Sermon 2772. The Minister's Trumpet Blast and Church Member's Warning
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, MARCH 30, 1902.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT NEW PARK STREET CHAPEL, SOUTHWARK, ON A LORD'S-DAY EVENING, DURING THE WINTER OF 1859-1860.
"Set the trumpet to your mouth. He shall come as an eagle against the house of the LORD, because they have transgressed MyCovenant, and trespassed against My Law. Israel shall cry unto Me, My God, we know You!" Hosea 8:1,2.
WE do not use instrumental music in the worship of God because we consider that it would be a violation of the simplicityof our worship. We think it far better to hear the voices of Christian men and women than all the sounds which can be madeby instruments. Yet I am sure there is no Christian here who would object to a minister who can play well upon an instrumentand, indeed, a minister is good for nothing if he does not know how, spiritually, to give forth instrumental music! A trueminister of Christ should know how to blow the ram's horn so that the walls of Jericho may be made to tremble and fall. Heshould understand how to play the harp, so that when any of you are disquieted, he may be to you as David was to Saul, andmay drive away the evil spirits that trouble you. He should be able, also, to play upon the timbrel, and to lead you forth,sometimes, in the sacred song of joy and thanksgiving. He should be able to go forth like Miriam and cry aloud to you, andask you to follow him while he says, "Sing unto the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously."
His sermons should often seem to you to fulfill that exhortation of David, "Praise you the Lord. Praise Him upon the loudcymbals: praise Him upon the high-sounding cymbals." The minister of the Gospel should also understand how to blow the silvertrumpet to proclaim that the year of jubilee is come and that the ransomed debtors may once more receive their lost inheritance.And there is one instrument upon which he should be well skilled and which he should often use, namely, the trumpet. I donot mean the silver trumpet, but the war trumpet-that clear, shrill-sounding instrument that gives the certain sound wherebymen prepare themselves for the battle.
I have to use that trumpet tonight and, in explaining my text, I will speak of several things that are hinted at here. First,there is a command to the Gospel minister-"Set the trumpet to your mouth." There is, secondly, the particular reason for thiscommand, in order that he may warn God's people-"Because they have transgressed My Covenant, and trespassed against My Law."Then, thirdly, there is another special reason appended, because God was about to execute judgment upon these sinners-"Heshall come as an eagle against the house of the Lord." In the second verse we find our fourth point-the blessed result ofthe blowing of this trumpet-"Israel shall cry unto Me, My God, we know You!"
I. First, then, here is A COMMAND TO THE GOSPEL MINISTER-"Set the trumpet to your mouth." The Hebrew has it, "Set the trumpetto the roof of your mouth." Set it to your mouth. Keep it there-do not put it up sometimes and then take it down again-buthave it always in readiness, so as to sound the note of alarm. Set it to the roof of your mouth-blow with all your might andlet men hear that the alarm comes not merely from your lips, but from within your mouth-from your very heart! With such earnestnessshall you sound the trumpet of warning.
What is meant by the minister setting the trumpet to his mouth? I think just this. In the first place, that when the ministeris dealing with the souls of men, the tone which he uses should be very decisive. He should not set some little Jew's harpto his mouth, so that people hardly know whether he is making a noise or not-he should blow a trumpet and produce a decisivesound so that men may know what sin is reproved-what virtue is commended. They should never have to ask themselves, "Whatdoes the minister mean? Does he really intend to condemn sin, or does he palliate it?" The
declaration should be decisive, as the sound of the war trumpet is. When men hear that trumpet sounded in the East, they donot ask themselves, "Does that mean dancing? Is that the sound of them that make merry?" But they say at once, "That meanswar! We are sure it does. Let us prepare ourselves for the battle." So should it be with the message of God's servant. Hehas not to say, "If this," or, "if that," but to set the trumpet of Gospel warning to the roof of his month and give out anote that none can mistake.
For the text means not only a decisive sound, but a clear sound. Of all sounds, perhaps that of the trumpet is the clearestand so should it be with the message of Christ's servant. It should not be indistinct and full of hard words that cannot beunderstood. It should not be a piece of music, the tune of which is so difficult that no man can possibly follow it or evenknow what is meant by it, but it should be the one, two, three notes of, "Awake! Awake you sleepers! What are you doing?"Or this yet more solemn note, "Awake, you dead, and come to judgment!" "Prepare to meet your God!" There should be somethingso clear that the moment the minister's statement is heard, those who are willing to understand it should have no difficultyin knowing its meaning.
Again, in setting the trumpet to his mouth, the minister should not only give a decisive and clear testimony in all his ministrations,but it should also be a loud and startling testimony! You know some preachers who send their congregations to sleep-not onlybecause of their monotonous style of address, but because their matter, itself, is sleepy! The people seem to say, "Well,if that is all the man has to talk about, we may as well be asleep as awake." Sometimes they preach the doctrines which teachmen to sit still and do nothing. And then the people say, "Well, let us sit still and do nothing-only let us sleep by theway and enjoy ourselves." There are too many droning preachers that Satan employs to rock the cradle of immortal souls whilehe is standing by waiting till the time shall come for him to carry them off. "You play," says Satan to the minister, "andI will dance to them. And between the two of us, we will lead them to Hell."
There will be a fearful amount of blood upon the skirts of a man whose ministry has startled nobody. When a trumpet is blownin a besieged city, there are many persons with weak nerves who are quite frightened and many children, too, and many timidsouls that are greatly alarmed. And someone might come to the trumpeter and say, "Why did you sound the clarion? Weak womenare made to tremble." "Yes," he says, "but better that weak minds should be made to tremble than that stout-hearted ones shouldperish! It is better these should be alarmed, now, than go quietly on until the enemy infests the city and puts them all tothe sword." A startling time is often to come to the minister-he is not to be content to keep to ordinary subjects and dealwith them in an ordinary manner. He must go out with a, "Thus says the Lord" and, like a new Elijah, he must speak with firefrom Heaven hanging on his lips and the thunders of God rolling around his brow! He will never fully discharge his officeif he is always playing on the harp with its soft dulcet notes-he must take down the war trumpet and sound an alarm-that allmen may be warned!
I think I may add that when the minister of Christ blows this trumpet aright, it is one that is pretty sure to be heard furtherthan he, himself, is seen. Men do not always see a trumpeter when they hear the sound of his trumpet-and let the ministerof Christ fearlessly proclaim his Master's Word and his line shall go out through all the earth. Let him be honest and faithful,and he need not fear that he shall lack hearers. That trumpet sound, it may be, shall be heard all over England-across theChannel shall it be heard upon the Continent-it shall go beyond the Alleghenies and make the Rocky Mountains echo with thesound! Let him but preach the whole Gospel and set the trumpet to the roof of his mouth, and all the world shall hear or,at least, if they hear it not, he shall have performed his duty-but many will hear it, for God will always find ears willingto listen to the sound that comes from an honest mouth!
II. "Set the trumpet to your mouth." That is the command to the Gospel minister and I mean to obey it while I deal
with the second head, THE PARTICULAR REASON ASSIGNED FOR IT. The reason why Hosea was to become a
trumpeter at this particular time was this-the children of Israel had broken God's Covenant-they had gone astray and transgressedHis Law. Therefore God was angry with them and was about to smite them with sore judgments. Before, however, He smote them,He warned them. God does not usually give a word and a blow, but He gives a word and another word, and another word and thenyet another word and, after all that, there comes the blow! He warns before He strikes. The axe of God, like the axe of theRoman dictator, is bound up in a bundle of rods-He smites first with the rod and if that suffices not, then He draws out theaxe and smites with it-and its strokes are enough to destroy the soul.
Now, with regard to this Church-God, I think, has put it into my heart to speak to you about your transgressions and yoursins. And, in this matter, the trumpeter includes himself-and while he addresses the Church and congregation,
he intends, thereby, not to exempt a single person unless there is one, indeed, who can claim exemption. Well, my Brothersand Sisters, to begin with ourselves-the members of this Church-is there no good reason that the minister should always havethe trumpet to his mouth to warn us of our particular sins? God has blessed us very greatly as a people. We have lived inthe sunshine of His Countenance. He has been pleased to give us success in our labors beyond our most sanguine anticipations.Whatever way we turn our hands, God seems to prosper us-if not in our worldly business, yet certainly in our business forHim. There is nothing that I am aware of which this Church has undertaken but God has been pleased to give us success in it.But have we not, with all this blessing, very great sins to confess before God?
When I sit down and think of myself, I am, to my own self, a wonder and a marvel that God has not cast me off- that He hasnot said to me, "I will no more speak My Word through you. I will leave you to yourself. You shall be like Samson when hishair was gone." And, oh, if He should say that to any of us, where should we be? Brothers and Sisters in the Church, may younot, personally and collectively, cover your faces and mourn and weep by reason of your own private and individual sins? Areyou perfect? Are you quite clear of guilt? Are your garments unspotted and unsullied? God forbid that you should say theyare, for this were, indeed, to vaunt yourselves in pride! No, every man may weep apart, and his wife apart, and his childrenapart, for, with us, even with us, there are sins against the Lord our God! I sometimes fear lest, as a people, we shouldbe tempted to pride. Lest we should conceive that the success with which God favors us is owing to something in ourselves-lestwe should begin to say, "We are the men, and wisdom shall die with us." We stand in a position in which God has made us eminentby His blessing, but let us take heed lest, by exalting ourselves, we become like Capernaum, once lifted to Heaven, but afterwardsbrought down to Hell!
There have been many churches which God has left because of their sin. Riding through the country, we can see, every now andthen, a chapel, and when we enquire how the cause prospers, we are told that it is in the worst position possible. "But wasit always so?" "No," it is said, "there was once a servant of God there and the people gathered round him-and they walkedwell for a time and there were many conversions." But, alas, they fell into sin, and God left them-and there is "Ichabod"written on every piece of mortar in the walls! If you could see it, there is the great "Tekel" of Belshazzar put upon thepulpit and upon the pew! Pastor and people alike have been weighed in the balances and they have been found lacking! Shallit be so with us as a Church? Shall we be found lacking in the time of testing?
Shall I tell you-and here I speak without the slightest tone of severity-one thing in which some of our friends are lacking?A conscientious regard to social prayer. There are some who are always at the meetings for prayer, but I cannot conceal frommyself the fact that there are many whose faces I never see there. Or, if I see them once a year, it is indeed a treat. Idoubt not but that their business is so urgent that they could not constantly attend, but then I know there are others, whoregularly attend, who have business that seems to me to be equally as urgent and I think these absentees might come sometimes,at any rate. Now, if we begin by some of us neglecting the meetings for prayer, and if our neglect should increase, we shallthen be on the high road to the loss of God's favor and to the prevention of all future prosperity!
Besides, may I not also say that there are some, I fear, in the Church, who have lost their first love It is remarkable tome that there are so few in this church who have turned out to be deceivers. Sorrowful are the meetings when we have to excommunicate,here and there, one. But out of so vast a number we have great reason to thank God that they are comparatively few. But, oh,may there not be many among us who, if they cannot be made amenable to church discipline, are nevertheless rotten at the core?Have we not some that are like trees, fair on the outside, but inwardly their hearts are but fit to be tinder for the devil'stinderbox? Have we not too many among us who are secretly living in sin, whose practice in trade would not bear strict investigation,but who, nevertheless, cannot be laid hold of because there is no gross vice, no open, public and flagrant sin? And, oh, Brothersand Sisters, if these things increase, if this leprosy breaks out in the garments, it will spread and God will come to abhorHis own inheritance and will say of this Church, "I will leave this place-I will abide here no longer-I will find a peoplewho shall be more faithful to My Word, who shall live more true to the promises and vows which they have made."
I will set the trumpet to my mouth tonight, on behalf of every member of the Church, and on behalf of myself, also. O Brothersand Sisters, the time past should suffice us to have worked the will of the Gentiles! Let us seek Divine Grace that we maybe purged from all our former conversation in the days of our flesh, that we may come out from the world, that we may be moreand more separate from it, that there may be a greater distinction between us and the ungodly sons of
men, that we may prove to be what we profess to be-Israelites, indeed, in whom is no guile! O Christian Church, if you shallfall from your integrity, you will soon fall from your prosperity! Suspend prayer and you will suspend success! Break downour hedges, let in the hypocrites-or let them even come in by stealth-and the wild boar out of the forest will soon wastethis Church! And where are the goodly clusters now? Where are the grapes of Eschol and where are the winepresses gushing withnew wine? Famine has devastated the land! Black death has covered all the vineyards and the vines lament and are burned upwith fire. If God forsakes us-and He will do so if we turn aside from Him as a Church- then this must be the result. The lamentationthat I have taken up must be the lamentation of this Church unless God shall keep us true to Him in prayer, diligence andholiness. God does not cast away His people forever, but He often casts away a separate Church from its degree of usefulness.He does not put out His lamps, but He does let them burn very low, indeed, so that there is scarcely anything but a smokingwick left. May it never be so with us!
Having set the trumpet to my mouth for the members of the Church, I blow another blast of it to every one of you. Brothersand Sisters in Christ, in the days of Jesus, there was found a Judas in the midst of His twelve Apostles. "I have chosen youtwelve, and one of you is a devil." Is there not reason to fear that among the many hundreds in this Church there are to befound some who are like Judas? O traitor, if you are still in the ranks, tremble to hear your doom! O you deceiver, the dayis coming when judgment must begin at the house of God! Though chaff is mingled with the wheat, the rushing, mighty wind isrising now! I hear it-I hear it in the distance and soon it will come and winnow this Church and then, where will you be?Where will you be when Christ shall take His fan in His hand and thoroughly purge His floor? Do not think, my dear Friends,members of the Church, that you will be saved if you are out of Christ because you are members of the Church. Remember whathappened to Joab-he ran right into the tabernacle and caught hold of the horns of the altar. Solomon said to Benaiah, "Fetchhim forth." And Benaiah said, "Come forth from there," and he said, "No, but I will die here." And Benaiah told Solomon whathe said-but did the king spare Joab because he had his hands on the horns of the altar? No! He said, "Go and slay him there,"and Benaiah thrust his sword through him even while he had his hands upon God's own altar! So will it be with you. You mayput your lips to the communion cup, you may come and sit round this table-you may be a deacon, you may even enter this pulpitas a preacher-but, unless your heart is right with God, even with your hands upon the horns of God's altar, you must be damned!From the pulpit you must go to the Pit! You must descend from the table to commune at the feast of fiends! Go from the generalassembly and Church of the first-born, to the general assembly and congregation of the lost in Hell! I can blow my trumpetno louder than this to each one of you. Oh, hear it, hear it, hear it, Church members! Listen to it and regard it-and searchand try yourselves, and see whether you are in Christ or not!
Yet one more blast from my trumpet and this is for those who are not members of the Church, but who constantly attend theministry of the Gospel. O ungodly Hearers, the day is coming when you shall have no man to warn you, when you shall have noone to invite you to come to Christ! Sabbaths will not last forever. Eternity is drawing near and bears in its hand the stampthat must seal your doom. I remember a sermon of William Dawson's on Death-the three heads of which were, "First, Death isfollowing after us. Secondly, he will certainly catch us. Thirdly, we don't know when." That third head is a very solemn one-wedon't know when. And what if it should be tonight? Hear the blast of my trumpet-"Consider your ways!" "Prepare to meet yourGod!" "Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed and be still." "Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,and you perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little."
Sinner, while the lamp holds out to burn, turn to Christ and live! Otherwise know that when that lamp is quenched, God's mercywill be quenched, too, for you, and you will be cast away into the outer darkness, where there is weeping, and wailing, andgnashing of teeth! Remember that ancient message, "He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shallbe upon his own head." If all that is said is of no avail to you, then shall he that blew the trumpet be clear, but on yourown head shall be your doom forever and ever!
I have to mourn because I cannot sound this trumpet as I should. Oh, that I had a voice powerful enough to find its way intothe poor, dead, stony hearts of sinners dead in trespasses and sins! It were easy work to preach if we preached to none butthe living in Zion, but to have to talk to hard stones that will not break, and to speak to icebergs that will not melt-thatis a work that requires large faith and often depresses our spirit! Yet must we come back to it again, for the thought ofeternity rises upon us. We see sinners plunging down to Hell in one awful stream! We see the grave glutted
with their corpses and Hell swollen with their blood! We mark how every night sucks in its prey and how every day shuts itsdevouring jaws upon the helpless thousands of our race-and we cannot be still-especially when we have before us some who willgo from these galleries and from these pews to help to feed the everlasting burnings!
Did I say there would be some such? I mean, "Except they repent, they shall alllikewise perish." If we could but look anyone man in the face and know that he would be in torment within a year, oh, what pity we should feel for him! We could scarcelyrest under such a burden. I am quite sure I should not sleep tonight-I should lie tossing on my bed, crying to God for mercyon that poor man-and I would not stop a moment before I would go to him and tell him the way of salvation. Ah, but there isnot only one, but scores, perhaps hundreds, in this place of worship who have no hope! They are prayerless men and women-thosewhose knees never bend in prayer before their Maker-hard-hearted people who have never trembled under conviction of sin, andwho have never sought and never found Christ as their Savior. Ah, poor Friends, poor Friends, we may well weep for you, andsigh for you, and all the more because you will not weep and will not sigh for yourselves!
To be on the high road to Hell and yet to be trifling with eternal things-to be on the brink of Perdition and yet to be jestingat religion! To be nearing the everlasting burnings and yet to be breaking the Sabbath and treading the blood of Christ beneathyour feet-oh, this is mad work! Bedlam has not within its walls a man more insane-a more mad, manacled wretch-than the manwho knows that the wrath of God abides on him and yet makes merry and dances to the sound of his own funeral knell-who goesleaping to the gallows and, chanting a song, bows his neck to the death-block and the gleaming axe! O Spirit of God, it isYours to wake the dead and Yours to change the heart! Do it, we pray You, for all the blasts of our trumpet cannot do it unlessYou take the work in hand.
III. Having gone through two parts of the text-the command to the minister and the reason found among his
people-I shall next ask your attention to the third point, THE REASON WHY HOSEA SHOULD, AT THAT TIME, ESPECIALLY SET THE TRUMPETTO HIS MOUTH, NAMELY, THAT JUDGMENT WAS IMPENDING UPON
THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL-"He shall come as an eagle against the house of the Lord."
Different expositors have given various interpretations of this verse and applied it to the peculiar plague which was, atthat time, about to fall upon the Israelite people. Some say it was one thing and some, another. I do not care to enter intothese diverse interpretations-it is enough for me to believe that there is a visitation threatened here against the Churchof God. What does it say? Look at the text again. "He shall come as an eagle against the house of the Lord." But will theLord let anything come against His own house? It cannot be so, surely! Ah, but it isso-and the emphatic name of God, Jehovah,is used, for you see the word, LORD, is in capitals-"He shall come as an eagle against the house of Jehovah." If sin getsinto God's house, He will no more spare sin in His house than He will spare it in the devil's house. God hates sin everywhereand if sin gets into His own Church, He will flog it out. It is of no use at all for this traitor to go and hide himself inthe house of God's children-the Lord will drag him out to execution, even though he creeps into our bedchambers! There shallbe no sparing him! He may hide under the camel's furniture, but every Rachel shall be made to stand up and God will turn outour bronze images and cast them away from us!
It seems, then, that a visitation is threatened against the Church of God-against God's own house. Notice the form of thisvisitation-"He shall come as an eagle." Now, an eagle comes in two ways. First, it comes all of a sudden. Poised high in theair, so far aloft that you cannot see it, it keeps its wings fluttering as birds of prey are known to do and, with its sharpeyes so powerful that at that tremendous height it can see the smallest fish in the water, it marks its prey and all of asudden down it dashes, as if it had fallen from Heaven like a meteorite, or like the lightning flash! It is up there wherewe cannot see it and suddenly it swoops down and bears away its prey! Now, such is often God's visitation upon His Church-Hecomes suddenly, like an eagle, and chastens His children.
Besides, here is an allusion to the strong flight of the eagle. When the eagle once stretches his wings to fly, who can stophis wings? He bears up against the wind. He buffets the storm. He cuts through it as a ship sails through the billows or afish swims through the sea! On, on, like an arrow from the bow, he shoots to his desired target. So shall God's judgmentsbe to His Church-they shall come on His Church irresistibly-and there shall be no escape, there shall be no deliverance! Theeagle shall come with such force that none shall stay his might!
How true this has been of the Church of Christ in many ages! As I have said before, God has never left His chosen people,but He has often left separate churches, when those churches have become mixed with the world. Look at the Sev-
en Churches of Asia. It would be an interesting and an instructive journey for any of us to make, to go to Sardis and to Pergamos,and to Thyatira, and to the other spots where there once were the Churches to which John the Divine wrote a part of the Bookof Revelation. We would see that some of them have no inhabitants whatever-only the bittern and the owl, and the ruins ofa long-past grandeur. In others a few huts, and Bedouin Arabs pasturing their flocks, with, perhaps, not a dozen Christiansto be found within a circuit of a dozen miles! God has taken the candlestick out of its place and quenched His Light in darkness.Just so is it with the Church of Rome. What prosperity there was there once! Paul had, doubtless, a large number who usedto gather together in his hired room to listen to him. And if Peter ever went to Rome, and he may have done so, he would,doubtless, have gathered a goodly band around him.
We have good evidence that there was a very large number of Christians there, for, in the catacombs under Rome, all alongthe corridors, many miles in length, there are inscriptions to the memory of Christians. You look on one and another, andthere you see the name-one man with an anchor to show his hope, or another with a dove-and on most of them are these words,"He rests in peace," or, "She rests in peace." And there are thousands of these! The Church in the catacombs must have numbereda great many members, and there they flourished, down there in the darkness of the earth, worshipping God by candlelight whenthe sun was shining above them and his brightest rays could never reach them in those gloomy caverns. That Church seems tohave been a very eminent one-the inscriptions bear the proofs of the very highest and most spiritual forms of piety. And now,the mother of harlots sits upon her seven hills and the ancient candlestick is taken out of its place.
Again, to give you another picture, which will, perhaps, strike you still more forcibly, look at Germany. In the days of Lutherit was the stronghold of the Gospel! You know how Luther used to preach the Word and what crowds gathered to hear that mightythunderer, while in simple language he proclaimed the Truth of God and defied the Pope and the devil, too! Things are improvingnow, I hope, but it might have been said, some years ago, "How are the mighty fallen!" The Lutheran churches had become nearlyall Unitarian or Rationalist. They had forsaken the fountain of living waters. They forgot the Lord who bought them and turnedaside to damnable heresy. And why should it not be so here! Unless the Lord will continually preserve unto us a remnant, wewill become like Sodom and be made like Gomorrah! That descent may come in an instant-the eagle may even now be watching inthe air-and his swoop may be without any warning. There may come sudden destruction, as pain upon a woman in travail, andwe may not escape!
As long as we walk with God, as long as we are true to the faith, as long as we labor for the salvation of souls, so longwe are secure. But as surely as sin is permitted to spread among us-if the spirit of lukewarmness, of laxity of doctrine,of prayerlessness should creep in here, it will be all over with us. The Lord will say, "Let me go from there." There willbe heard, in this place, what was heard in the Temple just before the time of its destruction by Titus. It is said that therewas heard within the veil a rushing of wind and the high priest who was officiating declared that he heard a Voice say, "Arise,let Us go from here." That Voice has been heard in many places. I could point to chapels where that Voice must have been heard-housesof prayer where once there were crowds of hearers but which are now covered with dust and cobwebs, where scarcely anybodycares to enter-and where those who enter are cold, dead, dull and careless. Shall it ever be so with this Church? God forbid!
O God of Benjamin Keach, Your suffering servant! O God of Gill, Your servant who declared Your Truth in all its fullness!O God of the sainted Rippon, whom You have taken to Yourself-You who has been the God of this Church for, lo, these many years!You who has kept us beneath the shadow of Your wings and brought us into a position of high privileges and responsibilities-beYou our God even until the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ-and then forever and ever!
IV. I think I need not say any more with regard to this great and solemn reason why the trumpet is to be blown. Let
me, in closing, just dwell for a minute or two upon THE VERY BEAUTIFUL AND BLESSED EFFECT OF THIS
BLAST OF THE TRUMPET-"Israel shall cry unto Me, My God, we know You!"
In the Hebrew, this expression is very remarkable, indeed, it runs thus-"They shall cry unto Me, My God, we know you-Israel."I do not know whether you perceive the meaning of this expression. It is, perhaps, difficult for me to say it so as for youto perceive the pith of it. They say, "My God, we know You"-then, as if God did not know who they were, they say, "Israel.""My God, we know You-Israel." They mention their name and plead it before Him. Or else it may be, as another excellent translatorsays, that they thought perhaps the Lord would not remember them, but He
would remember the man with whom He had made a Covenant, namely, Jacob, Israel, for they say in the Hebrew, "My God, we knowYou-Israel." Remember Israel. Think of him who wrestled with You and became a prevailing prince.
We will be content, however, to take the passage as it stands. "Israel shall cry unto Me, My God, we know You!" Can you sincerelyutter that cry, Brothers and Sisters? If so, a blast of the trumpet will have had a blessed effect if you can say, "Lord,we know You!" What do you know about Him? There is one point in His Character I want you especially to remember. If you knowGod aright, you will know that He is a jealous God. That is one of the first things which He said when He spoke to His peoplein the wilderness, "I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God." I do not know that we fully understand the meaning of that word,"jealous." You know what it means in common life-how, if there is one who has a right to another's love, if that person suspectsthat the other's heart is given away, there is jealousy. Well, now, there is jealousy in God's heart if His people give toothers love that is due to Him. And do you know when we are most jealous? It is an object of utter indifference to me whocertain people may love, because I have no affection for them-but if there is one on whom my whole heart is set, if that person'sheart were given to someone else, I should feel jealousy.
Now, God is not jealous of sinners-He is jealous of saints, of His own people, especially the people He loves best. I rememberthat an old Divine says, "It is an awful thing to be one of God's favorites"-I have turned that over in my mind many timesand shuddered at the thought-"for," he says, "God does not deal with all His children on precisely the same rule. There aresome of His people whom He makes more His favorite's than others. He takes them out and makes them His eminent servants, putsthem in the first rank of the battle, and makes them very useful and very serviceable. He is more jealous of them than Heis of any others. He is jealous of all His children, but especially of those children upon whom He has bestowed most of Hisfavors."
You remember the story of the poor king of England? When there had been a rebellion against him and he had put it down, Hepromised that he would give pardon to all who were concerned in it. He had brought to him the list which contained the namesof those whom he was to pardon. He read the name of his son, Richard, and he wept-"Is Richard a rebel?" He read the name ofhis son, Henry, and he wept again-"Is he a rebel?" But he had one favorite son, his son, John, and he saw in the midst ofthe paper the name of his son John as one whom he had to forgive. He forgave him, but it broke his heart and he died. Themore favor there is, the more jealousy there will be. Now, as a Church, we may truly say, not in pride, but in thankfulness,that God has been very gracious to us. He has distinguished us by His Grace. He has caused our candle to shine brightly. Hehas heard our prayers, but He will be very jealous of us if we begin to ascribe the good work to ourselves. If we take anyhonor to ourselves and leave off praying to Him. If our zeal diminishes, if we become lax in our lives, if immoral charactersare tolerated among us, God will be very angry with us and we must expect that though He will not cast away His own people,yet, as a Church, He will take away our beauty and cause it to fade away like the moth! And the fine gold shall become dim,and the Glory shall depart from this portion of His Israel.
Now what is the lesson of all this? It is just this, Brothers and Sisters, that I would stir you up to continue in prayer!To some of you, perhaps, the exhortation is not needed, but to others I am sure it is. Thank God we have many in the churchwho know how to wrestle with God, but, oh, we need more of these! We want not merely to have the few like Gideon's men thatlapped, but we want to have you all among the lappers-to have you all wrestlers with God, all diligent in His service andseeking to extend His Kingdom! Let us be, from this day forward, more prayerful than we have ever been before.