Author Archives: Allan Halton

Perseverance

The link below leads to a message titled Perseverance by Bill Sweeney.

Bill has been bed-ridden with ALS for 22 years. He is completely paralyzed, unable to speak, and communicates by means of a computer mouse that he controls with eye movements. Yet there is great grace in his life. I know where that comes from.

His wife Mary is his chief caregiver– a testimony in itself of great grace.

I urge my readers to partake of this message; there is much en-courage-ment here. Bill’s trial of deep affliction is yielding great wealth to the body of Christ, especially for those who themselves are going through deep waters. (Read the comments too; there’s much inspiration there.)

After I read this I was once again humbled by the realization of the many saints who are already gathered in the church in Heaven, and of others like Bill who will one day gather with them. Oh, the  testimonies of the triumph of our Lord Jesus Christ in the lives of countless saints! It leaves me absolutely awed. When it comes my turn to gather with them, I will want to slip in quietly, and take a seat at the back.

Perseverance

A Conversation With An Ant

This morning I was out beside my little garden enjoying another beautiful summer day while reading my favourite Book when I noticed an ant briskly making his way along the wooden border of the raised bed. He was carrying a morsel I couldn’t identify—something twice as large as himself—but even so was making good time as he headed toward an ant hill I’ve seen growing near my house.

I paused from my reading and, Bible in hand, knelt down and greeted my busy neighbour with a cheery, “Good morning.”

That stopped him; he turned toward me, antennae working back and forth to determine, I suppose, whether I were friend or foe. “Good morning to you as well,” he said politely if rather warily.

(I ask my readers to keep to yourselves, please, that I was conversing with an ant; if this gets in the wrongs ears… unless you want to share it with some little child; they have no problem with these things.)

I tilted my head back for a closer look at the ant through the lower lens of my bifocals. “That’s quite the load you’re carrying,” I ventured.

It was obvious he wasn’t inclined to idle long, for he said hurriedly, “Yes, but do you feel that touch in the air this morning? The summer’s going fast. We’ve got to bring in much more yet.”

“Ah, yes,” I said. “I’ve read about you in the Bible.”

“The Bible?” he queried.

“It’s a book that tells us humans about God’s eternal purposes in man—more specifically in a Man named Jesus Christ. Actually it’s the second Bible God gave us. You—and the rest of the natural creation—are the first.”

“Really?” the ant said, laying his burden aside now. “I am a Bible?”

“Yes,” I said. “The whole creation is. In our Bible in Proverbs—those are sayings a very wise man wrote long ago—it talks of four things in the creation that are little but are exceedingly wise. It lists you first. It says—here, let me read it.” I leafed through the pages of my Bible till I found the passage in Proverbs Chapter 30.

“‘The ants are a people…’”

“I like your Bible,” he broke in cheerily. “A people. Yes. Everything we do, we do not for ourselves but for the good of all of us.”

I looked up awestruck. So little a creature with so large a thought. Let me ever be small enough to be the student of an ant.

After a moment I continued reading, “‘The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their food in summer.’”

His cheerful face turned suddenly solemn. “Indeed we do,” he said. “We know what’s coming.”

“Tell me,” I said, now leaning down on my elbows to get right close to him.

“You don’t know?” he asked, leaning toward me too. “There’s coming a time of great cold. And great, great desolation. We ants, we know we can’t survive that kind of thing; we’re not very strong. So we take advantage of the warm summer days to prepare for it. Look at all the food around us… now.”

I nodded. “I see that you are wise indeed. And now that I think of it, the wise man who wrote those proverbs mentioned something else about you in another place. Let me see if I can find it.” I leafed through the pages till I found the place. “Ah, here it is. Proverbs Chapter 6 verse 6. ‘Go to the ant, thou sluggard: consider her ways, and be wise: which have no guide, nor overseer, nor ruler, provideth her meat in summer, and gathereth her food in harvest.’ So you are not only wise, but industrious—and that without some boss or leader telling you what to do, which in itself is more than amazing.”

“To God be the glory,” he responded, “it seems my leader is built right into me.” And with that he gripped his load and was off again. “Good-bye,” I called with a little wave, and at that he called back, “Good-bye. Have a nice summer… what’s left of it.”

A little distance away he looked back over his shoulder. “And a nice winter too.”

I watched him hasten away till I could see him no longer. Was there a note of foreboding in his last words? Is the abundant spiritual summer we’ve enjoyed in our land for so long about run out? Am I in my weakness—and wisdom—and diligence—securing a Source of spiritual provision and strength for the desolate days ahead?

Or am I the proverbial grasshopper in the ancient fable who fiddled away the glorious summer days while the ant prepared for what was coming?

The Realm Of The True

Here is another excerpt from my book The True Worshippers, which is available on Other Writings (see menu bar above). This excerpt is from Chapter Two entitled The Realm Of The True.

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Neither in this mountain…

…Jesus, in saying to the woman at the well that the hour was at hand when people would no longer worship in “this mountain,” that is, Samaria—what he had in mind was the way the Samaritans attempted to worship God. The Samaritan religion was a mongrel mix of the idolatrous rites of foreign gods along with certain traditions rooted in the Law of Moses.

“Ye [Samaritans] worship ye know not what,” Jesus told her. “We know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.”

Now, any Jew listening in on this conversation would have given his resounding Amen to this Man (also a Jew) for that statement. Yes, salvation is of the Jews—more specifically of the house of David of the tribe of Judah. It’s what the Man had said just prior to this that caused all the trouble.

Nor yet at Jerusalem…

Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

Blasphemy! Nor yet at Jerusalem? God Himself established the religion of the Jews, and Jerusalem was the exclusive city that He Himself ordained His temple to be built in! This was His habitation, and He Himself had called and inspired Moses the man of God to set forth in the Law all the ritual and sacrifice that was to be centred in this great city and temple! Blasphemy! Who is this heretic to say, “nor yet at Jerusalem”?

But this Heretic was speaking of the great transformation that this same God had sent Him to inaugurate, by which all the types and shadows of the Law would be fulfilled in Himself and His new covenant community the Church in the Kingdom of God. It was a transformation from type and shadow to the true.

For, in Scripture, the word true is contrasted not only with false, but also with type and shadow. Many of our fathers in church history saw this and embraced it, but in our day (to our great humiliation), Christian teachers in great numbers have carelessly relinquished this understanding. “Woman, believe Me,” Jesus had said: what He was about to reveal to her was going to take some faith.

Woman, believe Me, the hour cometh when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

Do we ourselves hear the same promise? The same call to faith? Do we believe Him?

It seems we do not. These days many Christian teachers and their followers are glorying in rituals and types and shadows that were once observed in old Jerusalem, but which Scripture clearly teaches are done away in Christ and His new covenant. They insist that God will one day soon suddenly rapture the Church out of the picture and return to His original plans with natural Israel. Apparently, we are told, He will have the temple in Jerusalem rebuilt so Messiah can come to His temple and be worshipped with all the types and shadows of the Law again, in the process necessitating that Isaiah Chapter 66, verses one and two, be struck from the scriptural record, and repudiating Jesus’ own words here in John 4:21. Earlier generations of the church had greater light than that. Even in my old King James Bible there’s a superscription above Psalm 72 that reads, “David, praying for Solomon, sheweth the goodness and glory of his kingdom in type, and of Christ’s in truth.”

That sets forth very well the nature of truth. Jesus, in talking of the true worshippers, is not saying that those who worshipped under the Mosaic system were false worshippers. They certainly were not; the Samaritans were the ones involved in the false worship. The Jews’ religion was the divinely-ordained one. But—oh for eyes to see—it was just in type and shadow. Jesus, in using the word true here, is contrasting the true with type and shadow.

Neither in this mountain…

The true worshippers, He was telling the woman, shall not worship in Samaria. That is false religion; that is comparing true and false. But the Jews were not false worshippers; they worshipped the one true God—even though they themselves were not true worshippers. Not yet, that is. The worship their God had ordained in Jerusalem was only the type and shadow of the true. And this is why Jesus adds these words, which were difficult back then and are still difficult to this day:

Nor yet at Jerusalem…

That is comparing true and type. And the time had come when the true worshippers need not go to the earthly Jerusalem centre anymore; to worship the Father they need not get involved in what were but representations of reality. How would they worship Him, then?

In spirit and in truth…

Truth? Perhaps reality is a better word, and for a start we want to look at a few of the many facets of this that are revealed to us in our New Testament.

The True Worshippers

The following is an excerpt from Chapter One of my writing The True Worshippers, which is now available on Other Writings (see menu bar above). I hope to publish this book eventually, and made some beginnings via Createspace (hence the ISBN numbers on Page 4) but at the encouragement of friends recently (in the mouth of two or three witnesses…) decided to put it here for a start. It’s a 224-page pdf document with bookmarks.

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And so, God—we take note that Jesus calls Him the Father—He is a seeker. There is great emphasis in Scripture on seeking God; this is very important. We are to be seekers. But, God Himself a seeker? Surely this must lay hold of us. Our own seeking is not going to get us very far if it is not in line with what He Himself is seeking.

What is He seeking, then? Jesus says the Father is seeking true worshippers. You mean He wants to teach us how to really get into it on Sunday morning when the “worship team” leads us in worship? Or maybe He wants to counsel us where to worship? Christians sometimes ask one another, “Where do you worship?” They want to know what church you attend. Does that define worship, then, and set its boundaries—where people go to church and what they do in church on a Sunday morning?

Or, serving God. A little further on in this writing we will see how closely worshipping and serving God are linked. This becomes a powerful pursuit for many who turn to Christ. They don’t want to waste their precious moment of mortal life serving themselves anymore; now they want to serve God. I knew such a young man myself long ago. He had wasted his youth seeking after all the things the Gentiles seek. Now he wanted to serve God, and there was no time to lose. He was thinking in terms of what has been called the “five-fold” ministry of the church—apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. This, of course, might be God’s will for certain ones, those He calls to this.

But it is not His ultimate calling—even for them. In a message I listened to recently the speaker said something like this: “If God is grooming you for a very high calling, then know that He will first take you into the depths.” That is true, yet it saddened me that the man was speaking in terms of the apostolic calling. I wondered how many in his audience might have felt left out, that they had not been “marked out for a very high calling.” Yet Paul, himself a called apostle, wrote that he was giving his all in order to “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14). This ought to cause those who have been called to the ministry to search their hearts, and it ought to encourage also those who are not called to this. For, God’s ultimate call for one and all is, simply, to become true worshippers. The Son of God says that this is what the Father is seeking. True worshippers.

You mean this is all He wants? All He is seeking? Yes. All. If that seems kind of a letdown to us, it’s only because we have not yet discovered how utterly breathtaking this is—being one of the Father’s true worshippers. It is something they are more than something they do. Oh, for vision, then: open our eyes, Father. For, once we discover what becoming a true worshipper is all about, we will lose interest in our own ideas of something fulfilling for our lives.

But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him.

This is what, or should I say, who, the Father is seeking. True worshippers. We must ask the searching question, then, and it will take some courage. In all the activity that falls under what we know as church—all the ministry, all the preaching and teaching, all the outreaches, all the Bible studies, all the programs… all the activity we have come to consider church… is Father finding what He is seeking? If He is seeking true worshippers, is He finding them? Let’s bring that closer to home. Am I one of them? Am I at least becoming one of them? Hopefully this question causes me to pause, and then stop, and check my bearings… lest somewhere down the road I discover to my great sorrow that what I was seeking and what God was seeking were two different things, and I have arrived at a destination far from where God, if He had been given His way, would have led me.

The encouraging thing is that in asking this searching question—and asking God Himself to search our hearts about it so we may know for sure if He is or is not finding what He is seeking in our lives—we are right there becoming engaged in the Father’s own seeking. He is seeking true worshippers, and as we respond with an open and honest heart, a heart that is willing to give Him the desire of His heart, we are right there beginning to enter into the true worship He has in mind. We are totally helpless to come to this on our own. We would have no idea what steps to walk in to get to this destination, much less know what the destination actually looks like. But since God Himself is seeking this in our lives, we have much assurance. If we are truly desirous of becoming one of these true worshippers of His, He will see to it that we are not disappointed. He will not disappoint the desire of His own heart.

Jesus defines the true worshippers as those who worship the Father in spirit and in truth. What is this all about, then? We want to look at this, and hopefully discover in some measure, with His help, what He means by this. For, it is a beautiful discovery in our walk with God—the day we begin to see that, whatever our lot in this earthly life, the greatest of all fulfillments is ours in simply becoming one who worships the Father in spirit and in truth. This is all God is really after in our lives. There is nothing greater, nothing higher, nothing more fulfilling that we could possibly hope for, or attain to, than becoming a true worshipper. Coming to this, we have arrived at the destination of the walk of the disciple of Christ—only to discover that this destination is actually an eternal Way—and the deepest desire of God’s own heart. In fact there is a realm of worship that, as far as finding fulfillment is concerned, is exceedingly abundantly above anything we could ever ask for… or even think.

We think of worship as something we do on Sundays for an hour or so—the worship service. Our concept of worship must be enlarged. We think of ministry, of serving God, as something the man behind the pulpit is involved in. Our concept of ministry must be enlarged. There is a ministry beyond ministry: I mean beyond ministry as we are accustomed to think of it. In fact, when the ministries God has set in the church become an end in themselves and not a means by which the people of God are equipped to give Him the desire of His heart, those ministries have failed God’s purpose for them.

And so, let us examine this. What does it mean to be one who worships the Father in spirit and in truth? What is a true worshipper?

But let us ask first:

Just what is worship? 

Disciples Of The Lily

And seeing the multitudes, He went up into a mountain: and when He was set, His disciples came unto Him: and He opened His mouth, and taught them…

These words in the Gospel according to Matthew introduce us to what has been called the Sermon on the Mount. It’s clear that the multitudes as well as the disciples had followed Jesus up the mountain, for we read at the end of the sermon that “the multitudes were astonished at His teaching” (Mt. 7:28). But it was primarily to His disciples that Jesus was speaking. The word disciple means, simply, learner. He was the Teacher, the Rabbi, they the learners.

What is it that He was teaching them? What were they to learn? The answer to that question is to be found in asking the better question, “Who is it that they were to learn?”

For, when He opened His mouth and taught them, it was Himself that He was revealing to them—Himself—the Life of the ages. John the beloved was there at that time, and no doubt it was this scene on the mount, among many others, that he had in mind when many years later he wrote of the Word of life that they had heard and seen and looked upon and their hands had handled, the Life eternal that had been with the Father, and was manifested to them. One cannot help seeing Him seated there on that beautiful day with His disciples around Him sitting or reclining in the grass, the flowers of the field blooming round about them, the birds of the air flying above.

It was the One now seated before them who had created it all, object lessons of Himself, and, perhaps with a motion of His arm He draws their attention upward, then downward.

Behold the fowls of the air… Consider the lilies of the field…

The context of these words is about two kinds of slavery—the slavery of Mammon and the slavery of God. Mammon originally meant “that in which one puts his trust, his confidence” and came eventually to mean (is it any wonder in this materialistic world?) “money, possessions, material prosperity.”

Jesus is teaching His disciples the Life that is not slavery to Mammon, is not anxious nor burdened with its own security, but rather trusts in the faithfulness of a heavenly Father to provide all that is necessary, both earthly and spiritual, while being bondslaves to Him. It seems an incongruous thought—slavery to God? But that is the word Jesus uses. “Ye cannot serve-as-bondslaves God and Mammon.”

And so He tells them, “Therefore…” What a precious place to find that word. Let us heed it. “Therefore, be not anxious for your life…” That’s what being a bondslave of the living God is like. It is the Life that is free from care, unburdened with the cares of this life.

Therefore, be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than food, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air…

What about the fowls of the air? This. They are not sowing and reaping and gathering into barns, intent upon making sure they have in hand what tomorrow will need. What then? What resource do they have? “Your heavenly Father feedeth them.”

Remember that old poem?

Said the robin to the sparrow,
“I would really like to know
Why those anxious human beings
rush around and worry so.”
Said the sparrow to the robin,
“Friend, I think that it must be
That they have no Heavenly Father
such as cares for you and me.”

It’s meant, of course, to remind us that we do have. And note that Jesus has said, “Your heavenly Father feedeth them.” Not their heavenly Father. The robin and the sparrow cannot call Him Father. The disciples of Jesus can. And will not this Father who feeds the fowls of the air feed His own children, and care for all their needs, whether earthly or spiritual? It is thus that they grow, not by “taking thought,” not by anxious care; they cannot by anxious care add so much as one cubit to their stature.

And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow…

This is where Jesus calls His disciples to become disciples of the lilies of the field. The word consider comes from the same Greek root that the word disciple comes from. Consider also has the prefix kata, which is an intensifier, which is why Young’s Literal Translation has, “Consider well.” Thayer says it means “to learn thoroughly, to examine carefully, to consider well.”

Kata also has the idea down in it. This is likely why Halton’s Expanded Translation has:

Humble yourself, get right down on your elbows in the grass, and become a disciple of the lowly lilies of the field: recline at their feet, and learn from them, learn well from them, the secret of spiritual growth, the secret of the life that toils not, nor spins, yet because of that wondrous law of life within, they grow with a beauty that by comparison, Solomon in all His glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Now Jesus’ next word. “Wherefore…” Let us heed this one too:

Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

Much more? Wondrous words we are invited to trust, to believe. The lily in all its glory is clothed with a beautiful array that it does not spin for itself, does not toil to produce. It is God who so clothes it, putting within it a law of life that brings into being that beautiful raiment as the lily simply obeys that law of life. This is how it grows—simply by letting that law of life have its way, and trusting in its Creator to provide the needed sunlight, and water, and nutrients from the soil. Thus the lowly lily brings forth and displays an inimitable beauty that glorifies God, who created it for this very purpose—to glorify Him.

Shall He not much more clothe us, to the praise of His glory?

Help us, Jesus, help us to be no longer of little faith, but to fully believe you, and follow through on your counsel, and become disciples of the lily.

The Oracle Of Judgment

As one of the oxen of God—a teacher of the word, I mean—it is my lot to tread out the grain. I go round and round the word-of-God threshing floor, round and round, patiently plodding along, treading out the grain—work that I find fitting to my nature and so even enjoy, though I’m guarded as to who I admit that to; some are pained at the very thought; they are relieved they are not harnessed to such menial work.

But it’s in me to do this, at the same time often feeling… Lord, is my labour in vain? It seems to fall, oh so short of the word of God that is needed in this desperate hour.

I was praying along this line a few days ago when I became aware of a gentle correction from my Lord—that the word of teaching is the portion He has given me as part of a greater work. The ox that treads out the corn isn’t seeing the finished product; that is yet to come. And will certainly come. The very reason for which the ox must do his part.

And so let me do that; let me do my teaching part, small though it be. Hopefully it will prepare the hearts of the saints for the greater word of God that I know is surely, most surely building pressure, and cannot help but soon burst forth.

Let me tell you, then, of an experience I had recently. I was happily treading out the grain. I was reading an old book a friend gave me called Word Meanings in the New Testament (Volume 3, Romans) by Ralph Earle. He made a comment regarding the word oracles in Romans 3:2, stating that this word in its plural form means “the words or utterances of God.” Earle enlarged on that, adding something about the word in its singular form:

Logion [the singular] literally means “a little word” or “a brief utterance.” By Greek writers it was used of divine oracles, since they were usually brief. In the Septuagint it was used for the breastplate of the high priest, which he must wear when seeking to find out God’s will. It is always related to the idea of God speaking.

Isn’t that fascinating?

Well… let me tread it out; hopefully then you’ll share my excitement.

We first read of the breastplate of the high priest back in Exodus Chapter 28, where it is called in most of our English translations “the breastplate of judgment.” The words come from two Hebrew words which transliterated into English are khoshen, breastplate. And mishpat, judgment.

Strong’s Concordance has this to say about khoshen.

From an unused root probably meaning to contain or sparkle; perhaps a pocket (as holding the Urim and Thummim), or rich (as containing gems), used only of the gorget of the high priest.

The word mishpat, means “right, decision of right,” according to Old Testament commentators Keil and Delitzsch. Or again from Strong’s:

Properly a verdict (favorable or unfavorable) pronounced judicially, especially a sentence or formal decree… abstractly justice, including a particular right, or privilege…

It seems to me that the Septuagint translators (who translated the Hebrew scriptures into Greek around 200 BC) ought to have translated the Hebrew words khoshen and mishpat with whatever the Greek is for “pocket of judgment” or “gems of judgment,” or something like that. Why then, did they choose λογειο͂ν τῶν κρίσεωον (logeiōn tōn kriseōon) that is, oracle of judgment? There is no semantic reason why they should have translated the Hebrew khoshen with the Greek logeiōn.

Let’s see now why it’s likely that they did so.

The breastplate was a kind of purse or pouch the high priest wore upon his breast over the ephod. It wasn’t really a plate; it was intricately woven of the same fine linen material as the ephod, and folded double to form the pouch about nine inches square. The ephod itself was a garment the priests wore; it was a kind of servant’s apron uniquely proclaiming and qualifying them as servants in the priestly service of God. (This calls to mind the servant’s apron of humility Peter spoke of, 1 Pt. 5:5.) Into the breastplate the Urim and Thummim were placed. These are Hebrew plural words meaning lights and perfections. We are never told just what they were, but possessing the Urim and Thummim meant the certainty of the priest receiving a clear and specific and authoritative word from God—an oracle. And that is no doubt why the Septuagint translators chose for the breastplate the word logeiōn (which is built upon the Greek logos—word).

They are meaningful and beautiful words, then. The oracle of judgment.

Now, the oracle of Urim and Thummim was not primarily for the priest himself; he received the word on behalf of the people of God. Scripture carefully details this point; this was the purpose of the breastplate of judgment. It was for the priest on behalf of the people relative to the purposes of God. In fact, the breastplate was secured to the ephod, the priestly apron, with blue lace at its bottom edge, and gold chains from its top to two shoulder pieces that it “be not loosed from the ephod” (Ex. 28:28), demonstrating that it was not to be used for any other purpose.

The shoulder pieces were made of two onyx stones inscribed, six on each stone, with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. The breastplate also had on it the names of the twelve tribes inscribed on gemstones.

And Aaron shall bear their names before the LORD upon his two shoulders for a memorial (Ex. 28:12).

And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart when he goeth in unto the holy place, for a memorial before the LORD continually (Ex. 28:29).

And thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim; and they shall be on Aaron’s heart, when he goeth in before the LORD: and Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before the LORD continually (Ex. 28:30).

And so the high priest with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel on his heart (the place of love) and on his shoulders (the place of strength) carried the judgment, the cause, of the people of God before the Lord. And was therefore assured of a clear, authoritative oracle from God. That is the very beautiful picture—and it is but a picture; this is all a highly symbolic portrayal of a powerful spiritual reality.

The reality is this (and let us meditate on those words in Exodus with this reality in mind):

We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the majesty in the heavens… (Heb. 8:1).

For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are figures of the true; but into heaven itself, there to appear in the presence of God for us… (Heb. 9:24).

The Urim and Thummim are His.

In view of this, it’s very enlightening that the initial revelation of the preparation of the priests states that it was Aaron the high priest who was to wear the ephod and the breastplate of judgment with its Urim and Thummim. “…They shall be upon Aaron’s heart when he goeth in before the LORD.” It doesn’t appear that Aaron’s sons were fitted with ephods and breastplates of their own (Ex. 28:40, see also Lev. 8:6-14 ff), although later in the scriptural record we read of priests who wore ephods. Aaron’s sons, then, were priests only inasmuch as they were participants in Aaron’s priesthood.

The significance of this for you and me is that it is our great High priest the Lord Jesus Christ who in the throne of God wears the ephod and has on His heart the breastplate in which are the names of the people of God. It is He who has the Urim and Thummim. He is not just a king on the throne of God, He is also a priest upon that throne: He is deeply indentified with those for whom He is making continual intercession before the throne. He bears our names in His heart and upon our shoulders—I will say further, upon His hands—having made our cause His own.

And His fellow priests are vital participants in His priesthood. Yes, it is He, the Holy One, who has the Urim and Thummim, the authoritative, pure, clear word of God in power for every need of this hour. It is He, the great high priest over the house of God, who has the word of grace needed to fulfill the cause of the people of God, and He will not fail to release that word, to reveal it, to the glory of God. But just as Aaron’s sons were sanctified to be participants in his priesthood, so too we who are sanctified by the Holy Spirit, being thereby made one with our great High Priest in the heavens, are participants in His priesthood. He shares with us that same priestly burden, and provision, for the people of God (Heb. 3:1, 10:19-22).

And so, dear saints of the Lord, partakers of His heavenly calling, let us be encouraged in this hour. Let us do as we are bidden; let us continue to draw near, draw near, draw near, with a true heart in full assurance of faith, that He might commune with us the same Urim and Thummim that are upon His own heart. God has this for His beloved people in this hour. Those who draw nigh Him on behalf of others are assured of the very oracle of God shining forth in this dark and desperate hour. That—the hour that is upon us—is particularly what is on my heart. No doubt we have known this precious oracle of judgment in countless ways, yet I tell you brothers and sisters, my friends, dear saints of the Lord, there is a word-in-waiting in God, hidden in the breastplate of our beloved high priest, and though it has tarried long, it shall not fail to come forth in this desperate hour, shall not fail to burst forth with explosive power and meet the cry of our heart exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think.

The Lamb Is My Shepherd

In the following devotional the personal pronoun “I” has been used. Dear reader, if you are one of the sheep of His pasture, you are invited to take this “I” unto yourself. If you are not one of the sheep of His pasture, oh, become one!

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 I have a loving Shepherd of my soul, who, when I had gotten myself very lost (as all we of Adam’s race do) went as far as a hill called Calvary to find me in a valley called Sin and Death.

My Shepherd had to die to come to me where I was—dead in trespasses and sins.

Then, the God of peace brought again from the dead that great Shepherd of the sheep—my Lord Jesus Christ—in the blood of an everlasting covenant.

When He arose He brought me up with Him: He took me up in His arms and carried me in His bosom, and brought me out from that desolate valley into a green pasture called Resurrection Life, a high mountain pasture where, as the Lamb in the midst of the throne of God, He continues to shepherd me, by His Spirit leading me daily to fountains of living waters. I thirst no more. I hunger no more. I walk with Him daily in newness of life—His life. The blazing sun does not beat down upon me, nor any heat, for He who sits on the Throne has spread the shady Tabernacle of Himself over me.

This Lamb who gave Himself for me is my shepherd, the overseer of my soul. He watches over me daily, keeping me, protecting me from marauding lions and bears. He causes me to lie down in His green pastures of living truth. He leads me beside the waters of rest. Daily He restores my soul, provisioning me afresh with all I need to do His will, working in me what is wellpleasing in His sight.

He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His own Names’ sake.  Leads me, I say. For He Himself is ever with me. Yes, even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death with evil about me on every hand, I fear no evil. For, now I am no longer a subject under the shadow, the domain, of King Death. My Lamb-Shepherd has redeemed me from that king, and now, just as the children of Israel lived securely “under the shadow” of their kings, I live under the shadow of the Anointed King Jesus, the breath of my nostrils, whose shadow is the reign of grace, of righteousness and peace, of life and light and liberty.

And so we walk together, my Shepherd and I, He leading, and I following, in the Pathway He has chosen for us through the valley of the shadow of death. No longer a resident here, I am just passing through.

My Shepherd King is with me. So I fear no evil. He has a rod and a staff, and they comfort me—the rod to deal with my enemies, or to correct me when I need it myself, and a staff that sustains me, holds me up.

He prepares a table before me in the very presence of my enemies, who, though they continue to roar and threaten, can no longer torment me with fear.

The head of my Shepherd-king is anointed with oil, and that oil flows down upon my head, making me a king too.

It is all too, too much. His cup, my cup, runs over.

My Shepherd the Lamb of God went as far as Calvary and the grave to seek out and find this lamb. What comfort—to continue to lean on Him and trust Him daily in every circumstance great or small. He—my Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd and Bishop of my soul, “has come into my circumstances with divine and tender love, making Himself acquainted with all the little details of my life; and He has brought me, in the power of the Holy Spirit, in endless life, into His own magnificent circumstances, where I enjoy the light of His countenance… where I am the delight of His heart.” (J.B. Stoney)

Now, instead of my enemies pursuing me relentlessly every day, His goodness and His mercy pursue me all the days of my life.

I shall be dwelling in the House of my Shepherd forever. I know and trust that as I do so, God will, in His time, wipe away each and every tear from my eyes.

(Psalm 23; Hebrews 13:20,21; 1 Peter 2:25; Revelation 7:15-17; Lamentations 4:20)