Sermon 3308. Gathering in the Chosen
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, JUNE 27, 1912.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORDS-DAY EVENING, APRIL 29, 1866.
"Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind andthe lame, the woman with child and her that travails with child together; a great company shall return there. They shall comewith weeping, and with supplications I will lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way,wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a Father to Israel, and Ephraim is My first-born." Jeremiah 31:8,9.
THERE IS a wonderful variety in the acts of God and yet there is a most singular uniformity. So complete is this uniformitythat any one deliverance which God works for His people will be found to be, in its main features, just like any other ofHis deliverances.
Starting-for it is a convenient starting-point-with the deliverance of God's people out of Egypt, there are many points ofsimilarity between that marvel of mercy and the bringing back of the banished tribes from Babylon to their own land. Therewas a manifestation of the same gracious consideration, of the same Omnipotent power, of the some efficient purpose workedout in all points according to God's Eternal Covenant. Then, taking another great leap, that return from Babylon is, no doubt,a very fair picture and a very excellent type of the gathering together in their own land of the Jews in the days that areyet to come when they shall say to one another, "Let us go up to the house of our God." Everybody will admit that it willbe as great a wonder to see the Jews, who are now a nation scattered abroad throughout the whole world, once more dwellingtogether in Palestine, as it was for them to have been brought out of Egypt or delivered out of Babylon in days long past!But taking a still greater leap, this again is a type of the greatest of all deliverances-the deliverance neither of the Jewsalone nor of the Gentiles alone, but of the whole chosen company who shall be brought out from all the lands of sin and errorinto which they have been driven by their first parents' fall and their own actual transgressions! They shall be brought outby the same almighty power, only on a far greater scale, and they shall meet, as in a common focus, in that Jerusalem abovewhich is the home of all the chosen! I want to turn your thoughts toward that glorious future when the vast assembly of theredeemed will "sing the Song of Moses, the servant of God, and the Song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are Yourworks, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, You King of saints."
I. And, first, I am going to show you that we have, in the text, DEITY MANIFESTED.
There is a Divine ring about the text as there was in that ancient fiat which startled the darkness and caused it to fleeaway. "Let there be light, and there was light." So here the Lord says, "I will bring them and gather them.. .and they shallcome.. .I will lead them. I will cause them to walk; they shall not stumble." It is, "I will," and, "they shall" all the waythrough! There is no admission of doubt or of the possibility of failure. Jehovah speaks in the Sovereignty of His power andsays, "I will do this, and I will do that," and there is not an, "if," or a, "perhaps," or a "maybe" to mar the certaintyof the Divine Declarations-"I will" and "they shall."
Remember, Beloved, that it was so in Egypt. " Moses and Aaron went in and told Pharaoh, "Thus says the Lord God of Israel,Let My people go, that they may hold a feast unto Me in the wilderness. And Pharaoh said, Who is the Lord, that I should obeyHis voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go." Yet, when the Lord smote his first-born withall the first-born throughout the land of Egypt, "he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up and get you forthfrom among my people, both you and the children of Israel; and go, serve the Lord as you
have said." And when the time came for captive Israel to return from Babylon, God had but to speak and the iron bars snappedin sunder and the gates of brass flew open! So also shall it be in the latter days when the Jews are restored to their ownland. By some mysterious influence which probably many of them will not be able to understand, they will be irresistibly drawnfrom all parts of the earth to Emmanuel's land and, meanwhile, that same Divine Energy is gathering together the chosen untothe great Shiloh, for "unto Him shall the gathering of the people be." Invisible bands of love are continually drawing toChrist those for whom He died. The mighty magnet of His atoning Sacrifice is constantly attracting to Him the members of Hisredeemed family-more in one age than in another, yet always according to the eternal purpose and decree of God-for althoughHe acts mysteriously and silently, yet He always "works all things after the counsel of His own will."
I do not know any theme upon which one might dilate with greater joy than that of the Omnipotent energy of God as displayedin the salvation of sinners, yet it must always be understood that we proclaim this Truth in complete harmony with the responsibilityof man and his absolute free agency. I have always taught you that the Omnipotence of God over the human heart is never exercisedin such a way as to violate the free will of man. It would be a clumsy kind of Omnipotence that would do as it pleased withmen whether they were willing or not! But it is Divine Omnipotence that molds the will, enlightens the judgment and fashionsthe heart and mind and character of man according to the Lord's eternal purpose. Yet, on the other hand, let me beseech younever to let your ideas of the free agency of man prevent you from adoring the Omnipotent Sovereignty of God. We are not tohave man's free will sitting on the throne! Its place is that of a humble servant waiting at Jehovah's feet. Let the gloriousTruth of God that "the Lord reigns" be proclaimed in its fullest sense and let the man who dares to limit the Sovereigntyof God answer for it before Him who, with a rod of iron, would dash in pieces the potter's vessel that presumed to say, "Whyhave you made me thus?" We believe that when the great drama of human history is complete, it will conform in every jot andtittle to the eternal plan that was in the mind of God long before He spoke the great creative word which called the Heavenand the earth into existence!
In the bringing up of Israel out of Babylon there were a great many questions to be considered. Would the king be willingto let them go? Would they themselves be willing to go? By what process could they be ranged under one leader? How could theybe provided for and provisioned for such a long journey? By what means could they be safely conducted through the perils ofthe wilderness? How could they again be settled in a land which had become barren through the curse of God resting upon it?Yet, when the set time came, all these difficulties vanished! As God was in that plan of bringing His people back from Babylon,the king's heart was turned as the husbandman turns the channel of irrigation in the midst of the garden! As God was in it,the Jews sighed and longed to return to Jerusalem! As God was in it, they went back, not like trembling doves flying froma pursuing hawks but like a bannered host returning from the conquest loaded with spoil!
Just so is it with the sinner and the salvation of his soul-there are many questions that he may want to ask. How can prejudicebe subdued? How can ignorance be overcome? How can the stubborn will be controlled? How is it possible for the Ethiopian tochange his skin and the leopard his spots? But, when God comes forth to save, it is as though a man walked through cobwebsand brushed them away from him on either side, or as though a giant stalked through a host of pigmies and made them fly toright or left-
"When He makes bare His arm,
What shall His work withstand?" When He puts forth the fullness of His strength to effect His Divine Purpose, who shall sayto Him, "What are You doing?" Therefore, you ministers of God, be bold, for you serve the Lord God Omnipotent! You servantsof Christ in every sphere, be brave, for you have not espoused a losing cause! Everyone of you, though you may be but littlein the army of the Lord, yet are-
"Strong in the Lord of Hosts, And in His mighty power"-
for His Kingdom cannot be overthrown, it must spread until it fills the whole earth! And God, even our own God, must be exaltedand the praises of His holy name and of His glorious work must go on ringing down the ages forever and ever! II. Now turningto the second point, we see in the text DIFFICULTIES REMOVED.
Difficulties would naturally be suggested by unbelieving minds. It would be said, in the first place, that the people hadgone too far away ever to be gathered. Yet the Lord says, "I will bring them from the north country, and gather
them from the coasts of the earth." There may be at the present time, some of the Lord's chosen far away in Greenland, Labrador,and other lands of snow and ice. There were some, in the olden times, when the Moravian Brethren went forth at God's commandto bring to Christ those who belonged to Him in "the north country." There were also others in the far-away islands of thesouth-cannibals given up to the wildest passions-but Christ had bought them with His precious blood and a sacred instinctcompelled John Williams and many other martyrs and missionaries to go forth to the Apostolic task of turning savages intosaints! It may be that God has many of His chosen ones at the present moment in the center of Africa-and if it is so, theyshall not die before the Gospel has been made known to them and they have been brought to trust in Him who loved them andgave Himself for them! Distance is no distance in the sight of God! He sees all the inhabitants of the globe at a single glanceand His gaze is fixed upon the blood-bought sons and daughters of men wherever these may be dwelling! And He will gather themfrom all the coasts of the earth where their lot has been cast.
And as distance of space is no obstacle to the bestowed of God's mercy, so neither is the distance that is caused by the greatnessof sin. "Now in Christ Jesus you who sometimes were far off are made near by the blood of Christ." There may be one amongthose whom I am now addressing who has gone to the cold "north country" of infidelity, where he stands shivering in the bitingwinds of doubt and skepticism. Ah, but my Friend, God is able to bring you to Himself even from that dreary region! Theremay be some who have gone to the uttermost coasts of sin until they have become masters in iniquity, trafficking upon thebroad sea of transgression and doing business in the deep waters of infamy and perhaps of blasphemy. Ah, but if you are amongthese who were given to Christ, God will gather you sooner or later-even if you have sold yourself to the devil, "your covenantwith death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with Hell shall not stand." If you are, indeed, "bought with a price,"Christ will surely gather you with the rest of His redeemed! By might and main He will make a conquest of you, for, when theLord determines to bring His people to Himself, neither material distance nor moral distance can prevent Him from doing so!
There was also another difficulty-not only were these people in Babylon far away from Jerusalem, but some of them were blind.What did it matter to them where they lived? No landscape, even though it was as grand as that which Moses saw from the topof Pisgah, could have any attraction for them. Even if others go back, shall not the blind be left behind? Of what serviceare the blind? How shall they behold the beauty of the Lord? But the Lord said that He would bring back the blind with theothers from the north country, and from the outcasts of the earth, and we may apply this promise to those who are spirituallyblind. How can you get at a man who will not see his own sin and who will not or cannot see the beauty of God's plan of salvation?How are you to get at those whose eyes are covered with the scales of prejudice? How can you reach the Romanist whose eyesare plastered up with ceremonies and superstitions? How can you convince the work-monger that his own good deeds, of whichhe thinks so much, are blinding him to the beauties of Christ? How can these blind ones be saved? Ah, Beloved, no eye is tooblind for God to pour light into it! And some of us can bear our personal testimony upon this matter. We would never haveknown the Grace of God in truth if that Grace had not come to us in our blind ignorance and enlightened us! May it be so withsome who are here tonight! Is there a very ignorant person here? Well, my dear Friend, do you know that you are a sinner,that you are guilty in the sight of God? Then do you know that Christ Jesus came into the world to save such guilty sinnersas you are? If so, and you put your trust in Him, you are already wise unto salvation however little you may know about othermatters! Learn the great Truth that Christ died in the place of all who believe in Him and you will no longer be numberedamong the spiritually blind!
With those blind people in Babylon there seem to have been some lame folk and an objector might have said, "Surely, if thecaravan is to pass through the desert, it would be better to leave these poor limping ones at home! How can they ever be broughtto Jerusalem?" But the Lord said, "The blind shall be led, and the lame shall be carried, but they must not be left behind."Now, there are some who are morally lame. If ever they enter into life, it will be among the crippled and the maimed. Theyseem as if they could not walk uprightly, there is a limp in their gait. Their knees are weak, they cannot pray as they would.Lame Sinners-are you here tonight? Do you feel as if you cannot get to Christ, and cannot pray, and cannot do anything right?Well, do but cry to Him, "God be merciful to me a sinner!" Turn your eyes to Christ, think of Him as He hung upon the Crossand trust Him to save you, and you shall find that, lame as you are, you shall be brought safely Home! Mr. Ready-to-Halt shallget to Heaven as surely as Mr. Great-Heart himself!
Then there were some others of whom it was said that they could not possibly join the caravan-"the woman with child and herthat travails with child.''" These were certainly unfit to go-they were in such a weak state that they could not take thatlong journey from Babylon to Jerusalem, yet the Lord said, "I will gather them and bring them," and so He did! Well, thereare some like them in our midst tonight, burdened ones who have a load of sin pressing upon them, fainting ones whose soulsare in a sacred travail. They would gladly run, but they cannot even stand! And they are all too apt to fall. But, O you whoare thus soul-distressed, the blessing is that Jesus Christ will not leave you behind! You shall be brought with the restof the chosen seed to the heavenly Jerusalem to praise and magnify your great Deliverer forever and ever!
III. Now in the third place, we have in the text not only Deity manifested, and difficulties removed, but we also have
How shall this great company be brought to the Jerusalem which is above? Listen! There is a mighty host on the march, butI hear no sound of trumpet, no voice of mirth, no song of joy! What do I hear? Weeping, mourning, lamentation-"They shallcome with weeping." That is the music to which sinners usually set out for the heavenly Canaan- seldom if ever is that startmade without tears! It is not the shriek of despair. It is not the groan of disappointment. It is not the yell of rage, andhate. It is the plaintive wail of a soul that says to God, "I have sinned against Heaven and before You, and are no more worthyto be called Your son." From those who compose that throng you may, every now and then, catch such sorrowful sentences asthese, "I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me." "My sorrow is continually before me. For I will declaremy iniquity. I will be sorry for my sins." This is the kind of music that we hear from those who are setting out for Heaven!Have you, my Friend, ever practiced it? You will never sing in Glory if you have never wept over your sin! I do not merelymean such tears as men and women shed, though these will probably not be absent, but I mean that you will experience thatspiritual sorrow which is often too deep for tears. May God the Holy Spirit teach us to weep at the remembrance of our sin,to weep at the foot of the Cross as we look upon Him whom our sins have pierced, and mourn for Him as one mourns for his onlyson and be in bitterness for Him as one that is in bitterness for his first-born!
Listen again! Now I hear another note rising from the great caravan, the note of supplication. It is the hour of prayer. Theyhave got beyond weeping into anxiety, desire, petition, request-and I hear many voices crying, "Save Your people who trustin You. Be merciful unto us, and bless us, and cause Your face to shine upon us." In our day, the supplication takes somesuch form as this, "Reveal Yourself unto us, O Christ, for in You do we put our trust! In Your name have we set up our banners.Come forth, O Lord, as our Helper and Deliverer!" The march is with weeping and supplication-and I believe these two thingswill attend that caravan right up to the brink of Jordan! The last tear will be dropped in Jordan's flowing stream, for weshall sorrow no more and repent no more when we stand before the Eternal Throne of God! And the last prayer-at any rate, thelast prayer that has any sense of sin in it-shall be breathed on the bank of the river which we cross to enter into Glory!
I must next direct your attention to something in our text about the road the caravan has to traverse-"I will cause them towalk by the rivers of waters." They had to pass through a wilderness in going from Egypt to Canaan, and also in returningfrom Babylon. And we, also, have to traverse the wilderness of this world in journeying to the better Promised Land above.But as they had water in abundance on their long marches, we, also, have "the rivers of waters" of Divine Grace and AlmightyLove. When we first began to seek the Lord, we found that one of the channels in which the precious rivers were flowing wasthis precious Bible at which we still quench our spiritual thirst. Then, when we trusted in Jesus, and confessed our faithin Him, we found the two ordinances that He instituted-Believers' Baptism and the Lord's Supper-to be as refreshing to ourspirit as cold water is to the thirsty. I trust that you, Beloved, while sitting under the sound of the Word of God, haveoften been able to drink of the brook by the way. And certainly private prayer and intimate fellowship with God, and, aboveall, the secret and mysterious indwelling of the Holy Spirit have caused you "to walk by the rivers of waters," so that althoughthe earth is in itself arid, "a dry and thirsty land where no water is," you have found that from the foot of the Cross thereflows a living stream from which all the chosen may continue to drink until they come to that "pure river of Water of Life,clear as crystal, proceeding out of the Throne of God and of the
In the description of the caravan route we are next told that it is "a straight way." The path to Heaven is not at all difficultto find. It would be very difficult to find the way to Heaven by the rites and ceremonies about which some are so particular,but to those who trust in Jesus, the way of salvation is a very simple one, so simple that the wayfaring man, though a foolin other things, need not err therein! If any of you are trying to find your way to Heaven by the road of your own good works,you may well be puzzled, for you are off the right track altogether! But the Believer's path is straight and plain. He trustsand he is saved! He looks and he lives! He believes God's Word and he proves that it is true! You know that the way of policy,such as ungodly men often follow in this world, is a very crooked way, and Christians are sometimes tempted to tread thattreacherous path. But that is the slimy way into which the devil led our first parents, and nothing but evil can come to thosewho walk in it! The giving up of the whole heart and soul to Christ is the simple way of being saved-and then yielding completeobedience to Christ is the simple way of living. The Lord's promise is, "I will cause them to walk by the rivers of watersin a straight way"-not in a crooked, twisting, winding, in-and-out way, but in a straight way-the way of faith in Christ andof unquestioning obedience to His commands.
The description of this straight way concludes thus, "Wherein they shall not stumble." It is a good thing to have a straightroad, but it is a better thing to have also a sure foot! And God, who teaches His people to do right, also gives them Graceto do it. These blind ones and lame ones and weak ones of whom I have been speaking, are upheld by Sovereign Grace in thenarrow way in which the Lord is leading them. My eye seems to catch the glorious vision! I see the blind finding their wayto the great center of eternal blessedness. I see the lame come running as though they had wings on their feet to speed themonward to the pearly gates above! I see the vast blood-bought throng, from the North, and the South, and the East, and theWest, casting away, by Divine Grace, all their burden and their cares! And with the fetters of their sins snapped forever,streaming in crowds to the one blessed center-
"Jerusalem the golden, With milk and honey blest"-
where we ourselves expect, by-and-by, to be! Angels and the redeemed from among men must be continually witnessing the arrivalof those who, first chosen by the Father, then redeemed by the Son, then regenerated by the Holy Spirit, have repented ofsin and trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ and by Grace have been preserved in their march through the wilderness and broughtHome to that blessed city from which they shall go no more out forever! Well may we sing-
"O Paradise eternal!
What bliss to enter you,
And once within your portals,
Secure forever be!
In you no sin nor sorrow,
No pain nor death is known-
But pure glad life, enduring
As Heaven's benignant throne!
There all around shall love us,
And we return their love
One band of happy spirits,
One family above."
IV. Now I must close when I have spoken but for a minute upon the last point, which is DIGNITY BESTOWED. "For I am a Fatherto Israel, and Ephraim is My first-born."
Those who are brought out of the bondage of sin, as Israel was brought out of Egypt and Babylon, by the almighty power andGrace of God, are acknowledged by Him as His children. John writes concerning Jesus, "He came unto His own, and His own receivedHim not. But as many as received Him, to them gave Him power (the right, or privilege) to become the sons of God, even tothem that believe on His name." This relationship cannot be disputed and cannot be disturbed-and this is the relationshipwhich exists between God and every pardoned sinner! Happy soul! Though once in the family of Satan and an heir of wrath, youare now a child and an heir of God and a joint-heir with Jesus Christ!
I think there are some here whose mouths are set a-watering for this same blessing and who are longing to be found among theinnumerable multitude who shall be gathered in the heavenly Jerusalem at the last! Well, if you truly desire to
be the Lord's, that is a sign and token that the Lord also desires to have you as His child! That is a true declaration inone of our hymns-
"No sinner can be beforehand with You."
If you really desire to have God as your God, and Christ as your Savior, God desires it, too, and Christ desires it. If youare willing to be saved, do not imagine that Christ is unwilling to save you! If you are coming to Christ, Christ is comingto you. No, He HAS come to you, or you would never want to come to Him! "Only believe." These are Christ's words to you now-believethat He is able to save you through the merit of His atoning Sacrifice and through the prevalence of His intercession beforeHis Father's Throne above. Trust Him! Trust Him to save you now, and then you also shall be among the redeemed of the Lordwho shall return and come with singing unto Zion! Everlasting joy shall be upon your head! You shall obtain gladness and joy-andsorrow and mourning shall flee away from you forever!
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: JEREMIAH31:1-28.
Verse 1. At the same time, says the LORD, willIbe the God ofall the families ofIsrael, and theyshall be Mypeople. How divinelyHe talks-as only God can talk! These people had rejected Him, yet He says, "They shall be My people," not only some of them,but all of them! "I will be the God of all the families of Israel." Behold the wonderful power of Divine Grace upon the heartsof rebellious sinners. There are no "ifs," and no, "buts," here! It is, "I will" and, "they shall." God knows how to workout His own purposes of love and mercy!
2. Thus says the Lord, The people which were left of the sword found Grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went tocause him to rest If we ever do get true rest of soul, God must cause us to rest. As David said, "He makes me to lie downin green pastures." The rest of the heart is a miracle of Divine Power!
3. The LORD has appeared of old unto me, saying, Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love: therefore with
loving kindness have I drawn you. [See Sermons #1914, Volume 32-SECRET DRAWINGS GRACIOUSLY EXPLAINED; #2149, Volume 36- EVERLASTINGLOVE REVEALED and #2880, Volume 50-NEW TOKENS OF ANCIENT LOVE.] There is the source of everything that is good and gracious-"everlasting love." When God has once set that love upon His people, anything and everything that is for their good may comeout of it! All temporal good and all eternal blessings will come out of everlasting love. Oh, that we might, each one of us,have Grace to appropriate these blessed words to himself-"I have loved you with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn you." They were given to Israel of old, but the spiritual Israel possess all the privileges of the naturalIsrael, and much more.
4. Again I will build you, and you shall be built Whatever God does is done effectually-there is never any failure in Hiswork.
4. O virgin ofIsrael: you shall again be adorned with your tabrets, and shall go forth in the dances of them that make merry.They had wept and mourned, but they were to dance! They had been very sad and disconsolate, but they were to take down theirharps from the willows, and even to have their tabrets or timbrels again.
5. You shall yet plant vines upon the mountain of Samaria: the planters shall plant, and shall eat them as common things.God makes the luxuries of Grace to be common things to His people. Fare that once seemed so rare as to be enjoyed only onhigh days and holidays shall become everyday meat to His people when their Lord reveals Himself to them!
6. For there shall be a day that the watchmen upon the MountEphraim shall cry, Arise you, andlet usgo up to Zion unto theLORD our God. For many a year Israel had gone to Bethel to worship the calves, or stayed at home to adore the shrine of Ashtaroth.Now they were to go to Zion to serve Jehovah! See what the Grace of God can do even for idolaters? If any of us have beenbowing down to our idols, may we this day turn to the living God! May the power of His Grace lead us to go heartily and unanimouslyto worship the Lord our God.
7. 8. For thus says the LORD; Sing with gladness, for Jacob, andshout among the chief ofthe nations: publish you, praise you,and say, O LORD, save Your people, the remnant ofIsrael. Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather themfrom the coasts ofthe earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travails with child together:a great company shall return there. Whatever God does, He does thoroughly. When He shall restore His ancient people, He willnot leave the weak ones behind and if, today, we are enjoying His Presence, the most
afflicted and the most infirm among us shall know what the joy of the Lord means! The Lord grant it, and we will praise Hisholy name.
9. They shall come with weeping, and with supplications I will lead them.Weeping and prayer go well together. There is noprayer like a wet prayer saturated with the tears of repentance.
9. I will cause them to walk by the rivers of water in a straight way--Hear this, you mourners! God will supply your needwith rivers of waters, and He will make you walk in a straight way. Sometimes we are perplexed because the road seems to windin and out like a labyrinth, but God can lead us in a straight way! "I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters ina straight way"-
9. Wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a Father to Israel and Ephraim is My first-born. They had forgotten their relationshipto Jehovah, but He still remembered that they were His children.
10, 11. Hear the word of the LORD, O you nations, and declare it in the isles afar off and say He that scattered Israel willgather him and keep him as a shepherd does his flock. For the LORD has redeemed Jacob and ransomed him from the hand of himthat was stronger than he. They were the Lord's chosen people even when they were in captivity in Babylon! He had scatteredthem because of their sin, but He would gather them in His mercy.
12-14. Therefore they shall come and bring in the height of Zion and shall flow together to the goodness of the LORD, forwheat and for wine and for oil, and for the young ofthe flock and ofthe herd: and their soul shall be as a wa-teredgarden;and they shallnot sorrow any more at all. Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance both young men and old together: forI will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them and make them rejoice from their sorrow. And I will satiate thesoul ofthe priests with fatness, and Mypeople shall be satisfied with My goodness says the LORD. What a blessed change thiswas for those who had sorrowfully cried, "How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?" And we rejoice in a stillgreater change when the Lord brings us into spiritual liberty!
15-17. Thus says the LORD, A voice was heardin Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping, for her children refusedto be comforted, for her children, because they were not. Thus says the LORD; Refrain your voice from weeping, and your eyesfrom tears: for your work shall be rewarded says the LORD; and they shall come again from the land ofthe enemy. And thereis hope in your end, says the LORD, that your children shall come again to their own border A mother's sorrow over her lostbabies is very great and long-enduring, but if she is a Christian, she shall meet them again in the land of the blessed, andshall be parted from them no more forever.
18. I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus. [See Sermons #743, Volume 13-ephraim bemoaning himself and #2104,
Volume 35-THE INNER SIDE OF CONVERSION.] What a wonderfully expressive word that word, "bemoaning," is!
18, 19. You have chastised me and I was chastised as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn You me, and I shall be turned;for You are the LORD my God. Surely after that I was turned I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh:I was ashamed, yes, even confounded because I did bear the reproach of my youth. Hear what the Lord says about these bemoaningones, these sin-loathing ones-
20. Is Ephraim My dear son? Is he a pleasant child? Or we may render it, "Is this Ephraim, My dear son? Is this My pleasantchild?" He is all that now that he begins to hate his sin!
20. For since Ispoke against him, I do earnestly remember him still Think of this, you who forget your God, you backsliders,wanderers from your Father's house!
20, 21. Therefore My heart is troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him, says the LORD. Set you up way marks, makeyou high heaps. Raise signs along the road at various points to let other travelers know the way in which they should go.
21, 22. Setyour heart toward the highway, even the way which you went: turn again, O virgin ofIsrael, turn again to theseyour cities. How long will you go about, O you backsliding daughter? for the LORD has created a new thing in the earth, Awoman shall compass a man. Whereas the enemy had compassed Jerusalem round about, now Jerusalem was to be the besieger, andto compass her enemies and defeat them. Some interpreters think this is an allusion to the birth of the Savior, that "newthing in the earth"-the Incarnation of the Son of God.
23-25. Thus says the LORD ofHosts, the God ofIsrael; Asyet theyshall use this speech in the land of Judah andin the citiesthereof, when I shall bring again their captivity; The LORD bless you, O habitation of justice, and mountain of holiness.And there shall dwell in Judah itself, and in all the cities thereof together, husbandmen, and they that go forth with flocks.For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul. This prophecy is to be fulfilled in the restorationof Israel to Palestine. Until that happens, the promise bears a spiritual meaning to all the children of God. O weary Soul,you shall be satiated-that is more than being satisfied! You shall have as much of holiness and joy as you can hold! PleadHis promise now, O sorrowful Soul, and may God fulfill it to you!
26. Upon this I awaked, and beheld; and my sleep was sweet unto me. Well might it be. Poor Jeremiah, who so often wept overthe woes of Israel, was the very man to be refreshed when he heard from God that He would visit His people in mercy, and bringthem back to their own land! Happy dreamer, who dreams such a blessed dream as this, a dream that came true in due time!
27-28. Behold, the days come, says the LORD, that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man,and with the seed of beast. And it shall come to pass, that like as I have watched over them, to pluck up, and to break down,and to throw down, and to destroy, and to afflict; so will I watch over them, to build, and to plant, says the LORD. Whata black list of words we first have here! God's way of dealing with His people when they wander away from Him is very stern.They must be brought back, but it will be over a very rough road. The Lord says that He "watched over them, to pluck up, andto break down, and to throw down, and to destroy, and to afflict." And in the same measure He now declares that He will watchover them to do them good. As our tribulations abound, so also shall our consolations abound by Christ Jesus! If you havebeen bitterly convicted of sin, you shall be sweetly convicted of pardon. The deeper God digs the foundation, the higher Hemeans to build the house. Those who are brought to Him in great affliction very often afterwards know more of Christ and moreof the love of God than any others!