The Hopelessness and the Simplicity of Divine Service
Isaiah 40:16-26
And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering.

Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, etc.; "Not one faileth." If we were asked whether it was a very difficult or a very simple thing to serve the Lord, we should say, "It is both the one and the other; everything depends upon the way and the spirit in which we proceed." We learn -

I. THAT MERE QUANTITY OF SERVICE IS VAIN AND FUTILE. "Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor will [all] the beasts thereof suffice for a burnt offering," if the acceptable element in worship be absent. Great hecatombs are heathenish things; they are based on the essentially false idea that God can be enriched by human gifts - "as though he needed anything," as though, "if he were hungry, he would tell us." And all ideas as to quantity in service are erroneous. It is not by "thousands of rams or tens of thousands of rivers of oil," that he is to be placated. It is a hopeless and impossible task which so many set themselves to accomplish - to please and serve the living God by a multitude of services, of celebrations, of privations, of prayers ("much speaking"), of acts of outward benevolence. As all Lebanon with all its beasts would not be sufficient for one acceptable sacrifice, taken of itself and of themselves, so millions of Masses and multitudes of charities, and innumerable acts of service, whether good or bad in themselves, would take a man no nearer to the favour of God and the kingdom of heaven, if there were not present something apart from these things and of more intrinsic excellence than they. Without this last, service is either formal, or superstitious, or selfish; in any case it is worthless.

II. THAT THE SMALLEST SERVICE RIGHTLY RENDERED IS EFFECTUAL WITH GOD. Not one of the vast army of the heavenly hosts fails to take its place and exert its influence and do its appointed work in the vast plans of the Creator. Every smallest star gives its light, and helps to keep everything in the sidereal universe in equipoise and in orderly movement. Not one faileth. So may this be true in the great army of Divine worshippers and of Christian workers. With a reverent and a loving spirit, the service of God is the simplest thing in the world.

1. The ejaculation of a moment is an effectual prayer.

2. The gift of two mites is a liberal offering.

3. The cup of cold water will by no means lose its reward.

4. The simple sentence of encouragement to the tired traveller along the road of life, or of comfort to the wounded soldier in the battle of life, or of good cheer to the baffled workman in the Master's vineyard, is eloquent in the ear of the Lord of love.

5. The household duty conscientiously and devoutly discharged will be owned and blessed by him who observes and rewards the "bond and free."

6. The simplest act of magnanimity, rendered in the interchange of our homeliest relations, by which a brother, or sister, or neighbour is frankly forgiven the hard word, or the inconsiderate silence, or the unloving deed, weighs in the scales of him who was the first to say, "Love your enemies." Every soldier among the rank-and-file can serve the Divine Captain. With love in the heart there is no need of Lebanon and its beasts for an altar or a sacrifice. Not one need fail to do, day by day, hour after hour, act after act, that which is well pleasing in the eyes of him "with whom we have to do," whose good. pleasure with us is the gladness of our heart and the music of our life. - C.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering.

WEB: Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor its animals sufficient for a burnt offering.

God's Independence
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