Walking with God

“Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” —Amos 3:3

THE query of our text was addressed to the nation of Israel, the typical people of God. In the preceding verse, the Lord declares to them, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth.” (Amos 3:2) As his own chosen people, God had been faithful to them, but they had not been faithful to him, and in this prophecy he explains his purpose in chastising them, that it was to bring them into line with the covenant he had made with them. He wanted them to see the error of their ways, and to make a more earnest effort to do his will, and it was his will that they walk with him. But how could they walk with God unless they were in agreement with him; that is, unless they were fully committed to the doing of his will?

While in principle the thought of our text applies to all human relationships, God asked the question of those who specifically professed to walk with him, with the intent of pointing out to them that this could only be true if they were in full agreement with him, and with his will. We can walk with God only if our hearts and lives are in full agreement with his will. God does not change his course in order to walk with us. Instead, we must find out the way he would have us walk, and agree to walk that way if it is to be true of us that we are indeed walking with God. This was true of typical Israel, and it is equally true of the Lord’s people today.

The Hebrew word translated ‘agreed’ in our text is one that is used exclusively in the Old Testament to denote joint action in the doing of God’s will. In Numbers 10:3 it is translated ‘assemble’, and in the passage, instructions are given to the effect that when two trumpets were blown, all the children of Israel were to assemble at the door of the Tabernacle of the congregation. If but one trumpet was blown, then only the princes of Israel were to assemble. Failure to respond to the call of these silver trumpets would denote a lack of full obedience, a failure to walk with God. In Nehemiah 6:10, this same Hebrew word is translated ‘meet’, and the reference is to meeting together in the house of the Lord.

From the use of this word in our text, and from its other uses in the Old Testament applying to God’s people, it becomes clear that God wants his people to be in agreement with him as a group, that his will for one is his will for all, that in the execution of his plan he calls for joint action—that when his silver trumpets are blown, he expects all his people to assemble. This has been true in God’s dealings with all of his people in every age. His chosen people in every age are his co-workers in the great plan of human redemption and salvation, and those who have had his blessing are the ones who have been attentive to the silver tones of truth that have reached their ears through Jesus, the prophets and apostles, and others whom he has raised up from time to time.

Enoch Walked with God

In Genesis 5:22,24, we are told that Enoch “walked with God.” Not a great deal is said in the Scriptures concerning Enoch, but we are assured that he had faith in God, and was faithful in bearing testimony to the truth that God had revealed to him. (Heb. 11:3) Jude informs us that Enoch prophesied concerning the coming of the Lord to judge the world, and that myriads of his saints would then be associated with him. (Jude 14) In the light of truth subsequently revealed, it is manifest that Enoch’s walk with God consisted of his faithfulness to the light then due to be understood. His heart was in agreement with God’s plan, and his lips bore testimony thereto.

Genesis 6:9 declares that “Noah walked with God.” We know more about Noah’s life of faithfulness to God than we do about Enoch’s. He was a chosen servant of God to perform a very definite mission in connection with the ending of “the world that then was.” (II Pet. 3:6) It required great faith in God and utmost confidence in his instructions to perform the task assigned to him, but it was his faithfulness in obeying the divine will that constituted Noah’s walk with God.

Much was involved in Noah’s walk with God. He was called upon to be a preacher of righteousness, and was commissioned to build the ark in preparation for the coming Flood. Had he failed in either of these privileges of service he would not have been walking with God. But he did not fail. He was in agreement with God’s will for him, and did not shirk the responsibilities involved in doing what he knew the Lord wanted him to do.

Abraham walked with God, his great faith enabling him to believe and act upon the promises made to him. But his being in agreement with God cost him a great deal, changing the whole course of his life. Abraham’s faith in the Lord, and his agreement with the divine will, constituted him a friend of God. One of the essential foundations of genuine friendship is agreement. Those who are out of harmony with each other cannot be wholehearted friends.

In Moses we have another noble example of one who walked with God because of being in agreement with him. As a young man, Moses was interested in the promises of God, and solicitous for the well-being of God’s people. He had more respect for the promises of God and what they implied for him and all his brethren than he did for the glory of Egypt. On one occasion he manifested his interest in God’s people by slaying one of their oppressors. But it required more than his faith in God and his interest in the people of God to constitute walking with him.

Forty years after Moses fled from Egypt to escape the wrath of Pharaoh, God appeared to him at the burning bush, and there gave him a commission of service. He was to return to Egypt, intercede before Pharaoh on behalf of his brethren, and be the great deliverer of the children of Israel. At first, Moses’ agreement with this plan of God for him was only in part. Doubtless he was glad to learn that God intended to deliver his chosen people from Egyptian bondage, but he did not agree with God that he was the one who was qualified to have the lead in such a great undertaking, so he offered the excuse that he was not able to speak.

In response to Moses’ objections, God assured him of his cooperation by providing Aaron to be a mouthpiece. Finally Moses agreed with the Lord and embarked zealously on the mission assigned to him. It was at this point that his walk with God began. Prior to this he was in the position of those who know something about God’s promises, and have a measure of confidence in their Author, but have not come into full agreement with him as co-workers in his plan. There is a definite time in the experience of every servant of God when the opportunity is given either to go forward and cooperate fully in the divine program, or else be left on the sidelines among those who are glad that God has a plan, but do nothing special about it—they do not walk with God!

A Cloud of Witnesses

We might go on and cite one after another of those ancient servants of God and note their faithful walk with him, a faithfulness based upon their being in agreement with him. The Apostle Paul speaks of them as a “cloud of witnesses,” recalling their example of loyalty as an incentive to the Lord’s people similarly to walk by faith with God and to follow faithfully in the way he indicates to be his will for us. (Heb. 12:1) This may ofttimes mean, as it did in the case of Abraham, exercising implicit faith in the promises of God and following his directions without knowing just where he may be leading. But even under such circumstances our hearts should be able to respond in those well-known words of the poet:

“I’d rather walk in the dark with God
   Than go alone in the light;
I’d rather walk by faith with him
   Than go alone by sight.”

But in order to walk with God at all, it is essential that we be in agreement with him, and the outstanding example we have of complete fidelity to God is Jesus. After telling us of the great cloud of witnesses with which we are surrounded, the apostle sets before us the perfect example of Jesus—“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:1,2) Had Jesus not been in agreement with his Heavenly Father he would not have attained that high position at the right hand of the throne of God.

At the early age of twelve, Jesus began to inquire the way of the Lord—“Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” he asked his parents when they found him in the Temple. (Matt. 2:49) Even then, Jesus knew that he could not properly be about his Father’s business until he discovered what that business was. What he probably learned on this occasion was that under the requirements of the Law it would not be proper for him to enter upon the service of God until he was thirty years of age. So we read that when he began to be about thirty years of age he came to John at Jordan to be baptized.—Luke 3:23

That Which Had Been Written

It was at Jordan that Jesus began his walk with God. There he entered into a covenant with his Heavenly Father, agreeing to do all that had been written of him “in the volume of the Book.” (Heb. 10:7-9) Jesus steadfastly adhered to the terms of this covenant. On one occasion at least, it appears that his own natural preference would have been to take another course, but even in this severe time of testing he set aside his own wishes, saying, “Nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”—Matt. 26:39; Luke 22:42

On many occasions during the self-sacrificing ministry of Jesus we find him emphasizing his agreement with God. “I and my Father are one,” said he. (John 10:30) What a beautiful statement of the resignation of his own will to that of his Father! They were one because he was doing his Father’s will, not because they had jointly decided what was to be done. And if it were proper for Jesus, the “holy, harmless, undefiled” one to agree with the divine will in order to walk with God, is it not likewise essential for his followers to commit their ways fully to the Lord if they are to have the assurance that they are walking with God?—Heb. 7:26

This point cannot be emphasized too strongly! Satan has made great inroads of deception in nominal church circles with the argument that, after all, it doesn’t matter so much how one serves the Lord, or what he believes, but the important thing is to be sincere in what we do and the way we live—that this is all the Lord requires. Sometimes even among those enlightened by present truth there is a tendency to adopt this easygoing viewpoint of what it means to walk with God. Nominal Christianity finds it easy to yield to this indifferent attitude toward truth and the practice of the truth, for long ago they found their creeds indefensible. They reason that little is gained by arguing over viewpoints that cannot be supported by the Scriptures, and since they do not know the truth, they feel that the better way is simply to be sincere and live upright lives, and let it go at that.

But Jesus did not have this viewpoint, nor did any of the apostles. Jesus had agreed to do all that had been written of him, and thus being guided by the Word of God, he walked with God. Jesus knew that moral uprightness alone did not constitute walking with God. He knew that God had made a definite plan for the redemption and recovery of the human race. He knew that he had come into the world to perform a service in connection with that plan. He knew, therefore, that the only way to be pleasing to his God was to discover from the Word—the volume of the Book—just what that plan was, and the exact manner in which he was to serve in connection with it. There were certain things which God wanted done, and certain ways to do them, and it would have been unthinkable for Jesus to undertake a service for God along any other line.

In His Steps

Few Christians would disagree with this thought with respect to Jesus, but it is important to remember that as Christians we are called to follow in his steps, hence that this principle of learning and doing God’s will also applies to us. If we want to walk with God we must walk as Jesus did in this respect, as well as to emulate him along other lines. Jesus’ first advent occurred at the end of the Jewish Age and the beginning of the Gospel Age. God’s will for his people, therefore, changed at that time, and Jesus was the first one to call attention to this change.

Until then, the keeping of the Law was an important consideration for all who would be pleasing to God. Jesus did not teach that the Law had become unimportant, but that now there was a higher service to be rendered. He introduced a new covenant, not the prophetic “New Covenant” of Jeremiah 31:31, but a covenant that called for sacrifice. (Ps. 50:5) From that time forward, no one could walk with God simply by sincere efforts to live up to the requirements of the Law Covenant.

The apostles recognized this, and taught it. Many in the Early Church had failed to grasp the full significance of this great change which had been introduced by Jesus, so there was considerable controversy over the matter. But not once did the apostles suggest that if any couldn’t see this great truth of the new age they should not be concerned about it, that they could walk with God just the same.

When Noah walked with God it was necessary to build an ark; but in Moses’ day a Tabernacle was needed. So, beginning with Pentecost those who would walk with God were given a different task than were those who served him during the Jewish Age. As God’s plan developed, there was another work to be done. This meant that those in the Early Church who walked with God were walking together. Not only were they in agreement with God, but they were also in harmony with one another—they walked together, they served together, they died together, being together faithful to their covenant of sacrifice even unto death.

Another Change

Now we are approaching the end of the age which was introduced by Jesus at his first advent. It is still God’s will that his people follow in the footsteps of Jesus by laying down their lives sacrificially in his service. The great truth of the redemption and of the kingdom is the same now as then, but certain details with respect to the service of God are indicated by the Scriptures as being essential at the end of the age. One of these is the difference between sowing and reaping. Another is indicated in the divine commission to the church—Head and body—which is outlined in Isaiah 61:1-3—that additional feature of this commission, the declaring of the “day of vengeance of our God.”

But in order to appreciate the importance of these changes, it is first of all necessary to take into consideration certain prophecies pertaining to the disclosure of truth at the end of the age. The Scriptures foretold that following the death of the apostles there would be a great falling away from the faith once delivered unto the saints, that a great antichrist system of Christianity would develop, that the truth would be largely buried in the rubbish of human tradition, and then, at the end of the age, it would be restored, causing the people of God to rejoice.

Those who are rejoicing in the light of present truth have no difficulty in noting these developments in history, and they know that in fulfillment of the Master’s promise, when he returned he girded himself and served his people with “meat in due season.” (Luke 12:37; Matt. 24:45) To use another metaphor, they have heard the silver trumpet of truth, and have recognized that thereby the Lord has called them to joint action in the doing of his will; that now, if they are to walk with him, it is essential that they heed the clarion call of truth, and be ready to devote their lives to furthering the divine cause in the earth as it is outlined in “present truth.”—II Pet. 1:12

And how do we do that today? First, there is the harvesting of the wheat to be finished, the completion of the work of the Gospel Age. In addition to this, there is the proclamation of the glorious hope of restitution for the world of mankind during the reign of the glorified Jesus and his faithful footstep followers in the approaching millennial kingdom. Thus we see that the twofold work which began with the return of our Lord Jesus was the wielding of the harvest sickle of truth, and the blowing of the antitypical Jubilee trumpet. Those who walk with God must be in agreement with him and his message of truth, and must together be telling the whole world these blessed tidings of the kingdom now so near.

“Ye are the light of the world,” Jesus said of his church, and the light that the Lord wants the world to have now is that which pertains to the near-establishment of the mediatorial kingdom of Christ. (Matt. 5:14) The bearing of such a message to the world calls for a presentation of the whole plan of God, including the day of vengeance. The Scriptures are explicit on this point—so definite that there is no valid reason for any truth-enlightened, consecrated Christian to ignore the divine will, and still believe he is walking with God.

We often sing,

“Send out thy light and truth, O Lord,
   Let them our leaders be.”

But the mere singing of these words is not enough. Two great truths are involved here: first, we are to make sure that we are following the leadership of the truth, which is the leadership of the Lord. If we are doing this we will also be laying down our lives by making known his truth to others, as far as possible giving the whole world an opportunity to hear the glad tidings. Thus we will be walking with God, and in the very nature of things we will be walking with one another.

Brethren, let us not for a moment compromise the truth, nor allow ourselves to think that it makes little difference what we do about its service. It has been given to us as a sacred trust, and by it we have been called to serve the divine cause. Let us serve in the right way, and let us serve together. Let us walk with God as did the prophets, our Lord Jesus, the apostles, and all who have learned to know and love the doing of God’s will.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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