How should one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, except their Rock had sold them, and the LORD had shut them up?…
It is not in the power of Satan to originate any new thing. Knowing that his power is restricted, the utmost he can do is to make spurious imitations of God's good things. His base purpose is to deceive man with spectral illusions. His nefarious design is to raise before the world's eye an empty mirage of a carnal paradise.
I. EVERY MAN CRAVES FOR SOME GROUND OF CONFIDENCE, EXTERNAL TO HIMSELF. To the men of the East, this external foundation of trust was best described as a rock. What the solid rock is amid the loose alluvial soil of Egypt, or amid the shifting sand of the desert, that God is designed to be unto every man. Complete independence is impossible to created man. He can never be self-contained nor self-nourished. Pure atheism has never been a permanent resting-place for the human heart. When the invisible God is forsaken, the human mind swings toward idolatry. The carnal mind finds delight in a ground of confidence that is visible and tangible. Some god we must have, if it be only the shadowy deity named Fate, or Law, or Chance.
II. COMPLETE CONTRAST EXISTS BETWEEN THE OBJECTS OF HUMAN TRUST. The only point of similarity is the name. The devil borrows this, so as the better to throw dust in the eyes of his followers. Our God is a Rock; the world also has its counterfeit rock. By the judgments and verdict of worldly men, our Rock differs in tote from theirs. Their rock, they acknowledge, is unstable and unreliable. They trust it simply because they know not a better. It is misnamed a rock. Their rock ofttimes deserts them in the hour of greatest need. Ah! fortune, say they, is fickle. Very tyrannical and self-willed is fate. But our God is a Rock in very deed. He never forsakes his liege disciples. In the darkest hour he is nearest - the "shadow of a great rock in a weary land." Their misnamed rock encourages them to enter the battle-field, and then forsakes them. They are "sold to the enemy."
III. NOTWITHSTANDING THE CONTRAST IN THESE OBJECTS OF TRUST, THE FALSE IS A CLEVER IMITATION OF THE TRUE. All through life, we find that the false counterfeits the true. The thief puts on the pretence of honesty. The villain trains himself to use fair speech. The adulterer wears the garb of virtue. Beauty is the robe of God, but the devil fabricates meretricious tinsel. He, too, has his "Promised Land," but it is a fool's paradise. He has his vine, but his vine is the vine of Sodom, which generates drunkenness and unchastity. He also has his fields, but they are fields of Gomorrah. The fruits are pleasant to the eye, but they turn to ashes in the mouth. There is the appearance of grapes, but lo! the juice is gall - the clusters are bitterness itself. And not only is the experience disappointing, it is even disastrous and deadly. This pretended wine is only poison, it is a gilded pill. Cruel deceit has provided this counterfeit banquet. Beneath the glamour of a fair exterior, there is the "serpent's venom." Thus fares it with all who leave their God. They find out the bitter mistake at last. So sang Byron in his last days -
"The worm, the canker, and the grief
Are mine alone."
IV. SUCH HUMAN EXPERIENCES OF THE FALSE, GOD USES IN THE GOVERNMENT OF THE WORLD. "Is not this laid up in store with me, and sealed up among my treasures?" God knew well what the effects of an idolatrous course would be, what bitter vexation and disaster would come at last. But he foresaw that it was better for men that they should pass through this experience than that he should remove the possibility of it. He might have prevented, by exercise of power, the stratagems of the tempter. He might have curtailed Satan's freedom, and put on him chains of darkness from the first. But his infinite wisdom has decided otherwise. He foresees more glorious results from this method, so he patiently waits; he calmly watches the stages of the process. "Their foot," says he, "shall slide in due time." "The day of their calamity is at hand." Now, it is difficult to discern between a grain of living seed and a grain of dead sand; but put both into the furrowed field, and give them time, so when the day of harvest comes, the man who sowed the sand will be covered with shame, while he who sowed good seed will bear gladly his sheaves into the heavenly garner. Our business now is to discriminate between God's corn and the devil's chaff. "The day will declare it." - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: How should one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, except their Rock had sold them, and the LORD had shut them up?