2612. Questions And Answers Concerning Zion

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No. 2612-45:109. A Sermon Delivered On Thursday Evening, November 8, 1883, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, March 5, 1899.

What then shall one answer the messengers of the nation? That the LORD has founded Zion, and the poor of his people shall trust in it. {Isa 14:32}

1. Zion evidently attracted great attention in its own day, and I suppose that the term “Zion” stood for the whole city. It was a city of many unique things, and it was especially remarkable for its worship when Jerusalem was as it should be. It had a temple, but there was no image in it. Worship was continually carried on there, but the God who was worshipped was invisible. This made Zion and its temple different from all other cities and all other temples under heaven; for, wherever else you went, you saw carved images set up, and men prostrating themselves before the work of their own hands. It was not so in Zion; there, the one living and true God resided, and the temple at Jerusalem was the centre of his worship for all the faithful, and every type or symbol in his solemn service was meant to teach the people concerning him. Zion was remarkable, not so much for the strength of its defences, the beauty of its palaces, and the glory of its temple, as for being “the city of the great King.” “God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved.” Hence, although Zion was only a little hill, and other hills were great compared with it, yet its fame was known even to the ends of the earth.

2. Now, Zion is always a type of the Church of the living God, and everywhere the Church of God is unique, and for that reason, noticeable. It is a power altogether unlike all other powers, a kingdom quite different from the kingdoms of the earth. It does not use the force of arms, it has no defence except the indwelling Deity, it knows nothing of the pomp of earthly splendour, it exists for God’s glory, and for no other purpose. Its reason for being a Church at all is that Jesus Christ may be honoured and glorified in its midst; and, hence, the true Church of Christ is sure to be noticed, however obscure it may be in any particular place. You cannot plant a Christian church in a village without its being discovered. It may be said of Christ’s Church as it was said of himself, “He could not be hidden”; neither can his Church be hidden; and in any kingdom or country, though the true Christians may form a very small remnant, yet they are sure to be noticed. They are as a fire that gives light as well as heat, and, therefore, their presence must be known and felt.

3. I push this truth a little further, and say that, if you are one of the citizens of this Zion, one of the members of the Church of God, you also will be known. You cannot go through the world unobserved; you are like Bunyan’s pilgrim when he passed through Vanity Fair. He was only a humble individual, yet everyone looked at him because he hurried through the fair, neither attracted by its business nor detained by its wealth. Christian and his companion simply sped on; and when the men of the place asked them, “What will you buy?” they gave no answer but this, “We buy the truth,” and hurried on as fast as they could, and you must do the same if you are bound for the Celestial City. It may be that they will not take you, as the people of Vanity Fair took Faithful, and send you to heaven in a chariot of fire, but they will be sure to notice you. In a free country like this, you may be almost anything that you like except a Christian. There is no liberty for you; and you will find that the dogs of hell will bark at you because you are a stranger and a foreigner in this world. If you were a child at home, they would not trouble you, but you are of a different race from the men of the world, who have their portion in this life; and, as you pass along, they will let you know that you do not belong to them. They do not wish to understand you, and you will find that they will be always ready to misrepresent you; and when they have finished their misrepresentation, they will endeavour to laugh you to scorn. Of old, Zion was so remarkable that the nations sent messengers to enquire about it; and today, the people of God are a remarkable people, a pilgrim race, strangers and sojourners in the world, passing on to “a city which has foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God.” If you are a true believer in Christ, you will be sure to be noticed, questioned, quizzed, criticized, caricatured, misrepresented; never mind all that, it is the lot of all the holy seed, and the citizens of Zion must expect such treatment until the Lord himself shall come.

4. Our text may be made to apply to all God’s people, and I shall use the Jews and Zion as the basis on which I shall build up my discourse; from their history we shall try to gather the true meaning of the passage. In it, we have the mention of messengers, and we shall enquire, first, What do these messengers of the nation ask? Secondly, Why should they be answered? And, thirdly, How shall they be answered? “That the Lord has founded Zion, and the poor of his people shall trust in it.”

5. I. First, WHAT DO THESE MESSENGERS ASK?

6. Messengers came from Babylon to Zion, and no doubt one of the first questions they asked was, “What is the treasure of Zion? What is the wealth of this city? It does not stand by the sea, like Tyre, so that it may flourish by its merchandise. It is not situated among the cedars of Lebanon, so that it may sell its precious wood or its carved work. This city stands in a strange place, and yet we see that it is a wealthy place; what is the source and the extent of its wealth?” Unhappily, Hezekiah forgot how to answer that question properly, and he took the Babylonian messengers through his palace, and showed them his material treasures. He led them from one secret cabinet to another, and let them see all his riches; and they looked on with wondering, covetous eyes, and went home to tell what loot there would be there, what a grand place Jerusalem would be to sack, and how Babylon might be all the richer because of the treasures that were hidden there. How unwise was Hezekiah! He ought to have given a far better answer. I have been in churches on the Continent, where I have been asked by the guide whether I would like to see the treasury, and I have seen it. In one church, I saw what was estimated at about a million pounds sterling in the form of plate of different kinds for the adornment of the altar; I saw a treasure which was regarded as far more precious than gold and silver, — a saint with all his bones laid bare, a skeleton saint decorated with emeralds, rubies, and all kinds of precious stones; but it was a ghastly sight for all that. If I had purchased him, I would have speedily buried him. Should not such a treasure be buried in the earth? It is the best place for saints and sinners, too, when they are dead. I do not doubt that living saints are a precious treasure in the Church of God; yet it would not do, if the messengers of the nations asked us what our chief treasure is, to exhibit the members of the church, — saints alive or saints dead, — or to talk about the wealth of the church, or the intellect of the church, or even the earnestness and prayerfulness of the church, precious as these things are. There is a better answer to that question; and our text tells us that the great treasure of the church is the fact that Jehovah has founded her. His grace is the inexhaustible storehouse from which she derives all her spiritual wealth.

7. The messengers of the nations probably asked next, “What is Zion’s confidence?” When city after city had been overthrown by Rabshakeh and Sennacherib, if messengers came into Jerusalem, no doubt they wondered to find the people holding out against the great king who struck and overcame wherever he went; and they said, and Rabshakeh said, “What is your confidence? Has not the king of Assyria struck all the gods of the people whom he has fought? On whose arm do you rely?” If the people had taken the messengers, and told them to look from the rocky sides of Zion, down the steep precipice, and into the ravines, and if they had said, “Who can climb up here?” or if they had pointed to the tower of David, or to the walls of the city well joined together, or to its massive gates, and said, “These are our defences,” it would have been a poor and sorry reply, for no walls withstood the kings of Babylon for long. They brought their battering rams and engines to the siege, and very soon they cast up breastworks {a} and all kinds of entrenchments, and, before long, made a breach in the city walls, and rushed in, and killed the inhabitants. But what a good answer it was to say, “Jehovah is our confidence; he is our defence, our castle and high tower, our battle-axe and weapons of war, and he has said that Sennacherib shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with a shield, nor cast a bank against it. The adversary may come near enough to see the walls and bulwarks of Zion, and count her towers, but he shall not be able to capture her, for ‘God shall help her, and that very early.’ He is our defence. Not the valiant men that stand on the watch-towers, and shoot swift arrows against the foe; not the trained armies that throng her gates, and charge the adversary with sword and shield; but the Lord God is a wall of fire surrounding us, and the glory in our midst.” What a grand answer that was to the question of the messengers!

8. Let us also, beloved, give the same answer to all who ask what our confidence is; let us tell them that our confidence is in God alone. If, dear friends, we are truly citizens of Zion, this is one of the marks of our citizenship, that our entire confidence is in that unseen arm on which we lean. We look only to God for our salvation, and we cast away all confidence in ourselves, or in our fellow men, considering all earthly supports as being like broken cisterns that can hold no water, and trusting only in the deep eternal fount of grace that wells up in the heart of God himself.

9. No doubt the messengers of the nations also asked, “What is the history of this Zion? What is the story of the nation of which Jerusalem is the capital? Where did your forefathers come from? Did they obtain possession of this land with their own bow and their own swords? Have they made advances step by step to the greatness of which they now boast?” The right answer to that question was, “God has founded Zion.” There was the secret of her glorious history, and the messengers ought to have received no other reply but that to their enquiry. Sometimes, nowadays, men come to us, and they say, “Where did your church come from? What is its origin? From where did it arise?” Well, you may tell the story, if you give all the glory to God, and if you reflect all honour on the power of divine truth; but never fail to go back to the very beginning, and answer, “God has founded Zion,” for if there is a church which cannot trace its foundation to the eternal truth of God’s Word, to the eternal power of God’s Spirit, to the eternal founding by God’s own sovereign grace, it is not the Church of God at all.

10. I hope you would give a similar answer to the question about your own history. If you are a believer in Christ, how did you come to be a Christian? How was it that you ever began to love the Lord? How is it that you have a good hope of heaven? How is it that you believe that you have eternal life? This is the answer for you to give, —

    Jesus sought me when a stranger,
       Wandering from the fold of God;
    He, to rescue me from danger,
       Interposed his precious blood.

Each saved soul must say, “It is by God’s grace that I am what I am. Just as God has founded Zion, so he has founded me.”

11. Another question which these messengers would be sure to ask would be this, “What is the expectation of Zion? You say that Jehovah built it, and that he has so far guarded and preserved it; but why is such a little city as this made so conspicuous? Why is it so honoured by the divine presence?” Oh, then I hope the people opened their mouths wide, and told the messengers that God had founded Zion, and that the poor of his people would trust in it; and that they added, “So we have the expectation of being provided for, preserved, delivered, magnified through God’s mercy.” And as for you and me, beloved, when they say to us, “What do you expect?” let us open our mouth wide, and tell what God has done, and what we expect he will yet do for us, — that he will guide us by his counsel, and afterwards receive us to glory, — that he will correct and chasten us as a man chastens his own son, — that he will perfect our education, and then will take us home to dwell with him where sorrow and sighing can never come. Then let us tell them about the coming of our Lord, and of the glory that is wrapped up in his advent; and let our hearts burn and our eyes sparkle as, with joyful lips, we talk about the things which God has prepared for those who love him, and which he has revealed to us by his Spirit.

12. II. Now, secondly, WHY SHOULD THESE MESSENGERS BE ANSWERED?

13. The question in our text is, “What shall one then answer the messengers of the nation?” but there is no hint of any question concerning whether they are to be answered, or not; it is taken for granted that a reply is to be given to their enquiries. I hope, dear brethren, that we shall be ready always to give an answer to every man who asks us a reason for the hope that is in us with meekness and fear. Questions will be sure to be asked of Christians, for they are men wondered at; and hence there is a necessity for us to be well taught by God, and to have our minds stored with heavenly knowledge, so that we may not be dumb when we ought to speak, but may always be ready with such an answer as shall be acceptable to God, and may be beneficial for those who ask the question.

14. Some, who come to Zion, ask questions out of curiosity. I should not wonder if the ambassadors, who came to Jerusalem, looked all around the city with wondering eyes, and kept on enquiring, “What is this? What is that? What is the meaning of this memorial, and what is the intention of this symbol?” They did not ask these questions because they cared particularly about what they saw; possibly they asked even more questions when they were in Edom, or when they sauntered through the streets of Nineveh; but, having come to Jerusalem, they had a curiosity about what was to be seen there, so they began to enquire. In the same way, beloved, there will come to you, to your Zion, to your house, people who will make enquiries about your religion; — not that they love it, or believe in it; — but, still, they would like to know about it. Men are curious about religious matters; they jot down in their note-book information that they gather concerning them. They themselves may not be devout, but they would like to know what is the nature and extent of your devotion. They themselves may not be believers, but they would be glad to learn what kind of faith yours is. Would you discourage this curiosity? I think you would be very unwise if you did so. No; rather, try to make some use of it. It is in itself nothing particularly worthy of notice, but there is at least a measure of hopefulness about it. When men’s minds once begin to work, we are led to hope and pray that the Spirit of God may work with them, and work in them, according to the good pleasure of his grace. It is a very hopeful thing when you, my brethren in the ministry, get an attentive audience to listen to you. Take care that you always give them something worth listening to. It would be a bad day for you and me, in trying to do good, if we could never persuade anyone to listen at all. Let us hold the wedding guest, and detain him with our story, although it may seem to him to be as sad as that of the Ancient Mariner {b} of whom Coleridge speaks. Let us try to hold his attention until we have told him —

    The old, old story
       Of Jesus and his love!

We shall not complain if people ask, simply out of curiosity, about our religion, for that very curiosity will give us an opportunity to set things belonging to the kingdom of God before minds which are somewhat receptive. If you ever lose your present access to those ears, and they grow deaf to your message, you will say, “I wish that even that curiosity would come back again,” for curiosity about the things of God may lead to something better eventually, if you know how to use it wisely. So, we will answer the messengers of the nation, even though they ask merely from curiosity.

15. No doubt there are others who ask out of contempt. The ambassadors of a great power like Babylon, when they passed inside the walls of Zion, most likely said, “So this is your precious capital, is it? This little petty village, that we could put in one corner of Babylon, and never know that it was there, is the city of the great King, is it?” And they laughed within themselves for very scorn, and said, “This little miserable dog-hole is your wonderful city, is it? Why! in Babylon, we have hanging gardens, and wondrous palaces, and mighty works of art, and yet you say, ‘Beautiful for location, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion’ ”; and they gave a loud guffaw at the very thought of what seemed to them so absurd. Well, brethren, shall we refuse to answer when our questioners ask in contempt concerning our Zion? Sometimes, we shall do well not to reply, for we are forbidden to cast pearls before swine; but, on other occasions, we may answer them, because we do not wish men to think that we are ashamed or afraid to declare our convictions, or that we have nothing to say concerning the faith that we hold. Oh, proclaim it, though all Philistia shall be listening! Proclaim it among the nations that the Lord reigns from the tree; proclaim it amid a senate of philosophers or a parliament of kings. This truth might well be written across the sky; and the sun itself, as it makes its daily circuit, should be the Mercury to bear this message everywhere. The heavens should tell the glory of God, and the firmament show his handiwork; and it is our desire and intention to let the gospel be proclaimed wide as the light of day. Proclaim it even to the contemptuous; for, sometimes, even he who despises is not the last to be converted; and an enemy, who has enough light to hate the truth, may have enough to be brought to love it. Do not think that a man like Saul of Tarsus, the persecutor of the saints, is the most hopeless of mankind. God did not think so, but he brought him in penitence to his feet, and made him to be not a whit behind the very chief of his servants. Therefore, if men ask you about religion, even out of contempt, and you can see the sneer on their faces as they ask the question, yet give them an answer. Tell them of Jesus’ dying love, and of all that wonderful plan of salvation arranged by the sovereign grace of God. You may even find your answer in our text: “The Lord has founded Zion, and the poor of his people shall trust in it.”

16. But sometimes, no doubt, the messengers of the nations will ask out of admiration. There were some of them, who came, like the Queen of Sheba, and asked about everything because they admired it all; and there are, perhaps among us, some whose hearts God has touched. They have the first signs and tokens of an affection for the truth, and for the Lord; and when they come where you are who love his dear name, they will ask you many questions most admiringly. Oh, never be slow to answer such enquirers! Indeed; but set out before their eager eyes all the wonders of Zion, and all the glories of your Lord. Tell them what the Lord has done for you, and for all his people. Tell them how you were washed in the blood of the Lamb, how your heart has been changed, and cheered, and comforted. Tell them everything; for, now that the Lord has given them some hungering and some thirsting after these things, now is your time to bring out the “butter in a lordly dish”; now is your opportunity to set before them the Bread that came down from heaven, even Christ Jesus, who is the Bread of life. Now let them all know about the “wines on the lees, well refined,” and the “fat things full of marrow,” for you have before you those who will gladly feed on all the dainties and delights provided in the great banquet of the gospel.

17. And it may be that, while you are telling the story, there will be some enquirers who will ask because they want to enjoy these good things for themselves. The spouse in the Canticles said, “I charge you, oh daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my Beloved, that you tell him, that I am lovesick”; and they then asked her, “What is your Beloved more than another beloved, oh you fairest among women? What is your Beloved more than another beloved, that you charge us like this?” So the spouse sat down, and told them about all his matchless beauties, and finished up by saying, “This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend, oh daughters of Jerusalem.” Then they enquired, “Where is your Beloved gone, oh you fairest among women? — where is your Beloved turned aside? — so that we may seek him with you.” In the same way, dear friends, when you see others who are willing to hear what you can say to them about Christ, do not hesitate to tell them, for perhaps they, too, would gladly love your Saviour. Perhaps they have a wish to participate in the merits of his blood, and the blessings of his salvation, and that is exactly what you wish concerning them, and concerning all mankind, for you often say, —

    His worth, if all the nations knew,
    Sure the whole world would love him, too.

Therefore, tell all who are in the world about it, praying God’s Spirit to open their hearts so that they may receive the message, and may trust is Jesus and be saved.

18. Oh my dear hearers who love the Lord, may none of you be reticent about these precious things; but answer the messengers of the nation whenever you meet them! It may do them good, contemptuous though they may be. It may do them good, though they are, for the time, only curiosity seekers. Tell them, therefore; tell them the story fully; for, at any rate, it will do you good. It is a very useful thing for a man to proclaim what spiritual truth he knows, for he teaches himself by it. It will increase your own sense of safety if you declare to others what the real defence of Zion is. It will increase your own sense of joy if you proclaim what is the true joy of Zion. For your own good, do this; and do it also for the glory of God. You are to be God’s mouth to man; do not let God even seem to be silent because you are idle. Oh you people of God, “You are God’s inheritance”; the word the apostle uses means, “You are God’s clergy”; so I charge you, do not be dumb dogs that cannot bark, but let others know what the Lord has done for your souls! “You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silence”; but speak, and speak, and speak yet again, and give to the messengers of the nations an answer to their enquiries concerning Zion and the Church of the living God.

19. III. Now I come to the closing and most important point. HOW SHALL THESE ENQUIRERS BE ANSWERED?

20. According to our text, they are to be answered by this declaration: “The Lord has founded Zion.” Whenever any religious enquiry is asked of you, let it be definitely made known in your answer that every good thing that you have, or that the Church of God has, comes from God. Leave your hearer in no doubt about this matter; do not let him suppose that it came by your own exertion or merit, but say most plainly, “The Lord has founded Zion.” If one soul is saved, God has done it. If five hundred souls are saved, and, banded together in Christian fellowship, “this is the finger of God.” And if there are tens of thousands of saved saints in the world, this is what the Lord has done by his own almighty power. It is not of man, neither is it by man; but it is by the Lord alone. Make that truth very conspicuous in your answers to all enquirers.

21. And that being done, make this truth equally plain, that the Lord is the Founder of his Church, — his true Church; — that all her doctrines are revealed in his Word, and are her doctrines because he has given them to her; — that her ordinances are taught by Christ himself in his own Word, and, therefore, — and for that reason only, — they are ordinances of his Church. Lay this down with the utmost emphasis, that the Lord has founded Zion concerning her doctrines and her ordinances; and also concerning all the polished stones that he has built into all her walls. Christ is the one foundation of his Church, and God has laid him in Zion as the chief corner-stone, elect, precious; but every stone that is laid on him is laid there according to the divine purpose and predestination, indeed, and by the effective working of the power of the Holy Spirit, who brings men up from the quarry of sin, and builds them on the foundation of Christ crucified.

22. To make our answer to these messengers complete, they will want to know all about our church, and our Zion, so let us acknowledge our own poverty. You notice, in the text, that the answer is: “The Lord has founded Zion, and the poor of his people shall trust in it.” Say to the enquirers, “Ah! you must not look for anything great in us; we are poor by nature, and poor by practice, too; and in ourselves, less than nothing and vanity.” There may be some very good people in the world who think that they are perfect. We are not among them; we could not, dare not, will not, stand up and say, “We thank God that we are not as other men are.” Each one of us would rather strike our breasts, and say, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” It is most important, in our testimony, that we should confess our spiritual poverty, for our Lord Jesus is never magnified unless he is presented as the Saviour of sinners; and grace is never glorified unless sin is denounced and bemoaned. Oh beloved, let your own poverty be a black foil that shall make the precious gem of divine grace shine all the more gloriously in the eyes of men!

23. Then also say that, since God has founded Zion, we intend to cling to her. That is to say, if this Bible is God’s Book, we believe in it from cover to cover. If any doctrine, however mysterious, is taught by the Spirit of God, we accept it. If we do not understand it, we believe it. If there is any ordinance commanded by God, we will obey it to the best of our ability as it is delivered to us. I cannot agree with those who say that they have “new truth” to teach. The two words seem to me to contradict each other; what is new is not true. It is the old that is true, for truth is as old as God. Albeit that its locks are bushy and black as a raven for strength and force, yet I might say of every truth that its head and its hair are white like wool, as white as snow, for its antiquity. “Ah!” but they say, “we are wise in this generation; we have learned so much from this source and that.” Have you? Then keep your precious knowledge to yourselves; we do not covet it. We are content to believe concerning this Word, that the Lord has founded it; and, we, poor simpletons, intend to trust in it, and to cling to it, come what may.

24. Do you notice how sweetly it is put in the text the resolve to trust in what God has founded? “The poor of his people shall trust in it.” The inhabitants of Jerusalem sheltered behind the walls of Zion, and they felt perfectly safe. There was Sennacherib coming up with hordes of Assyrians, apparently numerous enough to eat them all up; but when they knew that God had founded Zion, and intended to preserve her, they might smile at the king of Babylon, and they did so. “The virgin, the daughter of Zion, has despised you, and laughed you to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem has shaken her head at you.” If Zion is founded by God, vain is all the might and malice of man or devil against it, and it shall stand against all who oppose it. I can imagine Luther talking like this, only with stronger sentences than I can put together, and telling the people to join in singing that favourite Psalm of his, the 46th: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth is removed, and though the mountains are carried into the midst of the sea.” Let us also have this brave confidence, my brothers. Trust in Jehovah, and be at ease concerning his truth and cause. Let nothing daunt or disturb you. God has routed greater men than the wiseacres of this century; and when they are all swept into the nothingness from which they came, his truth shall still live and triumph, glory be to the name of him who sent it to us, and by it founded the one only Eternal City, the Church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth! Amen.

{a} Breastworks: Fortification A fieldwork (usually rough and temporary) thrown up a few feet in height for defence against an enemy; a parapet. OED. {b} The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is the longest major poem by the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge written in 1797-1798. See Explorer "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rime_of_the_Ancient_Mariner"

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Isa 14}

1. For the LORD will have mercy on Jacob, and will still choose Israel, and settle them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob.

This promise had a measure of fulfilment when Israel was brought back from Babylon; and it is still true that, when God’s people come to their worst, there is always something better before them. On the other hand, it is equally certain that, when sinners come to their best, there is always something terrible awaiting them. The apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, “God has not cast away his people whom he foreknew”; and his declaration agrees with this prophecy, “The Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will still choose Israel, and settle them in their own land.” I believe that there will be a far grander fulfilment of this prophecy in that day when God shall bring back his chosen people to their own country, and then the fulness of blessing shall be to the Gentiles also: “The strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob.”

2. And the people shall take them, and bring them to their place: and the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of the LORD for servants and handmaids: and they shall take them captives, whose captives they were; and they shall rule over their oppressors.

The chosen people have the worst of it now in many parts of the world, but they shall have the best of it eventually; they shall not always be trampled on, their time of elevation shall come at the last, and there is nothing after the last; what is last, lasts for ever.

3, 4. And it shall come to pass in the day that the LORD shall give you rest from your sorrow, and from your fear, and from the hard bondage in which you were made to serve, that you shall take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, “How has the oppressor ceased! The golden city ceased!

Oh child of God, you shall eventually have a glorious season of rest! Today is your time of labour; you are now under hard bondage; but you shall yet come out into the fulness of your liberty in Christ Jesus. In that day, Jehovah himself shall give you rest from all your grief and fears; you shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

This was a great prophecy for Isaiah to utter, for, in his day, there was no power on earth equal to that of Babylon. That great city abounded in palaces and extraordinary wealth, and its power was such that no kingdom could stand against it. For a while, it broke in pieces all those who fought against it; yet God broke Babylon in his own time; and here is a song of rejoicing in anticipation of its overthrow, “How has the oppressor ceased! The golden city ceased!”

5. The LORD has broken the staff of the wicked, and the sceptre of the rulers.

No power can ever be permanently strong that is founded on wickedness; sooner or later, it will have to come to an end. A falsehood may array itself in the garments of wisdom and strength, and go out to fight hopefully for victory; but, in the end, it must die. The stone of truth will strike the giant’s brow, and lay him headlong in death.

6, 7. He who struck the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he who ruled the nations in anger, is persecuted, and no one hinders. The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break out into singing.

The Babylon, that no one could resist, becomes herself destroyed, and there is no one to come to her assistance. Go there today, and see where the owl dwells, and see the habitation of the dragons, and say to yourself, “This is Babylon, the great city that was the queen over all nations; but she did evil in the sight of the Lord, and spoke extremely proudly; and, behold, Jehovah has crumbled her into the dust; and, now that Babylon is gone, ‘the whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break out into singing.’ ”

8. Yes, the fir trees rejoice over you, and the cedars of Lebanon, saying, ‘Since you are cut down, no woodsman is come up against us.’

For the cruel kings of Babylon cut down the nations as the woodsman with his axe fells the trees of the forest; but when the power of Babylon was broken, peace and quietness reigned everywhere. Oh brethren, what a blissful day it will be when the modern Babylon is taken away also, for to this hour she is the troubler among the nations! Wherever the blight of Popery comes, there is evil, there is oppression, there is bondage; and only when Romanism shall be utterly swept away, and cast like a millstone into the flood, will it be said, “The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break out into singing.”

Here is a very wonderful picture of the king of Babylon going down to the grave.

9, 10. Hell from beneath is moved for you to meet you at your coming: it stirs up the dead for you, even all the chief ones of the earth; it has raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations. All of them shall speak and say to you, ‘Are you also become weak as we are? Are you become like us?

It is a fine pictorial representation of the spirits of departed kings lifting themselves up from their beds of dust, and saying, “Are you, king of Babylon, who killed us, also come here? The mighty conqueror, are you yourself conquered, and brought to the grave?”

11-15, Your pomp is brought down to the grave, and the sound of your harps: the worm is spread under you, and the worms cover you.’ How are you fallen from heaven, oh Lucifer, son of the morning! How are you cut down to the ground, who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart, ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will also sit on the mount of the congregation, on the sides of the north: I will ascend above the height of the clouds; I will be like the Most High.’ Yet you shall be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

God hates pride with a perfect hatred. He drives his sword through the very heart of it, and cuts it in pieces. No one can be great and mighty, and boast of what they are able to do, without provoking the King of kings to use against them some of his great power. Oh, let none of us talk about climbing to heaven by our good works, or getting there by our merits, lest it should happen to us also that we should “be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.”

16-18. Those who see you shall gaze on you, and consider you, saying, ‘Is this the man who made the earth to tremble, who shook kingdoms; who made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed its cities; who did not open the house of his prisoners?’ All the kings of the nations, even all of them, sleep in glory, everyone in his own house.

That is, they lie in state, each one in the mausoleum of his family. They went down to death, and they were buried with all the honour and glory that were supposed to be due to their high position.

19. But you are cast out of your grave like an abominable branch, and as the clothing of those who are slain, thrust through with a sword, who go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcass trodden underfoot.

So total, so terrible, so disgraceful, was the destruction of Babylon, that no honour or glory remained for it.

20-22. You shall not be joined with them in burial, because you have destroyed your land, and killed your people: the seed of evildoers shall never be renowned. Prepare slaughter for his children for the iniquity of their fathers; so that they do not rise, nor possess the land, nor fill the face of the world with cities.’ For I will rise up against them,” says the LORD of hosts, —

And he has done it. It seemed the most unlikely thing to happen; but the Lord spoke, and it was done; and all the glory of Babylon was swept away. “ ‘I will rise up against them,’ says the Lord of hosts,” —

22-27. And cut off from Babylon the name, and remnant, and son, and nephew,” says the LORD. “I will also make it a possession for the bittern, and pools of water: and I will sweep it with the besom of destruction,” says the LORD of hosts. The LORD of hosts has sworn, saying, “Surely as I have thought, so it shall come to pass; and just as I have purposed, so it shall stand: that I will break the Assyrian in my land, and on my mountains tread him underfoot: then his yoke shall depart from off them, and his burden depart from off their shoulders. This is the purpose that is purposed on the whole earth: and this in the hand that is stretched out on all the nations. For the LORD of hosts has purposed, and who shall annul it? And his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?”

And God did this to the Assyrians in the day when Sennacherib invaded the land, and the angel of destruction killed the whole army in one night. What a striking simile the Lord uses here! “This is the hand that is stretched out on all the nations. For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who shall annul it? And his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?” Conceive in your mind the picture drawn here, — Jehovah himself stretches out the hand of his almightiness, and challenges the nations to stand up in opposition to it.

28. In the year that King Ahaz died was this burden.

About this time, the Philistines had plucked up courage, and had invaded Judah.

29. “Do not rejoice, all you of Palestina, because the rod of him who struck you is broken: for out of the serpent’s root shall come out a cockatrice, and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent.

Ahaz was defeated, but Hezekiah was raised up to be the leader of the LORD’s people.

30. And the firstborn of the poor shall feed, and the needy shall lie down in safety: and I will kill your root with famine, and he shall kill your remnant.

If God’s enemies have a bright day or two, it shall soon be showery weather with them. They may for the moment exalt over God’s people, but he knows that their day of reckoning is coming.

31. Howl, oh gate; cry, oh city; all you of Palestina are dissolved: for there will come from the north a smoke, and no one shall be alone in his appointed times.”

That is the way the Babylonians would come running down from the north. No one would be able to hide himself from them, not a single person would find a shelter, or escape from their terrible adversaries.

32. What shall one then answer the messengers of the nation? That the LORD has founded Zion, and the poor of his people shall trust in it.

Though the passage seems dark at first, yet it is full of consolation for the people of God, and is of similar importance to that other gracious promise: “No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall condemn.”

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 46” 46 @@ "(Version 1)"}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Joy and Peace — Doubts Scattered; Or, Spiritual Joy Restored” 722}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Church — God’s Faithfulness To His Church” 886}


Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 46 (Version 1)
1 God is the refuge of his saints,
   When storms of sharp distress invade;
   Ere we can offer our complaints,
   Behold him present with his aid.
2 Let mountains from their seats be hurl’d
   Down to the deep, and buried there;
   Convulsions shake the solid world,
   Our faith shall never yield to fear.
3 Loud my the troubled ocean roar,
   In sacred peace our souls abide;
   While every nation, every shore,
   Trembles, and dreads the swelling tide.
4 There is a stream whose gentle flow
   Supplies the city of our God:
   Life, love, and joy, still gliding through,
   And watering our divine abode.
5 That sacred stream, thine holy Word,
   That all our raging fears controls:
   Sweet peace thy promises afford,
   And give new strength to fainting souls.
6 Sion enjoys her Monarch’s love,
   Secure against a threat’ning hour;
   Nor can her firm foundations move,
   Built on his truth, and arm’d with power.
                           Isaac Watts, 1719.
Psalm 46 (Version 2.)
1 God is our refuge and our strength,
   In straits a present aid:
   Therefore, although the earth remove,
   We will not be afraid.
2 Though hills amidst the seas be cast;
   Though waters roaring make,
   And troubled be; yea, though the hills
   By swelling seas do shake.
3 A river is, whose streams do glad
   The city of our God;
   The holy place, wherein the Lord
   Most high hath his abode.
4 God in the midst of her doth dwell;
   Nothing shall her remove:
   The lord to her an helper will,
   And that right early, prove.
5 Our God, who is the lord of hosts,
   Is still upon our side;
   The God of Jacob, our defence
   For ever will abide.
                     Scotch Version, 1641, a.
Psalm 46 (Version 3)
1 God is our refuge, tried and proved,
   Amid a stormy world:
   We will not fear though earth be moved,
   And hills in ocean hurl’d.
2 The waves may roar, the mountains shake,
   Our comforts shall not cease;
   The Lord his saints will not forsake;
   The Lord will give us peace.
3 A gentle stream of hope and love
   To us shall ever flow;
   It issues from his throne above,
   It cheers his church below.
4 When earth and hell against us came,
   He spake, and quell’d their powers;
   The Lord of hosts is still the same,
   The God of grace is ours.
                  Henry Francis Lyte, 1834.


The Christian, Joy and Peace
722 — Doubts Scattered; Or, Spiritual Joy Restored
1 Hence from my soul, sad thoughts, begone,
      And leave me to my joys;
   My tongue shall triumph in my God,
      And make a joyful noise.
2 Darkness and doubts had veil’d my mind,
      And drown’d my head in tears,
   Till sovereign grace with shining rays
      Dispell’d my gloomy fears.
3 Oh what immortal joys I felt,
      And raptures all divine,
   When Jesus told me I was his,
      And my Beloved mine!
4 In vain the tempter frights my soul,
      And breaks my peace in vain;
   One glimpse, dear Saviour, of thy face
      Revives my joys again.
                           Isaac Watts, 1709.


Church
886 — God’s Faithfulness To His Church <8.7.4.>
1 Zion stands by hills surrounded,
      Zion kept by power divine;
   All her foes shall be confounded,
      Though the world in arms combine:
         Happy Zion,
      What a favour’d lot is thine!
2 Every human tie may perish;
      Friend to friend unfaithful prove;
   Mothers cease their own to cherish;
      Heaven and earth at last remove;
         But no changes
      Can attend Jehovah’s love.
3 Zion’s Friend in nothing alters,
      Though all others may and do;
   His is love that never falters,
      Always to its object true.
         Happy Zion!
      Crown’d with mercies ever new.
4 If thy God should show displeasure,
      ‘Tis to save, and not destroy;
   If he punish, tis in measure;
      ‘Tis to rid thee of alloy.
         Be thou patient;
      Soon thy grief shall turn to joy.
5 In the furnace God may prove thee,
      Thence to bring thee forth more bight;
   But can never cease to love thee;
      Thou art precious in his sight:
         God is with thee,
      God thine everlasting light.
                        Thomas Kelly, 1806.

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

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Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

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