In the end times, there will be rich pouring of the Holy Spirit as written in Zechariah 10:1 "Ask the Lord for rain in the time of latter rain. The Lord will make flashing clouds; He will give them showers of rain, grass in the field for everyone". This is not just for us to enjoy good spiritual times; but rather to equip us for the great tasks of the kingdom that await us.
In the end times, there will also be new ministries, new visions and new anointing released to accomplish the work of the kingdom; and the main five church offices mentioned in Ephesians 4:11, will come to their full operational picture.
Ephesians4:11 “And He Himself gave some [to be] apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.”
So if this is the case, is there anything on our part that we need to do to prepare ourselves to receive the portion stored for us and which is also greatly needed in our ministries to be effective and capable of dealing with challenging cases?
To answer this question, let’s look at the following:
What are the characteristics of those who can be entrusted by God for the work of the kingdom, to achieve these commissions in the church of God?
Let us look at some biblical references:
"And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel (had been) established as a prophet of the Lord."
In Hebrew, the word ‘aw-man’ which means trust is mentioned more than 100 times in Old Testament.
"According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust."
"But has in due times manifested His word through preaching which is committed unto me (= to my trust according to the Greek word) according to the commandments of God our Savior"
In Greek, ‘eg-o’ which means trust is mentioned more than 300 times in the New Testament.
God wants so much to trust us for the work of His Kingdom and He is so keen to give us all His own enterprises!
says: “Then Peter said to Him, "Lord, do You speak this parable [only] to us, or to all [people]? And the Lord said, "Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom [his] master will make ruler over his household, to give [them their] portion of food in due season? Blessed [is] that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has”.
He even wants to trust us for Himself but we must be ready for this and trustworthy. John 2:24 says: "But Jesus didn't commit Himself into them because He knew all men.”
Characteristics of the trustee of the kingdom
We can classify them into 2 main categories:
These characteristics are found in the first five books of Moses. These five books include the main foundational principles of God's mind for His kingdom. Exodus chapters 28 and 29 speak about the calling of priests as separated men for God. (Please note that according to the New Testament calling, we are spiritual priests ministering in the heavens under the authority of Our High Priest, Jesus). In Exodus 28 and 29, there are four main characteristics of those called to minister:
1. Worship life:
"And take Aaron your brother and his sons with him from among the children of Israel that he may minister to Me as priest; Aaron and Aaron's sons: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, Ithamar.”
The phrase ‘take ... from’ means ‘separate’; ‘to minister to Me’ means ‘called to minister to God’.
When we learn how to minister to God, our ministry will be granted wisdom, grace and authority and it will bear fruit and will bring glory to God and release to His people according to their needs.
a) Burnt offering (morning and evening)
: "Now this is what you shall offer on the altar: two lambs of the first year, day by day continually. One lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight. With the one lamb shall be one-tenth of an ephah of flour mixed with one-fourth of a hin of pressed oil, and one-fourth of a hin of wine [as] a drink offering. And the other lamb you shall offer at twilight; and you shall offer with it the grain offering and the drink offering, as in the morning, for a sweet aroma, an offering made by fire to the LORD. This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations [at] the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the LORD, where I will meet you to speak with you. And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and [the tabernacle] shall be sanctified by My glory. So I will consecrate the tabernacle of meeting and the altar. I will also consecrate both Aaron and his sons to minister to Me as priests. I will dwell among the children of Israel and will be their God. And they shall know that I [am] the LORD their God, who brought them up out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them. I am the LORD their God.”
These trustees are called to build their own altar and offer burnt offerings in the morning and in the evening to keep the fire always burning. This burning fire will keep their ministry and those they minister to secure.
b)Uninterrupted prayer life:
The book of Acts which is the book that sets the regulations for the people of God, repeatedly speaks about the continual, uninterrupted prayer life; especially in the first chapters of the book. Paul’s writings as well focused again and again on this.
And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers...So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart.
but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.
These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.
And when the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continually.
rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer.
For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God's ministers attending continually to this very thing.
Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.
The Greek word ‘pros – kar – ter – eh- o’ which means earnest towards, persevere, constantly diligent, and which refers to a disciplined spiritual life is mentioned 10 times in the New Testament.
2. Ready to bear the burden and the responsibility with all its different aspects:
Verse 9: "Then you shall take two onyx stones and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel.”
Verse 12: "And you shall put the two stones on the shoulders of the ephod (as) memorial stones of the sons of Israel so Aaron shall bear their names before the Lord on his two shoulders as a memorial."
Verse 15: "You shall make the breastplate of judgment. Artistically woven according to the workman shop of the ephod you shall make it: of gold, blue, purple and scarlet (thread) and five woven liven, you shall make it."
Verse 29: "As Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel on the breastplate of judgment over his heart, when he goes into the holy (place), as a memorial before the Lord continually."
Verse 30: "And you shall put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be over Aaron's heart when he goes in before the Lord. So Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel over his heart before the Lord continually."
Verse 36: "You shall also make a plate of pure gold and engrave in it (like) the engraving of a signet: Holiness to the Lord."
Verse 38: "So it shall be on Aaron's forehead that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things which the children of Israel hallow in all their holy gifts; and it shall always be on his forehead, that they may be accepted before the Lord."
We often think that all the above verses just refer to Christ as Our Priest who accomplished redemption through His death. If so, does this then mean that all these precious passages of the word of God are now of no value; and that they are there just for us to remember what Jesus did and thank him? It is true that Jesus accomplished all these things; but now He is in us as the real priest and He has called us as priests. So all these things are also applicable to our lives and He is in us, ready to bear the responsibility of those we minister to through our lives and ministries.
We need to learn how to carry the names on the shoulders and on the heart.
The Shoulders refer to the practical help that we may offer to others; even if it just means helping them realize that we share their burdens with them. This will bring hope to them. We also need to learn to carry others in prayer and counseling and to stand by their side and do what we can to help. Paul and his words in 2 Corinthians 11:27-19 is a perfect example that demonstrates this:
“in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness --.besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?”
The Heart refers to bearing the responsibility towards God's judgment. We have a responsibility to help those entrusted to us to know God's commandments and His kingdom principles and His will towards them. (The Urim and Thummim usually refer to knowing God's will). When we accept this responsibility, the Holy Spirit reveals to us what we can do to help them understand God's will for their lives.
The Head refers to the mind that is concerned with God's people and keen on helping them stay clean and holy before God.
“So it shall be on Aaron's forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things which the children of Israel hallow in all their holy gifts; and it shall always be on his forehead, that they may be accepted before the LORD.”
3. Preparing those trustees and its significance:
(Ram of consecration)
“You shall also take the other ram, and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands on the head of the ram. Then you shall kill the ram, and take some of its blood and put it on the tip of the right ear of Aaron and on the tip of the right ear of his sons, on the thumb of their right hand and on the big toe of their right foot, and sprinkle the blood all around on the altar. And you shall take some of the blood that is on the altar, and some of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it on Aaron and on his garments, on his sons and on the garments of his sons with him; and he and his garments shall be hallowed, and his sons and his sons' garments with him. Also you shall take the fat of the ram, the fat tail, the fat that covers the entrails, the fatty lobe [attached] to the liver, the two kidneys and the fat on them, the right thigh for it is a ram of consecration.”
show us that consecrating servants to God means going through some procedures of washing, then wearing special clothes, etc.
Verse 9C says: "So you shall consecrate Aaron and his sons." After that the usual offerings (i.e. Sin offering, then Burnt offering) are offered before the Lord. And then in verse 22, we come across a new offering called "ram of consecration". The verse ends with the phrase "because it is a ram of consecration."
After that, in verses 23-25, different types of bread were offered and we shall explain this later.
Let us examine this word according to Hebrew origin (two words)
(male = mola)
1. = maw – lay, maw – law
= fill, full (mentioned more than 200 times in the Old Testament)
2. Yad = hand; open
(The same with verse 22 (derivative word) from male – mola)
What does this mean?
1) To evacuate ourselves and our minds from our work, circumstances, etc. and come to the Lord with empty hands; ready to be set apart completely for Him. For those who are not called to full-time ministry, this principle is still applicable as the portion of the time given to the Lord and the ministry must be spent with a clean mind and empty hands and with full concentration and pleasure. This is what the Holy Spirit does when we are really keen to take these principles seriously and sincerely.
2) Full trust in God and His words. (In the Eastern culture, we use the expression: my hand is full of God and His words!)
Exodus 29:20: Then you shall kill the ram and take some of its blood and put (it) on the tip of the right ear of Aaron and on the tip of the right ear of his sons, on the thumb of their right hand and on the big toe of their right foot, and sprinkle the blood all around the altar.
You may notice that this way of applying the blood of a sacrifice has never been repeated in any other part of Old Testament except in the cleansing of the Leper (Leviticus 14:14).
1) There must not be any place for leprosy in your life. Leprosy is a hidden sin that appears and brings contagious infection. It is dangerous. You can infect all the congregation entrusted to you if there is any hidden sin; any leprosy in your life.
2) You need to have a redeemed ear, finger and toe. This means; to be sensitive to God’s voice (ear) and in listening to and directing His people (ear and finger- the finger refers to the direction à Isa 58:9b) and sensitive in your footsteps (the toe - the big toe is essential in balancing the foot) because people entrusted to you follow your footsteps. It is a huge responsibility.
Verse 23: "One loaf of bread, one cake, (made with) oil, and one wafer from the basket of the unleavened bread that (is) before the Lord…."
Loaf: this means that we need to nourish our inner man with loaves of fellowship with God.
Cakes (with oil): this refers to setting a spiritual example.
This [being] so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.
But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
Paul uses the word ‘imitate me’ many times.
Therefore I urge you, imitate me.
Imitate me, just as I also [imitate] Christ.
Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.
Wafer: refers to the anointing (Ps 92:10) But my horn You have exalted like a wild ox; I have been anointed with fresh oil.
4. Your heart and your conduct must always be on God's scale!
"Then you shall take the breast of ram of Aaron's consecration and wave it (as) a wave offering before the Lord; and it shall be your portion. And from the ram of consecration you shall consecrate the breast of the wave, and the thigh of the heave offering which is raised of (that) which (is) for Aaron and of (that) which is for his sons." (Lev 7:31, 32 breast and right thigh)
The Breast refers to the heart and the right thigh refers to the conduct; both of which are always observed. The heart is observed by God and the conduct is observed by people. Thus they must both be properly adjusted to bring encouragement and correction to the people of God and pleasure to the heart of God.
We can find other characteristics of the trustees of the Kingdom in other parts of the Word of God, in both the old and the new testaments and also in the lives of the men of God mentioned in the Bible. We can list these characteristics into 7 points:
1. Genuine chastity (self control):
- We should never use those entrusted to us to serve our own ambitions or goals.
- As the Lord has commanded, those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel. (1 Cor 9:14). Paul, however, emphasised to the Corinthians later on in 2 Cor 12:14-15 that:
"… I will not be burdensome to you: for I do not seek yours but you. For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved."
This means that we accept what they offer or share but at the same time be content and live a life free from materialism (This especially refers to those called for full time ministry). And in all cases, we must keep our focus on God, our Father who always provides, not on people, so that we may never have any blame towards anybody in our hearts.
Let’s look at some biblical examples in this regard:
Abraham: Now the king of Sodom said to Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself. But Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth, that I [will take] nothing, from a thread to a sandal strap, and that I will not take anything that [is] yours, lest you should say, I have made Abram rich.
Elisha: So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. And he returned to the man of God, he and all his aides, and came and stood before him; and he said, Indeed, now I know that [there is] no God in all the earth, except in Israel; now therefore, please take a gift from your servant. But he said, [As] the LORD lives, before whom I stand, I will receive nothing" And he urged him to take [it,] but he refused.
Paul: Now [for] the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be burdensome to you; for I do not seek yours, but you. For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.
So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.
2. Crucifying any self-seeking, self-pleasure or self-slackening:
Always remember that you are a soldier in the army of the Lord. In the Old Testament, during the census, those who were counted were called God’s army.
: “You therefore endure the hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”
Jesus said in "For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto but to minister and to give his life a ransom for many.”
Paul said in : “For you remember, brothers, our labor and travail for laboring night and day, because we would not be chargeable into any of you, we preached into you the gospel of God. You [are] witnesses, and God [also,] how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe.”
Paul also warned the church in , regarding redeeming the time, saying: “See then that you walk circumspectly not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”
The Early fathers taught a wisdom regarding this. They said that when the Holy Spirit is fully leading and controlling our lives, He sometimes leads us into difficult heavy times to widen the inner spiritual capacity and teach us how to lean on God and be strengthened by grace. Following this, He then grants us refreshing times that absorb our exhaustion and build our faith for the next step in our walk with Christ.
"Strengthened with all might according to His glorious power unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness."
3. Steadfastness and avoidance of mood changes:
Sometimes, we feel that our mood is very changeable and out of our control. Although this is very understandable, we need to remember the following biblical facts: (by the way, reminding is an important practice because we often forget some of the very well-known facts without realizing). So, remember that:
a) We are called to carry the Cross and follow Jesus. Carrying the Cross means denying ourselves (laying down all the rights of the self).
Then He said to [them] all, if anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
b) God’s resources are always available and always sufficient.
2 Cor 12:9: “And He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
We have the blood of Jesus, His name, the word of God and the help of the Holy Spirit. “Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groaning which cannot be uttered.”
We also have the fellowship of the believers, Christian meetings, Pastors, counselors and intercessors.
Let’s also look carefully at the following two biblical references:
"Therefore my beloved brothers, be steadfast immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” Notice, the word ‘steadfast’ used above. The same word is used in Joshua 3:17 and this steadfastness is what led all Israel to cross over on dry ground. The same word is used in Colossians 1:23: “if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast…”
“But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in sleeplessness, in fasting, by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and [yet] true; as unknown, and [yet] well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and [yet] not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and [yet] possessing all things.”
Notice that when external difficulties are absent, Paul sets for himself a special regime of fasting and praying to control his spirit and make it always stay sharp.
4. Receiving God’s promises:
How can we receive or inherit God's promises?
Let us look at : "That you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises." This means that we need to learn some important lessons:
Faith means full trust in God and His goodness. Always remind yourself that He is the "Pantocrator"; a Greek word that means almighty and that He is always in control of all the details of our life. And because He is good He directs everything to our benefit. Rom 8:28: "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called to (His) purpose.” I always like to say that all what happens in my life is under God's control and is examined by His goodness first before it reaches me. This means that it is sealed by "God's goodness" and this is more than enough for me. We also need to grow and gain new measures in faith as Romans 12:3c tells us.
This is the most important, and at the same time, the most difficult lesson nowadays for God’s children.
“But let patience have [its] perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
“…Then you will know that I [am] the LORD, For they shall not be ashamed who wait for Me".
“And not only [that,] but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
[The word character in its origin means “mirror”—it is the piece of a metal that has been treated many times by a hammer until it became smooth and transparent like a mirror].
c) Learn how to say, "Here I am, God" like Samuel and Isaiah (1Sam 3:4 and Isaiah 6:8). Obeying God increases the sensitivity to His voice and brings more intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit.
d) Learn how to accept God’s promises as a spiritual seed in the spiritual womb of the inner man (which is the heart) and then keep laboring in spirit over it (as the farmer keeps irrigating a seed of a plant and observing over it till it sprouts). When the time of harvest comes (like the baby who stays in the womb for nine months waiting till the hour of labor), the outcome will be real genuine fruit adding to the extension of the kingdom of God!
5. Self–denial(keep alert against self vain glory)–keep alert against your own plans to please yourself or your intellect and seek God's will earnestly)
“Though the LORD [be] high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off.”
“For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name [is] Holy: "I dwell in the high and holy [place,] With him [who] has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”
"But we preach not ourselves but Christ Jesus, Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus sake.” (To be slaves to others for Jesus’ sake)
(The Greek word for servants is doulos or doo-los which means slave).
6. Renewal of spiritual flow in the ministry
Guard yourself against spiritual senility (being senile).
"Aliens have devoured his strength, but he doesn't know (it), yes grey hairs are here and there on him, yet he doesn't know (it).”
Learn how to get fresh “manna” from God and prepare a real table for God's people to be fed and strengthened in spirit and be refreshed and hence seek more depth in knowing God and obeying Him. Fresh spiritual food keeps the spiritual appetite healthy and enables God's people to grow well in their spiritual understanding and dedication.
7. Holy Zeal: (for God's glory and for the kingdom extension)
Let us read two verses, in the book of John that speaks about Jesus’ Zeal for the kingdom:
"Then His disciple remembered that it was written "Zeal for your House has eaten Me up!”
"Jesus said to them "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work!"
Let us also consider two examples of God's men; one in the Old Testament and another in the New Testament.
David: God did not ask David to build a temple. On the contrary, He told him, through the Prophet Nathan, that it is his son, not him, who will accomplish this task.
In spite of that, David was so eager and zealous for God to have a dwelling place. So he prepared everything needed for construction and he even received, in spirit, all the details of the building which he passed on to Solomon, his son. (1Chronicles 28:11, 12, 19 and 1 Chronicles 29:2, 3)
Paul: Paul did not have the responsibility of preaching the gospel for the Jews. God has even spoken to him saying that the Jews are not ready yet to hear from him and that he is sent for the Gentiles.
This we read in :
“And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me. And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee: And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him. And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.”
Paul, though, has never forgotten about the Jews; but he always went to them in their synagogues during his travels and he encountered many hardships from them. And what is more than that, is that we hear him saying these great daring words “… I have a great sorrow and a continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethrens, my countrymen according to the flesh" (Rom 9:2, 3). Who has the courage to say such words!
We need to remember two important points:
a) That the extension of the territory in our ministry is not for our pleasure and self-interest but for the saving of souls and the glory of God.
“not boasting of things beyond measure, [that is,] in other men's labors, but having hope, [that] as your faith is increased, we shall be greatly enlarged by you in our sphere, to preach the gospel in the [regions] beyond you, [and] not to boast in another man's sphere of accomplishment.”
“in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.”
b) That we are ambassadors of the kingdom
“Now all things (are) of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. That is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us; we implore (you) on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God.”
Being ambassadors is a great privilege with a great authority. We have, however, to live accordingly; a life worthy of those who are called to be heavenly citizens. “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Phil 3:20)