by Albert Benjamin Simpson
“Thus saith the Lord, the Maker of it, who formed it to establish it. The Lord is His name. Call unto me and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not.” Jeremiah 33: 2, 3
By His great and mighty name, Jehovah, and by His power to make the thing He promises, and to establish the promise He pledges. Jehovah summons us to call upon Him for great and mighty things. He longs to show us His all sufficiency, and He invites us to claim it.
A NEW NAME
He adds a new name here – Jehovah. It is His covenant name. It is the God of love, as well as all sufficiency. Let us hear and answer His gracious and mighty call.
FOR THE SINNER
1. A call to the sinner. “What meanest thou, oh, sleeper, arise, call upon thy God.” Jonah 1:6. This may be His call to thee, dear friend, as you read these lines, sleeping in sorrow or sunk in spiritual insensibility. God summons you to your knees. The very trial that has come upon you in His loving discipline, and He is bidding you seek His face and turn to His mercy before some greater calamity shall make it too late to pray. In the very same book we read, two chapters alter, of how the voice of prayer stayed the hand of judgment and saved the whole city of Nineveh from destruction: “Let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God,” was the monarch’s proclamation, “Yea, let thou turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. And God saw their works that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil that He had said He would do unto them; and He did it not.”
FOR THE TROUBLED SAINT
2. A call to the Christian in trouble. “Call on Me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me.” Psalm 50:15. It was a day of trouble with Jacob. His calamities had culminated in the final crisis and his resources and subterfuges had failed at last, and there alone at Peniel he called upon his God in the day of his trouble, and when the morning dawned the weak supplanting Jacob had become the prince of Israel, and the trouble had vanished away. This is the record that a later prophet has given of his wonderful victory of prayer: “By His strength he had power with God. Yea, he had power with the angel and prevailed. He wept and made supplication unto him. He found him in Bethel and there He spoke with us. Even the Lord God of Hosts, the Lord is his memorial. Therefore, turn thou to thy God; keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.”
THE PERPLEXED WORKER
3. A call to the perplexed Christian worker. What a fine example we have of this in the story of Ezra – Ezra 8:21. The brave and loyal leader of Israel’s returning captives found himself in the lone wilderness, surrounded with enemies and helpless and defenseless against his foes. This is the story of his deliverance: “Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of Him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance. For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way; because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon them all for good that seek Him; but His power and His wrath is against all them that forsake Him. So we fasted and besought our God for this; and He was entreated of us.”
Beloved, are you oppressed, assailed, perplexed and friendless? Call upon God. “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain thee.” “Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.”
THE TRIED MINISTER
4. A call to the minister of Christ amid his difficulties and adversaries. So we find Paul calling upon his brethren to pray for him in a difficult crisis of his work. II Thessalonians 3:1. “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the Word of God may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you; and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for all men have not faith.” His work was greatly hindered at Corinth by the oppositions and intrigues of the Jews. And so he sent this petition to his friends in Thessalonica. The answer to this prayer is given to us in the eighteenth chapter of Acts.
HOW IT WAS ANSWERED
First, it came in a baptism of courage and faith to Paul himself. We read that he was “pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. And when they opposed themselves and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood he upon your own heads, I am clean. From henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles.”
AN OPEN DOOR
Next, it came in a wonderful opening of the door among the Gentiles. Justus opened his door for the work, and so great was the work that even Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, himself believed, and great numbers of the people turned to God.
A MESSAGE OF GOD
Next, it came in a message from God to Paul in a night vision, “Be not afraid but speak, and hold not thy peace; for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee; for I have much people in this city.”
Finally, it came in a complete vindication of the apostle before his enemies by the direct hand of God. The Jews, exasperated with him, and led by Sosthenes, their ruler, had him arrested and brought before Gallio, the new Roman governor, under charge of false teaching. But Gallio dismissed their complaint with scorn and drove them from the judgment seat before Paul had need to answer a word on his own behalf; and, to complete the triumph, the mob, as soon as they found the case had gone against the Jews, turned upon them and beat Sosthenes, their leader, mercilessly. And perhaps to crown the series of wonderful answers to the apostle’s request for prayer, this very Sosthenes seems to be joined with Paul himself as co-writer of a letter he after wards sent to these very Corinthians (see I Corinthians 1:1), where he is called “Sosthenes the brother,” that is, your brother as well as mine. Surely this was a glorious revenge of love, and one of the great and mighty things which God will do for those who call upon Him.
THE WATCHER FOR HIS COMING
5. A call to the watcher on the heights of faith and hope, as we look for the Lord’s returning. In the ninth chapter of the book of Daniel we read this remarkable statement: “In the first year of the reign of Darius I, Daniel, understood by books the numbers of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. And I set my face unto the Lord God to seek by prayer and supplication, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes.” Now, the remarkable part of this prayer is that it was offered to God at the very time when the answer was already promised and expected. It was just because Daniel found the prophecy of Jeremiah that the captivity of Judah should end after seventy years, and had also observed that the seventy years were about expired – it was for this reason that he set himself apart to a special season of fasting and prayer, to claim from God the very thing that had been promised. One might have been tempted to think that the promise of God would take care of itself, and the prophecy be fulfilled anyhow; but just because of the promise and the prophecy Daniel was encouraged – nay, constrained, to pray and thus co-operate with God in the fulfillment of His own promise.
This is the deep philosophy of prayer. It is part of God’s own machinery for accomplishing His own purposes. It constitutes the connecting pipes between the great reservoir on high and the lamps that burn in the darkness below. Zechariah has given us an exquisite picture in his fine symbolism of the seven-fold candlestick with the bowl at the top, and the golden pipes that led from it to the various lamps and kept the light ever burning. Prayer constitutes these golden pipes, and carries the blessing, which God is bestowing, into the receptacles of grace through which it is given, and by means of which it operates in the economy of the church; and therefore the ministry of prayer is as necessary as the promises and providence of God. Both are equally Divine.
THE TIME TO PRAY
The time to pray, therefore, is just the time when God has promised, and when God is working Himself to fulfill the promise. Instead of folding our arms and lying back in easy complacency faith should prostrate herself at the very moment that she hears the sound of a going in the top of the mulberry trees, and step forth with a more confident and victorious march because God Himself has already gone out before her.
PRAY FOR HIS COMING
Now, beloved, we have come in the course of time to just such a crisis in the end of the age. All of the prophecies of the Holy Scripture point with increasing distinctness to the days in which we live, as the time when the greatest events which prophecy has foreshadowed are to come to pass and the world’s crisis is to be reached. Of that day and that hour knoweth no man; but at the same time the children of God are not left in darkness that that day should overtake them as a thief. While absolute and definite dates are denied, yet approximate signs are made very plain. Therefore, there can be no doubt that the combined sentiment of the most spiritual interpreters of prophetic truth is looking for the return of our Lord very soon. This very fact should tell us to pray as we have never prayed before. It is a loud call to wait upon God, and plead with faith and intense earnestness for the very things that He Himself has promised – the removing of obstacles, the preparation of the church, the evangelization of the world, and the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
FOR THE WORLD’S EVANGELIZATION
When He comes again He is to be given to the desire, to the longing, to the prayer, and to the expectant faith of His waiting people. It is the last prayer of the Holy Ghost in the Scriptures of the New Testament. Let us take it up and send its united echo to the throne: “Even so, come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.”
6. This is a call to the hearts that are longing for the evangelization of the world. “Pray ye the Lord of the harvest, that He would send forth laborers into His harvest. This remarkable command of the Lord Jesus was twice spoken during His earthly ministry. Once He uttered it when looking out upon the multitudes as they stood on the hillsides of Galilee, and His heart was moved with compassion because they seemed to Him like scattered sheep without a shepherd, and turning to His disciples, He said: “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that He would send forth laborers into His harvest.” A second time He used the same words when sending out the seventy disciples into every city and village whither He Himself would come. It seemed like a kind of foreshadowing of the Gospel movement that is to precede His personal return in the sending forth of laborers, which we are now witnessing. He felt far more intensely than we can feel, but what we do ourselves often feel, how vast is the need, how inadequate the supply in the great harvest field of the world.
THE HARVEST GREAT
Looking out over a thousand millions without the Gospel, we are overwhelmed with the immensity of the work. Looking over the colossal difficulties of African slavery and savagery, Hindu caste, Chinese prejudice and hate, Mohammedan fanaticism, and Roman Catholic delusion, our Master’s words come back to us with awful pathos: “The harvest truly is great.”
THE LABORERS FEW
Then when we look out upon the other picture, the worldliness, the selfishness, the self-indulgence and the indifference of the church of Christ, the millions that are wasted in pleasure, and for gain in contrast with the pittances given for the mission field, and the little companies of scattered missionaries stretched in thin and broken lines across the vast areas of heathen darkness, with one missionary to every quarter of a million in the average of the heathen world, and in many a neglected field but one missionary for many millions, our hearts echo back with tears the sorrowful cry: “but the laborers are few.” And as we toil on, year after year, endeavoring to arouse the church at home and reach the need abroad, and the colossal mountains of difficulty still rise up, our hearts cry out, Who is sufficient for these things? Lord, we are inadequate, our work seems but trifling, our resources utterly out of proportion to the great undertaking, and the results seem but little more than a few scattered rays like dim candle light in the thick darkness of a mighty midnight.” It is then we fall back from our despair to the footstool of prayer, and cry, “Lord, we are insufficient, Thou must undertake.” And we hear the Master Himself say, “Pray, pray, pray ye the Lord of the harvest that He will send forth laborers into His harvest.”
Thank God it is His harvest and He is its Lord. He is equal to it; but we must claim His working, and pray for His interposing hand.
NEED OF A NEW MOVEMENT
But the language expresses more than appears upon the surface. It is not merely a general prayer, that is here intended, for God to help and work along lines in which He has been working so long; but is a most emphatic and intense call to a very unusual prayer for a very extraordinary missionary movement. The word “send” literally means “thrust,” or “thrust forth.” It describes a violent, energetic, sudden and a most powerful movement, a breaking forth through all barriers that cleaves its deep channels in a mighty torrent of resistless power. It is the picture of a mountain stream bursting forth from its icy fetters and its rocky barriers and sweeping through the plain–an overflowing river of boundless fullness and strength. Hitherto it has been a little trickling brooklet in the mountain, but now it breaks from its barriers and cleaves its deep channels through the rocks, and sweeps to the sea–resistless torrent.
A GREATER CRUSADE
This is the great movement for which we are to pray. This is the revival of missions which the world needs today. All that we have asked or expected has been but a trickling mountain rivulet. Let our faith take hold of something higher. Let us ask God that He will thrust forth laborers into His harvest; that He will rend asunder and melt away the barriers of selfishness, worldliness, indifference, ignorance and ungodliness; that He will set free the millions which His church is hoarding up or wasting, that He will unloose the thousands of young men who are held at home by their ambition or their lack of consecration; that He will turn into the channels of Christian beneficence the millions and billions which Christian men today are expending with such gigantic enterprise in the investments of trade and the risks of speculation, and that He will lead His people to understand the grandeur of their calling and the immensity of the issues involved in the evangelization of the world and the coming of Christ.
MILLIONS FOR MISSIONS
It means that the day shall come when our millionaires will give to the evangelization of a continent what they are now giving to the spanning of a continent with a new railway. It means that the day will not be far distant when companies of the redeemed, consecrated young men and women will pour out, for the bringing back of Christ our King, the millions that they now spend in a single political campaign to elect a favorite leader, or to defeat some political conspiracy of reckless and unprincipled gain.
A CHURCH IN EARNEST
Oh, if men could but believe in the coming of Jesus, the value of souls, the great thoughts and plans of God, as they believe in their political platforms, their commercial investments and their personal ambitions, the oldest of us might live to see this prayer fulfilled, and such a thrusting forth of laborers into the harvest of the world as would change the little rill of our missionary achievements into a mighty river of salvation, sweeping in a single generation over all the globe.
PRAY, PRAY, PRAY
Beloved, this is what the world needs. This is what the church needs. This is what the age needs. This is what heathendom needs. We cannot bring it about. We have not accomplished it; but God is able. Oh, let us believe, let us conceive, let us burn with intense desire, and we shall see the great and mighty things which prayer has brought already, and which it will yet bring to pass in the closing days of the Christian dispensation. In the words of Pastor Gossner:
“Believe, hope, love, pray, burn, waken the dead! Hold fast by prayer; wrestle like Jacob! Up, up, my brethren! The Lord is coming: and to every one He will say: ‘Where hast thou left the souls of these heathen? With the devil?’ O, swiftly seek these souls, and enter not without them into the possession of the Lord.”
GREAT AND MIGHTY THINGS
7. The call to those who are looking for the manifestation of God in His supernatural power and presence. And so we close with our text: “Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” The greatest need of the world is the revelation of God Himself, and the belief in His supernatural reality and power. Man has grown so wise and great that he has no room for God, and God’s great purpose is to manifest Himself as the real, as the Almighty and as the Supreme.
CHRISTIANITY IS EVERYTHING
Christianity is nothing if it is not everything. Christianity is nothing if it be not altogether supernatural. The great lack of Christianity today is the absence of the supernatural working of God. It is being reduced to science. It is being taught as a system, and it is being pressed as a ceremony and a form of religions culture. The hearts of many are crying out for something Diviner, deeper and more intensely real, and God is waiting in these last days to show Himself the El-Shaddai of Abraham, and the consuming fire of Pentecost.