“Be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long,” is a healthy and necessary word.
The grace of God has done much for us: it has saved us, it has justified us freely, it has redeemed and reconciled us to God, and we do well to respond to the exhortation, “Wherefore, we receiving a kingdom that cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”
This fear of the Lord is not the slavish dread that marks the superstitious. No. It is a reverent trustfulness accompanied by hatred of evil. “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil” (Prov. 8:13). “The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever.” Where this is maintained the presence of the Lord is a reality and joy.
His presence is with the assembly till He comes again to take us to be with Himself in the Father’s house. He never leaves or forsakes His own.
“He with His church has always stood;
His loving kindness, oh, how good!”
It is, however, one thing for His presence to be with us, and it is another thing to be in a state to recognize it, and to enjoy the holy peace and blessedness of it. “No flesh shall glory in God’s presence” (1 Cor. 1:29), but rest, edification, and the comfort of the Holy Ghost are experimentally known there. Here lies the secret of true prosperity, as is evidenced in the early records of the assemblies in the Acts, “walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost,” they were multiplied (Acts 9:31). When these conditions are absent the very opposite of this is present. Strifes about doctrines, parties, traditions, distinctive tenets, leaders, along with boasted zeal for the truth are rife, and result neither in comfort nor prosperity, but in schools of opinion, jealousies, disputes, contentions and divisions. Let the Spirit be ungrieved, and self-judgment be maintained in the presence of the Lord and in the fear of the Lord, then these things will flee the field like a flock of night birds before the dawn.
It is touching to read that one reason given why the supplications of our Lord Jesus Christ were heard was because of His piety, or because He feared (Heb. 5:7). Who could claim to be in the path of God’s will more than He? Who walked in the truth and was so zealous for it as He? Who loved the good and hated the evil as He did? Yet He was in the fear of God all the day long. “Preserve Me, O God,” He prayed, “for in Thee do I put My trust”; and again, “Thy law is within My heart,” and “Thy word have I hid in Mine heart.” If we put the acrostic Psalms 111 and 112 side by side, we see how those who belong to Christ take character from Him. The former speaks of Christ and the latter of the one who trusts in Him. The former ends by telling us that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”: the latter begins by telling us of the blessedness or happiness of “the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in His commandments.” In the third verse of the one Christ’s “righteousness endureth for ever”: in verse 3 of the other the same thing is said of the believer’s righteousness, and that must be so because Christ is his righteousness. God has made Him his righteousness as well as his wisdom.
It is this divinely granted attitude of heart and mind which the Spirit enables. the true remnant to maintain. Grace is given to them to follow that which is good. In the closing moments of the present period they follow righteousness, faith, love, peace, with those who sincerely have the Lord before their hearts (2 Tim. 2:22). Himself and His love have won their affections, and out of “a pure heart” they call upon the Lord Himself. Thus they approve themselves to be of the assembly which Christ is building upon the revelation which the Father has made to them of Him, the Son of the living God (see Matt. 16).
The remnant at the close of Old Testament days were marked by the same characteristics. We are not told that they busied themselves with reconstructing or correcting anything. But a deep and real revival was theirs. The unreal would not care for their company; for they would have no heart for the theme that filled them with untold joy. “They that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon His Name. And they shall be Mine, says the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up My jewels” (Mat. 3:16).
Great was the delight that this remnant found in their meditations upon “HIS NAME,” but greater was the delight of the Lord in them.
It is the happy business of the assembly to delight in what He is, even though He graciously permits her to know what pleasure He finds in her. The spirit of the false assembly, Babylon, says, “I sit as a queen”; that of the true, seen in the remnant, says, “HE is altogether lovely.” Where He is all the assembly is: where He is displaced by the exaltation of the church, or man, or any other thing, the assembly is not. It is Christ and the assembly: not the assembly and Christ. In all things the pre-eminence is His. And rightly so, says the remnant. “Our desire is towards Him.” This is the holy exercise of the true bride in the presence of the Lord. She reverences her husband (it might read, “Fear the husband,” N.Tr. Eph. 5:33), while she knows that he loves her as Himself.
Whilst feeling, but not being engrossed with the failure around them, how brightly would the glory of the unfailing One, the unchanging One, shine before the happy hearts of the remnant who “feared the Lord,” for they spake often together; and what He is—His Name, was their holy theme—they “thought upon HIS NAME.” And this is the theme of those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart today; and that in a deeper sense even than in Malachi’s day, for the full revelation of God has since been made known to us in Him. It is also the theme of the Holy Spirit, even as it is of the Holy Scriptures which are inspired by Him. “When He is come,” said the Lord Jesus, “He shall glorify Me.” What an exhaustless subject of glory and love is provided for our conversation and meditation.
“No subject so glorious as He,
No theme so affecting to us.”
What seasons of refreshing and edification were and are the precious portion of those who fear the Lord and think upon HIS NAME. Has not the reader proved this? Has he not also proved the subtle religious pride and workings that robs the heart of such seasons? Shall we not with purpose of heart, then, pursue in the future the way of first love, the way of the Spirit, and the way of the bride?
Soon He will come! THE BRIGHT, MORNING STAR will quickly shine out!
Those who have heard the testimony of Himself in the assemblies are ready in true love to welcome Him. To Him “the Spirit and the bride say, Come.” What a welcome awaits Him! What a contrast to His first coming! Ah, great and glorious shall be His joy when He takes us up to present us to Himself!
“The Bridegroom and the bride
Are seen in glory ever,
And love is satisfied.”
He will come and He will shine forth eventually as the Sun of righteousness in view of millennial, earthly blessing. A star may be larger than the sun which is set in immediate relation to the earth. The sun looks greater because of its nearness. One far-off star, beyond the planetary system, called “the king of the heavens,” is a thousand times larger than the sun, and a million times farther away from the earth. Certainly the Morning Star, the heavenly Bridegroom, involves greater glories than the Sun of righteousness for the earth; yet all centre, in this case, in our glorious Saviour, in One and the same Person; but, relatively speaking, a vaster cluster of glories encircle Him as the bright, Morning Star than as the Sun of righteousness, although both are indeed glorious. To the earthly remnant at the end of the Old Testament, in view of a future day, it is said, “Unto you that fear My name shall the SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS arise with healing in His wings” (Mal. 4:2). To the real in the assemblies, it is said at the end of the New Testament, “I, JESUS . . . am the Root and the Offspring of David, the bright MORNING STAR . . . I come quickly” (Rev. 22:16-20 N.Tr.). Meanwhile the last word breathed by the Spirit is, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with ALL THE SAINTS” (last verse of the Bible, N.Tr.).
In the sense of this grace, and of the presence of the Lord with us, we are to walk in the fear of the Lord all the day long. This will preserve us in a condition which is agreeable to Him, as we wait His return.