“A Little Child Shall Lead Them”
Brief Notes of an Address on Genesis 32:1-2; Song of Songs 6:13; Isaiah 11:6; Revelation 12:1-12.
A prophet brings the mind of God to bear upon the present situation. The first two Scriptures I have read show a certain aspect of the present situation. Jacob had left Padan-aram and was journeying towards Bethel, the house of God. The angels of God, as a host, met him and he called the name of the place, Mahanaim, which means two armies. Again, Solomon asks the question, “What will ye see in the Shulamite?” The answer is, “As it were the company of two armies.”
It would be true to say that we also are two armies, for there have always been in the church of God the evangelists and the ecclesiastics. The evangelists are warm-hearted, large-hearted, burning to bring an emancipating Gospel to precious and perishing souls. Scripturally they agree with Gentiles. Generally they are simple in soul, anxious for large meetings, a little impatient of restraint and liable to despise authority.
The ecclesiastics, on the other hand, are content with smaller companies, delight in order and are painstaking to a degree in matters of detail. Scripturally they agree with the Jews. Usually they are more intelligent and enter more into sanctuary service. But they are liable to become somewhat bigoted and narrow, and even imagine they can get on without the evangelists.
There are two armies, but they must walk as one. Incidentally notice that in the first century Jews and Gentiles could walk as one. Unity should be a simple thing for us.
But there are other incipient cleavages. There are the old and the young. The young are apt to look on the old as nuisances, slow and quite unbending. The old are apt to judge the young as ignorant, insubordinate, even rude. But the old and the young must pull together. Abraham and Isaac, Elijah and Elisha, Paul and Timothy, teach us how blessed the union can be. In 1 Peter 5:2 and 5, the elders “feed” and the younger “submit.” Here is indicated a remedy.
Then we read of the Scythians and the Barbarians. The Scythian is the aristocrat with wealth and education. The poor Barbarian can hardly string a sentence together coherently or write without murdering the King’s English. But frequently it is the Scythian who causes trouble among the saints, and it is the Barbarian who is the more spiritual. There are other differences, but these will suffice.
In Isaiah 6 we find a remedy. How bring together the wolf, the leopard. the young lion, with the lamb, the kid, the calf? The situation seems impossible. And so it often is in assemblies of the Lord’s people, with such a divergence of natural characteristics, temperaments, outlooks, capabilities. I repeat, the thing seems impossible. But Isaiah also gives the remedy — “A little child shall lead them.” Do we believe it?
It worked in Acts 9. There Saul of Tarsus was like the wolf, the leopard, the lion. Ananias was like the lamb, the kid, the calf. Saul had been laid low. Ananias was nervous at first but eventually he too lay down. Had they not both come under the power and influence of “the little child”? Did He not lead them? Does He lead us? Incidentally, notice that of the two, Saul most distinctly seemed the less likely to be led. So Ananias can take courage.
In Revelation 12 we get teaching as to this in a prophetic way. You remember the contrast: the “great red dragon” and the “Man-child.” The former a description of the devil himself as embodied in the ruling power on earth. The Man-child, a delightful picture of Christ. Considered prophetically, we know that soon the devil is to be cast down and Christ is to be manifestly supreme over all the massed forces of evil. Our privilege now is to anticipate this, and to have the Man-child even now caught up to the thrones of our hearts, and to the place of supremacy in the assemblies of the saints.
Now what are the features of a little child? First, he is transparent. This marked our Lord. He said, “I spake openly to the world. . . and in secret have I said nothing” (John 18:20). Blessed words they were, which He spake.
Secondly, he is approachable, whereas a roaring lion drives you away. The Lord Jesus could say more truly than Elihu, “My terror shall not make thee afraid” (Job 33:7). The sinner of the city, the leper, the thief, these were attracted to Him. May we grow like Him in these things!
Thirdly, he is not an accuser, like the devil. In Revelation the accuser of our brethren is cast down. In contrast, notice the warmth of the Apostle’s heart, as shown in 1 Thessalonians 2. He manifested the heart of Christ for His own, and souls flourish in an atmosphere like that.
Fourthly, what marks a child according to God’s thought is obedience, and consequently he is happy. A disobedient child is never really happy. And can we set out to please ourselves and disregard our brethren without sad consequences to them and unhappiness to ourselves? If obedient, we can be happy in adverse circumstances. When Paul was chained to a Roman soldier, he could still write, “Rejoice in the Lord alway.” He was happy himself.
Saul had become Paul—meaning, Small. He was like the little child, but still he could be angry with satanic evil, as we see in his treatment of Elymas the sorcerer in Acts 13, for he could not compromise with sin. Righteous anger is a blessed feature, but it is all too rare nowadays.
We may discern these things in the saints to some degree, but in their perfection they are only found in the Lord Jesus Christ.