Arise you, and depart; for this is not your rest: because it is polluted, it shall destroy you, even with a sore destruction.
Canaan was given to Israel on condition of their faithful obedience. That obedience they had failed to render. It is allowed by commentators that these words may be properly applied to the state of men in the present world. Expand them thus —
1. This world would have been a rest had sin never entered it: but since it is polluted, there is neither contentment nor continuance here, neither solid happiness in the enjoyments it offers, nor an abiding city in any of its domains. It is no longer our permanent abode, but our passage to another country; our inn, not our home.
2. To attempt to rest in the creature after God has commanded us to give it up is sinful. To rest in a connection with unrighteous men — satisfied with a world corrupt through "divers lusts" — is still more polluted.
3. Through the selfish passions and oppressive conduct of men, through the numerous troubles which beset this vale of tears, — the pilgrim can find no rest on earth. It is a relief to think of departing to that world where "the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest."
I. THIS IS NOT OUR HOME. Our life is as a "handbreadth." Regular and rapid, like the waves of the sea, one generation sweeps off another into the gulf of oblivion. This is but the threshold of your being, and all before you is a boundless eternity.
II. THE WORLD CANNOT SATISFY. Never were the things of the world intended to fill the human mind. In the original formation of man he received a capacity which nothing but God could fill: and though by the fall he lost his relish for God, the same capacity still remains, and all creation cannot fill it now. Many minds, broken loose from their centre, have wandered in search of rest in the creatures; but none have ever found it.
III. AN ATTEMPT TO REST IN THE CREATURE IS SINFUL. The first command is, "Thou shalt have no other Gods before Me." To make a God of anything, is to set the heart supremely upon it, and to attempt to rest in it as a chief source of happiness. To love "the creature more than the Creator." and to look to that for our chief comfort, is to idolise the creature. We may value the creature for the purposes for which it is given to us. To attempt to rest in the creature is to seek a guilty rest.
IV. NO ALLIANCE CAN BE FORMED WITH MEN OF THE WORLD WITHOUT HAZARD OF POLLUTION. "Evil communications corrupt good manners." A great part of the feelings, opinions, conversation, and customs of the world are opposed to the genuine spirit of the Gospel.
V. NO REST CAN BE FOUND IN A WORLD FULL OF INJUSTICE AND OPPRESSION. The collisions of selfish passions keep the world in a flame, and drench it in blood.
VI. NO REST CAN BE FOUND IN A WORLD INUNDATED WITH THE FLOODS OF AFFLICTION. Ever since sin entered, this world has been a vale of tears, a house of correction, to break stubborn spirits to submission, to drive wayward children to obedience by the rod, to humble the proud, and to discover God's severity against sin. Why then should we wish to continue here?
(E. D. Griffin, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your rest: because it is polluted, it shall destroy you, even with a sore destruction.