"But cursed is the deceiver who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but sacrifices a defective animal to the Lord. For I am a great King," says the LORD of Hosts, "and My name is to be feared among the nations."
Joshua 7:9). "With a startling reiteration, after every specific denunciation of the sins of priests and people, they are represented as asking, as if in utter unconsciousness of their sin," 'Wherein have we polluted thee? Wherein have we despised thy Name?' They have fallen into the last stage of selfish formalism when conscience ceases to do its work as an accusing witness, into the hypocrisy which does not even know itself to be hypocritical; the hypocrisy, in other words, of the scribes and Pharisees."
I. REVERENCE FOR THE DIVINE NAME IS A SIGN OF SPIRITUAL LIFE. It was necessary that God should demand reverence for his Divine Name in one of his ten great commandments, "Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his Name in vain." But that law is never needed by any man who has and cherishes right thoughts of God; he simply cannot take his Name in vain. All worship is truly reverent according to the spiritual life that is at the heart of it. Therefore we train children in reverence for the Divine Name, because it is the basis of spiritual religion.
II. FAILING REVERENCE FOR THE DIVINE NAME IS A SIGN OF FALLING SPIRITUAL LIFE. It is one of the first, and one of the surest, signs. A light tone of speech, in reference to the infinitely Holy One, at once tells of lost spiritual health. Leech the sense of awe, and innumerable evils can creep in. Reverence for the great Name keeps the gate of the soul safe shut against intruders; and it is our continual inspiration to pare and holy living. - R.T.
But cursed be the deceiver.
I. THE DECEIVER. He may be a self-deceiver, or a deceiver of others, or both. Some may unconsciously deceive; others intentionally. It is the intentional deceiver that is cursed; he who aims to deceive others. These abound in —
1. Religious communities. The wily priest, the glib teacher of error, the hypocrite.
2. In the social circle. The liar, the seducer, the false friend.
3. In commerce. The unreliable employee, the concocter of lying prospectuses, the swindling merchant.
4. In political movements. The bribing agent, the self-seeking adventurer, the unscrupulous statesman. Men sometimes turn themselves into incarnate falsehoods for the sake of worldly success. The advantages gained are only seeming, not real. The deceiver is —(1) Foolish. He injures himself for the sake of uncertain good.(2) Despicable. Society treats the exposed deceiver with contempt. All honest men shun him.(3) Treacherous. He is like a splintered staff, a rotten cable, a sandy foundation, a spider's web, a wrecker's beacon, a flower-covered bog, a desert mirage, etc.(4) Mischievous. He lays traps for the innocent. He destroys social confidence.(5) Diabolical. Like Lucifer, he "sins in wily guise." He is a true son of the father of lies.
II. HIS CURSE. This may be suspicion, discredit, fear of discovery, exposure, stings of conscience, spiritual .blindness, the execrations of his victims; the contempt of all good men; the displeasure of the Almighty, hell-fires, etc. His curse is certain. In a universe where a God of truth and righteousness reigns, the deceiver is sure to be punished. The curse is terrible and eternal. Application —
1. Let us guard ourselves against all deceivers.
2. Let us beware of deceit.
3. Better be deceived than deceive.
(W. Osborne Lilley.)
And sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing.prime of each offering was to be presented to God. But these profane priests thought that anything would serve for a sacrifice, though never so coarse and mean. They picked out the worst they had, that which was neither fit for the market nor for their own tables, and offered that at God's altar. With every sacrifice the law commanded them to bring a meat-offering of "fine flour, mingled with bread": but they brought "polluted bread," of coarse and refuse material. The principle illustrated is — that the service of God admits of nothing short of the most perfect offering that can be presented; and everything below this affixes upon the offerers the character of "deceivers," and the condemnation of being "cursed."
I. THE SERVICE OF RELIGIOUS WORSHIP.
1. It is profane service whenever it is not intelligent, whenever it is not founded on a right understanding of the object of worship. You, who have watched the movements or the torpidity of your minds at the time of supposed prayer, will bear me witness how often you have failed to recognise the simple being of the God before whom you bow down.
2. No offering of worship is acceptable which is not also solemn and reverential. This it could not fail to be if we were possessed by a just sense of the transcendent greatness of Him to whom prayer is presented. His majesty is infinite and ineffable, and therefore we stand at an immeasurable distance from Him. And yet to such a Being we address ourselves in prayer. Do any of us detect in ourselves the vacant gaze, the roving thought?
3. Acceptable worship must be spiritual. Why so? "God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth." They must so worship Him, because it is not possible that He should receive any other. Do you assert that "God is a Spirit," then you contract Him into the narrow dimensions of your own being if you give Him no more than the devotions of the body, if you give Him not the ardent services of your soul.
4. If our worship be genuine, it will be marked by intentness of mind. Languor and laxness of the spirit are sure tokens that it" is not a glad offering, but an irksome task. In all these cases what is the sin which we charge home but that very sin for which the prophet utters his rebuke? They have a better offering which they might offer. They are capable of a worship more worthy of God. Instead, they bring the lame, and the sick, and the torn, they "sacrifice unto the Lord a corrupt thing."
II. THE HABITUAL SERVICE OF THE LIFE. Here too the service of God admits of nothing short of the most perfect offering that can be presented. Our baptismal covenant, made for us in our unconscious infancy, when our own reason was not privy to the engagement, is sealed and confirmed in maturer age; and then it is that we deliberately and personally "vow" to give the choice thing in our flock. But where is he to be found that fully recognises and performs the baptismal oath? The baptised man, the communicant, and the parent for his child, and he who is in near danger, has vowed, deliberately, unto God, the male that is in his flock; but he leaves off with sacrificing unto the Lord "a corrupt thing."
(R. Eden, M. A.)
I am a great King, saith the Lord of hosts
I. JEHOVAH IS A KING. A king is the political head or supreme ruler of a kingdom. There are kings by right, and kings in fact. The king by right has claim to the throne, though he may not possess it. The king in fact actually possesses the throne, though he may have no right to it. He alone who has both the right and the possession can properly be called a king. And such a king is Jehovah. His kingdom is the whole created universe, and of this kingdom He is in actual and full possession. And He is the rightful sovereign of the universe. All men were born into the dominions of Jehovah. Men cannot cease to be His subjects without ceasing to exist. He possesses all the insignia of royalty. He has a throne, a crown, royal robes, etc.
II. JEHOVAH IS A GREAT KING. Great is the Lord, and His greatness is unsearchable. See the greatness, duration, and stability of His empire. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.
1. If God is a king, He is under obligations to make laws for His subjects. When He assumes any office He binds Himself to perform all the duties of that office. The first and most indispensable duty of an absolute sovereign is to make laws for his subjects. It is as much his duty to make laws, as it is their duty to obey them when made.
2. He is under obligations to make the wisest and best laws possible. It was incumbent on him to consult, not the private wishes and inclinations of individuals, but the great interests of his whole kingdom.
3. He is under obligations to annex some penalty to every violation of his law. A law without a penalty annexed is not a law, that is, it cannot answer the purpose of a law.
4. He is bound to enforce his laws, and to inflict the threatened punishment on all who transgress them. He must not bear the sword in vain, but be a terror to evil-doers. Justice in a sovereign ruler consists in treating his subjects according to their deserts. He may be guilty of injustice by treating them better than they deserve, as well as by treating them worse than they deserve. But God cannot act unjustly.
5. We may learn the necessity of an atonement for sin. Something which shall maintain the authority of God's law, secure the great interests of His kingdom, and answer all the ends of government, no less effectually than the infliction of merited punishment upon transgressors. Without such an atonement God cannot consistently with justice, or His obligations as a sovereign, pardon a single offender.
6. If Jehovah is king, sin is treason and rebellion, and every impenitent sinner is a traitor and a rebel.
7. If Jehovah is king, it is requisite that He should have ambassadors, in order that His will should be communicated to His subjects. God's inspired messengers, the prophets and apostles, were ambassadors extraordinary. His ministers are His ambassadors to-day.
(E. Payson, D. D.)
I. THIS DECLARATION WHICH JEHOVAH MAKES RESPECTING HIMSELF. God places Himself towards us in various aspects. He is a king. He has in Himself all the qualities of kingly greatness. Kings should be the greatest of men. He has all the attributes of a great king. His power, authority, majesty, etc. His dominions are great. His kingdom is eternal.
II. WHAT LESSONS MAY BE LEARNT FROM THIS DECLARATION. Learn —
1. To reverence Him.
2. The importance of securing His favour. He has shown us the way to secure it — by repentance, faith, and obedience.
3. To trust implicitly in His overruling providence.
4. To submit ourselves to His government.
5. To expect great blessings from His hands. Great expectancy in His creatures pleases Him. Great expectations from Him are never disappointed.
(W. Osborne Lilley.)
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