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12 A land [eretz] which Yahweh thy Elohim careth for: the eyes of Yahweh thy Elohim are always upon it, from the beginning of the year [reshit hashanah] even unto the end of the year [acharit shanah].
THE PLEASANT LAND.
These words form part of an appeal which the God of Israel made to his people, wherein He calls for their allegiance and affection, on the ground of his great and gracious intentions. The Lord recounts what he had done in bringing them out of Egypt, in destroying Pharaoh and his hosts, and in judging the rebels who had risen up among them. "Your eyes (says Moses) have seen all the great things which the Lord did." - Obedience is required of them as a condition of their peaceable and protracted possession of the promised inheritance.
That heritage - "the land which God had espied for them" - is next described with much minuteness and beauty. It is contrasted with Egypt, and shown to be a more beautiful and fertile land than that far-famed country; and God engages that if they will love and serve him, the land shall continue to be a "delightsome land." But the testimony most worthy of notice is, that Canaan is a land especially cared for by God, and that his eyes are continually upon it.
We are bound to believe this testimony, and should not let any thoughts or views unbecoming God's greatness, and independence of places and localities, interfere with a full and ample reception of this declaration. The fact that the Most High, who filleth all space with his presence, cares more for this one little spot on our small world, is in agreement with many other parts of God's Word; and it is his clearly revealed purpose, that in abolishing the times of the Gentiles, He will make the fact abundantly manifest.
How frequently did God speak with Abraham about this land - Genesis 12: 7; 13: 4-11; 15: 18-21, &c. &c. -and He did the same with Isaac and Jacob, and afterwards to Moses. Those who think that belief in the future glories of Canaan is puerile and wrong, have little sympathy with the Psalmist (105: 6-11), where the covenant with Abraham, the oath to Isaac, and its confirmation to Jacob, and "to Israel for an everlasting covenant," are all shown to centre in this: "Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan; the lot of your inheritance." This "covenant and word is said to be commanded to a thousand generations," which has never yet been fulfilled.
Who that considers the past history, the present condition, and the future destiny of Canaan, but must see reason for all that God hath said about it? In that land he has displayed Himself, exhibited his character, and revealed his grace. It hath been the home of his tabernacle and temple, with its splendid rites and mystic glories. Its hills have resounded with the lyre of his prophets, and from its lovely valleys the prayers of his faithful ones have gone up from age to age. Thus he made it a beacon of light in a dark world, sustaining there a witness (though, alas! sometimes feeble), for his own unity and holiness, in opposition to the many and filthy deities of the heathen.
In the fulness of time it became the chosen theatre for redemption work; over its surface and on its waters walked the feet of "Immanuel, God with us." The Son of God, the Son of man, breathed its balmy air, plucked its clustering fruit, and gazed with pleasure on its lovely landscapes. But of one of its trees a cross was made, and he was hung upon it. From one of its mines iron was brought and fashioned into nails to pierce his blessed hands and feet. In one of its caves his breathless body was laid for a while, and after he left those gloomy shades, he still lingered forty days amidst the valleys, rocks and hills "of the land which God careth for."
Well may we wonder at all this; but we shall not stagger at the same, when we remember that he first took dust of our earth into indissoluble union with his divine nature. In our nature he ascended to heaven, still casting loving looks on the land of his birth and pilgrimage, and pronouncing, as he gave his last commission, the name of Jerusalem in tones of richest tenderness, ascended to glory, to make "the land that He cared for" the fountain of light, -living waters flowed from it, and made glad and beautiful many a barren Gentile wilderness.
Thus his dying prayer was answered, and his parting command fulfilled. Jerusalem became vocal with his name, and many Jerusalem sinners were forgiven. But ere he died, his tears had been mingled with the dust of Judah; and wherefore felt he such bitter sorrow? He saw that the glory would depart - that the temple would fall - the people be scattered, and Jerusalem be trodden down. All was accomplished. He put not forth his almighty hand to hinder it, for he intended to make this long-favoured, guilty land, a monument of divine wrath, on which justice should write in broad, legible, characters, God's hatred of sin, especially the sin of unbelief. There it stands, like a burnt mountain, still smoking with the heat of God's anger. It reads the whole world a grand moral lesson, and bids the possessors of privileges "not to be high-minded, but fear."
But its destinies are more glorious than its past history is wonderful. God will "heal the land." "He will be merciful to his land and to his people." (Deuteronomy 27: 43.) He whose purpose is steadfast as the ordinances of heaven, says: "Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate; but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah; for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married." (Isaiah 62: 5.) Then, when "God's sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore" (Ezekiel 37: 28), shall God's great idea be wrought out, "Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the Lord, to which the nations shall be gathered." (Jeremiah 3: 17.) The land shall become "Immanuel's land;" it shall be filled with holiness, and the divine complacency shall ever rest upon it. "His eyes and his heart shall be there perpetually."
For thus regarding the land of Canaan, we indulge in no superstitious feelings; such respect for God's inheritance is far removed from mere sentimentality. Such thoughts are sober and spiritual, and those who indulge in them are brought into sympathy with God. To "despise this pleasant land," as regards that bright destiny which all the prophets unite in foretelling, argues, in this respect at least, a lack of sympathy with God in his thoughts and purposes.
But where does God's eye and his heart abide now? Who are his covenant people, in whom he takes pleasure? "Behold the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy!" "To this man will I look, who is of a poor and contrite spirit." Such are related to him. He is "the Lord their God." They choose him, confide in him, and feel complacency in character, and that because he hath loved them with an everlasting love, and with loving kindness hath drawn them. As the God of their salvation, he will supply their need, succour them in sorrow, and save them with an everlasting salvation.
Because He was their Lord God of Israel, He provided Canaan for their home, brought them into it, preserved it for their use, for in it they had safety, supply, and satisfaction. He took pleasure in seeing them happy, because He got glory to his name by their prosperity. And thus he deals with his chosen people now. He provides spiritual blessings; enables them to claim and enjoy them; guards both them and their inheritance; and all "to the praise and glory of his grace, wherein he hath made them accepted in the Beloved;" "that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us by Christ Jesus."
Oh, ye spiritual Israel of God! look up and catch the beamings of your heavenly Father's eye. "Cast all your care on him, for he careth for you." Ever abide where God's eye of delight ever rests, even in his beloved Son. Let that [ecclesia], as dear to him, be much cared for by you, and forget not to care for Israel and her down-trodden land; and then, when Israel shall "feed on Bashan and Gilead as in days of old," and the earth be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, you shall dwell in that heavenly city, composed of living stones gathered out of all nations; and which shall evermore possess the presence of God and the Lamb, to be its light and its glory. -Quarterly Journal of Prophecy, p. 191.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, June 1853.