– Isaiah 61:1b-6b
That struck cold on my ears, for her dungeons had a reputation. Nothing occurred to me to say or do. But not so with [my companion] Sandy. As the guard laid a hand upon me, she piped up with the tranquilest confidence, and said, "...Dost covet destruction, thou maniac!? It is The Boss!"
The effect upon madame was electrical. It cleared her countenance and brought back her smiles and all her persuasive graces and blandishments.... She said, "I did but play this little jest with hope to surprise you into some display of your art, as not doubting you would blast the guards with occult fires, consuming them to ashes on the spot, a marvel much beyond mine own ability, yet one which I have long been childishly curious to see."
The guards were less curious, and got out as soon as they got permission.
"Ye will do in all things as this lord shall command," [said Morgan le Fay]. "It is The Boss...."
The queen's guards fell into line, and she and they marched away, with their torch-bearers, and woke the echoes of the cavernous tunnels with the measured beat of their retreating footfalls. I had the prisoner taken from the rack and placed upon his bed, and medicaments applied to his hurts, and wine given him to drink....
Then I said, "Now, my friend, tell me your side of this matter ... If my reputation has come to you right and straight, you should not be afraid to speak."
[His wife] broke in, eagerly: "Ah, dear my lord, an ye will but persuade him! Consider how these his tortures wound me! Oh, and he will not speak!--whereas, the healing, the solace that lie in a blessed swift death--"
"What are you maundering about? He's going out from here a free man and whole--he's not going to die."
The man's white face lit up, and the woman flung herself at me in a most surprising explosion of joy, and cried out: "He is saved!--for it is the king's word by the mouth of the king's servant--Arthur, the king whose word is gold!"
--A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court, by Mark Twain: Chapters 16 and 17 (excerpts)
* * *
Our last Isaiah 61 expedition broke off mid-sentence, as we meditated on a solemn promise made to our Lord's "Blessed Mourners" (those who share His heart of compassion and action for the lost): "You shall be called priests of the Lord...." (verse 6a). And we discovered the blessed role of the believer as a New Testament priest: for inspiration, instruction, righteousness, and spreading the glorious gospel of redemption in Jesus Christ.
But then, verse 6b caps off that thought with the assurance that we will further be called "the Servants of our God."
OK, so the "priest" part sounded pretty good; but how does "servant" add anything?
"Servant of God": cliché, and pretext nowadays for anything from ... why the pastor doesn't need a raise, to ... why it's my "holy calling" to pontificate on social media. And yet, we know that Scripture contains no idle thought, so let's have a closer look at what this promise means: "THEY SHALL CALL YOU the Servants of our God."
Think of it! We who identify as "Blessed Mourners" are ordained by Jesus Christ Himself to carry on His Isaiah 61 commission until the end of the age. And we've already seen what-all that entails! In short, just like the Early Church, we're sent forth to turn the world upside down.
But HOW? Maybe you feel just as Moses did, as he expressed at the burning bush: (a) I'm not impressive, (b) I'm not good at public speaking, and (c) in the end ... why should anyone listen to me!?
Notice that God never disagreed with Moses' statements. Instead, he graciously helped Moses understand that it wasn't about him; it was about HIM.
"God said to Moses, "I AM Who I AM." And He said, "Say this to the people of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'" (Exodus 3:14) And, sure enough, the people responded by acknowledging him as a "Servant of our God." (Exodus 14:31)
But it didn't stop there. Now that Moses was no longer just Moses, but a Servant of the Living "I AM" God ... he could stand before a king and TELL HIM WHAT TO DO: "Let My people go!"
"But you shall be named the priests of the Lord." (Isaiah 61:6a) That's a fantastic start. But, as with Moses ... what are the chances that anyone will listen to us because we're priests? Not hardly! Which is why we need the rest of the sentence: "THEY SHALL CALL YOU the Servants of our God" (verse 6b).
When the World comes to realize--by witness of the Holy Spirit anointing upon us with revival and signs following (which are sadly a rare thing in the Church today, and for which we ought to be praying with every cell of our being ... but that's a topic for a different time)--that we are indeed representatives of Almighty God, NOW we too can stand before kings, principalities and powers, and TELL THEM WHAT TO DO.
Why? Because they can see and know that we are servants of a HIGHER King. While verse 6a speaks to who WE are, 6b is all about Who HE is, in--and through--us.
In Mark Twain's novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, we find the main character, a modern-day factory worker named Hank, transported magically back to sixth-century England where he becomes a servant and right-hand man to the fabulous King Arthur himself.
As "The Boss" -- an honorary title of nobility that the people had given him -- Hank is able to walk into the castle of the wicked queenlet Morgan le Fay (who happens to be Arthur's sister) in a small neighboring kingdom and TELL HER WHAT TO DO, including, in the end, emptying her dungeon of all its oppressed and tortured occupants. Why? Not because he was Hank Morgan, but by virtue of his rank as The Boss, servant of King Arthur--"the king whose word is gold!"
Sure, this stuff plays well in fiction. But in the real world? No way!
We already saw how the Israelites recognized Moses as a Servant of God, and he was able to stand before Pharaoh. Here are a few more historical examples of those who stood before kings:
- "Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the furnace of blazing fire; he responded and said, 'Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, come out, you SERVANTS OF THE MOST HIGH GOD, and come here!' Then Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego came out of the midst of the fire." (Daniel 3:26) These three were actually servants of Nebuchadnezzar, but he now realized that they were truly servants of a Higher Power. And he immediately issued a decree saying that anyone who should speak a word against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would do so at the peril of his life.
- "Then the king [Darius] arose very early in the morning and went in haste to the den of lions. And when he came to the den, he cried out with a lamenting voice to Daniel. The king spoke, saying to Daniel, 'Daniel, SERVANT OF THE LIVING GOD, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?'" (Daniel 6:19-20) Though Daniel was in the service of Darius, now Darius recognized Who Daniel's TRUE Master was. And he, too, immediately issued a decree: that all men, everywhere, should "tremble in fear" at the God of Daniel.
- Later, when Zerubbabel and the Jews began rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem, Tatnai, the governor of Palestine wrote a letter of complaint to Darius, saying, "Thus [Zerubbabel and his men] answered us, saying, 'We are the SERVANTS OF THE GOD OF HEAVEN AND EARTH and are rebuilding the temple that was built many years ago, which a great king of Israel built and finished....'" (Ezra 5:11) On receipt of the letter, Darius not only dissed Governor Tatnai's complaint, but he validated Zerubbabel's claims, instructing the governor to actually fund the temple construction and not interfere with it under penalty of death.
But there's more ...
Not only does the Master give His servants grace to stand before a lost world, with its authorities and powers that be, and see His will be done because they realize we are His servants. He further gives us authority to successfully stand against spiritual principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:11-12)
Christ Himself affirmed this in Luke 10:17-19: "And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, 'Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through Thy name.' And He said unto them, 'I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.'"
Why not pray ...
Thank you for ordaining me as a member of Your royal priesthood of believers to bring inspiration, instruction, righteousness, and spreading the glorious gospel of redemption in Jesus Christ. And yet, I have NO illusions of being able to accomplish this great task on my own. Birth in me a heart of prayer for sovereign revival--and may it begin with me through daily repentance--until Your power, anointing, and signs follow the Church in America once again. May we become that city on a hill, so men and women everywhere declare us to be SERVANTS OF GOD ... and come to our Master's light!
In Jesus' name. Amen."
Originally published as a “Bradstix” devotional on the National Minute of Prayer Facebook page 5/15/2022.
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