Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter anything before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. Eccl. 5:2
When thou enterest the house of God! . . . .
For that occasion, the Word of God in this connection sounds a threefold warning.
The house of God, to which the text refers, was, of course, in the first place, the old dispensational temple, the sanctuary of Israel, where the people of God were wont to worship, to offer their prayers, to bring their sacrifices, to pledge and to pay their vows.
In the new dispensation, this sanctuary is no longer on earth, it is in heaven. For the blood of Christ has sprinkled the way that leads into the inner sanctuary of God, the veil, that is His flesh, was rent, and the way into the presence of God is made manifest. There, in the sanctuary, our eternal and only High Priest appears before God in our behalf, and with our eye of faith fixed on Him, we may walk the blood-sprinkled way, and through the veil boldly enter into the presence of the Most High, confident that we will be received.
Yet, the threefold exhortation offered in this part of the Word of God is still important and to the point.
All three warnings are comprehended in the one: “keep thy foot”. Do not blindly rush into God’s sanctuary, as if you were entering your neighbor’s house, but rather be circumspect, and prepare yourselves properly to meet your God.
Applied to your worship, this signifies first of tall, that it is better to hear than to bring the sacrifices of fools. Remember, when you sacrifice, that your offering is presented to the living God. You cannot pretend to do Him a favor. You dare not assume the attitude of the donor. Beware lest you feel that with your gift on the altar you can add to His riches, so that He ought to be pleased with the outward offering. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. All the gold and silver in the world, and the cattle on a thousand hills, are His. Let, therefore, your sacrifice only be a token of humility and deep contrition on your part, an expression that it is your delight to hear His Word and to keep His commandments, if He will but give you grace. For “it is better to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools.” To hear and obey the Word of God is better than sacrifice….
Secondly, this same principle, that you should keep your feet, and not madly rush into the presence of God, implies, too, that you should pay your vows!
Vow, and pay; and defer not to pay; or vow not at all!
For you are making your vow to the living God: and He has no pleasure in fools!
And lastly, when you pray, be not rash with your mouth, so that you speak thoughtlessly, oblivious of the One you are addressing; nor let even your own heart be the criterion of your prayer, and madly make you utter many words.
Rather, when you utter your prayers before the Most High, let the knowledge of Him, and the consciousness of being in His presence, control and determine, both your attitude, and every word you speak.
You are speaking to God!
And God is in heaven, you are on the earth!
Therefore, let your words be few!
Let the fear of the Most High motivate your heart and mind!
God is the Lord!
That, no doubt, is the emphatic and primary significance of the reminder that He is in heaven, and that we are on the earth.
To be sure, He is not confined to heaven, omnipresent is He. On the earth as well as in heaven His presence fills all things. Nothing excludes Him. Moreover, He is the infinite one, who transcends all that in called creature, who cannot be measured by space; the eternal God, whose beginning or end cannot be discovered, who transcends all time. The heaven, yea, the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him.
But when the Word of God makes the distinction of His being in heaven, while we are on the earth, it would have us remember that He is the Lord, the absolute Lord, the sole ruler and proprietor of all the universe, while we are living on His footstool.
Heaven is His throne!
And when you prepare to enter into His sanctuary, and to appear in the presence of God; when you are about to open your mouth in prayer and to utter your petitions before His face, you must do so in the clear and profound consciousness that you stand face to face with the Potentate of potentates, the only sovereign of the whole universe, the heavenly majesty. He is the Creator of the heavens and of the earth. They owe their existence solely to the marvel of His power. They came into being when He called the things that are not as, if they were. There was no one with Him. He is the sole proprietor. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, and He does with all things according to His good pleasure! The heavens and the earth, the clouds and the rain and the sunshine, the rivers and the valleys, the mountains and the hills, the cattle and the beasts of the forest, the soil you plow, and the seed you sow, and the power you employ to do it, the air you breathe, and the water you drink, and the bread you eat, the clothes that, cover your nakedness, and the fire that makes you comfortable in the cold of winter, your silver and your gold, and all the means wherewith you toil and labor, yea, you yourselves with body and soul, with mind and will and heart, and with all your power and ingenuity,—all are His!
He is in heaven, you are on the earth!
Beware, when you present your petitions to Him, lest you should speak with the pretention of having any right or claim to even the smallest speck of dust.
Rather remember that you have sinned against His majesty, and that, if He should mark your transgressions, you would be cast into everlasting desolation!
Be not rash with your mouth, and speak not as if He were the caretaker of your property!
Let not your heart be hasty to bring before Him your carnal requests, as if He existed to prosper your cause, a “Kind Providence” whose sole purpose it must be to fill you with prosperity and plenty. . . .
He is the proprietor, you are His property!
In the heavens is He, while you are on the earth! Therefore, let your words be few!
He is the Lord!
The sole Governor is He!
Alone He is enthroned in the heavens!
All the reins of the government of the entire universe are in His hands. There is no one with Him, no one that gives Him counsel, no one that shares the government with Him, that has the prerogative, the authority, the wisdom, or the power even to be His advisor.
God is in heaven, we are on the earth: He is the governor, we and all things are the ruled.
And this implies that He moves as by His hand every creature in all the living universe, and directs it according to His will!
Whether you see the sun rise every morning exactly at its appointed time, or whether you watch a lonely white cloud drift, apparently quite arbitrarily, across the blue firmament; whether you marvel at the beauty and exact position of each sparkling and twinkling star in the dark heavens, or whether you see the swift meteor flash across a section of the sky; whether you consider the spring rain or the summer drought, the sprouting grass and herb or the golden grain ready to be harvested; whether you listen to the soft murmur of the brook or to the roar of the mighty ocean in the storm; whether you hear the cry of the raven or the song of the meadow lark,—all you perceive is moved and directed as it were by His hand. Yea, the bullet that seeks its target, the shell that bursts to spread death and destruction, the bomb that is dropped from the plane, the torpedo that makes its treacherous course through the dark waters, as well as the thoughts and plans of mighty man that invents and prepares them for their destructive work,—all are directed as it were by His hand.
When you are healthy and well, it is His hand that makes you so; when sickness enters your home, it is by His hand that it is sent; when you may harvest an abundant crop, it was His gift to you, and when the almost ready harvest is destroyed by hail, His hand alone directed the path of the hail; when there is an abundance of supplies in your cellars, it was He that filled them, but when the bread basket is empty, it was also His hand that emptied it. And when your son gets through this dreadful war without a scratch, but also when he is wounded or killed on the battlefield, it is He that directs it all. The message that is delivered at your door: “we regret to inform you that your son was killed in action,” is brought to you as it were by His hand….
Prosperity and adversity, sickness and health, fruitful and barren years, life and death, peace and war,—they are all His. He determines when and what will be the outcome of this war.
God is in heaven, He alone does, and He alone is able to rule.
He is the Lord!
Be not rash with your tongue when you pray, and be not hasty to utter a thousand requests that may arise from your heart!
When He sends heavy rains at the time of harvest, or drought in the springtime, do not instruct Him to change His government; when sickness enters your family, do not request that He remove it; when war ravages the whole world, and His judgments are in the earth, neither clamor for peace because you do not like it, nor instruct Him as to whose cause is righteous and must have the victory; when hundreds and thousands of young men are killed in battle, do not insist that your son or husband must be kept unharmed. . . .
Rather say: O God, thy will be done! Give us grace to will that will!
He is the Lord!
Besides, that He alone governs all things, implies, too, that He directs all the history and movement of all the universe to His own end!
Things do not move at random!
They are all directed according to an eternal purpose.
The plan of all things is in heaven, in the divine mind, in eternity, in the immutable decree of the Lord of heaven and earth.
And you know, for in His grace He assured you of it, that, as far as those that love Him are concerned, that purpose is everlasting glory and salvation.
Is not that sufficient?
All things work together for good to them that love Him, that are the called according to His purpose.
Would you insist that He change that purpose, because of some individual experience that is not to your liking, some suffering or sorrow that He sends you here on the earth?
Would you not rather commit it all to Him?
God is in heaven, and you are on the earth: therefore let your words be few!
O, let them be as many as you please, pour out your hearts in an abundance of words, if you mean to praise and adore and glorify Him, and acknowledge that He is the Lord! For of His wondrous works there is no end!
But as far as the details of your life and way are concerned, leave them to Him!
Be not rash with your mouth!
God is the Lord!
He alone knows!
Yes, also this is implied in the reminder that He is in the heavens, and that we are on the earth.
He knows, He knows all. We do not understand His way or work, except in as far as it pleases Him to make them known unto us!
“Jehovah from His throne on high
Looks down with clear and searching eye
On all that dwell below;
And He that fashioned heart and mind
Looks ever down on all mankind,
The works of men to know.”
Yes, and He looks down, not only on the works of men, but on tall things, to know them. And, mark you well, He looks from His throne on high, and He looks down: God is in heaven! His viewpoint is heavenly, that of the Lord of heaven and earth, Who created all things, Who possesses all things, Who does with all things according to His good pleasure, Who directs them according to His sovereign counsel. He knows them, not by studying them and watching their course, but from His own eternal good pleasure and wise decree. He knows them in their relation to one another, and in relation to the final and all-comprehensive purpose they must serve and reach; He knows them all, and He knows them in their minutest detail. He knows exactly what must happen in the affairs of the world, and in your and my individual experience. . . .
We do not!
We often look at things from the infinitesimally small and narrow viewpoint of our own earthly and carnal wants and desires, in order then to determine, and tell the Lord in heaven what should be done!
For we are creatures of the dust. We are on the earth, we are of time, of yesterday. We are of space, hemmed in on every side. We see but little, almost nothing, except that which it pleased the Lord to reveal to us of His counsel: His general purpose of salvation.
Shall we, then, give Him counsel?
We need give Him no information in our prayers: He knows!
Be not rash with your mouth!
God is in heaven!
Soli Deo Gloria!
That is the end! For God is in heaven!
He alone is the purpose of all things. All things are and must be of Him, and through Him, and to Him! Have your delight in that purpose, and approach Him with fear!
With reverent circumspection!