Sin, that cost Adam beautiful Eden, exists everywhere in our world. Evil triumphs wherever God is not known or his character contemplated. We could not commit sin if we realized the presence of God, and thought upon his goodness, his love, and his compassion. Satan knows that if he can obscure the vision so that the eye of faith cannot behold God, there will be no barrier against sin. It is necessary to know God in order to be attracted to him. And the perception of his image as represented in Christ changes the sinner's views of evil. The shadow of Satan obscures the character of Jesus and of God; but if we by faith gain a knowledge of God, and hold steadfastly to Jesus, we shall be changed. In Jesus is manifested the character of the Father, and the sight of him attracts. It softens and subdues, and ceases not to transform the character, until Christ is formed within, the hope of glory. The human heart that has learned to behold the character of God may become, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, like a sacred harp, sending forth divine melody.
What benefit to the world are those professed Christians who have nothing to say about Jesus? Are they indeed standing under the banner of Prince Emmanuel when they are not doing him the service of faithful soldiers? Has your study of the law of God, the standard of all righteousness, led you to exclaim with Isaiah: "Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts"? Has the sight brought you to see that your only hope is in Christ, the sin-pardoning Saviour? Has the sight of Jesus on the cross, dying for the guilt of man, brought you in contrition to the foot of the cross, so that you can say with Job, "Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes"? Have you made an entire surrender of your will to God's will, your ways to God's ways? Have you renounced self-confidence, self-boasting, and accepted Jesus, who is made everything to you,--wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption? Do you see Christ as the anti-type of all the types, the precious, glorious substance of all the shadows, the full signification of all the symbols? The types and shadows were instituted by Christ himself, to transmit to man an idea of the plan devised for his redemption.
When Moses was feeding his flock in the pastures of Midian, the Lord was preparing him for a position of great responsibility; he was to be a labourer together with God. Educated in the court of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, he was imperfectly qualified to take his place as the leader of a suffering, tempted people, to help them in their oppression, sympathize with their sufferings, and conduct them through a rough and dangerous desert to the land of promise. The Lord in his providence took Moses from the king's court, and gave him the humble work of a shepherd, that, while caring for the sheep in the desert, he might be trained for the trials and hardships and perils of the wilderness, and qualified for the office of a shepherd of his own flock, for a church whose God was the Lord.
Forty years was Moses in this training school in the mountains. At Mount Horeb the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. "He looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. And he said, Draw not nigh hither; put off thy shoes from of thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God."
How many today see evidences of God's work, but their attention is not arrested! The enemy has cast his hellish shadow over them, so they do not perceive that God would have them pay special attention to his requirements, and be prepared to answer at any time as did Moses, "Here am I."
In the Jewish service, under the special direction of God the sacrifices were to be offered only at the tabernacle, through the medium of the priest. If he who wished to make an offering was negligent, and failed to carry out the specified arrangement of God, he was to be cut off from his people. "What man soever there be of the house of Israel, that killeth an ox, or lamb, or goat, in the camp, or that killeth it out of the camp, and bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer an offering unto the Lord before the tabernacle of the Lord; blood shall be imputed unto that man; he hath shed blood; and that man shall be cut off from among his people."
This was strictly enjoined in the typical service, in order to give it its fullest significance. The object was to impress the minds of the people with the great truth that man can have access to God only through Christ. The Saviour says, "No man cometh to the Father but by me."
All religious service, however attractive and costly, that endeavours to merit the favour of God, all mortification of the flesh, all penance and laborious work to procure the forgiveness of sin and the divine favour,--whatever prevents us from making Christ our entire dependence, is abomination in the sight of God. There is no hope for man but to cease his rebellion, his resistance of God's will, and own himself a sinner ready to perish, and cast himself upon the mercy of God. We can be saved only through Christ. Not by any good works which we may do, can we find salvation. There is no mercy for the fallen race except that which comes as the free gift of God. There is no blessing we receive but that which comes through the mediation of Christ. It is ever to be borne in mind that "God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him" as his personal Saviour, able to save to the uttermost all who come unto him, "should not perish, but have everlasting life." The Father gave his well-beloved Son, that through this divine channel his love might reach to man. The Father loves those who believe on Christ, even as he loves the Son, for they are made one with Christ. Jesus encircles the race with his human arm, while with his divine arm he lays hold upon infinity. He is the "daysman" between a holy God and our sinful humanity,--one who can "lay his hand on us both."
The terms of this oneness between God and man in the great covenant of redemption were arranged with Christ from all eternity. The covenant of grace was revealed to the patriarchs. The covenant made with Abraham four hundred and thirty years before the law was spoken on Sinai was a covenant confirmed by God in Christ, the very same gospel which is preached to us. "The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham." The covenant of grace is not a new truth, for it existed in the mind of God from all eternity. This is why it is called the everlasting covenant. The plan of redemption was not conceived after the fall of man to cure the dreadful evil; the apostle Paul speaks of the gospel, the preaching of Jesus Christ, as "the revelation of the mystery, which hath been kept in silence through times eternal, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, is made known unto all the nations unto obedience of faith." (Revised Version.)
Originally published in Signs of the Times, August 24, 1891.