Only A Prayer Meeting by C. H. Spurgeon
“And He said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.” – Exodus xxxiii. 14.
This is another of our choicest honey-drops, about which I will speak without premeditation, simply allowing the sweetness to flow forth of itself. It is God’s word to His servant Moses. It was not a pleasure-trip that Moses was taking; it was a journey through the wilderness, on most important business, with a great pressure on his own heart. He took his case before his God, and he said unto Jehovah, “See, Thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and Thou hast not let me know whom Thou wilt send with me. Yet Thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in My sight. Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in Thy sight, shew me now Thy way, that I may know Thee, that I may find grace in Thy sight: and consider that this nation is Thy people.” It is very beautiful to notice the argument that Moses uses. He says, “Lord, Thou hast set me to take care of this people. How can I do it? But they are Thy people.” Therefore he gives an eye to Jehovah Himself for assistance. “Thou hast not let me know whom Thou wilt send with me,” is his complaint; but he seems to have an eye to the fact that HE, whose people they were, who had put him into commission to guide them, and to bear all their provocations, must intend to give him some very superior help. The answer to that is, “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.” What more could Moses want than that, and what more can we want? We are so foolish that we look about for strength away from God, but there is none except in Him.
Dear Brother Varley, you are going to preach the Gospel in the lands beyond the sea; this is the assurance that you want in going forth; “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.” You will want much help in journeying from place to place; and that help lies in the constant fellowship of your heart with the Lord, the continual presence of God consciously enjoyed. You have a great burden of souls lying upon you, dear friend; your strength to bear that burden lies in the realization of God’s presence with yourself. It may not appear to some that the quarter of an hour in the morning spent in looking into the face of God, with ecstatic joy, can fill us with strength; but we know, from blessed experience, that there is no strength like it. We are only strong as we are overshadowed by the Eternal. Then Omnipotence comes streaming into us; Jehovah, in infinite, condescending liberality, gives forth His might to us.
Now, notice, that Moses was not informed that God would send Hobab, his father-inlaw, to go with him; he was not told that Joshua, his successor, should accompany him; nothing was said to him about the seventy elders who were to share the burden of responsibility with him. Moses was to have their presence and help, but his true power was to lie in this, “My presence shall go with thee.” He is about to start on a journey of great importance, a journey of great trial, a journey of great provocation, a journey that is to last for forty years; but this is all the provender that he needs, and God Himself could not give him more.
And then the Lord adds, “and I will give thee rest.” The most important thing to a Christian worker, as it was to Moses, is to have rest. “I do not expect any rest,” says one, “while I am here.” Do you not? Then you will not do much work for the Lord. They who work most must rest most; and if they work with their mind, they cannot do it well, indeed they cannot do it at all, unless they have plenty of rest. You will notice how people that get greatly excited often talk nonsense, and people who are very fretful and fearful do not speak or act as they should. The man who is to move others must have both his own feet fixed firmly; there is nothing like having a good grip of the ground, then you can fling the fellow with whom you are wrestling, but he cannot fling you.
“Do you think Moses had this rest?” someone asks. I am sure he had, because of the meekness of his spirit. You remember how the Lord Jesus said, “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” It is true that meekness of heart produces rest; but still, at the bottom, rest of heart produces meekness. You can very well afford to be quiet with your fellow-men when you yourself are perfectly restful in the living God. I remember a man being run over in the street one day. Somebody rushed off, post haste, for the nearest doctor; and when the medical man heard of the accident, he went quietly into his surgery, turned over his case of instruments, selected those that he thought he might want, and then leisurely walked to the spot where the poor man lay. The messenger tried to hurry him, but it was no use. “Be quick, doctor,” he cried, “the man’s leg is broken, every moment is precious.” Now, the surgeon knew that he was doing the very best thing that he could do, and he was far wiser than he would have been if he had rushed off in wild haste, perhaps forgetting the very instrument he most needed, and arriving out of breath, and quite unfit for the delicate duty required of him. The doctor’s composure was not the result of coldness of heart, but the result of the resolution to do the best possible thing in the best possible way. If you are conscious of the Lord’s presence, you will do the best thing possible by being very calm, deliberate, and quiet in His service. “He that believeth,” in that sense, “shall not make haste;” but he shall go about his Lord’s business in a restful spirit.
Mark the kind of rest that is here mentioned. “I will give thee rest.” All the rest that God gives us, we may safely take. No man ever rested too long upon the bosom of Jesus. I believe that many Christian workers would be better if they enjoyed more rest. I was speaking to the ministers at the Conference upon this matter, my subject being the Saviour asleep during the storm on the Sea of Galilee. He knew there was a storm coming on, but He felt so happy and restful in His Father’s love and care that He went into the hinder part of the ship, the best place for sleeping, deliberately took a pillow, lay down, and went to sleep. It was the very best thing He could do. He had been busy all day, teaching and feeding the multitudes, and He felt that it was His duty to go to sleep that He might be ready for the next day’s toil. When you get very weary, and perhaps worried as well, the best thing you can do is to go to sleep. Go to bed, brother; and go to sleep. It is astonishing what a difference a night’s rest makes with our troubles. I would say this literally to fidgety, worrying people, like myself, “Go to bed, brother, go to bed.” But I would also say it spiritually to all sorts of people; when you are feeling weak, and disturbed, and you do not know what to do for the best, “Go into the presence of
God, and there get rest.” “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.”
I will give you a little bit of worldly wisdom; it is this,- whenever you do not know what to do, do not do it. But some people, when they do not know what to do, go and do it directly, and get themselves into all sorts of trouble. Many of us, like Moses, need rest. Moses has to bear two millions of people on his heart; he needs rest. He has to put up with them for forty years; he needs rest. Never had another man such a family as that, never was another man so likely to be fluttered and worried; and he was a meek-spirited man, too, who could not make a dash, as others might have done. This is his strength, that he dwells in the Divine presence, and therefore is restful, calm, and strong. It is only now and then that he lets the human meekness be for a moment clouded. Thus he was enabled to march along, like a king in Jeshurun, as he was; and his soul dwelt in the eternity of God, singing ever amidst ten thousand graves, for he had forty of his people dying every day, “Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling-place in all generations.”