And it came to pass, that when they had made an end of eating the grass of the land, then I said, O Lord GOD, forgive, I beseech you…
This was an appeal to the heart of God at a time when the judgments of heaven were bringing the chosen people to ruin. This is a question which might well have been asked in every age which the Church has yet seen. Her numbers have always been small in comparison with the ranks of the wicked. The Church, to this day, is but a drop in the ocean. And she is weak as well as small. When we look abroad over the world we behold a race of men dead in trespasses and sins, given over to the dominion of the selfish passions, chained down in ignominious servitude to the world; whom no motives can conquer, no means reclaim. To form such beings into materials for building up the Church, they must be made to undergo a thorough and wonderful transformation. Who shall accomplish this mighty change? The transformation must not only be begun, it must be continued and perfected. After men are set out on the heavenly course, they still have to contend with their original corruptions, and with a world full of objects fitted to inflame them. All these corruptions and temptations stand in the way of the growth of the Church. And the Church as a body has to contend with a world in arms. Every natural man is a foe. The whole bent of the natural heart in every age and country, in every family and individual, is against it. Leave man to himself for a single generation, and with all the means of civilisation and grace, the Church would become extinct. Our strength is wholly incompetent to preserve the Church a single hour, to add one to the number of her sons, to produce a single impression on a single heart. If no other helper is found we must sit down in tears, and give up all for lost. The Church is God's interest. This interest God has not committed to men; it is His own, His only portion. He has taken it into His own hands. The great end which He purposes to Himself in all His works is to bring out to view the riches of His nature, that creatures may see and acknowledge Him as He is, and for ever enjoy Him. It is the natural course of unbelief to put Him out of view. God is resolved to be acknowledged as the sole author and finisher of the whole. For this reason He studiously constructs the dispensations of His grace in a way to convince His people that it is " not by might nor by power, but by "His Spirit that the Church is enlarged. Then our hope is only in God. Let all other dependencies be given up; the Church must rise by God alone. This is our consolation in the darkest times.
(E. D. Griffin, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass, that when they had made an end of eating the grass of the land, then I said, O Lord GOD, forgive, I beseech thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small.