By Horatius Bonar
"This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord." -- Isaiah 54:17
IT is of "servants" that God is here speaking,--this is the name he gives them; "servants," yet "heirs:" for it is in connection with the "heritage" that he calls them "servants." The apostle joins together "sons" and "heirs;" here the prophet joins "servants" and "heirs." Israel gets this name,-- "servants of Jehovah;" the church gets it; apostles get it; each saint gets it. The dwellers in the old Jerusalem had it; the citizens of the New Jerusalem have it too. "His servants shall serve him." We are to serve as angels do; nay, as Jesus did; for He was the Father's servant. We are to serve the Father; and to serve the Son "the Lord Christ;" we are to serve the church; we are to serve the world; all in love; for it is to loving filial service that we are called.
But it is specially of these two things that the passage speaks: (1.) the heritage; (2.) our title to it.
I. The heritage. It is fully described in the previous part of the chapter; and in reading it we may say, "the lines have fallen unto us in pleasant places; yea we have a goodly heritage." It contains,--
(1.) Deliverance from sorrow and tempest (ver. 11). The time of these has been long; but the day of deliverance longer. It is everlasting deliverance.
(2.) Glory and beauty (ver. 11,12). All that the eye of man or the eye of God delights in, and pronounces good, in earth or heaven, shall be ours.
(3.) Knowledge (ver. 13). We shall be "taught of God;" all of us. No ignorance then, nor unbelief; only wisdom ; not the wisdom of this world, but of the world to come.
(4.) Peace (ver. 13). "Great peace;" peace like a river; peace that passeth all understanding; God's own peace; within and without; and with the certainty that no future disquietude shall ever arise. Eternal peace; in the land of peace, under the reign of the Prince of Peace.
(5.) Stability (ver. 14). We are to be stedfast and immoveable here; we shall be still more so hereafter; for our heritage is the kingdom that cannot be moved.
(6.) Security (ver. 14). No possibility of evil from any quarter; nothing but good. Security (1.) from oppression, (2.) from alarm, (3.) from enemies, (4.) from war, (5.) from accusations and evil reports.
All these things, negative and positive, go to make up the inheritance of Israel in the latter days; still more the inheritance of the saints in light, the kingdom which cannot be moved, the inheritance which is incorruptible and undefiled. It is the very heaven of heavens; glorious, and marvellous, and perfect beyond conception. Ah, surely this is what eye hath not seen nor ear heard. Because of it God is not ashamed to be called our God.
II. Our title to it. "Their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord." This righteousness avails not merely for personal acceptance, but for giving us the inheritance.
This is the tenure by which we hold it, and shall hold it forever. Thus it is secured to us,--secured by God himself; not simply made ours once, but secured to us forever. Our title, then, or tenure, is,
(1.) Divine. It "is of me, saith the Lord." He gives the heritage, and he gives also the title by which it is secured to us. Nay, he gives us a divine title; such as our father had not to Paradise; a title not of self, nor of' man, nor of earth, but of God; a title so truly divine that we may say, God himself is my title to the heritage which God has given me; for the righteousness by which it is secured to me is the righteousness of God. My title-deeds are truly divine; the purchase-money is divine; the conveyance is divine; the security is divine. One with him who bought the heritage for us, we have the same title to it that he has; for we get it through means of his righteousness. As the righteous one, He was the purchaser of the kingdom which He gives to us. His righteousness bought it.
(2.) Righteous. This is implied in the expression, "their righteousness is of me," intimating that it is by righteousness that the heritage is secured to us. This heritage is more than the mere gift of love; it is the gift of righteousness. We get it in a righteous way; we hold it in virtue of a righteous price paid for it; our security for it is more than the grace of God; it is the righteousness of God. Our pardon is a righteous pardon, so is our title a righteous title,--divinely righteous,--a title which the law recognises, and which the law will make good to us against all opposers or counter-claimants, if such there be. "If God be for us, who shall be against us?" In our title-deeds there is no flaw nor ambiguity, for they are drawn up by a righteous God, subscribed by a righteous God, and presented to us by a righteous God. Everything connected with our entrance into, and possession of, the heritage is in righteousness.
(3.) Free. Our heritage is a "purchased possession;" purchased for us by another; fully paid for by a divine equivalent; so fully paid for that there is nothing for us to pay. All is free. Canaan was God's free gift to Israel, so the inheritance is God's free gift to us. We could not pay, were it needed; and we do not need. All payment is refused. It is so precious that none save God could pay a price for it: and He has paid the price. As life is free, and salvation free, so is the heritage; absolutely and unconditionally free; free in the sense of unbought; free in the sense of undeserved; free in the sense of its being the gift of God.
(4.) Eternal. Our title, being thus divine and righteous, must be indefeasible. It must stand forever. An eternal title to an eternal inheritance,--this is what we rejoice in. Hence the inheritance itself, and all connected with it, are described in language that intimates perpetuity absolutely unending and unlimited. No second fall; no second loss of Paradise. No future tempter nor temptation. We enter to go out no more. For the church is "the blessed of the Lord," to whom it shall be said, "Come ye blessed of my Father." One with the Son of God, "partakers of Christ," "joint heirs with Christ Jesus," our tenure of the inheritance must be as sure and as everlasting as His own.
It is this heritage that God in his gospel is presenting to us. He points to it, as he pointed Israel to Canaan, and says, Yonder is the glory, trust me for it, and you shall enter in.
Israel could not enter in because of unbelief; and so it is only this that shuts the sinner out of the kingdom. We preach the kingdom, and we announce that he who receives God's testimony concerning his only-begotten Son shall obtain it freely. But the word preached does not profit, not being mixed with faith in them who hear it. God's testimony is true; it is a testimony intended specially for sinners. Shall we disregard it? Shall we treat it as worthless? Shall we make Him a liar? Shall we shut the open gate against ourselves? Shall we refuse to enter in? We that have believed do enter into rest. How free, how simple, how ready the entrance! It is God himself who stands at the open door and bids us come; beckons us in. Shall such a heritage be lost to us? Shall such a glory be despised?