After the earthquake, the storm, the fire, or war men walk about the cities counting the damage and loss.
They examine the buildings and find that the cost runs into millions and millions of dollars.
A stroll through the fields will reveal that the count of hail damage is great or little.
And the cost in lives will soon be published for all to know.
This all may be a very cold and mechanical counting. It may be a painful counting of the loved ones who suffered loss of relative and friend, or the loser of property and goods. And what a joy when, walking about, surveying the whole area, all is found to be intact! What unmitigated bliss to count and find all safe; to examine and find no damage and to investigate and see all things in perfect order and safety!
That is the experience of the child of God who walks in His fear. He, according to Psalm 48, walks about Zion and goes round about her. He tells the towers thereof, and marks well her bulwarks. He considers her palaces. And he finds everything in all its beauty and strength. He counts the towers and finds not one missing. He marks off on the sheet before him this bulwark and that, and hands each one in place and unscathed. And he rejoices that her palaces are a thing of beauty and a shining picture of glory and blessedness.
But you must understand that he does all this counting after the battle is over. He is not examining all these with the blue print after which they have been fashioned and as soon as the workman declares his work to be finished. Then, too, he could say with the psalmist, “Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.” Indeed! But this counting of Psalm 48is some time later. The enemy had come, “For, lo, the kings were assembled, they passed by together. They saw it and so they marveled; they were troubled and hasted away. Fear took hold upon them there, and pain as of a woman in travail.” For they saw that “God is known in her palaces for a refuge.” And He broke “the ships of Tarshish with an east wind.” After the battle, after the enemy has arrayed itself against Zion and hurled all its might against her, the citizens of Zion go round about her, walk through her streets, tell her towers and bulwarks and count to find all things well. As they have heard, so have they seen. As their parents taught them the safety and security of Zion, so they found it to be. And the outcry of praise is, “God will establish it forever.”
We know not the particular setting of this Psalm. It may have been in the days of Jehoshophat, when Moab and Ammon came with an host. It makes little difference. Zion, the church of God, is always under attack; and that church is always safe. The church is in one continuous conflict. Her enemies are legion and to be found in hell and on this earth; and at one time also in heaven. Because that church represents the living God in the midst of an evil world she is hated as that living God is hated. The natural man is an enemy of God. He has not the enmity against the serpent and his seed, but instead against the living God and His elect children. To love God is to keep His commandments and be subject to that law of God. But Paul declares inRomans 8:7 that “the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Get the full force of that statement! The natural mind cannot be subject to the law of God. It is not simply a case of what that carnal or natural mind does. It certainly is a matter of what that mind CAN do and CANNOT do. It cannot be subject to the law of God. Paul knows of no “civic righteousness” which that carnal mind still performs. Paul dares to disagree with those who would leave a little good in man, a little innate power whereby he can at least will to be saved from that state of incapability to do anything good and thus to be saved. The carnal mind is enmity against God. And to call Paul a liar and to contradict him is to contradict the living God whose Spirit revealed this truth to Paul. It is at the same time therefore one of those evil acts of that carnal mind. The faith of God will never speak that way. The flesh can only speak that way.
And we are surrounded by those with carnal minds, unregenerated children of darkness. The world is full of them. In comparison the church is but a handful. Today as well as in ages past “the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing.” “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.” That is no Old Testament philosophy. That is every day reality. Today it ought not to be questioned at all when open attempts are made to destroy the church of God on every side, to harass her, to take away her privileges, to place upon her financial burdens of taxation and to wipe out all faith in the one true God!
The battle is on. The armies are set in array. There soon will be the gathering at Armageddon, when Satan and his host in one mad, desperate fling shall pit all the world against that church. Victory shall seem so very close and imminent. The cause of Christ cannot stand a day longer. Then Christ will come and take His people by the hand to walk about Zion and count her towers and bulwarks and palaces. And the church shall see the complete safety and the unmarred beauty and glory of that church.
What a pleasant and delightful occupation this counting of Zion’s towers and bulwarks and palaces. What joy and comfort and peace it affords. But have you ever done it? Have you come expecting the worst? Have you conceded the victory already to Satan and his host? Has your heart fainted and have your legs been given to trembling? These cannot be the case, if you live in His fear. When we live by sight, that which we see is disturbing to say the least. That which the eye of flesh may see of the church is enough to fill us with another fear. Terror must strike our hearts. For the forces of darkness are today more powerful than they have ever been before. And they will build their strength until they have produced the man of sin, the son of perdition that skilled and talented master of wickedness and evil. God has produced and begotten the Christ, born of a virgin. Satan will produce and present to the world the antichrist. In Bethlehem we saw that “holy thing” that was born of Mary; but we saw Him there only by faith. And we shall see that son of perdition also only by faith. What we will see of the man of sin with the fleshly eye will be that which is mighty attractive. He will do many signs and wonders.
What we see by sight will cause us to worship the beast and to cry after him, “Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?” We will see safety and security in him. And because he is religious, because he has for his press agent, his publicity man, the false prophet, we will hail him as a Godsend. We will learn to hate the truth and to see the “beauty” of the lie. Christianity will become synonymous with culture and civilization and, social progress. We will walk about this anti-Christian kingdom, the world power, and count its towers and bulwarks and palaces and feel smug and safe in that confidence that no man can make war with the beast. All this the eye of flesh shall see until fear, real fear, terror, and panic shall grip us because we see the Christ coming in His glory to judge the quick and the dead. That also the eye of flesh shall finally see. Every eye shall see Him, and they that pierced Him shall look upon Him.
But by faith—which is seeing all things in His fear—we shall see the antichrist as the son of perdition and Zion’s security and will count not the towers and palaces of the world but of Zion. By faith we shall see that Zion is the joy of the whole earth and that she stands unscratched after every skirmish and battle. For we shall see that “God is known in her palaces for a refuge.” We will look for Zion, that City of God, in Holy Writ. We will not look for it in the kingdoms of this world. We will turn the pages of Scripture to count those towers and see those bulwarks and mark her palaces. Nothing man can do will erase that beautiful picture which by faith we see there.
We will see Christ and His cross. We will see a finished reconciliation. We will see that all things,absolutely none excluded, work together for good to those that love God. We will see that “our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things that’ are seen, but at the things which are not seen.” II Cor. 4:17, 18. We will see that the Lord hath dealt well with His servants. Psalm 119:64. We will see that the world serves the church as the chaff serves the wheat and as the scaffold serves the building. Walking around Zion on the pages of Holy Writ, we see a glorified Christ seated on the throne with power over all things, nothing excluded, realizing the day of His return, and the plan of that Zion engraven upon the palms of God’s hands wherewith He forms it exactly according to that pattern. We see it all intact in the power of an almighty and unchangeable God.
But there we must not stop. And there we do not stop, if in His fear we have seen all this. We count but we also recount. And we recount particularly to the generations following; Do we? It is time for our children, the generation that follows us, to go back to school. Who is going to recount and what is he going to recount to your children? Can and would the world ever recount the security and beauty of Zion? To ask the question is to answer it. Can the enemy even desire to sing the praises of God? Will the instructor of your children recount the glory of the kingdoms of this world, its achievements, its successes and “glorious future?” Will he tram your child to live merely for this life and to make this world his goal? Will he refuse your child the right to pray to that God Who is known in Zion for a refuge?
He, that unbelieving teacher, has but one eye; and his eye of flesh can never see anything but ridicule and scorn for Zion. Religion, he has said, is the opium of the masses. Man came from a monkey and not from the hands of an all-wise and glorious God. We are the captains of our souls and the masters of our fate. The world is before you to conquer it and make it a better place to live. High sounding but empty slogans and phrases fall from the lips of these.
Send your children where they may have Zion’s beauty and security recounted and the praises of God related. And if there is no such institution yet in your area, strive with all the talents and resources which the living God has given you to realize it as soon as possible. And where there are such schools, hold on with might and main to THAT truth that your children may see that “this God is our God for ever and ever: He will be our guide even unto death.” Let not the lie creep in and be harbored, the lie that part of that security of Zion depends upon the citizens of that kingdom. Let them not be deceived into thinking that it depends upon us whether we will to be in that city or not. Let the glorious gospel of a sovereign and unchangeable election from before the foundation of the world be taught them. Then the security of these towers will be seen. Then it does not depend upon the flimsy, changeable and fickle will of an enemy of the living God, but upon the almighty and unchangeable grace and power of the God of all glory.
What you recount and/or provide for your children to have recounted unto them will be what they recount again to the generation that follows them. In His fear recount to them the truth about God and His church. Then mount Zion shall rejoice, and the daughters of Judah will be glad. Having the fear of the Lord, they have no fear of what man can or will do to them. They will expect in the new Jerusalem to count all God’s promises, and all the things that He has promised, and find them intact and fulfilled to the last degree. And they will recount the praises of Him Who saved us by the blood of the Lamb and accomplished all our salvation for us.