Men of God have always resorted to the hope and consolation of the Scriptures in times of trial and persecution. The Apostle wrote, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be like minded one toward another after the example of Christ Jesus” (Romans 15:4). Such individuals have made the Word of God their daily meditation and their instruction book for living, not just in troublous times but as a thirsty or a hungry man would seek for daily nourishment. If one would seek to know God or desire wisdom to order his steps aright the source is still the same today as it was in the days of the Psalmist who prayed for Yahweh to reveal His Word to him that he might walk uprightly before Him. Not only so but he declared, “Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors” (Psalm 119:24).

So it is that the theme in this issue of The Lampstand bears the title “Wondrous Things Out of Thy Law” and in the three feature articles, selected aspects of “God’s law” are highlighted as they have particularly impressed the writer in each case. As a basis for what is to follow, Our Heritage article from the writings of Brother John Carter is entitled “Concerning God” and is appropriately taken from the book Delight in God’s Law. If we would be truly wise, then an understanding and a relationship with the Father is the critical prerequisite.

Without contradiction, we live in times which are just as perilous as any of our brethren have ever encountered. The factor which contributes to a much greater element of danger is the apparent prosperity and ease which we enjoy in this society. No obvious persecution; no problems with the authorities; no hindrance to our ecclesial meetings or activities—in fact, an overall condition of acceptability and respectability in the community! In this environment we may be lulled into a false sense of “community” and general well-being amongst our fellows: a sense that can lead us to seek outside the confines of the Truth when difficulties arise and help is needed.

Our beloved brethren of earlier times did not find themselves in such a situation. Rejected and shunned by the bulk of society, their comfort was clearly to be found within their little community and through prayer and meditation on the Hope which they espoused. Truly their delight was in the law of Yahweh and their comfort and counsel came from His Word.

In times of adversity—problems of life, sickness, relationships at work or at home—to whom do we turn for advice and guidance? It is quite fashionable nowadays to seek help from trained therapists, counsellors and practitioners in the world: in some special circumstances this may be an option. But our first recourse should surely be to “the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation… ”(2 Corinthians 1:3,4). Current conditions of respectability and acceptance in the community (even if we may be viewed as a “sect” in some quarters) are not likely to last indefinitely if we are faithful to our calling. How will we endure difficulties and rejection then if we have not built our lives on the sure foundation of our Hope and derived pleasure in our daily searching of the Word? “O how love I thy law!” wrote the Psalmist, “it is my meditation all the day… Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them”; or as the margin says “they shall have no stumblingblock” (Psalm 119:97).

There is no doubt we are caught up in a society which is looking for the instant remedy, the “quick fix”, the short term solution. What may seem to be an easy answer to our problems is in the end a “bandaid” application which treats only the symptoms and not the root cause of our difficulties. The practitioner’s excuse for our behaviour or the counsellor’s justification of our actions may salve our conscience and soothe our spirits but it will in no way change our thinking to fit us for participation in the glory to come or the hope we profess.

The brethren and sisters in the ecclesia in Smyrna found solace in the hope of the coming kingdom which unbeknown to them was yet centuries away: Joseph delighted in the promise of the prophecies he had understood and throughout the hardship and injustice heaped upon him trusted in the hope of a better day to come: the apostle Paul suffered gladly the infirmities of the flesh, the tribulations, persecutions, reproaches and distresses of opposition from within the ecclesia as well as those without because he was able to rejoice “in hope of the glory of God”.

All these were able to draw strength from their confidence in God because He had daily been their guide and His Word, in whatever form it came to them in their time, was a source of joy and delight. With so many other options available in our day even our commitment to the Daily Readings can become a “drudge” and anything but delightful. It is simply a fact of human nature that the less we read and apply ourselves to the Scriptures, the less we will desire to. Also in The Lampstand this issue is a daily readings summary of the book of Deuteronomy. The words of Yahweh Himself in Deuteronomy concerning Israel are a testimony to us as well, “O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!” (Deuteronomy 5:29). Again the Psalmist cries “Unless thy law had been my delights, I should have perished in mine affliction” (Psalm 119:92). The Word of God is an endless resource of “wondrous things”—an inexhaustible supply of hope; a balm for all ills. “For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life” (Proverbs 6:23). Therefore “I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil” (Psalm 119:162).