October 21st, 2020

Man’s longing for God

By Submitted Article on November 16, 2019.


Second of three parts

Jacob M. Van Zyl

The remnants of temples, pyramids, and massive vertical stones attest to the religious searches of early humanity.

Sometimes, horrible practices, such as human sacrifices and immorality, stained man’s endeavours to contact and serve the divine. However, the yearning was there to reach out to spiritual reality, perceived as the source of physical reality.

Atheism and secularism – living as if there is no God – were luxuries primitive man could not afford. There were so many dangers and uncontrollable natural forces that they felt completely dependant on divine protection. Each day, new moon, spring, hunt, planting, harvest, battle and exploration was started with prayers and sacrifices.

Today, federal, provincial and local governments go without opening prayer despite their high responsibilities.

The Bible reflects human yearning for God from the viewpoints of Judaism and Christianity. In the Old Testament, man’s yearning for God is especially strong in the laws given through Moses, in the psalms and in the prophets.

Christians, too, can relate to the songs of longing, lament, praise and trust bundled in the book of psalms. Psalm 42 compares the yearning of the pilgrim for the temple and for God’s presence to that of a thirsty deer, panting for a stream of water. Psalm 130 uses the waiting of watchmen for dawn as metaphor of the believer’s waiting for God’s help in dire straits.

Psalm 37 admonishes believers not to envy the prosperity of the wicked – that will wither like grass in hot sun. Instead, believers should proceed with their lives, trusting God to provide the right thing at the right time. When they delight themselves in God’s word, God will give them the desires of their hearts and make them prevail and shine like the sun at noon.

Prophecies fulfilled in Christ are especially dear to Christians (Ps. 2, 110). Parts of Psalm 22 give a literal description of what would happen to Christ on Calvary, thousand years after the psalm was written.

Isaiah 53 also portrays Christ’s suffering in a touching way: “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Surely, he borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed.”

Jesus read the prophecy about himself from Isaiah 62 in the synagogue: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel.”

For 2,000 years, from Abraham to Christ, God’s people yearned for the coming of the Messiah. From Christ till today, also 2,000 years, the good news of the Messiah has been proclaimed globally to those who yearn for contact with God.

Jacob Van Zyl of Lethbridge is a retired counsellor and the author of several faith-based books.

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