The Closed Door
     Gateway to Spiritual Fullness
                                               No Poor Among You
                                                               Gleanings From Deut. 15

“At the end of every seven years you shall grant a remission of debts”
(Deut. 15:1).  

“There shall be no poor among you, since the Lord will surely bless you
in the Land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance to
possess” (Deut. 15:4).  

“For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf, and
for those at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen
my face, that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together
in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full
assurance of understanding, resulting in the true knowledge of God’s
mystery, that is, Christ Himself in whom are hidden all the treasures of
wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:1-3).  

Chapter 15 of Deut. deals with the matter of poverty.  

In God’s mind there should be no poverty among His people.  The land of Canaan has
such an overflowing abundance that God’s people should never ever suffer lack of
anything.  Chapter 8:7-10 and chapter 11:9-15 give an amazingly detailed and
impressive description of the fullness and riches of the land.  It should leave no doubt in
anyone’s mind with regard to God’s wonderful intention and generous provision for His
people.  

In typology, the Land of Canaan signifies the overflowing riches and all-inclusive fullness
of Christ as each believer’s full inheritance and enjoyment.  

In light of such fullness and riches, chapter 15:4 reveals God’s view of believers’
inheritance in Christ: “However, there shall be no poor among you, since the Lord will
surely bless you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance to
possess.”  Since every believer has been allotted a portion of Christ, there should never
be spiritual poverty if everyone maintains a normal and loving relationship with the Lord.  

However, when we become complacent in our pursuit of and relationship with Christ, our
heart will begin to grow cold and get distracted by the love of the world.  It’s only a matter
of time before we take on distorted views of Christ and are swayed by the winds of
teaching.  In God’s eye, we have now become “poor.”  

Chapter 15 shows perhaps two kinds of poverty: 1) Specific poverty, our “neighbor”
becomes our debtor (v. 2).  2) General poverty, “If there is a poor man with you” (v. 7a).  

The first case deals with our relationship with our brothers and sisters.  When we offend
or hold a grudge against a brother, we become a “debtor,” because it is an indicator of
our abnormal spiritual condition which exposes our shortage of Christ within.  If our
spiritual condition is proper, there cannot be any jealousy, backbiting, gossiping or
offenses done against our brothers and sisters with whom we are closely related.  Our
normal experience of the fullness of Christ makes us rich in Christ and will prevent us
from incurring any “debt” of offenses against our brethren.  

Contrarily, our backbiting, gossip and offenses against the brethren are giveaways of
our own poor inward condition.  By not experiencing the riches and fullness of the Lord
we inevitably offend each other and incur spiritual debts.  It doesn’t take much to agitate
and offend a brother who is not walking with the Lord.  Even an innocent look can set him
off.  In such a condition, the most pressing need is the forgiveness of “debt.”  Christians
need to learn to free each other from their “debts.”  

It has been said that it is not easy to forget what aught our brethren have against us, let
alone forgive.  Why is it so difficult to forget and forgive?  Could it be due to our own
spiritual poverty – lack of Christ within?  If we have not possessed our inheritance of the
fullness of Christ, we have no resources with which to free our brethren from his “debt.”  

I suppose some highly moral people can resort to their ethics and morality to squeeze
out some forgiveness; but our natural resources in God's eyes are nothing but refuse
and filthy rags!  The only resource that computes is what has been wrought and
constituted into our being through the dealings of the Holy Spirit.  

That’s why this chapter begins with “seven years” (“At the end of every seven years you
shall grant a remission of debts”).  As “seven” being the number of completion, it implies
that there must be a full period of time in terms of our learning to enter into the
experience of the inexhaustible Christ.  It takes time to learn and possess the riches of
Christ in reality.  Much of what we know of Christ is merely head knowledge.  After years
of being dealt with and coming to our senses, we are often shocked to find out how little
we really know and how little of His character we really possess.  

So, our ability to set our brethren free from their debts actually hinges upon our having a
season of coming into possessing the reality of Christ as our resources.  This “seven-
year” season then becomes a wealth of resources out of which we can dispense
forgiveness, among other blessings, to our spiritually impoverished brothers and
sisters.  

The second case of general poverty deals with our less than normal relationship with the
Lord.  Since verse 4 says, “there shall be no poor among you,” it shows that in our
normal Christian walk, each has been given a rich portion of Christ to experience and
enjoy, there should be therefore “no poor” among the saints.  

So the “poor man” in verse 7 is one whose relationship with the Lord is sub-normal
either due to lukewarmness of his heart, loss of first love, love of the world, distorted
religious concept or wrong teachings, etc.  It should be noted that whatever the case may
be, the remedy is the same: “make a release” for the “debtor,” the spiritually poor.  

Whether we slacked off in our walk with the Lord and resulted in owing a “debt” to our
neighbors, or our sub-normal relationship with the Lord resulted in our spiritual poverty,
the remedy is the same, “make a release” for the “debtor.”  This should deeply impress
us: the Christian life that we live is not an individualistic life.  Early on in Adam’s family,
his children were taught to be their “brother’s keeper.”  Here in Deuteronomy 15, we are
told to “make a release” for the debtor, the spiritually poor brothers and sisters.  

Clearly, the Lord wants His people to relate to each other and be sensitive to each other’
s plight.  When one member of the family falls into indebtedness or spiritual poverty, the
other members should have the sensitivity of such plight and seek to “make release” for
their stricken brethren.  The Lord can never be pleased with monastic Christians, no
matter how holy and loving they may appear!  He is after a corporate testimony, let there
be no doubt.  

This is the reason we are burdened for our brothers and sisters who, for one reason or
another, fall into either indebtedness due to improper relationship with the saints, or
poverty due to improper relationship with the Lord, or a combination of both.  This is the
reason we reach out, pray for and seek to undo their spiritual poverty.  

We see two important themes running throughout the Bible: Relationship with God, and
relationship with the brethren.  When Israel’s relationship with God suffered, they
suffered defeat in the hand of the enemy, and poverty ensued.  When Israel’s
relationship with each other suffered, i.e. when their rivalry split them into two kingdoms,
the corporate testimony suffered, and indebtedness resulted.  

In the New Testament, the same two themes continue: the kingdom became the Church,
the Bride of Christ,
with whom the Lord courts a love relationship.  The Church is also the
family of God in which there is no Greek or Jew, no bond or free, no class distinction, no
divisions.  
We are all one body and are commanded to love one another and practice
family life, not forsaking the assembling together
.  

Out of these two important themes, i.e. relationship with God and relationship with the
brethren, emerge the apple of His eye – the Church.  And, lest we forget, when we
merge our vertical relationship with God and horizontal relationship with men, what do
we have?  A cross!  

Where the cross is not a reality, neither is the church, no matter how authentic the pattern
may be.  

Let us never forget, we have been commanded to release our brethren who are in the
bondage of “indebtedness” or the chokehold of “poverty.”  The question is, how do we
do it?  By our zeal? Ability? Gifts?  Natural resources?  

By “seven years.”  We need the Lord to lead us into a thorough dealing of our flesh, so
that there can be a gaining of the fullness of Christ within, which then becomes our
spiritual resources with which we “make release” for our brothers and sisters who are in
spiritual poverty.  

We need to pray.  Pray that the Lord grant us mercy so that we would come out of our
own indebtedness and poverty, and that we would be vessels which the Lord can use to
deliver others from bondage with.  

Perhaps now we begin to understand why Paul told the Colossian saints, “For I want you
to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf, and for those at Laodicea, and for all
those who have not personally seen my face, that their hearts may be encouraged,
having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full
assurance of understanding, resulting in the true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is,
Christ Himself in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:1-
3).  

Incidentally, did you see the emergence of a cross in these verses?  Look again.  Look
for the vertical and the horizontal aspects of Paul's burden.  

It takes a tremendous struggle in spirit to be burdened for our brethren who are mired in
deep spiritual poverty just as Paul burdened for the Colossians who were in danger of
being taken captive by heresies, philosophies and traditions which sent them to Christ-
less poverty.  It takes the travails of the cross to usher the impoverished saints back to
the wealth in Christ.  

Deut. 15:6 says, “…you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow; and you
shall reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over you.”  One of the amazing
things about the scriptures is its many-fold applications and spiritual significance.  

For the Old Testament dispensation, the required application is merely physical and
outward and by the letters.  It falls short without the reality in Christ.  For the New
Testament age, the required application is spiritual and inward and consummating in
Christ.  Our present concern, therefore, is not to seek physical and outward applications
by the letters, but to extract for inward spiritual reality hidden in Old Testament letters.  

Take verse 6, for instance, the old dispensation merely requires Israel not to borrow but
to lend and to physically reign over many nations.  The present day application, however,
is that we become so filled and enriched with Christ as our spiritual wealth that
Christians would never suffer spiritual poverty (having to “borrow”), but should have
surplus of Christ to share with others (“lend”).  

And our present day “reigning” is certainly not in the form of manifested reality as will be
in the Kingdom to come, but in the form of hidden spiritual reality.  No Christian in his
sound and Christ-filled mind would ever tell the IRS to “get lost,” or his boss to “take a
hike” because God’s people are supposed to “reign.”  We are still subjected to many
physical, governmental and social restraints, but in our spirit we soar above all earthly
and angelic powers.  

Verse 14 gives the best clue as to what we can do to release our brethren from spiritual
poverty: “You shall furnish him liberally out of your flock, out of your threshing floor, and
out of your winepress….”  

Three things are singled out as being helpful to our “poor” brothers and sisters: flock,
threshing floor and winepress.  Put it another way, what qualifies us to render aid to our
needy brethren are our surplus of these three things: flock, threshing floor and
winepress.  It behooves us then to find out what these three things signify.

1)    
The flock.  The increase of the flock comes from daily feeding, and from the
animals undergoing travail to give birth.  Spiritually, our increase of the stature in Christ
comes from daily feeding on Christ as life and from travailing in prayer.  Without feeding,
we remain spiritual midgets; without prayer, we become fruitless and insensitive to God’
s burdens.  

2)    
The threshing floor.  It is the place where grain is sifted to remove stones, and
where chaff is separated from grain.  This is the place where the Holy Spirit takes us
through the “fiery furnace” of the cross to remove our “stones” and “chaff,” and as a
result, a “fourth man” – Christ, is gained.  Here not only the flesh gets dealt with, the
soulish elements are separated from the spiritual elements.  Our soul is the biggest
hindrance to genuine spirituality because it has an uncanny ability to mimic the spirit.  To
be able to help our brothers and sisters in need, our soulish elements must be
separated from the spirit.  May the Holy Spirit take us to the threshing floor.  

3)    
The winepress.  A mere mention of the word instills a hush of reverence.  The
suffering of Jesus in the hands of the ungodly and the religious.  The lonely road of
rejection and misunderstanding He traversed.  The bloodstained cross in Golgotha; and
the ultimate rejection by the Father, though but for an hour….  

What more shall we say?  O, but the benefit and the blessings we derived from it!  He
took the cup of wrath that we might hoist the cup of blessing!  He bore our curse of death
that we might reap His triumph of life.  Hallelujah for the cross!  If we want to bestow
fullness of blessing to our brethren, we must not shrink back from the winepress.  

Now we begin to understand the magnitude of our commanded burden and service that
could lead to the release of our brethren from spiritual indebtedness and poverty.  Now
we begin to understand why verse 1 says, “At the end of seven years you shall make a
release.”  It takes nothing less than a full period of time for the Lord to bring our natural
zeal and ability to an end and to produce the “flock
,” the “threshing floor” and the
“winepress” in us which enable us to service our brethren and furnish them with the
blessings they really need.  Unfortunately, many brothers and sisters think they can
deliver the help that the “poor” brethren need by their raw talents, natural abilities and
zeal without the required “seven years.”  

The disciples were always quick to focus on their service to the physically poor and
needy, but only one little humble sister knew how to service the Lord’s need by her
broken alabaster jar.  Brokenness.  How we all need the Holy Spirit’s “seven years” of
labor to produce a powerful fragrance of Christ that can only emanate from broken jars!  

I am afraid we all are more like the disciples than Mary; and we are far more inclined to
render physical help to the “poor” brethren at their first sound of despair.  

When Lazarus fell ill, his two sisters (and disciples) wanted Jesus to immediately do
something about it.  But He waited for days until death firmly took hold before He went to
him.  Don’t get me wrong, please.  I am all for rendering “practical” and “timely” help to
our brethren.  There is
definitely a place for practical and timely help.  But what is their
(our) real problem?  What is their (our) real need?  I am afraid our problem is the
proclivity to circumvent the “seven years” required to produce the “flock,” the “threshing
floor” and the “winepress.”  

May the Lord grant us patience – and seven years!  

Oliver