Eastern Manners and Customs: Girding of the Loins; "Follow Me"; Perfect; "My Brethren"

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 9
" The hand of the Lord was on Elijah, and lie girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel."-1 Kings 18:4646And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel. (1 Kings 18:46).
The long flowing robes still worn in the East render the " girding of the loins " necessary whenever an exercise of energy or of activity is required. Bishop Wordsworth says: "The mode of doing honor to Ahab by running before his chariot was in accordance with the customs of the East. It is performed by a class of persons called skaters in Persia, where it is regarded as a necessary part of royal state to have runners at their side when they are on horseback." Dr. Thomson also writes: "I was reminded of this incident of Elijah at Jaffa, when Mohammed Ali came to that city to quell the rebellion of Palestine. The officers were constantly going and coming, preceded by runners, who always kept just ahead of the horses, no matter how furiously they were ridden: and in order to run with the greatest ease they girded their loins very tightly... Thus, no doubt, did Elijah. The distance from the base of Carmel across the plain to Jezreel is not less than twelve miles, and the race was probably accomplished in two hours, in the face of storm of wind and rain. It was necessary that the hand of the Lord should be upon the prophet, or he would not have been able to achieve it."
Follow Me." John 21
In John we see the confidence and simplicity of love. Though he makes little noise, he always follows Jesus. He incessantly expects Him, and thus he recognizes Him even before Peter-the most zealous of disciples. It is only his intimate acquaintance with Jesus gives him this advantage. Love is calm, and finds its enjoyment in its object. John passes through few painful experiences like those of Peter. The perfect love of Jesus banishes all fear from His disciple; it slays also the activity of the flesh, and keeps his heart engaged with its object.
John is neither jealous of Peter, nor restless about his brother who is on his way to death. Peter on the contrary disquiets himself about John; who in the meantime is occupied about Jesus, and remains perfectly calm and at rest even while following his master, whom he is accustomed to follow, and gaze upon, and listen to; Jesus needs not to say to John, "Follow me."
The first of these texts has no bearing whatever on the question of perfection in the flesh. It is the revelation of the name of our Father which is in heaven, and the character practically which suits the kingdom of heaven. The mere Jew was responsible to render testimony to the righteousness of Jehovah; the believer now is responsible to show forth the grace of "Our Father." Vengeance on the Canaanites was then a righteous thing; now " if, when ye do well and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God." The children are bound to sustain the family character, " that ye may be the children of your father which is in heaven, for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust... Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." Other Scriptures prove, if proof were needed, that sin still abides in the saint here below, however bound he is to disallow and mortify it. This text simply exhorts us to imitate our Father's grace, even to those who deserve His judgment.
The other Scripture (1 John 3:99Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. (1 John 3:9)) regards the child of God in that point which distinguishes him from the world, in the possession of a life from God which is absolutely sinless. No intelligent Christian will therefore forget that the flesh is still in us, though we are no longer in the flesh, but in the Spirit.
I think that it is clear and certain that those whom " the King" designates as His brethren here, are a distinct class from the sheep. It is not denied that all God's saints are, or may be viewed as " sheep." All that is now contended nor is, that in this scene we have certain godly Gentiles blessed, and inheriting the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world, but at the same time distinguished from others styled the King's brethren, who had previously put these sheep to the test, and been the occasion of showing their difference from the goats, or the unbelieving Gentiles, who had dishonored the King in His messengers. I add that the scene is a millennial one; not the gathering of the saints risen or changed before the millennium; not the judgment of the dead after it, but a scene on earth of living nations dealt with according to their reception or rejection of the King's brethren just before this judgment (Matt. 24:1414And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. (Matthew 24:14)).