Sermon 2815. Good Cheer for Many That Fear
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, JANUARY, 25, 1903.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT NEW PARK STREET CHAPEL, SOUTHWARK, ON A LORD'S-DAY EVENING, EARLY IN THE YEAR 1861.
"Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not." Isaiah 35:4.
THIS is an exhortation which is addressed, not to one person, but to several. In the third verse you can see that the messageruns, "Strengthen you the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees." What, Lord? Is not one man sufficient for this task?Will not one of Your servants, when he repeats Your precious promises, be able to drive away the fears of Your people? Willnot half a word be enough to put to rout their foolish, groundless suspicions and suppositions? No, they have need of manycomforters. It is not enough, O Lord, that one should come and speak in Your name? No, "for precept must be upon precept,precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little." We are a people of a stubborn willand of a wayward heart, O God. Too often do we wander from Your ways! It is well, therefore, that God has spoken thus, notsimply to one of His servants, but to all those who love His appearing and rejoice in the certainty of His promises-"Say you,all of you"-for I may rightly supply the pronoun here-"say you to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not."
Let me observe that in the original, the word for, "fearful," is, "hasty." Now, a hasty man is never a wise man. And equallytrue is it that a "fearful" man is never prudent. Fearful men are always hasty-they jump at conclusions. They say, with Jacob,"All these things are against me," because they cannot see to the end of the Lord's dispensations. They forget that He isfull of pity and full of compassion. Circumstance or expediency is their guiding star. They seek to follow the track of themeteors which fly here and there across the midnight sky-they forget the pole-star of God's Truth and faithfulness. They goto sea without chart or compass and they are driven backwards and forwards by contrary winds! And even when there is no wind,they know not how to steer their ship. As you know, even in this world's affairs, a hasty man is constantly getting himselfinto trouble. He speculates in certain stocks and shares because some con man has told him that he can gain by doing so. Andsoon he hears quite a different story, some great disaster is about to come-he hastily believes the lie and is again deceived!
So is it with fearful souls-they are always doing this or that on the hasty impulse of an ill-drawn conclusion. Thus theyare constantly misjudging their God, misusing His Word, misdirecting their own steps, bringing a world of trouble upon themselvesand dishonor upon the name of their God! Fearful souls are hasty souls. They judge the Lord by feeble sense, by the bitternessof the bud and not by the sweetness of the flower. They judge by the clouds of the morning, forgetting that the clouds maysoon be scattered and that the sun may shine out brightly again. To them, then, that are of a hasty heart-to those who condemnthemselves unjustly, who think that all things are against them and so become exceedingly fearful, say, "Be strong, fear not."
I am going, first of all, to mention some of the spiritual fears which have vexed the people of God at all times-fears fromwithout which are associated with a belief of the Truth of God. Secondly, I will mention some fears from the feelings within.Then, thirdly, I shall try to excite you to get beyond these fearful things and to come up to the place of strength-the placeof confidence and of full assurance.
I. First, then, I am to mention SOME OF THE GREAT TRUTHS CONCERNING WHICH THE PEOPLE OF GOD ARE OFTEN FEARFUL.
How many there are, babes in Grace, who are troubled about election.' 'Are we among the Lord's chosen ones?" is a questionthat they often ask. They would be glad enough if an angel could fly down from Heaven and make a solemn affirmation that hehad read their names written in the golden page of the Lamb's Book of Life, but, since they cannot have this assurance, theyquestion, and question, and question yet again! "Suppose I have not been chosen unto eternal life? What if my name was neverengraved upon the hands or upon the heart of Christ? When the muster-roll of the redeemed is read at the Last Great Day, ifmy name should not be found on it, how can I bear that piercing thought? The dread surmise fills me with dismay!"
Now, to you who are trusting in Jesus, yet who have fears about your election, let me say, in God's name, "Be strong, fearnot." That very Doctrine of Election which now appears to you to be like a lion in your way, shall prove, by-and-by, to be,indeed, a lion upon which you shall ride in glorious triumph! It is no enemy. Come and look it in the face and you shall findit to be your richest, dearest friend. If you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, you are as certainly elected as ever Peterand Paul were! If, as an empty sinner, Christ is all your fullness. If, as a naked soul, Christ's righteousness is your gloriousdress-then be you assured of this-you would never have had the stream if you had not had an interest in the Fountain! Youcould never have had the fruit if you had not had a part in the Root! Inasmuch as you have the blessing of God's elect andthe faith which is the common mark of them all, do not any longer question your election, but be bold to enter into this solemnmystery! Venture, now, to the heart of Christ. Trace the streams of Divine Love up to the eternal Fountain from which theyspring, and say, with John Kent-
"A monument of Grace,
A sinner saved by blood-
The streams of love I trace
Up to the Fountain, God,
And in His sacred bosom see
Eternal thoughts of love to mef Again, there are many of God's people who are disquieted concerning their redemption. Theywant to know whether they were redeemed with the precious blood of Christ. According to some theories, nobody need ever beperplexed about this matter. The Arminian says, "Christ died for allmen." Some go so far as to say, "He died for all alike.''"According to them, He died as much for Judas as He did for Peter, and as much for those who were damned in Hell before Helaid down His life as for those who were saved in Heaven before He came into the world! Now, I do not hesitate to say thatsuch a redemption as that is a redemption that does not redeem! It is not worth the expense of paper and ink to write aboutit. It is not worthwhile to open one's mouth to speak of it. A redemption which pays a price, but does not ensure that whichis purchased. A redemption which calls Christ a Substitute for the sinner, but yet which allows the person for whom He wassubstituted to suffer is altogether unworthy of our apprehensions of Almighty God! It offers no homage to His wisdom and doesdespite to His covenant faithfulness. We could not and we would not receive such a travesty of Divine Truth as that wouldbe! There is no ground for any comfort whatever in it.
We believe that by His atoning Sacrifice, Christ bought some good things for all men and all good things for some men. Andthat when He died, He had a definite purpose in dying and that His purpose will certainly be effected. Those who are savedowe their security to what His Redemption has accomplished and we fully believe that the accomplishment will be just as greatas was the intent and purpose. Not, my Brothers and Sisters, that Christ's blood was less than Infinite in its value-lessthan Infinite it could never be! The question is not concerning the valueof it, but the purposeof it. If God had willed it,there was enough efficacy in the blood of Christ to have redeemed ten thousand worlds. We have, however, not to speak of theefficacy that might have been in it, but of the efficacy that is in it according to the good pleasure which God has purposedin Himself. This doctrine of a special and particular intention in the Atonement of Christ has often troubled Believers inJesus. But it never ought to. Do you believe in Him? Is He all your salvation and all your desire? Has His precious bloodbeen applied by the Spirit to your heart and conscience? Has He purged you with hyssop? Then you are clean and that hyssopcannot have been applied to you in a wrong way. Being pardoned, you have the fruit of Redemption, so Redemption is certainlyyours! Jesus came into the world to redeem you unto Himself. You are His and you have a clear and proper right to share inthe efficacy of His blood and the power of His Atonement. Therefore, I say unto you who, on this account, are of a fearfulheart, "Be strong, fear not."
There are many, also, who are troubled about their effectual calling.''Oh," says one, "if I had heard the Master say to me,as He said to Zacchaeus, 'Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down, for today I must abide at your house,' then I would know thatI was called by Him. Or if He had said to me, 'Mary,' and I had said, 'Rabboni,' I should know that He had called me. But,oh, Sir, I have come to Christ, yet I sometimes fear that He has never called me. He knows that He is my All-in-All. Otherrefuge have I none, but I am half-afraid that I have got into this refuge without any right-that I crept up to the foot ofthe Cross without being called-and that I have taken to myself a confidence which has no sure ground." O child of God, dismissall those fears! You could not have come to Christ unless He had first come to you! If you have but come behind Him in thecrowd and only touched the hem of His garment, you are cured and you shall never again suffer from that disease! That poorwoman was not called by Christ's voice, yet I will venture to say that there was a secret call, within her heart, that movedher. Touch the hem of His garment! You may never know exactly how you were first convinced of sin, nor how you were quickenedby the Holy Spirit-but if you have really come to Christ, that is enough, for you would never have come to Him unless He haddrawn you! He has secretly put the bands of His love about your heart and you have turned to Him as the needle turns to themagnet! The proof that you have been called by Christ is that you have come to Him!
I have frequently noticed that those persons who think that they have had some special and particular call, have been no better,in regard to their evidences and, sometimes they have been much worse than those who have come to Christ in the more ordinaryway. I would not say this to the disparagement of any man's conversion, for God works as He wills. But I recollect, and myeyes are just now fixed upon the very place where there once sat a man who presented a Bible to me, (I have it at home now),in which are written these words, "'Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down, for today I must abide at your house.' Dear Sir,When you pronounced these words last Sabbath morning, I heard a call from God to my soul and I am sure that I came down andthat Christ did abide at my house."
That man joined us in Church fellowship. I shall not mention his name, but some of you may remember how sadly he dishonoredthe name of Christ. He went out from us because he was not of us, for, if he had been of us, doubtless he would have continuedwith us. It is very easy for us to imagine that we have received some special call of this sort-and then to build our confidenceupon it-but if we have not something better than this to rest upon, woe was the day to us! I would far rather, my dear Friends,come to Christ and never know that I had been called except from the fact that I had come, than have some vision or audiblewords and yet, after all, cease to stand as a simple soul covered with the righteousness of Christ! Well do I know that thereis a temptation to look back to the day and to the hour when we had some special manifestation-rather than to look only tothe Cross and to the blood-and to calculate that we are converted because we felt this or that extraordinary emotion, insteadof still coming, as we always must come, crying to our dear Lord and Savior-
"Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to Your Cross I clingP'
Another fear, arising from the great and precious Doctrine of Final Perseverance, has troubled many a true Believer in theLord Jesus Christ. How shall I hold on and persevere unto the end?" is a question that often causes great anxiety even toa genuine child of God. The best of things, when corrupted, become the most corrupt. The sweetest of comforts, when not believedin, become the bitterest of discomforts. I think that the Doctrine of the Final Perseverance of the saints is one of thosethat are most plainly taught in the Scriptures. If I found any difficulty, at any time, in defending against its assailants,the Doctrine of Particular Redemption, I should certainly never find any difficulty in defending the Doctrine of Final Perseverance!Those who oppose it have an irresistible array of passages of Scripture to contend with- they have, indeed, when they attackthis Truth of God-to leap into a lion's den! It is strange that so many of the Lord's people should have been troubled concerningthis precious Doctrine which is so clearly revealed in the Word of God. "How shall I endure unto the end? How shall I standfast in the hour of trial? If my temptations are multiplied, if my pains are increased, if my bereavements should follow oneupon another, if I should be called to a position of great responsibility, or if I should be cast down into the depths ofadversity, how shall I endure it? How shall I be kept steadfast, year after year, and be brought safely home at last? Amidso many rocks and quicksands, storms and hurricanes, how shall my poor water-logged vessel ever enter the port?"
O Believer, if you are really called by Grace, you shall certainly persevere! He who set your feet a-running in His ways willnever let you stop till you have come to your journey's end! Christ's promise to all His people is, "Because I live, you shalllive also." Your perseverance does not rest with you, otherwise you were indeed an undone wretch! But it rests with your Lordand Savior-and He will preserve you even unto the end! As your days, so shall your strength be." With the temptation, He willmake a way of escape that you shall be able to bear it. So again I say to you who are troubled about your ultimate salvation,"Be strong, fear not." He who has begun the good work in you will carry it on and finish it in righteousness! He will notleave you, for His promise to everyone who believes in Him is, I will never leave you, nor forsake you."
II. I have thus dealt with some fears from without. Now I am going, for a only few minutes, to speak upon SOME OF THE FEARSWHICH COME FROM WITHIN.
Multitudes of Believers are of a fearful heart because they have not the joys and comforts with which some Christians arefavored. God has some of His people who live very near to Himself and who, therefore, partake of the richest things upon Hisbanqueting table. These privileged saints tell of their joys, but certain desponding Christians who have backslidden fromGod and who, therefore, have not of late tasted of these dainties, cry out, "We cannot be the Lord's people, for we have nosuch joys as these." As well might the plant in the corner say that it was not planted at all because it did not stand inthe front row of the bed! As well might some small tree in the forest say that it did not live because it did not tower aloft,like some mighty cedar of Lebanon! Because I am not the fairest rose, but only a humble violet hidden among the green leaves,am I to conclude that I am not a flower at all? Oh, no, no! We are not saved by our comforts! They are given to us after weare saved, but we are saved without them. Many a soul has gone to Hell singing, while others have gone to Heaven sighing.It is not right that God's people should hang their harps upon the willows, but far better is it for us to hang our harpsupon the willows than, like Haman, to be hanged upon the gallows that, in his pride and malice, he had erected for his enemy,Mordecai! Because we have not all the comforts which some Christians have, let us not be fretful and repine-that is the wayto prevent ourselves from ever having them. I would say of the comforts of religion as Christ said of the comforts of thisworld, "Seek you first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." Seek Christfirst! Have simple faith in Him and then the ecstasies, the raptures, the enjoyments, the uplifting which some of His peoplehave, shall be added unto you if the Lord sees that it is well for you to have them! But if you seek those things first, youshall neither have them nor any other sort of comfort whatever.
Full many there are, also, who are greatly cast down because of the conflict within. As soon as there are wars and fightsbetween the two men-the old man and the new man-they at once conclude that it is all over with them. Foolish conclusion, indeed,since, if there were no wars it would be a proof that there was no life! If there were no conflicts it would be an evidencethat there was but one power within-and that power the evil one! Draw not, from your internal commotions, from the temptationwhich assails you and the force with which it acts against your inward principles- draw not the inference that, therefore,you are a castaway of God! This is rather a reason why you should cry, Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"And, by faith should shout, "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!"
Very many have come across my path, too, who are of a fearful heart because they have such little faith and they fear thattheir little faith will not be sufficient. Ah, Believer, your true riches do not depend upon the amount of your spending money!The Lord sometimes keeps His children rather short of pocket money, but, still, the whole of His riches belongs to them allthe while. The unsearchable riches of Christ are the measure of our true wealth-not that portion which we can manage to layhold of by the hand of faith. If I have, in my hand, but one farthing of faith's wealth, that is a proof that all the richesof Christ belong to me. If I have but faith as a grain of mustard seed-so small that it looks as though the first bird ofthe air that came my way might carry it away, yet, inasmuch as there is life hidden within that tiny mustard seed-a life whichonly needs the Grace of God to expand and develop it-I am saved, though my faith is but small!
A few, too, I have known, who are troubled with doubts and fears because they do not understand as much as they would liketo. They cannot read books of divinity, or, if they do read them, they get lost amid the maze of difficult theological terms.They cannot reconcile certain Truths of God, the one with the other. But this is no ground for fear, for the Gospel is sosimple that it is adapted even for those who are all but idiots! I have read some extraordinary instances- facts that no onecan dispute-of persons scarcely a degree above sheer idiocy who have, nevertheless, believed in Christ,
yes, and whose sayings have had about them certain flashes of a superlative simplicity and supernatural wisdom-and whose words,when they were sifted and carefully examined, were found to read rather like the mind of the Spirit than like the utterancesof a poor creature whose mind was almost gone! Think not, dear Friend, that your ignorance can push you out of the familyof God! Little children cannot read Greek and Latin, but they can say, Abba, Father," and that is all they need to say. Ifyou cannot read books of deep theological lore, yet, if Jesus Christ is yours-if you are trusting in Him-even the imperfectknowledge that you have of Him proves that you are His! And He will never leave you, nor forsake you.
I have met with some, too, who were of a fearful heart, afraid that they would be lost because they felt that they had, atsome period of their lives, neglected Christian duty. This is an old temptation that Satan often casts in the way of godlypeople. You remember how John Bunyan represents Apollyon as charging poor Christian with being unfaithful- "You did faintat first setting out, when you were almost choked in the Gulf of Despond. You did attempt wrong ways, to be rid of your burden,whereas you should have stayed till your Prince had taken it off! You did sinfully sleep and lose your choice thing; you werealso almost persuaded to go back at the sight of the lions. And when you talk of your journey and of what you have heard andseen, you are inwardly desirous of vain-glory in all that you say or do." Now, if any of you should be troubled by similaraccusations of the adversary, recollect that since Christ did not love you for your good works, they are not the cause ofHis beginning to love you-and so He does not love you for your good works even now-and they are not the cause of His continuingto love you! He loves you because He will love you. What He approves in you now is that which He has, Himself, given to you!That is always the same-it alwaysabides as it was. The life of God is always within you. Jesus has not turned away His heartfrom you, nor has the flame of His love decreased in the smallest degree. Therefore, faint Heart, fear not, be strong."
III. I might go on to deal with other fears of God's people, but, instead of doing so, I want TO EXCITE YOU TO GET BEYONDTHESE FEARS. In the words of my text, to exhort you to "fear not," but to "be strong."
Some few Sabbaths ago I told you that I had met with a Christian Brother who had never had a doubt. Lately, in Glasgow, Imet with another. Mr. Alexander Macleod, the oldest Baptist minister, I believe, in Scotland, told me that he was convertedto God, upon the Calton Hill, under Rowland Hill's ministry. He is now, I suppose, 82 or 83 years of age and is still a strongman. He has known the Lord for more than 60 years and he says that not once in his life did he ever have a doubt concerninghis election, his calling, his interest in Christ, or his final perseverance. He said that he once heard a Unitarian ministerpreach against the Divinity of Christ and his mind was greatly disturbed, but he never went the length of having any doubtseither about Christ, or about his own interest in Him. I knew the man to be everywhere revered for his piety and for the holinessand consistency of his life. I could not, therefore, doubt the truth of what he told me. But I was surprised, not at him,but at myself, that I, who have the same God as he has and perhaps have had more mercies than he has received-that I, in thefull vigor of early manhood should doubt, while he, in his old age, should be able to truthfully declare that his soul hadnever wavered in his simple confidence in Jesus. When I expressed my surprise at him, he expressed a great deal more surpriseat me! He said that he came to Christ as a poor sinner and trusted Him to be his All-in-All, and he did not mean to alterhis belief until he saw good reason for doing so. I hope that you and I, dear Friends, will come to Jesus, yet again, as poorsinners and take Him to be our All-in-All-and never change from that simple faith till we see good reason for doing so-which,I take it, will never be so long as the heart of Christ is full of affections, the arm of Jesus is unpalsied through affliction,and the eyes of Christ are undimmed with age!
I am sure that Satan is very much gratified when he sees that any of us are of a fearful heart. No doubt he chuckles overit and makes as much as he can of his sorry triumph over poor weak mortals. Do not yield to him, Beloved! Draw your swordsand strike boldly at him! Believe that you will overcome him, and you will do so. March forward and believe that the landof promise is yours, for it isyours and you shall surely go up and possess it! Is it necessary that the children of God shouldbe a doubting people? Is it necessary that they should be continually cast down? By no means! For it is a great and grievoussin for us to distrust our God. Let us trust in Him at all times and even say with Job, Though He slays me, yet will I trustin Him."
The path of faith is the smoothest path, after all. The road of life will always be rough, but he who walks by faith willfind half its roughness removed. The greater part of our sorrows come not from Heaven, nor Hell, nor earth, but from ourselves.We are our own plague-makers and our own tormentors! A man with strong faith is like one who wears a
leather glove who can lay hold of thorns and thistles and not be hurt. But the man with weak faith is like one not only witha naked hand, but with the skin off it-everything he touches irritates the tender flesh and even the small grains of dustmay fret within the wound and breed ulcers and foul sores. Be strong." God is with you, so how dare you be dismayed becauseof your own weakness? "Fear not." The Lord is your confidence-it is presumption for you to mistrust Him. "Be strong." Themight of God is engaged by promise and by oath to bring you safely through. "Fear not." There is no cause for fear-the enemieswhom you have seen today, you shall see again no more forever. "Fear not." Fear weakens you and moreover, it dishonors Godand gives cause to the enemy to blaspheme His holy name.
I do not know whether this is a portion of meat to any troubled heart here present. Possibly it may be. If so, poor Soul,feed on it. You have gone to a new situation, have you not, and there are some ungodly young men who revile and ridicule you?Well, then, fear not, be strong." Your business does not answer so well as it did and you hardly know what will become ofyou. "Fear not, be strong." Commit your cause unto the Lord, lay your case at His feet. Possibly you have sickness in thehouse and you are half inclined to repine, and to think that there is some anger mingled with the strokes of the rod. "Fearnot, be strong." Either the blow you dread will never be inflicted or it will be a blessed blow! This is but a slight sorrow.Do you think me hard and unfeeling in so describing it? But it may be that this sorrow will be very slight compared with thatfrom which you are spared-if this blow did not fall, it might involve a ten times heavier one!
Perhaps you have been sorely tempted by Satan lately and he says that he shall at last have you. Be strong, fear not." Strikehim all the harder for telling that lie! Strike at him with all your power, for, in the might of God, you are far mightierthan he is and you can prevail over him! And you, young Man, have recently undertaken service for your Savior, but you feelthat you have not the strength needed for it and you are inclined to give up. Fear not, be strong." He who calls you to Hisservice will support you in it! You and I have to stand like Gideon's soldiers, with the lamp inside the pitcher-that pitcherneeds to be broken before the light of the lamp can be seen. The strength of man is like that earthen pitcher and the lightof God cannot shine forth until that pitcher is dashed in pieces!
There is one person I must not forget, perhaps more. There are those who know that they are drawing near unto the grave. Theshadows lengthen out and their life becomes like the spider's web and they are afraid to die. They know the living Savior,but they fear the dying hour. They think Death's stream is dark, cold and deep-how shall they pass through it to reach theCelestial City? Fear not, be strong." Death is the last enemy and he is to be destroyed. Remember that, and be of good cheer!He shall not destroy you. Do not call him Death the Destroyer, but Death the Destroyed! Be certain of victory in your lastmoments! No, look forward, even now, with hopeful joyto that most blessed of all moments when, laying your head upon the deathpillow, you shall find that Christ's bosom is where that pillow lies and you shall breathe your life out there, finding noiron gates, no shadow of dark wings, no horror of darkness, no dying strife-but bliss beginning, bliss increasing, bliss overflowingand running on forever and ever-bliss that shall be yours beyond the hazard of loss!
God grant unto each one of us that we may be strong, and fear not, for Christ's sake Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: ISAIAH45'
While we are reading this chapter, and thinking of Cyrus, the Lord's anointed deliverer for Israel, let us not forget thegreater Deliverer of whom the hymn writer sings-
"Thus says God of His Anointed, He shall let My people go! 'Tis the work for Him appointed, 'Tis the work that He shall do.And My city
He shall found, and build it, too." Verse 1. Thus says the LORD to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held, tosubdue nations before him; and I wiil loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shallnot be shut It was
thought impossible for any foreign troops to enter Babylon, yet the gates were found open and the army of Cyrus marched inand took possession of the city!
2, 3. I will go before you, and make the crooked places straight I will break in piece the gates of brass, and cut in sunderthe bars of iron: and I will give you the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know thatI, the LORD, which call you by your name, am the God of Israel Whenever God calls a man to do any work, however difficultand even impossible it may seem to be, he will certainly accomplish it because he will have God with him. The Lord will girdhis loins and make him strong-and all the forces of Providence shall work towards the accomplishment of the Divine end. HasGod given you any work to do? It may be a much easier task than that of Cyrus, so, as the Lord enabled him to succeed in hisgreat enterprise, you may have confidence that His power is sufficient to give success to you, also! It may seem to be presumptionfor you to undertake such a work, yet, if you are called of God to do it, go on without a shadow of doubt, for He will makethe crooked places straight and break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron. We must not forgetthat whatever God did in relation to Cyrus was done with an eye to the welfare of His own people.
4. For Jacob My servant's sake, and Israel My elect, I have even called you by your name: I have surnamed you, though youhave not known Me. And all the powers and princes that arise in this world, God can use for the good of His Church! All thenations, kingdoms and powers there are, are only like so much scaffolding for the building of God's own house-and He makesuse of them as He pleases, though, often, they know not what He is doing with them!
5, 6. I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God besides Me: I girded you, though you have not known Me: thatthey may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is noneelse. This was intended to correct the mistake of Cyrus who probably was a fire-worshipper-a believer in the two great forcesof good and evil which were supposed to be equally eternal and powerful-which the Persians regarded as the god of good andthe god of evil. So the Lord says-
7. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. There are not twodistinct principles that are omnipotent and, though God is not the Author of moral evil, yet whatever there is of evil whichcauses us pain and loss is under His control. There are not two gods, but only one living and true God.
8-10. Drop down, you heavens, from above, and let the skiespour down righteousness: let the earth open, andlet them bringforth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together, I the LORD have created it Woe unto him that strives with his Maker!Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth Shall the clay say to him that fashions it, What are you making? Orshall your handiwork say, 'He has no hands'? Woe unto him that says unto his father, What are you begetting? Or to the woman,What have you brought forth? God, on the ground of His being Creator, demands that He shall not be questioned by human wisdom,nor dictated to by human pride. He is the one Supreme Sovereign and Lord of All-and He may do absolutely as He pleases. Itis a joy and delight to us that He always wills to do what is just and right. Still, His Divine prerogative must not be abridgedin any way whatever. The potsherds that he has made must never question the action of the great Potter who has made them!Has He not power to mold and fashion the clay exactly as He pleases?
11, 12. Thus says the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask Me of things to come concerning My sons and concerningthe work of My hands, you command Me. I have made the earth, and created man upon it I, even My hands, have stretched outthe heavens, and all their host have I commanded. When we think of this, we ought to worship God, alone, and trust Him, alone,and pay all loyal homage to Him. What can there be that is comparable to the Creator of all things? There is not so much asa grain of dust, nor a single fly that is self-created, or man-made-but everything has come from God and exists because Hewills it. Therefore, give to the Lord the Glory that is due unto His name and rest in His power, and trust in His might.
13. Ihave raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build My city, and he shall let go My captives,not for price nor reward, says the LORD of Hosts. And so Cyrus did. It was through him that Jerusalem was rebuilt and thecaptive Israelites were delivered!
14, 15. Thus says the LORD, The labor of Egypt, and merchants of Ethiopia and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come overunto you, and they shall be yours: they shall come after you; in chains they shall come over, and they shall fall down untoyou, they shall make supplication unto you, saying, Surely God is in you, and there is none else, there is
no other God. Verily You are a God that hides Yourself O God of Israel, the Savior This is a most merciful arrangement, for,if God did not hide Himself, none of us could exist! The full blaze of His Divine Countenance would be our destruction. Godsaid even to Moses, "You cannot see My face: for there shall no man see Me and live." But it is also partly in judgment thatGod sometimes hides even that measure of His Presence which, at other times, He reveals in love. But even then, though Heis hidden, He is still there. As the blue sky is up yonder, though it is long since you saw it, so is God always present eventhough we cannot see Him. The mountains, when hidden in darkness, are as real as they are in the light of day-and God is astruly near to His people, to preserve and succor them when they do not see Him, as when they do.
16-19. They shall be ashamed, and also confounded, all of them: they shall go to confusion together that are makers of idols.But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: you shall not be ashamed nor confounded world withoutend. For thus says the LORD that created the heavens, God Himself that formed the earth and made it; He has established, it,He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else. I have not spoken in secret,in a darkplace of the earth: Isaidnot unto the seed of Jacob, See you Me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declarethings that are right. I t is a very consolatory thing for us to be told not only what God has said, but also what He hasnotsaid. You can be sure of this, that there is nothing in the secret book of God's decrees, and nothing in the sealed bookof prophecy which is contrary to the gracious covenant promises which God has revealed to His people in His Word. He doesnot say one thing and mean another. You may rest assured that all the revelations that are yet to be given, if there are tobe any, (and there are some who are always talking about fresh light breaking from the Word), will never contradict that whichhas been revealed of old! God did not tell His ancient people anything which contradicts what He has told us. The poorestand meanest of His people who have been able to spell out, in the Word of God, their right and title to the Divine inheritance,may rely upon it that if any wise man comes to them with some wonderful discovery which contradicts the Bible-he simply comeswith a lie-for God has nowhere contradicted what He has plainly revealed in the Scriptures!
20, 21. Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, you that are escaped of the nations. They have no knowledge thatset up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save. Tell and bring forth your case; yes, let themtake counsel together. What wooden god has ever foretold the future? What idol of brass or stone had a word to say about thecoming of Cyrus? Not one.
21-25. Who has declared this from ancient time? Who has told it from that time? Have not I, the LORD? And there is no otherGod besides Me; a just God and a Savior; there is none besides Me. Look unto Me, and be you saved, all the ends of the earth:for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by Myself, the word is gone out of My mouth in righteousness, and shallnotreturn, That unto Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shallswear. Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousnessand strength: even to Him shall men come, and all that are incensed against Him shall be ashamed. In the Lord shall all theseed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.