Sermon 2975. Forgetting God
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 1906.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY MORNING, SEPTEMBER 9, 1876.
"Therefore have they forgotten Me." Hosea 13:6.
Our text reminds us that God does take notice of what men do, or of what they do not do. Here He complains-and there is akind of mournful plaintiveness about His words-"Therefore have they forgotten Me." It is not a matter of indifference to Godwhether men remember Him or not. It seemed to be a subject of surprise to David that God should think of man, for He wrote,"When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars which You have ordained, what is man, thatYou are mindful of him?" Yet God is mindful of man and it grieves Him that man is not mindful of Him! It would not disturbour minds if one tiny ant should forget or ignore us, yet we did not create it, and we have not the claims upon it that Godhas upon us. Yet, little though we are-and so insignificant that the ant, itself, is a great thing in comparison with us ifwe reckon what we are in comparison with God-it seems that He does want us to remember Him, to think of Him and to trust,love and serve Him. And when we do not, He is vexed and grieved. At least, speaking after the manner of men, we are taughtto believe that it pains Him at His heart, so that He cries out by the mouth of His servant, the Prophet, "They have forgottenMe-their Maker, their best Friend and their greatest Helper."
I am afraid, dear Friends, that the accusation in our text may be brought against a very large number of us. Certainly itcan be laid to the charge of all those who have lived without thinking of God and who have never turned to Him with repentanceand faith and who, consequently, are still strangers to Him. How many such people there are, God alone can accurately compute!The great mass of our fellow creatures would come under that category. But, worst of all, among the Lord's own people thereare, alas, some against whom this accusation can be brought! They have forgotten their God-not absolutely, so as to be utterlyand altogether like the thoughtless sinner-yet very sadly and grievously, so that God, Himself, complains of them, "They haveforgotten Me." For, mark you, if God observes what ordinary men do, much more does He take notice of what His own people do!An unkind word from a stranger may have a very slight effect upon us, but if such a word should come from the lips of onewhom we love it would cut us to the quick! We could put up with a thousand things from those who are mere acquaintances, butfrom a beloved child, or from the wife of our bosom-such a thing would be very hard to bear. Remember, O Christian, that ancientdeclaration, "The Lord your God is a jealous God." Because He loves us so much, He is in that very proportion, jealous, forthe greatest jealousy grows out of limitless love. And the Lord our God who bought us with the heart's blood of His dear Son,counts us so dear to Him that a wandering thought in our mind becomes a crime against Him-and the giving up of any part ofour heart to love of the world, or of self, or sin, or Satan, or any other of His rivals-becomes to Him a cause of grief andsadness. If there are any children of God here-and I fear there may be many-who have grown cold in heart and who have wanderedfrom the Lord, I hope the text will come like a lament from Him who hung upon the Cross of Calvary, "Therefore have they forgottenMe. Therefore have they forgotten Me."
I. I am going to call your attention, first, to THE TIME WHEN THIS SIN WAS COMMITTED. "Therefore," says the Lord, "have theyforgotten Me." When was that? If we ascertain that, we shall also find out when we ought to be most upon our guard againstfalling into a similar sin.
It appears, dear Friends, to have been when the Israelites had come out of the wilderness into Canaan-when they had escapedfrom troubles and had come into an easy condition, for so the context reads-"I did know you in the
wilderness, in the land of great drought. According to their pasture, so were they filled; they were filled, and their heartwas exalted; therefore have they forgotten Me." It is a very sorrowful fact that in this case the greater God's goodness wasto His people, the less was their gratitude to Him-just in proportion as He was kind to them, they were cold to Him. Thesepeople had been delivered from excessive toil. In Egypt they had been a nation of slaves. And in the wilderness they had beenfor 40 years pilgrims with weary feet. They seldom tarried long in any place, but backwards and forwards across that "wastehowling wilderness" they marched almost continuously. And concerning all that time, God says, "I did know you in the wilderness."He knew them, morning by morning, as the manna fell. He knew them when the quails came on swift wings to bring them fleshto eat. He knew them when the morning and evening lambs were offered in sacrifice for them, sinners as they were all the whilethey were in the wilderness, and He says, "I did know you then." So, Brothers and Sisters, it has happened to some men thatwhen they have had hard times, long hours and stern labor, they have managed to be up in the morning early to get a quietseason of communion with God and, though they scarcely could have been thought capable of doing it, for they worked so hard,yet they could find leisure to teach a few children in the Sunday school, or to distribute tracts, or to speak a word forChrist at an open-air service! They had very hard bondage in their daily occupation, yet whenever there was a weeknight service,they always managed to get there. They were very apt out of sheer weariness because they had been toiling so hard during theday, to fall asleep when they sat down in the pew-still, they said that half a loaf was better than no bread-and they wereglad to get a message from any of the Lord's servants in those trying days.
But, dear Friends, you remember that in due time the children of Israel came to Canaan. Then there was no more marching toand fro in the wilderness for them! They found houses built ready for them to occupy and they could sit, every man, underhis own vine and under his own fig tree-and then it was that the Lord said, "They were filled, and their heart was exalted,thereforehave they forgotten Me." It is just the same with the man who used to come to the House of God Sundays and weeknights,though he was sorely weary with his heavy work. He now has what men call, "an easy berth," and has very little to do, so,being no longer a poor galley slave tugging at the oar, you might have thought that he would have given more time to God'sservice and have become one of the most industrious Christians living! But instead he does not do as much, now, as he usedto do with the little bits of time which his hard toil allowed him! Ah, Brothers, when you get into smooth and easy places,then is the time when you should be most anxious, lest of you, as of the Israelites, the Lord should have to say, "Thereforehave they forgotten Me." I would gladly wish for every one of you that you may be able to earn your daily bread without anyexcessive labor. I would that every man who has to toil beyond due and reasonable hours, were delivered from such semi-slavery.Yet I know that there are many who make an ill use of any leisure that they get and some who are not nearly as fervent inthe cause of God, now that they have leisure, as they used to be before they were so privileged!
These Israelites, also, were now delivered from the pressure of urgent needs. At the very beginning of their wilderness journey,they had to go for three days without water. "And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, forthey were bitter." They cried to Moses, "What shall we drink?" And he cried to the Lord and soon the bitter waters were madesweet. Before long, they had eaten up all that they had brought with them out of the land of Egypt-and they murmured, again,and then the Lord gave them a daily supply of manna-their bread dropped from the sky morning by morning! But now that theyhave got into Canaan, that have broad fields that are very fruitful, they reap abundant harvests, their barns are full tobursting and the hillsides are clad with vines, olive trees, fig trees and all manner of dainties! Instead of having to gatherone day's food at a time, they have many months' supplies laid up in store. Some of them became very rich but, alas, it wasof them that the Lord had to say, "According to their pasture, so were they filled...therefore have they forgotten Me." Yousurely have known or heard of men and women who have loved the Lord when in poverty-or, at least, who have seemed to do so-andwho were very fervent and active while they had to look up to the Lord from day to day and pray, "Give us this day our dailybread." But, in the order of God's Providential dealings, they have been lifted up into another station in life. You wouldnaturally have supposed that they would have loved the Lord more and have done more for His cause-and laid themselves outwith a greater willingness for His service-but, instead of that, it has been the very reverse with them! When they were financiallypoor, they were spiritually rich-but now that they are financially rich, they are spiritually poor! As they have gone up temporally,they have gone down spiritually. Their barn has become full, but their heart has become empty! Their wine press has
overflowed, but the joy of the Lord has departed from them. It is a sad, sad thing wherever this happens. Sadly, some of usknow that it often happens. Let it not be so with any of you, Beloved.
Then, again, these Israelites had become very self-indulgent They enjoyed themselves and lived only for pleasure. And theydespised everybody who would not or could not do the same. Being "rich and increased with goods," they looked down upon thosewho were not rich and, worse than that, they began to forget their God. O my Brothers and Sisters, I have often looked uponthem who have been in sore trouble and I have wished that, by some magic touch, I could lift the daughters of sorrow out oftheir sad state! But I have lived long enough to feel that if I could do it, I would deliberately stay my hand until I hadconsulted with Infinite Wisdom to know whether it would be for their good or not. If it were in my power to lift the crossfrom every Brother and every Sister's shoulders here and to give all of you your heart's desire, I would not do so, howevermuch I might feel prompted to do it! As I often see how the plant that bloomed in the shade is burnt up in the sunshine-andhow some natures have never yielded the sweetest perfume except in grief's sad dripping-well-when I perceive that some ofGod's saints never seem to honor Him when they are lifted up into high places-I feel that you and I had better be satisfiedto let the Lord put His people wherever He pleases and keep them on "short commons," sometimes, and even chasten them everymorning, as the Psalmist says was done to him. Perhaps some of them, if the Lord did not make them cry every morning, wouldmake themselves cry twice as much before night-and if He did not afflict them, they would very soon bring far worse afflictionsupon themselves by falling into some great sin.
I think I know the reason why God does not trust some of us with the bright eyes and the elastic step which He bestows uponothers. I think I can see why He does not give some of us more prominent positions in His Church and greater influence amongthe works for Him. I think I can tell why that Sister is lame and that Brother is blind-why that one hangs her harp upon thewillows and that other toils amid continual poverty. It is because God will not risk all His ships on the roughest sea. Hehas constructed some of His vessels so that they can stand the storm-and these He sends away into the thick of the tempest-butHis little ships He keeps nearer the shore. Some of His seamen see less of His wonders in the deep because they are not ableto bear the sight as others can. I think it is so and, certainly, this is true- that seasons of prosperity, of any sort, areseasons of great trial to Christians. According to our text, it was at the time of their prosperity that the Israelites forgottheir God.
II. Now, secondly, let me indicate THE PROGRESS OF THIS EVIL WHENEVER IT HAPPENS TO A MAN.
It has happened that some men have lived all their lives forgetting God. It may be that some of you who are here at this servicehave never really thought of God-you have forgotten all about Him. A gentleman was walking down a country road one Sabbathmorning and he met a man with a cartload of hay. He was asked by the man who was driving the cart whether he had seen twolads on in front. "Yes," said the gentleman, "I have, and I think they are the boys of a father with a short memory, are theynot?" He said he did not know whether it was so or not, but they were his lads. "Well," said the gentleman, "I thought thatyou were their father and that you had a short memory, for you do not seem to have recollected that there is a text of Scripturewhich says, 'Remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy.'" That short memory concerning the Sabbath affects a great many peopleconcerning everything else that is good. Some of you, I fear, have such short memories that you have never even recollectedthe God who made you. You have eaten just as the cattle eat and you have drunk as they drink-but you have never blessed theGiver of the unnumbered mercies that you have received-any more than the cattle have done! Some of you go on from morningto night without any recognition of God. There are hundreds of men who might be compared-as Rowland Hill did once comparethem-to hogs under an oak. "They eat the acorns," he said, "but they never look up and thank the oak." They live in this worldand feed upon the bounties which God has provided for them, yet they have no thought of Him! It is His air that they breatheand it is by His power that they exhale the air-they could not exist for a single moment if it were not for Him-yet He isnot in any of their thoughts! If God were blotted out of the universe-if such a thing could be, that He should no longer exist,but that they could still exist-they certainly would not be grieved. Possibly they would feel all the easier in their mindbecause there would be no judgment to come and no punishment for all their evil.
Ah, my Friend, you must be in a very bad plight if you think you can get on better without God than with Him! If your boywere to say concerning you, "I wish I might never see my father again"-if that little child who eats at your table every day,whom you clothed but the other day with new garments-if he were to say, "I never want to speak to my father again-I wish hewere dead!"-there must be something radically wrong in that child! His morals must be thoroughly bad. Even if nobody has everfound him out in deceiving or lying, I am sure, from that one fact, that he is a bad boy. Now, my Friend, even if I cannotpoint to any sinful act of yours, I am sure that there must be something very wrong with you if you have lived in this worldall these years without thinking of God!
If I am invited to go and stay with a friend in the country and I simply see his beautiful park and his fine gardens, andindoors I have all that I need in the way of refreshment during the day and a comfortable bed at night, but my host neverputs in an appearance-and I do not know whether he is anywhere about the premises-I do not enjoy my visit. I came down tosee him, so I cannot be content with seeing his park and his gardens, and so on. I say to the servants, "Where is your master?I came down here to pay a visit to him and I cannot find any pleasure here unless I see him." And, dear Friends, I feel justlike that with regard to my God. When I look at this beautiful world which He has made-and it is a beautiful world, afterall, let who will speak against it-I always feel that I need to see Him who made it. Even our lovely gardens which seem tome to be a thousand times more beautiful than all the vineyards of the Continent, would give me no pleasure in looking atthem unless I could always realize that God is there. The sea itself-the wide and open sea- what is it if there is no Godto rule its waves and to speak in its storms? I must see traces of God in everything that happens! But some of you have livedall this while and God's cry concerning you-over hill and dale, up and down the street, in the house where you live, acrossthe table at which you eat, and over the pillow on which you sleep-is, "They have forgotten Me. I have made them, kept themalive and blessed them in a thousand ways, yet they have forgotten Me!-Me, of whom they ought first to have thought, for itwas essential with them that they should first have thought of Me-and through not thinking of Me, they have bred within themselvesall manner of evil." O unconverted people, I wish you could put yourselves in God's place for a few minutes and just thinkhow you would feel if others had treated you as you have treated Him! Let the sharp arrows of conviction stick fast in yourconscience as you realize that you have acted in a mean, dastardly, ungenerous, ungrateful way towards your God-the tender,loving, gracious Creator, Preserver and Friend of men!
But, now, turning to you Christian people, I want to ask of the progress of this evil in you. I will show you how it oftenworks. When God prospers you in business, takes away sickness and removes causes of sorrow, it sometimes happens that theevil of forgetting God begins with an almost imperceptible alienation of heart from Him. You do not notice it. You would bevery grieved if you did, but your heart begins to grow cold and the love to your Lord that once burned in your soul is notas fervent as it used to be. And this condition of spirit very speedily shows itself in increasing fondness for worldly things.To have riches may be a blessing to you, but for the riches to have youwill be a great curse to you. There are some who haveabundance of temporal things given to them and they make a good use of them, so they may be thankful for them. But there areothers who are carried away by these temporal things which thus become the source of all sorts of calamities. A man may havea fine house and a beautiful garden and he may be thankful for them- so far, so good-but he may fall into the sin of makinga Heaven of that house and garden-and so they will be the cause of sin. He may be wealthy and that will be a good thing ifhe uses his money rightly. But, by-and-by, he may begin to feel that the one thing worth living for is to have money-and thatwill be an evil. If you have acquired a certain amount of money and you feel that you are a person of importance simply becauseyou have so much wealth, you are putting earthly things into the place which God alone should occupy. As old Master Brookssays, it is as when a husband, whose wife used to dote upon him, has given her rings, chains and other ornaments-and now thatshe has them, she dotes over them and forgets him! It is very sad when this is the case and it is often so with some who professto be the Lord's. If we accept His gifts as tokens of love from Him and see Him in them, than they are helpful and not hurtful.But when we get to thinking of them, and not of Him, then they become mischievous to us.
This is an evil which continually grows, for this man who is beginning to mind earthly things, keeps on indulging himself.He takes more of what he calls pleasure than he used to do and, indulging himself thus, he gets into a wrong state for prayer,for searching the Bible, for attending the means of Grace. And the more he enjoys this world, the less does he think of thenext world. As the things that are seen eat like a canker into him, the things that are unseen seem to lose their power overhim. If he still attends the place where he went before to hear the Gospel, he says that the minister does not preach as heused to do, and the singing is not as lively as it used to be. Other Christian people say that they cannot see any differenceat all, but he can. You know, dear Friends, what is very often the difference between one dinner and another. It is not thefault of the cook-it is the need of an appetite. Here are some Brothers and Sisters who have lost
their spiritual appetite. They cannot eat this and they cannot eat that, and they cannot eat the other. They have lost theirappetite, that is the reason. "To the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet," says Solomon, but this man, who has prosperedin the world and has had much enjoyment in it, is now beginning to lose all relish even for those very spiritual things thatwere once the delight of his soul! So he begins to drop off coming to the House of God and gradually declines, first a littlein this way, and then in that. He has more money, now, than he used to have, so it takes him a longer time to count it. Hehas more business than he used to have and it takes more time to look after it. He cannot come to weeknight services and if,on the Lord's-Day, for appearance sake, he does not cease going to the place of prayer, he carries his ledger with him inhis carriage-metaphorically, if not literally! There is many a man who comes into his pew with acres of land hanging to hisboots. And there is many a woman who sits there in a fine new dress-not only the one she has on, but the other one that isto be made up on Monday!
It is sad when worldly things then get into the soul and come right into God's House. Why, the preacher himself knows whatit is to find a thousand distracting thoughts come to his mind while he is addressing you! And, therefore, he knows that theymust come to your minds while you are listening to the Word of the Lord. Thus it happens that in one thing after another,the love of God and His Word withers-and the love of the world grows. By-and-by, family prayer gets pushed into a corner-veryshort and not very sweet. And private prayer hardly knows where to find a place for the sole of its feet. Private prayer,as there are none but yourselves to note its observance, is a very convenient place for retrenchment. You want to save time,as you have so much to do and, therefore, you snip off a piece here, and another piece there, and who but God is the wiser?You do not perceive any very great difference, for your conscience is getting seared. So, by degrees, a Christian who is decliningin spiritual things, gives up private prayer-not altogether, perhaps, but the sweetness and the enjoyment of it depart ashe trifles with it, instead of entering into the holy exercise with all his heart and soul.
In some professing Christians, this declension goes still further. At last they give up all religious profession. I wonderwhether there are any here who once declared and probably believed that he was a Christian, but who has now given up eventhe name of Christian? If so, my Friend, one of two things is true concerning you-either you never were converted at all,and so have been a mere professor, or else, if you ever were truly converted, you will have to come back. As surely as everthe Lord looked upon you with an eye of love, you must come back to Him, for, after He has once set His seal upon you, Hecannot and will not let you go! Oh, that you would come back to Him now! You will have to come back, poor wandering sheep,for you belong to the Good Shepherd who will not lose one of His flock! Wayward as you are, He will have you with Him andif you will not come back to Him when He calls you, He has some rough dogs that will worry you back! But back from the pathsof sin you must come-and I pray God that you may come back right speedily and so once more enjoy the blessings of peace withHim! I sometimes pass persons who used to sit in these pews and who were, I thought, ardent Christians. Even now some of themhave respect for me, but I fear that they have none for my Master. If I get anywhere near them, they slink away, for fearI should speak to them. I wish they had as much anxiety about the grief they have caused my Lord as they have about any griefthey may have caused me. May God grant, through His Sovereign Grace, that all of us who have professed to be His, may be preserved,lest-
"When any turn from Zion's way (Alas, what numbers do!)"- we also should turn away, as we shall certainly do unless His Graceshall hold us fast!
III. Now, thirdly, and very briefly, a few words about THE PECULIAR EVIL OF THIS SAD CONDITION-
"They have forgotten Me"
It is so grossly ungratefulthat every Christian who realizes that he is apt to slide into such a condition should, at oncebestir himself and watch against it. What? Shall I love the Lord less because He gives me more? Shall I set the gifts whichHis goodness bestows upon me, upon His Throne and let them be idols to deprive Him of my heart's love and worship? If I dothis, surely I shall be worse than the brute beasts! God grant, dear Brothers and Sisters, that we may be ashamed of sucha condition as this and flee from it!
Remember that if any of us do begin to set our hearts upon the things of this world, whatever we gain, we must be losers.The man who has scarcely a rag to cover him, but who delights in God, may be the beau idealof a happy man. But the man whois robed in purple and who calls an empire his own-and who has forgotten his God-is to me the model
of misery mocked by majesty! God save you from being able to delight yourselves in anything but your God! May He put so muchbitterness into every other cup that you will be compelled to take the cup of salvation and, calling upon the name of theLord, to drink only of that! You will be dreadful and eternal losers, whatever else you gain, if you lose the
If you forget God, you who are indeed His children-and I am speaking only to such people just now-it is a terrible thing foryou to be led into a condition in which you forget your Heavenly Father. If there were a wife who was very poor, but who,as long as she was poor, clung to her husband and found all her delight in his love, but who, when they became rich, no longercared for him, it would be wretched riches that could burn away her heart from him who ought to possess it all! If I lovemy brother and find great comfort in fellowship with him, but I should suddenly get to be so great that I should not knowmy brother-what a miserable being I would be! Many a man does not know his own relations when he begins to get rich. He thinkshe is somebody of importance, but really he is a big nobody-a very great and dreadful nobody! And when a man, just becauseGod prospers him, does not know Jesus Christ, his great elder Brother, and gets to be ashamed of mixing with God's poor peoplewho go to the little Ebenezer Chapel or of being seen with those poor commonplace sort of Christians who try to follow theLamb where ever He goes-he is a poor, poor specimen of a man, much less of a Christian! God give us minds and hearts quickenedby His Grace, that will enable us to live above all such meanness as that!
A sad part of the wretchedness of this condition is that it involves so much trifling with God. If we have forgotten God,dear Brothers and Sisters, we have forgotten the many deliverances we have had in the days that are past. We have forgottenthe wiping away of our tears of sorrow. Worse still, we have forgotten the precious blood of Jesus that spoke peace to oursoul. And we have forgotten the Holy Spirit who came into our hearts and gave us joy and rest in Jesus Christ. And if we haveforgotten God, we have forgotten His gracious promises which are yet to be fulfilled, and the glorious Covenant of His Grace,ordered in all things and sure, on which our hopes of Heaven are based! We have also forgotten His claims upon us-forgottenthat we are His children, His beloved, His elect, His redeemed! We have forgotten all that and we are living in such a conditionthat we are trifling even with His threats! He has threatened that He will chasten us and we seem to make light of His threatsand to defy His chastisements. We must have gotten into a state that is piteous and lamentable to the last degree if we canlive from day to day in forgetfulness of God!
IV. I will say no more about this sad decline, but finish my discourse by telling you HOW THIS EVIL CAN BE CURED.
If any of us, Brothers and Sisters in Christ, are suffering from this dreadful decline, it is a good help towards its beingcured when we see the mischief of it. When a man has this sad condition pointed out to him and the Spirit of God enables himto see it, that is a great help towards lifting him out of it. But I think that the best thing for us all to do is, just forthe moment, to sink all differences and not ask any questions about whether we are saints or sinners-whether we ever did lovethe Lord, or whether we did not-and let us all go straight away to the Cross, just as if we had never gone there before. Bynature, and by practice, too, we are all guilty and we all deserve to be cast into Hell-the best of us as well as the worst.So let us all go where the Savior carried the great load of sin upon Himself and bore the consequences that He might set usfree from it forever. Let us look up to Him and, by faith, view the flowing of the blood from those many wounds that He receivedon our behalf. Let us look into that dear face of His-the image of matchless misery and majesty combined! Let us note thecrown of thorns and the marks of ignominy and shame that cruel men put upon Him. Let us hear Him cry, "My God, My God, whyhave You forsaken Me?" And, as we see Him die, let us believe in Him again, or believe in Him for the first time.
My Savior, my Redeemer, wherever I may have wandered, I come back to You. My soul believes in You, trusts You, hangs all herhopes for time and eternity upon You. Will You not speak peace and pardon to my guilty spirit? Ah, if you come to Him withsuch a confession and cry as this, you will get your love back. The best place to get it back is the place where it was born.It was born at the Cross and you will get it back if you go to the Cross, just as you went at first, and stand there, withthis as your soul's confession of faith-
"I the chief of sinners am, But Jesus died for me."
I cannot say more except just this-if God is prospering you, keep very close to the Cross. Do you not see that if the richeryou get and the more often you go to the Cross, it will be safe for you to be trusted with wealth? Take care to sanctify everythingthat God gives you by giving Him His proper portion and do not use your own portion till you have given Him His. Then, ifyou look at every blessing as coming to you by the way of the Cross, and say, "Jesus Christ has sent me this, for-
"'There's never a gift His hand bestows But cost His heart a groan'"-
if you receive everything as throughHim and then desire to use everything forHim, you may be as rich as the Rothschilds andyet you may be as gracious as the Apostle Paul! You might have all the world given you, and yet, for all that, it would nothurt you. If you had as much of God as you had of gold, God would see that the gold was safe in your hands. He would trustus with prosperity if He saw that all our prosperity only bound us more closely and more completely to the Cross of His dearSon. So, if any of you have forgotten Him, conclude this evening's service by coming to the Cross. And thus Father, Son andHoly Spirit shall get glory from you. May it be so, for Christ's sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: HOSEA 13:1-9.
Hosea was full of complaints against the people of God, for in his day they had very sadly wandered from the Lord. They hadeven forgotten Him. In Hosea's prophecy we have the plaintive voice of a loving God chiding His backsliding children.
Hosea 13:1. When Ephraim spoke trembling, he exalted himself in Israel, but when he offended in Baal, he died. A modest, humble, tremblingheart is often by far the sounder heart, but when we begin to sin and to sin boastfully, and to wrap ourselves about withthe robe of self-complacency, then is death very near to us! "When Ephraim spoke trembling, he exalted himself in Israel;but when he offended in Baal, he died."
2. And now they sin more and more, and have made them molten images of their silver, and idols according to their own understanding,all of it the word of the craftsmen: they say of them, let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves. When Jeroboam became kingof the new Kingdom of Israel-in order to prevent his subjects from going to Jerusalem to worship God in Solomon's temple-hestarted two shrines at Dan and Bethel and there he set up what Holy Scripture calls in derision, "calves." I suppose thathis idea was to make images of a bull, the emblem of power, intending them to be the symbol of the Divine Being and that thepeople still intended to worship God, but to worship Him under the image of a bull. It is the same in Roman Catholicism tothis day-the worship of God, the worship of Christ, by means of crucifixes, and emblems and symbols of various kinds. Butwhen men once begin that kind of idolatry, there is no knowing where they will stop, for the worship of God through the mediumof symbols soon grows into the worship of other gods, saints, "blessed virgins" and I know not what besides! They are prettysure to be set up when once people begin to make use of outward and visible emblems of the Deity. So it was with these ancientIsraelites. From worshipping the bull, which was meant to be a type of the Omnipotent God, they went on to the worshippingof "molten images of their silver and idols according to their own understanding." Brothers and Sisters, let us take warningfrom these idolaters and always keep to the simplicity of worship ordained by God in His Word. However comely and beautiful,or grand and imposing and, consequently, fascinating, any form of idolatry may be to some minds, let us utterly despise itif it is not according to the mind of God and the teaching of His Spirit as revealed in His Word.
3. Therefore they shall be as the morning cloud, and as the early dew that passes away, as the chaff that is driven with thewhirlwind out of the floor, and as the smoke out of the chimney. Those who will have gods of their own making shall have buta brief enjoyment of them. He who truly worships the Everlasting God shall have an everlasting blessing! But he who worshipsgods that he has made himself-mere objects of this mortal day-shall have but a short day of it. He shall be as the early dewwhich glistens brightly, but is soon gone-or as the morning cloud which is banished by the rising of the sun.
4. 5. Yet I am the LORD your God from the land ofEgypt, and you shall know no god but Me: for there is no Savior beside Me.I did know you in the wilderness, in the land of great drought. The Israelites drew near to God when
they needed bread and water in the wilderness. God says, "I did know you in the wilderness, in the land of great drought."And the Lord might say to His people nowadays, "I did know you when you were very sick, when you were very poor, when youwere in great trouble. You sought Me then-how is it that you are trying to do without Me now?"
6-8. According to their pasture, so were they filled; they were filled, and their heart was exalted, therefore have they forgottenMe. Therefore I will be unto them as a lion: as a leopard by the way will I observe them: I will meet them as a bear thatis bereaved of her whelps, and will tear open the rib cage of their heart, and there will I devour them like a lion: the wildbeast shall tear them. When men forget God they may expect that they will meet with some terrible judgments. And especiallyGod's own people will find this to be the case with them if they forget the Lord. Our God is a very jealous God and when Hischildren will set their hearts on other objects instead of upon Him, He will take care to embitter those objects of theiraffection to them-He will make their idols to be loathed by them. If God did not love us very much, He would think littleof our faults, but just because He loves us so much, He cannot bear that any part of our heart's affection should go awayfrom Him. So, if He sees that we deal unfaithfully with Him, He will make us realize that sin is an exceedingly evil and bitterthing. His anger against us will be like that of a bear that is robbed of her whelps, or of a lion or leopard leaping uponhis prey.
9. O Israel, you have destroyed yourself: but in Me is your help. "You have gone away from Me, but I will bring you back again.You have destroyed yourself by your sin, but I will restore you to My favor by My Grace. You may look within yourself forcauses of repentance, but you must not look to yourself for the means of restoration. You must look to Me, your Savior andyour God." So this verse teaches us "O Israel, you have destroyed yourself, but in Me is your