The LORD repeats this process when any of His flock stray from the pastures of truth and holiness. They may fall into gross error, sad sin, and grievous hardness; but yet the LORD, who has become a surety for them to His Father, will not suffer one of them to go so far as to perish. He will by providence and grace pursue them into foreign lands, into abodes of poverty, into dens of obscurity, into depths of despair; He will not lose one of all that the Father has given Him. It is a point of honor with Jesus to seek and to save all the flock, without a single exception. What a promise to plead, if at this hour I am compelled to cry, “I have gone astray like a lost sheep!”
He will not forget them so as to cease to think of them. One forgetful moment on the part of our God would be our ruin. Therefore He says, “Thou shalt not be forgotten of me,” Men forget us; those whom we have benefited turn against us. We have no abiding place in the fickle hearts of men; but God will never forget one of His true servants. He binds Himself to us not by what we do for Him but by what He has done for us. We have been loved too long and bought at too great a price to be now forgotten. Jesus sees in us His soul’s travail, and that He never can forget. The Father sees in us the spouse of His Son, and the Spirit sees in us His own effectual work. The LORD thinketh upon us. This day we shall be succored and sustained. Oh, that the LORD may never be forgotten of us!
Grace for the Humble
“He giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:6).
Humble hearts seek grace, and therefore they get it. Humble hearts
yield to the sweet influences of grace, and so it is bestowed on them
more and more largely. Humble hearts lie in the valleys where streams of
grace are flowing, and hence they drink of them, Humble hearts are
grateful for grace and give the LORD the glory of it, and hence it is
consistent with His honor to give it to them.
Come, dear reader,
take a lowly place. Be little in thine own esteem, that the LORD may
make much of thee. Perhaps the sigh breaks out, “I fear I am not
humble.” It may be that this is the language of true humility. Some are
proud of being humble, and this is one of the very worst sorts of pride.
We are needy, helpless, undeserving, hell-deserving
creatures, and if we are not humble we ought to be. Let us humble
ourselves because of our sins against humility, and then the LORD will
give us to taste of His favor. It is grace which makes us humble, and
grace which finds in this humility an opportunity for pouring in more
grace. Let us go down that we may rise. Let us be poor in spirit that
God may make us rich. Let us be humble that we may not need to be
humbled but may be exalted by the grace of God.
God is a Sanctuary
“Therefore say, Thus saith
the LORD God; Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and
although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to
them as a Little Sanctuary in the countries where they shall come”
Banished from the public means of grace, we are not removed from the
grace of the means. The LORD who places His people where they feel as
exiles will Himself be with them and be to them all that they could have
had at home, in the place of their solemn assemblies. Take this to
yourselves, O ye who are called to wander!
God is to His people a
place of refuge. They find sanctuary with Him from every adversary, He
is their place of worship, too. He is with them as with Jacob when he
slept in the open field, and rising, said, “Surely God was in this
place,” To them also He will be a sanctuary of quite, like the Holy of
Holies, which was the noiseless abode of the Eternal. They shall be
quiet from fear of evil.
God Himself, in Christ Jesus, is the sanctuary of mercy. The Ark of the Covenant
is the LORD Jesus, and Aaron’s rod, the pot of manna, the tables of the
law, all are in Christ our sanctuary. In God we find the shrine of
holiness and of communion. What more do we need? O LORD, fulfill this
promise and be ever to us as a little sanctuary!
But if we have a store, how much we need the LORD to bless it! For there is the care of getting, the care of keeping, the care of managing, the care of using; and, unless the LORD bless it, these cares will eat into our hearts till our goods become our gods and our cares prove cankers.
O LORD, bless our substance. Enable us to use it for Thy glory, Help us to keep worldly things in their proper places, and never may our savings endanger the saving of our souls
The text applies to truly gracious men who tremble at the word of the LORD. These were hated of their brethren and at length cast out because of their fidelity and their holiness. This must have been very bitter to them; and all the more so because their casting out was done in the name of religion, and professedly with the view of glorifying God. How much is done for the devil in the name of God! The use of the name of Jehovah to add venom to the bite of the old serpent is an instance of his subtlety.
The appearing of the LORD for them is the hope of His persecuted people. He appears as the advocate and defender of His elect; and when He does so it means a clear deliverance for the God-fearing and shame for their oppressors. O LORD, fulfill this word to those whom men are deriding!
The heart must remain in love, the mind must be rooted in faith, the hope must be cemented to the Word, the whole man must be joined unto the LORD, or else it would be dangerous to trust us with power in prayer. The carte blanche can only be given to one whose very life is, “Not I, but Christ liveth in me.” O you who break your fellowship, what power you lose! If you would be mighty in your pleadings, the LORD Himself must abide in you, and you in Him.
You Deal with God
“I will not execute the fierceness of Mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man” (Hosea 11:9).
The LORD thus makes known His sparing mercies. It may be that the
reader is now under heavy displeasure, and everything threatens his
speedy doom. Let the text hold him up from despair. The LORD now invites
you to consider your ways and confess your sins. If He had been man, He
would long ago have cut you off. If He were now to act after the manner
of men, it would be a word and a blow and then there would be an end of
you: but it is not so, for “as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so high are his ways above your ways.”
You rightly judge that He is angry, but He keeps not His anger forever: if you turn from sin to Jesus, God will turn from wrath.
Because God is God, and not man, there is still forgiveness for you,
even though you may be steeped up to your throat in iniquity. You have a
God to deal with and not a hard man, or even a merely just man. No
human being could have patience with you. You would have wearied out an
angel, as you have wearied your sorrowing Father; but God is
longsuffering. Come and try Him at once. Confess, believe, and turn from
your evil way, and you shall be saved.
The fire only refines; it does not destroy. We are to be brought through the fire, not left in it. The LORD values His people as silver, and therefore He is at pains to purge away their dross. If we are wise, we shall rather welcome the refining process than decline it. Our prayer will be that our alloy may be taken from us rather than that we should be withdrawn from the crucible.
O LORD, Thou triest us indeed! We are ready to melt under the fierceness of the flame. Still, this is Thy way, and Thy way is the best. Sustain us under the trial and complete the process of our purifying, and we will be Thine forever and ever.