“Ye Shall Not Go Out With Haste, Nor Go By Flight”
“Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord. For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the Lord will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rereward.” (Isaiah 52:12)
Flight: the act or an instance of running away; an escape.
This scripture suggests impetuous flight, that is, hasty, abrupt, precipitate, unthinking, unreasoning, headlong, reckless, impulsive flight. There is a feeling of panic caused by terror or dread. And the Bible declares that the departing of the children of God from the unclean thing will be without haste or flight. Again, we read, “Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.” (Isaiah 28:16)
There is a calmness, a deliberation, a settling of purpose, a depth of conviction that comes from God, and that is very positive. It enables a person to take a stand, and is the beginning of a path that proves to be right and sustainable. This is a description of saving faith, which begins with sober (realistic, honest) thinking, leads to godly sorrow, thorough repentance, and comes to an inspired confidence in the atonement and delivering power of The Precious Corner Stone. This is not an impetuous, headlong flight from sin, but a deliverance that is designed and created by God Himself. There is a hatred of sin in it, but there is also an awakening to the love of God.
We have seen people who became obsessed with the uncleanness of things that were wrong. They are full of criticism. They despise and scorn. And to a certain extent, their condemnation is correct (although there is no charity in it), but they have scarcely anything that is positive; that is, nothing upon which to build. They would tear down, but have naught that builds up. They become soured and obtain no sweetness. They decry sin but gain little righteousness.
At one time, we received a communication from a young brother who was very dissatisfied. He was not happy with things happening around him, and he questioned the spirituality of the ministers about him, the people—everything, really. He wasn’t getting along with his wife, either. He was miserable, and he had the idea that things were better over where I was. He wanted to do better, he said. He asked how we had done it. We told him. He confessed that he wasn’t doing very well between him and the Lord. Still, he thought that we might have the answers that had eluded him to that point. We did have some things that God had taught us, but he wasn’t being taught by God. He couldn’t get them secondhand from us. Eventually, he became very critical of us. Said we didn’t love him enough. Became offended. Turned away from us. He is still in that condition today.
It is not enough to flee sin; we must find righteousness. It is not sufficient to forsake the devil; we need God. It is not enough to make our escape from Babylon, for where will we go if we do not find the walls and bulwarks of Zion?
“He that believeth shall not make haste.” We note this lack of haste in Nathaniel (John 1:45-51). We find in James 1:19 the recommendation that we be slow to speak and slow to wrath. Jesus tells us, “In your patience possess ye your souls.” (Luke 21:19) We are to be like the ox—load-bearing, plodding, and patient. “Beareth all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:7)
“The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.” (Proverbs 10:22) This is because God deals thoroughly and completely in the changes He brings before us. He gives time and opportunity for the roots to go down. There will be no fruit borne upward if the roots are not in place and working as they should (Isaiah 37:31). It takes time for the roots to grow. It takes time to get the clearness we need and will need. There is a great need of humbling down, forsaking all but the will of God until our eye is single—and full of light.
“For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.” (2 Corinthians 7:11)
Everywhere about us is a great zeal to have the blessing without valuing the birthright. People want the blessings of the spiritually-minded, such as peace and calm assurance, without paying the price. They want the water without the labor of removing the earth from the wells (Genesis 26:15,18-19). It will never work. We reap what we sow. To pursue a valid spiritual walk without a valid spiritual foundation is to end up with an illusion.
I do not believe anyone could successfully contradict that there was more real divine power and spiritual life and more miracle working power and healings and genuine powerful conversions and devils cast out, etc., in those early days than what we are able to witness and testify to in the church of our day. I know you don’t like that. I don’t either. I would like to see it different, but to be honest I must face up to the facts as I see them and I feel you should, too. Some of the very folks who are taking in with these innovations of worldly things and variations from the former teachings and practices of the earlier brethren, decry the lack of spiritual power and miracles and healings, etc., in our day and refer back to how the early brethren did it and ask why our brethren of today do not do it that way. It is the age-old idea of wanting to have the cake and eat it, too, which cannot be done. Some would like to have all that power and glory and benefits of the early church but they are not willing to follow that standard. The two can never be harmonized so we may as well stop trying; and if we are willing to throw the standards of the early brethren overboard, just throw the rest overboard also, and quit worrying about what they had that we do not see in that same measure in the church of our day. We can never hope for the one without the other.
Two families took a stand to live for God and walk in the light that He shown upon our pathway. We trusted Him to take care of us. We trusted Him to protect us, insomuch that we determined by His grace not to take things in our own hands and defend ourselves, but to wait upon God. Our consecration has been tried upon this point at times, but we still stand upon Psalm 127:1: “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.”
God has been very faithful to us. He has more than answered our prayers. He has protected us first through our smallness and apparent insignificance. People just didn’t think we were worth their attention. They predicted doom and gloom for us and our children. Then God began to really save our children as each of them sought him, and they began to grow to adulthood as genuine Bible Christians. We kept trusting God to supply companions for them that were really saved; standing for, and possessing Bible standards, led by the Holy Spirit, and walking in the light that God shown upon their pathway. We trusted God to help each one to find the same work wrought in their hearts that the Christians of old found. That work of entire death to self—the sanctifying, cleansing work of the Holy Spirit after regeneration—was what had brought true unity and oneness to the adults in the congregation, and we knew that we would never have that unity with anyone else, including our children, unless they sought and found that same experience from God.
And the Lord was merciful to us and to them. One by one, they were stirred to seek God for the deeper experience and obtained it. To the extent that they sought it, God bestowed it; and just to that extent, we have been blessed with New Testament spiritual unity and fellowship.
As the years passed, I have realized more and more the extreme perilousness of the step that we took. We have had people come to the congregation who decided that this was for them, but they wanted to be accepted in their then-current state of mind and heart. Some of them did not realize what was involved. Some of them did not care. They just wanted to do things as they saw fit. They thought that we were just doing things as we saw fit, too. They did not recognize or acknowledge that the blessing we had came from obeying God and letting Him have His way, and they did not recognize how easily it could all be lost. We trusted God to take care of His work and to defend it against all that would change it. This “all” included us or anyone that would arise from us. And our testimony has been this: God has been faithful.
We have become a more appealing, juicier target. Our young people are no better than any dedicated, saintly young people who have ever lived for God, but they are genuine. Their consecration is real; their love for God is real. There are many people who would like to take what God has done and use it as they see best. It is common for false religious spirits to make merchandise of God’s children. They attempt to establish their appeal by capturing some of God’s property and exhibiting it as the result of following them. We continue to trust God to protect the congregation and preserve what He has done.
We have not devised a process by which one is qualified to be a part of such a people, nor will we do so. That would be to usurp the place of the Holy Spirit. The Bible tells us that He puts the members in the body as it pleases Him. I want no part of a philosophy or teaching that will assume that kind of direction in the lives of others. I strongly believe in Holy Ghost leadership. I do not believe in its many imitations. Some of these imitations are very good counterfeits. I believe in waiting on the Lord until He makes things plain, and then standing on that clearness in the fear of God. My mind can easily substitute for the leading of the Holy Spirit, and it is our constant prayer that He will help us to wait and be still. I do not want to order my own steps, nor do I want to lean to my own understanding. It is a serious mistake to think that just because I feel strongly about something, that God feels the same way. God is pleased for us to wait on Him until He reveals His will. His will proves out to be the right thing.
Some have come to us with an apparent commitment to follow truth wherever it led. We respected this. We know what it means to sacrifice deeply to follow the Lord. We respected how these things were not done in a hurry. As the Bible says, “He that believeth shall not make haste.” The ones who came seemed to find something real and valuable up here, and we were candid and open with them. But beyond this, which looked good, we trusted God to take care of His work. And we can testify that He has done so.
We were and are willing to change if we can be persuaded that a given change is right before God. If we believe that a proposed change is wrong, then we are determined not to follow that course, no matter what it costs us or what pressure is brought to bear upon us. We trust God to help us in these matters to stay with Him.
The congregation has been taught of God to love all men. All people, everywhere, in all states and conditions of heart and life. And not only to love them, but to communicate that love to them. It does not do them much good to love them if we do not get that love over to them. Just as God loved us, but we knew it not. But He has made full proof of His love in such a way as will win our hearts if we are willing to really look. We owe it to all men to love them with heaven’s love. You might say, “Well, they are disgusting and dangerous. The evil in them is frightening and contagious. I am afraid of them.” Yes. Brother Jude tells this, “And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” (Jude 1:23) We have to have a love that takes great risks, not abandoning them or despising them, but a love that stays right there, pulling them out of the fire, even while taking precautions (with which heaven supplies us) so that we do not catch what they have. If we are wearing heaven’s armor and are in heaven’s order, we can tackle anything the devil has done and do the work of God. What if we start to catch it? We call on God to help us. What if the weak and needy among us are affected by the sin and degradation? If we indeed trust God to take care of us and order our steps, we cannot just order the battle as we see best. We must recognize that God knows the weakness and neediness of our loved ones more than we do. He may have allowed the trial because our weak and needy ones need the trial and need to learn how to get the victory when confronted with blatant sin. God’s way of escape is not always to run away. Many times, His way of escape is hiding in His grace while the manifestation of evil continues.
“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
It is a shame and disgrace for unsaved folks to be able to say, “Why don’t the ____ like us?” Even if they are deep in sin and badly defiled, there should be grounds to believe that God’s children love them. If there are no grounds for them to believe that we love them, we have failed them. We have not shown them the love of God. We should acknowledge our lack of love, ask God to forgive us and give us some of what He has in such great abundance, and we need to ask their forgiveness, too. It takes a great humbling down to do this, and it takes a great honesty and sincerity, too.
One of the things that touched my heart years ago when I was a rebellious child was my mother doing just what I am speaking about. I tried her exceedingly, and in her provocation, she said that I was “a little imp.” The Spirit of God smote her with conviction for saying such a thing, and even as she prepared to whip me for the wrong that I did, she apologized for calling me “a little imp.” I still remember her voice, trembling with emotion, as she said, “You have tried Mother a lot, but I shouldn’t have called you a little imp. I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?” I was very conscious that I was in the wrong and full of rebellion and hard of heart, but the words of my Mother sank deep into my heart. I doubt not but that the Spirit of God used them to bring me to God in time. She could have reasoned that it might distract me from my wrong to confess hers, but the fear of God was on her. Oh, the sincerity! It touched my heart.
If we do not get the victory in loving sinners, we find that we do not love God’s children as much, either, especially those who do love sinners. “This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.” (Luke 7:39) This attitude seemed perfectly natural and right to Simon. This woman was living a disgusting life. Why did she have to seek Jesus in this way, before all the other Pharisees? Thus Simon thought. But Jesus saved her right there. He did not send her away or deal with her privately. He did not despise her. He saved her in the house of the scorner. (What did it cost her to be willing to come to the house of the scorner to get saved?)
When sinners come among us, it is as much a test for the saved as it is for them. It is a test that we need. It is a test that God allows. We seek to control it to our detriment. If Jesus allows it to come about in this way, He knows that we need it this way. Jesus will test us until we can stand the test and overcome. If we cannot stand the test, the fire will show us where we are. “Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.” (1 Corinthians 3:13)
The individuals in this little congregation have all been through trials of this sort in one way or another. And this is the Bible pattern, for God has and is having a tried and tested people. We would like to believe that all who came here have had this kind of humility and honesty, and that they would follow God with all their heart, no matter how tested and tried. We have looked forward to suffering through these trials with those who came, mourning with them, rejoicing with them, sharing our experiences, etc. “They that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name.” (Malachi 3:16) In this way, God knits together the hearts of those who love Him.
When the motives for meeting together are not the same, there is no unity. There is no communication, either. Like Jesus (Mark 3:4-5), we have been grieved at the awful silences that result from living from a heart not softened and made tender by the Spirit of God. Perhaps the silence is preferable to verbal strife, but the division that is characterized by having nothing to say to each other is just as bad. We have some idea of the cost of being divided, and we grieve for the loss. As time goes on, and the fruit of the withdrawal, disregard, and disrespect for us continues to manifest itself and grow in the hearts of those who have rejected truth, we hunger to express our love to those in error; and with Samuel, we determine that we will never cease to pray for each of them (1 Samuel 12:23; Colossians 1:9).