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The Deceptions of God
I. There are times when we are ready to say that God deceives us. Think of the ideals of our childhood. It is one of the sweet illusions of the child that father or mother has neither fault nor flaw.
1. Think again of the deceptions of the senses. If there is one thing that seems above dispute, it is that this earth of ours is fixed and firm.
2. Think once again of how God fulfils His promises. One thing certain is that when Abraham was called from Ur, he was promised the land of Canaan for his own. The strange thing is that to his dying hour Abraham did not own one rood of Palestine. It is a signal tribute to the splendour of Abraham's faith that not in his darkest hour did he doubt God.
3. Think once again of how life deceives us. It is when men compare all that the years have brought with the glad and golden promise of the morning. It is then that they are tempted, not in bitterness, but in the melancholy which Jeremiah knew so well, to cry, 'O Lord, if this be life, Thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived'.
4. Then think for a moment of the Christian calling: 'Come unto Me, and I will give you rest'. And we come, for we are weary and it is rest we want, and immediately we are summoned out to war. 'Fight the good fight of faith; put on thine armour; show thyself a good soldier of Jesus Christ.'
II. There are loving purposes in this so-called deception.
1. Sometimes this is one of the ways of God for strengthening and educating character. He leaves us, not because He is false, nor because He has broken the promise of His help, but because, like a mother with her little child, He is teaching us to stand upon our feet.
2. It is one of God's ways to make us happy, and God is at infinite pains to make us happy. There are dreams so sweet that He will not rudely waken us; the time for that is coming by and by. Our hopes are not less ministers of happiness because they may never be fully realized.
3. It is one of God's ways to make us valiant, and to stir and rouse us to our best endeavour. I think, for example, of that first hope of Christendom that the second coming of the Lord was near at hand: Without that burning hope do you think they could ever have suffered and been strong? So does God strengthen us by what He hides not less divinely than by what He shows.
This so-called deception is one of the ways of God to lead us on. Do you think that we would ever have the heart to travel if we were not beset by stratagems of mercy? So does God lead us through the ideals of childhood, and the hopes of youth, and the letter of the promise, till at last the husk is broken in our grasp, and we find with a strange joy the hidden kernel.
G. H. Morrison, The Wings of the Morning, p. 288.
References. XX. 7-13. A. Ramsay, Studies in Jeremiah, p. 25. XX. 9. W. Sanday, Inspiration, p. 124. XXI. 12. C. Gore, Christian World Pulpit, vol. 1. 1896, p. 296.
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Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Jeremiah 20". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany