And he has violently taken away his tabernacle, as if it were of a garden: he has destroyed his places of the assembly…
I. THE PRESENT DESOLATE AND MISERABLE STATE OF THE HEBREW NATION. No people, since the creation, are in so anomalous a state as the Jews — without a country or a city, a temple or a service, a priest or a sacrifice, worthy of the name. Enter a Jewish synagogue, and you will see "Ichabod is written on its walls" — "the glory has departed": it is no longer the "house of God" or "of prayer," but "a house of merchandise," if not worse.
II. FOR SUCH STUPENDOUS EVILS "IS THERE NOT A CAUSE"? If the heinousness of sin he in proportion to the favours which the sinner has received, or to the light against which it has been committed, no ingratitude seems to be so great as that of the Jewish nation.
III. THE ONLY REMEDY. God, by the prophet Hosea, after charging Israel with complicated guilt, gives a gleam of hope and a ray of mercy. "O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in Me is thy help." This is the burden of my message today, that "with God there is mercy, yea, plenteous redemption"; and that, though others can neither profit nor deliver, He can and shall "redeem Israel from all his sins."
IV. ANSWER OBJECTIONS. One says, "This is not the time." But who, I ask, is God's time keeper? Times and events are in God's hands; and it is neither in our power, nor would it be for our good, to know them. Who, then, can say what is not, when he confessedly knows not what is the time? Again I ask, "For what is it not the time?" For reaping? — for triumph? We never led you to expect it was; but, for breaking up the ground it is always opportune. Again, "we shall probably never live to see any fruits of our labours." This we cannot know for certain; and if we could, it is as selfish and ungenerous, as it is unwise, to use such an argument. We may set up the hoard, or erect the scaffolding, or lay the foundation: another generation may carry up the walls; and a third may put the finishing stroke with shoutings, songs, and triumphs. "After all," says another, "you will do no real good you may make hypocrites of your converts, and those only of the poorest, but you will not make Christians: the prejudices of the Jew are too deeply rooted to be removed by a tract, or even by the New Testament; your labour will therefore be in vain." Formidable as this objection is, it is as flimsy as it is false. We make Christians! We make no such pretensions: it is not in us: this is God's work — His high and exclusive prerogative. Believers "are God's husbandry, and God's building." "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" is a key which will open any lock which unbelief shall place in its way. One class of objectors, of all others the most to be lamented and feared, is that who say, respecting the Jews, "Let them alone: do not meddle with them: they will not attend to your instructions, nor have they any wish to change their religion; besides, what need? one religion is as good as another, if a man does but act up to that he has, and does as well as he can! Bigotry and intolerance will do them more harm than good." To this specious reasoning I reply, It is criminal indifference, and cruel inhumanity, to let men live and die in sin. True charity will make an effort to save those it loves. We know, from bitter experience, in our own cases, that, if left to themselves, the Israelites will not attend to us but God, who commanded, has promised HIS blessing on our labours. Sinners must not be left to themselves.
(J. W. Niblock, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And he hath violently taken away his tabernacle, as if it were of a garden: he hath destroyed his places of the assembly: the LORD hath caused the solemn feasts and sabbaths to be forgotten in Zion, and hath despised in the indignation of his anger the king and the priest.
WEB: He has violently taken away his tabernacle, as if it were of a garden; he has destroyed his place of assembly: Yahweh has caused solemn assembly and Sabbath to be forgotten in Zion, Has despised in the indignation of his anger the king and the priest.