Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,
says Yahweh of Hosts. Zechariah 4:6
Lift up your heads, O gates, and be lifted up, O ancient doors,
That the King of Glory may come in! Who is this King of Glory?
Yahweh of Hosts: He is the King of Glory. Psalm 24:9-10
"Deliver me from the oppression of man,
that I may keep your precepts."
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, from external as well as from internal enemies -- not only from their own iniquity but also from the oppression of man. Yet "man is only the Lord's hand and sword" (Ps. 17:13, 14), and he cannot move except under the overruling guidance of our Father's wisdom and love. The believer, indeed, would not desire to be delivered from trouble on account of personal pain and distress, yet he often finds that peculiar circumstances of trial can become an unavoidable hindrance in the service of his God. His conviction sends him to the throne of grace, and there he never pleads in vain. "He cries unto Yahweh because of the oppressors: and He will send a Savior and a Mighty One, and He will deliver him."
The power of faith is indeed omnipotent. Mountains are removed from their place, or they become plains before it. The "worm" is enabled to "thresh them, and beat them small, and make them as chaff." Often the Christian is strengthened to overcome the most formidable opposition and to make a good confession before many witnesses, who are watching for him to stumble. The grace of Christ will make the hardest duty easy, and the love of Christ will make the sharpest trials sweet. Nevertheless, there may be times when obstacles to conscientious service are not removed, such as when a child of God is restrained in the fetters of a worldly family from a free and avowed obedience. Then we may lawfully pray that the providence of God would deliver from the oppression of man, that we might keep his precepts.
A time of deliverance, as well as a time of persecution, has proved a season of extraordinary prosperity in the church of God. "Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied." Whatever the benefit of persecution, however, we often find in our individual experiences that the weariness of a long-protracted conflict is more than flesh and blood can bear. But he who "knows our frame" will not refuse to help in answer to the prayers of his afflicted people. This prayer, however, must be presented with exceeding caution and self-jealousy; for our proneness, self-indulgence, and natural inclination is to shrink from discipline, which is as needful as our food. There is a great danger that in our eagerness to escape from the difficulties of our path we should lose the most important benefit intended by them. We must therefore accompany the petition for deliverance with a sincere purpose to keep God's precepts. Let us not be like the many who expose the unsoundness of their own hearts -- once the supplication has been heard and the deliverance granted, their promise of obedience is promptly forgotten.
Fellow Christian, have your circumstances of trial ever dictated this prayer? How then have you improved your liberty when the answer has been granted? Has the way of escape made for you been kept in grateful remembrance? Has the effect of your deliverance been visible in an increasing love and devotedness to the Lord's service? Oh, let a special Ebenezer be set up to mark this special achievement of prayer. Let the mercy be connected with the sympathy of our "faithful and merciful High-Priest, who being himself touched with the feeling of your infirmities," has pleaded for your aid and release. Be encouraged henceforth to tread the ways of God with more firmness and determination, "having your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace." But remember, the blessing of the cross is lost if it does not issue in a song of praise, and if it is not received as a token of fatherly love.
At all times the safest and shortest way to peace is to let God use his own methods with us. Let us live for him now in the situation in which he has placed us, not dreaming of other circumstances more favorable to our spiritual prosperity but leaving ourselves, our difficulties, our discouragements in the hands of him who makes no mistakes in any of his dispensations. He orders them all so that they may turn to our salvation through our prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:19.)
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