Your dead will live; their bodies will rise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in the dust! For your dew is like the dew of the morning, and the earth will bring forth her dead.
Isaiah 26:19 (with ver. Isaiah 26:14)reference of both of them to he to the hopes of the Hebrew nation at the time of the prophecy, we have our attention called to -
I. THE ISSUE OF UPRIGHTEOUSNESS - DEATH.
1. It tends to fatal ruin. The tyrants of Babylon, being overthrown, should rise up no more, should never regain their position, were as dead men whose day was hopelessly and irretrievably gone. All unrighteousness tends to the same issue; it leads down to loss, to overthrow, to shame, to a depth of ruin from which there is no recovery. At length the guilty man (party, nation) is down so low that those who look on say, "He (it) is dead; he shall rise no more."
3. It sinks into permanent oblivion. God makes "their memory to perish" (see Psalm 34:16; Proverbs 10:7; Ecclesiastes 8:10). No man cares to remember those whose lives have been disgraced by sin; their names lie unmentioned, and their memory fades from view till it is lost in the thickening shadows of time.
4. It goes down to the death which is eternal. "The wages of sin is death."
II. THE ISSUE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS - REVIVAL. "Thy dead men shall live." God's people who have fallen till they have seemed to be wholly lost shall be recovered and shall reappear. Righteousness is immortal; it cannot be buried and forgotten and lost.
1. It commonly ends in restoration to power and position. Joseph is cast into prison, but he comes out to be the first minister in Egypt. David is driven into the caves, but he comes forth to sit down upon the throne. The persecuted people of God, whether in Babylon, in the Vaudois valleys, in Holland, in the Highlands of Scotland, in the woods and rocks of Madagascar, come forth when the "red, right hand" of cruelty is stricken down, and appear as those that have risen from the tomb.
2. It secures an earthly immortality - that of a lasting recollection: "The righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance" (Psalm 112:6; Proverbs 10:7): that, also, of abiding influence; for the effect of their holy lives and true, faithful words shall go down to distant generations.
3. It issues in eternal blessedness. The righteous shall go into "life eternal." - C.
Dante did not include one more awful than the horror of dust.
I. THE RESURRECTION OF THE BODIES OF BELIEVERS. "Thy dead men shall live," etc.
Thy dead men shall live.Isaiah 38:12) from which there is no return? It must have been thoughts like these which led to the expression of one of the most abrupt and powerful of the few hopes of the resurrection which the Old Testament contains. This hope, which lightens Isaiah 25:7, 8, bursts through again — without logical connection with the context — in verses 14-19 of chap. 26.
(Prof. G. A. Smith, D. D.)
II. THE EFFICIENT CAUSE OF THE RESURRECTION. "Thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead." In Eastern countries the dew is extremely heavy and almost entirely supplies the place of rain. It is frequently referred to in Scripture (Psalm 133:3; Hosea 14:5). The "dew" means the influence of the Holy Spirit, which is the great efficient cause of the raising of the bodies of believers; not the primary cause — that is the atonement made by our Lord Jesus. But the text adds, "The earth shall cast out the dead." The word "cast out" means to travail. The earth shall put forth them that are now buried. The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together; but when the Spirit shall come forth with His mighty influence, the earth shall be no longer able to retain its dead.
III. THE JOY OF THIS RESURRECTION. Without doubt the joy of departed saints is exceeding great; but the joy will be so much greater at the resurrection that the Church may with propriety sing in concert, "Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust." They will then see the full glory of Christ established; they will see sin and Satan in chains; they will see hell subdued, death quite swallowed up.
(R. W. Sibthorp.)
(Prof. G. A. Smith, D. D.)
(Prof. G. A. Smith, D. D.)
Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust.
Homilist.This call may he addressed —
I. To the SENSUALIST. All his thoughts and activities are directed to the pampering of his animal appetites and the gratification of his animal lusts. To such the word may be fairly addressed, "Arise from the dust." Why live in mud, when you ought and might live in "heavenly places"?
II. To the WORLDLING.By a worldling, I mean a man who gives his heart and energies and time to the accumulation of wealth; a man who had no idea of worth but money; no idea of dignity apart from material parade and possessions; a man whose inspiration in everything is love of gold. Such a man is literally in the dust. He is a grub. Now, to such a man the call come with power: "Arise from the dust; break away from that wretched materialism that imprisons thy spirit." A man's life "consisteth not in the abundance of the things of this world." CONCLUSION. All unregenerate men are in the dust. "He that is born of the flesh, is flesh" — is flesh in experience, in character, known by his compeers only by fleshly or material characteristics. "He that is born of the Spirit, is spirit" — the spirit has been liberated from the bondage of the flesh, called up to his true regal position, and is known hence on, not by material features, but by high mental and moral characteristics.
Homilist.There are two senses in which men may be considered dead while yet living inhabitants of the earth.(1) They may be civilly dead: utterly deprived of all political rights and privileges. To this the prophet refers undoubtedly. Ezekiel in a vision saw them as a "valley of dry bones." Here is a call for the restoration. "Thy dead men shall live" — live politically, restored to their own country, reinstated in all their rights, placed again amongst the nations of the earth.(2) Another sense in which men may be considered dead whilst living inhabitants of the earth is spiritually; Observe then —
I. THE SPIRITUAL CONDITION of unregenerated men. They "dwell in the dust."
1. Scientific materialists are in the dust. All their attention is taken up with material substances, combinations, forces, operations, laws. They have no world outside beyond the tangible and the visible.
2. Mercenary worldlings are in the dust.
3. Voluptuous sensualists are in the dust.
4. Ceremonial religionists are in the dust.
II. THE URGENT CALL MADE on unregenerate men. "Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust." But why awake?
1. Because the sleep is injurious. Physical sleep is refreshing, but spiritual sleep is pernicious; it enervates the powers; it is a disease that wastes and destroys.
2. Because the sleep is sinful. It is a sin against our constitution, against the ordination of Heaven, against the well. being of the universe.
3. Because it is perilous. In their dreams they feel that they are "increasing in goods and have need of nothing, whereas they are poor and wretched, blind and naked."
(Homilist.)I. AN INVOCATION OR ADDRESS. "Ye that dwell in dust." To whom is this designation applicable, and to whom does it in point of fact apply?
1. All men, without exception, may be described as dwelling in dust. They live in houses of clay; their foundation is in the dust; they are crushed before the moth. They are made of the earth, earthy.
2. This address is still more descriptive of mankind, as it refers to their sin and guilt in the sight of God. They are sunk in the depths of abject servitude.
3. But it is not to sinners in their natural state that the words of our text are addressed. God directs them to His chosen people, and says even unto them, "Ye that dwell in dust." Nor is the expression inappropriate. For humble and lowly is the spiritual estate even of the believer. His home is in Heaven, his treasure is there, his heart is there, his Redeemer is there; and though he wishes to be in thought and feeling continually there, the opposing influences of sin, Satan, the world, and the flesh, retard his efforts, and cloud the sunshine of his joys with ever-recurring darkness. Is it not strange that an heir of immortality, a participant in Christ's everlasting redemption, a member of the Saviour's ever-living body, a being who is destined for eternal glory should drink the cup of humiliation and suffering in the dust? There is another sense in which God's people may be described by this epithet. They dwell in dust, inasmuch as their life in this world is a life of affliction.
4. But, lastly, the address contained in our text refers literally to those who dwell in the dust — who reside in the cold and cheerless tomb.
II. A SUMMONS OR COMMAND. "Awake and ring." The passage is not addressed to all who dwell in dust, as the context clearly shows, but only to those who are God's chosen and willing people. There is a night of death that has no morning, but it is yet future, distant, and unseen. All who are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of Man, and shall come forth, they that have done evil as well as they that have done good. But it is only to the righteous that the voice of Omnipotence shall say, Awake and sing! Brightly and beautifully on them will dawn the resurrection morning.
III. THE REASON WHY GOD COMMANDS THEM THAT DWELL IN DUST TO AWAKE AND SING. It is because their dew is as the dew of herbs. Dew in countries such as Judea, where rain seldom falls, is the grand agent that fertilises, fructifies, and waters the earth. They that dwell in dust have their dew. Their dew is the beneficent law of Heaven, which seals them up in the grave, until such time as the fructifying influence of the Spirit shall quicken them into a resurrection life.
IV. THE RESULT OF THE COMMAND, Awake and sing. The earth shall cast out the dead. The subject presents to us —
1. A ground of comfort amidst all the distresses of life.
2. A most powerful motive to holiness and duty.
Thy dew is as the dew of herbs.I. AGAINST DECOMPOSITION. One of the great difficulties connected with the resurrection is the fact that the bodies of the dead decompose, and that oftentimes some of their parts go to make up the growth of plants and animals. But is not this difficulty removed by the law of the text; the law that governs the reproduction of plants, and which is so forcibly presented by the apostle in his argument to the Corinthians for the resurrection of the dead?
II. AGAINST DEPORTATION. Other dangers threaten the bodies of the dead. Being on the surface of the earth and mingled with its particles, they must necessarily be moved about. The winds may waft them to other regions; birds or animals or men may carry them abroad; the rivers may float them in their rapid currents; the ocean may heave them on its mighty billows. How then shall they be preserved? God has purposely made many of the seeds so that they are wafted on the winds, not that they may be destroyed, but may be brought into better positions for their preservation and subsequent prosperity. And shall we disbelieve the fact that the great God who performs these wonders in the ordinary operations of nature, is able and willing so to control winds, and birds, and beasts, and living men, and flowing rivers, and heaving oceans, as to preserve and carry to safer or better places the germs of those bodies which He has taught us shall rise at the resurrection of the last day?
III. AGAINST INTERMINGLING OR LOSS OF IDENTITY. Take the many hundreds of plants that exist about us — there are computed to be more than 80,000 kinds on the globe — with their millions of seeds. The God of nature never mixes them up. Whatever may be true about the amalgamation of growing plants, when their seeds or germs are perfected it is impossible so to mix them as to confound them. And think you that the God who works such wonders of infallible certainty in the identification of the untold millions of these varieties of plant seeds, every year and through so many centuries, however they may be mixed up, cannot or will not, even when He has promised it, preserve the identity of each different human body, so that it shall be enstamped with all the characteristics of its own individuality, though it be mingled with so many other human bodies through so many centuries?
IV. AGAINST DESTRUCTION BY EXTERNAL FORCES. The seeds of many species resist the destructive power, not only of cold but of great heat, and of drought and moisture, in a wonderful manner, not only through the lapse of one season, but of centuries. And as God does thus preserve these inferior and feebler creations of His, amid such great and long continued action of the elements of destruction, will He not much rather preserve against all accidents and all assaults of the forces of destruction, those nobler creations of His for whose use and control the inferior things of earth were made and preserved?
V. AGAINST THE "GNAWING TOOTH" OF TIME. So far as the law of life has been developed, it is evident that mere lapse of time has no effect to destroy life, so long as circumstances are favourable to its continuation. Some Celtic tombs were discovered not very long since in France, which had been filled nearly two thousand years ago. Under the Lead of each corpse was found a tile, and under each tile a circular hole covered with cement, and containing a few seeds. These seeds were planted, "they soon vegetated; and the heliotrope, the trefoil, and the cornflower were seen rising to life again, and expanding their flowers in the light of spring with admirable display, after their seeds had slept two thousand years beneath the pillows of the dead in the dust of the tomb." Can we believe less of the power and willingness of God, with reference to the preservation through the onstretching centuries, of the bodies of men whom He made in His own image, and whom He rescued from destruction by the death of His well-beloved Son, who "is risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept"?
VI. AGAINST PREMATURE DEVELOPMENT. But, says a persistent objector, if all these things are true, why do we not have some evidence of it; why do we not find such occasionally appearing in the body? We know that there are plants in tropical countries called "air plants," which grow from the sustenance they receive out of the atmosphere. One species of these — the "live-forever" plant, — grows in the temperate zone; and some of us may remember seeing these plants suspended from the beams of houses and flourishing there. Suppose a man who had never seen an oak grow, but who was told that an acorn contained the germ of an oak, should fasten that acorn by the side of his air plants to a beam of his house, or fasten ten, or twenty, or a hundred acorns there; and then, when he saw his air plants growing, and his acorns remaining dry and unsprouted, should declare to you that there was "no such fact as that oaks would grow from acorns, or that, anyhow, those acorns would never produce oaks"; what would be your reply? You would say to him, "There is a law of germination and growth belonging to those acorns; and whenever you bring them into the position where that law is met, they will grow." We are ignorant equally of the facts in what the identity or germ of a human dead body consists, and what conditions are necessary to bring it into active resurrection life; these are the affairs of the Author of existence. But we do know, that whatever it is that constitutes the identity of the dead body's existence, cannot and will not develop itself in a resurrection life power, until the great Keeper of man brings it into a position and condition where the laws of its development are fulfilled.
(N. D. Williamson.)
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