The Holy One of Israel.

Not only, as we have seen in former papers, do the Scriptures set forth the sovereign grace of God, the way He saves the sinner, and the holy relationship in which He sets him as saved; they also show the manner in which grace is received into the heart; and they furnish too a perfect expression for the joy that follows upon the reception of grace, so that the saved sinner can worship God in a manner suited to the thoughts of the God who has saved him. We have examples of this in the varied hymns of praise to be found in the Old and New Testament. God has registered them there for our instruction and comfort. There we find the blessed experiences of a soul who has learned in the presence of God that he is for it in grace, instead of being against it in righteous judgment, and whose joy finds vent for itself in praise to God, the fruit of childlike faith in that which God has said. Faith finds true the words of Elizabeth: "Blessed is she that has believed; for there shall be a fulfilment of the things spoken to her from the Lord." And the Lord Jesus said Himself to Thomas, "Blessed they who have not seen, and have believed." (John 20:29.) The apostle Paul writes thus to his children in the faith at Thessalonica: "For this cause we also give thanks to God unceasingly that, having received the word of the report of God by us, ye accepted, not men's word, but even as it is truly, God's word, which also works in you who believe." (1 Thess. 2:13.) "So faith then is by a report, but the report by God's word." (Rom. 10:17.) It is faith, simple faith, which establishes the soul in this happy relationship with God; and faith is itself produced by His all-powerful word. All is of Him. What blessing to know Him as Saviour! For thus it is that He has been pleased to reveal Himself in Christ.

We may remark that, in the songs of praise to which we have referred above, the soul that has found rest in the presence of God is filled with the sense of His absolute holiness. But instead of this being an occasion for distance or fear, it is linked with overflowing joy. This alone would testify to the possession of a perfectly clear conscience; that is, one freed from the burden of its sins, for these have been wholly and entirely blotted out in a way suited to the nature of a holy and a righteous God. God only could have wrought such a deliverance; and the delivered soul recognizes in Him its Saviour, and finds at the same time in Him the source of all its joy, and so can celebrate His perfect holiness as an integral part of its own joy.

We may consider the song of Mary. (Luke 1) She says, "The Mighty One has done to me great things, and HOLY is His name; and His mercy is to generations of generations to them that fear Him." Again, Zacharias says that the God of Israel had visited and wrought redemption for His people, to remember His holy covenant, to give us, that we should serve Him without fear in piety and righteousness before Him all our days. In the same way the song of the redeemed, in Rev. 1:5-6, celebrates the efficacy of the work of redemption which has made them fit for the presence of God: "To Him who loves us, and washed us from our sins in His blood, and made us a kingdom of priests to His God and Father; to Him be the glory and the strength to the ages of ages. Amen."

The first song that we find in Scripture is that which Moses and the children of Israel sang after the wonderful passage of the Red Sea. It is striking to see there how their hearts are occupied with the holiness of God, and that not as an abstract dogma, but as a present reality for their souls. "He was glorious in holiness, and He had guided His people unto His holy habitation." That was for them the result of having known deliverance by the direct intervention of the Lord Himself. (Ex. 15:11-13.) The second song is that of Hannah. (1 Sam. 1:11.) A very remarkable one from a prophetical point of view; for there, for the first time, the Messiah is mentioned - the Lord's "anointed." Here again the holiness of God is the source of joy for the soul that has been delivered and blessed: "There is none holy as the Lord; neither is there any rock like our God." The Spirit of Christ, in Psalm 22, gives expression to the same thought, and that in a moment of the deepest anguish: "Thou art HOLY, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel; our fathers trusted in thee; they trusted, and thou didst deliver them." After this, in many passages, especially in Isaiah, we meet with this special name of the Lord, "THE HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL."

We find it three times in the Psalms, and all three in the third book (71:22; 78:41; 89:18). Psalm 71 is a practical application to the life of the saint of the truth uttered by the Lord in Psalm 22, and especially true of Him, showing what was the resource of His soul even upon the cross. Israel's national resurrection (v. 20) is a result of the Lord's having been heard from the horns of the unicorn. (Psalm 22:21; compare, too, Isaiah 26:19.) In this Psalm, then, we find again God's righteousness and truth the source of the soul's joy that finds its rest in the Holy One of Israel. Psalm 78 is the recital of the people's history, bringing into contrast their rebellious ways and God's faithful goodness. It was the Holy One of Israel that they limited. Psalm 89, which closes the third book of Psalms, the book which treats especially of Israel as a nation, not merely the remnant of the Jews, takes up the story of God's grace at the point Psalm 78 left it, and shows how the Holy One of Israel is their shield and resource. Here we find added, and much developed, His purpose as to His "anointed," which was merely mentioned in Hannah's song. The King is about to take His place in the midst of the chosen people, and they can say, "The Lord is our defence, and the Holy One of Israel is our King."

This name, so full of blessing for the chosen seed of Abraham, not only reminds us of the inviolable character of God, but also of His settled purpose to bless the people in spite of all their rebellion. God cannot lightly pass over sin, but He righteously takes it away by means of a perfect sacrifice, and in such a manner as that in righteousness He can give free course to His love in favour of the objects of His grace - poor, lost sinners! He shows this in His word by the history of His ways with the people of Israel. In spite of all the goodness of God displayed on their behalf, from the moment of their coming out of Egypt, the Israelites never remained faithful to Him. On the first favourable opportunity they turned aside from the Lord to plunge afresh into idolatry. If for a moment God brought them back to Himself by the powerful testimony of one of His servants, whether judge or prophet, at the same time delivering them from their enemies, no sooner was the deliverer dead than they again fell into the old sin. (See Judges 2: 10-23.)

The same thing took place under the kings. (2 Kings 17:7-23.) Moses had said at the beginning of their history, "Ye have been rebellious against the Lord from the day that I knew you." Their sad history is summed up in few words in the first verses of Isaiah: "Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward." (Isaiah 1:2-4.) The parable of the vine shows again the same truth. (Psalm 80; Isaiah 5) And so further on: "Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?" (Jer. 2:21.)

Do not think, dear reader, that all this is only written as the history of a peculiarly corrupt people. Oh, no; by it God wants to show us what the heart of man is - my heart, your heart - even when God has lavished upon us all His care. The human heart is utterly corrupt; good does not exist in it; and thus it is impossible to get any good out of it. As long as God acted on the principle of law, seeking fruit from responsible man, the same sad result could not fail to be produced. The trial has been made with the people of Israel once for all. But God will not leave His people in this deplorable condition. After having proved their incapacity to bring forth good fruit, He reveals Himself as their Redeemer. He charges Himself with the work of taking away their iniquity, and gives them a new heart inclined to obey Him. Such are the terms of the new covenant which He makes with them in contrast with the old covenant made at Mount Sinai. (Jer. 31:31-34.) The old covenant proposed obedience as the condition of blessing. (Ex. 19:4-5); the new covenant has no "if," it is entirely of grace; God does all Himself, thus fulfilling His promise made to Abraham: "In blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed." For this reason the prophet says: "For Israel hath not been forsaken, nor Judah of his God, of the Lord of hosts; though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel." (Jer. 51:5.) The new covenant will have its accomplishment for the people of Israel during the glorious reign of the Lord Jesus Christ on the earth, a reign which will last for a thousand years. (Rev. 20:16.)

Meanwhile God brings out the contrast between the principles of law and grace, and shows us in what way He can now receive us, and make us to rejoice in His grace, because the work of redemption is accomplished; the Lord Jesus having already suffered for our sins. But since God has put man to the test under law, by means of the people of Israel, it is equally in favour of this people that He shows the resources of His grace. It is this side of the truth which is developed so forcibly and with such detail by the prophet Isaiah in connection with this name of grace - "The Holy One of ISRAEL." God reveals Himself thus in spite of all the rebellion of the people. Israel has been against Him; but He is for Israel. But in order to be this He must first be their Redeemer, and then the source of all the good which is to be produced in them. Chapters 40-57 are full of this marvellous revelation. One quotation will suffice as an example. "But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and He that formed thee, O Israel, fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. … For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour." (Isaiah 43:1-3.) God takes away their sins. He says, "I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins." (Isaiah 43:25; 44:22.) A the same time He reveals (chap. 53) the holy victim who should bear them, the Lord Jesus, on whom "the Lord has laid the iniquity of us all." (Acts 8:35; 1 Peter 2:24-25.)

The same prophet speaks of a faithful remnant of the people who will cleave to the Holy One of Israel, believing His word and profiting by His grace. (Chap. 11:20; 17:7.) This will be an individual work; whosoever believeth on the Lord shall not be ashamed. "The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel." (29:19.) The great principle of grace comes out here, as in the precious words of the Lord Jesus: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 5:3.)

Dear reader, are yon one of these "poor in spirit"? Have you taken this place before God as a convicted sinner, powerless for good, and accepted His grace which is offered to us in Christ? The blessing cannot fail; for God reveals Himself as the redeemer, and comes into the midst of His people, as the Holy One, to bless them. So we read again, as in Isaiah 12:6: "Cry out and shout aloud, thou inhabitant of Zion; for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee." (Compare Ezek. 39:7; Hosea 11:9; and Isaiah 29:22 - 24.) You will say that there the people of Israel were still in question. This is true; but God is showing the principle upon which He acts in His grace - the way in which He blesses according to His holy nature - and for us the sole means of receiving blessing from Him. His word can never fail nor ever pass away. It is His word which is preached unto us, and by which too we are born again. "The word of the Lord endureth for ever." (1 Peter 1:25.)

May the Lord open our ears and hearts to receive it in its fulness. W. J. Lowe.

Something less than the truth means something less than Christ, for He is the truth. There is more danger therefore in frittering away the truth than in an open attack upon it.

I may have a clear knowledge of all the truth of Christianity, I may be able to expatiate with distinctness on the past and future dispensations of God's ways; but the testing question is, Do I BENEFIT in the daily experiences of my own soul, as I pass through the varied experiences of this life, by the sense of my own personal relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ, and to the Father, and to God? This experience, and the sense of this relationship (but not the mere knowledge of truth), will give real rest and comfort to the heart; for nothing can ever alter the place of favour revealed to us here. H. C. Anstey.

Every believer is indwelt by the Spirit of God. (1 Cor. 6:19.) I ought to say therefore, when I rise in the morning, The Holy Spirit, dwelling in me, will reproduce in me this day the walk and ways, the temper and deportment, of Christ, if I do not hinder Him by the allowance of the flesh. The opposition of the world, the flesh, and the devil are nothing to Him, if I am contented to be a broken vessel for Him to use. H. C. Anstey.