THE SUPREME RULE OF JESUS
"This is the resting place, let the weary rest; and this
is the place of repose"—
"Zion, your God reigns!" Isaiah 52:7
"I have installed My King on Zion, my holy hill." Psalm
God's gracious palm-trees of promise are not designed for
comfort and refreshment to the individual believer alone. He has an outlook
from under their grateful shade on the Church's far horizon. Delightful and
elevating is that topic of consolation which our motto-verses suggest!
In the context from which the former of the two is taken,
the prophet, in heavenly vision, beholds the swift-footed Gospel messengers
speeding from country to country, from race to race, carrying the tidings of
salvation round the globe. He sees a whole world brought under the
beneficent reign of the Prince of Peace, and can exclaim (ver. 10)—"The Lord
will lay bare His holy arm in the sight of all the nations; and all the ends
of the earth will see the salvation of our God." The Church does not end her
efforts until every mountain and valley is gladdened with the feet of these
evangelists, with trumpet-tongue proclaiming the commands of her Great King.
And what is the opening theme of those who are thus swift
to act as His delegates? What is their brief watchword for the children of
Zion?—"Your GOD REIGNS!" Happier, more blessed words there cannot be.
Messiah rules over His Church and over the nations. "Yet have I set My
King on My holy hill of Zion." What a comfort to the Church universal; that
amid political complexities: it may be the prevalence and triumph of human
tyranny and wrong; all which concerns her is under His omnipotent
supervision; that He is controlling every event for her ultimate welfare.
'Kings and potentates,' says M'Cheyne, 'are only like Hiram's workmen in
Lebanon cutting down trees to prepare a highway for the King's chariot.'
'The sacramental host,' His true people throughout all
the world, need be in no fear—giving way like Israel in Egypt to precipitate
panic; for in front and from behind they have an Almighty guardian. And
especially His ministers, 'the armor-bearers of Jehovah,' need never fear
the ultimate success of their proclamation of the good tidings; the issue of
the conflict is in the Lord's hands. They can take as their battle-song the
motto inscribed on the altar erected shortly after Israel left their Elim
encampment, "Jehovah Nissi" ("The Lord is my banner").
And that which is the theme of encouragement to the
Church universal, is equally so to each separate member of that Church.
There are times, amid the mysteries of daily life—amid startling
providences—baffling dispensations, when the old moorings threaten to give
way, or have momentarily given way, and we feel ourselves drifting
out on the joyless sea of human doubt and distrust. All is dark around—no
rift in the cloud, no star in the midnight sky—and in the anguish of bitter
unbelief we are tempted to mutter the querulous complaint, "Where is my God
now?" Or, if God lives and reigns, does He live as a God of terror? does He
answer to the fire-god of the Phoenician in his Baal-worship; or to the
Jupiter-god of the Roman, armed with the thunderbolt and forked lightning?
or, in the fantasies of a later philosophy, has He abdicated His throne, and
left man and his fortunes to wild chance, to be driven, things of fate, here
and there on the fitful waters—the vessel without a pilot, the world without
No! the chart of Providence containing the fortunes of
the nations, as well as all that concerns His Church and people, is in the
keeping of the Christ of Calvary. "The Lord is king!
Let the nations tremble! He sits on his throne between
the cherubim. Let the whole earth quake!" It is He who mingles every
drop in the cup, and lights every furnace, and orders every trial, and draws
every tear. Oh! what would many have been in those gloomy hours of despair,
when the props of existence were shaking underneath them—(what they thought
were life's strongholds giving way like the yielding rafters beneath their
feet)—what would they have been, but for the sustaining assurance that
that roll of human destiny is in the hand of the Lord who died for them?
Especially to the mourner in Zion, how cheering the
assurance, that all which concerns him and his, is under His Savior's
control and sovereignty! On those gloomy, sterile mountains of trial, on
which "every tree is burned up, and all the green grass burned up," glad is
this announcement, borne by the messengers of consolation. There are other
"good tidings of good"—grander and more glorious gospel promises, embracing
the hopes "full of immortality;" but how the soul, amid the ruins of its
joy—the dust of its desolation, clings to this elementary truth, that it was
no sudden accident or chance which overturned its fondest fabrics, and made
"the city lie deserted that was once so full of people." But that every form
of outer calamity, fever and disease, lightning and tempest, plague,
pestilence, and famine, are so many arrows in the quiver of God. "Zion!
your God reigns!"
We may not now, and do not now, see the wisdom and
faithfulness of many of His dealings. Many an Elim of blessing may be
mistaken for a Marah of bitterness and sorrow. We may even, at times,
lose the footsteps of the Sovereign Ruler, and the cry of the smitten heart
may be, "Truly You are a God that hides Yourself." But the arm, for the
present slumbering, will in due time "awake;" the arm, now concealed, will
in due time be "made bare;" the purposes now hidden will be unfolded; and
each of the children of Zion will come to be "joyful in their King."
"Know well, my soul, God's hand controls
Whatever thou fearest;
Round Him in calmest music rolls
Whatever thou hearest.
"And that cloud itself, which now before thee
Lies dark in view,
Shall, with beams of light from the inner glory,
Be stricken through."
"The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with
compassion on all her ruins; He will make her deserts like Eden, her
wastelands like the garden of the Lord."