Do not be like your fathers and brothers who were unfaithful to the LORD, the God of their fathers, so that He made them an object of horror, as you can see.
I. IT IS TO THE GOD OF THEIR FATHERS THEY WERE EXHORTED TO RETURN. "Children of Israel, turn again unto the Lord God... of Israel" (ver. 6). It was not to the house of a strange deity they were now invited; it was to the God of Israel - to him to whom their own ancestors bowed the knee; it was to him who ever called himself by the very name they bore, in whom their illustrious father put his trust and found his heritage. Whom should they serve but that One whom Israel himself acknowledged as the Lord his God (Genesis 28:16-22)? To those who have gone astray to vanities, to the pursuits of earth, to human attachments, to perishable treasures, and who have forsaken the Divine Source of all good and joy, we have to say, "Return unto the Lord God of your fathers. He to whom and to whose service we invite your return is no strange God in your house. It is he whom your father, whom your mother, has loved and served these many years; whom (it may be) they are worshipping and serving now in the upper sanctuary. It is their tones that may be recognized in our voice, if you have an ear to hear, saying, 'Return unto our God, unto our Saviour, unto our heritage, unto our home.'"
II. REBELLION MEANS NOTHING BUT RUIN. "Who trespassed against the Lord God of their fathers, who therefore gave them up to desolation" (ver. 7). Assuming the (more probable) theory that the country was now in the hands of the Assyrians, there was "desolation" indeed; to most of their families (and to the best of them) captivity or bereavement; to the nation, as such, utter subjection, humiliation, ruin. This was the penalty of their rebellion against Jehovah, its natural and inevitable end (Deuteronomy 29:22-28). To those who are estranged from God we have to say," Return unto God, for distance from him is spiritual ruin."
1. It is the forfeiture of the true heritage of the human soul, the heritage it has in the favour and the friendship of God.
2. It is the endurance of his most serious displeasure.
3. It is a spiritual bondage, the bondage of sin.
4. It is the beginning of death eternal.
III. THERE IS NO DANGER OF REPULSE. "The Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if ye return unto him" (ver. 9). The people of this idolatrous realm might well ask whether they had not hopelessly separated themselves from Jehovah, whether their rebelliousness had not gone such lengths that mercy was not to be looked for. But Hezekiah charged them to dismiss all such fears from their minds; their repentance would meet with a gracious response from the forgiving God of their fathers. It is one of the strongest inducements we have to offer to those now spiritually estranged, that their genuine repentance, the turning of their heart toward the God of their fathers, and their seeking his mercy in Jesus Christ the Divine Saviour, is certain to be attended with his abundant mercy, and to he followed by their restitution to the favour they have lost, to the home they have left, to the blessedness they have thrown away. There is absolutely no fear of a repulse - that is a moral impossibility; the unchangeable Word of the faithful God is the immovable pledge that return means reconciliation.
IV. RECONCILIATION FOR THEMSELVES MEANS MERCY FOR THEIR RELATIONS. "Your brethren and your children shall find compassion," etc. (ver. 9). This was their one and only hope. If God had mercy upon Israel that was in Israel, he might, he would, recall their brethren and children from the land of their captivity; otherwise these must perish in "a strange land," in the land of the enemy. Our message to men is not unlike this; we have to say to them, "If you will consult the well-being of those in whom you are most interested and for whom you are most responsible; if you will care for the salvation of those nearest and dearest to you, of your brethren and your children; then do you live the life of the holy, do you give the best and strongest evidence that you believe in the excellency of the service of Christ, do you turn from the transient and the unsatisfying treasures of earth, and seek your heritage in the favour of the heavenly Father, in the love and the friendship of the Saviour of mankind. Therefore "yield yourselves unto God" (ver. 8); enter his sanctuary; accept the overtures of his Son; sit down at his table; take on you his Name and his vows." - C.
I. A BLESSED SEASON OF GRACE MARKED FOR ALL ISRAEL. Now were the doors of the house of the Lord opened (2 Chronicles 29:3).
That the fierceness of His wrath may turn away.
Christian Age.The fire that cheers, refines, and purifies, also bums and tortures. It all depends on our relation to the fire, whether it be our friend or foe. In Retsch's illustration of Goethe's "Faust," there is one plate where angels are seen dropping roses upon the demons who are contending for the soul of Faust. But every rose falls like molten metal wherever it touches. God rains roses down, but our sinful hearts meeting Divine love with wilful disobedience turn His love into wrath.
II. THEIR DUTY IN THAT BLESSED SEASON OF GRACE.
1. Negative. "Be not stiff-necked." It is a metaphor taken from bullocks unaccustomed to the yoke, who make great difficulty and resistance about taking it on.
(1) (2) (3) (T. Boston, D.D.)
(2) (3) (T. Boston, D.D.)
(3) (T. Boston, D.D.)
(T. Boston, D.D.)
I. WHAT IS THAT YOKE WHICH THE LORD IS OFFERING TO LAY ON SINNERS. It is the Soft and easy yoke for the salvation and welfare of penitent sinners. "Take My yoke upon you, saith Jesus, and learn of Me: For My yoke is easy." This is the yoke of kindly willing subjection to God in Christ.
1. The yoke of subjection to the will of His commandments.
2. The yoke of His providential will. He claims to dispose of you, as seems good to Him.
II. THIS OBEDIENCE OF THE SINNER TO GOD IS CALLED A YOKE, because —
1. Coming under it, we are in a state of subjection as those under a yoke.
2. It is laid on us for labour or work.
3. By it we are not only kept at work, but kept in order at our work. They who truly bear the yoke, are uniform and orderly in their obedience. "They have respect unto all God's commandments."
4. Of its uneasiness to the flesh.
5. It fixes subjection upon us. The bonds of obligation are sweet and agreeable to His willing people.
1. God is the party with whom we have to do.
2. There will be nothing gained by stiff-neckedness to the yoke of God.
3. God has waited long on you, but will not wait always (Proverbs 29:1). Now, while a season of grace is afforded to sinners, it is their duty to fall in with it speedily, to give the hand and yield themselves to the Lord. Here We shall —
I. SHOW HOW SINNERS HAVE A SEASON OF GRACE AFFORDED THEM
1. By their being continued in life.
2. By the call of the Gospel so directed to them. "Behold now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation."
3. By solemn sacramental occasions afforded to a people. This is the case in the text. These make a precious "now" not to be slighted. At ordinary occasions of the gospel, the blessed bargain is offered; but now the seal of heaven is ready to confirm it.
4. By some inward motions felt within one's own soul, pressing them to comply and yield at length.
II. INQUIRE WHAT IS SUPPOSED IN THIS GRACIOUS CALL TO SINNERS. It supposes —
1. That sinners are naturally in a state of rebellion against the Lord.
2. That though the Lord can break the sinner in pieces for his rebellion, yet He would rather that the sinner yield (Ezekiel 33:11).
3. That God's hand is stretched out to receive the sinner yielding himself (Isaiah 65:2).
4. That forced work will not be acceptable here.
6. That the sinner willingly yielding shall be kindly received and accepted.
III. SHOW WHAT IT IS TO GIVE THE HAND OR YIELD OUSELVES TO THE LORD.
1. In general, it comprehends —(1) The work of conviction.(2) The work of illumination in the knowledge of Christ, in receiving the discovery of a Savour.(3) The work of humiliation, in becoming pliable to the Divine propose in the Gospel; leading them to say, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" The iron sinew in the sinner's neck is broken. The outer door of the mind, and the inner door of the will, are both cast open to the Lord Christ.(4) The work of faith in the sinner's believing on, and so closing with Christ, as his Saviour from sin and wrath, renouncing all others.(6) The work of repentance from dead works, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh (Colossians 2:11). Faith and repentance are inseparable. That faith which produceth not evangelical repentance, is but dead faith.(6) The work of entire resignation.
2. In particular.(1) Yielding the soul, or inner man — mind — conscience — will — to the Lord.(2) Yielding the body or outward man to the Lord.(3) Yielding up all lusts and idols to Him as traitors which you can no more harbour.(4) Yielding all lawful enjoyments to Him, so as to be at His disposal, and never to break with Him for any of them.(5) Yielding, your lot and your all to Him; saying," "He shall choose our inheritance for us. Improvement
Use 1: Of conviction and humiliation, in respect of the sad bias which man's nature has got.
Use 2: Of exhortation.(1) You must yield yourselves to one or other, for you are not self-sufficient.(2) The Lord hath the best right to you.(3) Consider what the Lord has yielded for you (Romans 8:32; Romans 5:8).(4) The Saviour is very desirous of your yielding.(5) He is not seeking your yielding yourselves for nothing (Hosea 3:3).(6) You must yield or die, bow or break.(7) Yield and all your former rebellions shall be forgiven.(8) Yield or the Lord Will have war with you for ever. How will you bear His coming? (2 Thessalonians 1:7, 9).
(T. Boston, D. D.)
2. For ever.
II. AS TO A CONQUEROR.
III. AS TO YOUR KING AND SOVEREIGN LORD. At discretion and not by capitulation.
IV. AS FILIAL SERVANTS TO A FATHERLY MASTER
(T. Boston, D. D.)
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