We Will Go with You!
William Nicholson, 1862
"We will go with you; for we have heard that God is with you." Zechariah 8:23
The prophecy in the text and context refers to the conversion of the Gentiles — the great prosperity of Messiah's kingdom. That kingdom should no longer be confined to one nation, or people — but multitudes in different climates, and the remotest parts of the earth, should submit to Christ. "Ten men shall take hold out of all languages," etc.
This in a measure was verified on the day of Pentecost, and it further implies that the Gospel should ultimately be read and preached in the various languages and dialects of the earth. The word "Jew" may refer to the Apostles who were Jews, and also to other Christian Jews, Acts 6:7, of whose skirt ten men, or ten Gentiles to one, or very many, should take hold, craving instruction, or direction in spiritual matters, saying, as in the text, "We will go with you; for we have heard that God is with you." Or as Ruth said to Naomi, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God!" Ruth 1:16
I. The Nature of the Resolution:"We will go with you."
1. This resolution implies the abandonment of a previous course of conduct. Even as the Jews, when converted, renounced Judaism, and the Gentiles their idolatry — so the man who makes this resolve renounces every beloved philosophy, and every false way. See this in the case of Paul. He renounced his Pharisaical views, etc. Whatever stands in competition with Christ and fellowship with his Church, is freely surrendered!
2. This resolution implies regeneration of soul by the Spirit of God. Unregenerate man is opposed to God and his people. The Spirit destroys this opposition, as well as restores to the Divine image. The Church is composed of the children of God, and men become such by regeneration and adoption. They may have deemed Christians as enthusiasts and fanatics, but now they say, "We will go with you; for we have heard that God is with you." Element cleaves to its kindred element, and a regenerated soul pants for association with the regenerated Church. Paul, before his conversion, hated Christians — but afterwards he was willing to die for them.
3. This resolution implies compliance with the terms requisite to union with the people of God. Repentance of sin. Saving faith in the Sacrifice of Christ, and in him alone. Christ is the door of the Church, John 10:9. The Church is composed of true believers in Christ — none else have a right to enter. It is also required that a profession of Christ and attachment to his people should be made openly and boldly.
4. This resolution implies actual union with the Church. No sooner was Saul of Tarsus converted than "he tried to join himself to the disciples." It is the imperative duty of the converted, to unite in holy fellowship with the people of God; it was so in ancient times, and it must be so now. To the people of God in their collected condition, as a company of believers, of pilgrim travelers, of soldiers, of servants, of the flock of the great Shepherd — the promises of God, in their full, sweet, and glorious import, are made.
"We will go with you!" We will enter your ranks — we will own you as brethren, and we desire to be owned by you in return. We agree with you in doctrine, in practice, etc., and "we will go with you."
5. This resolution implies a disposition to cooperate in holy duties. With you we will maintain the doctrines of the Gospel — sustain the preaching of them, and defend them when attacked. We will submit to the discipline of the Church, and scripturally exercise it to others. We will labor according to our gifts, and as the providence of God may direct, in the Church. "We will go with you" to hear with you, to pray with you, and to weep with you. "We will go with you" in sympathy, "Rejoicing with those who rejoice; mourning with those who mourn."
6. This resolution implies cooperation in promoting the interests of Christ's kingdom. We will regard Satan as our common foe, and we will join you in every expedition against him. Nothing will be dearer to our hearts than to see our Savior honored with the conquests of his Church.
7. This resolution implies invariable attachment to God's people and cause. We desire to go with you in this sense; to be united for life — to go with you not only in sunshine, but also when the Church is beclouded — to partake not only of your pleasures, but also a share of your pains.
8. Finally, this resolution implies that we will go with you to Heaven. We will travel with you until our "eyes shall see the King in his beauty, and the land that is afar off!" And it will be a glorious thing for us to join the general assembly, etc.; to unite with them — to tune our harps, etc. "We will go with you."
II. The Reason Assigned for This Resolution:"We have heard that God is with you."
1. This fact is established. We have heard from the Divine word, wherein this blessing is promised and declared. The name of the city shall be Jehovah Shammah, "the Lord is there." See Zephaniah 3:17 (and numerous passages). We have heard it from yourselves.
You have felt his presence, and been made glad. "The Lord is my helper;" "he is at my right hand," says one. "All men forsook me, but the Lord stood by me," says another. We have also heard it from others, who observed how your faces shone when you descended from the mount, from others who have heard your conversation, and marked your walk, etc.
What a blessed thing it is when the Divine presence is so realized, and when God is heard in the language, and seen in the disposition and conduct of his people! "We have heard that God is with you."
2. For God to be with his people, implies,
(1.) His presence, or the manifestation of all his glorious attributes. The Essence is invisible, but the attributes are displayed, graciously displayed to the people of God. To sinners they are very terrific, but to saints most delightful. They realize his guiding, protecting, supporting, consoling, cheering, and providential presence.
(2.) It also implies his influence. Presence, not only for the purpose of unveiling the moral glories of his nature, but influence as an operating agency, and spiritual communication.
(3.) It conveys the idea of his residence. Here he dwells with man, as a resident, not a guest. The Church is the dwelling-place of a perfect and infinite spirit of knowledge, wisdom, purity, consolation, love, joy, Heaven.
(4.) It implies communion. Here . . .
children come to meet a father;
disciples come to listen to the Master's voice;
patients come to experience the physician's skill.
How often has God been with his people . . .
in public worship,
in reading the Scriptures,
3. The particular evidences of the Divine presence.
(1.) When sinners perceive it, and say, "We have heard," etc.
(2.) When sinners are converted, and say, "We will go with you," etc.
(3.) Spirituality — separation from the world. God cannot dwell with the wicked.
(4.) Christian union and brotherly love — for God is the God of order, etc.
(5.) Fidelity to the doctrines and ordinances of the Gospel. When Christians earnestly contend for the faith, etc., it is an evidence that God is with them.
1. The glory of the Church is not external or internal decoration, pomp, and grandeur; nor wealth, or great numbers merely; but the Divine presence, and the conversion of sinners in consequence.
2. Believers are here taught to seek increased communion with God, that sinners may be induced to join themselves to the Lord.
3. "We will go with you; for we have heard that God is with you." Let the infrequency of this declaration humble the Church on account of its want of greater spirituality.