The Divine Presence With Us
Five thousand troops packed every available space on board the old Steam Ship, Thomas H. Barry, as she, along with four other troopships, slipped moorings, and under cover of night edged her way out of the Firth of Clyde and set course for the North Atlantic. It was during the height of the war, and the Atlantic was a vast gray chess board where many a fatal game was being played between the painfully slow convoys and the packs of German U-boats.
The dawn slowly spread its pale light over the cold gray ocean, and it seemed that the brighter the day became, the slower went the convoy. At last word was passed around that all the men would be allowed on deck by shifts. The atmosphere was tense as no doubt many of those men were thinking of the hungry wolf-packs of U-boats that scoured the high seas in search of just such a target as their slow moving convoy.
What a sense of relief! Enough to make a man shout for joy, when getting up on the deck, there, only a few hundred yards away, rolling on the Atlantic swell was a mighty battle wagon of the United States Navy. Beside her and a little to the stern, plunging through the waves, followed a battle cruiser, and dotted around the slow moving troopships, like sheep dogs herding a flock, were fifteen of Uncle Sam’s destroyers.
“Sure nice to have them along,” one man remarked. He was just putting into words the sigh of relief that seemed to waft through the ship. Yes, it was nice to have them with us, but better still, it was wonderful to have them for us. The might of the United States Navy was there represented to protect those comparatively defenceless ships.
In our previous consideration of the Divine Presence, we tried to appreciate the joys which fill our souls in any circumstance when we truly believe that the Lord Jesus is with us. Now, in Hebrews 9:24, we learn the further and fuller truth that Christ is for us every day, every step of the way.
The appreciation of this truth daily would mean at least a fourfold victory in our Christian experience.
It would mean that we would not be discouraged with ourselves because Christ is for us as our Representative. In 1 John 4:17, we read, “As He is, so are we in this world.” In Ephesians 1:6, we read, “He hath made us accepted in the Beloved.”
Can you visualize the high priest Aaron standing before the Presence of God in the holy place? Upon his breast gleams the breastplate, and on his shoulders appear the onyx stones on which are inscribed the names of the tribes of Israel. Reuben’s is the first upon the shoulder. Reuben, … “unstable as water, thou shalt not excel,” so said old Jacob. Outside of the holy place, out there on the borders of the camp perhaps there was a Reuben, so unstable, so unpredictable, alas, so failing, never seeming to do well among the people of God, and, yet, as far as God was concerned, Reuben’s name shone forth first on the onyx shoulder stone, and he was accepted in all the worth and value of his representative, Aaron the high priest.
Yes, I fail, here is a Reuben, so unstable betimes; yet, oh, blessed truth! there stands One in the Holy Place with this poor name upon His shoulders and upon His breast; consequently, I learn the truth of those words, “Accepted in the Beloved.”
When I read the Scriptures and pray and try to preach, He does not love me more; and when I fail and falter and grieve His Spirit, He does not love me less. His love for me is constant and I stand accepted in all the worth and the virtue of my Representative.
“When Satan tempts me to despair,
Telling of evil yet within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.”
When the fact that Christ is for us is believed and enjoyed we no longer have doubts about our salvation, because He is for us as our Forerunner.
There are few sadder sights than a believer who once had served His Lord and His people well, falling into doubts about his salvation. If such an one is reading these words, take fresh hope, here are the very words of God, “We have an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the Forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an High Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (Heb. 6:19-20). His presence there for us is the guarantee that not one saint, be he ever so failing, feeble, or fearful will be missing on that great day when through the starry halls will echo the shout, the voice, and the trumpet call. No, not even you, dear saint in doubts.
“For this I shall find,
For this is His mind,
He’ll not be in Heaven
And leave me behind.”
If only we could appreciate His presence for us it would also mean that we would not be defeated by the enemy, because He is for us as our Intercessor.
What the words of the Lord Jesus must have meant to Peter on that fateful day, I suppose we never shall know, but those same recorded words have been sweet to many a tried saint down through the years, “I have prayed for thee.” Oh! what we owe to the prayers of Him of Whom it is written, “He ever liveth to make intercession for them”. What wickedness have we been spared from committing, what wanderings of heart have been arrested all because our Lord could say to us, “I have prayed for thee”!
Then we would not remain defiled by our sins because He is for us as our Advocate. The devil, having been robbed of the soul of the saint, nevertheless, is not going to leave him alone. This cruel enemy will seek by devious means to rob the saint of his joy and peace. He often accomplishes this by reminding the believer of his sins, even after there has been an honest and humble confession in the presence of God. Again, the Holy Scriptures meet our need. In 1 John 2:1, it is recorded, “… sin not, and if any man sin we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. The righteousness of this One will not allow Him to pass over one slightest fault in the life of a child of God, and His faithfulness demands that it be dealt with at once. That being so, we must take up the language of the Apostle Paul, “Forgetting those things which are behind, … I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:13-14).
Though circumstances would seem to suggest differently at times, and the flesh and the devil would concur to cast aspersions on our beloved Lord, believe this, He is for us. Though friend or brother turn against us; yes, and even if children or parent lift up the heel against us, the sun will never rise upon the day when He, our Representative, our Forerunner, and our Advocate is not for us every moment, every breath, yea, throughout all the way.