Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Thoughts in Deuteronomy

"'And when you approach the territory of the people of Ammon, do not harass them or contend with them, for I will not give you any of the land of the people of Ammon as a possession, because I have given it to the sons of Lot for a possession.'' (Deuteronomy 2:19, ESV)

"Even wicked men must not be wronged. God gives and preserves outward blessings to wicked men; these are not the best things, he has better in store for his own children." - Matthew Henry

If the land of Canaan across the Jordan is a picture to believers of the heavenly promised land and everlasting rest, than the land traversed east of the Jordan may be a picture of the believer's sojourn through this world. In this world, the people of God are not given to triumph over everything and to own all they see. They must be content to see unbelievers living in comfort and security, to see opportunities for advancement here and now pass by them, because they are on their way to the better country. There will be victories here and provision here, as the Lord gave the Amorites into Israel's hand (2:24), but we are to be content with one or the other as long as we may travel onward to the better land.

Even in the instance of Israel conquering some lands east of the Jordan, they were to go about the deed in a passive and civil way, saying "Let me pass through your land. I will only go by the road" (2: 27) letting the victory come to them simply as God should send it. Whereas, in the conquering of the cities of Canaan, they were to go about the conquest with fierce activity. So also, believers are to seek first the kingdom of God, to be in the matter of entering heaven as the violent who storm the gate by force, cutting off hands and eyes that might hinder them, giving up all that they might have Christ, and taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ; but in matters of the present, earthly life, they are to be content with plenty or hunger, abundance or need; to be anxious for nothing but trust that all needful things will be added to them by their heavenly Father. Canaan is to be had at all cost. Christ has gained it for us and we follow Him in his victory march, so let us not fret that Esau should have Seir or that Ammon have Moab, so long as we shall arrive in God's country ere long.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

To Stand Before the Son of Man

Yesterday I was gripped by these words of Jesus in the gospel of Luke:

"But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man." 
(Luk 21:34-36, ESV)

This morning, I could hardly go on to other study without returning to the chapter again and writing out my thoughts on it:

Have I been watching myself with a view to staying awake spiritually? If I am consumed with the cares of this life - however pressing the duties of wife and mother may be - and am not mindful of the coming of the Son of Man, I am living as one asleep. Times of upheaval, trial and persecution have come upon God's people often and again since the last days began, and they may come upon us again, even soon without warning, and perhaps many times, before His return.

Whether it be the last day of all, or only one of the birth pangs preceding it, I know that in myself I have not the strength to face it. In my human nature, I want to live on in comfort, eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage our children, our grandchildren, nestled in comfortable homes, friends with all and enjoying business and leisure from day to day. If this should be interrupted by an evil day, and I must follow Christ into the fire of men's hatred and the destruction of my comforts, how will I stand? Here is Christ's command: Watch and pray that you may have strength to escape all these things and stand before the Son of Man. Surely He would not direct us to such a prayer unless He intended to answer it. He does not call me to worry that something bad might happen, only to watch my soul and pray for strength to endure and escape all that may come to me before I enter His presence.

Today is a day of home and shelter, food and family. Tomorrow may be fire and sword, the hatred of all mankind and exclusion from society. Let my goal be not to have the blessings of today at any cost, but to escape with my faith intact, to endure to the end, to realize the salvation of my soul and stand before the Son of Man at the end. Then let me ask Him for this - not only for myself but for the next generation, upon whom the evil day may come more strongly than my mother's heart could ever believe. Let me be instructing my children not only in eating and working, in speech and play, but in the teaching of Jesus Christ and their need to know and be found in Him before that great day. May they together with us have strength to escape and to stand before the Son of Man at last.