Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 6, 1949

The Lord Is At Hand

Robert Farish

"Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say rejoice. Let your forbearance be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus." (Phil 4:4-7)

The Lord is always at hand, never afar off for those in Christ. The apostle calls for rejoicing in the Lord. There is no reason for real joy out of the Lord. The assurance of the Lord's providential nearness is urged as a basis for confidence and prayer—the Lord is at hand, hence there is no need for anxiety. Why be anxious or worried when he is near? This realization makes prayer reasonable. The Lord will hear your prayer, and so the apostle urges that "by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known."

In Nothing Be Anxious

The frightened cry of the babe in the night is hushed and the fierce grip of terror on the little breast is loosed by the calm voice of the mother saying, "Don't cry; mother is here". Everything is all right as soon as the child knows that mother is at hand. "It is I; be not afraid," said the Master to the terror-stricken disciples. "The Lord is at hand, wrote the apostle to the Philippians.

The Lord is at hand—he is concerned about his people and exercises himself on their behalf. On one occasion the disciples failed to credit the Lord with concern for their welfare. This was branded by the Lord as little faith—"0, ye of little faith". While they had some faith in his power to save, as shown by Matthew's record, ("Save, Lord, we perish"), yet they seemed to doubt his concern. "Carest thou not that we perish?" Their lack of faith was in failing to realize that not only was the Lord present bodily, but that he was concerned for them. He has a like concern for us. Peter said, "casting all our anxiety upon him, because he careth for you". (I Pet. 5:7)

The child has a feeling of security when he is near his Mother or Daddy. The most natural impulse when trouble begins to loom on the horizon of a young life is to scamper to the safety of home and Mother and Daddy. There the child is confident of sanctuary and security. What a load is lifted, what relief is experienced when that haven is reached! The first glimpse of that familiar figure is usually sufficient to dispel the fog. This is the same assurance given to the believer. The Lord says, "where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." (Matt. 18:20) Isn't it a startling commentary on the perversity of man that he would have to be exhorted not to forsake that assembly? Why, brother, that is where Christ is on the Lord's day!

Let Your Requests Be Made Known

Not only does the awareness of the Lord's presence dispel anxiety, but it makes prayer a reasonable and practical matter.

If the Lord be afar off, unable to hear or answer our prayers, why pray? Why make our requests known to the unheeding and unanswering wind? The Lord is not like the god of the prophets of Baal. Elijah suggested that those prophets cry louder, that maybe their god was musing or had gone aside or was on a journey; or, perhaps, he was just asleep! But our Lord is neither musing, nor on a journey, nor asleep; he is "at hand".

The Lord's strength is not limited. "Wherefore also he is able to save to the uttermost them that draw near to God through him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." (Heb. 7:25) The Lord is at hand for all those who are in him. The Christian can boldly approach the throne of grace to make his requests known. "For we have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but one that hath been in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with boldness unto the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace to help us in time of need." (Heb. 4:15, 16) The help for the time of need is there. The mercy can be obtained.

For The Unsaved

The Lord is at hand for those out of the Lord, but in a different way. He is not at hand "guarding their thoughts and hearts" in Christ Jesus, nor giving them the "peace that passeth understanding". Neither is he at hand as their high priest. The alien sinner was never taught to pray for salvation. The Lord does not accept the prayer of the one who will not heed his call, "Come unto me". The Apostle Peter tells us that "the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and his ears unto their supplication; but the face of the Lord is upon them that do evil"

The Lord is at hand to discern thoughts and to observe conduct. As the prophet Jeremiah warned Israel of old, "Am I a God at hand, saith Jehovah, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places so that I shall not see him, saith Jehovah. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith Jehovah." (Jer. 23:23) And hear also the Psalmist, "Jehovah looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men: From the place of his habitation he looketh forth upon all, that considereth all their works." (Psa. 33:13-15) Yes, the Lord is observing and recording all. No intent of the mind, nor act of the body passes unobserved by him.

The knowledge that the Lord is at hand is a powerful incentive to obedience to the gospel. No individual's failure to obey the gospel will escape notice. Vengeance will be taken on all that know not God and obey not the gospel. Have you obeyed the gospel? Is the knowledge that the Lord is "at hand" reassuring to you, or does it bring a sense of dread and terror to your heart?