Bert Taylor

Isaiah 33: 5-6

         I trust that the Spirit of God may help us to speak of stability.  We live in a world that has none, which has been exposed to us in recent times, and perhaps we needed it.  Men do tend to think that there is stability in this world; politicians thought they had come to a time when boom and burst were past.  God has exposed these things for our sakes, dear brethren, to give us to see that there is no stability outside of God.  The verse I read is, “he shall be the stability of thy times”. 

         Whatever these times may be, stability can be found in Him, and in Him alone.  In sorrow or in joy He is our stay.  Nothing can be sustained by man, but Christ has come on to view, and was ever in God’s mind to be the stability of our times.  Sin has created instability on every hand, but even when sin came into the world God’s words were that the seed of the woman would bruise the head of the serpent, Gen 3: 15.  Before ever sin came in God had Christ in His mind to bring in stability that would continue; I trust we will speak of it continuing to the last page of the Bible, in a Man who has brought everything onto new ground, and brought persons through to God’s eternal glory.  May our hearts be touched, I trust by the Spirit, to put our confidence in Him, who is the stability of our times. 

         I would like to speak first of all about God’s word, the Bible.  If we are going to come to stable ground we must listen to God’s word.  He has set it out, and there is not a book in the universe that has been more stable than the Bible; and men today, and the enemy today, are set to undermine the authority of the word of God.  Alas, this has been sanctioned by the authorities in this very city of late.  Men were seeking to destroy and, at least, remove the distinctiveness of the Bible, and they were even destroying some pages of it; which the authorities allowed.  That is the day we are in.  One dear Christian commented on that occasion, ‘Christians need not be cast down; since the beginning of time the hammers of infidelity have all been broken on the anvil of truth’.  I thought that was well put: ’the hammers of infidelity’.  They have been going hammer and tongs, as we say, but they have all been smashed on this One who is the stability of our times.

         Oh the folly of men; they are trying to understand how the world began.  Job’s friend asked thousands of years ago, “Canst thou by searching find out God?”, Job 11: 7.  They are trying to find out about man, how the worlds were created; the Bible could tell them very completely in one verse, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”, Gen 1: 1.  Men are trying to disprove it, but they never will.  What resources it would have saved if men had just settled on these two things, instead of trying to disprove the word of God; it would settle the national debt by far. 

         I commend to you the reading of the Scriptures.  The need for young people reading the Bible has been mentioned today already.  If you want to train your memory, memorise Isaiah 53 and 1 Corinthians 13.  Homework was referred to; there is good homework.  You will see there a Man whom Isaiah loved to speak about.  It comes out in chapter after chapter, and, referring to stability, he says, “And a man shall be as a hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the storm; as brooks of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land”, Isa 32: 2.  There is stability.  If you learn these verses it will help you in your pathway, and I say again, learn them when you are young.  In 1 Corinthians 13 you will see how everything operates; “Love never fails”, verse 8.  But there is a special touch in learning these things when you are young, and I say this that God has a great interest in seeing persons who in their youth would give their time to be interested in His things.  I can tell you with all assurance that God will give you an impression in your youth, if you make room for it, that will be the stability of your times.

         Well, I say that to commend reading the Bible; our brother referred to it last night and Daniel was in my mind.  He was reading the book of Jeremiah, not a book that I would turn to as first choice, but he learnt in Jeremiah that Christ would be the stability of his times.  Daniel could not understand the public breakdown, and many of us have been turned aside by the breakdown, by thinking things depended on man.  But Daniel understood, as he was reading and praying; that is when God touched him.  God saw that a young man had turned aside in a time of great pressure, and He touched him.  I never speak about Daniel without thinking about the last verses.  It says, "go thy way ... and stand in thy lot at the end of thy days", Dan 12: 13.  God assured him, ’I will look after the captivity, but you will stand in your lot at the end of the days’.  He died a restful man.  Christ was the stability of his times.

         Well, the Scripture is full of encouragement for us, and as Peter commends the writings of Paul, he says, "some things are hard to be understood", and that is true, but Daniel understood by praying.  Peter says, ’Do not write it off’; he says, “the untaught and ill-established wrest, as also the other scriptures, to their own destruction”, 2 Pet 3: 16.  The Scriptures will still stand, and Peter more than once commends to you the reading of the Scriptures.  He illuminates the whole of the Old Testament when he says, "holy men of God spake under the power of the Holy Spirit", 2 Pet 1: 21.  That puts all these Old Testament scriptures in their own authority.  How was Moses able to write Genesis?  Can men answer that?  Holy men of God wrote under the power of the Holy Spirit.  The Bible and its writings are inspired.  Approach the Scriptures, dear friend, with reverence, all the more so today; it is God’s word.  It has authority, and it has charm.  And the charm of them will grow on you as you experience the blessedness of them.  Paul refers to them too; he says, “Think of what I say", 2 Tim 2: 7.  As you think about it, Paul tells you, the Lord will open up these things to you.  Men dismiss them because they do not see the authority, the inspiration, of the Scriptures; “Every scripture is divinely inspired and profitable for teaching”, 2 Tim 3: 16.  We all need that - for conviction, we certainly need that too; it is inspired to affect us.  You never really read the Scriptures without being affected.  It says about piety that it is profitable for all things and the Scriptures would come into that category too.

         I only speak about that briefly to show that if we are going to reach stable ground we must begin at the bottom.  Very often, and especially when we are younger, we aspire to build without a sure foundation.  Scripture tells us about that as well.  The Lord says at the end of those beautiful legislation chapters in Matthew on the mountain, "Whoever therefore hears these my words and does them, I will liken him to a prudent man, who built his house upon a rock", chap 7: 24.   That rock is Christ, the stability of our times.  He speaks of another man who maybe reads the word, or hears it, but he does not do it, and "he shall be likened to a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand", v 26.  That is what the world’s system is built on, dear friend: it is built on sand, but the Lord says that it will be tested.  And, dear brother and sister, you will be tested in your pathway of life.  Where is your foundation?  It requires exercise to build on rock but that Rock is Jesus, a Man who would charm your heart; but the sand is very unstable.  It lets you down with the tests, and falls by the way.  You find many people like that in the gospels; they fall by the way.  But here the Lord commends the person who hears and does.  In a day to come there will be many who will say to Jesus, "thou hast taught in our streets; and he shall  say, I tell you, I do not know you", Luke 13: 26, 27.  Why?  Because they did not do; they did not do His words.  It is very testing for us; the Lord says that Himself.  Many will say, Lord "you taught in our streets"; they may be like those who go to the meetings, born in a Christian household, and brought up to hear the things of God; but they did not do them.  And doing them requires faith, faith in the One who is speaking.  The Scriptures would tell us, firstly, that it brings you to repentance.  In the epistle to the Romans, you will see that God in His patience has removed every other man out of sight in Christ and in His work, and He has brought Him to be the stability of our times.  As you read through you will see that "all have sinned" (chap 3: 23), but you will see too, as it goes on, how Abraham, a man of faith, believed God’s word, chap 4: 3.  Some boast in the light they have; it is very precious, but it makes us very responsible.  To have light God looks for an answer, and that answer is in faith; so I would like to speak about "the steps of the faith ... of our father Abraham", verse 12.

         In Genesis 13: 14 it says, “And Jehovah said to Abram, after that Lot had separated himself from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art ...”; and in verse 18, “Then Abram moved his tents, and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron.  And he built there an altar to Jehovah”.  There is stability.  But how did he reach it?  He reached it by moving his tents.  He did not only get light, but in faith he responded to the light, and he came on to stable ground.  Lot, earlier in the chapter, was deluded; he looked, and saw those well-watered plains and he thought them like the land of Egypt, v 10.  Has the world an attraction for you?  It has for us all, and as long as we are in this condition the enemy will use different departments of it to appeal to us at different ages, but Lot had some light, he had moved so far with Abraham, and he had proved something of God’s goodness; but there comes a time when Abraham and Lot could not go on together. 

         In Abraham’s life there was a Lot, in Isaac’s life there was an Ishmael, and in Jacob’s life there was an Esau.  Lot and Esau had the same advantages as Abraham or Jacob had, but they did not value the light that came to them.  Dear brethren, may we in these days value and move in relation to the light that comes to us.  Abraham moved his tents.  There is one thing I see in scripture; there is no middle ground.  It is one thing or another; you are lost or you are saved; you are in the joy of Christ and the appreciation of His person, or you are struggling in the world.  Scripture is very clear there is no middle ground, and that is what Abraham came to.  In these days especially things are being weakened.  These things test us.  We are tested at weddings and funerals some people say, and that is very true.  I do not think Abraham would go to Lot’s anniversaries.  He was looking forward, and Lot was looking backward.  “He moved his tents”; that was everything that he had.  It involved a sacrifice for him and for us to be in the enjoyment of the light we have today there has been tremendous sacrifice by those who have gone before; let us hold fast to the ground that we have been brought on to.  That is what Abraham did, “he moved his tents”; he had no intention of compromising.  I heard of a young man speaking to an older brother about some links that he had formed, and he said he was trying to help someone, he thought he would try and bring them into fellowship.  The old brother said, ’There is a table here; stand up on that table’.  The young man stood up on the table, and he said, ’Now pull me up onto the table’.  The young man said, ’It is impossible’.  ’Yes’, he said, ’but I can easily pull you down’; “evil communications corrupt good manners”, 1 Cor 15: 33.  It is easy to get pulled down if your eye is not on Christ; He is the stability of our times.  You say, ’I am not able for it’: look to Christ.  He, and He alone, is the stability of our times.  That verse in Isaiah is very beautiful, speaking of wisdom, all that we need; Paul puts it in his own words, "Christ Jesus ... has been made unto us wisdom from God, and righteousness, and holiness, and redemption”, 1 Cor 1: 30.  You have everything there, the stability of our times.  We have been speaking about that in these readings, but what I am concerned about in this meeting is that we move our tents.  It is humbling, dear brethren, to recount many three day meetings where the same things have come up, and have had to be gone over again and again.  “God is not mocked; for whatever a man shall sow, that also shall he reap”, Gal 6: 7.  That is a sure thing of scripture. 

         But here Abraham is moving his tents and he is going to reap a wonderful harvest.  It says he “moved his tents, and came and dwelt”; he was not just moving his tent for a holiday, he “moved his tents, and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre”.  You can look through Genesis and you will see him at the end of his days at Mamre, a beautiful place to be.  As he moved in faith, God says, ’I will assure you’.  He said, "Look from the place where thou art ... for all the land that thou seest will I give thee".  Here it was on the earth; He says, ’I will give you all that’.  He leads him out another day; here he is looking out, but another day He says to Abraham, "Look now toward the heavens", and what did he see?  He saw the stars of the heavens, Gen 15: 5.  He saw glory, and Mamre is a place where you come onto that; it says, “which are in Hebron”.  It relates to the purpose of God; it was built long before Egypt, which was man’s building, Num 13: 22.  Hebron was God’s building, a place where divine thoughts and purpose could be unfolded. 

         It says “he dwelt by the oaks of Mamre”.  Oh, these were beautiful trees!  Abraham did not plant them, and in divine grace in moving our tents we come into blessing.  But it is by the Spirit; Paul says, “Things which eye has not seen, and ear not heard, and which have not come into man’s heart, which God has prepared for them that love him”, 1 Cor 2: 9.  Abraham got a taste for that when he looked up, star differing from star in glory, and then he looks at these oaks of Mamre.  What a sight they were!  I do not know how many there were, but, to apply the scripture, he would name these oaks.  He would go to one and look at it and say, ’My sins are all forgiven’;  I will just read Romans 8: 30: “But whom he has predestinated, these also he has called; and whom he has called, these also he has justified; but whom he has justified, these also he has glorified”; there are the oaks of Mamre.  As Abraham went round them he could say, ’Well, I have been called’.  Why have I been called?  These are all steps in faith of Abraham.  ’Called, yes’, he says, ’I was called, and I answered to it’; how blessed to see those "whom he has called ... he has justified".  Justification is a wonderful thing.  The enjoyment of these oaks of Mamre would settle a great deal of difficulties among us, because a lot of our sorrows and a lot of our exercises, especially where they are prolonged, are caused by someone trying to justify themselves; they have not enjoyed justification.  You are not called upon to justify yourself; you are not able for it; the Lord says, ’I have already done it’: “whom he has called, these he also has justified”.  What does it mean?  You are set up before God in the blessed assurance of your place in Christ.  What a cost it was!  It says we are justified by faith, but there is more than that.  James does not just leave things there; he says, "Was not Abraham ... justified by works ...?", Jas 2: 21.  Faith must come into expression.  It comes out in your works.  Men say, ’Well, you know, God knows my heart’, but what is in your heart will come out in your pathway.  It will come out in your speech; it will come out in your conduct.  Yes, God knows your heart, but maybe you do not know it as you should.  The heart of man is incurable, Jer 17: 19.  The Authorised Version says it is "desperately wicked".  There is hope for a desperate case, but there is no hope for an incurable case.  There is the accuracy of scripture; the heart of man is “incurable”, Jer 17: 9.  But here is a heart that is ready to be impressed by these oaks.  And he gets a fresh sense of how he stands before God; so in Romans justification leads to peace with God, and I know no happier part in your life than to be at peace with God.  While we are justified by faith, it is in the power of His blood; what a cost.  Abraham looking at these oaks would say, ’What a work went into them’.  They did not grow up overnight, but there they are standing in all their stability, and that is the work of God; there for us to be impressed with and to appropriate into our souls so that we may become as Abraham became, stable as the oaks of Mamre.  Well, you get more than that; there is another one that would be called ’reconciliation’.  When I think of them, you see justification, reconciliation and sonship.  There are people in the enjoyment of the love of God, set up on stable ground.  And these oaks are there to this day.  It says elsewhere they were his possession, standing there in all their majesty, Gen 49: 30.  The hammers of infidelity have hit them indeed, but they stand there in Abraham’s soul, and that is where stability is needed.  It says, "he built there an altar".  That kept him fresh in his relations with God.  He could approach God justified, reconciled, and in the dignity and liberty of sonship; he built an altar there.

         He builds one or two different altars, and you will see as Abraham goes on in his life he is growing in the knowledge of God.  He is tested; he is worried about his brother Lot.  He seeks to save him, and in the hour of victory a king comes to him and says, "take the property for thyself"; Abraham says, ’You can add nothing to me’, Gen 14.  God strengthened him for the test.  Abraham was tested; it says that; “God tried Abraham”, Gen 22: 1.  And, dear brethren, we are all under test more than we think.

         Gideon’s ten thousand were tested by a very simple thing, how they drank water.  You say, ’There is nothing in that’, but it brought out whether they were committed or not, Judg 7: 7.  And God brings things into our life to test us as to whether we are committed.  Simple things test us as to where our committals are, and how stable we are in what we rest on. 

         Well, Abraham was tested when the king of Sodom met him; he said he was not going to take anything at all from the world; he said, ’I have all I need’.  In type the great High Priest, the Son of God, had already blessed him; he says, ’You cannot add anything to me’.  He had a fresh impression of Christ as the stability of his times.  He goes on in his pathway and he gets other tests and other visitations.  That is what keeps us fresh.  We are not just resting on our past experiences, precious as they are, as they bear fruit in our souls, but Abraham went on his path in the steps of faith with fresh impressions of Christ.  On the next occasion God says to him “Fear not Abram; I am thy shield, thy exceeding great reward”, Gen 15: 1.  Think of having God for a shield.  Could any of these fiery darts ever get through?  Dear brethren, “Keep thy heart more than anything that is guarded”, Prov 4: 23.  God would help us to guard our affections that they do not stray, or be drawn away by these testings that we all have.  Abraham has doubts, but God recovers him with fresh impressions of Himself, until he comes to this point; he addresses God as "the Eternal God" (Gen 21: 33), the stability of our times.  “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms”, Deut 33: 27 AV.  Abraham, in Genesis 24, in type is thinking about Christ and the assembly.  As he is going off the scene he has a view of the great work of the Spirit of God that will bring the assembly to Christ, and will bring her into the appreciation as he himself had tasted of the heavenly Man.   What a way to finish; as he had some sense of Rebecca coming on to view, he saw Isaac in all his glorious worth, and there he is seeing in type Christ and the assembly in the present enjoyment of the movements of divine grace.

         I pass on to Jacob for a moment.  I want to speak of how Jacob was revived.  He is very much more like us, perhaps.  He had been discouraged.  He began to think that Joseph had died.  He is very like what is prevalent today; many only know a historical Jesus.  He needed awakening in his affections.  What stirred Jacob in his life was when Joseph was born.  Typically Jesus came into his heart.  He said, ’I cannot live here among all this confusion’.  He moved his tents, and as he moved he was tested still, Gen 30, 31.  But he had set his path; Joseph has to be made room for: let Jesus come into your life.  Let him stir your affections, as you make room for Him.  Jacob had many sorrowful exercises, and he became discouraged.  Even the brethren could not revive him.  There they are, one after another they speak to Jacob, and tell him that Joseph wants him.  Their word did not carry power.  We feel that in speaking to some discouraged believers, we cannot bring the conviction of our own enjoyment of having One who is the stability of our times into our testimony to revive them, and that was the brethren there.  They could not convince Jacob, until "he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent", Gen 45: 27.  I would like to have seen him when he saw them.  I think that on these wagons, was written ’Zaphnath- paaneah’; Joseph is alive, Saviour of the world, Sustainer of life, and Revealer of secrets.  Jacob could not hold back.  "I will go and see him", he says.  He saw the wagons that Joseph had sent.  It is a type of the Spirit bringing into our hearts something of a glorified Man.  Jacob was living on an historical Jesus.  He did not know him as the Man in the glory.  He did not know the wealth that was there all the time.  While he was feeding his soul with what could not sustain life, there was a place of plenty, and room for that beloved man.  He says, "I will go and see him".  Will you do that tonight, my friend?  Move your tent.  The Spirit alone can quicken our affections, and may He do it in this very hour.  Quicken your heart to arise and see Him.  He says, "before I die", but oh, what a time to be revived, to be restored beyond anything he ever imagined.  The brethren there, they did not quite grasp it, but there was Jacob living in the wealth of the land.

         Dear brethren, the wealth of the land is open to us, and where are we living?  Some of our dear brethren whom we love are living in breakdown, confused circumstances, very, very solemn, and we should carry the shame and sorrow of it.  Can we convey something of Joseph still alive in our contacts with them, instead of going over past days.  The best time in Jacob’s life was when he was revived.  The Spirit brought him into the joy of a Man in the glory; there in all His wealth, dispensing blessing.  I would like to have been Benjamin.  Benjamin had a special portion.  There was still going to be five years of famine, and Benjamin had five changes of clothing, a new suit every year, Gen 45: 22.  The famine was going on; in Egypt the clothes were getting old and worn, but he would stand out in all the joy that Joseph had blessed him with.

         I want to finish in Revelation.  If we could turn to Revelation 1: 8, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, saith the Lord God, he who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty”, and verse 17, “And when I saw him I fell at his feet as dead; and he laid his right hand upon me, saying, Fear nor; I am the first and the last”.  And on the last page of the Bible, chap 22: 16, 17, “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify these things to you in the assemblies.  I am the root and offspring of David, the bright and morning star.  And the Spirit and the bride say, Come.”  These are three of the ‘I ams’ of Revelation; "I am", that is stable, unchanging.  “I am the Alpha and the Omega”, and He fills everything in between, He is the stability of our times.  He says, ”I am the first and the last” and “have the keys of death and of Hades”, chap 1: 18.  He is in control.  The book of Revelation is a book of great happenings, but if you look carefully you will see everything is controlled from heaven; the very hours, the very days of all that was happening, and all these tribulations, were controlled by Him who is the Alpha and the Omega.  Apply it to our lives, dear brethren; do we apprehend Him as the great ‘I AM’.  It says he became dead, and as alive He established His right in His manhood to overrule all that Satan had brought in, and annul him who had the might of death, to take the power of it out of his hand, and all His power tonight is available to you and to me if we are going to make a move.  I trust these meetings will help us all to move our tents; to come and live in the light of the purpose of God, where things are unchanging.  Mr Darby says,

         If clouds have dimmed my sight,

         When passed, eternal Lover,

         Towards me, as e’er, Thou’rt bright.

                    (Hymn 51).

There was Jacob,

         John had this because he became in Spirit on the Lord’s day.  Dear brethren, let us respect the possibilities of the Lord’s day.  We are apt to dilute it.  It does not end at the Supper; we sometimes have the idea we can have the Supper, and go and do what we like.  John says, “I became in the Spirit on the Lord’s day” (chap 1:10), and see what he received.  He might well have been overwhelmed by how badly he had been treated, and he was a prisoner, but he "became in the Spirit on the Lord’s day", the whole day, and he had these impressions: not just one.  And so, at the end, he hears, “I am the root and offspring of David, the bright and morning star.  And the Spirit and the bride say, Come”.  It shows how near the bride is to the Spirit; these are the overcomers of Revelation 2 and 3, there they are in the bride.  The bride is not something mystical or fanciful; it is formed of persons who have moved their tents, who, in the midst of whatever the confusion publicly, have found one who is the stability of their times, and they are overcoming.  Mr James Taylor suggests, if you care to look at it - and it is worth looking at, you will see in the bride’s garments, features of the overcomers of Revelation 2 and 3 (vol 47 p 464), "they shall walk with me in white", chap 3: 4.  What formation there is going on, and that is what it closes with “the Spirit and the bride say, Come”, in unison.  A creature vessel and a divine Person say the same word at the same time; how precious to have that experience.

         I want to read another verse.  Jude is a man who warns us of the apostasy.  In Jude, verse 20 he says, “But ye, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God”.  That was John  in Revelation, he was keeping himself in the love of God.  "And now abide faith, hope, love; these three things; and the greater of these is love", 1 Cor 13: 13.  Have love for the Man who has become the stability of our times!  And that is what Jude is speaking of here, he says, “keep yourselves in the love of God”, and in verse 24, “But to him that is able to keep you without stumbling”.  Maybe you thought that was impossible.  Is stumbling the nature of your life - blown about by every wind of doctrine?  Jude says, “But to him”.  But just listen to the doxology “and to set you with exultation blameless before his glory, to the only God our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, might, and authority, from before the whole age, and now, and to all the ages.  Amen.”  May we all say it, for His Name’s sake.


4th August 2010