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the ark. They were not humbled and broken under a sense of their own sin, and of the holiness of that God with whom they had to do. This was soon made manifest. So little did they think of their own sin and shame, in having made it needful for God to "deliver his strength into captivity, and his glory into the enemy's hand,” that they could even use the opportunity afforded by the return of the ark, to gratify their unhallowed curiosity by looking into it! And the hand of God was upon them for this. “And he smote the men of Beth-shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the Lord, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and three score and ten men: and the people lamented, because the Lord had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter. And the men of Beth-shemesh said, Who is able to stand before this holy Lord God? And to whom shall he go up from us?” Surely there had been enough in the battle of Aphek, with all its sorrowful results, to have led them to exclaim long ere this, Who is able to stand before this holy Lord God? But no; they had failed to learn this lesson, so wholesome and indispensable; and now they must learn it by experience still more bitter than any which had preceded it. Fcur and thirty thousand were all who fell in both the engagements recorded in chap. iv. Fifty thousand and seventy are smitten for their rashness and presumption, at Beth-shemesh!

Now they are obliged to say, “Who is able to stand before this holy Lord God?” But, alas! they add— " and to whom shall he go up from us?”. The heart, unhumbled by “ grace reigning through righteousness,” when it is at last compelled to bow to the majesty of God in holy judgment on evil, bows in the sullenness of despair; and just as the Philistines had sent the ark which afflicted them (as they thought) from city to city, so now the men of Beth-shemesh say, “to whom shall he go up from us?” And they sent to Kirjath-jearim; and the ark was taken there.

" There is forgiveness with thee (not that thou mayest be trifled with or despised, but] that thou mayest be feared.Solemn words! May they sink deep into our hearts. It is one thing to grasp at the thought of for

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giveness, and selfishly rejoice in it, merely as meeting our necessity, and rescuing us from death; another thing to enter into God's thoughts of what sin-our sin- is as revealed in the cross of Christ. The blessedness to us of being forgiven, and the freeness with which forgiveness is imparted, are both blessed subjects for meditation, and we may well rejoice-yea, and God would have us rejoice — in view of them. But still, unless we apprehend something of what it cost Jesus to accomplish our salvation, and of the necessity there was in the Divine glory, we being sinners, that Jesus should suffer what he did, our joy will be of little power and of short duration. We must learn what sin is, and what God's estimate of it is too. Failing to learn this by faith where God has fully revealed it, even in the cross of Christ (where we not only read the evil of sin, but see it entirely put away), we have to learn it by bitter experience under God's hand, extorting from us the exclamation, Who is able to stand before this holy Lord God? The Lord grant us in lowliness to bow to his hand as we see it stretched out against our sin on our Sin-bearer's head on the Cross.

The seventh chapter presents us with another scene. The ark abides twenty years at Kirjath-jearim, and the children of Israel lament after the Lord. on them the putting away the strange gods, and prepar,

; ing their hearts unto the Lord. The children of Israel do so, and Samuel gathers the whole congregation to Mizpeh. There they fast and humble themselves before the Lord, and say, " We have sinned against the Lord.” The Philistines hear that they are gathered together, and come up against them. Israel, no longer self-confident as at the beginning of chap. iv., are afraid of the Philistines, and entreat Samuel to pray for them. It is no longer the ark they trust in, but God, the living God, himself. “ Cease not to cry unto the Lord our God for us, that he will save us out of the hand of the Philis

Samuel takes a sucking lamb, and offers it for a burnt offering wholly to the Lord; he cries also to the Lord for Israel, and the Lord hears him. “And as Samuel was offering up the burnt-offering [the sweet savour VOL.II. PT.IV.

21

Samuel urges

tines."

of the perfect work of Christ], the Philistines arew near to battle against Israel; but the Lord thundered with a great thunder that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel.” In chap. iv. Israel, strong and self-confident and trusting ordinances, with unhumbled, unbroken hearts, making God's ordinances a sanction for their iniquity, are smitten before the Philistines, and the ark led captive into the enemy's land. In chap. vi., God, having vindicated his name against the Philistines, and brought back his ark in triumph to the land of Israel, the men of Beth-shemesh, glad to have the ark back again, but still unhumbled as to what had occasioned its capture, they have to learn in yet deeper trial what a holy Lord God they have to do with. In chap. vii., Israel, humbled, broken-hearted, confessing and putting away their iniquities, cry to the Lord, and to him only, in their distress. The sweet savour of the work of Jesus (typically) ascends up before God — the people say, “We have sinned”—and God, who has no controversy with those who are on their faces, trusting in Jesus, and crying to himself, thunders on the Philistines, and utterly discomfits them before Israel. Samuel, who had been raised up before the judgment descended on Eli and on Israel, takes his place as judge; and the Philistines came no more into the coasts of Israel; but the hand of the Lord is against them all the days of Samuel. “ And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. And he went from year to year in circuit to Bethel, and Gilgal, and Mizpeh, and judged Israel in all those places. And his return was to Ramah, for there was his house; and there he judged Israel, and there he built an altar unto the Lord.” Blessed, peaceful close of a narrative, unfolding at its commencement, and in its course, such scenes of wickedness, of judgment and of sorrow. The Lord keep us, beloved, from the vain presumptuous confidence and falseheartedness evinced at Shiloh and at Aphek!

phek! May we be preserved also, from the unhumbled joy, even in the Lord's deliverance, which met its terrible rebuke at Beth-shemesh! And oh, that we may know, one and all

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of us, the broken-heartedness, the confession, the putting a way of evil

, the fear and trembling, the crying to the Lord, and the presenting His perfect work in the sweet savour of it, which God so owned and blest at Mizpeh! May these holy, gracious lessons, not be lost upon us; but may our hearts know the power of them, by the Spirit, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake! Amen.

THE TWO LAMECHS.

In Gen. iii. we see what man, as a creature, was. How powerless, foolish, without purpose! Man, the good, -- yet but a creature, left to himself, where every blessing was his, did not stand, -would not hold his blessing. And now he is out of Eden and is there where sorrow and trial make his corrupted self to feel the fall.

In Gen. iv. we see the course of man on the earth.-Out of Eden, God would still have to do with man, fallen though he was: but Çain had a way of his own, would not bow to God, and became the seed of the world, driven out from the presence of the Lord upon earth. Corruption marks the whole.

In Gen. v, we see the people, among whom God set light, in the family of Seth.—But how suddenly does the bright ffame which flickers in Enoch expire! What a light was this Enoch! He names his son, too, who died just before the deluge, Methuselah: (At) his death, He sends (it).

In the family of Cain there was a Lamech (Gen. iv. 18, 19), and in the family of Seth there was a Lamech (Gen. v. 25, and i Chr. i. 3, and Luke iii. 26). Both held the place of last but one in the pedigree. And both evinced the same folly; that of allowing their own minds to make deductions from the truth of God. The first argued, and gave it out as a testimony, that as God was pledged to vindicate the wilful murderer, Cain, sevenfold; He would vindicate him (an unwilling man slayer) seventy times seven. The second cheered his friends by a testimony that Noah, his son, whose name was well called (Rest or) Noah, "Shall confort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed.” But they were all swept away in the flood, -not when Noah comforted those to whom God had given sorrow, but—when God gave rest to Noah in the ark. In the infidel world there was a Lamech to reason upon Revelation; and in the Seth channel of light, there was a Lamech to do likewise: for man is ever a corrupter, and the corruption of religious man differs little from the corruption of irreligious man. Compare also Rom. i. 29–31, and 2 Tim. iii. 2-5.

May we take heed to the warning!

No. XXXIX.

PROPHECY, ISRAEL'S ENCOURAGEMENT TO
BUILD THE TEMPLE. COMPARISON OF

.
EZRA, HAGGAI, AND ZECHARIAH.

The peculiarity of the prophecies of Haggai and Zechariah is, that they present, especially, the Lord's recognition of a remnant in Judah, who were delivered from the Babylonish captivity, under Zerubbabel, and whose history is given in the early chapters of the book of Ezra, a so far as it is connected with these prophecies.

The decree of Cyrus which gave the occasion, and the authority, for this movement on the part of the Jews is thus strikingly given in the words of the Persian conqueror. “Thus saith Cyrus, king of Persia, The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth: and he hath charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people ? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel (He is the God) which is in Jerusalem."

This decree became a test of the moral condition of the people: for it presented, in the foremost place, an object attractive only to the heart that was in alliance with God; and could therefore esteem its own ease and comfort as nothing in comparison with His glory. The language of the decree was, “Who is there among you

a It should be observed that the prophesying of Haggai and Zechariah related only to the period of Zerubbabel's governorship; the history of which concludes with the account of the dedication of the house of God in the sixth chapter of Ezra according to the prediction of Zechariah ; “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house, his hands also shall finish it." The mission of Ezra, which is recorded in the seventh chapter, to the end, introduces us to a much later period;--perhaps near eighty vears after the decree of Cyrus; and Nehemiah's coming to Jerusalem was a few years later. "Malachi, presents us with the last inspired glimpse of this remnant which the Old Testament affords.

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