And a long time it took. That it took so long, measured by the calendar, suggests how great was the resistance to be overcome. A long round-about road it does seem that God took. Yet it was the shortest. The circle route is always the shortest. It is nature's way. Nature always follows the line of least resistance. The eagle, descending, comes in circles, the line of least resistance. Water running out of a bowl through the hole in the bottom follows the circuitous route -- the easiest.
God's longest way around was the shortest way into man's heart. Standards had to be changed. New standards made. Yet in making a standard there must be a starting point. God's bother was to get a starting point. When man was too impure in his ingrained ideas to receive any idea of what purity meant, things were in bad shape. When he was grubbing content in the gutter, how was he ever to be gotten up to the highlands, when you couldn't even lift his eyes over the curbstone? All the prohibitions of the Mosaic code are but faithful mirrors of man's condition. A wholly new standard had to be set up. That was God's task. It must be set up through men if they were to be attracted to it. So God started on His longest-way-around-shortest road into man's heart.
A man is chosen. Through this man, by the slow processes of generations, a nation is grown. Yet a nation only in numbers at first; in no other sense; a mob of men. Then this mob is worked upon. They are led through experiences that will make them soft to new impressions. Then slowly, laboriously, by child-training methods, the new standard is brought to them. Yet after centuries the best attained is only that their tenacious fingers have hold of a form, not yet the spirit. Yet this is an immense gain.
By and by this is the pedigree: A man, a family, tribes, a nation, a strong nation, a broken nation, a literature, ragged remnants of a nation, an ideal the like of which could not be found anywhere on earth, and a book embodying that ideal written as with acid-point in metal, as with sharpest chisel in hardest stone.
At last a start was made. God had gotten a hook inside man's will to which He could tie His tether, and draw, lovingly, tenderly, tenaciously, persistently, draw up out of the mire, toward the highlands, toward Himself.