And I sought the LORD at that time, saying,…
It is there, a seer has seen it; and God gave him words to paint the vision for us. A good land; glorious in beauty, yet homelike; familiar in every form and feature, but still a transfigured world. It is the hope that lights the way of the wilderness — the hope that we may one day behold the glories of a creation which has been "delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God." None believe that the present is final. Men, dreaming of a delivered humanity, have dreamed, too, of a delivered world. A world, a home to dwell in, not cursed as this is, with all its prophetic beauty — a world without wastes, marshes, lava floods, blights, famines, plagues — a world that will fit a redeemed, as this fits a fallen, nature — a world whose paths shall be, the pathways of angels, whose sun shall be the face of God. In Egypt, man's toil is the prominent feature; man made its fertility: in Canaan, God's bounty is the prominent feature; "It drinketh water of the rain of heaven." Egypt is the field in which a man, by the low form of labour, might exist amply; Canaan the home in which a man, by joyful concert with God, might nobly live.
I. It was a LAND, a good land, the slope of that goodly mountain, even Lebanon, which Moses looked upon; it was a land of promise, which God had prepared. Canaan was in a sense the heaven of Israel's hope; the more heavenlike, perhaps, because it was so fair a feature of our world; because it was a home in which a man, a family, a nation, could nobly dwell. A would behind the veil is the instinctive belief of every human spirit; a world, with all the attributes of a world like this, in which all the promises of this fractured creation shall be realised, wherein no hope shall be frustrated, no cord of association broken, which has been consecrated by holy communion here. This is man's vision, inseparable, too, from his condition here. Imagination! we may say; blank dreams, no more! and pass it by. Imagination surely! but who inspired the imagination? Who but the Being who is the Maker of the reality, which He has kept for ages before the imagination of the world? I accept imagination here as a witness to reality. The wise here are the wise for ever, for to be wise is not simply to know; wisdom takes cognisance of what is common to the two worlds. Nothing which has been truly, reverently learnt will need to be unlearnt. The faithful students of God's hand in the visible are learning to know His mind through the whole sphere of the invisible; they are familiar here with the things which the angels desire to look into; and pass at once from the training school of the Spirit into the inner circle, the elect spirits which are next the throne. "A goodly land beyond Jordan." A real, substantial, homelike world.
II. The images which are employed by the sacred writers as most expressive when they are treating of heaven ARE ALL BORROWED FROM THE HIGHER FORMS OF THE DEVELOPMENT OF MAN'S SOCIAL AND NATIONAL LIFE. All that society on earth aims at and misses, the grand order of human relations, the majestic procession of human activities, of which, marred and crippled as they are on earth, the wisest and noblest have not ceased to dream, shall there be realised, with Christ the King visibly in the centre of it, and the angels attendant to watch the actors and applaud the results.
III. THAT GOOD LAND BEYOND JORDAN HAD SOME HEAVEN-LIKE FEATURE HEREIN; it was to be the theatre of the highest and holiest human association, under conditions most favourable to the most perfect development, and in an atmosphere of life which God's benediction should make an atmosphere of bliss. This is joy, this is glory, to dwell nobly, purely, faithfully with men under the smile of God.
(J. B. Brown, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And I besought the LORD at that time, saying,