Isaiah 59:19


When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him. The standard is highly prized in war. On it are engraven the names of special victories and the fields of old renowned. It is the last disgrace to lose the standard, and in many a foray and fierce campaign men have fallen in heaps around the standard-bearer. Think -

I. OF THE VICTORIES ENGRAVEN ON THE STANDARD OF THE LORD. Of truth over error; righteousness over injustice; purity over lust; God over mammon.

II. OF THE SPECIAL SEASONS IN WHICH INIQUITY COMES IN LIKE A FLOOD. Times such as those of the profligate Stuarts, when the sabbath was desecrated and debasing plays were acted. Times when the pride of priestcraft and power drove out the faithful from the land. Times when the Bible itself was put under a ban, and the flood-gates of evil were left open. Nothing then withstood, and nothing will ever withstand, the tides of sin, but the Word of God. Utility, expediency, propriety, - these are but thin "withes" that the giant snaps; these are but gossamer gates through which the torrent roars. Nothing is strong but the Spirit of the Lord working in us and with us. - W.M.S.







When the enemy shall come in like a flood.
Homilist.
These words suggest —

I. THE MORAL INVASION OF HUMAN SOULS.

1. The soul has an arch enemy. This enemy is called by different names. The old serpent, the devil, Satan, roaring lion, etc. He is characterized by great power, malignity, craft. He has mighty armies under his power. Principalities and powers, etc.

2. This arch enemy sometimes makes a tremendous onslaught. "Cometh in like a flood." There are times in the human soul when evil seems to rush on it as an overwhelming torrent.

II. THE ALL-SUFFICIENT GUARDIAN OF HUMAN SOULS. "The Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him." The soul that gives itself up to Divine guardianship has an impregnable fortress.

1. The Spirit of the Lord is stronger than the enemy.

2. The Spirit of the Lord is wiser than the enemy. The Spirit of the Lord has an intellect, that overrules, battles, subordinates all the workings of the foe. He makes his hellish discord swell the harmonies of the universe.

3. The Spirit of the Lord is nearer to the soul than the enemy. The soul does not live in the devil, but the soul lives in the Spirit; the soul can live without the devil, the soul cannot live without the Spirit.(1) How great is man! The objects both of hellish and of heavenly interests and efforts.(2) How critical is destiny! We are in an enemy's territory.

(Homilist.)

I. THE ENEMY.

1. Worldliness.

(1)Fashion.

(2)Business cares.

(3)Pleasures.

2. Political sins.

(1)Party spirit.

(2)License of vice.

II. CHARACTER OF THE ENEMY'S OPPOSITION.

1. Active. "Shall come in," etc.

2. Vehement. "Like a flood."

III. THE ENEMY CONFRONTED. "The Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him."

1. In the faithful, earnest preaching of the Gospel.

2. In the social services of the Church.

3. In the godly example of Christians.

(J. S. Clomer.)

I. AN ATTACK made by hell and its auxiliaries upon the kingdom and interest of Christ. "The enemy shall come in like a flood." Notice —

1. By whom the attack is made. "The enemy. The Church of God, or His saints in this world, have many enemies. They are expressed in the singular number, because of their unity in their designs against Christ and His kingdom, and because they attack under one principal leader and commander, namely, the god of this world, whose kingdom Christ came to overthrow.,

2. The manner of the enemy's attack. He comes in like a flood, with great violence and noise, as though he would sweep away all clean before him (Revelation 12:15). It is no unusual thing, in Scripture, to represent the irruptions of hell and its armies upon the Church of God under the notion of a rapid flood or river, which threatens the ruin of everything that stands in its way (Psalm 93:3).

3. The progress of the "standard" I understand Christ, who is not only a standard-bearer "among ten thousand" (Song of Solomon 5:10), but the Standard or ensign itself (Isaiah 11:10). By the "lifting up" of the standard I understand the displays of the glory of Christ in a Gospel dispensation, accompanied with the efficacy of the Spirit of the Lord.

3. The repulse itself given to the enemy of the Spirit of the Lord He is "put to flight" (Marg.), or, as Calvin reads It, the Spirit of the Lord shall drive him back like the waters of Jordan, which were driven back towards their fountain, when they stood in the way of Israel's entry upon the possession of the promised land.

4. The certainty of this promise of driving back the enemy — it is not a maybe, but a shall be.

(E. Erskine.)

I. WHO IS THE ENEMY THAT COMES IN LIKE A FLOOD? The devil, called sometimes "the god of this world."

1. Satan has a strong party within, to wit, indwelling sin.

2. The world without us is another main auxiliary of hell — the profits, pleasures and preferments of the world, called by the apostle, "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eves and the pride of life."

II. WHY THIS ENEMY IS LIKENED TO A FLOOD.

1. Because of the noise, made by error, persecution, defections, and violences of all kinds. The poor soul is many times put in such confusion, through the noise of these mighty waters, that it cannot hear the voice of God either in His Word or providences.

2. Because of their multitude.

3. Because of their unity in bending all one way in their opposition against Christ and His cause.

4. Floods are mighty, violent and rapid in their motion.

5. They are of a sweeping nature, and are ready to hurl down everything that is not well fixed.

6. A flood is in a continual motion; so the actings of sin and Satan and the world, against Christ and His cause, are incessant.

III. THE PROGRESS OF THE ENEMY. How far may he come in!

1. The enemy may come in within the borders of Zion (Micah 5:5, 6).

2. The enemy comes in, not only within the borders, but even into the palaces of Zion, her public assemblies for divine worship (Job 1:6).

3. The enemy may come into the pulpits of the Church by an erroneous and corrupt ministry (Jude 1:4).

4. The enemy may come into the judicatories of the Church, which are the thrones of judgment; so far may the enemy come in as to influence those judicatories to join hands with the spoilers and oppressors of the people of God, instead of defending them.

5. The enemy may come into the dwellings of Jacob. The devil lodgeth in the house of the wicked, and he may come in and work much mischief in the house of a godly David.

6. He may come into your closets, and go along with you to your knees, when you would be alone with God.

7. The enemy may come into your very heart.

IV. THE CERTAINTY OF ALL THIS.

1. Plain Scripture testimony (Revelation 2:10).

2. The state of the believer in this world — a militant state.

3. The experience of the saints of God in all ages.

V. INFERENCES.

1. This world is not the believer's resting-place. If it were, of all men he would be the most miserable.

2. See, hence, why it is the believer frequently expresseth such longing desire to be away.

3. See, hence, the need that we have of Christ in his kingly office, to subdue, restrain, and conquer all His and our enemies.

4. See, hence, encouragement to poor tossed and tempted believers. Though the enemy come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.

(E. Erskine.)

1. Thy enemies are God's as well as thine.

2. The Lord of hosts is with thee: God is upon thy side.

3. The enemy is already defeated and baffled by thy glorious Head and General; thou hast only a shattered enemy to grapple with.

4. There are many triumphing in glory, against whom the floods did run with as great violence as they do now against thee.

5. The battle will soon be over.

6. The word of command is given by the glorious General, "Fight, the good fight of faith, stand fast in the faith, quit yourselves like men, be strong."

(E. Erskine.)

1. He sometimes casts out a flood of error; he studies to corrupt the simplicity of the Gospel, and to turn men away from the pure and precious truths of God.

2. Sometimes the enemy comes in with a flood of open persecution.

3. Sometimes he comes in with a flood of manifold corruptions upon the visible Church. Sometimes he studies to corrupt the worship of God by superstition, mingling in ceremonies of man's inventions with the pure ordinances of Divine institution. Sometimes he breaks in upon the government and discipline of the Church, attempting to introduce schemes of government not warranted by the Word of God. Sometimes he comes in with a flood of profanity corrupting the lives of professors, to the scandal of religion; sometimes with a flood of neutrality and indifferency about the things of God, under the colour of moderation.

(E. Erskine.)

I. THE CONFLICT. "The enemy shall come in like a flood." It is a startling metaphor. Away up on the hills there is a lake or reservoir dammed up. Suddenly the barrier breaks; and there comes a great rush of water down the hillside upon the unsuspecting valley beneath, sweeping away before it the hay-ricks, the stables of the cattle, the hovels of the poor, and the mansions of the great, overwhelming all life in one common watery grave, leaving presently, when it is passed, a desert where there had bloomed a garden of the Lord. Evil is always imminent just as the reservoir is always threatening. Not to watch against it, not sometimes to lift the eye to see whether the barrier holds, not to know that you are in danger, is insensate folly. But there are special crises of temptation comparable to the moment when the barrier breaks and the water pours down upon the land. So is it with the temptation of despair. So it is when we are tempted to sudden passion. Is this not true of the evil in society around us? The dragon has been pouring forth streams of water to sweep away the Word of God upon our world. It was so in the days of Pagan persecution; it was so in the days of mediaeval darkness; it was so just before Wyclif, our morning star, and Luther, the minor sun, protested against the evils of their time; it was so at the end of the eighteenth century, when the parsons were dissolute and drunken and fox-hunting; and when Socinian heresy filled Nonconformist pulpits, and when the masses of the people were drenched in stupidity and sin. Such times as these, when the enemy comes in like a flood, recur with periodicity in the history of men. We do well, then, to confess our impotence. You cannot resist that flood by your resolutions, by your pledges, by your endeavours; you may as well throw up your hands at once and cry with Jehoshaphat, "We have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon Thee." At such times we may always count upon God.

II. THE AUGUST AND LONELY WARRIOR depicted in the text. It would seem almost in this chapter as though He was like a warrior resting. He has put off His helmet and His breastplate, and divested Himself of His garments. But suddenly He sees the encroachment of the enemy over the lonely spirit or over the world. He steps forward and wins. He sees that there is none to help; He wonders that there is no intercessor, therefore His arm brings salvation. Mark that word — the arm of the living Christ brings salvation to man when no one else can help him.

III. OUR FATAL LIMITATIONS. Why is it that we are not always conquerors? The answer comes in verses 1-3. There is some fatal hindrance in your life that saps Christ's power.

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

I. We shall take the general statement of the text as referring to THE CONFLICT WHICH IS RAGING IN THE CHRISTIAN'S INNER MAN.

1. It is well for us distinctly to understand the position of the Christian. This is not the land of our triumph, neither is this the period of our rest. There is one whose name is called "the enemy," the "evil one"; he is the leader among your adversaries; hating God with all his might, he hates that which he sees of God in you.

2. The text leads us to look for seasons when this position will be more than ordinarily perilous.

3. It will be well for you who know the spiritual conflict to be thoroughly conscious of your own utter impotence against this terrific danger. What can a man do against a flood?

4. The text, after having plainly bidden us thoroughly realize our position, and after suggesting to us our weakness, bids us turn to our only help, a Helper mysterious but Divine.

5. We have then to fall back as to our present difficulty, whatever it may be, upon spiritual power. If the battle of salvation were to be fought by man alone, then you and I might throw down sword and shield and despairingly give it all up, but when we understand that the Spirit of God has laid bare His holy arm to save us, we are not afraid of the worst moment in the fight.

6. Let us now take two or three instances in which this great truth is conspicuous. This is true of a soul under conviction of sin. After conversion it frequently happens, and especially to those who have been guilty of gross sin before conversion, that temptation comes in with unusual force. Another case sometimes occurs to a Christian, when it is not so much enticement to sin as temptation to doubt.

II. Let us now turn to THE HOLY WAR WITHOUT US. The Christian Church is too conspicuous an object of Divine love not to be the butt of the malice of the powers of darkness.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

These heartening words were spoken to exiles who were preparing to return to the homeland. When they lifted their eyes to the possibilities of return they seemed to gaze upon range after range of accumulating difficulties which would obstruct their journey home. As often as the prophet proclaimed their deliverance they proclaimed their fears. Their fears were aid one by one, but as soon as one was laid another arose! The enemies on the right hand and the left hand, what about them? The hostile peoples will accept their chance, and will come down upon the returning company in destructive array I "When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him." We, too, are exiles returning to the homeland. We, too, have been in the dark realms of captivity, and by His redeeming grace our eyes have been lifted toward the better country. And we, too, are full of uncertainties and fears. There is a desert to traverse, a wilderness to cross, waters to pass through, mountains to climb, and we know not how we may safely reach our journey's end. And particularly are we beset by the enemy, who suddenly and unexpectedly roars down upon our path. But if we have the fears, ours, too, are the promises. Between the enemy and ourselves there shall be erected the standard of the Lord.

1. " When the enemy shall come in like a flood." The figure is surely taken from the riverbeds of their native land. They had looked upon the dry, bleached ravines in time of drought, when scarcely a rivulet lisped down its rocky course. And then the rain had fallen on the hills, or the snow had melted upon the distant mountains, and the waters had torn down like a flood. I have picnicked away up in the solitudes of the higher Tees, when there was only a handful of water passing along, a little stream which even a child could cross. And once I saw what the natives call the "roll" coming away in the distance. Great rains had fallen upon the heights, and this was their issue; in a moment the quiet stream became a roaring torrent, and shouted along in thunderous flood. That, I think, is the figure of my text. Now, what are some of these flood times in life when the enemy comes against us in overwhelming power?(1) There is the flood of passion. Floods always destroy something valuable and beautiful. And so it is with the flood of passion that sweeps through the soul. It always damages the life through which it flows. Some seed of the kingdom, just beginning to germinate, is washed out of the ground. Some tender growth is impaired or destroyed, some little plant of meekness, or gentleness, or faith, or hope, or love. Even onlookers can frequently see the ruin; and to the Lord the fruitful place must become a desert.(2) Sometimes the flood is in the form of a great sorrow, and we are engulfed by it. There is a sorrow appointed of the Almighty, but it is never ordained to hurt or destroy. And yet how often this particular flood, rushing into a life, works havoc with spiritual things. In one of our churches a little while ago a flood occurred, and the two things that were injured were the heating apparatus and the organ. I could not but think of the destructiveness wrought in the soul by the gathering waters of sorrow. Very frequently they put out the fires of geniality, and they silence the music and the song. And so it is with all the perilous waters that arise in human life.(3) Sometimes the flood gathers from a multitudinous contribution of petty cares. Now, whenever a flood in the life damages a life the work is the work of the devil. When I am tempted into overflowing passion, or into excessive sorrow, or into overwhelming care, it is the work of the enemy. I think that if we could realize this we should be greatly helped in these perilous and frequently recurring seasons. If we could only practise our eyes so as to see in the tempting circumstance the face of the evil one we should be less inclined to the snare.

2. "The Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him." King Canute had his regal chair carried down to the flowing tide, and he commanded the waters to retreat. The waters paid no heed, and the mighty flood advanced. But our King raises His standard against the threatening flood, and the retreat is absolutely assured. Have you noticed that wonderfully suggestive passage in the Book of Revelation where a promise is made of help in the time of flood? "And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away at the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his" mouth." That great promise has been abundantly confirmed in countless lives. Even the earth itself is our ally in contending with the foe. The beauties of nature will help us to contend with the forces of evil desire. But we have more than nature as our defence; we have the Lord of nature, the Lord in nature, not so much the supernatural as the Spirit who pervades nature and all things. And so, too, it is in the flood times of sorrow. The Spirit of the Lord will engage for us, "lest we be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow." Have I not seen sorrow come into a life, and it has been entirely a minister of good and never of ill? The devil has not got hold of it, and used it as a destructive flood. It has been a minister of irrigation rather than destruction, and in the moist place of tears beautiful ferns have grown, the exquisite graces of compassion and long-suffering and peace. "The Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard!" Well, then, let Him do it. Do not let us attempt to do it for ourselves. Let us hand it over to Him. "Undertake Thou for me, O Lord." The life of faith just consists in a quiet, conscious, realizing trust in the all-willing and all-powerful Spirit of God.

(J. H. Jowett, M. A.)

We explain the passage thus: Jehovah will come like a river, one hemmed in, which a wind of Jehovah (i.e. a violent tempest) rolls along in rapid course.

(F. Delitzsch, D. D.)

The Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him. —
I. THE STANDARD-BEARER. "The Spirit of the Lord."

II. THE STANDARD. Christ. He is fitly resembled to a standard on the following accounts.

1. The standard is a signal of war. When Christ descended to this lower world, and came upon an expedition of war against the god of this world, and his usurped empire over the children of men, this war was proclaimed (Genesis 3:15).

2. A standard is a signal of peace. When peace is proclaimed the white flag or ensign is displayed. As the appearance of God in the nature of man was a signal of war against hell, death and sin; so it was a signal of peace to man upon earth.

3. A standard is an ensign of victory. So a risen and living Redeemer is a signal of His victory over the powers of hell.

4. A standard is a signal of gathering. When the standard is set up, the army is to gather, volunteers are to be enlisted. The manifestation of Christ in the flesh, and the revelation of Him in the Gospel, is a signal to lost sinners to shake off the tyrannical yoke of sin and Satan, that they may, under Christ's conduct, recover their ancient liberty (Genesis 49:10; Isaiah 11:10).

5. A standard is for direction and order; when the army is to march, the standard goes before, and the soldiers know whereaway to move by the motion of their standard.

III. THE LIFTING UP OF THIS BLESSED STANDARD.

1. The first uplifting of it was in the eternal counsel of Heaven, before ever the foundation of the world was laid (Proverbs 8:23).

2. It was lifted up in the first promise (Genesis 3:15).

3. In the actual incarnation, obedience and death of the Son of God.

4. By the resurrection of Christ from the dead, and His exaltation at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

5. In the dispensation of the everlasting Gospel.

6. When there is any remarkable appearance for Christ and His cause, in a Church or nation, in opposition to any of the works of the devil.

7. When God in His providence breaks and baffles wicked and blood-thirsty persecutors, who were making havoc of His Church, granting them respite and deliverance from trouble.

8. This royal Standard is lifted up by the Spirit of the Lord in the morning of conversion, when through discoveries of the glory of Christ, the soul is determined to make a surrender of its heart, and to lift up the everlasting doors, that this King of glory may come in.

9. The Spirit of the Lord lifts up the Standard in every renewed manifestation and discovery of the glory of Christ, especially after a dark night of desertion, temptation, and despondency.

IV. WHENCE IS IT THAT THE LIFTING UP OF THE STANDARD, OR THE DISPLAYING OF THE GLORY OF CHRIST BY THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD, GIVES A REPULSE TO THE ENEMY, OR DRIVES HIM BACK:

1. The displaying of the glory of Christ by the Spirit of the Lord, sets faith in a lively exercise, which is the great engine whereby we are enabled to overcome Satan, the world, and all our enemies.

2. By displays of the glory of Christ, love is inflamed.

3. Displays of the glory of Christ inspire the soul with courage and strength to oppose the enemy, when he comes in like a flood.

4. Displays of the glory of Christ, by the Word and Spirit of the Lord, dispirit the enemy, though coming in like a flood.

(E. Erskine.)

See, hence, what it is that makes a Church "terrible as an army with banners," to the powers of hell, and the wicked of the world. It is not carnal wisdom and policy; it is not a yielding to the humours of men in the matters of Christ; it is not a squaring our conduct according to the wisdom of this world: no, it is the presence of the Spirit of the Lord, and a following the standard of the Word, which He has given for "a lamp unto our feet, and a light unto our paths."

(F. Delitzsch, D. D.)

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