"I will go before you and level the mountains; I will break down the gates of bronze and cut through the bars of iron.
I. OBSTACLES IN THE WAY SHOULD BE NO HINDRANCE TO US. There is hardly anything worth doing in life that is not difficult to do. The difference between men is seen in their attitude in face of difficulties. Illustrate by the position of Israel before the Red Sea. It was a brave thing for Moses to command Israel to "go forward;" but it was a type of the right attitude for us always to take when the way seems obstructed. "I cannot" must give place to "I will, God helping me."
II. THE ONE THING TO SEEK IS THE ASSURANCE THAT WE ARE DOING GOD'S WILL. This distinguishes the good man from the mere man of energy. The Cyrus here referred to was raised up by God, and entrusted with a particular work. But it is true that still God calls individuals to special service. He makes plain to them his will And our first anxiety should be to be sure that we are where he has set us, and are doing just what he would have us do. Once let these things be settled, and oppositions and hindrances count for nothing. We want more faith in Divine providence, in the inward inspirations and outward directings of God. Where he sets us we must bear, conquer, and do.
III. WAYS ALWAYS OPEN BEFORE THE OBEDIENT, RESOLUTE. TRUSTFUL MAN. Firmness, moral courage, persistency, and, above all, real faith in God, compel difficulties to yield. They are always according to the size of the man himself. If he is big with faith, they grow small; if he is little with fears, they grow big. Obstacles are searching tests of character. Men of faith are like the mountain streams that make their way down amid the rocks; if they cannot get over the rocks, they go round them, but they will not be stopped. - R.T.
I will go before thee.
I. We should regard the text as A WARNING. There are crooked places.
II. The text is also A PROMISE. "I will go before thee." God does not say where He will straighten our path; He does not say how; the great thing for us to believe is that there is a special promise for us, and to wait in devout hope for its fulfilment. He who waits for God is not misspending his time. Such waiting is true living — such tarrying is the truest speed.
III. The text is also A PLAN. It is in the word "before" that I find the plan, and it is in that word "before" that I find the difficulty on the human side. God does not say, I will go alongside thee; we shall go step by step: He says, I will go before thee. Sometimes it may be a long way before us, so that we cannot see Him; and sometimes it may be just in front of us. But whether beyond, far away, or here close at hand, the great idea we have to live upon is that God goes before us.
1. Let us beware of regarding the text as a mere matter of course. There is an essential question of character to be settled. "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord."
2. Let us beware of regarding this text as a licence for carelessness Let us not say, "If God goes before me, and makes all places straight. why need I care?" To the good man all life is holy; there is no step of indifference; no subject that does not bring out his best desires. "The place whereon thou standest is holy ground" is the expression of every man who knows what it is to have God going before him.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
I. GOD'S PRELIMINARY WORK in "going before His people, making for them crooked places straight, breaking in pieces gates of brass, and cutting in sunder bars of iron."
1. The first promise lays a foundation for all the rest; "I will go before thee." How great must those difficulties be which need God Himself to go before us in order to overcome them! Surely they must be insuperable by any human strength. If we are rightly taught, we shall feel a need for the Lord to go before us, not only now and then, but every step of the way, for unless led and guided by Him, we are sure to go astray. How strikingly was this the case with the children of Israel. You may apply this promise to a variety of things.(1) It is applicable not only to spiritual, but to temporal trials and perplexities — to His going before us both in providence and grace.(2). But the words apply to the manifestation of His holy and sacred will.(3) It is especially in the removal of obstructions that the Lord fulfils this part of the promise.
2. "And make crooked things straight." This promise springs out of the former, and is closely connected with it; for it is only by the Lord s going before that things really crooked can be straightened. But what is meant by crooked places, and whence come they?(1) Some are inherently crooked, that is, it is in their very nature to be so. Thus crooked tempers, dispositions, desires, wills, lusts are in themselves inherently crooked, because being bent out of their original state by sin, they do not now lie level with God's holy will and Word.(2) But there are crooked places in the path of God's family, which are not inherently crooked as being sinful in themselves, but are crooked as made so by the hand of God to us. Of this kind are afflictions in body and mind, poverty in circumstances, trials in the family, persecution from superiors or ungodly relatives, heavy losses in business, bereavement of children, and, in short, a vast variety of circumstances curved into their shape by the hand of God, and so made. "crooked things" to us. Now, the Lord has promised, to make "crooked things straight." Taken in its fullest extent, the promise positively declares that from whatever source they come, or of whatsoever nature they be, the Lord will surely straighten them. By this He manifests His power, wisdom, and faithfulness. But how does He straighten them? In two ways, and this according to their nature. Sometimes by removing them out of the way; and sometimes by reconciling our minds to them.
3. But the Lord also promised Cyrus that He would, by going before him, break in pieces the gates of brass, &c. Cyrus longed to enter the city of Babylon; but when he took a survey of the only possible mode of entrance, he saw it firmly closed against him with gates of brass and iron. Can we not find something in our experience which corresponds to this feeling in Cyrus? There is a longing in the soul after a certain object. We press forward to obtain it, but what do we find in the road? Gates of brass and bars of iron. Look, for instance, at our very prayers. Are not the heavens sometimes brass over our heads, so that, as Jeremiah complains, "they cannot pass through"? Nay, is not your very heart itself sometimes a gate of brass, as hard, as stubborn, and as inflexible? So the justice, majesty, and holiness of God, when we view these dread perfections of Jehovah with a trembling eye under the guilt of sin, stand before the soul as so many gates of brass. The various enemies, too, which beset the soul; the hindrances and obstacles without and within that stand in the path; the opposition of sin, Satan, self, and the world against all that is good and godlike — may not all these be considered "gates of brass" barring out the wished-for access into the city?
4. But there are also "bars of iron." These strengthen the gates of brass and prevent them from being broken down or burst open, the stronger and harder metal giving firmness and solidity to the softer and weaker one. An unbelieving heart; the secret infidelity of the carnal mind; guilt of conscience produced by a sense of our innumerable wanderings from the Lord; doubts and fears often springing out of our own want of consistency and devotedness; apprehensions of being altogether deceived, from finding so few marks of grace and so much neglect of watchfulness and prayer — all these may be mentioned as bars of iron strengthening the gates of brass. Now, can you break to pieces these gates of brass, or cut in sunder the bars of iron? Here, then, when so deeply wanted, comes in the promise, "I will break," &c.
II. THE GIFTS WHICH THE LORD BESTOWS UPON THEM, when He has broken to pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron, here called "treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places."
1. "Treasures of darkness." But is not this a strange expression? How can there be darkness in the city of Salvation of which the Lord, the Lamb, is the eternal light? The expression does not mean that the treasures themselves are darkness, but that they were hidden in darkness till they were brought to light. The treasures of Belshazzar, like the Bank bullion, were buried in darkness till they were broken up and given to Cyrus. It is so in a spiritual sense. Are there not treasures in the Lord Jesus? Yet, all these are "treasures of darkness," so far as they are hidden from our eyes and hearts, till we are brought by His special power into the city of Salvation.
2. But the Lord promised also to give to Cyrus "the hidden riches of secret places," that is, literally, the riches of the city which were stored up in its secret places. But has not this, also a spiritual meaning? Yes. Many are "the hidden riches of secret places" with which the God of all grace enriches His believing family. Look, for instance, at the Word of God. But observe, how the promises are connected with "crooked places," "brazen gates," and "iron bars," and the going before of the Lord to remove them out of the way. Without this previous work we should be ignorant to our dying day of "the treasures of darkness"; we should never see nor handle "the hidden riches of secret places."
III. THE BLESSED EFFECTS PRODUCED by what the Lord thus does and thus gives — a spiritual and experimental knowledge, that "He who has called them by their name is the God of Israel." Observe the expression, "I, the Lord, which call thee by thy name." What an individuality it stamps on the person addressed! How it makes religion a personal thing! But what is produced by this special, individual, and personal calling? Knowledge. What knowledge? Spiritual, heartfelt, and experimental. Of what? "That the Lord who called them by name is the God of Israel." It is as "the God of Israel" that He manifests mercy and grace; that He never leaves nor forsakes the objects of His choice; that He fulfils every promise, defeats every enemy, appears in every difficulty, richly pardons every sin, graciously heals every backsliding, and eventually lands them in eternal bliss. Now, perhaps, we can see why God's people have so many gates of brass and bars of iron, so many trials and severe temptations. This is to bring them into personal acquaintance with God, the covenant God of Israel; to make religion a reality.
(J. C. Philpot.)
PeopleCyrus, Isaiah, Jacob
PlacesCush, Egypt, Jerusalem
TopicsApart, Asunder, Bars, Brass, Brazen, Break, Broken, Bronze, Crooked, Cut, Doors, Elevated, Gates, Iron, Level, Mountains, Pieces, Places, Plain, Rods, Rough, Shatter, Shiver, Smooth, Straight, Sunder, Two-leaved
Outline1. God calls Cyrus for his church's sake
5. By his omnipotence he challenges obedience
20. He convinces the idols of vanity by his saving power
Dictionary of Bible ThemesIsaiah 45:2
LibraryHidden and Revealed
'Verily thou art a God that hidest Thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour.... I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth; I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye Me in vain: I the Lord speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.'--ISAIAH xlv, 15,19. The former of these verses expresses the thoughts of the prophet in contemplating the close of a great work of God's power which issues in the heathen's coming to Israel and acknowledging God. He adores the depth of the divine …
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The Eternity and Unchangeableness of God.
Of Four Things which Bring Great Peace
Covenanting According to the Purposes of God.
A Plain Description of the Essence and Attributes of God, Out of the Holy Scripture, So Far as Every Christian must Competently Know, and Necessarily Believe, that Will be Saves.
The Unity of God
Spiritual Hunger Shall be Satisfied
Thy Name: My Name
The Extent of Messiah's Spiritual Kingdom
The Theology of St. Hilary of Poitiers.
Gifts and Talents.
Putting God to Work
Extent of Atonement.
Messiah's Innocence vindicated
Nature of Covenanting.
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