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What manner of persons ought ye to be (1)
Symbols of Service -- Gatherers and Guides

Part 2
It is a solemn thing to realize that we are all either gatherers or scatterers, even though we may consider our attitude to be one of neutrality. The Lord has declared that there is no mid-way position that is neither for, nor against Him. It is a solemn fact that for any one not to be for Him means that he is against Him:

He that is not with Me is against Me; and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth abroad (Matt. 12:30).

Without attempting to soften or mitigate this serious statement which touches us all whether we will or no, we would add to it another of the Lord's utterances, so that we may not wrongly interpret the first statement in any sectarian spirit:

Master, we saw one casting out devils in Thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not; for he that is not against us is for us (Luke 9:49,50).

Although this man was not in manifest fellowship with the disciples (they could say, 'He followeth not with us'), the Lord revealed that there was a deeper unity than this; and we must ever be on our guard lest a mere party spirit should take the place of loyalty to the Lord and His truth.

The work of the scatterer is the work of the Evil One, and is assisted by the hireling:

He that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep (John 10:12).

The work of the gatherer, therefore, is the work of the shepherd. The figure of a shepherd is used freely in the Scriptures as a symbol of service, and will be considered in its own place. We here deal with the general significance of the gatherer. It was the desire of the Lord that He might gather the children of Jerusalem together as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings (Matt. 23:37). And He is yet to send His angels and gather together His elect from the four winds of heaven, as men gather in the sheaves into the barn at harvest home (Matt. 24:31; 13:30,39-43). The word is also used for the gathering of grapes (Matt. 7:16).

Let us take stock of ourselves. How far can we honestly say that we are gatherers? Is it our tendency to bring together, or to scatter? Do we spend our strength in building up or in pulling down? Do we manifest the characteristics of the true shepherd or of the hireling?

The second symbol to be considered in this article is that of the guide. While a guide does not necessarily gather, he certainly leads on to the desired haven. The Jew, because of the special position he occupied in the plan of redemption, was peculiarly fitted to be a guide:

Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, and knowest His will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind (Rom. 2:17-19).

The Jew had every qualification for being a guide to the blind except one -- he was blind himself. Among the reiterated 'woes' of Matthew 23 the Lord refers to blindness five times:

Woe unto you, ye blind guides (Matt 23:16)

Ye fools and blind (Matt. 23:17,19)

Ye blind guides, which strain at (out) a gnat, and swallow a camel (Matt. 23:24)

Thou blind Pharisee (Matt. 23:26)

Upon examination it will be found that on each occasion when the Lord called these men 'blind', He referred to ritualism being substituted for reality. To follow such leaders must end in destruction. If a guide mistakes the mirage for the real, must not all who follow him perish? If he feeds his followers upon the husks in mistake for the true wheat, shall they not starve? If he leads them to put their trust in the observance of days, months, weeks, years, sabbath days, meats and drinks (which are but shadows of the true), must they not go astray? 'If the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch'. So important is keenness of vision for the eastern guide, that no one is permitted by the Arabs to be a guide who cannot discern certain double stars, which to the ordinary town-dweller appear as one. As guides we need to see our path clearly, to discern the leading of the Lord, and to distinguish the shadows from the substance.

The gatherer, we found, was a title that could be borne by a shepherd. So also a shepherd can be a guide:

But made His own people to go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock (Psa. 78:52).

Looking to the Lord for guidance as we seek to guide others, we observe that He 'guides the feet into the way of peace' (Luke 1:79). If we read the cry of the Ethiopian Eunuch, and Philip's response to it, we shall not be in doubt as to the character of the true guide:

Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? ... Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same Scripture, and preached unto him Jesus (Acts 8:30-35).

This, then, is the essential difference between the blind guides and the true. The blind guides cannot see that all Scripture points to Christ, and so they lose themselves in shadows. The true guide will always 'begin at the same Scripture' and preach Jesus.


Part 2