By Samuel Ridout
From Gilgal to Bochim: — Changed Relationships with God
Judges 2, 3.
Our first chapter has given us an outline of the external history of the occupation, or failure in occupation, of the land. It was largely taken up with the account of various victories and occupations of the enemy's territory, gradually decreasing in completeness till at the close the conditions were reversed, and the people were driven to the mountains by their enemies.
What is to occupy us in this present portion is the inward history of the people's relationship with God, with the results of that departure of heart from Him. It is intimately connected with the previous chapter, yet has comparatively little to say as to their portion, but is occupied rather with the deeper question, of loyalty or disloyalty to God.
The whole chapter is general rather than specific, and we will find that statements are made which cover long periods of time and many occasions. The chapter in this way forms 4 sort of synopsis of the whole book, declaring principles which are afterwards worked out in detail. We will thus find several most important features which it will be for our profit to dwell upon at some length, before passing to the histories of the main portion of the book which will occupy us later on.
"And an angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim." Everything in Scripture has a meaning; and surely we must expect a meaning in connection with a name that is suggestive of so many thoughts. Gilgal is the characteristic city of the book of Joshua. After they crossed the Jordan, and came up into the land, before they conquered a single city they encamped at Gilgal; and there the Lord said they were to make them sharp knives and to be circumcised; for they had been so long in the wilderness that they had lost the very badge of discipleship to God. The people were to be circumcised, and only after that would they be ready to undertake to fight in the land.
The spiritual meaning of that is simple enough, and very plain. The river Jordan represents, just as the Red Sea, death and judgment though the Red Sea gives us death and judgment in connection with our deliverance from Egypt. It has reference to Egypt, the land we were leaving. The power and dominion of sin, represented by Pharaoh and his hosts, is broken at the Red Sea: A way is open through death and judgment, by the death and resurrection of Christ.
Now the Jordan gives us a similar thought. It suggests the death and resurrection, not from Egypt but into the land. If we are going to enter into our inheritance, we need to enter through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. But remember, the people went through dry shod; it did not cost them anything to go through the Red Sea, to get out of the land of Egypt, nor did it cost them anything to go through Jordan, to get into their inheritance.
What did it cost you to get free from the wrath of God? what did you have to pay? what did you have to give up? what did you have to do to get out from under the bondage of sin and the thraldom of Satan? Not a thing; you went through dry shod. There was that mighty sea that rolled before you, threatening to engulf you. No human power could get you to the other side of it; no human power could deliver you from that awful host of Pharaoh. What was it that set you free? Why there was a way right through; it did not cost you a single effort; you escaped, walking quietly along the bed of the sea, as if you had been walking along a highway. It was God's highway.
Let me dwell on that for the sake of any who are unsaved. The way of salvation is as simple and clear as it is possible for God to make it. It does not cost you a single good work, or good feeling. All was perfectly done by Christ. The work was finished.
You are under wrath and judgment. All the world is subject to the wrath and judgment of God because of their sins. But here is God's remedy. The Lord Jesus Christ came down from heaven to seek and to save what was lost, and He, not by His life, but by His death, has opened the way of escape for everyone that believes in Him. In the cross of Christ I see the blood provided which shelters from judgment; and in that same cross I see a way opened for me of deliverance from the power and thraldom of sin.
Look at God's open highway. Look at that simple path of salvation for you. You have to do nothing to enter in, but to take your place as a lost guilty sinner. The path through the Red Sea is not a hard one. People often say that they are not able; they are afraid they will not be able to keep on in the Christian life. That is not the point. The point is, are you willing to take the step, are you willing to accept Christ? And the moment you accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, He engages to do all for you; and He has opened the way right through. It is not hard to have deliverance from the power of an evil that is greater than Pharaoh's power without a single effort on your part.
But you say that is dangerous, it is antinomian, and some of my Christian brethren would say, you are making the path of deliverance a little too easy. Beloved, I am solemnly persuaded of this. What is it that hinders many of God's dear people, who are not delivered from the power of sin in their own souls, and who are not conscious of what it is to be set free? Why can they not take the third verse in the eighth chapter of Romans, "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death?" Think of that. Could you go to God tonight, and on your knees say to Him, "Blessed Father, I thank thee that the law of the Spirit has set me free from what held me in bondage?" Could you say it? Could you in your soul say it? Not only that you are a forgiven sinner, but a delivered saint. If you can, you will agree with me when I say that the great error that God's people make is in thinking that the path of deliverance is a hard path. The path of sin is a hard one; the bondage of the seventh of Romans is a hard bondage, but brethren, the moment that in living faith we take hold of the Word of God, we are emancipated.
Let me tell you it is an easy thing to be set free in your soul. I do not mean for a moment to say that there will not be exercise after that, nor that we must not walk softly all our days, with no confidence in the flesh. But there is a great boundary line between the bondage and thraldom of sin, and the freedom and joy of deliverance wherewith Christ sets His people free. I see that line of demarcation in the Red Sea with its dry pathway.
It does not cost you a thing. It is no question of your getting a second blessing, or your attaining to a higher life, or of your having any remarkable or peculiar experience. How many of God's dear people are occupied with experience rather than truth. What you want is simply to tread that dry path through the waters. The waters on each side over-topping our heads, ready, apparently, to engulf us. What is there in us, what power in us could for a moment withstand those over-topping waves? Ah! beloved, the hand of power that holds them back has made an easy path for us to walk through. It is a path of perfect liberty. I believe that we need in this day to sound again that ransoming shout "Thy people, Lord, are a free people." A free people, no longer in bondage to the world, no longer in bondage to sin or Satan.
But that brings us back again to Gilgal. This is no digression, but a blessed reality necessary for enjoying that of which we have been speaking. We come now back to Gilgal. How did we get there? It is a place in our inheritance into which we entered dry-shod. We look about us and everywhere we can see our title-deeds to the whole of our inheritance. What next? "Make thee sharp knives." Now we have come to something that does cost, not in any legal way, not in any way of human effort, but that which costs pride and self-exaltation and self in all its forms. The knife of God brings home to us now in a practical way the reality of that which is ours in a spiritual way. We have entered into the land; we know what deliverance is; we can say we have been set free, but if we are to walk as victors and freemen, the badge of the world has to be cut away, and only the cross of Christ can do that.
You remember how Paul in the epistle to the Galatians, the epistle of deliverance, speaks of the cross of Christ. In the first chapter, "Christ gave Himself for our sins that He might deliver us out of this present evil world;" and in the last chapter, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." In the first chapter you see the deliverance wrought for us by Him in the cross; and in the last chapter it is practically applied to us in the power of the Holy Ghost.
Dear brethren, God's people need ever to be brought to Gilgal. There is no such thing as a child of God having any power unless he has learned not merely his weakness, but death. Death having come in, the sentence of death having come upon him, he has applied it in the simplicity of obedience and faith, so that he has now no confidence in the flesh. The cross of Christ is not merely a title for him and not merely a badge of freedom, but it has become an emancipating weapon now, and he is cut loose from the power of the world, and from the energy of the flesh. How many of us know what this full deliverance practically is by the cross of Christ — soul deliverance through that which is the badge of death. You remember that they went up from Gilgal and could face Jericho without a tremor or a fear, and Jericho's walls bow before them. They could pass from Jericho back to Gilgal to gather strength there again, strength out of weakness, to go forth to Ai, to go forth to war with the cities of the land, to meet every form in which the enemy would present himself. They go forth from Gilgal and win their victory, and come back to Gilgal to enjoy its fruits and be kept in the attitude which makes fresh victories possible.
Some of us know what it is to go out from Gilgal. Do we know what it is to come back to Gilgal? Some of us can look back upon an experience that humbled us even into the very dust of death. Do you know what it is to live there? You have been on your face before God. The cross has come in in judgment. You have been down in the very dust and seen the complete condemnation of self, and then God has lifted you up, and you have gone out and won your victory in the power of the Spirit. Have you gone back to Gilgal? Have you come back to the very place of your humiliation? Have you come back and rested there, where the sentence of death was upon everything?
Our book of Judges tells us — and ah! how significant it is — God was at Gilgal, God was abiding at Gilgal. He had not moved His abiding place. He was there to meet them, the moment they would come to Him.
God still abides at Gilgal. He still abides at the place that speaks of the death of Christ as applied to us; and and if we want to know in its fullness what it is to have to do with God, we have got to do with Him at Gilgal. There is no legalism about that. There is nothing to terrify us. Oh! how sweet is the cross of Christ! It is the cross that has given you peace with God. It is the cross that we dwell upon every first-day. It is the badge of our eternal salvation. Are you afraid of the cross? You need be no more afraid of the cross for your pathway, than you are for your salvation.
But the people in Judges are not ready to meet God there. So, in His grace, the angel of the Lord comes up from Gilgal, where God is, from where, I might say, He has an appointment to meet His people, and where he is ever ready to meet them. He comes up to a far different place. Notice that little word "up." It marks the distance between Gilgal and Bochim, and shows the difference between them. The place of lowliness has been forsaken, and high ground and a lofty attitude has been assumed. Ah, it is only too easy, whether as individuals or corporately, to make this ascent. Spiritual pride and self-confidence are in it. There are knives but no bitter tears at Gilgal.
What does God have to say to a man at Gilgal? Reproach? telling him of his shortcomings? Ah! no. When a man has been broken by the cross, God does not need to break him; when a man has humbled himself in the presence of God there, God does not need to humble him. When I have judged my course and my life, God does not need to judge it for me. So at Gilgal is a place of sweet and holy communion.
But ah! if God has to leave Gilgal, if He has to meet us upon another ground, what has He got to say to us then? He has got to unroll the wretchedness of our failures and departure from Him, to tell us, He brought us out of Egypt, brought us into the land, and said He would never forget His covenant, He ever would be faithful to His people. But He says: Ye have departed from Me. Ye have served other gods. Why have ye done this? And then He goes on to tell them that He cannot bless them, that He cannot be with them in any real sense so long as they have departed from Him. He tells them that He cannot drive out their enemies from their territory. That He must leave them in wretched bondage all their life long, because they have failed to meet Him in the place that is the badge of their nothingness and of His supremacy in all things.
You see how this has led up to and brought us right into the heart of our subject, and that is why I have dwelt so long upon Gilgal. Beloved brethren, it is the lesson for the child of God to learn — it is the lesson for us individually — and I was going to say, it is more important, if possible, for us to learn collectively. There are no degrees in that which is absolutely important, but it is just as necessary for God's people in association together, to be in the place of self-judgment as it is for individual saints. In fact the two are closely united.
The failure to realize this is the reason why the Church collectively has failed so conspicuously to enter upon what God has provided for it. It is easy to see that the Church collectively has departed from Gilgal. Take the companies of God's people. Take any company you please, dear brethren, and is it an easy thing to keep them abiding in self-judgment and brokenness before God? Nay, on the contrary, the tendency is constantly to fall short, and just as we have been seeing in all the tribes that they failed to cast out the enemy fully, so here we see the reason of it. They have failed to judge themselves fully.
Let us individually get back to Gilgal, or let us at any rate get to Bochim, the place of weeping. Let it be a time of Bochim for us; where we can see the witness of God that He cannot go on blessing because we have failed so fearfully to obey His holy will. Bochim, God can meet us there. You remember a holy and blessed Bochim, of which I am almost tempted to speak, in the New Testament. It is in the seventh of Luke. There is a poor soul that has nothing but her sins to bring to Christ, and she brings them; she pours them out in hot tears, in shame and sorrow on His feet. What could He do with her? Could the Holy Son of God meet her? Ah! it is a Bochim, a weeping place, where she can take her true place and find what He is to such. If there is a sinner here tonight, who realizes that he has nothing to bring to Christ but his sins, you can come with your sins to the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will find He will meet you there. There is a sacrifice at Bochim, a sacrifice that has put sin away forever from before God's face.
That is the tale; the people have departed from God, and God is now departing from them because of their failure. But they have taken it to heart, and as a result there is a confession, and the fear of God and a sacrifice that is a pledge that God's mercy is still unchanged, and that He is ready to meet those who in lowliness turn to Him.
We go on now to the rest of the chapter, which brings out the very same truth that I have been speaking of in the first chapter. In one sense there is nothing new developed all through this chapter. You find the same history gone over, but now in its internal aspect with reference to God, rather than with reference to their inheritance. We have been seeing how they failed to get possession of what was theirs. In this we see how the like failure marked them, to hold what was God's. If I do not get what is mine in spiritual things, I will not give God what is His in spiritual things. If I fail to enjoy my portion, I will not give God His portion, and the whole second part of this first division simply tells us how God was left out of account, how the people were alienated from Him simply because there was lack of faith and obedience to follow His will in taking possession of what was their own. You say perhaps in your inmost heart, if I am not enjoying the highest kind of spiritual life, it is my own fault, it is my own loss. No, my brother, it is God's loss. He is the loser. What He craves from you is the obedience and worship of a heart which is so full of His blessing that it has got to express itself in worship and service. No, you are not the chief sufferer, not the chief loser. Our blessed God is the loser. "Will a man rob God?"
Let us look at it a little closely. "The people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua." Joshua was a man that lived in the holy presence of God. He was a man whose soul was completely taken possession of for God, and therefore it was a simple thing for him to take possession of what was his. Let God capture my soul and I will want to capture everything for Him.
Joshua represents, as we have been seeing, not only the energy of the Spirit of God making Christ our leader, but the man of faith, too, who takes hold for God in living faith. The elders and Joshua who knew God, who followed Him, held the whole nation together as long as they lived. It is a mercy when God has such persons to hold fast His saints in allegiance. But we have no Joshuas now. We were seeing that Joshua had no successors. I believe he represented the apostolic spirit in the Church. Look at the time of the apostles Paul and the other apostles held the saints together, and the Church was prevented from open and public failure by the apostolic power that was in their midst.
But the apostles all died and left no successors. The second generation of any movement is a time of failure. Israel under Joshua and the elders was faithful, outwardly at least, and living in the fear of God. But a second generation came in — people who had not seen the works of the Lord, who had got the truths from the elders at second-hand. They had not come right down to them from God, but they had learned them in an indirect way, and I might add, in an intellectual way, rather than in their hearts.
How easy it is for the second generation of any movement to have truth in the head, but not in the heart. You have all these truths on your bookshelves. You can buy them for a few pennies — precious truths as to Gilgal and these other things of which we have been speaking. But it is one thing to pay for a thing out of your pocket, and another thing to pay for it out of your soul. It is one thing to get it into your head, and another to get it into your heart. And it was one thing for Joshua and the elders, men of living personal faith, to take hold of things, and quite another for the generation that followed them to do the same thing. Ah, brethren, there was a time when the Spirit of God sounded the midnight cry, "Behold the bridegroom cometh." With what power it took hold of souls and brought them out to meet the bridegroom. How near was the glory! how dear the Lord! and how small the world!
Think what blessings the Spirit of God has revealed. A glorious Christ at God's right hand, a heavenly Church, and all the precious truths that flow from and are connected with it. It is one thing for us to talk about these precious truths, but it is quite a different thing to have them brought home, revealed to us by the Holy Ghost. The elders have gone; the first generation of this movement has passed away, and we are risen in the room of our fathers, and I ask you, and I ask myself: Has it been merely something handed down to us from faithful men, or have we had to do with God about these things? Is it between us and God? Have we been alone with Him about them? Have we been personally at Gilgal with Him about them? Or have we learned them because this or that one has held and taught them? Beloved brethren, leaders are God-given. We can bless God for them. But we cannot follow leaders save as they follow Christ. We must follow a living Christ in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.
Lot, who was not a man of faith at all, might follow Abraham wherever he went. Abraham, to whom the God of glory appeared, when he dwelt in Mesopotamia, followed that beckoning hand of glory, out from his home, his country, his kindred — everything. Why did Lot follow? Because he had his eye on Abraham. Abraham went because he had his eye upon God. Lot went because he had his eye on man. Dear friends, why are we here, in this outside place? Why are we professing to bear reproach for the name of Christ? Have we followed the beckoning hand of divine glory? or have we followed near and dear ones? Have children followed parents, husbands wives, or wives husbands? Have we followed those whom we have loved and honored in the flesh merely? Or have we followed Christ? Have we listened to the guidance of the Spirit of God, or to the guidance of men of faith? Men of faith can lead, but they cannot lead in reality except as the eye is fixed upon Christ.
Abraham goes into the land and Lot along with him. Abraham in an evil hour, when he is tried, goes down into Egypt. And where does Lot go? Down into Egypt with him. That is where the flesh takes him. You follow a man of faith, and instead of following his faith you follow him. If he goes right, you will go outwardly right, but when he goes into Egypt you will go, too. And then he comes back from Egypt by the restoring hand of God; but I do not read that God's hand was upon Lot in getting back out of Egypt. I do not read that God had to deal with Lot. In fact, I do not read that Lot had sinned and failed so grievously as Abraham did in Egypt. Lot was simply a figure who followed Abraham here and there, till at last the time comes when he cannot follow him any longer, when he has got to choose for himself just as every one of us has got to choose for himself, and Lot chose for himself. Where? Oh! where, brethren, did he go?
What will the flesh take as its choice? The fertile plains of Sodom, that is under the judging hand of God. If our faith is not a living faith, if it is a faith that we have by tradition in any sense at all, it is going to be tested sooner or later, and we have got to face the question: Where will we walk? Will it be in the path of ease? Will it be in the path that appeals to nature and natural affections? Or will it be in the lonely path of separation unto God, more and more, even as Abraham walked separately with God? That is the lesson that we can write across this second section; the people served God as long as they had a man of faith to lead them, but when the time of testing came, it showed what was in their hearts, and they departed. May God make it fresh in our souls. May He keep us from dealing with truth at second hand. May He make it a living reality to us.
But we find that this gives its character to the entire record here. It is suggested in the very burial of Joshua. You have often been reminded how Joshua's burial place in the book of Joshua is Timnath-serah, and in the book of Judges, Timnath-heres. When it was a question of the inheritance that he had entered into by faith as representing the people of God, it is Timnath-serah, "an abundant inheritance." And surely God's portion is an abundant portion. And now when it is a question of the people failing and their departure from God, what is the portion where Joshua's grave is? Timnath-heres, "a portion of clay." The abundance turned into a little handful of earth. That tells us the difference between a living faith and formal profession. Have you a portion of clay or is your heritage a goodly one? Is it the fruitful field, or the barren clay which yields no fruit for God, and no nourishment for your own soul?
But look at the next part. When Joshua dies the people depart from God; not merely do they fail to get what is theirs, but now they begin to serve Baal they serve false gods; gods of their own manufacture, gods of the nations about them. They take their thoughts of God from people who do not know God.
I have been much struck in noticing the close of what is the epistle of the Sanctuary, I might almost say, the epistle of the Lord's bosom, John's first epistle. They are the closing words of an epistle which is devoted to setting Christ and God, who is fight and love, before us. The last words are, "little children keep yourselves from idols." Tell a man with his head on the Lord's bosom, "keep yourself from idols?" Tell a man who has been walking in the light, as He is in the light to keep himself from idols? Tell a man who knows the Father and the Son to keep himself from idols? Tell a Christian to keep himself from idols? Is there any need to guard us from idols? Surely if the Spirit of God has warned us of it, there is a danger of it.
What is an idol? A man makes an idol of his business, or of the world, or a mother of her child, you may say. Quite true in a certain sense, but if you will remember, in Scripture, an idol always has to do with the religious element. It is that which appeals to the conscience, and devotion and obedience come in. Now what is an idol? When the children of Israel made an idol in the wilderness, what was it? It was called Jehovah. Aaron said, "tomorrow is a feast to Jehovah." And when he made the calf of gold, he said, "these are thy gods which brought thee out of the land of Egypt." And Aaron, poor man, was trying to link what truth he knew of God with the idolatry that was in the people's hearts. It was a mixture of two, and the thing was to appeal to the religious sentiments of the people.
Now, as I understand idolatry, whether it be for Christians or for unconverted people, it is that which appeals to the religious element in us.
Look abroad; is there any idolatry among God's people? Has there been any admixture with God's truth? Here, for instance, we are told that the people served Baalim. That means "Lords." And God's Lordship and ownership is a truth; God does own mankind. He is God over them, but oh! how many gods and lords there are, whom men have set over themselves, with some element of divine truth, but with only an element. What is it to depart from God and serve Baalim? It means when a single attribute of God is set aside and some human attribute is put in its place.
For instance, I may worship a God of power as revealed in Scripture, but if I do not add His holiness to it, I am worshiping an idol. I may worship a God of wisdom and knowledge as He is revealed in Scripture, but if I do not add to that His love and His righteousness, I have put elements in which make it idolatry for me. And so I conceive idolatry to be, not as you might say a total plunge into the darkness out of the full light, but the introduction into the light of elements of darkness. You find in one of the Psalms a description of "the idols of the heathen," which is very instructive. They have everything outwardly that speaks of wisdom and power and intelligence without reality. They have eyes but they see not, they have ears but they hear not, hands but they handle not, neither speak they through their mouth. In other words, there is much outward resemblance to that which is suggestive of power, wisdom and all that, but it has been robbed of its reality. So to serve idols, is to have the heart and the conscience under the power of that which is not a divinely revealed reality to the soul. It is not the God of Scripture, it is not the God revealed by the Holy Ghost. It has some of man's thoughts added to it, and this becomes a Baal or an idol.
What is the God that is worshiped in this city? Money you say; nay, but seriously, what is the divine conception that is held up before men in this city or in this country? Is it God with all the attributes that we have been speaking of? Is it the living God? Is it La hai roi, "the God that liveth and seeth me," that Hagar was brought face to face with? Ah, the God that men worship is an idol in this sense, that he is made up of the thoughts of men instead of the revelation of God.
A noted infidel, who was stricken down under the hand of God a few short weeks ago, had reared an imposing idol for men to worship. Was it the God of our Lord Jesus Christ? was it the God who is revealed in His Word? Nay, it was a Baal; it was a lord over man's lusts, simply being what man wanted, therefore, a false god.
Did you ever think why, in the epistle to the Romans, there is such a terrible arraignment of man's corruptions all set before us in the first chapter? There is unutterable corruption, almost inconceivable corruption, save to those who know what the heart of man is. And yet, why is this mentioned in connection with an epistle that deals with men who have the knowledge of God? I will tell you why, dear brethren. If men lose the knowledge of God, if they depart from Him, if they corrupt God, they will corrupt themselves. God gave them over to a reprobate mind because they had corrupted Him, and did not like to retain Him in their knowledge. That is the reason why all the unutterable vices of heathenism flourish.
Gaze with the prophet through the hole in the wall, into chambers of imagery in the idol's temple. See the almost inconceivable horrors portrayed there; human corruption in its lowest forms. You say, how could a people think that religious worship? Dear friends, it is just what all men do; they turn away from God as He is revealed to us in Christ, they make a god of their own imagination, they give free vent to the lusts of their own hearts. That is why there is so much corruption in the name of religion, and oh! it should make us tremble to think that if you or I depart from obedience to God, and begin to serve a god of our own imaginings, that God will give us up to the desires of our own corrupt hearts.
In the remaining part of the chapter you have the note of recovery. It is just the mercy of God coming in. The people depart from Him, they have set up idols of their own, the gods of the heathen about them. Then God gives them over to the enemy to come in like a flood and take possession. Then the people cry out for mercy under the terrible rule of their enemies, and God in His mercy raises up Judges to deliver them. That is how the Judges come in. First there is declension; secondly, bondage; thirdly, a cry for help. God in His mercy raising up a deliverer for the time being, who restores them temporarily, only to fall again into the same evil.
That is the lesson we are going to meet again and again in these chapters before us. I will not dwell more upon it, at present, but it is a solemn thought. God does not raise up another Joshua, He does not restore what has been broken to pieces. He raises up a judge for a specific purpose, and when the judge has done his special work and dies, the heart of the people slips off into evil, needing another deliverer, another recovery through another judge, but weaker and weaker, until it becomes well nigh total darkness.
The close of the second chapter, and the beginning of the third, show the result of this trifling with God. There is no further real conquest. Even the deliverances are but partial, and the enemy is left in the midst of the people, as pricks and thorns, both the witness of the fruit of their own unbelief, and a further test.
How true it is that the condition of things in Christendom is a witness against the Church. Little need, dear brethren, to prove that the Church has departed from its original state. The presence of moral and doctrinal evil within the limits of its profession, the spiritual wickedness only too apparent as the power of Satan, manifest the fact that we have failed to keep the compact implied in all the grace shown us.
Further, too, — and may not faith gather comfort from the thought? — the very presence of these evils in the professing Church is a test of obedience and faith. We are not to be overwhelmed by the condition about us. Faith shines brightest in the dark, and the book before us gives many examples of a faith that brightens by contrast with its surroundings. May we learn not to be disheartened by the ruin about us, but be rightly exercised. May we see God's purpose in leaving the evil about us, not that we should be engulfed by it, but conquer it. Let the very list of the spiritual foes, as given in the first four verses of the third chapter, stimulate, and not chill us. Let Caleb's perennial faith be ours, a faith that never grows old or feeble. Above all, let us keep in a true attitude of soul — abhorring all high-mindedness, having no confidence in the flesh.
I leave that word with you at the close. Let us go back to the place where we can meet God as He is, at Gilgal. The Lord lead us and keep us there.