And I sought the LORD at that time, saying,…
We take the words of Moses before us as appropriate to indicate the earnest aspiration of the Christian heart after "the rest and the inheritance of the saints."
I. Now observe, THIS CRY MAY BE, AFTER ALL, MERELY SENTIMENTAL, AND IN SUCH A CASE IT CANNOT BE TOO STRONGLY CONDEMNED. One of the great dangers to which we are exposed in the religious life, in our songs and prayers and utterances, is that of cherishing high, forced, fictitious emotions, and of going altogether beyond our real feelings. What we want is holy feeling, transmuted into Christly living and Christly service. The prospect of a bright life beyond should have the effect upon us of making the present life very happy.
II. Again, THIS CRY MAY BE THE RESULT OF MATURITY AND RIPENESS, AND THEN THE SPIRIT PROMPTING IT IS BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL. I see one who is a great sufferer. It has pleased God, in the order of His inscrutable Providence, to lay him aside from the activities of life for months, or even years. And the sorrow has been sanctified. He has not sought relief in cherishing a stoical spirit or by looking to earthly sources, but with a full consciousness that suffering is wisely and graciously designed, he has looked upwards and has found in God almighty strength. Despite adverse influences, he has been moving onwards towards the haven of eternal rest. And thus he has become ripened and matured, thoroughly weaned from earth; his heart has long been in heaven, his treasure lies there, and fittingly he longs for the hour of full release, and cries, with a chastened spirit, wholly resigned to the Divine will and full of expectant hope, "I pray Thee, let me go," etc.
III. And now let us specially notice that there is an aspiration after heaven which may be fittingly cherished at any and every stage of life: even ASPIRATION AFTER THOSE MORAL EXCELLENCES WHICH CONSTITUTE THE PERFECTION OF THE HEAVENLY LIFE.
1. Heaven is "the good land," for it is free from sin. Then be it ours to desire heaven's purity, and even here to break away from the enthralment of evil.
2. Heaven is "the good land," for it is the realm where there is realised in all its perfection the vision of God. Then be it our desire to have granted unto us here this vision; let us seek, through Divine help, to become possessed of a heart right loyal to the Divine will, in which evil passions and desires have been dethroned, and in which has been set up the spiritual kingdom of God; that so, being renewed and sanctified, God may even now be apprehended by us. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."
3. Heaven is "the good land," for it is the realm of light. Endless progression in knowledge characterises its inhabitants. Then be it ours to cry for "more light" here, and to seek the influences of the Revealer of truth, that under His guidance we may "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."
4. Heaven is "the good land," for it is the land of rest and peace — rest from sin, rest from temptation, rest from care, rest from harassing and perplexing doubt; calm, unruffled, perfect rest. Then let us see if we cannot get an earnest of this even whilst we sojourn in this world, by accepting the gracious invitation of Him who has said, "Come unto Me all ye that labour," etc.
5. And heaven is "the good land," for it is the land where prevails concord and love. No note of discord is heard there, no strife of parties prevails there; unity and love reign, and shall reign there eternally. Be it ours to aspire here after this characteristic of the heavenly life. Let us avoid all narrowness and exclusiveness, and cherish the spirit which finds expression in the benediction — "Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity." Whatever lack of charity others may show towards us, let there be no lack of this on our part towards them.
(S. D. Hillman.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And I besought the LORD at that time, saying,