Their land is full of idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their fingers have made.
I. Two HEINOUS SINS WHICH BELONG TO EVERY AGE AND CLASS. They are these:
1. Disobedience. The divination to which reference is made (ver. 6) is expressly prohibited in the Law (Deuteronomy 18:10-12); alliance with strangers (ver. 6) is also forbidden (Exodus 34:12; Deuteronomy 7:2); the multiplication of silver and gold and of horses (ver. 7), however unobjectionable it may seem to us, was disallowed to the Hebrew nation (Deuteronomy 17:16, 17). The Jews would be under strong temptation to disregard these prohibitions; many of the lower ambitions of our nature would urge them to transgression. But the clear, unmistakable "Law of the Lord" pronounced against these things. And as every fact, both of a brighter and a darker kind, admonished them "to obey the voice of the Lord their God," they were "verily guilty" in their disobedience. God requires of men, of every age and land, that they should obey him. He will accept nothing of any kind as a substitute (1 Samuel 15:22; Matthew 7:21). Our ignorance of his purpose in commanding is no excuse for our disregard of his will. How can such little children as we are expect to fathom the wisdom of the Infinite Father? When we set our poor judgment against his perfect knowledge, our mistaken wishes against his holy will, we fall into the most serious sin. Our obedience is to be intelligent and not mechanical, cheerful and not grudging, instant and not tardy, or it will not be obedience at all.
2. Idolatry. This sin, so grievous in the sight of God, is found in one of three forms.
(1) In its most gross and degrading form, as in Judaea at this period (verB. 8, 9), when both the "mean and the great" prostrated themselves before the image made with hands; or
(2) in the less gross but still degrading form of superstition in "Christian" rites; or
(3) in that which constitutes its essence, viz. the giving to the creature the thought, the affection, the energy, which are due to the Creator. In this last form we are all under condemnation. We withhold from him whose we are and to whom we owe ourselves and all we have, the devotion and the tribute which we reserve for our neighbors or expend upon ourselves. This is essentially idolatrous.
II. DIVINE RETRIBUTION. Here are four features of it.
1. It begins in the withdrawal of Divine favor, "God forsakes his people" (ver. 6). He ceases to make the light of his countenance fall on them; their prosperity wanes, their joy diminishes, their power declines.
2. It may well be dreaded as certain to arrive in time. "Therefore thou wilt not forgive them" (ver. 9). God cannot and will not pardon the repentant, and those who are disobedient or idolatrous may count on the coming of his judgments as the most certain of all future things.
3. It is such that the boldest may well shrink from it. "Enter into the rock, and hide thee... for fear of the Lord," etc. (vers. 10, 19).
(1) When God makes the sins of a man's life to bring forth their natural and fitting fruits (intemperance, dissoluteness, dishonesty, etc., working themselves out in penury, disease, contempt, etc.);
(2) when God causes special enormities to be followed by extraordinary calamities; or
(3) when he makes the hardened sinner to confront death, judgment, and eternity; - then does he come as One who is in "the glory of his majesty, shaking terribly the earth;" then does he manifest his will and his power in such wise that the boldest and most fearless may well shrink and shudder at his appearing. However valiant sin may show itself while the righteous Lord delays to speak and strike, there is an hour coming when it will "call to the rocks to hide it, and to the hills to cover it," when it will tremble and cower at the touch of the hand of the Holy One.
4. It is that which nothing can escape.
(1) No man. "The day of the Lord... every one that is proud," etc. (ver. 12); not only the humble, but the haughty; not the defenseless only, but the strong and well fortified, even those who think themselves most secure, will feel the keen edge of the avenging sword (ver. 17).
(2) Nothing. The cedars of Lebanon and the oaks of Bashan, the mountains and the hills, the treasure-laden ships and the pleasant pictures and even the trusted idols, - all shall feel the blow of the mighty hand; nothing too high or too strong to be beyond its reach (vers. 13-18).
III. THE ISSUE. The end of Divine judgment is:
1. The humiliation of that which is false and evil. The idols which had been so honored are to be cast to the moles and to the bats (ver. 20). When God appears in judgment there is a great reversal and overthrow. That which was first becomes last; that which was highest in esteem becomes the object of derision and contempt.
2. The exaltation of the Lord himself. "The Lord alone shall be exalted," etc. (ver. 17). And, though we do not gain the thought from these verses, we may add:
3. The salvation of the penitent and the faithful. There is one Rock in which, if we seek its gracious shelter now, we shall then be able to hide, and in whose shadow we shall be safe;" for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." - C.
Their land also is full of idols.
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