PLEASE GET your bible and open to the 40th chapter of Isaiah and read the entire chapter. May the Lord now enable us to meditate together upon this Scripture using the first part of the 6th verse as basis for our meditations: "The voice said, 'Cry,' and he said, 'What shall I cry?'"
Cry means to utter, proclaim, groan, shriek or speak. When you cry it is involuntarily brought about by a stimulus that causes you to speak, proclaim, and say things that, were it not for this stimulating influence, you would not utter. We believe that the "Spirit of the Lord" is the stimulating influence that prompts God's people to cry. When the "Spirit of the Lord bloweth upon" us it prompts the opposite cry from that of the spirit of man. (See 7th verse). There is such a drastic change brought about by the direct operation of the Spirit that there always is a question. A question intimates that you do not know.
When the Spirit fell upon them on the day of Pentecost they asked, "What shall we do?" (Acts 2:37). When it arrested Paul on the way to Damascus he asked "Who art thou Lord?" and, "What wilt thou have me to do?" (Acts 9:5,6). Those who were pricked at heart by the Spirit on the day of Pentecost did not ask what may we do? But "what shall we do?" Paul did not ask, what do you want me to do? But, "what wilt thou have me to do?" The one in the text did not ask, what may I cry? But "What shall I cry?" All upon whom the Spirit of the Lord has blown are made to realize that God has all power and that they have no power. They are made to realize that "He speaks and it is done; He commands and it stands fast." When I was identified with another order of religion I outlined my sermons before-hand and delivered them according to outline. I knew what to cry because the Spirit had not withered my flesh and caused my goodliness to fade. I was certain, sure and proud of myself. Since my flesh withered until I have no power and the goodliness thereof faded until I have no self righteousness, I have been entirely dependent upon God to give me at the self-same hour light of thought and liberty of speech. I go groaning, wondering, "What shall I cry?" (I trust this has been brought about by the Spirit of the Lord blowing upon me.)
It has already been intimated that those who cry the Truth do so because of the stimulating influence of the Holy Spirit. They wonder what to cry because they have nothing of themselves to cry. When the voice says, "Cry," they know they must cry. I am persuaded that every time the Voice commands to cry the child of God does cry that which God puts in his mouth. Now, "What shall I cry?"
"All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the Spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass" (Isaiah 40: 6,7). How is all flesh as grass? The grass withers. Therefore, all flesh withers. How is all the goodliness of the flesh as the flower? The flower fadeth. Therefore, all the righteousness of the flesh fadeth. What causes the flesh to wither and the righteousness thereof to fade? The Spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it. Has the Spirit of the Lord ever blown upon you? If your natural power has so withered that you realize you cannot lift yourself up to the extent to be approved of God I am persuaded that the Spirit has blown upon you. If all your righteousness has faded in beauty that it appears as filthy rags, I am convinced that the Spirit has blown upon you. "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness is as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away" (Isaish 64:6).
What shall I cry concerning all nations as a whole? Can they combine and unite their strength and accomplish anything of their own power? Let us see. All nations are "counted as the small dust of the balance" (Isa. 40:15). The small dust upon the balances that the merchant uses in weighing his commodities are so insignificant that no purchaser would ask the merchant to remove the small dust from the balances before weighing in order that what he has purchased would weigh less. If all nations combined would be so insignificant, what would one man be? We are to cry that they are less than that! (Isaiah 40:7). "All nations before Him are as nothing; and they are counted to Him less than nothing and vanity." If all nations are counted to Him as nothing and less than nothing – what would one man be counted as? Using the expression of the late Elder A.D. Wall of Amity, Arkansas, "Nothing split open and both halves thrown away, would be about the best way I know to express the size of one man's power as counted by God." Who can boast of the power and righteousness of puny man in the face of these startling statements! God forbids His people to boast of their righteousness and power because of the withering and fading effects brought about by the Spirit.
What shall I cry concerning God? "It is He that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers." "That bringeth the princes to nothing; He maketh the judges of the earth as vanity" (Isa. 40: 22,23). He did this to Hezekiah though he was a king. Each and every one upon whom the Spirit blows (read v. 24) is brought to nothing and vanity whether they be king, prince, judge, rich or poor, bond or free, - regardless of their status in this world they are all brought to the same low level. What shall I cry concerning that which God does for those upon whom He hath blown His Spirit to wither and fade into faintness and weariness? "He giveth power to the faint ; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength" (v. 29). When their life ends; He adds His life. (See Isaiah 38:5). When their power becomes as vanity He gives His power. When they are weak then they become strong in the Lord. When the Lord is your strength you run and do not become weary because "He is strong in power; not one faileth" (v. 26).
What shall I cry to the Lord's people? "Behold the Lord God will come with strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him; behold His reward is with Him, and His work before Him. He shall feed His flock like a shepherd; He shall gather the lambs with His arms, and carry them in His bosom." I am persuaded that Jesus and the Spirit are the strong arm and hand that shall rule for Him in the lives of His people. He gathers, carries, and feeds those that are His. Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost. It is not left upon the volition of the creature to find God. This is the work of the strong arm and hand of God. He carries them in His bosom. They were chosen in Him before time began. They are bone of His bone. None of these shall fail for the Lord carries them and feeds them. "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father which gave them me is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand" (St. John 10:27-29). We see the certainty of all the sheep of God hearing the voice, following after, and persevering unto life eternal without the loss of one.
What shall I cry to Jerusalem, God's people? "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins" (Isa. 40:1,2). Take notice that the cry is to be made only to God's people. This cry is to be of comfort to the church – or those whom He hath called out. God's ministry tells her that Jesus was the lone Warrior who accomplished this warfare by fulfilling the requirements of the law in her stead. He is a Warrior in whom God was well pleased. He came to "give eternal life to as many as thou hast given Him" (St. John 17:2). "And this is the record, that God hath given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son" (1 John 5:11).
Not only did He accomplish our warfare but also paid the penalty for our iniquity! He suffered and died that Holy Justice might be perfectly satisfied, the penalty for our sins fully paid; that we might appear before His judgment seat with a record without blemish. He did not stop by just accomplishing the law for us, which would have left us with our sins against us. Neither did He only atone for our sins, which would have left the task to us of strictly obey the ten commandments with all of its supporting laws. But, He performed double for us. He reconciled us unto the Father by His death, and He also saves us by His life. (See Rom. 5:10).
We receive of the Lord's hand double in all things pertaining to eternal life. He speaks and also does it. He commands and causes it to come to pass. Jesus is Author and Finisher of our faith. He works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. He commands to repent, and gives you repentance. He says, "Awake," and awakens you. He commands to live, and gives you life. He says, "Come unto me," and draws you to Him. He says "Hear," and gives you a hearing ear. He says, "Cry," and puts the words into your moth to cry. He says to Zion, "Get thee up into the high mountains," and sets them on high.
What shall I then cry concerning the salvation of God's people? I must cry that salvation is solely by the grace of God through the merits of Jesus Christ both in time and unto eternity. I must do as Jonah, acclaim that salvation is of the Lord. I must cry that it is certain and sure to each and every one of the subjects of His amazing grace. I must cry that boasting is excluded. I must praise Him for His wonderful goodness to the children of men. In Him we move and have our being. The breath that we breathe belongs to Him. Even natural possessions are in His hand and He distributeth them to whomsoever He will. All the hairs of your head are numbered by Him and not even a sparrow falls without Him.
What shall I cry to the discouraged? God providentially cares for you and so sovereignly controls all things that they work together for your good. God has a noble purpose for you to fulfill in life and He will so protect you and guide you that you will completely fulfill this purpose before He takes you from this sojourn of sin and sorrow. Even though you feel so insignificant, God's purpose in your being here is just as important as the greatest ministerial gift that has ever graced the pulpit. May God bless you to take courage with these thoughts and press on toward the mark of the prize of the high calling – looking unto Jesus who is the Author and Finisher of this precious faith. God has so arranged, fixed and decreed that we have need of each other and we do serve one another; thereby serving Christ. (See Matt. 25:31-40). We are made to do as Paul – thank God for the brethren.
What shall I cry concerning our conduct one toward another? Forgive a brother his trespasses as our heavenly Father hath forgiven us. Esteem a brother higher than ourselves. Do good unto all men; especially unto the Household of Faith. As much as in you is, live peaceably with all men. Do unto them as you would have them do unto you. "And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God" (1 Peter 4:8-10). "But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief or as an evil doer, or as a busy body in other men's matters – yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf" (1 Peter 4:15,16). As the body has need of each and every one of its members, so the church has need of each other.
What shall I cry to God? "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness: according to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me" (Psalms 51:1,10). Perform for me that my walk and conversation may be godly in this life. "Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion." Cause strife and confusion to cease – if it be Thy will – that God's little children may live together in sweet fellowship one with another. Cause us to be content with our lot and reconciled unto Thy will. Give us this day our daily bread. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Finally, save us in that eternal abode where and when all will be peace, love, joy, and fellowship forever and ever is the prayer that we beseech in the name of Jesus Christ who art Thy Son, and our Redeemer. Amen
Elder E.J. Lambert
"Tried in the Furnace" Pgs 180 – 186