"ARISE" is a journal to be published on a quarterly basis. Its aim is to serve as a vehicle for the expression of the Body Of Christ as it relates to present truth. The articles provided are mostly from those of us fellowshipping in the Tampa, Florida area. "ARISE" also publishes pertinent articles of similar concern from those abroad consistent with our general purpose and calling. So now receive the word with all readiness of mind and examine the scriptures every day to see if it is really as we say.
This fifteenth issue of "ARISE" features:
I. "Dressing The Garden" is a very good article provided by friend
and well-respected teacher, Brother J. Preston Eby. He and wife Lorain have
been ministering to the body of Christ for many
years. They live in El Paso, TX.
II. "The Way of Cain" comes from a good friend and able minister,
Brother Art Groesbeck. He and wife Becky serve as excellent examples to those
who come into contact with them. They reside
in Syracuse, NY.
III. "Follow, Lead And Stand" comes from a close friend and good
teacher, Romeo Corsini. He and his
wife Christine live in Brandon (Tampa), FL. They have three beautiful little girls.
IV. "A Man Named Job" is provided by the author of the ARISE publication. He with wife Melissa and baby girl Nicole live in Valrico (Tampa), FL.
V. "From Creation To The Consummation" is made available from our
dear friend, Brother Jack Jacobsen. This is the third of sixteen chapters collected
from his dissertation for a doctorate of philosophy degree. Jack and his wife
Marjorie has taken residence in New Port Richey, FL. They
are originally from Minneapolis, MN.
VI. "I Hear The Tune" is an inspired poem provided by Sister Lori Renee Inge. She and husband Michael Ray minister "present truth" to many across the country. They reside in Cape Coral, FL.
Once again, we are pleased to bring you the "goods news" of Jesus Christ, our Lord. We trust the articles herein will "stir your inner man" as we learn to draw our life from deep within, where Christ is fully enthroned in the inner chamber of our hearts. In turn, we share and minister to others out of His life as it flows like a mighty river!
We continue to grow and learn the beautiful path of sonship. This is learned through the relationships God has sovereignly given us, whether it be friends, family, work peers or such. God is soever faithful! On a personal note, we also rejoice as we watch our beautiful little three month old girl grow and change before our very eyes. How wonderful is His creation!
In His Service
Timothy D. and Melissa Carroll (**Please note new address on front page)
"A R I S E" is free to all as God's way is "Freely you have received, freely give". We trust God to lay it upon the hearts of those He chooses to provide the means for printing and sending out this journal. Please write if you are interested in receiving the journal on a regular basis. Additional copies available upon request. Notification of change of address is appreciated.
Fellowship meetings currently held every first and third Saturday evening in
Contact numbers list: (813) 653-3711; (813) 653-1604; (813) 651-0334.
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 TO KEEP IT" (Gen. 2:7-8, 15).
The book of Genesis begins with man in the blessedness of the garden of Eden, and ends with man "in a coffin in Egypt" (Gen. 50:26). The Bible, however, opens with man in Eden's fair garden and ends with man, the temple and habitation of God, in that blest Paradise, the new heaven and the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness. Before our eyes can see the glory of God, they must become blind to the world of illusion. Before our ears can hear the voice of God, they must become deaf to every earthly voice that clamors for our attention. Before our minds can embrace the depth of eternal wisdom we shall have to strip ourselves of the shallowness of human wisdom and all the limited surface understanding and darkness of the carnal mind.
When we come to the garden of Eden it is evident that this is more than merely a piece of real estate somewhere over in Mesopotamia. No such place has ever been found, nor the angel with the flaming sword to keep men out. The garden of God is not a physical place located on this or any other planet. It is a STATE OF BEING. It is a higher existence for man than this cursed state we find ourselves in from birth. It is the state of being that man was in when he was first brought forth from the hand of God and placed here upon earth. It represents man in the presence of God, man walking in fellowship with God, man living above sin, sickness, fear and death, man as Master over all things! Blessed realities, one and all. The garden, however, also represents man together with all the factors and conditions, both external and internal, of environment and nature, which were to ultimately lead to his ruin and alienation from God. On the one hand, man WAS the garden, while on the other hand, man was IN the garden. The Bible reveals it as "a garden within a garden." It is a world within a world, a universe within a universe. It is man himself in both a state of being and an environment -- the two corresponding.
This great truth of man's state of being constituting the garden of God is one of the tremendous themes which courses its way like a mighty river through the scriptures, from Genesis to Revelation. Consider now how great are the words of the prophet: "For the Lord shall comfort Zion: He will comfort all her waste places; and He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody" (Isa. 51:3). Of course you know that apples cannot sing, grapes cannot show forth gladness, nor can olive trees rejoice in the Lord! He is talking here about His people, a people that are being comforted while in a wilderness state as waste places, and eventually brought back to a life or state of being known as EDEN, the GARDEN OF THE LORD.
And again, "Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved, touching His vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: and He fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it..... and He looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem..... judge, I pray you, betwix me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done to it? And now go to; I will tell you what I will do with my vineyard..... I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briars and thorns..... for the vineyard of the Lord IS THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL, AND THE MEN OF JUDAH HIS PLEASANT PLANT" (Isa. 5:1-7). And yet the Lord in mercy comforts His people, declaring, "The Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be a WATERED GARDEN, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not" (Isa. 58:11).
When the Lord declares that HIS PEOPLE are His vineyard and His garden we should understand that His purposes are the same now as they were in the beginning when He placed man IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN TO DRESS IT AND TO KEEP IT. In the scriptures the garden of God always represents the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. The thought is not only of the Lord's great garden; but the life of every child of God is a garden within God's garden. In the beginning Adam failed to dress and keep the garden of his own soul, and what a pitiful thing it is to see that men through the long millenniums since that day have also wretchedly failed and the world has endured a long night of sorrow and pain. The Shulamite, in the Song of Solomon, at the outset of her relationship with her Beloved confessed her own neglect, saying, "They made me keeper of the vineyards; but my own vineyard have I not kept" (S. of S. 1:6). Though the Lord may let us tend a portion of His great vineyard, though He may let us minister to other souls in different ways, there is a part of the vineyard of the Lord which He actually gives to each one of us; and that is the vineyard of our own lives.
He would have us care for and guard our hearts above all that 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 cannot judge the condition within, by the exterior; for many times, the outward appearance is either better or worse than appears before the face of God. We must guard and protect the roots and hidden fibers of our being, our thoughts, our impulses, our desires. Adam was a son of God (Lk. 3:38) and was placed in the garden of Eden to dress and to keep it. Can we not see by this that all who would be sons of God must put away everything that is not of God that is hidden and unseen, as zealously as we put away the defects that appear on the outside, which humble us when they are seen by others?
My brethren, if we cannot tend the gardens of our own souls, we must not think that the Lord will entrust us with the oversight of greater gardens. How can a man rule over other men's souls, how can he rule angels, how can he rule the nations with a rod of iron, how can he rule the vastnesses of the universe, yea, how can he rule over ALL THINGS as God hath spoken (Rev. 21:7) - if he cannot rule his own spirit? "He that ruleth his spirit is better than he that taketh a city" (Prov. 16:32). There are literally thousands of men and women running about over the face of the earth doing what they call "the work of the Lord," but it is distressing to see that the vast majority of them were never called nor commissioned by the Lord of the vineyard in the first place. I am convinced that the first work in the Lord's vineyard, which He entrusts to us and calls upon us to do, is to care for our own lives and to first partake of the fruit.
Israel of old was ordained by God to be a kingdom of priests unto God and unto all the nations of the earth. But the men of Israel forgot the vineyard of their own souls and it became neglected, overgrown with thorns and thistles, with noxious weeds; the soil was rocky and unfertile. How easy is it to just lose ourselves in the flurry of activity commonly called "the Lord's work," and give our attention to everybody else, involving ourselves in their needs and problems, rather than facing up to OURSELVES. And while it is true, HIS LOVE AND LIFE flowing through us will give us compassion for others, with its various avenues for service, nevertheless there is a divine principle in the Kingdom of God -- a priority established that we must first tend to our own vineyard.
Paul Mueller has written: "The principle purpose which is uppermost in the mind of the Father at this time is the growth and coming to maturity of his chosen remnant. Every other purpose under heaven is secondary to this greater purpose during this exceptional time. Therefore, it is essential that all who are members of this Christ body, the sons of God should concentrate on their own spiritual maturity. Strive not to do the religious works of man, but seek rather for the fullness of Christ in your own heart and life. There is no other purpose under heaven that can equal this grand and holy purpose of the Father. Put away all the desires and appetites of the world and of the flesh, and seek only to please the Lord. And if you really care for the masses of the world who know not God and His wonderful grace and mercy, then you will seek for His fullness in your life. If you have really heard the groans of a creation that is suffering under the burden of sin and shame, you will cease all your religious activity, which is really only the works of the flesh and will follow hard after the Lord. Let us seek to please God as Enoch did, and we will witness a glorious manifestation of His life that will set every captive free. God in His great wisdom, has linked all of creation's needs and travails with the glorious transformation of the bodies of the sons of God into bodies like unto Christ's body. And it is quite possible that when this glorious transformation does occur, the stones, the trees, the shrubs, the grass of the field, as well as all animal life, will lift their voices in praise to Him who has fulfilled His word and satisfied the inherent hope within every great thing" -- end quote.
The story is told of a little boy who couldn't play outside because it was raining. His father, who was trying to take an afternoon nap on the sofa, became annoyed. "Go to the other room, son; Daddy wants to sleep. Find something in there to play with." "Like what?" "Anything," snapped the father. "There isn't anything," replied the lad. Grabbing the newspaper, the man tore out a page with a large map of the world printed on it. With the scissors, he cut it into dozens of odd-shaped pieces like a puzzle. "There, see if you can put it together, and don't bother me 'till you're done." The father settled down on the sofa thinking his problem was solved, but ten minutes later there was a tug on his shirt. "You can't be done yet!" But there on the floor was the neatly constructed world. "How did you do it?" he asked. "Easy," said his son. "a man's picture was on the back , and when I got the man together right, the world was right." Ah, yes -- when God gets HIS MAN put together in the fullness of Christ all the problems of the world will simply fall into place! Let us not expend our energies trying to get the world straightened out and ordered aright in this hour. Let us give ourselves to apprehending that for which Jesus Christ has apprehended us -- to grow up unto a PERFECT MAN, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of the Christ. Then the whole creation will fall into place. Let us not sell creation short!
I do not hesitate to say that over the past few years there has been an increasing emphasis by the Holy Spirit, as a trumpet thundering out the message, declaring the God is not concerned with where we are going (heaven, golden streets, mansions, etc.), but He is first interested in WHAT WE ARE BECOMING -- our state of being in him, before all our doing. Is this not because the ministry of the sons of God shall be a ministry of being rather than out of gifts. A "gift" will function out of the most unclean of vessels for there is no qualifying to receive a gift, it is given because of the goodness of the Giver, not the goodness of the recipient. The Corinthians served as the classic example of this, and we see abundant evidence of the fact all around us in the religious activity going on; but the holy sons of God shall BE LIKE HIM and shall rule and reign out of that INCORRUPTIBLE STATE OF BEING, ministering of that which they are instead of that which they have. Then, and then only, shall there be a reign so glorious and life-giving that every enemy shall be subjected and even death itself shall be swallowed up in victory throughout all of God's creation! This goes hard on all those involved in man's program, and I suppose all the arguments and persuasions of the world will not awaken Christians to the fact that the vast majority of the activities of the church system today is but the works of men, but I can assure you that when men stop long enough to quiet themselves before the Lord, He inevitably turns their attention from "works" to becoming what He wants us to be.
The blessed age to come shall be governed by those saints who have become OVERCOMERS, who have arrived at maturity of sonship, who have been filled with all the fullness of God. Not those who tend the Father's vineyard negligently, shall be in this company; not those who pamper their flesh and let it overrun their lives, shall be in this company; not those who examine their vineyards only now and then shall appear on Zion's holy hill; it is those who dwell in their gardens and tend them day and night, those who ever keep them before their eyes, that shall be well-pleasing to the Owner of the vineyard and shall be given dominion over all things. You can count on it!
One of the beautiful operations of the Spirit of truth is the way in which the words of scripture contain so many facets of meaning and application, each sparkling as a brilliant display of spiritual reality as a many-faceted diamond reflects the divers colors in light. One glittering gem of truth concerning the garden of God is found in these words: "And THE LORD GOD PLANTED A GARDEN eastward in Eden" (Gen. 2:8). It becomes very clear in this verse that GOD DOES THE PLANTING in His garden. Our Lord Jesus Christ spoke the same truth when He said in the parable of the Sower, "The good seed are the sons of the Kingdom....He that SOWED the good seed IS THE SON OF MAN" (Mat. 13:37-38). To which the prophet adds his inspired testimony: "...to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, THE PLANTING OF THE LORD, that He might be glorified" (Isa. 61:3).
Popular religion teaches that a man becomes a child of God "because" he believes, but there has been a childish lack of understanding on this point. A man does, indeed, begin to be a partaker of Christ when he believes but not because -- for the FIRST CAUSE IS ALWAYS GOD, our believing serves as a point of contact, the incorruptible seed of the Christ-life is planted in our earth when we believe, but the Cause is God, HE initiates the whole process and does the plowing of the field and the planting of the seed, blessed be His wonderful name! Have you considered how great is the truth Jesus uttered when He said, "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him" (Jn. 6:44). First of all we must recognize that our being planted in His garden is totally of the Father; He has chosen and called us, the transformation of our lives from earthly to heavenly is the result of His operation, He is working in us, and we rejoice in it! Notice also how the Word declares that "we are HIS workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works" (Eph. 2:20). Since it is true, as Jesus said, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should bring forth fruit" (Jn. 15:16), we ought not to be surprised at any of the processings He brings our way, but learn to see the hand of God in all these things, knowing that in due time they shall work into good, and redound unto the praise of His glory. More and more we are becoming aware of the fact that it is GOD that places each of us in our own particular set of circumstances and life situations. How we love to blame the devil! But right where we are is where He can best deal with each of us individually, enabling us to truly become overcomers.
One day while traveling along the road to Damascus, the mighty hand of God was laid upon a son of Israel, son of Tarsus, and after his conversion he wrote: "But it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by His grace, to reveal His son in me" (Gal 1:16). Paul's conversion is a most remarkable demonstration of the sovereignty of God who "worketh all things after the counsel of His own will" (Eph 1:11). It is quite evident that Saul of Tarsus was not on his way to a revival meeting when the Lord struck him down on the road. Saul made no premeditated "decision for Christ" before his conversion. PAUL'S WILL was set on the destruction of the church. But the WILL OF GOD was that the enemy of the church should become an apostle of Jesus Christ. Guess which will won! No mention is made of Saul's "profession of faith". We are merely informed that he received his sight, was filled with the Holy Spirit, arose, and was baptized. So Saul, the chosen vessel, bore the name of Jesus unto the Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel (Acts 9:15). Paul had total faith in Jesus Christ and was motivated by the love of Christ, yet he never considered himself a "volunteer' for the Kingdom of God. He did not volunteer! He described himself as a "conscript," saying, "Not that I...am already perfect, but I press on to lay hold of and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus has LAID HOLD UPON ME and MADE ME HIS OWN" (Phil 3:12, Amplified Bible). Paul also explains to the saints at Corinth: "For I take no special pride in the fact that I preach the gospel. I feel compelled to do so; I should be utterly miserable if I failed to preach it. If I do this work because I choose to do so then I am entitled to a reward. BUT IF IT IS NO CHOICE OF MINE, but a sacred responsibility put upon me, WHAT CAN I EXPECT IN THE WAY OF A REWARD?" (1 Cor. 9:16-18, Phillips). It is crystal clear that Paul never volunteered his services of his own free will, so he explains that he is not entitled to any reward for his ministry. He had no more choice than does a slave, and he uses the Greek word for slave when he refers to himself as the servant of Jesus Christ. It was a sacred trust placed upon him by his LORD, Jesus Christ.
Let it be known in this day of Babylon's religious systems and hirelings -- GOD DOES NOT USE VOLUNTEERS in the sacred work of His Kingdom. If you volunteered for your position, my friend, you are a hireling. Kings and priests after the order of Melchizedek is not something one takes up as a vocation, a way to earn an easy living, gather a following, or to make a name for oneself. In God's work you are never "voted in" or "voted out" by the people. The people neither hire nor control you in God's Kingdom work, neither do you set a price upon your ministry, nor upon the word of God in whatever form it is communicated, nor do you work by contract.... all such hirelings are servants of Babylon, not servants of God, and will fall with the system, receiving of her plagues, suffering loss and ruin, as all of their multiplied works go up in the swirling smoke of her judgments.
GOD CHOOSES WHOM HE WILLS. It is just like the advice I heard an old preacher give to young people about marriage when I was a young boy. Said he, "Stay unmarried as long as you can; but when you fall so deeply in love with someone until you are utterly miserable and can't stand to be apart from them for another moment -- then get married!" Ah, beloved, God chooses whom He will, and SO LAYS THE CALL ON YOU THAT YOU ARE MISERABLE UNTIL YOU GIVE OBEDIENCE. It is a commission from God, not a calling self-assumed. They who take it upon themselves, verily, they have their reward -- the clerical reputation, the esteem of men, the salaries, the pride they take in their vocation, the public homage of being called "Pastor," "Reverend," "Father," "Teacher," "Professor," and the like. These are the rewards for volunteers. It becomes an earthly call, and it gains an earthly reward.
Beloved, have you ever wondered how it is that out of earth's teeming billions you have come into a living relationship with Christ, to know Him as you know Him? Have you wondered why it is that out of your own kindred, perhaps, you are the only one (or of a few) that has received the blessed call to sonship? Is it because you are more open by nature, more inquisitive, smarter, more perceptive, or more worthy than others? Not at all! Here's why: "It was of HIS OWN WILL that He gave us birth as sons by His word of truth, so that we should be a kind firstfruits of His creatures -- a sample of what He created to be consecrated to Himself" (James 1:18). Glory!
Oh my soul! Yield yourself to the mighty influence of this word that echoes from Eden; "And the LORD GOD PLANTED A GARDEN eastward in Eden." Take time to meditate and worship, until the light that comes from the throne of God has shone into you, and you have seen your deliverance out of the kingdom of darkness and your planting in the Kingdom of Heaven as indeed the work of the Almighty Father. And now, in this blessed knowledge, with deep gratitude and unrestrained praise and thanksgiving, take time, day after day, moment by moment, to let, in your whole life, with all it has of claims and duties, of needs and wishes, GOD BE EVERYTHING. It is certain -- He who has sovereignly chosen and called us, saved and redeemed us, led and taught us, changed and transformed us, shall, in His due time, gather all things and all men, throughout all the ages and the vastnesses of infinity, into oneness in Christ Jesus the Lord. God shall be known by all creatures everywhere as ALL IN ALL.
................ J. Preston Eby
The Way Of Cain
Cain and Abel were two opposing personality types. Cain being a type of the mighty man, the man of war in scripture. Abel being the one who walks in humility, meekness of heart and utter dependence. Their very names, as always in scripture, are descriptive of the nature. Cain meaning lance or spear with the idea of possession and Abel meaning transitoriness, empty, vanity and unsatisfactory. All we have learned in Adam would have us to think that Cain has the preferred nature. Certainly in today's thinking, and unfortunately even among God's people, this is the nature that would guarantee success. This is not so in God's economy though.
There is a basic principle, which comes to light in the New Testament and that is, if you humble yourself, you'll be exalted and if you exalt yourself you will be humbled. Cain is set forth in scripture as a marked man. Everyone who finds him shall slay him because he is a man of war, he lives by the sword so he must die by the sword. And this nature is resident in each of us. It must be found and slain by that which is sharper than any two edged sword, the Word of God. The two edge sword operates in the realm of the earth, the Word of God rules from heaven. Whereas Abel's nature, as well as his offering, witnessed to his inability, Cain's witnessed to the opposite. The offering of the lamb was Abel's testimony to his need while the offering of the fruit of the earth was a testimony to Cain's own strength through works. The one was pleasing to God and the other was not. One spoke of the only acceptable offering, the lamb which the angel told Abraham that God would supply. The other spoke of the earth of which Adam was formed, which after the fall, God cursed, for it was no longer able to bring forth an offering that was well pleasing to God. And so it is with us in this age, God is not pleased with our attempts to earn our way into his favor through our works-oriented efforts. They are not the result of faith that works by love.
It was said of Abraham, he believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness and he staggered not at the promise of God, but was strong in faith, giving glory unto God, he considered not his own body now dead. Abraham had faith, not in himself but in the God that promised. We are supposed to have the faith of Abraham which coincides with Abel's offering. One who by his very name says I'm empty and unsatisfactory and by his offering, prostrates himself before God in total humility as to say, I believe you Lord for my deliverance, I look to your provision and have no confidence in myself. We see this same dependency in Abraham's testimony, when he considered not his own body now dead, at a hundred years old. A body incapable of bringing forth life. He knew this was not to be a work of the flesh, rather a promise of God, a work of the spirit.
When will we learn to rest in God, when will we walk in confidence, not in
what we can accomplish, but rather in the finished work of God through Jesus
Christ, his accomplishment. For it is he who started a good work and is able
to complete it, "praise the wonderful Lord"!
The way of Cain is the way that opens the door to pride. It is the way of self-exaltation, it is an attempt at self glory. The Lord said to Cain, if thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted. The word for accepted is better translated exalted. The only way we can get exalted is set forth by Abel's example, through the accomplishment of the lamb of God who loved and gave himself for us and who now is our life.
The Lord was asked in the book of John, how do we do the works of God, the Lord replied, believe on him whom he sent. The way of Cain is to believe in your own good works and your ability to hold out to the end, what I have heard called, "bootstrap theology". This is that spirit of antichrist which the apostle John said was already in the earth in his time. Antichrist, better defined, in the place of Christ or the anointing. This kind of theology is easily accepted because it appeals to our tiller of the ground mentality. But, never forget, the Spirit and the flesh are contrary the one to the other so that you cannot do the things that you would.
The Lord has set it so that it is impossible to grow in God if the foundation is any other than Jesus Christ and him crucified. To start out in God thinking that it was a result of your decision rather than by the election grace of God, you start out greatly deceived and are destined to try to climb up some other way as a result of being raised on something other than the sincere milk of the word.
I believe that my salvation is the result of the finished work of God through Jesus Christ from the beginning to my experiential perfection. Spirit, soul and body, He is the author and the finisher the promised seed that was to come, and he has been planted in me and as a mustard seed, everything is in that seed to produce the faith and he is the corn of wheat that has fallen into the earth of this Adam and as a result the world will see Jesus. This was not the result of me, who was dead in trespasses and sins, being able to deliver myself out of that place even by a decision, or at least a decision which I came to on my own. I was not seeking him, I was the one that was lost. He sought me out and drew me to him, he created a hunger in me and a thirst and I drank of the river of life, and I tasted of him and saw that he was good. He led captivity captive. I was captive to sin and iniquity and he led me captive to righteousness in his name. Any doctrine that teaches that initial salvation is the result of a persons free will is a doctrine of deceit and springs out of ignorance and a carnal understanding of the word of God. Paul made it very clear, no other foundation can any man lay than that that is laid, which is Jesus Christ and we are to be careful how we build upon it.
One day the Lord moved upon the face of this earth nature of mine which was covered with darkness, and said let there be light, and there was light and that light will shine brighter and brighter onto the perfect day, praise the wonderful God. In that state of darkness, that state of being without form and void I was without form and void. I was without strength and ability. I was in opposition to myself. I was in need of a saviour, I was dead and I needed to be made alive. I needed to be born from above, and just as I had no part in nor say in the matter when I was born in Adam, neither did I when I was born again. Just as with Mary, it was a virgin birth, no man could have been involved, only the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. God will not share his glory with any man. The doctrine of "free-will" opens the door through the subtlety of the enemy and leads to self exaltation.
We must give God glory for all, even as Abel's offering testified in opposition to Cain's, and for this he had the testimony that he was righteous. Even our Lord, the pattern Son, testified He could of his own self do nothing. The way of Cain is the way of sin because any exaltation sought outside of God, then sin lies at the door and onto that one will be its desire. Too many people see salvation as an "outside in" thing when it's an "inside out" thing. Supposing that doing outward things causes inward growth, rather than, inward growth causing outward works.
I believe we are predestinated onto good works, but our earthly works do not get us there. The gospel ceases to be good news when it becomes a series of do's and don'ts. What we are doing is reestablishing that which Christ came to destroy..... I refer to when Paul stood Peter to the face, for the same reason. He told Peter we become ourselves transgressors and ministers of sin in doing so. The way of Cain is the way of the transgressor, it is a spirit that will always rise up and slay his brother, and why, because its own works are evil. We need to discern this spirit in the body of Christ today and not be deceived by it.
................ Art Groesbeck
Follow, Lead and Stand
"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth." (Isaiah 52:7) Feet, to us, the believers, are symbols of how great a work Jesus accomplished on our behalf, and of all that remains of our responsibility in that accomplishment.
Peter had just been convicted by Jesus about how necessary it was that Jesus wash Peter's feet; therefore Peter remarked: "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head,' (John 13:9), to the which "Jesus saith unto him, he that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit..." (John 13:10). Jesus stresses the significance of our feet to show that our responsibility to his accomplishment is to rest in it.
Throughout the scriptures, the washing of the feet has symbolized resting from long journeys or tiring work as well as the honorable compliment of a host to a visitor when he would tell his visitor, "Sit a spell, and wash your feet." This would be accompanied with provisions to do it, such as water and soap and fragrances. In those days all this was not so small an offer. Therefore, washing of the feet was a precise act of resting and feeling clean. Part of feeling clean includes that others see you clean. The feet would generally be exposed and to sit in the presence of others with exposed clean feet is very comfortable. To get up again and go about your business is to dirty your feet again. Thus Jesus tells us that, since our entire body is already clean, all we need do from now on is to "keep our feet clean." Yet it does not end there with ourselves but continues with each other.
"He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me." (John 13:4-8) We must remember that Jesus did whatever he did, not for himself, but for others. As representatives of Jesus, we are not here for ourselves so much as we are here for each other. Then what place does washing each other's feet have and what meaning? It was never meant to be a ritual. If it does not mean something in its message then it is a silly act. It is not an act; it is a sign. Amongst other things, I'm sure, this is one I clearly see. Just as Jesus tells us that all we need to do to keep clean is to keep our own feet clean, so are we responsible for each others' cleanliness. Everything we do is an influence one way or the other. You do have a part with me and I do have a part with you. "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me." (John 13:8). I do not walk this walk of salvation alone. Salvation is one; we all hold on to that same salvation.
I must learn the "talk" also. That is, the good news is brought to us by the feet of the servants of the Lord. We are servants of Jesus and we bear good news of salvation. We must admire each other's feet and recognize how worthy of washing they are! "That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another." (1 Cor 12:25)
Abigail's husband, Nabal, had just insulted David, and David saw fit to take the law into his own hands to murder Nabal and all Nabal's men. But Abigail had been informed of David's intention and took provisions and gifts to David with the purpose of convincing him that he should not act hastily and ruin his righteousness in the matter. David was grateful that Abigail brought him to his senses and promised he would not do any harm. One morning after Abigail had returned to her home and husband, she told Nabal what she had done. Nabal's reaction was to have a heart attack and die. When David heard that Abigail's husband had died, he sent his servants to ask her to be his wife, because she was beautiful and wise. Abigail's response to David's servants for such good news was that of a servant's servant. "And she arose, and bowed herself on her face to the earth, and said, Behold, let thine handmaid be a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my Lord." (1 Samuel 25:41) This is clearly what Jesus is showing us. This is how worthy the feet of those who bring good news are. They are worthy enough to be washed by those who receive the news. Jesus knew that the feet that he was washing were feet as worthy as his because they would continue having a part with him by carrying the good news to all the earth. Abigail was the bride-to-be of the chosen King of Israel and still she knew to bow as low as the feet of the ones who brought her the good news and to wash them with the waters of her grateful heart. Can we ask of ourselves: Are our feet worthy of being washed by another? You have but to wash your feet, Jesus said, or have them washed, because you are clean now. (John 13:10) To wash your feet means to have made them needful of washing.
The woman sinner brought to Jesus an alabaster box of ointment, weeping. After washing his feet with her tears, drying them with her long hair, and anointing them with oil from the box, Jesus told her, Thy sins are forgiven...Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace. (Luke 7:37-50) This good news that she heard was great enough for her to know that she wanted it enough to yearn for it, enough to be willing to demonstrate her gratefulness for it. Such hunger is rewarded by the Lord with fulfillment.
Feet tend to swell when one sits for too long a period. They can ache then. They grow callousses when walked on in rough terrain, with bad shoes, in harsh weather. But after the work, to sit and have them pampered is relaxation worthy of a dream! Because with the rest comes the confidence of knowing the good work that was done with them. How seldom do feet get recognition! Bad conditions of the feet extend their effect even to one's back. "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-29) But perhaps the greatest reason feet hold such important symbolism in our lives is because of what that symbolism means.
What are the three basic, most important things that feet do?
"And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all and followed him." (Luke 5:11) "And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me. And he left all, rose up, and followed him." (Luke 5:27-28) "The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Phillip, and saith unto him, Follow me." (John 1:43) THEY FOLLOW.
"And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men." (Luke 5:10) THEY LEAD.
..."Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." (Exodus 3:5) Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." (Ephesians 6:13) AND THEY STAND!
All three responsibilities that the feet hold are shared equally, one no less important then the other. We find ourselves at various moments in any one of those positions. Our responsibility is to acknowledge that given position and respond accordingly, ever ready to be of service to the Lord.
"I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine." (2 Timothy 4:1-2)
Ours is a glorious life filled with activity in the Lord: we follow the Lord; we lead the sheep; and we stand against the deceiver. We keep ourselves prepared by feeding ourselves spiritually with the truth that we might not follow a false prophet, lead others astray, or stand in vain. We follow Jesus by being Christlike as we walk our lives; we lead others by being prepared to share the word of salvation and the word of deliverance to anyone who needs them; and we stand by keeping our entire being conditioned to know the voice of God so that we can declare without reservation, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!" (Joshua 24:15)
A Man Named Job
"A MAN there hath been in the land of Uz - Job his name - and that man hath been perfect and upright - both fearing God, and turning aside from evil." (Job 1:1 YLT). The first word in this story is MAN. In fact, the main character of this book, whose name was Job, asked the Lord the following question, "What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest visit him every morning, and try him every moment?" (Job 7:17;18). No other book in the Bible starts out with the phrase "A MAN there hath been". Surely Isaiah was a man. Indeed Jeremiah was a man. Likewise, Noah, Ezekiel, Daniel, David and many others were men. How is it that their stories needed no such introduction of their manhood? Why did the anonymous author of this book choose to start with the emphasis - A MAN?
The book of Job is, without dispute, one of the most mystical stories of the entire Bible. Whether such a person named Job ever lived, I cannot say for sure. The degree of detail offered in the story would suggest to me that he may have, yet the severe trials and extreme experiences upon command of a sovereign God often begs the question. However, what I can say is that our text verse starts with the opening phrase "A MAN" in order to draw our attention to more than merely a single man. It is stated as such to provide us a vital spiritual lesson and representation of God's creation, namely mankind.
Job was his name. "Job" in the Hebrew means enemy. Another source says it can also mean "he cries". The book speaks of a righteous man who was "flawless and upright, fearing God and keeping away from evil". An interesting observation has even been made that Job's staying clear from evil would hint to his lack of experience and association with evil.
Job was not only a man of great virtue, he was also a man of great blessing and wealth. He had seven sons and three daughters. His wealth consisted of seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred oxen, five hundred she asses and many servants. Scripture states that "this man was the greatest of all the men of the east". In fact, in I Kings 4:30 we find that the "sons of the east" were considered wise men. Job also was a man that acknowledged God in all of his ways. He even made atonement for his children continually, not for their committed sins, but rather for wrong thoughts in their hearts toward God.
It is remarkable how the prologue's first scene compares with God's plan for His creation. The subject is one of humanity - A MAN. And without a doubt, man has been an enemy (Job) of God, or as scripture states, "....whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God" (Jas. 4.4). Likewise, man has been the "one that cries" out of his bondage and servitude to the corruption of his subjected condition, or "all the creation doth groan together, and doth travail in pain together till now." (Rom. 8:22 YLT). Clearly, this first scene runs a striking resemblance of humanity. We can also see a comparison in the story of how man was created innocent, not having first hand knowledge of the tree of good and evil until he was subjected to it, similar to Job lacking personal experience with evil until it had fallen upon him.
The author continues by moving us through a chilling conversation taking place in heaven, in the realm of spirit. It took place on a day unlike other days as scripture states, THERE WAS A DAY. This was not the "every one his day" when Job's sons feasted. This was not the "let the day perish" that Job later cursed. This was a day when the "sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them." The word 'satan' is the English transliteration of the Hebrew word for 'adversary'. Hence the story goes on that this adversary, who stationed himself among the sons of God while in the Almighty's presence, on two occasions was asked by the Lord, "Hast thou considered my servant Job.....". Rest assured, God would never draw Satan's attention to His servant unless Job had been first thoroughly prepared to bear what was about to befall him. Likewise, the same principle holds true for us today, "There is no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." (I Cor. 10:13).
On the first occasion, the adversary is allowed to touch the EXTERNAL realm of Job's life, the work of his hands, and all of his substance. The Lord put all that Job had possessed in the hand of the adversary. However, he was not granted permission to touch Job himself. As such, all of Job's blessings and wealth are lost. The oxen, asses and camels were taken away, the sheep were burned up, the servants slain, and his children all taken for dead. Indeed, a total stripping of every earthly possession this man had accumulated. Prior to this event, it is interesting to note that the adversary asked the Lord, "Doth Job fear God for nought?" The Hebrew word for 'nought' is chinnam and means: devoid of cost, reason or advantage, without a cause, for nothing, in vain, or innocent. It is associated with another word which means: kindness, favor, graciousness, or grace. In the old testament, grace brings the meaning to bend or to stoop in kindness to an inferior. Job later used this idea in the story as he sought his friends to stoop and find favor and kindness on him "Have pity on me, have pity on me O ye my friends; for the hand of God hath touched me" or "Grace, grace O ye my friends". Basically, Satan was saying, 'Does Job fear God only because of the blessings and favor he has gained?'. Actually, this was questioning Job's underlying motive.
How many times have we been guilty of blessing God simply because of His favor upon us? This is not to suggest that we ought to refuse blessings in the natural realm for scripture clearly states that we are to enjoy the good of all our labor which God gives us (ref. Ecc. 5:19). Some have erred in their understanding regarding any form of natural blessings and have become mere beggars while under the disguise of "true faith ministry". But the question still stands, If He were to put forth His hand and touch those external blessings, would we curse Him to His face?
Permit me to share a personal testimony which may prove beneficial to some of our readers. Answering the question just presented, I admit to my shame, I have. Several years ago in utter foolishness I had spoken out in anger directly to Him. Like so many, in my life I also have had a time or two where the testing was considered "too difficult to bear". On one occasion, nearly fifteen years ago, the event was one of stripping and perceived as a great loss at the time. In fact, it led to a very low place in my life. Prior to the event, as a professing "non-believer", I recall challenging God to prove Himself real to me and "take me on". He did. He proved Himself with love, mercy and saving grace. He "took me on" and translated me from the kingdom of darkness directly into the kingdom of His Son!
On another occasion some years later I encountered another "hard lesson". Once again, the event was perceived as too "difficult to bear", so it seemed at the time. My understanding of God was challenged. The event ripped deep into my soul, into places which before were unknown to me. What made it more difficult was my understanding of His sovereignty, which only reinforced that He had His hand in the mishappening from the very start. I was aware of His ACT but ignorant of His WAY. In my distress, I cursed Him, hoping He would either smite me dead or at least in return feel some of the hurt, rejection and pain I had been experiencing. At the time, I could not see any good to ever come of the event. Fortunately, my grief lasted but a very short period. Through the circumstance, I had learned some of the most wonderful and precious lessons ever in my life. One of those is that He is without doubt the "lily of the valley". I discovered Him as that LILY which can only be found in the valley, in the low place of the soul.
Both events were extremely difficult to bear at the time. Each resulted in a stripping. Yet, each served as a "springboard" into spiritual avenues of His grace and mercy that may have otherwise never been learned. Both events served as agents of God to thrust me into treasures of wisdom and knowledge which before were unknown to me. I now reverently thank Him for each and every happening.
Now back to our story. The author moves us to the next scene still stationed in the heavens. We read almost identically word for word as found in the prior scene. Satan is questioned of the Lord and responds once again of His roaming here and there and roving the earth. On this second occasion, the adversary is now granted rights to Job himself, but must spare his life. The loss of his acquisitions, servants and children was severe, but obviously there was more to come. Job had been stripped of most everything in the external realm, his wife the exception. Now the story moves in the direction of the man. Job is dealt with in a closer and more intimate way. No longer the external things around him. This time it takes a touching of the man himself. No longer an old testament lesson, this time a new testament principle having an INTERNAL agenda. Having been smote with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head, Job's wife said, "Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God and die." (Job 2:9). Yet Job's reaction is one to still admire as he makes the statement, "What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips." (Job 2:10).
Once again, the comparison to God's dealing with humanity is remarkable. As Job, man had fallen from an elevated state. Likewise, man who once walked with God in the "cool of the day" has experienced six thousand years of frustration and anxiety. Just look at the years in this last decade of the 20th century. In the middle of 1990, Iraq attacked Kuwait declaring it their 19th province. A United States (U.S.) led coalition expelled the Iraqi troops in early 1991. In 1992, we saw the beginning of the fierce fighting among Bosnia's Serbs, Muslims and Croats. Thousands had been killed. In 1993 the U.S. AFT (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) agents stormed the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas to search for illegal weapons and to arrest cult leader David Koresh. Four agents were killed and many wounded. As the FBI ordered tear gas to evacuate the cult, flames appeared killing over 70 cult members, including many children. And who can forget the awful Rwanda massacre in 1994 which killed nearly 500,000 Tutsis tribesman. In 1995 the terror of the nerve gas attack in Tokyo killed some while making ill several others. Less than one month later in Oklahoma City, the terrible bombing that killed nearly 170 people. Even in this year of 1996 the tribulation of man continues as faulty aircraft has taken the lives of hundreds; or the bombing taking yet another innocent life at the Olympic games held in Atlanta, U.S.A.
Of course there are other symbolic representations which could be gathered from Job. For example, is it any wonder that all of the animals were carried away except for the sheep. And who do the sheep represent in scripture? They are God's very elect. And it was the sheep, not the other animals, which were reserved for the burning of fire from God. Indeed, the baptism Jesus said we have need of!
So God allowed evil upon Job, BUT IT WAS NOT because of any misconduct or self-righteousness. Oh no, if you think Job had some fault or hidden sin and was reaping what he had sown, you have been listening too long to religion and have not been reading the book yourself. God's own testimony was that Job was perfect and upright. Likewise, God inflicted evil on creation not because of a misconduct of their own, "For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope" (Rom. 8:20). And the reason he subjected Job to this realm of frustration was to bring him to a place of spiritual maturity, a realm that in no wise would have been accomplished any other way. Job knew God was in his stripping for his own words testify, "shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?". Likewise, as sons of God, we know God is sovereign all the way, "none can stay his hand or say unto him what doest thou?". Yet I admit, in our progressive advancement of Christian experience, I am no longer satisfied in simply tracing everything back to God and leaving it with no explanation or understanding. No longer content to have knowledge of merely an "ACT". As Job, we must come to understand the underlying reasons of His actions, to know His "WAY". As sons of God, we must come to an awareness that His movement has adequate cause. As Job, we must come to know not simply what He does but why He does it. As sons, we must come into closer fellowship with Him, into union with His will, not our will while thinking it to be His!
"Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place" (Job 2:11). When three of his friends heard of all the calamities that had come upon him, they all met together to comfort their friend. But when they arrived and saw Job from a distance, they could barely recognize him. They cried out, tore their clothes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. And none said a word to Job for a span of seven days and nights, for they saw that his grief was very great. The three friends gave place to silence, a place which probably should be practiced by all prior to judging many situations, "Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts" (I Cor. 4:5).
Job breaks the silence after the seven days are complete. This opens to a series of discussions with his friends over why the evil had overtaken him. His friends named Eliphaz and Bildad spoke on three occasions while Zophar spoke twice. After twenty-nine chapters of dialogue, twenty of which are the words of Job, the three men ceased to answer Job. Finally another named Elihu spoke (for six chapters), followed by the Lord Himself (for four chapters) and then the book is closed with words from Job. Let's take a brief look at these conversations.
It starts with Job opening his mouth and cursing his day. Job doesn't curse God explicitly, but he seems to come very close by cursing his own life and the day he was born. He also admits to one of his most deepest fears, "For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me" (Job 3:25). Later Job says, "For destruction from God was a terror to me" (Job 31:23). It was now time for Job's most severe and personal test and he feared the very prospect of that day....There was a day!
Eliphaz first answered him and paid Job tribute for his wise counsel to many, then immediately found fault that his advise should also apply to himself. He also seems to suggest that Job was reaping from what he had sown "they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same". Although the principle is true, Job's friend did not have an understanding in the underlying reason of God's action. God said of Job that he was upright and perfect. Eliphaz rehearses many good and true principles with Job. He states, "I have seen the foolish taking root: but suddenly I cursed his habitation", and "man brings trouble on himself as surely as the sparks fly up" (Moffatt translation), and "Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty: For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole". Yet Job's response to him is "Oh that my grief were thoroughly weighed, and my calamity laid in the balances together!" and, "To him that is afflicted pity should be shewed from his friend; but he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty" and, "How forcible are right words! but what doth your arguing reprove?".
Job continues to be stedfast in his understanding of seeing the hand of God in the whole matter. We read statements like, "For the arrows of the Almighty are within me", and "Even that it would please God to destroy me; that he would loose his hand". Job continues the dialogue with his friends with words as, "Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth..........and wearisome nights are appointed to me". As Job speaks, he becomes discouraged and can no longer restrain himself. He begins to speak out in the anguish and distress of his spirit, he begins to complain in the bitterness of his soul. He even states that his soul chooses strangling and death rather than life. Have you ever felt that way?
Then his friend Bildad joins the conversation and offers his assessment of the situation. His response is cold and hard. He offers Job no compassion, no mercy or grace regarding the loss of his children. Yet, Bildad's answer at times is also somewhat prophetic and truthful as he said, "Though thy beginning was small, yet thy latter end should greatly increase" and, "Behold, God will not cast away a perfect man...till he fill thy mouth with laughing, and thy lips with rejoicing".
Job responds with "I know it is so of a truth". Job rehearses the omnipotence of God and how the Almighty alone spread the heavens and treads upon the waves of the sea. He demonstrates his knowledge of God as His creator, forming and fashioning him as the clay. He maintains his understanding of a sovereign God, "Behold, he taketh away, who can hinder him? who will say unto him, What doest thou?". Yet, he confessed that God is unseen to him, he does not see God's intention in the entire matter. Job's situation up to this point is one of ignorance, he does not have an awareness of God's cause, why this sudden destruction is upon him, "For he breaketh me with a tempest, and multiplieth my wounds without cause". Job takes the liberty to voice his complaint, yet beyond the bitterness of his soul was a desire to know why this was happening, for what reason!.... "Shew me wherefore thou contendest with me". Job is full of confusion and his affliction has increased. His situation was too difficult to bear. He wished to die. Then Zophar's response was similar to that of Bildad. It is equally cold and his summation of Job was in error. Job continues to hold solid and pure doctrine. His understanding of God's power and strength are displayed. He understands that God would not confront him with His great power but rather strengthen him.
The conversation continued to take place with Job and his three friends in
like manner and style. Yet Job boldly rebukes them, "ye are forgers of
lies, ye are all physicians of no value", "miserable comforters are
ye all", and "I cannot find one wise man among you". Though full
of confusion, Job maintains his innocence before the Lord. Although he requests
the Lord to withdraw His hand from him, he also demonstrates his patience with
statements like, "Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee". From a
natural standpoint, Job's severe experiences seem almost cruel and unfair; yet
from a spiritual vantage, it is full of purpose and hope. In reading James,
we see that the sufferings Job had to endure were given with a particular "end"
or "accomplishment" in view. "Behold, we count them happy which
endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord;
that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy" (Jam. 5:11 KJV). Another
translation says, "Lo! we are counting those happy who endure. You hear
of the endurance of Job, and you perceived the consummation of the Lord, for
very compassionate and pitiful is the Lord" (Jam. 5:11 CV) This is how
we ought to see every happening in our lives, to have a specific accomplishment
As found in the story of Job, mankind has also been delivered to the ungodly, turned over into the hands of the wicked, or as found in the words of the inspired Paul, "the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience". Perhaps as Job, your foot has held His steps, you have kept His way and not declined, yet it has been God that has overthrown you, compassing you with His net. It has been God that has fenced your ways that you could not pass. Yes, as Job did, we also during our difficult times harbor the thought "thou are become cruel to me". And again, as Job, we often find that our brethren, those close to us, are perhaps far from us. Even our kinsfolk will fail us and familiar friends will forget us. This is not per chance. Often God will remove or turn others for your own sake. God will stop all voices around you to hear only from Him! Not your spouse as found with Job, but from Him! Not from Moses as depicted in the old testament, but from Him! Not from one of your fellow ministers, but from Him! Not from one of the pastors in your local assembly, BUT DIRECTLY FROM HIM! Hear the word of the Lord!!
So the three friends failed to convince Job of anything and ceased to speak. Likewise the words of Job ended. Perhaps a lesson here of how often we may learn so much from our experiences and uprightness in God that we find ourselves unable to hear from anyone else. This is a common characteristic of many, especially church leaders. Brethren, let us never forget the words of Paul, "And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know", and "not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think". We now come across a man that very little is known, his name is Elihu. He appears but once and disappears once his mission is accomplished. Elihu waited until the older ones had spoken, then spoke his mind upon the matter. Elihu was full of words, yet promised to speak without having partiality or using flattery words toward anyone, otherwise God would destroy him. He also affirms that the Spirit of God made him and gave him the breath of life. At one point, Elihu noted Job, though silent, reasoning and answering within himself. He sensed Job's spirit and commanded his attention. Elihu also encouraged Job on occasion to speak and at other times would have him silent, an inner silence, for Job never uttered a word in the story. In all, Elihu was sent to reduce Job and prepare him to listen. It was to prepare him to hear and see the Lord face to face.
The next four chapters would be the long awaited words that Job had sought, that of his Lord. As the Lord spoke, Job's first response is awe, he can barely speak. His reply was, "I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.....". After the Lord had finished speaking to Job, his man Job replied, "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee". As we have read, the story has a triumph ending. The Lord turned the captivity of Job, blessing his substance to double of what he had before and gave him seven sons and three daughters. He died being old and full of days.
Job's friends concluded that his suffering came from God who is just, therefore Job must be guilty. Job seems to conclude that suffering comes from God while he is innocent, therefore God is unjust. The story teaches that his suffering came from God who is just and Job was innocent. No 'therefore' is required. The Lord brought the life of Job to a place which not only gave blessing, but also brought him to a deeper and more definite understanding and appreciation of the Lord. There is a cry, often unexpressed, not only in the book of Job but in all creation, which reveals that the creature longs to communicate with the Creator. The story of Job is to bring man face to face with the Lord. To bring man to his nothingness and to see that God is all. To prepare man to hear directly from God.
Yet even more so, Job's story is an admirable representation of God's elect throughout the ages, of those who had once enjoyed a lofty state in the presence of God. These have experienced both an external and internal stripping. Their outward glory and inward remembrance of that condition was removed. As Job, they have been stripped of their former glory. Furthermore, there is no coincidence that the book of Job has 42 chapters, unlike any other book in the Bible. Granted, they are not in the original text, yet God was still sovereign in that particular task. And for those who may ask, what does this number mean? It represents the 42nd generation or Christ-company (ref. Matt. 1:1-17, I Cor. 12:12). This number has always been of interest to me and at the forefront of my mind. As a baby I was born at 4 lbs, 2 oz. and placed in an incubator 42 days. As a young boy, a prophetic spirit came upon me as I told my father that he would die at age 42. He passed that age many years ago, yet like all men, he shall die to self and come alive at Christ, the 42nd generation found in holy script. And so there it is..... A MAN NAMED JOB..... THE CHRIST OF GOD!
From Creation to the Consummation - Part III
Following the fall, family life begins. Cain and Abel are born unto Adam and Eve. As time goes by, God instructs man to bring sacrifices unto Him. Cain disobeys the clean command of the Lord and brings the fruit of his fields, but Abel is obedient and brings an animal sacrifice as an expression of his faith in the promise of the Saviour (Hebrews 11:4). Cain is angry and later kills Abel. God sees this terrible act and asks Cain, "where is your brother?" Cain answers, "am I my brother's keeper?" And so the entire account of man's violence begins with Cain's reaction to his brother's holiness and there begins a separation of the godly and the ungodly.
The era of Captain Noah would take in the account as given in Genesis, chapters four to eight; covering approximately about 1500 years. The main characters are Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel, Seth, Enoch, and Noah and his family. The dispensation of the conscience ends with the judgment of the flood. The main events which we will cover in this chapter are the offerings of Cain and Abel, the death of Abel, the birth of Seth, the translation of Enoch, the mixing of the godly and the ungodly lines, the warning of the Lord, Noah's Ark and the Flood.
Since we have covered briefly the offerings of Abel and Cain and the death of Abel in our introductory paragraph, let us continue with the importance of the birth of Seth. He was born after the growth of the progenies of Cain. We read in Genesis these words, "and Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: for God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew," Genesis 4:25. Seth stands out in two other references in the New Testament. The one account is in the genealogy of our Lord Jesus Christ. We read these words, "which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God." Luke 3:38. Since Seth is considered the third son of Adam, so then is Enoch in the lineage of Seth, and Enoch is mentioned in the book of Jude. Again we read there, "and Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, 'behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints'." Jude 14. While Seth is not mentioned specially, yet he is a part of that prophecy, since Seth is in his progeny. And so, with Seth, begins a "new start" with the good seed being preserved through this godly man and his seed. Enoch was one of the best of the saints in his day of wickedness. He walked with God and God took him. (Hebrews 11:5).
The record of Cain is a record of the civilized world of that day. During this period which we call Conscience, their ability to follow the day was weak and they did not have the strength-in-them-selves to obey it. The people found that the conscience could be seared and hardened and sin did not bother them. This civilization before the flood is called the antediluvian civilization. The Bible teaches, and the archaeologist confirms that the people before the flood attained a high degree of the arts, inventions and learning. These people were not mere savages. As we turn to Genesis 4:16-22, we can see what is mentioned in the Scriptures of their civilization.
Henrietta Mears brings out these facts. First, herdsmen. And Adah bare Jabal; he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle (Genesis 4:20). Second, musicians. And his brother's name was Jubal; he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ (Genesis 4:21). Third, artificers and manufacturers. And Zillah, she also bare Tubal-Cain, an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron (Genesis 4:22). Fourth, builders. And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch; and he builded a city, and called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch (Genesis 4:17).
The civilization founded by Cain could be equaled to that of Greece and Rome, yet God's judgment was upon it. And so the Bible presents culture as beginning with the line of Cain and continuing until the great flood, which wiped out the civilization and ushered in a new dispensation. Jesus said in Matthew 24: 37-38 that the same events as were in the days of Noah shall be prior to His coming. And, as we look at our civilization of today, we can see the parallel. We have the building of large cities, great inventions, works of arts, works of various metal products, and a lot of music. Music, which defies the imagination. As there was so much marriage and giving in marriage with the eating and drinking prior to the flood, so it is today. Divorce and re-marriage along with the eating and drinking characterizes our present age. As it was then, so it is today. There are records from the ancient polytheistic religions, which considered the gods to be the inventors of the arts and crafts. According to one source, the Egyptian god, Ptah, was the creator of their works of art. With the Greeks, their god named Hephaestus was worshipped for creating works of beauty. And with the ancient tribes of Germany, it was their god, Vulcan, who brought forth their crafts. With the Israelite monotheism, such idolatry could not be tolerated. They recognized children of Cain as the ones who did so much in bringing forth arts and crafts.
As mentioned earlier in this chapter, there is one man besides Noah who stands out as one of God's choicest servants, Enoch. In Genesis 5:22-24, we read briefly about this man. The Bible says twice that Enoch walked with God. In verses 22 and 24, it is emphasized by the Holy Spirit that this man, Enoch, walked so close with God, that God reached down and translated him so that he never saw death. And from this godly man came Methuselah who begat Lamech and Lamech begat Noah, whom God used to build the Ark and to preserve the seed of Christ. Methuselah was the one who stands out as having lived the longest on the earth, 969 years.
Some scholars have a problem with the longevity. The long life spans of the antediluvians have challenged scholarly thought over the years. Attempts have been made by trying to solve the problem by means of "lunar years" (i.e., month) are not convincing as they provide greater problems. Enoch, according to the "lunar year" viewpoint, was but five and one-half years old at the birth of Methuselah. Many nations at that time have traditions of longevity for their earliest patriarchs. Early Sumerian rulers along with traditions from Egypt, Persia and India have comparable longevity, which makes universal acknowledgement of long life spans during this dispensation. Longevity was attained for mankind because of the absolute ideal conditions, with the earth not keltered in its axis position, plus the atmospheric water mist, the earth rays were filtered and there was no bacteria to mentioned. Bacteria is what causes the rapid aging process, and man lived long because he deteriorated so slowly. It is possible that, with little or no bacteria, that man could be considered a young teen-ager at the age of one hundred. Also, the sun rays could hit the earth more directly. And, with no atmospheric mist to filter the rays, man would live in a bacteria-filled world. And, it appears in the Reign of the Lord Jesus, these same conditions will prevail. Isaiah indicates that long life will be re-instated during Messiah's reign as it was, prior to the flood. (Isaiah 65:20).
What caused the flood? The Bible says "and God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually". Genesis 6:5. Earlier in that same chapter we read of the intermarriage of the sons of God and the daughters of men. There has been much speculation as to who are the sons of God. An ancient interpretation of this strange statement is contained in the Book of Enoch, which declares that fallen angels ("sons of God") married human women ("daughters of men") in violation of God's divine order. Some accept it, while others believe it to be a remnant of Hebrew mythology. A more acceptable interpretation is of the intermarriage between the lines of Seth and Cain. According to this view, the godly line of Seth was corrupted by such marriages, and the result was that the imagination of man's heart was evil continually. The mixing of the two lines brought all the ungodliness from the union of the Seth and Cain generations. The result was a race called Nephilium, meaning giants. We read in Genesis 6:4, "there were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came into unto the children of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men were of old men of renown." And so, because God was so grieved because of man's wickedness. Since man would soon destroy himself, God would bring that civilization to an end.
"But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord;" Genesis 6:8. This succinct sentence shows that one man stood out during that time of looseness and open to sin, that God in His mercy to preserve the seed which would bring forth His Son, found that one righteous man. Noah found favor and grace in God's eyes. In Genesis 6:13-14, God tells Noah that the time has come to destroy the earth and that Noah is to build an Ark. This idea of the time span of 120 years for the building of the Ark comes from the statement of God in Genesis 6:3, "My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be a hundred and twenty years". The thought of a flood did not cause any concern for the inhabitants of the earth because they had never seen rain. The earth up to now was not nourished by rain but by dew of the ground. In Genesis 2:6 we read, "but there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground". With never a rain fall, the idea of an Ark seemed ridiculous. The Ark which he built was about 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. Henry Halley, the Bible scholar, estimated that the Ark displayed about 40,000 tons of water. The Ark contained a total of 1,518,750 cubic feet.
Halley mentions that early man engaged in boat building since they lived on the banks of rivers. And so the idea of a boat being built was not strange except this one. It was so large and could hold so much. Cuneiform tablets indicate that the inhabitants of Babylonia engaged in river and sea traffic and was one of man's earliest accomplishments. According to Babylonian tradition, Noah's home was at Fara, a place of the Euphrates. This place was about 70 miles northwest from the site of the Garden of Eden. The Lord directed Noah to take a pair of every animal, bird creeping things and seven pairs of the clean animals. Some have estimated that the cubic feet of the Ark would have allowed for about 7,000 species of animals. It is possible that Noah was a city-king and, as such, had the advantage of receiving the employment of thousands of men. No doubt he was the subject of much ridicule but remained strong in his faith, II Peter 2:5; Hebrews 11:7. With all the animal and the food necessary for the long voyage, the Ark was now ready for the next event. The Ark had one window, which was on top, and we read in the 7th chapter of Genesis, verse 10, that after the animals came in, there was a pause for seven days. This could indicate God still gave man time to get into the Ark. But when the time came for the rain to fall, God shut the door (Gen. 7:16).
Rehwinkle states that the Lord allowed the ice-ring, which encompassed the earth to melt and to deluge the earth. The fountains of the deep broke up and so the earth became top-heavy and shifted on its axis. As the earth shifted on its axis, the waters went to the north or south parts of the earth and were frozen there. The rain came for forty days from the foundations of the deep breaking up and with the windows of Heaven being opened. The waters covered the earth with the height of the waters being 23 feet above the highest mountain. In all, Noah and company were in the Ark for one year and 17 days. They floated on the waters for 5 months and were 7 months on the mountain. They landed on Mount Ararat, some 500 miles from where they may have been started. This mountain is about 200 miles north of Nineveh, located in the mountains of Armenia with this particular mountain being about 17,000 feet high. There is a city at the foot of the mountain named Naxuana or Nakhichevan, which claims the tomb of Noah. The name of the city means, "here Noah settled". After the Ark settled on the mountain, Noah released a raven, which did not return. He sent out a dove, which returned with a green olive leaf in its beak. Now, Noah knew that the earth was becoming green again. Again Noah released the dove, and it did not return. In regards to the place of the Ark, publications have indicated that expeditions have located the Ark in recent years, but the area is in Communist control; there can be no investigation of the Ark encrusted in the ice as reported and also in good condition.
Upon the exit from the Ark, Noah built an altar to the Lord and offered burnt offerings to the Lord, Gen. 8:20. The Lord was pleased and said that He would never curse the ground with a flood universally again. The Lord blessed Noah and told him to go forth and replenish the earth. The sign of God's promise was the rainbow, and this became the covenant which God made with Noah that the earth would not be cursed with a world wide cataclysm of water again. The Bible says in Genesis 9:19 that the three sons of Noah would overspread the world again. In other words, the world would be divided by the three sons of Noah. These sons were Ham, Shem, and Japheth. Ham committed a horrendous sin in making fun of Noah's nakedness while his father was in a drunkeness condition. The other sons, Shem and Japheth, came in and walked backwards so as to not see their father's nakedness and they covered him. When Noah realized what happened, he cursed Ham and blessed Shem and Japheth. Shem would be the one through whom would come Abraham and the promise seed, the Saviour. And, as time went on, these sons and descendants scattered out throughout the earth to replenish it. The main body of Noah's descendants seems to have migrated from Armenia, where Noah's family left the Ark, back toward the plain of Babylonia where they built the tower.
Evidences of the flood abound. Sir Leonard Woolley found a stratum of mud and flood silt eight feet thick at the city of Ur, of Chaldees. Dr. Woolley, in his book, "Ur of the Chaldees," stated that the eight foot of sediment implied a very great depth and a long period of water, that it could not have been put there by any overflow of the rivers, but only be a vast inundation, as the Biblical flood. Other deposits were found at Fara and Kish as well as Nineveh. Other reports tell of sea shell found in the mountains, the turbulence of the flood causing these strange phenomenons. Reports tell of large animal skin to the elephants found frozen in the north regions preserved in the ice and with grass in their mouths. This indicates that a sudden event overtook them and they perished in the midst of their normal eating habits. So many evidences in God's nature bear witness to a sudden and terrific break in the continuity of history.
Traditions from other sources apart from the Scripture attest to the reality of the great flood. Bible scholars will accept these traditions only because such universal beliefs, not springing from some instinctive principle of our nature, must be based on some historical fact. And that fact is the Great Deluge which affected entire mankind. Here is a record of these traditions:
Egyptians have a legend that the gods at one time purified the earth by a great flood from which only a few shepherds escaped in a mountain. Greek tradition says that a person named Deucalion warned that the gods were going to bring a flood upon the earth because of man's wickedness. Thus, he built an ark which rested on Mt. Parnassus. A dove was sent twice. Hindu belief is that a man named Manu was warned and so built a ship. He escaped alone from a flood which destroyed all creatures. Chinese tradition says that the founder of the Chinese civilization named Fa-He is represented as having escaped a flood with his wife, his three sons and three daughters. They had been warned to do this because men had rebelled against heaven. England has a story that the world was re-peopled from a righteous patriarch who had been saved in a strong ship from a flood sent be a Supreme Being who destroyed man for his wickedness. Polynesians tell of eight who escaped a flood in a canoe. Mexicans say that one man, his wife and children were saved in a box that floated on the flood waters. American Indians have various legends in which one, three or eight persons were saved in a boat above the waters on a high mountain. Peruvians speak of a box in which one man and woman floated on the flood waters. Greenland states that the earth tilted over, and all men were drowned, except one man and one woman who re-populated the earth. Besides the above mentioned, the Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians, Phrygians, Fiji Islanders, Brazilians and, indeed, every branch of the human race have a tradition of the Flood in Noah's time, which only ascribe relevance to the accuracy of the true account in Holy Writ.
As we think of the changes in the world after the flood, let us sum up ten things which remain since that time. The first thing which God re-established was the "new" earth after the flood. The earth was to continue until the Day of the Lord when it will be destroyed by fire, II Peter 3:12-13. Secondly, God established a Covenant with Noah and all living things that He would not destroy the earth with a universal flood any more, Genesis 9:11. Thirdly, there would be seedtime, planting by men. Fourthly, there would be harvest time, reaping by men. Fifth, there would be a time of cold; sixth, a time of summer. Seventh, a time called Winter and eight, a time called day. Nine, a time of night; and ten, a generation of natural people. From genesis 8:21 to 9:17, we see this new Covenant which God made with Noah and those who would follow after him. Another big change was that man was now allowed to eat meat. It could appear that before the flood, man was a vegetarian. But in Genesis 9:3 we read these words, "every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things." In the following verse, God forbad the partaking of the blood itself. Scholars believe that while men could eat the meat itself, man was to refrain from using the blood. An interesting parallel to this Scripture is the one in Acts 15: 28-29; the statement of doctrine for Gentile Christians. There we read in Acts 15:29 "that ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication..." Again the emphasis was on refraining from the blood.
Why did God mention Winter and Summer in Genesis 8:22? Was it because things had changed so much after the flood? As was mentioned in chapter one, scholars believe that the earth was in a correct position after God re-made the earth for man. The heavy mist or ring of ice around the earth in the atmosphere kept this earth as a paradise universally. There was no ice in the North or South Pole. But God could have allowed that atmospheric water to dissolve and flood the earth along the foundations breaking up from the deeps, causing the earth to tilt on its axis and to polarize the water to flow to either the North or South Pole. There the waters of the flood remain frozen until the day when the Lord shall change the existing order. Prior to the flood, there seem to be no seasons as we know it, but after the flood, the seasons came along with seed-time in the harvest. And so the entire course of nature was changed and man began to live in a new era under the Governance of Almighty God. No longer could man live the extremely long life spans. With bacteria, disease, and other changes, man's life span would be cut back to basically an allotment of three-score and ten or four-score. There would be few who would live longer, and if they did it was by the Grace of God. It was not long before man began to deteriorate morally and spiritually and wish to erect a tower to their benefit and glory, called the tower of Babel. This subject we shall discuss in the next chapter.
To be continued.................Dr. Jack E. Jacobsen