A remnant will return, a remnant of Jacob, to the Mighty God.
I. THAT THOSE WHO KNOW GOD WELL MAY BE INDUCED TO FORSAKE HIM. Israel had been well taught of God; had been carefully and constantly instructed in Divine truth; had received some lessons which might well have been deeply planted in the mind. Yet Israel forsook Jehovah; ceased to trust in his delivering arm, and sought alliance with Assyria. So we, who should know much better, forsake the Lord, of whose power, faithfulness, and love we have learned so much. Instead of finding our joy and our heritage in his service and friendship, we resort to the fascinations of a seductive world; instead of relying on his promised succor, we have recourse to human help or to material securities.
II. THAT EVERY EARTHLY REFUGE PROVES TO BE PRECARIOUS. Resting on Assyria, Israel was only "staying upon him that smote them." The staff on which they leaned proved to be a rod that bruised them. So has it been, again and again, with national and political alliances. So is it with our individual confidences in earth rather than in heaven. The material securities fail us; the ship sinks, the bank breaks, the mine is exhausted, the company is defrauded and has to be wound up, trade declines, and our earthly prop is gone. The human help we built upon disappears; our friend sickens, or he is killed in the fatal accident, or he is himself stripped and helpless, or he is estranged from us and discards us. Our hope becomes our disappointment, our pride becomes our shame; we have been staying on that which smites us (see Jeremiah 17:5; Psalm 118:6-9; Isaiah 31:1).
III. THAT GOD AWAITS THE RETURN OF HIS PEOPLE TO HIMSELF. "They shall stay upon the Lord;" "The remnant shall return unto the mighty God" (vers. 20, 21). Not only was God not unwilling that his people should return unto him, but he sent them their adversity in order that they might see their folly and incline their hearts unto himself.
1. God is grieved at our departure from himself, but he is willing to welcome us back.
2. He sends the adversity which is suggestive of our return. When the dark hour comes, when the soul sits desolate, when our heart is wounded by the very hand which we hoped would help and heal us, in that day may we hear the voice of the Father we have forsaken, calling to us and saying, "Return unto me;" "I will heal your backslidings, I will love you freely." - C.
The remnant shall return.
(Prof. J. Skinner, D. D.)
I. WHAT IS SAID OF THEIR FORMER ERROR. When it is said that they "shall no more stay upon him that smote them," it surely implies that they had done this before: this was their error.
1. They had exercised an improper dependence.
2. Their dependence had been disappointed.
3. Their folly was to be corrected by their Sovereign.
II. WHAT IS SAID OF THEIR RENEWED EXPERIENCE. "Shall stay upon the Lord," etc.
1. It is an enlightened confidence. It is foolish to trust without inquiry, and to refuse to trust the trustworthy.
2. Their confidence is very extensive. It covers all times; all events that can awaken our anxiety; all that appertains to life and godliness, etc.
3. It is a blessed confidence.
III. THE REALITY OF THEIR CHANGE. "In truth." That is the important thing. This confidence is distinguishable —
1. From mere pretensions.
2. From imaginary confidence.
Nye's Anecdote.The four seasons once determined to try which could quickest reach the heart of a stone. Spring coaxed the stone with its gentle breezes, and made flowers encircle it, and trees to shoot out their branches and embower it, but all to no purpose. The stone remained indifferent to the beauties of the spring, nor would it yield its heart to its gentle caresses. Summer came next, and caused the sun to shine on the stone, hoping to melt its obdurate heart; but though the surface of the stone grew warm it quickly became cold again when not under the influence of the summer sun's rays. Summer thus being unable by any degree of warmth to penetrate the flinty nature of the stone, gave place to autumn. Believing that the stone had been treated with too much kindness, the autumn withered the flowers and stripped the trees of their leaves and threatened and blustered; but still the stone remained impassive. Winter came next. First it sent strong winds which laid the stone bare; then it sent a cold rain, and next a sharp frost, which cleaved the stone and laid hare its heart. So many a heart which neither gentleness, warmth, nor threats can touch is reached by adversity.
I. THE CONVERSION OF SOME, to whom this providence should be sanctified, and yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness, though for the present it was not joyous but grievous. This remnant of Israel is said to be such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, such as escaped the corruptions of the house of Jacob, and kept their integrity in times of common apostasy. Therefore they escape the desolations of that house.
1. This remnant shall come off from all confidence in an arm of flesh; this providence shall cure them of that; they "shall no more again stay upon him that smote them." "Sufferings teach caution." They have learned, by dear-bought experience, the folly of leaning upon that staff as a stay to them which my perhaps prove a staff to beat them (Hosea 14:3).
2. They shall come home to God, to the Mighty God, one of the names given to the Messiah (Isaiah 9:6), to the Holy One of Israel. They shall return to God and shall stay upon Him. Those only may with comfort stay upon God that return to Him.
II. THE CONSUMPTION OF OTHERS. They shall be wasted away by this general decay in the midst of the land. Observe —
1. It is a consumption of God's own making.
2. It is decreed, not the product of a sudden resolve. It is particularly appointed how far it shall extend, how long it shall continue, who shall be consumed by it and who not.
3. It is an overflowing consumption, that shall overspread the land, and like a mighty torrent or inundation, bear down all before it.
4. Though it overflows, it is not at random, but in righteousness.
( Matthew Henry.)
1. Those who are broken in health, and are utterly turned away, by that reason, from all that they sought. They count as ciphers. The only thing they seem to be good for is to serve as memorials of a mother's patience, of a sister's goodness, or of a wife's fidelity. How many men are like a man-of-war, that is staunchly built of the best material, but that on its first voyage is so handled by the winds and waves that it becomes unmanageable, and makes haste to come to port again, and anchors at the navy yard, and is an old receiving hulk for the rest of its days!
2. Then, how many remnants there are in society on account of the misapplication of their powers and their utter failure therefrom. How many second and third-rate men there are who undertake to perform functions which require the exercise of the faculties in their best estate.
3. Then there are remnants from the overtaxing of men who are adapted to their work, but have not the endurance which their circumstances require. There are some men who, when they break down, are like those who ride in low waggons, and who if the waggon breaks do not fall far, but can get up and mend it, and go on; but there are other men who when they break down are like those who cross a dark chasm on a high bridge, and who, if the bridge break, fall a great distance into the stream below, and have no power to get backs, and repair the damage and proceed on their journey.
4. A great many more persons break down from a secret mismanagement of themselves. I see men who use more wind to waft a cookie boat across a pond than would be required to carry a man-of-war across the sea.
5. Besides these, who are perpetually breaking down and falling in the rear, are those who violate the laws of society; who are detected, and convicted, and branded with shame. I think the most piteous thing in the world is to see a man, no worse than we are, who, under the influence of company, or through temptation, has committed s great wrong, and has been branded by society. His life is not worth anything after that. For the laws of society are like the laws of a fort, which when a man is inside defend him against all attack, but which when he is outside open all the artillery of the fort upon him if he attempts to get back. Many men have a conscience under a prison jacket. God judges with the justice of love, and not with the injustice of hatred. To all those who are cast down and suffering, I say, There is a God that is sorry for you. Beware, then, of desperation. If you have failed for this life, do not fail for the other too. There is very much that my yet be done, even in the afternoon and twilight of men's lives, if they are hopeful and active.
(H. W. Beecher.)
(H. W. Beecher.)
(H. W. Beecher.)
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