And then, when I sat there musing upon God, thoughts struck me as the clouds careered along the skies thoughts which I must give to you this morning. I trust they were somewhat for my own instruction, and possibly they may be for yours. “The clouds are the dust of his feet.”
I. Well, the first remark I make upon this shall be—the way of God is generally a hidden one. This we gather from the text, by regarding the connection, “the Lord hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.”
When God works his wonders he always conceals himself. Even the motion of his feet causes clouds to arise; and if these; clouds are but the dust of his feet,” how deep must be that dense darkness which veils the brow of the Eternal.
If the small dust which he causes is of equal magnitude with our clouds—if we can find no other figure to image “the dust of his feet” than the clouds of heaven, then, how obscure must be the motions of the Eternal one, how hidden and how shrouded in darkness! This great truth suggested by the text, is well borne out by facts. The ways of God are hidden ones. Cowper did not say amiss when he sang,—
“He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.”
His footsteps cannot be seen, for, planted on the sea, the next wave washes them out; and placed in the storm, rioting as the air then is, every impression of his chariot wheels is soon erased.
Look at God, and at whatever he has deigned to do, and you will always see him to have been a hidden God. He has concealed himself, and all his ways have been veiled in the strictest mystery. Consider his works of salvation.
How did he hide himself when he determined to save mankind? He did not manifestly reveal himself to our forefathers. He gave them simply one dim lamp of prophecy which shone in words like these “The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head;” and for four thousand years God concealed his Son in mystery, and no one understood what the Son of God was to be.
The smoking incense beclouded their eyes, and while it showed something of Jesus, it did hide far more. The burning victim sent its smoke up towards the sky, and it was only through the dim mists of the sacrifice that the pious Jew could see the Saviour.
Angels themselves, we are told, desired to look into the mysteries of redemption, yet though they stood with their eyes intently fixed upon it, until the hour when redemption developed itself on Cavalry, not a single angel could understand it. The profoundest sage might have sought to find out how God could be just and yet the justifier of the ungodly; but he would have failed in his investigations.
The most intensely pious man might meditate, with the help of that portion of God’s Spirit which was then given to the prophets, on this mighty subject, and he could not have discovered what the mystery of godliness was—
“God manifest in the flesh.”
God marched in clouds, “He walked in the whirlwinds;” he did not deign to tell the world what he was about to do; for it is his plan to gird himself in darkness, and “the clouds are the dust of his feet.”
Ah! and so it always has been in Providence as well as grace. God never condescends to make things very plain to his creatures. He always does rightly; and therefore, he wants his people always to believe that he does rightly. But if he showed them that he did so, there would be no room for their faith.