“Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.” — Isaiah 49:16
No doubt a part of the wonder which is concentrated in the word “Behold,” is excited by the unbelieving lamentation of the preceding sentence. Zion said, “The Lord hath forsaken me, and my God hath forgotten me.” How amazed the divine mind seems to be at this wicked unbelief! What can be more astounding than the unfounded doubts and fears of God’s favored people? The Lord’s loving word of rebuke should make us blush; he cries, “How can I have forgotten thee, when I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands? How darest thou doubt my constant remembrance, when the memorial is set upon my very flesh?” O unbelief, how strange a marvel thou art! We know not which most to wonder at, the faithfulness of God or the unbelief of his people. He keeps his promise a thousand times, and yet the next trial makes us doubt him. He never faileth; he is never a dry well; he is never as a setting sun, a passing meteor, or a melting vapor; and yet we are as continually vexed with anxieties, molested with suspicions, and disturbed with fears, as if our God were the mirage of the desert.
“Behold,” is a word intended to excite admiration. Here, indeed, we have a theme for marveling. Heaven and earth may well be astonished that rebels should obtain so great a nearness to the heart of infinite love as to be written upon the palms of his hands. “I have graven thee.” It does not say, “Thy name.” The name is there, but that is not all: “I have graven thee.” See the fullness of this! I have graven thy person, thine image, thy case, thy circumstances, thy sins, thy temptations, thy weaknesses, thy wants, thy works; I have graven thee, everything about thee, all that concerns thee; I have put thee altogether there. Wilt thou ever say again that thy God hath forsaken thee when he has graven thee upon his own palms?
“And ye shall be witnesses unto me.” — Acts 1:8
In order to learn how to discharge your duty as a witness for Christ, look at his example. He is always witnessing: by the well of Samaria, or in the Temple of Jerusalem: by the lake of Gennesaret, or on the mountain’s brow. He is witnessing night and day; his mighty prayers are as vocal to God as his daily services. He witnesses under all circumstances; Scribes and Pharisees cannot shut his mouth; even before Pilate he witnesses a good confession. He witnesses so clearly, and distinctly that there is no mistake in him. Christian, make your life a clear testimony. Be you as the brook wherein you may see every stone at the bottom–not as the muddy creek, of which you only see the surface–but clear and transparent, so that your heart’s love to God and man may be visible to all. You need not say, “I am true:” be true. Boast not of integrity, but be upright. So shall your testimony be such that men cannot help seeing it. Never, for fear of feeble man, restrain your witness. Your lips have been warmed with a coal from off the altar; let them speak as like heaven-touched lips should do. “In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand.”
Watch not the clouds, consult not the wind–in season and out of season witness for the Savior, and if it shall come to pass that for Christ’s sake and the gospel’s you shall endure suffering in any shape, shrink not, but rejoice in the honor thus conferred upon you, that you are counted worthy to suffer with your Lord; and joy also in this–that your sufferings, your losses, and persecutions shall make you a platform, from which the more vigorously and with greater power you shall witness for Christ Jesus. Study your great Exemplar, and be filled with his Spirit. Remember that you need much teaching, much upholding, much grace, and much humility, if your witnessing is to be to your Master’s glory.
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