Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
I. WE MAY BEGIN BY ASKING WHO OBADIAH WAS. Some have thought he was the pious steward of King Ahab; but this idea is not in keeping with the evident date of the prophecy. There are many other persons of this name in Scripture, but the prophet cannot be identified with any one of them. We read of Obadiah of the tribe of Judah (1 Chronicles 3.); another of the tribe of Issachar (1 Chronicles 7.); another of Benjamin (1 Chronicles 8.); another of Levi (1 Chronicles 9.); another of Gad (1 Chronicles 12.); another of Judah (2 Chronicles 17.); another of Zebulun (1 Chronicles 27.). We find, also, an Obadiah - a Levite - in the time of Josiah (2 Chronicles 34.); another a companion of Ezra (Ezra 8.); and yet another a priest in the time of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 10.). The name, therefore, was in very common use among the Jews; and this, not only because it had been borne by some who were distinguished for their upright character, but because it had a most instructive significance.
II. WE ASK THE MEANING OF THE NAME. It means "a Servant," or "a Worshipper of the Lord." Let us note the import of both these.
1. "A Servant of the Lord. Here we may each long to be similarly designated. David said, O Lord, I am thy servant;" and the reason he gave for this was that his bonds had been broken by God. "Thou hast redeemed me from the slavery of Satan. Thou hast brought me into the glorious liberty of thy people. I now yield myself to thee. I am thy servant." And so Moses was called "the servant of God." And so, too, we meet with such words as these: "Abraham, my servant;" "David, my servant;" "Daniel, servant of the living God;" "James, a servant of God;" "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ." This blessed service is perfect freedom. Christ himself came among us as the girded Servant. "I am among you as he that serveth." He was Jehovah's righteous Servant. His disciples, therefore, can never rise above his example. They serve the living and true God. "Ich dien." It was not always so. Before the bonds were loosed there was only slavery to sin and Satan and the world, but the emancipation has come. The freed ones serve their Redeemer-God. In faith, in love, in holiness, in patience, in meekness, in joyfulness, they serve, they work, they wait.
2. The seemed meaning of the name is "a Worshipper of the Lord. And shall we not, every one, aim to be this? It implies much. Let us think about it. In New Testament light, worship means access to God. We are brought near by the blood of Christ's cross. It is filial nearness. We may come with holy boldness by the blood of Jesus. It includes prayer in Christ's Name. Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my Name, he will give it you. Ask, and ye shall receive." Worship includes praise. "Whoso offereth me praise, he glorifieth me; Praise is comely;" "Praise ye the Lord." Worship includes the yielding of ourselves to God. "I beseech you by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies living sacrifices." Worship includes the consecration of our substance to God. Of old his people were told not to come before him empty. They were to present their firstfruits unto him. They were first to consecrate, then enjoy. Giving was therefore a part of worship. It ought to be so now. Worship of Jehovah also involves a complete turning away from idols. There are idols of the heart. Covetousness is idolatry. There are many idols besides those of wood and stone. To be truly an Obadiah, a worshipper of Jehovah, we must say with Ephraim, "What have I to do any more with idols?" And one thought more on this point. In seeking to bear the designation of our prophet, let us remember this canon laid down by the blessed Saviour: "God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. Thus, then, we see that much is implied by the designation, a worshipper of the Lord." May we each be both "a servant" and "a worshipper" of the living God!
III. We may now proceed to observe that THE GREAT AUTHOR OF THE BOOK IS GOD HIMSELF. Obadiah was the ambassador, the messenger, but the words are God's. Ver. 1, "Thus saith the Lord God." It is this "Thus saith the Lord which gives such supreme importance to every word of the Bible. The histories, the prophecies, the precepts, the invitations, the warnings, the exhortations, the revelations, the whole from Genesis to the end, all come to us with the words of power, Thus saith the Lord." Some minds may be perplexed as to what is said of creation; some are exercised as to what is revealed about the judgment day, and of the Divine wrath upon the wicked; others have difficulty in understanding the moral government of the world; but the docile, humble-minded believer takes this book as from the hand of God. On the top of every page he sees, as it were, written in letters of golden light, "Thus saith the Lord." Where the word of a king is there is power. We have here the words of the King of kings. "By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth." That same Word upholds all things by its glorious power. And here we have that Word in writing, and it is God's great revelation of his will. It is the chief means by which the Holy Spirit quickens the dead in trespasses and sins, and revives the drooping graces of his saints. "By thy Word thou hast quickened me." If you want any other proof of the power of the Word, read in the Revelation of the doings of him who was clothed in a vesture dipped in blood; and whose name is "The Word of God." St. John was inspired to write five books. In the opening chapter of the first he describes the Word made flesh, and dwelling among us. In the closing chapters of the last book he describes the Word in the blood dyed vesture. It is the union of these truths which gives such power to the written Word. God has spoken to us by his Son. "The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." Let us, then, take heed how we hear. We all need to be attentive to the Word. Oh that Christ's high-priestly prayer were true of each of us, "I have given unto them the words which thou Rarest me, and they have received them ....Sanctify them through thy truth: thy Word is truth"! Let us seek to "receive" all the words which have been given us. "They have received them. May this be true of us, and may we be sanctified more and more by the Word! Sanctify them through thy truth: thy Word is truth."
IV. And now let us ask - WHAT IS THE SUBJECT OF THIS PROPHETIC BOOK? It is twofold. It tells of judgment upon the house of Esau, and mercy upon the house of Jacob. We shall hope to return to this subject again, but for the present let us note what a summary we have here of all revelation. We have, as it were, the pillar of the Lord - a light to Israel; a black cloud to the Egyptians. "He that believeth shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be condemned." The righteous shall walk therein; the transgressors shall fall therein. Esau, despising his birthright, barters it for a mess of pottage. Jacob, taking hold of God's strength, wrestles with the angel of the covenant, and is called Israel; for as a prince he has wrestled with God, and prevailed. In the one case we see wickedness apparently mighty and dominant, building on the heights, but brought down and made very small. In the other we have Zion, once feeble and down trodden and despised, made triumphant and glorious by the grace, and love, and wisdom, and power of him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and made us priests and kings unto God. If we notice the story of Esau, we see him in Genesis despising his birthright and hating his brother. In Numbers we see the two nations. Israel is marching to Canaan. Esau withstands him. The King of Edom prevents the progress. In this Edom seems the stronger. In St. Matthew's Gospel we note the birth of Christ and the advance of the spiritual Israel. Then we find Herod the Edomite opposing with no little success. He commands the destruction of all the young children in Bethlehem. A true Edomite - a red man - a man of blood. But as we get to the close of the sacred Word we see that the house of Esau has disappeared. Zion is all-triumphant. Within the pearly gates all is joy, and light, and rest, and glory forevermore. Nothing that defileth can enter. The hosts of the true Israel are safe forever. The great "Thus saith the Lord" by Obadiah the prophet has received its complete fulfilment. Let us, then, be sure of this - that whatever seeming strength falsehood and wickedness may possess, in the end truth only shall prevail; the kingdom which is "righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost" only shall predominate, and in a little while it shall be known that "the Lord God omnipotent reigneth." "The kingdom shall be the Lord's" (ver. 21). - A.C.T.
voice crying in the wilderness. Who wrote Joshua? Who wrote Judges? Who wrote the books of Samuel, or the Kings, or Chronicles, or Esther? It was sufficient for the writers that they were used by the Spirit of God. They were ambassadors, not kings. They were servants, not masters. They were the instruments, not the musicians. They were the vessels, not the fountain of living water. The ambassador simply delivers the message of the king. The servant only waits on the guests of the master. The instrument merely gives forth the sounds struck by the musician. The vessel only bears the refreshing draught of the well of life. Obadiah, like John the Baptist, was ready to decrease, that Christ might increase. The morning star heralds the day, then melts before the sunshine. Herein is a lesson of great importance to all workers for Christ.
I. Let us proceed to notice GOD'S DENUNCIATION OF EDOM. Edom was a great adversary of Israel. For instance, we find in Psalm 137., that Edom joined Babylon in seeking the destruction of Jerusalem: ver. 7, "Remember, O Lord, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof!" The geographical position of Edom made it a formidable enemy, and apparently invincible. Lying south of the Dead Sea, its lofty range of red hills, called Mount Seir, stretched a hundred miles from north to south, by twenty east to west. Bozrah was the capital of the eastern division: and Sela, or Petra (both names mean "a rock"), was the capital of the southern division. The habit of the eagle to select high and lonely pinnacles for its dwelling place gives force to the words of our fourth verse, "Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down." In Psalm 60:9 we are led to a period in David's history when that king besieged Edom. As he looks up at the fortified cities among impregnable rocky heights, he seems to despair of victory. "Who will bring me into the strong city? Who will lead me into Edom?" Could he not himself be the leader? Had he not slain Goliath and routed the Philistines? and he not fought with the lion and the bear to save a lamb of the fold? Where, too, were his mighty men? - Joab, captain of the host? Adino, who lifted his spear against eight hundred? Eleazar, whose sword imbedded itself in his hand? Benaiah, who slew an Egyptian with his own spear? If the muster roll be called, is there no one to take the lead, and scale the dizzy heights, and subdue the great strongholds? David looks away from himself, away from his men, away from all human strength, and he says, "Wilt not thou, O God?" He answers the question in the best and surest way. And we know that God did give David the victory (see 2 Samuel 8:14). We, too, have our enemies. We have our fortresses of Edom. Who will enable us to conquer? Where are the weapons mighty to the pulling down of strongholds? Nay, where is he whose goings forth are upon the white horse of war, conquering and to conquer? The answer is brought to us. The warfare is accomplished. "We are more than conquerors through him who loved us." Isaiah 63:1, "Who is this that cometh from Edorn, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength?" Then Comes the answer. "I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save." Yes, he who is the Lord our Righteousness is the Lord our Saviour - mighty to save to the uttermost. Sin and Satan have been conquered. Edom is subdued. Then comes forth the Conqueror, red in his apparel. "Who is this... with dyed garments from Bozrah? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save."
II. I will ask you now to pass from the general denunciation of Edom to THE PARTICULAR SIN WITH WHICH EDOM IS CHARGED. "The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee." Building like the eagle in the pinnacles of the rocks, setting his nest among the stars, Edom said in his heart, "Who shall bring me down to the ground?" Thus the pride of his heart deceived him. And to many individuals, as well as nations, does the herald of Jehovah bring the message, "The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee." Pharaoh, lifting himself high, asks, "Who is the Lord, that I should serve him?" The answer comes, "The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee." Nebuchadnezzar, looking in self-elation upon Babylon, asks," Is not this great Babylon which I have built?" The answer comes, "The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee." Belshazzar, banqueting with his lords, and drinking wine from the vessels of the temple, sees the dreadful handwriting upon the wall, and the message comes, "The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee." Herod makes an oration, and gives not God the glory due to his Name. The silent death warrant comes to him, "The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee." And as with these kings, these representatives of multitudes, so with all classes. The commercial man, gathering wealth and speculating in the markets, suddenly comes down with a crash: the pride of his heart hath deceived him. The professional man, scorning many an honest tradesman, runs into lavish expense, and brings ruin to his family: the pride of his heart hath deceived him. The young man coming into a small estate suddenly launches out into extravagance. He must be as others who have twice his income. He wants to make a dash in the world. He knows more about horses than the way of holiness and the gospel of salvation. He is a stranger to grace. The throne of grace, the covenant of grace, the God of all grace, he knows nothing ablaut. With scarcely twenty-four hours' illness, he is summoned into eternity. He dies without hope. The pride of his heart hath deceived him. The man of high culture, priding himself upon his intellectual attainments, ignoring Bible revelation, and spurning sermons and tracts, he is ready to laugh at humble piety. His habitation is high. He dwells amongst the stars. His nest is with the eagles. He saith in his heart, "Who shall bring me down to the ground?" But what does God say? "The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee." Ay, and there is a moral man, a very Pharisee, who thanks God he is so much better than the publicans and the like. That man is lifted up with his doings. How carefully he pays tithe of his mint, anise, and cummin! How scrupulous about his phylactery! What a parade he makes of his religion! He says in his heart, "Who shall bring me down to the ground?" So the pride of his heart hath deceived him. He that exalteth himself shall be abased. We do well to remember Edom. We must keep in mind that pride of heart is very deceitful. Nature's fortifications, the world's fortifications, social fortifications, moral fortifications, are unavailing if we presume to do without God. Edom built among the stars, but God brought him down to the ground. Pride of heart is the herald of ruin. It is often so even in this world. And those proud ones who are brought to the ground here may thank God for the valley of humiliation. Let us all learn to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt us in due time. Let us be clothed with humility. "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble." The only fortress we can boast of is the cleft Rock of Ages. Here we have safety and joy and peace. Here we may securely hide until all calamities be overpast. Happy those who can say with David, in Psalm 9., "In the Lord put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?" The true believer needs no foreign helps. The Lord is an all-sufficient Fortress and Shield. The Christian knows whom he trusts, and therefore does not make haste. "With Jehovah I have taken shelter: how say ye to my soul, Flee, sparrows, to your hill?" (Bishop Horsley). May the Holy Spirit give us all to know this happy security! - a security which made the Apostle Paul speak with so much meaning, so much force, so much personal experience, "I knew a man in Christ." A delightful, peaceful knowledge. Only one thing is better. "To depart and to be with Christ... is far better." - A.C.T.
Jeremiah 49. If we take this view we might suppose that his prophecy was delivered between the year B.C. 588, when Jerusalem was taken by the Chaldeans, and the termination of the siege of Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar. As to his prophecy, it is the shortest in the Bible: one chapter comprehends all. Its subject is the destruction of Edom on account of its cruelty to Judah, Edom's brother, and the restoration of the Jews. Its style is marked by animation, regularity, and clearness. These words of the first verse suggest two thoughts concerning God and bad men.
I. THAT GOD MAKES A REVELATION CONCERNING BAD MEN. Here is a revelation concerning Edom, the enemy of God and his people. Isaac had two sons by Rebekah - Esau and Jacob. Esau was called Edom, "red," in memory, it is said, of the red pottage for which he sold his birthright (Genesis 25:30). Observe:
1. The forms of the revelation.
(1) As a vision. "The vision of Obadiah." The prophet was a seer. The Eternal revealed himself to the eyes of his soul. He who would be a true minister of God must see the thing before he speaks it. "That which we have seen and handled," says the apostle. Man has other eyes than those that are in his forehead. He has a faculty for seeing the invisible and the eternal; this distinguishes him from the brute.
(2) As a report. "We have heard a rumour from the Lord." The word "rumour" means "report." "We have heard a report from Jehovah." He heard as well as saw. The soul has ears to catch the echoes of eternal thought. God in times past spoke to the fathers by the prophets; and now, as in olden times, speaks by symbols and sayings, by appealing to the eye and the ear.
2. The character of this revelation - a message. "An ambassador is sent among the heathen." Did he mean by the ambassador, himself, or any other prophet or prophets, or some celestial minister? It does not matter. The message is the thing - a message from Jehovah to the nation. God sends his messages to the nations in many ways and by many agents.
3. The subject of the revelation. "Arise ye, and let us rise up against her in battle." The object of the message was to stir up the Assyrians, and afterwards the Chaldeans, against Edom. But our proposition is that God makes a revelation concerning bad men; and the subject of that revelation embraces at least two things.
(1) That their sins will ruin them. This the Almighty has revealed over and over again in the Bible, and in every chapter of human history and experience. The burden of all is, "The wages of sin is death."
(2) That evangelical repentance will save them. "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon" (Isaiah 55:7). These two subjects are the great burden of God's revelation to bad men.
II. THAT GOD PUNISHES BAD MEN BY BAD MEN. He now sent a messenger amongst the nations. What for? To stir up the Assyrians and Chaldeans - both bad people - to wreak vengeance on corrupt Edom. Why does he employ bad men for this awful work of retribution? He could do is without any secondary agency at all, or, if he chose to employ any instrumentality, could use the forces of nature and the monsters of the forest alone to do the work; why employ bad men to punish bad men, fiend to punish fiend? By doing so:
1. He reveals in the most powerful way to the victim the enormity of his sin. The torture which his fellow man brings on him he is made to feel is but a slight stroke of that fiend of depravity which has set his own soul against his Maker.
2. He reveals his own absolute power over the workings of the human heart. Thus he maketh "the wrath of men to praise him," etc. (Psalm 76:10). He makes even the devil himself to carry out his will. But though God employs bad men to punish bad men by rapine, plunder, and bloody wars, it is not by his instigation; they act by their own free will. He is not the Author of evil. All good proceedeth from him, and all evil is overruled by him for the order and blessedness of the universe. The devil is not less a devil because he inflicts the penalties of justice on men. - D.T.
pride, that which poets tell us "peoples hell and holds its prisoners there." The words suggest three facts in relation to pride.
I. THAT THE MOST DESPICABLE PEOPLE ARE OFTEN THE MOST DISPOSED TO PRIDE. Edom, which is charged with the sin of pride, is here described as "small among the heathen" and "greatly despised." Not only were they a small people, small comparatively in numbers, wealth, and influence, but despised. They became contemptible in the estimation of their contemporaries. Small things and small men are not always despicable, for God made the small as well as the great. It is the moral character that creates and deserves contempt. Now, small and despicable as were these Edomites, they were nevertheless proud. It is often, if not ever, so. The smaller the men the more disposed to pride. The man small in body is often swollen out with ideas of the comeliness of his person; the man small in intellect is the same. The men who rate themselves as great thinkers, scholars, authors, preachers, are invariably small-brained men. Men of great intellect and lofty genius are characteristically humble. An old writer has observed that "where the river is the deepest the water glides the smoothest. Empty casks sound most; whereas the well fraught vessel silences its own sound. As the shadow of the sun is largest when his beams are lowest, so we are always least when we make ourselves the greatest."
II. THAT PRIDE EVERMORE DISPOSES TO SELF-DECEPTION AND PRESUMPTION.
1. To self-deception. "The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee." Pride is a wonderful artist; it magnifies the small; it beautifies the ugly; it honours the ignoble; it makes the truly little, ugly, contemptible man appear large, handsome, dignified in his own eyes. It is said that Accius, the poet, who was a dwarf, would have himself painted as tall and commanding in stature. In truth, it makes the man who is a devil at heart appear to himself a saint. Witness the Pharisee in the temple.
2. To presumption. "Thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground?" The Edomites are here taunted with the confidence that they placed in their lofty and precipitous mountain, and the insolence with which they scouted any attempt to subdue them. A proud man always presumes on strength, reputation, and resources which he has not. Whilst he stands on quicksand he fancies himself on a rock. "Thou sayest thou art rich, and increased with goods, and hast need of nothing; whereas," etc. (Revelation 3:17), Ah! self-deception and presumption are the twin offspring of pride.
III. THAT THE MOST STRENUOUS EFFORTS TO AVOID PUNISHMENT DUE TO PRIDE WILL PROVE FUTILE. Two things are taught here concerning its punishment.
1. Its certainty. "Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord." Here these sinners are assured, by a bold hyperbole, that whatever attempts they made to avoid retribution, they would fail. If, like the eagle, they towered high into the air, far up among the clouds, nestled among the stars, and made the clouds their footstool, the fowler of retribution would bring them down. All attempts on behalf of the impenitent sinner to avoid punishment must fail when the day for justice to do its work has come.
2. Its completeness. "If thieves came to thee, if robbers by night (how art thou cut off!), would they not have stolen till they had enough? if the grape gatherers came to thee, would they not leave some grapes?" The spoliation which thou shalt suffer shall not be such as that which thieves cause, bad as that is; for these, when they have seized enough, or all they can get in a hurry, leave the rest; nor such as grape gatherers cause in a vineyard, for they, when they have gathered most of the grapes, leave gleanings behind; but it shall be utter, so as to leave thee nothing. The exclamation, "How art thou cut off!" bursting in amidst the words of the image, marks strongly excited feeling. The contrast between Edom, where no gleanings shall be left, and Israel, where at the worst a gleaning is left, is striking (Isaiah 17:6; Isaiah 24:13). Retribution strips the sinner of everything; nothing is left but sheer existence, and that existence intolerable.
CONCLUSION. Beware of pride, then. The primal cause of all sin, all pain, and all woo to come, the great fountainhead of evil, is pride. It must load to ruin. "Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."
"He that is proud eats up himself. Pride is
I. We may consider ESAU AS THE TYPE OF THE SELF-CONFIDENT. Lifted up, dwelling amongst the stars, wise in his own eyes, he knows not his perilous condition. There are thousands and thousands like this. They say, in the language of Laodicea, "I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing." They little see themselves as God sees them. They are blind, and know not that they are miserable and poor; but God searches them out. "I know thy works." No one can elude the all-seeing gaze of the Omniscient. "Adam, where art thou?" Thus the Judge of all men comes making manifest the secrets of the heart. Hiding like Adam in the trees of the garden, or dwelling like Edom in the rocks, is only self-delusion. Shall not God search it out? There are many, like Saul, who are so self-complacent that they say, "I have kept the commandment of the Lord." When the stern prophet asks,"What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?" Some may remind us of the young man who, on hearing the commandments, said he had kept them all; but when Christ searched him through and through, he left Christ's presence, preferring his earthly possessions to heavenly riches. His heart was as a great stone, which, when disturbed, revealed numberless creeping things which at once shrank from the light and hastened away into new darkness. How are the things of Esau searched out! The disclosure must come. It is inevitable. "There is nothing, covered that shall not be revealed, neither hid that shall not be known." It may not be in this world, it may not be until the day - the great day - of judgment, but it must come. The things of Esau must be searched out, the folly of self-confidence must be made manifest.
II. In the next place, we may consider ESAU AS THE TYPE OF THE WORLDLY. We know how the first of the race bartered his birthright for a mess of pottage. And the race yet lives. There are yet multitudes carnally minded, who reject joint kinship with Christ for the sake of some mess of pottage, or some cup of pleasure, or some glittering toy, or the incense of human honour. How many are ready to exclaim, when we offer them the religion of Christ, that it would endanger their success in the world! So Demetrius, the silversmith, alarmed his fellow craftsman by telling them that Christianity would jeopardize their profits. "Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth." The world so fills the vision of such persons that they have no eyes for Christ, no eyes for heaven, no eyes for the coming glory, no eyes for immortality. They have eyes and see not; ears have they, and hear not. Like the raven in the Flood, they prefer the dead carcases to the security of the ark. Like Ishmael, they are ready to mock at those who differ from them. They ridicule the walk of faith. The cross of Christ is to them foolishness. Shall not God visit for these things? To be carnally minded is death. They are like the fabled vessel drawing nigh to the loadstone rock. They get nearer and nearer, when, lo! every bolt and nail is drawn out to the magnet, and the ship is an utter wreck. "How are the things of Esau searched out!" The worldly policy of multitudes may seem for a while to prosper, but the end of these things is death. Some years ago a woman was executed for murder. The fatal deed had been committed to obtain a five-pound note. When the coveted note was gained it was found to be only a pretence. It was called a five-pound "Bank of Elegance" note. Yet for this poor sham the miserable young woman risked her life and took the life of another. What an illustration of Esau's barter - a birthright for a mess of pottage! An inheritance incorruptible is forfeited for some gilded toy. "The wages of sin is death." "How are the things of Esau searched out!"
III. In the next place, we may consider ESAU AS THE TYPE OF THE UNSYMPATHIZING AND CRUEL In ver. 10 the prophet says, "For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off forever." This unsympathizing, hard-hearted, cruel spirit is directly opposite to that of Christ. The laws of the king dora call to gentleness, meekness, brotherly kindness, charity. Christ hath left us an example, that we should follow his steps. He is the gentle Jesus. He is the tender Shepherd. He is the Brother born for adversity. He gave himself for us. His mercy is everlasting. He is the sympathizing High Priest. It is clear, then, that the sin of Esau was very great. Jacob from his dying couch denounced the cruelty of Simeon and Levi, although by grace the latter was called to high privileges in Israel. "Instruments of cruelty are in their habitations. O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united!" And in a little while he adds, "Cursed be their anger, for it was great, and their wrath, for it was cruel." But here we have the inveterate cruelty of centuries. The hatred of Esau against Israel had survived many generations An unyielding, deadly, cruel antagonism to the Jews had been a leading characteristic of Edom. Esau's cruelty was of a most unnatural type. And it had grown worse and worse. The prophet tells us he first looked on Jacob's calamity, then laughed, then insulted, then plundered, and then imprisoned and murdered. We have, then, in Esau. a type of the unsympathizing and cruel. And is not the red hand of Esau, the cruel, blood dyed hand of Esau, at work in our own day? What are the fearful atrocities, the horrible cruelties, the maimings, the murders, the hellish plots, the demon-like machinations? What mean the heartrending tears and sorrows of widows and orphans? What mean the distress and poverty of multitudes of ladies - Ireland's matrons and daughters? What mean the blight and ruin so common in the land? O my soul, come not thou into the secret! Esau's cruelty and blood guiltiness were never so bad as the crimes, unpunished and undetected, of our own day. And shall not God search them out? "Verily there is a God that judgeth the earth." Let us for ourselves pray to be kept from the beginnings of all hatred, malice, and uncharitableness. God is love. May we have his mind! May we show ourselves the children of him who maketh his sun to shine on the just and on the unjust! "For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?... Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." - A.C.T.
in retriubution destroying the grounds of the sinner's confidence.
I. DID THEY TRUST TO THEIR MATERIAL DEFENCES: THESE WERE WORTHLESS. "How are the things of Esau searched out! how are his hidden things sought up!" The reference is to the hiding places to which they resorted in eases of danger. The country of the Edomites was pre-eminently favourable for such concealment and shelter. The cities of Edom consisted of houses mostly cut in the rocks. "The great feature of the mountains of Edom is the mass of red bald-headed sandstone rocks, intersected, not by valleys, but by deep seams. In the heart of these rocks, itself invisible, lies Petra" (Stanley). "Petra is unique. The whole Edomite country, from Eleutheropolis to Petra and Selah, hath small habitations (habitatiunculae) in caves. And on account of the oppressive heat of the sun, as being a southern province, hath underground cottages. Hence the aborigines whom Edom expelled were called Horites, i.e. dwellers in caves" Nations may trust to their material defences, their armies, navies, fortifications; but they are as stubble to the ruing fire when justice begins its work. Individuals may trust to their wealth, to material science and medical skill, to preserve their bodily lives; but when justice sends forth its emissary, death, what are these defences? Nothing, less than nothing, vanity.
II. DID THEY TRUST TO THEM PLEDGED CONFEDERATES: THESE WERE WORTHLESS. "All the men of thy confederacy have brought thee even to the border: the men that were at peace with thee have deceived thee, and prevailed against thee; they that eat thy bread have laid a wound under thee: there is none understanding in him." Those confederates were probably Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Zidon, with whom the Edomites joined in resisting Nebuchadnezzar; but these failed them, probably turned against them; and even their friends who were at peace with them and ate their bread deceived them in their hour of trial. "To no quarter could the Idumeans look for aid. Their allies, their neighbours, their very dependants, so far from assisting them, would act treacherously towards them, and employ every means, both of an open and covert nature, to effect their ruin." How often it happens, that when men get into adverse circumstances, their old allies, professed friends, those who have often partaken of their hospitality, not only fail them, but turn against them! "Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm" (Jeremiah 17:5). He that trusteth even to his firmest friends leaneth on a broken reed.
III. DID THEY TRUST TO THE WISDOM OF THEIR GREAT MEN: THIS WAS WORTHLESS "Shall I not in that day, saith the Lord, even destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of the mount of Esau?" "The Idumeans confided not only in the natural strength of their country, but in the superiority of their intellectual talent. That they excelled in the arts and sciences is abundantly proved by the numerous traces of them in the Book of Job, which was undoubtedly written in their country. They were indeed proverbial for their philosophy, for the cultivation of which their intercourse with Babylon and Egypt was exceedingly favourable, as were likewise their means of acquiring information from the numerous caravans whose route lay through their country, thus forming a chain of communication between Europe and India" (Henderson). Yet what is the wisdom of man to trust in? "He taketh the wise in their own craftiness." The wisdom of the wise is but foolishness; it is a miserable thing to trust in. Trust not in human wisdom; not in the wisdom of statesmen, scientists, ecclesiastics, theologians.
IV. DID THEY TRUST TO THE POWER OF THEIR MIGHTY MEN: THIS WAS WORTHLESS. "And thy mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, to the cud that every one of the mount of Esau may be cut off by slaughter." Delitzsch renders this, "And thy heroes despair, O Teman." Teman was the proper name of the southern portion of Idumea, called so after Tema, a grandson of Esau. Men trust in their heroes. At the banquets of public societies, companies, corporations, how does this confidence come out in the inflated cant of the speakers on the occasion, in relation to the army or the navy! A false confidence this also! God, by a breath of pestilence, can wither all the armies of Europe in an instant.
CONCLUSION. There is nothing in which the sinner trusts, nothing in matter or mind, in force or skill, that can stand for one instant before the retributive stroke of justice. Though some trust in chariots and some in horses, let us trust in the Name of the Lord. Men who trust in anything short of God are like the man who in a thunderstorm takes shelter under a tree, whose tall branches attract and receive the shock of the lightning which scorches him to ashes. - D.T.
himself, and so created angels and men. He might have lived in majestic solitude, in all the sublimity of his one eternal presence; but no, he created angels that excel in strength, hearkening to the voice of his word, and he made man in his own likeness. Companionship, then, is after the Divine mind. Of the first Adam God said, "It is not good for man to be alone." Of the second Adam it is written, "Of him the whole family in heaven and earth is named." So with wideness of meaning the psalmist declares that "he setteth the solitary in families." We know the value of association. Individuals make up households, households linked together make up kingdoms, and kingdoms united are a bulwark of society. But there are two kinds of companionship. "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise, but a companion of fools shall be destroyed." Our text tells us of Edom's unholy alliance, which was probably with Arabian tribes. "The men that were at peace with thee have deceived thee;... they that eat thy bread have laid a wound under thee." The marginal reading is more exact, "the men of thy peace.., the men of thy bread." Here, then, was a confederacy ruinous to Edom. "All the men of thy confederacy have brought thee even to the border: the men of thy peace have deceived thee; the men of thy bread have laid a wound under thee." Edom in extremity expected help, but, instead of that, the allies send his ambassadors back to the frontier, as much as to say, "Shift for yourselves. We are not going to help you. Look within your own borders." And thus, too late, Edom sees the folly of confederacy with Arab tribes. Now he is held up to us as a beacon of warning, assuring us of the disappointing character of worldly confederacy. "Cursed is the man that trusteth in man. and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord" (Jeremiah 17:5). Esau had been like's weak clematis clinging to a broken reed. In the time of the storm the feebleness of the support was manifest. They only are safe who can say, "The Lord is my Stay." Esau had rejected the Lord, and therefore, although exalted amongst the stars, was brought down to the ground. The men of his peace had deceived him. The men of his bread had laid a wound under him. Would that nations and individuals acknowledged in life and practice that salvation is of the Lord! All human alliances are poor and inadequate. In the time of our greatest need this will most be seen. Recall the dying words of Julius Caesar to Brutus, whose wound had been the worst of all. Recall the Earl of Strafford's words, when he found the king (after many assurances that he would never do so) had signed his death warrant, "Put not your trust in princes, nor in any of the sons of men." Recall Cardinal Wolsey's last words, "Had I but served God as faithfully as I have served my king, he would not, in mine old age, have abandoned me to my enemies;" "The men of thy peace," says the prophet, "have deceived thee; the men of thy bread have laid a wound under thee." Men who refuse the help and succour of the everlasting arms, of everlasting Love, and everlasting Strength, will find that wherein they trusted a festering wound, bringing pain, and anguish, stud dishonour, and shame. True union is strength, but it must be with right characters and on right principles. The ungodly are described in Proverbs 1:14 as saying, "Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse." They allure to a false confederacy. Better have no purse at all than be allied to the ungodly. Look at the lonely Elijah. How sternly, how heroically, isolated! He refuses to share in the one purse of evildoer. He will trust God for food. He who feeds the ravens can make even the ravens feed his prophet. Elijah will not come into the secret of the wicked. Unflinching champion, he knows that the purse of the ungodly is a bag with holes, and their cisterns hold no water, and their hopes are bounded by time, and their joys are gilded and unreal; and beyond death all is darkness, darkness - densest, deepest darkness. True wealth, true joy, true greatness, true glory, are for those who are heirs of God, joint heirs with Christ. "Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help... to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt!" There are many who do so; but what is God's message to Edom? "All the men of thy confederacy have brought thee even to the border: the men of thy peace have deceived thee; the men of thy bread have laid a wound under thee." How truly has even a heathen moralist, as well as an inspired apostle, warned us that "evil communications corrupt good manners"! In the Book of Kings we read of Jehoshaphat allying himself to Ahab in battle. It nearly cost Jehoshaphat his life. But afterwards we see that he had profited by the dear-bought experience. When he built ships to go to Ophir for gold, Ahaziah the son of Ahab said, "Let my servants go with thy servants in the ships," and Jehoshaphat would not. If we have been amongst those who have had worldly associates, let us learn wisdom. Let us walk with the wise. Let us choose for companions those who fear the Lord, and speak often one to another, to whom the Lord hearkens, and concerning whom he says, "They shall be mine in that day when I make up my jewels." In Acts 4. we read that the apostles, being released from prison, went to their own company. Their absence from the godly was by restraint. Prison walls and chains kept them. As won as ever they were free to choose they went to "their own company." That company was characterized by love to Christ. It was formed of the disciples of the Crucified. Men "took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus." That company had common hopes and joys and interests Their home was heaven. Their heritage was glory. Their Father was God. The company of the Lord's people here on earth are destined to inherit everlasting felicity. The child of God, when he is set free from the last ties that bind him to earth, goes to his "own company;" he goes to heaven, where Christ is gathering to himself those who have made a covenant with him by sacrifice. Let us ask ourselves about the companions of our life's pathway. Let us remember the folly of Edom, and let us remember the inspired counsel, "My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not." Let us remember, too, the feast at Enrogel. In 1 Kings 1 we read of the splendid entertainment given by Adonijah to his distinguished guests. Amongst those present were some who held the highest positions, military and ecclesiastical. Very merry was the gathering; very loud were the flatteries; very gratifying was everything to the prince. Surely with Joab, Abiathar, and many others on his side, he would soon wear the crown. But the banqueting is suddenly stopped. A messenger in breathless haste makes an announcement. Those who had just been shouting, "God save King Adonijah!" now undergo a change of feeling. They all rise to their feet and hasten away. The prince is left alone. His so called friends think not of his safety, but only of their own. They all disappear. Adonijah, a short time before admired, praised, flattered, crowned, the centre of a thousand hopes, is now alone. His guests had no true affection for him They had no bond of love to bind them. The confederacy was for their selfish ends. They fawned for place. Now they see the prince cannot help them, and so they pass away. The Banquet hall is deserted; one solitary man is riveted to the spot. The men of his confederacy have deceived him; the men of his bread have laid a wound under him. Adonijah learns too late the folly and disappointment of worldly alliances. May we all profit by the Spirit's warning! Let us resolve to follow Jesus, and unite our interests with those who are his. Once there came one to the Saviour, asking, "Master, where dwellest thou?" Jesus answered, "Come and see." Let us make for Christ's home in glory. Let us cast in our lot with his people, who through grace "come up from the wilderness, clear as the sun, fair as the moon, and terrible as an army with banners."
"Come, let us join our friends above
"E'en now by faith we join our hands "Oh that we now might grasp our Guide!
"Oh that we now might grasp our Guide!
mighty men, but it was a vain confidence. "Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord." Edom was long famous for its wisdom. Eliphaz, the principal friend of the patriarch Job, was a Temanite. This Eliphaz, in some respects, was a representative of human wisdom. He oftentimes laid down false principles, or misapplied right ones, but was always ready to boast that he knew more than others. It is great folly to be wise in one's own conceits. God asks, "Shall I not destroy the wise men out of Edom?" In Jeremiah 8. he says, "The stork, the turtle, the crane, and the swallow observe the time of their coming, but my people know not the judgment of the Lord." How do ye say, "We are wise? The birds, when the chilly winds of autumn come, take care to migrate to a warmer clime where winter will not destroy, but ye make no preparation for the future. How do ye say, We are wise? Would it be wise for a merchant never to look into his affairs? Would it be wise for a captain of a ship to see a great storm coming, and make no preparation? Would it be wise to proceed, on a long journey and have no provision? How do ye say, We are wise? There are multitudes to whom this question must be put. The vainly wise men of Edom still exist - men who might truly learn wisdom from the little things spoken of in Proverbs 30.: The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer; the conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in rocks [they know where to hide]; the locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands [they know that unity is strength]; the lizard taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings' palaces;" it has wisdom of patient, painstaking labour. The proud self-confidence of Edom had nothing of true wisdom about it. It was displeasing to the heart-searching God. "Shall I not even destroy the wise men out of Edom?" Then, too, we have the mighty men of Teman denounced. They were of those who gloried in their might. They trusted in nature's strength. With Pharaoh, they were ready to ask, "Who is Jehovah?... I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil... I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them." "Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them; they sank as lead in the mighty waters." With Saul, they rose, girt with strong armour and sword and spear; but the prophet comes and says, "The kingdom is given to another." With Samson, they shake themselves to put forth strength as at other times, but soon in the prison of the enemy we hear the exceeding bitter cry of the blind captive, "My weakness! my weakness!" With the Assyrian king, they exclaim, "With the multitude of my chariots I am come up to the height of the mountains, to the sides of Lebanon, and will cut down the tall cedars thereof, and the choice fir trees thereof: and I will enter into the lodgings of his borders, and into the forest of his Carmel." But God says, "I will put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle into thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest." And thus we see the vanity of the mighty man glorying in his might. "Thy mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed." Now, it will be asked, if the wise must not glory in his wisdom, nor the mighty in his might, where shall we obtain a wisdom worth seeking? Where shall we find the secret of a God-given strength? I will now answer these inquiries.
I. WHERE SHALL WISDOM BE FOUND? That of Edom will not do. The wisdom of this world is insufficient for an immortal soul We mostly need, not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, but that wisdom of God which none of the princes of this world knew, for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. Where shall wisdom be found? St. Paul tells us it is a revelation of the Spirit of God. Where shall wisdom be found? The Scriptures, by the power of the Spirit, "make us wise unto salvation." Behold in Jesus the Wisdom of God. Observe, we say not - See in him great wisdom, but - See in him infinite wisdom; see in him the Wisdom of God. All that can come forth from God is in the blessed Jesus. He is the Wisdom of God. In his Person you have perfect God and perfect man - the heavenly and the earthly, the perfect embodiment and revelation of Wisdom. In his Person, his words, his work, his life, death, and resurrection, Behold the Wisdom of God. And remember that "he of God is made unto us Wisdom." Yes; this is the wonder of wonders, this is the gracious answer to the question, "Where shall wisdom be found?" "He of God is made unto us Wisdom;" Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, ... but let him glory in the Lord," "who is the Wisdom of God and the Power of God."
II. THE POWER OF GOD. This will bring us to the reply to the second inquiry - Wherein may we find power? The mighty man is not to glory in his might. The mighty men of Teman, as well as the wise of Edom, are denounced. What is the source of strength that cannot decay? St. Paul understood when he said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me." In Christ we have righteousness and strength. When we are weak in ourselves, we are strong in him. He is not only the Wisdom of God, but the Power of God. God's power to save, God's power to bless, God's power to raise, sanctify, glorify, is Christ - "Christ the Power of God." Is there a soul you want saved? Christ is the Power of God. Is there a tried and afflicted one you desire to be comforted? Christ is the Power of God. Is there one you want taught, guided, succoured, blest? Christ is the Power of God. Do you in your own soul want soul-weanedness, heavenly mindedness, spirituality? Christ is the Power of God. Do you want power to overcome, power to be holy, power to be faithful? Christ is the Power of God. Do you want fears banished, sorrow healed, anguish soothed, and death conquered? Christ is the Power of God. He must be mighty to save. He must be all. - able to renew and bless. Christ is the Almighty.
III. We may now LOOK AGAIN AT OUR SCRIPTURE. We have seen that it shows the evil of all false confidence. It declares human wisdom and human power untrustworthy. It shuts us up to Christ, the Wisdom of God and Power of God. And it presses upon our hearts this important question, "What is our hope?" It calls us to see whether we are building on the mountains of Esau or the Rock of Ages. We are warned that every one of the mount of Esau shall be cut off. All refuges of lies shall be swept away. The foundation of God only standeth sure, and none other foundation can any man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Oh, let us rejoice in the sure Foundation! Let us declare plainly that all our hopes are founded on Jesus Christ, that the foundation of our trust is Christ, the foundation of our happiness is Christ, the foundation of our glorious expectations is Christ. On him as our Foundation we may rest secure. The gates of hell cannot prevail against us. The Rock of Ages is immovable, the covenant is inviolable, the promises are unalterable, and the Divine love is eternal, and when the mountains of Edom and all other false confidences shall forever perish, "the righteous shall shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father forever and ever." - A.C.T.
emotions were in the transgression. "Love rejoiceth not in iniquity." "Thou shouldest not have spoken proudly in the day of distress." The tongue was in the transgression. We are told in Psalm 137, how the children of Edom cried, "Down with it, down with it, even to the ground!" "Thou shouldest not have entered into the gate of my people in the day of their calamity." Their feet were in the transgression. Like those whose picture the psalmist drew, "their feet were swift to shed blood." And as their thoughts, their emotions, and their words were evil, so were their deeds. They were all wrong. "Thou shouldest not have looked on their affliction. Thou shouldest not have laid hand on their substance. Thou shouldest not have stood in the crossway, to cut off their escape. Thou shouldest not have delivered up thy brother a captive to his enemies." A solemn series of charges. One unbrotherly act after another. "Thou shouldest not;" "Thou shouldest not;" "Thou shouldest not." Contrast all these condemning words, "Thou shouldest not;" "Thou shouldest not," with the reiterated words of St. John in his First Epistle, "Let us love one another, for love is of God. He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love." We must surely feel that we want more of the spirit that St. John inculcates. Love does not flourish in the Church's garden as it ought. Envy, hatred, and malice are ever springing up, marring the plants of the Lord's own planting. What shall we think of the elder brother whose character is described in Luke 15.? Is not that unfraternal, unsympathetic, unloving elder brother yet alive? Or the priest and Levite of Luke 10., are they not still amongst us? And where wounded misery lies bleeding, are not the priest and Levite found passing away on the other side? Nay, is not Edom - Edom red with blood, Edom cruel as the grave, Edom fierce and untamed as a leopard - is not Edom still alive? Who will say that the religion of Christ would not make more progress in heathendom were the whole of Christendom more under its beneficent power? We read in Numbers 20. of Edom withstanding Israel in their march to Canaan. There is much of this antagonism to the progress of truth now. Then comes the reminder of relationship, and its consequent obligations: "Thus saith thy brother Israel, Let us pass to Canaan through thy borders." But Edom opposes: "Thou shalt not pass through." Hatred instead of good will, resistance instead of assistance, antipathy instead of sympathy, the spirit of Edom instead of the spirit of love, - these are the baleful hindrances to the Church's progress. Contrast this character of Edom with that of Christ. In Hebrews 4:15 we are told of the fraternal sympathy of our High Priest - sympathy with our infirmities, sympathy with our sorrows, sympathy with our conflicts, sympathy with our struggles, loving, tender, brotherly sympathy. In Proverbs 17. he is called "the Brother born for adversity" - born for it. The gospel is throughout a story of a Brother born to sympathize with adversity. Young man, he has sympathy with you. Child of poverty, he has sympathy with you. Bereaved one, he has sympathy with you. Tempted one, he has sympathy with you. He is the great Sympathizer. In the ages past he was "afflicted in all their afflictions;" and now we have not a High Priest who cannot sympathize with us. See how he is presented to us in the Gospels. See him going about doing good; see him drying the widows' tears; see him healing poor lepers; see him blessing little children; see him opening blind eyes; see him raising the fallen; see him feeding the hungry; see him teaching the ignorant; see him casting out devils; see him blessing the wretched; see him saving the lost. Oh, what sympathy! Oh, what a "Brother born for adversity"! Let us follow in his steps. It must not be enough that we are unlike Nero, who sent Christians to the lions. It must not be enough that we are unlike Edom, who hated his brother Jacob. It must not be enough that we are unlike persecuting Rome in the time when God's faithful martyrs were made to seal their testimony in fire and blood. We are to be Christ-like. We are to take as our example the loving, the forgiving, the tender, the compassionate, the meek, the long suffering Christ. instead of being like Edom, whose every power went out in unfraternal cruelty, we must bring our powers, our faculties, our emotions, our hearts, our lives, to be sanctified, controlled, and governed by the Holy Spirit of Christ. - A.C.T.
Genesis 27:41), which was transmitted to his descendants and came out openly in the time of Moses in the unbrotherly refusal to allow the Israelites to pass in a peaceable manner through their land (Numbers 20.)" (Delitzsch). These verses present to us social cruelty in three different features - as a sin against the Creator; perpetrated against a brother, specially offensive to God; as working in various forms from generation to generation. We shall devote a brief homiletical sketch to each of these. This passage implies, first, that social cruelty is a sin against the Creator; and the truth of this will appear from four subjects of thought.
I. THE CONSTITUTION OF THE HUMAN SOUL. Social cruelty is opposed to the normal condition of the human spirit. He who will study his own spiritual constitution will not fall to observe three great facts in relation to this subject.
1. The existence of social love. Social sympathy is one of the primary elements of our nature: its instinct is to render service to others and to seek their good will and fellowship. The malign is not inherent in man. Cruelty in him is not innate, as in the tiger and the bear. We are made to love and to be loved.
2. The instinctive condemnation of cruel acts. Never in the history of a soul has it instinctively approved of acts of cruelty as perpetrated either by itself or others. Conscience thunders against all such deeds: on the benevolent, and on the benevolent only, it smiles.
3. Innate craving for social approbation. The soul not only deprecates the ill will and loathing of society, but yearns deeply and always for its approbation. But this can only be attained by benevolent deeds. Now, inasmuch as the constitution of the soul is an expression of the Divine will, and that constitution is against cruelty, cruelty is an outrage on the Divine order.
II. THE COMMON RELATION OF ALL TO GOD. He is the Father of all men. No one of the human race is nearer to him than another. Each is his offspring and bears his image. And between all there is, therefore, the relationship of brotherhood. It cannot be the will of the great Father that his children should act as wild beasts, inflicting cruelty on each other, and thus harass his benevolent ears with the groans and shrieks of his offspring. What human father does not deprecate one of his children inflicting an injury on another, and does not ardently desire that each should work for the other? Are we more loving than he who made us? Does the brooklet contain more than the ocean?
III. THE COMMON INTEREST OF CHRIST IN THE RACE. Christ took on him the nature of man. He was the Son of man, not the Son of Jew or Gentile, rich or poor, bend or free, but the Son of man. The nature of all men was in him. He wore the nature of every man, he propounded doctrines forevery man, he enacted laws forevery man, he tasted death forevery man. He was not ashamed to call us brethren. He loved the world, and gave himself for it. How abhorrent, then, must it he to him and to his blessed Father for one man to inflict cruelty upon another!
IV. THE UNIVERSAL TEACHING OF THE BIBLE. The whole Decalogue, as reduced and enforced by Christ, consists in loving God with all our hearts, and our neighbour as ourselves. And everywhere in the New Testament are we exhorted to "be kindly affectioned one to another," to "recompense to no man evil for evil."
CONCLUSION. How obvious it is, then, that social cruelty in all its forms is a sin against the Creator! The man who injures his fellow creature is a rebel against the government of the universe. - D.T.
I. HERE IS AN OLD SIN WORKING IN THE HISTORY OF POSTERITY. "For thy violence against thy brother Jacob," etc. What was the sin? "And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob" (Genesis 27:41). Envy was the sin; and this envy towards Jacob, or Israel, was transmitted from generation to generation. The spirit of envy that was kindled in the heart of Esau towards his brother Jacob glowed and flamed with more or less intensity for ages in the soul of Edom towards the descendants of Jacob. Edom continued to be the inveterate foe of Israel Neither a man's sinful passion nor his deed stops with himself. Like a spring from the mountain, it runs down posterity, often gathering volume as it proceeds. No sinner liveth to himself. One man's sins may vibrate in the soul of another a thousand ages on. This is shown in almost every chapter of the history of nations. The fire of vengeance which the cruelty of one nation kindles in its victim will not expire at the conquest. It will burn on until it breaks out in fury, and wreaks vengeance upon its own conqueror. Hence he that taketh the sword always perishes by the sword. This fact should:
1. Impress us with the awfulness of our existence. It is true that in one sense we are little beings, occupying but a small space in the universe, and soon pass away and are forgotten; still there goes forth from us an influence that shall never end. We throw seed into the mind of the world that will germinate, grow, and multiply indefinitely, and yield harvests of misery or joy.
2. Impress us with the duty of every lover of the universe to protest against sin in individuals. A man may say, "What does it matter to you that I sin?" My reply is, "It does matter to me as a benevolent citizen of the universe. If your sin merely damned yourself, it is sad enough; but it does not end there; its pernicious influence on the universe is inconceivably great and calamitous."
II. HERE IS AN OLD SIN REPROBATED BY GOD IN THE HISTORY OF POSTERITY. God's eye traced it from Esau down. How does he treat it? He reprobates it. "For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off forever. In the day that thou stoodest on the other side, in the day that the strangers carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even thou wast as one of them. But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of brother," etc. Delitzsch renders the words, "Look not at the day of thy brother," and regards vers. 12-14 as a prohibition; others do not acknowledge the authority for that rendering. These Edomites, it would seem from the words, did stand on the other side without rendering help in the day when the stranger entered Jerusalem; they did "rejoice" over the children of Judah at that period; they did "speak proudly" in the day of distress; they did "enter into the gate" of God's people in the "day of calamity;" they did "lay hands on their substance" on that day; they did stand in the "crossway" and "cut" those off "that did escape." The omniscient eye saw all this. The Jews appeal to him to recompense the cruelty of these Edomites. "Remember, O Lord, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof!" (Psalm 137:7). For all this God says shame should come on them, and shame did come. They are blotted from the history of the living. God condemns sin wherever it is, however it comes, and whatever its pedigree. It may be asked - If it were the envy of Esau that thus came down from age to age in his posterity, and worked these deeds of crime, where is the justice of God in reprobating them? They only inherit the iniquities of their fathers. We answer:
1. Sin is essentially abhorrent to Jehovah. It is the "abominable thing" which he hates:
2. The very essence of sin is its freeness. Sin is not a forced act; no deed performed by a man against his will has any moral character, or can in a moral sense be either good or bad. The posterity of Esau were not compelled to cherish and develop the envy of their great progenitor. Each one could have quenched it. Each, no doubt, felt it to be contrary to his moral nature, and that it ought to be expelled. The Almighty knew that each man was free; hence his reprobation of sin wherever found. - D.T.
I. BECAUSE THE OBLIGATION TO LOVE IS STRONGER. It is the duty of all men to love one another, but more especially the duty of a brother to love his brother. Children of the same parents are specially bound by nature to be one in sympathy and in heart.
II. BECAUSE THE CHIEF HUMAN INSTITUTION IS OUTRAGED. What is the chief human institution? That of a family. Schools, governments, Churches, are not to be compared to the family institution. The government of the family is the model government; the school of the family is the model school; the Church of the family is the model Church. But when the members of this family become cruel to each other, this human institution is outraged.
III. BECAUSE THE TENDEREST HUMAN LOVES ARE WOUNDED. When brother inflicts injury on brother, parental hearts bleed, and sisters are struck with an agony of grief.
CONCLUSION. We wonder not, then, that cruelty towards brothers is more offensive to God than any other cruelty. Solomon has said that a "brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle" (Proverbs 18:19). The closer the relationship, in case of dispute, the wider the breach and the more difficult the reconciliation. A really offended brother is often harder to win back to friendship than the taking of a strong city or the breaking of the bars of a castle. Take the case of Cain and Abel, Joseph and his brethren, Absalom and Amnon. In all these cases nothing less than death was plotted and sought. Why is this? Why is a brother's anger so implacable?
1. Great love has been wounded. The more love, the greater capability of indignation. How strong the love of a real brother!
2. Great services have been ill requited. What attentions a true brother shows! how numerous, delicate, and self-sacrificing! If the object of all has proved utterly unworthy of them, how intense his chagrin, how poignant his distress!
3. Great hopes are frustrated. The offended brother anticipated a brother's sympathy, counsel, friendship, through all the checkered scenes of life. These hopes are shattered, and the wreck is vexations beyond measure.
4. Great reluctance on the offender's side to acknowledge the fault and seek reconciliation. Strange as it may seem, it is yet true - a man would sooner offer an apology to any one than to his relations, especially to brothers. - D.T.
us. How many who have been nursed in privileges and taken a place as servants of the God of Abraham, have been found, like Balaam, amongst the enemies of the Lord! "Even thou wast as one of them." How often the inquiry might come to those who ought to be bearing holy witness for God, "What doest thou here, Elijah?" The words may well convey a warning to us, for even the most godly have often fallen from their steadfastness. Let us note some examples by way of fixing this warning upon our hearts.
I. WE ALL DENOUNCE DRUNKENNESS. We all sadly mourn the condition of inebriates. Alas! there was a time when Obadiah might have stood in attitude of condemnation before the Patriarch Noah, and said, "Even thou wast as one of them."
II. WE SCORN THE LIAR. But there was a time when Abraham became untruthful. Obadiah might have appeared before him, and said, "Even thou wast as one of them."
III. WE ABOMINATE IMPURITY. But there was a time when Obadiah might have stood before David, as did the Prophet Nathan, and said, "Thou art the man!" "Even thou wast as one of them."
IV. WE DEPLORE RASH SPEAKING AND HOT AND HASTY WORDS. Time was when Obadiah might have come to the meek and holy Moses, and said, "Even thou wast as one of them."
V. WE OFTEN LOOK WITH FEELINGS OF DISDAIN UPON THE PROUD. And yet there was a time when Obadiah might have said to the good King Hezekiah, "Even thou wast as one of them."
VI. WE ARE EVER READY TO ADMIT THE TURPITUDE OF DENYING CHRIST. But see Obadiah standing before Simon Peter, and we catch his awful words, "Even thou wast as one of them."
VII. CONTENTION AMONGST BRETHREN IS ANOTHER EVIL WHICH WE DEPRECATE. Obadiah might have pointed to Barnabas, the "son of consolation," and said to him, "Even thou wast as one of them."
VIII. THE SIN OF UNBELIEF IS ANOTHER FEARFUL EVIL. But all the early disciples fell for a time into this sin. Obadiah might have said first to one, then another, "Even thou wast as one of them."
IX. A MURMURING SPIRIT IS ANOTHER EVIL WHICH THE CHRISTIAN SHOULD AVOID. St. Paul learned in whatsoever state he was, therewith to be content. The psalmist says his soul was as a weaned child. But we turn to the prophet of fire. We find the great Elijah under a juniper tree, murmuring at his lot. "Even thou wast as one of them." Enough. We see plainly that the Scriptures warn us of the frailty of our nature and the deceitfulness of our hearts. And, if we reflect at all, we must see that repeatedly Christian professors lack consistency. Christian principle and Christian practice should never be at variance. But what is the fact? How often the Christian in business walks so unworthy of his high calling that our prophet seems to speak to him, "Even thou wast as one of them." Or we look into society, and we find in some Christians so much worldly conformity, that to one after another Obadiah might come, and exclaim, "Even thou wast as one of them" Let me ask those Christians who spend several afternoons in the week in visiting, and yet scarcely ever drop a word for their Lord and Master - Do you think that Obadiah's expostulation is not for you: "Even thou wast as one of them"? Let us learn, therefore, these three lessons.
1. First, to live watchfully, "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." Snares and dangers will beset us as long as we are in the world. What some may call only the shadows upon the mountains may prove conquering foes (Judges 9:36). We all need the restraining grace of Christ. "Hold thou me up in my goings, that my footsteps slip not."
2. Secondly, to be careful about companionship. Edom's unfraternal antagonism was fed by the company he kept, till he was even "as one of them." Those who "mingle with the heathen" will not be slow to "learn their works." "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly... but his delight is in the Law of the Lord."
3. Lastly, to walk holily before God. St. Peter's exhortation should be kept in mind, "Giving all diligence, add to your faith [faith is the root - add to the root] heroic, manly courage; and to courage knowledge [self-knowledge, Bible knowledge, the knowledge of Christ; for knowledge is power for working and for waiting, for doing and for suffering]; and to knowledge temperance [temperance, or self-control, is an urgently needed grace]; and to temperance patience [we are all called to endure; we must not expect that we can be Christians without any trouble; Christ's soldiers must learn to endure hardness]; and to patience godliness [piety, devotion]; and to godliness brotherly kindness [Edom knew nothing of brotherly kindness; this brotherly kindness is love to the brethren - love to the godly]." And one more grace is enjoined, "Add to brotherly kindness charity [love to everybody]." Thus, in walking holily before God, we shall, by the power of his Spirit, keep from the sin of Edom, "Even thou wast as one of them " - one of the Babylonians; and all will take knowledge of us that we are the God-Man's disciples. The ointment of the right hand bewrayeth itself. We are Christ's. His we are, and him we serve. He was as one of us (sin only excepted), that we might be one with him forever. - A.C.T.
I. CRUELTY HAS VARIOUS FORMS OF WORKING. Look at the forms here.
1. The lack of sympathy when Judah was in distress. "Thou shouldest not have looked," etc. Greatly did Judah need Edom's sympathy at this time. "Strangers carried away captive their forces;" Babylon entered their country and their city and carried them away as captives. Foreigners entered into his gates and cast lots upon Jerusalem. The city, after a long siege, was broken up; and the great officers of the King of Babylon came and sat at the gates and cast lots on the spoils of Jerusalem. It was indeed a "day of calamity," as it is three times expressed in these verses. Terrible and never to be forgotten was that day when Babylon came with all its forces into Judaea, entered the city, and bore away as captives the inhabitants. Now, in their distress, how did Edom their brother act? They stood and looked carelessly on. Want of sympathy with suffering is a sin in the sight of God. Heaven denounces men, not only for the evil they actually perpetrate, but for the neglect of the good they ought to accomplish. These Edomites were like the priest and the Levite.
2. Positive rejoicing when Judah was in distress. It is said, "they rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of destruction," they "spoke proudly in the day of distress." They seem to have gloated over their afflictions.
3. Participation in the work of their enemies. They laid their hands on their substance, they cut off those that did escape, they delivered up those that did remain in the clay of their distress. Social cruelty ever has had, and still has, many forms of working. Cold indifference, malignant rejoicing, as well as positive inflictions. See the charge brought against the Edomites on this occasion (Psalm 137:7; Ezekiel 25:12).
II. OMNISCIENCE OBSERVES IT IN ALL ITS FORMS. God's eye was on the Edomites, noted not only their positive acts, but the workings of their inner souls. Sin in all its operations is evermore under the eye of Omniscience. He knows the way each spirit takes. He searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all their thoughts. The ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and he pondereth their doings; they "are in every place, beholding the evil and the good." This fact, for an incontrovertible fact it is, should be practically realized. And if practically realized it will have a fourfold effect on the soul.
1. It will stimulate to great spiritual activity. When the eye of an intelligence falls right on us, the glance stirs the soul What soul could sleep if it felt the eye of God ever resting on it?
2. It will restrain from the commission of sin. Did we feel his eye ever on us, should we yield to temptation? "Thou God seest me" is a powerful preventive.
3. It will excite the desire for pardon. God has seen all the errors and sins of the past, and they are great m number and enormity. Since he sees them, they must be either punished or absolved.
4. It will brace the soul in the performance of duty. Moses "endured as seeing him who is invisible." He knows our trials and our difficulties. Therefore let us be magnanimous under trial and brave in danger. Of God all-seeing, "What can escape his eye, deceive his heart omniscient?"
III. A JUST AND TERRIBLE RETRIBUTION AWAITS IT IN ALL ITS FORMS. "The day of the Lord is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head," etc. Retribution is a settled law in the material universe. "With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." There is a rebound in every sin. No crime has ever been committed that does not come back with a terrible rebound on the soul of the author. "They shall drink, and they shall swallow down." To swallow up and to be swallowed up is the world's destiny. - D.T.
Revelation 18:6 (I give the new version as more exact and expressive): "Render unto her even as she rendered, and double unto her the double according to her works: in the cup which she mingled, mingle unto her double." Here you see the principle in force rendering to Babylon as she rendered; doubling to her as she doubled; mingling for her as she mingled. We cannot overestimate the immense importance of this principle. In this life nations and individuals are constantly exemplifying the solemn truth which it involves. We should therefore all carefully remember that we are seed sowing, and sooner or later must come the harvest. (God told Edom, "Thy reward shall be upon thine own head. For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually." So Edom drank the cup at the hands of Babylon; Babylon drank it at the hands of the Modes; the Modes and Persians drank it at the hands of the Macedonians; the Macedonians drank it at the hands of the Romans; the Romans, in their turn, drank it at the hands of the barbarians (Dr. Pusey). Thus as they had done, it was done to them. Their reward returned upon their own heed. In Ezekiel 35:15 we have a similar denunciation of Edom: "As thou didst rejoice at the inheritance of the house of Israel, because it was desolate, so will I do unto thee: and thou shaft be desolate, O Mount Seir, and all Idumea, even all of it." It is, you will notice, exactly the same kind of denuuciation. In Proverbs 26:27 God says, "Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him." And in Psalm 9:15 we are told, "The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken." In Numbers we find Moab plotting to curse Israel, and the curse came upon himself. In Judges we read of Adoni-bezek taken in battle, and maimed in his hands and feet. Adoni-bezek acknowledged that he had himself maimed three score and ten petty princes. His words are not dissimilar to our text, "As I have done, so God hath requited me." He confessed that the law of Nemesis had reached him. The end of Haman will occur to us. Haman dug a pit, and fell therein himself. He set a stone rolling, and it returned upon him. He perished upon the gallows which he prepared for Mordecai. In Psalm 18. David says, "With the froward thou wilt show thyself froward." He clearly means that Jehovah will be sternly opposed to the sinner's frowardness. A similar passage is in Leviticus 26., "If ye walk contrary unto me, then will I walk contrary unto you." The stubborn will gain nothing by their obstinacy. God will render to nations and individuals according to their ways. They shall be filled with the fruit of their own doings. The enemies of Daniel, were devoured by the lions which they intended for his destruction. The accusers of the three Hebrews were consumed by the fiery furnace which they kindled for them, The plotters of mischief were taken in their own wickedness and filled with their own ways. "As thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee." In the case of Jezebel we have a terrible example of this kind. In the place where Jezebel caused the dogs to lick the blood of Naboth, the dogs licked her blood. Well said Eliphaz, "I have seen that they who plough iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same. The Jews, who were made to serve strange" masters, were told that it was for serving "strange" gods. And our Lord himself has said, "With the same measure that ye mete it shall be measured to you again." Society has been likened to the echoing hills. It gives the speaker his words back again, doleful groan for groan, and joyous song for song. Thus "with the same measure that ye mete it shall be measured to you again." Jacob, who deceived his father, was in turn, and similarly, deceived by his sons. The Egyptians killed the Hebrew children; the God of the Hebrews slew the firstborn of Egypt. "As thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee." The words, we know, were addressed to Esau, and we have had abundant proof of the truth of the principle which they involve. But let us briefly notice the converse. "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." If the ungodly cannot sow hemlock, nightshade, and darnel, without reaping the same, so God's servants cannot sow seeds of kindness, seeds of truth, seeds of light, seeds of heavenly blessing, without reaping in duo season. The great harvest of well doing, like that of evil doing, is indeed hereafter, but it has its tokens and firstfruits even now. Lot us notice, for example, our adorable Redeemer's beatitude, "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy." We know that the merciful are those who upon gospel principles are sympathetic, helpful, loving, and kind. We know also that hereafter Christ will say to those on his right hand, "Come, ye blessed,... inherit the kingdom... I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.... Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these my brethren, even these least, ye did it unto me." Hereafter, it is clear, the merciful will obtain mercy. But at present the like principle is at work. "As thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee" The kind and merciful now enjoy much blessedness; the unmerciful are now unblest. A man whose sympathies are all dried up lives in a region of wintry blight. He walks in no glorious sunshine and in no joyous liberty. He knows nothing of the bliss that comes from open-hearted sympathy. There is darkness within. Darkness covers the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God does not move on the lace of the waters. But the merciful man, the man who is kind and sympathizing, the man who is forgiving and for bearing, the man who has a kind excuse for others, the man who looks on the charitable side of a case, the man who thinketh no evil, - that man will reap here as well as here after. In his straits and afflictions he will find, as a general rule, the stream of kindness flow back again. The world will learn mercy by his mercy, and show some feeling for one whose wont was to sympathize with adversity. "The merciful man doeth good to his own soul" (Proverbs 11:17). The widow of Sarepta and the woman of Shunem, for kindness to the Lord's prophets, received a prophet's reward. The alms of Cornelius brought good to his own soul. God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love. "As thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee." Now this is one of the original principles of the creation of God. God said, "Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit, after his kind. The vine yielded grapes; the fig tree, figs; the olive tree, olives. The principle was universal. So it is in the moral world. What a man soweth, that shall he also reap." There is no altering the law naturally, morally, or spiritually. If a mother spoils a child, we know what the harvest will be. If a man takes to intemperate habits, we know what the harvest will be. And we all expect an idle, indolent man to come to disgrace and shame. Let no one be deceived. "God is not mocked... whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Often and often souls have been deceived. Eve was deceived, Jacob was deceived, Ahab was deceived, David was deceived; but as they sowed, they reaped. God was not mocked. And so with us. Our words, our actions, our habits, are seeds - seeds that will spring up. Oh, what will the harvest be? In this life there is, as I have shown, no little reaping ever going on. Nations and individuals are constantly learning the meaning of God's words to Edom, "As thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee." But the great harvest is at the end of the world. The Lord of the harvest is at hand. My text, which I have said, has a present fulfilment, especially amongst nations, will have its complete accomplishment with regard to individuals when Christ's judgment throne is set up. Then shall every man receive the things done in the body, Everyone shall receive - that it, carry away with him - the things done in the body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. The bad - the sins - must each be as a scorpion sting throughout eternity. Every sinner will be his own hell. The memory of his sins will be perpetual torment. In days when men argue against a future hell, it may be asked - Who will argue that justice must extinguish the memory and take away the remorse of the sinner's wilful transgressions? The recollection of the unpardoned sins of a lifetime will in itself be terrible. Let us, in this day of grace, when Jesus of Nazareth passeth by, offering salvation and everlasting life, let us every one come to him without delay. Let us accept his forgiving mercy, that our sins may be blotted out. Let us yield to the guidance of his Holy Spirit. And let us put on the Lord Jesus Christ, that we may be able to stand in the judgment. Henceforth may this be our language -
"Jesus, thy blood and righteousness
Social cruelty we considered as the grand subject of the whole. This was presented:
1. As a sin against the Creator. And this was proved by the constitution of the human soul; the common relation of the race to God; the common interest of Christ in the race; and the universal teaching of the Bible.
2. As when perpetrated against a brother, specially offensive to God. And three reasons were mentioned for this - the obligation to love a brother is stronger; the chief human institution is outraged; and the tenderest human loves are wounded.
3. As working in various forms from generation to generation. In this view it was shown that cruelty has various forms of working; that Omniscience observes it in all its workings; and that a terrible retribution awaits it in all its forms. Now social retribution is the subject before us, and this subject we have touched on already. There are two great popular errors concerning the subject of retribution.
1. That retribution is reserved entirely for the future state. That the future state will be a state of retribution - a state in which every man shall be rewarded according to his works - must be admitted by every thoughtful student of the Bible. But retribution is not only future; it is here; retribution is an eternal principle of the Divine government; it follows sin at all times and forever. The men and nations whose acts are registered in the Bible proclaim the grand truth, "Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner" (Proverbs 11:31). "Bishop Butler, in accordance with the same doctrine, lays it down as an axiom that this life is the allotted and appointed period of retributive justice. Having assumed this as an undoubted fact, he proceeds to infer therefrom the certainty of the future judgment. How many masters in Israel arrive at the same wholesome conclusion on quite opposite premisses - the entire absence of systematic retributive justice during this life! 'We find.' he says, 'that the true notion of the Author of our nature is that of a Master or Governor, prior to the consideration of his moral attributes. The fact of our case, which we find by experience, is that he actually exercises dominion or government over us at present, by rewarding and punishing us for our actions in as strict and proper a sense of these words, and even in the same sense, as children, servants, subjects, are rewarded and punished by those who govern them.'" Did not retributive justice strike our first parents and Cain at once? Did it not strike the antediluvian world, Sodom and Gomorrah, etc.? Another popular error concerning retribution is:
2. That it is a special infliction of God. We do not say that God may not break through the established order of things to inflict punishment, nor that he has not done so; for the Bible furnishes us with instances to the contrary. All we say is - this is not the general rule. Divine punishments are natural events. Divine justice works as naturally as Divine goodness. Sin and punishment are indissolubly linked as cause and effect. The text suggests two thoughts in relation to social retribution.
I. THAT IT IS OFTENTIMES A RETURN TO THE OFFENDER OF THE SAME KIND OF SUFFERING AS HE INFLICTED ON HIS VICTIM. "As thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head." The bitter cup thou hast given to thine enemy shall come round to thee, and of its dregs thou shalt drink. This principle is stated by Christ. "With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." The Bible is full of examples of this principle. Isaac told a lie, affirming that his wife was his sister; and he is told a lie by his son Jacob, who declared himself to be Esau. Jacob had deceived his aged parent in relation to Esau; his sons deceive him with regard to Joseph. He had embittered the declining years of his aged sire; his children embittered his. Again, Joseph was sold by his brethren as a bond servant into Egypt; in Egypt his brethren are compelled to resign themselves as bond servants to him. All history is full of examples, and everywhere in modern society illustrative cases may be selected. The deceiver himself is deceived, the fraudulent is himself cheated, the hater is himself hated, the cruel is often ruthlessly treated. Thus "as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee."
"Hear the just law, the judgment of the skies;
II. THAT IT OFTEN APPEARS TO COME AS A SPECIAL VISITATION OF ALMIGHTY GOD. "The day of the Lord is near upon all the heathen." All days are his days. But it is not until the guilty conscience is smitten with a sense of Sin that it sees him and feels that the day is full of God. Electricity pervades the universe, is ubiquitous; but men become conscious of it and talk of it only when it flashes in lightning and sounds in thunder. So with God's justice. It is everywhere; but when the guilty conscience feels its punitive touch it calls it the day of judgment. The righteous are now going into life eternal, every righteous deed is a step onward; the wicked are now going into everlasting punishment, with every sin they tramp downward.
CONCLUSION. Learn that no soul can sin with impunity; that every sin carries with it punishment. "The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices make whips to scourge us." It may be, indeed, through the deadness of your conscience and the superabundant mercies of this life, that you feel not the retributive lash as you will feel it at some future time; but retribution is working here.
"We still have judgment here that we but teach
I. SAFETY. "Upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance."
1. This is deliverance from the Law. "There is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus." "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made us free from the law of sin and death." The ten thousand condemning voices of the Law are silenced by the Deliverer. Christ has met the Law's requirements. His people are free. They are free indeed. The old handwriting against them was cancelled by the cross. The debt is paid. We are not under Law, but under grace.
2. This is deliverance from sin. "He shall be called Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins." Yes, from the penalty, from the power, and from the presence of their sins. What a glorious deliverance!
3. This is deliverance from Satan. "The Seed of the woman has bruised the serpent's head." Christ has vanquished our deadly foe. Now, if we resist the devil, he will flee from us.
"Captivity is captive led, 4. This is deliverance from the world. He who said, "Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world," prayed that his people might be kept from the evil in the world. Through him we are more than conquerors. "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." 5. This is deliverance from death. "O death, where is thy sting?" He that trusteth in Christ shall never die. That which we call death is to the servant of God the gate of life. The Christian is promised that he shall not taste of death. The death he undergoes is only the death of pain, of sickness, of sorrow, of sin, of death. To depart is to be with Christ, which is far better than remaining here - far better. "Forever with the Lord: II. In the next place, WE FIND SANCTITY PROMISED. "It shall be holy." In its present day application this promise sets forth the sanctification of God's Israel. It is not sufficient to realize deliverance; we are to seek holiness. Joshua's captains were not only to put their feet upon the necks of the five king of the enemy, but they were to go forward and possess the whole of Canaan. Deliverance from foes in the cave of the heart is only preparatory to further conquests and higher attainments. We are delivered from our enemies that we may serve God without fear, "in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life." "It shall be holy." The Christian's sanctification is twofold. 1. He is sanctified as set apart for God. Like the vessels of the sanctuary, he is consecrated to holy uses. It was Belshazzar's great sin that he took the vessels of the temple and put them to a profane use. God's people are to be vessels unto honour, meet for the Master's service, resting on the heavenly Eliakim. Not their own; a separate people; sanctified or set apart by God the Father. 2. The other view of the Christian's sanctification is the blessed hallowing of the Holy Spirit. This is a progressive work. We are to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour. We are to add to our faith. We are to be going from strength to strength. We are to press towards the mark. We are to be changed from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord. "Upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance, and it shall be holy." May we now seek to be filled with the Spirit of holiness! III. The third great promise of my text is SUFFICIENCY. "The house of Jacob shall possess their possessions." Here is all-sufficiency in all things. It is as the heir entering upon his inheritance. "My beloved is mine, and I am his;" "All things are ours, the world, life, death, things present, things to come, - all are ours." In possessing our possessions we enter upon the unsearchable riches of Christ. His salvation ours; his pardon ours; his joy ours; his rest ours; his kingdom ours; his angels ours; his home ours; his glory ours. Christ himself ours; Christ in us the Hope of glory; Christ for us the Pledge of glory; crucified together with him; raised together with him; seated together with him; glorified together. Oh, the unsearchable riches of the Christian! May we learn to possess our possessions, to use our talents, to enjoy our privileges, to rise to our dignity, to realize our standing, to pass through the length and breadth of our Canaan! Ours a righteousness which is Divine; a peace which surpasseth understanding; a joy which is unspeakable; a love which passeth knowledge; a kingdom which cannot be moved; a crown of glory that fadeth not away. Oh, let us go up and possess! Safety, sanctity, sufficiency. Eternal safety, Divine sanctity, all-sufficiency in all things. Upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance, and it shall be holy; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions." - A.C.T.
4. This is deliverance from the world. He who said, "Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world," prayed that his people might be kept from the evil in the world. Through him we are more than conquerors. "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."
5. This is deliverance from death. "O death, where is thy sting?" He that trusteth in Christ shall never die. That which we call death is to the servant of God the gate of life. The Christian is promised that he shall not taste of death. The death he undergoes is only the death of pain, of sickness, of sorrow, of sin, of death. To depart is to be with Christ, which is far better than remaining here - far better.
"Forever with the Lord: II. In the next place, WE FIND SANCTITY PROMISED. "It shall be holy." In its present day application this promise sets forth the sanctification of God's Israel. It is not sufficient to realize deliverance; we are to seek holiness. Joshua's captains were not only to put their feet upon the necks of the five king of the enemy, but they were to go forward and possess the whole of Canaan. Deliverance from foes in the cave of the heart is only preparatory to further conquests and higher attainments. We are delivered from our enemies that we may serve God without fear, "in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life." "It shall be holy." The Christian's sanctification is twofold. 1. He is sanctified as set apart for God. Like the vessels of the sanctuary, he is consecrated to holy uses. It was Belshazzar's great sin that he took the vessels of the temple and put them to a profane use. God's people are to be vessels unto honour, meet for the Master's service, resting on the heavenly Eliakim. Not their own; a separate people; sanctified or set apart by God the Father. 2. The other view of the Christian's sanctification is the blessed hallowing of the Holy Spirit. This is a progressive work. We are to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour. We are to add to our faith. We are to be going from strength to strength. We are to press towards the mark. We are to be changed from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord. "Upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance, and it shall be holy." May we now seek to be filled with the Spirit of holiness! III. The third great promise of my text is SUFFICIENCY. "The house of Jacob shall possess their possessions." Here is all-sufficiency in all things. It is as the heir entering upon his inheritance. "My beloved is mine, and I am his;" "All things are ours, the world, life, death, things present, things to come, - all are ours." In possessing our possessions we enter upon the unsearchable riches of Christ. His salvation ours; his pardon ours; his joy ours; his rest ours; his kingdom ours; his angels ours; his home ours; his glory ours. Christ himself ours; Christ in us the Hope of glory; Christ for us the Pledge of glory; crucified together with him; raised together with him; seated together with him; glorified together. Oh, the unsearchable riches of the Christian! May we learn to possess our possessions, to use our talents, to enjoy our privileges, to rise to our dignity, to realize our standing, to pass through the length and breadth of our Canaan! Ours a righteousness which is Divine; a peace which surpasseth understanding; a joy which is unspeakable; a love which passeth knowledge; a kingdom which cannot be moved; a crown of glory that fadeth not away. Oh, let us go up and possess! Safety, sanctity, sufficiency. Eternal safety, Divine sanctity, all-sufficiency in all things. Upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance, and it shall be holy; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions." - A.C.T.
II. In the next place, WE FIND SANCTITY PROMISED. "It shall be holy." In its present day application this promise sets forth the sanctification of God's Israel. It is not sufficient to realize deliverance; we are to seek holiness. Joshua's captains were not only to put their feet upon the necks of the five king of the enemy, but they were to go forward and possess the whole of Canaan. Deliverance from foes in the cave of the heart is only preparatory to further conquests and higher attainments. We are delivered from our enemies that we may serve God without fear, "in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life." "It shall be holy." The Christian's sanctification is twofold.
1. He is sanctified as set apart for God. Like the vessels of the sanctuary, he is consecrated to holy uses. It was Belshazzar's great sin that he took the vessels of the temple and put them to a profane use. God's people are to be vessels unto honour, meet for the Master's service, resting on the heavenly Eliakim. Not their own; a separate people; sanctified or set apart by God the Father.
2. The other view of the Christian's sanctification is the blessed hallowing of the Holy Spirit. This is a progressive work. We are to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour. We are to add to our faith. We are to be going from strength to strength. We are to press towards the mark. We are to be changed from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord. "Upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance, and it shall be holy." May we now seek to be filled with the Spirit of holiness!
III. The third great promise of my text is SUFFICIENCY. "The house of Jacob shall possess their possessions." Here is all-sufficiency in all things. It is as the heir entering upon his inheritance. "My beloved is mine, and I am his;" "All things are ours, the world, life, death, things present, things to come, - all are ours." In possessing our possessions we enter upon the unsearchable riches of Christ. His salvation ours; his pardon ours; his joy ours; his rest ours; his kingdom ours; his angels ours; his home ours; his glory ours. Christ himself ours; Christ in us the Hope of glory; Christ for us the Pledge of glory; crucified together with him; raised together with him; seated together with him; glorified together. Oh, the unsearchable riches of the Christian! May we learn to possess our possessions, to use our talents, to enjoy our privileges, to rise to our dignity, to realize our standing, to pass through the length and breadth of our Canaan! Ours a righteousness which is Divine; a peace which surpasseth understanding; a joy which is unspeakable; a love which passeth knowledge; a kingdom which cannot be moved; a crown of glory that fadeth not away. Oh, let us go up and possess! Safety, sanctity, sufficiency. Eternal safety, Divine sanctity, all-sufficiency in all things. Upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance, and it shall be holy; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions." - A.C.T.
I. IT IS CONNECTED WITH DELIVERANCE. "Upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance." Mount Zion was the asylum for those who had escaped. In Mount Zion shall be the escaped. From Babylonian captivity and suffering they returned to Mount Zion, or Jerusalem, and were safe. There they enjoyed their old protection. In the true Church there is spiritual safety; it is a refuge that is built upon a rock, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against it. It is watched by the infinite love and guarded by the almighty power of Christ; its blessed Keeper never slumbers nor sleeps. Oh, ye imperilled spirits pursued by the powers of hell, led by the devil captives, and sold under sin, flee to this Mount Zion, this true Church of God, this community of godly men, which is at once the organ and the residence of Christ.
II. IT IS CONNECTED WITH PURITY. "There shall be holiness." Moral pollution, or sin, is the source of all the calamities that befall men. Mount Zion is a consecrated spot. If there is holiness anywhere it is in connection with that community of men called the Church, which embraces the principles, cherishes the spirit, follows the example of the Son of God. True, the members are not perfect yet; but they are in the process of cleansing, and are already holy as compared with the pollutions of the ungodly world.
III. IT IS CONNECTED WITH ENJOYMENT. "And the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions." "Though the houses of Jacob and Joseph are here spoken of separately, it was not the intention of the prophet to teach that the two kingdoms of Judah and Israel would be re-established. Yet the special mention of Joseph clearly shows that the ten tribes were to return at the same time, and jointly with Judah and Benjamin, to possess the land of Palestine and the neighbouring regions (see Isaiah 11:12-14; Hosea 1:11). The restored Hebrews would unitedly subdue the Idumeans; which they did in the time of John Hyrcanus, who compelled them to be circumcised, and so incorporated them with the Jews that they henceforward formed part of the nation." The word "possess" here means enjoy - enjoy their possessions. The community of the true Church alone enjoy their possessions. They are a happy people; all things are theirs; they are full of joy; they even glory in tribulation. "Blessed am the people that know the joyful sound!" (Psalm 89:15). - D.T.
I. WHAT IS HERE PROMISED CONCERNING GOD'S HERITAGE APPLIES TO THE WHOLE CHURCH OF THE FIRSTBORN. Truth may appear to lose many a battle, but in the end it will assuredly prevail. Edom, long hostile to God's ancient Israel, is likened to stubble before the flames. Happy the people who are on the conqueror's side. When Israel was in Egypt, captive and down trodden, it seemed impossible that they could ever march forth to liberty and Canaan. But the time came when they sang of victory, and Pharaoh and his captains were as stubble before the flame. When Asa found the vast hoses of the Ethiopians coming against him, it might have appeared impossible to subdue them. But Asa knew the secret of power. The Ethiopians were soon as stubble before the flame. When the Moabites, Ammonites, and Edomites were confederate against Jehoshaphat, it seemed as if the might and greatness were on the side of the enemy, but good King Jehoshaphat gave himself to prayer and praise - believing prayer, and joyous and confiding praise. The enemies were soon as the stubble before the flame. And so in the end truth itself shall prevail. Foes may be mighty and gospel doctrines may seem to make slow progress, but the time must come when "the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." That was a wondrous vision once seen by St. John: war in heaven - Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels, and the dragon was cast out, and his angels with him. "So let all thine enemies perish, O Lord: but let them that love thee be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might." The Church of God has often been likened to a worm, yet it is to thresh the mountain, and is seen in sacred song as "fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners." Thus weakness is girt about with strength, because God himself fights his people's battles, and is one with them. "He that seeketh thy life seeketh my life;" "He that toucheth you toucheth the apple of mine eye." All-conquering oneness. This secret of conquest may be seen by comparing our text with Isaiah 10:17. In our text the word is, "The house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble;" but the word in Isaiah is, "The light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame: and it shall burn and devour his thorns and his briers in one day." Thus the Lord espouses the cause of his people; so that in all things they are more than conquerors through him who loved them.
II. WHAT IS THREATENED IN OUR TEXT RESPECTING ESAU APPLIES TO ALL THE ENEMIES OF GOD. As it is said that the house of Esau shall be as stubble consumed by the flame, so in New Testament language the ungodly are likened to chaff which shall be burned with unquenchable fire. It is a dreadful thing to be found amongst the enemies of God. St. Paul, we read, wept because there were men who were enemies of the cross of Christ. A man who is hostile to the atonement of the Saviour shows he refuses to be reconciled to God. The message of reconciliation has come to us. The way of peace is proclaimed to us. The gospel of God's grace is sot before us. The path of life is revealed. Salvation is offered without money and without price. When we were enemies Christ died for us. Now, the promise is, "peace by the blood of the cross." And some spurn the cross. The apostle might well weep. Angels might well weep. The Saviour himself wept over such. There cannot be hope for a man who remains an enemy of the cross of Christ. The house of Esau shall be as stubble. The ungodly are as the chaff. There cometh One "whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into his garner, but burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." And not only is this part of our text applicable to all the enemies of God; it reminds us of the overthrow of all that is evil. Every plant that the Father hath not planted shall be rooted up. Truth shall prevail over error. Light shall conquer darkness. Eternal day shall chase away the shades of night. Goodness shall prove stronger than sin. The Seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head. All things shall be subdued unto Christ. "He must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." Ere a little, and the song shall be heard, "The Lord God omnipotent reigneth." Voices as of many waters, voices as of mighty thunders, voices loud and strong, voices of angels, voices of the redeemed of men, joyous coronation voices, shall soon unite in proclaiming the once despised Man of sorrows "KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. And he shall reign forever." "For the Lord hath spoken it." - A.C.T.
I. THE CHARACTERISTIC WHICH THIS FIRE DISPLAYS. What is the fire? The fire of truth, that burns up error; the fire of right, that burns up wickedness; the fire of love, that burns up selfishness. "I am come," said Christ, "to kindle a fire upon the earth." "Is not my Word like a fire?"
1. The fire in the Church is a strong fire. It has burnt an enormous amount of wickedness in every form, age, and land. It has burnt through the fiercest storms of centuries.
2. It is an extending fire. Its flames are ever advancing, they reach further today than ever. The most splendid systems of men, ethical, theological, and philosophic, however brilliant, have been but sparks compared to this; they have burnt on a little and gone out in darkness.
3. It is a steady fire. It does not flare and flash, but burns its way silently wherever it goes.
4. It is an unquenchable fire. Men have tried to put it out, oceans of infidelity and depravity have been poured upon it, but it burns on.
II. THE MATERIALS WHICH THIS FIRE CONSUMES. "Stubble." What is moral depravity in all its forms - theoretical and practical, religious, social, political? What is it, however old, however decorated with worldly power and grandeur? What is it? "Stubble." It is not a rock, that stands fixed amidst the surges of time; not a tree, that has roots that may grow forever; it is mere stubble, dry, sapless, worthless "stubble," ready for the fire. Error to truth, wrong to right, malice to love, is but stubble to fire.
CONCLUSION. God speed this fire until the whole world of wickedness shall be destroyed, until its heavens be dissolved, its earth burnt up, and its elements melt with fervent heat, and there come out of it "a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness"! - D.T.
Rehoboth after narrowness, strife, contention, and hatred (Genesis 26.). The house of Jacob is shown us stretching forth in all directions - north, south, east, and west; the promises long looked for fulfilled; Jacob, long pent in, now enjoying a large room. The cries in narrowness have been answered in wideness. Rehoboth is inscribed on Judah's banner, and little Benjamin shares the plenteousness. They of the south have no Edomite enemy; nay, the mount of Esau is their possession. They of the plain have no Philistine foe; their own borders reach to the coast. Over Philistia they triumph. The giants of Gath lie in the dust. The men of Ashdod and Ekron, who sang the praise of Dagon, are no more. Ashkelon and Gaza are silent in death. They of the plain possess the whole territory of the Philistines, with the sea for their only border. But much more than this. They extend northward. They take in Ephraim. No more shall Ephraim vex Judah. They also take in Samaria. No more shall it be heard that the Samaritans have no part with the Jews. And more still Benjamin shall possess Gilead, thus stretching to the east. It shall have a portion on both sides of Jordan. And, further, Judah shall receive into fellowship those who were carried away captive from them. Some in Zarephath in Zidon, labouring as slaves in the smelting house, and the captivity of Jerusalem shall possess the cities of the south. Thus the inspired prophet, from the sacred mount of vision, amongst other blessings, notices these five:
(1) liberty after captivity;
(2) peace after war;
(3) wideness after straits;
(4) a portion on both sides of Jordan;
(5) unity after divisions and discord.
With what joy must Obadiah have seen all these rich blessings unfolded before him! Liberty! Oh what a history of captivity and bondage was that of the Jews! Peace! Their national life hitherto had been one of war. Wideness! Up to this they had been sorely straitened and hemmed in in veriest narrowness. A portion on both sides of Jordan! Hitherto they had had their lot on the western side only. Unity! They had been torn by divisions. They had been weakened, impoverished, and desolated by divisions. How pleasant, therefore, the prospect of Judah receiving into its bosom multitudes of the captivity of Israeli All one at last. One fold under one Shepherd. A delightful prospect. Obadiah, like another Moses, must have viewed the scene with patriotic joy and hallowed fervour and gratitude. And now for the spiritual application of the passage to ourselves.
I. GLORIOUS LIBERTY IS PROCLAIMED TO US. Christ sets his people free. He came to lead captivity captive. He opens the prison to those who were bound. His Word is the perfect law of liberty. The Apostle Peter's deliverance from prison is like a picture of the deliverance wrought for the soul of man. We were in the dark dungeon, fast bound in misery and iron. Light shone in the prison. A friendly hand smote us. A voice bade us arise. The fetters fell off. We were led forth from the darkness of death into the light and liberty of the children of God. Or we may say, in the language of David (Psalm 126:7), "Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped;" Joyous liberty, blessed liberty, glorious liberty of the children of God.
II. PEACE IS OURS. The peace of the very God of peace. Secure tranquillity through the blood of the everlasting covenant. "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned;" "Peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near." Peace always and by all means.
III. WIDENESS IS OURS. "Thou hast known my soul in adversities;...thou hast set me in a large room." The Lord brings his people into a wealthy place. "Rehoboth" is written on the gospel "Rehoboth" is written on the work of Christ. "Rehoboth" is written on the wells of salvation. On the joys, the glories, the promises of covenant grace, the letters are written as with Calvary's blood - "Rehoboth." Room enough and to spare (Job 36:16).
IV. A PORTION ON BOTH SIDES OF JORDAN IS OURS. The Christian has the promise of the life that now is as well as that which is to come. All things are ours. The world, life, death, things present, things to come, the blessings of the throne and the blessings of the footstool, the upper springs and the nether springs, - all are ours. Oh, let us pity the men who have their portion only in this life! Let us pray for those whose hearts and treasures are where the rust and moth are. Let us seek to influence for good all those who have no portion on both sides of Jordan.
V. Finally, THE CHURCH IS CALLED TO UNITY. We are to endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit. There are many stones, but one temple. There are many children, but one household - one family. There are many branches, but one Vine. There are many members, but one body. The Communion feast teaches this oneness. Our Lord's great intercessorial prayer was that his people all might be one. The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love and concord, calls us to oneness. The divisions of Christians must grieve the Spirit.
"Our little systems have their day; .
Genesis 12:5). The possession is gained, not vi et armis - by force and arms; for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but spiritual; it is by the preaching of the gospel, and the power of Divine grace going along with it, that this possession is got and kept." That the true Church is an aggressive power will appear from considering the gospel, which is at once its inspiration, its life, and its instrument. Consider, therefore
I. THE ELEMENTS OF WHICH THE GOSPEL IS COMPOSED. It is made up of two great elements, "grace and truth," that is, eternal reality and Divine benevolence. Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." To show the aggressiveness of these two principles, two facts may be stated.
1. That the human soul is made to feel their imperial force. It is true that the soul in its unregenerate state is ruled by directly opposite elements - error and selfishness. But even error has power over it only so long as it regards it as reality, and selfishness influences it under the guise of love. It is the truth when made clear to it that comes with a conquering power; it is love or grace that transports its heart. The human soul is made for these two elements.
2. That the human soul is bound to yearn after these elements as its highest good. Its deep hunger is for truth and for reality, for benevolence, or love. It has no natural hunger for error, no natural hunger for selfishness.
3. That the human soul is everywhere restless without these elements. It is only as the soul gets truth and grace into it that it becomes settled, calm; self-united. These are facts connected with the human soul, and these facts show the aggressiveness of the gospel.
II. THE PROSELYTIZING SPIRIT WHICH THE GOSPEL ENGENDERS. As soon as ever the gospel takes real possession of a soul, that soul becomes intensely solicitous to spread it abroad. It becomes what Jeremiah describes as a "fire in the bones." Peter said, "We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard," Paul said, "The love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge," etc. "Necessity is laid upon us" Every genuine recipient, then, of the gospel becomes a missionary, a propagandist, a moral knight, to battle against the mighty hosts of error and selfishness. Each member of the true Church, or godly community, becomes, by a moral necessity, a soldier of the cross.
III. THE TRIUMPHS WHICH THE GOSPEL HAS ALREADY ACHIEVED. Compare the influence of the gospel in the world now to what it was when Christ was on earth. It was then confined to one lonely soul, the soul of Jesus of Nazareth; it is now in the possession of millions. The springlet has become an Amazon; the grain has covered islands and continents; the little stone has grown into a mountain that bids fair to fill the earth.
CONCLUSION. Such thoughts as these tend, we think, to demonstrate the essential aggressiveness of the true Church. It will one day take possession of all heathendom, with its "mount of Esau," the "plains of the Philistines," the "fields of Ephraim," and the "fields of Samaria," and what Canaanites there are as far as Zarephath. - D.T.
Saviour, thou most worthy Judge eternal, give us now of thy Holy Spirit that we may profitably study thy Word.
I. "SAVIOURS SHALL COME UP ON MOUNT ZION TO JUDGES THE MOUNT OF ESAU." Temporal deliverance had often been wrought for Israel, and still greater things would God accomplish. In Judges 2:16 we have an early use of two words of our text. "Nevertheless the Lord raised up judges, which saved them out of the hands of those that spoiled them." In Judges 3:9 we read, "When the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer [saviour] to the children of Israel, even Othniel." Again, in ver. 15, "When the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, the Lord raised them up a deliverer, Ehud the son of Gera." In Nehemiah 9:27 we read, "In the time of their trouble, when they cried unto thee, thou heardest them from heaven; and according to thy manifold mercies thou gavest them saviours, who saved them out of the hand of their enemies." Here, then, we see that in temporal deliverances the twofold office was entrusted to one individual. The judges were often called saviours, and the saviours were often called judges. Thus we see the primary meaning of Obadiah's prophecy, "Saviors shall come up on Mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau." In the deliver since wrought by such as Judas Maccabaeus and others we see the primary fulfilment of the words.
II. In another view of the text we may remark that AS TOPICALLY MOUNT ZION STOOD OVER AGAINST THE MOUNT OF ESAU, SO SPIRITUALLY GOD'S HOLY HILL STANDS OPPOSED TO THE MOUNTAINS OF THIS WORLD - the mountains of human pride, the mountains of human misery, the mountains of error, the mountains of unbelief, all the dark mountains of sin. And every such mountain shall be judged and brought low, even to the dust. A time is coming when the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established upon the tops of the mountains. At present great mountains of evil may seem to overshadow Zion, but ere long they shall become a plain. Our God can make even the worm to thresh the mountain - the least of his servants to "leap from Bashan," to "overcome troops," and "out of weakness" to become strong. "Saviours shall come up on Mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau."
III. Another reflection is this: THE CHILDREN OF ZION ARE TO BE SAVIOR'S NOW; THEY SHALL BE JUDGES HEREAFTER.
1. Saviours. We are called to rescue the perishing. "He which converteth the sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death" (James 5:20). But, as saviours, we must see well to our own souls. St. Paul's words to Timothy are very weighty: "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine: continue in them, for in doing this, thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee." In seeking to win souls we must take care that our own souls are won. In caring for others' vineyards, we must not neglect our own. This said, we return to the doctrine that the saved are to be saviours. We once had our part with the destroyer; now we are to be a blessing. We are to seek to save the lost. Moses calls to Hobab; Andrew finds Peter; Philip, Nathanael; the woman of Sychar brings her neighbours to Christ. Thus the saved are saviours. Noah calls others into the ark. Abraham invites Lot to Canaan. Rahab brings her relations under the shelter of the scarlet line. Joshua commands his household. Job sacrifices and prays for his friends. Isaiah lifts up his voice for the remnant. Jeremiah weeps and prays. Daniel fasts and makes supplication. The mothers of Salem bring their children to Christ, that he should bless them. Saviours ascend on Mount Zion. May we all know what it is thus to rise - thus to ascend, and walk on God's high places!
2. The children of Zion shall hereafter be judges. They shall "judge the world." They shall "judge angels." They shall sit with Christ on his throne. They shall not only be manifested at the judgment seat of Christ, but shall share in the decisions of the Lamb. For the present they "judge not" unless it be themselves, or in the sense of testimony as regards the evil that is in the world. Through the cross of Christ the world has been crucified to them, and they are crucified to the world. "And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil." The Christian has now to bear witness to this judgment, but the full and great assize is future.
IV. We may now turn our thoughts to THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. He is the almighty and most merciful Saviour; he is the most worthy Judge eternal.
1. Let us think of him as a Saviour. "Behold, I stand at the door and knock." He comes to the sinner's heart. He knocks by his Word, by his providence, by his Spirit. He has knocked long. The heart, like the inn at Bethlehem, has no room for Christ, or the bolts of ignorance and unbelief bar him out. How long shall he be kept away? He may have given his last knock. You and I need a Saviour. Shall we not welcome him? Shall we not accept his offer? Oh, "how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?"
2. Let us think of him as a Judge. "Behold, the Judge standeth at the door." If we open not to the Saviour, we must open to the Judge. I have read of a man of immense wealth who built for himself a magnificent mansion, and then shut himself up in it. His sovereign, passing that way, asked for admission. He refused it. Time went on. A change took place. There had come a great depreciation of West Indian property. The proud man, who would not receive his king, saw his gates yield to the law officers of the crown. "Behold, the Judge standeth at the door." If we welcome not the knocking Saviour, how can we meet the Judge? May the Holy Spirit be our Helper, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, and not be ashamed at Christ's appearing! May we say with Luther -
"Beneath the cross I view the day
come. The kingdom. Not many kingdoms, but one. Now there are many, and these diverse from each other, and often at war one with another. The Prophet Daniel spoke of this when he said, "The Lord God shall set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed." The fulfilment is presented to us in Revelation 11:15, "The seventh angel sounded; and there followed great voices in heaven, and they said, The kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ: and he shall reign forever and ever." "The kingdom shall be the Lord's." Now the world lieth in the wicked one. The kingdom is Satan's. Look at its sins, its miseries, its darkness, its degradation, its ruin. The kingdom is Satan's. See the heathen world bowing to wood and stone, or worshipping devils. Look at the vast millions carried away by the Mohammedan delusion. Turn to the multitudes hardened by Jewish infidelity. View so called Christendom, with teeming myriads rejecting the truth. See also the millions that have not so much as the profession of any religion. Is not Satan the prince of this world? Is not the great enemy of souls usurping the seat of power? Oh, then, as we think of Israel not gathered home; as we think of Babylon drunk with the blood of saints; as we think of the infidelity and ignorance which stalk abroad in the professing Church and in the world; as we think of war and bloodshed deluging the earth; as we think of nations discomfited by the frailties of human governments; as we think of the Church torn by contentions; as we think of Rachels weeping for their lost ones; as we think of the tears which bedew the cheeks of orphans and widows; as we think of the sorrows in our hospitals; as we think of the bitter poverty in our large cities; as we think, too, of the groans of the poor brute creation; and as we think of the sad partings, the great disappointments, the strong animosities, and the cruel wrongs common to earth; - shall we not pray for the fulfilment of our text? shall we not cry, "Thy kingdom come"? shall we not exclaim, with St. John, "Come, Lord Jesus: come quickly"? It is a cry for the end of toil, the end of suffering, the end of tears, the end of temptations, the end of sin, the end of gloom, the end of darkness, the end of death. It is a loud cry for the song of heaven to be heard, "Now is come salvation and strength, and the kingdom of God, and the power of his Christ." It is an earnest longing to join in the Hallelujah chorus of the great multitude, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thuuderings, saying, "Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth!" "The kingdom shall be the Lord's." At present, although the kingdom of nature is his, creation groans, being burdened. At present the kingdom of providence is his, but man keeps blotting the pages of history, and things are not as they ought to be. At present the kingdom of grace is his, but his grace is often frustrated, and the subjects of his grace live far below their privileges and high calling. Ere long, and the three kingdoms shall be no more imperfect. They shall be consummated in the full Christocracy - "the kingdom shall be the Lord's." The kingdom of glory shall come, and shall have no end. In closing our study of the Book of Obadiah let us carry with us the sweet echoes of its last words. May the Holy Spirit, in all the vicissitudes of earth, keep us in mind that "the kingdom shall be the Lord's"! Ere long, and he shall come whose right it is to rein. In the interval before the advent let us be alive to our duty.
I. LET US BE READY FOR IT. No one who is impenitent and unbelieving can be ready. Like Ethelred, he is all unready. To be prepared for Christ's coming, we must be washed in his blood, justified by his righteousness, and sanctified by the Spirit of holiness.
II. LET US BE LOOKING FOR IT. Let us say with St. Paul, "We wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of his glory." Let us mount our heimwehfluh in longing expectation and hope. Christ's disciples are to be not only servants, but like unto servants who wait for their lord. The servant who expects his lord, has him in mind, and is on the look out, lest, coming suddenly, his lord finds him sleeping.
III. LET US BE WORKING FOR IT. The absent Saviour has given to every man his work. Each one has something to do. Every true disciple is a worker, called to prepare the way of the Lord - to make some crooked path straighter, some rough place smoother, some mountain lower, some valley higher. "The kingdom shall be the Lord's."
IV. LET US BE LIVING FOR IT. "What manner of persons ought ye to be?" How weaned! How unworldly! How heavenly-minded! How Christ-like! For "the kingdom shall be the Lord's."
V. LET US BE PRAYING FOR IT. "That it may please thee shortly to accomplish the number of thine elect, and hasten thy kingdom."
"Come, then, and added to thy many crowns VI. LET US BE GLAD. We ought to rejoice. We ought to lift up our heads. Advent bells are ringing. The sound of the bells on our High Priest's robe may be heard as he comes forth to bless. Hallelujah! "The kingdom shall be the Lord's." - A.C.T.
VI. LET US BE GLAD. We ought to rejoice. We ought to lift up our heads. Advent bells are ringing. The sound of the bells on our High Priest's robe may be heard as he comes forth to bless. Hallelujah! "The kingdom shall be the Lord's." - A.C.T.