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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

Isaiah 2

Verse 2

A Vision of the Latter-Day Glories

April 24th, 1859 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)

"And it shall come to pas in the last days that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it." Isaiah 2:2 ., & Micah 4:1 .

The prophets of God wore anciently called seers, for they had a supernatural sight which could pierce through the gloom of the future and behold the things which are not seen as yet, but which God hath ordained for the last times. They frequently described what they saw with spiritual eyes after the form or fashion of something which could be seen by the eye of nature. The vision was so substantial that they could picture it in words, so that we also may behold in open vision, the glorious things which they beheld after a supernatural sort. Let us imagine Isaiah as he stood upon Mount Zion. He looked about him and there were "the mountains that are round about Jerusalem" far outvying it in height, but yielding to Zion in glory. Dearer to his soul than even the snow-capped glories of Lebanon which glittered afar off was that little hill of Zion, for there upon its summit stood the temple, the shrine of the living God. the place of his delight, the home of song, the house of sacrifice, the great gathering-place whither the tribes went up, the tribes of the Lord. to serve Jehovah, the God of Abraham. Standing at the gate of that glorious temple which had been piled by the matchless art of Solomon, he looked into the future and he saw, with tearful eye, the structure burned with fire; he beheld it cast down and the plough driven over its foundations. He saw the people carried away into Babylon, and the nation cast off for a season. Looking once more through the glass he beheld the temple rising from its ashes, with glory outwardly diminished, but really increased. He saw on till he beheld Messiah himself in the form of a little babe carried into the second temple; he saw him there, and he rejoiced; but ere he had time for gladness his eye glanced onward to the cross; he saw Messias nailed to the tree; he beheld his back ploughed and mangled with the whip. "Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows," arid the prophet, and he paused awhile to bemoan the bleeding Prince of the House of David. His eye was now doomed to a long and bitter weeping, for he saw the invading hosts of the Romans setting up the standard of desolation in the city. He saw the holy city burned with fire and utterly destroyed. His spirit was almost melted in him. But once more he flew through time with eagle wing, and scanned futurity with eagle eye; he soared aloft in imagination, and began to sing of the last days the end of dispensations and of time. He saw Messias ones again on earth. He saw that little hill of Zion rising to the clouds reaching to heaven itself. He beheld the New Jerusalem descending from above, God dwelling among men, and all the nations flowing to the tabernacle of the Most High God, where they paid him holy worship. We shall not, to-day, look through all the dim vista of Zion's tribulations. We will leave the avenue of troubles and of trials through which the church has passed and is to pass, and we will come, by faith, to the last days; and may God help us while we indulge in a glorious vision of that which is to be ere long, when "the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it." The prophet saw two things in the vision. He saw the mountain exalted, and he beheld the nations flowing to it. Now will you use your imagination for a moment; for there is a picture here which I can scarcely compare to anything, except one of Martin's magnificent paintings, in which he throws together such masses of light and shade that the imagination is left at liberty to stretch her wings and fly to the utmost height. In the present instance, you will not be able to outstrip the reality, however high you may endeavor to soar; for that which is in our text will certainly be greater than that which the preacher can utter, or that which you may be able to conceive. Transport yourselves for a moment to the foot of Mount Zion. As you stand there, you observe that it is but a very little hill. Bashan is far loftier, and Carmel and Sharon outvie it. As for Lebanon, Zion is but a little hillock compared with it. If you think for a moment of the Alps, or of the loftier Andes, or of the yet mightier Himalayas, this mount Zion seems to be a very little hill, a mere mole-hill insignificant, despicable, and obscure. Stand there for a moment, until the Spirit of God touches your eye, and you shall see this hill begin to grow. Up it mounts, with the temple on its summit, till it outreaches Tabor. Onward it grows, till Carmel, with its perpetual green, is left behind, and Salmon, with its everlasting snow sinks before it. Onward still it grows, till the snowy peaks of Lebanon are eclipsed. Still onward mounts the hill, drawing with its mighty roots other mountains and hills into its fabric; and onward it rises, till piercing the clouds it reaches above the Alps; and onwards still, till the Himalayas seem to be sucked into its bowels, and the greatest mountains of the earth appear to be but as the roots that strike out from the side of the eternal hill; and there it rises till you can scarcely see the top, as infinitely above all the higher mountains of the world as they are above the valleys. Have you caught the idea, and do you see there afar off upon the lofty top, not everlasting snows, but a pure crystal table-land, crowned with a gorgeous city, the metropolis of God, the royal palace of Jesus the King. The sun is eclipsed by the light which shines from the top of this mountain; the moon ceases from her brightness, for there is now no night: but this one hill, lifted up on high, illuminates the atmosphere, and the nations of them that are saved are walking in the light thereof. The hill of Zion hath now outsoared all others, and all the mountains and hills of the earth are become as nothing before her. This is the magnificent picture of the text. I do not know that in all the compass of poetry there is an idea so massive and stupendous as this a mountain heaving, expanding, swelling, growing, till all the high hills become absorbed, and that which was but a little rising ground before, becomes a hill the top whereof reacheth to the seventh heavens. Now we have here a picture of what the church is to be. Of old, the church was like Mount Zion, a very little hill. What saw the nations of the earth when they looked upon it? a humble man with twelve disciples. But that little hill grew, and some thousands were baptized in the name of Christ; it grew again and became mighty. The stone cut out of the mountain without hands began to break in pieces kingdoms, and now at this day the hill of Zion stands a lofty hill. But still, compared with the colossal systems of idolatry, she is but small. The Hindoo and the Chinese turn to our religion, and say, "It is an infant of yesterday; ours is the religion of ages." The Easterns compare Christianity to some miasma that creeps along the fenny lowlands, but their systems they imagine to be like the Alps, outsoaring the heavens in height. Ah, but we reply to this, "Your mountain crumbles and your hill dissolves, but our hill of Zion has been growing, and strange to say, it has life within its bowels, and grow on it shall, grow on it must, till all the systems of idolatry shall become less than nothing before it, till false gods being cast down, mighty systems of idolatry being overthrown, this mountain shall rise above them all, and on, and on, and on, shall this Christian religion grow, until converting into its mass all the deluded followers of the heresies and idolatries of man, the hill shall reach to heaven, and God in Christ shall be all in all." Such is the destiny of our church, she is to be an all-conquering church, rising above every competitor. We may more fully explain this in two or three ways. The church will be like a high mountain, for she will be pre-eminently conspicuous. I believe that at this period the thoughts of men are more engaged upon the religion of Christ than upon any other. It is true, and there be few that will deny it, that every other system is growing old: gray hairs are scattered here and there, although the followers of these religions know it. As for Mahomet, has he not become now effete with grey old age? And the sabre once so sharp to slay the unbeliever hath it not been blunted with time and rested into its scabbard? As for the old idolatries, the religion of Confucius, or of Budha, where are their missionaries, where the old activity that made minor idolatries bow before them? They are now content to be confined within their own limit, they feel that their hour is come that they can grow no further, for their strong man is declining into old age. But the Christian religion has become more conspicuous now than ever it was. In every part of the world all people are thinking of it; the very gates of Japan once fast closed are now open to it, and soon shall the trumpet voice of the gospel be heard there, and the name of Jesus the Son of the Highest shall there be proclaimed by the lips of his chosen servants. The hill is already growing, and mark you, it is to grow higher yet; it is to be so conspicuous, that in every hamlet of the world the name of Christ shall be known and feared. There shall not be a Bedouin in his tent, there shall not be a Hottentot in his kraal, there shall not be a Laplander in the midst of his eternal snow, or an African in that great continent of thirst, that shall not have heard of Christ. Rising higher, and higher, and higher, from north to south, from east to west, this mountain shall be beheld; not like the star of the north which cannot be seen in the south, nor like the "cross" of the south which must give way before the "bear" of the north this mountain, strange to say it, contrary to nature shall be visible from every land. Far-off islands of the sea shall behold it, and they that are near shall worship at the foot thereof. It shall be pre-eminently conspicuous in clear, cloudless radiance gladdening the people of the earth. This I think is one meaning of the text, when the prophet declares "that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains. and shall be exalted above the hills." This, however, is but a small part of the meaning. He means that the church of Christ shall become awful and venerable in her grandeur. It has never been my privilege to be able to leave this country for any time, to stand at the foot of the loftier mountain" of Europe, but even the little hills of Scotland, where half way up the mist is slumbering, struck me with some degree of awe. These are some of God's old works, high and lofty, talking to the stars, lifting up their heads above the clouds as though they were ambassadors from earth ordained to speak to God in silence far aloft. But poets tell us and travelers who have but little poetry say the same that standing at the foot of some of the stupendous mountains of Europe, and of Asia, the soul is subdued with the grandeur of the scene. There, upon the father of mountains, lie the eternal snows glittering in the sun-light, and the spirit wonders to see such mighty things as these? such massive ramparts garrisoned with storms. We seem to be but as insects crawling at their base, while they appear to stand like cherubims before the throne of God, sometimes covering their face with clouds of mist, or at other times lifting up their while heads, and singing their silent and eternal hymn before the throne of the Most High. There is something awfully grand in a mountain, but how much more so in such a mountain as is described in our text, which is to be exalted above all hills, and above all the highest mountains of the earth. The church is to be awful in her grandeur. Ah! now she is despised; the infidel barketh at her, it is all he can do; the followers of old superstitions as yet pay her but little veneration. The religion of Christ, albeit that it has to us all the veneration of eternity about it "For his goings forth were of old, even from everlasting" yet to men who know him not Christianity seems to be but a young upstart, audaciously contending with hoary-headed systems of religion. Ay, but the day shall come when men shall bow before the name of Christ, when the cross shall command universal homage, when the name of Jesus shall stay the wandering Arab and make him prostrate his knee at the hour of prayer, when the voice of the minister of Christ shall be as mighty as that of a king, when the bishops of Christ's church shall be as princes in our midst, and when the sons and daughters of Zion shall be every man of them a prince, and every daughter a queen. The hour cometh, yea, and now draweth nigh, when the mountain of the Lord's house in her awful grandeur shall be established on the top of the mountains. There is yet, however, a deeper and larger meaning. It is just this that the day is coming when the church of God shall have absolute supremacy. The church of Christ now has to fight for her existence. She hath many foes, and mighty ones too, who would snatch the chaplet from her brow, blunt her sword, and stain her banners in the dust; but the day shall come when all her enemies shall die; there shall not be a dog to move his tongue against her. she shall be so mighty that there shall be nought left to compete with her. As for Rome, you shall seek but find it not. It shall be hurled like a millstone in the flood. As for Mahomed's lustful superstition, they shall ask for it, but the imposter shall not be found. As for false gods, talk to the bittern and the owl, to the mole, and to the bat, and they shall tell you where they shall be discovered. The church of Christ at that time shall not have kings of the earth to bind her, and to control her, as if she were but a puny thing, nor shall she have them to persecute her and lift up their iron arm to crush her; but she, then, shall be the queen and empress of all nations; she shall reign over all kings; they shall bow down and lick the dust of her feet; her golden sandals shall tread upon their necks; she, with her scepter, with her rod of iron, shall break empires in pieces like earthen vessels. She shall say, "Overturn! overturn! overturn! until he come, whose right it is; and I will give it HIM" The destiny of the church is universal monarchy. What Alexander fought for, what Ceasar died to obtain, what Napoleon wasted an his life to achieve, that Christ shall have: the universal monarchy of the broad acres of the earth. "The sea is his, and he made it, and his hands formed the dry land." The whole earth shall come, and worship, and bow down, and kneel before the Lord our Maker; for every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. You have now, I think, the meaning of the text, the church growing and rising up till she becomes conspicuous, venerable, and supreme. And now let me pause here a moment, to ask how this is to be done. How is this to be done? I reply, there are three things which will ensure the growth of the church. The first is the individual exertion of every Christian. I do not think that all the exertions of the church of Christ will ever be able to reach the climax of our text. I think we shall see something more than natural agency, even though employed by the Spirit, before the church of Christ shall be exalted to that supremacy of which I have spoken; but, nevertheless, this is to contribute to it. In the olden times, when men raised cairns to the memory of departed kings, it was usual to put a heap of stones over the tomb, and every passer-by threw another stone. In course of age. those mounds grew into small hills. Now the church of Christ in the present day is growing something in that way. Each Christian converted to Christ throws his stone; we each do our measure. By the grace of God let us each make sure of one stone being deposited there, and strive to add another by laboring to be the instruments of bringing someone else to Christ; in this way the church will grow; and as year after year rolls on, each Christian serving his Master, the church will increase; and it shall come to pass in the last times, that even by the efforts of Christ's people, owned by God the Holy Spirit, this mountain shall be highly exalted in the midst of the hills. This however, although all that we can do, is not, I think, all that we have to expect. We can do no more, but we may expect more. Besides, the church of Christ differs from all other mountains in this: that she has within her a living influence. The ancients fabled that under Mount Etna, Vulcan was buried. Some great giant, they thought, lay there entombed; and when he rolled over and over, the earth began to tremble, and the mountains shook, and fire poured forth. We believe not the fable, but the church of God, verily, is like this living mountain. Christ seems to be buried within her; and when he moves himself his church rises with him. Once he was prostrate in the garden; then Zion was but a little hill; then he rose, and day-by-day as he is lifted up his church rises with him; and in the day when he shall stand on Mount Zion, then shall his church be elevated to her utmost height. The feet is, that the church, though a mountain, is a volcano not one that spouts fire, but that hath fire within her; and this inward fire of living truth, and living grace, makes her bulge out, expands her side, and lifts her crest, and onwards she must tower, for truth is mighty, and it must prevail grace is mighty, and must conquer Christ is mighty, and he must be King of kings. Thus you see that there is something more than the individual exertions of the church; there is a something within her that must make her expand and grow, till she overtops the highest mountains, But mark you, the great hope of the church, although it is reckoned madness by some to say it, is the second advent of Christ. When he shall come, then shall the mountain of the Lord's house be exalted above the hills. We know not when Jesus may come. All the prophets of modern times have only been prophets from the fact that they have made profit by their speculations; but with the solitary exception of that pun upon the word, I believe they have not the slightest claim upon your credit; not even men who are doctors of divinity, who can spoil an abundance of paper with their prophesies of second Adventism; "Of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of God." Christ may come this morning; while I am addressing you Christ may suddenly appear in the clouds of heaven. he may not come for many a weary age. but come he must; in the last days he must appear; and when Christ shall come he will make short work of that which is so long a labor to his church. His appearance will immediately convert the Jews. They have looked for Messias a king. there he is, in more than regal splendor. They shall see him. they shall believe on him; he will then tell them that he is the Messiah whom their fathers crucified. Then will they look on him whom they have pierced, and they will mourn for their sin, and gathering round their great Messiah in glorious march they shall enter and be settled in their own land. They shall once more become a great and mighty nation, nay, a Jew shall become a very prince among men, firstborn in the church of God. Then shall the fullness of the Gentiles be converted and all kindreds and people shall serve the Son of David. Mark, the church is to rise first, and when the church has risen to eminence and greatness, the nations will flow unto her. Her rising will not be owing to the nations, but to the advent of Christ, and after she has become great, conspicious, and supreme, then will the nations flow to her. I am looking for the advent of Christ, it is this that cheers me in the battle of life the battle and cause of Christ. I look for Christ to come, somewhat as John Bunyan described the battle of Captain Credence with Diabolus. The inhabitants of the town of Mansoul fought hard to protect their city from the prince of darkness, and at last a pitch battle was fought outside the walls. The captains and the brave men of arms fought all day till their swords were knitted to their hands with blood; many and many a weary hour did they seek to drive back the Diabolians. The battle seemed to waver in the balance, sometimes victory was on the side of faith, and anon, triumph seemed to hover over the crest of the prince of hell; but just as the sun was setting, trumpets were heard in the distance, Prince Emmanuel was coming, with trumpets sounding, and with banners flying, and while the men of mansoul passed onwards sword in hand, Emmanuel attacked their foes in the rear, and getting the enemy between them twain, they went on, driving their enemies at the swords point, till at last, trampling over their dead bodies, they met, and hand to hand the victorious church saluted its victorious Lord. Even so must it be. We must fight on day-by-day and hour-by-hour; and when we think the battle is almost decided against us, we shall hear the trump of the archangel, and the voice of God, and he shall come, the Prince of the kings of the earth: at his name, with terror they shall melt, and like snow driven before the wind from the bare side of Salmon shall they fly away; and we, the church militant, trampling over them, shall salute our Lord, shouting, "Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth." Thus then, have I explained the first part of the text. II. The second part of the text we have to consider, is this sentence "AND ALL NATIONS SHALL FLOW UNTO IT." Here is a figure, perhaps not so sublime, but quite as beautiful as the first. Still endeavor to retain in your minds the picture of this stupendous mountain, reaching above the clouds, seen by all mankind, in either hemisphere, a wonder of nature which could not be accomplished by the ordinary rules of art, but which divine wisdom will be able to perform. Well, wonder of wonders, you see all the nations of the earth converging to this great mountain, as to a common center. Once in the year all the people of Israel were wont to go to the little hill of Zion; and now, once for all, you see, not Israel, but all the nations of the earth comming to this great hill of Zion, to worship the Most High God. The white sails are on the Atlantic, and the ships are 'dying before the wind, even as the bird flitteth through the sky. What bear they? What is their noble cargo? Lo! they come from far, bringing the sons and daughters of Zion from the ends of the earth. See you there the camel and the dromedary, the great caravan passing over the pathless desert? What are these and what is their costly freight? Lo they are bringing the daughters of God, and the sons of Zion up to the Most High God, to worship him. From all parts of the earth you see them coming from the freezing cold and from the burning heat, from the far-off islands of the sea, and from the barren sands they come; they come, all converging towards the great center of their high and holy worship. This we are not to understand of course, literally, but as a figure of the great spiritual fact that all the souls of men shall tend to Christ, and to union with his church. Again, I beg you carefully to observe the figure. It does not say they shall come to it, but they shall "flow unto it." Understand the metaphor. It implies first their number. Now our churches are increased, converts drop into the churches; drop after drop the pool is filled. But in those days they shall flow into it; now it is but the pouring out of water from the bucket; then it shall be as the rolling of the cataract from the hillside, it shall flow into it. Now our converts, however numerous, are comparatively few, but then a nation shall be born in a day. The people shall renounce their gods at once. Whole nations shall of a sudden by an irresistible impulse flow into the church, not one by one, but in one vast mass. The power of God shall be seen in bringing whore rations into the church of God. You have seen the river flowing onward to the sea, with its banks all swollen, bearing its enormous contribution to the boundless ocean. So shall it be in the last days; each nation shall be like a river, rolling towards the foot of this great mountain, the church of the living God. Happy, happy, happy day, when India and China with their teeming myriads, and all the nations of the earth, with their multitude of tongues, shall flow into the mountain of God! But the text conveys the idea not only of numbers, but of (I know the exact word, but then I do not like to use it, for fear some should not know the meaning of it, it means that the nations of the earth shall come willingly to it) spontaneity. That was the word I wanted to use; but wherefore should we use big words; when we might find little ones. They are to come willingly to Christ; not to be driven, not to be pumped up, not to be forced to it, but to be brought up by the word of the Lord, to pay him willing homage; they are to flow to it. Just as the river naturally flows down-hill by no other force than that which is its nature, so shall the grace of God be so mightily given to the sons of men, that no acts of parliament, no state churches, no armies will be used to make a forced conversion. "The nations shall flow unto it." Of themselves, made willing in the day of God's power, they shall flow to it. Whenever the church of God is increased by unwilling converts it loses strength; whenever men join the church because of oppression, which would drive them to make a profession of religion, they do not flow, the church is weakened, end not strengthened, but in those days the converts shall be voluntarily won shall come in willingly by divine grace; they shall flow unto it. But yet again, this represents the power of the work of conversion. They "shall flow to it." Imagine an idiot endeavoring to stop the river Thames. He gets for himself a boat, and there he stands, endeavoring to push back the stream. He objects to it flowing towards the sea. and with his hands he tries to put it back. Would you not soon hear laughter along the banks? Ah, fool, to attempt to stop the stream! Now, the word "flow," here conveys just the idea. "The nations shall flow unto it." The Secularist may rise up and say, "Oh, why be converted to this fanatical religion? Look to the things of time." The false priests may rouse themselves with all their anger to defy Christ, and endeavor to keep their slaves; but all their attempts to stop conversion will be like an idiot seeking to drive back a mighty stream with his puny hands. "All nations shall flow unto it." What an idea it is! Oh, take your stand to-day, like prophets of the Lord, and look into the future. To day the church appears like the dry bed of a torrent; here I stand, and I see a little water flowing in a secret and thread-like stream, amongst the stones. So little is it that I can scarcely detect it, but I take the glass of prophecy, I look far onward, and I see a rolling mass of water, such as is sometimes seen in the rapid rivers of Africa; and there it is, coming with thundering sound. Wait for a few more years, and that torrent, like Kishon's mighty river, sweeping all before it, shall fill this dry bed, and swell on, and on, and on, with tumultuous waves of joy, till it meets the ocean of Christ's universal reign, and loses itself in God. Here you see, then, you have more than your imagination can grasp. This stupendous mountain, and all the nations of the earth vast numbers with immense force spontaneously coming up to the house of the living God. Now, I shall close by a practical address, very brief, and I trust very earnest. Is it not a great subject for praise that the nations of the earth may flow to the hill of God and to his house? If I were to tell you that all the nations of Europe were climbing the sides of the Alps, you would ask me, "And what benefit do they gain thereby? They must pass over the slippery fields of ice and they may lose their lives in the midst of the bottomless chasms that are overhung by the mighty precipices; they may suddenly be overwhelmed and buried in the all-destroying avalanche, and should they reach the summit they must fall down exhausted. What is there that men should covet in those barren heights; rarefied air and cold would soon destroy them, should they attempt to exist there." Ah, but it is not so with God's hill. There shall be no snow upon its summit, but the warmth and light of Jehovah's love, there shall be no chasms in its side wherein souls may be destroyed, for there shall be a way, and a highway, (the unclean shall not pass over it) a way so easy that the wayfaring man shall not err therein. The mountains of which we read in Scripture were some of them such, that if they were accessible no one would desire to climb them. There were bounds set round about Sinai, but had there been no bounds who would hare wished to ascend it? A mountain that burned with fire, and upon which there was a sound as of a trumpet waxing exceeding loud and long. No, brethren, we are not come to a mountain like Sinai with its supernatural thunders; we are not come to a hill bare, and barren, and bleak, and difficult to climb, like the mountains of earth; but the hill of God, though it is a high hill, is a hill up which on hands and knees the humble penitent may readily ascend. Ye are come to a mountain which is not forbidden to you. there are no bounds set about it to keep you off, but you are freely bidden and freely invited to come to it. And the God who invited you will give you grace to come. If he has given you the will to come, he will give you grace to climb the sides of the hill, till you shall reach its upper glories, and stand on its summit transported with delight. While I am talking about the nations that will flow to Christ, might we not weep to think that there are so many in this congregation that are not flowing to Christ but are going from him? Ah! soul; what are the splendours of the Millennium to thee, if thou art his enemy? For when he tramples his foes in his hot displeasure, thy blood shall stain his garments, even as the garments of the wine-pressers are stained with the blood of the grape. Tremble, sinner, for the advent of Christ must be thy destruction though it shall be the church's Joy and comfort. Ye say, "Come quickly." Know ye not that to you the day of the Lord is darkness and not light, for that day burneth as an oven, and they that are proud and do wickedly shall be as stubble, and the fire shall consume them with burning heat. Oh! ye people that to-day hear the words of Jesus! ye are now this day invited to come to the mountain of his church, on which stands his cross and his throne. Ye weary, heavy laden, sin-destroyed sin-ruined souls, ye that know and feel your need of Jesus ye that weep because of sin, ye are bidden to come now to Christ's cross. to look to him who shed his brood for the ungodly, and looking to him, you shall find peace and rest; so that when he cometh with rainbow wreath, and robes of storm, you shall be able to see him, not with alarm and terror, but with joy and gladness. for you shall say, "Here he is, the man who died for me has come to claim me, he who bought me has come to receive me; my judge is my Redeemer, and I will rejoice in him." Oh! turn ye, ye English heathens turn ye unto God! ye inhabitants of London, some of you as vile as the inhabitants of Sodom. turn ye, turn ye to God! O Lord Jesus! by thy grace turn every one of us to thyself! Bring in thine elect; let thy redeemed rejoice in thee; and then let the fullness of the nations flow unto then, and thine shall be the glory, for ever and ever.

Verse 11

Infallible Sign of Revival

November 12 , 1876 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)

"The Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. Isaiah 2:11

In the eternal past the Lord alone was exalted. When He dwelt alone of ever the earth was, and when He commenced the mighty works of His creation, and the universe sprang into being at the fiat of His unhindered will, He alone was exalted. He made multitudes of creatures; perhaps we have no idea how many of them there were, and in what varied forms intelligent beings were created; but the Lord alone was exalted. Every angel adored Him: every creature knew its Lord. It was an ill day when there broke out a rival spirit, and when evil began to set up its throne in opposition to the God of good. The leader of the angels-- the light bearer, sought to erect a rival throne. "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning" Isaiah 14:12 . Then, by and by, in process of time, upon this world God's glory was dimmed; here, too, another spake and was believed, and God was doubted. Another claimed man's love and gained it, and God was disobeyed; on earth no longer was the Lord alone exalted as He had been in the quiet glades of Eden when our first parents worshipped none but God, and counted it the very cream and flower of their being that they might serve the Most High who had made them what they were. New, look where we may in this poor, fallen world, the Lord alone is not exalted; but there are lords many and gods many-- spiritual wickednesses and principalities of evil-- which set themselves up in opposition to the great King of kings and Lord of lords. Yet as surely as Jehovah liveth, He will win the victory in this conflict. Ere the drama of the world's history shall come to a close, it shall be known throughout the entire universe that the Lord, He is God; and the Lord alone shall be exalted. It is a part of the work of grace-- nay, it is the main object of the work of grace, and it is an object also of the work of providence to subserve this great end-- that the Lord alone shall be exalted. For your comfort and for your instruction then, first, notice the occasions when my text has been true. I shall take the text out of its connection, not, I hope, unduly, and show that on a large scale there are several days in which the Lord alone has been exalted, and then we will come back to a little quiet meditation and look into our own experience to see whether there have not been days with us when the Lord alone has been exalted. I. Come then, first, and notice WHEN THE LORD ALONE HAS BEEN EXALTED ON A LARGE SCALE. The Lord alone has been exalted among men whenever He has been pleased to reveal Himself in the plenitude of His power. The revelations under the law were mainly revelations girt with terror. Under the Old Testament dispensation you find God coming out of His place to shake terribly the earth. When He bows the heavens and comes down, the mountains flew at His presence. The Lord alone was exalted in those days when He vindicated His justice and displayed His power against His enemies. Remember the flood when, after so many years of warning, the ark being prepared for the salvation of the believing few, God was pleased to draw up the flood-gates of heaven and to bid the cataracts of earth leap upward instead of downward, till over all the face of the world there was nothing but one mighty all-devouring wave. When in majestic silence the ark floated over the bosom of the world which had become the grave of Jehovah's creatures, then the Lord alone was exalted in that day. And when men had multiplied again upon the face of the earth, and His people had gone down into Egypt; you know well the story, how proud Pharaoh said, "Who is the Lord that I should obey his voice?" Exodus 5:2 . Then Moses came and with many strokes of his mystic rod he afflicted the fields of Zoan, he turned their waters into blood, and slew their fish. He spake and the flies came, and the frogs and the locusts, and that without number; yea, the Lord smote all the first-born of Egypt, the chief of all their strength, and in that night, when a cry went up from every Egyptian household, and the people of Israel were led forth like sheep by the hands of Moses and Aaron, the Lord alone was exalted. Then the nations knew that Jehovah wrought His will among the sons of men. Nor was that all. When in their desperation the Egyptians pursued the Israelites into the very depths of the sea, the Lord burned and looked upon them and troubled the host of Pharaoh and took off their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily, when the sea returned in the fullness of its strength, and the depths had covered them until there was not one of them left, then Miriam's song, "Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously" Exodus 15:1 ,Exodus 15:21 , was but an exposition of our text, "The Lord alone shall be exalted in that day" Isaiah 2:11 ,Isaiah 2:17 . Time would fail me to tell forth all His mighty works, nor is there any need for me to recapitulate the records of the book of the wars of the Lord, "for the Lord is a man of war: the Lord is his name" Exodus 15:3 ; and when He cometh forth to battle, then the Lord alone is exalted in that day. May we never live to see a pestilence sweep through this land! But should such a visitation of God come upon us, then will our houses of prayer be thronged and men will begin to cry unto the Most High. May we never hear the noise of war in our streets! If such a calamity should befall us, and the Lord take the sword of war out of the scabbard, men will begin to learn righteousness. May He be pleased to have mercy upon us and lead us by gentle means to glorify His name. Were He to come in judgement then would the spirit of atheism and of idolatry, which now with brazen faces dare confront the gospel of Christ, betake themselves to darkness in which they were begotten. When the Lord comes forth in terror then is He alone exalted. Let us change the theme now, and see, too, how whenever God comes forth in his great mercy His name alone is exalted. The day when the infant Church of Christ gathered in an upper room and sat there, all its members being of one heart and of one soul, and the Lord revealed His grace by the baptism of the Holy Spirit - when was heard the sound of the rushing mighty wind, when the tongues of fire sat on the disciples-- when they began to speak as the Spirit gave them utterance, and thousands were added to the Church, that was a day when the Lord alone was exalted. Was there any whisper on that day of honour to be given to Peter, or to John, or to James, in the Church of God? Think you there was any trace of the spirit that could say, "I am of Cephas," and "I am of John"? Ah, no. The name of the Lord was very precious to His people that day. They gave glory to the Lord both in the temple and in their own houses, eating their bread with gladness of heart. Only let the Lord show Himself in great blessing, then He alone is exalted. Behold, His enemies fly before Him because of His grace. Well, brethren, it will be even so by and by also "in that day" of which we were reading just now with so much delight, when "the mountain of the Lord's house shall be exalted on the top of the mountains, and all nations shall flow unto it" Isaiah 2:2 . There is to come a day when Christ shall be known and loved of every land. When the dwellers in the wilderness shall bow before him and His enemies shall lick the dust. I am not going into any details or prophetic descriptions of the millennium, but we do expect a day when the gospel shall win its way over this whole globe, and the poor world, instead of being swathed in mist and fog, shall come out of the cloud of her unbelief and out of the darkness of her sin, and shine like her sister stars at the feet of her great Creator. In that day the Lord alone shall be exalted. You will hear no more of the name of Pope, or Patriarch, or great religious leader receiving the chief honour; no great name set in the front of a section of the church shall be shouted in that day; the Lord alone shall be exalted. So again it will be when yet 'farther on in human history the end shall come, when you and I and all of woman born shall stand before the dread tribunal of the last great day; then shall the Lord alone be exalted. There shall be no pomp of kings before that great white throne: there shall be no glare of riches there before the prince of the kings of the earth: honour and fame were so feverishly sought and so highly prized by the sons of men, shall melt away then like the fat of rams. Kings and their serfs, princes and their subjects shall stand together. There shall be no idol gods in that day, nor shall men receive homage of their fellows, but while the earth shall be reeling to its doom, and the heavens themselves dissolving, the Lord alone shall be exalted. Jehovah's great and glorious name shall fill all ears and His majesty shall impress all hearts. May we be found in Christ in that great day! The Lord grant it for His mercy's sake. II. Now, in the second place, I am going to talk to you on humbler topics, endeavoring to bring our subject down to our own experience and to see WHEN THE LORD ALONE HAS BEEN EXALTED ON A SMALLER SCALE. When it is written, the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day, we may understand that what is true on a great scale is equally true on a little scale in God's kingdom. He works according to rule, so that if you split up some great crystal of His providence into as small fragments as you please each fragment shall be found to be crystallised in the same form. So, if in the grand events of history God is to be exalted, you will also find that in the little world of your own experience-- in the history which is only recorded in your own pocket-book-- in the story of your own life-- that God is exalted too. Brothers and sisters, many of you already know, and I pray that others here who as yet do not know it may be brought to know it, that there have been red-letter days in your life when the Lord alone has been exalted. One of the earliest of these blessed days was when you first had a sense of sin. Ah, I had no thought how black I was until that day. I had never dreamed how corrupt was my heart, how vile my nature, how desperate my condition, how near the borders of hell I stood, till then. There came at length that day, in which the light of God shone into my soul and I saw the evil of my state, the danger of my condition, and the horrible rottenness of my whole nature even to the very core. Do you remember such a day in your experience, beloved brethren? I know you do. Oh, what a withering day it was. Your flesh is grass, and do you not remember when the grass withered, and when the flower thereof faded away because the Spirit of the Lord was blowing upon it? Surely the people is grass. Do you recollect when you perceived in your heart a new rendering of that old passage, "And we all do fade as a leaf and our iniquities like the wind have taken us away, when you found your righteousness to be only a fading leaf and the strength of your passions to be like the wind that took you right away and carried you-- you knew not whither? You seemed to be like a sear leaf blown away in a tempest of sin. Before that, you had thought yourself to be very fine; very few were more respectable or honourable than you; if you had not many glittering virtues, yet you felt you had no degrading vices; there was much about you that others might imitate, and if people did not respect you, you felt very angry; you felt they ought to pay great deference to such a one as you were, But you did not feel like this on that day-- not on that day! No. In that day you threw your idols to the moles and to the bats; you wanted to forget that you ever thought you were righteous; you felt ashamed of even your most precious golden idol-- your self-righteousness; you wanted to disown it, and you were afraid anybody should remind you that you ever worshipped it. It seemed such a horrible thing that you should ever have talked about acceptance before God by your good works. Good works! The very thought seemed a sarcasm on God, an irony of the devil. Good works indeed! Your prayers, your tears, your church-goings, your chapel-goings, all seemed like so much dung.' You understood Paul's strong language that day, your own righteousness was as offensive to you as his was to him. You put all your old hopes away with abhorrence. Oh, I know what happened to you, the Lord alone was exalted that day. If anybody had preached a sermon that day about the dignity of human nature, you would have been inclined, like Jenny Geddes, to throw a stool at his head. If anybody had talked that day of the great things man is capable of, and of virtue that still remain in him after the slight mischief of the fall, you would have felt indignant at such infamous falsehood, for God had stripped you bare of all your glory. In that day you felt yourself to be cast into a ditch, and your own clothes abhorred you. But, oh! if any one had preached of the splendour of the great God that day, of the infinite majesty of His holiness, and of His justice, you would in silence have bowed your head and shed tears of contrition which would have been the best form of adoption from your penitent heart. If they had begun to preach the amazing mercy and the love of God in Christ, your heart would have leaped to hear the very sound of it, for there are no two things that ever so sweetly meet together as an empty sinner and a full Christ. When a soul sees itself it has got the eye with which to see Jesus. He that can see his own deformities, shall not be long before he sees the Lord's unspeakable perfections. In that day of self-humbling, and cutting away, and casting down, I know the Lord alone was exalted in your soul. Well, then there came another day in your experience which is very sweet to remember, the day when you saw Jesus hanging on the tree; when you put your trust in him and knew that he had taken away your iniquity and blotted out your sin. Oh, I do remember that day, it was my best marriage day and birthday too; the day when I knew that sin was gone and gone for ever. How bright the cross shone that day! How bright were the eyes of Jesus, and how fair his wounds! Ah, the Lord alone was exalted that day. Had anybody preached to me of the power of sacraments and the magic of priests, I had abhorred them in my inmost soul, and I would have spoken my horror of the thought of giving the glory of the Lord to another. When the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth from all sin, where is the dastard that dares ask me to let him wash me and to let him put away my sin for me? The blood, the blood of Jesus hath taken all our guilt away, once and for ever; and woe betide the man that dares to stand up and put himself side by side with the all-cleansing Christ! That was how we felt. The Lord alone was exalted in that day. We fell just the same today. I am sure if people knew the power of the blood of Christ they could never become slaves to the superstitions of men. If they felt the force of being justified by faith in Jesus Christ they would be like Martin Luther when he sprang from his knees on Pilate's staircase, never to go another step in the weary round of man-made ordinances. What have we to do with these beggarly things when Christ our Lord has set us free and saved us for ever from the wrath to come? A sight of thy cross, O Jesus, makes the priests topple down like Dagon before the ark, and the sacraments that once were trusted in, to be despised if placed side by side with thee. Thou alone are exalted in that day. Since then we have had some other very happy days. The life of a Christian has many illuminated letters in it. Our roll is not written within and without with lamentation. We have high days and holidays, and there are times of nearness to Christ which hardly dare to describe here. I could venture to talk of them to two or three choice friends that know the secret of the Lord, but these things are not for all ears. These are days when we realise the meaning of the Song of Songs, and bless God that ever the book of Canticles was written, else there would have been in the Bible no expression for our ardent love to Christ. On such days we say with rapture, "Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth" Song of Solomon 1:2 . "Thy love is better than wine" Song of Solomon 1:2 . "He brought me to the banqueting house and his banner over me was love" Song of Solomon 2:4 . "Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love" Song of Solomon 2:5 . "His left hand is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me" Song of Solomon 2:6 . "I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please" Song of Solomon 2:7 ; Song of Solomon 3:5 . Read Rutheford's letters if you know the secret beforehand; if not, they will be an enigma to you, even as the Song of Solomon must always be. This much we may say, when Christ draweth us near to him, "The Lord alone is exalted in that day." When he wraps us in his crimson vest and shows us all his name and saith, "I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. I have graven thee on the palms of my hands" Jeremiah 31:3 , O brethren, "the Lord alone is exalted in that day." Then self has gone. We cry, "I am black but comely;" and the blackness strikes us as much as the comeliness that Christ has put upon us. We sink into nothing at his feet. The manifestation of his glorious love makes us cry like Job, "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee, wherefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes" Job 42:5 . The Lord alone is exalted in that day. Well, you know, brothers and sisters, that after some of those high flights, when we have been on the top of the mount of transfiguration, we get exalted above measure, and then we have to be humbled. It is a wretched confession to make, but God's people know how true it is. We wander from the Lord, and for a while He leaves us to ourselves, when we exalt ourselves. But return from our wandering, then the Lord alone is exalted in that day. You know how, perhaps, there have been weeks of estrangement between you and your Lord; He has been jealous of your heart, and you have been cold to him; you have gone perhaps into the world with too worldly a spirit, and the sweetness of His word has departed from you, and His voice is no longer heard in your soul. Then you begin to cry, "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation and uphold me with thy free Spirit" Psalms 51:12 . You know what it is to cry:

"What peaceful hours I once enjoyed, How sweet their memory still; But now I find an aching void The world can never fill." "Return, O holy Dove! return, Sweet messenger of rest! I hate the sins that made thee mourn And drove thee from my breast."

Ah! when you get your prayer answered, then the Lord alone is exalted in that day. Do you know what it is to go creeping to the mercy-seat where once you used to go so boldly; to go there with many tears and with much shame when you used to go with a radiant face, and yet to find your Jesus waiting there? Do you know what it is to turn to the grand old book that once you used to read with sacred glee, and look there for a sinner's promise such as might suit a broken heart, and to find it come home with just the old power, tall the bones which had been broken began to sing again, and your heart once more was joyous in the presence of your Lord? Ah, then I know your own beauty has been turned to ashes and all your comeliness has disappeared, for when the Lord restores a soul that soul also restores the Lord to His proper place, and the Lord alone is exalted in that day. But at this rate my time will all be gone before I am half through my story. Let me therefore hasten to say, dear brothers and sisters, that the Lord is exalted when a church begins to sigh and cry for the Lord's presence. I hope that the power of the Lord is not forsaking us in any measure here, but it is my fret, my jealousy, lest He should in any wise depart from us-- lest the spirit of prayer should go from us-- lest love to souls should leave us and there should not be abundant conversions in the School and in the ministry, and everywhere around our borders. Should such a time of dearth over come to us, it will be a grand thing when a church can get together and begin to groan and cry for the Lord to return in power. When a church fools it, must get a blessing - I hope we are feeling it now - in proportion as that desire grows into an agony, the Lord alone will be exalted in that day. The preacher will feel, indeed he does feel every day more and more, his own unworthiness and inability for such a work; every other worker will, in proportion as the desire for God's glory shall increase, feel himself to be less and less and still less and less in his own esteem. Oh, when we once come to wish for souls, nobody cares about being important, nobody wishes to be in the front; everybody wants to be there if he can serve God, but he does not want any place of honour, or court any badge of distinction by which he shall be known. A church in agony for souls wants only to see men converted, and she does not care how or by whom the work is done so long as the people are but brought to Christ. Then is the Lord alone exalted. When the blessing comes; and it is a notable day when it comes-- when the word is with power and men are stricken down and begin to cry for mercy-- when the inquirers are many and the converts are multiplied, and God blesses each brother and each sister with success in soul-winning-- oh, then at such times the Lord alone is exalted. I do believe that whenever God sends prosperity to the church and of the members of the church begin to ascribe the success to themselves, the blessing is almost sure to go. God will not bless proud workers. If you are going to have a part of the fish for your self, you may cast the net where you like but you shall take nothing; but when you are fishing for your master he will fill your net to the full. I often think - and therein am I glad in days of sorrow-- that when God means to bless any one of us, He generally lowers us into the very dust. When we are willing to be nothing, then the Lord alone is exalted in that day. If you that are cooks were about to serve a dinner, you would not use a dish, I am sure, until first of all you had cleansed it. You would first wipe it right out, then you would set it on the shelf, and when you wanted a goodly dish with which to serve up goodly meat, you would reach down the empty dish that you had well wiped, would not you? Some of us do not get quite wiped out of our last success, and so we have no more. We still retain a flavor of our last self-congratulation, and so the Master will not use us. When He puts us in hot water, makes us see our filth, and then wipes us right out, and we perhaps are inclined to say, "Lord, I am good for nothing now," we shall be more likely to be of some service to Him. Perhaps He will put us on the shelf for a while. He can easily do that with some of us; a little twinge of pain and sickness, and we are useless. We seem to say, "Lord, what am I but an empty, cracked dish?" Ah, but then he comes and takes us down and use us, and that is worth waiting for. I always expect a greater blessing when there is greater soul-humbling among us. Would not you be glad to be humbled, dear brother, if God would use you more as a consequence? Today I saw as I went home sores old crocks and broken bricks and pieces of all sorts of earthenware put by the side of the road because the road is going to be widened, and I thought to myself, "If the Lord would only use me as an old broken crock to help to make a roadway for Him to ride through London, so that He might be glorified, I would be glad to be thus honoured. Do not you feel so too? Well, perhaps he will take you at your word some of these days. Brother, if God humble you in order to use you, you may not like it as much as you think you will, but still that is how we should demean ourselves. We should be willing to be anything, or to be nothing, according to His will. When Christian men feel they must live to the glory of God somehow, I know there is a blessing coming-- ay, that the blessing has come, for then the Lord alone is exalted. When the man of God says, "I must not live any longer for saving money or simply to bring up my children respectably, or to get a subsistence for myself," then the Lord is exalted. And when Christian men feel that they cannot live for a party or for a section of the church, but that they must live for God and Christ, and for the pure word of the gospel, and that everything else must go overboard except that which is for the glory of God, then we may be sure that the Lord has amongst us, and that He is working mightily. Behold, these are the signs thereof. When He has insulted all pride, dimmed all human glory, and magnified Himself, then indeed we have times of refreshing from His presence and the Lord alone is exalted in that day. Now I have almost done. But I want you to notice that there is a day coming; it will come very soon to some of our venerable friends around me: it will come very soon-- perhaps quite as soon-- to some of us in middle life who are still in health, the day when we shall be called to go upstairs, because the Master has a message for us. When we read the message, it will say, "The time has come for thee to gather up thy feet in thy bed and to meet thy father's God." O brothers and sisters, the Lord alone will be exalted in that day if we be indeed His people. I fancy I see the dying minister when they bring up to him his sermons. Can he glory in them? He says, "I bless God that He enabled me to preach his truth. `Unto me who am less than the least of all saints is this grace given that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,' but I cannot glory in these." If you shall bring up to him the number of his converts, and shall tell him of the churches that he built up, and the places that he has evangelised; I will tell you what he will say, "God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" Galatians 6:14 . There take the best saint among us and put him on the borders of Emmanuel's land, and let him hear the bells of heaven ring out the never-ending Sabbath: listen whether he will talk about himself or about the little church to which he belongs as if it were the whole Church of God. Oh no, no, no, a thousand times no. On the borders of Emmanuel's land all the glory is to the Lord alone. Redeeming blood, love, effectual calling, persevering grace,-- all these will be sung about, but there will be no songs about ourselves or aught else but God, when we come there. Mother, are you making an idol of that babe? You will not be able to do that when you come near your departing hour. Christian man, are you making an idol of anything you have in this world? It will be utterly abolished then. Anything wherein you are trusting and finding comfort will fail you then. The Lord alone will then be your stay and your song! The Lord alone then! If you feel the bottom as you wade into the river, you will feel that it is good. But, by and by, you will be where there is no bottom; the river will be a river to swim in, and then will you want to know that underneath you are the everlasting arms. If you are sure of this you will take that mighty plunge as when a swimmer stretches out his hand to swim, and you will be in glory in a moment. And, beloved, when we get into the glory, the Lord alone will be exalted there. What a difference will come over us in the matter of those little things wherein we glory now. Petty trifles sometimes lift us up very high. Oh, how loftily we carry our heads sometimes, poor fools that we are, because of this thing in which we are superior to some fellow worm, or that thing in which we have not erred as some other man has done. But oh, up there, up there, up there, all harps will be for Jesus! All the vials shall be full of odors for Jesus. Harps and tongues, voices and strings, all for the three-one God; all for the Lord alone. Free grace begins to teach. us here that God alone mush be exalted, and when we have learnt that lesson, well then, glory will come in to cap the whole and make us feel that it were absurd even to imagine that any person or any thing could share the glory with the infinite majesty of God. There, now, I have done. Only I would ask you this-- Is there one here that will not give God all the glory? If so, dear brother, you cannot be saved. Salvation may almost hinge upon this question,-- Art thou willing to be saved so that the Lord alone shall be exalted in thy salvation? Art thou willing no more to trust in thy good works, thy prayers, thy tears, thy feelings, or anything else of thine own, but to come and trust in the finished work of Jesus, and give thyself up absolutely and entirely to be his. Art thou willing to be his servant, his property for ever, that henceforth thy only glory may be in his dear name, thy only boasting in his cross? If so, he accepts thee and he will save thee, but if thou must have the glory then thou shalt not have the salvation. Where then will thy glory be? He that glorieth in himself shall perish, but he that will glory only in the Lord shall live for ever. God bless you, for Christ's sake. Amen.

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Bibliographical Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Isaiah 2". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/spe/isaiah-2.html. 2011.