Israel’s Vision Of God -- By: James H. Grier
BSac 81:322 (April 1924) p. 116
Israel’s Vision Of God
The Great Theme of the Old Testament is stated in its opening words, In the beginning God. To this vision of His person, His grace, and His great salvation I address myself.
To the Jew, God was a great reality. He lived in His very presence. Jehovah was his friend, his companion, his counsellor. Enoch walked with Him, and was not for God took him; Abraham was His friend; Jacob arose from sleep crying “Surely Jehovah is in this place, and I knew it not”; Moses heard His voice at the Bush, and communed with Him amid the smoke of the burning mountain “face to face as a man speaketh to his friend”; Samuel, the child, heard Him speak in the house of Eli; and Elijah bowed his head in His presence covering his face with his mantle as he communed with Him in the cave of Horeb “solus cum solo”—alone with the great Alone. If the Jew had a very vague impression of Heaven it was because he experienced the presence of God now and was satisfied.
When we seek the language of adoration and devotion we turn invariably to the pages of the Old Testament. We walk with the Psalmists and the Prophets, and are still as they speak to us from the fulness of their overflowing souls. Listen! “Whom have I in Heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee.” “I cried unto Thee, 0 Jehovah; I said, Thou art my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” “One thing have I desired of the Lord; that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the House of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.” It is in such thoughts as these taken from their contexts and applied to the second person of the Trinity that we best express our feelings toward the
BSac 81:322 (April 1924) p. 117
Lord Jesus; and instinctively we turn to the language of ancient Israel when we would worship Him, and adopt the words of the Psalmists and Prophets.
The Jew was given to contemplation. He it was who lay by night beneath the canopy of a Syrian sky and sang, “The Heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth his handiwork”; and watched his sheep by day as they grazed, still singing on, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” The Jew it was who in the land of his captivity, by the streams of Babylon, turned his face toward Zion—for its highways were in his heart—and yet sang on and on, “If I forget thee, 0 Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.” “Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth.” But the theme of Israel in her dreams, her visions, her songs, her prayers, was her father’s God, the covenant making God, the Holy One of Israel.
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