"And a Man shall be as an hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." (Isaiah 32:2)
THIS passage contains the sum of the gospel dispensation. God made a first man, and he fell. How direful we feel is that loss to this day! But God had determined to place His people where they could have no liability to change, nor be within reach of any harm or storm. Therefore He made a second Man, Christ Jesus, and gave His people all spiritual blessings in Him.
The second Man is the Lord from heaven. His humanity is perfect; all that belongs to humanity is in Him. He can sympathize with us in all that is human. This is the reason Paul gives that we should come boldly to the throne of grace; the Man is there. (Heb. 4:15,16) Now that He is exalted, He is still man. If we are exalted, perhaps we forget those we have associated with, and will not notice them; but that is not human; it is sin. It is departing from humanity. Fellow-feeling and association are essential to humanity. Jesus Christ is still human, feels all that is human, and sympathizes with man. I do not mean with your bad tempers and mine; these are not human. I think I know something of humanity by seeing it in the Lord Jesus Christ. We have His express words: "Learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls." (Matt. 11:29) That is humanity. When we have felt His Spirit, we have been lowly at His footstool. Are you afraid of coming to Him, you are so black? You will see there a fellow Man, and hear His voice speaking to you, the sinner's Friend, saying, "Come unto Me." He is a shelter for every sinner who approaches Him. When you are brought there, you can lie down and rest under the shelter of His blood, that protects the sinner. What an association there is between rest and the laborer and the heavy-laden!
But there is this difference in Jesus Christ from any other man. His human nature has no personality, but is united with His Deity. His blood is the blood of God, or it could not take away sins. His righteousness is the righteousness of God, or it could not make another righteous. All He says and does is divine. The world is indebted to Him for health and every blessing beyond what they deserve and would have in hell. But He has greater things to give to His people. Only this righteous Man can make you righteous. To be righteous is what all His children want. Have you these desires, to be right when you pray, right when you read, to live right, and die right? That is hungering and thirsting after righteousness. Only God's righteousness can give you these right desires. You must be right, before you can think right. A crooked wheel cannot go straight. The motion does not make the wheel crooked, but it develops the crookedness the more it moves.
Jesus Christ came into the world right. With a crooked world and all that is in it, with Satan at the head against Him, He went right all through it; and at last challenged earth and hell, all who had watched for one twist in Him, to bring one sin to His charge. He could say, "Father, I have finished the work Thou gavest Me to do." (John 17:4) This could only be said by a righteous person. Then He entered at once into the holy place with His own blood, still the sinless, spotless Man. He opened the way where God allows sinners to come to Him. They may enter in His steps, by His blood. Sometimes we try to approach Deity directly; but there is no way. The flaming sword keeps every way to the Tree of Life. The Lord says,
There He meets a sinner. He does meet him there, eternally reconciled. This is the God-Man, fit for both parties, where God dwells. "As Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee; that they also may be one in Us." (John 17:21)
What a divine stamp He put upon His humanity when the man borne of four was let down through the roof before Him! They were determined to get at Him; and He saw their faith, and said to the man, "Son, thy sins be forgiven thee." The Jews cried out, "Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only? If He has forgiven your sins, and spoken peace to your heart, it is God who has done it; for none else can. He made the Jews say so; then gave them a manifest proof of His Deity: "That ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (He saith to the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. And immediately he arose." (Mark 2:3-12) This is the Man who "shall be as an hiding-place from the wind."
Now "the wind." I verily thought the storms were over when I had first found the Lord. He was mine. What! Feel His love, and feel wind or tempest! But the rest is in heaven. It is there we shall be out of the reach of all storms, through this Man, Christ Jesus. No place on earth is free from them. The wind will come. There is the wind of error against the union of the Son of God with human nature, or against your union with Him. You will feel sometimes, and Satan will say, you have more union with the bottomless pit than with Him. "Would you be so if you were one with Jesus?" Or the wind to deny the personality of the Son, as if to sweep away the ground you stand upon. The Lord says, "The rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house," that is upon the Rock. (Matt. 7:25) Wait till the tempest is over, and it is still upon the Rock. The winds are without. You are standing without, exposed to the wind and rain; and the shelter is only in this Man. He says, "I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction." (Isa. 48:10) Poor sinner, the Lord make you enter in by faith; for this Man shall be as an hiding-place from the wind.
"And a covert from the tempest." A tempest implies something more than wind only. The wind may be accompanied by rain, hail, and floods. Hail is destructive; it generally leaves a wreck behind it. If you have been in a spiritual tempest, before it came, you looked at your religion, and thought you had some degree of faith and hope. Now it appears damaged. What is damaged? You say, "My faith is damaged and destroyed. What a wreck it is, all confusion!" Not so; but there must be a renewing. The earth in its present wintry condition wants renewing for the husbandman; there is nothing there but weeds and rubbish that must be taken away or turned under. When God does this spiritually, your religion seems gone with the rubbish. Wait. There was a great deal of imaginary faith and hope and religion. The godly religion in your heart is not damaged. The grace in your soul has been protected from the storm. This Man is a shelter to that, a covert from the tempest, a covert that was made on purpose to withstand a tempest.
All the tempests that could come from men, from Satan, and from God in justice against sin, fell upon this Man. Even Satan's power was nothing to the wrath that God poured upon Him. He took all the sins of His people. His infinite mind could grasp all their sins, temptations, pains, weaknesses, foes, and afflictions,--all their desert. God laid them upon His Son; and the tempest fell with all its weight upon Him. Only a share is allowed to fall upon each of His people, just enough to taste; that they may each feelingly sympathize with Him in His sorrows, sufferings, and temptations, grieve over their sins, love Him, and admire His great salvation. What we feared and saw coming upon us never comes. What we felt we deserved never comes. That fell upon Him. We thought we should never get through this affliction; we begged God not to let it come, and it has; and the worst was restrained. It is Jesus Christ that restrains it: "Thus far shalt thou come, and no further." He is the covert from the tempest. The whole fell upon Him; and ours is restrained by His grace and power.
Look at Israel in the desert. It is said, "He spread a cloud for a covering." (Ps. 105:39) Not only a pillar of a cloud to guide them; but He made a cloud to cover them. There was no cloud there; there never is one in the desert. When the sun is up, it beats down straight upon the earth. But He made a cloud; and the sun's rays over their heads were tempered. Wherever they went, there was the cloud day by day; they should not be burned up by the heat. That cloud is the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ, which is a covering over His people's heads. Israel had the blood sprinkled on the doorposts between them and the destroyer. What did God say of it? "When I see the blood, I will pass over you." (Exo. 12:13) He looks at it, and it protects His people, and covers them from the storm of wrath they deserve; because it fell upon Him.
Perhaps we come into a dead calm for a little while, and think, "Now I shall rest; nothing is stirring." That is where sometimes a storm rises suddenly and fearfully; but then probably the Lord lets us feel His arms are underneath. He gives us to feel He knows our troubles; our hairs are all numbered. He drops a word: "Fear not; I am thine;" and all besides is nothing to it. The soul can look up and say, "The Lord is on my side; whom shall I fear?"
And He shall be "as rivers of water in a dry place." This world is a dry place to a child of God. No water can be found there; for there is none. You may try this and that. There is none in the best friends; they may wish you well, but cannot give you the well they wish. No water can come out of yourself; nor is in all the world. What then? You cannot live in a dry place. If you built a house out of the reach of water, you could not stay in it. We could not live in this world without the Lord. He will be to us as rivers of water in this dry place. One comfortable word from Him, how contented it makes the soul! It can stay here now, in the desert, and rest satisfied, soul-satisfied. "All is right, whatever my troubles; whether from man, from providence, from self, or Satan, or the direct hand of God, all is right. I am right now, and shall end right." We may sit down here by the streams that flow from His Person, love, and work, from the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ. This is an inexhaustible subject. Here there is something durable; that is the prominent idea. Here you may abide, and make your habitation.
There is a sufficiency of water in rivers. The Lord has promised to satiate the weary soul, and replenish every sorrowful soul. He will be a place of broad rivers and streams to him that thirsts. Though before he could not see where he was nor what he was, waters break out in the wilderness and streams in the desert, and strengthen him to speak, when his tongue was dried. They are sufficient to cleanse the Lord's people from all their idols. They go up from the washing and feel, "Good God, I'm clean." None can have to do with the world, trade, etc, without becoming unclean; it is impossible. If a man thinks so, he does not see the inside of the cup and the platter. In the type, if one touched a dead bone, he was defiled. The contamination is felt; something is left behind. One hasty word may have escaped; and no one knows what grief is caused by that one word more than all the rest. It defiles the conscience, until it is cleansed by this water. I have thought if it were not for this water, I should go out of my mind. But this Man will be rivers of water in the dry place we have to pass through.
"And the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." Jesus Christ will shelter the traveler all his journey. As he goes on, the sun is hot, and the way is rough. His faith feels weaker and weaker; his strength less and less; the further he goes, the less able he is. He says, "I think I must give up." I know what a long walk is, spiritually, in the heat. How weary he becomes! How sweet is rest to the weary! He comes under the protection of the Man, Christ Jesus, and as he comes there, the shadow of the Lord cools the broiling heat, and he may sit down there and rest. Now his judgment is calm and cool; he has time to think, and sees where his safety is.
God's people tread in a path none else can; they have to go alone. Transgressors fall therein; they can never tread in those steps under the heat. Their profession would come to an end; they could not bear what the righteous do. Poor child of God, whatever are your peculiar circumstances, your peculiar trials, Jesus Christ will be a shelter to you, and bear the burden. You are not alone in the heat of the trial. He knows it, knows your need, and how weary you feel; and He is your protection all the way. We have His Word: "And a Man shall be as an hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land."