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THE OBJECTS OF THE DIVINE FAVOUR
Isaiah 66:1-2. Thus saith the LORD, the heaven is My throne, &c.
In opposition to their formality, &c., a great truth is here asserted; viz.: That the special object of Jehovah’s gracious regard is the contrite and lowly spirit, who, with reverence and godly fear, offereth to Him sincere spiritual worship. This truth is unfolded in a threefold aspect—I. BY WAY OF REPROOF.
1. The pernicious notion that merely ritual and external service is acceptable to God is denounced and condemned. The reproof of the text is equally applicable to all that is unspiritual in religion at the present day—all heartless formality and Pharisaic ritualism.
2. Self-righteous pride is here rebuked and condemned. The Jews prided themselves in their splendid temple and their gorgeous ritualism. II. BY WAY OF INSTRUCTION. I. The text implies that the God of nature is likewise the God of grace and salvation. There are some who profess to worship the God of nature, but who ignore and deny the God of redemption in Christ. They are one and the same.
2. The human soul, in its sinful and degraded state, is an object of greater interest and value in the sight of God than all the material universe.
3. God’s gracious and approving regard is connected with a specific state of mind on the part of man. III. BY WAY OF CONSOLATION. Consolation to a man of a poor and contrite spirit.
1. God looks upon the contrite spirit—
(1) To heal its anguish.
(2) To enrich and exalt him.
(3) To comfort and protect him.
(4) In approbation of their worship. Pomp and pageantry he spurns, &c.
(5) To dwell with him for ever. Let the ungodly remember that God looketh upon them also, but not with pleasure and approbation.—E. Roberts: The Penny Pulpit, New Series, No. 787.
I. MAN’S LOOK (Micah 7:7). Man needs help. Where is he to look?
1. Personal. Whatever it may cost, whoever else will not, I will.
2. Reliance—“unto.” In weakness, confusion, difficulty.
3. Object—“the Lord.” He is able, willing, has promised to help.
II. GOD’S LOOK.
1. God has promised to look, i.e., after. “I will.” His look is one of power, and it means help and protection.
2. Object—poor, needy. “Him that hath no helper” applies both to temporal and spiritual concerns of God’s people.
3. Contrite, repentant (Isaiah 57:15).
4. One who has reverence for God’s Word. Tries to keep it; fears to break it. Let us look to God, and God will look to us.—John R. Taft, M.A.: The Study and Homiletic Monthly, 1879, p. 163.
I. The character of those who are the peculiar objects of the Divine regard. II. God’s regard to such characters. To turn away the face is expressive of disgust, disdain, &c.; to look is to approve, to care, to bless. The text expresses Divine approval, care, blessing. Conclusion:
1. How different the characters whom God esteems to those the world delights in!
2. What admirable condescension in God (Psalms 8:3-5).
3. What encouragement to, the penitent (1 John 1:0).
4. What a source of terror to hypocrites, pharisees, &c.—R. Watson: Sermons and Outlines), pp. 285–288.
I. God’s grandeur. II. Self-sufficiency. III. All-sufficiency. IV. Condescension.
Isaiah 66:3. Formal worship. I. Its features. II. Offensiveness to God. III. Utter worthlessness (pp. 625–627).
Isaiah 66:4. I. The offence. Impenitence—aggravated transgressions, wilful contempt. II. The punishment. Delusion, fear, ruin.—J. Lyth, D.D. (See outlines on Isaiah 57:15.)
Isaiah 66:5. Hear the Word of the Lord, ye that tremble, &c.
In all ages, true and false professors of religion have been found within the precincts of the Church. So in Isaiah’s time, &c. The hypocritical party, instead of being humbled, &c., grew bolder in sin, and presumed upon their outward relationship to God. But the prophet reminds them that the worship of God must be suited to His nature—spiritual, &c.
I. The distinguishing character of acceptable worshippers. This fear arises from—
1. Their tender love and reverence for the Author of the Word.
2. A settled delight in the holiness of that Word.
3. Produced alike by the terror of the threatenings and the sweetness of the promises.
II. The special regard which God pays to them.
1. He looks upon them.
2. He dwells with them.
3. He vindicates their cause from the rebuke of enemies.
4. He brings them for ever to dwell with Him.—S. Thodey.
TRAVAILING FOR SOULS
Isaiah 66:8. As soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth, &c.
That we may obtain a clear, comprehensive, and impressive view of the doctrine involved in this declaration, let us inquire—I. What does this travail of the Church imply? Intense prayerful desire for the salvation of souls; a strong and unwavering faith that souls will be saved when the right means are used, &c. Will manifest itself in various ways. The Word of God, and the annals of the Church furnish numerous and stimulating illustrations. What do you know of this travail? II. Why is it necessary?
1. God has so appointed it.
(1) It is the order of nature. Lies at the basis of all secular success—if there be no labour there will be no profit, &c.
(2) As in the natural so in the spiritual world. The history of the Church is a continuous illustration. Equally true with individuals.
2. The appointment is highly advantageous, e.g.—
(1) Exercises the graces.
(2) Qualifies for the proper nurture of the offspring. III. How can it be realised? Not by simply desiring it, &c. Such is the constitution of the mind, that if you want to awaken concern respecting any subject, you must fix your attention upon facts adapted to induce it. No laek of facts suited to awaken intense longing for the salvation of souls. When this concern is awakened, take care that it is cherished. IV. What will be the result? The rapid increase of the Church (see context). When the Church is really anxious for conversions to Christ, sinners will soon become anxious to be converted. What a privilege and responsibility is placed in our hands! Conclusion: Are you deeply concerned for your own salvation, &c.? (See Dr. Jenkyn’s, “The Union of the Holy Spirit and the Church,” pp. 265–288; C. H. Spurgeon, “Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit,” No. 1009).—Alfred Tucker.
Isaiah 66:8-9. I. Zion’s increase. Unprecedented. Sudden. Extensive. Certain. Continuous. II. The effect of Divine power in conjunction with human efforts.
Isaiah 66:10-13. I. The consolations awaiting Zion. II. The joy of those that love her.—Dr. Lyth. (See outlines on Isaiah 54:1-3; Isaiah 60:8.)
Isaiah 66:13. As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you, &c.
I. THE CONSOLATION PROMISED.
1. Divine in its origin.
2. Rational in its nature—intelligent, consistent with reason, as well as according to faith.
3. Free in its bestowment.
4. Select in its subjects.
II. THE MANNER IN WHICH CONSOLATION IS AFFORDED. Not as a stranger, friend, &c. None comforts as a mother—
1. The affection of a mother is warm.
2. The care of a mother is indulgent.
3. The attention of a mother is prompt.
4. The condescension and self-denial of a mother is great.
5. The assiduity of a mother is unwearied. All this instructs us in the Lord’s tenderness and patience towards His children.
III. THE MEANS BY WHICH CONSOLATION IS ENJOYED. “In Jerusalem.” This teaches—
1. The importance of separation from an ensnaring world.
2. The propriety of regular attendance on religious worship.
3. The duty of church membership.
4. The worth of a right spirit in attending Christian ordinances.
But the language of comfort must not be addressed to all (Isaiah 48:22; Isaiah 57:12).—J. Kidd, Fifty-three Sermons, pp. 296–302.
Isaiah 66:13-14. Divine Comfort. I. The people of God often stand in urgent need of comfort (pp. 1–4, 406). II. The source of the most endearing and efficient comfort is God Himself (see other outline on this passage; also pp. 1–4, 407). III The Divine comfort is especially imparted in the sanctuary.
1. Appointed for His people to wait for and receive comfort.
2. The faithful discharge of sanctuary duties yield comfort.
3. The sanctuary is the place where God’s comforting presence is specially manifested. “The Holy Ghost the Comforter.” IV. The bestowment of Divine comfort inspires them with grateful and exultant joy (pp. 407). Conclusion.
1. Do you belong to the privileged community God Himself shall comfort? “Many sorrows shall be to the wicked.”
2. The duty and privilege of God’s people to seek Divine comfort amid all their trials.
3. Those who are Divinely comforted should seek to lead others to the same source of consolation (p. 407).—Alfred Tucker.
THE LORD’S HAND REVEALED
Isaiah 66:14. The hand of the LORD shall be known toward His servants.
I. Some of the ways the hand of the Lord makes itself known toward His servants.
1. In the character they bear.
2. In the work they do.
3. In the sufferings they endure.
4. In all the triumphs of their faith and patience.
II. The condition of this visible display of God’s power. Simply to let it operate upon us and through us. We can, and often do, prevent His hand from being known. There must be humble receptiveness, believing prayer.
III. The effects of this manifestation of the Lord’s hand.
1. It encourages the Lord’s servants.
2. It rebukes the unbelief of the ungodly. Conclusion. Unconverted sinner, the Lord desires to show forth the power of His grace in you. Will you not allow Him to work upon you His miracle of saving power? (See outlines on Isaiah 1:2; Isaiah 59:1).—W. Guthrie, M.A.
Isaiah 66:18-24. The ultimate issue of God’s judgments. I. The revelation of the Divine glory in the sight of all nations. II. The universal proclamation of truth. III. The enlargement and perpetuation of the Church. IV. The constant and universal celebration of the Divine praise. V. The everlasting shame and misery of the wicked.
Isaiah 66:23. I. God is the only true object of worship. Spiritual. Regular. II. His worship shall become universal. III. Shall be constantly perpetuated. What a great work the Church has before it!
Isaiah 66:24. I. The wickedness of the wicked. II. Its punishment. Certain. Terrible. Without alleviation or hope. III. The perpetuation of its moral lessons. (See also “Gatherings from a Ministry”: John Milne, pp. 229–236).—Dr. Lyth.
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Isaiah 66". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29