Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Horses, Mules and Men

I have been spending a good bit of free time lately looking into some matters that I won't get into here. It has become somewhat time consuming as it is some downright fascinating material. I believe that it is profitable information to know and much of it ties into biblical prophecy, but when I get into something, I tend to really get into it. Let me put it this way – I am created to be absolutely obsessed with and overwhelmed by the LORD alone – period. Even great things can become distractions and battle to take our gaze off of His beautiful face. Thankfully, through the written Word of God, the LORD spoke clearly to me today. I guess you could say that He knew that I was in need of a "spiritual boost." I know, without question that I am to be enamored and consumed by Him. Whenever I allow my focus to turn onto anything else, I know it. It does not take long anymore either. For this I am grateful. It shows my Father's love for me. He is jealous for my attention and as His Bride, my eyes are to be completely for Him alone.

Often, when I am wanting to focus my distracted mind on the LORD, I read Psalms aloud. I read them with emphasis and with purpose. It is not just recitation, it is alive. As I read Psalm 32, several verses stood out to me. For starters, in the early verses of the chapter, I saw my old self so clearly. In fact, it was as if I had written it. "When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away. Through my groaning all day long. For day and night They hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer."

You see, I knew this feeling well. I was very familiar with the feeling of God's heavy hand upon me. Spiritual vitality and vigor cannot remain when sin abounds. They simply cannot cohabitate. Only the lovingkindness and forgiveness of the Father make all things new. The end of verse 5 makes a pretty profound statement that is easily overlooked. It states that "You did forgive the guilt of my sin." The weight, the heaviness, the groaning, the weakness is from carrying the guilt of the sin. The Hebrew word is "`avon" and it means, "iniquity, perversity" and "depravity". In myself, my only hope was to "pray to Him while He may be found" (Psalm 32:6). Of course, He heard my cry then and He continues to welcome me back whenever I take field trips into lands of self and/or sin. Even if I only fall prey to "minor distractions", I am truly in need of my Deliverer and Hiding Place (Psalm 32:7).

Moving on to my main point, verses 8 and 9 paint a simple, yet fantastic metaphorical picture for us. "I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding, whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check, otherwise they will not come near to you."

Without addressing the Hebrew origins of the wording and deep meanings, allow me to summarize. "I'll instruct you as to where you need to go. I will guide you with My presence. Don't be as stubborn as a horse or mule that have to be restrained or else they won't approach you." The LORD desires us to willingly follow His lead. When one is born from above and leaves behind the ways of the First Adam to become a son or daughter of the Most High, he/she embarks on a journey to be conformed to the image of Christ. There is one goal, one purpose, one destination. Now this can come about in several ways – one might even go as far as saying you can do this the easy way or the hard way. According to Scripture, it would, of course, be best to take on the yoke that is easy and the burden that is light (Matthew 11:30). When He moves, I move. Where He goes, I go. I become a willing participant of what He is already doing.

To use the "horses and mules" reference, the Hebrew text says that they had no "biyn" (pronounced "bean"). If you have no "biyn", you would be known to lack instruction, discernment and perception. That is why I chose the word "stubborn" in my personal translation. You would be considered juvenile and unwilling to partake in what you were to do for lack of understanding. I believe that the deeper meaning behind all of this is that God desires us to willingly be instructed and taught in the way that we should go. His desire is not to grab us by the reins and pull us around like obstinate mules. Could this perhaps be why the Scriptures are teeming with shepherd and sheep references? Did Jesus Himself not say in John 10, "I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me."

Perhaps we could meld the two references together and say "Sheep who know My voice, not horses and mules in need of Me dragging them around, willingly follow Me." I don't know about you but I want to be found in the little flock of sheep with my Shepherd instead of the confined quarters of the bridled horses and mules! It is time that we all spiritually mature and allow the LORD to remove the bit and bridles from our mouths! Then we can delight our Father by obediently following where He leads because being where He is our primary goal.

Perhaps if we really believed that the LORD goes before us, we would be a tad more willing to turn loose of the mouthpieces that hold us and trade them in for complete faith and trust in Him. The simple fact is that the sheep don't go before the shepherd. The shepherd is the guide and knows the way. He alone is capable of guiding the sheep to the desired location. He is also their protector and shield. Sound familiar? Our Shepherd is no different. Proverbs 16:9 states that "The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps." I believe that this is still true for the Believer. When I become born from above, I choose to trade in my "mind of man" for the mind of Christ. He orders my steps. He has already been into my future for He fashioned my entire life. He is already in my tomorrows. With this simple understanding, why would I want to struggle and fight against His leading? Why would I not willingly draw near to Him and instead choose to wrestle against the One who has already ordered my steps? Of course we know why (sin), but you know what I mean.

So why will God do all of this? Why would He form me in my mother's womb and desire to instruct and teach me in the way that I should go? For me of course, right? To bless me and prosper me and elevate me, right? If you think that it's all about you, you'd better look closely at Psalm 31:3 and prepare to be disappointed. "For You are my rock and my fortress; For Your name's sake You will lead me and guide me." In Psalm 23:3 we see that the psalmist understood this when he stated, "He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake." Yes my friend, it is all about Him… you are OK with that, right? If you are not, you have not understood biblical salvation. Of course the benefits that we receive as being a Child of God are boundless but may we never forget what the Psalmists understood, it is all for His name's sake. I believe that the statement God made to Abraham all the way back in Genesis is still true today, "I am your shield, and your exceeding great reward." Our reward, our compensation, if you will, is to be with the Shepherd where He is… and that, for me, is enough.


Harriet said...

>>Our reward, our compensation, if you will, is to be with the Shepherd where He is… and that, for me, is enough.<<

amen and amen

good to see you writing again..
much love to you and K.

Joel Spencer said...

Harriet: When intimacy with the LORD is the primary goal, recognition, financial gain, positions with a religious organization, etc... none of the "stuff" matters. My purpose, my prize is Him.

Sean said...

I understand what you're saying about being consumed by Him alone. I really do think that you are blessed to be aware so quickly when you step out of that perfect place of dwelling with the Lord.

Do you personally think that the "horse and mule" still get to the destination, despite their need to be controlled and pulled along?

Anonymous said...

And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them:
Job 1:14

Those without bit or bridle will graze wild like the dumb ass. The yoked up servant of the Lord will continue in the work until an Elisha will set him free.

It is better to know the harness of the Lord than to roam free with no restraint For such is the state of the church, casting off restraint.

Greasy Grace. All things are allowed. All things permitted.

I'll take the harness of the Lord any day. There are plenty of people filling the god of their own bellies where ever they choose.

I long for pastures of His choosing......

Joel Spencer said...

Sean: I believe that it is quite possible that one who needs dragged along could reach the destination - due to God's grace and patience. However, I'm not sure it's safe to meddle on the idea too long, for it's likely to excuse us to fight and pull against Him and be OK with it.

We should not be concerned with "security" as much as were are with absolute obedience. I desire to mature and leave behind the need to be controlled against my will. When I was born from above, my will died. Great question!

Anonymous: In this reference, it is plainly seen that the LORD stated He desires we "not need be led around by bit and bridle" for that would mean we are "without understanding". I believe that there is a vast Scriptural difference between the yoke and the bridle. Yes, I am to be yoked in unity with Him, without question. I am not however to be dragged around unwillingly. This is the point of this passage. Willingness.

I choose to see "unrestrained" as one who willingly follows his Master, as opposed to the way you took it to mean - "greasy grace". I believe that what you are referring to is a different issue entirely. Although I don't think what you have stated is incorrect, I just don't believe that it applies to this reference, specifically.

I will be a willing follower - a sheep who knows my Shepherds voice, no longer in need of a bridle to "restrain" me. My will and desire to go my own way was put to death at my regeneration.

Thanks for sharing!

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Glad to see you back and preaching!

Joel Spencer said...

Daughter: Thanks! Glad to see you around.

Anonymous said...

hi.. just dropping by here... have a nice day!