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Sun and Moon stand still
But yet this latter manifestation, if rightly discerned, is full of light, full of glory, of infinite power, mighty to overthrow foes. The friends of the Cross rejoice in its royal progress and celebrate its victories.
6. He stood, and measured the earth : he beheld, and drove asunder the nations; and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways are everlasting. He stands and measures the earth. He beholds and makes nations
tremble. Hoary hills, which have stood unmoved since ages before man began to live on the earth, tremble at His steps. The entry of Israel into the land of promise, attended by portents, is alluded to in this verse, but does not exhaust its meaning. O no. When Christ the Lord converts His ancient people and adds them to the heritage of His Church : when He takes the earth for His own, and reigns over hearts : when He makes a road into proudest intellects, most stubborn wills; these will be triumphs of a higher order.
7. I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction : and the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble. 8. Was the Lord displeased against the rivers ? was thine anger against the rivers ? was thy wrath against the sea, that thou didst ride upon thine horses and thy chariots of salvation ? 9. The bow was made quite naked, according to the oaths of the tribes, even thy word. Selah. Thou didst cleave the earth with rivers. 10. The mountains saw thee, and they trembled: the overflowing of the water passed by : the deep uttered his voice, and lifted up his hands on high. 11. The sun and moon stood still in their habitation : at the light of thine arrows they went, and at the shining of thy glittering spear. 12. Thou didst march through the land in indignation, thou didst thresh the heathen in anger. Ethiopia was in trouble, Midian afraid, Red Sea opened, Sinai
trembled, storms raged, lightnings flashed, Jordan parted, sun and moon stood still, Canaan fed in fear; such was the apparatus of the old-time deliverance. And is not God able still to work wonders for His chosen ? Do not think that Scripture history exhausts all His operations. The sea of this inconstant world, the fury of blasphemers, the hardness of a sinner's heart, the glory of this world's princes, the desolation and blank of a wasted life, the dark stream of death, all these are illuminated, penetrated, overcome, changed by the power of Redeeming Love. The war
God's conquering March
chariots of Christ Jesus, His piercing arrows, His unsheathed sword, His flashes of lightning, His peals of thunder-all these have been manifested, and will be. Let not His warriors grow faint-hearted, or forget their King's power and promises.
13. Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, even for salvation with thine anointed ; thou woundedst the head out of the house of the wicked, by discovering the foundation unto the neck. Selah. 14. Thou didst strike through with his staves the head of his villages : they came out as a whirlwind to scatter me: their rejoicing was as to devour the poor secretly. 15. Thou didst walk through the sea with thine horses, through the heap of great waters. In Revelation God comes forth. Nature conceals Him from sight, and therefore He has manifested Himself in ways beyond nature. My feeble eyes cannot always discern the difference ; cannot always separate His awe-compelling, providential, merciful dispensations in what I call nature from what I call grace or miracle. But I absolutely believe that He Who put good into our hearts, Who gave us power to strive against wickedness, Who guided and inspired holy persons in all ages, actually became Incarnate and overcame nature's law of death on purpose to reinforce oppressed goodness. “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.' The Passion and Victory of Christ Jesus are Faith's stronghold, whence Satan cannot drive her.
16. When I heard, my belly trembled ; my lips quivered at the voice : rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble : when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops. This is the same woe that Baruch felt, Jeremiah's friend, when he cried out (Jerem. xlv. 3), “The Lord hath added grief to my sorrow; I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest.' It is the chilling of heart and utter desolation with which Saints of old time comprehended that God's decree was fixed to destroy His Temple, remove His people, undo His covenant. The one light of true religion in the earth was to be extinguished. God
'... in wrath would seem to move
The landmark of a thousand years.' And true Christian hearts have sometimes felt the same, comparing Christ's promises with the present state of His Church. Where is the unity, the clear profession of Divine truth, the care for the oppressed, the love and fervour which once marked Christians? Have the Lord's promises failed ? And seers say that still darker times must come before the end.
17. Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines ; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat ; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls : 18. Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. In spite of the outward desolation, God has in reality gracious
thoughts about His land and His people. Spring will return after this breath of winter has passed. "I see indeed a great lack of the fruits of religion ; I see souls seemingly abandoned amidst this dangerous world. But I know that God and Christ remain the same. There is no less comfort to be found in Scripture now than our fathers found. The Holy Sacrament is precisely as deep a well of blessing as in old days. God is, as He always was, a fountain of mercy. I, too, in my day, may trust Him to give me life and peace. What could happen to alter this?
19. The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments. Safe and free. Yes, Lord; it is Thou only Who hast wrought this for me. Many whose gifts were far greater than mine have been caught and ruined in this world's dangerous path, while I continue to this day praising my Almighty Friend. Only, if this life has some eminences which give the rescued traveller clear air and a strong refuge, they are but figures of the eternal home on high. Then only will praise be perfect and virtue secure. Then the soul will understand the longsuffering mercy of God that has been greater than all our follies.
ΖΕΡ Η Α Ν Ι Α Η
MHE word of the Lord which came unto Zephaniah the son
1 of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hizkiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah. This Prophet lived in the earlier days of King Josiah. He describes the evils against which that good king strove. Perhaps he was one of the Prophets’ (2 Kings xxiii. 2) who were present when Josiah solemnly renewed the nation's Covenant with God. We find mentioned in this book of prophecy the very evils, idolworship, profanations, breaches of God's Commandments, which made the king weep and fear (2 Kings xxii. 19) when he heard the words of the re-discovered law. We find here the apprehensions of coming ruin which filled inspired minds at that time. They felt that they were on the edge of a great calamity which would sweep away all that seemed most deeply rooted. O Lord, Thy word, which came in those days to Prophets, comes to us still. Thou speakest, Thou warnest. Let not our ears refuse to listen, and to listen while it may profit us.
2. I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the Lord. 3. I will consume man and beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea, and the stumblingblocks with the wicked ; and I will cut off man from off the land, saith the Lord. What, here is a second Deluge! God undoes His creation ; destroys
the sixth day's work, men and beasts; and the fifth day's work, birds and fishes; reduces the world into formless ruin. Yes, but it is to preserve His chosen, and to raise up a new and purified world out of the old. The terrible judgment that was at hand is described by Zephaniah as if it was another deluge, provoked as that was by prevalent corruption, ending as that did in sweeping the land clean of its inhabitants. Meanwhile, faithful souls, like
The Condition of God's City
Noah, are bidden to prepare an ark wherein to hide; are bidden
to trust their Father's love, though ruin spreads around them. 4. I will also stretch out mine hand upon Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem ; and I will cut off the remnant of Baal from this place, and the name of the Chemarims with the priests; 5. And them that worship the host of heaven upon the housetops ; and them that worship and that swear by the Lord, and that swear by Malcham ; 6. And them that are turned back from the Lord ; and those that have not sought the Lord, nor enquired for him. Here is a mixture of true and false religion, or rather a pretence of
true religion covering unbelief. God is displeased with those who worshipped Baal (for remnants of his abolished worship still remained); with those who worshipped the stars (forsaking God's uncreated light for the feeble rays of created glory); with those who joined their false deity (Malcham or Molech) in common honour with the true God; with those who forsook or despised His name. Observe, God is 'a jealous God.' He would be served sovereignly and solely. He has given all, and so demands all. The worshipper who would only give Him half is reckoned to have given Him nothing. He requires secret hours and intimate thoughts as well as public recognition. “To believe in Him, to fear Him, and to love Him with all my heart, with all my mind, with all my soul, and with all my strength,'—this was what I was bound to in old days. In this I shall find happiness
and peace. 7. Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord God: for the day of the Lord is at hand: for the Lord hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests. Alas, what a feast, and what guests! The victim to be sacrificed
and consumed is no brute beast, but God's own people. The guests are fierce warriors from other lands whom God invites to attend, prepares for their work of destruction. God's own Sacrificial Feasts had been neglected or profaned, and now a terrible expiation is demanded where Israel itself is the sacrifice. This is because in old time He had invited His guests to share in His peace-offerings, with thankful hearts acknowledging His goodness; but to no purpose-His call had been unheeded. 8. And it shall come to pass in the day of the Lord's sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king's children and all such as are clothed with strange apparel.
Strange apparel' on the Lord's people when they came to His feasts. This means behaviour and life such as heathens used, in