Myopic or Hypermetropic?

Are we myopic or hypermetropic? Do we look down selfishly for material things and earthly honor or are we looking be­yond with the prophets of God to the grand climax?

OTTO H. CHRISTENSEN, Chairman, Division of Religion, Southern Missionary College

Every man is created with a pair of eyes. What would we do without them? As we grow older we naturally tend to become hypermetropic (far­sighted). In many lands old age is also a sign of wisdom. This too is natural, and it should be natural in the spiritual realm as well. We ought to grow in spiritual wisdom with our spiritual birthdays. Paul called the Corinthians who were not spiritual just babes, and many Christians today are like­wise in their spiritual infancy because they do not have spiritual wisdom and cannot see afar off.

When God established His church He ordained that it should have eyes. Jesus said, "If the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch" (Matt. 15:14). God called His prophets "seers" (1 Sam. 9:9) because they were the eyes of the church. When God originated the plan of salva­tion He saw that man needed guidance that He himself could give directly no more. He instituted the sacrificial system with the father in the home as the priest and prophet. He was the spiritual eyes of the family. He should have the hypermetropic view of a better land after the Seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head.

When the majority had lost sight of the coming future redemption and glory, He called one man, Abraham, to be His priest-prophet to head up His spiritual family. Isaac and Jacob followed. It was God's plan that this dual privilege and responsibility should go to the oldest son in succession. The ten oldest sons of Jacob forfeited this privilege and apostatized before they ever entered Egypt, and this holy arrangement suffered much while they were in Egypt.

During the exodus from Egypt great changes took place. Because of the size of the congregation a priesthood was neces­sarily set up. God showed that this office was not to be held by merely the rule of the so-called apostolic succession. When Reu­ben, the eldest, failed, God chose a family of another tribe, because they had stepped over on the Lord's side when Israel had sinned at Mount Sinai. Thus God showed that it was a spiritual qualification that was to decide the issue and not an unbroken physical lineage. Levi was substituted for Reuben. Reuben was myopic (near­sighted) and could not see the Promised Land. He could only see Egypt, and he wished to return.

It was God's plan that the priest should be both priest and prophet. "For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts" (Mal. 2:7). He was to wear the Urim and Thum­mim, and by these he was to direct Israel as God manifested Himself to him. He was to be both the spiritual leader and eyes for the church. All this was to be incorporated in one person, and by the Urim and Thum­mim he was to make known the will of God to Israel.

But the priests became myopic and saw only personal benefits, glory to self, and their financial standing. Nadab and Abihu, sons of Aaron, transgressed God's com­mand, and they took common instead of sacred fire that God had kindled to burn the incense. "The great light and privileges bestowed, require returns of virtue and holiness corresponding to the light given." —Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 360. Self took the pre-eminence and they perished for their sins. Position gives no immunity from judgment. "Great blessings or privileges should never lull to security or careless­ness."—Ibid. There were Eli's sons who looked only to personal gain, and the pro­phetic office and the priesthood were given to Samuel, the last of the combination prophet-priest-judge. There has never been complete "apostolic succession" in the Old Testament.

From here a new order begins. The priests had failed God, so God must send corrective messengers. The priests had be­come myopic and could not see afar off and lead Israel. "They eat up the sin of my people, and they set their heart on their iniquity. And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings" (Ho­sea 4:8, 9). God had to find someone who was hypermetropic, who could see beyond, and use him to warn the priests and the people. The people had not hearkened (see Jeremiah 7:25, 26). He must call an individual whose life was like His message, a prophet for Him. From now on there was constant conflict between the prophet and the priest. God did not speak through the priests any more. As a result they were jealous of their position. "Are we not priests of the Lord? Does not God speak through us and not you, ye prophets?" This became their attitude. But again God had departed from "apostolic succession."

Not position but righteousness and faith­fulness is God's measure of a man. The prophets now constantly bore a message of rebuke to the priests, of which these are but samples: "Trust ye not in lying words, say­ing, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, are these" (see Jeremiah 7:1-7). They were even to stand in the gate of the Lord's house and rebuke the priests who were myopic and depending on present material things. Again in Malachi 2:1, 2: "And now, 0 ye priests, this commandment is for you. If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the Lord of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you."

Constantly the prophets of the Old Testa­ment were carrying a message the priests should have borne. Their constant appeal was "turn ye," as registered in Jeremiah 3:13, 14; "Only acknowledge thine iniq­uity, that thou hast transgressed against the Lord thy God, . . . and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the Lord. Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion."

They presented the appeal from God: "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scar­let, they shall be as white as snow" (Isa. 1:18). How such men as Isaiah and others strove to present the coming Messiah as the means of Israel's salvation! In various ways and by various symbols they presented Him. He was the Child to be born, the King to reign, the Counselor, the Branch, the Root, the Servant. How it must have pained their hearts to see Israel indifferent to the offer of righteousness by faith through the Messiah! For Jeremiah 23:6 says, "This is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUS­NESS." The prophets not only presented the means of righteousness but the way to live. Micah, with a call to hear, cried out, "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" (Micah 6:8).

God was torn between two decisions in regard to Israel—doom or hope. As a re­sult, in the same books one finds conflicting messages stating both the doom of Israel and hope for their restoration. As God looks down upon sinful Israel and their re­jection of Him, they are deserving of the worst, and He says through Hosea, "I will be unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah: I, even I, will tear and go away; I will take away, and none shall rescue him" (Hosea 5:14). But almost in the next breath He says, "How shall I give thee up, Ephraim?" (chapter 11:8). Had the priests proved faithful, these prophetic messages would have doubtless been unnecessary. The great heart of God bled for His people, as it does now for us, and He tried in every way to save them. At last He had to say, "Behold, your house is left unto you desolate."

Are we myopic or hypermetropic? Do we look down selfishly for material things and earthly honor or are we looking be­yond with the prophets of God to the grand climax? This is the basic question for each to answer. The lessons from the prophets of old are for us today. Let us study them afresh with this background, and they will bring new meaning to us.

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OTTO H. CHRISTENSEN, Chairman, Division of Religion, Southern Missionary College

July 1962

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