Showing the state of our nation in the light of God’s Holy Word and informing Christians about the possible loss of their religious liberties from current and proposed developments within the UK and European Union.
LOOKING TO THE LORD
By Edward Carr
“But our eyes are upon Thee” (2 Chronicles 20:12)
In respect to our spiritual state, in the midst of conflict, perplexity and fear, a great deal depends upon which way we are looking. Some are much afflicted with an inveterate propensity to look downwards to the path. It appears very dark, rough, thorny and crooked. There is no comfort there! Some of us are very apt to look within and what do we see? Nothing but sin, folly, weakness and misery. There is no comfort there! Then, in times of perplexity and trouble, some are very prone to look around to creatures; and the result again is failure in finding help and a wounded spirit. There is no comfort there! Indeed, dear reader, we have to learn by such experiences very much as Israel did. Not until we have, in our measure, learned the lesson can we come to any real establishment in the things and ways of God, as faith steadfastly looks to Him and humbly tells the Lord, “Our eyes are upon Thee.” The language is simple, striking and seasonable. It is in the present tense. Now, Israel came into this experience of looking to the Lord by sanctified trouble.
We will try to describe, first, Israel’s perplexity; second, the upward look.
1. Israel’s perplexity. Was there not a cause? When any special trouble comes, the very first thing to work in the conscience is the enquiry – Have I procured this unto myself? Spiritual men are persuaded that “the Lord for nothing would not chide.” There was a cause for Israel’s perplexity; and it was deep-seated and a considerable way back. The Lord chastised Israel for her sin and folly in looking to an arm of flesh for help. Jehoshaphat had “joined affinity with Ahab.” At first God seemed to take no notice; for we read in the 19th chapter that “Jehoshaphat returned to his house in peace.” All seemed well! But the day of reckoning came. As men sow they have to reap. At last a message from God Himself was conveyed by Jehu: “Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? Therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord.” We must here mark the distinction between God’s wrath against His children’s sin and God’s wrath against their persons. His anger against their sins is the cause of all chastening administered by their Father to His children out of love to them. The hand of the Lord was against Israel for their folly and sin. In that hand there was an instrument and, as usual in our experience, it was a very unexpected instrument.
After the peace – a false peace – “there came a great company against Israel.” The calamity arose very suddenly and the Lord was using this “great company” as a scourge to correct His people for having looked away from Him to the arm of flesh. Brought to her senses at length, Israel, looking up to her God, committed the judgment of her case, her enemies and her circumstances, entirely into His hands: “O God, wilt Thou not judge them?! A most important lesson this! – for are we not far too ready to rely upon our own judgment of our enemies, our case and our circumstances? Now, it was not the outward trial, the enemies approaching, which was the greatest cause of her perplexity. Her internal state was the worst part of her trouble. It is expressed very plainly: “We have no might, neither know we what to do.” Utter weakness, joined to complete ignorance! Ah, yes! – the “great company” comes against the weak, who do not know what to do. Circumstances, foes, trials and changes in our temporal concerns, families and churches often cause very great perplexity; for “we have no might, neither know we what to do.” Remember, dear reader, it is good thus to be emptied and stripped of our strength and wisdom; and this will teach us, out of sheer necessity, to look to the Lord, and we have to say to Him: “our eyes are upon Thee,” which brings us to:
2. The upward look. The singular description of the upward look contained in the words at the commencement of this paper are significant of many things. Even Jonah in the belly of the great fish looked in the right direction – “towards God’s holy temple.” Israel’s eyes were upon God; which shows they had learned where their help must come from. To know this is the secret of all true prayer. Looking upwards, we do not regard with the same dismay and fear the distresses we are passing through, or the destruction which otherwise seems close at hand. Prayer is
”The upward glancing of an eye,
When none but God is near.”
True prayer is the lifting up the eyes to the hills, from whence cometh our help; our help cometh from the Lord. A gracious experience is recorded in Psalm 123:2: “Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress, so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until that He have mercy upon us.” And He will. The oath and promise of our God are sure. He will have mercy upon all whose eyes are upon Him, watching for the help that may be delayed, but cannot be denied. Wait on, dear reader, look up! “Although the vision tarry,” the Lord will appear – all shall be well (Hab. 2:3).
There is another point which is comforting to those tried and exercised in their minds because they feel, though professing to be disciples of Jesus, that they follow Him so imperfectly and are so little like Him. The writer has often been ready to give up all hope on this ground. Still, our eyes are upon Him; and, in thus looking to God, we have fellowship with Jesus, because He often “lifted up His eyes” to Heaven. In this matter we are truly following our great Example. Then we remember that the holiness of His upward look covers the unholiness of ours; for all is mixed with sin in us. If our eyes are upon the Lord, they will be upon His Word for instruction, consolation and everything. But how little we seem to gain! We see the vast treasures, but how little we get! This very experience helps to make those who truly fear the Lord more diligent in searching the Scriptures.
Further, as His servants, are not our eyes upon His hand? Many of our readers have been watching the Lord’s hand for a long time, and not in vain. No, not in vain! Only as our eyes are upon His hand for guidance and help can we be right.
Our eyes are upon the Lord’s hand for protection. “We have no might, neither know we what to do.” Who can preserve us from harm but our God? We must look to Him for provision also and the supply of all our needs.
Again, if rightly taught, our eyes are upon God’s people. We have been long looking upon God’s dear people, with the result that we feel exactly as we did when first our eyes were directed towards them, thus:
“With them numbered may I be,
Now and to eternity.”
Well, dear reader, if your eyes are upon God’s people with this desire in your heart, it is a real token for good. By this “we know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.” Indeed our eyes, in this case, are upon the body of Christ, for they are all members of His mystical body.
To return to the narrative. Israel’s eyes were upon the Lord to make a way for them out of the incredible, unexpected and impossible difficulties by which they were surrounded. At their “wits’ end” they looked to the Lord. A friend was talking to the writer one day and made this remark: “The truth is, I don’t know what to do, and I don’t know what not to do.” Here is a case for Jesus. Happy are those who can “tell all their hard cases to Jesus the Lord.” He knows what we should not do, as well as what we should do. Such will surely find His kind hand rightly directing them. Further, “our eyes are upon Thee,” desiring to know more of Thee, of Thy grace, power and love. We shall not look in vain to Him. “Seek the Lord and His strength,” and “ye shall find” full deliverance from all foes.