I never cease to be amazed at the love, patience, forbearance and longsuffering of God toward His error-prone people. The endearing term He used in reference to them in Deuteronomy 32:9 and 10 is beautiful and touching and could only come from the heart of an Infinite God. "For the Lord's portion is His people; Jacob is the lot of His inheritance. He found him in a desert land, and in the waste, howling wilderness; He led him about, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye."
What does it mean to be kept as the apple of the eye of God? I looked up the expression, 'apple of the eye' in a Bible dictionary to see if I could get a deeper understanding of what this meant. This is what the dictionary says: "In the expression 'apple of the eye,' apple refers to the pupil or the eyeball. 'Ishon', 'little man,' probably refers to the tiny image a man sees of himself in the pupil of another person's eye."
I couldn't help but remember a beautiful quotation from the Book Christ's Object Lessons that says Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His people. Jesus wants His people to reflect His image, His character fully in their lives. He wants them to be like Him. When He looks at us, He wants to see the 'little man', Himself, in the pupils of our eyes and to show in our daily lives that we have manifested Christlikeness in everything we do.
What a challenge we have, and what a loving God we serve! "He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye." "God went through the proud land of Egypt as He will go through the earth in the last days. With fire and tempest, earthquake and death, the great I AM redeemed His people. He took them out of the land of bondage. He led them through the 'great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought' (Deut. 8:15). He brought them forth water out of 'the rock of flint,' and fed them with 'the corn of heaven' (Ps. 78:24). 'For,' said Moses, 'the Lord's portion is his people: Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: so the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him' (Deut. 32:9-12). Thus He brought them unto Himself, that they might dwell as under the shadow of the Most High." --Conflict and Courage, page 90.
Of the dealing of God with Israel during the forty years of wilderness wandering, Moses declared: "As a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee;" "to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep His commandments, or no." Deuteronomy 8:5, 2. --Education, page 39, 40.
He remembered His holy promise, and Abraham His servant. And He brought forth His people with joy, and His chosen with gladness: and gave them the lands of the heathen: and they inherited the labor of the people; that they might observe His statutes, and keep His laws. Psalm 105:42-45. -- Education, page 40.
God wants us to look like Him in character, and He provides the means by which we can become transformed into His image. He gave us His Words consisting of statutes, laws and judgments. In Proverbs 7:2 we read: "Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye." We are to love His Words, His Law, as the apple of our eye. "For this is the love of God that we keep His commandments for His commandments are not grievous." 1 John 5:3. "I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart." Psalm 40:8.
In the book, In Heavenly Places, page 254, we find these words: "It was the highest exaltation of Christ to obey His Father and keep His law as the apple of His eye. Let it have this effect upon our characters... Let us exalt Jesus. Let us give Him our hearts' best service, and He will say, I will confess you before My Father, and before His angels.
Then in Psalm 17:8, we find the Psalmist imploring God to "keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings, from the wicked that oppress me, from my deadly enemies, who compass me about."
God will keep His people and watch over them. He has promised never to leave or forsake them. "Zion said, Jehovah hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands." [ISA. 49:14-16.] The Lord of hosts has said, "He that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of his eye." [ZECH. 2:8.] --The Great Controversy 1888 ed, page 626
Will the Lord forget His people...? Did He forget faithful Noah when judgments were visited upon the antediluvian world? Did He forget Lot when the fire came down from heaven to consume the cities of the plain? Did He forget Joseph surrounded by idolaters in Egypt? Did He forget Elijah when the oath of Jezebel threatened him with the fate of the prophets of Baal? Did He forget Jeremiah in the dark and dismal pit of his prison house? Did He forget the three worthies in the fiery furnace? or Daniel in the den of lions?...--Lift Him Up, page 374. He didn't forget His people, did He? And He will not forget His people today.
Though enemies may thrust them into prison, yet dungeon walls cannot cut off the communication between their souls and Christ. One who sees their every weakness, who is acquainted with every trial, is above all earthly powers; and angels will come to them in lonely cells, bringing light and peace from heaven. The prison will be as a palace; for the rich in faith dwell there, and the gloomy walls will be lighted up with heavenly light as when Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises at midnight in the Philippian dungeon (The Great Controversy, pp. 626, 627). --Lift Him Up, page 374.
God's church is the apple of His eye. The church of Christ, enfeebled and defective as it may be, is the only object on earth on which He bestows His supreme regard. . . . The Lord has a people, a chosen people, His church, to be His own, His own fortress, which He holds in a sin-stricken, revolted world. --In Heavenly Places, page 284.
The church is the property of God, and God constantly remembers her as she stands in the world, subject to the temptations of Satan. Christ has never forgotten the days of His humiliation. In passing from the scenes of His humiliation, Jesus has lost none of His humanity. He has the same tender, pitying love, and is ever touched with human woe. He ever bears in mind that He was a Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief. He forgets not His representative people who are striving to uphold His downtrodden law. He knows that the world that hated Him, hates them. Although Jesus Christ has passed into the heavens, there is still a living chain binding His believing ones to His own heart of infinite love. The most lowly and weak are bound by a chain of sympathy closely to His heart. He never forgets that He is our representative, that He bears our nature. --In Heavenly Places, page 284.
Jesus sees His true church on the earth, whose greatest ambition is to cooperate with Him in the grand work of saving souls. He hears their prayers, presented in contrition and power, and Omnipotence cannot resist their plea for the salvation of any tried, tempted member of Christ's body... Jesus ever liveth to make intercession for us. Through our Redeemer what blessings may not the true believer receive? The church, soon to enter upon her most severe conflict, will be the object most dear to God upon earth. In Heavenly Places, page 284.
The confederacy of evil will be stirred with power from beneath, and Satan will cast all the reproach possible upon the chosen ones whom he cannot deceive and delude with his satanic inventions and falsehoods. But exalted "to be a Prince and a Saviour, ..." (Acts 5:31), will Christ, our representative and head, close His heart, or withdraw His hand, or falsify His promise? No; never, never. --In Heavenly Places, page 284.
By contemplation of God's matchless love, we take upon us His nature. Christ was a representative before men and before angels, of the character of the God of heaven. He demonstrated the fact that when humanity depends wholly upon God, men may keep God's commandments and live, and His law be as the apple of the eye. --Testimonies to Ministers, page 226.
If we place ourselves on the side of God, of Christ and the heavenly intelligences, the broad shield of Omnipotence is over us, the mighty God of Israel is our helper, and we need not fear. Those who touch the people of God, touch the apple of his eye.
In Jesus we have an enduring, unchanging Friend; and though all worldly prospects fail, and every earthly friend prove unfaithful and treacherous, yet He is faithful still. His servants are as dear to Him as the apple of the eye. In trial, in want, in perplexity and distress, we are not alone; at every step, in tones of assurance, He bids you, "Follow Me, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." But this blessed assurance is given only on condition of your obedience and faithfulness to Him.
We are preparing to enter the holy city. Keep this thought in mind all the time. There is a heaven of bliss before us... And there is a joy that we may have in Christ, even in this world. To those who keep His commandments He says, "My joy shall be in you, and your joy shall be full." "Keep His commandments and live, and His law as the apple of thine eye. --Proverbs 7:2." When we are faithful and loyal to Him, He will keep us as the apple of His eye.