by A. W. Pink
"He found him in a desert land and in the waste howling wilderness. He led him about, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of his eye." (Deuteronomy 32:10)
In the previous verse we have the amazing statement that the Lord's "portion" is His people, and that there may be no misunderstanding, the same truth is expressed in another form: "Jacob is the lot of his inheritance." Here in our text we learn something of the pains which God takes to secure His heritage. There are four things to be noted and feasted upon.
1. Jehovah FINDING His people. "He found him in a desert land." It needs hardly to be said that the word "found" necessarily implies a "search." Here then we have presented to our view the amazing spectacle of a seeking God! Sin came in between the creature and the Creator, causing alienation and separation. Not only so, but, as the result of the Fall, every human being enters this world with a mind that is "enmity against God." Consequently, there is none who seeks after God. Therefore, God, in His marvelous condescension and grace, becomes the Seeker.
The word "found" not only implies a search but, when we consider the sinful character and unworthiness of the objects of His search, it also tells of the love of the Seeker. The great God becomes the Seeker because He set His heart upon those whom He marked out to be the recipients of His sovereign favors. God had set His heart upon Abraham, and therefore did He seek and find him amid the heathen idolaters in Ur of Chaldea. God set His heart upon Jacob, and therefore did He seek out and find him as a fugitive from his brother's vengeance, when he lay asleep on the bare earth. So too it was because He had loved Moses with an everlasting love that the Lord sought out and found him in Midian, at "the backside of the desert." Equally true is this with every real Christian living in the world today: "I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me" (Romans 10:20).
Has God "found" you? To help you answer this question, ponder the remainder of the first clause of our text: "He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness." Is that how this world appears unto you? Do you find everything under the sun only "vanity and vexation of spirit?" Are you made to groan daily at what you witness on every hand? Do you find that the world furnishes nothing to satisfy the heart, yes nothing to even minister to it? Is the world, really, a "waste howling wilderness" to you?
Let a second test be applied: when God truly "finds" one of His own He reveals Himself. He imparts to the soul a realization of His sovereign majesty, His awesome power, His ineffable holiness, His wondrous mercy. Has He thus made Himself known unto you? Has He given you, in any measure, a vision of His Divine glory, His sovereign grace, His wondrous love? Has He? "This is life eternal, that they might know You, the One true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent" (John 17:3).
Here is a third test: If God has revealed Himself, He has given you a sight of yourself, for in His light we "see light." A most humbling, painful, and never to be forgotten experience this is. When God was revealed to Abraham, he said, "I am but dust and ashes" (Gen. 18:27). When He was revealed to Isaiah, the prophet said, "Woe is me for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips" (Isaiah 6:5). When God revealed Himself to Job, he said, "I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:6)—note, not merely I abhor my wicked ways, but my vile self. Is this your experience, my reader? Have you discovered your depravity and lost condition? Have you found there is not a single good thing in you? Have you seen yourself to be fit for and deserving only of hell? Have you, truly? Then that is good evidence, yes, it is proof positive that the Lord God has "found" you.
2. Jehovah LEADING His People. "He led him about." The "finding" is not the end, but only the beginning of God's dealings with His own. Having found him, He remains never more to leave him. Now that He has found His wandering child He teaches him to walk in the Narrow Way. There is a beautiful word on God "leading" in Hosea 11:3: "I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms." Just as a fond mother takes her little one, whose feet are yet too weak and untrained to walk alone, so the Lord takes His people by their arms and leads them in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Such is His promise: "He will keep the feet of His saints" (1 Sam. 2:9). There is a threefold "leading" of the Lord:
EVANGELICAL. The Lord Jesus declared, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father but by Me" (John 14:6). But again He said, 'No one can come to me unless the Father who sent Me draws him" (John 6:44). Here then is how God leads: He leads the poor sinner to Christ. Have you, my reader, been brought to the Savior? Is Christ your only hope? Are you trusting in the sufficiency of His precious blood? If so, what cause have you to praise God for having led you to His blessed Son!
DOCTRINAL. The Lord Jesus declared, "When He the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all the truth" John 16:13). We are not capable of discovering or entering into the Truth of ourselves, therefore do we have to be guided into it. "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." (Romans 8:14). It is He who makes us to lie down in the "green pastures of Scripture and who leads us beside the "still waters" of His promises. How thankful we ought to be for every ray of light which has been granted us from the lamp of God's Word.
PROVIDENTIAL. "Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the desert. By day the pillar of cloud did not cease to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take" (Neh. 9:19). Just as Jehovah led Israel of old, so today He leads us step by step through this wilderness-world. What a mercy this is. "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord and he delights in his way" (Psalm 37:23). Yes, every detail of our lives is regulated by the Most High.
All my times are in Your hand,
All events at Your command,
All must come and last and end,
As does please our Heavenly Friend.
3. God INSTRUCTING His People.
"He instructed him." So He does us. It was to instruct us that God, in His great mercy, gave us the Scriptures. He has not left us to grope our way in darkness, but has provided us with a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. Nor are we left to our own unaided powers in the study of the Word. We are supplied with an infallible Instructor. The Holy Spirit is our teacher, "You have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things . . . the anointing you have received of Him abides in you, and you need not that any man teach you" (I John 2:20, 27).
Right views of God's truth are not an intellectual attainment, but a blessing bestowed upon us by God. It is written, "a man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven" (John 3:27). No matter how legibly a letter may be written, if the recipient be blind he cannot read it. So we are told, "the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned" (I Cor. 2:14). And spiritual discernment is imparted only by the Holy Spirit.
"He instructed him." How patiently God bears with our dullness! How graciously He repeats "line upon line and precept upon precept!" Yet slow as we are, He perseveres with us, for He has promised to perfect that which concerns us (Psalm 138:8). Has He "instructed" you, my reader? Has He taught you the total depravity of man and the utter inability of the sinner to deliver himself? Has He taught you the humbling truth "You must be born again," and that regeneration is the sole work of God—man having no part or hand in it (John 1:13). Has He revealed to you the infinite value and sufficiency of the atoning sacrifice of Christ, that His blood cleanses "from all sin"? Then what cause you have to be thankful for such Divine instruction.
4. God PRESERVING His People. "He kept him as the apple of his eye." A religion of conditions, contingencies, and uncertainties is not Christianity—its technical name is Arminianism, and Arminianism is a daughter of Rome. It is that God dishonoring, Scripture-repudiating, soul-destroying system of Popery—whose father is the Devil—which prates about human merit, creature-ability, and a lot more blasphemous rubbish, and leaves its blinded dupes in the fogs and bogs of uncertainty. Christianity deals with certainties which originated in the purpose and love of an unchanging God, who when He begins a good work always completes it.
"For the Lord loves justice, and he will never abandon the godly. He will keep them safe forever" (Psalm 37:28). How blessed is this! Did Jehovah "forsake" Noah when he got drunk? No, indeed. Did He "forsake" Abraham when he lied to Abimelech? No, indeed. Did He "forsake" Moses for smiting the rock in anger? No, indeed, as His appearance on the Mount of Transfiguration abundantly proves. Did He "forsake" David when he committed those sins which ever since have given occasion for the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme? No, indeed. He led him to repentance, caused him to confess his awful wickedness, and then sent one of His servants to say, "The Lord has put away your sin."
"The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not hurt you by day, nor the moon at night. The Lord keeps you from all evil and preserves your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever." (Psalm 121:5-8). Here are the covenant verities of our faithful God: here are the sure promises of Him who cannot lie. Note there were no "if's" or perhap's, but the unconditional and unqualified declarations of the Most High God. No circumstances can ever place the true believer beyond the reach of Divine preservation. No change can alter or affect this Divine certainty. Wealth may ensnare, poverty may strip, Satan may tempt, inward corruptions may annoy, but nothing can ever destroy or lead to the destruction of a single sheep of Christ; nay, all these things only serve to display more manifestly and more gloriously the preserving hand of our God.
We "are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" (1 Peter 1:5). The rage of heathen monarchs, with their den of lions and fiery furnace, may be employed to try the faith of God's elect; but destroy them, harm them, they cannot. Oh brethren in Christ, what cause we have to praise the finding, instructing, and preserving, Triune Jehovah!
From Comfort for Christians by A. W. Pink