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THE TRUE POWER OF A NATION
‘Then said the Lord unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before Me, yet My mind could not be toward this people.’
In saying these words, God recognised that these two men had special power with Him. Nearly a thousand years after, Jehovah remembered the power that these men had had with Him. Recognising this fact,
I. Would it not be worth while to see what was that style of prayer that God Himself acknowledged as having power with Himself?—Moses had two special seasons of intercession, prayer to God, and so had Samuel, but it will not be necessary to dwell upon both. The first, in the case of Moses, was found in the thirty-second chapter of Exodus. The people of Israel were dancing round the golden calf, and God, looking down, said, ‘I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: now therefore let Me alone.’
Thus the ‘Let Me alone,’ in answer to Moses’ pleading, showed that God was conscious of this power that he possessed. I wonder whether Jehovah has ever had any reason to say to any of us, ‘Let Me alone’? With Moses, also, God linked Samuel, and the record to which doubtless this referred was 1 Samuel 7:5. The ark had been for twenty years at Kirjath-jearim, and the Israelites had for many years been under the heel of the Philistines; and the Spirit of the Lord came upon Samuel, and he was bold enough to send out this notice to the people: ‘Gather to Mizpah, and I will pray for you.’ After their twenty years of backsliding, Israel accepted the invitation, and the Philistines, on hearing of this, gathered together a vast army. But as Samuel prayed, the Lord thundered, and the Philistine host were scattered. Besides these two men there was, too, another known to them to have had special power with God—Elijah; for, when he prayed, after three years of famine and drought, the heavens gave rain and the earth brought forth her fruit. We thus see three men acknowledged by God to have special power in prayer, and do we not believe that now God raises up such men, both in nations and in the churches? I am persuaded that such men as these are worth more to a nation than all her armies and all her navies. Seeing that there had been an awful revival of the military spirit, cursing the nation, it is good for us to bear this in mind, that a few men like Moses and Samuel and Elijah were worth more than any army or navy, for
II. When men that had power with God laid hold of Him, a nation might be saved.—The real power in our churches is to be found in those who have this peculiar power. There are some that have money power, others that have social power, both of which are not to be despised; but in all churches there are some that have got this strange and wonderful power that God noticed.
Look at the value of these men! I do not think they are so highly valued as they deserve to be—not by men; they are by God. Moses was not very much valued by Israel, and Samuel was strangely neglected for twenty years. Think for a moment what prayer had accomplished in time past; and, indeed, in days of scepticism it was best to recall this. What had prayer done? Well, I know prayer has piled up the billows like grass, has sealed lions’ mouths before now, has marshalled all the stars of the heavens against the enemies of God’s people, and, what I think more wonderful, has brought back spirits from the Eternal World. Prayer has conquered demons, has commanded whole legions of angels, and brought them down from above to encamp round about the saints. Oh, the wealth that lay in all our churches, then, in the men concerning whom God said, ‘Though Moses and Samuel stood before Me.’
III. Note the secret of this power.—I hope you will not imagine for a moment that I am speaking upon the secret of the power because personally I know it. All present knew sufficiently of it to long to know more. Without a doubt, the secret of the power of these three men was (1) their sympathy with God. These men were in awful sympathy with God; and if we ourselves are going to have power with God, we too must be in sympathy with Him. (2) Then with this full sympathy with God, there was a marvellous love for men. Do you know much of that? Do you know what it was to have that intense passion for the ingathering of souls?
‘The life of constant opposition to his people was full of labour and sorrow to the gentle disposition of the prophet. He had not acted in any such way as to merit the hatred with which he was beset, and yet the detestation with which men hate the usurer was meted out to him in full measure. But for those who do God’s work, there is a Divine safeguard and reward. God will deliver them for good, and cause their enemies to come as suppliants to them, acknowledging that God is with them ( 1 Samuel 7:11). Yes, it were easier to break the northern iron or steel, the toughest and strongest of metals, than to overcome the barriers with which God surrounds those who believe in Him.’
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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Jeremiah 15". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 12 / Ordinary 17