Rejoice not, O Israel, for Joy, as other people.
I. MERELY NOMINAL PROFESSORS HAVE GREAT CAUSE TO MOURN. These words suggest a vast number of Israelites preparing for the songs of those that triumph, the shout of those that feast. To them the prophet says, "Rejoice not."
1. The first reason why Israel should not rejoice is that they had turned aside from the Lord. In leaving the Lord we leave all true happiness behind.
2. Because they were at ease in Zion.
3. Because they were heaping up to themselves wrath against the day of wrath.
4. Because they were without hope in the world.
5. Because they were under sentence of condemnation. To every merely nominal Christian God sends this message, "Rejoice not for joy, as other people."
II. GOD'S PEOPLE OUGHT TO BE A REJOICING PEOPLE.
1. Christ's atonement should make them happy.
2. The Triune God has made with them a covenant, ordered in all things and sure.
3. The joy of the Lord is their strength.
4. The rest of God shall be theirs.
5. The Lord God omnipotent reigneth. The Lord reigneth, then your lot in this world will be controlled by the King of kings. Then your sorrows, disappointments, crosses, losses, and all the events of your life are controlled by His sceptre. Then the affairs of the home, and the joys and friendships of life are in the bands of the infinitely wise and good, and you may well rejoice.
(A. Clayton Thiselton.)
1. There is a description of the desolation to come upon them, to silence their presumptuous and carnal joy; wherein he declareth they had no cause to be insolent, thinking to prosper in sin as other nations, seeing their sin (idolatry) was more heinous than the sins of other people.
2. This desolation is declared to be near, whereby, the Lord would discover the folly of their false prophets, and their sin in procuring such at God's hands who. whatever they pretended to, were but snares to the people and causes of God's anger.
3. They are charged with the sins, of their fathers, whom they imitated, hereby provoking God to call them to an account, particularly with ingrate forsaking of God, for which they are threatened that God would cut them off without hope of prosperity and abandon them,
4. Their superstition and idolatry, wherein their princes had chief hand, is again laid to their charge; for which they are threatened with God's anger, and rejection; and exile, and with cutting them off root and branch. Such despisers of God's Word should be rejected, and made to wander in exile.
They shall not dwell in. the Lord's land.
1. It was a land that God had "espied" as a special place for His people.
2. It was the land of promise.
3. It was a land given by oath (Genesis 24:7).
4. It was a land which the Lord brought His people into by "a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm."
5. It was a land divided by lot. The possession that any man had was ordered by God Himself by lot.
6. It was a land wherein God dwelt Himself, a land that God called His own rest. It was the land wherein were the ordinances and worship of God, and His honour dwelt there, and so it had a peculiar blessing upon it above every land on the face of the whole earth.
7. It was a land over which God's eye was in a more special manner.
8. This land was typical of the rest of the Church in heaven. Then it would be a great judgment of God to drive men out of this land for their sin. To be cast out of those mercies which God by an extraordinary providence has brought to us is a sore and grievous evil.
And they shall eat unclean things in Assyria
(Joseph Parker, D. D.)
What will ye do in the solemn day, and in the day of the feast of the Lord?Calvin thinks the allusion is to the time of exile, when the people would be deprived of all their sacrifices. But the better point is that the sacrifices of Ephraim being
1. unauthorised, and
2. unaccompanied with righteousness, could not be accepted;consequently they could have no joy in their lesser or greater festal times, because all the joy of such times depended on their reconciliation and acceptance with God. What joy can there be in any of the joy times of life when we boar in our hearts the sad conviction of our wilful and persistent estrangement from God? And men do carry that secret conviction even when, to their fellows, they seem to be bold and self-satisfied. There is no sunshine on human life when God's smile is hidden. Illustrate from the anxiety of Job concerning his children. They were feasting, but he did not feel sure that it was feasting after sacrifice, enjoying themselves with the smile of God's favour resting on them. So he offered sacrifices to ensure the acceptance which they had missed. In the ordinary ritual of the Jews a feast followed sacrifice, as in the case of Samuel. This was the case with simple sacrifice and with the special sacrifices of solemn days. No joy could be in the feast if the sacrifice had failed to gain acceptance. It is the supreme rule for all the joy times of human life. They never can be to us what they ought to be, unless we enter on them with the full sense of acceptance with God. It must, always be, "sacrifice before feast."
(Robert Tuck, B. A.)
Homilist.The day here referred to is one of the great Jewish feasts, either Passover, Pentecost, or Tabernacles. What will you children of Abraham do when you are deprived of the privilege of attending these solemn assemblies? There are solemn days awaiting all of us —
I. THE DAY OF PERSONAL AFFLICTION.
II. THE DAY OF SOCIAL BEREAVEMENT.
III. THE DAY OF DEATH. This awaits every man. What will ye do in this day, when heart and flesh shall fail?
IV. THE DAY OF JUDGMENT.
The days of visitation are come, the days of recompence are come.
(W. Robertson Smith, LL. D.)
The prophet is a fool, and the spiritual man is mad
Homilist.What the prophet means is this. When the predicted retribution had come, Israel would learn that the prosperity which some of the prophets had predicted (Ezekiel 13:10) proved them infatuated fools. This charge against religious ministers is — SOMETIMES TOO TRUE.
1. There are men of weak minds; utterly incapable of taking a harmonious view of truth, or even forming a clear and complete conception of any great principle.
2. There are men of irrational theologies. They propound theological dogmas which are utterly incongruous with human reason, and therefore un-Biblical and un-Divine.
3. There are men of silly rituals.
II. OFTEN A SCOFFING CALUMNY. The ideal preacher is the wisest and most philosophical man of his age.
1. He aims at the highest end.
2. He works in the right direction.
3. He employs the best means. The best is not legislation, art, poetry, rhetoric, but love. This is the Cross, the power of God unto salvation.
(Joseph Parker, D. D.)
As in the days of Gibeah.Judges 19., 20.): —
1. When men to whom we seek for protection deal falsely with us, their wickedness is great in the eyes of God.
2. We may meet with worse usage from those who profess religion than from those who profess it not.
3. God may regard those as unholy and unclean who make a fair show of religion.
4. For men to stand up impudently and boldly in the defence of wickedness committed is abomin able in the eyes of God.
5. To join with others in defence of evil is worse than to stand out ourselves in evil.
6. Those who defend evil may for awhile prosper, but they must at last perish.
1. Contempt of true prophets, and delighting in deceivers and their delusions, will draw men upon abominable wickedness.
2. As men once giving way to gross sins will soon involve themselves so that they cannot recover themselves, so it is a dreadful condition to be entangled in sin without hope of recovery, and for men to be active in hardening themselves.
3. As there is no wicked course or measure of sin, wherein men have fallen, but the Church, departing from God, may fall upon it again, so the sins of progenitors will be put upon the account of the present generation who imitate them, and this will draw to a great account.
They went to Baal-peer, and separated themselves unto that shame.
Homilist.The shame here alluded to was idolatry.
I. ALL SIN IS SHAME.
1. It is shame in its commission. People seldom do iniquity in the full blaze of day. They would rather not be seen in its commission. It is shameful to be a sinner; to possess reason and to play the part of an idiot; to have liberty and to act the part of a slave; to be admitted to the arms of a benefactor and then to stab him in return.
2. It is a shame in its consequence. It produces shame. "Thou shalt be confounded," says God, "because of your shame." "The wicked shall rise to shame and everlasting contempt."
II. SIN IS SEPARATION. Before a man can join the army of sin he must leave the service of God. Hence he separates himself. From what?
1. From the love, protection, guidance, and companionship of his God. What blessings to turn his back upon!
2. From the principles of truth, righteousness, and grace. He becomes another character. All that can exalt him is left behind.
3. From the prospect of future bliss.
All their wickedness is in Gilgal: for there I hated them.
1. At Gilgal the covenant of circumcision was renewed for the second time since they came out of Egypt. What circumcision was to the Jew, religious instruction is to us: circumcision was God's seal to the Jews that He would cleanse them from taint of Egyptian idolatry.
2. At Gilgal they celebrated the passover for the first time after they came out of Egypt. The Lord's supper is our passover.
3. It was at Gilgal that God Himself appeared in a most remarkable manner to assure the people of Israel that He would be their deliverer. The captains of the Lord's host came. Observe Joshua's momentary surprise, courage, reverence.Notice the communication.
1. Beginning life in humble circumstances may be a Gilgal to us.
2. So may a season of affliction be. Or
3. The loss of a dear friend. But the wickedness of Gilgal may be taken away.
(W. G. Barrett.)
My God will cast them away... and they shall be wanderers among the nations.1. It is a judgment to have an unsettled spirit. A spirit wandering up and down, unable to settle to anything, sometimes in this place, sometimes in that, sometimes in this way, and sometimes in another, this is a judgment of God. The wandering of men's appetites and desires works them a great deal of vexation.
2. Those who are cast away out of God's house can have no rest; they go about like the unclean spirit, seeking rest, but can find none. The Church of God and His ordinances are God's rest. But you will say. May not men be wanderers; that is, may they not be cast out of their habitations and countries, and wander up and down, and yet not be cast off from God? There is no evil in wandering if we carry a good conscience with us. But there it is, "They shall be wanderers among the nations." It was a great judgment of God for Israel to be scattered among the nations, for they were a people that were separated from the nations, and not to be reckoned among the nations; they were God's "peculiar treasure." This curse is upon the Jews to this very day, — how are they wanderers among the nations!
Wanderers among the nationsJosephus says, "was in great numbers throughout the whole world, interspersed with the nations." Those assembled at the Day of Pentecost had come from all parts of Asia Minor, but also from Parthia, Media, Persia, Mesopotamia, Arabia, Egypt, maritime Lybia, Crete, and Italy. Wherever the apostles went in Asia or Greece they found Jews, in numbers sufficient to raise persecution against them. The Jews, scoffing, asked whether our Lord would go to the dispersion among the Greeks. The Jews of Egypt were probably the descendants of those who went thither after the murder Of Gedaliah. The Jews of the North, as well as those of China, India, Russia, were probably descendants of the ten tribes. From one end of Asia to the other, and onward through the Crimea, Greece, and Italy, the Jews, by their presence, bare witness to the fulfilment of the prophecy. Not like the wandering Indian tribe, who spread over Europe, living apart in their native wildness, but, settled among the inhabitants of each city, they were still distinct, although with no polity of their own, a distinct, settled, yet foreign and subordinate race. "Still remains unreversed this irrevocable sentence as to the temporal state and face of an earthly kingdom, that they remain still 'wanderers,' or dispersed among other nations, and have never been restored, nor are in any likelihood of ever being restored to their own land, so as to call it their own. If ever any of them hath returned thither, it hath been but as strangers."
(E. B. Pusey, D. D.).