Come near, ye nations, to hear; and hearken, ye people: let the earth hear, and all that is therein; the world, and all things that come forth of it.
The text draws back the curtain which separates the visible world from the invisible. It reveals celestial regions, in which there are also great struggles going on. It lifts up our eyes to the grander movements of the world of spirits; and then it declares that the sword which is to be used in fighting what seems to be the petty wars of the Hebrews and the Edomites, is the same sword which has been used in these celestial conflicts; that the means and instruments of righteousness upon the earth must be the same with the means and instruments of righteousness in the heavens.
I. All good struggle in the world is really God's battle, and ought to recognise itself as such. Every special victory of human progress—the victory over slavery, the victory over superstition, the victory over social wrong, nay even the victory over tough matter, the subduing of the hard stuff of nature to spiritual uses,—each of these is but a step in the great onward march of God taking possession of His own. Fight your battle with the sword bathed in heaven; so you shall make it victorious, and grow strong and great yourself in fighting it.
II. One of the most marvellous things about Jesus is the union of fire and patience. He saw His Father's house turned into a place of merchandise, and instantly the whip of small cords was in His hands, and He was cleansing the sacred place with His impassioned indignation. And yet He walked day after day through the streets of Jerusalem, and saw the sin, and let the sinners sin on with only the remonstrance of His pure presence and His pitying gaze. Only in God's own time and in God's own way can the battles of the Lord be fought. There is no self-will in Jesus. He is one with His Father, and lives by His Father's will. His sword was always bathed in heaven.
III. The battle which goes on within ourselves is God's battle, and is of supreme importance. If the battle be God's battle, it must be fought only with God's weapons. You want to get rid of your selfishness. You must not kill it with the sword of another selfishness, which thenceforth shall rule in its place. Selfishness can only be cast out by self-forgetfulness and consecration. To count sin God's enemy, and to fight it with all His purity and strength, that is what it means for us that our sword should be bathed in heaven.
Phillips Brooks, Twenty Sermons, p. 262.
References: Isaiah 35:1, Isaiah 35:2.—G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 275. Isaiah 35:3.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. v., No. 243. Isaiah 35:4.—D. Moore, Penny Pulpit, No. 3169; W. M. Taylor, Old Testament Outlines, p. 196. Isaiah 35:5, Isaiah 35:6.—W. Hubbard, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xvi., p. 232; J. Keble, Sermons from Advent to Christmas Eve, p. 90.
For the indignation of the LORD is upon all nations, and his fury upon all their armies: he hath utterly destroyed them, he hath delivered them to the slaughter.
Their slain also shall be cast out, and their stink shall come up out of their carcases, and the mountains shall be melted with their blood.
And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree.
For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment.
The sword of the LORD is filled with blood, it is made fat with fatness, and with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams: for the LORD hath a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea.
And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness.
For it is the day of the LORD'S vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion.
And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch.
It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever.
But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it: and he shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness.
They shall call the nobles thereof to the kingdom, but none shall be there, and all her princes shall be nothing.
And thorns shall come up in her palaces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof: and it shall be an habitation of dragons, and a court for owls.
The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of the island, and the satyr shall cry to his fellow; the screech owl also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest.
There shall the great owl make her nest, and lay, and hatch, and gather under her shadow: there shall the vultures also be gathered, every one with her mate.
Seek ye out of the book of the LORD, and read: no one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate: for my mouth it hath commanded, and his spirit it hath gathered them.
And he hath cast the lot for them, and his hand hath divided it unto them by line: they shall possess it for ever, from generation to generation shall they dwell therein.