Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.I Will Make All My Mountains a Way (Advent Sunday)
God says, 'I will make My mountains a way,' and the simplest consideration of the facts of life will demonstrate that the saying is true practically, true ideally, true on the plane of earth, true in the region of spirit, true in the domain of prophecy.
I. In the natural sphere the fact of the existence of mountains has ever initiated the stimulus required to surmount them. The physical and moral strength of the race is invigorated through the opposition of mountains, and man, as God's vicegerent, in his work of subduing the earth, has everywhere in all lands, amongst all peoples, made the mountains a highway to commerce, travel, discovery.
II. The spiritual analogy of the beautiful saying is even more true. There is a fascination—a challenge to the imagination—in mountain scenery through which He, Who is always appealing to the Divine secret in man, makes 'His mountains a way' to gaze into His face, to think into His heart, to hope into His promises.
III. Is there not in this inspired prophecy the Divine solution of a mystery, and the impregnable assurance of a victory? The sternest moral mountain in this perplexing world is the existence and permission of evil. All mountains, however precipitous and threatening, are God's; the Almighty responsible Father of poor puzzled, trembling humanity says, 'My mountains,' and it is enough. As the challenge of the rugged mountain crest and mighty glacier provide the impulse to muscular exertion which otherwise would slumber, so the energetic struggle against the mountain of moral evil in the world shall make that mountain a 'way' to your own perfection, and the perfection of the race; 'to him that overcometh,' that maketh mountains a way, 'will I grant to sit on My throne'.
IV. God will 'make all His mountains a way,' but it is His predestined purpose to effect it by the active cooperation of brave-hearted, God-fearing, consecrated men and women in the world. The crowning delusion of modern Christianity is that salvation can be divorced from helpfulness. Do you ask, What shall I do that I may make 'His mountains a way'? Get your springs of action and emotion right, and conduct will be automatically transfigured; incorporate into the verities of your life the spirit of the Master's words: 'One is your Father, even God, and all ye are brethren,' and your actions will start from another base and correspond to a new environment.
—B. Wilberforce, The Gospel of the Kingdom, p. 3.
References.—XLIX. 11.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—Isaiah XLIX.-LXVI. p. 7. XLIX. 12.—G. T. Candlin, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lix. 1901, p. 393. R. F. Horton, ibid. vol. lxxiii. 1908, p. 388. XLIX. 13.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. lii. No. 3012. XLIX. 14.—J. C. Shanks, God Within Us, p. 74. XLIX. 16.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. ix. No. 512; vol. xlvi. No. 2672. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—Isaiah XLIX.-LXVI. p. 9. XLIX. 20, 21.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xlvi. No. 2692; vol. xlviii. No: 2776. XLIX. 23.—A. Murray, Waiting on God, p. 105. XLIX. 24, 25.—C. Gore, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lv. 1899, p. 376. XLIX. 26.—J. Smith, ibid. vol. lv. 1899, p. 308. L.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxix. No. 2335; vol. xlvii. No. 2738; vol. xlix. No. 2832. L. 2-4.—C. Stanford, Symbols of Christ, p. 142. L. 2-6.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xlix. No. 2827. L. 4.—H. P. Liddon, Clerical Life and Work, p. 46. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—Isaiah XLIX.-LXVI. p. 15. L. 5.—Ibid. p. 20. L. 5, 6.—T. B. Dover, Some Quiet Lenten Thoughts, p. 124. L. 6.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxv. No. 1486. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—Isaiah XLIX.-LXVI. p. 22. J. Keble, Sermons for the Holy Week, p. 325.
And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me;
And said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.
Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the LORD, and my work with my God.
And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength.
And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.
Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee.
Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages;
That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places.
They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them.
And I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted.
Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim.
Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.
But Zion said, The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me.
Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.
Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.
Thy children shall make haste; thy destroyers and they that made thee waste shall go forth of thee.
Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold: all these gather themselves together, and come to thee. As I live, saith the LORD, thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament, and bind them on thee, as a bride doeth.
For thy waste and thy desolate places, and the land of thy destruction, shall even now be too narrow by reason of the inhabitants, and they that swallowed thee up shall be far away.
The children which thou shalt have, after thou hast lost the other, shall say again in thine ears, The place is too strait for me: give place to me that I may dwell.
Then shalt thou say in thine heart, Who hath begotten me these, seeing I have lost my children, and am desolate, a captive, and removing to and fro? and who hath brought up these? Behold, I was left alone; these, where had they been?
Thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.
And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me.
Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered?
But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children.
And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine: and all flesh shall know that I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.