Brother Beebe: When you have leisure, please give your views on Isaiah 45:19, the middle clause in particular.
Yours in Christian love and esteem,
Mary J. Eddy.
With great pleasure we comply with the request of our esteemed correspondent, being ready at all times to give such views as we have on the Scriptures to all who desire to know the truth as it is in Jesus. The text proposed reads thus: “I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain. I the Lord speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.” Holy men of old have written the Scriptures as they were inspired by the Holy Ghost, and we are told that God spake to the fathers by the prophets, from which we infer the importance of every part of the inspired volume, but when passages are marked like the one proposed for our present consideration, as coming so immediately from the mouth of God, they seem to claim, from those who fear him, their most profound attention. This text is specially prefaced in the context by these remarkable words: “For thus saith the Lord.” This is a sufficient cause for reverential and solemn reflection, but to increase our awe and to prostrate our souls in the most humble and devout attitude, to wait with breathless silence for the words which proceed from his mouth, it is added, “For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited; I am the Lord, and there is none else.” What power has he displayed in the creation of the heavens and earth, and how successfully has he executed his predestinated design that the earth should be inhabited. Truly he whose designs can never be frustrated, whose purpose shall stand and who will do all his pleasure, has the right to declare, as in this case, “I am the Lord, and there is none else.” Our destiny for time and eternity is in his hand; no power can successfully compete with him. He is of one mind, and none can turn him.
“The heavens above, the earth below,
Thee, Lord, their great possessor know;
By thee this orb to being rose,
And all that nature’s bounds inclose.
From thee, amid the aerial space,
The North and South assume their place;
‘Tis thine the ocean’s rage to guide,
And calm at will its swelling tide.”
“I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth.” That is, in the calling of Jacob, and in bidding his seed to seek him. Let us consider,
1. Jacob and his seed. Jacob as the father of his chosen tribes was a type of Christ, in whom all the election of grace is embodied. All the natural descendants of Jacob were chosen in him and set apart as a peculiar people in distinction from all other tribes of the earth, and embraced in the legal covenant, in which all the privileges of the law of a carnal commandment were secured to them before any of them were born. So all the spiritual family or seed of Christ were chosen in him as the antitype of Jacob before the world began, and embraced in the everlasting covenant of life and peace which is ordered in all things and sure. So clearly does this typical relationship appear in the Scriptures, that the church of our Lord Jesus Christ is frequently in the New Testament called Israel, the seed of Jacob, the twelve tribes of Israel, etc., and although we are informed that they were not all Israel which were of Israel (that is, Israel after the flesh), “Neither because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed (Romans 9:7,8).”
2. The doctrine of the special election of grace is by divine authority illustrated by the discriminating grace of God bestowed on Jacob, irrespective of any work, good or bad, on his part. “For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God, according to election, might stand.” God’s purpose must always stand in all cases, for he doeth his pleasure in heaven and on earth, and worketh all things after the counsel of his own will. But that the purpose of God, according to election, might stand, - how? In what manner must his purpose stand? “Not of works, but of him that calleth.” This then was the object of God in conforming the type to the thing signified, to show that the election of grace stands not according to works, but of him that calleth; so the case of Jacob and Esau was irrevocably fixed and unalterably settled before the children were born or had done any good or evil, and this figure the apostle assures us was thus arranged to show that the election of God’s people in Christ was prior to their birth, and irrespective of their good or bad works, and wholly governed by the sovereign will of God who calleth (Romans 9:11,13). “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began (II Timothy 1:9).” “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8,9).” This doctrine of discriminating grace is clearly indicated in the prophetic application of the names Jacob and Israel. “But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine (Isaiah 43:1).” “Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant; and Israel whom I have chosen (or elected), (Isaiah 44:1).” “Behold my servant, whom I uphold, mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him; he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles (Isaiah 42:1).”
3. The open and manifest calling of Jacob, as signifying the clear and open calling and salvation of God’s spiritual Israel. “I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth.” Upon this subject what has ever been more clearly manifested?
A. The calling of Jacob personally to seek his face, instead of hiding or disguising his calling as a secret matter, as we have seen he declared it to Rebecca before the children were born, and in all his providential dealings with him, causing him to inherit the blessing of the firstborn in Isaac’s family, in shielding him from the wrath of Esau, in giving him favor with Laban, and in finally bringing him to the place of his nativity with great riches, all of which presents him as the type of him of whom the psalmist says, “He that goeth forth and weepeth bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him (Psalm 126:6).”
B. In his calling as the type of the election of grace Moses thus testified: “For the Lord’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye (Deuteronomy 32:9,10).” This was not done secretly, for in the same chapter heaven and earth are summoned as witnesses of this distinguishing grace. “Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.” This was not speaking in secret, nor in a dark place of the earth, but before high heaven and the listening earth. Thus openly the proclamation of Jacob’s calling is made. The fathers, the ancient patriarchs, were advised of all this; it was no secret. “Ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee.” What will they tell thee? They will tell thee this: “When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel (Deuteronomy 32:7,8).” So far from concealing his special favor to Israel, he is seen riding upon the heaven in their help and in his excellency on the sky.
C. The calling of Jacob out of Egypt was no secret event. All the wonders of our God were executed. His arm was made bare in the eyes of the nations, and all the ends of the earth saw the salvation of our God. With a high hand and an outstretched arm the yoke of Egypt was broken, and so clearly visible was the display of his almighty power in calling Jacob then to look to him alone for deliverance and protection that it is said even, “The waters saw thee, O God, the waters saw thee; they were afraid: the depths also were troubled. The clouds poured out water: the skies sent out a sound: thine arrows also went abroad. The voice of thy thunder was in the heaven: the lightnings lightened the world: the earth trembled and shook. Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known. Thou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron (Psalm 77:16-20).” He rebuked strong nations for the sake of Jacob, and finally made public the entrance of his chosen tribes into the land of Canaan, all of which abundantly proves that in the calling of Jacob to seek his face, God spake not in secret, nor in a dark place of the earth.
D. So in the application of these types and shadows to the spiritual Israel of God, in their high and holy vocation, God’s voice has been clearly heard. The fact their calling had been prefigured in all the types, and emphatically declared by all the prophets from the days of Abel, shows that God did not design to conceal his purpose in their calling.
Not in secret, nor in a dark place of the earth, was the calling of the spiritual Israel of our God when they were saved and called with a holy calling, not according to their works, but according to God’s own purpose and grace, which was given them in Christ before the world began. “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified (Romans 8:29,30).” Thus it is seen that the calling of God’s people in Christ in this election and predestination to glory was not in any dark place of the earth, but in a radiant blaze of refulgent glory. The calling of the Israel of God experimentally is open, manifest and irresistible. “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (II Corinthians 4:6).” The calling of the Israel of God from the bondage of the law, the guilt of sin, and from the power of darkness into God’s marvelous light, is witnessed in the triumph of our Redeemer in his resurrection, in which he spoiled principalities and powers and made a show of them openly. Having abolished death, he brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (II Timothy 1:10).
E. The infallible certainty that the calling of God’s chosen Israel is and forever shall be effectual. “I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain.” This very declaration implies, first, that God has said to the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me, and second, that his word to that end is not in vain.
In this same chapter, verse 22, he reiterates this command, saying, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else.” As none but God can save a sinner, and as there is no other God, it is vain to look for salvation from any other source. All other powers in heaven and earth combined could not save a single soul, could not deliver from wrath, purge from guilt, quicken from death or translate from the power of darkness any of the seed of Jacob. For their salvation is of me, saith the Lord. In this chapter the scattered condition of the seed of Jacob, as spread over the entire surface of the earth, and extending to earth’s remotest bounds, is alluded to in the twentieth verse, and they are informed that wooden gods or other dumb idols cannot save them. “But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Savior: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honorable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life. Fear not; for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the East, and gather thee from the West.” How? “I will say to the North, Give up; and to the South, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; even every one that is called by my name; for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him (Isaiah 43:1-7).” “To give drink to my people, my chosen. This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise (Isaiah 43:20,21).” These Scriptures show beyond all reasonable doubt that the seed of Jacob in our text is the Lord’s people, who by the absolute decree of the unchangeable God shall be gathered and shall every one of them be brought from the ends of the earth, and shall shew forth God’s praise. This decree, though offensive to men and devils, is not to be concealed nor kept in the dark, for God has spoken and proclaimed it before heaven and earth. His word goeth forth from his mouth in righteousness, and shall not return void of the work whereunto he has sent it; it shall prosper in the accomplishment of all his pleasure. This word going forth is all the seed of Israel, scattered though they be to the ends of the earth, shall find out every one of them to whom he has directed it, and in this word he says to them, even to every one of them, “Seek ye me.” This fiat from the throne of God shall be effectual, it cannot fail, it has not been spoken in vain. We are aware that these words of our God, and those also in verse 22 of the same chapter, are treated as mere invitations, but let it be known to all men, the Lord God of Israel deals not in invitations. Where a king’s word is there is power, and our God is a great King, and his kingdom ruleth over all. He speaks the word and it stands fast, he commands and it is done.
‘Firm are the words his prophets give,
Sweet words on which his children live;
Each of them is the voice of God,
Who spake, and spread the heavens abroad.
Each of them powerful as that sound
Which bid the new made world go round,
And stronger than the solid poles
On which the wheel of nature rolls.”
But we would call the attention of our sister to the efficiency of this saying of God especially: “I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain,” for the power and efficiency of these words are established by the solemn oath of God that they shall not fail, for he adds, “I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. Surely shall one say, In the Lord have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come: and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed.” Every knee and tongue of whom, according to this oath, shall bow and swear allegiance to the Lord Almighty? The knee and tongue of every one of the seed of Jacob, whom he has commanded to seek his face. For he further says, “In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.” ·We cannot doubt nor dispute the power and omnipotence of the words thus spoken by the Lord to the seed of Jacob without involving the sin of blasphemy. God, who cannot lie, has not only said that his word shall secure the accomplishment of his order, but he has confirmed it by an oath. To contradict is then to not only charge God with falsehood, but also with perjury. When the Lord, by his Spirit, applies these words to any of the seed of Jacob, God is himself in his word to make it effectual. David, in Psalm 27:8, testifies to the power of God’s word in its application to him: “When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.” For David was one of the seed of Jacob to whom the words were not spoken in vain, and as it was in the case of David, so shall it be with all the seed of Jacob, even every one of them, for God, who cannot lie, has sworn it. They shall hear his voice, and they that hear shall live. “My sheep [says the good Shepherd] 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.” Men, even mighty men, kings and potentates of the earth, may fail to make their words effectual, but God says, I the Lord speak righteousness; I declare things that are right. Should God be disappointed in the effect of his word in the accomplishment of his designs, that would not be speaking in righteousness, for there would be a failure, something wrong. When he said, “Let there be light,” if light had not come forth at his bidding there would have been a failure; but when he said, “Let there be light,” and when he said to the seed of Jacob, “Seek ye me,” instead of uttering an invitation, or an uncertain mandate, he called the words so uttered a declaration. “I declare things that are right,” and so the sequel shall show, for not one of the seed of Jacob, which for multitude is like the sands of the seashore, shall fail to respond as did David, “Thy face, Lord, will I seek.” Let the children but know that the mouth of the Lord hath spoken and they can live on every word that proceedeth out of his mouth, for the word of our God endureth forever.
“He looks, and ten thousands of angels rejoice,
And myriads wait for his word;
He speaks, and eternity filled with his voice,
Reechoes the praise of her Lord.”
July 15, 1865.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 6
Pages 208 - 215