By Horatius Bonar
"Ye have wearied the Lord with your words: yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?" -- Malachi 2:17
THE prophet's charge against Israel is of "wearying the Lord"; as Isaiah had long before this said to Ahaz, "Will ye weary my God also?" And while God charged them with wearying him, he solemnly denies having wearied them, and asks, Wherein have I wearied thee?
The charge is not of "provoking," but of " wearying"; and is one of deeply-touching pathos, indicating sorrow, patience, longsuffering, love, the profound affection of a heart that yearns over unworthy objects, unwilling to abandon them to their deserved doom, that beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil.
There are many ways in which we weary God. Such as, by our
(1.) Carelessness. Worldliness, love of self, and vanity, and folly.
(2.) Opposition. Dislike of himself, his law, his gospel.
(3.) Unteachableness. Foolishness, hardness of heart, perversity.
(4.) Unbelief. Distrust of himself, rejection of his love.
(5.) Want of zeal. "This did I for thee, what doest thou for me."
(6.) Inconsistency. Life and creed at variance. A name, no more.
In many such ways we weary God continually; we vex, grieve, resist, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. To this wearying he might at once put an end, and refuse to be so treated by us any longer. But he has long patience, he bears much before he interposes in his wrath. Knowing the fearful consequences to us of his being worn out by us and allowing righteousness and vengeance to do their work, he waits, and pities, and entreats, and expostulates with us to the last.
The prophet's words, "Oh that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments," are expressive of this feeling; and our Lord's tears over Jerusalem are the intimation at once of God's unutterable patience, and of the exhaustion of it at last.
But let us mark the particular kind of wearying, to which the prophet points.
I. It is wearying with words. "Ye have wearied me with your words'' Words in themselves do not weary God. They are pleasant sounds. He delights in listening to what his creatures say. All sights and sounds, coming from the works of his hands, are meant to be "good": sunshine, starlight, earth's green, heaven's blue, ocean's brilliance, the music of birds, the voice of the wind, the roar of the thunder, the noise of many waters, these are among the things which He pronounced "good." So with the human voice and human words. But when they are dissociated from the feeling within, so as not to be the expression of the heart but only of the lip; or when they are the utterance of error or falsehood, unmeaning and hollow, then they cease to be good, they displease him; and when repeated, and reiterated, they weary Him. Talk, talk, mere talk, the talk of the lips, it may be respectable, religious talk, but if mere talk, it not only wearies man but God. And think of the innumerable millions of words uttered every hour by the millions of earth, all of which go up unto the ear of God! Think of the discords, and dissonances, and impurities, and follies, and blasphemies, and hypocrisies that are hourly heard by God! Oh how He must be wearied with the words of men! How He must be grieved with the sounds of earth!
II. It is wearying by questions.--We say, Wherein have we wearied him? Men do not like to be challenged by God, and yet they shrink from the denial of the charge. Instead of honest confession or bold denial, they speak like Cain, and ask, Am I my brother's keeper? Wherein have I wearied him? What more fitted to weary God than such a course of hypocritical questioning, captious questioning, fault-finding, pretending surprise at what they could not but know they were committing. O mockery of God! For men to look up in his face, and say, Wherein have we wearied thee?
III. It is wearying by denial of the difference between good and evil. One of the most explicit of all Bible teachings is as to the difference between the evil person and the good person, the evil thing and the good thing, the evil opinion and the good opinion. Man sees often little of this difference; God sees it strongly. Man likes to efface or smooth over this difference; God keeps up the line, broad, and deep, and clear,--as between sea and land. He is wearied by man's asseverations of the little difference between things and persons, and by man's attempts to obliterate moral and spiritual distinctions, to call light darkness and darkness light. Is not the present age wearying God in this way?
IV. It is wearying by disbelief of coming judgment. "Where is the God of judgment?" is the infidel question, like that of the scoffer in the last days: "Where is the promise of his coming?" No judgment, and no God of judgment, is the watchword of many. Every man a judge to himself; a judge of all truth and error; the measurer of God, and the judge of his character and ways. This is not exactly the fool's saying, There is no god, but it is next to it; for it means that there is no god but such an one as suits man's philosophy. God's non- interposition for so many ages, and his allowance of confusion and error, lead men to conclude that there is no God of judgment. This "wearies God"; this semi-atheism; this misinterpretation of his love and patience. God's longsuffering, instead of leading to repentance, leads to unbelief.
The Lord will come. He may come soon. Let us be ready. The Judge standeth before the door.