Ours is a task of witness in educated society. The first task of the educated Christian is moral leadership. Isaiah describes a man of God as “the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.” The word “rock,” no doubt, prefigures Christ, in whose shadow we find salvation, but it is descriptive of any man who fronts the storm and stands firm against the tide. Sir George Adam Smith has written one of his purple passages on this very theme. Where the desert touches an oasis, he writes, life is continually under attack from the wind-driven infiltrating sand. The rains come, and a carpet of green struggles to life on the desert’s edge, and there is a promise of fertility. But it is doomed, for the thrusting sand creeps in, and stunts and chokes the feeble aspirations of the green. But set a rock on the sand. After the brief rains, life springs up on its leeward side, and in time there comes a garden. The boulder has stayed the drift.
The shadow of a rock is life in those arid lands. Hence Isaiah’s image. A man can be a “hiding place from the wind and a covert from the tempest.” He fronts the deadly storm and stays the drift. In the shadow, weaker life can live, and pant through the harsh hours. Protected from the arid drift, useful life and faithfulness can grow. So stood Isaiah himself in the days of the great Assyrian invasion. Hezekiah was a weak man and unwise. The prophet was his rock. In the shelter, the king could strike roots of sustenance; courage could grow to fullness, and faith find place to spring.
And Hezekiah, thus nourished and protected, saved Jerusalem. There are those who fall and die in the struggle for faith and righteousness because they never see these values potent and uplifted against the storm in another and ...1
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