The Close of Another Year

Acts 20:24‑35  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 6
Yes, another year will soon have passed away forever. What a year! How rapid the increase of evil! How have we spent this year? Soon our course will be run. How shall we each one be able to say, " I have finished my course." The apostle could say, when speaking of his warfare in the gospel, " None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy; and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more." (Acts 20:24, 2524But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. 25And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. (Acts 20:24‑25).) He seems to have been aware that his active warfare service was drawing to a close. A little later on he could say, " I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." (2 Tim. 4:7, 87I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7‑8).)
Paul may have referred to a remarkable scripture in the Old Testament. Numb. 8:24, 2524This is it that belongeth unto the Levites: from twenty and five years old and upward they shall go in to wait upon the service of the tabernacle of the congregation: 25And from the age of fifty years they shall cease waiting upon the service thereof, and shall serve no more: (Numbers 8:24‑25): "This is it that belongeth unto the Levites: from twenty and five years old and upward they shall go in to wait [or war the warfare] upon the service of the tabernacle of the congregation. And from the age of fifty years, they shall cease from the warfare of the service and shall serve no more." Thus their course of warfare service was from twenty-five to fifty years of age. And of that warfare service they shall serve no more.
" But shall minister with their brethren in the tabernacle of the congregation, to keep the charge, and shall do no service. Thus shalt thou do unto the Levites touching their charge." (Ver. 26.) Thus we have both the individual warfare service, and the ministry with their brethren. How is it we have so lost the beautiful teaching of the.se types written for our instruction? Is it not because the distinction between individual service and responsibility has become almost everything? And the precious ministry with our brethren in the sanctuary almost ignored?
An aged servant of Christ may find that his strength fails; he is no longer able to war the warfare. He says, I have finished my course, I can no longer get about; if he tries, he breaks down. He can no longer, it may be, preach the gospel, or lecture. Well, he has finished his course. Many who may have seen him in the warfare for long years will see his face no more. But should he be discouraged or distressed? Surely there is immense comfort in this precious ministry with his brethren in the sanctuary. (Ver. 26.) This ministry may also close, or it may go on until that blessed moment, the coming of the Lord. Every servant of Christ may now wait expecting to see his Lord.
In the beginning there was both the hard warfare service, and the ministry, when the assembly were gathered together in the sanctuary of His blessed presence. We find as to " the ministry " that " the prophets might speak two or three." And some of us remember the times of refreshing, when the children of God gathered in real dependence on the Holy Ghost, and it was so. Blessed seasons. Shall we give up this ministering with our brethren in the sanctuary? It will be sad for us if we do. But have we not too much done so? I beg my brethren to ponder these things. And we have seen, as in Paul's case, how the Lord can find ways and means of using His aged servant, even if he be in a prison.
When his active course was finished, how blessed <× the ministry" to the whole church of God, though a chained prisoner at Rome. And another in his day, when shut up by the priests in Bedford prison, was used in sending out his Pilgrim, which has been made a blessing to thousands.
It is very precious for an aged and infirm servant of the Lord, to experience His care and love even when He says, " There, now, as to your warfare which has been so dear to you, you shall so serve no more. But I give you a little space now, for ministry with your brethren. And it may be till I come." Oh, what depths of special sovereign mercy if the aged servant can in any little measure repeat the words, of Paul. (Acts 20:26-3526Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. 27For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. 28Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. 32And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. 33I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel. 34Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. 35I have showed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:26‑35) Tim. 4:7, 8.)
Precious Lord, how blessed to minister, to serve, with Thy brethren, until we see Thy face! And if taken before to say to beloved fellow laborers, " Feed the church of God." Yes, the whole church of God. C..S.