A DIVINE CHALLENGE
"How precious are Your thoughts unto me, O God!"
"This is what the Lord says: 'If you can break My covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night no longer come at their appointed time — then my covenant with David my servant — and my covenant with the Levites who are priests ministering before me — can be broken, and David will no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne." — Jeremiah 33:20-21
It is remarkable how often God's revealed thoughts have for their theme, the immutability of His covenant; as if the contemplation of His own inviolable faithfulness formed the mightiest of all topics of comfort and consolation for His believing people. Here He makes a solemn appeal to the constancy of the natural world — as a pledge and guarantee of His unchanging fidelity in spiritual things. Nothing seems so undeviating as the succession of day and night — the revolution of the seasons. The sun sinking at eventide in the golden west, and rising again like a giant refreshed. "While the earth remains," said the Great Creator over His own world, as it emerged of old from the waters of the Deluge, "seed-time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease."
In our motto-verse, using human language as a vehicle of Divine thought, He makes the challenge, 'If you can forbid that sun to rise — if you can put drags on his burning chariot wheels, and prevent him from setting — if you can forbid the moon to hang her silver lamp from the vault of night, or pluck the stars from their silent thrones — if you can transpose summer's heat and winter's cold — if you can make seed-time belie its promise to expecting autumn — then — but not until then, shall I break My covenant with My chosen servants!'
"Just as the heavens cannot be measured and the foundation of the earth cannot be explored, so I will not consider casting them away forever for their sins. I, the Lord, have spoken!"
It is delightful thus to look around us on the steadfast and unvarying sequences in the material universe, and to regard them as sacraments of grace — silent witnesses for the inviolability of God's word and promise. Nature, in her majestic constancy, becomes a temple filled with monuments, each bearing the inscription, "God who cannot lie!" The God of nature and the God of grace are one — and He who for the last six thousand years has given such proof of unswerving faithfulness in the one economy — (for "they continue this day according to Your ordinances") — will be equally faithful in fulfilling the more permanent provisions of the other. "Look up to the skies above, and gaze down on the earth beneath. For the skies will disappear like smoke, and the earth will wear out like a piece of clothing. The people of the earth will die like flies — but My salvation lasts forever. My righteous rule will never end!"
It is an "everlasting covenant, well-ordered in all things, and sure." How can it be otherwise, seeing it is founded on the work and righteousness of Jehovah-Jesus, Immanuel — God with us! Before one provision of that covenant can fail, immutability must first become mutable — and God Himself cease to be God! Standing on this "sure foundation," we can boldly utter the challenge, "Who is he that condemns?" Not God the Father — for "He has justified." Not Christ — for "He has died." Not angels in the heights above, not devils in the depths beneath.
Universal nature, in the ceaseless hymn of her own constancy, proclaims and celebrates our covenant security and safety. Her four great evangelists, Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter — endorse the utterances of the inspired volume. In the mouth of the two witnesses, "Day and Night," every word is established. Thus, with reference not only to the glory and wisdom and power of God — but to His purpose and promise of salvation for His people, "Day unto day utters speech; and night unto night shows knowledge." "But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations!"
John MacDuff (1818-1895)