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A New Year's Study
Another New Year has come to us freighted with every possibility of life and service. At such a time as this it is natural for us to look forward to coming things. Often we are interested supremely in the things which are wholly personal and self-centered. This year we believe that the Christian's eye is looking ahead to the things which are about to come to pass upon the earth.
In the new year we have not far to look, as the Coming of the Lord, and all of its glorious blessings of Israel, to the nations, to the physical earth, and to ourselves, is at hand, even at the doors.
The marvel to us is that so many, even among saints, often seem blinded to the things which are about to happen; while so many who lived hundreds and thousands of years before Christ, were eagerly looking forward with the eye of faith to the same things. They looked in faith nothing doubting. They knew that they, themselves, would never inherit the promises; and yet they saw them afar off and were persuaded of them, and embraced them. They died in faith not having received the promise, because God had provided some better thing for us, that they, apart from us, would not be perfected.
We ask you to consider briefly, with us, the far-flung vision of some of God's galaxy of heroes outlined before us in Hebrews eleven.
1. The vision of Abel.
The faith of Abel saw the Blood,
Far down the years, a crimson flood;
And Abel's sacrifice replete,
Came up to God, an incense sweet.
Abel offered up his sacrifice in faith. Faith saw Christ crucified, a ransom for sinners. Had Abel not seen the Cross, and believed; his sacrifice had not brought pleasure to God. God, of old, was not interested in the blood of bulls and of goats, excepting as in those sacrifices faith linked the sacrifices to the Cross of Christ. God is not now interested in baptism, and the Lord's supper, unless those ordinances are backed with an eye of faith that links them on to Christ Jesus.
2. The vision of Enoch.
The faith of Enoch saw the hour
When Christ would come in mighty power,
Translating all who know the Lord,
Who walk with Him, obey His Word.
Thus, God translated Enoch, too,
A type, a picture, ever true
Of those caught up to Christ on high,
Of living saints, who never die.
Enoch not only walked with God, but Enoch prophesied, saying, "Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints." Sometimes we think that Enoch sounded out so clear and so forceful a note on the Lord's Return, that God translated Enoch, and took him up without dying, as a type or picture of the rapture of saints who are at this moment awaiting their up-calling.
3. The vision of Abraham. We pass over Noah, and Abraham's first act of faith, and Sarah's faith, to the second statement concerning Abraham.
The faith of Abraham did see
His son raised up, from death set free.
This man of faith looked down the years
And saw death robbed of all its fears;
Saw Christ raised up, believers, too,
All raised, translated, made anew
With bodies changed and glorified
With Christ forever to abide.
We are gladdened by the faith of Abraham. He looked down the years. He saw the things which were afar off. The Scripture plainly says that he received Isaac from the dead, "in a figure." There is no doubt of it. Abraham saw both the resurrection of Christ, and the resurrection of saints at Christ's Coming. Did not Job, a contemporary of Abraham's say, "Though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, * * and not another"? Job knew that he would stand in the last days upon the earth; did not Abraham know as much?
4. The vision of Moses.
The faith of Moses gladly shared
The poverty of saints, nor cared
For Egypt's riches; he debarred
Earth's pleasures for the great reward,
Which he foresaw the Lord would bring
When He came back to earth as King.
There is no doubt of it. Moses forsook Egypt, its riches and pleasures, because he had respect to the recompense of the reward.
Beloved, the saints of old had a far-flung vision; it was the vision of faith. May we not have the same?
I. "BEHOLD, THIS DREAMER COMETH" (Genesis 37:19 )
Joseph, as a youth, had marvelous visions. He dreamed dreams. He saw things in the night. He dreamed that the sons of his father with him, were binding sheafs in the field, and behold their sheafs stood round, and made obeisance to his sheaf. He dreamed yet another dream, and behold the sun and the moon and eleven stars made obeisance to him.
All of this came to pass, when, after many vicissitudes Joseph was at last raised to Pharaoh's right hand, and given sovereignty over all of the land of Egypt. Once more Joseph became a seer of things to come; and to Pharaoh he told of the coming years of plenty followed by the years of famine.
Joseph, however, was more than a dreamer, he was a practical man of affairs. He had visions, yet he was not visionary. He ruled with wisdom and sagacity.
When, at last, Joseph was about to depart this life, he had another great vision of the far distant future of his own people, and he made mention of the departure of the Children of Israel.
Beloved, on this New Year's week do we look down the years and see, in Christ Jesus, visions of coming victory and power? Shall we reign with Him? Shall we awake in His likeness, and be satisfied?
When there is a lack of vision the people perish. Does not each life also fail when there is no grip on the things beyond? Let us enter this new year with eager anticipation of Christ's Return, and our translation to be forever with the Lord.
II. SEEING HIM WHO IS INVISIBLE (Hebrews 11:27 )
He who sees only the things which lie in touch of his hands, is blind and cannot see afar off. Had Moses looked alone at the things which are seen by the natural eyes, he would never have forsaken Egypt; he would never have refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; he would never have counted the reproach of Christ as greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt.
Some one has said, "A bird in the hand, is worth more than two in a bush." If this be the case why traffic in the marts of trade? If this be the case why live, looking for that Blessed Hope of the Lord's Appearing? If this be the case, why leave all to follow Christ?
Did not Paul see the invisible, when he counted all things but dung that he might win Christ? Moses not only saw the invisible One, but he also saw the recompense of the reward which the Invisible One would bring with Him. To this reward Moses had respect.
The message of rewards at the Coming of the Lord is not isolated to the New Testament. In the Prophecy of Isaiah, we read these words, "Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him: behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him."
Why should we not keep the rewards in view? We have a perfect right to press toward the prize of the up-calling of God in Christ Jesus. If we fail so to do, we only show that we are more interested in the things down here than in the things above; we are more concerned with the temporals than with the eternals.
III. "I HAVE SET THE LORD ALWAYS BEFORE ME" (Psalms 16:8 )
David was a man of many vicissitudes. His life seemed filled, first, with perplexities, then with persecutions, then with problems of state. There never was a moment that he was not beset behind and before. David found the source of his troubles and testings more among his own people than he did among the aliens. If ever there was a man who seemed tempted and tried beyond all endurance, it was David. And yet, with one or two exceptions, he never swerved to the right hand nor to the left. His heart was fixed, his purpose was firm. He pressed his way on and up along the path of duty.
When we try to fathom the cause of David's fidelity, we find it in the expression of our text, "I have set the Lord always before me: because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved."
The little lad who was teaching his father to ride a bicycle cried, "Father, don't look at the handle bars, look straight ahead." Had David allowed himself to be engrossed with his troubles, he would have been quickly submerged. When, however, he looked away from his perplexities and fixed his eyes on his Lord, he was carried safely through.
Peter, when he saw the winds and the waves boisterous, began to sink, but Peter with his eyes fixed on his Lord walked safely on the waves of Galilee.
"When thou passest through the waters,
Deep the waves may be and cold,
But Jehovah is our Refuge,
And His promise is our hold;
For the Lord Himself hath said it,
He, the faithful God, and true:
When thou comest to the waters
Thou shalt not go down, but through."
Let us not be worrying about our difficulties, but trusting in our God. Let us not be afraid of the night, but be waiting for the light.
IV. "THE LAND, WHITHER YE GO" (Deuteronomy 11:11-12 )
We are journeying to a City whose Builder and Maker is God. If Abraham had had a desire he might have turned back and have inherited the land. Abraham, however, looked for another Country, and pressed his way that he might possess it.
We are standing, this New Year, on the verge of marvelous possibilities. There is much that we have not yet possessed, much that we have not yet known. Let us not, therefore, be content with the experiences of the years which lie behind, but rather let us press toward the good things of our God which lie before.
We may find, during the New Year, many a testing, many a trial, but this is not all we will find. When thou passest through the valley, there will be One passing along with thee. God's springs are never dry. His fruit trees are never without fruit; His waters are never free from refreshment. There may be hills and valleys, but they will drop with new wine.
This year let us possess God's riches of grace. Let us drink deeply from His wells of joy. Let us enter into the realms of His peace. Let us seek to fathom the heights and depths and the lengths and the breadths of His love.
In all of this, remember that we must press on to possess the land. Let us not be satisfied with God's good things, but let us claim His best. Let us not be willing to hold in our hand a cup of water, when God has for us wells of Living Water, springing up unto everlasting life. Let us not be satisfied to know about Him, but to know Him. God's land is before us, let us go in and possess it.
V. "HE WENT OUT, NOT KNOWING WHITHER HE WENT" (Hebrews 11:8 )
As we stand on the margin of the New Year, let us not think for one moment that it is necessary for us to look down through the days and weeks and months to the next New Year. We must be willing to do as Abraham did, and to step out not knowing whither we go.
"One step I see before me,
It is all I need to know,
For o'er each step of my onward way,
He makes new light to glow."
Have you ever stood down by the seashore ready to cross the briny deep? Then you learned the lesson of walking by faith. The eye can scan but a little of the distant vista. So it is on the sea of life: we may not be able to see afar, and therefore we cannot know the way. There is one thing, however, that we may know we may know our Guide.
On one occasion we were nineteen days sailing on the Atlantic. We trusted ourselves implicitly to our captain, and to our ship. On the morning of the nineteenth day, the captain pointed out the land ahead. We said, "What land, captain?" He replied, "It is the land toward which we have been pressing on." Thus it will be at the end of life's journey. God will bring us safely Home. In view of what we have just said, we must learn to walk by faith and not by sight. We must wait upon God, for He will bring us to our desired haven.
VI. "WHEN THE CLOUD TARRIED * * THEY JOURNEYED NOT" (Numbers 9:19 )
It is just as wrong to go where we are not sent, as to tarry behind when we are told to go. When God called Abraham, he went out, not knowing whither he went. Here, however, is another picture, "When the cloud tarried * * then the Children of Israel journeyed not."
We are not sure which is the easier: to obey God in active service, or to obey Him in tarrying. To prepare for the march, and to move out into some new sphere of service, is filled with more or less of excitement and adventure. To tarry behind and quietly await God's will, is the more arduous task.
To the disciples, the Lord said, "Tarry * * in * * Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high." The Psalmist said, "I waited patiently for the Lord."
O young men and young women, let us beware lest we run ahead of God. We must not be in a hurry to make a move. We must tarry until the cloud goes on before.
It is most dangerous to run ahead of God. To get out of His will for us, is to get out of our best for Him. Many of the difficulties which befall us by the way are due to our own hastiness. We take the bit in our own teeth; we make our own plans, and then we suffer the consequences.
God said, "Oh that [Israel] had hearkened unto Me, * * I * * should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat."
"Wait, patiently wait,
God never is late;
Thy building plans are in thy Father's holding,
And only wait His grand Divine unfolding.
"Trust, hopefully trust,
That God will adjust
Thy tangled life: and from its dark concealings,
Will bring His will, in all its bright revealings."
VII. "WHERE THERE IS NO VISION, THE PEOPLE PERISH" (Proverbs 29:18 )
With the dawning of this New Year, we need more than ever to get a far-flung vision. With the world in such a state of uproar, with dire catastrophes being prophesied on every hand, it is a good thing to get a vision of a brighter horizon.
The night is easier to bear, when the hope of coming day cheers the heart. If we say, "Watchman, what of the night?" then, the inspired writer will admit "the night cometh." However, he will quickly add, "And also the morning."
Habakkuk said in the Spirit: "For the vision is yet for an appointed time; * * though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry." We have also read in Hebrews, "For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry."
Thus, on this new year, let us have the vision of coming things; a vision that will center in that Blessed Hope of Christ's glorious Appearing. If we have the vision of the Lord's Coming, let us not weary in our watchings.
"Impatient heart be still,
What though He tarry long,
What though the triumph song
Is long delayed?
Thou hast His promise sure,
And that is all secure.
Impatient heart be still."
The husbandman has long patience until he receive the early and the latter rain; be ye also patient, establish your hearts, for the Coming of the Lord draweth near. Do not grieve the Lord by doubting His promise. He has heard your cry, "Come, Lord Jesus," and He replies, "Behold, I come quickly"; "Surely I come quickly."
Do not perish for want of a vision. Have faith in God. He will soon bend down the Heavens; He will soon come to call thee to Himself.
THE JUDGE'S VERDICT ALONE TO BE REGARDED
"It is no matter what standers-by say of the runner, so the judge of the race doth approve of his running." "Yet we all make too much of the approval or disapproval of our fellow men, who are, after all, only the spectators, and not the umpires, of the race. What folly this is! What injuries it inflicts! We are elevated by human opinion if it be favorable to us, and this betrays us into the weakness of pride; which weakness soon shows itself in faintheartedness, when that unstable opinion veers round, and blows a cold blast of faultfinding. If we were steadily 'looking unto Jesus,' this would not happen, and our running would be more regular and less disturbed. Be it our endeavor to live above men, in the conscious presence of God. Who and what are men that we should live upon the breath of their nostrils? Their judgment is a small matter; the judgment of God is all in all.
"Lord, Thou hast said, 'Walk before Me, and be thou perfect,' and from this I learn that I cannot hope for perfection unless I set Thee always before me, and rate Thine approval at an infinitely higher price than the judgment of those about me. Enable me to say with Thy servant David, 'I have set the Lord always before me: because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved."
The Place of Faith
Unbelief is black with the frown of God; faith is regnant with the smile of God. Unbelief closes every channel of blessing; faith opens up the channels and starts the flow of blessings.
"All things are possible to him that believeth"; nothing in the realm of the spiritual is possible to unbelief. How great is the depth of the word. "All things!" What riches of grace lie behind the portals of God's great storehouse! All of these are subject to the draft of faith.
All things are possible only to him that believeth. Mere "asking" will not get the answer, we must ask in faith. God would teach us to know of His bounty, and to trust His power to supply. Our Heavenly Father wants us to learn to "faith" Him. He rejoices in our perfect trust.
The story is told of a soldier who had, in despair, made a statement of his debts. The poor fellow wrote at the bottom, "Who can pay all of this?" Alexander entered the tent; he saw the soldier asleep at his table; he saw the tear-stained sheet the large debt, and the question, "Who can pay all of this?" Alexander stooped down and wrote across the page "Alexander."
God can pay all of our accounts. He has written down His promise and signed His Name; we, however, must have faith to present our claims at the bank of Heaven.
God may try out our faith, but He will never disappoint it. God may discipline our faith, test our faith, measure the depths of our faith, but He will never discount our faith. He has said, "According to your faith be it unto you."
God led the Children of Israel in the wilderness to try them and to see whether they would believe Him, and obey Him; however, God never failed them in one of His good promises.
The trial of our faith is of much more worth than that of gold which perisheth. Satan, when he tests, seeks to destroy and to cast down; God, when He tests, seeks to fortify and to build up. Faith must be made strong by patience; it must be fortified against discouragement; it must be mighty in courage before it can see its full fruition, and its final victory.
God would have us not only to believe upon Him, but to keep on believing. He would have us not only to build upon His promises, but to be stayed upon them. God wants us not only to have the faith which will undertake, but the faith which will continue the faith that is not wearied in well-doing.
When we make a petition of God, and the answer to our prayer is delayed, and we become discouraged and give up, God sees that our faith was not perfected, that our trust was not complete. Delays and seeming disappointments should never weaken trust. God's Word stands no matter what may befall.
Faith trusts God in the darkness, as well as in the light. Faith walks by night, the same as it walks by day. Faith against hope, believes in hope. There are no question marks in faith.
I. BELIEVE YE THAT I AM ABLE? (Matthew 9:28 )
Two blind men came to Jesus, crying, "Thou Son of David, have mercy on us." The Lord Jesus quietly asked, "Believe ye that I am able to do this?" The Lord stood outside the circle of their need, ready to enter in through the door of their faith He found the door was open, and so He gave them their sight.
The question which confronts all of us, when we cry under any burden or any need, is the same question "Believe ye that I am able to do this?"
The Church needs a renewed vision of the power of the Omnipotent God. God delights in working where man cannot work; in doing what man cannot do. With God all things are possible. There is nothing too hard for Him. He delights in accomplishing the impossible. God, however, operates through the channel of our faith. We must believe that He is able and believe without wavering.
The three Hebrew Children, facing the burning fiery furnace, said to Nebuchadnezzar, "Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us." Such faith could not be denied, and Nebuchadnezzar saw four men, instead of three, loose and walking in the midst of the fire, having no hurt.
We need to know that God is God, and not man. We need to know that God is a God who is able and willing to work in behalf of those who trust Him.
Faith believes that God is able
Signs and wonders to perform,
Faith attempts an undertaking
Leaning on God's mighty arm;
Faith ne'er wavers, ne'er is fearful
The impossible to try,
Faith obeys and follows fully
When no earthly help is nigh.
II. "IF THOU CANST BELIEVE" (Mark 9:23 )
Man delights in saying unto God, "If Thou canst do this, or do that." God throws back the challenge, "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth."
When God says, "I will"; man should say, "It is done." Feeble-minded men, possessed of little faith, will tremblingly say, "God can"; old faithful, with a trust that never wavers, says, "God does."
Man wants God to do, before he believes in God's power to perform; God wants man to believe, before He does. The Lord said unto Mary and Martha, "Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?"
The table is spread, it is weighted down with every good thing, and God is saying, "If thou wilt eat, thou shalt be fed." God is clothed with all power to meet our every need, whether that need is spiritual or physical: yet, the supply of our needs must come to us through the channel of faith "If thou canst believe."
God has placed in our hands a measuring line that line is our faith. God seems to say, "Place your line down on the 'goods' of My bounty, and I will cut off the cloth where thy line runs out 'According to your faith be it unto you.'"
We have not, because we ask not; we ask not, because we believe not. No power of man, no condition, no circumstance, no obstacle, can keep back the needed "supply," if we will but believe.
III. BELIEVE THAT YE RECEIVE (Mark 11:24 )
This seems to human reasoning to go too far. How can we believe we have, before we receive; how can we see in hand, that which is not in hand?
Faith operates where reason cannot move. Faith does not act on the supposition that what faith claims may be done; it acts on the assurance that what God promises must be done therefore faith counts it as already done.
Faith could say, through Abraham's lips, "I will bring the lad again," although God had said, "Slay the lad." Abraham's faith saw the resurrection of Isaac at the same moment that it saw his death.
Faith does not build upon sense, nor upon human reasoning, nor upon what the eye can see. Faith builds upon "Thus saith the Lord."
Faith gives peace to the soul, rest to the heart, and assurance to the mind. We know that we already have the things which we have asked for when we pray in faith, believing. Anxiety and fear flourish only where doubt holds sway.
When Christ said to the "nobleman," "Go thy way, thy son liveth," the nobleman "believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way."
Believe that ye receive from Him
'Tis always God's own way;
The one who fully trusts in Him,
He cannot say him, "Nay";
But ye who doubt and turn from Him,
And make the flesh your stay,
And ye who do not trust in Him,
He cannot say you, "Yea."
IV. AGAINST HOPE, BELIEVING IN HOPE (Romans 4:18 )
Abraham did not waver although he knew that his body was as good as dead. He believed that what God had promised, He was able to perform. He did not weigh God's possibilities by his own impossibilities. Against hope, faith revived his hope; and he believed in hope. Abraham went out, not knowing whither he went. He did not know the way, but he knew his Guide.
Paul stood up with unwavering faith, when "all hope that [they] should be saved" had passed. For fourteen days and nights the ship had been driven of a great tempest. Yet Paul had assurance from God that he and all aboard the ship would be saved thus, Paul said, "I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me."
George Mueller went to the Captain of a steamer and said, "Captain, I must be in Quebec on Saturday afternoon." The captain said, "That is impossible do you know how dense this fog is?" Mueller replied, "Let us go down to the chart room and pray." The captain said to himself, that man is a fit subject for a lunatic asylum. However he went down. Mueller prayed. When the captain began to pray, Mueller said, "Do not pray. First, you do not believe God will answer; and second, I believe He has, and there is no need for you to pray about it." It is needless to say that God met Mueller's faith.
We need to place our eyes, not on the fog, riot on the seeming impossibility, but on God, who worketh all things after the counsel of His will.
If we walk by sight, we cannot walk by faith. One day, many years ago, we sought guidance in a very trying hour. We knelt down and prayed, "O God, as we sleep, let us hear some voice, or see some vision do something that we may know Thy will." When we woke up, we were disappointed nothing had happened. We walked to our table. There lay a book of Spurgeon's sermons open before our very eyes. Here is what we read: "He who asks God for a voice, or a dream, or a vision, shows he is unwilling to walk by faith."
V. WITHOUT FAITH WE CANNOT PLEASE GOD (Hebrews 11:6 )
The eleventh of Hebrews tells the story of a wonderful star-cluster of saints who believed God. It is a wonderful chapter, filled with great accomplishments. God's worthies all received a good report by faith.
In the message of the victors who, by faith, obtained victories, is this statement: "But without faith it is impossible to please Him." God does not count anything we do, or are, as acceptable in His sight, unless we have faith. "Without faith it is impossible to please Him."
How dark is the story of the defeats of unbelief! When the Children of Israel came to Canaan they wanted to send out the spies. This they did. The result was that ten of the spies discouraged their hearts. They complained to Moses, saying, "We be not able to go up." God was displeased and sent them back into the wilderness. For thirty-eight years they wandered, until all the men of unbelief were dead. We see they could not enter in because of unbelief. Let us fear lest we fall after the same example of unbelief.
Unbelief leaves us stranded by the wayside. Unbelief leaves us smitten by the enemy. Unbelief leaves us un-linked with Heaven's dynamo. If thou canst not believe, God cannot work in thy behalf. If thou canst not believe, thou canst not receive anything from the hand of thy Lord. If thou canst not believe, God can do no mighty works through thee.
Unbelief cannot change the fact of God's grace, nor of His bounty, nor of His power to perform. Unbelief only breaks the link through which God operates; it stops up the channel; it keeps back the blessing. If some do not believe, their unbelief does not make the Word of God of no effect. Unbelief cuts off the supply, but it does not deplete God's bounty.
VI. "ACCOUNTING THAT GOD WAS ABLE" (Hebrews 11:19 )
The Children of Israel limited God. They placed a question mark on God's ability to feed them. They said, "Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?" They doubted God, and turned back from following after Him. For this cause God abhorred Israel.
Abraham believed God. He counted that what God had promised He was able to perform. Upon this basis Abraham received his son, raised to life again. He believed God, and was called a friend of God.
Distrust refuses to follow the Lord fully. It will not let go of human props, and cast itself upon Jehovah. True faith says, "I'll let go, and let God." True faith is the foot that steps forth, while it is yet dark; it is the hand that is extended to God to receive what is not yet in sight; it is the eye that looks for a cloud when there is no rain in sight.
True faith obeys and goes out into the way that is desert, nothing daunting. True faith is anxious about nothing, it casts itself without reserve upon Jehovah; it commits its way to God.
True faith goes out, not knowing whither it goes. God has said, "Go," and that suffices. Abraham did not weigh the difficulties by the way he believed God. Abraham did not consider the toil as too great, the task as too heavy, the testings as too severe he believed God.
Abraham had no road map, no guide that mapped out each turn of the road, each "gas station," each place of supply. He had God, and God only; and he believed, and went out, not knowing whither he went.
"One step I see before me,
It is all I need to know,
For o'er each step of my onward way
He'll make new light to glow."
VII. WE LIVE BY FAITH (Hebrews 10:38 )
We began to live by faith. It was when faith first came into our heart that we believed God and were saved. We believed His grace, we believed in Christ as our Sin-bearer; we believed, and we received eternal life.
If we began to live by faith, shall we continue to live by sight? Shall we ask of a soul, darkened in sin, a faith in the Christ of Calvary; that we, as ripened saints, are unwilling to place in the Christ of the Father's right hand? Shall we forsake the first principles of faith whereupon we found Christ, and go back to the lowlands of unbelief where we lived in the days of sin, before we came to know Him? If we believe in God, let us obey His voice. If we obey His voice, let us trust His Name. If we trust His Name, let us rely on His mercies.
The life of the Christian has no place in which to house doubts. What if it is sometimes dark; faith will find a light in the darkness. What if the sky is sometimes overcast with clouds, and storms beset the way; God will shine His face through the rifts of the clouds, and He will speak to us amid the roar of the storm.
If an army besets thy path, remember that David said, "By [my God] I have run through a troop." If a stone wall obstructs thy way, remember that David said, "And by my God have I leaped over a wall."
Trust in the Lord! He will either take away the difficulty, or He will show you how to pass through it; He will either still the storm, or else He will give you power to walk on the waves.
When the brook dried up, Elijah found that God had some other way. Some one has said that "Cherith was a difficult problem to Elijah, until he got to Zarephath, and then it was all as clear as daylight."
"God lives, shall I despair, as if He were not there?
Is not my life His care? Is not His hand Divine?" Let us walk by faith.
ESTHER GOING IN UNTO THE KING
"Queen Esther would go into the king's presence, even though there might be no golden scepter held forth; so, believer, venture into God's presence when you have no smile and no light from the countenance of your God. Trust in a withdrawing God." "A good child will believe in his father's love even when his father is angry. We believe in the sun when he is under a cloud, and shall we not believe in God when He hideth Himself? When the door of mercy is shut, then is the time for knocking. When the blessing appears to be lost, then is the season for seeking; and when favors seem to be denied, then is the hour for importunate asking. When we have had many denials we should be the more earnest in prayer, that the hindrance may be removed. Esther succeeded in her suit though she went without a call, and much more shall we if we boldly come unto the King of kings, from whom no sincere petitioner ever was dismissed unheard. If we knew the worst time for prayer had come, we ought still to pray. Come, my soul, get thee to thy chamber and seek the King's face, for thou hast great need."
The Life of Faith
1. Faith defined. The eleventh chapter of Hebrews opens with something that is very definite it is a definition of faith. "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
Faith takes hold of a promise from God, and turns it into substance. Faith is the substance of things hoped for; it reaches out into coming things, and creates them into present realities. Faith is the evidence of things not seen. Of course, this evidence of things not seen, becomes seen, after faith grips it.
How wonderful is faith! The Bible says, "Have faith in God." If we were asked to have faith in one another, or in the things of men, we would have just cause for hesitancy; but there is no need for unbelief in God. We can believe Him implicitly and fully. Are we ready to step out in naked faith upon the great promises of God?
2. Faith obtains a good report. This is the statement of Hebrews 11:2 . The chapter we have to study is God's enrollment of those who had a good report; it is God's galaxy of heroes; it is God's star-cluster of the mighty, who gave Him honor in their lives. Every one of them had his name enrolled among those who were accepted by the Almighty because of the faith that moved them.
3. Faith understands what the mind cannot grasp. The third verse says, "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear." Mark you, it says, "Through faith we understand." Here is a mind renewed by the touch of the Spirit of God. We simply take the open statement of the Bible, "In the beginning God created," and we believe that the word "created" means exactly what this Hebrews 11:3 means "So that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear." Faith understands that the worlds were made by God's fiat, His spoken Word. Here is a sure encouragement for faith.
4. Faith delights to walk in the impossible. Faith believes because God says it, and knows that, because He has spoken, it will surely come to pass. We do not need either to understand or to comprehend the great promises underlying all of God's Word. We can believe, and believing be blessed.
I. THE FAITH OF ABEL (Hebrews 11:4 )
Here was the third man. There was Adam, then Adam's eldest son, Cain, and then Abel.
1. The faith of Abel was a faith where death reigned. The Bible tells us that through one man's sin, death entered into the world. It also says that death reigned; and a dead man cannot believe except he be quickened of God. Here was a man born in sin, born outside the Garden of Eden, and yet this man believed in God unto life eternal.
2. The faith of Abel was a faith that offered a sacrifice of blood. Cain brought, as an offering to God, the first fruits of the ground. He knew nothing better or higher than the mere passing of respects with God. Abel brought of the firstlings of his flock. God says that it was faith that caused Abel to offer a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.
Abel came as a suppliant of grace, confessing himself a sinner and seeking redemption by the way of the Cross. Abel's sacrifice of the firstling of his flock intelligently anticipated the death of our Lord Jesus Christ upon the Cross. God was not well pleased with the slaying of bulls, and goats, and calves, and lambs, excepting as in this sacrifice the people looked forward to the great supreme Sacrifice, when Christ would give Himself, the Just for the unjust.
3. The faith of Abel was a faith acceptable to God. The last clause of our verse says that God testified of Abel's gifts, that he was righteous. This testimony was something he obtained from God. The verse concludes by saying, "And by it (that is, by Abel's faith) he being dead yet speaketh." The faith of Abel comes down to us today, and what wonderful things it tells us of trust in the Atonement!
II. THE FAITH OF ENOCH (Hebrews 11:5-6 )
1. The faith of Enoch was manifested in the midst of a world filled with wickedness. Enoch lived in the midst of a world fast hastening to its doom of iniquity.
During Enoch's life, he walked with God for three hundred years. We do not, for one moment, think that it was easier for Enoch, in an age that began with sin in the Garden of Eden, and ended with the Flood and the near destruction of the race, to live a righteous life, and to walk with God, than it is for us in this day of advancement, and knowledge, and of the Holy Ghost.
2. The faith of Enoch was a faith that translated him to God in Heaven. We are told in the Book of Jude that Enoch prophesied (Judges 1:14-15 ).
The word "ungodly" occurs four times; it was descriptive of the age in which Enoch preached. It was in such an age so that, and in such a time as that, that Enoch prophesied of the Coming of the Lord. Surely we, who live today with the Corning of our Lord at our very doors, should have faith to proclaim it. Enoch was suddenly translated, perhaps as an illustration of the translation of those who are in Christ at His Coming.
3. By faith Enoch had a testimony that he pleased God. Do you yet believe there is anything else that will please God like believing Him? Do you think that unbelief pleases Him? And do you think that doubt is crowned with His blessing? If we are going to please God, we must believe Him; believe Him not only in the simple things of life, but in the intricate; believe Him not only in the possible, but in the impossible.
Hebrews 11:6 says, "Without faith it is impossible to please Him."
III. THE FAITH OF NOAH (Hebrews 11:7 )
1. The faith of Noah was a faith manifested in the final climax of man's unbelief. If Enoch lived in the middle period of the time from Adam to the Flood, Noah lived at the time of the Flood. Enoch lived with sin fast encroaching over the world; Noah lived when he and his immediate family, eight in all, were alone righteous before God. We think, sometimes, that our environment is such that we cannot successfully live for the One who died for us; certainly Noah had a far darker environment,
2. The faith of Noah was a faith that believed God concerning the coming of the Flood. Because God warned Noah that He would send a Flood upon all the earth, Noah simply believed that the Flood would come. Has not God warned us that there is an era of unparalleled judgment about to fall upon this earth judgment, not of water, to be sure, but of fire? There will be earthquakes, and thunders, and voices. God Himself will pour out the vials of His wrath. Do we believe it? If we do, why do we not say that we believe it?
3. The faith of Noah prepared an ark to the saving of his house. God warned Noah, and told him to build the ark. Noah set about to build it. It was not the work of a day, of a week, or of a year; but of many, many years that the ark was in building. Noah prepared an ark to the saving of his house amid the taunts and jeers of the populace. Faith never halts because the world mocks; faith builds on, and preaches on, expecting God to do what He has said He would do.
4. The faith of Noah condemned the world, and made him an heir of the righteousness which is by faith, Noah condemned the world, because, by faith, he gave the world an opportunity to enter the ark and be saved. He became an heir to the righteousness which is by faith, because his faith was an all-victorious faith, which God crowned with approval.
IV. THE FAITH OF ABRAHAM (Hebrews 11:8-19 )
We have previously considered the faith of Abraham, so We will pick out only a few points here.
1. Abraham's faith stepped forward, giving substance to things not SEEN. He accepted an inheritance which he should afterward receive. He never did receive it, but he will receive it. To be sure he dwelt in the land of Canaan, but he never inherited the land of Canaan. It was inherited many years later under Joshua; it was inherited by the edge of a sword, by Joshua's conquest of seven strong kings. Abraham had faith to take something that his seed of many generations beyond him, received.
2. Abraham's faith made him a satisfied sojourner in the land of promise. To him it was a strange country? in which he dwelt in tents or tabernacles, bringing up his son Isaac after him. If some one says that Abraham never received what his faith claimed, we answer that he did not personally expect to receive it, save as he received it through his heirs, who, with him, inherited the same promises. He personally, the Bible tells us, "Looked for a City which hath foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God."
Let us join Abraham in his faith, and reckon ourselves strangers and pilgrims, with no certain abiding place. Let us arm ourselves with faith to pierce the distant blue, and We read that God was not ashamed of Abraham. Is He ashamed of us? If faith pleases Him, then our unbelief shames Him, and displeases Him.
V. THE FAITH OF MOSES' PARENTS (Hebrews 11:23 )
1. The faith of Moses' parents faced an edict of destruction. Pharaoh had announced that all the male children should be slain. It was during this period that Moses was born. What did faith do? Did faith admit that Pharaoh had so much authority and power, that God could not cope with it? Not at all. Faith took Moses, put him in an ark of bulrushes, and laid him by the river's brink. Here is a faith that could believe in the darkest hour.
We can almost see the plans of the parents for the protection of Moses.
2. The faith of the parents of Moses took away all fear from them. We read, "And they were not afraid of the king's commandment." Was Daniel afraid? Were the three Hebrew children afraid? You say that it was very wonderful that the parents of Moses did not tremble. All the other boy babies were being killed, but they simply knew that their little baby was safe and secure from all harm. Are we going to sit quietly down and allow the Old Testament saints, men and women alike, to outdo us in the faith? Shall we tremble where they trembled not? Shall we quake where they rejoiced?
3. The faith of the parents of Moses saw that Moses was a proper child. Perhaps you think that means that they thought that he was pretty, or that he was precious. We think that they saw that he was a child of destiny, a child marked of God, and a child chosen among others. As long as God is leading us, and is desirous of some present or future service, the devil himself has no power to touch us until that work is completed.
VI. THE FAITH OF MOSES (Hebrews 11:24-29 )
Now we come to a character that we need to consider. Here is the little baby now grown. The Bible says, "he was come to years." Let us see what his faith did.
1. Moses, by faith, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter. This may not seem to be much at first, but if you want to know what it meant, read the next statement, "Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season." In other words, it meant that Moses turned away from the pleasures of sin and chose, in their place, the pathway of suffering. It meant also that Moses refused the riches of Egypt's treasures, because he looked forward to a day when he would enter in, through the reproach of Christ, to greater riches. Do we have a faith that says "No" to the world, to opportunity, to pleasure, to riches, and to honor, and says "yes" to God?
2. Moses, by faith, forsook, Egypt. He did this without fearing the wrath of the king. His parents were not afraid of the king's commandment; now Moses, their son, was not afraid of the king's wrath. The faith of Moses grips us tremendously. He saw with the eye of faith, and beheld Him who is invisible to the natural eye. This is the reason he endured, and pressed on his way.
3. Moses, by faith, kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood. Moses believed that in every home where there was no blood, the first-born would be stricken and destroyed. Moses believed, moreover, that wherever the blood was sprinkled, nothing could touch the first-born to destroy him. Do we feel just as safe, sheltered in the Blood of Christ? Certainly we should have no fear. If Paul said, "I know whom I have believed," may we not, in faith, say as much? Has not God said that, these words are written unto you that believe, that ye may know that ye have life? Thus it was that Moses, by faith, led the Children of Israel through the Red Sea, as by dry land.
VII. BY FAITH THE WALLS OF JERICHO FELL DOWN (Hebrews 11:30-31 )
1. The faith that faces the impossible. Did you ever hear of any walls falling down by a group of people marching around them again and again? No such thing ever happened, except at Jericho, Other walls have fallen, but they fell under the shock of a terrific attack, under the blows of battering-rams, or of the bursting of shells. The walls of Jericho, however, fell down by none of these. Our verse tells us "they were compassed about seven days." Would you have been willing to join with the Children of Israel in the march?
When the women came to the sepulcher there was a great stone which had been rolled against the opening of the sepulcher where our Lord had lain in death. The women were saying, "Who shall roll us away the stone?"
How oft do we wonder what God will do,
When a stone looms up, and we cannot get through.
Yet when we get there, there is something new,
For our stone is gone, and our sky is blue,
And the Lord is by to lead us through,
And victory crowns our day.
2. The faith that faces the jeers of men. No one, before them, had ever walked around any walls and saw them fall down; yet Israel walked on. They walked on with so much faith and assurance, that God had to tell them not to shout the shout of victory, till the moment arrived for them to shout. Thus, by faith, the walls of Jericho fell down.
Now let us be honest. Have we ever caused any walls to fall down? Does our faith reach, let alone surpass, the faith of those of whom we study today? Let us not talk about what they did by faith, but let us talk about what we have not done.
3. By faith a part of the wall of Jericho did not fall down. Whose faith was it that kept up part of the wall, when all the rest fell? The place where Rahab's house was built stood. Hers did not fall down, and it fell not because she believed God, and, believing, she put out the scarlet cord. When the judgments of God fall upon the wicked, they will not fall upon us, if we are the children of God by faith.
The morning we left Wales for London on our way to Africa, the Lord tested us. We had been given large gifts for our outfit, etc., but the Lord had not allowed us to keep a penny for the train fare to London. We were to leave before the post that morning, the Lord having only given us 10/- the night before, and the fare would be nearly £2. Scores of people were at the Railway Station to see us off, telling us how they were going to pray for us; but the thought came, "If only they would give us 30/- now, it would be better than all the future prayers they promise to make for us!" The Lord held back the deliverance and the time for departure came, so another Golden Rule had to be put into practice: we had to go to our extremity before we could put our claim on God to deliver us.
So we took 10/- worth of fare to a junction where there was an hour to wait for the connection to London. Two compartments were full of Christian friends seeing us off as far as the Junction, singing Revival Choruses, but although we joined with them, we did think that we should be able to sing a little better if we had our tickets! At this Junction, the Lord took the test to a higher point of Faith. The time for the London train drew near and still there was no sign of a deliverance. Then the Holy Spirit asked, "If you had the money with you, what would you do?" The answer was, "Take my place in the queue." "Well, if you preach that 'Faith is Substance,' act on that now." The next thing was that I found myself in the queue, with about ten people in front of me, but I could not help wishing that there were twenty there, so as to give me more time to pray! How I sympathized with Moses, with the Red Sea in front of him, and the Egyptians behind! I had preached on it many a time, and had blamed Moses because he had not been steadier in the test, but I found that all my preaching had been imagination up to that moment, seeing that a man must have the experience of being shut in with God, before he can blame the heroes of Faith (Hebrews 11:1-40 ). When there was only one person before me taking his ticket, a man stepped forward from the crowd, saying that he had no time to wait for the train, shook hands with me, and left 30/- in my hand, and I sang the "Song of Moses!" Before the train actually left the platform, the people who had come to see us off poured money into our hands, and that same evening, Mr. Albert H. Head, who took personal interest in us and gave us hundreds of pounds, gave us a gift of £50. Publisher Unknown.
Abraham The Friend of God
1. Early beginnings. Perhaps, in all history there is none who has ever attained unto the honor and fame of Abraham. Abraham lived half way from Adam to Christ. He lived five hundred years after the flood.
When the ark rested on Mount Ararat, the peoples of the earth began to multiply with great rapidity. As families grew under the headship of Noah's four sons, they scattered into various parts of the country. The whole world lay before them and they took their choices in habitation. Abraham's father, Tera, dwelt in Mesopotamia.
The whole land of Mesopotamia was given over to idolatry. It was mid such environment that Abraham was born. It was there that he lived, and it was there that the glory of the Lord appeared unto him.
When God recounted the beginnings of His people Israel, He said, "Thy birth and thy nativity is of the land of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite, thy mother an Hittite." It was under this similitude, of an infant born of such parentage and cast out to the loathing of its person, with no eye to pity, and with none to have compassion, that God spoke of the natural state of Jerusalem.
2. Abraham's call. Whether there was something in Abraham that caused God to choose him, or whether it was merely an act of God's omnipotent elective choice, we may not know. We believe that it was both. God chose Abraham because Abraham, living in a world of sin and corruption, had kept himself clean and pure. God chose Abraham because He saw in Abraham one of undaunted faith, who would be known as the friend of God, obedient to every call of God.
There is a little verse in Deuteronomy which speaks of Israel's beginning. It says, "the Lord did not set His love upon you * * because ye were more in number than any other people; for ye were the fewest of all people: but because the Lord loved you."
3. Abraham's vision. It was in Mesopotamia that the glory of God appeared unto Abraham. We may not know just how God appeared unto this stalwart youth, but we know that He did appear as the Lord of Glory. We know that that vision of God which Abraham had before ever he left home was a vision which caused him to know Him whom he believed. As the years came and went, God often appeared unto Abraham, and spoke unto him as a man speaketh face to face.
I. A CALL TO SEPARATION (Genesis 12:1-2 )
1. Get thee out. The words still ring in our minds "Get thee out." Were those words given to Abraham alone? Has not God said unto us, "Come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord?"
The call of the whole Bible is a call to separation. Far back in the beginning God separated the light from the darkness. That is the message of Genesis 1:3 , Genesis 1:4 . What is the message of 2 Corinthians 6:14 ? It is similar "What communion hath light with darkness?"
Here is the will of God for each of us "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness."
2. Get thee in. Not only was Abraham to come out from his father's house and from his own country, but he was to go unto a land that God would show him.
Here is another unvarying truth. When God leads us out of one thing, He will lead us in to something better. We are not asked to give up something for nothing, but we give up one inheritance, that we may receive a better and more enduring inheritance.
Let no one imagine that Abraham's going out did not mean a real sacrifice. There was much of vital cost in Abraham's leaving Mesopotamia. He was knit to his family and his friends as we are knit. He loved his native land as we love ours; yet, he was willing to leave all for the Lord.
Christ has said, "If any man love father or mother more than Me, he is not worthy of Me." We must forsake all to go with Him.
II. ABRAHAM OBEYED, AND WENT OUT (Hebrews 11:8 )
1. The departure. Can you see Abraham making ready to leave? The friends gather round and ask, "Whither are you going?" Abraham can only say, "We are going, we know not whither." Perhaps they derided the group so eager to start upon an unknown journey. Abraham could well have replied, "We know not the way, but we know our Guide."
2. The departure was under promise of blessing. God said to Abraham, "Get thee out * * and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing." In all of this Abraham believed God, and doubted not.
Even now there comes a call to many a youth to leave all and follow Christ. This call is given under a promise "If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him." God will bless all those who walk with Him in the obedience of faith.
3. The departure was an act of undaunted faith. God gave promise of blessing, but God did not give Abraham photographs of the land of promise. Nor did Abraham insist on sending "spies ahead to spy out the land." He took God at His Word, he stepped out on the promise, and started, not knowing whither he went.
There would, of necessity, be obstacles by the way. There would be difficulties to overcome, disappointments to face, dangers to surmount, distances to cover, delays to encounter; yet, through it all, and over it all, Abraham went. "They went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came." Such were the triumphs of faith. Faith inherited the promises.
III. ABRAHAM EN ROUTE (Genesis 12:4 )
There are five short, terse statements in chapter twelve, which we may do well to consider.
1. In Genesis 12:4 : "And Abram departed." The underlying thought here is summed up in one word "tent-dwelling." In Hebrews eleven we read: "Dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise."
From the day that Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees he reckoned himself a stranger and a pilgrim. He journeyed looking for a city whose Builder and Maker is God. Beloved, we need to take up this same "pilgrim" attitude.
2. In Genesis 12:5 : "And they went forth." The first, "And they departed," carries with it the backward look, the farewell, the leaving all. The second suggests the forward look the country toward which they journey, the goal, the far-flung vision of faith. "They went forth" also suggests faith in operation. They believed and they went out in quest of the goal of their faith.
3. In Genesis 12:6 : "And Abram passed through." This verse suggests the dangers by the way. The countries they traversed, the people they met. This verse also suggests that they never were deterred from their great objective. They may have halted here, and stayed there, but they always took up their journey again.
We may pause for a while here on this earth strand, but we have no continuing city our Home is over there.
4. In Genesis 12:8 : "And he removed from thence." No place in which Abraham tented could hold him long. He could not stop his journeying until he had reached the end of his way.
Some there are who do begin well; for a season they follow on to know the Lord, but soon they falter by the wayside. They become entangled with the affairs of this world. They become settlers, and lose their stranger and pilgrim calling.
5. In Genesis 12:9 : "And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south." Beloved, are we tent-dwellers, or are we house-builders? Are we strangers, or are we citizens? Are we journeying toward a city, or are we content to abide down here?
IV. THE SEPARATION OF TWO LIVES (Genesis 13:9 )
1. The cause of the separation. It is not easy to judge Lot. Why did he journey with Abraham? They were related by ties of blood, this we know. However, not all of Abraham's kin left Haran with him. Lot's father had died, and he, doubtless, had received a goodly inheritance from him. Why then did he cast his lot with his uncle? Did the thought of new scenes and new opportunities appeal to him? Was he swayed by a devout love for his uncle? Did he catch the fire of Abraham's faith, and delight in Abraham's God?
We may not know all of these things; we do know, however, that Lot was a righteous man, and that he loved right things. However, the time came when the two men grew to such proportions in flocks, and herds, that the land was too narrow to hold them both. Thus Abraham suggested that they separate.
2. Abraham's noble spirit of generosity. Abraham said to Lot, the land is before you, take your choice. Lot did not go to the Lord for guidance. He simply saw that the land that lay toward Sodom was well watered everywhere. He only saw a good pasture for his cattle, and the twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah as strategic centers, where he could sell his cattle.
Thus, Lot chose him that course, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. Times of vital decisions come now and then in most lives. Times of decisions which will work for weal or woe in a large way. From a spiritual standpoint Lot's choice was most disastrous.
3. God's pledge to Abraham. After Lot was gone, God said to Abraham, "Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever." Abraham looked to God and God led him into Mamre the place of fatness.
V. THE BATTLE OF THE KINGS (Genesis 14:8 )
1. Four kings fought against five. The result of the battle was that the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah, with their confederate kings, were taken captive and "they took all the goods of Sodom and. Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way. And they took Lot, Abraham's brother's son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed." This was God's first great warning to Lot. He was carried away, and all that he had was led into captivity.
2. Abraham to the rescue. When Abraham heard that his nephew was taken captive he armed his trained servants and pursued after the enemy. He overtook them, scattered them, and brought back all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and brought also Lot and his goods.
The king of Sodom went out to meet Abraham after the slaughter, and he offered unto him all the goods which he had taken. There is no doubt but that Abraham had already considered this, for he had a perfect right to retain all that he had captured. However, Abraham said to the king of Sodom, "I have lift up mine hand unto the Lord, the Most High God, the Possessor of Heaven and earth, that I will not take from a thread even to a shoe latchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich." Here was a noble resolve indeed on the part of Abraham.
3. Abraham meeting Melchisedec. As Abraham returned from the battle, he met Melchisedec, the priest of the Most High God. To this man, who was also king of Salem, Abraham gave a tithe of all that he possessed.
Melchisedec was made after the pattern of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was both King and Priest. First of all He was King of Righteousness, and after that He was King of Peace.
When Abraham gave Melchisedec tithes, he set a pace for Christians of today. Would that all of us might bring in our tithes that God's storehouse might be full!
VI. ABRAHAM AND LOT CONTRASTED (Genesis 19:29 )
It is most striking to compare Abraham in Genesis eighteen and Lot in Genesis nineteen.
1. Abraham dwelt in the plains of Mamre.
o Lot dwelt in the city of Sodom.
2. Abraham sat in the tent door.
o Lot sat in the gate of the city.
3. Abraham was visited by Heavenly Guests in the heat of the day.
o Lot was visited at eventide .
4. Three men came unto Abraham.
o Two men came unto Lot.
5. When Abraham urged his Guests to wash their feet and rest, they said, "So do."
o When Lot wanted to welcome his guests, they said, "Nay; but we will abide in the street all night."
6. Abraham ran to meet them, and hastened to welcome them.
o Lot rose up to meet them, and pressed upon them to turn in.
7. God said of Abraham, "He will command his children and his household after him."
o Lot seemed as one who mocked to his sons-in-law.
VII. THE SON OF PROMISE (Genesis 12:7 )
God gave Abraham definite promise that unto his seed, that is his son, would He give the land. The Holy Spirit in Galatians, commenting on God's promise said, "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ." As the years came and went Abraham resorted to various schemes to help God out on His promise.
1. Abraham said: "What wilt Thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?" Then God said, "This shall not be thine heir," but thine own son shall be thine heir.
2. Abraham, urged by Sarah his wife, took Hagar to wife, and Ishmael was born unto him. Then Abraham said to the Lord, "O that Ishmael might live before Thee!" God immediately said, "No, not Ishmael, but Isaac."
Then God spake to Abraham and said, Sarah shall have a son. It was then that Abraham's supreme faith shone forth. He, in hope, believed against hope. It was for this cause that Abraham was called the friend of God. He believed God; he trusted implicitly in God; he knew that what God had promised He was able to perform.
The years went by until Abraham had reached his hundredth year, and Sarah was almost as old. Then Isaac was born.
PLEADING THE HANDWRITING
"'We have a strong tie upon God, because He giveth us the promise, which is our ground of hope. Surely we may put His bonds in suit, and say, "Thy handwriting is placed before Thee, O Lord." We say among men we have it in black and white, and there is no getting over it: a man's handwriting binds him. Now, we may be sure that the Lord will never deny His own writing, nor run back from a bond given under His own hand and seal. Every promise of Scripture is a writing of God, which may be pleaded before Him with this reasonable request, 'Do as Thou hast said.' The Creator will not cheat His creature who depends upon His truth; and, far more, the Heavenly Father will not break His Word to His own child. 'Remember the Word unto Thy servant, on which Thou hast caused me to hope,' is most prevalent pleading. It is a double argument: it is Thy Word, wilt Thou not keep it? Why hast Thou spoken it if Thou wilt not make it good? Thou hast caused me to hope in it, wilt Thou disappoint the hope which Thou hast Thyself begotten in me?
"How sure are Thy promises, O my God! Forgive me that I ever doubt them, and give me more faith, that I may treat them as the blessings which they guarantee, even as men pass checks and notes from hand to hand as if they were the gold they stand for."
Moses Faithful in All His House
There are seven things which Moses did, as outlined in Hebrews 11:24-28 , which we want to notice.
1. Moses refused. The first great step in Moses' maturity, as he turned his back upon Egypt, was his power to say, No. He refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter. It is this spirit of positive rejection of sin and of Satan which must precede every forward step.
2. Moses chose. Moses' choice was to suffer affliction with the people of God, rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. There are some who would assert that Moses' choice was a very foolish one, but today as we think of Moses with the Lord, we cannot but feel that he chose right.
3. Moses esteemed. Moses' reason for esteeming the reproach of Christ as greater riches than the treasures of Egypt was that he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. Moses believed that the Lord would come and bring His rewards with Him. In the light of time it may seem to some better to serve for the things which are seen, even for worldly honor and glory. In the light of eternity, Moses' choice stands forth as the wise one.
4. Moses forsook Egypt. Moses did not only decide in his mind, but he put his decisions into action. He left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king.
5. Moses endured. Moses did not only take a stand, but he stood. He did not only start, but he continued. If ever a man had enough to crush his faith, and hinder his onward march with God, Moses had. Yet, through it all, he pressed his way.
6. Moses saw Christ. Here is the key to it all. The One who was invisible to the natural eye, was beheld with the eye of faith. At the burning bush Moses met the Lord. From that day on he never lived without having Christ steadfastly before him.
7. Moses kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood. He knew that his deliverance, and that of his people Israel, was by the way of the Cross.
We who live centuries after Moses should never forget the Cross, which has also been our deliverance.
I. THE PROTECTED BABE (Hebrews 11:23 )
1. Moses was a babe born at a time of stress and strife. It was into a world rent and torn with sin and strife that Moses came. Egypt stands for the world and all of its tyranny against the Son of God. In Moses' day, Egypt was fighting against the Lord with a desperate struggle. A Pharaoh had arisen that knew not Joseph. The Children of Israel had grown into a mighty people. For four hundred years they had dwelt in Egypt, and now their numbers and increasing power made the king of Egypt fear for his kingdom. The result was that all the male children, born to the Israelites, were ordered to be slain; while harsh taskmasters, with whip and cursings, pressed the men of Israel into slavish fear.
2. Moses was a babe shielded from the wrath of the king. His parents had successfully hidden their infant child for three months, then the child had been put into a small ark and placed in the brink of the river where the princess came to bathe. There the king's daughter heard the cry of the baby boy, she sent for him to be brought to her. She took him into her arms, and he became her boy. Miriam, Moses' sister, suggested that she find a nurse for the babe; and Moses' mother became his nurse.
Thus, the king himself became involved in raising up, and training the babe whom he, himself, had ordered to be slain. Thus, too, the king reared the youth in all the wisdom of the Egyptians the youth that was destined to be God's deliverer of His people, from the tyranny of the king.
3. Moses a babe of Divine destiny. Jochebed had sent her daughter to watch the babe, and to see what would become of him, while she tarried at home, borne down by a mother's fear, and praying to the God of Israel to protect her child.
This God did, for Moses was a vessel chosen of God to deliver His people Israel. Paul was chosen of God from his mother's womb; so also was Moses.
II. MOSES TAUGHT AND TRAINED IN EGYPT (Acts 7:22-23 )
Moses was taught in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in word and deed.
1. Early years of training. We would like to slip in behind the scenes and read the inner thoughts of Moses in those days of preparation. Moses had been taught by Pharaoh's greatest teachers. Another, however, had had a part in his training. His nurse-mother had done her part. She had taught the lad in the things of Jehovah. He knew he was a Hebrew. He knew he was a favored and protected son of a despised and hated people.
The effect of a mother's faith was not lost upon the young and budding life of the foster son of Pharaoh's daughter. The unfeigned faith that was in him had dwelt first in his mother, Jochebed.
2. Early deeds of valor. Moses early proved his leadership. He became mighty, both in words and deeds. Pharaoh knew his wisdom and his power. During those early years, Moses, no doubt, was sent forth on many a commission from the crown, which called forth his greatest skill in statesmanship, and in soldierhood. He had not been trained in vain.
During all of this time, however, Moses was inwardly waiting the hour when he might become the saviour of his people. Their sorrows were his; their bitter cup was the cup from which he drank. As the Israelites saw Moses moving about under the power and patronage of royalty, they knew nothing of the inner longings of his spirit. No doubt they only cursed him in their hearts, because of his affluence, and seeming freedom from the burdens that bore them to the ground.
III. THE ALIGNMENT (Acts 7:24-25 )
1. Moses thought the hour had struck. With one great strategic step Moses pressed his way from the throne of Egypt, from the riches of Egypt, from its fame, and pleasures, down, down, down to the level of a hated and slave-driven, entangled people.
We cannot but stand and look on with admiration and wonder. Our minds go to another One, who left His Father's throne, and took upon Himself the form of a servant, and became obedient unto death. What a self-humbling was that step of our Lord's? From riches to poverty; from the joys of His Father's face to the sorrows of sin's wreckage down, down, down He came.
2. Moses thought that the people would receive him. Stephen said, "And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the Children of Israel. And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian: for he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would have delivered them: but they understood not." That must have been a sore trial to Moses. An unrequited love; an unwelcomed service that is the hardest of all griefs to bear.
Such was also the lot of our Lord. He came down to His own, but His own received Him not. Christ was rejected by His own town of Nazareth; He was exiled from His own Father's House; He was slain by His own people, whom He had come to save. He died for those who would not have Him to reign over them.
3. Moses in exile. Filled with fear, Moses fled. For forty years he was a stranger in the land of Midian.
At this moment our Lord is still in Heaven, whither He went as an exiled Son of Man. Despised and rejected of men, but received and exalted of the Father.
IV. RUNNING BEFORE YOU ARE SENT (Acts 7:27 )
1. Israel was not yet ripe for Moses' leadership. The people of God had not come yet to their full end. Moses had not yet been fully prepared. He had gone through the school of the Egyptians, but he had not yet graduated from the school of the backside of the desert, where he was destined to come to the end of his own self life, and to the fullness of the knowledge of God.
2. Moses had to learn to wait patiently until God had spoken. We are prone to run ahead of God. We get in a hurry to accomplish our task. We want to reap our harvest before it is ripe. The husbandman hath long patience, until he receives the early and the latter rain. We lack in patience.
3. Moses, perhaps, felt the power of his own strength. He knew how to fight; he was skilled in generalship. He felt that he could accomplish his dreams of deliverance by his own prowess. Moses had not yet learned that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal. We war not after the flesh.
4. Moses, no doubt, allowed his sentiment to run away with him. He saw the pitiable condition of his brethren, and, moved with sympathy, he leaped to their aid, with his eyes closed. All of this was noble, but not wise. Moses was borne on by a chivalry full of pity. However, Moses was as yet wholly unprepared to carry a weak and vacillating people in his heart.
V. SENT FORTH BY THE ALMIGHTY (Exodus 3:8-10 )
1. At the mountain of God in Horeb. As Moses led his flock he came to the mountain of God, at the backside of mount Horeb. It was not in the schools of Egypt, nor in the rush of the pleasures of Pharaoh's worldly court; nor was it on the battlefield as Moses demonstrated his valor with arms, that God spoke to him.
Moses, the son of Pharaoh's daughter, had now become Moses, the keeper of Jethro's sheep. There, in the quiet of the hidden recesses of Mount Horeb, Moses met with God.
He saw a bush burning, but not consumed. He turned aside to see so great a sight. There God met him. Out of the bush, God spoke, saying, "Moses, Moses." And Moses said, "Here am I."
2. God shows Moses His inner heart toward Israel. God said, "I have surely seen the affliction of My people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry * * and I am come down to deliver them."
3. God commandeers Moses. To Moses God said, "I will send thee unto Pharaoh." This was quite a different plan from that which Moses had at first conceived. God would go to the fountain-head of Israel's difficulty. He would not endeavor to better Israel's condition under Pharaoh, but he would demand that Pharaoh should let His people go.
4. Moses' temerity. How different was the Moses of God's choice, than the Moses of forty years before, when, in his own strength, he sought to undertake for Israel. Moses pled God to send by another. He pled his own inability, his utter nothingness. God found Moses in weakness, a fit channel for His strength, and He said, "I have sent thee"; "I will be with thee."
VI. MOSES BEFORE PHARAOH (Exodus 5:1-2 )
1. To be forewarned, is to be forearmed. God plainly told Moses that Pharaoh would not, at the first let the people go. Thus, Moses was prepared for difficulties by the way. However, Moses knew that God was with him, and he started on his way as Israel's deliverer.
2. The wisdom of God's order of approach. The command of God was to go to Pharaoh, but the first step on the way was the gathering together of all Israel, that they might be prepared to receive Moses as their deliverer.
First of all, God sent Aaron to meet Moses, as he came toward Egypt. Secondly, Aaron and Moses called all the elders of Israel together, and Moses showed them all that the Lord had spoken, and all of the signs which the Lord had given. Then, hope was born in the hearts of Israel, and they rejoiced that the time of their defense had come.
3. The hardened heart of Pharaoh. Pharaoh showed no sign of submission. He coveted the work of the men, who made his bricks; and he would not easily allow them to depart from their servitude to the crown. Blatantly Pharaoh said, "Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go?"
4. God's dealing with Pharaoh and with the Egyptians. Plague after plague befell the Egyptians. So much as they had tormented Israel, so much did God mete unto them.
Finally with the tenth plague, the slaughter of the firstborn sons of Egypt, Pharaoh was not only willing for Israel to go, but he hastened their departure. The Egyptians also sent Israel out with a high hand, giving them a great store of jewels of silver, and of gold. God seemed to be forcing the Egyptians to pay to Israel much of the wages which they had kept back by fraud.
Out they went, with the pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night marking their way.
VII. THE EXODUS (Exodus 12:41-42 )
1. Delivered as God had said to Abraham. Abraham had been forewarned of Israel's bondage in Egypt. However, when the time four hundred and thirty years had passed, on the very day that God had promised, Israel went out of Egypt with a high hand. It must have been a marvelous sight. More than one million souls, their bag and baggage: their cattle, flocks and herds; all en route in one night toward the promised land. What a shout of joy must have been lifted, what praise must have filled the air as they went on their way!
2. Pursued by Pharaoh's hosts. Scarce had the Children of Israel been gone than Pharaoh repented himself of his seeming folly in loosing so great an asset to his kingdom. With his armies he followed hard after the slow-moving hordes of Israel.
He came upon them as they were hedged in by the mountains on the one hand, and by the Red Sea on the other. Israel, unarmed, seemed a helpless prey to Pharaoh's wrath. But God said, "Speak unto the Children of Israel, that they go forward." Forward they went, and, as they came to the sea, it parted from before them, and they went through by dry land.
Pharaoh's armies followed after them into the sea. However, with Israel safe on the farther shore, the Lord caused the waters to return, and the Egyptians were overthrown.
3. The song of Moses. Then sang Moses and the Children of Israel a song unto the Lord. Never was such soulful music sent Heavenward. Moses did not receive praise, but strength, and honor, and salvation, was given unto God. They sang "Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power: Thy right hand, O Lord, has dashed in pieces the enemy." Even so shall it be to every soul who puts his trust in God.
"'A true racer does not stand still, or look behind him, to see how much of the way is already past, or to see how much the other runners come short of him, but he sets to his business to get through the remainder of the race.' The claim to perfection, which some have started, raises a serious question as to whether they have ever entered that race, of which the Apostle Paul said, 'Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended; but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.' Surely these men must be of another order to Paul, or must be upon another race course. He saw much which he had not attained, and they see nothing; he was all for pressing on, and they are at the mark already. They speak fluently of their perfection, and he groaned over his imperfection.
"As for us, we have no belief in these pretenders, nor do we wish to think about them. We would have nothing to consider but the goal and the prize. We may not rest in what we are, we must hasten on to what we ought to be. Attainments and successes will breed no pride if we treat them as Paul did, when he regarded them as 'things which are behind,' and therefore forgot them. 'Onward' be our watchword. Satisfaction, glorying, ease, these are not to be mentioned among us. Swift as arrows from the bow we would speed towards the mark of our high calling. The last thing that a man may utter is that fatal 'Rest and be thankful;' for it marks the end of a progress which ought to last through life.
"Lord, if I am ever tempted to be satisfied, scourge me into a holy restlessness, and make the very ground beneath me burning to my feet With my Lord before me, I am a traitor to Him if I chink the pieces of silver in my hand, and accept a present satisfaction in barter for higher things."
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Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Hebrews 11". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Epiphany