things, but arise, and write that you forget not! Satan would remove these things from you with doubtful disputations. Rise and write! For you must warn My people that those filled with the confidence of the flesh, and assurance of well-being shall suffer in the flesh, even as they have not sought to mortify the deeds of the flesh with the power of My Spirit! Verily I say unto you, no flesh shall glory in My sight! Thus saith the Lord: The evil day shall come upon many unawares, BUT THE OBEDIENT CHILDREN OF THE MOST HIGH SHALL ABIDE UNDER THE SHADOW OF THE ALMIGHTY."

It would be presumptious to add anything to this vision, or seek to explain the wrath it foretells, so soon to be accomplished upon the world and our own beloved land. Nationally we have forsaken the God in whose hand is our breath to live instead after the baseness of the god of this age. In these troublous times let us lay aside every weight and the sin that doth so easily beset us, and let us meditate deeply upon these significant and portentious words of the vision: MY CHILD, THE LACK OF FEAR YOU HAD FOR YOURSELF IS TO SHOW YOU THE CONDITION OF THOSE WHO HAVE DWELT IN THE SECRET PLACE OF THE MOST HIGH...THE OBEDIENT CHILDREN OF THE MOST HIGH SHALL ABIDE UNDER THE SHADOW OF THE ALMIGHTY.

There has been a cleft made in the Rock, there is a secret place in the bosom of our Saviour, for there was a rent made in His side making possible the engrafting of us all. The Spirit would reveal in the depths of our consciousness at what untold cost this place was provided for us in the cleft of the Rock of ages. What suffering and ignominy were His, as through the veil, that is to say His flesh, He opened to us a new and living way into the Holiest of all; into those eternal abiding places in the cleft of the Rock. When He cried: "It is finished!" was the Rock rent; then were those hiding-places opened up, in which we are invited to hide away from the enemy. People who see us do not know that we are hiding away in the cleft of the Rock. They only see a heavenly, supernatural calm, which abides through every storm of life; but God knows we are hiding away in the Rock. As we abide in Christ, in union with Him, truly ONE WITH HIM, we are as much hidden away as God can hide us. Those about us see our bodies walking around on earth; but they do not know that we, who live in these frail tents, are so hidden away that no man or devil can find or touch us!

If we take this place and there abide, at every step we shall prove that Jehovah is a wall of fire around us that He is the glory within. It is here that the Sons of God find security from every foe and every storm. Though the storms are fierce, they cannot dismay those Sons who abide IN HIM. Though the wind blows and the hurricane sweeps down upon their hiding place, they cannot come near them. In this secret place they do not fear though a host encamps against them, their hearts are confident. Though the earth do change, no fear comes nigh them. The mountains may be shaken into the depths of the seas, "howbeit the firm foundation of God standeth, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are His!" Though the waters of the sea roar and are troubled, their hearts are fixed, trusting in God; though the mountains tremble with the swelling thereof, they have set the Lord always before them, because He is at their right hand, they shall not be moved. Oh precious cleft, Oh wondrous secret place! which can only be found when new vision is given by the Holy Spirit! Oh blessed hiding-place where no one but God is with us, and no eye but His beholds us if we perfectly abide there! What strength and power, what refreshing and holy swiftness are to those who ever abide in the cleft of the Rock which our elder Brother has opened up for us through the veil!

"He shall cover us with His feathers." This word "feathers" in the Hebrew is "ebrah" and means - a wing, from its strength. He shall give us the covering of HIS STRENGTH, and under His wings we will trust. Now here we have a different word for "wings" in the Hebrew, it is "kanaph" meaning - a wing, as covering and protecting. Hidden in the Most High, in the secret place, we have both STRENGTH and complete PROTECTION. Glory!

Desperate days are upon the world and, by the time this Study is read, there will be ever increasing sorrow. There is only one place of true safety. It is not among the blinding traditions of Babylon, waiting for a rapture to whisk us away to a celestial Disneyland in the sky. Neither is it under the so-called protective "covering" of men, elderships, shepherds or fellowships. It is not in a bomb shelter, nor is it in the dens and caves of the earth. It is not in some wilderness retreat, nor is it in some fancied "safe area" blessed with advantageous air-currents and kissed by favorable winds. It is in the SECRET PLACE of the Most High. It is where saints abide under the shadow of the Almighty. There in that holy habitation, covered with that divine garment, you can abide safely. Learn to dwell in the secret place. Find time to wait on the Lord. Place the Word of God before you as you wait before Him. Let Him speak to your heart and spirit, let him unfold His mysteries to you. Abide there until you sense His overshadowing power and know the blessing of His abiding confidence within yourself. Should the glory we anticipate tarry longer, the darkness around us will greatly increase as evil men and seducers, already thick about us, increase more and more. "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ!"

J. PRESTON EBY

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    El Paso TX 79937-1240

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