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My presence shall go with thee and I will give thee rest
This exceeding great and precious promise belongs to the Christian as wel1 as to Moses. What is he authorized to expect from it?
My presence shall go with thee to guide thee, and I will give thee rest from perplexity. How miserable would a man be in traveling, if his journey were important, and yet he was ignorant of the way, and every moment liable to err. In this case nothing would relieve him so much as a guide who was willing to go with him, and able to show him the course he should always take. And his satisfaction would be in proportion to the confidence he had in the disposition and capacity of his leader. Nothing can equal the importance of the journey we are taking; life or death, salvation or perdition depends upon the issue, “the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” If left to himself, he will err in every step, and in the greatness of his folly forever go astray. The Christian feels this, and therefore prays, ‘Lead me in thy truth, and guide me; for thou art the God of my salvation, on thee do I wait all the day.” And does God disregard his cry? “I am the Lord thy God, which teacheth thee to profit; which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.” This extends to doctrine, to experience, to all his temporal concerns. He is not to look for miracles, but he is under the conduct of God, and he has given no promise but shall be fulfilled. When the Jews were marching to Canaan, they had a pathless desert to go through, but they were free from all perplexity, because they had a fiery cloudy pillar to regulate all their movements. We have the same. For “this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.”
My presence shall go with thee to guard thee, and I will give thee rest from apprehension. A Christian has not only a pilgrimage, but a warfare to accomplish. No sooner has he set his face Zionward than he has reason to exclaim “Many there be which rise up against me; many there be that say of my soul, there is no help for him in God.” And what wonder if, while without are fightings, within are fears? And how is he to prevail over them? He knows that, if left to himself, he must perish long before he reaches that better country. But he is not alone. There is one at his right hand who says, “Abide with me; for he that seeketh thy life, seeketh my life but with me thou shalt be in safeguard.” At the sound of this his mind is relieved, his confidence rises, and he sings, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”
My presence shall go with thee to provide for thee, and I will give thee rest from anxiety. The manna was not to lie hoarded, but gathered daily; and we are to feel our constant dependence upon God for the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. And is this trying? Could we wish it to be otherwise?
“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” “My grace is sufficient for thee.” What more can we desire? When we have trusted in God for the soul, it might be imagined that it would be easy to trust in him for the body. But temporal things are sensible and near and pressing, and some cases would be enough to awaken all their forebodings; but he has said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” “Fear the Lord, ye his saints for there is no want to them that fear him. The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; but they that seek the Lord shall want no good thing.” Jehovah-jireh — the Lord will provide.
My presence shall go with thee to comfort thee, and I will give thee rest from sorrow. However you may be stripped, you shall not be destitute of consolation. Though the fig-tree shall not blossom, nor fruit be in the vine, you shall rejoice in the Lord, and joy in the God of your salvation. His presence is a substitute for any creature; it can more than repair every loss. Some leave us from want of principle, some from infirmity, rather than depravity. Death abridges our circles. Who can look back over a few years, and not exclaim, “Lover and friend hast thou put far from me, and mine acquaintance into darkness?” Yet if the lamps be extinguished, the sun continues. If, the streams fail, we have the fountain. Are the consolations of God small with thee? In the multitude of thy thoughts within thee, do not his comforts delight thy soul?
But O, when I shall gather up my feet into the bed, and turn my face to the wall; then, all creatures withdrawn, and flesh and heart failing, O what can support me in the prospect, and above all, in the experience of that event? Be of good courage. He who is with thee in the wilderness will be with thee at the swellings of Jordan, and open a way through the flood, and give thee a dry-shod passage over into the land flowing with milk and honey. He who has been with thee in life will be still more with thee in death. And therefore you may boldly say with one before you, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”
From this hour let me never forget this blessed promise, “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.” Let me believe it with a faith unfeigned. Let me ascertain my title to it. Let me plead it before the throne of grace. Let me apply it in my perplexities, my apprehensions, my anxieties, my sorrows. Let me bind it about my neck, and write it upon the table of my heart, that when I go it may Lead me, when I sleep it may keep me, and when I awake it may talk with me. Amen.
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