A Freewill Offering
A Peculiar Treasure
But what did it mean, this living at Jerusalem - this living at the very heart of the testimony, in other words? For sine the wall represents the testimony, people coming into residence within the wall in Jerusalem really represented a spiritual movement - that there are those who are prepared to live right at the heart of the testimony. It was necessary, and it always is necessary, to the Lord that some do that - come right into the heart of it, to be there in the place of responsibility concerning it. There is a need that the testimony should be taken up with a sense of responsibility for its maintenance, that it shall be kept whole, that it shall be guarded, that it shall be served, that it shall be ministered to. If you look at the details concerning those who came within, you see their various ministries. I cannot take up the detail now, but you will see the various ministries which were represented by those who came into Jerusalem. They came in to fulfill a ministry, a spiritual ministry, on the inside, and take responsibility there. It was a need the testimony required.
A Great Cost
But there was a great cost attached to it. Not everybody was prepared for that, not at all. There were many who were ready for it, who accepted the method of choice to live inside, who were not called upon to do so, but there were those who, in the sovereign overruling of God, found themselves called upon to do so. The lot fell out in their direction. God sovereignly saw to it that that was how things went for them, and it represented a real cost. It was very much nicer to live outside Jerusalem than inside. These men came into the city, on that day when the lot was to be cast, ready to accept the result as the will of God for them.
And then the lot was cast, and it fell to them to come and live in the city. I can imagine some of those men going back to their suburban dwellings, wondering what the reaction was going to be at home about this; saying to their wives: 'My dear, we have to go and live in the city, we have to move into Jerusalem - the lot has fallen to us.' Well, of course, the right kind of wife would say this: 'My dear, it was a matter of prayer, was it not? WE prayed about it, that if it was to come our way the Lord would overrule, that if He wanted us He would let the lot fall on us. It was before the Lord; it is all right, the Lord wants it. Of course, it means giving up our nice little country house and our nice garden. it means losing that circle of friends we have out here. But still the Lord has laid it on us and we do not do it with any murmuring. But there are the children - perhaps that is the hardest part of all, the children. They have to lose so much - this free life out here, this life with all these others out here in the larger scale. They are involved in this.' And then they would turn to the children, and say: 'Listen, children: we have got to go and live in the city. We shall have to leave the country, and the garden, and all these others out here, and go to Jerusalem for the Lord, because the Lord wants it.' They would be very happy parents to whom the children said: 'Yes, we realize that your devotion to the Lord is costing you something, it is meaning a lot for you; and if we are involved in it, well, of course it means a lot to us - but we are with you in this.'
I do not think that is all imagination. I am quite sure that it was a costly thing to move into Jerusalem - and it always is costly to live at the heart of the testimony. Those who do so must forgo many things that other people may have. You lose the large circle of friends when you go right to the heart of the Lord's interests. There are many people who do not understand you doing that; they call you foolish, you lose their confidence. hey cannot believe that the way you are taking is right, and they would argue, 'Surely that is not the Lord's will for you.' Yes, you lose many friends, and you may lose many other things; you may involve your children too - they may lose must if you are going wholly with the Lord.
But listen - "They shall be ... a peculiar treasure." To be a peculiar treasure of the Lord surely balances the account - nay, outweighs that. If you are going on with the Lord, it means that there are many things that you would like to have, many things quite legitimate and right, many things about which there is nothing wrong, but which, because of your utterness for the Lord, you will have to let go. And if you involve others in the suffering and cost of it all, that is a very bitter draught from the cup. There is nothing to indicate that these people who were chosen to move into Jerusalem did not have a bit of a struggle about it, that it did not cost them something; but the fact is that in their willingness to go on with the Lord they triumphed over all.
I think it is a wonderful thing that in the arrangement of the Books of the Bible there is such a big gap between Nehemiah and Malachi, and that Malachi comes right at the end with: "They shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in the day that I do make, even a peculiar treasure." It is costly in many ways to live at the heart of the testimony. Again I say, you may be deprived of many things - good things; you may lose a lot of friends; you may lose a larger life of opportunity. Oh, how many have stopped, saying: 'How many doors will be closed to me if I go that way! How much wide influence I shall forfeit! I shall narrow my scope if I go that way.' And many have refused on those grounds, thinking that it was a legitimate argument to hold on to a larger scope and larger influence against the whole mind of the Lord - a wrong way of estimating values, because values are not bigness; they are intrinsic and essential.
(continued with # 13 - "The Intrinsic Value of the Peculiar Treasure")