The "Together-ness" of God's Family

"Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves TOGETHER, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching" (Hebrews 10:25).

"For where two or three are gathered TOGETHER in My name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20).

"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell TOGETHER in unity" (Psalm 133:1). "With one mind striving TOGETHER for the faith of the gospel" (Philippians 1:27).

We may, perhaps, not have realized that, just as a register of the children's attendance is kept at a public school, so God keeps a register in heaven in which He records the gatherings together of His children on earth, and who they are who so gather to speak of Him and to think on His name. That remarkable passage, Malachi 3:16, certainly teaches us this: "Then 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 it is evidently a cause of delight to Him also to see His own gather together, else why should He add, "And they shall be Mine, says the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up My jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him." How profoundly it should affect us to know that every time His children meet together to speak of Him, it delights His heart; that He counts it as a service to Himself that only a son can render to a father, and that a register of attendance is kept in a book that is written before Him. We ought, surely, to be very ambitious to please Him in this respect and to have full attendance marks in His book of remembrance.

But that which pleases Him is a joy also to His children, for they are above all things gregarious in their desires and habits, that is, if they are in vigorous spiritual health and are not backsliders. They do not love a solitary path, they must have the companionship of others who are also of God's family. It is one of the chief characteristics of their nature, and in this way God's will for His people and their desires are in perfect accord.

This love of the companionship of the brethren is shown strikingly in the life of Paul, in whom every thought of God for a saint and servant on earth was delineated. In all his missionary journeys in the Acts he was accompanied by one or more fellow-helpers, and when the brethren sent him to Athens to escape the persecutions of the Jews he sent a command to Silas and Timotheus to come to him with all speed; he did not wish to be alone (Acts 17). On another occasion he wrote, "Only Luke is with me. Take Mark and bring him with thee" (2 Tim. 4). And when he was forsaken by all for one brief hour, as he stood in the very jaws of the lion, he records the fact as though it cost him poignant grief, though he was able also to bear witness to the Lord's sustaining presence and delivering power.

It is when the divine life begins to decline and the love of the world displaces love to the brethren that saints lose their taste for each other's company. A shepherd knows that something is wrong with the sheep that isolate themselves from the flock. It was because this decline was showing itself amongst the Hebrew saints that the Holy Ghost exhorted them not to forsake the assembling of themselves together, but to exhort one another, and so much the more as they saw the day approaching (Heb. 10:25).

It is not the will of God that His children should walk alone; He has set them in His family, and His will for them is that they should know the blessedness of family life. If we hold fast to our assembling together, because we know that it pleases Him to have us do so, we shall soon discover what joy and help it yields, and we shall count it a positive deprivation when we are hindered from so doing.

There are those, invalids, aged people, and mothers of large families, and others who cannot, or who are able only rarely to, gather together with those that fear the Lord, and He can and will make up to such what they lose, for He "despiseth not His prisoners" (Ps. 69), but for the rest Hebrews 10:25 is imperative; and may we so assemble that Psalm 133 may be true of us: "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity."