We have here instructions given to those who were to preach the gospel to the nations what to preach, or to those who had themselves received the gospel what account to give of it to their neighbours, what to say among the heathen; and it is an illustrious prophecy of the setting up of the kingdom of Christ upon the ruins of the devil’s kingdom, which began immediately after his ascension and will continue in the doing till the mystery of God be finished.
I. Let it be told that the Lord reigns, the Lord Christ reigns, that King whom God determined to set upon his holy hill of Zion. See how this was first said among the heathen by Peter, Acts 10:42. Some of the ancients added a gloss to this, which by degrees crept into the text, The Lord reigneth from the tree (so Justin Martyr, Austin, and others, quote it), meaning the cross, when he had this title written over him, The King of the Jews. It was because he became obedient to death, even the death of the cross, that God exalted him, and gave him a name above every name, a throne above every throne. Some of the heathen came betimes to enquire after him that was born King of the Jews, Matt. 2:2. Now let them know that he has come and his kingdom is set up.
II. Let it be told that Christ’s government will be the world’s happy settlement. The world also shall be established, that it shall not be moved. The natural world shall be established. The standing of the world, and its stability, are owing to the mediation of Christ. Sin had given it a shock, and still threatens it; but Christ, as Redeemer, upholds all things, and preserves the course of nature. The world of mankind shall be established, shall be preserved, till all that belong to the election of grace are called in, though a guilty provoking world. The Christian religion, as far as it is embraced, shall establish states and kingdoms, and preserve good order among men. The church in the world shall be established (so some), that it cannot be moved; for it is built upon a rock, and the gates of hell shall never prevail against it; it is a kingdom that cannot be shaken.
III. Let them be told that Christ’s government will be incontestably just and righteous: He shall judge the people righteously (Ps. 96:10), judge the world with righteousness, and with his truth, Ps. 96:13. Judging is here put for ruling; and though this may be extended to the general judgment of the world at the last day, which will be in righteousness (Acts 17:31), yet it refers more immediately to Christ’s first coming, and the setting up of his kingdom in the world by the gospel. He says himself, For judgment have I come into this world (John 9:39; 12:31), and declares that all judgment was committed to him, John 5:22, 27. His ruling and judging with righteousness and truth signify, 1. That all the laws and ordinances of his kingdom shall be consonant to the rules and principles of eternal truth and equity, that is, to the rectitude and purity of the divine nature and will. 2. That all his administrations of government shall be just and faithful, and according to what he has said. 3. That he shall rule in the hearts and consciences of men by the commanding power of truth and the Spirit of righteousness and sanctification. When Pilate asked our Saviour, Art thou a king? he answered, For this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth (John 18:37); for he rules by truth, commands men’s wills by informing their judgments aright.
IV. Let them be told that his coming draws nigh, that this King, this Judge, standeth before the door; for he cometh, for he cometh. Enoch, the seventh from Adam, said so. Behold, the Lord cometh, Jude 1:14. Between this and his first coming the revolutions of many ages intervened, and yet he came at the set time, and so sure will his second coming be; though it is now long since it was said, Behold, he comes in the clouds (Rev. 1:7) and he has not yet come. See 2 Pet. 3:4
V. Let them be called upon to rejoice in this honour that is put upon the Messiah, and this great trust that is to be lodged in his hand (Ps. 96:11, 12): Let heaven and earth rejoice, the sea, the field, and all the trees of the wood. The dialect here is poetical; the meaning is, 1. That the days of the Messiah will be joyful days, and, as far as his grace and government are submitted to, will bring joy along with them. We have reason to give that place, that soul, joy into which Christ is admitted. See an instance of both, Acts 8:4-25, 26-40 When Samaria received the gospel there was great joy in that city (Acts 8:8), and, when the eunuch was baptized, he went on his way rejoicing, Acts 8:39. 2. That it is the duty of every one of us to bid Christ and his kingdom welcome; for, though he comes conquering and to conquer, yet he comes peaceably. Hosanna, Blessed is he that cometh; and again, Hosanna, Blessed be the kingdom of our father David (Mark 11:9, 10); not only let the daughter of Zion rejoice that her King comes (Zech. 9:9), but let all rejoice. 3. That the whole creation will have reason to rejoice in the setting up of Christ’s kingdom, even the sea and the field; for, as by the sin of the first Adam the whole creation was made subject to vanity, so by the grace of the second Adam it shall, some way or other, first or last, be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God, Rom. 8:20, 21. 4. That there will, in the first place, be joy in heaven, joy in the presence of the angels of God; for, when the First-begotten was brought into the world, they sang their anthems to his praise, Luke 2:14. 5. That God will graciously accept the holy joy and praises of all the hearty well-wishers to the kingdom of Christ, be their capacity ever so mean. The sea can but roar, and how the trees of the wood can show that they rejoice I know not; but he that searches the heart knows what is the mind of the Spirit, and understands the language, the broken language, of the weakest.