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Speech to the Weary (23 of 23)
The Hope of the Gospel
The Lord God hath given me the tongue of them that are taught, that should know how to sustain with words him that is weary (rv). Know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary (av). -Isaiah 50:4
The passage from which my text is taken may be regarded as Isaiah's account of the qualifications necessary for the making of a prophet, and so perhaps it may be fairly regarded as an account of the ideals he cherished for his own ministry. Indeed, it is not too much to say that he is the prophet whose training and ministry he describes in this great and glowing passage. And it is no wonder at all that, with such ideals of the prophet's office as are here set forth, Isaiah should have become the greatest prophet of pre-Christian times.
For this is what Isaiah says about the prophet in this and the preceding chapter. The function of the prophet, he says, is to be a voice for God. He is no mere rhetorician or lecturer, making the passing topics of marketplace discussion his theme; he is God's mouthpiece, making eternal things his theme, and judging all the events of everyday human life from the divine standpoint. He is not a fore-teller, in the sense that his main concern is with future events; he is a forth-teller, bringing God's will to bear upon the present and the now. That is essentially and fundamentally what the prophet is-and the modern representative of the prophet is the preacher-he is God's voice to men. The preface to his message is ever this: "Thus saith the Lord."
But if the message of the prophet is to be effective, if it is to strike home to the hearts and consciences of men, then behind the voice, as Dr. George Adam Smith says, there must be a life. Behind Isaiah's own message there was a consecrated life. From the very womb Jehovah had called him; from his earliest years he had lived the dedicated life. And that consecrated life lent power to his speech. What a man says ...
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