the divine arch of human redemption (1)
As one stands back from the canvas and contemplates the picture presented to us by a brief review of World History, certain general characteristics obtrude themselves. From the earliest times through to the present day, wars, tumult, bloodshed, disease, pain, suffering and death are features which predominate amongst all peoples upon the earth. The story of Mankind is a long saga in which these evils are seen to be constant, even endemic in the very structure of human society, affecting the lives of all men and women everywhere, and in every age, to their detriment.
Throughout the ages, the most gifted and illustrious of men have striven to find the answer to life’s problems – to obtain peace, security and happiness in an environment free from fear and want. Many and varied have been their solutions, all of which have failed in any sense which could be described as permanent. None have done more than alleviate and that but for a short time, some of the greater evils, only for them to reappear often in a more rampant form.
The great powers which have arisen, led by men of skill in leadership and worldly wisdom have left behind but the ruins of their great empires. Babylon, Assyria, Egypt, Persia, Greece, Rome … have all in their several ways made manifest the achievements of their men of renown, boasted themselves in their accomplishments, gloried for a time in their power and influence, and then as snow before the heat of the sun, melted away. We forbear to speak of the wars, the record of which takes up the major portion of human history. It is a salutary fact that if one omits the recounting of the conflicts between men and nations, the remaining annals could well be confined to a single volume. The impulse to fight and kill seems inbred in the very nature of things and men have sought out many inventions to increase the scope and ferocity of it all. In our day, the nuclear missiles possessed by an increasing number of nations are more than sufficient to annihilate the entire population of the globe, quite apart from other deadly and perfected forms of extermination.
Although in these latter days, knowledge has increased and remarkable progress made in many spheres of human activity, yet through it all is an aura of foreboding, as though it is but the augury of some subtle and unforeseen evil. In spite of great strides having been made in combating disease, with the alleviation of pain and suffering, there seems little diminution in distress of all kinds. As cures are found for old maladies, new and more deadly variants appear, so that the search for remedies continues to be urgent and relentless. With resources reckoned in billions of pounds a year, and ever on the increase, the spending brings no panacea, only palliatives.
Coupled with this important aspect of life, are other intractable problems, involving pollution, the poisoning of the atmosphere, affecting the very air we breathe. Crime, immorality and depravity are growing together with the breaking up of family life, and the ties which bond society together. In addition are natural disasters caused by earthquakes, fire, and storm affecting millions of people in the destruction caused.
In the light of these undeniable facts, it has been succinctly expressed that human life, be it individual, or collective, national or international, seems to consist of a succession of just one damned thing after another, as though the whole world past or present has a curse upon it all! Life is seen as but the pathway to death and along the route are strewn evils, seen and unseen, which are experienced by all it’s travellers to a greater or lesser degree, relieved by brief periods of comparative happiness and joy which are only too transient, for all ends only in ashes. Death is the all-consuming enemy.
So it is that men avert their gaze and solace themselves with conjectures which the fertile but devious minds of the great thinkers propound as truth. So we have on the one hand the Theory of Evolution, with its nihilistic philosophy and the intrinsic idea that we are creatures of mere chance with no future beyond the span of this present existence, owing no responsibility other than to oneself. Or on the other hand, the belief in a benevolent God who has kindly provided for immortal souls to be transported to a paradise beyond the realms of time and space, there to enjoy the pleasures of eternal bliss, to which death is the gateway and which, tragically is but the figment of their own wishful thinking. In the meantime, the living of life to the full in the satisfying of every whim and desire, whether pleasant of depraved, appears to the vast majority as the only sensible course to take. So it is, and so it has ever been.
As we reflect upon this, the very briefest of glimpses of the broad canvas of life, we pause to ask the question as to why things are as we find them. Why is it that after so long a time it has not evidently been possible to find any lasting solution to the ills of mankind? It has not been for lack of trying. The best of men, the finest of brains have over the centuries exercised their minds and found no answer as the present tragic, even terrifying state of the world bears eloquent testimony.
We are forced to the conclusion that “it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps”. That is God’s judgement of the matter and it is in the acknowledgement of that truth, and only then, that a solution to the apparent enigma of life and death begins to emerge. What we have been viewing is the panorama of human history looked at from man’s point of view. It is man looking in upon himself. He worships and serves the creature (himself) more than the Creator, whose existence he not only questions, but by his thinking, denies. As a result, his mind is bounded by the here and now, hemmed in by his own surmisings, enclosed within the compass of his own fallen, mortal condition.
But amidst the clouds of his own devisings, the Egyptian darkness which can be felt, and which blots out the brightness of God’s glory, in the purified air above him, stretching across the aions of time, the eye of faith beholds the Divine Arch of Human Redemption, unseen and unknown by the vast concourse of the Human Race. “The Heavens declare the Glory of God and the firmament showeth his handiwork”. That fact is true, not only of the natural order in all it’s wonder, but also of an even greater and nobler spiritual order, which in the purpose of the Almighty, will encompass the whole of Creation, for:
“God is Love: His mercy brightens All the path in which we move From the mist his brightness streameth God is Wisdom, God is Love”
With this vision before us, we turn to God’s Word, and view the History of Man from His point of view, discarding all human thoughts and surmisings. Then, and only then, will we get the whole picture into perspective, and see the removal of that which down the generations of men, has been and still is the cause of the very suffering, pain, distress, and dissolution into dust of everything human.
The grand design of bringing all things into harmony with the Divine is seen to be that of a consummate Artist, made manifest in the Atoning work of the Saviour of mankind, provided by God. That great purpose stretches down the ages to our own day, and will result in the regaining of Paradise with the eternity of all it’s wonder, beauty, peace and concord. Through it all we observe the operation of God’s hand, guiding and controlling the exquisite brushwork in the creation of a Divine Masterpiece, framed in pure gold.
Eric W Phipps