Now I Know
“And He said, Lay not thy hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him, for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from Me.”
God is never too early nor a second too late. He will always be found on time and ready when we meet His conditions. He tested Abraham out to the very last minute. So far as Abraham was concerned, he really offered up his boy. His heart was set on obeying the Lord. The battle was fought and won before he raised that knife; so far as his heart was concerned, the battle was over. He was determined to obey, and did obey to the very letter. God saw that His “friend” would hold nothing, absolutely nothing, from Him, and seeing thus, He said, “Do not harm the lad, for now I know that thou fearest God.” The word there translated “fearest” in the Hebrew is “yare” (pronounced yaw-ray) and is also translated “reverent”. Such reverence had Abraham for God that he would obey His every command. God said, “Now I know,” i. e., I see and understand fully.
Friend, does God know that you reverence and love Him with all your heart, that you hold nothing back? You may reply, “Certainly, I believe God sees and knows all.” But we ask, “Could He say about you, Now I know thou lovest Me with all thy heart. Are your Isaacs all on the altar?” Just this day, while dealing with a sister who has been a seeker at the altar for several days, she said, “I can say yes to all but just one thing.” We replied, “That one thing, no matter how small or insignificant it may appear or really may be, is just large enough to withhold the smile of God from your soul.” She left the altar with a sad and sorrowful expression upon her countenance. Whatever that one thing in her case, it was an Isaac that was not placed upon the altar; consequently, there was no God there to whisper a sweet message of His love to her soul. Multitudes have been defeated right there.
God will not share the heart’s affections with another. He wants all. He must occupy the first place, and the soul that is to walk with Him must be emptied of all idols. So many have just one thing they cannot give up, cannot place upon the altar, and they go away defeated, while the Spirit of God, grieved, turns away. There can be no holding back, no matter how dear the object is, the soul must give God the first place in everything. It may be a loved one, or business, reputation, social position, some ornament forbidden by the Word, but no matter what, it must be laid upon the altar. Not simply saying you put it on the altar will suffice, but as God saw Isaac lying on Abraham’s altar, so He must see your Isaac upon the altar before He will say, “Now I know thou lovest Me.”
We seldom conduct a series of meetings in a community but that there are a number of people who come to us and wish to explain their condition, and their peculiar circumstances, and in the majority of cases such endeavors are but attempts to make some excuse for their not walking with God. Those who walk with God have nothing in particular to explain; and are not very anxious as to whether others understand them or not. They know that God is pleased and His smile and approval are worth everything to them. However, we listen to the many explanations that come, and then endeavor to point out the straight and narrow way, separate from sinners, distinct and aloof from the world, and a way that “the unclean shall not pass over.” And, sad to relate, but very few who come with their “ifs,” “ands,” “buts” and other excuses are willing to walk in the way when it is pointed out to them. They see that it would mean a loss of what their heart holds dear, and they turn away and leave Jesus to bear the cross alone. Of all the multitudes of place-seekers in this day and age, there are but a very few who are hunting the cross. They glibly sing, “In the cross of Christ I glory,” but, poor souls, they have but little idea, if any, of what the cross of Christ is. How often it is but one thing they hold back, but the soul that walks with God will place everything on the altar, and triumphantly march on up the road of obedience and duty in a way and manner to call the attention of the angels of Heaven. That soul hears the voice from the skies saying, “Now I know thou fearest Me, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from Me.”
Again, how many, many sing, “I am satisfied with Jesus here,” but we often wonder if Jesus is satisfied with them. When we look about us, and see how far their lives come from measuring up to the standard of the Word of God, we wonder how Jesus can be satisfied with them. He said, “Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit,” but they make little effort to bring to others a knowledge of His power to save from all sin, and seem to think there will be no calling them to account of how or what they have accomplished for Him. Speak to them and they will reply, “Oh, yes, I belong to church, and try to live right,” but so far as their actually bringing some soul to God, they never have. They are much like the fig-tree that was full of leaves and blossoms, but had no fruit. And because it was barren, it received the curse of the Son of God, and withered and died. Many, alas, very many, profess to be walking with God, but their lives are barren of any “fruit unto God.” How can Jesus be satisfied with them?
Many sing, “Here I give my all to Thee, friends and time and earthly store,” but how few there are who carry it out. They sleep in their own beds, sit about their own firesides, live in their own homes and enjoy the society of their families. They will sit for days and days under the faithful preaching of some God-honored servant of Christ, who has foregone the society of wife, children and home, and will shout and tell how much they have been blessed by his ministry, but when they are asked to contribute to the expenses of the meeting, they hunt around for a fifty-cent piece or perhaps a lone dollar, and think they have done their part, when the tired, worn-out servant of God hardly knows what it is to sleep at home or enjoy the society of his family. They give from five to ten cents per day for the Heaven-bought privilege, when they should have put in ten times the amount, and yet they sing, “I give my earthly store.” How can God be pleased with such a farce?
The Bible tells us that “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof.” He causes the seed to rot and decay and reproduce itself, and sends the rain to moisten the ground and the warm rays of the sun to heat it, and causes the grain and grass to grow. It all belongs to Him by the right of creation, and man has no right to it. Men have claimed it and they sell their claims to each other and think they own it. Did God but remove the power of reproduction He gives to it, what could man get out of the ground he tills. He put the children of Israel in the land of Canaan, but gave them to understand it belonged to Him, and told them they could have nine-tenths of all it produced, but the one-tenth they were to bring to Him and His work. So long as they obeyed, they flourished, but when they got to robbing Him, He allowed famine to come upon them. That one-tenth was His, and if they gave anything at all, it would be given out of their ninetenths. If the Church was run upon that plan, the worldly, God-dishonoring methods that are in vogue these days would quickly disappear. Then, there are those whom God has blessed, and they have been allowed to accumulate some of the wealth of this globe which all belongs to God, and when the call comes or the opportunity presents itself for them to show their gladness of heart and thankfulness for what He has done for them, they put up the pitiful cry of poverty, or some other untruthful excuse for not giving. They do not seem to have the faintest idea of what real consecration means.
In spite of the fact that in plain words the Bible forbids the wearing of gold for adornment, and costly array, yet, pandering to their pride, they continue to do it, using money that should be used to feed and clothe the destitute and carry on God’s work. Tell them the story of the suffering and needy, and how sympathetic they will be, but ask them for money to relieve it, and they have but a pittance to give.
In a meeting held in New York City in behalf of the waifs and strays upon the streets, a lady sat in the audience much moved to tears as their pitiable condition was explained. She had on a very costly dress; a valuable sealskin coat costing several hundred dollars was thrown about her shoulders; costly stones and pearls adorned her person. Some two thousand dollars hung upon that one poor dying worm. When the basket was passed to receive an offering to continue that work, she opened a beautiful pearl-studded pocket-book and hunting among its contents, took out and placed a twenty-five-cent piece on the basket. What a farce her sorrow was!
Sometime ago the meeting in a certain locality was swinging on with increasing power. The meeting was of a union character and the services, which were held in the courthouse, were largely attended by the members of the various churches of the town. There had been no marked outpouring of the Spirit in that community for years. But in this meeting hundreds had knelt at the altar and many had prayed through and received great blessing. As the campaign drew near the closing day, the good brother who had the meeting in charge and upon whose shoulders lay the responsibility of securing the finances, went quietly among those whom he knew to be well able to give, soliciting their aid. Going to a well-to-do farmer, he said:
“I would like to have ten dollars from you for the expenses of this meeting.”
“What? ten dollars from me? Why I cannot afford to give such a sum.”
“Yes you can. Isn’t your large farm paid for and clear of all encumbrances?”
“Isn’t it well stocked with cattle, etc.?”
“Why, then, are you not able to put the small sum of ten dollars into such a glorious, God-honored work as this?”
“Oh, I know, but I have my own work to support.”
“Your own work? What do you mean by your own work?”
“Why, my church and its demands. My own work takes all I can spare.”
“Your own work, indeed! Isn’t this your own work?”
“Oh, no, this is not my work.”
“Then will you please tell me whose work it is, if it is not yours. Your wife, who had been backslidden for years, has been reclaimed; your gay daughter was converted two nights ago, and there is your profligate son weeping at the altar now. If this is not your work and not worthy of your support, pray tell me whose work it is?”
“Oh, well, I’ll see what I can do.”
Later on he put ten cents into the basket for that meeting. But only a few months afterward they put him in the grave. How applicable would be the words of our Lord, “Thou fool; this night thy soul shall be required of thee; then whose shall these things be which thou hast provided?” — “So is he that layeth up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:15, 21)
So far as their time being devoted to the service of God, very few know by experience what that means. They have so much to see to, so many other things to look after, that they have but little or no time for God. When one does come along who has his eyes open to the real truth and the awful conditions that exist, and is really giving God all his time, and doing his best to stem the tide and wake people up and save whom he can, then they cry, “Oh, you must not work so hard; you must not kill yourself; you are doing wrong by overtaxing your strength,” and cold and useless themselves, they do their best to cool others down also, while all around them thousands are being dragged down by the monster Sin! Poor souls, they do not know what real consecration to God means.
We have heard that early in his ministry Moody said God showed him that the vast majority of this world was going over the falls, and giving him a skiff, told him to push out in the rapids and save whom he could. There are thousands of others who could do wonders for God and be a blessing to lost and sin-bound humanity, if they would but place their all upon the altar, but here and there they have some idol, some Isaac, that is more dear to them than the God who gives them life. God cannot say of them, “Now, I know thou lovest Me.”
One has but to open his eyes to see the blighted hopes, blackened lives, and blasted and ruined souls who are hurrying onward, rushing downward, without God, hopeless, Christless and helpless, and a large part of the Church is busy with bazaars, cantatas, suppers, banquets and entertainments, and the ministry seeking place and position, or off here and there lecturing, while the great gulf-stream of ruined, lost, half-damned and perishing humanity sweeps on toward the brink of eternal despair. We wonder how oh, how can Jesus be satisfied There seem to be so few, so very few who are willing to consecrate their all, i. e., put their Isaac on the altar.
Oh, if we could but get the organized Church of today to wake up and turn from the world and its charms and look once again to Calvary! Sometimes we have thought of that memorable night when Jesus met His disciples in that upper room, when He said to Thomas, “Reach hither thy finger and behold My hands; reach hither thy hand and thrust it into My side; and be not faithless, but believing.” Don’t be so slow, Thomas, but believe!
He led them out of the city to Bethany, but before He ascended He told them to go back to Jerusalem and wait for the promise of the Father. They might have said, “Why, Master, do you want us to go back there? They crucified you there, and they will surely kill us if we go back again.” Methinks we can hear Him say, “Yes, go back and tell the man who spat upon My face that I forgive him; go tell the man who placed the crown of thorns upon My brow that if he will give up his sins and be My faithful follower, I will place a crown of righteousness on his head; tell him who placed that purple robe on Me in mockery, that I will give him a robe of purity if he will follow Me; tell him who had the reed that, if he will but follow Me, I will place a scepter in his hands and make him a ruler of nations; tell him that drove the nails through My palms that I will not remember it against him if he will give up sin; tell him that gave Me the vinegar and gall that I will give him to drink of the water of life; tell him that thrust the spear into My side that there is a nearer way to My heart than that; tell them that, if they will but confess and forsake their sins, I will forgive them. Go, carry the news to all mankind. But tarry at Jerusalem until the promise comes, and then hurry on with the glad news. Neither wait nor linger; they are dying.”
Sometime ago, while riding on the train, we read the following:
A man, taking his ax, went to the woods, to cut down some of the timber. His bright-faced, little boy asked, “Papa, can I go and play by the lake?” “Yes,” replied the father, “but be careful and do not go out into the deep water.” The little fellow played about the shore, digging in the sand and gathering up shells. But soon the father heard him cry, “Hurry, papa, hurry.” The father ran, axe in hand, and saw the child floundering in the deep water, his little hands outstretched and a look of fright and horror on his little face. “Hurry, papa, hurry; the alligator has got me.”
The monster had silently watched the little fellow as he had waded about the shore, and creeping out had seized him. The father leaped into the water and getting near was just going to sink the ax in the head of the monster, when, with a swish of its huge tail, it made for the deeper water. “Hurry, papa, hurry,” cried the little fellow, and was drawn beneath the waters, and only a few bloody bubbles were left to tell the story. The father went for help, and after the monster had been destroyed, he carried home a few handfuls of crushed bones, all that was left of his boy.
Only a few months previous we had visited an alligator farm and had seen hundreds of the reptiles, from little things several inches in length to huge monsters large enough to carry off a man. It seemed we could see that little fellow with his outstretched hands and look of horror on his face, and hear his baby voice crying so piteously, “Hurry, papa, hurry,” and then we thought of the great monster that is abroad in the land today, dragging down old and young, great and small. We found ourselves trembling from head to foot when we had finished reading the article and thought of our own precious boys at home. And then up before our mind came other boys, and the awful monsters of drunkenness and vice that have them in their grip, and helplessly they are crying out to the Church of Jesus Christ, “Hurry, hurry,” but the major part of that which is called the Church, is busy with card parties and entertainments and off to the theater, and God alone knows where, while down into the seething vortex souls are being drawn and lost forever.
Twenty-five thousand smothered babies, five thousand suicides, ten thousand murderers, sixty thousand fallen girls, one hundred thousand paupers, three thousand murdered wives, forty thousand widowed mothers, one hundred thousand orphan children, one hundred thousand insane, one hundred thousand criminals, one hundred thousand drunkards, and one hundred thousand boys taking their places, are being swallowed by the monster Drink every year in this country, and from their horror-stricken faces, their quivering forms, their outstretched arms, can be heard the piteous wails and cries of despair, “Hurry! Help!” But so many preachers are off to the lodge taking another degree, or dissecting gnats, or reading the latest magazines, while the multitudes sink beneath the waves of despair.
Great God, help us! Oh, ye professing Church of Christ, arise and hurry! Don’t you see Him? There He stands. Watch Him point to the nail prints; see, He lifts the folds of His robe and points to that open, gaping wound! Hear Him cry, “Oh, ye are so slow, why do ye linger when a world is living, suffering, dying without God?” But the preachers write off their little sermonettes, and with studied and measured time and modulated voice, as calmly as though there was no one dying, perishing or going under, read off their little essays to a poor, frozen, starved, worldly crowd, who sit motionless and lifeless in the pen, while the poor, down trodden, helpless, hopeless masses, crying, “Help! Hurry!” are drawn beneath the tide. And the few men of God here and there, with hearts on fire and souls aflame, with burning zeal and with might and main, putting their every Isaac upon the altar, doing their best to stem the tide or grasp one here and there from the awful monster of sin, are looked upon as fanatics and fools.
But, blessed be God, over the walls of jasper, and out through the gates of pearl, many times hovering right over them — the angels from the skies watch those who, perfect in their loyalty, — perfect in their obedience, and perfect in their trust, clasp their hands in the bleeding palms of their Savior, and “walk before God,” and from His lips hear Him say, “Now I know thou lovest Me.”
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