The Divided Kingdom
November 6th, 1974 @ 7:30 PM
2 Samuel 7
THE DIVIDED KINGDOM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2 Samuel 7
11-6-74 7:30 p.m.
Last Wednesday night, we closed with a naming of five of the moving events in the life of David. They were, number one: he chose Jerusalem as his capital and that is going to be the capital city for all of God’s creation forever, the "New Jerusalem" [Revelation 21:1-2]. David chose Jerusalem for his capital [2 Samuel 5:5-14]. Number two: the ark of the covenant was brought into Jerusalem by David [2 Samuel 6:1-6]. Number three: Nathan the prophet said to him that he should have a son who would reign upon his throne forever; 2 Samuel 7:12: "I will set up thy seed after thee, forever"; and 2 Samuel 7:16: "Thy throne shall be established forever."
The fourth great thing in the life of David: in 2 Samuel 23:1, he’s called the sweet psalmist of Israel. The beautiful praises wherewith the people worshiped God were the fruits of David’s hand and heart. And fifth: the site of the temple was chosen where David offered up expiation for his sins when he bought Araunah’s threshing floor [2 Samuel 24:17-25]. That is called in 2 Chronicles 3:1, "Mount Moriah." And on Mount Moriah, where Abraham offered up Isaac [Genesis 22:1-13], and where David made expiation for the sins that brought such judgment upon the people – in that place, the temple was built [2 Chronicles 3:1].
Now, to begin with King David’s son, King Solomon; in those first three periods of the monarchy, there passed 120 years: Saul reigned forty years, David reigned 40 years, Solomon reigned 40 years, 120 years altogether. And of these three, Saul and Solomon were failures – abject failures! Because of Solomon, the unity of the kingdom was forever destroyed.
Contrary to the Mosaic law expressly spelled out in Deuteronomy 17:14-17, Solomon multiplied his wives; 700 wives and 300 concubines [1 Kings 11:3-4]. He multiplied his stables and his horses [1 Kings 4:26]. He quartered them all over the nation. If you ever go to Israel today, you will find Solomon’s stables here and there. The remains can be seen today. And he multiplied his wealth until, the Scriptures say, he made gold, on the streets of Jerusalem, as common as clods.
He was a most gifted man. He was the father of Hebrew wisdom. Of his three thousand proverbs, about one thousand of them, almost one thousand can be found in the Bible in the Book of Proverbs. And of his one thousand five songs, we have three. Two are in the Psalms, and one is called the Song of Solomon.
The one great outstanding thing that Solomon built, that Solomon did, was this. He built the temple [1 Kings 6:14]. He built it with one hundred eighty thousand workmen over a period of seven and one-half years. The sanctuary itself was very small, even though he doubled the size of the tabernacle. It was eighty feet long, whereas the tabernacle was forty; it was forty feet broad, whereas the tabernacle was twenty; and it was thirty feet high, whereas the tabernacle was fifteen. He doubled the measurements of the tabernacle when he built the naos, the sanctuary of the temple. But even then, it is very small. Eighty feet long would be from there to maybe right there. Forty feet broad would be from right there, possibly, to right there. And thirty feet high would be about halfway up to the height of the ceiling.
You could put the sanctuary inside this church and still have plenty of room for services. But that temple was, and is to be, one of the great, tremendous symbols of God’s presence among men. That temple lasted, with varying fortune, for one thousand one hundred years, until it was destroyed by Titus in 70 AD.
Thinking of the temple built on the foundation, the one that was destroyed, as being sort of a continuing symbol. And today, the reason the Western Wall in Jerusalem is the most sacred of all of the places in Judaism is because the Western Wall is closest to the Holy Of Holies. If you enter the temple site from the east, where it faced, you have first the altar, then you have the laver, then you’d have the sanctuary itself [Exodus 30:18]. So, the Western Wall is closest to the sanctuary itself; and there you will find the Hebrew people gathering every day; and on the Sabbath day, with unusual dedication and praying.
Now, the kings of the divided kingdom; the wild extravagances and cruel despotism of Solomon laid the foundation for the division, the rending of the kingdom. And the folly of Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, sealed that division. So, it is divided, the northern ten tribes called the kingdom of Israel and the lower two tribes called the kingdom of Judah [1 Kings 12:1-20].
The Northern Kingdom of Israel lasted for two hundred fifty-three years. It had nineteen kings – all of them wicked. Isn’t that an astonishing comment upon the chosen people of God? In all of the two hundred fifty-three years of the Northern Kingdom, there was not one ruler that was good – not one! It was finally destroyed, as you know, in 722 BC by the Assyrians [2 Kings 17:18]. The most famous of those northern kings, as you know, would be Jeroboam I who founded it; Jeroboam II, at whose court Amos appeared; and, of course, Ahab and Jezebel.
The Southern Kingdom lasted beyond the destruction of the Northern Kingdom in 722 BC. It lasted beyond, for one hundred thirty-six years. The Northern Kingdom had nineteen kings and one queen. They were all bad, also, but five; the good kings and these alone: Asa, Jehoshaphat, Jotham, Hezekiah and Josiah.
The prophets of the Northern Kingdom: now these are just identified with Israel. The oral prophets were Ahijah, and Jehu, and Elijah, and Malchiah, and Elisha, and Oded. The writing prophets of the Northern Kingdom of Israel were Jonah, and Amos, and Hosea. The prophets of the Southern Kingdom – the oral, those that delivered just a spoken message, were Shemaiah, Iddo, Oded, Azariah, Hananiah, Jehu, Eleazar and Zechariah. And the writing prophets of the Southern Kingdom were Joel, Isaiah, and Micah.
Now of those kings, I have chosen to speak of the good king Hezekiah. His father Ahaz and his son Manasseh were the two most evil kings that Judah ever had. Isn’t that an astonishing thing? How could Hezekiah be so good with so evil a father? And how could Hezekiah be so good and have a son so bad?
I have a comment to make. Heredity and environment do not necessarily determine character. We can blame the parents, and we can blame society, and we can blame friends and foes and social orders and cultures and all kinds of things, as you please, but ultimately and finally, what I am, I chose to be. My father notwithstanding, my mother notwithstanding, my environment notwithstanding, I also have a free choice in what I am. And if I am a criminal, I choose to be a criminal! If I am a dope pusher, I choose to be a dope pusher! If I am a dope addict, or a glutton, or a drunkard, I chose to be that!
Now, I don’t think there is any mistaking of the fact that the Bible teaches us moral, individual accountability. Whatever my father was, whatever my mother was, whatever my environment is, I am responsible before God. And this is, I say, a remarkable thing: That between the sixteen years of the evil reign of Ahaz and the fifty-five years – the longest reign of any king – and between the fifty-five years of the reign of Manasseh, there are the twenty-nine years of the reign of good King Hezekiah.
I want to point out something that, when I point it out, I don’t know what to say about it. I don’t know how to make a judgment concerning it. Do you remember in the thirty-eighth chapter of Isaiah God sent Isaiah to Hezekiah to tell him: "Set your house in order, for thou shalt die, and not live" [Isaiah 38:1]. Do you remember that? And the story says that Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and wept before the Lord and pleaded with God for his life [Isaiah 38:2-3]. So, before Isaiah could get out of the palace, the Lord turned him around and sent him back to the king with the announcement: "I have added to thy years fifteen. For I have seen thy tears, and I have heard thy prayers" [Isaiah 38:4-5]. Do you remember that story?
All right, this is what I want to point out, and I don’t know what to say about it. It was in those fifteen years that God added to Hezekiah, that Manasseh was born – and I do that for a reason that you’re going to see later on. Had Hezekiah died when the Lord said he was to die, Manasseh would never have been born, and as you’re going to see, Judah might never have been destroyed. But it was in answering prayer that Manasseh was born. I have said I don’t quite know how to speak of that. Is it wrong for a man to weep before God and to cry before the Lord; and when the Lord says something to plead against it? Or should we just say: "Lord, I have no will in it at all. I have no prayer in it at all. If God says – that’s it!"
I don’t know what to say about it. I just point that out to you that had Hezekiah died when God said, "Set your house in order: for thou shalt surely die" [Isaiah 38:1], there would never have been a Manasseh, and there might never have been the destruction of Judah and the Babylonian captivity. Anyway, Hezekiah was a good and marvelous man before the Lord; and, in his day, there was a great revival and reformation. Idolatry was destroyed [2 Kings 18:4].
Do you remember my referring to that brazen serpent? I referred to it, speaking of the body of Moses [Jude 9]. In Jude, it says that the archangel Michael disputed with Satan over the body of Moses – and I made the speculation, which is just my own personal thought, nothing in the Bible about it at all – what did Satan want with the body of Moses? I think that he wanted to use it as a trap, as a shrine, as an incentive and an invitation for idolatry. For had Satan received and controlled the body of Moses, he would have presented it there and the Jew would have been an idolater to this day, worshiping the form and frame of Moses. Why, there’s not a Jew in the world but that will tell you that Moses was a far greater man than Jesus! And had they this Moses – had they the body of Moses, I think what you see over there in the Kremlin, in the attitude, and genuflection, and sycophancy of the communist world to the body of Lenin – I think that would be a peccadillo compared to how they would have had attitude toward the body of Moses. And I think that’s what Satan wanted with it.
Well, anyway, I use an illustration for that: they kept the brazen serpent of Moses, and the 2 Kings: 18:1-8, says that it was a snare to Israel, and they burned incense to it, so Hezekiah destroyed it. And that’s why I think had they the body of Moses – if they were bowing down and worshiping like idolaters before the brazen serpent, think of what they would have done before the actual frame and body of Moses himself!
Anyway, under the great revival and reformation of Hezekiah, idolatry was destroyed [2 Chronicles 29-31]. They opened the doors of the temple. Isn’t that an astonishing thing? They let the temple lie in neglect and in absolute ruin, and Hezekiah reinstituted temple worship; opened the doors, and the sacrifices were offered again [2 Chronicles 29:20-36]. The scarlet thread through the Bible: wherever you have great revival, there you’ll have the blood; there you’ll have the sacrifice; there you’ll have the atonement. There’s no great revival without it. And once again, the Book says, the song of the Lord began, praising God [2 Chronicles 29:30].
And for the first time in seven hundred twenty-five years, they observed the Passover, the celebration of the Passover [2 Chronicles 30:15-27]. Isn’t that an amazing thing, how the people drift away from God? Isn’t it a marvelous thing when they come back? Always – and you’re going to see this especially – always it will be in the blood, in the scarlet thread! And in that day of great revival and reformation, for the first time in seven hundred twenty-five years, they observed the Passover, the slaying of the lamb and the sprinkling of the blood [Exodus 12:3-7, 13, 22-28].
Now, I told you while ago, we were going to look at that evil son of Hezekiah named Manasseh. His reign falls into two parts. The first part is evil. He introduced – Manasseh did – Manasseh introduced human sacrifices [2 Kings 21:2-9]. Isn’t that unthinkable, that a man who belonged and ruled over the chosen people of God would offer human flesh and human life before his idols? And he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood [2 Kings 24:3-4]. Chronicles tells us, not Kings, Chronicles tells us that the Babylonian king came and took him prisoner [2 Chronicles 33:11]. And while he was a prisoner in Babylon, he repented and gave his heart to God and was restored to the throne [2 Chronicles 33:12-13].
All right, what happened? His sins were forgiven, but the consequences of his sins destroyed Jerusalem, and Judah, and the temple. It was on account of the sins of Manasseh – even though God forgave him – that the kingdom, and the holy city, and the temple were destroyed. You look at 2 Kings 23: 26, 2 Kings 23:26: "Notwithstanding the Lord turned not from the fierceness of His great wrath, wherewith His anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked Him withal." That’s just before you have the close of the book and the Babylonian captivity [2 Kings 25:1-30]. Now, I want you to turn to 2 Kings 24:3-4:
Surely, surely at the commandment of the Lord came this upon Judah, to remove them out of His sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he did;
And also for the innocent blood that he shed: for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; which the Lord would not pardon.
Now, what do you think about that? God said to Manasseh: "Your sins are forgiven. I will give you back your throne and your kingdom." But on account of what he had already done, God destroyed the city [2 Kings 24:3-4]. Now, lest you think that be just here, would you turn with me to the prophet Jeremiah? Turn to Jeremiah, chapter 15; Jeremiah 15:4:
I will cause them to be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah king of Judah, for that which he did in Jerusalem.
O, who shall have pity upon thee, O Jerusalem? or who shall bemoan thee? or who shall go aside to ask how thou doest?
Dear God in heaven, when you do wrong, the repercussion of it lasts forever. In 2 Samuel 12:13-14: "Nathan the prophet said to David, The Lord hath put away thy sin, [2 Samuel 12:13]. but the sword shall never depart from thine house" [2 Samuel 12:10]. You may be forgiven, and your soul may be saved from hell, but when you do wrong, the repercussion of it goes on forever. The judgment is never stayed. "The Lord hath put away thy sin," said the prophet Nathan to David, "but the sword shall never depart from thine house."
And in Babylonian captivity, Manasseh bowed his head in repentance and asked God, and God forgave him. But on account of the sins of Manasseh, God destroyed Jerusalem, and God destroyed Judah, and God destroyed the Holy City; and God carried the people off into captivity [2 Chronicles 36:17-21]. Oh, the somberness, and the sobriety, and the responsibility of life! You tremble before it!
Now, there was a king named Josiah, and there was also revival and reformation under Josiah [2 Kings 22:1-2]. And I speak of it for a good reason. The last good king of Judah was Josiah. He repaired the temple and made God’s house beautiful [2 Kings 22:3-8]. Do you think it’s all right to make God’s house beautiful? Oh, I do! When I see God’s house looking as though nobody cared for it – just a picture of dereliction and neglect – oh, I just feel fallen on the inside of me. God’s house ought to be beautifully kept.
He repaired the temple [2 Kings 22:3-8]. He reinstituted the Passover [2 Kings 23:21-24]. Here again, blood atonement, the scarlet thread through the Bible – revival and reformation never without it! And the scroll of the law was found. The Bible was found when he cleaned out and swept the temple [2 Kings 22:8-14]. Isn’t that something, that the Bible should be lost in the house of the Lord. Do you suppose that’s the only instance where the Bible has ever been lost in the house of the Lord? You know, I hate to say it, but I would suppose in most of the pulpits and churches of the land, the Bible is absolutely lost. It’s never referred to, never preached out of, never expounded, never opened to the people.
When I’m sometimes on vacation and go to services, I have been in services, even in certain Baptist churches, and the Bible never be referred to. Isn’t that an amazing thing? Never be opened, never be quoted, never be referred to! And once in awhile, I have been in services, and the name of Jesus our Lord has never been named. Can you imagine that? Seems strange to us to read it here in the Bible – isn’t it – that they should find the Holy Scriptures in the house of God; but they did [2 Kings 22:8], and it began the great revival [2 Kings 23:1-25].
Now, one of the saddest things of all of the Scriptures: when good King Josiah was 39 years of age, why, I don’t understand, he took his little army – at the pass of Megiddo, at Armageddon – he took his little army at Megiddo and sought to stay the march of Pharaoh Necho, out of Egypt, to go up there to the Mesopotamian Valley where Assyria and Babylon were warring to the death. And at Megiddo, at Armageddon, at thirty-nine years of age, good King Josiah was slain [2 Kings 23:29-30; 2 Chronicles 35:20-24]. And his death moved Judah beyond any sorrow and lamentation the people had ever known [2 Chronicles 35:25].
Now, years and years and years and years later, the lamentation over the slaughter of good King Josiah at Armageddon is spoken of in the twelfth chapter of the prophet Zechariah:
I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.
And in that day; talking about when they see Jesus: when He comes and they "look upon Him whom they have pierced"; when the Lord comes again:
In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning at Haddad Rimmon in the Valley of Megiddo.
And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David, the family of the house of Nathan,
The family of the house of Levi,
And in that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.
That prophecy is familiar to you, when the Lord comes and they look upon Him; but I just wanted to point out to you that when the holy prophet describes the sadness of Judah and the people of Israel, when Jesus comes and they look upon Him and see Him whom they crucified, it says that they will mourn "as they mourned at Haddad Rimmon in the Valley of Megiddo" over Josiah [Zechariah 12:10-14]. Just reading it, you know, you wouldn’t know that the prophet was comparing that terrible sense of sadness, and loss, and hurt, and repentance to the day when good King Josiah was slain at Haddad Rimmon in the Valley of Megiddo.
"Well, pastor, you said you were going to pick out Josiah and the wonderful revival and reformation under him for a reason." Well, this is the reason: in the days of the wonderful revival under Josiah, I think Daniel came to know the Lord. It was in the days of Josiah’s revival and reformation that Daniel grew up as a boy. It was in the days of the wonderful revival of Josiah that Ezekiel came to know the Lord. And it was in the days of the wonderful revival under Josiah that the ancestors of Mordecai, the uncle of Esther, came to know the Lord. The great, mighty revival under Josiah had its waves of influence and repercussion for the years and the years and the generations.
Well, I have something else here that I want to point out to you: What do you think about God, who sits up there in heaven, and He sees Pharaoh Necho slay His good King Josiah? What do you think about that? What do you think God will do? What do you think about that? Well, that’s sure here in the Book! The Lord’s judgment upon Pharaoh Necho and the Egyptian nation has been the most disastrous judgment the world has ever known. That’s God, when He looked down and saw Pharaoh Necho slay good King Josiah, for you know what Pharaoh Necho did? He went up there to the head of the Mesopotamian Valley, and there – seeking to help Assyria against Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians – there was fought the great determining, historical, destiny-determining battle of the ancient world: the Battle of Carchemish was fought in 605 BC, one of the greatest dates in all history. And in that battle, two great empires were forever destroyed. Number one, it was the absolute and final burial of Assyria. And so absolute was the burial of Assyria and Nineveh, its capital city, that Alexander the Great took his army and marched over it, and took his soldiers and trod upon the actual site of the great capital city of Assyria, Nineveh, and not one of them had any idea that a great, mighty civilization lay beneath their feet, so completely did the battle of Carchemish destroy the Assyrian empire.
But number two: the utter defeat of Pharaoh Necho and the Egyptians was so final, and under God everlasting, that Egypt has never risen to be a world power since. And in the Bible, Egypt is always referred to as a mean and despicable nation. When Pharaoh Necho slew good King Josiah, he thought: "What I have done! Look at the victory my strong arm has brought to me." But there’s Somebody up there in glory who sits on a throne of judgment in this earth; and when God looked down and saw it, God says: "It is enough! It is enough!" And I don’t think Egypt will ever rise again – never! I think it will be a poverty-stricken, dirty, and mean nation until the end of time.
All right, I want to show you something else. Jeremiah wrote an ode on this Battle of Carchemish, and I’m going to take time to read it; Jeremiah, chapter 46. Jeremiah, chapter 46; and I’m going to read the ode that Jeremiah wrote on this Battle of Carchemish. Jeremiah, chapter 46, speaking of the utter defeat of the Egyptian at the Battle of Carchemish in 605 BC, the defeat of Pharaoh Necho, who slew good King Josiah:
The word of the Lord which came to Jeremiah the prophet against the Gentiles;
Against Egypt, against the army of Pharaoh Necho king of Egypt, which was by the River Euphrates in Carchemish, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon smote in the fourth year of Jehoiakim,
Order ye the buckler and shield, and draw near to battle.
Harness the horses; and get up, ye horsemen, and stand forth with your helmets; furbish the spears, and put on the brigandines.
Wherefore have I seen them dismayed and turned away back? and their mighty ones are beaten down, and are fled apace, and look not back: for fear was round about, saith the Lord.
Let not the swift flee away, nor the mighty man escape; they shall stumble, and fall toward the north by the River Euphrates.
Who is this that cometh up as a flood, whose waters are moved as the rivers?
Egypt riseth up like a flood, and his waters are moved like the rivers; and he saith, I will go up, and will cover the earth; I will destroy the city and the inhabitants thereof.
Come up, ye horses; and rage, ye chariots; and let the mighty men come forth; the Ethiopians and the Libyans, that handle the shield; and the Lydians, that handle and bend the bow.
For this is the day of the Lord God of hosts, a day of vengeance, that He may avenge Him of His adversaries: and the sword shall devour, and it shall be satiate and made drunk with their blood: for the Lord God of hosts hath a sacrifice in the north country by the River Euphrates.
Go up into Gilead, and take balm, O virgin, the daughter of Egypt: in vain shalt thou use many medicines; for thou shalt not be cured.
The nations have heard of thy shame, and thy cry hath filled the land: for the mighty man has stumbled against the mighty, and they are fallen both together.
This is the ode that Jeremiah wrote after the battle of Carchemish, when Egypt was forever destroyed as a great nation and a world power.
Are you bored to death with all these things? To me, reading and studying the Bible is absolutely the most fascinating thing! I’m like a drunkard; I get drunk on it! This is not anything – as you see the sweeping truth of the Almighty God moving in the story of human history.
Now, we’re going to conclude in just a moment. Coming back to Judah and the destruction and captivity, Jeremiah replied – Jeremiah cried to the people of Jerusalem: "Repent!" And Nebuchadnezzar came in 605 BC – Jeremiah, the prophet, lifted up his voice and cried to the people: "Repent!!" And Nebuchadnezzar came the second time in 598 BC, and Jeremiah lifted up his voice and cried: "Repent!!! Get right! Get right!" And Nebuchadnezzar came in 587 BC and after a siege of 18 months, he never needed to come again, for the city, and the capital, and the country, and the holy temple were completely destroyed. Zedekiah, the last king – his sons were slain before his eyes. His own eyes were put out. He was taken in chains to Babylon where he was kept in a dungeon until he died [Jeremiah 52:8-11]. The temple was burned; the walls of Jerusalem were broken down; the palaces were devoured with fire, and the people were carried into Babylonian captivity [Jeremiah 52:12-15]. Do you remember this plaintive, sad, and heartbreaking song?
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.
For they that carried us away captive required of us mirth, and they that wasted us required of us a song, saying, Sing one of the songs of Zion.
But how shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.
If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.
In a foreign land, but always no matter how God’s people are or how hopeless their estate, always there is encouragement in God. There are words of help and hope in the Lord. Twice in Jeremiah – 25:11 and in Jeremiah 29:10 – twice Jeremiah speaks of seventy years, "After seventy years, God will visit you." So, Daniel was taken captive in 605 BC [Daniel 1:1-6]. The seventy years were drawing to a close; and, in Daniel 9:2, we see Daniel reading Jeremiah and that prophet’s promise; and Daniel is down on his face and he is praying, for the seventy years are about up [Daniel 9:2-3]. It’s time. God’s going to visit His people! And one of the most beautiful and moving prayers in the Bible is in that ninth chapter of Daniel [Daniel 9:4-19]; followed by the most incomparable prediction, prophetic or disclosure to be found in the Word of God [Daniel 9:20-27]. Not only hope, but always comfort for God’s people in their affliction.
Tell me as I read these verses in closing; tell me if you do not feel the sweetness and the dearness of the presence of God as He speaks to His people in their Babylonian captivity.
Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, saith your God.
Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.
[Isaiah 40:1, 2]
That’s God! However He may strike, and chasten, and punish, always God’s heart is moved in mercy, in love, in tender, sweet and precious kindness. Look again as I turn the page:
Thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and He that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee
The scarlet line through the Bible: these are blood bought; they belong to God:
I have redeemed thee, I have bought thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art Mine.
When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
For I, the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Savior – I am.
All of it spoken to Israel in their captivity. Look again in the forty-forth chapter and the twenty-eighth verse, "that saith of Cyrus" hundreds of years before he was born:
that saith of Cyrus, He is My shepherd, and shall perform all My pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.
That saith, to My anointed – that is the word "messiah" – to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him.
Our time is past. Just this word; and the Lord chastens us, and judges us, and afflicts us; at the same time, the Lord comforts us and speaks words of encouragement to us. "As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his evil way and live: turn ye, turn ye . . . for why will ye die?" [Ezekiel 33:11]. God’s heart ever in infinite mercy is always turned and open towards us.
Now may we bow just for a moment? In the presence of the Lord and His Holy Spirit that speaks to us through the living Word of God, is there somebody here tonight to give himself to Jesus, or to put his life in the fellowship of the church, anywhere? Is there somebody you to trust the Lord, to put his life in our dear church? Would you hold up your hand; anywhere? Anywhere, is there one here tonight? Then say with me, with our heads bowed, "Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His holy name." Now, let’s all say it once again: "Bless the Lord; O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His holy name" [Psalm 103:1]. Amen, and God keep you.