But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias said, Lord, who has believed our report?…
About there was a great revival in Israel. The songs of pure worship were heard again in the temple, and the people bowed at the altars of Jehovah. This return to truth and righteousness was, however, merely temporary. It was as the flashing of Northern Lights: the returning darkness was deeper than ever. King and people went back to their abominations, and the prophet disappeared in the gloom of the gathering night, uttering this sad lament, 'Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" Seven hundred years went by, and around the spur of Mount Olivet passed a procession on its way to the Holy City. "Hosanna! Hosanna to the Son of David!" cried those that went before and those that followed after. Jesus entered the temple, and from the porch where Isaiah had vainly besought the people to repent and believe He preached the glorious gospel. But in Him there was no form nor comeliness that men should desire Him. The heart of the people was in no wise changed, as Esaias had written, "Who hath believed our report? and to whom is God's arm revealed?" When all was over and the glorious work had been verified by the Saviour's triumph over death, Paul, writing to the people of Rome, bids them believe that their salvation is near; he would have them rejoice in the good news of deliverance from sin. Yet still the message was rejected, and the apostle finds utterance for his disappointment in the prophet's words, "Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" And here am I, eighteen hundred years after, preaching the same gospel. Has human nature changed in the meantime? There are multitudes who still reject the offer of redemption in Jesus Christ. What is this report which the people so persistently reject? It is the story of God's intervention in behalf of our ruined race. The greatest blunder that a human soul can ever make is to refuse the proffer of salvation in Jesus Christ. And pride is at the bottom of it.
I. PRIDE OF INTELLECT. We all know something, and none knows over-much. "A little learning is a dangerous thing." The temptation is to reject everything which does not fall within the grasp of reason. Observe some of the fundamental facts of the gospel over which we stumble because they baffle us.
1. The manger. Not for a moment must it be supposed that a finite mind can comprehend the mystery of the Incarnation. That, however, is absolutely no reason at all why we should reject it.
2. The Cross. How can the innocent suffer for the guilty? How can the Infinite God bear the sins of His creatures? How can justice be satisfied by vicarious pain? But the mystery of God's vicarious death in our behalf is really no more incredible than the lower but like mystery of a mother's love. And a mother's love is the commonest thing in the world.
3. The open sepulchre. He that was dead is alive again. This also is repugnant to our reason. And yet life out of death, the mystery of mysteries, is all around us and ever forcing itself upon us.
II. MORAL PRIDE. The worst of us thinks moderately well of himself.
1. The suggestion of sin is abhorrent to us. It disturbs our equanimity; it troubles our sleep. Christ tears away the turf from our assumption of virtue and exposes a graveful of "dead men's bones and uncleanness." Little wonder that a sinner will have none of it.
2. We do not like the notion of repentance. We all would kill John the Baptist could we catch him.
3. The doctrine of free grace is repugnant to us. We would cheerfully pay; but Croesus himself could not, with all his generous possessions, buy one of the clusters from the king's vineyard. We would be glad to suffer if suffering could expiate the mis-lived past; but we cannot. Christ has suffered once for all. What then remains? How shall a sinner be saved? By simply accepting the proffer of pardon and life. He that believeth shall be saved. Is this all? Ay; and it is the slightness of it that offends us. We must become nothing in the presence of Christ, to the end that Christ may become everything to us. There are two concluding thoughts.
(1) The report that God has loved us and given Himself for us is true. This is the news, the god-spel, the glorious gospel of the blessed God.
(2) And if it were not true, still let us cherish it. If it be only a fond delusion, let us in any case continue in it. If but a dream, let no rude hand or unkind voice awake us. If there is no God, no Almighty Friend to care for this world and its suffering creatures, still let us dream of a kind Providence and murmur in our sleep, "Abba Father." But the gospel is true. We speak that we do know and testify that we have seen. God's arm hath been made bare for us.
(D. J. Burrell, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?