Sermon 2583. Rain and Grace-a Parallel
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, AUGUST 14, 1898.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING, APRIL 5, 1883.
"Who has divided a channel for the overflowing water, or a path for the thunderbolt, to cause it to rain on the earth, wherethere is no one; on the wilderness, wherein there is no man; to satisfy the desolate and waste ground; and to cause the budof the tender herb to spring forth?" Job 38:25-27.
JOB was an admirable man, but the Lord meant to make him still better. The best of men are but men at the best and thoughJob was, in a certain sense, perfect, yet he was not perfectly perfect-there was a further stage beyond that which he hadreached, otherwise he would not have been tried as he was. But because the Lord knew that there was something better for Jobthan he had already attained, he had to be subjected to extraordinary trial. He was such a valuable diamond that there hadto be more cutting for him than for a common stone. He was made of such good metal that he paid for being put into the furnace-therewould come out something still more pleasing to the great Refiner if He cast that which was so precious into the most ferventheat. Hence it was that Job was so greatly tried. Yet, after all his trials, it seemed as if he would miss their blessed result,for his three friends-the miserable comforters-appeared to be the meddlers in the whole design. By their cruel, cutting, sarcasticobservations, they irritated Job so that it looked as if he would be harder instead of softer because of the fires.
Sometimes, when a man knows that he is being unjustly and unfairly treated, he stiffens his back, hardens himself and influenceswhich, by themselves, might have worked great tenderness of spirit, are spoiled because something else is thrown in. Job wasin this condition and he, therefore, seemed to rise in his own estimation rather than to sink, as was desired, until, at last,the Lord ended the dispute by manifesting Himself. Out of the whirlwind He spoke to Job and bade him gird up his loins andmeet his Maker if he dared. Then it was that Job was brought to his right position and, at the end, he said, "I have heardof You by the hearing of the ear: but now my eyes see You. Therefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes." Then Jobrealized the benefit of his affliction-but not till then. When the Lord revealed to Job His supremacy, His eternal Glory,and in that light compelled him to see his own imperfection and nothingness-then the Patriarch's trials became sanctifiedto him.
Our text is a part of God's challenge to Job. The Lord seemed to say, "If Job is, indeed, half as great as he thinks he is,let him see whether he can do what his Creator does." He is challenged about so slight a matter, apparently, as the sendingof the rain. Does Job know how it is done? Can he explain all the phenomena? Our modern scientists tell us how rain is producedand I suppose their explanation is the correct one, but they cannot tell us how it is that power is given to carry out whatthey call, "the laws of Nature." Neither can they make the rain, themselves, nor, if a drought were to continue till the nationwas on the verge of famine, would they be able to cover the skies with blackness, or even to water a single acre of land!No, with all our explanations, it is still a great mystery-and it remains a secret with God how it is that He waters the earthwith rain.
I am not going into that matter at this time. I intend to use the rain as an emblem of the Grace of God, as it usually isin Scripture-a figure of that blessed overflowing of the river of God's Love which comes down to quench our thirst of sin,to refresh us, to enliven us, to feed us, to soften us and to cleanse us. This matchless water of life has all sorts of usesand God sends it, when He pleases, in abundant showers upon His own people according to that ancient Word of God, "You, OGod, did send a plentiful rain whereby You did confirm Your inheritance, when it was weary." The Hebrew means, "You did pourout blessings," as from a cornucopia, and so, "You did confirm Your inheritance, when it was weary." There are many here whoare weary-they need to be refreshed and they are praying to God to send a gracious shower, a copious distilling of His matchlessGrace upon their hearts and lives. I am going to preach upon this passage with the desire that while I am speaking, such ablessing may come upon us, or that, at any rate, we may begin to pray for it.
I. My first point is that, AS GOD ALONE GIVES RAIN, SO GOD ALONE GIVES GRACE.
Jehovah asks of Job the question, "Who has divided a channel for the overflowing water, or a path for the thunderbolt, tocause it to rain on the earth?" It is God, and God only, who creates rain. We cannot make it, but He can and He does giveit. And it is absolutely so with His Grace-The Lord must give it, or there will be none. If it had not been for His eternalplan whereby He purposed to give Grace to the guilty, the whole race of mankind would have been left, like the fallen angels,without hope and without mercy! The angels that kept not their first estate, but rebelled against God, were given over topunishment without any intimation whatever of redemption for them-or of any possibility of their restoration. God, who doesas He wills with His Grace which is most sovereign and free, passed over the fallen angels and made His Grace to light oninsignificant and guilty men. And it has been after the same fashion in all history-if God has withheld the blessings of HisGrace from any of the nations, they have not been able to procure them for themselves.
One lone light burned in Israel for hundreds of years while the rest of the inhabitants of the earth were left in darkness.And the world, with all its wisdom, could not and did not find God. Men, in their ignorance, set up idols almost as numerousas their worshippers-and in their blindness they went this way and that way, but always away from God. "Every good gift andevery perfect gift is from above, and comes down from he Father of Lights"-as certainly as the rain comes down from Heaven!There is but one source of supply for Grace and that source is God Himself. He gives Grace and, "He gives more Grace." otherwisethere would be none whatever among the sons of men!
And, moreover, it is God who finds the way by which His Grace can come to men. I will not enter into any elaborate explanationsof my text. It indicates that God finds a way by which the rain comes down from the upper regions to water the thirsty fields."Who has divided a channel for the overflowing water?" Only God Himself has made a channel for the rain-we could not havemade it. So is it with His Grace, otherwise how could Grace have come to man? How was it possible for the thrice-holy Godto deal leniently with sinners who had provoked Him to anger? How could it be that the Judge of all the earth, who must bejust, should, nevertheless, pass by transgression, iniquity and sin? This is a problem which would have perplexed a Sanhedrimof seraphim! If all the mightiest intelligences that God has ever made had sat together in solemn conclave for a thousandyears, they would not have been able to solve this problem-How can God be just and yet the Justifier of the ungodly? InfiniteWisdom devised that matchless way of substitution by which, through the death of the Son of God, men might be saved! Thereis the stamp of Divinity about that verse, "the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed."
It is God who gives Grace and God who, in a Divinely gracious way, has given His only-begotten and well-beloved Son to bethe channel through which Grace can come down to guilty men! Blessed be God for this and let His name be adored forever! Havingthus resolved upon giving Grace to men and having made a channel in which His Grace might flow to men, let it never be forgottenthat God now directs the pathway of all the Grace that comes into the world. Our parallel, in the natural world, is that,according to the original of our text, there is a sort of canal, or path, made for every drop of water as it descends fromthe heavens to the earth. There is not the most minute particle of rain that is left to fall according to its own fancy orwill-each single drop of water that is blown aslant by the March wind, is as surely steered by God as are yonder gloriousstars revolving in their orbits! There is a purpose of God concerning every solitary flake of snow and every single portionof hail that comes down from Heaven-all these are ordered according to His eternal counsel and will. God alone can arrangeall this.
It always seems to me to be a very wonderful way in which the world is watered. If all the rain were to pour upon us at oncein a deluge, we should all be drowned-but it comes down gently, drop by drop, and thus it effects God's purpose much moresurely than if it burst in one tremendous waterspout destroying everything. God, by the mysterious laws by which He governsinanimate matter, has so planned it that the rain shall come in drops exactly the right size, such drops as shall hang upona tiny blade of grass and scarcely shall bend it. See how the bright drops, like so many diamonds, hang in myriads on thehedgerows just the right size to hang there-neither too large nor too little. So is it with the Grace of God-it is given sovereignlyand wisely.
I daresay some Christian people think that they would like to have, in their first five minutes after believing in Christ,all the Grace they will ever have-but it cannot be. I have often admired that expression of the Apostle Paul, "In whom wehave redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His Grace; wherein He has aboundedtoward us in all wisdom and prudence." God teaches us His will, but He does not teach us too much at a time. Have you everseen children who have been in school, so hardly driven by their masters that they have been mentally crippled and have nevermade the advance they ought to have made because they were driven too hard at the first? I have met with this sort of thing,spiritually. In several cases I have known, men and women have learned so much of the things of God in a short time that theirreason has been most seriously jeopardized. I often have to look at young converts and almost to pray that they might notlearn too much at once, for the deep things of God are so amazing to a man who is just plucked out of the world that if thecases of insanity through religion were much more frequent than they are, I should not at all be astonished! I wonder howany of us can bear what God has taught us already. If you could give eyesight to a man born blind and then, in a moment, wereto place him in the full blaze of the sun, it would be a serious danger to him. If he has been long in the darkness, he mustsee the light by degrees. In like manner, we ought to thank God that He does not deluge us all at once with all the Gracewe shall ever have, but He gives it to us gently, as soft vernal showers which, in Infinite Wisdom, distil upon the thirstyearth.
So we have seen that God gives Grace and God finds a way of giving Grace. And then God directs the way of His Grace and themeasure and the manner of it. And He does it all in wisdom and prudence.
See, then, my dear Friends-I hope you all do-our absolute dependence upon God for all spiritual blessings. A farmer may doall he likes with his ground, but he will never have a harvest if God withholds the rain. He may be the most skillful agriculturistwho ever lived, but he can do nothing if the heavens above him are as brass. If he were to call in the most learned astronomerof the day, there is not one who, with his wand, could move the stars, or cause the clouds to open and pour down rain uponthe earth. If there were sore trouble in the land because farming was failing for lack of rain, if both Houses of Parliamentwere to be called together and the Queen were to sit upon her throne of state-and they were unanimously to pass an act orderingthe rain to fall-He that sits in the heavens would laugh! The Lord would have them in derision, for the key of the rain isin no hand but that of Jehovah. It is exactly so with the Grace of God. You and I cannot command it. The presence of the mostholy men in our midst would not, of itself, bring it. The most earnest preaching, the most Scriptural doctrine, the most faithfulobedience to ordinances would not make it necessary that we should receive Grace. God must give it-He is an absolute Sovereignand we are entirely dependent upon Him.
To what does this fact drive us? It drives us to prayer. When we have done all that we can-and surely we can scarcely prayif we have neglected anything that we can do-when we have done all that lies within our power as earnest-hearted Christianworkers, then we must come to the Lord, Himself, for strength, and unto the God of our salvation for all power. This has beensaid so many times that when I say it, again, someone may reply, "That is a mere platitude." Just so-and the mischief is thatthe Church is beginning to think it is only a platitude-but if we all felt that the most important thing for the Church ofChrist to do, after she has borne her testimony to the world, is to pray, what a different state of things there would soonbe! But now you know what they are doing in far too many places-they push the Prayer Meeting up into a corner and if thereis anything to be put off, they give up the Prayer Meeting! In some of our places of worship, we might search a long timefor the Prayer Meeting. It is somewhere in the back settlements, down in some small room which is too big for it even then!People plead that they cannot get out to the Prayer Meeting-they will go out to a lecture or to spend the evening for pleasure-butthey do not care to go out when it is "only a Prayer Meeting."
Just so and as long as that is the estimation in which professing Christians hold it, so long must we cease to expect showersof blessing from on high! The main thing is for the Church to pray! She knows that she is dependent upon her God-let her showit by crying day and night to Him that He would send a blessing. There is a big mill with all its spindles and all its workers.I think I see it as we speed along in the train through one of our Northern counties. It is all lit up, tonight, and manybusy hands are at work. But where is the power that makes those spindles move? In that little shed outside, where there isa man with black hands, stirring the fire, and keeping up the pressure of steam. That is where the power is! And that is apicture of the Prayer Meeting. It is the source of the Church's energy and if public prayer is neglected, or if private prayeris slackened, or if family prayer is held back in any degree, we lose the power which brings the blessing-this will be acknowledgedwhen we come to truly know that all the power is of God and that as we cannot command a drop of rain, but must leave it inthe hands of God, so we cannot command an ounce of Grace-if Grace is to be so measured-it must come from God, and from Godalone.
II. Now, secondly, dear Friends, notice in my text that, AS GOD GIVES RAIN, SO RAIN FALLS IRRESPECTIVE OF MEN. "Who has divideda channel for the overflowing water, or a path for the thunderbolt; to cause it to rain on the earth, where there is no one;on the wilderness, wherein there is no man?"
I daresay you have often thought it strange that it should rain out at sea where it cannot water a single furrow, or apparentlybenefit any human being. Is it not still more strange that the water should fall so abundantly on vast tracts of sand andon plains that as yet have never been trod by the foot of man, and on those lofty peaks, those virgin hills where a humanbeing has never yet been found? Men have a notion that nothing is good for anything if it is not good for them, but they arevery foolish for thinking so. If what God does in Providence is good for nothing but for a rat, it is not unwise for Him todo it! He has other creatures to think of beside men and He thinks of them. The little fish in the sea and the birds of theair-and even the worms in the earth are remembered by the Most High and, sometimes, that weather which we say is so bad isonly bad because it is bad for us-rebels against God. It may have been given especially for the birds and, perhaps, sometimes,God thinks that it is better to have weather that is good for birds than good for men, for He has to provide for us all andthey, at least, have not sinned. And if He thinks of them, there is as much of mercy in the thought as when He thinks of usrebellious creatures. He makes it "to rain on the earth, where there is no one."
Now the parallel in Grace is this-that God's Grace will come without any human observation. If the Grace of God comes to someof us, thousands will see it, for they will mark the working of His Grace in our life and conversation. But there sits a dearfriend, over yonder, so obscure that possibly only two or three will ever know anything that she does. Perhaps, my Brother,only half-a-dozen are affected by your influence. Do you not rejoice that God, who makes the rain to fall where there is noone, will make His Grace to come to you, though nobody, or, at most, only two or three, may see it? I have delighted sometimesto wander into the middle of a forest and get far away from all sound of the voices of fallen men-and then to spy out somelittle flower growing right among the big trees. The sun gets at it, somehow, for a few hours in the day, and in its goldenbeams that little flower rejoices. And as I have looked at it and seen its beauty, I have remembered the words of the poet-
"Full many a flower is born to blush unseen," but I have not at all agreed with him when he added-
"And waste its sweetness on the desert air."
It is God's flower! God made it grow that He might look at it, Himself, and, therefore, its sweetness was not wasted, forGod was there to appreciate and accept it! The most beautiful places in the world are, doubtless, places where men have neverbeen. The most lovely gardens are those that God, Himself, keeps, where no Adam has been placed to till the soil. His trees,untouched by the axe, and unpruned by the knife, grow gloriously-"The trees of the Lord are full of sap. The cedars of Lebanonwhich He has planted." My heart has rejoiced as I have thought of God walking among the great trees of the far-off West-thosemighty monarchs of the forest that seem to touch the stars-walking among them when nobody was there but Himself, looking atthe works of His own hands and admiring what He had made. Well, now, if you happen to be a solitary person, quite alone, onewho will never make a noise in the world for all that God does for you, never mind about that-He causes it to rain on theearth where there is no one-and your obscurity shall not keep back the blessing!
So, you see, rain comes without human observation. And it also comes without human co-operation, for it often rains "wherethere is no one." Therefore, no man helps God to send the rain. As to Grace, it, also, often comes where there is no man tobring it. When a person has not heard a sermon, when he has been on the sea, far away from all means of Grace, yet God hascaused it to rain upon him. There is here, tonight, I think, a Brother who left this country unimpressed by the Gospel, who,nevertheless, when near the shores of Australia, sat down and read a sermon which his wife had put into his box-and God metwith him there! The Lord has many ways of proving that His Grace descends upon men without any help from them-and that Hecan send it where He pleases by ways of His own. If the ordinary means should seem to fail, He can cause it to rain "wherethere is no one."
Perhaps there is somebody here who is going right away from the usual means of Grace. Possibly, dear Friend, you are frettingto yourself as you think, "I shall never come to this place of worship again. Perhaps I may never hear the Gospel to my soul'scomfort again." Suppose you are right away in the bush of Australia? God can send His Grace to you, there, just as easilyas He can send it here! If you are going to the backwoods of America or Canada, do not be afraid-the Lord is at home there.If you have to settle down in a log hut and are miles from any meeting of Christian people-do not be dispirited or cast down,but, in your loneliness, sit and sing and let this be a part of your song, "He makes a way for the overflowing water, to causeit to rain on the earth, where there is no one; on the wilderness, wherein there is no man." Therefore be encouraged by thissecond thought.
III. I had many other things to say to you upon this point, but time fails, so I must notice, thirdly, that BOTH RAIN ANDGRACE FALL WHERE WE MIGHT LEAST HAVE EXPECTED THEM. "To satisfy the desolate and waste ground."
Grace comes where there was no Grace before. Where all was desert and waste, there comes the rain. And where all was gracelessand godless, there comes the Grace of God. Grace comes where there is the greatest need of it Here was a dreadful place-itwas waste-it was a wilderness yet the rain came there. And where there are men who feel themselves to be just as dead andbarren as a desert, Grace will come even there! The rain comes to wildernesses and Grace can come to you, poor guilty Sinners!If you have nothing with which to entertain the Grace, Grace will bring its own company with it. It will come into your emptyheart and make you one of the "people prepared for the Lord." Grace waits not for men, neither tarries for the sins of men.We call it Prevenient Grace because it comes before it is sought-and God bestows it on a people who are utterly undeservingof it.
Grace comes where, apparently, there is nothing to repay it for coming. When the rain falls on the wilderness, it seems asif no result could follow from its fall. What a mercy it is that when we have nothing to pay, God lavishes His mercy on usand, in due time, we repay Him in the way He expects. I do not suppose that many of you have ever seen the great steppes ofRussia. I have been told that for thousands of miles they are like our London streets, without a single blade of anythinggreen-a horrible desolation! Yet after the snow has gone and springtime comes in and summer, with its wonderful heat, thatplain is covered with grass and with abundant flowers of the field. And the grass continues until it is cut for use-and thenthe land returns to that same barren appearance which it wore before. It is amazing, is it not, that showers of rain and thewarmth of the sun should produce vegetation where, apparently, there seemed to be none whatever?
Just so does the Grace of God come to a sinner's heart! It is all hard, dead, black, hopeless. But when the Grace comes, itbrings life with it and suddenly there spring up in the man all manner of good works, holy words, gracious thoughts and everythingthat is sweet and pleasing in the sight of God! And what is best of all, it continues to produce a harvest that never driesup and the soil never returns to its former barrenness again! Therefore, Beloved, let us take heart concerning the Grace ofGod. If the rain comes where there seems to be no argument in favor of its coming, so may the Grace of God come to you whohave no right to it-no expectation of it-no hope of it-no, are even filled with despair concerning it! While you are sittinghere, the Lord can meet with you and save you! Be of good comfort-to you is the Gospel sent, saying, "Believe on the LordJesus Christ and you shall be saved." Trust your guilty soul with Him and you, even you, shall receive the showers of lovethat come from God's right hand! There is nothing in the Covenant of Grace that shall be held back from you-even though youare the very worst and vilest one in this place-if you only trust the Savior. Though you may write yourself down as most surelylost and given up to barrenness, like the heath that is near unto burning, yet it shall not be so with you-God shall blessyou and that right early.
"Oh, if He does!" says one, "I will bless His name." Then that is one reason why He will do it, that you may bless His name.I have often told you of one who said, "If God saves me, He shall never hear the last of it." Well, that is the sort of peopleHe likes to save-people who, with glad heart and voice, will proclaim and proclaim again, and proclaim to all eternity thatthe Lord saved them-even them! Remember the text of last Sunday night, for it is just in the same key as the text of tonight-"Hehas filled the hungry with good things; and the rich He has sent away empty." [See Sermon #2582, Volume 44-Alto and Bass]He has caused it
"to rain on the earth where there is no one; on the wilderness, wherein there is no man; to satisfy the desolate and wasteground," for it is to these waste grounds, these desolate places, that God specially looks with favor. If you are great inyour own esteem, He will make you little. But if you are little, He will make you great. If you live by your own power, youshall be slain. But if you are slain and dead beyond hope of recovery in yourself, you shall be made alive! You empty onesshall be filled and you filled ones shall be emptied. You that are up shall be down-and you that are down shall be liftedup, for God turns things upside down. And when He comes to work, He effects marvelous changes in the condition of the heartsof men.
IV. Now I close by noticing, in the fourth place, that RAIN, WHEN IT COMES, IS MOST VALUED BY LIFE, for we read in our text,that it comes "to cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth."
You may water a dead post as long as you like, yet nothing will come of it. But the most tender, tiniest little herb thathas a bud fast shut, knows when the rain comes and begins to develop its hidden power-and opens its bud to the rain and tothe sun! That is why the Grace of God comes, "to cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth." I hope that there is agood deal of budding life here. The Lord has looked upon you and has made you feel uneasy-that is a bud. Oh, that the uneasinessmight open into full repentance! The Lord has looked upon you and He has given you desires. Oh, that the Grace of God mayincrease those desires till they shall open into resolution and determination! The Lord has sent the dew from on high uponyour soul, dear Friend, and you are beginning to hope that there is salvation somewhere and, perhaps, for you. Oh, that thehope may open, like a bud that has been shut up-open into faith in Jesus Christ, so that you shall say, "I will trust in Him."All the buds everywhere are just now trying to get out into the sunshine. They seem bound up in gummy envelopes, but theyare beginning to open in the sunshine. I like to sit under the fir trees and hear the crack of the opening caused by the heatof the sun. You can almost see the trees rejoicing that summertime is coming! So may you see young converts open when theGrace of God is displayed abundantly-they grow before your very eyes till, sometimes, you are astonished at what the Graceof God does, with wise prudence, but yet with a sweet readiness, upon the hearts of the sons of men!
How far have your buds developed? Have you begun to pray a little? Oh, that your prayer might be more intense! I hope thatlittle bud of private prayer will grow till it comes to family prayer so that you can pray with your wife and children. Youhave been reading your Bible lately, have you? Oh, thank God for that! Now I hope that bud of Bible reading will open intothe daily habit of feeding upon the Word of God. Go right through the Bible if you can. Pray to God to give you a solid knowledgeof its contents that you may be rooted and grounded in what His Spirit teaches you there. Some of you have another sort ofbud-you have been thinking of what you can do for Christ. You thought you were converted, but you have never done much forChrist. I do not use any whips, but sometimes I am tempted to take a good long one to some of those lazy folk who do nothingand yet hope to go to Heaven. One says, "I think, my dear Pastor, that I must try to do something for Christ." Well, thatis a bud-may the Grace of God be so abundant that you will leave off trying and get actually to doing!
"How am I to serve God?" said one to me the other day. I answered, "My dear Brother, get at it. 'Whatever your hand findsto do, do it with all your might.' Don't come and ask me, for where there is so much to be done, the man is idle who asks,'What am I to do?' Do the first thing that comes to hand!" If a soldier in battle saw that the enemy was winning the day,he would not be hesitating and asking, "Captain, what can I do?" He would kill the first fellow that came near-and so mustyou, in a spiritual sense. Do something for Christ. Oh, that this Church might begin to open all its buds! May every littleone become a thousand, and every small one a great multitude, to the praise of the glory of the Grace of God! O you littleones, you hidden ones, you timid ones, you trembling ones-the Grace of God is abundant! Open to receive it! See how the crocus,after having been long hidden beneath the soil, knows when the new year begins and, as soon as the sun smiles on the earth,it gently lifts up its golden cup-and is there anything more beautiful in all the world than the crocus cup when God fillsthat chalice with the light of Heaven? What a depth of wonderful brightness of color there is within it! All the crocus cando is to open itself-and that is all you can do-just stand and drink in God's light! Open yourself to the sweet influencesof the Grace of God.
The fair lilies of the garden toil not, neither do they spin; but yet they glorify God. How they seem to stand still and justshow what God can do with them! They just drink in the light and heat and then pour it all out again in silent, quiet beauty.Now you do the same! Let the purity of your life, like the purity of the lily, glorify the God who created it in you. So mayHis blessing rest upon you all, dear Friends, for our Lord Jesus Christ's sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: Isaiah 4:8-20.
Verse 8. But you, Israel, are My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham, My friend. Let us, for the time being,forget the people to whom this message was addressed, and see whether it might not be spoken to ourselves. Come, my Friend,are you truly God's servant? Do you delight to do His will and to walk in His ways? If so, then you are God's chosen, for,wherever there is the true spirit of obedience to the Lord, it is the result of His Grace, and Grace never comes except fromthe wellhead of electing love! If you are God's servant, you are God's chosen. Then see to it that you walk and live as oneof the seed of Abraham, whom God calls, "My friend."
It was very touching, the other day, to notice how the Queen spoke of one who was her servant, but who had gained the friendshipof his royal mistress. So the Lord Jesus Christ said to His disciples, "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servantknows not what his Lord does: but I have called you friends." May we so faithfully serve Him that it will be fitting for theLord to speak of us in all three of these terms-"You, Israel, are My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of AbrahamMy friend."
9. You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called you from the chief men thereof, and said unto you, You areMy servant; I have chosen you, and not cast you away. May the Lord now say that to each one of you who are His servants! Especiallymay He say the latter part of it, "I have not cast you away"! Many times He might have done so if He had dealt with us accordingto our deeds. "Dismiss me not from Your service, Lord," is a prayer we ought often to put up, for, in that service, we arefar from perfect. I think I speak for all sane Christians-I do not undertake to speak for certain insane ones that aboundat this time-but I believe that all sane servants of the Lord confess that they are such poor servants that their wonder isthat they have not been dismissed from His service. Yet it is sweet to hear Him say, "I have chosen you, and not cast youaway."
10. Fear you not, for I am with you: be not dismayed; for I am your God. Oh, the riches of that word, "I am your God"! Thatis more than, "Your Friend, your Helper." "I am your God."
10. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you. First, "I will give you strength, and then I will use My own strength onyour behalf: 'I will strengthen you; yes, I will help you.'"
10. Yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of My righteousness. The poor child of God seems to cry, "Lord, You say, 'Iwill help you,' but I can hardly stand! I am such a babe, I have not yet learned to stand alone." "Well, then," says God,"I will uphold you with the right hand of My righteousness." Are any of you afraid that you will slip right off your feet?Are you put in very perplexing positions, so that you hardly know which way to turn? Then rest on this sweet promise, "Yes,I will uphold you with the right hand of My righteousness."
11. Behold, all they that were incensed against you shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they thatstrive with you shall perish. The Lord Jesus Christ will put to rout all the enemies of His people! Their sins and their sorrows,their foes and their woes, shall alike be scattered to the wind!
12. You shall seek them, and shall not find them, even them that contended with you: they that war against you shall be asnothing, and as a thing of nothing. You know how it happened to Pharaoh and all his hosts-the Israelites could not find themafter the Lord had overthrown them in the Red Sea. The Psalmist sang, long afterwards, concerning the Egyptians who were drowned,"There was not one of them left." So shall it be with all those whom you now fear and dread-God shall appear and work sucha deliverance for you that you shall wonder where your trouble is! It shall be drowned, utterly washed away, like the Egyptianswhom the children of Israel saw no more.
13. 14. For I the LORDyour God will hold your right hand, saying unto you, Fear not; I willhelp you. Fear not, you worm Jacob,and you men of Israel; I willhelp you, says the LORD, and your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel You must not miss those charmingwords, dear Friends! Let me read them again. Some of you will want them, so do not miss them. There is some medicine herethat you will need, maybe, before long-"Fear not, you worm Jacob, and you men of Israel; I will help you, says the Lord, andyour Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel."
15. Behold, I will make you as a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth: you shall thresh the mountains, and beat themsmall, and shall make the hills as chaff You know the corn drag was made rough at the bottom, as though it had sharp teeth,and when it was drawn over the wheat after it was spread out on the threshing floor, the grain was separated from the chaff.So God tells His people, if they trust Him, that He will make them into a threshing instrument having teeth-and they shallthresh not ordinary harvests-but shall thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and make the hills as chaff! No task istoo hard for God's people to accomplish when God is with them! Difficulties vanish and their fears are driven before the windwhen God strengthens them.
16. You shall fan them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them: and you shall rejoice inthe LORD, and shall glory in the Holy One of Israel Come, you that are drooping in spirit-here is God's promise to you thatyou shall overcome all your difficulties and then shall rejoice in God. "Oh," you say, "I could rejoice in God if He enabledme to do that!" Put the, "if," away, and believe that He is about to help you, and anticipate the victory He is going to giveyou by singing the song of faith!
17. When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue fails for thirst. They have come to such a statethat they cannot even tell their needs- they do not know how to speak to others about their grief, or even to describe itto themselves. "Their tongue fails for thirst." What then?
17. I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. ' 'But, Lord, they could not speak! Did You notsay, 'Their tongue fails'? Yet You say, 'I the Lord will hear them.'" It shows, dear Friends, that a groan is a prayer, asigh is a prayer, and that even if we cannot get as far as to sigh or groan, our very hunger and thirst make up a prayer beforeGod! "I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them."
18. I will open rivers in high places. That is an unusual place to find rivers, but God does strange things when He showsmercy to the poor and needy "I will open rivers in high places."
18. And fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.There shall be enough and to spare! There shall be an abundance of the water of which before they could not find a singledrop! When God is gracious to a soul, He is gracious. When His mercy is made to enter a man's heart, then He pours floodsupon him. No little Grace will God bestow, but endless Grace, and boundless Grace, "and crown that Grace with glory, too."
19, 20. I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the cypress tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree. I will set in the desertthe fir tree, and the pine, and the box tree together: that they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together,that the hand of the LORD has done this, and the Holy One ofIsraelhas createdit. May these gracious promises be fulfilledin you and me, that we may praise our faithful Covenant-keeping God forever and ever! Amen.