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Written by S.B. Luckett   

THE GOSPEL MESSENGER 

Crawfordsville, Indiana, January 1888

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. --Psalms cxxi. 1.

There is no blessing of this tear-stained world comparable to the revelation of God's love to men, and the gift of faith to their poor hearts. Great is our poverty and desolate our state, if we can only number as our friends the frail creatures of mortality, whose breath is in their nostrils. No arm of flesh, Whether wielded by wisest kings or strongest giants, will avail in the extremities of man. No king is saved by the multitude of an host; no man delivered by much strength. A horse is a vain thing for safety, and chariots have lost their occupants in the mighty deep. No treasures of this earth will endure the fire of God's crucible. Ships go down and armies perish before the Almighty's breath, and before the requirements of his justice, & all nations become as the dust of the balance, and guilt-stricken souls tremble as the topmost bough before the storm. Then there is need of substantial help. Tempests must pour their fury upon the earth's wide surface, and earthquakes shake its hidden depths. Pestilence, and war, and famine hang over its course, and the great silent reaper will never cease to use his glittering blade. Cursed tins been this earthly planet, and full of sorrow, since man put forth his hand in disobedience, and thorn and thistles and the sweat of labor mark the footsteps of every generation. Disease and death, pain, misery and woe, blanched cheeks, trembling knees and failing hearts—is not the world full of them since God called sinners to account? but O, my friends, these afflictions, the heritage of woe common to all men, are but parts of his ways in rebuking sin. The deep thunder of his power who can know, when in the majesty of his throne he comes into the hearts of men, and by his mighty spirit convinces them of all their ungodly deeds, when indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish comes upon the convicted soul of Jew, Gentile and Barbarian ? When the day cometh that shall burn as an oven; the great and terrible day of the Lord, when he shall sit as a refiner’s fire and a purifier of silver; who may abide in such a day, when there stands before the condemned sinner the wine press of the fierceness and wrath of the Almighty God? Who shall be able to stand when God, as a consuming fire, shall declare that the day of vengeance is in his heart, and he shall bid the sword of divine justice awake and vindicate the honor of his throne?

Surely when men shall come to know the exceeding sinfulness of sin--when they realize the majesty of God's insulted law, and find themselves transgressors in his sight--when the heart is smitten and the soul crushed under the burden of indignation—when the strength of man is brought down to the earth—when the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins of men, and they are compassed with gall and travail, surely there will be a wailing cry of distress, a lifting of the eyes for help, and blessed be the God of mercy, this cry will not be lost upon the winds. The longed-for help will come; it will come in time to save, and with power to answer the utmost need. That this is so, we have only to consider the expression drawn from the inspiring words of David, the man of God and representative of godly men: I will lift up mine eyes to the hills from whence cometh my help. What a sweet and grateful song was this from a Christian heart! What an abiding trust in the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings he was brought to trust. Could any language better demonstrate a living principle of faith? and wonderful to say, it reveals the strength and boldness of this implanted principle no less than its humility. There is here shown no weak and wavering trust in the arm of the Lord. Having found the true anchoring place of a helpless soul, the redeemed cannot turn again to the quicksands of human strength. That has ever proved a thorn-hedge to lean upon, and now the believer, through evil as well as good report, must trust in the hope of Israel. With this faith in his heart he can say, "though he slay me, I will trust in him; though the fig tree and the vine forget to blossom; though olives fail and fields are barren; though the flocks be cut off and the stalls are empty, yet will I rejoice in God; yea, though I walk through the very valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. I will lift up mine eyes to the hills from whence cometh my help." O, what confidence can faith impart! Blessings may linger, but no delay can dissipate this faith. Adversities may come, but cannot destroy it. Though this help may be tardy he will wait; though it be not in view, he will lift up his eyes to the hills from whence it cometh. His faith is able to remove mountains, and he knows that blessings will come. Though strong this faith, it is not arrogant; rather, it is lowly and unassuming. It is abiding but not clamorous. Though strong as the lasting hills, it is gentle as the dews of heaven. Though but a little smoking flax, it will not be quenched till it laughs in victory. A bruised reed, it will rise up from storms that overthrow the cedars of Lebanon. If the question is asked, "where is boasting?" in the sense of trusting in human strength, it cannot be found in the children's faith. It does not parade its prayers, and fastings, and tithes, as a plea before the Lord. It says not to companions, stand aside, for I am holier than thou. It boasts not of being free from sin these many years. It never claims to move the arm that moves the world. It does not say, I will command this help to appear; it does not say that I will lift up my right arm and bring this help. O, no; its words are, I will lift up mine eyes to the hills; just lift the eyes. A poor Christian must this be, in the world's esteem, who speaks of looking away to the hills for help; but O, what a strong believer, to declare that this help cometh. Say those who have their own bread to eat, their own apparel to .put on, who even have help to spare the Lord: What is this? what can there be in a look? Well, go and ask the penitent and weeping Peter, when Jesus looked such anguish into his soul; ask the poor, bitten, dying Hebrews who looked upon the typical serpent in the wilderness and found it to be life to their souls. Ask the ends of the earth, who, at the Lord's command, have looked to God's lifted Son and found the blessing of redemption.

I will lift up mine eyes to the hills from whence cometh my. help. What and where are the hills to which distressed and needy souls would look for help? They cannot be the hills and high places and green trees where incense was burned to Baalim, and heathen altars reared. It was not to Ararat this look was given, whose summit God prepared for the floating ark when he remembered Noah. That place was of interest as a door of hope to re-people a ruined world, but no help springs from thence to cleanse the guilty soul. It was not to lonely Nebo the pilgrim looked, the mountain that gave to Moses a pleasing sight of the goodly land, the historic spot from whence the great law-giver was gathered to his fathers' in the sleeping tomb. The work of the school master must be supplemented by lessons from the throne of God. The help the poor soul now desires must be found far down the stream of time from the grave of Moses. Neither was it to Sinai's brow—that hill of the law, whose craggy heights loom up above the Arabian wilderness, that David desired to lift his eyes, for out of this fearful mountain, that burned with fire and shook with tempest, is heard the voice of terror:

"And justice cried, with frowning face,

This mountain is no hiding place."

My help, says every spiritual, sin-smitten David, comes from other hills than these,

"I cannot satisfy the law,

Nor hope nor comfort from it draw,"

I am without strength, and am sore wounded and undone; I must seek more fruitful hills than. these, for it is no common help I need, and blessed be the Lord Almighty, who made heaven and earth, there is a hill whose every step is consecrated ground. Up its ascending heights 'there once was led with base malefactors, One who was able to help and mighty to save, and it is to him and his marvelous work on Calvary's sacred brow, my faith would look. Never did ensanguined field witness such tragic scenes as transpired on this chosen spot of Israel's redemption. Never did warrior meet with such foes as when the Captain of Salvation fought the battle of deliverance, with garments rolled in blood. O, to this hill, this hill of the Lord—let my faith ascend, let mine eyes be lifted up; for he hath a sacrifice in this mountain, and the time has come. The Lamb, in purpose slain ere time began, cometh up from Edom with dyed garments from Bozrah to tread the winepress alone, and stain his raiment with this Idumaean slaughter. What a culminating hour was this! It seemed to be the day for which all time was made. The Son of God is there to offer himself, without, spot, to God. He is there to put, away sin by the sacrifice of himself; to magnify the law and make it honorable; to meet the long-gathering storm of righteous vengeance; to receive the stroke to sinners due; to restore that which he took not away; when the sword of the Lord was bathed, as it were, in heaven, and atonement made for the heirs of promise; when the glorious sufferer should see of the travail of his soul, and should be satisfied; when the pen of eternal justice should inscribe upon the volume of the book that God's will is done; that reconciliation is made by his priceless death; that salvation's work is finished; and that all the house of the true Israel shall be justified and glory in the righteousness and strength of the all-Prevailing Lamb of God who taketh away their sins; through whose stripes they are healed, and by whom they are redeemed from all iniquity to serve the living God.

Well may David lift up his eyes to Calvary for help, for it is there alone the free gift of grace hath abounded unto many, and it is alone through the intrinsic holiness and virtue of the offering on that sacred mount that any poor soul shall be saved from wrath, or made to forsake sin’s destructive way. It is from Calvary, and all it represents, that help cometh to every sin-sick, heavy laden Soul.

But the text says: I will lift up mine eyes to the hills. And so there must be another hill to Christians dear; another mountain interwoven with our Redeemer's history--a chosen spot bearing some conspicuous part in the mission of him who came to tread for awhile these earthly shores, and here work out the mystery of godliness, being seen of angels, believed on in the world and received up into glory. We have already considered the tragic scenes that. have invested Calvary with such transcendent interest to perishing sinners and enriched it with hope and help for dying men. It was there our Lord and great Redeemer came to die, and there he came to conquer death and destroy the grave. It was there he died and gave up the ghost, and there he was buried to rise again. "Now, in the place where he was crucified was a garden, and in the garden a new sepulcher, wherein was never man yet laid," and there they laid our dead Immanuel. He had proven himself equal to the test of love on the agonizing cross; will he now be able to dethrone the monster Death and spoil the tomb? O, ye who doubt the glorious resurrection of our Lord, and consequently the resurrection of his redeemed, behold the issue; come to the new sepulcher on the appointed morn and see if it be possible that he be holden by death. Death had stilled the warm current of his blood; the tomb had received his lifeless form, and the iron-hearted mob had demanded a great stone, an armed guard, and the king's seal to keep him there. "Ye have a watch; go your way; make it as sure as you can." What excessive caution and unreasonable efforts to secure one they had already killed. And so they labored, but of what avail this striving of the potsherds in the great decisive hour so close at hand? The great stone, though bearing Pilate's seal, was as powerless to bind as a scarlet thread. It was rolled away to become a chair of state for the Lord's angel to sit upon, who, as a new and stronger guard, had superseded the once defiant soldiers who now, Romans as they were, fell trembling back to the state of death vacated by our rising Lord. Poor, presumptuous clay, they became as dead men before the blistering powers of Immanuel's angel, whose countenance was like lightning, and Whose raiment was white as snow. And what of our glorious Lord? Come see his empty tomb, and say if he has not raised again the temple of his body. Hear the angel's challenge, why seek ye the living among the dead? He has verified his own decree: O death, I will be thy plague; O grave, I will be thy destruction. His words spoken in Galilee are come to pass; He is risen and is alive forevermore, and because he lives, every one of his dying saints shall live again in the courts of unfading bliss. And now, having destroyed the last enemy, which is death, the Prince of life must be received into these fields of glory until the restitution of all things.

The wonderful scenes in the great spiritual drama of man's redemption, which was enacted, as we have seen, on Calvary, are to be concluded and confirmed on another mountain. Having loved his own, he loved them to the end. Having died for their sins, and risen for their justification, there yet remains the last grand scene of this heavenly mystery which closes with his being received up into glory.

There was a mountain hard by Jerusalem that Jesus loved, and to its familiar haunts it was often his wont to go. There, deep in the olive's shade, or reclining on grassy slopes, he communed with his uncultured band, imparting such lessons and giving such comfort as might make the hearts of kings to leap for joy. Along these wooded hills his kingly word has revealed such power as could only emenate from the throne of the most high God. It was there be wept with the bereaved and. broken-hearted, and there he called the dead to life again. It was from this mountain he sent disciples to find the colt tied,' whereon never man sat, that he might ride into Jerusalem to visit the temple and see how it was profaned by the demon of money; and sitting on this same mountain side, he told his disciples how there hung over this beautiful temple an awful and complete destruction, and declared what fearful calamities were determined upon the degenerate Jewish race. And when, with his chosen ones, he had partaken of the last sad supper, full though it were of mystical meaning, and when they had sung their last recorded hymn, it was to this mountain they went out to talk of a smitten Shepherd and a scattered flock. It was here, while the dews fell, and the night went on, he talked of the trying ordeal just at hand, and alone with the Father plead and mourned the bitter cup suspended before his lips. Yes, it was dear Olivet, or Mount. of Olives, that witnessed such scenes as might make angels weep and heaven rejoice. Centuries before, the far-seeing prophet had declared that in the gospel day His feet--the feet of our Lord--should stand on the Mount of Olives, and it was to this mountain side he would at the last lead his witnesses; that they might, in the midst of associations dear to all, terminate the happiest companionship ever known on earth. It was here his last act was performed, and that was to bless, with lifted hands, his little flock, and while he yet blessed them, his waiting chariot—a burnished cloud of heaven received him, and before their steadfast gaze his beloved form disappeared in its flight to the glory world.

To such a hill then, as this. so fruitful of tender recollections, so dear to the friend of sinners, so honored by his presence and his power, so rich with exhibitions of his piety and his love, his weary, sin-burdened people may lift up their eyes, knowing that he who so often placed the seal of his divinity on Olivet for the sake of a handful of followers, meant it for encouragement and help to his pilgrim saints till time shall end. It was on this mountain his feet last pressed the earthly soil, here was his last deed of blessing done, his last words uttered in the ears of men. No wonder these bereaved disciples stood and gazed steadfastly into heaven as if their lives were going away; as if they would gaze forever; as if they had forgotten his sweet words, "Let not your hearts be troubled, I go to prepare a place for you." And this mountain, with a diadem more glorious than its crown of olives, was to reverberate with words more musical than harps of the invisible world. White robed angels poured the balm of joy into the hearts of these men of Galilee, and their words float down to us, and down the unfolding years till another commissioned angel shall stand with one foot upon the sea and the other upon the earth, and declare, iii the name of Him who made all things, that time should be no longer. "This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." This "same Jesus," the Son of man, who ascended in clouds, shall by and by be seen coming "in like manner," that is, m the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory; come to be glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe. Wonderful day! when the blessed Lord, who once rode the untamed colt into Jerusalem, shall ride in his excellency upon the sky; shall bow the heavens and come down with a shout, with the voice of archangel and the trump of God to raise his sleeping saints and bear them home. Wonderful day! when he who once had not where to lay his head, shall have crowns and kingdoms to bestow; when he who had to ask of the fishes of the sea the tribute money demanded by the kings of the earth, shall be so exalted that at his name every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that "this same Jesus" is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

Then to these hills, figuratively, the heavy laden sons of men may lift up their eyes for needed help; not to worship the mountains, which were but as altars, but to trust in the mediatorial work that there was done. It is the gift and sacrifice whose innocence and righteousness are ours vicariously, the purifying fire to consume our sins, where we would look to Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant, to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better things than that of Abel, we look for pardon and the remission of our sins, for justifying righteousness, and for a clear, unsullied title to the inheritance of the saints in light. I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help.

Crawfordsville, Ind.

S.B.LUCKET.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 10 September 2006 )
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