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Great Christian Works:     Natural Emblems Of Spiritual Life   By A. B. Simpson

A. B. Simpson

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Natural Emblems Of Spiritual Life
By A. B. Simpson

Munitions Of Rocks

"He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gains of oppression, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil; He shall dwell on high; his place of defense shall be the munition of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure. Thine eyes shall see the King in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off. Thine heart shall meditate terror. Where is the scribe? Where is the receiver? Where is he that counted the towers! Thou shalt not see a fierce people, a people of a deeper speech than thou canst perceive; of a stammering tongue that thou canst not understand. Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down. Not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken. But there the glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby. For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; he will save us. Thy tacklings are loosed; they could not well strengthen their mast; they could not spread the sail; then is the prey of a great spoil divided; the lame take the prey. And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick; the people that walk therein shall be forgiven their iniquity."   Isaiah 33:15 24

WE WILL not look at this passage this morning as an abstract chain of thought, but as a series of spiritual pictures.


We see here the character of the child of God.

1. We are told of his ways. He walketh righteously. This has respect chiefly to his relations to this world. It is the horizon of life as a circle which takes in only human relationships. But we are next told of his relations to God. He speaketh uprightly. The words "the righteous walk" describe him as he comes in contact with his fellow men; as he touches humanity upon the right and left. The word "uprightly" describes him as he touches God. The circle of his influence towards men is not a vertical circle, but the other circle sweeps the heavens. Which of these should be the measure of life? Both of them. Our lives should sweep out in a flat circle towards all with whom we come in contact, and they should also touch the heavens with the same full sweep.

2. Next, we are told of his words. Life is very largely made up of words. They are not so emphatic, perhaps, as deeds. Deeds are more deliberate expressions of thought. One of the most remarkable authors of the New Testament has said; "If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man." It is very often a test of victory in Christian life. Our triumph in this often depends on what we say, or what we do not say. It is said by James of tongue that "it is set on fire of hell." The true Christian, therefore, is righteous in his ways and upright in his words. His deeds appeal to men; but in speech he is looking up, for God is listening.

His words are sent upward and recorded for the judgment. I believe that this is an actual fact, and I can almost fancy that the skies above, which seem so transparent, the beautiful blue ether over our heads, is like a waxen tablet with a finely sensitive surface, and receives an impression of every word we speak, and that then these tablets are hardened and preserved for the eternal judgment. So we should speak, dear friends, with our eyes ever upward, never forgetting that we shall some day meet the words that we have spoken.

3. We are told again of the hands of the Christian. They too are right, as well as his lips. "He shaketh his hands from holding of bribes." He not only will not take them, but, lest the dust should adhere, he shakes off every particle of it. He is clean from suspicion of injustice in business matters. His hands are free from avarice and from all sordid self-seeking. He is honest in all these matters. He is clear from all business corruption. He is clean from any stain of social, secular or moral evil. Not only his words but his hands are free from them.

4. Again we are told about his ears. They are closed to anything that could be unkind, or injurious, or hurtful in any way to another. He listens not to anything of the kind. God hates this, and His true child hates it also. He has shut His ears against it. Even if we do not believe the evil we hear; even if we do not give much thought to it afterward, still, we cannot listen to it without being contaminated by it. It is like ugly water thrown over us, which cannot but defile. If we would walk in the white light of heaven, we must listen to nothing which would injure another, and therefore, in a sense, destroy his life. We should shut our ears from the hearing of blood. It is walking in the mire of evil, as truly as if we were speaking it instead of hearing it.

5. "He shuteth his eyes from seeing evil." He may move in the midst of it, but he will pass it by and not see it. He refuses to look upon it. His eyes are fixed on something higher. He has an inner vision which keeps him from beholding the evil. We can all have this, dear friends, by making up our minds to have it. We can all have the single eye fixed only upon Jesus. The devil will try to throw in many side lights, to draw our eyes from this steady look at Christ. They will come darting in from every side, like forked lightning. Perhaps in the form of annoyance, or of some irritating thought or evil desire, which has no consent in the soul.

The pictures in the windows, and the spectacles that are passed in the street may often act in this way, and it needs much prayer to defend us from them. There must be a constant looking unto Jesus, or, as the German Bible gives it, an off-looking upon Jesus; that is, looking off from the evil, refusing to see it, not letting the mind dwell upon it for a second. We should have mental eyelashes as well as physical ones, which can be used like shields, and let no evil thing in; or like a stockade camp in the woods, which repel the first assault of the enemy. This is the use of the fringes to our eyes, and so it should be with the soul. Many do not seem to know that they have spiritual eyes. They go through the world as if somebody had cut off their eyelashes, and they stare away on the good and evil alike.

The devil comes along with his evil pictures and bids them look. We cannot look upon evil without being defiled. Sometimes, in going down the street, the sight of some of the pictures on the way will cast their filth upon the soul so that we shall feel the need of being bathed in Jesus' blood for hours, for cleansing. There has been no consent unto sin, but the sight of it has defiled. There is no help for it but in the resolute, steady, inner view of Christ. A question may arise, what shall we do when such and such things come to annoy us? Do not let them come. Shut the door upon them at once. Say to them: "I am engaged with my Master, and I cannot see you." Put a lock upon the front door. Let nothing enter there but that to which God says: "Come in."

If other things are allowed to enter, the house will soon be dismantled; the locks will be off the doors, and it will be open to every beast of prey who chooses to enter, and to every foul bird of the air who pleases to come roost and within. This is the most practical word that I can say to you this morning. Beloved, keep your ears, and your eyes, and your thoughts from contact with anything that is evil. Refuse to see, hear or to think of it. Keep the eye so steadily fixed on Christ that everything else will be shut out. And so the life will be full of rest. So often a thread is broken in our lives by carelessness in these little things and we have to get it mended. And when that is mended, another is broken, and another and another. May God give us steadiness of purpose in looking unto Jesus in all these things.

6. We are told also of his thoughts. He despiseth evil. He has such a scorn of it that it cannot get access to his spiritual nature. He cannot be tempted lightly. He can only look with holy scorn upon the devil, and the devil cannot stand being insulted. He can get along if he is treated fairly, and decently, and with respect; but he cannot stand being scorned. We should be able to have a holy and lofty scorn of evil. It must have no power to spatter the soul. There should be a loftiness and a sublimity in the poise of our altitude, which will give us the victory before the fight begins.


We will now look at the blessing of God's child.

1. "He shall dwell on high." There are two races of men upon the earth; one, like the devil, goes crawling about upon the ground as the serpents do; the other dwells on high, in union with the Lord Jesus Christ. The true child of God sits in heavenly places, and looks upon everything as it comes from God's standpoint. He can look down at the poor children of earth who are dwelling in the midst of thunderstorms, but he is up in the mountain above their power, dwelling in glory, and bathed in the light the sun. He looks below, and everything is black, because the sun has hidden his presence; but he is dwelling in the light. The Lord wants us always to be full of light, as though we were living there.

2. He dwells also in the munition of rocks. He has not only a glorious home, but a glorious defense. He does not have to fight battles, because his enemy cannot get at him. He is secure in Christ, but only secure while he is in Him. If he gets out of that place a second he is not safe. He is not secure because he is a strong man, but because he is in a strong position. "Where are we staying, dear friends? "The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks." They can be easily caught by the eagles, and they know it, and so they keep inside the rocks. We are not strong, beloved. There are devil forces in us that would carry us off at any time, but we have the promise that there shall no evil come nigh our dwelling. If we get out of the house we may be struck, and so we had better stay there. It is our privilege to dwell on high, in the munitions of rocks. If we stay there we are safe. If we go out we may be game for the hunter at any moment.

3. "His bread shall be given him." His bread is not earned merely, but it is given. The Lord wants to give it to us. He has taught us to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread." Some people think that they have to fight for their bread. The Lord said: "All these things shall be added unto you." It is one thing to say, "I have got to get bread for my wife and children anyhow." God says, "You have got to do right." Then He has promised to give the bread. People so often think that they must secure themselves against evil days. God wants us only to be true to Him, and He will feed us. He wants to give us our daily bread, and how sweet it comes to us from Him.

I would rather have a crust that was given me from the hand of the Lord than to sit down at a table loaded with luxuries. There is no encouragement in this for idleness. The difference is, you are not toiling for bread, you are toiling for Jesus, and He is giving the bread. The difference is great. "His waters also shall be sure." Water is for comfort and refreshing. He is to have the spring of consolation. Water is also for washing, and for drinking, and for medicinal use. There is every sort of spring, but all of them are sure. God has always some comfort for His weary children. They need never be desolate. "Their souls shall be as a watered garden," and they shall not sorrow any more at all. "Their waters are sure."


1. We are told also of his vision. God does not talk about him any more; he has got so high that the pronoun changes. "Thine eyes shall see the King in His beauty." He has come so near to God that they can talk together. God calls him now "my child," and reveals to him the whole land of promise. They talk together as if they were both in it. "Thine eyes shall see," what? Ah, the first thing they behold is not the glory or the riches of the land, but it is Jesus, the King, in His beauty. He is grander than any robe He wears, and we can see Him today in His beauty. We need not wait till we have passed through this vale of tears. We can see Him here, and when we gather together there we shall only see the King, who has already been revealed to us.

He sees also the land that is very far off. That expression is not used to convey the meaning that heaven is very far off. The transaction is very beautiful in the margin: "He shall see the land of far distances." The land reaches very far off, but we can get up so high, and into such clear light, that we can see afar off. We can see not only the promises for today, but we can look ahead into the future, and see there, not trouble and sorrow only, but glory and blessing. Not only our light affliction, which is but for a moment, but the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.

All this is shown to us in the vision of the things that are very far off. Seeing Christ will more than make up for the things that are unpleasant. I see a brother from Pittsburgh here today, and it reminds me that they called us, when we were there, the "far away people." If they meant that we were able to look a long way off, I think we should have taken it as a great compliment. God can become, for His people, not only a possession for today, but a promise of rest and comfort in the far distances ahead.

Glory to God for all the grace
We have not tasted yet.

Glory to Him for all the things laid up for us in the days to come. Glory to Him for all the visions of service in the future; the opportunities of doing good that are far away as well as close at hand. Our Saviour was able to despise the cross for the joy that was before Him. Let us look up to Him, and rise up to Him till we get on high and are able to look out from the mount of vision over all the land of far distances. There shall not a single thing come to us in all the future in which we may not be able to see the King in His beauty. Let us be very sure that we do not see anything else. Our pupils will become impressed as they look at this vision, so that they will not be able to reflect anything else.

My little child came to me the other day and said: "Papa, look at that golden sign across the street a good while; now look at that brick wall, and tell me what you see." "Why, I see the golden sign on the brick wall." And he laughed merrily over it. So, if we look a long time upon Jesus, we cannot look at anything else without seeing a reflection of Him. Everything which we behold will become a part of Him. May He give us this vision of Himself today, and cause us to sit before Him as David did in adoring wonder, as we cry: "Who am I, O Lord God? and what is my house, that Thou has brought me hitherto? And this was yet a small thing in Thy sight, O Lord God; but thou hast spoken also of Thy servant's house for a great while to come." Hath He spoken to you, dear friends, also for a great while to come.

2. He shall not be afraid of anything. His heart shall mediate terror. He shall be able to think of the most terrible things, and yet not be afraid. The time has come when Jesus has become greater to him than anything the devil can possibly bring against us; greater than sorrow, greater than difficulty, greater uncongenial people, indeed, Jesus has become all in all.

3. The glorious Lord has there become to him a place of broad rivers and streams, in which no war ship shall pass. It is a safe land; a secure dwelling place. There is no way out from that fullness of God. The glorious Lord is its crown of blessing. The inhabitants are not bound up there in narrow channels in which they have to row and paddle along without wind, but they are out on the broad rivers where they do not need the oars. They are carried swiftly along by the sails. There is no hard toiling and struggling with our own efforts. God's winds bear us gently and steadily onward. There is no enemy in that land. No war ship can come near it. There is no trouble there.

There are no rocks in those broad rivers, for the winds to drive our vessels upon. None of these things can be found in the glorious Lord. We do not even need to go in galleys with oars, for we shall do no fighting there. I remember the story I used to read of Themistocles, the great Grecian general, who went out to fight the Persians with their mighty armament of millions of soldiers. He waited until the wind was on his side, so that his enemy had to row against it, but his fleet could put down their oars and did not need to touch a paddle. Every man was sent to his arrow, or his javelin, or his spear. Every man became a soldier.

While the Persian army was struggling in rowing to keep its position, the Greeks bore down upon them with all the force of the strong wind that was blowing and won a glorious victory. God wants us to be on the right side of things, so that we shall not need to use oar or paddle to struggle against them. Many people come to church on the Sabbath after a week of defeat, and yet wonderfully helped and blessed, and think "It is all right now, I have got back to where I was before." But ere the week is over they begin to drift again, and have to row and row with all their strength, to keep their own position. Dear friends, the devil is not a bit afraid of such people. He does not need to spend a soldier on them. They can fight away all day and no harm is done to him. This is not what God wants. No; He would have us on the windward side, which is the place of blessing.

Let us get up today, into His place of vision. Let us enter upon these rivers, where there is fullness of victory, and let us use all these blessings for His glory, and to His dear name be all the praise.

Chapter 16  

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