Many times He rescued them, but they were bent on rebellion and sank down in their iniquity.
I. SOME OF THE SOURCES WHENCE COME OUR SINS.
1. Fear. Illustrate by provocation at Red Sea (ver. 7).
2. Lust. Inordinate desire. Putting God to the test (ver. 14). Envy.
3. Story of Dathan (ver. 17).
4. Unspirituality. Incident of the calf (ver. 19).
5. Impatience. Despising the pleasant land, because it did not come to them at once (ver. 24).
6. Licence. Case of immorality at Beth-peor (ver. 28)
7. Distrust. Waters of strife (ver. 32).
8. Imperfect obedience, a sign of self-will.
They did not destroy the Canaanites, which they were commanded to do (ver. 34).
II. THE SORROWS WHICH OUR SINS HAVE CAUSED GOOD MEN. These help us to realize how bad those sins must be. See what sorrow Moses felt in connection with the sin of the golden calf. See what sorrow Aaron felt in the matter of Dathan's rebellion. See what sorrow Phinehas felt in the matter of Ball-peor.
III. THE PITIFUL PATIENCE WITH WHICH GOD HAS EVER DEALT WITH OUR SINS.
1. Waiting until we came to a better mind. Let evil do its own work; it will be sure to punish and humble. God often does so much for us by doing nothing, leaving us to suffer the natural consequences of our sins.
2. Helping us by chastisements to come to a better mind. There may be occasions on which the infinite wisdom decides that it is better not to wait, because there may be active leaders in the evil, or strong self-will, which needs to be dealt with at once. Judgment for some, as in Dathan's case, may be chastisement for all. The worst thing that could happen to us would be to be finally "let alone." If God is in our life - acting in our life - all is right, however trying the circumstances of life may be. - R.T.
Therefore was the wrath of the Lord kindled.
Homilist.I. GOD'S ABHORRENCE OF MEN'S SINS (ver. 40). God's wrath or anger is not a malign passion, but a benevolent principle, antagonism to wrong. Do not blame the sun or the moon because of the shadows they throw upon the earth; rather blame the objects that obstruct their rays. God's wrath is only the rays of His love obstructed by sin. Remove the obstruction, and all is genial and beaming.
II. GOD'S DOMINION OVER MEN'S MINDS (vers. 41, 42). As the billows of the ocean in furious battle serve the grand cause of nature as well as the placid river in its majestic flow, so does the rage of wicked spirits serve the Almighty plans as truly as the loyal services of the good. "His purposes must stand."
III. GOD'S REGARD FOR MEN'S PENITENCE (vers. 43, 44; 2 Chronicles 15:4).
IV. GOD'S FORBEARANCE WITH MEN'S WICKEDNESS (vers. 45, 46).
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