Behold, the Lord has a strong and mighty one. Like a hailstorm or destructive tempest, like a driving rain or flooding downpour, He will smash it to the ground.
I. DENUNCIATION OF WOE. The condition of Samaria was like that of Jerusalem. And judgment must first fall upon Samaria, and then upon Jerusalem (Isaiah 8:6; cf. Micah 1:6). Drunkenness is named," not as the root of the national evil, but rather as its flower. The appalling thing is that when all is on the point of collapsing, those responsible for the state should be given up to careless self-indulgence" (Cheyne). Samaria is described as the city of the "proud crown." So in Greece Athens was called the city of the violet crown, and Thebes the "well-crowned." Some explain the crown of the towers; others think that the mere beauty of the hill on which the city stands, with its cultivated terraces, covered with corn and with fig and olive trees, has given rise to the figure. But a worm is at the root of all this beauty, and Samaria must die. Drunkenness may stand for sensuality in general, which saps the root of a nation's life. The crown, or chaplet, alludes also to the custom among Greeks, Romans, and Jews, of wearing a chaplet of flowers at feasts. In the Book of Wisdom we read -
"Let us fill ourselves with costly wine and ointments:
II. THE IMPENDING DESTRUCTION. Jehovah has an unflinching instrument for destruction. And, like an overwhelming tempest and flood of waters, destruction will come down on the devoted city. The bright crown shall be trampled underfoot; and Ephraim's beauty shall be swallowed up with all the haste with which one devours the special delicacy of the "early fig" (cf. Hosea 9:10; Micah 7:1; Habakkuk 3:12; Jeremiah 24:2). It ripens in June. The whole is a picture of sudden and utter destruction. (For the Assyrian king as agent in the hand of Jehovah, cf. 2 Kings 17:3-6. For the storm of hail as a symbol of desolation, cf. Job 27:21; Hosea 13:15. And for the flood as a representation of hostile devastation, cf. Psalm 95:5; Jeremiah 46:7, 8.) In the moral order, sudden destruction is always connected with great impiety. The triumphing of the wicked is short; and while they speak of peace, sudden destruction arriveth. "What Isaiah declared about the kingdom of Israel applies also to the whole world. By their ingratitude, men prevent all the goodness which the Lord has bestowed upon them from reaching maturity; for we abuse his blessings and corrupt them by our wickedness. The consequence is that hasty and short-lived fruits are produced, which cannot yield us continual nourishment" (Calvin). Luxury blinds, blindness leads to stumbling, and presently to a sudden fall.
III. FULFILMENTS OF MESSIANIC PROMISE. Here again the sky clears, and the star of hope glimmers. To the converted remnant Jehovah will be as a glittering Crown and a splendid Diadem. The royalty of the Divine King shall be more glorious than the famed beauty of Samaria, whose crown shall have been trampled in the dust, and his government a fairer chaplet to adorn the Divine seat. There will be a true beauty and glory in the Messianic times. Moreover, there will be a spirit of justice and sound intelligence diffused. The priests, the spiritual leaders, will be especially imbued with it (cf. Deuteronomy 17:8-12; Exodus 21:22; 2 Chronicles 19:5-8). But the magistracy in general will be enlightened and instructed by the Spirit of God. Further, there will be valor in the field, so that the generals and their soldiers will be able to turn back war to the gate - probably of the city whence their foes came (2 Samuel 11:23, "And we were upon them, even unto the entering of the gate"). There will, in short, in the ideal or Messianic government, be a government strong both internally and externally, wisdom and justice in home administration, strength and valor towards the foe without. These are needed for every empire and kingdom; and they come from God. "The Lord is our Defense." "Magistrates will not be able to rule and administer justice in a city, and military generals will not be able to repel enemies, unless the Lord shall direct them." To place our confidence in the world is to gather flowers, which forthwith fade and decay. We then seek to be happy without God, that is, without happiness itself. If we seek protection and good in God, then no calamities can prevent him from adorning the Church. When it shall appear that everything is on the eve of destruction, God will still be a Crown of glory to his people (Calvin). - J.
Judgment also will I lay to the line.I. The Lord PONDERS, with most exact attention, all the distinctions of characters, times, and circumstances; all the various motives both to lenity and severity.
II. He ACTS in a manner suited to His perfect knowledge.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
1. The first is the hope which some men ground upon their own moral goodness. It will not stand trial by the first plummet; it is not based upon the foundation which God has laid. Try the second touch stone as to faith. Your hope is not based on faith in Jesus; you have no faith except in yourself. Moreover, is not this plea of moral goodness a falsehood from top to bottom? Recollect that even if your outward life may have been correct, God regards the heart, and takes account of the inner life.
2. A number of persons make a refuge for themselves out of the notion of fate. This would not endure one of the tests and assuredly not the last, for its tendency is to deny all moral obligation, and hence it is no friend to holiness. It deliberately charges God with the creature's sin, and makes out the sinner to be the injured person.
3. The third shelter of lies which many fly to is a hope based upon novel doctrines. So far as my observation goes, these modern notions go with looseness of life, with world linens of heart, with decay of prayerfulness, and with backsliding from the living God.
4. We have another brood of men whose refuge is that they make a profession of religion.
5. Let me speak a word concerning certain who have a hope of being saved which does not sanctify them.
6. Some, too, make a refuge of their old experience. A true experience continues and grows day by day.
II. PICTURE THE DESTRUCTION OF THESE REFUGES OF LIES. A man has been very comfortable in one or other of these refuges for a good number of years, but at last he is getting old, and is laid aside to think; infirmities are increasing. death is drawing nigh, and he takes a look into the dark future. He finds himself facing an eternal state, and has need of all his confidences and hopes to sustain him. Now, what happens? His spirit undergoes a great storm, and what is the result? Does he dwell in a fortress which defies the hurricane? No, his shelter is so frail, that, according to the text, "the hail" shall sweep away the refuges of lies. A cold, hard truth falls from Heaven like a hailstone, and crashes right through the glass roof of his false confidence. He looks up astonished. and, in! another and another forgotten truth descends with like violence and crushes through all opposition till it smites his soul. Down falls all his comfort and peace of mind, as hailstone after hailstone pounds all his hope to pieces. "After all, I never was born again, and the Scripture hath well said, 'Ye must be born again.' I never yielded up my selfishness, and I cannot be saved unless Christ is my King. I did not really close in with Christ and cast my naked soul on Him." Another impressive picture is set before us. "The flood shall overflow his hiding place." Imagine one who, in the time of Noah's flood, does not choose to enter into the ark, for he does not care to be tied down to God's way of deliverance. He wants a more philosophic way. Besides, he does not care to be cooped up with Noah and a handful of narrow-minded people, who shut themselves in and shut everybody else out. He has broader views, and therefore he has found a shelter on the side of the hill, in a great cave where thousands can assemble, and enjoy a liberty denied them within the pale of the ark. It is utterly preposterous to suppose the flood will ever reach so high as this elevated cave. After a day or two Of extraordinary rain the man would look down from his hiding place and see the waters covering all the lower area, and creeping up the valleys foot by foot, and he would remark upon the abundance of rain, but scoff at the idea of a general deluge. He would be easy, hoping that the rain would cease, but as it continued he would begin to think, "I may not be quite so safe after all." Imagine his horror when the flood at last fills up the ravine, and creeps up the rocky steep. With cruel lip, seeking his destruction, the water threatens the cave wherein he thought to dwell so safely. At last it penetrates his hiding place, it climbs to the very roof, it sweeps over his head, and his false confidence has proved his ruin. Such will be the end of all who hide themselves, but hide not in Christ. I will tell you in what fashion this overthrow will come. First, the mirth of the mind is damped with doubt. The man does not feel so easy as he used to be; he is afraid that God's Word may be true, and that things will go amiss with him. Soon the doubt has oozed into his refuge, and become a pool of fear: the man is sadly afraid, and the dread saturates and dissolves all his joy. The truth of God's Word still further comes home to his conscience, and he begins to be more and more alarmed: nor does he continue long in one stay, for he is growingly distressed, the waters are evidently advancing upon him and he cannot escape. He has come to be altogether dismayed, he hardly knows what will become of him; and within a little while, unless God's mercy shall prevent and enable him to find the true shelter, he win be drenched in despair and washed away in terror. At last he cannot believe that there is any salvation possible for him.
III. THE LESSON ON WARNING. Let us build on God's foundation. He knows better than we do what is right and safe.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
The hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies.
I. A false refuge in which many indulge is a SELFISH RELIGION. Selfishness in any form is in exact opposition to religion. It makes no difference as to the type which selfishness puts on. The question is, does a man make his own interest the object of pursuit? If so, such conduct is the exact opposite of that benevolence which Christ manifested, when He laid Himself out for the good of mankind and the glory of God. We should love God for what God is, and we should love our neighbours as ourselves. Where there is true religion it will manifest itself in prayer, praise, and obedience. It will manifest itself with respect to God in efforts to please Him, to honour Him, and to glorify Him, and an earnest desire to secure the love, confidence, and obedience of all men. It is not selfishness for a man to have a proper regard for his own salvation; but it is for him to regard his own salvation only, and care not for the salvation of his neighbour. Further, this is the true way for a man to secure his own salvation; by caring for the salvation of others. "Whosoever will save his life," said Christ, "shall lose it; but whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it."
II. Another refuge of lies to which mankind betake themselves is RELIGIOUS IMPULSE. This is a prevailing form of selfishness. This delusion consists in appealing to the feelings instead of to God's law as developed in the conscience and reason. Such persons as these think themselves very religious, because they feel deeply upon the subject. Let the circumstances subside which excited their feelings, and you see that they have not the root of the matter within them.
III. Others have a MERE RELIGION OF OPINION, which is just the opposite of a religion of impulse. These opinions do not mould their lives.
IV. Another refuge of lies is the RELIGION OF SECTARIANISM.
V. Another refuge of lies is HAVING REGARD TO WHAT IS OUTWARD, the performance of certain external actions without love to God in the heart. There are a great many men who think themselves very religious because they pay their debts.
( C. G. Finney.)
I. You say, "If I am elect I shall be saved, do what I may; but if I am not elect I must be damned, do what I will; and, therefore, there is no use in my trying to do anything." Election is not iron fate, but unutterable love. Do you act in this manner about carnal things? A friend invites you to dinner; the table is spread before you. You are asked to sit down. "Stop," you say, "does not God know everything?" "Yes," says your friend. "Well," you say, "God knows whether I shall eat this food or not: so it's all fixed, and I can't alter it; and if I am not to eat that dinner, I cannot eat it, even though I were to try to eat it: whereas, if I am to eat it, I must eat it, even though I were to rise and leave the room and try to go without it; and, therefore, I will sit still and do nothing." Would you reason thus? If not, why say, when God lays the "Bread of Life" before you, "If I am to eat of the Bread of Life, I must, do what I may; if I am not to partake of it, I cannot, do what I will; and, therefore, I will sit still and do nothing"? If Christ does not really offer to save you I have nothing further to say, but you admit He does.
II. "I trust in the mercy of God." If that is all your trust it is "a refuge of lies" You answer, Is not God merciful? More merciful than you can conceive, but it will not do to trust in the mere mercy of God. God's mercy will not save you till you are inside the tower of refuge, Christ Jesus.
III. "We do the best we can." What! You do the best you can? Then you are safe. If you really have done the best you could to this present hour, you are this moment as safe as the angel Gabriel. But will you solemnly declare that you have never sinned? Ah no! The best thing you can do is to look to what another has done for you, even Jesus!
IV. Some are flattering themselves that they believe in Jesus Christ, and are in the road to Heaven, while they are without that faith which alone can save the soul. Let me ask you who say, "I do believe," what it is you believe that can justify you? You say, "I believe that Jesus Christ came into the world to teach us the way to Heaven." So did that young man who came to Christ of old. You answer, "I believe in the great judgment to come." So did Felix, when Paul stood before him "and reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come." You answer, "I believe that Jesus was the innocent sufferer for the guilty, and that He is truly the Son of God." So did Judas. You answer, "I believe that Jesus died that He might save sinners, and rose to glory everlasting." So did Ananias and Sapphira. Do you ask, at last, what am I to believe, that I may be saved? What did that dying thief believe who went to Heaven? More than either Judas or Satan. Did he not believe that Jesus was his own Saviour, and did he not confidently trust in Him that He would bear him in everlasting remembrance, and did he not call Him "Lord"?
V. "I must wait God's time." The solemn truth is, Christ is waiting for you. Did you ever read His own words? "Behold, I stand at the door and knock." Is not that waiting?
VI. "We know all this is true, and we mean to turn, but there is time enough yet." Oh, the unreasonableness of your course! Why would you turn by and by?
1. Because Christ beseeches you? And does not He as much beseech you now? And will you not grieve and insult Him by delaying?
2. Because God commands you? And does He not as much command you now? And are you not disobeying and defying Him by delaying?
3. Because danger threatens you? And is not death behind your back even now?
(H. Grattan Guinness.)
I. I will now proceed to NAME SOME THINGS THAT LACK THIS DECISIVE CHARACTERISTIC. They do not save the soul from sin.
1. An unsanctifying hope of Heaven.
2. An old experience, that is all old.
3. There are two forms of self-righteousness — the legal and the Gospel — both of which are refuges of lies. The legal depends on duty doing — evermore trying to work out salvation by deeds of law. The Gospel form sets itself to get grace by works.
II. And now TAKE NOTICE OF WHAT GOD SAYS. "The hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place." This hail is the symbol of God's displeasure. It is fit that God should be displeased with these refuges of lies. He loves truth too well to have the least sympathy with lies. He loves the souls of men too deeply to have any patience with agencies so destructive. The waters, He declares, shall overflow the hiding places. Every resort that leaves the soul in sin is a hiding place.
1. All religious affectation is such, and is nothing better.
2. So of all religious formality — going through the forms of worship, being in the Church, being baptized — what avails it all unless their piety be instinct with life and that life be the soul of real holiness
3. A great many people hide in the Church.
4. Others hide under the plea of a sinful nature. They are naturally unable to do anything.
5. Some dodge under professors of religion.
( C. G. Finney.)
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