THE INSTRUMENTS OF GOD
By Jeannette Haley
“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound
the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to
confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world
and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
That no flesh should glory in his presence.” – 1 Corinthians 1:27-29
Back in 1961, the year I graduated from High School, there was a stage musical called “Stop the World, I Want to Get Off.” I have to admit, I never saw it, and don’t know anything about it, but there have been times I’ve quoted the title. Especially lately. As far as I’m concerned, what the world is experiencing right now is one huge “roller coaster ride” that could be aptly called “The Terror Express of the Night” or something like that. I have to admit, I’ve never been on a roller coaster ride either, nor have I ever desired to be on one. There’s just something about all the ups and down’s, twists and turns, jerking and lurching accompanied by a churning stomach and uncontrollable screaming that’s just totally unappealing to me. The thing is, you can choose not to get on board such a harrowing “ride,” but for all of us who are trying to hang on and “ride it out” in this world, we have no choice in the matter. Furthermore, as Christians, suicide is not an option!
Since Psalm 139:16 says, “Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them” surely that must mean God has a reason for why you and I are here. Were we really born for “such a time as this?” In Esther 4:14, we read, “For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” All Israel knew that Esther was indeed placed by God in the palace in Shushan at just the “right time.” That palace, by the way, has been discovered by archaeologists and you can read about it on the Internet.
What those of us who are born-again believers need to remember is that we are instruments in the hands of God for Him to use, as He so desires, for His glory. Romans 6:13 says, “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” The problem with over-zealous Christians is, instead of waiting on the LORD to plant them where He wants them to be for His purposes, they run around in their minds trying to assess what their “strong points,” talents and abilities are and where they think they will best fit, as well as how they can personally benefit from their self-chosen field of service. It’s tempting to pick out and focus on someone whom we want to emulate, either from Scripture or from Church history, and imagine ourselves becoming just like them, or perhaps even greater. I know how that works—I was there myself, many years ago.
The truth is, instead of choosing the best looking, the most popular, educated, or talented, God surprises us by choosing what we consider to be foolish, weak, and base just as 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 tells us. God is looking for those whose hearts are perfect towards Him. “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” Psalm 51:10. “Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word” Isaiah 66:1, 2.
Today there are a lot of wounded, hurting and broken people in this world of woe. Some have given up all hope of God ever using them in any form of service for Him. But a quote from Vance Havner that is simple, yet encouraging, rings so very true. He said, “God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.” The key to serving God is not how smart, educated, gifted, or talented we think we are, it’s how available we are.
Oswald Chambers taught, “God can achieve his purpose either through the absence of human power and resources, or abandonment of reliance on them. All through history God has chosen and used nobodies, because their unusual dependence on him made possible the unique display of his power and grace. He chose and used somebodies only when they renounced dependence on their natural abilities and resources.” He also said, “Salvation is not merely deliverance from sin, nor the experience of personal holiness; the salvation of God is deliverance out of self entirely into union with Himself. My experimental knowledge of salvation will be along the line of deliverance from sin and of personal holiness; but salvation means that the Spirit of God has brought me into touch with God’s personality, and I am thrilled with something infinitely greater than myself, I am caught up into the abandonment of God.
“To say that we are called to preach holiness or sanctification, is to get into a side eddy. We are called to proclaim Jesus Christ. The fact that He saves from sin and makes us holy is part of the effect of the wonderful abandonment of God.
“Abandonment never produces the consciousness of its own effort, because the whole life is taken up with the One to Whom we abandon. Beware of talking about abandonment if you know nothing about it, and you will never know anything about it until you have realized that John 3:16 means that God gave Himself absolutely. In our abandonment we give ourselves over to God just as God gave Himself for us, without any calculation. The consequence of abandonment never enters into our outlook because our life is taken up with Him.”
A good example of this is Abraham’s eldest servant, Eliezer, who ruled over all that Abraham had. His name was not even mentioned in Genesis 24 concerning the important mission he was to accomplish for his master, but his example and the spiritual applications we can glean from this man of faith offer great spiritual lessons for us. Before Abraham sent him to Mesopotamia to look for a wife from Abraham’s own kindred, he was made to “swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth” that he would not take a wife unto Abraham’s son of the daughters of the Canaanites. (See verse 3.) When we read this part of the story, we can brush over it and think it was so sweet and nice of Abraham to want to keep things “all in the family.” But to do so is to overlook the great eternal importance of ensuring that no idol worshipper married into the founding of the “chosen people of the Covenant.” God told Abraham in Genesis 17:21 before Isaac was even conceived, “But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.”
We do not know how Eliezer came to be Abraham’s most trusted servant, but there is no doubt but that the LORD was guiding them both. We know that Eliezer possessed the qualities that God requires of His servants or he wouldn’t have been responsible over all that Abraham had. In other words, he wasn’t a “servant” outwardly while churning with pride and rebellion inwardly. It seems reasonable to conclude that early on in his service to Abraham, he had humbled himself, and totally abandoned his own interests for the interests and well-being of his master, and he was ready and willing to “swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of earth” to carry out Abraham’s request to the letter.
Eliezer’s question to Abraham reveals how concerned he was regarding the success and fulfillment of this challenging request. In verse 5 we read, “Peradventure the woman will not be willing to follow me unto this land: must I needs bring thy son again unto the land from whence thou camest?” This was a good point that any of us would probably have brought up because it was no small matter having to travel great distances riding a camel, and especially for an elderly man. Concerning how far Eliezer would have to go, one US Army gentleman wrote, “I have not calculated the distance from an actual map, but references that I have seen indicate distances ranging between 600 and 700 miles. At an average distance by camel of 25-30 miles per day, this journey would have taken between three and four weeks.” No doubt Abraham’s servant was taking into account the possibility of having to make two trips if the first one proved to be unsuccessful. Spurgeon, commenting on this verse said, “The Lord Jesus Christ heads that grand emigration party which has come right out of the world.” God makes it clear that if we are to be His instruments, then we must die to the world. Paul said, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” Galatians 6:14.
Abraham, however, quickly responded, “Beware thou that thou bring not my son thither again. The LORD God of heaven, which took me from my father’s house, and from the land of my kindred, and which spake unto me, and that sware unto me, saying, Unto thy seed will I give this land; he shall send his angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife unto my son from thence” Genesis 24:6b, 7. One of the principles that Eliezer was yet to learn is this: when God sends His people “from” something, He always leads them “to” something: there is no place of returning. For example, God sent Adam and Eve, after their fall, from the Garden of Eden, never to return. When He delivered the children of Israel from their bondage in Egypt, they were not to go back to it. God’s angels led Lot, his wife and two daughters, out from Sodom and Gomorrah, never to return, or even look back. (We all know what happened to Lot’s wife because she looked back.) To those who had “forsaken the right way” Peter wrote, in 2 Peter 2:22, “But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” These are just a few examples. Let us praise the LORD for His power to deliver us from the bondage of sin and Satan. “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” Colossians 1:12, 13.
In Genesis 24:10-14, we read thatEliezer took ten camels, loaded with goods, and departed to Mesopotamia, unto the city of Nahor where he made his camels to kneel down without the city. by a well of water. He knew that since it was evening the women would be going out to draw water, There he began fervently praying to the Lord so that he would know whether his journey was prosperous or not. How beautiful it is to read, “And it came to pass, before he had done speaking, that, behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, with her pitcher upon her shoulder” Verse 15. Eliezer was learning what it is like to have the God of heaven and earth answer prayers of faith before he even finished praying! Isaiah 65:24 says, “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.”
The following quote from Oswald Chambers may possibly best describe where Abraham’s servant was spiritually when his prayer was so quickly answered: “Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.” After “everything fell into place,” no doubt Eliezer’s heart was filled with thanksgiving and joy. He said, “Blessed be the LORD God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I being in the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master’s brethren” verse 27.
While the story of Eliezer can serve as an example to us of humility, honesty, trustworthiness, genuine love and loyalty, and other characteristics such as industriousness and productivity as a faithful servant who spent his entire life serving and honoring his master, the spiritual aspect of this instrument of God is amazing for Eliezer is a type of the Holy Spirit. Abraham, the father, sent his servant to find a wife for his son, Isaac,—the one who in figure has already passed through death and resurrection.
Abraham’s faithful servant did not go empty-handed, but took wonderful samples of the riches of Abraham and Isaac. So, too, when the Holy Spirit came down, He also brought with Him an earnest of the inheritance that we who hear and believe receive, for He is the earnest. When Rebekah said there was room for him in her father’s house, then the servant put forth his errand, which was foremost in his thoughts. “I will not eat, until I have told mine errand.” (See verse 33.) He did not speak of himself, but of the one who sent him, just as the Holy Spirit woos us to Jesus and reveals Him to us. “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:” John 15:26.
As with so many of God’s chosen instruments, Eliezer had no clue that he was being used of the Lord as a “type” of the Holy Spirit, just as Jonah’s call as an instrument of God, and subsequent actions give us a clear picture of how God can even use a rebellious prophet to serve as a type of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. There are also numerous valuable lessons and insights we can gain from this short, but powerful book.
From Jonah 1:1 we learn that the word of the LORD came unto Jonah to “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.” It seems quite obvious that this was the last thing that Jonah ever wanted to do, because he hated that city, the people in it, and their wickedness. This brings to mind the story of the great evangelist, David Wilkerson, whom God called out of Texas to go to New York City to bring the Gospel to the street gangs. He would’ve much preferred to stay in away from the big city, and remain in Texas, but he obeyed the LORD and his story is one of great courage and inspiration. But as for Jonah, he was “skating on thin ice” for Ezekiel 3:18 says, “When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.
God was going to use Jonah as an instrument to be an example of Jesus, and in more than one way. When it came to his mission to call the gentile Assyrians of Nineveh to repentance so that they would not suffer God’s wrath and perish, he was to be an example of Jesus whose mission was to call all of mankind, Jew or Gentile, to repentance and to be reconciled to God. Sadly, when Jonah rose up and fled from the presence of the LORD, he was at that time an example of mankind’s rebellion from the time of Adam and Eve who hid themselves among the trees of the garden from the presence of God, to modern man who despises the ways of the LORD.
O Christian! Are you hiding from the presence of the LORD today? Has He called you to “rise up and go” for His Name’s sake, but instead you’re hiding from His presence is some dead church that no longer proclaims the full gospel of Christ because it is offensive to the pride, arrogance, and self-sufficiency of “carnal Christians?” Maybe He is calling you to rise up and go and cry against it. The harvest is great and souls are perishing, for they love not the truth. In whatever way God desires to use you as one of His instruments of righteousness, do not fail to rise up and walk in obedience, because God knows how to get your attention. It may not be a big fish that will “get you,” but you can be sure that whatever it is, you will certainly know.
In Jonah 1:12 we read of Jonah’s request to his shipmates that they cast him into the sea so that they would not perish. The question is, was Jonah really willing to sacrifice his life for the salvation of these mariners, or was he so depressed that he would rather die at sea than obey the LORD? If he was indeed willing to die for them so that they could be saved, then he was an example of Jesus who gave His life for the salvation of the world. One way or the other, after they realized that all their best efforts to bring the ship safely to shore were futile, they cried unto the LORD, asking for His help, and forgiveness for what they had to do. After they tossed Jonah overboard, “the sea ceased from her raging” and the good part is, “Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the LORD, and made vows.” God used the howling wind and tempestuous sea to cause lost souls to seek Him for “The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death” Proverbs 14:27.
Jonah thought he had made his escape from the presence of the LORD, but God had a big surprise for him. Verse 17 says, “Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” Jesus Himself told certain scribes and Pharisees who asked of Him a sign that Jonah’s episode was a “sign” (or “type”). Matthew 12:38-41 tells us, “Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”
Jonah’s prayer from the heart, his witness and testimony in Jonah 2:1-10 is beautiful, and full of meaning and truth. After his confession to God, “the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.” Jonah prayed, “out of the belly of hell” (verse 2). Concerning Jesus,1 Peter 3:18, 19 tells us, “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison.” (Also see Ephesians 4:9, 10.)
On the third day Jonah was “resurrected” from the belly of the fish, and on the third day Jesus was resurrected from the tomb. (Matthew 17:23; 20:19; 28:1-10; Mark 9:31; 10:34; 16:1-7; Luke 9:22; 18:33; 24:7; 24:46.) We do not know how much time elapsed between the time that Jonah was “deposited” on the dry land and when the word of the LORD came again unto Jonah the second time saying, “Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.” This time Jonah obeyed. Interestingly Jonah preached that Nineveh would be destroyed in 40 days if the people did not repent (Jonah 3:4) and Jesus, after His resurrection, taught the New Covenant Church for 40 days before His ascension (Acts 1:3). Jonah taught that failure to repent of sin brings judgment, but salvation is a gift of God (Jonah 3:4, 5-10) and Jesus taught that failure to repent of sin brings judgment, but salvation is a gift of God. (Matthew 5:21, 22; John 5:22-29; 8:34-36; Luke 24:47; John 3:17; 5:34; 10:19; Acts 2:21).
In summary, Eliezer, Abraham’s faithful servant, was used as an instrument of God to secure the right wife for Isaac in order to keep God’s Covenant with Abraham, and Jonah was an instrument used of God in many ways, in spite of himself. We must never limit God to our little theological “boxes” for God can use anything as an instrument to fulfill His purpose. Consider a few things He used such as the famous fish that God prepared to swallow up Jonah, preparing this fish to be one of His “instruments.” As we read through the Bible, we find many “instruments” that God used such as frogs, flies, locusts, lice, Balaam’s ass, hornets, ravens (that fed Elijah); and in the Book of Jonah, besides using the weather, He used a whale, a gourd, and a worm that ate the gourd in order to teach him a lesson as well as a “vehement east wind and the sun” Jonah 4:8. The lesson here is that God can use anything He chooses to use. He used a star to guide the wise men to the child Jesus. He is the Almighty, the Majesty in the heavens, Creator God, maker of heaven and earth, and nothing is impossible for Him. He designed and placed the stars and constellations in complete precision and uses the stars for “signs.” We need to look up, open our eyes, and cease from limiting the Holy One and His ways for He still uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, so why can’t He use you?
Are you willing, right now, to be an instrument, such as Rebekah was, ready to answer the Spirit’s call, and by faith be led by Him to the Master’s house for the marriage supper of the Lamb?
It’s up to you.