Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
Again the word of the LORD of hosts came to me, saying,Work and Play
I shall set play in a threefold light: I. In the light of work. II. In the light of the Gospel. III. In the light of heaven.
I. Play in the Light of Work.—What is the difference between work and play? It is not in the things we do so much that the real difference between work and play is found: it is in the spirit in which the thing is done. And can we distinguish that difference of spirit? I do not suppose that it was ever better done than by that great thinker and poet, Horace Bushnell. 'Work,' he said, 'is activity for an end, and play is activity as an end;' and if we think of that we shall find the depth of it. In other words, back of our work is duty, back of our work is hunger, back of it is constraint But back of play there is no force like that. It is labour, but in the labour there is liberty.
II. Play in the Light of the Gospel.—I think we will all admit that we owe to Christ the dignity of labour. Did you ever think of this, that the Gospel of Jesus has dignified our play? Yet the one is just as true as the other. I mean that, in the Gospel view of man, there is such compass, there is such wisdom, there is such compassion, that the element of play comes to its own again. I have read of that great saint Borromeo, that while engaged with some friends in a game of chess, the question was started what they would do if they knew that they were to die within the hour. 'I would go on with my game,' replied Borromeo. And that is the true spirit of the Master. Even a game of chess can be illumined, brought into line with the great purpose of life, and made to echo with the praise of God.
Do you think it a mere figure of speech that we talk of the waters playing on the shore, or of the wind playing among the trees, or of the sunlight playing on the grass? These words are real, penetrative. For the creative work of the Infinite is play. It is. not task-work. It is the outcome of love, of liberty, of superabundant, everlasting life. And hence the irresistible conviction witnessed in human speech, of the play-element in the handiwork of God.
III. Play in the Light of Heaven.—What is your first thought of heaven. The first thing that we think of heaven is rest. Do you really think it will be that? And do you really think that you will want that? Consider.
For us all there comes the Friday night Our week of school is done. God's discipline is over. We lay aside our pencils and our books. And we are wearied with the stress of it, and we cry out, 'O God, to be at rest!' And so we fall asleep. Then dawns the Saturday, the everlasting Sabbath, and we awake, and Jesus Christ is there. And every faculty is full of being, and every part is wondrously expanded; and we are quivering, inspired with life, and we do not want to rest: we want to serve, and the service of eternity is play! For here we must be driven to service, but yonder to serve will be our very joy.—G. H. Morrison, Flood-Tide, p. 115.
References.—VIII. 5.—B. D. Johns, Pulpit Notes, p. 29. VIII. 6.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxix. No. 1747. VIII. 9, 13.—T. Parr, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lviii. 1900, p. 74. VIII. 12 and 16.—C. Silvester Home, ibid. vol. lxi. 1902, p. 382. VIII. 13.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. ix. No. 543; vol. liii. No. 3045. VIII. 17.—J. Parker, Studies in Texts, vol. i. p. 159. VIII. 19.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxviii. No. 2248. 'Plain Sermons' by contributors to the Tracts for the Times, vol. x. p. 239. J. H. Newman, Sermons Bearing on Subjects of the Day, p. 431. W. Percival Ward, Love the Truth and Peace. VIII. 21.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xix. No. 1107. IX.—Ibid. vol. 1. No. 2883. IX. 9.—Ibid. vol. xxxi. No. 1861. C. Holland, Gleanings from a Ministry of Fifty Years, p. 34. IX. 10.—A. Rowland, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlvii. 1895, p. 360. IX. 11.—T. A. Gurney, The Living Lord and the Opened Grave, p. 1. IX. 11, 12.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xlix. No. 2839; vol. 1. No. 2883. IX. 12.—T. A. Gurney, The Living Lord and the Opened Grave, p. 37.—C. J. Vaughan, Last Words in the Parish Church of Doncaster, p. 54. IX. 17.—F. E. Paget, Faculties and Difficulties for Belief and Unbelief, p. 86. W. H. Hutchings, Plain Instructive Sermons on Holy Communion, p. 65. J. M. Neale, Sermons on the Blessed Sacrament, p. 35. H. Ward Beecher, Sermons, p. 119. X. 1.—J. M. Neale, Sermons on the Prophets, vol. ii. p. 181. X. 6.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xliv. No. 2588.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I was jealous for her with great fury.
Thus saith the LORD; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age.
And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it also be marvellous in mine eyes? saith the LORD of hosts.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country;
And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Let your hands be strong, ye that hear in these days these words by the mouth of the prophets, which were in the day that the foundation of the house of the LORD of hosts was laid, that the temple might be built.
For before these days there was no hire for man, nor any hire for beast; neither was there any peace to him that went out or came in because of the affliction: for I set all men every one against his neighbour.
But now I will not be unto the residue of this people as in the former days, saith the LORD of hosts.
For the seed shall be prosperous; the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things.
And it shall come to pass, that as ye were a curse among the heathen, O house of Judah, and house of Israel; so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing: fear not, but let your hands be strong.
For thus saith the LORD of hosts; As I thought to punish you, when your fathers provoked me to wrath, saith the LORD of hosts, and I repented not:
So again have I thought in these days to do well unto Jerusalem and to the house of Judah: fear ye not.
These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates:
And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith the LORD.
And the word of the LORD of hosts came unto me, saying,
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love the truth and peace.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities:
And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts: I will go also.
Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.