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Chapter 11

Servants Of God

Ezekiel 48:30-35

"These are the exits of the city. On the north side, measuring four thousand five hundred cubits (the gates of the city shall be named after the tribes of Israel), the three gates northward: one gate for Reuben, one gate for Judah, and one gate for Levi; on the east side, four thousand five hundred cubits, three gates: one gate for Joseph, one gate for Benjamin, and one gate for Dan; on the south side, measuring four thousand five hundred cubits, three gates: one gate for Simeon, one gate for Issachar, and one gate for Zebulun; on the west side, four thousand five hundred cubits with their three gates: one gate for Gad, one gate for Asher, and one gate for Naphtali. All the way around shall be eighteen thousand cubits; and the name of the city from that day shall be: THE LORD IS THERE."

God strategically positioned the tribes of Israel around His holy city, Jerusalem. Their placements were according to His calling and choice so that they would fulfill His eternal purposes and plans.

In Revelation 4-6-8, we read about four living creatures around the throne of God: "Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back . The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!"

The basic direction for the Hebrews is the east – from the rising of the sun. In determining any direction, the Hebrews faces the direction where the sun rises each day. Thus, the east is the front, sometimes called the place of dawning. The entrance to the Temple was called the East Gate. All other directions receive their designations relative to the east as the front. Thus, west is the rear, north is on the left, and south is on the right. The correct sequence of the directions is clockwise (not crisscross) – east > south > west > north. This Hebraic system of directions is the same as the Chinese system:

Using these Hebraic directions, we had the four living creatures corresponding to the four gospels, namely Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The table below will illustrate this clearly:

Living Creature

Gospel

Christ

Lion

Matthew

The King

Calf

Mark

The Servant

Man

Luke

The Son of Man

Eagle

John

The Son of God

Reuben

Judah

Levi

Naphtali

North

Joseph

Eagle
John

Asher

West

Man
Luke

Lion
Matthew

East

Benjamin

Calf
Mark

Gad

South

Dan

Zebulun

Issachar

Simeon

Looking at the tables, the sons of Issachar are classified by the living creature that looks like a calf, and the gospel of Mark. The theme of Mark is Christ the Servant of God. The sons of Issachar are truly the servants of God.

In Mark 9:34-35, the disciples of Jesus were disputing among themselves about who should be the greatest. Jesus said to them, "Anyone wanting to be the greatest must be the least. Whosoever desires to be great in His kingdom must be the servant of all! Whosoever desires to be first must be willing to be the last!"

Jesus was both the King and the Servant. He was both the Son of Man and the Son of God. Jesus said, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last." (Rev. 1:11)

God deeply impressed this truth upon me one Sunday at church. We were greeted at the church corridors by some youths from Boys’ Brigade. They were standing at their designated positions to receive donations for the ministry. As we walked from the outside to the inside of the church building, at least ten cheerful hearts and sunny smiles approached us. The last boy at the line was Jerry. His name was clearly displayed on his badge. I told him jokingly that he was the last in the line. Therefore, he would receive the least donations. And this human reasoning of mine was entirely wrong. At the end of the service, Jerry was still there. He was now the first in the line from the inside of the building. From the outside, he was the last but from the inside, he was the first.

Jesus is truly the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last, the Greatest and also the Least. He was born in Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, the least among the cities of Judah (Matthew 2:6).

This attitude and mind of Christ should also be in us. Though he was God, He did not demand and cling on to His rights as God. He laid aside His majesty, power and glory. He became a human being just like us. He was born not in ivory palaces but in a dirty manger where cattle had their feed. He came to serve and not to be served. He was both the Servant of all and the Lord of all. He humbled Himself even to the extent of dying a criminal's death upon a cruel cross. Because He was willing to be the Least, He became the Greatest. God raised Him up to the heights of heaven and gave Him a name, which is above every other name. At the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth. Every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11).

In Matthew 19:29-30, Jesus said: "And anyone who gives up his home, brothers, sisters, father, mother, wife, children, or property, to follow Me, shall receive a hundred times as much in return, and shall have eternal life. But many who are first now will be last then; and some who are last now will be first then." He then gave them this illustration of the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 20:1-16;TLB):

The owner of an estate went out early one morning to hire workers for his harvest field. He agreed to pay them $20 a day and sent them out to work. A couple of hours later he was passing a hiring hall and saw some men standing around waiting for jobs, so he sent them also into his fields, telling them he would pay them whatever was right at the end of the day.

At noon and again around three o'clock in the afternoon he did the same thing. At five o'clock that evening he was in town again and saw some more men standing around and asked them, 'Why haven't you been working today?'

'Because no one hired us,' they replied. 'Then go on out and join the others in my fields,' he told them. That evening he told the paymaster to call the men in and pay them, beginning with the last men first.

When the men hired at five o'clock were paid, each received $20. So when the men hired earlier came to get theirs, they assumed they would receive much more. But they, too, were paid $20. They protested, 'Those fellows worked only one hour, and yet you've paid them just as much as those of us who worked all day in the scorching heat.'

'Friend,' he answered one of them, 'I did you no wrong! Didn't you agree to work all day for $20? Take it and go. It is my desire to pay all the same; is it against the law to give away my money if I want to? Should you be angry because I am kind?' And so it is that the last shall be first, and the first, last.

God is righteous from the beginning to the end. All His ways are just. Even His blessings upon Israel was not reserved just for them. They flowed out to bless all the other nations and peoples. The gospel came to Israel first. They saw and heard the Messiah with their own eyes and ears. But they rejected Him. Since then the gospel had gone to the Gentiles on a westward journey from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. To Macedonia, England, America, Korea, China, Asia, Australia, Africa, Middle-East. And now it is coming back to Jerusalem again. The first shall be the last, and the last shall be the first.

The story of King David was a good illustration of this truth. After God had rejected King Saul, he sent His prophet Samuel to find and anoint the new king for Israel (1 Samuel 16:1-14). He was specifically sent to Bethlehem – the least important among the cities of Judah.

When Jesse showed Samuel his firstborn son, Eliab, Samuel thought, "Surely this is the man the Lord has chosen!" But the Lord said to Samuel, "Don't judge by a man's face or height, for this is not the one. I don't make decisions the way you do! Men judge by outward appearance, but I look at a man's thoughts and intentions." The selection went on till all in the list of Jesse were rejected.

It was not the eldest, the strongest or the wisest chosen that day. The chosen one was not even there in the line. He was out in the fields tending the sheep. He was the youngest son of Jesse. His earthly father did not include him in his list. But God did not forget David. He was the last to be called before Samuel. But he was the first choice of God – a man after God’s own heart! When Samuel took the olive oil and poured it upon David's head, the Spirit of God came upon him and gave him great anointing and power from that day onwards. The last became the first. The least became the greatest! The rejected was the chosen! The weakest became the strongest.

When we look at how the world selects its own, we often will have to contend with worldly mindsets and standards. What are the selection criterion and parameters? In the eyes of the world, greatness is measured in terms of lordship and leadership. In heaven’s eyes, it is measured in terms of servanthood and discipleship.

When others see a shepherd boy, God may see a king. When others see a Baby, God sees a Saviour. When others see the sufferings of Christ, God sees the triumphs of Christ! When others see the death, God sees the resurrection! When others put you last on their list, God may put you first on His list. God still uses ordinary people to fulfill His extraordinary purposes.

From the outside, you may be the last, but from the inside, you may be the first! Remember Jerry.

The sons of Issachar bear the marks of their mother, Leah. Though she was the first wife of Jacob, yet she was the last. She was unloved. But in the end, she was again first in the eyes of Jacob. He was buried in the same place besides her.

The sons of Issachar bear the mark of true servanthood. They are not afraid to be the least. They are not afraid to lose. They don't have to be number one. For they know that the last shall be first, and the first shall be last.


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