JESUS VERY NEAR.
"The word is very near unto you, in your mouth, and in
your heart, that you may do it." Deut. 30:14.
Here the Gospel beams forth brightly. This is a picture
with Christ in the foreground. Here is a compass needle, pointing to
Him--the pole. There is no place for doubt. Cavils are silenced. For the
Spirit, who thus speaks by Moses, interprets also by the mouth of Paul. He
draws back every veil. He rolls away all clouds; and shows the Lord, as the
heart and marrow of this record.
This passage, then, is rich in exceeding worth. As such,
it should be studied with exceeding care. Paul thus unfolds it--"describes
the righteousness, which is of the law, that the man, who does those things,
shall live by them." Rom.10:5. Mark, you who fondly dream of human merit.
The legal covenant is clearly stated. Fulfill the terms--perform the
works--bring an obedience without one blemish--an unbroken whole--and then
the recompense is earned. Then life eternal is won as a rightful due. But if
transgression be incurred, the mouth is closed--the plea is gone--reward is
forfeited. Who can say, 'pay me, for my task is incomplete! or, give me the
prize, although it is unwon! or, crown me, though I am vanquished in the
race!' But such is the language of self-righteous men. Can folly be more
foolish--blindness more blind! Thus merit-claimants grope down this
dark path to a darker night.
Paul proceeds to state the contrast. "But the
righteousness, which is of faith, speaks on this wise." Rom. 10:6. Blessed
be God! All glory to His sovereign grace! There is a righteousness
pure--perfect--wrought not by man, but by Christ. It is declared to be "of
faith," because faith's happy sons receive it--wear it--plead it; in it they
stand and prosper; by it they mount to heaven. This righteousness is here
introduced, as a person uttering a glorious voice "Say not," O anxious
sinner, "in your heart, who shall ascend into heaven? (that is to bring
Christ down from above) or, who shall descend into the deep? (that is to
bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what does it say? The word is near
you, even in your mouth and in your heart, that is, the word of faith, which
"The word is near you." Do any ask, What word? The answer
is, "The word of faith." The Gospel-tidings about Christ; that word,
which faith bears--prizes--welcomes--clings to--lives by--that record, from
which delightedly it draws strength--peace--joy--comfort--glory.
We here are plainly told, that this word was very near to
Israel's sons. Their knowledge was comparatively twilight, but still
abundant gleams broke on them from the Sun of Righteousness. Their every
rite was Christ, in shadow. He was the soul of every ordinance. He was
reflected by the tabernacle in all its parts. The altars stood His graphic
form. He died in every dying lamb. He bled in all the flowing blood. He
groaned in every victim's groan. The curling incense was His fragrant
prayer. The veil portrayed His flesh. The priest in the resplendent
robes--in every sacrificial act--in the uplifted hands--in the grand words
of blessing, showed Him, as He ministered below, and as He ministers above.
The leper preached the malignity and cure of sin. The true instruction from
Mosaic lips was Christ--His grace--His person--and His perfect work. The
outstretched finger of each part pointed to Him. A constant voice called to
one sight--"Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the
world"--turn to the promised seed--the bruiser of the serpent's head--the
great High-priest--the efficacious blood. Leviticus was a mirror, in which
our elder brethren might read the full salvation, which the Father planned,
and which the Son in due time achieved. Thus Gospel-truth was very near to
Reader, learn hence to study Moses with mind intent on
Christ. Dig in this mine, as miser eager for pure gold. The flowers of this
garden all breathe heavenly fragrance. As salt is in each ocean's drop, so
Jesus is in each portion of these rites. You lose the prize, except you find
Him. Never take only superficial chaff from fields of such rich grain.
But if the Lord was "very near" in ancient signs, is He
not more than near to those, on whom the full light shines? Believer, come
then and realize your favored state. Bask on your sunny hill. Luxuriate in
your abundant pastures. Walk up and down your spicy gardens. To you there
should not be a desert-spot. The whole scene should blossom as a rose.
Jesus, indeed, is more than near. He came from heaven--He
took our flesh, that He might unite us, as living members, to Himself, the
living Head. Nearness has become oneness. The separating wall is broken
down. The intervening distance is removed. He asks our hearts, that He may
dwell therein. He opens wide His arms, that we may there repose. "Abide in
Me, and I in you."
Precious truth! There is no place, nor time, nor state,
when faith may not uplift the eye--open the ear--put out the hand--and
realize a present Savior. Friends may depart--death may sever tightest
bonds. But He, who ever lives, is ever living by our side. Solitude is not
too lonely for His visits. Crowds exclude Him not. The morning and the
evening hours--the busy day--the silent night--alike admit Him. Climate is
no hindrance. In realms of snow or plains of scorching heat, the Savior
journeys and tarries with His faithful servants. The rich man's hall is not
above His reach--the poor man's hut is not below it. He, whom the heaven of
heavens is narrow to contain--He, whom space cannot hold--He, from whose
sight the angels veil their eyes--He, who sits enthroned co-equal on
Jehovah's throne, always is "very near" to the poor worms, who take Him, as
Believer, here is your never-failing help. Let some
cases, well known in Christian life, lend their aid to make this truth more
clear. Conscience will often tremble on the review of sin. Iniquities
will rise, as spectres from their long-closed graves. They will pass by in
terrible array. Their hideous forms will point to torment, as their due.
Their taunting voice will ask, 'What hope can dwell in hearts so stained!'
But turn from such terrors to your present Lord. He, too,
is "very near," showing His hands--His side. You may there read with open
eye the total ransom paid. There is no need of distant wanderings to escape
these alarms. The wells of everlasting peace are open at your feet. "The
word is very near unto you, even in your mouth and in your heart." It
shouts, "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as
snow--though they be red like crimson, they shall be white as wool." It
adds, "There is redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins."
Who can be sad, with such a volume full of pardons in his hand! Who can
despair, while he can eye a guilt-removing Jesus!
When Satan ragingly assaults--when he puts forth
his utmost might to thrust you headlong into depths of sin--when his
ensnaring net encompasses your feet--when the betraying heart offers the key
to let the murderer in--when the weak flesh begins to slide down the
alluring slopes--when the world tenders its most fascinating and alluring
charms--is there not peril? There is! Sad annals testify, how easily saints
fall. But fall not. There is a staff near. "The word is very near unto
you--in your mouth, and in your heart." Listen to the sweet
encouragements--"The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation."
"The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly." "Resist the
devil and he will flee from you--draw near unto God, and He will draw near
unto you." These mighty rocks are "very near." Set your feet fast upon them,
and your stand is firm.
Sometimes afflictions roll wave upon wave. Your
eye on all sides rests on woe. The dearest relatives are hidden in the
grave. Bereavement sits your solitary guest. Pains rack the frame. Vigor and
health decline. The nights are wearisome. The days bring anguish. Poverty
can scarcely obtain the needful clothing and the daily bread. Your best
designs are blackened by suspicions. Reproach and taunt ply their thick
darts. Earth seems one wide-spread desolation. But in these troubles faith
faints not. Christ's voice "is very near unto you, in your mouth and in your
heart." A very chorus of support swells happily around--"The Lord is my
Shepherd, I shall not lack." "The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of
trouble." Surely these consolations will uplift the head above all
You may be called to duties, which surpass your
strength. You feel, that you are weak to bear the burdens, and to scale the
heights. You fear, that you must yield--defeated--crushed. And truly you
must be overwhelmed, if you are alone. But alone you cannot be, while Jesus
lives. If only you be really called, you may advance high above trembling.
His voice "is very near unto you, in your mouth and in your heart." Grasp
the ready promises--"As your days, so shall your strength be." "I, the Lord
your God, will hold your right hand, saying unto you, fear not, I will help
you. Fear not, you worm Jacob, and you men of Israel--you shall thresh the
mountains, and beat them small, and shall make the hills as chaff." Who can
faint--who will not rather be courageous, with help divine so near!
A trying hour comes on apace. Death still
exercises universal sway. "It is appointed a unto all men once to die." None
should think lightly of an event so solemn. Momentous change! Time
ceases--eternity arrives. Its accompaniments, too, are humbling. The powers
droop. A languid body scarcely holds a languid mind. Beloved friends must
all be left. Satan sees his last hope, and therefore musters his whole force
to barb his final thrust. He draws with craftiest skill his farewell bow.
This passage would indeed be dark and perilous, without a Savior "very
near." But the believer grasps a reviving word--"Yes, though I walk through
the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil--for You are with me,
Your rod and Your staff they comfort me."
Jesus, now gone to fit mansions in the heavenly home,
then comes to receive His people, that where He is, there they may ever be.
He draws the nearer, as the need increases. His everlasting arms are
underneath. Thus the cold waters cannot drown. Thus martyrs' fires have been
welcomed, and the excruciating stake been rapturously clasped. Believer,
dread not death. Hope, rather, that Jesus will be "very near." Expect His
presence--and it will be given. Ask His support, and it will surely come.
But after death, what meets you then! To die is to be
with Christ. To soar from earthly scenes is to escape the clouds of
sense--the mists of partial glance--the darkness of a prison-state. Then
faith expires, and eternal sight expands. Then Jesus in very presence is
forever "very near."
Surpassing blessedness! amazing joy! perfection of all
glory! The very thought is rapture. What must be the full reality! The
expectation dazzles. What will be full enjoyment! The Lord--the Lord
Himself--is near in all the brightness of His Deity. Separation never can
occur. Nothing can ever part. Jesus--Jesus in seen glory--is now "very
Some read these lines, whose conscience warns, that they
possess no title to such bliss. Christ is not theirs by faith. They have not
fled to Him for refuge. They cling not to His cross. Their hearts have never
opened to admit this inhabitant. Sirs! tremble. But why tarry thus?
Arise--make haste--draw near. The penitential prayer of faith soon reaches
Him--for He is "very near."