until the Spirit is poured out upon us from on high. Then the desert will be an orchard, and the orchard will seem like a forest.
pouring forth," or "pouring out," needs, however, to be very carefully used in relation to God's Spirit. It is only suited to the one aspect of the Spirit as an influence. It may be misconceived if applied to God the Spirit regarded, as a Person. When we use this term "pouring" nowadays, we should carefully keep in mind the figure of the rains, with which it is properly associated. The Jewish Church thought of the Spirit as an influence. The Christian Church has received the larger revelation, and knows of the Holy Ghost as a Divine Person, "dwelling with us, and being in us." He comes to us. We may grieve him. He may depart. But only as a figure can we now speak of him as being "poured on us." The figure of "pouring" is also given in Joel 3:1.
I. CHRIST'S CHURCH IS TOO OFTEN AS A DEAD THING. Illustrate from a parched field. Only noxious weeds can get vitality out of such a soil. Fields are dead because God withholds his rains. Souls are dead, Churches are dead, because God withholds his Spirit. Such withholding is done in judgment. The deadness of a Church is always begun in neglect of God, and self-indulgence. The first love fades out; and then spiritual death waits, "crouching at the door." Dead, for there are no expressions indicating the life of trust and love.
II. ONLY GOD CAN QUICKEN THE DEAD. This one thing is always and altogether out of human reach. Man can do much; but he cannot make anything live. God quickens dead souls, and dead Churches, by the gift of his Spirit. Life wakens life. The Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters, and brought forth life. That Spirit of God comes down, like refreshing rains, upon the thirsty fields. That Spirit of God enters the temple of a human soul, and the response is life, finding all due expression in activity: "The wilderness becomes a fruitful field." "The kingdom of Messiah was brought in, and set up, by the pouring out of the Spirit; and so it is still kept up, and will be to the end." Then, with unceasing constancy and earnestness it becomes us to pray for the quickening, reviving grace of God the Holy Ghost. - R.T.
I. THE NATIONAL IMPORT OF THESE WORDS. That the thought of Isaiah was national, and not individual, may easily be gathered from his opening words, and from the whole burden of his message. It is of a king he speaks, and of the effects of a righteous rule. The words of our text are especially addressed to women, and reveal the sad state of society as it was when Isaiah addressed it. There is no hope for the nation when its women are "careless daughters," and contemptible of holy things. Woman is the last bulwark of godliness. If women are lost to God, all is lost. Yet though the prophet's heart groans under the lamentable state of the women of his day, he sees a glad day coming, when the Spirit shall be so outpoured, that society will be purified. Upon the outpouring of the Spirit, three things are to take place.
Until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high.I. THERE IS PROVIDED IN CONNECTION WITH THE CHRISTIAN ECONOMY, THE BESTOWMENT OF SPIRITUAL INFLUENCES ON MANKIND.
1. In what manner is the Spirit poured from on high? It cannot but be expected that there must be not a little of mystery on such a subject. Yet the information we possess is distinct and important. There was a distinct communication of this influence made to the apostles, which was accompanied by immediate and visible signs. But it was intended that this Spirit should influence the hearts of men in general: an arrangement was made, in the Divine goodness, by which the Gospel should be rendered powerful and effectual to produce great moral results in the hearts and on the lives of men. We speak of this influence as common and permanent. We pretend not to state how this Spirit comes down to influence the minds of men: "the wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is everyone that is born of the Spirit." But we do regard it as an essential principle, that the Spirit of God is poured out upon mankind; and we declare that to reject this doctrine is most perilous to the immortal soul!
2. For what purposes is the Spirit poured from on high? One effect of this influence on the minds of the apostles at first was a great and a public one; it was intended to endow them with those miraculous gifts and graces which were commensurate with the divinity of their claims — the truth of their mission — the importance of their object. But the more ordinary influences of the Spirit are still poured out, and are most important to effect the salvation of the soul. He is the Spirit of repentance — of faith — of power — of knowledge — of "wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ" roof holiness — of comfort — of love — of anticipation.
3. To what extent is the Spirit poured from on high? It is evidently the design of God that there should be a very wide extension of this influence.
4. Under what necessity is the Spirit poured from on high? Excepting it were the case that such an arrangement had been made, in the mercy of God, for changing the state of mankind, there could have been no prospect of happiness on earth, or of everlasting glory hereafter.
II. THE FACTS REGARDING THE BESTOWMENT OF SPIRITUAL INFLUENCE UPON MANKIND OUGHT TO PRODUCE ON OUR MINDS THE MOST POWERFUL EFFECTS.
1. We ought carefully to ascertain whether we have the communication of this influence of the Spirit.
2. Pray that there may be an outpouring of this communication. Pray for this gift for yourselves — for your families — for the Church of God — for the world.
Homilist.Whoever has paid any serious attention to religion must be convinced of his natural weakness and inability to fulfil even his own wishes and resolutions. It is to meet this undoubted fact of man's natural inability to do the will of God that the Divine influence of the Holy Spirit was arranged and promised.
I. THE INFLUENCE OF THE SPIRIT IN THE PROGRESS OF THE GOSPEL. The Bible shows us our dependence on God as Creator, Preserver, and Lord.
1. On the first page we find the creation, with all its wonders, recorded. "The earth was without form, and void." But the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters, and forthwith light and order proceeded, life appeared, the heavens and the earth, and all was very good.
2. Sin came and devastated the social world. The evil spirit of temptation was at work.
3. During the times of the prophets the limited range of the Spirit was felt and more favoured days proclaimed.
4. These promises were revived in the words of Christ, who more particularly entered into the offices and working of the Holy Ghost and its influence on the future Church as well as on the individual lives of Christians. On Him also the Spirit descended in a bodily form. He gives definite promises of the particular gift — promises which the disciples did not rightly apprehend.
5. In subsequent history all was made plain and clear. On the day of Pentecost was the great promise fully realised.
6. The apostles, in all their writings, enter fully into its power and influence. Do the converts need wisdom? The Father will give the Spirit of wisdom. Or, deliverance from corruption? The Spirit works in them to "will and to do" the good pleasure. The distinguishing marks of a Christian are that he "walks after the Spirit"; is "spiritually minded"; that the Spirit dwells in a man as a Spirit of adoption, confidence, and love; while the apostle glories in tribulation "because of the Holy Ghost," and prays that the disciples may be "filled with hope" by the power of the Holy Ghost. Thus we see the nature and office of the Spirit.
II. ITS PRACTICAL APPLICATION TO OURSELVES. All persons are divided into two classes.
1. Those who have no adequate apprehension of the nature or value of divine things. "The natural man receiveth not the things of God, for they are foolishness unto him." They are therefore ignorant for want of spiritual illumination. "But," continues the apostle, "God hath shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." This reveals to us the knowledge of ourselves as ruined and lost.
2. But as there may be light without heat, so there may be knowledge without practice. The Word of God may be received with joy, but it may not take root in the soul. It is the glory of the Gospel that it not only inculcates what is right, but gives strength to perform it: it teaches what is evil, and helps to subdue that evil. All this is wrought by the Holy Ghost.
1. There is to be a godly revolution. It may be silent and natural, but is to be very real. The very wilderness is to become a fruitful field. The desert is to blossom as the rose. If we study the prophecy of Joel, we see the signs are revolutionary. And no language employed by Carlyle in his French Revolution is more potent, more expressive. "I will show wonders in the heaven and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke; the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood." It is the recreation of the nation that the prophet has in his mind. Ezekiel's valley of dry bones is to be re-animated. The national identity as well as the national life is to be restored.
2. There is to be an outburst of new life. The wilderness is to blossom, the fruitful field is to become a forest. Mazzini must foster a "Young Italy" to-day if he is to create a new Italy to-morrow. The Spirit generates new life. The visions of possibilities in the young, the fresh dreams of the old, all make for a new existence.
3. There is also to be a newly organised government. A king rules in righteousness. And even the wilderness, type of lawless oppression, is to be under a just government. Judgment shall rule in the wilderness. Righteousness is the basis of peace. Pascal says, "Philosophy says, know thyself. Christianity says, know thy God." That is all the difference between the maxims of the world and the new force that Pentecost created in the world. When men fall into right relationship with God, they will soon fall into right relations with one another.
II. THE EFFECT OF THE OUTPOURING OF THE HOLY GHOST. Pentecost was only a promise, a first-fruit, a miniature fulfilment of the prophet's great words.
1. There is in our prophecy a restoration of blessing. Acquainted as Isaiah was with vast reaches of arid desert, he sees it a fruitful field. Out of death life comes, and into barrenness, fruitfulness.
2. There is to be a multiplication of blessing. That vast, dreary stretch of desert in the East is to be as the Vale of Carmel, luxuriant and beautiful, and Carmel's valley is to be as precious as Lebanon's forest. And righteousness is to sway its sceptre over all. The effect of righteousness is to be quietness and assurance for ever. The Church of apostolic days was a beautiful miniature of still larger things, of richer spiritual results.
3. There is to be a social betterment for all. Wherever Christianity goes it uplifts the races. Unbelief may sneer at Christianity, but it still remains the greatest civilising force in the world.
III. THINGS ESSENTIAL TO THE NEW ORDER. The Holy Spirit is to effect regeneration, by convicting men of sin, of righteousness and of judgment. By breathing into them a new life, and by Divine illumination. Three things are essential to a new kingdom. Power to create it, authority to govern it, a cause for its existence. Garibaldi found his cause in the degraded condition of his people. Jesus finds His cause not only in the lost condition of the human race, but also in the Father's eternal love and purpose. Christ is said to be seated at the right hand of power. That word power is the same as that from which we get dynamics. The very strength of power, a mighty force. Christ is at the right hand of Almighty power. There are certain powers in the world which we call forces; such as gravity, steam, hydraulics, liquid air, electricity. These forces operate along definite lines, just as surely as a train of railway carriages runs along the track of its lines of steel. It is said, "Whenever you obey the law of power, the law of power obeys you." Now, in fact, this is just what Peter says. The Holy Ghost is given "to them that obey Him." If the Holy Spirit is to use a man, work through and by a man, he must obey the laws of the Spirit. He must be conformed to God's will. Let me now quote to you some cases where men have been obedient to the Holy Spirit, and as a result have been filled with power from on high. In each case they have obeyed Christ's word — "Tarry ye... until ye be endued with power from on high." Jonathan Edwards, a quiet, strong intellect, strongly Calvinistic, whose influence in the world has been most mighty, says, "I found from time to time an inward sweetness that would carry me away in my contemplations. This I know not how to express otherwise than as a calm, sweet abstraction of the soul from all the concerns of the world, and sometimes a kind of vision of being alone on the mountains, far from all mankind, sweetly conversing with Christ, and wrapped and swallowed up in God." Then there is John Flavel, who one day journeying alone, had such concentration of mind, such ravishing tastes of heavenly joys, that he utterly lost sight and sense of this world, and for some hours knew no more where he was than if a deep sleep had fallen upon him in the night. Thus we see that these men wholly consecrated to God, obeying His will, placing themselves in direct communication with the Spirit of God, leaving their whole being open to the Spirit's operations, were filled with a Divine power that is inexpressible. And may we not thus lie open to His gracious incoming, and wait daily upon God "until the Spirit be poured out upon us from on high"?
IV. THE NATURE OF THE SPIRIT'S MANIFESTATIONS. The Holy Spirit's presence is seen in His conviction of the sinner. When He is among us, men realise their sinfulness, and cry unto God.
(J. H. Jowett, M. A.)I. Here is A GREAT PROPHET FORESEEING THE OUTPOURING OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD. That in itself would be interesting, but it is rendered doubly so by the fact that —
II. HE PROCEEDS TO NAME THE RESULTS WHICH WOULD FOLLOW THE OUTPOURING (vers. 15-17).
(J. H. Jowett, M. A.)
1. The unfolding of creation in accordance with the fullest design of God. "The wilderness a fruitful field," &c. Is that to be taken literally or only figuratively? Shall we interpret it as only meaning that the wilderness of meanness and stinginess and greed shall break into the fruitful field of benevolence and philanthropy, or shall we interpret it according to its literal meaning that nature itself shall pass into larger bounteousness and perfection? I think the literal interpretation is the right one. I think Isaiah means just what he says, that the beautifying of humanity will elicit higher beauty in the world about us. Throughout the whole book you will find this doctrine taught, that the perfection of nature is involved in the redemption of men. Nature cannot put on all the fulness of her beautiful garments until man puts on the beauty of holiness. The unfolding of one awaits the evolution of the other. Scripture affirms that nature is held in bondage. She is fettered, and unable to realise the full glory of her design, and this because of the moral and spiritual bondage of man. This is not the teaching only of the prophet Isaiah. It is apostolic teaching. Have you ever paused at that profound word of the Apostle Paul, where he says that, "the earnest expectation of creation waiteth for the revealing of the sons of God"? English translation does not in any degree express the extraordinary force of the figure which the apostle employs. What is the figure? It is this. Paul represents nature standing bound, "with uplifted head, scanning with longing eyes the horizon from which she looks for help, her hands stretched out to grasp and welcome the redemption into freedom and perfection which she yearns for and confidently expects." That is the figure: creation, bound and imperfect, yearning and waiting for her redemption and perfection, which is to come through redeemed man.
2. Judgment and righteousness shall dwell among them as abiding guests. Righteousness shall "dwell" there! It shall not be an occasional visitor, a spasmodic impulse, an inconstant and irregular desire. It shall dwell there as a permanent disposition. It shall not be a weak emotion. It shall be a mighty passion. When the Spirit of God is poured out upon a people, that people shall hunger for righteousness. You know how it is with mountain air. Down in the sultry valley we are sluggish and languid. We are indifferent about our food. We come to it as a custom; we take it as a task. But if we get up into the pure, strong air of the higher moorlands, our languor drops from us, and our appetite awakes, and we turn to our food with hunger, and take it with relish.
3. The creation of social peace. Put things right, and peace will come. Maladjustments always produce unrest in the physical and moral life.
(J. H. Jowett, D. D.)
LinksIsaiah 32:15 NIV
Isaiah 32:15 NLT
Isaiah 32:15 ESV
Isaiah 32:15 NASB
Isaiah 32:15 KJV
Isaiah 32:15 Bible Apps
Isaiah 32:15 Parallel
Isaiah 32:15 Biblia Paralela
Isaiah 32:15 Chinese Bible
Isaiah 32:15 French Bible
Isaiah 32:15 German Bible
Isaiah 32:15 Commentaries