(All Bible texts are in the NKJV Bible unless otherwise indicated)
20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
1 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”
1 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”
2 But Abram said, “Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 Then Abram said, “Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!”
29 Happy are you, O Israel!
Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord,
The shield of your help
And the sword of your majesty!
Your enemies shall submit to you,
And you shall tread down their high places.”
30 As for God, His way is perfect;
The word of the Lord is proven;
He is a shield to all who trust in Him.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.
2 My lovingkindness and my fortress,
My high tower and my deliverer,
My shield and the One in whom I take refuge,
Who subdues my people under me.
Side by side, wearing the yoke of Christ, the laborers of God must do their appointed work. The question as to who is our neighbor is answered in the mission fields, at home and abroad, that await our labor. These call for no pharisaical principles, no narrow views. The worker is not to follow his own ideas and plans for work. The Lord’s individuality is to be sunk in no living being. Christ’s followers are to love God supremely, and their neighbor as themselves.
It is as much the privilege of every individual member of the church to know from the Word God’s will in regard to his course of action as it is for the president of the conference or for any other man in office of trust. The Lord would be sought unto by all who would be instructed and enlightened and worked by the Holy Spirit. God is ready to commune with His people. He declares, “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name in Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
“For I will not contend forever, neither will I be always wroth; for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made. For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him: I hid me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart. I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners. I create the fruit of the lips: Peace, peace to him that is afar off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord, and I will heal him. But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” [Isaiah 57:15-21.]
Every individual must seek by earnest prayer to know the Word of God for himself, and then to do it. Only in day by day putting his trust in God, and not in the arm of flesh, will any soul obtain the experience essential to answer the prayer of Christ, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” [John 17:3.] This is the lesson given to every soul who has commenced the new year. In all your temporal concerns, in all your cares and anxieties, wait upon the Lord. Put not your trust in princes, nor in the sons of man because they may be in positions of trust. The Lord has united your heart with Him. If you love Him, and are accepted in His service, bring all your burdens, both public and private, to the Lord, and wait upon Him. You will then have an individual experience, a conviction of His presence and His readiness to hear your prayer for wisdom and for instruction that will give you assurance and confidence in the Lord’s willingness to succor you in your perplexities.
Live as in the presence of God. “Come unto me,” is the invitation of Christ. By this He does not mean that you shall go to a far country to inquire of the president of the conference what your duty is. He would have you rejoice and praise Him every day for the privilege granted to you in the words of Christ: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” [Matthew 11:28-30.] Spread out your case before the Lord, and whatever your anxieties and trials, your spirit will be braced for endurance. The way will be opened before you to disentangle yourself from embarrassment and difficulty.
You need not go to the next town or to the ends of the earth to learn what course you shall pursue. Trust in God as your Helper, who will overrule all things as One who knows best. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed.” [James 1:5, 6.]
“Forasmuch then as Christ has suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind; for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin.” [1 Peter 4:1.] This is the truest wisdom, certain and not disappointing. This is the very essence of all true service, of pure and undefiled religion before God.
Christ declares, “All ye are brethren.” [Matthew 23:8.] We are all exposed to the same temptations, the same danger of making mistakes. These is no security, no support, in the midst of trial, but the conviction that God is present, watching over His people, and ready to answer their cries. “Then thou shalt call, and the Lord will answer; thou shalt cry, and He shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; and if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday; and the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones; and thou shalt be like a watered garden, whose waters fail not.” [Isaiah 58:9-11.]
“Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily; and thy righteousness shall go before thee; and the glory of God shall be thy rearward.” “Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” [Verses 8, 14.]
The apostle Paul says, “Make full proof of thy ministry.” [2 Timothy 4:5.] In this reference, ministry is not confined to preachers, but those who are doing God’s service. A King and loving Friend and Father is overruling all things. And if this is so of individuals and nations, how much more His church, His chosen ones. His church is built on the Rock Christ Jesus; and when men miscalculate their position of trust, and suppose that this give them power to rule the minds and work of their fellow men, they have made a great blunder which the Lord will not sustain. They are drawing men away, and educating them to look to men and depend upon men and receive their instruction almost entirely from finite beings.
But the presence of God is guaranteed to the Christian. This Rock of faith is the living presence of God. The weakest may depend upon it. Those who think themselves the strongest may become the weakest, unless they depend on Christ as their efficiency, their worthiness. This is the Rock upon which the church may build successfully. God is near in Christ’s atoning sacrifice, in His intercession, His loving, tender ruling power over the church. Seated by the eternal throne, He watches them with intense interest. As long as the members of the church shall through faith draw sap and nourishment from Jesus Christ, and not from man’s opinions and devisings and methods; if having a conviction of the nearness of God in Christ, they put their entire trust in Him, they will have a vital connection with Christ as the branch has connection with the parent stock. The church is established not on theories of men, on long drawn out plans and forms; it depends upon Christ their righteousness. It is built on faith in Christ, “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” [Matthew 16:18.]
“In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.” [Isaiah 30:15.] Take this with you throughout the year. The strength of every soul is in God and not in man. Quietness and confidence is to be the strength of all who give their hearts to God. Christ has not a casual interest in us but an interest stronger than a mother for her child. Says the prophet, “Can a woman forget her sucking child? ... yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.” [Isaiah 49:15.] Our Saviour has purchased us by human suffering and sorrow, by insult, reproach, abuse, mockery, rejection, and death. He is watching over you, trembling child of God. He will make you secure under His protection. Through His servant He says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” [Isaiah 26:3.] “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” “They that wait on the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abideth forever.” [Psalm 27:14; 125:1.]
To the Jewish nation God revealed Himself as a watchful, kind, forbearing father, a God of mercy and truth. He manifested Himself to them through His Son. And this Saviour is our Advocate. Our weakness in human nature will not bar our success to the Heavenly Father, for He died to make intercession for us.
“In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation will the Lord appoint for walls and bulwarks. Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee. Trust in the Lord forever; for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.” [Isaiah 26:1-4.] I entreat of all families and churches to read and study this Scripture, and act in accordance with the Word of God.
“Lord, thou wilt ordain peace for us; for thou also hast wrought all our works in us. O Lord our God, other Lords beside thee have had dominion over us; but by thee only will we make mention of thy name.” [Verses 12, 13.] Christ is our Ruler, and to man is not given power to lord it over the flock of God. The minister is to be one with the believers, not closing himself with himself as a superior of whom his fellow men must be afraid.
The Elder Brother of our race is by the eternal throne. He looks upon every soul who is turning his face toward Him as his Saviour. He knows by experience what are the weaknesses of humanity, what are their wants, and where lies the strength of their temptation, for He was tempted in all points like as we are, “yet without sin.” [Hebrews 4:15.] Thank the Lord He is ordained to be our Ruler and the Judge of all men.
The Lord would have everyone come to Him as their Refuge and for counsel and for comfort, and for hope, in all their anxieties. To Him you may tell your griefs. You will never be told, “I cannot help you. Such an one in authority has placed your case before me in such a light that I can do nothing for you.” To Him all your griefs are worthy of consideration.
You may have His help under every difficulty. You may, I say, the weakest one in all the ranks of believers may trust in a loving, pitiful, faithful High Priest, who is touched with the feelings of our infirmities. He keeps us safe from Satan’s power, even while we are full of perplexities, discouragements, and trials. Every believer is to keep looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of His faith. All who will do this, will work calmly and quietly as if in view of the whole universe of heaven. They will trust to no man’s opinion of their virtues, but feeling an individual responsibility resting upon them in temporal and eternal things, they will put their trust in God.
“And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censor; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.” [Revelation 8:3, 4.]
Let the families, the individual Christians, and the churches bear in mind that they are closely allied to heaven. The Lord has a special interest in His church militant here below. The angels who offer the smoke of the fragrant incense are for the praying saints. Then let the evening prayers in every family rise steadily to heaven in the cool sunset hour, speaking before God in our behalf of the merits of the blood of a crucified and risen Saviour. That blood alone is efficacious. It alone can make propitiation for our sins. It is the blood of the only begotten Son of God that is of value for us that we may draw nigh unto God, His blood alone that taketh “away the sin of the world.” [John 1:29.] Morning and evening the heavenly universe behold every household that prays, and the angel with the incense, representing the blood of the atonement, finds access to God.
When every soul is dependent on Jesus Christ, our Elder Brother, for mercy and forgiveness of sins, why should one member of the family exalt himself above another? Why should he feel at liberty to take upon himself prerogatives that his position does not give him? Why should he order about and seek to control his fellow man and tell what this one should do, and that one should do. These very ones have been required of God to come directly to Him and ask for the wisdom they need, and the promise is, “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” [Mark 11:24.]
“Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: He shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench; he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth; and the isles shall wait for his law.
“Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it: he that giveth breath to the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house. I am the Lord: that is my name, and my glory will I not give to another; neither my praise to graven images.” [Isaiah 42:1-8.]
13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
14 Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
3 I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
18 since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?
18 In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”
8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.
27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.
8 He will swallow up death forever,
And the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces;
The rebuke of His people
He will take away from all the earth;
For the Lord has spoken.
9 But as it is written:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
2 In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. 4 They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. 5 There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And
18 since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?
2 I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
3 So He said, “I am God, the God of your father; do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there.
5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. 6 And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.”
1 Arise, shine;
For your light has come!
And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.
2 For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth,
And deep darkness the people;
But the Lord will arise over you,
And His glory will be seen upon you.
3 The Gentiles shall come to your light,
And kings to the brightness of your rising.
6 Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’
7 “For what great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the Lord our God is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon Him? 8 And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this law which I set before you this day?
7 Even them I will bring to My holy mountain,
And make them joyful in My house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
Will be accepted on My altar;
For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
In the most definite manner Christ through Moses had set before them God’s purpose, and had made plain the terms of their prosperity. “Thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God,” He said; “the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto Himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.... Know therefore that the Lord thy God, He is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations.... Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them. Wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the Lord thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which He sware unto thy fathers; and He will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: He will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which He sware unto thy fathers to give thee. Thou shalt be blessed above all people.... And the Lord will take away from thee all sickness, and will put none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which thou knowest, upon thee.” Deuteronomy 7:6, 9, 11-15.
If they would keep His commandments, God promised to give them the finest of the wheat, and bring them honey out of the rock. With long life would He satisfy them, and show them His salvation.
Through disobedience to God, Adam and Eve had lost Eden, and because of sin the whole earth was cursed. But if God’s people followed His instruction, their land would be restored to fertility and beauty. God Himself gave them directions in regard to the culture of the soil, and they were to co-operate with Him in its restoration. Thus the whole land, under God’s control, would become an object lesson of spiritual truth. As in obedience to His natural laws the earth should produce its treasures, so in obedience to His moral law the hearts of the people were to reflect the attributes of His character. Even the heathen would recognize the superiority of those who served and worshiped the living God.
“Behold,” said Moses, “I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon Him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?” Deuteronomy 4:5-8.
The children of Israel were to occupy all the territory which God appointed them. Those nations that rejected the worship and service of the true God were to be dispossessed. But it was God’s purpose that by the revelation of His character through Israel men should be drawn unto Him. To all the world the gospel invitation was to be given. Through the teaching of the sacrificial service Christ was to be uplifted before the nations, and all who would look unto Him should live. All who, like Rahab the Canaanite, and Ruth the Moabitess, turned from idolatry to the worship of the true God, were to unite themselves with His chosen people. As the numbers of Israel increased they were to enlarge their borders, until their kingdom should embrace the world.
God desired to bring all peoples under His merciful rule. He desired that the earth should be filled with joy and peace. He created man for happiness, and He longs to fill human hearts with the peace of heaven. He desires that the families below shall be a symbol of the great family above.
But Israel did not fulfill God’s purpose. The Lord declared, “I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto Me?” Jeremiah 2:21. “Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself.” Hosea 10:1. “And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt Me and My vineyard. What could have been done more to My vineyard, that I have not done in it? Wherefore when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to My vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down: and I will lay it waste; it shall not be pruned nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. For ... He looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.” Isaiah 5:3-7.
The Lord had through Moses set before His people the result of unfaithfulness. By refusing to keep His covenant, they would cut themselves off from the life of God, and His blessing could not come upon them. “Beware,” said Moses, “that thou forget not the Lord thy God, in not keeping His commandments, and His judgments, and His statutes, which I command thee this day: lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; and when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God.... And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth.... And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the Lord thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish. As the nations which the Lord destroyeth before your face, so shall ye perish; because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the Lord your God.” Deuteronomy 8:11-14, 17, 19, 20.
The warning was not heeded by the Jewish people. They forgot God, and lost sight of their high privilege as His representatives. The blessings they had received brought no blessing to the world. All their advantages were appropriated for their own glorification. They robbed God of the service He required of them, and they robbed their fellow men of religious guidance and a holy example. Like the inhabitants of the antediluvian world, they followed out every imagination of their evil hearts. Thus they made sacred things appear a farce, saying, “The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, are these” (Jeremiah 7:4), while at the same time they were misrepresenting God’s character, dishonoring His name, and polluting His sanctuary.
The husbandmen who had been placed in charge of the Lord’s vineyard were untrue to their trust. The priests and teachers were not faithful instructors of the people. They did not keep before them the goodness and mercy of God and His claim to their love and service. These husbandmen sought their own glory. They desired to appropriate the fruits of the vineyard. It was their study to attract attention and homage to themselves.
The guilt of these leaders in Israel was not like the guilt of the ordinary sinner. These men stood under the most solemn obligation to God. They had pledged themselves to teach a “Thus saith the Lord” and to bring strict obedience into their practical life. Instead of doing this they were perverting the Scriptures. They laid heavy burdens upon men, enforcing ceremonies that reached to every step in life. The people lived in continual unrest, for they could not fulfill the requirements laid down by the rabbis. As they saw the impossibility of keeping man-made commandments, they became careless in regard to the commandments of God.
9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
2 I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
1 What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.
5 But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
4 And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”
9 For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men.
After the dispersion from Babel idolatry again became well-nigh universal, and the Lord finally left the hardened transgressors to follow their evil ways, while He chose Abraham, of the line of Shem, and made him the keeper of His law for future generations. Abraham had grown up in the midst of superstition and heathenism. Even his father’s household, by whom the knowledge of God had been preserved, were yielding to the seductive influences surrounding them, and they “served other gods” than Jehovah. But the true faith was not to become extinct. God has ever preserved a remnant to serve Him. Adam, Seth, Enoch, Methuselah, Noah, Shem, in unbroken line, had preserved from age to age the precious revealings of His will. The son of Terah became the inheritor of this holy trust. Idolatry invited him on every side, but in vain. Faithful among the faithless, uncorrupted by the prevailing apostasy, he steadfastly adhered to the worship of the one true God. “The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth.” Psalm 145:18. He communicated His will to Abraham, and gave him a distinct knowledge of the requirements of His law and of the salvation that would be accomplished through Christ.
There was given to Abraham the promise, especially dear to the people of that age, of a numerous posterity and of national greatness: “I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing.” And to this was added the assurance, precious above every other to the inheritor of faith, that of his line the Redeemer of the world should come: “In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Yet, as the first condition of fulfillment, there was to be a test of faith; a sacrifice was demanded.
The message of God came to Abraham, “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee.” In order that God might qualify him for his great work as the keeper of the sacred oracles, Abraham must be separated from the associations of his early life. The influence of kindred and friends would interfere with the training which the Lord purposed to give His servant. Now that Abraham was, in a special sense, connected with heaven, he must dwell among strangers. His character must be peculiar, differing from all the world. He could not even explain his course of action so as to be understood by his friends. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned, and his motives and actions were not comprehended by his idolatrous kindred.
“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.” Hebrews 11:8. Abraham’s unquestioning obedience is one of the most striking evidences of faith to be found in all the Bible. To him, faith was “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Verse 1. Relying upon the divine promise, without the least outward assurance of its fulfillment, he abandoned home and kindred and native land, and went forth, he knew not whither, to follow where God should lead. “By faith he became a sojourner in the land of promise, as in a land not his own, dwelling in tents, with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise.” Hebrews 11:9, R.V.
It was no light test that was thus brought upon Abraham, no small sacrifice that was required of him. There were strong ties to bind him to his country, his kindred, and his home. But he did not hesitate to obey the call. He had no question to ask concerning the land of promise—whether the soil was fertile and the climate healthful; whether the country afforded agreeable surroundings and would afford opportunities for amassing wealth. God has spoken, and His servant must obey; the happiest place on earth for him was the place where God would have him to be.
Many are still tested as was Abraham. They do not hear the voice of God speaking directly from the heavens, but He calls them by the teachings of His word and the events of His providence. They may be required to abandon a career that promises wealth and honor, to leave congenial and profitable associations and separate from kindred, to enter upon what appears to be only a path of self-denial, hardship, and sacrifice. God has a work for them to do; but a life of ease and the influence of friends and kindred would hinder the development of the very traits essential for its accomplishment. He calls them away from human influences and aid, and leads them to feel the need of His help, and to depend upon Him alone, that He may reveal Himself to them. Who is ready at the call of Providence to renounce cherished plans and familiar associations? Who will accept new duties and enter untried fields, doing God’s work with firm and willing heart, for Christ’s sake counting his losses gain? He who will do this has the faith of Abraham, and will share with him that “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,” with which “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared.” 2 Corinthians 4:17; Romans 8:18.
The call from heaven first came to Abraham while he dwelt in “Ur of the Chaldees” and in obedience to it he removed to Haran. Thus far his father’s family accompanied him, for with their idolatry they united the worship of the true God. Here Abraham remained till the death of Terah. But from his father’s grave the divine Voice bade him go forward. His brother Nahor with his household clung to their home and their idols. Besides Sarah, the wife of Abraham, only Lot, the son of Haran long since dead, chose to share the patriarch’s, pilgrim life. Yet it was a large company that set out from Mesopotamia. Abraham already possessed extensive flocks and herds, the riches of the East, and he was surrounded by a numerous body of servants and retainers. He was departing from the land of his fathers, never to return, and he took with him all that he had, “their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran.” Among these were many led by higher considerations than those of service and self-interest. During their stay in Haran, both Abraham and Sarah had led others to the worship and service of the true God. These attached themselves to the patriarch’s household, and accompanied him to the land of promise. “And they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.”
The place where they first tarried was Shechem. Under the shade of the oaks of Moreh, in a wide, grassy valley, with its olive groves and gushing springs, between Mount Ebal on the one side and Mount Gerizim on the other, Abraham made his encampment. It was a fair and goodly country that the patriarch had entered—“a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey.” Deuteronomy 8:7, 8. But to the worshiper of Jehovah, a heavy shadow rested upon wooded hill and fruitful plain. “The Canaanite was then in the land.” Abraham had reached the goal of his hopes to find a country occupied by an alien race and overspread with idolatry. In the groves were set up the altars of false gods, and human sacrifices were offered upon the neighboring heights. While he clung to the divine promise, it was not without distressful forebodings that he pitched his tent. Then “the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land.” His faith was strengthened by this assurance that the divine presence was with him, that he was not left to the mercy of the wicked. “And there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him.” Still a wayfarer, he soon removed to a spot near Bethel, and again erected an altar, and called upon the name of the Lord.
Abraham, “the friend of God,” set us a worthy example. His was a life of prayer. Wherever he pitched his tent, close beside it was set up his altar, calling all within his encampment to the morning and evening sacrifice. When his tent was removed, the altar remained. In following years, there were those among the roving Canaanites who received instruction from Abraham; and whenever one of these came to that altar, he knew who had been there before him; and when he had pitched his tent, he repaired the altar, and there worshiped the living God.
7 Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” And there he built an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him.
14 And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are—northward, southward, eastward, and westward; 15 for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever.
17 Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you.”
13 Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years.
16 But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”
18 On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying:
“To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates—
8 Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”
13 And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants.
15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”
12 The land which I gave Abraham and Isaac I give to you; and to your descendants after you I give this land.”
8 So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites.
17 and I have said I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, to a land flowing with milk and honey.” ’
8 And I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and I will give it to you as a heritage: I am the Lord.’ ”
3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses.
18 On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying:
“To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates— 19 the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.”
8 After this it came to pass that David attacked the Philistines and subdued them. And David took Metheg Ammah from the hand of the Philistines.
2 Then he defeated Moab. Forcing them down to the ground, he measured them off with a line. With two lines he measured off those to be put to death, and with one full line those to be kept alive. So the Moabites became David’s servants, and brought tribute.
3 David also defeated Hadadezer the son of Rehob, king of Zobah, as he went to recover his territory at the River Euphrates. 4 David took from him one thousand chariots, seven hundred horsemen, and twenty thousand foot soldiers. Also David hamstrung all the chariot horses, except that he spared enough of them for one hundred chariots.
5 When the Syrians of Damascus came to help Hadadezer king of Zobah, David killed twenty-two thousand of the Syrians. 6 Then David put garrisons in Syria of Damascus; and the Syrians became David’s servants, and brought tribute. So the Lord preserved David wherever he went. 7 And David took the shields of gold that had belonged to the servants of Hadadezer, and brought them to Jerusalem. 8 Also from Betah and from Berothai, cities of Hadadezer, King David took a large amount of bronze.
9 When Toi king of Hamath heard that David had defeated all the army of Hadadezer, 10 then Toi sent Joram his son to King David, to greet him and bless him, because he had fought against Hadadezer and defeated him (for Hadadezer had been at war with Toi); and Joram brought with him articles of silver, articles of gold, and articles of bronze. 11 King David also dedicated these to the Lord, along with the silver and gold that he had dedicated from all the nations which he had subdued— 12 from Syria, from Moab, from the people of Ammon, from the Philistines, from Amalek, and from the spoil of Hadadezer the son of Rehob, king of Zobah.
13 And David made himself a name when he returned from killing eighteen thousand Syrians in the Valley of Salt. 14 He also put garrisons in Edom; throughout all Edom he put garrisons, and all the Edomites became David’s servants. And the Lord preserved David wherever he went.
21 So Solomon reigned over all kingdoms from the River to the land of the Philistines, as far as the border of Egypt. They brought tribute and served Solomon all the days of his life.
1 It happened after this that Nahash the king of the people of Ammon died, and his son reigned in his place. 2 Then David said, “I will show kindness to Hanun the son of Nahash, because his father showed kindness to me.” So David sent messengers to comfort him concerning his father. And David’s servants came to Hanun in the land of the people of Ammon to comfort him.
3 And the princes of the people of Ammon said to Hanun, “Do you think that David really honors your father because he has sent comforters to you? Did his servants not come to you to search and to overthrow and to spy out the land?”
4 Therefore Hanun took David’s servants, shaved them, and cut off their garments in the middle, at their buttocks, and sent them away. 5 Then some went and told David about the men; and he sent to meet them, because the men were greatly ashamed. And the king said, “Wait at Jericho until your beards have grown, and then return.”
6 When the people of Ammon saw that they had made themselves repulsive to David, Hanun and the people of Ammon sent a thousand talents of silver to hire for themselves chariots and horsemen from Mesopotamia, from Syrian Maacah, and from Zobah. 7 So they hired for themselves thirty-two thousand chariots, with the king of Maacah and his people, who came and encamped before Medeba. Also the people of Ammon gathered together from their cities, and came to battle.
8 Now when David heard of it, he sent Joab and all the army of the mighty men. 9 Then the people of Ammon came out and put themselves in battle array before the gate of the city, and the kings who had come were by themselves in the field.
10 When Joab saw that the battle line was against him before and behind, he chose some of Israel’s best and put them in battle array against the Syrians. 11 And the rest of the people he put under the command of Abishai his brother, and they set themselves in battle array against the people of Ammon. 12 Then he said, “If the Syrians are too strong for me, then you shall help me; but if the people of Ammon are too strong for you, then I will help you. 13 Be of good courage, and let us be strong for our people and for the cities of our God. And may the Lord do what is good in His sight.”
14 So Joab and the people who were with him drew near for the battle against the Syrians, and they fled before him. 15 When the people of Ammon saw that the Syrians were fleeing, they also fled before Abishai his brother, and entered the city. So Joab went to Jerusalem.
16 Now when the Syrians saw that they had been defeated by Israel, they sent messengers and brought the Syrians who were beyond the River, and Shophach the commander of Hadadezer’s army went before them. 17 When it was told David, he gathered all Israel, crossed over the Jordan and came upon them, and set up in battle array against them. So when David had set up in battle array against the Syrians, they fought with him. 18 Then the Syrians fled before Israel; and David killed seven thousand charioteers and forty thousand foot soldiers of the Syrians, and killed Shophach the commander of the army. 19 And when the servants of Hadadezer saw that they were defeated by Israel, they made peace with David and became his servants. So the Syrians were not willing to help the people of Ammon anymore.
9 By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; 10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. 15 And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.
14 For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.
5 Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.
17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
9 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,
17 And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.