And it came to pass, when the ark set forward, that Moses said,
Rise up, LORD, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that
hate thee flee before thee. Numbers 10:35
.....As the Lord hath many enemies so he is pleased for a time to sleep
unto his enemies. He sleepeth; therefore it is said here, "Arise;" arising is
opposed to sleeping. Lord, why sleepest thou? Psalm 44:23. But what is
that? Not that we should understand it literally, for so the prophet derided
Baal's priests: "Cry aloud, it may be your God sleepeth," 1 Kings 18:27;
but understand it metaphorically: a man is said to be asleep when he is so
intense about one business that he doth not regard another; that business
which he doth not meddle with he is said to be asleep to: so, now, when
God shall have many enemies, and they shall blaspheme his name, and
revile his people, and hinder his ordinances, and God shall be deaf to all
their blasphemies, revilings, and all their wickedness; when they shall persist
in evil, and bring their wicked devices to pass, and yet God shall be as it
were blind to all their dealings; then God sleepeth to the enmity of his enemies.
Would you know the reasons?
It may be the enemies are not yet great enough for God to contend with.
The eagle doth not hunt after flies, and a lion doth not harness himself to battle
against a poor worm. It may be the malice of the enemy is not yet great enough,
and so is not a fit object for the great indignation of the great God, and therefore
God suffereth them to go on that it might be a greater and a more full object to
bear his indignation.
Again. Therefore God suffereth this, and seemeth to sleep for a time, because
his people are not provoked enough against their enemies. As it was with the
children of Israel that went against Benjamin, and fell before them twice, if Israel
had overcome them the first time, they would not have been so provoked against
them to have cut them all off as they were; but being beaten by them twice, thereby
they were provoked to their destruction. So God suffereth his enemies to prevail,
and sleepeth to the case of his people for a time, because the hearts of his people
are not stirred enough against their enemies to cut them off fully; when that is done,
then God awaketh.
Again, sometimes God sleepeth because his people sleep to him, and say, Arise,
to something else. They sleep to him. It was the speech of an emperor when he
was in prison, "Oh," said he, "when I was in my palace, I hoped so much in men,
that I neglected trusting in God; but now I am in prison, I may hope less in men,
and trust more in God." So it may be there is a time, when God's people do fall
asleep to God; hope too much in men, and not enough in God. Now, saith the
prophet, "Woe to him that saith to the stone, Arise," Hab. 11:19. Shall God arise
to his people, when they say to the stone, "Arise?" Shall God arise for his people,
when they sit down and arise not up themselves? Brethren, faith is prayer in the coals,
and prayer is faith in the flame; now it may be men's faith doth not burn out enough, it
burneth dark; they pray, but are not hot in prayer; they live, but they do not live out of
themselves in God enough. Wherefore that God may awaken his people, he sleepeth
himself. Sometimes it is for this end; because the pit of his enemies is not yet digged.
Consider that Psalm 94:12-13, "Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord,
and teachest him out of thy law; that thou mayest give him rest from the days of
adversity, until the pit be digged for the wicked.".....
Hence we may see what the reason is many times, why there is so much evil in
the churches, and why the enemies prevail so much, so long. God is the strength of
the churches, and our strength sleepeth sometimes upon all the afflictions of the churches.
We are apt to be much discouraged, like the disciples, who whilst our Saviour was in the
storm asleep, they came running in all haste to him, saying, "Carest thou not that we
perish?" So it is many times when a storm ariseth upon the church, God seemeth to
sleep, and we run in haste to God, and are apt to charge God, Lord, carest thou not
that we perish? But, peace, peace, he sleepeth only, he will awake shortly, you shall
see it, and they shall feel it.....