2379. A Discourse To The Despairing

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No. 2379-40:445. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, July 15, 1888, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, September 23, 1894.

Now when Jacob saw that there was grain in Egypt, Jacob said to his sons, “Why do you look at each another?” And he said, “Behold, I have heard that there is grain in Egypt: go down, and buy for us from there; so that we may live, and not die.” {Ge 42:1,2}

 For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 234, “Grain in Egypt” 227}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2379, “Discourse to the Despairing, A” 2380}
    {See Spurgeon_SermonTexts "Ge 42:2"}

1. Jacob had reached an age in which natural vigour had gone out of him; he was getting very old, and was worn and weary; yet here he seems to lead the way in providing for his family. It was he who spoke to the younger men, his sons, and urged them to go down into Egypt to buy food. Jacob was of a timorous disposition in his latter days; he had an old man’s fear of what is high, and the grasshopper had become a burden to him; yet he proposed to his sons that they should make a venturesome journey into Egypt. It was a great undertaking for them, for they were stay-at-homes, and not travellers; they were shepherds, whose time was occupied in looking after the welfare of their flocks, and not in roaming over foreign countries. They thought it would be an overwhelming responsibility and a perilous risk to cross the desert, and go down into Egypt; yet Jacob proposed this to them as the only way of escape from famine and death. Here is an example in which an aged father roused his sons to action by telling them good news, and by chiding them because of their despairing looks and words.

2. I am going to use the passage in this way. There are many people who are sitting down in a kind of stupor; they have no hope, and therefore they are doing nothing at all. They need to be told the good and blessed news concerning salvation, and to be roused to make a right use of that news, and to avail themselves of the provision of which they are informed. I shall give myself, under the Holy Spirit’s guidance, to the happy task of following out that line of thought under these three points. First, despair is useless:“ Why do you look at each another?” Secondly, hope is well-grounded:“ I have heard that there is grain in Egypt.” Thirdly, action is reasonable:“ Go down, and buy for us from there; so that we may live, and not die.”


4. I never heard yet of anyone who derived any good from despair; let me correct myself, there is a kind of despair which is the work of the Spirit of God, I could wish that you all felt it; — a despair of self-salvation, a despair of washing away your own sin, despair of obtaining any merit of your own by which you can become acceptable in the sight of God. Despair of self is a good thing; but men never come to it unless the Spirit of God brings them. We are always ready to hope in ourselves with that self-conceited hope which is abhorrent to God; and it is a great mercy when, at last, the Spirit of God, like the hot blast of the Sirocco, {a} passes over the green field, and every flower in it is withered. What did the prophet say? “All flesh is grass, and all its goodness is like the flower of the field: the grass withers, the flower fades: because the Spirit of the Lord blows on it: surely the people are grass.” That is a blessed kind of despair; but of any other kind of despair, in reference to eternal things, I cannot say anything that is good. I believe that Giant Despair has his dungeons full of the skeletons of men; he is an ogre, and devours those who come his way, but he never helped a pilgrim on the road to the Celestial City, he never did any good for any soul that came under his power. I cannot set you free from his grasp, but I can and do pray that the Spirit of God may deliver you out of his clutches.

5. These sons of Jacob looked at each other despairingly, it seems, and their old father watched their looks until at last he asked them, “Why do you look at each other?” Their looks expressed great sadness. They had never been in such a plight before; no grain for the donkeys, no bread for the children, no food for themselves. Not one of them smiled; but grim sadness sat on every countenance, and all their faces gathered blackness. One looked at his brother, and saw that he was sad; and that brother looked at the next one, and perceived that he was mournful and gloomy. The light of a man’s countenance is often like the shining of the sun, one bright face will make another full of joy and gladness; but when all the sons of Jacob were sad, their sadness was increased as they looked at each other. Now, when a man knows that he has no hope, when he feels that he cannot save himself, when he hungers for the bread of life, and yet has none of it, when he looks to others who are in a similar state, and they only reply, “It is even so; we also are starving, we are lost”; well, then, it is a sad, sad business altogether.

6. Next, their faces expressed inability. Judah looked on Reuben, and Reuben stared back at his brother, as much as to say, “Do not gaze at me, Judah, for I cannot do anything; I have emptied my last sack of grain.” Then Reuben looked across to Simeon, and Simeon turned to Zebulun; and they all shook their heads, and each one said, “It is no use looking at me. I cannot relieve you in this time of famine, even in the slightest degree. I have more than I can do to take care of my own wife and children.” It is so when one sinner looks at another sinner. If really awakened to a true sense of his condition in the sight of God, each one says, “I cannot help you; I cannot even help myself.” There is a number of foolish virgins, with their lamps all gone out, and they have not a drop of oil between them, and therefore not one of them can help another.

7. So, sadness and inability are both implied in old Jacob’s question to his sons, “Why do you look at each other?”

8. Besides that, I have no doubt that there was a great degree of bewilderment expressed on their countenances. One asked his brother, “Can you not suggest anything?” “No,” replied the other, “I am at my wits’ end; I never was so puzzled before.” “But, surely, So-and-so, the one member of the family who has always been so quick with his suggestions, will have something to say in this crisis.” No, not one of them had anything that he could contribute towards the hopefulness of the outlook. Sad indeed was the household in which all the brothers seemed each one more bewildered than the rest. So, if I were to gather here a company of men, awakened to a sense of their true condition as sinners, but not yet led to faith in Christ, and if I were to ask them, “What is to be done to deliver you from this sad state?” they would, in utter bewilderment, look first at me, and then at each other, and sadly say, “What can we do?” One of them might even cry, with John Newton, —

    The help of men and angels join’d
       Could never reach my case;

and in his perplexity he might forget to quote the two lines that follow, —

    Nor can I hope relief to find
       But in thy boundless grace.

Such a man might say, “If everyone in this world who love me were to get together to assist me out of the deep pit of sin into which I have fallen, they could not lift me a single inch.”

9. Bewilderment, then, was on the faces of the eleven sons of Jacob.

10. Their looks also expressed forebodings. As they looked at each other, their faces wan, their bodies gaunt, each one seemed to say to his brother, “I dare not tell you what I think”; and the other would reply, “I know what you mean before the dreadful word comes from your lips, for what can this long famine bring but absolute starvation? We shall see our poor old father die; or, perhaps, we ourselves shall perish, and all our children with us, before the old man passes away; anyway, we are doomed. We cannot eat the grass; we cannot devour what the birds of heaven might live on; there is nothing for us to do but to die. There is no grain in the land, there is universal famine, grim death will soon overtake us.” So they looked at each other every day with more and more of anxious foreboding, for the famine was severe in the land of Canaan as well as in all the other parts of the earth.

11. But, dear friends, what good did their sad looks, and their perplexed looks do? They did not make one mess of pottage for any of them; they did not grind for them even a single kernel of grain. They were as badly off after all their despair as they were before it; their waiting was absolutely useless, no improvement in their condition came of it; and addressing you, my despairing friend, to whom I am sent tonight; I do not think that I ever saw you before, but you are here, and I am sent to speak to you like this. You have believed that there was no hope for you; you did not think that you could be saved; and you have been now for years in that sad condition: what is the use of it to you? What is the good of all your despair? It has not improved you in the least; it has not even kept you back from sin. It has just made you sit in darkness, like one who is chilled and benumbed, and over whom death is slowly creeping. This despair is no benefit to you; may God help you to shake yourself clear of it even now! There is a lie at the bottom of your despair; there is hope, there is hope for the very chief of sinners. Do not believe what Satan tells you, that you must sit still, and die.

12. The waiting time of the sons of Jacob was wasting time. If they had started earlier, they might have reached Egypt, and perhaps have been back again with the grain which they had bought; but now the weary hours, which brought them no hope, were depriving them of the possibility of deliverance. So, dear hearers, you have waited because you did not think that there was a possibility of your being saved, and all this waiting time has been wasted. Oh that you had been converted when you were a boy! Oh that you had known my Lord when you were a young man, and started out in business! Oh, that you had known him even in midlife! But now you are growing grey; surely, the time past suffices to have been wasted. May God help you to begin tonight to obtain that heavenly bread, that true grain on which your soul may feed!

13. These sons of Jacob had waited so long that, if they delayed much longer, they could never go, for they would all be dead. Did not their old father hint at that when he said to them, “Go down, and buy for us from there; so that we may live, and not die?” Death seemed waiting for them outside the door; and if bread did not soon come in, they would all have to be carried out as corpses. So, sinner, you have waited long enough, and far too long; you have tarried so long that, if you wait much longer, the great knell of your soul will toll out with that most dismal sound, “Lost, lost, lost, and lost for ever!” May God grant that this may not come to pass, but may the Word of the Lord, which I am declaring in my Master’s name, lead you to another course of action than that of sitting still, and looking at each other! I repeat what I said before, despair is useless. I think that you who have tried it are quite convinced that it is so; you cannot squeeze any juice out of this flint, you can dig nothing that will help you out of this barren soil.

14. II. But now, secondly, HOPE, as we preach it to the very chief of sinners, IS WELL-GROUNDED.

15. In the story before us, old Jacob said to his sons, “Behold, I have heard that there is grain in Egypt.” Good news had been heard. Did you notice that the first verse put it rather differently: “Now when Jacob saw that there was grain in Egypt?” There is a good old proverb, quaint but true, “Faith sees with its ears.” It is a new use for ears, according to some people’s notions; my own opinion is, that there is no organ that we have with which we can see so well as we can with our ears if we use them properly. In spiritual things, “faith comes by hearing,” and that faith becomes the sight of things hoped for. Good old Jacob saw that there was grain in Egypt, and he heard that there was grain in Egypt; that is to say, he heard it on such good evidence that the old gentleman seemed to see it. He had questioned some passing travellers, some Ishmaelites, some wandering Bedouins, who had answered him, “Oh, yes, there is grain in Egypt; we have been down there, we have bought sacks full of it, we have brought it away with us; we know it is so, for here it is.” And Jacob, though yet very timorous, weighed the evidence, and judged all about the matter, and he said to himself, “Oh, yes! it is quite clear, I see that there is grain in Egypt.”

16. Well now, dear friends, the most of you now present, and, I should think, all of you who have come through the rain this wet night, have heard this good news. “Heard it?” you say; “we have heard it times beyond number.” I wonder how many times you have heard it? It would be worth while to sit down, and figure away, to see if you could calculate how many times you have heard the gospel. You know, when a boy has a father who is what a father ought to be, he says to him, “Do not let me have to speak to you twice, sir.” If he does speak to him twice, he says, “Do you think I am going to speak to you three times? Mark my words that I shall not stop at speaking, if you do not listen pretty soon.” Would you kindly set down on a sheet of paper, not perhaps on a slate, for you might wipe it out there, write down how many times God has spoken to you distinctly in the preaching of the Word? I will not ask you to count up how many times he has spoken to you in private, on your bed, and so on; some of you have heard thousands of sermons, but they have done you no good. I am afraid that you are like Bunyan’s Slough of Despond. Many thousands of tons of the best-road making material had been dumped into that slough, and it took it all in, and it was as bad a slough as ever; and is it not so with some of you? I get astonished at some of you people who come and hear me whenever you can. I am not going to look at the special people to whom I refer; but it does astonish me when I know that there are those who have come here for years, and yet are as bare of religion as the palm of my hand is of hair. If you ask the wife or children about them, you will find that, though they say that “they enjoy Mr. Spurgeon’s ministry,” yet they enjoy the drink rather more on certain other days. They would not be away from a sermon; indeed, and they will even come to prayer meetings, and enjoy prayer meetings; but still, ah me! well, I will not say all that I know. May God have mercy on such people! But what am I to do? Am I to keep on preaching to people like that? May God have mercy on you, and on me, too, and grant that I may not labour in vain towards you, lest in the end your guilt should be increased by the rejection of his truth! The good news has been heard by all of you. Whatever may be the destiny of the heathen, at least they can say, “We never heard of Christ; we were never told to come and put our trust in him; we never knew the story of the cross, and all the love of God in Christ Jesus.” You cannot say that, but you will have to confess, some of you, in that great day, that you closed your ears to it all, and would have none of it. May the Lord prevent it, by his mercy!

17. Well, the good news has been heard, dear friends; and by many of us the good news has been believed. I do believe with Jacob that there is grain in Egypt; that is to say, I believe that there is salvation in Christ Jesus, that it has “pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell.” There are many here who believe that truth with me; there are myriads, all over the world, who believe this, and who have seen it for themselves, — there is pardon for sin; there is renewal of nature; there is every blessing that can be wanted, stored up in Jesus Christ. The good news has been heard, and the good news has been believed. If I were to ask you to stand up, and bear testimony after the manner of the Salvation Army, very many here would do so, each one saying, “I believe it. It is even so. I have proved it to be true.”

18. Further, the good news conveyed to you is to the point. Suppose that Jacob had said to his sons, “I believe that there is gold in Egypt,” they might have asked him, “What has that to do with us?” Suppose he had said, “I believe that there is fine linen in Egypt.” They did not want fine linen. Suppose he had said, “I believe that there are chariots in Egypt, and horses,” for there were such in abundance; Solomon was accustomed, in later days, to bring them out of Egypt. Yet Jacob’s sons would have said, “Dear father, we do not want horses; we do not want chariots; what we do want is bread, for we are dying, or soon shall die, of hunger.” Well now, my dear hearers, there is in Christ Jesus exactly what you want. If you are guilty, there is pardon. If you are weak, there is strength. If you are foul, there is cleansing. If you are naked, there is clothing. If you are dead, there is life; in fact, there is in Christ all that you can possibly need. Christ is as much fitted for you as a glove is for a hand; and he is exactly fitted for you, Mary, Thomas, or whoever you are, even as when I came to him I found him to be exactly fitted for me. He is the very Saviour for such a sinner as you are.

19. Well now, this is good news concerning an available blessing. Supposing Jacob had said, “Dear sons, there is plenty of grain in Egypt; but you cannot have any of it. If you go down there, they will not sell any grain to you.” Now, we who believe in the doctrine of election are supposed to say to some men, “It is of no use for you to believe; you will not have the blessing.” I never said, I never thought, such a thing, nor did any other preacher of the doctrine of election. We have freely declared to every man that whoever believes in Christ Jesus has everlasting life; and though we believe that God knows who will have it, even as God knew who would go down into Egypt, yet that does not in the least affect the freeness of the preaching of the gospel. Let those who hear us bear witness to the fact. There was never a man, or woman, or child yet, who applied to God through Jesus Christ for mercy, who was refused. “Whoever comes to me,” says Christ, “I will in no wise cast out.” If you believe, you live; if you believe, you are saved. We have eternal life when we come and trust in Jesus. Believe, and receive it at the hands of Christ. “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life.” Let that bell ring all around the Tabernacle. “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life.” If you believe, eternal life is yours. So, this good news is concerning an available blessing.

20. And, once more, this good news is in the present tense. Jacob did not say to his sons, “There was grain in Egypt,” but, “I have heard that there is grain in Egypt.” So I say to you: “There is salvation; there is forgiveness; there is acceptance, there is reconciliation; there is eternal life.” There is, in Christ Jesus, all that is necessary to lift a soul from the gates of hell to the portals of heaven. There is now on this very day grain in Egypt, there is eternal life for all who trust in Jesus.

    There is life for a look at the Crucified One;
       There is life at this moment for thee.

21. I do not know how to preach more plainly and simply to you; the last thing that crosses my mind is to try and make “a fine discourse.” All I want to do is to talk right to your hearts about the way to heaven, and not to let you go until you have come to Jesus, and have trusted in him.

22. So I have set before you two things, first, that despair is useless; and, next, that there is a hope which is well-grounded. There is nothing more certain in this world than that whoever believes in Christ shall be saved. I wish that you would all come, and try, and see for yourselves, for we have not preached to you cunningly-devised fables, but the most sure Word of God, which we have tasted and handled for ourselves.

23. III. So I shall close with my third division: ACTION IS REASONABLE.

24. Oh my dear despairing hearer, I say again that I do not know who you may be; but I know that I am sent to you tonight with a message! I wish that I knew you, so that I could take you by the hand, and have you here on this very platform, and look into your eyes with my eyes; but since I cannot do that, I will speak to you as if I were doing it.

25. It was time that these men should go at once to Egypt, for they must die if they did not go. They could only die if they went to Egypt; if they were met by robbers on the road, and killed, they could only die. This is your case; without Christ, you must eternally die; there is no hope for you. Remain as you are, and you are damned. Indeed, I do not soften the word, for it is no light sentence which the word conveys. If you do not find Christ, you are lost for ever. Say, then, as we have often sung, —

    I can but perish if I go;
       I am resolved to try:
    For if I stay away, I know
       I must for ever die.

26. I will here bring up Giant Despair if I can, in the rear, so that he may howl a little at you, and set your feet in motion. There is no hope for you unless you go to the Saviour, even to Jesus Christ. You must die if you do not go to him.

27. It was very reasonable that Jacob’s sons should go down to Egypt, for evidently others had gone there, and had found grain. Oh man, I wish that you would repent, and leave your sins, and come to Christ, for others have done so, and they have found eternal life! There never was, there never will be, there cannot be, one who ever obeyed the gospel call, and yet was disappointed. I challenge the depths of the grave, and the deep abyss of hell itself, to display a single soul that truly sought the Lord, and was refused. No, if you come to him by Jesus Christ, he must receive you. Therefore, you who feel your need of Christ, I beseech you to arouse yourselves, and seek him now.

28. Further, these sons of Jacob got what they went for. They went to buy grain, and they bought grain, and plenty of it; and you may prosper better than they did. It is not half such a task for you to go to Jesus, as it was for them to go to Egypt. You can get to Christ in the twinkling of an eye. Behold, he comes flying to your relief. One look of faith, and you are at his feet. Trust is the great railway that will bear you to the blessed terminus of salvation.

29. The sons of Jacob found in Egypt what they went for, and they found it on better terms than they supposed. Jacob said, “Buy for us from there”; but they had their money put back in the mouth of their sacks. Joseph did not want their money; he would not sell anything to his own brothers, he would give them whatever they needed. The Lord Jesus Christ does not want your money; he does not want even your repentance and your faith as the purchase price of salvation. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.” It is a free gift to you who are poor as beggary itself. Only come, and you shall find how free the gifts of sovereign grace are.

30. And, in addition, Jacob’s sons gained a great deal more than they bargained for, for while they brought grain home, they found that there was a great man in Egypt who was their brother, and they were invited to go and stay with him, and they were made great men in that land. Oh, if you will only come to Christ, you will come for silver, but you will get gold; you will come for gold, and he will give you diamonds; you will come for a rag, and he will give you a royal robe; you will come to him for life, and he will give you everlasting glory. He gives infinitely more than any of us dare to ask, or even think; and happy is that man who only comes to him. Oh, if you had any idea of what Christ will make of you, you would wish for wings on your heels to fly to him with all your might! If that young woman only knew what joy the love of Christ would pour into her heart, she would not wait until tomorrow’s sun had risen before she had laid hold of Jesus Christ! When we come to Christ, there is a destiny before us which an angel’s future does not rival; we become brothers of Christ, heirs of God, peers of the blood imperial, exalted to get with Christ on his heavenly throne, and to share in all his joys. Oh that you would come! If you only know what is to be had by trusting in Jesus, how swiftly you would be drawn to him!

    His worth if all the nations knew,
    Sure, the whole world would love him too;

and if they only knew what he gives, they would hold out both hands, and take from him now all that he delights to bestow on those who trust him.

31. I have finished my discourse to the despairing when I have made just two or three concluding remarks.

32. These sons of Jacob went down into Egypt, and they did well. Valid reasoning led them to go when they heard that there was grain there, and knew that they wanted it; but they were never invited to go there. Joseph did not send an invitation to Jacob, and Reuben, and Judah, and Simeon, saying, “Come down into Egypt.” Up to the moment when he revealed himself, they did not know that he was there. They were never invited, and yet they went. Is there anyone here who says, “I do not think I am invited in the Bible to trust Christ?” Then come to him whether you are invited or not. Do as these men did; they were not invited, but they went. The feasts of God are of this kind, “Whoever wills, let him come.” There are no tickets demanded at God’s gate of mercy. If you come, you would not have come if he had not drawn you, for no man can come to Christ unless the Father, who sent his Son, draws him; and, “Whoever comes to me,” says Christ, “I will in no wise cast out.” You are the right man if you only come, for the wrong man never did come, never can come, and never thinks of coming. You are the man to be saved if you only trust Christ.

33. But I must remind you that there are many of you who have been invited, pressed, urged, entreated with tears, to come to Christ. I will not say anything about the many times that I have tried to press those things on you, for I feel my feebleness, and that if you refuse me I do not wonder; but still, if I knew how to put eternal things before you better than I do, how earnestly I would labour for the salvation of your souls! Sometimes, when I am at home, I say to myself, “That is it; I think I see now how to put the truth to the people”; but when I get here, I do not feel that I can speak as I desire. What more is a man to say than to tell you that you are in danger, that you will perish if you despair of hope, that there is good reason for hope, and that, if you come to your God, trusting in Jesus as your Saviour, he will never cast you away? Therefore, come, and come at once; come even now, while sitting in those pews. What more can I say? Spirit of God, say whatever more is needed, and make what is said to go home to the hearts of the hearers!

34. Now, note again, that you are in a better state than the sons of Jacob, for you are invited; and next, you have no journey to make. How far is it to Christ? Well, there is no distance. If you believe, he is there. Our railway people, as a rule, in making railways to a certain town, do not make the railway to the town, but within half a mile, or a mile, or two miles, so that you must have a coach or a cab to get into the town; and there is far too much gospel preaching that is like that. It is so far before you get to Christ, and when you do get to him, it needs another journey in your own coach to finish up the work. But I believe that the railway to heaven for you starts just there in that pew where you are sitting, and that it goes all the way, and that if you enter the glorious free-grace train, it will carry you to the terminus; and if you take a ticket tonight with a simple trust in the Lord Jesus, you will not need any new ticket, but it will take you all the way through. Oh, I wish that by faith you would take that ticket now! There is a journey to get to heaven, but there is no journey to get to Christ, for he is here. You need a Mediator between your souls and God, but you do not need a Mediator between your souls and Christ. You must be prepared to see God in heaven, but you need not be prepared to see Christ on earth. You may come to him just as you are; here he is, look at him by faith, and the great transaction is done.

35. Last of all, you are informed, as these sons of Jacob were not informed, that no payment is required. Jacob said to his sons, “Take money in your hand,” and when they went the next time, he said, “Take double money in your hand.” That was very honest on his part, to send money to make up for what had been put in the sacks, as well as the double price, for the wheat would have risen since the last time; and old Jacob also said, “Take some of the best fruits of the land in your vessels, and carry a present down the man, a little balm, and a little honey, spices, and myrrh, nuts, and almonds.” That is just what human nature says, “Take Christ a present; carry something with you.” Now, I would advise you to drop that present into the sea; do not take anything with you to Christ except your emptiness. That is all he wants; take your emptiness, and he will fill it. Take your sin, and he will wash it away. When people advertise that they clean garments, — (you see their notices everywhere, nowadays, a wonderful trade it must be,) — do they expect that, when you send a coat to be cleaned, you are to put a guinea in the pocket? Oh, dear no, you send the garment to be cleaned! You will have to pay for the work one of these days; but you need not put sovereigns in the pocket. Just take your soul to Christ to be cleansed, with nothing but the spot, and the stain, and the filth, and he will make it whiter than the driven snow.

36. The Holy Spirit’s message is, “Today, if you will hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” Do not wait to cleanse or mend, but come to Christ just as you are, and come at once! Sons of Jacob, starving for lack of heavenly food, look no longer at each other, but up and away to the Christ who has a superabundance of everything you need. Freely he invites you; gladly go to him. Spirit of God, compel them to do so, by your sweet love, for Jesus’ sake! Amen.

{a} Sirocco: An oppressively hot and blighting wind, blowing from the north coast of Africa over the Mediterranean and affecting parts of Southern Europe. OED.

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Stated — The Gospel Worthy Of All Acceptation” 531}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, Names and Titles — Fountain” 375}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, His Praise — Blessed Be His Name” 435}

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Isa 48}

1. Hear this, oh house of Jacob, who are called by the name of Israel, and are come out of the waters of Judah, who swear by the name of the LORD, and make mention of the God of Israel, but not in truth, nor in righteousness.

There always were false professors, and I suppose there always will be until Christ comes. A Judas was among the twelve disciples, and we cannot wonder that we find such in every church, but what a dreadful thing it is to wear the name of God, and yet not really to serve him, to be called Christians, and yet not to be like Christ! It must be a very God-provoking thing to be called by his name, and then insult it by not being true to it.

2. For they call themselves after the holy city, and lean on the God of Israel; The LORD of hosts is his name.

They profess to trust him, but they do not love him; “they call themselves after the holy city,” but they certainly are not holy citizens. Ah me that God should have to speak to men on such a matter as this! It is self-evidently wicked, but they will not see it.

3. I have declared the former things from the beginning; and they went out of my mouth, and I showed them; I did them suddenly, and they came to pass.

There is no better proof that God is God than that his prophecies have been fulfilled. Only the eternal can see into the future. He has done so, and every word of his has either been fulfilled, or will yet be fulfilled.

4, 5. Because I knew that you are obstinate, and your neck is an iron sinew, and your brow bronze; I have even from the beginning declared it to you: before it came to pass I have shown it to you: lest you should say, “My idol has done them, and my carved image, and my molten image, has commanded them.”

See the care of God towards the most obstinate of men. He knows that they will pervert things, so he prevents them as far as it is possible to do so. He tells them what is to happen, so that they may not afterwards say that their idol-gods have done it. Ah, dear friends, God has taken great interest in many of us! He has, as it were, laid his plans to keep us out of sin; and yet often we have broken out, and have gone over hill and dale in the ways of sin. We have seemed resolved to do evil; we have been desperately set on mischief; hence he speaks of us as being “obstinate.” “Your neck is an iron sinew, and your brow bronze.” Will God ever speak in mercy to such people as these? We shall see as we read on.

6-8. You have heard, see all this; and will you not declare it? I have shown you new things from this time, even hidden things, and you did not know them. They are created now, and not from the beginning, even before the day when you did not hear them; lest you should say, “Behold, I knew them.” Yes, you did not hear; yes, you did not know; yes, from that time that your ear was not opened: for I knew that you would deal very treacherously, and were called a transgressor from the womb.

What a description! Treacherous, false, yes, very treacherous, beyond the usual degree of treachery; transgressors from our very birth, accustomed to sin. The very heart is wrong, and all that comes out of us is, therefore, wrong. And now, what follows?

9. For my name’s sake I will defer my anger, and for my praise I will refrain for you, so that I do not cut you off.

“I cannot spare you for your own sake; but I will spare you for my name’s sake. I cannot spare you because of anything good in you; but I will spare you because of good in myself.” If God can glorify himself by your salvation, he finds a blessed motive for saving you, and, since there is no merit in you, he will fall back on his own glory, and save you for his own name’s sake.

10. Behold, I have refined you, but not with silver; I have chosen you in the furnace of affliction.

You sinful one, yet one of his own children, he will refine you again and again, and he will glorify himself by saving you.

11. For my own sake, even for my own sake, I will do it: for how should my name be polluted? And I will not give my glory to another.

This verse ought to ring like music in the ear of one who is seeking mercy, and who cannot find out how mercy can come to him.

12, 13. Listen to me, oh Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last, my hand also has laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand has spanned the heavens: when I call to them, they stand up together.

What a great God is he whose right hand spanned the heavens, making the arch of the sky, as it were, with the span of his hand!

14. All you, assemble yourselves, and hear, who among them has declared these things?

He still dwells on prophecy. God claims that he is God because he foretold all that happened, which the idol-gods could not do.

14-18. The LORD has loved him: he will do his pleasure on Babylon, and his arm shall be on the Chaldeans. I, even I, have spoken; yes, I have called him: I have brought him, and he shall make his way prosperous. Come near to me, hear this, I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there I am: and now the Lord GOD, and his Spirit, has sent me. Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; “I am the Lord your God who teaches you to profit, who leads you by the way that you should go. Oh that you had listened to my commandments!

God again breaks out in lamentations over his wandering people! Not only is he ready to forgive them; but he grieves to think that they should have brought so much sorrow on themselves.

18, 19. Then your peace had been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea: your seed also had been as the sand, and the offspring of your body like its gravel; his name should not have been cut off nor destroyed from before me.”

All manner of possible good would have been yours had you not rebelled against God; and since you have lost it, God grieves that it should be so.

20. Go out from Babylon, flee from the Chaldeans, with a voice of singing declare, tell this, utter it even to the end of the earth, say, “The LORD has redeemed his servant Jacob.”

What a grand message for anyone to tell! Tell it, tell it, tell it everywhere, that Jehovah has redeemed his people.

21. And they did not thirst when he led them through the deserts:

Neither shall you thirst, oh redeemed one, when you are in the desert!

21. He made the waters to flow out of the rock for them:

Most unlikely places shall yield help for you.

21. He split the rock also, and the waters gushed out.

And yet, to finish up the chapter, stands this remarkable sentence: —

22. “There is no peace,” says the LORD, “for the wicked.”

Oh God, have mercy on us, and let us not be numbered with them!

Gospel, Stated
531 — The Gospel Worthy Of All Acceptation
1 Jesus, th’ eternal Son of God,
      Whom seraphim obey,
   The bosom of the Father leaves,
      And enters human clay.
2 Into our sinful world he comes,
      Messenger of grace,
   And on the bloody tree expires,
      A victim in our place.
3 Transgressors of the deepest stain
      In him salvation find:
   His blood removes the foulest guilt,
      His Spirit heals the mind.
4 That Jesus saves from sin and hell,
      Is truth divinely sure;
   And on this rock our faith may rest
      Immovably secure.
5 Oh let these tidings be received
      With universal joy,
   And let the high angelic praise
      Our tuneful powers employ!
6 “Glory to God who gave his Son
      To bear our shame and pain;
   Hence peace on earth, and grace to men,
      In endless blessings reign.”
                        Thomas Gibbons, 1769.

Jesus Christ, Names and Titles
375 — Fountain
1 The fountain of Christ, assist me to sing,
      The blood of our Priest, our crucified King:
   Which perfectly cleanses from sin and from filth,
      And richly dispenses salvation and health.
2 This fountain from guilt, not only makes pure;
      And gives, soon as felt, infallible cure:
   But if guilt removed, return, and remain,
      Its power may be proved again and again.
3 This fountain, though rich, from charge is quite clear,
      The poorer the wretch, the welcomer here:
   Come needy, and guilty, come loathsome and bare;
      You can’t come too filthy, come just as you are.
4 This fountain in vain has never been tried;
      It takes out all stain whenever applied:
   The water flows sweetly with virtue divine,
      To cleanse souls completely, though leprous as mine.
                        Joseph Hart, 1759.

Jesus Christ, His Praise
435 — Blessed Be His Name
1 I bless the Christ of God;
      I rest on love divine;
   And with unfaltering lip and heart,
      I call this Saviour mine.
2 His cross dispels each doubt;
      I bury in his tomb
   Each thought of unbelief and fear,
      Each lingering shade of gloom.
3 I praise the God of grace;
      I trust his truth and might;
   He calls me his, I call him mine,
      My God, my joy, my light.
4 In him is only good,
      In me is only ill;
   My ill but draws his goodness forth,
      And me he loveth still.
5 ‘Tis he who saveth me,
      And freely pardon gives;
   I love because he loveth me,
      I live because he lives.
6 My life with him is hid,
      My death has pass’d away,
   My clouds have melted into light,
      My midnight into day.
                     Horatius Bonar, 1863.

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

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Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

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