The Need Of God's Strength
Almost every day we learn of failures in the lives of people round about us. These failures lead to broken homes and no end of misery. I trust it will be profitable for us to think, for a few moments, of some of the greatest blessings which God has for us.
It is a peculiar thing, but contrary to ordinary human judgment, that Scriptures would seem to teach that man is most liable to fall, not at his weakest point, but rather at his strongest. We have all heard the statement that a chain is no stronger than its weakest link. We know this is true but in the realm of spiritual things it seems to be different.
Let us consider for a few minutes some Bible characters who failed, not at their weakest points, but at their strongest. One of the first that comes to mind is Moses, who was noted for his meekness. We recall the story of his leadership of the people of Israel. When those whom he was leading cried out for water, Moses prayed and the Lord directed him to smite the rock. Forth from the rock gushed a stream which quenched the thirst of those who believed they were about to die.
What a remarkable picture we have here foreshadowing the smiting of Christ, our Rock, on the cross of Calvary! There the rod of judgment fell upon Him, so that the waters of life might flow out freely to the perishing multitude. In Corinthians we read that they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them and that rock was Christ.
In this we are to understand that the benefits of Calvary follow us throughout our lives here below.
But what about the failure of Moses? It is seen when on a later occasion God told him to speak to the rock and he smote it the second time. Moses was anything but meek in his attitude on this occasion.
His failure in smiting the rock the second time instead of speaking to it was so serious that God kept him out of the promised land on account of it. He was permitted to view Canaan from the top of the hill, but was not allowed to enter the land. The seriousness of Moses’ act of temper was that he utterly spoiled a type of Christ, Who needed to be smitten but once, to atone for the sins of the world.
Abraham was a man of faith. This faith led to such perfect obedience to the will of God that he acquired the title “The friend of God.” The very mention of his name is suggestive of faith and faithfulness. We see how he failed at his strongest point when he went down into Egypt at a time of famine in his own country. Knowing the danger which confronted his beautiful wife, Sarah, he arranged to call her his sister instead of his wife. This surely was not an act of faith and it stands out as a testimony against Abraham. In other words, he failed, not at his weakest point, but at that which would be considered his strongest.
Elijah was a mighty prophet, known for his courage. He could command the priests of Baal to be put to death and execute it in a fearless manner. When faced by a woman a little later, he suddenly became a coward and fled from the wicked queen, Jezebel. What a strange sight to see the fearless man of God fleeing from a woman!
Solomon was noted for his wisdom, but with what folly did he conduct himself and prove by his own testimony in the book of Ecclesiastes that the result of it all was vanity and vexation of spirit. We come over into the New Testament where we meet the Apostle Peter who was ready to face the entire Roman army if necessary to defend his Lord. Not long afterward, we hear him denying he had ever known Christ, even with an oath. No one would question Peter’s courage, but it was at the point of courage that he failed, when accosted by a mere damsel.
Paul, whose condemnation of going back under the law and being subject to ordinances of the legal dispensation, failed when he had his head shaven at Jerusalem and underwent a vow. It would seem the mighty apostle was beguiled into doing that which he condemned in other places in Scripture.
Time does not permit to enumerate others who could be added to this list, but sufficient has been said to illustrate the meaning of the Scripture which tells us, “Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed, lest he fall.”
Paul says, “When I am weak, then am I strong.” The truth is that most of us have too much strength and it is not our strength that God wants, for it is written that God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the mighty—and base things of the world and things which are despised hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are, and why? That no flesh should glory in His presence. How then can a Christian read these words and believe them and then go out in his or her own strength to serve the Lord? Such service will come to naught and will not be blessed of God.
I would like to quote from a sermon of Mr. Moody’s on “The Power of Weak Things”: “One drop of God’s strength is worth more than all the world. There was that giant of whom we are told, that for forty days he came out every morning and evening . Down into that valley came the giant of Gath and he terrified all the army of Saul. The whole army was trembling. They were so afraid. When Joshua was weak in himself and strong in the Lord, then they did not fear the giants. But you see, Saul and his army had got their eyes off from God. When we get our eyes off of God, how mighty the giant looks! There came a young stripling up from the country who heard of this giant and he wanted to go right out at once to meet him. The last man we would have chosen, but God’s ways are not our ways. God will have the glory. If it had been some great giant, then we would have given the giant all the glory. As it is, the youth requires no army of Saul. He just takes a few small, smooth, round stones from the brook and puts them in his sling. He says to the giant, ‘You have your sword but I have come in the name of my God.’ Yes, he leaned upon the strength of God. Now, just look at that! We are to place the little stone in the sling, God directs it and the work is done. The giant falls! David was the last one we would have chosen—but he was chosen of God.”
Perhaps many of us are like the little newsboy who was asked, “My boy, do you pray every day?” “Yes, indeed,” was the answer. “And may I ask,” continued the inquirer, “when do you pray in the day?” “Oh,” said the boy, “I pray every night before going to bed.” “And why do you pray at night?” “Well, it is so dark, and I am afraid of the dark, and feel my need of God’s protection and help.” The questioner continued, “I suppose you pray in the morning as well?” “On no! I am not a bit afraid then. I can take care of myself in the daytime.”
I am inclined to believe our little friend was in greater danger during the day depending on himself, than he was at night when he committed his way unto Another more mighty and able to keep.
In the Psalms we read of an interesting little animal called the coney, “a feeble folk, but they make their homes in the rock.” In keeping with this, the psalmist says, “Lead me to the rock which is higher than I.” The storms of life are more than we can face but we can hide in that blest Rock of Ages.
I trust that everyone reading this message today may have found in Christ a hiding place and a shelter in the time of storm.
What a prayer we can make of that beautiful hymn of Toplady’s: Rock of Ages
“Rock of ages, cleft for me
Let me hide myself in Thee.
Let the water and the blood
From thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Save me from its guilt and power.
Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands.
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow
All for sin could not atone
Thou must save and thou alone.”