If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best of the land.
Proverbs 14:34, "Righteousness exalteth a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people." The prophet is picturing the corrupt state of the metropolis, and contrasting its present moral degradation with the high and honorable character which it had formerly sustained. The following points may be illustrated, and the lessons of them enforced.
I. UNRIGHTEOUSNESS IN THE LEADERS IS THE CURSE OF A BAD EXAMPLE. Illustrate by the mischievous influence of a corrupt court and aristocracy, and by the discontent produced by corruptions of the fountains of justice.
II. UNRIGHTEOUSNESS IN THE PEOPLE ENFEEBLES THE NATIONAL LIFE. Illustrate by the effect of prevalent sensuality on the morale of soldiers. The moral degradation of France was the secret of her weakness when struggling against Germany. A nation's manhood sinks under the power of self-indulgence and sin. This was strikingly illustrated again and again in the history of God's people Israel. When they were idolatrous and immoral they were weak before their foes. Virtue is strength.
III. UNRIGHTEOUSNESS PREPARES THE WAY FOR NATIONAL EVILS. Both for such as are internal and for such as are external. Family life, society, religion, all are affected. Ordinary checks are removed. The sense of common weal no longer binds men together to seek national interests. And the "enemy coming in like a flood" finds no "standard of the Lord lifted up against them." Illustrate by the iniquities wrought by and encouraged by Hophni and Phinebas, and the consequent despising of Jehovah's worship, and inability to stand before the nation's foes. Nobody from outside can really hurt a nation. Nations hurt themselves by permitting vice and iniquity to run riot. Show what are the features of modern city sins, country sins, national iniquities. These are our peril, our woe, our curse. Against these every servant of the Lord must strive and plead and fight. Nations can build national life securely on no other foundation than this - morality, righteousness, the clean heart, and the clean hand. - R.T.
If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land.
I. IT IS THE BOUNDEN OBLIGATION OF ALL WHO HAVE RECEIVED THE REVEALED WILL OF GOD, WHETHER NATIONS OR INDIVIDUALS, TO ABIDE BY THAT WILL, — as well in the regulation of their faith and practice, as in the order and management of their affairs, in the formation and execution of their laws; and to admit of no other principle, nor to walk by any other rule whatsoever. Consider —
1. Whose revelation it is for a devout and universal conformity to which we plead.
2. For what purpose God has been pleased to make known His mind and will to us.
3. The wonderful adaptation of this heavenly will to all our wants and circumstances.
4. The deplorable condition of man without such a light from heaven.
5. It is by God's revealed will we shall all be judged at last.
II. THE CONSEQUENCES of adhering to, or swerving from, that Divine revelation, in either respect. We can never suppose that God will permit any nation or individual to disbelieve or disregard His Word with impunity; nor can we imagine that He will suffer any nation or individual, obeying His voice, to go without His blessing.
III. SOME OBJECTIONS WHICH MAY BE URGED.
1. All this applies to Israel of old, as a peculiar nation, raised up in a particular manner, for a special purpose. But is not He, who was their God, the God of all the families of the earth?
2. But does the Old Testament equally apply to us as the New? Undoubtedly.
4. How is it possible, amidst a mixed description of character, to bring about such a state of things? Try and leave the issue with God.
5. But would you have everything to be based upon the Divine Word Yes, everything. I would wish to see the whole nation living in the fear of God, and striving to promote His glory.
( M. Henry.)
( M. Henry.)
Gates of Imagery.Close to Port Arthur in the Canadian Dominion there is a little island named Silver Island. It was known that silver was there, and a few Canadian gentlemen united in explorations. Most of them, however, objected to the necessary outlay on works, and sold their claims to an American Company. The Americans began to dig, and found silver not only in rich veins, but also in thick, solid sheets. The Canadians bitterly lamented their folly in not spending the money which would have secured the treasure, but it was too late. There are those who, though called to enrich themselves both for time and eternity, are unwilling to give up the sins they find so pleasant. They will not pay the preliminary price, and discover when too late how much they have missed. Others have paid the price; they have secured the treasure, but when regrets are unavailing, the lovers of the present world see what a fatal mistake they have made, and have a dark eternity in which to meditate on their folly.
(Gates of Imagery.)
The mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
I. THIS IS OUR WARRANT FOR TEACHING SCRIPTURAL TRUTH. It would not be worth our while to speak what Isaiah had spoken, if in it there was nothing more than Isaiah's thought; neither should we care to meditate hour after hour upon the writings of Paul, if there was nothing more than Paul in them. We feel no imperative call to expound and to enforce what has been spoken by men; but, since "the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it," it is woe unto us if we preach not the Gospel!
1. The true preacher, the man whom God has commissioned, delivers his message with awe and trembling, because "the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." He bears the burden of the and bows under it. They called George Fox a Quaker, because when he spoke he would quake exceedingly through the force of the truth which he so thoroughly apprehended. Martin Luther, who never feared the face of man, yet declared that when he stood up to preach he often felt his knees knock together under a sense of his great responsibility. Woe unto us if we dare to speak the Word of the Lord with less than our whole heart and soul and strength! Woe unto us if we handle the Word as if it were an occasion for display!
2. Because the mouth of the Lord hath spoken the truth of God, we therefore endeavour to preach it with absolute fidelity. It is not ours to correct the Divine revelation, but simply to echo it.
3. Again, as "the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it," we speak the Divine truth with courage and full assurance. Modesty is a virtue; but hesitancy, when we are speaking for the Lord, is a great fault. Those who fling aside our Master's authority may very well reject our testimony: we are content they should do so. But, if we speak that which the mouth of the Lord hath spoken, those who hear His Word and refuse it, do so at their own peril. We are urged to be charitable. We are charitable; but it is with our own money. We have no right to give away what is put into our trust and is not at our disposal. When we have to do with the truth of God we are stewards, and must deal with our Lord's exchequer, not on the lines of charity to human opinions, but by the rule of fidelity to the God of truth.
4. Because "the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it," we feel bound to speak His Word with diligence, as often as ever we can, and with perseverance, as long as ever we live. Surely, it would be a blessed thing to die in the pulpit; spending one's last breath in acting as the Lord's mouth. Dumb Sabbaths are fierce trials to true preachers. Remember how John Newton, when he was quite unfit to preach, and even wandered a bit by reason of his infirmities and age, yet persisted in preaching; and when they dissuaded him, he answered with warmth, "What! Shall the old African blasphemer leave off preaching Jesus Christ while there is breath in his body!" So they helped the old man into the pulpit again, that he might once more speak of free grace and dying love.
5. If we get a right apprehension concerning Gospel truth — that "the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it" — it will move us to tell it out with great ardour and zeal. How can you keep back the heavenly news? Whisper it in the ear of the sick; shout it in the corner of the streets; write it on your tablets; send it forth from the press; but everywhere let this be your great motive and warrant — you preach the Gospel because "the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it."
II. THIS IS THE CLAIM OF GOD'S WORD UPON YOUR ATTENTION.
1. Every word which God has given us in this Book claims our attention, because of the infinite majesty of Him that spake it.
2. God's claim to be heard lies also in the condescension which has led Him to speak to us.
3. God's Word should win your ear because of its intrinsic importance. "The mouth of the Lord hath spoken it" — then it is no trifle. God never speaks vanity. No line of His writing treats of the frivolous themes of a day. Concerning eternal realities He speaks to thee.
4. Depend upon it, if "the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it," there is an urgent, pressing necessity. God breaks not silence to say that which might as well have remained unsaid. His voice indicates great urgency.
III. THIS GIVES TO GOD'S WORD A VERY SPECIAL CHARACTER.
1. In the Word of God the teaching has unique dignity. This Book is inspired as no other book is inspired, and it is time that all Christians avowed this conviction. I do not know whether you have seen Mr. Smiles' life of our late friend, George Moore; but in it we read that, at a certain dinner party, a learned man remarked that it would not be easy to find a person of intelligence who believed in the inspiration of the Bible. In an instant George Moore's voice was beard across the table, saying boldly, "I do, for one." Nothing more was said. Let us not be backward to take the old-fashioned and unpopular side, and say outright, "I do, for one." Where are we if our Bibles are gone? Where are we if we are taught to distrust them! It is better to believe what comes out of God's mouth, and be called a fool, than to believe what comes out of the mouth of philosophers, and be, therefore, esteemed a wise man.
2. There is also about that which the mouth of the Lord hath spoken an absolute certainty. What man has said is unsubstantial, even when true. But with God's Word you have something to grip at, something to have and to hold.
3. Again, if "the mouth of the Lord hatch spoken it," we have in this utterance the special character of immutable fixedness. Once spoken by God, not only is it so now, but it always must be so. One said to his minister, "My dear sir, surely you ought to adjust your beliefs to the progress of science." "Yes," said he, "but I have not had time to do it today, for I have not yet read the morning papers." One would have need to read the morning papers and take in every new edition to know where about scientific theology now stands; for it is always chopping and changing.
4. Here let me add that there is something unique about God's Word, because of the Almighty power which attends it. "Where the word of a king is, there is power"; where the Word of a God is, there is omnipotence.
IV. THIS MAKES GOD'S WORD A GROUND OF GREAT ALARM TO MANY. Shall I read you the whole verse! "But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." God has never yet spoken a threatening that has fallen to the ground. It is of no avail to sit down, and draw inferences from the nature of God, and to argue, "God is love, and therefore He will not execute the sentence upon the impenitent." He knows what He will do better than you can infer; He has not left us to inferences, for He has spoken pointedly and plainly.
V. THIS MAKES THE WORD OF THE LORD THE REASON AND REST OF OUR FAITH. "The mouth of the Lord hath spoken it," is the foundation of our confidence. There is forgiveness; for God has said it. I think I hear some child of God saying, "God has said, 'I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee,' but I am in great trouble; all the circumstances of my life seem to contradict the promise": yet, "the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it," and the promise must stand. Believe God in the teeth of circumstances. By and by we shall come to die. Oh, that then, like the grand old German emperor, we may say, "Mine eyes have seen Thy salvation," and, "He hath helped me with His name."
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
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