Posted by: rcottrill | May 28, 2018

He Is Near

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Words: Horatius Bonar (b. Dec. 19, 1808; d. July 31, 1889)
Music: Menlo Park, by George Coles Stebbins (b. Feb. 26, 1846; d. Oct. 6, 1945)

Wordwise Hymns (Horatius Bonar)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Bonar was a Scottish pastor in the nineteenth century, and he was called “the prince of Scottish hymn writers.” He authored more than six hundred of them.

A public library, as the term suggests, is a library of volumes that’s open to the general public. Chetham’s Library, in Manchester, England, which opened in 1653, claims to be the first such facility in the English speaking world.

Now every city and most medium-sized towns have a public library. And what a treasure trove of enlightening information and recreational reading they are. Wander among the stacks and you’ll see volumes of history, science, fiction, culture, the arts, and religion, as well as instructional books on cooking, building, crafts and much more.

But what if knowledge could be even nearer at hand? What if a distillation of the library’s information could be brought into the home?

By the middle of the eighteenth century, multi-volume encyclopedias were being produced. The Encyclopædia Britannica has been around since 1768. Other similar sets of books have been published. And since the information sometimes becomes dated, many companies produce updated editions, or occasional supplements, to keep the information current. It was common in the twentieth century for families to have a set of encyclopedias in the home.

These were great assets in their time. But today technological advances have carried us far beyond that. I have beside me, as I type this, something far smaller than the computer I’m using. A device that is smaller than the palm of my hand. A smart phone. It gives me access to far more information than the set of encyclopedias our family used to own, or the public library a couple of blocks away.

I’m reminded of the old Spiritual that begins, “He’s got the whole world in His hands.” In an amazing way, we do that when we hold our phones. Information on movies and television, music, history, and calendars, notebooks of personal records, dictionaries–it’s all there. Want hear and see the news, read a book, watch a movie, or listen to an old radio program from the 1940’s, you can do that too. The whole world is now near at hand–in fact even things beyond this world and out into the surrounding universe.

But the song just mentioned isn’t about phones, It’s about God. He’s the One who holds the whole of creation in His hands. And His nearness to us is spoken of in the Bible many times. “Where can I go from Your Spirit?” asks the psalmist, “Or where can I flee from Your presence?” (Ps. 139:7). “He is not far from each one of us,” says Paul to the philosophers of Athens. And to believers, “He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Heb. 13:5). God is near to all who will reach out to Him in faith.

There are many other mentions of His closeness to human beings. Here are some: Gen. 18:15; Exod. 33:14; Deut. 20:1; Isa. 43:2; Matt. 18:20; 28:20.

But there’s another aspect of the Lord’s nearness that we need to consider. Christ’s return is near. Christians have His spiritual presence with us now. But one day the Lord Jesus is going to return from heaven, in His glory, to reign over the earth (Acts 1:11; Rev. 11:16cf. Isa. 9:6-7).

James tells us: “The coming of the Lord is at hand….Behold, the Judge is standing at the door” (Jas. 5:8-9). “For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry” (Heb. 10:37).

That’s the theme of a song called He Is Near, by Horatius Bonar. He speaks of the prophesied return of the Lord Jesus Christ, an event which he was convinced could well be very near, in his own day.

CH-1) I know not when the Lord will come,
Or at what hour He may appear,
Whether at midnight or at morn,
Or at what season of the year.

I only know that He is near,
And that His voice I soon shall hear.
I only know that He is near,
And that His voice I soon shall hear.

CH-4) I do not think it can be long,
Till in His glory He appear;
And yet I dare not name the day,
Nor fix the solemn advent year.

I only know that He is near,
And that His voice I soon shall hear.
I only know that He is near,
And that His voice I soon shall hear.

1) How will the fact that the Lord may return very soon affect your life and conduct today?

2) What is your favourite hymn about the second coming or about heaven?

Wordwise Hymns (Horatius Bonar)
The Cyber Hymnal


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