Sermon 2928. Sham Conversion
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, MARCH 23, 1905.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, DECEMBER 10, 1876.
"And so it was at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they feared not the LORD: therefore the LORRD sent lions amongthem, which slew some of them. They feared the LORRD and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations from whichthey were carried away. Unto this day they continue practicing the same rituals: they fear not the LORRD." 2 Kings 17:25,33,34.
THE world is full of deceptions and counterfeits. We have had to protect ourselves by law against adulterations of the mostcommon articles of food, but all the laws in the world will not be able to protect us against the constant, the almost universaldeceit which is found in daily life. Men seem continually to be set on making the worse appear the better-putting the bitterfor the sweet and the sweet for the bitter. If any man shall go through this world with his eyes shut, believing all thathe hears, he will find himself the dupe of a thousand knaves. You must keep your eyes open-you must carry a test with youby which you shall be able to discern between things that differ, or else in the ordinary affairs of life you will soon bebrought to bankruptcy and poverty.
In the highest regions, also, where we have to do with spiritual and eternal things, there are even worse cheats than anywhereelse! That old enemy of God and man who is rightly said to be a liar from the beginning, takes care to use falsehood in order,if it were possible, to deceive even the very elect. If there is a Christ, he sets up an antichrist. If there is a Churchof Christ, he makes a world's church that shall mimic it. If there is a Gospel, he, too, comes with his good news and setsup "another gospel, which is not another." In the matters which concern the inner man-in the work of the Holy Spirit uponthe soul-Satan is also adept at deception there. He can imitate repentance with remorse. He can match faith with credulity.He can mimic assurance with presumption. He can give us the pleasures of this world instead of the joy of the Lord and, insteadof a simple confidence in Christ, he can offer us that which may look remarkably like it, and yet, after all, be confidencein self. Hence, one of the very first things that a man has to do if he would be right at last is to search his own heart,to test and try that which he supposes to be there whether it is the work of God or not- whether his spot is the spot of God'schildren or only a vile imitation of it.
Conversion which is absolutely necessary to salvation-conversion by which man turns from sin to righteousness, from self toChrist, from the world to Heaven, from rebellion to obedience-conversion which we must all experience if we are to be righttowards God, for, "except you are converted and become as little children you shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven"-conversion,too, has been mimicked in many ways. In this discourse we are going to look at one instance in which the false has been putfor the true in order that by the light of that instance, as by a beacon, we may be warned off this dangerous rock! Anotherman's shipwreck ought always to be a beacon to us-so where these Samaritans failed, let us take heed unto ourselves lest wefall after the same fashion.
We shall have three points which will follow the order of the narrative. We shall look, first, at their first estate- "Theyfeared not the Lord." Secondly, their sham conversion-"They feared the Lord and served their own gods." Thirdly, their realstate while they professed thus to be converted-"They feared not the Lord."
I. First, then, let us observe these Samaritans in THEIR FIRST ESTATE. They were brought, very likely much against their will,from different parts of the Assyrian empire and they were put down as colonists in the various towns which had formerly beenoccupied by the tribes of Israel. There they were compelled to dwell. They do not appear to have had any reverence for Godat all. They were wholly indifferent ''They feared not the Lord." They scarcely knew His
name and they seem to have made no inquiries. They found that the land was good and they tilled it. The vines were fruitfuland they pruned them. The houses were built and they inhabited them. And thus they settled down. What did it matter to themabout Jehovah? Who was He and what was He? No doubt there had been a people living there who more or less had reverenced Hisname, but what was that to them? They were strangers. It had never crossed their mind that they should be interfered withat all in the matter of worshipping Jehovah and so they lived altogether carelessly and indifferently. How many there arethat are doing the same today-many who are altogether thoughtless about Divine things, taken up with trifles-occupied onlywith the things of this life. It does not seem to enter into their heads that they are immortal-that they will have to livein another state. As to their having a Creator and One who daily preserves them in life, no doubt they believe it, but theyare not concerned about it! Practically they say, "Who is the Lord that we should obey His voice?" That was the conditionof these Samaritans at the first. They were altogether indifferent to the matter. It never troubled them at all.
They had no fear of God. They may have heard of some that trembled at Jehovah, but they never trembled. Perhaps they heardthat He was a God whose worship was very troublesome, whose laws were very strict, whose subjects often had to mourn becausethey rebelled and, therefore, they did not want to know too much about Him lest they should be drawn into the same exerciseof heart and have to confess the same sins and fall into the same sorrows. They knew not and they did not want to know. Theywere not troubled.
I should not wonder that when they began to hear something about Him, they even ridiculed Jehovah Had not their gods overcomethe God of the land? Had they not taken possession of these fair cities? Had not the hosts of Assyria scattered, like cloudsbefore the wind, all the companies that the men of Israel could bring against them? So they would have a sneer for the Israelitesand the men of Judah-and for their God and their worship. Any religion they had only went as far as to lead them to despisethe only true religion and to meet it with jest and sarcasm. That was all. "They feared not the Lord."
Yet there was this point. They had come to live near a people that did fear the Lord, for at that time the people of Judahwere, in a great measure, right towards the Lord God of Hosts. Hezekiah, I suppose, was then upon the throne-a king who inall things walked before the Lord and sought to uphold, in singleness of heart, the worship of the one only God. These strangerscoming into the neighborhood where the ancient faith of God's people prevailed must have found it dangerous to their indifferenceand perilous to their skepticism and their false belief. So have I known men without religion or the fear of God, or any respectwhatever for Divine things, who have been brought, in the order of Providence, into a society where there have been true pietyand fervent religion. That always means trouble for their impiety and disturbance for their indifference. They receive somesparks from that fire into their souls and who knows whether the sparks may not light a fire that will burn down the woodand the hay and the stubble that are within their spirits? It ought to be a very hard thing for a man to live near us, mydear Brothers and Sisters, and to remain indifferent to religion. The preacher ought to preach so that it shall be almostan impossibility for his hearer to be altogether careless. You Christian people should set such an example in your householdsthat it shall be next door to an impossibility for son or daughter or servant to remain at peace while they remain out ofGod and out of Christ in a state of sin! These people feared not the Lord, but the point that would be sure to bring themdifficulty was that they had come near to the people of Judah that didfear God-near to a commonwealth that was presided overby Hezekiah, who feared the Lord with all his heart and all his soul!
II. Now, secondly, we come to THEIR CONVERSION. In the 33rd verse we read, "They feared the Lord," but there is a very ugly,"and," after it which shows that it was a sham conversion! "They feared the Lord and served their own gods." Still, it wasa sort of conversion-it meant, at any rate, an outward change.
How came it about? If you read the chapter, as we have done just now, [See Exposition i mmediately following this sermon.]you will find that their conversion was caused entirely by terror The country had been devastated. War had raged all overit for years. The cities and villages had become uninhabited and, consequently, the wild beasts had come down from the mountainsand had so multiplied that lions became a terror throughout the land! Imagining that every country had a different god, thesepeople said, "The god of the land must have sent these lions among us." Yes. And the sacred writer does not hesitate to saythat God didsend the lions among them, for even common things which can be readily accounted for in the order of Nature must,nevertheless, be ascribed to God. He did send lions among them and it was these lions
that converted them! Their teeth and fangs and fiery eyes and the thunders of their roars converted them. They must have agod to deliver them! They could not bear the lions, therefore they must fear the Lord who could send lions and who, perhaps,would cease to send them.
Now, dear Friends, always be somewhat diffident of your own conversion if you can trace it only and solely to motives of terror.Here is one man who never would have feared God if disease had not come into the house, if a child had not died. Then anotherand another-it seemed as if they would all sicken-and so he became religious. Another went into business and, for a while,he was very prosperous, but the tide turned and he lost his money. Bankruptcy stared him in the face. He made a second effort,only to fail again, and then he seemed to feel as if the lions were out against him, so he turned religious! Another had seenhis children grow up and, having trained them for the world they went to the world-his son almost broke his heart! His daughterso acted as well near to bring his gray hairs with sorrow to the grave! Everything seemed to go badly with him and so he saidhe would go to church or go to the meeting or something. He turned religious because the lions were out! Still another whohad been a very healthy, strong man, and had never thought about religion at all-he had an "accident," he had a fit, or hewas attacked with a disease of which he had been warned that in all probability it would be fatal, by-and-by, and there didnot seem any cure for it. He got worse and worse, and so, well, he thought he would be religious!
There was something sensible in the resolution-no, it was a most proper resolution had it been but carried out rightly andin the way of the Truth of God. But you see, in all these cases there was no sense of having done wrong. There was no desireto do right. It was the lions, the lions, the lions, the lions! If there had been no lions, there would have been no religion!If there had been no lions, there would have been no seeking the Lord. If there had been no lions, there would have been noneeding to know the manner of the god of the land. Such men have no desire after God, nothing of the kind! The thing thatdrives them is just that awful lion-the dread of death is upon them and the dread of something after death, the judgment tocome-nothing else. Now some are really brought to God by terrors, but many are only brought into a condition of sham conversion-theroot of their religion has been nothing else but the lions.
Now, notice that their conversion was attended with ignorance. What little sincerity there was-and there was a measure ofsincerity-was, nevertheless, dimmed by lack of knowledge. Its eyes were put out by an utter ignorance. They did not reallyknow God at all. They looked on Jehovah as if He were but the same as the gods of Cuth and Ava and Sepharvaim, as if He werea petty god of that district, too powerful for them to dare to withstand-nothing more than that. They did not want to knowHim, you notice, for their request to the king of Assyria was not that they might know about God, but that they might know"the manner" of the god of the land. Yes, and there are lots of people who when they desire conversion, wish only to knowthe manner of the people who are converted. What way ought a religious man behave? What is needed to satisfy outward decencies?What are the sacraments? What are the doctrines? Their thought is altogether of externals. They only want to know the mannerof the god of the land!
When a man is really awakened by the Holy Spirit, his cry is, "I will arise and go to my Father!" But when it is not the Spiritof God, but only fear which awakens him, his cry is, "I will arise and hide in my Father's house. I need to get into somesecret chamber of His abode." The desire is not for God, Himself, you see, not for Himself, but for His "manner." I know manywho are converted this way-converted to a profession, converted to a creed, converted to sacraments, to forms. But as theLord lives, you must be turned to God, Himself, or else you are not turned aright! Ignorance of God is a fatal ignorance!Not to know Him or to seek to know Him, but only to know the manner and the mode of worshipping Him is a poor desire. Yetmany rest satisfied with that and nothing more.
Further, these people were not only led to their conversion by fear-not only was their conversion marred by ignorance-butprobably they were instructed by an unfaithful priest The king of Assyria sent them one of the priests that he might teachthem the religion. One of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Bethel and taught them howthey should fear the Lord. It looks very suspicious, that dwelling in Bethel I suspect he taught them worship of the calvesof Bethel-and you know that the worshippers of the calves of Bethel were the Romanists of that day, just as the pure worshippersof God in Judah were the Protestants of the day. The worshippers of the calves of Bethel did not, perhaps, worship the calves-theyworshipped God under the image of an ox and they said that image of an ox signifies power and strength. "So we do not worshipit," they would have said, "we worship God in
it." They were symbol-users-worshippers of emblems-and this priest was one of them! Well it is a poor conversion which ishelped on by a blinded priest.
O Brothers and Sisters, take heed howyou hear and take heed whatyou hear! We ought not to entrust ourselves to every personwho professes to be a spiritual instructor. "Try the spirits whether they are of God." I will give you one good test-see whetherthey search and probe you. Rest assured that the Lord has not sent those that speak smooth words and never trouble your conscienceor make you search yourselves! "If you take forth the precious from the vile, you shall be as My mouth," says the Lord toHis Prophets-but not otherwise. So this man came and he taught them, I dare say, in his own easy way. He would say, "Well,my dear fellows, you see you have all got your own gods and I am no sectarian, so as long as you worship the true God I donot mind. You may worship Nergal and Ashima and Tartak and Adrammelech and all the rest of them whenever you like. I am teachingyou, you see, this is to be the recognized State religion for the present time and I will teach it to you. But do not afflictyourselves too much-it will be all right." That is the way these got converted. No wonder that they came over so easily seeingthey had such a nice comforting minister who never troubled them at all about any vital change!
Being thus converted they adopted a good many outward ceremonies. "So they feared the Lord, and made unto themselves of thelowest of them priests of their high places, which sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places." They went in fordoing the thing thoroughly. As it was a matter of form, when they had found out how to do it-why, they would do it! One priestwould not be enough-they would make a great many and they made as many as ever they could get! And as the lowest of the landwould probably be the cheapest, they selected them! Men generally have an eye to business even in these things. They set towork worshipping on every high hill though God had said that He was to have sacrifices offered nowhere but at Jerusalem. Hewould have one altar but they took every high place and consecrated it, and they began with great form and pomp and show togo in for the worship of Jehovah. Generally the more show the less reality-and it was so in this case.
You see, then, that this conversion, though it looked very fine, was radically unsound. Let me emphasize the reasons for this.
It was so, first, because there was no repentance. You do not find these people confessing that they had been wrong in worshipping,every man, his own god. They are quite willing to worship Jehovah, to have sacrifices and do the right thing, but as to anyconfession of sin making the place a Bochim-a place of weeping, because they had transgressed against the only living andtrue God-there is not a word of it! Now, my Hearer, let me speak to you about your own conversion. If you have skipped thefirst page of the book, namely, repentance, go back and begin again, for that faith which has a dry eye and never wept forsin is not the faith of God's elect! There must be repentance! It is an essential Grace-no man is truly saved who has nota hatred of the sin he loved before and who has not made a confession of it before God with an earnest prayer for pardon.
Notice again, these converts had no expiatory sacrifice. The true Believer-the man of Judah-had a Day of Atonement once everyyear and there were great sacrifice of sin-offerings whenever there had been special sin. But there is no mention of trespass-offeringor sin-offering among the colonists-they had no sacrifice, no blood of expiation. Ah, Sirs, that religion that does not beginwith the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ is a religion that will soon come to an end-and the sooner it comes to the end the better,that you may begin again on a surer foundation! A religion without the blood of Christ in it is a lifeless religion. A religionwithout the Atonement and reconciliation by the blood of the Covenant has missed the most essential part of true godliness!There was a radical unsoundness in the conversion of these people, for there was no repentance and no sacrifice.
Moreover, there was no putting away of the false gods. They did not mind worshipping Jehovah, but every man also worshippedhis own god. This is not a true nor worthy service. "I will trust Christ," says one. Yes, and you mean to trust your baptismalregeneration too! That is a false god. You will serve God, but you must indulge some secret sin! That is another false godwhich cannot be tolerated. If we are converted to God, we must take the hammer and smash the idols! Dagon and Nergal and Adrammelechmust not stand in the same temple where stands Jehovah's Ark. All the false gods can live comfortably together, but when theliving God comes, He is a jealous God and they must all fall before Him. You worship not God at all if you do not worshipGod alone! There must be an image-breaking in the soul if the conversion is really true. There was none of it here.
In fact, there was no love to God'n these Samaritans. They were afraid of the lions, but their hearts did not go out to theGod who could deliver them from the lions.
I wonder whether I could pick out any characters among those present who are like that-some of the Samaritan breed who aretrying the fear of the Lord and serving other gods? I have known a man of this kind. He came to a place of worship and ifhe had been allowed, he would have joined the church and come to the Communion Table. At the same time he was a great worshipperof Bacchus-a great lover of what he called, "a little drop," though I question whether you could not have made a very considerablenumber of drops out of what he took! I was speaking the other day to a clergyman who said that there was a man in his parishwho told him that he did not know how it was, but he never felt more spiritually minded than when he had had four or fiveglasses of beer. There are people of that sort about. They fear the Lord and they serve their own gods. Only think of sucha thing as a Christian drunk! Can there be such a thing? Your common sense shall answer-I need not.
I have also known such a thing as this-a man-such an excellent man! His guinea was always ready for the cause of God. He hada very prominent pew and was very well known in connection with religion, but if you had known that he had a second housebeside his own, and known the way in which he lived, you would have held him up to execration. Yet he dared to come into theHouse of God and if he did not actually unite himself with the church, he was prominently identified with it. At the sametime he was living in the lusts of the flesh and professing to be a servant of God-fearing the Lord-keeping a bit of religion,because he was afraid of the lions-that was all. And all the while he was worshipping his own god as well.
You know the thing is also done in business. There is a man who can sing a hymn most beautifully and he can pray in the PrayerMeeting. But he can prey upon you as well. His mode of business is such that he takes advantage, cheats and sails wonderfullynear the wind-yet he has the name of being a very good man. He is a religious scoundrel! Oh, that God would save our churchesfrom this kind of people who are to be met with so often! The lions make them fear God. They are such cowards that they mustbe religious and yet all this while they are worshipping other gods.
I have known a woman, too-I think I may truthfully say a woman in this instance-and she has been, oh, such a dear Christiansoul, only there was nobody's character safe within seven miles of her tongue-she was always ready to slander the characterof the best that lived! She was a slandering saint, a gossiping mother in Israel. God save us from such!
I cannot describe all the characters that may be suggested by those Samaritans, nor am I intending to hit anybody I know tobe here just now, but if I do, I pray you take the cap and wear it and keep it on until it does not fit you any longer! Althoughyou smile, these inconsistencies are very serious matters and, what is more, they are very common matters. Sham conversionis a thing that may be met with all over the world. Oh, we have got it on a large scale in this "Christian" England of ourswhich fears the Lord and yet sells opium! Fears the Lord and is the most drunken nation under Heaven! God save us from suchnational hypocrisy! God also save us from similar hypocrisy on a minor scale in all ranks and classes and conditions of menwho attempt to fear the Lord and to serve their own gods! Such double religion will not run! It is no use-it will not work.If God is God, serve Him. And if the devil is your god, serve him! But the attempt to join the two together will never succeed,either in this world or in that which is to come!
Such is the pattern of the sham conversion which these people experienced.
III. Now, lastly, we have got before us THEIR REAL STATE AND GOD'S VERDICT UPON IT. He says, "They feared not the Lord."
No, they insulted the Lord. They did not fear Him. The men who worshipped God and worshipped Baal, worshipped God and Adrammelechwere impiously daring! The Lord's claim is that He, only, is God, and He would have us know that the gods of the heathensare not gods. Our God made the Heavens, but as for these-they are the work of men's hands! One of the Roman emperors was willingto put up a statue of Christ in the Pantheon among all the rest of the gods and there were some who thought that that showeda kindly spirit. But what an insult to set up Christ by the side of lustful Jupiter and infamous Venus-and all the rest ofthese horrible gods which were only fit for a reformatory, the very best of them! And for the Samaritans to mention the nameof Jehovah side by side with those cruel, bestial gods which they worshipped was not to do Him honor, but was to insult Hissacred majesty! Even so, Sirs, to try and keep religion and yet to keep your sins is not to fear God but to insult Him! "Untothe wicked God says, What have you to do to declare My statutes or that you should take My Covenant in your mouth?" Keep clearof such trickery! If you must sin, do not add to your sins this needless and unnecessary one of making a hypocritical pretenseof fearing the living God! Save yourself that superfluity of evil.
These people did not fear God for they did not really obey Him. Obey Him? Why, had they obeyed Him, they would have brokentheir gods to pieces at once! But no, they only wanted to know "the manner" of the God. They were willing to fall in withthat, but as to really asking what His mind and will were-and being willing to do it-that was foreign to them. Therefore theyfeared not God.
They were not in Covenant relation with God, as were the Israelites. They were under His old Covenant of Works, but they werenot under the Covenant of Grace, neither did they know anything of it. God had not brought them up out of Egypt with a highhand and an outstretched arm. He had never redeemed them by blood and set them apart to be His people. They did not know anythingabout that. There are multitudes of professed converts to religion today who know nothing about the Covenant of Grace-nothingabout Redemption by blood! They cannot sing the song of Moses and of the Lamb. No, they simply keep an outward ceremonialobservance of the manner of the God of the land and they are content with that, but into the very vitals of religion theyhave not come, therefore they fear not God.
These people soon acted so as to prove this. You know what they did a few years afterwards when God had brought back His servant,Ezra, together with a company of people to begin to build the Temple. These persons first of all came and said that they wouldlike to join in the work. But, Ezra and Nehemiah looked at them very sternly and said, "We have nothing to do with you. Youcannot trace your pedigree to Abraham. You do not belong to the Covenant seed. You know nothing about it. Go about your business."Then these people showed the old spirit-they wrote letters to the various kings that were then in authority and so the buildingof the Temple was stopped several times. And they even tried afterwards to attack the people of Jerusalem and put an end tothe building of the Temple. There are no people in the world that turn out, generally, to be such haters of real religionand of genuine Christianity as those people who are scared into a nominal religion by the lions and yet are abiding in theirsins!
When the Methodists first began to preach, you know what an outcry there was against them. The great and heinous crime thatthey were committing was that they were insisting upon regeneration and upon holy lives. So crowds of people all over youcountry said, "Why, we are as religious as people can be! It is true we drink and we do all sorts of things, but you reallycannot set up anything like a pure and perfect church in the world. To talk of that is mere cant, you know. There cannot besuch a thing! We cannot all be consistent in our profession and there cannot be anybody that always is-it is all lies andhypocrisy to suppose that any people can be holy or can walk only in the fear of God!" And so they began to pelt the pioneerMethodists with mud and to put them in prison and to oppose them in all sorts of ways. I say it again, it is Ishmael thathates Isaac because though he is not in the line of succession, he is very near akin to him and comes of the same parents.There is no enmity like the enmity of the Samaritan to the Jew-no enmity like that of the mere moralist or the mere hypocriticalprofessor to the man that has vital godliness, that has received the Grace of God into his soul!
Perhaps you will think that I have spoken somewhat severely, but I have spoken to myself as well as to you with this earnestdesire that we may be right before the living God. There are many of us here that profess to be Christians. Are we reallyso? Have we real faith in Christ? Does our life prove that it is the living faith-the faith that produces good works? Brethren,if we are, indeed, what we say we are, we have only one God. All other aims, objectives and designs are secondary. We seekfirst the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. If we are, indeed, Christians, we have broken a great many idols, we havestill some more to break and we must keep the hammer going till they are all broken-
"The dearest idol I have known, Whatever that idol be, Help me to tear it from Your throne And worship only Thee."
If we are real Christians, we have one only trust-we hang all our weight on Jesus, and all other trusts have been flung tothe bats and the moles long ago! If we are really the servants of God, we are trying to get rid of sin! We are not harboringany lust or any false way. Though we are not perfect, yet we want to be, we long to be! There is not a willful sin that wewould keep. God helping us, we desire to steer clear of everything that is contrary to His holy mind. May God grant us
this thoroughness, this depth of sincerity, this real change of heart-that we be not among the Samaritan trimmers, but thatof us it may to said, "Behold an Israelite, indeed, in whom is no guile." God bless you for Christ's sake. Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: EXODUS 20:1-17; 2 KINGS 17:23-41.
Exodus 20:1-3. And Godspoke all these words saying, I am the LORDyour God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt; out of the house ofbondage. You shall have no other gods before Me. God is the only God and no other object of worship is to be tolerated fora moment!
4-6. You shall not make unto you any engraved image, or any likeness of anything that is in Heaven above, or that is in theearth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: You shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them: for I theLORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generationof them that hate Me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me and keep My commandments. Here we are forbiddento worship God under any similitude whatever. The First Commandment forbids the worship of another god. The Second strictlyforbids us to worship anything which our eyes can see, under the pretense that we are thereby worshipping God. This is anotheroffense and much more common than the First-and it is often pleaded-"Oh, we do not worship these things! We worship God whomthese represent." But here it strictly forbidden to representGod under any form or substance whatever and to make that anobject of worship.
7. You shallnot take the name of the LORDyour Godin vain; for the LORD shallnot holdhim guiltless that takes His name in vain.A reverence for the very name of God is demanded and all things that are connected with His worship are to be kept sacred.
8-11. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shallyou labor, and do all the work; but the seventh day is theSabbath of the LORD your God: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your maidservant, noryour manservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within the gates: for in six days the LORD made Heaven and earth,the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.It is good for us that we make the Sabbath a day of rest-a day of holy worship-a day of drawing near unto God. Thus far, wehave the first table, containing the duties towards God. The rest inscribed on the second table are our duties towards man.
12-14. Honor your father and your mother: that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God gives you. Youshallnot kill You shallnot commit adultery. These Commandments take a far wider sweep than the mere words. "You shall notkill" includes the doing of anything by which life may be shortened as well as taken away. It includes anger-every evil wishand every malicious passion. And, "You shall not commit adultery" includes every form of unchastity and impurity.
15-17. You shall not steal You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor You shall not covet your neighbor's house,you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything thatis your neighbor's. It was the Tenth Commandment that convicted the Apostle Paul, for he says, "I had not known sin exceptthe Law had said "You shall not covet." When men break the other commandments they often break this one first.
2 Kings 17:23, 24. So was Israel carried away out of their own hand to Assyria this day. And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon,and from Cuthah, and from Ava and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of thechildren of Israel: and they possessed Samaria and dwelt in the cities thereof It was a part of the tactics of the Assyrianempire to take people away from their original location and colonize them in other places-to shift them to another land sothat while the Israelites were taken to Babylon, numbers of those who had lived round about Babylon were brought to live inthe Samaritan province in order that nationalities might thus be broken down and patriotism might expire-thus making it easierfor the Assyrian tyrant to govern the land.
25-27. And so it was at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they feared not the LORD: therefore the LORD sent lionsamong them, which slew some of them. Then they spoke to the king of Assyria, saying, The nations which you have removed andplaced in the cities of Samaria know not the manner of the God of the land: therefore He has sent lions among them, and, beholdthey slay them, because they know not the manner of the God of the land. Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying Carrythere one of the priests whom you brought from there; and let them go and dwell there, and let him teach in the manner ofthe God of the land. He did not care one single farthing himself what religion they were of, but if they did not happen tohave a religion to suit the country, "Well, then, send one of the priests who used to live there who can teach them what itis." According to his notions, they could take it up just when they liked.
28-31. Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Bethel, and taught them how theyshould fear the LORD. Howbeit every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places which theSamaritans had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt and the men of Babylon made Succothbenoth, and the menof Cuth made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made Ashima, and the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burnt theirchildren in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim. It would answer no practical purpose if I were toexplain the meaning of the names of these various gods. They were some of them of brute forms. Their worship was generallyattended with the most lascivious rites and especially the worship of Molech or Moloch, who is mentioned under two differentforms here. He was a god whose worship was consummated with the most dreadful cruelties, for children were passed throughthe fires and burnt in his honor.
32-38. So they feared the LORD, and made unto themselves of the lowest of them priests of the high places, which sacrificedfor them in the houses of the high places. They feared the LORD, and served their own gods after the manner of the nationswhom they carried away from there. Unto this day they continue practicing the same rituals: they fear not the LORD, neitherdo they follow the statutes, or follow the ordinances of the law and commandment which the LORD commanded the children ofJacob, whom He named Israel, with whom the LORD had made a Covenant, and charged them, saying, You shall not fear other gods,nor bow yourselves to them, nor serve them nor sacrifice to them but the LORD, who brought you up out of the land of Egyptwith great power and a stretched out arm, Him shall you fear, and Him shall you worship, and to Him shall you do sacrifice.And the statues, and the ordinances, and the laws and the commandment, which He wrote for you, you shall observe to do forevermoreand you shall not fear other gods. And the Covenant that I have made with you, you shall not forget; neither shall you fearother gods. How this warning comes over and over and over again! "Hear, O Israel. The Lord your God is one God." The worshipof anything else under any pretext whatever, besides the one ever-blessed Trinity in unity is forever forbidden to us!
39-41. But the LORD your God you shall fear, and He shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies. Howbeit they didnot listen, but they did their former manner. So these nations feared the LORD and served their engraved images, both theirchildren, and their children's children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day. Trying, as far us ever they could,to link the old idolatries with the worship of the true God, which thing is the most loathsome in the sight of the Most High.