2815. Good Cheer For Many Who Fear

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Good Cheer For Many Who Fear

No. 2815-49:37. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, Early In The Year 1861, By C. H. Spurgeon, At New Park Street Chapel, Southwark.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, January, 25, 1903.

Say to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, do not fear.” {Isa 35:4}

1. This is an exhortation which is addressed, not to one person, but to several. In the third verse, you can see that the message runs, “Strengthen the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.” What, Lord! is not one man sufficient for this task? Will not one of your servants, when he repeats your precious promises, be able to drive away the fears of your people? Will not half a word be enough to put to route their foolish, baseless suspicions and surmises? No; they need many comforters. It is not enough, oh Lord, that one should come and speak in your name! No, “for precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.” We are a people of a stubborn will, and of a wayward heart, oh God, too often we wander from your ways! It is good, therefore, that God has spoken like this, not simply to one of his servants, but to all those who love his appearing, and rejoice in the certainty of his promises: “Say, all of you,” for I may properly supply the pronoun here, “say to those who are of a fearful heart, ‘Be strong, do not fear.’ ”

2. Let me observe that, in the original, the word for “fearful” is “hasty.” Now, a hasty man is never a wise man; and it is equally true that a “fearful” man is never prudent. Fearful men are always hasty; they jump to conclusions. They say, with Jacob, “All these things are against me,” because they cannot see to the end of the Lord’s plans. They forget that he has great pity, and is full of compassion. Circumstance or expediency is their guiding star. They try to follow the track of the meteors, which fly here and there across the midnight sky; they forget the pole-star of God’s truth and faithfulness. They go to sea without chart or compass, and they are driven backwards and forwards by contrary winds; and even when there is no wind they do not know how to steer their ship. As you know, even in this world’s affairs, a hasty man is constantly getting himself into trouble. He speculates in certain stocks and shares because some con artist has told him that he can gain by doing so; and soon he hears quite a different story, some great disaster is about to come; he hastily believes the lie, and is again deceived.

3. So it is with fearful souls; they are always doing this or that on the hasty impulse of an ill-drawn conclusion. So they are constantly misjudging their God, misusing his Word, misdirecting their own steps, bringing a world of trouble on themselves, and dishonour on the name of their God. Fearful souls are hasty souls. They judge the Lord by feeble sense, by the bitterness of the bud, and not by the sweetness of the flower. They judge by the clouds of the morning, forgetting that the clouds may soon be scattered, and that the sun may shine out brightly again. To them, then, who are of a hasty heart; to those who condemn themselves unjustly, who think that all things are against them, and so become extremely fearful, say, “Be strong, do not fear.”

4. I am going, first of all, to mention some of the spiritual fears which have vexed the people of God at all times, fears from without, which are associated with a belief of the truth. Secondly, I will mention some fears from the feelings within. Then, thirdly, I shall try to motivate you to get beyond these fearful things, and to come up to the place of strength, the place of confidence and of full assurance.

5. I. First, then, I am to mention SOME OF THE GREAT TRUTHS CONCERNING WHICH THE PEOPLE OF GOD ARE OFTEN FEARFUL.

6. How many there are, babes in grace, who are troubled about election “Are we among the Lord’s chosen ones?” is a question that they often ask. They would be glad enough if an angel could fly down from heaven, and make a solemn affirmation that he had read their names written in the golden page of the Lamb’s book of life; but, since they cannot have this assurance, they question, and question, and question yet again. “Suppose I have not been chosen to eternal life? What if my name was never inscribed on the hands or on the heart of Christ? When the muster-roll of the redeemed is read at the last great day, if my name should not be found in it, how can I bear that piercing thought? The dread surmise fills me with dismay.”

7. Now, to you who are trusting in Jesus, yet who have fears about your election, let me say, in God’s name, “Be strong, do not fear.” That very doctrine of election, which now appears to you to be like a lion in your way, shall prove, eventually, to be indeed a lion on which you shall ride in glorious triumph. It is no enemy; come and look it in the face, and you shall find it to be your richest, dearest friend. If you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, you are as certainly elected as Peter and Paul ever were. If, as an empty sinner, Christ is all your fulness; — if, as a naked soul, Christ’s righteousness is your glorious dress; — then be assured of this, you would never have had the stream if you had not had an interest in the fountain, you could never have had the fruit if you had not had a part in the root. Inasmuch as you have the blessing of God’s elect, and the faith which is the common characteristic of them all, do not question your election any longer; but be bold to enter into this solemn mystery, venture now to the heart of Christ, trace the streams of divine love up to the eternal fountain from which they spring, and say, with John Kent, —

    A monument of grace,
       A sinner saved by blood:
    The streams of love I trace
       Up to the Fountain, God;
    And in his sacred bosom see
    Eternal thoughts of love to me.

8. Again, there are many of God’s people who are unsettled concerning their redemption. They want to know whether they were specially redeemed with the precious blood of Christ. According to some theories, no one need ever be perplexed about this matter. The Arminian says, “Christ died for all men.” Some go so far as to say, “He died for all alike.” According to them, he died as much for Judas as he did for Peter, and as much for those who were damned in hell before he laid down his life as for those who were saved in heaven before he came into the world. Now, I do not hesitate to say that such a redemption as that — a redemption that does not redeem, — is not worth the expense of paper and ink to write about it; it is not worth while to open one’s mouth to speak of it. A redemption which pays a price, but does not ensure what is purchased, — a redemption which calls Christ a Substitute for the sinner, but yet which allows the person for whom he was substituted to suffer in his own person, — is altogether unworthy of our apprehensions of Almighty God, it offers no homage to his wisdom, and does despite to his covenant faithfulness. We could not, and we would not, receive such a travesty of divine truth as that would be; there is no basis for any comfort whatever in it.

9. We believe that, by his atoning sacrifice, Christ bought some good things for all men, and all good things for some men; and that, when he died, he had a definite purpose in dying, and that his purpose will certainly be accomplished. Those who are saved owe their security to what his redemption has accomplished, and we fully believe that the accomplishment will be just as great as was the intent and purpose. Not, my brethren, that Christ’s blood was less than infinite in its value, — less than infinite it could never be. The question is not concerning its value, but its purpose. If God had willed it, there was enough efficacy in the blood of Christ to have redeemed ten thousand worlds. However, we do not have to speak of the efficacy that might have been in it, but of the efficacy that is in it according to the good pleasure which God has purposed in himself. This doctrine of a special and particular intention in the atonement of Christ has often troubled believers in Jesus; but it never ought to do so. Do you believe in him? Is he all your salvation, and all your desire? Has his precious blood been applied by the Spirit to your heart and conscience? Has he purged you with hyssop? Then, you are clean, and that hyssop cannot have been applied to you in a wrong way. Being pardoned, you have the fruit of redemption, so redemption is certainly yours, too. Jesus came into the world to redeem you for himself. You are his, and in the efficacy of his blood and the power of his atonement you have a clear and proper right to share. Therefore, I say to you who, on this account, are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, do not fear.”

10. There are many, also, who are troubled about their effectual calling. “Oh!” one says, “if I had heard the Master say to me, as he said to Zacchaeus, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry, and come down, for today I must stay at your house,’ then I should know that I was called by him. Or if he had said to me, ‘Mary,’ and I had said, ‘Rabboni,’ I should know that he had called me. But, oh, sir! I have come to Christ, yet I sometimes fear that he has never called me. He knows that he is my All-in-all; I have no other refuge; but I am half-afraid that I have gotten into this refuge without any right, that I crept up to the foot of the cross without being called, and that I have taken to myself a confidence which has no solid basis.” Oh child of God, dismiss all those fears! You could not have come to Christ unless he had first come to you. If you have only come behind him in the crowd, and only touched the hem of his garment, you are cured, and you shall never again suffer from that disease. That poor woman was not called by Christ’s voice; yet I will venture to say that there was a secret call, within her heart, that moved her to touch the hem of his garment. You may never know exactly how you were first convicted of sin, nor how you were quickened by the Holy Spirit; but if you have really come to Christ, that is enough, for you would never have come to him unless he had drawn you. He has put the bands of his love secretly around your heart, and you have turned to him as the needle turns to the magnet. The proof that you have been called by Christ is that you have come to him.

11. I have frequently noticed that those people, who think that they have had some special and particular call, have been no better, in regard to their evidences, and sometimes they have been much worse, than those who have come to Christ in the more ordinary way. I would not say this to the disparagement of any man’s conversion, for God works as he wishes; but I remember, and my eye is just now fixed on the very place where there once sat a man, who presented to me a Bible, (I have it at home now,) in which are written these words, “ ‘Zacchaeus, hurry, and come down, for today I must stay at your house.’ Dear sir, — When you pronounced these words, last Sabbath morning, I heard a call from God to my soul, and I am sure that I came down, and that Christ did stay at my house.” That man joined us in church fellowship; I shall not mention his name, but some of you may remember how sadly he dishonoured the name of Christ. He went out from us because he was not of us; for, if he had been of us, doubtless he would have continued with us. It is very easy for us to imagine that we have received some special call of this kind, and then to build our confidence on it; but if we do not have something better than this to rest on, woe is that day to us! I would far rather, my dear friends, come to Christ, and never know that I had been called except from the fact that I had come, than have some vision or audible words, yet, after all, cease to stand as a simple soul, covered with the righteousness of Christ; for well do I know that there is a temptation to look back to the day and to the hour when we had some special revelation, rather than still to look only to the cross and to the blood; and to calculate that we are converted because we felt this or that extraordinary emotion, instead of still coming, as we always must come, crying to our dear Lord and Saviour, —

    Nothing in my hand I bring,
    Simply to thy cross I cling.

12. Another fear, arising from the great and precious doctrine of final perseverance, has troubled many a true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. “How shall I hold on, and persevere to the end?” is a question that often causes great anxiety even for a genuine child of God. The best of things, when corrupted, become the most corrupt. The sweetest of comforts, when not believed in, become the bitterest of discomforts. I think that the doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints is one of those that are most plainly taught in the Scriptures. If I found any difficulty, at any time, in defending against its assailants the doctrine of particular redemption, I should certainly never find any difficulty in defending the doctrine of final perseverance. Those who oppose it have an irresistible array of passages of Scripture to contend with; they have, indeed, when they attack this truth, to leap into a lion’s den. It is strange that so many of the Lord’s people should have been troubled concerning this precious doctrine, which is so clearly revealed in the Word of God. “How shall I endure to the end? How shall I stand firm in the hour of trial? If my temptations are multiplied, if my pains are increased, if my bereavements should follow one after another, if I should be called to a position of great responsibility, or if I should be cast down into the depths of adversity, how shall I endure it? How shall I be kept steadfast, year after year, and be brought safely home at last? Amid so many rocks and quicksands, storms and hurricanes, how shall my poor waterlogged vessel ever enter the port?” Oh believer, if you are really called by grace, you shall certainly persevere! He who started your feet running in his ways will never let you stop until you have come to your journey’s end. Christ’s promise to all his people is, “Because I live, you shall live also.” Your perseverance does not rest with you, otherwise you would indeed be an undone wretch; but it rests with your Lord and Saviour, and he will preserve you even to the end. “As your days, so shall your strength be.” With the temptation, he will make a way of escape so that you shall be able to bear it. So again I say to you who are troubled about your ultimate salvation, “Be strong, do not fear.” He who has begun the good work in you will carry it on, and finish it in righteousness; he will not leave you, for his promise to everyone who believes in him is, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”

13. II. So I have dealt with some fears from without; now I am going, for a few minutes only, to speak on SOME OF THE FEARS WHICH COME FROM WITHIN.

14. Multitudes of believers are of a fearful heart because they do not have the joys and comforts with which some Christians are favoured. God has some of his people who live very near to himself, and who, therefore, partake of the richest things on his banqueting table. These privileged saints express their joys; but certain desponding Christians, who have backslidden from God, and who, therefore, have not recently tasted these dainties, cry out, “We cannot be the Lord’s people, for we have no such joys as these.” As well might the plant in the corner say that it was not planted at all, because it did not stand in the front row of the flowerbed. As well might some small tree in the forest say that it did not live, because it did not tower aloft, like some mighty cedar of Lebanon. Because I am not the fairest rose, but only a humble violet, hidden among the green leaves, am I to conclude that I am not a flower at all? Oh, no, no! We are not saved by our comforts; they are given to us after we are saved, but we are saved without them. Many a soul has gone to hell singing, while others have gone to heaven sighing. It is not right that God’s people should hang their harps on the willows; but it is far better for us to hang our harps on the willows than, like Haman, to be hanged on the gallows — that, in his pride and malice, he had erected for his enemy, Mordecai. Because we do not have all the comforts which some Christians have, let us not be fretful and repine; that is the way to prevent ourselves from ever having them. I would say of the comforts of religion as Christ said of the comforts of this world, “Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Seek Christ first; have simple faith in him; and then the ecstasies, the raptures, the enjoyments, the upliftings, which some of his people have, shall be given to you if the Lord sees that it is good for you to have them. But if you seek those things first, you shall neither have them nor any other kind of comfort whatever.

15. There are very many, also, who are greatly cast down because of the conflict within. As soon as there are wars and fightings between the two men, — the old man and the new man, they conclude at once that it is all over with them. Foolish conclusion, indeed! since, if there were no wars, it would be a proof that there was no life. If there were no conflicts, it would be an evidence that there was only one power within, and that power the evil one. Do not draw, from your internal commotions, from the temptation which assails you, and the force with which it acts against your inward principles, — do not draw the inference that, therefore, you are a castaway of God. This is rather a reason why you should cry, “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” and by faith should shout, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

16. I have encountered very many, too, who are of a fearful heart because they have such little faith, and they fear that their little faith will not be sufficient. Ah, believer! your true riches do not depend on the amount of your spending-money. The Lord sometimes keeps his children rather short of pocket money; but, still, all of his riches belong to them all the while. The unsearchable riches of Christ are the measure of our true wealth; not that portion which we can manage to lay hold of by the hand of faith. If I have, in my hand, only one farthing of faith’s wealth, that is a proof that all the riches of Christ belong to me. If I only have faith as a grain of mustard seed, — so small that it looks as though the first bird of the air, that came my way, might carry it away, — yet, inasmuch as there is life hidden within that tiny mustard seed, a life which only needs the grace of God to expand and develop it, — I am saved, though my faith is only small.

17. I have known a few, too, who are troubled with doubts and fears because they do not understand as much as they would like to do. They cannot read books of divinity; or, if they do read them, they get lost amid the maze of difficult theological terms. They cannot reconcile certain truths with each other. But this is no reason for fear, for the gospel is so simple that it is adapted even for those who are all but idiots. I have read about some extraordinary cases — facts that no one can dispute, — of people scarcely a degree above sheer idiocy, who have, nevertheless, believed in Christ, — indeed, and whose sayings have had about them certain flashes of a superlative simplicity and supernatural wisdom; and whose words, when they were sifted, and carefully examined, were found to read rather like the mind of the Spirit than like the utterances of a poor creature whose mind was almost gone. Do not think, dear friend, that your ignorance can push you out of the family of God. Little children cannot read Greek and Latin, but they can say, “Abba, Father,” and that is all they need to say. If you cannot read books of deep theological lore, yet, if Jesus Christ is yours, if you are trusting in him, even the imperfect knowledge that you have of him proves that you are his, and he will never leave you, nor forsake you.

18. I have encountered some, too, who were of a fearful heart, afraid that they would be lost, because they felt that they had, at some time of their lives, neglected some Christian duty. This is an old temptation that Satan often casts in the way of godly people. You remember how John Bunyan represents Apollyon as charging poor Christian with being unfaithful: “You fainted when you first set out, when you were almost choked in the Slough of Despond; you attempted wrong ways to be rid of your burden, whereas you should have waited until your Prince had taken it off; you sinfully slept, and lost your choice thing; you were also almost persuaded to go back, at the sight of the lions; and when you talk about your journey, and about what you have heard and seen, you are inwardly desirous of pride in all that you say or do.” Now, if any of you should be troubled by similar accusations from the adversary, remember that, since Christ did not love you for your good works, — they are not the cause of his beginning to love you, — so he does not love you for your good works even now, — they are not the reason for his continuing to love you. He loves you because he will love you. What he approves of in you now is what he has himself given to you; that is always the same, it always remains as it was. The life of God is always within you; Jesus has not turned away his heart from you, nor has the flame of his love decreased in the smallest degree. Therefore, faint heart, “do not fear, be strong.”

19. III. I might go on to deal with other fears of God’s people; but, instead of doing so, I want TO MOTIVATE YOU TO GET BEYOND THESE FEARS; in the words of my text, to exhort you to “not fear,” but to “be strong.”

20. Some few Sabbaths ago, I told you that I had met a Christian brother who had never had a doubt. Recently, in Glasgow, I met another one. Mr. Alexander Macleod, the oldest Baptist minister, I believe, in Scotland, told me that he was converted to God, on the Calton Hill, under Rowland Hill’s ministry. He is now, I suppose, eighty-two or eighty-three years of age, and is still a strong man. He has known the Lord for more than sixty years; but he says that not once in his life did he ever have a doubt concerning his election, his calling, his interest in Christ, or his final perseverance. He said that he once heard a Unitarian {a} minister preach against the divinity of Christ, and his mind was greatly disturbed; but he never went the length of having any doubt, either about Christ, or about his own interest in him. I knew the man to be revered everywhere for his piety, and for the holiness and consistency of his life; I could not, therefore, doubt the truth of what he told me. But I was surprised, — not at him, but at myself, that I, who have the same God as he has, and perhaps have had more mercies than he has received, that I, in the full vigour of early manhood, should doubt, while he, in his old age, should be able truthfully to declare that his soul had never wavered in his simple confidence in Jesus. When I expressed my surprise at him, he expressed a great deal more surprise at me. He said that he came to Christ, as a poor sinner, and trusted him to be his All-in-all, and he did not intend to alter his belief until he saw a good reason for doing so. I hope that you and I, dear friends, will come to Jesus yet again, as poor sinners, and take him to be our All-in-all, and never change from that simple faith until we see a good reason for doing so; which, I take it, will never be as long as the heart of Christ is full of affections, the arm of Jesus is unpalsied through affliction, or the eye of Christ is undimmed with age.

21. I am sure that Satan is very much gratified when he sees that any of us are of a fearful heart; no doubt, he chuckles over it, and makes as much as he ever can of his sorry triumph over poor weak mortals. Do not yield to him, beloved. Draw your swords, and strike boldly at him; believe that you will overcome him, and you will do so. March forward, and believe that the land of promise is yours; for it is yours, and you shall surely go up and possess it. Is it necessary that the children of God should be a doubting people? Is it necessary that they should be continually cast down? By no means. For it is a great and grievous sin for us to doubt our God. Let us trust in him at all times, and even say, with Job, “Though he kills me, yet I will trust in him.”

22. The path of faith is the smoothest path, after all. The road of life will always be rough, but he who walks by faith will find half its roughness removed. The greater part of our sorrows do not come from heaven, nor hell, nor earth, but from ourselves. We are our own plague-makers, and our own tormentors. A man with strong faith is like one who wears a leather glove, who can lay hold of thorns and thistles, and not be hurt; but the man with weak faith is like one, not only with a naked hand, but with the skin off it; everything he touches irritates the tender flesh, and even the small grains of dust may fester within the wound, and breed ulcers and foul sores. “Be strong.” God is with you, so how dare you be dismayed because of your own weakness? “Do not fear.” The Lord is your confidence; it is presumption for you to doubt him. “Be strong.” The might of God is engaged, by promise and by oath, to bring you safely through. “Do not fear.” There is no reason for fear; the enemies whom you have seen today, you shall see again no more for ever. “Do not fear.” Fear weakens you; moreover, it dishonours God, and gives a reason to the enemy to blaspheme his holy name.

23. I do not know whether this is a portion of food for any troubled heart here present; possibly, it may be. If so, poor soul, feed on it. You have gone to a new job, have you not, and there are some ungodly young men who revile and ridicule you? Well, then, “do not fear, be strong.” Your business does not prosper so well as it did, and you hardly know what will become of you. “Do not fear, be strong.” Commit your cause to the Lord, lay your case at his feet. Possibly you have sickness in the house, and you are half inclined to repine, and to think that there is some anger mingled with the strokes of the rod. “Do not fear, be strong.” Either the blow you dread will never be inflicted, or it will be a blessed blow. This is only a slight sorrow; — do you think that I am hard and unfeeling in describing it like this? But it may be that this sorrow will be very slight compared with that from which you are spared; if this blow did not fall, it might involve a ten times’ heavier one. Perhaps you have been severely tempted by Satan recently, and he says that he shall have you at the last. “Be strong, do not fear.” Strike him all the harder for telling that lie; strike at him with all your power, for, in the might of God, you are mightier by far than he is, and you can prevail over him. And you, young man, have recently undertaken service for your Saviour, but you feel that you do not have the strength needed for it, and you are inclined to give it up. “Do not fear, be strong.” He who calls you to his service will support you in it. You and I have to stand like Gideon’s soldiers, with the lamp inside the pitcher; that pitcher needs to be broken before the light of the lamp can be seen. The strength of man is like that clay pitcher, and the light of God cannot shine out until that pitcher is smashed to pieces.

24. There is one person I must not forget, perhaps more. There are those who know that they are drawing near to the grave; the shadows lengthen out, and their life becomes like the spider’s web, and they are afraid — afraid to die. They know the living Saviour, but they fear the dying hour. They think death’s stream is dark, and cold, and deep; how shall they pass through it to reach the Celestial City? “Do not fear, be strong.” Death is the last enemy, and he is to be destroyed. Remember that, and be of good cheer. He shall not destroy you. Do not call him Death the destroyer, but Death the destroyed. Be certain of victory in your last moments; indeed, look forward even now, with hopeful joy, to that most blessed of all moments when, laying your head on the death pillow, you shall find that Christ’s bosom is the place where that pillow lies, and you shall breathe your life out sweetly there, finding no iron gates, no shadow of dark wings, no horror of darkness, no dying strife; but bliss beginning, bliss increasing, bliss overflowing, and running on for ever and ever, bliss that shall be yours beyond all possibility of loss.

25. May God grant to each one of us that we may be strong, and not fear, for Christ’s sake Amen.

{a} Unitarian: One who affirms the unipersonality of the Godhead, especially as opposed to an orthodox Trinitarian. OED.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Isa 45}

While we are reading this chapter, and thinking of Cyrus, the Lord’s anointed deliverer for Israel, let us not forget the greater Deliverer of whom the hymn writer sings, —

    Thus saith God of his Anointed;
       He shall let my people go;
    ’Tis the work for him appointed,
       ’Tis the work that he shall do;
          And my city
    He shall found, and build it, too.

1. Thus says the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the armour of kings, to open before him the two-leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut;

It was thought impossible for any foreign troops to enter Babylon; yet the gates were found open, and the army of Cyrus marched in, and took possession of the city.

2, 3. “I will go before you, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of bronze, and cut asunder the bars of iron: and I will give you the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, so that you may know that I, the LORD, who calls you by your name, am the God of Israel.

Whenever God calls a man to do any work, however difficult and even impossible it may seem to be, he will certainly accomplish it, because he will have God with him. The Lord will gird his loins, and make him strong, and all the forces of providence shall work towards the accomplishment of the divine purpose. Has God given you any work to do? It may be a much easier task than that of Cyrus; so, since the Lord enabled him to succeed in his great enterprise, you may have confidence that his power is sufficient to give success to you also. It may seem to be presumption for you to undertake such a work; yet, if you are called by God to do it, go on without a shadow of a doubt, for he will make the crooked places straight, and break in pieces the gates of bronze, and cut asunder the bars of iron.

We must not forget that, whatever God did with respect to Cyrus, was done with an eye to the welfare of his own people.

4. For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel my elect, I have even called you by your name: I have surnamed you, though you have not known me.

And all the powers and princes, that arise in this world, God can use for the good of his Church. All the nations, and kingdoms, and powers that be, are only like so much scaffolding for the building of God’s own house, and he makes use of them as he pleases, though, often, they do not know what he is doing with them.

5, 6. I am the LORD, and there is no one else, there is no God besides me: I girded you, though you have not known me: that they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is no one besides me. I am the LORD, and there is no one else.

This was intended to correct the mistake of Cyrus, who probably was a {b} fire-worshipper, — a believer in the two great forces of good and evil, which were supposed to be equally eternal and powerful, which the Persians regarded as the god of good and the god of evil. So the Lord says: —

7. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

There are not two distinct principles that are omnipotent; and though God is not the Author of moral evil, yet whatever there is of evil, which causes us pain and loss, is under his control. There are not two gods; but only one living and true God.

8-10. Drop down, you heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring out salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it. Woe to him who strives with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay, say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or your work, ‘He has no hands?’ Woe to him who says to his father, ‘What are you begetting?’ or to the woman, ‘What have you brought forth?’ ”

God, on the basis of his being Creator, demands that he shall not be questioned by human wisdom, nor dictated to by human pride. He is the one supreme sovereign and Lord of all, and he may do absolutely as he pleases. It is a joy and delight to us that he always wills to do what is just and right. Still, his divine prerogative must not be abrogated in any way whatever. The potsherds, that he has made, must never question the action of the great Potter who has made them; has he not power to mould and form the clay exactly as he pleases?

11, 12. Thus says the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, “Ask me about things to come concerning my sons and concerning the work of my hands you command me. I have made the earth, and created man on it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and I have commanded all their host.

When we think of this, we ought to only worship God, and only trust him, and pay all loyal homage to him. What can there be that is comparable to the Creator of all things? There is not so much as a grain of dust, nor a single fly, that is self-created, or man-made; but everything has come from God and exists because he wills it. Therefore, give to the Lord the glory that is due to his name, and rest in his power, and trust in his might.

13. I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build my city, and he shall release my captives, not for price nor reward,” says the LORD of hosts.

And so Cyrus did. It was through him that Jerusalem was rebuilt, and the captive Israelites were delivered.

14, 15. Thus says the LORD, “The labour of Egypt, and merchandise of Ethiopia and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over to you, and they shall be yours: they shall come after you; in chains they shall come over, and they shall fall down to you, they shall make supplication to you, saying, ‘Surely God is in you, and there is no one else, there is no God. Truly you are a God who hides yourself, oh God of Israel, the Saviour.’ ”

This is a most merciful arrangement; for, if God did not hide himself, none of us could exist. The full blaze of his divine countenance would be our destruction. God said even to Moses, “You cannot see my face: for there shall no man see me and live.” But it is also partly in judgment that God sometimes hides even that measure of his presence which, at other times, he reveals in love. But even then, though he is hidden, he is still there. As the blue sky is up there, even though it is a long time since you saw it, so God is ever-present even though we cannot see him. The mountains, when hidden in darkness, are as real as they are in the light of day; and God is as truly near to his people, to preserve and help them, when they do not see him, as when they do.

16-19. They shall be ashamed, and also confounded, all of them: they shall go to confusion together who are makers of idols. But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: you shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end. For thus says the LORD who created the heavens, God himself who formed the earth and made it; he has established it, he did not create it in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: “I am the LORD; and there is no one else. I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I did not say to the seed of Jacob, ‘Seek me in vain’: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.

It is a very consolatory thing for us to be told, not only what God has said, but also what he has not said. Be sure of this, that there is nothing in the secret book of God’s decrees, and nothing in the sealed book of prophecy, which is contrary to the gracious covenant promises which God has revealed to his people in his Word. He does not say one thing, and mean another. You may rest assured that all the revelations that are yet to be given, if there are to be any, (and there are some who are always talking about fresh light breaking from the Word!) will never contradict what has been revealed of old. God did not tell his ancient people anything which contradicts what he has told us. The poorest and lowliest of his people, who have been able to spell out, in the Word of God, their right and title to the divine inheritance, may rely on it that, if any wise man comes to them with some wonderful discovery which contradicts the Bible, he simply comes with a lie, for nowhere God has contradicted what he has plainly revealed in the Scriptures.

20, 21. Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, you who are escaped from the nations: they have no knowledge who set up the wood of their carved image, and pray to a god that cannot save. Tell and bring out your case; yes, let them take counsel together:

What wooden god has ever foretold the future? What idol of bronze or stone had a word to say about the coming of Cyrus? Not one.

21-25. Who has declared this from ancient time? Who has told it from that time? Have not I the LORD? And there is no other God besides me; a just God and a Saviour; there is no one besides me. “Look to me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is no one else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that to me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. ‘Surely in the LORD,’ one shall say, ‘I have righteousness and strength: even men shall come to him, and all who are incensed against him shall be ashamed. In the Lord all the seed of Israel shall be justified, and shall glory.’ ”

{b} Fire-worshipper: One who worships fire, a follower of Zoroaster. OED.

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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