So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun…
Cheyne's translation is, "For he shall come like a rushing stream, which the breath of Jehovah driveth." The prophet regards the impending deliverance of the Jews as an act in the great drama of the world-judgment. Henderson translates, "The breath of Jehovah shall raise a standard against him;" and he treats the passage as prophetic of the resistance offered to the evil schemes of the enemies of the gospel. Probably the historical figure in the mind of the prophet, which gave the form to his expression, was the check given to Sennacherib, in his schemes against Jerusalem, by the plague-breath of Jehovah, which destroyed his host. Cheyne's translation is supported by the Revised Version, and the person referred to appears to be Cyrus, the deliverer, regarded as urged to his work by Jehovah. These two historical references suggest different ways of applying the figure.
I. THE FIGURE OF JEHOVAH'S BREATH. The same Hebrew word means "breath," "wind," "spirit." Distinguish between the anthropomorphic figures of the Lord's hand or arm, and the anthropopathie figures of the Lord's "anger" or "repentance." Distinguish between the "arm" or "hand," which indicates God's active working in the sphere of things, and his "breath," as his secret working on the springs of life and motive. Sometime God works openly, and all can see his doings. But even more frequently he silently works at the heart of things, and only men of faith can trace his doings.
II. THE FIGURE OF THE BREATH AS A RESISTANCE. Take the allusion to Sennacherib as illustration. Show how in life we constantly meet with difficulties that seem insoluble, and enemies that cannot be overcome. And yet presently the difficulties go out of the way, and the enemies can proceed no further. There are no evident reasons for these things, in any circumstances that we can observe. All that we can say is, "The Spirit of the Lord has lifted up a standard against them." Further illustrate from the way in which the plans of the Apostle Paul and his companions were blocked. "They assayed to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit suffered them not. We seldom feel as we ought how graciously God helps us by shutting doors which we fain would enter.
III. THE FIGURE OF THE BREATH AS AN IMPULSE. Take the allusion to Cyrus; and further illustrate from the impulse given to Philip to go and join the eunuch of Queen Candace. Open souls are ready and willing to be moved by the indwelling breath or spirit. Such open souls surely prove what it is to be led into all truth, strengthened for all duty, and sanctified through all fellowships. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.