God’s Light In Days of Difficulty
Light for the path can only be given to us by God (1 John 1:5). In every age God has given light to His people, specific counsel suitable for each period. When they walked in His light they overcame their difficulties; but when they refused, failure resulted and they were in darkness. In the confusion today, rather than being indifferent, we should understand the light that God has given to preserve us. His method has been to give ONE LEADING TRUTH for each period, sufficient light to guide and to preserve His people. Consider some examples from the Scriptures:
ADAM (Genesis 2:15-17): The counsel given to Adam in the garden of Eden was sufficient to guide and preserve him from the guile of the serpent. Failure and ruin followed when Eve listened and assented to the denial of God’s words—“In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Obedience would have overcome the suggestions of Satan; this can not be denied! Satan knew this so well that his scheme was to pervert God’s Word, deny its truthfulness and deprive his victim of all power to see or to preserve the right path. Adam and Eve refused God’s counsel and were led into darkness. God’s instructions would have effectually guided them safely through the testing for this was His special counsel at the time.
NOAH (Genesis 9:1-17): In Noah’s day God gave two special lines of counsel. (a) He was to occupy a place of superiority over all the earth. Everything was placed under his dominion in order to govern the earth for God—“Into YOUR hand are they delivered”—verses 1-7. (b) God also gave the sign of His covenant—verses 8-17. “I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.” Here we find two lines of instruction to guide and to preserve Noah and his sons in their day through all the difficulties. If they maintained it they would find light to escape from the perils; if not, they must be overcome and lose ground.
Noah’s failure, and his son’s, was evidenced when Noah himself was overcome by wine and when his son showed insubjection and disrespect (Genesis 9:20-27). The ultimate failure consummated at the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1 -9 ) in complete disregard to God’s counsel. God gave unqualified supremacy and authority for men to govern the earth; and His link and covenant was the centralization of it. No other counsel could preserve them in the time they lived. The first indication of departure was Noah himself; then the failure which followed was climaxed by the organized rebellion at the tower of Babel. The failure can only be attributed to the unfortunate neglect of THE COUNSEL OF GOD.
ABRAHAM (Genesis 12:1-3): The counsel that God gave Abraham was brief but definite. God called him to walk a separated path from the idolatrous world around. His obedience always secured blessing and deliverance; the neglect of it invariably involved him in sorrow and perplexity. He fulfilled God’s counsel in Genesis 12:5; then departed from it to go into Egypt (Genesis 12:10-20). He was victorious in the case of Lot (ch.13). He undoubtedly taught Isaac the counsel of God; but his descendants neglected it. Isaac was self-indulgent (Genesis 27:1-4); Jacob was self-willed (Genesis ch. 29 through 31). The sons of Jacob were rebellious (Genesis ch. 34 and 37) and eventually the posterity of Jacob had so neglected God’s counsel that they were obliged, because of grievous famine, to leave the land of Canaan and go down into Egypt.
MOSES AND JOSHUA (Exodus 3:8-10; Joshua 1:1-10): God gave Moses a promise—“I am come down” etc. and a command—“bring my people out of Egypt” etc. This was God’s call and His light for their path in that day; His mind and will for His people. When Moses walked according to it he was successful and above the difficulties of that time. When he swerved from it, for any cause, be it personal incompetence, the unbelief of the people, the power of Egypt, etc.—in proportion as he swerved from it, or hesitated, he failed. Eventually, the people murmured and were even destroyed. Refusing the counsel of God they were condemned to wander in the wilderness forty years until all the men had died (Numbers 14:22-38).
God’s counsel was committed to Joshua (Joshua 1:1-10) and was virtually the same as given to Moses. He was called to be strong and very courageous in completing what Moses had not finished (Joshua 1:9). In Joshua chapter 23, before his death, Joshua repeated the counsel of God to the judges and officers of Israel. Only by observing the COMPLETE counsel of God that had been given to Moses could the possession of Canaan be enjoyed—(Joshua 23:6). ALAS! how incomplete this was can be learned from the record in the book of Judges (Judges 2:1-4 etc.). As Israel’s history continued through the days of the Judges; through the history of their Kings; and later through the days of their prophets, what was the outcome? In spite of occasional blessings through David, Hezekiah, Josiah, Ezra, Nehemiah and Daniel, etc.—they greatly neglected the counsel of God for their day!
Though the prophets endeavoured to lead God’s people back into line with God’s counsel time and time again, yet the Old Testament closes with the sad evidence of moral insensibility existing and prevailing in Israel. The failure of the nation is graphically portrayed in the closing book of the Old Testament by the prophet Malachi! “Your words have been stout against me, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against Thee? Ye have said, It is vain to serve God; and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts? And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered” (Malachi 3:13-15).
Let us summarize at this point some lessons from the history of God’s people in the past periods. We can recognize an obvious principle for our present day. It is this—we are warned and assured that there must be FOR US IN OUR DAY some simple but definite counsel from God, which, if we will observe, would guide and help us through all our difficulties. On the contrary, if His counsel is neglected and refused, we can but be exposed to the confusion and defeat that prevails around. If we will learn that God has certain fixed principles in His ways and government; and that HE WILL NOT DEVIATE FROM HIS DIVINE INSTRUCTIONS TO HIS PEOPLE, nor can He; for it would be contrary to His moral character; if we will learn this truth in our hearts, it will prove great gain!
These examples from the Old Testament should conclusively prove to us that God ALWAYS gives a counsel suitable for the times His people live in. When we face confusion and the powerlessness to escape from our difficulties in the testimony of the Church, the fact can be traced to our neglect of HIS counsel. A very simple question would be proper to raise and ask ourselves, which is—“WHAT IS THE LEADING COUNSEL OF GOD GIVEN FOR US IN THIS AGE: AND WHAT IS HIS LIGHT FOR THOSE WHO WOULD WALK ACCORDING TO IT?” There is no question of God’s insufficiency, that HE would fail to give the light upon the path which we need in these dark, apostate days of our history. For “God is light, and in HIM is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).
“OUR GOD IS LIGHT: AND THOUGH WE GO
ACROSS A TRACKLESS WILD,
OUR SAVIOUR’S FOOTSTEPS EVER SHEW
THE PATH FOR EVERY CHILD”