WILLOWS BY THE WATER COURSES
When I was a very young Pastor (1942) I had to do some serious “scratching” to find subjects for my sermons. Our teachers at Bible School had stressed prayerfulness more than sermonizing, so we were sort of “paddling with one oar” for quite a while.
One Sunday morning I seemed to “hit the jackpot” as far as topics for sermons was concerned. People left the Church with a spring in their step—really encouraged in the Lord. I was very happy, because I thought I had delivered a Masterpiece to my flock.
Ignorance really is bliss sometimes. Neither I nor the congregation knew that I had flagrantly butchered the Truth of the Scriptures I had taught from that morning. Fact is, some of them went to their graves believing that what I had preached was “Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing but the Truth.” George ……, one of the family fathers, died suddenly a short time afterward, but he went on a victorious note, fully believing that God would save his family. The Lord was faithful, and honored his faith.
You see, we who were students of the Bible were strongly in favor of the idea that the Bible was full of “promises” that we could apply to ourselves indiscriminately. We seemed oblivious to the fact that some of those promises didn’t apply to us at all—that some of them were for specific people, for specific times, and for specific purposes.
I will never be able to understand why or how the Lord could add His Blessing to such horrible mis-applications of His Word as some of us were, and are still, doing.
One of my sons expressed it as “The Untrammeled Grace of God”, which is a very apt description, in my mind. It has no guidelines, no rules of conduct, no restrictions or compulsions of any sort. It responds only to the Wishes of our Loving God.
My topic for that Sunday morning was delightful.
Isa 44:1 Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen:
Isa 44:2 Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; and thou, Jesurun, whom I have chosen.
The emphasis was on verses 3 and 4:
Isa 44:3 For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:
Isa 44:4 And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses.
It was a perfect “springboard” for launching a plea for faithful attendance at Church, for tithing of our increase, for playing in the orchestra and teaching a Sunday School Class and always having a ready testimony for that portion of the service. If we would do our part, God Would Do His Part.
Well, I still believe that to be a good principle to live by, but I had missed the correct application of the Scripture by a “Country Mile”, and didn’t know it. Nor did anyone else, as far as I know.
Oh, the “Untrammeled Grace of God.”
I have had many “experiences” with the Lord since that time, and have learned many things about Him and His Word, but a few of them are “special”.
In October of 2005, a small group of praying people was gathered in the Church Prayer Room, seeking the Lord. I was having trouble remembering things, especially Scriptures, and asked the group to lay hands on me and ask the Lord to help me. They did, and we disbanded.
The next day one of the ladies who had participated in the prayer meeting was driving into town when the Power of God came upon her. She stopped the car and began to plead with the Lord to, in her own words, “Give Bro. Fretwell what he wants.”
For me, the following week marked the beginning of a tremendous change in my understanding of God and His Purposes in the Earth. It seemed as if the “eyes of my understanding were being enlightened” (Eph 1:18), and the “pieces of the puzzle” were going into place in a miraculous manner. It was the beginning, but ONLY a beginning, of a series of rays of light being focused on different aspects of God’s plan for the ages.
Gradually, two main themes came to the forefront, and they were intertwined, one with the other, so closely that it was difficult to tell them apart.
Indeed, they were both integral parts of the “Over-all” Plan of God for the ages of Planet Earth and the inhabitants thereof. The books of Isaiah and Jeremiah came alive with new meaning as I was able to more fully comprehend the Purposes of God.
In the very early 60’s, I had been working with a crew of men, recompressing bales of hops for shipment to South America. Talking was discouraged, so I passed the time in mentally reciting portions of the book of Isaiah. I discovered that chapters 52 and later seemed to be telling a story—before it happened. Sort of Pre-written History, but, since I could not understand it, I tucked it away in the back recesses of my memory—eventually forgot what I had discovered.
That week in October 2005 marked the beginning of an “explosion” of sorts in comprehending the meaning of many of those scriptures I had recited so many years ago while trying to drown out the doleful groaning of the hundred-ton hydraulic press.
For years I had wondered about the fate of the Ten Tribes of Israel. What happened to them after their captivity in Assyria (721 BC—to 606 BC)? Are they still in existence, and if so, where/who are they, and what are they doing? I had read in Jeremiah 18 about them being likened to clay on a Potter’s wheel that would not go into the form the Potter wished, so He formed it into another vessel that did please Him. I had also read in Jeremiah 19 that Judah would be like an earthen vessel that had been baked and then broken to shards. It could never be made whole again. What did all this mean? “The Remaking of Israel, and the Desolation of Judah.”
Well, like a torrent of water rushing down a ravine, comprehension came flooding over me in that October week Random bits of Biblical knowledge that I had accumulated over many decades were suddenly brought together to reveal a plausible pattern of Divine guidance in the affairs of humanity.
It seemed that the Lord was telling me that the Apostle Paul figured very strongly into the equation—that he had been the instrument of God’s Choice to facilitate the “Changing” of the ancient Israelites.
The “Changing of Israel” was to be their conversion to Christianity, (after seven centuries, and having drifted into horrible depths of idolatry) and this conversion was facilitated by Paul and other early Christian Missionaries in a few years after the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus. They are being “re-made” into the Church of the Living God. (Judah is STILL in DESOLATION, as far as God is concerned—UNTIL they shall say, “Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord.”) Remember the parable of the two sons who were asked by their father to go “work in the vineyard. One said, “Sure thing, Dad”, but didn’t get anything done. The other said, “Are you out of your mind?”, but later repented (had a change of heart) and went and worked for his Father. Israel (ten tribes) rebelled, and were taken into Assyrian captivity, never to return to Palestine, but to wander into Europe from the area of the Black Sea. (Judah and Israel were the two sons of the parable)
Just two days ago, I learned from an Encyclopedia, that the bands of people who had moved into, and populated Europe in the centuries gone by were once called “The Galatians”. Paul had ministered to them when Christianity was almost “brand-new”, in the area that is now known as Turkey (the “Asia” of New Testament times). Do the “Seven Churches of Asia” of the Revelation possibly figure into the equation?
I don’t know how I will learn whether Paul ever got to Spain or not, but I do know that the Spaniards were greatly used of God in spreading Christianity to many parts of the World. (It’s hard to get somewhere that a Spanish Priest has not been, before you get there.)
I do also know that the growth of the Church has been greatly enhanced by the invention of the printing press and the distribution of Bibles and Christian literature, and that these things were predominantly of European origin. Europe has supplied vast numbers of Missionaries of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That is precisely what the Bible says that Israel would do in her latter years
You may be wondering by this time, “What about the children being like WILLOWS BY THE WATER COURSES”? Listen while I explain about them.
That scripture, like many others in Isaiah and Jeremiah, were NOT given for the sake of George’s children, but were referring to the Children of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob, and ten of Jacob’s sons AFTER THEY CAME TO KNOW JESUS CHRIST.
Not under Moses. Not under the LAW. Not with animal sacrifices. Not with Sabbaths and New Moons, and Feast days, but IN JESUS CHRIST.
God has His “WILLOWS” by worldwide water courses, and they are multiplying “exceedingly” (like they did in the natural in Egypt—from 70 to over 2 million in 4 generations). The CHURCH is growing at an alarming rate. It is steadily being built up by the Power of God to engulf the entire world, and overshadow any and all other religious and political systems. It will “FILL THE EARTH.”
The “Prince of Persia” is in Panic Mode, visualizing his utter defeat shortly.
The Prophet said that these “Willow” children would call themselves by different names, but they would all be of the same Body. (Israel Made Into The Church)
Isa 44:5 One shall say, I am the LORD's; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the LORD, and surname himself by the name of Israel.
“A rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet”--////Shakespeare
The Biblical “rite of passage” to being classed as a Christian was the simple statement, “I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
Most Christian denominations make that confession. We can worship where we are happiest
I am proud to be affiliated with any of them.
Isa 44:6 Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.
Isa 44:7 And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people? and the things that are coming, and shall come, let them show unto them.
Isa 44:8 Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.