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Saturday, November 22, 2014


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The Life Line


In the days of the great sailing ships when long voyages were much more hazardous than they now are, the crews had to work on deck in the worst weather imaginable. Indeed it was often when the gale was at its height and the seas were washing over the deck that some adjustment of sails or gear was necessary. At such times even the most agile and experienced sailor could be taken off balance by a sudden lurch of the vessel, and washed overboard by the running sea. There was little hope for him then unless a fellow-member of the crew could cast him a line right away. If that could be done -- accurately and speedily -- the drowning man had hope of being recovered.

There is a very strong parallel between the drowning man and the whole world of men in God's eyes. Adam and Eve were swept overboard by their own folly and all their offspring, including you and me, are like men in a wild sea without hope of being recovered. There is no fellow-member of the crew to throw us a line for all of us are in the sea. We can never hope to swim to land or to stay afloat: sooner or later we plunge into the depths never to surface again.

Such is the picture as God saw it. It is described by the prophet Isaiah like this:

"And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor." Isaiah 59:16.

And the Psalmist describes the hopelessness of our plight in these words:

"They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him." Psalm 49:6-7.

There was no one who could help us. No one, that is, except the Lord God. But would he be willing to do it? Had not he been disbelieved? Was it not God who had been spurned?

Had not He the right to be offended at the behaviour of His creatures? Could He not justly leave them to suffer the consequences of their sins? Truly He could: but He did not.

We need to marvel at the God of heaven. He is altogether wonderful. In Him all the power of the universe is centered, yet He condescends to man. Listen:

"When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?" Psalm 8:3-4.

When there was no one to help us God was merciful. He who had been offended showed kindness and grace. God shined when everything had gone dark. How he did this is the story of the Bible and it leads to the unbelievable love shown to us in Jesus Christ. God said: "I'll help you and the condition I make is that you will believe me." You must have faith. The lifeline was thrown out and we need to grasp it with trust and thankfulness.

The manner in which God showed his mercy is something for us to follow. It is the story of redemption and hope. It is God in his perfection working his will despite the weakness of human nature. This is one of the marvels of God's wisdom; anyone can do a perfect job with perfect tools and perfect knowledge. But God has wrought His work with such poor vessels as you and I. Indeed he has made our helplessness the basis of His plan.

Let us take a look at the principles upon which God has worked and apply them to ourselves. Remember, we are not simply spectators watching other people in distress; you and I are in the same desperate need, we are dying and only God can help us.

Faith was the basis of God's work. Because Adam and Eve had been unfaithful, the only way back was to be by believing God. God would give His Word and ask man to believe it. That seems simple enough, doesn't it? Of course. But most men still prefer to go their own way as though God had never spoken, as though He did not exist. You and I are not to be like that. We are ready to listen to God and we are able to believe Him. Let us see what He has to say and discover whether or not it is reasonable.

The first thing God has to say is that we and the earth belong to Him. That should be obvious. God is asking us to behave as though we believed it to be true. Listen to God as He speaks about the earth:

"I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded." Isaiah 45:12.

"The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof; the world and they that dwell therein." Psalm 24:1.

What could be more reasonable to believe? Surely, if God made the earth, then it does belong to Him and he can do with it as he wishes.

Think of it in another way. God is King in the universe. The stars and planets obey His will and follow the courses chosen for them by God. Light moves according to the law established by the King. The earth, so small a planet among the millions of heavenly bodies, moves around the sun on her annual circuit in response to the guiding control of the laws of God.

On the earth, nature, as we call it, follows the instincts and rules of life established by the wisdom of God. Man has discovered some of these wonders. Some of them cause him to marvel -- the migration of the birds on their yearly journeys across oceans and continents, the voyages of the salmon as they return from the seas to the river of their birth in order to lay their eggs, the untold beauty of flower and field, forest and sea -- all these move according to the pattern of God. God is King and all these things obey him without knowing that they do so.

"Fire and hail; snow, and vapors; stormy wind fulfilling his word: mountains and all hills; fruitful trees and all cedars: beasts and cattle; creeping things and flying fowl . . . " Psalm 148:8-10.

This is part of God's kingdom. The Lord is king and all creation gives him glory. All except man: man who was given the free choice, chose to forget the king and the kingdom, and to rebel. What will the King do? He has decreed that His will shall be done throughout the earth by every living thing.

He will accomplish his ordained purpose even though in the beginning man was disobedient. Hear now the words of the King as He speaks about this plan He has made:

"But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord." Numbers 14:21.

"I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear." Isaiah 45:23.

"And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one." Zechariah 14:9.

This is the lifeline. Out of the chaos of man's rebellion God is working. He has a plan. He has determined that the earth is to be filled with His glory; everything doing God's will. We can be sure that nothing will prevent the fulfillment of the great purpose of God. The kingdom of God will be complete -- God will be King and all creation will be obedient to Him. But how will this be? Supposing men do not believe this word of God? Supposing men and women -- and most of them are like this -- simply go on living for themselves and utterly disregard God or remember him only occasionally? What then? How can God's purpose be fulfilled if men will not cooperate? Will He force them to it? If so, why did he give Adam and Eve the choice in the first place? These are important questions and need answers.

Very briefly -- we shall learn more about it as we go on -- God has given himself time. Out of the millions who live upon the earth at any one time there are some who will believe God. These are men for the kingdom. God is making a selection from among men -- or rather men are choosing for themselves (depending on how you look at it). Anyone who hears about the kingdom of God can have part in it when God establishes it finally upon earth. The condition is: Believe me and live like men for the kingdom. More about that next time. If you would like to read about the kingdom, read Psalm 72.


Questions on Letter 6 (answers)

1 . Where must we look for help?

2. What is the condition that God requires for His help?

3. Who is really King over the whole earth?

4. What is God's purpose with the earth according to His word?

5. Where do you think God will eventually establish his kingdom?