TEXT FOR PRAYER
Willing To Be Made Willing
I shall read from “The Mount of Blessing,” beginning on page 204, the first paragraph:
“The victory is not won without much earnest prayer, without the humbling of self at every step. Our will is not to be forced into cooperation with divine agencies, but it must be voluntarily submitted. Were it possible to force upon you with a hundred-fold greater intensity the influence of the Spirit of God, it would not make you a Christian, a fit subject for heaven.… The will must be placed on the side of God’s will. You are not able, of yourself, to bring your purposes and desires and inclinations into submission to the will of God; but if you are ‘willing to be made willing,’ God will accomplish the work for you.… But many are attracted by the beauty of Christ and the glory of heaven, who yet shrink from the conditions by which alone these can become their own.…To renounce their own will, their chosen objects of affection or pursuit, requires a sacrifice at which they hesitate, and falter, and turn back. Many ‘will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.’“
What are we to pray for this evening? – Let us remember that self is the only barrier between us and God, and that God will never force us to come to Him. Let us ask Him for power to use the grace He so freely provides. He would not have made us free moral agents if He did not expect us to use our wills. We should ask Him to help us to be “willing to be made willing,” and then join our wills to His, and so “work out our own salvation.” We need the strength of God to resist all evil, to overcome the world as Jesus overcame.
We shall study the sixty-first chapter of Isaiah, beginning with the first verse:
Isa. 61:1, 2 – “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me; because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn.”
These are the two verses which Jesus read as He stood in the synagogue of the city of Nazareth, the place where He was brought up. He read these verses and then sat down without making any comments. As His listeners were still in a stupor as to why He had read and then had sat down without adding a word, Jesus arose again and said, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.”
The reason given for the Spirit’s power upon Him is that the Lord God had anointed Him to preach good tidings unto the meek, implying that if the Lord had not anointed Him to preach, the Spirit of the Lord would not have been on Him. Moreover, He was anointed to preach to the meek, to those who are not self-sufficient, not high-minded, but humble and teachable; the other class could not be taught. He was to comfort all that mourn, to bind the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives (not to free them immediately). “The acceptable year of the Lord” is, of course, the time in which the scripture is fulfilled, the time it is unsealed and proclaimed. Those who give no heed to it are to be swept away in the “day of vengeance.” These were the good tidings for which Jesus was anointed. Unbelief and indifference in revealed Truth is an insult to God and a sin against the Holy Ghost Who leads into all Truth.
Simply because the Saviour preached these two verses, however, we must not conclude that the whole chapter was then fulfilled or that the fulfillment of these two verses could not again be fulfilled at the time the rest of the chapter is fulfilled. As the same Spirit was also upon the Apostles – upon those who furthered the Lord’s message in that day, so also it must be in this day, in the day the whole chapter is fulfilled.
The duty of those who proclaim this chapter’s message is:
Verse 3 – “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, 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.”
The burden of the Spirit is to improve the spiritual conditions of those who mourn in Zion, the church: to give them beauty for ashes (for repentance and humbleness), oil of joy for mourning (Present Truth that hopefully lightens the rest of the way) and garments (character) of praise so that they be as living ornaments of righteousness, a new creation of God, that He be glorified.
Here is seen that the original creation of God which has been lost through sin, is to be restored. Now is the acceptable day to open your heart, to take in present Truth, to recreate and restore that which was lost through sin.
Verse 4 – “And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.”
Those who are made glad and beautiful, who are clothed with praise and who become trees of righteousness – the planting of the Lord. His triumphant servants, the guileless Ezras and Nehemiahs of today, are to restore all things.
Verse 5 – “And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.”
The strangers and aliens here mentioned, are of course not strangers and aliens to the Kingdom of God, but to the nation not a blood relation to Judah and Israel, not of the stock of Jacob, not of the 144,000 who first stand on Mount Zion, but with them.
Verse 6 – “But ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.”
In the forthcoming antitypical Kingdom of Judah, therefore, there shall be two groups of people – ministers and laity.
From these scriptures we see that the Kingdom of God, the church purified, free from “tares” is a real thing. It is not something imaginary, not something foamy floating and lost in space, but right here on earth.
Verse 7 – “For your shame ye shall have double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be unto them.”
These ministers of God are to have double because of the shame which they have endured, all such rejoice in their portion. Are you disposed to suffer for Christ’s sake? Are you like or unlike those who seek joy and friendship from the world and who sooner or later are to find themselves in great disappointment? Believe! that is all.
Verse 8 – “For I the Lord love judgment, I hate robbery for burnt offering; and I will direct their work in Truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.”
Judgment and justice is God’s motto for all His creatures. The statement, “I hate robbery for burnt offering,” implies that such unbecoming things are now practiced among His people. In this connection, some years ago I heard a certain member of the church say that in some kind of gambling he had won a little money and as his conscience hurt him to keep it, he gave it as an offering to His church! Also, I have heard several say that they work on the Sabbath, but that they turn the Sabbath’s earnings over to the church! These incidents may serve as samples of how foolish, how uneducated in the things of God are the people of God. By bringing such offerings to Him they are making God a gambler and a Sabbath-breaker, and at the same time they imagine that they are doing Him a great favor!
God’s promise to His people is: “I will direct their work in Truth.” Are we then to question His ability to perform and at the same time expect Him to give us a home in His Kingdom?
Verse 9 – “And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed.”
What a blessed hope! What a power to save both the young and the old and to make their names known world-wide! For such a fame as this, people would go through almost any torture known to mankind. God, though, is only asking you to believe and to comply with His Word, – yes, that is all.
Christianity is to become a real thing, so real that the Gentiles will acknowledge that such Christians can only be the planting of the Lord, and that only the power of God can bring such a change in the human heart, and cause His saints to say:
Verse 10 – “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.”
This chapter of Isaiah the prophet is indeed to bring “revival and reformation” such as has never taken place since the beginning of sin. God forbid that any one of us should miss the experience and the blessings that come through this revival and reformation.
Verse 11 – “For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.”
Through the seed of Truth in the heart this experience will come to God’s people as naturally as does the earth cause the seed sown in it to bud and bring forth fruit. This is indeed the “righteousness of Christ,” not the might of men.
Summing up this study, we learn that the fruits of the anointed One are these:
That Jesus was anointed to preach the good news, news that He was to open the prison door of sin, to bind up the wounds of God’s people, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, to comfort those who mourn, and to give all an opportunity to escape “the day of vengeance”; that because He was thus anointed He was fitted to comfort them that mourn in Zion, to bring beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the gift of praise in place of heaviness, that they might be called “trees of righteousness,” and that God might thereby be glorified; that through the gift of the Spirit His people shall be enabled to build up the desolated places of many generations; that those who are called now are to be ministers of God “and they shall eat the riches of the Gentiles,” and glory in them, and “strangers and aliens” shall be their shepherds and “vinedressers”; that then their shame and confusion will be changed into everlasting joy; that as God hates robbery, He will direct the work in Truth and make an everlasting covenant with them that know Him; that then their seed shall be known to the Gentiles and among the people and they will acknowledge that God has blessed His people; that because the anointed One clothes His people with the garment of salvation, and the robe of righteousness, the testimony of His children will be, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord”; and as a bride adorns herself with jewels so the spiritual adornments, given through these gifts will bring on the “revival and reformation”; and that, as nature brings to fruition the seed sown in the ground, so the anointed One will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all nations.
“Ample provisions have been made for all who sincerely, earnestly, and thoughtfully set about the work of perfecting holiness in the fear of God. Strength, grace, and glory have been provided through Christ, to be brought by ministering angels to the heirs of salvation. None are so low, so corrupt and vile, that they cannot find in Jesus, who died for them, strength, purity, and righteousness, if they will put away their sins, cease their course of iniquity, and turn with full purpose of heart to the living God. He is waiting to strip them of their garments, stained and polluted by sin, and to put upon them the white, bright robes of righteousness; and he bids them live and not die. In him they may flourish. Their branches will not wither nor be fruitless. If they abide in him, they can draw sap and nourishment from him, be imbued with his Spirit, walk even as he walked, overcome as he overcame, and be exalted to his own right hand.” – “Testimonies,” Vol. 2, pg. 453.