Instead of your fathers shall be your children, whom you may make princes in all the earth.
An intelligent grasp of this truth is fatal to pessimists, who go about the country crying failure in the Church and the final defeat of Israel. King Jesus and His bride are the objects of the prophecy. Unto them were born apostles whose successors are filling the whole earth with princes who have power with God and men.
I. REMOVALS ARE IMPLIED — a thought too painful for publicity if treated in the absence of Christian promise. Did death end all, it would be sad indeed; but under the light of the Gospel death is translated into the realm of departure. By these removals we lose the friendships of time and staled alone waiting for new and untried friends. We lose the benefit of tried friendship so that life is a scene of unending and unanswered questioning. And yet we are confronted by this law in every department of fruit-bearing life. If we walk in nature's garden we find the same law dismissing all that is beautiful and fruitful; when once the work is done the fruits appear and are crowded off to give place to others. The Christian removal is always enlargement of influence. Paul ministered to a few hundred while in the flesh, but on taking his departure, ministered to the nations of the earth with increasing influence age after age. But there is blessing to us who succeed them. It is necessary to the highest order of life that there be discipline in care and thought, not that a few think for the race, and work for all, but that all work, think, and feel responsible for results. Thank God, then, though Abraham died, his faith lives for others to exercise — if Elijah goes up, Elisha can part the Jordan. And when the fathers go, God is calling children to take their place.
II. PRIVILEGE OF THE CHILDREN. Wave on wave roils in from the ocean world and breaks on the same rocks ignorant of their successor's power. The baptism of summer glory finds the bare poles where last spring found them. It cannot retain the summer glory and meadow's beauty. But it is our privilege to begin where the fathers retire, and from the outlook of centuries look out over the field before entering the fight. Ours to take the battle where the warfare of centuries has carried it and then on to victory, entering into the conquests of our fathers with the advantage of their experience. History records the wonders of the three hundred cavalrymen in the Theban army, who were always successful. They fought under a vow of eternal loyalty. They were known as "The Sacred Battalion," the "Band of Lovers." Has not the Church greater claims upon us as legatees?
III. POSSIBILITIES. "Princes in all the earth." The gift of a child or convert is the gift of possibilities. "Mayest" implies attention, interest in, a work for the new-comer. If princes, we must study the child, his disposition, methods of thought, adaptations to different kinds of work. You can recall readily business firms, where the death of the head would close the house; not because there are no sons, but the sons have no knowledge of the father's business. Do you not call to mind churches where ten deaths would close the church? For these ten have given all the money; another ten have done all the praying, all because no part is assigned the children, and they are ill-fitted to take up the work. once said, "Could I climb to the highest place in Athens, I would lift my voice and proclaim — Fellow citizens, why do ye turn and scrape every stone to gather wealth and take so little care of your children to whom one day you must relinquish it all?" If our children are to be princes they must have some part in the work, some responsibilities. Let all pray, give, do and plan, then all will have an interest and grow therein.
(H. W. Bolton, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth.