Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the table of their heart, and upon the horns of your altars;Jeremiah 17:9
PÈre Pacheu quotes the saying of the Comte de Maistre: 'Whatever the conscience of a criminal may be, I know only the heart of an honest man, and it is a wretched and a fearful thing!'
A Bad Heart
I wish, firstly, to prove to you the truth of the words 'the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked'; secondly, to remind you that God knows what is within you—'I the Lord search the heart'; and, thirdly, the only remedy that can do you any good, if you would be saved.
I. As to the natural deceit and wickedness of every man, woman, and child that is born into the world, first and foremost what says the Scripture? You can hardly turn to a single part of Bible history in which this doctrine does not come uppermost. Look at the men before the flood! who would have thought, with Paradise as a witness before their eyes (for until the flood Paradise was on earth), who would have thought they could have turned their backs on God, and given themselves up to all manner of lusts and sin? And yet they did so, in spite of every warning, and God was obliged to drown the whole world, excepting eight persons. Look at the history of Israel, the chosen family itself. The Lord gave them judges and kings, and priests and prophets and ministers, and preachings and warnings; and yet their history, with a few exceptions, is a history of unbelief and backsliding and transgression and crime, down to the very day when they crucified the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
You can hardly turn to a single family, even of the best of God's servants, in which the natural corruption of our hearts does not appear more or less in some one of the branches. You can hardly turn to a single character, among the holy men described in the Bible, who did not, to his own horror and dismay, fall at one time or another. Job thought he knew his heart, but affliction came and he found he did not. David thought he knew his heart, but he learned by bitter experience how woefully he was mistaken. Peter thought he knew his heart, and in a short time he was repenting in tears.
II. We read, 'I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings'. There are two things written here: one is that, although you do not know your own hearts, the Lord God Almighty does, and keeps a close watch over them; the other is that He will one day call you to account, and judge you accordingly. And do you not observe here what the mind of the Spirit points to? Some men might say, God will not be extreme to mark what is amiss, I shall have peace though I walk in the imagination of mine heart; but the prophet sweeps away these refuges of lies by warning us of searching and of judgment immediately after he has declared to us the deceitfulness of man's heart.
III. 'Who can be saved?' All, I answer, who give up their iniquities, and grieve over them, and put their whole trust in Jesus Christ.
—J. C. Ryle, The Christian Race, p. 1.
Reference.—XVII. 9, 10.—C. Holland, Gleanings from a Ministry of Fifty Years, p. 55.
Jesus Christ Our Sanctuary (Kedesh)
The name Kedesh means set apart, a sanctuary, a holy city.
I. The first thought connected with sanctuary is that it is a sacred or consecrated place. But the word sanctuary has a wider meaning. It is a sacred asylum or refuge, a place of protection.
II. Jesus Christ is the true Sanctuary. He fulfils all that the city of refuge suggested.. He is our Kedesh, our place of refuge, our sanctuary, our sacred place.
The altar was the meeting place between God and the transgressor, where the innocent victim was offered in the place of the guilty sinner. So Christ is the true altar, the meeting place between God and man, the one and only Priest, the one and only Sacrifice, the one and only Atonement for sin. To grasp the altar horns was to lay hold of God's strength and to rest under the shadow of His protecting love. So Christ is at once our shelter and our strength. He surrounds the believer as with a temple wall, keeps him in safety from all enemies and in peace amidst all alarms.
The temple was God's sanctuary of old. It represented God dwelling in the midst of Israel, and Israel drawing near to God in the appointed way. Christ is the true sanctuary. His Manhood, 'The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,' is the 'tabernacle of meeting' between man and God.
Kedesh, the city of the holy place of the sanctuary, points to Jesus the holy one of God, who is our one and only Refuge, the strong tower of the Lord in which we are safe for time and for eternity.
—W. J. Armitage, The Cities of Refuge, p. 25.
References.—XVII. 12.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—Isaiah and Jeremiah, p. 311. XVII. 12-14.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxx. No. 1786. XVII. 13.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—Isaiah and Jeremiah, p. 319- XVII. 14.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxviii. No. 1658.
Whilst their children remember their altars and their groves by the green trees upon the high hills.
O my mountain in the field, I will give thy substance and all thy treasures to the spoil, and thy high places for sin, throughout all thy borders.
And thou, even thyself, shalt discontinue from thine heritage that I gave thee; and I will cause thee to serve thine enemies in the land which thou knowest not: for ye have kindled a fire in mine anger, which shall burn for ever.
Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.
For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.
Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.
For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool.
A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary.
O LORD, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters.
Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise.
Behold, they say unto me, Where is the word of the LORD? let it come now.
As for me, I have not hastened from being a pastor to follow thee: neither have I desired the woeful day; thou knowest: that which came out of my lips was right before thee.
Be not a terror unto me: thou art my hope in the day of evil.
Let them be confounded that persecute me, but let not me be confounded: let them be dismayed, but let not me be dismayed: bring upon them the day of evil, and destroy them with double destruction.
Thus said the LORD unto me; Go and stand in the gate of the children of the people, whereby the kings of Judah come in, and by the which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem;
And say unto them, Hear ye the word of the LORD, ye kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, that enter in by these gates:
Thus saith the LORD; Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem;
Neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the sabbath day, neither do ye any work, but hallow ye the sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers.
But they obeyed not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, nor receive instruction.
And it shall come to pass, if ye diligently hearken unto me, saith the LORD, to bring in no burden through the gates of this city on the sabbath day, but hallow the sabbath day, to do no work therein;
Then shall there enter into the gates of this city kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their princes, the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: and this city shall remain for ever.
And they shall come from the cities of Judah, and from the places about Jerusalem, and from the land of Benjamin, and from the plain, and from the mountains, and from the south, bringing burnt offerings, and sacrifices, and meat offerings, and incense, and bringing sacrifices of praise, unto the house of the LORD.
But if ye will not hearken unto me to hallow the sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.