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Palms of Elim: Chapter 55 - Perseverance

By John MacDuff

      "This is the resting place, let the weary rest; and this is the place of repose"--

      "Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6

      "We will not die." Habakkuk 1:12

      In looking from underneath the shade of the palm-trees, on the long untrodden journey before the true Canaan can be reached, the thought cannot fail at times to intrude itself -- Can we trust to be safeguarded through this great and terrible wilderness? Can we rely on the God of the Pillar-cloud conducting us to the brink of Jordan and thence to "the shining fields" beyond? Rather, is there no danger of spiritual drought and famine, or spiritual death, overtaking us? May it not be sadly fulfilled, with us, in a spiritual sense, as it was with the Pilgrim Hebrews in a literal, that through apostasy, unbelief, and backsliding, "we shall never enter into His rest"?

      No! We have the sure word of promise of "a God who cannot lie," "You shall go over and possess that good land" (Deuteronomy 4:22). "But now, O Israel, the Lord who created you says: 'Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are Mine. When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior!'" Isaiah 43:1-3. All is guaranteed to us in what the old writers call "the charter-deed of the Everlasting Covenant." The immutability of the Divine counsel has been confirmed to us by oath.

      In the first of our motto-verses the great Apostle speaks with unhesitating assurance--"being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you, will perform it unto the day of Jesus Christ." He does not, indeed, declare, that "good work" is never to be impeded. God has never given promise in Scripture, with regard to spiritual experience, of an unclouded day--uninterrupted sunshine. "The morning without clouds" is a heavenly emblem. The earthly one is "a day in which the light shall neither be clear nor dark" (Zechiah 14:6).

      The analogy of the outer world of nature, at least under these our checkered and ever-varying skies, teaches us this. Spring comes smiling, and pours her blossoms into the lap of Summer. But the skies lower, the rain and battering hail descend, the virgin blossoms droop their heads and almost die. Summer again smiles, and the meadows look gay; the flowers ring merry chimes with their leaves and petals and swing their fragrant censers. But all at once drought comes with her fiery, merciless footsteps. Every blade and bud, gasping for breath, lift their blanched eyelids to the brazen sky; or the night winds rock the laden branches and strew the ground. Thus, we see, it is not one unvarying, unchecked progression, from the opening bud to the matured fruit.

      But every succeeding month is more or less scarred by drought and moisture, wind and rain and storm. Yet, never once has Autumn failed to gather up her golden sheaves; yes, and if you ask her testimony, she will tell that the very storm, and blackened skies, and descending torrents you dreaded as foes, were the best helpers in filling her garners.

      Do not be desponding now, because of present passing shadows, but "thank God, and take courage." "Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholds him with His hand" (Psalms 37:24). It is written, that "at evening time it shall be light" (Zechariah 14:7). The sun may wade all day through murky clouds, but he will pillow his head at night on a couch of amber. "Even though you sleep among the campfires, the wings of my dove are sheathed with silver, its feathers with shining gold" (Psalms 68:13).

      The second of our motto-verses forms part of an impassioned appeal of the Prophet Habakkuk in the prospect of impending national calamity. The great military power of that era of the world was menacing the cities and homes of Palestine. "Terrible and dreadful"--their horses "swifter than the leopards, and more fierce than the evening wolves" (1:7, 8). Overwhelmed at the thought of imminent judgment and desolation, the prophet can discern no silver lining in the earthly cloud. He turns from man to God. He takes refuge in that sublime truth--the Immutability of a covenant Jehovah; and breaks out in these beautiful words of calm confidence, "O Lord, are You not from everlasting? My God, my Holy One, we will not die!" No! though the hosts of the Chaldeans should sweep the battle-plains; though they should leave behind them a track of blood and ashes and smoke; though the cry of suffering thousands should ascend apparently unsupported to heaven, "We will not die." The God of our Fathers will not be untrue to His oath, or unmindful of His covenant. He will not cast off forever, or root out our name and remembrance from the earth.

      "I give them," is His own blessed word and guarantee to His true Israel still, "eternal life, and they shall never perish." "What God has spoken, He is able also to perform." The good work begun, He will also finish. Let this ever be our rallying call when wounded in the fight, "To this I will appeal: the years of the right hand of the Most High!"

      "He will never fail us,
      He will not forsake;
      His eternal covenant,
      He will never break.

      "Onward, then, and fear not,
      Children of the Day!
      For His Word shall never,
      Never pass away!"

      "It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord."

Back to John MacDuff index.

See Also:
   Chapter 1 - Divine Immutability
   Chapter 2 - All For Good
   Chapter 3 - The Sympathy of Jesus
   Chapter 4 - The Wind Tempered
   Chapter 5 - The Fatherhood of God
   Chapter 6 - Transcendently Able
   Chapter 7 - Right Guidance
   Chapter 8 - Higher Uses
   Chapter 9 - The Gracious Word
   Chapter 10 - A Reigning Savior
   Chapter 11 - Divine Leading
   Chapter 12 - The Farewell Gift
   Chapter 13 - The Compassion of Jesus
   Chapter 14 - The Lord Upright
   Chapter 15 - Full Satisfaction
   Chapter 16 - The Secret of Submission
   Chapter 17 - A Risen Christ
   Chapter 18 - The Creator and Redeemer
   Chapter 19 - Proof and Triumph of Love
   Chapter 20 - Future Unfoldings
   Chapter 21 - A Great Salvation
   Chapter 22 - Fears Quieted
   Chapter 23 - The Way Known
   Chapter 24 - Prayer
   Chapter 25 - Tender Dealings
   Chapter 26 - Sleeping and Waking
   Chapter 27 - The Return to Zion
   Chapter 28 - The Great High Priest
   Chapter 29 - Fatherly Chastisement
   Chapter 30 - God Unchanging
   Chapter 31 - Healing for All
   Chapter 32 - Divine Power
   Chapter 33 - Providence and Grace
   Chapter 34 - Transformation at Death
   Chapter 35 - The Incarnate Savior
   Chapter 36 - The Rebukes of Love
   Chapter 37 - The Unspeakable Gift
   Chapter 38 - Jehovah Jireh
   Chapter 39 - Glorious Attributes and Ways
   Chapter 40 - The Second Coming
   Chapter 41 - Imputed Righteousness
   Chapter 42 - Christ Ever the Same
   Chapter 43 - The Soul's Portion
   Chapter 44 - Hope
   Chapter 45 - The Supreme Rule of Jesus
   Chapter 46 - The Perpetual Presence
   Chapter 47 - Christ's Deity
   Chapter 48 - THE Imperishable Gift
   Chapter 49 - The Recompense of Trust
   Chapter 50 - The Riches of God's Mercy
   Chapter 51 - Acceptance of the Little
   Chapter 52 - None Cast Out
   Chapter 53 - The Blessed Hope
   Chapter 54 - The Divine Way Perfect
   Chapter 55 - Perseverance
   Chapter 56 - Delight in God's Law
   Chapter 57 - Christ the Propitiation
   Chapter 58 - Fullness of Joy
   Chapter 59 - Inviolable Security
   Chapter 60 - The Safe Deposit
   Chapter 61 - All Power of Jesus
   Chapter 62 - Help in Extremity
   Chapter 63 - Prevailing Intercession
   Chapter 64 - A Pardoning God
   Chapter 65 - A Gracious Message
   Chapter 66 - Perfect Trust
   Chapter 67 - God All Satisfying
   Chapter 68 - Salvation to the Uttermost
   Chapter 69 - Asleep in Jesus
   Chapter 70 - The Last Musing


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