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RESTRAINING GRACE, #569

"Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come." (JOH 7:30)

This fourth Gospel is such a blessed revelation of the Person and Deity of Jesus Christ. The chapter we are studying gives such a clear evidence of what it says in JOH 1:4-5. "In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not." Now this chapter that we are studying is such a blessed evidence and revelation of how the light, the Lord Jesus Christ, the gospel, the Word of God, shined into the hearts of darkness, and they comprehend not the light.

This light is what we read of in HEB 4:12-13. These verses so beautifully teach us what that light is that shines into the darkest crevices and chambers of the heart. "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."

That light of the gospel, when it shines into the soul, comes in and reveals the very thoughts and intents of the heart, and this is the light of life, and the light of men. The Lord Jesus Christ, He is the Word, and that light shines into the darkest crevices of your soul, and reveals and charges your conscience with every thought and intent of the heart, and brings you to see how totally transparent you are before an All-Seeing God.

It says in verse 13, "Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do."

One time I was standing on top of the Empire State Building, and as I looked down and saw what looked like the ground moving, like a hill of ants, was such a mass of people. As I stood there and watched, I thought to myself, "Now what a thing, every one of those people have a destination, they are either going home, to work, to a play, or somewhere else." Then as I stood and I pondered, "Every thought and intent of every heart is naked and open before the eyes of God." Think of the magnitude of the wonder-working God that He has before Him instantly and always and before you even think it, all that mass of people. That is just what I saw from that one spot. He sits in the heavens, and sees every human being, and He knows and understands every thought and every intent of every heart.

Think of the wonder of such a God. It says, "Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do." Every thought, every imagination of the heart is revealed. You see, when the Lord Jesus came, and He began to shine this light into the hearts of the people, and every conscience smote them to realize the thoughts and intents of their own wretched hearts. What was the result? The Lord Jesus tells us here in JOH 7:7, "The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil." That is the result when the light of the gospel begins to pierce the darkness, and shines in the darkness and the darkness comprehends it not. The end result and the first reaction of the natural heart is, they hate Him, because He reproves them of the evil of the heart.

We see that it is the grace of God that gives us a new will. It is by the grace of God that we have a new desire. When we see the depravity of our hearts, we now desire to be cleansed. That brings us to where we start to see a need of a Saviour. The Lord Jesus said: "The whole need not a physician, but the sick." It isn’t until we learn to see the depravity of our hearts, that we learn to understand that we need a Saviour, that we need the cleansing power of His blood, and that is by grace. Now instead of having hatred for Him, we have a desire now to be cleansed and to be made back into the image of God.

Now, when our blessed Redeemer, who is that Light, came to redeem His people from all iniquity, turned on that light which "shines in darkness," their darkened minds "comprehended it not." That is what we see here in JOH 7:25-27. "Then said some of them of Jerusalem, Is not this he, whom they seek to kill? [The Lord Jesus says, ‘They hate Me because I reprove them of sin.’] But, lo, he speaketh boldly, and they say nothing unto him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ? Howbeit we know this man whence he is: but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is." There was confusion, and this is what we understand if we rightly understand the fall of man. Confusion is the curse of the broken law.

Our Saviour revealed that it was their spiritual blindness, and the state of their mind that led to all the confusion. Look at JOH 7:24. "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." What was it that brought confusion? Eve used wrong judgment when Satan perverted the Word of God, and she believed Satan. What the Lord is telling us here is to judge righteous judgment. In other words, judge according to the Word. Why are there thousands of denominations in the world today? It is because every church interprets the Bible a little differently. Do you know that there is not one person on the face of the earth, including the apostles of Jesus Christ, that were ever given permission to interpret the Word of God? Our job is to unfold the Word and find what it says. Amen. No more. It is not my job, nor have I authority to interpret the Word. Judge righteous judgment.

Our Saviour shined the light into their hearts and revealed their error in judgment. The Pharisees had doctrines of men, and according to their doctrines of men their hearts were filled with murder. They sought to kill Christ. And He said, "You err in judgment." You are not judging according to the Word of God, because the Word of God teaches, "Love your neighbor as yourself." They had hearts filled with murder.

In this chapter the light shined brightly, and it revealed the things of darkness that one party after another had not comprehended. This is what we all need; we need to comprehend the darkness and the evil of our own hearts. In the first instance look at JOH 7:3-5. The brethren of Jesus, that is, His own brothers and sisters, were revealed as being unbelievers, and one with the world. In verse 5 it says, "For neither did his brethren believe in him." This is talking about His own brothers and sisters, who were born of Joseph and Mary; they didn’t believe in Him.

JOH 7:7 says, "The world cannot hate you [I want you to see the rebuke that the Lord is giving here] but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil." Now, I want you to see how this testified of their unbelief and of their oneness with the world. Look at JOH 15:18-19. "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. [The very fact that Jesus told them, ‘The world cannot hate you,’ He was telling them that they were one with the world, that they were unbelievers.] If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world [He is talking to the believers], but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." Why would the world hate you if you are a believer? If Christ is formed in you as the hope of glory, the world will see that Spirit of Christ in you, which is a condemnation to their evil works. "Ye are the light of the world. Ye are the salt of the earth," and therefore the world will hate you. Why? Because the light that they see, as a result of the Spirit of Christ formed in you, is a condemnation to the world. So we want to notice, when Jesus said, "The world cannot hate you," talking to His own brothers and sisters, He was telling them, "You are of the world." This light shined into their hearts, and it condemned them.

Secondly, Jesus revealed the Jews and their hypocritical leaders in their carnal reasoning. Look at JOH 7:15. "And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?" They were offended by the gracious words that proceeded out of the mouth of their Savior. Why? They were the authorities. They had such training and had been through all the schools of theology, and they understood all of these commandments of men, imposing them on the people. Here we see Jesus never having learned, taking the Word of God, and unfolding the gracious meaning of the Word in such a way that the light was shining into their hearts, condemning them, and setting all of their authority at naught.

Consider a man who has been through the schools of theology; the further through theology school he has gone, the more he thinks of himself as an authority, and the more he is offended when you take the plain, simple Word of God and show him where he is wrong. Why? You are questioning his authority, and that is why these people were offended at Christ. He hadn’t even been to school, and he was setting all of their learning at naught.

Thirdly, the hearts of the mixed multitude were revealed for their malice. Look at JOH 7:20. "The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee?" Not only did their hearts condemn them, when the light was shining into their hearts, but the Lord Jesus knew their hearts, and He told them, "You are going about to kill me." This condemned them, but they tried to deny it. "Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee?" What does our text say? "Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come." Certainly they sought to take Him.

Now, due to their blind allegiance to the authority of their leaders, the doctrines of men were so instilled into their thinking. It is as Jesus said in JOH 6:44, "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day." I was talking to a person the other day that was explaining, "Every time I read the Bible, all that I have been taught, and everything that has been instilled into my thinking, gets instilled into the Bible as I read it." She explained to me, "My mind has become prejudiced by all this training to think according to what the church believes. I am not even able to read the Bible with a clear mind. There is nothing that Satan loves more than to get my mind so programmed with what somebody teaches that I am totally blind to what it really says in the Word."

When the Lord Jesus was talking to a shepherd, do you know what He did? He used sheep to illustrate His point. When He was talking to a farmer, He used grain and the raising of a field of grain, He used merchandise when He was talking to a merchant. Now, why do we need to interpret anything when it comes that close to home? Why isn’t what the Lord Jesus said sufficient? Why do we have to interpret or add to it? This was what was so infuriating to the Pharisees. They would take the law of the sabbath, which was one commandment, and turned it into 630 commandments, which were all commandments of men. The Lord Jesus was setting all of this at naught. He was showing the simplicity of the gospel. And now He says, "No man can come unto me, except the Father draw him." Do you know why? We are so barricaded with all of these prejudices and with all of this and that of which we have been taught and believe, now the light shines into the heart, and starts to unveil the depravity of our hearts, which drives us away from God. Until the Holy Spirit comes into the soul and gives us a desire to be cleansed, it only drives us away.

I want you to see that when the men of Sodom would have broken down the door of Lot's house to take the men by force, the Lord used their state of confusion as a shield for Lot and those who were with him in the house. We are talking now about restraining grace and how the Lord uses means sometimes to restrain. In the case of Lot and the angels who were in the house, and the men of Sodom came to take them by force, the Lord used confusion. Look at GEN 19:9-19. "And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door. But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door. And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door." The Lord restrained the wicked designs of the men of Sodom by confusing them with blindness.

Jesus did not go up to the feast as a public show, as His brethren had so urgently desired Him to do, but He went afterward in private. Now see the state of confusion that reigned. The Lord Jesus used this state of confusion among the enemies of God as a restraint against their diabolical designs against His people. Look at JOH 7:10-13. "But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret. [Now watch the state of confusion.] Then the Jews sought him at the feast, and said, Where is he? And there was much murmuring among the people concerning him: for some said, He is a good man: others said, Nay; but he deceiveth the people. [A state of confusion. There were some who supported Him; there were some who said, ‘No, He is a deceiver.’] Howbeit no man spake openly of him for fear of the Jews." Why did no one speak openly of Jesus? The confusion that it would make was a protection for Christ. The Lord used this to restrain them.

Now, our text says in JOH 7:30. "Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come." The Lord is telling us that even though their evil design was that they would have taken Him and slain Him that day, the Lord restrained them. It was not His time.

Now, as the state of confusion grew, the chief priests and Pharisees sent officers to take Jesus, but they were restrained by the gracious words that proceeded out of His mouth. The very officers who were sent to take Him got caught up in this confusion. Is He a good man or is He a deceiver? It restrained them.

Look at JOH 7:43-46. "So there was a division among the people because of him. [Notice the state of confusion.] And some of them would have taken him; but no man laid hands on him. Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him? The officers answered, Never man spake like this man."

Those blessed, gracious words of the gospel that proceeded from His mouth restrained them. There was a division among the people. Some said He was a good man, and some said He was a deceiver. Now, I want to point out another element here. When Satan goes out to destroy, fear is one of his greatest weapons. The Lord Jesus, without any fear, stood before them. He told them with those gracious words the way of salvation, and the fact that there was no fear in Him is also restraining.

I want to ask you a question. Have you ever seen a little mouse run across the floor? Go out and try to catch him. You might grab him, and step on him, and you might kill him, but let that mouse turn around and come straight at you and start chasing you and where do you go? Quite a thought, isn’t it? When there is no fear, and they cannot cause you to flee or tremble, they become afraid. It is a restraint. "Never man spake like this man." He didn’t shrink from fear, but continued to bring forth the blessed good news of the kingdom of God.

Now, there was such authority in His doctrine that the very devils in hell have to tremble before it. Look at JAM 2:19. "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble." The devils believe and tremble before those gracious words spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ. It is far from new to see the Lord use confusion among the enemies of His people as the means of restraining their malice.

Turn with me to ACT 23:6-10. Now at this point the apostle Paul had been arrested, he was brought before the council, before the chief priests, and he was on trial for his life. And they were in one accord to come and kill Paul. I want you to see how the Lord used a state of confusion as a restraint against their malice. "But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question. And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both. And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees’ part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man."

Why? A state of confusion had come between the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The one said they believed in the resurrection, and the other did not, and next thing you know they were fighting each other, instead of trying to kill Paul. The Lord used a state of confusion as a restraint against killing Paul.

Look at 2CH 20:22-24. "And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten."

When Jehoshaphat and the children of Israel began to sing and praise the Lord, Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, whose three kings who had come to destroy Jehoshaphat, ended up destroying themselves and each other. They got so confused among themselves that they killed each other.

Look at verses 23 and 24. "For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of mount Seir, utterly to slay and destroy them: and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, every one helped to destroy another. And when Judah came toward the watch tower in the wilderness, they looked unto the multitude, and, behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none escaped." Do you see the confusion that came into the camp of the wicked who had been fully in agreement to come and destroy Jehoshaphat? When they sang and praised the Lord, He sent confusion into their camp. Isn’t it beautiful to see how the Lord restrained that which they would have done to Israel?

Then we see God's wonders, as the wrath of man shall praise the Lord, and He turns their wrath into our profit. Not only "they were three days in gathering of the spoil, it was so much," but see the wonder of how God sets a hedge of restraining grace about His people.

Now look at 2CH 20:29-30. Look at the fruit of this confusion now and how it turned into a hedge of protection around His people: "And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries, when they had heard that the LORD fought against the enemies of Israel. So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet: for his God gave him rest round about."

Nobody ever again rose up against Jehoshaphat. Why? Because of the confusion the Lord sent among His enemies, and they slaughtered each other. We are talking about restraining grace. We are talking about how the Lord restrained these people who would have taken Jesus. He restrained them by sending confusion among His enemies.

Our Saviour was hated with a deadly hatred, which Jesus knew "for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him" as we see in verse 1, yet He enters the Temple on this great public occasion. The Holy Spirit went before Him and brought about such a confusion among His enemies that He could stand there boldly, one man, all by Himself, and speak the gracious words of the kingdom of God, and not one man stretched forth to take Him.

Look at JOH 7:14. "Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught." He was boldness, undaunted by His knowledge of the conspiracy to kill Him. He knew that because it says in verse 1 "for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him." He testified in the very conscience of the unbelievers of the truth of who He said He was.

Look at JOH 7:25-26. "Then said some of them of Jerusalem, Is not this he, whom they seek to kill? But, lo, he speaketh boldly, and they say nothing unto him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ?"

Their own consciences testified. In spite of their own bitterness and hatred, their own consciences told them that this is the very Christ. How? They saw that restraining grace. "Is not this he, whom they seek to kill? But, lo, he speaketh boldly, and they say nothing unto him." By the restraint that God placed upon them, they were not able to touch Him. This was the confirmation that He really was the Messiah. Their own consciences told them plainly as Jesus taught the doctrine of Him that sent Him--that their doctrines of men, and their ritualistic righteousness, were not acceptable unto God as an offering for sin.

We can have so much ritual, and go through all this formality, like the Jews and the Pharisees and scribes, and they had all this ritual and all this formality, but the Lord wants your heart. He is not pleased with any of this ritualism. When I was a young boy, I was driving a tractor, my heart was so going out to the Lord, and all of the sudden it hit me, "Well, if I am going to pray, I have to be on my knees." I stopped my tractor, jumped off, got on my knees, and all that was left was just the stubbles and me. The Lord was gone. I had several other times that I would have the same things. All of the sudden it would hit me that I was supposed to be on my knees if I was praying. By the time I got on my knees the Lord was gone. Years later I was sitting in my kitchen about two in the morning. I had been meditating on the Word, my heart was going out to the Lord, and old Satan came with that one again. I just stayed sitting, and I saw a little pamphlet lying on the table, and I grabbed it and started reading it. And you know, it was on that very topic. It went on to explain, Satan would often do this and tell you that you have to be on your knees. But it explained that we read in the Scriptures how that David went in and sat before the Lord. It explained how Isaac was walking in the field as he meditated with the Lord and how that Solomon was on his knees extending his hands unto the Lord. Then the little piece went on to explain that the Lord isn’t looking at the posture of your body, He is looking at the posture of your heart. The Lord wants the heart. He hasn’t any interest in all this ritual that the Jews and the scribes and the Pharisees were putting the people through. The Lord wants the heart.

Look at what we read in 1JO 3:18-21. "My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth." [When there is true love in the heart, it will reveal itself in our actions. It will reveal itself in truth.] And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God."

When the light of the gospel shines into the heart, the heart condemns us, if we are outside of Christ. If we have that blessed revelation and testimony of the Spirit, that we have been renewed in the spirit of our minds, putting off the old man and put on the new man, we have put off bitterness, hatred, and all of this clamoring. We now have that Spirit of Christ, and we desire to know and to do His will. When we have the witness of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, then our hearts don’t condemn us. We see that Christ has merited our salvation.

All the ritualistic worship of the scribes and the Pharisees, based upon the doctrines of men which left the heart filed with hatred and murder, is not acceptable before the Father. That is not what the Lord wants in the way of worship. The Lord does not want a heart filled with hatred and bitterness, and going through all of the rituals of religion. He wants the rituals put aside and the heart to serve Him with the Spirit of Christ.

Look at JOH 4:24. "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." Now, when you take that word Spirit in the original, do you know what it means? Mental disposition or attitude. So what the Lord wants is to have us worship Him in an attitude that is in conformity with the Spirit of Christ. Do you know what that is? Self-sacrificial love. What it means is that we are able to crucify self. Do you know what it is to put yourself to a test as to whether you understand self-sacrifice? Are you able to take reproof from someone who you esteem to be below you as to your station in life? For example, if I considered myself a pastor sent by the Lord, could I allow a little child out of my audience to say, "But brother, you did this or said that, and you offended that person." Can I take reproof from somebody below my station? That is self-denial, self-sacrifice. This is what the Lord is looking at—that we come to the point where we have the Spirit of Christ, that self-sacrificial love.

This is why Jesus calls our judgment into question. Look at JOH 7:24. "Judge not according to the appearance." You can go and see all the rituals and formalities and there is no spirit in it at all. But the Lord said that we don’t judge according to the appearance, in other words, according to that which attracts the eye and the emotions, but He said, "Judge righteous judgment." The Lord wants us to look into our hearts. Do we have a self-sacrificial spirit? Do we have that Spirit of Christ? Do we know what it is to be renewed in the spirit of our minds?

When Jesus said, "Judge not, that ye be not judged," in MAT 7:1, He was telling us that we cannot rightly judge the motives or intents of another person's heart. I can judge your actions. I see you take your fist and hit your brother on the chin. I can say that your actions were incorrect, but I cannot judge the motive or the intent of the heart. Why did you do it? The Lord only can judge that. You and I may never judge the motive or the thoughts and intents of another person’s heart. The reason being, many times their motives might be very different than you perceived to be the case.

Righteous judgment begins with you in the judgment seat. Look at MAT 7:12. "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you [that’s where judgment has to begin], do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets." Righteous judgment begins with what you would want that person to do to you. I don’t judge other than, is this what I would want somebody to judge me, do to me, or respond to me. Righteous judgment begins with "whatsoever ye would that men should do to you."

If somebody is coming against you, obviously, by their actions, trying to hurt you, how do you respond? Fight fire with fire? No. You overcome evil with good. You do unto them as ye would that they do unto you. Do you know why? If you feed your enemy when he is hungry or give him something to drink when he is thirsty, in so doing, you are heaping coals of fire upon his head. Are we talking about coals of condemnation and hell fire? We are heaping coals of love upon their head. Love is a vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench it. What is the purpose? It is to melt their hatred and rebellion, hoping that it will bring them to repentance. That’s how we overcome evil with good.

Now the Lord Jesus is telling us that righteous judgment must begin with a right posture of heart toward your fellow man. Look at what we see in MAT 7:2. "For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." When we stand before the Judge who knows every thought and intent of our hearts, we are going to be judged, according to how we judge our fellow man. Are we going to judge him with much mercy? Do we understand what the word charity means? It means that we look at a person in the best possible light. Is that how we want God to look at us? He that shows no mercy will have judgment without mercy. "For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged."

When our Saviour told the people, "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment," He was admonishing them of the fallacy of their hypocrisy, about their ritualistic worship. We can have so much ritual in our worship that we can go home and feel emotionally blessed with a heart-desire to murder somebody. This is where the Jews were. They had a desire to murder Jesus because He had violated their rituals, their commandments of men.

Look at JOH 7:30. "Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come." Oh what a consolation we can find in the restraining grace of our God. Their purpose was to apprehend Christ. They sent officers for to take Him, but when they returned, "The officers answered, Never man spake like this man," as we read in verse 46. They were restrained by the love and the gracious words of our Savior. They thirsted for His blood in a murderess way. They were determined to kill Him, but they were restrained by the blessed words of love that flowed from His mouth.

Everyone who is in Christ lives under the shadow of that same pierced hand. It is such a blessing when we learn to understand that our names are engraved in the palms of His hands. Do you know why? Those scars, every one of my sins is written in those scars. It is my sins that put those scars in the palms of His hands. Now as I am under the shadow of His hand, and my Heavenly Father looks down through that hole, and through that pierced hand, He looks upon me through that perfect atonement of Christ, under the shadow of that hand.

Look at what we read in ISA 51:16. "And I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people." Isn’t that precious? He says, "I have hidden thee under the shadow of that hand." The Lord looks upon that pierced hand of His dear Son, and that is such a restraint against the enemies that they are not able to destroy as they would. The Lord said, "Thou art my people."

Until it was the hour appointed by the Father they could no more arrest Christ than stop the sun from shining. I want to ask you a question. Have you ever taken a couple of magnets like you use for cows and you put them down in their stomachs and if they have a hardware stomach it pulls all the metal to it and keeps it from hurting the cow? You lay magnet on the table and take the other and start approaching that magnet. If that magnet is turned the right way they will just pull each other together right away. But if that magnet is turned the wrong way, the closer you get the farther it will push the other one away. You cannot push the two together. I like this illustration on how the Spirit of God restrains. There is that invisible force that makes it impossible to overcome. When the Holy Spirit, by His restraint, is restraining someone from touching you, regardless of their malice or their desire, they are not able to pass that point.

It says in Jude that the Lord has kept Satan in chains until the Day of Judgment. Have you ever heard the idea of giving you enough rope to go out and do your chores, or give you just enough rope to hang yourself. Well, the Lord gives Satan just enough chain to do what the Lord allows him to do. Look at the history of Job. Satan complained, "Thou hast built a hedge about him. I can’t touch him." Until the Lord gave him another link of chain, he was not able to touch his property. Until the Lord gave him one more link of chain, he was not able to touch Job. But even then, the Lord said, "Spare his life." Satan could not go beyond that. The restraining grace of God becomes such a consolation to God’s people.

Look at PRO 19:21. "There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand." Men have many devices that they would do, but the counsel of the Lord, that will stand.

The day of our death is also set and pre-determined by the Father--and what a blessed consolation--because of His restraining grace the hand of death cannot strike until it is His set hour.

Look at PSA 116:12-15. "What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people. Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints." There’s nothing that is going to bring that before His day.

This same restraining grace that restrained those who "sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come," is also our refuge. You and I have refuge in that same restraining grace.

Look at PSA 91:1-9. "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. [He delivers us by His restraining grace.] He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. [Isn’t that precious? Where do we find our place of refuge? It is in His truth, in His Word.] Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation."

See, the Lord tells us why we have this blessing of restraining grace to preserve us. "Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation."

"No man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come"---think how beautifully this reveals that even in the Father's time, Christ was not overcome by the craft of His enemies. These Jews, these high priests, the scribes, these Roman soldiers thought they had obtained their objective by their own might.

Our Saviour voluntarily emerged Himself into His Father's just wrath upon our sins to fulfill His Father's purpose in His immeasurable, unspeakable love for His people.

Look at JOH 10:17-18. "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me [He gave Himself. Therein His offering and sacrifice was acceptable unto the Father because He gave Himself as an act of obedience], but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father." The Lord Jesus said to the people who came to take Him, "I could have ordered twelve legions of angels," but He said, "I came to do my Father’s will." What we need to see is that it was the voluntary submission of Christ unto the will of the Father in giving His life. The Roman soldiers did not take his life, but you and I took His life. We murdered Him. It was our sins that nailed Him to the tree.

That puts a different light on the crucifixion. When I was a child I used to become emotional to think how terrible it was that those people dared to do that to Christ. Then I learned to see what Christ had done for me. I learned to see that it was this man who put Him on the tree. It was my sins that did it. Why? Because He loved me, and He, in obedience to His Father’s command, He voluntarily gave His life to pay the penalty of my sins.

Now, our text says in JOH 7:30, "Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come." It wasn’t until it was the time, the Father’s time, which He would give Himself. No man was able to touch Him.

Amen.


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