"The songs of Zion"

Every Bible student is more or less familiar with the account of the Israelites in bondage in Babylon. The writer of the one hundred and thirty-seventh psalm has drawn a very touching word picture of their plight in that "strange land": "By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?"

How cheering and inspiring to know that even while in a "strange land," in bondage to foreign masters, surrounded by what must have seemed to be most depressing and discouraging conditions, at least some of these Israelites caught glorious glimpses of the ever-presence of God! The prophet Ezekiel, who was one of their number, says, "Now it came to pass ... as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God." Then follows a stirring account of those visions which, even after centuries have passed, thrill us and inspire us to be more Godlike, more persistent in our efforts for good, that we, too, may get soul-inspiring visions of God.

The inference may safely be drawn that Ezekiel wasted no time harboring thoughts of resentment or revenge towards the Babylonians, or in useless speculation on the past or future. It is not recorded that he indulged in self-pity or self-condemnation, or that he sought to blame some one else for his condition. Looking away from all material manifestations, he turned unreservedly to God for help and guidance in his hour of trouble, and found God to be a loving, compassionate Father, waiting to comfort and heal. He proved God to be a God at hand, just as He had been at the Red Sea, in the wilderness, and when he had caught glimpses of Him in the hushed solemnity of the worship hours in the valleys of Galilee. The prophet proved Zion to be near at hand, even while surrounded by captives on the river bank in far-off Babylonia. He proved that man is God's child, and that he could find himself in no place or situation where God is not, and where God's law is not operative and supreme. He proved the paramount importance of correct thinking, even when he found himself in a "strange land." He proved that in reality there is no such thing as a "strange land," but only the consciousness of God's ever-presence. And he proved, further, that a correct attitude of thought, adhered to, will deliver from unreal bondage. All this he proved while a captive in a "strange land," far from home and in the face of conditions tending to fear, ingratitude, resentment, and discouragement.

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Destroying the Graven Images
November 6, 1926

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