“The hand of the Lord is a thousand times better than the hand of Herod” by J.C. Ryle

“We see in the early history of John Baptist the nature of the blessing that we should desire for all young children. We read that “the hand of the Lord was with him.’ (Luke 1:66)

We are not told distinctly what these words mean. We are left to gather their meaning from the promise that went before John before his birth, and the life that John lived all his days.

But we need not doubt that the hand of the Lord was with John to sanctify and renew his heart– to teach and fit him for his office– to strengthen him for all his work as the forerunner of the Lamb of God– to encourage him in all his bold denunciation of men’s sins—and to comfort him in his last hours, when he was beheaded in prison.

We know that he was filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb. We need not doubt that from his earliest years the grace of the Holy Ghost appeared in his ways. In his boyhood as well as in his manhood the constraining power of a mighty principle from above appeared in him.

That power was the ‘hand of the Lord.’ This is the portion that we ought to seek for our children.

It is the best portion, the happiest portion, the only portion that can never be lost, and will endure beyond the grave. It is good to have over them ‘the hand’ of teachers and instructors; but it is better still to have ‘the hand of the Lord.’

We may be thankful if they obtain the patronage of the great and the rich. But we ought to care far more for their obtaining the favor of God.

The hand of the Lord is a thousand times better than the hand of Herod. The one is weak, foolish, and uncertain; caressing today and beheading tomorrow.

The other is almighty, all-wise, and unchangeable. Where it holds it holds for evermore. Let us bless God that the Lord never changes.

What He was in John the Baptist’s day, He is now.

What He did for the son of Zacharias, He can do for our boys and girls.

But He waits to be entreated. If we would have the hand of the Lord with our children, we must diligently seek it.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1858/2012), 1: 32-33. Ryle is commenting on Luke 1:57-66.