THE RICHES OF CHRIST
When we read the book of Ezra, we see that he did not say much about himself. He only mentioned that in a certain year, Ezra, who was the son of the priest, came back. We are not told how he was raised up, but we know that it was the Lord’s doing. The Lord raised up an Ezra to strengthen and enrich His recovery. So Ezra gave us a record of the silver, the gold, the vessels, and the basins which he brought back to the temple of God. This is not a small thing, for these are the riches of Christ returned from the captivity.
Sometimes people ask, “Don’t you think that in the denominations there is something of the Lord?” I tell them that even in the Roman Catholic Church there are many things of the Lord. There is much silver, much gold, and many vessels in Babylon, but these things should not remain in Babylon. They must be brought back to Jerusalem. All the things of Christ must be recovered from Babylon. In the denominations there is considerable work of the Lord, yet all the people of God and all the works of the Lord are not for the denominations; they are for the local churches. All the children of Israel in Babylon, even those born there, were not for Babylon, but for Jerusalem. All the work the Lord accomplished in Babylon was not for Babylon, but for Jerusalem. We must pray that an increasing number of the Lord’s children will be brought back to the local churches. And we must pray that all the experiences of Christ will be returned to the local churches. All the silver, all the gold, and all the vessels belong to the temple in Jerusalem.
I have never criticized the gospel work of anyone, for I realize that many have brought people to the Lord. In a sense, I like to hear of works that are so prevailing for the Lord. But on the other hand, I am not really happy until I see all these works brought into the local churches.
Ezra was one who brought many people into the recovery to strengthen it and many vessels of gold and silver to enrich it. The recovery today needs to be strengthened with numbers and enriched with the riches of Christ. To have the silver and gold is good, but to have it in Babylon is wrong. When the silver and gold are brought back to the house of God at Jerusalem, it is not only good, but also right. I like to see people pray-reading, but I am not so happy to see them pray-reading in the denominations. Not long ago, the Stream Publishers received a letter from a pastor telling how he appreciated the pray-reading. He asked us to send him many copies of The Stream in order that all the members of his church could learn to pray-read. I was happy, but in a sense I was not so happy, because that was something in the denominations. I am happy that people enjoy pray-reading, but I am not happy that the silver and gold remain in Babylon. It is not so good, but it is better than nothing; so we sent them all the copies to help them get the silver and gold. But all this must be brought back to the local churches. How we need the Ezras today to strengthen the numbers and to enrich the recovery with the silver and gold from Babylon.
A PRIESTLY SCRIBE
Ezra was a priest, a descendant of Aaron, and he was also a scribe. The scribe in the Old Testament equals the teacher in the New Testament. But there is a difference between the prophet and the scribe or teacher. The prophet is one who speaks directly from God, and the teacher is one who teaches the things spoken by the prophet. We know, for example, that Moses was a prophet, because he spoke something directly of God. But a scribe is a teacher who teaches the things spoken by Moses.
Haggai and Zechariah were prophets because they spoke directly from God. What was spoken by Haggai was new; it was never revealed to anyone else. Zechariah’s message is even more marvelous. He said that Christ is the branch, the foundation stone with seven eyes, and the topstone. Did Moses say this? No, Zechariah was the first to say it. Zechariah was not a teacher, but a prophet, speaking from God’s instant, present, up-to-date inspiration. Ezra spoke nothing new. What he spoke had been already spoken by Moses. He was a scribe and a teacher. But according to the principle in God’s recovery, we do not need an old teacher, but a priestly teacher. Ezra was also a priest.
A priest is one who is mingled with the Lord, saturated with the Lord, feeding upon the Lord, and breathing Him in all day long. Whatever he speaks is just the Lord Himself. This is exactly what the teachers in the Lord’s recovery must be. Ezra was this kind of person. He proclaimed a fast, and he fasted; he was simply one with the Lord by contacting the Lord continually. He was not a letter-scribe, but a priestly scribe.
In the local church, we are afraid of objective teachers. Some people have a certain amount of knowledge, and they like to teach what they know, but they themselves are not that kind of person. The Lord’s recovery today does not need this kind of teacher. We need Ezra, the priestly scribe, the priestly teacher. This is the teacher who contacts God constantly and instantly, who is saturated with God and one with God. Ezra was very much with the Lord. He was in a position to ask the king for an army to protect him while returning to Jerusalem, but he did not do it. He put his trust in the Lord. This is the kind of person who is qualified to be a teacher in the Lord’s recovery. Even if you have the physical means to help you, you must not take it. You must put your trust in the Lord. We do not need objective teachers in the recovery of the Lord’s building. Just the knowledge of the teachings will not help. We need the life; we need the priesthood to be mingled with the teaching. We need the priestly scribes like Ezra. Mere knowledge does not build; it kills. It is the priestly teacher who builds. This is the kind of person who can strengthen the recovery with an increase of numbers and enrich it with the rich experiences of Christ. Praise the Lord there are such Ezras, and I have full assurance the Lord is going to bring in more and more Ezras—those who are one with God, saturated with God, filled with God, and skillful in the work of God. These persons are the right ones to bring in a good number of returned captives and to bring more riches of Christ into the recovery of the Lord.
(The Recovery of God's House and God's City, Chapter 7, by Witness Lee)