H. A. C.
Christian Friend vol. 17, 1890, p. 79.
The Lord pronounces judgment on Ephraim by the hand of the Assyrian. Because "they refused the waters of Shiloah which flowed softly," He therefore allowed the mighty torrent of the world's opposition to flow and overflow all its banks. And this scourge was not to confine itself to Ephraim, for Judah too would fall under the avenging rod because of its departure from the Lord. It would be vain to associate and gird themselves, for God was with those who inflicted the chastisement. There is, however, a remnant, personified by the prophet, who were taken by Jehovah's hand and instructed by Himself, who are exhorted to "sanctify the Lord of hosts Himself," and to those He would become a sanctuary in that day of adversity.
This is analogous to our Lord's first coming. There were those, such as Simeon, Anna, Mary, Zacharias, and Elizabeth, who sanctified Jehovah, and to whom He became a sanctuary; while to the unbelieving mass of the nation He was "a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence" (1 Peter 2:8); and for the time the testimony was to be bound up and sealed among His disciples. Still the faithful remnant preserve their confidence in Jehovah; and though He has for the time hidden His face, they still look to Him.
It is with the remnant in this anomalous state of things that the Saviour identifies Himself, and whose utterances in this position are so largely given us in the Book of Psalms; and it is His perfect trust in Jehovah, though apparently forsaken, and His entering so perfectly into the sorrowful position in which the true remnant are found, which generates confidence in their hearts, and begets a seed of confiding ones ("the children whom the Lord hath given Me"), who are a sign from Jehovah of Israel's ultimate blessing. When tempted to have recourse in their affliction to evil and false aids, such as spiritualism, clairvoyancy, and the like, they are to appeal to "the law and to the testimony," as Christ did in the wilderness. The written Word is to be everything to them, exposing all that was evil and preserving all that was good; whilst for those who heeded not that Word, nothing would be left but a night of darkness, through which they should pass distressed and famished. So terrible would this experience be - no relief from around, no light from above - that they would curse both their king and their God, looking first upward (not the upturned look of faith, but of hopeless despair), and downward again to the earth; and trouble, darkness, and gloom closes the scene upon those who had deliberately refused the light of God when He came in grace and humiliation, and who when here gave timely warning that "if they would not walk in the light, darkness would come on them." How terribly will those words find accomplishment in that day of which the prophet speaks! H. A. C.