Gather the people together, men and women and children, and the
stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they
may learn, and fear the Lord your God, and observe to do all the words
of this law; and that their children, who have not known it, may hear,
and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as ye live in the land
whither ye go over Jordan to possess it (Deut. 31:12,13)
Two things in the foregoing passage claim our
- The fact that Jehovah attached the most
solemn importance to the public assembly of His people for the purpose
of hearing His Word. “All Israel” – men, women, and children – with the
stranger who had cast in his lot among them, were commanded to assemble
themselves together to hear the reading of the book of the law of God,
that all might learn His holy will and their duty. Each member of the
assembly, from the eldest to the youngest, was to be brought into
direct personal contact with the revealed will of Jehovah, that each
one might know his solemn responsibility.
- We have to weigh the fact that the
children were to be gathered before the Lord to hearken to His Word.
Both these facts are full of weighty instruction for all the members of
the Church of God – instruction urgently called for on all sides.
There is a most deplorable amount of failure as to
these two points. We sadly neglect the assembling of ourselves together
for the simple reading of the Holy Scriptures. There does not seem to
be sufficient attraction in the Word of God itself to bring us
together. There is an unhealthy craving for other things. Human
oratory, music, religious excitement of some kind or other seems
needful to bring people together; anything and everything but the
precious Word of God.
It will perhaps be said that people have the Word of
God in their houses, that it is quite different now from what it was
with Israel. Everyone can read the Scriptures at home, and there is not
the same necessity for the public reading. Such a plea will not stand
the test of truth for a moment. We may rest assured, if the Word of God
were loved and prized and studied in private and in the family, it
would be loved and prized and studied in public. We should delight to
gather together around the fountain of Holy Scripture, to drink, in
happy fellowship, of the living water, for our common refreshment and
But it is not so. The Word of God is not loved and
studied, either privately or publicly. Trashy literature is devoured in
private, and music, ritualistic services, and imposing ceremonies are
eagerly sought after in public. Thousands will flock to hear music, and
pay for admission, but how few care for a meeting to read the Holy
Scriptures! These are facts, and facts are powerful arguments. We
cannot get over them. There is a growing thirst for religious
excitement, and a growing distaste for the calm study of Holy Scripture
and the spiritual exercises of the Christian assembly. It is perfectly
useless to deny it. We cannot shut our eyes to it. The evidence of it
meets us on every hand.
Thank God, there are a few, here and there, who
really love the Word of God, and delight to meet, in holy fellowship,
for the study of its precious truths. May the Lord increase the number
of such, and bless them abundantly.
And let us consider and give attentive, continuous
care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up to love
and helpful deeds and noble activities; not forsaking or neglecting to
assemble together (as believers), as is the habit of some people, but
admonishing (warning, urging and encouraging) one another, and all the
more faithfully as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:24,25).