Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and gladness of heart in all your abundance,
I. IT IS A NECESSITY THAT GOD'S RULE SHALL BE MAINTAINED. So long as the universe continues, the Creator must be King. Our only choice is whether we will have him as our Friend or as our Foe. "For he must reign." We must serve (ver. 47). To forsake God is not to gain liberty; it is only the exchange of a noble Master for a thousand petty tyrants. "Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness... thou shalt serve thine enemies in hunger, and in nakedness." This is the only alternative. We oscillate like a pendulum between these two points - serving God and serving cur enemies.
II. IN PROPORTION TO THE GOODNESS ABUSED IS THE CURSE THAT FOLLOWS. The language in the earlier part of these comminations clearly points to the overthrow of the people by the Assyrians. That calamity and the consequent captivity were the chastisements of wisdom - were part of the costly training by which Israel might have been recovered to the Divine favor. But even that severe correction soon lost its purifying effect. Another overthrow, more complete and galling yet, was therefore approaching. A yoke of iron was preparing for their neck, which should destroy their national life. More ruthless treatment should be endured under the Romans than under the Chaldeans. The sufferings in the siege were to be unparalleled. Mutual hate and rage would prevail. All the love of human nature would be turned into hateful selfishness. It would be the reign of hell upon the earth.
III. THE FATHERLY KINDNESS OF GOD IS DISPLAYED IN THIS FORECAST OF SIN'S EFFECTS. It must have been a pain to the heart of Moses (and greater pain still to the heart of God) to dwell on the terrific consequences of possible disobedience. It would have been more pleasant employment to have sketched out the prospects and rewards of righteousness. Yet in proportion to the pain felt in anticipating the desolation and misery of Israel, was the ardent love for Israel's good. If affection could erect beforehand any barrier which could withstand the torrent of evil, that barrier shall be erected. If love can abolish hell, it will. What language can measure the Divine love which thus pleads with men to eschew sin? Even a present sight of coming war does not deter men from sin.
IV. THE FULFILLMENT OF GOD'S THREATENINGS ARE A SIGN FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS. A thousand years elapsed before the woes foreshadowed were inflicted. With the Lord, "a thousand years are as one day." Nevertheless, every word spoken by Moses became a fact. The prophecy has been turned into history. In part, those prophecies are fulfilled today before our eyes: "Ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it;" "the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have any rest." The present condition of the Jews is a signal proof of the divinity of Scripture, an impressive symbol of the crushing judgments of God. Who can trifle with such a Being? Wisdom says, "Stand in awe, and sin not!" - D.
Because thou servedst not the lord.
1. First, then, the true service of the Lord; it must be by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us hear what the Scriptures say upon this, for it is a most essential matter: either we are serving God as Abel did, acceptably; or as Cain did, not acceptably. We cannot serve God by the works of the law; for the apostle saith, "Whatsoever the law saith" — and I may mention two things which it saith: first, that "he that offendeth in one point is guilty of the whole." Now, that one thing said by the law is enough to stop the mouth of anyone. Then again, it saith, "Cursed is he that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them." There are three things especially essential to serve God acceptably; these must be knowledge, faith, and love. You cannot do without these three. It is true, there are many other excellencies arising from them.
2. Now, a word or two upon this — to serve Him with joyfulness and with gladness of heart. I think we need the spirit of prayer upon this subject. So then may the Lord give us the spirit of prayer, that we may pray to be quickened, and to be made more and more lively in the service and ways of the Lord; for it is sure well to repay us; as saith David, "In keeping His ways there is indeed great reward"; a reward that far surpasseth gold, even much fine gold; and there is a sweetness therein sweeter than honey and the honeycomb. So, I say, we need the spirit of prayer for the Lord to keep us more and more in His blessed ways.
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