The Psalter commences by describing two men, two ways, and two destinies, and this will prove to be a major theme in the book. The first man in Psalm 1 is a "blessed" man, v.1, and it would be a profitable undertaking to consult your concordance (a very helpful tool in studying the Bible!), make a list of the references in the book of Psalms to the "blessed" man, and then think about them. For example, "Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile" Ps.32.2; "Blessed is the man that maketh the LORD his trust" Ps.40.4; "Blessed are they that dwell in Thy house" Ps.84.45. The word "blessed" (in all four cases) is actually a plural word, which makes it rather difficult to translate into good English. (It would have to be something like ‘blessednesses’ or ‘happinesses’). However, this isn’t too much of a problem once we grasp the idea of plural words like this in Hebrew. Unlike our mother tongue, the plural in Hebrew is often used to describe something great or complete. So the man in v.1 is completely "blessed". "Blessed" has the idea of ‘happiness’, and Psalm 1 has been called ‘the Psalm of the happy man’. That should interest us for a start! But it is equally ‘the Psalm of the godly man’. He is completely different from "the ungodly" who are mentioned four times in the Psalm, vv.1,4,5,6. So the ‘godly man’ is a ‘happy man’. That reminds us of 1Tim.4.8; "but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come".
Very well, if a ‘godly man’ is a ‘happy man’, we obviously need to find out what makes a ‘godly man’, and Psalm 1 gives us the required help. We need a framework of some sort to help us grasp the message of the Psalm, and the following may help:
• The Counsel Followed by the Godly Man, vv.1,2
• The Character Displayed by the Godly Man, vv.3,4
• The Consequences Enjoyed by the Godly Man, vv.5,6.
THE COUNSEL FOLLOWED BY THE GODLY MAN, vv.1,2
"Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in His law doth he meditate day and night". Note the obvious contrast: "the counsel of the ungodly" versus "the law of the LORD". The life of the godly man is described in two ways:
The Counsel He Does NOT Follow
"That walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful". (Notice the three triplets here). So there’s no ‘blessedness’ or ‘happiness’ in walking "in the counsel of the ungodly [the ‘lawless’]". We need to be very careful in our friendships and associations. The hymn, "Yield not to temptation", contains some sound advice:
Shun evil companions, bad language disdain,
God’s Name hold in reverence, nor take it in vain,
Be thoughtful and earnest, kind-hearted and true,
Look ever to Jesus, He’ll carry you through.
(Horatio R. Palmer)
Solomon put it like this: "My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not" Prov.1.10. Our Bibles enable us to illustrate Ps.1.1. Take, "walketh ... standeth ... sitteth" for a start. We are told that king Ahaziah "walked in the ways of the house of Ahab: for his mother was his counsellor to do wickedly" 2Chron.22.3; "And Judas also, which betrayed Him, stood with them ... and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself" Jn.18.5,18; "Lot sat in the gate of Sodom" Gen.19.1. So:
Where should we walk? "Enoch and Noah walked with God" Gen.5.23.
Where should we stand? "As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand", said Elijah in 1Kgs.17.1.
Where should we sit? "Then went king David in, and sat before the LORD" 2Sam.7.18.
The Counsel That He DOES Follow
"But his delight (so he has no reluctance in reading the Scriptures!) is in the law of the LORD, and in His law doth he meditate day and night". This man can say, "O how I love thy law! it is my meditation all the day" Ps.119.97. He can also say, "I will delight myself in Thy statutes: I will not forget Thy word" Ps.119.16. He was delighted to "think on these things" Phil.4.8. The Psalmist ‘delighted’ in God’s words in three ways:
He ‘delighted’ in the fact that it was "the law of the LORD". It had Divine authority, and he was happy to recognise it in that way. He didn’t groan to himself and say, ‘I suppose that I’d better do my reading!’
He ‘delighted’ in the fact that it was "the law of the L ORD ". The word "law" (torah) means ‘instruction’, not just the ‘Ten Commandments’. It was relevant to his life, and he was happy to recognise that too. The word of God was to be applied.
He ‘delighted’ in the fact that he could think about it "day and night". That’s why we read: "Thou hast proved mine heart; Thou hast visited me in the night; Thou hast tried me, and shalt find nothing" Ps.17.3; and "Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart on your bed, and be still. Selah" Ps.4.4. The evidence of his "delight ... in the law of the LORD" was seen in the fact that his mind constantly reverted to the Word of God. A Christian’s last thoughts at night, and first thoughts in the morning, are a fair guide to their true spiritual health. Try it out sometime! Paul said this to Timothy: "occupy thyself with these things; be wholly in them, that thy progress may be manifest to all" 1Tim.4.15, J.N.D.
THE CHARACTER DISPLAYED BY THE GODLY MAN, vv.3,4
The next two verses in Psalm 1 give us two more contrasting pictures. There’s a contrast between stability and instability; "a tree planted by the rivers of water" and "the chaff which the wind driveth away". However, it’s even more striking than that: it’s really a contrast between life and death. The tree is very much alive, and produces fruit. The chaff is very dead, and produces nothing! V.3 is a sermon in itself. Here are the main points. The godly man - displays five things:
"He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water". You couldn’t say of this man: "tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine" Eph.4.14. He’s got his roots well down! Why not make a little study of Bible ‘roots’? Try, for a start, 2Kgs.19.30, "And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall yet again take root downward, and bear fruit upward"; Eph.3.17, "that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love …"; Col.2.7, "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him: rooted and built up in Him". The word "planted" is not the normal word for ‘to plant’ (see Strong 5193). It evidently has the meaning of ‘transplanted’ (Strong 8362). "A tree transplanted from some dry spot (e.g. a wadi, where the water runs only sporadically in the rainy season) to a location beside an irrigation channel, where water never ceases to flow, would inevitably flourish" (Word Biblical Commentary). See Jer.17.5-8. In other words, this tree isn’t growing in its natural surroundings: it’s in an irrigated garden. God has put us in a new position too.
The words, "a tree planted", indicate that it was part of a design. This reminds us of the sovereignty of God. He ‘plants’ us where there can be growth and fruitfulness. Needless to say, the Lord Jesus was here by design.
He is "planted by the rivers of water". The Lord Jesus spoke about the Holy Spirit as "rivers of living water" Jn.7.37-39. He was always in the good of the Spirit’s ministry.
"Which bringeth forth his fruit in his season". In other words, the fruit is there when you expect it to be there! Not like the fig tree in Matt.21.18,19. Do people see the "fruit of the Spirit" in us? When you plant what is called ‘in the trade’ a ‘maiden’ fruit tree, you have to wait a while before it starts cropping abundantly. Just a little fruit to begin with, but do remember that this only just ‘to begin with’. How long have you been saved? Do you think that you’re as fruitful as you should be? Lk.6.43,44 makes searching reading. The "fruit of the Spirit" is seen perfectly and at all times in the Lord Jesus.
"His leaf also shall not wither". We’re evidently not thinking about a deciduous tree here! Compare Hos.14.8, "I am like a green fir tree"; and Ps.92.13,14, "The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing". The Lord Jesus is "the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever" Heb.13.8.
"Whatsoever he doeth shall prosper", compare Josh.1.8. When the Word of God impacts our speaking, thinking and actions, our "way" will become "prosperous". We are reminded that it was said of the Lord Jesus that "the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand" Isa.53.10.
Now look at the "ungodly": "The ungodly are not so: but are as the chaff which the wind driveth away". Nothing much to say really, is there? They are unusable: not like "fruit in ... season". They are unstable: not like a "tree planted by rivers of waters". They are lifeless: not like the "leaf" which "shall not wither". Compare Isa.64.6, "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we do all fade as a leaf; and our iniquities like the wind have taken us away". In fact, like the chaff, they are only fit for destruction. "He … will gather the wheat into His garner; but the chaff He will burn with fire unquenchable" Lk.3.17.
THE CONSEQUENCES ENJOYED BY THE GODLY MAN, vv.5,6
"Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish".
John the Baptist preached that the Lord Jesus would "throughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the garner; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire" Matt.3.12. The ungodly may seem to triumph now, but everything will be properly adjusted then. The words, "Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment" recall Rev.6.17, "For the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?"; and Mal.3.2, "But who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth?"
Do notice in conclusion that the "blessed" man in v.1 is the "righteous" man in vv.5,6. The two are beautifully linked: "And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever. And My people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places" Isa.32.17,18. Paul agrees completely (of course): see Rom.5.1.
The Psalm ends by contrasting "the way of the righteous", and "the way of the ungodly". "For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous". This certainly means more than ‘knowing about’ the lives of "the righteous". It means that He recognises and acknowledges "the way of the righteous". Compare Job 23.10, "But He knoweth the way that I take"; Nah.1.7, "He knoweth them that trust in Him"; Jn.10.14, "I know My sheep, and am known of Mine"; 2Tim.2.19, "the Lord knoweth them that are His". "The righteous" will be preserved: "the ungodly" will perish. The Psalm begins with the godly not standing with the ungodly now, and ends with the ungodly not standing with the godly then, leading us to say, "Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory, for Thy mercy …" Ps.115.1.
‘God maketh the solitary into families’ Ps.68.6 (J.N.D.)
The author’s exercise in these papers has been to especially encourage young couples rearing a family in these perilous times, before the Lord returns. A main consideration in our last article was the upbringing of Moses. His mother, amid the affliction, bondage, rigour and bitterness of Egypt, raised a son who was later to appear with the Lord on the Holy Mount. How encouraging, but how was it done?
"She hid him" Ex.2.2. Moses was the hidden man. He was hidden in his parents’ house; hidden in the ark by the river; hidden in the desert for forty years; hidden on the mountain for forty days and hidden on the mountain the second time. He was hidden in the cleft of the rock, he was hidden by the hand of God and he was hidden in a grave on Mount Nebo for God buried him. The Bible account of men of God gives us but glimpses into their lives. They were men who knew God in the private place. Moses knew God face to face.
"When she could not longer hide him" Ex.2.3. She parted with him three times. As a babe she tenderly placed him in the ark; when he was weaned she brought him to the palace; and when he was grown "He went out unto his brethren" 2.11 and "he fled … and dwelt in the land of Midian" 2.15. How precious are those early months, which pass so quickly. Those formative years of shelter, protection and privilege of a Christian home should not be hastened to a conclusion for selfish materialistic advancement.
"She took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein" Ex.2.3. Surrounded as today by the cruel, cold, wicked world, Moses’ mother lived carefully, gave him shelter and protection. That tender care was prolonged day by day as long as possible. At last there came the day of parting, the moment of the last hug, the time for the final kiss. With a tear-filled eye and rending heart she would have laid him in the ark and closed the lid. She did her best for him. We have met parents who look back on these early times with regret. Some wonder, ‘were we too hard’? Some say, ‘were we too soft?’. In the prayerful care of a godly home, did we do our best for the child?
"She laid it in the flags by the river brink" Ex.2.3. In reality she laid him in the river. By faith, she laid him in the arms of God. "By faith … they were not afraid of the king’s commandment" Heb.11.23. His parents had faith, they trusted, they prayed and they used wisdom. Soon baby days pass, childhood develops into teenage years. Some parents home school. We all try to influence the choice of playmates, chums and company. However, day school, college, university demands that they must move out into a sphere hostile to whatever we as believers have taught them. Have we by ‘faith’ grasped a Divine design for them? ‘By faith’ Noah saw his three boys preserved. Jochebed, Hannah and Elizabeth reared the boys for God and the house of God.
"His sister stood afar off" Ex.2.4. This was the use of basic wisdom. Miriam was still a child and would raise no suspicion. The summer palace of the Pharaohs was near the estuary of the river where there was less danger and court members would be coming and going. In the balance of faith, prayer and dependence upon God, as parents we are responsible to use common sense and wisdom. Some parents seem to have little discernment about allowing their offspring to run headlong into danger’.
"When she (Pharaoh’s daughter) had opened it, she saw the child, behold, the babe wept" Ex.2.6. The burden of his parents, the wisdom of his mother, the concern of his older sister and the tears of a babe are used by God to influence the affairs of the greatest nation then on earth. Divine purpose and human responsibility always combine in God’s objective of deliverance. When God would raise up a deliverer to defeat Pharaoh and lead His people out of Israel, He sent Moses up to the palace and allowed Pharaoh to feed him.
"And the woman took the child, and nursed it" Ex.2.9. Don’t let grandparents or someone else rear the child. These formative years are short and precious. A mother’s keeping at home is more important than earning money to pay for a bigger home and two cars. "She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of the idleness. Her children rise up, and call her blessed" Prov.31.27,28. "Suffer the little children …’ meaning the infant newly born, Matt.19.14; "He took them up in His arms" Mk.10.16. This is not infant dedication but surrender in prayer. A young man was exercised about the mission field and had the confidence of his brethren. Before commendation would be made public, he asked for time to tell his godly widowed mother. Wondering how she would react to the news that he would be leaving her to go to serve the Lord in the field of His service, at last he told her his news. She said, "The parting has come; you have been given up to the Lord long ago."
"And the child grew … when Moses was grown" Ex.2.10,11. She had him when he was growing. These early years are irretrievable. How quickly the precious opportunity of childhood passes. "Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven" Matt.18.4. The spirit of the child is trustful, the mind is inquisitive, the conscience unseared by sin.
For the wife and mother to be a keeper at home may mean material sacrifices. A childminder will keep them from harm but a nursing mother alone can cherish her children, 1Thess.2.7. Grandparents will love them and spoil them, but a father will comfort and charge them, 1Thess.2.11. Have family vacations, keep the family together, and have a home where they will have no desire in teenage years for their own place.
"She brought him unto Pharaoh’s daughter" Ex.2.10. She had to part with him again. There came that last day in the home. That last prayer together, that last word of advice, those final words of parting in the home, that final cherished embrace as he went out from the home into the beckoning world of Egypt. It was hard to part. It was difficult for him to leave his father and mother. He would miss his sister Miriam. Aaron who was three years older was perhaps already knowing the hard bondage of Pharaoh.
"And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians" Acts 7.22. Moses went to college and university in Egypt. He learned about its art, the excellence of which is preserved until this day. He knew as we do, about its architecture, which was massive. He would have learned astronomy. The pyramids are built in exact orientation to the sun in years of 365 days. We are told about Egypt and its amusements but young Moses did not frequent them. From an early age, he knew that "the pleasures of sin" were "for a season" Heb.11.25. The wisdom of the Egyptian would have opened up to him a course in anatomy, chemistry, medicine and dentistry. Archaeologists today, learn about ancient Egypt from a study of the evidence gained from the teeth of mummies. Egypt in the days of Moses was a mighty advanced civilisation famous for athletics, sports and languages. Moses was bright, intelligent; the Bible says he was "learned". The Divine commentary of Stephen is that Moses was, "mighty in words and deeds" Acts 7.22. The latter word may suggest that Moses even progressed in army life. Thermutis, Pharaoh’s daughter, was married but childless. Moses was her adopted son, the prince in the palace. In keeping with royal grandeur, he could ride in chariots of grandeur and float on the Nile in a golden barge to the music of the world as then known. This placed Moses in an ideal position to help his family. He could send money to his relations, discreet food parcels to the Hebrew slaves and influence the politics of Egypt to relieve their bondage. Such would have been the reasoning of those who are guided by providential guidance instead of the Scriptures.
"And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren" Ex.2.11. Who taught him that? The alien race of oppressed people in savage slavery was his own people! He "looked on their burdens" v.11. The key word in the closing verses of Exodus chapter 12 is the word, "out" since it occurs 7 times. God used the faithful teaching of his mother, when he was a child in the home, in those formative years to teach him that the people of God were his people. When God would raise up a deliverer to lead his people out of Egypt, He began in the home of a man and woman of Levi, not in the palace of Pharaoh.
"Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season" Heb.11.25. Never criticise the people of God in front of your family. Never allow anyone in your home to spread tales and gossip about assembly conditions or the Lord’s people before unsaved members of your family. As a boy, I observed the saints remembering the Lord. I wondered if ever the day would come when I would be saved and numbered among them. Tale bearing before the unsaved about the faults and failures of God’s people has the hiss of the serpent behind it.
Moses in maturity rejected "pleasures" and chose "affliction". When the "pleasures" were at their highest, and the "affliction" of Israel was at its severest, Moses made his choice. Moses gave up the best of the world as but for a season.
What priorities do we set for our families? Achievement of a good career, position in the world, prosperity and material gain – Moses had it all and gave it all up. The man whom God would call to lead the people of God out of Egypt was the man who learned separation for himself in a godly home.
We do not know if Jochebed lived to hear her daughter sing, Ex.15.20, or see her eldest son wear the breastplate, Ex.28.15. She may finally have parted with Moses as he fled to the land of Midian. Those first steps of faith were learned in humble family conditions. The story that begins with the tears of an infant in a God-fearing home, was the place of the earliest developments in the life of the man whom God called, ‘Moses My servant’ Josh.1.2.
Scriptural desires and fervent prayer for blessing in family life reach into the very heart and purpose of God the Father in heaven. God is the Father of the many sons whom He has made joint-heirs with Christ and He has made provision for our spiritual and eternal well-being. "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His spirit in the inner man" Eph.3.14-16.
We have noted that Peter was located at Babylon, 5.13, and that he was absorbing the atmosphere of the prophecy of Daniel; hence his allusions to narratives in the book. Every Jew was well acquainted with the final crisis in the old prophet’s life, his ordeal in the den of lions, chapter 6. The writer to the Hebrews referred to it when he said, "stopped the mouths of lions" 11.33. Thinking of Daniel, they thought of lions, and so in Babylon, when Peter warned of satanic malice he described the devil as being "as a roaring lion" 5.8.
The university youth who was loyal to God, chapter 1, was now an old man. The regime that had carried him into captivity had been replaced by the Medo Persian Empire but the new administration recognised the worth of this veteran Jewish prophet. The light of integrity that had burned so fiercely in the teenager had not dimmed; convictions had not been diluted; holiness had not been tainted. The queen made reference to the "excellent spirit" of his youth, 5.12; that "excellent spirit" still featured in old age, 6.3. We salute his consistency, the steady dependability of a man who like the apostle Paul wanted to "finish [his] course with joy" Acts 20.24. Like him, let us avoid disaster on the last lap.
Daniel’s promotion provoked jealousy in his government colleagues, v.4. "Jealousy is cruel as the grave" S of S.8.6, and "envy is the rottenness of the bones" Prov.14.30, R.V. Smouldering resentment was gnawing away within them and they went to all lengths to damage their rival. The same bitterness consumed Joseph’s brothers and the wicked Haman and in each case there were serious consequences for the conspirators. Be warned by Peter’s appeal, "laying aside all … envies" 1Pet.2.1.
They initiated what today would be called a witch-hunt. Their first course of action was to investigate Daniel’s financial dealings. Had there been any dishonesty or maladministration? Would anyone come out of the woodwork and confess to bribing him? What about his expenses claims and his income tax return? They went through it all with a fine-tooth comb and unearthed nothing; "they could find none occasion nor fault" v.4. This man of God was transparent and honest to the nth degree. He was neither crooked nor careless. In an age when the indiscretions of so many come to light, a reputation like that is to be coveted.
Next, they attempted to discredit his religious life, and to show that his commitment to "the law of his God" was at variance with the demands of the state, v.5. To facilitate this, they wove a huge web of deceit involving lies and flattery, so they said to the king, "All the presidents … have consulted together" v.7. One of the three presidents had never been consulted! It was a lie. "Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour" Eph.4.25. God hates "a lying tongue" and this was premeditated lying of the highest order, Prov.6.17. Do you want to be happy? "Blessed is the man … in whose spirit there is no guile" Ps.32.2.
Their suggestion pandered to the king’s ego, and the flattered monarch had signed up to the proposal within minutes, v.9. Be suspicious of flattery. "A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet" Prov.29.5. Darius was very effectively snared, and he lived to regret being impetuous, v.14. "Be not rash … let not thine heart be hasty" Eccl.5.2. Read the small print before signing up!
Despite the edict, Daniel’s spiritual life never missed a beat; it was business as usual, and he "prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime" v.10. He was not "making a statement" to embarrass the king. He prayed in the crisis because he had always prayed in the normal round of life. By contrast, we tend to allow our spiritual routine to be blown off course by simple things like friends visiting, or being away from home, or the necessity for an early start! Consistency was Daniel’s watchword and his experience underlines some important principles about prayer.
For Daniel, prayer was a first and not a last resort. "When Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he … kneeled upon his knees" v.10. He was like Nehemiah; "When I heard these words, I … prayed before the God of heaven" Neh.1.4. Sadly, we can be like David who on one occasion let time pass before praying. There had been famine for "three years, year after year", before he "inquired of the Lord" 2Sam.21.1. In every circumstance, let us learn to pray before exploring other options.
Next, he went to his house, to his "upper chamber" v.10, J.N.D, what the Lord Jesus would have called, his "closet" Matt.6.6. The upstairs room, as with Peter’s roof-top tryst with God, Acts 10.9, is a picture of the believer in prayer, rising above the commotion of the world and the storms of life to enjoy the solitude of the Divine presence. An anonymous poet captured the thought;
The sorrows of the daily life,
The shadows o’er my path which fall,
Too oft obscure the glory’s light
Until I rise above them all.
The open windows indicate that he was unashamed of his activity, and unafraid of the king’s decree, but again, to spiritualise, it illustrates that there was nothing between him and God. A husband’s prayers are "hindered" if he has little respect for his wife, 1 Pet.3.7. Regarding iniquity in the heart closes God’s ears, Ps.66.18. Asking "amiss" locks the storehouse of blessing, Jms.4.3. Keep the windows open with a clear sky between you and God.
"Toward Jerusalem": he was laying hold on Scripture, and expressing confidence in the God Who answers prayer. You see, Solomon had anticipated Daniel’s circumstances, with God’s people in exile, and then they would pray "toward their land … the city … the house which I have built for Thy Name". His plea was, "Hear Thou their prayer … and forgive" 1Kgs.8.46-53. Daniel had confidence that God would answer Solomon’s prayer. Jonah had the same confidence. He was a resident of the apostate northern kingdom, yet even in the great fish, he was certain that he would "look again toward Thy holy temple" Jonah 2.4. The word "again" indicates that such had been his practice. These men were able to anchor their prayers in the Scriptures and thus lay claim to blessing. Daniel did it again when on the basis of the prophecy of Jeremiah he insisted that the time had come for God to end the captivity, Dan.9.1-19.
Daniel’s posture in prayer is significant; he "kneeled upon his knees" v.10. "Abraham stood yet before the Lord" Gen.18.22. David "sat before the Lord" 1Chron.17.16. The Lord Jesus "fell on His face, and prayed", Matt.26.39. Thus, the kneeling position is not a prerequisite for prayer, but it is indicative of reverence. It featured in Paul’s prayer life as when he "kneeled down" and prayed with the Ephesian elders, Acts 20.36, or when he bowed his knees "unto the Father" Eph.3.14. Even when physical infirmity hampers bowing the knee, let the worshipful spirit of the bowed knee figure in our prayer life.
The "three times a day" v.10, teaches the importance of regular appointments with God at His throne of grace. "Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and He shall hear my voice" Ps.55.17. "Without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day" 2Tim.1.3. Like Daniel, David and Paul teach us by example to avoid a haphazard, irregular approach to prayer. A commitment to set times for prayer is a major element in a well-disciplined spiritual life.
Another lesson from Daniel’s experience is the need to blend prayer with thanksgiving. Although this was a major crisis, he "prayed, and gave thanks before his God" v.10. When praying to ease anxiety, let it be "with thanksgiving" Phil.4.6, for even in the emergencies of life, there can never be any shortage of reasons for gratitude. It ought also to be part of the public assembly prayers, 1Tim.2.1.
A final thought is that of Daniel’s consistency in his commitment to prayer; "as he did aforetime" v.10. Obviously, this had been the bent of his life, and it teaches us the importance of developing healthy spiritual habits. The Lord Jesus "ofttimes resorted" to the garden on the slopes of Olivet, Jn.18.2; it was a haven for communion with His Father. Like Him, let a close relationship with the Father be a way of life for us, rather than treating His presence as a spasmodic refuge in the crises of life.
Daniel’s "crime" was reported, and v.14 seems to indicate, that to spare him, the best legal minds of the city were consulted to no avail; he was destined for the den of lions. The king’s sleepless night, v.18, belied his pronouncement that Daniel’s God would deliver him, v.16. However, the One Whom Darius described as "Thy God" v.16, and Whom Daniel described as "My God" v.22, did intervene; the king’s seal could not keep the angel out, just as a Roman seal could not keep the Lord Jesus in, Matt.27.66.
At his arrest and on his release, Darius gave Daniel credit for serving his God "continually" vv.16,20. His commitment to God did not impinge on his loyalty to Darius; "before Him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt" v.22. It illustrates Paul’s teaching to servants, that in their daily toil with all its hardships they were serving "the Lord Christ" Col.3.24. That heightens the tone of what might be regarded as drudgery, or the routine of the office or factory. Scripture regards the necessary labour of a bread-winner as service to the Lord Christ; the secular is seen as a spiritual exercise. If understood in that light it will be performed conscientiously.
Daniel’s deliverance is attributed to his trust in his God, v.23, a lesson for each of us. "Have faith in God" Mk.11.22. His detractors reaped what they had sown, and were fatally mauled by the lions, v.24. The king used the incident to encourage his subjects to acknowledge Daniel’s God, providing a detailed record of His attributes, a firm foundation for anyone to put their trust in that living God, vv.25-28.
We have noted previously that this epistle could be divided into five sections and, in the last issue, we commenced a consideration of the third: vv.8-22 - Paul’s Appeal to Philemon for Acceptability. This was subdivided by noting the idea of receiving Onesimus: v.12, "thou therefore receive him"; v.17, "receive him as myself", with the following headings suggested:
Vv.8-12, Based on Love and Admiration for Paul:
Vv.13-17, Based on Loyalty and Association with Paul:
Vv.18-22, Based on Life and Appreciation of Paul.
We now consider the last of these sub-divisions.
Vv.18-22, Based on Life and Appreciation of Paul - Life, v.20, "Yea, brother"; Appreciation, v.19, "thou owest unto me even thine own self besides."
v.18, "If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account".
Note how Paul, as a shrewd accountant, balances the books: v.18, ‘I owe you’, but v.19, ‘you owe me’, "thou owest unto me ... thine own self".
"if" – there is no thought of doubt, rather it is the "if" of argument. It acknowledges sin and wrong, "he ... oweth thee". There is no overlooking of the sin, that must be faced, but Paul is prepared to make restitution because it is not possible for Onesimus to do so. The lesson is plain that new life does not cancel old debt.
"put that on my account" – Here is a good illustration of the doctrine of substitution. It is the word translated in Rom.5.13 as "imputed" and means ‘to charge to another’s account’. Another would pay the debt that he had incurred. How we rejoice that there was One Who paid the debt on behalf of all and every believer delights in tremendous currency used, His own "precious blood".
What guarantee had Philemon that Paul would pay? The answer is in the next verse.
v.19, "I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it: albeit I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides."
"I Paul" – Paul’s letter was the guarantee. His word was his bond. What an example for us all. Are we men and women of our word? It would also teach us to be careful what we say or sign. When we put our name to some document we are expected to stand over what is written therein. As a line of further study for each reader we note that the phrase "I Paul" is used six times in the Scriptures - 2Cor.10.1; Gal.5.2; Eph.3.1; Col.1.23; 1Thess.2.18 and here = Personal Integrity.
"I will repay it" - Paul believed the Lord would provide the means to pay any necessary debt. He was not preaching to make himself rich. He never appealed for funds or hinted as to what his personal needs were. He had a higher motive than materialism and he lived by faith, in absolute dependence on God.
v.20, "Yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord: refresh my bowels in the Lord." "Yea, brother" - this is a tender appeal on the basis of the Christian family relationship. Once more Scroggie’s comment is worth repeating, "there are only two brotherhoods - that of race and that of grace".
"let me have joy of thee" – the word "joy" means to help or profit and is likely a play on the name of Onesimus, which means ‘helpful’ or ‘profitable’. This is highlighted when we see how similar the name Onesimus is to the original word for "joy" used here, ‘oninemi’. It is as if Paul wants Philemon to be his ‘Onesimus’ – that is profitable to him! See v.11.
"refresh my bowels" – to receive spiritual refreshment is a great blessing. In v.7 Philemon had been commended for this, in relation to his work towards the saints. It was also a feature of Stephanus, Fortunatus and Achaicus, 1Cor.16.18, "they have refreshed my spirit". The recovery of the Corinthians caused refreshing to Titus, 2Cor.7.13, "his spirit was refreshed by you all". Thus we learn what brings refreshment to a spiritual man: Fullness in Relationship, v.7; Forgiveness in Rebellion, v.20; Faithfulness in Reporting, 1Cor.16.18; Fruitfulness in Recovery, 2Cor.7.13.
"in the Lord" - all that Paul desired him to do was in the sphere of His Lordship. We cannot expect others to comply with requests which are not within that sphere. He must have authority in all aspects of our lives.
The second reference to "in the Lord" is rendered "in Christ" by J.N.D. and the R.V. "In the Lord" is the sphere of responsibility, whereas "in Christ" is the sphere in which refreshment is experienced. This shows the refreshment is neither natural nor emotional.
v.21, "Having confidence in thy obedience I wrote unto thee, knowing that thou wilt also do more than I say."
"Having confidence in thy obedience" - this is not cringing, unwilling obedience which is demanded, rather it is the obedience of love and devotion. Because of the character of obedience, Paul is confident that Philemon will go beyond mere duty; thus he expresses his confidence in Philemon’s generosity, "thou wilt also do more than I say". This reflects the benevolent character of God Who does "exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think" Eph.3.20.
v.22, "But withal prepare me also a lodging: for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you."
Here there are two matters - a Dwelling to be Prepared and a Desire for Prayers.
In v.4 Paul prays for Philemon and here it is reciprocated. We really do need each other and we also need to pray for each other. We have learned through life that, "none of us liveth to himself" Rom.14.7.
"prepare me also a lodging" - Hospitality was most essential in those far away days when inns were places of ill repute and not suitable for Christians. It is hardly much different in our day. Many such places are marked by a style of living which is not compatible with Christianity. We ought to remember the injunction of Heb.13.2, "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."
While this ought to be the exercise of all saints it is incumbent on those who take the lead among the saints, who are to be "given to hospitality" 1Tim.3.2.
"a lodging" - the only other mention of this word is in Acts 28.23, "there came many to him into his lodging". This place, in Acts 28.30, is called a "hired house". It carries the idea of looking after strangers. In its verb form it is found in Acts 10.6, "He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner"; Acts 21.16, "Mnason of Cyprus, an old disciple, with whom we should lodge"; Heb.13.2, "some have entertained angels unawares".
The Lord’s people do not require a five star hotel. Elisha was happy with little. Note 2Kgs.4.10, "Let us make a little chamber, I pray thee, on the wall; and let us set for him there a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick: and it shall be, when he cometh to us, that he shall turn in thither." There was nothing elaborate, but all was comfortable, clean and functional.
In the matter of entertaining, we may ask who receives the greater blessing? Rom.16.23, "Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you." Was Gaius or Paul more greatly blessed? When the home in Bethany was opened to the Lord, who was more greatly blessed? The value of hospitality should be assessed in its spiritual, not merely its social, context.
"for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you" - Paul was still in prison and he assumed that Philemon and the assembly would have been praying for him. We may ask, how wide is our prayer interest? Do we forget those who are out of circulation?
Very often the unseen work of prayer is more important than the visible service as can be seen in Exodus chapter 17 where the work of Moses on the top of the mount was more important than the work of Joshua in the valley. We can do nothing greater for a person than to pray for them. If Paul needed the prayers of others, how much more do we?
"I trust" – Paul does not speak dogmatically about prayer being answered and that he would definitely arrive. While servants may have desires and make arrangements, this must always be according to His will. No man serving the Lord and guided by the Holy Spirit should be dictated to by his diary, or by human arrangements. When we make plans and arrangements we should say "If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that" Jms.4.15.
This is how the apostle behaved as seen in the following quotations: Acts 18.21, "I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will"; Rom.15.32, "I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed"; 1Cor.4.19, "But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will …".
Prayer is not so much to get God to accept what we want, but it is more to get us to accept what God wants. This is latent in the word ‘given’ or ‘granted’. It is only the will of God that can grant such a petition since his release depends ultimately, not on Caesar, but on God.
"unto you" - the plural embraces all the saints. He shows no party spirit and would have nothing to do with dividing the saints into separate groups either in respect of age or gender.
In the previous article we highlighted the ‘Appellations’ that displayed that Jesus Christ is God. We follow the subject by considering:
HIS ACTIVITIES – Divine Works
Certain works are beyond man’s capability to perform and are attributed to God Himself. A look at a cross-section of these acts reveals that they are also attributable to Christ. Thus Christ is God. Deity is His.
Gen.1.1. is a sublime statement of God’s creatorial power, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth". In the New Testament Christ is seen to be the agent of creation. "And thou Lord, in the beginning, hast laid the foundations of the earth and the heavens are the works of Thine hands" Heb.1.10. "All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made" Jn.1.3. "For by Him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth ..." Col.1.16. Christ is, "The beginning of the creation of God" Rev.3.14. The origin of creation is ascribed to our Lord. Only God can make something out of nothing, which is the essence of creation. All man’s hypotheses have to postulate some prior primordial soup or chemical composition out of which creation takes place, leading to theories of the eternity of matter. The Bible clearly declares a creation made out of nothing, made by Divine fiat, spoken into existence by the word of Deity.
Once creation is complete, how is it maintained? Is its continuance as random as its beginning is suggested to be? If it is governed by fixed laws are these ‘the laws of nature’ or ‘the laws of science’ or the ‘laws of God’?
"Upholding all things by the word of His power" Heb.1.3. Just as the worlds were spoken into being so they are maintained by the "word of His power". Christ is responsible for the planets in their orbits, and all the other ‘laws’ that govern our universe. The universe is not cold, impersonal and mechanistic. It is the work of an almighty God and His Divine Son. At the heart of the universe is the heart of Christ.
"By Him all things consist" Col.1.17. All things cohere, hold together, as a direct result of the omnipotence of Jesus Christ. "For in Him we live and move and have our being" Acts 17.28. He is not only our Creator but also our Environment. Every living thing is dependent on Christ for its existence. In man’s case, Christ provides the air that he breathes and the airways that allow him to breathe. Just as easily Christ can snuff out a man’s life by withholding the breath that he breathes. We have a sovereign Lord Jesus Christ to Whom "all power is given in heaven and in earth" Matt.28.18.
"For as the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them; even so, the Son quickeneth whom He will" Jn.5.21. "Marvel not at this; for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth … unto the resurrection of life … unto the resurrection of damnation" Jn.5.28,29. When here on earth Christ raised Jairus’ daughter, the son of the widow of Nain and Lazarus of Bethany. He was equally responsible with the Father and Holy Spirit for His own unique resurrection. He said Himself of His own life, "I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it again".
"For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son ... And hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man" Jn.5.22,27.
The judgment seat of Christ is controlled by the Lord Jesus Christ. The judgments of the tribulation are subject to His authority. The judgment of the beasts and their armies at Armageddon will be in the hands of Christ when He returns. The judgment of Israel also the judgment of the Living Nations are subject to His power. Finally, He will be the judge at the Great White Throne assize. (Chastisement of sons and the husbandman’s work, Heb.12.5-11; Jn.15.1-6, are the responsibility of the Father). "The Lord Jesus Christ Who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and kingdom" 2Tim.4.1.
Forgiveness of Sins
The scribes accused the Lord of blasphemy when He said to the paralysed man, "Son, thy sins be forgiven thee", because they attributed the ability to forgive sins to God alone; "who can forgive sins but God only" Mk.2.5-7. They were wrong to accuse Christ of blasphemy but their latter statement was exactly right. Christ, being God, was able to forgive sins.
"The Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins" Mk.2.10. The authority of God to forgive sins is equally possessed by our Lord. The extent of this power is "on earth". As long as a person is alive on earth it is possible for their sins to be forgiven. This power and ability does not extend beyond the grave. Forgiveness is not available to those who have died. After death it is forever too late. There is no second chance.
"I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake" 1Jn.2.12. "He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" 1Jn.1.9.
Resources to Meet Human Need
Our Lord fed both the 5,000 and 4,000. Despite the apparently meagre resources all were fed. Yet, more was collected up at the end than they had to begin with.
He provided healing for a whole range of diseases. Think of the woman with the issue of blood, the lepers, the blind and even those beyond the skills of the doctor, the dead: He healed them all. He provided living water for the woman of Samaria, Jn.4.14, and offered to quench the thirst of the whomsoever on that last, great day of the feast, "If any man thirst let him come unto Me and drink" Jn.7.37. "I give unto My sheep eternal life" Jn.10.28.
Our Lord was able to supply resources for human needs when no one else could!
"Other signs truly did Jesus … But these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God" Jn.20.30,31. "Jesus of Nazareth, a Man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs" Acts 2.22. "Salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord … God also bearing witness, both with signs and wonders and with divers miracles" Heb.2.3,4.
The purpose of the miraculous was to promote belief on the part of the people and to prove the identity of the Lord Jesus Christ, as the Son of God. "Miracles" revealed the supernatural power to perform these acts. "Signs" indicated the spiritual significance of these supernatural acts. "Wonders" initiated the reaction in the onlookers who witnessed such acts.
HIS ADORATION – Worship, Prayer and Praise
In the temptation in the wilderness Satan said to the Saviour, "Worship Thou me". The Lord replied by quoting from Deuteronomy, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God".
In Acts 10.25,26 as Peter was entering Cornelius’ house, "Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him". Peter rebuked Cornelius saying, "I also am a man". Paul and Barnabas are visiting Lystra, where they heal a cripple. The locals declare, "The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men". They call Barnabas after the god Jupiter, and Paul after Mercury. They are about to offer sacrifices to Paul and Barnabas but Paul restrained them with the words, "We also are men of like passions with you" Acts 14.18. John falls down at the feet of the guiding angel, who rebukes him, "See thou do it not … worship God" Rev.22.8,9.
The above examples indicate that it is God Who is to be worshipped and God alone. When men and angels were about to be worshipped, they rejected the worship and directed it instead to God.
Not so, our blessed Lord. He accepted worship and Matthew records many of these acts of worship. His book begins and ends with worship as Luke begins and ends with praise. He accepts worship from: The wise men, 2.2; a leper, 8.2; Jairus, 9.18; the disciples, 14.33; the Syrophoenician woman, 15.25; the servant, 18.26; the mother of James and John, 20.20; the woman at the tomb, 28.9; and Thomas, Jn.20.28. When He comes again God will say, Heb.1.6, "Let all the angels of God worship Him". Angels worship the Lamb in Rev.5.11,12; they worship God in Rev.7.11,12 using a similar sevenfold ascription of praise.
We also discover that Stephen prayed to the Lord Jesus Christ in Acts 7.59,60, when he was being stoned to death. Other passages where prayer is directed to Christ are, 1Tim.1.12,13; 1Thess.3.11,12; 2Cor.12.7-9.
None of these worshippers were rebuked by our Lord. As God He accepted worship and prayer, just as at His return to earth He will accept angelic worship. Praise to the Lord Jesus personally is recorded in doxologies also; 2Tim.4.18; 2Pet.3.18; Rev.1.5,6.
In these articles we have noted matters that must be addressed to have a time of revival. These were:
Esteem for God’s House
Exercise in Personal Sanctification and Purification of God’s House
Earnestness in Confession of Sin
Energy to Reinstate Scriptural Order
Esteem for the Value of Sacrifice
Evaluation of the Importance of Unity According to God’s Mind
Enrichment of Worship In Spiritual Songs
Exhortation of Others to Come To God’s Centre
We continue with:
ENGAGEMENT IN SUPPLICATION AND PRAYER-
"But Hezekiah prayed for them saying, ‘The good LORD pardon every one that prepareth his heart to seek God, the L ORD God of his fathers, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary’" 2Chron.30.19.
No revival has ever been devoid of this clear distinguishing mark – the felt need of prayer! Self-sufficiency, human organisation and expediency are unmistakable evidences of departure. Do we grasp the fact that God and God alone is the author of revival? When we do, then will we turn to Him in prayer and supplication for the maintaining of what has been established for His glory. Are we constantly aware that even in holy things, we have failed? If we are, we will feel the need for God’s forgiveness and the continuance of His grace upon us in all our frailty and failure. So it was in Hezekiah’s day: "But Hezekiah prayed for them saying, ‘The good L ORD pardon every one …" 2Chron.30.19.
It is prayer that brings the blessing. Every revival has known this distinguishing mark of fervency in prayer. Do we feel a burden to pray collectively as well as individually? Is the prayer meeting important and well attended in the assembly? When God is giving help to pray, does time lose its importance or is there a fleshly unrest evident in the company when the normal time to conclude is exceeded by someone enjoying special help in prayer? Happy is that assembly which enjoys in a practical way the truth, "I exhort therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men" 1Tim.2.1.
Happy was Judah in Hezekiah’s day: "Then the priests and Levites arose and blessed the people: and their voice was heard, and their prayer came up to His holy dwelling place, even unto heaven" 2Chron.30.27. Is it any wonder the Holy Spirit records: "So there was great joy in Jerusalem: for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there was not the like in Jerusalem" 2Chron.30.26?
ELIMINATION OF FALSE GODS -
"Now when all this was finished, all Israel that were present went out to the cities of Judah, and brake the images in pieces, and cut down the groves, and threw down the high places and the altars out of all Judah and Benjamin, in Ephraim also and Manasseh, until they had utterly destroyed them all" 2Chron.31.1.
Revival and the toleration of "other gods" are diametrically opposed; they cannot co-exist! Idolatry and declension are sisters; false gods and failure walk hand in hand; departing hearts embrace devotion to wrong objects of worship. Restoration is the bosom companion of single-hearted devotion to God. Recovery is always marked by rejection of all that displaces God in the affections of His people.
We are not called to physically attack the idols of the 21st century but today, we are surrounded by idolatry on a scale that probably exceeds that ancient day. The great idol of ‘self’ calls for worship from almost every billboard! "Enjoy yourself"; "Indulge yourself"; "You owe it to yourself"; "Feel good about yourself", are commonplace expressions in our society and many of the professed people of God seem to accept this philosophy as quite right and proper. Have we forgotten our Lord Who said: "For even the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many" Mk.10.45? Again, he said: "Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me" Mk.8.34. If we worship the false idol called "self", we will be sadly disappointed; it can never save us in crisis or satisfy us in life. But if we follow our Lord, we will "receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions: and in the world to come eternal life" Mk.10.30.
Self has many subordinate idols for men to worship. For example, there is the idol of sport. This whole sphere of human interest has many sub-idols. Some worldlings are intoxicated with soccer or baseball, yet have not the slightest interest in golf. Some live for hockey, watching its contests and discussing its participants; they spend exorbitant amounts of money on tickets and trappings. It is their life; it is their idol. Every branch of sport has its heroes and icons.
Another major branch of modern idolatry is the music industry. Has any Christian worthy of the name, not been moved with pity and sorrow to hear of thousands of young people screaming out their adulation of their ‘idols’ at a rock concert? The fact that tongues, created by God to express His praise in harmony with heaven, are perverted to the use of praising those grotesque, unclean and unworthy ‘stars’, should be enough to make us weep and long for the day when "everything that hath breath" shall "praise the L ORD " Ps.150.7. Should any young Christian then be found singing the world’s music? Let none be deceived: the modern so-called ‘Christian Radio’ programs, which have all the trappings and instrumentation of the secular music industry are not truly, Biblically Christian; they are just as much of the world, except that they are more subtle, because of the veneer of religion. Young Christian, we would plead with you to follow the example of Hezekiah and eliminate from your bedroom every semblance of idolatry such as posters and trophies of this 21st century idolatry. While today’s music permeates the public sphere in our cities and towns, surely we can desist from listening to it in our homes and vehicles?
True revival is marked by a clear discernment of everything idolatrous and a repudiation of all that will displace our blessed Lord in our hearts. Margaret Mauro’s poem was written in deep heart exercise about the snare of social engagement in worldly amusement. This stanza is particularly poignant:
Nay world I turn away, though thou seem fair and good,
That friendly, outstretched hand of thine is stained with Jesus’ blood.
If in thy least device, I stoop to take a part,
All unaware thine influence steals God’s presence from my heart.
ENCOURAGEMENT OF SOUND TEACHING -
"Moreover he commanded the people that dwelt in Jerusalem to give the portion of the priests and the Levites, that they might be encouraged in the law of the LORD " 2Chron.31.4.
Sound teaching is an essential component of a work of revival. The formation of assemblies in a widespread way, especially in the English-speaking world, about 170 years ago was accompanied by a prolific production of good, sound, written ministry, as well as an energetic effort to provide many opportunities for oral ministry, all for the edification of the people of God. Men of vision laboured diligently to bring God’s truth to His people; their motto: "All the truth of God for all the people of God".
Hezekiah knew the value of God’s Word. He knew the principle, later committed to writing by Malachi: "For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, And they should seek the law at his mouth: For he is the messenger of the L ORD of hosts" Mal.2.7. Hezekiah’s concern was that such men would be supported and encouraged to make known God’s mind.
Are we less in need of priestly men today? Men who know what it is to move in worship and appreciation in God’s sanctuary and who also know how to come out from God’s presence and teach His people what they have received from God. We may have too many sermons, but too few messages from above with the warmth of heaven’s love and the stamp of heaven’s authority upon them. The Lord Jesus taught "as one having authority, and not as the scribes" Matt.7.29. Jeremiah asked, "For who hath stood in the counsel of the L ORD , and hath perceived and heard His word? Who hath marked His word and heard it?" Jer.23.18. We need such men to discern the Lord’s mind and bring forth messages suited to present needs. Some needs are perhaps known only to God, others readily perceived in the company, but all can be met by ministry imparted by the Lord to His servants in His time. To speak without that unction is but beating the air and wasting the time of those who listen.
A people in a revived state will encourage men through whom they hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and will not suffer gladly nor support men who have not the stamp of heaven’s approval on their efforts.
EXHIBITION OF TRUE DEVOTION IN GIVING -
"The children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of corn, wine and oil, and honey, and of all the increase of the field; and the tithe of all things brought they in abundantly" 2Chron.31.5.
Here is large-hearted liberality of souls touched by the grace of God in revival. Precious things, formerly squandered in idolatry, are now laid up in God’s house for His service and the sustenance of His servants. If our God is a liberal, giving God, and of this we are assured, then His people in a revived state will also be liberal in giving of their material things as well as their time and energy. When we think of what Christ gave for us, how can we be cold and unresponsive? "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich" 2Cor.8.9.
And thou hast brought to me,
Down from Thy throne above,
Salvation full and free,
Thy pardon and Thy love;
Great gifts Thou broughtest me;
What have I brought to Thee?
(Frances R. Havergal)
We read: "The liberal soul shall be made fat: And he that watereth shall be watered also himself" Prov.11.25. Liberality feeds on itself, rewarding the giver with spiritual increase and refreshment. May we experience and increase of this God-like characteristic which is a clear hallmark of revival.
ENJOINED FAITH AND COURAGE IN FACE OF THE ENEMY –
"Be strong and courageous, be not afraid or dismayed for the King of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: ... With him is the arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles" 2Chron.32.7,8.
Hezekiah saw beyond mere force of numbers or might of man. He had a clear-sighted assessment of the real situation from heaven’s viewpoint. We have a leader who is thinking God’s thoughts and speaking God’s mind. What foe can stand before a little company if God be with them? One man with God is greater than the greatest warrior. Hezekiah’s words were noble words of faith giving glory to a faithful God. This is a living faith that brings the living God into the circumstance; a revived Israel under Hezekiah saw Sennacherib’s vaunted strength wither in a night, showing the mighty arm of the Lord to be infinitely superior to the arm of flesh. "Thus the L ORD saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib the king of Assyria, and from the hand of all other, and guided them on every side" 2Chron.32.22. God’s glory was thus enhanced and his people cheered; this is yet another clear feature of a revived company.
One evening the door bell rang and to our surprise, standing on the door step was a well dressed young man holding a suitcase. He smiled pleasantly and introduced himself as a seller of cleaning agents. There were cleaners for all kinds of stains on all kinds of surfaces. There was an agent for removing oil from the driveway, another to remove stubborn stains from carpets, another for car washing, window cleaning, and the list went on and on. It even included some potions that possibly would be helpful in hospital sterilisation. I began to wonder wherever such an array of bottles and sprays could be stored in one house? Then there was the price. It is said that good salesmen whet your appetite for the product before introducing the cost involved! It was at this stage my interest waned.
However, as I pondered this experience I thought about another cleansing which takes only one application and eradicates every stain. It is so powerful that it lasts for ever. You may ask, "What is the cost?" The amazing truth is that this remedy is free. Please read on for an explanation.
All that we have considered concerns stains that are on materials which we see all around us and are outward. A far larger and more serious problem has to do with the stain of sin that is within us. You may say, "If we cannot see these stains, how do we know they exist?" While we cannot see the stain within, we can observe the effects of it in our lives. We are sinners by birth and we are not long in this world until the evidence of indwelling sin is obvious. The Bible states, "… all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" Romans 3.23. The end result of this sin is death. Once more we quote from God’s Word, "… sin when it is finished, bringeth forth death" James 1.15; and again, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:" Romans 5.12. These verses not only bring physical death to our attention, but they direct us to the awfulness of eternal death, which is to be under the judgment of God eternally.
How can such be cleansed and that with only one application? We cannot deal with sin ourselves, since it has its roots internally, in our nature. No surgeon can cut it out; no religion can cover it; it cannot be overcome by good works; philosophy and the like, will never take away sins. Our only valid instruction can be found in simple yet glorious words in God’s inspired Word, "the blood of Jesus Christ His [God’s] Son cleanseth us from all sin" 1John 1.7. The Bible states of another company, "These are they which … have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" Revelation 7.14. Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, came from heaven and shed His blood sacrificially on the cross of Calvary, so that God, on a righteous basis, could forgive our sins. This needs no second application. Once we have truly repented of our sin and exercised faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we become the possessors of the life of God, eternal life and we can never perish, John 10.28,29. John 3.16, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."