It will be a sign and a witness to the LORD of Hosts in the land of Egypt. When they cry out to the LORD because of their oppressors, He will send them a savior and defender to rescue them.
The erection of the altar and the pillar would be a sign of desire after God. "In Isaiah's time it must have seemed incredible that the firmly organized idolatrous system of Egypt should ever be broken up. Yet such a result was brought about by a series of movements - Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, and Greek - which commenced almost immediately after the date of the above prediction. In the district of Heliopolis, on the site of a ruined temple at Leontopolis (twenty miles north-east of Memphis), the high priest Onias IV. built his temple, under a special license
from Ptolemy Philometor (about B.C. 150
)." The chapter deals with the corrective judgments which were to come upon Egypt, and gives this prophecy as the assurance that they will in measure prove efficient; and Egypt in her distress will cry after the true God; and the presence of Jews in her midst would give direction to her cry. We only suggest the following topics for illustration: -
I. THE MISSION OF ALL NATIONAL DISTRESS IS CONVINCEMENT OF THE CLAIMS OF GOD.
II. THE PRESSURE OF NATIONAL DISTRESS IS A PERSUASION TO CALL UPON GOD. III. THE ARRANGEMENTS OF GOD'S PROVIDENCE ALWAYS HELP MEN'S DESIRE TO SEEK GOD. Illustrated in the fact that Jews were settled in Egypt, and witnessing for Jehovah, when the people's hearts were turning towards him. From this we may proceed to show how our establishing missions in various parts of heathendom proves to be providential help afforded to peoples who have begun to cry after God. Our "altar" and our "pillar" are thus for "a sign and for a witness unto the Lord of hosts." - R.T.
I. GREAT IN HIS PERSON. "God over all, blessed forever: —
He shall send them a Saviour and a great one.
The literal coincidences between the promise of a "saviour" and a "great one," and the titles of Alexander the Great and Ptolemy the Saviour are noticeable and interesting.
delivered them from the grievous Persian yoke, and he and his successors greatly favoured the people and improved the country. He settled a great many Jews in Alexandria, giving them equal privileges with the Macedonians; and this Hebrew immigration was still further promoted by Ptolemy Soter, so that Philo
reckoned that in his time there were a million Jews in the country. The temple of Onias, the LXX version of the Bible, the books of the Apocrypha, the philosophy and theology of Philo, indicate not only what these Jews were in themselves, but enable us to infer with certainty how great must have been their example and influence in humanising the Egyptians, and bringing them to the knowledge and worship of the true God. And still more were these results apparent, still more amply was this prophecy fulfilled, when Alexandria became one of the great centres of the Christian Church.
? — Even if the language of this verse by itself might seem to point to a particular deliverer, the comprehensive language of the context would forbid its reference to any such exclusively. If the chapter is a prophecy not of a single went but of a great progressive change to be wrought in the condition of Egypt by the introduction of the true religion, the promise of the verse before us must be, that when they cried God would send them a deliverer, a promise verified not once but often, not by Ptolemy or Alexander only, but by others, and in the highest sense by Christ Himself.
II. GREAT IN THE CHARACTER HE SUSTAINS.
III. GREAT IN THIS WORKS HE PERFORMS.
IV. GREAT IN THE SALVATION HE BESTOWS.
V. GREAT IN THE GLORY TO WHICH HE IS NOW EXALTED.
()An old Mexican monk, in his dingy cell, once painted an allegorical picture, representing a beautiful maiden standing on an island, with only room for her feet to rest upon, while all around dashed and surged a lake of fire. The angry flames almost touched her, and yet she smiled, all unconscious of danger. More dreadful still, on each billow's crest rides a malignant fiend, and they are closing around the seemingly defenceless girl, seeking to fasten chains about her limbs, that they may drag her into the burning lake. The maiden still smiles serenely, for she sees them not. A golden cord of grace, descending from above, is twined amidst her sunny hair, but death appears ready to cut the slender thread. A hand of help is reaching down to her, which she must take, or be lost in the fiery abyss. A company of attending angels anxiously await her decision, and this group completes the picture. This is no fancy sketch of the old painter's brain, but it is your condition unless you have laid hold on Christ Jesus to deliver you.
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