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Changed Through Regeneration [3]

Do men get food from the earth without the plow and the harrow? What would have been easy before the fall is now a matter of toil and sweat. The plow tears up the earth and the harrow breaks the clods, but without this tearing and breaking process the reward of the farmer from his ground would be small, so far as food is concerned.

"Bread corn is ground" Isaiah tells us (28:28). This bespeaks a grievous trial in the case of those who have had experience of God's mill. The millstones crack and pulverize the wheat. But there can be no fine flour without the milling process. The fine flour of the meal offering came from the grinding millstones.

The story of cereals is the story of trees. The olives with their fatness were beaten to get the pure virgin oil for the lamps on the Golden Lampstand. "Beaten oil for the light" was the demand of God upon His ancient people. Out of the beating came' the shining. The bruised and broken olive gave up its fatness to light its Creator's house. If we refuse the beating there will be little light in God's house, little testimony for Him. Suffering with Christ and shining for Him go hand in hand.

The vine too bears similar testimony. The luscious grape must go to the winepress. Bunches on bunches are cast in. It seems a waste and destruction of this royal fruit. Into the winepress go those that tread, and beneath their feet the grapes lie bruised and bleeding. But what is the result of all this crushing? - the wine that cheers the heart of God and man. This tells its sad story of Him who was bruised for our iniquities, and from whose heart flowed the sin-cleansing blood.

We might multiply similitudes to show the important place suffering, tribulation and chastisement have in the divine arrangement of things for us.

Few of us have heard the Lord say (though we have read it frequently), "My grace is sufficient for thee," and consequently we have not yet learned to meet trouble with a smile, and to "take pleasure in weaknesses, in injuries, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake" (2 Corinthians 12:10). Paul had learned a great lesson, which perhaps we shall never learn, or never fully learn, that these are an integral part of the full equipment of a Christian man, by means of which God is pleased, he himself is profited and men are blessed.