KINGDOM BIBLE STUDIES
"Teaching the things concerning the kingdom of God..."
TO BE THE LORD’S PRAYER
OUR DAILY BREAD
"After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven...Give us this day our daily bread" (Mat. 6:11).
There are strange circumstances surrounding this word "daily." What is "daily bread"? The Greek word translated "daily" is a coined word. It is not found elsewhere in the New Testament. It is not found in the Greek translation of the Old Testament. It is not found in Greek literature, either in the works of classical writers or in the common speech of the uneducated. Scholars suggest various shades of meaning for the word. The four primary ones are: (1) daily bread (2) necessary bread (3) dependable bread (4) bread for the morrow. While different scholars give different theories or evidence for their particular interpretation of the term, the fact is, there is merit in them all! As we meditate upon these significant words of our Lord it will, I believe, become clear that each of these meanings is in one way or another contained within the idea of "daily bread". Whether it means "daily bread" or "necessary bread", or "dependable bread" or "tomorrow’s bread", the fundamental principle is the same — everything comes from Father’s gracious hand as needed and we receive it humbly and thankfully out of a heart of absolute trust!
When Moses was leading the children of Israel through the wilderness toward the Promised Land, there came the time when it looked as if the people would die of starvation. Then we read the story of the manna. When the people asked what it was — that strange substance lying on the early morning ground — Moses told them, "It is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat...gather of it, every man of you, as much as he can eat; you shall take an Omer apiece, according to the number of persons whom each of you has in his tent." It is described in the book of Exodus as "a fine, flake-like thing, fine as hoar-frost." Significant is the fact that during the period the children of Israel subsisted on manna they were to eat their daily allotment the same day, and eat of it fully, for if anyone would not eat all of it, or if he attempted to hoard his surplus, it decomposed with supernatural rapidity. Only enough for the day, gathered morning by morning, was the divine order. It was natural for some of them to want to put away a little for the coming days, but God arranged it in such a way that it could not be done — the manna spoiled and bred worms. The only exception was on the sixth day — on that day they could gather twice as much for both the sixth day and the Sabbath, tomorrow’s bread today, and it kept fresh through both days. Truly this is a beautiful picture of DAILY BREAD!
As in the natural, so in the spiritual. The supply of yesterday will not do for today, anymore than yesterday’s dinner will suffice us for today’s work. You cannot live on yesterday’s revelation, for it was strength only for that day. You cannot live on the memory of past spiritual experiences. You cannot live on the lingering aroma of blessed fellowship you had with the Lord in days gone by. You cannot live on the recollection of mercies and miracles received in previous moves of God. For every day you need fresh grace and a new dimension of glory. The manna of old only held good for one day. It had to be gathered fresh every morning. The manna of one day grew corrupt and worthless before the next. And we wonder why the glory of yesterday’s visitation has faded! We are disturbed because the move of God of yesterday has been polluted in the hands of men! Yesterday’s visitation of the Spirit is a stench in our nostrils today. The glory has departed. The memory is sweet, but the body is dead, lifeless, empty, a cesspool of corruption. All the great moves of God of bygone generations are become the swaggering harlot. All the filthiness of the Babylonian church system is but the worm-ridden manna given by God for another time.
Well did brother Carl Schwing write: "Allow me to write freely and I would speak gently and lovingly...my brethren, if your soul still feeds upon the ‘wilderness manna’...finding nourishment in the past message...you fall short of your calling and cannot see afar off. You are pressing backward rather than pressing on...and you are still following man rather than the Lamb. All that we hope for, hunger for, and moan for is found in sonship, and sonship comes forth from the Father...sonship is the very image of the Father...and who but He has the words of life? I do not write of tomorrow or someday...I write of today...for it is today that the Father walks among us...sonship is part of God’s Now...we are being born by Him, from Him and for Him...this marvelous delivery is in the process. He is offering us ‘eternal life’...alas, some shall be offended...others will turn and walk no more...but there are the ‘faithful few’ who will know that He alone speaks life-giving words."
Jesus came into the world in the time of the Roman Empire. He was crucified on a Roman cross, pierced with a Roman spear, and sealed in His sepulcher under a Roman seal. But praise God! He burst the bands of death, shattered the seal of mighty Rome, and arose the conquering Christ. And not only that — He ascended Victor over all the powers of darkness, having brought to naught the prince of this world, having brought in eternal redemption for a lost world and redeemed all back unto Himself. He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high and poured out upon the first few citizens of His Kingdom the gift of the Holy Ghost. The Kingdom of God was birthed, and gathered from Jew and Gentile alike a vast multitude into its bosom. What a flood of light and glory and power fell upon the world in the ministry of the humble followers of the Lamb!
And what glorious days those were! How God blessed His people! Mighty signs and wonders were performed as God confirmed His Word with signs following. The Word of God, anointed by the Holy Spirit, swept the world like a prairie fire. It encircled the mountains and crossed the oceans. It made kings to tremble and tyrants to fear. It was said of those early Christians that they had turned the world upside down! — so powerful was their message and spirit. In spite of persecution, in spite of untold thousands of saints impaled upon crosses, burnt at the stake, and fed to hungry lions to the thunderous applause of wild spectators, it grew and multiplied, for God dwelt mightily in the midst of His people. The knowledge of the glory of the Lord covered the earth as the waters cover the sea. Paganism fell. The mighty Roman Empire shut up its idol temples, sheathed its persecuting sword, and sat down as a disciple at the feet of Christ and His apostles.
But there was another spirit at work too. A spirit and system set in among the saints of the Lord and the manna of yesterday began to breed worms and stink. Refusing to follow on to know the Lord they began instituting rules and regulations, laying down laws, formulating creeds, observing days, ordaining sacraments and ordinances, elevating human government, becoming disciples of Paul, of Apollos, of Cephas, and many others. Before too many years had passed men began to set themselves up as "bishops" and "lords" over God’s heritage in place of the leadership of the Spirit. Instead of conquering by the power of the Spirit and Truth, men began to substitute their ideas and their methods. Soon the glory and power, the presence and word of God in the morning time Church began to be eclipsed, and the power of carnal-minded men gradually took the place of the awesome presence of God. Consequently man’s carnal understanding was put upon the scriptures and as the Spirit of Christ fled from their midst, men established a vast and elaborate system of substitutes (worms) to take their place. The festivals of the Church were created, along the lines of pagan celebrations. Costly and ornate edifices were constructed for worship. The services became ceremonialized and elaborate. Relics of saints and martyrs were cherished as sacred possessions. The Church, with its array of gaudily bedecked clergy and of imposing ceremonies, assumed much of the stateliness and visible splendor that belonged to the HEATHEN SYSTEM that it had supplanted. Christianity was now a pageant, a ritualism, a vain philosophy, a superstition, a social club, indeed, an antichrist, a pot full of manna infested with the worms of carnality and death, a putrefying stench in the nostrils of God!
The great moves of God in our own generation fared no better. Already (in such a short time!) they have become an abomination. They have been taken over by the flesh and it pains me to say it, but one and all have settled into stagnation and death. None has pressed on to GO ALL THE WAY WITH GOD. Oh, they still go through the motions of yesterday’s visitation, but the so-called gifts of the Spirit they tout are a pitiful sham. People are "slain in the Spirit" through psychological inducement and mass hypnosis, and sometimes even pushed. Worship has become soulish and mechanical, people having "learned" to sing the song of the Lord after the song has ended. The prophesyings bear the distinctive sound of a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. Numerous groups have been brought under the domination of false apostles, while others have fallen victim to a sectarian spirit — "We, and we alone, are the body of Christ; we are the sons of God; we are the manchild company; we are the kings and priests after the Order of Melchizedek; our movement is the select of the elect that will bring in the Kingdom and rule the nations with a rod of iron." There was a great move of the Spirit beginning in 1948 called "Latter Rain". Its days were like heaven on earth, its glory unspeakable, its power earth-shattering. Within a few years the rain ended, yet to this day there are people out there still "dancing in the rain," not having noticed that the clouds have dispersed, the sun is burning, and the rain is over. They go through the motions, but there is death and emptiness in the midst — the worms are obvious to all who can see by the Spirit.
I do not hesitate to tell you that one and all are pots of putrefying manna left over from yesterday’s outpouring. You see, my beloved, every day you need a new gift of grace, a deeper dealing of God, a fresh word from the throne, a further revelation of the Spirit, a greater dimension of Life. The manna is only good for one day — for one step in your forward journey into God. You must get it fresh every day! This is the prayer for you and me, for all who treasure the beautiful hope of sonship — "Give us this day our daily bread." GIVE! Yes, this is a gift. You cannot buy the bread of life. Its price has never been quoted in the markets. No money can purchase reality. God never sells. God is a King, He gives. Buy? No, you cannot buy. You may buy books and sermons and papers and tapes from preachers who haven’t learned the ways of the Kingdom. You may even buy a "prophecy" or a "blessing" from the false prophets who peddle them in return for your offering. But you cannot buy the Word of Life!
Can you buy pardon? Can you buy peace? Can you buy righteousness? Can you buy sonship? Can you buy the mind of Christ? Can you buy the image of God? Can you buy the Kingdom? No, you cannot buy; but what you cannot buy God will give. Listen, "It is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom." Listen again, "Everyone that thirsteth, let him come and take of the water of life freely." Listen yet again, "The gift of God is eternal life." Giving! This is royal giving. There is in the Father’s house enough and to spare. He is only waiting to hear you say, "Evermore give us this bread."
One of the alternate renderings of the Greek word EPIOUSION is "bread for the morrow" or "tomorrow’s bread". The inference is that we should ask for tomorrow’s bread today. This principle does not involve asking for a fortune, or for accumulated wealth. We are not asking God to let us corner the food market. And what is the bread of tomorrow? It is THE LIFE OF THE AGE TO COME. The writer to the Hebrews tells us that already we have "tasted of the powers of the age to come" (Heb. 6:4). Even in this present life we are to seek "the life of the ages," as the Greek expresses it. The work and power and glory of the ages to come may not be evident in the lives of ordinary believers, but the sons of God are to ask for that life NOW, for that is the life that will carry us over the grave into the age and the ages to come. We can have a clear revelation and understanding of God’s purpose of the ages that will lift us out of the natural realm and above the time-worn traditions of the church systems, birthing within our hearts the larger vision of God’s great and glorious plan. Out of God’s wonderful tomorrow comes the manifestation of life in our today! Our daily bread, then, should exceed the portion of past generations. There is no excuse for us to be in a spiritual famine — for abundance of bread is ours for the taking. The feast is prepared, the table is spread, and the call has come from the Spirit, "Come and dine!"
Jesus was telling the disciples that what this present arrangement has for today is not sufficient for God’s chosen ones. The elect of God must have their food and their life and their activity from THE AGE TO COME. For two thousand years we have had the bread of this age, the gospel that has been preached in the church realm. Multitudes have been saved, changed, blessed, cleansed, baptized, endowed with gifts, healed, and used of God. Yet, the world is more wicked, violent and godless today than in any previous generation! Though men have received blessings and healings and miracles galore, they have continued to live carnally, they still get sick, they are unceasingly beset by problems and troubles, pain and heartaches, they keep on aging and finally go to the grave. This explains why, after two millenniums of our "daily bread," all creation is still groaning and travailing in pain together with earnest expectation, waiting for the MANIFESTATION OF THE SONS OF GOD. Only the manifestation of God’s sons will finally deliver the creation from the bondage that brings corruption and death, delivering mankind into the glorious liberty that belongs to the sons of God (Rom. 8:19-22).
The gospel preached by the nominal church will never get the job done, it will never bring the Kingdom of God in power to deliver mankind from sin and death and restore all things to God. The church world is using worldly means and soulish methods to promote its programs today. It is conformed unto the world’s way of doing things. This is true not only of the historic denominations, but also the Pentecostals, Charismatics, and, alas! some groups who profess to be "deeper life," "Kingdom," or "sonship" people. Churches compete against one another, who can have the most in Sunday School, who can build the biggest building, who can win the most souls, which evangelist can draw the largest crowds, each one pointing to the success of their ministry, glorying in the size of their outreach or work, stressing how much could be accomplished with more money, and to hear them tell it just about the whole world is being brought to the feet of Jesus through their efforts. The church world today is totally conformed to the world’s way of doing things. Because of that it is really no better off than the world it is trying so desperately to save.
Because the average Christian today has been brought up with a center other than Christ he is totally unable to think except in terms of established orders, sects, denominations, credentials, creeds, assemblies, church buildings, doctrines, meetings, communions, baptisms, programs, campaigns, crusades, choirs, pastors, rituals, ceremonies, vestments, offerings, drives, conferences, board meetings, committees, elections, Sunday Schools, theological seminaries, fellowship halls, stained glass windows, platforms, special numbers and a thousand other items. Take all these things away from them and they would be spiritually destitute, totally incapable of "doing the work of the Lord." But after they have spent a whole lifetime of this feverish church activity, how many people are there who have ever taken time to wait on God long enough to HEAR HIM SPEAK AND DIVULGE HIS WILL TO THEIR SEEKING HEARTS? I declare to you of a truth that any man or woman who will take the time to seek God and God alone, hungering and thirsting after God’s mind and God’s will — that man will find himself drifting away from all the aforementioned things and from then on the MIND OF CHRIST will be his program, his quest, his eternal joy. And lest any think we are being brash or heretical to even suggest a departure from those things listed above, I invite you to carefully examine that list to determine which one of them Jesus Christ had, used, or even needed in His wonderful sonship ministry! It is astonishing to realize that Jesus knew absolutely nothing of any of it, yet He more effectively ministered the life of God, the power of God, the glory of God and the Kingdom of God than any man who has graced this planet! And I do not hesitate to add — strip all of these away from a son of God and what he will have left is CHRIST. Only Christ! Think of it!
In order to minister "tomorrow’s bread" to the apprehended of God, we must go beyond this world, and this age, and the present arrangement, and draw living words from the age to come. We are even now tasting of the powers of the age to come. It is out of that age that we draw the firstfruits of the Spirit which we have received. Christ is indeed complete and perfect; yet we have known Christ in a limited measure. So far as the Lord Himself is concerned, He is not limited at all, but as far as our experience of Him is concerned, there is limitation. Christ is no less today than He will be in that glorious age of the ages when the Kingdom is delivered up to the Father and God is All-in-all, but our present measure of Him is less than All-in-all. But the measure we have is out of His fullness — the fullness reserved for a future time. I hate to say it friends, but none of us is FULL GOSPEL — yet!
From the time we first experienced Christ, we have always been progressing and advancing; we have continually made progress in our experience of Christ and received of Him more and more. This does not mean that Christ has become greater and greater. No, Christ is the same yesterday, today, and for the ages, He changes not! But as we grow in our appropriation of Him He becomes greater and greater TO US, IN US, AND THROUGH US. There is a realm, blessed realm! where Christ is known as the inexhaustible and unmeasurable, where all fullness dwells.
Oh, what a grand and glorious realm lies before us in the fullness of God! The day of the full fruit of the Spirit! The day of Perfection! The time of full and complete Redemption — spirit, soul, and body! The full and complete experiencing of HIMSELF! The fullness of Strength and Power and Glory! The Feast of Feasts! The strange part of the whole thing is this, that the whole purpose and plan of God for this day and hour is completely obscured and lost amidst the shout and euphoria over the "firstfruits," and most of the Pentecostals and Charismatics do not know what it is all about. They can see the healings, deliverances, miracles, prophecies, worship...and so forth; and they understand not that it is God in His great mercy inviting His people to enter on in to their full inheritance. They do not realize that all this is but the foretaste and earnest of their heritage, and that God bids them arise and come away with Him to the Great Feast that lies before! How deeply we are exercised to pray, "Our Father...give us tomorrow’s bread TODAY!" Blessed are they that are called to this great Feast, that which supersedes Pentecost, that which is the BALANCE OF THE MEAL of which Passover and Pentecost were merely the first courses! And the balance must therefore come, the remainder of the meal that will enable the sons of God to deliver creation from the tyranny of corruption and death. But only those will enter in to lay hold upon the prize who are moved mightily by the Spirit of God to earnestly and sincerely pray, "Give us tomorrow’s bread TODAY!"
There are three levels at which this prayer may be understood and experienced. The completely natural-minded believer can get the lesson from the prayer Jesus taught that he is just to ask for those outward, physical blessings that he needs today. The vast majority of Christians live out their lives in this realm. Childishness in prayer is chiefly evidenced in an over desire or a desire only to beg things from God rather than desiring above all else the LORD HIMSELF. The same growth must take place in the life of every son and daughter of God that occurs in a normal relationship between a child and his parents. At first the child wants the parents’ gifts, and thinks of the parents primarily in terms of the things that they do and provide for his pleasure and comfort. He is not able yet to appreciate the parents’ personalities. A sure sign of a wholesome maturity is found in the child’s deepening understanding of the parents themselves — his increasing delight in their fellowship, thankfulness for their care, acceptance of their ideals, reliance on their counsel, and joy in their approval. The child grows from desiring things from his parents into love of his parents for their own sakes. He is then able to enter into a partnership with them in their business with all the respect and responsibility called for.
The man with a little more spiritual perception can get the lesson from the prayer Jesus taught that he is to ask God for His living bread, His living word. This man discovers the value of spiritual life above and beyond material blessing. He sets his affection on things above, not on things on the earth; he seeks God Himself, not the things of God.
Those who have been apprehended of God for His purposes in this hour now see an even greater truth. In this glorious transition from realm to realm we hear a Voice saying, "Come up hither! and I will show you the things that follow all this." Here in the son realm we realize that we must have the LIFE OF THE COMING AGE if we are to lay hold upon the fullness of our sonship and the power of the Kingdom of God. We must receive more than has been given to the Church age. This age has not brought the fullness of God, nor has it ministered the redemption of the body, nor has it produced the manifested sons of God, nor has it delivered the creation from the bondage of corruption. To know the power and glory of full sonship with the redemption of the body and power to rule the nations and restore all things WE MUST DRAW ON THE AGE TO COME. Our prayer becomes, "Give us tomorrow’s bread TODAY!"
We have heard many so-called Gospels. The world is full of poor deluded souls who are trying to establish their own particular creed of imaginings and mistakes. We try to go to the world, we try to tell them the message, by using all the world’s own methods, to advertise, to appeal to their emotions, to entertain them with music, to put on a good show. It only proves our impotence, that we have not left the world very far behind if we can return and employ the world’s ways so easily. Today, everyone with a little bit of preacher’s "itch" is attempting to get themselves a little congregation, a little following, to build a little kingdom. These all imagine that somehow they are going to go out and storm the world and "take the world" for Christ. But a new day has dawned, a day when the pure and powerful Gospel of the Kingdom must go forth to the whole world. Religionists have tried in vain to lift the world out of its shame by their ambitious programs and preaching their own ideas and the doctrines of the antichrist. It simply would not work. The world has grown steadily worse. Their lofty phrases, and text-book prayers, and apologetic platitudes, and time-honored traditions, and soulish manipulations have utterly failed. Now a new company is to go forth with a burning message of truth direct from the throne, and in the fullness of power reserved for this day.
The anointing of the sons of God shall be an anointing WITHOUT MEASURE, and the message of these sons shall be a message stripped of all the ineffectual absurdities that have been preached throughout the years. Religionists have side-stepped, and mollycoddled, and back-slapped too long. Their day is done. The sun is sinking in the western sky of this age of the "in part" realm. A new day is dawning for those who have been quickened from above. A new army is being prepared for this new day, an army of the sons of God perfected in His image, filled with the precious mind that was in Christ Jesus, radiating the effulgence of His glory, demonstrating the omnipotence of His power and the invincibility of His life. And there shall be an exultant victory! For now the day is dawning when "ALL nations shall come and worship before Thee" (Rev. 15:4). "And...all nations...shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to KEEP THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES" (Zech. 14:16). It cannot be denied by any that throughout this age all the nations that have come to worship the Lord have worshipped Him in the feasts of Passover and Pentecost. But there is a day, glorious day! when all the nations shall know the Lord and feast with Him in the blessing and glory that flows from the FEAST OF TABERNACLES! This is the day of the double manna.
I believe I speak the truth when I say that many of us have reached the point of no return — there is nothing to go back to, not in the flesh, not in the world, not in the church systems; there is nothing out of which we have been drawn by the Spirit of God to which we would return; it is all so empty, so meaningless, lifeless, worthless. Now we must FOLLOW ON TO KNOW THE LORD IN HIS FULLNESS. It is vain to come out, unless we are committed to enter in. We are committed to a course which cannot be altered, for it is fixed in its destination — His throne! "To Him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne" (Rev. 3:21).
We do not desire the throne for what we can get out of it, for our own fame and fortune, but for the infinite potential it holds for blessing and restoring creation. Today the world is full of broken hearts, the hospitals are crowded, the cemeteries are being filled, even nature itself is groaning. You go down to the seaside and you can hear the sob of the waves, you go to the mountains and you can hear the low sigh of the wind in the tree tops, you walk through the forest and you can hear the anguished shrieks of the animal kingdom. Creation is groaning, waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God.
It is not more preachers we need. It is not more radio broadcasts or television programs. It is not more missions and missionaries. It is not more tracts or even Bibles. It is not more programs and crusades. It is not another revival. All we need is the cry of the groaning creation and the prayer of the travailing saint to be joined with the unutterable longings of the Holy Spirit, all crying in unison and harmony for the manifestation of the sons of God. There is an elect people who, even as I pen these words, are being made participators in this grandest of all dramas of history. Their prayer, praise God, is soon to be answered! The long-awaited revelation is at hand. The glorious Lord is soon to be revealed from heaven in flaming fire to be exhibited in great glory and power and admired IN HIS SAINTS (II Thes. 1:7-10).
Ah, my brother, my sister, do not sell creation short! Do not settle for less than God’s best. Our prayer is, "Give us this day our daily bread!" This day requires tomorrow’s bread TODAY! All creation is standing on tiptoe, waiting and counting on you. If you love Israel; if you love the peoples and kindreds of the earth who know nothing of the Saviour; if you love the sad, the tormented, the sick and dying; if you love the multitudes held captive in the blindness and stupidity of religious systems; if you love the burdened brute creation; if you love the mountains, the trees, the rivers and the oceans so mindlessly being destroyed under the hand of greed — you will joyfully welcome the hope of the manifestation of God in His sons; for it is the hope that shall bring to the groaning creation emancipation from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the children of God; to Israel her Messiah; to the heathen idolater, the knowledge of God; to the rebellious, correction; to the sick and dying, health and life incorruptible; to the bride, the presence of the Bridegroom; to mute nature, blessed release from the cruelty of man and the blight of the curse.
THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES
One cannot pray, "Give us this day our daily bread," without being reminded of the Feasts of the Lord. What do you do at a feast? Why, of course, you eat! God has a great and wonderful plan for feeding His people, and ultimately all mankind, the bread of heaven through the progressive unfolding of His grace and glory in the Feasts He spreads before us and unto which He calls us, each in his own order.
God has been giving much revelation concerning the three great spiritual feasts, of which the three annual feasts of Israel of old were but types and shadows. God commanded, "THREE TIMES thou shalt keep a feast unto me in the year" (Ex. 23:14). Of the three feasts the first was Passover. That foreshadowed Calvary. We are called to the spiritual feast of Passover in the experience of salvation. Jesus died and Himself became the sacrifice for our sins on the very day of the Passover feast: "For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us" (I Cor. 5:7). Israel of old was peculiarly a Passover company. They were saved by blood, the same as we are today; but their experience went no further because the time had not yet come for the outpouring of the Spiritual Feast of Pentecost.
We are then called to the second feast of the Lord when we are called to the spiritual feast of Pentecost in the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. So, following the death of Jesus on the Passover, fifty days later we find that "...when the day of Pentecost was fully come...suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:1-4). In Israel of old the feast of Pentecost was "the feast of the harvest, the FIRSTFRUITS of thy labours" (Deut. 16:9-12; Ex. 23:16; 34:22). Pentecost was the "firstfruits" of the harvest, and under New Testament economy it is fulfilled spiritually and is "the FIRSTFRUITS OF THE SPIRIT" (Rom. 8:23), the firstfruits of our inheritance. Christ’s coming in the feast of Pentecost saw Him descend on a little flock as the Comforter, which coming Paul tells us was but "an earnest" (or sample) of the Spirit (II Cor. 1:22; 5:5). "Earnest" means merely a pledge or first installment. The balance must follow. The fullness is guaranteed by the first installment. All we have received of the Spirit, with all His mighty gifts and graces, is but of a sample of glory yet to come! Foolish indeed is the man who supposes that what we have received during this Church age is all there is — the fullness! In other words, Christ came in the feast of Passover as the Lamb slain on Calvary; He came in the feast of Pentecost as the firstfruits of the Spirit; and now HE IS COMING AGAIN to pour out ALL His glorious and eternal fullness in great power and glory!
There is a mystery about the feast of Tabernacles. It is the only one of the three major feasts of Israel that as yet has not had a New Testament fulfillment. The fundamentalists know Christ in the feast of Passover. The Pentecostals and Charismatics know Christ in the feast of Pentecost. But whom is there among us that has demonstrated a glory or power beyond the Pentecostal experience? Therefore, the feast of Tabernacles has not been celebrated in a spiritual dimension by Christians the world over as has been the case with the other two festivals, those of Passover and Pentecost. Truly we can say — Passover has come, Pentecost has come, and Tabernacles must come, for each is a part of God’s great plan for His people. We have had the feasts of Passover and Pentecost and both of these feasts have been fulfilled IN THIS CHURCH AGE IN THE CHURCH which is His body, and right here upon earth. For some strange reason men seek to postpone the last feast to some future age, or give it to the Jews, or relegate it to some beautiful "Isle of Somewhere," and consequently the real spiritual meaning and import of the feast of Tabernacles is completely obscured and lost. The grand truth is that like the others, the feast of Tabernacles will be fulfilled in the body of Christ RIGHT HERE UPON EARTH. It will be fulfilled dispensationally, it will be fulfilled in us individually, and it will be fulfilled in us as the Corporate Man.
The grand truth of this has been wonderfully quickened by the Spirit of God to multiplied thousands of saints around the world in these last days. All over the world in this particular moment in history, the Spirit of God is speaking to the elect about an imminent manifestation of Christ. The trumpet has sounded — the appointed time has come. Christians in every nation have heard the voice of the prophets, foretelling of this most awesome intervention of God’s power that is about to sweep the earth.
The prophetic word of the Lord gives promise of a time to come when the Lord will move mightily by His Spirit. At that time the Lord will restore that which was lost all through the ages past and the long night of man’s selfhood and rebellion. There is an event soon to take place that shall overshadow and eclipse all former, lesser, manifestations of God’s glory and power in the earth. The glories of this great event will inspire, initiate, and bring to fulfillment the times of the restitution of all things. The grandeur, the splendor, the glory and the great power of God to be manifest at the time of this great event is impossible for us to comprehend presently, for we are still living and moving, for the most part, under the economy of the "firstfruits" of God’s Spirit. The grand and glorious event to which we refer is the coming of Christ in the feast of Tabernacles! Therefore we continue to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread!"
What sets the feast of Tabernacles apart from all others is the abundance enjoyed during the feast. It’s the fall harvest. At the celebration of Tabernacles, not only had the barley and wheat been harvested, but also all other grains, the fruit of trees, the olives, the grapes, all that could possibly serve as food or drink. The harvest was complete. On the spiritual plane this points to the fact that God has been using His people everywhere to whatever degree He has prepared the vessel for that revelation of the Christ. There has come a beautiful unfolding of His purpose, the outflow of His life and the manifestation of Himself throughout this church age, right up to the present time. But there shall yet come the ultimate, the total, and complete revelation of Jesus Christ — not a narrow, limited thing, not to get a number of people saved and filled with the Spirit, and healed and blessed and used — but the Kingdom of God coming with power and with glory, as an expression and a manifestation of God in His total capacity with no limitations, with all the power, with all the glory, all the might, all the majesty, all the authority, so that nations shall be swept into the Kingdom of God, creation delivered, and the last enemy, even death, destroyed from off the face of the earth for evermore. What bright and glorious prospects loom before the vision of all who press on to the feast of Tabernacles!
Since the church’s birth almost every generation has experienced something of an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Most of these moves would have to be characterized as something less than worldwide. They swept communities, cities, states, provinces, even nations at times, but few, if any, were global. But now, beyond the strength and influence of the feasts of Passover and Pentecost, there has been released from heaven in the last several years an intense sense of expectancy. It is the expectancy that ALL HEAVEN is about to break loose in the midst of the Lord’s elect on a worldwide basis. Do you identify with that expectancy? God is raising up voices in every hamlet and metropolis to say, "The earth is about to see the glory of God in a most remarkable way." I am convinced that a host of heavenly messengers has recently been released to every corner of the earth bearing the message: "And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all mankind together will see it, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it" (Isa. 40:5, NIV). What I am proclaiming, announcing and declaring is that there is a third experience in God. There is a visitation, an appearing and coming of the Lord called Tabernacles that is going to come to pass in the body of Christ today, right here upon this earth, and the implications of this feast go far beyond anything you or I could possibly imagine.
God is speaking to His people today and saying to us as He said to Israel at Mount Sinai, "You have kept this feast of Pentecost long enough...you have enjoyed this realm to the fullest. It is time to move. Pack up your tents and begin to move." The church world today has no vision for what is about to happen. All it can think about is getting raptured away into the clouds. Our prime concern is to prepare the ground for the truth concerning the feast of Tabernacles, which surpasses the glory of Pentecost as the noon-day sun surpasses the brightness of early dawn. If the saints of God could only catch a glimmer of the glory of the feast of Tabernacles which even now looms before us, they could not possibly cling to the stagnant remains of yesterday’s visitations. If Passover was wonderful — and it certainly was — how much more wonderful has been Pentecost! And if Pentecost is glorious, how much more shall we expect Tabernacles to exceed it in glory! And even now as the first faint rays of this glorious feast appear on the horizon, we have every reason to rejoice — knowing that the days of deliverance and restoration are here.
Though we find deep satisfaction in the sweet communion we have with Christ, and the secret converse we have together as He journeys with us through the wilderness, how oft our hearts long for a closer touch with our precious Lord! No words can express the rapture that is ours when we walk and talk with Him by the way; but we yearn for HIS FULLNESS, when all veils and limitations of earth shall forever pass away. There are times when He makes Himself so real that our small capacity can hardly stand the strain of such revelations. It is as though we were bringing a pint cup to receive the waters of Niagara; even the earthen vessel is almost carried away. But the day is coming when our capacity shall be so enlarged, that we can receive the full unveiling of our Lord and the glories that are His; and He will give us such revelations of the Father that we shall enter into His joy and glory, for all that is His is ours in Him. Then we shall see Him face to face, and shall behold all things clearly, with nothing between to obscure the vision. This mortal shall have put on immortality, and this corruptible shall have put on incorruption. The Father’s name shall be written in our forehead.
The manchild company, the sons of God, will be born, literally and dramatically birthed upon the stage of this world, in a blaze of earth-shaking supernatural power and glory. They will be the total, corporate incarnation of God upon earth. When the Lord comes in a mighty way at the feast of Tabernacles, all flesh shall see the salvation and glory of the Lord as never before. The manifestation of the sons of God will take place when the feast of Tabernacles is "fully come." That will be the greatest of all "spectaculars" the world has ever witnessed, when He erupts from within His many-membered body in the fullness of which Pentecost has been only a foretaste. The inhabitants of the world will be terrified, yes, even paralyzed! Instantly they will know this is no natural phenomenon, no traditional religious service; while deep within the voice shall witness: TRULY, THIS IS THE SON OF GOD! The effulgence of His Person shall appear upon His chosen ones, the intensity of His brilliance, equating to that of seven suns, shining through the undulating "garment" composed of tens of thousands of glorified saints, a star-studded super-spectacular, seven times the power of Pentecost, the likes of which has never been witnessed by any man since the dawn of creation.
MEAT YE KNOW NOT OF
At this significant junction of the ages our prayer rises with increasing intensity, "Give us this day our daily bread." This bread for the sons of God is the same that sustained and strengthened the firstborn Son when He walked this planet. It is this: "My meat (food) IS TO DO THE WILL of Him that sent me" (Jn. 4:34). To do God’s will! That is what a son lives for: but it is also what he lives on. MEAT. The word "meat" in this place means simply "food". Meat is strength, support, nourishment, health, and life. The strength of the life of sonship is drawn from the Father’s will. Man has a strong will. But God’s will is everlasting strength and life — almighty strength. Such strength he who lives by the will of the Father receives. He grows by it, he assimilates it — it is his life.
"Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word proceeding out of the mouth of God" (Mat. 4:4). Nothing can satisfy the son’s appetite but this — he hungers to do God’s will. Nothing else will fill him. Everyone knows the world is hungry. But the hungry world is starving. Even those who have abundance of food are suffering from malnutrition, the quality of their food is so poor and depleted. The world has many meats and many drinks, but there is no nourishment in them. It has pleasures, and gaiety, and hobbies, and projects, and efforts of all kinds; but there is no food there for the immortal craving of the spirit. It has worldly society, and worldly books, and worldly knowledge, and worldly wisdom, and worldly government, and worldly lusts. But these things merely intoxicate.
The church world is hungry too. Starving, in fact. Oh, it has many meats and many drinks, but there is no nourishment for the spirit in them. Their meats are fleshly and their drinks are soulish. It has rituals, and stirring programs, and impressive ceremonies, and external ordinances, and worked-up praise and worship, and pomp, and show, and candles, and incense, and temples and cathedrals, and priests and preachers, and organization and abundance of activity. Its people get all involved "in the work," and committed "to the work," and "giving to the work." They do and do but in all this something other than Christ has become the central factor. The center becomes the movement, or the message, or the organization, or the ministry, or the gifts, or the experience, or the method, or the personality or some other thing.
I declare to you that all these religious things and activities merely intoxicate and millions of Christians are drunk with them and in their distorted hilarity think they know the living Christ. But there is no substance in them! So our spirit turns its eye from them all with unutterable loathing. "MY meat is to do the Father’s will!" To do God’s will! No possibility of starving or suffering malnutrition on this fare. God’s will is eternal. God’s will is omnipotent. It is eternal and omnipotent food the sons of God live upon. In spring-time it is not sown, and in summer drought it cannot fail. In harvest it is not reaped, yet the storehouse is ever full. Oh, what possibilities of life and purpose and power and victory it opens up!
The truth of these words is simply this: the strength of life for a son of God is to do God’s will. Now that is a great and surprising revelation to many. No man ever found that out. It has been before the world these two thousand years, yet few have even found it out today. One will tell you that life is in keeping the commandments, another that life is in being joined to a "New Testament Church," another that life is in knowing and using the Sacred (Hebrew) Names of God, another that life is in taking communion, another that life is in being baptized the right way, another that life is in winning souls, another that life is in speaking in tongues, another that life is in the laughter of the "Toronto Blessing," another that life is in the gifts of the Spirit, another that life is in submission to the elders. But life is none of these things. It is more than all. Life is not to have an experience, or do this, or that, or the other — just to do what God wills, whether that be working or waiting, or winning or losing, or suffering or rejoicing, or living or dying.
In last month’s message I wrote about Christ as our environment, the food we take into ourselves that nourishes and quickens the inner man. There is a remarkable scientific fact about the correspondence between an organism and its environment that holds the key to life and immortality. There is now a scientific definition of eternal life. This scientific definition of eternal life is set forth in the book PRINCIPLES OF BIOLOGY, pp. 88 (out of print). The author says, "Perfect correspondence would be perfect life. Were there no changes in the environment but such as the organism had adapted changes to meet, and were it never to fail in the efficiency with which it met them, there would be eternal existence."
To put this definition in language we all can understand, it says that if you could find an absolutely perfect environment, and, if you could find a perfect organism which could respond and adapt 100% to that perfect environment, that organism would then live forever. The only conditions are that the environment be absolutely perfect and that the organism be able to perfectly and fully respond and adapt to that perfect environment. If the environment is not perfect, if it is not the highest, if it contains any element of change, or imperfection, or pollution, or weakness, there can be no guarantee that the life of the organism would be eternal. On the other hand, if there is any single thing within the organism which cannot, or does not respond and adapt to that perfect environment then there would arise a dis-harmony and the organism would die.
It is obvious that science knows of no such perfect environment, neither can it produce one, nor does it know of any such organism which could meet the necessary conditions of a 100% adaptation to such an environment. But I have no hesitation in saying that SUCH AN ENVIRONMENT EXISTS! Yes, there really is a perfect environment, and, furthermore, there has already been at least one living organism that has met all the conditions, has responded and adapted 100% to that perfect environment, and has already been raised up into the realm of incorruptible life spirit, soul and body! The perfect environment is the incorruptible spiritual realm of God’s divine life. It is the realm of the Kingdom of Heaven. The holy realm of God’s Spirit is the realm outside of all change, all imperfection, all corruption. If any organism, if any man or woman, can come into perfect harmony, perfect response, perfect adaptation to the holy and divine and incorruptible life of God, then that man would possess fully the Eternal Life. He and his environment would be perfectly unified in perfection!
There has been one. His name is Jesus! He is the One who said, "For I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him that sent me" (Jn. 6:38,30). "Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God" (Heb. 10:9). This bespeaks complete adaptation to the life of the Father. Not one jot or tittle of Christ’s mind, will, emotion, desire or actions failed to respond fully to the Father. These words are the key to His life on earth, and His triumph over death and the grave. At Nazareth in the carpenter shop, at Jordan in His baptism, in the wilderness tempted of the devil, in public with the multitudes, in living, in ministering, in dying, it was this that inspired and guided and gladdened Him; the glorious will of the Father was fully accomplished in and through Him.
Long before science came along with a scientific definition for eternal life, Jesus had already laid down this definition. With Him it was not theory, for He lived it, tested it, demonstrated and proved it! Let us place Christ’s definition alongside the definition of science, and mark the points of contrast. Perfect and complete correspondence with a perfect environment is eternal life, according to science. "THIS is eternal life," said Jesus, "that they may KNOW THEE, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent" (Jn. 17:3). Life eternal is to know God. To know God is to "correspond" with God. To correspond with God is to correspond with a perfect environment. And the person who attains to this, in the nature of things must live forever. The whole purpose of God in redemption is to bring man into that perfect correspondence with Him. To bring men to this perfect correspondence involves a process — from glory to glory. Already, in our spirit, this perfect correspondence has been accomplished by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost. In spirit we are now ONE WITH GOD. The reconciliation is an accomplished fact. Now it is soul and body that must be dealt with, brought into submission, to that perfect correspondence with the Father. Jesus is the pattern. Overcoming is the process. Eternal life in spirit, soul and body is the result.
Life is in correspondence with the spiritual environment of the spiritual world of God, the Kingdom of Heaven. Death results from correspondence with the physical, temporal and corruptible world. There is an impassable gulf between the carnal mind and the spiritual mind, for the spiritual mind is concerned only with the things of God and the realm of the Spirit, which things lead to life and immortality. But the carnal mind is concerned only with the physical world and the realm of the flesh, which things lead only to death and corruption because there is no life in them. For this very reason the scripture says, "If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die, but if ye through the spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live" (Rom. 8:13). What other result could there possibly be, for there is no life in the physical world. The whole environment is impregnated with death and to correspond with that environment means swift and certain death. But the spirit is eternal, immortal and incorruptible; therefore, TO LIVE AFTER THE SPIRIT IS LIFE. Thus Paul says, "To be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life" (Rom. 8:6). Science today is discussing what death is. "To be carnally minded is death," is God’s definition. That is the correspondence of death.
Therefore, when Paul says, "If ye live after the flesh ye shall die," the reason for this death is most obvious. There simply is no life in the flesh or in any of its manifestations, neither is there life in anything it can do, or design. If you are living after a realm that has no life in it you will surely die. To get life out of the fleshly realm is like getting blood out of a turnip. You cannot get what isn’t there! You are trying to find life where there is only death. Therefore, if a man sees God with the eyes of his spirit, he will live. But if he looks upon the man-made images of God, the externals of religion, he will die. If he drinks the water of life with his spirit, he will live forever; if he drinks water from a well, or drinks wine and eats wafers, he will die. There is no external ordinance, ritual or ceremony that can give man life; if is only in walking after the spirit that life can be found. If a man hears the voice of God with his spirit, he will live; if he only hears the voices of earth, even of creed and doctrine, he will die. If his spirit touches God, he will live; if his flesh touches the things of earth, both he and they will die.
Little wonder, then, that the beloved apostle John penned these significant words: "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof, but HE THAT DOETH THE WILL OF GOD ABIDETH FOR EVER" (I Jn. 2:15-17). It is impossible to walk after the flesh and mind the things of the flesh and at the same time possess eternal life. For those who walk after the flesh depend upon and correspond with an environment that is not eternal. Their correspondence is established with that which passes away. We find then that man is equipped with two sets of correspondences. One set possesses the qualities of everlastingness, the other is temporal. Unless these are by some means harmonized, the temporal and fleshly will continually impair and hinder the eternal and spiritual. The final preparation, therefore, for inheriting the fullness of eternal life, the adoption, the redemption of our body (Rom. 8:23), must consist in bringing body and soul under the dominion of the spirit. And this can only be effected by a death to self and all the desirings and cravings of the carnal mind. "He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal" (Jn. 12:25). Death persists in man because certain relations in his being are not adjusted to the higher relations of the eternal perfect environment of God’s life and nature.
Death is the necessary result of imperfection, the necessary end of it. Science has shown that a perfect organism in a perfect environment would necessarily live forever. To abolish death, therefore, all that would be necessary would be to abolish imperfection. Thank God! He is changing us. Each and every change and transformation, each and every victory and triumph brings our being more and more into correspondence with the realm of His divine life. Like Him! blessed hope, this. More like Him today than yesterday. More like Him tomorrow. More weaned away from earth’s polluting environment of self-centeredness and fleshiness. Better able to breathe the atmosphere of the pure and perfect realm of the Kingdom of God. Death is being swallowed up. Jesus is leading us on! Victory is within our grasp!
To be continued...J. PRESTON EBY [HOME] [KINGDOM RESOURCES]