Go up on a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news. Raise your voice loudly, O Jerusalem, herald of good news. Lift it up, do not be afraid! Say to the cities of Judah, "Here is your God!"
I. GOD'S PRESENCE IN JESUS CHRIST HIS SON. Then, when "God was manifest in the flesh," when "the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us," the "Brightness of the Father's glory, and the express Image of his Person," might these words be most appropriately used, "Behold your God." Then One was present who
(1) while he had in his nature and his character all Divine attributes (Divine knowledge, power, truth, purity, love, etc.),
(2) was visible to the human eye, audible to the human ear, accessible to the human race; then he that was "above all" was "with us" all, the Immanuel.
II. GOD'S POWER IN THE ESTABLISHMENT OF HIS KINGDOM OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. No doubt it seemed to the Jews a very glorious illustration of Divine power to overcome all the obstacles that stood in the way of their return from exile - to guide them into and establish them in the land of their fathers. But it is an incalculably greater instance of Divine power to overcome all the hindrances in the way of a spiritual redemption of the race, and to secure that glorious issue. This is that which the ruling and overruling arm of the Almighty is now accomplishing. Well might such a work be published with farthest-reaching voice from the highest mountain! God is doing that with which no victories that human monarchs ever won will for one small moment compare. He is triumphing over the prejudices, the superstitions, the vices, the selfishness, the individual and the organized iniquities of the world; and on the ruins of sin and wrong he is rearing the mighty and majestic edifice of universal righteousness and peace.
III. GOD'S GRACE IN CONFERRING IMMORTAL GLORY. "His reward is with him." God comes to us in the gospel with a very large reward. On them who seek for honour and glory in his appointed way, he confers "eternal life;" that is to say,
(1) life of the very highest kind - life that is spiritual and Divine, spent in his near presence and in his holy service; and
(2) life that never fails, but evermore enlarges - life that does not, as dues our mortal existence, ascend and then descend till the end is reached, but that continually and eternally ascends, enlarging and expanding as the centuries pass away. Well is it for these, and wise is it of them, to rejoice in his manifested presence, to take a sympathetic and active share in the outworking of his great accomplishment, to have for their chief hope a share in that heavenly heritage. - C.
Judges 9:7; Deuteronomy 27:12; Matthew 5:1). J.D. Michaelis compares the ancient practice of transmitting news by shouting from one hill-top to another, as described by Caesar (Bell. Gall. 7:3). The essential idea is that of local elevation as extending the diffusion of the sound.
I. THE THOUGHTS THAT CLUSTER AROUND THE NAME. "O Zion, that bringest glad tidings." That is almost a definition of the Church; at any rate, it is a description of her by her most characteristic office and function — that which marks and separates her from all associations and societies of men. Her true dignity is that she bears a Gospel in her hand, and grace is poured into her lips. We are to suppose the manifestation and approach of the Divine Deliverer; hence what constitutes Zion the messenger of good tidings is the presence in her of the living God. Translate that into New Testament language, and it just comes to this: that what constitutes the Church the evangelist for the world is the simple possession of Christ, or of the Gospel, and that breaks out into two or three points.
O Zion, that bringest good tidings.
I. THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH HAS GREAT TIDINGS TO TELL TO THE WORLD AT LARGE. The Jewish prophets were the heralds of a Saviour to come, and beautiful upon the mountains were the feet of those who published peace; but the Christian Church has to proclaim the actual accomplishment of the great salvation. We have to tell of a Saviour incarnate, crucified, enthroned. We have to tell of a justifying righteousness, a sanctifying spirit, a pardoning God: of Satan vanquished. The Christian Church has to reveal —
1. A system of truth as opposed to the errors of heathenism. These truths are universally applicable. All have minds to which truth is precious as life to the eye, and the truth as it is in Jesus is more needful than life itself.
2. A system of devotion, as opposed to the absurdities of their superstition. Would you choose to have them still ignorant of the attributes of acceptable devotion?
3. A system of purity, as opposed to the shameless vices of their idolatry. Morality is interested in the triumph of missions.
4. The Christian Church can tell them of the life and immortality brought to light by the Gospel, as opposed to their obscure and degrading notions of futurity.
II. THESE TIDINGS OUGHT NOT TO BE KEPT SECRET, BUT ARE TO BE URGENTLY AND UNIVERSALLY PROCLAIMED. "Lift up thy voice with strength: say, Behold your God." This light ought to be held forth as a burning torch, like the beacon. light of ancient Pharos, that it may scatter the darkness of the night, and guide the tempest-tossed vessel of distant nations to the safe anchorage and peaceful haven of the welcome shore. We are bound by every tie, by all that can constitute the most solemn and religious obligation, to diffuse far and wide the grand principles of salvation. Dwell upon the moral destitution and wretchedness of the nations sitting in darkness, and simply ask whether this be a desirable state of things.
III. THE CERTAINTY THAT THESE TIDINGS SHALL NOT BE PROCLAIMED IN VAIN. God has said, "My Word shall not return void." The Spirit is promised.
1. Whoever has Christ has the power to impart Him.
2. The possession of Christ for yourselves imposes upon you the obligation to impart Him.(1) All property in this world is trust property, and everything that a man knows that can help or bless the moral or spiritual age or intellectual condition of his fellows, he is thereby under solemn obligation to impart. There is an obligation arising from the bands that knit us to one another, so that no man can possess his good alone without being untrue to the solidarity of humanity. You have got, you say, the remedy, healing for all the diseases of humanity. What would you think of a man who in a pestilence was contented with swallowing his own specific, and leaving others to die? You have got the Christ, and you have got Him that you may impart Him.(2) It is an obligation that arises, too, from the very purposes of your calling. What are you saved for? For your own blessedness? Yes, and No. No creature in God's great universe but is great enough to be a worthy end of the Divine action. But no creature in God's universe so great as that he is a worthy end of the Divine action, if he is going to keep all the Divine gifts in himself. We are all brought into the light that we may impart light.
3. The very fact of the possession of this Gospel, or of this Christ, for ourselves ought to — and in all healthy conditions will — inspire the impulse to impart. All deep conviction longs to be vocal.
II. We have here, in a very picturesque and vivid form, the setting forth of THE MANNER IN WHICH THE EVANGELIST ZION IS TO PROCLAIM HER MESSAGE. The fair-featured herald is bidden to get up into the high mountain, perhaps a mere picturesque detail, perhaps some reference to the local position of the city set upon a hill, like the priests of Ebal or Gerizim, or Alpine shepherds, calling to each other across the valleys, to secure some vantage ground; and, next, to let her voice roll out across the glen. No faltering whisper will do, but a voice that compels audience. "Lift up thy voice with strength." But a timid heart will make a tremulous voice, and fear and doubt will whisper when courage will ring it out. So "be not afraid"; there is the foundation of the clearness and the loudness with which the word is to be uttered. Our message is to be given with a courage and a force that are worthy of it. "Be not afraid." That is a lesson for this day. There are plenty of causes of fear round about us, if, like Peter on the water, we .look at the waves instead of at the Master.
1. Let us cherish a firm, soul-absorbing confidence in the power and truth of the message we have to tell.
2. Do not let us make too much of the enemy.
3. Let us remember the victories of the past.
4. Above all, let us remember who fights with us.
III. THE SUBSTANCE AND CONTENTS OF THE EVANGELIST ZION'S MESSAGE, "Say unto the cities of Judah, Behold you God!" They were to be pointed to a great historical act, in which God had manifested Himself to men; and the words are not only an exclamation, but an entreaty, and the message was to be given to these little daughter cities of Judah as representing all of those for whom the deliverance had been wrought; — all which things are paralleled in the message that is committed to our hand. We all have given to us the charge of pointing men to the great historical fact wherein God is visible to men. You cannot reveal God by word, you cannot reveal God by thought. There is no way open to Him to make Himself known to His creatures except the way by which men make themselves known to one another, that is, by their deeds; and so high above all speculation, high above all abstraction, nearer to us than all thought, stands the historical fact in which God shows Himself to the world, and that is in the person of Jesus Christ. How beautiful in that connection the verses following my text are: "Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand"; yet "He shall feed His flock like a shepherd." And so in that Christ is the power of God, for He is the arm of the Lord; and in that Christ is the gentleness of God; and whilst men grope in the darkness, our business is to point to the living, dying Son, and to say, "There you have the ultimate, the perfect representation of the unseen God."
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
(J. A. Alexander.)
Behold your God
I. THEIR EXTERNAL ACCOMPLISHMENT in the incarnation, nativity, personal appearance, and ministration of the Son of God in Jerusalem and in the cities of Judah.
II. THEIR INTERNAL ACCOMPLISHMENT in the hearts of all those who have spiritually received the tidings of His Gospel. It is the process of Christ, from His incarnation to His ascension, spiritually repeated within us; "God and Saviour" and our salvation entirely depends upon our "beholding this", manifesting Himself in all His amiable attributes within us, and by our will cheerfully co-operating with Him in His great work of love.
(J. Duche, M. A.)
1. Carry your thoughts back into eternity, and behold Him, who in time was made of a woman, sitting upon the circle of the heavens, in the essential glory of the Godhead; His habitation immensity, His duration eternity, His perfections uncreated and infinite.
2. As a confirmation of the original glory and Godhead of Jesus Christ, "behold your God" at the morning of creation, the dawn of time. Was it not His effective hand that planted the pillars of the universe and raised the magnificent fabric of earth and heaven? What He formed as the God of creation, He preserves as the God of power.
3. From the fall of our first parents to the birth of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer is only to be seen in promises and prophecies, in sacrifices and ceremonies. Passing over, therefore, this long lapse of time, suffer me to conduct your thoughts to Bethlehem. There, "behold your God."
4. Omitting the occurrences of His childhood and youth, let me invite you to look at Jesus entering into the wilderness under the influence and direction of the Holy Ghost. Behold Him tempted of the devil forty days and forty nights. It is a Divine maxim that "God cannot be tempted, neither tempteth He any man." But God in human flesh sustained the hour of trial.
5. After this strange event, permitted to the powers of darkness, Jesus appears in a new scene of life. Behold, then, your God going forth as a teacher, accompanying His ministrations and instructions with signs and wonders, and all the marks of Deity. And He is the "same yesterday, to-day, and for ever." In every age, as well as in the days of His flesh, there is treasured up in Him, for the flee use of all that come unto Him, pardon, and peace, and grace, and strength, and life, and salvation.
6. Just before the close of His ministrations, a profitable view of the Lord Jesus opens to us in the garden of Gethsemane: there "behold your God!" He appears emphatically a "man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief." But let us follow Him from the garden, through all the intermediate scenes of insult, reproach, and ignominy, to the bar of Pontius Pilate: there at the tribunal of man "behold your God!" He, who shall one day appear to judge every man according to his deeds, now stands arraigned as a criminal before the judgment-seat of man. Judgment is perverted: Pilate declares Him innocent, yet suffers Him to be mocked, and scourged, and crucified. Mingling in the crowd, follow Him from the common hall, and "behold your God" as He passes through, the streets of Jerusalem,. bearing. His cross amidst the revilings and tauntmgs of the people, who, m all the virulence of persecution, exclaim, "Away with Him, away with Him! crucify Him!" "Behold your God" ascending the summit of Calvary. Oh, what a scene was here! a scene which all nature seems backward to behold. Standing at the foot of the Cross, learn that "ye were not redeemed with corruptible things," etc. (1 Peter 1:18, 19).
7. The last view which we have to take of Jesus Christ closes His sufferings, and accomplishes our redemption. "Behold your God" bursting the barriers of the tomb, vanquishing the king of terrors, despoiling the sepulchre, breaking the bands of corruption, and rising to life, never to die again. Then was fulfilled that prophecy, "O death, I will be thy plagues." To enter into the spirit of the passage, you must keep your mind's eye upon the Saviour, and behold your God as He is ascending to the realms of bliss. Conclusion — "Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation." Now it is your privilege by faith to "behold your God" as a Saviour, delighting in mercy.
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