NEVER ATTEMPT TO CARRY YOUR OWN BURDEN,
but learn to roll it upon the Lord. Seek to deal with Him about everything; if you have any trial, any perplexity, cast it upon Him, then you will find out how ready He is to help, and you will be able to say, even in view of all these circumstances, “I am happy.”
If we are unhappy, the fault lies with ourselves. There is no reason why we should not be happy children. Our Father loves us, and He will lead us safely through. Having such a Father, it may well be said of us, “Happy art thou, O Israel who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency.”
These Israelites were happy because they had such a God. Look how He delivered them and saved them. It was He who delivered them from the Egyptians, who led them through the Red Sea, destroying the hosts of Pharaoh. It was He who led them through the wilderness, provided them with heavenly food, and water from the rock, and finally led them into the land of promise.
CAUSE FOR HAPPINESS.
And remember that it is by Him that you and I are delivered from a worse power than Egypt; are delivered from greater enemies than the host of the Egyptians and by Him we are led through the many difficulties of this life. Daily He is leading us, until at length He will land us safely above. Ought we not then to be happy truly happy in the Lord? I ask you, affectionately, is it so with you? Are you all happy Christians? You ought to be, if you will only look to Him. God bless these words, bringing before us, as they have tonight, that He is willing and able to help us, and willing and able to fight our battles for us, until at last all “thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee; and thou shalt tread upon their high places.” So it was with the literal Israel, and so it shall be with us, through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, in conclusion, if there be any here present who know not this blessedness, let them seek that this blessing may be theirs, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. They may have all these blessings, if they will only trust in Him alone for the salvation of their souls. As for the many hundreds here present who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, let them remember, that though weak, vile, and erring sinners in ourselves, yet, by the grace of God, we are what we are, and through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, laying hold of His righteousness, and His strength, we shall have the living God for our helper; and, in the midst of all troubles, we may still be truly happy. He is willing to do for us all we need. Trust Him with child-like simplicity, and you will see how ready He is to help you, and to give blessing. ~ George Muller
Men should know that we are servants of the Lord Jesus Christ; even as our blessed Master Himself, who did not seek to be like the scribes and Pharisees, but rather sternly denounced them. He Himself said, that He must be about the business of His Father; that was His grand object. And that is what we must aim after. In the business and matters of this life we must of necessity mix, to a certain extent, with the world, but we must, day by day, and hour by hour, seek to live as much as possible unlike the world. Thus only is it that we bring forth fruit abundantly to the praise, honour, and glory of the Lord.
I would ask you most affectionately, my beloved brethren and sisters, “Are you willing to be such disciples—such out-and-out Christians, and to be such children of God?” This, remember, is the kind of children that God looks for; such disciples the Lord Jesus desires to have—men who are willing to live only for Him. Such children, such disciples, are certainly needed for these days, especially in view of the wondrous manner in which God has been visiting the whole of our land within the last twelve months. At such a time the eyes of the world are upon us, to see if we do live according to our profession. Surely, then, it is expected that we should live so that we may bring glory to God.
Now if my beloved brethren will walk according to the mind of God, that is what they must do—come out, and be separate. There must be separation from the world. Naturally, we are inclined to give up the line of demarcation, and to say, “This is too strict, too particular; why should I be so much separated from the world? See that brother; he is enjoying the world a little; he is mixing with the world, and so is able to make something of each world, and he is a Christian. Why should not I also be able to mix somewhat with the world, and yet get to heaven at last?”
Mark, mark! my beloved Christian friend. What the Lord requires is, that we should live--
SEPARATE FROM THE WORLD.
Of course, as our business is here, we must have something to do with the world, yet we should not go on in the spirit of the world. It is quite possible that we should conduct our business carefully, and yet be separate to the Lord. God does not see it good to take us out of the world. Jesus prayed with regard to us, “I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” The Apostle says, “Come out from among them, and be ye separate.” Thus, if we desire to attain nearness of communion with God, we must be willing to live in separation from the world, and to aim at a decided line of demarcation between the world and the Church, which will be for the praise, honour, and glory of God. This we cannot do if we are living as the world does, or seeking to be as much like the world as possible. In so doing we shall only bring dishonour upon the name of God, and misery upon ourselves. Beloved Christian friends, let us keep rank against the world, living in separation from its habits, maxims, and principles, and aim at conformity to the mind of the Lord Jesus Christ, rather than, as many seem to do, to try to live as much like the world as possible.
Further, “And He shall thrust out the enemy from before thee, and shall say, Destroy them.” What a blessed promise was this to the Israelites! Before them was the Jordan to be crossed; and even if it were crossed, were there not those great and mighty nations to be overcome? Looking to themselves, they might well have been afraid; but it must not be thus, there must be no fear in those underneath whom are the everlasting arms. Further, to encourage them, Jehovah distinctly says with regard to these seven mighty nations, I will thrust out the enemy from before you, and will say, “Destroy them.”
Look at the entrance of the children of Israel, and see how this was fulfilled. Look at the crossing of the Jordan; see how the walls of Jericho fell. Look at the various battles with the enemy. When the kings came against them, how easily they were overcome. When nations united against them, still Jehovah was on their side; and at last, all were thrust out and destroyed—overcome by the power of Jehovah.
Now, this is particularly comforting with regard to ourselves. We are a feeble band, a “little flock;” our enemies are mighty and strong. “We have no power in ourselves against this great army.” So we must look on all this as a hopeless case, and exclaim, “We can never get to heaven; we are so weak, helpless, and sinful in ourselves.” Well, it is quite true, we are so weak and helpless in ourselves, that we cannot overcome those that are against us; but our Helper is mighty, and though these enemies were ten thousand times more numerous than they are, and though they would easily overcome us if faced in our own power, yet it is still true that--
and that He has promised to thrust out the enemy from before us, even to destroy them. All the power of evil will not finally prevail, though at times it appears as if it would be so. Neither shall the corrupt nature within us finally have the victory; but through the Lord Jesus Christ we shall have the victory, and be more than conquerors.
Therefore, right blessed is the prospect before us! If we look at ourselves, there is abundant reason to be cast down. Yet we must never forget the word, that we shall have victory through the Lord Jesus Christ, for “greater is He that is for us than all that can be against us,” and through the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ we shall finally have the victory.
In the literal fulfilment of the promise with regard to the Israelites, the enemy was destroyed, but not at all through their own strength. It was solely by God helping them that these were destroyed. Remember how God fought for them time after time. How the sun stood still at the request of Joshua. How, again, the elements from heaven fought for them; how stones were hailed upon the enemy. The hornets also were by Jehovah used for the destruction of the enemies. In various ways Jehovah fought on their behalf, and showed His mighty power in leading His people to possess the land.
So now with the Israel of God; they can of themselves do nothing, having nothing but weakness; but again and again God delivers them; so that while in this life they can never be perfectly delivered from the power of the enemy, yet they shall finally be helped by their God.
“ISRAEL THEN SHALL DWELL IN SAFETY ALONE.”
I wish you to mark this word, “alone,” most particularly. It contains the idea of “separation”—safety in separation. “Israel then shall dwell in safety alone.” The safety is dependent on their dwelling alone; the safety is dependent on their entire separation from other nations. It was to be their peculiar position of separateness from others: it was to be their very safety. God intended them to be separate, He forbade their entering into marriage with the other nations, or in any other way forming connections with them. They must destroy the surrounding nations and walk separately.
I am a weak erring sinner, yet I have the living God, on my side, the eternal God as my refuge. Oh, the blessedness of having such a refuge as this. What are all earthly honours in comparison with this? What the highest dignities? What the greatest earthly crown as compared with the blessedness which we possess in having the living, eternal God on our side, and of being permitted to make Him our refuge?
And this is the position of the child of God; above everything that man can conceive, “underneath are the everlasting arms,” with the power of the almighty God for our helper. What a comfort in our helplessness, to know that although you and I are weak, erring, and feeble naturally, and can do nothing if left to ourselves; yet we have these everlasting arms underneath us to support us. Though we are helpless, here is an Almighty arm to lean upon, and even to lie upon. It is an arm that can carry us through the difficulties which lie before us, and through the trials which await us; can bear us safely through—can carry us in all our helplessness. Oh, the blessedness of the figure used here—“The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms!”
That we should be happy Christians; and this we can only be if we are holy Christians. We shall never, of course, be altogether free from sin on this earth; not that until we are taken home. But we must aim after being holy children; we must not go on in what we know is contrary to the divine will. And if we are really out-and-out Christians, and are really holding on to the eternal living God, the result will be that we shall be happy Christians, and shall be bearing testimony to those “that are without.”
And the result of this will be to stir them up to seek after the Lord; and so a thousand Christians will be a thousand witnesses for the living God. Therefore, my beloved brethren and sisters, let us lay it to heart to be out-and-out Christians, so that we may lay hold of this word.
If the world only knew the blessedness of thus having God as our refuge, I think the whole world would seek at once after the Lord. It is only because they think it is something miserable to be a Christian, and do not know that it is infinitely more precious to be a Christian than to be without God, that they are content to remain unsaved.
This is one great reason why they do not seek to enjoy the things of God. And it is just the reason why you and I should make it our business to be out-and-out Christians, that we may show to the world what it is to be truly happy Christians, and at the same time be living examples to the Church. But this true and real joy cannot be possessed unless we are out-and-out Christians. There must not be a seeking to hold fast the things of the world to the utmost, and yet seeking to get to heaven all the same. If this be the case with us, we shall just have enough religion to make us miserable, and too little to make us happy.
Remember, that when this blessing was given, the Israelites had not yet entered the promised land, although on the point of doing so. Moreover, even if they had crossed the Jordan, there were still the seven mighty nations of the Canaanites to be overcome; and therefore at such a time they needed the help of the living God, and were blessed by being reminded that they had such a helper.
And so with us, the Israel of God, and the heirs of the promise. We have much conflict yet before us, and so these words are for our encouragement. God, the living God, is our refuge. As if the Holy Ghost by the prophet would say, “True, you have these great and mighty enemies to overcome, but in going forward, remember that God will be at your side as your helper. Commit yourselves to Him, look to Him, trust in Him, depend on Him, and you will find the power of His mighty arm will save you.” What He would have us remember and take courage in, is the fact, that
THE ETERNAL GOD IS OUR REFUGE.
Can we, each one of us, say this, “God, the eternal, living God, is my refuge”? For myself, I can say He is my only refuge, and has been so for fifty years. How many of you can say the same? Ask yourselves individually this deeply important question. If you are able to say this with regard to yourselves, what a happy people you are. But if not able to say it, yet there is no reason why you should not be able to say it. It is only trust in Him that is required; nothing else but to place yourselves wholly in His hands. This blessing is ready for us, but waiting to be received and appropriated. It is for “Whosoever will,” as in that precious hymn we have just been singing--
“Whosoever will—the promise is secure,
Whosoever will, for ever must endure;
Whosoever will, ‘tis life for evermore,
Whosoever will, may come.”
There is nothing to hinder anyone who is here present having it now, if he will. If you will only depend on the Lord Jesus Christ for the salvation of your souls, it may be yours now. Just as it is true of me, a poor, miserable sinner, and true of many thousands who, like me, are poor miserable sinners, but who now trust in Him, so it may be true of you, that there is none like your God, who rideth upon the heaven in your help.
THE ETERNAL GOD.”
But further, “the eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” There is something peculiarly sweet to me in this verse; it tells me that I have an eternal Friend, a living Friend, a Friend who is above all, who has all power and might, and that He is on my side.
It is well indeed to have an earthly friend, who, if you are in poverty, may help you. But sickness may come, he may be taken away by death; or, if not that, he may lose all his wealth with which he helped you, and thus may be unable further to assist you. But none of these things affect the living God—He is the same yesterday, today, and for ever. Eternal is thy refuge. Fifty years ago He was as now; a thousand years ago—ten thousand years ago—He is ever the same.
The God of Elijah is here today, and He is exactly the same as He was in the prophet’s time—as ready and as willing to help His children. The living God is with us, whose power never fails, whose arm never grows weary, whose wisdom is infinite, and whose power is unchanging. Therefore today, tomorrow, and next month, as long as life is continued, He will be our helper and friend. Still more, even as He is through all time, so will He be through all eternity. Oh, the blessedness of having the eternal God on our side! Not only on our side, but on whom we may rely as on a fortress of strength, in whom we may get refuge continually, and in whom there is perfect security.
THE LORD OUR PORTION.
And this is especially our portion: we have the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ to be our God and Father. That is, we have the living God on our side, to be our God, our Guide, our Father, and our Friend. All this, however, is only true of us if we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. We may speak about Him as our God; we may read about Him; we may be able to explain certain passages of Scripture concerning Him; we may even have written much about Him; and may have preached in His name; and yet it may not be true of us that we have the living God for our Father, except we really believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and trust in Him alone for the salvation of our souls.
But if we do thus accept Jesus as our Saviour, then it is true of us that we have God as our Father, and we have the same precious share in those blessings as the literal Israelites had, and it can be said of us, “There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun.”
THE LORD OUR STRENGTH.
But further, with regard to these blessed ones, it is said, “Who rideth upon the heavens in thy help, and in His excellency on the sky.” Look at this expression, “Rideth upon the heavens in thy help.” Such a thought as this would never have entered into the mind of the greatest poet who ever lived, except he had borrowed it from the Bible. All the best and noblest ideas in the poets they have borrowed from that source. The thought here is, that there is none who can resist God—that no power on earth can oppose Him. Pass through all England, France, Germany, or America, and there are none equal to Him. The powers of this earth—that is, all under heaven—are as nothing before Him. He is the Creator—they are the creatures, and they cannot withstand Him, who is above all.
THE LORD OUR DELIVERER.
Now, the comfort to us is, that we have such a God for our helper—one who rides on the heavens—in the very sky; we have Him to fight on our behalf. He is above all, He is out of the reach of Satan and wicked men, He cannot be opposed by any of them. He is above the elements, and they cannot withstand Him, neither can any creature stand against Him, who is the chiefest of all. He is on our side, He is for us, and if He be for us who can be against us? If He is on our side all is well with us. But, alas if He is against us, what shall become of us? If we are in Him we are in perfect safety.
But if there be anyone here who has not God on his side, who has never believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, let me exhort you, yea, even implore you, be you reconciled—be you at peace with God. If so, then you will be safe, and then it will be said with regard to you, that “He rideth upon the heavens in your help.” All that we have to do, feeling as we must our own weakness, impotency, and helplessness, is but to cast ourselves into His arms, and say, “My Father, I am Thy child, Thy poor, weak, helpless child; be nigh unto Thy child, and help, him.”
What will our Father, who rides upon the heavens, do? Most assuredly, He will assist His poor weak child. Whatever his necessities may be, he may feel assured that the everlasting arms are around him, and that His Father will thrust out the enemies, and will destroy them utterly.
SAVED BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH.
Through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, these and all other blessings of the gospel become ours. Fear is lost, judgment is taken away, and instead of all that, we instantaneously become children of God. And this may be obtained by all sinners here present. There are such, in all probability, here at this moment, who are still in the bonds of unrighteousness, who are going on their way in spiritual darkness—who belong to the kingdom of darkness—who are dead in trespasses and sins.
To such I have to say, instantaneously you may obtain the forgiveness of your sins, be made alive in Christ Jesus, and be “delivered from the powers of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of His dear Son; “but this is alone to be obtained by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
OH, GLORIOUS GOSPEL!
that we should be called the sons of God! When I think of myself, and when other believers think of themselves, when we look inward, we see that we are utterly unworthy of such honour—we can indeed see anything but righteousness. Yet we are called “righteous.”
If this title was applied to these oft-provoking and stiff-necked Israelites—if they were called “Jeshurun”— the righteous ones, how much more abundantly is this applicable to those who are united to the Lord Jesus Christ, and who partake by faith of His perfect righteousness?
Now, regarding these Israelites, it is here stated that “There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun.” There is no god like unto their God. They had the living God, while others had but dead idols.