But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
In a former homily it has been shown how, in judgment, and in order to awaken us to a sense of our sin, God may pass a cloud across between us and him, hiding from us his smiling face, and leaving us in the dark and the chill. Now we see how, in our heedlessness and wilfulness, we may put clouds, even little clouds, into our own sky, and hide his face. The reference of the text is to the doubting ones, the unfaithful ones, in Babylon, who let their own sinfulness spoil their vision, and either hide God from them or distort their view of him. The prophet reminds them that they had put the clouds, and in reminding them thus he calls on them to put the clouds away. These are our two divisions.
I. MEN PUT THE SIN-CLOUDS BETWEEN THEM AND GOD.
1. They may be very small clouds, yet suffice to hide. Often a cloud no bigger than a hand will keep the light and warmth from us. Illustration: David Rittenhouse, of Pennsylvania, was a great astronomer. He was skilful in measuring the size of planets, and determining the position of the stars. But he found that, such was the distance of the stars, a silk thread stretched across the glass of his telescope would entirely cover a star; and, moreover, that a silk fibre, however small, placed upon the same glass, would cover so much of the heavens that the star, if a small one and near the pole, would remain obscured behind that silk fibre several seconds. So small faults, secret sins, little doubtings, can become effective fibres, dark clouds, obscuring veils, that hide the "face." "Little foxes spoil the grapes." The psalmist puts a passion of holy feeling into his prayer, "Cleanse thou me from secret faults."
2. They may be very big clouds, and mean long hiding and deep misery for us under the darkness, and in the chill. Illustrate from David's open and shameless iniquity. It was right that "his bones should wax old through his roaring all the day long," while the black storm-clouds of passion, and its consequences, hid away his God. We cannot negligently sin, and hope to keep the smile; if we openly and wilfully sin we shall not even care to keep the smile, but we shall gladly put our clouds across, and hide the "face."
II. MEN MUST PUT AWAY THE SIN-CLOUDS THAT ARE BETWEEN THEM AND GOD. And there is only one way of doing this. Men must put away the sins that make the clouds. God will not burst through such clouds. He will not dispel such clouds, until men turn from their iniquities, their big or little sins; but then he will breathe on the cloud, as the hot Eastern sun breathes on the clouds of morning, and they shall fade away from the sky, and we shall see the face, and live in that heaven which is the "shining of the face upon us." - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.