For ye shall not go out with haste - As if driven out, or compelled to flee. You shall not go from Babylon as your fathers went from Egypt, in a rapid flight, and in a confused and tumultuous manner (see Deuteronomy 16:3). The idea here is, that they should have time to prepare themselves to go out, and to become fit to bear the vessels of the Lord. It was a fact that when they left Babylon they did it with the utmost deliberation, and had ample time to make any preparation that was necessary.
For the Lord will go before you - Yahweh will conduct you, as a general advances at the head of an army. The figure here is taken from the march of an army, and the image is that of Yahweh as the leader or head of the host in the march through the desert between Babylon and Jerusalem (see the notes at Isaiah 40:3-4).
And the God of Israel will be your rereward - Margin, ‹Gather you up.‘ The Hebrew word used here (אסף 'âsaph ) means properly to collect, to gather together, as fruits, etc. It is then applied to the act of bringing up the rear of an army; and means to be a rear-ward, or guard, agmen claudere - as collecting, and bringing together the stragglers, and defending the army in its march, from an attack in the rear. The Septuagint renders it, ‹The God of Israel is he who collects you‘ ( ὁ ἐπισυνάγων ὑμᾶς ho episunagōn humas ), that is, brings up the rear. The Chaldee, ‹The God of Israel will collect together your captivity.‘ Here the chapter should have closed, for here closes the account of the return of the exiles from Babylon. The mind of the prophet seems here to leave the captive Jews on their way to their own land, with Yahweh going at their head, and guarding the rear of the returning band, and to have passed to the contemplation of him of whose coming all these events were preliminary and introductory - the Messiah. Perhaps the rationale of this apparent transition is this.
It is undoubtedly the doctrine of the Bible that he who was revealed as the guide of his people in ancient times, and who appeared under various names, as ‹the angel of Yahweh,‘ ‹the angel of the covenant,‘ etc., was he who afterward became incarnate - the Saviour of the world. So the prophet seems to have regarded him; and here fixing his attention on the Yahweh who was thus to guide his people and be their defense, by an easy transition the mind is carried forward to the time when he would be incarnate, and would die for people. Leaving, therefore, so to speak, the contemplation of him as conducting his people across the barren wastes which separated Babylon from Judea, the mind is, by no unnatural transition, carried forward to the time when he would become a man of sorrows, and would redeem and save the world. According to this supposition, it is the same glorious Being whom Isaiah sees as the protector of his people, and almost in the same instant as the man of sorrows; and the contemplation of him as the suffering Messiah becomes so absorbing and intense, that he abruptly closes the description of him as the guide of the exiles to their own land.
He sees him as a sufferer. He sees the manner and the design of his death. He contemplates the certain result of that humiliation and death in the spread of the true religion, and in the extension of his kingdom among men. Henceforward, therefore, to the end of Isaiah, we meet with no reference, if we except in a very fcw instances, to the condition of the exiles in Babylon, or to their return to their own land. The mind of the prophet is absorbed in describing the glories of the Messiah, and the certain spread of his gospel around the globe.
In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, I beseech the people of God to depend upon the Lord for strength. Beware how you place men where God should be. We are not safe in taking men as our authority or our guide, for they will surely disappoint us. Individually, we are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, “for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” We have a high calling in Christ Jesus; we are carrying forward a vast and holy work, and God calls upon each one to uplift His standard in the sight of this world and of the universe of heaven, by the power of the Lord Jehovah, in whom is “everlasting strength.” TM 386.1
We are to be one with Christ as He is one with the Father, and the Father will love us as He loves His Son. We may have the same help that Christ had, we may have strength for every emergency; for God will be our front guard and our rearward. He will shut us in on every side, and when we are brought before rulers, before the authorities of the earth, we need not meditate beforehand of what we shall say. God will teach us in the day of our need. Now may God help us to come to the feet of Jesus and learn of Him, before we seek to become teachers of others.—The Review and Herald, February 18, 1890. TM 386.2Read in context »
When a message is presented to God's people, they should not rise up in opposition to it; they should go to the Bible, comparing it with the law and the testimony, and if it does not bear this test, it is not true. God wants our minds to expand. He desires to put His grace upon us. We may have a feast of good things every day; for God can open the whole treasure of heaven to us. We are to be one with Christ as He is one with the Father, and the Father will love us as He loves His Son. We may have the same help that Christ had, we may have strength for every emergency; for God will be our front guard and our rearward. He will shut us in on every side, and when we are brought before rulers, before the authorities of the earth, we need not meditate beforehand of what we shall say. God will teach us in the day of our need. Now may God help us to come to the feet of Jesus and learn of Him, before we seek to become teachers of others. 1SM 416.1
When God's Word is studied, comprehended, and obeyed, a bright light will be reflected to the world; new truths, received and acted upon, will bind us in strong bonds to Jesus. The Bible, and the Bible alone, is to be our creed, the sole bond of union; all who bow to this Holy Word will be in harmony. Our own views and ideas must not control our efforts. Man is fallible, but God's Word is infallible. Instead of wrangling with one another, let men exalt the Lord. Let us meet all opposition as did our Master, saying, “It is written.” Let us lift up the banner on which is inscribed, The Bible our rule of faith and discipline.—The Review and Herald, December 15, 1885. 1SM 416.2Read in context »
Let us humble our souls before God. Let us work with an eye single to His glory. Let His praise be continually on our lips, for the benefits that He bestows are daily renewed, and should be acknowledged with thanksgiving. God is longsuffering and of tender mercy. Should He deal with us according to our perversity, according to our foolish, erratic course, our changeableness, where would we be? But “he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14). Remember that no human being is of himself sufficient to stand against the wily foe. Hide in God, and be sure that the Holy Spirit is with you. You can conquer the enemy only as the Lord goes before you. TDG 258.3Read in context »
(Exodus 31:12-17.) God's Special Possession—Every soul in our world is the Lord's property, by creation and by redemption. Each individual soul is on trial for his life. Has he given to God that which belongs to Him? Has he surrendered to God all that is His as His purchased possession? All who cherish the Lord as their portion in this life will be under His control, and will receive the sign, the mark of God, which shows them to be God's special possession. Christ's righteousness will go before them, and the glory of the Lord will be their rereward. The Lord protects every human being who bears His sign. [Exodus 31:12-17 quoted.] 7BC 969.1
This recognition of God is of the highest value to every human being. All who love and serve Him are very precious in His sight. He would have them stand where they are worthy representatives of the truth as it is in Jesus (Letter 77, 1899). 7BC 969.2
Natural Traits Must Be Transformed—How few bear in mind that the tempter was once a covering cherub, a being whom God created for His own name's glory. Satan fell from his high position through self-exaltation; he misused the high capabilities with which God had so richly endowed him. He fell for the same reason that thousands are falling today, because of an ambition to be first, an unwillingness to be under restraint. The Lord would teach man the lesson that, though united in church capacity, he is not saved until the seal of God is placed upon him.... 7BC 969.3Read in context »