The word of the LORD came again to me, saying,…
It is clear that this series of prophecies had, at least, a twofold meaning. These predictions pointed to beneficial changes near, visible, temporal; they pointed also to grandee events more distant, more spiritual. The fulfillment of prophecy was also another prophecy. The immediate performance of God's promise was a type of larger performance. As each harvest is a prophecy of the next, so one fulfillment of God's covenant symbolizes a fulfillment on a larger and nobler scale. Time is a picture of eternity. What was really good in the past shall reappear in the future. Israel's passage through the Red Sea was a symbol of later deliverances. The royal life of David shall be reproduced. As the secret principle of David's power and David's prosperity was that he ruled by a spirit of love, which knit the people in unity; so David shall be the emblem of Messiah's person, and Messiah's gentle sway. The passage now under consideration refuses to be confined within a local application; it embraces the renovated race and the immortal King. To make this announcement the more impressive, it was attended by a significant action. It is a prophecy both spoken and acted. It was an ancient custom, prevalent still in the East, to write on fiat sticks, and these were sometimes tied together after the simplest fashion of a book. Discord and division had been the first step in Israel's retrogression and fall. Internal strife prepared the way for invasion and defeat. Now, reunion is a necessary step to the fulfillment of the Divine promise - the first step towards a new national life.
I. REAL UNION CAN ONLY BE EFFECTED BY INWARD RENOVATION. Hence the gracious promise is repeated, "I will save them out of their dwelling-places wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them." This truth must be repeated times without number. So long as rebellion against God occupies the heart, so long there will be strife and hatred between man and man. Infidelity has always been hostile to society. But as men get nearer to God as their Center, the circumference diminishes, and they get nearer to each other. The uprooting of selfishness from the human heart is the removal of discord and war. If the fountain be made pure, pure will be the streams. Sin separates. Piety unites. After the descent of the Spirit at Pentecost, men were fused in brotherhood, and did not even count their goods their own. New-felt love swallowed up every other sentiment. "They had all things common."
II. UNION AMONG THE PEOPLE IS CEMENTED BY ALLEGIANCE TO ONE KING. "David my servant shall be King over them, and they all shall have one Shepherd." The rivalry of opposing kings in Rehoboam's day had been the root of endless mischief. "Like king, like people." This new Monarch has such incomparable claims that a rival is out of the question. His august worth will win from his subjects intense loyalty and love; and in proportion to their intense love for him there will develop attachment to each other. In his pure presence mutual suspicion and distrust hide away abashed. It is a part of his royal mission to foster all right sympathies. To be like their King is the high ambition of each. To serve and please their King is the common purpose of every true Israelite. To love one another is but another form of loving him.
III. UNION IS FOSTERED BY DOING GOD'S WILL. "They shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes." They that walk in the same road usually become good companions. And these new subjects of Messiah delight in these paths. They speak to each other of their joy. They delight to encourage each other to surmount such obstacles as appear, and to press on in the royal way. Their understandings being divinely illumined, they see such excellence in God's will that their wills become conformed to his. So, in becoming conformed to God's will, they become like each other. Among the children a common likeness appears. Fellow-soldiers on the same battle* field become fast friends. Common service and exposure to common dangers form a strong bond of union. In serving God we also serve one another.
IV. UNION SECURES GOD'S NEARER PRESENCE. "I will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore." If men feel that it is" good for brethren to dwell together in unity," God feels it still more to be both "good and pleasant." Our God is a God of order. Amid scenes of discord he will not abide. If men prefer his foe-the fomenter of hatreds - he will depart. But where true unity of spirit reins among men God will nearer come, wilt take up his abode, will make an everlasting covenant with them; his sanctuary is the sign of union and the security for union. Then the channel is open for the highest good to descend. God will become, in every practical respect, their God. His light shall be their light, his strength shall be their strength, his purity shall become their purity, his joy shall become theirs. God's fullness shall replenish their emptiness.
V. UNION IN THE TRUE ISRAEL SHALL PRODUCE A SALUTARY EFFECT UPON WORLD. "The heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel." Here is the germ of the truth which was fully expanded in the intercessory prayer of Christ, "That they all may be one, that the world may believe that thou didst send me." It is little short of a miracle that the kingdom of our Lord should be maintained, much less grow, when so much division exists. That man contracts no light sin who uses his influence in keeping Christians apart. Real schism is a monstrous sin. And when the purity, the piety, the practical love, of the Church become eminent, these will produce a stupendous impression upon the world without. Holiness which is not austere, holiness expressed in its native form of sterling goodness, has an omnipotent charm which, once seen by men, fascinates all hearts. The love of money and of pleasure will fade and vanish when men discover the superior worth of true righteousness. God's manifest residence in the Church will win the homage of all the nations. "Then shall the heathen know," etc. - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,