"We are journeying to the place of which the Lord said, I will give it you. Come thou with us, and we will do thee good; for the Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel."—Num_10:29.
The religion of the Bible is a perfect transcript of the Divine Mind; being holy, just, and good. It is holy in its nature, just in its practice, and good in its influence. There will be the spirit of purity, the practice of righteousness, and the diffusion of goodness. To do good is the truest pleasure and the highest dignity of which the human mind is capable. The sphere of goodness is exceedingly extensive. There are multitudes of objects on whom it may be usefully and satisfactorily expended. The poor, the fatherless, widows orphans, the sick, &c. are all fit objects of Christian compassion. While these ought not to be forgotten, there are others whose poverty and wretchedness is of a mental and moral description, whose claims are of the first importance. To feed the hungry mind—to instruct the spiritually dark—to win souls to God—is the highest wisdom and the truest goodness. The text exhibits to our view one way in which we ought to attempt to effect this great object; by kindly inviting those around us to accompany us to the heavenly Zion. Notice,
I. God's people are travelling to the celestial Canaan
"We are journeying to the place," &c., Two things deserve notice: The Journey And, The Place to which they are Journeying.
1. The journey.
(1) The journey commences in the day of conversion. It is then that the course of sin and misery is abandoned; that the back is turned upon the City of Destruction; that the mind is changed, old things passing away, and all things becoming new; the whole state completely reversed.
(2) This journey is continued by the soul advancing in the knowledge and love of God;—by the mortifying of the flesh, and the continual crucifixion of the old man with his deeds; by diligence in the spiritual calling; by following the footsteps of the Great Exemplar, and growing daily in the spirit and mind of Christ. This journey can only be continued by self-denial, labor, and perseverance in the things of God.
(3) This journey terminates at death. This is the end of the race—the close of the day—the conclusion of the warfare. "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life;" Rev_2:10. It is at death that those who are in the Lord rest from their labors. Notice,
2. The place to which they are journeying.
This is the celestial Canaan; which is,
(1) A land of rest. So was Canaan of old to the Israelites. In the wilderness they had toils, and fatigue, and drought, and enemies; but in Canaan they possessed the promised rest. In this life the believer has a rest; for "we who believe do enter into rest." This is a rest from the drudgery of sin, from the slavery of the devil from distressing fears and apprehensions of divine wrath. But the present rest is not perfect; it is often interrupted and disturbed; but there remaineth a rest full, free, complete, and eternal, for the people of God. To this final rest they are tending, and in Canaan this glorious rest shall be enjoyed. It is
(2) A land of riches and prosperity. "For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of waters, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and pomegranates; a land of oil, olives, and honey; a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness," &c. Deu_8:7; Deu_6:10. This is but a faint emblem of the heavenly Canaan. There is the tree of life ever bearing its immortal fruit. There is the river of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb. There is the unbeclouded sky—the never-setting sun; fulness of joys, and pleasures for evermore. Rev_21:10, &c.; Rev_22:1-7.
(3) A land prepared for and promised to God's spiritual Israel. The former Canaan was prepared for and bestowed upon the believing posterity of Abraham. So all who possess the faith of Abraham, and are thus his spiritual seed, shall inherit the Canaan above Heaven is prepared for such, promised to such, and such shall inherit it forever. "Fear not, little flock," &c. Luk_12:32; 1Pe_1:2-3; Jam_1:12; Rev_21:27.
II. God's People feel it their duty to invite others to journey with them to the Promised Land.
Hence they say, "Come thou with us," &c. This implies,
1. That there are many who are not in the way to this goodly land.
This is obvious both from Scripture and observation. "World lieth in wickedness." "Wide is the gate, and broad is the way," &c. Many nations; many of our own country; many in our own neighborhoods; many of our relatives and friends. It implies,
2. That there is room and freedom for more in the way to heaven.
It is said the way is narrow, but that refers only to character, too narrow to admit the least indulged sin; but in point of room, wide enough for the whole world Yes, after all who have set out for Zion there is yet room for more. The Spirit and bride say, Come; and all that will may come, and take of the water of life freely. And the Saviour says, "He that cometh unto me I will in nowise cast out." See also Isa_1:18; Isa_55:1; Eze_33:11; Rom_10:13. It implies,
3. That God's people are anxious that others should join them in their way to heaven.
In trade men are often envious, and try to monopolize; not so in grace. The believer does not wish to go to heaven alone he knows that in breaking the bread of life to others, it is multiplied in his hands; and the more he gives, the more is left for him self. In watering he is watered; in bless ing he is blessed; and,
"The more comes in with free good will,
Makes the banquet sweeter still."
He has learned the valuableness of souls, the greatness of the gospel salvation, and therefore he desires that these souls should enjoy this salvation, and be delivered from the wrath to come.
4. God's people use their influence to prevail with those around them to accompany them to heaven.
They invite them, saying, Come with us! They practically invite them, by amiableness of disposition, sweetness of temper righteousness of life; and thus allure them by the excellencies they manifest, and constrain them to glorify our Father who is in heaven.
III. That God's People have good reasons to assign why those around should go with them to the goodly Land.
The reasons in the text are two: "We will do you good;" and, "The Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel." The first is a human reason and therefore limited The second is a divine reason, and unlimited.
1. There is the promise of benevolent help.
"We will do you good." Every human being may do much good or much evil The Christian may do the sinner much good by his instructions—showing to him the way of God more perfectly; by his kindly encouragements; by his attractive example, and by his spiritual influence He may take him by the hand, and pray that God may grant him the blessings of his efficient help and grace.
What good Jacob did to Laban—Abraham to Abimelech—Moses to the Israelites, &c.
2. There is the good declaration of God concerning Israel.
"The Lord hath spoken good." What has he not said? Has he not given the most precious promises and the most gracious assurances? Is he not the sun and shield of his people? He has promised to give grace and glory, and to withhold no good thing. He has said he will guide, support, protect, and keep to eternal life: that he will bestow peace and joy, and finally confer upon his saints "a crown of glory that fadeth not away." And what he hath spoken shall assuredly come to pass, not one word shall fail of all the good the Lord hath spoken.
1. The present state of God's people. It is a journeying state. They are now pilgrims and strangers on the earth: this Is the time of their toil and suffering.
2. The happiness of God's people. Children of God, heirs of eternal life, expectants of the glory that shall be revealed.
3. The true wisdom of those who are without. To accompany God's people on their heavenly pilgrimage. Those who walk with wise men shall be wise—and with believers shall be saved. Sinners, delaying to join Zion's travellers; reply to their benevolent invitations by saying, "We will go with you, for we perceive that God is with you."