Page:A Brief Bible History (Boyd and Machen, 1922).djvu/53

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
47
OLD TESTAMENT TIMES

shalt not." And, on a still higher level, Moses summed up that Law for him in these memorable words, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart." Yet the entire body of Israel, as such, held a relation to God which his spokesmen are continually trying to illustrate and enrich by all sorts of figures. God is Israel's "Rock," "Possessor" or "Purchaser," "Redeemer," "Father" — until Isaiah can even say to the nation, "Thy Maker is thy husband," and Hosea and Ezekiel can portray God's dealings with Israel under the allegory of a marriage.

It would be a mistake, however, to suppose that all the inward religion was individual and all the outward religion national. There was provision in the ceremonial law, not only for sacrifices on a national scale, like those of the day of atonement, but also for each man to express outwardly his own penitence or devotion or gratitude or obligation to God by means of a personal sacrifice, publicly offered but privately planned and provided. And, on the other hand, the psalms and the prophets cannot be understood, unless we realize the general religious life of the nation that lies back of these highly individual forms of expression. That was why, when David thinking of himself could write, "The Lord is my shepherd," the whole people could take that sentence and the psalm it begins for use in public worship as the collective expression of Israel's trust in its God.

The great fact of sin is responsible for the perversion of the true relation between these different varieties of religious life. In theory, every symbolic object and action at tabernacle or Temple was merely the outward expression of an inward idea or feeling or resolve. Every smoking sacrifice on the altar was supposed to come from an offerer drawing near to God in the sincere belief "that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him." Heb. 11:6. But in fact the offerer was in constant danger of looking upon all the gifts and victims he brought as so many bribes with which he might buy the favor of an offended God, or, worse still, might obtain an "indulgence" to do some evil deed he planned. This is what Jeremiah means when he cries, "Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely . . . and come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered; that ye may do all these abominations?" Jer. 7:9, 10.

If the private worshiper was in danger of abusing the worship of God in this way, how much more was the priest, the professional sacrificer and celebrant, in danger of looking upon all his duties as a kind