Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed;The Boasting Axe
What would be the result if we had amongst us through and through a most hearty and loyal and loving reception of the great doctrine of Divine sovereignty, the great doctrine that all things are settled and decreed and arranged.
I. If we could really believe these elementary truths we should have a great unit in society. Man did not make society, and man cannot destroy it; man did not make mystery, and man cannot solve it, unless by God's enlightenment and special permission.
Out of this acceptance of the Divine sovereignty comes a grand religious brotherhood, as well as a deep satisfaction and noble peace. God did it all.
II. We must have a sceptre, a throne, a king. We as Christian students and believers have accepted the idea that God reigns, and by God we mean the loving, personal, redeeming God, the God incarnate in Christ Jesus, the God of Bethlehem, of Calvary, and of Olivet; the priest God, who loved us, who gave His Son to save us. That is what we believe; and, believing that, out of it comes a whole philosophy of daily life, of social responsibility, and of all manner of well-regulated and harmonic action. Now which is the greater—for we must have great and small; these distinctions are not of our own making—which is the greater, I will ask you, the man who wrote the book—being Paradise Lost or Homer's Iliad—the man who wrote the book or the man who bound it? I wonder if you could constitute yourselves into a committee and appoint a sub-committee in order to return an answer to that inquiry? Which had the greater mind, judging both men from the evidence that is accessible? The one man wrote the book, the other man bound it; the book has achieved universal and imperishable fame, and the bookbinder has—been paid. Which is the greater? oh, tell me! the picture or the frame-maker? If I could invite you to a grand exhibition of all the paintings of the year, and if I could also ask you to attend a complete exhibition of all the frames that have been made during the year, to which exhibition would you go? But is not one man as good as another? Why not go and see the frames? they are all gilt, and they are all shapely, and they are all made by very expert and efficient workmen; now will you go to see the pictures or the frames? I need not wait more than one moment; you have answered before the question was put. There is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth him understanding. You want the pictures, the genius, the flame pentecostal, the mystery of harmony, perspective, colour, the silent oratorio.
Let us beware of second causes in providence, let us beware of second causes in religion, and let us beware of second causes in destiny; and let us accept the old, old doctrine of the sovereignty of God, and when we are in darkness let us seek the altar, the Cross, and pray.
References.—X. 15.—S. Martin, Sermons, p. 85. X. 17.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—Isaiah, p. 55. X. 20-23.—V. S. S. Coles, Advent Meditations on Isaiah, p. 84.
To turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless!
And what will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation which shall come from far? to whom will ye flee for help? and where will ye leave your glory?
Without me they shall bow down under the prisoners, and they shall fall under the slain. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.
O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation.
I will send him against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.
Howbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so; but it is in his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a few.
For he saith, Are not my princes altogether kings?
Is not Calno as Carchemish? is not Hamath as Arpad? is not Samaria as Damascus?
As my hand hath found the kingdoms of the idols, and whose graven images did excel them of Jerusalem and of Samaria;
Shall I not, as I have done unto Samaria and her idols, so do to Jerusalem and her idols?
Wherefore it shall come to pass, that when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks.
For he saith, By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom; for I am prudent: and I have removed the bounds of the people, and have robbed their treasures, and I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man:
And my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the people: and as one gathereth eggs that are left, have I gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved the wing, or opened the mouth, or peeped.
Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith? or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? as if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself, as if it were no wood.
Therefore shall the Lord, the Lord of hosts, send among his fat ones leanness; and under his glory he shall kindle a burning like the burning of a fire.
And the light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame: and it shall burn and devour his thorns and his briers in one day;
And shall consume the glory of his forest, and of his fruitful field, both soul and body: and they shall be as when a standardbearer fainteth.
And the rest of the trees of his forest shall be few, that a child may write them.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth.
The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God.
For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them shall return: the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness.
For the Lord GOD of hosts shall make a consumption, even determined, in the midst of all the land.
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD of hosts, O my people that dwellest in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrian: he shall smite thee with a rod, and shall lift up his staff against thee, after the manner of Egypt.
For yet a very little while, and the indignation shall cease, and mine anger in their destruction.
And the LORD of hosts shall stir up a scourge for him according to the slaughter of Midian at the rock of Oreb: and as his rod was upon the sea, so shall he lift it up after the manner of Egypt.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.
He is come to Aiath, he is passed to Migron; at Michmash he hath laid up his carriages:
They are gone over the passage: they have taken up their lodging at Geba; Ramah is afraid; Gibeah of Saul is fled.
Lift up thy voice, O daughter of Gallim: cause it to be heard unto Laish, O poor Anathoth.
Madmenah is removed; the inhabitants of Gebim gather themselves to flee.
As yet shall he remain at Nob that day: he shall shake his hand against the mount of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem.
Behold, the Lord, the LORD of hosts, shall lop the bough with terror: and the high ones of stature shall be hewn down, and the haughty shall be humbled.
And he shall cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, and Lebanon shall fall by a mighty one.