Has not the food been cut off before our very eyes--joy and gladness from the house of our God?
I. THE DAY OF THE LORD IS A DAY OF CALAMITY AND RETRIBUTION. This is plain from its further designation as a day of destruction, and from the prefatory exclamation "Alas]" with which it is introduced. Superstition, no doubt, has often misinterpreted the calamities of human life; yet it would be insensibility and spiritual blindness not to recognize the presence of God in the day of adversity. Such a day is the Lord's, as reminding us of the Lord's Kingship over creation, and as summoning us to sincere repentance towards God.
II. THE DAY OF THE LORD IS A DAY OF JUDGMENT. The retribution of the present is an earnest of the day of recompense to all mankind, when the Judge of all shall summon all nations to his bar.
III. THE DAY OF THE LORD IS TO HIS PEOPLE THE DAY OF SPIRITUAL AND IMPERISHABLE BLESSING. SO the Apostle Peter interprets the language of the Prophet Joel. The outpouring of spiritual blessing, the effecting of spiritual deliverance, the fulfilling of the purposes of infinite mercy, shall all come about in that promised and expected day. - T.
Is not the meat cut off before our eyes.I. THAT SIN DEPRIVES MAN OF HIS CHERISHED HOPE. "Is not the meat cut off before our eyes?"
1. This deprivation was unexpected. The ripe crops were seen by the people of Judah, who were rejoicing in the prospect of a safe harvest, when to their astonishment all was destroyed. And sin deprives sinners of their expected pleasures just when they are within sure reach, and turns in an unexpected moment the fairest prospects into barren wastes, it is the way of God to disappoint the evil-doer of his cherished anticipations.
2. This deprivation was calamitous. The people of Judah were dependent upon the ripe crops for the supply of their temporal wants, and would not be able to provide anything as a substitute for them. And sin does not merely deprive man of those things which are for his luxury, but even those things which are essential to his bare comfort.
3. This deprivation was righteous. The people of Judah might imagine that it was very unjust thus to deprive them of the harvest for which they had laboured, and that too at the very moment they were expecting to gather it in for use. They would be unable to understand the equity and meaning of such a visitation. But it is a righteous thing that sin should be punished, and in the manner most likely to restrain it, and this is often done by the destruction of a cherished hope.
II. THAT SIN DEPRIVES THE SANCTUARY OF ITS APPROPRIATE JOY. "Is not the meat cut off before our eyes, yea, joy and gladness from the house of our Lord?"
1. That joy should ever be associated with the service of the sanctuary. Joy and gladness always belonged to the ancient temple; thither the Jews went to give thanks, and to acknowledge themselves the blessed of the Lord. But now they could not rejoice in the presence of God, because of the calamities which were upon them.
2. That sin deprives the sanctuary of the joy which should ever be associated with it. The sins of the people of Judah rendered it impossible for them to participate in their usual harvest festivals, and divested the Divine presence of its accustomed joy. And sin will extinguish the bright lights of the sanctuary; it will hush its sweet music, and stay the spring of joy which God has destined should flow from the temple into human souls.
III. THAT SIN DEPRIVES THE SEED OF ITS NECESSARY VITALITY. "The seed is rotten under the clods, the garners are laid desolate, the barns are broken down; for the corn is withered." Thus we see that sin perverts the natural order of God's universe, it renders the seed which is full of life destitute of all vitality. The seed is precious; man's sin makes it useless. God can plague man's mercies in the germ or in the barn, it is impossible to escape His retribution.
IV. THAT SIN DEPRIVES THE BRUTE OF ITS REFRESHING PASTURE. "How do the beasts groan! the herds of cattle are perplexed, because they have no pasture, yea, the flocks of sheep are made desolate." All the life and interests of the universe arc one, and one part of it cannot suffer without involving the rest; hence the sin of man affects the whole. Lessons —
1. That men who imagine that they gain anything by sin are deceived.
2. That sin divests the most sacred places of their destined gladness.
3. That sin brings famine where God intended there should be plenty.
(J. S. Exell, M. A.)
The seed is rotten under their clods.
I. SOME OF THE PREVAILING SINS WHICH HAVE BROUGHT US INTO OUR PRESENT SITUATION. The vices which, on account of their enormity and uncommon spread, may be considered as, in a certain degree, peculiar to the present age.
1. Ingratitude. No nation ever experienced more of the kindness of heaven. Our climate is desirable; our minerals are varied and abundant; our situation favours our independence; our form of government is just and efficient. Internal peace is a blessing we have long enjoyed, Has our gratitude increased in proportion as our blessings have been multiplied? Consider, too, our religious privileges. What returns have we made to God for these mercies?
2. Pride. This has been called the universal passion. It is by no means peculiar to our country and times. Yet it may be called one of the peculiar sins of our age. Would to God that pride were confined to the State! Alas! its ravages have extended to the Church.
3. Infidelity has of late been greatly increasing. There is public avowed scepticism, by which revelation in general is censured and rejected.
4. Luxury and licentiousness of manners prevail to a most alarming degree. Was there ever a period, not excepting the age of the second Charles, when profanity, intemperance, seduction, and other vices were so common? Lewdness and intemperance are not confined to the more wealthy. Our prosperity, it may be said, is the cause of all these disorders. But shall we dare to palliate our vices by that which aggravates them in an inconceivable degree?
5. The prevailing influence of a worldly spirit.
6. The spirit of irreligion. As seen in the practice of profane swearing, in the omission of family duties, and in the neglect of Divinely instituted ordinances.
II. THE MEANS OF DELIVERANCE. Consider those important duties without which there is neither safety nor hope.
1. We must return to God in the exercise of faith.
2. The review of our sins ought to fill us with grief.
3. Our faith and contrition must be accompanied with a universal reformation of our hearts and conduct. Exercise faith in God. Present to Him the sacrifices of a broken spirit. Be concerned to mortify the whole body of sin. These are duties beyond the strength of fallen humanity. The Spirit alone can enable us to perform them. To Unwearied diligence let us add fervent supplication to the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, that He would have mercy upon us, and cause His Spirit to descend as a spirit of faith, of contrition, and of holiness.
(Samel Cox, D. D.)
(Rowland Williams, D. D.)
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