Adoring Exclamations of a Soul Gazing on God
Jeremiah 17:12-14
A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary.…

I. A WONDERFUL VISION OF WHAT GOD IS. There are three clauses. They all seem to have reference to the temple in Jerusalem, which is taken by a very natural figure of speech as a kind of suggestive description of Him who is worshipped there. "The Sublime Porte" is properly the name of a lofty gateway which belonged to the palace in Constantinople, and so has come to mean the Turkish Government — if government it can be called. So we talk of "the Papal see." Or, again, the decision of "the Chair" in the House of Commons. So the prophet takes outward facts of the temple building as symbolising great and blessed spiritual thoughts of the God that filled the temple with His own lustre.

1. "A glorious throne" — that is grand, but that is not what Jeremiah means — "A throne of glory" is the true rendering. In the Old Testament, where "glory" is ascribed to God, the word has a very specific meaning, namely, the light which was afterwards called the "Shekinah," that dwelt between the cherubim, and was the symbol of the Divine presence, and the assurance that that presence would be self-revealing, and would manifest Himself to His people. The throned glory, the glory that reigns and rules as King in Israel, is the idea of the words before us. It is the same throne that a later writer in the New Testament speaks of when he says, "Let us come boldly to the throne of grace." We all can draw near, through the rent veil, and walk rejoicingly in the light of the Lord; this glory is grace; this grace is glory. This, then, is the first of Jeremiah's great thoughts of God, and it means — "The Lord God omnipotent reigneth," there is none else but He, and His will runs authoritative and supreme into all corners of the universe.

2. "High from the beginning." It was a piece of the patriotic exaggeration of Israel's prophets and psalmists that they made much of the little hill upon which the temple was set. Jeremiah felt it to be a material type, both of the elevation, and of the stable duration, of the God whom he would commend to Israel's and to all men's trust. "High from the beginning," separated from all creatural limitation and lowness, He whose name is the Most High, and on whose level no other being can stand, towers above the lowness of the loftiest creature, and from that inaccessible height He sends down His voice, like the trumpet from amidst the darkness of Sinai, proclaiming, I am God and there is none besides Me. Yet while thus "holy" — that is, separate from creatures — He makes communion with Himself possible to us, and draws near to us in Christ, that we in Christ may be made nigh to Him.

3. He is "the place of our sanctuary." That is, as though the prophet would point as the wonderful climax of all, to the fact that He of whom the former things were true should yet be accessible to our worship; that, if I might so say, our feet could tread the courts of that great temple; and we draw near to Him who is so far above the loftiest, and separate from all the magnificences which Himself has made, and who yet is "our sanctuary," and accessible to our worship. Ay! and more than that — "Lord! Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations." In old days the temple was more than a place of worship. It was a place where a man coming, had, according to ancient custom, guest rights with God. God Himself, like some ancestral dwelling place in which generation after Generation of fathers find children have abode, whence they have been carried, and where their children still live, is to all generations their home and their fortress.

II. THE SOUL RAPT IN MEDITATION OF THIS VISION OF GOD. To me, this long-drawn-out series of linked clauses without grammatical connection, this succession of adorning exclamations of rapture, wonder, and praise, is very striking. It suggests the manner in which we should vivify all our thoughts of God, by turning them into material for devout reverence; awestruck, considering meditation. We should be like ruminant animals who first crop the grass — which being interpreted means, get Scripture truth into our heads — and then chew the cud, which being interpreted is, then put these truths through a second process by meditation on them that may turn into nourishment and make flesh.

III. THE MEDITATIVE SOUL GOING OUT TO GRASP GOD THUS REVEALED, AS ITS PORTION AND HOPE. "O Lord! the hope of Israel." I must cast myself upon Him by faith as my only hope; and turn away from all other confidences which are vain and impotent. So we are back upon that familiar Christian ground, that the bond which knits a man to God, and by which all that God is becomes that man's personal property, and available for the security and the shaping of his life, is the simple flinging of himself into God's arms, in sure and certain trust. Then, every one of these characteristics of which I have been speaking will contribute its own special part to the serenity, the security, the Godlikeness, the blessedness, the righteousness, the strength of the man who thus trusts.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary.

WEB: A glorious throne, [set] on high from the beginning, is the place of our sanctuary.

A Soul Gazing on God
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