where your fathers tested and tried Me, and for forty years saw My works.
Introduction. The witness of the New Testament to the Divine inspiration of the Old. "The Holy Ghost saith" (Psalm 95:7-11). We have in the text -
I. A GREAT FACT IMPLIED. That God speaks to man. The "if" does not indicate uncertainty as to the Divine voice, but as to man's attention to this voice. There is no question as to whether God will speak to man or not, but whether man will heed his communications. Notice:
1. The object for which God speaks to man. This object is that man may be saved. The Divine voice proclaims and proffers a "great salvation," and publishes redemptive truth to man.
2. The organs by which he speaks to man.
(1) By the sacred Scriptures, and especially in the life and teachings of his Son, Jesus Christ, as recorded therein. "God... hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in his Son."
(2) By Christian ministries, especially the preaching of his gospel. "We are ambassadors on behalf of Christ, as though God were entreating by us," etc. (2 Corinthians 5:20).
(3) By the voice of our conscience. In its approbation of the right and its condemnation of the wrong, God speaks to us.
(4) By the events of his providence.
(5) By the influences of his holy Spirit. He speaks within the soul of man. He imparts emphasis and energy to the other voices by which God addresses us.
3. The frequency with which he speaks to man. Our text implies that he speaks to us daily. And surely by some one or more of these voices, every day he addresses to us some prohibition or persuasion, some caution or encouragement, some precept or promise, some invitation or warning. Were our susceptibility to Divine influences greater, we should ever hear the utterances of the Divine voice.
II. A MOMENTOUS DUTY EXPRESSED. Our duty is to hear God's voice. Consider:
1. The signification of hearing God's voice. It is not mere hearing that is meant here, but earnest attention to God's voice, hearty belief in his communications, and willing obedience to his commands.
2. The season for hearing God's voice. "Today; i.e. now.
(1) Because life is uncertain. "Ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life?" etc. (James 4:14).
(2) Because procrastination is perilous. The postponement of our duty today facilitates a further postponement of it tomorrow.
(3) Because it is a present duty, and to defer the performance of it is, therefore, sinful. We ought to attend to God's voice now. The urgency of this duty is suggested in the text. In the psalm from which it is quoted, our text "is virtually the expression of a wish, 'Today if ye will but hearken to his voice! '" or, "Oh that ye might this day hearken to his voice!" The pathos and earnestness which the Holy Ghost puts into this wish suggests the deep importance of the duty; cf. Psalm 81:13, "Oh that my people had hearkened unto me!" etc.
III. A SOLEMN CAUTION GIVEN. "Harden not your hearts." The sapling is pliant; it may be bent and trained as to the direction and form of its growth. The full-grown tree is fixed in form, firm in texture, and unbending in its resistance; it is hardened. Men harden' their hearts by disregarding the voice of God, by not recognizing the authority of their consciences, by postponing the performance of religious duties, by neglecting the great salvation, and by practically despising or resisting the Holy Spirit of God. St. Paul speaks of men who were "alienated from the life of God, because of the hardening of their heart," and "who being past feeling" had abandoned themselves to persistent and active wickedness. For such moral insensibility what hope remains? "Oh that ye might this day hearken to his voice!" - W.J.
When your fathers tempted Me.1. If having means we neglect them, fondly flying to the supposed providence of God; if Christ, having a pair of stairs to come down by, should have cast Himself down from the pinnacle of the Temple, He had tempted God.
2. Men tempt God when, having had evident proof and manifest experience of His wisdom, power, mercy, and goodness, yet if they be driven into any straits, and see no present means to come out, then they murmur against God, despair of His providence, and are ready to exclaim against God. This was the Israelites' fault, and thus often times they tempted God in the wilderness. They had seen with what a strong hand God had brought them out of Egypt, yet for all that when they were in any difficulty then God was of no power or willingness to do for them. This was a tempting of God which highly displeased Him. Therefore in all distresses let us trust in Him, though all worldly means fail us; in sickness and health, in poverty and wealth, in death and life let Him be our pillar to lean upon.
(W. Jones, D. D.)1 Corinthians 10.). According to the solemn words addressed by the glorified Saviour to the Church of Thyatira, Israel's experience is to be a warning to all the Churches.
1. It is a marvellous history from beginning to end. The exodus out of Egypt, the passage through the Red Sea, the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai. the manna, the pillar of cloud and fire, the victory over Amelek, the rock that followed them, the garments that never became old; all is miracle, full of the wondrous love and power of God. who is Israel's Redeemer. Consider the Messenger, the Angel of the Covenant, Christ, who led them. Their whole life and history was a life and history by the word of God. Do you know this as a present experience?
2. It was a history of solemn and glorious privilege. God separated Israel unto Himself. Their daily need, their absolute dependence on Divine help, the constant gift of manna, guidance and defence, the daily beholding of God's mighty and gracious works — all this was a marvellous privilege, the life of faith was made near and easy. Is this not a picture of the Christian's life?
3. It is a sad history from beginning to end: continual murmuring, doubt, ingratitude, idolatry, sin; looking back unto Egypt and its pleasures, forgetting its degradation and bondage, doubting God's goodness and power, yielding to the temptations of lust and tempting the Lord Jehovah, the faithful and merciful Christ. It is a sad history, full of fearful judgments. And yet the Lord was with them all the days, and every day, ready to bless and to gladden them. Do you understand the parable? Yet was there in Israel also faith and love; and God remembers the time of their espousals, when they followed Him in a laud that was not sown. There were not merely murmurings, but hymns of thanksgiving; there were willing offerings unto the Lord of gold and silver, there was victory over the enemies, there were Joshua and Caleb, who followed the Lord fully.
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