David H Marshall

Exodus 15: 17-18

Nehemiah 6: 3 from “I am doing”

Acts 7:54-56

         Christianity is a system that is full of great things.  I was thinking as our brother was speaking that we have three settings here where a great view is taken first of all.

         In the Book of Exodus, the children of Israel had just crossed the Red Sea, and there was a song, a song of great deliverance.  They had been delivered spectacularly out of the hands of the Egyptians and they were there in safety, to an extent; but a way was going to lie ahead, a way of trial, a way of tribulation, a way of much suffering.  Many things were going to come in, but that is not what is spoken of here.  What we have here is a great view that Moses takes in this song, a great view looking right on to some of the greatest things in Christianity:

       Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them

                  in the mountain of thine inheritance,

       The place that thou, Jehovah,

                  has made thy dwelling,

       The Sanctuary, Lord, that thy hands

                  have prepared.

       Jehovah shall reign for ever and ever!

He had a view himself as to the greatness of all that God had in mind for His people.  It is a wonderful thing to have that view.  He probably knew that there would be tests ahead; he probably knew some of them.  He probably had no idea as to how much they would be tested and little did he think, perhaps, how grave some of these tests would actually be, but at this point he had that view, that forward view; and I think it is a fine thing, as we find ourselves here, to have that great view of what lies ahead, of what God has in mind, great things: and we have a part in it.  We have been called to have a part in it, and Moses here was setting that out from his affections, from his heart, that there were those wonderful things that God had in mind for His people.  It is still so.

         Nehemiah had an appreciation of what he had been called to: a great work.  You could have said he was only re-building a wall, stone upon stone, brick upon brick.  It might not have seemed the grandest proposition, especially since it had been in ruin when he discovered it, and he went over his feelings and the right desires that he had, and how he was moved to become engaged in this; but he had an appreciation that he was called to a great work.  We all have part in this great work.  You might think your contribution and my contribution is very small, and that would be true in some sense, but what we have been called to is a great work.  We are part and have a part in that which is pleasing to the Lord Jesus in His absence.  As an individual Christian you have that; as a Christian in a company where there are others you have been given the privilege to walk with in happy fellowship you have that in an even greater sense of it.  As set together in local assemblies in various parts throughout the world, you can have a part in what is truly great, and be formed both in yourself and in a collective sense in that which is pleasurable, and seeking to be more pleasurable, to our absent Lord.  Typically Nehemiah had an appreciation of that.  I think it is a good thing to have an appreciation as to the greatness of what we have been called to.  Sometimes we occupy ourselves with failure, sorrow, weakness, to little profit, if any profit at all, but here Nehemiah had an appreciation that not only was it a great work, but he should not leave it, he should not set it aside in any way.  His appreciation was like that of Moses.  He had a respect for the recompense, he had some appreciation in his heart as to what he had been called to, and what he was engaged in, and what he was occupied with, and he was not going to set that aside in any way.  He was going to continue with it.  That is a commendable feature, and yet it is there for us all.  We can all have our part in this great work, even though our part is small.  There is much to be done: we know that.  In our local assemblies there is much to be done. There is much to be done in the furtherance of the testimony, there is much to be done in terms of what is pleasing to the Lord Jesus in His absence.  We have the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us, and to attune our desires and to guide us into these things, and to stimulate and strengthen us, but my thought here is that Nehemiah had some appreciation as to the greatness of what he was involved in, not just building a wall, much more than that.

         When you come to Acts of the Apostles - we read this last night in Port Seton -, we find it is a wonderful chapter because it is a great sight you have here, a really wonderful sight.  Stephen gives a very broad but concise account of the history of things, and then it comes to this section, “And hearing these things they were cut to the heart, and gnashed their teeth against him.  But being full of the Holy Spirit, having fixed his eyes on heaven, he saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, Lo, I behold the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God”.  It was a great sight he saw here, a wonderful sight!

         O the sight in heav’n is glorious!

it tells us in that hymn that we sing (Hymn 212), but what a sight this man had in these closing moments of his life.  He had a wonderful sight, a Man in heaven; Jesus, the very same Jesus, was there.  What a sight he saw, a special sight, a great sight, a portion that would compensate for the terrible death that he was about to face but even more than that, as we know, the gentle word of Scripture tells us he fell asleep having said, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge”, no doubt influenced by that great sight he had seen.  Soon he would be taking up his place with the Lord Jesus.  What a matter!  A sight that was not for this world but a sight that was there for a committed believer who was laying down his life for his Saviour and Master, seen in that very act when he was about to be martyred, and he was given that wonderful sight that he could see; what we can only see by faith, he saw.  What a matter!  What a portion!  These things are wonderful.  We are truly in a system of great things and I think it behoves us to have a greater appreciation of them.

         May we be encouraged!  For His Name’s sake.

Edinburgh

10th September 2013