Category Archives: The Word of God

A Whale-Sized Lesson for Preachers

JonahThere now came a lull in [Father Mapple’s] look, as he silently turned over the leaves of the Book once more; and, at last, standing motionless, with closed eyes, for the moment, seemed communing with God and himself.

But again he leaned over towards the people, and bowing his head lowly, with an aspect of the deepest yet manliest humility, he spake these words:

“Shipmates, God has laid but one hand upon you; both his hands press upon me. I have read ye by what murky light may be mine the lesson that Jonah teaches to all sinners; and therefore to ye, and still more to me, for I am a greater sinner than ye. And now how gladly would I come down from this mast-head and sit on the hatches there where you sit, and listen as you listen, while some one of you reads me that other and more awful lesson which Jonah teaches to me, as a pilot of the living God. How being an anointed pilot-prophet, or speaker of true things and bidden by the Lord to sound those unwelcome truths in the ears of a wicked Nineveh, Jonah, appalled at the hostility he should raise, fled from his mission, and sought to escape his duty and his God by taking ship at Joppa. But God is everywhere; Tarshish he never reached. As we have seen, God came upon him in the whale, and swallowed him down to living gulfs of doom, and with swift slantings tore him along ‘into the midst of the seas,’ where the eddying depths sucked him ten thousand fathoms down, and ‘the weeds were wrapped about his head,’ and all the watery world of woe bowled over him. Yet even then beyond the reach of any plummet- ‘out of the belly of hell’- when the whale grounded upon the ocean’s utmost bones, even then, God heard the engulphed, repenting prophet when he cried. Then God spake unto the fish; and from the shuddering cold and blackness of the sea, the whale came breeching up towards the warm and pleasant sun, and all the delights of air and earth; and ‘vomited out Jonah upon the dry land;’ when the word of the Lord came a second time; and Jonah, bruised and beaten- his ears, like two sea-shells, still multitudinously murmuring of the ocean- Jonah did the Almighty’s bidding. And what was that, shipmates? To preach the Truth to the face of Falsehood! That was it!

This, shipmates, this is that other lesson; and woe to that pilot of the living God who slights it. Woe to him whom this world charms from Gospel duty! Woe to him who seeks to pour oil upon the waters when God has brewed them into a gale! Woe to him who seeks to please rather than to appal! Woe to him whose good name is more to him than goodness! Woe to him who, in this world, courts not dishonor! Woe to him who would not be true, even though to be false were salvation! Yea, woe to him who as the great Pilot Paul has it, while preaching to others is himself a castaway!

He drooped and fell away from himself for a moment; then lifting his face to them again, showed a deep joy in his eyes, as he cried out with a heavenly enthusiasm,- “But oh! shipmates! on the starboard hand of every woe, there is a sure delight; and higher the top of that delight, than the bottom of the woe is deep. Is not the main-truck higher than the kelson is low? Delight is to him- a far, far upward, and inward delight- who against the proud gods and commodores of this earth, ever stands forth his own inexorable self. Delight is to him whose strong arms yet support him, when the ship of this base treacherous world has gone down beneath him. Delight is to him, who gives no quarter in the truth, and kills, burns, and destroys all sin though he pluck it out from under the robes of Senators and Judges. Delight,- top-gallant delight is to him, who acknowledges no law or lord, but the Lord his God, and is only a patriot to heaven. Delight is to him, whom all the waves of the billows of the seas of the boisterous mob can never shake from this sure Keel of the Ages. And eternal delight and deliciousness will be his, who coming to lay him down, can say with his final breath- O Father!- chiefly known to me by Thy rod- mortal or immortal, here I die. I have striven to be Thine, more than to be this world’s, or mine own. Yet this is nothing: I leave eternity to Thee; for what is man that he should live out the lifetime of his God?”

He said no more, but slowly waving a benediction, covered his face with his hands, and so remained kneeling, till all the people had departed, and he was left alone in the place.

Herman Melville (1819-91), Moby Dick, Chapter IX, “The Sermon.”

Photo: Jim LePage 

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The Psalms: An Anatomy of All the Parts of the Soul

I have been accustomed to call this book (Psalms), I think not inappropriately, “An Anatomy of all the Parts of the Soul;” for there is not an emotion of which any one can be conscious that is not here represented as in a mirror.  Or rather, the Holy Spirit has here drawn to the life all the griefs, sorrows, fears, doubts, hopes, cares, perplexities, in short, all the distracting emotions with which the minds of men are wont to be agitated.  The other parts of Scripture contain the commandments which God enjoined his servants to announce to us.  But here the prophets themselves, seeing they are exhibited to us as speaking to God, and laying open all their inmost thoughts and affections, call, or rather draw, each of us to the examination of himself in particular, in order that none of the many infirmities to which we abound, may remain concealed.  It is certainly a rare and singular advantage, when all lurking places are discovered, and the heart is brought into the light, purged from that most baneful infection, hypocrisy.  In short, as calling upon God is one of the principal means of securing our safety, and as a better and more unerring rule for guiding us in this exercise cannot be found elsewhere than in the Psalms, it follows, that in proportion to the proficiency which a man shall have attained in understanding them, will be his knowledge of the most important part of celestial doctrine.  Genuine and earnest prayer proceeds first from a sense of need, and next, from faith in the promises of God.  it is by perusing these inspired compositions, that men will be most effectually awakened to a sense of their maladies, and, at the same time, instructed in seeking remedies for their cure.  In a word, whatever may serve to encourage us when we are about to pray to God, is taught us in this book.  And not only are the promises of God presented to us in it, but oftentimes there is exhibited to us one standing, as it were, amidst the invitations of God on the one hand, and the impediments of the flesh on the other, girding and preparing himself for prayer: thus teaching us, if at any time we are agitated with a variety of doubts, to resist and fight against them, until the soul, freed and disentangled from all these impediments, rise up to God; and not only so, but even when in the midst of doubts, fears, and apprehensions, let us put forth our efforts in prayer, until we experience some consolation which may calm and bring contentment to our minds.  Although distrust may shut the gate against our prayers, yet we must not allow ourselves to give way, whenever our hearts waver or are agitated with inquietude, but must persevere until faith finally come forth victorious from these conflicts. In many places we may perceive the exercise of the servants of God in prayer so fluctuating, that they are almost overwhelmed by the alternate hope of success and apprehension of failure, and gain the prize only by strenuous exertions. We see on the one hand, the flesh manifesting its infirmity; and on the other, faith putting forth its power; and if it is not so valiant and courageous as might be desired, it is at least prepared to fight until by degrees it acquire perfect strength. But as those things which serve to teach us the true method of praying aright will be found scattered through the whole of this Commentary, I will not now stop to treat of topics which it will be necessary afterwards to repeat, nor detain my readers from proceeding to the work itself. Only it appeared to me to be requisite to show in passing, that this book makes known to us this privilege, which is desirable above all others — that not only is there opened up to us familiar access to God, but also that we have permission and freedom granted us to lay open before him our infirmities which we would be ashamed to confess before men.

John Calvin (1509-64), The Author’s Preface, Joshua. Psalms 1-35, xxxvi-xxxvii

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The Old Testament: A Treasury of Wondrous Things

treasurepile

6. By what has been said we may see the usefulness and excellency of the Old Testament. Some are ready to look on the Old Testament as being, as it were, out of date and as if we in these days of the gospel had but little to do with it; which is a very great mistake, arising from want of observing the nature and design of the Old Testament, which if it was observed it would appear full of the gospel of Christ, and would in an excellent manner illustrate and confirm the glorious doctrines and promises of the New Testament. Those parts of the Old Testament which are commonly looked upon as containing the least divine instruction are, as it were, as mines and treasures of gospel knowledge, and the reason why they are thought to contain so little is because persons do but superficially read them. The treasures that are hid underneath are not observed. They only look on the top of the ground, and so suddenly pass a judgment that there is nothing there, but they never dig into the mine; if they did they would find it richly stored with silver and gold, and would be abundantly requited for their labors.

What has been said may show us what a precious treasure God has committed into our hands in that he has given us the Bible. How little do most persons consider how much they enjoy in that they have the possession of that holy book the Bible which they have in their hearts and may converse with as they please. What an excellent book is this, and how far exceeding all human writings: that reveals God to us and gives us a view of the grand design and glorious scheme of his providence, from the beginning to the end of the world, either in history or prophecy, that reveals the great Redeemer and his glorious redemption, and the various steps by which God accomplishes it from the first foundation to the topstone. Shall we prize a history that gives us a clear account of some great earthly prince or mighty warrior, as of Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar, or the duke of Marlborough, and shall we not prize the history that God has given us of the glorious kingdom of his son, Jesus Christ, the prince and savior of the world, and the wars and other great transactions of that king of kings and lord of armies, the lord mighty in battle, the history of the things he has wrought for the redemption of his chosen people.

7. What has been said may make us sensible how much most persons are to blame for their inattentive, unobservant way of reading the Scriptures. How much does the Scripture contain if it was but observed the Bible is the most comprehensive book in the world. But what will all this signify to us if we read it without observing what is the drift of the Holy Ghost in it. The psalmist, Psalms 119:18, begs of God, that he would enlighten his eyes that he might “behold wondrous things come of his law.” The Scripture is full of wondrous things. Those histories that are commonly read as if they were only histories of the private concerns of such and such particular persons, such as the histories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and Joseph, and the history of Ruth, and the histories of particular lawgivers and princes, as the history of Joshua and the judges, and David and other Israelitish princes, are accounts of vastly greater things, things of greater importance and more extensive concernment than they that read them are commonly aware of. Scripture histories are very commonly read as if they were stories written only to entertain men’s fancies, and to while away their leisure hours, when the infinitely great things contained or pointed at in them are passed over and never taken notice of.

Whatever treasures the Scriptures contain we shall be never the better for them if we don’t observe what is there. He that has a Bible, and don’t observe what is contained [in] it, is like a man that has a box full of silver and gold, and don’t know it, don’t observe that it is anything more than a vessel filled with common stones. As long as it is thus with him, he’ll be never the better for his treasure. For he that don’t know he has a treasure will never make use of what he had, and so had as good be without it. He that has plenty of the choicest food stored up in his house and don’t know it, will never taste what he has and will be as likely to starve as if his house were empty.

Jonathan Edwards (1703-58), A History of the Work of Redemption, Sermon 13, 290-92.

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The Word is Sterile Unless Spoken

luther-preachesThe Reformation gave centrality to the sermon.  The pulpit was higher than the altar, for Luther held that salvation is through the Word and without the Word the elements are devoid of sacramental quality, but the Word is sterile unless it is spoken.  All of this is not to say that the Reformation invented preaching.  In the century preceding Luther, for the single province of Westphailia ten thousand sermons are in print, and though they are extant only in Latin they were delivered in German.  But the Reformation did exalt the sermon…  The reformers at Wittenberg undertook an extensive campaign of religious instruction through the sermon.  There were three public services on Sunday: from five to six in the morning on the Pauline epistles, from nine to ten on the Gospels, and in the afternoon at a variable hour on a continuation of the theme of the morning or on the catechism.  The church was not locking during the week, but on Mondays and Tuesdays there were sermons on the catechism, Wednesday on the Gospel of Matthew, Thursdays and Fridays on the apostolic letters, and Saturday evening on John’s Gospel.  No one man carried this entire load.  There was a staff of the clergy, but Luther’s share was prodigious.  Including family devotions he spoke often four times on Sundays and quarterly undertook a two-week series four days a week on the catechism.  The sum of his extant sermons is 2,300.  The highest count is for the year 1528, for which there are 195 sermons distributed over 145 days.

His pre-eminence in the pulpit derives in part from the earnestness with which he regarded the preaching office.  The task of the minister is to expound the Word, in which alone are to be found healing for life’s hurts and the balm of eternal blessedness.  The preacher must die daily through concern lest he lead his flock astray.  Sometimes from the pulpit Luther confessed that gladly like the priest and the Levite would he pass by on the other side.  But Luther was constantly repeating to himself the advice which he gave to a discouraged preacher who complained that preaching was a burden, his sermons were always short, and he might better have stayed in his former profession.  Luther said to him:

If Peter and Paul were here, they would scold you because you wish right off to be as accomplished as they.  Crawling is something, even if one is unable to walk.  Do your best.  If you cannot preach an hour, then preach half an hour or a quarter of an hour.  Do not try to imitate other people.  Center on the shortest and simplest points, which are the very heart of the matter, and leave the rest to God.  Look solely to his honor and not to applause.  Pray that God will give you a mouth and to your audience ears.  I can tell you that preaching is not a work of man.  Although I am old [he was forty-eight] and experienced, I am afraid every time I have to preach.  You will most certainly find out three things: first, you will have prepared your sermon as diligently as you know how, and it will slip through your fingers like water; second, you may abandon your outline and God will give you grace.  You will preach your very best.  The audience will be pleased, but you won’t.  And thirdly, when you have been unable in advance to pull anything together, you will preach acceptably both to your hearers and to yourself.  So pray to God and leave all the rest to him.

Roland H. Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther, 272-74 (1995 Meridian ed.).

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The Danger of Serpentine Words

serpent

Yesterday, as I was working through the Good Book Guide “Biblical Manhood” with a friend, we discussed what happened in Genesis 3 in the Fall.  In particular, we began to think about how the serpent (Satan) deceived Eve.  The guide led us to consider how Eve was tempted to think about God’s Word and how we are tempted to heed the same tempting words of the serpent.  After some discussion on our part, we turned to the guide, which summed up Satan’s temptations toward Eve as portraying God’s Word as unclear, untrue, and unfair.

First, the crafty serpent comes to Eve and tempts her to believe that God’s Word is unclear.  He asks “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”  If you have read chapter 2, you know that God did not actually say that, but “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”  Yet, Eve responds not with the clear word of God but with “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.”  Whoa! Hang on a minute Eve, God didn’t say anything about touching it!  Sure it would be wise not to touch it or even go near it but that’s not what God said.  The serpent’s questioning of the clarity of God’s Word brought doubt to the mind of Eve, leading her to add to it and question her own understanding of it.

Next, we see Satan questioning the truthfulness of God’s Word.  After Eve’s first response, the serpent rebuts, “You will not surely die.”  Now we know we are in dangerous waters.  This is clearly not what God has said but Satan has already brought doubt concerning the clarity of God’s Word, so he has an open door to twist it to his own conclusions.  If it appears unclear to her what God has said, why couldn’t the serpent’s interpretation be valid or at least plausible?  But this is not what God has said.  He said if they eat of that one tree they WILL die.  No question. No ambiguous language.  Completely clear and, as they and all of mankind know, completely true, for death is the great leveler of all mankind.

Lastly, the serpent continues on, tempting Eve to believe that God’s Word and, therefore, God Himself is unfair.  After questioning the truthfulness Satan says, “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  He is saying, “God doesn’t want you to eat because He is keeping something from you, something good, something you deserve.”  He questions God’s goodness and His truthfulness.  Yet the great deception here is not from God but from Satan, for Adam and Eve were already like God, made in His image.  His withholding was His protection over them, not an unfair keeping from them.  As their Creator, He knew what what they were created for and the best working out of that purpose, so their was even grace in the command not to eat.  Yet, Eve, turning from God and His Word, with the desire of the flesh (good for food), desire of the eyes (delight to the eyes), and the pride in possessions (desired to make one wise), took, ate, gave, and saw, plunging all of mankind into sin, death, and condemnation and bringing forth a curse upon all creation.

But the story does not end here.  The same temptations that the crafty one brought to Eve are temptations that each of us face.  We are constantly tempted to think of God’s Word as unclear, untrue, or unfair.  When it comes to the temptation to think God’s Word is unclear, we are often like Eve.  We either add to it, thinking we are clarifying  what was said or we doubt whether we can really understand it confidently, both of which are dangerous.  There is no doubt that there are things in God’s Word that are hard to understand, for Scripture declares such about itself but it never says that we won’t be able to understand or be confident in the clarity of it.  When such difficult things arise in the Word, or even at times things that are not so hard, we are tempted to add to it, thinking that we are really explaining more or better, while in reality we are explaining it away, making the divine human, robbing it of its power.  When we don’t agree with others on certain issues, rather than turning to the Word for understanding and correction, we merely claim that its a matter of interpretation or opinion, leading us to conclude that the Word is unclear and our comprehension can never be trusted.  This is a slippery slope that leads to all kinds of doubt and skepticism concerning God’s Word.  If God’s Word is unclear, how can we be sure we understand anything, particularly the essentials (God, man, gospel, salvation, Bible, etc.)?

But the Word of God is clear.  Again, I acknowledge that there are things that are hard to understand (2 Peter 3:16), but that in no ways means it is unclear.  God says His Word makes wise the simple and is pure enlightening the eyes (Ps 19:7-8), gives light and imparts understanding to the simple (Ps 119:130), able to make one wise for salvation and is God-breathed and therefore able to teach, reprove, correct, and train in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:15-17), brings freedom from darkness and sin (John 8:31), renews the mind (Rom. 12:1-2), brings forth faith and new birth by the work of the Spirit, (Rom. 10:17, 1 Peter 1:23), in it we find all we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), and on and on.  If God’s Word is unclear and we cannot stand confidently on it how could the Word accomplish any of those things?  More than that, Scripture is God’s Word – it is His communication to us that we might know Him, love Him, and be reconciled to Him.  Clarity is a must.  Though there will be those who come to differences when seeking to understand the Word, the problem is not with the Bible but shows the presence of the effects of sin on our minds, our own ignorance, assumptions, and attempts to make the infinite finite.  God has been gracious in that, even with these hindrances, He has given us His Spirit in Christ to give us understanding as well as teachers within the church to guide us in the truth and clarity of the Word.

We also face the crafty words of the devil like Eve, tempting us to believe that God’s Word is untrue.  This is extremely deadly.  We are tempted to deny parts that make us uncomfortable whether it concerns who God is and what He has done or whether is concerns who we are, what’s wrong with us, and what we need.  Any denial of its truthfulness leads to death, as seen with Adam and Eve.  It doesn’t matter if you understand it when determining its truthfulness.  It is only by faith that we can understand it (Heb. 11:3).  We are finite, fallen creatures holding before us the pure and authoritative words of God.  Who are we to question, criticize, or deny His Truth?  He spoke and it was!  His Word is unfading, imperishable, unchanging, truth for He is Truth.  The truthfulness of God’s Word flows from His character, for He is a “God, who never lies” (Titus 1:2), and “cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13).  “Every word of God proves true” (Prov 30:5; Ps 12;6, 119:42; John 17:17).  Leading from the question of the Word’s clarity, to deny it is to deny its truthfulness, for as shown, it declares itself to be clear and true.

Finally, we are tempted to question the fairness of God’s Word.  Whether it be a concern for the justice of a situation (e.g. destruction of whole cities or God’s choosing of Israel) or commands exhorting right action or prohibiting desirable actions/things (e.g. roles of men and women or lust), we can be easily tempted to think God is unfair and therefore not good for withholding what we think we should have or not doing what we think He should do.  Rereading that sentence may reveal the problem.  Who is the determining factor on what is right, just, or fair?  We are not the determining factor, nor are our conceptions of what is right, just, or fair, but God is – His person and His character determine what is right, just, and fair, which He shows forth in His actions.  Don’t think something God did is just?  Time to adjust your concept of justice to His.  Don’t think something He says or did is right or fair?  Time to adjust your understanding of what’s right and wrong to Him.

Fairness is not a biblical concept but justice and righteousness characterize God and are to characterize His people.  If we want to demand the justice and righteousness of God under the guise of fairness, we need to understand that we are calling down wrath on all of us.  As sinners before a holy and righteous God, all anyone deserves is wrath nothing more.  Want to talk of entitlement?  Before God, in your sin, you are only entitled to wrath.  But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love for us shown in Christ, has reconciled us to Himself through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.  It is by Him and through Him that we are made new, given eyes to see, ears to hears, and minds renewed that we may stand confidently by the Spirit on the clarity, truthfulness, and justice of God’s Word.

Do not heed the deadly words of the serpent but cling to the living Word of God.

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The Word Become Flesh: The Secret of the Psalter

psalmsThe Psalter occupies a unique place in all the Holy Scriptures. It is God’s Word, and with few exceptions it is at the same time the prayer of human beings.  How are we to understand this?  How can God’s Word be at the same time prayer to God?  This question is followed by an observation made by all who begin to pray the Psalms.  First, they try to repeat the Psalms personally as their own prayer.  But soon they come across passages that they feel they cannot pray as their own personal prayers.  We remember, for example, the psalms of innocence, the psalms of vengeance, and also, in part, the psalms of suffering.  Nevertheless, these prayers are words of the Holy Scriptures that believing Christians cannot simply dismiss as obsolete and antiquated.  Thus they do not desire to gain control over the word of Scripture, and yet they realize that they cannot pray these words.  They can read them as the prayer of another person, wonder about them, be offended by them, but they can neither pray them themselves nor expunge them from the Holy Scriptures…. [T]his difficulty actually indicates the point at which we may get our first glimpse of the secret of the Psalter.  The psalms that will not cross our lips as prayers, those that make us falter and offend us, make us suspect that here someone else is praying, not we – that the one who is here affirming his innocence, who is calling God’s judgment, who has come to such infinite depths of suffering, is none other than Jesus Christ himself.  It is he who is praying here, and not only here, but in the whole Psalter.  The New Testament and the church have always recognized and testified to his truth.  The human Jesus Christ to whom no affliction, no illness, no suffering is unknown, and who yet was the wholly innocent and righteous one, is praying in the Psalter through the mouth of his congregation.  The Psalter is the prayer book of Jesus in the truest sense of the word.  He prayed the Psalter, and now it has become his prayer for all time.  Can we now comprehend how the Psalter is capable of being simultaneously prayer to God and yet God’s own Word, precisely because the praying Christ encounters us here?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-45), Life Together, 53-55.

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The Song of Creation

NARNIA Magician's Nephew

In the darkness something was happening at last. A voice had begun to sing. It was very far away and Digory found it hard to decide from what direction it was coming. Sometimes it seemed to come from all directions at once. Sometimes he almost thought it was coming out of the earth beneath them. Its lower notes were deep enough to be the voice of the earth herself. There were no words. There was hardly even a tune. But it was, beyond comparison, the most beautiful noise he had ever heard. It was so beautiful he could hardly bear it. The horse seemed to like it too; he gave the sort of whinney a horse would give if, after years of being a cab-horse, it found itself back in the old field where it had played as a foal, and saw someone whom it remembered and loved coming across the field to bring it a lump of sugar.

“Gawd!” said the Cabby. “Ain’t it lovely?”

Then two wonders happened at the same moment. One was that the voice was suddenly joined by other voices; more voices than you could possibly count. They were in harmony with it, but far higher up the scale: cold, tingling, silvery voices. The second wonder was that the blackness overhead, all at once, was blazing with stars. They didn’t come out gently one by one, as they do on a summer evening. One moment there had been nothing but darkness; next moment a thousand, thousand points of light leaped out – single stars, constellations, and planets, brighter and bigger than any in our world. There were no clouds. The new stars and the new voices began at exactly the same time. If you had seen and heard it, as Digory did, you would have felt quite certain that it was the stars themselves which were singing, and that it was the First Voice, the deep one, which had made them appear and made them sing.

“Glory be!” said the Cabby. “I’d ha’ been a better man all my life if I’d known there were things like this.”

The Voice on the earth was now louder and more triumphant; but the voices in the sky, after singing loudly with it for a time, began to get fainter. And now something else was happening.

Far away, and down near the horizon, the sky began to turn grey. A light wind, very fresh, began to stir. The sky, in that one place, grew slowly and steadily paler. You could see shapes of hills standing up dark against it. All the time the Voice went on singing…

The eastern sky changed from white to pink and from pink to gold. The Voice rose and rose, till all the air was shaking with it. And just as it swelled to the mightiest and most glorious sound it had yet produced, the sun arose.

Digory had never seen such a sun. The sun above the ruins of Charn had looked older than ours: this looked younger. You could imagine that it laughed for joy as it came up. And as its beams shot across the land the travellers could see for the first time what sort of place they were in. It was a valley through which a broad, swift river wound its way, flowing eastward towards the sun. Southward there were mountains, northward there were lower hills. But it was a valley of mere earth, rock and water; there was not a tree, not a bush, not a blade of grass to be seen.

The earth was of many colours: they were fresh, hot and vivid. They made you feel excited; until you saw the Singer himself, and then you forgot everything else.

It was a Lion. Huge, shaggy, and bright, it stood facing the risen sun. Its mouth was wide open in song and it was about three hundred yards away…

C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician’s Nephew61-3.

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