"Unity without verity is no better than conspiracy." - John Trapp

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Favorite Hymns - Immortal, Invisible

What better subject for us to focus on when our voices are raised in song to God than His character. I love Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts and find comfort in considering God Moves in A Mysterious Way. But Immortal, Invisible, which as a starting point uses 1 Timothy 1:17 - "Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen."(KJV), serves to lift my thoughts to our Great God. In the midst of difficult days, it is songs like this that serve to comfort and strengthen me.

The words to the hymn were written by Walter Chalmers Smith and published in 1876. I don't know many details about his life or the circumstances around the writing of the hymn, but consider the verses:

Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
Most blessèd, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, Thy great Name we praise.

The first line speaks to us of the fact that God lives forever, and cannot die. Also that He is not seen by human eyes, but is revealed in the written word and the Living Word. This is the wise God, who knows the beginning from the end and works all things after the counsel of His own will. He is hidden from our sight by the brilliance of His glory, so He indeed is most blessed, most glorious. Again affirming that God has always existed, He is the Ancient of Days as revealed by the prophet Daniel. Throughout Scripture He is the almighty, and His victory is certain. How then can we not praise His name?

Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,
Nor wanting, nor wasting, Thou rulest in might;
Thy justice, like mountains, high soaring above
Thy clouds, which are fountains of goodness and love.

God never slumbers, but always watches over His creation. Therefore, He never is behind, rushing to do what needs to be done. But, like the light that illumines our day, we rarely take notice of His work in our midst. Part of His being Almighty is that God needs nothing, nor does any exercise of His power reduce His power, so His sovereign reign is secure. God is always just, and the beauty of His justice is like the mountains which tower above us. Stand at the foot of the Rockies and see how they tower over you. So also is God's justice. But the clouds, the source of life giving rain, display to us the goodness and love of God, who provides for us though we are unworthy.

To all, life Thou givest, to both great and small;
In all life Thou livest, the true life of all;
We blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree,
And wither and perish—but naught changeth Thee.

God is the source of all life. He Himself is dependent on no one else for life, but all life is dependent on Him. Our lives here on this earth are a vapor, here and then gone, but God abides forever, and never changes. He is the Great I Am.

Great Father of glory, pure Father of light,
Thine angels adore Thee, all veiling their sight;
But of all Thy rich graces this grace, Lord, impart
Take the veil from our faces, the vile from our heart.

So God is our Father, if we have received in faith the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus. And only in Jesus can we see the Father, because the light of His glory shines too brightly not only for our mortal eyes, but even for the angels who cry "Holy, Holy, Holy" in His presence. We can only with the hymn writer request that God in His grace remove the veil from our eyes, and also to sanctify us more fully. Today, we do not like to think of ourselves as vile, but we are. Saying that should not make us less, but more compassionate. We are all sinners, and apart from the grace of God, we all would perish. Think not more highly of yourself than you ought.

All laud we would render; O help us to see
’Tis only the splendor of light hideth Thee,
And so let Thy glory, Almighty, impart,
Through Christ in His story, Thy Christ to the heart.

So we praise You, O Lord, and ask that you remove the scales from our eyes. Grant to us to understand that we do not see You not because You are not with us, but because of the blinding beauty of who You are. O Father, grant that through our knowing the work of our Savior, Jesus, His Spirit would dwell with us throughout our fleeting days, to make us more like Him.

If there is a song this side of Heaven that speaks more wonderfully of the attributes of our God, I have not found it.

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