"And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left."—Isa. 30:21.
HOW often in the midst of life's perplexities and trials have weary hearts felt the need of wise direction and counsel. The counsel sought, however, is not always wise: sometimes it is the counsel of the ungodly and sinners; and sometimes that of the immature and inexperienced, and the results of such counsel are unsatisfactory and often disastrous, and the way pursued in consequence one of trouble and darkness. Such is the way of the world; for it is not in the power of man to direct his own steps. (Jer. 10:23.) But not so is the way of the child of God. He has learned where to seek counsel, and the counsel of wisdom is always ready to come to his aid.
The Prophet describes it as a word, a voice, "behind thee." It is not a voice before thee, of some new theology—of Evolution, or Spiritism, or Christian Science, or other human philosophy—but it is the old theology with all its blessed doctrines of hope through Christ our Redeemer and Lord, our Teacher, our Example and our Leader. It is the voice of the Lord uttered through his inspired apostles and prophets from two to four thousand years ago. It is to this Word of divine inspiration, then, that the prophet would direct the attention of all those desiring wise counsel; and in that Word we hear the voice of God, saying, "This is the way, walk ye in it." If we have come to the forks of the road—to some crisis in our experience—and know not whether to turn to the right or to the left, we should stop at once and listen to the voice. Or, in other words, we should turn at once to the Word of the Lord, and by pondering its precepts and principles and its illustrations bearing on the perplexing subject, seek to learn the will of the Lord, asking also the leading of his spirit and endeavoring to bring the mind into a loving, submissive and trustful attitude. "This is the way, walk ye in it," will be the plain answer to every such inquiring heart.
These words of the Prophet were, however, addressed directly to fleshly Israel, though their application to spiritual Israel is none the less forcible. As applied to them it foretells the return of divine favor to them when the long season of their chastisement and blindness shall be at an end. Then, under the Millennial reign of Christ, the blind eyes shall be opened and the deaf ears shall be unstopped and the voice of the whole inspired Word, then made clear to their understanding, will direct them in the right ways of the Lord; for the books (the law and the prophets and the New Testament Scriptures) shall be opened, and they shall be judged according to their teaching.—Rev. 20:12.
The way then indicated to fleshly Israel and to all the world will be a grand highway of holiness; and the ransomed of the Lord shall go up thereon with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads (Isa. 35:10); and the end of that way will be life and peace,—salvation to the uttermost, from sin and death, and complete restitution to human perfection.
While the way of life will be made very clear to Israel and the world in the age to come, it is made none the less clear now to the children of God who walk by faith and not by sight. It is shown to be (1) a way of faith; and those who now walk by faith are the true seed of Abraham (Rom. 4:12-16), to whom pertain the covenant and the exceeding great and precious promises in their largest fulfilment. (2) It is a way of entire consecration to God, even unto death, which implies the burial of one's own will into the will of God—the presenting of self a living sacrifice.
In harmony with these two principles—of faith and consecration—we are taught to walk, in newness of life, not after the flesh, but after the spirit; not as other Gentiles walk in the vanity of their mind, but circumspectly and not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time; and not by sight, but by faith.—Rom. 6:4; 8:1; Eph. 4:17,18; 5:15,16; 2 Cor. 5:7.
By faith and consecration we have come into a new life as spiritual sons of God, and yet we have this treasure in earthen vessels and the new life is only in its embryo [R1753 : page 7] condition. Hence the necessity of walking after the spiritual instincts of the new nature and keeping down the stronger impulses of the old nature. This is what it is to walk in newness of life, after the spirit, and not after the flesh. To walk after the flesh is to pursue its hopes, aims and ambitions; and since the flesh and the spirit are at war one with the other, it is impossible to maintain the life of both. Therefore, it is written, "If ye [spirit-begotten ones] live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye, through the spirit do mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body, ye shall live."—Rom. 8:13.
While the Word of the Lord speaks thus on general principles as to the way in which we should walk, we are also bidden to come with all the minor affairs of life, to inquire of these divine oracles. If we know not whether to turn to the right or to the left, we come and find the promise, "Commit thy way unto the Lord, and he will direct thy steps." Or, if heavy laden, we find the promise, "Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Thus the voice behind brings comfort, peace and rest in the midst of all life's cares and trials, if we walk in obedience to its principles and precepts. "And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God."
UNANSWERED yet, the prayer your lips have pleaded
In agony of heart these many years?
Does faith begin to fail, is hope declining,
And think you all in vain those falling tears?
Say not the Father has not heard your prayer,
You shall have your desire, sometime, somewhere!
Tho' when you first presented
This one petition at the Father's throne,
It seemed you could not wait the time of asking,
So anxious was your heart to have it done:
If years have passed since then, do not despair;
For God will answer you sometime, somewhere.
But you are not unheeded;
The promises of God forever stand;
To him our days and years alike are equal.
Have faith in God! It is your Lord's command.
Hold on to Jacob's angel, and your prayer
Shall bring a blessing down sometime, somewhere.
Nay, do not say unanswered;
Perhaps your part is not yet wholly done.
The work began when first your prayer was uttered;
And God will finish what he has begun.
Keep incense burning at the shrine of prayer,
And glory shall descend, sometime, somewhere.
Faith cannot be unanswered;
Her feet are firmly planted on the Rock.
Amid the wildest storms she stands undaunted,
Nor quails before the loudest thunder shock.
She knows Omnipotence has heard her prayer,
And cries, "It shall be done," sometime, somewhere.
—Mrs. F. G. Burroughs.