Emptied From Vessel to Vessel By John Follete
"Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity; therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent is not changed." (Jer. 48:11).
In the text before us we find a partial statement of the judgment against Moab. It is not my purpose to take up this judgment and from an historical standpoint show the reason for and outcome of it. But I would like to take from this verse a little group of words, really a figure of speech, and find if there be any spiritual application therein for our profit.
The words, emptied from vessel to vessel, are so suggestive! The Holy Spirit in making use of such an expression means more than we may think from a surface or careless reading. The figure has to do with wine-making. It tells one of the methods used in producing a clear, rich, well-refined wine. It is poured into a vessel and allowed to stand for a certain length of time under respective circumstances perhaps of heat, cold, light of darkness. Then it is poured again into another. Each time there is a settling of sediment and dregs which remain in the vessel as the wine-maker carefully pours the precious liquid into still another one. This process he repeats until the wine is perfectly refined and it is poured in clear smooth streams, it yields a freshness of scent or fragrance very choice and pleasing to the maker. This is not so if the wine is allowed to stand all the time in one vessel. If so, it settles upon its lees and becomes scented with the essence of the dregs and loses its proper color value.
Does not such a figure speak? We are, as Christians, familiar enough with God's methods in soul training to recognize at once its teaching. There is a very useful lesson in Scripture in which we are mentioned as vessels. The Holy Spirit uses that type to teach us lessons concerning character building, frailty, usefulness, emptiness, and other helpful truths. But the figure here is quite different; instead of being represented as vessels we are to play the part of wine which is emptied or poured out. The vessels then are quite distinct from us and are produced by the wine-maker alone and serve only for refining the wine.
I wish we could see more clearly than we do and recognize the fact that we are at the present time in the wonderful school of the Holy Ghost. God is a Master-teacher and has us, His children, in training. We are not saved, sanctified and baptized in the Holy Spirit because we are matured or a finished product. These marvelous blessings have come to us because we are not matured. So as we yield to their purposes and ends, the Holy Spirit will see to it that we are taken step by step (vessel by vessel) into growth and maturity. And with wills yielded and spirits mellowed and broken we shall then become wine on the lees well refined.
It is here we find one of the methods God uses in accomplishing the desire of His heart. What may that desire be? That we may be conformed to the image of His dear Son. This is a work indeed. When once we get a vision of what we are by nature and realize it is God's purpose to transform us into the image of Christ, we are amazed. Well we may be, for there is no natural power to carry out so titanic an undertaking. We are helpless before it and see that if ever it is done the power must come from a source other than ourselves. So it does. We are God's little children. He furnishes the means and power for our transformation. He simply asks for yielded, willing material upon which to work. Can we not afford Him this today?
Have we not all found ourselves being emptied from one vessel to another in God's ceaseless dealings? What may these vessels be? I think they represent the various trails, unique arrangement of trying circumstances, peculiar conditions, unexplainable leadings, tests in relation to healing and the general array of experiences and vicissitudes common in the life of a consecrated Christian. He does not say the vessels are all alike. That would spoil the teaching given in the figure.
The vessels are quite different; scarcely two alike in the whole number. Let us consider a few. Here is one made of glass (but it is not wine colored) and as the wine is emptied into it, it assumes a yellow tinge or a green or blue cast as the color of the vessel may produce. This is the vessel of misunderstanding. People judge the color of the wine by the color of the glass, and at once label the wine as off color. Then an endless course of reasons ensues as to the cause of its being thus colored and why such rich looking wine should suddenly take such an unusual shade. Of course the "wine" is all the time conscious of such remarks and has a prayerful time getting settled. For the wine must become absolutely still and stand long enough for the sediment to settle and cling to the bottom and sides of the vessel. Many keep the wine in motion trying to explain the fact that it is really all right; only the glass is colored. Thus there is a delay and longer time is needed to get clear wine. Just as it gets settled and there is a clear condition again, the Maker carefully lifts it up and pours it into another vessel. What is left behind? Praise God, a few more dregs of self-vindication and a few more shreds of the self-life.