According to Ezek. 44:17-18, those who minister to the Lord should not wear woolen but linen garments, so that they would not sweat; this means that as we serve the Lord we should do a work with no sweat, no human effort, a work under God’s blessing.
We want to be those who minister to the Lord, those who not only do many outward necessary things in the church life bit who inwardly contact the Lord, spend much time privately with Him, and pray much.
Our spiritual strength is indicated not by how much we can do for the Lord but by how much we pray privately before Him.
The Lord Jesus did so much work for God, but He always retreated in the wilderness or on the mountain to spend intimate and private time with the Father. The source of His spiritual strength was His spending much time with the Father.
Even when He made a miracle, instead of basking in the glory of this event, He would send the crowds away and compel His disciples to go across the sea, while He Himself would go up on the mountain privately to pray.
We need to learn from the Lord’s pattern to not merely do many things for God but to go into our private room and spend much time with our Father in secret. No one can minister to the Lord without drawing near to Him to pray.
Just like the sons of Zadok, we need to stand before God by spending much time with Him in prayer, and we need to offer Him the blood and the get, that is, offer God the Father Christ and His redemptive work for His satisfaction and our covering.
We may wonder, What shall we pray about when we shut our door and spend time with the Father? We should not invent prayers or seek for things to pray about, but we should simply open to the Lord, let Him speak to us, let Him infuse us with His will and desire, and then simply offer Christ to God.
We need to enjoy Christ, appreciate Christ, and offer Christ to God for His satisfaction. Only Christ can satisfy God. Only Christ is the one who can be our standing before God.
We need to take Christ, enjoy Him, and offer Him to God in our personal, private, and spiritual time with the Father. May we be those who minister to the Lord by spending much time privately with the Father with Christ.
Ministering to the Lord with no Human Effort or Sweat but in Rest under God’s Blessing
The priests who ministered to the Lord in the holy place and the Holy of Holies were not allowed to wear woolen garments or anything that would cause sweat (Ezek. 44:17-18). They could wear only linen garments – linen turban, linen tunic, and linen trousers.
God doesn’t want His people to sweat in His presence while ministering to Him. Why? Sweat is a sign of the curse, a sign of man under God’s curse, laboring and toiling by his own effort away and apart from God, not under His blessing and not in His presence (see Gen. 3:19).
The first sweat was by Adam after he was sent out of the garden of Eden, it was the sweat of toiling and laboring to produce food for himself. In ministering to the Lord would should not sweat, that is, we should not labor by our human efforts without the blessing of God.
What is the work that causes sweat? It is the work that comes out of human effort without the blessing from God the Father. Everyone ministering to God should absolutely abstain from any work that causes sweat.
In ministering to the Lord we should wear linen garments, that is, we should have a daily living and walk in the life-giving Spirit by the life of Christ; such a living and walk is pure, clean, and fine. We should daily exercise our spirit to enjoy and be filled with the life-giving Spirit, and live in a pure, clean, and fine way.
As we serve the Lord and minister to Him, we inwardly minister to the Lord, and we should be serene in our being – not at all toiling, laboring, or having a lot of human effort, but resting in the Lord.
We should always seek God’s blessing, His energy, and His strength, and we should minister to the Lord with God’s blessing and by His energy and strength. Whenever we serve the Lord we should tell Him, Lord, I want You to be my blessing, my energy, and my strength.
He is our effort, He is our strength, He is our ability, and He is our power.
As seen in Isa. 30:15, in returning to the Lord with all our heart and in taking Him as our rest, we experience Him as our salvation and strength.
We need to turn to the Lord, rest in Him, enjoy Him, open all our heart to Him, and experience Him as our salvation; then, we will experience Him as our quietness, our trust in the Lord, and He will become our strength.
All of God’s work is in peace – it is serene, for it is not accomplished by running around and doing many things, but by sitting down. Outwardly we may be very busy, but inwardly we are restfully; outwardly we may do many things, but inwardly we are calm and serene, resting in the Lord.
The work for the Lord and ministering to Him causes no sweat. All the real work before God is not accidental nor is it accomplished by fleshly effort; rather, it should be under God’s blessing, in rest and peace.
In slaying the cattle and sheep outside we may sweat, but in ministering to the Lord in the Holy Place we are not allowed to sweat; rather, we should serve not by our own human effort or zeal but by God as our strength, power, energy, and blessing.
Lord Jesus, make us those who minister to the Lord not by our human effort or sweat but in rest, peace, and under God’s blessing. Save us from merely being busy doing Your work outwardly without being calm, at peace, and in rest inwardly. Lord, we return to You with all our heart and we take You as our Sabbath rest; we want to experience You as our salvation, our quietness, our trust in the Lord, so that You may become our strength. May our work for the Lord be by God’s power and energy, and under God’s blessing.
Spending Time in God’s Presence and Dealing Properly with Him to no longer Sweat but Rest in Him as we Work for Him
If we don’t spend an adequate amount of time with the Lord and deal properly with Him, we will sweat and toil, and we will labor by our human efforts as we work for the Lord.
But if we spend time in God’s presence and deal properly with Him, there is no need to sweat before man; rather, we will accomplish the most amount of work with the least amount of strength.
The Lord Jesus calls all those who toil and are burdened to come to Him and learn from Him; He gives us rest, and He gives us His yoke (which is easy) and His burden (which is light) – see Matt. 11:28-30.
We need to come to the Lord again and again and spend an adequate amount of time in His presence, opening to Him and learning from Him. In the Lord’s presence we will find rest for our souls, and His yoke (the Father’s will) and His burden (carrying out the Father’s will) will be easy and light.
Whenever we feel that our yoke is difficult and our burden is heavy, we are having the wrong yoke and burden; we should come to the Lord, find rest for our soul, and learn from Him.
It is very important in our serving the Lord and ministering to Him to spend time with Him and deal with Him. The work in spirit is contacting the Lord first, and not man; the work of the flesh is to contact man first.
We need to be in God’s presence and deal with Him alone. This doesn’t mean that we don’t take care of our responsibilities or we don’t do the necessary activities; it means that inwardly we are in the Lord’s presence, at rest and in peace, and outwardly we labor for Him and do His work, yet without any sweat before man.
It is possible to labor for the Lord and work for Him, doing many things, yet without human effort, zeal, or sweat. When we spend an adequate amount of time with the Lord, dealing with Him alone, He will become our strength, energy, and power, and we will not have human sweating or effort.
Unfortunately, this is not our experience yet; we are still laboring by our human effort, and we still sweat before man. We should examine ourselves before the Lord and ask Him,
Oh Lord, am I really ministering to You or to the work? Is my ministry unto the house or unto You? Am I just working and toiling by my human effort, or do I labor by Your strength and energy? Lord Jesus, I want to minister to You and do a spiritual work. I am willing to give up the outward things and come to You inwardly, enter within, more deeply within the spirit and be with You!
There are so many people who minister to God’s house, laboring and toiling, and God doesn’t need more of these; what He want is that His people would minister to Him; He wants us to be willing to drop everything, let go of all the work, forsake the outward things, and minister to the Lord by spending time in God’s presence and dealing properly with Him.
May the Lord gain us to be such ones!
May we realize that it is our need to daily spend time with the Lord, deal with Him personally, and work with His strength, by His power, and for His glory. May there be no sweat or human effort in our ministering to the Lord in His house.
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by Ed Marks for this week, and portions from, Collected Works of Watchman Nee, vol. 11, “Ministering to the House or to God?” as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Crystallization-study of Ezekiel (2), msg. 9 (week 21 in the HWMR), Ministering to the Lord to Enjoy Him as the Hidden Manna, the Budding Rod, and the Law of Life.
- Hymns on this topic:
# In the flesh I need no effort to express / Marks of Adam’s nature and its sinfulness; / In the spirit I need not to strive or strain, / I can live as He is and in spirit reign. (Hymns #593)
# In the fresh, tender grass Jesus makes me lie down; / He leads me by waters of rest; / No more struggle and strain; all self-effort is vain; / In the flow I am perfectly blessed. (Hymns #1191)
# But when at last I come to Thee, / Thy searching light uncovers me, / I see what I could never see- / My self exposed. / I wither ‘neath Thy piercing ray, / And all my strength dissolves away, / My self-esteem in dust I lay, / And lowly bow. (Hymns #430)
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