Hopeless To Fight Against God
“The stars in their courses fought against Sisera.” – Judges 5:20
On the back of the Book from which my text is taken I find these words — Holy Bible. Within its pages I read: “Holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” It tells of God who is of purer eyes than to behold evil and cannot look upon iniquity. Before Him Holy angels veil their faces behind their wings, and cry: “Holy, holy, holy, art Thou, Lord God Almighty.” He is a jealous God, visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children, and declaring: “If ye walk contrary to Me, I will walk contrary to you.” “Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” When the spotless Son of God took our nature upon Himself and opened His mouth to teach His disciples, He proclaimed in that wonderful sermon, the Magna Charta of the Kingdom of God, this eternal truth, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
From Genesis to Revelation, this Book teaches and shows that God is against the unrepentant. If one is engaged in willful wrong-doing, all the power of the infinite God is against him — while the reverse is equally true; the soul that desires to go with God has all Heaven on his side.
“If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another” — but if we forsake Him, He also will forsake us. “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, for He will have mercy, and unto our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” But, if a man “separateth himself from Me, and setteth up idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to a prophet to inquire of Me, I the Lord will answer him by myself, and I will set my face against that man, and I will make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of my people, and he shall know that I am the Lord.”
Our text teaches that there is no escape for the man whom the justice of God pursues. He may take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the earth; he may make his bed in Hell, but there God will find him out; he may go down to Joppa, and take ship for Tarshish, and he so assured he is getting away that he may go to sleep in the hold, but the messengers of God will overtake him; he may bury his ill-gotten possessions in the ground beneath his tent, but God will uncover them. He may oppress the people of God, but when they cry for deliverance, to Him who delivered their fathers and brought them out with a high hand, He will make the very “stars in their courses” to fight against their oppressors.
Sisera was captain of the hosts of Jabin, king of Canaan, who for forty years mightily oppressed Israel. And the children of Israel cried unto the Lord and He answered them, and said: “Go and draw toward Mt. Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali, and of the children of Zebulon; and I will draw unto thee, to the river Kishon, Sisera the captain of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitudes, and I will deliver him into thine hand. And THE LORD discomfited Sisera, and all his chariots, and all his host.” THE LORD DID IT — defeated, overthrew, caused to perish, these His enemies, so much so that Deborah, in her song of triumph, sings: “They fought from heaven; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera; the river of Kishon swept them away, that ancient river, the river Kishon.”
This was not the first time that God fought from Heaven for His people. When Gibeon was to be rescued and Joshua defeated the kings of the Amorites, “The Lord cast down great stones from Heaven upon them unto Azekoh, and they died; they were more which died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword.” And when the daylight was departing and darkness would intervene to enable the Amorites to escape, “the sun stood still upon Gibeon, and the moon in the valley of Ajalon, and there was no day like that before it, or after it, that the Lord hearkened unto the voice of a man, for THE LORD fought for Israel.”
The Word of God, in which we have God’s thought, God’s mind, God’s will, teaches us that God and law and nature and providence are against sin, and against the unrepentant sinner.
Read the Word carefully, study its history. Turn to the sixth chapter of Genesis: “God saw the wickedness of man that it was great in the earth and that every imagination of the thoughts of the heart was only evil continually, and it repented the Lord that He had made man upon the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart, and the Lord said: I will destroy man whom I have created, from the face of the earth, for it repenteth me that I have made him.” In Proverbs we read: “The way of the wicked is an abomination unto the Lord.” To Israel God said: “Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, so that He will not hear.”
God is against sin everywhere and in every person. “Whosoever hath sinned against Me, him will I blot out of My book.” “His power and His wrath are against ALL THEM that forsake Him.” “ALL that do unrighteously are an abomination to God.” Israel’s king sinned against God, and, king though he was, God punished him severely, for He “hates ALL works and workers of iniquity.” “These six things doth God hate, yea seven are an abomination unto the Lord; a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth evil imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” “Because you have forsaken the Lord, He also hath forsaken you.” O beloved, you are wondering why God left you? Why there is no power? no unction? God never left a soul yet that wanted Him to stay. Powerless lives, fruitless lives, are a certain result of life in which the grace of God is frustrated, the commands of God violated, and light rejected.
God’s LAW is against the sinner. Sin is any transgression of the law of God. Law was violated in Eden, and man was driven forth to die. The antediluvian world gave itself up to eating and drinking, to marrying and giving in marriage. They were created to glorify God, and they worshipped the creature; they minded the flesh and brought the flood upon the world of the ungodly. The cry of Sodom and Gomorrah was great, and their sin was very great, and for this transgression of the law of God, the cities of the plains were destroyed. Uzzah put forth his hand to steady the ark and the Lord slew him, to teach Israel that the law of God could not be violated. Nadab and Abihu swung censers containing strange fire before the Lord which He commanded them not, and there went out fire from before the Lord and devoured them and they died before the Lord. The wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against ALL ungodliness and ALL unrighteousness of men.
The law of God never pardons. When man fell the law demanded the enforcement of the penalty, “the soul that sinneth it shall die.” Law is unbending and inexorable. It demands satisfaction commensurate with the criminality of the guilt. There never was a law which could have given life, else righteousness would have been by the law. Law cannot pardon — if it did, it would destroy itself. Jesus satisfies Law — and through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ man is saved, and through grace alone.
Nature is against sin. Violation of the laws of Nature is sin, and the violator pays the penalty. God is the great Lawgiver — the Author of all law — no matter whether written in the Word or in Nature; given in Eden, on Sinai, or in man’s constitution. “The wicked shall not live out half their days” is God’s law, proven by history and experience. The drunkard violates the law of God, robs himself of strength, and hurries himself to an early grave. The tobacco user becomes a victim to an appetite as remorseless as the grave, the chains of which grace alone can break. The fact that some old person died in the county-house a hundred years old who had used liquor and tobacco all his life is the exception that proves the rule. Who knows but he might have lived twenty years longer if he had minded God?
Men, young men, aye, and women, too, who have given themselves over to lust, thrown the reins on the neck of passion, are crowding the wards of the insane asylums today. Hard-headed business men, who are governed by business rules, not by sentiment, guided by statistics of the past with their lessons, have compiled tables, and a list of questions for the man who seeks life insurance, and they ask the applicant, “Have you used, or do you now use tobacco? Do you use intoxicating liquors? Have you had any of the following diseases?” Why do they ask them? Because they know that every man addicted to drink, tobacco, and fleshly gratifications, shortens his life, lessens his power of resistance against disease, and is a very poor risk. They know that when men violate the laws of Nature, although God may forgive them, Nature never will.
Apply to the Government of the United States for a position under the Civil Service Rules, and you are asked the same questions as to drinking Seek employment as engineer or fireman with the great trunk lines of today, and learn that the use of liquor and tobacco disqualifies you, in the opinion of these officials, for any such position. They want men of nerve, who can stand the tests that come to the railroad man, and they know that liquor and tobacco wreck and ruin the nervous system. I want to say right here that while law will not forgive, grace will not only pardon, but bring salvation to every sinner, that will deliver him from the appetite and take it completely away. I know a number of such instances. Let me give you one.
I knew an old soldier who had an awful appetite for liquor. He was well aware of its debasing power, and in his sober moments would weep and pray and bemoan his condition. He was posted by his wife, with his own consent, and saloon-keepers were forbidden to sell him liquors. When they would not, the drug stores kept on letting him have the stuff, and every time he received his pension he would go on a spree. I have gone to his home, prayed with him while he recovered from his debauch, heard his avowals never to go on another spree, and knew that, while he was sincere, he immediately broke every vow, finding his own strength far from sufficient for his need. One day I received a phone from his brother: “J____ is on an awful spree, and very sick; please go down and see him.” I went, and took with me my wife and the sister of the drinking man, one of the salt of the earth, who had never ceased to pray for him. Arriving at the home, I was ushered into the room where he lay very sick. Hitherto I had been very lenient and full of sympathy for the poor fellow; but this time God led me otherwise. I said: “How are you, Brother B____?” And he replied: “I am a very sick man, and I am going to die.” “If you do,” I said, “you will go to Hell.” He looked at me in surprise, and said: “I have never been in jail.” I replied: “You ought to have been. Your wife has been faithful and true and loving. Praying with you and for you; doing all a wife could do to help you. You have been worse than a brute in the way you have treated her.” After talking in this strain, I said: “Shall I pray for you?” He very ungraciously consented. I prayed with him and for him, and left the house. Some weeks afterward I met him in the city. He accosted me and referred to my visit to him when sick. He said: “You have had your last chance at me. When you left my house that day I told my wife if I died you were not to preach my funeral sermon. Whenever I go to church, you always preach at me. I’m through.” I looked him in the face and said: “God bless you, brother; I love you,” and left him. In a couple of months he came to church one night. We were in revival services, and he came to the altar. God blessedly saved him, and the first thing he did was to ask forgiveness for the way he talked to me. He lived for God — a sober life — the appetite for liquor taken away. He stands on the street corners and testifies that the Lord forgave his sins and took away his appetite for drink. A bar-tender hearing him talk, said: “That beats the devil,” and Brother B____ said: “Yes, it does every time.” He was working with his employer, in whose Company he formerly took many a drink. Upon being pressed by him to go to the saloon and “have something,” he refused and gave the reason why — “the Lord has saved me,” and, “I don’t want to drink.” Being refused again and again, his employer grew angry, and finally said: “B____, I’ll knock the devil out of you.” Instantly came the rejoinder: “You can’t do it; the Lord has three months the start of you.” Grace has saved him. “The Lion of Judah has broken every chain.” The drink appetite has gone forever.
Providence is against the sinner. The Providence of God. You do not believe it? Ask God to take care of you in your sin while you are violating His law. You do not dare to. You know you have no claim to the care of God while rejecting Him, and engaging in sin.
Some time ago a member of a leading church left home for a distant city in company with his wife. The trains were excursion trains, the fare reduced, and many were going. The last train that could be taken left on Sunday. The brother was warned by his pastor not to take it; that he ought not to travel on the Lord’s day; but for the sake of the reduced fare he went. When they were within a few miles of their destination the rails spread, the train was wrecked, and his wife was so badly injured she died in a few days. A regard for the law of God would have kept them off that Sunday train and have saved a life. Napoleon Bonaparte, that he might have an heir, divorced Josephine, his lawful wife, married the Austrian, had an heir, who died in his youth, and the grandson of Josephine came to the throne. The Providence of God was against the ungodly ambition of the Emperor.
“The mills of the gods grind slowly,
But they grind exceeding small,
Tho’ with patience stands He waiting,
With exactness grinds He all.”
There is no escape for the unrepentant sinner, when God gets after him. Yonder is a city devoted to destruction; everything in it was accursed, but the silver and gold that was to come into the Lord’s treasury. Following God’s plan, Israel soon captures it. Yonder I see a man looking at a Babylonish garment. That should be destroyed, for it is accursed. His eyes fall upon a wedge of gold. That is the Lord’s, and he should not covet what belongs to God. Stealthily he puts them under his garb, lies to his tent, and, unseen by any mortal eye, he buries them in the ground, stamps it well down with his feet, so that none could detect it, and congratulates himself he is safe, and the gold and the garment are his. But listen! Possession does not make you the owner of stolen goods. Israel goes to battle in a few days against Ai, a city so small they do not think it worth while to send up the hosts of Israel and make all the people labor; but three thousand men only go up, and they are defeated! Joshua lies on his face crying unto God, and hears this rebuke from Israel’s God: “Get up from off thy face. Why criest thou unto Me? Israel hath sinned, for they have taken of the accursed thing, and also have stolen from Me, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff. Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, because they were accursed, neither will I be with you any more except ye destroy the accursed thing from among you. Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourself against tomorrow; for thus saith the Lord God of Israel, There’s an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel; thou canst not stand before thine enemies until ye take the accursed thing from among you. In the morning therefore ye shall be brought according to your tribes, and it shall be that the tribe the Lord shall take shall come according to the families thereof, and the family which the Lord shall take shall come by households, and the household which the Lord shall take shall come man by man.
Man by man! God is after THE MAN that took the accursed thing, and for him there is no escape. I see Israel early on the morrow called to march before Jehovah. The tribe of Gad marches by; the guilty man is not there. Naphtali marches by; they are all free. Dan, with its hosts of men of war, and thriving Ephraim, and populous Manasseh, all pass in review, and the guilty man is not there. But look! Away back there in yonder tribe I see a man with face like a whited wall; his knees smite each other, he can hardly keep step; conscience makes a coward of him. The head of Judah’s tribe comes in view, and as they march Joshua, divinely inspired, cries, “Halt!” And the thousands of Judah halt; the guilty man is in that tribe. “Forward, march,” and onward Judah marches until the family of the Zarhites comes and now every other family in all Israel is free. Then out from this family the Lord takes the household of Zabdi, and every other household in that family is free. And man by man the Lord takes them until Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, is taken, and God says: “Joshua, there is your man,” and from his lips comes the confession, “I have indeed sinned against the Lord God. I took a Babylonish garment, and shekels of silver and shekels of gold, and hid them in my tent.” O my friend, there is no escape for the unrepentant, guilty sinner.
“Hell,” cried the wretched Altamont, “welcome, if thou canst hide me from the face of God.” But death and Hell will give. up their inmates when God commands, and they will be ushered to the Judgment scene. Christ is the only hiding-place for repentant sinners. There is no other name given under Heaven among men whereby we can be saved.
“Could my tears forever flow,
Could my zeal no languor know,
These for sin could not atone.
Thou must save and Thou alone.
In my hand no price I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling.”