THE first two verses of this chapter contain a prohibition of idolatry, and a command to
observe the sabbath and to reverence God’s sanctuary; that is, they repeat in summary
the substance of the Israelites, religious duty, negative and positive, as comprised in the
first table of the Decalogue. They form, therefore, a prologue to the remainder of the
chapter, which solemnly announces:
Hitherto the Book of Leviticus has consisted of ceremonial and moral injunctions, with
two historical passages interposed. In the present chapter it rises in its subject and its
diction from legal precepts and a legal style to prediction and the style which became
a prophet. We may trace in Joel 2:18-27 an intimate acquaintance on the part of the
earliest prophet of
rain, and as here it is to be “in due season,” – (v. 4) so there it is “the former and the
latter rain,” – (v. 23) - that is, the regular autumn and spring rains. “The land shall yield
her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit,” – (v. 4) -appears in the
prophet as, “the pastures of the wilderness do spring, for the tree beareth her fruit, the
fig tree and the vine do yield their strength.” – (v. 22) - The following clause, “your
threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing
time,”- (v. 5) - as, “the floors shall be full of wheat, and the fats shall overflow with
wine and oil;” – (v.24) the next clause, “ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell
in your land safely,” – (v. 5) - as, “I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye
shall be satisfied therewith,” – (v. 19) and “ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied;” –
(v. 26) - the clause, “I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none
shall make you afraid,” – (v. 6) as “I will no more make you a reproach among the
heathen,” – (v. 19) and “my people shall never be ashamed;” – (v. 26) - and the
clause, “I will rid evil creatures [not beasts] out of the land, neither shall the sword
go through your land,” – (v. 6) as, “I will remove far off from you the northern army,”
(v. 20) and “I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm,
and the caterpillar, and the palmer-worm, my great army which I sent among you.”
(v. 25) - The blessings and the curses rise one above the other in regular gradation:
on the one side, rain, abundance, peace, deliverance, victory, increase in numbers,
communion with God; on the other side: (Which would you prefer? CY – 2010)
defeat, and causeless flight;
of labor spent upon them;
of the highways;
and worship, destruction of their cities, utter desolation of their lands, and
captivity among the heathen. (
And even yet the full measure of their misery is not accomplished, for while the land
enjoys her sabbaths, the captives, if unrepentant, are to fall from one misery to another,
till they pine away and are consumed. Each of these grades is described as being
symbolically seven times worse, that is, incomparably worse, than that which has gone
before. Because these plagues would come, and in fact DID COME upon them as the
immediate result of physical or moral causes that could be traced, they are none the
less THE EFFECT OF GOD’S WRATH UPON HIS APOSTATE PEOPLE.
Confession of sin, recognition of God’s providence in all that had happened to them,
humility, and acquiescence in their punishment, WOULD RESTORE THEM TO
THEIR FORFEITED COVENANT RELATION. (vs. 40-45). Then God would
“not abhor them to destroy them utterly,” but would “remember the covenant of
their fathers.” Thus it was that God brought them back after the Babylonish Captivity;
and thus it is that, upon their
repentance, He replaces in a state of
and individuals that have fallen away from Him. In this way punishments become a
blessing, and men are able to “accept of them,” (vs. 41,43) or rejoice in them,
as the word might be rendered.
1 Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing
image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down
unto it: for I am the LORD your God. The word idols (elilim) means the
“nothings” which the heathen substituted for THE LORD GOD. The graven
image (here meaning a carved wooden image), the standing image
(meaning a sacred pillar), and the image of stone (that is, a sculptured
stone idol), are the three forms of images under which adoration was paid,
whether to the true God or to a false deity. The expression, to bow down
unto (or towards) it, forbids worshipping before an image as well as
worshipping an image.
Idolatry: Our Danger and Our Security (v.1)
Knowing, as we do, how widespread was the idolatry of the age and how
terribly tempted were the children of
do not wonder either at the repetition or the fullness of this
commandment. God made it quite clear to His people, and impressed the
truth on their minds with strong emphasis, that they must not permit any
visible image to come between themselves and Him. He would sanction “no
idol, nor graven image, nor pillar, nor figured stone” (marginal reading).
Respecting idolatry we may do well to consider:
and blank idolatry with which we are familiar.
ü The first step downwards is when men take some object or construct
some image which shall remind them of Deity, or stand for God, or be a
sign and token of his presence, so that when they see that they shall think
of Him. This was the case with the “golden calf” which Aaron made.
The people presented their offerings to it in connection with a “feast to
the Lord” (Exodus 32:5). It is too great a mental labor to realize God’s
presence by pure thought and meditation; men crave a visible object
which shall remind them of the Supreme.
ü The next step — deep into the thick darkness — is to identify the Deity
with the object which is the chosen sign of His presence; and the
constant, inevitable accompaniment of this act is to multiply the
number of divinities; for, as the visible images are many, the gods
become many also to the popular imagination. However antecedently
unlikely it may seem to us that men would commit such great folly as
this, universal history compels us to believe that they have done so.
Beginning with the demand for “a sign,” men have “bowed down
unto” and worshipped the image, the pillar, the figured stone.
ü Then follows mental, moral, spiritual degradation. The worshippers of
idols have attributed to their gods their own infirmities and sins, and
then their worship has reacted on their own character, and they have
sunk to the lowest depths of abjectness of mind, vileness of spirit,
grossness of life.
those more shameless forms of it which historians and travelers have made
known to us. These are its last and worst developments. But the idolatrous
element is found where there is:
ü a false association of God with an object with which He has nothing to
do, as (in the case referred to) where the Israelites associated Jehovah in
their thoughts with an image with which He had no connection
ü a false trust in an object with which God is more or less connected.
That was an idolatrous act on the part of the Israelites when they made
sure of victory because the ark of God was in the camp (I Samuel
4:3-11). God had connected Himself with the ark in an especial
manner; but the Jews were trusting in it rather than IN HIM, and
they leaned on a broken reed.
forms of idolatry, nor is it in the former of the two essential elements of it;
it is in the latter of these. We are liable to trust idolatrously in that with
which God is connected, but which has no virtue at all in itself. We are
invited, and sometimes find ourselves tempted:
ü To imagine that a priest can bless us, independently of the truth
which he teaches or the spiritual help which he renders us.
ü To suppose that we are nearer to God in sacred places, irrespective of
the consideration whether we realize His presence and draw nigh to
ü To seek sanctity, or even salvation, in sacraments apart from the
reverent thought and consecrated feeling which they should suggest
or excite. This is an IDOLATROUS DELUSION!
ü The avoidance of temptation. We must shun those Churches and
services which would seduce us from spiritual purity.
ü The acceptance of the One Divine Mediator we have in Christ our
Saviour. There is “one man we can adore without idolatry — the man
ü The use of our faculties for the worship of THE INVISIBLE! We can
worship Him who is a Spirit “in spirit and in truth for the Father
seeketh such to worship Him. (John 4:23) We can realize the presence
of the infinite God; we can love Him whom we have not seen (I Peter
1:8); we can walk the whole path of life conscious of a Divine
Companion whose hand we cannot grasp, but who “leads us all
our journey through.” By a living faith, “our fellowship is with
the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ” (I John 1:3).
2 Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.
These words are repeated textually from chapter 19:30.
3 If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them” –
The free will of man is recognized equally with God’s controlling power.
4 Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase,
and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. 5 And your threshing shall
reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time:
and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.
6 And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall
make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall
the sword go through your land” – vs. 4-6 appear to have been in the
mind, not of Joel only, as already pointed out, but of Ezekiel in ch. 34:20-31. In
Leviticus we find, Then I will give you rain in due season; (v. 4) - in Ezekiel,
“And I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers
of blessing.’’ (v. 26) (I remember the song “Showers of Blessing” that was in the
hymnal [song book as we called it] in days of my childhood – With the wonders
of technology at 11:48 am I got on the internet and heard a beautiful version –
there were other renditions which I did not listen too, sung by a range of
people from the unknown to me to Willie Nelson. CY – 2017) In Leviticus,
And the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield
their fruit; (v. 4) - in Ezekiel, “And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit,
and the earth her increase.” (v. 27) - In Leviticus, Ye shall dwell in your land
safely; (v. 5) - in Ezekiel, “They shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep
in the woods.” (v. 25) - In Leviticus, And I will give peace in the land, and ye
shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and will rid evil
beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land; (v. 6) –
in Ezekiel, “And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil
beasts to cease out of the land.… And they shall no more be a prey to the heathen,
neither shall the beast of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and none
shall make them afraid.” (vs. 25,28) – The promise, Your threshing shall reach unto
the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time” – (v. 5) is similar to
that in the prophet Amos, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that the
plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth
seed” (Amos 9:13).
7 And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword.
8 And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten
thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.” – “One
man of you shall chase a thousand: for the Lord your God, He it is that fighteth
for you, as He hath promised you” – (Joshua 23:10) - For examples, see Judges 3:31;
15:15; I Samuel 14:6-16; II Samuel 23:8.
Obedience and Prosperity (vs. 3-8)
The connection between godly conduct and material good may not seem to
us so close or so clearly discernible as that which is promised in these
verses. Still, the heart of the promise remains, and instances have never
been wanting to prove that “godliness is profitable unto all things, having
promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” (I Timothy 4:8)
The prophecy of Amos (Amos 9:13) — evidently founded on this passage
of the Law — refers to gospel times, and reminds us that the declarations
of the text are capable of a spiritual application which invests them with
deeper meaning and grander results.
ü Man is unfit to guide his own way. “It is not in man that walketh to
direct his steps.” (Jeremiah 9:23) He is a creature swayed by passion,
short-sighted, fallible in judgment. Nor can the united wisdom of the
multitude secure the framing of a code free from prejudice and error.
We may consult the instructions of Scripture as our unfailing chart;
we may listen to its precepts as the helmsman does to the commands
of the captain, assured that from his loftier position he can better
determine the course the vessel ought to take.
ü The Almighty possesses irresistible claims upon our obedience. He is
our Creator and Governor, Father and Benefactor. He has bestowed
upon us all our earthly and our spiritual benefits, and in particular spared
not His only Son for our sakes. Supremely wise and holy, we cannot
without manifest incongruity refuse to follow His counsel and rule of
life. We are rebels if we neglect His injunctions. To pick and choose
which we will conform to is to assume presumptuous functions.
ü The statutes are such as to commend themselves upon maturest
reflection. Any precept plainly contrary to reason or morality no will
has power to enforce. But the hexaplar verdict of the psalmist will be
pronounced by all who study the laws of God, “The statutes of the Lord
are right,” etc. (Psalm 19:7-9). The teachings of Jesus Christ are A
MASTERPIECE of skill, goodness, and purity. If universally adhered
to, the world would become an
ü Blessings are promised to the obedient.
o Plenty. The ground shall be fertile, the fruit gathered in harvest
shall more than suffice to carry the husbandman on to the next
ingathering. The gospel does at any rate teach Christian stoicism,
making a man contented with his lot, and he who has sufficient
for his wants cannot complain. But in the spiritual region we may
have a never-ceasing flow of gifts. For God is bountiful, and
loves to grant richest graces unto His people. If only we are
prepared to receive, the floodgates of His bounty will be opened.
(“Bring ye all the tithes into the
storehouse, that there may be
meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the
Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven,
and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room
enough to receive it.” - Malachi 3:10)
o Peace. They shall dwell at home in safety, none causing terror.
Strife amongst God’s own people shall be unknown, the
inestimable blessing of tranquility shall diffuse its sweetness
over the land. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind
is stayed on thee.” (Isaiah 26:3) Calm of conscience is the
peculiar privilege of the believer in Christ. Bodily suffering
cannot destroy this peace. The testimony of a well-known
minister on his death-bed recently was, “Within I have deep peace,
`though around is constant searching pain.”
o Victory, if foes attempt to molest. The Christian life is a warfare,
and this is quite consistent with the enjoyment of peace. It is an
external sphere of conflict, the enemy is determined and active,
“but thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through
our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Corinthians 15:57) The obedient
soldiers are likeliest to come off conquerors when the general
is skilled in strategy. And as
observance of moral rules, were ever prepared for duty, so
are those who conform to the precepts of Christ certain of
success in the struggle against sin. The association is much
more intimate between obedience and spiritual triumph than
that which is here promised in the Law.
ü These blessings are eminently desirable. It speaks a wise and gracious
God to have made it so greatly men’s interest to keep His laws. In any
case we are bound to do what seems right, yet, if this conduct were not
coincident with advantage, life would be a melancholy scene. Peace,
plenty, and victory are just what the heart desiderates (keen desire for
something lacking or absent) and men strive to attain. God will not
offer what men contemn. It is true that the degraded may at
first fail to appreciate the joys of prosperity and tranquility, yet
education is possible, and even brief reasoning must convince
of the value of these inducements.
ü The list is comprehensive. There is material prosperity and moral good,
and in the following verses religious satisfaction is promised — God
dwelling in the midst of His people. Nothing that can add to man’s real
happiness is absent from the catalogue of pleasures to be participated
in by the obedient. (Contrast with those apart from God who are never
satisfied and never can be by the things of this world. God has made
man’s heart too big for this world to fill. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
ü There is nothing wrong in allowing ourselves to be influenced by the
promise of rewards. Man is compelled to anticipate; prudence is a virtue.
All depends upon the character of the rewards. If they minister to base,
ignoble lusts, then to be moved thereby is indicative of an evil state of
mind. But if the blessings are legitimate and elevating, in accordance
with principles implanted by our Maker, then the hope of obtaining
them is a strong incitement to be cherished rather than checked. To
impel men to a holy life by preaching the bliss and glory of heaven
is surely allowable and to be commended.
ü The worth of these rewards will be enhanced by a consideration of the
misery of their opposites
o turmoil, and
Such is the lot of those who follow their own devices, blindly hurrying
to ruin. The prodigal imagined that he must see the world and leave his
father’s home in order to be happy, but he soon discovered his dire
ü History proves God’s faithfulness to His word. As long as the Israelites
kept the Law, their condition was one of security, development, and
honour. Every age has testified to the fulfillment of Divine declarations,
forcing from the skeptical an acknowledgment of “a power that makes
for righteousness.” Seeking first the
righteousness, all other things have been added. On the other hand,
it has been found hard to kick against the pricks. (Acts 9:5) (“The
way of the transgressors is hard.” – Proverbs 13:15) What Carlyle
terms the “eternities” war against the evil-doer. As predictions have
been fulfilled in the past, so we are confident that ALL THE
PROMISES OF GOD SHALL ULTIMATELY BE REALIZED
in the experience of His faithful servants. (Take for instance,
the 321 or so times that the New Testament mentions the Second
Coming of Christ! “The day of the Lord will come” - II Peter
9 For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you,
and establish my covenant with you. 10 And ye shall eat old store, and bring
forth the old because of the new.” The provisions of the past year would be so
abundant that they would have to be removed to make place for the new stores.
11 And I set my tabernacle among you: - This was fulfilled, spiritually, as shown
to John in his vision of the new Jerusalem: “I heard a great voice out of heaven
saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them,
and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God”
(Revelation 21:3) - “and my soul shall not abhor you.
12 And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be
my people.- These words are quoted by Paul as a ground of the holiness required of
God’s people (II Corinthians 6:16-18). “Having therefore these promises, dearly
beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting
holiness in the fear of God” – (ibid. 7:1)
13 I am the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the
that ye should not be their bondmen; and I have broken the bands of your yoke,
and made you go upright. And I have broken the bands of your yoke. This
expression, used also in the parallel passage of Ezekiel above referred to (Ezekiel
34:27), and Jeremiah 27:2 receives an illustration from the ancient
method of harnessing oxen, still kept up in the East and South. The band
means the straight piece of wood laid across the necks of the oxen, by
which their heads are fastened together to keep them level with each other,
and by which they are attached to the pole of the wagon. The single collars
worn by horses in more northern countries have not the same oppressive effect.
The Blessedness of the Righteous (vs. 1-13)
In the words before us we have:
ü That they worship the true God.
Ø They make no idols. Graven images. Pillars to memorialize
advantages supposed to be derived from false gods. Witness the
votive offerings of the papists. They might not superstitiously worship
such stones of memorial as Jacob set up to memorialize the blessings
of Jehovah (see Genesis 28:18; and comp. II Kings 18:4). The images
of stone or “stones of picture” (see margin) would probably be statues.
Note: men make their idols.
Ø They respect Jehovah. He is the Maker of all things. He is
Himself uncreated. He is the Covenant Friend of the righteous.
ü That they worship Him truly.
Ø By keeping His sabbaths. Memorials of His works of creation and
redemption, pledges of the rest of heaven. These are:
o septennial, and
o in the jubilee.
Ø By reverencing His sanctuary. The place of His presence, of His altar,
of the congregation of His people.
ü They serve Him obediently.
Ø Walking in His statutes. This implies the study of His Word.
Ø Keeping His commandments also implies prayer for Divine grace.
· THEIR BLESSEDNESS ASSURED. They have the promise of:
Ø The elements were to be propitious to them. Seasonable rains.
These are very important. They are here mentioned as
representing all benign elemental influences — light, heat,
electricity, — all which are essential.
Ø The result then is abundance (v. 5). Before they could have reaped
and threshed out their corn, the vintage should be ready, and before
they could have pressed out their wine, it would be time again to
Ø This was to prefigure the abundance of grace which should mark
the times of the gospel (see Amos 9:13-15).
Ø From the hostility of the elements. No plague should invade them.
Ø From the hostility of men. No warrior should invade them.
No robber should trouble them.
Ø From the hostility of animals. Where population is reduced by
wars and famines, beasts of prey prowl.
Ø How the faithfulness of God has been verified in the history of His
Ø God puts the dread of them into their enemies. They fly before them.
Witness the flight of the Syrians in the days of Elisha (II Kings 7.).
Ø He puts courage into their hearts. Witness the exploits of Gideon,
of Samson, of Jonathan and his armor-bearer (I Samuel 14:6,12).
Ø This is a blessing of the covenant. It is a real strength to a nation.
It is a real strength to a Church.
Ø But outside the covenant mere numbers may prove a formidable evil.
ü Divine Favor.
Ø “I will have respect unto you.” Contrast with this Hebrews
Ø The token of the favor of God is His Presence.
v His tabernacle was amongst them in the wilderness.
What miracles of mercy were shown to them then!
v How glorious were the days of Solomon when the Shechinah
entered the temple.
v His tabernacle was set among His people in the presence
of Jesus (John 1:14). But they did not know the
blessedness of their day
v How blessed is the mystical incarnation of Christ in the
believer! (John 6:56; II Corinthians 6:16-18; 7:1).
v The glory of the tabernacle will culminate in the new heavens
and earth (see Revelation 21:3).
All this blessedness was pledged in the emancipation from the bondage of
Incentives to Obedience (vs. 3-13)
Religion has the first claim upon us as the supreme obligation of the soul.
We are bound to worship and honor God because we owe far more to
Him than to all other beings in the universe. The first and all-sufficient
reason why we should “worship and bow down” before Him (Psalm 95:6),
is in the fact that “He is our God” — that One from whom we come, in
whom we live, from whom cometh down every good gift. (Acts 17:28;
James 1:17). But God condescends to urge us to obedience by presenting
incentives to our minds. He wishes us to consider that He has made it infinitely
remunerative for us to do so; that, by so doing, we become recipients of the
largest blessings He can confer and we can receive. There is so much of contrast
as well as comparison between the blessings of the old and the new dispensations,
that we must divide our subject into two parts.
PEOPLE. These were importantly spiritual, but prominently temporal. If
they did but “walk in His statutes, and keep His commandments, and do
them” (v. 3), they might reckon on:
ü fertility in the field (vs. 4-5, 10);
ü sense of security from without and disturbance from within
(safety and peace, vs. 5-6);
ü victory in war (vs. 7-8);
ü national growth (v. 9);
ü God’s presence with them (vs. 11-12);
ü His pleasure in them (v. 11); and
ü His guarantee of their liberty and self-respect (v. 13).
temporal, but principally spiritual. They include:
ü Sufficiency of worldly substance. God does not now say, “Serve me, and
you shall be strong, wealthy, long-lived,” but He does say, “Seek ye first
added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). “Godliness has promise of the life
that now is” (I Timothy 4:8). Those who are His children in Christ
Jesus may reckon upon all needful support from His bountiful hand.
ü Consciousness of spiritual integrity. As God made His people to be
delivered from the yoke and to “go upright” (v. 13), so He makes those
who have returned to Him, and who have escaped from the yoke of sin, to
“walk in uprightness of heart.” Instead of shrinking in fear, bowing down
with a depressing sense of wrong-doing, we have a happy consciousness of
integrity of soul. We say with the psalmist, “As for me, thou upholdest
me in mine integrity.” (Psalm 41:12).
ü Sense of reconciliation with God. God promises peace and a sense of
safety (vs. 5-6) to those who seek His favor in Christ Jesus. Being
justified by faith in Him, we have peace with God (Romans 5:1); and we
know that, whatever may be our circumstances, we are secure behind
the shield of His almighty love.
ü Victory in the battle of life. If it be not wholly true that “our life is but a
battle and a march,” yet it is true that there is so much of spiritual struggle
in it, from its beginning to its close, that we all understand only too well
what is meant by “the battle of life.” There are many foes with which to
wrestle (Ephesians 6:12), and we need the invigorating power which
only the Spirit of the Strong One can impart. If we are His, He will help us
in the strife. “Our enemies will fall before us” (v. 7; see II Corinthians 2:14
and Romans 8:37).
ü His presence with us and His pleasure in us. “God will set his tabernacle
among us;” He “will walk among us” (vs. 11-12). He will be “with us
always,” and His sustaining presence will uphold us in the darkest hour, in
the most trying scene. “His soul will not abhor us” (v. 11); He will take
Divine pleasure in us; we shall be His children, His guests, His friends, His
heirs. (“...heirs, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” – Romans 8:17)
ü An everlasting heritage in Him. He will be our God (v. 12). The
sacred page does not speak of any duration; but that which is adumbrated
in the Old Testament is revealed in the New. Jesus Christ has brought life
and immortality out into the light (II Timothy 1:10) and we know that
“him that overcometh will the Son of man make a pillar in the temple
of his God, and he shall go no more out,” etc. (Revelation 3:12), and that
“to him that overcometh will He grant to sit with Him on his throne,” etc.
(ibid. ch. 3:21). The present and the future, the best of the one and THE
WHOLE OF THE OTHER are the heritage of those who “know the will
of God and do it.” Surely it is the choice of the wise to “make haste and
delay not to keep His commandments.” (Psalm 119:60)
Punishment in Its First Degree (vs. 14-17)
14 But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments;
15 And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so
that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant:
16 I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption,
and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart:
(a proverbial expression for great distress - see I Samuel 2:33) — and ye shall sow
your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. (see Jeremiah 5:17, and Micah 6:15,
“Thou shalt sow, but thou shalt not reap; thou shalt tread the olives, but thou shalt
not anoint thee with oil”)…
17 And I will set my face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies:
(as took place often in their after history, see Judges 2:14; 3:8; 4:2); “they that hate
you shall reign over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you.
Punishment in the Second Degree (vs. 18-20)
18 And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven
times more for your sins. 19 And I will break the pride of your power; and I will
make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass (the result of no rain in a land
scorched by the fiery Eastern sun): 20 And your strength shall
be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees
of the land yield their fruits. (Compare I Kings 8:35; Haggai 1:10-11).
Punishment in Its Third Degree (vs. 21-22)
21 And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me; I will bring
seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins. 22 I will also
send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy
your cattle, and make you few in number. So in the case of the Assyrians
the Lord: therefore the Lord sent lions among them, which slew some of them”
(II Kings 17:25) — and your high ways shall be desolate. Compare Judges 5:6,
“In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways
were unoccupied, and the travelers walked through byways.”
Punishment in Its Fourth Degree (vs. 23-26)
23 And if ye will not be reformed by me by these things, but will walk contrary
unto me; 24 Then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet
seven times for your sins.” 25 And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall
avenge the quarrel of my covenant: and when ye are gathered together within
your cities, I will send the pestilence among you; and ye shall be delivered into
the hand of the enemy. (That is, ye shall go into captivity) 26 And when I have
broken the staff of your bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven
(whereas in ordinary times one oven was only sufficient for one woman’s baking),
and they shall deliver you your bread again by weight (rationed): and ye shall
eat, and not be satisfied.” The famine that is to come upon them is described
as making ten women bake bread in one oven, ——See II Kings 6:25; Isaiah 3:1;
Jeremiah 14:18; and as illustrative of the last point, Ezekiel 4:16, “Behold, I will
break the staff of bread in
with care; and they shall drink water by measure, and with astonishment.”
Compare Ezekiel 5:12, “A third part of thee shall die with pestilence, and with
famine shall they be consumed in the midst of thee: and a third part shall fall
by the sword round about thee; and I will scatter a third part into all the winds,
and I will draw out a sword after them.” (for good measure – CY – 2017)
Our God and Ourselves (vs. 23-24)
The text suggests the question, How far does God’s treatment of us depend on our
attitude towards Him? And the answer must be somewhat complex.
IRRESPECTIVE OF OUR CONDUCT TOWARD HIM. He has done
much for us from the promptings of His own generous and beneficent
nature. As the sun gives light because it is light, regardless of the objects
on which it shines, so our God, who is a Sun (Psalm 84:11), is sending
forth beams of truth, love, beauty, happiness, because in Him is all fullness,
and from that abundance there must flow blessing and bounty on every
hand (see Psalm 103:10-11; Matthew 5:45).
ON OUR ATTITUDE TOWARD HIM.
ü Right feeling on our part is reciprocated with kind feeling on His. If we
love Him, He will love us and come to us (John 14:23).
ü Rebellious conduct on our part brings down adverse action on His part.
If we “will walk contrary to him, he will walk contrary to us, and punish
us for our sins.” The greater part of this chapter (vs. 14-39) is a terrible
admonition that, if we provoke God by our willful disobedience, we must
expect to find His hand against us in all the paths of life, OUR
GROWING INIQUITY meeting with His multiplying wrath and
ü Repentant action on our part is met by returning favor on His
(Jeremiah 3:22; Joel 2:12-14; Isaiah 44:22; 55:7). Let the prodigal
son arise to return, and, “while yet a great way off,” the heavenly
Father will run to meet and to welcome him (Luke 15:20).
ACCORDING TO THE RECTITUDE OF OUR SOULS TOWARD HIM.
As men seem to us to be just or unjust, kind or unkind, according to the
position we occupy toward them, so also does the Father of spirits. “All
the paths of the Lord are (and are seen to be) mercy and truth unto such
as keep His covenant and His testimonies” (Psalm 25:10). But the ways
of the Lord will seem “contrary” to the rebellious. With the merciful man
God shows Himself merciful; with the froward He shows Himself froward
(Psalm 18:26). The guilty will exclaim against the inequality of God’s
dealings (Ezekiel 33:17). He will seem unjust because they are unholy,
because their spirit is false and wrong (Matthew 20:15). Those who
fear God and love His Son their Saviour, join in the psalm of the Church on
earth, “The Lord is righteous in all His ways,… His tender mercies are over
all His works” (Psalm 145:17, 9); they anticipate the strain of the Church in
heaven, “Just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints” (Revelation 15:3).
Punishment in Its Fifth Degree (vs. 27-33)
27 And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me, but walk contrary unto me;
28 Then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise
you seven times for your sins. 29 And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and
the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat.” - We find that this threat was fulfilled
by the Chaldaeans, and of the later siege by the Romans (see Lamentations 2:20;
4:10; Josephus, ‘
commanded by Titus. The tale is only one account of the horrors suffered at
Jerusalem in the summer of 70. Josephus relates that there was a Mary, daughter
originally from the
the Jordan River, who had previously fled to
and fortune, her property, treasures and food had been plundered by the Jewish
defenders of the city during the siege. Famine was “eating her heart out, and rage
consuming her still faster”. Maddened by hunger she took the infant at her breast
and said to him: “Poor little mite! In war, famine, and civil strife why should I
keep you alive? With the Romans there is only slavery and that only if alive
when they come; but famine is forestalling slavery, and the partisans are crueler
than either. Come you must be food for me, to the partisans an avenging spirit,
and to the world a tale, the only thing left to fill up the measure of Jewish misery”.
And in “defiance to all natural feeling” she killed her son, then roasted him and
ate one half, hiding the rest. Almost immediately the rebels appeared (“sniffing
the unholy smell”) and threatened to kill her on the spot unless she revealed
what she had prepared. As she uncovered what was left of the child she offered
them a share. They left her in horror and the “entire city could not stop thinking
of this crime and abomination”. When the news reached the Romans, “some
refused to believe, some were distressed but on most the effect was to add
enormously to their detestation” of the enemy at hand. Titus disclaimed all
responsibility as he had repeatedly offered peace and amnesty for surrender.
(Prophesied 1561 years before its occurence - I bet you think we are beyond that!
Then you do not know what sin is and its effects, nor do you have much confidence
in THE GOD OF ALL THE EARTH! Without God in your life, the will to survive
will cause you to do unimaginable things. CY – 2017)
30 And I will destroy your high places - By high places is meant the tops of hills or
eminences chosen for worship, whether of Jehovah (see Judges 6:26; I Kings 3:2;
II Kings 12:3; I Chronicles 21:26), or of false gods. The high places intended here
are the spots where the “sun-images” were erected (see II Chronicles 14:5; Isaiah
17:8; Ezekiel 6:4), and cut down your images, and cast your carcasses
upon the carcasses of your idols (that is, they should roll in the dust together)
and my soul shall abhor you. 31 And I will make your cities waste (as
which are to be desolated, is meant all the consecrated things: the holy of holies, the
holy place, the court, the ark, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt sacrifice - “and I
will not smell the savor of your sweet odors. So in Jeremiah 6:20, “To what
purpose cometh there to me incense
country? your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet”
(compare Isaiah 1:11-15) 32 And I will bring the land into desolation: (compare
Jeremiah 9:11): - and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it.
(Compare Ezekiel 5:15). 33 And I will scatter you among the heathen” See
Jeremiah 9:16, “I will scatter them also among the heathen, whom neither
they nor their fathers have known: and I will send a sword after them, till I have
consumed them.” (At one time in my lifetime – one fourth of the world’s Jews
and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste.
34 Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be
in your enemies’ land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths.
35 As long as it lieth desolate it shall rest; because it did not rest in your
sabbaths, when ye dwelt upon it.” The land had not participated in the sins of
its inhabitants. The latter had thought that, by the neglect of the sabbatical years,
they had enriched themselves by the fruits of those years which would otherwise
have been wasted. The result was that they lost the land altogether for a period
equal to that during which it ought to have kept sabbath, and the land “as long
as she lay desolate kept sabbath, to fulfill threescore and ten years” (II Chronicles
36:21). From the entrance into the holy land until the Babylonish Captivity
there elapsed eight hundred and sixty-three years, in which time there ought to have
been kept one hundred and twenty-three sabbatical years. As only seventy are made
up by the duration of the Captivity, it may be concluded that fifty-three sabbatical
years were observed by the Israelites; but this conclusion is very doubtful. It is more
likely that seventy, being a multiple of the sacred number seven, was regarded as
sufficient to purge all previous neglects, whatever they might have been.
The Final Punishment (vs. 36-39)
36 And upon them that are left alive of you (that is, the surviving captives and
exiles), I will send a faintness into their hearts (so Ezekiel 21:7, “And every heart
shall melt, and all hands shall be feeble, and every spirit shall faint, and all
knees shall be weak as water) - in the lands of their enemies; and the sound of a
shaken leaf shall chase them; and they shall flee, as fleeing from a sword; and
they shall fall when none pursueth. (Compare the blessings and cursings of
Deuteronomy 28 – CY – 2010) 37 And they shall fall one upon another, as it
were before a sword, when none pursueth: and ye shall have no power to stand
before your enemies. 38 And ye shall perish among the heathen, and the land of
your enemies shall eat you up. 39 And they that are left of you shall pine away
in their iniquity in your enemies’ lands and also in the iniquities of their fathers
shall they pine away with them.” This is the concluding threat. It is conditional in
its nature, and the condition having been fulfilled, we may say with reverence that
IT HAS BEEN ACOMPLISHED! Those of the ten tribes who did not find their
have been eaten up by the land of their enemies, and have pined away
in their enemies’ lands. Neither they nor their descendants are to be found in
any part of the globe, however much investigation may employ itself in searching
for them. They have been absorbed by the populations among which they were
Prophetic Maledictions (vs. 14-39)
The promises of God are prophecies of good; so are His threatening prophecies of evil.
Prophecy, therefore, gives no countenance to fatalism, since it is made to depend upon
conditions. God may, therefore, repent Him of evils threatened, viz. when sinners repent
of the sin that provoked Him. So long as the Hebrews were faithful to their God, they
found Him faithful in mercy; when they rebelled, they found Him no less faithful
IN JUDGMENT! What a commentary upon the verses before us is the history of the
Israelites! Let us review:
For their rebellion:
ü They were to be visited with plagues.
Ø The plague of TERROR. This is the natural plague of a guilty
conscience. The apprehension of formidable judgments.
Ø Of CONSUMPTION. This term expresses all chronic diseases.
Ø Of BURNING AGUE. This describes those diseases which are
more acute. All these plagues are to “consume the eyes, and
cause sorrow of heart.” (v. 16)
ü They were to suffer from invasion.
Ø The SWORD of the ENEMY was to consume them. How
fearfully they suffered under the judges, under the kings, and
Ø The EXTRACTIONS of the TYRANT were to distress them.
When the INVADERS MASTERED THEM how grievously
were they oppressed!
ü They were to encounter the anger of their God.
Ø The plague and the sword of the enemy could not otherwise
have visited them.
Ø But in the source itself there is the most formidable terror.
“I will set my face against you.” (v. 17)
ü Their obstinacy was to bring upon them aggravated evils.
Ø The land was to become unfruitful. For the heaven was
to be like iron, which might reflect the glare of heat, but could
distil no rain or dew.
Ø Wild beasts were to come among them. When the people
become diminished by war and pestilence and famine, wild
animals multiply and become formidable (see Numbers 21:6;
II Kings 17:25; Ezekiel 5:17).
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:31) Rather
LET US SEEK HIS MERCY!
ü They were to be scattered amongst the heathen (v. 33).
Ø Thus ten of the tribes were carried away by the Assyrians.
Ø The two remaining tribes were afterwards removed by the Babylonians.
Ø Some of these returned under Ezra and Nehemiah, and were ultimately
carried away by the Romans.
ü The sword was to/follow them there.
Ø The sword of war.
Ø The sword of persecution. So they suffered from pagans, from papists,
ü They were to suffer astonishment (vs. 36-39).
Ø Faintness of heart, suspicion of danger where it existed not,
susceptibility to panic.
Ø Pining in terror.
Ø Perishing through the rapacity of their enemies.
ü Their sufferings were to be protracted.
Ø The land was to enjoy her sabbaths, Houbigant observes how literally
this was fulfilled in the seventy years of the Babylonish Captivity.
“From Saul to the Babylonish Captivity are numbered about four
hundred and ninety years, during which period there were seventy
sabbaths of years; for seven, multiplied by seventy, make four
hundred and ninety. Now, the Babylonish Captivity lasted seventy
years, and during that time the
land rested just as many years in the Babylonish
Captivity as it should have rested sabbaths if the Jews had
observed the law relative to the sabbaths of the land.”
Ø The longer term of “seven times” thrice repeated (vs.21, 24, 28)
is also notable. These are the “times of the Gentiles,” during
ü Meanwhile their land was to lie desolate (vs. 31-35).
Ø Such has been its history, under the Romans, under the
Saracens, under the Crusaders, under the Turks.
Ø Who but God could have foreseen all this?
HOW UNREASONABLE IS UNBELIEF!
Divine Retribution (vs. 14-39)
The Divine Legislator of Israel knew well that He must contemplate
disobedience as well as obedience to His laws. When He had intimated the
fullness of the reward He would bestow on the faithful, He was compelled
to pass on to “But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do,” etc. It
is sad to think that it did not need Divine prescience to foretell this issue.
Human disobedience is too constantly occurring a factor in human history
to require that: it may always be safely assumed. We have now to deal with
God’s treatment of it; and we see:
God always says to us, “If ye will not do my commandments, I will set my
face against you.” To the Israelites he threatened specifically:
ü bodily sickness;
ü unprofitable labor;
ü defeat in battle;
ü subjection to a hated rule;
ü ignominious terror and flight.
If we sin we must expect to suffer in mind, body, or estate. Guilt and
misery are necessarily conjoined. Sin deserves to suffer: there needs no
further explanation of suffering than that God’s holy and righteous Law
has been transgressed. Yet, while the Divine Lawgiver visits sin with
retribution because it is right that it should receive this mark of His holy
disapproval, it is also true:
ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me” (v. 18). Then it is clear that
these providential visitations would be meant to lead to a better spirit, to a
disposition to hearken and to obey. God, when He punishes, not only does
an act of righteous retribution, which His position as Supreme Judge
demands of Him, but He also does that which He desires shall lead to
penitence and restoration. He smites us in one member that He may heal us
altogether. He takes away a little that He may give very largely, He sends
passing pain that He may give enduring joy. God’s retributions are His
“corrections,” His paternal chastisements, His strong but kind admonitions.
By them He lays His hand upon us and says to us, in tones we cannot fail to
understand, “Repent and return, and be restored.” But we learn from these
CORRECTION. “If ye will not yet for all this hearken” (v. 18); “if ye
will not hearken unto me” (v. 21); “if ye will not be reformed by me by
these things” (v. 23). Often men do listen and learn and obey when God
comes to them in sickness or in sorrow; but only too often they do not.
They continue in or revert to their evil course, they fall again into crime,
into vice, into unconcern, into indecision.
OBDURATE (stubbornly refusing to change one's opinion or course of action)
IMPENITENCE. He gave to His people fair and full warning of what they
were to expect at His hand. They knew that obduracy on their part would
entail gathering and growing evils, leading on and down to uttermost
destruction. There would come:
ü the enmity of the elements, with consequent disaster in the field
ü desolation and bereavement (v. 22);
ü pestilence and famine (vs. 25-26);
ü revolting and unnatural cruelties wrought among themselves
ü exile and dispersion (v. 33);
ü terror of soul (vs. 36-37); and,
ü national destruction and impending extinction (vs. 38-39).
These solemn and fearful threatenings are, no doubt, directed against
in privilege and opportunity, so He “brought it down to hell” in condemnation
and doom. (Matthew 11:23) But when we remember with what retribution
God visited the sins of the antediluvian world, of the cities of the plain,
the Canaanites, the great cities of
recall the sufferings and humiliations He has brought down on lands
and cities in more modern times, we may conclude that those nations
which will not learn when God speaks to them in wrath and in “His high
displeasure” may look forward to a time of gathering disaster and final ruin.
God’s retributive dealings with nations have their counterpart in His action
toward individual lives. Men who sin and suffer, and who will not learn by
the things they suffer, may take to heart the truth that God’s manifested
wrath will reach them here or will overtake them hereafter; they may well
wish that it may arrive soon rather than late, for as time passes and as sin
hardens and blinds the soul, there is the less likelihood that the sacred
lesson will be learned before death shuts the book of opportunity, and
eternity opens that other book of judgment and award.
40 If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their
trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked
contrary unto me; 41 And that I also have walked contrary unto them, and
have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised
hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity:
42 Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with
Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will
remember the land. God’s pardon will, even yet, as always, follow upon confession
of sin and genuine repentance. They must recognize not only that they have sinned,
but that their sufferings have been a punishment for those sins at God’s hand. This
will work in them humble acquiescence in God’s doings, and then He will remember
His covenant with Jacob, and also His covenant with Isaac, and also His covenant
with Abraham, and for the sake of the covenant of their ancestors, He will not cast
them away, neither will He abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break His
covenant with them. 43 The land also shall be left of them, and shall enjoy her
sabbaths, while she lieth desolate without them: and they shall accept of the
punishment of their iniquity: because, even because they despised my judgments,
and because their soul abhorred my statutes. 44 And yet for all that, when they
be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor
them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them: for I am
the LORD their God. 45 But I will for their sakes remember the covenant of
their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the
of the heathen, that I might be their God: I am the LORD.” Whether Jewish
repentance has been or ever will be so full as to obtain this blessing, cannot be decided
now. Perhaps it may be the case that all the blessings promised by Moses and by future
prophets to repentant and restored
4:11), seeing that “God is able of stones to raise up children unto Abraham” (Matthew
3:9). (The next verse is the closing paragraph of the Book of Leviticus; to which
another chapter has been added in the form of an appendix, on the subject of vows.)
46 These are the statutes and judgments and laws, which the LORD made
between Him and the children of
Temporal Rewards and Punishments (vs. 1-46)
(See Ecclesiastes 8:11; Isaiah 48:18; Matthew 5:44-45; and I Timothy 4:8. There is in
this chapter a distinct assertion of moral
government exercised over
obeyed God’s Law, He would grant them great temporal blessing; if they disobeyed,
He would send them sore chastisement; but if after disobedience they became penitent,
He would remember their fathers and His covenant with them, and receive their penitent
seed into favor again. The whole question, consequently, of the “method of the Divine
government” is hereby raised. And here let us remark:
WERE EXECUTED WITH BECOMING LEISURE AND
DELIBERATION. It is along the lines of natural law, as distinguished
from miracle, that He proposes to execute His decisions. If the people prove
obedient, then they are to have:
ü bountiful harvests;
ü national triumph and consequent peace;
ü riddance of the beasts of the field, so far as they would injure their crops;
ü great increase of the population; and
ü the enjoyment of religious ordinances.
On the other hand, if the people prove disobedient, they are to have
ü devastation by wild beasts;
ü famine in its most fearful forms; and
ü a sabbatic desolation in the Lord’s land.
Now, it is to the leisurely and deliberate element in the rewards and the punishments
that we direct attention. If God chose to execute His sentences speedily, if obedience
got its reward immediately, if disobedience got its punishment without one moment’s
delay, — then men would have no room for question, and no room for moral
education and decision. Such a childish regulation would doubtless prevent a large
amount of evil in the world, but it would keep men children always. It is a pitiable
stage of education when the child insists on seeing its reward before it obeys, and
requires the immediate “slap” to prevent disobedience. If men are to be trained morally,
they must be asked to take upon credit God’s promises and threatenings, and decide
in the interval before He is pleased to act. This leaves room for a large amount of evil.
“Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart
of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil” (Ecclesiastes 8:11). Men may say,
because God does not show quickly His hand, that He may possibly not show it at all.
Hence they sin and say, “The Lord shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob
regard it” (Psalm 94:7). The Lord’s delay is interpreted as Divine indifference.
This is one of the evils due to man’s sinful heart exercising its freedom under a
truly paternal government. Instead of God’s goodness in the delay leading men to
repentance, it is allowed to foster a hope that He will resign the reins of government
altogether and sit indifferently by, while men do as they please. An instance of this
tendency to misinterpretation is afforded by Professor Tyndall, in his ‘Fragments of
Science,’ where he has the audacity to deduce from Matthew 5:45, “He maketh His
sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the
unjust,” as the doctrine of the Master Himself, that “the distribution of natural
phenomena is not affected by moral or religious causes;” whereas the context
shows that the whole arrangement is prompted by love towards His enemies,
that they may be induced to become His friends. Men get easily warped in
their interpretations, and miss the point, or WANT TO MISS IT! On the
other hand, God’s delay in making good His promises and threatenings affords an
opportunity for humiliation and faith. When men believe He will be as good and as
severe as He says, then they humble themselves under His mighty hand, and supplicate
His forgiveness. When also, as His forgiven ones, they try to the best of their ability to
obey Him, then the delay of the promised blessing enables them to cultivate the
“patience of hope” (I Thessalonians 1:3) and thus to complete their character. If,
therefore, there are drawbacks through man’s sin on the one side, there are vast
advantages to human character on the other attending this arrangement.
THE AIR OF FINALITY ABOUT THEM. Notwithstanding the special
pleading of Warburton and his followers about the temporal character of
the Divine judgments among the Jews, and their consequent ignorance
about a future life, it is evident on the face of the judgments that they are
not final. Little children perishing and eaten in the sieges (v. 29) could
not be regarded surely as a final judgment. Children suffering for their
parents’ sins could not be regarded as a final judgment. In truth, God’s
judgments among the Jews, like His judgments still, were imperfect, and
designedly so. “For observe,” says the Rev. Charles Wolfe, “if we found
every man in this life received just what he deserved, and every evil work
always brought swift punishment along with it, what should we naturally
conclude? There is no future punishment in store. I see nothing wanting;
every man has already received the due reward of his works; everything is
already complete, and, therefore, there is nothing to be done in the next
world. Or if, on the other hand, there were no punishment visited upon sin
at all in this world, we might be inclined to say, Tush, God hath forgotten;
He never interferes amongst us; we have no proof of His hatred of sin, or of
His determination to punish it; He is gone away far from us, and has left us
to follow our own wills and imaginations. So that if sentences were either
perfectly executed on earth, or not executed at all, we might have some
reason for saying that there was a chance of none in a future world. But
now it is imperfectly executed; just so much done as to say, ‘You are
watched; my eye is upon you; I neither slumber nor sleep (Psalm 121:4);
and my vengeance slumbereth not.’ And yet, at the same time, there is
so little done, that a man has to look into eternity for the accomplishment.”
ARE NOT PARDONED SIMPLY ON THE GROUND OF THEIR
PENITENCE. The Lord contemplates the Jewish defection as practically
certain. At the same time, He holds out the hope of the penitent people
being restored to favor (vs. 40-46). But it is surely significant that
penitence is expressly shown not to be the ground of acceptance.
Doubtless it is the condition; but were it the sole ground of acceptance, as
it is confidently asserted to be, it is not easy to see why in such a case as
that now before us God would speak about remembering their fathers, and
throwing the radiance, so to speak, of their obedience round about their
children (vs. 42, 45). It is evident the penitents, even after they have
been punished, cannot stand alone. And in truth, when the whole matter of
acceptance is analyzed, it is seen to rest upon a covenant of sacrifice. The
sacrifices of the covenant; as we have already seen, point unmistakably to a
suffering Substitute, the glory of whose merits must encircle all accepted
ones. In a word, we are led straight to JESUS, THE LAMB OF GOD by
whose blood we are redeemed and received into covenant relations.
“Accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6), we are careful to “abstain from
the very appearance of evil” (I Thessalonians 5:22) and in the exercise of
new obedience we find a triumphant power bestowed. When we hearken
to His commandments our peace flows like a river, and our righteousness
becomes resistless like the waves of the sea (Isaiah 48:18). (This is quite
a contrast of the wicked which are “like the troubled sea, when it cannot
rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.” - ibid. ch. 57:20) We find that
“godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that
now is, and of that which is to come” (I Timothy 4:8).
Promises and Threatenings (vs. 3-46)
In this chapter the prophet looks forward, and declares how God would deal with His
people; which should be according to the way in which they should act. In II Chronicles
36:14-21, the chronicler looks back, and shows how God had dealt with them; which
had been according to the way in which they had acted. The promises and the
threatenings are to the nation, not to individuals; and the prophetical assurance is that
national obedience to God shall bring about national happiness and prosperity,
and that disobedience shall cause the RUIN OF THE NATION. In spite of the rough,
wild times of the Judges, and of the apostasy of Saul, the heart of the nation was on the
whole loyal to Jehovah till the end of the days of Solomon. And till that time there was
an upward growth in the flourishing estate of the people — their wealth, their power,
their prosperity, their happiness. In the latter days of Solomon, outwardly glorious
as they were, DECAY AND CORRUPTION BEGAN. (This sounds very familiar to
me having lived with awareness of what is going on since the 1950’s, this being
2010 – CY) King and people were alike affected by the splendid despotism which
one wielded and under which the other flourished in material prosperity. In that
prosperity they forgot the source of it. (Compare Deuteronomy 6:10-12) The king
himself pushed his tolerance for foreign habits into idolatry, “His wives turned away
his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God,
as was the heart of David his father.… And the Lord was angry with (992 B.C.)
Solomon, because his heart was turned from the
Lord God of
11:4-9). Like prince, like people; a general relaxation of moral fiber and religious zeal
ensued throughout the kingdom. “the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests
bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will
you do in the end thereof?” (Jeremiah 5:31) - Its culminating point had been
reached, and now there followed the rapid descent and fall which resulted from
disobedience. The first step to ruin (930 B.C) was the great schism, from the effects of
which neither the northern nor the southern kingdom ever recovered. (This also sounds
familiar in 2010 –CY – 2010 – as a footnote, now it is worse in 2017- CY – 2017)
(compare I Kings 16:21-22) - “Then were
the people of
half of the people followed Tibni the son of Ginath, to make him king; and half
followed Omri. But the people that followed Omri prevailed against the people
that followed Tibni ….so Tibni died, and Omri reigned” - (this in reference to the
modern blue states and red states in
country in Omri fashion!!!!!????? – CY – 2010; 2017) Then followed the various
apostasies and punishments. In the southern kingdom, (972 B.C.) “Rehoboam
forsook the Law of the
Lord, and all
in the fifth year
of King Rehoboam, Shishak
Jehoram (896 B.C.) - “walked in the
way of the kings of
house of Ahab (for he had the daughter of Ahab to wife): and he wrought that
which was evil in the eyes of the Lord.… In his days the Edomites revolted.…
Moreover the Lord stirred up against Jehoram the spirit of the Philistines, and
of the Arabians,
that were near the Ethiopians: and they came up into
and brake into it” (2 Chronicles 21:6-17). In the latter days of Joash, (878 B.C)
“they left the house of the Lord God of their fathers, and served
groves and idols: and
wrath came upon
trespass And it came to
pass at the end of the year, that the host of
up… with a small company of men, and the Lord delivered a very great host into
their hand, because they had forsaken the Lord God of their fathers” (II Chronicles
24:18-24). In the reign of Amaziah, (827
Ahaz (741 B.C – I recommend the II Chronicles 28 Spurgeon Sermon – That King
Ahaz – this web site - CY – 2010) “made molten images for Baalim wherefore
the Lord his God
delivered him into the hand of the King of
the hand of the
of Manasseh, (698 B.C. ) “the Lord spake to Manasseh, and to his PEOPLE:
but they would not hearken. Wherefore the Lord brought upon them the
captains of the host of
the King of
these partial chastisements having failed to bring about reformation, came the
BABYLONISH CAPTIVITY. (588 B.C.) - “The Lord God of their fathers
sent to them by His messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because
He had compassion on His people, and on His dwelling place: but they
mocked the messengers of God, and despised His words, and misused His
prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, TILL THERE
WAS NO REMEDY. Therefore He brought upon them the King of the
Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary,
and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped
for age: He gave them all into his hand And them that had escaped from the
sword carried he
northern kingdom were even greater than those of the southern kingdom, and their final
punishment, therefore, fell upon them earlier. “For so it was, that the children of
had sinned against the Lord their God,… and walked in the statutes of the
heathen for they served idols, whereof the Lord had said unto them, Ye shall
not do this thing And they rejected His statutes, and His covenant that He made
with their fathers Therefore the Lord was very angry,… and removed them out
of his sight” – [721 B.C.] - (2 Kings 17:7-18). This occurred in the reign of Hoshea,
and in the case of the ten tribes we find no symptoms of repentance under suffering.
The two tribes produced a Daniel; and his prayer for the forgiveness of his people.
(Daniel 9:2-19) illustrates the feelings of the better of his fellow-captives; and therefore,
according to the promise of here in vs. 40-42, God remembered His covenant with Jacob,
and Isaac, and Abraham, and raised up Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah to effect the
restoration; while the ten tribes pined away in the land of their captivity. Thus
was fulfilled. God deals with other
nations as with
have not the inspired record of His dealings. While
she flourished; when she
turned to sophistry, she PERISHED! While
order and law throughout the globe, she grew in strength; when she submitted to the
sway of arbitrary despots, SHE FELL! What is Engand’s (The United States)
mission in the world? To disseminate at once true religion and true liberty. As
long as she does this, she will receive God’s blessing. As soon as she fails to fulfill
the purpose of her existence as a nation, she will be withdrawn from the scene, and
another instrument raised up in her stead. (with one disclaimer – in this age it seems
as if IT IS THE LAST TIMES and therefore the world is over – the theme of this
web site is THE TIME IS SHORT - CY – 2010)
Sorrow unto Salvation (vs. 40-45)
The chastisements of God, like the gospel of Jesus Christ, are either a
savor of life unto life or of death unto death; they either make or mar;
they may sanctify and save or they may leave the soul more bound in the
bonds of sin than ever. It is only godly sorrow — sorrow regarded in a true
light and treated in the way that God intended — that works repentance
unto salvation; otherwise it works death (II Corinthians 2:14-16; 7:10). The
right use of affliction is indicated in the text; there must be:
(v. 41). God seeks by His chastisements to break our pride, our
haughtiness of heart, our sinful self-complacency. Until this is done nothing
is done. When the soul is at ease in its iniquity, it is in a very “far country,”
a long way from God, truth, salvation. When trouble touches and pierces
our complacency, filling the soul with a sense of its rebelliousness, as soon
as the heart says, “I have sinned,” a large part of the work of the correcting
hand is wrought. Then necessarily and readily follows:
speaks. Too often men use the language of penitence when the feeling is
entirely absent. But He that searcheth the hearts makes due distinction
between the words which are true and those which are false. There is
nothing gained with God by adopting the language which we ought to be
disposed to use, but which does not express our actual condition;
everything unreal is offensive in His sight. But there is much gained by the
simple, natural, heartfelt utterance of penitential feeling. “If they shall
confess their iniquity,” etc. (vs. 40-42). “With the mouth confession is
made unto salvation” (Romans 10:10). The spirit thus taught of God
through His servant, sorrow, has now:
(v. 41). It says, “Surely it is meet to be said unto God, I have borne
chastisement, I will not offend any more: that which I see not teach thou
me,” etc. (Job 34:31-32). It is “in subjection unto the Father of spirits”
(Hebrews 12:9). It submits to His guidance and surrenders itself to His
will. And then comes:
As He remembered the covenant He made with the ancestors of the
anger from them, so He remembers His promise with us, sealed with a
Saviour’s blood, to pardon our sins and to restore our souls to His Divine
favor. Yet there are:
toward whom God was extending His mercy, “the land also was to be left
of them, and was to enjoy her sabbaths, while she lay desolate without
them” (v. 43). With us, when penitent and restored, when taken back
into the family and
sin which even Divine mercy does not, cannot remove — consequences in:
ü miserable memories which will visit the mind;
ü enfeebled faculty that must work in a lesser sphere with smaller
ü diminished reputation among men;
ü abiding results in those who have been injured, and who are beyond the
reach of our restoration, etc. While facing this solemn fact — a fact
which makes sin seem to us the stern, sad, hurtful thing it is — we may
nevertheless find a glad relief in recalling:
penal consequences of sin will be so removed from sight and sense that to
our consciousness they will exist no more. (Just the opposite of a penal
colony of history – a righteous colony – What a contrast! CY – 2017)
A penal colony is a settlement used to exile prisoners and separate them
from the general population by placing them in a remote location, often
an island or distant colonial territory – Wikipedia – Heaven has a different
design! May God be praised for ever! – CY – 2017). Sin and sorrow shall
never cross the stream that “divides that heavenly land from ours;” they must
always remain on this side of it. What will remain to us there is a remembrance
that will enhance our joy — a recollection of sin that has been forgiven,
and of sorrow that has been endured, both the one and the other
magnifying the mercy of OUR CROWNED AND EXALTED KING!
The curses of this chapter have proved prophetic. So, may we infer, will the blessings
prove. We may therefore hope to see the conversion of the Hebrews to Christ, their
restoration to their ancient inheritance, and the sun of prosperity shining brightly upon
ü Their personal iniquity.
Ø They will have many things to confess, as all sinners have.
They will “humble their uncircumcised heart” (see
Jeremiah 9:26; Romans 2:29).
Ø In particular they will confess their capital sin in rejecting
Christ. This crime filled up the measure of their fathers.
“His blood be on us and on our children” - (Matthew
ü The iniquity of their fathers.
Ø This was the same as their own. They will acknowledge
themselves, not in pride, but in penitence, to be the children
of their fathers.
Ø Instead of attempting to extenuate their sin because of the
example of their fathers, they will repent for the sin of their
fathers as well as for their own. This is in accordance with the
principle of the visitation of the iniquities of the fathers upon
ü The justice of God in their punishment.
Ø They acknowledge that they walked contrary to God (see Ezra 9;
Nehemiah 1:4; 9:1-2, 29; Daniel 9:3-19).
Ø That He has therefore walked contrary to them. Afflictions do
not spring out of the dust.
ü He will not destroy them utterly.
Ø His providence will be over them. What else could have
preserved them now for twenty centuries amidst untoward
circumstances? They are, notwithstanding their sufferings, as
numerous today as they were in the zenith of their prosperity in
the days of Solomon.
Ø The remnant of them shall be saved.
Ø How tender is the compassion of God! (Hosea 11:8-9).
ü He will reinstate them in their land.
Ø He will remember His land. For in the covenant they are
promised the land “forever.”
Ø Remembering the land also implies that it will recover its
ancient fruitfulness (see promises in vs. 4, 5, 10).
Ø In that condition it will be the appropriate type and pledge of
the heavenly country (see Isaiah 62:4).
ü He will make them a blessing in the earth.
Ø They will grow into a multitude.
Ø They will rejoice in spiritual blessings.
miracles of the Exodus from
(Micah 7:15, Zechariah 14:3)
Ø The heathen will be startled into thoughtfulness (v. 45).
Sixty-two times it says in Ezekiel “and they shall know
that I am the Lord”, and many of them have reference to
the last days! (I recommend: Ezekiel - God’s Use of the Word
Know - this website - #223 – CY – 2017)
Ø The heathen will once more learn the way of salvation from
the lips of Hebrews.
ü In all this they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.
Ø This is distinctly stated (v. 42; comp. Romans 11:26-29).
Ø The patriarchs of the covenant are referred to in the order of
ascent, viz. Jacob, Isaac, Abraham. Note: when the Jews in
humility confess themselves the children of their more recent
sinful fathers, God will acknowledge them as the children of
their earlier faithful ancestors.
Ø It is an encouragement to faith that the memory of DIVINE
MERCY is far reaching, yea, EVERLASTING!
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Ver. 11. —
God dwelling amongst men.
All possible methods were employed to attach the Israelites to the Law.
Solemnity of its promulgation, judgment executed on transgressors,
enticing promises and terrifying threats. Chief among inducements to
obedience was the promise of the text.
I. SETTING UP A TABERNACLE IMPLIES.
1. Settled residences in the midst of the people. This was more than an
occasional appearance on the mountain-top or in the wilderness. A tent is,
at least for a season, a fixed abode. The Almighty would never be far
distant from his lieges as he had seemed to be in preceding years.
2. Friendly, familiar intercourse with the people. He condescended to
their manner of life, inhabiting a home as they did, passing as it were from
one to the other. This is expressed in verse 12, “I will walk among you.”
Naught of pollution was suffered for the reason given in <052314>Deuteronomy
23:14, “The Lord thy God walketh in the midst of the camp.” A special
revelation of God is intimated, that he would be known, not as omnipresent
in space, but as peculiarly present, interchanging visits with his people.
3. The assurance of Divine blessing. Guidance, assistance, forgiveness, —
all are herein included. God would be always near to be entreated. At the
tabernacle sacrifices could be offered to purge away defilement. “The
heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify
shall be in the midst of them for evermore” (<263728>Ezekiel 37:28), God’s
presence is superior to any of his works; if we have him, we have all good
II. THE PEOPLE OF GOD MAY WELL WONDER THAT HE
SHOULD DELIGHT IN THEM AND NOT VIEW THEM WITH
ABHORRENCE. To abide with man would be impossible if disgust were
continually uppermost in the mind of God.
1. Consider man’s sinfulness. How repugnant to the pure and holy One of
often must he be shocked at the sights and sounds that gratify sinful
creatures? Peter, awakened to a sense of his unworthiness, cried out,
“Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”
2. Consider man’s imperfections, his ignorance and frailty, his dullness of
perception, his insensibility to refined and elevated tastes and emotions. If
one nurtured in good society revolts at the idea of close communion with
those inferior in the social scale, whoso manner of life and habits of
thinking are so different, how great must be the disparity between heaven
and earth! what a descent must God feel it to be to consort with creatures
of such petty selfish alms and. uncultured ways! Only real pitying love, a
desire to benefit and raise these miserable objects, a vision of what it was
possible for them to become by such fellowship with the Most High, could
have invested men with sufficient interest in the eyes of God to permit him
to dwell amongst them. If the people strive to fulfill the behests of the Law,
much of their degradation will vanish, and be succeeded by integrity and
righteousness, which shall gradually beautify their character and customs.
“My soul shall not abhor you,” if you honour my precepts by strict fidelity.
III. THE PROMISE VERIFIED.
1. In the local habitation of God at Shiloh
placed his Name and exhibited his power and favour.
2. In his personal manifestation in Christ Jesus. “In him dwelleth all the
fullness of the Godhead bodily.” “The Word… dwelt among us.” Then was
answered the question, “Will God in very deed dwell with man upon the
earth?” Christ sojourned like ourselves in a house of clay, mingling with
men and women in their daily tasks, sat at the same table with publicans
3. In the presence of God spiritually in the heart of the individual believer,
various assemblies, small or great, of the saints. “Where two or three are
gathered together in my Name, there am I in the midst of them.” The
grandest fulfillment will be when the Lord God Almighty shall himself
constitute the temple in which they shall offer their worship and service.
“He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among (spread his tabernacle
over) them.” No more hungering nor thirsting, no death, sorrow, nor
crying, when God shall thus absolutely completely draw near to his people.
HOMILIES BY R.A.
Vers. 1, 2. —
Command to maintain the public worship of Jehovah.
I. PURITY OF WORSHIP. No idols or images.
1. Spirituality of religion.
2. Dependence of man on revelation. The deistic position of natural
3. The worship of God should be the free and grateful remembrance of past
benefits received, therefore the leading elements of it should be faith and
praise, not, as in heathenism and corrupt Christian systems such as the
Roman Catholic, the slavish subjection of man to the fear of Divine wrath
and the mediation of priests.
II. CONSECRATION BOTH OF DAY AND PLACE. Sabbath and
1. As necessary on account of the weakness of our nature. We cannot keep
the mind above the world unless we are separated at times altogether from
2. The rallying point of fellowship. In the communion of saints there is
special spiritual help.
3. As maintaining the holy order of human life, giving distinction and
eminence to the highest things, predicting the future rest, revealing the
dependence of the bodily life on the life of the soul, and of the happiness of
earthly toil on the blessing of God.
4. The Christian sabbath as based on the resurrection of Christ has a new
form of obligation and a larger sphere of holy suggestion. It is not so much
commanded as vitally connected with the whole strength of Christian
motive. — R.
Vers. 3-39. —
Promises and threatenings.
Verse 12, “And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall
be my people.”
I. The true law of human life.
1. Religion the upholding support of individual, social, national well-being.
Natural laws subservient to higher ends. Ascending scale in the universe,
the physical the basis of the psychical, the psychical of the moral, the moral
of the spiritual.
2. The covenant relationship of God and man the only true form in which
the ideas of religion can be realized and maintained. Personality of God,
freedom of man. Interchange of confidence. Living communion. Support of
prayer, which should embrace all wants and possibilities.
3. Illustration of the connection between providence and religion in the
history both of individuals and nations. Importance of insisting on the
truths contained in this chapter as against secularism and fanaticism and
mysticism. Religion is objective as well as subjective. Tremendous fact
that, notwithstanding both the promises and threatenings,
keep the Law. Illustration of human fall and dependence on Divine grace.
II. Divine government.
3. Revealed in connection with a system of truth and actual promises
appealing to faith.
4. Embracing those who know not God, as well as his people. — R.
Ver. 21. —
I. Actually fulfilled in history of the Jews, especially at
II. Illustrating the moral nature of man as connected with a moral
III. Taken in order of announcement after the promises, reminding us that
God willeth not the death of a sinner. The brightness of the love on the
background of righteousness. — R.
Vers. 40-46. —
The gracious invitation to repentance.
The covenant may be restored. Even in the midst of the declarations of
Divine sovereignty and government, long-suffering mercy meets “the
earliest and faintest breathings of a broken and penitent spirit.”
I. Confirm by history (see Judges and Kings). The restoration from
II. The free grace of God is the foundation of hope; “I am the Lord their
God;” “I will remember;” “for all that I will not cast them away” “of faith,
that it might be by grace.”
III. The forgiveness of God dependent on the fulfillment of declared
conditions. “If they shall confess;” “if their uncircumcised heart be
1. Spirituality of religion maintained from the beginning.
2. The purpose and. end of all Divine chastisements to produce an
acceptable state of heart.
3. The true penitence was the true circumcision, in other words, it was a
renewal of the covenant, therefore included faith and acceptance of the
Divine revelation and ordinances, Repentance and faith are one in the
higher light of the gospel, for they are both “toward” the covenant in Christ
Jesus. — R.