"Then Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father's house, then the Lord will be my God." Genesis 28:20-21

When he uttered these words, the patriarch was a solitary, friendless exile. He had left his father's home--his heart big with sorrow, and his eyes suffused with tears. The path of life, all dark and uncertain, lay before him, and the close of his first day's journey found him weary and benighted, with no better accommodation than the cold earth for a bed, and a stone for his pillow. More than 400 miles of wild and inhospitable deserts were to be traversed, and he was quite uncertain what reception he might meet with at Haran. Most wisely, therefore, did he resolve to enter into covenant with God, and supplicate the Divine protection and blessing at the outset of his journey. His desires were moderate, his wishes few--"to be kept in the way"--"to have bread to eat and clothing to put on"--these were the requests he humbly put forth when erecting the remembrance-stone at Bethel.

What a suitable preparation for his journey! Reader, have you thus besought the Divine blessing?--have you thus covenanted with God, and dedicated yourself to Him? You have entered on your pilgrimage--an unknown path lies before you; are you still a traveler through the 'desert of the world' without a Guide?--journeying you know not where, with no Friend to "keep you in the way"--no "covenant" blessings, which alone are worth possessing. Oh, think how it fared with Jacob. He trusted God. He entered on a long and painful course of discipline--dark clouds gathered round him--the storm and tempest beat--he passed through years of mingled joy and sorrow--he could sing of "mercy and of judgment"--was he disappointed in the end?

Listen to his language, when, once more returning, with joy and gladness, to his native plains, and pitching his tent in security and peace--"God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, the Lord who said unto me, Return unto your country, and to your kindred, and I will deal well with you; I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which you have showed unto your servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan, and now I have become two bands." From the days of his youth he had been an exile from his father's house--his best years had been spent in a strange land, amid toil and hardship. But we find him now, at the end of twenty years, once more within sight of his native land. "There, by his side, rolls the river, once so familiar to his eye--there lie the plains and the hills, over which, when a boy, he had so often roamed, and what is his testimony? Does he dwell on the years of bitterness and toil that have rolled over him, since last he climbed these hills, and wandered by this stream?" Have the terms of the Bethel covenant remained unfulfilled? and does he think with regret upon his chequered pathway? Ah, no; not a word of complaining is heard; not a feeling of dissatisfaction finds place in his soul--the faithfulness, the care, the love of his covenant God--the blessings strewed so profusely on his pathway--are all he can now think of. He speaks of nothing else. "With my staff," he says, "a poor, friendless, destitute wanderer, I left my paternal home. Well do I remember this flowing stream. Well do I recollect the time when last I crossed it, my staff my only support, and almost my only property. But now, how altered are my circumstances!--oh the unerring faithfulness--the amazing goodness and mercy of my God!--'I have become two bands;' I have flocks and herds, men-servants and women-servants; the outcast has become a prince! God's promise is fulfilled. He has kept me by the way, and therefore I have prospered." "I am with you," was the Bethel promise, "and will bring you again into this land." Truth has accomplished what mercy covenanted.

Reader! God's servants have ever found Him faithful to His word. "He cannot deny Himself." That covenant has never been broken on His part. However chequered may have been their history, like Jacob, they have at length had reason to declare, "I have never been forsaken--the Lord has never left me." And why? He is ever the same. Has He said that He will never leave His people nor forsake them? the word He has spoken must be fulfilled. "Heaven and earth may pass away, but not one jot or tittle which He has spoken shall pass until all be fulfilled." Enter, then, into covenant with God. Take Him as your Guide "by the way," and you too will one day be able to say, "He promised to keep me, and He has kept me. He said that He would strengthen me in the hour of trial, and He has strengthened me. He said that He would be a present help in trouble, and in trouble He has been my help. He told me that if I would acknowledge Him in all my ways, He would direct my paths, and He has directed them. He said that He would be my refuge in storms, and, when storms have assailed me, He has been my refuge. Though heart and flesh should faint and fail me, the Lord will be the strength of my heart, and my portion forever."

Reader! let this be your prayer--"O God, the Strength of the needy, the Helper of all those who flee to You for support, give to be my Guide in life. Pour upon me the riches of Your Grace, and so sanctify and bless me, that I may serve You henceforth in body and soul, and live in Your holy love and fear unto my life's end."

"Our night may be a starless night,
Our path a tangled maze;
But yet, our eyes shall soon behold
The morning's golden blaze;
Keeping our gaze upon the East,
Leaving the night behind,
With the will to find the light increased
And strengthened in our mind;
The sun shall rise, the gloom depart,
Lost in the strength of day,
For earnest love and truthful heart
Are sure to find a way."


Home       QUOTES       SERMONS       BOOKS