Hear the uproar from the city; listen to the voice from the temple! It is the voice of the LORD, repaying His enemies what they deserve!
I. HE IS HEARD FROM HIS TEMPLE. With "a sound of uproar, a sound from the temple." He is issuing forth to render their deserts to his foes. "He will render to every man according to his deserts" is a great leading word in religion. God must be feared as well as loved - nay, cannot be truly loved unless feared. From that same seat whence go forth the sweet sounds of reconciliation, the sound of the gospel's silver trumpet, go forth the thunders of the God who appears to execute judgment upon human guilt. He is a "consuming Fire." His wrath may be "kindled;" we need to beware "lest he be angry." He is an awful God of whom, nevertheless, it may be said, "This awful God is ours."
II. THE RESTORATION OF ISRAEL. With great energy the thought is put before us that Israel in these last days has sprung into new birth and life. The gift of male children was especially dear to the Israelitish heart. Now there is to be a great and sudden increase of Zion's children. "This refers, probably," says Barnes, "to the sudden increase of the Church when the Messiah came, and to the great revivals of religion which attended the preaching of the gospel. Three thousand were converted on a single day (Acts 2.), and the gospel was speedily propagated over the known world." Something unlike the usual course of nature and of human affairs is hinted. Slow is the growth of vegetation, slow the growth of human institutions. Here an event as startling as the breaking forth of the tree out of the seed in a single day is contemplated; "a nation born at once!" In fact, Christianity is such a wonder. A plant out of a dry ground, mysterious in its origin, despised in its professors, humble in its early associations, yet speedily, almost suddenly, overshading the lands with its branches, and yielding fruit and healing for the nations. "The expansiveness of Zion is such that nought but Omnipotence will be able to check it; and as Omnipotence has no motive for checking it, Zion has nothing to fear in heaven or earth" (Cheyne). - J.
A voice of noise from the city.
1. What is the voice which comes from the city, from the secular pursuits, the social habits, the business transactions, the political doings of men? There is a voice of noise, as of men that laugh, as of men that strive, as of men that boast. Luxury, with all its attendant evils, has come up as a cry from all our land, into the ears of earnest and anxious men, who know how foolish it is to be "lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God." It has carried with it a hasting to be rich; and out of that has grown a covetousness, a cold system of reckless speculation, a hard system of indifference, to the ruin of many for the enrichment of a few, which have made our age and our country a by-word amongst men. What awful accounts of utter contempt for human sufferings! What sad chronicles of entire forgetfulness of human wrongs have become the familiar subjects of every-day knowledge amongst us! These are crying evils in our days; the voice of noises from the city, symptoms of our social life, of which all true patriots ought to be blushingly ashamed. Yet, over the moanings of the oppressed, and the sorrows of the forsaken, the roar still rises. I ask every pious parent to keep a jealous and watchful eye upon the children growing in their simplicity at home, and to protect them against the strange fascination which has come over the land. I call upon all true servants of Christ to come out and be separate, and touch not the unclean thing. The Lord's people should be often with their God, seeking protection against the prevailing current of evil in men's hearts, minds, and ways. Expect no sympathy, because everything seems to say that faithful men must suffer for their faithfulness in the evil day. Fall back upon the right, the true, the good, the pure; fall back upon the oath and covenant and power and promise of God; but make no compromise with Satan.
2. But the prophet heard a voice out of the temple, and so may we. The luxury of the nation has had its influence upon the nation's faith. Men who will not shape their conduct by God's law will soon find means of accommodating their creed to their conduct. The pure Gospel is too plain-spoken for the consciences of men who desire to quarrel with God rather than with themselves. What is the voice from the temple in this our day? The great feature is a real indifference, not an avowed unbelief, not a bold blasphemy, not a studied contempt, not an entire ignoring of religious things, but a real indifference. There is an evil spirit abroad which takes to itself the blessed name of charity. It has always an excuse for evil, but it has little patience with truth. It has no strong convictions and no real love. There is a voice to be heard from the temple which may well make thoughtful people tremble. Men are falling again to their old and mischievous work of tampering with God's Word. Multitudes, it is to be feared, have lost their reverence, if not their faith.
3. This brings me to the third voice, which the prophet heard in the days of Israel's decline and fall: "A voice of the Lord that rendereth recompence to His enemies." In the written Word we have warning about evil time. (1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 3:1.) The voice of God is against all such evil (2 Timothy 4:1-4). "The voice of Him that rendereth recompense unto His enemies is, Woe unto you." What, then, should God's servants do? The voice from the city suggests that they must make their healthy influence felt in social life by a solemn and sacred protest against things which frivolize, secularize, materialize men's minds and ways. The voice from the temple suggests that all who love the pure Gospel truth must search it out so as to boldly set it forth, stand by it, speak for it, identify themselves with its honour, its advance, its defence. And the voice of the avenging God suggests that all who know Him should humble themselves before Him, and plead with Him that He would have mercy.
(J. Richardson, M.A.)
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