Unto Him shall the gathering of the People be
C. Gahan, Ilminster
' Unto Him shall the gathering of the people be '
The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be', Genesis 49. 10.
Shiloh foreshadows the coming of the Messiah as 'King of Kings and Lord of Lords' to reign over a regathered and restored Israel. Shiloh is also a reminder that God has another Israel - that God is even now gathering out of the nations a spiritual Israel for His Son. Such is the divine programme for this age; throughout the present dispensation God has decreed that 'unto him shall the gathering of the people be'. To some of the implications of this we shall now give our attention. We begin where the Scripture begins: 'unto him shall the gathering of the people be' -
IN HIS DEATH
Our Lord clearly intimates this, when speaking of His death on the cross, He says, 'And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me', John 12. 32. This is the first thing, and it is the root and ground of all the rest. We must appropriate the benefits of His death before we can appreciate the implications of His resurrection; we must come to Him as sinners before we can be identified with Him as believers. This is where the Christian life begins - at the cross. There are some who minimize the importance of this; we have heard it said that instructing believers in the truth of God is of far greater importance than the conversion of sinners. We might as well argue that eating is more important than drinking, or that drinking is more important than eating. The fact is, that, like eating and drinking, the conversion of sinners and the instruction of believers are both important, equally important.
Among our Lord's last words to His disciples were these: 'Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature . . . teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you', Matt. 28. 20; Mark 16.15. They were to 'preach' and to 'teach', the preaching first and the teaching afterwards; and both preaching and teaching were equally binding. That these disciples did this, the New Testament abundantly shows. In the Acts, with the coming of the Holy Spirit, these disciples went everywhere preaching the Gospel and thousands were converted to God. In the Epistles we see these same disciples teaching the new converts all the things the Lord Jesus had commanded them. There could have been no teaching without the preaching; without the arduous, evangelistic labours of these first disciples Christianity would have died at its birth. These first preachers of the Gospel produced, under God, the first converts of the new dispensation; they provided the raw material out of which the first New Testament churches were formed.
The Epistles provide evidence that equally devoted pastors and teachers had prepared this material and had built it into the local churches. This is the divine order: the evangelist gathers to the Lord Jesus the souls for whom He died, then the teacher comes in and crowns the evangelist's work by instructing the new born souls in the truth of God. We need a revival of this beautiful spirit today. It is by no means an uncommon thing to find believers who arc most insistent on Church truth, depreciating evangelistic work. Nor is it a very difficult thing to find others, who, while they are most enthusiastic about evangelistic work, have little time or taste for Church truth. How can two walk together, except they be agreed? Both evangelist and teacher are expected to walk together; evangelistic work and teaching work are intended to go hand in hand; in the New Testament both have an equal value.
This much is clear: to begin with we must bring men and women to Jesus as Saviour. If we do not gather men to Him for salvation, to whom shall we gather them? He only has the words of everlasting life. The testimony of Scripture is clear and plain: 'Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved', Acts 4. 12. For salvation, therefore, 'unto him shall the gathering of the people be'. We must be brought into a saving relationship with the Lord Jesus, before we can enter that favoured circle of which He is the divinely appointed centre. Then, and then only, can we sit down at His feet and hear His word.
'Brought to rest within the circle
Where love's treasures are displayed,
There to drink the living waters,
Taste the joys that never fade'.