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4 Trust ye in Yahweh for ever: for in theYah Yahweh is everlasting [ Olamin] strength [Tzur]:
Tzur - The Rock
The rock, then, we are led to understand, is a symbol, representative of the One who is the only enduring foundation-the only source of everlasting strength and power-the place of refuge, of shelter, and of safety.
Sis Lasius - Yahweh Elohim
9 With my soul [nefesh] have I desired thee in the night [lailah]; yea, with my spirit [ruach] within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments [mishpatim] are in the earth, the inhabitants [ha'aretz] of the world will learn righteousness [tevel will learn tzede].
Perhaps we can do no better ... than resume the consideration of the song to be sung in the land of Judah at the crisis of the day of salvation. The day of salvation is a long and cloudless one. The song belongs to the beginning of the day - when as yet its full glory has not been manifested.
The Lord has come and expelled the Russian invader from the Holy Land, but the whole earth beyond Judah's frontiers is in arms, and, under "the Beast and the false prophet," will put forth a gigantic effort to crush the newly manifested Israelitish power. A recognition of this is necessary to discern the bearing of some parts of the song.
The righteous, in one body, look back from the song point of view, upon the night from which they have just emerged. They rejoicingly declare the fact which is now sweet to them in retrospect...
...It was sweet to them at the time, but sweet to bitterness, for the desire for God in a day when He is not to be found, is not a refreshing experience but the reverse. It is as David expresses it:
"As the hart panteth after the water brooks," which is not an enjoying state.
But now, when the day of song for the righteous has come, it will be pleasant to look back and think that while the night prevailed upon the earth, their eyes were in strong desire towards God, and that God has openly acknowledged their love by manifesting Himself to them in the sending of Christ.
"Early" is suggestive of morning. The morning has come when the song is sung, but the seeking for God has not ceased. Only now it is a seeking with a finding, which differs from the seeking of these days of darkness. The sons of God will always seek God. They will never forget Him or tire in their love...
'the inhabitants of the world'
They have not learnt righteousness at the day of the song. They are about to do so by the judgments about to be manifested in the terrible war of the great day of God Almighty; and it is meet that those by whom those judgments are to be inflicted should have their eyes especially on God. How incongruous it would be that those who are about to bring the world to God should for a moment lose sight of Him. They are for the time being in the position that Christ occupies in the interval between his rejection by Israel and his coming. *
10 Let favour [ grace] be shewed to the wicked [rasha], yet will he not learn righteousness [tzedek]: in the land of uprightness [Eretz Nekhochot (Land of Straightforwardness)] he [will] deal unjustly, and will not behold [regard] the majesty [ge'ut (majesty, exaltedness)] of Yahweh.
The judgment to be inflicted upon the world is not in wantonness or superfluity. It is a necessity: it cannot be dispensed with. The righteous, rejoicing together, recognise it.
"Let favour be shown to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness. In the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the Lord."
The history of the world is the proof of this. God's favour has been shown to the race of Adam since the day the first sinner was driven out of Eden; and the result is before our eyes in a world lying in wickedness. The wickedness differs in form, complexion, and intensity, but in its most cultured forms, it is wickedness still, the rejection of the law God has given; the refusal of His rights and honour, the assertion of man's right to what he enjoys by favour; the appropriation of earth's goodness to human service and glory. Favour does not teach mankind righteousness-judgment will, and in the song under consideration, the righteous contemplate the prospect with satisfaction. It is a divine purpose much spoken of throughout the Scriptures.
"For a long time I have holden my peace; I have been still and refrained myself. Now will I cry like a travailing woman. I will destroy and devour at once" (Isa. 42:14).
"The needy shall not always be forgotten; the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever . . . The Lord trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence His soul hateth. Upon the wicked He shall rain snares, fire, and brimstone, and an horrible tempest; this shall be the portion of their cup" (Psa. 9:18; 11:5-6).
"The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance. He shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked. So that a man shall say, Verily there is a reward for the righteous; verily He is a God that judgeth in the earth" (Psa. 58:10-11).
"They shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in that day that I shall do this" (Mal. 4:3).
"For my determination is to gather the nations . . . to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger; for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of My jealousy" (Zeph. 3:8). *
* Bro Roberts - Yahweh's judgements
Exhortation - Bro Roberts
THE SONG TO BE SUNG IN CHRIST'S DAY
We have recently had special occasion to recognise the comforting fact that in the Holy Scriptures it is God, and not man, that speaks to us in all the "divers manners" of their authorship. The writer is human: but the Power using the writer is divine. The fact comes continually before us in our readings. Today, we have Paul in the Hebrews (for Paul undoubtedly was the writer) citing the prophetic Scriptures as the "witness" of "the Holy Spirit" (Heb. 10:15). "Whereof," says he "the Holy Spirit also is a witness to us," and he then quotes from Jeremiah. It is this quality of the Old Testament Scriptures that gives them their superlative value. It is this that gives us the comfortable feeling of safety and security which we experience in "the reading of the Old Testament." It is this that makes us hang on the words as words of truth on which we can build, and to which we can surrender without any of the reservation with which all human writing has to be received.
With this comfortable feeling, let us go to the portion read from Isaiah (Chap. 26) and extract from it some of the edification it is calculated to afford. In this portion we are informed of a song to be sung at a certain time and place. "In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah." When we find what "day" this is, we find the matter in hand is one to which we have become personally related by the Truth. It is not difficult to find the day. The part going before makes it known very plainly. It is a day long-looked for-a day in which expectation long cherished is realised in joy unspeakable.
"It shall be said in that day, Lo this is our God, we have waited for Him . . .we shall be glad and rejoice in His salvation" (Chap. 25:9).
Such a day must be neither more nor less than the day of salvation. One more look makes it quite certain:
"He (the Lord of Hosts) shall swallow up death in victory: and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of His people shall he take away from off the earth."
If there could be any doubt, that this is the day of the manifestation of the sons of God and return of Christ from heaven, such doubt is set for ever at rest by Paul's declaration in 1Cor. 15, concerning the day of the last trump and the resurrection of the dead: "then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, death is swallowed up of victory," a saying written in this 25th chapter of Isaiah, and in this chapter alone.
Now, from the Scriptures of truth, we have learnt several things concerning this day of Christ, the remembrance of which will help us to rightly understand this song to be sung "in the day . . .in the land of Judah." It is a day in which the oracle contained in Psalm 110 will be fulfilled:
"The Lord shall send the rod of thy (Messiah's) strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies . . . The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of wrath."
It is a day in which the vision shown to John of things "to come to pass hereafter" will be fulfilled when "the kings of the earth and their armies will gather together to make war against the Lamb," and when "the Lamb shall overcome them." It is a day when a specific league of Gentile powers, found in the land under Gog, at the coming of Christ, will be broken up and expelled like chaff before the wind.
"The nations shall rush like the rushing of many waters, but God shall rebuke them, and they shall flee afar off"-(Isa. 17:13).
It is a day when the power of man in all the earth shall be in the process of receiving that irretrievable overthrow symbolised by the breaking of Nebuchadnezzar's image to pieces by the little stone destined to grow to a great mountain, filling the whole earth.
Now such a day will necessarily be a day of great gladness for those who shall be gathered around the Lord in friendship and glory. The gladness will have pointed reasons in the current situation. Their gladness finds expression in the declaration of these reasons. Let us imagine all these events accomplished, or in process of accomplishment, and let us imagine ourselves by their side and in their ranks in the land of promise, and we shall then be able to enter into the exultation and catch the spirit of this song:
"We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks."
The glorified immortal throng will stand in need of no walls and bulwarks. No city was ever so strong as theirs. "Salvation," upon which they have just entered will be their walls and bulwarks. Salvation is no sentimental affair, but a very physical reality. Shot and shell will be powerless against a company covered and penetrated by the Spirit of God. Walls and bulwarks would be a clumsy defence for those who are protected by the primal energy of the universe, thrown over them by the will of Him in whose Word all things subsist; and from whose Spirit-clad presence shot and shell would recoil more helplessly than cork missiles from an ironclad fort.
Their exultation in the power of salvation is no extravagance. Bible salvation is something very different from the salvation said to be "got" at Salvation Army meetings.
"Open ye the gates," shout this Spirit-panoplied congregation, "that the righteous nation that keepeth the Truth may enter in." Ay, and the gates will be opened. The gates have been long closed, but the time has come for them to be thrown wide open - the gates of heaven, the gates of honour, the gates of wealth, the gates of the Kingdom, --the gates of glory, honour and immortality. The summons will not be unheeded. The summons will be obeyed. The gates will be opened-to whom?
"The righteous nation that keepeth the Truth."
What nation is this? There is no room for doubt. Jesus told the Pharisees in his day-speaking in the very same locality where this song is to be sung-
"The Kingdom of God shall be taken from you and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof."
Speaking to the disciples as constituents of this nation, he said to them,
"Fear not, little flock; it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom."
And afterwards, Peter addressing other members of the same body, said,
"Ye are a holy nation, a peculiar people."
The connection between this nation and "the Truth" is also equally manifest. Jesus said, "I am the Truth," and also, "everyone that is of the Truth heareth my voice;" and also John, "The Truth dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever."
The community to be glorified with Christ at his coming, being a "righteous nation that keepeth the Truth," it follows that we cannot hope to be among them if we follow unrighteousness or if we are destitute of "the Truth," for no one can "keep the Truth" who has it not. This is worth the attention, in passing, of those who either "hold the Truth in unrighteousness" or who trust for salvation to their own righteousness apart from the Truth.
By our profession as brethren, and by our assembly this morning at the breaking of bread in remembrance of Christ as appointed, we belong to neither one class nor the other. We belong rather to those who are seeking admission into the ranks of the righteous nation that keepeth the Truth. As such, we may dwell with consolation on the picture before us.
To have and to keep the Truth is not only accounted a very small thing just now; it is worse than small in the estimation of this enlightened generation. It is derogatory to manhood and culture and good sense. It is a disqualification for every kind of worldly advancement. Well, this is no accident. It is appointed. It is part of the "light affliction which is but for a moment" and which, as Paul says "worketh out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."
Consider what a change it will be when the righteous keeping of the Truth will be the only passport to power, respectability and life. The gates of honour and distinction are all shut now to those who keep the Truth - who are considered a species of monomaniacs by those who love the present world. But the cry will go abroad yet, "open ye the gates! open ye the gates!" "Bow the knee! Bow the knee!" The time has come for the exaltation of the Lord's faithful people.
"This is the day which the Lord hath made. We will be glad and rejoice in it." "Lo, this is our God! We have waited for Him: we shall be glad and rejoice in His salvation."
The song proceeds-"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee."
When the singers sing these words, they have in view the peace that has come to them, and that lies before them in the happy day commenced for Jerusalem. This peace is promised.
"Great shall be the peace of thy children" (Isa. 54:13), and again, "Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream" (Isa. 66:12).
We are asked to pray for it. "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem." It is a peace not reached till the Prince of Peace "speaks peace to the heathen." There is a peace that comes now to those who trust in God, but this not the "perfect peace" which the song celebrates. Often the reverse of peace is the lot of those who do the will of God. Jesus and Paul may be taken as examples. Jesus, the "man of sorrows;" Paul, "distressed, perplexed, persecuted, cast down," did not experience the "perfect peace" which will belong to the righteous nation that keepeth the Truth in the day of this song in the land of Judah. But this peace awaits them, even on the very occasion depicted in this joyful chapter.
There never has been an occasion on earth in which the human mind will be so much stayed on God as the mind of that exultant assembly will be stayed on Him; never such powerful trust as will be reposed by them. We, too, naturally assume that the need for trust and mental stay on God will have passed when the day of triumph has come. The reverse state of facts will be found to be true when that happy day arrives. Mortal men cannot in the nature of things stay on God and trust in Him as those will stay and trust, whose iron heart will have been opened to God with the change from the earth-cleaving nature of present experience to a nature instinct with divine sympathies and affinities. Those who experience this change will be able to apostrophise each other in the exultant adjuration of this song:
"Trust ye in the Lord for ever; for in the Lord Yahweh is everlasting strength."
They will be able to feel the reality of God with a strength and ardour impossible in the mere day of faith. They will be able to realise practically their dependence upon His everlasting strength. Now, it is a matter of faith merely; then it will be self-manifest knowledge and experience. Now, the acknowledgement is liable to die on the lips of weary faith, or degenerate to cant through human weakness; then, it will be a vivid sensation whose fervent expression will be highest satisfaction.
"For He bringeth down them that dwell on high: the lofty city, He layeth it low: He layeth it low, even to the ground: He bringeth it even to the dust."
This is an allusion to events just accomplished-the work of power and judgment by which the high-borns and mighty of the earth will have been brought down-brought down by God and not by man at all. This will be the characteristic of the epoch-that human pride and power will be levelled and the Lord alone exalted, as it was when Israel crossed the Red Sea. So it is testified:
"The lofty looks of man shall be humbled and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down: and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day."
Realise then that at the epoch of this song, the glory of London, of Paris, of Berlin, of St. Petersburg, of Constantinople is brought to the dust, their armies overthrown, their power wrecked; the arrogance of man everywhere smitten and lowered by disaster; his power dissolved in spoliation and blood - the lofty city of human power everywhere laid low.
There is a companion picture: "The foot shall tread it down," What foot? "Even the feet of the poor and the steps of the needy!" This is God's decree. This is "what is written"-and the Scripture cannot be broken. The poor and needy, who are condemned with ineffable scorn by the opulent classes, are the destined heirs of all their power and glory. No more odious dispensation could be contrived for the rich sinners of the present evil world.
But in what way will the Lord be exalted by the substitution of the poor for the rich in the possession of earth's goodness? It is no ordinary class of poor whose stewardship of the riches of God would be more grateful to Him than the occupancy of the rich. The ordinary poor are as godless as the rich, and lacking in their elegance and culture. A dreadful exchange would this be. No: it is no ordinary poor.
It is God's poor: the poor of whom Christ is the prototype. He was a "poor and needy man," but he was rich in faith and did always those things that were pleasing to the Father. This is the class of poor, the God-believing the God-loving and God-serving poor, gathered from every age, made alive with vigour and power of an immortal nature, whose righteous feet will tread down the lofty city of human power and pride now uplifted in all the earth.
This will be more galling to the sons of pride than even a pure democratic insurrection. They might reconcile themselves to an upheaval of the working classes as a calamity they might at least regulate-as a movement having something of human principles in it which they might turn to account-as a disaster from which recovery might at least be hoped. But there will be no mitigating circumstances in a revolution which places them in the power of a godliness bred in poverty, and now enforced with divine aims by a government men cannot understand or resist or baffle.
The song justifies the changed by reference to the past course of those now promoted "The way of the just is uprightness: Thou most upright dost weigh the oath of the just." We must remember this, now, in these days of darkness. It is written,
"Though a sinner do evil an hundred times and his days be prolonged, yet I know it shall be well with them that fear God."
The time for developing and trying this class is our mortal lifetime. During this time, it seems as if God took no notice, and as if righteousness were a mistake. The events contemplated in this song will yield a very different verdict from this. They knew what this song says - that God "weighs the path of the just." He watches, reckons, and estimates with a view to the day of recompense which this song celebrates. God is not unmindful-not forgetful-not unfaithful-He is not unjust. All these things are declared of Him. Therefore, when His servants speak or do or labour or suffer for His Name's sake, though there is no sign, it is all recorded.
"A book of remembrance was written before Him."
What then? A time comes for the book to be opened. Facts forgotten by man are brought to light, and every man receives according to his works.
The song proceeds to give a general description of their course and character looking back. It applies to all of them.
"In the way of Thy judgments have we waited for Thee. The desire of our soul is to the remembrance of Thy Name."
The judgments of God, which men can keep in "the way of" are the ordinances or appointments of God. The word "judgment" is often used with this meaning. We see at a glance in what way this is applicable to the rejoicing utterers of this song in the land of Judah. It in fact describes their class in all ages. They are such as walk in the way of God's appointments. These have differed with different ages; but the attitude required has been the same in every age-faith and obedience. Trusting to what God has promised, and doing what God has commanded, they have waited for the day of salvation, which is to make them glad with exceeding joy.
There is instruction in this for those who despise what God has appointed, or who at least regard His appointments with indifference, and who yet hope that on some principle or other, though casting the Word of God behind their backs, they will receive His favour and enter into peace in the day of His accomplished purpose. We must sorrowfully recognise that all such hopes are unfounded, and that only those may hope to stand with the heirs of salvation in the land of Judah on the glad day of its attainments, who can say with them,
"In the way of Thy judgments have we awaited for Thee: the desire of our soul is to the remembrance of Thy name."
We may look, upon another day, at the second half of this instructive and joy-inspiring song.