Leaving Us an Example: Part 1

 •  14 min. read  •  grade level: 5
"What was it, blessed God,
Led Thee to give Thy Son,
To yield Thy well-beloved
For us by sin undone?
'Twas love unbounded led Thee thus
To give Thy well-beloved for us."
There is a remarkable verse in the 2nd chapter of 1 Peter (v. 21). I am reading a part of the verse: "Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example." Perhaps we will turn to several scriptures this afternoon if the time does not slip by too rapidly. In our meditations in the readings that we have been having in Philippians, we were reminded that we are to "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." That is very practical, isn't it?
Part of the mind that was in Christ Jesus, we have in this verse. He was minded to suffer for us, and in so doing He left us an example. One thinks we should stress this kind of thing, as we find it in other portions of the Word; that is, the spending of ourselves for the sake of that which is dear to the heart of Christ. "Christ... loved the church, and gave Himself for it." "Christ... suffered for us, leaving us an example." He loved the Church, and He gave Himself for it. We want to weigh that expression. We want to seek, if we can, to have it stand out before us clearly—the love of Christ for the Church and our privilege of being imitators of Him in the manifestation of that love to the Church—the Church so dear to His heart.
Our first illustration we will take from the 32nd of Exodus. For the sake of brevity we will not read this long chapter. A resume of it is something like this: Moses is called of God into the mount of God to receive at the hand of God the law. He is there forty days and nights, and in the meantime, down on the plain below, are the children of Israel.
They wait for Moses to come back. Growing weary of the delay, they say, in substance, "As for this Moses, we don't know what is become of him. Let us order our lives as though he were never coming back. Let us make our own gods." They lost confidence in Moses because he was unseen. He was hidden there in the mount. Now Moses was a type of Christ, and the tendency in our hearts is, that as our Lord tarries, if I may use that expression, as our Lord waits for the moment of His return, we are apt to become lax, and one of the first signs of that letting down is that we become careless in our affections toward the Church of God.
Remember in the passage in Luke's Gospel where our Lord speaks of the servant who says down in his heart, "My lord delayeth his coming," immediately he begins to eat and drink with the drunken and to beat the menservants and the maidens. His attitude changes the moment he relinquishes the hope of the near return of his lord. There is nothing that keeps our steps ordered in the path of holiness more than constantly keeping before us the fact that before the day is over, before the sun rises on the morrow, we may be called home to be with our blessed Lord. That moment will wipe out all the difficulties of the journey, all the trials that are ours in our family, in our work, and in the assembly.
Growing weary waiting for Moses, they made them a golden calf. Moses came back and found them engaged in a carnal worship. They weren't up to spiritual worship. They had dropped down to the plane of carnality. Moses, the man of God, filled with zeal, breaks those tables of stone, comes into the camp, and sees the execution of the judgment of God upon the guilty rebels. Where the glory of God is at stake, the honor of His name, God Himself deals severely. So it is that the Son of man in the midst of the golden candlesticks in the 2nd and 3rd of Revelation views the churches with a scrutiny that is pure and that is true: "Holiness becometh Thine house, 0 LORD, forever."
Moses put the tribe of Levi to a severe test; they were to take the sword and go in and out and slay their own flesh and blood. Yes, beloved, loyalty to God comes first. Look at the 14th of Luke, verse 26: "If any man come to Me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children,
and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple." Is that severe? Remember, those are the words of the blessed Lord Himself. He demands allegiance above every earthly tie. So in the 32nd of Exodus, end of the 27th verse: "Go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor." 28th verse: "And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men." Moses didn't cover up their sins; no he did not; but in the rest of this chapter, beloved (and that is what I had before me), there is something exceedingly lovely.
30th verse: "And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the LORD; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin." He didn't soften their sin. He didn't mitigate their guilt: "And now I will go up unto the LORD; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin." Oh, the love in his heart for those poor, sinful people! He is not going up into the mount of God to entreat against them. He is going up into the mount of God to entreat for them.
31st verse: "And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin." He didn't minimize the sin. They had sinned greatly. They had made them gods of gold. 32nd verse: "Yet now, if Thou wilt forgive their sin -,
and then he stops. Eventually it sweeps over his soul—oh how can He forgive a sin like that? How can He? And then this great man of God throws himself into the breach and says, "If not, blot me, I pray Thee, out of Thy book which Thou halt written."
Ah, brethren, how much do we know about a spirit like that? Moses bears the whole guilty race on his heart before God. He pleads for God's forgiveness for them. "Oh," he said in substance, "forgive them, and if not, blot me out of your book." How he identified himself with their sin, with their awful condition before God! Now our blessed Lord Jesus was in a position where there was no "peradventure." When He went up the slope of Calvary to intercede for us, to die for us, there was no "peradventure" there, for He
bared Himself to the wrath of God, and He did what Moses couldn't do. He took the wrath on His own Person and stayed the storm of God's judgment—the waves and billows beat upon Him, and we go free! Moses had a heart like the heart of Christ; he wasn't in a position to do what Christ did, but he had a heart that was filled with that kind of a longing.
Yes, brethren, Christ died for us, leaving us an example. How dear to our hearts are the people of God?
In the next chapter, down toward the end, 12th verse: "And Moses said unto the LORD, See, Thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and Thou hast not let me know whom Thou wilt send with me. Yet Thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou halt also found grace in My sight." 13th verse: "Now therefore, I pray Thee, if I have found grace in Thy sight, show me now Thy way, that I may know Thee, that I may find grace in Thy sight: and consider that this nation is Thy people." Isn't that grand? He is casting that people back upon God, so he reminds God that they are His people. That is faith, beloved.
14th verse: "And He said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest." 15th verse: "And he said unto Him, If Thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence." Moses is determined to connect the people of God with God Himself. His attitude is, "We can't go up without Thee." So he insisted that God should acknowledge that link with His people. 16th verse: "For wherein shall it be known here that I and Thy people have found grace in Thy sight? is it not in that Thou goest with us? So shall we be separated, I and Thy people [Moses doesn't say my people, but Thy people] from all the people that are upon the face of the earth." How can God resist pleading like that? God delights to hear a man bear on his heart the burden of the people of God. Many characters in Scripture have done it, not only Moses. Daniel did it. Nehemiah did it. Oh, yes. Many a servant has borne on his heart the burden of the people of God.
17th verse: "And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in My sight." If I may say it reverently, God capitulates, God gives in. He
can't stand out before pleading like that. Not one grain of self was in that petition of Moses'. It was God's people he was thinking about—not himself.
Ah, beloved, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who... made Himself of no reputation." Why did He do it? For you and for me. "Christ loved the church." He died for it—left us an example. What do we know about giving ourselves for the Church of God?
Shall we go, for another example, to 1 Chron. 21:11And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel. (1 Chronicles 21:1)—"And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel." 7th verse: "And God was displeased with this thing; therefore He smote Israel." 8th verse: "And David said unto God, I have sinned greatly, because I have done this thing: but now, I beseech Thee, do away the iniquity of Thy servant; for I have done very foolishly." We will notice a few things here. Satan was the one that thought up this scheme to get David to number the people, and David lent himself to the devil as a tool well fitted to the devil's hand. Someone might say, "Well, if Satan moved him to do it, he couldn't help himself." Oh, nothing of the kind! Satan knew before he ever moved David to number his people that David was in an attitude of pride of heart that made him easy prey. All that Satan had to do was whisper the suggestion into his ear and David was in a state of soul that caused him to give in immediately. So he ordered the people numbered.
David had a nephew by the name of Joab, a clever man of the world, an unsaved man, but a man experienced in reading human character—a clever politician, and quite a general. That man of the world sensed that David his king was making a blunder. Brethren, isn't it a sad thing that we children of God, when we get out of communion, can do such stupid things that worldlings can see it and rebuke us for it? A child of God out of communion seems more stupid than a worldling, and so Joab rebuked David for his folly, but he went ahead just the same.
Self-will is an awful thing. Oh, it has wrecked multitudes of God's people. David went ahead and numbered the people; he got his way. When the whole thing was over, and he had what he thought would make him happy, how did he feel about it? Oh, his conscience smote him!
Why is David called the man after God's own heart? I believe it is for this reason: that David had a conscience that was operative, and when he sinned he was willing to admit it one hundred per cent. When he made his confession there were no conditions attached to it—I have sinned. I have done very foolishly. I offer no excuse. That is a man after God's own heart.
Now if you are to see a contrast with this, look at Saul. Saul sinned and the prophet came to him and pointed his sin right in his face. What did Saul say? "I have sinned," and what was the next thing? "Honor me now... before the elders of my people." Oh, the shallowness, the hypocrisy of it all! What is the difference? His language was almost word for word the language of David. What was the difference? One man was exposed before the eyes of God, and conscience was at work, and he was smitten in contrition before his God. The language of David on another occasion was, "Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight." Psa. 51:44Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. (Psalm 51:4). How was it with Saul? Saul was sorry that he was caught. He was found out, but the only thing that concerned Saul was, "Honor me now... before... my people." About whom was he thinking? He was thinking of Saul. All his thoughts revolve around Saul.
Now let us see how it was with this dear man of God. 13th verse: "And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let me now fall into the hand of the LORD; for very great are His mercies: but let me not fall into the hand of man." Oh, that dear saint knew the heart of his Lord. The evil servant in the Gospels when brought to account said, "I knew thee that thou art a hard man." He didn't know the heart of his lord. "Very great are His mercies." The Lord sent pestilence upon Israel, and there fell of Israel seventy thousand men. One of the saddest things I know about is that when a saint of God gets away from God, gets into sin, he oftentimes drags with him into the path of sin, corruption, sorrow, and suffering many others of God's dear people. That is one of the tragic things about it. When you and I miss the path and go wrong, the likelihood is that we are going to lead somebody else.
In the last chapter of John's Gospel, Peter went back to his
fishing. The Lord had called him away from that occupation, but the yearning for that old trade comes back and he says, "I go a fishing," and he took six men with him. Ah, yes. He took six men with him into a, fruitless night of toil. All night, yet they took nothing. When we go wrong, we take others with us into a fruitless departure. How sad!
17th verse: "And David said unto God, Is it not I that commanded the people to be numbered? even I it is that have sinned and done evil indeed; but as for these sheep, what have they done? let Thine hand, I pray Thee, 0 LORD my God, be on me, and on my father's house; but not on Thy people, that they should be plagued." 0 brethren, there is something majestic in that prayer. What a clean, blessed confession it is—I have done the sinning. I am the one that is guilty. He doesn't lay the blame on Satan. He doesn't say, "The devil made me do it and I couldn't help myself." He says, "I have sinned... but as for these sheep, what have they done?" Oh, that is the heart of Christ!