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ISAIAH LI. 1, 2.

“HEARKEN to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the Lord; look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged. Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him.”

A few words on this text will not be out of place, perhaps, at this time, when so much discouragement is felt by the church throughout the land. Surely it is a day of adversity and depression. Such Scriptures are intended for the comfort of Zion, hence it is our desire to give its true import, if blessed to do so, to the end that the church everywhere be reminded of its faithful Builder and Keeper, his omnipotent power and Godhead. The key to the subject is found in the two last verses of the preceding chapter and the following verse to our text. By reading the last two verses of the fiftieth chapter it will be seen that in that age of the world, and at the time our text was written, there were two classes among the Jews. One who feared the Lord and obeyed the voice of his servant, or, in other words, kept the law given by Moses. That class walked in darkness and had no light, which means that they walked by faith, as there is no sight in the walk of faith. To this class the word was: Trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon your God. The other class had kindled a fire and compassed themselves about with sparks. They walked in the light of their fire and in the sparks that they had kindled. In them was no obedience to the law, nor fear of God, their walk was by sight, hence no faith in it. They did not trust in God for the fulfillment of his promises, nor was their hope in him of salvation. They composed “Jerusalem, Jerusalem,” and the Lord said, “This shall ye have of mine hand, ye shall lie down in sorrow.” To the same class, in fulfillment of this condemnation, Jesus said to them, “Your house is left unto you desolate.” To the other class all promises are now kept through Christ.

In that dark age of the world the faithful among the Jews often became depressed and discouraged. The promise of salvation and deliverance from sin, through “the Seed of the woman,” seemed long delayed. Centuries had elapsed, millions had died and all things continued as they formerly had. Where is the promise of his coming? was the question often with those who trusted in the Lord. Time after time the Lord sent renewed promises to his people and gave them renewed tokens of his faithfulness to them. At the time of our text he was gracious in reminding them of marvelous things with which they were well acquainted, but of which they lost sight now and then. We should not forget the fact that those who feared the Lord and obeyed the voice of his servant were the ones called upon to hearken to Him. He had something to say to theme that followed after righteousness, or, in other words, desired righteousness and peace with God. They were “hungering after righteousness,” and in verse three the promise is that they should have it. Calling their minds to his wonderful work, the Lord commands them to look to the rock whence they were hewn and to the hole of the pit whence they were digged, then called their attention to the fact that Abraham and Sarah, their father and mother, were represented by the rock and hole of the pit. He said, as it were, if when there were none known of my people, all living as they listed, like Sodom and Gomorrah, for instance, I could call one man, Abraham, alone, just one man, and bless him and multiply him until his seed were like the sand of the seashore and as the stars of heaven for multitudes; if I could cause Sarah, a barren woman all her life, at the age of ninety years to conceive and bring forth a son, can I not now bless and multiply my people? There was one rock, but many chips; one Abraham, but many children. Every chip that falls from a rock being hewn is a part of that rock, so every Israelite was a child of Abraham. Paul tells us that from one man, Abraham, and he as good as dead, sprang an innumerable host. Sarah laughed at the very idea of her conception at the advanced age of ninety years, thinking it impossible, but Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.

After reminding those who followed after the things of God of his wonders performed through Abraham and Sarah, establishing thereby his sovereign power to do his will, he renewed the promise to comfort Zion and to build her waste places that she might be like the garden of the Lord, wherein are rejoicing and the voice of melody. This message has been heralded since the ascension of Christ. Comfort ye my people, saith your God, speak comfortably unto Jerusalem, cry unto her that her warfare is accomplished, for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. In these trying times of darkness, depression, falling away, the love of many waxing cold, when men are lovers of pleasure more than of God, when death to the church seems sure, when discouragement is on every hand, it is still good to be reminded that God is at the helm, able to accomplish his will both in heaven and in earth, that if of one man he could, in the days of Abraham, develop the greatest nation the world has ever known, he can now of one man, even Christ, if it pleases him, develop the children of his love into the largest number that earth or heaven has ever known. But if it is not his will to do so, do we as his followers want it done? Should we not be content with his work, let it be what it may? If it be his purpose to add to the church of such as shall be saved, all would be glad. On the other hand, if such be not his will, why should any of us be faint-hearted and feel like giving up the ship while he is our Captain? May we all be reminded often of his wonderful works to the children of men. We, many of us, have reached “the haven of rest,” where our souls are anchored, and He will bring every one of his redeemed to the same haven, where they shall find rest to their souls. Let us remember the things of old, when God worked and none could hinder.   K.

Elder H. C. Ker

Signs of the Times
Volume 87, No. 13
July 1, 1919