One who breaks open the way will go up before them; they will break through the gate, and go out by it. Their king will pass through before them, the LORD as their leader.
I. TO THE BREAKING OF THE BABYLONISH BONDAGE. Cyrus was a bond breaker. In a certain sense the words are applicable to him (Ezra 1:2 4, etc.). But above him was the greater Deliverer, whom Cyrus himself recognized, who had long before predicted deliverance (Isaiah 45:1-6), and who now puts it into the heart of the Persian monarch to act as his servant. Before God interposed, the captives were but as a flock of sheep (ver. 12) whom a fold, not to say a fortress, could restrain. Till the seventy years of destined captivity were fulfilled no breaker could release that flock; but then "the man that executeth my counsel from a far country" appeared (Isaiah 46:9-11). When God broke through, it was an easy thing, even for those timid sheep, to pass through or to break through any gate (like Peter passing the iron gate of his prison). As they streamed forth from Babylon, Zerubbabel, "the Prince of Judah" (Ezekiel 1:8), led them. But there was another invisible Leader, of a nobler royalty than Zerubbabel - "their King," who went before them (Isaiah 49:8-10; Isaiah 52:12). See Exodus 13:21: there the symbol was visible; now the invisible King was seen by the eye of prophetic faith. Learn to recognize the Divine hand in all national deliverances; as did David (2 Samuel 5:20), and Queen Elizabeth at the destruction of the Armada (medal and its inscription, "Afflavit Deus, et dissipuntur"), and godly monarchs in later days.
II. TO DELIVERANCE FROM THE BONDAGE OF SIN. "The Word" was the Divine Deliverer of Israel from Babylon (Isaiah 63:9), and is so of us. The Jews recognized "the Breaker" as a title of Messiah their Prince. In this work of spiritual deliverance he was foretold, and now is revealed as:
2. A Leader and Commander. (Isaiah 55:4.)
3. A Redeemer at the cost of conflict. (Isaiah 63:1-6.)
5. A Savior from foes within as well as oppressors without. (Matthew 1:21; Titus 2:14.) Who shall save all Israel at last. (Isaiah 59:20, 21; Romans 11:26.) In both these deliverances the redeemed have their appointed work. Israel was hidden to humble themselves in repentance (Leviticus 26:40-42), to pray in faith (Jeremiah 29:12, 13), and to accept the Lord as their Redeemer and Leader (Hosea 1:11). And we, too, are commanded to repent, to "believe in the Name of his Son Jesus Christ" (Acts 17:30; 1 John 3:23), and thus to work "the work of God" (John 6:29). Then Christ our Bond breaker will, for us, break through the power of evil habit, of this present evil world, and of the infernal oppressor of our souls.
"The world, with sin and Satan,
The breaker is come up before them: they have broken up, and have passed through the gate, and are gone out by it
I. THE WAY OF THE LORD'S RANSOMED OPENED UP BY THE GREAT REDEEMER. "The breaker is come up before them."
1. The designation given to the glorious Messiah. "The breaker." Cyrus was an instrument in the hand of God for breaking the Babylonish yoke. Herein he was a type of Christ, by whom the yoke of our spiritual captivity under sin and Satan is broken.
2. We have the courageous appearance of the glorious Redeemer in His breaking work. He "comes up," He appears upon the field with an undaunted and heroic courage.
3. The party that He heads, or those in whose quarrel this Breaker appears. Enquire upon what account Christ is called the Breaker.(1) In general, because of the great opposition He had to break through.(2) He breaks up a new and living way, by which we have access to God and glory.(3) He breaks through the storms of Divine wrath, the rage of men and devils, in order to accomplish our redemption.(4) In a day of power He breaks the enmity of our hearts against Him.(5) Those who will not bow unto His royal authority He breaks in pieces.
6. He may be called a Breaker because of the breaking trials He brings on His own people, and the judgments and calamities that He brings on an offending Church or nation.
II. THE UPCOMING OF CHRIST AS THE BREAKER. Understand of His coming up to avenge the quarrel of His children and people. Like a mighty champion He takes the field. Tell of some seasonable upcomings.
1. He appeared in our quarrel in the council of peace.
2. He came seasonably immediately after the fall of man.
3. Really and personally in His incarnation.
4. In the power of His Spirit in the dispensation of the Gospel.
5. In the outward dispensation of His providence.
6. When He revives His own work in a backsliding land and church.
7. In every display of His grace and love to a particular believer; when He seasonably interposes for the relief of a poor soul sinking under the burden of sin, temptation, affliction, and desertion.
8. At death.Question — In what manner doth He Come up in our quarrel, to the help of the weak against the mighty?
1. All His appearances for the help and relief of His people have been well-timed.
2. He comes up solitarily. He alone comes up. It is His own arm brings salvation.
3. With the greatest alacrity and cheerfulness.
4. Speedily, with no lingering or tarrying.
7. His coming to His breaking work is irresistible. And —
8. It is with much awful greatness and majesty.
III. WHAT IS IMPLIED IN HIS "COMING UP BEFORE THEM"?
1. It imports that He has them and their case deeply at heart.
2. It implies that their way is hard and difficult.
3. It implies His authority to rule and govern them.
4. It implies strength and ability to support authority.
5. It implies their inability to break up their own way.
6. As the Breaker is gone up before them, it implies that He has paved the road, and travelled the way before them. He goes before His people in obedience, in suffering, in going through death into glory.
7. It implies His routing and discomfiting all the enemies that stood in the way of our salvation: Satan, sin, the world, death.
8. It implies that the way to heaven is patent.
9. It implies that, whatever dangers, difficulties, or opposition be in their way, they are in absolute safety under His conduct.
IV. THE GROUNDS AND REASONS OF THIS DISPENSATION, OR WHY DOTH CHRIST BREAK UP THE WAY TO HIS PEOPLE?
1. Because they were gifted to Him of the Father, as a heritage and possession.
2. Because they are the purchase of His blood.
3. Because His faithfulness is engaged to lead them in their way.
4. Because He has to give an account of them to the Father.
5. Because they cannot break up their own way.
6. Because they trust in Him as Leader and Commander.
7. Because of the near and dear relation that He has come under unto them.
I. AS INTERPOSING FOR HIS PEOPLE IN A PECULIAR CHARACTER. "The breaker." The demolisher. One who beats down before them all barriers and impediments that obstruct their way. The figure places us where we really are, far off from God and His kingdom, with many obstructions lying in between God's kingdom and us; with more than distance to be got over — with barriers and obstacles to be surmounted. What are these? Some of them lie out of us, some within us. Out of us is —
1. The judicial displeasure of God. It is our guilt which has subjected us to His wrath.
2. The opposition of Satan. By Satan is meant, not one being, but a numerous host of beings in the spiritual world opposed to our happiness. Through this difficulty Christ breaks. Not, as we might have supposed, by exterminating these enemies of our salvation, scattering them out of our path; but in first making His own way to heaven in man's form through them, and then by communicating strength to His people to do as He has done — withstand these enemies, force their way through them, and tread them down. Within His people, what is there to impede them in their way to heaven? We may say that everything within them is an impediment to them in their way. There is nothing within fallen man, naturally, that does not tend to carry him away from God, rather than to lead him to God.See —
1. The natural self-sufficiency and pride of heart, which we may call self-righteousness. But Christ comes, and touches the proud heart of man, and this barrier in it falls down.
2. There is the unGodliness of the heart. Almost as stiff a barrier in the way of our salvation as its pride. Here too the heavenly Breaker comes in. He opens the sinner's heart, communicates to it a holy principle; and this principle, warring against the unholiness in him, gradually breaks its strength, masters and dethrones it.
3. The unbelief of our hearts. This leads to hesitation and delay, under one excuse after another.
II. THE ESCAPE OF GOD'S ISRAEL IN CONSEQUENCE OF CHRIST'S INTERPOSITION FOR THEM. Two remarks.
1. A great change has taken place in the spiritual condition of Christ's people, in consequence of what He has done for them.
2. The people really delivered by Christ cooperate with Him in their deliverance. You must be warned against imagining that you have one particle of spiritual ability or strength of your own. But you must be warned as earnestly against taking up with what may be termed a passive religion.
III. THE HIGH PRIVILEGE OF THESE ESCAPED LIBERATED MEN AFTER THEIR ESCAPE. "Their king shall pass before them, and the Lord on the head of them." This is more than saying we shall have the Lord for us, we shall have Him with us. It indicates not merely the presence, but the near presence of the Lord. It may be a figure taken from the cloudy Pillar hanging over Israel, overshadowing them. It is an assurance at once of discipline and of safety on our way to heaven.
(Charles Bradley, M. A.)
1. It is appropriate to the Lord Jesus, because it was through His agency alone that the power of sin was broken. Our redeemed broke the strength of the law, by obeying its rigid requirements in our stead.
2. This title marks the character and office of the Messiah when, by His death, the destruction between Jews and Gentiles was forever removed.
3. The title is appropriate, since by His death Christ destroyed death, and by His triumphant resurrection He has given an earnest of what He will one day accomplish for all who fall asleep in Him.
4. Appropriate also when we notice the steady inroads which His kingdom has made upon the widespread dominions of the Prince of Darkness. In vain does infidelity attempt to account for the improvement in morality and refinement by attributing them to the advance of civilisation alone. Stubborn facts, drawn from the history of nations, contradict the assertion. Civilisation, unless animated and directed by the religion of Christ, has uniformly corrupted and deteriorated public morals. We must look to a higher source than the wisdom or ingenuity or strength of man for the agency which has vanquished the powers of darkness, and redeemed the world from bondage; and we need not look for it in vain.
(John N. Norton, D. D.)
II. IN WHAT RESPECTS MAY HE BE SAID TO "COME UP"? When our first parents sinned, He came up in the promise. He came up really and personally in the incarnation, etc. In the chariots of a preached Gospel. In every display of His grace and love to such as believe.
III. WHAT MAY BE IMPLIED IN HIS COMING UP BEFORE THEM? He comes before them as a Shepherd, as a General, as a King. It imports that the way to heaven is patent.
IV. THE ESCAPE OF THE RANSOMED BY THIS WAY. They have broken up, etc., out of darkness into light, out of bond age into liberty. They have passed through the law gate of conviction, and the gospel-gate of conversion.
(T. Hannam.)I. THE LORD JESUS IN THE CHARACTER OF A BREAKER. By breaker understand one who burst through all obstacles.
1. What are the difficulties to be broken through?
2. Jesus, as the Breaker, has burst through every difficulty.
II. HIS PEOPLE FOLLOWING IN HIS STEPS. Allusion is to the entrance of a victorious captain, with his troops following. Every act of Christ was done for His Church. How great will be the final glory of the Saviour! How blessed is the lot of the people of God! How awful it must be to be a stranger to Christ.
(J. G. Breay, B. A.)
I. THE CAPTIVITY, IMPLIED IN THE PROMISE OF DELIVERANCE. The people are described as sheep, but their salvation is spoken of in language which implies they are captives, and such captives that no other than the Lord Jehovah can effect their freedom. It is a captivity to sin. It is a willing captivity. They have sold themselves.
II. THEIR GLORIOUS REDEMPTION. Who is it that undertakes their cause, and as their Redeemer is mighty to set them free?
III. THE MAKING EFFECTUAL OF THE REDEMPTION THUS OBTAINED IN THE RELEASE AND LIBERTY OF THE CAPTIVES. They break through their unbelief; they break through the barriers of sin, guilt, and death, and lay hold on eternal life. They break, also, from their sins, from the world, from its ungodly ways, and from whatever would withstand them in their following their glorious Lord and King, who goes before them, and whom they obey as their Leader and Commander. A threefold application.
1. Warning to such as go on still in their trespasses.
2. Encouragement to all that are sensible of their sins, and concerned about their souls.
3. Comfort for all such as are following after the Lord.
(J. T. Parker, M. A.)I. THE GREAT WORK OF OUR DIVINE REDEEMER, BY WHICH HE HAS BROKEN FOR THE CAPTIVES THE PRISON HOUSE OF THEIR BONDAGE. Many of us know not the bondage in which we are held. We are chained by sin, chained by the habit of evil with a strength of which you never know till you try to shake off.
II. JESUS CHRIST AS THE OPENER, AND THE PATH, TO GOD. Our condition is not only one of bondage to evil, but also one of separation from God. We do not know God as He is, except by Jesus Christ. It is only the God manifest in Jesus Christ that draws men's hearts to Him. That God that is in Christ is the only God that humanity ever loved. He, by the fact of His Cross and Passion, has borne and borne away the impediments of our own sin and transgression which rise forever between us and Him, unless He shall sweep them out of the way.
III. CHRIST IS THE BREAKER AS THE CAPTAIN OF OUR LIFE'S MARCH. "When He putteth forth His sheep, He goeth before them."
IV. HE IS THE BREAKER FOR US OF THE BANDS OF DEATH. Christ's resurrection is the only solid proof of a future life. It is not possible that we should be holden of the impotent chains that He has broken.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.).
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