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THE CHARIOTS OF GOD
Chariots are for conveyance and progress. Earthly chariots carry the bodies of those who ride in them over all intervening distances or obstacles to the place of their destination, and God’s chariots carry their souls. No words can express the glorious places to which that soul shall arrive who travels in the chariots of God. And our verse tells us they are “very many.” All around us on every side they wait for us; but we, alas! we do not always see them. Earth’s chariots are always visible, but God’s chariots are invisible.
The king of Syria came up against the man of God with horses and chariots that were visible to every one, but God had chariots that could be seen by none save the eye of faith. The servant of the prophet could only see the outward and visible, and he cried, as so many have done since, “Alas, my Master! how shall we do?” But the prophet himself sat calmly within his house without fear, because his eyes were opened to see the invisible. And all that he asked for his servant was, “Lord, I pray thee open his eyes that he may see.”
This is the prayer we need to pray for ourselves and for one another, “Lord, open our eyes that we may see.” For the world all around us is full of God’s horses and chariots, waiting to carry us to places of glorious victory.
But they do not look like chariots. They look instead like enemies, sufferings, trials, defeats, misunderstandings, disappointments, unkindnesses. They look like Juggernaut cars of misery and wretchedness, that are only waiting to roll over us and crush us into the earth; but they really are chariots of triumph in which we may ride to those very heights of victory for which our souls have been longing and praying.
If we would “ride on the high places of the earth” we must get into the chariots that can take us there; and only the “chariots of God” are equal to such lofty riding as this.
We may make out of each event in our lives either a Juggernaut car to crush us, or a chariot in which to ride to heights of victory. It all depends upon how we take them; whether we lie down under our trials and let them roll over and crush us, or whether we climb up into them as into a chariot, and make them carry us triumphantly onward and upward.
Whenever we mount into God’s chariots the same thing happens to us spiritually that happened to Elisha. We shall have a translation. Not into the heavens above us, as Elisha did, but into the heaven within us, which after all is almost a grander translation than his. We shall be carried up away from the low earthly groveling plane of life, where everything hurts and everything is unhappy, up into the “heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” where we shall ride in triumph over all below.
These “heavenly places” are interior, not exterior, and the road that leads to them is interior also. But the chariot that carries the soul over this road is generally some outward loss, or trial or disappointment; some chastening that does not indeed seem for the present to be joyous, but grievous; but that nevertheless afterward yieldeth the peaceable fruits of righteousness to them that are exercised thereby.
Look upon these chastenings, no matter how grievous they may be for the present, as God’s chariots sent to carry your souls into the “high places” of spiritual achievement and uplifting, and you will find that they are after all “paved with love.”
Your own individual chariot may look very unlovely. It maybe a cross-grained relative or friend; it may be the result of human malice, or cruelty, or neglect; but every chariot sent by God must necessarily be paved with love, since God is love, and God’s love is the sweetest, softest, tenderest thing to rest one’s self upon that was ever found by any soul anywhere. It is His love indeed that sends the chariot.
Here the prophet tells us that it was God’s displeasure against the obstacles which beset the path of His people that made Him come to their rescue, riding in His “chariots of salvation.” Everything becomes a “chariot of salvation” when God rides upon it.
The “clouds” that darken our skies and seem to shut out the shining of the sun of righteousness are, after all, if we only knew it, His chariots, into which we may mount with Him, and “ride prosperously” over all the darkness.
A late writer has said that we cannot, by even the most vigorous and toilsome efforts, sweep away the clouds, but we can climb so high above them as to reach the clear atmosphere overhead; and he who rides with God rides upon the heavens far above all earth-born clouds.
This may sound fanciful, but it is really exceedingly practical when we begin to act it out in our daily lives.
I knew a lady who had a very slow servant. She was an excellent girl in every other respect, and very valuable in the household, but her slowness was a constant source of irritation to her mistress, who was naturally quick, and who always chafed at slowness. The lady would consequently get out of temper with the girl twenty times a day, and twenty times a day would repent of her anger, and resolve to conquer it, but in vain. Her life was made miserable by the conflict. One day it occurred to her that she had for a long while been praying for patience, and that perhaps this slow servant was the very chariot the Lord had sent to carry her soul over into patience. She immediately accepted it as such, and from that time used the slowness of her servant as a chariot for her soul. And the result was a victory of patience that no slowness of anybody was ever after able to disturb.
Another instance: I knew a sister at one of our conventions who was put to sleep in a room with two others on account of the crowd. She wanted to sleep, but they wanted to talk, and the first night she was greatly disturbed, and lay there fretting and fuming long after the others had hushed and she might have slept. But the next day she heard something about God’s chariots, and that night she accepted these talking sisters as her chariots to carry her over into sweetness and patience, and she lay there feeling peaceful and at rest. When, however, it grew very late, and she knew they all ought to be sleeping, she ventured to say slyly, “Sisters, I am lying here riding in a chariot,” and the effect was instantaneous in producing perfect quiet. Her chariot had carried her over to victory, not only inwardly, but at last outwardly as well.
If we would ride in God’s chariots, instead of in our own, we should find this to be the case continually.
Our constant temptation is to trust in the “chariots of Egypt.” We can see them; they are tangible and real, and they look so substantial; while God’s chariots are invisible and intangible, and it is hard to believe they are there. Our eyes are not opened to see them.
We try to reach the high places with the “multitude of our chariots.” We depend first on one thing, and then on another, to advance our spiritual condition and to gain our spiritual victories. We “go down to Egypt for help.” And God is obliged often to destroy all our own chariots before he can bring us to the point of mounting into His.
We lean too much upon a dear friend to help us onward in the spiritual life, and the Lord is obliged to separate us from that friend. We feel that all our spiritual prosperity depends on our continuance under the ministry of a favorite preacher, and we are mysteriously removed. We look upon our prayer-meeting or our Bible-class as the chief source of our spiritual strength, and we are shut up from attending it. And the “chariot of God,” which alone can carry us to the places where we hoped to be taken by the instrumentalities upon which we have been depending, is to be found in the very deprivations we have so mourned over. God must burn up with the fire of His love every chariot of our own that stands in the way of our mounting into His.
Let us be thankful, then, for every trial that will help to destroy our chariots, and will compel us to take refuge in the chariot of God, which stands ready and waiting beside us.
We have to be brought to the place where all other refuges fail us, before we can say, “He only.” We say, “He and—something else.” “He, and my experience,” or “He, and my church relationships,” or “He, and my Christian work”; and all that comes after the “and” must be taken away from us, or must be proved useless before we can come to the “He only.” As long as visible chariots are at hand, the soul will not mount into the invisible ones.
If we want to ride with God “upon the heavens,” we have to be brought to an end of all riding upon the earth.
To see God’s “goings,” we must get into the “sanctuary” of his presence; and to share in His “goings” and “go” with Him, we must abandon all earthly “goings.”
When we mount into God’s chariot our goings are “established,” for no obstacles can hinder its triumphal course. All losses therefore are gains that bring us to this.
Paul understood this, and he gloried in the losses which brought him such unspeakable gain.
Even the “thorn in the flesh,” the messenger of Satan sent to buffet him, became only a chariot to his willing soul, that carried him to heights of triumph which he could have reached in no other way. To “take pleasure” in one’s trials, what is this but turning them into the grandest of chariots?
Joseph had a revelation of his future triumphs and reigning, but the chariots that carried him there looked to the eye of sense like the bitterest failures and defeats. It was a strange road to a kingdom, through slavery and a prison, and yet by no other road could Joseph have reached his triumph. His dream, Gen. 37:5-10; His chariots, Gen. 37:19, 20, 27, 28; 39:19, 20; How he rode in his chariots, Gen. 39:1-6, 21-23; His triumph, Gen. 43:38-43.
And now a word as to how one is to mount into these chariots.
My answer would be simply this: Find out where God is in each one of them, and hide yourself in Him. Or, in other words, do what the little child does when trouble comest, who finds its mother and hides in her arms. The real chariot after all that takes us through triumphantly is the carrying of God.
The baby carried in the chariot of its mother’s arms rides triumphantly through the hardest places, and does not even know they are hard.
And how much more we, who are carried in the chariot of the “arms of God”!
Get into your chariot, then. Take each thing that is wrong in your lives as God’s chariot for you. No matter who the builder of the wrong may be, whether men or devils, by the time it reaches your side it is God’s chariot for you, and is meant to carry you to a heavenly place of triumph. Shut out all the second causes, and find the Lord in it. Say, “Lord, open my eyes that I may see, not the visible enemy, but thy unseen chariots of deliverance.”
Accept His will in the trial, whatever it may be, and hide yourself in His arms of love. Say, “Thy will be done; Thy will be done!” over and over. Shut out every other thought but the one thought of submission to His will and of trust in His love. Make your trial thus your chariot, and you will find your soul “riding upon the heavens” with God in a way you never dreamed could be.
I have not a shadow of doubt that if all our eyes were opened today we would see our homes, and our places of business, and the streets we traverse, filled with the “chariots of God.” There is no need for any one of us to walk for lack of chariots. That cross inmate of your household, who has hitherto made life a burden to you, and who has been the Juggernaut car to crush your soul into the dust, may henceforth be a glorious chariot to carry you to the heights of heavenly patience and longsuffering. That misunderstanding, that mortification, that unkindness, that disappointment, that loss, that defeat, all these are chariots waiting to carry you to the very heights of victory you have so longed to reach.
Mount into them, then, with thankful hearts, and lose sight of all second causes in the shining of His love who will “carry you in His arms” safely and triumphantly over it all.
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