"The LORD my Banner."
The first two sentences of Gen. iii. 15, are full of instruction; but how many overlook their deep meaning. " I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed;"—these words were spoken by the Lord God, and it is most important, that we should lay hold of the fact—not only that there is positive enmity between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman—but that the Lord God has, in infinite wisdom, put enmity between them. There can be no conciliation of light and darkness, of Christ and Belial; and on this eternal principle is based the most solemn exhortation to the saints of God (2 Cor. vi. 14, 18). In the case of Eve we surely have no need to ask the reason for this. Had she not already experienced, to her sorrow, that though the serpent spake as if he were her friend, towards Adam and herself he had acted as the bitterest enemy? It was, therefore, wise, to say the least, that enmity should hereafter exist between these; since open hostility is, in every way, to be preferred to an iniquitous compromise effected with an adversary, the weapon in whose murderous hand was. seduction; as she said—" The serpent beguiled me." We should, however, ever remember that the origin of enmity is to be traced to the serpent, not to the woman; above all, not to her Seed—Christ. For love is of God; but envy, hatred, malice, each owe their origin solely to the serpent.
How it saddens one to witness the existence of enmity between the different nations of the earth, and to see its terrible fruit in wars and desolation. Yet it is incomparably more sad to discern the faintest appearance of it between those who are one in Christ Jesus—who are commanded to love one another as Christ loved them. Scripture never sanctions it; it is most dishonouring to God, and, at the same time, is an incontestable proof that the enemy is in some way suffered to work amongst those who are responsible to resist him at all cost.
"Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart;"— thus the Lord commanded Israel (Lev. xix. 17). "Until seventy times seven," a believer is responsible to forgive his brother's sin against himself. Even when a brother's disobedience to the written Word constrains me to separate myself from him, 2 Thess. iii. 15, warns me not to count him "as an enemy," but, at least, while "within," to," admonish him "as a brother," and if put away to seek his restoration (2,Cor: ii: 6,, 11).
To return. In all ages; from Gen. iv. onwards, faithful servants. of God have encountered enmity:, The faithful in Christ Jesus are sure, sooner, or later, to meet the same opposing elements., In fact these prove themselves faithful by withstanding them. There had been no need of the exhortation,. "Fight the good fight of faith," there, were no adversaries to withstand. With whom, then, are believers called. upon to wrestle?
Before: we assay to answer, this question, another question; even more, important, demands solemn: consideration:-. It is this:—How shall the Christian warrior proceed to "fight the good fight;" so that God may be glorified in the conflict
We now turn to Ex. xvii. Before Israel fought, with Amalek, the Lord had, in spite of all the enemy's efforts to prevent His purpose being accomplished, brought Israel out of, Egypt with a high hand. "By faith" Israel had " passed through the Red Sea. as by-dry land'; and by the hand of Moses and Aaron, the Lord was leading Israel " like: a: flock " to Sinai—the mount, of God:. They had nearly reached, Sinai; when Amalek appeared, the latter, being 'as surely energised: by Satan; as: Israel was led by the Lord God. If the enemy could not prevent Israel from reaching Sinai; he was determined, to, do his utmost to harass and to distress the people of God.
A battle was fought near Rephidim, and. Amalek was defeated: for Moses' uplifted hands. ensured victory to Israel:. " And the. Lord said unto Moses, ' Write, this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.'" Jehovah had espoused a quarrel! The' conflict was to be perpetual Israel must' never make peace with Amalekl! Moses perceived; this, and said, " The Lord hath sworn that the Lord' will have war with Amalek from generation to generation:"
How wisely. Moses acted under such circumstances He evinced no desire to sue for peace, but cheerfully, bowed to the revealed will of God, and enjoined it on: the children of Israel. (Deut. xxv. 17-19).
In these "last days," these " perilous' times," every, believer should carefully avoid being caught in—what has already too often proved to be—a most successful, snare of the enemy. For there is,, in the carnal heart (1 Cor. 1), a strong tendency to attempt to effect some sort of compromise between the seed, of the serpent. 'and those redeemed from' his power by the Seed of the: woman. In short, to attempt to bring about a peace which is not of God,, a so-called " peace" which the Lord, will never. sanction. Alas! how often, " popularity " has been sought after,, and obtained,, at, the, expense of the almost total surrender of " spirituality!," Yet God yearns over His saints, and will bruise: Satan under their feet shortly (Rom. xvi. 20). Victory is certain, but the fight goes on.
When Moses discerned that there was to be perpetual conflict between Israel. and Arnalek; he built an altar and called it " Jehovah-nissi," rightly divining that Israel could by no means glorify God in the future struggle, unless their eyes were fixed upon the Lord throughout the conflict. Even so, the believer that would do, battle with the enemy, to the honour and glory of God, can only perform this while his, eye& are fixed upon the Captain of his salvation: thus only can he:" war a good warfare."
"During Paul's first visit to Philippi, he encountered most violent opposition. After he and Silas had been severely beaten' with rods, they were cast, into the. inner prison and the cruel jailor made their feet. 'fast. in the stocks. The enemy had done his utmost, but he was utterly powerless to accomplish' one thing, viz., to prevent God's servants from fixing their eyes upon their. Lord. In spite of all his efforts, they ceased not to count upon God. They prayed, and sang hymns to God, until, without any effort of their own, God wrought their complete. deliverance: even the jailor received. blessing; and their enemies were completely foiled and humiliated (Acts xvi. 22-40).
Had not Paul fought a good fight at Philippi? But when, by the Spirit, he wrote to encourage and. strengthen those beloved Philippians, while they also had to endure the "same conflict" which they had seen. in him, he did not set before them his own good. example. He would not rear a " Paul-nissi!" Others of the apostles had already proved themselves " strong in the Lord;• and in the power of his might." He did not refer to either of them. A " Peter-nissi," or a John-nissi " would have proved a fruitful source. of weakness and trouble, rather than of strength. (r Cor. iii. 3, 4).
In order that the saints at Philippi might not be disheartened, because to them it was " given" to suffer for Christ's sake; that they might not be terrified by their adversaries, but, in the conflict, successfully '" withstand"—yea, " overcome"—all that were arrayed against them, the apostle pointed them simply and only to Him' who " became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
Israel at Rephidim beheld an altar; but the Christian warrior is privileged to behold, by faith, a Divine Person, and to adore and worship as he fearlessly exclaims, " Jehovah-Jesus-nissi! "
As by the Spirit they spoke or wrote, the apostles never wearied of pointing' believers simply to Jehovah-Jesus. They preached not themselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord: sincerely desiring every saint of God to look " off unto Jesus."
Can we sing with the Psalmist—" Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord? " Are our eyes continually fixed simply and only upon Him whose actions furnish us with the only example of perfect obedience—obedience unto death? Upon Him " who fought the fight alone," and defeated our adversary, single-handed? He glorified God throughout the conflict; He finished the work which the Father gave Him to do, and is now seated " on the right hand of the Majesty on high; " where, by faith, we now behold Him " crowned with glory and honour."
He has already "brought to nought him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; " " He has led captivity captive; " what if He had, at the same moment, crushed the serpent, and thus, at one blow, brought all conflict to an end? If He had done this, we should never have had an opportunity to " fight the good fight." We never could have been associated with Himself in conflict.