Judgment and Conversion
Isaiah 10:16-23
Therefore shall the Lord, the Lord of hosts, send among his fat ones leanness…

I. FIGURES OF JUDGMENT. The Assyrian is viewed under the image of a stout, well-fed body, into which a wasting disease comes by. Divine judgment. Again, that judgment is depicted as a flaming fire, kindling and devouring thorns and making a swift end to the towering beauty of the forest trees, the smiling pleasantness of the fruitful field. The remnant of the host will soon be counted "on one's fingers," as a boy might count the still standing stems in a wood devastated by the fiery element. The decline of a sick man, lastly, may represent the falling away of a nation's power. At best, what is humanity but a flower fading in its pride? As we read in the 'Prometheus' of AEschylus, "Its strength, is it strong; its beauty, is it fair? What hope have they, these dying briers, living one day long? How like a dream they go, this poor blind manhood, drifted from its end!" And in the light of moral disapproval, of Divine judgment, a declining nation seems to be under a blight, whose ravages cannot be checked. Where are the ancient civilizations, Assyria, Babylonia, Egypt, Greece, Rome? Their root was long ago cankered, and their blossom went up as dust. The explorer, digging out a statue here, or there deciphering an inscription, helps us to construct the picture of cities that were magnificent poems in stone, of a life to which no secret of pleasure or of power was denied. Were such heights in vain reached for mankind? Were yonder works of mighty kings the efforts of giants who fought against God? Rather let us say that it is he who both raises up and sets down - raises up to illustrate the greatness of the spirit of man, his breath; casts down to show the bitterness of human pride and the vanity of human ambitions. As we survey the remains of the "cloud-capp'd towers and gorgeous palaces" of Nineveh and Persepolis, we are reminded that all earth's splendor is but a dream, from which we must again and again awake anew, to find in the spiritual the only eternal; in the right the only enduring throne of potentates; in the sweet happiness of millions, not in the multitude of armed men, the mirror of God's will on earth.

II. CONVERSION THROUGH JUDGMENT. It was false reliances that corrupted Judah and Israel As faith in the true objects of faith is nothing but strength, so the illusion which tempts us to trust where there is nothing in reality to lean on, must betray us. Men under such illusions will confide in their deadly enemy as a bosom friend; will invite the point of the weapon aimed at the heart; will "stay themselves upon them that smite them." We are limp, drooping creatures. Rare is he who walks with head quite erect, with eye undauntedly fixed on the unseen, with heart bound up in principle alone. If we crave countenance in our foibles, much more in our serious projects. And never was there craze, weakness, silliness, or sin, for which abettors may not be found. Never have we so sought confirmation in views that should never have been entertained, but the hour of disenchantment has come, soon or late. The reed breaks, the cistern leaks; the soft foundation gives, and the ominous crack appears in our dwelling. And then we return to "stay ourselves on the Holy One of Israel with faithfulness." Or so the prophet forecasts the effect of his people's disenchantment. "The remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob to the Hero-God." He the only Head, the only Battle-leader, as the only Prince of Peace, will be found again in the day of adversity, at least by a few. As in the olden time but a few were saved in the ark from the great flood, so from these overflowing judgments which are to descend, a few, though only a few, will be able to escape. A public end and decision of these controversies between Jehovah and his people is to be made, and it cannot be delayed nor averted.

1. To the prophetic consciousness it seems, at any epoch, that "the whole world lies in wickedness," and that the righteous are but a very small remnant.

2. Historically, such a view seems to hold good. At critical epochs, England has probably been saved by the virtuous, the Christian, the self-denying few.

3. But history is too profound for any mortal reading or rendering. If nations have passed away notwithstanding that they had a core of true hearts among them; if Israel still remains, though her lamp has been removed from its stand, there is, doubtless, a deeper meaning in the prophet's words. It is the "remnant" which has given us our Hebrew Scriptures. From the caldron of suffering, exile, external sorrow, came forth the fine gold of the great prophet of the Captivity, and of many of the psalmists. Every nation that leaves noble and Divine thoughts for the possession of mankind forever; every individual who, out of the wreck of life's mistakes, bequeaths some legacy of truth to posterity, fulfils in a way the prophecies of the recovery of the remnant. - J.

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: Therefore the Lord, Yahweh of Armies, will send among his fat ones leanness; and under his glory a burning will be kindled like the burning of fire.

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