Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will come quickly. Your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
I. THE LIGHT IS THERE. We hide it under the bushel of our formalism and worldliness. Divine revelation gives it - yea, keeps it alive; and it' we remove the obstacles to its glory, it will burst forth. Many blame religion for the faults and formalities of nominally religious men.
II. THE REVELATION OF THIS LIGHT IS A MORNING. Mornings have often come alike in Jewish and Christian history. Isaiah awakened the Hebrew nation to a new life. Mediaevalism with its dark superstitions, the inquisition with its abhorrent cruelties, did not destroy Christianity. What has been well called the "morning of the Reformation" came. Look back now to Savonarola, and you will see what one man can do to herald a better day in darkest times. Then! Not by an accident in history, nor by an arbitrary decree of God; but by obedience to his Word and by the baptism of his Spirit. And beautiful as are all mornings, when the sun touches the clouds with gold, and fills the earth with splendour, and makes dancing sunshine on the sapphire sea, none are so beautiful as the mornings of new moral life for the world. - W.M.S.
Isaiah 35:6; Genesis 7:11; Psalm 74:15, of the bursting of waters through a fissure in the earth's surface; by a vivid metaphor the dawn was conceived as "splitting" the heavens and flooding the world with light The same word occurs on the Moaite Stone in the phrase "from the splitting of the dawn."
Then shall thy light break forth.
I. MEN AND CHURCHES CHARGE GOD FOOLISHLY, AND COMPLAIN WITHOUT CAUSE OF THEIR OWN LOW ESTATE.
II. GOD REBUTS THEIR BLASPHEMOUS CHARGE, AND ASSERTS THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF HIS DEALINGS IN AN APPEAL TO THEIR OWN CONSCIENCES AND COMMON-SENSE.
III. GOD RETURNS THE CHARGE AGAINST HIMSELF ON THE SINNERS' OWN HEADS, AND REVEALS HIS SECRET, IF MEN WILL HAVE EARS TO HEAR. "Then" is the secret of light and darkness; of health and sickness, or want of spiritual vigour and vitality; of covenant righteousness in the enjoyment of covenant blessings, or apparent breach of covenant in the withholding of what is good; of glory, such as that of Israel in the wilderness, when the glory of the Lord was "their rereward," when the pillar of cloud and fire was in the midst of them by day and night, or shame, as when the ark was in the hands of the Philistines, or the Assyrian or Babylonian invaded God's heritage and profaned His temple; of prayers answered, or unanswered; of God's presence manifested in undeniable! tokens, or denied, undiscerned, apparently withdrawn; of power to be God's witnesses and workmen in doing good to others, or impotence, conscious inability to be fellow-labourers with God and for God, want of spiritual life and energy. "Then" is the secret — then, and not till then — then, and not otherwise — then certainly-then according to the promise of the covenant, and in the way of the covenant and kingdom. In further application of the text to ourselves learn such lessons as the following —
1. The salvation of the Gospel is salvation from sin itself.
2. In the Gospel, accordingly, blessedness and righteousness go together, and so also sin and misery.
3. There is under the Gospel no substitute for repentance.
4. Man, in all the work of salvation, from beginning to end, must co-operate with God.
1. God shall surprise them with the return of mercy after great affliction, which shall be as welcome as the light of the morning after a long and dark night (vers. 8, 10). They that arc cheerful in doing good, God will make them cheerful in enjoying good. They that have showed mercy shall find mercy. Those that have helped others out of trouble, God will help them when it is their turn.
2. God will put honour upon them. Good works shall be recompensed with a good name. This is included in that light which riseth out of obscurity.
3. They shall always be safe under the Divine protection. "Thy righteousness shall go before thee," as the vanguard, to secure thee from enemies that charge thee in the front; and "the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward," the gathering, host to bring up those of thee that are weary and are left behind, and to secure thee from the enemies that, like Amalek, fall upon thy rear.
4. God will be always nigh unto them to hear their prayers (ver. 9). As, on the one hand, "he that shuts his ears to the cry of the poor shall himself cry and God will not hear him," so on the other hand, he that is liberal to the poor, his prayers shall come up, with his alms, for a memorial before God (Acts 10:4).
5. God will direct them in all difficult and doubtful cases (ver. 11).
6. God will give them abundance of satisfaction in their own minds (ver. 11).
7. They and their families shall be public blessings (ver. 12).
( M. Henry.)
(Prof. J. Skinner,D. D.)
Thine health shall spring forth speedily.I. ESSENTIALS OF A HEALTHY CHURCH.
1. A Scriptural constitution.
2. Nutritious food.
3. Pure air.
4. Regular exercise.
II. CHARACTERISTICS OF A HEALTHY CHURCH
1. Health is sometimes known by outward appearances. The rosy cheeks, the sparkling eyes, the sonorous voice, all testify to health. A healthy Church may be known by its prayer-meetings, contributions, missionary spirit, etc.
2. Health is known by tastes. A sickly man's taste is bad. Unwholesome dainties are preferred to strong meat. So with regard to an unhealthy Church. Silly anecdotes are preferred to good scriptural teaching. Thinks much of forms and ceremonies.
3. Contentment of mind. An unhealthy man is querulous and difficult to please. So an unhealthy Church. It is a fault-finding Church.
4. Work. Sickness disables a man for labour. Health stimulates to work. A healthy Church may be known by its labour.
III. THE DESIRABILITY OF A HEALTHY CHURCH. A healthy Church —
1. Is one of great comfort to itself.
2. Will survive through many trials. The healthy man is heedless of east winds, etc. So a healthy Church survives persecutions, etc.
3. Is attractive. People shun unhealthy Churches as they do fever dens.
4. Is one likely to live.Lessons:
1. A morally sick Church is a great curse to a neighbourhood.
2. The sooner the better that many a Church should apply to the great Physician for spiritual healing.
3. The Church will by and by become perfectly whole.
4. When perfectly whole, diseased persons will no longer be admitted into its fellowship (Revelation 21:27).
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