THE GOSPEL IN DEUTERONOMY: Israel's God
ISRAEL'S GOD"There is no one like the God of Jeshurun (Israel), who rides on the heavens to help you and on the clouds in His majesty." Deuteronomy. 33:26
This is the fervid exclamation of a soul acquainted with its God. The tongue would adequately praise, but language fails. Struggling efforts cannot do more than say, "There is no one like Him."
For one moment strive to estimate the worth of this attainment. Other knowledge is but darkness beside this light. All discoveries of art and science are low as dust, contrasted with this pearl. Let the expanded intellect take wing, and soar through all the skies above. Let the celestial orbs be counted in their course. Let the earth's depths be traced. Let hidden wonders be brought forth to view. Let history tell the annals of the past. Let literature spread her storied page. Let keen investigation scrutinize the intricate machinery of the human heart. When all is learned, which mental power has ever grasped, what is the total worth, compared with understanding of our God!
Other knowledge vanishes with time--and time is but a tiny speck. This knowledge is ever growing through eternity. It has an endless life. Other acquirements bring no inward peace, and heal no conscience-wounds, and gladden no dying beds. This removes every fear and spreads a holy calm. As is the value of the soul saved, such is the value of God truly known.
Reader, as you would live in bliss forever, obtain, then, this prize. But search for it aright. God is revealed. He may be seen. But only in the Gospel-mirror, and in the face of Christ. Here only, the concealing curtains are withdrawn. Here only, can distinct display be found. But here the sun shines forth in perfect beauty and unclouded glory. Here every attribute appears in proper place, in just proportion, in blended harmony. The cross is the truth-showing text-book. Come then to it. The Spirit helping, while you gaze, you will take up the song, "There is no one like the God of Jeshurun."
Look up--behold the wondrous testimony. First, characters of glowing light announce--"God is love." This is a truth established only here. Read through creation's volume. Evidence, indeed, of mighty wisdom and preserving care abounds. Elaborate effects prove the consummate skill of the fabricating cause. Arrangements to promote happiness are clearly, largely, and benevolently made. But this fair picture has a reverse. Hurricanes and tempests sweep the earth. The storm destroys. The pestilence extends its desolating scythe. Disease preys almost upon every frame. We pity the feeble limb--the moody wanderings of unsound thought--the sorrowing parent--the bereaved child--the mourning widow. We turn from tears, and misery, and crime, and ask with a disquiet sigh, "Are these the orderings of perfect love?"
Approach the page of providence. It is a wheel moved by an unseen hand. Its constant motion asserts constant agency. But its results perplex and puzzle. Today events cause happiness to overflow. Tomorrow witnesses a flood of woe--affliction--loss--distress. We doubt--we hesitate--we cannot surely say, "This ruling power is love."
We hear the proclamation of God's law. We listen eagerly. But awe and terror meet us. It speaks, indeed. But all is the sternness of inflexible decree. Give unimpaired obedience. Bring righteousness without one flaw--one speck--one stain. Show a whole course of strict compliance with strict terms. Then life eternal is secured. But if there be transgression--then take the curse, and perish everlastingly; for heaven's doors are closed, and wrath is the fixed penalty. Offence must reap its wages, where pardon never comes, and fires never quench, and anguish never ceases. What child of Adam's blinded race can commune with the law, and thence conclude, that God is love?
Now place beside these doubts the exhibitions of the cross. There God surrenders His own Son to shame--to agony--to death. He lays on Him the crushing burden of His people's sins. He puts a cup of infinite woe into those blameless hands. He bruises the innocent, that He may spare the transgressor. He slays the guiltless, that He may release the guilty.
O my soul, gaze on this fact. Feast on its consolations. Mark well its story. You need not die, for Jesus dies. You may escape hell-pains. A substitute suffers in your place. No punishment remains. The storm breaks on a substituted head. The vials hold no wrath for you. Your gracious Lord exhausts each drop. But this Savior--so sufficient--so complete, is God's free gift. What, then, is this giving God? Surely you shout, He is perfect love. The cross unravels every doubt. "There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun."
Again, mercy is a sparkling attribute. God is rich in mercy. His ever-during mercy reaches unto the heavens. But where is the proof? We find it at Calvary. For what is mercy, but tender love sympathizing and relieving misery, and longing to bring ease? And is not this the trumpet-language of the cross? Christ thus expiring is surest evidence, that God's heart yearns to relieve wretchedness--to chase unhappiness away--to introduce delight and peace.
God also reigns upon a throne of grace. But the cross alone establishes this truth. For what is grace, but love looking with favor on undeserving worms--on lost ones, whose whole desert is punishment--on criminals, whose silent lips can urge no plea--whose downcast heads confess deep guilt. Grace finds at Calvary an open door, and free opportunity to enter on this noble work. There it pardons, and receives, and saves, and snatches from hell the rebels, who are nothing but iniquity. Faith sees this clearly in the wounded Jesus, and cries, God is all grace. "There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun."
Is justice God's essence? Is it so interwoven with His being, that an unjust God, cannot be truly God? Now justice sternly asks, that every debt be fully paid, and no demand be set aside? The cross shows God in all the majesty of unsullied justice--in severity, which yields no right. He there exacts each due. The sad transgressions of the chosen race are countless in number--boundless in magnitude. Each is an incalculable debt. Before the cross the scales are brought; and a Substitute appears, who more than satisfies. He is supremely able, for He is divine. He pays a death, in value, far exceeding thought. Justice cries, "Enough, I am content--Enough, the whole is paid--Enough, no shadow of a claim remains--Enough, the score is all wiped out."
Sinner, you cannot enter heaven, if you retain one sin unexpiated. Justice immovably forbids, and rightly bars the gates.
Believer, no charge remains against you, because your Surety has infinitely paid. If through eternal ages you had lain in hell, you might have been forever paying a debt forever great. Jesus by His one offering clears all away. Now Justice has become your ablest advocate. That attribute, once so severely adverse, stands your prevailing friend. God is just and you are justified. Faith reads a full receipt in Jesus' pierced hands, and intelligently joins in the song, "There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun."
Holiness, too, is a main pillar of God's government. Unholiness in Him would overthrow the throne of righteousness, and lower heaven to hell. But holiness abhors all evil. It cannot look upon an unclean thing. It frowns iniquity to boundless distance. The impure cannot face it. Where, then, can the sinner hide? His sin-stains exclude him from the sight of God. If he should venture near, a holy voice is heard, "Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into outer darkness." But at the cross our God is holy, and the sinner saved.
How can it be? Behold the problem solved. Sin is the dire offence. Let sin but vanish, and holiness is no longer hostile. Its opposition ceases. But the all-cleansing blood from Jesus' wounds obliterates each mark of guilt. It changes filth to loveliness--deformity to beauty--impurity to snow-bright luster. Holiness beholds the blood-washed multitude. It finds no speck of sin in them. Therefore it gladly clasps them to its pleased embrace. At the cross, this holiness, without receding from its loftiest ground, smiles on transgressors, and welcomes them to God's all-righteous throne. This is one of Calvary's wonders. Faith clearly sees it--and exults--"There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun."
Moreover, God must be absolutely true. His word cannot be shaken. Now truth has clearly spoken. Its edict raises a gigantic prison round the sons of guilt. Its sentence links them to eternal death. How then can they escape, who thus are doomed? Come to the cross and witness. Jesus presents Himself. He asks, O truth, what is your claim? The answer is distinct. Whatever my lips have uttered, without one slightest failure, must be done. All, who have sinned, must take the death denounced. Jesus complies. He lays down life for each of His redeemed. In Him, His seed all undergo the uttermost of truth's threat. No tittle is relaxed. Truth remains true, and a vast multitude ascend to heaven. The cross thus magnifies this attribute. Faith knows this, and again exclaims, "There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun."
Another scroll surmounts the cross. It writes the praise of everlasting wisdom. If any ask, where is wisdom's greatest work; let him come here and read a scheme, which reconciles seeming impossibilities. There was a task, before which all created minds could not but hide their baffled heads. Mercy asks pardon--Justice demands payment. Grace sues for life--Truth must have death. Love must admit--Righteousness excludes. But God appears, leading His Son to the accursed tree--and all are satisfied-- delighted--honored--magnified--exalted--glorified. Not one is tarnished--not one is set aside. Here is the brightest blaze of wisdom. The word is true, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Cor. 1:24. Again faith shouts, "There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun."
The real believer adds his individual praise. He can bear witness, how this incomparable God has sent His Spirit to add personal experience of these truths. He can record, "This God was once unknown by me. I lived without Him in the world. But now the mists are gone. I see Him saving even me in Christ. I claim Him, as my own. He is my Father. He has brought me to His home--the bosom of His love. I find Him to be all that Scripture states, and glowing saints relate, and my enormous need requires. I find Him to be more. For words from angels' lips cannot tell out half that sea of grace, on which I float to glory. And now my straining effort is, to learn more and more. With this desire I meditate and pray at Calvary. The more I see, the more I love. The more I love, the more I praise. The more I praise, the more my heart expands. The more my heart expands, the greater is my peace and joy. "There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun." How precious is this sight of faith! How precious will be the sight in heaven!
Happy the soul, whose glad experience thus responds, "There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun." Reader, is this blessedness your own? Be well assured, that life is a poor blank, until you know the peerless God. Let this study be your chief concern. The Spirit waits to reveal Jesus--and in revealing Jesus, to show Jeshurun's God. Be not destroyed for lack of saving knowledge. Be not blind amid abounding light.
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