I will establish a sign among them, and I will send survivors from among them to Tarshish, Put, and Lud the archers, to Tubal, Javan, and the islands far away, and to the nations who have not heard of My fame or seen My glory. So they will proclaim My glory among the nations.
I. THAT GOD MAY CALL US TO UNWELCOME BUT EXCELLENT SERVICE. The Jews could not have anticipated, nor would they have desired, such a disposition of themselves, and such a use of their powers as is indicated in the nineteenth verse. It was strange to their thought, alien to their sympathy. Yet it was a most admirable service, with which they might well be contented. Thus God often blesses us now with opportunities we do not court, but which prove to be excellent and admirable indeed. Possibly he may deal with us in a way very similar to that before us. As the persecution of the early disciples resulted in their going everywhere, away from home and friends, preaching the gospel (Acts 8:8), so some providential ordering which is unpleasant at the time, removing us from scenes that are inviting or from persons that are dear to us, may place us in conditions of great usefulness and blessing.
II. THAT GOD INVITES US ALL TO A NOBLE VICTORY. There had been bitter hatred and bloody strife between Jew and Gentile; each had sought to triumph over the other on the battle-field; each longed to have his feet on the other's neck. The peaceful picture of the text (ver. 20) supplies a beautiful and blessed substitute. One is to bring the other, in friendly and honourable conveyance, and to present him in holy sacrifice to God. Not to wreak vengeance; not to obtain civil supremacy; but to bring to God's house and to introduce to his service, is to gain the true victory over our brother.
III. THAT GOD IS EFFECTING A WONDROUS AND LASTING RENOVATION. He is creating new heavens and a new earth which will endure (ver. 22 and Isaiah 65:17). He will make all things new. This kingdom of sin and folly which has so long prevailed shall disappear, and in its place shall be seen a kingdom of "righteousness, peace, and joy;" a far greater change, more wonderful, more difficult of accomplishment, more to be desired, than the displacement of the material elements and the substitution of others in their place. This new kingdom is one which will be essentially Divine.
1. It will be of God. He "will make it."
2. It will be characterized by reverence for him, and one of its main features will be regular and universal worship (ver. 23). It will be durable as the strongest of his handiworks. It "shall remain."
IV. THAT GOD WILL RECEIVE THOSE FURTHEST AWAY TO NEAREST INTERCOURSE WITH HIMSELF. Of the Gentiles themselves God would take "for priests and for Levites" (ver. 21). This was a startling promise, and never was literally fulfilled. But it finds a glorious fulfilment in the kingdom of Christ. Now we (Gentiles) who were afar off are brought nigh. We worship and serve in the sanctuary; we sit down at "the table of the Lord;" we have freest and fullest access to God; every harrier in the way of perfect intercourse has disappeared; we are admitted to the royal presence, and "stand before the King;" nay, we ourselves are "kings and priests unto God." That which once seemed hopelessly impossible has become a constant privilege under Jesus Christ. - C.
Isaiah 40:15). This distinction between the nearer nations who have experienced something of the greatness of Jehovah through contact with His people Israel, and the remoter nations who have not heard His name, orginates with the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 38:1). But while the distinction is common to the two prophets, the development of the idea is strikingly different. In Ezekiel Gog's Ignorance of Jehovah tempts him to an act of sacrilege on the land of Israel which is avenged by the annihilation of him and his host. The spirit of this passage is more evangelical. Jehovah sends missionaries from the nearer nations to those who have not heard His fame nor seen His glory; and the report carries conviction to their minds, so that they restore the Israelites exiled amongst them, as an offering to the Lord.
And I will set a sign among them.I. THE MANNER IN WHICH THE NATIONS WERE TO BE GATHERED INTO THE CHURCH OF GOD.
II. THE INSTRUMENTS TO RE EMPLOYED IN EFFECTING THIS GREAT WORK.
(Prof. G. A. Smith, D. D.)
(Prof. J. Skinner, D. D.)
And they shall declare My glory among the Gentiles.I. THE STATE OF THE HEATHEN WHO KNOW NOT GOD.
1. Their present state. They know nothing of the God of love. The weary and heavy-laden among them never heard Christ's "Come unto Me. The sorrowful among them never heard His "Blessed are they that mourn." They know nothing of the Paraclete, the Comforter, the Strengthener, although their need as urgent aa ours, of comfort and of strength. They do not know what prayer is. They do but send up deprecations to demons. They, as we, are bereaved of dear ones; but the grand music of those words, "I am the Resurrection and the Life,"- never hushed the discords of their wailing, nor lifted the darkness of their silent despair.
2. Their future. All is to them wrapt in gloom impenetrable.
II. OUR RESPONSIBILITY. Imagine the plague once more devastating our cities. Suppose you knew of an infallible remedy. Then suppose utter indifference on your part in imparting it. What a monster you would be! No one really loves the Lord Jesus who is not zealous to make others love Him. If you do love Him, and are anxious to make others love Him, what are you doing for the spread of His kingdom?
III. WHAT CAN WE DO? We can pray for the full coming of Christ's kingdom, for the sending more labourers into the harvest. We can provoke others to pray. We can try to realize this truth, that our Lord makes the evangelization of the world to depend, in we know not what degree, upon faithful, earnest prayer.
(J. R. Vernon, M. A.)
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