God Shall Be With You
“God Shall Be With You”
A few words spoken over the grave of a fellow-servant in Christ
“And Israel said unto Joseph, Behold, I die: but God shall be with you, and bring you again unto the land of your fathers” (Gen. 48:21).
“By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff” (Heb. 11:21).
“He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Heb. 13:5-6).
Our gathering here today tells a simple tale. A dear servant of the Lord has been taken away; all his earthly ministry is over, and affection for this servant of Christ has gathered many to lay his remains in the tomb.
He was undoubtedly a “chosen vessel,” a remarkable vessel, whose ministry many enjoyed and profited by, and whose departure many will deeply mourn. That vessel the Potter formed, filled, and sustained. Now the vessel is gone; the Potter is not. Time was when the vessel was in the mind of the Potter, then He formed the vessel and filled it for His service, so that instead of the vessel being in the mind of the Potter, the mind of the Potter was in the vessel (see Jer. 18:1-6).
How blessed is it for us to remember that though vessels break, friends depart, and servants go when their service is concluded, the Lord remains. Truly says the Scripture, “Thou remainest” (Heb. 1:11).
The above-quoted scriptures very sweetly illustrate this thought. How lovely is it to hear the patriarch Jacob say to his son Joseph, “Behold, I die: but God shall be with you.” God does not die though Jacob passes away. Cannot every sorrowing heart among God’s people today, take the deepest comfort from this thought? Whether it be the widow, the orphans, or the Church at large, how full of deep meaning are these words, “God shall be with you.”
Years before, when a solitary wanderer from his father’s house, God had met Jacob, and had said to him, as his head was pillowed on a stone, “Behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again unto this land; for I will not leave thee until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of” (Gen. 28:15).
Had God been faithful to His word? Indeed He had. Many an up-and-down, many a turn, many a twist, and many a divergence had Jacob known, but God had been faithful to His word, and been with him. It was the enjoyed sense of His presence that made him able to say, in the knowledge of His love, as he addresses Joseph, “God shall be with you.” Jacob knew God, and the “I will not leave thee” of Genesis 28, I am persuaded, led him to speak as he did to Joseph in Genesis 48, as, leaning on a staff, he worships and passes off the scene.
But not only to Jacob were these words uttered. When Moses is closing his service, what does he say to Joshua, who had to take up the work which Moses was laying down? “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee” (Deut. 31:6). Did God fail Jacob? He did not. Did He fail Joshua? Indeed not. Hear his testimony when he too was passing away: “And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof” (Josh. 23:14).
But a third time we got these cheering words in Old Testament Scripture. The history of David is closing, and to Solomon how striking is it to hear him say, “Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the Lord God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord” (1 Chr. 28:20).
Now we are neither patriarchs, leaders, nor kings, but that which was their solace, support, and strength we have. We are only simple pilgrims on our road to glory, and as we mourn the loss of this one and that one, how blessed is it for us to hear these same words, “He hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee” (Heb. 13:4).
Vessels may break, servants go, husbands be removed, and fathers be taken away from those that love them, but God remains.
“God shall be with you” are indeed wonderful words to dwell in our hearts, and the Spirit’s beauteous quotation, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee,” may well be a solace to every heart here today.
This being so, what should be the spirit and attitude of our souls? The apostle furnishes the answer. If God say, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee,” He immediately adds, “We may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”
Indeed, then, we may have the fullest confidence in God. Let who will die, if God be with us we are well off. Our path is a very blessed one—if remaining here, God will be with us, and if we pass away; we shall be with him, as our dear brother is, and that is “far better.”
“On that eternal love of Thine,
My Lord and Saviour, I recline;
’Tis perfect rest on Thee to lean,
Through all this changing, weary scene.
‘Today,’ as ‘Yesterday,’ THE SAME,
From everlasting is Thy Name;
The Lord, who earth’s foundations laid,
God’s Lamb, who full atonement made.
Yes ‘Thou REMAINEST,’ whom have I
In heaven or earth, in sea or sky,
But Thee, with all Thy Love revealed,
My Lord, Beloved, Friend, and Shield?”
The Gospel Messenger 1903, p. 277