And He added, "You cannot see My face, for no one can see Me and live."
On this note -
I. GOD IS SOVEREIGN IN THE EXERCISE OF HIS MERCY. He dispenses it to whom he will. He is free and unconstrained in its bestowal. The sinner cannot claim it as a right. He is not entitled to reckon upon it, save as the free promise of God gives him a warrant to do so. He dare not dictate to God what he shall do. God is sovereign as respects
(1) The objects,
(2) The time,
(3) The manner,
(4) The measure of his mercy.
He gives no account of his matters to any one. He allows none to challenge him.
II. GOD'S SOVEREIGNTY IS BEST STUDIED ON ITS SIDE OF MERCY. This is the easier and more approachable side. It is the least disputable. It does not raise the same dark and knotty problems as the other side - "Whom he will he hardeneth" (Romans 9:18). The contemplation of it is purely delightful and consolatory. It is, besides, the side to which the other - the side of judgment - is subordinate. See this sovereignty of God illustrated in the history of Israel -
(1) In the initial choice of the nation in Abraham.
(2) In the deliverance from Egypt, with its attendant circumstances.
(3) In the forming of the covenant at Sinai.
(4) In the restoration of the people to favour after the covenant had been broken.
III. GOD'S SOVEREIGNTY IN THE EXERCISE OF MERCY IS NOT ARBITRARINESS. (See on Exodus 6:14-28.) It has, as there shown, its self-imposed limitations and inherent laws of operation. It is holy, wise, and good. It aims, we may believe, at the ultimate salvation of the largest number possible, consistently with all the interests involved. - J.O.
I was talking about Christ to an impenitent neighbour the other day. He said: "Why can't I feel about Him as you do? I have read the Bible a good deal. I have heard a good deal of preaching. Yet I can't get up any enthusiasm in regard to this Saviour that you talk so much about." I said to him: "You make me think of my visit to the White Mountains some years ago. We were told that there was a wonderful piece of natural statuary there — a man's face, chiselled, as it were, out of a granite cliff. We went to see it. We found what we supposed was the cliff, but there was no appearance of human features — no form or comeliness such as we had been told of. We were about to turn away disappointed, when a guide came along, and said, 'You are not looking from the right point.' He led us up the road a few rods, and then said, ' Now turn, and look.' We did so, and there was the face as distinct as any of ours, though of gigantic size. Until we reached the right spot we could see only a jagged rock, and not a symmetrical face. The vision of the form and comeliness depended upon the angle of observation. And it is so with you, my friend. Come with me under the shadow of the Cross. Come there as a penitent sinner. Look there upon that 'visage so marred more than any man.' Realize that the mangled, thorn-crowned Sufferer is dying for you, and you will see in Him a beauty that will ravish your soul."
My face shall not be seen.
If God had revealed all His glory — if He had not put the shadow of His hand upon Moses, if He had not revealed merely His skirts, as it were, as He passed by — Moses would have been overwhelmed. And this explains to you what is often said in Scripture, "No man can see God and live," — not because God would destroy the man, but because the glory would be so intense that it would overwhelm him. Moral grandeur may be overpowering, and we learn in history that there have been cases where mental emotion has struck dead the physical economy. A celebrated American astronomer was watching the transit of Venus over the sun's disk; he believed that that transit would take place at a specified moment; and when he saw the shadow of the planet appear on the disk of the sun, such was his excitement or gratification, that he fainted away from excess of joy. Sir Isaac Newton was so overcome by the sense of the magnitude of his discoveries, or of the extent of what he saw in consequence of the great principle he had laid down, that from excess of feeling he was unable to carry out his own grand calculations, and others had to do it for him. Now, if excess of knowledge, of joy, or prosperity, have these powerful effects upon the human frame, we can conceive that too grand an apocalypse of God would be unbearable now; just as the eyeball would be blinded by excess of light. But you can conceive what a splendour and majesty we shall behold when we see God, not through a glass darkly — the smoked glass or lens through which we look at great brightness — but we shall see Him face to face. And what a change will have passed upon us when we can bear to look upon Deity and not shrink!
There is a place by Me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock
To those who like typical texts, there is a peculiar charm in such as this: "a place by Me," and "a rock" for a standing place. What suggestions —
1. Of the believer's firm foundation — the "Rock."
2. Of the believer's fellowship with God — "a place by Me."
3. Of the believer's favour with God — a vision of His glory.
The guide-books name the time when rainbows may be seen on some of the many waterfalls which abound in Switzerland. One day, when I was at Lauterbrunnen, I went to the famous Staulbach Fall (980 feet), and sat down by the flagstaff, and waited and watched. Others did the same, and we all went away disappointed. Next day one of my friends said he would show us how to find the rainbow. So I went again, and saw a most lovely one, and stood almost in the centre of it. Then I found that not only were sunshine and spray necessary to produce a rainbow, but also that those who would see it must stand between it and the sun, i
, it could be seen only at a given point. Then I perceived that those who would see the glory of God could see it only in the face of Jesus Christ, and that the reason why so many fail in this respect is because they do not take the right standpoint.
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