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
"I remembered your judgments of old, O Yahweh,
and have comforted myself."
The Lord's dealings with his people were a frequent subject of meditation to the Psalmist, and now they were his present support under "the scourge of the tongue" (Job 5:21). They were, evidently, put upon record for the encouragement of future generations.
We are all too ready to imagine that there is something peculiar about our own case, that the fiery trial we are experiencing is unique to us. But when we remember the Lord's judgments of old with his people, we can comfort ourselves in the assurance that throughout the ages these same afflictions were experienced by our brethren; and as the sufferings of Christ abounded in them, so their consolation also abounded through Christ. They encountered the same ridicule of the proud but always experienced the same support from the faithfulness of their God.
We do not sufficiently consider the mercy and gracious wisdom of God in occupying so much of his written word with the records of his judgments of old. One class will pay greater attention to the preceptive, another to the doctrinal parts of revelation. However, each is forgetting that the historical records comprise a full and striking illustration of both, and have always proved a most supporting ground of consolation to the Lord's people. The important design in casting so large a portion of the Bible into historical form is every way worthy of its author. "For whatsoever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope" (Rom. 15:4). The diligent student of the Word will bear ample witness how admirably adapted these means are to the end.
To willfully neglect the historical portion of the sacred volume, because we deem some portions more spiritual than others, would show a sad deficiency of spiritual apprehension. It would deprive us of most valuable instruction and comfort. This neglect would, for instance, exclude us from one eminent means of increasing "patience" by ignoring the example of those who through faith and patience inherited the promises; of receiving "comfort" in the experience of the faithfulness of God manifested in every age to his people; and of reviving "hope" in noting the happy issue of the patience of the saints and the heavenly support administered to them. Away with the belief that there need be little interest in the Scriptural records of past ages! It is evident that the sacred historians, as well as the prophets, were ministering to us. "To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven--things which angels desire to look into" (1 Pet. 1:12).
Let us select one or two instances as illustrative of this point. Consider first the records of the deluge and of the overthrow of the cities of the plain. Why were they preserved if not to enlighten the church that the Lord--the Savior of Noah and the deliverer of just Lot--knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust to the day of judgment to be punished? What a source of comfort, then, to the tempted people of God when they remember "this judgment of old." Second, take the wonderful account of the overthrow of the Egyptians and the consequent deliverance of God's ancient people. This recollection is a ground of assurance that under similar circumstances of trial the same illustrious displays of Divine faithfulness and love may be confidently expected!
The Church looks back upon what the arm of the Lord has done in ancient days as the pattern of what he ever will do for his purchased people. God himself recalls to our mind this overthrow and deliverance as a ground of present encouragement and support--"As in the days when you came out of the land of Egypt, I will show them wonders" (Mic. 7:15). And the Church echoes back this remembrance in the expression of her faith, gratitude, and expectation for spiritual blessings: "He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea" (v. 19).
This is the inspiring use of the historical parts of Scripture! This is the comfort to be derived from the remembrance of the Lord's judgments of old! And will not the recollection of his "judgments of old" with ourselves produce the same support? Will not the retrospect of his dealings with our own souls convince us that all his paths are mercy and truth? The assurance is therefore justified both by experience and by Scripture--"We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose" (Rom. 8:28).
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