The Trees of the Lord’s Planting
Reading: Ezek. 47:6-12; Psa. 1:3; Luke 6:44; Rev. 22:1-3; Rom. 8:6-7.
Going back to Ezekiel 47 as our foundation passage, it hardly needs to be said that in the Scriptures trees are people; they are symbols of men. There are very many passages, of course, which make that perfectly clear and sure. Psalm 1:3 is conclusive. In the bringing of the wood for the boards of the tabernacle it is again self-evident that trees are men who form a habitation for God in a collective way. The Lord spoke about trees (as we have read) as men, known by their fruit.
Now in Ezekiel 47 it is fairly clear that this is a prophecy which had its fulfilment in the first instance at Pentecost; that is, what is in this chapter is what came in on the day of Pentecost and with Pentecost, and characterises this dispensation. It will have another and fuller fulfilment when the time marked by Rev. 22 is reached. The river again proceeds out from the Throne of God and of the Lamb, the river of water of Life. But for the moment it is this present application and fulfilment of the prophecy which engages us, this dispensation is characterised by this. A river began to flow on the day of Pentecost out from the sanctuary by the way of the altar, and on its course living witnesses were rooted to continue as a line of testimony right down the whole course of that river of Life – on either side of the river, on each bank, a tree and another corresponding, two and two, so to speak – it is this full testimony. “He sent them two and two” (Luke 10:1). “If two of you shall agree… ” (Matt. 18:19) and so on. It is the Lord’s means of testimony down the whole course of the Holy Spirit’s movement through the dispensation – living witnesses.
A Living Organism
First of all, we must remind ourselves and be very clear on one simple and well-known fact that is well-known as a truth: that a tree is a living organism. It is not a machine, it is not an institution, it is not an office or an official thing, it is not an organised movement, it is not a fixed system. It is a living organism whose life is in itself and which is itself livingly reproductive by reason of its very life-energy. It is a living organism. That is the Lord’s conception of His testimony through this dispensation – living people planted into His very Life and standing as His witnesses right down the dispensation – witnesses to Him as their Life, to Christ the Life. The life of this organism is His Life; the water is the water of Life; the fruit is the fruit of Life; the leaves of healing are the leaves of Life, and there is no other effective ministry in this dispensation. It is not taking up things as teachings and doctrines and giving them out. It is not taking up work as a form of activity. It is expressing a Life, manifesting a Life, giving effect to the Life, or the Life giving effect to itself; having a means for its expression. That is the Lord’s idea for the whole of this dispensation, and we can see how effective and how fruitful, how mighty and how sufficient that is by looking at the first days of the process of that Life from the sanctuary. It was only when Life was supplanted by men’s institutions that things changed, and wherever and whenever that has been the case, men have sooner or later become conscious of a lack, of a need which cannot be met in any other way than by this Life of the Spirit, the Spirit of God.
Now, we may know that very well, it may be nothing new to us, but we here are concerned with the matter of our life’s meaning and significance on the earth for God; what is to be the result of our being here in a positive way for God. We may be thinking about service, about ministry, about work, about our usefulness to the Lord. Do not let us fail to recognise this and to get it well rooted in us and to have it always in our consciousness, that all ministry, all testimony, all witness, all service according to God’s mind in this dispensation is this: that God has His trees planted by the river of water, that they are there rooted in His Life, and that their business is, as a living organism, to express the nature, the power, the value, the potentialities of His divine Life, so that the Christian life and Christian service resolves itself into one thing, all questions about serving the Lord are resolved into this one thing: the measure of His Life coming into us and going out through us. That means that the whole of this life here on this earth is a question of how much of death is overcome by the triumph of His Life, and that, of course, resolves itself into what we have so often called ‘the battle for Life’. It is not only the battle to live, to have the spiritual life preserved. It is the battle for the testimony of Life.
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