AW Pink (1886-1952): The Claims of God

The Claims of God
By
AW Pink (1886-1952)
Copyright: Public Domain

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Be Berean (Acts 17:11) – Use the Internet with discernment.

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THE CLAIMS OF GOD

Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you. But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed” (1Sa 12:24-25). These words were uttered by God’s servant to Israel at an important crisis in their national history. Dissatisfied with the divine theocracy, they wished to be like the heathen and have a human king to be their head and leader. The Lord suffered them to have their wish gratified, but pressed upon them the wickedness of it. Then, His servant faithfully presented to them the certain issues of two courses of conduct—if they feared and served the Lord, He would prosper them. If they rebelled against Him, His hand would smite them (1Sa 12:14-15; 24-25).

In our text, we find Samuel setting before Israel the requirements of God from them. They were to fear and serve Him. In it, he reminds them of the wondrous mercies which had been shown them, and the obligation which these imposed. He bids them consider the great things which God had done for them. In 1 Samuel 12:7, he called upon them to “stand still” while he reasoned with them before the Lord of His “benefits” (margin) unto them. God had brought them out of the house of bondage (1Sa 12:8). He had made them to dwell in the favoured land of Canaan. When they had departed from Him and He sorely chastened them, then, they cried unto Him, confessed their sin, and He graciously delivered them from their enemies (1Sa 12:9-11). What then ought to be their response? Fear and serve Him.

“Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning” (Rom 15:4). The temporal deliverances, which JEHOVAH wrought of old for Israel, shadowed forth the spiritual deliverances which Christ has secured for His people, and which the Holy Spirit applies to them experimentally. Their emancipation from Egypt figured our redemption from the bondage of sin, “Redeemed from…your vain conversation” or “manner of living” (1Pe 1:18). Christ died not only to save His people from Hell, but also to “deliver us from this present evil world” (Gal 1:4). Such inestimable blessings carry with them immense obligations. The claims of God upon His people are infinitely greater than those He has upon the wicked. And naught but divine grace can enable us to answer our obligations and meet His claims. What these are we shall now consider.

1. “Fear the Lord.” Of the unregenerate, it is said, “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Rom 3:18). They have no respect for His authority, no concern for His glory, no love for His law. But concerning the righteous, we are told, “Surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before Him” (Ecc 8:12). And why? Because “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil” (Pro 8:13), and “By the fear of the LORD men depart from evil” (Pro 16:6). Thus, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Pro 9:10), for without it, man is a consummate fool, on a lower level than the beasts which perish, for “The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib” (Isa 1:3), but the wicked own not the voice of their Maker.

To “fear the Lord” is for the heart to be deeply impressed by His awful majesty, His immeasurable power, His ineffable holiness. It is to stand in reverent awe of Him. If the seraphim veil their faces in His presence (Isa 6:2), how much more ought worms of the earth bow in the dust before Him! To fear the Lord is to tremble at the very thought of knowingly opposing Him. It is to have the utmost respect for every revelation of His imperial will. When the father of Isaac obeyed the divine command to lay his beloved son on the altar of sacrifice, the Lord said, “Now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me” (Gen 22:12). And this godly fear which is required from us (compare Act 9:31; 2Co 7:1; 1Pe 1:17) is not to be spasmodic and occasional, but as Proverbs 23:17 says, “Be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long.” Then, what cause have we to cry daily, “Unite my heart to fear thy name” (Psa 86:11).

Observe well the opening word of our text, “Only fear the LORD.” If the fear of the Lord is truly upon our hearts, everything else will (so to speak) take care of itself. If the fear of the Lord be upon us, pride will be abased, self-will and self-seeking will be subdued, and the evil whisperings of Satan will have no power over us. If the fear of the Lord be upon us, we shall be delivered from the fear of man, as we shall be quite indifferent whether or not we please him. If the fear of the Lord be upon us, doubtings and questionings of our salvation will be at an end, “In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence; and his children shall have a place of refuge” (Pro 14:26). “The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant” (Psa 25:14).

2. “And serve him.” Yes, Him, not self, not sin, not our fellows. God is the only one who has any real claims upon us, for He is our Creator, our Owner, our Lord. Him, we are commanded, under pain of everlasting woe, to serve. Not simply believe in Him, pray to Him, but be in complete subjection to Him. His will is to be our law, His commands the regulator of our ways. “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Mat 4:10). We cannot “serve” two masters, as Christ affirmed, “For either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other” (Mat 6:24). Note well that this call to “serve” the Lord comes after “fear” Him. We cannot truly serve Him unless His fear be upon us. Any so-called service which flows not from a reverent awe of God is only the restless energy of the flesh putting itself into action.

“Serve Him in truth.” What is meant by this? At least three things. First, the Lord is to be served in sincerity, not in pretence. A form of godliness, no matter how precise and punctilious, is of no avail in His sight if the power of it be lacking. Second, the Lord requires to be served in reality, not in mere lip profession. “Let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth” (1Jo 3:18). Nothing is more vain than an empty formality. Third, in a scriptural way. “Thy word is truth” (Joh 17:17). To serve the Lord “in truth” is the opposite of following the fashions of the day, or the inclinations of our hearts. It is an obedient walk regulated by the divine precepts.

“With all your heart.” Ah, it is at the heart that God looks, and not merely at the outward appearance, as does man. His great requirement is, “My son, give me thine heart” (Pro 23:26). We do not find Him until we search for Him with all our heart (Jer 29:13). He bids us, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart” (Pro 3:5). He commands us to love Him with all the heart (Mat 22:37). So He demands that we shall “serve him with a perfect heart” (1Ch 28:9). Of Rehoboam, it is said, “And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the LORD” (2Ch 12:14). To serve the Lord with all the heart means with undivided affections. It is the opposite of a “double heart” (1Ch 12:33). Of old, God complained against Israel, “Their heart is divided” (Hos 10:2). God requires the throne of our hearts that He may reign over us, that we may be out and out for Him, with no reserve, nothing kept back. “Whoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he can not be my disciple” (Luk 14:33).

3. “For consider how great things he hath done for you.” This is the motive. We are to fear and serve Him in truth with all our hearts, not that we may gain the reputation of being very spiritual people, not in order to escape the everlasting burnings, but because of what the Lord “has done” for us. Let the realization of that be the mainspring of action. Let the remembrance of that move you to fear and serve Him wholeheartedly. That is the only motive which God will accept. A daily life lived to please Him out of gratitude for what He has done for you. “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God” (Rom 12:1). God’s claims upon us are founded upon what He has done for us. Our obligations are measured by the blessings which we have received from Him.

“Consider what great things He hath done for You.” You, an insignificant worm of the earth (Isa 41:14), a mere “grasshopper” (Isa 40:22). You, a vile sinner, with “no good” in you by nature (Rom 7:18). You, who merit nothing at His hands but untempered judgment. Yet, instead of casting you into Hell years ago, what has He done for you? Preserved your worthless life these many years, showered His daily blessings upon you, and supplied your every need. And, if truly saved, has delivered you from the wrath to come, given you a place in His family nearer to Himself than that which the holy angels will occupy, and made you an heir of everlasting glory. Oh, that our hearts may be so melted by the realization of His amazing grace, that the love of Christ shall “constrain” us to fear and serve Him in truth with all our hearts.

“For consider what great things He hath done for you.” Turn them over and over in your mind, dwell on them frequently. As the man of the world is constantly scheming how to make money, or how to have “a good time”—his whole heart being wrapped up in such things—so do you make it your chief business to be occupied with the wonders of God. “Set your affection on things above.” Many a person on the beach shivers and is miserable while he is only paddling in the waters. Not till he plunges right in does he really enjoy himself. So it is in connection with the things of God. So long as they have a subordinate and secondary place in our thoughts and lives, we do not really “delight” ourselves in the Lord. “Give thyself wholly to them” (1Ti 4:15) is a word which each Christian needs to lay to heart.

If you be a real Christian, what are the “great things” which the Lord has done for you? Set His heart upon you, loved you from all eternity (Jer 31:3), and written your name in the Lamb’s book of life (Luk 10:20). Spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up to the cross, to atone for your sins (Rom 8:32). Sent the Holy Spirit into your heart to regenerate and raise you up into newness of life (Gal 4:6). Given you an unfailing Lamp unto your feet and Light unto your path (Psa 119:105), to direct your steps through this dark world (2Pe 1:19). Granted you, even now, access to His throne of grace, that there you may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Heb 4:16). Blest you with His abiding Presence (as He did Daniel in the lions’ den), promising never to leave nor forsake you (Heb 13:5). Assured you that, in a soon-coming day, you shall be done with sin forever (Heb 9:28), be made like Christ (1Jo 3:2), and spend eternity with Him (1Th 4:17), beholding His glory.

Ah, my brethren and sisters, the things mentioned above are indeed “great.” Then, surely we ought to “consider” them day and night. We should consider them prayerfully, begging God to make them more real and precious to our hearts, that we may so “consider” them as to be transformed by them (2Co 3:18), that they may order all the details of our lives to His glory. The more they are so “considered,” the easier and the more blessed will it be to “fear and serve him in truth.” Then shall we find that all Wisdom’s ways are “pleasantness, and all her paths are peace” (Pro 3:17). For “His commandments are not grievous” (1Jo 5:3). They are so to the unregenerate, but not to those who have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

But what if we do not fear and serve the Lord in truth with all our hearts? That will prove that our profession is vain, that we are yet in our sins. “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1Jo 2:4). Make no mistake on this point, my reader. All around us are those who “profess that they know God, but in works they deny him,” and such are said to be “abominable” (Ti 1:16). And what shall be their end? This, “But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed” (1Sa 12:25). “If they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven” (Heb 12:25).

May the Lord deign to add His blessing and to Him shall be all the praise.

LNW: End Times Prophecy: Update No. 1

End Times Prophecy Fulfillment

Today’s Headlines on twitter

@LateNightWatch

(https://twitter.com/latenightwatch)

By

LateNightWatch

Copyright

External links are for reader convenience only, neither the linked web sites, its advertising content or its comments are endorsed by Late Night Watch.  Be Berean (Acts 17:11) – Use the Internet with discernment.

LNW Note: To get the most out of Commentaries that incorporate the Hebrew and Greek spellings, use an interlinear Bible.

FOCAL POINT

Biblical “End Times” prophecy is unfolding before our very eyes today – from the Old Testament such as Ezekiel 38, Daniel 9-12, and, from the New Testament, Jesus’ words in the Gospels (Matthew 24 & 25; Mark 13; Luke 21), the Apostle Paul from Acts 20:17-31; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12; 1 Timothy 4:1-5; 2 Timothy 3:1-9, from Jude 1-25, and the Apostle John from Revelation 6:1-8.

Follow us on twitter @LateNightWatch – read the daily headlines and respective articles and find out for yourself.

SUMMARY POINTS

Below is a summary view of some of the “birth pangs” Jesus mentioned as recorded in Matthew 25 and Mark 13.  It is not meant to be a specific detailed accounting, but to give a high-level overview; to stir up our hearts and minds to take notice of God’s prophetic word unfolding in the world around us, to give us substance for prayer before God Almighty.  May the Holy Spirit guide us in those prayers.

God is doing such mighty and awesome things in the fulfilling of Biblical prophecy and it is a blessing to be alive to witness them.  From the very possible prophetic actions of Gog/Magog and his horde surrounding Israel (alignment of Russia, Iran & Turkey (the rest will come: Gomer: Germany, Ethiopia: Sudan, Put: Libya)) on Israel’s borders with Syria (Israel being surrounded by armies), to the various prophecies of the Apostate church, wars and rumors of wars (ISIS, N. Korea, Iran, Russia & Ukraine, Afghanistan, Somalia, Philippines, the list goes on), nation against nation, kingdom against kingdom, the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, and the setting of the stage in the EU through continued civil dissatisfaction with national policies for the revealing of the Antichrist. EU is also developing out their very own “national” military and intelligence services, as well as its own space programs and other “national” agencies.

Gog/Magog (Ezekiel 38): Just recently (May 2017) Russia, Iran/Hizballah, Turkey & Syria have formulated an alignment in defense of Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad’s control of Syria.  At this time they are amassing at the Syrian/Iraqi/Jordanian Al-Tanf border crossing being protected by the U.S. led coalition forces (see here). 

Additional Gog/Magog (Ezekiel 38) related headlines:

·   Russian paratroops move to Syrian border triangle

·   Turkey’s accelerated drift from Europe

·   Russia, Iran and Turkey announce farcical new Syria peace plan

·   Powerful pro-Iran Badr Brigades to enter Syria

·   Russia says Syria de-escalation deal takes effect at midnight

·   Syrian rebels say U.S., allies sending more arms to fend off Iran threat

·   Fifteen Russian navy vessels in E. Mediterranean, spokesman says

·   Iran-backed Iraqi force says takes Islamic State villages near Syria

·   Russian monitors for Syrian Golan – not Iranians

·   Iraq’s Iran-backed paramilitary advances toward Syria border

·   Russia’s 4 Syrian ceasefire zones – Kremlin spin

·   Iran’s nat’l security adviser in Moscow to discuss US involvement in Syria

·   Russia: Syria safe zones to be shut for U.S., coalition planes – agencies

·   Turkey builds a northern Syria ‘National Army’ from Free Syrian Army militias

Jude 1-25: Jude throughout, is an overall umbrella for the below concerns.  Jude is also summarized in 2 Peter 2.

Apostate Church (Acts 20:17-31; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12; 1 Timothy 4:1-5): The church today is in a very sad state.  Many churches are quietly joining the ranks of the Apostate church while looking as though they are sound-in-the-faith normal churches. Do not be deceived, even mainline churches are following after the apostates; many national and globally known pastors/teachers, theologians are succumbing to this false Christianity (see here & here).

The Form of Godliness (2 Timothy 3:1-9): It seems these days everyone is a “Christian” not only in the U.S. but also abroad when it suits their need.  Not a day goes by where local city, county and state officials, law enforcement officials, school officials, federally elected officials, and even church clergy thumb their nose at the legal system, breaking civil laws that get in the way of their obtaining what they want.  These set a negative example to their constituency and the younger generation follows their example. This creates a society on the verge of chaos, primed for the Antichrist. Keep an eye on civil unrest subsequent to this type of political rebellion.

The beginning of the birth pangs (Matthew 24:6-7, Mark 13:6-7, Luke 21:9-10): Wars and rumors of wars, nation against nation, kingdom against kingdom.  This is reflected in the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse below.

Four Horseman of the Apocalypse (Revelation 6:1-8): Perhaps the first Horseman of the Apocalypse is a spirit of war that is driving the nations to war against one another and providing a culmination of fatigue within the citizens of the world to facilitate not only the seven year peace treaty between Israel and their enemies, but sweeps Antichrist to power and the full revival of the old Roman Empire uniting both east & western segments (two feet & ten toes of Daniel). Especially in these days of the End Times this is most prominent by such as ISIS, Syria, Iraq, N. Korea, Iran, Russia & Ukraine, Afghanistan, Somalia, Philippines, the list goes on, and will go on until Armageddon which will include the uniting of all the armies of the world against Jesus Christ at His second coming (Rev 16:12-16 & 19:11-21).

Antichrist & The Kings of the East (Revelation 13 & 16:12): Once the Roman Empire is reestablished, then comes the wars with the kings of the East – China is beginning to rise on the world stage; trying to unite the Far East Asian Nations under her banner (most recently that of the Philippines, Thailand, Viet Nam).  China has just begun to interact with the EU as the US and NATO begins to decline under our current administration.  Not saying the U.S. decline is a bad thing, as it must decline for the EU (revived Roman Empire) to rise in prominence.  Note, only those nations that originally belonged to the old Roman Empire will be part of the new in the form of the EU.  Notice the UK has removed itself from the EU – the enemy is struggling against this but the UK will eventually exit the EU.

No matter how hard the world tries, there will be no peace in Israel until the coming of Antichrist brings about the seven year peace treaty with Israel.  This act is the eye opening hallmark that tells us that our Savior is at the door.  Let us resolve in our hearts now to remain faithful and diligent to the end, for He will not fail us.

Additional EU/Antichrist Rev 13 related headlines:

Additional Kings of the East Rev 16:12 related headlines:

·   Mogherini sees EU military HQ “within days”

·   Chinese, Iranians who sold missile tech to Syria hit with US sanctions

·   Germany and China vow to deepen ties amid Trump concerns

·   Thailand, China vow to further enhance bilateral defence ties

·   China and Europe: Together we can make a difference

·   China’s Xi says navy should become world class

·   New HQ to take charge of EU military missions

·   China holds first joint exercise with Myanmar Navy

·   As U.S. retreats, EU and China seek climate leadership at summit

·   Leaders of China, South Korea could meet as early as July at G20 meeting: South Korea envoy

·   NATO’s diminishing military function

·   China conducts training for Philippine Coast Guard officials

·   Trump’s loss is Li’s gain as Berlin rolls out red carpet for China’s PM

·   Japan, China to hold finance talks amid concerns on protectionism, North Korea

 

LNW will have updates forth coming as events support it.

©LateNightWatch 2017. All Headlines copyright by respective publishers/owners.

Matthew Henry (1662-1714): Commentary on Zephaniah

Commentary on Zephaniah

By

Matthew Henry (1662-1714)

Copyright: Public Domain

External links are for reader convenience only, neither the linked web sites, its advertising content or its comments are endorsed by Late Night Watch.  Be Berean (Acts 17:11) – Use the Internet with discernment.

LNW Note: To get the most out of Commentaries that incorporate the Hebrew and Greek spellings, use an interlinear Bible

An Exposition, with Practical Observations, of The Prophecy of Zephaniah

This prophet is placed last, as he was last in time, of all the minor prophets before the captivity, and not long before Jeremiah, who lived at the time of the captivity. He foretells the general destruction of Judah and Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, and sets their sins in order before them, which had provoked God to bring their ruin upon them, calls them to repentance, threatens the neighbouring nations with the like destructions, and gives encouraging promises of their joyful return out of captivity in due time, which have a reference to the grace of the gospel. We have, in the first verse, an account of the prophet and the date of his prophecy, which supersedes our enquiry concerning them here.

Zephaniah 1

After the title of the book (Zep 1:1) here is, I. A threatening of the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem, an utter destruction, by the Chaldeans (Zep 1:2-4). II. A charge against them for their gross sin, which provoked God to bring that destruction upon them (Zep 1:5, Zep 1:6); and so he goes on in the rest of the chapter, setting both the judgments before them, that they might prevent them or prepare for them, and the sins that destroy them, that they might judge themselves, and justify God in what was brought upon them. 1. They must hold their peace because they had greatly sinned (Zep 1:7-9). But, 2, They shall howl because the trouble will be great. The day of the Lord is near, and it will be a terrible day (Zep 1:10-18). Such fair and timely warning as this did God give to the Jews of the approaching captivity; but they hardened their neck, which made their destruction remediless.

Zephaniah 1:1-6

Here is, I. The title-page of this book (Zep 1:1), in which we observe, 1. What authority it has, and who gave it that authority; it is from heaven, and not of men: It is the word of the Lord. 2. Who was the instrument of conveying it to the church. His name was Zephaniah, which signifies the servant of the Lord, for God revealed his secrets to his servants the prophets. The pedigree of other prophets, whose extraction we have an account of, goes no further back than their father, except Zecharias, whose grandfather also is named. But this of Zephaniah goes back four generations, and the highest mentioned is Hizkiah; it is the very same name in the original with that of Hezekiah king of Judah (2Ki 18:1), and refers probably to him; if so, our prophet, being lineally descended from that pious prince, and being of the royal family, could with the better grace reprove the folly of the king’s children as he does, Zep 1:8. 3. When this prophet prophesied – in the days of Josiah king of Judah, who reigned well, and in the twelfth year of his reign began vigorously, and carried on a work of reformation, in which he destroyed idols and idolatry. Now it does not appear whether Zephaniah prophesied in the beginning of his reign; if so, we may suppose his prophesying had a great and good influence on that reformation. When he, as God’s messenger, reproved the idolatries of Jerusalem, Josiah, as God’s vice-regent, removed them; and reformation is likely to go on and prosper when both magistrates and ministers do their part towards it. If it were towards the latter end of his reign that he prophesied, we sadly see how a corrupt people relapse into their former distempers. The idolatries Josiah had abolished, it should seem, returned in his own time, when the heat of the reformation began a little to abate and wear off. What good can the best reformers do with a people that hate to be reformed, as if they longed to be ruined?

II. The summary, or contents, of this book. The general proposition contained in it is, That utter destruction is coming apace upon Judah and Jerusalem for sin. Without preamble, or apology, he begins abruptly (Zep 1:2): By taking away I will make an end of all things from off the face of the land, Saith the Lord. Ruin is coming, utter ruin, destruction from the Almighty. He has said it who can, and will, make good what he has said: “I will utterly consume all things. I will gather all things” (so some); “I will recall all the blessings I have bestowed, because they have abused them and so forfeited them.” The consumption determined shall take away, 1. The inferior creatures: I will consume the beasts, the fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea (Zep 1:3), as, in the deluge, every living substance was destroyed that was upon the face of the ground, Gen 7:23. The creatures were made for man’s use, and therefore when he has perverted the use of them, and made them subject to vanity, God, to show the greatness of his displeasure against the sin of man, involves them in his punishment. The expressions are figurative, denoting universal desolation. Those that fly ever so high, as the fowls of heaven, and think themselves out of the reach of the enemies’ hand – those that hide ever so close, as the fishes of the sea, and think themselves out of the reach of the enemies’ eye – shall yet become a prey to them, and be utterly consumed. 2. The children of men: “I will consume man; I will cut off man from the land. The land shall be dispeopled and left uninhabited; I will destroy, not only Israel, but man. The land shall enjoy her sabbaths. I will cut off, not only the wicked men, but all men; even the few among them that are good shall be involved in this common calamity. Though they shall not be cut off from the Lord, yet they shall be cut off from the land.” It is with Judah and Jerusalem that God has this quarrel, both city and country, and upon them he will stretch out his hand, the hand of his power, the hand of his wrath; and who knows the power of his anger? Zep 1:4. Those that will not humble themselves under God’s mighty hand shall be humbled and brought down by it. Note, Even Judah, where God is known, and Jerusalem, where his dwelling-place is, if they revolt from him and rebel against him, shall have his hand stretched out against them. 3. All wicked people, and all those things that are the matter of their wickedness (Zep 1:3): “I will consume the stumbling-blocks with the wicked, the idols with the idolaters, the offences with the offenders.” Josiah had taken away the stumbling-blocks, and, as far as he could, had purged the land of the monuments of idolatry, hoping that there would be no more idolatry; but the wicked will do wickedly, the dog will return to his vomit, and therefore, since the sin will not otherwise be cured, the sinners must themselves be consumed, even the wicked with the stumbling-blocks of their iniquity, Eze 14:3. Since it was not done by the sword of justice, it shall be done by the sword of war. See who the sinners are that shall be consumed. (1.) The professed idolaters, who avowed idolatry, and were wedded to it. The remnant of Baal shall be cut off, the images of Baal, and the worshippers of those images. Josiah cut off a great deal of Baal; but that which was so close as to escape the eye, or so bold as to escape the hand, of his justice, God will cut off, even all the remains of it. The Chaldeans would spare none of the images of Baal, or the worshippers of those images. The Chemarim shall be cut off; we read of them in the history of Josiah’s reformation. 2Ki 23:5, He put down the idolatrous priests: the word is the Chemarim. The word signifies black men, some think because they wore black clothes, affecting to appear grave, others because their faces were black with attending the altars, or the fires in which they burnt their children to Moloch. They seem to have been immediate attendants upon the service of Baal. They shall be cut off with the priests, the regulars with the seculars. The very name of them shall be cut off; the order shall be quite abolished, so as to be forgotten, or remembered with detestation. And, among other idolaters, the worshippers of the host of heaven upon the house-tops shall be cut off (Zep 1:5), who justified themselves in their idolatry with those that did not worship images, the work of their own hands, but offered their sacrifices and burnt their incense to the sun, moon, and stars, immediately upon the tops of their houses. But God will let them know that he is a jealous God, and will not endure any rival; and, though some have thought that the most specious and plausible idolatry, yet it will appear as great an offence to God to give divine honours to a star as to give them to a stone or a stock. Even the worshippers of the host of heaven shall be consumed as well as the worshippers of the beasts of the earth or the fiends of hell. The sin of the adulteress is not the less sinful for the gaiety of the adulterer. (2.) Those also shall be consumed that think to compound the matter between God and idols, and keep an even hand between them, that halt between God and Baal, and worship between Jehovah and Moloch, and swear by both; or, as it might better be read, swear to the Lord and to Malcham. They bind themselves by oath and covenant to the service both of God and idols. They have a good opinion of the worship of the God of Israel; it is the religion of their country, and has been long so, and therefore they will by no means quit it; but they think it will be very much improved and beautified if they join with it the worship of Moloch, for that also is much used in other countries, and travellers admire it; there is a great deal of good fancy and strong flame in it. They cannot keep always to the worship of a God whom they have no visible representation of, and therefore they must have an image; and what better than the image of Molocha king? They think they shall effectually atone for their sin if they swear to Moloch, and, pursuant to that oath, burn their children in sacrifice to that idol; and yet, if they do amiss in that, they hope to atone for it in worshipping the God of Israel too. Note, Those that think to divide their affections and adorations between God and idols will not only come short of acceptance with God, but will have their doom with the worst of idolaters; for what communion can there be between light and darkness, Christ and Belial, God and mammon? She whose own the child is not pleads for the dividing of it, for, if Satan have half, he will have all; but the true mother says, Divide it not, for, if God have but half, he will have none. Such waters will not be long sweet, if they come from a fountain that sends forth bitter water too; what have those to do to swear by the Lord that swear by Malcham? (3.) Those also shall be consumed that have apostatized from God, together with those that never gave up their names to him, Zep 1:6. I will cut off, [1.] Those that are turned back from the Lord, that were well taught, and began well, that had given up their names to him, and set out at first in the worship of him, but have flown off, and turned aside, and fallen in with idolaters, and deserted those good ways of God which they were brought up in, and despised them. Those God will be sure to reckon with who are renegadoes from his service, who began in the Spirit and ended in the flesh; they shall be treated as deserters, to whom no mercy is shown. [2.] Those that have not sought the Lord, nor ever enquired for him, never made any profession of religion, and think to excuse themselves with that, shall find that this will not excuse them; nay, this is the thing laid to their charge; they are atheistical careless people, that live without God in the world; and those that do so are certainly unworthy to live upon God in the world.

Zephaniah 1:7-13

Notice is here given to Judah and Jerusalem that God is coming forth against them, and will be with them shortly; his presence, as a just avenger, his day, the day of his judgment and his wrath, are not far off, Zep 1:7. Those that improve not the presence of God with them as a Father, but sin away that presence, may expect his presence with them as a Judge, to call them to an account for the contempt put upon his grace. The day of the Lord will come. Men have their day now, when they take a liberty to do what they please; but God’s day is at hand; it is here called his sacrifice, a sacrifice of his preparing, for the punishing of presumptuous sinners is a sacrifice to the justice of God, some reparation to his injured honour. Those that brought their offerings to other gods were themselves justly made victims to the true God. On a day of sacrifice great slaughter was made; so shall there be in Jerusalem; men shall be killed up as fast as lambs for the altar, with as little regret, with as much pleasure: The slain of the Lord shall be many. On a day of sacrifice great feasts were made upon the sacrifices; so the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem shall be feasted upon by their enemies the Chaldeans; these are the guests God has prepared and invited to come and glut themselves – their revenge with slaughter and their covetousness with plunder. Now observe,

I. Who those are that are marked to be sacrificed, that shall be visited and punished in this day of reckoning, and what it is they shall be called to an account for. 1. The royal family, because of the dignity of their place, shall be first reckoned with for their pride, and vanity, and affectation (Zep 1:8): I will punish the princes, and the king’s children, who think themselves accountable to God, and that, high as they are, he is above them. They shall be punished, and all such as, like them, are clothed with strange apparel, such as, in contempt of their own country (where, probably, it was the custom to go in a very plain dress, as became the seed of Jacob that plain man), affected to appear in the fashion of other nations and introduced their modes in apparel, studying to resemble those from whom God had appointed them, even in their clothes, industriously to distinguish themselves. The princes and the king’s children scorned to wear any home-made stuffs, though God had provided them fine linen and silks (Eze 16:10), but they must send abroad to strange countries for their clothes, which would not please unless they were far-fetched and dear-bought; and even those of inferior rank affected to imitate the princes and the king’s children. Pride in apparel is displeasing to God, and a symptom of the degeneracy of a people. 2. The noblemen, and their stewards and servants, come next to be reckoned with (Zep 1:9): In the same day will I punish those that leap on the threshold, a phrase, no doubt, well understood then, and which probably signified the invading of their neighbour’s rights. Entering their houses by force and violence, and seizing their possessions, they leap on the threshold, as much as to say that the house is their own and they will keep their hold of it; and, accordingly, they make all in it their own that they can lay their hands on, and so fill their masters’ houses with goods gotten by violence and deceit and with all the guilt thereby contracted. Nor shall it suffice them to say that the ill-gotten gains were not for themselves but for their masters, and that what they did was by their order; for the obligations we lie under to keep God’s commandments are prior and superior to the obligations we lie under to serve the interests of any master on earth. 3. The trading people, and the rich merchants, are next called to account. Iniquity is found in their end of the town, among the inhabitants of Maktesh, a low part of Jerusalem, deep like a mortar (for so the word signifies); the goldsmiths lived there (Neh 3:32) and the merchants; and they are now cut down (they are broken, and have shut up their shops, and become bankrupts); nay, All those that bear silver are cut off, in the first place, by the invaders, for the sake of the silver they carry, which is so far from being a protection to them that it will expose and betray them. The conquerors aimed at the wealthy men, and carried them off first, while the poor of the land escaped. Or it may be meant of a general decay of trade, which was a preface and introduction to the general destruction of the land. It is the token of a declining state when great dealers are cut down, and great bankers are cut off and become bankrupts, who cannot fall alone, but with themselves ruin many. 4. All the secure and careless people, the sons of pleasure, that live a loose idle life, are next reckoned with (Zep 1:12); they come from all parts of the country, to take up their quarters in the head-quarters of the kingdom, where they take private lodgings, and indulge themselves in ease and luxury; but God will find them out, and punish them: At that time I will search Jerusalem with candles, to discover them, that they may be brought out to condign punishment. This intimates that they conceal themselves, as being either ashamed of the sin or afraid of the punishment of it; when the judgments of God are abroad they hope to escape by absconding and getting out of the way, but God will search Jerusalem, as search is made for a malefactor in disguise, that is harboured by his accomplices. God’s hand will find out all his enemies, wherever they lie hid, and will punish not only the secret idolaters, but the secret epicures and profane; and those are the persons that are here described, and marks are given by which they will be discovered when strict search is made for them. (1.) Their dispositions are sensual: They are settled on their lees, intoxicated with their pleasures, strengthening themselves in their wealth and wickedness; they are secure and easy, and, because they have had no changes, they fear none, as Moab, Jer 48:11. They have not been emptied from vessel to vessel. They fill themselves with wine and strong drink, and banish all thought, saying, Tomorrow shall be as this day, Isa 56:12. Their being settled on their lees signifies the same with being enclosed in their own fat, Psa 17:10. (2.) Their notions are atheistical. They could not live such loose lives but that they say in their heart, The Lord will not do good, neither will he do evil; that is, He will do nothing. They deny his providential government of the world: “What good and evil there is in the world comes by the wheel of fortune, and not by the disposal of a wise and supreme director.” They deny his moral government, and his dispensing rewards and punishments: “The Lord will not do good to those that serve him, nor do evil to those that rebel against him; and therefore there is nothing got by religion, nor lost by sin.” This was the effect of their sensuality; if they were not drowned in sense, they could not be thus senseless, nor could they be so stupid if they had not stupefied themselves with the love of pleasure. It was also the cause of their sensuality; men would not make a god of their belly if they had not at first become so vain, so vile, in their imaginations, as to think the God that made them altogether such a one as themselves. But God will punish them; their end is destruction, Php 3:19.

II. What the destruction will be with which God will punish these sinners, and what course he will take with them. 1. He will silence them (Zep 1:7): Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord. He will force them to hold their peace, will strike them dumb with horror and amazement. They shall be speechless. All the excuses of their sin, and exceptions against the sentence, will be overruled, and they shall not have a word to say for themselves. 2. He will sacrifice them, for it is the day of the Lord’s sacrifice (Zep 1:8); he will give them into the hands of their enemies, and glorify himself thereby. 3. He will fill both city and country with lamentation (Zep 1:10): In that day there shall be a noise of a cry from the fish-gate, so called because near either to the fish-ponds or to the fish-market. It belonged to the city of David (2Ch 33:14; Neh 3:3); perhaps the same with that which is called the first gate (Zec 14:10), and, if so, it will explain what follows here, And a howling from the second, that is, the second gate, which was next to that fish-gate. The alarm shall go round the walls of Jerusalem from gate to gate; and there shall be a great crashing from the hills, a mighty noise from the mountains round about Jerusalem, from the acclamations of the victorious invaders, or from the lamentations of the timorous invaded, or from both. The inhabitants of the city, even of the closest safest part of the city, shall howl (Zep 1:11), so clamorous shall the grief be. 4. They shall be stripped of all they have; it shall be a prey to the enemy (Zep 1:13): Their household goods, and shop-goods, shall become a booty, and a rich booty they shall be; their houses shall be leveled with the ground and be a desolation; those of them that have built new houses shall not inherit them, but the invaders shall get and keep possession of them. And the vineyards they have planted they shall not drink the wine of, but, instead of having it for the relief of their friends that faint among them, they shall part with it for the animating of their foes that fight against them, Deu 28:30.

Zephaniah 1:14-18

Nothing could be expressed with more spirit and life, nor in words more proper to startle and awaken a secure and careless people, than the warning here given to Judah and Jerusalem of the approaching destruction by the Chaldeans. That is enough to make the sinners in Zion tremble – that it is the day of the Lord, the day in which he will manifest himself by taking vengeance on them. It is the great day of the Lord, a specimen of the day of judgment, a kind of doom’s-day, as the last destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans is represented to be in our Saviour’s prediction concerning it, Mat 24:27.

I. This day of the Lord is here spoken of as very near. The vision is not for a great while to come, as those imagine who put the evil day far from them. Those deceive themselves who look upon it as a thing at a distance, for it is nearit is nearit hastens greatly. The prophet gives the alarm like one that is in earnest, like one that awakens a family with the cry of Fire! fire! when it is at the next door that the danger is: “It is near! it is near! and therefore it is high time to bestir yourselves, and do what you can for your own safety before it be too late.” It is madness for those to slumber whose damnation slumbers not, and to linger when it hastens.

II. It is spoken of as a very dreadful day. The very voice of this day of the Lord, the noise of it, when it is coming, shall be so terrible as to make the mighty men cry there bitterly, cry for fear as children do. It shall be a vexation to hear the report of it. In the last great day of the Lord the mighty men shall cry bitterly to rocks and mountains to shelter them; but in vain. Observe how emphatically the prophet speaks of this day approaching (Zep 1:15): It is a day of wrath, God’s wrath, wrath in perfection, wrath to the utmost. It will be a day of trouble and distress to the sinners; they shall be in pain, and shall see no ways of easing or helping themselves. The miseries of the damned are summed up (perhaps with reference to this) in the indignation and wrath of God, which are the cause, and the tribulation and anguish of the sinner’s soul, which are the effect, Rom 2:8, Rom 2:9. It will be a day of trouble and distress to the inhabitants, and a day of wasteness and desolation to the whole land; that fruitful land shall be turned into a wilderness. It shall be a day of darkness and gloominess; every thing shall look dismal, and there shall not be the least gleam of comfort, or glimpse of hope; look round, and it is all black. It is a day of clouds and thick darkness; there is not only nothing encouraging, but every thing threatening; the thick clouds are big with storms and tempests.

III. It is spoken of as a destroying day, Zep 1:16, Zep 1:17. It shall be destroying, 1. To places, even the strongest and best fortified: A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, to break into them, and against the high towers, to bring them down; for what forts, what fences, can hold out against the wrath of God? 2. To persons (Zep 1:17): “I will bring distress upon men, the strongest and stoutest of men; their hearts and hands shall fail them; they shall walk like blind men, wandering endlessly, because they have sinned against the Lord.” Note, Those that walk as bad men will justly be left to walk as blind men, always in the dark, in doubt and danger, without any guide or comfort, and falling at length into the ditch. Because they have sinned against the Lord he will deliver them into the hands of cruel enemies, that shall pour out their blood as dust, so profusely, and with as little regret, and their flesh shall be thrown as dung upon the dunghill.

IV. The destruction of that day will be unavoidable and universal, Zep 1:18. 1. There shall be no escaping it by ransom: Neither their silver nor their gold, which they have hoarded up so covetously against the evil day, or which they have spent so prodigally to make friends for such a time, shall be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord’s wrath. Another prophet borrowed these words from this, with reference to the same event, Eze 7:19. Note, Riches profit not in the day of wrath, Pro 11:4. Nay, riches expose to the wrath of men (Ecc 5:13.), and riches abused to the wrath of God. 2. There shall be no escaping it by flight or concealment; for the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy, and where then can a hiding-place be found? See what the fire of God’s jealousy is, and what the force of it; it will devour whole lands; how then can particular persons stand before it? He shall make riddance, a speedy riddance, of all those that dwell in the land, as the husbandman, when he rids his ground, cuts up all the briers and thorns for the fire. Note, Sometimes the judgments of God make riddance, even utter riddance, with sinful nations, a speedy riddance; their destruction is effected, is completed, in a little time. Let not sinners be laid asleep by the patience of God, for when the measure of their iniquity is full his justice will both overtake and overcome, will make quick work and thorough work.

Zephaniah 2

In this chapter we have, I. An earnest exhortation to the nation of the Jews to repent and make their peace with God, and so to prevent the judgments threatened before it was too late (Zep 2:1-3), and this inferred from the revelation of God’s wrath against them in the foregoing chapter. II. A denunciation of the judgments of God against several of the neighbouring nations that had assisted, or rejoiced in, the calamity of Israel. 1. The Philistines (Zep 2:4-7). 2. The Moabites and Ammonites (Zep 2:8-11). 3. The Ethiopians and Assyrians (Zep 2:12-15). All these shall drink of the same cup of trembling that is put into the hands of God’s people, as was also foretold by other prophets before and after.

Zephaniah 2:1-3

Here we see what the prophet meant in that terrible description of the approaching judgments which we had in the foregoing chapter. From first to last his design was, not to drive the people to despair, but to drive them to God and to their duty – not to frighten them out of their wits, but to frighten them out of their sins. In pursuance of that he here calls them to repentance, national repentance, as the only way to prevent national ruin. Observe,

I. The summons given them to a national assembly (Zep 2:1): Gather yourselves together. He had told them, in the last words of the foregoing chapter, that God would make a speedy riddance of all that dwelt in the land, upon which, one would think, it should follow, “Disperse yourselves, and flee for shelter where you can find a place.” When the decree had absolutely gone forth for the last destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, that was the advice given (Mat 24:16), Then let those who are in Judea flee into the mountains; but here it is otherwise. God warns, that he may not wound, threatens, that he may not strike, and therefore calls to the people to use means for the turning away of his wrath. The summons is given to a nation not desired. The word signifies either, 1. Not desiring, that has not any desires towards God or the remembrance of his name, is not desirous of his favour or grace, but very indifferent to it, has no mind to repent and reform. “Yet come together, and see if you can stir up desires in one another.” Thus God is often found of those that sought him not, nor asked for him, Isa 65:1. Or, 2. Not desirable, no ways lovely, nor having any thing in them amiable, or which might recommend them to God. The land of Israel had been a pleasant land, a land of delight (Dan 11:41); but now it is unlovely, it is a nation not desired, to which God might justly say, Depart from me; but he says, “Gather together to me, and let us see if any expedient can be found out for the preventing of the ruin. Gather together, that you may in a body humble yourselves before God, may fast, and pray, and seek his face. Gather together, to consult among yourselves what is to be done in this critical juncture, that every one may consider of it, may give and take advice, and speak his mind, and that what is done may be done by consent and so may be a national act.” Some read it, “Enquire into yourselves, yea, enquire into yourselves; examine your consciences; look into your hearts; search and try your ways; enquire into yourselves, that you may find out the sin by which God has been provoked to this displeasure against you, and may find out the way of returning to him.” Note, When God is contending with us it concerns us to enquire into ourselves.

II. Arguments urged to press them to the utmost seriousness and expedition herein (Zep 2:2): “Do it in earnest; do it with all speed before it is too late, before the decree bring forth, before the day pass.” The manner of speaking here is very lively and awakening, designed to make them apprehensive, as all sinners are concerned to be, 1. That their danger is very great, that their all lies at stake, that it is a matter of life and death, which therefore well requires and well deserves the closest application of mind that can be. It is not a trifle, and therefore is not a thing to be trifled about. It is the fierce anger of the Lord that is kindled against them, and is just ready to kindle upon them, that devouring fire which none can dwell with, which none can make head against or hold up their head under. “It is the day of the Lord’s anger, the day set for the pouring out of the full vials of it, that you are threatened with, that great day of the Lord” spoken of, Zep 1:14. “Are you not concerned to prepare for that day?” 2. That it is very imminent: “Bestir yourselves now quickly, before the decree bring forth, and then it will be too late, the opportunity will be lost and never retrieved. The decree is as it were big with child, and it will bring forth the day, the terrible day, which shall pass as chaff, which shall hurry you away into captivity as chaff before the wind.” We know not what a day may bring forth (Pro 27:1), but we do know what the decree will bring forth against impenitent sinners, whom therefore it highly concerns to repent in time, in the accepted time. Note, It is the wisdom of those whom God has a controversy with to agree with him quickly, while they are in the way, before his fierce anger comes upon them, not to be turned away. In a case of this nature delays are highly dangerous and may be fatal; they will be so if by them the heart is hardened. How solicitous should we all be to make our peace with God before the Spirit withdraw from us, or cease to strive with us, before the day of grace be over or the day of life, before our everlasting state shall be determined on the other side of the great gulf fixed!

III. Directions prescribed for the doing of this effectually. It is not enough to gather together in a consternation, but they must seriously and calmly apply to the duty of the day (Zep 2:3): Seek you the Lord. That they might find mercy with God, they are here put upon seeking; for so is the rule – Seek, and you shall find. A general call was given to the whole nation to gather together, but little good is to be expected from the far greater part of them; if the land be saved, it must be by the interest and intercession of the pious few, and therefore to them the exhortation here is particularly directed. And observe, 1. How they are described – they are the meek of the earth, or of the land. It is the distinguishing character of the people of God that they are the meek ones of the earth; this is their badge; it is their livery. They are modest, and humble, and low in their own eyes; they are mild, and gentle, and yielding to others, not soon angry, not very angry, not long angry; they are the quiet in the land, Psa 35:20. And they are subject and submissive to their God, to all his precepts and all his providences. Actuated by this principle and disposition, they have wrought his judgments, that is, have obeyed his laws, observed his institutions, have made conscience of their duty to him, and have laid out themselves for the advancement of his honour and interest in the world. 2. What they are required to do; they must seek, which denotes both a careful enquiry and a constant endeavour, that they may know and do their duty. (1.) They must seek the Lord, seek his favour and grace, address him upon all occasions, ask of him what they need, seek him early, seek him diligently, and continue seeking him. (2.) They must seek righteousness. “Seek to God for the performance of his promises to you, and see to it that you abound yet more in duty to him; seek for the righteousness of Christ to be imputed to you, for the graces of God’s Spirit to be implanted in you; hunger and thirst after them.” (3.) They must seek meekness. This is a grace they were so eminent for that they were denominated the meek of the land, and yet this they must seek. Note, Those that are ever so good must still strive to be better, those that have ever so much grace must be still praying and labouring for more. Nay, those that excel in any particular grace must still seek to excel yet more in that, because in that most assaults will be made upon them by their enemies, in that most is expected from them by their friends, and in that they are most apt to be themselves secure. Si dixisti, Sufficit, periistiSay but, I am all that I ought to be, and you are undone. In the difficult trying times approaching, the meek will find exercise for all the meekness they have, and all little enough, and therefore should seek it earnestly, and pray that when God in his providence gives them occasion for it he would by his grace enable them to exercise it, to show all meekness to all men, in all instances, that, as the day is, so may the strength be.

IV. Encouragements given to take these directions: It may be, you shall be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger. 1. “You particularly that are the meek of the earth. Though the day of the Lord’s anger do come upon the land, yet you shall be safe, you shall be taken under special protection. Verily it shall be well with thy remnant, Jer 15:11. Thy life will I give unto thee for a prey, Jer 45:5. I will deliver thee in that day, Jer 39:17. It may be, you shall be hid; if any be hid, you shall.” Good men cannot be sure of temporal preservation, for all things come alike to all, but they are most likely to be hid, and stand fairest for a distinguishing care of Providence. It is expressed thus doubtfully to try if they will trust the goodness of God’s nature, though they have but the it may be of a promise, and to keep up in them a holy fear and watchfulness lest they should seem to come short, and should do any thing to throw themselves out of the divine protection. Note, those that hold fast their integrity, in times of common iniquity, have reason to hope that God will find out a hiding-place for them, where they shall be safe and easy, in times of common calamity. They shall be hid (as Luther says) aut in coelo, aut sub coeloeither in heaven or under heaven, either in the possession of heaven or under the protection of heaven. Or, 2. “You of this nation, though it be a nation not desired, yet, in the day of the Lord’s anger with the neighbouring nations, when his judgments are abroad, you shall be hid; your land shall be preserved for the sake of those few meek ones that stand in the gap to turn away the wrath of God.” It concerns us all to make it sure to ourselves that we shall be hid in the great day of God’s wrath; and, if we hide ourselves in the chambers of duty, God will hide us in chambers of safety, Isa 26:20. If we prepare an ark, that shall be our hiding-place, Gen 7:1.

Zephaniah 2:4-7

The prophet here comes to foretell what share the neighbouring nations should have in the destruction made upon those parts of the world by Nebuchadnezzar and his victorious Chaldees, as others of the prophets did at that time, which is designed, 1. To awaken the people of the Jews, by making them sensible how strong, how deep, how large, the inundation of calamities should be, that the day of the Lord, which was near, might appear the more dreadful, and they might thereby be quickened to prepare for it as for a general deluge. 2. To comfort them with this thought, that their case, though sad, should not be singular (Solamen miseris socios habuisse dolorisThe wretched find it consolatory to have companions of their woe), and much more with this, that though God had seemed to be their enemy, and to fight against them, yet he was still so far their friend, and an enemy to their enemies, that he resented, and would revenge, the indignities done them.

In these verses we have the doom of the Philistines, who were near neighbours, and old enemies, to the people of Israel. Five lordships there were in that country; only four are here named – Gaza and Ashkelon, Ashdod and Ekron; Gath, the fifth, is not named, some think because it was now subject to Judah. They were the inhabitants of the sea-coasts (Zep 2:5), for their country lay upon the Great Sea. The nation of the Cherethites is here joined with them, which bordered upon them (1Sa 30:14) and fell with them, as is foretold also, Eze 25:16. The Philistines’ land is here called Canaan, for it belonged to that country which God gave to his people Israel, and was inserted in the grant made to them, Jos 13:3. This land is yet to be possessed (five lords of the Philistines), so that they wrongfully kept Israel out of the possession of it (Jdg 3:3), which is now remembered against them. For, though the rights of others may be long detained unjustly, the righteous God will at length avenge the wrong.

I. It is here foretold that the Philistines, the usurpers, shall be dispossessed and quite extirpated. In general, here is a woe to them (Zep 2:5), which, coming from God, denotes all misery: The word of the Lord is against them – the word of the former prophets, which, though not yet accomplished, will be in its season, Isa 14:31. This word, now by this prophet, is against them. Note, Those are really in a woeful condition that have the word of the Lord against them, for no word of his shall fall to the ground. Those that rebel against the precepts of God’s word shall have the threatenings of the word against them. The effect will be no less than their destruction, 1. God himself will be the author of it: “I will even destroy thee, who can make good what I say and will.” 2. It shall be a universal destruction; it shall extend itself to all parts of the land, both city and country: Gaza shall be forsaken, though now a populous city. It was foretold (Jer 47:6) that baldness should come upon Gaza; Alexander the Great razed that city, and we find (Act 8:26) that Gaza was a desert. Ashkelon shall be a desolation, a pattern of desolation. Ashdod shall be driven out at noon-day; in the extremity of the scorching heat they shall have no shade, no shelter to protect them; but then, when most incommoded by the weather, they shall be forced away into captivity, which will be an aggravating circumstance of it. Ekron likewise shall be rooted up, that had been long taking root. The land of the Philistines shall be dispeopled; there shall be no inhabitant, Zep 2:5. God made the earth to be inhabited (Isa 45:18), otherwise he would have made it in vain; but, if men do not answer the end of their creation in serving God, it is just with God that the earth should not answer the end of its creation in serving them for a habitation; man’s sin has sometimes subjected it to this vanity. 3. It shall be an utter destruction. The sea-coast, which used to be a harbour for ships and a habitation for merchants, shall now be deserted, and be only cottages for shepherds and folds for flocks (Zep 2:6), and then perhaps put to better use than when it was possessed by the lords of the Philistines.

II. It is here foretold that the house of Judah, the rightful owners, shall recover the possession of it, Zep 2:7. The remnant of those that shall return out of captivity, when God visits them, shall be made to lie down in safety in the houses of Ashkelon, to lie down in the evening, when they are weary and sleepy. There they shall feed themselves and their flocks. Note, God will at length restore his people to their rights, though they may be long kept out from them.

Zephaniah 2:8-11

The Moabites and Ammonites were both of the posterity of Lot; their countries joined, and, both adjoining to Israel, they are here put together in the prophecy against them.

I. They are both charged with the same crime, and that was reproaching and reviling the people of God and triumphing in their calamities (Zep 2:8): They have reproached my people; while God’s people kept close to their duty it is probable that they reproached them for the singularities of their religion; and now that they had revolted from God, and fallen under his displeasure, they reproached them for that too. It has been the common lot of God’s people in all ages to be reproached and reviled upon one account or other. Thus the old serpent spits his venom; and pride is at the bottom of it; it is in their pride that they have magnified themselves against the people of the Lord of hosts, thinking themselves as good as they, as great, and every way as happy. It is the comtempt of the proud that God’s people are filled with, Psa 123:4. They have spoken big (so some read it, magna locuti suntthey have spoken great things) against their border (Zep 2:8), against those of them that bordered upon their country, whom upon all occasions they insulted, or against the property they claimed, which they disputed, or the protection they boasted of, which they ridiculed; they spoke big against the people of the Lord of hosts as a deserted abandoned people. Great swelling words of vanity are the genuine language of the church’s enemies. “But I have heard them” (says God), “and will let you know that I have heard them. I have heard, and I will reckon for them,” Jud 1:15. And, if God hears the reproaches and revilings we are under, it is a good reason why we should be as a deaf man that hears not, Psa 38:14, Psa 38:15. Nay, God not only takes notice of, but interests himself in the reproaches cast on his people, because they are his; and it is certain that those who look with disdain upon the people of the Lord of hosts thereby dishonour the Lord of hosts himself. See this very thing charged on Moab and Ammon, Eze 25:3, Eze 25:8.

II. They are both laid under the same doom. Associates in iniquity may expect to be such in desolation. See with what solemnity sentence is pronounced upon them, Zep 2:9. It is the Lord of hosts, the sovereign Lord of all, who has authority to pass this sentence and ability to execute it; it is the God of Israel, who is jealous for their honour; it is he that has said it, nay, he has sworn it, As I live, saith the Lord. The sentence is, 1. That the Moabites and Ammonites shall be quite destroyed; they shall be as Sodom and Gomorrah, the marks of whose ruins in the Dead Sea lay near adjoining to the countries of Moab and Ammon; they shall, though not by the same means (even fire from heaven), Yet almost in the same manner, be laid waste; not again to be inhabited, or not of a long time. The country shall produce nothing but nettles, instead of corn; and there shall be brine-pits, instead of the pleasant fountains of water with which the country had abounded. 2. That Israel shall be too hard for them, shall spoil them of their goods and possess their country by lawful war. Note, Proud men sometimes, by the just judgment of God, fall under the mortification of being trampled upon themselves by those whom once they haughtily trampled upon. And this shall they have for their pride.

III. Other nations shall in like manner be humbled, that the Lord alone may be exalted (Zep 2:11): The Lord will be terrible unto the Moabites and Ammonites in particular, who have made themselves a terror to his Israel. For, 1. Heathen gods must be abolished. They have long had possession, and their worshippers have both glorified them and gloried in them. But the Lord will famish all the gods of the earth, will starve them out of their strong-holds. The Pagans had a fond conceit that their idols were regaled by their offerings, and did eat the fat of their sacrifices, Deu 32:38. Omnia comesta à BeloBel has eaten all. But it is here promised that when the Christian religion is set up in the world men shall be turned from the service of these dumb idols, shall forsake their altars, and bring no more sacrifices to them, and thus they shall be famished, or made lean (as the word is), their priests shall. This intimates the vanity of those idols; it lies in the power of their worshippers to famish them; whereas the true God says, If I were hungry, I would not tell thee. It intimates also the victory of the God of Israel over them. Now know we that he is greater than all gods. 2. Heathen nations must be converted; when the gospel gets ground, by it men shall be brought to worship him who lives for ever (for that is the command of the everlasting gospel, Rev 14:7), every one from his place; they shall not need to go up to Jerusalem to worship the God of Israel, but wherever they are, they may have access to him. I will that men pray every where. God shall be worshipped, not only by all the tribes of Israel and the strangers who join themselves to them, but by all the isles of the heathen. This is a promise which looks favourably upon our native country, for it is one of the most considerable of the isles of the Gentiles, by which God will be glorified.

Zephaniah 2:12-15

The cup is going round, when Nebuchadnezzar is going on conquering and to conquer; and not only Israel’s near neighbours, but those that lay more remote, must be reckoned with for the wrongs they have done to God’s people; the Ethiopians and the Assyrians are here taken to task. 1. The Ethiopians, or Arabians, that had sometimes been a terror to Israel (as in Asa’s time, 2Ch 14:9), must now be reckoned with: They shall be slain by my sword, Zep 2:12. Nebuchadnezzar was God’s sword, the instrument in his hand with which these and other enemies were subdued and punished, Psa 17:14. 2. The Assyrians, and Nineveh the head city of their monarchy, are next set to the bar, to receive their doom: He that is God’s sword will stretch out his hand against the north, and destroy Assyria, and make himself master of it. Assyria had been the rod of God’s anger against Israel, and now Babylon is the rod of God’s anger against Assyria, Isa 10:5. He will make Nineveh a desolation, as was lately and largely foretold by the prophet Nahum. Observe, (1.) How flourishing Nineveh’s state had formerly been (Zep 2:15): This is the rejoicing city that dwelt carelessly. Nineveh was so strong that she feared no evil, and therefore dwelt carelessly and set danger at defiance; she was so rich that she thought herself sure of all good, and therefore was a rejoicing city, full of mirth and gaiety; and she had such a dominion that she admitted no rival, but said in her heart, “I am, and there is none besides me that can compare with me, no city in the world that can pretend to be equal with me.” God can with his judgments frighten the most secure, humble the most haughty, and mar the mirth of those that most laugh now. (2.) How complete Nineveh’s ruin shall now be; it shall be made a desolation, Zep 2:13. Such a heap of ruins shall this once pompous city be that it shall be, [1.] A receptacle for beasts, such a wilderness that flocks shall lie down in it; nay, such a waste, desolate, frightful place, that wild beasts, shall take up their abode there; the melancholy birds, as the cormorant and bittern, shall make their nests in what remains of the houses, as they sometimes do in old ruinous buildings that are uninhabited and unfrequented. The lintels, or chapiters of the pillars, the windows and thresholds, and all the fine cedar-work curiously engraven, shall lie exposed; and on them these rueful ominous birds shall perch, and their voice shall sing. How are the songs of mirth turned into hideous horrid noises! What little reason have men to be proud of stately buildings, and rich furniture, when they know not what all the pomp of them may come to at last! [2.] A derision to travellers. Those that had come from far, to gratify their curiosity with the sight of Nineveh’s splendour, shall now look on her with as much contempt as ever they looked upon her with admiration (Zep 2:15): Every one that passes by shall hiss at her, and wag his hand, making light of her desolations, nay, and making sport with them – “There is an end of proud Nineveh.” They shall not weep, and wring their hands (the adversities of those are unpitied and unlamented who were insolent and haughty in their prosperity), but they shall hiss and wag their hands, forgetting that perhaps their own ruin is not far off.

Zephaniah 3

We now return to Jerusalem, and must again hear what God has to say to her, I. By way of reproof and threatening, for the abundance of wickedness that was found in her, of which divers instances are given, with the aggravations of them (Zep 3:1-7). II. By way of promise of mercy and grace, which God had yet in reserve for them. Two general heads of promises here are: – 1. That God would bring in a glorious work of reformation among them, cleanse them from their sins, and bring them home to himself; many promises of this kind here are (Zep 3:8-13). 2. That he would bring about a glorious work of salvation for them, when he had thus prepared them for it (Zep 3:14-20). Thus the “Redeemer shall come to Zion,” and to clear his own way, shall “turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” These promises were to have their full accomplishment in gospel-times and gospel-graces.

Zephaniah 3:1-7

One would wonder that Jerusalem, the holy city, where God was known, and his name was great, should be the city of which this black character is here given, that a place which enjoyed such abundance of the means of grace should become so very corrupt and vicious, and that God should permit it to be so; yet so it is, to show that the law made nothing perfect; but if this be the true character of Jerusalem, as no doubt it is (for God’s judgments will make none worse than they are), it is no wonder that the prophet begins with woe to her. For the holy God hates sin in those that are nearest to him, nay, in them he hates it most. A sinful state is, and will be, a woeful state.

I. Here is a very bad character given of the city in general. How has the faithful city become a harlot! 1. She shames herself; she is filthy and polluted (Zep 3:1), has made herself infamous (so some read it), the gluttonous city (so the margin), always cramming, and making provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts of it. Sin is the filthiness and pollution of persons and places, and makes them odious in the sight of the holy God. 2. She wrongs her neighbours and inhabitants; she is the oppressing city. Never any place had statutes and judgments so righteous as this city had, and yet, in the administration of the government, never was more unrighteousness. 3. She is very provoking to her God, and in every respect walks contrary to him, Zep 3:2. He had given his law, and spoken to her by his servants the prophets, telling her what was the good she should do and what the evil she should avoid; but she obeyed not his voice, nor made conscience of doing as he commanded her, in any thing. He had taken her under an excellent discipline, both of the word and of the rod; but she did not receive the instruction of the one nor the correction of the other, did not submit to God’s will nor answer his end in either. He encouraged her to depend upon him, and his power and promise, for deliverance from evil and supply with good; but she trusted not in the Lord; her confidence was placed in her alliances with the nations more than in her covenant with God. He gave her tokens of his presence, and instituted ordinances of communion for her with himself; but she drew not near to her God, did not meet him where he appointed and where he promised to meet her. She stood at a distance, and said to the Almighty, Depart.

II. Here is a very bad character of the leading men in it; those that should by their influence suppress vice and profaneness there are the great patterns and patrons of wickedness, and those that should be her physicians are really her worst disease. 1. Her princes are ravenous and barbarous as roaring lions that make a prey of all about them, and they are universally feared and hated; they use their power for destruction, and not for edification. 2. Her judges, who should be the protectors of injured innocence, are evening wolves, rapacious and greedy, and their cruelty and covetousness both insatiable: They gnaw not the bones till the morrow; they take so much delight and pleasure in cruelty and oppression that when they have devoured a good man they reserve the bones, as it were, for a sweet morsel, to be gnawed the next morning, Job 31:31. 3. Her prophets, who pretend to be special messengers from heaven to them, are light and treacherous persons, fanciful, and of a vain imagination, frothy and airy, and of a loose conversation, men of no consistency with themselves, in whom one can put no confidence. They were so given to bantering that it was hard to say when they were serious. Their pretended prophecies were all a sham, and they secretly laughed at those that were deluded by them. 4. Her priests, who are teachers by office and have the charge of the holy things, are false to their trust and betray it. They were to preserve the purity of the sanctuary, but they did themselves pollute it, and the sacred offices of it, which they were to attend upon – such priests as Hophni and Phinehas, who by their wicked lives made the sacrifices of the Lord to be abhorred. They were to expound and apply the law, and to judge according to it; but, in their explications and applications of it, they did violence to the law; they corrupted the sense of it, and perverted it to the patronising of that which was directly contrary to it. By forced constructions, they made the law to speak what they pleased, to serve a turn, and so, in effect, made void the law.

III. We have here the aggravations of this general corruption of all orders and degrees of men in Jerusalem.

1. They had the tokens of God’s presence among them, and all the advantages that could be of knowing his will, with the strongest inducements possible to do it, and yet they persisted in their disobedience, Zep 3:5. (1.) They had the honour and privilege of the Shechinah, God’s dwelling in their land, so as he dwelt not with any other people: “The just Lord is in the midst of thee, to take cognizance of all thou doest amiss and give countenance to all thou doest well; he is in the midst of thee as a holy God, and therefore thy pollutions are the more offensive, Deu 23:14. He is in the midst of you as a just God, and therefore will punish the affronts you put upon him, and the wrongs and injuries you do to one another.” (2.) They had God’s own example set before them, in the discovery he made of himself to them, that they might conform to it: “He will not do iniquity, and therefore you should not;” for this was the great rule of their institution, “Be you holy, for I am holy. God will be true to you; be not you then false to him.” (3.) He sent to them his prophets, rising up early and sending them: Every morning he brings his judgment to light, as duly as the morning comes; he fails not. He shows them plainly what the good is which he requires of them, and puts them in mind of it; he wakens morning by morning (Isa 50:4), wakens his prophets with the rising sun, to bring to light the things which belong to their peace. So that, upon the whole matter, what more could have been done to his vineyard, to make it fruitful? Isa 5:4. And yet, after all, the unjust know no shame; those that have been unjust are unjust still, and are not ashamed of their unrighteousness, neither can they blush. If they had any sense of honour, any shame left in them, they would not go so directly contrary to their profession and to the instructions given them. But those that are past shame are past cure.

2. God had set before their eyes some remarkable monuments of his justice, which were designed for warning to them (Zep 3:6): I have cut off the nations, the seven nations of Canaan, which the land spewed out for their wickedness, upon which they had this caution given them, to take heed lest it spew them out also, Lev 18:28. Or it may refer to some of the neighbouring nations that were made desolate for their wickedness, especially to the nations of Israel, the ten tribes. Their towers were desolate, their high towers, their strong towers, their pride and power broken; their streets were wasted, so that none passed along through them; their cities were destroyed and laid in ruins; no man was to be found in them, no inhabitant, all were slain or carried into captivity. The enemies did it, but God avows it: I cut them off, says he. And God designed this for an admonition to Jerusalem (Eze 23:9, Eze 23:11): “I said, Surely thou wilt fear me; surely these judgments upon others will deter thee from the like wicked practices; surely thou wilt receive instruction by these providences; it ought to be expected that thou wouldst not continue to sin like the nations when thou seest the ruin which their sin brought upon them.” They could not but see their own house in danger when their neighbour’s was on fire; and, when we are frightened, God should be feared.

3. He had set before them life and death, good and evil, both in his word and in his providence. (1.) He had assured them of the continuance of their prosperity if they would fear him and receive instruction, for so their dwelling would not be cut off as their neighbour’s was; if they took the warning given them, and reformed, what was past should be pardoned, and their tranquility lengthened out. (2.) He had made them feel the smart of the rod, though he reprieved them from the sword: Howsoever I punished them, that, being chastened, they might not be condemned. Such various methods did God take with them, to reclaim them, but all in vain; they were not won upon by gentle methods, nor had severe ones any effect, for they rose early, and corrupted all their doings; they were more resolute and eager in their wicked courses than ever, more studious and solicitous in making provision for their lusts, and let slip no opportunity for the gratification of them. God rose up early, to send them his prophets, to reduce and reclaim them, but they were up before him, to shut and bolt the door against them. Their wickedness was universal: All their doings were corrupted; and it was all owing to themselves; they could not lay the blame upon the tempter, but they alone must bear it; they themselves willfully and designedly corrupted all their doings; for every man is tempted when he is drawn aside of his own lust and enticed.

Zephaniah 3:8-13

Things looked very bad with Jerusalem in the foregoing verses; she has got into a very bad name, and seems to be incorrigible, incurable, mercy-proof and judgment-proof. Now one would think it should follow, Therefore expect no other but that she should be utterly abandoned and rejected as reprobate silver; since they will not be wrought upon by prophets or providences, let them be made a desolation as their neighbours have been. But behold and wonder at the riches of divine grace, which takes occasion from man’s badness to appear so much the more illustrious. They still grew worse and worse, therefore wait you upon me, saith the Lord, Zep 3:8. “Since the law, it seems, will make nothing perfect, the bringing in of a better hope shall. Let those that lament the corruptions of the church wait upon God, till he send his Son into the world, to save his people from their sins, till he send his gospel to reform and refine his church, and to purify to himself a peculiar people both of Jews and Gentiles.” And there were those who, according to this direction and encouragement, waited for redemption, for this redemption in Jerusalem; and long-looked-for came at last, Luk 2:38. For judgment Christ will come into this world, Joh 9:39.

I. To avenge what has been done amiss against his church, to bring down and destroy the enemies of it, its spiritual enemies, of which the destruction of Babylon, and other oppressors of God’s people, in the Old Testament times, was a type, and would be a happy presage. He will rise up to the prey, to lead captivity captive (Psa 68:18), to conquer and spoil the powers of darkness, and the powers on earth that set themselves against the Lord and his anointed; he will break them with a rod of iron (Psa 2:5, Psa 2:9; Psa 11:5, Psa 11:6); his determination is to gather the nations and to assemble the kingdoms. By the gospel of Christ preached to every creature all nations are summoned, as it were, to appear in a body before the Lord Jesus, who is about to set up his kingdom in the world. But, since the greatest part of mankind will not obey the summons, he will pour upon them his indignation, for he that believes not is condemned already. At the time of the setting up of the kingdom of the Messiah, there shall be on earth distress of nations with perplexity (Luk 21:25), great tribulation, such as never was, nor ever shall be, Mat 24:21. Then God pours upon the nations his indignation, even all his fierce anger, for their indignation and fierce anger against the Messiah and his kingdom, Psa 2:1, Psa 2:2. Then all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of his jealousy; both Jews and Gentiles shall be reckoned with for their enmity to the gospel. Principalities and powers shall be spoiled, and made a show of openly, and the victorious Redeemer shall triumph over them. The end of those that continue to be of the earth, and to mind earthly things, after God has set up the kingdom of heaven among men, shall be destruction (Php 3:19); they shall be devoured with the fire of God’s jealousy.

II. To amend what he finds amiss in his church. When God intends the restoration of Israel, and the revival of their peace and prosperity, he makes way for the accomplishment of his purpose by their reformation and the revival of their virtue and piety; for this is God’s method, both with particular persons and with communities, first to make them holy and then to make them happy. These promises were in part accomplished after the return of the Jews out of Babylon, when by their captivity they were thoroughly cured of their idolatry; and this was all the fruit, even the taking away of sin. But they look further, to the blessed effects of the gospel and the grace of it, to those times of reformation in which we live, Heb 9:10.

1. It is promised that there shall be a reformation in men’s discourse, which had been generally corrupt, but should now be with grace seasoned with salt (Zep 3:9): “Then will I turn to the people a pure language; I will turn the people to such a language from that evil communication which has almost ruined all good manners among them.” Note, Converting grace refines the language, not by making the phrases witty, but the substance wise. Among the Jews, after the captivity, there needed a reformation of the dialect, for they had mingled the language of Canaan with that of Ashdod (Neh 13:24), and that grievance shall be redressed. But that is not all: their language shall be purified from all profaneness, filthiness, and falsehood. I will turn them to a choice language (so some read it); they shall not speak rashly, but with caution and deliberation; they shall choose out their words. Note, An air of purity and piety in common conversation is a very happy omen to any people; other graces, other blessings, shall be given where God gives a pure language to those who have been a people of unclean lips.

2. That the worship of God, according to his will, shall be more closely applied to, and more unanimously concurred in. Instead of sacrifice and incense, they shall call upon the name of the Lord. Prayer is the spiritual offering with which God must be honoured; and, to prepare and fit us for that duty, it is necessary that we have a pure language. We are utterly unfit to take God’s name into our lips, unless they be pure lips. The purifying of the language in common conversation is necessary to the acceptableness of the words of our mouth and the meditation of our heart on our devotion; for how can sweet waters and bitter come out of the same fountain? Jas 3:9-12. It is likewise promised that their language being thus purified they shall serve God with one consent, with one shoulder (so the word is), alluding to oxen in the yoke, that draw even. When Christians are unanimous in the service of God the work goes on cheerfully. This is the effect of the pure language, purified from passion, envy, and censoriousness. Note, Purity is the way to unity; the reformation of manners is the way to a comprehension. The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable.

3. That those that were driven from God shall return to him and be accepted of him (Zep 3:10): From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia, that is, from Egypt (so described, Isa 18:1) or from some other very remote country – my suppliants, even the daughter of my dispersed, shall bring my offering. Those that by reason of their distance had almost forgotten God, their obligations to him, shall be put in mind of him, as the prodigal son was of his father’s house, in the far country. Those that by reason of their dispersion, under the tokens of his displeasure, might be afraid of coming to him, yet even they shall be gathered under his wings; the daughter of his dispersed, that is afar off, will be found among those whom the Lord our God shall call; and, though they are dispersed, he will own them for his; his calling them my dispersed puts honour upon them, sufficient to counterbalance all the disgrace of their dispersion. These shall come, (1.) With their humble petitions: They are my suppliants. Note, True converts are suppliants to God; they do not plead, but make supplication to their Judge (Job 9:15); and wherever they are, though beyond the rivers of Ethiopia, a great way off from his house of prayer, he has his eye upon them and his ear open to them; they are his suppliants. (2.) With their spiritual sacrifices: They shall bring my offering, shall bring themselves as spiritual sacrifices to God (Rom 12:1); the conversion of the Gentiles is called the offering up of the Gentiles (Rom 15:16); and with themselves they shall bring the gospel-sacrifices of prayer, and praise, and alms, with which God is well pleased.

4. That sin and sinners shall be purged out from among them, Zep 3:11. God will take away, (1.) Their just reproach: In that day shalt thou not be ashamed for all thy doings. They shall be ashamed as penitents, and shall continue to be so (see Eze 16:63), but they shall not be ashamed as sinners that return to folly again. “Thou shalt not be ashamed, that is, thou shalt no more do a shameful thing, as thou hast done.” The guilt of sin being taken away by pardoning mercy, the reproach of it shall be rolled away from the sinner’s own conscience, that being purified, and pacified, and cleansed from dead works. When wickedness and wicked people abound in a nation those few in it that are good are ashamed of them and of their land; but when sinners are converted, and the land reformed, that shame and the cause of it are removed. (2.) Their unjust glorying: “I will take away out of the midst of thee, not only the profane, who are a shame to thy land, but the hypocrites, who appear beautiful outwardly, and rejoice in thy pride, in the holy city, the holy house.” These were indeed Israel’s glory, but they made them their pride, and rejoiced in them, as if they were an invincible bulwark to secure them in their sinful ways; they relied on them as their righteousness and strength, boasting of the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord (Jer 7:4); they were haughty because of the holy mountain, were conceited of themselves, scornful of others, and set even the judgments of God at defiance. Note, Church-privileges, when they are not duly improved as they ought to be, are often made the matter of men’s pride and the ground of their security. But that haughtiness is the most offensive to God which is supported and fed by the pretensions of holiness. This God will silence and take away.

5. That God will have a remnant of holy, humble, serious people among them, that shall have the comfort of their relation to him and interest in him (Zep 3:12): I will leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people. When the Chaldeans carried away the Jews into captivity they left of the poor of the land for vine-dressers and husbandmen, a type and figure of God’s distinguished remnant, whom he sets apart for himself. They are afflicted and poor,

low in the world; such God has chosen, Jas 2:5. The poor are evangelized, low in their own eyes, afflicted for sin, poor in spirit. They are God’s leaving, for it is a remnant according to the election of grace. I have reserved them to myself, says God (Rom 11:4, Rom 11:5), and they shall trust in the name of the Lord. Note, Those whom God designs for the glory of his name he enables to trust in his name; and the greater their affliction and poverty in the world are the more reason they see to trust in God, having nothing else to trust to, 1Ti 5:5.

6. That this select remnant shall be blessed with purity and peace, Zep 3:13. (1.) They shall be blessed with purity, both in words and actions: They shall neither do iniquity nor speak lies. Justice and veracity shall command them and govern them, though they be ever so much against their secular interest. They shall not only not speak a direct deliberate lie, but there shall not be a deceitful tongue found in their mouth, not in the mouth of any of them; not the least equivocation shall come from them. (2.) They shall be blessed with peace. They shall, as the sheep of God’s pasture, feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid. They shall not be fearful themselves, nor shall any about them be frightful to them. Note, Those that are careful not to do iniquity need not be afraid of any calamity, for it cannot hurt them, and therefore should not terrify them.

Zephaniah 3:14-20

After the promises of the taking away of sin, here follow promises of the taking away of trouble; for when the cause is removed the effect will cease. What makes a people holy will make them happy of course. The precious promises here made to the purified people were to have their full accomplishment in the comforts of the gospel, in the hope, and much more in the enjoyment, of which, they are here called upon, 1. To rejoice and sing (Zep 3:14): Sing, O daughter of Zion! sing for joy; Shout, O Israel! in a holy transport and exultation; be glad and rejoice with all the heart; let the joy be inward, let it be great. Those that love God with all their heart have occasion with all their heart to rejoice in him. It was promised (Zep 3:13) that their sins should be mortified and their fears silenced, and then follows, Sing and rejoice. Note, Those that reform have cause to rejoice, whereas Israel cannot rejoice for joy as other people, while she goes a whoring from her God. God’s promises, applied by faith, furnish the saints with constant and abundant matter for joy; they are filled with joy and peace in believing them. 2. To throw off all their discouragements (Zep 3:16): In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem (God will say it by his prophets, by his providences, their neighbours shall say it, they shall say it to one another), “Fear thou not, be not disposed to fear, do not easily admit the impressions of it; when things are bad, fear not their being worse, but hope they will mend; frighten not thyself upon every occasion. Let not thy hands be slack or faint; wring not thy hands in despair; drop not thy hands in despondence; disfit not thyself for thy work and warfare by giving way to doubts and fears. Pluck up thy spirits, and, in token of that, lift up thy hands, the hands that hung down, Heb 12:12; Isa 35:3. Lift up thy hands in prayer to God; lift up thy hands to help thyself.” Fear makes the hands slack, but faith and hope make them vigorous, and the joy of the Lord will be our strength both for doing and suffering.

Let us now see what these precious promises are which are here made to the people of God, for the banishing of their griefs and fears and the encouraging of their hopes and joys; and to us are these promises made as well as to them.

I. An end shall be put to all their troubles and distresses (Zep 3:15): “The Lord has taken away thy judgments, has removed all the calamities thou hast been groaning under, which were the punishments of thy sin; the noise of war shall be silenced, the reproach of famine done away, and the captivity brought back. Though some grievances remain, they shall be only afflictions, and not judgments, for sin shall be pardoned. He has cast out thy enemy, that has thrust himself into thy land, and triumphed over thee. He has swept out thy enemy” (so some read it), “as dirt is swept out of the house to the dunghill.” When they sweep out their sins with the besom of reformation God will sweep out their enemies with the besom of destruction. If they should need correction, they shall fall into the hands of the Lord, whose mercies are great, and shall not again fall into the hands of man, whose tender mercies are cruel: “Thou shalt not see evil any more, not such evil days as thou hast seen.” Note, The way to get clear of the evil of trouble is to keep clear from the evil of sin; and to those that do so trouble has no real evil in it.

II. God will give them the tokens of his presence with them; though he has long seemed to stand at a distance (they having provoked him to withdraw), he will make it to appear that he is with them of a truth: The Lord is in the midst of thee, O Zion! of thee, O Jerusalem! as the sun in the centre of the universe, to diffuse his light and influence upon every part. He is in the midst of thee, to preside in all thy affairs and to take care of all thy interests.” And, 1. “He is the King of Israel (Zep 3:15) and is in the midst of thee as a king in the midst of his people.” With an eye to this, our Lord Jesus is called the King of Israel (Joh 1:49); and he is, and will be, in the midst of his church always, even to the end of the world, to receive the homage of his subjects, and to give out his favours to them, even where but two or three are gathered together in his name. 2. “He is the Lord thy God, thine in covenant, and he is in the midst of thee as thy God, whom thou hast an interest in and whose own thou art. He has put himself into dear relations to thee, laid himself by promise under obligations to thee, and, that thou mayest have abundant comfort in both, he is in the midst of thee, nigh at hand to answer both.” 3. “He that is in the midst of thee as thy God and King is mighty, is almighty, is able to do all that for thee that thou needest and canst desire.” 4. “He has engaged his power for thy succour: He will save. He will be Jesus, will answer the name, for he will save his people from their sins.”

III. God will take delight in them, and in doing them good. The expressions of this are very lively and affecting (Zep 3:17): He will rejoice over thee with joy, will not only be well pleased with thee, upon thy repentance and reformation, and take thee into favour, but will take a complacency in thee, as the bridegroom does in his bride, or the bride in her ornaments, Isa 62:3-5. The conversion of sinners and the consolation of saints are the joy of angels, for they are the joy of God him-self. The church should be the joy of the whole earth (Psa 48:2), for it is the joy of the whole heaven. He will rest in his love, will be silent in his love, so the word is. “I will not rebuke thee as I have done, for thy sins; I will acquiesce in thee, and in my relation to thee.” I know not where there is the like expression of Christ’s love to his church, unless in that song of songs, Son 4:9, Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse, with one of thy eyes. O the condescensions of divine grace! The great God not only loves his saints, but he loves to love them, is pleased that he has pitched upon these objects of his love. He will joy over them with singing. He that is grieved for the sin of sinners rejoices in the graces and services of the saints, and is ready to express that joy by singing over them. The Lord takes pleasure in those that fear him, and in them Jesus Christ will shortly be glorified and admired.

IV. God will comfort Zion’s mourners, who sympathize with her in her griefs, and will wipe away their tears (Zep 3:18): I will gather those who are sorrowful for the solemn assemblies, to whom the reproach of it was a burden. See, 1. Who those are whom God will rejoice in and make to rejoice. They are such as are sorrowful. Those only must expect to reap in joy that sow in tears. The sorrowful now shall be for ever joyful. 2. What is the great matter of sorrow to Zion’s mourners, when Zion is in mourning. Many are her calamities. The city is ruined, and the palaces are demolished; trade is at an end, and the administration of public justice; but all these are nothing to them in comparison with the desolations of the sanctuary, the destruction of the temple and the altar, to attend on which, in solemn feasts, all Israel used to come together three times a year. It is for those sacred solemn assemblies that they are sorrowful, (1.) Because they are dispersed; there is no temple to come up to, or, if there were, no people to come up to it; so that the solemn feasts and sabbaths are forgotten in Zion, Lam 2:6. Note, The restraining of public assemblies for religious worship, the scattering of them by their enemies, or the forsaking of them by their friends, so that either there are no assemblies or not solemn ones, is a very sorrowful thing to all good people. If the ways of Zion mourn, the sons of Zion mourn too. And hereby they make it to appear that they are indeed of Zion, living members of that body with the grievances of which they are so sensibly affected. (2.) Because they are despised; the reproach of the solemn assemblies is a burden to them. It had been the lot of the solemn assemblies to lie under a great deal of reproach. Satan and his instruments having a particular spite at them, as the great support of the interest of God’s kingdom among men. Black and odious characters have been put upon those assemblies; and this is a burden to all those that have a cordial concern for the glory of God and the welfare of the souls of men. They reckon that the reproaches of those who reproach the solemn assemblies fall upon them, fall foul upon them.

V. God will recover the captives out of the hands of their oppressors, and bring home the banished that seemed to be expelled, Zep 3:19, Zep 3:20. 1. Their enemies shall be disabled to detain them in bondage: “At that time I will undo all that afflict thee, will break their power, and blast their counsels, so that they shall be forced to surrender the prey they have taken.” ConficiamI will take them to task; “I will be doing with them shortly, and so as to make an end of them.” Note, Those that abuse and oppress God’s people take the ready way to undo themselves. 2. They shall be enabled to assert and recover their liberty, and all the difficulties in the way of it shall be surmounted. Is the church weak and wounded? I will save her that halts, as was promised, Mic 4:7. He will help her when she cannot help herself; even the lame shall take the prey, Isa 33:23. Is she dispersed, and not likely to incorporate for her common benefit? I will gather her that was driven out, and bring her again at the time that I gather her. One act of mercy and grace shall serve both to collect them out of their dispersions and to conduct them to their own land. When the people’s hearts are prepared, the work will be done suddenly; and who can hinder it if God undertake to effect it? “I will turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the Lord; you shall plainly discern the hand of God in it, and say, This is the Lord’s doing.

VI. God will by all this put honour upon them and gain them respect from all about them. Israel was at first made high above all nations in praise and fame, Deu 26:19. The reproach brought upon them was therefore one of the sorest of their grievances (nothing cuts deeper to those that are in honour than disgrace does); and therefore when God returns, in mercy, to his church, it is here promised that she shall regain her credit; all the reproach shall be for ever rolled way, as Israel’s at Gilgal, Jos 5:9. The church shall be as honourable as ever she had been despicable. 1. Even those that reproached her shall be made to respect her: “I will get them praise and fame in every land, where they have been put to shame, that the same who were the witnesses of their disgrace may see cause to change their mind concerning them.” Those that said, “This is Zion whom no man looks after,” shall say, “This is Zion whom the great God looks after.” And she that was looked upon to be the offscouring of the earth now appears to be the darling of heaven. 2. Even those that never knew her shall be brought to honour her (Zep 3:20): I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth. So the Jewish church was when the fear of the Jews fell upon their neighbours (Est 8:17), and some of all nations said, we will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you, Zec 8:23. So the Christian church was when it was made to flourish in the world, for there is that in it which may justly recommend it to the value and esteem of all the people of the earth. And so the universal church of the firstborn will be in the great day, when the saints shall be brought together to Christ, that he may be admired and glorified in them, and they admired and glorified in him before angels and men. Then will God’s Israel be made a name and a praise to eternity.

Horatius Bonar (1808–1889): Nimrod

Nimrod

by

Horatius Bonar (1808–1889)

Copyright Public Domain

 

“And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD.” (Genesis 10:8-9).

There is surely more meaning in this brief reference to Nimrod than is usually attached to it. These parentheses of Scripture are always intimations of something to be specially noted, something important, something without which there would be a break or a blank in some part of the sacred story, – something without which a link would be awanting somewhere in that wondrous chain of history which begins with Genesis and ends with Revelation. Somewhere, we say, not necessarily at the precise point where the parenthesis stands, but perhaps ages, centuries after.

He Who sees the end from the beginning, and from Whom the Bible comes to us as a perfect whole, not merely as a bundle of fragments, throwing in a word at the beginning to serve as a link at the end, four or five thousand years afterwards, inserting a verse in Genesis for the purpose of casting light upon a chapter in the Revelation. And we confess that we love to look at this aspect of the subject as bringing out to us more of God, and making His Word less like man and more like Himself.

Later historians introduce into their works illustrations of earlier annals, for they can only look backward. But God, Whose one pen writes the history of six thousand years, in the beginning of His wondrous narrative casts in a sentence whose use or meaning may not be perceptible till towards the close.

We do not apply these remarks so much to Nimrod’s history, here so briefly given, as to the whole of this chapter, with its names of men and places, all set in such special array before us by the Spirit of God. These names here preserved, but totally forgotten and unknown elsewhere, are now coming up out of their graves on the plains of Assyria.

The inscriptions at Nineveh, and the attention given to the old local traditions and broken names, are now verifying these inspired enumerations, making even the infidel stand in awe at the accuracy, the strange accuracy, with which the Bible speaks even when naming a name, and silencing his crude objections when he has been telling us that it was literally impossible that cities, so many and so mighty, could have sprung up, like tropic palm-trees, in one single district and in one single age.

But let us look at Nimrod, and, brief as the record is, we shall find something in it for instruction in righteousness.

1. His Name

His name is Nimrod, This name occurs only four times in Scripture; twice in the passage before us; once in 1 Chronicles 1:10; and once in Micah 5:6, where we read of the land of Nimrod, or Babylon.

It means ‘the rebel,’ and is evidently meant to designate the nature of the man. Like all the early names, it has a meaning, a meaning in striking conformity with the individual’s bold, lawless history. How or when he was given his name we know not, but it is evidently given us as affording a key to his history and character. As Nimrod, ‘the rebel,’ he stands before us as synonymous with the Church’s great adversary, the king that does ‘according to his will’ (Daniel 11:36), ‘that Wicked (the lawless one)’ (2 Thessalonians 2:8), the Antichrist, whose names are all expressive of disobedience, imposture, wilfulness, and apostasy.

Each age has had its Nimrod, its rebel chief, and the world’s last age is to have the truest Nimrod, the worst and most daring rebel that the earth has ever seen, the man of sin, the son of perdition.

2. His Rise

The expression, ‘he began to be a mighty one,’ used not here only, but again in 1 Chronicles 1:10, seems to imply something respecting his origin, or at least uprise. It was a new thing in the earth. He was the first specimen of giant tyranny after the flood, He was not raised up to power, nor did he come by inheritance into it, but shot up above all his contemporaries, rising out of the midst of them and yet overtopping them all.

Just so is Antichrist described as the man that ‘exalteth himself;’ and the little horn is shewn as coming up ‘among’ the other horns (Daniel 7:8); and it is said, ‘out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great’ (Daniel 8:9). The rise of Antichrist is truly like his predecessor and prototype. He shoots up above his fellows, like some new and strange thing, so that all the world wonders after him.

3. His Greatness

Three times over in these two verses, and once in the book of Chronicles, he is said to be ‘mighty,’ implying that there was something of pre-eminent might and elevation about him, not merely in his own eyes, but in the eyes of all who looked upon him.

The word occurs about one hundred and sixty times in the Old Testament, and always in the sense of peculiar greatness, especially warlike greatness, so that the expression ‘mighty warrior’ would express the force of it as well as any single word. In Genesis 6:4. we read, ‘the same became mighty men.’ In 1 Samuel 17:51, Goliath is called the champion, or literally the mighty one of the Philistines. Frequently, in the historical books, we read of ‘mighty men of valour.’ In Daniel 11:3, we read, ‘a mighty king shall stand up.’

Nay, it is the word applied to Messiah in Psalm 45:3, ‘Gird Thy sword upon Thy thigh, O Most Mighty,’ and Psalm 89:19, ‘I have laid help upon One that is Mighty.’ Isaiah 9:6, ‘His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God;’ and it is the epithet applied more than once to God Himself (Jeremiah 32:18), ‘The Great, the Mighty God, the LORD of hosts, is His Name.’

Some of the old translations render the word ‘giant,’ identifying Nimrod with the old race of giants of whom we read not infrequently in Scripture, and still oftener in fable. But mighty as Nimrod was, raised up in his greatness above the mighty of his generation, there is a mightier than he among the sons of men, of whom he is but the type.

The man of sin is the man of might. He rises up ‘great in power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree’ (Psalm 37:35). His coming is said to be ‘with all power’ (2 Thessalonians 2:9), and to be after or by means of the ‘working (energy) of Satan,’ or, as it is elsewhere, ‘the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority’ (Revelation 13:2); and again it is added, more than once, ‘power was given unto him,’ nay, ‘power and strength’ are given to him (17:13). He is set before us as the great rebel, the Nimrod, the mighty one of the last days, the man that ‘exalteth himself’ and seizes the dominion of the whole earth, compelling all its inhabitants to fall down before him.

4. The Extent of His Greatness

The words ‘in the earth’ mean more than merely upon this earth. Taken in that sense, they are unmeaning. They point to the extent of his dominion. He not only rose high, but he stretched his branches wide on all sides. He added city to city. tribe to tribe, that he might sit alone in the midst of the earth (Isaiah 5:8).

Ambitious of power, he enlarged his kingdom, circle after circle, himself the Mighty One in the midst of the far-ranging territory and towering cities. Hear the list of the cities that owned him for their founder: Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar; nay, not content with these, ‘he goes forth (verse 11, margin) to Assyria, and builds Nineveh, and Rehoboth, and Calah; and Resen between Nineveh and Calah; the same is a great city’ (verse 12).

Romulus builds Rome, and is famed throughout the world as the founder of a mighty city. But here is a man who, in a less favourable, less populous age, builds eight cities, cities such as Babylon and Nineveh, cities, of the most unknown of which (Resen) it is said, ‘the same is a great city.’ He surely was no common chieftain or warrior that achieved such marvels.

As the ambitious man of might, we see him widening his dominions on every side; but it is as the able and far-seeing statesman that we find him rearing eight vast cities, for the consolidation and perpetuation of his empire. Thus, in after ages, do ye read of the Assyrian, at once the successor of Nimrod and precursor of Antichrist.

‘Behold’ says Ezekiel, ‘the Assyrian was a cedar in Lebanon with fair branches, and with a shadowing shroud, and of an high stature… The waters made him great, the deep set him up on high with her rivers… His height was exalted above all the trees of the field, and his boughs were multiplied, and his branches became long,… All the fowls of heaven made their nests in his boughs, and under his branches did all the beasts of the field bring forth their young, and under his shadow dwelt all great nations’ (Ezekiel 31:6).

And Isaiah describes him as boasting, ‘Are not my princes altogether kings?’ and, enumerating the kingdoms that have fallen under his yoke, ‘Is not Calno as Carchemish? Is not Hamath as Arpad? Is not Samaria as Damascus?’ (10:8-9).

And in Nebuchadnezzar, another of Nimrod’s successors and Antichrist’s precursors, we have another instance of the same wide-stretching ambition. Daniel thus addresses him:

‘Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath He given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all’ (Daniel 2:37-38).

And the true Antichrist of the last days fills up the type, and presents us with the specimen of the true Nimrod reigning over the kings and cities of the earth, claiming not only their submission, but their worship.

5. His Restless Ambition

He was ‘a mighty hunter.’ That he was so literally there seems no reason for doubting. In his hunting, his superior strength and skill first had play. As the great hunter he would be known far and wide; and as such he would be honoured in an age when not only physical accomplishments were held in esteem, but when the too rapid multiplication of the beasts of the field and forest rendered such qualifications as his very needful. In hunting, two things are essential, strength and skill.

And these two characteristics first getting scope in a lower field, soon ripened themselves and found vent in a higher sphere. Leadership in the perils of the chase, soon led to generalship in the dangers of the battle-field. The mighty hunter of the forest is soon the mighty soldier in the plain. The subduer of the savage beast is soon the conqueror of his fellow-men. Such is the restless ambition of Antichrist, such the mixture of strength and craft that marks him, the strength of royalty, the craft of priesthood; for he unites both in his world-wide hunting.

The whole line of Antichristian pretenders, from Nimrod downwards, have conjoined these two things; and in the last Antichrist we see them more fully conjoined than ever. While he subdues the nations of the earth, he commands that they worship him and receive the mark of his name, He is the great huntsman of souls; his name is ‘the spoiler,’ ‘the destroyer,’ and his employment is to wear out the saints of the Most High, and shed their blood upon the earth; a true Nimrod in his rebellion, in his apostasy, in his lust of sway and spoil.

6. His Defiance of Jehovah

He was a mighty hunter before the Lord, It was in the sight and presence of Jehovah that he acted thus, as one who was ready to brave the divine displeasure. The presence of Jehovah (whether the expression denote something visible or not) restrained him not.

He did not, like Cain, go out from the presence of the Lord, but perpetrated all his wickedness and indulged all His ambition under the very eye of Jehovah. Possibly there may be more than this, as some have supposed, in the expression. It may be that he claimed to be worshipped as divine, or at least set himself up as priest as well as king. Universal monarchy and universal priesthood, these were the two great ideas of His ambition. His assumptions were religious as well as political, and these assumptions (as in all ages such have been) had reference to the woman’s seed.

From ancient tradition and history, we learn that he called himself by the name of Belus, the sun-god, and, as such, he was worshipped in later ages in Babylon, He stood in the position of an Antichrist, the first of the great Antichristian dynasty, presenting himself not only for obedience but worship, and in all likelihood, as the seed of the woman, sent to establish the universal monarchy upon earth.

In Nebuchadnezzar’s setting up the great image for worship, we have an instance of the same thing; for it was not so much the image, as himself, that he sought to be worshipped.

And Antichrist is to avow the blasphemy, and present his own person in the temple of God for worship. ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Host High’ (Isaiah 14:13-14). In Nimrod, we see Antichrist in the bud, the great rebel, the great apostate, the adversary of God, the supplanter of Christ, the aimer at universal monarchy and priesthood.

So great had been Nimrod’s eminence; and such the position he had secured for himself, that his character passed into a proverb, and as we should say of some one, he is as ambitious as Alexander or Napoleon, so it was said ages after, he is like Nimrod, the mighty hunter before the Lord. Awful greatness of ambitious rebellion and apostasy! remembered for oppression, and profanity, and defiance of Jehovah. ‘My soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour be not thou united’ (Genesis 49:6).

To Nimrod there is born no son. At least so we judge from the remarkable fact that none is recorded, He is written childless. He rises up and then passes away. He has successors, but no heirs. Melchizedek was a type of Christ, in that he had no father; so Nimrod seems a type of Antichrist, in that he has no son.

Great as are the pretensions of Antichrist, and vast as is the height to which he rises, yet in the pride of power and pomp of greatness, he passes away. He comes to his end, and there is none to help him. He has neither son nor heir. His kingdom passes from him; and the true seed of the woman, the very Christ of God, ascends the throne and establishes the universal dominion, the priestly royal monarchy of which there shall be no end.

And as it was Babel that was the beginning of his empire, so is ‘Babylon the great’ its consummation and close. There were, doubtless, heard shouts of triumph when first the walls of Babel rose under the eye of Nimrod. There shall rise yet a louder shout of more universal acclamation when the walls of the greater city, like Jericho of old, fall prostrate, and the cry is heard, ‘She is fallen, she is fallen, Babylon the great’ (see Isaiah 14 and Revelation 18).

LNW: Prophecies of Jesus’ Second Coming with Hyperlinks

Subject

Scripture Verse

Scripture

Link (ASV)

Commentary

Link

Certainty of His Coming

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then shall he render unto every man according to his deeds.

Matthew 16:27

Matthew Henry

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I come again, and will receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

John 14:3

Matthew Henry

which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye looking into heaven? this Jesus, which was received up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye beheld him going into heaven.

Acts 1:11

Matthew Henry

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

1 Thessalonians 4:16

Matthew Henry

and to you that are afflicted rest with us, at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of his power, in flaming fire, rendering vengeance to them that know not God, and to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus:

2 Thessalonians 1:7-8

Matthew Henry

so Christ also, having been once offered to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time, apart from sin, to them that wait for him, unto salvation.

Hebrews 9:28

Matthew Henry

I come quickly: hold fast that which thou hast, that no one take thy crown.

Revelation 3:11

Matthew Henry

Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to render to each man according as his work is.

Revelation 22:12

Matthew Henry

The Time of His Coming is Unknown

Therefore be ye also ready: for in an hour that ye think not the Son of man cometh.

Matthew 24:44

Matthew Henry

Watch therefore, for ye know not the day nor the hour.

Matthew 25:13

Matthew Henry

But of that day or that hour knoweth no one, not even the angels in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.

Mark 13:32

Matthew Henry

Resurrection of all Dead

and before him shall be gathered all the nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats: 33 and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in; 36 naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or athirst, and gave thee drink? 38 And when saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 And when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these my brethren, even these least, ye did it unto me. 41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 for I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44 Then shall they also answer, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not unto one of these least, ye did it not unto me. 46 And these shall go away into eternal punishment: but the righteous into eternal life.

Matthew 25:32-46

Matthew Henry

Marvel not at this: for the hour cometh, in which all that are in the tombs shall hear his voice, 29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done ill, unto the resurrection of judgment.

John 5:28-29

Matthew Henry

Judgment

But when the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory: 32 and before him shall be gathered all the nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats: 33 and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

Matthew 25:31-33

Matthew Henry

Wherefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall each man have his praise from God.

1 Corinthians 4:5

Matthew Henry

and to you that are afflicted rest with us, at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of his power 8 in flaming fire, rendering vengeance to them that know not God, and to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus: 9 who shall suffer punishment, even eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at in all them that believed (because our testimony unto you was believed) in that day.

2 Thessalonians 1:7-10

Matthew Henry

And to these also Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, Behold, the Lord came with ten thousands of his holy ones, 15 to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their works of ungodliness which they have ungodly wrought, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

Jude 14-15

Matthew Henry

And I saw, and behold, a white cloud; and on the cloud I saw one sitting like unto a son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.

Revelation 14:14

Matthew Henry

Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to render to each man according as his work is.

Revelation 22:12

Matthew Henry

Glorification of the Saints

And then shall they see the Son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then shall he send forth the angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.

Mark 13:26-27

Matthew Henry

For our citizenship is in heaven; from whence also we wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21 who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, according to the working whereby he is able even to subject all things unto himself.

Philippians 3:20-21

Matthew Henry

When Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested, then shall ye also with him be manifested in glory.

Colossians 3:4

Matthew Henry

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18

Matthew Henry

when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at in all them that believed (because our testimony unto you was believed) in that day.

2 Thessalonians 1:10

Matthew Henry

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith: 8 henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me at that day: and not only to me, but also to all them that have loved his appearing.

2 Timothy 4:7-8

Matthew Henry

Tend the flock of God which is among you, exercising the oversight, not of constraint, but willingly, according unto God; nor yet for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3 neither as lording it over the charge allotted to you, but making yourselves ensamples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd shall be manifested, ye shall receive the crown of glory that fadeth not away.

1 Peter 5:2-4

Matthew Henry

Beloved, now are we children of God, and it is not yet made manifest what we shall be. We know that, if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him; for we shall see him even as he is.

1 John 3:2

Matthew Henry

Destruction of the World

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11 Seeing that these things are thus all to be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy living and godliness, 12 looking for and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of God, by reason of which the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13 But, according to his promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

2 Peter 3:10-13

Matthew Henry

Jesus Delivers the Kingdom to the Father

But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; then they that are Christ’s, at his coming. 24 Then cometh the end, when he shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have abolished all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign, till he hath put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be abolished is death. 27 For, He put all things in subjection under his feet. But when he saith, All things are put in subjection, it is evident that he is excepted who did subject all things unto him. 28 And when all things have been subjected unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subjected to him that did subject all things unto him, that God may be all in all.

1 Corinthians 15:23-28

Matthew Henry

Work of Salvation Finished

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

Matthew Henry

Hope of His Second Coming is the Call to Obedience and Faithfulness

and the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we also do toward you; 13 to the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

1 Thessalonians 3:12-13

Matthew Henry

Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for these things, give diligence that ye may be found in peace, without spot and blameless in his sight. 17 Ye therefore, beloved, knowing these things beforehand, beware lest, being carried away with the error of the wicked, ye fall from your own stedfastness. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and for ever. Amen.

2 Peter 3:14, 17-18

Matthew Henry

Remember therefore how thou hast received and didst hear; and keep it, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. 11 I come quickly: hold fast that which thou hast, that no one take thy crown.

Revelation 3:3, 11

Matthew Henry

The Signs of His Second Coming

And he spake to them a parable: Behold the fig tree, and all the trees: 30 when they now shoot forth, ye see it and know of your own selves that the summer is now nigh. 31 Even so ye also, when ye see these things coming to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh. 32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all things be accomplished. 33 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. 34 But take heed to yourselves, lest haply your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that day come on you suddenly as a snare: 35 for so shall it come upon all them that dwell on the face of all the earth. 36 But watch ye at every season, making supplication, that ye may prevail to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

Luke 21:29-36

Matthew Henry

Assurance of His Second Coming

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful.

John 14:27

Matthew Henry

And while they were looking stedfastly into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11 which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye looking into heaven? this Jesus, which was received up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye beheld him going into heaven.

Acts 1:10-11

Matthew Henry

being confident of this very thing, that he which began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ:

Philippians 1:6

Matthew Henry

For ye have need of patience, that, having done the will of God, ye may receive the promise. 37 For yet a very little while, He that cometh shall come, and shall not tarry.

Hebrews 10:36-37

Matthew Henry

Be patient therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it, until it receive the early and latter rain. 8 Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

James 5:7-8

Matthew Henry

He which testifieth these things saith, Yea: I come quickly. Amen: come, Lord Jesus.

Revelation 22:20

Matthew Henry

His Second Coming Revealed

For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink the cup, ye proclaim the Lord’s death till he come.

1 Corinthians 11:26

Matthew Henry

LNW: Prophecies of End Times with Hyperlinks

Prophecy

Category

Scripture

Notes

Scripture

References

Matthew Henry

Commentary

Days of Noah & Lot Rise in spiritism & “signs & wonders”, Scoffers, Persecution, Aberrant Behavior, Self Serving Hearts.

Gen 6.1-9, Gen 19,

Luke 17.26, Jude 1

Gen 6.1-9, Gen 19,

Luke 17.26

Re-Gathered in to the Land Jews continue to pour in to Israel as God spoke in His Word.  God uses various means/ways, such as the current financial crisis or anti-Semitism!  See also Jeremiah 30.10-11.

Isaiah 43.5-7, Isaiah 54.7,

Jeremiah 16.14-15

Isaiah 43.5-7, Isaiah 54.7,

Jeremiah 16.14-15

Call Upon the Name of the LORD Isaiah 44.3-5 For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and streams upon the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring: and they shall spring up among the grass, as willows by the watercourses. One shall say, I am Jehovah’s; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto Jehovah, and surname himself by the name of Israel.

Joel 2:32  And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of Jehovah shall be delivered; for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those that escape, as Jehovah hath said, and among the remnant those whom Jehovah doth call.

Isaiah 44.3-5, Joel 2.28-29

Isaiah 44.3-5, Joel 2.28-29

Gog & Magog Preparation and preparedness of Russia and her allies for completion of Ezekiel 38.16.  (see Table of Nations)

Ezekiel 38.7-8

Table of Nations

Ezekiel 38.7-8

Increase in Knowledge & Travel Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. Look at the technological advances just in the last 10 years.

Daniel 12.4b

Daniel 12.4b

Jerusalem a Cup of Trembling Nations that try to bring about “peace” in the Middle-East between Israel & her enemies, dividing the land and even Jerusalem, favoring Israel’s enemies, will wish they had not gotten involved.

Zech 12.1-9, Joel 3.2, 12

Zech 12.1-9, Joel 3.2, 12

Rebuilding of the Temple at Jerusalem It is inferred through scripture such as the return to animal sacrifices, and reference to Daniel (11.31  & 12.11)

Matt 24.15, Mark 13.14

Matt 24.15, Mark 13.14

Temple Rebuilt Rebuilt Temple is implied through the scriptures referencing the abomination of desolation – you can not have this unless you have a Temple.

Matt 24.15;

Mark 13.14; Daniel 9:27

Matt 24:15;

Mark 13:14; Daniel 9:27

Apostasy & Falling Away Many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other. Look how the apostate church is growing, as well as the dislike for Christians in general.

Matt 24:10, 2 Thes 2:3

Matt 24:10, 2 Thes 2:3

Birth Pangs / Nations in Perplexity Many lead astray, wars/rumors of war, famines, pestilences & earthquakes, Christian persecution, apostasy, excessive wickedness, terrors & great signs in the heavens, perilous times, personal stress and sorrows.

Matt 24.4-14, Mark 13,

Luke 21.5-36

Matt 24.4-14, Mark 13,

Luke 21.5-36

Jerusalem Encompassed by Armies Matthew 24.15/Daniel 9.27 “desolating sacrilege”, Daniel 11.44, Revelation 9.13-21, 16.12 (and Israel (the woman) who flee to a place prepared by God (Rev 12.6)). It is noteworthy today (February 2016) how Israel has become surrounded by armies.

Luke 21.20

Luke 21.20

Peace and Safety 1Th 5:3  For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.

1 Thes 5.3

1 Thes 5.3

Lovers of Self Men will love themselves, money, and pleasure, but not God. The world is becoming very hedonistic.

2 Tim 3:1-5

2 Tim 3:1-5

One World Government Global Governance/Control of ALL Financial/Economic systems (keep an eye on biometric technologies), Initial European Ten Nation federation leading to all nations under one World Leader (Antichrist). See also Matt 24.4-5 and John 5.43.

Rev 6.2 & 13.1-8, Dan 2.41-44,

Dan 7.7-8, Dan 8.9-17, 23-25

Rev 6.2 & 13.1-8, Dan 2.41-44,

Dan 7.7-8, Dan 8.9-17, 23-25

White Horse – Conqueror Though this being is given a crown & bow, this is not Jesus; Some think Antichrist, some think regime change to bring about global democracy. (see Andrew Bonar’s Development of Antichrist)

Rev 6.2

Rev 6.2

Red Horse – Violence / War This would follow the white horse’s purpose of ruling by conquering through force if necessary such as regime change. Could also be a means (global wars) to promote the acceptance of the antichrist by world’s cry for peace at any cost.

Rev. 6.3-4

Rev. 6.3-4

Black Horse – Inflation & Famine Famine can be the result of Inflation and/or high unemployment, a means (economic) through which to conquer.

Rev 6.5-6

Rev 6.5-6

Pale Horse – Death and Hell Sword (war/violent crime), Famine & Pestilence (disease)

Rev 6.7-8

Rev 6.7-8

Kings of the East This could be Iran, China, India, etc. (Kings that are East of the Euphrates River).

Rev 16.12

Rev 16.12

Fall of Babylon If Revelation refers to a literal Babylon, then it stands to reason that it is rebuilt in the last days and becomes very prosperous by means of global trade. Yet, perhaps the city where Antichrist makes his “seat of government”.

Rev. 16.19, Rev 18.2, 10,21

Rev. 16.19, Rev 18.2, 10,21

JC Ryle (1816-1900) – Coming Events and Present Duties: Being Miscellaneous Sermons on Prophetical Subjects (1867)

Coming Events and Present Duties: Being Miscellaneous Sermons on

Prophetical Subjects (1867)

by

JC Ryle (1816-1900)

Copyright: Public Domain

External links are for reader convenience only, neither the linked web sites, its advertising content or its comments are endorsed by Late Night Watch. Be Berean (Acts 17:11) – Use the Internet with discernment.

LNW Note: To get the most out of Commentaries that incorporate the Hebrew and Greek spellings, use an interlinear Bible.

Sermon 4: Idolatry to be Destroyed at Christ’s Coming

“The idols He shall utterly abolish.” Isaiah 2:18

The time here spoken of will be plain to all who take the prophecy of Isaiah in its literal meaning. It is the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ the day when “He arises to shake terribly the earth.” The event is part of that mighty purification which will then take place in His professing Church the abolishing of all idols; and the principal subject which claims your consideration in the text is idolatry.

Without further preface, I desire to ask your attention to the four following points:

1. The definition of idolatry. WHAT IS IT?

2. The cause of idolatry. WHENCE COMES IT?

3. The form idolatry assumes in the visible Church of Christ. WHERE IS IT?

4. The ultimate abolition of idolatry. WHAT WILL END IT?

I feel that the subject is encompassed with many difficulties. Our lot is cast in an age when truth is constantly in danger of being sacrificed to toleration, charity, and peace falsely so called. Nevertheless, I cannot forget that I am a minister of a Church which has given no uncertain sound on the subject of idolatry; and, unless I am greatly mistaken, truth about idolatry is, in the highest sense, truth for the times.

Let me, then, first of all set before you the definition of idolatry. Let me show you WHAT IT IS.

It is of the utmost importance that you should understand this. Unless I make this clear, I can do nothing with the text. Vagueness and indistinctness prevail upon this point, as upon almost every other in religion. The Christian that would not be continually running aground in his spiritual voyage must have his channel well buoyed, his mind well stored with clear definitions.

I say then, that “idolatry is a worship, in which the honor due to God in Trinity, and to Him only, is given to some of His creatures, or some invention of His creatures.” It may vary exceedingly. It may assume exceedingly different forms, according to the ignorance or the knowledge the civilization or the barbarism, of those who offer it. It may be grossly absurd and ludicrous, or it may closely border on truth and admit of being most speciously defended. But whether in the adoration of the idol of Juggernaut or in the adoration of the host in St. Peter’s at Rome, the idolatrous principle is in reality the same. In either case the honor due to God is turned aside from Him and bestowed on that which is not God. And whenever this is done, whether in heathen temples or in professedly Christian Churches, there is an act of idolatry.

You must bear in mind that it is not necessary for a man formally to deny God and Christ in order to be an idolater. Far from it. Professed reverence for the God of the Bible and actual idolatry are perfectly compatible. They have often gone side-by-side, and they still do so. The children of Israel never thought of renouncing God when they persuaded Aaron to make the golden calf. “These be thy gods (thy Elohim),” they said, “which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” And the feast in honor of the calf was kept as a “feast unto the Lord (Jehovah)” (Ex. 32:4,5). Jeroboam, again, never pretended to ask the ten tribes to cast off their allegiance to the God of David and Solomon. When he set up the calves of Gold in Dan and Bethel, he only said, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Behold thy Gods (thy Elohim), O Israel , which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt” (1 Kings 12:28). In both instances, you will observe the idol was not set up as a rival to God but under the pretense of being a help a stepping stone to His service. But in both instances, you know well, a great sin was committed. The honor due to God was given to a visible representation of Him. The majesty of Jehovah was offended. The second commandment was broken. There was, in the eyes of God, a flagrant act of idolatry.

I ask you to mark this, my brethren. I ask you to dismiss from your minds those loose ideas about idolatry which are common in this day. Think not, as many do, that there are only two sorts of idolatry the spiritual idolatry of the man who loves his wife or child or money more than God, and the open, gross idolatry of the man who bows down to an image of wood or metal or stone because he knows no better. Depend upon it, idolatry is a sin that occupies a far, far wider field than this. It is not merely a thing in Hindostan that you may hear of and pity at missionary meetings. Nor yet is it a thing confined to your own heart, that you may confess before the mercy seat upon your knees. It is a pestilence that walks in the Church of Christ to a much greater extent than many of you suppose. It is an evil that, like the Man sin, “sits in the very temple of God” (2 Thess. 2:4). It is a sin that we all need to watch and pray against continually. It creeps into our religious worship insensibly and is upon us before we are aware. Those are tremendous words which Isaiah spoke to the formal Jew not to the worshipper of Baal, remember, but to the man who actually came to the temple (Isa. 66:3): “He who kills an ox is as if he slew a man; he who sacrifices a lamb as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he who offers an oblation as if he offered swine’s blood; he who burns incense as if he blessed an idol.”

This is that sin, remember, which God has especially denounced in His Word. One commandment out of ten is devoted to the prohibition of it. None of all the ten contain such a solemn declaration of His character and of His judgments against the disobedient: “I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me” (Ex. 20:5). None, perhaps, of all the ten is so emphatically repeated and amplified, and especially in the fourth chapter of the book of Deuteronomy.

This is the sin of all others which has brought down the heaviest judgments on the visible Church. It brought on Israel the armies of Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon. It scattered the ten tribes, burned up Jerusalem, and carried Judah and Benjamin into captivity. It brought on the Eastern Churches, in later days, the overwhelming flood of the Saracenic invasion, and turned many a spiritual garden into a wilderness. The desolation which reigns where Cyprian and Augustine once preached the living death in which the Churches of Asia Minor and Syria are buried are all attributable to this sin. All testify to the same great truth which the Lord proclaims in Isaiah, “My glory will I not give to another” (Isa.

42:8).

Gather up these things in your mind, beloved brethren. Be very sure that idolatry is a subject, which in every Church of Christ that would keep herself pure, should be thoroughly examined, understood, and known.

Let me show you, in the second place, the cause to which idolatry may be traced. WHENCE COMES IT?

To the man who takes an extravagant and exalted view of human intellect and reason, idolatry may seem absurd. He fancies it too irrational for any but weak minds to be endangered by it.

To a mere superficial thinker about Christianity, the peril of idolatry may seem very small. Whatever commandments are broken, such a man will tell us, professing Christians are not very likely to transgress the second.

Now, both these persons betray a woeful ignorance of human nature. They do not see that there are secret roots of idolatry within us all. The prevalence of idolatry in all ages among the heathen must necessarily puzzle the one, and the warnings of Protestant ministers against idolatry in the Church must necessarily appear uncalled for to the other, since both are alike blind to its cause.

The cause of all idolatry is the natural corruption of man’s heart. That great family disease, with which all the children of Adam are born, shows itself in this as it does in a thousand other ways. Out of the same fountain from which “proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit,” and the like (Mark 7:21,22),out of that same fountain arise false views of God and false views of the worship due to Him; and, therefore, when the Apostle Paul tells the Galatians (Gal. 5:20) what are the “works of the flesh,” he places prominently among them “idolatry.”

Man will have a religion of some kind. God has not left Himself without a witness in us all, fallen as we are. Like old inscriptions hidden under mounds of rubbish, like the almost obliterated underwriting of Palimpsest manuscripts, even so there is a dim something engraven at the bottom of man’s heart, however faint and half erased a something which makes him feel he must have a religion and a worship of some kind. The proof of this is to be found in the history of voyages and travels in every part of the globe. The exceptions to the rule are so few, if indeed there are any, that they only confirm its truth. Man’s worship in some dark corner of the earth may rise no higher than a vague fear of an evil spirit and a desire to propitiate him, but a worship of some kind man will have.

But then comes in the effect of the fall. Ignorance of God, carnal and low conceptions of His nature and attributes, earthly and sensual notions of the service which is acceptable to Him, all characterize the religion of the natural man. There is a craving in his mind after something he can see and feel and touch in his Divinity. He would fain bring His God down to his own crawling level. He would make his religion a thing of sense and sight. He has no idea of faith and spirit. In short, just as he is willing to live on God’s earth, but until renewed by grace, a fallen and degraded life, so he has no objection to worship after a fashion; but, until renewed by the Holy Ghost, it is always with a fallen worship. In one word, idolatry is a natural product of man’s heart. It is a weed, which like the earth uncultivated, the heart is always ready to bring forth.

And now does it surprise you when you read of the constantly recurring idolatries of the Old Testament Church of Peor, and Baal, and Moloch, and Chemosh, and Ashtoreth, of high places and hill altars, and groves and images and this in the full light of the Mosaic ceremonial? Cease to be surprised. It can be accounted for. There is a cause.

Does it surprise you when you read in history how idolatry crept in by degrees into the Church of Christ, how little-by-little it thrust out Gospel truth until, in Canterbury, men offered more at the shrine of Thomas á Becket than they did at that of the Virgin Mary, and more at that of the Virgin Mary than at that of Christ? Cease to be surprised. It is all intelligible. There is a cause.

Does it surprise you when you hear of men going over from Protestant Churches to the Church of Rome in the present day? Do you think it unaccountable and feel as if you yourself could never forsake a pure form of worship for one like that of the Pope? Cease to be surprised. There is a solution for the problem. There is a cause.

That cause is nothing else but the deep corruption of man’s heart. There is a natural proneness and tendency in us all to give God a sensual, carnal worship and not that which is commanded in His Word. We are ever ready to frame for our sloth and unbelief visible helps and steppingstones in our approaches to Him, and ultimately to give these inventions of our own the honor due to Him. In fact, idolatry is all natural, downhill easy, like the broad way. Spiritual worship is all of grace, all uphill and all against the grain. Any worship whatsoever is more pleasing to the natural heart than worshipping God in the way our Lord Christ describes” in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23).

I for one am not surprised at the quantity of idolatry existing both in the world and in the visible Church. I believe it perfectly possible that we may live to see more of it yet than some have ever dreamed of. It would never surprise me if some mighty personal Antichrist were to arise before the end mighty in intellect, mighty in talents for government, yes, and mighty perhaps in miraculous gifts too. It would never surprise me to see such a one as him setting up himself in opposition to Christ and making an Infidel combination against the Gospel. I believe that many would rejoice to do him honor, who now glory in saying, “We will not have this Christ to reign over us.” I believe that many would make a god of him and reverence him as an incarnation of truth, and concentrate their idea of hero-worship on his person. I advance it as a possibility and no more. But of this at least I am certain, that no man is less safe from danger of idolatry than the man who now sneers at every form of religion, and that from Infidelity to credulity, from Atheism to the grossest idolatry, there is but a single step. Think not, at all events, beloved brethren, that idolatry is an old fashioned sin into which you are never likely to fall. “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” Look into your own hearts. The seeds of idolatry are all there.

Let me show you, in the third place, the forms which idolatry has assumed and does assume in the visible Church. WHERE IS IT?

I believe there never was a more baseless fabric than the theory which obtains favor with many, that the promises of perpetuity and preservation from apostasy belong to the visible Church of Christ. It is a theory supported neither by Scripture nor by facts. The Church against which the gates of hell shall never prevail is not the visible Church but the whole body of the elect the company of true believers out of every nation and people. The greater part of the visible Church has frequently maintained gross heresies. The particular branches of it are never secure against deadly error, both of faith and practice. A departure from the faith a falling away a leaving of first love in any branch of the visible Church need never surprise a careful reader of the New Testament.

That idolatry would arise seems to have been the expectation of the Apostles, even before the canon of the New Testament was closed. It is remarkable to observe how St. Paul dwells on this subject in his Epistle to the Corinthians. If any Corinthian who was called a brother was an idolater, with such a one the members of the Church were not to eat (1 Cor. 5:11). “Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of our fathers” (1 Cor. 10:7). He says again, “My dearly beloved, flee from idolatry” (1 Cor. 10:14). When he writes to the Colossians, he warns them against “worshipping of angels” (Col. 2:18). And St. John closes his first Epistle with the solemn injunction, “little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21). It is impossible not to feel that all these passages imply an expectation that idolatry would arise among professing Christians, and that soon.

The famous prophecy in the fourth chapter of the first Epistle to Timothy contains a passage which is even more directly to the point: “The Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (1 Tim. 4:1). I will not detain you with any lengthy discussion of that remarkable expression “doctrines of devils.” It may be sufficient to say that our excellent translators are considered for once to have missed the full meaning of the Apostle in their rendering of the word translated as “devils” in our version, and that the true meaning of the expression is “doctrines about departed spirits.” And in this view, which I may as well say is maintained by all those who have the best right to be heard on such a question, the passage becomes a direct prediction of the rise of that most specious form of idolatry, the worship of dead saints.

The last passage I will call your attention to is the conclusion of the ninth chapter of Revelation. We there read, at the twentieth verse, “The rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils” (mark, this is the same word as that in the Epistle to Timothy, just quoted), “and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk.” Now, I am not going to offer any comment on the chapter in which this verse occurs. I know well there is a difference of opinion as to the true interpretation of the plagues predicted in it. One thing I venture to assert that it is the highest probability these plagues are to fall upon the visible Church of Christ, and the highest improbability that St. John was here prophesying about the heathen who never heard the Gospel. And this once conceded, the fact that idolatry is a predicted sin of the visible Church does seem most conclusively and forever established.

And now, if we turn from the Bible to facts, what do we see? I reply unhesitatingly, that there is unmistakable proof that Scripture warnings and predictions were not spoken without cause, and that idolatry has actually arisen in the visible Church of Christ, and does still exist.

The rise and progress of the evil in former days you will find well summed up in the admirable Homily of our own Church on Peril of Idolatry. To that Homily I beg to refer you, reminding you once for all that in the judgment of your own Thirty-nine Articles, the Book of Homilies “contains a godly and wholesome doctrine and necessary for these times.” There you will read how, even in the fourth century, Jerome complains “that the errors of images have come in and passed to the Christians from the Gentiles.” And Eusebius says, “We do see now that images of Peter and Paul, and of our Saviour himself be made, and tables be painted, which I think to have been derived and kept indifferently by a heathenish custom.” There you will read how “Pontius Paulinus, Bishop of Nola, in the fifth century, caused the walls of the temples to be painted with stories taken out of the Old Testament; that the people beholding and considering these pictures might the better abstain from too much surfeiting and riot. But from learning by painted stories, it came by little and little to idolatry.” There you will read how Gregory the First, Bishop of Rome, in the beginning of the seventh century did allow the free having of images in churches. There you will read how Irene, mother of Constantine the Sixth, in the eighth century assembled a council at Nicea and procured a decree that “images should be put up in all the churches of Greece, and that honor and worship should be given to the said images.” And there you will read the conclusion with which the Homily winds up its historical summary” that laity and clergy, learned and unlearned, all ages, sorts, and degrees of men, women, and children of whole Christendom, have been at once drowned in abominable idolatry, of all other vices most detested of God and most damnable to man, and that by the space of 800 years and more.”

This is a mournful account, beloved brethren, but it is only too true. There can be little doubt the evil began even before the time just mentioned by the Homily writers. No man, I think, need wonder at the vice of idolatry in the primitive Church who considers calmly the excessive reverence which it paid, from the very first, to the visible parts of religion. I believe that no impartial man can read the language used by nearly all the Fathers about the Church, the bishops, the ministry, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, the martyrs, the dead saints generally no man can read it without being struck with the wide difference between their language and the language of Scripture on such subjects. You seem at once to be in a new atmosphere. You feel that you are no longer treading on holy ground. You find things which in the Bible are evidently of second-rate importance and here made of first-rate importance. You find the things of sense and sight exalted to a position in which Paul, Peter, James, and John, speaking by the Holy Ghost, never for a moment placed them. It is not merely the weakness of uninspired writings that you have to complain of; it is something worse it is a new system. And what is the explanation of all this? It is, in one word, that you have gotten into a region where the malaria of idolatry has begun to arise. You perceive the first workings of the mystery of iniquity. You detect the buds of that huge system of idolatry which, as the Homily describes, was afterwards formally acknowledged and ultimately blossomed so luxuriantly in every part of Christendom.

But let us now turn from the past to the present. Let us examine the question which most concerns ourselves. Let us consider in what form idolatry presents itself to us as a sin of the visible Church of Christ in our own time.

I find no difficulty in answering this question. I feel no hesitation in affirming that idolatry never yet assumed a more glaring form than it does in the Church of Rome at this very day.

And here I come to a subject on which it is hard to speak because of the times we live in. But the whole truth ought to be spoken by ministers of Christ without respect of times and prejudices. And I should not lie down in peace, after preaching on idolatry, if I did not declare my solemn conviction that idolatry is one of the crying sins of which the Church of Rome is guilty. I say this in all sadness. I say it acknowledging fully that we have our faults in our own Church, and practically, perhaps, in some quarters not a little idolatry. But formal, recognized, systematic idolatry I believe we are free from at all events. While, as for the Church of Rome, if there is not in her worship an enormous quantity of systematic, organized idolatry, I frankly confess I do not know what idolatry is.

To my mind, it is idolatry to have images and pictures of saints in churches and to give them a reverence for which there is no warrant or precedent in Scripture. And if this be so, I say there is idolatry in the Church of Rome.

To my mind, it is idolatry to invoke the Virgin Mary and the saints in glory and to address them in language never addressed in Scripture except to the Holy Trinity. And if this be so, I say there is idolatry in the Church of Rome.

To my mind, it is idolatry to bow down to mere material things and attribute to them a power and sanctity far exceeding that attached to the ark or altar of the Old Testament dispensation, and a power and sanctity too for which there is not a tittle of foundation in the Word of God. And if this be so, with the holy coat of Treves and the wonderfully multiplied wood of the true cross and a thousand other so called relics in my mind’s eye, I say there is idolatry in the Church of Rome.

To my mind, it is idolatry to worship that which man’s hands have made to call it God and adore it when lifted up before our eyes. And if this be so, with the doctrine of transubstantiation and the elevation of the host in my recollection, I say there is idolatry in the Church of Rome.

To my mind, it is idolatry to make ordained men mediators between ourselves and God, robbing, as it were, our Lord Christ of His office and giving them an honor which even Apostles and angels in Scripture flatly repudiate. And if this be so, with the honor paid to Popes and priests before my eyes, I say there is idolatry in the Church of Rome.

I know well that language like this jars the minds of many. Men love to shut their eyes against evils which it is disagreeable to allow. They will not see things which involve unpleasant consequences. That the Church of Rome is an erring Church they will acknowledge. That she is idolatrous they will deny.

They tell us that the reverence which the Romish Church gives to saints and images does not amount to idolatry. They inform us that there are distinctions between “latria” and “dulia,” between a mediation of redemption and a mediation of intercession, which clear her of the charge. My answer is, that the Bible knows nothing of such distinctions; and that, in the actual practice of the great bulk of Roman Catholics, they have no existence at all.

They tell us that it is a mistake to suppose that Roman Catholics really worship the images and pictures before which they perform acts of adoration; that they only use them as helps to devotion and in reality look far beyond them. My answer is, that many a heathen could say just as much for his idolatry; that it is notorious, in former days, they did say so; and that in Hindostan many idol worshippers do say so at the present day. But the apology [excuse/justification] does not avail. The terms of the second commandment are too stringent. It prohibits bowing down as well as worshipping. And the very anxiety which the Church of Rome has often displayed to exclude that second commandment from her catechisms is of itself a great fact which speaks volumes to a candid observer.

They tell us that we have no evidence for the assertions we make on this subject; that we found [establish] our charges on the abuses which prevail among the ignorant members of the Romish communion; and that it is absurd to say that a Church containing so many wise and learned men is guilty of idolatry. My answer is, that the devotional books in common use among Roman Catholics supply us with unmistakable evidence. Let anyone examine that notorious book “The Garden of the Soul,” if he doubts my assertion, and read the language there addressed to the Virgin Mary. Let him remember that this language is addressed to a woman who, though highly favored and the mother of our Lord, was yet one of our fellow sinners to a woman who actually confessed her need of a Savior for herself. She says, “My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior” (Luke 1:47). Let him examine this language in the light of the New Testament and then let him tell us fairly whether the charge of idolatry is not fully made out. But I answer, besides this, that we want no better evidence than that which is supplied in the city of Rome itself. What do men and women do under the light of the Pope’s own countenance? What is the religion that prevails around St. Peter’s and under the walls of the Vatican? What is Romanism at Rome, unfettered, unshackled, and free to develop itself in full perfection? Let a man honestly answer these questions, and I ask no more. Let him read such a book as Seymour’s “Pilgrimage to Rome” or Alford’s Letter and ask any visitor to Rome if the picture is too highly colored. Let him do this, I say, and I believe he cannot avoid this conclusion that Romanism in perfection is a gigantic system of Mary-worship, saint-worship, image-worship, relic-worship, and priest-worship; that it is, in one word, a huge organized idolatry.

Brethren, I know not how these things sound to your ears. To me it is no pleasure to dwell on the shortcomings of any who profess and call themselves Christians. I can say truly that I have said what I have said with pain and sorrow.

I draw a wide distinction between the Church of Rome and the private opinions of many of her members. I believe and hope that many a Roman Catholic is in heart inconsistent with his profession and is better than the Church to which he belongs. I cannot forget the Jansenists, and Quesnel, and Martin Boos. I believe that many a poor Italian at this day is worshipping with an idolatrous worship simply because he knows no better. He has no Bible to instruct him. He has no faithful minister to teach him. He has the fear of the priest before his eyes if he dares to think for himself. He has no money to enable him to get away from the bondage he lives under, even if he feels a desire. I remember all this, and I say that the Italian eminently deserves our sympathy and compassion. But all this must not prevent my saying that the Church of Rome is an idolatrous Church.

I should not be faithful if I said less. The Church of which I am a minister has spoken out most strongly on the subject. The Homily on Peril of Idolatry, and the solemn protest following the Rubrics at the end of our Communion Service, which denounces the adoration of the sacramental bread and wine as “idolatry to be abhorred of all faithful Christians,” are plain evidence that I have told you no more than the mind of my own Church. And in a day like this, when some are disposed to secede to the Church of Rome and many are shutting their eyes to her real character and wanting us to be reunited to her–in a day like this, my own conscience would rebuke me if I did not warn men plainly that the Church of Rome is an idolatrous Church, and that if they will join her they are “joining themselves to idols.”

But I may not dwell longer on this part of my subject. The main point I wish to impress on your minds is this that idolatry has decidedly manifested itself in the visible Church of Christ, and nowhere so decidedly as in the Church of Rome.

And now let me show you, in the last place, the ultimate abolition of all idolatry. WHAT WILL END IT?

I consider that man’s soul must be in an unhealthy state if he does not long for the time when idolatry shall be no more. That heart can hardly be right with God which can think of the millions who are sunk in heathenism, or honor the false prophet Mahomet, or daily invoke the Virgin Mary and not cry “O my God, what shall be the end of these things? How long, O Lord! How long?”

Here, as in other subjects, the sure word of prophecy comes to our aid. The end of all idolatry shall one day come. Its doom is fixed. Its overthrow is certain. Whether in heathen temples or in so called Christian Churches, idolatry shall be destroyed at the second coming of our Lord Christ.

Then shall be fulfilled the prophecy of our text, “The idols He shall utterly abolish.” So also the prophecy of Micah (5:13): “Their graven images also will I cut off, and their standing images out of the midst of thee, and thou shalt no more worship the work of thine hands.” So also the prophecy of Zephaniah (2:11): “The Lord will be terrible unto them, for He will famish all the gods of the earth; and men shall worship Him, everyone from his place, even all the isles of the heathen.” So also the prophecy of Zechariah (13:2): “It shall come to pass at that day, saith the Lord of hosts, that I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and they shall no more be remembered.” In a word, the 97th Psalm shall then receive its full accomplishment: “The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof. Clouds and darkness are found about Him; righteousness and judgment are the habitation of His throne. A fire goes before Him, and burns up His enemies round about. His lightnings enlighten the world; the earth saw and trembled. The hills melted like wax at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. The heavens declare His righteousness, and all the people see His glory. Confounded be all they who serve graven images, who boast themselves of idols. Worship Him, all ye gods.”

Brethren, the coming and kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ is that blessed hope which should ever comfort the children of God under the present dispensation. It is the polestar by which we must journey. It is the one point on which all our expectations should be concentrated. “Yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” Our David shall no longer dwell in Adullam, followed by a despised few and rejected by the many. He shall take to Himself His great power and reign, and cause every knee to bow before Him.

Till then our redemption is not perfectly enjoyed. As Paul tells the Ephesians, “We are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30). Our salvation is not completed. As Peter says, “We are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet. 1:5). Our knowledge is still defective. As Paul tells the Corinthians, “Now we see through a glass darkly; but then face-to-face. Now I know in part; then shall I know even also as I am known” (1 Cor. 13:12). In short, our best things are yet to come.

But in the day of our Lord’s return, every desire shall receive its full accomplishment. We shall no more be pressed down and worn out with the sense of constant failure, feebleness, and disappointment. In His presence we shall find there is a fullness of joy, if nowhere else; and when we awaken after [according to] His likeness, we shall be satisfied, if we never were before.

There are many abominations now in the visible Church over which we can only sign and cry, like the faithful in Ezekiel’s day (Ezek. 9:4). We cannot remove them. But a day comes when Jesus shall once more purify His temple and cast forth everything that defiles. He shall do that work of which the doings of Hezekiah and Josiah were a faint type long ago. He shall cast forth the images and purge out idolatry in every shape.

Who is there among you that longs for the conversion of the heathen world? You will not see it in its fullness until the Lord’s appearing. Then, and not till then, will that often misapplied text be fulfilled: “A man shall cast his idols of silver and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats” (Isa. 2:20).

Who is there among you that longs for the redemption of Israel? You will never see it in its perfection till the Redeemer comes to Zion. Idolatry in the professing Church of Christ has been one of the mightiest stumbling blocks in the Jew’s way. When it begins to fall, the veil over the heart of Israel shall begin to be taken away (Ps. 102:16).

Who is there among you that longs for the fall of Antichrist and the purification of the Church of Rome? I believe that will never be until the winding up of this dispensation. That vast system of idolatry may be consumed and wasted by the spirit of the Lord’s mouth, but it shall never be destroyed except by the brightness of His coming (2 Thess. 2:8).

Who is there among you that longs for a perfect Church a Church in which there shall not be the slightest taint of idolatry? You must wait for the Lord’s return. Then, and not till then, shall we see a perfect Church a Church having neither spot nor wrinkle, nor any such thing (Eph. 5:27), a Church of which all the members shall be regenerate and everyone a child of God.

Brethren, if these things be so, you will not wonder that we urge on you the study of prophecy, and that we charge you above all to grasp firmly the glorious doctrine of Christ’s second appearing and kingdom. This is the light shining in a dark place to which you will do well to take heed. Let others indulge their imagination, if they will, with an imaginary “Church of the future.” Let the children of this world dream of some “coming man” who is to understand everything and set everything right. They are only sowing to themselves bitter disappointment. They will awake to find their visions baseless and empty as a dream. It is to such as these that the Prophet’s words may be well applied: “Behold all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks. Walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of Mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow” (Isa. 1:11).

But let your eyes look right onward to the day of Christ’s second advent. That is the only day when every abuse shall be rectified and every corruption and source of sorrow completely purged away. Waiting for that day, let us each work on and serve our generation, not in idleness as if nothing could be done to check evil yet not disheartened because we see not yet all things put under our Lord. After all, the night is far spent, and the day is at hand. Let us wait, I say, on the Lord.

And surely, if these things be so, you will not wonder that we warn you to beware of all leanings towards the Church of Rome. Surely, when the mind of God about idolatry is so plainly revealed to us in His Word, it seems the height of infatuation in anyone to join a Church so steeped in idolatries as the Church of Rome. To enter into communion with her when God is saying “Come out of her, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and receive not of her plagues” (Rev. 18:4), to seek her when the Lord is warning us to leave her, to become her subjects when the Lord’s voice is crying “Escape for thy life, flee from the wrath to come,” all this is mental blindness indeed; a blindness like that of him who, though forewarned, embarks in a sinking ship; a blindness that would be almost incredible if our own eyes did not see examples of it continually.

We must all be on our guard. We must take nothing for granted. We must not hastily suppose that we are too wise to be ensnared, and say, like Hazael, “Is Thy servant a dog, that he should do this thing?”

We who preach must cry aloud and spare not, and allow no false tenderness to make us hold our peace about the heresies of the day. You who hear must have your loins girt about with truth and your minds stored with clear prophetical views of the end to which all idol worshippers must come. Let us all try to realize that the latter ends of the world are upon us and that the abolition of all idolatry is hastening on. Is this a time for a man to draw nearer to Rome? Is it not rather a time to draw further back and stand clear, lest we be involved in her downfall? Is this a time to extenuate and palliate Rome’s manifold corruptions and refuse to see the reality of her sins? Surely we ought rather to be doubly jealous of everything of a Romish tendency in religion doubly careful that we do not connive at any treason against our Lord Christ and doubly ready to protest against unscriptural worship of every description. Once more, then, I say, remember that the destruction of all idolatry is certain; and remembering that, beware of the Church of Rome.

And now it only remains for me to conclude what I have been saying by mentioning some safeguards for your own souls. You live in a time when the Church of Rome is walking amongst us with renewed strength, and loudly boasting that she will soon win back the ground that she has lost. False doctrines of every kind are continually set before you in the most subtle and specious forms. It cannot be thought unseasonable if I offer you some practical safeguards against idolatry. What it is, whence it comes, where it is, what will end it all this you have heard. Let me point out how you may be safe from it, and I will say no more.

1. Arm yourselves, then, for one thing, with a thorough knowledge of the Word of God. Read it more diligently than ever. Become familiar with every part of it. Let it dwell in you richly. Beware of anything which would make you give less time and less heart to the perusal of its sacred pages. The Bible is the sword of the Spirit; let it never be laid aside. The Bible is the true lantern for a dark and cloudy time; beware of traveling without its light. I strongly suspect, if we did but know the secret history of those secessions from our Church to that of Rome, which we deplore, that in almost every case one of the most important steps in the downward road would be found to have been a neglected Bible more attention to forms, sacraments, daily services, primitive Christianity, and so forth, and diminished attention to the written Word of God. The Bible is the King’s highway. Once leave that for any bypath, however beautiful and old and frequented it may seem, and never be surprised if you end with worshipping images and relics.

2. Arm yourselves, in the second place, with a godly jealousy about the least portion of the Gospel. Beware of sanctioning the slightest attempt to keep back any jot or tittle of it, or to throw any part of it into the shade by exalting subordinate matters in religion. It seemed a small thing that Peter did when he withdrew himself from eating with the Gentiles, but Paul tells the Galatians, “I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed” (Gal. 2:11). Count nothing little that concerns your soul. Be very particular whom you hear, where you go, and what you do in all the matters of your own particular worship. Care nothing for the imputation of squeamishness and excessive scrupulosity. You live in days when great principles are involved in little acts, and things in religion which fifty years ago were utterly indifferent are now by circumstances rendered indifferent no longer. Beware of tampering with anything of a Romanizing tendency. It is foolishness to play with fire. I believe that many of our seceders began with thinking there could be no mighty harm in attaching a little more importance to certain outward things than they once did. But once launched on the downward course, they went on from one thing to another. They provoked God, and He left them to themselves. They tempted the devil, and he came to them. They started with trifles, as many foolishly call them. They have ended with downright idolatry.

3. Arm yourselves, last of all and above all, with clear sound views of our Lord Jesus Christ and of the salvation that is in Him. He is the image of the invisible God the express image of His person and the true preservative against all idolatry when truly known. Build yourselves deep down on the strong foundation of His finished work upon the cross. Settle it firmly in your mind that Christ Jesus has done everything needful in order to present you without spot before the throne of God, and that simple childlike faith on your part is the only thing required to give you an entire interest in the work of Christ. Settle it firmly in your mind that having this faith, you are completely justified in the sight of God will never be more justified if you live to the age of Methuselah and do the works of the Apostle Paul and can add nothing to that complete justification by any acts, deeds, works, performances, fastings, prayers, alms deeds, attendance on ordinances, or anything else of your own.

And keep up, keep up, I beseech you, continual communion with the person of the Lord Jesus. Abide in Him daily, feed on Him daily, look to Him daily, lean on Him daily, live upon Him daily, draw from His fullness daily. Realize this, and the idea of other mediators, other comforters, other intercessors will seem utterly absurd. “What need is there?” you will reply; “I have Christ, and in Him I have all.”

Brethren, let the Lord Christ have His rightful place in your heart, and all other things in your religion will soon fall into their right places also Church, ministers, sacraments, ordinances all will go down and take the second place.

Except Christ sits as Priest and King upon the throne of your heart, that little kingdom within will be in perpetual confusion. But only let Him be all in all there, and I have no fear for you. Before Him every idol, every Dagon shall fall down.

This lecture was one of a course delivered during Lent, 1851, at St. George’s, Bloomsbury.