(Continued from page 170.)
“A cleft in the rock.” This more expressly points to the smitten rock, (Num. xx. 8,) the rock that was cleft, Jesus, who was bruised, wounded and stricken of God for our transgressions. (Isaiah liii. 8.) The sword of divine justice awoke against Christ, that great Shepherd of the sheep, against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts. (Zech. xiii. 7.) That smitten rock was Christ. (I Cor. x. I.) Have you viewed the Rock of our salvation in Gethsemane’s garden and on Calvary’s cross, how he was put to grief? “Surely he hath borne Our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Being put into the cleft of the rock typifies that divine mystery that the chosen, blood-bought church of God has a sanctuary most sweet in the wounded side of Jesus. “One of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came thereout blood and water.” Precious blood, (1 Peter i. 19,) that cleanses us from all sin, (1 John i. 7,) that justifies us from all iniquity, (Romans v. 10,) that sanctifies us unto God, (Heb. xiii. 12,) that has made reconciliation, (2 Chron. xxix. 24; Rom. v. 10,) peace (Col. i. 20,) and atonement for us. (Lev. xvii. 11.) His blood has redeemed us, (Eph. i. 7,) redeemed us from the curse, (Gal. iii. 13,) redeemed us unto God. (Rev. v. 9.) O Christ’s blood has made us nigh to God, (Eph. ii. 13,) and we shall be triumphant over all our foes by the precious blood of the Lamb. (Rev. xii. 11.) Then from the cleft side of Christ, our smitten rock, there also flowed the water. Is this not significant of the washing of water by the word? (Eph. v. 20,) of the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, which God sheds upon us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Lord? (Titus iii. 5, 6.)
“Rock of ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From thy wounded side which showed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Cleanse me from its guilt and power.”
Precious Jesus, thy wounded, bleeding, pierced side shall be my sanctuary, here will I abide till all calamities be overpast.
“I will put thee in a cleft in the rock.” Are we not repeatedly learning that it is only the Lord who can put us into that vital experience of the divine realities of the gospel? The bare outline we may see and talk about, but to be put in, to have our Soul’s sanctuary in the doctrine of God our Savior, can only be by the gracious power of the Holy Ghost. O how good the Lord is to us unworthy sinners! He so graciously teaches his called ones that they are brought to affectionately rely upon the finished work of the Savior.
I “will cover thee with my hand while I pass by.” The Scriptures present us with a variety of instances in which the Lord is said to cover his people. David exclaims, “O God the Lord, the strength of my salvation, thou hast covered my head in the day of battle.” – Psalms cxl. 7. And how blessed is that word, “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and tinder his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.” Then Isaiah sings, “He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness.” – Isaiah lxi. 10. And the Lord declares, “I covered thee with silk.” – Ezek. xvi. 10. And even when under his chastening band the Lord covereth the daughter of /ion with a cloud in his anger. (Lam. ii. 1.) How sacred are his chastenings! But let us betake ourselves to some glimpses of the signification of this word of the Lord, I “will cover thee with my hand while I pass by.” Moses had said, “I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.” lie did not understand the full significance of his request, for the gracious answer of the Lord was, “I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy. And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.” Once before, when the Lord spake out of the burning bush, “Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.” – Exodus iii. 6. Elijah, when he heard the still, small voice of the Lord, “wrapped his face in his mantle.” – 1 Kings xix. 13. The Seraphims covered their faces while they cried to each other, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory.” – Isaiah vi. 3. O, it is but a little portion of the knowledge of God’s glory that it is possible for us to attain to in our pilgrimage. So overpowering was the vision given to Daniel of “a certain man,” that he tells us, “There remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength.” – Dan. x. 8. And the apostle John beholding in vision the glorified Redeemer says, “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead.” – Rev. i. 17. Could we, dear children of God, live a thousand years on the earth, and every day be learning more and more, it would still have to be said, “We know in part,” we have only the earnest of our inheritance, we yet only see through a glass darkly; our yearning hearts would still be found pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus to attain unto the resurrection of the dead, well knowing that we had not yet already attained; O, our ravished Souls would still be exclaiming, “That I may know him.”
Then the hand of the Lord covering Moses while in the cleft of the rock portrays to our faith the pity of the Lord toward his believing children, for he knoweth our frame, and that in our present time state we are not capable of enduring these manifestations of the unveiled glory of his Being. Now it must suffice us to see as through a glass darkly, but when we are gathered home, to our home in heaven, “then face to face” we shall see and know our God. (1 Cor. xiii. 12.) O this, beloved of God, is embraced in our hope that is laid up for us in heaven. “They shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.”
God’s own kind, almighty hand put Moses in the cleft of the rock, and this self-same hand covered him, shut him in while the Lord in his glory passed by. The Lord has his own way to answer our heart yearnings to know more and more of his glory. He covers us with his hand, covers us with adverse providences, afflictions and temptations. Is it while thus covered by the hand of the Lord that the glory of the Lord shall pass by and I shall learn more and more of my God? All, these dark dispensations, these conflicts and trials that come upon us would appear to obscure our knowledge of God’s glory. But in the dark cloud the rainbow is seen. O, our blind unbelief is sure to err and scan his work in vain, for it is while the hand of the Lord covereth us with trials, both internal and external, that he passeth by; proclaiming his glory, declaring his name, and safely abiding in the cleft of the rock, and shut in by the covering hand of the Lord, we shall hear the voice of our God that passeth by.
“And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation. And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped.” The voice of the Lord has efficacious penetration, it enters and speaks in the heart of the one to whom God proclaims himself. In his gracious power he makes himself known to quickened sinners, his called ones. That favored sinner is awakened, painfully awakened, to the knowledge that God is in very truth. Before one is born again he may have thought he knew and believed that God is, but it is when divine life is given a poor sinner that he knows, in a way before unknown, that God is, that he is the holy One inhabiting eternity, whose name is Holy. Yes, and this persuasion takes possession of us, and we believe that he is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and that he cannot look upon iniquity. (Hab. i. 13.) And what are we? what am I? a sinner, a vile blot, deserving the everlasting wrath of God. The Lord announces himself, “The Lord, The Lord God,” and we respond to his quickening voice, and our trembling, believing heart says, The Lord is. (Heb. xi. 6.) Before he was called by grace the sinner may have been a fool, saying in his heart, “There is no God.” But now he knows in his Soul that God is, of a truth, that he is the I AM, the eternal, almighty, omnipresent God. So near. Thou compassed) my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. O, God is so nigh to the quickened sinner. “For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.” God is so nigh in majesty and holiness, and yet O how far, far off am I, a guilty sinner, from the Lord. As the Lord passeth by proclaiming himself, the one covered with his hand in the cliff of the rock, thinks upon his name. (Mai. iii. 16.) The Lord says, “My people shall know my’ name.” – Isaiah lii. 6. But how shall we attain to the knowledge of the name of the Lord? It is through our Lord .Jesus Christ. He, the glorious Head of the church, is our beloved Mediator; through him the church learns of the Father. Christ says, “I will declare thy name unto my brethren; in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.” – Heb. ii. 12.
“Merciful and gracious, long-suffering.” How suitable, hope-inspiring and healing is this to the contrite in heart! God is rich in mercy to all that call upon him, and the taught of the Lord are so taught how sinful they are, and are so divinely exercised by the Lord proclaiming himself “merciful and gracious, and longsuffering,’’ that they cry unto him for mercy. Their hearts mourn over their iniquities. O to them sin is no trifle, no mere skin-deep wound, but their hearts ache, and in fervent yearnings they cry for the compassion of the Lord. As for me, I can but acknowledge that my life, has been distinguished by the gracious longsuffering of God, and instead of lifting up my eyes in hell, being in torment, God has so sinned in my heart that my eyes have been lifted up to see the beauty of the Lord in the face of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God. Truly the longsuffering of the Lord is salvation. (2 Peter iii. 15.) Had it not been for his longsuffering we had in his divine justice been cut off from his sight, and everlasting punishment had been our just doom. But in his love and pity he hath redeemed us, Jesus our Surety hath died for our sins. He gave himself a sacrifice for us, and poured out his Soul unto death, and delivered us from the wrath to come. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.
“On him almighty vengeance fell,
That must have sunk a world to hell:
He bore it for the chosen race,
And thus became their hiding place.”
If longsuffering were not an attribute of Jehovah’s name, what hope could there be for us? “About the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness.” – Acts xiii. 18. Times without, number we stray away, and sometimes are found going on frowardly in the way of our sinful heart. Surely, “To us belongeth confusion of face,” and never could such sinners have any other face before the Majesty in the heavens only that he in everlasting love to us helpless, sinful worms proclaims his name, “The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering.” This takes hold of as, we are drawn to it, we believe it, and thus encouraged we pray, we confess our transgressions unto him, and our iniquities we would not hide from his eyes; no, for in our heart’s abasement we cry, “O God, thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins are not hid from thee.” Psalms lxix. 5. And when once more we taste that the Lord is “abundant in goodness and truth,” then our confusion of face is chased away, and our countenance is happy before the Lord. O, to taste the forgiveness of our sins through Jesus’ precious blood will put health and beauty upon us, and our faces will shine in grateful love and praise before the throne of our gracious God.
As the child of God pursues his journey to the “better country,” encountering temptations and afflictions, and finding the way oftentimes most rugged, beset with conflicts that would, if possible, impede his way, he will find himself poor and weak and faint, and his Soul much discouraged because of the way. (Num. xxi. 4.) But the Lord has said, “Therefore, my people shall know my name,” and this belongs unto his name, “abundant in goodness and truth.” Are we amazed, ashamed and mourn because sin so abounds in our poor lives? God’s grace doth much more abound. (Rom. v. 20.) Do our sin-wounded hearts cry out for forgiveness? He is rich in mercy unto all that call upon him, and he will “abundantly pardon.” – Isaiah lv. 7. In all our necessities we shall prove that his grace is exceeding abundant with faith and love in Christ Jesus. (1 Tim. i. 14.) His mercy is great unto the heavens, and his truth reacheth unto the clouds. He will abundantly bless the provisions of Zion and satisfy her poor with bread. Then in all our straits, notwithstanding all our infirmities, sinfulness and unworthiness, the Lord will draw us to himself proclaiming this in our hearts, that he is “abundant in goodness and truth.” And at the end of our journey if we are asked, “Lacked ye anything?” our grateful answer will he that, we found the God of our salvation able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we asked or thought, according to his power that wrought in us. (Eph. iii. 20.)
“Till then I would thy love proclaim
With every fleeting breath,
And may the music of thy name
Refresh my Soul in death.”
This inquiry comes into my thoughts, Do I know the Lord, know him as he is? Has he proclaimed his name to me? If so, what effect has it wrought? We shall be found looking unto and confiding in our God. For “they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast, not forsaken them that seek thee.” – Psalms ix 10. The Lord still proclaims his name, saying, “Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation. And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped.” In this we have discovered to us that God has treasured up mercy and forgiveness for his people, and that he also will chasten them for their iniquities, all of which is precious to these that fear him. Moses acquiesingly bowed his head and worshiped; may the same grace be upon us, and then our language to one another will be, “O come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.”
“And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts; but my face shall not be seen.” When the Lord took away his hand Moses could look forth, and he could say, The savor of his name perfumes all the land; my dear God has been here, I see the footprints of the Lord, merciful and gracious, long suffering, abundant in goodness and truth in all his dealings to me, a poor sinner. And now, “My Soul followeth hard after thee, thy right hand upholdeth me.”
FRED. W. KEENE.
NORTH BERWICK, Maine.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 73, No. 7
April 1, 1905