Jude 9

“But Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee” (ver. 9).

The verse now before us presents one ground of exception taken against the Epistle by men who trust themselves. This introduction of Michael the archangel seems to them altogether inexplicable, as they consider it a mere tradition of the Jews reproduced by Jude or at any rate by one who wrote the Epistle bearing his name; for they really do not know or care who wrote it. Only nobody must believe that Jude wrote it! Such talk consists simply of the objections of unbelief, which, doubting all that is inspired of God, sets itself to shake the confidence of those who do believe.

Although it is a fact presented in no other part of God’s word, what solid reason is there in that to object? There is ground for thankfulness that He makes it known here.

Not a few statements may be traced in scripture, which have been given but a single mention; but they are just as certain as any others which are repeatedly named. The apostle Paul, in 1 Cor. 6:3, declares that the saints shall judge angels. It is not only that they shall judge the world, which no doubt is a truth revealed elsewhere; but it is there expressly said that they are to judge angels. I am not aware of any other scripture which intimates a destiny that most would consider strange if not incredible. We do find that the world to come is not to be put under angels; but that is a different thing. It does assure us that the habitable earth is to be put under the Lord Jesus in that day; and the saints are to reign with Him. To the risen saints will be given to share His royal authority; for that is the meaning here of “judging.” It has nothing at all to do with Christ’s final award of man. It is not a small mistake to suppose that the saints will exercise the final judgment over men or angels. All such judgment is exclusively given to the Son of man (John 5:22, 27; Rev. 20).

When it is said that we shall judge the world, the meaning is plain whether men believe or not. Such judging is to exercise the highest power and authority over the world by the will of God and for the glory of the Lord Jesus. But there is no warrant for the notion that saints will take part in the great white throne judgment. On that throne sits only One, He that knows every secret, that searches the reins and hearts; and He is the sole Judge when it is a question of judging man in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to Paul’s gospel. No man was ever given to fathom the lives of others; nor am I aware that we shall ever be called to share that knowledge so essential to the Judge of quick and dead.

In fact, the notion that we are to sit in judgment on people for eternity is a gross and groundless blunder, for which there is no shadow of proof in any part of scripture. But we shall judge the world when the world-kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ is come. He will reign for ever; and so shall we, as His word assures; but there is a special display of this joint reign, and this is during the thousand years. This, of course, is no question of eternal judgment, but of the kingdom; whereas, when the earth and the heaven flee, and no place is found for them, eternal judgment follows, and none but the Lord judges. All judgment is given to Him, when the works of men, who despised Him throughout the sad annals of time, come up for His eternal sentence. No assessors are associated with Him; He alone is the Judge.

There remains, however, the plain revelation that we shall judge angels. If this is confined to that one scripture, be it so; one clear word of God is as sure as a thousand. If we have to do with the witness of man, the word of a thousand, if they are decent people, must naturally have a weight beyond one man’s. But here it is no question of men at all. What we stand upon, and the only thing that gives us firmness of ground and elevation above all mist, the only thing that gives us faith, reverence, simplicity, and humility, is God’s word. It is indeed a wonderful mercy, in a world of unbelief, truly to say, I believe God; to bow before, and rest in, the testimony of God; to have perfect confidence in what God has not only said, but written expressly to arrest, exercise, and inform our hearts.

Assuredly, if God says a thing once unmistakably, it is as certain as if it had pleased Him to say it many times. Indeed, as it appears to me, it will be found that God hardly ever repeats the same thing. There is a shade of difference in the different forms that God takes for communicating truth. Such is one of its great beauties, though quite lost to unbelievers, because they listen to His words in a vague and uncertain manner. As they never appropriate, so they never hear God in it. They may think of Paul or Peter, John or James, and flatter themselves to be quite as good or perhaps better. What is there in all this but man’s exalting himself to his own debasement? He sinks morally every time he lifts himself up proudly against God and His word.

Here then we have a fact about the unseen world communicated, not in the days of Moses or Joshua, when the burial of Moses is brought before us. Here Jude writes many years after Christ, and first mentions it. Why should this appear strange? The right moment was come for God’s good pleasure to communicate it.

Did not the apostle Paul first give us in his last Epistle the names of the Egyptian magicians who opposed Moses before Pharaoh? No doubt we were told of such magicians; but we did not know their names till the Second Epistle to Timothy was written. Scripture can only be resolved into the will of God. It pleases God to exercise His entire sovereignty in this, and He would therein show Paul given to write of a thing reserved for him to bring out alone. So here we have the Holy Ghost proving His power and wisdom in recalling a mysterious fact at the close of Moses’ life. Why should men doubt what is so easy for God to make known?

Is there anything too wonderful for His grace? Is not He Who works in revealing, God’s eternal Spirit? And why should not He, if He see fit, reserve the names for that day when Paul wrote? The occasion was the growth of deceivers in Christendom—a thing that many seem disposed to entirely overlook. They yield to the amiable fancy that such an evil is impossible, especially among the brethren! But why so? Surely such impressions are not only stupid in the highest degree, but unbelieving too. It ought to be evident that, if anywhere on the face of the earth Satan would work mischief, it is exactly among such as stand for God’s word and Spirit. Where superstition is tolerated, and rationalism reigns, he has already gained ruinous advantage over the religious and the profane. If any on the face of the earth at the present time refute both these hateful yet imposing errors, his spite must be against them. The reason is plain. We have no confidence in the flesh, but in the Lord; and to that one Name we are gathered for all we boast, leaning only on His word and the Spirit of God.

Let these then be our Jachin and Boaz, the two pillars of God’s house, even in a day of ruin and scattering. Let us rejoice to be despised for the truth’s sake. How can we expect to have any other feelings excited towards us? Do we not tell everybody that the church is a wreck outwardly? And do they not say on the contrary that the church bids fair for reunion? that the classes and the masses are alike won by grand buildings, rites, ceremonies, music, and the like? that there is on the one side inflexible antiquity for those who venerate the past, but on the other side the device of development to flatter the hopeful and self-confident? Then think of the modern influx of gold and silver, of which the apostolic church was so short! Is it not God now giving it to His church that they may in time buy up the world! And if any tell them that all such vaunts are only among the proofs of the church’s utter ruin, what can they be but hateful and obnoxious in their eyes? Christ has always a path for the saints, a way of truth, love, and holiness for the darkest day of ruin, as much as for any other. It is for the eye single to Him and the ear that heeds His word to find the path, narrow as it is, but its lines fallen in pleasant places and a goodly heritage. But if we, hankering after earthly things, entangle ourselves with man’s thoughts or the world’s ways in religion, what can this issue be but that we help on the ruin? Disturbed, uneasy and unhappy we become, like Samson with his hair cut, weak as water, and blind to boot.

Nor is it at all unaccountable that men are busy against an Epistle which is one of the loudest and clearest in the trumpet blast that is blown against Christendom. For it expressly lays down that departure from the truth, and the turning God’s grace to licentiousness, are to go on till judgment thereon—not that there may not be such as are faithful and true, keeping themselves in the love of God, and building themselves up on that most holy faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. What can be conceived more remote from men’s new inventions? from the vain restlessness which is ever in quest of some fresh effort? From everything of the sort we are bound to keep clear, as being deadly. It is not only from all tampering with bad ways, or false doctrine, but from humanising on what is divine. To this we are bound by the very nature of Christianity, which calls us to entire dependence upon the word and Spirit of God. It is not for us then, to be asking what is the wrong of this? or what harm is there in that? For the believer the true question is, What saith the scripture? How is it written?

It is written here: “But Michael the archangel, when, contending with the devil, he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee” (ver. 9). Here, then, is a grand truth, taught in a striking and powerful manner. The apostle Peter, in the 2nd chapter of his Second Epistle, is said to give exactly the same thing as Jude, but he says not one word about it. He makes no allusion to Michael the archangel. He speaks in verse 4 of angels that sinned, whom God did not spare. But Jude presents it as the angels that kept not their first estate. This clearly has nothing to do with Michael. The reference to the archangel is entirely peculiar to Jude; and the object is to exhibit the spirit that becomes one who acts for God, even in dealing with His worst enemy, that there be no meeting evil with evil, nor reviling with reviling, but on the contrary immediate and confessed reference to God.

What makes it all the more surprising is the power vouchsafed to Michael. He is the angel whom God will employ to overthrow the devil from his evil eminence by-and-by (Rev. 12.). But here the historical intimation given is entirely in character with the future. You may tell me that Rev. 12 was not revealed to Jude, who wrote this. Be it so, yet the same God that wrought by Jude wrought also by John. It is evident from the two scriptures that the antagonism between Michael and the devil is not a truth foreign to God’s word. There we have it in the written word. It is the truth of God. Jude was given to tell us what God moved Jude to write, which has not only great moral value for any time, but gives us the fact, full of interest, that the antagonism between Michael the archangel and the devil is not merely of the future. Here the proof lies before us that it wrought also in the past. Thus we can look back fifteen hundred years, and there behold the evidence of this contention between the devil and the archangel. Do you say that it was about the body of Moses, and what is that to anyone? Can we not readily enter into the importance of that dispute? Can we not understand the bearing of that question, when we hold in mind all the history of Israel in the wilderness, as given in Exodus and Numbers?

There is nothing more common among the prophets than this, that while during their lifetime they were hated, after they were dead and gone they became objects of the highest honour; and, what is so remarkable, the highest honour to the same class of people that hated them. They became not objects of honour so much to other people, but were honoured by the same unbelieving class that could not endure the prophets’ words when they were alive. They are ready to kill the prophetic messenger when living, and all but worship him when he is dead. Well, it is the same unbelief that acts in both ways; which, when he was alive, scouted the word of God come through him, and condemned and hated him, but when he was dead, and no longer, therefore, a living character to puncture their conscience, the very people who had war with the prophet would build a fine monument to his memory; and so, getting the character of being men who had a great regard for the prophet, men, therefore, that were doing their best for religion, they gave their money to have erected a fine monument, or to have a fine statue made, or as grand a picture as they could pay for! So true it is, the flesh is quite remarkable for being ready to honour a man when he is dead and gone, whom it could not endure when alive. Our Lord drew attention to this very characteristic. It is not an idea of mine at all, it is the truth of God. Our Lord lays this down most strongly against the Jewish people; and it is not at all confined to Jewish people. If you go now to the town of Bedford—to take an instance from our own country—there you will find a fine monument to John Bunyan, who, when alive, was scouted, imprisoned, and regarded as a presumptuous, bad man. The very same class of people now buy his book, and at any rate are not sorry that the children should read it along with the Arabian Nights’ Entertainments in the nursery. So there they have the Pilgrim’s Progress and the Arabian Nights’ tales, and they are all considered equally entertaining for the children. They thereby show that they think the imprisoned tinker was a genius—for that is their way of looking at it; and therefore they gain for themselves credit in all sorts of ways, both as being men of taste, and also as men not at all averse to religion when it does not touch their conscience. The thing, therefore, that I am speaking of is always true and always will be true till the Lord come, and then there will be no such thing as “the vile person called liberal, nor the churl said to be bountiful,” nor, on the other hand, the unjust treated as righteous. Then there will be righteousness reigning, and everything and everyone will find their level according to God.

Now we all know from the account given of Moses, both in Exodus and Numbers, how constantly the children of Israel were contending with him, murmuring against him, speaking evil of him—hating Moses, really, and Aaron too. And it was only the power of God interfering every now and then that alarmed them, and cut them down, and compelled them at any rate to pay outward respect. But directly he was dead, the same devil that stirred them up against Moses when he was alive—oh, what would he not have given for that dead body! The dead body would have been made a relic. You know very well that this is a favourite idea of men—the dead body would have been an object of worship. The devil would, therefore, have gained doubly. First, by setting them at war with him while alive, and still more when he was dead by making them idolaters of Moses. So that we can easily understand why it was that the Lord buried the body Himself. But it appears that before he was buried, there was this contention between Michael the archangel and the devil about Moses’ dead body; so perfectly in keeping with the mysterious manner in which Jehovah buried him where none should know, and where even if Satan was allowed to know, God interfered that Michael should guard that grave, that Michael should hinder all the efforts of the devil to get hold of that dead body. So we have the two facts: what is here told us by Jude, and the fact of the 34th of Deuteronomy, where we have the account of the Lord’s burying Moses—which He never did for any other man. Show me only a single case of the Lord’s burying any one. I do not remember one but that of Moses, and there were special reasons why Jehovah should secretly bury that dead body rather than any other.

There never was a man that exercised so remarkable a position towards a whole people as Moses did to the children of Israel, and now that he was gone, a reaction would take place under the devil, not in the least a reaction of faith, but of unbelief, to idolise that very body, the same man whom they continually plagued while living.

So that the fact, here brought before us, goes along with another fact to which I have just now referred in the Old Testament (the two perfectly tally), viz.—that there were special reasons in the case of Moses’ dead body why the Lord should interfere. Now we learn from this passage in Jude a further very interesting fact, not about the Lord, but about the enemy and the one whom Jehovah thought proper to use. Now, there are others of great weight in heaven besides Michael. Gabriel stands in the presence of God, and, as we know, he was employed for a very important mission by God. It was not Michael, but Gabriel very particularly, who was used in announcing the birth of our Lord Jesus, and we can perfectly understand why Gabriel should be then employed rather than Michael. Michael is the prince that stands up for the Jewish people. Yes, but the Gospel of Luke shows the Lord Jesus born of woman, not merely for the Jewish people, but for man—“God’s good pleasure in men,” not merely in Jews: and therefore it is not that particular angel, Michael; he was not employed on that occasion. So that it appears to me that there was divine wisdom in Gabriel being employed on that mission rather than Michael; and that this is true will surely be very evident to anyone who reads the 10th and 12th chapters of the book of Daniel. I just refer to it now because of its importance in showing the harmony of scripture, and that even in a most extraordinary event that is only once recorded. It shows principles of divine truth that support, and fall in, and harmonise, with what was only revealed once. This is what I wish to show now.

Well, in the latter part of the 10th chapter of Daniel (indeed as well the 11th chapter), ver. 20, we read, “Then said he” (this is the angel that had to do with Daniel), “Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia.” There you see that it is not quite an unusual thing for angels to contend. Here we have it in still stronger language: “To fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come.”

Now, we shall find a little intimation who and what these princes were in the next verse: “But I will show thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince.”

We learn here that Michael was pre-eminently the prince of Israel. In what sense? Not as reigning visibly, but as invisibly espousing the cause of the Jewish people. Now see how this falls in with Michael’s guarding the dead body of Moses, with his being employed by God to contend with the great enemy, so that there should be no misuse made of that dead body. Who had so pre-eminently this duty as the prince of Israel? And as to the angel that was speaking with Daniel, of whom we read a good deal in the previous part of the chapter in so highly interesting a manner and in the most glowing colours—he says, “there is none that holdeth with me in these things”—that is, in opposing the princes of Grecia and Persia. Why? It appears that the princes of Grecia and Persia were not favourable to the Jewish people. In the same way, they had interests connected with Greece and Persia that were opposed to the Jewish people; and in the providence of God the angels are referred to here—angels are the great instruments of providence, the unseen working of God being carried out instrumentally by angels.

This is true now. We are all very much cared for by the angels, more than we are apt to think. We read of them in Hebrews (chap. 1:14): “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” So we are indebted to angels now. I do not say it is Michael or Gabriel, but I do say that the angels are acting a special part at this present time in Christianity for all the heirs of salvation. You see that at this time, in Daniel, it was not so much a question about the heirs of salvation; it was a question of the Jewish people. They were the great object of God’s care in their fallen estate. They had been most guilty, but they were beloved. They were carried into captivity by the Babylonian power. And they were going to be the slaves of other powers on the earth; but for all that Michael stood up for them and this other angel who speaks to the prophet Daniel. There were also other angels that were opposed, whom they had to fight.

Well, people may say that it is all very mysterious. Indeed it is, dear brethren. It is not, therefore, incredible, but of very great moment, that we should have our hearts and minds open to believe what we do not see. There is nothing that adds more to the simplicity of a believer than his having his faith exercised upon the things that are unseen as well as those that are eternal, and we ought to feel our indebtedness to God for these things.

Now, if you want a proof even in detail as to this, take the 8th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. There you find that the angel tells Philip to go in a certain direction, and he does so; and then we find the Spirit speaks. Not the angel, but the Spirit. I had better refer to it, because there is nothing like the scripture for its precision. Now, in Acts 8:26 we read: “And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.” There were two roads, it appears. One was through a populous part of the land, and the other was desert. Well, a desert is not the place an evangelist would choose. The angel, therefore, acting in the providence of God, says to Philip: “You go that desert road.” And it is one of the beautiful features of Philip that he was not a reasoner. Reason is an excellent thing for men who have not got the word of God, and I do not say that there may not be useful reasoning outside divine things, what you may call common sense. But I do say this, that the more the believer can act on divine principles at all times, the better for his soul, and the more to the praise of the Lord. If he is sometimes acting, like a man of the world, on his common sense, and at another time acting on the word of God as a believer, he is in danger of being practically two different persons. And when a man plays the game of two personalities he is very apt to become a hypocrite; there will be a want of reality about the man. We ought only to have one personality. We are bought with a price, not merely for our religious matters, but for everything. We do not belong to ourselves, we are the Lord’s; and, therefore, the more a believer can rise above merely what he will do as a man to that which he loves to do as a saint—the more entirely he keeps to this only, so much the more consistent is he with his profession as a child of God. For why should it not be so? What is to hinder his being a saint in anything at all? Cannot he be a saint when serving in his shop? Cannot he be a saint when in his office? Surely he might, and ought to be. There is nothing to hinder, if he were lively in faith and has the Lord before him. But if, on the contrary, he only looks at the shop or the office—“Well, now,” he says, “it is not Sunday, nor is it the meeting now; I go there as a man.” So there it is. How can he expect anything like faith, or grace, care for Christ and His glory, if that is the case? I deny entirely that we may not be servants of Christ in the commonest things of this life; and this is what, I think, we have all especially to pray for. Of course, we need to pray that we may behave as saints when we come into the assembly, and when we find ourselves at a meeting of any kind; but why we should be off our saintship when we go into business or anything else is another matter, and a very dangerous line to pursue.

Now then, here you see that we have the angel of the Lord providentially dealing with Philip, and Philip acts upon it at once. He does not say, “Ah, I shall not be able to get a congregation, and at any rate I don’t like a little one; I want to have a big one.” He has not a word about little or big; in fact, he was not going to have a congregation. He must be content with one single soul. That soul is precious beyond all calculation to God, if not even to himself. What would all the world be to one if the soul were lost, as the Lord Himself told men, and which they still refuse to believe?

Well then, the angel gives Philip this word, and he hears, and goes without a question. But when he was there—in this road, “this way that goeth down from Jerusalem”—here this Ethiopian stranger in his chariot was met, returning from Jerusalem, and reading the prophet Isaiah. He was not now going up to Jerusalem to get a blessing there. He may have looked for and prayed for that, but he did not get it there. He was returning from Jerusalem unblest, going away from that city, and this was just what the gospel was doing. It was leaving Jerusalem, driven out by unbelief, and this poor Jewish proselyte was going away unblest by the gospel in that city, for he had not found a blessing there. There was a persecution going on there against it. And now, returning, he was reading in his chariot. “Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near and join thyself to this chariot.” Now, why is it the Spirit here? Because it was what concerned the word of God and the soul. The angel said not a word about the soul of the Ethiopian. I do not know that the angel knew anything about it. The angel had to do the bidding of God, “Tell that man to go by the road that is a desert.” He acted on it; the angel was right, and Philip was right, but it was entirely providential. And then comes the spiritual part, and here the Holy Ghost interposes.

Well, we have not now the angel speaking and the Holy Ghost speaking, but we have the angels acting. We may not perhaps know how it is, but an angel interposes many a time to prevent us going in a certain way, when, if there had not been that interposition, we should have been killed. We often go where we had no intention of going, or do not go where we meant to go. When I say “often,” I mean sometimes; throughout our whole lives it would really bear the word “often.” But there is no man but what does from time to time what he never intended to do, perhaps through an impulse given him—he cannot tell how or why—and he goes this way, when he meant to have gone that way.

Here, however, we find that there is another kind of guidance of a more spiritual nature for the soul, prompting (so to speak) the soul to give a word for the Lord. Do you suppose there is no such thing now? Such an idea may be for people who do not believe that the Holy Ghost is come, and that to abide; but He is still here. It is put in Acts 8 in an open objective form, but it is meant to teach us that the same thing is true now, although it does not come out openly in the same manner. It is quite true, and this is not the only case. If you compare the 12th chapter of the Acts with the 13th, you will see an angel acting in the one chapter and the Spirit acting in the next. I only mention it because the Acts of the Apostles is surely a history of Christianity, a history of Christians, of what Christians have been used for, and what they are meant to live in. Well, then, here, when it was not a question of Christians or the gospel, but of nations and people, we find the part that the angels play—not merely the holy ones, but the unholy ones. This is the very thing that we find at the grave of Moses, and about that same people, Israel. Michael is the prince who stands up for them opposing the efforts of the enemy against them; and this entirely confirms the principles of God’s word. They are entirely in favour of this extraordinary revelation made in the 9th verse of Jude, and they are found to support and confirm it in the highest degree.

Now, before we go further, I refer to another scripture in Zechariah 3. There we have a very interesting removal of the veil that we may see the unseen. We read these words: “And he showed me” (that is, the angel showed Zechariah) “Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of Jehovah, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him” (ver. 1). There you have the same opposition again. In this case, however, it is the “angel of Jehovah.” I should be disposed to distinguish him from Michael. The “angel of Jehovah” is an altogether peculiar term. The angel of Jehovah is rather the way in which the Lord Jesus is referred to in the Old Testament—not the only way, but a very usual way. The angel of Jehovah every now and then is shown to be Jehovah Himself. I do not mean that He is the only person that is Jehovah. As we read in Deut. 6:4, “Jehovah our God is one Jehovah,” that is, it is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Who are the one God that we acknowledge as Christians. They are all three Jehovah, they are all equally Jehovah, and it therefore helps us to understand why He is viewed as “the Angel of Jehovah.” He is Jehovah too, though not the only One that is called Jehovah. This explains what we have here: “He showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of Jehovah, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And Jehovah”(notice that after speaking of “the angel of Jehovah” it is now “Jehovah”)—“And Jehovah said unto Satan, Jehovah rebuke thee, O Satan”—the very words that Michael uses to Satan as reported by Jude!

Well, is not this a very strong confirmation, not only of this remarkable opposition between the holy angels and the unholy ones, but also of Satan’s opposition? We find this antagonism in both scriptures, precisely alike. Even Jehovah Himself, instead of merely taunting Satan, says “Jehovah rebuke thee.” The time was not yet for the most terrible rebuke to come, as it will unmistakably when he shall be trodden under foot. He has to be bound for a thousand years in the abyss; he has to be cast into the lake of fire. All these will be part of the ways in which Jehovah will rebuke him, but till that time arrives we see how God meanwhile guards His own purpose; He does not allow Satan to interfere with His design. He allows man to show out his insensibility and his sin, and He chastises him. He does not yet put forth His power to deal with Satan as He will do; but there is that word, “Jehovah rebuke thee,” as He surely will. It is a continual warning from Jehovah, which will be accomplished in its own day, and in various places and various stages. But you can easily see that it would be unseemly to have a mere dispute going on between Jehovah and Satan; and all, therefore, that He puts forth is this solemn warning of what is coming.

Well, the angel repeats that warning to Satan in a very early day, and here, a thousand years after, you have the same truth, the same antagonism even, if not the same persons exactly; but the same spirit all through.

Scripture is perfectly consistent, perfectly reliable. And although Jude was the first one that brought out this fact, it falls in with the other facts of scripture: both in the early days of Moses, in the later of Zechariah, and now in the days of the gospel, in the days of Christianity.

So that nothing can be more complete than the proof that these learned critics are totally ignorant of God, totally ignorant of the Bible, except of the mere surface, the mere letter that kills, and know not the spirit that quickens.

Well, here then you see how beautiful it is that instead of bringing a railing accusation, Michael simply warned Satan with the solemn words: “Jehovah rebuke thee”—“The Lord rebuke thee.” What would railing do? If there are two people railing, a good and a bad man, and the bad man’s railing provokes the good man to rail, the good man goes down to the level of the bad. It does not at all diminish the railing of the other. I should think at any time that a bad man could gain a good degree over the good man in the way of railing. Surely he is much more practised, and very likely more unscrupulous and more malicious, and therefore it sounds stronger to the ear of man. But, you see, that would be a total lowering of even an angel, and how much more of a saint, I might say. Here we have the beautiful conduct of the angel as a pattern to the saint, that we be not provoked, nor, when we are reviled, revile again, but act as the Lord Himself acted. He committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously. Well, that is what Jehovah will do; He will judge righteously, but the time is not yet come for its manifestation.