Sermon 3402. The Nail in a Sure Place
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, APRIL 16, 1914.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place, and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father's house. And they shallhang upon him all the glory of his father's house, the offspring and the issue, all vessels of small quantity, from the vesselsof cups, even to all the vessels of flagons. In that day, says the Lord of Hosts, shall the nail that is fastened in the sureplace be removed and be cut down and fall; and the burden that was upon it shall be cut off: for the Lord has spoken it."Isaiah 22:23-25.
WE have read, in your hearing, the occasion of these words. Shebna the scribe, having become proud and vainglorious, was tobe put away and his place to be occupied by a better man on whom God promised to establish His favor. When Shebna the scribewas put away, it was like the drawing out of a nail which, apparently, had been well fastened, and all that had been hangingupon it came down with its fall. Thus did Shebna's family suffer for his sin. It is just so in the world at this day. It werewell if some men who have gone into evil ways had considered this. It is not they, alone, who suffer. Such is the order andconstitution of the commonwealth of manhood, that when the husband sins, the household must feel much of the smart. Oftentimes,for wife and children, there has been wrung out a cup of bitterness, of which they have been made to drink, not through theirown fault, but through the fault of the head of the family. Should there be any men here who have strayed into this house,tonight, who contemplate putting forth his hand to that which is not good, though he might dare to risk the consequences forhis own sake, yet, for the sake of the children of his loins and the wife of his bosom, let him pause lest, perhaps, he filltheir lives with bitterness, or send them to their graves prematurely in poverty and shame.
That is not, however the subject upon which I shall talk at this time. When Shebna was removed, there was room for Eliakim.Let this furnish the key to a spiritual lesson. It has been generally propounded and admitted by commentators and expositorsthat Eliakim is a type of our Lord Jesus Christ. While this passage literally refers to Eliakim, himself, it may, with verygreat instructiveness, be used as applicable to the Lord Jesus-and so I use it. The first point will be this-
I. IN ORDER TO MAKE ROOM FOR JESUS CHRIST, THERE MUST BE AN OVERTHROW OF SOMEBODY ELSE, just as in order to make room forEliakim, Shebna, who seemed to be like a nail fastened in a sure place, must be pulled out and there must be a downfall ofhis glory.
Beloved, whenever Jesus Christ comes into the heart, before He rides in state into the Castle of Mansoul, there is a battle,a strife, a struggle, a casting down of the image of sin, and a setting up of the Cross in its place. All men, by nature,have some kind of righteousness. There is no man so vile but he still wraps himself up in his rags and cajoles himself intothe belief that he has some degree of excellence, spiritual or moral. Before Christ can come into the heart, all this naturalexcellence must be torn to shreds. Every single stone of the wall upon which we have built before, must come down, and thefoundations must be utterly destroyed before we shall ever build right and for eternity upon the Cornerstone of Christ Jesus.All our conceit about our past righteousnesses must be completely overthrown. Perhaps we flatter ourselves that all is wellbecause we have been baptized or have come to the Communion, like one who was visited, a few days ago, by an Elder. Seeingthat she was sick and ,near to die, he asked her, "Have you a good hope?" "Oh, Sir, yes! A good and blessed hope." "And pray,"he asked, "what is it?" "Well," she said, "I have taken the Sacrament regularly for 50 years." What do you think of that ina Christian country, from the lips of one who had attended a Gospel ministry? Her confidence was built upon the mere factof her having attended to an outward ceremony to which, probably, she had no right whatever! There are hundreds and thousandswho are thus resting upon mere ceremonies! They have been Church-goers or Chapel-goers from their youth up. They have neverbeen absent, except under sickness, from their regular place of worship. Good easy souls! Are these the boats upon which theyhope to swim in eternity? They will surely sink to their everlasting destruction! Some base their confidence on the fact thatthey have never indulged in the grosser vices. Others that they have been scrupulously honest in their commercial transactions.Some that they have been good husbands. Others that they have been charitable neighbors. I know not of what poor flimsy tissuemen will not make a covering to hide their natural nakedness! But all this must be unraveled-every stitch of it! No man canput on the robes of Christ's righteousness till he has taken off his own. Christ will never go shares in our salvation. Godwill not have it said that He partly made the heavens, but that some other spirit came in to conclude the gigantic work ofCreation, much less will He divide the work of our salvation with any other! He must be the only Savior as He was the onlyCreator! In the winepress of His sufferings, Jesus stood alone-of the people, none were with Him-no angel could assist Himin the mighty work. In the fight He stood alone-the solitary Champion, the sole Victor! So, too, you must be saved by Him,alone, resting entirely on Him and counting your own righteousness to be dross and dung, or else you can never be saved atall! It must be down with Shebna, or else it cannot be up with Eliakim! It must be down with self, or it can never be up withChrist! Self-righteousness must be set aside to make room for the righteousness of Jesus-otherwise it can never be ours.
We must, with equal thoroughness, be ready to give up all confidence in our own resolutions, or vows, or endeavors for thefuture and come to rest the future where we rest the past-on Christ, and Christ alone. I know it is the idea of many thatalbeit they have slipped and fallen in the past, yet they shall be able to stand upright in the future. Have they not resolvedit? Can they not do it? Are they not able to do as they will? As they have had much ability for evil, have they not an equalability for good? So self-sufficiency talks. But when a man comes to know himself, and to know Christ, he sings another note."Ah," said an aged saint, as he heard of men that were taken to the police station, and of some that were condemned to die,and others that were transported-"Ah," said he, "he today, I tomorrow if the Grace of God did not prevent." So every trulyhumbled man will say, when he hears of the great offenses of others, "They today, and I tomorrow, unless Grace shall interveneto keep me from following their evil example." Brothers and Sisters, our only hope for the future lies in this-that thosewho trust Jesus are in Jesus Christ's hands and that He is able to keep that which they commit to Him. Those who trust inJesus have this promise that the Holy Spirit shall dwell in them and walk in them-writing a law upon their hearts making theirhearts new-molding their natures into the nature of Christ, causing them to hate evil and to choose that which is good. Youwill never kill a single evil passion through your own strivings apart from the precious blood of Christ! Those vipers withinour bosom will never die till they are sprinkled with the blood of the Great Sacrifice-and then they all depart. Jesus comesand fills the heart and then evil is crushed beneath His foot and is utterly slain, so that Christ becomes fully formed inus the hope of Glory!
Now, it is hard for a man to give up these two things-all glorying in the past and all hope for the future in himself. Itis hard to be a pauper and to knock at Mercy's door and ask for alms, and yet only as paupers can we come. I do not alludeexclusively to you that have been great sinners, outwardly only, but I mean you moral men and women, you that are good andexcellent in a thousand ways. You must still come, just as the poor publican came, with, "God be merciful to me, a sinner."These are God's terms and He will accept you on no other. Oh, be not proud enough to kick at them, but submit yourself tothe dictates of Eternal Love and let your vanity and self-opinion be abased that Jesus Christ may be All-in-All to you!
Before I leave this point, let me remark that as this is to be done before we come to Christ, so all our life long it is oneof the things about which we must always be vigilant, for the tendency of human nature, as long as we are in this world, isto get something to rest upon in ourselves. We can hardly be indulged with the light of Jehovah's Countenance before we beginto make a confidence of it-and if our graces for a little while bud and bloom like seeming flowers, we very soon begin tocompliment ourselves upon our imaginary goodness! Though every excellence is borrowed, we begin to be proud of it and to forgetthat in Him is all our salvation, and all confidence. This knocking down has to be persevered in, for the flesh lusts againstthe Spirit and yet as fast as we can, in our pride build up anything in which we can glory, the Lord sends a terrible blastof some kind or other against the wall, and sweeps it all down, that Jesus Christ may alone be exalted in our experience.
Thus much upon the first point. There must be a down-throwing, a pulling out of one nail before there can be another for usto hang upon. Now, let us turn to a second thought, which is this-
II. THE NATURE OF OUR TRUE DEPENDENCE, as set forth in the words of the 23rd and 24th verses.
The reliance of a really saved soul is upon the Person, the work and righteousness of Jesus Christ only. This dependence iswarranted by God's appointment. Turn to the 23rd verse-"Iwill fasten him as a nail in a sure place." That other nail, in the25th verse, God never fastened, but this is one that God fastens and what God does, lasts forever! Do you, dear Hearer, restyour soul's salvation alone upon Jesus? Then, mark you, He can never fail you, for if He did, then would it be true that Godhad been mistaken. It were blasphemy to think it! If the Lord appoints Jesus Christ to be a Propitiation for sin, and yetHe does not make that Propitiation, then there is a mistake somewhere. If God bids me lean my whole weight upon His Son, andI do so lean, and yet am not sustained, then is there a great mistake, not on my part only, but on the part of Infinite Wisdom!But we cannot suppose that. The Lord knew what He was doing when He appointed the Only-Begotten to be the sinner's pillarof strength, upon which he might lean. He knew that Jesus could not fail-that as God, He was all-sufficient. That as perfectMan He would not turn aside. That as a bleeding Surety, having paid all the debt of our sin upon Calvary, He was able to saveto the uttermost all them that come unto God by Him. I come into this pulpit so continually that it is a place to which Iam more accustomed than any other in the world! And this is the one cry I am always uttering in various shapes and ways-itis this one Truth of God I present with unwea-ryingly interest-Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died on the Cross of Calvary,bearing upon Himself the sin of all that trust Him, and for all that trust Him, He has made a full Atonement, so that theirsins are forgiven! Christ has paid their debts, they are free! He was punished for them! They cannot be punished. God cannotpunish the same sin twice! If He punishes Christ, He will not punish any for whom Christ died! Now, if these statements weremy own invention. Did I promulgate it as coming out of my own thoughts, it were worthy of no acceptance-but inasmuch as Godreveals it in His Word-oh, this is the soul and marrow of the Christian religion! Rest on it and if you are deceived, weresuch a thing possible, what a consolation would you have in appealing to the proclamation of Divine Mercy as an answer toall the terrors that menaced you! But that can never be! Impossible! It is the Truth of God, O Sinner! However guilty youmay be, believe this Truth-that Christ is able to save you-and go and cast yourself on Him! Rest on His finished work, andas God is true, He will not, He cannot, turn aside from His solemn oath and promise-"He that believes in Christ is not condemned,but he that believes not is condemned already because he has not believed on the Son of God." The Christian's dependence,then, is of Divine appointing.
Moreover, the Believer's dependence is of God's sustaining, for note, "I will fasten Him as a nail in a sure place, and Heshall be for a glorious throne to His father's house." God ensures the future-that Christ shall always be to His people theirglory and their defense. You know how we like good names to be attached to great compacts. In all commercial dealing, especiallyin large transactions, we like good and safe men to trust in, though, indeed, where are they to be found now-a-days-sincethe best of them are sharper than a thorn-edge? Oh, Honesty, you are fled, perished, buried years ago, and the very rags youonce did wear are rotten! But, here, if nowhere else, here in the Gospel, we have a name in which we may trust the name ofthe thrice-holy God that cannot lie! And He declares that He will sustain His Son as the Savior of His people. Need I urgeany rational spirit to depend where God pledges His Word? "Let God be true, and every man a liar," and if you have God's Wordfor it, cast yourselves unreservedly upon His Word! You shall not find Him fail you! You shall rejoice as in Heaven you singof the faithfulness of the God that spoke and the everlasting righteousness with which He fulfils every Word He has spoken!
Further still, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Believer's great foundation and confidence, is also the Christian's fountainof glory. "He shall be for a glorious throne to his father's house." All his father's house was to be ennobled through theennobling of Eliakim and so is the Christian ennobled through the ennobling of the Lord Jesus Christ. By nature what are webut despicable? If we consider the heavens, the work of God's fingers, we are so minute as not to be worthy to be called specksin Creation! If we look at our sinfulness, we are reduced still lower in the scale. And if we see our continued tendency tofresh sin, we are obliged to say, "Lord, what is man, that You are mindful of him at all?" But yet man is an honorable creaturewhen he lays hold on Christ! Then he is lifted up and made to have dominion over all the works of God's hands. All thingsare put under his feet in the Person of Christ Jesus. There is no honor in the whole universe-no, not the honor of the angels,themselves-that can exceed the honor that is put upon the man who believes in Jesus Christ. I wish we always thought so, forindeed, it is so. In the olden times, when one was brought before the magistrate to be accused and adjudged to death for hisChristianity, he blushed not to avow his soul's attachment to his Savior with open face. When they asked him what he was,he said, "A Christian." "And what is your name?" He said, "My name is Christian." "And what is your occupation?" "My occupationis a Christian." "And what is your wealth, whatare your degree and rank?" He said, "I am a Christian." And to every questionthey put, he gave but this one answer, "I am a Christian. I am a Christian." All the wealth and all the glory of this worldare nothing compared with the glory that comes to the very meanest man who is really allied to Christ and can truly be calleda Christian! Lift up your heads, you poor and needy! Rejoice, you downtrodden and oppressed, you toiling workers, you forgottenones among the sons of men, for if your destiny is linked with the Person of the once crucified, but now exalted Savior, youshall partake of His Glory in the day of His appearing and forever be sharers of the splendor which eternally shall surroundyour Lord!
Here, then, is much to comfort us. He upon whom we depend is divinely appointed, divinely sustained, and all His Glory Hesheds on us! But now, pass on and note that-
III. THE CHRISTIAN'S WHOLE DEPENDENCE IS PLACED UPON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST as declared in the 24th verse. The metaphor isthis-There is a pin in a palace and upon this there may be hung up suits of armor, or whatever else the owner of the palacechooses to put there. But instead of that, there are hung golden wine cups and goblets. Some of them are small vessels ofnot much capacity. Others of them are great flagons adapted to hold large quantities, but they are all hanging upon this bracket-allsuspended there as trophies. If the nail is taken out, the smaller vessels fall, and so do the larger ones, too, for theyall equally and alike hang on that nail. Their only support from falling and being bruised upon the floor is that one pinwhich holds them all. Such is Christ to all His people! All Christians are not alike capacious vessels of Grace. Some canreceive much-they are full of knowledge, zeal, hope, joy, faith. Others will never be anything but little vessels. They havebelieved, but their faith is mixed with unbelief. They "can do but little, they have but few talents, their knowledge is obscured,their progress in the Divine Life is but small. Still, for all that, they rest on nothing less than Christ. They need notrest on anything more and the great ones depend on nothing less than Christ, nor can they rest on anything more. The littlecup is quite as safe, for it hangs on the nail as the flagon does. Truly, one might be ambitious to be a flagon, to hold adeeper draught for its Lord's pleasure, but the littleness of the tiniest vessel does not affect its safety. The safety ofall that hang there lies in the fastness of the pin, the strength and security of the nail. Not in the littleness of the one,nor the greatness of the other is there either safety or danger, but all rest on that pin. So is it with the whole Churchof God. We are all hanging upon the finished work of Jesus Christ. If we have served Him well and served Him long, yet wehave nothing whereof to glory, but we cast all aside, and rest, as helpless sinners upon the blessed Savior! If we have butjust begun to serve Him, and so are babes in Grace, we rest entirely upon Him. If we have fallen into sin and have been backsliders,yet still we come again and look to His merits that we may be restored. Or if we have lived a blameless life through His abundantGrace, yet still, for all that, we have no other dependence than the rest of the saints, but entirely, solely rest in Jesus!This is very simple Doctrine, expressed in very simple talk, but I do wish that somebody had told me this years before I heardit, for I always had the notion that I was to be saved by something I did, and something I felt. I supposed it was a greatmystery, a matter that took months and years to solve, and that even then, it was attended with imminent risk and that thedreary search for this inestimable prize might end in disappointment. Oh, I wish I had been told earlier that there was nothingwhatever for me to do of myself, but simply to come, just as I was, and cast myself upon what Christ had done for me, andfor sinners like me, and that if I rested wholly upon Him, I would be saved from my sins and from the tendency to sin-andbe made holy in Christ Jesus! Now I feel inclined to state, whenever I am talking of it, into the simplest language and theshortest sentences, in order that if there should be a lad here, a child here, that is seeking salvation, he may not be keptin darkness, as I was, month after month, and year after year, trying to know what to do to be saved! Man, woman-whoever youmay be-what is to save you is done! Christ has done it all! The robe you have got to wear in Heaven is already spun-you havenot got to sit at the loom, working away and making a garment with which to cover your sins! The fountain in which you haveto be washed you have not got to fill, nor even to drop a tear into it to make it perfect! There it is-filled with blood drawnfrom Immanuel's veins, and all you have to do is but to step into it by simply trusting it. Trust Christ! Rely on Christ!Depend on Christ and it is done! And you are saved! The flagons and the cups put on the nail are safe there. You that puton Jesus Christ now are safe, now, safe tonight, safe all your life and safe in Glory everlasting!
Now, I should like to ask a question of two or three classes, and then send you home. There are a great many of us here tonightwho are teachers of others. Some of you are deacons, Elders, Sunday school teachers, street preachers. I thank God that youare a busy people and you are doing much for Christ. There is a question I want to ask of you, and of myself-Are we who teachothers sure that we have believed in Christ, ourselves? Are we quite, quite sure that we are saved? It is well to ask thatquestion! It is a very dangerous thing, indeed, for an unsaved man to begin to work for Christ, for the probabilities arethat he will take for granted what he ought diligently to have proved. In many cases he neverwill seek to be saved, but goon, on, on, never pausing to examine himself and so, while professing to work for God, he may be a stranger to the work ofGod on himself! There is an old story I recollect reading somewhere of a lunatic in an asylum, who one day saw a very leancook. Accosting him, he said, "Cook, do you make good food?" "Yes," said the cook. "Are you sure?" "Yes." "And does anybodyget fat on it?" "Yes," again was the reply. "Then," said the man, "you had better mind what you are after, or else when thegovernor comes round, he will put you in along with me, for if you make good food, and yet are so thin yourself, you mustbe mad, for you do not eat it, or else you would get fat, too!" There is some sense in that. You teach others, you say yougive them spiritual food, but why not feed on it yourselves? Master, what right have you to teach if you will not first learn?Physician, physician, heal yourself! Brother, it will go hard with you and with me if we are lost. What will become of usteachers of others if, after having led others to the river, we never drink-after bringing others the heavenly food, we perishof spiritual famine ourselves? I cannot go round to all the members of this Church and all the workers, and take them by thehand and say, "My dear Brother or Sister, be not deceived and do not go on deceiving us." But I sometimes wish I could dothat, and I wish you would take it as done tonight, for there are some awful hypocrites among us! There are some who comein and apparently behave right well, who are nothing better than abominable hypocrites, rotten through and through! And yetin our charity we never suspect them, and if we occasionally discover one, we stand amazed and say, "Lord, shall I be thenext to be a Judas and betray my Master?" There never was a Church in which such hypocrites have not at all times been exposedto view unless they were all in the gall of bitterness together, dead in an empty profession. And then it is no marvel thatthere should be little inclination to exercise discipline. Christ's twelve had a Judas, and all churches must expect to findthe chaff that must be driven away into the fire when the wheat is purged by the great Master's fan. I do beseech you, mydear Brothers and Sisters, let not membership with this Church, or any other Church, assist you in self-delusion, but do-oh,how shall I put it, how shall I put it?-do, before you think about the conversion of other people, see to it that your ownconversion is accomplished! Count yourself no way safe till you hang on that nail! You need not talk to others about trustingin Christ till you have first trusted yourselves!
Out of the many hearers who have listened to me so long, may there not be a great number who though taught in the Doctrineof the Word have never yet been obedient to it? For a man to perish before knowing the Gospel will be a dreary thing. Butfor him to die when he knows the Gospel is something horrible-to be drowned with the life belt within reach! To perish inthe dark, when the light is to be had! To die of famine, like Tantalus, with the golden apples close to one's lips! To perishof thirst with the water gurgling at one's throat! Oh, it will forever be a sound of horror in the lost ones' ears when theyshall hear the echo of the Sabbath bells-if such sounds can penetrate the murky regions where lost spirits dwell-the sound,I say, of the Sabbath bells reminding them of Lord's-Days wasted and neglected! The sound familiar to them when on earth ofthe preacher's voice as he pleaded, entreated, thundered, threatened, wept, begged men to be saved! If there could be silence,there, and all could be forgotten, there might be a lull in the fierce hail-storm of Almighty Wrath! But they can never forget,for it is said, "Son, remember. Son, remember"-and they shall remember that they were called, but would not come, that theywere invited, but declined the feast, that they were instructed, but shut their eyes-that they were wooed, but they hardenedtheir necks and chose their own delusions! Oh, by the mercy of the blessed God, write not your names, my Hearers, among theguilty and terrible multitude!
And may there not be some who come merely as casual hearers now and then, who, instead of gleaning anything that is good outof what we have tried to say, only remember our mistakes, our mannerisms, our faults of gesture or of style? It may be sportto some of you to sit and hear, but it is awful as death for us to stand and preach. I mean, it is no child's play for a manto feel, "I stand in God's place to that people this night, and as though God did beseech them by me, I am to pray them, asin Christ's stead, to be reconciled to God." He that can toy with his ministry and count it to be like a trade, or like anyother profession, was never called of God! But he that has a charge pressing on his heart and a woe ringing in his ears, andpreaches as though he heard the cries of Hell behind him, and saw his God looking down upon him-oh, how that man entreatsthe Lord that his hearers may not hear in vain! Yet, alas, alas, by how many who come to hear, all that is good is forgotten,and only some worthless thing is treasured up? As among those who go to the goldsmith's shop, while one is looking at a pearl,and another admires a ruby, and another would gladly purchase a diamond, there may be an idiot who picks up a coal from thefloor and thinks that shall be his-takes it home with him and blackens his fingers with it, and then goes his way and findsfault with the jeweler who dropped it-so are you foolish people and unwise who are attracted by nothing that is precious inthe Gospel, but are diligent to collect any refusethat drops in the pulpit! Oh, Sirs, if you must find fault with us, do so,and welcome, as much as ever you will, but do not forget that there is the Truth of God in the sentence that if you are tobe saved, you must rest alone upon the work of Jesus! You need saving! You need it tonight! There may never be another occasionon which you may have an opportunity of finding salvation! The opportunity is given to you now. May the Holy Spirit give youthe will as well as the occasion, and may you now say-
"I'll go to Jesus though my sins, Have like a mountain rose! I know His courts, I'll enter in Whatever may oppose. ProstrateI'll lie before His Throne And there my sins confess. I'll tell Him I'm a wretch undone Without His Sovereign Grace." Godbless these words for Jesus' sake.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: ISAIAH 41:1-18.
God enters into a controversy with those who had fallen into the worship of idols.
Verse 1. Keep silence before Me, O islands, and let the people renew their strength. Let them come near, then let them speak:let us come near together to judgment. He challenges them to a debate. He gives them breathing time-bids them prepare themselvesand come with the best arguments that their minds could find.
2, 3. Who raised up the righteous man from the east? Who called him to his feet, gave the nations before him, and made himrule over kings? Who gave them as the dust to his sword, and as driven stubble to his bow? He pursued them, and passed safely;even by the way that he had not gone with his feet Who was it that raised up Cyrus and who made him strong to defeat the foe?Did the false gods do it? Could they claim any share therein? He puts it to them.
4. Who has worked and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the LORD, the first, and with the last, I amHe. Long before Cyrus was born, God thus spoke of him! It is declared what work he should do. What better proof could therebe that God is God? Do the false gods foretell the future? Are their oracles to be depended upon? Yet the Lord's Word is trueand stands fast forever. "I Jehovah, the first, and with the last, I am He."
5, 6. The isles saw it, and feared: the ends of the earth were afraid, drew near and came. They helped, everyone, his neighbor;and everyone said to his brother, Be of good courage. When men fight against God, they get united. What a very sad thing itis that God's children should ever fall out. There is one sin that I never heard charged upon the devils- the sin of disunity.Of all the evil things we have heard, I have never heard that among the principalities of the Pit there has ever been anydivision into sects and parties. Oh, sad that in this respect we should fall short of them! The enemies of God helped everyone,his neighbor, "and everyone said to his brother, Be of good courage."
7. So the carpenter encouraged the goldsmith, and he that smoothes with the hammer, him that smote the anvil, saying, It isready for the soldering. And he fastened it with nails, that it should not be moved. What a sarcastic description of god-makingthis is! There is the carpenter and then the goldsmith to spread the plates of gold over the wood. And then it is solderedand it has to be fastened with nails. The simple facts about the making of gods are sufficient to pour ridicule upon idolatry!God deliver us from idolatry of any shape or form, whether it comes from Rome or Canterbury! May we have no symbol-no visibleobject of worship, whatever-but get rid of all that and before the great invisible Spirit let us bow, worshipping Him in spiritand in truth! For the least touch of the symbolic soon lends on to the idolatrous! And what at the first seemed harmless,soon comes to be so harmful that well does the Law say, "You shall not make unto you any graven image for I, the Lord yourGod, am a jealous God." Oh, to keep clear of this great and heinous sin!
8, 9. But you, Israel, are My servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen. The seed of Abraham, My friend. You whom I have taken fromthe ends of the earth, and called you from the chief men thereof, and said unto you, You are My servant I have chosen you,and not cast you away. The people of Israel were reserved by God that they might worship Him. While other nations went totheir idols, the Israelites were to be His servants, chaste in heart towards Him. It is so with the Lord's believing people.You are elected and selected, chosen and ordained, and set apart. You may fear the Lord and notgive your hearts to any other.May God grant that we may be true to this, our sacred trust. Notice how very sweetly in this text the Lord alludes to Hisfriendship to Abraham, "The seed of Abraham, My friend'" When the Lord makes a friend of a man, He means it, and He keepsup that friendship to His children and His children's children! Happy are they who have a father who is a friend of God! Justas David did good to Mephibosheth for the sake of Jonathan, so, doubtless, many blessings come to the children for the sakeof their parents. The Lord keeps mercy to the third and fourth generation, yes, and throughout all generations to them thatkeep His Covenant.
10. Fear you not, for I am with you. What cause for fear now? If I am with You, you need not fear all the men on earth, norall the demons of the Pit! Fear you not, for I am with you."
10. Be not dismayed: for I am your God. " YourGod." Lay the stress there if you will, or, "your God, therefore your All-SufficientHelper-your Immutable, Faithful, everlasting Friend."
10-12. I will strengthen you: yes, I will help you; yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of My righteousness. Beholdall they that were incensed against you shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they that strive withyou shall perish. You shall seek them and shall not find them, even them that contended with you. They that war against youshall be as nothing, and as a thing of nothing. Go on, then, child of God! All your foes that resist your salvation shalldisappear before your onward march. "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." Advance to meet your cares and God shalltake your cares away. Only be you strong and of a good courage, and rest in the everlasting arm, and you shall be more thana conqueror!
13. 14. For I, the Lord, your God, will hold your right hand, saying unto you, Fear not: I will help you. Fear not, you worm,Jacob. Poor worm! How can it take care of itself? Even a bird can destroy it. "Fear not, you worm, Jacob." You know what aworm does for its defense. It is all that it can do-it hides itself in the earth. Hide yourself in your God! Get you intothe rock and there be hidden till the danger is past. "Fear not, you worm, Jacob."
14. And you men of Israel: I will help you, says the Lord and your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel How many times the Lordputs it, "I will help you"! How again and again He says, "Fear not"! For despondency is deeply engraved in some spirits. Thereare some minds that seem to gravitate that way, again and again, and again-and even the Divine assurances have to be givenrepeatedly before they feel comfort! Have any of you been troubled because your children do not learn the first time you teachthem? See how you are towards your heavenly Father! How many times He has to teach you, line upon line, precept upon precept-herea little and there a little-and if He has patience with our infirmities, we may very readily have patience with the infirmitiesof our little ones!
15. Behold, I will make you a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth. He will make poor feeble worms to be like thatgreat corn-drag which they were accustomed to draw over the straw to bruise out the wheat.
15, 16. You shall thresh the mountains and beat them small, and shall make the hills as chaff You shall fan them and the windshall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them. And you shall rejoice in the LORD, and shall glory in the HolyOne of Israel. Truly, when mountains are beaten into chaff and blown away with the winnowing fan, there is room for rejoicingand magnifying God! If there were no difficulties, there would be no victories! If we had no trials, we should have no testsof Jehovah's strength! But out of our afflictions we get our joys. The deeper our sorrows, the higher our exultations whenGod helps us through them.
17 When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue fails for thirst, I, the LORD, will hear them.I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. What a blessed promise that is! God thinks of poor and needy men. When they arein their greatest extremity, with nothing to quench their thirst, and they are ready to die, then He is pleased to make therocks run with rivers in order that they may be supplied.
18. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water,and the dry land springs of water.