casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
cherubim and seraphim falling down before thee,
which wert, and art, and evermore shalt be.
Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide thee,
though the eye of sinfulness thy glory may not see,
only thou art holy; there is none beside thee,
perfect in pow’r, in love, and purity.
Holy, holy, holy! Lord God almighty!
All thy works shall praise thy name, in earth, and sky, and sea.
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty!
God in three persons, blessed trinity!
* Reginald Heber (1783-1826) was born into a wealthy, educated family. He was a bright youth, translating a Latin classic into English verse by the time he was seven, entering Oxford at seventeen. After his graduation he became rector of his father’s church in the village of Hodnet near Shrewsbury in the west of England where he remained for sixteen years. His denomination appointed him Bishop of Calcutta in 1823 and he worked tirelessly in India for three years until the weather and travel took its toll on his health and he died of a stroke.
Thirty-five years after his death, Heber’s widow found a roll of his hymns in a trunk and had them published as poems. A London publisher and his staff were studying the poems when they came across a masterpiece! Composer John Dykes was called in. Dykes, with 300 fine compositions to his credit, could compose music almost anywhere and quite rapidly. When he left the publisher’s office, he left behind a group of startled men and one of the finest hymn tunes ever composed. Reginald Heber wrote 57 hymns in his lifetime. Holy, Holy, Holy, his greatest, was written especially for his congregation in Hodnet.
Jeremiah Burroughs (1599-1646), in his book, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, explains in a lengthy passage how murmuring and complaining is contrary to our standing as Christians.
“Murmuring and discontent is exceedingly below a Christian. Oh, it is too mean and base a disorder for a Christian to give place to it. Now it is below a Christian in many respects…”
Burroughs reminds us of many ways that our Christian position makes murmuring and complaining unfitting. Here are some examples:
1. Our position as a child of God our Father – “Are you the King’s son, the son, the daughter of the King of Heaven, and yet so disquieted and troubled, and vexed at every little thing that happens? As if a King’s son were to cry out that he is undone for losing a toy? What an unworthy thing would this be! So do you cry out as if you were undone and yet you are a King’s son, you who stand in such relation to God, as to a father, you dishonor your father in this: as if either he had not wisdom, or power, or mercy enough to provide for you.” Galatians 3:26
2. Our relation to Jesus Christ – “You are espoused to Christ. What! One is married to Jesus Christ and yet is troubled and discontented?” (II Corinthians 11:2). Christ is in believers (Colossians 1:27) and yet believers murmur and complain about every trouble as if Christ was absent and unmindful of us!
3. Our relation to the Holy Spirit – “…He dwells within you and yet for all that you murmur over every little thing?” I Corinthians 6:19-20
4. Our relation to the Body of Christ – We are members of His Body; Jesus Christ is the Head of the Body, the Church. Do we complain against the head of the body to which we belong? Colossians 1:18, Ephesians 1:22-23
5. Our relation to the saints of God – As members of one another in the Body, we suffer with one another and rejoice with one another. Murmuring in our trials seems unthinkable when we consider what other saints have suffered over the centuries. Romans 12:5; I Corinthians 12:26; Ephesians 3:6
6. Our relation to the dignity that God has placed on Christians – Believers are made kings and priest to God; we are a royal priesthood; we are blessed with all heavenly blessings in Christ. What can kings and royalty have to complain about? Revelation 1:6; I Peter 2:9; Ephesians 1:3
7. Murmuring is contrary to a Christ-like spirit – The mind of Christ means that He did not complain wen He went to the cross to pay for our sins. Philippians 2:5-8
There have been many hymns written over the years based on Isaiah chapter 53. He Was Wounded For Our Transgressions is appropriate to be sung at communion services as a memorial hymn and draws our attention to the infinite sacrifice of Jesus Christ that paid the price for our sin. Take time to meditate on these words which share the great sacrifice that was made for our salvation. And don’t forget the final verse of victory, “Millions, dead, now live again, myriads follow in His train! Victorious Lord, victorious Lord, Victorious Lord and coming King!” Hallelujah!
He Was Wounded For Our Transgressions
by Thomas Obediah Chisholm *
He was wounded for our transgressions,
He bore our sins in His body on the tree;
For our guilt He gave us peace,
From our bondage gave release,
And with His stripes, and with His stripes,
And with His stripes our souls are healed.
He was numbered among transgressors,
We did esteem Him forsaken by His God;
As our sacrifice He died,
That the law be satisfied,
And all our sin, and all our sin,
And all our sin was laid on Him.
We had wandered, we all had wandered
Far from the fold of “the Shepherd of the sheep”;
But He sought us where we were,
On the mountains bleak and bare,
And bro’t us home, and bro’t us home,
And bro’t us safely home to God.
Who can number His generation?
Who shall declare all the triumphs of His Cross?
Millions, dead, now live again,
Myriads follow in His train!
Victorious Lord, victorious Lord,
Victorious Lord and coming King!
* Thomas Obediah Chisholm (1866-1960) drew inspiration from Isaiah 53:5 to pen the words to this great hymn in 1941. Chisholm was born in a log cabin in Franklin, Kentucky. He received his education in a rural schoolhouse in the area and he never got past an elementary school education. However, by the age of sixteen he was a teacher. Five years later, at the age of twenty-one, he was the associate editor of his hometown weekly newspaper, The Franklin Advocate.
In 1893, at a revival meeting in Franklin, Chisholm accepted Jesus Christ into his heart and life. Later, Chisholm moved to Louisville, Kentucky and became an editor for the Pentecostal Herald. In 1903, he became an ordained Methodist Minister and married Katherine Hambright Vandevere. Due to ill health, Chisholm was only able to serve one year in the ministry. After leaving his ministry in Scottsville, Kentucky he and his wife relocated to Winona Lake, Indiana for the open air.
After a time in Indiana, he moved to Vineland, New Jersey where he sold insurance. He suffered from health issues the rest of his life and had periods of time when he was confined to bed and unable to work. But over the years more than eight hundred of his poems were published, and a number of these were set to music and have found their way into our hymn books. Great Is Thy Faithfulness, Living for Jesus, O to be Like Thee! are a few of the hymns we sing today. His aim in writing poems and hymns was to incorporate as much Scripture as possible and to avoid flippant or sentimental themes.
Our teacher, Jeremiah Burroughs (1599-1646) has three observations about learning to be content. This first lesson focuses on an uncomfortable subject: the evils of a complaining (murmuring) spirit. We like to minimize our complaining so much that we don’t notice it when we grumble and snap at the slightest provocation. Trust me, loved ones notice our whining and are often hurt by it.
Maybe you’ve experienced something like this: a child is given a simple chore like taking out the trash or maybe putting away his toys. The rebellious child throws a tantrum, yelling, crying and stomping around the house. He finally does the chore and then gripes, complains, and sulks for an hour more while the household is thrown into turmoil. Adults do this too and it causes “much vexation of spirit” in homes, workplaces, and schools. It tarnishes our testimony for Christ if we become known as a “complainer.” Where’s our Christian contentment then?
Let’s admit with Dr. Burroughs that complaining is a major hindrance to learning Christian contentment. Until men, women, and children get victory over the habitual sin of complaining (Yes, it’s a sin!) we will have a difficult time being content. As he points out, the evil of murmuring is worse than the affliction that prompts it.
Part 1 – There is more evil in a murmuring heart than you are aware of.
“This murmuring and discontentedness of yours reveals much corruption in the soul. As contentment argues much grace, and strong grace, and beautiful grace, so murmuring argues much corruption, and strong corruption, and very vile corruptions in your heart. So is murmuring in your heart, if every little trouble and affliction makes you discontented, and makes you murmur, and even causes your spirit within you to rankle.
“So it is, just for all the world, in the souls of men: it may be that there is some affliction upon them, which I compare to a wound; now they think that the greatness of the wound is what makes their condition most miserable. Oh no, there is a fretting humour [bodily infection; bacterial contamination], and inflammation of the heart, a murmuring spirit that is within you, and that is the misery of your condition, and it must be purged out of you before you can be healed. Let God do with you what he will. Until he purges out that fretting humour, your wound will not be healed.
“A murmuring heart is a very sinful heart; so when you are troubled by a physical affliction you had need to turn your thoughts rather to be troubled for the murmuring of your heart within that is much more grievous.
“Oh, that we could but convince men and women that a murmuring spirit is a greater evil than any affliction, whatever the affliction… a murmuring spirit is the evil of the evil, and the misery of the misery.”