Bulletin Edition October 2020

“And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.” Exodus 3:2
Octavius winslow
There is yet another part of this significant type to be considered, equally important and rich in the view it conveys of the glory of Jesus in His work. “And he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.” The symbol of fire was expressive of the holiness and justice of God. It is thus frequently employed—”The Lord your God is a consuming fire.” “And the sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire.” “Our God is a consuming fire.” But that which formed the greatest wonder,—which riveted the eye, and attracted and enchained the feet of Moses to the spot, was the bush unconsumed. “And Moses said, I will NOW TURN aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.”

But a more marvelous and stupendous spectacle meets us in the cross of Christ—Jesus enduring the fire of His Father’s wrath; wrapped in the flame of His justice, and yet unconsumed! Let us turn aside from all inferior objects, and for a while contemplate this “great sight.” It is indeed a great sight! The Son of God is bound upon the altar as a “burned-offering”—a sacrifice for sin. The fire of Divine justice descends to consume Him; holiness in fearful exercise heaps on its fuel, and the flame and the smoke ascend in one vast column before the throne of the Eternal, “an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor.” But behold the astonishment! Jesus suffering, and yet rejoicing! dying, and yet living! consuming, and yet unconsumed! These prodigies marked the offering up of our great High Priest upon Calvary. The dark billows of sorrow rolled over the human soul of Christ, but the Godhead remained calm and peaceful, its tranquility unruffled by a wave of grief, its sunshine undimmed by a cloud of darkness. He thus passed through all these throbs, and throes, and agonies of death, descended into the grave, rose again, lived, and still lives, the Fountain of life to the created universe. Behold the GOD! Say you, He is a mere creature? Preposterous thought! Mad conception! Soul-destructive belief! Had He been less than Divine, suffering as He did for sin, the devouring fire would have consumed Him in its quenchless flame.

To a heart-broken sinner, how attractive and glorious is this spectacle of an almighty Redeemer, sustaining the wrath, and suffering the justice of God for transgression! Mourning soul! turn aside, and behold yet again this “great sight.” “Put off your shoes from off your feet, for the place whereon you stands is holy ground.” Lay aside your fleshly reasoning, your carnal views of self-justification, self-salvation, and human power. Put off all your fleshly ideas of God, of His grace, and of His goodness; divest yourself of all your unbelieving and hard thoughts of His power, willingness, and readiness to save you. Thus prepared, approach—gaze—wonder—and adore! No one can stand on this holy ground, but he who stands on his own nothingness; none are welcome here but the poor, the empty, the bankrupt, and the vile. Are you all this? is this your case? Then draw near! God will speak from amid the flame of the sacrifice, and say to you, “Fear not!”

Dear tried and suffering reader, do you resemble this burning bush? Are you in the fire, passing through the furnace? Does some strong temptation assail you—some sore trial oppress you—some deep sorrow wound you? He who dwelt in the bush, dwells in you! and He who kept the bush unconsumed amid the flame, will keep you! Let your greatest care and deepest solicitude be to “glorify God in the fires.” Be more prayerful for sustaining and sanctifying grace, than for the removal of your trial. This will bring richer glory to God. Beseech your Father that the flame may not be extinguished until the alloy is consumed, and the tried gold has come forth reflecting more vividly from its surface the image of Jesus—your soul partaking more deeply of the Divine HOLINESS.

There is enough tinder in the heart of the holiest of men, to light a fire that shall burn to the lowest Hell!

(Charles Spurgeon)

“Keep back your servant also from willful sins; let them not have dominion over me!” Psalm 19:13

Such was the prayer of “the man after God’s own heart.” Did holy David need to pray thus? How needful, then, must such a prayer be for us babes in grace! It is as if he said, “Keep me back, or I shall rush headlong over the precipice of sin!”

Our evil nature, like an ill-tempered horse, is apt to run away. May the grace of God put a bridle upon it, and hold it in, that it rush not into mischief. What grievous sins might the best of us do—if it were not for the checks which the Lord sets upon us both in providence and in grace!

The psalmist’s prayer is directed against the worst form of sin—that which is done with deliberation and willfulness. Even the holiest people need to be kept back from the vilest transgressions! It is a solemn thing to find the apostle Paul warning the saints against the most loathsome sins: “So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual sin, impurity, lust, and shameful desires, and greed, which is idolatry.” Colossians 3:5. What! do saints need warning against such sins as these? Yes, they do! The whitest robes, unless their purity is preserved by divine grace, will be defiled by the blackest spots.

Experienced Christian, do not boast in your experience; you will yet trip—if you look away from Him who is able to keep you from falling. You whose love is fervent, whose faith is constant, whose hopes are bright, say not, “We shall never fall!” but rather cry, “Lead us not into temptation.” There is enough tinder in the heart of the holiest of men, to light a fire that shall burn to the lowest Hell—unless God shall quench the sparks as they fall. Who would have dreamed that righteous Lot could be found drunken, and committing incest? Hazael said, “Is your servant a dog—that he should do this monstrous thing?” and we are very apt to use the same self-righteous question. May divine wisdom cure us of the madness of self-confidence!

“He who trusts in his own heart is a fool!” Proverbs 28:26

I am with you always

(John MacDuff, “The Christian’s Pathway” 1858)

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed,
 for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you.
 I will uphold you with My victorious right hand.” Is. 41:10

The Divine presence is . . .
  the believer’s strength in weakness;
  his support in suffering;
  his consolation in the hour of death.

The blessed assurance, “I am with you,” is sufficient to
enliven every scene, and sweeten every condition. Its
realization opens springs of joy in the cheerless waste
of this desert world. The Divine presence . . .
  dissipates the thickest darkness,
  soothes the anguish of the keenest affliction, and
  lightens the heaviest load of poverty and distress.

Reader, be anxious to possess an abiding consciousness
of the great truth—that the eye of God is ever upon you!
Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing—set the
Lord always before you. Having Him at your right hand,
whatever difficulties and dangers may surround your
path—you shall not be moved.

“Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to
 the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

“O Israel, you have destroyed yourself; but in me is your help.” Hosea 13:9
God is all-wise, and therefore takes no rash, precipitate steps. As the original plan of salvation was devised by infinite wisdom, so all the successive steps of the execution of that plan are directed by the same boundless wisdom also. “Wherein he has abounded towards us,” says Paul (Eph.1:8), “in all wisdom and prudence.” Thus, in his dealings with his people, God does not put them at once into possession of all the blessings which he has laid up for them.

He has pardoned, for instance, their sins; but he does not immediately, when he calls them by his grace, put them into possession of this blessing. He has first to teach them their need of it. He has to prepare their heart for the right reception of it. It is no common gift, and he has to teach them how to value it. They are saved from wrath and eternal misery, from his dreadful displeasure and ever-burning indignation against sin. They have need to be shown, and made deeply to feel, from what they are saved, as well as to what they are saved. And as the oak does not grow to its full stature in a day, but needs years of sunshine and storm, of beating winds and howling tempests, to give it strength and constancy, a deep and wide root, as well as a lofty and branching stem, so do God’s children need months and years of trial and temptation, that they may push a deep root downwards, and shoot up healthy and vigorous upwards.

Thus, before the soul can know anything about salvation, it must learn deeply and experimentally the nature of sin, and of itself, as stained and polluted thereby. It is proud, and needs to be humbled; careless, and needs to be awakened; alive, and needs to be killed; full, and requires to be emptied; whole, and needs to be wounded; clothed, and requires to be stripped. It is, by nature, self-righteous and self-seeking; is buried deep in worldliness and carnality; is utterly blind and ignorant; is filled with presumption, arrogance, conceit, and enmity, and hates all that is heavenly and spiritual. Sin, in all its various forms, is its natural element. “The Ethiopian cannot change his skin, nor the leopard his spots.” To make man the direct opposite of what he originally is; to make him love God instead of hating him; fear, instead of mocking him; obey, instead of rebelling against him; and to tremble at his terrible majesty, instead of running upon the thick bosses of his shield;–to do this mighty work, and to effect this wonderful change, requires the implantation of a new nature by the immediate hand of God himself.

Heed the rod, and the One who appointed it!

(Charles Spurgeon)

“Heed the rod, and the One who appointed it!” Micah 6:9

God’s most useful instrument is His rod of correction!

If we had no idols in children, friends, wealth or ourselves—we would not need half the trials we have! Foolish idols, make rods for foolish backs!

I bear a willing witness that I owe more to God’s fire, and hammer, and file than to anything else. I sometimes question whether I have ever learned anything profitable, except through God’s rod.

There are blessed and favored exceptions, but most of us need the rod, for we do not seem to learn obedience except through the chastening of the Lord!

Whatever God keeps away from His servants—He never keeps away the chastening rod from them! He had one Son without sin—but He never had one son without chastisement.

God’s rod flogs His child not from Him, but to Him!

Christian, God’s love to you is always the same. He cannot love you more, and He will not love you less! Never, when afflictions multiply, when terrors frighten, or when distresses abound—does God’s love to you falter or flag. Let the rod fall ever so heavily upon you—the hand that moves, like the heart that prompts the stroke, is full of love! Whether He brings you down into the depths of misery, or lifts you up into the seventh Heaven of delight—His faithful love towards you never varies or fluctuates!

“Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
 But trust Him for His grace;
 Behind a frowning providence
 He hides a smiling face!”
William Cowper

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