TEXT FOR PRAYER
“Do Ye Even So To Them”
Our reading this afternoon is found on pages 192 and 193 of “The Mount of Blessing”–
“On the assurance of the love of God toward us, Jesus enjoins love to one another, in one comprehensive principle covering all the relations of human fellowship.
“The Jews had been concerned about what they should receive; the burden of their anxiety was to secure what they thought their due of power and respect and service. But Christ teaches that our anxiety should not be, How much are we to receive? but, How much can we give? The standard of our obligation to others is found in what we ourselves would regard as their obligation to us.
“Every one who has been made a steward of the manifold grace of God, is called upon to impart to souls in ignorance and darkness, even as, were he in their place, he would desire them to impart to him….
“So also with the gifts and blessings of this life: whatever you may possess above your fellows, places you in debt, to that degree, to all who are less favored.”
What shall we pray for this afternoon? – That we may imbibe the great principle of the Golden Rule, and realize that our concern should not be as to how much we are to receive, but as to how much we can give. Let us pray for understanding that the standard of our obligation to others is found in what we personally would regard as their obligation to us; and also that whatever we possess above our fellowmen places us to that degree in debt to those less favored.
Our subject for this afternoon is found in Isaiah 34 and 35. Last week, you recall, we studied the thirty-third chapter, the Lord's burden concerning the church as she approaches the time of “harvest,” – the time the “wheat” is put into the barn, and the “tares” burned (Matt. 13:30); the time the “good fish” are put into “vessels” and the “bad fish” cast out (Matt. 13:47-49) as are those who have not the “wedding garment” on (Matt. 22:1-13). Continuing now into the thirty-fourth chapter, we there see that God invites the nations of the world to draw near and to hear His mighty work of refining:
Isa. 34:1-3 – “Come near, ye nations, to hear; and hearken, ye people: let the earth hear, and all that is therein; the world, and all things that come forth of it. For the indignation of the Lord is upon all nations, and His fury upon all their armies: He hath utterly destroyed them, He hath delivered them to the slaughter. Their slain also shall be cast out, and their stink shall come up out of their carcases, and the mountains shall be melted with their blood.”
Why does God invite the nations of all the earth to draw near and to hear? – That they might consider His indignation against the wicked in His church and know what to expect when His Judgment spreads out among all nations; that they might know what to expect when His refining work begins among them; that they might therefore beforehand count the cost. His judgment, He declares, is already pronounced upon the armies of the world – “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?”–1 Pet. 4:17.
Verse 4 – “And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree.”
While verse 3 points out that the solemn events of this chapter take place in a day of gigantic world-wide armament program, verse 4, being parallel with Revelation 6:14, it reveals that they take place in the period of the sixth seal, in the days of the sealing of the 144,000 and the gathering of the innumerable multitude out of all nations, the seal that we are now living in. The sixth seal may overlap the seventh.
Verses 5-11 – “For My sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of My curse, to judgment. The sword of the Lord is filled with blood, it is made fat with fatness, and with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams: for the Lord hath a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea. And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness. For it is the day of the Lord's vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion. And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever. But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it: and He shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness.”
The immediate curse, we see, rests upon Idumea. Antitypically speaking, it is the land of the antitypical Esauites – those who by rights should have kept the office which the antitypical Jacobites take away from them. They so underestimate its value that they, like Esau of old, sell their rights for a dish of red pottage as it were. (For further study on the subject, see “The Shepherd's Rod,” Vol. 1, pp. 52-111.)
Verse 12 – “They shall call the nobles thereof to the kingdom, but none shall be there, and all her princes shall be nothing.”
Evidently after the destruction falls upon Idumea, none of her so-called nobles shall be found there to participate in the exodus (Isa. 11:11) to the antitypical Kingdom (the church purified), and her princes shall be as nothing. Then, it must be that those who escape and enter into the Kingdom are mostly from among the common people, those from the streets and the lanes (Luke 14:16-21). “…In the last solemn work few great men will be engaged. They are self- sufficient, independent of God, and he cannot use them.” – “Testimonies for the Church,” Vol. 5, pg. 80. “…Only those who have withstood temptation in the strength of the Mighty One will be permitted to act a part in proclaiming it [the Third Angel's Message] when it shall have swelled into the Loud Cry.” – “Review and Herald,” Nov. 18, 1908.
Verses 13-15 – “And thorns shall come up in her palaces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof: and it shall be an habitation of dragons, and a court for owls. The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of the island, and the satyr shall cry to his fellow; the screech owl also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest. There shall the great owl make her nest, and lay, and hatch, and gather under her shadow: there shall the vultures also be gathered, every one with her mate.”
God does not forsake the earth. He does not forgo His power nor His interest in Truth and righteousness. He does not let the world go into oblivion. What He does do, though, is make examples of some in order to save many others, for when the judgments of God are upon the earth, the inhabitants will learn righteousness. (Isa. 26:9.)
Is it armament then that the nations of today need for peace and security? Is atomic war to be their fear? – What they need to fear is “the sword of the Lord,” for His “sword shall be bathed in heaven,” “it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of [His] curse.” They need not fear anything if they fear the Lord. Let them make Him their fear, their dread and protection (Isa. 8:13). So He commands:
Verse 16 – “Seek ye out of the book of the Lord, and read: no one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate: for My mouth It hath commanded, and His Spirit It hath gathered them.”
God here counsels us to search the Bible and to implicitly believe that not one of Its prophecies shall fail, – no, not one shall fail to follow another in its turn. And why should we have this confidence? – Because God Himself has commanded, and because His Spirit, not the wisdom or efforts of men has gathered into a single volume, the writings of the prophets of old, “the book of the Lord” – the non-sectarian Bible as we know It today.
Verse 17 – “And He hath cast the lot for them, and His hand hath divided it unto them by line: they shall possess it for ever, from generation to generation shall they dwell therein.”
Regardless whether we take this verse to say that the wild beasts “shall possess it forever,” or whether we take it to say that those who seek “out of the book of the Lord” “shall possess it forever,” our greatest concern must be to personally acquaint ourselves with the Lord and His Truth if we would gain His favor and find a shelter in this time of trouble.
“Behold, a King shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment. And a Man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.” Isa. 32:1, 2.
Now we shall go on into the thirty-fifth chapter of Isaiah, which is but a continuation of the thirty-fourth.
Isa. 35:1 – “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.”
What a difference when God manifests His power and purifies His church! Then the lands of the Gentiles (the wilderness) and the land of the heathen (the solitary place) shall both be glad to see God's holy people. Finally as God's Truth for this time penetrates throughout the lands where there are no Christians at all, the desert places shall blossom as the rose, so to speak, and thus yield an abundant harvest of souls.
Verses 2-4 – “It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God. Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; He will come and save you.”
This great commission and opportunity to proclaim God's soon coming vengeance are ours. We must not fail to take advantage of these privileges. With the mighty message for this time we must strengthen the weak; we must make firm the knees that are giving out. Those who are unable to stand up and to hold their own must be strengthened. We must reassure the fearful that God is to come with vengeance against the unbelieving and with recompence for the faithful.
Verses 5, 6 – “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams [of truth] in the desert.”
When these things take place, then it will be just as natural for the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the lame to leap, and the dumb to sing, yes, as natural as blossoms are followed with fruit. God's Truth for this time is to spread everywhere and reap a great harvest of souls.
“I saw jets of light shining from cities and villages, and from the high places and the low places of the earth. God's word was obeyed, and as a result there were memorials for Him in every city and village. His truth was proclaimed throughout the world.” – “Testimonies”, Vol. 9, pg. 28. If but one soul saved from every city and village there would be several times 144,000 living souls.
Verse 7 – “And the parched ground [the places which are now entirely devoid of Truth] shall become a pool, and the thirsty land [the land that thirsts for God's Truth] springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes.”
There shall be fruitage, you see, even where the dragons lie.
Verse 8 – “And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.”
None shall be left in the “wilderness,” for there shall be a highway for all the followers of God's Truth. Matters not what the faithful be, illiterate or otherwise, they shall not err therein. Indeed, all the “wheat” shall be gathered and put into the “barn,” the Kingdom. (See Tract No. 3, “The Judgment and the Harvest.”)
Verse 9 – “No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there.”
Once the hypocrites are taken out, they shall not be allowed to return and to endanger the peace of God's people. Only the redeemed shall walk on the Highway of Holiness. And where does the Highway lead? – The next verse gives the answer:
Verse 10 – “And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”
Yes, the Highway leads to Zion. With songs and everlasting joy shall the redeemed enter therein, never more to sorrow or to sigh. “For He cometh, to judge the earth; He shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with His Truth.” Ps. 96:13.
Brother, Sister, the sacrifices we may be called to make are as nothing in comparison to the privilege of heading for Zion via the Highway of Holiness. Ponder upon this, then act. Let nothing deter you from complying with God's Truth for this time – the day in which the nations see Edom perish and the desert blossom. Act now while the highway to Zion is in preparation.
“We all went under the tree and sat down to look at the glory of the place, when Brethren Fitch and Stockman, who had preached the gospel of the kingdom, and whom God had laid in the grave to save them, came up to us and asked us what we had passed through while they were sleeping. We tried to call up our greatest trials, but they looked so small compared with the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory that surrounded us that we could not speak them out, and we all cried out, 'Alleluia, heaven is cheap enough!' and we touched our glorious harps and made heaven's arches ring.” – “Early Writings,” p. 17.