Thus said the Lord GOD; I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them…
I. WHY SHOULD WE AROUSE OURSELVES TO THIS INQUIRY AT THE HANDS OF THE LORD?
1. It is a great privilege to be allowed to inquire at the hands of the Lord.
2. Prayer is also to be looked upon as a precious gift of the Spirit of God. It is by virtue of covenant promise and covenant grace that men are made to pray: for the Lord has said, "I will pour out upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants in Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications.
3. We must pray, because it is a needful work in order to the obtaining of the blessing. The Church of God is to be multiplied; but "Thus saith the Lord God, I will yet for this be inquired of."
4. It is a business which is above all others remunerative. "I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them; I will increase them with men like a flock." That is a beautiful idea of multitude. You have perhaps seen an immense flock, a teeming concourse of congregated life. Such shall the increase of the Church be. But then it is added, to enhance the blessing, "As the holy flock, as the flock of Jerusalem in her solemn feasts." This to the Jewish mind conveyed a great idea of number.
5. The results of prayer as I have already described them are such as greatly glorify God. "And they shall know that I am the Lord." When the kingdom of God is largely increased in answer to prayer, there is a wonderful power abroad to answer the arguments of sceptics, and put to silence the ribaldry of ungodly tongues. "This is the finger of God," say they.
II. HOW SHOULD THIS DUTY BE PERFORMED?
1. First, it should be by the entire body of the Church. For this will I be inquired of by" — By the ministers? By the elders? By the little number of good people who always come together to pray? Look! Look carefully! "By the house of Israel"; that is by the whole company of the Lord's people.
2. Next, the successful way to inquire of the Lord is for the Church to take personal interest in the matter. "Thus saith the Lord God; I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them." If the sinner will not repent, let us break our heart about him. Let us go and tell the Lord his sins, and mourn over them as if they were our own. If men will not believe, let us by faith bring them before God, and plead His promise for them. If we cannot get them to pray, let us pray for them and intercede on their behalf, and in answer to our repentance they shall be made to repent, in answer to our faith they shall be led to believe, and in reply to our prayer they shall be moved to pray.
3. The blessing will come to the prayer of a dependent Church. "I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them"; that is to say, they will not dream of being able to do it for themselves, but will apply to God for it. Christian men should never speak of getting up a revival. Where are you going to get it up from? We must wait upon God, conscious that we can do nothing of ourselves, and we must look to the Holy Spirit as the alone power for the conversion of souls. If we pray in this dependent way we shall obtain an overflowing answer.
4. Again, the way to obtain the promised blessing is that the prayer must be offered by an anxious, observant, enterprising Church. The expression used, "I will be inquired of," implies that the people must think and ask questions, must argue and plead with God. It is well to ask Him why He has not given the blessing, and to urge strong reasons why He should now do so.
5. If we are to obtain the blessing in answer to prayer, that prayer must be offered by a believing Church. Answers to prayer do not now appear to us to be contrary to the laws of nature; it seems to us to be the greatest of all the laws of nature that the Lord must keep His promises and hear His people's prayers. Gravitation and other laws may be suspended, but this cannot be. "Oh," says one, "I cannot believe that." No, and so your prayers are not heard. You must have faith, for if faith be absent you lack the very backbone and soul of prayer.
III. ON WHAT GROUND CAN ANYBODY BE EXCUSED FROM THE DUTY OF PRAYER? Answer: On no ground whatever.
1. You cannot be excused on the ground of common humanity; for if it be so that God will save sinners in answer to prayer, and I do not pray, what am I? Surely the milk of human kindness has been drained from my breast, and I have Ceased to be human, and if so, it is idle to talk of communion with the Divine.
2. Next, can any excuse be found in Christianity for neglect of prayer? In God's name, how can we make a profession of Christianity if our hearts do not ascend in mighty prayer to God for a blessing on the sons of men?
3. But perhaps an excuse is found in the fact that the Christian man does not feel that his prayer is of very much consequence, for his heart is in a barren state. Ah, well, this is no excuse, but an aggravation of the sin. At such a time there should be a double calling upon God that the Spirit of prayer may be vouchsafed.
4. I do charge you, professing Christians, not to restrain prayer to God for a blessing, for, if you do, you hurt all the rest of the brotherhood. Get a bit of dead bone into your body and it harms first the member in which it is placed and subsequently the whole body. So if there is a prayerless professor among us, he is an injury to the entire company.
5. Now, surely we ought to be much in prayer, because after all we owe a great deal to prayer. Those who were in Christ before me prayed for me: should I not pray for others?
6. I am afraid I shall have also to plead that I must suspect your soundness in the faith, brethren, if you do not join in prayer. Correct opinions are a poor apology for heartlessness towards our fellow men.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them; I will increase them with men like a flock.