Brother Beebe: - I have been a subscriber for your paper four years, and I how feel unwilling to deny myself the luxury it affords, especially in these trying times, for it contains all the preaching I have, except that which is devoted to the do and live system. May you be continued long to publish the “Signs of the Times”, and fear not to declare the whole counsel of God.
Please give your views on Isaiah 45:23, and oblige,
Howard Co., Ia., Jan. 25, 1864.
REPLY: - The text proposed for consideration and comment reads thus: “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.”
How amazing the thought that the great and terrible God, who created all beings and all worlds, and who holds the destiny of all things in his sovereign hand, whose every word demands our most profound attention and implicit belief should condescend to confirm any of his declarations by a solemn oath. To even doubt his veracity in anything he has ever said involves the sin of blasphemy. He commands and it stands fast: He speaks and it is done. He is the God who cannot lie, for it is incompatible with his very nature. He is the God of truth. “Let the potsherds strive with the potsherds of the earth;” but “Wo unto him that striveth with his Maker.” If to discredit what God has spoken be a crime of such fearful magnitude, how terrible must be the doom of those who will virtually charge him with perjury, by contradicting what he has confirmed by his oath. Men verily swear by the greater, and to them an oath for confirmation is an end of all strife. But our God, because he could swear by no greater has sworn by himself. There cannot possibly be anything so high, so sacred, or so holy as himself, and his holiness is pledged by his oath.
“The words his sacred lips declare,
Of his own mind the image bear;
What should him tempt, from frailty free,
Blest in his self sufficiency?
He will not his great self deny,
A God all truth can never lie:
As well might he his being quit
As break his oath, or word forget.
Let frightened rivers change their course,
Or backward hasten to their source;
Swift through the air let rocks be hurled,
And mountains like the chaff be whirled.
Let suns and stars forget to rise,
Or quit their stations in the skies;
Let heaven and earth both pass away,
Eternal Truth shall ne’er decay.”
“The word has gone out of my mouth in righteousness and shall not return.” What the immutable God has said cannot be recalled, unsaid or countermanded; nor is there any need to recall what he has said, for it has gone forth from his mouth in righteousness. If right that it should be spoken, it would be wrong to recall it. Princes and potentates of the earth may send forth decrees which they would gladly recall, as when Darius made a decree that any man that should for thirty days ask a petition of any God, or man, save of him, he should be cast into the den of lions, when he saw that his decree had not gone forth in righteousness - that he had been imposed upon by his nobility - how gladly would he have recalled the decree, if he had possessed power to cause it to return, come back, or be unmade. What has gone forth from the mouth of God can be liable to no unforeseen consequences - it must prosper in the thing whereunto He has sent it; therefore there can be no necessity for revoking, calling back, or causing His word to return to Him. “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from Heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater; so shall my word be that goeth out of my mouth; it shall not return unto me void; but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereunto I sent it.” (Isa. 55:11,12) Was ever a shower of rain intercepted in its course, when descending from the heavens, and sent back by any human, or creature, agency? When God unstops the bottles of heaven, can earth forbid, or prevent, the rain, or snow, from falling to the earth? Who, then, can resist the execution of the strong decrees of the Almighty God. The power, the omnipotence, of his word has been tested. His word went forth in the creation of the universe.
“He call’d the world from emptiness;
The world obeyed, and came.”
God said “Let there be light, and there was light.” He said, “Let us make man,” and man was made. “For this they are willingly ignorant of, that by the Word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: but the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” (II Peter 3:5-7)
Having briefly considered the awful and sacred import of the oath of the immutable God, and the omnipotence of his word, as securing beyond the possibility of any failure, the accomplishment of its mission, we will now call the attention of the readers to the declaration of God thus solemnly attested in our text:-“That unto me every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall swear.” The irrevocable word and oath of God has gone forth from his mouth in righteousness, pledging the truth and holiness of Jehovah in solemn confirmation of the declarations immediately connected with and embraced in the text.
1. That none but God can save a sinner: that he is God, and beside him there is no Savior. That he, the Lord, is God, and there is none else; a just God and a Savior, there is none beside him. All other beings, works or things relied on for salvation are idols; and all who depend on anything but God alone for justification and salvation are makers of idols, and, as God is true, they shall all go to confusion together.
2. This only true, almighty and unchangeable God who is the just God and Savior, and there is none else, has called all the seed of Jacob to seek his face: saying to that seed, in all the omnipotence of his word which created the word and sustains all things, “Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is none else.” And this order from his eternal throne has not been given in vain. His word has gone out of his mouth in righteousness and shall not be recalled or suffered to return void of the work whereunto he has sent it. He said not to the seed of Jacob, Seek ye my face in vain. Though his omniscient eye could see that seed intermingled with all the tribes of mankind like sheep going astray, and wandering to the utmost extremities of the earth, yet - Isaiah 52:10 - “The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” The words, “All ye ends of the earth,” and “All the ends of the earth,” are applied to the scattered sheep of Israel whom our Lord has redeemed out of every kindred, language and tribe under heaven, and to none else, for if those declarations embraced all the inhabitants of the world, they would secure the salvation of all the human family, whereas God has sworn that some of them shall go to confusion together; “but Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation; ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded, world without end.” See verses 16 and 17 of this same chapter. The words all ye ends of the earth, no more necessarily include others of the human family beside the Israel saved in the Lord, than they do all the beasts, fowls and fishes contained in the world. The whole provision of mercy and salvation proclaimed in this chapter is clearly applied exclusively to the seed of Jacob, for God has said, “This people have I formed for myself; they shall show forth my praise.” Israel shall be saved in the Lord: but they shall all be confounded and all go to confusion together who depend for salvation on anything short of God himself; whether it be on their own works, or the works of others, for it is the essence of idolatry to depend for salvation on anything but on God alone, or to attribute to any other being or thing that which belongs alone to God; for he will not give his glory to another, nor his praise unto graven images.
3. The irresistible power of that word which has gone forth in righteousness from the mouth of God commanding efficaciously all the seed of Jacob to seek his face for salvation, and to look to him as the only just God and Savior, shall, according to the oath of God, secure the submission and allegiance of every one of them. Every knee shall bow in humble submission to God, their Savior. God will himself secure this: for he will make his people willing in the day of his power, and they shall come who were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the Lord in his holy mount at Jerusalem. Unto him then according to the word of his oath shall every knee, of all the seed of Jacob, bow; for he 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. The arrows of the Lord are sharp in the hearts of the king’s enemies, whereby the people fall under him. However distant, they shall be brought nigh; however stubborn, they shall be humbled; however rebellious they shall bow the knee to him, when he shall call them by his grace, every one that is called by his name, shall hear his voice, and they that hear shall live. He will take away their stony heart and give them a heart of flesh. He will fill them with contrition, and give them that repentance which is unto life, which needeth not to be repented of. The failure of one single knee of all who are now embraced in the word of his oath, would involve his truth. But why should we argue this point: has not the mouth of God spoken it? Has not the sacred oath of the immutable Jehovah confirmed the irrevocable decree? What then if infidels dispute, they cannot change the thing that has gone out of his mouth in righteousness.
While every bending knee of all the seed of God’s spiritual or anti-typical Israel shall signify their hearts subdued by sovereign grace and their unreserved submission to God as the only Savior, their oath shall signify their full allegiance to him as their rightful sovereign.
This perfect subjugation of all the redeemed family to their God and Savior is referred to by Paul, Rom. 14:11, and Phil. 2:10,11. In both of which the inspired apostle establishes the final, perfect and everlasting subjugation and submission of all the seed of Jacob, and the fulfillment of the word of the oath and promise of that that, All Israel shall be saved with an everlasting salvation, that he shall not be ashamed nor confounded in a world without end, while all who are the makers of idols shall with equal certainty go to confusion together. “In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified and shall glory.” Thus abundantly demonstrating that in the holy calling of his chosen people, he said not to the seed of Jacob, “Seek ye my face, in vain.” It cannot be that Jehovah shall speak in vain. The word of his power shakes the heavens and the earth, and makes the mountains leap from their beds of ages, and skip like rams, and the hills like lambs.
“He said, Let the wide heavens be spread,
And heaven was stretched abroad:
Abraham, I’ll be thy God, he said,
And he was Abraham’s God.”
Instead of sinners bringing God to their terms, in the matter of salvation according to the delusions of the arminians, God’s word shall prevail, its power and glory shall be felt, known and confessed by all who are the called according to his purpose and grace, and on his own head shall the crown of Immanuel flourish.
With what supreme delight may all the humbled saints contemplate the awful power and majesty of the word of God. We felt its omnipotence when we were by it called to repentance, when we were by it called to stand in judgment at his august bar! When clouds and darkness were round about him, and he kept back the face of his throne! And when sinking down to the deeps below under the sense of our guilt, we witnessed the omnipotence of the word which from his sacred lips said unto us “Live.” So shall the power of his word be witnessed when he shall bid the nations of the dead arise, and meet the destiny already spoken by his mouth and made unavoidable by the power and immutability of his irrevocable word.
But now, how stands the case with us? Are we setting to our seal that God is true in all these declarations? Have our stiff knees been made to bend in reverential submission to our God? Have we sworn allegiance to the King of Saints? Or are we disputing and still blaspheming? Awful thought! are we trying to make God a liar, or charging him with perjury. We either believe what God has said and sworn, or we are infidels.
January 15, 1864.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 5
Pages 450 – 456