Brief Notes

The Golden
Reed (13)

9 April 2022

To live according to
God’s divine standard is a
very delicate matter

In our study of the golden reed as the standard by which God measures all His work (Rev. 21:15-17) we have stressed the characteristics of the gold as a picture of the divine nature: that it is unchangeable, weighty, solid, and precious, and yet at the same time (compared to other metals), so soft and pliable. In contrast, the reed, signifying the human nature, is so passing, fragile, and common.

There is one final point to stress about the reed. That is, in the Bible it signifies not only what is fragile, but more specifically, that which is easily broken. The Gospel of Matthew says of the Lord:

A bruised reed He will not break,
And smoking flax He
will not quench,
Till He sends forth justice
to victory.
— Matthew 12:20; cf. Isaiah 42:3

Thus, the combination of the gold and the fragile, easily broken reed as God’s divine standard shows us something very particular about this standard. That is, while a living by God’s divine nature is so weighty and solid, it is at the same time so easy for us to “break” this standard in our human living.

We all have experienced this. Rather than being exercised to enter more deeply into the death of Christ so that we may walk in “newness of life” (Rom. 6:4), we live by our own life. Thus, we express who we are, rather than the divine life and nature we have in Christ. This is to break God’s standard in our daily living.

If we do seek to live by the Christ within us, we will find that to do so is a very fine and delicate matter; we need to be so sensitive and exercised before the Lord to have such a living.

To illustrate this I’ll give an example from my own history that I can only laugh at now….

I was greatly helped by Witness Lee and his ministry, and for many years was very blessed to attend his conferences and trainings. However, I only met him in person briefly, a few times.

The very first time was at the Thanksgiving Conference in Irving, Texas in 1984. After one of the meetings he stayed for awhile to talk with some of the saints, so I took the opportunity to walk up and introduce myself; I did this even though I did not have anyone to make the introduction, as would have been proper when first meeting such an older, distinguished brother as he was.

Anyway, I proceeded to say something to him that was quite stupid. (It was related to what he had just shared in the meeting.) Before I said it he was very open to me, but after I said it he somewhat closed his eyes. It was clear that he was praying and really exercising within to see how the Spirit was responding. And He was responding by slowly turning away….

That helped me a great deal. Even though I was so embarrassed at the time, I saw such a good example of a brother who exercised himself to live by the divine life and nature, rather than to simply respond in himself.

Often, it is our contact with older, more mature saints that can show us something of what it means to live Christ (Phil. 1:21—even if, as in my case, we learn from a somewhat negative experience.) If we do not have the privilege of meeting them in person we can still meet and learn from them in their writings or in their biographies.

But, however it happens, we must ask the Lord to help us learn the lessons so that we may live according to the weighty yet very delicate standard of His divine life and nature. For only such a living can prepare us to dwell with Him in the New Jerusalem for eternity.

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— 9 April 2022 —