Our Plight:  Who Will May Know It!

                                                               Jeremiah 1:16-17

                                                               Lamentations 1:12 

                                                               Matthew 11:20-24

                                                             II Corinthians 5:1-11

                                                                  Psalm 81:8-16

                                                                 Isaiah 48:16-19

                                                               September 3, 2023



                                    The Observation of Suffering (Lamentations 1:12)


12 Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? and see if there be any sorrow like

unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted

me in the day of His fierce anger.


Prophetic certitude:  when something is projected in the future

                                     is spoken of as in the past.


Jeremiah’s lament over the city he had done his best to save.


Lamentation:  weeping, wailing, crying, sobbing,moaning


Plight we are in: 


21 With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the

flattering of her lips she forced him.

22 He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or

as a fool to the correction of the stocks;

23 Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare,

and knoweth not that it is for his life.



you, all ye that pass by?” So speaks Jerusalem, personified under the guise

of the weeping widow, with the tears on her cheeks and the beauty faded,

deprived of all her pleasant things, and left in solitude so far as her familiar

supports and consolations are concerned. She sits, as it were, by the

highway, and the crowd passes on, taking no notice. Why, indeed, should it

take notice? The spectacle of a conquered nation and a pillaged capital was

not a rare thing. The nations asked to sympathize had been through the

same experience themselves. We are all prompted to say, “Surely no

trouble has been like our trouble;” and yet, as our observation of human

affairs enlarges, we see how human nature, in every individual instance, is

made to know its extraordinary capacity for suffering. Nevertheless, the

piteous appeal here is not a baseless one. The trouble of the children of

Israel had not come upon them after the manner of a common nation. They

were peculiar in constitution, privileges, and history. If only there had been

eyes to see it, there was something very significant to demand attention.

But the thing to be seen did not lie on the surface, nor was it to be

discovered save by faculties specially illuminated. The downfall and the

sufferings of Israel, as they are to be seen both in the Scriptures and

subsequent history, belong to the things that are to be spiritually discerned.

Therefore this complaint., while superficially it may be called unreasonable,

is yet reasonable enough, if we only consider the position and mission of

Israel, and the work which, even in her degradation, she has done for the




VISITATIONS ON THE DISOBEDIENT. This is the critical element in

the appeal that a widow like Jerusalem makes to the passers by: “Look at me

as the greatest illustration of the certainty with which Jehovah punishes

those who rebel against Him.” We must, of course, beware of the

conclusion that suffering always means punishment; but where we can see

that it is punishment we must mark it as such, so that we ourselves may be

admonished and may also more effectually admonish others. Here was a

nation that in obedience might have rested confidently and happily in

Jehovah’s promise. The power behind that promise was more than all the

armies of the great empires round about. But when the power was

withdrawn it meant not merely suffering; the withdrawing had in it the

nature of a judicial, solemn sentence from JEHOVAH HIMSELF!




                                                (Jeremiah  11:16-17)



16  The Lord called thy name, A green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit,

with the noise of a great tumult He hath kindled fire upon it, and the brances

of it are broken. 

17 For the Lord of hosts, that planted thee, hath pronounced evil against

thee, for the evil of the house of Israel and of the house of Judah, which they have

done against themselves to provoke me to anger in offering incense unto Baal.



                                                The First Last


Many, indeed, are the instances in which those who were placed first in

opportunity have been found last in attainment. Privilege, favor, education,

help of all kinds, have been at their disposal, and yet the results which had

been designed for them, and which so surely should have been theirs, they

have missed (compare Matthew 11:20-24)


20 Then began He to upbraid the cities wherein most of His mighty

works were done, because they repented not:

21 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the

mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and

Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.

22 But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at

the day of judgment, than for you.

23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be

brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been

done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained

until this day.

24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of

Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.


For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much is required.

                                                                            (Luke 12:48)



1 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were

dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with

hands, eternal in the heavens.

2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our

house which is from heaven:

3 If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.

4 For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for

that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might

be swallowed up of life.

5 Now He that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who

also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.

6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at

home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:

7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the

body, and to be present with the Lord.

9 Wherefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be

accepted of Him.

10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that

every one may receive the things done in his body, according to

that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we

are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in

your consciences.     (II Corinthians 5:1-11)


 “Woe unto thee Chorazin!...  Bethsaida!.......Capernaum.....!  Matthew 11:20-24).

And in ordinary life, as well as in the records of the Bible, may we learn how

frequently, not the strong and mighty, but “the lame take the prey.”  (Isaiah 33:23)

The first are last and the last first. Now, of such sad and shameful failures these verses

supply a notable instance. Under the imagery of a green olive tree, fair and of goodly

fruit, the prophet pictures the condition and prospects of the people of God when He

first planted them. No similitude could more strikingly convey to the mind of the

inhabitant of Judah and Jerusalem the idea of happy and sure prosperity. But, next,

the prophet portrays a far different scene — that same tree, but black and charred,

its trunk riven, its fruit and foliage all gone, and its branches broken down; for

the thunderbolt and the scathing lightning, the wild tempest and the fierce

wind, have all done their deadly work upon it, and now it stands a mere

blackened stump, instead of the beauteous and fruitful tree it once was.

From that height of favor to that depth of disaster were Judah and

Jerusalem to fall. They who had been first should be last.


I. THEY WERE FIRST. The imagery employed by the prophet tells in

what respects.


1. In the favor of God. The olive was a favorite tree, held in highest esteem

by the people of the lands where it grew; hence it is used here and

elsewhere as an emblem of those whom God favors and has pleasure in

(compare “I am like a green olive tree in the house of my God,” Psalm 52:8).

The Bible seems to love the tree. It is the first named of any known tree

(Genesis 8:11), and is the subject of the first parable (Judges 9:8).

It is everywhere spoken of as precious; hence, when Judah and Jerusalem

are thus named, we regard it as a name of endearment, telling how precious

they were in God’s sight. This is borne out by direct statements and by the

recorded deeds of God, which show the esteem in which He held them.


2. In beauty. No doubt the beauty of the olive tree exists partly in the eyes

of the beholder, who looks upon it with affection for all the service it

renders him. But to others also there is unquestionable beauty in the olive

which, with its “noble groves, covered with foliage the whole year round,

spreading like a silver sea along the base of the hills and climbing their

ascending terraces, speaks loudly of peace and plenty, food and gladness”

(see Ruskin,’ Stones of Venice,’ vol. 3. pp. 175-177). And without doubt it

was beautiful in the eyes of those to whom the prophet wrote. But there is

a moral beauty as well as that which is material, and of which the material

is a fit symbol. And, compared with the disorder, the violence, the foulness,

the wickedness of all kinds, in which the rest of the world was sunk, Israel

was as a garden of the Lord — a green olive tree, fair and comely to

look upon. In them that which was lovely and of good report, that which

had virtue and praise, were found as nowhere else. Love to God and love

to man, justice, truth, and piety were held in esteem amongst them as

amongst none others.


3. In usefulness. The olive tree was not merely fair, but “of goodly fruit.”

From that fruit came one of the commonest and most essential articles of

the Eastern’s food. Its oil was employed in connection with almost

everything that they ate. Its berries gave flavor to the peasant’s bread. The

evening lamp was kindled with the oil pressed from it. And that same oil

was used to anoint their priests and kings, for the lamp in the holy place,

and to mingle with many of their sacrifices. To “anoint the head with oil”

was deemed most delightful and refreshing (Psalm 23). Wounds were

dressed with it (Luke 10:34), and the sick were anointed with it

(Mark 6:13; James 5:4). The wood of the tree was employed in the

sacred furniture of the temple, and there seemed to be no part of the tree

which did not in some way render service to man. Now, such was the

purpose of God in regard to His people, that in them “should all the nations

of the earth be blest.” They were to be the channel of blessing to all people.

Through them God’s saving health” should be known “amongst all

nations.”  (Psalm 67:2)


4. And in permanence. Their blessedness was to abide. The “greenness” of

the tree spoken of here refers to its perpetuity and strength. The olive is

known to live to a great age. It is not improbable (see Kitto) that some of

the olive trees now on the Mount of Olives are contemporaneous with our

Lord. The tax paid on them is that which was assigned to such trees when

first the Turks became masters of Palestine. All trees planted since are

taxed far more heavily. But of the great age to which the olive tree attains

there can be no doubt. It brings forth fruit in old age, and its leaf doth not

wither (Psalm 1). It was, therefore, a fit emblem of permanent prosperity

and strength. Such was the Divine intent in regard to His people. Their

blessedness was to abide.  (Let us think out loud.  What do you think that

the will of God was for Adam and Eve?  CY - 2023)


                                    Psalm 81:8-16


8 Hear, O my people, and I will testify unto thee: O Israel, if thou

wilt hearken unto me;

9There shall no strange God be in thee; neither shalt thou worship

any strange God.

10 I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of

Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.

11 But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would

none of me.

12 So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in

their own counsels.

13 Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked

in my ways!

14 I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand

against their adversaries.

15 The haters of the LORD should have submitted themselves unto

him: but their time should have endured for ever.

16 He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat: and

with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee.






                                    Isaiah 48:




12 Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am HHe; I am the

first, I also am the last.

13 Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right

hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand

up together.

14All ye, assemble yourselves, and hear; which among them hath

declared these things? The LORD hath loved him: he will do his

pleasure on Babylon, and his arm shall be on the Chaldeans.

15 I, even I, have spoken; yea, I have called him: I have brought him,

and he shall make his way prosperous.

16 Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret

from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now

the Lord GOD, and His Spirit, hath sent me.

17 Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am

the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth

thee by the way that thou shouldest go.

18 O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy

peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the


19 Thy seed also had been as the sand, and the offspring of thy bowels

like the gravel thereof; his name should not have been cut off nor

destroyed from before me.



Thus in all these and yet other ways were they first. But:


II. THEY BECAME LAST. See the terrible similitude employed — the

charred and shattered tree. But not more terrible than true. (Contrast what has

happened in Hawaii - August, 2023 - to understand the similitude.  CY - 2023)

The smoldering ruins, the devastated city, the desolate land, which a few years

afterwards the prophet looked upon, showed how true his word had been. They

had become last indeed. Exalted to heaven, they had been thrust down to hell.

(Compare Matthew 11:20-24) None can avoid inquiring:


III. THE CAUSE OF ALL THIS. It is declared to be threefold.


1. The evil of the people themselves. (v. 17.) Their persistence in

idolatry in spite of all remonstrance, warning, and every inducement which

should have withdrawn them from their sin. “Do not the abominable thing

which I hate” had in every variety of manner been said to them by God, but

in vain. He hated it because it was the root of so many other sins, and the

destroyer of all the good He had purposed both for and through them.




In seeking the usual reference of the above, I expected to be led to a

Bible verse but instead this showed up!






May 13, 2009


 |  No Comments


James Miller


For over 200 years, from 1690-1900, a primary reading textbook entitled

The New England Primer was used in every American School. This was the book

 used to teach children in America how to read. They didn’t have grade levels then.

But, this book would be comparable to first grade level curriculum. The first lessons

contain the alphabet, then come the learning syllables and words. About a quarter

of the way through the book the children were taught to memorize a different phrase

attached to each letter of the alphabet. Here are some of the examples:


·         A is for “A wise son maketh a glad father, but a foolish son is the

        heaviness of his mother.

·         B is for “Better is a little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure

        and trouble therewith.”

·         C is for “Come unto Christ all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and

        He will give you rest.

·         D is for “Do not the abominable thing, which I hate saith the Lord.”

·         E is for “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”



Above I mentioned that we must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ

and receive for the things we have done.  There will be some pleasant things

in the Judgment - “Well done  good and faithful servant.  Thou hast been

faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things.  Enter thou

into the joy of thy Lord.   (Matthew 25:23)


It goes on and on like this. This was the primary reading textbook in America’s schools

for over 200 years. Notice one of the lessons contained in the textbook: “Who is the first man?

Who is the first woman? Who is the first murderer?  (quite a contrast to the curriculum of

today - but this is what produced America under the blessings of God - CY - 2023)

Who is the first martyr? Who is the first translated? Who is the oldest man? Who built the ark?

Who is the most faithful man? Who is  the meekest man? Who is the most patient?” Etc… T

his sounds like a Sunday school lesson!


No, it was the primary reading textbook in America’s schools for over 200 years! As you

would get into the back of the book it contained questions such as (remember this is

1st grade level): “What is the fifth commandment? What is the forbidden in the fifth

commandment? What is the reason annexed to the fifth commandment? What is the

sixth commandment? What is required in the sixth commandment? What is forbidden

in the sixth commandment?” Now that was the foundation for America’s schools for

over 200 years!



 This is the type of education that John Quincy Adams received. He served

as President, 18 years in the House of Representatives, Secretary of State, and many more

positions. At the age of 14, he received a congressional diplomatic appointment overseas

to the court of Catherine the Great in Russia Can you imagine sending a 14-year-old overseas

as a diplomat to Russia today! But this was typical in that day given the educational

foundation they received. John Quincy Adams said, “The highest glory of the American

Revolution was this: it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil

government with the principles of Christianity. ” Today we hear that it is supposed

to be separated and that our founding fathers wanted it that way! John Jay, first

Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, one of the men most responsible

for our Constitution said, “Providence has given to our people the choice of their

rulers, and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation

to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.” How long has it been since we heard

anyone on the Supreme Court say, “now make sure you elect Christians as your leaders”?

In the earlier history textbooks students were taught that George Washington’s farewell

address was the most significant political speech ever given to the nation. Why not?

He is the “Father of the nation. ” He spent 45 years of his life in public service: everything

from Commander in Chief, through two terms as president. He was president of the

convention that gave us the Constitution. He was the one who called for the

1st Amendment Bill of Rights. In his farewell speech he was saying, “This is what

brought America to this point and this is what she must do from here on to be successful.”

Yet, that farewell speech has not been seen in textbooks for nearly 40 years. Why not,

does George Washington have nothing to say anymore? No, the problem is what he says

in the last half of his speech; he goes into great detail about something: “Of all the habits

and dispositions which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable

supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert

these great pillars! ” We don’t hear these kind of statements anymore. But, these are the men

that gave us the greatest form of government on earth.  France has been through seven

different governments, and Italy has had forty-eight in the past 200 years. Our

United States has been through only one! Where did the founding fathers get their

ideas for a government that could last so long when other nations can’t last?

University of Houston political science professors ask this same question. They

felt that if they could look back at some of the writings of the founding fathers and

see whom they quoted, they would know the answer. They collected 15,000 writings

of the founding fathers. From that they boiled it down to 3,154 writings that they felt had

significant impact on the founding of America. It took ten years, but they found that the

three most quoted men were Blackstone, Montesquie, and John Locke. Now that is a

tribute to these three men, but what they found and did not expect to find was that four

times more than Montesquie twelve times more than Blackstone, and sixteen times more

than John Locke the founding fathers quoted from the Bible! 34% of all quotes of the

founding fathers came out of the Bible. Another 60% came from men that used the Bible

to draw up their conclusions. 94% of quotes used by our founding fathers were based on

Bible Scripture. 34% came directly from the Bible, and 60% were from men that used the

Bible to draw up their conclusions! Blackstone ‘s Commentaries on the Law was the book

that a person couldn’t go to law school without knowing. Charles Finney, who during his

time was like Billy Graham of our day, had gone to law school to become a lawyer before

ever aspiring to be a preacher. In the process of studying Blackstone’s writings on the law

in which Blackstone gave Bible verses that supported the reason for each law, Finney

became a Christian. He became a Christian by studying the law! The idea of three

 branches of government with separation of powers didn’t copy any other government.

This idea came from Isaiah 33:22 “For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver,

he Lord is our king; he will save us. ” The idea for “separation of powers” came from

Jeremiah 17. The idea of “tax exemption for churches” came from Ezra 7:24 “Also we

certify you, that, touching any of the priests and Levites, singers, porters, Nethinums,

or ministers of this house of God, it shall not be lawful to impose toll, tribute, or custom,

upon them.”  It is amazing how many times Congressmen would come to the floor of the

House or Senate with Bible in hand saying, “look what I found in the Bible! ” Others would

then say, “If it is in the Bible, that is what we want. ” They would vote on it and make it law.

The Bible book quoted more often than any other was Deuteronomy. This lets us know that

they were students of the Bible, because not many people today are that familiar with

Deuteronomy. Let us pray that God will bring America back to its Christian, godly heritage!

God please bless America again!




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2. Their evil returning upon themselves. v. 17, “The evil.., which they

have done against themselves.” This is ever the way of sin “But he that

sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul:  all they that hate me love

death.” (Proverbs 8:36). It wrongs our entire nature. What a man sows he



            (a) The reason is debased,

            (b)  the conscience trampled on,

            (c) the power of will prostrated,

            (d) the soul imprisoned,

            (e) the affections perverted,

            (f) the imagination defiled,

            (g) the body often diseased,

            (h) character ruined,

            (i) substance wasted, and

            (j)  all the true springs of happiness poisoned or stopped.


He has sown to the flesh, and of the flesh he has reaped corruption.

Yes, sin is ever done against ourselves.


3. The woe which comes from the provoked anger of God. Besides these

natural results of sin — the reaping which is according to the sowing, and

which are terrible enough in themselves — there come the punitive

inflictions of the wrath of God. History as well as the Bible is full of proofs

of this on a large scale, and so are the experiences of individual

transgressors, though in more limited form. And wherever sin, the primary

cause, is found, there sooner or later will come these other causes which

together work so dread a doom.


·         CONCLUSION. What effect should the contemplation of facts like these

and they are written and wrought for our learning (I Corinthians 10:11)

— have upon us? Should they not cause us to reject at once and forever all

those suggestions which Satan is ever plying us with —


Ø      that sin will not be punished, and

Ø      the transgressor may, after all, go free?


In view of facts like these, how can that be believed? And should they not

lead us to offer as our daily prayer the petition, “Give us a heart to love

and dread thee, and diligently to live after thy commandments”?

And not only to dread and deprecate the wrath which sin provokes,

but to desire and seek after that preoccupation of the

heart with the love of God which will bar out sin.


“Guard my first springs of thought and will,

And with thyself my spirit fill  



  Apostasy an Anomalous (abnormal and aberrant) and Incalculable Thing

                                                (Jeremiah 8:4-7)



4 Moreover thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the LORD; Shall

they fall, and not arise? shall he turn away, and not return?

5 Why then is this people of Jerusalem slidden back by a perpetual

backsliding? they hold fast deceit, they refuse to return.

6 I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright: no man repented

him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? every one turned

to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle.

7 Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the

turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their

coming; but my people know not the judgment of the LORD.



FALSIFIED. (vs. 4-6.) If a man fall, he will rise again to his feet; if he

has made a mistake or gone in a wrong direction, and discovers it, he will

turn again, unless he be absolutely bereft of his senses. One might expect

similar behavior in spiritual matters. But in the wickedness and defection of

Israel it was not so; their apostasy seemed perpetual. The migratory birds

are taught by instinct when to return. The season of their coming again is

almost as calculable as that of their going. But the departure of the sinner is

incomprehensible, and his return cannot with certainty be expected. Nay,

the likelihood is he will continue in his sin, and pursue his own destruction

to the hitter end. In this, as in many other instances, the career of the sinner

can only be explained on the score of infatuation. His moral sense is

perverted or destroyed. In place of that quick response which conscience

ought to make to the voice of duty, there comes over his spirit an

insensibility to moral considerations, and A GROWING IGNORANCE

of things Divine gradually deepening into OUTER DARKNESS.



TO AFFECT IT. (v. 5.) The growing misery and unhappiness which it

occasions are not strong enough to check the tendency to sin, if indeed

their connection with it is clearly perceived or acknowledged. The cravings

of the spiritual nature have to give place to “the lust of the flesh, the lust of

the eye, and the pride of life.” By-and-by they are stilled, not by being

satisfied, but by being stifled; and a curious heedlessness, which is deaf to

all the voices of prophetic warning and entreaty, increasingly characterizes

itUnder such circumstances it is difficult to discover any common point of

contact or argument that shall be valid to both parties. When reason is left

behind, it is not to higher, but to lower, susceptibilities that appeal has to

be made.



PROVISION OF GOD ARE AS NOTHING. (v. 6.) The saint in the

times of his calamity calls upon God to incline His ear. In the fearful

condition and moral insensibility of His people to their  wickedness and

danger God is represented as of Himself inclining H is ear and listening

attentively for the lightest sigh of repentance. He calls, but no notice is

takenThe means of salvation He has provided are neglected, or abused.

The form of godliness is cultivated when the spirit has fled and the

exercises of religion are the chief foes to its reality. What can be the

conclusion to all this? THEY ARE SPIRITUALLY DEAD!   There is

 neither power nor inclination to seek for better things. Nothing but

supernatural grace and long-suffering love can avail to save them.




Poet Natasha Trethewey served two terms as the 19th Poet Laureate of

the United States (2012-2014). 




                                    The Way Home (v. 6)


The text suggests much concerning this way from the far country of sin to

the home of our Father and God. The Lord is here lamenting that none of

the people of Jerusalem were walking in it. Note




1. Realization of the ruin wrought by our sinThe soul is represented as

contemplating this ruin, and asking, “What have I done?” This is the first



2. Repentance. Each one is to repent of “his wickedness.” We are not to

lose ourselves in a general confession of sin, as too many do, but to think

of our own sin apart from that of other people, and to think of what is

especially our sin. Thus personal and particular, our repentance is the more

likely to be genuine and godly.


3. Confession. “These that have sinned, these and these only speak aright

when they speak of repenting, and it is sad when they who have so much

work for repentance do not say a word of repenting.” But confession is this

speaking aright” which God desires to hear from us. Now, this confession

is so acceptable to God because it glorifies His holiness and His love. His

holiness; for the sinner has come to see sin as God sees it, and hence to

hate and abhor it. He is of one mind with God about it as he never was

before. And his love; for confession casts itself in faith upon a love that is

deeper than its sin. Deep as is God’s abhorrence of sin, the sinner in

confession appeals to and lays hold on a love that is deeper still. Hence,

when the sinner makes his sincere confession before God, he is at once

right out of “the far country,” and home in the heart of God. The robe, the

ring, the shoes, are put upon him; the feast is prepared, and the merrymaking,

the joy in the presence of the angels of God, at once begins.  (see Luke 15)



THIS WAY. It is God who is represented as bending down his ear,

hearkening to what is said, listening for any words of confession, and ready

to hear them if spoken. The text is the language of gracious expectation

and desire on the part of God. It calls to mind the father’s waiting for the

prodigal’s return. How often had he looked with longing, loving gaze

down the road along which his returning son must come, if ever indeed he

would come! He had looked so often that a speck in the far distance

would at once be discerned by him. Hence, “when a great way off,” the

father saw him. And so here God is represented as thus waiting for his

guilty people’s return. And how much there is to confirm our faith in this

Divine solicitude for the sinner’s salvation! Look at the very constitution of

our nature. That, as Bishop Butler has shown, is evidently on the side of

virtue, that is, of obedience to God, and against the disobedient. “Who will

harm you, if ye be doers of that which is good?  — thus the apostle

appeals to the universally recognized fact, that the constitution of man’s

nature is such as to favor the good. And, on the other hand, the declaration

that “the way of transgressors is hard” (Proverbs 13:15), is based on another like

fact of universal experience. Such is one evidence of “the care” with which, as

George Herbert sings, “Lord, with what care thou hast begirt us round?

Then the revelation of His truth is yet further in evidence. That truth, as

ministered to us by the written Word or by the lips of prophets, apostles,

pastors, teachers — it matters not — is a perpetual proof of the Divine

solicitude for our eternal good. And His providence, making it to be well

with the righteous and ill with the unrighteous. Well and ill with each

respectively in mind, body, and estate. And His Spirit. That Spirit speaking

to us in conscience and in the powerful pleadings of His grace in our hearts,

of which we are all so often conscious. And, last of all, God has shown us

this loving care of His for us in his Son. He has shown Himself in a manner

adapted to touch and move all hearts, and to draw all men unto Him. Now,

all this mass of evidence is in keeping with that solicitude which this verse

and so many other portions of God’s Word reveal as felt by Him towards

sinful men.  (SOLICIT - ask for, crave, beg, request)   And if it be asked

“What moves this solicitude?” the character of God furnishes the answer.

The holiness of God. “Good and upright is the Lord, therefore will He

teach sinners in the way.”  (Psalm 25:8)  And we are bidden“Give thanks at

the remembrance of his holiness.”  (ibid. ch. 30:4)  It is the nature of

holiness to be distressed at all that contradicts it and is unlike itself. It rests

not until it has assimilated all around it to itself. Here, then, is one reason

of God’s perpetual appeals to sinful men.


·         His wisdom also. It is the characteristic of God’s wisdom to adjust

      means to ends. How wonderfully and beautifully this is seen in all

      departments of nature! But for the fulfilling of the high purposes

      of His grace, what instrument can He find more fit than the regenerated,

      redeemed soul? Even now and here we see this. A soul aglow with love

      and faith towards God, what will not that soul do for God? Hence to the

      principalities and powers in heaven shall be made known by the one

      Church — the company of the redeemed shall evidence it 



·         His love also. If the beholding of scenes of distress touch our hearts

      and make us eager to render help, can we imagine that He who made

      us is less willing than ourselves to show pity and render help?

      Our Lord’s argument is, “If ye, evil though ye be, know how”

            — and we do know how — “to give good gifts to your children, how

            much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those that

            ask Him?  (Matthew 7:11)  Humanity, as it has been well said, is the

            heavenly Father’s sick child. Will not the Father’s love, therefore, 

            be all the more called forth to that child? 


·         And His compassion also. For this life is the critical period of that

      child’s malady. It is the time when the great question of its life or death

      is being determined. Terrible forces are against it, and the struggle is

      now at its most momentous hour.  This fact would cause the Father’s love

      to go forth, as it has gone and is going forth, in active compassion, in open

      manifestation of its solicitude.


 Such are some of the considerations which lead to our Father’s attentive

observance of all those who travel by this homeward way.


III. THE END OF THE WAY. They who come there will find:


·         restoration to the Father’s love,

·         the implantation of a new nature,

·         the complete pardon of the past,

·         power to live as God’s dear child for the future, and ultimately

·         the everlasting dwelling in the very presence and home of God.


IV. BROOKS BY THE WAY. It is said, “He shall drink of the brook by

the way, therefore shall he lift up the head.” We may apply these words to

the travelers in the way we are speaking of; for they need, in the weary and

often most difficult journey, the refreshments WHICH GOD ALONE CAN

SUPPLY!  Such aids are given in the promises of God, the fellowship of God, the

communion of fellow-travelers on the way, and in the service and worship

of God.


V. THE SOLITARINESS OF THE WAY. It is but here and there a

traveler that is found. The way is not thronged. This verse is God’s lament

that scarce any are found willing to go along this road; for it is not the way

of worldly advantage. They who “are given to covetousness” (v. 10) will

never choose this way. They have persuaded themselves that they are as

well off and better where they are. They are deceived, and, what is worse,

are willing to be deceived: They hold fast deceit, and so refuse to return.”

(v. 5)  We should have thought that surely it would be otherwise.


1. Reason bids them return (v. 4). If a man have fallen, he will not lie

content on the earth, but will arise. If in an ordinary journey he have missed

his way, he will at once retrace his steps. Reason rules in such cases, but

not here.


2. Conscience bids them return. They could not but know that their sin had

done them sore harm; but none of them asked, “What have I done?”

however loudly conscience might summon them to such repentance.


3. Gods Word bade then return (v. 8), but lo! certainly in vain He made

it.   IsraelAmerica?  You?


4. Providences bade them. The events that had taken place were all

admonitions of God; but though the birds of the air marked and obeyed the

providence of God, sinful man “knew not the judgment of the Lord” (v. 7).

(And like the people of Noah’s day, at the time of the Flood “....were eating

and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah

entered into the ark, And knew not until the Flood came, and took them all

away...”  (Matthew 24:38-39 - I hope this doesn’t sound like a fairy tale to

you - Christ doesn’t do fairy tales.  CY - 2023)  Hence the way is solitary. 


·         CONCLUSION. But the question for us is, “Are we in this way?” Let us

bless God if we are, and press on therein. Let us note how short the day is

in which we can travel, how its few fleeting hours are lessening, lest when

we would start on the way we have to exclaim (Jeremiah 6:4), “Woe

unto us I for the day goeth away, for the shadows of the evening are

stretched out.”




Ecclesiastes 12 man goeth to his long home


Oh how I want to go home




                                    Backsliding in Its Worst Forms (vs. 4-11)


All departures from God are evil, but some are only temporary, and are

quickly followed by repentance, return, and restoration. There are others,

however, of a far more serious kind, and we have in these verses a great

deal told us concerning them. We are told of some of:




1So contrary to mens wonted ways. For when men find that they have

brought evil on themselves, they will at once seek to undo such evil (v..4).

If a man fall, he win not lie still in the mire or in the road, but will get

up again as speedily as may be. If he have mistaken his path and got on a

wrong track, wilt he not, as soon as he discovers his mistake, quickly

retrace his steps that he may get into the right way? That is how men act in

the common affairs of life. But, though Judah and Jerusalem knew well that

they had fallen, yet they showed no desire to rise, and though they could

not but know they were altogether out of the right way, they showed no

willingness to return.


2. Resists the strivings of Gods Spirit and all his drawings of them to

Himself. V. 7 implies such God-implanted instincts in men’s souls, but

declares that, unlike the ever-obedient birds, man resists and refuses the

call of God.


3. Becomes shameless. (vs. 6,12.) This feature we have had noticed

before (compare ch.6:15); it arrested the prophet’s attention as being

evil exceedingly.


4. Determined and defiant. (v. 6.)


5. Is at last perpetual. (v. 5.) They have gone into an evil way, and they

abide in that way, no power of Divine grace being able to draw them

therefromSo terrible is this worst form of backsliding, it is perpetual.

          “......they hold fast deceit.”


Let each wanderer from God ask himself the question, “What have I done?”


3. The time for such inquiry is lessening day by day.

4. “It is a fearful thing” for an unforgiven man “to fall into the

hands of the living God.”  (Hebrews 12:29)





                        Peace, Peace; When There is No Peace (8:8-12)


The present condition of the country, why these scandals, miseries, and

impending evils?



UNDERSTANDING OF GOD’S WORD. The priests and scribes, because

of familiarity with holy things, claimed to be wise. They were satisfied with

the spiritual state of Israel. Had they been wise, they would have

anticipated what took place. The Holy Spirit alone bestows Divine insight

and foresight.




“Refuges of lies” will be swept away. The judgment, when it comes, will

find them wholly unprepared and helpless. “Take heed that the light that is

in thee be not darkness.” “Blind leaders of the blind,” the sorrowing comes

to them in vain for comfort, or is deceived to his own hurt; at last the

victim of a misplaced confidence, to find himself “of all men most






The Inveterate (ingrained; deep-seated) Disobedience of Israel

                                                (v. 28)


All along, from v. 21, this is the theme, viz. the disobedience of Israel.

Now, to give full force to a charge of disobedience there must be the

means of furnishing ample proofs that directions have first been given —

plain, earnest, and authoritative. And this is just what we find here. God

refers His people back over the long years in which, by divers agencies, He

had laid before them his righteous and beneficent will.

 What he commended was for His glory; for His glory because for His people’s

good; for His people’s good because for His glory. The present state and

prospects of the people are very humiliating, but assuredly no part of their

humiliation can be laid to the charge of their God. The cloudy and the fiery

pillar was but a symbol of most distinct guidance for the whole heart. The

people were not suffered to wander for lack of expostulation and warning.

When a lad turns out badly, criticizing speech is often directed against the

parents, as if somehow they must be at fault. They may be at fault indeed,

but there is no must in the matter. Hasty criticism at such a time, from the

very injustice of it, adds a cruel intensity to the pain and disappointment

already existing. But hasty criticism cannot be silenced by merely

deprecating it, and parents at such moments would do well to remember

that they stand in relations to their disobedient children not unlike those in

which, as is represented here, Jehovah stood towards Israel of old. The

most loving and watchful and patient of parents never did for his children

NEAR SO MUCH AS JEHOVAH DID FOR ISRAEL There was the instruction

of their wonderful career, in which God had moved so sublimely among them.

There were the ten commandments, formulated so distinctly, and set in

such a grand historical frame. There were all the rites and ceremonies filled

with instructing power to those who would seek to understand them. And

there was also, accumulating generation after generation, the great mass of

prophetic truth. Man is what he is, not for want of light, but for want of

disposition to use and obey the light when it appears. There is an

indisposition to attend to truth and to fidelity in all duty, until at last the

very feeling of what faithfulness and righteousness are vanishes from the

breastBut still the excuse is attempted, and persisted in with shameless

impudence, that the word which professes to come from God must have in

it something defective, something that effectually prevents it from being

received. But it is only from the unrenewed mind that talk of this kind

comes. Those who have had their eyes opened to the truth of God soon

begin to discern that in that truth there is no lack of guidance, or

inspiration, or comfort, or any good thing which can uplift and satisfy the

heartAnd we may be sure that God, who has given this immense and

fruitful body of truth, has brought it nearer to the individual conscience

than the individual in his perversity will always acknowledge. Men are

indulged too much in the complaint that nobody has spoken to them about

their souls. A miserable egotism often lies at the bottom of such

complaining. If they know by any means whatever — and it matters not

how slight the hint may be-that there is something written for the

obedience of all mankind and for their consequent advantage, then these

complainers are bound to attend to it. Men are not so foolish in the quest

of worldly gains. Then they will go upon the slightest hint, and follow it up

discreetly and warily. Why, then, should they be so foolish in the matter of

spiritual gain? Because “truth is perished, and is cut off from their mouth.”