And they shall be afraid and ashamed of Ethiopia their expectation, and of Egypt their glory.
The subject of unreasonable expectations is of almost illimitable extent, and in further dwelling upon it I would limit my remarks to three points —
I. THE THINGS WHICH GOD'S PEOPLE UNREASONABLY EXPECT. Nothing can be more plain than that our expectations as Christians should be limited by the teaching and promise of God's Word. We are safe so long as we rest in the promise of God.
I. It is unreasonable to expect that you can place yourselves in any false position, form any unworthy association, engage in any questionable occupation, and be saved from the natural consequences of so doing. Lot was a very good man, but he made a very great mistake. If, in your legitimate business, — if, in sustaining any of the just relationships of life, you meet with danger or temptation, you may reasonably expect that God will grant you all the necessary assistance and protection. But if the danger or temptation be of your own seeking, it is likely that God will teach you wisdom by leaving you to endure the consequences of your rashness or perversity. It is unreasonable for you to expect that you can touch pitch and not be defiled, take fire in your bosom and not be burned, nourish a viper and not be stung.
2. It is unreasonable to expect that you should grow in grace, or realise any very high degree of enjoyment in the Divine life, if all the while you are neglecting or insufficiently using the means of growth, the sources of enjoyment which are placed within your reach.
3. It is unreasonable to expect in Christian life what our Master expressly warns us against expecting. Many seem disappointed because they do not find the way of Christian pilgrimage perfectly smooth and pleasant from its commencement to its close. Your Master tells you plainly that you have to lay your account with suffering and trial, with disappointment and danger. The Christian life is never represented as one of ease and self-indulgence, but rather as a state of warfare. You are treading in the footsteps of those who, in. uninterrupted succession, have walked in the same rough way.
4. I might easily enumerate many other unreasonable expectations in which Christians are tempted to indulge. It is unreasonable to expect results from unassisted human nature which can only flow from Divine grace. It is unreasonable to expect from an attempted conformity to the law what can only be secured by a simple dependence on the Gospel. It is unreasonable to expect that we shall find on earth what can be only realised in heaven, or that we can derive from any inferior and created source what can only be found in the centre and sum of all excellency, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
II. THE THINGS WHICH ARE UNREASONABLY EXPECTED OF GOD'S PEOPLE.
1. There are those who make it a matter of reproach against religion, and prefer it as an excuse for their unbelief, that the Gospel, the religion of the Cross, does not come up in sundry particulars to their idea of what a religion which claims man's acceptance and confidence ought to be. Such objections we may dismiss as the fruit of unreasonable expectations, for all, save the most shallow and pretentious of such objectors, are ready to confess that there are "more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in their philosophy."
2. There are those who do not go so far as to object against religion as unreasonable, who seem to resent it as an injury that any measure of mystery should attach to any of the statements of Scripture. In reply to this, several things may be said. It might be said that, taking into account what this revelation professes to be, it was reasonable to expect that the truths communicated, while intelligible on the one side, should lose themselves in mystery on the other. And it might be further remarked, in reference to many of those who thus object, that they make but very little use of such light as they confessedly have. Is it not the part of reason first of all to inquire whether the Bible be an authentic and authoritative revelation from heaven to earth, and then, if its claims to be so regarded are substantiated to the satisfaction of reason, is it not the very part and office of reason to sit submissively at the feet of the Divine Teacher and learn of Him?
3. There are many who but very slightly interest themselves in the truth which Christians hold, who seem to take much pleasure in narrowly scrutinising the lives which Christians live. The real or alleged inconsistencies of professing Christians do not afford any ground of reasonable objection against the Gospel, or any valid excuse for its continued rejection. In judging of any practical system, we must have reference to what it professes to be, and to accomplish. If you confine attention to those who are the sincere and genuine followers of the Lamb, it is unreasonable to expect that they should manifest in this world an absolute perfection of character. Such perfection, we believe, can be only realised when this body of sin and death shall have been laid aside.
III. THE THINGS WHICH THOSE WHO ARE NOT GOD'S PEOPLE UNREASONABLY EXPECT FOR THEMSELVES.
1. It is unreasonable to expect that anything which the world contains can meet the need, or satisfy the desire, of man's immortal soul.
2. It is unreasonable to expect that in religion anyone can serve two masters. No such thing as neutrality is possible in religion, and, strictly speaking, there is no such thing as indecision.
3. It is unreasonable to expect that sinful men can satisfy the requirements of the law, and avert its penalty, by any obedience they can render, by any penance they can endure.
4. It is unreasonable to expect that those who, enjoying Gospel light, die despising Gospel grace, will be in any wise benefited by the uncovenanted mercies of God.
5. It is unreasonable to expect that you can spend a sinful, worldly life, and men have a comfortable death and a happy eternity.
6. It is unreasonable to expect that, because you pass muster in this world, and occupy a moderately creditable position among your fellow men, that therefore you will do moderately well ]n another world; and that, if you do not shine forth conspicuously with the best, you will go through the gates into the city, unnoticed among the crowd.
7. It is unreasonable to expect that, because sentence is not speedily executed against an evil work, that therefore it never will be; and that, because the present order of things has continued so long, that therefore it will continue forever.
(T. M. Morris.).
Parallel VersesKJV: And they shall be afraid and ashamed of Ethiopia their expectation, and of Egypt their glory.