Why was no one there when I arrived? Why did no one answer when I called? Is My hand too short to redeem you? Or do I lack the strength to deliver you? Behold, My rebuke dries up the sea; I turn the rivers into a desert; the fish rot for lack of water and they die of thirst.
I. WHAT ACCOUNTED FOR ISRAEL'S EXILE?
1. It was not any fickleness in God. He had not acted toward Israel as a husband often acted toward the wife of whom he was weary; there had been no changeableness on his part.
2. It was not his necessity. The father might sell his son when hard pressed by pecuniary straits; but God could never, by any supposition, be reduced to such necessities. He who can say, "Every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills," the generous Donor of all gifts, and bountiful Source of all treasures, cannot be in want of anything.
3. It is not his inability to protect or to redeem. There was abundance of Divine power to preserve from captivity or to rescue from it. He who could "dry up the [Red] sea," and in whose hand are the storms and tempests of the sky, could defeat any armies of the invader, or could bring out of bondage, if he chose.
4. It was their own disobedience which accounted for it - their iniquities, their transgressions (ver. 1); it was their heedlessness and disobedience when the voice of the Lord was heard rebuking and inviting (ver. 2).
II. WHAT ACCOUNTS FOR OUR ALIENATION FROM GOD?
1. Nothing in him. He is not unwilling that we should return and be reconciled; he does not weary of his children; he has been obliged to condemn us, but he "earnestly remembers us still." His attitude is one of gracious invitation: all the days of our life long he "stretches out his hands" toward us. He is not unable. The power which God shows in nature, in his control of the elements, in regulating the tides of the sea, and directing the tempest in the sky, is small and slight in comparison with that he shows in redeeming a fallen race; mechanical or miraculous power is of a far inferior kind to that which is moral and spiritual. And the Author of nature is the Redeemer of man; he has completed a glorious work of mercy and restoration. He has made it possible for the most guilty to be forgiven, for the foulest to be cleansed, for the most distant to return. There is no obstacle to our restoration in God.
2. Everything in us. We "will not come unto him that we may have life." (l) We do not listen when he speaks; we go on our way, regardless of the fact that God is speaking in his Word, in the sanctuary by Jesus Christ, in his providence.
(2) Or we do not reflect when we hear. We may come and listen and understand, but go away" hearers only, and not doers; "we are the "people that do not consider.
(3) Or we do not decide. We feel and we entertain the question of returning; we may say, I will arise," but we do not; conviction loses the name of action; we defer, and remain in exile. - C.
Wherefore, when I came, was there no man?
I. His DIVINE POWER AND GLORY. Power is naturally calm. The power that sustains the universe is, in fact, most wonderful when, unseen, unfelt, with its Divine silence and infinite ease, it moves on in its ordinary course; but we are often most impressed by it when it strikes against obstructions, and startles the senses by its violence. Knowing our frame, and dealing with us as with children, our Teacher seeks to impress us with a sense of His Divine power, by bidding us think of Him as working by inexorable force certain awful changes and displacements in nature. "I dry up the sea," etc.
II. HIS HUMAN LIFE AND EDUCATION. "The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned," etc. Gradually, it seems, the Divine Spirit, like a mysterious voice, woke up within Him the consciousness of what He was, and of what He had come on earth to fulfil. Morning by morning, through all the days of His childhood, the voice was ever awakening Him to higher consciousness and more awful knowledge.
III. THE MEDIATORIAL TEACHING FOR WHICH HE HAD BEEN THUS PREPARED.
1. It is personal. If His own personal teaching had not been in view, there would have been no need for all this personal preparation. "The Lord hath given Me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak." This is His own testimony to the great fact that He Himself personally teaches every soul that is saved.
2. It is suitable. Suitable to our weariness.
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) 3. The teaching of Christ is minutely direct and particular. When I read that He is ordained to speak "to him" that is weary, I understand that He does not speak in a general, impersonal, unrecognizing way to the forlorn crowd of sufferers, but to every man in particular, and to every man apart. (C. Stanford, D. D.)
(2) (3) (4) (5) 3. The teaching of Christ is minutely direct and particular. When I read that He is ordained to speak "to him" that is weary, I understand that He does not speak in a general, impersonal, unrecognizing way to the forlorn crowd of sufferers, but to every man in particular, and to every man apart. (C. Stanford, D. D.)
(3) (4) (5) 3. The teaching of Christ is minutely direct and particular. When I read that He is ordained to speak "to him" that is weary, I understand that He does not speak in a general, impersonal, unrecognizing way to the forlorn crowd of sufferers, but to every man in particular, and to every man apart. (C. Stanford, D. D.)
(C. Stanford, D. D.)
(C. Stanford, D. D.)
I. BEHOLD THE MESSIAH AS GOD. Link vers. 3 and 6: "I clothe the heavens with blackness, and I make sackcloth their covering... I gave my back to the smiters," etc. He, then, who suffered thus, and whom we regard as redeeming us by His death, and as saving us by His life, is no less than the Almighty God. I think the first reference, in these words, is to the miracles which were wrought by the plagues in Egypt. It was Jehovah-Jesus who was then plaguing His adversaries. In a later chapter, Isaiah says that "the Angel of His presence saved them;" and who is that great Angel of His presence but the Angel of the covenant in whom we delight, even Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour? But we must not restrict the text to that which happened in the land of Egypt, for it has a far wider reference. All the great wonders of nature are to be ascribed to Him upon whom we build all our hopes for time and for eternity. The last miracle recorded here, namely, that of covering the heavens with sackcloth, was performed by our Lord even when He was in His death agony. You are not depending for your salvation upon a mere man. He is man, but He is just as truly Divine.
II. BEHOLD THE MESSIAH AS THE INSTRUCTED TEACHER (ver. 4). I call your special attention to the condescension of our Lord in coming here on purpose to care for the weak — to speak consoling and sustaining words to them; and also to the fact that, before He performed that service, He learned the sacred art from His Father. For thirty years was He learning much in Joseph's carpenter's shop. Little do we know how much He learned there; but this much we do know, "Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man." And afterwards, when He entered upon His public work among men, He spake with the tongue of the learned, saying to His disciples, "All things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you." All through His time of teaching, He was still listening and learning.
III. BEHOLD JESUS CHRIST AS THE SERVANT OF THE LORD (ver. 5).
1. He speaks of Himself as being prepared by grace. "The Lord God hath opened Mine ear," as if there had been a work wrought upon Him to prepare Him for His service. And the same Spirit, which rested upon Christ, must also open our ears.
2. Being thus prepared by grace, He was consecrated in due form, so that He could say to Himself, "The Lord God hath opened Mine ear." He heard the faintest whispers of His Father's voice.
3. He not only heard His Father's voice, but He was obedient to it in all things. "I was not rebellious." From the day when, as a child, He said to His parents, "Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business?" till the hour when, on the cross, He cried, "It is finished," He was always obedient to the will of God.
4. In that obedience, He was persevering through all trials. He says that He did not turn away back. Having commenced the work of saving men, He went through with it.
IV. BEHOLD THE MESSIAH AS THE PEERLESS SUFFERER (ver. 6). It has been asked, "Did God really die?" No; for God cannot die, yet He who died was God; so, if there be a confusion in your mind, it is the confusion of Holy Scripture itself, for we read, "Feed the Church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood." In addition to the pain, we are asked, in this verse, to notice particularly the contempt which the Saviour endured. The plucking of His hair was a proof of the malicious contempt of His enemies, yet they went still further, and did spit in His face. Spitting was regarded by Orientals, and, I suppose, by all of us, as the most contemptuous thing which one man could do to another; yet the vile soldiers gathered round Him, and spat upon Him. I must point out the beautiful touch of voluntariness here: "I hid not my face." Our Saviour did not turn away, or seek to escape. If He had wished to do so, He could readily have done it. Conclusion: Notice three combinations which the verses of my text will make.(1) Verses 2 and 6. Those verses together show the full ability of Christ to save. Here we have God and the Sufferer.(2) Verses 4 and 5. Here you have the Teacher and the Servant, and the two together make up this truth — that Christ teaches us, not with words only, but with His life. What a wonderful Teacher He is, who Himself learned the lessons which He would have us learn!(3) Now put the whole text together, and I think the result will be — at least to God's people — that they will say, "This God shall be our God for ever and ever; and it shall be our delight to do His bidding at all times." It is a high honour to serve God; and Christ is God. It is a great thing to be the servant of a wise teacher; and Christ has the tongue of the learned. It is a very sweet thing to walk in the steps of a perfect Exemplar; and Christ is that. And, last and best of all, it is delightful to live for Him who suffered and died on our behalf.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
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