One of the most profitable spiritual exercises for a Christian is a systematic study of the attributes of God. After all, the Bible reveals that beholding the Lord’s glory both gives us joy and transforms us to be more like him (Ex 33:18; Ps 27:4; 2 Co 3:18). But undertaking such a study of God can feel daunting or academic. Therefore, I am grateful for books like A. W. Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy.
Tozer was an evangelical pastor and author who lived during the first half of the 20th century. He wrote numerous books, but his most famous is probably The Knowledge of the Holy. Before seminary, I kept finding this book on the recommended reading lists of pastors that I admired, so I expected the book to be some heavy and scholarly tome. In fact, the book is quite modest and accessible. A version on Amazon is only about 160 pages (a free version is available here), and while the writing is precise and poignant, Tozer writes for the average Christian.
Here’s an excerpt from Tozer’s chapter on God’s eternity. Note the connection between Tozer’s words and our recent introduction to Ecclesiastes.
We who live in this nervous age would be wise to meditate on our lives and our days long and often before the face of God and on the edge of eternity. For we are made for eternity as certainly as we are made for time, and as responsible moral beings we must deal with both.
“He hath set eternity in their heart,” said the Preacher, and I think he here sets forth both the glory and the misery of men. To be made for eternity and forced to dwell in time is for mankind a tragedy of huge proportions. All within us cries for life and permanence, and everything around us reminds us of mortality and change. Yet that God has made us of the stuff of eternity is both a glory and a prophecy yet to be fulfilled…
…The ancient image of God whispers within every man of everlasting hope; somewhere he will continue to exist. Still he cannot rejoice, for the light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world troubles his conscience, frightening him with proofs of guilt and evidences of coming death. So is he ground between the upper millstone of hope and the nether stone of fear.
Just here the sweet relevancy of the Christian message appears. “Jesus Christ … hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”…God’s eternity and man’s mortality join to persuade us that faith in Jesus Christ is not optional. For every man it must be Christ or eternal tragedy.