As we send out this
first issue of this little paper in this, its forty-sixth
year, and break upon one more stage of the unknown
future, I think that I could do nothing more helpful than
to dwell upon the words of our motto for 1968:
"Ye have not passed this way heretofore"
"He knoweth the
way" (Job 23:10).
"Certainly I will
be with thee" (Exodus 3:12).
Isn't it strange how we
gravitate toward the apprehensive aspect of a
confrontation? Already I have found people who, having
seen the motto, immediately exclaim: 'Hello, what is
coming now? What are we going to have to meet in 1968?'
Perhaps heavy difficulties in the past or present do
create some predisposition to fear or apprehensiveness,
but such a reaction to the motto is to do two unfortunate
things. First, it is to detach the first part from the
remainder, and so to get out of balance; and then it is
to take the words away from their great context in the
book of Joshua. Balance and confidence will be restored
or established if we remember that it is equally a part
of the truth that, in all the uncertainties of the
future, "He knoweth the way." That is, what is
quite hidden from us is already present to the knowledge
and sight of the Lord. There is nothing that can take Him
unawares, and be an emergency.
Then there is His categorical affirmation:
"Certainly I will be with thee."
This should counter all fear. But when we have got our
poise on these assurances, there is still the wonderful
context. It is the context of a prospect, not a tragedy.
The people had reached the point where they were about to
enter upon all that for which the Lord had chosen,
called, and prepared them. All His dealings with them
were about to have their purpose realized. There may be
battles, as surely there will be. There may be more
lessons to learn, but there is going to be a mighty
victory placed right under their feet at the very
beginning. Jordan, 'overflowing its banks', is going to
be deprived of all its power to overwhelm them. 'Death
will be swallowed up in victory' before they proceed into
the future! The Lord's intention for them has
already become His realization. "I have,"
says the Lord. "You proceed on that."
There is, however, an element of warning or counsel in
the context of the words concerning the unknown way. The
ark was going ahead, but they were to put two thousand
cubits of space between it and themselves. They were to
"come not nigh it, that they might know the
way". We know the ark represented both the presence,
nature, and purpose of the Lord. It is, in effect and
fact, the Lord Himself in charge of everything; His
sovereign government. There was a man later in the
history of the ark who got too near to it and assumed the
responsibility and control; he perished tragically and
lost the way.
How we project ourselves by fear, anxiety,
mistaken responsibility into what is God's government! We
shall only lose our way and God's support if we -
in our heart - take His - alone place. Sometimes our very
subjectivity can involve us in confusion, when we should
have our eyes on the One who has done all for us. We need
to contemplate those two thousand cubits in the light of
the letter to the Romans, and remember that - without
careless irresponsibility - He has the initiative; the
way and the end are with Him. "I am the Alpha
and the Omega, the beginning and the end." That is
really the message of the motto. Perhaps a ray of
sunshine would be let in if we reversed the order of the
The Lord has said -
"Certainly I will be with thee."
'I know the
have not passed this way heretofore."