They will neither harm nor destroy on all My holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the sea is full of water.
I. PROPHETIC SCRIPTURES SET FORTH A PERFECT BEING, AN IDEAL KING. Men have always been on the outlook for a glorious future - "a good time coming." But poetic imagery has been vague, and generalization has meant weakness. Bible prophecy sets before us:
1. A Person - a Son; and the actual incidents of his life, as a veritable human being, are foretold.
2. A perfect Person. Observe the statements of this chapter, and the idea that was formed of Messiah.
3. A Person with kingly authority. If he be a perfect man, he must be a king among men. This kingly idea was set forth
(1) in the theocracy founded by Moses;
(2) in David's reign;
(3) in Daniel's vision.
In the times of Jewish captivity the promise of such a leader and deliverer was needed to keep men from utter despair. The conception of a perfect person is as utterly beyond us as the conception of a perfect age. Before Christ came neither had been realized. Now one has. The perfect Person has come, and we have a right to say that "with God all things are possible," seeing that the one so-called impossible has been overcome. The historical Christ is the realization of what men thought to be the impossible.
II. PROPHETIC SCRIPTURES SET BEFORE US A PERFECT AGE, AN IDEAL KINGDOM. Observe the figures of the chapter; and such expressions as "He shall have dominion also from sea to sea," and Daniel 7:13, 14. Poetry has its "golden age," for the most part, in the past. Scripture has it in the future. Towards it we are moving. For it we are working. In olden time men failed in faith that the perfect King would come, and now we fail in faith that the perfect kingdom will ever come, because we cannot quite explain the when, the how, and the why. It may be said - Have we any seemingly good reasons for our failing faith? And it may be urged that
(1) the golden age has never yet been reached in part, anywhere;
(2) there are no signs of its nearing approach; and
(3) we cannot clearly mark even our own growing meetness for it.
The perfect age has scarcely even a faint beginning in us. But who can discern victory through the smoke of battle? And yet the victory may, in effect, be won. With cleared eyesight we might see many hopeful signs; such as these:
1. The King has come, and is conflicting for his rights.
2. The perfect kingdom is sometimes nearly reached by the saintly believers.
3. In limited measure it is realized in the Church of Christ.
4. In its wider form, as a kingdom of righteousness, it is extending over all the earth. And if God could give the world the perfect King, he can also give the perfect age. The practical question is - What are we doing to hurry its on-coming? The world's hope lies in the spreading of the knowledge of the Lord. Everywhere the heralds must go until the earth is full, as full as the sea-basin is with the waters. We must, for ourselves, know the Lord, and we must speak of him, and witness concerning him, to others; for every act of godly living and godly laboring is bringing near the "golden year." - R.T.
I. THE PACIFIC SPIRIT THAT SHALL BE IN THE WORLD IN MESSIAH'S REIGN.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain.
Homilist.Poets have sung of a golden age, saints have prayed for one, the Bible distinctly teaches that one will come. This passage gives us the characteristics of this "good time coming."
I. THE WHOLE EARTH SHALL BE THE SPIRITUAL REALISATION OF WHAT MOUNT ZION WAS BUT THE SYMBOL. What were the great ideas that Mount Zion of old symbolised They were especially two —
1. Man's meeting place with God.
2. Entire consecration to worship. It was for worship and worship only. These ideas will be fully realised in the last days. The whole earth will be man's meeting place with God, the Shechinah will gleam everywhere, light up every social circle, radiate from every institution, etc. Every spot, too, will be sacred to worship. Man will worship in everything, handicraft, commerce, politics, literature.
II. THE WHOLE EARTH SHALL BE FREED FROM INJUSTICE AND VIOLENCE. "They shall not hurt nor destroy."
1. They shall not hurt. They shall not hurt by any unkind word, or any ungenerous deed, by any species of mean conduct. Exquisite delicacy of conduct shall distinguish all. Every man shall deal with his fellow with the loving tenderness of a brother.
2. They shall not destroy. They shall not destroy the property, the reputation, or the life. There shall be no wars.
III. THE WHOLE EARTH SHALL BE FLOODED WITH CHRISTIANITY. "As the waters cover the sea." Full as the waters roll through the channels of the Mediterranean, will Christianity roll through every district of human life. But whilst this universal diffusion of Christianity is a characteristic of the golden age, the text suggests that it is the instrumental cause. We infer —
1. That Christianity is essentially pacific.
2. That every philanthropist should use Christianity as his grand instrument. There is no other panacea for the world's woes.
II. THE CAUSE OF ITS UNIVERSAL PREVALENCE. The knowledge with which the world will be filled.
(J. Summerfield, M. A.)
For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord.1. The declaration of the word before us has never yet been fulfilled.
2. God is now about speedily to fulfil it.
I. We shall open the whole chapter which contains our text, in order to explain WHAT THE KINGDOM OF CHRIST IS of which it speaks, and we shall bring before you the great events with which the introduction of that kingdom of our Redeemer shall be attended.
1. The chapter commences with a glorious description of the Person and the office of the blessed Redeemer of men.
2. Proceed we now to open unto you the Gospel kingdom of Christ, which is contained in the following portion of the chapter. The design of the figure (vers. 6-9) is to show that in the great day when Christ shall execute His office in a more full and wide extent over the earth there shall be a marvellous concord and union and love among all the children of men by their being brought to worship the one Redeemer, through the one Gospel of His grace and through the sameness of His blessed Spirit.
3. With reference to the expression in our text — "For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" — we have here set before us both the extent of the knowledge of the Lord, which shall characterise this kingdom of our Lord, and the depth of that knowledge also; for both are represented by this similitude of the ocean. We are to believe, therefore, that the knowledge of God which shall then prevail, shall as far surpass, in extent and in depth, the knowledge of every preceding Church state, as the waters of the ocean exceed, in width and profundity, the common lakes in the midst of kingdoms.
4. One great event that shall immediately precede this glorious issue of things shall be the conversion of God's ancient people, the Jews; their gathering from out of all the nations of the earth into the land of their fathers; and, as I believe, their becoming the preachers of the Gospel of Christ to all those nations of the earth, which shall now be converted unto Him. This glorious event is immediately appended, in this chapter, to the description of the Gospel kingdom of the Redeemer (ver. 11, etc.).
5. Another mighty reality which shall accompany the introduction of the coming kingdom of our Lord and Saviour is the destruction of the anti-Christian church (the papacy).
6. The destruction of antichrist.
II. We shall present to your view THE MEANS WHICH YOU MAY THE MOST SAFELY ADOPT FOR INSTRUMENTALLY PROMOTING THE KINGDOM OF OUR ADORABLE REDEEMER amidst the kingdoms of the world.
1. That the millennial blessedness shall consist of an extraordinary degree of spiritual knowledge.
2. That holiness shall prevail to an unexampled extent.
3. That the millennial period will be distinguished by happiness and peace altogether unexampled in any previous period of the history of the Church of Christ.
III. EXHIBIT THE TRIUMPHS OF THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST DURING THE DAYS OF MILLENNIAL BLESSEDNESS.
(A. Fletcher, D. D.)
I. THE IMPORT OF THE PHRASE, "THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE LORD."
1. It implies an acquaintance with the character of the true God.
2. An acquaintance with the plan of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ.
3. An acquaintance with God's will.
II. THE MORAL CERTAINTY THAT THE EARTH SHALL BE FILLED WITH THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE LORD. Reason renders it probable, but revelation declares its certainty.
1. I argue this from a consideration of the nature of the Christian religion. Christianity is a religion of benevolence. It has nothing exclusive in its character. It is designed for man, considered as such, and is adapted to every latitude under heaven. It presents us with a worship which is simple, a faith which is easily understood, ordinances few in number, sacrifices that are unbloody, doctrines and precepts which lead to God, promises which are joy and peace, and hopes which centre in the throne of God! It is reasonable to conclude that God, who is good to all, will not limit blessings of such magnitude and so universally necessary for human happiness, to anyone particular nation or age, but that He will, in His own way and at His own time, extend the benefits of Christianity to the whole family of man.
2. The covenant relation between God and His beloved Son furnishes another guarantee that the prediction will be fulfilled.
3. We ground our hopes on the character of the Saviour as Mediator.
4. Think also of the prophetic record.
III. OUR DUTY AT THE PRESENT TIME IN CONNECTION WITH THE EXTENDING OF THIS KNOWLEDGE. The work is very great. How is it to be accomplished? By the agency of miracles? No. May we expect the Saviour to visit our earth and organise a system for the conversion of the heathen? He has done so already. He has made it our duty to use the means He has appointed.
(John Hill, M. A.)
(H. A. Sullivan, M. A.)
(W. J. Armstrong, D. D.)1. Most exactly have the figures which the Holy Spirit condescended to apply to Himself been fulfilled in the course of the dispensation; nay, even to this day. His operation has been calm, equable, gradual, far-spreading, overtaking, intimate, irresistible. What is so awfully silent, so mighty, so inevitable, so encompassing as a flood of water? Such was the power of the Spirit in the beginning, when He vouchsafed to descend as an invisible wind, as an outpoured flood. Thus He changed the whole face of the world. The ark of God moved upon the face of the waters.
2. And what the power of the Spirit has been in the world at large, that it is also in every human heart to which it comes.(1) Any spirit which professes to come to us alone, and not to others, which makes no claim of having moved the body of the Church at all times and places, is not of God, but a private spirit of error.(2) Vehemence, tumult, confusion, are no attributes of that benignant flood with which God has replenished the earth. That flood of grace is sedate, majestic, gentle in its operation.(3) The Divine baptism, wherewith God visits us, penetrates through our whole soul and body. It leaves no part of us uncleansed, unsanctified. It claims the whole man for God. Any spirit which is content with what is short of this, which does not lead us to utter self-surrender and devotion, is not from God.
3. The heart of every Christian ought to represent in miniature the Catholic Church, since one Spirit makes both the whole Church and every member of it to be His temple. As He makes the Church one, which, left to itself, would separate into many parts, so He makes the soul one, in spite of its various affections and faculties, and its contradictory aims.
(J. H. Newman, D. D.)
1. Completely. There are no gaps or interspaces. The sailor is glad to get out into the open sea. Near the land he is watchful, but when his pathless track lies far from the shore he is more at ease.
2. They cover it, too, abundantly. There is nothing scanty about the sea The average depth, geographers tells us, is about thirteen times the average height of land above sea level.
3. They also cover it helpfully. The waters seem to sever country from country, but, really, they are the best means of bringing far separate lands into communication with each other. What a grand picture, then, is here suggested with regard to the knowledge of God! It will cover the earth completely. All shall know Him from the least to the greatest. It will be an abundant knowledge. As it is, the earth is full of the glory of the Lord. Everywhere, God. The cataract utters forth God. "Every common bush afire with God," but too often we only "sit round it and pick blackberries." It is one thing for God to be everywhere, it is another thing for God to be recognised everywhere. It will also be a helpful knowledge. It will not lead us to make less of this world's duties, but more. As the waters that seem to separate, yet connect all the more closely, remote lands, so the more truly men know God, the better will they know each other, and the grander will seem the duties of the common day. One great blessing resulting from that knowledge is specially mentioned in the chapter — "They shall not hurt nor destroy." It is something one can hardly imagine, that beautiful time when nature shall no more be "red in tooth and claw." It may be but a poetical description of the peace and harmony of the Messiah's kingdom. But there is one part, at least, will be literally true. However it be with regard to the attitude of beasts to men, or to each other, man's attitude to the beasts will be one of thoughtfulness, gentleness, and mercy. It is said that a man's dog should be the better for his Christianity, and so it will. "A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast." And, of course, still more will it be true that man's attitude to his fellow man will be what it ought to be. One of the saddest thoughts in connection with this earth of ours, as it is, is the frightful callousness and unconcern with regard to human life where God, as revealed in Jesus Christ, is not known. Think of a country like Dahomey, where the most prized ornaments are human heads stuck on poles along the highways. The Church of Christ may be far from perfect in our own day, but, at least, it stands for much that is beautiful and helpful among men, and it labours and prays for the fulfilment of its hope that righteousness and peace shall at last e universal. One comprehends that the Church — even the visible building of stone and lime — stands for some measure of realised blessing among men, by even such a simple story as that of the shipwrecked mariners, in doubt as to what sort of coast they had been cast upon, — whether the inhabitants were cannibals, or with some humanity in them, — and whose fears were quite relieved when one of their number, who had climbed a neighbouring hill, came rushing back, shouting, "It's all right. We are safe. I saw a church spire in the distance." The most practical and visible result of the universal knowledge of the Lord will be that men's relationship to each other will be of the happiest and most helpful kind.
(J. S. Maver, M. A.)
(Joseph Parker, D. D.)
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