An Appeal to the People of God (continued)
These four books represent that something; and in every case you find the state of the vessel mentioned as being under a very great burden concerning the Lord's testimony, His interests, His Name, and His people for that name. That is the second common factor.
I am going to stay here awhile, for it is here that ministry begins.
On the whole today, the Lord's full thought and conception is not the general thing found among His people. The testimony of the Lord has largely broken down, and the great multitude called by His Name are governed and manipulated and controlled by something that is religiously of the earth and not of the heavens, of man and not of the Holy Spirit; and there needs to be seen the impossibility of accepting that state of things.
It is one thing to recognize that and quite another thing to be in relation with the Lord's movement to recover for Himself that which is according to His mind. One can be occupied all the time with the bad state of things, bemoan it, make people feel miserable, and yet never get anywhere. That is not sufficient; I expect there were plenty in Chaldea who bemoaned things and spoke of "the good old days"! It is quite easy to do that, and in a sense be religious malcontents; but that is not being active in the Lord's recovery movement. The Lord would act in relation to this thing, and He is acting. Ezra opens with the sovereign activity of God (chapter 1:1). God acts not only from the outside, not only sovereignly, but there is something that precedes it, that makes possible His activity, that brings in the sovereignty of God.
All these who represent His vessel for dealing with the situation were men who had a great burden about the situation, and they are no use to God in a situation like that unless in the burden of it.
We see Ezra latterly spreading himself out before Go in such a way that the people gathered around to see him, and when they saw his desperate concern over the state of things, they were so tremendously moved that no sooner had he finished praying than they came to him and sought to have things put right. So we see Ezra away in Jerusalem with a great burden for the Lord's testimony.
(continued with # 3)