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Here is another blessed prophecy, full of the Lord Jesus, and of gospel mercies, folded up in him. The prophet speaks of the joy of God's people, when, in the midst of darkness, the light of Christ's coming shall break in upon them. The chapter closeth with threatened judgments to the despisers of his word.
The opening of this chapter is a continuation of the same subject as the former. The Church was there said to be in darkness. And certainly before the coming of Christ, the darkness was uncommonly great: for from the last prophecy delivered by Malachi to the hour in which Zechariah ministered at the altar of incense, there had been no open visions a period of near 350 years; Luke 1:8-42.1.11 .
This blessed account was fulfilled, when the Lord Jesus, preceded by his herald, John the Baptist, manifested himself to Israel. The gospel is full of it. Matthew 4:12-40.4.16 .
The joy here spoken of, is not that carnal joy, which men of the world are seeking after; but the spiritual joy of grace in the heart: and the similitude of harvest-men and warriors is uncommonly beautiful. The husbandman soweth in hope; the soldier warfares in the same: but the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong. The seed sown must pass under a long and anxious process; and the warrior must go through a long and painful campaign, before he can cry, Victory! But the joy of both is great, when the end hath crowned the action. Such is the joy of the spiritual. When the Lord hath broken the yoke of sin and Satan, those foes, more tremendous than all the host of Midian, and brought the soul out of prison, and the prison-house; and when this battle of the warrior, hath been accomplished by the blood of Christ and the fuel of the Spirit's fire; oh! the joy of the soul in Christ Jesus! The Prophet is here, under the spirit of prophecy, speaking of those things as already accomplished, when as yet Christ, the sole author and finisher of them, is not come. But this is among the features of prophecy: for what shall assuredly come to pass, is in the divine mind as if already completed. Hence Christ, who was to come in the fulness of time, is called the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, Revelation 13:8 .
Now comes in that blessed prophecy which hath refreshed the Church, and will, as long as time shall be, continue to refresh the Church, in all ages; and which, when compared with the accomplishment, as far as hath been completed in the person and work of the Lord Jesus, and which faith is looking forward to the full completion of, forms one of the most blessed of all subjects, to call up our love, and contemplation, and praise, during a whole life of grace, until faith be swallowed up in glory. Unto us, the Church; a child is born; Jesus, in assuming our nature, takes it up from infancy: for it behoved him in all things to be made like unto his brethren. And he not only came of his own free voluntary will, at the call of God his Father; but He that called him to the service of Mediator, gave him as, his Son, unto the people. These are united views (and most blessed views they are, when seen together) blended in one, of Christ, the Redeemer of his people. His own free-will offering became essentially necessary, to give value and efficacy to all he wrought and suffered. And the authority of Jehovah, in the appointment became equally necessary for faith to act upon, when pleading the efficacy of his merits, and propitiation before God. The Prophet having thus introduced him, now gives some of his adorable names, which, like the beautiful constellation of the heavens, becomes a cluster of glories all in one, to point out the infinite loveliness and greatness of his person, and his transcendent excellencies in all his offices, characters, and relations. It would take a volume of itself, to set forth the Lord Jesus under the several names the prophet hath here distinguished him by; and these are but a few of the numberless precious names, in which the scriptures reveal Christ, by which his people know him, and make use of him as their daily necessities and his glory require. His name shall be called Wonderful, saith the Prophet. But who is able to show, to what extent it is so? The wonders of his person, as God and as man, and as both, forming, one Christ; the wonders of his essence, nature, and perfections; the wonders of his offices, characters, and relations; the wonders of his incarnation, birth, life, ministry, labours, death, resurrection, ascension, and all the great events he is carrying on now in glory: the wonders of the redemption he hath wrought, is now accomplishing, and will accomplish; the wonders of his love, grace, mercy, and fellowship, in all its heights, and depths, and breadths and lengths; the wonders of his saving grace, in the hearts of men, and in thy heart, my soul, to thee; the greatest wonder of any, that after so much grace, and mercy, and thy repeated rebellions, the spark is not extinguished, the smoking flax is not put out, nor the bruised reed broken; which all hell is forever trying to accomplish, and thine own unworthy and unbelieving heart too often joining in the confederacy to bring to pass! Is not his name wonderful? And doth not his grace to thee make thee a wonder to thyself, in consequence of it? Oh! thou wonderful Lord! thou unerring, faithful, kind, tender counsellor, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge! Oh! thou mighty God! thou all-sufficient Jesus! to see the purchase of thy blood, and thy Father's gift completed and made effectual! Oh! thou everlasting Father! in all things everlasting, in love, in provision; in care, in security a blessed eternity of all relations in one art thou, to thy people. And surely thou art the Prince of peace, for thou hast made our peace by the blood of thy cross, and hast commanded peace forever Oh! for grace to know thy name, and by every name to put our trust in thee: in thy name to rejoice all the day, and in thy righteousness to make our boast! Surely everything in thy kingdom must correspond to the greatness of thy name. It must be an increasing kingdom, a righteous kingdom, a peaceable kingdom, a glorious kingdom, yea, an everlasting kingdom, that shall have no end. Thy Father's zeal will take effectual care of this: for thou layest out all for thy Father's glory; and the whole purposes of salvation are that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ. Oh! for grace to bless a covenant God in Christ, for all these wonders of redemption, and now begin the song, which will never end in eternity: Salvation to God and the Lamb!
What is here said, though it may have a peculiar reference to the state of the Church in the days of the prophet, is not so limited, but that it hath respect to the Church in all ages. The Lord hath sent his word, his redemption, unto his people, and it hath lighted unto the ends of the earth. But, alas! even to the present hour, who hath believed over report, may every servant of the gospel exclaim, and say, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? Neither judgments nor mercies, neither prosperous nor humbling providences, though accompanying the Lord's word, will procure reverence to the Lord's commands. If the Lord smites in one dispensation, the proud unhumbled heart will seek comfort from another; and though the Lord throw down the building sin hath erected, yet sin will rear another. Hence the Prophet cries out, and every gracious looker-on joins in the same confession, "This is the sad cause, why . judgments continue, the Lord's anger is not removed, but his hand is stretched out still!"
Here is the sad cause of the Prophet's lamentation, and a miserable close he makes indeed of the sorrowful subject, at every termination: for the thing explains itself. The Lord corrects in mercy; but men regard it not. The Lord humbles his people, in their houses and families; in their offices and rank; in their connections and relations; but it is all the same. Though the lofty be brought down, and the ancient and honourable be made low; though death enter in at their windows, and their young men be cut off, and distress follow the fatherless and widows; the judgments do not reclaim; no man repenteth him of his wickedness, saying what have I done? Jesus and his salvation are not sought after, nor regarded. They refuse to hear the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely! Hence the prophet closeth this paragraph as the former, and takes up the same woeful lamentation.
If the Reader will compare this chapter in the several parts of it, with Leviticus 26:0 , he will find a solemn explanation given of what is here said, and mark the progression of divine visitations in both. Everything manifests, that when the Lord smites, it is to reform: and when the calamities the Lord sends, (as here marked,) are brought to the highest pitch when men, like an army besieged and without provision, are reduced to the extremity of eating the flesh of their own arm: if these awful visitations be unaccompanied with grace; depend upon it, if the Lord cease to correct, judgments are at hand. Hence the Prophet again repeats, as the running lamentation of each distressing view of the subject, "These are the sad causes of the Lord's just anger, " For the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the Lord of hosts!
MY soul! behold in Israel's history, the real history of all men by nature; and the one universal cause of the Lord's controversy with the sons of men. All have sinned, and come short of God's glory: And think, my soul, what a mercy it is, that the Lord doth correct. But for this, there would be no hope of a reform. One of the most tremendous scriptures, is that, which the Lord proclaims concerning the incorrigible, when giving them up to fulfil the measure of their iniquities: So will I make my fury toward thee to rest, and my . jealousy shall depart from thee. Lord! I would say for myself, and for every poor sinner like myself, give us not up to eat the fruit of our own devices. It is better to suffer now, than to perish forever. But oh! accompany thy corrections with thy grace; and cause thy children to hear the rod, and who hath appointed it.
Precious Jesus! how blessed is it, under such circumstances, to look at those sweet promises, which are given in this chapter concerning thee, and thy great salvation, by whom alone all deliverances are wrought. Had it not been for thee, thou gracious glorious Lord! though the Lord's anger had been stretched out to all eternity, not a soul could have found the possibility of returning to him. His justice must have burned to the lowest hell: neither could it have been satisfied forever, Hail! thou almighty Deliverer of thy people! we welcome thy coming in the name of the Lord! Blessed forever be the joyful sound, that unto us a child is born; unto us a son is given! Oh! the unspeakable felicity, that the government is upon thy shoulder; and that all power is thine, in heaven and in earth. Give then, thou dearest Lord, to thy people, to know thee, by every endearing name and in every glorious character. Be thou to me, to each, to all, our wonderful Counselor, our mighty God, our everlasting Father, our Prince of Peace! And since in ourselves, and in all our circumstances, we are nothing, can do nothing, and by reason of sin are worse than nothing; oh, Lord, do thou carry on thy work with power in our souls; and of the increase of thy government and peace let there be no end. Let it be ever growing, and still to grow. Give an increase of grace, in every heart of thy redeemed upon earth. And even when thou shalt have brought home thy ransomed from earth to heaven, and the whole work and glory of redemption is then fully manifested to be thine; yet, blessed Jesus, even then, when thou shalt have delivered up the kingdom of thy mediatorial power, and Jehovah in his threefold character of person is glorified in the salvation of the Church; then, then, thou adorable Redeemer, thou wilt still, be the glorious Head, and cause, and source; of all the blessedness of thy Church and people; and every new gift of felicity they enjoy, they will enjoy in thee, and from thee, and with thee, and it will be Jesus, and his church, to be glorious and going on in glory, forever and forever, Oh! the wonders and blessedness of salvation in Christ!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Isaiah 9". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany