Monday, January 25, 2010

The Feeding of the Four Thousand

“And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; . . .Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female. . .Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth” Gen. 7:1-3.
“And thou shalt take unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be food for thee, and for them” Gen. 6:21.
This is surely not the account of the feeding of the four thousand, you say? In a very real way, it is! Please read on!
In Mark chapter eight, following the feeding of the four thousand plus: “And straightway he [Jesus] entered into a ship with his disciples” vs. 10. “Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf” vs.14. Jesus. . .saith unto them, “When I brake the five loaves among the five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? They say unto them, Twelve. And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? And they said, seven. And he said unto them, How is it that ye do not understand?” Mark 8:19-21.
The disciples had witnessed twice the loaves and fishes being more than sufficient to feed the multitudes, with baskets full to spare, but were unable to discern that one loaf broken unto them at the hands of the Master could feed a mere twelve. . .?
Noah, his family, and all the animals and fowls of the air entered into the ship (ark) where the Lord awaited them (He called: Come in!) Dare we say that Noah took with him into the ark his “five loaves and two fishes?” Five loaves and two fishes were supplied the multitude on the hillside for one meal; but unbeknown to Noah, his crew and the multitude of beasts were to remain in the ark for a year! Noah, where can you buy enough food to feed this assembly; how can you obtain it, and where can you get it, seeing you are shut up in the ark and the outside world is in the midst of a great flood?
We know the answer: “And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God” II Cor. 3:4,5. Shall man presume to store “his sufficiency” in his barns when God shall “give us this day our daily bread?”
How many lamps would it have taken to sufficiently light the three stories within the ark? Did Noah see to its lighting? Even as the Shekinah Glory of God was the Light within the Most Holy Place where dwelt the Ark of the Covenant in the wilderness, so also the Light of the ark bearing Noah’s brood. Was it not literally an “Ark of the Covenant?” “But with thee will I establish my Covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark.” Gen. 6:18. If Christ is “The Light of the world” could He not sufficiently light the interior of one ark? “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” II Cor. 4:6.
And how much water would it have taken to quench the thirst of such a multitude? Could the ark itself have held enough, were it emptied of all else and filled to the brim? If a thirsty Israel might drink of the water from the Rock of Ages; if Christ be in you a Well of Living Water springing up into everlasting life, then why attempt to have a cistern of water in store? Is He not the Source, the Reservoir from which we may draw?
What of the supply of fresh air? With no windows to open, and no ventilation system, being closed in with a multitude of animals; how did they breath? “And the Lord God formed man. . .breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” Gen. 2:7. “Thus saith God the Lord, He that created the heavens, and stretched them out; He that spread forth the earth, and that cometh out of it; He giveth breath unto the people upon it and spirit to them that walk therein” Isa. 42:5. “Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord” Psalms 150:6.
Could the ark have been found a place of rest during the tempest? What of comfort, during this, the ultimate “storm of life?” The name Noah means quiet resting place. “Lamech. . .beget a son: and he called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands” Gen. 5:28,29. “I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee” Isa. 42:6. “For he hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee” Heb. 13:5.
Shut up in the ark for an entire year! Did it not become a place of fearfulness? Did the wolf pursue the lamb to devour him? Would the animals not have fought among themselves: for that matter, what of the humans? “But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another” Gal. 5:15. “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth. . .The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock” Isa. 65:17,25. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. . .Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” John 14:27.
Was the ark equipped with showers? Did not Noah and his family, after a few days begin to resemble Lazarus? “by this time he stinketh.” How much the more “stank” the multitude of creatures? To His disciples Jesus had said: “He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but he is clean every whit: and ye are clean” John 13:10. “Abide in me. . .Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” John 15:3,4. Ye are clean; whether abiding in the Vine - or abiding in the Ark!
What of bodily excretions? Was the ark equipped with “bathrooms?” How could Noah have handled such an obvious problem? “ I AM the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” John 6:51. May we say that Christ is 100 per cent pure nutrients! All is appropriated; all is assimilated, digested, absorbed. God forbid the thought of any “waste” in this regard. Again, “Ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.”
What of the crowded conditions? Noah and his family and a multitude of animals and birds seemingly caged up together in the ark. . . “Let not your heart be troubled. . .In my Father’s house are many mansions. . .I go to prepare a place for you” John 14:1-3. The ark must have been a roomy place! Can you imagine: “There’s no room at the cross for you?” There’s no room at the Throne of Grace? No room - in the Presence of the Lord of all creation? Unthinkable.
Did Noah and his family have beds on which to rest? Did the fowls and the animal have nesting places? The Lord is our ‘nesting place’; He is our Comfort amidst the storm that rages without. His Presence will bring a calming within.
The ark must have been a place of extreme boredom, for man and creature; cooped up together in closed quarters as they were. Or it would have been, were it not that the Lord was on board! Boredom? In His Presence? Well might one visit Niagara Falls and find it dried up as to think that one might some day reach the outer limits of the universe - that he is now full of the knowledge of the Lord and has beheld all of His Glory!
This we know: the ark was pitched within and without - Noah was sealed in; the waters sealed out! The ark had no oars, nor sail, nor rudder; neither any windows from which to see. It’s Power source was from within; its course, its direction was determined “according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself” Eph. 1:9. Noah, in light of the circumstances, might just as well have walked (rode the seas) by faith!
Mere words cannot convey this thought: The Lord God is the God of ALL PROVISION. “For in him were all things created, that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him and for him: And he is before all things and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in ALL things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should ALL fulness dwell” Col. 1:16-19.
Did not our Lord feed five thousand men, plus women and children - with five barley loaves and two fishes? And again the four thousand? Christ is the embodiment of the Eternal Covenant. He is the Ark. I am persuaded that Noah had with him in the Ark his “five loaves and two fishes,” and had Noah, his family and all the creatures been shut within the Ark for one hundred years; none would have died; none would have fallen sick: God would have continued to “supply all their need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus!” What need has the Eternal God to build for Himself great storehouses in which to contain His bounty? Can He not speak; can He not open His hand, and behold, all the riches of glory are immediately at His disposal? He is the Storehouse! Are not the birds fed from His hand? He will “give us this day our daily bread!” Open our eyes, O God, that we may behold Thy Glory!

Friday, January 22, 2010

According to His Riches in Glory

But my God shall supply all your need according to his
riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:19
A farmer was leaving his house to go into the field. His wife mentioned to him that she was baking his favorite pie for the evening meal. He was delayed in coming in for supper and his children had already eaten. “Is there any of that pie left?” he inquired of his wife. “Why the whole pie is here, waiting for you” she exclaimed! Puzzled, he asked, “Did the kids not eat any pie?” “Yes, they ate all they wanted,” she said. “They were full when they left the table!” “How can that be?” said the farmer.
Jesus went up into a desert place with his disciples. Many people “came together unto him.” When He saw them He was “moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.”
“This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed. Send them away” said the disciples. [But they were not come unto Christ that they might be sent away.] “They have nothing to eat.” “Give them to eat.” “Whence shall we buy bread. . . two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one may take a little.” [Little is much when God is in it: He Himself would be their sufficiency.] “they were filled.”
Five barley loaves and two small fishes: “what are they among so many.” “And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples. . .When they were filled, he said to his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.” [Recall the words of the Prodigal: “How many hired servants of my father have bread enough and to spare.”] They filled twelve baskets with the fragments.” Where did they find twelve baskets out in the wilderness? [If our Lord could multiply the bread, then why not also baskets?]
Who is your God? Is he one who might have said, “My hands are now empty; I have no more to give unto these who shall yet be in need: my resources are depleted.” Or is He One to whom the disciples might have gone after everyone had eaten and were filled: “Lord what is that which is in your hands?” “Why, it is five barley loaves and two small fishes!”
By Christ Jesus, and according to His riches in glory, God had [and shall yet] supply their [our] need!”
The farmer’s wife had prepared the pie: it might have had a ‘fruit filling,’ having a crust which was a ‘firm foundation.’ Why will one cut the pie into slices? Because he or she wants to remove them one by one until there remains no pie at all. “Lord. wouldst Thou grant me a piece of Your Pie?” The reply might be, “Why will you have Me cut the Pie in order to give you a slice when I have prepared the Pie in its entirety for you?” Are we heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ hoping to receive a fragment or crumb from His table - or has He prepared the Whole Pie in our behalf, that we may feast together eternally with Him?
The farmer’s wife baked a pie; after all had eaten and were filled, there remained the whole pie! We may freely partake of the bounty of our Lord, knowing that the ‘Pie’ will always remain Whole! He is our portion - our portion is not a slice, a fragment or a crumb! It is Christ in His eternal fullness and glory!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Halfhearted Christian

In the book of the Revelation, chapter three, we find a somewhat disturbing passage written initially to the church at Laodicea: “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God: I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. [the reason given:] Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” Rev. 3;14-17. The Lord has tasted, and as such says, I will not drink of the fruit of your vine. You would attempt to deceive me [and yourselves] into believing that it is the best wine; but the fruit from which it was pressed is corrupt and bitter. It came not from my Vineyard. You say you are rich? I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire. You say you are increased with goods? Buy of me white raiment that thou mayest be clothed. You are blind. I will anoint your eyes with eyesalve, that you may see.
The fruit of their works is spued out. Are they to be cast out also? The Lord has rebuked and chastened. But He concludes: As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent” Rev. 3:18. Be no longer halfhearted and lukewarm! Come boldly [fervently] to the Throne of Grace! “we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God” II Cor. 5:20b. Abide in Me! I AM the True Vine and you are the branches. Bear unto the Husbandman the fruit which I alone am the producer! Then shall He drink and be refreshed and not spue it forth from His mouth!

To the current existing offspring of the Laodicean church we might offer a word study:
Half-hearted, Lukewarm, impassive, irresolute. Irresolute, wavering, faltering, uncertain, doubting, fearful, unstable, halfhearted. (Webster’s Thesaurus)
On wavering: “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:” Hebrews 10:24. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” James 1:5-8.
If any man lacks wisdom? From the Old Testament book of Exodus: “And I shall speak unto all that are wise hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him” Exodus 28:3. “And in the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee” Exodus 31:6. Also read Exodus 35:10,25 and Exodus 36:1,2. In every wise hearted man the Lord put wisdom and understanding “even everyone whose heart stirred him up to come unto the work to do it.” So we see that every man whom the Lord filled with understanding and the spirit of wisdom also had his heart stirred within him to do the work of the Lord. He was not lukewarm; he did not work halfheartedly; he did not waver, doubt, fear; he was not double minded, unstable, faltering. He worked in faith, his heart stirred up within him.
Again to the halfhearted and the lukewarm: “And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these” Mark 12;28-31. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God halfheartedly? Lukewarmly? with half your soul, mind and strength? That is not full filling the commandment. The wine cup is half full? And it is half empty. It is to our shame if it be so in our hearts!
The works of our hands can be no greater than the work of our heart. Of what value, our works, if they stem from lukewarm, halfhearted Christians? Of what benefit, our works, our love, if they are not founded, coupled with faith? We ought to strive to do the will of God? Yes! But in order to accomplish this, we must willingly submit ourselves unto His will. There must be love united in faith; we must trust Him. Would we put ourselves into the hands of a surgeon if we doubted his abilities and skills to perform surgery? How shall the halfhearted and lukewarm, the fearful and doubting, the unstable and wavering - find peace and security in the Redeemer? How shall he believe himself to be truly saved and his sins bought with Precious Blood? Shall he believe the written words spoken by the Living Word to be eternally true and faithful?
Do we perform our ‘works’ with the ‘hope’ of somehow pleasing God? “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” Heb. 11:6. “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts:” Heb. 11:4. By faith Enoch was translated. . .God translated him. . .he had this testimony, that he pleased God” Heb. 11:5. What great works did Enoch with his hands that he so greatly pleased God? “And Enoch walked with God” Gen. 5:22. Again, “And Enoch walked with God” Gen 5:24. Question. How is it that one will say he is walking with God and yet be lukewarm in heart; how can he halfheartedly be walking with God? Oh, the abundance of activities and programs in the local church! And it is church related, isn’t it? But is it walking with God? I remember fifty years ago, sitting in the ‘Amen corner’ of the church: men cried and prayed while sinners walked the aisle! Fervent prayer availed much! It was no place for the lukewarm or halfhearted Christian!
My dear friend, where would we be today if Jesus had been lukewarm; if He had halfheartedly obeyed the Father; if, in facing the cross, He had been fearful, uncertain, double minded, unstable?
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.”