And I met my face unto the Lord God.
1. There must be great difficulties to the proper and effectual seeking after God. Some things we do without difficulty; our mind goes naturally and easily to their performance. Before man's fall, his mind would as naturally turn to God rejoice in Him, and be lifted up towards Him, as he now delights in a bright and glorious day. It is not so now. It is a very difficult matter set ourselves rightly to seek God. Man cannot seek God aright unless the power of God works in him to bring him to do it. How can any bring a broken and a contrite heart, which is the proper offering before God, unless God the Spirit break it? Do we naturally give up sin, or naturally wish to do it? Is it easy to confess our sins, to find them out, to ascertain them, whether sins of the heart or life? Try earnestly and honestly to seek God, and you will soon find the difficulty. Various hindrances indeed there are, in coming to the Mercy Seat.
2. Multitudes are ever seeking God who do not set their faces to seek. Scripture is clear respecting wavers. There are many persons of this kind, earnest to-day, dead again to-morrow; by fits at prayer, and then prayerless again. Such obtain nothing of the Lord. Others, though seeking, will not give up every wilful sin. Who can he a Christian without a sacrifice? Who can enter the strait gate without a struggle? You seek in vain if you allow a worldly spirit; unless you come to God, and honestly and earnestly wish to have the love of the world destroyed in your heart. There is one way of approach to God, and but one; one name and one only to plead — the name of Jesus Christ.
3. Some hints on the setting of our face unto the Lord our God. You must give time for this. There must be going to work in right earnest; diligent inquiry for the sins of the life, and for the sins of the heart, and a confessing them with real sorrow before God. There must be, from the beginning of our seeking, a looking for, and a reliance upon, God's help. And we may look for His help. The first honest and sincere cry or sigh of a returning sinner is noticed by a gracious God. That cry never goes up for help in vain.
4. The importance of thus "setting our face unto the Lord God to seek." Remember that we cannot succeed without this. Think of the blessings which God bestows upon those who thus seek, what wonderful promises He has made to them. They deserve all such seeking and sacrifices as we have shown to be needful. You are commanded thus to seek God. God's commands are the most gracious and beneficent things to us that there are.
5. Special reasons which may be given to different individuals why they should at once resolvedly, looking up to God for help, do this:(1) Those who have never yet thus "set their face unto the Lord God" Your eternal happiness depends upon your seeking, or your everlasting perdition.(2) Turn to some Christians. Some of you are hindered by something in your course. If you would follow Daniel's example you might be freed from this hindrance. Again, someone is in a particular strait and difficulty. Does no door open? Is the way dark? Have recourse to thus seeking to God. Go to this duty at once. It must be done now. Let there be no delay. Begin now, earnestly, resolvedly, in prayer and dependence of God's merciful help, and the result shall not be an early failure or disappointment. God will help the soul at its first really sincere and honest cry to Him for help.
(J. E. Dalton, B.D.)
(Brooke Herford, D.D.)
1. The prayer itself was just expressing or embodying in language the state of Daniel's mind as directed towards an object, in the accomplishment of which he felt a most intense interest. The believer never can, without belying his principles, deliberately desire anything that he knows to be contrary to the will, and inconsistent with the glory of God. He supplicates conditionally — so qualifying his petition as that it may be given him, if agreeable to his Maker's will, or conducive to the manifestation of his Maker's glory. But, if true to his principles, he never can cease vehemently to desire what he does know to be accordant with the will, and subservient to the glory of God.
2. With regard to the rank which Daniel's prayer occupied among the various agencies or means that were to be employed in bringing about the object of it, he had good reason to believe that it was neither without a definite place nor in itself devoid of efficacy. Daniel knew that the event for which he longed and prayed necessarily involved in it the spiritual amendment of Judah. He saw that the return of their heart to God was essential to their triumphant return to the land of their fathers; and he felt, therefore, that humiliation and confession of sin was not only a becoming exercise in him at such a moment, but, in reality, a fulfilment in part of the very promise in which he confided. The agency of prayer is indeed a less obvious and palpable thing than that outward co-operation, whereby mankind are rendered subservient to the accomplishment of the Divine purposes. But is it not an agency of an unspeakably loftier character? Is it not the co-operation of an immortal spirit, hearing the impress of the Divine image, and at the moment acting in unison with the Divine will? By some such views of prayer I would endeavour to remove the difficulties of those who may have been perplexed by subtle speculations on the place which it occupies, and the efficacy which belongs to it in the economy of grace; difficulties which, in reality, have nothing more to do with prayer than with anything else connected with human agency.
(R. Gordon, D.D.)
I. Lot us name SOME OF OUR MERCIES, PRIVILEGES AND OPPORTUNITIES.
1. Take into view our national heritage — its locality, extent, richness, and abounding resources — unparalleled in the history of nations.
2. Our Providential history. Our ancestral stock, Puritan, Huguenot, etc. Our wondrous growth and development. God's special interpositions, as in war.
3. The character of our institutions. A free ballot, a free Bible.
II. Let US NOT OVERLOOK OUR PERILS, for they are many and imminent.
1. The decadence of personal integrity and public morality.
2. The rapid influx of a foreign and alien element.
3. The enormous growth and corrupting influence of our great cities.
4. The increasing prevalence of vice, pauperism, and crime throughout the land.
5. The grasping policy and overshadowing influence of combinations and monopolies.
6. The growing alienation of the great labouring class from the Church and from Christianity.
7. The audacity and strength of the Rum Power, allied with corruption in politics, to legalise the traffic in making drunkards, and in gambling on race-courses, and to keep in office disreputable and wicked men in many of our leading cities.
(J. M. Sherwood, D.D.)
is often miconceived in all churches and by all parties.
1. The end of prayer, offered in private, is not to inform God. Many persons pray as if they wish to tell God what God does not know.
2. Prayer is not loud speaking, or much speaking, or any one special form whatever.
3. Prayer is not prescribed in the Scripture, or offered by a true believer, in order to work any change in God.
4. We must not associate prayer with any idea of atonement or expiation.
5. Some persons give up all hope, because God does not hear them. They say, "Our prayers are so mixed with wandering and simple thoughts, and are so imperfect that we cannot pray aright." This implies a lingering notion that our prayers are expiatory, or a title to Heaven.
6. We must not pray, "to be seen of men."
7. Prayer is not to be an excuse or apology for the neglect of duties.
8. It is not an exercise suited merely to a great crisis.
9. Prayer should be addressed unto God, as our Father; and in the name and through the mediation of Christ; and in the strength and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
(John Cumming, D.D.)
(Joseph A. Seiss, D.D.)
With fasting, and sackcloth and ashes
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Calvin remarks that Daniel, though naturally alert in prayer to God, was yet conscious of the want of sufficiency in himself; and hence be adds the use of sackcloth and ashes and fasting. He observes that everyone conscious of his infirmity ought to collect all the aids he can command for the correction of his sluggishness, and thus to stimulate himself to ardour in supplicating God.
(Nat. Meeres, B.D.)
Neither have we harkened unto thy servants the prophets.
I. SOME FACTS CONNECTED WITH THE PROPHETICAL ORDER. It was a class distinct from the priestly class. Their schools. The prophets were the founders of the seminaries of religion, learning, and philosophy, in which a class of men of cultivated minds and of holy hearts were raised up to influence their fellow-men. By the "sons of the prophets" we are to understand not children, but disciples. Samuel seems to have been the first tutor of these colleges.
2. How were the prophets called? It was not a matter of course, that because a man had been in a collegiate establishment, therefore he should be a prophet of God. God has never tied up His influence, never restricted His grace to any institutions of man, however wise and reasonable they may be. Thus Amos says — "I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son." The Divine call was very discriminating.
3. The customs of the prophets. They were known by their costume. A garment of the coarsest sort — haircloth, and sometimes sackcloth. These were the signs of mourning; and they wore that attire to indicate their grief at the transgressions of the people. They were remarkable in their diet. Their deportment was very reserved and solemn.
4. The nature of their ministry. Their oral addresses were, no doubt, abundant. They addressed the multitude as popular preachers. And they sometimes acted parables. Their written predictions were a third part of their ministry. They were the historians of the church and nation of the Jews.
II. SOME REASONS WHY THE MINISTRY OF THE PROPHETS WAS ORDAINED.
1. It was partly to counteract the tendencies of an established priesthood. Under priesthoods men are in great danger of losing all view of the spiritual and moral part of their office, and sinking down into that which is merely ceremonial and ritual. The prophets often arraign the priests — often charge upon them, in very plain end faithful terms, their wickedness. Morality must ever take the lead of ceremonial institutions. God regards obedience rather than sacrifice.
2. They were to enforce the authority of the Divine law. No man can acheive anything great in reference to his fellow-men who has not first achieved the conquest of himself. The prophets were men who had learned to deny themselves, and then men who had seen visions of eternity.
3. To correct the tendency of the people to trust in heathen oracles.
4. To excite the hope of the Divine mercy in the minds of the people.
III. THE SUBJECTS INCLUDED IN THE MINISTRATIONS OF THE PROPHETS.
1. They embrace the whole social condition of the Jews during five hundred years. We say that history is the key to prophecy; but prophecy amongst the Jews was the key to history.
2. They were employed to announce the judicial visitations that should come upon the heathen.
3. A third class of subjects was a description of the Christian dispensation, as it should be set up by Messiah.
Neither have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God.
I. GOD HAS SPOKEN TO US. Daniel speaks of "the voice of the Lord our God." So Paul — "God, who spake in time past unto the fathers," etc., "hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son." And he exhorts us not to "refuse Him who speaketh from heaven." The meaning is a direct communication. Not mere intimations — as by sign, works — leaving us to collect inferences. The Scriptures are — by the inspiration by which they were given — the actual voice of God to us, on all the subjects to which they refer. Fully realise the solemn truth — The great and dreadful God hath spoken to us.
II. "BY HIS SERVANTS THE PROPHETS, HE HATH SET HIS LAWS BEFORE US." Here is the purpose of His voice. Man is distinguished from all other earthly creatures by his moral capacities and faculties. He is thus made in the image of God. Constituted God's subject. Bound by the will of God; that will, expressed, is the Divine law. This is done in Scripture. Its principles, its prohibitions, its requirements; by direct precept, by larger explanation, in various examples, are there set before us — as the law of God, the sanctioned expression of His will.
III. THIS VOICE "WE HAVE NOT OBEYED." Speak not now of our natural condition — our fallen nature. We have followed our own inclinations; and the action has been as the originating principle.
IV. WE ARE THUS GUILTY OF REBELLION. God is our Sovereign. We have, as to our hearts and lives, sought to dethrone Him. We have refused to His law its just supremacy. Other lords have thus had dominion over us.
V. FOR THIS REASON, "CONFUSION OF FACE BELONGS TO US." Shame one of our natural emotions. Called for by humbling sense of real impropriety and wrong. We may be hardened; we may mix ourselves with the general mass; still, rightly viewed, sin is a shameful thing. When Divine light is received and obeyed, we feel our personal guilt. We have no excuse.
VI. NEVERTHELESS, " TO THE LORD OUR GOD BELONG MERCIES AND FORGIVENESS." It is a fact — not merely good to the obedient, but long-suffering to the guilty. His words reveal it as a perfection of His nature. Describes the wisdom that has devised means for its fitting and consistent exercise. God is merciful, and it is in Christ. Pardon may be had — it is through Christ. The wickedness of sin. It is rebellion against a sovereignty of purity, wisdom, love.
To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses.
1. Mercy, the essential character of His nature. Forgiveness, the gratuitous product and expression of His gracious will. Mercy in the Father's self, for He is the a Father of mercie." Forgiveness for the sake of His Son, the Mediator. Mercy in the ordinary course of Providence; and forgiveness upon the terms and covenant of grace. Consider, then, what a gracious God we have to do with, whose very nature and being consists of mercies and forgivenesses. Let us fill our souls with a reciprocal love and answerable affections to the Lord our God. 'Tis this mercy of our God that makes Him God: and 'tis this mercy of His that should oblige us to His service, and make Him our God.
2. What less could be expected from a merciful God than this, that He should forgive sins? This is the special instance of mercy, that He is a God forgiving sins, and pardoning iniquities. Let us assure ourselves that what mercy we find at His hands, as we are His creatures, the same forgiveness we shall obtain of Him as we are His redeemed' ones.
(Adam Littleton, D.D.)
Exodus 34:7.) (Isaiah 55:7) (Acts 13:38, 39.) To estimate forgiveness rightly, its need must be distinctly seen. It will be poorly prized, unless its value be weighed in balances of truth. What, then, is forgiveness as appertaining unto sin? It is remission of due penalties, the obliteration of incurred guilt, the withdrawal of just displeasure, the blotting out of accusing handwriting, the burying all offences in oblivion, the hushing of the loud thunder of the law, the cancelling of its tremendous curse, the consigning to a sheath the sword of justice. It is the frown of Jehovah softening into eternal smiles. It encounters sin, and strips it of its destroying power. Hence evidently forgiveness implies that sin has preceded. Where no offence exists, no pardon can be needed; they cannot be restored whose feet are always in right paths. Thus we reach the fundamental position that sin gives occasion for forgiveness. Sin is the need which calls for its intervention.
I. Sin's essence. What constitutes its character? No unanswerable question is here asked as to the parent of its birth; here is no search into its originating cause. The simple inquiry is, Where is its sphere of work, and what is its distinctive nature? Scripture states in terms intelligible and incontrovertible, "Sin is the transgression of the law." (1 John 3:4.) God, as supreme in all His universe, fixes His mode of government. This essence appears in frightful enormity when the purport of this law is viewed. The sum of its requirements is worthy of the great Lawgiver. In Divine simplicity it only requires love. The whole inward man must be bright in one complexion — love. Any deviation from this course constitutes sin. This sublimity brightly shows the origin of the law to be Divine. As a mirror it reflects Jehovah's excellence; it is the transcript of His glorious being; it is holiness on its highest throne; it is purity in its loveliest form; it is perfection without one alloy. How abominable, then, is that principle which hates and resists such code, and strives to crush it beneath insulting steps! It follows that the need of forgiveness is universal, for sin exercises a sway coextensive with all human life. It grasps each mother's son in its vile arms, and stays not its assaults while time endures.
II. This need becomes more apparent as advance is made from sin's essence to some of its developments. Here it appears a many-headed hydra, a fiend of various forms. Its outbreak towards God, towards the soul within, towards the world around, betray it.(1) Let diverse instances show its conduct towards God. Its feelings may be thus classed. Alienation. Whatever departs from God's rule departs from Himself. Contrariety to His law separates from His mind. Disinclination to His will moves altogether in an adverse course. Hatred. "The carnal mind" — and every mind is such in which the Spirit dwells not — "is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." (Romans 8:7.) Sin has strong inclinations, and they all are arrayed against His righteous ways. It has ungodly bias towards the abominable things which God hates. Contempt. With haughty look it sneers at sacred precepts. It scorns them as weak precision. It spurns the restrictions of godly walk as derogatory to man's liberty. Defiance. It raises an insulting head. It braves displeasure. It ridicules all penal consequences. Rebellion. It shivers the yoke. It breaks restraining bands. It ignores submission. Treason. It enters into conspiracy with all Heaven's foes. It joins hands with every adversary. Robbery. God, as Sovereign, has a right to exact obedience. Sin defrauds Him of this due. Such, and many more, are the developments of sin in reference to God. Thus the position is established, that vast is the need of vast forgiveness.(2) The picture darkens when the developments of sin in reference to the soul are seen. It changes this garden of the Lord into a waste howling wilderness. Fragrant flowers cease to bloom; thorns and briars usurp their place. It dims the noblest jewel of God's creation.(3) The case assumes more frightful hue when sin's inroads on the world around is added. Doubtless sin is inborn. It is an hereditary disease; the seeds of every evil are innate in each heart. Unaided by contagion it would universally exist; but yet by contact, influence, example, it multiplies, and becomes more rampant. A spark from without kindles the dry stubble; bad men wax worse by bad fellowship. To the forgiveness of sins attention now reverts. The subject justly claims large share of pious thought. Angels may gaze and marvel, but they have no experience of its joys; for none of that pure company exult in pardon. It is the heartfelt property of the redeemed.
I. Sin's guilt. Guilt is that property of sin which links it to God's wrath. It constitutes its criminality, and forbids immunity. That sin has this property is clear; it stands confessedly a convict. It cannot plead that it is guiltless; therefore avowedly it merits punishment. Thus in reference to God it has been proved to be alienation, hatred, contempt, defiance, robbery, treason, rebellion. Can such be its guilty state; can it evidently work havoc throughout all creation, and shall God sit indifferent, as though He saw no evil? The very thought strips Him of the glories of His holiness. Righteousness is no more righteous, if it withholds the righteous condemnation, Truth lies low in ignominious steams, if the words be not fulfilled, "The wages of sin is death." (Romans 6:23.) Thus the guilty cannot be screened as guiltless. Doubtless God is rich in His mercy; His mercy endureth for ever; His mercy reacheth unto the heavens. "To the Lord our God belong mercies." But mercy cannot annihilate the attributes which sit as conquerors on the glorious throne. It lives co-equal with them. Its delight is to exalt, to magnify, to glorify them. Who now can fail to feel that the guilty sinner needs mercies and forgivenesses? Let the page of experience be next read. It is written throughout with testimony that tremendous indications of Divine displeasure pursue guilt. Amid sweet rays of mercy striving to break forth, big drops of wrath often descend. The present aspect of earth is mournfully significant; the whole creation groans and travails together. Tears and sighs and anguish in multiform misery tell what sin has brought into this earth; sufferings and agony point to their prolific parent. Thus the wide spread of misery proves that the guilt of sin awakens just displeasure. Mark, next, the terrors of conscience when aroused from apathetic slumber by the Spirit. See the man awakened to the real perils of a guilty state. He is brought into a new world, where all is dismay. The past cannot be recalled; the present must move onward; the future cannot be escaped. In what mirror are these terrors seen? Surely in the mirror of sin's guilt. Conscience, in the Spirit's light, convicts of sin. Guilt is its inseparable companion; vengeance from Heaven closely follows. The awakened conscience knows this and quakes. Annals of the past confirm this statement; they exhibit terrific outbreaks of Divine wrath. Let the old world toll its awful tale. Its wickedness exceeded all that is denounced as wicked; its trespass grew up unto the heavens. Enormity of evil cried aloud, and enormity of vengeance slumbered not. Thus far the guilt of sin has been viewed, as exhibited in time, and as endured on the little space of this passing scene. But sin's results end not with earth's brief moment.
II. Sin's final doom now meets us. Scripture abounds in warnings; their plainness is only equalled by their awe; their terrors are all faithfulness and truth. They speak loudly that men may ponder and recaps. (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9) (Romans 2:8, 9) Such are the penalties to which its guilt is righteously amenable. Such is its sure condemnation. It will be happy if through this dreary passage a glorious prospect is attained. It will be so to all who now clasp to grateful hearts the good news "To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against Him." Let, then, the reviving truth now have free course and be glorified. A remedy is provided. A refuge is erected. Let the tidings be devoutly prized, "Christ has suffered the just for the unjust." In Him all manner of sin is forgiven to the children of men.. Let men be wise to seek in an accepted time this inestimable gift. Let not the only hope be slighted. It shines in Christ and in Christ alone. He is the treasure-house in which forgiveness is stored.
The Evangelist.I. OUR FIRST VIEWS ARE VIEWS OF GUILT. Man is a rebellious subject, inasmuch as:
1. We have refused tribute. Tribute, as it respects human governments, is the sum raised, for their support. As it respects the government of God, it implies merely the homage rendered to its validity and glory.
2. We have disobeyed the law. Both the precepts and the prohibitions. In our thoughts, in our conversation, in our behaviour. We have committed sins against ourselves, against our fellow-creatures, and against our God.
3. We have abetted the enemy. He who committeth sin is of the devil, that is, he resembles him, and serves him.
II. OUR SECOND VIEWS ARE VIEWS OF MERCY. God is a merciful and forgiving Sovereign. The term mercies would be too general. In the term of forgiveness there is something specific.
1. Consider what we sometimes observe, and what we never fail to admire, among mortals. Is it not the display of compassion, forbearance, and generosity? Shall God sink in the comparison?
2. Consider the Divine precepts.
3. Consider the Divine assurances. Happy for us that they are too numerous to be recounted.
4. Consider the mediation of Jesus Christ.
5. Consider experience and fact. Believer in Jesus Christ, much more art thou a witness.
Cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate.I. THE STATE OF THE CHURCH WHEN DANIEL WROTE WAS ONE OF RUIN AND DESOLATION. Jerusalem, the city of God. was desolate and without inhabitant, and the temple, which was the dwelling-place of the mysterious glory, was desolate. The whole nation and the whole church had gone into captivity. But does God ever forsake His people, or desert His church? The promise of God, on which the church of Israel was founded, was made to Abraham, and it was an unconditional promise. This promise was strengthened and confirmed by an oath. Such being the promise of God on which the church was founded, it is evident he could not utterly forsake His church. He might, for wise reasons, withdraw His countenance for a season from it. But the undisturbed possession of the land of Canaan, and safety from all their enemies round about them in that land — all these were no part of the original promise to Abraham. They were in a subsequent promise; a conditional promise — a promise on the condition of obedience. Wherever these temporal blessings are alluded to, it is always connected with this condition of obedience. God never suffered His truth or His faithfulness to fail. God sent His people into captivity. They had sinned; they ,were disobedient. God will never forsake His people, but for their sins He will suffer them to lose all their temporal prosperity. Our only remedy against such judgments is that of Daniel — going like him before God, humbling ourselves in His sight, confessing our sins, and asking forgiveness.
II. THE CHARACTER OF THE PRAYER OF THE PROPHET. It is characterised by a deep sense of sin, a most bumble acknowledgment of the sinfulness of the nation and of the church; and although the prayer has general reference to Israel as a nation, it is impossible to read it without feeling that the prophet is also confessing his own sins while he confesses the sins of the people. Here is a spirit of heartfelt penitence, a spirit of confession, a full and ample acknowledgment that all the captivity of the nation, and all the desolation of the church, ware fully and amply deserved. He also acknowledged that God's dealings had been all foretold and forewarned, and, therefore, the sins were sins against light and knowledge and warning, and thus the judgment of God was consistent with all the justice of God and faithfulness to His own word. In the prophet's prayer there is also a spirit of deep humility, deep self-abasement, and at the same time an earnest spirit of pleading with God, that he would spare, and pity, and restore, the church of Israel. And if we plead the righteousness of God as Daniel did, we shall never plead in vain. Ask what you will, it shall be granted .... There is an impressive lesson to us in connection with the general history of Israel. We ought to think a little of the blessings, and consider a little the sins, of our own nation of England, and our own Church of England.
(M. Hobart Seymour, M.A.)
I. First, then, Daniel speaks of THE HOLY PLACE: "thy sanctuary." Of course, he refers to the temple at Jerusalem, which was then in utter ruin. It had been broken down and burned by the Chaldeans; and Daniel, therefore, rightly calls it desolate, but fervently prays that God would cause His face to shine even upon its ruins. My first remark is, that the temple at Jerusalem was typical of the Church of God. So we learn that, as the temple was typical, so also it was unique. There was but one temple, and there is but one Church. The temple at Jerusalem was, further, the fabric of wisdom. It could only have been built by a Solomon; and Solomon found a band of men, whom God had prepared to carry out the extraordinary work of the temple; for, from its marvellous foundations, which have been lately uncovered, even to its topmost pinnacle, it excelled all the architecture which the world had ever seen. But the Church, which God is erecting, is a far more wonderful work of a wisdom infinitely superior to that of Solomon. When it shall be all finished, it will be the marvel of all intelligences as they see what a matchless sanctuary God, and not man, has reared, and note how, in every single detail, His infinite wisdom is manifest. The temple that Solomon built was also the result of great cost. Immense wealth was lavished upon it; and you do not need that I should try to tell you at what cost the Lord is building up His true sanctuary here among men. The cost of any one of us, if we are indeed living stones, no arithmetic can ever calculate. Again, the temple, of old, was the shrine of God's indwelling. It was the one place, under the old dispensation of types, now done away with, where God dwelt in visible manifestation amongst his ancient people. We are told that a peculiar light shone between the wings of the cherubim over the ark of the covenant, and from that pillar, which looked like a cloud by day, and flamed like a mighty beacon by night. It was there that men must go, or, at least, to that spot that they must look, if they sought the Lord; and therefore it was that Daniel worshipped and prayed with his windows open towards Jerusalem. At the present time, the one place, in all the world, where God dwells, is His Church. You can find Him anywhere upon the earth as the Creator; but the glory of the Godhead comes out most brilliantly in redemption, for it is of His redeemed people that it is written, "I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." The temple at Jerusalem was also the place of God's peculiar worship; and where is God worshipped now but in His living Church? The temple at Jerusalem was also the throne of Jehovah's power. It was out of Zion that He sent forth His rod; and from that sacred shrine that He spoke, by His ancient prophets, the Word that was full of power. Who could stand against Him when He was angry, and spoke in His fury out of His holy place? And Christ's power, through the Holy Ghost, still goes forth from His Church.
II. Now, secondly, I must speak upon THE EARNEST PRAYER: "Cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary." And, first, I note that it is a prayer quite free from selfishness. Daniel does not even say to the Lord," Cause thy face to shine upon me." Have not you sometimes felt that you could almost forego the light of God's countenance yourself if He would but bless His Church? Further, Daniel's prayer was the child of thought. He had thought over the condition of the temple at Jerusalem; and, thinking over it, he had become troubled in hie mind. It was lying desolate, but he knew that there was a promise that it should be rebuilt. He thought over these two things; he let his soul lie a-soak in the truth about God's sanctuary, and then he prayed. It was also, a prayer which cast itself entirely upon God: "Cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary." He does not say, "Lord, send more prophets"; or, "Raise up new kings"; or, "Do this or that"; but only, "Cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary." Oh, that we might learn how to pray so that God should be the subject as well as the object of our supplications! O God, thy Church needs thee above everything else! There was also great faith in this prayer: "Cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary." Daniel seems to say, "Lord, it scarcely needs thy command, it only wants thee to smile upon thy sanctuary, and all shall be well." But, Daniel, the temple is all in ruins. "Ah!" saith he, "that is true; but, Lord, cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary." The face of God is as the sun when it shineth in its strength. The favour of God is not merely something to His Church, but it is everything; the revelation of His love to Hie people is not simply a blessing, but it is all the blessings of the covenant in one. It was, however, a very comprehensive prayer; because, wherever God's face shines upon His Church, note what happens. First, her walls are rebuilt. Desolations, when God shines upon them, glow into perfection. When the Lord shines upon a church, then its worship will be acceptable unto Him; even the humblest form of it will he acceptable in His sight. Then, too, truth will be proclaimed in all its clearness. We shall not have to complain of the cloudy preaching of which we hear so much nowadays. Then, too, we shall see the beauty of holiness in all the members of God's spiritual Church. O Lord, cause thy face to shine upon thy Church, that all thy people may walk in the beauty of holiness! Then, also, there will be delightful fellowship. And, then, there will be power in the testimony. With God's face shining upon His sanctuary, His Word goes forth from His servants with energy and force which none can resist. Join in this prayer. Do it for the Church's own sake. Join in this prayer also for the world's sake. If the Church has not the Lord to shine upon her, what is the poor world to do? And, then, for God's sake, for Christ's sake, for the Holy Spirit's sake, for a lifeless church is a dishonour to God.
III. THE CONDUCT THAT IS CONSISTENT WITH THIS PRAYER. Well, first, we shall consider the state of the Church. Some professing Christians do not seem to me as if they ever thought of the Church at all. The next thing for us to do is to lay to heart the evil or the good of Zion. Consider it well, and then he grieved if you see sin triumphant, or error rampant, and do not perceive that the cause of God is advancing in the world. Then, if we begin to think, and begin to care, we shall try to do what we can for God's Church. It is all very well for a man to pray, but the value of his prayer very much depends upon its sincerity, and that sincerity will be proved by his doing something that will help to answer his own prayer. The little finger would be missed if it were cut off, and there is not a tiny valve near the heart, nor a minute vessel anywhere in the human system, which could he taken away without inflicting an injury upon the whole body. Just so is it in the Church of Christ; we cannot afford to spare any part of the mystical body of Christ. But what use are you for the well-being of your fellow-members? But when we have done all that we can, let us pray much more than we have ever done. Oh! for a praying Church!
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
1. Observe how Daniel deplores the desolations of Zion, and confesses his sins which had caused them. Daniel felt more as a saint for the ruin of the church than as a patriot for the desolations of Judea.
2. Observe how fervently Daniel prays for the restored favour of God to his people, and for the fulfilment of His gracious promises to them. He found in prayer his resource and refuge. Every good man has a steadfast assurance of the efficacy of prayer. This conviction causes them to fly to prayer, and to persevere till they succeed. Note what a prevailing plea Daniel employed — he appeals to God's own honour, to His own interest in His Church.
(A. W. Coggeshall.)
2. The manner in which we should entreat the Lord. Our special entreaty this day, whether in the house of prayer, in the domestic circle, or in the solitude of the inner chamber, should not only be that of contrite and lowly supplication, but of earnest intercession also.
(T. Dale, M.A.)
O Lord, hear.
(R. Gordon, D.D.)
I. THAT PRAYER IS A LEGITIMATE AND EFFECTUAL METHOD OF COMMUNICATION BETWEEN MAN UPON EARTH AND THE WORLD OF SPIRITS.
II. THE RECEPTION AND RECOGNITION OF TRUE PRAYER ARE IMMEDIATE, ALTHOUGH THE ANSWER MAY BE DELAYED. "At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth."
III. THAT PRAYER SECURES FOR ITS OFFERER THE SERVICE OF THE GREATEST AND MOST EXALTED OF GOD'S SERVANTS.
IV. THAT PRAYER IS A VALUABLE AID IN THE STUDY OF DIVINE THINGS. "I am now come forth to give thee knowledge and understanding."
V. THAT THE SUCCESS OF PRAYER DEPENDS UPON THE MORAL POSITION THE OFFERER OCCUPIES BEFORE GOD. "For thou art greatly beloved."
(J. H. Morgan.)
I. THE PROPHET'S OCCUPATION AT THIS TIME. He was secluded from the bustle of business and the turmoil of Society, and engaged in meditation on the things of God, and in communion with his own heart While retirement is necessary on occasions for all men, it is especially necessary for those who are busily employed in the concerns of public life. There are two extremes into which it is possible for us to fall on this subject. There are two devotional employments in which Daniel was occupied.
1. Penitential confession of sin. This was both personal and relative.
2. Intercessory supplication.
II. THE SEASON AT WHICH DANIEL WAS THUS ENGAGED.
1. It was the evening hour.
2. It was a time when he was desiring and expecting a revival of the Church, and the return of the people of God.
III. THE SUCCESS WHICH FOLLOWED DANIEL'S DEVOTIONAL EMPLOYMENT.
1. The promptitude of the bestowment.
2. The messenger who conveyed the intelligence.
3. The nature of the communication which Daniel received through the instrumentality of this Heavenly messenger.Partly it respected his own personal character. And partly he obtained clearer and much more copious views of the designs of God in reference to a fallen and ruined world. Learn, then, that humble and devotional prayer to God is one of the best means of ensuring clear views as to the prophecies of God, and clear views as to the prosperity of the Church in the latter days.
(John Clayton, A.M.)
Even the man Gabriel.
Homilist.Daniel's history is in every way profoundly interesting, and stands in connection with spiritual phenomena most startling and sublime. These verses are the words of an angel, whose name was Gabriel (the strength of God). Gabriel furnishes this intelligence in obedience to the command of another intelligence of the celestial order, one perhaps of a still higher rank in the angelic hierarchy. Daniel had seen this angel before (Daniel 8:15-27). The object of the present visit was to answer Daniel's prayer, and that answer we have in the words before us. The following thoughts are suggested by this angelic language in relation to human prayer.
I. THAT THAT GREAT GOD OF THE UNIVERSE IS ATTENTIVE TO THE GENUINE PRAYER OF GOOD MEN. We say genuine prayer, for such is the prayer before as. How intensely earnest it is! How profoundly humble! How thoroughly vicarious! God is never inattentive to such prayer; it always touches His great heart, He never fails to answer it.
II. GOD SOMETIMES ANSWERS TRUE PRAYER BY THE MINISTRY OF ANGELS. When Christ said to Peter, "Thinkest thou not that I could pray to my Father, and he would send me twelve legions of angels," the doctrine is implied that angels are employed to render Divine relief to the earnest suppliant. Note:
1. This angel dealt with promptitude to the suppliant.
2. This angel dealt with the mind of the suppliant. He assured him of the Divine regard; and he threw light on the subject that pressed on his heart. Three epochs are discovered by interpreters in this passage.(1) The return of the Jews to their own country.(2) The advent of Messiah. At the close of this period we are told two things would take place. The departure of the world's Deliverer; and the advent of the Jew's destroyer.(3) The establishment of Messiah's system upon earth, and the destruction of Jerusalem. Evidently, then, God answers prayer by acting on the mind of the suppliant. This is the true and effective answer to prayer.
(G. A. Johnston Ross.)
(H. S. Holland.)
At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth.
I. First, have we any REASONS TO EXPECT THAT AT THE COMMENCEMENT OF OUR SUPPLICATIONS THE COMMANDMENT OF MERCY WILL COME FORTH? Rest assured that we have, if we are found in the same posture as Daniel, for God acts towards His servants by a fixed rule. Let self-examination be now in vigilant exercise while we compare ourselves with the successful prophet. God will hear His people at the commencement of their prayers if the condition of the supplicant be fitted for it. The nature of such fitness we may gather from the state of Daniel's mind and the mode of his procedure. Upon this our first noteworthy observation is, that Daniel was determined to obtain the blessing which he was seeking. Note carefully the expression which he has used in the third verse — "I set my face unto the Lord God to seek by prayer and supplication." That setting of the face is expressive of resolute purpose, firm determination, undivided attention, fixed resolute perseverance. "I set my face towards the Lord." We never do anything in this world until we set our faces thoroughly to it. The warriors who win battles are those who are resolved to conquer or die. The merchants who prosper in this world are those who do their business with all their hearts, and watch for wealth with eagerness. The half-hearted man is nowhere in the race of life; he is usually contemptible in the sight of others, and a misery to himself. If a thing be worth doing, it is worth doing well; and if it be not worth doing thoroughly, wise men let it alone. Especially is this a truth in the spiritual life. Wonders are not done for God and for the truth by men upon their beds asleep, or out of their beds, but still asleep. A man if he would do anything for God for the truth, for the cross of Christ, must set his face and with the whole force of his will resolve to serve his God. The soldier of Christ must set his face like a flint against all opposition, and at the same moment set his face towards the Lord with the attentive eye of the handmaiden looking towards her mistress. This was the first proof that God might safely give Daniel the blessing at once, for the prophet's heart was fixed in immutable resolve, and there was no turning him from the point. Next, Daniel felt deeply the misery of the people for whom he pleaded. Read that expression, a under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem." The condition of that city, lying in ruins, her inhabitants captive, her choicest sons banished to, the ends of the earth, afflicted him very sorely. He had not a light superficial acquaintance with the sorrows of his people, but his inmost heart was embittered with the wormwood and the gall of their cup. If God intends to give us souls he will prepare us for the honour by causing us to feel the deep ruin of our fellow-creatures. In the next place, Daniel was ready to receive the blessing, because he felt deeply his own unworthiness of it. I do not know that even the fifty-first Psalm is more penitential than the chapter which contains our text. Read the chapter, and note how he humbly acknowledges sins of commission, sins of omission, and especially sins against the warnings of God's word and the entreaties of God's servants. Let us confess our unworthiness, our coldness, and deadness, and lethargy, and wanderings of heart, and the backsliding of many among us, and then, having confessed our faults, we may expect that at the very commencement God will visit us. When the vessel is empty, Heaven's fountain will fill it; when the ground is dried and chapped, and begins to open her mouth with thirst, down shall come the rain to make fat the soil. But again, we have not exhausted the points in Daniel which deserve our imitation; you will notice that Daniel had a clear conviction of God's power to help his people in their distress, his lively sense of Divine power being based upon what God had done in the olden time. One is interested to note in the history of the Jews, how in every dark and stormy hour their minds reverted to one particular point in their history! Just as the Greek would remember Thermopylae and Marathon, and feel his eyes sparkle and every sinew grow strong at the thought of the heroic day when his fathers slew the Persians, and broke the yoke of the great king, so with nobler emotions, because more Heavenly, the Israelite always thought of the Red Sea, and what the Lord did to Egypt when He divided the waters, and they stood upright as a heap, that His people might pass through. Daniel in the prayer says, "Thou hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten thee renown, as at this day." He lays hold upon that deed of ancient prowess, and pleads in effect after this fashion: "Thou canst do the like, O God, and glorify thy name anew, and send deliverance to thy people." We worship the God who loves His chosen now even as He did of old. But once more, the most apparent point about Daniel's prayer is his peculiar earnestness. To multiply expressions such as " O Lord! O Lord! O Lord!" may not always be right. There may be much sin in such repetitions, amounting to taking God's name in vain. But it is not so with Daniel. His repetitious are forced from the depths of his soul, "O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hearken and do!" These are the fiery volcanic eruptions of a soul on fire, heaving terribly. It is just the man's soul wanting vent. No prayer is at all likely to bring down an immediate answer if it be not a fervent prayer. We must get rid of the icicles that hang about our lips. We must ask the Lord to thaw the ice-caves of our soul and to make our hearts like a furnace of firs heated seven times hotter. Thus much upon that first reason. We may expect a speedy answer to prayer when the condition of the suppliant is as God would have it. Secondly, I believe we have every reason to expect a blessing when we consider the mercy itself. That which we as a church are seeking is, if I understand your hearts and my own, just this: we want to see our own personal piety deepened and revived, and we want to see sinners saved. Well, is not that in itself so good a thing that we may expect the giver of every good and perfect gift to give it to us? What we ask is for God's glory. We are not seeking a boon which may glorify us or may exalt some one of our fellow-men. We crave not victory for the arms of a warrior; we ask not success for the researches of a philosopher. Thirdly, there is another thing which encourages me, namely, the nature of the relations which exist between God and us. Is not that a choice word, "O man greatly beloved"? "Yes," you will perhaps say, "it is easy to understand why God should send so swift an answer to Daniel, because he was a man greatly beloved." Ah! has your unbelief made you forget that you are greatly beloved too? Who will refuse to ask when such encouragements are suggested to our, minds?
II. If we are to gain the blessing at the commencement, IN WHAT FORM SHOULD WE PREFER TO HAVE IT? Could I have my heart's desire, I would crave a blessing for every one of you. I was turning over in my mind how early and sweet a blessing it would be if the Lord would give us to-day some conversions. But make no tarrying, O our God! Make haste our Beloved. "Be thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether," for Thy name's sake. Amen.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
For thou art greatly beloved
I. THE EXALTED CHARACTER OF DANIEL.
1. The inflexible constancy with which he adhered to the service of Jehovah. No honours could win him from his allegiance to the true God; no dangers could deter him from openly maintaining and professing the true religion.
2. He was s man of prayer. Such firm and determined adherence to true religion as his could be kept alive only by regular and intimate intercourse with Heaven. He prayed frequently. He prayed in a right spirit — this is seen in his just views of God; in his deep humiliation before God; and in the earnestness of his pleadings.
3. He was eminently faithful in discharging the duties of his exalted station. The insidious acts of designing men could not impeach his integrity, or darken the lustre of his character. This fidelity and honesty in his office were indeed the natural effects of his eminent piety. Religion is the only sure foundation for the regular and faithful performance of the duties of our office and station in society. Principles of honour, and prudence, and self-interest properly understood, will often go far in leading to fidelity in secular trusts; but religious principles will enable men to resist greater temptations, and be more uniformly and perfectly upright than any inferior motive. If our religion has not a similar influence upon us, to that his religion exerted on Daniel, it is vain and insincere. Faith in God necessarily leads to right conduct towards mankind.
4. Daniel was distinguished by the pious and patriotic interest which he took in the welfare of his countrymen. Every Jew, indeed, had something of this feeling. In a particular manner, however, were these the sentiments and feelings of Daniel. His views on national matters were of a more enlightened and spiritual character than those of his countrymen in general. He saw that the glory of God and the interests of true religion were intimately connected with the re-establishment of Israel. This made him so peculiarly ardent in the cause of his people, and led him to use all the influence of his exalted station, and all the might or power which he possessed with God, that Zion might no longer be a desolation. Patriotism is a feeling honourable to the character. But how is that feeling hallowed and exalted when we feel that, with the prosperity of our country, the glory of God and the everlasting interests of mankind are most intimately connected.
II. THE HIGH PRIVILEGE OF DANIEL.
1. He was greatly beloved of God. All the people of God, indeed, are the subjects of His affection. But, in addition to this, He bears to everyone of them a love of complacency founded on the amiable and holy qualities with which they are endowed by the Spirit of grace. No privilege is more amazing than that with which Daniel was favoured. Gabriel was despatched from Heaven with an ample answer to his prayer, and a pointed assurance that he was a special favourite of Heaven.
2. Daniel was greatly beloved of men. It is natural to us to desire the esteem and friendship of men, and the gratification of that desire is, in no slight degree, conducive both to our usefulness and our happiness. And this did Daniel enjoy in no ordinary measure. Then(1) Imitate the conduct and character of Daniel. Like him, be steadfast in the faith. Like him, be men of prayer. Like him, discharge with fidelity the duties of your station. Like him, be solicitous for the good of the Israel of God.(2) Remember that, if you resemble Daniel in character, you shall also be like him in privilege. You shall be in favour with God and man.
Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people.
I. First, LET US SURVEY THE MESSIAH'S WORK. The first work of our Lord Jesus Christ is the overthrow of evil, and it is thus described — "To finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity." But our Lord's labour is not all spent upon down-pulling work; He comes to build up, and His second work is the setting up of righteousness in the world, described again by three sentences: "To bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy." The first work of the Messiah is the overthrow of evil. This overthrow of evil is described by three words. If I were to give you a literal translation from the Hebrew I might read the passage thus: "To shut up the transgression, to seal up sin, and to cover up iniquity." According to learned men, those are the words which are here used, and the three put together are a singularly complete description off the putting away of sin. First, it is "shut up"; it is, as it were, taken prisoner, and confined in a cell; the door is fastened, and it is held in durance; it is out of sight; held to a narrow range: unable to exercise the power it once possessed. In a word, it is , restrained" — so the margin of our Bibles reads it. The Hebrew word signifies to hold back, to hold in, to arrest, to keep in prison, to shut in or shut up. Its dominion is finished, for sin itself is bound. Christ has led captivity captive. But it is not enough to shut up the vanquished tyrant, unless he be shut up for ever; end, therefore, lest there should be any possibility of his breaking loose again, the next sentence is, "To seal up." The uses of the seal are many, but here it is employed for certainty of custody. Thus is sin placed doubly out of sight; it is shut up and sealed up, as a document put into a case and then sealed down. "Finished" and "made an end of" are the two words used in our authorised version, and they give the essence of the meaning. To borrow a figure — Arabi, the Egyptian rebel, is shut up as our prisoner, and his defeat is sealed, therefore his rebellion is finished and an end is made of it. Even thus is it with transgression; our Lord has vanquished evil, and certified the same under the hand and seal of the Omnipotent, and therefore we may with rapture hear Him say, "It is finished," and also behold Him rise from the dead to seal our justification. Yet, as if this might not suffice, the next term in the Hebrew is "to cover up"; for the word to make reconciliation or expiation is usually in the Hebrew to cover over. "Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered." Christ has come to cover sin, to atone for it, and so to hide it. The two former sentences speak of finishing transgression and making an end of sin, and these expressions are full and complete, while this third one explains the means by which the work is done, namely, by an expiation which covers up every trace of sin. Thus in the three together we have a picture of the utter extinction of sin both as to its guilt and its power, ay, and its very existence; it is put into the dungeon and the door is shut upon it; after this the door is sealed and then it is covered up, so that the place of sin's sepulchre cannot be seen any more for ever. Observe that the terms for sin are left in an absolute form. It is said, "to finish transgression," "to make an end of sins," "to make reconciliation for iniquity." Whose transgression is this? Whose sins are these? It is not said. There is no word employed to set out the persons for Whom atonement is made, as is done in verses like these — "Christ loved the church and gave himself for it"; "I lay down my life for the sheep." The mass of evil is left unlabelled, that any penitent sinner may look to the Messiah and find in Him the remover of sin. What transgression is finished? Transgression of every kind. The Messiah came to wipe out and utterly destroy sin, and this is, and will he, the effect of His work. Put all the three sentences into one and this is the sum of them. I take the sentences separately and press each cluster by itself. And first notice that it is said He came to finish the transgression. As some understand it, our Lord came that in His death transgression might reach its highest development, and sign its own condemnation. Sin reached its finis, its ultimatum, its climax, in the murder of the Son of God. It could not proceed further; the course of malice could no further go. Now hath sin finished itself, and now hath Jesus come to finish it. "Thus far," saith He, "thou shalt go, but no further; here in my wounds and death shall thy proud waves be stayed." The huge leviathan of evil has met its match, and is placed under the power of the Avenger. Thus saith the Lord, "Behold, I will put my hook in thy nose and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee by the way by which thou earnest." The Lord hath set bounds to the transgression which aforetime broke all bounds. Where sin abounded, grace doth much more abound. Sin is shut up that grace may have liberty. Now take the second sentence, which in our version is, "To make an end of sin." Messiah has come to proclaim so free, so rich, so gracious a pardon to the sons of men that when they receive it sin virtually ceases to he; it is made an end of. But the Hebrew has it "to seal up sins." Now I take it to mean just this. There are certain handwritings which are against us, and they would be produced against us in court, but by the order of the judge all these handwritings are sealed up, and regarded as out of sight; no man dare break the seal, and no man can read them unless the seal be broken; therefore they will never be brought against us. They have become virtually null and void. Everything that can be brought as an accusation against God's people is now sealed up and put out of the way once for all, never to be opened and laid to their charge before the living God. Or, if you regard sin as a captive prisoner, you must now see that by Christ's death the prison wherein sin lies is so sealed that the enemy can never come forth again in its ancient power. But now, the last expression is in English, He hath come "to make reconciliation for iniquity"; that is, to end the strife between God and man by a glorious reconciliation, a making again of peace between these twain; so that God loveth man, and, as a consequence, man loveth God. In the blessed atonement of Christ, God and man meet at a chosen meeting-place. Now, take the Hebrew for it, and read the sentence thus — to cover iniquity. Oh, what bliss this is; to think that sin is now once for all covered! I fail to describe this triumphant overthrow of sin and Satan. I have neither wisdom nor language answerable to such a theme. I invite you now to consider the second work, namely, the setting up of righteousness. This is set before us in three expressions; first, in the words "to bring in everlasting righteousness." And what is that? Why, his own righteousness which is from everlasting to everlasting. Happy are those spirits to whom Christ gives an everlasting righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom and in it they shall shine forth as the sun. Next, in order to the setting up of a kingdom of righteousness He is come that He may "seal up vision and prophecy." That is, by fulfilling all the visions and the prophecies of the Old Testament in Himself, He ends both prophecy and vision. He seals up visions and prophecies so that they shall no more be seen or spoken; they are closed, and no man can add to them; and therefore — and that is the point to note — the gospel is for ever settled, to remain eternally the same. Christ has set up a kingdom that shall never he moved. His truth can never be changed by any novel revelation. There always was something better yet to come in all times till Christ arrived; but after the best there cometh none. This, then, is an essential part of the setting up of that which is good — namely, to settle truth on a fixed basis, whereon we may stand steadfast, immovable. The candles are snuffed out because the day itself looks out from the windows of Heaven. Then, as if this were not enough, He is also come to anoint the Most Holy, or the Holy of holies, as you may read it And what means this? Nothing material, for the Holy of holies, the place into which the High Priest went of old is demolished, and the veil is rent. The most holy place is now the person of the Lord Jesus Christ; He was anointed that God might dwell in Him. Together with Christ the Holy of holies is now His Church, and that Church was anointed or dedicated when the Holy Ghost fell at Pentecost, to be with us, and to abide in us for ever. That was a noble part of the setting up of .the great kingdom of righteousness, when tongues of fire descended and sat upon each of the disciples, and they began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Heaven rings with the praises of the Messiah who came to destroy the work of sin, and to set up the kingdom of righteous-hess in the midst of the world.
II. LET US NOW ENQUIRE AS TO OUR PARTICIPATION IN THESE TWO WORKS. First, Christ has come into the world to do all this good work, but has He done it for us? There is a general aspect to the atonement, but there is quite as surely a special object in it. The first question that is to help you to answer that enquiry is this — Is your sin shut up as to its power? "Sin shall not have dominion over you" if Christ is in you. How is it between your soul and evil? Is there war or peace? The next question arising out of the text is, Is your sin sealed up as to its condemning power? Have you ever felt the power of the Holy Spirit in your soul, saying to you, "Go in peace; thy sins which are many, are all forgiven thee"? "There is no peace saith my God, to the wicked." There is no peace to any of us till Christ hath made an end of our sin. How is it with your hearts? And next, is your sin covered as to its appearance before God? Has the Lord Jesus Christ made such an expiation for your sin that it no longer glares in the presence of the Most High, but you can come unto God without dread? Further, let me question you about the next point. Has the Lord Jesus Christ made you righteous? Do you glory in His blood and righteousness, and do you now seek after that which is pure and holy? Furthermore, are the prophecies and visions sealed up as to you? Are they fulfilled in you? When God declares that He will wash us and make us whiter than snow, is it so with you? When He declares that He will cleanse our blood, which has not yet been cleansed, is it so with you? Nor is this all; are you anointed to be most holy to the Lord? Are you set apart that you may serve Him?
III. Lastly, THE RESULTS OF PARTICIPATING IN ALL THIS. The results! They are, first of all, security. How can that man be lost whose transgression is finished, and whose sin has ceased to be? What is there for him to dread on earth, in Heaven, or in hell? And now, inasmuch as you are secure, you are also reconciled to God, and made to delight in Him. God is your friend, and you are one of the friends of God. Rejoice in that hallowed friendship, and live in the assurance of it. But now, suppose when I put the question, you had to shake your head and say, "No, it is not so with me." Then hear these few sentences. If the Messiah has not done this for you, then your sin will be finished in another way — sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. An awful death awaits you — death unto God, and purity and joy. If Christ has never made an end of your sin, then mark this, your sin will soon make an end of you, and all your hopes, your pleasures, your boasting, your peace will perish. Has not Christ reconciled you? Then mark this, your enmity will increase. Have you never had the righteousness of Christ brought in? Then mark this, your unrighteousness will last for ever. One of these days God will say, "He that is unholy, let him be unholy still; he that is filthy, let him be filthy still." Are not the prophecies fulfilled in you, the prophecies of mercy? Then listen. The prophecies of woe will be written large across your history. "The wicked shall be turned into hell, with all the nations that forget God." Lastly, will you never be anointed to be most holy? Then remember, holiness and you will stand at a distance for ever, and to be far off from holiness must necessarily be to be far off from Heaven and happiness.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
1. "To consummate transgression" — finish it, bring it to its final stopping-point, after which there will be no more of it.
2. "To make an end of sins" — seal them up, shut them in prison, so as never to break forth again.
3. "To cover iniquity" — expiate it by adequate satisfaction, blot it out, hide it for ever.
4. "To bring in everlasting righteousness" — put man in normal relations with God, set human life into thorough accord with Jehovah's will and law, induce a condition of moral rectitude, which thenceforward shall never again be interrupted, but endure for all the ages.
5. "To seal vision and prophet" — authenticate and vindicate by fulfilment, make good and finish out in fact and deed all that God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.
6. "To anoint" — consecrate, put into place and effectiveness — a "holiness of holinesses," which is the literal sense of the words in this last clause. It can refer to nothing less than the completed outcome of the redemptive administrations as a whole — the ultimate result and crown of grace and providence, of which all the prophets speak. Everything promised, prophesied, or ever to be hoped for Israel is thus summed up in what these seventy-seven years are to bring.
(Joseph, A. Seiss, D.D.)
1. As to the time. Seventy weeks. Punctually the Lord came.
2. See the description of what He was to do. His name is expressive, "Most holy." His qualification is "anointed and consecrated," What was His undertaking? Something He came to do away with. "Finish the transgression, and make an end of sin." And to make reconciliation for iniquity." Jesus not only does away with the guilt of the sins which men have committed, but He breaks sin's power in them for the time to come. See what He comes to do. "To bring everlasting righteousness." He "sealed up the vision and the prophecy" by bringing it to pass. Reflections.
(1) (2) (3) (A. Roberts, M. A.)
(2) (3) (A. Roberts, M. A.)
(3) (A. Roberts, M. A.)
(A. Roberts, M. A.)
And to bring in everlasting righteousness1. What we are to understand by the word "righteousness." Some would say "moral honesty," doing justice between man and man. It likewise signifies inward holiness, wrought in us by the Spirit of God. I think the word here used means "imputed righteousness." When Christ's righteousness is spoken of, we are to understand Christ's obedience and death; all that Christ has done and suffered for an elect world — for all that will believe on Him. It might be called a blessed righteousness, a glorious righteousness, an invaluable righteousness; the angel here calls it an "everlasting righteousness."
2. On what account is it called an "everlasting righteousness"?(1) Because it was intended by God to extend to mankind even from eternity. From all the ages of eternity God had thoughts of us.(2) Because the efficacy of Christ's death took place immediately upon Adam's fall. Christianity in one sense is as old as the creation.(3) Because the efficacy of it is to continue till time shall be no more.(4) Because the benefit of it is to endure to everlasting life. Those whom God justifies, them He also glorifies.
3. What are we to understand by Christ's bringing this righteousness in?(1) Our Lord's promulgating and proclaiming it to the world. It was brought in under the law, but then under types and shadows, Jesus Christ brought life and immortality to light by the gospel.(2) Jesus brought in this righteousness, as He wrought it out for sinners upon the cross.(3) The expression also implies Christ's bringing it, by His blessed Spirit, into poor believers' hearts. "An unapplied Christ is no Christ at all." Are there any here that can go along with me on this doctrine?
( G. Whitefield, A.M.)
Even in troublous times.
I. THIS IS TRUE OF INDIVIDUALS. This world is the house of discipline in which Christians are broken to the Divine service by severe management. There are seasons which in a peculiar sense are "troublous times." And it is in such seasons more than any other that they grow in grace, and thus prepare to carry up the walls of the Heavenly Jerusalem, or to enlarge the Church triumphant. Their choicest experiences are obtained, and their selected graces are acquired, in times of trouble. Afflictions are the rod which chastises them to duty — the furnace in which the gold is purified from the dross.
II. THE WALLS OF JERUSALEM GENERALLY ARE BUILT UP IN TROUBLOUS TIMES. In such times the greatest advances have been made in the interests of the Church. Illustrate from the history of the Church from the time when the foundation was laid in the promise of the woman's seed. To the civilised world at large these are troublous times. While the enemy are vapouring and raging; while, leagued against all morality and religion, they are bearing away the ancient landmarks of society; while the apostles of infidelity are fast proselyting the world, and a third part of men are gone after Baal — even in such times the walls of Jerusalem are rising. Things are likely to continue the same in our day. Let not troublous times stagger the faith of Christians. Let us not be terrified "as though some strange thing happened to us." We have company enough in these matter. From the days of Adam all the saints have had to encounter similar trials.
(E. D. Griffin, D.D.)
(Bishop Samuel Wilberforce.)
Shall Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself.saved.