The man who walks before God with a perfect heart is not only perfect in his loyalty, perfect in his obedience, and perfect in his trust, but there is also nothing in him that flinches from the path of known duty. All that would flinch or waver or draw back from obeying God or doing His will has been removed and, like the needle to the pole, unwaveringly and unfalteringly, he marches on.
Sometime ago, while returning across the Atlantic, we encountered a terrific storm. For several days the hurricane raged, but our staunch vessel never wavered nor swung from her course; but with stern pointed right into the teeth of the gale, on she plowed her way across the raging, boundless, trackless waste, and came with a direct course into New York harbor in safety. Thus it is with the man who walks before God. Storms, trials and dangers may beset him, but straight on his course he holds his way. He does not see everything about him, for his eyes are on the King, and he knows the King is watching and directing his course. Storms will come, trials will assail him, and he will be tested to the utmost. A vessel that cannot safely outride the storm is cast aside. Soldiers that are afraid of the battle are no good, and the man whose consecration can be broken will be of little use to God. Every man who has accomplished great things for God has had to be tested before God could do much with him. If he has a weak spot, he will be no stronger at other places. A chain may have ninety-nine solid, unbreakable links, but if the one-hundredth link is defective, the entire chain will be no stronger than it is at that defective link.
Before God could make Joseph ruler of Egypt, He tested him out behind prison walls. Before He could send David against a giant, He tested his skill and bravery with the lion and the bear. Before He could entrust a million people under the command of Moses, He tested him before an angry king. Wesley had his testing days and could he have been broken or turned aside from the proclamation that men are “sanctified. wholly subsequent to their regeneration,” he never would have been heard of outside of old Oxford. Had it been possible to have kept William Booth tied down and to have quenched the fire, that burned in his very bones for lost and perishing souls, or to have made him obedient to the wishes of those above him, who in their jealousy of his success were determined to crush him, instead of being known and loved around the globe, he would not have been known outside of England. God put them through the test and they stood, and are ranked among those whose loyalty, obedience and trust in God could not be broken. God will test His soldiers and if there is a spot where they will flinch, or if their consecration can be broken, He will break it. And if they can be broken, they will not be of much service to Him.
Again, God not only will test a man, but He will test him at his weakest spot. He knows man’s weakness and knows where he will break if he can be broken, and right at the spot or on that particular line He will test him.
At the opening of the twenty-second chapter of Genesis, we read that God tested (Hebrew nacah — R. V) Abraham, and truly it was a test. God had promised him that in his seed should all the world be blest, and had given him Isaac when both himself and Sarah were old and long past the period of child-bearing. In his Epistle to the, Hebrews, in speaking of Abraham, Paul wrote, “Therefore sprang there even of one and him as, good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude and as the sand which is by the seashore innumerable.” Isaac was the child of promise and through him alone could the promise of his seed becoming a great multitude, come to pass. How Abraham’s heart was bound up in Isaac, but in this chapter the record reads, “And it came to pass, after these things that God did test Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham, and he said, Behold, here I am.” Behold, see me, I am here ready for any service Thou hast for me. Oh, that every professor of salvation could be as prompt! What a time God does have to get the attention of some who make great professions of loving Him. But not so with the man who walks before Him with a perfect heart. His answer is ever, “Here I am at Thy service.” “And He said, Take thy son, thine only son Isaac whom thou lovest.” What a way God has of putting His finger on the sore spot. “Whom thou lovest.” God knew Abraham’s heart; knew that he was wrapped up in that boy; all his hopes were cherished in him; of all things he could give up, all could gladly go but Isaac, whom he so dearly loved. Yes, that is just the way God always goes to the idol, the heart’s treasure.
That was just where the rich young ruler failed with Jesus. He had great possessions; he had not thought of them when he wanted eternal life, but Jesus knew the one thing he lacked, and placed His finger on the sore spot, and the young man broke right where the defective link was, which was a love for his possessions. And there are many like him today.
But see the man who walks before God with a perfect heart. Watch him as he listens to the command, “Get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” Did he falter and hesitate and say, “I did not think it would come to this! This is altogether out of the question; I can never do the like of that”? No, he did not, for the record says, “And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac, his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.” He was perfect in his loyalty, and watch him as he goes about performing what God has commanded him to do — perfect in his obedience.
For three days they traveled. Plenty of time to think the matter over; plenty of time for thoughtful consideration, and plenty of time to back out and turn back, if he wanted to so do.
Friend, God will not hurry you; He will give you not only time to think over your consecration, but He will also give you plenty of time to back out. How Abraham’s mind would be dwelling continually on what he was intending to do. How he would look at his boy, trudging along by his side; how his bright young face, all aglow with innocence and pleasure, would look up earnestly to his father as he would bring some newly plucked flower or ask some question as they journeyed along the way. How the father’s mind would go back over the years when he was childless, and as those years had gone speeding by, the probabilities of his having a child of his own flesh and blood grew less until the promise came. Even then it seemed too good to be true. How he would remember the first time he looked into his son’s face and clasped the tiny form to his breast, and how he had watched over him as year by year he had more and more crept in and around his heart strings, and now! was it all to be ended, and in such a manner?
Friend, place yourself in Abraham’s position and think, if it be possible, what would be the state of your feelings? All day long they traveled and at night around their camp-fire, the protection of the Almighty God would be asked for, ere they would stretch their bodies upon the ground for slumber. Would Abraham’s mind be free for slumber? Would he not, ever and anon, look over to where his precious, darling, boy lay so peacefully slumbering, and think what the morrow would bring forth? We cannot think so. Our Bible says, “Abraham believed God,” and the man who walks before God with a perfect heart has no fear of the final outcome of anything God requires him to do. All he wants to know is God’s will, and, he is ready to perform it. Abraham was perfect in, his loyalty, perfect in his obedience, and now see him perfect in his trust.
“Then on, the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.” How significant are those last two words, “afar off”. And what a test he was undergoing. He saw the place before he reached it and was given the opportunity of turning back.
God does not always, allow things that will test and try us to come suddenly upon us. Neither does He wait until we reach it before He shows us what He would have us do. Many times we see and know what our duty is, and We see many things embraced in our consecration and what they will lead to, long before we arrive at the spot or hour — when they must be put into practice. Like Abraham, we see the place afar off, just as if God was giving us another chance to draw back. If there is anything in us that will flinch, He will find it.
“And Abraham said unto his young men, “Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship.” There comes a time to every soul who will walk before God when it must take its consecration and go alone. No one else can accompany it in that hour; no other eyes are permitted to look upon the scene; and no other hands may help with its consecration; it must walk out alone.
In His great work of doing the will of the Father, Jesus was alone. His disciples might be near to Him or accompany Him so far, but that last journey through Pilate’s hall and up Calvary’s rugged steep to the cross He must go alone, and to the soul that will “walk before God” there came the time when well-wishers” and sympathizing friends must stop,” while that soul with its Isaac goes the remainder of the journey without them. Those young, men would never have understood the scene, that was so soon to be enacted upon yonder distant hill-top. They would have thought Abraham crazy, and possibly would have interfered. They would not, could not, have understood.
“Abide ye here, and the lad and I will go yonder and worship.” However, the soul loves company and sympathy, there comes the hour when that is denied. If it depends on the companionship and sympathy of friends, it is not wholly depending on God. God must and will be “all in all” to that soul that He takes to His bosom as His friend. The young men and the ass must be left behind.
Again, note the perfect confidence in which Abraham speaks, “Abide ye here and I and the lad will go yonder and worship and come again to you.” Ah, Abraham, why do you thus deceive those young men? Do you not intend to offer up Isaac as a burnt offering on yonder hill-top? Why, then, do you speak as if the lad would return with you?
Friends, the Book, says: Abraham believed God. If God could give him the child when he was so old that he was as good as one dead, he believed that “God was able to raise him up even from the dead.” He was perfect in his trust. Job cried, “Yea though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” And Abraham believed that his boy would return with him; hence his words to the young men, “I and the lad will go yonder and worship and come again to you.”
“And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand and a knife, and they went both of them together. And Isaac spoke unto Abraham his father and said, My father, and he said, Here am I, my son.” And he said, Behold the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”
Friend, suppose you were in Abraham’s place, and that was your boy. Don’t you think it would have pulled on your heart-strings? Is it not true that God has asked you for things of less value than that lad was to Abraham’s heart, and yet you have held back and refused? Have you anything that is not at the disposal of God’s will — business, reputation, time, wealth or loved ones? Is your all at His command — as completely as Abraham held his only son whom he so loved? Is your consecration complete? Are you walking before God with a perfect heart, perfect in your loyalty, perfect in your obedience, and perfect in your trust?
“And Abraham said, My son, God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering.” Do you notice the manner in which he placed those words? He did not say, God will Himself provide a burnt offering; but “God will provide Himself a lamb.” Was it prophecy? Did not God provide Himself a Lamb; His own Lamb which taketh away the sin of the world?
“And they came to the place which God had told him of.” Not a waver nor falter, but as straight as a sunbeam Abraham went about his obedience. “And Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar upon the wood.” What a commotion the angels must have made in Heaven as they looked down upon that scene. which was being enacted that day on Mt. Moriah! How they must have thronged over the walls of that heavenly city as they saw that old patriarch driving as straight on his course as a bird through the air. How they must have watched him as they heard God give him the command. Could they have questioned his obedience? How they would gather to watch him as he rose early and started on his journey; and as day after day passed and the “Friend of God” held steadily on his way, never faltering nor complaining, but with perfect obedience proceeded to the place which God had told him of. How their interest and attention would be riveted on him! Look, Abraham is surely building an altar. Stone after stone is put in its place and there, see! he is laying on the wood, but, O ye heavens, look upon that scene! Have your immortal eyes ever beheld the like? That father has bound his son and laid him upon the altar and the wood!
Heaven’s gaze had never been attracted by such a sight. Mortal man had never obeyed like that: “Adam, pure and holy, had disobeyed. And although the Lord Himself had gone down to speak with Cain, he would not hearken. True, when sons had been born to Seth, men had begun calling on the name of the Lord; and for three hundred years “Enoch walked with God.” Noah also had been “perfect in his generations,” but no test like Abraham’s had ever been put upon man before. ‘No,’ Heaven had never witnessed such a scene. But God had said to Abraham, “I am the Almighty God; walk before Me, and be thou perfect, and I will multiply thee exceedingly.” As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. And I will bless her and give thee a son al so of her. Then Abraham fell upon his face and laughed. And God said, Sarah thy wife. shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac, and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with; his seed after him.”
Yes, God had promised all the above, and now was testing him to see if he would obey, to see if Abraham thought more of the gift of a son than he did of Him who gave the son; to see if, under all circumstances, he would hold true. No such test had ever been placed upon mortal man. All Heaven was interested in that test, for through and from Abraham was to come Him who should redeem fallen man back to God; through his seed all nations were to be blessed. Can we wonder that the angels themselves would be interested in that test?
“And Abraham stretched forth his hand and took the knife to slay his son.” See him, as he rolls back the fringe of the little tunic from the boy’s breast and feels for the heart with one hand while with the other the knife is raised to strike. As it poises above his head an instant, out from the heavens above came the word “Abraham!” and he replied, “Here am I.” Yes, right in the line of obedience and, duty. No, hesitation, no stopping to ask the whys and wherefores, but implicitly and immediately, obeying, doing exactly what God had commanded.
The test was complete, his consecration was perfect and could not be broken. Isaac was bound and on the altar, and the knife raised. Come, friend, it is time to stop and search your heart and ascertain how you stand at this very hour. Are you walking before God with a perfect heart? Are you perfect in your loyalty, perfect in your obedience and perfect in your trust? Is your consecration to God complete? Are your Isaacs all on the altar? Is your all completely and entirely at the disposal of the will of God? Are you living for God’s honor and glory? Are you walking before Him perfectly? Are you running your business for Him? Is your reputation entirely in His hands? Can He have that son for the foreign field, or that daughter for the slums? Can He have every dollar you possess for His cause? Are you ready to go anywhere, and be anything at any cost, at any loss, no matter how heavy the cross?
Oh, how men and women, who are dead to everything but God, are needed to carry the story of a Savior’s dying love to the ends of the earth, to India’s sands, to Africa’s forests, to the island of the sea, to the slums of our cities, to the country all about us, to that neighbor next door, to those unsaved inmates of the homes all about us; to carry the story of the Blood, from the kitchen to the parlor and from the cellar to the garret of the home in which you live. Can God have your son or daughter to send? Can He send you? Can He have your money to send someone else? In short, are you walking before God perfectly? Is your consecration complete? Are you afraid for God to test you? If you are, then you are not walking before God perfectly.