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A LESSON FROM IDOLATERS
‘For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the Name of the Lord our God for ever and ever.’
A very peculiar use is made of missions in our text. The heathen are surveyed, not as abandoning their falsehood and superstition, but as adhering to them with the greatest earnestness and tenacity. False gods they have, but they refused to forsake them; dark and oppressive is their service, but they will not abandon it. And from this steadfastness of the heathen the argument is drawn for making the resolve, ‘and we will walk in the Name of the Lord our God for ever and ever,’ as though it had been urged: If the pagan adhere to what is false, shall we forsake what is true? If he serve his idols with constancy, inexcusable must we be if we turn aside from the Lord our God.
I. What the missionary ascertains is, not that idolaters refuse to add to the number of their idols, but only that they will not exchange their idols.—If they admit new, they nevertheless adhere to the old. Shall the pagan adhere to his idols, because they were the idols of their fathers?—and shall we virtually revolt from that God Whom our ancestors served, and Whose truth, though at the cost of substance and life, they handed down to us as the most precious possession? Shall the pagan hold that his idols are the tutelary deities of the land, and therefore not to be forsaken; and shall we turn away from that Almighty Being, Who hath mercifully spread over our land the shield of His protection, or kept us within the hollow of His hand?
II. Far-off islands preach to us.—The vast districts of the earth, which are yet darkened by superstition, assume the office of counsellors. Cities where the Cross of Christ has no place; mountains whose summits are yet altars to the stars, forests whose recesses shroud lying vanities; rivers whose waters are thought to wash away sin—all these combine to give forth an utterance which chides the wavering, rebukes the unstable, and warns the indifferent. The heathen are not to be persuaded to forsake what is cruel, and oppressive, and galling; whereas we scarcely need persuasion to induce us to forsake what ‘hath the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.’ They observe with all vigour what is stern and revolting, and we too often treat with all carelessness what is as gracious as it is glorious. Let us take a lesson from idolatry, and be shamed by it into zeal for our religion and faithfulness to our God. There are other spectators of our course besides angels, other witnesses than the noble army of martyrs. The millions of China look on; the untold tribes of Africa take the post of observation; the broad Pacific bears upon its bosom a multitude of watchers, and if we fall away from the faith, a cry shall be heard from heathen lands, a cry against which there will be no appeal.
‘Touched by Micah’s vision of a glorious future, the people enthusiastically declare their determination to walk in the Name of Jehovah for ever. In reply, Micah foretells that though Israel must go to Babylon, then a mere dependency of Assyria, and though many heathen nations would gather against her ( Micah 4:10-11), yet she would be redeemed, her first dominion would return to her, and she would trample on her foes, as oxen tread the threshing-floor.’
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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Micah 4". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent