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was pursuing after Zeba and Zalmunna ; but they despised his pretences, and his confidence of the Lord being on his side, to deliver those two great princes into the hands of such a despicable company as he and his three hundred men, and would not own the work of God, nor afford Gideon any assistance. God proceeded in this work in a way that was exceeding cross to their pride. And they also refused to own the work, because they argued a priori; they could not believe that God would do such great things by such a despicable instrument, one of such a poor, mean family in Manasseh, and he the least in his father's house; and the company that was with him appeared very wretched, being but three hundred men, and they weak and faint.
But we see how they suffered for their folly, in not acknowledging and appearing to promote this work of God: Gideon, when he returned from the victory “took thein, and taught them with the briers and thorns of the wilderness, and beat down the tower of Penuel,” he brought down their pride and their false confidence) “and slew the men of the city,” Judg. viii. This in all probability Gideon did, as moved and directed by the angel of the Lord, that is Christ, who first called him, and sent him forth in this battle, and instructed and directed him in the whole affair.
The return of the ark of God to dwell in Zion, in the midst of the land of Israel, after it had been long absent—first in the land of the Philistines, and then in Kirjath-jearim, in the utmost borders of the land-strikingly represented the return of God to a professing people, in the spiritual tokens of bis presence after long absence from them. The ark ascending up into a mountain, typified Christ's ascension into heaven. It is evident by the Psalms that were penned on that occasion, especially the 68th Psalm, that the exceeding rejoicings of Israel on that occasion represented the joy of the church of Christ on his returning to it, after it has been in a low and dark state, to revive his work, bringing his people back, as it were, “ from Bashan, and from the depth of the sea ;"' scattering their spiritual enemies, and causing that “though they had lien among the pots, yet they should be as the wings of a dove, covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold ;” and giving the blessed tokens of his presence in his house, that his people may " see the goings of God their king in the sanctuary.” The gifts which David, with such royal bounty distributed amongst the people on that occasion, (2 Sam. vi. 18, 19. and i Chron. xvi. 2, 3.) represent spiritual blessings that Christ liberally sends down on his church, by the outpourings of his Spirit. See Psalm lxviii. 1, 3, 13, 18–24. And we have an account how that all the people, from Shihor of Egypt, even unto the entering in of Hemath,
gathered together, and appeared to join and assist in that great affair ; and that all Israel “ brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord, with shouting, and with sound of the cornet, and with trumpets, and with cymbals, making a noise with psalteries and harps," I Chron. xiii. 2, 5, and xv. 28. And not only the men, but the women of Israel, the daughters of Zion appeared, as publicly joining in the praises and rejoicings on that occasion, 2 Sam. vi. 19. But we read of one of David's wives, even Michal, Saul's daughter, whose heart was not engaged in the affair, and did not appear with others to rejoice and praise God on this occasion, but kept away, and stood at a distance, as disaffected, and disliking the management. She despised and ridiculed the transports and extraordinary manifestations of joy; and the curse that she brought upon herself by it was that of being barren to the day of her death. Let this be a warning to us, let us take heed, in this day of the bringing up of the ark of God, that, while we are in visibility and profession the spouse of the spiritual David, we do not shew ourselves to be indeed the children of false-hearted and rebellious Saul, by our standing aloof, and our not joining in the joy and praises of the day, dislikiny and despising the joys and affections of God's people because they are so high in degree, and so bring the curse of perpetual barrenness upon our souls.
Let us take heed that we be not like the son of the bondwoman, born after the flesh, that persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, and mocked at the feasting and rejoicings that were made for Isaac when he was weaned; lest we should be cast out of the family of Abraham, as he was, Gen. xxi. 8, 9. That affair contained spiritual mysteries, and was typical of things that come to pass in these days of the gospel; as is evident by the apostle's testimony, Gal. iv. 22, &c. And particularly it seems to have been typical of two things :
First, The weaning of the church from its milk of carnal ordinances, ceremonies, shadows and beggarly elements, upon the coming of Christ, and pouring out of the Spirit in the days of the apostles. The church of Christ, in the times of the Old Testament, was in its minority, even as a babe; and the apostle tells us that babes must be fed with milk, and not with strong meat: but when God weaned his church from these carnal ordinances, on the ceasing of the legal dispensation, a glorious gospel feast was provided for souls, and God fed his people with spiritual dainties, filled them with the Spirit, and gave them joy in the Holy Ghost, Ishmael in mocking at the time of Isaac's feast, by the apostle's testimony, represented the carnal Jews, the children of the literal Jerusalem, who, when they beheld the rejoicings of Christians in their spiritual and evangelical privileges, were filled with envy, deriding, con
tradicting and blaspheming, (Acts ii. 13. and chap. xii. 45. and xviii. 6.) and therefore were cast out of the family of Abraham, and out of the land of Canaan, to wander through the earth.
Secondly, This weaning of Isaac seems also to represent the conversion of sinners, which is several times represented in scripture by the weaning of a child ; as in Psalm cxxxi. and Isa. xxvij. 9: because in conversion the soul is weaned from the enjoyments of the world, which are as it were the breast of our mother earth; and is also weaned from the covenant of our first parents, which we as naturally hang upon, as a child on its mother's breast. And the great feast that Abraham made on that occasion represents the spiritual feast, the heavenly privileges, and holy joys and comforts, which God gives to souls at their conversion. Now is a time when God in a remarkable manner is bestowing the blessings of such a feast : Let every one take heed that he do not now shew himself to be the son of the bond-woman, and born after the flesh, by standing and deriding, with mocking Ishmael; lest they be cast out as he was, and it be said concerning them, “ The sons of the bond-woman shall not be heirs with the sons of the free-woman." Do not let us stumble at these things, because they are so great and extraordinary; for“ if we have run with the footmen, and they have wearied us, how shall we contend with horses ?" There is doubtless a time coming when God will accomplish things vastly greater and more extraordinary than these.
And that we may be warned not to continue doubting and unbelieving concerning this work, because of the extraordinary degree of it, and the suddenness and swiftness of the accomplishment of the great things that pertain to it; let us consider the example of the unbelieving Lord in Samaria, who could not believe so extraordinary a work of God to be accomplished so suddenly as was declared to him. The prophet Elisha foretold that the great famine in Samaria should very suddenly, even in one day, be turned into an extraordinary plenty ; but the work was too great and too sudden for him to believe: says he, “If the Lord should make windows in heaven, might this thing be?" And the curse that he brought upon himself by it was that he saw it with his eyes, and did not eat thereof, but miserably perished, and was trodden down as the mire of the streets, when others were feasting and rejoicing, 2 Kings vii.
When God redeemed his people from their Babylonish captivity, and they rebuilt Jerusalem, it was, as is universally owned, a remarkable type of the spiritual redemption of God's church; and particularly of the great deliverance of the Christian church from spiritual Babylon, and their rebuilding the spiritual Jerusalem, in the latter days; and therefore they are often spoken of as one by the prophets. And this probably
was the main reason that it was so ordered in Providence, and particularly noted in scripture, that the children of Israel on that occasion, kept the greatest feast of tabernacles that ever had been kept in Israel since the days of Joshua, when the people were first settled in Canaan. (Neh. viii. 16, 17.) For at that time happened that restoration of Israel, which had the greatest resemblance of that great restoration of the church of God, of which the feast of tabernacles was the type, of any that had been since Joshua first brought the people out of the wilderness, and settled them in the good land. But we read of some that opposed the Jews in that affair, weakened their hands, ridiculed God's people, the instruments employed in that work, despised their hopes, and made as though their confidence was little more than a shadow, and would utterly fail them: “ What do these feeble Jews ? (say they) will they fortify themselves ? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burnt ? Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall.” Let not us be in any measure like them, lest it be said to us, as Nehemiah said to them, Neh. ii. 20.“ We his servants will arise and build ; but you have no portion, nor right, nor memorial in Jerusalem.” And lest we bring Nehemiah's imprecations upon us, chap. iv. 5. “Cover not their iniquities, and let not their sin be blotted out from before thee; for they have provoked thee to anger before the builders,”
As persons will greatly expose themselves to the curse of God, by opposing, or standing at a distance, and keeping silence at such a time as this ; so for persons to arise, and readily to acknowledge God, and honour him in such a work, and cheerfully and vigorously to exert themselves to promote it, will be to put themselves much in the way of the divine blessing. What a mark of honour does God put upon those in Israel, that willingly offered themselves, and came to the help of the Lord against the mighty, when the angel of the Lord led forth his armies, and they fought from heaven against Sisera? Judg. v. 2, 9, 14—18. And what a great blessing is pronounced on Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, for her appearing on the Lord's side, and for what she did to promote that work?" Blessed above women shall Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite be, blessed shall she be above women in the tent." And what a blessing is pronounced on those which shall have any hand in the destruction of Babylon, which was the head city of the kingdom of Satan, and of the enemies of the church of God ? Psal. cxxxvii. 9. "Happy shall he be that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones." What a particular and honourable notice is taken, in the records of God's word, of those that arose and appeared as David's
helpers, to introduce him into the kingdom of Israel? 1 Chron. xi. The host of those who thus came to the help of the Lord, in that glorious revolution in Israel, by which the kingdom of that great type of the Messiah was set up in Israel, is compared to the host of God, (ver. 22.) “At that time, day by day, there came to David to help him, until it was a great host, like the host of God.” And doubtless it was intended to be a type of the host that shall appear with the spiritual David, as his helpers, when he shall come to set up his kingdom in the world ; the same host that we read of, Rev. xiv. 14. The Spirit of God then pronounced a special blessing on David's helpers, as co-workers with God, ver. 18. " Then the spirit came upon Amasai, who was chief oi' the captains, and he said, Thine are we, David, and on thy side, thou son of Jesse : Peace, peace be unto thee, and peace be to thine helpers; for thy God helpeth thee.” So we may conclude, that God will much more give his blessing to such as come to the help of the Lord, when he sets his own dear Son as king on his holy hill of Zion. They shall be received by Christ, and he will put peculiar honour upon them, as David did on those bis helpers ; as we have an account in the following words, ver. 18. " Then David received them, and made them captains of the band." It is particularly noted of those that came to David to Hebron, ready armed to the war, to turn the kingdom of Saul to him, according to the word of the Lord,
" they were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do," ver. 23 and 32. Wherein they differed from the Pharisees and other Jews, who did not come to the help of the Lord, at the time that the great Son of David appeared to set up his kingdom in the world. These Christ condemns, because they had not “understanding of those times,” Luke xii. 56. “ Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky, and of the earth ; but how is it that ye do not discern these times ?” So it will always be, when Christ remarkably appears on earth, on a design of setting up his kingdom here; many will not understand the times, nor what Israel
ought to do, and so will not come to turn about the kingdom to David.
The favourable notice that God will take of such as appear to promote the work of God, at such a time as this, may also be argued from such a very particular notice being taken in the sacred records, of those that helped in rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem, upon the return from the Babylonish captivity, Nehem. chap. iii.