‘Look upon Zion … thine eyes shall see Jerusalem … there the glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby. For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; he will save us.’ Isaiah 33:20–22
Suggested Further Reading: Exodus 14:10–31
In 1588, when the Armada sailed towards Britain, God blew with his winds and all Spain’s mighty hosts were broken, and God’s favoured isle was free. We were doubtless spared the horrors of war under Napoleon because of the Channel. It was especially so in the old times of ancient warfare; then a narrow trench was almost as useful as a broad channel would be now, for they had no ready means of crossing, though on old Assyrian sculptures we see galleys with oars crossing over rivers, and we have one or two sculptures, I believe, in the British Museum, of the Assyrian king turning the river into another channel so that he might the more easily take the city. But still, rivers were for a defence. O beloved, what a defence is God to his church! Ah, the devil cannot cross this broad river of God. Between me and you, O fiend of hell, is my God. Do remember this, Christian; between you and your arch-enemy is your God; Satan has to stand on the other side, and how he wishes he could dry up that stream, but God is omnipotent. How he wishes he could change the current, but fear not, for God abides immutably the same. How he wishes he could get at you and me; but only once let us get safe landed in Zion, we may look over its walls across the broad rivers and streams, and remember that we are out of gunshot of the enemy so far as our spiritual existence is concerned. He cannot destroy us; worry us he may; for we are such timid souls, but kill he cannot, for God, even our mighty God keeps us safe beyond all possibility of destruction.
For meditation: Others may have assumed the title ‘Defender of the Faith’ or even undermined it—‘Defender of faith’—but God is the true and everlasting defender of his people (Psalm 5:11; 20:1; 59:1; Isaiah 31:5; 37:35; 38:6; Zechariah 12:8).
Sermon no. 489
18 January (1863)