The Christian’s Redemption, Guidance, and Habitation
Posted by Curt Wildy on September 23, 2010
The Christian’s Redemption,
Guidance, and Habitation
By John Bloomfield,
Minister of Meard’s Court, Dean Street, SOHO (UK), published in July, 1859.
“Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed : thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation.” Exodus xv. 13.
In this chapter we have the magnificent song which was sung by the Israelites, in consequence of the wonderful deliverance that was accomplished by God for them, in the land of their captivity. It was sung in relation to that splendid redemption which was by God effected, and that was a deliverance worthy of such a song. It is a sublime song, and the people sung it with gratitude, finding God was on their side—that he triumphed gloriously, working wonders, that they might serve him. It is the oldest song we have on record, its style is magnificent! its imagery is impressive, and it is worthy of the occasion on which it was sung ! This song is also the type of a song yet to be sung in relation to the triumphs of the gospel; for the gospel is yet to work triumphs which it has not yet attained. The victories and history of the Israelites furnish us with many lessons, which are both interesting and instructive, relating to the ways of man and the mind of God. We see a great deal here developed of the mind and heart of the long-suffering and faithfulness of our covenant God. The bondage of the people of the Israelites, was a type of the darker bondage ; and misery of sin, out of which all the ransomed of the Lord will eventually be brought, and the pathway in which the Israelites walked—the scorpions and serpents which they met with in the wilderness—were also to set forth the dangers to which the children of God are exposed from the enemy; and the deliverance of the Israelites teaches us our own inability to battle with the enemy of our souls.
But there is a great deal more to learn from the dealings of God with his people, though these dealings may be characterised by severity; but, still it was the severity of love. The father may be severe, but it often is because he loves his child. So with the dealings of God with his ancient people, some think God was severe, but it was the severity of faithfulness, the severity of everlasting love. He led them forth in mercy : it was in mercy he raised up Moses to lead them forth; it was in mercy, while there were in the houses of the Egyptians terror and death, there were in the houses of the Israelites joy and peace ; it was in mercy that God brought them through the Red Sea ; it was in mercy the water flowed from the rock; and it was in mercy the Lord supplied, with a liberal hand, their necessities in the wilderness.
And I ask, was it not in mercy the grace of God reached us ? Destroying the darkness and enmity of our hearts, and bringing us to follow the Lord, and to serve him ? Was it not in mercy God brought us out of the darkness of sin, and shone into our hearts rays of the magnificent glory of the mediation of Jesus Christ ? Is it not a mercy that he made our eyes over-flow with Godly sorrow ? Is it not a mercy our hard hearts were broken before God ? Is it not a mercy that our hearts are disposed to seek and serve Jesus ? Yes, it is in mercy God hath supplied our necessities: it is in mercy if in the dealings of God, he hath given us the wine of astonishment to drink; it is in mercy he teaches us terrible things in righteousness, therefore, though we may think these things severe, it is the severity of love.
Let us first notice in our text the redemption spoken of; secondly, the guidance; and thirdly, the habitation.
I. We propose to notice the Redemption Of The People. Redemption means deliverance ; there is a redemption by power, and there is a redemption by price. There was a redemption wrought for the ancient Israelites, and there is also a redemption wrought by Christ; redemption through blood, ” But by his own blood he entered into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” Redemption originated not with man, not with angels, but with God—God saw all the reasons of his own actions in himself. He never created the world at the bidding of any spirit, he never afflicted people with plagues, or wrought deliverances for nations, but for his own reasons. The deliverances he wrought for the Israelites were types of a nobler and better deliverance that was to be effected by Jesus Christ.
I want to show that the redemption of the people originated with God; and this shows it was effected by God’s own method, and also that this redemption is unto God himself.
Who saw the Israelites in captivity and had compassion on them ? Whose ear was open to their cry ? Who came down to deliver them ? Whose heart yearned over their sorrows? In whose arm was the power to redeem ?
We say this redemption originated with God, and was planned before the people went into captivity. Joseph prophesied of this redemption, saying, ” Ye shall carry up my bones from hence.” And not one was left, for his bones were taken from the strange land, indicating also his brethren should not be left there, corresponding with the following passage, ” There shall not an hoof be left behind.” With whom then did redemption originate ? It was too good to come from man, it was too majestic for the mind of an angel. It originated with God, with the end and aim to deliver men from the condition of slavery and death, into which they had fallen, under the curse of a broken law, that men may be delivered from punishment hereafter, and at last, admitted into the presence of the Most High. All the schemes of philosophy have failed to deliver men from the withering curse of God’s law. It is true, education will do much to raise man, the study of arts and sciences and giving a religious training; but these will never touch the heart, that is like a nether millstone for hardness and as unimpressible; these never scattered the dark clouds of enmity against God, or gave one spark of spiritual light to the sin-darkened soul. But salvation did not originate with angels ; they admired the scheme as it is displayed in wisdom’s glorious plan. The scheme of salvation by the blood of Christ, by the death, incarnation, and humiliation of the Saviour, is God-like in its power; it was contrived by infinite wisdom, and is the developement of the heart of infinite love. If that could fail, it would be the failure of God, it would bring darkness in heaven, and weeping among the ransomed there ; and there would be joy in hell for ever and ever.
It is a redemption effected by God’s own method. How did he deliver the Israelites ? by bringing a plague, by dividing the Red Sea, by making a road for them to pass through in perfect safety. When God created the world, it was created majestically; when God created man out of the dust of the earth, he did it like a God; and when the body of man was formed, God breathed into it by his power, and it became a living soul. This was like a God, there was a terrible majesty in this sublimity; but it all fails to contrast for a moment with the work of redemption, effected by the Mediator at the price of his most precious blood. It was a redemption effected by God’s own method, and the people were redeemed unto God’s service. Moses said, ’ Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness.’ They were redeemed unto God’s service, to God s provision, to God’s presence, and to God’s glory. And is it not so with all that are redeemed by the precious blood of Christ ? are they not redeemed from the service of sin ? from the lust of the flesh ? from the powers and service of the devil ? We are received, through mighty grace, to the service of God, to a newness of life, to live a live of faith; in hope, that by and bye, we shall serve the Lord perfectly for ever and ever. Satan may suggest that we may never serve God; sin may and will disturb our peace; and our doubts and fears may say, we shall never serve the Lord ; but Jesus says, ye shall serve me here, ye shall serve me in love, ye shall serve, though imperfectly now, but yonder ye shall serve the Lord in the Mediator’s presence with fulness of heart. We shall be redeemed unto the provisions of God : God gave his people provision in the wilderness, no people were ever supplied like the Israelites, they were fed with bread from heaven, by the special interposition of divine power; they were refreshed with water from the rook; they were clad in clothes that should not wax old, nor their shoes wear out. Ah, believer, thou hast a better Rock, the ‘Rock Christ Jesus!’ Better bread, ‘the bread of eternal life!’ A better garment, clothed in the garment of salvation; Better shoes, ‘shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.’
II. We will now dwell for a moment or two, upon the Guidance ; ‘ Thou hast guided them in thy strength.’ We might think we could have guided them a nearer way, but perhaps we should have lost them all in the sands of the barren desert. Even in our own cases, we often think this is wrong, and the other wrong: if in the land of prosperity, that is, we think, the right way; but God suffers his people to be tried, that be may test to their minds (not to his) the reality of their religion, and the purity of their love. ” He guided them by his strength :” by the strength of his love, by the strength of his faithfulness and wisdom. Love will bear much for its object; had not God loved them I am sure he would have been tired of them before he brought them out of the wilderness.
And, my hearers, had not God loved us, had not his love been like himself, without variation, he would most assuredly have forsaken us long ago. And where God loves, he throws worth into the object of his love ; in the face of all our follies, he loves us with a love that many waters cannot quench. Ah, says some trembling child of God, if God would but whisper into my soul, ‘ I have loved thee with an everlasting love;’ my doubts would at once give up the ghost, I should then believe my soul would share in the blessedness beyond the grave. God, my friends, loved us before we were sinners, loved us in the fall, and brought us out: though we are poor, this love maketh rich ; though ragged, love weaves a robe; though homeless, love provides an everlasting dwelling with the eternal God.
III. Lastly, the Habitation. God dwells in three ways with his people: first, through the priesthood of his Son ; hence, it is said, ‘ It pleased the father that in him should dwell all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.’ Christ was the visible display of the invisible God : the manifestation of the sublime splendour of the Divine Majesty.
Then God dwells in his church on earth, as he dwelt with his people at Jerusalem,—” Here will I dwell with that man that humbleth himself and trembleth at my word.”
Then God guideth them ‘ unto his holy habitation.’ God first brings them to Christ, to seek for mercy at the cross ; he then brings them to his church, (not to his church first, as many would now do) but first, they are brought to Christ, and then they give themselves to Christ’s church below. And Christ will bring all his people to himself; do you think he will give you to sip of heavenly pleasures, and not take you to enjoy the full fruition of glory ? Do you think he would give light and love, and then damp these rising hopes ? that is far from him. If once given to know the name of Jesus, to trust in his blood and righteoueness, you shall share with the angels in glory for ever and for ever. And what then, my hearers ? Why you shall be in the glorious presence of the Lamb! What then ? You shall sing unto him, ‘ Who hath washed us, and made us kings and priests unto God ‘ What then ?
‘ Not a wave of trouble roll,
Across thy peaceful breast.’
What then, believer ? Not a cloud shall then intervene between thee and thy Lord! What then? Not one doubt, not one fear, not one trouble then ! Oh! that this heaven may be our home, that we may be meetened for this happy state! that the Lord may keep as near him, and at last take us to be with him, for ever and ever.