Heathendom Gives an Unconscious Rebuke to Apostate Israel
Jeremiah 2:10, 11
For pass over the isles of Chittim, and see; and send to Kedar, and consider diligently, and see if there be such a thing.…

From humiliating contrast of the present conduct of Israel with what might have been reasonably expected from the peculiar experiences of the past, God now turns to make a contrast more humiliating still with heathen nations. The request to look back is succeeded by a request to look round. Search through every nation, inquire in every idol temple, watch the religious life of idolaters, and everywhere you will see a fidelity which puts the apostate children of Israel to shame. The heathen gods themselves Jehovah has indeed put to shame, notably the gods of Egypt and Philistia; but in spite of all, the heathen are still clinging to the falsehoods in which they have been taught to believe. Their fanatical devotion is, indeed, a pitiable thing, but even in the midst of all that is pitiable, God can find something to be used for good. This very fidelity to what is so false and degrading may be used to point a keen reproach to those who owe but do not pay allegiance to Jehovah. There is thus suggested as a topic the UNCONSCIOUS REBUKES WHICH THE WORLD GIVES TO THE CHURCH. The heathendom on which Jehovah bade his people look has long passed away. In spite of the fidelity here indicated, the temples have fallen into ruin and the idols are utterly vanished. Nay, more; increasing signs come in from year to year, that all heathendom is gradually dissolving, so that, in one sense, Jehovah's words may be said no longer to apply. But we know that, in the spirit of the words, they continue to apply only too forcibly. It is but the form of the idol that passes away; the reality is the same. Thus he who calls himself and wishes to be thought a believer in Christ, does well to look out and see what he can gather by way of spiritual instruction and rebuke from the world. The world has much to teach us if we would only learn. Jesus himself gave the New Testament parallel when he spoke of the children of the world being wiser in their generation than the children of light. And though we should be very foolish to pay any attention to the world, when it puts on the air of a wiseacre and talks with the utmost self-conceit of things it does not understand, there is all the more reason why we should learn all we can by our own divinely directed observation. How the world rebukes us, for instance, every time we see men of science searching after truth! Think of the patient attention given day after day with the telescope, the microscope, and all the apparatus of the experimentalist in physics. Think of the perils and privations of the traveler in tropic and in arctic zones. Think of the unwearied hunting of facts, for possibly a whole lifetime, in order to turn some hypothesis into an established truth. And we also have truth to attain. Jesus and his apostles often spoke of truth which we have to make our own; understanding it, believing it, and making it part of our experience. But that truth assuredly is not to be won without effort. The question may well be asked if such differences would continue to exist among Christians as do exist, provided they only set themselves in reality and humility to discover all that may be known on the subject-matter of their convictions. A man of science, for instance, would not grudge the labor needed to learn another language, if he felt that an increase of knowledge would prove the result to be worth the labor. But how many Christians can be found who have any notion that it might be worth their while to learn the Greek Testament for themselves instead of depending upon even the best of translations? Again, the world rebukes us as we consider the enthusiasm of terrestrial citizenship. There is much for the Christian to learn as he contemplates the spirit breaking forth in many men at the thought of the land that gave them birth. How the feelings of such men glow to fever heat with the exhibition of a national flag, the singing of a national anthem, or the mention of great military and naval triumphs, with the names of the captains who achieved them! Then think of what is better still, the unwearied labors of social reformers, simply from love to their country, to lessen crime, vice, disease, and ignorance. In view of all this deep attachment to the land where the natural man has sprung into existence and is sustained, may not Christ well ask his people, if the heavenly πολιτεία into which they have been introduced by the second birth, is as dear to them? Then, what a rebuke comes to us as we look at the efforts of commercial enterprise. What toil there is here! what daring investments of capital! what quick combinations of the many to attain what cannot be done by the one I what formation of business habits so as to make easy and regular what would otherwise be difficult, perhaps impossible I And yet it is all done to get that wealth on which the Scriptures have so many warning words to speak. As these gods of the nations were no gods, so the wealth men think so much of is really no wealth at all. We are not to look towards the goal of their desires, nor follow in their steps. But as earnestly as they look towards the goal of an earthly fortune, we should look towards that of a heavenly one. As we stand among men clinging to riches which they cannot keep, and clinging none the less firmly because the riches are hollow, let us bear in mind how easy it is for us who are but sinful mortals also to be deluded away into neglect of the true riches. - Y.

Parallel Verses
KJV: For pass over the isles of Chittim, and see; and send unto Kedar, and consider diligently, and see if there be such a thing.

WEB: For pass over to the islands of Kittim, and see; and send to Kedar, and consider diligently; and see if there has been such a thing.

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