Review. Although Benjamin is the Capstone of the Prophetic order of the sons of Israel, yet his older full brother Joseph stands high in his relationship with his father. It was Jacob who gave him the double blessing of Reuben. In Genesis 48:22-26 he gives Joseph the longest prophetic word of all 12 sons, and likens him to a vine whose branch goes over the wall! In Deuteronomy 33:13-17 Moses also exceeds Levi in his word to Joseph. Truly Joseph is a fitting type of our Lord Jesus.
He and Levi have no stone on the Breastplate of Judgment, but in Ephraim (the Ligure) and in Manasseh (the Agate) Joseph has two parts of Jacob instead of one as concerns the other tribes. These two sons combine to make the ox and unicorn of Mark for Joseph. And Levi bears the names of all 12 tribes thru Aaron, and the Lord is His inheritance!
One. Benjamin: Joseph’s Younger Brother. Joseph demanded of his 10 half-brothers – “You will not see my face on your next trip to Egypt except you bring your youngest brother.” Jesus said to Israel – “You will not see Me again until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the Name of Adonai!’”
Joseph’s heart was bound to Benjamin his only full brother through their mother Rachel. And when Benjamin came down to Egypt at the age of 30, he was the father of 10 sons!
As we have already noted, the birth of Benjamin occasioned the death of Rachel at Bethlehem (the birthplace of King David and our Lord Yeshua). Rachel in her dying strength named him Benoni (son of my sorrow). Jacob renamed him (the only son he named) Benjamin, son of my right hand. Jesus is seated as Son of Man at the right hand of the Majesty on High.
His stone is the arresting purple amethyst. It speaks of royalty, but also rage and impatience. This stone with the tribal wolf prove themselves thru the history of the tribe. Look at King Saul and his persecution of David. See Benjamin at Gibeah and the disgraceful incident concerning the Levite’s concubine (Judges 19). Yet see again God’s judgment thru the other 11 tribes upon Benjamin, and their pity and compassion in reviving Benjamin as a tribe. Otherwise we would have had no raging Saul transformed by conversion into the Apostle Paul. What would we have done had this Benjamite not by the Spirit written one half the books of the New Covenant?
In Genesis 49:27 Jacob prophesies a remarkable word over his youngest son.
And in Deuteronomy 33:12 Moses speaks a word of enlightenment. Of the 10 northern tribes who split with Judah over the foolishness of Solomon and Rehoboam, only Benjamin stayed true. And Jerusalem is situated in the tribe of Benjamin, and in a sense rests upon Judah’s shoulders. And out of Benjamin came Jeremiah the prophet and his amazing prophecies.
Two. Benjamin’s Team Spirit and Europe. Unity is a neutral term – it can be used for good or evil. If satan’s house be divided against itself it cannot stand – Jesus said so!
When Israel stood in unity as beheld by Balaam, no weapon formed against her could prosper. Today Israel has returned to her land in unbelief as Scripture foretold – but until she is born again as a nation in a day, she shall continue in her desperate troubles. The evil of the Mafia expressed itself in power when the godfather and his henchmen worked in unity.
Daniel and others have foretold the day when the ten-toed revised Roman Empire would arise in unity. When we look at Europe today and its Common Market and economic unity, we do not wonder in America at the challenge we are receiving thru Airbus, etc. Europe is indeed expressing itself in the world situation with increasing authority and insistence. Israel senses this as strong as that of the United Nations, the Third World Nations, the United States and the Arab Confederation. Before the Lord returns, much more will take place in these areas, especially in Europe.
So from the vantagepoint of the power of unity, Europe illustrates this same principle of Benjamin.
Three. Henry Blackaby and Team Ministry. In 1970 Henry Blackaby, a native of Prince Rupert, British Columbia, accepted the charge of little Faith Baptist Church of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. It had 10 members. The day he arrived, a delegation came down from Prince Albert to inform him – “We believe you are to jointly pastor us too!”
Revival fires were burning in Saskatoon at the time thru the challenge of the Sutero twins. Crowds overflowed church after church until they ended up at big Third Avenue United of that city. Henry was active in all of this.
But the genius of Henry Blackaby was that he had the “team spirit” of Benjamin. He refused to move unilaterally. Not even he and his board moved unilaterally. No, it took the whole congregation, which in five years grew, to some 100 members. As a body and as a team they learned to wait upon God for direction. He became their spiritual Urim and Thummim. If 51% of the congregation felt the Spirit leading in a certain direction – they would say, “Fine – it does appear that this is God’s will, but not ‘His Timing.’” Not until 85-90% of the congregation came to unity as a team in such matters, would they act on guidance. It was as it were – a 51:85 syndrome!
But how God honored the patient teaching of this pastor until the congregation understood and thoroughly committed itself to walk only in this way.
Here is the secret of the above commitment, -- Seven Realities of Walking with God:
“God is always at work around you. He pursues a continuing love relationship with you that is real and personal; then God invites you to become involved with Him in His work. God speaks to us by the Holy Spirit through His Word, through prayer, through circumstances and through the Church. God’s invitation for you to work with Him always leads you to a crisis of belief that requires faith and action. You must make major adjustments in your life to join God in what He is doing. You come to know God by experience as you obey Him and He accomplishes His work through you.”
The above seven realities are featured in “Experiencing God, Knowing and Doing the Will of God,” by Henry Blackaby and Claude V. King. Of all the Manuals that the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention has sponsored, none have sold as many copies as this! My wife Marie and I have taught this course over 12 times, and over 1000 manuals have gone out just because of these classes. We have good courses of our own that we have produced, but none have borne the fruit that compares with “Experiencing God.” When students hit Unit Two of its 12 units, and see the contrast between God-centered and self-centered living, a crisis of belief invariably takes place.
Once Faith Baptist Church of Saskatoon grasped and began walking in these seven realities, within 12 years 38 churches and missions came forth!
In 1982 Henry and his family of five children moved to the Vancouver, B.C. area. Once again God honored the faithfulness of His servant and family.
Then the Home Mission Board of his denomination tapped Henry Blackaby to fill the post of Director of the Office of Prayer and Spiritual Awakening. This post was created two years previously, but up to that time they could not find one to fill it. Today in Evangelical and church circles Henry Blackaby is a household name. Seventeen denominations cooperate under his leadership to blanket the United States with prayer for one last great revival. Five of these denominations have over one million volunteers each for this important responsibility from God’s viewpoint.
“What can God do through a man who is fully yielded to Him?” D. L. Moody heard these words and responded – “I will be that man.” Perhaps over two million souls are in the Kingdom because of God and that response. Because of the obedience and faithfulness of Henry Blackaby to “Team Spirit,” eternity alone will be able to account for what God has accomplished through this life.
This same spirit of Henry Blackaby can be seen in Ray Johnson of Life Messengers and his new LDB (Last Days Bible). “Selective Obedience” is anathema for both these men. Jesus will be Lord of all, or He will not be Lord at all!
Four. The 1948 Visitation and Team Ministry. Paul the Benjamite could not operate apart from Team Ministry. No Lone Ranger he! When in Athens, Paul chafed until Timothy and others caught up to him for the challenge of Corinth!
Always he traveled with a team. When the Spirit of God gave him the Macedonian vision to leave Asia and come over to Europe, it was not a unilateral decision of Paul that led the team there. No, the biographer Luke says, “We assuredly gathered that the Lord was leading us to this new area of ministry.”
When George R. Hawtin invited me to take part in their large conventions of 1948, I did not at the time understand the commitment to “team ministry.” But as I observed George Hawtin lead both in leadership planning and open meetings, I could not help but take note of his care not to move unilaterally. Instead, he always sought the mind of God in decision making through the unity of the leadership team.
Again and again I can still hear him say 52 years ago, “What do you sense the Spirit saying? Do we have unity? If not, can we add fasting to prayer until we have a unified answer?”
I say clearly, “This spirit is a spirit that pleases God.”
I can remember visiting Ann Arbor, Michigan with Jim Durkin in the late 70’s to check out the “Word of God Community” sponsored by Charismatic Roman Catholics. There Steve Clark had found to his chagrin that we take unity for granted! A raise of hands or voice vote is not good enough. It is of paramount importance that we poll each member of the leadership team. All can agree with a raised hand or voice vote. But when individual polling takes place, it is a horse of a different color!Once Steve Clark perceived this, polling only became the order of the day! In 1955 I was pastor of the Kostner Avenue Baptist Church of Chicago. An item of business came up before the 14 member church council. When I asked for a show of hands, one of the 14 was reluctant to stand with us. But he said, “If the rest of you feel all right about it, I’ll go along.”
“No, Ed,” I responded, “We have agreed that if one member has a concern he is to voice it.” So quickly he gave three reasons why he felt this action should not be taken. The rest of us were thunder-struck, and for a moment sat in silence.
Then we prayed again, and this time polled the team. It was unanimous that we should not take this course of action.
One man had the Word of the Lord; thirteen of us did not. But when we heard God’s word we recognized it and immediately came into line. The aftermath abundantly confirmed that Ed Hull had had the true word of the Lord!
Benjamin points to this important concept of team spirit. We are not to move unilaterally. We too can see the fruit of a Henry Blackaby. What George Hawtin demonstrated as a leader concerning this concept will never depart from my mind. I can hear and see him yet, carefully and sincerely polling us that the Word of the Lord might be confirmed in the body. He knew he could miss it; but he had confidence in the Lord speaking through a united and committed leadership team.
Conclusion. This is the capstone of the 12 Embryonic Truths. This is the spirit of Joseph spread throughout a leadership team and body. This ingredient of Benjamin – if missing – can cause the overcoming potential of Israel to fail. Her enemies will overcome her!
United we stand – divided we fall. The Roman Empire through one Caesar proclaimed – “Divide and Conquer!” Keep the captive and conquered nations at each other’s throats, and the Roman Empire can continue!
Europe then, the picture of the ten-toed kingdoms – is apt. As they in the future give themselves to one charismatic leader, the unity of evil will assert itself.
But when God’s Israel, with the spirit of Benjamin unites the nation, then Benjamin becomes the capstone of the 12 Embryonics; -- then we will see the glory of the Lord cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. Ezekiel’s river will have waters to swim in!
And in the church – composed of believing Jews and non-Jews – one new man – when these 12 Embryonics function and flourish; God then can do anything he wants. May that day come swiftly. Amen. Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus.
On Tuesday March 28th God gave me a dream that enabled me to write this last principle of team spirit linked with the tribe of Benjamin. In the dream I was making my way to hear Bob Mumford give a lecture. There was difficulty getting to the auditorium. A young man, short, broad and blue-eyed told me there was only one way to get there – his way.
“No,” I said. “You have a necessary ingredient, but it is only one of twelve. We need as a team to recognize that each of us has one part of a 12-piece jigsaw puzzle. It takes all pieces fitted together to accomplish that goal.” I told him how Judah saved the life of Joseph, when his 8 half-brothers wanted to kill him. Benjamin was grateful for what Judah did for his full brother. Later when the Kingdom of Israel suffered division, Benjamin out of gratefulness and proximity stayed with Judah. It was a death experience. In the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” by Paul Abraham Dukas (1865-1935) based on a ballad by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Walt Disney in Fantasia has Mickey Mouse chop up a disobedient broom. But each splinter resurrected and became an army of brooms, and prevailed. So those of us close to Jesus take on His character, and those who watch us take note that we have been with Him! In the 12-piece jigsaw puzzle – or – walking in the completeness of the 12 Embryonic Revival Principles – we will prevail! Resurrection Life comes following death. The Team Spirit is the Key that will bring it all together.