Timely Greetings Volume 1, No. 39
THE CHILDREN OF THE BARREN MORE THAN THE CHILDREN OF THE BEARING WOMAN
TEXT OF ADDRESS BY V.T. HOUTEFF,
MINISTER OF DAVIDIAN 7TH-DAY ADVENTISTS
SABBATH, MAY 3, 1947
MT. CARMEL CHAPEL
TEXT FOR PRAYER
I shall read from “The Mount of Blessing,” on page 201, beginning with the first paragraph.
“‘The way of transgressors is hard,’ but wisdom’s ways ‘are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.’ Every act of obedience to Christ, every act of self-denial for His sake, every trial well endured, every victory gained over temptation, is a step in the march to the glory of final victory. If we take Christ for our guide, He will lead us safely….
“The road may be rough, and the ascent steep; there may be pitfalls upon the right hand and upon the left; we may have to endure toil in our journey; when weary, when longing for rest, we may have to toil on; when faint, we may have to fight; when discouraged, we must still hope; but with Christ as our guide, we shall not fail of reaching the desired haven at last….”
According to the reading we ought to pray for wisdom and for determination to walk in the ways of the Lord. Only His ways are pleasantness and peace. When we must deny ourselves of something, or when we must endure a trial to gain a victory over temptation, we are to feel that these are steps toward final victory. And should see that to live the life of sin is, as it were, to live down in the gully, down where we naturally find ourselves from birth up. To get to live on the mountain top (the Kingdom) one must, as it were, climb the steep and rough mountain road. To climb the road may seem hard, but after the last step is made and the peak of the mountain reached, there is joy and comfort, confidence and victory which no language can describe.
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THE CHILDREN OF THE BARREN MORE THAN THE CHILDREN OF THE BEARING WOMAN
Before we begin our study verse by verse of Isaiah fifty four, we shall read verse one.
Isa. 54:1 — “Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord.”
Two women are here brought to view: One is barren, and the other is not. The barren woman is encouraged to break forth into singing, for she is promised to have many more children than the one who is having children. To learn who these women are, let us turn to the fourth chapter of Galatians.
“For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the Mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.” Gal. 4:22-24.
The Apostle Paul reminds us that Abraham had two wives and two sons. We all know the story, that when
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God called Abraham to depart from his country and to go to an unknown land, God promised to give him a son. Something like twenty-five years passed by and still the arrival of a son was not in sight. Sarah was then about ninety years old (Gen. 17:17). During those years of Abraham’s and Sarah’s waiting for a son, Hagar became Abraham’s wife and through her Ishmael was born. Sarah, therefore, is the desolate woman (put aside), and Hagar is the one who has an husband. Accordingly Isaiah 54:1 is allegorically speaking of these two women and their children. As to what the allegory is about, the Apostle explains:–
“For this Agar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.” Gal. 4:25, 26.
Agar symbolizes Jerusalem, the city of the Jews, the born after the flesh, whereas Sarah symbolizes Jerusalem that is to come, the city of the “born again,” the children of the promise.
“For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.” Gal. 4:27-31.
Inspiration makes clear that allegorically Hagar
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and her son, Ishmael, represent the church in the Old Testament period, and that Sarah and her son, Isaac, represent the church in the New Testament period. The membership of the Old Testament church was indeed of the flesh, for it was made up of whosoever was born from the stock of Jacob; but the members of the New Testament church, especially the ones here projected, are persons who have by the Spirit of Truth been converted to Christ. And as it was impossible for Isaac to have been born by the will of the flesh, just so impossible it is for these children of the Spirit of Truth to be born by the will of men.
God’s reason for the delay in fulfilling His promise to Sarah, therefore, is very obvious: He was writing both history and prophecy by the life of Abraham’s family. He caused Ishmael’s birth by delaying the birth of Isaac. Ishmael, therefore, the type of the Hebrews, the children after the flesh, preceded Isaac, the type of the Christians, the children of the promise.
Our greatest interest, however, is to know the time in which Isaiah 54 finds its entire fulfillment and the generation to which its allegorical prophecy especially applies, to know whether it was written especially for the benefit of the early Christian church, for the church in the Middle Ages, or for the church in our time. Since none of the New Testament writers comment except on the first verse of Isaiah 54, obviously the chapter was not written especially for the people at that time. Moreover, verse fourteen further proves the time to which the prophecy applies.
“In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear:
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and from terror; for it shall not come near thee.” Isa. 54:14.
The promise to this later section of the Christian church is that she shall be far from oppression (be not ruled by another people); that terror will not come near her; and that she will have no need to fear. In view of the fact that the church heretofore has never been free from any of these, logic rules that she is yet to realize these promises. Hence, the generation to which this chapter is addressed, the church that is to receive these promises is not in the past, but in the future. And the fact that Inspiration now for the first time unseals these long concealed promises, and now brings them to attention, makes them “meat in due season,” the truth is obvious: The church, after this announcement has done its work, is soon to merge into this glorious period of time. Furthermore, verse fifteen says:
“Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by Me: whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake.” Isa. 54:15.
Here she is warned that her enemies will gather together against her, but not by the Lord. They will, therefore, not prosper, but will fall for her sake. Her enemies will never again be able to carry any of her members into captivity, not into prison, or in flames of fire, nor into dens of beasts — she is never again to see the Assyrian or the Chaldeans prosper against her; neither is she any more to suffer the persecutions by the Jews and by the Romans. All of these are now in the past and their reoccurrence will have no effect on her.
“Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument
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for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy. No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of Me, saith the Lord.” Isa. 54:16, 17.
So far, the weapons that were formed against the church have prospered, but the church here in prophecy is to be protected. And being completely in God’s hand, everyone that rises against her in judgment she will condemn by Truth and righteousness. Our existence and success in the work of God, therefore, is no longer a mystery: Prophecy plainly points out that many are rising against us, but none have and none will ever prosper. God Who created the smith and the waster to destroy, is just as well able to create peace and security. The Spirit of Prophecy reiterates thus:
“As the saints left the cities and villages, they were pursued by the wicked, who sought to slay them. But the swords that were raised to kill God’s people broke and fell as powerless as a straw. Angels of God shielded the saints. As they cried day and night for deliverance, their cry came up before the Lord.” — “Early Writings,” pp. 284, 285.
“…But if His people remain separate and distinct from the world, as a nation that do righteousness, God will be their defense, and no weapons formed against them shall prosper.” — “Testimonies,” Vol. 5, pg. 601.
The lesson is clear: The church is emerging from one period and merging into another. She is at the dawn of a new day. Her glory is now to be manifested,
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her great work finished, and all her children (a great multitude) saved. Rather than her enemies triumphing over her, she is to triumph over them.
Since the church, as a whole, is here represented by both mother and children, we should know what part of the church is represented by the mother and what part by the children.
According to verse seventeen, the chapter concludes that “the servants of the Lord,” those who bring forth converts, constitute the mother, and their converts, the laity, constitute the children.
What is meant by her travailing in birth? — For the answer let us turn to Galatians 4:19: “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you….” Those for whom the Apostle Paul was laboring to bring the Lord to their knowledge, he says he was travailing in birth for them until Christ be formed in them, until they be fully converted to Him — be born again.
Now that we understand the allegory of these two women, and of their children, also the time for which Isaiah 54 was written, we shall study the chapter briefly verse by verse in all its details as far as God permits.
Isa. 54:2, 3 — “Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations; spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes; for thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.”
All these terms — enlarge, stretch, spare not, lengthen, and strengthen — mean to do everything possible
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to amply meet the situation, to make accommodations for a larger number of converts, to do everything possible now so that when you break on the right and on the left, when the multitude of converts begin to pour in, you be not confused and unable to accommodate. Do not disappoint the people. And, moreover, assures the Lord: “Thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.” The prophecy, therefore, brings us to the days of restitution of all things (Matt. 17:11).
Isa. 54:4 — “Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.”
Yes, she is reassured that she need no longer fear, need not be thrown into disorder and confusion any more, that she shall forget her reproach and widowhood (God’s departing from her).
Isa. 54:5 — “For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is His name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall He be called.”
Our enemies may say anything they wish, but God Himself testifies that He is our God, the God that made us, the Redeemer, the God of the whole earth.
Isa. 54:6, 7 — “For the Lord hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God. For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee.”
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The statement, “for a small moment have I forsaken thee,” being set forth in contrast to the statement, “but with great mercies will I gather thee,” shows that God’s forsaking her is her dispersion among the Gentiles, and that her gathering is her returning to the homeland, her inhabiting the desolate cities.
Isa. 54:8, 9 — “In a little wrath I hid My face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer. For this is as the waters of Noah unto Me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.”
That which she has gone through she will go through no more, — as sure a promise as the promise to Noah: “I do set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between Me and the earth.” Gen. 9:13.
Isa. 54:10, 11 — “For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but My kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of My peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee. O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.”
What else could her “stones” stand for if not for her members (the children)? And what could her foundations depict if not her Apostles (founders), those whom the Lord uses for the work of such a revival and reformation? Such was the privilege of the twelve apostles at the beginning of the Christian church. Recognizing this glorious fact, Inspiration wrote:
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“And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” Rev. 21:14.
The statement, “I will lay thy foundations with sapphires,” denotes that she is now being founded, that the Lord is now building from the bottom up.
Isa. 54:12 — “And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones.”
If the literal use of windows is to give light and air, then what could this symbolism denote if not her “seers,” those who bring light and Truth to the church of God? And if literal gates are used to keep out the undesirable elements, then in the spiritual realm they must symbolize her watchmen, the ministry.
What a wonderful illustration! What a sanctified group of people it vividly projects! — Stones of fair colors, and foundations of sapphires, windows of agates, gates of carbuncles, and all her borders of pleasant stones! every soul a jewel! “I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.” Isa. 13:12.
“For Zion’s sake” says the Lord, “will I not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name. Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land
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any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.” Isa. 62:1-4.
Now it is plainly seen that Laodiceanism shall forever pass away, that God will have a church without spot, wrinkle, or any such thing. You cannot afford to be left out of it. You must join the advocates of this Truth if you are to become a part of this glorious movement.
Isa. 54:13-17 — “And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children. In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee. Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by Me: whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake. Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy. No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of Me, saith the Lord.”
Evidently we are slow to be convinced that the Mighty God of Jacob is able to protect and to keep us from all evil else He would not be trying time and again to convince us of His ability by further explaining that as He has created the “smith” and the “waster” and has put them to work, just so He is able to make their instruments and efforts of none effect. God’s persuasion, you see, is such that a little child can understand.
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All these promises are the heritage of the servants of the Lord. How can we afford to let them go? Are they not cheap enough? Since faith is all they cost, let us therefore believe and they shall be ours forevermore.
We have now learned that Abraham’s two wives and two sons are an allegorical forecast of the Old and New Testament churches; that Ishmael’s arrival prefigured fleshly Israel and that Isaac’s arrival prefigured spiritual Israel, the Christians; that Ishmael persecuting Isaac was a forecast of the Jews persecuting the Christians; that Abraham’s act of disinheriting and sending Hagar and her son away from home, foreshadowed God’s act of putting away and disinheriting fleshly Israel — that only those who are “born again,” born of the Spirit, will inherit the Kingdom; that Isaac, who came into this world only by the power of God, foreshadowed the Christian church, but especially the soon-coming Kingdom church in which there is to be no Ishmaelite — no person brought in by the will of the flesh — no “tares,” no “bad fish,” no “goats” — only saints, only “such as should be saved,” and no one can be “such as should be saved” if he does not believe what the Word says, if he does not take his stand on Truth’s side. Only they that hunger for Truth and righteousness will be filled and become His precious jewels, fit to be a part of this Lord’s Jewel building. “And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up My jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not.” Mal. 3:17, 18. It is a terrible thing to disbelieve the Word of God, or to be indifferent, indecisive, and inactive.
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