Isaiah 54:7


The prevailing thought here is the prevalence of God's goodness over his severity. For a small moment he had forsaken, but with great mercies he would comfort his people. Against the "little wrath" in which his face was hidden there was to be set the "everlasting kindness" with which he would redeem them. The largely preponderant, completely outweighing, superabounding goodness of the Lord is manifest on every side. We see it -

I. IN THE NATURAL WORLD. There is a great deal of misery beneath the sky. How could it be otherwise when there is so much of cruelty and sin? But if we look long at all that happens as the direct result of God's handiwork, we shall find that "mercy triumphs over wrath," good over ill. There is a large and blessed preponderance of light over darkness, of pleasure over pain, of joy over sorrow, of hope over despair, of confidence over distrust, of fertility over barrenness, of plenty over poverty, of society over solitude, of life over death. But for the disturbing and destructive element of sin, this would obviously be the case in a very much larger degree than it is now.

II. IN THE CHURCH OF GOD. The Church of God has been represented at different times by different communities. At one time by the suffering community in Egypt; at another, by the Church in the wilderness; at another, by the distracted society under the judges; at another, by the triumphant nation under David and Solomon; at another, by Israel in exile; at another, by the returned and rejoicing people of God who had. come home from captivity. It is now represented by the Churches of Christ scattered over many lands, and forming apparently many distinct religious bodies. Sometimes God has lifted upon his people the light of his countenance, and they have rejoiced in his manifested favour; at other times he has withdrawn his face, and made his people to feel the weight of his chastening hand. But upon the whole it has been found, and in the end it will be found, that his manifestations of mercy and grace have triumphed greatly over those of wrath and penalty. There were times in the history of the Jewish Church when its light nearly went out in the surrounding darkness, but it did not expire; by the Divine hand it was guarded and fed, and has now become, under other conditions, a glorious sun, giving light and heat to all the nations. Mountains and hills, in the shape of kingdoms and powers, have departed and been removed; but God's kindness to his Church will not depart, nor will his faithfulness fail. With everlasting kindness will God be merciful to the Church which bears the name, and teaches the truth, and extends the kingdom, of his Son.

III. IN THE CAREER OF HIS FAITHFUL SERVANTS. There is no uniform course which the life of piety is found to take; it takes almost every variety of ways. Sometimes it lies much in the sunshine and but little in the shadow; and sometimes it is shaded nearly the whole way through. And how many kinds of shadow fall on the good man's path! It is the apparent withdrawal of God's favour from his soul; or it is the false charge which takes away his fair fame; or it is overwhelming loss involving others as well as himself in struggle or even in penury; or it is early separation from those most dearly beloved. There is "the hiding of God's face;" the hour comes when nothing but the Master's words will utter the feelings of the heart, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" But all this is temporary; nay, everything being counted, it is but momentary. God has in reserve infinite resources which, afterwards if not now, yonder if not here, will make up a thousandfold for all that he sends of trial and suffering. Let the faithful soul build on the immovable rock of God's integrity. Mountains may melt and hills may flee away, the foundations of the solid earth may be broken up, but God's kindness cannot depart, because his Word cannot fail; that is the one absolutely and eternally impossible thing. - C.







For a small moment have I forsaken thee.
Homilist.
This is a word of blessed comfort from One who is able to give it. Here is —

I. TEMPORARY AFFLICTION. Observe —

1. Its Author. "I have forsaken." All trial comes from the hand of God Himself. Means may be employed, but He works through and by the means.

2. Its method. "Forsaken." The greatest sorrow of Christ was that He was forsaken of God. The terror of hell will be that it is a God-forsaken world.

3. Its duration. "A small moment." It is nothing in comparison to time, less than nothing in the face of eternity. Affliction may endure for a moment.

II. PERMANENT CONSOLATION. Here is —

1. The joy of reunion. How blessed the meeting of friends, separated, it may be, by a quarrel, or a sin.

2. The joy of of forgiveness. "With great, mercies". etc. The past will be overlooked, the future guaranteed. All this will be undertaken by God. As He sends the trials so He sends the mercies.

(Homilist.)

mercies gathered: —

I. What is the view here given us of God's MANIFESTED DISPLEASURE towards the individual mentioned in the text? "For a small moment have I forsaken thee." God's forsaking His people cannot be at all in sovereignty, but must always be in justice; the very next verse tells us, in fact, that it was "in wrath" — that it was on account of sin. As to the manifestation of displeasure, God speaks here of His "forsaking" us.

1. He is sometimes said to forsake His people, when He leaves them under temporal affliction. This was very frequently the meaning of such words in reference to God's ancient people, the Jews.

2. Sometimes this phrase is used, we apprehend, when there seems to be an obstruction of access to the Throne of Grace — when our approach to it seems barred and obstructed.

3. Sometimes the phrase is used in reference to the spiritual declension of God's people.

II. THE GENTLENESS AND LIGHTNESS OF HIS MANIFESTED DISPLEASURE are likewise referred to: "For a small moment." Now, putting these two words together — "small moment" — and connecting likewise, this" verse with" the succeeding verse, we may. understand, that both the degree and the duration of the punishment are referred to in the text. For a small moment" — a moment of smallness, or of lightness; and again, "In a little wrath I hid My face from thee for a moment." This will appear to us more particularly, if we place in comparison with those afflictions to which we have referred certain other circumstances.

1. For instance, only compare the afflictions which you have endured with your deserts.

2. Then compare your sufferings with your mercies.

3. Compare your sufferings with those of others.

4. Compare your sufferings with those of Jesus.

5. Think of your present sufferings compared with everlasting torment.

III. Let us turn to the declaration of God respecting the mercy which He has in reserve for his people — HIS GRACIOUS DESIGN TOWARDS HIS PEOPLE. "With great mercies will I gather thee." This gathering, as it has reference to the Church of God, will be seen to have several meanings.

1. As to individuals, it may very fairly express the design of God to gather to Himself those that are far from Him by wicked works.

2. Then, "I will gather" you to the possession and enjoyment of all the privileges of My people — this, of course, must be included — to the fellowship of the saints.

3. Perhaps this may be very fairly applied to God's gathering His saints to Himself by death.

4. There will be the final gathering, the universal gathering at His second coming.

IV. "WITH GREAT MERCIES," He says, "will I gather thee." God, then, is telling His people what are His intentions, and is showing them what are His dispositions to them, in association with these great designs. Let us apply the phrase —

1. To the originating mercy.

2. To the procuring cause.

3. To the efficient cause — the operation of the Spirit.

4. To the providential course of means which God employs.

5. To the nature of the blessings which God has vouchsafed to you, and which He will vouchsafe to you.

(J. Griffin.)

Sometimes it is needful to be forsaken for the moment that we may be properly gathered. We have seen some loving one teaching a child to walk; the arms were taken away from the child, but not far. The child could never be taught to walk if the arms were round about it; it must be left for a little moment, but the protection must be always near. Alienation does not always mean penalty, it sometimes means education. Alienation may mean penalty, and then the arms are in very deed a long way off — indeed, they may be lifted up to smite the transgressor, the wanderer whose heart has gone astray, having loved lies and darkness rather than truth.

(J. Griffin.)

A good many supposed alienations are merely the result of physical causes. If our physical nature were better understood our spiritual depressions would be a great deal less thought of. Many a man suffers from melancholy who supposes that God has forsaken him, simply because he has inherited a constitution that has been vitiated, or because he has tampered with the laws and ordinances of nature, or because he is undergoing a process which may be absolutely necessary for his purification and strengthening. Do not suppose that God is moved by moods and-whims as we are, that he favours a child to-day, and rebukes the child to-morrow, without any reason or sense of justice.

(J. Griffin.)

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