away the first in order to establish the second.”
God removes in order
to establish something better. The context of this great principle is the
covenants. The first covenant was wholly of God yet removed by Him in order
to establish a better covenant based on a better promise. That better covenant
was brought into being by His death on the Cross because Jesus rose as
High Priest of a new covenant. It would no longer be curse and what not
to do, but blessing and what Christ can and will do. No longer a striving
to keep the Ten Commandments, but the law of agape love written in the
heart and mind by the Holy Spirit (compare Hebrews 8:7-13 and 2 Corinthians
The New Covenant was to
be written on the softest thing, a human heart, rather than the hard stones
of the Law. God through the redemption obtained by His Son would dwell
in His people by the Holy Spirit. The tabernacle and temple would no longer
be His home, but the hearts of His children, who through repentance and
faith enter a new agreement.
Imagine two warring tribes
who continue to murder, steal, and plunder one another. The two chiefs
come together and made a blood agreement, a pact to ratify the cessation
of conflict. They slit the little bunch of blue veins at their wrists,
exchange blood, and live in harmony. God’s new covenant is a blood agreement
with rebellious man. God took the initiative by sending His Son in likeness
of human flesh to die as an offering for sin (Romans 8:3). He died once
and for all…..a full, sufficient and perfect sacrifice. Man is brought
together with God only through the holy blood of Jesus Christ.
The law of the Old covenant
is impotent to bring man to God. The law cannot set you free from condemnation,
and keeps you under Satan’s dominion. (Romans 8:1, Colossians 2:14 -16).
The law stirs up sin and strengthens sin (Romans 7:17; 1 Corinthians 15:56).
Under law sin strengthens it’s dominion over you. (Romans 6:14.). Law produces
(Romans 4:15), bringing
about God’s wrath.
The Law brings a curse (Galatians
3:13), and produces a double enmity (Ephesians 2:14-16). Praise God that
His Son brought in a new covenant of grace and was the end of the law for
righteousness to everyone who believes. (See Romans 10:4). Belief is always
repentance and faith….the change of thinking at the Cross and the change
of living because of the resurrection. We must remember we are not
saved by His death, but by His life (Romans 5:10).
Right standing with Father
is only because of the blood of the Lamb……God sees the blood covering the
believer, and the power of the holy blood purges our sin so that God cannot
remember them. Our sins are destroyed. What a redemption! What a release
from the handwriting of ordinances written against us (Colossians 2:14).
This is the greatest removal man can experience….that he is no longer under
the curse of law, but a partaker of the blessing of the Abraham. Jesus
is our burden-bearer and burden-remover in order that He may establish
through us His eternal life, love arid light.
We can only experience this
by the new birth. Something very radical must happen to man for him to
forsake his system of trying to please God and live in a new atmosphere
of faith. He has to be delivered out from the kingdom of darkness and death
and pass into the kingdom of the Son’s life (contrast John 5:24, Colossians
The context of the principle
of God removing then establishing is the matter of two covenants and the
glorious improvement of the new covenant which every born again child
of God can enjoy. However, in this study I would like to show this principle
is at work in our Christian experience in special relation to God’s
Old Testament examples
The place of removal, separation
and death, is the Cross. Old Testament saints knew this. God moulds His
servants by a work of removal. The attitude of “we’ve arrived” in
a saint or an organization is certain death. God shakes and removes those
things that can be shaken (Hebrews 12:27).
Consider Abraham living in
Ur, a developed civilization with central heating, education to university
level, but God told him to get out and trust Him for a mystery tour. He
was removed from his pagan country and family (Genesis 12:1). Although
he took Lot with him there came separation, (Genesis 13:11) and then God
re-affirmed His promise of possession.
Part of the blessing of
Abraham is material prosperity and God had to test Abraham concerning his
greatest possession, the miracle son, Isaac. Scripture’s first mention
of “love” is found in Genesis 22:2…...yet God wanted no rival for His affections
so had to wean Abraham’s emotions away from his only son.
In his heart he went through
with it. Here is a tremendous type of the Cross - where God exposed His
love to the flames of hell. After the “sacrifice”, Abraham unbound the
cords that held Isaac down and saw something of the resurrection. God removes
in order to establish something better.
By exposing Isaac to the
knife, by jettisoning Hagar and Ishmael, Abraham experienced the process
of removal in relationships. Removal was the constant feature of the pilgrim
character…..geographically he kept moving on because he knew he was not
here to stay - heaven was his home. He didn’t think of going back to Ur,
but pressed on to the better country. (Hebrews 11:15,16). If our thoughts
do linger concerning a previous place or mode of existence we get the opportunity
to return. The temptation will surely come to go back and pick up the pieces.
God removes the first to establish something better, may we recognize this
principle in the pilgrim pathways.
Moses is a classic case of
the principle. Forty years of training to be somebody, forty years of unlearning
and becoming a nobody, then forty years of learning what God could do with
a nobody. God removed the Egyptian education and taught him much more through
his mother-in-law and countless sheep! The period of solitude preceded
the time of service - loneliness before leadership. Life is a series of
links and stages - God removing our first service for him which like Moses,
was in the flesh; then establishing the something better……..serving Him
in the power of the Spirit. Moses had glanced this way and that, furtively
murdering the Egyptian. After the Midian wilderness, he was ready to use
the staff of God and deliver the chosen people from the house of bondage.
In our ministry let us recognize the point of failure, experience the period
of relearning, take up the challenge of deliverance in the wisdom
of His timing. After the removal of the first, the teaching Spirit will
come to us and. reveal why we failed and how to succeed.
The excuses of Moses reveal
what had been going on. He now had no confidence (Exodus 3:11), no faith
(Exodus 4:1) and. no speech (Exodus 4:10). He was conscious of the bankruptcy
his natural life and that his only sufficiency would be of God. God removes
the reliance we have upon our abilities and talents and establishes a dependence
upon the Holy Spirit. The tragedy with most Christians is that we begin
in the Spirit and try to perfect that in the flesh. This is because the
work of removal by the Cross has not been radical and devastating in the
dealing with our satanically inspired self-nature. (See Romans 8:13). Moses
was the meekest man on the face of the earth, his strength broken-in and
harnessed for work. He was ready to bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt
because he learnt of God in the solitude, out of the public eye.
Job is perhaps unique in
this principle of removing the first in order to establish the second.
Drastic removals crashed on the upright, perfect man who went
through an astonishing pregnancy
of sanctification. (There was a nine month time-gap between chapters 2
and 40). Removal of family, property, health, livelihood put him in a spiritual
spin of circumstances few could endure. By chapter 9 Job tries to rescue
the situation by talking theory. But head knowledge could not deal with
this and the downward drift from complaint (10:1) to presumption (13:1),
from deception (19:6) to arrogance (31:37) forces Job into a war of words.
He didn’t know God had allowed Satan to make a battleground for his soul.
God couldn’t get through, but was waiting. The removal of our tenacious
creed of who God is and how He works, in order for God to establish the
revelation of a new aspect of Jesus, is much needed truth today. God always
has to raise new voices and. ministries because denominations and organizations
stop in yesterday’s counsel.
David served the purpose
of God in his generation (Acts 13:36) by going beyond the tradition of
the day. He saw beyond the system of offerings to the opened ear, attentive
to the Holy Spirit (Psalm 40:6). Job had to get beyond his view of God.
After chapter 38, a sense of majesty, awe and glory shine into Job, imparting
humility. We only grow in maturity as God makes us see the cancer cells
of consecrated self.
We cannot bring the proud
man low if we have pride. (Job 40:11-14). This book is the story form of
death to self doctrines taught by Paul (Romans 6, 2 Corinthians 4, Philippians
3). Removal of ego must occur if God is to establish the Spirit-filled
personality. See Galatians 2:20: “yet no longer I
(ego), but Christ lives in me (personality)”.
For David, the caves Adullam
were a place of removal. God could not establish him as king until he had
learnt to see the kingdom in higher terms. Removed from the palace, the
music, Jonathan, the prosperity and the esteem, David was brought low,
down; and out with a bunch of worthless marauders. The distressed, the
discontented, those in debt gathered round the future king. 1 Samuel 25:1
tells us that Samuel, the intercessor dies. The removal is complete, so
God teaches David concerning the things of the Kingdom. The teaching Spirit
is at work in this great chapter (1 Sam. 25).
(1)The Kingdom of
God is not based on compulsion but affection. Notice v. 8 “please give”;
(2) The Kingdom of God is
not based on revenge but mercy. Notice v.13 “Each gird on his own
sword.” Vengeance is the Lord’s and but for Abigail’s wise
interception, David would have had a massacre on his conscience, which
would not be the Lord’s anointed.
(3) The Kingdom of God is
not based on pride but humility. Notice v.21, David full of hurt pride.
(4) The Kingdom of God is
not based on folly but wisdom (v.24-3l). The folly of Saul was to fight
his own battles and here David was going to do the same. Abigail’s wisdom
was immediately acknowledged by David (v.32-35).
After removal, the Lord
will teach us, will meet that part of us that has caused failure. The valley
between removal and establishment of the something better is a precious
time. God desires to remove the old nature in us and establish the new.
The Holy Spirit leads to the Cross, that death sentence of the old man,
and leads us also to the word of God that by faith and patience we may
inherit the promises, being partakers of the divine nature.
The prophets knew this principle
of removal and establishment. Ezekiel lost his wife and was not allowed
tears, but after chapter 24 the glory returns. Removals may be in the sphere
of tenderest relationships. The Cross can cut our sweetest ties. The discipleship
demanded of Jesus is emphatic:
comes to me and does not hate his own father, mother, wife and children
and brothers and. sisters, yes and his own life, he cannot be My disciple.”
That means “hate by comparison
of our love for Him.” Love for Jesus must be dominant. If we profess discipleship
He is able to remove in the area of relationship. Our love for Him is not
based in the emotions, but the will, we must keep His commandments to prove
our love. (John 14:15,21). We must be doers of the Word.
Jeremiah constantly kept
faith with the revealed Word of the Lord. It cost him his leisure, bank
balance, chances of friendship, and even his sanity at times (see Jeremiah
20:14-18). The something better, the glorious second for him was the glimpse
of the New Covenant and the reality of a better resurrection (Hebrews 11:35).
The prophetic office brings corrective teaching to the body of Christ,
and persecution remains the mark of the prophetic succession. Prophets
invariably have to take the misunderstandings and insults of other believers.
All esteem was removed from Jeremiah, but one man with God is a majority.
Only men of God who have been through the Cross escape the snare of receiving
glory from one another. Jeremiah’s commendation came from God only.
Prophets pay the price of
removal so that the establishment of “well done you good and faithful servant”
may usher in rewards of eternity. Trace removal in the lives of Isaiah
and Daniel or the minor prophets……God surely removes the first in order
to establish the second.
In The New Testament
The principle is seen with
force concerning the disciples, who had enjoyed three years of mobile bible
college with the greatest teacher the world has ever known. He was going
to leave them (see John 16:5-7); the one thing they didn't want to happen
was declared to them.
Yet this removal would trigger
off a new relationship with Him. They would begin to know Him after the
Holy Spirit, rather than after the flesh. If He didn't go, the Holy Spirit
would not come, the New Covenant would not become functional. He had to
die, rise, ascend and be the High Priest of the New Covenant. He had to
be removed from His friends. They had to let Him go in order to enter into
the blood bought realities of eternal redemption. Greater works would be
done when Jesus went to Father and poured out the Holy Spirit on the church
(John 14:12). What are these greater works? Works done in the spirit realm…..during
His earth walk Jesus did works in the physical realm…..He spoke gracious
words, raised the dead, healed lepers etc.
The Church is to be responsible
for the manifold wisdom of God in the heavenly places against evil powers
(Ephesians 3:10). Setting our minds on things above is not dreaming of
heaven, but active wrestling in the good fight of faith. May God remove
the materialistic vision amongst us in order to establish the something
better…….the fight of prevailing prayer (Ephesians 6:18). The taunt “you
are so heavenly minded you are no earthly good” should be dismissed. The
evangelical church today is so earthly minded it’s no heavenly use. Life
in the heavenlies dictate what we are here.
The Apostle Paul had the
radical reality of removal in his experience:
Removal is the first part of
sanctification, of gaining Christ. Every forward move to know God more
is marked by losing something. Gain in the natural area (wealth, nobility,
education, culture) must be counted as loss. More than that, all things
must be counted as loss. There is a time to lose our grip on things that
pull us down into the world. See I John 2:15 -17. The only way these verses
can be real in us is that we know:
things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake
of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the
surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered
the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may
gain Christ……” (Philippians 3:7,8).
The Cross is the devastating
death sentence to worldly allurements. It’s a good day when the young believer
removes his rock music collection, enters the discipline of tithing, says
no to cinema and dubious novels, begins to remove his thoughts from career
so that the Lord may establish the cardinal ethic of christianity: self
-renunciation. We have to take up our cross (Luke 9:23), a path of self
denial, a counting of all things lost so that we may gain Christ. We are
Christ’s, under the same anointing as Jesus. That anointing only breaks
forth from our spirits as the Cross is applied, to our self-life. In the
life of Jesus we can see this self- emptying process, the desire to make
Himself of no reputation, the constant process of removal. His birth was
in a manger for animals (Lk.2:12), after amazing the teachers in the temple
he became subject to Mary and Joseph (Lk. 2:51).
“But may it
never be that I should boast except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
At the Baptism He submitted
to John (Matthew 3:13), during ministry He allowed His family to call Him
insane (Mark 3:21). He counted all things loss and endured the Cross for
the joy that was set before Him. Jesus lost everything at the Cross, even
fellowship with Father. But through the drastic removals there came the
establishment of the second, the exaltation:
What a glorious, triumphant
second! Jesus made His name the greatest name over things in heaven, earth
and under the earth by going through with the Cross. The removal was followed
by the establishment of all things put in subjection under His feet (Ephesians1:22).
found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to
the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore also God highly exalted
Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name ....”
(Philippians 2:8, 9).
In the life of Paul this
principle is clearly at work. As a servant of God he faced the perpetual
crisis of removal (2 Corinthians 6:4-10) of health, liberty, sleep, food,
comfort, companion-ship. Through the Cross there is a profitable sequel,
a prosperous succession. Paul knew purity, kindness, genuine love, the
word of truth, weapons of righteousness. In the affliction he knew the
comfort of God. He could encourage believers that experience of removal
and loss was not primarily for them, but for others. Ministry is proving
God in our adversity, going through, and being a blessing to those similarly
(2 Corinthians 1: 4-7).
In this letter we get Paul
on Paul - an expose of the Cross in ministry. The vital principle of death
in us and life in you is the basis of ministry (2 Corinthians 4:12). The
more marked the Cross-life is in the pastor’s experience, the greater will
be the flow of unfettered blessing from his ministry.
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