But if they will confess their iniquity and that of their fathers in the unfaithfulness that they practiced against Me, by which they have also walked in hostility toward Me--
I. THEY WILL CONFESS THEIR SIN.
1. Their personal iniquity.
(2) In particular they will confess their capital sin in rejecting Christ. This crime filled up the measure of their fathers.
2. The iniquity of their fathers.
(1) This was the same as their own. They will acknowledge themselves, not in pride, but in penitence, to be the children of their fathers.
(2) Instead of attempting to extenuate their sin because of the example of their fathers, they will repent for the sin of their fathers as well as for their own. This is in accordance with the principle of the visitation of the iniquities of the fathers upon the children.
3. The justice of God in their punishment.
(2) That he has therefore walked contrary to them. Afflictions do not spring out of the dust.
II. THEN GOD WILL REMEMBER HIS COVENANT. Therefore:
1. He will not destroy them utterly.
(1) His providence will be over them. What else could have preserved them now for nineteen centuries amidst untoward circumstances? They are, notwithstanding their sufferings, as numerous today as they were in the zenith of their prosperity in the days of Solomon.
(2) The remnant of them shall be saved.
(3) How tender is the compassion of God! (Hosea 11:8, 9).
2. He will reinstate them in their land.
(1) He will remember his land. For in the covenant they are promised the land "forever."
(2) Remembering the land also implies that it will recover its ancient fruitfulness (see promises, verses 4, 5, 10).
(3) In that condition it will be the appropriate type and pledge of the heavenly country (see Isaiah 62:4).
3. He will make them a blessing in the earth.
(1) They will grow into a multitude.
(2) They will rejoice in spiritual blessings.
(3) The miracles of the Exodus from Egypt will be repeated.
(4) The heathen will be startled into thoughtfulness (verse 45).
(5) The heathen will once more learn the way of salvation from the lips of Hebrews.
4. In all this they are beloved for the fathers' sakes.
(1) This is distinctly stated (verse 42; comp. Romans 11:28).
(2) The patriarchs of the covenant are referred to in the order of ascent, viz. Jacob, Isaac, Abraham. Note: when the Jews in humility confess themselves the children of their more recent sinful fathers, God will acknowledge them as the children of their earlier faithful ancestors.
(3) It is an encouragement to faith that the memory of Divine mercy is far-reaching - everlasting. - J.A.M.
I. THAT THE WAY WAS LEFT OPEN FOR THE REBELLIOUS TO RETURN.
If they shall confess their iniquity.I. WHAT IS THAT REPENTANCE WHICH GOD REQUIRES?
1. That we acknowledge our guilt. Our fathers' sins as well as our own are first grounds of national humiliation. Our own sins are the chief burden of personal contrition. But sin should be viewed in its true light, as "walking contrary to God" (Psalm 51:4).
2. That we justify God in His judgments. If we have dared to walk contrary to Him, is not He justified in "walking contrary to us"? Whatever inflictions He imposes we have reason to own it as less than our deserts (Ezra 9:13), and that His judgments are just (Revelation 16:7).
3. That we be thankful for His dealings by which He has "humbled our uncircumcised hearts." Only real contrition can produce this. It realises mercy in judgment, and love in affliction.
II. THE CONNECTION BETWEEN OUR REPENTANCE AND GOD'S MERCY. Repentance is void of merit. Even obedience is destitute of merit; "when we have done all we could we are unprofitable servants." The acknowledgment of a debt is a very different thing from a discharge of that debt. A condemned criminal may be sorry for his offences, but that sorrow does not obliterate his crime, still less entitle him to rewards. Yet there is connection between repentance and pardon, and meekness in the exercise of mercy towards the penitent —
1. On God's part. For repentance glorifies God (Joshua 7:19).
2. On the part of the penitents. It incites to loathing of the sin, and to adoration of Divine grace. So God insists on the condition, "If they be humbled, then will I pardon." For then God can do it consistently with His honour, and they will make a suitable improvement of the mercy vouchsafed them.
III. THE GROUND AND MEASURE OF THAT MERCY WHICH PENITENTS MAY EXPECT. God's covenant with their ancestors was the basis and warrant of His mercy to Israel (vers. 42, 44, 45). His covenant with us in Christ is our hope and guarantee.
1. Be thankful that you are yet within reach of mercy.
2. Have especial respect unto the covenant of grace. It is to that God looks, and to that should we look also. It is the only basis on which mercy and redemption are possible.
(C. Simeon, M. A.)
1. It was the way of reflection.
2. It was the way of confession.
3. It was the way of humiliation.They were not to return proudly, feeling they had not been rewarded according to their iniquities. The way is still open for the vilest to return; for, the New Testament teaches that these are the steps in the ladder of life, out of sin to holiness, from earth to heaven, from self to God, viz.: Repentance, conversion, consecration.
II. THAT IF THE REBELLIOUS RETURNED TO THE LORD IN HIS OWN APPOINTED WAY HE WOULD GRACIOUSLY RECEIVE THEM.
1. He would do so for the sake of their fathers. He would remember His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
2. He would do so for the sake of His name. "For I am the Lord." He had purposed, as well as promised, to deal mercifully with them.
3. He would do so for the sake of the land. He had selected Canaan as the arena where He would specially display His glory to men, and He would not allow it to lie waste for ever.
4. He would do it for the sake of His covenant. "I will remember My covenant." The Lord does not make a covenant and then tear it rashly to pieces; if broken by man He will speedily renew, nor allow the irregularities and irreligion of men to thwart His beneficent arrangements. Here, indeed, was a resplendent bow of many colours, beaming with the beautiful light of the mild and merciful countenance of the Most High. What encouragement for sinful men to return to the Lord, "for He will have mercy upon them, and abundantly pardon." The Levitical law closes with offers of mercy, the last words of the law are words of entreaty and promise.
(W. H. Jellie.)
I. THE VOWS AND PRAYERS OF A GOODLY PARENTAGE EXERCISE INFLUENCE UPON THE DIVINE PLANS. That "covenant "is thrice referred to as determining God's arrangements (vers. 42, 44, 45). Note Job's prayers for his children (Job 1:5; cf. with ver. 10), "Made a hedge about Job and about his house."
II. OVER LONG INTERVALS THE INFLUENCE OF PARENTAL COVENANTS EXTEND. This "covenant" with Abraham was made 1900 years B.C. (Genesis 15:13, 14). It is now 1900 years A.D., yet the word stands, "They are beloved for the fathers sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance (Romans 11:28, 29). God is at work, though He seems to wait. "In due season ye shall reap if ye faint not." Praying soul, anxious heart, clinging to the promises — "Hope, and be undismayed; God hears thy cries, and counts thy tears, God shall lift up thy head."
III. HOW GRAND THE LINK BETWEEN A PARENT'S PIETY AND THE CHILDREN'S DESTINY!
1. Live and pray for your descendants.
2. Value the sacred benefits even though as yet unrealised, of a godly ancestry.
3. Rest in the unfailing pledge of God to reward piety and prayer.
(W. H. Jellie.)
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