But my people would not listen to my voice; and Israel would none of me.…
There is always something very pathetic about anything that is abandoned; an abandoned farm, where the field used to be filled with busy activity in the springtime, and where later the waving billows of grain rose and fell before the wind; the orchard that once was kept neatly pruned, and where the children played and the birds built their nests, and all watched for the first ripe apples of summer; the garden near by, that once was the object of so much care, now desolate; the front yard that used to have its long rows of hollyhocks and sweet-williams; the porch where once hung fragrant roses; the house that was the abode of love and joy, where dwelt hearts full of all the hopes and fears, the plans and purposes, that animate men and women and little children, a house made sacred by births and marriages and deaths — all now desolate and despoiled. An abandoned ship is also a sad picture. It started out from port with laughter and joy and hope. It had a precious cargo. It carried passengers full of courage for the voyage. But the storm came up, the ship was driven out of its course, the captain lost his reckoning, his chart was swept overboard, and in the blackness of the night and the tempest the ship swung aground on a ledge of rocks; every effort was made to get her afloat again, but she only settled the more solidly into her rough bed. The priceless cargo was thrown overboard in order to save the ship, but even that failed. But all these are cheerful subjects for contemplation compared to the thought of an abandoned man or an abandoned woman — the soul made in the image of God; fitted for a high and lofty destiny; that might hold communion with heaven; that might live a life so sweet and pure, so brave and splendid, that the angels would look upon it with admiration and delight, and yet drifted from its course, with compass gone, with reckoning lost, stranded and broken, abandoned at last by God and man; given up to its own lusts, to perish in its own evil ways. Don't be deceived in thinking that it is a small thing when God says that He will turn you over to your own heart's lust. I can imagine that in folly some reckless soul might say, "What do I want better than that? Just let me have my heart's desire. Surely that won't be very bad." Ah, do you think not? To let the man who is getting fond of strong drink just go on getting more and more drunken, more and more like a beast, the hellish thirst for strong drink ever increasing in his parched and bloated body, his veins running with the fire of the insatiable longing until he cries out as others have done that even the fires of hell would be a refuge if it could quench this horrible and awful thirst — do you think that means nothing? To let the man or woman with impure thoughts and imaginations just go on thinking impure things, and meditating on wicked and evil pictures, until good thoughts come no longer; until the mind is full to overflowing with unholy and bestial imaginations; until after a while the soul loathes itself as a dirty thing; until the man or woman wallows in moral filth — do you think that means nothing? To let the greedy man go on with his greed, becoming more and more avaricious, until at last honour and love and faith and truth and goodness are idle words to him unless they bring him in money; until the soul is withered and dried up so that the one cry of the man's nature is for gain; and grim and miserly, unloving and unloved, the man gets old in a hard and bitter and greedy spirit — does that mean nothing? To let anger and hate have their own way; to let them brood in the heart and hatch their young; to let them seek for vengeance until a man watches on the path of his enemies that he may make life harder for every one who has offended him; until all love and generosity and forgiveness and gentleness are crushed down under the heel, and a gruff, rough, brutal-hearted man hides in ambush waiting for revenge — does that mean nothing? Some of you, it may be, are quaffing the first draughts of sin, and the intoxication of it is in your blood, and you think the preacher maligns and slanders sin. May God save you from the biter dregs at the bottom of the cup!
(L. A. Banks, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me.