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THE LESSONS OF CALAMITY
‘Howl, fir tree; for the cedar is fallen.’
Such words are universally applicable whenever calamity falls on those better or more exalted than ourselves; and such calamity may serve as a warning, teaching us to expect our own share of trouble.
I. If our blessed Saviour Himself be the first cedar tree on which we gaze, the cedar tree ‘smitten of God and afflicted,’ we may set in contrast the holiness and the suffering of the Mediator.—The holiness such that ‘He did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth’; the suffering such that ‘His visage was so marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men.’ What must sin be, what is hatefulness in God’s sight, if it were punished thus fearfully in the Person of Christ? Can you think that God will deal lightly with you, though He dealt thus sternly with His well-beloved Son, and that justice will not be rigid in exacting penalties from you, when it would not relax one tittle of its demands, though its Victim were the spotless, yea, even the Divine?
II. Not only was the Captain of our salvation made perfect through suffering, but the same discipline has been employed from the first in regard of all those whom God has conducted to glory.—There has been no more observable feature of the Divine dealings, whether under the patriarchal, legal, or Christian dispensation, than this of the employment of afflictions as an instrument of purification. It has not been found that any amount of piety has secured its possessor against troubles; on the contrary, the evidence has seemed the other way—piety has appeared to expose men to additional and severe trials. The fact is indisputable, that through much tribulation we must enter the Kingdom of Heaven. And we do not see that any fact should be more startling to those who are living without God, and perhaps secretly hoping for immunity at the last. If they survey the dealings of their Maker with this earth, they cannot deny that the cedar has been bent and blighted by the hurricane, while comparatively a scene of calm has been around the fir; and from this they are bound to conclude the great fact of a judgment to come. Surely the blows which descend on the righteous should make the wicked start! As the cedar bends and shakes, the fir tree should tremble. If anything can fill the impenitent with fear it should be the observing how God deals with His own faithful servants. It is probable enough that the wicked may be disposed to congratulate themselves on their superior prosperity—to look with pity, if not with contempt, on the righteous, as ‘the God Whom they serve seems to reward them with nothing but trouble.’ That can only be through want of consideration. Let the wicked but ponder the facts of the case, and there is nothing which should so excite their dread of the future as the present misery which falls to the lot of the good.
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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Zechariah 11". Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent