Do not tremble or fear. Have I not told you and declared it long ago? You are My witnesses! Is there any God but Me? There is no other Rock; I know not one."
man can prove that there is no other God beside Jehovah. But Jehovah fills all spheres: he, and he alone, can tell us whether, in any sphere, there is any rival deity. In a truly sublime way, the prophet presents him as looking - with an all-searching eye - into every corner of unbounded space, and then turning to us and saying, "There is no God beside me; I know not any." The passage stands in close relation with the supposed claims of idol-gods; and we should carefully note that the idol-figures are first of all representations of qualities, or powers, which are supposed to exist, though unseen, and are usually personified or thought of as living beings. Only in the degraded stage are idol-figures treated as if they themselves were gods. In this connection two points may be illustrated, and practical lessons from each may be enforced.
I. GOD ABSORBS IN HIMSELF ALL THE IDEAS WHICH IDOLATRY SEEKS TO EMBODY. Poetically conceived, the figures of Baal or Jupiter are only representations of certain powers - of life, warmth, rule, wisdom, etc., which are living, unseen beings. Our God says there are no such beings. Every one of these powers is in himself. He is Zeus, and Baal, and Venus, and Diana, and Moloch, so far as any of these represent necessary powers belonging to Deity. We must not divide him into many beings; he is only One. So far as idols are mere creations of men, there is nothing existing that corresponds to them. So far as they represent real powers, these powers all meet in the One God - our God!
II. GOD DEMANDS ALL THE WORSHIP WHICH IDOLATRY DISTRIBUTES OVER MANY GODS. True worship is both word and work, profession and service. Men who divide God into gods have their favourite deity. God cannot be divided. And the law for every creature made in his image is, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and all thy mind, and all thy soul, and all thy strength." - R.T.
Fear ye not.
I. WHY ARE WE TO EXPECT THAT THE PEOPLE OF GOD WOULD BE LIKELY TO FEAR?
1. They have always been a persecuted people.
2. Many a man, before he is decided for God, finds out that, if he makes up his mind to enter into the service of the Lord, his worldly interest is nearly sure to suffer.
3. Others, again, know their personal interest for their worldly circumstances. They know, for instance, their birth, their wealth, their talent. Then perhaps they are called of God to think seriously about their eternal state; and the result is, that they feel in their own minds, "If I forsake all this outward display of means, and show that I do not value it as I have hitherto done, my influence amongst others will very greatly suffer."
4. There is many a man, if he would serve the Lord, must make a sacrifice of many of his personal and worldly comforts.
5. Then, take the case of doctrines. There are many who imbibe from their earliest days the idea that religion is gloomy, that God is an object of terror, that death must be misery; they live in no thought of the Lord's coming again in joy and happiness, and heaven itself, with its delights and its pleasures, is never really considered. Now, all these things frequently produce fear in our minds.
II. THE REASON WHY WE SHOULD NOT FEAR. The reason is, that the Lord thus argues with us: "Have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it?" That is, God challenges man to deny this fact, that He knows the end from the beginning, and has proved that He knows it by foretelling the end from the beginning. This is the manner in which God argues in other passages. (Isaiah 42:9). God knows the end; God foresees the means, and foreseeing the means He exercises control over those means — everything that happens therefore, great or small, is under the control of God, who "orders all things after the counsel of His own will," and consequently we have nothing to fear, because we are in His hands who "doeth all things well." This is the manner in which we find the argument used in Isaiah 51:12.
III. Having thus stated the Christian's duty as well as his privilege — not to fear; and having seen what the reason is, that God has foretold all things, and therefore decreed and settled all things from the beginning, HE THEN CHALLENGES HIS PEOPLE in these words — "Ye are even My witnesses," and therefore urges upon them, by the strongest possible personal appeal, to bear testimony to the fact that the Lord He is God, and our God too, for ever and for ever.
(M. Villiers, M. A.)
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