EVEN down to the present day, the Jewish nation has not been destroyed. It has been made to pass through fire and through water. The story of the persecution of the Jews, both, in earlier and later times, would fill many volumes with the most harrowing details.
Had they not been a people whom God specially ordained to remain as His witnesses until the Messiah comes again, they would have utterly perished from among the sons of men. They have been a people scattered and peeled, rent and torn, hunted and harried; yet they still exist. For many centuries they were equally abhorred by the unbelievers and the so-called Christians; yet they have lived on, and they will continue to live on until a new heart and a right spirit shall be given to them, and the Lord shall, in His great mercy, take away the blindness which in part has happened to Israel, so that they shall look on Him whom they have pierced, and shall mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son. Then shall come the glory of the Gentiles, when more than the former glory of Israel shall be restored to her.
"But now thus says the Lord that created you, O Jacob, and He that formed you, O Israel, fear not: for I have redeemed you, I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you: when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior: I gave Egypt for your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for you. Since you were precious in My sight, you have been honorable, and I have loved you: therefore will I give men for you, and people for your life. But you have not called upon Me, O Jacob; but you have been weary of Me, O Israel. You have not brought Me the small cattle of your burnt offerings; neither have you honored Me with your sacrifices. I have not caused you to serve with an offering, nor wearied you with incense. You have bought Me no sweet cane with money, neither have you filled Me with the fat of your sacrifices: but you have made Me to serve with your sins, you have wearied Me with your iniquities. I, even I, am He that blots out your transgressions for My own sake, and will not remember your sins." Isaiah 43:1-4;22-25.
But, faithful followers, every promise in the Scriptures, of a spiritual nature, which is made to the literal people of Israel, and to the seed after the flesh, is, according to the inspired teaching of the apostle Paul, yet more fully made to the seed of Abraham after the spirit, for all believers are his spiritual seed. Was he not the father of all the faithful, not of the circumcision only, but of them also who are uncircumcised, if they trust in the living God?
To us, then, as well as to the literal Israel, is this promise made; and to the Church of God, as a whole, it will be fulfilled, even as it has been fulfilled to us thus far. The faithful martyrs have told us how often she (Israel) has gone through fire and through water; but the floods have not drowned her, neither have the flames consumed her. At this time she stands in a place of abundance; her Lord has set her feet in a large room. Her banner still floats upon the breeze. No weapon that is formed against her shall prosper, and every tongue that rises against her in judgment she shall condemn. For her there is a noble destiny. Her full glory is not yet revealed; but we know that when her Heavenly Bridegroom shall appear in His glory, His bride shall share in it with Him. Yes, faithful followers, we, who believe in Jesus, are on the winning side; we are on the side which has God with it, and Christ with it, and eternity with it; and the appointed day shall reveal that this is the conquering side.
TRIALS ARE TO BE EXPECTED BY BELIEVERS.
I suppose that some young Christians imagine that the favorites of heaven will never be tried, but it is not so. The first verse of this chapter bids us fear not, for God has redeemed us, and called us by our names, and we are His; and we might, therefore, draw the conclusion that we could live at our ease, enjoy all manner of luxuries, and, as the chosen people of God, be protected from every wintry blast. Beloved, it is not so; if you are heirs of the kingdom of God, you are also, most assuredly, heirs of tribulation, for your Lord has declared, “In the world you shall have tribulation.” If you are soldiers in the army of Christ, you are not intended to win the victory without a conflict; and if you are ordained to wear a crown above, you are certainly equally ordained to bear a cross below. Grace does not bring luxury in its train, nor does it lull us into a sweet slumber, and carry us to the skies.
Our trials have not only been varied and terrible, but they have been many times repeated. I do not think it is merely the parallelism of the Hebrew poetry which requires the reduplication of the sentences here; or, if it is, yet even then we may suppose the poetry to be typical of the trials of the believer’s life.
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