Of all the great preparations in which man can be engaged, none can equal in importance that of preparing to meet God.
With Him we have to do. Whether we desire it or not, whether we shirk and shun it or not, sooner or later we must meet Him, and give an account of our whole course and conduct.
It is this that is the cankerworm gnawing the very life out of the pleasures and prospects of the worldling. All is well in his eyes while he can go on as he lists, but he cannot but see that death, as a well-trained wrestler, has thrown many of his acquaintances, and though he may postpone the event, the conviction is forced home upon him that he will at length be tracked by the destroyer, and after all have to meet God.
To Israel of old this clarion note of warning sounded—
“PREPARE TO MEET THY GOD.”
They had been dealt with in patience. Again and again had Jehovah’s hand been outstretched in order to recall them to a sense of their dependence upon Himself, but in vain. Five times over the solemn plaint of the prophet is heard declaring, “Yet have ye not returned unto Me, saith the Lord” (Amos 4:6-11). Therefore judgment, impartial and unsparing, would fall; but judgment is His strange work, and He warns before He strikes, and thus it is the cry goes forth, “Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel” (Amos 4:12).
Echoed by the centuries, the note of alarm is sounded in your ear today, Prepare to meet thy God, O sinner.
Times without number, it may be, God hath spoken to you through circumstances of difficulty, through the death of relatives and friends, through the preaching of the glad tidings, through gospel pamphlets, in dreams and visions of the night, and in the pleadings of loved and loving ones, yet you have not returned to Him. Your heart has been hardened, your neck has been stiffened, you have set at nought His counsel, and despised His reproof. Now “the judge standeth before the door.” Are you prepared to meet Him?
“Your race is run, prepare to meet thy God,” were the words printed upon a notice board held up by a Christian at Chester races. One at least was awakened to a sense of his need as he glanced at the solemn words. Leaving the racecourse and the society of the godless and profane, misery filled his soul, and was written on his face.
He was not prepared. Again I ask, Are you?
For two long years, if I remember aright, he sought for peace, but in vain. Earnestly he endeavoured to effect his own salvation, and to propitiate God by his religiousness. All was, however, without result. He had at last to confess himself helpless, hopeless, lost! and then the light broke in.
It is to this we all have to come—to find that we are undone, that all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags, and that though we know Me must meet God, and that the preparation must be made, yet that we are powerless to better our condition, and we are constrained to cry—
“No preparation can I make,
My best resolves I only break.
Oh! save me for Thine own name’s sake,
And take me as I am.”
Then it is that the burdened soul learns, as the day of his blessing dawns, that the mighty work needed for his salvation has been accomplished by another, even by the blessed Son of God.
Yes, if we are utterly unable to prepare to meet God, God has in wondrous grace prepared to meet us. God has done everything for the sinner who had done everything against Him.
This is the gospel story.
The parable of the marriage feast for the king’s son, in Matthew 22, is a divine illustration of it. The previous chapter had shown that man had nothing for God. There was no fruit for Him from HIS vineyard. Nothing but insult and dishonour could He obtain from man. Judgment must be the result. But before it falls grace comes in and provides the feast of blessing. The message is made known—
“I HAVE PREPARED
my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.”
Man, however, slights the invitation, and makes light of the whole matter. Refuses grace now as he had broken law before.
And what will you do with it, reader? How will you treat the great preparations of your God?
He has prepared to meet you. Though covered with sins, and clothed with iniquity, He can justify you, and yet be just; can clear you from all charge, and yet be righteous.
The awful distance has been bridged by God, by Him alone. Without your suggestion or desire, without your aid or assistance, the whole work has been planned and executed. The Son of God, sent by the Father, has come as the Mighty One upon whom help was laid. He has suffered upon the cross to bring us to God, and the blessed God invites the foulest and the feeblest to find cleansing and satisfaction in the salvation which is in Christ Jesus.
Great preparations indeed they are which have been made that even such as you might be received.
The will of God, the work of Christ, the witness of the Holy Spirit, are alike on the sinner’s behalf, and still the welcome word is sounded, “Come.”
Those who, confessing their sins, obey the call, find fullest blessing awaiting them. Not only do they receive forgiveness of sins, but an inheritance—an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for them. They also find that a place has been prepared for them in the Father’s house, and that they have been prepared for the place by the Father’s hand (John 14:2; Rom. 9:23).
The glory of our God is prepared for us who believe, and we are vessels of mercy—nothing but mercy would do for us—whom He hath afore prepared unto glory. Thus He makes known the riches of His glory, and shows the boundlessness of His grace.
To sum up, we have seen—
That the sinner must meet God.
That he cannot fit himself for His presence.
That God has prepared to receive sinners.
That the glory is prepared for believers.
That believers are vessels of mercy prepared for that glory.
To Him that worketh all be all the praise.
Scattered Seed 1892, p. 87