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Obey My voice, and do them.
Obedience of primary import
Much is said about the demoralising effects of army life. Perhaps there is a tendency to moral decline in the army, but one thing about army life is good. It is a good thing to learn the lesson of implicit obedience to properly constituted authority. A Christian must learn this lesson. No man can be a Christian who does not obey God. And why should this be thought a difficult thing? Soldiers do not complain because they are required to obey. The hard thing about a soldier’s life is to be required to obey an unreasonable and incompetent leader. Many officers are superior to the men in the ranks only in official position. In all other respects they are inferior. But the Christian is never subjected to this sort of humiliation. He has but one Leader. The pastor is not the Master. Christians are all comrades, all brethren, all equal before one Lord. One is yore Master. What He says, we will do. Where He sends, we will go. (Christian Age.)
Then answered I, and said, So be it, O Lord.
The soul’s “Amen”
Jeremiah was naturally gentle, yielding, and pitiful for the sins and sorrows of his people. Nothing was further from his heart than to “desire the evil day.” Nothing would have given him greater pleasure than to have played the part of Isaiah in this decadent period of his people’s history. But what was possible to the great evangelic prophet in the days of Hezekiah was impossible now. In Isaiah’s case the noblest traditions of the past, the patriotic pride of his people, and the promises of God all pointed in the same direction. But for Jeremiah there was an inevitable divorce between the trend of popular feeling led by the false prophets, and his clear conviction of the Word of God. It must, indeed, have been hard to prove that the prophets were wrong, and he was right; they simply reiterated what Isaiah had said a hundred times. And yet, as he utters the terrible curses and threatenings of Divine justice, and predicts the inevitable fate of his people, he is so possessed with the sense of the Divine rectitude that his soul rises up, and though he must pronounce the doom of Israel, he is forced to answer and say, “Amen, O Lord!”
I. The soul’s affirmation.
1. In Providence. It is not possible at first to say “Amen” in tones of triumph and ecstasy. Nay, the word is often choked with sobs that cannot be stifled, and soaked with tears that cannot be repressed. And as these words are read by those who lie year after year on beds of constant pain; or by those whose earthly life is tossed upon the sea of anxiety, over which billows of care and turmoil perpetually roll--it is not improbable that they will protest as to the possibility of saying “Amen” to God’s providential dealings. In reply, let all such remember that our blessed Lord in the garden was content to put His will upon the side of God. Dare to say “Amen” to God’s providential dealings. Say it, though heart and flesh fail; say it, amid a storm of tumultuous feeling, and a rain of tears. “What thou knowest not now, thou shalt know hereafter.”
2. In revelation there are mysteries which baffle the clearest thinkers. It must be so whilst God is God. There is no fathoming line long enough, no parallax fine enough, no standard of mensuration, though the universe itself be taken as our unit, by which to measure God. But though we cannot comprehend, we may affirm the thoughts of God. That we cannot understand is due to the immaturity of our faculties. But when He who has come straight from the realms of eternal day steadfastly affirms that which He knows, and bears witness to what He has seen, we receive His witness and say reverently, “Amen, Lord!”
3. In judgment. God’s judgments on the wicked are a great deep. Did we know more of sin, of holiness, of the love of God, of the yearning pleadings of His Spirit with men, we should probably understand better how Jeremiah was able to say, “Amen, Lord!”
II. The ground of the soul’s peace. “Yea, Father!” When face to face with the mysteries of the atonement, of substitution and sacrifice, of predestination and election, of the unequal distribution of Gospel light, be sure to turn to God as the Father of light, in whom is no darkness, no shadow of unkindness, no note inconsistent with the music of perfect benevolence.
III. The triumph of the affirming soul. “Amen, Hallelujah!” Mark the addition of “Hallelujah” to the “Amen.” Here the Amen, and not often the Hallelujah; there the two--the assent and the consent; the acquiescence and the acclaim; the submission to the win of God, and the triumphant outburst of praise and adoration (Revelation 15:3, R.V.). (F. B. Meyer, B. A.)
They obeyed not.
Sins of omission
I. The great commonness of sins of omission.
1. In a certain sense all offences against the law of God come under the head of sins of omission. Every sin is a breach of the all-comprehensive law, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbour as thyself.” How multitudinous our omissions in respect to this command! Too often we have had other gods beside Him. So, too, in regard to our “neighbour.” What sins of omission daily occur in our various relationships--our neighbours, our children, our household.
2. Sins of omission are seen in all who neglect to perform the first and all-essential Gospel command: “Repent and be converted”; “Repent and be baptized”; “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.”
3. Sins of omission in religious duties. Multitudes neglect the outward worship of God. But others show religious regard; yet what omissions as to prayer; how lax in devotion are the most of us! As to the Bible: left unread! As to service: talents wrapped up in napkin! Our omissions lie upon the horizon of memory like masses of storm clouds accumulating for a horrible tempest.
II. The cause of this excessive multiplicity of sins of omission.
1. The great cause lies in our evil hearts. Absence of clean heart and right spirit is at the root: “Ye must be born again.”
2. The conscience of man is not well alive to sins of omission. While conscience will chastise men for direct acts of wrong, not awake to sins of neglect.
3. These sins are multiplied through indolence. In the face of eternity, life, death, heaven, and hell, multitudes are simply ruined because they neglect the great salvation, and are absolutely too idle to concern themselves.
4. Ignorance. With many ignorance is wilful; have Bible, conscience; yet sin against light and knowledge.
5. Men excuse themselves so readily about these sins of omission. A more convenient season is anticipated for repentance, faith, prayer.
6. Many neglect because of the prevalence of the like conduct. To omit to love and serve the Lord is the custom. But enlightened conscience warns us that custom is no excuse for sin: it will be no plea at the bar of God.
III. The sinfulness of sins of omission. They cannot be trivial, for--
1. Consider what would be the consequences if God were to omit His mercies to us for one moment! Suppose Jesus had left an omission in His plan of salvation; the whole would have failed, and humanity left without remedy or hope.
2. Reflect what an influence they would have upon an ordinary commonwealth. If one person has a right to omit his duty, another has, and all have--watchman, judge, merchant, husbandman; society soon collapse, kingdom break to pieces.
3. Think how you would judge of omissions towards yourselves. In the case of your servant, you instantly resent it. So in a soldier. Even in your child: to neglect your command is regarded as equally criminal as to commit offence.
4. Consider what God thinks of omissions. Saul was ordered to kill the Amalekites--not one to escape: he saved Agag and best of the cattle; therefore the Lord said, “I have put thee away from being king over Israel!” Ahab was commanded to kill Benhadad on account of great criminality: Ahab only captured him; therefore, “Because thou hast let this man go, thy life shall be for his life!” The man with one talent was condemned because he neglected to sue it.
IV. The result and punishment of sins of omission.
1. They will condemn us. “The King shall say, I was hungered and ye gave Me no meat,” etc. The absence of virtue rather than the presence of vice condemned them. “Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.”
2. If persevered in, they will effectually shut against us the possibilities of pardon. “He that believeth not”--is there pardon, rescue for him? No; he “is condemned already, because he hath not believed on the Son of God.” Will the mercy of God blot out sins uurepented of? Nay; sins will cling to us as the leprosy to the house of Gehazi. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
And the Lord said unto me, A conspiracy is found
A sad relapse
The prophet calls the people’s relapse a plot or conspiracy; thereby suggesting, perhaps, the secrecy with which the prohibited worships were at first revived, and the intrigues of the unfaithful nobles and priests and prophets, in order to bring about a reversal of the policy of reform.
2. The word further means a bond, which is the exact antithesis of the covenant with Jehovah, and it implies that this bond has about it a fatal strength and permanence, involving as its necessary consequence the ruin of the nation. Breaking covenant with Jehovah meant making a covenant with other gods. If you have broken faith with God in Christ, it is because you have entered into an agreement with another; it is because you have surrendered to the proposals of the tempter, and preferred his promises to the promises of God. (C. J. Ball, M. A.)
Therefore pray not thou for this people.
It is futile to pray for those who have deliberately cast off the covenant of Jehovah and made a covenant with His adversary. Prayer cannot save, nothing can save, the impenitent; and there is a state of mind, in which one’s own prayer is turned into sin; the state of mind in which a man prays, merely to appease God, and escape the fire, but without a thought of forsaking sin, without the faintest aspiration after holiness. There is a degree of guilt upon which sentence is already passed, which is “unto death,” and for which prayer is interdicted alike by the prophet of the new and of the old covenant. (C. J. Ball, M. A.)
Prophesy not in the name of the Lord, that thou die not by our hand.
Intimidating the prophet
Think of Bunyan when he is brought before the judge, and the judge says, “You! a tinker! to go about preaching! Hold your tongue, sir!” “I cannot hold my tongue,” says Bunyan. “Then I must send you back to prison unless you promise never to preach again.” “If you put me in prison till the moss grows on my eyelids, I will preach again the first moment I get out, by the help of God.” (Life of John Bunyan.)
Intimidators put to silence:--There is the story of a conversation between the burgomaster in Hamburg and holy Dr. Ducken when he first began to preach. The burgomaster said to him, “Do you see that little finger, sir? While I can move that little finger, I will put the Baptists down.” Mr. Ducken said, “With all respect to your little finger, Mr. Burgomaster, I would ask you another question. Do you see that arm?” “No, I do not see it.” “Just so,” said Mr. Ducken, “but I do; and while that great arm moves, you cannot put us down, and if it comes to a conflict between your little finger and that great arm, I know how it will end.” It was my great joy to see the burgomaster sitting in the chapel at Hamburg, among the audience that listened to my sermon at the opening of the new chapel. The little finger had willingly given up its opposition, and the great arm was made bare. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Jeremiah 11". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25