Sing, O barren, you that did not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, you that did not travail with child…
In the previous chapters we have heard the exiles summoned to leave Babylon, and beheld the Divine Servant becoming the Sin-bearer for them and the world. Here our attention ,is startlingly recalled to the desolate city of Jerusalem. "Barren;" "Forsaken; "Desolate" — such are the terms applied to her by One who cannot err. And they are corroborated by the testimony of a contemporary (Nehemiah 1:3; Nehemiah 2:3, 13-17). But how is this? Have we not learnt that the Mediator has put away sin at the cost to Himself of wounds and bruises, stripes and death? Is that redemption complete which fails to grapple with all the results and consequences of wrong-doing? This opens up a great subject, and one that touches us all. Though our sin is forgiven, yet certain consequences remain, of which that ruined city is a type. We cannot undo the past; God Himself cannot undo it. It can never be as though it had never been. The seventy years of captivity, the shame, the sorrow, the anguish to God, the forfeited opportunities, attended by a multitude of hypocrites, and her courts were crowded with formalists, but the genuine children of Israel were sadly few; and when the Lord, the Husband of the Church, Himself arrived, the Church was in no happy condition. After that the Lords had been lain in the grave and risen again and ascended and left the Church, then were the days of refreshing, and the times of the visitation of the Spirit. At all seasons when the Church has been desolate and has become barren, God has appeared to her.
II. I now intend to use the text in reference to ANY ONE CHURCH.
1. There are some separate Churches which are in a very sad condition, and may most truly be said to be barren and desolate.
2. Brethren will ask me what is their present duty as members of such Churches? Your duty is very plain Labour to be conscious of the sad barrenness of the Church to which you belong: Spread the case before Jehovah, and be sure that you look away from everything that you yourself can do to Him, and to him alone. But mind you do not pray without proving the sincerity of your prayers by action.
III. THE POOR HELPLESS SINNER HAS HIS CASE WELL DESCRIBED BY THE PROPHET AS BARREN AND DESOLATE. "Barren! ah, that I am. I have not one meritorious fruit that I can bring before God." You are desolate, too; no one can comfort you. Your barrenness is barrenness for ever if left to itself, and your desolation is utter and helpless unless some one intervene. May I ask you to look at the chapter which precedes my text? Jesus has taken the sinner's sin upon Himself, and made a complete atonement; therefore, "Sing, O barren!" The mighty Redeemer has come out of His dwelling-place, and has fought the enemy, and won the victory. "Sing, O barren!"
IV. Does not this text belong to THE DEPRESSED BELIEVES? You and I, though we have brought forth some fruit unto the, Lord Jesus, yet sometimes feel very barren. What are we to do? "Sing, O barren, etc. But what can I sing about? I cannot sing about the present; I cannot even sing concerning the past. Yet I can sing of Jesus Christ. What is my barrenness. It is the platform for Divine power. What is my desolation? It is the black setting for the sapphire of His everlasting love.
V. Our text ought to have a special voice to THOSE CHRISTIANS WHO HAVE NOT BEEN SUCCESSFUL IN DOING GOOD.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the LORD.
WEB: "Sing, barren, you who didn't bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, you who did not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife," says Yahweh.