The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage…
And the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it. Sin on man is often figured as a burden. Bunyan's picture of Graceless with the load on his back is familiar enough to be understood by all. Prophets picture God's impending judgments as a burden ready to fall and crush. We will he retake the term as referring to the transgressions rather than to the direct judgments.
I. The BURDEN THAT CRUSHES MEN. It is transgression, which is precisely this - willful sin. "Sin is a burden to the whole creation; it is a heavy burden, a burden under which it groans now and will sink at last. Sin is the ruin of states and kingdoms and families; they fall under the weight of that talent of lead" (Zechariah 5:7, 8). Illustrative cases may be given of the crushing of health, position, success, friendship, family, by the burden of willful sin. Pressed down by it, humanity cries as did St. Paul, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"
II. DELIVERANCE FROM THIS BURDEN IS BEYOND MAN'S POWER. All kinds of purely human forces have been tried - self-struggles, strong will, education, philosophy, religious systems, legal enactments, watching of one another, refinements of art, etc.; but none have succeeded yet in doing away with the sin of the individual, and so none have even reached the fringe of the world's misery. Have we any better reason to hope for the success of the modern panacea of scientific knowledge, than our fathers had of the nostrums they tried? Before God intervened, there was "no eye to pity, and no arm to save." For "sin" man has never been able to find "balm in Gilead;" there is no adequate "physician" there.
III. MAN'S HELPLESSNESS SHOULD MAKE HIM CRY MIGHTILY UNTO GOD. "Thou canst save, and thou alone." Yet precisely in this men fail. They will die rather than turn to God for pardon and life. And why? Because they do not "know and believe the love which God hath unto them." False and unworthy notions of the God of love, and Father of Jesus: have long prevailed, and they keep men away from God. So our work is to preach the gospel of the grace of God, which alone can lift the burden of transgression that now presses so heavily, so crushingly, on men's shoulders, that they "fall, and cannot rise again." - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again.