Sermons by the Monday Club
Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD has spoken, I have nourished and brought up children…
I. THE PRIVILEGES OF THE NATION. It was no mean prerogative to become the chosen people of God, but for what was that choice made? Not because of perfect characters surely; but rather to declare among the nations the messages of God; not a nation holy in character, but with a holy errand. When the ten tribes revolted, leaving only a remnant, that remnant must do the errand appointed. Thus did God speak of them as "My people," "My children." Our privileges cannot save us, and even our blessings may become a curse. God cannot give to us personally what we will not receive.
II. THE NATIONAL CORRUPTION. What the first chapter of the Epistle to the Romans is in the New Testament, that is the first chapter of Isaiah's prophecy in the Old. Deeper degradation than that of Israel it would be hard to find. In Isaiah's time, gold and silver idols glittered on every street of Jerusalem. By royal authority, worship was given to the sun and moon. At the opening of each new season, snow-white horses, stalled in the rooms at the temple entrance, were driven forth harnessed to golden chariots to meet the sun at its rising. Incense ascended to heathen gods from altars built upon the streets. Vice had its impure rites in the temple itself. The valley of Hinnom echoed the dying screams of children offered as sacrifices in the terrible flames of the hideous Moloch. Words fail in depicting the deep corruption. There is the sting of sin in the plain statement of the awful history, "They have forsaken the Lord," etc.
III. THE RELATION OF RITUAL TO MORALITY. The more pronounced the ceremonial, the more tenaciously will men cling to it. Thus, in Isaiah's day, they who had swung their incense to the sun and moon; who had worshipped Baal upon the high places and in the groves; who had cast their children into the burning arms of Moloch, turned immediately from these heathenish practices to worship in the temple. Of burnt offerings and sacrifices there was no end. The purest spiritual worship, like that of Enoch and Abraham and Melchizedek, did not need it; it was given when a nation of slaves, degraded by Egyptian bondage, could appreciate nothing higher, and it was taken away when the true, light was come. There was neither perfection nor spirituality in such a ritual; yet in such a system God tried to elevate the nation to spiritual truths they could not yet apprehend. The ritual could not make morality.
IV. ANY WORSHIP TO PLEASE GOD MUST BE REASONABLE. The Divine appeal claims the undivided attention of the profoundest thoughts; "Come, now, and let us reason together."
(Sermons by the Monday Club.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.