“The ministry of Christ is not a profession: ministers are not professional gentlemen; ministers of the right kind are called from eternity, and cannot help uttering what is in them, and they are not always aware of the reach of their own meaning. They pass through periods of madness, wondering what, and what manner of time the Spirit of God within them doth signify when it tells them of coming blue skies and summers that shall encircle the globe, and songs that shall make the welkin ring with infinite joy. Do not bind the poor solitary man down as if he had invented the message, and must grammatically interpret it and bind it within parsing bounds, nor judge him by his after conduct; he is an instrument; through him God sends sounds mysterious, messages beneficent, gospels that are saving. He is not a professional gentleman. If any young men are coming into the ministry as a profession, God hinder them, build up a great granite wall in the face of them and starve them until they begin to repent and pray. We are either in the Kingdom of God or we are not in it, we cannot climb into it by ways of our own making and processes of our own invention: and if we are in it men will know by a subtle, mysterious, magnetic music and power that we have something to say not to be found on the decaying and fading pages of earthly wisdom.”
– Joseph Parker (Sermons on the Gospel of John)
“We profess to be strangers and pilgrims, seeking after a country of our own, yet we settle down in the most un-stranger-like fashion, exactly as if we were quite at home and meant to stay as long as we could. I don’t wonder apostolic miracles have died. Apostolic living certainly has.”
― Amy Carmichael
“Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith”
1 Kings 17:3
The true path of the Lord will always culminate in the setting apart of a vessel unto Himself. “Cherith” literally means separation, derived from a Hebrew root meaning to “cut off”. This life of separation is not the result of works of the flesh or caused by carnal means; it is always entered into by the simple obedience of an individual unto the Word of the Lord. As such, this place of separation will always be filled with special provisions of God to sustain one in the center of His Will.
“And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there”
1 Kings 17:4
In these times of loneliness and separation God Himself comes in new and profound ways. There is a drawing near, a learning and a dependency upon Him and His provisions; a time of being hid in the wonder of God Himself. This place of separation brings one to new places of freedom from other comforts and even our reliance on friendships for in the presence of God there is room for none other than God Himself.
“And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up…”
1 Kings 17:7
These separations are intended by God to be temporary in the life of His own, not permanent dwelling places, for God’s desire is that the vessel be poured into the lives of others. The special provision of God dries up and the Word of the Lord comes to move on in new power and a closer relationship with Him. The vessel is prepared for greater works by the cutting off of former things. On this occasion there was a widow in need of the touch of the Lord who would also be a source of new sustenance.
“And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee”
1 Kings 17:8-9
This same work of God was evident in Paul the Apostle who was set aside for three years in the wilderness of Damascus in order to become a chosen vessel in the purposes of God (Galatians 1:15-18). To what end was the separation of Paul?
“Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph”
This was a simple statement but one of immense implications for the people of God. It was the beginning of a period of time in which His people endured great hardship and suffering. The Word does not go into detail concerning the political events of the time nor what ensued. It was the results that mattered. This change was one of great import and no doubt ordered of the Lord. Throughout the history of His people (natural or spiritual) their tendency is to become mingled with the ways and wisdom of this world. The call of God for them to be separate and holy is ignored and this mixture becomes unbearable to the One who rules and reigns over all. The suffering of His people at the hands of the evil of this world sets the stage for the judgments of God which inevitably follow. It is in this time that we are instructed to walk in the ways of Christ whereby we overcome as He overcame.
“Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore, if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good”
It is in these times that God sets things in place to once again “divide the light from the darkness”. God Himself watches over His own for in the mingling of the light with darkness His salvation ceases to shine forth and His face is hid from those who dwell upon the earth. When His people become political and invest themselves in the ways and wisdom of this world they cease to be the light of God to their generation. Upon entering into the political arena their warfare becomes carnal, worldly and powerless and the culmination of these things is spiritual decay and bitterness of soul. The true church of Jesus Christ is not of this world; she seeks a Kingdom which is above and she is an ambassador of that Kingdom. Paul exhorted the saints of his day to pray for the rulers and princes of that day; a government which was soon to fall because of its own wickedness. The Roman army had surrounded Jerusalem and placed it under siege for its rebellion. The fall of Jerusalem to the Roman army is still regarded as the single most horrific genocide in human history. This incident is never mentioned by the writers of the New Covenant; the Jerusalem they were seeking was not of this world.
We are to be a heavenly people free from the politics and policies of this world. A change is coming in our day as the principalities of this world are aligning themselves for a final assault upon the people of God. It is a day for us to seek with all of our hearts to be hid in Christ in the reality of a living, holy and intimate nature. He is our salvation. It is by being held in the graces and wonder of Christ that we can face this day with the enduring love of God. We must remain vigilant to keep our trust and hope in Him. Let us not render evil for evil but by the very life of Christ overcome evil with good, overcome hatred with love and, having our eyes fixed upon His return, in order to keep ourselves free from the bitterness of the day.
“Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life”