The Return of God's Absent Ones
Isaiah 27:12, 13
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall beat off from the channel of the river to the stream of Egypt…

In the relation of God to his people in exile, as depicted in these two verses, we may find a picture of the relation in which he stands to all his absent children.

I. THE BREADTH OF HIS KINGDOM: the broad fields of the husbandman, in which he might "beat off" fruit, from the far river in the East to the far river in the West - from end to end of the known earth. God's rights and claims extend to all peoples, to all classes, to men of every character and every temperament and every tongue, to both sexes; his empire, like his commandment, is "exceeding broad." He looks everywhere for fruit to be beaten off, to be gathered in, at the time of harvest.

II. THE NEED OF HIS INTERPOSITION. This fruit which God is seeking is spiritual; it is the reverence, the love, the worship, the obedience, of his own children. But these his sons and daughters are:

1. Afar off. They are outcasts, a long way from home. It is not geographical, but moral and spiritual distance which has to be deplored. They are in the "strange land" of doubt, of denial, of disobedience, of indifference and forgetfulness, of utter unlikeness to the heavenly Father.

2. Or they are at the point of extinction. "Ready to perish." Those who have not "bowed the knee to Baal, "who have not been fascinated and won by ruinous seductions, are a mere remnant, and even their life, like Elijah's, is at stake. Everything cries for God's merciful interposition.'

III. HIS SUMMONS TO RETURN. The "great trumpet" is being blown; its notes are sounding far and wide. "The voice of Jesus sounds o'er land and sea," saying, "Return unto thy Rest;" "Come unto me, all ye that labor." From the "far country" of sin, of folly, of selfishness, of unrest, the summons calls all human hearts to leave behind them their sin, their misery, their bondage, and to cast themselves at the feet of the Divine Father, and beg to be taken back into that holy service which is perfect freedom.

IV. HIS DISTINGUISHING KINDNESS. "Ye shall be gathered one by one." God does not content himself with issuing a general proclamation which each man may interpret and apply. He comes to every human soul himself. In the Person, and by the direct influence, of his Holy Spirit, he makes his appeal to the individual heart and conscience. He says, "Come thou, my child." "Return thou, my daughter." "My son, give me thy heart."

V. THE GATHERING-PLACE OF HIS RETURNED ONES. "Ye shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem." All they who return unto God

(1) gather at his house on earth for worship there; and

(2) meet in the heavenly city, the new Jerusalem, for "nobler worship there." - C.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall beat off from the channel of the river unto the stream of Egypt, and ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel.

WEB: It will happen in that day, that Yahweh will thresh from the flowing stream of the Euphrates to the brook of Egypt; and you will be gathered one by one, children of Israel.

The One-By-One Principle
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