In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt, and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together.
I. ITS UNDOUBTED EXISTENCE. There are "elect" nations and individuals; it is not only a truth written in the pages of Scripture, but a fact confirmed by all testimony and observation, that God has conferred on some much more than he has allotted to others. To one nation (man) he gives one talent, to another two, and to another five. Physical strength, intellectual capacity, force of character, material wealth and natural advantages, knowledge, revealed truth, - these are some of the privileges by which 'men and nations are favored.
II. ITS PERIL. The great danger attending the possession of privilege is that of entirely mistaking the object of the Creator in conferring it; of assuming that he bestowed it simply for the gratification or the exaltation of its recipients. This was the disastrous mistake which the Jews made: hence their spiritual arrogance, their selfishness, their pitiable exclusiveness, their misreading of Scripture, their maltreatment of their Messiah. It is a mistake we are all tempted to make; it is one against which we do welt to guard with the utmost vigilance; for it is a sinful one, and one that carries ruin in its train.
III. ITS CROWN. This is to be "a blessing in the midst of the land;" to be a bond of union between other powers - a "third" to the Egypt and Assyria by which we may be surrounded. Privileged lands, like England, find their crown, not in military successes, nor in annexations, nor even in well-filled banks or well-fitted vessels; but in giving free institutions to neighboring or even distant nations, in conveying the message of Divine mercy to heathen lands, "in being a blessing in the midst of the earth." Privileged men find the crown of their life, not in possession, nor in enjoyment, nor in conscious superiority to others "that are without;" but in distributing, in imparting, in making others partakers of the peace and joy and hope that fill their own hearts, in broadening the belt of light on which they stand, in sowing the seed of the kingdom in land which now bears only briers and thorns, in being "a blessing in the midst of the land." - C.
In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria.
(C. A. Briggs, D. D.)
(Prof. Robertson Smith.)
I. IT IS GOD'S PURPOSE TO PERFECT THE RACE THROUGH INTERNATIONAL INTERCOURSE AND FRIENDSHIP. Chronic national antagonism is not Heaven's design. Neither is the design of God respecting the various peoples that they should dwell in a state of isolation. The Divine purpose is manifestly that the several nations shall complete each other through sympathy and reciprocity.
1. Geography indicates this. The good things of nature are not all found in any one land; reciprocity is designed and necessitated by the very dispositions of soil and climate.
2. Ethnology also gives a reason for national sympathy and intercourse. No one national type includes all perfections. The nations need one another. History shows us the solidarity of the race and how wonderfully any one people is enriched by the contributions of the rest. Take our own nation. In our gardens are the flowers and fruits of all climates. In a thousand ways our neighbours have contributed to make us what we are. The Italians and French taught us silk weaving. The Flemings taught us our fine woollen trade. The Venetians showed us how to make glass. A German erected our first paper mill. A Dutchman began our potteries. The Genoese taught us to build ships. And so history reveals that through successive generations the several nations have enriched each other in art, industry, literature, jurisprudence, language, philosophy, government, and religion. The thought of God is the brotherhood of man, and all things prove it.
II. THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST IS THE SUPREME UNIFYING POWER OF THE RACE. In the fulness of its meaning this is what our text signifies. The lesson here for us is that the marriage of nations will take place where other marriages are celebrated — at the altar of God. In other words, the unifying power of the race is the highest religious faith — the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1. Some suppose that the ameliorative reconciling influence will be found in commerce. But there are malign influences which defeat the benign influences of trade.
2. Others think that the principle of unity will be found in the cultivation of cosmopolitan literature. The influence of great literature is pacifying, but it must also be remembered that such literature feeds patriotism, which is a peril.
3. Many build great hopes on science. Science reveals the unity of nature, but it teaches also that all nature is full of strife, and civilisation itself is built on antagonism. It is only as a great faith changes the spirit of man that discords will resolve themselves into harmonies.
III. GOD HAS IN A VERY SPECIAL MEASURE COMMITTED UNTO US THE VERY EDIFYING GOSPEL OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST. To a large extent England in this age occupies the position that Israel occupied of old — it is our special calling to bring all nations to the obedience of the faith. As Palestine came between Egypt and Assyria so this island comes in a wonderful manner between the Old World and the New. God gave spiritual gifts in a remarkable degree to Israel, and God has given us richly the treasure of His Gospel. God has also given to us special powers for the diffusion of the Gospel.
(W. L. Watkinson.)
I. WE MUST NOT READ INTO THESE WORDS ANY COMPROMISE WITH THE RELIGION OF EGYPT AND ASSYRIA. He did not mean that the faith of Israel was the third with the faiths of the Nile and the Euphrates. Perhaps the most insidious foe of the missionary spirit is the suggestion that Christianity is only one among many religions and rival creeds. It is contradicted by all the facts of Scripture and of human experience. The study of comparative religion so far from blinding us to the gleams of truth and the broken lights of heathenism, enables us to feel more deeply how faint and broken they are. The stars are invisible to us in the glory of the noon. Yet if we .descend into some deep pit we lose the daylight and we see the stars. So in all ages some elect souls, sunk in the deep and horrible pit of heathenism, have seen shining far above them the pure, peaceful stars of God. Their faint light has not been enough to live by, not enough for guidance or hope, only enough to reach the remoteness of heaven and God, enough for aspiration and to keep alive the great questions of human existence and destiny. Some of our modern teachers have gone down into the deep pit, and they have forgotten that they themselves are the children of the day. We solemnly deny that any religion is suited to any people, either East or West, which cannot give cleansing to the conscience, or power to the will, or peace to the heart, which is silent where it should speak most clearly, which can cast no light beyond the grave, which does not honour womanhood and protect childhood. Heathenism is man seeking God. The Gospel is God coming down to seek man. In its essence the Gospel is unchangeable, yet there is much in our religion which is capable of adaptation to the conditions, tastes, and temperaments of different races.
II. We see in our text THE WIPING OUT OF NATIONAL PREJUDICES AND RACIAL ANIMOSITIES IN A COMMON SALVATION. Egypt was the ancient foe and oppressor of Israel. The pages of Isaiah are full of warnings against the broken reed of Egypt. The prophet saw the gathering storm and knew that Assyria should scatter the nation and destroy the city and the temple. Yet he spoke of both as resting with Israel under the blessing of God. But, more than that, the known world of Isaiah's day was bounded on the west by Egypt and on the east by Assyria. They stand for the world, because they were then the confines of the world. Six centuries later the world of St. Paul was larger still Our world is the whole world, but it has not outgrown the love or the promise or the duty. This larger outlook rests upon three chief grounds.
1. The brotherhood of man.
2. All the great redemptive facts are toy humanity.
3. The purposes of God are for mankind.
III. It only remains to ask whether this promise of a redeemed humanity is only a dream, and a glowing but unsubstantial vision, or IS IT A DIVINE REALITY? If it rested upon an obscure word in an ancient prophecy we might fear to press it. But it is the burden of Scripture. It was the vision of Christ as He rejoiced in spirit and cried, "And if I be lifted up I will draw all men unto Me." But it is the method of God to use human instruments. He accepts the tribute of His people's love, and He makes the wrath of man to praise Him.
(J. H. Shakespeare, M. A.)1. God intends that each single nation of the earth shall make the most of itself for the good of all other nations.
2. God is ruling over all the nations, and is working out His great and glorious purposes through them.
(D. Gregg, LL. D.)Cross.
(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)
1. There is something in the very manner of Isaiah's treatment of foreign nations which causes the old charges of exclusiveness to sink in our throats. Isaiah treats these foreigners at least as men. Take his prophecies on Egypt or on Tyre or on Babylon — nations which were the hereditary enemies of his nation — and you find him speaking of their natural misfortunes, their social decays, their national follies and disasters, with the same pity and with the same purely moral considerations, with which he has treated his own land. When news of those far away sorrows comes to Jerusalem, it moves this large-hearted prophet to mourning and tears. He breathes out to distant lands elegies as beautiful as he has poured upon Jerusalem. He shows as intelligent an interest in their social evolutions as he does in those of the Jewish State. He gives a picture of the industry and politics of Egypt as careful as his pictures of the fashions and statecraft of Judah. In short, as you read his prophecies upon foreign nations, you perceive that before the eyes of this man humanity, broken and scattered in his days as it was, rose up one great whole, every part of which was subject to the same laws of righteousness, and deserved from the prophet of God the same love and pity. To some few tribes he says decisively that they shall certainly be wiped out, but even them he does not address in contempt or in hatred. The large empire of Egypt, the great commercial power of Tyre, he speaks of in language of respect and admiration; but that does not prevent him from putting the plain issue to them which he put to his own countrymen: If you are unrighteous, intemperate, impure — lying diplomats and dishonest rulers, you shall certainly perish before Assyria. If you are righteous, temperate, pure, if you do trust in truth and God, nothing can move you.
2. But he who thus treated all nations with the same strict measures of justice and the same fulness of pity with which he treated his own, was surely not far from extending to the world the religious privileges which he so frequently identified with Jerusalem. In his old age, at least, Isaiah looked forward to the time when the particular religious opportunities of the Jew should be the inheritance of humanity.
(Prof. G. A. Smith, D. D.)
(D. Gregg, LL. D.)
(W. L. Watkinson.)
Sunday School Chronicle.God's Gospel is made not for Englishmen, but for all men. Many think the Gospel is a very beautiful thing — if you would only keep it at home; but the moment you try to apply it to anybody else, it will not suit them. Try it upon the poor man; he is too low. Try it upon the Hindoo; he is too high. Each of these must have a religion of his own; one would not suit them all. The rice that forms a suitable food for the natives of hot climates is not suitable for the bleak north. The food that is suitable for the north, the clothing and house suitable for the north, are not suitable for the tropics, and so with religion. "A man looked into the eye of an Anglo-Saxon," says William Arthur, "and he said, 'These are different organisations; you are not so bewildered as to think you can enlighten both these eyes with the same sun. You must have a sun for each of them; you must have different suns, you see, because the eyes are differently organised.'" Very well, that is exceedingly fine in theory, but try it — try whether the sun which God put in the heaven will not illuminate the pale eye of the northerner and the dark eye of the southerner.
(Sunday School Chronicle.)
Sunday School Chronicle.When Haydn was prevailed upon to visit England for the first time, Mozart said to him, "You have no training for the great world, and you speak too few languages." Haydn replied, "My language is understood by all the world." The power of the name of Jesus is, however, more universal in its appeal than the power of great music.
(Sunday School Chronicle.).
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