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Jottings

Human effort is consequential on both divine election and prayer. No one was seen to be more truly chosen than Jacob. His mother Rebecca in her distress went to enquire of the LORD and was told that she would be the mother of twin sons, and that the elder would serve the younger. On this fact Paul lays great stress when he wrote

"For the children being not yet born, neither having done anything good or bad, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth, it was said unto her, the elder shall serve the younger. Even as it is written, Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated" (Romans 9.11-13).

The choice being that of an unborn man, works played no part in his election; he could do no works before he was born, and his works after birth could play no part in his election, for he had already been chosen. It is a falsity to suppose that election is based upon the fact, that because God knew beforehand in His foreknowledge what the elect person would eventually do, therefore God chose him. This is to base election upon works, and make election according to works and not on Him that calleth, which is the exact opposite of what Paul says, as quoted above. Yet this falsity of explaining election by God's foreknowledge of what elect persons would do is held, I think, by some with whom I have spoken. This way of explaining the mystery of election is an attempt to explain the unexplainable. Election is a fact which must ever remain a mystery to us on earth, and perhaps for ever; it reaches down to the inscrutable of the divine will, of which the apostle wrote :

"0 the depth of the riches both of the wisdom, and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgements, and His ways past tracing out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been His counsellor? or who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of Him, and through Him, and unto Him, are all things. To Him be the glory for ever. Amen" (Romans 11.33-36).

Thus Paul ends his treatise on election. "He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say to Him, What doest Thou?" (Daniel 4.85). Thus wrote Nebuchadnezzar in his famous declaration, when he had learned that the heavens do rule. He had been truly as a beast before God (Psalm 73.22), and he learned much through being humbled.

In Jacob we not only learn the truth of divine election, we also learn how an elect person

" Wrestles on toward heaven

'Gainst storm and wind and tide."

Election is not fatalism, which latter assumes that if things are to be they will be, and that man on earth is subject to the inexorable decrees of fate, whatever fate is - some ogre or monster which presides over human destiny, a creature or a will which actually does not exist, but is a satanic invention to paralyse human beings and stop them seeking after God. What will be, will be, and man is a mere plaything in the hands of fate. This is not true!

Was there ever man who wrestled so much against the circumstances of adversity? Seeing he was God's elect, why was he not born first, born with the birthright? It would have been quite easy for God to cause him to have been the firstborn. Why did God not give Isaac insight into His purpose in Jacob and so have saved him from the wrong course of going to give the firstborn's blessing to Esau when Jacob had bought the birthright and his too was the election?

Why did Jacob need to wrestle with Laban who in his unrighteousness had changed Jacob's wages ten times and whose double-dealing caused Jacob to steal away to his own land? Why his trouble over Esau? his breaking with God? his sorrows with his family, consummated in the selling of Joseph into Egypt ?all these things were against him, but were like the inward rolling wave which lifts the boat and lands it safely on the shore. He was chosen yet he wrestled

and there was no fixed fate.

As with election, which is not according to the works of the elect but according to the will of Him who calleth, so prayer is not a matter which rests simply on asking God without the exercise of the person seeking what he asks for. Thus it is we find the psalmist writing

"One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after;

That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple" (Psalm 27.4)

This psalm was written at an early time in his life, probably early in the time of his persecutions by Saul, before David brought his father and mother to the king of Moab for safe keeping (1 Samuel 22.8-5). He says in Psalm 27.10, "For my father and mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me up." The one thing that David asked, which was the central feature of his life, was to be in God's house and to be near to Him all his days; to be in His safe keeping and to know Him better and still better; this was accompanied by his seeking after what he asked. His praying and his seeking were complementary. He was not one who prayed and went his way forgetful of what he asked, or so uninterested in formal praying that he did not bend his energy to reach the goal of what ha asked. Did not the Lord exhort His disciples, "Watch and pray"? Does it not often happen that we do the praying and think that God can do the watching? Indeed, are we not like the disciples who may have prayed when the Lord told them to pray, but they fell asleep?

Paul's words to the Christian soldier are apposite in this matter when he exhorts the soldier in this spiritual warfare to take up the whole armour of God

"with all prayer and supplication praying at all seasons in the Spirit (not to the Spirit as some erroneously do), and watching therennto in all perseverance and supplication for all the saints " (Ephesians 6.18).

Perseverance (Prosko plo, Pros, towards, kopto to cut or strike) means to strike against. It may be illustrated by the words of the Lord, who exhorted His disciples in prayer to knock and it would be opened unto them. They were to knock and to keep knocking, to ask and keep asking. We must ask as David did, for when he asked he set a watch to see when and how the LORD would answer him. The LORD'S watchmen are never to hold their peace day nor night, they are to take no rest and to give Him no rest (Isaiah 62.6, 7). Sometimes One has heard very well-thought-out and well-spoken prayers which were but eulogies of some of the ways Or doings of God, but one was almost tempted to say to the brother, "Ask something'." God is interested about doing things and we should ask Him to do them. How many things we would like Him to do, both for ourselves individually and for God's people and if we ask Him in regard to them do we seek after what we ask, do we persevere? We may get tired, languid, and perhaps fall asleep and instead of praying it is snoring. Is it not time to awake righteously? Is it not time to shake off dull sloth? We need not go to sleep though times are bad and there is a prevailing deadness and indifference. Though we walk through a cemetery we need not fall asleep in it. God is alive; He is awake. He is doing His work unseen by most, and He will work for us if we ask Him and seek after what we ask. He knows whether we are in earnest. Remember, He works for them that wait for Him. " Though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not delay" (Habakkuk 2.3). God's seeming delays are not denials. Were we in His stead and had His wisdom we would do exactly as He does. The Fellowship is in need of godly, praying men and women. We may not be able to preach with eloquence, but we can pray with power. We can be persistent. We can sit on God's doorstep and knock ever and anon. We can hold on and not let God go unless He blesses us. We can pray always and without ceasing. We may be frequent visitors to heaven. The way is there, it is free, and there is the utmost liberty to speak to God through Christ. Pray as you walk, pray as you sit, pray as you lie down, pray as you stand, pray on your knees, pray always and in every place.