I. THE PROPHET'S MESSAGE WAS A BURDEN TO HIMSELF. Denunciations of wrong doing and wrong doers lose their true force when those who utter them enjoy their work. Then they put into them a bitter tone, which makes them ungod-like messages. Stern things have still to be spoken for God, but they must be spoken with pathos in the tone, and tears ready to start. No man can deliver a message of judgment aright, unless he feels it to be a burden.
II. THE PROPHET'S MESSAGE SHOULD BE A BURDEN TO THOSE ADDRESSED. A burden of holy concern. It should set them upon grave self-searching. It should burden them with anxiety about their sins, and with earnest efforts to put sin away. If it was not taken as a burden in that sense, it would become a burden as bringing upon them full, unrelieved, Divine judgments.
III. THE PROPHET'S MESSAGE MAY BE THOUGHT OF AS A BURDEN TO GOD. "Judgment is his strange work;" "In all their affliction he was afflicted;" "Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked?" We are permitted to think that it troubles God to punish his people. He is burdened by the messages which our sin compels him to send. - R.T.
The burden of the Word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi.
I. IT WAS A BURDEN OF DIVINE REVELATION. Words reveal. A true word is a manifestation of the soul. God was known by the utterances of these inspired men. His Word is now His choicest revelation. His Word is true, faithful, precious, enlightening, saving, eternal.
II. IT IS A BURDEN BORNE BY THE HOLIEST OF MEN. God speaks through men. Many holy men now feel that the Word of God is in them. This burden should be borne by these holy men, humbly, prayerfully, thankfully, and conscientiously.
III. IT IS A BURDEN BORNE FOR THE WORLD. God's Word must not be hidden. Truth heard in the inner sanctuary of the soul must be proclaimed upon the housetops. God's Word is for all nations. Whoever has it, has this burden for the world, He must carry it fearfully, distinctly, honestly, and unadulteratedly. Let the churches pray much for those who bear the burden of the Word. Often they are oppressed with their responsibilities.
(W. Osborne Lilley.)
I. WHY IS THE WORD OF THE LORD A BURDEN TO HIM THAT SPEAKETH IT? It is a burden because it is the Word of the Lord.
1. The Word of the Lord becomes a burden in the reception of it. No man can preach the Gospel aright until he has had it borne into his own soul with overwhelming energy. True preaching is artesian, it wells up from the great depths of the soul.
2. The Word of God is a burden in the delivery of it. He that finds it easy to preach, will find it hard work to give an account of his preaching at the last great day. To speak aright, God's Word beneath the Divine influence is, in the speaking as well as in the getting of the message, the burden of the Lord.
3. When we have preached, the Gospel becomes a burden in after consideration. If God sends any of us to do good to our fellow-men, and to speak in His name, the souls of men will be a perpetual burden to us.
II. IT IS A BURDEN BECAUSE OF WHAT IT IS. What is it that the true servant of God has to bear and preach?
1. It is the rebuke of sin. If a man bears the burden of the Word of the Lord, he speaks most to his people upon the evil of which they are most guilty. Every true preacher must be careless of man's esteem, and speak faithfully; but this is a burden to one of a tender spirit.
2. The Word of the Lord gives a rebuff to human pride. The doctrines of the Gospel seem shaped on purpose, among other objects, to bring into contempt all human glory. So human nature does not like our message. And such preaching becomes the burden of the Lord.
3. The true preacher has to come into contact with the vanity of human intellect. The things of God are hidden from the wise and prudent, but revealed unto babes; and the wise and prudent are indignant at this act of Divine sovereignty. To face false science with the "polishness of preaching," and to set up the Cross in the teeth of learned self-sufficiency, is a burden from the Lord.
4. The most heavy burden is that which concerns the future. We are heavy at heart for the many who will not turn to God, but persist in destroying their own souls for ever.
III. IT IS A BURDEN BECAUSE OF THE CONSEQUENCES OF OUR BEARING IT TO YOU. Suppose that we do not preach the Gospel, and warn the wicked man, so that he turn not from his iniquity, what then? "He shall perish, but his blood will I require at thy hand." What will my Lord say to me if I am unfaithful to you? Then it becomes a great burden to me to preach the Gospel when I think of what those lose who will not have it.
IV. IT IS OFTEN THE BURDEN OF THE LORD, BECAUSE OF THE WAY IN WHICH MEN TREAT THE WORD OF GOD. Some trifle with it. The preoccupation of human minds makes it such a burden when we are in earnest to reach the heart and win the soul. Quite a number hear with considerable attention, but forget all that they hear. The sermon is all done with when they have done hearing it. There are even some that hear to ridicule. The preacher is in anguish to save a soul, and they are thinking about how he pronounces a word.
V. IT IS A BURDEN WHEN THE PREACHER REMEMBERS THAT HE WILL HAVE TO GIVE AN ACCOUNT. There will come a time when it will be said, "Preacher, give an account of your stewardship." Remember the great Lord of all true Gospel preachers bore a far heavier burden than we. Since it is a burden in itself, I ask you not to make it any heavier. You add to my burden, if you do not aid me in the Lord's work. But the greatest increase of my burden comes from those who do not receive the Gospel at all.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
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