The Charmed Life
“This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” —1 John 5:4
A great struggle for national life is on. In belligerent days, if we are not careful, our tendency will be to fight our way, and forget that we have one who has already won the victory. It is ours but to believe that He has already conquered all our foes. How often we forget this, and struggle.
Beloved, ours is a charmed life. We have a shepherd, we have one who cares, we have one who begs us to cast all our cares upon Him. As we turn the pages of His wonderful word, it seems to me that this is the one great outstanding truth, namely, “His arm hath gotten us the victory.” It is ours but to trust. It is this wonderful truth that should strike in on the soul that is hungry for a life of victory.
Run back, if you will, over God’s dealing with the Jews, and see how again and again He has shown that it is not by might nor by power, but by His Spirit. Take your shoes from off your feet, and let us stand together at the burning bush. Here you have it—the fire all round about, trouble on every hand, yet the bush is not consumed.
This is a practical picture of the way in which God deals with His own. It is a contradiction to the rule, but those of us who have had our eyes opened, perfectly understand the contradiction, and we join in the chorus with Paul, as he says, “As deceivers and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” This is the glorious contradiction of the walk with our shepherd. There are always the problems, but there is always God who can solve them. There is always the fiery dart, but there is always Himself to stand between us and the enemy.
The marvelous way in which He upheld His chosen people under the hand of Moses is an inspiration to our faith.
Indeed, as men have often said, the story of the Jews reads like a fairy tale. It is a fairy tale in one sense, for things happened that are never produced by man, but by the wonders of His mighty hand. It cannot in truth be called a fairy tale, for the rough monuments undestroyed by time, history, and the record of the Book—all prove that God, by the hand of Moses, took across the burning sands six hundred thousand men besides women and children. The plagues came upon Egypt and God led His people forth.
God’s hand is still upon the Jew, and we cannot look at him as he is today, scattered among all the nations, without knowing that still he is being preserved in a wonderful way. The Jew today is like a cork in water; he may be smitten, but he bobs up serenely. It seems that when they are cut to pieces, they become only a larger army. They have no ruler, they have no government, and yet they are bound together. They have been pushed into the slums, but their sons have come out to run the bank, to take the best that civilization has to offer, and to offer back in return the most valiant and splendid service. They have been despised, but they still live; they have been cast out, but they are still in. They are like Jonah in the belly of the whale—out of God’s will, yet still preserved in the belly of the nations, soon to be cast up according to God’s program
Follow the trail of the Jews and you find no record of great artillery, of great swords, of great power. There are no Gettysburgs, there are no Waterloos, there are no Bunker Hills, no Battles of the Marne, no Verduns; but a great God who gives the victory.
Moses takes an unorganized multitude of men, women and children, and moves them into a new land, with no other people to stand behind them. He moved a million people. Look around you today and see the great stir, and power, and organization, and machinery that it takes to move a million soldiers, and you can get something of an idea of the task of Moses under God. No man, thank God, could do it.
You have but to read the history, and you are bound to put God in. It was God who landed them safely across the Red Sea.
We are very conscious these days that the critic and the explainer is close at hand trying to do away with the story of the Red Sea, the quail and the manna. In a book published in 1915, the argument is set forth that the Red Sea was divided by a wind that blew at certain times and beat back the waves.
Then, here is another explanation. The author says also that when the Jewish people came out of Egypt they had never seen snow, and that the snow came down and they ate it. This man is supposed to have good sense, and uses this as an explanation for manna, and gets somebody to publish his book.
Who ever heard of a snowball that could satisfy any hungry stomach? And yet the record is this, that they ate and were satisfied. The fellow that tries to explain things in that way proves that he is a fool, so we will just keep still and let him talk on for about ten or fifteen minutes, and he will prove that he is a fool by proving that he is one that “hath said in his heart there is no God.”
It is good enough to try to solve some of the mysteries, and to cultivate the brains in research, but, oh, how foolish to try to explain the working of the hand of God. “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”
In God’s dealing with the Jews we see Him take Moses onto Mount Sinai and talk to him. The critics try to explain this account by simply natural thunder and lightning, and try to prove that the people were not used to it and were frightened; but, beloved, they have forgotten that Moses brought the thunder and lightning down with him, and the lightning so flashed in his countenance that they made him put a veil over his face!
Yet, it is a charmed life, this walking with God as Moses walked with God. There is a life hid with Christ in God, and filled with the Holy Ghost, that brings the thunder and the lightning away from the presence of God when we get to the presence of the people; and when men come back from prayer and from the battle of faith, they have the signs of the lightning and thunder upon them.
In the time when God picked the young Levite for a priest, no one had to step up and ask him if he had been ordained, if he had entered the ministry, if he were a priest—everybody knew it, there was no need of the question; for from the moment that the holy anointing oil touched him, you smelled it long before you came into conversational distance, and you knew before you opened your mouth, that you were talking to a priest.
Oh, for the holy anointing oil of the presence of the Holy Ghost, this power of His personality, to be upon us! He comes Himself to be the life, and this is indeed a charmed life.
Did you ever run over the little things that God used as weapons with the Jews? A rod, the jawbone of an ass, some pitchers and torches, some smooth stones in a boy’s sling, a silent faith that sealed the lions’ mouths.
Mr. Woolley has a picture of Daniel in the lions’ den, that to me is a great inspiration. The lions are all behind Daniel, and he stands at one side of the picture with his hands behind him, looking up through the grating as if he were in a basement. Just the way his hands are clasped behind him gives my faith a touch of glory. It seems as if I could almost hear Daniel say as he looks up through the basement dungeon skylight, “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” Daniel was not alone, there was another with him.
What matter what God uses, just so the hand of God is on it? It can become anything in His hands, for God alone can use “the things that are not to bring to nought the things that are.”
The most dramatic and thrilling story I have ever read is the story of Esther in the Bible. Of course the critics went at this story too, and said that Esther never lived, and that it was just a story, Mordecai never lived, and he was just a character picked out by the author of the book. But bless your heart, they have dug up the very sarcophagus containing Mordecai’s body, and on the outside it says, “This is Mordecai the Jew,” and goes on quoting the very words found in the book of Esther; and the same is true of Esther.
Sit down and read again this charming story that never mentions God once, and yet God is behind every scene, bringing it to pass. Here is the story of a charmed life. Here is a story that proves that faith is the victory that overcometh the world.
Mordecai attaches himself to God. It is God and Mordecai in prayer. Mordecai becomes a captive, yea, even more than a captive. He is loaded with the care of a little girl, the child of his uncle. He must not only look out for himself in these hours of captivity, but he must keep his eye on this damsel.
What do you see in this statement to encourage these two to go on from the low depths of captivity? Step by step, because of answered prayer and the interceding of God, the lives of these two are worked out before us. We can see the shuttle go in and out and watch our God handle it, bringing to naught the things that are, and putting the humble into the place of power.
Watch the hand of God guide Mordecai as he puts the girl in a safe place. The king’s household is broken up. The most dramatic and terrific thing happens—the queen defies the king, only to be banished from his presence. And now Mordecai lays hold on prayer, God’s hand moves the checkerboard, and Esther stands before the king. Another move and Esther has charmed the heart of the king and herself is the new queen. In her robes, her finery, in her crown she sits in the palace, and poor Mordecai down at the gate.
He bows only to God. Haman comes by, mighty Haman, but Mordecai will not bow. Methinks I can hear him repeat softly, “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” He works no political pull to get in with the upper men like Haman, he bows alone to God and waits for God’s lifting.
Hate starts its awful work. Haman despises Mordecai. He continues his hate; but he builds the scaffold only for his own hanging.
The checkerboard moves again. The truth has come out. Mordecai’s real work for the king has come before the king in the record, and he calls for Mordecai.
Haman comes into the king’s presence and glistens and glows as the king asks him what the king shall do to delight the man that he wishes to honor. Haman, thinking he is preparing a program for himself, outlines the parade, the procession, the honored man mounted upon the king’s animal, wearing a crown, acclaimed before the people.
The checkerboard moves again, and God’s hand reaches out, and Mordecai jumps Haman on his way to the king row, and Haman is taken from the board and hanged on the scaffold intended for Mordecai. Up, up, up these two children of faith go on.
The cruel edict has gone forth. Many, many are affected. All the Jews are to be put to death; but because of prayer and the working of the hand of God, Esther gains the victory from the king and the Jews are spared.
It is not a fairy story, beloved, it is a story of the beautiful working of the hand of our God. The Scripture record is that “Mordecai the Jew was next unto King Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren.” But the history giving this picture of power is only the whisper again of the text, “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”
The man who lives close to God in these days when men are putting their faith in men, must needs suffer persecution. Oh, how dare we put our faith in men?
Must I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize
And sailed through bloody seas?
Since I must fight if I would win,
Increase my courage, Lord.
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy word.
Yes, indeed, and well supported. None who ever bore pain, or shed blood or stopped the mouths of lions, or were sawn asunder, were ever forsaken—they were supported by this glorious faith. And God is calling for this sort of faith among those who name His name today. He is looking for those who will be true to the faith once for all delivered to the fathers.
We are not called upon today to visit the burning bush; it is not ours to call the plagues on Egypt; it is not ours to walk through the Red Sea, nor stand on Sinai; nor go into the den with the lions; but is ours to stand in the day of apostasy, in the day of substitution, in the day of letting down, in the day of coldness, in the day of criticism of the Word of God, in the day when men are following men, and standing up with holy zeal, and burning love, refuse, like Mordecai, to bow the knee; and bow alone to Him who hath loved us and given Himself for us.
It will look as if Haman, the anti-Christ, is going to land us on the scaffold (and truly we can hear the sound of the hammer and the clinching of the nails on the scaffold, these days, to hang those of the old faith), but, Hallelujah, we have one who is going to hang Haman on his own scaffold, and we shall walk through the clouds with our Lord, while those who have worshipped and bowed down to the deity of man, go through the awful tribulation.
Remember, it is faith that overcomes the world, yes, this present evil world. Let us praise Him for overcoming faith.
And some day caught up through the sky,
When clouds are backward whirled;
We’ll shout and sing “Praise God, ‘twas faith
That overcame the world.”