No Word of God Can Fail!
George Everard, 1885
"The grass withers, the flower fades — but the Word of our God will stand forever!" Isaiah 40:8
I have often thought over an illustration of this truth taken from Old Testament times. When Jericho perished before the children of Israel, Joshua declared from the mouth of God, a special curse on any one who would rebuild the city. "Then Joshua laid this oath on them: Cursed is the man before the Lord who rises up and rebuilds this city, Jericho. With the loss of his firstborn shall he lay its foundation, and with the loss of his youngest son shall he set up its gates." Joshua 6:26
For many a year the word of God was feared and regarded. For about five centuries no one dared to put his hand to rebuild a city which, for its abounding wickedness in days past, lay under the curse of the Most High God. Its massive walls lay a heap of ruins. Wild beasts of the forest would make the place their abode, and birds of the air would there make their nests. But no human foot trod the spot where once had been so great and populous a city.
However, it was not always thus. In the days of Ahab, wickedness, idolatry, and Baal-worship filled the land. Few reverenced the true God, and most men were willing followers of an ungodly king. Then rose a man more wicked than his fellows. Living at Bethel, the seat of idolatry, he scorned the faith of Jehovah and had no fear of His judgments. So Hiel, for this was his name, began his accursed work. Rebuild Jericho he will, so he lays its foundation, and possibly he made it a great day of rejoicing for himself and his friends. But it ended in a great sorrow. The old curse was still living and mighty. Just as grains of wheat buried in the mummy-cases in Egypt were found to have life in them after the lapse of many centuries, so is it with God's Word. Hiel found it so. "In his days, Hiel the Bethelite built Jericho. He laid its foundations at the cost of the life of Abiram his firstborn, and set up its gates with the loss of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke through Joshua son of Nun." 1 Kings 16:34
The angel of death touched his first-born, Abiram. If the corner-stone of the city was laid — that of his own family was taken away. But he still perseveres. He may have reckoned it but a chance or coincidence that had happened to him. At any rate, the work went forward, the city was rebuilt, and the gates set in their place. But the old curse still moves on to its complete fulfillment. The elder son had died, so now the youngest, Segub, dies also.
In no particular, does the word of the Lord fail. By the grave of his two sons, might this scornful unbeliever learn the sureness of the threatenings which were uttered by the living God. Did this man learn wisdom by the judgments of God? Did the death of his sons prove life to his own soul? We cannot tell. But there is a message from God to us from the story. May we only have grace to learn it!
I want you to notice that the two sons of Hiel were cut off as the fruit of unbelief and sin. In this case it was the sin of a parent; and no less is it true now that many a child dies through the sinful self-indulgence or evil habits of a father or mother. But are there not many brought to an early grave through their own sin? Are there not secret vices, of which it is difficult to speak, which plant in many a constitution the seeds of premature death? Are there not evil habits which sap health and vigor, and not seldom destroy life itself?
But the main lesson I want you to learn is the stability and sureness of the Word of God. You may hear many things which may be apt to shake your confidence in this. Theories of science seem now and then to clash with it. Very clever objections can be raised against certain doctrines of the Gospel.
Nor is it wise to attempt hastily to answer doubts and questions which may be proposed. The solution may not be easy, nor may it be found at once. But do not in the very least, cast aside your faith in the truth of God's Word.
I have no doubt that in Ahab's days, the land abounded in clever sceptics. Numbers would laugh at the stories which their faithful forefathers believed. They would glory in being emancipated from old fetters. They would make very light of the curse which Joshua had uttered. Nevertheless it came true. It came true to the very letter, and at the time foretold.
Bear this in mind. It is quite possible darker days may lie before us. Unbelief and ungodliness may spread like a flood, and the plain lessons of Divine truth may be trampled under foot. Men may deny . . .
the sinfulness of man,
the atoning sacrifice of Christ's death,
the work of the Comforter,
and eternal judgment.
But God cannot die, and His truth cannot die; and the doctrines so plainly declared in His Word cannot die, but will live on — to the everlasting joy of those who hold them fast, and the eternal confusion of those who reject them.
All that God has spoken will certainly come to pass. The good and the evil, the sweet and the bitter, the heavenly consolations and the threatened curses — not one thing will fail.
Which shall be yours? Which will you choose?
I pray you to be wise. Honor God's Word. Heed its warnings. Trust its promises. Then you shall never be ashamed. God will be to you a tower of strength, and His presence and love your portion forever.