Yet the number of the Israelites will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, 'You are not My people,' they will be called 'sons of the living God.'
I. THE LIGHT HERE CAST UPON THE NATURE AND CHARACTER OF THE SUPREME. It is a gospel needed by our age as much as by any that has ever existed - the tidings that the living God is the Father of the sons of men.
1. He is the living God; neither an abstraction nor a law, nor a Being uninterested in his works or indifferent to the fate of his spiritual creation.
2. He is the Father; which is something more, for it denotes his personal regard, his affectionate disposition, his benignant and bountiful care. To take any lower view than this of the Divine Being is to go back from the enlightened teaching of revelation to the effete and degraded paganism of the past.
II. THE LIGHT HERE CAST UPON THE CALLING AND DESTINY OF MAN.
1. Here is witness to our spiritual nature. This language could not be applied to the irrational and, unmoral brutes. Only man, among the inhabitants of earth, is capable of the dignity and blessedness involved in Divine sonship.
2. Here is witness to the transforming power of religion. The context shows that sinners have forfeited all claim to a hallowed relationship such as is here described, with its privileges and immunities. The grace of God, especially as revealed in the gospel of Christ, secures adoption. Christians are "children of God by faith in Christ Jesus;" they have "received the Spirit of adoption."
3. Here is witness to the duties of the new and spiritual life. What dignity clothes the sons of the living God! What relationships, what prospects, what services, are theirs! Surely it is obvious that those so honored are summoned, and are bound, to cherish filial sentiments, to render filial obedience, to offer filial devotion. A holy Father looks for holy sons. - T.
His nature, although not by nature; not united with us (as it is personally, with His Son), but dwelling in us, and making us partakers of the Divine nature. Sons of the living God must be living by Him and to Him, by His life, yea, through Himself living in them.
There it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.I. A PROMISE OF MERCY TO ISRAEL.
1. The Lord in judgment remembers mercy. When God threatens most dreadfully, yet He promises most graciously.
2. It is usual when we are in prosperity to forget all threaten. ings, and when we are in adversity to forget all promises.
3. God in the midst of His auger, knows those that trust in Him.
4. Not only when God threatens judgments, but when judgments are actually upon us, let us sanctify God's name in looking up to the promises.
II. TO WHOM DID THIS PROMISE REFER? It was not a promise to any that then lived, it was to be fulfilled in future ages; yet it is introduced by the prophet as a comfort to the people of God then living. Gracious hearts are comforted with the promises of God made to the Church, though not to be fulfilled in their days.
III. WHAT WAS THIS PROMISE? That Israel-should be a multitude. The Lord remembers His promises, though made a long time since, so long ago as the time of Abraham. Observe —
1. There is nothing lost in being willing, as Abraham was, to lose for God.
2. When we are willing to lose for God, then is the time when God will renew and confirm His covenant with us. Note —(1) God has a time to bring in abundance of people to the profession of the faith.(2) Although God defers fulfilling His promise for a time, yet at last He does it gloriously.(3) We should greatly rejoice in multitudes joining the Church.
Homilist.We shall take Israel for mankind, and use the text to illustrate the destiny of the race.
I. The race is destined to an INDEFINITE INCREASE in the number of good men. "The number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered or measured." The good, the spiritual Israel, have been comparatively few in all ages, though perhaps there is a larger number now than in any preceding period. But the time will come when they shall be innumerable. What mean such passages as these? "He shall have dominion item sea to sea, from the rivers to the end of the earth." Again, "All kings shall fall down before Him." Again, "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and His Christ." Numerous as the sand on the sea shore! A Jewish Rabbi regards the good as the sand, not only in relation to number, but for usefulness. As the sand keeps the sea from breaking in and drowning the world, so the saints keep the world from being drowned by the waves of eternal retribution. This is true. Were it not for the good the world would not stand long. But it is to represent number not protection, that the figure is employed. Do you say that to all appearances such an increase is impossible? When God promised to Abraham that his seed should be as the stars of heaven and the sand upon the shore, what could seem more improbable than the fulfilment? Do not judge from appearances. Trust God's Word; it will come to pass. There is a glorious future for the world.
II. The race is destined to a TRANSCENDENT PRIVILEGE. "And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not My people, there shall it be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God."
1. They are destined to a general conversion to God. From not being His people they are to become His people. The places of the earth now populated with the enemies of God will one day be crowded with His friends.
2. They are destined to a general adoption into the family of God. "Ye are the sons of the living God." They shall be endowed and animated with the true Spirit, the spirit of reverence and adoring love. "The living God." The world has abounded with dead gods; there is but one "living" God.
III. The race is destined to a COMMON LEADERSHIP.
1. This leadership shall unite the most hostile. "Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together." Great and long enduring was the hostility existing between these people. The time will come when all antipathies existing amongst peoples shall be destroyed. "Ephraim shall not envy Judah: they shall be of one heart and one mind."
2. This leadership shall be by common appointment. They shall "appoint themselves one head." Their leader will not be forced upon them contrary to their consent, nor will He force Himself. Who is the leader? Christ. He is the Leader of the people. He is the Commander-in-Chief, the Captain of our salvation. All shall unite in Him.
3. This leadership will be glorious. As Moses led the Jews out of the wilderness, as Cyrus delivered them from Babylon, Christ will lead them out of Egyptian darkness and Babylonian corruption.
(E. B. Pusey, D. D.)
(A. J. Gordon, D. D.)
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