2564. Strange Ways Of Love

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No. 2564-44:157. A Sermon Delivered On Thursday Evening, February 8, 1883, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, April 3, 1898.

Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortingly to her. {Ho 2:14}

 For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2564, “Strange Ways of Love” 2565}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2754, “Strange Dispensations and Matchless Consolations” 2755}
   Exposition on Ho 2:14,15 Ex 15:1-21 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2569, “Backslider’s Door of Hope, The” 2570 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Ho 2:5-23 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2295, “God’s People, or Not God’s People” 2296 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Ho 2:6-23 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2564, “Strange Ways of Love” 2565 @@ "Exposition"}

1. The first part of this chapter is very dark, but the second part is clear daylight. As we read the first verses, we tremble, for we seem to stand at the foot of Sinai when it is shrouded in smoke; but when we reach the second half of the chapter, we can say that “we are come to Mount Zion,” we hear no sound of trumpet, but the voice of that blood “which speaks better things than that of Abel.” The reason for this is, not that God has changed, nor that the person who is here spoken of has changed; up to this point there is no change indicated in the person, it is the same unchaste, unholy, obstinate, rebellious, ungrateful creature. Yet there is a wonderful change in the words spoken, and the reason is that there is a change of covenants, and the sinner is brought from under law to come under grace. God no longer convicts of sin by the terrors of the law, but he comes to deal with the poor guilty soul on terms of love and mercy. This is the great wonder of wonders that it should ever be truly said that “in due time Christ died for the ungodly,” and that he is saved who believes in him who justifies the ungodly. Christ died for us, not as saints, not as godly people, but as the ungodly. Our subject is all about the dealings of divine love with guilty sinners, by which God brings them to himself. I shall speak of four things.

2. I. The first is that, in our text, FOR GOD’S DEEDS OF LOVE, THERE IS A REASON BEYOND ALL REASON.

3. The text begins with “therefore.” God is very fond of that word, for he never acts illogically. There is always a good reason for all that he does. But his ways are not our ways, neither are his thoughts our thoughts, and sometimes our logic is altogether baffled, and our reasoning faculties seem as if they could not in any way follow the working of the mind of God, if such an expression may be used concerning his wondrous thoughts.

4. Here, then, is a “therefore,” but what is the argument of which this is the conclusion? Two of the most eminent writers on Hosea, who wrote in Latin in the olden time, and were both Roman Catholics, think that the word “therefore” ought to be expunged, for they cannot see any reason for its being here; neither, according to Roman Catholic teaching, is there any reason for it. It is a Scripture nut which is too hard to be cracked if salvation is by human merit and by human works; “therefore” is an obvious non sequitur in such a place as this if that is the theory. But he who understands that salvation is not by works, nor in any degree by human merit, but entirely an act of the free and sovereign grace of God, — that it is not of man, nor by man, — he has found a method of reasoning here which the workmonger will never be able to discover. There is a reason, though it is beyond all reason.

5. Note, then, first, that when God is about to save a man, he finds a reason for grace where there is none. Where there is no reason in the man, God nevertheless finds one. There never can be any reason in a man’s sin why God should pardon it; at least we cannot see how it can be so, yet David did when he prayed, “For your name’s sake, oh Lord, pardon my iniquity; for it is great,” as if the very greatness of it was turned into a reason why it should be forgiven. This is an exceptional argument. When a man has rebelled against the Lord, is that a reason why God should proclaim an act of amnesty and oblivion? When man refuses to accept forgiveness, is that any reason why the Lord should go out of his way to change that sinner’s obstinacy so as not to let him destroy his own soul? I fail to see any reason for it, but God finds a reason, “for he is kind to the unthankful and to the evil.” “He makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” We think it always wise to enquire whether a person who applies for alms is a worthy person, for we like to give to deserving people; but God likes to give to the unworthy and undeserving, and he has a reason for it, for how could mercy be so honoured as in the forgiveness of the guilty, and how could grace get for itself so complete a victory as in reclaiming those who are utterly lost? God finds a reason where for us, at any rate, there seems to be none whatever. If, dear friend, you are self-condemned, and can see no reason why the Lord should have mercy on you, yet he finds a reason in the very fact of your being unable to see any. He finds, in that very brokenness, and misery, and helplessness of yours, a reason why his own sweet love and mercy should come and deal with you, even with you.

6. Further, God not only finds a reason where we cannot see any, but he makes a reason which overrides all other reasons. There was a reason why he should have put Israel away altogether. She had been, as it were, espoused to him; — that is the parallel that is given to us, — and if it seems in your judgment wrong that I should use the parallel, I cannot help it; it is in the Bible, and I am going to follow it. God compares Israel to a wife who has left her husband, broken her marriage vow, and become unchaste, filthy, and polluted. In such a case as that, there are a thousand reasons why a man says, “I cannot have her as my wife any longer; how can I dishonour myself by receiving her again into my house and into my heart?” Yes, just so; but God finds a reason for receiving his banished and guilty ones over and above all reasons why he should put them away. He looks over the head of the argument for their destruction, and finds reasons for their salvation. These people had given themselves up to the worship of that abominable idol-god called Baal, whose very worship was full of filthiness; and you can conceive of the grief of the holy God when he saw them bowing down before such an obscene deity as this. That was a reason why he should put them away, and have no more to do with them; but he had in his heart a reason that was stronger than any reason in their guilt and in their crime. He had also chastened them; he had brought them very low with famine, and with fever, yet they had gone on in sin worse than ever; and if they did seem to return for a little while, they were soon off again on their wanderings. These provocations of theirs cried aloud, “Put them away; destroy them; have no mercy on them”; yet God, whose mercy endures for ever, still found a reason for looking favourably on poor Israel, and he said, “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortingly to her.” In the same way, though you, poor conscience-stricken sinner, may see ten thousand reasons why you should be lost, God sees a reason which is stronger than all those, and which, with a louder voice cries over their heads, “Let them live, let them find mercy from your hands, oh God!” So, he finds a reason that overrides every other reason.

7. Indeed, and I go further, and say that God turns reasons against us into reasons for us. Every sin is a reason why a sinner should perish; every wilful transgression is a reason why a man should be given over to continue in his wilfulness; but God does not reason like that. In his infinite mercy, he treats our sin as though it were a necessity rather than a crime. You know how you deal with people who are in great need. Did you ever hear a beggar, who came to your door, say, “Sir, I am not very badly off; I have a nice little income; still, I want some relief.” How much will he get out of you? He goes to work in the wrong way; but here comes a man in a most dilapidated state. His garments are all in rags, his feet are on the ground, his body is emaciated, he tells you that he has not tasted food for the last two days, that he has to walk the streets at night, and has nowhere to lay his head; and the worse his story is, the more he prevails with you. Now, the Lord, in his infinite mercy, taking that tender view of sinning, as if it had bred a necessity in men, loves to hear them speak with him, — not like this, “God, I thank you I am not as other men are.” You know the rest of it; but the man who said that was not accepted by God. But the Lord loves to hear a man say, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” That cry touches his heart. It is the greatness of men’s sin which he interprets to be the greatness of their necessity, and therefore, he deals with them in mercy.

8. He does this also when he treats sin as if it were a disease. If a man were taken into a hospital, or if he were picked up on a battle-field, and carried to the surgeon who has a large number of patients to wait on, does the man who is suffering say, “Oh, it is a very slight affair, just a mere grazing of the skin, that is all?” He knows that, if he talked like that, the surgeon would pass him by to attend to the man whose wound will prove mortal if it is not stanched within a few minutes. The man who has the attention of the humane surgeon is the one who can truly say, “Sir, there is not a more severely wounded person in all this throng, my voice is failing, I am almost choked, I shall die if you do not attend to me at once.” The surgeon says to the other patients, “My good fellows, you must all wait for a while; I must see to that poor man.” Now, God looks at your sin as if it were a deadly disease working in you, and the greatness of your malady becomes a plea with him. Oh, how strange it is that the very thing which, as a matter of justice, is really against us, turns out to be for us when it comes to be a matter of pure grace! I want you all to approach it in that way; you know what the woman said to the great Napoleon when she wanted him to save the life of her father. Napoleon said to her, “Woman, I have pardoned this man two or three times before”; but she said, “Sire, please pardon him again.” The emperor answered, “I see no reason in justice why I should do so.” “No, sire,” she replied, “and there is not any; but I am appealing to your mercy. It is a fine opportunity for you to show mercy, for he does not deserve it.” The great man said, “That is well put; let him live.” And God will let you live when you plead on the basis of pure mercy. If you talk about justice, you are a doomed man, for there is nothing in the justice of God but a sharp two-edged sword, the very touch of which will kill you. God’s throne of justice is a place of fiery wrath, which shoots devouring flame; but if you approach it by the door that is sprinkled with the precious blood of Christ, and cry to God for mercy, you shall be received with the kiss of forgiveness. Go, then, to that mercy of God which, in the very sins of men, spells out arguments for displaying itself. God does not want your fulness; he wants your emptiness, so that he may fill it with his fulness. He does not want your good works, you poor sinners; he wants your bad works, so that he may wash them all away. Paul says that Christ “gave himself for our sins,” and Luther’s comment on that is, “He never gave himself for our righteousness, that would not have been worth his having; but he gave himself for our sins.” “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” This is the basis on which we must go to God. They tell us that this preaching of mercy to sinners is against morality; well, morality can take care of itself, God will take care of it; but we know that there is nothing which does promote morality like this wonderful pardoning love of God. Those who never will be reached by being told what they ought to do, for they cannot do it, and will not do it, are reached by being told what God will do for them, and what Christ has done for them; and when they come, and believe that, then they set about doing what is right, and good works are produced, to the glory of God, but on the other theory they never will come from any man living under heaven.

9. II. Now turn to the second point. In our text, notice that there is A METHOD OF POWER BEYOND ALL POWER: “I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness.”

10. This is an exceptional kind of power: “I will allure her”; not, “I will drive her”; not even, “I will draw her,” or, “I will drag her”; or, “I will force her.” No, “I will allure her.” It is a very remarkable word, and it teaches us that the allurement of love surpasses in power all other forces. That is how the devil ruins us; he tempts us with honeyed words, sweet utterances, with the baits of pleasure and the like; and the Lord in mercy determines that, in all truthfulness, he will outbid the devil, and he will win us to himself by fascinations, enticements, and allurements which shall be stronger than any force of resistance we may offer. This is a wonderfully precious word: “I will allure her.” I hardly know how to explain it except by reminding you of how bird-catchers entice the feathered creatures with the allurements of decoy-birds that sing them into the net, or how a mother allures her little child who is just beginning to walk. You have seen her hold out an orange, or an apple, or a sweet, so that the little one may leave the chair against which he is leaning, and come to her arms. That is the meaning of the word: “I will allure her.” God is trying this plan with guilty men, and so tries it as to succeed, for there is in it a power beyond all other power.

11. Other forms of power had been tried on Israel. She had been afflicted; God declared that he would strip her even to nakedness; and he had done so, yet she did not turn to him. He said to her, “I will hedge up your way with thorns”; but she went on right over the thorns. Then he said, “I will make a wall, so that she shall not find her paths”; but she broke through the wall. Affliction by itself cannot bring a man to Christ; you may flog him until he gets more wicked, he may be chastened, as Ahaz was, and yet, like him, go further astray the more he is afflicted, No dear friends, the power of God’s grace — the power of his infinite allurements — will be found to be much stronger than the power of affliction.

12. Moreover, the Lord had tried on Israel the effect of instruction. He says, “She did not know that I gave her grain, and wine, and olive oil”; so he told her, but instruction did not help her. She sinned in the light as badly as she had done in the darkness. Then he tried what could be done by exposure. He says, — and it is a strong word, — “I will reveal her lewdness in the sight of her lovers.” There are some people who are made to be thoroughly ashamed; they are found out in some secret sin; they are convicted in something which, even in the eyes of sinners like themselves, is base and dirty, and they cannot deny it; yet they do not turn from sin, they still cling to it.

13. In addition to all this, the Lord had tried the power of sorrow on sorrow, for it is written, “I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts. And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees.” Though she found no mirth in sin, and the way of her transgression was hard, yet Israel would not turn to God; but the sweet allurement of tenderness would succeed where everything else had failed.

14. This was a power which was greater than those other forms of power, because the allurement of love overcomes the will to resist. Israel could resist everything else, but she could not resist the allurements of God’s grace; they won her where nothing else could. If Christ only touches the blind man’s eyes, so that out of the corners of them he only gets one glimpse of the Saviour’s beauty, he must infallibly be so enamoured by the Christ that he will love him beyond all others. There are amazing beauties about the person of Jesus, yet, by their own unaided power, men cannot see them; but if once Christ enables them to see him as he is, and they experience the power of his eternal love, then their hearts are captured, and they resist him no longer; in fetters of grace they are led as willing captives to Christ.

15. Let me tell you one or two things about the Saviour that, I think, one never can resist. There is, first, his self-denying love, — that he loved his enemies, — that he loved such poor creatures as we are, who could do him no good. He was infinitely glorious; and we were insignificant, and what was worse, we were opposed to him; yet each believer can say, “He loved me, and gave himself for me.” Out of pure, selfless affection, he came to earth, to dwell in a stable, to nurse on a woman’s breast, a babe as feeble as any other babe; and then, marvel of marvels, his life on earth ended on a cross, — the cruel gibbet of utmost scorn. There the faultless One bears all our fault, and because of our transgression he is nailed to the tree, his back having been scourged, his hands and feet pierced. Indeed, and God himself forsakes him, not for any wrong that he has done, but because he has been guilty of excess of love, and has dared to put himself in the poor sinner’s place to bear the wrath of heaven. Look at him; can you help loving him with his face stained with spittle, and his back all gory from the cruel lash? Is he not more lovely there than even amid eternal thrones? Oh love, love, bleeding love, dying love! If this does not allure men, what will? But that is how God allures the sinner to himself. He says, “I did all this for you; I lived for you; I died for you”; and this wins the sinner’s affections, even though he feels himself the guiltiest of the guilty.

16. Then our blessed Master, having risen from the dead, charms us now by the fact that, amid all his glories, he is faithful to his first love. He has not forgotten you and me, though cherubim and seraphim have been singing his praises all these years, day without night. See what he is doing. He makes intercession for the transgressors, and he bears on his breast-plate the names of guilty ones for whom his cry goes up that they may be forgiven, and find mercy through his wondrous merit. I will not say that you ought to love him, for love does not act that way; but I will say this, — if you truly know him, you cannot help loving him, you must love him. So he allures men to himself by his own personal charms.

17. The Lord draws men to himself in different ways. I was allured to Christ very much by the hope of eternal safety. I was only a lad, and I saw young men, a little older than myself, who had been very promising youths, go off into drunkenness and into vice of different kinds, and I thought that I might do the same; but when I read those words of the apostle, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep what I have committed to him against that day,” I was charmed with Christ as a kind of Preserver of character, — an Insurer of my soul to eternal bliss, and I came to him for that reason. I have known others who have seen the happiness of Christians, — their peace in the midst of turmoil, their joy in times of sorrow, their contentment in poverty, their calmness in prospect of death, and they have said, “If all this happiness can be had in Christ, I will come to him for it,” and in that way he has allured them. Perhaps some of you have never had any great terrors of conscience, or distress of soul; do not fret on that account. If you come by allurements, it is a covenant way of coming. If you are fascinated by the charms of Christ, it is the very way that God declares he will draw his erring and his guilty people. Oh, that you would yield to the fascination! I pray that you may feel the allurement, and say, —

    I yield — by mighty love subdued;
       Who can resist its charms?
    And throw myself, by wrath pursued,
       Into my Saviour’s arms.

18. Do any of you feel some soft drawing? Is there a pierced hand touching you, and a loving voice saying, “Seek the Lord?” Have you been very hard up until now, but does an unusual gentleness steal over your spirit as you are sitting in this house of prayer? Give yourself up to it; it may be that the time of grace is now resting on you. I hope that it is so, that your birthnight has come, and that you are passing from death to life. We have prayed about you, we met for an hour before service, and there was hard pleading for you, and God has given us the desire of our spirit, and you are to come to Christ tonight. Blessed Lord, if it is so, there will be work for angels in heaven to sing your praises concerning a sinner who repents.

19. III. But now, thirdly, and with brevity, here is A CONDITION OF COMPANY BEYOND ALL COMPANY. Kindly read the text again: “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness.”

20. If you have ever heard a sermon from this text, you have probably had it explained to you to mean that God will bring his people into trouble; but it does not mean that. It means that God would cause Israel to be alone with him. It was usual, after the nuptial ceremony, for the husband to take his wife away into some solitary place for a while; the same thing happens among us constantly; when a man is married, away he goes to the seaside for a time, and he takes his spouse away to be with him alone. That is the idea in the text, the Lord says of Israel, “I will allure her to myself,” and then, “I will take her into the wilderness, she shall be in my company, and in no one else’s company.” That is just what the grace of God does; the soul had forgotten him before, but now it thinks only of him; his sweet love has so won it that it is full of God now. Instead of not thinking of him at all, he is in his first thoughts in the morning, and in his thoughts all day long, and the last thing at night, until friends who do not sympathize say, “Why, you are going out of your mind; you are going religiously mad!” I wish that you would keep in that blessed state into which you were brought when the Lord’s love was revealed to you, and his allurements drew your soul to him.

21. The soul in the wilderness, alone with God, does not think of anyone else, and does not trust in anything else. It used to trust in good works; it feels as if it does not have any now, though really its first good works are just being produced. Oh, what a clearance of our finery the love of God makes when it comes into the soul! We are the most respectable people who ever lived until we know God, and then we abhor ourselves, and repent in dust and ashes.

22. Now it comes to pass that God is our only joy. Once we had joy in the theatre, or joy in the ballroom, or joy in other worldly things; but now we find true joy in God, and all other rejoicing seems only the mirth of fools and idiots. When we have once sat at the feast in our Father’s house, we cannot go back to eat the husks that satisfy swine. We have something better than that, our Lord has brought us where everything except himself is a wilderness, and our cry is, “Oh God, you are my God; I will seek you early: my soul thirsts for you, my flesh longs for you in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is.” Joy in God eats up all other joy, as Aaron’s rod swallowed up the rods of the impostors; now we can say of the Lord, “He is all my salvation, and all my desire.” Oh, to be totally his; and to enjoy all that we can enjoy of him! This is what he means by bringing us into the wilderness; that is, into the solitary place to be alone with himself.

23. It may also be understood — and the context requires it, — that God brings his people into the same condition into which he brought the Israelite nation of old. It was not to afflict them that he brought them into the wilderness, it was to take them out of affliction that he led them there, and that is the meaning of our text. When the Lord allures his people, he takes them away from the old Egyptian bondage, he leads them through the Red Sea, he makes it roll between them and their old life, and then he treats them just as he treated his people in the wilderness; that is, he provides their food, they live on manna; no longer do they have their kneading-troughs, which they brought out of Egypt. I wonder what they did with those kneading-troughs; they never needed them in the wilderness, certainly, for the manna was all ready for them when it fell.

24. Then, next, the Lord becomes the Guard of his people, a wall of fire all around them. He protects them by a fiery pillar at night; and he is the only Guide and Leader of his people, by cloud or by fire he leads them both by night and by day. He becomes the healing of his people, for, in the wilderness, when Israel had sinned, and the fiery serpent had bitten them, they looked to the bronze serpent, and they lived. The Lord was the Champion and Defender of his people; He struck Sihon, king of the Amorites, “for his mercy endures for ever; and Og, the king of Bashan; for his mercy endures for ever.” In the wilderness, Israel had nothing but God; did they need anything else? They carried on no commerce; they had no railways; they kept no shops. Well, really, if you could go out every morning, and gather your bread, and if, when you wanted meat, the quails came in any quantity for you to feed on, and if your clothes never wore out, neither did your feet swell, that would be a grand life to lead. May the Lord bring you and me under the wings of his eternal providence; and if the world should seem a wilderness to us, yet if God still continues to scatter the manna, and faith only has hands with which to gather it, and a joyful mouth with which to feed on it, then, blessed be God, the wilderness is better than anywhere else! “I will allure her, and bring her into the isolated place where she shall walk by faith; and I will dwell with her, and walk with her; and I will be her God, and she shall be mine for ever.” That is the meaning of the promise, a condition of company beyond all company.

25. IV. Now, fourthly, we have, in our text, A VOICE OF COMFORT BEYOND ALL COMFORT: “I will speak comfortingly to her.” The Hebrew is, “I will speak to her heart,” — a style of speech that can only be adopted by God who made the heart, and searches the heart, and tries the reins of the children of men.

26. When the Lord gets his people all alone, what words of comfort he has with them! What words they are when he assures them of their full forgiveness, when they see all the sins of their former perverse life gone for ever, and hear the Lord say, “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, your transgressions, and, as a cloud, your sins.” These are indeed comforting words when they are spoken home to the heart; and so they are when the Lord not only tells his people that all evil is removed, but that all good is theirs, — when such words as these come home to them: “Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God,” — “and it does not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is”; — “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”; — “Who by God is made to us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” Those are comforting words when the Lord goes on to tell us about our everlasting safety: “Those who trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but remains for ever”; — and when in prayer he foretells our coming glory: “Father, I will that they also, whom you have given to me, be with me where I am.”

27. I like even better that rendering, “I will speak to her heart.” I heard of one, who died many years ago, and an old divine, who stood by his bedside, reported what he said. He had been a great professor, but he had become an apostate, and turned aside, but he used to comfort himself with the universal mercy of God; and when he lay dying, he said to the minister, “Sir, I have made a bandage for my wound, but it will not stick.” He turned over in the bed, and said, “It will not stick; it will not stick”; and so he died. Ah, and unless God speaks the gospel to the heart, it will not stick; you cannot get it to stay on the wound. It seems pretty enough, and you imagine that it will heal; it is a “royal court bandage,” but, for all that, it will not stick. But when the Lord speaks the truth home to the heart and conscience, by the Holy Spirit, and the poor trembling sinner grips it as for dear life, and says, “That is mine, I will venture my soul on it; Christ has died for sinners, I am a sinner, and I take Christ to be my Saviour”; then that bandage will stick. What a mercy it is, when God makes it to be so! I can speak to your ears, but I cannot speak to your hearts; and what is more, even this blessed Book of Inspiration could only appeal to the ears; apart from the Spirit of God, it could not reach your heart. But if the Lord himself takes the truth, oh, how blessedly it goes home! I tell you, you desponding and despairing ones, you may come out of the iron cage tonight; you may, this very hour, enter into joyful peace and liberty if the Spirit of God will only speak home a single text, — a solitary word, — a new-covenant word to your spirit. Be of good cheer, then; things impossible with men are possible with God, and you may yet be singing instead of sighing, and shouting instead of groaning. Look to Jesus; all our hope lies in him. May he save you; yes, may the Lord allure you even now! I am afraid I have not spoken gently enough to some of you poor wounded ones. It is very hard for the preacher always to pick his words to suit all his hearers, and perhaps someone will come to me, after the service, and say, “Oh, there was something you said that tried me so very much!” and, usually, the very people who are most tried by the Word are the very ones that we most want to comfort. Sometimes, a dear soul comes to me, and says, “Oh, sir, I am afraid I am a hypocrite!” I answer, “I never met a hypocrite who was afraid that he was a hypocrite.” That could not be, for hypocrites are quite certain that they are not hypocrites; and he who is so timid and trembling that he is afraid he may not take these things of which I have been speaking, is the very person whom we must encourage to lay hold of every sweet and precious promise that falls from the mouth of the Lord Jesus Christ.

28. May God make this promise true for everyone here who does not yet know him, “I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortingly to her!” Amen.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Ho 2:6-23}

6. “Therefore, behold, I will hedge up your way with thorns, and make a wall, so that she shall not find her paths.

God will make sin to be painful, he will make its way difficult, he will do everything to prevent the sinner from running in it: “She shall not find her paths.”

7. And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them;

They cannot find satisfaction in sinful pleasure; what once they easily obtained, they shall no longer be able to procure.

7. And she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then she shall say, ‘I will go and return to my first husband; for then it was better with me than now.’

Am I addressing a backslider? Has God hedged up your way? Is there a whisper in your heart which reminds you of better days and happier times? Oh, do not stifle that whisper! Let it be heard within your spirit; if it is only a gentle voice, listen to it until it increases in force, and sounds like the very voice of God in your soul; it will be for your present and eternal good if you do so.

8. For she did not know that I gave her grain, and wine, and olive oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal.

It is a sad sin when we take God’s mercies, and use them in rebellion against him. Just think of it, — the very gifts which Jehovah gave to these people, they presented in sacrifice to Baal; and there are men, who are in comfortable circumstances, who spend their wealth for sin. They have health and strength, and they use them in the service of their own evil passions. The very gifts with which God has enriched them become weights to sink them deeper and deeper in the gulf of transgression. Ah, this is terrible! God has often brought men down to poverty, to sickness, to death’s door, in order that they might be weaned from their sin. He saw that they were going to hell full-handed, and he judged it better that they should go to heaven empty-handed. He knew that, if they had health, they would misuse it, so he stretched them on the bed of sickness, so that they might turn to him. God has severe remedies for desperate cases; he will do all that mercy and wisdom can suggest to prevent men from being their own destroyers.

9-11. Therefore I will return, and take away my grain in its time, and my wine in its season, and will recover my wool and my flax given to cover her nakedness. And now I will reveal her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and no one shall deliver her out of my hand. I will also make all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.

There is no more merriment now; the old songs have lost their sweetness, and the old games have lost their charm.

12. And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, of which she has said, ‘These are my rewards that my lovers have given me’: and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them.

So that the joys of sin shall become miseries, as if vineyards were suddenly turned into dense forests where lions and wolves might make their lairs. There are some people who can understand this in a spiritual sense; some, perhaps, who have been made to understand it in their own experience.

13. And I will visit on her the days of Baalim, when she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgot me,” says the LORD.

It is terrible when God comes to visit on men the days of their sin, — when for every night of sin they shall have a night of anguish, — when for every pleasure that they took in sin they shall feel the scourge of conscience until they have measured out the weary round.

“ ‘She went after her lovers, and forgot me,’ says the LORD.” This was said by him who never forgot her, by him whose love was true and faithful to her when she went away from him like this, and defiled herself and dishonoured his holy name. Now read the next verse, and be astonished, —

14. “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortingly to her.

You might have thought the Lord was going to say, “Therefore, behold, I will destroy her.” Nothing of the kind: “I will fascinate her to myself, I will draw her away from all her idol lovers, and I will speak comfortingly to her.”

15. And I will give her her vineyards from there, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.

“I will pluck this Israel of mine out of all her sin; I will give her back the purity and the happiness of her early days: ‘She shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.’ ” You must have noticed how often God speaks of that coming out of Egypt. He says, in another place, “I remember you, the kindness of your youth, the love of your espousals, when you went after me in the wilderness.” Here the Lord promises to give back to Israel the joy she had when she was young, and espoused herself to her God.

16. And it shall be at that day,” says the LORD, “that you shall call me ‘Ishi’; and shall call me no more ‘Baali’.

“You shall call me, ‘My man, my husband,’ ” — a name of sweet endearment, “and shall call me no more ‘Baali,’ ” that is, “my lord, my lordly husband,” for the Lord’s love shall not be galling to you, but it shall sweetly and gently rule you. Oh, what a sweet change this is, when we no longer tremble before God with slavish fear, but love him with intense affection, and see in him our soul’s Husband in whom is all our delight!

17. For I will take away the names of Balaam out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name.

The word Baalim had been profaned, they had applied it to other lords; and when they used it concerning Jehovah, it sounded harsh, as if he, too, was a tyrant master.

18. And in that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground:

Everything is in covenant with me if I am in covenant with God; there is nothing so high that it can harm me, there is nothing so low that it can injure me, there is nothing so great that it need distress me, there is nothing so little that it shall torment me.

18. And I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely.

Oh, the security of God’s people when they get into their right position towards God!

19. And I will betroth you to me for ever; yes, I will betroth you to me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies.

What a glorious promise this is! It is marvellous that our wayward, wanton, wicked souls should be brought back by infinite mercy, and then that God should be so enamoured with us as to declare, “I will betroth you to me for ever.”

20. I will even betroth you to me in faithfulness: and you shall know the LORD.

It is said three times that he will betroth us to himself, as if the Lord knew that we should hardly be able to believe it.

21, 22. And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear,” says the LORD, “I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; and the earth shall hear the grain, and the wine, and the olive oil; and they shall hear Jezreel.

So that there shall be no famine to try God’s people; their prayers shall be abundantly answered, and all their needs shall be supplied.

23. And I will sow her for myself in the earth; and I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy; and I will say to those who were not my people, ‘You are my people’; and they shall say, ‘You are my God.’ ”

Oh, blessed Scripture! May the Lord write it on all our hearts! Amen.

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “God the Father, Attributes of God — The Mercy Of God” 201}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Man Fallen — Jesus Delivering The Lost Ones” 476}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Contrite Cries — ‘Bless Me, Even Me Also, Oh My Father!’ ” 607}

God the Father, Attributes of God
201 — The Mercy Of God <11s.>
1 Thy mercy, my God, is the theme of my song,
   The joy of my hear, and the boast of my tongue;
   Thy free grace alone, from the first to the last,
   Hath won my affection, and bound my soul fast.
2 Without thy sweet mercy, I could not live here,
   Sin soon would reduce me to utter despair;
   But through thy free goodness my spirits revive,
   And he that first made me still keeps me alive.
3 Thy mercy is more than a match for my heart,
   Which wonders to feel its own hardness depart;
   Dissolved by thy goodness, I fall to the ground,
   And weep to the praise of the mercy I’ve found.
4 The door of thy mercy stands open all day,
   To the poor and the needy, who knock by the way;
   No sinner shall ever be empty sent back,
   Who comes seeking mercy for Jesus’s sake.
5 Thy mercy in Jesus exempts me from hell;
   Its glories I’ll sing, and its wonders I’ll tell;
   ‘Twas Jesus, my friend, when he hung on the tree,
   That opened the channel of mercy for me.
6 Great Father of mercies! thy goodness I own,
   And the covenant love of thy crucified Son;
   All praise to the Spirit, whose whisper divine
   Seals mercy, and pardon, and righteousness mine!
                     John Stocker, 1776, a.

Man Fallen
476 — Jesus Delivering The Lost Ones
1 Buried in shadows of the night
   We lie, till Christ restores the light;
   Wisdom descends to heal the blind,
   And chase the darkness of the mind.
2 Our guilty souls are drown’d in tears
   Till his atoning blood appears;
   Then we awake from deep distress,
   And sing, “The Lord our Righteousness.”
3 Our very frame is mix’d with sin,
   His Spirit makes our natures clean;
   Such virtues from his sufferings flow,
   At once to cleanse and pardon too.
4 Poor helpless worms in thee possess
   Grace, wisdom, power, and righteousness;
   Thou art our Mighty All, and we
   Give our whole selves, Oh Lord, to thee.
                           Isaac Watts, 1709.

The Christian, Contrite Cries
607 — “Bless Me, Even Me Also, Oh My Father!”
1 Lord, I hear of showers of blessing
      Thou art scattering, full and free;
   Showers, the thirsty land refreshing;
      Let some droppings fall on me,
                                 Even me.
2 Pass me not, oh gracious Father!
      Sinful though my heart may be;
   Thou might’st curse me, but the rather
      Let thy mercy light on me,
                                 Even me.
 3 Pass me not, oh tender Saviour!
      Let me love and cling to thee;
   I am longing for thy favour;
      When thou comest, call for me,
                                 Even me.
 4 Pass me not, oh mighty Spirit!
      Thou canst make the blind to see;
   Witnesser of Jesus’ merit,
      Speak the word of power to me,
                                 Even me.
 5 Have I long in sin been sleeping,
      Long been slighting, grieving thee?
   Has the world my heart been keeping?
      Oh forgive and rescue me,
                                 Even me.
 6 Love of God, so pure and changeless,
      Blood of God, so rich and free,
   Grace of God, so strong and boundless,
      Magnify them all in me,
                                 Even me.
 7 Pass me not, this lost one bringing,
      Satan’s slave thy child shall be,
   All my heart to thee is springing;
      Blessing other, oh bless me,
                                 Even me.
                        Elizabeth Codner, 1860.

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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