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"The ark of the Covenant of the Lord went before them in the three days' journey, to search out a resting place for them," — Numbers 10:33

That is, the Lord did this. But the Ark was the symbol of his presence, and the seat of his residence; from which, by the cloud, he regulated all their movements. Yet the expression is still metaphorical, and we must not suffer the condescension of this language to injure the glory of his perfections. He feels no perplexity. He never deliberates, never examines, never searches; for "there is nothing that is not manifest in his sight." But as men do this, and must do this, if they would avoid mistakes, and decide and act judiciously, the Lord thus intimates that his wisdom was concerned in all their journeyings; and that his people may keep their minds in perfect peace, being stayed on him; for, as strangers and pilgrims on the earth, he careth for them — they are under his guidance — nothing befalls them by chance. All their removals, and their rests, all their situations, their trials, their comforts, are chosen for them by the only wise God their Saviour, who is always on the look-out for them: "For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him."

He not only leads his people in the way that they should go, but is concerned to afford them repose, as well as direction. Thus, in his promise to Moses, he said, "My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest." Thus, in the review of his goodness he says, by Jeremiah, "The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness, even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest."

Thus here he searched out for them a resting-place, in their journey and after it. To the former Moses refers, when he says, "The Lord your God went in the way before you, to search you out a place to pitch your tents in;" before they were required to lay them entirely aside. Thus, before they reached Canaan, he led them into many resting- places: in some of which they continued only days; in some, weeks; in some, months; and in a few, even years. It was a fine resting- place when they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm-trees. But this was at the beginning of their journey, and designed to encourage them. They could not look for many stations like this. Each, however, which they successively occupied, was of the Lord's selecting.

We may apply this to the temporal residences of Christians. How moveable have some of them been! But He has led them from one situation to another, and it should be satisfying for them to think that he could find a better resting-place for them than they could have chosen for themselves, for he perfectly knows both the place and the persons. Sometimes the lines fall to them in agreeable scenes, and he kindly exceeds their hopes. In other cases, the abode is less inviting, and even trying. But they must acquiesce, without murmuring or complaining, in their Conductor's disposal — conscious that they are not worthy of the least of all his mercies, and remembering that they are not yet come unto "the rest and inheritance which the Lord giveth them."

It will apply also to their spiritual peace and refreshment in their travels. "Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls." There are spiritual resting-places on this side heaven. In their acquaintance with his throne, his house, his day, his word, the covenant of peace, here he affords them the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. Here he maketh his flock to rest at noon. Here they lie down in green pastures, and are fed beside the still waters.

But the principal resting-place he sought out for them was at their journey's end. It was Canaan. "In the day I lifted up mine hand unto them, to bring them forth of the land of Egypt into a land that I had espied for them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands."

Yet there is a better country. And this, Christian, He is looking out for you. Whatever you now enjoy, your repose is imperfect and interrupted. Something, aloud or in whisper, says, Arise, and depart hence; for this is not your rest.

But there remaineth a rest for the people of God. A rest from all toil and temptation; from all sorrow and sin. A rest not only in God, but a rest with him.

"O glorious hour! O blessed abode!
I shall be near and like my God:
And flesh and sin no more control
The sacred pleasures of my soul."

Morning Exercises For Everyday In The Year
By Rev. William Jay

 
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