Ephraim surrounds me with lies, the house of Israel with deceit; but Judah still walks with God and is faithful to the Holy One.
I. THE NATURE OF THE LIES OF A NATION. Lies are as abundant in England today as they were in Ephraim centuries ago. The social atmosphere is infested with falsehoods.
1. There are commercial lies. From the largest warehouse to the pedlar's paltry stall lies abound. They infest the commercial world more densely far than insects the summer air.
2. There are theological lies. Doctrines are propounded and enforced from the press and theological chairs utterly untrue to eternal realities.
3. There are religious lies. Sentiments and aspirations are expressed in the prayers, psalmodies, and liturgies of congregations, untrue to facts, untrue to the experience of those who give them utterance.
4. There are literary lies. The journals and volumes that stream from the modern press teem with falsehood. Surely, if the Almighty were to speak of England as he spoke of Ephraim in olden times, he would say it "compasseth me about with lies."
"How false are men, both in their heads and hearts!
II. THE CAUSE OF THE LIES OF A NATION. All lies spring from at least three sources.
1. Vanity. A desire to appear before our compeers in the world greater than we are, leads to the exaggeration of our virtues, if we have any, and to the denial of our infirmities and faults.
2. Greed. Greed is a prolific source of falsehood. Greed creates the lies that crowd our markets.
3. Fear. Fear creates lies as shields of defense. Religious lies spring in a great measure from fear. Nearly all the lies that fill the world are the children either of vanity, greed, or fear.
III. THE EVIL OF THE LIES OF A NATION. All lies are bad things.
1. They are bad in themselves. They are repugnant to the God of truth. They are a miasma in the moral atmosphere, essentially offensive as well as pernicious.
2. They are bad in their influence. Lies deceive and ruin. Every system built on lies, commercial, scientific, political, and religions, is like a house built on the sand that must tumble down before the rushing storms of reality.
"Let falsehood be a stranger to thy lips:
Ephraim compasseth Me about with lies.
1. Many, in their prayers, in the solemn act of worship, beset God with lies. Can God be deceived? No, but they did what lay in them to deceive Him; if it were possible for God to have been deceived they would have deceived Him.
2. Many also beset the business and affairs that they manage with lies. They plot with themselves how they may handsomely contrive to put together a goodly number of lies, that so they may beset men's understandings. There are such cunning attempts in the world to beset the understandings of men, that men shall not know what to say to things; and yet, whilst they cannot tell how to believe them, neither do they know what to say, things are so contrived. Deceitful men think with themselves, If such a thing shall be questioned, then I have such a shift to put it off; and if another thing shall be doubted of, then I have such a report, and such a fair pretence, to make it good.
3. When men are once engaged in shifts and lies, they grow pertinacious in them, and there is little hope of their recovery.
( John Calvin.)
But Judah... is faithful with the saints
1. With Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with Moses, with the prophets, with the forefathers.
2. Faithful with such as are sanctified, the true priests of God, that God has sanctified to Himself. Whereas Jeroboam took of the lowest of the people and made them priests to God, Judah would have no other priests but the sanctified ones of God.
3. Faithful with the people of God. For all of Israel that were holy, that were godly, that were saints, and were not detained by some special hand of God, went up from the Ten Tribes to Judah, to the true worship of God; now Judah entertained them, and used them well, and was faithful to them. But on the contrary, Israel, the Ten Tribes, were unfaithful, by using the saints of God evilly that would worship God according to God's own way; they were cruel and oppressing and unfaithful to them, but Judah was faithful towards such, embracing and encouraging them. For us to go on in faithfulness, though we have none to join with, is a commendation; and the ways of God are excellent, whether any or no do join with us in them. But it is a great encouragement to be faithful with the saints; that is, to go on in those ways in which we see the saints walk: and to join with the saints, with such as are the choice saints of God, greatly encourages and strengthens the people of God in their way.
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