But I say, Have they not heard? Yes truly, their sound went into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.…
It is a singular thing to find one inspired writer calling another "bold." But we are not to understand that the apostle doubted what the prophet said, nor that he feared some would think Isaiah had hazarded a perilous statement. He merely recalled two exceedingly commonplace, but most important considerations concerning the time in which Isaiah lived. Then it was a bold thing to say that God had rejected the Jews and chosen the Gentiles; there being then really no signs of a revolution like that. Moreover, such a statement would anger that entire nation, and thus imperil the popularity of the prophet, as well as his life. But Isaiah did say it, and Paul here repeats it. The text is an announcement of a fact in the government of God; namely, that there is a sovereign love of God which goes out after a human soul before that soul has even so far started out for God as to wish for Him.
I. GOD HAS NEVER YET RELINQUISHED HIS HOLD UPON THE ENTIRE HUMAN RACE. Sin entered the world and ruined the race. But the Almighty has not given it away to destruction, and is going to repossess His own.
II. GOD EVEN NOW ASSERTS HIS FULL RIGHT TO A SPECIAL PEOPLE OF HIS OWN IN THE MIDST OF EARTHLY REBELLION AND DISOWNMENT OF HIS SON. His call is, Who is on the Lord's side? and asserts authority in a land, without consulting the poor magnates at the head of it. He commissioned Jonah to go to Nineveh, He sent Moses into Egypt with orders to Pharaoh to dismiss a million of his subjects for ever on a night's notice. It made no difference whatever that the king said he did not know who this Jehovah was; the Maker of the universe assumed that it was the business of all His intelligent creatures to understand the authority which belonged to a monarch like Him. He assumes that same pre-eminence now. The only question that can arise is one of individual bearing, who shall rally first around His standard, and serve Him? And this He decides Himself (vers. 11-13). Nor does He leave this choice to a mere chance acceptance. Does He need a king? Then the ruddy-checked son of Jesse is anointed. Does He need a priest? He summoned Melchizedek. Does He need a prophet? Then shall the unwilling lips of Balaam be turned from cursing into blessing. Thus does He gather His agents at His own sovereign will, often unexpectedly to themselves, as well as surprisingly to others. Literally, "He is found of those who sought Him not," etc.
III. THE ALL-WISE GOD HAS ORIGINATED AND ANNOUNCED A PLAN BY WHICH HE MAY BRING HIS PEOPLE TO HIMSELF WITHOUT ANY FAILURE.
1. God assumes at the start that men are utterly lost? We are condemned already. The wrath of God abideth on every one of us.
2. That God prefers to save the transgressor rather than punish him. God says He takes no pleasure in the infliction of penalty. He has proffered a way of escape (ver. 4). And this is the only way
3. That the human will is stubborn, and always refuses free grace. Just here enters the greatest mystery of the gospel. A certain spiritual pressure is exerted by God Himself. The Holy Ghost constrains the surrender of the disobedient heart.
IV. IN THE CARRYING OUT OF HIS PLAN GOD SOMETIMES STRIVES DIRECTLY WITH IMPENITENT MEN, WITHOUT THEIR EXPECTING IT, AND EVEN WITHOUT THEIR UNDERSTANDING IT. Thus it is that He is often "found of those who sought Him not." He has a right to everybody, and when He desires a man He sends for him. No actual force is employed, but certain processes of His are put into operation. The sinner does not always know precisely what all this means, but he feels a surprising impelling power, active in the very centre of his being. He is awakened to see his own needs. He is constrained to reflect upon the issues of another life. Now it is God in person who is making Himself to be found, even when the man is not seeking after Him. And He acts very gently. There are, in every-day life, two ways of waking a man out of dangerous slumber. You may shout in his ear, or rudely shake his person; or bring a lamp into the room, and leave it burning. The latter is the way in which God works. Furthermore, Providence sometimes works in with grace. An adversity or a blessing is used as an instrument in the awakening of the soul. But He aims only to lead men to the beginning of their work; He does not propose to do it for them. He says to those who seek Him not, Seek Me. He calls to the prayerless, Pray — to the thoughtless, Think.
V. THIS MOMENT, IN WHICH THE SPIRIT OF GOD IS STRIVING, IS THE MOMENT ABOVE ALL OTHERS IN WHICH TO YIELD TO HIS CALL. For now, if never before, a man has a chance. If God is sincere, He offers personal pardon now.
(C. S..Robinson, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.