Click here to get started today!
It is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.
There is not a malady in human life, but we find its antidote in the Bible; not a wound, but we find its balm; not a spiritual sickness, but we find its remedy there. If there is no time of trouble to Jacob, what deliverance could Jacob want? Of what use is a promise of rest to the weary and heavy laden, unless a man finds himself burdened and oppressed? A promise of salvation is only of value for those who feel their need of it; and an assurance of deliverance is only precious to such as are made sensible of their danger. The language of our text relates primarily and literally to the languishing state of the Church--to the captivity of Israel’s tribes--to Jacob’s trouble on account of the desolation of their city, and the destruction of their temple; and it is not only promised to them that their trouble should be blessed to them, but also that they should be saved out of it. We notice, first, the time of Jacob’s trouble; secondly, the timely deliverance promised, “He shall be saved out of it”; and thirdly, the evidence and display of the truth and faithfulness of God towards Israel and Jacob.
1. Some may inquire why the truth and faithfulness of God should be brought forward. I do not intend to present you with a catalogue of Jacob’s troubles; they are too numerous. I will, however, mention a few.
(1) The trouble here spoken of is of a public nature. In its literal sense, it was the distress, calamity, degeneracy, of the Lord’s people--the scattering and desolation of His inheritance by captivity. I have but a sorry opinion of that man’s spirituality who is not troubled for Jacob’s, not grieved for Joseph’s, not afflicted for Zion’s low, degenerate, sunken, miry condition. It is to my mind, amid all the enjoyments of my soul in Christ, a source of daily trouble. But this degeneracy is not the worst feature in Jacob’s trouble. There is such an awful determination evinced to unite the Church and the world, to amalgamate two whom God has separated in His Word, purposes, and dispensations, with the highest and broadest wall of separation.
(2) But Jacob’s trouble is not only of a public character; it is also of a personal nature. There is spiritual trouble when a man is first awakened--when the Lord Jesus convinces him of sin, and discovers the spirituality and extent of the Divine law. This is, indeed, a time of trouble; but here is the mercy--he shall be delivered out of it. He that melted your heart will form Christ there, the hope of glory. He that gave you the knowledge of your sins will also give you the knowledge of His Son. Again, it is a time of trouble when the soul is in legal bondage. What a time of trouble, of fear, sorrow, anxiety, dread, gloom, and dismal forebodings do souls in legal bondage pass through, till the Son of God comes Himself and makes them flee. Again, it is a time of personal trouble when the soul is led into the field of battle, and foiled by the enemy. Again, it is a time of personal trouble when we are called to walk in darkness.
(3) Again, there is a time of providential trouble. It was a time of providential trouble to Joseph when sold by his brethren, falsely accused by his mistress, thrown into a dungeon by his master. It was a time of providential trouble to David, when he was hunted by Saul, betrayed by Doeg, threatened to be stoned by his own people, when Ziklag was burned, when driven into the wilderness as a fugitive, and expelled from his throne, family, and palace by his wicked son--but he shall be saved out of it. There were times and troubles to Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Paul, and all the apostles.
2. The timely deliverance. He shall be saved out of it. There is a threefold method in which God saves Jacob out of his trouble. Sometimes by causing his troubles to terminate with a word. He speaks the word, “Peace, be still,” and not s wave rolls, nor s wind breathes. Sometimes He causes their troubles to terminate by taking the sons of Jacob out of them to glory, and raising them above the reach of them for ever. Sometimes by teaching them how to trust and triumph in Himself; as David says, “Though I walk in the midst of trouble Thou wilt revive me.” What a marvellous deliverance God effected for His people in the days of bloody Mary. Then there were multitudes of godly men in prison, under sentence to the fire, and expecting the faggots every moment to be kindled, when God suddenly summoned that cruel queen into His presence. Elizabeth succeeded, and His people were rescued Remember, whether trial is domestic, personal, spiritual, temporal, or circumstantial, a Father’s wisdom directs it, a Father’s love superintends it, and a Father’s word will scatter it. And remember, whatever method God may adopt to save you out of your trouble, you, as a son of Jacob, will be enabled to say, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted.” Sometimes He delivers them by teaching them how to trust Him, and triumph in Him in the midst of troubles. Look at Gideon and his conquest over the Midianites, without a spear, a bow, dart, javelin, sword, arrow, lance, or any weapon of war--with nothing but lamps and pitchers he overcomes them. How different are the troubles of Jacob and Esau, of Isaac and Ishmael, of the Christian and the worldling, of a child and an enemy. The troubles of the worldling are not few. He is liable to all the calamities of life. He has no God to flee to, no sympathising High Priest. Place a Christless man in my circumstances, despair and anguish will be his portion; but s man that shall be saved if he has my God. Is there any relation to, any likeness to, Jacob’s sons to be found in you? Is there any distinction between you and Esau? Is there any personal, spiritual difference between you and the world? Can you give an affirmative answer to these questions? If so, the promise and oath of God are on your side; and, however deep or long your troubles may be, you shall be saved out of them. (J. Iron.)
I will correct thee in measure.
Correction in measure
I. The text gives us God’s law of correction; and remember, first of all, that it is a law. It is not a passion; it is not a surprise on the part of the Ruler Himself: it is part of His very goodness; it is quiet, solemn, inexorable, everlasting. The steadfast law of the universe is, that though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not go unpunished. This is s law, it is not a caprice; it is a necessity of goodness, and not a burst of passion. All things fight for God; they are very loyal to Him. The stars in their courses utter His testimony; the winds as they fly are vocal with His name; the earth will open her mouth with eager gladness to swallow up the populations that lift their hands against Him. Let us begin with things known, with the patent and indisputable facts of life,--and amongst those facts you will find the hell which follows broken law, the earth that casts out the sour that is not holy,--and thence proceed step by step into the holy place where the altar is, and the speaking blood, and the Father, and the strange light of eternity. There is but one true line of progress: it begins with Moses, it ends with the Lamb--Moses and the Lamb: Law and Grace; and in the last eternal song we shall find in one grand line, “Moses and the Lamb,” a marvellous harmonisation, the up-gathering and reconciliation of all things; the old ark built again; the law within, the mercy-lid covering it. Law and Mercy--Moses and the Lamb--these combine the whole purpose of the movement of the Divine mind and love.
II. So far we have looked at the stern fact of law: we now come to what is said about it. It is a law of measured correction: “I will correct thee in measure.” At this point grace gets hold of law and keeps it back. Law can never stop of itself. The law is the same at the end as at the beginning. It cannot palter, it cannot compromise, it cannot make terms; it grinds, bruises, destroys. If a sinful world were left absolutely to the operation of law, it would be crushed out of existence. But the law is under mercy. We are spared by grace, by grace we are saved. The grace was accomplished before the sinner was created. The atonement is not the device of an afterthought: the Lamb was slain from before the foundation of the world. Have we penetrated the gracious meaning of that astounding mystery? Before we can understand anything of the atonement, we must destroy the very basis and the relations of understanding, as it is too narrowly interpreted; we must think ourselves back of time, of space, of foundations, worlds, sinners. Great is the mystery of godliness--God manifest in the flesh. “Correction in measure” is God’s law now. May the time not come when the measure will be withdrawn and the correction will take its unlimited course? That will be hell, that will be destruction.
III. What is the meaning of this “measure”? It is the Gospel. There is a higher law than the law of death. The law of life is not changed: it is enlarged over all the sins and shortcomings and crimes of life. “Where sin abounds, grace doth much more abound.” Grace says, “There has been great sin: now for my enlargement.” And she enlarges her offers of mercy, and her signs of pity, and her opportunities of return, until the sin flee away--that which is great becomes little. Life is more than death, as the heaven is high above the earth. Death is only a partial law; the universal law is life, and it is for God to set that infinite law in motion. Here we enter upon the mysteries of Deity; here we touch the altar of the atonement. I will accept my chastening; I deserve it. This is my sweet, great faith--that no punishment ever overtakes me that is not a sign of God’s watchfulness, and of God’s care over my life. I have never suffered lose, social dishonour, inward compunction, without being able to say, “This is the Lord’s doing, and not man’s. The man did not know what he was doing to me; he was seized by God and set to do this work for my punishment--my education.” Let us have no whining, no complaining, no retaliation. The man that smote you was sent to smite you. Avenge yourself by deeper confession, by larger, loftier prayer. (J. Parker, D. D.)
I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the Lord.
God’s love in restoration
Most times in Scripture the voice of God is the voice of love. The sterner words come forth as of necessity, on compulsion. How wonderful in the text is the tenderness with which God speaks, what marvellous considerateness for natural human feelings, for the peculiarities, if I may so speak, of human feelings, when, in promising to renew and to restore, He speaks not only of restoration, but of restoration on the very spot, restoration with the least possible loss, the least possible wrench to natural feeling,--restoration of the city on the ruinous heap, on the old foundation; not merely life again, but life where they had lived of old, the hearth to be raised where the hearth had burned of old, and home where home had been, not one joy or sorrow of association being lost, no change of place, no severance of old ties and thoughts, but all the round of life to begin again on the very site where the days had gone round before. Great mercy would it have been, if the decayed city, with its palaces and homes, had been rebuilt at all, and on other spots, in other places not known or loved before; but as there would have been a certain sorrow in changing the place of habitation, in making a new home, and on looking back on the bare desert plots where the city had once stood, so God, promising restoration, so promises it, that there should not be one cloud upon the heart in seeing the walls again built, not one touch of sorrow and regret to mingle with the joy. And how has it been with the Church of Christ, of which these words of the prophet, in a second and a spiritual sense, doubtless speak? There is no branch of the Church, alas! which has not failed at times in its high part, which has not at times sunk down into listlessness and sloth, which has not at times had an evil activity and an unwise zeal, which has not at times wasted its high gifts, spilt them as it were like water on the ground, suffered its lamp to burn low or to glare with an unhealthy light, which has not at times grudged alms, or been faint in prayer, or worshipped the world, or dressed itself out in gorgeous robes of worldly greatness, or been self-indulgent, or lax in its view of Christian verities. And yet no branch of the Church has been without its calls and recalls, its revival, whether of its spiritual life or of its form and order, its gracious renewings, its waterings from on high with the heavenly dew, that it might again look strong, again battle with the world, again bear noble witness, again do noble deeds, again shew the power of a living faith, again unite itself with heaven by its warm and frequent prayers, again preach Christ crucified by its own crucifixion of all earthly affections, and the manifestation of all saintly ways and tempers. (Bishop Armstrong.)
Blessed promises for dying outcasts
The promises of this verse will be exceedingly sweet to those who feel their personal need of them; but those who boast that they are neither sick nor wounded will take no interest in this comfortable word.
I. Taken in connection with the verses which precede it, our text describes a class of men and women who are in a serious plight. These people suffer under two evils. They are afflicted with the distemper of evil, and also by dismal disquietude of conscience. They have broken God’s commandments, and now their own bones are broken. They have grieved their God, and their God is grieving them.
1. They are sick with sin, and that disease is one which, according to the fifth and sixth verses, brings great pain and trouble into men’s minds when they come to their senses, and know their condition before God. Sin felt and known is a terrible kill-joy: as the simoom of the desert smites the caravan with death, and as the sirocco withers every herb of the field, so does a sense of sin dry up peace, blast hope, and utterly kill delight. This disease, moreover, is not only exceedingly painful when the conscience is smarting, but it is altogether incurable, so far as any human skill is concerned. Neither body, soul, nor spirit is free from its taint. At all hours it is our curse and plague; over all places it casts its defiling influence; in all duties it injures and hinders us. To those who know this there is a music sweeter than marriage-bells in these words,--“I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds” The incurable shall be cured; the insatiable malady shall be stayed. How gracious is it on God’s part to pity a creature infected with this vile distemper! How good of Him to regard our iniquity rather as a sickness to be healed than as a crime to be punished!
2. I told you of a double mischief in this plight, and the second mischief is that this person has been wounded for his sin. His wounds are of no common sort, for we are told in the fourteenth verse that God Himself has wounded him. There is such a thing as cruel kindness, and the opposite to it is a loving cruelty, a gracious severity. When the Lord brings sin to remembrance, and makes the soul to see what an evil it has committed in transgressing against God, then the wound bleeds, and the heart breaks. The smart is sharp, but salutary. The Lord wounds that He may heal, He kills that He may make alive. His storms wreck us upon the rock of salvation, and His tempests drive us into the fair havens of lowly faith. Happy are the men who are thus made unhappy; but this for the present they know not, and therefore they need the promise, “I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the Lord.” The blows are not only on the conscience, but when God is in earnest to make men flee from their sins, He will smite them anywhere and everywhere. He takes away the delight of their eyes with a stroke; the child, the husband, the wife, or the friend is laid low; for the Lord will fill our houses with mourning sooner than leave us in carnal security.
II. A special interference. The poor creature is in desperate dolour; but the God of pitying love comes in, and I beg you to notice the result.
1. This interference is, first of all Divine. The infinite Jehovah alone can speak with that grand Ego, and say, “I will,” and again, “I will.” No human physician who was worthy of the name would speak thus. He would humbly say, “I will attempt to give you health; I will endeavour to heal your wounds”; but the Lord speaks with the positiveness of omnipotence, for He has the power to make good His words.
2. Note, that since this interference is Divine it is effectual. What can baffle the Lord? Can anything perplex infinite wisdom? Is anything difficult to almighty power? He speaks, and it is done; He commands, and it stands fast. When therefore God says, I will restore health unto thee,” health will visit the wretch who lies pining at death’s door. When He says, “I will heal thee of thy wounds,” the deep cuts and gashes are closed up at once.
3. Observe that this interposition performs a work which is most complete, for it meets the two-fold mischief. He will heal both disease and wound.
4. Notice, too, how sovereignly free this promise is. It does not say, “I will restore health unto thee if”--No, there is no “if”; and there is no mention of a fee. Here is healing for nothing. Jesus comes to give us health without money and without price, without pence or penance, without labour or merit.
5. Notice that, although it be thus free and unconditional, yet it is now a matter of covenant certainly, for God has made the promise, and He cannot turn from it. To every guilty sinner, conscious of his guilt, who will come and confess it before God, this promise is made to-day, “I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds.”
III. A singular reason. He says, not “Because you were holy,” or “Because you had good desires”; but “Because they called thee an outcast.” Who were they? Why, the mockers and blasphemers: the Lord actually transforms the venom of asps, which was under the tongues of the malicious, into a reason for His mercy. This clearly shows how God hates the very notion of merit; but it also shows that He will find a reason for mercy somewhere.
1. This roused the Lord’s pity. “Oh,” He said, “has it come to this? Have they dared to call My Beloved ‘an outcast,’ and say that no man seeketh after her! I will seek her, and heal her, and restore her, for I cannot endure such tauntings.” Now, if there is a poor sinner in the world, upon whom other sinners, who are just as bad in their heart, begin to vent their scorn, and say, “She is an outcast”; then the God of mercy seems to say, Who are you that you should talk like this? You are as vile yourselves, and yet you dare to look down upon this poor, selected one, as if she were so much worse than you. Therefore, I will save that despised one, and will have mercy upon the rejected.”
2. God’s jealousy is aroused against those who despise His people and speak ill of them. It is one thing for a father to chasten his boy; but if, when he is out in the streets, a stranger begins to kick him, his father declares that it shall not be. He arouses himself to defend his child, the same child that just now he smote so heavily. That is a fair parallel to the case of our God. He will chasten His people in measure, but the moment that their enemies call them outcasts He turns His anger another way and releases His people. Oh, how blessedly does good come out of evil! How graciously He causes the wrath of man to praise Him. He restores health to Zion, and heals her wounds because she is called an outcast.
IV. A little suitable advice. I will suppose that I have those before me who have felt their disease and their wound, and have been healed by the God of mercy. I would recommend them to attend to certain matters.
1. Take care that you live very near your Physician. I notice that patients come up from the country when they are suffering with serious complaints, and they take lodgings near a medical man who is in high esteem for such cases as theirs. Now, the Lord has healed your wound, and restored health to you, therefore abide in Him; never leave Him, nor live far away from Him, for this old disease of yours may break out on a sudden, and it will be well to have the Healer close at hand. It will be best to entertain Him constantly beneath your roof, and within your heart; for His presence is the wellspring of health to the soul.
2. I recommend you often to put yourself under His searching examination. Go to this great Physician, and ask Him to look into your hidden parts, to search you, and try you, and see what wicked way may be in you, that He may lead you in the way everlasting.
3. I recommend you from personal experience to consult with this Doctor every day. It is a wise thing before you go downstairs into the world’s tainted atmosphere to take a draught of His Elixir vitae, in the form of renewed faith in Him. I am sure at night it is an admirable thing to purge the soul of all the perilous stuff which has accumulated through the day by full confession and renewed confidence.
4. Lay bare your case before Him; conceal nothing; beg of Him to deal with you according to His knowledge of your case. Make a clean breast that Christ may make a sure cure.
5. Then I should very strongly recommend you always to obey the prescriptions of the great Healer. “Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it.” The Lord Jesus must be received as a whole, or not at all
6. Take care also to exercise great confidence in this Physician. Your cure is working wondrously when you trust in Jesus heartily. Distrust is what you have to fear; faith is your strength.
7. When you are healed, as I trust you are already, speak well of your Benefactor. When you were restored from sickness the other day, you were quite able to inform your friends as to that new medicine which acted like a charm, and you found a tongue to speak well of your doctor; and I am sure you have ability enough to declare the wonderful works of the Lord in your case. “Oh, but I could not embellish the tale!” Do not attempt to embellish it; for that would only spoil it. Tell the story as simply as possible. I think it is of Mr. Cecil that I have read the following incident. A friend came from some distance to inform him of a medicine which was to relieve him of his disorder. This friend told him all about it, and having done so, entered into conversation upon the current matters of the day. The result was that Mr. Cecil was greatly interested in the talk, and when his friend was gone, he quite forgot every ingredient of the wonderful medicine. Beware of allowing the many things to drive the one thing needful out of your friend’s mind. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small.
The Church’s encouragement in times of depression
I. A representation cf the Church in a state of great depression and affliction.
1. Consternation and dismay are evinced. There is “the voice of trembling,” and the agitation of “fear,” at the apprehension of approaching calamities. “Every man” is represented “with his hands upon his loins,” the symptoms of agonising pain; and “all faces are turned unto paleness,” the effect of extreme alarm.
2. Desolation and ruin are also intimated. Their “bruise was incurable, and their wound was grievous”; for they were “wounded” by the hand of “an enemy,--with the chastisement of a cruel one.”
II. The encouraging promise here given to the Church of her restoration to peace and prosperity.
1. Tranquillity and protection; or, “peace in all her borders” (Jeremiah 30:10).
2. The renewal of her religious privileges (Jeremiah 30:18; Jeremiah 30:22).
3. The increase of her converts (Jeremiah 30:19).
4. The joy of her members is next promised;--and this follows as a matter of course.
5. The destruction of her enemies. (R. Bond.)
And their nobles shall be of themselves, and their governor shall proceed from the midst of them.
The choice of their rulers the privilege of the people
1. The power of choosing their own rulers is a privilege which but very few of mankind have ever enjoyed. There is not one nation in all Asia and Africa which enjoys the power of electing its own rulers; and scarcely one in all Europe which enjoys this privilege in its full extent.
2. The power of choosing their own rulers is a privilege which all nations who are destitute of it wish to enjoy.
3. It must be a great privilege to any people, to have the power of choosing their best men to rule over them. Rulers who understand the genius and disposition of their people, who are acquainted with their laws and constitutions, who have a comprehensive view of their various interests and connections, and who are men of tried integrity, are well qualified to fill every department of government. No people can desire better rulers than these; and such as these, the power of election gives them the best opportunity of appointing to office.
4. It is a great privilege for a people to have a power of choosing their own rulers, because good rulers are a very great blessing. They are the guardians of all that a people hold most dear and sacred; and so can do them greater service, and more essentially promote their temporal good, than any other men in any other public or private stations of life.
1. No nation which chooses its own rulers can be enslaved without its own consent. The privilege of election is the grand palladium of civil liberty.
2. If a people who choose their own rulers have not good rulers, it must be owing to their own fault. If they choose their best men, there can be no doubt but their rulers will be good.
3. A people who choose their own rulers, cannot reasonably expect to have better rulers than themselves
4. This subject directs us where to look for the origin of the political distresses and embarrassments in which we have been, and still are, involved. They have originated from the abuse of the power of election.
5. This subject suggests to us the best, and perhaps the only possible way of alleviating present, and of preventing future calamities. The way is, wisely and faithfully to improve our important privilege of election, and commit the direction of our national concerns to greater and better men. (N. Emmons, D. D.)
The blessing of freedom
Our subject is the blessing of freedom; the advantages of that political condition in which we are placed. There are various causes in operation which tend to lesson in us the due sense of these advantages. Extravagance of praise; asserting too much with regard to any principle; overdrawn statements of its nature, and perpetual boasting of its effects, are likely in all cases, sooner or later, to bring about a reaction. The abuses of the principle of liberty also; the out-breakings of popular violence, mobs, and tumults, prostrating the law under foot; and the tyranny, moreover, of legal majorities; and, withal, the bitter animosities of party strife, and the consequent incessant fluctuations of public policy, constantly deranging the business of the country; all these things are leading some to say, but with more rashness than wisdom, “I must think, that even political oppression and injustice, which should make all strong, and firm, and permanent, would be better than that state of things in which we live.” Add to all this, that the blessings which are common, like the air we breathe and the light of day--blessings which are invested with the familiar livery of our earliest and most constant experience--are apt to pass by us unregarded; while the evils of life, calamities and concussions of the elements, shipwrecks, and storms, and earthquakes, rise into portentous and heart-thrilling significance; and we see another and final reason why the advantages of our political condition are liable to be undervalued. The first step which I shall take in defending the ground which we as a nation have taken, win be carefully to define it. What is the principle of a democratic or representative government? It is, that no restraints, disabilities, or penalties shall be laid upon any person, and that no immunities, privileges, or charters shall be conferred on any person, or any class of persons, but such as tend to promote the general welfare. This exception, be it remembered, is an essential part of our theory. Our principle is not, as I conceive, that no privileges shall be granted to one person more than to another. If bank charters, for instance, can be proved to be advantageous to the community, our principle must allow them. It is upon the same principle that we grant acts of incorporation to the governors of colleges, academies, and hospitals, and to many other benevolent and literary societies: it is upon the ground that they benefit the public. And what is government itself, but a corporation possessing and exercising certain exclusive powers for the general weal? Again, I maintain that our democratic principle is not that the people are always right. It is this rather: that although the people may sometimes be wrong, yet that they are not so likely to be wrong, and to do wrong, as irresponsible, hereditary magistrates and legislators; that it is safer to trust the many with the keeping of their own interests, than it is to trust the few to keep those interests for them. Let me now proceed to speak of liberty as a blessing, and the highest blessing that can appertain to the condition of a people.
1. I value our political constitution because it is the only system that accords with the truth of things, the only system that recognises the great claims and inalienable rights of humanity.
2. I value our liberty, and deem it a just cause of thankfulness to Heaven, because it fosters and develops all the intellectual and moral powers of the country.
3. I value political liberty because of that which a free and unfettered energy obtains, it gives the freest and amplest use. What is the effect, nay, what is the design of a despotic Government, but to deprive the people of the largest amount that it can, or dare, of the proceeds of their honest industry and laudable enterprise? Under its grossest forms, it levies direct contributions; in its more plausible administration it levies taxes; but in either case its end is the same--to feed and batten a few at the expense of the many. Let me not be told, that differences in the form of government are mere matters of speculation; that they have very little to do with our private welfare; that a man may be as happy under one form as another. I think it was on occasion of our revolution that Dr. Johnson put forth some such oracle as this; but it is not true; it may pass for good-nature, or for smooth philosophy, if anyone pleases so to call it, but it is not true. What more obvious interest of human life is there, than that a man’s labour shall produce for him the greatest possible amount of comfort; that he should enjoy, as far as it is compatible with the support of civil order, the proceeds of his toil? Labour, honourable and useful as it is, is not so very agreeable that a man should recklessly give it for that which is not bread. And that he emphatically does who gives it for pensions, sinecures, and monopolies, and establishments, and wars, which benefit him not at all.
4. I should not exhaust the subject, even in this most general view of it, if I did not add one further consideration in behalf of freedom; a consideration that is higher and stronger than any reason--I mean, the intrinsic desirableness of this condition to every human being. In this respect, freedom is like virtue, like happiness; we value it for its own sake. God has stamped upon our very humanity this impress of freedom; it is the unchartered prerogative of human nature. (O. Dewey, D. D.)
Who is this that engaged his heart to approach unto Me?--
Who is this?
I. The question of our text is asked to direct attention to this glorious person. “Who is this that engaged his heart to approach unto Me? saith the Lord.” The person who must draw near to God must be one of ourselves. It is clear that a fit representative for men must be himself a man. In Adam we transgressed and died to God: in another Adam must we be restored. Now, where is this man to be found? “Who is this?” If he is to come of ourselves, where is he? Not among this assemblage; nor if all the myriads that dwell on the face of the earth could be gathered together would there be found one who could undertake this enterprise,--“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Nor is it merit alone that is needed, for he that would approach unto the Lord as mediator must be prepared with strength to suffer. Who can sustain the load of human sin? Who can endure the indignation of the Lord against iniquity? Assuredly none of us could do it: the fire would consume him as stubble. Oh, for an interposer; but where can he be found? Now look at the context, and you will see that the person who must approach to God for us must be a prince-priest; for He is called “their glorious One” and” their Governor,” and yet it is said of Him, “I will cause Him to draw near,” which work of drawing near is in other places ascribed to priests, for these God had set apart for the service of His sanctuary. The person, then, must be a priest, and yet a prince. Who is He, and where is He? You know Him--the true Priest of God, not of the order of Aaron, and the King eternal, immortal, invisible, King of kings, and Lord of lords. It is He that engaged His heart to draw near to God on our behalf. The question, however, may be answered in another way, so as to bring out more clearly the matchless Person whom our hearts adore. It was necessary that He who should draw near to God should be chosen to that office by God Himself, and should be qualified for it by Divine power. “I will cause Him to draw near, and He shall approach to Me.” Now, is there any one among us all that God has ever chosen to represent our fellow-men as their mediator, acting as the head of the race, and as such entering into the immediate presence of God on his own merits? We have not, I hope, the presumption to imagine such a thing. “There is one Mediator between God and man, the Man, Jesus Christ.” Moreover, to close this description, He was not only appointed of God and qualified, but He was one who was willing to undertake the task and ready to pledge Himself to it. He voluntarily covenanted to do it, as it is written, “Lo, I come; in the volume of the Book it is written of Me, to do Thy will, O God: yea, Thy law is My delight.”
II. To excite admiration of His matchless work. If Jesus Christ is to approach to God for us, it is clear that He must come down into our condition, for He must first descend or He cannot ascend. He descended into our depths to engineer a way from the lowest to the highest, to come back from Bashan, and from the depths of the sea, leading the van of the armies of His chosen as they return unto God with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads. This lowly place being taken, behold our Lord actually approaching unto the offended Majesty on high. Though found in fashion as a man, and by reason of His becoming a curse for us, denied the presence of the Father, so that He cried in anguish, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” yet He did approach unto God: He did come near; nay, He remaineth near, able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him. Our Lord with all His heart desired to do this: He “engaged His heart” to perform it. But why this readiness, this eagerness? Love is the one reply. His heart was occupied with love to God and love to man, and He could not rest till He had restored the broken concord between these divided ones. With all the forcefulness of His Divine nature, and with all the energy of His perfect humanity, He was resolved to bring men back to God. Having thus determined that He would approach unto God on our behalf, He took all the consequences. A correct reading of the passage would be, “Who is this that hath pledged his heart or his life to approach unto Me? saith the Lord.” If you take the meaning of the word “heart” to be life, since the heart is the source of life, then we read that our Lord pledged His life, put His life in surety that He would approach unto God, the Judge of all, and bring us near to Him. When He came as the representative of sinful men--then vengeance with its sword must smite Him, and He was willing to be smitten. And now to-day, beloved, Jesus Christ rejoices to think that He has approached unto God on our behalf, and made eternal amity between God and man Let us rejoice with Him. Let us become happy in fellowship with our God.
III. To arouse your interest in the sweet results of Jesus Christ’s having approached to God for us. The first result is found in the chapter. Read that twenty-second verse. “Who is this that engaged his heart to approach unto Me? saith the Lord. And ye shall be My people, and I will be your God.” That is, because our royal High Priest approached unto God for us, therefore we who were called outcasts, we whose wound was incurable and grievous, we that were utterly ruined and undone; we, believing in this Jesus, shall in Him become the people of God. I seem to see in my spirit that old legend of Rome worked out in very deed. So saith the story: in the Roman Forum there gaped a vast chasm which threatened the destruction of the Forum, if not of Rome. The wise men declared that the gulf would never close unless the most precious thing in Rome was cast into it. See how it yawns and cracks every moment more horribly. Hasten to bring this noblest thing! For love of Rome sacrifice your best! But what, or who is this? Where is a treasure meet for sacrifice? Then Curtius, a belted knight, mounted his charger, and rightly judging that valour and love of country were the noblest treasures of Rome, he leaped into the gulf. The yawning earth closed upon a great-hearted Roman, for her hunger was appeased. Perchance it is but an idle tale: but what I have declared is truth. There gaped between God and man a dread abyss, deep as hell, wide as eternity, and only the best thing that heaven contained could fill it. That best thing was He, the peerless Son of God, the matchless, perfect man, and He came, laying aside His glory, making Himself of no reputation, and He sprang, into the gulf, which there and then closed, once for all One great result of Christ s having died is to leave us a way of access, which is freely opened to every poor, penitent sinner. Come. Are you using that way of access? Do you use it every day! Having used it, and thus having drawn near to God, do you dwell near to God! Do you abide in God? Is God the main thought of your life, the chief delight and object of your being? (C. H. Spurgeon.)
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Jeremiah 30". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 13 / Ordinary 18