Let Us Not Forsake the Gathering of Ourselves Together

Gather the people together, men and women and children, and the stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the Lord your God, and observe to do all the words of this law; and that their children, who have not known it, may hear, and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as ye live in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it (Deut. 31:12,13)
   
Two things in the foregoing passage claim our special attention:
  1. The fact that Jehovah attached the most solemn importance to the public assembly of His people for the purpose of hearing His Word. “All Israel” – men, women, and children – with the stranger who had cast in his lot among them, were commanded to assemble themselves together to hear the reading of the book of the law of God, that all might learn His holy will and their duty. Each member of the assembly, from the eldest to the youngest, was to be brought into direct personal contact with the revealed will of Jehovah, that each one might know his solemn responsibility.
  2. We have to weigh the fact that the children were to be gathered before the Lord to hearken to His Word. Both these facts are full of weighty instruction for all the members of the Church of God – instruction urgently called for on all sides.
There is a most deplorable amount of failure as to these two points. We sadly neglect the assembling of ourselves together for the simple reading of the Holy Scriptures. There does not seem to be sufficient attraction in the Word of God itself to bring us together. There is an unhealthy craving for other things. Human oratory, music, religious excitement of some kind or other seems needful to bring people together; anything and everything but the precious Word of God.    
   
It will perhaps be said that people have the Word of God in their houses, that it is quite different now from what it was with Israel. Everyone can read the Scriptures at home, and there is not the same necessity for the public reading. Such a plea will not stand the test of truth for a moment. We may rest assured, if the Word of God were loved and prized and studied in private and in the family, it would be loved and prized and studied in public. We should delight to gather together around the fountain of Holy Scripture, to drink, in happy fellowship, of the living water, for our common refreshment and blessing.
   
But it is not so. The Word of God is not loved and studied, either privately or publicly. Trashy literature is devoured in private, and music, ritualistic services, and imposing ceremonies are eagerly sought after in public. Thousands will flock to hear music, and pay for admission, but how few care for a meeting to read the Holy Scriptures! These are facts, and facts are powerful arguments. We cannot get over them. There is a growing thirst for religious excitement, and a growing distaste for the calm study of Holy Scripture and the spiritual exercises of the Christian assembly. It is perfectly useless to deny it. We cannot shut our eyes to it. The evidence of it meets us on every hand.
   
Thank God, there are a few, here and there, who really love the Word of God, and delight to meet, in holy fellowship, for the study of its precious truths. May the Lord increase the number of such, and bless them abundantly.
   
And let us consider and give attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up to love and helpful deeds and noble activities; not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together (as believers), as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging and encouraging) one another, and all the more faithfully as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:24,25).