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Bible Commentaries

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae
Isaiah 4



Verse 5



Isaiah 4:5. The Lord will create upon every dwelling-place of Mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud, and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence.

THE Church of God is frequently represented as hated both by men and devils, and exposed to their united assaults. But it is protected by an invisible and almighty Agent, who keeps it alive, as a spark in the midst of a tempestuous ocean. His watchful eye is ever over it for good: He considers it as his glory, and will therefore himself be its defence. This is promised to the Church in the words before us; in which we are told,

I. The Church is God’s glory—

Mount Zion is a name given to the Gospel Church [Note: Hebrews 12:22.]: and a strict attention to the text will shew, that it is here considered as “the glory” of God [Note: “The glory” evidently relates to the “dwelling-plates,” &c. before mentioned.]; by which term its members also are expressly designated by God himself [Note: Isaiah 46:13.].

1. The various “dwelling-places of Mount Zion” are his glory—

[Wherever Christianity has gained its full ascendant over any family, God will most assuredly be worshipped and served by every member of it. The master will say with Joshua, “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord;” and, in order to carry this resolution into effect, he will, like Abraham, command his children, and his household after him [Note: Joshua 24:15. Genesis 18:19.]. His house will be a temple in which he himself officiates as priest; and, as far as he can prevail, he will cause every heart to be an altar to the Lord, that they may daily offer to him the sacrifices of prayer and praise. Such a family will be like a beautiful garden, filled with “trees of righteousness of the Lord’s planting, that he may be glorified [Note: Isaiah 61:3.];” and while God calls himself “their God,” he will dignify them with the exalted appellation of “his people,” and “his servants in whom he will be glorified [Note: Jeremiah 31:1. Isaiah 49:3.].”]

2. The “assemblies of Mount Zion” also are his glory—

[As the Israelites came up thrice every year to worship God at Jerusalem, so on every Sabbath do his people assemble for the exercise of social and public worship. In those holy convocations does every one speak of his glory [Note: Psalms 29:9.]; and his ministers in particular, who are “the glory of Christ [Note: 2 Corinthians 8:23.],” proclaim the riches of his grace and mercy. In these God vouchsafes his more peculiar presence; for “he loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob [Note: Psalms 87:2.].” “He comes down as in the days of old [Note: Exodus 40:34-35. 2 Chronicles 7:1.], and fills the place with his glory;” he pours out his Spirit in a more abundant measure; and by communicating the blessings of grace and peace, he “glorifies the house of his glory [Note: Isaiah 60:7.].”]

While they are thus highly esteemed by God, they are favoured with his peculiar care; for,

II. God is his Church’s guardian—

The Israelites, when coming out of Egypt, had a cloud with them as a symbol of the Divine presence [Note: Exodus 13:21-22. Nehemiah 9:19.]. This was intended both to guide them in their journeys, and to protect them from their enemies. And in reference to it God promises to his Church to be,

1. Her guide—

[The cloud went before the people in all their journeys, moving or resting when it was proper for them to move, or rest [Note: Exodus 40:34-38.]. Thus will God direct the concerns of his Church. Though he will not interpose in the same visible manner, yet he will manifest the same attention to its interests, and guide it with the same unerring hand. Nor is it to the Church at large only that God extends his care; he will regard “the dwelling-places of Mount Zion” no less than “her assemblies;” and consult the welfare of the meanest individual as much as of the largest community [Note: Isaiah 66:2.]. Does any one look up to him for direction? He says, “The meek he will guide in judgment, the meek he will teach his way [Note: Psalms 25:9.]:” “He shall have an unction of the Holy One that shall teach him all things [Note: 1 John 2:20.];” and so plainly shall his path be marked, that, “though a fool, he shall not err therein [Note: Isaiah 35:8.].” Is he involved in any peculiar difficulty? He shall hear a voice behind him, saying, “This is the way, walk ye in it [Note: Isaiah 30:21.].” And though his path may often appear dubious, yet he shall find at last that he has been “led in the right way to the city of habitation [Note: Psalms 107:7.].”]

2. Her defence—

[The cloud on one occasion went behind the Israelites, and wore a dark and threatening aspect to their enemies, while it gave light to them [Note: Exodus 14:19-20.]. Thus will God give salvation for walls and bulwarks to his Church [Note: Isaiah 26:1.]. No weapon that is formed against it shall prosper [Note: Isaiah 54:17.]: God will not only go before it, but be its rear-ward [Note: Isaiah 58:8.]: nor shall the gates of hell ever prevail against it [Note: Matthew 16:18.]. Never for one moment will he intermit his care [Note: Isaiah 27:3.]: his protection shall be as effectual as that of lofty mountains [Note: Psalms 125:2.], or an impassable river [Note: Isaiah 33:21.], or a wall of fire [Note: Zechariah 2:5.]. And its preservation shall be seen to be evidently his work, as much as the “creation” itself; so that all who behold it shall say, This hath god wrought [Note: Job 12:9. Isaiah 41:4.].]

3. Her glory—

[It was the presence of God with Israel of old that marked them as his peculiar people. They were feared on this account, so that “all the inhabitants of Canaan melted because of them [Note: Joshua 2:9; Joshua 2:11.];” as also terror was diffused through the whole camp of the Philistines [Note: 1 Samuel 4:7.]. Thus it is with the Church at this time; it is the presence of God in it that renders it the joy of the whole earth [Note: Psalms 48:2.]. It is God’s glory that is seen upon it, which brings kings to the brightness of its rising [Note: Isaiah 60:1-3.]. There is often a power in the ordinances that evidences the presence of the Deity, and constrains his most inveterate enemies to submit themselves to him, and to unite themselves to his Church [Note: 1 Corinthians 14:25.]. And it will be in consequence of that more abundant manifestation of his presence which shall be vouchsafed to the Church at a future period, that all the nations of the earth shall seek with eagerness an interest in its privileges, and a participation of its blessings [Note: Zechariah 8:23.]. Persons of all ranks, from the lofty “fir-tree” to the humble “box,” shall come together to the Church, of which it will be said, “The Lord is thine everlasting light, and thy God thy glory [Note: Isaiah 60:13-16; Isaiah 60:16.].”]

To improve this subject, let me entreat you,

1. To give yourselves up to God as his people—

[The whole of this subject refers, as you have seen, to Israel as God’s redeemed people. To such alone were these promises made; and by such alone were they experienced. To the Egyptians the cloud was as darkness, whilst to the Israelites it was a pillar of light: and the sea, which afforded to Israel a path of safety, was to the Egyptians without exception a fatal grave. So to those only who give up themselves to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ are the blessings of redemption fully known: to them the Gospel is “a savour of life unto life, whilst to others it is only a savour of death unto death:” to them is Christ a sanctuary, whilst to others he is only a stumbling-block and a rock of of offence.” What then shall I say unto you? This I will say: Imitate the Israelites on the occasion referred to. Cast off your bonds, and put yourselves under the guidance of “that Prophet, whom Jehovah has raised up unto you, like unto Moses.” Go forth from Egypt in dependence on your God: rely upon him for every thing during the time of your sojourning in this dreary wilderness: and look forward to your possession of the promised land as your sure and abiding portion. “Follow the Lord fully,” as Joshua and Caleb did; and rest assured that, like them, you shall in due season enjoy the promised inheritance.]

2. To glory in God as your God—

[Tell me one promise that ever failed those who trusted fully in their God. If Joshua, after forty years of conflict, could make this a matter of appeal to Israel, be sure that none of you shall ever be disappointed of your hope. With Jehovah for your guide and defence, you have no ground for fear: for “if God be for you, who can be against you?” Your enemies may be great in might, and many in number: but “they are all but bread for you.” In your conflicts with them, you may endure much: but your trials shall be only as “the spirit of judgment and of burning to purge and to purify you from your filth [Note: ver. 4.],” and to call forth those exertions from God, which he has promised to you. Whatever difficulty obstruct your way, say to it as God has taught you, “Who art thou, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel thou shall become a plain.” Only “be strong in faith, giving glory to God.” “Only hold fast your confidence, and the rejoicing of your hope;” and “not so much as one jot or tittle of God’s word shall ever fail.”]


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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Isaiah 4:4". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. 1832.

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