Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children.
And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.
It is now almost the time of year for the planting of crops and gardens. We begin another season of work after things have been lying dormant through the winter months. It is customary that we ask the grace of God upon us in our labors. We do not pray with and for the world on its World Day of prayer, because the unbeliever cannot come to God in prayer. It is an abomination in His sight, a stench. They pray for material goods and for peace that is no peace, for it is apart from the cross of Christ. They are devoid of the grace of God and seek only for self-advancement, rather than for the coming of the kingdom of heaven.
We pray for something far richer than mere material things. We pray for the work of God that is salvation in Christ. Unto this end must all things work. Therefore, we do not pray for the things of the world in themselves, but only as they benefit the church and the glory of God. As the Lord taught us, we pray “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.”
Psalm 90 is a psalm of Moses, the only one that he ever wrote. It is characterized as a song in the night. It was sung when the children of Israel were perishing in the wilderness, and God’s work seemed wrecked on the rocks of man’s unbelief and rebellion. Therefore, it is Moses’ prayer that the manifestation of God’s work may again appear in all its glory and beauty to His servants and children. Moses did not pray for the things for which Israel was asking: bread, water, meat, etc. Instead, he prays for the work of the Lord, the mercy of God upon His children, that is, the fruit of salvation through the cross.
We must follow this example of Moses. Instead of praying merely for crops, sunshine, and rain, we must pray for these in the light of the cross.
We do not pray for man’s work, or for the inventions, advancements, and doings of this world. That is the prayer of pride and of selfishness. But, like Moses, we pray for the work of God. Moses looked back to the beginning of time and declared that, from everlasting to everlasting, “thou art God.” It is His work that Moses prays will again appear.
Just what work is this? Moses does not mean the everyday work of providence. Indeed, it is God that causes the sun to rise in the east in the morning and to cast its powerful rays to melt ice and snow and to warm the earth. He causes the rain to fall, the thunder to roll, and the seed to grow. He also causes His work to appear in the affairs of men. He governs the mind and the heart. He sends the evil as well as the good, poverty as well as riches, death as well as life. Where can you go without beholding the work of the Lord?
Yet, in all this there is manifest the richness of the one work of God for which the servants of Jehovah long and pray, the work of salvation. It is the revelation and the realization of His covenant with us through Christ Jesus, the covenant of friendship in which He is our God and we are His people. This work He has promised us from the beginning: “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed. It shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
To the realization of the promise, the saints always looked forward. Its realization came in Christ when God sent into the world His only begotten Son, Immanuel, God and man in unity of divine person. The basis for that covenant was the blood of the cross, through which God reconciled us unto Himself, nevermore imputing our trespasses unto us. The glory and beauty of that covenant was revealed in the resurrection and the exaltation of the Lord Jesus Christ, who was exalted to highest glory at the right hand of God. This same covenant of friendship was realized with us on the day of Pentecost, when the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ was poured out upon the church.
But although that covenant of friendship is centrally realized, it is not yet manifested in its final perfection. To this, with all the saints in heaven and on earth, we look forward, and for this we pray. We look for the time when Christ will return, when the new heavens and earth will be created, and the tabernacle of God will be forever with men, and we can see Him face to face. This one work God accomplishes throughout the ages, and unto it must all things work. All things in creation and providence concentrate in that one work. The antithetical side of this work is the destruction and condemnation of the wicked, the reprobate. This is part of the one work and serves its purpose. All must work unto that one final end, the glory of God.
We pray that this work may appear to us. Seeing it, we behold the glory of God. That glory we desire to see in order that we may show forth the praises of our God, who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. The glory of God is the shining forth of all His marvelous virtues. His divine greatness and majesty are emphasized in this text, the power and wisdom as they are concentrated in the work of salvation. This glory is revealed antithetically, for God is the God of light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. He has dominion over all things and puts to naught the works of darkness and hell.
God’s glory and His work are not always seen. They are hid. The work of God does not advance by leaps and bounds, but is steady and constant. We do not always see it, because we are creatures of time, while God is infinite. We can see only a phase and a moment of the eternal work. What was yesterday we see no more, and tomorrow is not yet. Therefore we cannot see our moment of time in relation to the whole, to the end. Moreover, God often hides Himself. He walks through depths that we can never follow. Besides, we are still in the world in the midst of death. Out of these depths we cry for salvation and its appearance. In these depths we sometimes see nothing but our own works, our own sin and misery, and our own death. We also see the works of the ungodly, who seem to have victory and dominion.
Yet we behold this work by faith, by faith in God’s Word and testimony. In that Word He has revealed to us the work that He has already accomplished in the past in Christ through the cross, the resurrection, and the exaltation. By that Word, and through His Spirit in our hearts, He is still accomplishing His work and will perfect it even unto the end. In the light of the Word we see the light. We see Christ crowned with glory and honor, and the certain perfecting of the work of salvation.
This causes us to pray: “Grant, O God, that Thy work may appear unto Thy servants. Give unto Thy servants grace always to see Thy work upon us and upon our children, to see it in our present darkness in the light of Thy Word. For only when we behold Thy work, O Lord, is our soul satisfied. Whatever betides in this present time, in all our sorrow and tribulation, in the midst of all the tumult and confusion of this world, if we may only see Thy work, and behold the beauty of the Lord God upon us, all is well. And we pray: realize Thy work for us and in us and for and in all Thy church. Realize it from age to age, whatever may be the way, until it shall be finished and be manifest in its eternal glory.”
The blessedness of this is God’s beauty upon us and our children. By beauty is meant God’s loveliness, His pleasantness, which He is in Himself. This is closely related to His grace. He is beautiful and pleasant in His gracious attitude toward us. Therefore the beauty of the Lord is upon us when He blesses us with all the blessings of salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord. We pray for this in order that we may enter into God’s eternal covenant of friendship. When His beauty is upon us, He makes us partakers of His divine nature, of His love, of His knowledge, of His wisdom, of His righteousness, and of His holiness. This He bestows not only upon us, but also upon ourchildren, for He maintains His covenant in the line of continued generations.
Thus, He establishes the work of our hands. We realize that this is not our work as such. All our churches, buildings, Sabbaths, and feasts mean nothing unless the Lord bless it, establish it, and crown it with the grace of the Spirit of Christ. The work that we perform as servants of God, as friends in a world that hates Him, as children of light—that work He establishes.
Our work has value and is established only when our work is God’s work, and when it stands in His service and before His face. This is true whether we be minister, elder, deacon, farmer, housewife, or any common laborer. Only that work can have value in the sight of the Lord. Then, realizing our imperfection, we look forward to and pray for the day when there shall be no darkness anymore. We long to behold in perfection God’s work in us and for us and through us. Knowing that this will not be accomplished until the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, we pray: “Come, Lord Jesus, yea, come quickly.”