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The Treasures of Darkness
I. There are Treasures of Darkness. Darkness is approached from two standpoints in God's Book. From one viewpoint it is something to be feared, dreaded, loathed. But darkness is shown to us from another angle of vision, and then it is desirable, inestimable in worth.
He who knows what is in darkness assures us that He will give us the treasures of darkness. But what is the literal meaning of these words? In the East of old, instead of depositing their wealth with the bankers as we do, they would dig deep pits or excavate and construct subterranean chambers in which they placed their treasures. So that as a matter of fact most of their possessions were 'treasures of darkness'.
God promises Cyrus that he shall tap the buried wealth of Babylon. But what does this promise mean for us? In an infinitely grander sense God promises to us in the ends of the ages 'the treasures of darkness'.
1. There are treasures of literal darkness. When darkness covers the earth millions on millions of worlds flash upon our view, all mansions of the Father's house. The stars in their 'mystic dance' are treasures of darkness.
Many of life's best gifts are 'treasures of darkness'. Is not sleep such a treasure?
The world of nature abounds in illustrations of this fact. Every lovely flower is a treasure of darkness: it springs up through the dark earth and blooms a parable of beauty. Every harvest is a treasure of darkness. The whole circle of Nature illustrates abundantly the idea of my text. Our debt to darkness is incalculable.
2. There is mental darkness. In a sphere of darkness we dwell, and but here and there are glints of light Very depressing this darkness is, but God gives us treasures out of it. Facts, truths, philosophies, aspirations that are grander than realizations, dreams that are the true realities.
3. Are there treasures in social darkness? Sickness, bereavement, disappointment, business anxiety or reverses. Dark are these experiences. Yet God gives treasures out of them. Philip Melanchthon said, 'Were I without cares I should be without prayers'. It is true of us all. Prayer is a treasure of darkness. The Bible is a treasure of darkness. It is but as a great book to us till sorrow comes, and then it becomes, as it is in truth, the Word of God.
Marvellous treasures come out of social gloom. In literature, in art, but supremely in perfected character, we are always discovering the encircling power of sorrow.
4. Dare we ask if God gives treasures of moral darkness? This is the most gruesome darkness the world knows. Bushnell describes moral evil as 'the night side of creation'. And we owe much to it We speak only of sin that has been repented of. We are humbler, more tender, more ardent after holiness, more instinct with evangelistic sympathy, because of the past sins over which we grieve.
5. The mortal darkness will inevitably fall upon us ere long. What men call death will shadow us. Strong consolation. The peace of resignation. Hope on the atoning sacrifice of the Saviour. Blessed anticipations and outlooks. These are treasures of that final darkness.
II. The Treasures of Darkness may be our possession. All life's darkness may yield us enrichment. Our ignorance, our depression, our sorrow, our very sin, our death itself. Out of all our anxieties, loss, annoyance, tribulation, may come a wealth which can never take to itself wings and fly away.
Dinsdale T. Young, Unfamiliar Texts, p. 233.
Many things are done without our intelligence. Our intelligence is oftentimes our only difficulty and only danger. It would often be happier for us if we had no heads. We are ruined by what we think we da know, and if any man thinketh he knoweth anything as it really is, he knows nothing. The Bible is full of explanations that are clear, simple, definite, and final. There is no book so final as the Bible. There are times when we want the final voice; that is to say, a voice which we feel is final; there cannot be anything beyond it that is contrary to it. That is the strength of every message, that is the sole power of every true ministry. A man who is uncertain of his message had better not deliver it.
I. Concerning the Bible answer I make three submissions. First, that it is adequate. The Bible says, The Lord reigns; you do not see everything just as it is in its real purpose and its full scope, you are walking in shadows, the colours are all blurred, but wait for the end, for the upsumming of life's mystery by the God of life, and God will justify Himself. There is but one Lord, there is only one enduring throne; you must not, therefore, judge anything before the time, the hour of judgment has not come, criticism must not yet be invoked, because the whole case is not before us; wait, wait patiently; O rest in the Lord. We have in this chapter and in the text great voices which bring with them their own adequacy: 'I have holden thee; I will go before thee; I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron; I will give thee the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places; I have even called thee by thy name; I have surnamed thee; I have girded thee, though thou hast not known Me.'
II. The explanation is reasonable. It puts a living Personality at the head of things, it dismisses blind fate and enthrones a living God: no matter if He be invented, there He is; the imagination that invented fate has but a poor wing compared with the imagination that invented God. It is reasonable to believe that things are governed by an Infinite Intelligence; it is reasonable to suppose that God, having made this universe, has not discarded it: He who created the universe pledged Himself by that very act to redeem it; creation and redemption are terms implying one another.
III. The explanation is not only adequate and reasonable, but it is ennobling. All this was worth going through because of the issue; we are being watched, inspired, guided. Once let that faith get hold of the soul, and that faith will mean Sabbath day, a holy peace, a celestial, unruffled tranquillity. We are being educated, moulded, we are being made meet for the master's service, we are having another faculty added to the sum-total of our present manhood; we are being refined, purified, chastened.
Joseph Parker, City Temple Pulpit, vol. vii. p. 39.
References. XLV. 5. T. G. Selby, The Imperfect Angel, p. 50. XLV. 7. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. iv. No. 183. R. J. Campbell, A Faith for Today, p. 107. XLV. 15. G. F. Williams, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxxviii. 1890, p. 309. J. Leckie, Sermons Preached at Ibrox, p. 94. R. F. Horton, The Hidden God, p. 3. XLV. 15-19. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Isaiah, p. 326.
Compare the words with which Mr. G. T. Romanes closed his Darwin, and after Darwin in 1892: 'As I said, at the beginning, the religious thought of our generation has been more than ever staggered by the question Where is now thy God? But I have endeavoured to show that the logical standing of the case has not been materially changed; and when this cry of reason pierces the heart of Faith it remains for Faith to answer now, as she always answered before and answered with that trust which is at once her beauty and her life Verily thou art a God that hidest Thyself.'
References. XLV. 19. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. ix. No. 508. XLV. 22. Ibid. vol. ii. No. 60; vol. xlviii. No. 2805; vol. 1. No. 2867. David Macrae, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lii. 1897, p. 363. R. J. Campbell, ibid. vol. lvi. 1899, p. 312; see also A Faith for Today, p. 29. XLV. 24, 25. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xlviii. No. 2793. XLVI. 1-4. Ibid. vol. xxxiv. No. 2056. XLVI. 4. Ibid. vol. ii. p. lxxxi. J. D. Jones, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxvii. 1905, p. 407. J. Page Hopps, Sermons of Sympathy, p. 83. XLVI. 4-11. P. H. Hall, The Brotherhood of Man, p. 157.
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Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Isaiah 45". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13