Bill Macourt - Second Convention, Williams, Western Australia - 2005

Hymn 227

We understand that you have come in from another year facing the world and there have been joys and sorrows and we hope the joys bring some relief. Just for a while we will try and think together of some of the nice comforting things that are said in the Word of God some experienced, comforting statements and comforting experiences. Genesis Chapter 45, you know of the difficulties that had arisen between Joseph and his brethren and they had behaved very poorly but we are going to think together of the beautiful words of reconciliation. There are some words that belong to God’s kingdom and other words better left out but reconciliation belongs to the kingdom of God’s dear son; because the greatest price was paid that there might be reconciliation for time and eternity between ourselves and the Heavenly Father. The day came when those brethren who behaved as they did, were standing in the very presence of their brother. What was going to happen? Who was going to make the first move to the wonder of reconciliation? Wasn’t the moving force the Spirit of God? - The Spirit of our Redeemer in the man Joseph?

It had been entrusted to Joseph to be a type of Jesus. There were individuals in the Old Testament who were given that trust and Joseph was a man; and a younger man, who fulfilled it so very well. They must have felt very awkward when they came into the presence of their brother. They were altogether wrong and he altogether right. When we come in like this, when we give some reflection to the past it’s very easy to feel a little awkward about some things. And can’t we be so thankful as we come into the Holy presence there’s provision that all that awkwardness can be let go as we are willing to listen to the Spirit and words of reconciliation. What beautiful words they were.

Maybe we could say a little about the previous verses when Joseph couldn’t refrain himself and caused every man to go out and there was no man with him while Joseph made himself known to his brethren. We have to realise and thank God for the possibility of this reconciliation between ourselves and the Father and between one another. It has to start in this manner, an individual manner; and isn’t that a nice thing? Joseph didn’t want the Egyptians to hear what was going on. This belongs to God’s kingdom and we are thankful that we have come away from all that’s out there and we are able to hear our Father’s voice and our elder brother, Jesus. And everything can be put right before we go out again; nothing to do with what surrounds us in this world. We don’t want other influences, especially worldly influences affecting proper judgements of any kind. So when our Father speaks, if need be, there’s going to be reconciliation. Wouldn’t it be lovely? Joseph said – here we have it. The first move was made when they would have felt so awkward, by the Spirit of God in Joseph. Aren’t we thankful for that this evening? The move that made reconciliation possible in the first place; when heaven gave it’s best when Jesus came and we thank God for all that has been done and continuing to be done that we might know, not only in the beginning, but in the continuing of the journey, there can be reconciliation after failure, miserable failure.

What more beautiful words, “Come near to me, I pray you." And they came near. And he said, "I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold in Egypt.” It’s only the Spirit of God that can say words like that. He could have said a lot of things that would have been quite right, but no. It’s very comforting when some things that have troubled us, issues that we have been wrong in, and now we are together in our Father’s presence we can leave them behind altogether. The bondage is over; the distance of separation is finished with and we are coming nearer feeling the drawing power of God’s Spirit. We can’t bear to be out of touch and to allow things to have gone on as they did. Every other man was put out – the Egyptians. This is between ourselves and our Heavenly Father. If reconciliation is necessary between individuals, our Heavenly Father and Holy Spirit will be there together. Things happened in the days of Moses that were far from right.

In the chapters of Exodus, there was the making of the golden calf but we aren’t speaking of that tonight. But with the help of Moses with God’s Spirit again, to get people back on the march to the Promised Land. When we lose direction, when we meet together like this our Heavenly Father wants us to see more clearly the way to himself and home. Well, what happened? What did Moses do? He pitched the tabernacle. We were singing together and hearing together that the Lord would not be silent unto us. If there’s no clear vision, and a new vision, it’s the view of that which the tabernacle represented. It was the type and the days of the Old Testament of every detail that we have in Jesus. Moses the man of God, who knew what it was to have that rock that followed them and that rock was Christ. By the leadings of God’s Spirit there was only one hope for Israel and that was pitching the tabernacle: a renewed vision of all that we have in Jesus. Isn’t that what we need and what we have? Last week we saw the tabernacle being pitched before us when we listened to those who have paid the price and those who have put a lot into it that they might be able to pitch the tabernacle before us. It’s one of the greatest comforts for those who are getting older, younger servants of God or any of the servants of God, have got the place and are willing for what it means to learn how to pitch the tabernacle. Although it says here that Moses pitched the tabernacle, he didn’t put every bracket in place but he was responsible and there were the helpers and they pitched it according to the mind and will of God, and according to the God-given plan. We can thank God there are those who have no other desire to pitch the tabernacle, and that is to all we have in Jesus. No change! Nothing different!

It came to pass and the Lord talked with Moses – communion, and isn’t that the possibility when we make a true acceptance of the only plan, the only way that’s seen in Jesus? That leads to communion again; no by-path or anything of that kind. But they pitched the tabernacle. May God help us to be in the spirit; there is a struggle sometimes in that; but may we have an honest desire greater than ever before - we would see Jesus. We want the tabernacle pitched and we want to respect those who are able to present the tabernacle to us. I want that more and more. I have tried to appreciate that through the years of those who are learning to pitch the tabernacle and we hope there will be others because that’s the hope of God’s people and the hope of the world. I was thinking of the man Naaman when it comes to these nice words. Naaman was a very needy man and outside of God’s kingdom. We love to hear and I hope the children love to hear of the little captive girl; a nameless girl, yet she filled a great place. That old prophet did what he ought to do; he didn’t rush out and make a fuss but he sent out a message. Naaman got upset, and that’s what we will think of for a moment – but we’re thinking of nice words. But when he got upset he was going to hit back, “Are not Abana and Pharpar better than all the rivers?” There were other voices and we aren’t enlightened about them but they were voices very much in tune with heaven.

We thank God for the help that we have had down the years and were able to speak to us in the voice of heaven. “His servants came near and spake unto him and said, 'My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? How much rather then, when he saith to thee, 'Wash, and be clean?''” They were brave because you didn’t speak like that to those men back in the old days; but those servants had been learning the speech of the kingdom, “My father.” They could have said some wild words and stirred him up a bit more but they used the words and the spirit that helped to break the man down. We thank God when the first days beseeched us to be reconciled. There was no other way for Naaman but obedience to the word of the Father. And when he dipped and came up again; 6, 7 – complete obedience! No stopping short; the flesh of a little child and a new beginning. There’s no other way. There are the conditions, not only at the beginning but all along the way.

We’re still thinking of words of comfort: I suppose it happens to most of us when things get difficult or upset. Maybe some don’t get upset, but our thoughts can thrash around all over the place and mostly not profitable but we accomplish nothing: only getting deeper in and further away. The Psalmist said - it doesn’t appear to be David because he didn’t write all the psalms - but we come to this verse, “Until I went into the sanctuary of God then understood I their end.” He had foolishly been thinking of the wicked and he had lost the vision. Maybe as we have journeyed out there in the world there are various effects it can have, and we might think we had the best. But when we go out the gate, we will have a deeper understanding that God’s little ones have the absolute best in life and all eternity. Until he went into the sanctuary he was maybe, influenced by worldly thinking; and that’s easy. But we need to be careful that the influences around doesn’t brush off and we get an outlook that’s not profitable.

The Psalmist was honest to say in his heart, “Until I went into the sanctuary,” and all the vision changed. I hope we have the sanctuary experience as we abide together. The sanctuary was that building set out there in the desert and, to the human eye, it wasn’t appealing – badger skins dried in the sun; the children saw it afar off. It wasn’t something that appealed naturally, like the man acquainted with grief. But when they would proceed to the tabernacle, not give up but get there, and then view the beautiful things within: the wonderful hangings of the curtains, everything that spoke of the one who came from heaven. Is it any wonder that the Psalmist said, “Until I went in.” If he had taken the worldly view he would never have seen the beauty. Well, we are leaving the world behind: it’s thinking, it’s ways and everything connected, and we are going to press in with the help of God to see the beauty that is within the tabernacle. It’s quite a subject and we might get lost, but the wonderful provision when the veil of the temple was rent in twain and we have the right to our Redeemer. I hope we are going to get the sanctuary view again and we will despise the other kind of thinking and we will want the God of Heaven to receive us and give us clarity of vision that we will be able to stand upright and finish with the comfort of words of truth.

Somehow I got back again to our old friend Peter, John chapter 6 where the Master is making the true way clearer and clearer in wonderful language; when He got to the end that day some of His disciples, not the Pharisees, turned back and walked no more with Him. What a day: turning back! Saying very likely in their hearts, “This is going too far,” when He was revealing the earlier times of the way of truth. These days the Holy Spirit wants to lead us more and more into the Truth as it is in Jesus; without acceptance, not leaving little bits out. The Holy Spirit wants to lead us into all the Will of God. Are we willing to follow? From that day some turned back and walked no more with Him: finished, and finished for all eternity. It’s a serious thing isn’t it? He turned and asked those men, “Will you also go back?” And Judas was there, but we have those beautiful words, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” No other words clarified it; little bits added to. But Peter spoke up with assurance and conviction. Isn’t it nice if we get a better grip of the words of assurance: no change, no differences from the way it came from heaven, “Thou art the Christ.”

Do you know where Peter got it? “Whom say ye that I am?” Peter answered in a similar manner because he didn’t get that out of his imagination, but that revelation came from heaven. Do you know why we are here tonight? Because others got a revelation by the aid of God’s Holy, quickening Spirit when we wanted to be His, and His for all eternity. I hope as we go out again that conviction is going to be stronger than ever. It’s a pity when someone makes a statement and it becomes wishy washy, but there was no qualifying it with Peter. No doubt Peter and the apostles probably knew a lot who turned away; but what of themselves? They had a depth of decision that they would stay with the one who would lead them home to heaven. Paul, in his second letter to Timothy – things had happened, and he wrote, “For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know in whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” Isn’t that a beautiful comforting statement of assurance? Paul was writing to Timothy and he knew he would be leaving him soon, so when Paul left he was absolutely sure of the decisions he made on the Damascus road – when no doubt there were other voices – “I know in whom I have believed.” That was the hymn that Sam Jones wrote. There were other voices but Paul heard the voice from heaven and that’s the voice he believed and now he wanted Timothy and all he would be speaking to, to be reassured. He knew very well, quite soon he was going across time’s horizon and wanted Timothy and all those who have absolute certainty that the person of God’s dear son – I was led to believe in. It speaks of, “I have committed unto Him against that day.” What day? That day when he would have to give an account before the judge of all the earth, he had committed himself into the care of the Great Shepherd of the sheep and he didn’t have the slightest doubt about it. They are words of comfort. He was still talking to Timothy, “Nevertheless, the foundation of God standeth sure.” There were a lot of things added up in the word ‘nevertheless’, but let those things be. You know there are things that come under the description of ‘nevertheless’ but we are going to see as God’s Spirit leads us into true belief once again. It hasn’t made one little bit of difference, “Nevertheless, the foundation stands sure.”

Some heard the true gospel a long time ago and some recently, and little people amongst us, I hope they will be led on and they are going to embrace these words of comfort right here in God’s word in regard to the foundation. Embrace it with deep assurance without any clarifying thoughts or words in your own minds and hearts. Then we will have the peace of God and we will be able to stand upright amongst our fellows.