BY ADOLPH SAPHIR
This is an excerpt from "Israel the Beloved," a lecture included in the volume Christ and Israel,
collection of Saphir's lectures edited by David Baron. It was originally printed in 1911.
PRE-EMINENT among the saints of God, of whom we read in the Holy Scriptures, are Moses, the servant of Jehovah, who was faithful in all God’s house, and Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles, who was able to say, “Be ye followers of me, even as I am of Christ.” When we think of these two chosen vessels of God, of their wisdom, their meekness, their self-sacrifice, their zeal for God’s glory, their unwearied and ardent love, their sufferings, their patience; when we recall their tears, their words, their labours, their prayers, we feel so amazed at the grandeur of their characters and lives that we are lifted above the lower sentiment of admiration, and above the common expressions of eulogy, and we can only glorify God in them. As when we stand before a majestic Alpine mountain height, or gaze on a bright and beautiful star, we say: How great is God’s power, how beautiful are His works, how wonderful is His glory!
Moses and Paul show that love to God and love to man are one; that he who stands highest on the mount of God, and sees most of the glory of God, has the deepest compassion, the most burning love, the tenderest sympathy towards his brethren. Moses in his anguish said, “Blot me out of Thy book.” He could not bear the thought of Israel’s rejection. Paul in the intensity of his affection and sorrow could offer the same petition. We are not able to measure such depth of love manward, because we cannot understand the height of their love Godward. We listen in silence.
Love to Israel, such as Moses and Paul felt, is a ray from that ineffable ocean of light which is in God. The Apostle, which he speaks of his great grief on account of Israel’s unbelief, is conscious that this feeling is not merely one of natural patriotism and affection, but of the Spirit, by virtue of his union with Christ. “I say the truth in Christ, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost.” He who referred all feelings of true and tender love to the indwelling of God’s Spirit, who longed after the Philippians in the bowels of Jesus Christ, is clearly conscious that his love to Israel is Christ-sprung, God-given, and Spirit-breathed; it is the Saviour’s mind and affection living in his heart. Behold, Jesus Christ still weeping over Jerusalem with the eyes of Paul.