Refusing and Giving Up

Brief notes of an address.

1916 167 I was thinking of the value of communion, and of the blessedness of having a life laid out for the Lord. Let us turn to some scriptures that combine the two. Gen. 14:17, Abraham returns from the slaughter of the kings victoriously. And the king of Sodom comes out to meet him. The Lord knew that would be a critical moment for Abraham, and He knows all about our future path. It is hidden from us, but His word is given us for a lamp to our feet, a light for our path — that we may see the end, and have light for every step. But God sees the end from the beginning, and He knows what will befall us; He knows also how to prepare us for what lies before us. This was a moment of temptation to Abraham, and God gives Melchizedek to meet him first. God knows how to fit in all the blanks.

It is the practical teaching of this chapter rather than the dispensational that I have before me. Here was refreshment for the victorious one. When God is on our side and the battle is the Lord's, it is then that victory is secured. Greater is He that is for us than any possible combination against us. Now Abraham is prepared. When told that he is blest of the Possessor of heaven and earth, he can meet the king of Sodom (ver. 21). He had not been a careless listener, he had treasured up the words in his heart and memory — he belonged to the Possessor of heaven and earth, and so he refused what the king of Sodom had to offer. Thus, too, must we be refusers. When the devil comes with the world (and Sodom is a type of the world looked at morally) Abraham is a refuser.

Egypt is the world in its prosperity, and Moses again is a refuser there. He made a blessed choice. He was a good calculator, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt. So Paul reckoned "that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Or like Rutherford
"The King there in His beauty,
Without a vail is seen;
It were a well-spent journey
Though seven deaths lay between:"
That blessed One in the glory is the One we should be occupied with.

Babylon is the world in its religious aspect, and there were refusers there also — Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. What a temptation to them to forget the claims of God, and to lower the standard. So the devil says today, 'Everything is broken up, you must not be too particular'! Away with such a thought! What a blessed man was Abraham! What a blessed man was Moses! What a blessed man was Daniel! How all this should appeal to our hearts! May we be saved from following Esau who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. Abraham would not have the world's store. The devil's subtilty is our great danger. SometimesThe tries to frighten us. He tried to get the blessed Lord from the place of dependence, but He stood firm, even when the time came when "it was your hour and the power of darkness." He could not be overcome with terrors. He defeated Satan in every way.

We get something akin to this in Gen. 15, "Fear not Abraham." God saw the fear, but He who had prepared him to meet the king of Sodom now encourages him, and says, 'You are no loser,' Abraham, "I am thy shield" — what a place of blessed security to have God as our shield! — "and thy exceeding great reward." In all our dangers a shield, and at the end an exceeding great reward! We often break down instead of enduring. Even Abraham did not wait for God, but took Hagar, and so had Ishmael, who was not the child of promise. May He keep us enduring!

Turn now to 1 Sam. 17. Here we have, in type, the secret of a life laid out for the Lord Jesus Christ, through the constraining love of Christ. It makes one think of Gal. 2:20, "I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. And the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me." I have got everything in Him Who loved me and gave Himself for me. Well, we are all acquainted with this seventeenth chapter of 1 Samuel. The Israelites here are all filled with fear, and David appears. Jonathan, a man not without faith, had shared the fear. He was a very interested spectator of what took place in the valley of Elah. When Adam fell, he did not seek the Lord, the Lord sought Adam, and announced the first gospel. which was that the Seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head. David's stone smote the giant's head, and by his own sword was he decapitated (cf. Heb. 2:14). Jonathan sees David (a type of the risen One) with the head of the giant in his hand, and his heart was won by David, who was more than conqueror. There was a sense of indebtedness in Jonathan. We have learnt the love of our Saviour surely, for has He not won our hearts, and does not His love constrain us? Here it is not "refusing," but "giving up." Jonathan's love is witnessed in that he stript himself. What a joy to Jonathan thus to express his love to David! I think of the Lord Jesus, and His servant Paul, as presented to us in Phil. 2 and 3, where we have first the Lord emptying Himself for Paul, then, secondly, Paul stripping himself for Christ. What a sight! What an exhibition of  transcendent love! Can we after this be surprised at the apostle's appraisal of things on Which he had once set store! All Jonathan's things were given up and laid out for David. All that we have, time, health and wealth — may they all be for Him! Is He not worthy of all?

Let us compare Mark 10 with Philippians. What a uperiority of place is ours now that the Comforter has come! The young man in verse 17 may be looked at as corresponding in some respects to Paul, notwithstanding the evident contrast also. For verses 19, 20 describe the young man's character. Yet treasure in heaven exceeds, which if he had only known (and had he been a good calculator he might have known) was infinitely better than anything he could give up. But the little bit of the world in his heart was more to him than Christ. After all, what have we of earthly things but what is lent to us? And are we prepared to surrender all when He demands what has been entrusted to us? Yet do we know that God's gifts and calling are without repentance? Multiply (vers. 28, 29) anything that you may have given up, a hundred times, and you will see what you gain now, and the end, eternal life! It was a dangerous place to go to Jerusalem; and the Lord goes before them, and they are afraid. They shrink from the sufferings. And we are no better but we have received, not "the spirit of cowardice" (2 Tim. 1:7), but "of power"; so in Phil. 3 we see, not one amazed, not one afraid, but one not holding to things here, whose very possession of things he counted loss for Christ. The apostle knew he had something better than all these, and he esteemed it a privilege to have the fellowship of the sufferings of Christ, and Christ in the glory was his goal. He was going through everything, and at whatever cost, to reach Him.