Jeremiah 50:19, 20
And I will bring Israel again to his habitation, and he shall feed on Carmel and Bashan…
These words are a beautiful setting forth of God's abundant pardon. Concerning it note how -
I. IT BRINGS UNSPEAKABLE JOY. In the former part of this chapter (cf. ver. 6) the prophet has pictured Israel and Judah like to a driven, hunted flock of sheep, never allowed to rest in peace, worried by fierce dogs, and hence in perpetual distress. But here there is a complete contrast. The flock feeds on Carmel and Bashan, the richest pastures. The most perfect rest is theirs. The lot of the flock told of in Psalm 23:2 is theirs. So full of peace and joy are they. And the forgiveness of God does bring deep joy to the soul. The sense of such forgiveness is very delightful - the realization that God doth no more remember our sin. And the manifestations of that forgiveness are also very blessed. For very generally God causes his providence to be gracious and kindly to that man whom he has pardoned. And the fruits of it are also blessed, in the character, the peace, the energy, the strength, it imparts. But -
II. IT IS CHALLENGED. "The iniquity of Israel shall be sought for" (ver. 20). There are those who question very much the Divine forgiveness, who maintain that the sin is still where it was. Often the forgiven man himself does this. He cannot "read his title clear;" he trembles at the future and cannot be persuaded that God has put away his sin. He is filled with doubts and fears. But often the seeking after the iniquity of God's people is done malignantly. The enemies of God rejoice when they can find a solitary blot or blemish in the character of God's children. What a yell of triumph they raise when they light on such a discovery! Satan is "the accuser of the brethren." He is ever on the search for their iniquity. And they who are of him are ready with the charge of cant, hypocrisy, etc.; refusing to believe that there can be any such person as a real saint of God. And pharisaically also Israel's iniquity is frequently "sought for." See that elder son in the parable (Luke 15.). How slow he was to believe in anything but the hardened iniquity of his younger brother! A great deal may be urged in favour of his Slew of things. Such kindly treatment did seem unjust, putting bad and good on one level. He would not have objected - as such men, and there have been and are myriads of them, do not object - to show some little favour to a repentant sinner, after a long course of testing him and proving whether he was worthy of any further forgiveness; but to give him all at once such complete pardon, such elder sons never believe in that. And by some the iniquity of those whom God has pardoned is sought for philosophically. "Plato, Plato," said Socrates, "I do not see how God can forgive sins." And when we see, as we do see, how in the whole realm of nature every force goes on until it has produced its full effect - there is no loss of force anywhere - how can sin be made an exception? how can it be prevented from having its due and full effect, sad and terrible as that is? Philosophically speaking, there can be no forgiveness. What a man soweth, that must he also reap, in nature and measure, in kind and degree. Thus is God's forgiveness challenged. But -
III. IT IS VINDICATED. Ver. 20, "The iniquity.., shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins... and they shall not be found." The sacrifice and the Spirit of Christ are the vindication of God's forgiveness. The former by vindicating the Divine righteousness in such forgiveness. For there are two ways of accomplishing this. One is the way of condign punishment. But God desires atonement, reconciliation, as well as vindication, and therefore this way will not serve. The other the way of repentance, the accepting the contrite confession of sin, and prayer for its forgiveness. And this is the way God has chosen. Cf. "I said I will confess... and thou forgavest," etc.; "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit," etc. Now, this way of dealing with sinners vindicates God's righteousness. For, though we cannot offer an adequate confession, repentance, and intercession, yet, in Christ, this has been done; and when, in sympathy with him, in "the fellowship of his sufferings," and "made conformable to his death," we make our confessions and prayers, they are accepted for the sake of him who has offered perfectly the spiritual sacrifice which we can offer only imperfectly. Now, this way of dealing with sinners vindicates God's righteousness; yea, it causes sinners to be made "the righteousness of God in him," that is, Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). God's righteousness is thus made illustrious, conspicuous, as by no other means whatsoever. For when it is clearly seen, as in the kingdom of God it will be clearly seen,
(1) the depths whence the sinner has been drawn, and
(2) the glorious height of purity and excellence to which he has been by this grace of God upraised, that spectacle will silence all objections, and will prove that that way must have been a righteous way which has had such righteous results. And the Spirit of Christ, producing sanctity in the hearts and lives of believers, is the vindication of this way of grace to all eider sons, and, indeed, to all else who challenge what God has done. CONCLUSION.
1. Rejoice in such forgiveness, that you have it to proclaim, to think of, to rest your soul upon.
2. Adore. What else can we do but sing our "Magnificats" to such a redeeming God?
"Who is a pardoning God like thee?
And who hath grace so rich and free?"
3. Come away from all self-trust, all reliance on your own deeds for justification and forgiveness.
4. Tremble, O unsaved one, to be found amongst those who have despised such grace. "How can we escape if we neglect so great salvation?" - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And I will bring Israel again to his habitation, and he shall feed on Carmel and Bashan, and his soul shall be satisfied upon mount Ephraim and Gilead.