Lord, give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of thee. Amen.
Isaiah 49, 5. 6. And now, saith the Lord that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and my God shall be my strength. And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel; I will also give thee for a light to the gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.
This servant of the Lord, the Savior of the tribes of Jacob, and the light of the gentiles, is none other than our Lord Jesus Christ. This text is that which Simeon had in mind when he saw the infant Savior. The Spirit of Christ in the prophets dwelt in him, and he repeats this text in this form: “Mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.”
Christ was to “raise up the tribes of Jacob;” that is, the Jewish people. But though he was formed for this work from his mother’s womb, and though his judgment was with the Lord, yet he must say: “I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain.” This is at once cause for sorrow and cause for joy. It is a sad thing for Israel. Alas, the children of Abraham, “who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came;” God’s chosen and peculiar people, — these are scattered to the winds, and refuse to be gathered by their own King! But it is fortunate for us, as we the sooner receive that salvation which they have rejected. When they that are bidden make light of the invitation to the supper, it is sent to the halt and the blind and the maimed in the streets and lanes and hedges; and the last become the first, and the first the last. — Furthermore, it is comforting to us to hear our Lord Jesus himselt complain of having labored for nought; — in vain, and yet not in vain! It is good for us that the Lord himself has been thus tried. A true servant of the Lord has sorrow by the reason of the obstinacy of his people, and is zealous for their salvation. He labors, and invites, and calls, and urges them, and intecedes for them before God; and can not understand why they will persist in serving Satan. He feels that he should be able to compel them to hear the word of life, but all that he does seems to be in vain; he labors for nought; they will not repent and believe. But then the Lord says: “It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob; I will also give thee for a light to the gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.” This is to be the final result of his work oi salvation; and all his servants labor in this work. He accomplishes it through them at the very time when it seems to them that their labor is in vain. Nothing whatever which is done for the Lord is in vain; every thought which you think, every effort which you make in the cause of love and truth, is of God. How, then, can it go for nought? Your want of wisdom may be an obstacle in the way; but the Lord has taken this also into account; and he does wisely that which you do foolishly. There is no danger of loss by reason of the good which you do; the danger lies in that which you neglect. Be zealous, and rejoice; the honor of the Lord is advanced by your efforts; and the grace of Christ, which brings salvation, shall make its way unto the end of the earth.
In this faith do thou make us diligent to do thy work, Lord Jesus. Amen.
To comfort and to bless,
To find a balm for woe,
To tend the lone and fatherless,
Is angels’ work below.
Oh, hearts are bruised and dead,
And homes are bare and cold,
And lambs, for whom the Shepherd bled,
Are straying from the fold!