If I desire a more spiritual understanding of the revelation of God, how can I but mourn to witness its awful neglect and contempt? It seems as if the ungodly not only sin against it, but that they would drive it out of the world. They make it void—denying its power to rule, to annul its power to punish. Oh! let us cherish that distinguishing feature of the Lord's people, "sighing and crying for all the abominations of the land;" so that we cannot hear or see the name of God dishonored, without feeling as for our Father's wounded reputation. Can we suffer the men of the world quietly to go on their course? Must we not throw in our weight of influence, whatever it may be, to stem the flowing torrent: and when (as, alas! is too often the case) all efforts are unavailing, carry the cause to the Lord, "It is time for You, Lord, to work?" This pleading does not contradict the law of love, which requires us to love, pray for, and to bless our enemies; for the Lord's people are not angry for their own cause, but for His. David had no regard to his own honor, but to God's law. He had not injured his enemies. "He had labored to overcome their evil with good." He had often wept for their sins, and prayed for their conversion. But all was in vain. 'Now, Lord, take the rod in Your own hand. "It is time for You, Lord, to work."' This was true zeal—zeal of the Spirit, not of the flesh. How gracious is our God in permitting His servants thus to plead with Him, and, as it were, to give Him no rest, until "he shall arise, and work," and sit upon the throne of the kingdoms of the earth!
But why does He not break out with some overpowering manifestation of His power? They are "his sword and rod" for the chastening of His people, to discipline their watchfulness into constant exercise. They are the trial of their faith—believing the Lord's justice against apparent inconsistency; and of their patience, "waiting the set time of deliverance." Thus they become a profitable ministry for the church—and this valuable end accomplished, God works His work upon them, and "will avenge His own elect speedily."
Meanwhile—waiting for this "little while," let us "live by faith." Let us be found on the Lord's side—laboring for sinners—pleading with their hardness and rebellion in our Master's name, and for our Master's sake. Let all the weight of personal exertion and influence, consistent example, and wrestling supplication, be concentrated in "coming to the help of the Lord against the mighty." Let us see to it, that if we cannot do what we would, we do what we can. And if at last we be overborne by the torrent of ungodliness, we shall find our refuge and rest in pleading with our Lord for the honor of His name—Remember this, that the enemy has reproached, O Lord, and that the foolish people have blasphemed Your name. "His Spirit shall not always strive with man." Often, when He has seen it time for Him to work, have His judgments made the earth to tremble. "Sodom and Gomorrah" have "known the power of His anger," and are "set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." And when His time to work is fully come, what is all the resistance of earth and hell, but as "setting the briars and thorns against Him in battle?" "I would"—says he, "go through them. I would burn them together." A word—a frown—a look—is destruction. "He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength. Who has hardened himself against Him, and has prospered?" Or "who has resisted His will?"
But what shall we say of that stupendous work of His hand, by which—when men had made void His law—when no restrictions could bind, no forbearance win them—when He "saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor, therefore His arm brought salvation unto him, and His righteousness, it sustained him." Surely, if we could conceive the hosts of heaven to have taken up this expression of ardent concern for the glory of God, It is time for You, Lord, to work—they could little have thought of such a work as this—they could never have conceived to themselves such an unlooked-for, combined display of power, justice, and mercy. To set at nothing then this work—is it not to refuse all hope—all remedy? To persist in making void the law after so magnificent an exhibition of Almighty working—must it not expose the transgressors to reap the fruit of their own obstinacy, and to prepare to meet Him as their Judge, whom they refuse to receive as their Savior? Nor must they wonder, if the Lord's people, with a holy indignation against sin, and a fervent zeal for His glory, should appeal to His faithfulness for the fulfillment of His judgments—It is time for You, Lord, to work: for they have made void Your law.
David was a servant, and therefore it was always his time to work: but being oppressed by a sight of man's ungodly behavior, he feels that his Master's hand is wanted, and therefore he appeals to him to work against the working of evil. Men make void the law of God by denying it to be his law, by promulgating commands and doctrines in opposition to it, by setting up tradition in its place, or by utterly disregarding and scorning the authority of the lawgiver. Then sin becomes fashionable, and a holy walk is regarded as a contemptible puritanism; vice is styled pleasure, and vanity bears the bell. Then the saints sigh for the presence and power of their God. Oh for an hour of the King upon the throne with the rod of iron in his hand! Oh for another Pentecost with all its wonders, to reveal the energy of God to gainsayers, and make them see that there is a God in Israel! Man's extremity, whether of need or sin, is God's opportunity. When the earth was without form and void, the Spirit came and moved upon the face of the waters; should he not come when society is returning to a like chaos? When Israel in Egypt were reduced to the lowest point, and it seemed that the covenant would be void, then Moses appeared and wrought mighty miracles; so, too, when the church of God is trampled down, and her message is derided, we may expect to see the hand of the Lord stretched out for the revival of religion, the defense of the truth, and the glorifying of the divine name. The Lord can work either by judgments which hurl down the ramparts of the foe, or by revivals which build up the walls of his own Jerusalem. How heartily may we pray the Lord to raise up new evangelists, to quicken those we already have, to set his whole church on fire, and to bring the world to his feet! God's work is ever honorable and glorious; as for our work, it is as nothing apart from him.