The Twofold Way of God: Sanctuary and Sea

Psalm 77:13; Psalm 77:19  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 5
Listen from:
His way is "in the sanctuary," and His way is "in the sea." Now there is a great difference between these two things. First of all, God's way is in the sanctuary where all is light, all is clear. There is no mistake there. There is nothing in the least degree that is a harass to the spirit. On the contrary, it is when the poor troubled one enters into the sanctuary and views things there in the light of God, that he sees the end of all else—everything that is entangled, the end of which he cannot find on the earth.
We have the same thing in Psalm 73. "When I thought to know this, it was too, painful for me; until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end." That is, in the sanctuary of God everything is understood, no matter how difficult and trying and painful as regards ourselves or others. When we once enter there, we are in the place of God's light and God's love; and then, whatever the difficulty may be, we understand all about it.
But not only is God's way in the sanctuary (and when we are there, all is bright and happy), but God's way is in the sea. He walks where we cannot always trace His footsteps.
"We cannot always trace the way
Where Thou, our gracious Lord, dost move;
But we can always surely say That God is love.
"When fear its gloomy cloud will fling
O'er earth—our souls, to heaven above,
As to their sanctuary, spring, For God is love."
God moves mysteriously at times, as we all know. There are ways of God which are purposely to try us. I need not say that it is not at all as if God had pleasure in our perplexities. Nor is it as if we had no sanctuary to draw near to, where we can rise above it. But still there is a great deal in the ways of God that must be left entirely in His own hands. The way of God is thus not only in the sanctuary, but also in the sea. And yet, what we find even in connection with His footsteps being in the sea is, "Thou leddest Thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron." That was through the sea; afterward, it was through the wilderness. But it had been through the sea. The beginnings of the ways of God with His people were there, because from first to last God must be the confidence of the saint. It may be an early lesson of his soul, but it never ceases to be the thing to learn.
How happy to know that while the sanctuary is open to us, yet God Himself is nearer still; and to Him we are brought now. As it is said (1 Peter 3), "Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God." This is a most precious thing, because there we are in the sanctuary at once, and brought to God Himself. And I am bold to say that heaven itself would be but a small matter if it were not to God that we are brought. It is better than any freedom from trial, better than any blessing, to be in the presence of the One to whom we belong, who is Himself the source of all blessing and joy. That we are brought to Him now is infinitely precious. There we are in the sanctuary brought to God.
But still there are other ways of God outside the sanctuary—in the sea. And there we often find ourselves at a loss. If we are occupied with the sea itself, and with trying to scan God's footsteps there, then they are not known. But confidence in God Himself is always the strength of faith. May the Lord grant us increasing simplicity and quietness in the midst of all that through which we pass, for His name's sake.
"Child of God by Christ's salvation, Rise o'er sin and fear and care-
Joy to find in every station,
Something still to do or bear;
Think what Spirit dwells within thee-
Think what Father's smiles are thine-
Think that Jesus died to win thee-
Child of God, wilt thou repine?
"Haste thee on from grace to glory,
Armed by faith and winged by prayer;
Heaven's eternal day's before thee,
God's right hand shall guide thee there;
Soon shall close thine earthly mission,
Soon shall pass thy pilgrim days,
Hope shall change to glad fruition,
Faith to sight, and prayer to praise."