By J.G. Bellet
Scripture contemplates hostile associations of men and of nations. Isaiah 7, 8, was the era of one, and the prophecy of another. Joel 3 tells of "multitudes, multitudes," gathered together in the day of Jerusalem's final sorrow. Psalm 83 anticipates a confederacy against the Israel of God; and "Gog" is the witness of a host of nations leagued in infidel defiance of the Lord.
But Scripture also contemplates civil or worldly associations--and it is our business to watch their spirit, their purpose, and their working, awful indeed as they are in forming the character and history of the world, and in urging it on its way to meet the judgment of God.
It was confederacy of this sort which was among the descendants of Noah. The one speech and the one language of the children of men in that day led them to judge that they were strong, and that by a little skill and effort they might wax still stronger, even to independency of God. The material under their hand in the plain of Shinar, promised very fair. They were all of one language, and were journeying in one direction. They were invited by favourable circumstances (providences, as they might say), and they would make a common effort, and try the industrial resources of nature. Things looked well for progress. With a little skill and diligence of their own, the fruitful plain would yield them brick and mortar, and they might accomplish much. And why should they not use the resources of nature, and exercise their own capabilities? Why should they not try what "the raw material," by man's "art and manufacture," would lead to, and do for them?
This was the language of the children of men in Genesis 11. Whether God would have it thus or not, they never thought of waiting to consider. He was not before them. They did their own pleasure. They built a city and a tower, that both name and security, glory and strength might be theirs.
Thus was it in these early days. in other and very distant days, in the days of the Saviour, it was the same--with this aggravating circumstance--that confederacies then formed themselves of strange, discordant elements, because of the working of the natural enmity of the heart to God--let that heart be disciplined or trained as it may be, whether in a Jewish or Gentile school. In that enmity, the Jew and the Gentile are found together; and so are the Pharisee and the Sadducee--the men of different politics and of different sects. The world combined these diverse materials against an unworldly Jesus. This was the secret of their confederacy. The Pharisee and the Sadducee were men of different thoughts altogether, considered simply in themselves; but the world can be their common object in resistance of Christ. This is seen in Matthew 16:1-5: "Show us a sign from heaven," they come together and say to Him. That is, they challenge the Lord to accredit Himself in some way that. the world could appreciate, or that, otherwise, they would reject Him by common consent.
This is to be laid to heart. The world has power to combine very different elements when an unworldly Christ stands out as a common enemy. Herod and Pilate were made friends together. There may be the secular and the ecclesiastical, even the infidel and the superstitious; but let an unworldly Christ appear, and He will be challenged as the object of common enmity. A heavenly stranger sojourning on earth for a time, is resented as a trespasser by both; and however else they may differ, they can confederate and act together against Him. God, such as man's heart or man's religion gives him, man will accept; but the true God, whose image Jesus is, will never do for him.
All this is for the present consideration of our souls. For the world is becoming a common object in these days of ours. All are aiding its advancement, and the development of its capabilities, and the multiplying of its desirable and delectable things--and such a generation as this may easily become the material of a confederacy, or common association against the unworldly Jesus and the church of God.
Strange coalition of this kind is presented to us by the Lord Himself in Luke 11. It is a solemn word of warning; and I may add, a seasonable word, just in this present day.