I will go before you, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass…
These figures indicate the removal of all obstacles and hindrances out of the way of him who is called of God, entrusted with some particular work for God, and helped of God in the doing of that work. Historical illustration is found in the fact, as stated by the older writers, that in some unaccountable way the river-gates of Babylon were found open on the approach of Cyrus; or, as stated on the authority of the monuments, that the city capitulated, as a consequence of the defeat of Nabonidus in the field. Professor Sayce says, "Another fact of an equally revolutionary kind, which the inscriptions teach us, is that Babylon was not besieged and taken by Cyrus. It opened its gates to his general long before he came near it, and needed neither fighting nor battle for its occupation." Grote, in his 'History of Greece,' says, "The way in which the city was treated would lead us to suppose that its acquisition cannot have cost the conqueror either much time or much loss... it is certain that the vast walls and gates were left untouched." The assurances of the text arc even better fulfilled by moving obstacles out of the way, than by Cyrus actually mastering them. Herodotus tells us that Babylon had a hundred gates of brass, with posts and hooks of the same metal.
I. OBSTACLES IN THE WAY SHOULD BE NO HINDRANCE TO US. There is hardly anything worth doing in life that is not difficult to do. The difference between men is seen in their attitude in face of difficulties. Illustrate by the position of Israel before the Red Sea. It was a brave thing for Moses to command Israel to "go forward;" but it was a type of the right attitude for us always to take when the way seems obstructed. "I cannot" must give place to "I will, God helping me."
II. THE ONE THING TO SEEK IS THE ASSURANCE THAT WE ARE DOING GOD'S WILL. This distinguishes the good man from the mere man of energy. The Cyrus here referred to was raised up by God, and entrusted with a particular work. But it is true that still God calls individuals to special service. He makes plain to them his will And our first anxiety should be to be sure that we are where he has set us, and are doing just what he would have us do. Once let these things be settled, and oppositions and hindrances count for nothing. We want more faith in Divine providence, in the inward inspirations and outward directings of God. Where he sets us we must bear, conquer, and do.
III. WAYS ALWAYS OPEN BEFORE THE OBEDIENT, RESOLUTE. TRUSTFUL MAN. Firmness, moral courage, persistency, and, above all, real faith in God, compel difficulties to yield. They are always according to the size of the man himself. If he is big with faith, they grow small; if he is little with fears, they grow big. Obstacles are searching tests of character. Men of faith are like the mountain streams that make their way down amid the rocks; if they cannot get over the rocks, they go round them, but they will not be stopped. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron: