George Methodist Church
Sunday 20th October 2019
8am and 10 am
Isaiah 61: 5-7 Walking in Love as Plowers and Priests with a double -portion of God’s blessing
Eric and Denise Dreyer
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me – Jesus Luke 4,5,6. (He sat down)
Be used to change the atmosphere around you.
Rebuild restore and renew.
Just briefly as we move into the second part of this scripture, verse 5 says “and strangers will feed your flocks.” It was within the prophetic vision of the Lord that people of different cultures and contexts would work together to provide for the land. The word ‘plower’ is used in the bible and it’s closer but not completely accurate when it comes to the original Hebrew – ikkar and the Greek is agros which is where we derive the name – agriculture. The German is Acker and the English is acre (we also use this as a form of measurement, as you know, when referring to land size). It actually means a ‘digger’ or ‘cultivator of the soil’ or ‘farmer.’
I love this because we are called to work together as “farmers of the land”. If you drive down to Cape Town you will notice thousands of hectares of well looked after land that is pretty fertile, but if you go over the Outeniqua Pass you will notice the challenges that farmers are facing due to lack of water. Our country is a bit like that now. We have, what I believe is a majority of folk, who are wanting to see our beautiful South Africa restored, but there is sadly a small minority who are causing devastation and we need to pray that the majority will be prepared to be part of the solution of plowing the land and vine dressers who will ensure a produce ready and available to our children’s children.
Again in conclusion, Isaiah reminds us of the promise of the Lord – that if we do this, we will be called Priests of the Lord “a priesthood of all believers and minister of our God and you will feed on the wealth of nations and in their riches you will boast.” Verse 6
“But you will be named the priests of the Lord, the builders of cities, pastors of flocks, the ploughmen and vinedressers, the strangers and the sons of the alien, that these also should be called priests when they shall be called and converted, and when there will be no more the distinction of priests and common people, but they shall all be kings and priests unto God, a royal priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices to him, all ceremonial ones being at an end” (1 Peter 2:9)
“People will call you the ministers of our God and acknowledge you to be the servants of Christ, of Immanuel, God with us, having professed faith in Him, and submitted to Him. You will eat the riches of the Gentiles; converted Gentiles, who will join with Jewish converts in the same church state; who will bring their wealth with them, and with it support the interest of Christ (see Isaiah 60:5). This may be understood of their spiritual riches, the unsearchable riches of Christ revealed in the Gospel, which the Gentiles have long possessed, but now the Jews will have a share with them: and in their glory you will boast yourselves; not in being the seed of Abraham, as formerly; in birth privileges, in carnal rites and ceremonies, such as circumcision and others; but in what is the glory of the Gentiles, Christ himself, who is their glory, and of whom they glory; as also his Gospel, and the ordinances of it, which are the glory of every nation possessed of them: or, “ye shall delight yourselves”; in the Lord; in communion and conversation with his people, and in the enjoyment of the privileges of his house with them: or, “ye shall lift up or exalt yourselves”, or “be exalted”; to the same degree of honour and glory, being all kings and priests unto God.” (John Gill’s commentary)
- Portions – Double Portion – What does this mean?
Six times in the Bible, specific reference is made to a “double portion.” When someone receives a double portion, they get a gift twice as much as that given to others but it’s in order that they will be able to cope with the responsibility and work that the Lord wants them to do that may be greater than those that came before them.
The concept of the double portion is first mentioned in the Law of Moses: “But he shall acknowledge the firstborn . . . by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the first-fruits of his strength. The right of the firstborn is his” (Deuteronomy 21:17). A firstborn son was entitled to receive twice the inheritance of that of a father’s other sons, in addition to the right of succession. Moses’s life was filled with challenges and so the Lord gave him this blessing in order to be able to take the Israelites through the desert and to the Promised Land.
Because Hannah could not have children, her husband tried to help her grief with an extra blessing. “But to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her” (1 Samuel 1:5).
We know her for her sorrow. She longed for a son, but couldn’t have children. We know her for her faithfulness. She never gave up hope that God would hear her prayer. We also know her for her sacrifice. She dedicated her baby Samuel to the Lord and left him at the temple to serve God “all the days of his life” (1 Samuel 1:11 NIV.)
Near the end of Elijah’s time on earth, he offered his assistant Elisha a gift: “What can I do for you before I am taken from you?” Elisha answered, “Please let there be a double portion of your spirit on me” (2 Kings 2:9). Elisha’s request was to be considered the successor of Elijah and to be “doubly blessed” with power in the prophetic office. Throughout 2 Kings, the many miracles Elisha performed confirm that he had indeed been granted a double portion.
Isaiah 61:7 promises a double portion of joy and blessing upon Israel: “Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy.” The reign of the Messiah will be everlasting joy. In a related passage, God restored to Job twice as much as he originally had before his time of testing: “And the LORD restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before” (Job 42:10). It could be said that Job received a “double portion.”
Not all double portions convey blessing, however. Revelation 18:6 speaks of judgment upon Babylon, stating, “Pay her back as she herself has paid back others, and repay her double for her deeds; mix a double portion for her in the cup she mixed.” Here, the double portion indicates a heavy judgment. The idea behind the term is still that of a “great amount.”
Since the Mosaic Law stipulated a double portion for firstborn sons, the concept has been used throughout history to refer to God’s abundant blessing. Jesus Christ is called the “firstborn over all creation” (Colossians 1:15), a title that indicates His position as the Blessed One and rightful Heir of all things.
One of the things I often share is the time when a big prophet arrived in JHB and he began praying for us as ministers and then tried to push us over with his double portion blessing and I stood my ground so as not to be pushed over. But I was reminded when looking really deeper into the scripture that often those who had a double portion of God’s blessing had way more responsibility to do the things of God.
I do believe that we should be moving more into the presence of the Lord and asking what we can do with our lives but this should lead to us being “plowers of the land” producing fertile fruit and priest who are conforming to the very likeness of Jesus, then we will start to see a double portion of His blessing – not from humans but from the Lord – Amen.
- What does it mean to be a plower of the land? Describe what happens to the soil, and how the farming process happens. If you have some farmers in your group let them share on this or invite a farmer to your group!
- How do you understand the priesthood of all believers? (1 Peter 2:) What do you think Isaiah was saying when he spoke about Jews and Gentiles working together?
- How do you understand the words double-portion? What new insight did you receive from your discussion and the message on Sunday?
- Pray for each other to be more intentional in bearing fruit, being more Christ-like and asking the Lord for a double-portion so that you can be instrumental in the work the Lord is doing in our world today.
I wanted to just add that on Sunday as I closed the service and we were in prayer to the Lord, I asked for Him to bless those who wanted a double portion of His blessing and I also prayed that we would move deeper into His presence. As I did this I felt overcome by the Holy Spirit and fell to the side, to the ground. I hit my head but I was fine. It was only after a few minutes that I came around and I felt a sense of deep joy, love and peace and a fullness that I can only describe as coming from the Lord. It may have been that I fainted but I certainly was not feeling sick or faint before this. It suddenly came upon me and I believe that I was slain in the Spirit. This is not the first time that it has happened to me and interestingly it is recorded in the Bible:
Christians who believe being slain in the Spirit is an act of the Holy Spirit will often point to the following verses which show people falling to the ground, seemingly by supernatural causes:
– When the soldiers and Judas came to arrest Jesus and Jesus answered, “I am He,” (asserting his divinity) they collapsed on the ground (John 18:6).
– When John saw a vision of God in heaven, he fell as though dead (Revelation 1:17).
– Saul, when on his way to Damascus to persecute Christians fell to the ground when he heard God’s voice (Acts 9:3-4).