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Isaiah 8:1-4 - Homilies By W. Clarkson

Orders of service.

We may serve God in more ways than one. There is—

I. UNWILLING SERVICE . We may conclude, from 2 Kings 16:10 , 2 Kings 16:11 , that Uriah the priest ( 2 Kings 16:2 ) had no real interest in the service of Jehovah; that he did what Isaiah requested of him with an indifferent, if not a positively reluctant mind. We may be "requisitioned" by the great King in the long warfare he is conducting. He who is rebelliously refusing to place his intelligence, his spiritual nature, his resources, at the command of the Divine Savior, need not be surprised if he finds himself constrained to serve his generation against his will. By violent excesses sinful men have made their own cause odious; by shameful cruelty, calling out heroic endurance, they have made the cause of truth most honorable in the eyes of men. God can make the wrath and the foolishness and even the stubbornness ( e . g . Pharaoh) of men to praise him.

II. UNCONSCIOUS SERVICE . The little infant was a "sign" to the prophet and the people; it rendered a service in its own way, but it must have been an entirely unconscious one. It is a painful, and should be a preserving thought, that when we do wrong we "know not what we do,"—how heinous is our offence, or how large and long will prove to be its issues. On the other hand, it is a pleasant and inspiring thought, that when we are doing right, in our several spheres and according to our various powers and opportunities, we do not know what service we are rendering. It may be one much more highly esteemed than we imagine at the time (see Matthew 25:37-40 ). It may be one that has far more valuable and lasting results than we could possibly calculate. Especially is it true of the little child, that he is unconsciously serving his kind. The infant in the family has a softening, sweetening, humanizing influence of which it knows nothing, but which is very beautiful and valuable. Ever and everywhere will it be found that "the little child shall lead them whom no other force will either draw or drive."


1. Intelligent . Whatever the exact significance of "writing with a man's pen" (verse 1), it is suggestive of the double truth that, in working for God, we should

2. Prudent . (Verse 2.) The prophet placed his prophecy beyond reach of cavil by securing two unexceptionable witnesses, one of them being the more convincing because his sympathies were on the other side; his testimony, therefore, none could challenge. Though conscious of the most complete integrity, it is often wise and well to be fortified by the evidence of others. Prudence as well as zeal has its place in the catalogue of Christian graces.

3. Faithful . It was no smooth message which the prophet was to deliver (verse 4). The very name of the child was to be a standing threat of impending evil (verse 3). Not only he who now speaks for God, but every Christian man, is bound to render this faithful service; his words and his life are to testify against the vice, the levity, the worldliness, the ungodliness, of his age; they are also to bear witness to the excellency and beauty of unselfish and loyal service.—C.

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