Christ Our Victory
The Victory Of Faith
The Bible says that "the just shall live by faith". The righteousness of God is "revealed from faith to faith". (Romans 1:7). Nothing can better illustrate the working of faith than some of the examples that are recorded for our learning, "that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope." (Romans 15:4). We will take, first, a notable event recorded in the twentieth chapter of 2 Chronicles.
"It came to pass after this also, that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshapat, saying, There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea on this side Syria; and, behold, they be in Hazazon-tamar, which is Engedi." (Verses 1,2).
This great host caused the king and the people to fear; but they took the wise course of gathering together, "to ask help of the Lord: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord." (Verses 3, 4). Then follows the prayer of Jehoshapat, as leader of the congregation; and it is worth special study, since it was a prayer of faith, and contained within itself the beginning of victory:-
"And Jehoshapat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, and said, O Lord God of our fathers, art not Thou God in heaven? and rulest not Thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in Thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand Thee?" (Verses 5, 6).
That was an excellent beginning of a prayer. It starts with a recognition of God in heaven. So the model prayer begins, "Our Father who art in heaven." What does this signify? That God, as God in heaven, is Creator. It carries with it the recognition of His power over all the kingdoms of the world and of the powers of darkness; the fact that He is in heaven, the Creator, shows that in His hand there is power and might, so that none is able to withstand Him. Why, the man who begins his prayer in the hour of need, with such a recognition of God's power, has victory already on his side. For notice, Jehoshapat not only declared his faith in God's wondrous power, but he claimed God's strength as his own, saying, "Art not Thou our God?" He fulfilled the Scripture requirement, "He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him."( ? ). Then in Verse 12, he concludes, "O our God, wilt Thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither we what to do: but our eyes are upon Thee." The position of Jehoshapat and his people was in keeping with the apostolic injunction, "Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith." Jesus, who is the "Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending" is also the One to whom all power in heaven and in earth is given. (Revelations 1:8; Matthew 28:18).
As a result of this prayer, the prophet of the Lord proclaimed in the power of the Holy Spirit, "...Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou King Jehoshapat, Thus saith the Lord unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's." (Verse 15).
"And they rose early in the morning, and went forth in the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshapat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe His prophets, so shall ye prosper. And when he had consulted the people, he appointed singers to the Lord, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the Lord; for His mercy endureth forever." (Verses 20, 21).
What was the result of going out to battle this way?
"And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, which were come against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, utterly to slay and to destroy one another. And when Judah came toward the watch tower in the wilderness, they looked upon the multitude, and, behold, there were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none escaped." (Verses 22-24).
This event was an illustration of the victory of faith. When the enemy, who had been confident in their superior numbers, heard the Israelites coming out that morning, singing and shouting, what must they have concluded? Nothing else but that the Israelites received reinforcements, and were so strengthened that it would be useless to try to oppose them. So a panic seized them, and each one looked upon his neighbour as an enemy.
But the point which should be especially noticed is that it was when Israel began to sing and to praise that the Lord set ambushments against the enemy. What does that signify? It signifies that their faith was real. The promise of God was considered as good as the actual accomplishment. Thus they proved the truth of the words, "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." (1 John 5:4).
Let us now apply this illustration in a case of conflict against sin. Here comes a strong temptation to do a thing known to be wrong. We have often proved to our sorrow the strength of the temptation, because it has
vanquished us, so that we know that we have no might against it. But now our eyes are upon the Lord, who has told us to come with boldness to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16). So we begin to pray for help. And we pray to the God that is revealed to us in the Bible as the Creator of heaven and earth. We begin, not with a mournful statement of our weakness, but with a joyful acknowledgement of God's mighty power. That being settled, we can venture to state our difficulty and our weakness. If we state our weakness first, and our discouraging situation, we our placing ourselves before God. In that case, Satan will magnify the difficulty and throw his darkness around us so that we can see nothing else but our weakness; and so, although our cries and pleading may be fervent and agonising, they will be in vain because they will lack the essential element of believing that God is, and that He is all that He has revealed Himself to be. But when we start with a recognition of God's power, then we can safely state our weakness by the side of His power, and the contrast tends to beget courage.
Then, as we pray, the promise of God comes to our mind, brought there by the Holy Spirit. It may be that we can think of no special promise that exactly fits the case; but we can remember that "this is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Timothy 1:15); and that He "gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father" (Galations 1:4); and we may know that this carried with it every promise, for "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32).
Then we remember that God can speak of those things that are not as though they were. That is, if God gives a promise, it is as good as fulfilled already. And so, knowing that our deliverance from evil is according to the will of God (Galatians 1:4), we count the victory as already ours, and begin to thank God for His "exceeding great and precious promises." As our faith grasps these promises and makes them real, we cannot help praising God for His wonderful love; and, while we are doing this, our minds are wholly taken from the evil, and the victory is ours. The Lord sets ambushments against the enemy. Our ascription of praise shows to Satan that we have obtained reinforcements; and, as he has tested the power of the help that is granted to us, he knows that he can do nothing on that occasion, and so he leaves us. This illustrates the force of the apostle's injunction:-
"Be careful for nothing [that is, do not worry about anything]; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." (Philippians 4:6).
"I Counsel Thee To Buy Of Me Gold Tried In The Fire"
"And thou shalt make boards for the tabernacle of shittim wood standing up...And thou shalt overlay the boards with gold." (Exodus 26:15, 29). The walls inside the sanctuary consisted of upright boards heavily plated with gold. Concerning the earthly furnishings, we see that the alter of incense and the table of shewbread were both covered in gold. (Exodus 37:26, 11). The light within the sanctuary that was emitted from the candlestick was made of one piece of solid gold beaten into shape. (Exodus 37:17). In the most holy place, the ark of the covenant was covered with gold. The two cherubim of gold were also "beaten out of one piece" as was the mercy seat. (Exodus 37:6-9). Why was gold used ?
In several verses in the Bible, it is apparent that gold was also compared to God's character and His Law. When addressing the Laodicean church, the True and Faithful Witness, Jesus Christ, requires us that we buy of Him "gold tried in the fire" (Revelations 3:18; 1:5). Speaking of God, Job explains that "when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold". David tells us that "The law of the Lord is perfect" and that it is to be desired more than fine gold, "Therefore", he says, "I love thy commandments above gold: yea, above fine gold". Through Isaiah, God promises that he will "make man more precious than fine gold". Again, we are assured "That the trial of your faith, being more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ." (Job 23:10; Psalms 19:7, 10; 119:127; Isaiah 13:12 and 1 Peter 1:7. See also 1 Peter 4:12, 13). The gold that Christ offers is His own character.
The gold that Jesus would have us to buy of Him is gold tried in the fire; it is the gold of faith and love, that has no defiling substance in it. What good is the Law of God unless we understand that it reveals the character of God? What good would be the sacrifice of Jesus' blood if our character is not changed and brought back to its original status? The duplication of Christ's golden character is the Christian's highest goal. (Philippians 3:14). The character of our God is the standard of the universe. Anyone who contemplates the sanctuary could not help but be overwhelmed by all the reminders within the sanctuary furnishings that point to the character of God, thus presenting the need to be like Christ.