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Gods and God.

Gods and God.

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
By Amory H. Bradford,


"Produce your cause, saith the Lord." Isaiah xli. 21.
By Amory H. Bradford,


"Produce your cause, saith the Lord." Isaiah xli. 21.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on May 10, 2014
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GODS AD GOD. By Amory H. Bradford, "Produce your cause, saith the Lord." Isaiah xli. 21. The forty-first chapter of the prophecy of Isaiah illustrates the difficulty which the ordin- ary reader has in understanding the propheti- cal books of the Old Testament. So much of it has relation to current events, that it requires study of contemporary history before its mean- ing can be understood. The prophet was in a high spiritual mood. He was thinking of the deliverence from Babylonian captivity which was to come to his people, and of the means by which it was to be accomplished. Seeing that it would be an act of providence rather than of human power, he used that as an argument to prove that the God of the Hebrews is the God of the world. The chapter divides itself into three parts : from the first to the seventh verse the speaker appeals to " the islands " — meaning the uttermost parts of the world — to tell who had raised up the power that was growing in the East by which deliverance was to be secured; and then, in a kind of fine scorn, represents them as trying to get information 42 Gods and God. from their gods — idols which had been made with their hands. As history this event has "been verified. With the rise of the Persian Cyrus and his dominion, Croesus, who was called the richest man in the world, sent from oracle to oracle and temple to temple to learn
 
whether the Persian commander could be suc- cessfully resisted. Before the oracles he poured out his treasures. It has been thought that the Prophet had him in mind when, in substance, he said : " All ye oracles, tell who has raised up this conquering chief." The second division of the chapter begins with the eighth verse and extends to the twentieth, and is an inspiring and glorious appeal to the Hebrew people to trust in God, who is represented as saying, " I am with thee ; I am thy God ; I will strengthen thee ; yea, I will help thee ; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness." In this part of the prophecy the Divine effici- ency in opening the way before the returning captives is beautifully expressed : " I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia tree, and the myrtle and the oil tree." Beginning with the twenty-first verse, is another appeal to the nations to show whether their gods could give to them the power which Jehovah had given to the speaker, namely, that of foretelling future events — Can you tell what this great ruler, Cyrus, will do ? The whole chapter revolves around three Gods and God. 43 thoughts. First, the Persian King is the instru- ment of God, therefore earthly rulers are Divine agents. Second, God watches over His people and is near to them even when events seem to be going against them. Third, one proof of the superiority of Jehovah to the gods of the nations is that His prophets can foretell the future. Different ages treat religious pro- blems from different standpoints. A great
 
argument in all ages, however, for the reality of God has been found in the unity of history. To this the Prophet appealed when he said, You can see that Jehovah is God because Cyrus is carrying out His purposes. Using the same principle, we say, Providence is a reality because a study of history shows that all events in all ages have been moving toward the realisation of righteousness in the life of humanity. The argument from ability to predict is not now regarded as of much importance. The essential thought in the mind of the Prophet may be phrased as follows : Gods and God. Isaiah, using the means at his command, offered evidence that the Jehovah of the Hebrews was the world's God. We adopt his method, but use different illustrations. Why do we believe that our conception of the Deity is true, and why should we try to induce others to accept it? If the Christian teaching concerning God is better than that of other religions it will appear by comparison. 44 Gods and God. Isaiah appealed to the ability to predict in evidence of Jehovah's greatness ; a better plan in our time is to compare the ethical value of various ideas of the Divine Being. Let us con- sider the teaching of three religions concerning the Deity. That which is best in itself will convince the most thoughtful inquirers. The true conception of God is that which most fully satisfies the reason, the conscience, and the hearts of the common people. The argument from prophecy or miracle may be ignored, but

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