Our former editor, A. M. S. Gooding, is now 'at home with the Lord.' His earthly sojourn concluded early on Monday, 3rd May and his funeral took place from Elim Hall, Kilmarnock, on Friday, 7th May.
The large company, representing saints from all over the British Isles and farther afield, was an eloquent and fitting testimony to the high esteem in which our dear brother was held.
The service in the hall was opened and chaired by W. Houston, an overseer in Elim Hall and secretary of the Lord's Work Trust. The opening hymn was 'Some day the silver cord will break . . .', after which B. Currie led in prayer. J. R. Baker read from the Scriptures and brought a very appropriate message of comfort, appreciation and challenge, and a local elder, G. Burns prayed. The service was concluded by singing 'I am waiting for the dawning of the bright and blessed day.'
The interment took place at the local cemetery in Kilmarnock, where J. Dickson brought words of succour from 1 Thess.4 and L. Robertson, another local elder, prayed.
Prayer would be valued for our late brother's widow, his three sons and daughter, their respective wives and husband and their children.
A. M. S. Gooding was born in Ipswich and brought up in the assembly which subsequently moved to Foundation Street. His mother died very early in his life, and he was brought up by his godly grandmother and other relatives. He was saved, baptized and brought into fellowship early in life. From then on his life was devoted to his Lord. The Word of God was always his sole criteria in making any decision.
His leisure time was spent in just two ways - studying the Scriptures and ministering to the needs of the small assemblies in East Anglia, together with some farther afield. He was greatly helped, along with other young brethren, by a local brother who took them to small gatherings to assist him.
He would tell of how his studying consisted of reading a verse by candlelight, meditating upon it and then writing down his understanding of it. Only then would he turn to commentaries, never earlier.
When the war came he objected to military service and was successful. Thus he became available to leave England and take up his position at John Ritchie Limited. This was a very great loss to believers in the south.
Our beloved brother was called Home to be with the Lord on 3rd May, 1999. In the latter days of his stay in hospital, he was longing to be 'at home' with the Lord he loved so much and served so well.
Our brother was born on 5th January, 1915 and was saved in Ipswich, England, in 1929 and began a long and fruitful oral ministry when he took his first gospel meeting at the tender age of 16 and ministered the Word at his first conference when just 18 years old. His rich and edifying ministry took him across the British Isles, USA, Canada and elsewhere. While born in England, he spent most of his life in Scotland and was a director of John Ritchie Ltd. for 33 years before resigning in August 1974 to devote all his time to the work of the Lord.
He was introduced as editor of this magazine in the January/February issue of 1967. However, he had a much longer association, his first article appearing in issue number 42 in 1959. When he took responsibility as editor, the magazine comprised 16 pages of 772" x 5" format and in issue 169, September/October 1980, this was increased to 32 pages. (The same amount of material is now in 24 pages of A5 format). In his usual meticulous way he insisted in planning the way ahead and largely due to his persistence the present editor was introduced 'officially' as Assistant Editor in January 1984.
His wise counsel was greatly valued and relied upon by the committee of this magazine, who were happy to leave all editorial matters in his capable hands. His undeviating stance for the truths of the local assembly was seen in his reviews of 'the brethren' (Nos.98-100, Nov/Dec 1968 - Mar/Apr 1969) and of the 'Swanwick Conference' (Nos.160-164, Mar/Apr 1979 - Nov/Dec 1979), and his article 'Swanwick Again' in No.198 (Jul/Aug 1985).
Many saints benefited from his eloquent and expository ministry when he held his audience captivated as he made the most difficult of passages simple and brought their practical implications to bear on both our individual and congregational lives. Who will forget his practical handling of Ruth and the Judges; his precision in Ephesians and Colossians; his proficiency in the parables of Matt.13 and the 7 churches of Asia; his powerful exposition of the Pastorals; his profundity in the Offerings and so much more besides? The foregoing combined with His perception and politeness in a Bible Reading and being the penman of a number of books indicate something of his overall ability and highlight the fact that he will be exceedingly difficult to replace.
He loved to relax in the home after a meeting when those gathered could profit from his long experience of assembly and family life. We enjoyed his rich tenor voice and wondered how such volume could come from so small a frame! He was a kind and sincere Christian gentleman in every respect and one who was continually, 'seeking the wealth of His people,' Est.10.3. We can say truly, 'to know him was to love him.' It is not often we will have the privilege of meeting such a man and he will be missed. We would covet the prayers of the Lord's people for his widow and children, the whole family circle, the assembly in Kilmarnock where he fellowshipped and for those who seek to carry on this magazine. To all who knew him and will miss him we say, 'remember your leaders who have spoken to you the word of God; and considering the issue of their conversation, imitate their faith,' Heb.13.7 (JND).
On hearing of the home-call of our beloved brother and honoured servant of the Lord, Mr. A. M. S. Gooding, the minds and memories of the saints here in Lurgan went back to his first official visit to our annual Conference in 1959.
Our brother evidently felt that the Conference seemed to be somewhat one sided, tending to be for brethren only, so he took up for the Ministry on the Tuesday evening the noble women referred to in Romans ch.16. This left an indelible impression on the minds of all who heard, having with it the warmth and freshness of heaven. Today it is still spoken of as though it had been his subject on his last visit with us.
This seemingly set a trend for our brother during his many visits to the Conference. On these occasions he was always responsible for the Tuesday night meeting and it was his exercise to minister on some of the great women of both Old and New Testaments. They are too numerous to mention in detail but included Ruth and Naomi, Hannah, Mary the Lord's mother, Martha and Mary, the elect lady of 2nd John and a number of others. These were not only to the profit and benefit of the sisters but the brethren could always join in thanksgiving to God for those unforgettable seasons around His own good Word.
Added to this were his excellent openings and expositions of many parts of Holy Scripture in the Bible Readings, not shunning to declare the whole counsel of God.
The loss of such valued servants leaves us very much the poorer and we can but look to the Lord for others to be raised up to strengthen the things that remain in light of the near and imminent return of the Lord from heaven.
Arthur Gooding moved with his wife, Hilda, from Ipswich to Kilmarnock in 1942.
A compositor to trade, he was employed with the Christian publishers, John Ritchie Limited, going on to become Managing Director.
That he had a real gift from God was evident in the early years after conversion, taking his first conference while still in his late teens. It was in the ministry of the Word of God that he quickly matured, his movements extending not only to every quarter of the British Isles, but abroad to Canada, USA and South Africa. Eternity alone will reveal the many saints blessed and assemblies guided through his ministry. A balanced man, he knew the need of a healthy diet, giving ministry that was devotional, doctrinal, practical and prophetical, never constantly strumming the one string.
For many years he was Editor of this magazine "Assembly Testimony" and, although he did not write much from his own pen, when a commentary was published which undermined the order of gathering, he wrote counteracting such teaching and thus restated truth "most surely believed among us." Although some felt that it but publicised the commentary, he himself felt strongly that such teaching needed to be resisted and exposed and, like Paul, stood when others remained silent. Later from his pen came a book on Judges and he wrote the Epistles of John for the commentary "What The Bible Teaches." Thus he left a written legacy.
Although remembered largely for his teaching ministry, he was an able and powerful gospel preacher. Before he was commended to the work, he held series of gospel meetings in various places, particularly in Ayrshire, often with his friend and associate, the late Jack Hunter. God often honoured these labours and souls were saved. In 1957, their local assembly had an exercise to pitch a tent in the north end of Kilmarnock and Jack and Arthur preached and a time of blessing was experienced. Many there are in this country and beyond who date their spiritual birth to the time that they heard the gospel from our dear brother's lips.
A spiritual man, for many years he took his place among the overseeing brethren, where his help and counsel were valued. On 28th August 1974, he was commended by the assembly in Elim Hall, Kilmarnock, to full-time service and for 20 years moved extensively as mentioned earlier.
Although being in Scotland for the best part of 60 years, he never lost his English accent. He also had a beautiful singing voice, often being heard clearly in the gatherings.
Despite the heavy demands from elsewhere, he ever remembered his home assembly, having two series, first in February 1976, giving two weeks' ministry on prophecy, and in June 1996, a week on The Life of Abraham. Apart from addressing the Annual Conference on occasions, he was a regular at our Saturday evening meetings, often taking up a subject and then answering written questions. On such occasions, he never disappointed, but brought the Word of God in power and freshness.
These last few years, due to failing eyesight and increasing bodily weakness, his public movements became ever more restricted. Yet God preserved his mind and his own assembly began to benefit by his presence and participation. Younger men gained much as they listened to him at the local Bible Reading. For the writer, the highlight was listening to him worship, often rising after the first hymn, taking an expression from it, and with a fertile mind he exalted Christ and, at the prayer meeting one felt here was a man who knew not only his Bible, but the God of the Bible.
Not a conversationalist or one for small talk, some found him a little distant, yet, when engaged in the Word of God and the things of God, he was most interesting. I have no doubt that he could be reckoned to be one of the most outstanding expositors among us today.
He used to tell us that not all would hear the "Well done, good and faithful servant" but one has no doubt that he has heard it and "now rests from his labours," Rev.14.13.
The very heart of this chapter is concerned with Peter's great confession at Caesarea Phillipi. In the midst of religious confusion on this southern slope of Mount Hermon, Simon boldly acknowledges his Lord to be the Son of the living God. But before the confession there is opposition.
The Pharisees and the Sadducees were inveterate enemies and religious rivals. There was no correspondence between the ritualism of the one and the rationalism of the other. But from time to time they formed a strange and unusual coalition in a common opposition to the Lord Jesus, and so it is here at the beginning of our chapter. Earlier in his Gospel Matthew records that they both came to John's baptism, ch.3.7. John called them "Offspring of vipers"!
They now come tempting the Lord and desiring a sign. What arrogance and unbelief is this. After all that miraculous ministry, of which they must have known, they desire a sign! Jesus knows their hypocritical intent. He rebukes them. They can look at the sky, He says, evening and morning, and predict the weather, but they are spiritually ignorant as to the signs of the times. The only sign for them now is the sign of Jonah the prophet. Jonah, in a figure brought back from the dead, preached to Gentiles and reaped a harvest of repentance and salvation. So would it be with the Saviour. These proud leaders of Israel would reject Him. They would live to see Him crucified, raised from the dead, and forgiveness of sins preached in His Name to Jew and Gentile alike. He left them, and warned His disciples to beware of the leaven of both Pharisees and Sadducees. Their doctrines were evil. Alas, Phariseeism and Sadduceeism, ritualism and rationalism, traditionalism and liberalism, live on in great Christendom, so that true believers still need to "Beware".
With His disciples Jesus now arrives at Caesarea Philippi. The location is most important. Caesarea Philippi had earlier been known as Banias. It had been named after the pagan god Pan. To this day there may be seen a grotto where stood the image of Pan. There is still evidence in stone of the worship of Pan at that place. Philip had refurbished and enlarged the town however, and had re-named it Caesarea. But there already was a Caesarea in Israel, on the Mediterranean coast, so the new Caesarea had to be distinguished, and what better way to honour Caesar and satisfy one's own ego than by combining the two names, Caesar and Philip, and calling the new town Caesarea Philippi. Not content with this, Philip also built a white marble temple there for the worship of the Emperor, who, it was believed, was a divine person. As well as all this, it is recorded that there were perhaps no less than fourteen Syrian temples erected there for the worship of Baal.
What confusion indeed was all this! Pan, Caesar, Baal, heathen deities with their temples, their shrines, their images and grottos! And it was just here that the Saviour asked the question, "Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am?" What did they think of Him, those who worshipped these other gods? Some, perhaps with a little knowledge of Scripture, thought, Elijah. Others (had they seen the Saviour weeping?) thought He was Jeremiah. Some did not attempt to be specific but simply thought, one of the prophets. But the disciples? What did they think? Peter does not hesitate. "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." There was indeed a Living God. These gods of the heathen, Pan, Caesar and Baal alike, were dead. They were lifeless deities. But Jesus was the Son of the Living God, and He was the Messiah. It was the revelation of the Father to the hearts of those who were willing, and Simon Bar-jona was, accordingly, a blessed man. If the Father had so spoken to Peter, then the Son also would speak. Peter was Petros, a stone, a piece of rock, now exhibiting the character of that Rock to which he belonged, and upon that Rock, Christ, Messiah, the new Church would be built. It would be unassailable and impregnable, so that nothing would prevail against it. The authority of heaven would be invested in Peter and his apostolic companions. Not in the temple now, not in Israel's scribes, priests or Rabbis, but to these lowly Galilean fishermen would the message of forgiveness be committed. Jesus now charges them that they should tell no man that He was the Christ. The nation had had its opportunity and its day of visitation, and had refused Him. They would now leave Mount Hermon for Golgotha.
The Saviour announces, in the clearest terms, His impending sufferings and death. The leaders of the nation would condemn Him. He would suffer many things of them and be killed. But He would be raised again, on the third day. Peter would not have it. He rebukes the Master and the Master rebukes Him.
There follows the appeal. It is an appeal to lose one's life and follow Him. What would be the profit anyway, if a man gained the world and then lost all that he had, his life, his soul. The encouragement to those who would follow was this, that one day there would be glory and in that glory there would be suitable reward. Indeed soon there would be a preview of that glory. They would see, albeit in microcosm, the kingdom, and the Son of Man in regal splendour. He would take some of them up the mount to grant them this foregleam of the kingdom. It would be a sight they would never forget. One of them, recalling it after many years, would write, "We were eyewitnesses of His Majesty," 1Pet.1.16. It would be worth losing the world to share in the glory of that world to come.
Chapter 3 commences with the most significant words: "After these things..." (It was, in fact, some four to five years after Esther's enthronement: compare 2.16 with 3.7). It was only after God had providentially arranged matters of state for the good of His people, that Ahasuerus promoted "Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him," v1. In our introduction to the book of Esther, we noticed that Haman is a striking picture of Satan himself, and this now becomes evident.
A. THE IDENTITY OF HAMAN
"Haman ... the Agagite." The name Agag, appears to be a title of the kings of Amalek. See lSam.15 and Num.24.7, "His (Israel's) king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted."After the battle between Israel and Amalek in Exod.17, God had this to say; "I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven." Moses subsequently built an altar,"and called the name of it JEHOVAH-nissi (the Lord my banner): for He said, Because the Lord hath sworn that the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation," 4.14-16. Notice the margin reading of v16: 'Because the hand of Amalek is against the throne of the Lord, the Lord will have..." See also JND. Whilst lSam.15 describes the slaughter of the Amalekites, it is evident from lSam.30 that some survived and continued their implacable hatred against Israel. Haman therefore represents a nation with deep hatred of God's people.
It is only right to add that there was evidently a place in Media, later incorporated into the Persian Empire, called Agag,and some commentators feel that this is really the meaning of the name.
B) THE GLORY OF HAMAN
We notice his exalted position: "Set his seat above all the princes that were with him." This reminds us of Satan's exaltation. Let's say, first of all, that Satan was created by Christ. See Col.1.16, "For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him." This statement must include Satan himself. There are two passages which are often cited when describing Satan's former glory.
Isaiah 14, which takes up "this proverb against the king of Babylon," v1-11, and continues, "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which did'st weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to the ground, to the sides of the pit," v12-17.
Ezekiel 28, which first addresses the "prince of Tyrus", v1-12, and continues by addressing the 'king of Tyrus, v13-19. Whilst there is some reason for saying that "Lucifer, son of the morning," is the king of Babylon, there seems little doubt that the king of Tyre is the spiritual master of the prince of Tyre. For example, "Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God ... Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee," v12-15.
Both Peter and Jude make it clear that although he is fallen, Satan must not be contemptuously dismissed. False teachers are "not afraid to speak evil of dignities. Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord," 2Pet.2.10-ll. See the parallel passage in Jude 9-10.
C) THE AUTHORITY OF HAMAN
"And all the king's servants, that were in the king's gate, bowed, and reverenced Haman." There was total recognition of his authority ? but not quite, as we shall see later. Some centuries later, John wrote: "And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness." (Better, 'the wicked one'). Un.5.19.
D) THE ANIMOSITY OF HAMAN
"But Mordecai bowed not, nor "did him reverence ... and when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath," v2-5. One man refused to bow to Haman, just as there were "seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him," 1Kgs.19.18. Just as some will refuse to bow to the Beast: "I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the Word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years, Rev.20.4. The animosity of Satan towards Israel will continue until the point when "he knoweth that he hath but a short time." Rev.12 tells us that "he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child ... and the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed..."
But there was another Man Who refused to bow: Satan said, "All these will I give Thee, if Thou wilt fall down and worship me." The Saviour answered: "Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve," Matt.4.10-11. Hence Satan's animosity towards Him. see Jn.8: "Ye seek to kill Me, because My word hath no place in you ... Ye seek to kill Me, a Man that hath told you the truth ... Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning...v37-44.
Notice that the king's servants "daily" urged Mordecai to bow, v4. Potiphar's wife "spake to Joseph day by day..." Gen.39.10. The Lord Jesus was "forty days tempted of the devil, Lk.4.2. Can we expect anything less?
But supposing Mordecai had bowed to Haman. It would have saved an awful lot of trouble, wouldn't it? After all, does it really matter ... What do you think? Just remember that today's compromise is tomorrow's surrender.
E) THE STRATEGY OF HAMAN
"Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai," v6. "And the letters were sent by post into all the king's provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day..." v13. It was a case of genocide. Ps.83 describes a confederacy of nations bent on exactly the same goal. "Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance," v4. Rev. 16 makes it clear that this confederacy will be initiated by Satan himself, See v13-14. Like Haman, Satan is certainly "the Jews' enemy," v10. 'It is perfectly clear, then, that the titanic death-struggle of the book of Esther simply cannot be understood apart from the satanic purposes towards Israel which the general context of Scripture reveals.' John C. Whitcomb.
'That Haman's attempted genocide of the Jews is not an inconceivable fantasy has been learned from the Nazi Holocaust. Gordis (R. Gordis, Megillat Esther) poignantly recalls:*
Anti-Semites have always hated the book and the Nazis forbade its reading in the crematoria and the concentration camps. In the dark days before their deaths, Jewish inmates of Auschwitz, Dachau, Treblinka and Bergen-Belsen wrote the book of Esther from memory and read it secretly on Purim.'
* (Extracted from an article by Edwin M. Yamauchi, Bibliotheca Sacra, April-June 1980)
In order to achieve his end, Haman totally misrepresented the Jews to Ahasuerus; "There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people; neither keep they the king's laws..." v8. This was totally unsupported, and recalls the words of the Lord Jesus: "When he (Satan) speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar, and the father of it," Jn.8.44. We must be careful that we do not become "false accusers." We must be careful to ensure that our apparent concern for the well-being of others, does not mask personal ambition.
Notice something else. The king made sure that the attempt on his life was thoroughly investigated ? "and when inquisition was made of the matter, it was found out," 2.23. But since his personal safety was not apparently endangered, Ahasuerus accepts the word of Haman without the slightest demur. Now, there is no investigation; the facts put before him are not subject to verification. Just make a note of Deut.17: "And it be told, and thou hast heard of it, and enquired diligently, and, behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel: then," v4-5. And not till then. We do tend to accept juicy bits of scandal about the Lord's people without verifying the facts, don't we?
Before broaching the matter with the king, Haman and the Persian astrologers determined 'the exact day of the year which would be most propitious for the destruction of Israel..." J. C. Whitcomb. Reference to the occult, however, was subject to a higher authority, for "The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord," Prov.16.33.
(F) THE INSENSIBILITY OF HAMAN
"And the king and Haman sat down to drink; but the city Shushan was perplexed," v15. Haman had no care or concern about his victims, and we can be sure that Satan has no love for the souls of men either.
With Jehoshaphat entering the last phase of his life, 2Chron.19,20 record a mixture of success and failure. Consider:
(c) 2 Chronicles 19: A Forgiven King
Returning to Jerusalem, Jehoshaphat was to face stern criticism for his sinful alliance with Ahab. The chapter neatly divides into three sections:
(v2-3) - Jehoshaphat reprimanded
The prophet, Jehu, was the one given the task of correcting the king for his sin and departure. His own father, Hanani, had confronted Asa some years previous and was imprisoned for his actions (16.7,10). Undeterred from his own family history, Jehu takes a courageous stand against the wayward king and reprimands him directly and with force. Not only true in content but the message was balanced as well, mixing the negative (v2) with the positive (v3). We should take a stand in both camps: are we prepared to correct those that do wrong with a true and balanced message? Are we prepared to take correction from the servants of the Lord, as and when necessary?
(v4) - Jehoshaphat restored
The little word 'again' would point to the fact that the king returned to the spiritual ways recorded in 2Chron.l7.7. He was not embittered with the message, unlike his father, rather he was determined to make amends for his sin. Once fallen, the measure of our restoration will be visible from our desires to follow the Lord and lead others in similar paths (Lk.22.32).
(v5-11) - Jehoshaphat resolute
Having been corrected for the sin of 2Chron.l8 and restored to fellowship with the Lord, Jehoshaphat desired only one thing, to move forward. In commissioning the Judges, Levites and Priests we have clear guidance as to the way we should conduct our service.
Character of the work (v6,8). The servants had to be conscious that they laboured for the Lord and not man. All our service, irrespective of its nature, must be rendered as unto the Lord: 'Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God' (lCor.10.31).
Conviction in the work (v7,9). In order to ensure against indolence and iniquity, the servants were to fear the Lord. Although 'fear' usually paralyses the servant, the 'fear of the Lord' emphasised the reverence expected, and the 'perfect hearts' necessary to effectively complete the work.
Compensation for the work (v11b). Doing 'good" brought its own reward, a knowledge of the Lord's nearness (Ps.37.23, 24). Is this how we conduct our service within the local assembly?
(d) 2 Chronicles 20.1-34: A Faithful King
What better way to test the genuineness of Jehoshaphat's conversion than with a war! There can be little doubt that the 'fear' of 20.3 was different from that envisaged in 19.7, for the king was now faced with a 'great multitude' (v2). In this chapter we are able to observe Jehoshaphat under pressure. Consider:
(v1-5) The Attitude
In the face of certain conflict, Jehoshaphat responded in a way befitting his restored character - he engaged in immediate and collective prayer (v4). Naturally speaking, the situation was impossible, however, being conscious of this he sought divine (and supernatural) help. When faced with opposition from the enemy, the early Christians were to do the same - Acts 1.14; 4.23, 24; 12.5. Is this our attitude to difficulties?
(v6-12) The Approach
As king, Jehoshaphat took the lead in praying to the Lord. Unlike a formal recital of words, he actually expressed what was in his heart1. Consider some of the features:
Reverence (v6) - Similar to the prayer of Jeremiah recorded in Jeremiah 32.17, Jehoshaphat was careful in the words he used to address God, 'O Lord God'.
Recognition (v6b) - the king was conscious that the One addressed in prayer was the 'God in heaven', the Omnipotent One. Having a proper view of God will inevitably influence how we pray.
Review (v7-ll) - Jehoshaphat knew the past dealings of God with Israel, and on the basis of past experiences, he was confident in his approach. Moreover, knowing that the land was 'Thy (the Lord's) possession' (v11), Jehoshaphat argued that the land could not be given up lightly. The more we know the Word of God the more confident we will be and the more effective will our prayers be.
Realisation (v12) - totally dependent upon the Lord, and, more importantly, aware of it!
Representation (v13) - the whole nation was at the prayer meeting!2
(v14-17; 22-29) The Answer
First, by the mouth of Jehaziel and then confirmed in reality, the Lord delivered the enemy into the hands of Judah. Although the-promise was given, v17, the nation was sufficiently strong in faith to believe (v20). Recall the important phrase of James 1.6: 'nothing wavering'. Is this characteristic of our prayers? Again we quote the truthful words of C.H. Mackintosh: 'It is greatly to be feared that many of our so-called prayers never go beyond the ceiling of the room. In order to reach the throne of God, they must be borne on the wings of faith' (Treasury, 1987, p.464).
(v18-21) The Appreciation
Similar to the one leper in Lk.17.15, upon hearing the answer, the nation was quick to thank the Lord. Initially the response was one of worship (v18), but this was soon followed with singing (v21). Perhaps there is something significant in the order: first genuine devotion (worship and praise) and then expression of that devotion by song. Notice the same order throughout the Psalms, e.g. Ps.28.7.
(e) 2 Chronicles 20.35-37: A Forgetful King
The union mentioned in 2Chron.20.35 defies belief: 'Jehoshaphat king of Judah join(ed) himself with Ahaziah king of Israel'. Surely one who witnessed the pain of compromise and the joy of restoration would never repeat the same sin, he did! Ahaziah, the son of Ahab (1Kgs.22.51), was not worthy of such a union for the phrase, 'did very wickedly,' must surely refer to Ahaziah. Also 1Kgs.22.53 records that 'he (Ahaziah) served Baal, and worshipped him, and provoked to anger the Lord God of Israel, according to all that his father had done'. Jehoshaphat, like his father before, was sadly characterised by inconsistency for, notwithstanding the great exploits of 2Chron.l9,20 he still succumbed to the weakness of compromise. Worse still, in 2Kgs.3.6-7 Jehoshaphat actually joined with Ahab's grandson, Jehoram!
Whilst there may be some difficulty in reconciling the two events recorded in 1Kgs.22.49 and 2Chron.20.35-37, are two separate events recorded or is it the one event with two interpretations? The truth still remains that Jehoshaphat had real difficulty in saying NO to the opposition. Surely we must learn from the past, Rom.15.4, and avoid the problems that inevitably arise when we compromise with the enemy.
Therefore, in looking at the character of Jehoshaphat there is much to commend him, both as a king and as a servant of the Lord. Sadly, any spiritual progress was somewhat blurred by his associations with Israel. We admire his determination to propagate the Word throughout the nation but mourn his inconsistency to maintain the standard for God.
Some people pray: others say prayers. C.H. Mackintosh, 'How often are our prayers more like orations than petitions, more like statements of doctrine than utterances of need! (The Mackintosh Treasury, 1987, p.461).
'The healthy, happy, earnest, diligent soul will be sure to be found at the prayer meeting.' (The Mackintosh Treasury, 1987, p.467).
by The Late W. W. Fereday (written in 1897/98) VOLUME 2
12(a)?Christ's Millennial Reign
In our consideration of future judgments and glories, we have now arrived at that happy and glorious period which has been the theme of the Holy Spirit almost since the world began ? the millennial reign of the Second Man, our Lord Jesus Christ. At various times, and in many ways, has the Spirit of God spoken of that epoch in the Scriptures of the Old Testament. Sometimes He presents us with a striking picture which, by the light of later revelations, the instructed mind cannot fail to understand; as for example, the appearing of Melchizedek, King of Righteousness, and King of Peace in Gen.14. On other occasions, we find Psalmists breaking forth into rapturous song, and depicting in glowing strains the glorious time that is coming for this poor sin-stricken earth; and later, especially in the days of Israel's declension and ruin, we find the Prophets borne along by the Spirit of God, and sublimely describing the glories and blessedness of the same wondrous period. Not that all who thus spoke fully understood their own utterances. They were frequently carried far beyond what their own minds could enter into. As we read in 1Pet.1.11, "Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that should follow." But whether Moses, Psalmists or Prophets wrote, it was one Spirit speaking through all, for the rest and joy of faith, and for the warning of the ungodly.
Our present subject is immense, and, if fully considered, would require a considerable volume to itself. As this cannot well be, and as it is important to be concise, we propose to deal with the coming millennium in the following order. We will endeavour to show what that glorious time means:?
For the Heavenly Saints.
For the Nations of the Earth.
For the Creation in General.
1. It will be the hour of Christ's supremacy as Man, not only over the heavenly part of the inheritance of God, but over the earthly also. This consideration should make it clear to every mind that there can be no millennial blessing until Christ comes. It used to be vaguely thought by many that the millennium will run its course prior to His appearing; His coming for judgment being placed by such expositors at the close of that period. But a Christless millennium is, to say the least, a very unsatisfactory idea, not at all sustained by the Word of God. If any of our readers has any doubt as to this important point, we earnestly beg them to consider carefully
Acts 3.19-21. We quote from the revised Version: "Repent ye therefore, and turn again that your sins may be blotted out (it is Peter's appeal to Israel), that so there may come seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send the Christ who hath been appointed for you, even Jesus: whom the heavens must receive until the times of restoration of all things, whereof God spake by the mouth of His holy Prophets which have been since the world began." This shows that Christ will remain in the heavens until the hour of Israel's repentance, and then will appear for universal blessing. His coming is therefore clearly pre-millennial.
The foregoing passage refers, of course, to the earth only. To understand the full glory of that day, Eph.1.9,10, should be consulted. "Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, for the administration of the fulness of times; to head up all things in the Christ the things in the heavens and the things upon the earth." (J. N. Darby's translation). Here we learn that God intends to make Christ the Head and Centre of a united system of heavenly and earthly glory. Everything is to be His. God has made known to us beforehand what His will and pleasure is, because of our connection, through grace, with Him who is to inherit it all.
Ps.8 will then receive its full accomplishment. The Son of man there spoken of is not Adam, but Christ. The divine purpose is there declared to set Him over all the works of God's hand. The first man had this grant of power from God, Gen. 1.26-28, but failed to act for His glory. He sold himself into the hand of the enemy, and became his tool and slave. When the Second Man takes up the reins of universal government in God's due time, He will glorify God perfectly, and bring in full blessing for all beneath His sway.
Perhaps the earthly glory that is in store for Christ is not sufficiently thought of by the saints at large. It is, of course, thoroughly believed and understood that He has present glory in heaven, and every redeemed soul owns gladly that He is worthy of it; but His future glory in the earth has not the place it should have in the minds of many. Yet it is due to Him as an answer to His humiliation below. It is not sufficient that He is glorified in heaven. He never was dishonoured there. But it is a perfect delight to those who love His name that He is to be glorified and adored in the very scene of His rejection and shame. God will see to this. Here where His royal claims were scorned, every knee shall bow to Him; here where He was reviled and insulted, every tongue will confess Him Lord to the glory of God the Father. His Name shall be excellent in all the earth.
After all man's failure and sin, it is a relief to the heart to know that God has a Man in store to whom He can entrust universal dominion, and who will use it for His glory. The house of David, for whom God intended supremacy in the earth, miserably failed in the person of its choicest representative; the first great Gentile head (Nebuchadnezzar) to whom power was divinely entrusted after the failure of David's house, misused his might and authority; but God has One in reserve Who will succeed gloriously where they and all others have painfully failed.
The kingdom of Christ will be brought in by power and judgment. It is vain to cling to the notion of a peaceful subjugation of the whole world by means of the Gospel. Scripture nowhere countenances the idea, though, blessed be God, it everywhere proposes blessing for all, if they believe the Gospel. Ps.45 vividly describes the coming of Christ to reign: "Gird Thy sword upon Thy thigh, O most mighty, with Thy glory and Thy majesty. And in Thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness: and Thy right hand shall teach Thee terrible things. Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the King's enemies; whereby the people fall under Thee," v3-5. This is not Gospel progress, but unsparing judgment of enemies. David and Solomon together typify Christ in His reign. The first was a man of war. He was ever shedding the blood of his enemies, with the result that his son succeeded to a peaceful throne, and was enabled to reign in rest and glory. Thus will it be in the day to come. "By fire and by His sword will the Lord plead with all flesh: and the slain of the Lord shall be many," Isa.66.16. Then peace will follow on a righteous ground.
Righteousness and peace, therefore, will be the two great characteristics of the reign of Christ. Melchizedek shows this typically. His personal name means king of righteousness, and the name of his city means peace, Heb.7.2. "Behold a King shall reign in righteousness ... and the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness, quiteness and assurance for ever," Isa.1-17. Evil will be promptly put down, instead of being borne with in long-suffering as now, Isa.65.20, and peace will flow universally. Righteousness will then be exalted, and iniquity will hide its head.
In our former considerations of the house in Prov.9, we have noted the CONSTRUCTION of the house, and now we come to:
THE CONFLICTS IN THE HOUSE:
While Prov.9.1 shows us the seven pillars of CONSTRUCTION, 6.16-19 bring to our attention seven things which will be the cause of CONFLICTS in the House. These can also be seen in 3 John.
1. Proud look.
Loving to have the pre-eminence
2. Lying tongue
3. Hands that shed innocent blood
Their Assassination (Spiritual)
4. Heart that deviseth wicked imaginations.
Not content therewith.
5. Feet that be swift in running to mischief.
6. False witness that speaketh lies
Casts them out of the church
7. He that soweth discord among brethren
Prating against us
Taken with Acts 20 we can find the grievous wolves. Anything that does not spare the flock is a wolf. Perhaps these are the beasts in Prov.9.2 that need to be killed!
COURAGE IN THE HOUSE:
Conflict is to be met by courage. Could we see courage in the 'mingling of the wine,' v2? This is not a weakening process but a strengthening one. We do well to ask what is it that makes the Christian strong and courageous? In 2Chron.l7 we have Jehoshaphat, a man who strengthened himself against Ahab. Our thoughts also go to Eph.6.10-20, where we find the command to be 'strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.' The whole armour of God is at our disposal, but it must be put on. It is again worthy of note that there are seven parts to this armour. In our consideration of these things we can learn some spiritual lessons that should help us to strengthen ourselves in order to fight the foes coming against us. We make use of strength already provided as we lean upon Christ. It is always a great encouragement to know that the feeblest saints can find themselves 'Strong in the Lord.'
'The Girdle of truth' We note Jehoshaphat was a 'WISE MAN' in that, 'he placed forces in all the fenced cities of Judah, and set garrisons in the land of Judah, and in the cities of Ephraim.' Is this not in N.T. language, putting on the 'Girdle of truth'? Truth heard, received and practised as we have in Eph.1.13. We love to see David also putting on the girdle of truth as he takes off Saul's armour and puts on his shoulder the shepherd's bag containing five smooth stones chosen from the brook, and taking his sling in his hand, goes forth to meet Goliath, ISam.17.40. It was a force that proved too great for the giant yet one which the giant despised.
It is striving lawfully, 2Tim.2.5. It is to be Caleb-like, wholly following the Lord with that single eye of sincerity and truth, Num.32.11.
Take truth away from character and no man can stand. If the vessel be not clean then everything entering it becomes contaminated. Take truth from society and you are left with a jumble of unrealities without support or firmness.
'Breastplate of righteousness.' At the moment of conversion Divine righteousness is imputed to the believing sinner and the issue is a righteous life. Joseph had on the breastplate of righteousness when he fled from that wicked woman, Gen.39.12. It was Joseph's concern that he should behave in a manner approved by God. When we obey Christ we always obey conscience.
In Jehoshaphat we again must note that not only was he a wise man but he was a 'WORK MAN'. We read of fenced cities. For the child of God there must be the fence (wall) of separation from all that is evil whether it be moral or doctrinal. Like Timothy the good soldier, being strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, is a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, having purged himself from all that is evil and following after righteousness, 2Tim.2.1,3,15.
Thus we should constantly aim at exhibiting righteousness in the home, business, and every aspect of life.
'Feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace.' Most argue that 'Preparedness' is the better word. Here we get something for the feet as the march begins. Paul could say, "I am ready to preach the gospel," Rom.1.15. The servant with the Gospel is the servant with a full Gospel which is not another, Gal.1.6. This is again illustrated in Jehoshaphat in that he was a 'WATCH MAN,' ? he set garrisons. Likewise Paul's feet did not stray from the path of the Gospel. For him the garrisons were set, the shoes were on his feet. How blessed it is to be in defence of the Gospel, Phil.1.7. Some may think it is only the evangelist in view, but we know that never has a battle been won by officers alone ? the part played by the soldier has always been vital. The world still needs the army of Christian soldiers whose feet are shod with the readiness of the Gospel of peace.
'The shield of faith.' The faith. All of unbelief set aside. Is this not the shield the Apostle Paul held forth in Acts 17.22-31. Seeing the altar with the inscription to THE UNKNOWN GOD' he immediately preached the God he knew and the God that sinners need! Another picture comes from Jehoshaphat which again is the mark of the strong and true soldier of Christ. 'He took away the high places,' He is now a 'WAR LIKE MAN' removing that which is not of God. Thus our only defence is 'Faith in God' and this shield cannot fail. Heb.ll presents us with a great list of heroes taking the shield of faith to subdue kingdoms and to obtain promises. It enabled them to stop the mouths of lions and quench the violence of fire. Let us arise to duty in this a dark day though the danger is great. Like a Gideon seeking by the help of God to throw down those altars of Baal, to quench all the fiery darts of the Devil, and make sure we build up the altar unto the Lord, Jdgs.6.25,26.
'The helmet of salvation' "For by grace are ye saved," Eph.2.8. Such is the teaching of Holy Scripture concerning the knowledge of salvation. Just to know that I shall not come into condemnation. In Jn.5.24, we find five precious truths and among them is knowing that I am saved. These are 'Hearing'; 'believing'; 'Receiving', (Hath); then the one we are dealing with 'Knowing', (Shall not come); and finally 'Enjoying', (Is passed). Often it is said and it is verily true, the Work of Christ makes us safe while His Word makes us sure. Satan will always attack the Word. God said to our first parents;-'Thou shalt surely die,' but Satan replied Thou shalt not surely die,' Gen.2.17;3.4. God says by grace are ye saved through faith. Satan may cause some to doubt it. Those who publicly handle the Word of God, whether to saved or unsaved, have the great responsibility to be clear in their preaching, lest they add to the confusion, giving Satan fertile soil in which to work. Timothy could look back to childhood days when he was well taught though still a sinner, 2Tim.3.15. he sat under good preachers. After conversion he sat under a good teacher. We note this important feature seen in Jehoshaphat. He sent teachers, 17.7-9. he was a 'WELL TAUGHT MAN.' It is a great privilege to be well taught in the things of God and, in our day, there is a great need for such Christians. Without the assurance of the Word of God there will be no helmet of salvation. No one can fight for Christ who is not loyal to Christ and His truth.
'The sword of the Spirit.' This is the spoken Word. Again we turn to King Jehoshaphat. 'He built castles in Judah, and cities of store,' 17.12. It is easy to note now that he was a 'WEALTHY MAN.' Brethren, can we draw the sword of the Spirit? The Word of God must first be in before it can come out. Had Ruth not gleaned she would have had nothing to take up, Ruth 2.18,19. Are we wealthy when it comes to the sword of the Spirit?
Ezk.37. The true prophet comes with the Word of God. There is a noise ? he has something that will stir the soul and there is a shaking ? something that will cause the soul to tremble. He is very conscious that these souls have been in furnace conditions in Babylon. Not alone dry but very dry.
Living in Babylon will dry the soul. His message is one of matter ? breathing breath into the soul and bringing bones and putting them upon the sinews, flesh, skin. He begins with a note of encouragement in spite of prevailing circumstances resulting from long captivity. The Lord has asked, "Can these bones live"? The prophet answers, "O Lord thou knowest." He is a man who believes in the power of the Word. Ye shall live.
The bones coming together would remind us of the fractures that have occurred in Israel, now to be healed. Many are the fractures and divisions among God's people today as a result of worldly pursuits just like Israel with years spent in Babylon and the only remedy for recovery is the sword of the spirit. The sinews tell us of strength, thus no more weakness or fainting. Spend long enough away from God and the soul becomes dry and the saint weak. The flesh reminds us of support as they now receive wholesome food and so there are no more famine conditions. The honey and the milk are not found in Babylon. The skin teaches us of safety. For Israel it is now no more open shame, they are once again protected from the corrupt and foul conditions of Babylon. The medical profession will warn about the danger of broken skin in relation to infection. Hence in the spiritual realm the importance of the skin. The breath takes our attention to satisfaction, there are no more graves. Israel in Babylon was to become like Sardis, Rev.3 having a name to live and yet to be dead and fruitless.
When it comes to the preaching of the Gospel there should never be departure from the sword of the Spirit to other things which can only be termed as worthless. Without the Holy Spirit, a sermon, or any innovation of man, will lack the noise to stir and the power to shake. We must see the effects of the message and its results. Hence the 'Sword of the Spirit.'
'Praying always.' Jehoshaphat sought the Lord. Here is a 'WAITING MAN.' Daniel was one such man, as was Elijah. These waiting men are for our encouragement, Jms.5.17. Fight for God and you will find the need for earnest prayer. When the battle rages you ought surely to begin to pray and that in all seasons. Jacob's wrestling meant he had the power with God.
These are the things that strengthen, and give safety in the midst of the spiritual battles.
I had the great unspeakable privilege of being born into a Christian home. I am thankful for a father and mother who put the salvation of their family in first place. We were taken along to all the Gospel meetings within driving distance of our home and I cannot remember a time in my life when I did not know that I needed to be saved. The coming of the Lord was the thing that troubled me most and many a time I wakened up at night thinking that the great event had taken place and that I was left for the judgment of God, Being healthy, I never thought much about death, thinking like the rich farmer in Lk.12, that I had many years!
At the age of nine, my twin sister, who went to be with the Lord nine years later, got saved. I will never forget her getting into the car and throwing her arms around our mother, saying, "Mummy, I got saved in the meeting." This was a loud voice to me as now I was the only one in the family not saved. I longed to be saved that night but these thoughts soon slipped past. On the farm we often cut down the thorn hedges and at night burned the thorns. On these occasions I went close to the fire thinking, "what must hell be like?"
On Lord's Day, 19th February, 1967, after the Gospel meeting without a thought about my precious soul, I was going upstairs to my bedroom when my brother Robert took me by the arm and said "If the Lord comes tonight you will be left behind with the farm and all that belongs to it." These words struck terror to my heart and as I lay down in bed my sin and guilt before a Holy God rose up before me and sleep left me. I had to have this great matter settled. The devil had put into my mind years before that salvation was so easy ? only "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved," and that when I wanted to get saved I would just do that. But it was not like that at all. That night I was as dark as a sinner could be. I tried to believe and waited but nothing happened.
After some time I went downstairs to speak to my father hoping that he could help me, although I knew that he could not save me. I remember well, he read to me some verses and tried to explain God's way of Salvation to me, but it seemed to become more difficult than ever. Finally he looked at me with tears rolling down my face and said "I will pray with you and then we will both go to bed." After he prayed he went to his bedroom to cry to God for the salvation of his boy, whilst I stayed in the kitchen determined that I would not go to bed until I knew my sins were forgiven.
I sat there reading again and again the well known verses but I seemed to be in total darkness. At last, exhausted and weary, the thought came to my mind, "you will never be saved," and I trembled at this thought as I saw before me only the flames of hell for ever and ever. In desperation I watched the tears fall to the page of my father's open Bible and thought there won't be even a drop of water to cool my tongue. In this moment of extremity my thoughts were turned to the work of Christ on the cross. I thought, "why did He die?" and immediately the words of Is.53.6 came before me, "the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all." At that moment I realised that the finished work of Christ on the cross had satisfied the just demands of a sin-hating God and was enough to meet my great need and I simply trusted Him as my Saviour. What a relief to know that my sins were all forgiven and that I would never find myself in hell.
Two years later I was baptised and received into the assembly in Clogh, Co. Antrim, where more and more I learned to value the great privilege of being gathered to the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ in separation from all the sects and systems of men. I soon began to take part in the meetings in a simple way and as the years passed the assembly of God's people meant everything to me.
In July 1977 I was married, and together with my wife, our heart's desire was to give God and the assembly our very best. At this stage we had no thought whatever of being in full time service for God. We looked up to the Lord's servants as being giants in the faith and held them in the highest esteem. When the brethren invited me to be responsible for a month of speakers, in fear and trembling I took on this task; but this was something that brought us much joy and pleasure. It was our delight to have the preachers in our home and gradually I became bold enough to approach some of the Lord's Workers in other lands, and so it was a special delight to have a visit from a missionary brother.
In July 1984 I was introduced to Mr. John McCann (senior) at Bleary Conference and so I took the opportunity to invite him for a Lord's Day in Clogh, also a report meeting. He willingly came and stayed with us for a few days. During this time we took our esteemed brother and sister for a little drive round the Antrim coast, but I will never forget how, sitting together in the car, Mr. McCann began to tell us about the Work of the Lord in Brazil. It was all so interesting but he finished up by saying, "you should be exercised about going to help, you should pray about it!" Now that was the farthest thing in my mind and I was shocked, mainly that he should seem to think that a simple young man like I could even count it a possibility of ever being a missionary! I was afraid to pray concerning this just in case it would all work out and I would find myself in a foreign land with a foreign language to learn! However the seed was sown in my heart and the thoughts of the need in Brazil never left me from that day on.
After much exercise before the Lord I did begin to pray about my life and what God would have me to do, and strangely found it very easy to pray about Brazil. Unknown to me my wife was going through the same experience. Many a time I stopped and thought, "here I am building houses and at the same time thousands dying in their sins!" This alarmed me and the burden got heavier as time went past.
It happened that around this time I received an excellent proposal in my work as a builder which brought me to a "crossroads" as I could see clearly it was either this or Brazil. I knew that I could never do it and the Will of the Lord at the same time. On Friday that same week the brother who came to take the children's meeting was in our home. Burdened and weary, I poured out my heart to that dear godly brother who spoke wisely to me and was able to help me from his own experience. We prayed together and after he left I was on my knees before God asking for help ? afraid of going back, and at the same time afraid of going forward in obedience! I felt that if I refused to go to Brazil I could never ask the Lord for guidance again. That night I made up my mind ? if the Lord opens up the way, I will go. What a joy filled my soul that moment I bowed to His will ? the joy of obedience. The next morning at the front door of our home the thought came to me, "how could you ever go to a mission field?" At that moment the words of Phil.4.13 came straight to my heart, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." These words were a stay to me then and many times since.
I will never forget the night I made my exercise known to my brethren in Clogh. With tears in his eyes one dear brother said, "Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it." They, with four neighbouring assemblies, were happy to commend us. The following year our visas were granted and a couple bought our house and all the contents without any advertisement. After eight years seeking to serve God in Rio Grande do Sul, we can only say that "God is faithful", and the prayers and fellowship of the people of God have been a tremendous encouragement along the way.
Many imply, at least by their actions, that if a deed done remains undetected and unknown to others, it is permissible The cry is, "Cover up1 Do not let it be known1 Keep it a secret1" To achieve this many lies are told, deceit is rampant, bribery and corruption are involved and a web is spun to make it difficult to untangle the truth from the lies
If men are so worried about the disclosure of their activity, it is undeniable proof that their consciences are smiting them Yet there is an anomaly If it is a great discomfort to have sin exposed to their fellows, why are these men not squirming with raging embarrassment when it is known to a thrice holy God Nothing can be hidden from Him Everything will eventually be brought out into the open Heb 4.13, "Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do " Ps 90.8, "Thou hast set our iniquities before Thee, our secret sins in the light of Thy countenance " Prov 15.3, "The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good " In spite of this truth men still try to cover their sin God declares, "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper, Prov 28.13 Our first parents, Adam and Eve, tried to cover sin in the garden of Eden, Gen 3.7, "they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons " In the presence of God they discovered this covering was insufficient, thus Adam, while wearing the aprons, said to God, "I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and hid myself," Gen 3.10
It would be a wholesome thing for the reader to ask "What covering have I9 How can I meet the gaze of God7" Many try to produce their own covering Some try religion, others good works or philosophy etc, but let God's voice be heard, "Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of Me, and that cover with a covering, but not of My spirit, that they may add sin to sin " Is 30.1
Wherein is a proper covering to be found9 It must be somewhere because the Psalmist states, "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered " Ps 32 1 Is 61 10 records, "I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God, for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness " Note two matters in these verses which are exceptionally important Firstly the covering is linked with forgiveness, and secondly it is something accomplished by God No man can forgive sins, since every man has many of his own How can a holy God forgive our sins and give us a covering which will protect us eternally from His holy eye9 Let us consider two precious verses, Eph 2.7, "In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace, Acts 13 38, "through this Man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins " It can only be accomplished on the basis of the death and sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, God's well beloved Son "Without shedding of blood is no remission," Heb 9 22 His death has satisfied God's righteous requirements and allows God to fully forgive sins and take the forgiven sinners at last to heaven If we return to God in true repentance, by faith we will hear Him say, "Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it, and let us eat, and be merry " Lk 15.22-23