The produce of the good land did not rain down from heaven as the manna had done. The children of Israel had to till the soil, sow the seed, keep the ground watered, and get rid of damaging insects. Then when harvest time came, they had to reap the crop.
Christ is our good land. Day by day we must labor on Him. We begin with morning watch, tilling the ground and sowing Him as the seed. Sometimes we just water the crops and kill some snails. During the day we keep laboring on Him by experiencing, enjoying, and partaking of Him. We also snatch a few minutes now and then throughout the day to read a chapter in the Word.
By such faithful laboring, we gradually accumulate the rich experiences of Christ. Then we bring our surplus to the meetings. The Israelites had only three feasts yearly. We do not have to wait that long! We have at least three meetings a week, every one of them a feast, to which we may come, not empty-handed, but laden with the experience of Christ. “They shall not appear before the Lord empty: Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord thy God which he hath given thee” (Deut. 16:16-17).
Of the five books of Moses, only Genesis gives no instruction on the way to worship. The other four deal at considerable length on the worship and service of God. The natural concept is that to worship God we must bow down, kneel, or prostrate ourselves. This was the custom of the nations surrounding Israel (Exo. 23:24). But the instruction given to the children of Israel was to bring their rich produce, offer it to God, and then eat it with one another in His presence and with Him. What they offered was both their food and God’s. The eating in God’s presence is worship.
The more we come together with our hands full of Christ, the more we offer Him to God and enjoy Him in the presence of God, the more we are worshipping Him. Our Father God desires the worship which is our eating of the Son. God is happy when we are in His presence enjoying His Son.
In John 4 the Lord Jesus linked worship to God with drinking of Him. After the Lord told the Samaritan woman, “Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall by no means thirst forever” (v. 14), she turned the subject to the matter of worship. The Lord’s reply was, “An hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem shall you worship the Father. An hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and reality; for the Father seeks such to worship Him” (vv. 21, 23). Our spirit is Jerusalem, God’s habitation (Eph. 2:22), and it is here that we worship God, not by prostrating ourselves before Him, but by enjoying Christ as the reality. This drinking of Him is the real worship to God.
We offer the Christ we have experienced in our daily walk whenever we come to the meetings. Do not think musical instruments are a necessary part of our worship. Music is not the reality. The reality is found in our spirit, in the very Christ whom we have experienced. These experiences are the rich produce of the good land. It may be that sometimes our meetings will have no singing or even praying, but only rich testimonies from our daily life. The bountiful produce will be heaped up before the Lord. The testimonies may be quite short, yet because they come from the riches in the spirit, they may be more than a testimony. What we say as a testimony may be in the form of a prayer or may be an offering of praise.
What form the meeting will take cannot be predicted. Each one may be different. Surely some meetings during the first century were like what we have described. We do not try to arrange different styles of meeting. How the meetings are comes out of how we are. We live a certain way, and we meet this same way. We do not come together to perform but to bring an overflow of the rich Christ we have been enjoying. It is thus that we eat Christ together in the presence of God.
How good it will be when all the churches are like this! Today we are still under the influence of degraded Christianity, with the singing of hymns and praying as part of our form of meeting. The Bible does not give us a ritual way to meet. No formal way is prescribed for our coming together. We should be like the children of Israel coming together in ancient times to the unique place, Jerusalem, with all the rich produce of the good land; that is to say, we come to the spirit, offering our rich experiences of Christ. Whether we sing is not at issue. We may spend a whole meeting only singing, if the Lord so leads. What concerns us is only that we meet in spirit and with the riches of Christ.
When we share our experiences, we should not do so in a scattered way. Because we all have such bountiful and varied experiences, what we say should follow the line of the one who preceded us. We cannot have a feast with an odd assortment of groceries that don’t fit together!
If our meetings are full of such an attractive Christ, those who come will be convinced, subdued, and captured. It is not exciting meetings which gain others. Christ Himself is the attracting factor—not a Christ in doctrine but One whom we experience.
THE GOAL OF THE LORD’S RECOVERY
The third stage of eating is complicated. There is the common way of eating together within our gates of the riches of the good land. There is also the particular way of bringing our tithes to the chosen place to eat before the Lord in order to keep the oneness of God’s people. Further, this stage of eating requires that we labor, not just gather what has fallen from heaven. Finally, we must worship the Father by bringing all the rich variety of the experiences of Christ to the meetings and presenting them to God and to His people.
This third stage is the one which accomplishes God’s purpose. This is our goal, toward which we must aim, in the Lord’s recovery. Thus the church life will be produced, God’s kingdom established, and His temple solidly built up.
(Life Messages, Vol. 1 (#1-41), Chapter 28, by Witness Lee)