"The end of the Lord."

T. H. Reynolds.

Christian Friend, vol. 13, 1886, p. 281.

When difficulties and trials arise, the tendency of our hearts is constantly to be more occupied with deliverance from the difficulty than with the end and purpose of the Lord in allowing it; and, unless the soul is exercised before Him, an issue is often sought and accepted which is neither His help nor His salvation.

Hence it is good for us, whether individually or collectively, to ponder well the Lord's way with us which surely leads to the Lord's end. Of Israel it was said that they were "a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways." Thus the state of heart before God becomes important, so that the soul may be disciplined and His end may be reached by it. Nothing occurs but His hand is in it. Stormy wind and rain do but fulfil His word. "He causeth it to come, whether for correction, or for His land, or for mercy." (Job 37:13.) It is thus we learn most precious lessons - precious because we get beyond the trial which exercises us to the loving-kindness of the Lord, and our feet can then stand in an even place. We are in the sanctuary of God, and everything falls into its proper place with us there.

Never was there a moment when the saint who desires the Lord's glory more needed to be there, in the quietness of spirit which results from the sense of everything being under God's eye. Could anything be more trying to the Psalmist (Ps. 73) than to see evil apparently prospering, while those whose desires were right, and were seeking to walk in integrity, had waters of a full cup wrung out to them? It was in the sanctuary he learned that while his heart had been grieved, he had been, and was, the object of God's care and solicitude, that he would be held by His hand and guided by His counsel. Surely we may say, "Blessed are all they that wait for Him."

Now there is something equally trying which tests the state of our hearts before Him. It has pleased God in His grace to awaken, in the midst of the surrounding form of godliness, many of His saints to the desire of holding fast the word of the Lord, and of not denying His name. But, alas! even here, while desires may be sincere, how often is the heart lacking in subjection, and consequently the end of those desires is sought, if one may speak for others, in our own way. The claim to be fearing Him, who is the Holy and the True, is put forth by saints who take different paths, and finally seek separate fellowships. When this is so, can we say that the claim does not result from sincere desire to be true to Him? But while this is admitted, shall we not find that the soul is not chastened? and thus the moral state necessary for the desire to be accomplished in us is not reached. The exhortation of the apostle to the Philippians, that they would fill up his joy by being of one accord, of one mind, evidently sprang from the tendency in each to seek to serve according to the bent of the mind of each. Euodias and Syntyche liked to have their own way in labouring in the gospel. The mind which was in Christ Jesus, humbling Himself as a man, and becoming obedient even unto death, alone would enable them to "stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together [as co-athletes] for the faith of the gospel." Encouragement is not found in carrying our own point, but in Christ. There is comfort of love there. It is fellowship of the Spirit, and not unity of opinion; and bowels and compassions take the place in this poor world of sorrow of our own way. When the soul is disciplined and self-will rebuked in us, then the mind of Christ becomes dominant. He could say, "My judgment is just, because I seek not mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me."

When evil prevails among the saints of God, it is a great thing to remember that "the Lord is good and doeth good." This should lead our hearts to Himself, and then we shall not fret ourselves because of evildoers, nor be overcome of evil; but we shall learn to rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him. He bears long, and moreover His end has to be reached, and not our's. Besides, in reaching His own end, He knows how to order everything so as to produce, in the one that waits for Him, exercises of heart and utterances of voice which otherwise would not have been called forth. Affections and desires are thus wrought in us which are according to Himself; we learn to silence self, and even words and thoughts are ordered before Him. This is brought before us in Psalm 5, "Give ear to my words, O Lord." It is not a general petition, but words become weighed before Him. Thoughts too. The musings of the soul are as in His presence - "Consider my meditation." There is no room for self-will to seek to gain its end from the Lord when the utterance is, as in Psalm 19:14, "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight."

Further, the Psalmist continues (v. 2): "Hearken [or attend] unto the voice of my cry … for unto Thee will I pray." Let it be noted that these early psalms, as do others, contemplate the godly in the midst of the pressure of evil around, and turning to the Lord on account of it, and this not as a last resource, but as the first thought "My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I order unto thee, and will watch." (See R. V.) The thought here is not so much the fact of directing the prayer to the Lord, but the ordered watchful state of soul which claims His ear and attention. Evil may be all around, and there is the consciousness that "He has no pleasure in wickedness; "but the soul is not occupied with evil, but with the Lord, and thus holy fear is produced - "In thy fear will I worship toward the temple of thy holiness." This does not produce indifference to evil, but rather the suited conduct with regard to it. "Lead me, O Lord, in thy righteousness because of those which observe me [marg.]; make thy way straight before my face." The Lord has a way of His own, and His will is good and acceptable; but we need to learn it in the presence of watchful foes lest we dishonour Him. "Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of those which observe me." (Ps. 27:11.)

It is good thus to have self-will broken up, and the soul ordered before God and men. A lowly walk results, and the feet are shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, while adoring worship flows forth.

"I bow me to Thy will, O God,
And all Thy ways adore."

This tunes the heart and brings the spirit into harmony with the wisdom as well as love of God. The doxologies of the saints vary in their character according to the subject which fills the soul. In Ephesians 3 the infinity into which the saints are introduced, and the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, lead the apostle into the expression of what the Church is as the vessel formed by the power which worketh in us for glory to God by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. In Romans 11:33, after the Spirit has reviewed the whole scope of the relations between men (Jew or Gentile) and God, and the aboundings of sin are shown to have brought forth the super-aboundings of grace, the apostle's utterance of glory takes another character, and celebrates "the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!"

Sin broke up the rest of God in the first creation, but opened up the way for Him to form a new scene of blessing, where that rest shall never be disturbed. And if He, in patient grace and long-suffering with evil, has, without wearying, moved on towards that rest in His own path of wisdom and knowledge, and that rest remains for us, shall we not welcome any exercise which throws the soul into harmony with that path, and teaches us His way? All was ruin with Israel when Moses prayed, "Show me now thy way." (Exodus 33:13.) He had really acted for God in the camp; the result of holy jealousy in the sense that Jehovah's presence was incompatible with that of a golden calf. "What agreement hath the temple of God with idols?" I say not here how far his actings, prompted as they thus were, were the taking of his own way to vindicate what was dear to him - the name of Jehovah; but the pressure on his spirit of the state of the people, and the taste in his own soul of being known of God and of being the object of His favour, lead him to say, "Show me now thy way." Had not Jehovah a path in the midst of Israel's ruin? Surely He had; and as Moses pleads, he gets the consciousness that there is a glory all His own, and yet connected with Jehovah's dealings with a sinful people, which he earnestly desires to see. That was impossible. None but One - a lowly Man of sorrows indeed, but in whom dwelt the fulness of the Godhead - knew that glory and could meet it. As we gaze on the cross, we learn adoringly that Godhead-glory was in the One who suffered there. "Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him." The Son of man indeed, but for God to be glorified in Him there must have been the infinite and eternal springs of Godhead fulness. "My servant Moses," honoured as he was, must be hid in the cleft of the rock as Jehovah's glory passed by. Covered with His hand he may see the back parts; that is, the Lord must first pass by. To meet Him face to face would be to take the place of an equal. When He has passed by the blessedness of His path is seen. His glory, in which He abides, alone is supreme. We now see the glory of God shining in the face of Jesus Christ. "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him." And yet the glory of His person remains unknown. "No man knoweth the Son but the Father." Well may we ponder the grace accorded to Moses as, put into the cleft of the rock by the Lord Himself, he saw the back parts, and heard the name of Jehovah proclaimed - a name which told what He was with respect to the evil which had come in. "He made known His ways unto Moses," and Moses worships and intercedes for the people. He is with God about the people, and learns the value of His name in a fuller way than had been taught him at the bush. (Exodus 3:14-15.) That name he publishes in the prophetic song which records the lowest depths into which the people would fall. (Deut. 32:3.) Put besides this his own condition is transformed, and he acquires the impress of the communion he had enjoyed. "He was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights." In his actings he had been with the people, and he had acted with holy jealousy surely, but with regard to their evil. Now he is with the Lord, and all is in harmony with that place. When be comes down he reflects, unconsciously to himself, the light which shone upon him there.

Two things are thus brought before us. First, without being indifferent to evil, we learn to walk with the Lord in the midst of it, and to know His way. The end of the Lord is then quietly waited for.

"His every act pure blessing is,
His path unsullied light."

Secondly, the soul is chastened, and learns to behave itself as a weaned child. There is no seeking to carry out our own will, however sincerely we may believe ourselves to be right. The eyes are not lofty, nor the heart haughty; but communion with His mind, who could say at a time when evil was specially felt, "I thank thee, Father," will cause us to bear the impress of having been with Him, by our taking His yoke and being meek and lowly in heart. The end of the Lord will be more precious to us than the end which the fretfulness of our own spirits would desire.

May the Lord rekindle in each beloved saint fresh desires to lodge in the goodness of the Lord, and to have His secret with us. T. H. Reynolds.