George H. Morrison - Devotional Sermons
"They... limited the Holy One of Israel." Psa 78:41
Sometimes we fall into the sin of limiting God to the greater hours of our life. I take it that all of us are so tempted. When the Syrians were fighting Israel they found they were always beaten on the hills, from which they gathered that the God of Israel was a God of the hills and not of the valleys. And this exclusion of the will of God from the peaceful and lowly valley-land of life is not confined to Syrian mentality. Every life has its dramatic hours and knows the exhilaration of the heights. In such hours, "so nigh to God is man," we often are strangely conscious of His presence.
But to limit the Holy One of Israel to our rarer moments on the hills is to miss the wonder of His fellowship. He is as near us in the dreary day as in the day when all the birds are singing. He is as close to us in lowly duty as in the hours that are going to alter everything. He is present in the lilies of the field, according to the teaching of our Lord, as magnificently as in the earthquake or the storm. Do not confine God to the big things as if these alone lay upon His heart. Never reserve Him for the greater moments as if He had no feeling for the lesser ones. To do so is to fall into the sin which is recorded here against the ancient Jews. It is to limit the Holy One of Israel.
We Limit God in the Use of Human Instruments
We are so ready to forget His sovereignty. It is true that often, when God has work to do, His choice of instruments at once commends itself. The man He chooses is exquisitely fitted for the peculiar task that is allotted him. But very often it is the other way--God's choice is mysterious and sovereign--the whole of history is one long commentary on the unlikely instruments of heaven. He wants a nation which shall bless the world, and He chooses a company of slaves in Egypt. He wants a messenger to carry doom to Eli, and He chooses Samuel, a little child. He wants a cradle for the beloved Son whose name is to be above every name, and He chooses a manger in the inn at Bethlehem.
I believe in an educated ministry. I trust we shall always have it in our land. It is one of the proudest boasts of Scotland that we have always had an educated ministry. But how often when we were priding ourselves upon our education, God in His sovereign fashion has come and put us all to shame by the preaching of uneducated men. You cannot limit the shining of the sun, and the Lord God is a sun. You cannot limit the breathing of the wind, and the Holy Ghost is like the wind. Men must watch when they want to keep their pulpits from the preaching of unordained servants lest they be limiting the Holy One of Israel.
Limiting God in Our Prayers
Or again, aren't we often tempted to limit God in the matter of our prayers? We confine Him to one expected answer. What if our blessed Savior had done that? What if He had limited the Father? What if the only answer He would tolerate had been the passing of the bitter cup? Then we would never have had Calvary nor the blood that keeps the sinner from despair, nor the victorious power of His resurrection. I remember a chaplain saying to me in France that if the Germans won the war, he'd lose his faith. In the mercy of God, the Germans did not win. But there are few things more perilous in prayer than to make one's faith conditional, and that is what the Savior never did. He never said, "This cup must pass from me, or I shall cease to trust the love of heaven." He said, "Father, if it be possible...nevertheless thy will not mine be done." And always we must bear that in mind when we cry for anything upon our knees lest, even in our holiest moments, we limit the Holy One of Israel.
Limiting God in His Power
Lastly, are we not prone to limit God in regard to the compass of His power? We have many instances of that in Scripture. When, for instance, Jairus' daughter died, the servants went hurrying through the streets to Jairus. And when they found him, they cried, "Sir, she is dead. There is no use troubling Jesus any further."
What they meant was that as long as she was living there always was the hope that He might cure her. There was no such hope now that she was dead. They were limiting the power of Jesus. There were certain things that were beyond Him. And sometimes when we view society today, are we not subject to the same temptation? God keep us all, who are praying for revival and for the coming of His kingdom in the world, from limiting the Holy One of Israel.
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