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His Banner Over Me Was Love

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

His Banner Over Me Was Love

Song of Solomon 2:4 - “He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.”

 

Many of us have been cooped up in our homes, unable to socialize or worse, not able to enjoy the fellowship of the saints worshiping together in God’s house. Oh, how good it is now that we can once again go to church twice on Sundays.

This book is a song sung between King Solomon and the Shulamite. As they sing together of their great love for each other, they are a picture of the love between Jesus Christ and His church. It is an intimate love, longing for each other and delighting in one another. The bridegroom’s left hand is under her head, and with his right hand he caresses her. He whispers his love to his bride, and the bride expresses her love to him. We have a celebration of Christ’s love for His church and every individual believer personally. “His banner over me is love.”

Can we know this love, not only intellectually but also experientially? Do you know it? We can! He tells us of His love. That is what make worship so joyful. At the beginning of the worship service, He says to his bride, “Beloved.” The gospel is preached, and He tells us that though we are black, we are comely (Chap. 1:5). We are black or dark with sin. We are black with suffering persecution, as one forced to work long under the hot sun; compared to the dwellings of nomadic Arabians in the desert. Outwardly, the true church is not glorious but suffers in this world, especially from hypocrites; yet she has true, inward beauty. She is washed from her sins, delivered from the power of sin, clothed with the righteousness of Christ Jesus.

The relationship between Christ and His people is not merely one of faith or service, important as these are. Believers are loved by Christ , and they in turn, love their Lord. We know that love because the gospel reveals it. “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (I John 4:9,10). We know it through the preaching of the gospel. We know it when we celebrate the sacraments. Oh, how we love coming back again to worship in church!

“He brought me into the banqueting house.” How did he bring us? He chose us in eternity to be the bride of Christ. Christ Jesus suffered and died to purchase us as His bride. By His Spirit and by His Word He draws us to Himself in faith and love. The literal wording in Hebrew for “banqueting house” is “house of wine.” Wine is the symbol of joy, happiness, fullness, and exuberance. The wife of Solomon says, “Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love” (Chap. 2:5). This expression means ‘love sick’—being full of and satisfied with His love. This must be the song of Christ’s bride, the church, and every individual believer within her.

God reveals in His Word and sacraments His great love to us. By faith, we know that love. Faith is a sure knowledge of all that God reveals in His Word, and a hearty confidence, that not only for others, but for me also is by His grace forgiveness of sins, righteousness, and the hope of eternal life. There is certainty because it is Christ that brought me to the banqueting house. It is not I who with a fickle love chose Him. It is not I who by my own beauty allured Him. It is not by my works performed that drew His attention. No, He, by His grace and mercy, sought me and bought me and brought me to His house of wine. By faith, I experience this love and break forth in singing! There is no doubt or fear in the child of God regarding Christ’s love for us. It is certain!

But we do not always walk on that high plain, do we? There are times that we wonder and even question His love. The Shulamite woke up in the night and did not find Solomon in bed with her. She stated “I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not.” So also, the Church and individual believers at times question, “Where is my beloved?” It seems that He is gone from us, gone from the bed of intimacy. When we walk in the way of sin, we will not experience God’s favor or love. He will seem far from us, just as we do not feel the sun’s light and warmth when a cloud covers it.

David surely experienced this when he was walking in sin. By withdrawing from us, Christ causes us to seek Him, to seek Him diligently.

How delightful is knowledge of Christ’s love for His bride, the church: more lovely than the earthly love of a husband for his wife. We read in vs. 5 and 6, “Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love.” The result of knowing Christ’s love is comfort, satisfaction, joy, and peace. Completely satisfied, more so that any other comfort can bring. We go up to God’s house feasting, feasting on Christ Jesus in the word preached and the sacraments portrayed and enjoyed. May you and I be overwhelmed as we worship and live before Him.

Read The Song of Solomon. The expressions used in this wonderful book speak of physical love and describe the gestures and attitudes that are familiar to us in our human understanding of marital love. God has seen fit to represent His love for His people in the institution of marriage (Eph. 5:22-33). Yet the love of God in Christ Jesus transcends all earthly relationships. His love is eternal, infinite, and unchanging.

Experiencing Christ’s love for us, my we sing:

Thy love to me, O Christ, Thy love to me,

Not mine to Thee I plead, Not mine to Thee.

This is my comfort strong, this is my joyful song,

Thy love to me, thy love to me.

 

Thy record I believe, Thy word to me;

Thy love I now receive, full, changeless, free-

Love from the sinless Son, Love to the sinful one,

Thy love to me, Thy love to me.

 

 

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A Vision of God's Glorious Holiness

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

A Vision of God's Glorious Holiness

Meditation on Isaiah 6: 1-3

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto the other another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.

What a vision is given to the prophet Isaiah! A terrible thing has just occurred. The godly king, Uzziah, had died. What an unsettling blow to the people. Uzziah had kept the wheels of commerce spinning and the walls around the nation secure. Now that he has died, people are wondering whether the good times will continue, whether their nation would be secure. I know that many are asking those same questions at this time in our nation and in the world.

Isaiah is being called to address Judah who is walking in sin. Isaiah’s task will not be pleasant. He must bring a message of God’s judgment and a time of captivity in Babylon. Jerusalem will be destroyed. Israel will be redeemed by judgment! It is not a word that the people want to hear and his message will not be received well at all. Isaiah will endure much opposition and suffering. Isaiah must have the unshakeable conviction that he speaks the word of God according to the mandate of God Himself. The wicked will be revealed as they contradict the prophet and refuse to listen. But God’s true people need to hear this word to be assured of the comfort and hope of his prophecy.

To strengthen this servant of God, he is given a vision of God’s glory! In his vision, Isaiah sees the heavenly temple. God is sitting on a high and exalted throne and the Lord’s garments filled the temple so that there is no place left to stand. Pictured first is the sovereignty of God. In addition, Isaiah sees seraphim, angels of some sort standing above the temple. They are calling to one another, “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is filled of his glory.” As Isaiah stands in the doorway, the posts of the door shake and tremble and the room is filled with smoke.

The meaning of the vision centers on God. He is the highly exalted Lord of heaven and earth. He is glorious in His appearance and holy in his nature as judge of heaven and earth. His throne is described in vs. 1 as “high and lifted up.” But that throne is not in a palace, but there in the temple! The idea is that God is present with his people in covenant fellowship. Where the Lord dwells in his royal majesty and glory, there is no room for any other than the exalted Lord. This is still true in your and my hearts. God and God alone!

The glory of God is in all of his virtues, but what is especially brought forth is the glory of His holiness. This is the virtue whereby God is eternal and unchangingly consecrated and dedicated to Himself alone. The word “holy” is repeated three times. It is the Hebrew way of expressing the greatness and superlative holiness of God. It also pictures all three of the persons of the Godhead being full of holiness. As king and judge, He demands that His creatures be consecrated to Him in all that they are and all that they do. With those who are consecrated to Him, He is full of favor, grace, and love. Against all the wicked, God manifests His holiness in wrath and as a consuming fire! That the whole earth may be filled with His glory means that no place shall be left for the wicked.

While this is a glorious vision, it is also frightening. We see that in Isaiah’s reaction, “Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” Isaiah recognizes his own sin and unworthiness. He also must go and speak the word of God to a people of unclean lips. What a difficult calling! He must take a message of trouble, of judgment, of destruction and death, and of captivity to others. That message must be brought against Judah.

We also today, as a church, must bring that message to a world in trouble and sin. And in order to do so, we need, like Isaiah, to see God’s glory and holiness and our own sins and unworthiness so that we do not self-righteously exalt ourselves above others. This is true of every child of God.

How wonderful that in order for Isaiah to speak God’s word, the Lord sanctifies him. The live coal taken from off the altar of sacrifice represents the love of God whereby He is appeased by the blood that was shed. That coal was laid upon the unclean lips of Isaiah, and he is told that his iniquity is taken away, and his sin purged. Now Isaiah is fit to be the instrument to bring not his own word but the word of God. The blood of Jesus has been shed upon the cross, so that all those who are His have their sins removed, and by Christ’s Spirit we are sanctified to be instruments of His peace.

God asks, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” May we answer with Isaiah, “Hear I am; send me.” This is a difficult task, because many today, as in Isaiah’s day, do not want to hear about their sin and God’s judgment upon the sinner. But it is also a glorious task, for pointing to ourselves, we declare that there is blood that was shed for the remission of sins. “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come” (Rev. 4:8). The whole earth is filled with his glory!

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! Though the darkness hide thee,

Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see,

Only Thou art holy; there is none beside thee,

Perfect in power, in love, and purity.

 

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Peace in the Storm (A Special Meditation)

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

Meditation on Isaiah 26:3,4

Peace in the Storm”

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the LORD forever: for in the LORD Jehovah is everlasting strength.”

Our text is part of a song, sung by God’s people. It reflects upon the coming day of God’s deliverance of His people. It is sung in the midst of troubles that must yet be faced. The theme of the Book of Isaiah is that “Zion shall be redeemed by judgment” (Isa. 1:27). This means that the wicked will be punished, but also that God’s people will be chastised for their own good. How desolate she shall stand in this world. God’s people must be reminded of the deliverance that will be seen and experienced. We hold on to the promise of God that He will build a strong city with salvation as its walls. The gates of that city must be opened up for us that we may enter in and enjoy the security. If the gates are shut, the walls will not be helpful. It is through the Lord Jesus that we have access. The church as a righteous nation enters the city by Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross. There we receive perfect safety and will dwell forever. The keeper of the city gives protection.

Perfect peace: literally in the Hebrew it is: “Peace, peace.” Isaiah, using repetition, conveys the thought of super abundant peace. God gives supernatural peace to those who trust Him (see also Phil. 4:6,7). This peace is a gift of God. It is the opposite of fear and doubt, anxiety, trouble, conflict, and warfare. It is not an earthly peace or a peace wrought by human hands or treaties. It is a spiritual peace, a peace with God and with other believers.

What a great conflict there was between us and God and between us and our fellow human beings because of sin. God is wrathful with those who contend against Him. Because of their idolatry, Judah is going to be brought down to Babylon. God hides Himself in His anger. But here is a beautiful promise. God will not always be angry. He gives double peace. What good news! There is more peace than all the world can promise or give you. Peace is through the cross of Jesus Christ and the righteousness He imputes to us. There is forgiveness for all our sins. The gospel points us to peace so that we can face all our troubles with confidence. Our peace is in the safety of being children of God, under His protection and care. May we then live in the consciousness of His gracious forgiveness! If God is for us, who can be against us? God reigns over all things and circumstances.

When our conscience accuses us, Satan is busy trying to cause us to doubt our salvation. We know that we are still inclined to all wickedness. But we read in I John 3:20, “For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.” God sees us in Christ Jesus! We face death, and we know that death is the wages of sin (Rom. 6:23). But when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we have peace, for we know that Christ won the victory over sin and death. Jesus Christ takes His own home to glory.

There is no peace if we are willingly walking in the way of sin and disobedience! Our minds must be stayed or fixed on the LORD. The word “stayed” in our verse means to be propped up, leaned upon. In other words, we are not self-confident. We know our own weakness and sinfulness. We lean upon the Lord like a crippled man leans upon his cane. He cannot stand or walk with out it. We are unfaithful. God is Jehovah, the one who is unchangeably faithful to His covenant for Christ’s sake. He established his covenant, realizes it in Christ, and will perfect it. God sent his Son, removing the wall of depravity and sin. We read in Romans 5:1, “Therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” We look, our eyes are fixed upon our God.

When Peter looked at Jesus, he was able to walk on the water. But the moment he took his eyes off Jesus to the storm-tossed waters, he sunk. Christ alone is our peace. May the Holy Spirit work on our minds by the Gospel. There we hear the voice of our Savior. Looking to Him, the fears, doubts, and anxieties of our minds are chased away, and instead there is a calm spirit, joyful peace. When the Lord chastises us His children, we do not doubt His love or power to save. Instead, we see it as His fatherly testing of us and working to purify us and strengthening our faith. Christ is our peace (Eph. 2:14).

So, trust in the LORD. Fix your eyes and mind and heart upon Him. He cares for you. In Him, we need not fear. In Him is all our hope. In Him is all our strength. Trust Him in every situation. The trials of life often bring doubt and anxiety to our minds, but we must cast these off. It is only when our mind and thoughts are propped up upon the Lord, thinking of Him, that we will experience peace regardless of circumstances. What anxieties trouble you? How can you lean upon the Lord?

Open up your Bible. Cling to His promises. Listen to His voice. I do not know which was more troubled: the disciple’s minds or the storm-tossed sea (Mark 4:37ff). They cried out, “Master, carest thou not that we perish? Jesus arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?”

“Trust ye in the LORD for ever.” Jesus is in your storm-tossed boat. Look to Him in faith and trust. May you hear Him say, “Peace, be still.”

When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll; What ever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, “It is well, it is well with my soul.”

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Living or Dying in Christ

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

Meditation on Philippians 1:21

Living or Dying in Christ

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

A short Scripture text means a short meditation, right? No, it does not, especially for ministers. The less notes I take in the pulpit, the longer the sermon is. In our text, we need to understand what it means for the Apostle Paul when he states, “to live is Christ.” Second, how we learn to live for Christ, Third, we need to know why “to die is gain.” Should we wish for death?

The Apostle Paul wrote these verses to the believers in Philippi. They were concerned for him. Paul was a prisoner in Rome, waiting for his trial before Caesar. This trial could end with the Apostle facing death. In Paul’s absence, there were some who were preaching Christ out of envy and strife, and therefore they were adding affliction to Paul’s prison life. Paul wrote to comfort those saints who were concerned about his welfare. He said that all that was really important was that Christ was being preached. Paul was only concerned that his Savior was exalted and the gospel extended. Paul’s greatest concern in either life or death was magnifying Christ, his Master (vs. 20). Paul informs the Philippians that he is not afraid to die. He would be with Christ.

When the Apostle said so emphatically, “to me” placing this word at the very beginning of the sentence, he is giving a profound personal testimony. At the same time, he was drawing a contrast between the preachers who are proclaiming Christ out of selfish ambition. Paul was not self-centered, but Christ-centered. “For me to live is Christ.” Is this true of your life? Paul was concerned with the honor and glory of his wonderful Redeemer.

Paul was speaking of his life lived from day to day, continuous living on earth as a child of God. He could have spoken of the continuous hardships that he had faced. He experienced a thorn in his flesh that he had prayed might be removed. He had been beaten, stoned, and left for dead. He had been in prison both in Philippi and now in Rome. Oh, how he had suffered for the sake of the gospel. But he did not speak about those things. He spoke about Christ! Christ was the center of his whole life. Christ was everything. This was not just his preaching to others. Paul himself relied upon Christ for the whole of his salvation. He would boast in nothing but Christ crucified.

What is it to live in Christ? It is to derive one’s strength from Christ (Phil. 4:13), to have the mind, the humble disposition of Christ (Phil. 2:5-11), to know Christ with the knowledge of Christian experience (Phil. 3:8), to be covered with Christ’s righteousness (Phil. 3:9), to rejoice in Christ (Phil. 3:1; 4;4), to live not for self but for His glory (II Cor. 5:14,15), to rest one’s faith on Christ and to love Him in return for His love (Gal. 2:20).

How is this life possible? Not in ourselves. We would live for pleasure, sin, earthly things. Paul had been trying to by his own works to be right with God. It was only by Christ taking ahold of him on the Damascus Road. It was by the Spirit of Christ giving him a new heart and working conversion and faith. Paul was turned around from a physical life that leads to death to a new life lived for Jesus Christ.

Can you make this personal confession, “For me to live is Christ”? Do you and I live this confession with our daily lives: in our marriage, being a parent, in the workplace, the friends that we have, in our recreation, what we think, what we desire, and everything that we do? May God work in us and give us the grace to live in Christ.

Then “to die is gain.” This seems so strange, for death is loss. It is the loss of earthly relationships, family, friends, earthly things, and even our earthly bodies for a while. We know from Rom. 6:23 that death is God’s punishment for sin. But my friend, the sting of death has been taken away ( I Cor. 15:55). Christ bore all the punishment for our sins in our place. Death now becomes a servant to take us as pilgrims and strangers to a far better land. Dying physically meant gain for Paul. It meant that he would be with Christ (see vs. 23), “at home with the Lord” (II Cor. 5:8). Death is the gateway to a clearer knowledge, more wholehearted perfect service, more exuberant joy, and a closer walk. No more sin or temptation, no more sickness, pain, trial, sorrow, affliction.

Death is gain! I will be with Christ. I will be like Christ. All the blessings of Christ will more abundantly be poured out. What do you live for? Is the glory and honor of Christ’s name more important to you, or is comfort and ease of life? Paul’s life was so wrapped up in Christ and the gospel that he wanted nothing more than to see the gospel advance, even if it meant that others sought to add to his affliction. When life’s circumstances get difficult, it is easy to become focused on self. May we say, “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.”

Jesus is all the world to me, My life, my joy, my all; He is my strength from day to day, Without him I would fall. Jesus is all the world to me, I want no better friend; I trust him now, I’ll trust him when life’s fleeting days shall end. Beautiful life with such a friend; Beautiful life that has no end,; Eternal life, eternal joy, He’s my friend.”

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Confidence in the Midst of Calamities

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

Meditation on Job 19: 25,26

Confidence in the Midst of Calamities

“For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.”

Job was in the midst of calamities. In one day, everything was taken away. All his children died. His servants were killed or stolen. He had a dreadful disease in his body: an awful breath, he was skin and bones, sores all over his body. Job was an outcast of society. His wife told him to commit suicide, and his friends despised him as a terrible sinner. He is reproached and persecuted. Job was all alone! What a terrible condition.

But Job had hope. He made an amazing confession. “I know that my redeemer liveth!’ He knew that he suffered this at God’s hand even though he did not know why (vs. 6ff). Let’s look at Job’s confession.

“Redeemer”: the Hebrew word has the idea of a vindicator, one who takes up the cause for another. There are many examples of this in the Old Testament. If someone murdered a member of your family, you could appoint a person to avenge the blood that was taken. If a family was sold into slavery because of debts owed, one like a Boaz came so that the household of Naomi and Ruth could be freed from bondage. It was a near kinsman who took care of Naomi and Ruth by allowing them to glean in his fields. He would take their land and harvest the crops for them. He would marry Ruth, so that there would be children. Without children, the woman would be cut off from God’s promise and inheritance. In Boaz’s marriage, Naomi and Ruth had a rich lineage, resulting in the Christ.

There was nothing that Job could do to stop his calamity, persecution, rebuke, or the accusations made against him. He clung to the One who would vindicate him and his righteousness: God in Christ Jesus. Job clung to his righteousness in Christ. While the dark clouds of calamity swirled around him, he lifted his eyes heavenward. “I know that my redeemer liveth.”

“My redeemer lives!” What a confession. While Job saw his own death (“though after my skin worms destroy this body”), he saw that his redeemer lives. He saw two things by faith. First, he confessed the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Job’s faith was like the faith of Abraham, when Abraham was called to kill his only son, Isaac, he knew that God was able to raise his son back to life (Hebrews 11:17-19). Second, Job knew that this vindicator “shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.” Over against what Satan, Job’s so-called friends, or the world had to say, his vindicator would declare Job righteous in God’s court. This was Job’s hope. He had a vindicator who would pay for his sins, who would take up his cause. Although accused as a terrible sinner by his three friends, Job knew that one day the redeemer would stand as Judge, declaring him righteous. He would be declared righteous, not by his own works but by the work of his redeemer. By the grace of God, Job had faith in this redeemer: one who would take up his cause before God himself! It is the promised seed of the woman, promised to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. One would come who would pay the debt for his sins.

The beauty and significance of this confession is found in how personal it is. Job speaks of “my redeemer.” Not only is there a redeemer, but he is mine! He will stand up for me and vindicate me. That means that Job was certain that God declares him righteous. God is for Job even though his so-called friends and society were against him. Notice the words, “I know that my redeemer lives.” “I know!” Not, “I think so” or “I hope so.” There is no certainty in that at all. Can you say, “I know that my redeemer lives”? Surely, if Job who lived in the time of types and shadows could have this certainty, how much more can we who have the completed Scriptures and who live after the fact of Jesus’ birth, suffering, death, and resurrection! “I know that my redeemer lives.” No ifs, buts, or perhaps; that would surely rob us of peace and comfort!

Job, facing his own death had the certainty of life afterwards. “And though after skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” They say that there are only two certainties in life: taxes and death. But for the child of God, there is the certainty of life after death. We shall see God. How? God is Spirit and therefore invisible. The answer is that we shall see God in the face of our Lord Jesus Christ. We shall dwell in his beauty and love and fellowship. Is this what you desire?

Job did not know why God had so afflicted him. You and I should not ask, “Why are these troubles coming to me? Why does God allow or cause it?” Know this, child of God; affliction is for our profit. By it, God is testing us. He is also weaning us from this life and all it has to offer, to the world which is to come. He is saying to us, “Look to me.” We are taught to live as those who desire to see God’s face. When is the last time that you have included in your prayers the petition, “Come Lord Jesus, yea, come quickly”?

I know my Redeemer lives. Therefore, I shall see God! This statement shows the indestructible nature of true, saving faith. In the midst of circumstances that Job did not understand, he nevertheless fell back on the most basic truth of the gospel: his redeemer lives! Redemption brings to mind the glorious truth that the Christian is owned by God, purchased with his own blood, declared righteous with the righteousness that God freely gives to him by grace alone through faith. Can you say, “I know that my Redeemer lives”?

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Murmuring or Singing? (A Meditation on Numbers 14:1,2)

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

Meditation on Numbers 14: 1,2

Murmuring or Singing?

And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel murmured...”

God’s people were standing at the border of Canaan, the promised land! This was a time for celebration and praise to the God who had delivered them from the bondage of Egypt and led them through the wilderness. They were right on the border of blessing. But they were faced with another crisis of faith. The twelve spies had returned from the land with vivid proof that the land was all God had promised it would be.

There was a majority report and a minority report. The majority report of the ten made no mention of God. Rather they reported: “The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitant thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.”

The minority report declared: “the land that we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it unto us; a land which floweth with milk and honey.”

Both reports acknowledged that the land will only be taken by fighting and conquest. Certainly, it would not be easy to conquer the land. It was not lying there vacant, ready to be taken. There were many and strong people there, and Israel could not simply walk in and possess it. They would have to fight. (In reality, there was no need for the spies to scout the land, but we read in Deuteronomy 1:21,22, when Moses set before the people the land that the LORD had promised them, they demanded of Moses to send men before them to search out the land. This was in itself an act of unbelief.) The first report was evil, because it was given with an evil purpose and great exaggeration. The report of the majority of the spies intended to impress one thing on the minds of the people. “We be not able to go up against the people” (Numb.13:3). It did not take into account the power of the unseen God. It did not remember the mighty deliverance out of Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea, the manna that fell from heaven, or the many deliverances the Lord had given them. The manna was still there, as was the cloud that still overshadows them by day or that blazes above them by night. We read that all the congregation cried, all of the people wept, all the children of Israel murmured. Theirs was the sin of self-pity, unbelief, and disobedience. They wish to die in the wilderness, or go back to the bondage of Egypt.

In contrast was the faith of men like Joshua and Caleb over against the unbelief of the rest of the children of Israel. We read “all the congregation cried” and “all the children of Israel murmured”. Of course, this does not refer to every individual. We know that there were those who did not murmur. There is always a small remnant such as those like Joshua and Caleb whose voices are drowned out by the noise of the whole. They speak of the glory and sureness of God’s promise and His help in the battles to come. For victory comes only by way of struggle and fighting. “They took of the fruit of the land in their hands, and brought it down unto us, and brought us word again, and said, It is a good land which the LORD our God doth give us…The LORD your God which goeth before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes” (Deut. 1:25,30). There was no need for fear or dismay, no reason to weep and wail. They were near the promised land. God was with them; he had fulfilled all his promises! Over against the lies of the ten spies, Caleb and Joshua bore witness to the truth. They warned the people not to rebel against the LORD. “The LORD is with us.”

Dear reader, do you today murmur in unbelief or sing praises in faith? What is your response when forced to stay home, or not able to work, or perhaps seeing your stock portfolio crumble? We are near the land of promise, heaven. Jesus is coming, coming soon. In the world, we can expect tribulation and trouble. The victory is gained not without a fight, the battle of faith. How are you dealing with the trial set before you? God is with His people. As He has so wonderfully delivered us in the past, led us all the way through our wilderness, do you cling and believe His promise? We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. We have a greater leader than Moses or Joshua. Our Lord Jesus has conquered sin, Satan, and death by His own death on the cross. He will give us the good land flowing with milk and honey! Sing and shout His praises. Stand firm in unwavering faith and hope. The LORD is with us: fear not! Not murmuring but singing!

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