2 O Yahweh, be gracious unto us; we have waited for thee: be thou their arm every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble.
In a very true sense God is the truth. All the elements that constitute what we call the truth will be found to be rooted in Him. Why, for instance, is man mortal? Because God, who made man, was disobeyed in the beginning. Why was Christ crucified? Because God, though willing to show His kindness, will be kind only on the basis of His exaltation. Why is Christ coming? That the will of God may be done, and that the purpose of God in the creation of the earth, may be realised. All these items of truth detached from God, are dry and dead.
Sometimes they are held in this detached form. Sometimes men are to be met with who are very much interested in what we may call the details of the truth, with no sympathy for the whole scheme of which they are the subordinate sections. They are much taken up with the signs of the times, say, but with no relish for that to which the signs of the times relate, for the signs are only signs of the coming glory of the Lord.
Or keenly interested, it may be, in questions scholastic involved in the system of the truth; questions of the original tongue, and of lexicographical reference, but with no sympathy for the large and sublime ideas of which any or all words of any language are but the symbols.
Such men you may sometimes find eager to discuss the nature of Christ, with no real love for Christ, as shown by their total disregard of his commandments. All these belong to the category of spiritual abortions.
True growth in Christ, while not ignoring technical instruments as an indispensable means of access to the truth in our age, shoots up through and beyond it all, and lays hold of the actual things that constitute the truth, of which God is the kernel, yea, Alpha and Omega, beginning and end. While the breaking of bread is intended to bring Christ to remembrance, it is for that very reason also intended as a memorial of God; for Christ and God are one: the one is but the manifestation of the other.
Spiritual success consists in having these things always in remembrance. To some it appears a barren form, this continual pumping-up from memory. No doubt it is easier to deal with things that we can see, and hear, and feel, but in the economy of things to which man stands related, it often happens that the things he can discern by understanding are of greater moment than the things he can handle. Things that are matters of memory may be inherently more real than things actually in hand...
[NOT USE...The men who recently defended Fort Chitral against the beleaguering force that out-numbered them, were distressed by the rigours of the moment; but they knew and remembered from day to day that Colonel Kelly was on the march to their relief; and by the power of this idea the inconveniences of the momemt were endured, and finally passed away. They could not see Colonel Kelly, but Colonel Kelly came and ended their troubles].
It is the function of intelligence to discern the difference between appearance and reality. An ignorant man cannot imagine there is anything else going on anywhere but the things that press upon his senses; an intelligent person knows that the Queen lives in refinement at Windsor, though the tramp sleeps under the hedge, and sees nothing but what is dismal.
We have to learn that things out of our sight are very real, though unseen, if they are true in themselves. The sun at night for example, shines as brightly at the other side of the world as with us at noon-day, though the darkness would make us think there was no sun, or that it never would come back again. And so, in the depth and misery of winter there are spicy breezes, and balmy zephyrs, and glassy seas in the tropics. We may not be able to imagine that it is so, but such is the fact.
This is a parallel to these things in our position in the truth. We do not see God, but the reality of existence is not impaired by our want of perception. It is the part of wisdom to discern the fact of His existence; we have never seen Him, though we are hoping to see Him. We could see Him at this moment if He chose to reveal Himself; and if we saw Him, we should behold what Paul beheld a mile or two from Damascus, a dazzling figure, above the brightness of the sun.
Let us remember this in the darkness and squalor of our present state. We are like children living in cellar: we do not see the sun, but the fact is the blue sky and the sun are there for us to see, if we were so placed as to be able to see them. The fact that God and Christ exist carries that other fact, that the Kingdom of God will come, and that evil will vanish from the earth; for the one springs out of the other.
Consequently, it is no vain thing to remember. It may sometimes be a painful effort; so is education in all departments. People who refuse education because of the fatigues associated with it, refuse good and choose evil. And so those who weary in faith act the part of the foolish. The memory of truth discerned is faith, and is very powerful. The man who believes and remembers the truth feels himself able to wait for the developments connected with it, and to the duties that belong to it, even if distasteful, and to abstain from the things it proscribes, though they might be very agreeable.
This is where the advantage lies in our regular readings and meetings connected with the truth. The chapter read from Isaiah puts a prayer into our mouths appropriate to our position,
"O Lord, be gracious unto us; we have waited for Thee." [Isaiah 33:2]
This position of waiting is the position he enjoins. "Wait ye for me," He says by the prophet Zephaniah, "until the day that I rise up to the prey;" and it is put on record that it shall be said in that day, "Lo, this is our God, we have waited for Him." With what perfect satisfaction shall we be able to declare that fact, if it be the fact with us then, that we have waited.
SUNDAY MORNING - NO. 277
12 And the people shall be as the burnings of lime: as thorns cut up shall they be burned in the fire.
When the wood, hay, and stubble, as unprofitable servants, are cast into outer darkness, they disperse themselves over the countries of the Dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet; which, by the judgments coming upon them through the second and third angels, are to be kindled into a lake of fire. Thus the fuel of the fiery lake is increased... in the European lake of fire (Isa. 33:10-17).
Because of poverty, famine, pestilence, war, and the consciousness of what they have lost by their unfaithfulness, they will find there only "weeping and gnashing of teeth;" and though they may call upon Abraham to send a Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool their tongues, tormented in the flame; were Abraham to reply to them he would not grant their request; but addressing them as sons, would say, Remember that in your lifetimes ye received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted, and ye are tormented.