May there be an abundance of grain in the land; may it sway atop the hills. May its fruit trees flourish like the forests of Lebanon, and its people like the grass of the field.
I. THAT WHERE CHRIST REIGNS THERE IS LIFE. He is the Source and the Giver of life. Where the waters that Ezekiel saw came, there was life; and so where the gospel of Christ comes, there is life. The mind that before was dark has the life of truth; the conscience that before was dormant has the life of righteousness; the heart that before was dead in sins is quickened to the new life of love and holiness. Christ's rule ever tends to the well being of his people.
II. THAT WHERE THERE IS LIFE THERE WILL BE PRAYER. The first sign of infant life is breathing; and the first sign of the soul's life is the breathing of prayer to God. The life within expresses itself in accordance with its nature and needs. The mind that has light cries for more light; the conscience, awakened to a sense of sin, seeks deliverance; the heart that has been touched with the love of God yearns for more love and nearer fellowship. So it was with Paul. "Behold, he prayeth!" and so onward, through all the toils and struggles of his noble life, he continued instant in prayer.
III. THAT WHERE THERE IS PRAYER THE SUPREME DESIRE WILL BE THE GLORY OF CHRIST. Self will be lost in love. Concern about ourselves will be merged in concern for the glory of Christ our Lord. "Prayer shall be made for him."
1. For his cause. What interests him will interest us; what lies nearest his heart will be nearest ours. There is unity of life.
2. For his people. He identifies himself with them. He regards what is done to them as done to himself. When "prayer was made of the Church" for Peter, they were, in a sense, making prayer for Christ. Our sympathies should be as broad as the sympathies of Christ.
3. For his second coming. His first coming was the hope of Israel; his second coming is the hope of the Church of the gospel (Revelation 22:20; Titus 2:13). "Prayer for Christ" increases our love to him, binds us in closer union with the brethren, and enables us to transmit the blessed hope to future generations. Think of the prayers made every Lord's day! What cause for thankfulness and joy! Yea, "daily" prayer shall be made till prayer is consummated in praise. - W.F.
I. THE INSIGNIFICANCE OF THE GOSPEL IN ITS ORIGIN.
There shall be an handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon.I. OFFER SOME EXPOSITORY REMARKS.
1. The handful of corn. This tells of the few disciples who at the first preached the Gospel. As Isaac was offered on Mount Moriah, so our Lord on the summit of the same mount was offered up. He was the seed corn.
2. The fruit. This all the result of our Lord's death. And it shall be abundant like the forests of Lebanon.
3. They of the city. The apostles went forth from Jerusalem after they were endued with power.
II. THE EXPRESSIVENESS OF THE SIMILE — the corn of wheat.
1. It possesses a kind of immortality.
2. Life springs from its death.
3. Propagates its own likeness.
4. Has unlimited power of multiplication.
III. THE IMPORT OF THE SHAKING HERE TOLD OF (Hebrews 12:25-29). The religious systems of the earth are doomed, and the political likewise.
(J. A. Macdonald.)
1. In its introduction into the world.
2. In its structure as a religious system.
3. In its operation in the heart.
II. THE IMPROBABILITY OF ITS SUCCESS.
1. The agency was feeble.
2. The opposition Was powerful.
III. ITS STUPENDOUS RESULTS.
1. The number of its followers.
2. Their influence on the world.
(W. W. Wythe.)
I. ITS INSIGNIFICANT COMMENCEMENT. A handful of corn, and that sown, of all places, on the top of the mountains. How this sets forth the unlikelihood of success according to all human judgment.
II. THE GLORIOUS CONSUMMATION THE GOSPEL IS DESTINED TO ATTAIN. This metaphorical representation conveys to us the idea of fertility; a fertility so great, that from a handful of corn, and that sown on the most barren spot, the top of a mountain, should issue a crop so strong and thick that it would shake and wave in the wind like the woods of Lebanon, while in the City of Zion the inhabitants would become numerous as the blades of grass in a field which the Lord hath blessed. It is thus beautifully intimated that in proportion to the smallness of its beginning shall be the greatness of the final increase of the Gospel. In various parts of Holy Writ we have abundant testimony to this fact. The metaphorical representation of the psalmist suggests also that the diffusion of the Gospel in the latter day will be characterized by great and extraordinary rapidity "They of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth." Grass is, in Eastern countries, remarkably speedy in its growth; so will it be with the triumphs which the Gospel is destined universally to accomplish. This metaphorical announcement intimates further that the propagation of the Gospel shall be productive of happiness and joy to the world. "The fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon." Just such a change as, in the physical world, is made when the sterile mountain top is converted into the garden of the Lord, will be that which shall be made in the moral world by the agency of the Gospel, when it shall be felt in its legitimate power.
III. THE MANNER IN WHICH IT HAS ALREADY BEEN FULFILLED IS FITTED TO STRENGTHEN OUR FAITH IN THE DIVINE ORIGIN OF THE GOSPEL.
IV. This prophecy furnishes us also with an ENCOURAGEMENT TO PERSEVERE IN OUR EXERTIONS FOR THE UNIVERSAL PROPAGATION OF THE GOSPEL. Although it may be with us a "day of small things" — although the means we employ may be feeble and small, and the obstacles we have to encounter be numerous and formidable, yet let us not give way to unbelieving doubts or fears.
I. A HAPPY DESCRIPTION OF THE GOSPEL. It is a handful of corn.
1. For its excellency.
2. For its insignificance, in appearance, extent, instrumentality.
II. THE PLACES WHERE IT IS TO BE SOWN: "on the top of the mountains," the most barren and inaccessible places. There are many hearts like this, but there we are to sow the seed. And in the most populous places — "the city." So did our Lord, and so should we. How great the need.
III. THE BLESSED RESULTS WHICH WILL FOLLOW.
1. Abundant fruitfulness.
2. Rapid growth — like grass.
3. A beauteous scene.
4. Ample recompense.Conclusion.
1. Bless God if the seed of the Gospel has taken root in your heart.
2. How deeply guilty are they in whom no fruit is found.
3. Pity those who are without the Gospel seed.
(J. Sherman.)1. Let us think of where the corn comes from. It does not come like anything else in the world. In the woods you may sometimes find a tree growing with a little round black fruit, hard and sour. It does not seem to be worth much by the side of the luscious plum from the garden. But that sloe, as it is called, is the plum in its wild state. The gardener takes it and cultivates it until it comes to be a larger and finer tree. So it is with the crab-tree and its little bitter fruit — that is, the wild apple. And so with the strawberry, and all the fruits and plants in our garden. They were found in a wild state, and they had to be cultivated before they were worth anything. But nobody ever found corn growing wild. Unlike everything else, corn is the special and peculiar gift of God, which He put into man's hand just as it is. And how like Jesus it is in this!
2. Corn will grow all over the world. And is not that like our blessed Jesus? No home but may have Him in it; no heart but Jesus will dwell there; no land under heaven but there men may find the Bread of Life.
3. Think again of what the corn is worth. A very little thing to talk about, this — "a handful of corn!" Corn is worth more than gold. Everybody wants bread. And so, all need Jesus.
4. Corn has life in it — yielding abundant increase. And so Jesus is like the handful of corn upon the top of the mountains: the prophet tells us that we "esteemed Him not," and "hid as it were our faces from Him"; there was no appearance of greatness in Him, or of power. But in Him is life. He comes into our hearts, and we are made like Him, and from us others catch a grain of the good seed, and the life spreads from heart to heart and from soul to soul, until "the whole earth shall be filled with His glory."
5. And yet though there is all this that is wonderful about the corn, let us remember that it is of no good except it be sown. A handful of corn is indeed a poor thing without that. They have found some mummies in Egypt thousands of years old, and in their hands they have found some tiny grains of corn. If they had been sown, by this time they would have grown into enough to feed the world. And so the glory of Jesus grows only when we have Jesus in our heart.
6. Before the corn does us any good, it dies. Think how much this is like Jesus. He lays down His life for us. He dies that we may live. He is beaten, and scourged, and broken, that we may have strength and everlasting life.
(Mark Guy Pearse.)
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