THE SHIELD"Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield." Genesis 15:1
Abraham had heard the terrible clang of war. He had been in perils of fight. Thus he knew, that without the safeguard of a Shield, the warrior must go forth to overthrow and death. The sword was scarcely sheathed, when the Lord, remembering His mercy, visits His faithful servant. Seasonable are His words of comfort. "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield." Here was assurance, that all foes were as chaff; for the patriarch was encompassed with God, as with a shield.
In Abraham warring, and Abraham shielded, every soldier of the blessed Jesus sees himself. The service of the Lord, soothed as it is with heaven's own peace, is still a storm of assaults from earth and hell. The repose of faith excludes not the fight of faith. Rest in trouble is not rest from trouble. Hostile bands must meet us in hostile land. Satan is yet at large, and is full of wrath. The flesh is still the flesh, and lusts against the spirit. The world is still the world; and, though worn out by centuries of sin, is vigorous to hate, apt to wound, powerful to captivate, strong to enchain. Hence a ceaseless tide of battle rolls. But it is vain, for Jesus ever lives, and ever loves, and still cheers every believer, saying, "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield."
But what is a shield? It is armor framed for defense. Borne on the arm of the combatant, by rapid movement, it baffles the assailant's aim. Whatever be the attack, its broad surface intervenes, and all behind is safe. Just so in the fierce battle-field of faith, Jesus is a wide-spread covering. Hence every foe hurls every dart, as a harmless straw.
Reader! here is a holy image. May it speak holy lessons to the soul! It will do so, if by the Spirit's life-giving grace, it makes Jesus more clear to faith, and more dear to the heart. Let us then take our prayerful stand on the ground of truth, and solemnly mark what perils threaten, and how Jesus wards them off.
How few duly consider the tremendous dangers, to which they are exposed by sin! Could the monster be so lightly regarded, so trifled with, so fondled, if its nature and its consequences were really seen? Could men so live in its embrace, if they felt that it makes God an enemy? But truly it fortifies God, and all that God is, with weapons of just wrath. The thunderbolts of divine fury burn hot against it. The right arm of omnipotent displeasure is ever raised to sweep it to destruction.
Such is the dreadful fact. But how can dust and ashes stand, when God arises in the magnitude of infinite vengeance, and in the multitude of infinite resources? Flight there is none, for God is everywhere. Resistance there is none, for God has all power. Self is ruin, because self is sin: and sin is the only cause of the furor.
But do I in these pages converse with anyone who is most righteously provided in Christ Jesus? Jesus stands between the justly-offended majesty of God, and the justly-perishing offender. He presents Himself to receive each blow. They fall, they all fall, they all must fall. Truth and holiness require it. But they fall, they all fall, on Him. Terrible is the outpouring of the indignation, which beats terribly against Him. "It pleased the Father to bruise Him." But He bears all. If Deity assails, Deity sustains. It is against His fellow, that Jehovah wakes His sword. All the arms of the armory of an avenging God fall harmless, because all spend their fury in the breast of God's co-eternal and co-almighty Son. Thus the believer meets God's wrath, and lives.
Reader! are you safely hidden in Jesus? Woe is merited by you, and it must come. To brave it in the open plain of defenseless nature is sure perdition. There is no shadow of safety, but under these sheltering wings. Have you by faith made this refuge yours? Faith, and faith only, admits into the impenetrable defense. "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."
But God's abhorrence of evil is not our only adversary. There is the evil one, red with the blood of myriads of our race. He cannot but hate, for his heart is hatred. He cannot pity, for he revels in man's misery. He cannot spare, because he lives, when we die. The first days of our pilgrimage are the first days of his plots—his wiles—his cruel warfare. He lays an ambush at every turn. Now a shower of darts pelts pitilessly. Now the weight of incessant batterings descends. Now a sudden arrow flies swiftly in the dark; and suddenly we fall, before danger is suspected. He never slumbers, never is weary, never relents, never abandons hope. He deals his blows alike at childhood's weakness, youth's inexperience, manhood's strength, and the totterings of age. He watches to ensnare the morning thought. He departs not with the shades of night. By his legions he is everywhere, at all times. He enters the palace, the hut, the fortress, the camp, the fleet. He enshrouds every chamber of every dwelling, every pew of every sanctuary. He is busy with the busy. He hurries about with the active. He sits by each bed of sickness, and whispers into each dying ear. As the spirit leaves the tenement of clay, he still draws his bow with unrelenting rage.
Such is our terrific and life-long fight. How can it be that each moment is not a death-wound? We could not but be cast down, except some Shield, far stronger than our own struggles, or our own resolves, were cast around us. And where can we find this shelter, but in Jesus? He interposes the might of His intercession: "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not." His prayers are our victory. They gain supplies of divine aid. They brace us with heaven's strength. Thus we resist the devil, and he flees from us.
Jesus shields us, too, by giving the shield of faith. He is the author and finisher of this grace. Against this all the fiery darts of the wicked are powerless. They touch it, only to be quenched. The sprinkling of His blood is also an impregnable security. Satan sees this and trembles. It is an armor which he cannot pierce. This is the one experience of the Church of the firstborn. They are all sorely pressed, but they are more than conquerors, for they overcome by the blood of the Lamb! Thus the Evil One touches not the shielded ones of Jesus.
But there are other foes swarming in every secret corner of the camp. We have to wrestle with self, which cleaves to us as a girdle of destruction. The flesh gives no quarter. Its lusts are terrible shafts. They have strewn the earth with heaps of mighty slain. David met them without his Shield, and his scar went down with him to the grave. Joseph was assailed. The enemy's aim was skillful, and bold, and strong. But the Lord covered his heart, and temptation entered not. "How," said he, "can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" The blow recoiled, and he was safe.
The pleasures, the luxuries, the honors of high station, also beat down their countless victims. None can withstand them in human strength. But none can be vanquished, who have the Lord for their breastplate. Moses was tried by their most seductive craft. He might have sat next to the king in royal state. But he "endured, as seeing Him who is invisible." And being dead, he tells us how to drive back this wily troop of fascinations.
Man's frown and persecution's threat give deadly wounds. All this fury frightened Daniel and the captive youths. The tyrant's wrath, the burning fiery furnace, the den of raging beasts gaped menacingly on them. But they fled to the Lord. He was their Shield, and they were unharmed in spirit and in body. Moreover, the Zion-ward path is in the face of batteries, from which hosts of cares and anxieties pour down their envenomed darts. How suddenly will they muster their efforts to disquiet! It is well with me today through grace. But what may come on the morrow? Friends may fail. Their pleasant seats may be a melancholy void. Disease and languishings may make the frame a misery. Such thoughts are pointed with keen anguish. And there is no shelter, but in the Lord. He alone can deaden their sting. But He can shield by spreading before our eyes His eternal love, His never-failing presence, His ever-watchful care, His ever-living promises.
No apprehensions can slay the life, or vigor, or calm of the soul, when the voice of Jesus whispers, "Do not fear, for I am with you." "All things are yours." "This God is our God forever and ever, He will be our guide even unto death." The soul is surely cased in peace, when it is folded in the arms of Jesus.
Reader! are you a true disciple of this Lord? If so, bring forth your trial, your foe, your peril, your need, and I will show you Jesus Almighty, and immovable, and ever-watchful to screen you from this very hurt. "The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe."
But do I in these pages converse with anyone who is afar off from Christ? Unhappy child! can I speak to you of security? No, I warn you, that you are on all sides defenseless, and in the midst of ruins. Where is your shelter from the wrath of God? Where, from the rage of Satan? Where, from the death-blows of self? Where, from the soul-murdering world? You have none! Oh! think. It is not yet too late. You yet live, and your wounds, though many, may all be healed; and your foes, though many, may all be driven, like vanishing smoke, before you. The words, on which your eye now rests, direct you to the only refuge. Flee to Jesus! He is always near, and always sufficient to be your all-sufficient Shield.
Believer, will not you put your seal to this truth? Have you not found a cluster of aid in Him? Can you not say with David, "Many there be who say of my soul, there is no help for him in God. But You, O Lord, are a shield for me!" Will you not cry, "Blessed are you, O Israel! who is like you, a people saved by the Lord? He is your shield and helper and your glorious sword." And will you not exhort, "O Israel, trust in the Lord, He is their help, and their Shield. O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord, He is their help and their Shield. You that fear the Lord, trust in the Lord, He is their help and their Shield."
What especial encouragement is here to the faithful minister of Christ! What a tower of all-prevailing strength to the humble laborers in the Gospel-field! They seem to sow in weakness the seed of a few weak words. But it takes root. A gracious plant springs up. It sheds forth fragrance like Eden, and bears fruit for the garner of the King of kings. It thus flourishes, though checked by uncongenial climate, scorched by fiery suns, battered by rain and hail. The wild-boar out of the woods cannot ravage it; nor the wild beast of the field devour it. How is this? No weapon that is formed against it, can prosper; for the Word of the Lord is truth, "I am your Shield." Therefore, you servants of the living God, bless His holy name. He always causes you to triumph in Christ. Go on with the shield of faith, and under the covering of your Lord. Soon will the conflict end—and in Salvation's kingdom you will sing the glories of Salvation's Shield!
The author does not allow comments to this entry