If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he has bent his bow, and made it ready.
So, then, God has a sword, and He will punish man on account of iniquity. This evil generation hath sought to take away from God the sword of His justice. Perhaps the Puritans insisted too much on the wrath of God, but our age seeks to forget that wrath altogether.
I. WHAT IS THE TURNING HERE MEANT?
1. It is actual, not fictitious; not one that stops with vows and promises.
2. It must be entire. Many will give up many sins, but not all: there are certain darling lusts which they will keep and hold. Remember that one lust, like one leak in a ship, will sink a soul.
3. And it must be immediate. There must be no procrastination. "Today if ye will hear His voice."
4. And hearty — no pretended repentance.
5. And perpetual: it must not be transitory or superficial. In old times when rich and generous monarchs came to their cities they made the fountains run with wine. But tomorrow it ran with water as before. It is hard to distinguish between legal repentance and evangelical repentance. Legal repentance is a fear of damning; evangelical, of sinning. And this is far deeper than the other: the man feels that only by sovereign grace can his sin be put away, that no mere course of holy living can blot it out. Christ alone can dig its grave.
II. THE NECESSITY THAT GOD SHOULD WHET HIS SWORD AND PUNISH MEN IF THEY WILL NOT TURN. Richard Baxter used to say, "Sinner! turn or burn: it is thine only alternative." And it is so: for —
1. God cannot suffer sin to go unpunished. How could He govern men if He had no justice?
2. The Scriptures are full of declarations of this truth.
3. All which conscience confirms. You may say you have no such belief. I did not say you had, but I say that your conscience tells you so. As John Bunyan said, Mr. Conscience had a very loud voice, and though Mr. Understanding shut himself up in a dark room, where he could not see, yet he used to thunder out so mightily in the streets that Mr. Understanding used to shake in his house through what Mr. Conscience said. But I am tired of this terrible work of proving that God must punish sin. However, I should like to act as if there were a hell, even if there is no such place; for as a poor and pious man once said to an unbeliever, "Sir, I like to have two strings to my bow. If there should be no hell, I shall be as well off as you will; but if there should, it will go hard with you." But why say "if"? You know there is.
III. NOW WHAT ARE THE MEANS OF REPENTANCE? You cannot repent of yourself. But Christ is exalted "to give repentance and remission of sin." Then if you feel that you are a sinner, ask Him to give you repentance. Many a man says he cannot repent while he is repenting. Keep on with that till you feel you have repented, then believe and be saved.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready.