At the beginning of the New Year, I posted a blog in Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe based on my theme and scriptural focal point for 2012. In this case, I had selected Isaiah 62, a passage that most providentially contains twelve verses. In studying the chapter, I decided to write a series of poems, as I personalized each of the twelve verses, calling the collection “Twelve for Twelve for 2012.” Here is the link to the first installment, published in two parts, inspired by Isaiah 62:1: “One for Twelve”:
The series continues with the seventh installment “Seven for Twelve,” a personalized poetic rendering of Isaiah 62:6, posted on July 4, 2012 (7-4-12). Here is Isaiah 62:7 from the New Living Testament:
Give the Lord no rest until he completes his work,
until he makes Jerusalem the pride of the earth.
Seven for Twelve
Give the Lord no rest until he completes his work.
The one who began the work is the faithful one.
Remind Him that what He began is not yet done.
Give the Lord no rest until he completes his work.
Until He establishes the City of Peace,
Do not hold your peace but pray for Jerusalem,
For the Lord’s heart is always turned toward them
Until He establishes the City of Peace.
Until he makes Jerusalem the pride of the earth,
Until the whole earth shall marvel at her splendor,
Do not hold back, always pray, never surrender
Until he makes Jerusalem the pride of the earth.
Recently during a time of meditation and reflection, God brought to mind a passage of scripture, part of which I had memorized and repeated countless times. Especially during the past twelve years, I have been mindful the last part Exodus 15:26:
And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee
As I meditated deeply upon the words “. . . I am the Lord that healeth thee,” God gently spoke to me as a Father speaks to his son, saying “Now what did I say?” I repeated that portion of scripture several times. After each time, God gently spoke, asking, “Now did I say?” That experience brought to mind verses 6 and 7 from Isaiah 62, whereby Israel is exhorted to remind God of His promise to restore Jerusalem to a place splendor and prominence in all the earth.
In a similar way that a child would remind a father of his promise when the fulfillment of that promise has not yet arrived, like Israel, we are encouraged to “give God no rest “until he makes Jerusalem the pride of the earth.” Just as Jerusalem is to be a brilliant display of the creative ingenuity of God Almighty, the Church is likewise to be a magnificent demonstration of the glorious, infinitely variegated, wisdom of God that will confound and astound the principalities and powers of the heavenly realm when it is brought to a place of prominence, revealing God’s intent.
About four years ago my wife and I visited family and friends in San Francisco and Los Angeles. During our stay in the City by the Bay, we enjoyed a most enlightening experience at the Asian Museum where we saw a special exhibit from the Ming Dynasty. One of the pieces on display was a stationery box which is similar to this one. Although the final product reveals what the designer had in mind, we do not see how the object looked at the various stages of development. So it is with the Church which is still a work in progress, but I believe that God is putting “the finishing touches on His crowning achievement.”
Not too long ago, we celebrated Pentecost, a feast of great importance in the Christian Church, but technically the Church of the One Body was not born or did it actually start on the Day of Pentecost; however, what transpired there was of great significance in its unfolding. Without a doubt Pentecost was a watershed moment whereby the world was forever changed. This poem “Exquisite Exhibit” conveys in part my thoughts regarding the Church and my part in this amazing masterpiece of God’s creation.
Viewing a Ryoshi-bako (stationery box)
Power and Glory: Court Arts of China’s Ming Dynasty
Asian Museum–San Francisco, California
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew
in Christ Jesus so that we can do the good things
he planned for us long ago.
God’s purpose was to show his wisdom in all its rich variety
to all the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.
They will see this when Jews and Gentiles
are joined together in his church.
Sublime thoughts never diminish, only increase,
As I marvel at this ancient masterpiece.
The designer sees the end long before he starts
And envisions intricate details of the parts
And fashions a wood box inlaid with jade and gold,
Lacquered vessel for deepest thoughts the mind can hold.
Beyond all that I see, God formed and fashioned me
With precise measure of each scroll and filigree.
Displayed by the skillful hands of the Master craftsman,
Beyond the finest design of any artisan,
The Church, exquisite exhibit now on display,
Treasures from the hand of God take one’s breath away.
With the eyes of our heart now opened, we find
We are the masterpiece Jehovah had in mind.
Here is a photograph of such a stationery box, a lacquered work of art that is similar to the one that I viewed and described while in California.
Just as Isaiah declared the Word of the Lord, that Israel, in the midst of captivity, was to remind God continually of His promise that He would deliver them from bondage and ultimately make Jerusalem a magnificent display of His glory, so should the members of the Body of Christ bring to God’s attention that He promised to transform the Church in a similar manner.
Individually, each member of the Body of Christ must recognize that he or she contributes to this exquisite exhibit of God’s glorious creation, the Church of Jesus Christ. The place where we find ourselves today, individually and corporately, is not where we will ultimately be. Philippians 1:6 reminds us of this:
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
This verse brings to mind the contemporary Christian song: “He Who Began a Good Work in You,” performed by Steve Green
Sometimes the rigors of life may cause us to forget that we are God’s workmanship, and the Psalmist also brings this to mind:
The LORD will fulfill [his purpose] for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever–do not abandon the works of your hands. [NIV]
Indeed, we are all a work in progress, and God is putting “His finishing touch on His crowning achievement.” As members of the Body of Christ, his glorious church, we are reminded of what Jesus Christ declared to Peter that Christ would build his church upon “the rock”of the revelation that Peter spoke when he identified the Lord, as Christ, the son of the living God. In Matthew 6:17-18 the Lord went on to say:
And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Kevin J. Conner in his landmark work, The Church in the New Testament,” makes know the purpose of the Church in the closing chapter:
“We will find that the reason for the existence of the Church is basically four-fold. God had an eternal purpose in mind when He planned creation and redemption. This purpose was manifested in Christ, and it is an “eternal purpose.” This great purpose is THE CHURCH. Nothing will frustrate the eternal purposes of God in Christ and His Church (Ephesians 3). All things work together for good to them that are called according to this purpose (Romans 8:26-28).”
Four-fold Purpose of the New Testament Church:
- Ministry to the Lord
- Ministry to the Saints
- Ministry to the Sinner
- Ministry of Conquering Satan and His Kingdom
For a more in-depth discussion of the topic, I highly recommend The Church in the New Testament, a resource designed to bring a clearer understanding of the Church, both universally and locally, by showing God’s eternal plan for His people.
Listen to the powerful lyrics to “Let the Church Rise.” This song provides the perfect ending this blog entry, as we consider deeply this glorious note of possibility expressed in the video performed by Jonathan Stockstill: