ne minä tuon pyhälle vuorelleni ja ilahutan heitä rukoushuoneessani, ja heidän polttouhrinsa ja teurasuhrinsa ovat otolliset minun alttarillani, sillä minun huoneeni on kutsuttava kaikkien kansojen rukoushuoneeksi.
By Rev. William Woofenden
"In Judah is God known, His name is great in Israel. In Salem also is His tabernacle, and His dwelling place is Zion. There brake He the arrows of the bow, the shield and the sword and the battle." Psalm 76:1-3
Additional readings: Ezekiel 47:1-9, Luke 6:27-49
Judah and Israel, the two great divisions of the Holy Land, represent the two division of the human mind, the will and the understanding.
The Scripture quoted in our text means that the Lord dwells in the wills and minds of those who love, know, and keep the truths of His Word, and protects them from evil and falsity.
The peoples of the world are living under a great strain. There is need of national self-control and self-sacrifice. The conditions which exist in the world today are the result of internal changes that have been going on ever since the Second Coming of the Lord. A new era in the world’s life began with the new revelation of the Lord through Moses and the Prophets. A new era was introduced by the coming of the Lord in the flesh. Every era that is really new has its beginning in a revelation from the Lord. This is true of the era into which the world has now entered. The essence of this new era was the opening of the inner meaning of the Word. The Writings do not indulge in particular prophesies, but in them the statement is made that the results would be endless and incalculable.
We are living in a spiritual and moral atmosphere altogether different from that which prevailed two centuries ago. Less than twenty years after the Second Coming occurred one of the important and decisive events in modern history, namely the American Revolution, whereby the United States were not only freed from their dependence upon Great Britain, but were enabled to establish on a scale previously impracticable a republican form of government. Hard upon this followed the revolution in France, which affected society to its foundations, and overthrew for France and for many other nations all belief in the Divine right of kings.
With the formation of a republic came the idea of universal education. If people are to govern themselves, education becomes a necessity. Emancipated from priestly surveillance, with all the sources of knowledge thrown upon to all men, their souls freed, their heart kindled with new hopes and aspiration, what wonderful progress has been made in the last two hundred years! The conditions of external human life have been revolutionized. With the use of machinery one man can do the work of fifty, or of a thousand in some fields. All these things have been brought about within so short a period, almost within one man’s lifetime, and follow each other with such rapidity, that we can only hold our breath in amazement and ask, "What next?" Thus, so far as external matters are concerned, the prophecy has been fulfilled.
These changes are so familiar that the recital of them would be superfluous. But the transformation does not stop at this point. It is not limited to matters of natural and worldly import. To all who have eyes to see and ears to hear it is obvious that the spiritual beliefs of men have changed. The eighteenth century forms of belief have not been openly repudiated, and their influence is felt in no small degree, but many of the old beliefs excite disquietude, faith in them has been shaken, and new ideas receive more and more favor.
Dishonesty and fraud still exist. Anger, hatred, envy, lust, hypocrisy are enemies to Christian life that have not been overcome, but there is a growing belief that these things, practiced even in secret, are not compatible with salvation or with happiness. The Church is beginning to cultivate a broader charity, and the thoughts of not a few are eagerly turning to some future time of universal Christian love and brotherhood. Yet this time is still a great way off. With all its progress, the world is still far from peace either external or internal.
Then the question is asked, "What is the world’s greatest need?" It would seem that a little reflection would lead all to agree that the only possible answer is the recognition and acknowledgment of the Lord as the one great and only source of life, who creates all men with faculties capable of receiving all the blessings of peace and happiness.
Yet humanity is suffering, suffering from wounds it has inflicted upon itself. It is obvious that something is the matter. Just what that something is it cannot tell, and it will look in vain for guidance to its own intelligence and devices. Many and various remedies are suggested, but few seem to think of the One Divine Physician who alone can heal the wounds.
The Church is at fault here. There is little clear belief about the Lord or in the divinity of the Word. Without much beliefs there are no fixed standards. It is of no use to say, "I believe in the Lord" and not seek to learn and do His will. The Lord is the source of all life. He is the central fact and foundation of all human activities. He must become more to us than a mere name, for if He is not made central in our lives, He will not rule in them. Without the Lord the world would drift on without any guiding principle or power other than the achievement of its own selfish ends, with hopeless confusion and conflict as the result. This is the state in which much of the world finds itself today.
"In Judah is God known, His name in great in Israel." Israel represents intellectual acknowledgment of God: Judah the acknowledgment of God in the heart, the doing of His will. Israel and Judah can exist together, but separated they fall. There may be an intellectual acceptance of Christian truth while in practical life the Lord is to a large extent ruled out of court; hence there is strife and struggle, sorrow and distress, destruction and war.
"In Judah is God known, His name is great in Israel." The Lord has made Himself known to us through the Scriptures. From Israel and Judah came the prophets, through whom the Scriptures were given, and in the Gospels and the Book of Revelation are given the record of the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets.
Toward the close of His life on earth, the Lord said to Philip, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip? He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father" (John 14:9). The Lord has been a long time with us, yet the question, "Hast thou not known Me?" still applies. He reveals Himself to us in the Scriptures, and is present with us as we see Him there and keep His teachings. But we must get the real meaning of the Scriptures to see God, and we cannot know the truth of the Scriptures until we have lived it.
We are living in turbulent times. A new world is slowly and painfully coming into being. Or is the world rushing to destruction? We should be able to give a confident answer because the strength and vitality of the Word have been revealed by the Lord in His Second Advent.
Diplomacy will not bring peace, neither will the mailed fist, nor will rationalism, atheism, or mysticism, nor the worship of men or saints. In this age these will be weighed in the balance and found wanting. Salvation will be found only through the opened Word of our Lord Jesus Christ.
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and thy neighbor as thyself" (Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27). The observance of outer forms alone will not suffice. Our minds and hearts must worship Him as well as our bodies. There must be knowledge of the Lord in the mind and love of the Lord in the heart.
One of the precepts of the Word is "Love your enemies." This is a searching exposure and a fearful condemnation of modern policy. Our religion is not measured by our conduct toward our friends. The acid test is the spirit in which we deal with the enemy. "For if you love them which love you, what thank have ye, for sinners also love those that love them" (Matthew 5:46, Luke 6:32).
"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). We are not asked to be infinitely perfect, but finitely perfect: that our knowledge and love make one, that we apply to life what we know to be true, and so copy in our finite way the perfection that is in the Lord. That is the way of salvation for the individual and for groups of individuals. The world may reply, "Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel?" (2 Kings 5:12). Cannot the wisdom, the craft, the diplomacy, the power of statesmen and of armies, of economists born, bred, and educated in the problems of the world politics suffice? The Church must surely answer, "They cannot suffice." One thing only has saving power, and that is the knowledge and acknowledgment of the Lord, the truths of the Word made known to the mind and accepted in the heart.
We must not form our principles from our daily papers, or from the books of men. For the folly of selfish interests and worldly wisdom will finally be proved with what suffering and agony we shall not live to know--and in the end the Word of the Lord will be heard. Then, tired of folly and in a humble and contrite spirit, will we come to the sanctity of those laws revealed by the Lord.