When we pursue God with an earnest and urgent desire, we will find that He will draw us in on a particular line. The similitude of being like fish, caught by a fisherman, shows us the image, that like some fish, we can struggle and resist the tugging pull of the line or we can just flop, as some fish do, and just be simply reeled in. I don’t know why some fish do that.
I find that the Lord will often have me on a thread or a recurring theme. The word is like a weaver making cloth. The strands on the loom shuttle across threads strung like a harp from top to bottom. I’m not a weaver, so the technical terms elude me; however, the image of this fine woven cloth that will be eventually pulled off the loom will go to make the garments of the righteous.
The thread the Lord has me on at the moment, in a way, has something to do with clothing too. But essentially this message is about hearing from God and how we respond personally, and in general, as the body of Messiah.
Reading this passage in 1Kings 19, shows us that sometimes even our own zeal for the Lord is not enough when the going gets tough.
1 Kings 19: 11 So He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord was passing by, and a great and powerful wind was tearing out the mountains and breaking the rocks in pieces before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind, [there was] an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake, [there was] a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire, [there was] the sound of a gentle blowing. 13 When Elijah heard the sound, he wrapped his face in his mantle (cloak) and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 He said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts (armies), because the sons of Israel have abandoned (broken) Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I, only I, am left; and they seek to take away my life.” AMP
How quickly do we respond to God’s call? Some believe that they are not called by Him at all. Yet every person that has received Christ as saviour has been. Our spirits heard the inner call and the invitation to come to Him. But what happened along the way?
The passage in Numbers 25:10-30, speaks about the certain zeal of a man called ‘Phinehas’. In brief, the story picks up after Balaam failed to curse Israel, following his summons from Balak the King of Moab. Israel succumbed to the worship of Baal Peor and manifest their practices in some vile and debauched ways. They intermarried with the Midianite people, breaking the covenant rule of separation and holiness. What they were doing was an absolute abomination to God. As a result God brought a plague upon the Hebrews, that in the end killed 24000 people. It was an act of zeal that stopped the plague. Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron the High Priest, was incensed and had to do something. Though the leaders were distressed at the situation and somewhat at a loss in reacting to what Israel, now as a nation of idol worshippers had become, one man saw that something extreme had to be done. As a result of Phinehas’ zealousness, the Lord made a covenant of peace with him, giving him the position of priest forever. Eventually after the death of his own father, Eleazar, Phinehas became High Priest. What is important about that? Zadok, though descendent from Eleazar, took on a peculiar priesthood as they were renowned for their zeal for the Lord, attributed to Phinehas.
The message I am writing, I hope, will encourage and convict you just as it did me.
So how do we respond when God calls u? Do we with zeal, run to Him, or are we somewhat preoccupied with other things that distract us from giving Him our full attention.
You see, we cannot live in God’s house if we do not desire to do what He asks of us.
In His house, He may be Father but He is also the Master; we may be His children but we are also His servants, and children and servants must obey the voice of Him who is higher than they.
Ultimately, a Christian has no choice. This echoes Paul’s remark in Galatians 2:20.
‘When the Messiah was executed on the stake as a criminal, I was too; so that my proud ego no longer lives. But the Messiah lives in me, and the life I now live in my body I live by the same trusting faithfulness that the Son of God had, who loved me and gave himself up for me’. CJB
We therefore can’t have it both ways. We either live for Christ, in obedience to the way of the Holy Spirit, or for ourselves and the carnal spirit. Freewill is really not an option. We must not, now therefore, confuse freewill with freedom. A non-believer has the freedom to choose Christ or not, but a believer does not, because he has received Christ through repentance. He has chosen the only way he can now walk. A believer can only walk the narrow path, and for him it is not an option. His new life in Christ is now a life of obedience.
This is how we should live in the house of the Lord. When the Lord calls to us we should respond with a sense of eagerness and zeal. Excitement rises because we are being summoned into His presence, eagerly straining to know what He wants us for.
The Lord’s house is expansive and inside there are many rooms. We can also look at our faith journey as one where we move from room to room. Many of us have gone on our walk, changing denominations along the way, believing that one or other may follow the teaching of scripture with a purer or more faithful approach. We have seen this in recent times when many Anglican clergy have transferred to the Catholic tradition, believing that there has been too much compromise among Anglican beliefs.
On a personal level, I consider myself to have moved several times from my Catholic birth religion, through Pentecostalism and the more charismatic flow to my present Hebraic understanding.
We can view the rooms in God’s house as the many types of traditions or we can view them from the aspect that each of our moves is an effort in trying to understand God in a better and truthful way.
For this article, I’m going to propose another way, and that is the way each of us moves in response to His call. Here is the scenario: You find yourself at the top of the house. The Lord is in the main part of the house. You hear His voice calling your name specifically. You answer, ‘Here I am Father, I’ll be with you in a minute, I just have to ………’ (you can fill in the blanks).
God’s graciousness allows us time to respond. He does not want us to take His grace for granted or for us to be familiar with Him. He knows what we are doing at all times, after all. However, some time goes by and you are still involved with your busyness. You believe you are in the occupation of the Lord and so there is no urgency. As part of that occupation, you find yourself working down through the house, and in travelling the many corridors you believe you are getting closer to Him. But what has transpired is this: instead of dropping everything and attending to the immediacy of His voice, you find that all you have done is changed rooms.
Have you ever seen how young children find it hard to respond straight away to their parents’ call, when they are busy playing? They don’t want to stop what they are doing and will often find an excuse to delay their response. What they are doing is far more important than going inside to see what their parents want.
As children of God, we often find ourselves responding like this. Being in the field is exciting because we are with our brothers and sisters. We are enjoying life especially when we believe that the life we are living is what God wants us to live. But God likes to spend time with us, on a one to one level too.
The Bible tells us that God has separated for Himself a group of people, whom He calls priests. These were a specific group who attended and ministered to Him in the tabernacle. He gave them different garments, a uniform if you like, that must be worn at specific times depending on the jobs they were doing. He also gave them specific robes that could be worn only when they had cleansed and washed themselves.
Here lies another aspect of the changing room. As long as we are in the world, we will pick up the dust and debris of it. Our outward appearance will become soiled. In order to enter the Holy place, the Holiest of all areas in the house, we must be suitably prepared.
Our Most Holy God, will not allow any contaminant of the world to enter His abode.
And that is why He had to transform Himself into flesh to stand upon our soil. We see that in order to return home He had to, once again, transform back into His glorious state.
The same principle applies to us. When God calls us, we must realise that we are being called to a sacred space. Our response must be immediate. We must change again in the changing room. So instead of ‘Yes, Father, I’ll be there in a minute’, we say, ‘Yes, Father, I’m on my way.’
Sadly, the Christian life often translates as one of busyness, frenzy and ultimate burnout and thus the call of God is often missed.