Timely Greetings Volume 1, No. 39
THE CHILDREN OF THE BARREN MORE THAN THE CHILDREN OF THE BEARING
TEXT OF ADDRESS BY V.T. HOUTEFF,
MINISTER OF DAVIDIAN 7TH-DAY ADVENTISTS
SABBATH, MAY 3, 1947
MT. CARMEL CHAPEL
TEXT FOR PRAYER
I shall read from "The Mount of Blessing," on page 201, beginning with the first paragraph.
"'The way of transgressors is hard,' but wisdom's ways 'are ways of pleasantness, and all her
paths are peace.' Every act of obedience to Christ, every act of self-denial for His sake, every trial
well endured, every victory gained over temptation, is a step in the march to the glory of final
victory. If we take Christ for our guide, He will lead us safely....
"The road may be rough, and the ascent steep; there may be pitfalls upon the right hand and
upon the left; we may have to endure toil in our journey; when weary, when longing for rest, we
may have to toil on; when faint, we may have to fight; when discouraged, we must still hope; but
with Christ as our guide, we shall not fail of reaching the desired haven at last...."
According to the reading we ought to pray for wisdom and for determination to walk in the
ways of the Lord. Only His ways are pleasantness and peace. When we must deny ourselves of
something, or when we must endure a trial to gain a victory over temptation, we are to feel that
these are steps toward final victory. And should see that to live the life of sin is, as it were, to live
down in the gully, down where we naturally find ourselves from birth up. To get to live on the
mountain top (the Kingdom) one must, as it were, climb the steep and rough mountain road. To
climb the road may seem hard, but after the last step is made and the peak of the mountain
reached, there is joy and comfort, confidence and victory which no language can describe.
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THE CHILDREN OF THE BARREN MORE THAN THE CHILDREN OF THE BEARING
Before we begin our study verse by verse of Isaiah fifty four, we shall read verse one.
Isa. 54:1 -- "Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou
that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the
married wife, saith the Lord."
Two women are here brought to view: One is barren, and the other is not. The barren woman is
encouraged to break forth into singing, for she is promised to have many more children than the
one who is having children. To learn who these women are, let us turn to the fourth chapter of
"For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a
freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the
freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the
one from the Mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar." Gal. 4:22-24.
The Apostle Paul reminds us that Abraham had two wives and two sons. We all know the
story, that when
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God called Abraham to depart from his country and to go to an unknown land, God promised to
give him a son. Something like twenty-five years passed by and still the arrival of a son was not in
sight. Sarah was then about ninety years old (Gen. 17:17). During those years of Abraham's and
Sarah's waiting for a son, Hagar became Abraham's wife and through her Ishmael was born.
Sarah, therefore, is the desolate woman (put aside), and Hagar is the one who has an husband.
Accordingly Isaiah 54:1 is allegorically speaking of these two women and their children. As to
what the allegory is about, the Apostle explains:--
"For this Agar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in
bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all."
Gal. 4:25, 26.
Agar symbolizes Jerusalem, the city of the Jews, the born after the flesh, whereas Sarah
symbolizes Jerusalem that is to come, the city of the "born again," the children of the promise.
"For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest
not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. Now we,
brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh
persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what saith the
scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir
with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of
the free." Gal. 4:27-31.
Inspiration makes clear that allegorically Hagar
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and her son, Ishmael, represent the church in the Old Testament period, and that Sarah and her
son, Isaac, represent the church in the New Testament period. The membership of the Old
Testament church was indeed of the flesh, for it was made up of whosoever was born from the
stock of Jacob; but the members of the New Testament church, especially the ones here projected,
are persons who have by the Spirit of Truth been converted to Christ. And as it was impossible
for Isaac to have been born by the will of the flesh, just so impossible it is for these children of the
Spirit of Truth to be born by the will of men.
God's reason for the delay in fulfilling His promise to Sarah, therefore, is very obvious: He was
writing both history and prophecy by the life of Abraham's family. He caused Ishmael's birth by
delaying the birth of Isaac. Ishmael, therefore, the type of the Hebrews, the children after the
flesh, preceded Isaac, the type of the Christians, the children of the promise.
Our greatest interest, however, is to know the time in which Isaiah 54 finds its entire fulfillment
and the generation to which its allegorical prophecy especially applies, to know whether it was
written especially for the benefit of the early Christian church, for the church in the Middle Ages,
or for the church in our time. Since none of the New Testament writers comment except on the
first verse of Isaiah 54, obviously the chapter was not written especially for the people at that
time. Moreover, verse fourteen further proves the time to which the prophecy applies.
"In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not
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and from terror; for it shall not come near thee." Isa. 54:14.
The promise to this later section of the Christian church is that she shall be far from oppression
(be not ruled by another people); that terror will not come near her; and that she will have no
need to fear. In view of the fact that the church heretofore has never been free from any of these,
logic rules that she is yet to realize these promises. Hence, the generation to which this chapter is
addressed, the church that is to receive these promises is not in the past, but in the future. And
the fact that Inspiration now for the first time unseals these long concealed promises, and now
brings them to attention, makes them "meat in due season," the truth is obvious: The church, after
this announcement has done its work, is soon to merge into this glorious period of time.
Furthermore, verse fifteen says:
"Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by Me: whosoever shall gather together
against thee shall fall for thy sake." Isa. 54:15.
Here she is warned that her enemies will gather together against her, but not by the Lord. They
will, therefore, not prosper, but will fall for her sake. Her enemies will never again be able to
carry any of her members into captivity, not into prison, or in flames of fire, nor into dens of
beasts -- she is never again to see the Assyrian or the Chaldeans prosper against her; neither is she
any more to suffer the persecutions by the Jews and by the Romans. All of these are now in the
past and their reoccurrence will have no effect on her.
"Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an
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for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy. No weapon that is formed against thee
shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This
is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of Me, saith the Lord." Isa.
So far, the weapons that were formed against the church have prospered, but the church here in
prophecy is to be protected. And being completely in God's hand, everyone that rises against her
in judgment she will condemn by Truth and righteousness. Our existence and success in the work
of God, therefore, is no longer a mystery: Prophecy plainly points out that many are rising against
us, but none have and none will ever prosper. God Who created the smith and the waster to
destroy, is just as well able to create peace and security. The Spirit of Prophecy reiterates thus:
"As the saints left the cities and villages, they were pursued by the wicked, who sought to slay
them. But the swords that were raised to kill God's people broke and fell as powerless as a straw.
Angels of God shielded the saints. As they cried day and night for deliverance, their cry came up
before the Lord." -- "Early Writings," pp. 284, 285.
"...But if His people remain separate and distinct from the world, as a nation that do
righteousness, God will be their defense, and no weapons formed against them shall prosper." --
"Testimonies," Vol. 5, pg. 601.
The lesson is clear: The church is emerging from one period and merging into another. She is at
the dawn of a new day. Her glory is now to be manifested,
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her great work finished, and all her children (a great multitude) saved. Rather than her enemies
triumphing over her, she is to triumph over them.
Since the church, as a whole, is here represented by both mother and children, we should know
what part of the church is represented by the mother and what part by the children.
According to verse seventeen, the chapter concludes that "the servants of the Lord," those who
bring forth converts, constitute the mother, and their converts, the laity, constitute the children.
What is meant by her travailing in birth? -- For the answer let us turn to Galatians 4:19: "My
little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you...." Those for whom
the Apostle Paul was laboring to bring the Lord to their knowledge, he says he was travailing in
birth for them until Christ be formed in them, until they be fully converted to Him -- be born
Now that we understand the allegory of these two women, and of their children, also the time
for which Isaiah 54 was written, we shall study the chapter briefly verse by verse in all its details
as far as God permits.
Isa. 54:2, 3 -- "Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine
habitations; spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes; for thou shalt break forth on
the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities
to be inhabited."
All these terms -- enlarge, stretch, spare not, lengthen, and strengthen -- mean to do everything
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to amply meet the situation, to make accommodations for a larger number of converts, to do
everything possible now so that when you break on the right and on the left, when the multitude
of converts begin to pour in, you be not confused and unable to accommodate. Do not disappoint
the people. And, moreover, assures the Lord: "Thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the
desolate cities to be inhabited." The prophecy, therefore, brings us to the days of restitution of all
things (Matt. 17:11).
Isa. 54:4 -- "Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt
not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the
reproach of thy widowhood any more."
Yes, she is reassured that she need no longer fear, need not be thrown into disorder and
confusion any more, that she shall forget her reproach and widowhood (God's departing from
Isa. 54:5 -- "For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is His name; and thy Redeemer the
Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall He be called."
Our enemies may say anything they wish, but God Himself testifies that He is our God, the God
that made us, the Redeemer, the God of the whole earth.
Isa. 54:6, 7 -- "For the Lord hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife
of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God. For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but
with great mercies will I gather thee."
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The statement, "for a small moment have I forsaken thee," being set forth in contrast to the
statement, "but with great mercies will I gather thee," shows that God's forsaking her is her
dispersion among the Gentiles, and that her gathering is her returning to the homeland, her
inhabiting the desolate cities.
Isa. 54:8, 9 -- "In a little wrath I hid My face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting
kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer. For this is as the waters of
Noah unto Me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so
have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee."
That which she has gone through she will go through no more, -- as sure a promise as the
promise to Noah: "I do set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between
Me and the earth." Gen. 9:13.
Isa. 54:10, 11 -- "For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but My kindness shall
not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of My peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath
mercy on thee. O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy
stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires."
What else could her "stones" stand for if not for her members (the children)? And what could
her foundations depict if not her Apostles (founders), those whom the Lord uses for the work of
such a revival and reformation? Such was the privilege of the twelve apostles at the beginning of
the Christian church. Recognizing this glorious fact, Inspiration wrote:
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"And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of
the Lamb." Rev. 21:14.
The statement, "I will lay thy foundations with sapphires," denotes that she is now being
founded, that the Lord is now building from the bottom up.
Isa. 54:12 -- "And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy
borders of pleasant stones."
If the literal use of windows is to give light and air, then what could this symbolism denote if
not her "seers," those who bring light and Truth to the church of God? And if literal gates are
used to keep out the undesirable elements, then in the spiritual realm they must symbolize her
watchmen, the ministry.
What a wonderful illustration! What a sanctified group of people it vividly projects! -- Stones
of fair colors, and foundations of sapphires, windows of agates, gates of carbuncles, and all her
borders of pleasant stones! every soul a jewel! "I will make a man more precious than fine gold;
even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir." Isa. 13:12.
"For Zion's sake" says the Lord, "will I not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not
rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that
burneth. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be
called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name. Thou shalt also be a crown of
glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. Thou shalt no more be
termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land
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any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the
Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married." Isa. 62:1-4.
Now it is plainly seen that Laodiceanism shall forever pass away, that God will have a church
without spot, wrinkle, or any such thing. You cannot afford to be left out of it. You must join
the advocates of this Truth if you are to become a part of this glorious movement.
Isa. 54:13-17 -- "And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of
thy children. In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for
thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee. Behold, they shall surely
gather together, but not by Me: whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy
sake. Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth
an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy. No weapon that is formed
against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt
condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of Me, saith
Evidently we are slow to be convinced that the Mighty God of Jacob is able to protect and to
keep us from all evil else He would not be trying time and again to convince us of His ability by
further explaining that as He has created the "smith" and the "waster" and has put them to work,
just so He is able to make their instruments and efforts of none effect. God's persuasion, you see,
is such that a little child can understand.
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All these promises are the heritage of the servants of the Lord. How can we afford to let them
go? Are they not cheap enough? Since faith is all they cost, let us therefore believe and they shall
be ours forevermore.
We have now learned that Abraham's two wives and two sons are an allegorical forecast of the
Old and New Testament churches; that Ishmael's arrival prefigured fleshly Israel and that Isaac's
arrival prefigured spiritual Israel, the Christians; that Ishmael persecuting Isaac was a forecast of
the Jews persecuting the Christians; that Abraham's act of disinheriting and sending Hagar and her
son away from home, foreshadowed God's act of putting away and disinheriting fleshly Israel --
that only those who are "born again," born of the Spirit, will inherit the Kingdom; that Isaac, who
came into this world only by the power of God, foreshadowed the Christian church, but especially
the soon-coming Kingdom church in which there is to be no Ishmaelite -- no person brought in by
the will of the flesh -- no "tares," no "bad fish," no "goats" -- only saints, only "such as should be
saved," and no one can be "such as should be saved" if he does not believe what the Word says, if
he does not take his stand on Truth's side. Only they that hunger for Truth and righteousness will
be filled and become His precious jewels, fit to be a part of this Lord's Jewel building. "And they
shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up My jewels; and I will spare
them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between
the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not." Mal.
3:17, 18. It is a terrible thing to disbelieve the Word of God, or to be indifferent, indecisive, and
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