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Everyone Who Thirsts
By Malcolm B Heap, Midnight Ministries
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fter several years of being a Christian, have you ever gone through ‘dry’ spells? Times when you felt the vibrancy and vitality of your relationship with God was lacking? Times when your prayer life just seemed empty? When God seemed more distant than you would like?
I’m sure you have. I have.
The way back is this:
In returning and rest you shall be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength (Is 30:15).
The strength or vitality of your spiritual life can be renewed beginning with one thing. It’s the first thing Isaiah mentions in that verse: returning.
He doesn’t mean returning in a physical sense. It has spiritual connotations.
The Amplified Bible puts it like this:
In returning [to Me] and resting [in Me] you shall be saved; in quietness and in [trusting] confidence shall be your strength (Amp.).
The New International Version says:
In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength (NIV).
Repentance is the key.
We can tend to forget how holy God is. They say that familiarity breeds contempt, and it can be true. When you pray to God day after day, month after month, year after year, you can easily get into a wrong routine and treat the Almighty with less respect than He deserves. He is to be reverenced:
By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; and before all the people I must be glorified (Lev 10:3).
This reverence for God must be renewed day by day, not eroded. Otherwise you won’t be renewed.
Remember the title on the first chapter of The Controversy Concerning Law and Grace – it is "You Deserve To Die!" Remember that. You have sinned. We have all sinned. None of us quite understands just how despicable sin is to God. We can tend to take it lightly. We must repent. Turn. Change.
As you humble yourself before Him, allowing your self-reliant, complacent, ho-hum attitude about sin to change, and make a new commitment against sin in your life, refreshing immediately comes from the Spirit of grace. Immediately!
God is Spirit, and like you cannot keep air out of a jar, your vessel is replenished with His Spirit as you empty yourself before Him in repentance.
In repentance and refreshing is your salvation. Deliverance comes as you wait upon Him, working out His holy principles of conduct in your life. But if you harbour sin in your attitude or approach, and do not regard God as holy and sacred, don’t be surprised that you do not experience His favour. The Holy One is vehement against sinful attitudes and sinful tendencies:
See, the Name of the Lord comes from afar, with burning anger and dense clouds of smoke; His lips are full of wrath, and His tongue is a consuming fire (Is 30:27).
God is burning in fury against sin! Never forget that.
You don’t want to be on the receiving end of God’s wrath because of sin that you have taken lightly.
For our God is a consuming fire! (Heb 12:29.)
Seeking God From A Pure Heart
The problem with us as humans is that our tendencies are physical, and as long as our physical or emotional needs are satisfied, we can tend to lose some of the sense of our need for God. In contrast, the believer in distress, anguish or dire need, tends to be more contrite and yearning for God. Alright, he may not fully see his motivation – that a self motive is very much a part of his seeking God – but it is a fact that complacency and spiritual lukewarmness sets in when you have all you need. And when you have all you want, you become spoiled indeed – a very ugly spiritual creation!
Conversely, hardship and adversity produce admirable qualities in people, as they persevere and learn to be content.
Now godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Tim 6:6).
A godly person seeks God first and foremost. He or she wants to be like God in character, in mind, in behaviour. He doesn’t want sin in his life. He shuns the lure of the world’s pride and lusts. He does not care for the things unconverted people seek after. His ambitions are not physical, but spiritual.
His motivation in life is not to amass wealth, or to fulfil prideful ambitions. He doesn’t seek elevation and self-importance. He is content to be a ‘nobody’ in the world’s terms. He knows his reward is not in this life, but in the next. He is content to wait.
Meanwhile, he pursues what pleases God, not merely what pleases himself. Should there ever be any conflict of interests between the two, he puts his own desires behind what God asks of him. That is the pure heart who sees God. He will be rewarded on the Final Day and take a seat alongside Jesus.
But for the one whose heart is governed by self, he just cannot bring himself to do all that God asks of him. Somehow it’s too much. Self demands satisfying and he gives in to the demands. Pride is within, taking its seat alongside the lust or other desire that demands pre-eminence. So he just doesn’t see God.
With the self demanding to be number one, God takes second place or worse. The holiness of God ends up a distant vagueness, without any relevance. Thus, pride and self rule. To such a carnal mind, God is unimportant.
Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be (Rom 8:7). So then those who are in the flesh cannot please God (8:8).
God Is A Consuming Fire
At the inception of the Old Covenant in Israel, God gave instructions about how priestly duties were to be performed. As Aaron the High Priest did as God said through Moses, God demonstrably showed His approval:
And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces (Lev 9:24).
God does the same today. He sends the ‘fire’ of His Spirit to confirm His Word, and people are amazed at the power of God displayed! (Mk 16:20; Acts 15:12.) God also demonstrates His holiness, sending His fire in a very different way:
Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them (Lev 10:1).
So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord (10:2).
The account does not specifically say what Nadab and Abihu did that was wrong, except that it was "profane". It was not sanctioned by God. What they did was NOT what God had commanded. Several suggestions have been put forward:
On their very first day of service, after their seven day consecration, Nadab and Abihu, the oldest sons of Aaron (Ex 6:23), were slain in the court of the tabernacle (v 2). What did Nadab and Abihu do to incur such a severe judgment? Several suggestions are in order: (1) they put hot coals in their censers which were not from the altar of burnt offering (cf 16:12; Ex 30:9; Num 16:46; (2) they were intoxicated (vs 8-11); (3) they arrogantly attempted to enter the Most Holy Place (cf the prohibition in 16:1,2) but were struck down before doing so (v 4); (4) they made their incense offering at the wrong time (cf chps 9; 10), i.e. not the normal morning or evening offering as prescribed (Ex 30:7,8). Their sin very well may have been a combination of these.
The abiding truth is that wilful disobedience to the revealed will of God (v 1) incurs the wrath and judgment of God. The fact that these men were the sons of the high priest offered them no immunity. (NKJV footnote on Lev 10.)
I suggest what lay behind their misdemeanour was the attitude which Satan had – one of pride. They had just been inducted into office. They had been uniquely assigned a duty that was highly prestigious and exclusive. Their position went to their heads.
In a moment of reckless folly, they decided to ‘officiate’ in the tabernacle, perform before the people but disregard God’s explicit instructions. What was uppermost in their minds was not what God said, but what glory it would bring to THEM! They didn’t care about holiness and obedience. THEY planned to take centre stage, not God.
That same motive defiles many of today’s performers who run with the Gospel. They also offer profane fire before the Lord. God will ‘take them out’ too at His appointed time.
Those who handle the holy things of God – His Word, His Spirit and His gifts – are to:
Distinguish between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean (Lev 10:10).
The priest’s duty was to teach these things to the people, emphasising the sanctity of God and the purity of His Word and precepts (Lev 10:11).
But like many of those priests, many ministers today have abysmally failed to reverence God and to treat His Word with extreme care and sanctity:
Her priests have violated My law and profaned My holy things; they have not distinguished be- tween the holy and unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they have hidden their eyes from My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them (Ezek 22:26).
That is not just a statement of history in Israel, it is a prophecy fulfilled by today’s NT ‘priesthood’ – ministers who claim they follow the name of Jesus. They do their own thing when it comes to His Sabbaths or His gifts of the Spirit.
The attitude displayed is arrogance, giving rise to contempt for the holy things of God. God will show contempt for them!
Read Exodus 28:34-38, and you will see how much God emphasised the need to remember that they were serving a holy God – a Being so pure and different from the subjects He has created to worship Him. He is so much greater and higher in spirituality!
When He gave instructions for the breastplate of the High Priest, which was to be embellished with the most precious stones of sardius, topaz, emerald, turquoise, sapphire, diamond, jacinth, agate, amethyst, beryl, onyx and jasper – all set in gold – He called it the "breastplate of judgement" (Ex 28:15,29):
So Aaron shall bear the judgement of the children of Israel over his heart before the Lord continually (Ex 28:30).
Jesus is our perfect faithful High Priest, who truly cares about our spiritual welfare, and wants to see God’s judgement of blessing cover us, not His judgement of curses for disobedience (Deut 28). This is in His heart. It should be close to every minister’s heart also. Sadly, it isn’t. Many ministers are false! They do not have that philanthropic care for people, but are like Nadab and Abihu – egocentric glory-seekers.
Seek The Lord While He Is Near
Here is the key for your revival:
Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price (Is 55:1).
Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance (55:2).
Notice that it’s only for those who THIRST. It’s not for the self-satisfied; for those who are content with what this world offers; or the self-reliant. It’s not for those who still want to hold onto their pride.
That’s why the call is only for those "who have no money" (v 1), a metaphor for those who are poor in spirit.
This little piece of commentary adds insight:
In ch 55 the Lord issues a general call to all who would call themselves by His name, to abandon the Babylons of this world and to find their satisfaction and their security in Him alone, and in that city of joy and peace that He will build. This passage is a call to revival for all who have wandered far from the Lord, or from that grace which is the basis for our relationship with Him. It is also a call to salvation for any who have not known Him, promising a free but abundant and eternal life that is better than money can buy. The call is issued to the thirsty and the penniless – all who will recognize their need for spiritual blessing and their inability to meet the need themselves (NKJV Believer’s Study Bible, footnote on Is 55:1,2.).
Does that include you? If you are thirsty and poor in a spiritual sense, Jesus is here to quench your thirst and give you what truly satisfies!
When you have come to the end of yourself, of seeking your own way, of relying upon your abilities, and of pursuing your own desires and ambitions, you are willing to finally lay down your life and let Him imbue you with His. This emptying of oneself is what He has been waiting for. Otherwise He cannot help you.
Only then are you willing to "listen carefully" to Him (v 2), and "incline your ear" (v 3), "come to Me" and "hear" (v 3). Humbled by what He has let you go through – your wilderness experience – now you are ready to truly seek Him without reservation.
Seek the Lord while He may be found. Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts. Let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon (Is 55:6,7).
The result of such a genuine seeking after God is your turnaround and transformation.
But what brings about the thirst? Motivation is not easily altered. Something drastic, a crisis, has to occur for you to turn. Richard Wurmbrand explained how it happened for his young son, Mihai:
I was taken away from my wife and I did not know what had happened to her. Only after many years I learned that she had been put in prison, too. Christian women suffer much more than men in prison. Girls have been raped by brutal guards. The mockery, the obscenity, is horrible. The women were forced to work at hard labour building a canal, fulfilling the same workload as men. They shovelled earth in winter. Prostitutes were made overseers and competed in torturing the faithful. My wife has eaten grass like cattle to stay alive. Hungry prisoners ate rats and snakes at this canal. One of the joys of the guards on Sundays was to throw women into the Danube and then fish them out, to laugh about them, to mock them about their wet bodies, to throw them back and fish them out again. My wife was thrown into the Danube in this manner.
My son was left to wander on the street when his mother and father were taken away. Mihai had been very religious from childhood and very interested in matters of faith. At the age of nine, when his parents were taken away from him, he passed through a crisis in his Christian life. He became bitter and questioned all of his religion. He had problems that children usually don’t have at this age. He had to think about earning his living.
It was a crime to help families of Christian martyrs. Two ladies who helped him were arrested and beaten so badly that they were permanently crippled. A lady who risked her life and took Mihai into her house was sentenced to eight years in prison for the crime of having helped families of prisoners. All of her teeth were kicked out and her bones were broken. She will never be able to work again. She, too, will be a cripple for life.
At the age of 11, Mihai began to earn his living as a regular worker. Suffering had produced a wavering in his faith. But after two years of Sabina’s imprisonment he was allowed to see her. He went to the Communist prison and saw his mother behind iron bars. She was dirty, thin, with calloused hands, wearing the shabby uniform of a prisoner. He scarcely recognised her. Her first words were, "Mihai, believe in Jesus!" The guards, in a savage rage, pulled her away from Mihai and took her out. Mihai wept, seeing his mother dragged away. This minute was the minute of his conversion. He knew that if Christ can be loved under such circumstances, He surely is the true Saviour. He said afterwards, "If Christianity had no other arguments in its favour than the fact that my mother believes in it, this is enough for me." That was the day he fully accepted Christ. (R Wurmbrand, Tortured For Christ, pp 45-47.)
You and I don’t suffer the terrible privations of a Communist prison (not yet – such days are far from over!). We have the freedom to seek God now, and we must let the circumstances of our lives soften our hearts that He may come in. In returning, and rest in Him, is our salvation (Is 30:15).
Therefore the Lord will wait [for you to turn to Him], that He may be gracious to you... Blessed are all those who wait for Him... He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you (Is 30:18,19). Malcolm B Heap
Bible quotations are from the New King James Version (NKJV) unless otherwise stated
Why Trials? (WT)
Why Suffering? (WS)
Why Do Christians Suffer? (WCS)
Faith and Healing (FH)
Testing The Spirits (TTS)
Secrets Underlying Happiness (Hap)
The Faith Once Delivered To The Saints (FOD)
The Missing Dimension in Christian Living (Mis)
The Controversy Concerning Law and Grace (LG)
Sunday Versus Sabbath: The Final World Crisis (SS)
Revelations From God About The Judgement Of Britain (Jud)
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