On that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and the creatures that crawl on the ground. And I will abolish bow and sword and weapons of war in the land, and will make them lie down in safety.
I. THE SIGNS OF APOSTASY AND INFIDELITY. These are again set forth under the similitude of a loved and well cared for, yet unfaithful and adulterous wife.
1. Forgetfulness of the Lord, the Husband. if he had been remembered, honored, and loved, others would not have been permitted to be his rivals and successors. To forget God is to fling one's self in the way of temptation.
2. The quest of other objects of affection and intimacy. When faithless Israel went after strange gods, "lovers," or paramours, she furnished an example of human infidelity to God. Men, forgetting God, worship the works of their hands, make idols of their talents, their wealth, their influence, their position in life, etc.
3. Devotion to the service of God's rivals. As the abandoned woman adorns herself, and sets forth her charms in order to attract the attention and admiration of men, so idolaters consume their substance and waste their energies in superstitious observances; and so all who forsake God encompass the vain objects of their devotion and affection with much lavish display of zeal
II. THE AVENGING OF APOSTASY AND INFIDELITY. The language of Jehovah is simple, but vigorous: "I will visit upon her the days of Baalim."
1. God observes with indignation the unfaithfulness of those whom he created for his glory. He will not give his honor to another. He is not indifferent or unconcerned when his own depart from him.
2. God makes use of punitive means to assert his authority, and to arrest the downward progress of those who are unfaithful to him. In the previous verses are recounted the several "judgments" which the righteous Governor inflicts upon the disobedient. All affliction is designed to lead our thoughts to him who is the great Chastener.
3. Retribution is with a view to the repentance and reformation of the offender. The Lord does not cast off his people; he does not afflict them willingly; in the midst of wrath he remembers mercy. - T.
I. PEACE WITH THE CREATURES.
And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field.
1. All the creatures of God are justly at enmity with man, and armed against him, so long as he is not reconciled to God their Creator.
2. Reconciliation with God brings peace with all the creatures, so far as is for the reconciled man's good.
3. That which secureth the godly man from trouble from the creatures, is God's dominion over all of them.
4. As peace and deliverance from war is a great blessing, so it is the Lord only who puts an end to war and giveth peace.
5. When a people study reconciliation with God, and are cordial in following a thorough reformation, they are in God's way for obtaining outward peace.
6. When the Lord hath given peace, it is He only who must maintain it, and can give quietness of mind to make people enjoy quietness and tranquillity by it. Unless He giveth peace, outward tranquillity will not afford it; and if He give that, we have no cause to complain, though we be in the midst of trouble.
( John Calvin.)
1. Sin has caused enmity between man and the creatures.
2. Peace with God brings peace with the creatures.
3. Covenant mercy is excellent mercy indeed. Two things observable in mercies coming by covenant. They are more sweet. They are more firm.
4. If it is such a blessed thing for God to make a covenant with the beasts for us, what a mercy is it then for God to make a covenant with our souls.
5. Is it a mercy for God to make a covenant with the beasts for His people? then what a mercy it is for Him to make a covenant with His Son for His people.
II. DELIVERANCE FROM THE HOSTILITY OF ADVERSARIES.
1. It is a great mercy to have the bow and the sword broken. It is a part of the covenant that God makes with His people, to take away the instruments of hostility.
2. Peace is a most amiable thing, and lovely in all our eyes, every man desires it, and God promises it to His people in many places as a most special fruit of His love. The shining of God's face appears in the giving of peace to a nation.
3. Peace is a sweet mercy, therefore it is a pity that it should be abused, and not improved.
4. Peace is sweet, therefore not to be falsified.
5. Peace is a great blessing, therefore it is a pity not to endeavour by every means to attain it. Cursed be that war which has not peace for its end.
6. Peace is a great blessing from God, but we must take heed we buy it not too dear. And you buy peace too dear, if you sell truth for it: if you betray those who have been most active for the public good. if, through desire of peace, you subject yourselves to tyranny or slavery.
7. Peace is God's peculiar work; we may treat about peace, but until God is pleased to permit it, it will not ensue,
8. Thorough reformation is the way to procure peace.
III. THE EFFECTS OF THIS PEACE. "I will make them to lie down safely."
1. God's peace alone brings safety.
2. "To lie down safely" is God's own gift to His people.It is an additional blessing to having the sword and bow broken.
Homilist.I. INFERIOR CREATURES MIGHT BE DIVINELY RESTRAINED FROM INJURING THEM. Were man to possess and manifest the moral majesty of goodness, the wildest and most savage creatures would probably stand in awe of him.
II. HUMAN ENEMIES MIGHT BE MADE TO SUBMIT TO THEM. Those who trust in the Lord need not be afraid of war. The spirit of the good man is to overcome evil with good.
III. THEY MIGHT ENJOY A PERFECT SECURITY. The true safety is not the mere safety of the body. The body is not the man, it is his — not him. Soul-safety is the safety of the man — protection from all that is unholy in thought, impure in feeling, unrighteous in volition.
IV. THEY MIGHT ENJOY VITAL UNION WITH THE EVERLASTING FOUNTAIN OF GOODNESS. Here is union indeed! Represented by that of husband and wife; a union formed of immutable ties. Righteousness, judgment, loving-kindness, faithfulness — who can break these bonds? Learn the supreme importance of moral goodness to man.
And I will betroth thee unto Me for ever
I. SINNERS MAY BE ESPOUSED TO CHRIST. As to the nature of the espousals. The parties are pleased with one another. As Christ left His Father's house for her, she gives up her own people and her father's house for Him. The glorious Bride-groom's consent to be her husband she finds in the word, which the Spirit applies to her, and which she by faith applies to herself. Sinners may be espoused to the Son of God.
1. This match was from eternity projected and concluded in the cabinet-council of the Trinity.
2. The Bridegroom and all His relations are well pleased with the match.
3. The lawful impediments of this match are all removed at the Bridegroom's expenses and pains.
4. The marriage contract is drawn up already and signed by the Bridegroom.
5. The proxies for the Bridegroom are sent forth to make suit for sinners their consent to be espoused to Him.
6. The Bridegroom has already put on His marriage robes.
7. The wedding garment for the bride is ready, being purchased at the expense of the Bridegroom.
8. The tent for the espousals is set up, even the Church.
9. The feast and seal of the espousals, namely, the holy sacrament, is ready, that the espoused bride may feast and rejoice in her Lord and husband.
10. Here are witnesses now. Here are the friends of the Bridegroom to bear witness to the espousals.
II. THE PERPETUITY AND EVERLASTINGNESS OF THIS MARRIAGE COVENANT.
1. The espousals are for ever in design. Among men espousals are only for term of life. Christ takes the sinner with a design to be that sinner's husband from the moment of the espousals for ever: and His designs are immovable as mountains of brass. He takes her with the fixed purpose never to put her away while she desires to abide with Him: never indeed to part with her, though she should desire to go away. The soul consenting to the espousals takes Christ with a design to be His spouse for ever.
2. The espousals are for ever, in fact.(1) It is everlasting without interruption. Espousals stand firm in the case of the adversity of either party; in the case of the advancement of either party; in the case of desertion on either side.(2) It is everlasting without expiring, either at death, or at the world's ending.
(T. Boston, D. D.)
1. God had indeed from the beginning covenanted with the Israelites in righteousness and judgment; there is nothing disguised or false in His covenant. As then God had in sincerity adopted the people, to what vices does He oppose righteousness and judgment? I answer, These words must be applied to both the contracting parties; then by righteous ness God means not only His own, but that also which is, as they say, mutual and reciprocal; and by "righteousness and judgment" is meant rectitude, in which nothing is wanting.
2. "In kindness and mercies." By these words He intimates that though the people were unworthy, yet this would be no impediment in their way to prevent them to return into favour with God; for in this reconciliation God would regard His own goodness rather than the merits of His people.
3. "In faithfulness." This confirms the fixed and unchangeable duration of the marriage. By faithfulness is to be understood that stability of which I have spoken; for what some philosophise on this expression is too refined, who give this explanation, "I will espouse thee in faith," that is, by the Gospel. For we embrace God's free promises, and thus the covenant the Lord makes with us is ratified. I simply interpret the word as denoting stability.
( John Calvin.)summum bonum both of personal and of corporate life. That wedding is the crown and consummation of human blessedness. That wedding enshrines the secret of moral and spiritual growth. To bring that wedding about is the aim and purpose of every kind and type of Christian ministry. What is the kind of wooing that will lead to a wedding? Let me begin here.
I. HE IS NOT A FAR-AWAY SAVIOUR; HIS HOME IS ON EARTH. I do not think we greatly help the cause of the Lover by proclaiming the remoteness of the Lover's home.
"There's a Friend for little children
Above the bright blue sky."That is the only line I don't like in that greatly beloved and very beautiful hymn. In my childhood it helped to make my Saviour an absentee, and He was "above the bright blue sky" when I wanted Him on the near and common earth. Destroying all sense of remoteness, we must labour to bring the children into the immediate presence of the Lover Himself. All the three attributes must be regarded in indissoluble union. The quality of each depends upon the presence of all. Strike out one, and you maim and impoverish the rest. There is an imperfect love in which there is no admiration. There is an imperfect admiration in which there is no love. Perfect love admires; perfect admiration loves; and love and admiration are ever associated with the gracious spirit of hopeful aspiration. These three, I say, constitute the very marrow of life, the deep secret springs of character and conduct. "We live by admiration, hope, and love." If the great Lover can win these, the wooing will be followed by the wedding! How can we so represent Him that this triumph shall be won?
1. Present the approachable Jesus. But not only His simplicity must we reveal, but His sympathy too!
2. Present Jesus the Hero. "We live by love." By "admiration," too! "Thou art worthy, O Christ, to receive all honour and glory."
3. Loving! Admiring! These fair dispositions will be assuredly associated with the beautiful genius of hope.
II. WOOING AND LIVING MUST GO TOGETHER. What more shall we say about ourselves? Let this be said: While we are employed in wooing do not let us be heedless as to the manner of our living. Those who woo for the Master must be careful how they live. Let us distinguish between a wedding and a funeral, and in our wooing let it be tire wedding-bells which lend their music to our speech.
III. When shall we begin the wooing? John Ruskin said: "When do you suppose the education of a child begins? At six months old it can answer smile with smile, and impatience with impatience." Perhaps we have to begin the wooing even in the speechless years. In the life of the spirit I believe in early wooings because I believe in early weddings! As for the wedding itself, the betrothal to the Lord, I would have it a very decisive act. It must be a conscious, intelligent consecration. The vow must not be made in thoughtlessness; not in any bewildering and sensational transports. In the rapture there must be the moderating presence of serious and illumined thought.
(J. H. Jowett, M. A.)
I. THE BETROTHING, OR ENGAGING, IS FOR EVER. There is no separation of the parties here, from any cause. No offence can possibly arise, be given or be taken, so as to separate the Church from its Head. No other lover can possibly steal away the affections of believers from Jesus Christ. There are many compacts made between man and man, but time breaks them all. Here is a covenant which time cannot break. God has entered into covenant with Jesus Christ on the part of the Church, and Christ has undertaken to preserve them during the existence of time. But is it not possible for sin to separate? No, not as touching eternity.
II. THIS BETROTHING IS IN RIGHTEOUSNESS. Justice, or righteousness, is that perfection of God, whereby He is disposed to render every man his due. All His .proceedings are in perfect equity. There is no part of our eternal salvation which is in opposition to the essential righteousness of God.
III. THIS BETROTHING IS IN JUDGMENT. That is, with judgment, not with precipitancy. The Most High will not act in anything rashly, but in a judicious, proper, righteous way: He does not save our souls as a manifestation of His mercy, at the expense of His righteousness. It signifies also the satisfaction of God's justice, and it includes the exercise of His mercy.
IV. THIS BETROTHAL IS IN FAITHFULNESS. Look at the faithfulness of Christ, or of God in Christ. Faithfulness to covenant and promises.
V. THIS BETROTHAL IS IN LOVING-KINDNESS AND IN MERCIES. Consider a few of them.
1. The revelation of God contained in the Bible.
2. The love of Jesus Christ our Lord.
3. The gift of the Holy Spirit.
4. The hope for the hereafter.
VI. THE RESULTS. "Thou shalt know the Lord." Thou shalt know that God hath from eternity chosen thee as a vessel of mercy. Thou shalt know Him as thy great Creator, thy Preserver, thy Redeemer, etc.
(T. Bagnall-Baker, M. A.)
(E. B. Pusey, D. D.)
1. There is the nearest possible union. "They twain shall be one flesh."
2. In nothing in the world is there so full a communication of one creature to another as in marriage; so in our spiritual marriage with Christ there is a most intimate communion.
3. In a married condition, there is a mutual, entire love. That is, loving the person more than the benefits received from him. True love can be satisfied with nothing else but love. Entire love is a love in all conditions. In love there is unspeakable delight.There are two soul-staying and soul-satisfying grounds to assure of Christ's betrothing Himself for ever.
1. When a soul is taken into Christ, it receives not only pardon for sins past, but there is forgiveness in store for all future transgressions.
2. Another argument for perseverance is, that it is a spiritual mercy purchased by Christ, as well as any other grace.
(Jeremiah Burroughs.)Hosea 2:19, 20). This betrothed one had nothing to commend her to the notice of such a Bridegroom but her helplessness, her deformity, her wretchedness. There was no beauty in her that He should desire her, She was a rebel, an alien, an outcast; yet, marvel of marvels, "the Prince of the kings of the earth" set His love upon her. He became poor that she might become rich. He bore her sin that she might bear His righteousness. He bore her reproach that she might bear His glory. He gave Himself for her because no less gift would suffice to lift her from sin and place her at His side. We search in vain for a story of love like this. It is unique, and we think of it till, with tear-filled eyes and trembling voice, we sing —
"Jesus, Thy boundless love to me
No thought can reach, no tongue declare."
(J. Gregory Mantle.)
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