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LECTURE 11ll. Christ reigning in the faith and love of his people. The hewing down of the high trees of a forest was applied, at the close of the last chapter, to foreshew the destruction of Sennacherib's host. But after a time the same image would truly represent the state of Jerusalem itself. Low however as the house of David must soon be brought, the prophet here declares that “a Branch” shall grow up out of the roots of Jesse. And hence he proceeds to set forth the marvellous attributes of the Messiah, and the wonders which are to signalize his reign. On Christ Himself would rest “ the spirit of the Lord,” to be manifested in all the attributes of wisdom and of holiness; in the words of his mouth, and in the discernment of the hearts of others, in the righteonsness of his doctrines, and in the execution of his judyments. And so did John the Baptist bear witness concerning Him : “ God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him." John 3. 34. Under the reign of a King so all righteous and all wise, the dispositions and the practices of fallen men are to be altogether changed and renewed. Those wars and fightings, which come of ruling themselves after their lusts, must cease. Hurting and destroying must come to an end, together with the selfishness from which they spring. The aspect of Christian society, compared with that of the unrenewed world, must be, oh, would that it now were, as though the wolf should dwell with the lamb, and the leopard with the kid; as though the most savage creatures were to become tame, and the most treacherous, trusty. And all this change must arise from the propagation of the Gospel, from the earth being “full of the knowledge of the Lord,” the true knowledge of the true God, as He is revealed in Christ Jesus. Gentiles and Jews must flock to one standard, must be citizens of one state, subjects of one King. Not only after the Babyloni : captivity would God assemble the outcasts of Israel, and fori.. portions of all the tribes into one united realm, a realm that should exist and flourish, whilst Egypt and Assyria, that bad held them in captivity, should be brought down from their high estate; but besides this a second time the summons would
go forth, and the ensign to which the Gentiles were to seek would be lifted up to the dispersed Jews. Thus we find St. James aditressing his Epistle “ to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad,” James 1. i. the descendants of those who had not returned to Jerusalem. Thus St. Peter also writes to the dispersed people sojourning in foreign parts. See 1 Pet. 1. 1. And thus the Gospel even now proclaims aloud to all, of every tribe, in every land, to come unto Christ for rest. See Matt. 11. 28. And thus, notwithstanding the faithlessness of many, there has been ever since the death of Christ, there is at present, and there will be, as we firmly trust, in numbers much enlarged hereafter, a kingdom of Christ, a people of God, devout subjects of their Saviour, loving Him, and living in love towards each other, and triumphant, by his power, over sin and death.
A joyful thanksgiving for the salvation of God. 1 And in that day thou shalt salvation. say, O Lord, I will praise 4 And in that day shall ye say, thee: though thou wast angry Praise the Lord, call upon his with me, thine anger is turned name, declare his doings among away, and thou comfortedst me. the people, make mention that
2 Behold, God is my salva- his name is exalted. tion; I will trust, and not be 5 Sing unto the Lord; for afraid: for the LORD JEHO- he hath done excellent things : VAH is my strength and my this is known in all the earth. song; he also is become my 6 Cry out and shout, thou insalvation.
habitant of Zion: for great is 3 Therefore with joy shall ye the Holy One of Israel in the draw water out of the wells of midst of thee.
LECTURE 1112. Our interest in the prophecies of Christ's kingdom. This song of thanksgiving is set forth as suitable for God's people to use in the day of their redemption. Nay, not only is it suitable for their use; they moreover will not fail to use it. In the fulness of the heart the mouth will speak. And the captive set free, the sinner saved, will gladly praise the Lord, and loudly call on all around to celebrate his name. The salvation here spoken of, like the rest and glory prophesied in the previous chapter, may be justly, interpreted of the return from the Babylonian captivity. And accordingly we read in the Book of Ezra, that on that occasion, “when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the Lord, after the ordinance of David king of Israel. And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the Lord, because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel.” Ezra 3. 10, 11. But amidst that song of praise, and shout of joy, there was heard, as we read in the same passage, the voice of weeping. “So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people.” Ezra 3. 13. And therefore it may reasonably be thought that these two chapters of Isaiah point to a restoration of Israel far more full of joy and glory, than that in which they were fulfilled in the first instance. And the return from Babylon to Judea, may itself be regarded as a type of a better deliverance, of a greater salvation, to be wrought at a future time.
Such a deliverance, such a salvation, we thankfully acknowledge in the redemption of our fallen race by the death of Christ our Saviour. And when we look on Christ crucified, we can heartily join with one who was "filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied," when Jesus was about to be born, “saying, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; as he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets which have been since the world began.” Luke 1. 67–70. . Not that we consider these words of Zacharias as wholly fulfilled hitherto. Not that we hold this prophecy of Isaiah to have no further and future fulfilment. We believe indeed in Him who was then “ born King of the Jews.” Matt. 2. 2. We believe, that from the hour of his birth into this our world, the fulfilment of all the glorious prophecies relating to his kingdom commenced. But though soon afterwards He died in our behalf, we know that He is yet alive. We know that He is “alive for evermore.” Rev. 1. 18. And we know that He reigns as well as lives. That title still is his which Pilate
" Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews." John 19. 19. And we are assured by the words of another prophecy concerning Him, that “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth even for ever."
Ch. 9. 7. We conceive then, that the great salvation here intended is realized, and this prophecy is verified, just so far in every one of us, as Christ reigns in our hearts by faith. We hold it highly probable according to the tenour of other prophecies that the increase of his government and peace will be hereafter greatly promoted by some signal manifestation of power and grace to the seed of Abraham according to the flesh, the people of the Jews, so wonderfully preserved as a distinct race in all quarters of the world. But though the song before us may well fit them in that their day of final restitution, we think it no less meet for us to use at present, us whom God has called and chosen from amongst the gentiles to be his people now; us whom He regards as children of Abraham by faith; us whom He has made one people, and one church, with those who from time to time have been won to Christ from among the Jews. Him then let us praise, because when He was justly angry with us, He has been reconciled to us by his Son, and has comforted us by his Spirit. Behold, He is our salvation, what then need we fear? not want, for He supplies all our necessities; not sin, for He gives us grace unto holiness; not the world, for He has taken us out of the world into the kingdom of his dear Son; nay, and He has taught us also, in our Saviour, to use the world for his glory, and therefore for our own gain, by labouring to make known his name and wondrous works among all people, throughout all the world.
The entire desolation of Babylon foretold. i The burden of Babylon, cause her light to shine. which Isaiah the son of Amoz 11 And I will punish the world
for their evil, and the wicked 2 Lift ye up a banner upon for their iniquity; and I will the high mountain, exalt the cause the arrogancy of the proud voice unto them; shake the to cease, and will lay low the hand, that they may go into haughtiness of the terrible. the gates of the nobles.
12 I will make a man more pre3 I have commanded my sanc- cious than fine gold; even a man tified ones, I have also called than the golden wedge of Ophir. my mighty ones for mine an- 13 Therefore I will shake the ger, even them that rejoice in heavens, and the earth shall remy highness.
move out of her place, in the 4 The noise of a multitude in wrath of the Lord of hosts, and the mountains, like as of a great in the day of his fierce anger. people; a tumultuous noise of 14 And it shall be as the chasthe kingdoms of nations gather- ed roe, and as a sheep that no ed together: the Lord of hosts man taketh up: they shall every mustereth the host of the battle. man turn to his own people, and
5 They come from a far coun- fee every one into his own land. try, from the end of heaven, 15 Every one that is found even the LORD, and the wea- shall be thrust through ; and pons of his indignation, to de- every one that is joined unto stroy the whole land.
them shall fall by the sword. 6 Howl ye; for the day of 16 Their children also shall be the Lord is at hand; it shall dashed to pieces before their come as a destruction from the eyes; their houses shall be spoilAlmighty.
ed, and their wives ravished. 7 Therefore shall all hands be 17 Behold, I will stir up the faint, and every man's heart Medes against them, which shall shall melt:
not regard silver; and as for 8 And they shall be afraid : gold, they shall not delight in it. pangs and sorrows shall take 18 Their bows also shall dash hold of them; they shall be in the young men to pieces; and pain as a woman that travail- they shall have no pity on the eth: they shall be amazed one fruit of the womb; their eye at another; their faces shall be shall not spare children. as flames.
19 And Babylon, the glory 9 Behold, the day of the LORD of kingdoms, the beauty of the cometh, cruel both with wrath Chaldees' excellency, shall be and fierce anger, to lay the land as when God overthrew Sodom desolate: and he shall destroy and Gomorrah. the sinners thereof out of it. 20 It shall never be inbabited,
10 For the stars of heaven and neither shall it be dwelt in from the constellations thereof shall generation to generation : neinot give their light: the sun ther shall the Arabian pitch shall be darkened in his going tent there; neither shall the forth, and the moon shall not shepherds make their fold there.
21 But wild beasts of the de- 22 And the wild beasts of the sert shall lie there; and their islands shall cry in their dehouses shall be full of doleful solate houses, and dragons in creatures; and owls shall dwell their pleasant palaces : and her there, and satyrs shall dance time is near to come, and her there.
days shall not be prolonged. LECTURE 1113. That the mystic Babylon shall surely fall. The Assyrian, the rod of God's anger, who proudly deemed that in his own strength he did that which God brought to pass by his means, see chap. 10, must now learn his final doom; the doom of his mighty empire, the doom of his renowned Babyloni, the city, which after Nineveh had fallen, became the capital, and the wonder, of the world. That empire must be brought to an end. That city must be blotted out from the face of the earth. Improbable as it must have seemed when these words were written, yet within about a century and a half the empire of Assyria was extinct. Almost incredible as it appears, that a city of such enormous extent as Babylon, with walls so thick and lofty, should vanish from the sight; yet such is the fact, so few ruins of it, if any, can be dow discovered, that the best judges have long differed in opinion as to where its site actually is.
And all this is here set down beforehand, by the voice of prophecy. And a portion of God's word is occupied with “ the burden of Babylon,” foreshewing the multitude, the character, and the name of the people, who would give it its first deadly defeat. All this is then set down, because God would have us know, that He is and always has been the God not only of one nation, but of all the earth; that it is He who rules supreme even over those who know Him not. And further it is written for the comfort of his people, in order for those who know and serve Him to be aware, that though He may see fit to employ others to chastise their transgressions, yet the mightiest of empires could have no power against them without his permission, nay, and can themselves have no existence longer than He thinks fit. And this is true of that other Babylon, spoken of in the Book of Revelation ; see Rev. 17. 5; whose fall is described in language closely copied from Isaiah's words. See Rev. 18. 2.
The same wisdom has foretold its doom. The same power will accomplish it. And when in the total ruin of the capital of Assyria we contemplate the transitory nature of the most mighty empires of the world, we may have the comfort of reflecting, that in like manner, that despotic power, which, under the Gospel dispensation, has been reared within the Church on the principles of the world, and has been the rod of God's anger to chastise his people, shall surely and quickly fall; never more to lift up its head, never more to dishonour God, nor to destroy the souls of men.