365 days with Newton

22 AUGUST

Birds of prey

‘And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not. And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away.’ Genesis 15:10–11
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: 2 Peter 2:1–22

We note the birds came down—an emblem:
(i) of the attempts that would be made to frustrate the covenant—by men and by Satan. This is the vain thing that is always imagined from age to age [Psalm 2:1]. But as Abraham drove the birds away, so the Lord himself will protect his church and his people and keep them as the apple of his eye.
(ii) of the evil thoughts and imperfections that accompany our holy things. Alas, we cannot attempt a sacrifice to the Lord our God, but the birds of prey are ready to devour it. Of this the Apostle complains, When I would do good evil is present with me [Romans 7:21]. There are wandering thoughts, which insensibly catch our minds away till we forget almost where we are. And still worse, for there are wicked thoughts, such as would be wicked in any time or place, and are therefore doubly so when they mix with our sacrifices. The true believer, like Abraham, is grieved on this account and labours to drive them away. But formal worshippers regard them not. If they go through the outward duty they are satisfied.
(iii) May I not compare these birds to false believers? They would avail themselves of Christ’s sacrifice while they live and remain unclean, but they shall be driven away.

FOR MEDITATION: The Apostle was well acquainted with the Christian warfare, how fiercely the soul that loves Jesus is sure to be assaulted—he was well acquainted with the heart of man, how weak, deceitful and prone to wander. Yet, says he with a holy triumph, Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? [Romans 8:35].… While Jesus is the foundation, root, head and husband of his people, while the Word of God is yea and amen, while the counsels of God are unchangeable, while we have a Mediator and High Priest appointed of God, while the Holy Spirit is willing and able to bear witness to the truth of the gospel, while God is wiser than men and stronger than the devil, so long, the believer in Jesus is, and shall be, safe.
Sermon on Romans 8:30, The Searcher of Hearts

SERMON SERIES: GENESIS, NO. 32 [3/3], GENESIS 15:7–11

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