At the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, this word came from the LORD:
I. IN THEIR BEING REPEATED. It was substantially the same message as had been delivered before and been rejected. The question was not finally closed. Jehoiakim might show a disposition to repent and alter the policy of his father's government. In any case a new chance is afforded him and his people. God is slow to anger (Romans 10:21). The invitations of his love are still extended to us, notwithstanding the sins of the fathers and our own repeated violations of his Law (Hebrews 4:6-9). Even the backslider is addressed with frequent warnings and appeals - a proceeding which would have no meaning apart from God's reserved purpose of grace.
II. IN THEIR TIMELINESS. It was not only at the middle or end of Jehoiakim's reign, when he might have thought himself involved too deeply to retrace his steps, but at the very beginning. With a new king a fresh opportunity is offered for the nation also to return to its allegiance. Similarly does he stand at the threshold of every life and the opening of every career. He has "risen up early" and anticipated the transgressor in his evil way, or guided his faithful child into the paths of peace (cf. John 1:9).
III. IN THEIR FAITHFULNESS. "Stand in the court of the Lord's house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah... diminish not a word." To declare "all the words of this life" is the commission of Christ's servants, and to do this "in season and out of season." The exact situation of men, and the relation into which sin has brought them with respect to God, must be plainly stated; there is no room for flattery. It is absurd to suppose that such a policy is clue to vindictiveness. It can only be explained on the hypothesis of an earnest and thorough-going scheme of salvation. Sinners require to be faithfully dealt with, in order to awaken their conscience and constrain them to take advantage of the means provided for their deliverance.
IV. IN THEIR REVELATION OF HIS WILLINGNESS TO SAVE. It might almost appear weakness, yet is not Jehovah ashamed of this long-suffering. The attribute of mercy does not detract from the dignity or authority of Divine character; rather is it its glory. This forbearance and hesitation to inflict punishment can be attributed to no base motives. It is in harmony with his behavior at all times. How important is it that the repentant sinner should know the merciful disposition of him with whom he has to do l It is essential in every preaching of the gospel that this impression should be produced. The failure of one generation, again, is no reason for another being condemned before probation. God is "not willing that any should perish" (2 Peter 3:9) - M.
I will do you no hurt.I. THE IMPORT OF THE PROMISE.
1. Such a promise can apply to none but the people of God.
2. The Lord's people are apt to fear He should do them hurt, and hence He kindly assures them of the contrary. We want more of that love to God which beareth all things at His hand, which believeth all good things concerning Him, and hopeth for all things from Him.
3. As God will do no hurt to them that fear Him, so neither will He suffer others to hurt them. If God does not change their hearts, He win tie their hands; or if for wise ends He suffers them to injure you in your worldly circumstances, yet your heavenly inheritance is sure, and your treasure is laid up where thieves cannot break through nor steal.
4. More is implied in the promise than is absolutely expressed; for when the Lord says He will do His people no hurt, He means that He will really do them good. All things to God's people are blessings in their own nature, or are turned into blessings for their sake; so that all the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep His covenant and His testimonies to do them (Genesis 50:20; Jeremiah 24:5, 6; Romans 8:28).
II. THE ASSURANCE WE HAVE THAT THIS PROMISE WILL BE FULFILLED.
1. The Lord thinks no hurt of His people, and therefore He will certainly do them no hurt. His conduct is a copy of His decrees: He worketh all things according to the counsel of His own will, and therefore where no evil is determined, no evil can take place.
2. The Lord threatens them no hurt; no penal sentence lies against them.
3. He never has done them any hurt, but good, all the days of their life. Former experience of the Divine goodness should strengthen the believer's confidence, and fortify him against present discouragements (Judges 13:23; Psalm 42:6; Psalm 77:12; 2 Corinthians 1:10).
(B. Beddome, M.A.)
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