There were many in the Old Testament
church, as there are many in local churches today, who were the saints of God
in name only. They were in Zion. But they were not of Zion. They were hypocrites,professing to be
what they knew they were not,the servants of God.No one knew their true
character until God, in providence, put their faith to the test. Then they
showed themselves to be "sinners in Zion" and hypocrites at heart.
When things are going well, it is
impossible to separate the precious from the vile, to distinguish wheat from
tares, sheep from goats, true believers from
hypocrites who merely profess to be believers. The gospel net takes in both bad
fish and good. And in times of peace and prosperity it is impossible to tell
one from the other. But when trying times come, when
adversity comes, when the fires of persecution burn, false brethren soon show
themselves. When the rains of providential judgment begin to fall, the
floods of earthly care rise, and the winds of persecution blow, those houses
that are built upon the sand will fall. At such times, sinners in Zion are afraid and fearfulness takes the
hypocrites by surprise.
Isaiah 33 describes a time of great
trouble in Judah. Sennacherib and the Assyrians had
invaded the land. Many nations had already fallen prey to the merciless
invaders. But the Lord God promised Judah that he would protect her (Read II Kings -34). Yet, there were many among the
chosen nation who did not believe God. They were terrified at the sight of
Sennacherib. Though they were in Israel, they were not of Israel. They professed to be saints. But they
were sinners at heart. They claimed to worship God. But they were only
hypocrites. In the time of trial the sinners and hypocrites in Zion were discovered. They showed their fear
and unbelief. Because they did not believe God, they began to flee, though none
pursued. They trembled, though no enemy was seen.
Beware of hypocrisy! Make your calling and
election sure. Do not be satisfied with being in Zion, or in the church. Give no rest to your
soul until you are in Christ. If our religion is not true, it will fail in time
of trouble. If our hope in God does not make us calm and peaceful in the hour
of trial and the night of sorrow, of what use is it?