GOD’S love to His ancient people is the theme of many a psalm, and deserves to be rehearsed in the ears of every generation. Abraham was by nature as a rough unhewn stone, but the Lord who chose him in the quarry, having hewn him from the rock, made him a polished pillar, a monument of divine faithfulness. The Lord set His love upon him while he was a Syrian ready to perish; He brought him out of the land of his nativity, and called him from his father’s house. Having made a covenant with the solitary man, He multiplied his seed until they became like the stars of heaven for number.
The kindness which God shewed towards Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, He retained towards His chosen people, who sprang of their loins. Even when to all appearance He had deserted them, His face was towards them for good. If He sent a famine, and broke the staff of life, He provided seven years of plenty in Egypt, that the storehouses of Pharaoh might be full for their sakes; if the Egyptians heavily oppressed them, then all the powers of nature were put out of their accustomed pathway to emancipate them from the house of bondage. When He had brought them out into the howling wilderness, His path dropped fatness, the heavens rained forth bread, and the rocks flowed with rivers; He made men to eat angels’ food; He carried them as on eagles’ wings.
Wherever they went, their foes fled before them, — Amalek was put to confusion before the people of the Lord; Sihon, king of the Amorites, and Og, king of Bashan, felt the terror of their arm. “Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord, the shield of thy help.”
He established them in a land which flowed with milk and honey. Having brought them into this goodly heritage, He drove out the former inhabitants that He might plant His people, and make them dwell in safety alone. How gracious He was to them in the days of Joshua, and in the years which followed! Greatly He blessed the nation under David and his immediate successors! Everything in the neighbouring countries was ordered only to bring peace and prosperity to the chosen land.
Ofttimes they provoked Him, but His anger waxed not hot against them. When He lifted up his rod, His strokes were few. At last, when they became incorrigible in their sins, for a season He gave them up to captivity. They were taken to Assyria, they were carried away to the rivers of Babylon. The days of their banishment were many, and they wept in the bitterness of their soul. Still, even in their captivity He loved them. When they had forgotten Him, He had not forgotten them.
In due time He brought them up again out of the house of their bondage, once more to set them in their land. It was about this time when He would give to His people a fresh deliverance, as memorable as the coming out of Egypt, that Zechariah testified “He that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of mine eye.”
The pupil of the eye is the tenderest part of the tenderest organ, and very fitly sets forth the inexpressible tenderness of God’s love. As Calvin remarks, “There is nothing more delicate or more tender than the eye in the body of a man; for were one to bite my finger or prick my arm or my legs, or even severely to wound me. I should feel no such pain as by having the pupil of my eye injured.” O God, how is it that Thou couldst have chosen the debased, depraved, rebellious, hard-hearted creature called man? What is man, that Thou art mindful of him, or the son of man that Thou visitest him? This enquiry we cannot answer. We will sing of Thy sovereign grace before Thy throne forever. Twas of Thy grace, of Thy own will and good pleasure, that Thou hast lifted us up from the dunghill and made us to sit among princes. We cannot search to the bottom of this divine mystery.
Man, born the first time, was fearfully and wonderfully made, but new-created, and regenerated, he is far more full of marvels than he was before. Moreover, all the people of God are the object of the dearest purchase that was ever known, since they were redeemed not with corruptible things, as with silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ. We think little of ourselves, when we value ourselves at anything less than the price which Jesus paid; we dishonour the Lord which bought us, if we think ourselves only fit to live unto the flesh, and to this poor temporary world; when, indeed, we are fitted for a heavenly world, and for divinest purposes, seeing that Christ the Son of the Highest shed His very heart’s blood to redeem us from our sins.
Furthermore, let us remember that to God the Father, the saints are Christ’s most tender memorial, monuments of Christ’s passion and conflict, the engraven tablets of His death. What is there in heaven which is the record of the Redeemer’s achievement? We who have by faith believed, are now the living triumphals of His conquest. Precious are they for this cause, to the heart of Him who delighteth in the honours of His only begotten Son. The hosts of heaven shall jealously guard these living stones of memorial.
Yet more: remember that Christ’s people are God's own children, and you know how even we, although we are evil, could not stand still to see our children ill-treated. The God of heaven and earth will not have the princes of the blood royal ill-used; they are not to be trodden under the foot of man. God will avenge. They are His children, therefore He loves them. If you hurt His people wilfully, the Son of man will say, “Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto Me,” and the recompense shall follow. Therefore the battle is not ours but the Lord’s, and He will surely deliver His chosen. Ye children of the persecutor, see to it, for when He fitteth His arrows to the bow, and draweth His sword out of the scabbard, it shall go ill with you, for He remembereth His people, and He will avenge His own elect. Now, when any molest the people of God, they may be certain of this, that God will surely visit them.
Courage, then, soldiers of Christ, courage! God is in you, and ye must be almighty. He that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of His eye. Therefore dare, run risks, and venture for God, for you are always safe when you are venturing for Him.
Excerpted from the sermon titled “The Lord’s Care for His People” (Zechariah 2:8) by CH Spurgeon dated 27 April 1862. You are encouraged to read the full text of this sermon at www.spurgeon.org