“…Therefore was the name of it called Galeed;
And Mizpah: for he said, The LORD watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another.”
In this life we all have our beginnings and our endings. This has been brought so very sharply to our attention these past few months. We began our labors in Southwest Church some six years ago, and we had certain labors to perform. God had an agenda for us! When this work was concluded our task and labors there were ended. And although we had been Missionary in the States for almost ten years in the past, this does not take away the reality that now we must make a fresh beginning. Perhaps we are a bit wiser, a bit more conscious of own weakness and strength, and of need of sole and utter dependence upon the LORD, our God! But a new beginning we must make here. We have a certain race to run, many prayers to pray, sermons to preach, school sessions to conduct, and many miles to go. But we stand now on the threshold of this all. And the eyes of Mrs. Lubbers and of myself are upon the Lord, who does not slumber or sleep.
I know you would like to hear a few particulars concerning this beginning here. But that must wait just a bit. We will try to give that in a later writing, God willing. I would now like to call attention to the fact that I have an office, a work from the LORD assigned to me which I must fulfill as did Paul write to the Colossian church, “And say to Archippus, take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the LORD, that thou fulfill it.” (Col. 4:17) This office is not always understood properly. We will therefore give here a brief outline of what the Scriptures and the Reformed fathers considered this office to be.
When Jesus was about to die and was denied three times by his disciple Peter, he spoke to him and said, “. . . . All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered. But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee.” (Mark 14:27, 28) And after the resurrection Jesus gathers the disciples as a Shepherd of the sheep, who was dead but now lives forever more. He brings them to the mountain designated, and will realize what we read in Isaiah 2:2, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it.” This prophecy of Isaiah Jesus is bringing to pass: he is the end of the law for righteousness to every one which believeth, first the Jew and also the Greek.
And Christ’s witnesses of His death and resurrection are to go forth into all the world, beginning at Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth. And they are to go forth (keep on going forth) into all the world, among all the nations, teaching all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And He added this. promise: Lo I am with you alway, even unto the consummation of the ages, the day of the great Harvest!
Definitely our task is: discipling, teaching the words of the Covenant: forgiveness of sins in Christ’s blood for everyone who believes. The full counsel of God must be preached on this score: eternal election, limited atonement, total depravity, efficacious grace and the preservation of the saints. That salvation is a work of the Triune God, out of the Father, through the Son and in the Holy Ghost must be taught. The twelve Articles of Faith must be exposited in all their length and breadth, height and depth.
But also the things which must be kept in the church, observed as Christ has commanded. All the ordinances and precepts of Christ: pure preaching of the Word, the administration of the Sacraments and the exercise of Christian discipline.
Such is our task according to the Scriptures! Thus we read in the “FORM OF ORDINATION OF MISSIONARIES,” and we quote “. . . Although ministers of the Word have in common, that to them is committed the preaching of the Gospel, the administration of the Sacraments, the government of the Church, and the maintenance of the Christian discipline, yea, all that belongs, according to the Word of God, to the office of pastor and teacher: and although from the difference of the field of labor no difference is resulting concerning office, authority or dignity, since all possess the same mission, the same office and the same authority, yet notwithstanding this, it is necessary that some labor in the congregations already established, while others are called and sent to preach the Gospel to those without, in order to bring them to Christ.. . .”
And the “Form Of Ordination” prescribes the following duties:
1. To bring to attention of the hearers by all fit and lawful means the glad tidings that Jesus has come into the world to save sinners.
2. To administer the Sacraments where a church is gathered by Christ.
3. To ordain elders and deacons in the church wherever possible and necessary.
4. To maintain Christian discipline in the midst of the congregation and to faithfully exercise the keys of the kingdom of heaven.
5. To be a faithful servant of Jesus Christ and a careful shepherd of the flock.
This is a very sober and Biblical statement of the office of a missionary, and it is vastly different from the modern idea of Mission Word as propagated by and engaged in by those who would climb the Ecumenical bandwagon. Yes, this is entirely different from what is done in the “Crusades for Christ” of a Billy Graham! Well may we cherish this “FORM,” and not frown upon it, or speak of it in a disparaging and belittling way as being “antequated!” It is fresh and up-to-date as the morning light!
Of this task we are making a beginning here in Jamaica. Yes, we had been here as an emissary. But now the mantle of the Missionary is placed on our shoulders. And this ministry we are to fulfill!
On Sunday evening, September 6, 1970 a large gathering met to bid us “goodbye” and wish us the blessing of the Lord. It was a good evening and one which we will long remember and cherish. Rev. Clinton J. Elliott spoke very eloquently that evening of his impressions, expressed his gratitude to God for the brotherly and kind reception which he received every: where in our churches, and admonished us to keep the Reformed faith, which is the only truth of the Bible. Arnold Dykstra sang two fitting numbers to an audience of over four hundred people. The undersigned spoke a few words in response to the welcoming words of the minister of First Church, Rev. Gise J. VanBaren.
There was something that Rev. VanBaren said which lingers with me and which I have pondered deep in my heart. He pointed at this time of parting to the duty of the members to remember the missionary and his wife with letters and cards, and in their prayers. Now, that was very commendable. And the many well wishes of those who shook our hands was like the balm of Gilead. Many nice and commendable things were said to and concerning us. It was a bit embarrassing at times. It made me feel that I should with the help of God go out and prove myself worthy of these wonderful expressions of gratitude, that we had accepted the call to be Missionary in Jamaica. Yet, withal this, there is one thing that lingers in my soul, and that is what Laban said to Jacob when he had pursued him as he attempted to escape from Padanaram to Canaan. They are the words “. . . The LORD watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another,”Genesis 31:48, 49
He pointed out that now we will not see each other; Rev. and Mrs. Lubbers will not be under the eye of the Consistory of First Church. No Consistory hears his sermon to approve of it with the right hand of fellowship. No one watches over the Missionary directly. But there is One who does. He never slumbers nor sleeps. He walks between the seven candlesticks, also in the churches of Jamaica. Here, too, it is required in stewards that they be found faithful. They must faithfully fulfill the ministry, and office above outlined. He must walk as example of the flock. The installation form says “All thine actions, thy speaking and thy silence, yes, all thine influence is to co-operate to recommend the gospel of Christ. Let thy conversation be without covetousness; Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good, that thou mayest be able to say with the Apostle Paul, I Cor. 9:19, 22, 27 “For though I was free from all men, I brought myself under bondage to all, that I might gain the more . . . I am become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some. I buffet my body and bring it into bondage: lest by any means, after that I preached to others, I myself should be rejected.”
Yes, the Lord watch between thee and me!
Laban said it a bit loud-mouthed! He says it a bit vaunting as if it were only a covenant which bound Jacob. He stipulates the terms very exactingly, and from the heights of his paternal prerogative. And he does not admit Jacob’s rightful grievances, but ignores them very haughtily. He treats Jacob as one who is very much a potential cruel man to his wives, and to the children. It was the last words of Laban to Jacob, and with this Laban bows from the scene of history!
But Jacob receives it. It is so true. The Lord will watch over Jacob. He will come and wrestle with Him at the Jabbok river, will make him limp that he may walk like a man of God in faith and dependence upon the Lord. And from the Peniel experience Jacob will be led to Bethel, and to Egypt, and in his generations the Lord will watch over Jacob and bring him to the promised land in the latter days!
Yes, the Lord watches over us. It is a very small thing to be judged of man. And if Paul knows nothing amiss, yet therein is he not justified. The Lord will judge him. Let, therefore, men account him as a minister of Christ, and a steward of the mysteries of God in the church.
In sorrow and in loneliness, in disappointments and challenges, the Lord is with all His faithful servants. And it is sought in a steward that he be found faithful. He must faithfully preach the full counsel of God, and finish the work assigned him of the Lord.
The God of the Watch tower of Mispah watches over all of us. Presently He says to His faithful servants; Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of thy Lord.