And shall lay you even with the ground, and your children within you; and they shall not leave in you one stone on another…
This thy day; "The time of thy visitation." What is it that makes man, everywhere and under all conditions, so deeply interesting? He is found on savage shores in nakedness and barbarism, in idolatrous lands living in saddest superstition, in the slums and purlieus of great cities as debased and vicious as the brutes of the field, yet still most interesting. It is because God made man for himself, and, far as he has wandered from his side, it is still open to him to return. It is because man was created to move along the loftiest levels, and, low as he has fallen, it is in him to rise. Bring to bear the right influences upon him, and from the very lowest depths of debasement and dishonour he may attain to noble heights of excellency and power. Again and again in the history of mankind and of individual men has this been proved to be true. Illustrative and reassuring instances can be adduced in which whole tribes, or even nations, and in which particular men and women, have been visited with "the truth and grace of Jesus Christ," and have been lifted up to knowledge, to virtue, to piety, to spiritual beauty, to preparedness for the heavenly sphere. But the serious aspect of this truth is that which is here suggested, viz. that God's dealings with us may reach a climax which is ignorantly and fatally neglected. We know how true this was of the Hebrew people. God's dealings with them (see previous homily) were long-continued, varied, gracious; they culminated in the coming of the King's Son. Then Divine Wisdom uttered its voice in their hearing; then Divine Power wrought its marvels of mercy before their very eyes; then Divine Purity lived its life of loveliness; and Divine Love manifested itself in a hundred forms of kindness and of pity in the very midst of them. But "this their day," this "time of their visitation," they did not know. Israel missed its golden chance, and went down, as a nation, to rise no more. But looking at God's redemptive dealing with ourselves, as individual spirits, we see -
I. How OFTEN GOD VISITS US in his redeeming love. In childhood, by a mother's tenderness; in youth, by a father's wisdom; in young manhood (womanhood), by many voices of the home and of the Church, uniting to say, "Thy God hath commanded thy strength;" in prime, by some chastening providence, laying his hand upon us and constraining us to listen and to understand.
II. HOW HIS DEALINGS WITH US CULMINATE in some day of grace. There comes a time in the history of souls - it may come in any period of life - when "the powers of the world to come" are most strongly felt, when God's nearness is most vividly realized, when the claims of Christ most forcibly touch and move the soul, when the kingdom of God is very near, and its gates are seen to stand wide open. It is "this thy day," it is the "time of visitation" to such a human heart.
III. HOW WISE, THEN, IS IMMEDIATE ACTION! How wise and well for us to know the time of our visitation, to recognize our great and priceless opportunity, to flee to the seeking Saviour "swift as the morning light," lest the golden chance be gone, the gates of opportunity be closed! - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.