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Christ's Yoke and Burden
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, MAY 24, 1903.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING, SEPTEMBER 2, 1886.
"My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matthew 11:30.
OBSERVE dear Friends, that our Lord Jesus Christ does lay a yoke and a burden upon His followers. He uses those words that none may presume to enter His service without due consideration. Religion is not a matter for trifling. The service of the meek and lowly Christ is no child's play. There is a yoke that is to be borne by all His disciples and the neck of self-will must be bent low to receive it. There is a burden to be carried for Christ—and all the strength that God gives us must be used for His honor and Glory.
But, lest those words, "yoke," and, "burden," should sound harsh to our ears and any of us should start back because we have had our shoulders galled by another yoke and our backs bent beneath a very different burden, the Master very graciously and sweetly says, "My yoke is easy and My burden is light." It appears to me that He spoke thus so that none may despair—that despair may not even come near us and that we may not despond as to the possibility of our salvation. Christ has a yoke for us to wear, so let us seriously wear it. But it is an easy yoke, so let us wear it hopefully. He has a burden for us to carry for Him, so let us be in earnest in bearing it—but it is a light burden, so let us be full ofjoy at the very prospect of carrying it. Our Savior's adjectives are always emphatic and they are especially so here. His "yoke is easy"—easy in the fullest sense, and His "burden is light"—light in the most joyous meaning of the term! You may always be sure that in Christ's words there is never less than He seems to say and, more than that, you can scarcely ever be wrong in believing that every statement made by Him contains far more than appears on the surface of it.
I want you to feel, at this time, that whatever yoke and burden there may be connected with Christ, that yoke is easy and that burden is light. I hope you will not pervert this text as some people do. They misquote it by saying that "the yoke of Christianityis easy and the burden of Christianityis light." I am not greatly concerned about the yoke or burden of Christianity—to me, the charm of our text is that, here, we have Christ Himself saying to us, "My yoke is easy and My burden is light." I want you to have before you not some impalpable, visionary, imaginary thing, but the very Lord that bought us with His precious blood speaking with those lips which are as lilies dropping sweet-smelling myrrh and, pointing with His pierced hand to the yoke and to the burden which He calls especially His own and saying, as He said when He was here upon the earth, "My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
Coming, then, to our text, I ask you to notice, first, that the context explains it Secondly, a little word of distinction in the text clears it And, thirdly, the experience of all who know the Lord proves it to be true.
I. First, then, THE CONNECTION OF OUR TEXT EXPLAINS IT.
Our Savior did not speak these two sentences by themselves and, therefore, we may not take this verse by itself. It is true, but you may make it untrue to yourself unless you take it in its proper connection. How often shall we have to tell people that the Bible is not a mere collection of separate sentences which they may tear from their context just as they please? We are not to treat the verses of the Bible as pigeons might treat a bushel of peas—picking out one here and another there, without any thought of the surroundings of that particular passage! No, this blessed Book was written for men to read right through—and if they are to understand the meaning of it, they must read each sentence in the connection in which it is found.
So, keeping this Truth in view, I begin by saying that some of you would not find Christ's yoke easy or His burden light. That is the very last thing you would find them to be to you in your present condition—you would find His yoke heavy, and His burden impossible for you to bear! Some of you are mere worldlings—"lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God." It may be that some of you are self-righteous and proud of that which should be your shame. Anyhow, if you are unregenerate, our text would not be true to you in your unconverted state. There is something else which must come before this. If any unsaved man thinks that he can, just as he is, shoulder Christ's Cross and yield himself up to be Christ's servant, he has made a great mistake. Before him, these burning sentences must flash like Sinai's lightning—"You must be born-again." "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the Law of God, neither indeed can be." God will not be served by men whose sins have not been washed away by the precious blood of His dear Son! He will have none to bear His burdens but those who have, first of all, received of His Grace through faith in the great "Mediator between God and men, the Man, Christ Jesus." So you see where you have to begin. "Come unto Me," said Christ, "all you that labor and are heavy laden." By that He means, "Do not suppose that because you are already laborers in another master's service, you can wear My yoke. Do not imagine that because you are already heavily laden, you can bear My burden. You must first get rid of that which now makes you labor. You must first be rid of that which is a burden to you, for 'no man can serve two masters.' Your old, toilsome labor must be done with, for no man can carry the double burden of his own guilt and of the service of God. That cannot be."
So, dearly-beloved, if you wish to be servants of God. If in your heart there burns a holy desire to serve the Most High, begin at the right place! Christ directs you to the door of entrance into His service and into everything else that is worth having when He says, "'Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.' I will give it to you—you are not to buy it, you are not to earn it, or deserve it—I will give it to you freely, for nothing is freer than a gift! I will give it to you—nobody else can do so, but I, in My own Personality, will give to you who are the most weary with your laboring, and the most heavy laden with your sin—I will give to you rest and I will give it to you immediately, on the spot! Come to Me now, by believing on Me, by trusting wholly to Me, by getting away from yourself and forgetting, for a while, any hope you ever had in yourself—just coming to Me to find your all in Me—and so coming, I will give you rest."
You cannot take Christ' s yoke upon you, or bear His burdens—and therefore you cannot prove them to be easy and light—till first of all you have entered into this rest which He so freely gives! If you are first perfectly rested, then you can work. I have told you before how the change which our Lord has made in the Sabbath is indicative of the change which He has made in our life. The Law of God says, "Work six days, and then observe the seventh as the Sabbath," but, under the Gospel, the arrangement is, "Rest on the first day before you have done a stroke of work. Just as the week begins, take your rest and, after that, in the strength derived from it, and from the grateful motives which arise out of that one blessed day of rest, give to the Lord the six days of the week." There is a change from Law to Gospel indicated in that very change—so let it be with you. "Come unto Me," said Christ, "all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." When you have done that, the text will be true to you, "My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
There is something more than that, however. We began with the Master's gracious invitation, "Come unto Me." Then follows the command, "Take My yoke upon you." You will prove that His yoke is easy when you take it upon you. But, instead of doing so, I know what a man often does. He draws his chair up, sits down and says, "I will consider what Christ requires of me. I will think of what it is to lead a Christian life—all the self-denials, the struggles and the conflicts that will be involved in wearing His yoke which seems to me a very hard one." Get up, Sir, from that chair and, instead of being a critic of Christ's yoke, put it on! "'Take My yoke upon you,' says the Lord Jesus. Take it upon your shoulder by a humble yet confident faith. First be rid of your old burden and so get rest—and then take upon you this yoke of Mine."
Let me put it practically to you and then see whether Christ's yoke is not easy, and His burden is not light. Suppose a number of persons say to me, "That mass of white substance yonder is salt." I say, "No, it is not salt. It is sugar." "But from this distance it looks like salt." I tell them that it is sweet, the very essence of sweetness, but they do not believe me. We may have a long talk over the matter, but we shall never get to the end of the controversy till they come to the sugar and taste it. Then the controversy will be ended at once. So is it with men who have not proved the sweetness of Christ. They say, "There is nothing in religion except that which is burdensome and sad." It may seem to be to you who do not
know anything about it, but we who trust and love the Lord say to you, "Taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusts in Him." That is the test—come and prove it for yourselves, for there has never yet been a case in which a man has really taken Christ's yoke upon him, in which he has not, by that very fact, proved that Christ's yoke is easy and His burden is light!
There is still more to follow, for the Savior says, "Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls. "There are two rests for a Christian to enjoy. The first is the rest that Christ gives him when he believes. The next is the rest that he finds when he takes Christ's yoke upon him. These two rests will be distinctly enjoyed by anyone who truly comes to Christ and learns of Him—and no one will find Christ's yoke easy in any other way. To put it in humble phraseology, when we are bound to Christ, as apprentices are bound to their master, to learn of Him, we shall find a new and yet deeper and fuller rest to our soul than we have ever known before. And this will prove to us that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. There is a use and habit in the service of Christ that brings much sweetness with it. To the beginner, the yoke may seem strange and, perhaps, galling, but, after a while, when we have learned of Christ—even as He, Himself, learned obedience when He made Himself a Servant for our sakes—then we shall discover that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
There are some, even among real Christians, who do not yet know the joy of service for the Savior because they have not been long enough bound apprentice to the Master. See, that work is very hard to that young lad. He has been only two or three months in that workshop and, though he is trying his best, he does not succeed at it yet. But if he remains long enough by his master's side and learns of him, you will then see how deftly he will do it. Just as the master now does it and makes little of it because he is accustomed to it, so will this lad, by-and-by, find it quite easy—and he will then wonder that he ever thought it to be difficult! And he will agree with his master that, after all, the yoke is easy and the burden is light because he has learned the knack of carrying it.
When I am at Mentone, I frequently see women with bare feet, tripping down from the hills, carrying a basket, perhaps full of lemons and, very likely, with a child on the top of it. They never put up a hand to steady it, but they swing along, knitting their stockings as they come down the hill, using all their fingers for their work and cheerily saying, "Good morning," as they come by us! It is amazing how they carry such a load! I could not even lift the basket which they carry on their heads. How is it that they can do it? I do not suppose they could tell you, but they have done it since they were girls, and they have kept doing it! And feeble as you would suppose them to be, their strength has seemed to grow with the burden and they are able to carry their load easily and cheerfully. So, when you come to Christ and get rid of your old burden, He puts upon you His burden—and you stay with Him and learn of Him till, at last, you, also, prove that His yoke is easy and His burden is light!
I must ask you to go one step further with me. He who would enter to the fullest into the sweetness of this text must know Christ Himself, for, observe, the Master puts Himself into it—"I am meek and lowly in heart; and you shall find rest unto your souls." I do most firmly believe that there is nothing that makes such men of us as knowing the Son of Man! After all, the most sublime science in the world is to know Christ and, especially, to know the meaning of the wounds of Christ. The man who has most studied the agony in the Garden and on the Cross, and who has most studied his Master in all conditions, will be the best fitted to be a burden-bearer—either to serve or to suffer, according as God would have it. The very sight of Christ makes cowards brave! One glance at that blessed Countenance of His, all smeared with bloody sweat, makes us ashamed that we ever murmured—disgusted with ourselves that we counted anything a self-denial for His dear sake!
When we see Him so gentle under all reproaches, bearing even to be spit upon without an angry look or word. When we really begin to know His very heart—that heart which was entirely subject to the will of God for our sakes—yes, even for the sake of those who were His enemies and who crucified Him—knowing Him thus, His yoke becomes indeed easy, and His burden becomes light! When the Cross of Christ was fresh in the memory of His Church, she bore martyrdom for Him with joy. His yoke then became so desirable that men even pressed into the court of justice to avow themselves Christians with the hope that they would be martyred! Men, did I say? Yes, and women and children, also, flocked in and seemed as though they courted torture for Christ's yoke had grown so light and so easy, on account of their having known Him, and His death being so fresh a thing! Oh it was marvelous! They have handed down to us, by their tradi-
tions, enough to make us blush if ever we dream of shrinking from any service or suffering for the sake of the Master who loved us so much that He even died for us!
II. But now, secondly, and may God the Holy Spirit help me to speak with power upon this important point!— THERE IS A LITTLE WORD OF DISTINCTION IN THE TEXT WHICH VERY MUCH HELPS TO CLEAR IT.
Perhaps somebody says, "I do not find the yoke of life easy, or the burden of life light." Christ does not say that they are. What He does say is, Myyoke is easy and My burden is light." What was Christ's light burden and what was Christ's easy yoke? I believe that I might illustrate the text by saying that He thought thus of that yoke and that burden which He bore—the yoke which rested upon the shoulders of "the Prince of the kings of the earth"—the burden which lay on that blessed back which once wore the robe of universal empire. Never before was there such a yoke, or such a burden, but, for love of us and for delight in what He would accomplish thereby, His yoke to Him was easy, and His burden was light. For the joy that was set before Him, He endured the Cross, despising the shame. So, whenever you have to bear a yoke or a burden, count it easy for the same reason as Christ did—but it must be Christ's yoke that we carry, for that alone will be easy to us.
For, first, the yoke of Christ is easy and light as compared with the yoke of others. The yoke of Moses was heavy. The yoke of the Law of God was burdensome to the Jews, so that neither they nor their fathers were able to bear it. But the yoke of Christ's law is easy and the burden of Christ's command to His Church is light. The yoke of the world is heavy. If any man will wear it, he will find that he may serve this cruel taskmaster till he is gray and then he will be discarded. Cardinal Wolsey lamented, all too late, that had he but served his God with half the zeal he served his king, he would not, in his age, have been left naked to his enemies. The yoke of sin—the yoke of selfishness, the yoke of greediness, the yoke of drunkenness, the yoke of unbelief—is the heaviest yoke of all! The crux of infidelity is heavier than the Cross of Christ. You may depend upon it, that Christ's yoke, compared with any other, or with all others, is truly easy and light!
But then, it is not easy if we are rebellious against it' 'I find it hard," says one, "to do the Master's will." Do you? I expect the difficulty is the result of not doing the Master's will. If you really did it willingly, it would be easy. "Oh, but I find such-and-such a thing, which Christ requires of me, to be hard." No, you do not find that to be hard—it is your own heart that is hard. The hardness is in the sin that rebels against Christ. There would be no hardness in the tenderness that would yield to Him, or that would come to you as the result of yielding. I struggle, and then the cords that bind me cut my flesh. I quietly yield, and then I do not injure myself. A man will float if he will lie still upon the top of the water, but he will drown if he begins to struggle. It is the complete yielding to Christ that makes the yoke to be easy—but the difficulty comes when it is not His yoke that we take, but one made by our self-will. We must have everything according to our own will. We must do everything in our own way and so, Lord Will-Be-Will comes prancing down the street on his high horse and then everything goes amiss! But Christ's yoke is easy and His burden is light.
"Still, the burden of life is very heavy," says one. Yes, but how far is it Christ's yoke and His burden? It is not His yoke if we are burdened with forbidden cares, for His yoke is that we should be free from care because we have cast all our care upon Him who cares for us. Has He not pointed us to ravens and to lilies and bid us learn from them the lesson of living without care? Your cares, poor anxious one, are not Christ' s yoke! They are a heavy yoke that is all of your own making. But if you took another kind of care—the care of not caring—then you would find Christ's yoke to be easy, His burden to be light and your life would be joyous and happy!
Nor is it Christ's yoke when we add other burdens to the one He lays upon us.' 'Oh, but I want"—yes, I know. You want to get on, to be rich, to be famous and all of that! But is that Christ's yoke? He says, "I am meek and lowly in heart." Ambition is your own yoke, not His! And the lust of wealth, the desire for power, the craving for human love— all that is a yoke of your own making—and if you will wear it, it will gall you. There is more joy in being unknown than in being known and there is less care in having no wealth than in having much of it. We often go the wrong way to work in seeking true restfulness and happiness. We set our minds on getting this and that, and then blame our Master because we have a heavy burden on our backs. He meant that we shouldhave a heavy burden if we would make one of our own! But if our only care was to seek His Glory, to imitate Him, to put our feet down into His footprints—if, like He, we were submissive even in our greatest agony and closed our most intense petitions with His own words, Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will," then we should find that His yoke is easy and His burden is light! God grant us Grace to prove the
difference between His yoke and that which we make for ourselves—between His burden and that which we pile up by our own willfulness!
The yoke of Christ is His word, His precepts, His commands, the following of His example, the bearing of suffering which He appoints, the persecution which comes to us for His sake. This is His yoke, and His burden, quite as much as we need desire to carry. So, let us be content that we are not our own masters, but that we are our Lord's servants and that we have not even a pennyworth of our own to carry, but only mean to be carriers for Him. We have hired ourselves out to carry the vessels of the sanctuary—and we will carry no other burden than that. You remember that Nehemiah gave orders to his servants, that there should be no burden brought in on the Sabbath day," and the Lord has graciously brought us to a Divine Sabbatismos" already. If we bear no burdens but His burdens, and do no service but His service, then we shall find that His yoke is easy and His burden is light! May God the Holy Spirit lead us into this kind of life and then, indeed, shall we be truly happy!
III. Our third point is to be that OUR EXPERIENCE PROVES THE TEXT TO BE TRUE. Many of us have proved that Christ' s yoke is easy and that His burden is light. In speaking upon this point, I must go over part of the ground I traversed just now.
Experience—that is to say, use and habit again—proves Christ's burden to be light Those of you who have known the Lord these 25 or 30 or 40 years, what do you say about this matter? Do you not find things somewhat different from what they were when you first came to Christ? Then, He gave you rest, did He not?—and you have never lost it, but, since then, you have gone on bearing His Cross and learning of Him—and you have found a more complete rest, have you not? I think that I shall describe your experience, as well as my own, when I say that we now have a calmness and serenity of spirit which we did not know at first. We have learned to do, almost spontaneously, some things which used to cost us a great effort. We now, almost instantaneously, think and say what before would have caused us deliberation to think and say—and many a burden that almost broke our backs, then, is no burden at all to us now!
See how it is with those who have been long sick. At first they dread the thought of being a week without coming downstairs—but after being bed-ridden for 20 years, they get accustomed to it and even smile when we pity them. Well, that is a strong illustration of what I mean. To those who are not sufferers, I might give other illustrations, but it is true that there is a sacred use and habit that comes to us through the Grace of God. We say that use is second nature" and, being accustomed to bear this burden, we are like the bullock which at first is restive and will not plow, but when, year after year, he has plowed with his true yokefellow, he gets almost to love the yoke. And when he is brought out in the morning, he looks round for his yokefellow and adjusts his neck so that he may bear his part of the yoke without distressing his companion that is to be yoked with him. And almost before the farmer bids them move, the two bullocks begin steadily to go their usual round. There is less need of the ox-goad, now, because they have become accustomed to the yoke. They seem to know when to turn at the end of the furrow and how to do it all—and blessed is that Christian who, by experience, has acquired the blessed habit of serving or suffering as his Master wills. He finds that Christ's yoke is easy and His burden is light.
But, dear Friends, we also, by experience, prove Christ's yoke to be easy and His burden to be light because of the motive that leads us to bear them. What is the motive that leads a Christian to bear Christ's yoke and burden? Why, the master motive is love! And what will we not do for love? Things which no money could induce us to do are freely done out of love. Well does our poet sing—
"'Tis love that makes our willing feet
In swiff obedience move."
In our ordinary domestic life, nothing is too heavy. Nothing is too demeaning if it is done for love. And so is it with the yoke of Christ. When we really come to love Him, we are willing to do or to suffer anything for His dear sake! His love makes the burden light and the yoke easy.
Further, experience shows us that these things are light because there is a new nature given us with which we bear the burden and the yoke. Our old carnal nature cannot endure it—you might as soon try to yoke the sea or to harness the wind as seek to put the yoke of Christ upon a carnal man's shoulder, or make him open his mouth to receive the bit of the Divine Law. But God creates in us a new heart and a right spirit—and that new nature as naturally takes to obedience as
the old nature took to rebellion! And so the yoke becomes easy and the burden light. Is not that the true answer to the riddle? Is not that the great reason why that which otherwise would crush us becomes so light?
Then, Christ's yoke is easy and His burden is light because the Divine Trinity comes to our help. When the Trinity comes in, all thought of difficulty vanishes. If our Heavenly Father is with us, we can do or bear anything. The feeblest among us could stand, like Atlas with a world upon his shoulders and never feel the strain if God the Father were with him! Then, how uplifting is the sympathy of Christ! We can bear anythingwhen He says to us—
"'I feel in My heart all your sighs andyour groans,
For you are most near Me, My flesh and My bones!
In all your distresses your Head feels the pain,
Yet all are most necessary, not one is in vain."
Dr. Watts wrote truly—
"Jesus can make a dying bed Feel soft as downy pillows."
Then there is the blessed co-operation of the Holy Spirit. When He comes to us as Comforter, Quickener, Guide, Streng-thener and Friend—then the yoke is easy and the burden is light—especially when He comes with manifestations of God to the soul and when faith, and hope, and joy, are all shedding their benign influence over the heart. Well might the Apostle say that he could do all things through Christ who strengthened him! And when the Holy Spirit comes and reveals Christ in us, then nothing is difficult, but everything is light and easy. Experience cracks this nut which otherwise might break our teeth. Have you ever tried it, Brothers and Sisters? If so, I know that you have proved Christ's word true to you, "My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
Another thing that helps to make Christ's yoke easy to some of us is the consciousness of the benefits which we have derived from it I can bear my personal testimony that the best piece of furniture that I ever had in the house was a cross. I do not mean a material cross—I mean the cross of affliction and trouble. I am sure that I have run more swiftly with a lame leg than I ever did with a sound one. I am certain that I have seen more in the dark than ever I saw in the light— more stars, most certainly—more things in Heaven if fewer things on earth! The anvil, the fire and the hammer are the making of us—we do not get fashioned much by anything else. That heavy hammer falling on us helps to shape us! Therefore let affliction and trouble and trial come. Rutherford said that he thought Christ might almost be jealous of His Cross, for he loved affliction so much! It had brought him so much benefit that he began even to love the cross—it had drawn him so close to his Lord that they ran each other pretty evenly.
Well, I do not think that there is much fear of that, but, really, Christ and His Cross do so sweetly go together that I have sometimes felt like the man who had such blessed times in his sickness and who became so dull when he recovered, that he said, Take me back to bed, again, and let me have all my pains, again, for then I proved the preciousness of Christ." Many an old Covenanter, when he met in the kirk in Edinburgh and sat there in peace and quietness, had not half the fellowship with Christ which he had experienced when the cruel Claverhouse was after him! And he said, Let me go back to the moors and worship God as I did when the text was read by the light of the lightning flash, for God was very near His people beside the moss and among the hills." It is certainly so, still, Brothers and Sisters. Not only is Christ's yoke easy and His burden light, but I have often felt as if His yoke were wings and His burden feathers—as if, by their help, I could mount and soar above all ordinary experiences! You know what weights are and how they hold you down—but any engineer will tell you that there is a way of managing weights so as to make them lift you up—and our great Engineer lifts us by that which seems as if it would drag us down! Blessed be His name for this!
And, lastly, His yoke becomes easy and His burden light as we think of what will come of them at last The deeper our sorrows, the louder we shall sing. Heaven will be all the brighter because of the darkness through which we have passed on the way to it. Oh, what a Heaven it will be to the sick, the poor, the despised and the afflicted, to burst their bonds and soar away to everlasting bliss! It will not be long before you and I will be where Jesus is—therefore, till then, let us patiently bear all that He lays upon us.
But this is not true of you all. Some of you have heavy burdens to carry, but you have nobody to help you. How do you manage to live without a God? O poor creatures! Perhaps you, Sir, came here in a carriage and pair, but you are, indeed, a poor creature if you have not a God. You draw large dividends from the bank, but you are poor, indeed, if you have not Christ as your Savior. As for me, I will take Christ and His Cross, and count them greater riches than all the
treasures of Egypt! The Lord bring you all to think and say the same—and if you ever do, then you can begin with, Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest," and you can go on to the text and claim Christ's words as applying to you—"My yoke is easy and My burden is light." The way of holiness is an easy way! May God the Holy Spirit graciously guide you to walk in it, for Jesus Christ's sake! Amen.
HYMNS FROM "OUR OWN HYMN BOOK"—775, 493, 495.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: ISAIAH49:24-26; 50.
Isaiah 49:24. Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered? Yes, this shall happen when God makes bare His arm and stretches it forth to rescue His captive people.
25, 26. But thus said the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contends with you, and I will save your children. And I will feed them that oppress you with their own flesh; and they shall be drunk with their own blood, as with sweet wine: and all flesh shall know that I, the LORD, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob. This is the promise of Christ to His Church, both the Jewish and the gentile Church. He will deliver her from all her afflictions and distresses. And her enemies shall feed upon their own flesh, or they shall be overthrown by mutual enemies. As it was of old when those that were confederate against Israel suddenly fell to quarreling and slew each other, so is it, sooner or later, in the battle between the Truth of God and error. By-and-by there is a split in the adversaries' camp and they devour one another! Let any wrong thing alone and it will break in pieces of itself. All real and abiding cohesion is gone when men seek to be united against the Lord and against His Anointed. They shall confute one another, or they shall eat their own words and so they shall, as it were, feed upon their own flesh.
Isaiah 50:1. Thus says the LORD, Where is the bill of your mother's divorce, whom I have put away? Sometimes, the headings to the chapters in our Bible give us the meaning of the passage. They are, of course, not Inspired, and are merely put there by the translators, but, sometimes, they are little comments upon the text. It is so in the heading of this chapter—"Christ shows that the dereliction of the Jews is not to be imputed to Him, by His ability to save, by His obedience in that work, and by His confidence in that assistance," so that the Lord Jesus, here, speaks to the Jewish Church. The great Redeemer, "the Mighty One of Jacob," thus speaks to His chosen people Israel, "Where is the bill of your mother's divorce, whom I have put away?"
1. Or which of My creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities have you sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away. I t was sin that caused the alienation between Israel and her God, and it is sin that is the cause of all the estrangement from God in the world. A sinful man, so long as he continues to live in sin, cannot love a holy God!
2, 3. Why, when I came, was there no man? When I called, was there no one to answer? Is My hand shortened at all, that it can't redeem? Or have Inopower to deliver? Behold, at My rebuke Idry up the sea, Imake the rivers a wilderness: their fish stink because there is no water, and die for thirst I clothe the heavens with blackness and Imake sackcloth their covering. What a glorious God this is who says that He has not divorced His people! How mighty He is—yes, Almighty! All power is in His hands. Notice who He is, for He goes on to describe Himself—
4. The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of the learned, that Ishould know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary: He wakens Me morning by morning, He wakens My ears to hear as the learned. Just as scholars learn from their teacher. It was a wondrous stoop for the Omnipotent to become a Learner, but He descended lower than that.
5. The Lord GOD has opened My ears and I was not rebellious, neither turned back This was another step in the ladder of Christ's humiliation, but He went lower still! Read the 3rd verse, again, and then read the 6th . "I clothe the heavens with blackness and I make sackcloth their covering."
6. 7. I gave My back to the smiters, and My cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not My face from shame and spitting. For the Lord GOD will help Me, therefore shall I not be confounded, therefore have I set My face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed. Even though He had to stoop so low as to endure shame and spitting, He
knew that the ultimate result would be Glory to God and to Himself. He had no thought of despairing. It had been already written of Him, "He shall not fail nor be discouraged." He shall surely accomplish the work which His Father gave Him to do. The next verse is probably the one from which Paul took that grand challenge of his, "Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died," and so on. He takes out of the mouth of Christ his words of confidence and puts them into the mouth of all Christ's people.
8. He is near that justifies Me; who will contend with Me?Our Lord Jesus Christ was justified in His Resurrection. He took His people's sin upon Him and, therefore, He had to die in their place—but His work was so complete that He was Himselfjustified as well as all His people—and He challenges anyone to lay anything to His charge!
8-10. Let us stand together: who is My adversary? Let him come near to Me. Behold, the Lord God will help Me, who is he that shall condemn Me? Lo, they all shall wax old as a garment, the moth shall eat them up. Who is among you that fears the LORD, that obeys the voice of His servant, that walks in darkness, and has no light? It is the Savior still speaking, for He knew what it was to walk in darkness and to have no light. And what terrible darkness it was, my Brothers and Sisters! What an awful thing it was to Him to have so suffer the withdrawal of the light of His Father's Countenance from Him! He knows, therefore, what this trial means, and being full of compassion, He offers to us the kindest counsel if we are in a similar condition. What does He tell us to do? Listen, you who love the Lord, yet who are in the dark.
10. Let him trust in the name of the LORD, and rely upon his God. In darkness or in the light, take heed that you do this! When everything about you seems contrary to the Divine promises and your spirits are ready to sink, take heed to this good counsel of your Savior—"Let him trust in the name of the LORD, and rely upon his God."
11. Behold, all you that kindle a fire. You who would gladly save yourselves. 11. That compass yourselves about with sparks. Or firebrands.
11. Walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks. Or flambeaux.
11. That you have kindled. That will be the end of it. This grand illumination of yours—all your good works, all your glorious intellect and I know not what—what will come of it?
11. This shall you have of My hand; you shall lie down in sorrow. God save us all from such a lying down as that at the last, for Christ' s sake! Amen.
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