The sinners in Zion are afraid - Zion has been generally considered as a type of the Church of God. Now all the members of God's Church should be holy, and given to good works; sinners in Zion, therefore, are portentous beings! but, alas! where are they not? The Targum on this verse is worthy of notice: "The sinners in Zion are broken down; fear hath seized the ungodly, who are suffering for their ways. They say, Who among us shall dwell in Zion, where the splendor of the Divine Majesty is like a consuming fire? Who of us shall dwell in Jerusalem, where the ungodly are judged and delivered into hell for an eternal burning?" Everdurynge brennyngis. Old MS. Bible.
The sinners in Zion are afraid - This verse is evidently designed to describe the alarm that was produced in Jerusalem on impenitent sinners and hypocrites by a view of the judgment of God on the army of Sennacherib. They would see his wrath on his enemies then, and in view of the terrors of his indignation in relation to that army they would be alarmed, and would ask how it would be possible for them to endure such wrath forever. If the effect of the wrath of God even for a night, when it should blaze against that great army, was so terrible, how could it be borne forever? This seems to be the general idea of the passage. A great variety of interpretations have been proposed, which may be seen in Vitringa and Poole. The phrase, ‹sinners in Zion‘ here refers to the wicked and rebellious in Jerusalem.
Fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites - Those who professed to serve God, and yet who were secretly depending on the aid of Egypt (see Isaiah 31:1-9; compare the note at Isaiah 9:17). The sentiment here is, that those who professedly are the friends of God, but who are secretly and really his enemies, are often alarmed at his judgments. When the judgments of God overtake sinners, they are conscious that they deserve also his wrath, and their minds are filled with consternation. So in a time of prevailing sickness, or of pestilence, they who have really no confidence in God, and no evidence that they are prepared to die, are filled with alarm. A true friend of God will be calm in such scenes; a hypocrite will show by his consternation that he has no religion.
Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? - Some have understood this as referring to the fires which they supposed the Assyrian would kindle in Jerusalem, apprehending that he would take and burn the city. But the more probable interpretation is that which refers it to the judgment that would be brought upon the Assyrians - the burning wrath of God like fire that would consume them. The destruction of the Assyrians is repeatedly represented under the image of a storm and tempest, where there would be the ‹flame of devouring fire‘ (see the note at Isaiah 29:6). The sense is this: ‹God has suddenly consumed that immense army of his foes. Such must be the awful punishment of the wicked. How can we abide it? We also, through among his people, are his foes, and are exposed to his wrath. How can we endure the terrors of that day when his burning indignation shall also overtake us?‘
Shall dwell with everlasting burnings - Who among us could endure to suffer amid such burning wrath forever? If that wrath is so fierce as to consume such an immense host in a single night, who could abide it should it be continued forever and forever? This is the obvious sense of this passage; and it implies:
1. That hypocrites will be greatly alarmed when they see punishment come upon the open and avowed enemies of God.
2. That in such times they will have none of the peace and quiet confidence which his true friends have.
3. That such an alarm is evidence of conscious guilt and hypocrisy.
4. That the persons here spoken of had a belief of the doctrine of eternal punishment - a belief which hypocrites and sinners always have, else why should they be alarmed?
5. That the punishment of hypocrites in the church will be dreadful and terrific. This seems to have been the conviction here. They saw that if such judgments came upon those who had no knowledge of the true God, it must be infinitely more terrible on those who had been trained amidst the institutions of religion, and who had professed attachment to Yahweh. And so it will be in a preeminent degree among those who have been trained in the Christian church, and who have been the professed but insincere followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I saw that the people of God must arouse and put on the armor. Christ is coming, and the great work of the last message of mercy is of too much importance for us to leave it and come down to answer such falsehoods, misrepresentations, and slanders as the Messenger party have fed upon and have scattered abroad. Truth, present truth, we must dwell upon it. We are doing a great work, and cannot come down. Satan is in all this, to divert our minds from the present truth and the coming of Christ. Said the angel: “Jesus knows it all.” In a little from this their day is coming. All will be judged according to the deeds done in the body. The lying tongue will be stopped. The sinners in Zion will be afraid, and fearfulness will surprise the hypocrites. 1T 123.1
*****Read in context »
We must have a converted ministry. The efficiency and power attending a truly converted minister would make the hypocrites in Zion tremble and sinners afraid. The standard of truth and holiness is trailing in the dust. If those who sound the solemn notes of warning for this time could realize their accountability to God they would see the necessity for fervent prayer. When the cities were hushed in midnight slumber, when every man had gone to his own house, Christ, our Example, would repair to the Mount of Olives, and there, amid the overshadowing trees, would spend the entire night in prayer. He who was Himself without the taint of sin,—a treasure house of blessing; whose voice was heard in the fourth watch of the night by the terrified disciples upon the stormy sea, in heavenly benediction; and whose word could summon the dead from their graves,—He it was who made supplication with strong crying and tears. He prayed not for Himself, but for those whom He came to save. As He became a suppliant, seeking at the hand of His Father fresh supplies of strength, and coming forth refreshed and invigorated as man's substitute, He identified Himself with suffering humanity and gave them an example of the necessity of prayer. 4T 528.1
His nature was without the taint of sin. As the Son of man, He prayed to the Father, showing that human nature requires all the divine support which man can obtain that he may be braced for duty and prepared for trial. As the Prince of life He had power with God and prevailed for His people. This Saviour, who prayed for those that felt no need of prayer, and wept for those that felt no need of tears, is now before the throne, to receive and present to His Father the petitions of those for whom He prayed on earth. The example of Christ is for us to follow. Prayer is a necessity in our labor for the salvation of souls. God alone can give the increase of the seed we sow. 4T 528.2
We fail many times because we do not realize that Christ is with us by His Spirit as truly as when, in the days of His humiliation, He moved visibly upon the earth. The lapse of time has wrought no change in His parting promise to His apostles as He was taken up from them into heaven: “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” He has ordained that there should be a succession of men who derive authority from the first teachers of the faith for the continual preaching of Christ and Him crucified. The Great Teacher has delegated power to His servants, who “have this treasure in earthen vessels.” Christ will superintend the work of His ambassadors if they wait for His instruction and guidance. 4T 529.1Read in context »
Guard the Paper.—Present truth. Guard the paper, lest there shall be introduced into it articles that are not suitable for this time. God help you, my dear fellow laborers, to work as if you were in full view of the whole universe of heaven. Important issues must soon be met, and we wish to be hid in the cleft of the rock, that we may see Jesus, and be quickened by His Holy Spirit. We have no time to lose, not a moment. CW 113.1
“Hear, ye that are far off, what I have done; and, ye that are near, acknowledge My might. The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil; he shall dwell on high: his place of defense shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure. Thine eyes shall see the King in His beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.” CW 113.2
In constantly dealing with matter for the papers, many seem to lose their discrimination. May the Lord not only anoint your eyes that they may see, but pour into your heart the holy oil that from the two olive trees flows through the two golden pipes into the golden bowl which feeds the lamp for the sanctuary. “And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.” Unless we are wide awake, we are not able to discern spiritual things. We lose the sense of the power of the truth, and handle sacred things as we handle the common things. The result is weakness and uncertainty, and we are not safe counselors or guides. Wake up, brethren; for Christ's sake, wake up.—Letter 89, 1899. CW 113.3Read in context »
“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper;
And every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment
thou shalt condemn.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
And their righteousness is of Me, saith the Lord.” PK 725.1
Clad in the armor of Christ's righteousness, the church is to enter upon her final conflict. “Fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners” (Song of Solomon 6:10), she is to go forth into all the world, conquering and to conquer. PK 725.2Read in context »