Hymn 276, “Precious Thought”
We have come to the last meeting of our convention. It is good to be assured that in everything that is of God, it is different from what we as humans are. To us, many things end but to the Lord, there is no end. The Israelites counted days from the evening, when the sun set. Just now, they would say that Monday has started. Our older brother drew my attention to the very first time when time had started after God created light and darkness. He said it was the evening and the morning. Evening came and morning came, the first day. So for us, even though this is the end of convention, it is also the commencing, or the start to continue. When Jacob had the dream of the ladder, you remember what he said? A ladder is a long thing, many steps. You see the bottom step and you know it isn’t the top step. But he said, “This is the gate of Heaven.” Do you see the same thing? Although it started there at the bottom, it was the gate to Heaven. So as we commence, we can be assured that this is not the end, but it is in a way the beginning.
I like the way it is said when first we heard the gospel. We heard “Come unto me.” It wasn’t “Go!” it was “Come!” That means that this One goes before. It is the same at the very end of the Bible. We read those words, “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let him that heareth say Come. And let him that is athirst come.” Can you see? What the Lord says to us is not “go” but “come,” I am going before. We know it is said, “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” We know they cannot. If you don’t agree with somebody, you won’t walk with him. But we agree with God and He is leading. That is why we walk together.
We have just heard about the yoke. Jesus said, “Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me and ye shall find rest unto your soul, because My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” At school, we had to recite a poem and it was not in my language, so I cannot translate it. Every time we had to recite it, it brought sadness in my heart. It is about the oxen that plod on in the dust. Can you see in your mind? They are struggling in the dust. It says the yoke is pressing on their necks and although it says they were satisfied and submissive, it left my spirit not happy.
Jesus said, “My yoke is soft and My burden is light.” One of our workers that had been to many countries said that he noticed that the yokes are not the same in all the countries. They are different for the oxen so he questioned, “Why?” He said it is because the farmers in the different countries are the ones who decide what the yoke must be like. The farmer could not ask the ox, “Is it all right here, or does it fit all right there? Does it press there or hurt that side? Or how does it feel?” So the farmer decides and makes it like this or that. But Jesus said, “MY yoke.” He knows what it feels like as we walk this Way.
This is the yoke, MY yoke and it is easy and the burden is light and you will find rest for your soul. Those oxen of ours feel burdened by the yoke pressing them down, plodding in the dust. I felt they didn’t have that rest.
As the Israelites left Egypt, it was said of them, “They must have on their shoes and their loins must be girded, put their belts on. Also their staff in their hand.” Their shoes on, to show they were prepared to go. Some people, many of you, go barefoot and your feet do get very hard, you can go without shoes but still there are places that you feel, “No, No, I cannot go there, it is too hard on my feet,” but if we have shoes on, we are prepared to go anywhere and any way. Then girded, doesn’t it mean I am purposed. I will go. Not maybe I’ll go.
I like reading about Ruth. Naomi was going back to her people and she said to Ruth, “You go back to your people, and to your idols and gods.” But wonderful how Ruth was girded and purposed and she said, “Where you go I will go, your people shall be my people, where you stay I will stay, only death will part us.” Naomi had said what she did to them, wishing them well. May both of you find rest in the house of a new husband. I like what one translation says, “May you find security.” You know the women say if they don’t get married, they haven’t got the security of a name. We have got a name that has come from very far. As we read in the Bible, in the genealogy, the son of that one and the son of that one, and so it goes on and on like that. They also have a position. When that servant went to look for a wife for Isaac, he took the precious things of his master. They had wealth, security and then also an inheritance. There’s so much in a name. In a name is the inheritance. That is what Ruth saw, what lies ahead. That is why she was purposed to go. Although the word was, “Go back.” Can it be so with us? Some things will say to us go back, but in our spirit, we hear this word, “Come!” Come find security. So she went to meet her bridegroom, her redeemer, and in him, she found security. I do not have to explain much about that.
We have heard about it. Friends, can we follow in this way of security? We can always find the Bridegroom, our Redeemer, and as we go, we will receive this that God has promised. In the desert when they traveled on, I have often wondered who was carrying Joseph’s bones. He said to them long, long ago, “When you go, take my bones with you.” He was sold a slave into Egypt, we all know the story, but they took his bones. He didn’t want his bones to stay in Egypt and it happened, so that some day, somewhere, his bones got to the Promised Land. I like to say it like this, by faith Joseph, although he died in Egypt, his bones reached the Promised Land. Whilst many that were alive, because of not having faith , they died in the wilderness.
One of our sisters, her husband was killed in an accident on his way home from work. At a union meeting, I heard her speaking. She said, “On the day my husband was killed, I said, ‘I cannot face the future,’ but it is a year today since my husband died.'” Can you follow? The day when he died, she looked ahead and she said, “I cannot face the days coming,” but the days came and that day, she said more than a year now. So you see the future had become the past, and she said, “I have come to the conclusion there is no future.” She said the future is today! At the same time, there was a young man at the beginning of the year and he said, “I want to make this year my best year.” You see now we are going to leave soon and a year before we will come here again. Wouldn’t you want to make this also your best year? So we asked him, “How are you going to do it?” You know the answer? If I want to make a year my best year, I must make today my best day! The lady had said there is no future except today. So if that young man makes today his best and then makes every today his best 365 times, when he comes to the end? The best year! “MY yoke is easy.” Just for today. If the enemy tells you “Not now, pray tomorrow.” “Not now, read tomorrow.” You say, “Maybe I will.” What will you find?
There was a man who had a cafe. He put out a notice: FREE MEALS TOMORROW. Some people who saw it came the next day and they ate a meal. The man said, “That is so much.” They said, “No, you said, ‘Free meals tomorrow.'” He said, “Well, tomorrow is not today!” Whatever we would like to do, can you see how the burden will become light, just for today. If you want to read, if you don’t do it today, you are not doing it. To pray.. everything. Be kind, forgive, help, go to meeting and so on. There is no future. I will, NOW.. TODAY.
The Chinese people built a wall in their country to protect themselves from the enemy. It is wonderful to see pictures of this wall. Goes up the hills and down the valleys, around the rocks, and on and on and on. You know how long it is? 1300 miles. I know you cannot imagine it because we are not able to. It is 20 to 25′ wide on top and it is 20′ to 30′ high. They built it with stones that a man can handle. They did not have machines. Now to make you have a good idea of it… think of your home whether it is far or near. Now think of the distance from here to there, how far is it? Far? That wall is still a lot further. Now, all of you… in your mind think where your house stands. Now take up a stone you can handle and put it down near your house, okay? Now one is down. Now take another and do it again. Again, one at a time. In your imagination, you are going to build, stone by stone. Can you think now? Along the road you pass this town and that town until you get there. Is it possible? It is. That is how they built this long, long wall, 1300 miles long, and they finished it, in the same way. By doing everything a day at a time.. portion by portion. We can do it, too! It takes perseverance. Prepared to go? And in that way we can go ALL the way, a day at a time.
When the children of Israel left Egypt, every time when they got up to go, Moses said, Numbers 10:35, “Rise up, Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee.” When they stopped, he said, “Return, O Lord, unto the many thousands of Israel.” I like Psalm 68 that says the same words, “Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered; let them also that hate him flee before him. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away; as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God.” “Let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God; yea let them exceedingly rejoice.” The wicked perish and righteous rejoice, and they exalt before God and are jubilant and shout for joy. Thus it was when Israel traveled with God.
Every morning God went before. Jesus has said in the New Testament, “When I have trouble, I can ask My Father and He will give me more than 12 legions of angels.” We are not sure if a legion is 30 or 60 thousand but if we take a middle count, it will be something like 50,000 soldiers. Can you see? It was possible for Jesus to ask for 50,000 angels to come to His help. When they moved out, “May thine enemies be scattered before thee.” Friends, this is for us as we go! Purpose to follow. To stay close to the Lord and we have heard and we know that the enemies will be scattered before us. When do we rest? At night, when they came to camp. “The Lord return to thee.” I saw a picture of a mother hen with small chickens and then a dog came towards them, and she made one shout and her feathers all ruffled out and she stormed at this dog.. a big noise. The chickens, they came together and when the dog had run away she came back to them. The noise she made!! Then they were at rest. So our Lord will go before us and He says to us, “Come,” and we can go and we can do it all, a day at a time.
Remember! A day at a time and little by little. Today is the future. Jesus yoke is soft and His burden is light. In that way, we can go ALL the way. May I add something? Some were baptised this morning and many of us had been through this. Once one worker asked another one, “When must we baptize?” He replied, “It is easy to compare with nature. We always get a true answer.” He said , “Baptism is like a funeral and a burial as we read.” So he asked, “When do you bury a person?” When do we? When they are dead of course. We went to a baptism and while we were waiting outside the gate for them to dress, it came to me, in a certain way, it is not the same because we are waiting for them! But when we buried my father and my mother, we children came one by one by the gate. We waited for one another but we did not wait for Father, or for Mother. At home, we did not see them again. In the garden where Father worked, I did not see him there again. Can you see? When we are buried in baptism, they will not find us where they used to find us before. Will they find us still in the places where others come together? Where there is ancestor worship? Or other such places? Can you understand? That is not the way, because we are buried, we are as if we were dead!
Coming back to the very beginning, the day is measured from the evening so the evening of death is also the day of resurrection. Are you with me? No! When the sun sets now, it was evening and then morning, the first day. If death is the evening and the night, tomorrow, Monday, is the resurrection. Can you see that death is already resurrection? That is why as we were buried in baptism, dying, although we are living now, we are already in the resurrection and live in Christ Jesus because we were buried in His death and we came out of the water unto His resurrection, and in that way, we have this that the Lord has promised to us. May it be this for us. Friends, remember this is a practical way. We don’t just stand and preach at you. We also face every day as they come and I am glad that the Lord gives us like that, every day, a day at a time, so that we can go ALL the way.
Hymn 329, “Bind Me in Thy Yoke”