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Light and Truth: The Old Testament: Chapter 66 - God's Desire to Bless the Sinner

By Horatius Bonar

      "Woe unto thee, O Jerusalem! wilt than not be made clean ? when shall it once be ?" -- Jeremiah 13:27

      WITHOUT dwelling on Jerusalem and her apostasy, which this verse specially brings before us, we pass at once to the application of the words to man in general.

      I. Man's uncleanness. The uncleanness here spoken of is spiritual, and refers specially to unfaithfulness to God,--the soul's lust and lewdness, its preference for another husband, and its desire for another love than that of God. It was with this spiritual adultery that God so often charged Israel and Jerusalem; it is with this he charges the church; and with this the whole race. We are unfaithful to God!

      (1.) In heart. It was meant that he should have the first place there; he has the last, if any place at all. He is shut out from our love. We love others, but not God; the world, but not God; friends, but not God; money, but not God. O man, thy heart is false to God; unfaithful in all its movements.

      (2.) In life. As is the heart, so is the life; as is the inner, so is the outer man. God is not in our life. He is excluded from every part; thrust into a corner. Life is devoted to other objects. It is false to him. Word, deed, plan, behaviour, business, education; life in all its movements, life in all its enjoyments, is false to God.

      (3.) In religion. A man's religion is often the most untrue and hollow part of his life. In it he is more false to God than in any other of his actings. In religion he professedly comes nearest to God; yet in it he is often farthest away. In it he is like Jerusalem committing spiritual adultery,--worshipping false gods, while pretending to worship the true.

      Such is man in relation to God! All falsehood, unfaithfulness, lewdness. There is no part clean.

      II. God's desire that we should be clean. He desireth truth in the inward parts. He is faithful to us, and he wishes us to be faithful to him. God is not indifferent to our unfaithfulness, as if it mattered not to him. Nor does he treat it as a mere affront, or only as a sin, with which he is angry and which he condemns and will avenge. He wants our heart, our whole undivided heart; he wants it all for himself; he wants to fill it. He is a jealous God. Moreover he pities us because of the misery which our unfaithfulness brings on us. He sees us gaining nothing, but losing everything by it; and he pities us; he yearns over us; for our own sakes he desires to see us faithful to himself. Such is the God with whom we have to do. He is one who takes a deep and loving interest in our welfare, and who pities us even when he judges us.

      III. His expostulation with us. Wilt thou not be made clean; when shall it once be? These are earnest words; words of solemn and urgent appeal to us. His pity is not idle. He comes down to us. He speaks to us. He stretches out his hands to us. Wilt thou? Wilt thou not? When shall it be? Shall it not be now? Can words be more energetic, more personal, more explicit and direct? Every man must feel himself spoken to; spoken to most urgently; entreated, besought, expostulated with. He wants us to be cleansed,--to turn, to seek his face, to give him our loyal love; he wants this immediately. Not a day to be lost. The time past has been enough, nay, too long. He presses us with his solemn, urgent, loving now! No delay, no lingering, no hesitation. Give up your unbelief, and give it up now. Give up your idolatry, and give it up now. Turn to me, and turn now. Love me, and love me now.

      Our refusal. The passage takes for granted our refusal. Man rejects God, refuses to give him his heart,--deliberately persists in hypocrisy, insincerity, and unfaithfulness. As much externalism as can be asked he will give; but nothing beyond this. Words he will give, but nothing more. Sacrifices, ceremonies, incense, music, the bended knee, the religious voice and tone; all these he will give, but not the heart. That he deliberately refuses; --refuses to love God, to trust God, to obey God, to give God anything but the service of the outer man,--of the lip, the knee, the body.

      God's condemnation. Woe unto thee, O Jerusalem! It was this word that our Lord took up, when he uttered woes against the cities of Galilee. How much is involved in that woe! It is the woe of God! He means what he says. His threats are not empty. He will execute his vengeance in the day of vengeance.

      Woe to every one that loves not God; that loves the creature better than the creator; that has given his heart to the world in preference to God.

      Woe to him who is unfaithful to God; who worships him with the outer man but withholds the inner.

      Woe to him whose religion is all unfaithfulness; who exhibits his dislike of God in those very acts in which he deals with God.

      Yet he who utters woe, utters also come (Matthew 11:21,28). And between these two are the sons of men. These are the two words which he sounds aloud to us; making us to feel his profound sincerity and his unutterable love.

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See Also:
   Chapter 1 - The Old and New Creation
   Chapter 2 - The Link Between Being and Non-Being
   Chapter 3 - A Happy World
   Chapter 4 - The Sin, the Sinner, and the Sentence
   Chapter 5 - Man's Fig-Leaves
   Chapter 6 - Expulsion and Re-Entrance
   Chapter 7 - The Blood of Sprinkling and the Blood of Abel
   Chapter 8 - The Way of Cain
   Chapter 9 - The Man of Rest
   Chapter 10 - Going Out and Keeping Out
   Chapter 11 - The Shield and the Recompense
   Chapter 12 - Liberty and Service
   Chapter 13 - The Day of Despair
   Chapter 14 - The Blood of Deliverance
   Chapter 15 - How God Deals with Sin and the Sinner
   Chapter 16 - The Fire Quenched
   Chapter 17 - The Vision from the Rocks
   Chapter 18 - The Doom of the Double-Hearted
   Chapter 19 - Be Not Borderers
   Chapter 20 - The Outlines of a Saved Sinner's History
   Chapter 21 - Divine Longings Over the Foolish
   Chapter 22 - What a Believing Man Can Do
   Chapter 23 - Song of the Putting Off of the Armour
   Chapter 24 - The Kiss of the Backslider
   Chapter 25 - The Priestly Word of Peace
   Chapter 26 - Human Anodynes
   Chapter 27 - Spiritual and Carnal Weapons
   Chapter 28 - Divine Silence and Human Despair
   Chapter 29 - Jewish Unbelief and Gentile Blessing
   Chapter 30 - The Restoration of the Banished
   Chapter 31 - The Farewell Gift
   Chapter 32 - God's Dealing with Sin and the Sinner
   Chapter 33 - God Finding a Resting-Place
   Chapter 34 - The Moriah Group
   Chapter 35 - Diverse Kinds of Conscience
   Chapter 36 - The Soul Turning from Man to God
   Chapter 37 - Man's Dislike of a Present God
   Chapter 38 - True and False Consolation
   Chapter 39 - Gain and Loss for Eternity
   Chapter 40 - Man's Misconstruction of the Works of God
   Chapter 41 - The Two Cries and the Two Answers
   Chapter 42 - The Knowledge of God's Name
   Chapter 43 - Deliverance from Deep Waters
   Chapter 44 - The Excellency of the Divine Loving-Kindness
   Chapter 45 - The Sickness, the Healer, and the Healing
   Chapter 46 - The Consecration of Earth's Gold and Silver
   Chapter 47 - The Gifts of the Ascended One
   Chapter 48 - The Speaker, the Listener, the Peace
   Chapter 49 - The Believing Man's Confident Appeal
   Chapter 50 - The Love and the Deliverance
   Chapter 51 - The Sin and Folly of Being Unhappy
   Chapter 52 - The Book of Books
   Chapter 53 - The Secret of Deliverance from Evil
   Chapter 54 - The Voice of the Heavenly Bridegroom
   Chapter 55 - The Love that Passeth Knowledge
   Chapter 56 - The Vision of the Glory
   Chapter 57 - Man's Extremity and Satan's Opportunity
   Chapter 58 - The Day of Clear Vision to the Dim Eyes
   Chapter 59 - The Unfainting Creator and the Fainting Creature
   Chapter 60 - The Knowledge that Justifies
   Chapter 61 - The Heritage and its Title-Deeds
   Chapter 62 - The Meeting Between the Sinner and God
   Chapter 63 - God's Love and God's Way of Blessing
   Chapter 64 - Divine Jealousy for the Truth
   Chapter 65 - Divine Love and Human Rejection of it
   Chapter 66 - God's Desire to Bless the Sinner
   Chapter 67 - The Resting-Place Forgotten
   Chapter 68 - The Day that Will Right all Wrongs
   Chapter 69 - The Glory and the Love
   Chapter 70 - False Religion and its Doom
   Chapter 71 - No Breath No Life
   Chapter 72 - Every Christian a Teacher
   Chapter 73 - Work, Rest, and Recompence
   Chapter 74 - Human Heedlessness and Divine Remembrance
   Chapter 75 - Lies the Food of Man
   Chapter 76 - The Love and the Calling
   Chapter 77 - The Anger and the Goodness
   Chapter 78 - Darkness Pursuing the Sinner
   Chapter 79 - Jerusalem the Centre of the World's Peace
   Chapter 80 - Jerusalem and Her King
   Chapter 81 - Looking to the Pierced One
   Chapter 82 - The Holiness of Common Things
   Chapter 83 - Wearying Jehovah with our Words
   Chapter 84 - Dies Irae


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