And the heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the middle of them for ever more.
I. WE SHALL VIEW IT AS THE HOLY SPIRIT'S WORK TO "SANCTIFY ISRAEL." He gives a new, another, a spiritual life, yea, His own life, to sinners who were dead in trespasses and in sins. That is the religion of the Bible. That sanctification which becomes conspicuous and visible is the giving of life Divine, life spiritual, and into the soul of a sinner dead in trespasses and in sins. "You hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins." The Apostle John puts it in another form, and says to his brethren who were regenerated by the power of the Holy Ghost, "We are of God" — that is, we have a life obtained from God — "we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness." The Son of God Himself speaks of it in the third chapter of the Gospel of St. John as a "new birth"; and what is that but participation in a new, another nature? "I, Jehovah, do sanctify Israel." Let me here glance at the identity of the covenant seed in this grand operation of grace. Wherever the Holy Ghost implants spiritual life, that soul is identified, at once, as an Israelite. "The heathen shall know that I, the Lord, do sanctify Israel." And who are Israel? The seed of a covenant Head; a ransomed people; an emancipated people; a peculiar people. Oh! the vast importance of this distinction. I would to God that it were kept up and maintained among the followers of the Lamb. What is the first feature of their peculiarity? They are circumcised in heart, and love God, and are distinguished from the Egyptians. Light is in their dwellings, when all else is dark and dead. Look well to this point. Am I really sanctified by the Holy Ghost, set apart from the world, and made partaker of the Divine nature? Then am I Christ's offspring. Then am I separated from the world for Him; redeemed by His precious blood; brought out of Egyptian bondage, and cannot live under the taskmasters and under the yoke any longer. Then am I made to serve Jehovah, and worship Him "in spirit and in truth." Think of our daily and hourly dependence. Think of the matter of fact, that we cannot advance a step in the Divine life, that we cannot claim a promise even, or enjoy it, that we cannot surmount a difficulty, that we cannot meet an enemy, that we cannot sustain a trial, without communications of grace from on high. And therefore, says the apostle, when referring to Him in whom all is treasured up, "Of His fulness have all we received, and grace for grace." Do not attempt to satisfy me, do not attempt to satisfy yourselves with a lazy religion. All God's sanctified ones are employed; for He says to every one of them, "Son, go work in My vineyard today." Don't stop till tomorrow. Go every day. The believing family of God are called upon to glorify Him "with their bodies and spirits," because their bodies and spirits are the Lord's. O God! employ Thy sanctified ones, and let every child of Thine be active and vigilant in extending the triumphs of the Cross! Do not tell me that you are incapable of doing anything. That is one of Satan's falsehoods and artifices to allure you to indulge in laziness. Do not tell me that you have no talent. I can receive none of these excuses. All God's sanctified ones have at least something to do in His vineyard for the glorifying of His name. And I would have them take a lesson from one of our old martyrs, picked up from the lowest walk of life, illiterate, and without a penny which he could call his own; and who. when brought before a Roman pro-consul and sneeringly asked, "What can you do for your Christ?" replied, "I cannot preach Him: I have no talent. I cannot support His cause; I have no money: but there are two things which I can do for Him; I can live for Him, and I can die for Him."
II. "THE HEATHEN SHALL KNOW THAT I, JEHOVAH, DO SANCTIFY ISRAEL." The heathen shall know! What, do you mean to send all out as missionaries to foreign lands and barbarous tribes, to make known what God has done for our souls? I do not think, at any rate at present, that all should be employed thus, for you need not go out of England, or out of London, to find vast numbers of heathens. Now we would here come again to the subject of decision. Say, how is it with you? With a life so superior, with a dignity so supernatural, with prospects so bright, at an expense so vast as the atoning blood of Christ — will you degrade yourselves — will you suffer the heathen to triumph over you? Oh, to be able daily and hourly to put on the Lord Jesus Christ, that His likeness, His image, His mind, His Spirit may be exhibited by us, whilst we seek no provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. This is the way to make it known, that the heathen shall know and see the contrast. Not a few worldlings, whom I have thus set down as heathens, have been brought to acknowledge that there is something very singular, something very strange, something very mysterious, which they cannot fathom, in the Christianity which we possess. They cannot discover what that something is; and they never will until God gives it to them; it is His to bestow. And this brings me to dwell for a moment on the absolute sovereignty of the grace which imparts it. "I, Jehovah, do it." Oh, how I wish that I could be more familiar with His doings, and jealous about my own I Oh, how I wish that every spiritual act that a believer is able to perform, might be instantly traced, as the apostle did his, to the hand of God! Oh, the blessedness of subscribing to that article of the apostle's creed, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above," etc. Then, having laid the foundation in absolute sovereignty, see how he goes on in the next verse to describe its operations: — "Of His own will begat He us" — not man's proud free-will — "of His own will begat He us, by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of His creatures." Oh, the vast importance of having this distinction between us and the heathens, and the preservation of that distinction as the work of God — an act of the operation of His absolute power! "I, the Lord, will do it, and the heathen shall know it." Now here is a glorious distinction — that the heathen shall know it. They must not only acknowledge that what is done is a good thing, but that it is supernatural and beyond the creature's power; and admit, as the heathen monarch of old did, in the case of the deliverance of Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego, that it is the work of Him whose dwelling is not upon this earth — that it is a supernatural, Divine work. Another point which will be conspicuous to the heathen is, your circumspection; for, when God sanctifies, He makes the recipient of His sanctifying grace very circumspect. The heathen will not see the secret intercourse that is going on in your heart with God. They cannot see the hidden springs of life. They cannot see the secret purpose of predestinating love, from whence all proceeds; but they can see your circumspection. They can see how you walk; they can see what spirit, and mind, and temper you exhibit. They can see whether there is anything about you — in your whole conduct and deportment — which gives the lie to your profession; and they will not be backward in talking about it. They discover it in a moment. Oh, how important, therefore, is that solemn advice of the apostle! — "Be ye therefore holy, even as he who hath called you is holy." One point more: it relates to the experimental enjoyment — which sanctifying grace imparts when we stand before the heathen as a distinguished people, and the heathen shall know it.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.