Knowing God and knowing God’s ways leads us to serving God; we are saved by God and delivered by Him from the usurpation of the world so that we may serve God. The matter of serving God is a grand subject in the Bible, and this week we are approaching it in the context of the book of Exodus to see, in a crystallized way, this great matter of serving the Lord.
Before He began His earthly ministry, the Lord Jesus was led by the Spirit to the wilderness, and there He was tempted by the devil for forty days. The second of the three tests the devil took Him through was the matter of worship: he showed the Lord all the glory of the world and all the things in it, saying that he will give it all to Him if He worships him.
Here the devil was tempting the Lord with all that he owned; the devil had the right to claim the ownership and rulership over the world, since it was probably given to him by God in a previous pre-adamic age. Satan owns the glory of all the kingdoms of the world, and he made the Lord an offer that people usually can’t refuse: He just needed to worship the devil, and all these would be his.
But the Lord Jesus took the stand of a man and said, It is written, you shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve. There’s a great struggle today between Satan and God not only for man’s soul but also for man’s worship, for man’s worship.
In Exodus we see this in the struggle between Pharaoh and God. There is a struggle today between Satan and Gan for our worship, for our service; Satan and God are two enemies, and they fight and struggle to get man’s worship and service.
In redeeming and saving us, the Lord didn’t just do it only so that we may have eternal life and be saved; the purpose and goal of God’s salvation is that we would serve Him.
In his parting word to Israel, Joshua spoke at length to them concerning serving Jehovah (see Joshua 24:14-24), and he clearly told them that as for him and his house he will serve Jehovah. If we serve God, we are blessed, but if we promise to serve God and then fall for other gods, we offend God and cause Him to be jealous.
We need to be careful when making the choice of serving God. Once we choose to serve God, we will serve Him forever; even in the New Jerusalem we will serve God.
Just to be saved and delivered from the world is not enough; we need to serve God – we are saved to serve God, and without serving God, our salvation is somewhat aimless and purposeless. When God saved us, we received a double calling: we are called to be saved and to serve.
Being Saved from the Usurpation of the World to be Separated unto God and Serve God
In his conflicts with Pharaoh and during the ten plagues and the five times of bargaining, God’s message was clear, Let My people go that they may serve Me in the wilderness (see Exo. 7:16; 5:1; 4:23; 8:1, 20; 9:1, 13; 10:3).
God’s desire for His people was not just to save them and rescue them from under the usurpation of Egypt and slavery of Pharaoh but to have them as a people who serve God in the wilderness. The goal of being delivered by God is to serve Him; if we are merely delivered and saved but do not serve God, our salvation is incomplete.
The children of Israel have been usurped by Pharaoh to serve as slaves to carry out the purpose of the Egyptians (see Exo. 14:12). We may not be under a physical Pharaoh in our Christian life, but Pharaoh signifies Satan and also the self, the natural man, our natural mind and will and emotion, and all things that rebel against God, bargains subtly with Him, and hinder us from serving God.
God doesn’t just want to deliver us from the usurpation of the world; he wants us to serve Him; it’s not just a matter of freedom from Satan and his usurpation but of serving God.
God created us in His image and according to His likeness so that we may serve Him. God called Abraham not only to enter into the good land but also to serve God.
Usually the wilderness is a negative place, a place of wandering and of testing, but in a positive sense the wilderness signifies a realm of separation. We need to be separated from anything worldly unto God, live in the reality of our baptism (dead to the world and living to God), and serve God in this separation unto Him.
Many times we need to separate ourselves even physically from anything electronic, of the internet, and of the distractions in the world, so that we may spend time with God and serve Him only.
We need to be in a separated condition, in a sanctified place, where we can serve God. Without being separated unto God we cannot serve God, just as the children of Israel could not serve God in Egypt.
If we are still in the world or with one leg in the world, we cannot serve the Lord. The church life, God’s green garden with the all-inclusive Christ as our full enjoyment, is at the same time a “wilderness”, a place of separation unto God where we enjoy nothing but God Himself.
Lord Jesus, thank You for saving us from the world so that we may be separated unto You and serve You. Lord, continue to deliver us from any usurpation of the enemy so that we may be sanctified unto God and serve God in this separated place. Oh Lord, may we not only be saved and delivered but be those who serve God so that we may enjoy God’s full salvation! May we hear Your word, Let My people God that they may serve Me in the wilderness! Bring us into a separated place to serve You by enjoying You and feasting on You!
We are Serving God by Feasting with God to Enjoy God with God and to Worship God
What does it mean to serve God in the wilderness? “Let My people go that they may hold a feast to Me in the wilderness” (Exo. 5:1); “Let us go and sacrifice to Jehovah” (v. 17). To serve God is to hold a feast unto Him and it has to do with offering of sacrifices to Jehovah.
Serving the Lord has nothing to do with our natural understanding of doing some “holy work for God” or merely with doing things for the Lord. The main thing in serving God is holding a feast unto Him and offering sacrifices to Him.
We are “serving ones”, servers of God, those who minister to God’s needs, make God happy, please God, give God food, and satisfy God. God wants His people to come into a realm of separation and serve God by holding a feast unto Him and offer sacrifices to Him.
God’s goal was not merely that His people would be separated unto God but that the children of Israel would hold a feast to Him and sacrifice to Him (Exo. 5:1, 3, 8, 17). God’s demand of Pharaoh was to let the people go a three days’ journey into the wilderness so that they could hold a feast to Him and sacrifice to Him; this is the enjoyment of God’s salvation.
We were saved by God not just to be separated unto Him but to enjoy God’s full salvation. Because of God’s full salvation, we have been delivered from bondage in the world to serve God; now we are in the wilderness enjoying the feast and offering sacrifices to God (Exo. 8:20, 26-27, 29).
To hold a feast unto God is to enjoy God with God. Everyone who has truly been saved has experienced times of overflowing with joy in the Lord’s presence. Such times are real holidays. If you have not enjoyed such a feast with the Lord but have only been happy when participating in worldly amusements, then perhaps you have not yet been saved. Being saved does not depend upon having such an enjoyment. Nevertheless, everyone who is saved will have the experience, at least once in his Christian life, of holding a feast to the Lord, of enjoying the Lord in His presence. Sometimes I have been so beside myself with joy in the Lord that it seemed as if I were dancing before Him. This is not doctrine or theory but a marvelous enjoyment of our salvation. (Witness Lee, Life-Study of Exodus)
As God’s people we need to keep a feast unto Him and offer Him sacrifices day and night. To hold a feast to God is to enjoy God with God and to worship God. God wants us to be delivered from the usurpation of the world and the tyranny of Satan and be separated unto Him to serve Him by feasting on Him and with Him.
God is not happy to see His people under the usurpation of Satan in the world, toiling and laboring to accomplish Satan’s purpose; He wants them to be released and have a feast to make God happy!
We see this also in John 4; here the Lord talked to a Samaritan woman concerning the worship of God, and He told her that today God is still seeking those who worship Him in spirit and truthfulness by drinking of Him as the living water.
The real worship the Lord desires from us is that we would drink Him as the living water as we contact Him as the Spirit with our spirit; this is the New Testament worship.
To serve the Lord is to feast on Him, and in our feasting we enjoy God with God; when we enjoy the Lord and drink Him, God is satisfied, and He drinks and eats with us. Hallelujah, our destiny is to make God happy by feasting with Him, serving Him, and loving Him only!
Lord Jesus, we want to enjoy God’s full salvation by feasting on the Lord and with the Lord day by day! We want to be those who serve God and worship God by drinking Him as the living water, feasting on Him and with Him in His presence, and offering sacrifices to God. May today be a day full of enjoying God with God. We want to experience God’s full salvation by enjoying God, feasting with God, and offering Christ to God for God’s satisfaction and our satisfaction together with God!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by brother Minoru C. for this week, and portions from Life-study of Exodus, msgs. 13, 20 (by Witness Lee), as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Crystallization-Study of Exodus (part 4, 2016 Summer Training), week 3 / msg. 3, Serving God.
- Hymns on this topic:
# His wondrous grace has found me! / From sin’s bondage I am freed, / I’m drinking living water, salvation’s bounteous feast; / Praise God! What riches! Oh what sweetness! / Overflowing joy and praise! / Oh, hallelujah! I’m saved by grace! (Song on being saved to serve)
# Lord, hear my prayer and gain all in my family! / My heart is burning with this vow to You: / “I and my house will serve the Lord forever!” / We’ll worship God for He alone is true! (Song on Serving the Lord)
# We love the church life, eating, / drinking, breathing Jesus. / We love the church life, taking / in God’s Word. / We love to hear those “O Lord, / Amen, Hallelujahs!” / We love the church life, feasting / with the Lord. (Song on Eating the Lord)
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