By Henry Mahan
Someone said, 'God has hedged us about on the one side with his promises of mercy lest we despair, and he has hedged us about on the other side with warnings lest we presume.' John Newton could sing,
'Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me;'
and he also wrote,
''Tis a point I long to know,
oft it gives me anxious thought;
do I love the Lord or not,
am I his or am I not?'
The Apostle Paul urged all believers to 'Examine yourselves whether you be in the faith.' Peter wrote, 'Give diligence to make your calling and election sure.' What and who is the believer's hope? When we think upon our beginning in Adam's transgressions, of our nature of sin, and our inability to think or do anything pleasing to God, how can we entertain a blessed hope of eternal life and glory? Jeremiah sets forth our hope as it always has been, is now, and ever shall be. Our hope is in our redeemer!
vv. 1-18. As one reads these lamentations of Jeremiah before the Holy God of Heaven, he comes to the same conclusion as Jeremiah in Verse 18, 'My strength and my hope is perished from the Lord:' or as Isaiah said when he saw the Lord in his holiness and himself in his uncleanness, 'I am cut-off, there is no strength or hope in me.'
vv. 19-20. When I remember or call to mind my afflictions, my misery, and the corruption of my nature and flesh, my soul is humbled and bowed down within me. There is no way that a man who has seen God in his holiness and the law of God in its perfect requirements can look within himself or at his works and find any comfort or hope. A true sight of self in the presence of God can only convict us, humble us, and crush us.
v. 21. 'This I recall to mind.' What? My works? No! His grace! What? My sins and misery? No! His love and mercy! Jeremiah has looked within and can only grieve: but now he looks to Christ, and he shouts, 'Therefore I have hope!'
vv. 22-26. This blessed hope is six-fold:
1. 'It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed.' In David's psalm of repentance (Psalm 51), he does not ask for justice but for mercy. 'Have MERCY upon me, O God.' He said in Psalm 51:4 that God would be just to condemn him. In Psalm 130 the same theme is repeated, 'If God should mark iniquity, none shall stand; but with the Lord there is forgiveness and mercy.' Mercy is totally undeserved (Eph. 2:1-4), mercy is sovereign (Rom. 9:15-16), mercy is in Christ (Titus 3:5-7). We deserve condemnation, our hope is that God will be merciful to us in Christ.
2. 'His compassions fail not. They are new every morning.' God is love, and his love for his people shall never fail. His love is of old and everlasting; yet it is so fresh that it is new every morning. We are such unloving and unlovely creatures that it is difficult for us to comprehend the love of God in Christ for his elect.
Love begins with God. We did not love God but rather hated him, yet he loved us (1 John 4:10, 19).
His love is unchanging (Mal. 3:6; Rom. 8:38-39).
His love is infinite (John 3:16; John 15:12-13).
Nothing I have done caused God to love me, and nothing that I have done or will do will make God cease to love me. This is our hope!
3. 'Great is God's faithfulness.' We hear much preaching that exhorts us to be faithful stewards of the grace of God, faithful givers, faithful in worship, prayer, and holiness; but our hope of life and glory is not in our faithfulness but in his faithfulness! We will be faithful by his grace and because he has given us a new heart which desires to walk with him; but even when we fail, fall, and falter, he is faithful.
God is faithful to himself and his word (Num. 23:19; Isa. 46:9-11).
God is faithful to his covenant (Rom. 8:29-31; Jer. 32:38-40).
God is faithful to his Son (John 6:37-39; John 17:1-3, 24).
This was David's comfort when he lay dying, not in his faith, his works, nor his service, but in God's faithfulness to his covenant (2 Sam. 23:5).
4. 'The Lord is my portion, therefore I will hope in him.' Aaron is a picture of the believer in this matter (Num. 18:20). 'The Lord said unto Aaron, thou shalt have no inheritance or any part among them; I am your portion and your inheritance.' As our father, husband, brother, and friend, he has undertaken our total care spiritually and physically and materially. He is our portion, part, and inheritance (1 Cor. 1:30; Matt. 6:31-34). If the Lord indeed by his own choice and by God-given faith is my portion, therefore will I hope in him.
5. 'The Lord is good to them that wait for him, to the soul that seeks him.' Do you suppose there could ever be found one who sincerely waited upon God, sought his mercy in Christ, and called upon him for mercy who did not receive his grace? God forbid! 'I sought the Lord, and then I knew that it was he that sought me: I waited and found the Lord, and afterward I knew that it was he who found me.' He is eternally good and gracious to all who call upon him, for in Christ he purposed to be. This is our hope--The Lord is good!
6. 'We hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.' These five words are also the hope Jonah expressed from the belly of the fish (Jonah 2:9): 'Salvation is of the Lord.' We rejoice in his mercy, his love, his faithfulness, his sufficiency, and his goodness; but in these five words the whole of the matter is summed up: 'Salvation is of the Lord.' This is the believer's hope. It is of the Lord in its planning, its execution, its application, its sustaining power, and in its ultimate perfection (Psalm 65:4).