Let us now contrast some particular points in the closing scenes of “judges” with what we have already considered in its opening verses. To begin with, we shall note one marked difference between Samson, the last deliverer, and Caleb, the first leader mentioned in the book. Samson's history opens with his falling in love with a daughter of the Philistines (14. 1). That he loved the Lord we cannot doubt, for he was a Nazarite, the Spirit of God had begun to “move” him, and his name is enrolled among the heroes of faith in Heb. 11. Yet at the very beginning of his career his parents had to remonstrate with him because of his affection for this heathen woman. Samson began with a divided heart—an ominous beginning surely, and one which ultimately ruined his testimony for God. Physically he was the strongest of all the deliverers, morally he turned out to be the weakest. What a contrast there is therefore between him and Caleb of chapter 1—Caleb, the “whole-hearted,” who has gone down in history as the man who “wholly followed the Lord!”
We come now to the close, or almost to the close, of Samson's chequered history. It is only to find, alas, that the blandishments of a vile woman proved stronger than all the motives of his high calling and consecration. He had long trifled with temptation, played fast and loose with sin, tried how close he could sail to the wind, and now he must pay the price of his folly, and a fearful price it was. His infatuation for Delilah cost him his Nazarite locks, and the scissors that sheared him of them also sheared him of the secret of his supernatural strength. “He wist not that the Lord had departed from him" (16. 20). He who had been strong for God now became the sport of the Philistines. He before whom his enemies were wont to tremble was now their laughing-stock. He who had been raised up to deliver Israel had now to pray for deliverance himself. He whose name signifies “sunlike" must now end his days in blindness and darkness. Three words, as has well been said, sum up his degradation—“Binding-Blinding-Grinding.” Poor, dear, Samson!
“Eyeless, in Gaza, at a mill with slaves!”
Truly the world's bed of roses is more to be dreaded than the martyr's rack.
“The Lord was departed from him.” How sadly the words contrast with chapter 1.19: “The Lord was with Judah!” There, victory, joy, health and prosperity were the happy fruit; here, defeat, slavery, shame, remorse, and a premature death the bitter results. Alas, many a spiritual Samson, who in early life was a power for God, has at last mourned the like results of departure from the living God. We know of no more pitiable sight. Well may we pray, “If Thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence” (Exodus 33. 15).
We shall now consider some conditions obtaining in the nation itself. It will be observed that the most aggressive tribes in the last eight chapters are Dan and Benjamin, just as Ephraim figured prominently in the conflict of chapter 5 (being the first tribe named, see v. 14), and in asserting her tribal rights in chapters 8 and 12. Yet God's order, clearly stated in chapter 1 was, “Judah first.” That this ever was His order we learn from Gen. 49. 10 : “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah . . . until Shiloh come.” Accordingly when the people prayed in Judges 20. 18, saying, “Which of us shall go up first to the battle?” the Lord gave the same answer as in chapter 1—“Judah shall go up first”—and it is so in Numbers 2. 9 and Zech. 12. 7, as we have already seen. It is surprising however to notice how little part Judah took in the nation’s warfare through the book, which, of course, gave these other tribes opportunity to satisfy their ambitions for place and power. Judah is one of the few tribes, for example, to which no tribute is paid in the great battle song of chapter 5, and after Othniel (3. 8-11) she provided no national deliverer until the time of David. That Judah lacked initiative in filling her God-given role after the glorious victories she achieved in chapter 1, is certainly sad. It is still sadder, however, that in chapter 15. 11 the nation’s bondage to the Philistines was treated by her as a mere matter of course (“Knowest thou not that the Philistines are rulers over us?”) and that three thousand men of Judah actually united to bind the Lord’s deliverer to hand him over to their enemies. This surely is lamentable. Alas, “how are the mighty fallen !” The beginning of this shameful and deplorable betrayal of Israel’s interests can be traced to chapter 1.19, where “Judah . . . could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.” Why this “could not?” Was it due to numerical inferiority? No, for in chapter 4 the Lord gave Barak and his feeble remnant victory over 900 of these “chariots of iron.” We can only conclude therefore that, like the “could not” of Hebrews 3. 19 and Mark 9. 18, it was one of unbelief. Indeed, unbelief was the root cause of all the failure which is so characteristic of the epoch we are considering.
Another contrast has to do with the place prayer was given in the nation’s life. The forty years of Philistine oppression of chapter 13. 1 must have been a heavy burden upon Israel. Yet throughout that period we read not of any cry to God for deliverance. That this was quite unusual in the experience of the people a reading of the earlier chapters will show. Though they had so often forgotten God and sunk into idolatry, the galling yoke of servitude to their enemies had invariably turned their hearts to the Lord in earnest prayer for deliverance. Indeed, the expression, “The children of Israel cried unto the Lord”, occurs in those chapters at least six times (3. 9, 15; 4. 3; 6. 6, 7; 10. 10), and never once did they cry in vain. Now, however, no cry is heard. We are not even told that Samson’s birth had been prayed for, as was Samuel’s a little later, and throughout Samson’s entire judgeship of twenty years we read but twice of his calling upon the Lord for help, and then only because of his extreme need (15. 18; 16. 28). Joshua upon his appointment had been enjoined to “stand before Eleazer the priest, who shall ask counsel for him . . . before the Lord” (Num. 27. 21). In “Judges,” however, Israel is but once said to have done so (20. 27, 28), which indeed is the only time God’s high priest is referred to in its pages. What a change of attitude this prayerlessness was from that of the pristine days of chapter 1, when the people would not move or lift a sword until they had first inquired of the Lord!
One very regretful result of the low spiritual state into which the people had now fallen was that “every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (17. 6; 21. 25), upon which melancholy note, without any sign of national repentance, the book closes. No authoritative rule was recognised, for no less than four times in the two appendix stories we are reminded that “in those days there was no king in Israel” (17. 6; 18. 1; 19. 1; 21. 25). Every man therefore was a law unto himself and did his own sweet will. Self-pleasing was the order of the day. Yet Moses had warned the nation against this very sin in Deut. 12. 8, saying, “Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatever is right in his own eyes”, and had indicated that the path to blessing lay in doing ((that which is right in the sight of the Lord” (vv. 25, 28). Now, however, the words of Moses were forgotten, as also was their own solemn, thrice repeated, vow of Joshua 24. 18, 21, 24, and a shameful laxity in regard to both morals and worship increasingly manifested itself. The nation became wicked and licentious. The fear of the Lord was discarded, Divine restraint thrown off, and the requirements of law openly violated and flouted, the very grandson of the great law-giver being a leader in the apostasy (18. 30, 31, R.V.). Thus the covenant people which should have been a shining testimony for God sank to the most debasing and disgusting depths of crime, immorality, and idolatry, which, as another has said, “the pen almost blushes to record”—depths utterly nauseating to the holiness of God. “Yet had you gone to any of those Israelites, after all the bloodshed and rapine was over, each would have said, ‘I at least have done what was right.’ It is this that is left in our ears as the last word, ‘Everyone had done what was right in his own eyes.’ Micah was right in his ‘pious' idolatry; his mother was right in her fellowship with this; the Danites were right in all their cruel ways, for did they not desire religious instruction for a tribe; the tribes were right in all their ways, in swearing oaths—right in evading them— everyone is right. Everyone has a quiet conscience, which is by no means equivalent to a good one. So shall it be to-day—much light, much knowledge, much boasting in principles that lead into direct conflict with God's Word—much ‘silver’ given for pious idolatry—all going in opposite directions, and yet all perfectly right in their own eyes; all equally confident that the fault lies with someone else—and all claiming this to be right to the very end” (F. C. Jennings). How sadly, O how sadly, this last verse contrasts with the first verse of “Judges,” where in their sincere and ardent desire to do what was right in God's eyes the children of Israel waited upon Him for their marching orders.
There is a beautiful combination of majesty and simplicity in chapter four which prepares the reader for the further scenes in Heaven described in chapter five. The vision of the eternal Throne and its ineffable Occupant provides the fitting background for the glorious Personality Who now appears to fill all Heaven with song and the universe with praise. The movements are four :—
I. A Scroll is seen (v. 1). The seven-sealed parchment written within and without, seen in the hand of the august Throne-sitter, has been described by some as containing “God’s counsels for the earth,” and by others as being “the title deeds of earth.” The two ideas to the writer seem to be inseparable. The purposes of God concentrate upon a world invaded by sin and usurped by an evil Prince, and yet redeemed by the blood of God’s eternal Son (John 12. 31,32). We are to see how the reconciling values of Christ’s death are to be applied in a rebellious world (Col. 1. 20,21). The connection between the Scroll and the Sacrifice of the rightful Heir and King is emphatic in the context (vv. 5, 6). The events disclosed by the opening of the Seals and the subsequent Trumpet judgments all head up in the assumption of world-power by earth’s true Proprietor (11. 5-19). C/f Psalm 22. 28. “All authority” is vested in our Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 28. 18), and all territory is given to Him (Psalm 2. 6-9). The exercise of His authority at this time will introduce “THE DAY OF VENGEANCE of our God” (Compare Luke 4. 19/20; Isaiah 61. 2). “The acceptable year of the Lord” will have concluded while the solemn prelude to Christ’s subjection of the nations will be introduced. The final episode in this “day of vengeance” is vividly portrayed in ch. 19. 11-21, where the final and decisive battle with “the beast, the kings of the earth and their armies” will be fought and won by the King of kings and Lord of lords (19. 16). The removal of all subversive and rebellious elements will thus precede that glorious reign in righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ.
II. A Search is made (v. 2). An angelic voice next penetrates every sphere of the intelligent universe, making inquiry as to the handling and opening of the shut book. John's tears bear witness to his deep concern that no one in celestial, terrestrial or infernal regions can answer the challenge, “Who is worthy to open the book and to loose the seals thereof.'’ Worthiness and ability are seen to be the necessary qualifications.
III. A Solution is found (v. 5). John's fears and tears are needless, for one of the glorified company (an elder, 5. 5 and 4. 4) speak reassuringly to his heart, “Weep not, behold the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book and to loose the seven seals thereof." “And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And He came and took the book out of the hand of Him that sat upon the throne." Here is One qualified by every conceivable standard to take the Scroll from the right hand of the Majesty on High and execute all its solemn obligations. His prerogative is upheld by four important considerations found in this context.
His RIGHTS can be traced in the annals of prophecy. The title “The Lion of the tribe of Judah" has its origin in the prophecy of Jacob (Gen. 49. 9-10), where the Sceptre is linked with the strength of the Lion, “which turneth not away for any" (Prov. 30. 30), as well as with the Prince of Peace— Shiloh. The prevailing Lamb is the promised One of Old Testament revelation.
His RIGHTS can be traced to His royal lineage— “The Root of David." The throne-rights of Israel's Kingdom were given to David’s house (1 Sam. 7. 8-13) and yet here they are shown to derive from David’s Lord, Who is first “the Root of David", ere He condescends to be his “Offspring" (Rev. 22. 16; Matt. 22. 41-46). The promise made at the annunciation of Christ's birth has NEVER BEEN FULFILLED AND CANNOT BE FULFILLED until ISRAEL becomes AGAIN A MONARCHY and the THRONE OF DAVID is occupied by its final and abiding King. “The Lord shall give unto Him THE THRONE OF HIS FATHER DAVID" (Luke 1. 38). To deny to Israel a blessed and glorious future, as some do to-day, is flatly to contradict this prediction of the angel Gabriel.
His RIGHTS can be traced in His exalted station. No symbolism could more effectively nor eloquently show the greatness, the dignity and authority of this Royal-Divine Personage. He is seen in the midst of the Eternal Throne, in the midst of the living ones, and in the midst of the glorified saints in Heaven. Earth must concede what Heaven has already granted.
His RIGHTS must be traced to His Redemptive Conquest. The One whom John saw appears in sacrificial character, and He has OVERCOME to open the seals—“A Lamb as it has been slain” (5. 6). This is the first of twenty-eight references in-this prophecy to our Lord as the “Lamb,” and it points directly to the abiding value of His death, with its immediate relation to the “reconciling of things on the earth.” “A Lamb as if slain” stands forth because He hath prevailed in death and over death, and now alive and almighty, He is prepared to implement the victory He has won. His perfect ability to do so is witnessed in the seven horns—complete power—and seven Spirits of God in whose complete energy and wisdom the counsels of God for this earth will be fulfilled. Once again Isaiah 11. 1-9 lends its confirmation.
IV. A Song is Sung (vv. 8-14). As the One who has the significant tokens of both the Victim and the Victor moves forward to take the Scroll His worthiness and praise are celebrated by three great widening circles. First, in the vicinity of the Throne the Living Ones unite with the Elders to sing the new song. Its terms are general and inclusive and indicate a vast host redeemed by the Lamb from all peoples, so that they may share the royal and priestly privileges of His Kingdom. (The R.V., v. 10 rightly introduces “they” and “them” in place of “us” and “we”). The Living creatures can therefore join in the song of the Redeemer’s worthiness though they have no personal part in the Redemption. The Elders only possess the harps and bowls, which no doubt symbolize the tuneful praise and prayerful worship of the redeemed and glorified company of reigning Priests, who shall celebrate the glories of their exalted Lord and King. See ch. 1. 5-6, and 8. 3-5.
A second circle of heavenly exultation takes in the vast angelic hosts. Myriads of these Messengers echo the words that extol the Worthy One, and ascribe unto Him the possession of sevenfold honours as His purchased right.
And a third and outer circle embracing the whole intelligent universe adds its fourfold ascription of praise to the Great Throne Sitter and to the Lamb for ever and ever. The “AMEN" (so be it) of the four Living Ones and the worshipful prostration of the Redeemed in glory form a fitting finish to a sublime passage. May we in turn have hearts and wills in full harmony with all God’s ways, expressing practically as well as verbally our glad AMENS, while in spirit we bow adoringly in His Presence and say—
Having been brought up in a Christian home where I was often told the need of salvation, I was privileged above many. This, however, did not make me a Christian, for as Scripture teaches, I was “a child of wrath, even as others.” There were times in early life when I longed to be saved, as thoughts of God and the great Eternity came before me. But my life from earliest days was marked by a strong desire for satisfaction. This led me into many awkward corners, and made me at times an unpleasant companion. When on special occasions my best chums were seemingly satisfied, I would get away by myself, unsatisfied, yet unable to explain why this should be, and certainly not looking to the only source from which true satisfaction could come.
After two years of apprenticeship in business the first world war was raging, and the urge for satisfaction getting the better of me, I joined the Army. That was in 1915. After some months of training I was discharged, as being under age. A local merchant then started me as an assistant. He proved a good master, but after a year in his employment I went back to the Army. Some time later the Irish regiment to which I belonged was transferred to England, and I found myself with thousands of others in Dorrington Camp, on the famous Salisbury Plain. While there I threw off any restraint that had hitherto held me, and except for drink, there were few avenues that I did not explore in search of satisfaction. But the God of all grace Who knew my need at times spoke loudly to me. Once, beside the ruins of Stonehenge, my Company had halted on a hill. We watched a second Company stopping in the valley some distance away. Two boys of this Company, against orders, began to examine a missile which had dropped on a nearby R.A.F. target. The missile suddenly exploded, and both chums died in the terrific explosion. God that day singled me out from that crowd and spoke to my conscience, for had I been one of those boys, and I might have been, my soul would have been in hell.
In the “Home away from Home”, beside the main road of our camp, controlled by a trophy of grace, known to thousands as “Happy Jim,” the Gospel was faithfully preached, and some look back to that as the place of their second birth. On one of the few occasions that I was there, I was really troubled about my soul. So much was I troubled indeed that I arose and walked out during the meeting, to pace up and down the camp road for a long time, trying to face eternal issues. The thought of the ungodly companions amongst whom I lived, however, proved too much for me, and at such a risk as I scarcely realised, I foolishly put all thoughts aside.
Early in November, 1918, I was granted leave of absence to visit my mother who was seriously ill, in the flu epidemic then raging. I arrived in Belfast on a Sunday evening, and when I had walked the 17 miles home, it was to find that she was unconscious. Late that night she went to be with her Saviour, and I then realised that I had lost my best earthly friend. In February, 1919, I was demobilised and returned home to assist my father in his shoe business. During the few years that followed I tried hard to settle down and live as a good citizen, but again and again I had to turn over a new leaf of good resolution, only to leave behind me a badly blotted one.
Early in 1924, Mr. John Hutchinson, a well-known evangelist, commenced special meetings in Dromore Gospel Hall. Being asked by my father to attend, the words of Eph. 6. 2 came to my mind : “Honour thy father and mother,” and I decided I would. I was careless enough at first, but after some nights the words of Eccles. 11. 9 came home to me with power: “Know that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.” Here was God's ultimatum to me, and there would be no escape. My days were now filled with soul trouble and the warning words of Gen. 6. 3 were forced in upon me : “My Spirit shall not always strive with man.” This awakened me to the fact that God might leave me to be doomed and damned.
On a never-to-be-forgotten April night, I went home from the meeting, fell on my knees at my bedside and cried to God to save me. My cry seemed unanswered, and as I arose to my feet I realised that indeed I was “without Christ, having no hope, and without God in the world.” I could only acknowledge that God would be just in sending me to hell. Standing there, lost and undone, I began to dwell upon Christ and His finished work. I saw that if there was not another sinner in the world He had to leave heaven, and come by way of Bethlehem to die for me at Calvary. With a heart broken by the love of God in Christ my Saviour, I kneeled again and for the first time in my life thanked God for giving His beloved Son for me. Peace with God brought with it the satisfaction I had so long sought. Now at the end of 37 years I can still truly sing, “Satisfied with Thee, Lord Jesus, I am blest”; and in closing I would say to every unsaved one who may read these lines :
The fact that prophetesses are mentioned in the Scriptures is often put forth as a justification for sisters preaching in public. It would be well to look at the passages concerned and see just how they exercised the prophetic gift.
MIRIAM (Ex. 15. 1, 2, 20, 21). Except for her murmuring against Moses in Numbers 12 this is the only utterance of Miriam recorded in the Bible. Moses and the children of Israel were singing a song of deliverance and the women, led by Miriam, answered them (masculine) in song. It was somewhat similar to the male part of a company singing the verse of a hymn, and the female section, the chorus. But in this case the song was inspired, for Moses and Miriam had the gift of prophecy. Thus she prophesied in song. We even read of prophesying with musical instruments in 1 Chronicles 25. 1.
DEBORAH (Judges 4. 4-7, 14; 5. 1). “Hath not the Lord commanded” (v. 6) denotes a prophetic utterance. She prophesied personally to Barak, passing on to him a command from the Lord and a word of encouragement (v. 14). In chapter 5, 1 she sings in company with Barak, and possibly with a multitude. It is another song of deliverance.
HULDAH (2 Kings 22. 10-20). “Thus saith the Lord” (v. 18), indicates prophecy and is the sole example of her use of the gift. Josiah, exercised by the reading of the Law, sent five messengers to enquire of the Lord. These go to the prophetess. She gave to them an answer for the king, confirming the threat of judgment but giving a promise of escape for the contrite Josiah.
NOHADIAH (Nehemiah 6. 14). Nothing is said of her exercise of the gift, but the company and circumstances are certainly not to her credit. There is nothing in her to emulate.
ISAIAH'S WIFE (Isaiah 8. 3). It is possible that “prophetess” here indicates no more than wife of the prophet. We read nothing of her prophesying.
ANNA (Luke 2. 36-38). We read of her fastings and prayers but this is the only example of her prophecy. She came into the temple when Simeon, a man in whom the Spirit wrought, was uttering his prophecy concerning the Child. She gave thanks for the Saviour and for salvation, and told the good news to all that waited for redemption in Jerusalem. These would be known to her personally, from her continued residence in the temple and she tells them of the fulfilment of their hopes.
PHILIP’S FOUR DAUGHTERS (Acts 21. 9-11). The fact of their being prophetesses may be mentioned as an honour to Philip. Nothing is revealed as to their use of the gift. It is significant that God did not send through them his message to Paul but did so through a prophet whom he sent from Judaea.
JEZEBEL (Rev. 2. 20-23). She was a self-styled prophetess. The church here received a two-fold rebuke: first, for suffering a woman to teach, and then for the kind of teaching tolerated. She was a woman unsubmissive to the Lord’s warning, and unrepentant. Nothing is said about her that any sister could emulate.
There were prophetesses in the Bible, women who received messages from the Lord for others, but in no case was public speaking involved. There is room in the New Testament for similar activities and an example is to be found in Acts 18. 24-26.
Let us pray more and more for one another as we advance through these last, perilous days—perilous not only physically, but also mentally and, above all, spiritually.
Surely these are the days when we are to exhort one another to “Look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” “Look up”—we shall soon see Him whom having not seen, we love. “Lift up your heads”—the days of toil and anguish will now soon be over and we (if truly believing to our soul's salvation) shall be before the throne of God, serving Him day and night. No more hunger; no more thirst. Fed by the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne, and led by Him unto living fountains of waters; tears wiped from every eye. Yes, beloved, our redemption, in the Person of our Redeemer, draweth nigh.
They were on their way to the tomb bearing sweet spices with which to embalm the body of the “King of Glory.” But —“who shall roll us away the stone?” was the question uppermost in their minds. And when they “looked up” or, as we might say, when they “lifted up their heads,” “they saw that the stone was rolled away.” And the illuminating description of that stone is added—“it was very great.” But when they looked up, lifting up their heads, lo! the difficulty was gone! With how little may we participate in the triumph of the Crucified One! “They overcame by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony.”
In closing, and to repeat words heard recently, it readily commends itself to say a pious “Amen” when the sharp point of the Holy Spirit's sword is directed towards someone else. But alas, we often do not seem so ready with our “Amens” when the same sword is directed towards our own heart (affection) and life (behaviour). There is the reception with meekness of the engrafted Word, which is able to save our souls. There is also the doing of the Word, putting it literally into practice, and continuing therein, which is the path of true blessing, and which will merit the Lord's approval in the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
We believe there is urgent need for the cry to go forth: “Come out from among them, and be ye separate” (2 Cor. 6. 17). Such a message has a voice for all whom it may concern, and it concerns many. It concerns those who profess to have been separated unto God, and it concerns those who make no profession of that kind. But it would almost seem to matter little where you look—worldliness has come in like a flood. Yet, in faith that when the enemy comes in like a flood the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him, we go on to ring in the ears of every reader of these pages that our God must have a separated people. Some would tell us that we should say nothing about separation, that we should never mention, “Come out from among them.” Indeed, one brother, who professes to have got very advanced light, told us if he was asked to explain “Separation” he could not tell what it was! Surely this is only a sad evidence of the gross darkness that is upon the people.
A DIVINE PRINCIPLE
Separation is not only clearly taught in Scripture, but it shines along the sacred pages from Genesis to Revelation. We find separation in the first chapter of Genesis : “And God divided the light from the darkness.” This divine principle of dividing the light from the darkness is seen throughout the whole of Scripture; and the apostle, in addressing God's people, boldly applies the figure to them, and says : “What communion hath light with darkness? . . . Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord.” Ye (children of God) were once darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord (Eph. 5. 8) What communion therefore can now be between you and the ungodly? There can be none. There is nothing in common between you. They are of the earth, earthy; you are bom from above. Their portion is “in this life” (Psalm 17. 14); yours is an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in Heaven for you (1 Peter 1. 4). They are children of wrath; you are an heir of Heaven. They have only the spirit of the world; you have received the Spirit of Sonship, whereby you cry “Abba, Father” (Romans 8.15).
How, then, can you keep company with the ungodly? How can you have fellowship with them? How can you be numbered among them? Is it not written that “the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations?” (Num. 23. 9). Do you come into the world's count? Do they reckon you as one of them? Surely it cannot be.
Through the abounding goodness of our God we now enter upon our tenth year of publication. In the twelve months that are past we have again and again proved His great faithfulness and unfailing care, notwithstanding our unworthiness and many defects in service. We rejoice that the magazine continues to be owned and blessed of the Lord, as numerous letters testify, and in simple dependence upon His grace we venture upon another year.
“Another year of God's sweet tender mercies,
Of truth and hope amid the world's distress;
Heaven's sunshine always brighter than earth's shadows,
And roses even in the wilderness.
“Another year of proving the assurance
That God abideth faithful to the end;
So Lord make all years rich with Thine own presence,
Redeemer, Keeper, Master, Saviour, Friend.”
(F. W. Pitt.).
To all who have contributed papers for our columns, who have assisted in the work of distribution, who have kindly introduced the magazine to others, who have written letters of encouragement and forwarded donations, we wish to express warm and grateful thanks. The helpful co-operation of friends in many parts of the world is sincerely appreciated. Above all, those who have responsibility for the magazine feel much indebted for the prayers of readers, and now that we enter a new year would bespeak a further interest in their prayers, that God may be glorified, His people edified, and sinners saved through this ministry. The late Mr. Wm. Hoste once prayed, saying, “May the Lord preserve us from being either popularity hunters or man fearers in these solemn closing days,” and his prayer finds an echo in our hearts.
We take this opportunity to record our deep gratitude to our gracious God, by Whose faithfulness we have been enabled to continue “Assembly Testimony” throughout another year. We also desire to express from our hearts, our deep thankfulness to the Lord’s dear people in many lands for their continued remembrance of us in their prayers; for their many helpful suggestions, and for their warm expressions of encouragement in this little work for the Lord. The exercise of heart revealed by so many individuals and assemblies in their liberal practical fellowship with us has constantly moved our hearts in deep thankfulness to our God, and as we give thanks to Him for this grace, so bountifully manifested by so many, we sincerely express to all our warm hearty thanks.
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May our gracious God continue to bless “Assembly Testimony” to His beloved people in many lands, and may our knowledge and love of His Word increase, and our affection for His assemblies abound more and more in 1961.