One. TEAM SPIRIT: BENJAMIN.
Genesis 49:27. ™ Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; all morning he gorges on his kill, at evening divides up what's left over.
Deuteronomy 33:12. Benjamin: “GOD's beloved; GOD's permanent residence. Encircled by GOD all day long, within whom GOD is at home.”
Other writers have pointed out that of the 12 sons of Jacob, Joseph stands out head and shoulders above the others. Jacob recognized this in his 11th son. He punctuated this insight by taking Joseph's two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, and made them like Reuben and Simeon, and thus honored Joseph. He gave him two parts in Israel, the holder of the double blessing that Elisha coveted.
But Benjamin was Joseph's only full brother, and the only other son from Rachel. What Joseph was alone as next to Pharaoh over all of Egypt - Benjamin took on the posture of one who moved in team spirit. Even when he was bad as in the last chapters of the book of Judges, he moved in warfare against his 11 brother tribes in great unity. As a result he killed the equivalent of his own tribe from amongst the 11 tribes on two successive days. He fell on the 3rd day - but it shows the result of unity and team spirit - whether operating on a good or evil course.
But when we come to the days of Paul the Benjamite in the New Testament - we then see the power of team spirit through this apostle, that perhaps only Moses comes close to duplicating. Fourteen city churches composed of myriads of local churches came forth from the vision, labor and motivation of the apostle Paul, with his various teams of apostolic leaders.
THIS is the spirit of Benjamin. This is the demonstration of “Team-spirit.” This is in line with Henry Blackaby and E. Stanley Jones.
So which is more significant, Benjamin or Joseph? We can hardly make an “either-or” choice - it must be “BOTH-AND.” In the Kingdom of God, Benjamin naturally follows Joseph - and Benjamin takes on all the best of Joseph and sows it into a 'TEAM-SPIRIT.” It makes the role of Paul the Benjamite a never-to-be-forgotten picture of the potential of the Benjamin spirit.
Another thought! Team spirit is based on well-laid foundations. If the foundations be destroyed, what shall the righteous do? But Paul in his letter to the Romans lays solid foundations for non-Jewish believers. And the writer of Hebrews (who many believe was Paul) lays the solid foundation truths for Jewish believers in chapter 6:1-2. In the church in decades ahead, both Jewish and non-Jewish believers walked in these clear foundation truths. Out of this flows forth the Benjamite “Team-spirit.”
Two. TEAM SPIRIT: GEORGE R. HAWTIN & 1948.
Romans 5:15. ™ “Yet the rescuing gift is not exactly parallel to the death-dealing sin. If one man's sin put crowds of people at the dead-end abyss of separation from God, just think what God's gift poured through one man, Jesus Christ, will do!”
I can remember yet George Hawtin in 1945 telling a class in Romans at Bethel Bible Institute in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan the following: -- It puzzled him how one Man, even though the Son of God, could atone for the sins of every person of the human race. Then God quickened to him the above verse. Then by the help of the illumination of the Holy Spirit he understood! It only took one man - Adam - to bring sin into the world and upon each one of us. So how logical that God could send one Man and through Him undo the pitiable state into which Adam brought us. The last Adam has brought us into a higher state than we would have had, had Adam NOT sinned. God again used Romans 8:28 not only in a reversal process - but also into a catapulting act. In Christ we both individually and corporately are now better off than had the first tragedy not occurred!
I can still 58 years later hear the exultant tone in Brother Hawtin's voice as he shared with us this revelation.
But it was 3 years later when I observed through the example of George Hawtin his commitment to “Team spirit.” In the 1948 Visitation he asked 6 of us to join with him as a corporate eldership - to ensure that we did not miss the leading of the Lord in any meeting during those days of Heaven on earth. I remember watching him lead an afternoon meeting during the July 1948 Camp Meeting at North Battleford. I sensed by the way that he hunched his shoulders that he was not at ease. Then he turned the praise and worship part of the service over to another and polled the 6 of us behind him on the platform. He said, “I know we announced this morning that we would do so and so this afternoon. But I have the strongest sense that the Lord doesn't want to move in that direction. Do any of you sense a leading coming from His mind?” As he polled the 6 of us individually, it wasn't until he got to the last one that he heard a word that brightened his countenance. He returned in reverse order to each of us and reported. “Joe feels God would have us move in this direction.” Each of us immediately confirmed this word.
Then Brother Hawtin took over the meeting and announced this confirmed word. He said, “I know we announced this morning something different, but with your understanding we are going to please the Lord by walking in His confirmed leading.” The blessing of God fell so powerfully on that afternoon meeting that it was almost difficult to stand. GOD was pleased that through the “Team-spirit of unity” we were able to hear HIS word and obey it.
Three. TEAM SPIRIT: EUROPE AND THE COMMON MARKET.
Judges 20:8-11. ™ All the people were at once and as one person on their feet. “None of us will go home; not a single one of us will go to his own house. Here's our plan for dealing with Gibeah: We'll march against it by drawing lots. We'll take ten of every hundred men from all the tribes of Israel (a hundred of every thousand, and a thousand of every ten thousand) to carry food for the army. When the troops arrive at Gibeah they will settle accounts for this outrageous and vile evil that was done in Israel.” So all the men in Israel were gathered against the city, totally united.
When I sought the mind of the Lord for a country or continent that exemplified the Benjamin spirit, I wasn't prepared for God's choice of Europe! “Really,” I thought, “how could God make that linkage?”
But in the last decade that has followed this insight, I have begun to see the wisdom God. First of all, I have not been turned on with the European Common Market. True, it is a descendant of the Holy Roman Empire, but like its predecessor, it too is a unity of carnality, power and force. But it does illustrate the power of unity, though in a negative manner. But use this power of unity to illustrate the church of Ephesus, which Paul raised up through “team-spirit.” Within 3 years all of Asia Minor, all of modern Turkey - had heard the word of God through this demonstration of unity. On a national level, this is what Europe is demonstrating to us in America. We may be the United States of America, but they are the united countries of the Common Market of Europe. And they are beginning to challenge America in an economic way. But subsidizing Airbus, Boeing has lost many an order. Just as the Soviets subsidized their athletes on a professional level - other nations like America found it difficult to compete successfully from an amateur level.
So let us watch Europe, with France and Germany. They are moving in a direction of self-serving that does not augur well for global well-being. But it does illustrate the power of “team-spirit,” according to the revival principle of Benjamin. The Mafia families also illustrate this spirit with the godfather in the background. By cloistering himself in secrecy, he has organized his infernal focus in a unity preserved by fear, force and intimidation. Islam clearly follows this same course both nationally and in the total confines of their religion. Though these forces illustrate the power of unity - it is nonetheless a negative unity of force and intimidation. Look at Saddam Hussein, Nasser of Egypt, and the Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran (ancient Persia).
Then swiftly move to the unity of the early church. Within a generation one out of ten in the Roman Empire professed to be a Christian. If you can't beat them, join them. Constantine in 325 AD encouraged the Council of Nicea, and the church soon lost its power, and later slipped into the 1000-year era of the Dark Ages.
So, whether for good or evil - “Team-spirit” works. For us as surrendered believers to the will of God - it will at the end of this age - preceding the Second Coming of Jesus - eventuate in the total victory of all of God's prophetic proclamations in the Bible!
Four. TEAM SPIRIT: HENRY BLACKABY & “EXPERIENCING GOD,” Chapter 10.
Romans 12:5. ™ “The body we're talking about is Christ's body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn't amount to much, would we?”
Sometime in the early 90's a Southern Baptist pastor from Texas introduced Henry Blackaby and “Experiencing God, Knowing and Doing the Will of God” to me. He knew I had been in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan just previous to the 1948 Visitation in North Battleford. So he asked me - “Did you ever run across Henry Blackaby when he pastored Faith Baptist Church from 1970-1982?” Well, I had left that part of the country in 1949, so I was unacquainted with him - but I did know many of the churches he mentioned in his book.
My Baptist friend gave me a copy of “Experiencing God.” Both my wife and I were captivated by it, and have taught it individually or jointly some 13 times.
But the interesting thing about the plan of this book - is that the first 9 chapters enable an individual to see the way to come into intimacy with God. But from chapter 10 onwards, Blackaby then deals with the power of Corporate unity. It is an area that brings us into MULTIPLICATION, instead of mere addition. There is unusual blessing at your disposal to teach this 12-chapter workbook in your church. If you can mobilize a core group to walk in these principles, your church will never be the same again. It will take faith, patience and motivation, but “Team-spirit” will result!
Five. TEAM SPIRIT: E. STANLEY JONES AND “CHRISTIAN ASHRAM.”
Psalm 133. ™ “How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along! It's like costly anointing oil flowing down head and beard, Flowing down Aaron's beard, flowing down the collar of his priestly robes. It's like the dew on Mount Hermon flowing down the slopes of Zion. Yes, that's where GOD commands the blessing, ordains eternal life.”
Someone introduced Oswald Chambers to me in 1963. “My Utmost for His Highest” challenged me plus “Biblical Psychology” for many years. Then suddenly I felt a nudge from the Spirit - “OC helps you to receive individual relationship with Me. But now the 'Present Truth' requires that you develop 'Corporate Relationship' with Me. Switch to E. Stanley Jones in your devotions, with his 'Abundant Living.'”
Marie and I heard Dr. Jones minister in Chicago in the 50's. He was in his 70's, but very alert and challenging. Then Rochunga Pudaite of “Bibles for the World” strongly recommended that I read ESJ's “The Song of Ascents.” In his autobiography, Jones lists about 25 of the major steps upward in his life. But the one that especially attracted me like a magnet was his chapter on the “Christian Ashram.” Here he develops in a most practical manner the “Team Spirit” illustrated by Benjamin. It is an exposition as it were of Psalm 133. Many of the best of Dr. Jones 29 books are out of print - but visit the following Website to see what still can be easily obtained. http://www.christianashram.org/resources.htm
Perhaps the Email address could prove helpful: firstname.lastname@example.org
I have found the writings of this author and the example of his life to illustrate this revival principle of “Team Spirit.” In his various books he often has “ladders” that help and encourage one to step out and walk into the freeing atmosphere of “unity.” Look at the unity of our Triune God. This is not only an encouragement for us as individuals to see God “unite” our hearts to fear His Name (Psalm 86:11) - but it shows the type of unity we can live in a corporate sense. Madame Guyon, Fenelon and Michael Molinos can also speed us in this direction.
Six. TEAM SPIRIT: PAUL AND HIS APOSTOLIC TEAMS.
Acts 16:6-10. ™ They went to Phrygia, and then on through the region of Galatia. Their plan was to turn west into Asia province, but the Holy Spirit blocked that route. So they went to Mysia and tried to go north to Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus wouldn't let them go there either. Proceeding on through Mysia, they went down to the seaport Troas. That night Paul had a dream: A Macedonian stood on the far shore and called across the sea, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” The dream gave Paul his map. We went to work at once getting things ready to cross over to Macedonia. All the pieces had come together. We knew now for sure that God had called us to preach the good news to the Europeans.
Notice: Though the apostle Paul received the initial vision in Troas, it was his whole team that had the witness that God wanted THEM in Macedonia. This is exactly parallel to the way George Hawtin walked with his apostolic team in N. Battleford. I did not see him walk unilaterally once - but submitted his leadings and feelings to the whole team for a united consensus. If it did not come quickly and easily - he then asked us to fast with him until we had united clarity on the mind and will of God. Do you think he might have gleaned this method of leading from the apostle Paul?
Paul left Thessalonica by himself, leaving Timothy there to finish up the work they had started. But when he was in Athens he fretted until Timothy and perhaps others caught up with him. There was little fruit from Paul's sole ministry in Athens; but when the team went to Corinth and was joined by Aquila and Priscilla, then an amazing work took place. Yes - initial leadings usually came through the leader - but stepping out in obedience in confirmation and timing, waited upon the team moving as one.
To read the book of Acts carefully in the light of Team-spirit, is to see the dependency Paul had upon his team, along with the prayers of all saints of city churches they had founded. This was no one-man show. This was not a unilateral calling of the shots. It was not a dictatorship. It was like God's Theocratic Kingdom. It reminds one of David, who did not move apart from his counselors and the High Priest with Urim and Thummim. He was in this as in many other ways, a man after God's own heart. Paul in the spiritual Kingdom of God, walked in a parallel way to David in God's Kingdom over first Judah, and then over all of Israel. He was in this as in many other ways, a man after God's own heart.
As soon as Barnabas separated from Paul over Mark, immediately Paul chose the prophet Silas as part of his apostolic team, and soon added Timothy and many other to be with him. Some have counted as many as 50 names associated with Paul in his apostolic teams at different times. Paul resisted traveling alone and moving unilaterally. He was a TEAM man, a TRUE Benjamite, and one followed by Dr. E. Stanley Jones.
Seven. TEAM SPIRIT: THE WOLF AND THE AMETHYST.
Exodus 28:15-17a; 19; 21. ™ Then GOD said, Now make a Breastpiece of Judgment, using skilled craftsmen, the same as with the Ephod. Use gold; blue, purple, and scarlet material; and fine twisted linen: Make it nine inches square and folded double. Make four rows of precious gemstones on it. … Third row: jacinth, agate, amethyst. … “Set them in gold filigree. The twelve stones correspond to the names of the Israelites, with twelve names engraved, one on each, as on a seal for the twelve tribes.
God links Benjamin with two graphic symbols. The first is the Wolf. “Benjamin is a ravening wolf,” prophesied Jacob over his youngest son (Genesis 49:27). Notice too, that it is the custom of wolves to hunt in packs. This further confirms the “Team-spirit” concept concerning Benjamin. Wolves wisely know how to track their prey, maneuver it into an isolated situation, tire it out - and then corporately move in for the kill.
We should master this principle in the spiritual realm. We should master our knowledge of principalities and powers as our prey. We should isolate the one over a city or an area. Then corporately in the concept of “Prayer Multiplication” and “Spiritual Star Wars,” we can move in for the final and complete victory. What follows is the release of prisoners, who can now be led into the Kingdom of God and His Peace.
What of the symbol of the amethyst? Some have pointed out that its purple color is the sign of drunkenness. Paul as a true Benjamite was exceeding mad against Christians in his unregenerate state. He persecuted them even to foreign cities, forcing them to blaspheme, casting them into prison, and jointly working in “team-spirit” to make Stephen the first church martyr.
But later as the apostle Paul, he wrote these significant words, “Be NOT drunk with wine unto madness and excess - but be FILLED with the Spirit, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:18). What a contrast! What a reversal of this symbol! What wine can be in a bad sense in the natural - but the Holy Spirit in a good sense in the spiritual realm, kindles our hearts to “Bridal-love” for the Lord. This eventuates in countless tens of thousands coming into the Kingdom of God.
Team spirit? Benjamin? Multiplied effectiveness? Safety and plans that always lead to victory? Yes! Yes! Yes, and more! This we saw in embryonic state in 1948 under the leadership of God through G.R. Hawtin. But this brought to maturity in our day will see successful consummation of all that prophets and apostles have foretold. Yes! Read the Bible in this light - and hope, encouragement and renewed faith will flow in, individually and corporately. We can be and WILL be God's corporate, organic instrument to achieve ALL of His purposes on this earth.