“No man shall take the nether or upper millstone to pledge: for he taketh a man’s life to pledge.” Deuteronomy 24:6
The Bible clearly states here that under the Old Covenant, God considered a millstone to be a man’s very life. Without it he would perish. How could that be? In olden times, millstones were used to grind wheat into flour. This flour was then used to make bread. And bread represented life!
This millstone in the Old Testament symbolises the tribulation, suffering, hardship, and persecution that we, under the New Covenant, must go through for the life of God to be produced in us. Jesus declared, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” He became that ‘bread’ by laying down His life, by losing it.
The Jews were furious when Jesus told them they would have to eat His flesh and drink His blood. But He was telling them about the necessity of losing their lives. He was pointing to what would be required of them after His death on the Cross: they, too, would be called upon to identify their lives with His in denying self, taking up their Cross daily and following Him; in order that the resurrection life might be found in them.
When they refused, He told them, “You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do”! In essence He was telling them, ‘You cannot be set free from the power of sin if you do not come after me, and take that hard, narrow way of losing your life just as I lose mine’. They would remain carnal men, bound by sin. They even tried to convince Him that they were Abraham’s children. But Jesus answered them, “Oh, no! You guys do not even know Abraham, just as you do not know me, or my Father. Abraham was a spiritual person, but you are carnal.’
Many Christians have this wishy-washy view of Christianity that we are coming to the Lord to be blessed and to be pampered by Him. But when you read the lives of the apostles of Jesus, and indeed that of the Early Church, you get an entirely different picture. They lost their property. They were beaten, hounded and persecuted, and even killed. Nothing like the soap-opera gospels one sees on TV today. And yet they endured all this with abounding joy because they knew that they had “in heaven a better and an enduring substance” Heb. 10:34.
The Bible talks of the men who were to inherit God’s promises in this manner: “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them from afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on earth” Heb. 11:13. Sadly, many of today’s ‘pilgrims’ live for this worldly life.
We cannot expect to become spiritual men and women if we continue holding on to our lives. But if we are living for the true gospel of Jesus Christ, we rejoice when trials, difficulties, lack, and reproaches come our way because they grind down our pride and selfdom, and produce the Godly, humble, selfless life in us.
If God made it an ordinance in the Old Testament that a millstone was to be a man’s very life, we can be assured that, under the New Covenant, the various forms of difficulties and hardships we pass through are our very life. These things produce the nature and character of Christ in us. This is our reward then: Christ living His life in us.
I am always delighted when I hear Pastor Miki Hardy refer to Philippians 1:29: “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for Him…” Across the churches that relate to CTMI, that have heard the gospel of the Cross of Jesus Christ, there is a growing understanding of the ‘grinding down’ work that the Cross must effect in us, before we can become useful instruments in God’s hands, carrying the life of Christ in us.