2847. Barriers Obliterated

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Barriers Obliterated

No. 2847-49:421. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, September 16, 1877, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Published On Thursday, September 3, 1903.

I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and, like a cloud, your sins; return to me; for I have redeemed you. {Isa 44:22}

 For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1895, “Love Abounding, Love Complaining, Love Abiding” 1896}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2563, “Grace for the Guilty” 2564}
   Exposition on Isa 43:21-44:23 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2847, “Barriers Obliterated” 2848 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Isa 44:1-22 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2384, “Forget You, I Will Not” 2385 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Isa 44; 45; 2Sa 33:1-5 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2450, “Joy of Redemption, The” 2451 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Isa 44 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2429, “Converts, and Their Confession of Faith” 2430 @@ "Exposition"}

1. We noticed, as we read the chapter, the extreme folly of a man attempting to make a god for himself, or to worship anything as God except only the one living and true God. We consider the heathen to be very foolish for worshipping their hideous idols. Yet, you know, to be an idolater, a man does not need to make an image of wood, or stone, or gold, for he can worship his own thoughts, his own ideas, his own notions; and every man, whose great object in life is anything less than the glory of God, really is a worshipper of idols. If that statement is true, — and I challenge anyone to prove that it is not, — London swarms with spiritual idolaters. He, who lives for himself, practically worships himself. That, you know, is a very extreme form of idolatry, for even the heathen do not bow down and worship themselves; but there are many, who do not call themselves heathen, who do that. He who lives only to make money, — what is he but a worshipper of the golden calf? And he who cares continually for the opinion of his fellow men, — what does he worship but that shameless creature, Fame? He lives on the breath from other men’s nostrils, and considers it worth his while to make himself a slave so that he may win the applause of his fellow slaves. If we live for you, great God, we live wisely; for only you are self-existent, and you can reward us and bless us; but if we live for anything less than you, we live foolishly, since, even if we could attain the objects after which we seek, they would soon pass away from us, or else, by death, we should pass away from them. For an immortal spirit, there is nothing worth living for but to please God. “To glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever,” is the only worthy purpose of mortal man.

2. Now, beloved friends, it is strange that this, which seems so simple, is continually being forgotten; indeed, by the majority of mankind, it is not remembered at all. They go their way, and burn their sacrifices and their incense to this idol and to that, but God is not at all in their thoughts; and the worst of this evil is, that even his own people have far too great a tendency for this kind of idolatry. Even those who are born again, and who love the Lord, find within themselves an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God, and I feel sure that I am addressing many who, to a greater or lesser degree, have been guilty of turning away from the only true God; and it is for them that my text is meant: “I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and, like a cloud, your sins: return to me; for I have redeemed you.” I am speaking, of course, to those who really are God’s people, but who have lost something of the fervour of their love, and who have not been truly faithful to him; but while I am especially addressing them, I hope that a good many others, who could not yet say that they are the Lord’s people, will, nevertheless, perceive that the door of God’s mercy is also open to them, and that they will enter in even while I am opening it for the Lord’s wandering children. Remember that, if you do get in, you will never be put out. Whether I know that I have a right to go through the gate of mercy, or not, if I once get in, I am in, and I shall never be turned out. If I am only like a dog that goes into a house uninvited, yet, as long as I am once inside, there is no power that can expel me, for the Lord Jesus himself said, “Whoever comes to me I will in no wise cast out.”

3. There are four things in our text that are worthy of notice. First, the dividing medium: a cloud of sins, — a thick cloud of transgressions; secondly, its complete removal:“ I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and, like a cloud, your sins”; thirdly, the tender command:“ Return to me”; and, fourthly, the sacred claim:“ for I have redeemed you.” I must speak briefly on each point.

4. I. First, here is AN INTERVENING AND DIVIDING MEDIUM: a cloud of sins. A vapour, says the Hebrew; and, then, a thick cloud.

5. God’s people ought always to dwell in fellowship with their God. There ought to be nothing between the renewed heart and God to prevent joyful and hallowed fellowship; but it is not so. Sometimes, a cloud comes between, — a cloud of sin; and, whenever that cloud of sin comes between us and God, it speedily chills us. Our delight in God is no longer obvious; we have little or no zeal in his service, or joy in his worship. Beneath that cloud, we feel like men who are frozen; and, at the same time, darkness comes over us. We get into such a sad state that we hardly know whether we are God’s people, or not. Sin comes between us and our God, and all our joy departs. To be near to God, is to live in the sunlight; but to sin against God, soon brings us under very heavy gloom. We are like men in a thick London fog; we can scarcely see our own hands, and we have, sometimes, to stand still in utter astonishment, and ask, “Where am I, and what am I? I thought I was a child of God; but if I were to die just now, where should I go?” Sin is the cloud which comes between us and God, and chills and darkens us.

6. Besides that, it threatens us. A great black cloud over one’s head makes us wonder what may be in it. It may be charged with tempest, and may burst on our devoted heads. Backslider, when you get away from God, I do not wonder that you begin to be in distress and alarm. The thought of death distresses you. At one time, you could have met death with a calm countenance; but you could not do so now. You begin to have thoughts of judgment, and of eternal wrath and destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power. You know you do, for he who is under the frown of God because of sin never knows what woe may come out of that dark cloud. He is full of alarm and distress, and has no true rest of heart. Affliction seems to be the judgment of God on you who are in this sad state; and your present distress of mind, great as it is, seems to be nothing compared with what you think will come on you. You fear that you will be utterly deserted, — that God’s mercy will be taken from you for ever, and that he will be favourable to you no more. It is your sins that look so black on you; you have the dark side of them turned to you; and can you wonder that it is so if you have been getting away from God, loving the world, and acting like a fool in forsaking the Most High?

7. Remember, dear friend, if you are in that condition, that clouds are earth-born things. There is not a drop of water in the cloud up there but what went up, first of all, from the earth or the sea; and so, your present darkness and distress have all arisen from your sins. You say that you go to the house of God, and get no comfort. Remember the times when you used to go there, and pay very little attention; and when you used to go home, and pick holes in what you had heard, — finding fault with your spiritual food, like naughty children do with food for the body when they have no appetite, and cannot eat this, and do not like that; — like them, you need to be put on “scanty rations” until you get your spiritual appetite back again. Do you remember how it used to be with you? You had bright days once, and happy times; but, then, you used to be very careful concerning your walk and conversation. At that time, you were almost afraid to put one foot before another, for fear you should not tread in your Lord’s footprints. You used to watch your words; you were very particular concerning the company you kept; you would not consort with worldlings then; but, now, you can do, without compunction, a thousand things which you would not have done then. Things for which you have severely censured others, you now tolerate in yourself; and now you say, “There is a thick black cloud over my sky.” Do you wonder that there is? With all those bogs and morasses of sin, is there any marvel that the mists of doubt and fear should have arisen around you? Your iniquities have separated you from your God. Ah! there are some of you, who used to be very fervent and earnest in divine things. You used to speak of Christ to others, and you were even the means of bringing some souls to Jesus; yet now you yourselves have turned aside from him. Oh, it is a sad thing when one who used to be a Sunday School teacher has forgotten the lessons he taught to his boys, or when the man, who was once a street preacher, or even the pastor of a Christian church, has himself become a profaner of the Sabbath; yet such things do happen.

8. I will mention only one more thought under this point, — a very encouraging one. It is this, though your sins are like clouds, which chill you, and darken you, and though those clouds are of your own making, yet remember that the sun is not affected by the clouds. Though hidden for a while, it is still shining. This is a most comforting truth, but be careful not to pervert it. The everlasting love of God for his people is not changed even by their wanderings and their sins. The child thinks that the clouds have destroyed the sun; but high up above the clouds it is as bright as ever. For ever glowing like a mighty furnace are you, oh sun; and our dampness and fogs do not quench your brilliance! And, backslider, the love of God, the grace of God, the mercy of God, the power of God to bless, and the willingness of God to receive you back again remain just the same as they ever were notwithstanding the density of these horrible vapours of sin and transgression. Please do not make a bad use of this great truth. If you do so, you will give sure evidence that you are no child of God, but a base hypocrite; but if there is any spiritual life within you, this blessed truth will tend to bring on you compunction of conscience to think that you should be offending against a God, whose love is still the same notwithstanding all your backsliding, and who does not turn aside from his covenant, nor cast away his people, whom he foreknew.

9. II. Now, secondly, we are to consider THE COMPLETE REMOVAL OF THIS BARRIER: “I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and, like a cloud, your sins.”

10. No one but God can get at the clouds, and drive them from the firmament of heaven. There they are, floating high above our heads, and no known human power can remove them. So it is with your darkness and doubts, if you have fallen into sin. You cannot get rid of them. You may sit down under them in despondency, and weep, and be almost in despair; but there they are, and there they will remain. You may go to the so-called priests, if you like, as the poor African goes to the pretended rainmaker, and asks him to bring rain when he needs it; and the priest can do just as much for you as the rainmaker can do for the African, certainly not any more. He and the rainmaker are a couple of deceivers, so do not be duped by either of them. There is no one who can forgive sins except God only, so do not be deluded into the belief that there is any other forgiver in the whole universe.

11. But what a mercy it is that God can remove these clouds of sin! He can do it, and do it effectively. How quickly God sweeps the sky clear of clouds! Sometimes, in this fickle climate, we have all kinds of weather mixed up together, so that we experience spring, summer, autumn, and winter in the course of a few hours. You have seen the clouds hanging thick and heavy all over the sky; you have gone into your house, and said, “It will be a very wet day”; but you have hardly gone indoors before there has been a clear blue sky above you, with not a cloud the size of a man’s hand to be seen anywhere. So God can quickly sweep away the clouds, and he can just as quickly take away sin. Before you can even get out of this building, you, who are groaning under a sense of sin, may be completely delivered from it. You, who now see the clouds of your transgressions and iniquities hanging black above your heads, may, in a moment, be able to see the clear sky of God’s forgiving love with not a trace of all your transgression and iniquity.

12. The mercy is, that, when God drives away these clouds from us, though we may see other clouds, we shall never see those black ones any more. When the Lord takes away his people’s sins, they are gone, and gone for ever. They shall not be remembered against them any more for ever. Whenever I get on this topic, I feel as though I should like to keep on speaking on it, and go no further. The glorious forgiving love of God is an indescribable theme, and it is altogether inexhaustible. We may continue to talk about it year after year, but we shall never get to the end of it; yes, even throughout eternity, we shall never be able to tell all the splendours of the pardoning mercy of our gracious God. Oh backslider, he can take away all your sin this very moment! He can shine on you like the sun in its strength; and, then, every shadow and cloud shall be driven from your soul.

13. Now I am getting near to the very heart of the text, but I have not quite reached it yet, for the glory of it is that the Lord has already done this great work of grace. The text does not say, “I can blot out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions”; nor, “I will blot them out”; but, “I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions.” It is done, fully done, for ever done. Do you hear this, poor wanderer? Perhaps you say, “I cannot come back to God, for I have been a wanderer from him for so long, and my sins still lie heavily on me.” But, my brother, my sister, the Lord has forgiven you all your sin. He says, “Think no more about it, for I have blotted it all out.” If you are indeed a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, you are like a child who has offended his father, — run away from home, perhaps. In a distant land, in sin and sorrow, that son is longing to return, and he gets a message from his father saying, “All is forgiven; come home.” It is so with you, you wandering child of God, if you have repented of your wanderings, all is forgiven; even the guilt of this backsliding of yours was laid on Christ. If you are believing in him, that is the clearest possible proof that all your transgressions were laid on him, and that he has made a full and complete atonement for them all. Even while you are coming back to him, all your sin is forgiven through the superabundant mercy which moves him to run to meet you even as the father of the prodigal ran to meet his son; and before he falls on your neck, before you have begun to confess your transgressions in his ear, he has already blotted them all out. What do you say to this wonderful display of sovereign grace, which he himself tells us to proclaim to you? He knows whether he has forgiven your sin, or not, and it is he who says, “I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and, like a cloud, your sins.” Frequently I have mused on this great truth, — The Lord has loved me with an everlasting love, and he has washed me in the precious blood of Christ, and forgiven me all my transgressions; and whenever I think of that, I feel my heart drawn even more closely towards him.

14. Unbelief will never bring you rest of heart, but faith will do so. I am speaking now to any of you who have wandered quite a long way from Christ. I may be even addressing some member of the Tabernacle who has not recently been very regular in hearing the Word. You have fallen into a very lean, sad state, my brother; you are finding fault with other people, but it is yourself who ought to be blamed. Many things do not suit you now as they used to do, and you lay on others the blame which you ought yourself to bear. You could sit on any hard seat once, but you need a soft cushion now. You could stand in any hot place to hear the gospel in those days; but you are too grand a gentleman to do that now. I do not know what we can do to get you into a good mood; for, after all, you are the one who is wrong. You know it is so; yet, notwithstanding that, I want to whisper in your ear that your Father is still your Father, that Christ is still your Saviour, that the Holy Spirit is still your Guide and Teacher; so, come home. Do not stay away any longer because you fear your Father’s frown. You have grieved him, you have vexed his Holy Spirit, you have dishonoured his Son, yet he has not changed. His heart still yearns over you, he still cries, “How can I give you up?” and he will not. Come back to him, for it is his mercy that is calling you.

15. III. I have already passed into the third division of my subject almost before I was aware of it. We have already seen that there is a barrier between some souls and God, and that the Lord can clear that barrier away; now we are to consider THE TENDER COMMAND: “ ‘Return to me.’ The great barrier, that separated us, is removed; so let us not be separated from each other any longer.”

16. Perhaps, my brother, you have thought that God had stopped loving you; but he has not. You have begun to quarrel with God because you imagined that he had a quarrel with you; but it is not so, for he still loves you; it was your sin that he hated. Kindness is in his heart, and words of infinite love are still on his lips. Surely, if you know that the sin, which has come like a great mountain chain between you and himself, is regarded by him as a mere vapour, — a cloud, — which he has removed by the power of his almighty grace, you will give heed to him when he cries to you, “Come back. Come back. Come back. Bygones shall be bygones. I have laid the guilt of all your wanderings on the great Scapegoat’s head. I have drawn my pen through the record of your sin in my book of remembrance, and have struck it all out. Come back. Come back.” When, in your soul, you hear God speak to you like this, do not your hearts at once respond, “Lord, since you have taken away the barrier that separated us, we will come back to you, and we will come back this very hour?”

17. When he says, “Return,” he means that he wants you to give up what has grieved him. You cannot come back to God, you know, bringing your love for sin with you. Some of you professors, who are, I hope; still the Lord’s people, fall into various evil ways which grieve the Holy Spirit, and then the black clouds form a great barrier between you and your God. He requires you to give up what has caused the dark clouds to cover your sky. What is it that has brought about this sad result? I have known some professors to fall into a sad state through keeping bad company; they have associated with some very fascinating person who has been able to greatly amuse them, but who certainly could not edify them, for he knew nothing savingly of the things of God. I have known some professors to go, by degrees, into very gross sin, as the result of giving way to the habit of tippling; they would not like to be called drunkards, but I am sure I do not know what other name I could give them. And some nominally Christian tradesmen do things, in their business, which they would not like to have generally known. They seem to forget that God sees them, and knows all about them. Now, any sin, that is known and tolerated, will soon separate a Christian from his God concerning any conscious enjoyment of his presence. Be very careful, then, dear brother, concerning anything which is grieving your God; and though it should be a loss or a cross to you to give it up, do not hesitate for a moment, but give it up, and come back to your Heavenly Father. Nothing can compensate for the loss of his presence; and you cannot have his presence as long as you continue to hug your sin; therefore, give up the sin which he hates, especially since he has forgiven you in the past. If a young man has left his father’s house in anger, but his father writes to him, and says, “William, the trouble is all over. My boy, I fully forgive you, so come back to me”; will he still stay away! Let us hope not; and, dear child of God, your Father says to you, “Return to me, for I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and like a cloud, your sins.” So, give up your sin, since God has blotted it all out.

18. The Lord’s gracious invitation, “Return to me,” also means, “Come back, and love me. See how I have loved you. I have already forgiven you your sin, you who are, indeed, my child, but whose faith has almost disappeared. Though you have provoked me by your sin, I still love you. Though there is nothing lovely about you, yet I still love you, for my name’s sake, and for my Son’s sake, will you not love me?” After such pleading, can you keep on in this cold-hearted state towards your God? Some of you professors make us weep when we think of how you live, and how far you get away from your God. I pray that he may cast the cords of his almighty love around you, and bind you to himself, so that you cannot escape from him if you would, and would not if you could.

19. The Lord also means, when he says, “Return to me,” “Return again to your old joys.” Oh, you who have gotten away from the sunlight, through making your sins into a thick cloud, come back into the sunlight again! I would like to refresh the memories of some of you, who are here, concerning the happy times you once had. Ah, then, you were the people who loved the prayer meeting. How sweet the gatherings of the saints were to you! Do you not also remember your little room, where, kneeling by your bedside, you had such communion with God that, although you are very cold now, you never can quite forget that holy fervour? You were not a hypocrite, were you? You know you were not. Oh, how your feet used to skip along as you went up to the house of God with the multitude that kept holy day! How earnestly you used to tell others of the joys of true religion! Possibly, you say, “Do not remind us of that joy, for we have lost it.” Yes, but you can have it all back again. God can give you once more the years which the locusts have eaten. Those wasted days, those joys which have been starved to death, — you shall have them back again, and you shall again lift up your voice with the sweet singer of Israel, and praise the Lord that his mercy endures for ever. Yes, though you feel like guilty Peter, when he denied his Lord, you may still come back like Peter, and be all the stronger for your past bitter experience. Your Heavenly Father invites you to return, and I, your brother in Christ, would stretch out my hand to you, and say, “Come, my brother; come, my sister;

    Come let us to the Lord our God,
       With contrite hearts return.”

20. IV. My last point is THE SACRED CLAIM WHICH BACKS UP THE GRACIOUS INVITATION: “Return to me,” says the Lord, “for I have redeemed you.”

21. I do not know whether you see the meaning of this, but I think I do. It is this: “I have loved you so much that I redeemed you with the blood of my dear Son; and, having loved you so much in the ages past, I still love you. Come back to me. I did not make a mistake when I first loved you, through which I shall have to change the object of my choice. I knew all about you from eternity; all that you ever would be or could be, I knew it; I saw it all with my foreseeing eye, and yet I loved you, and bought you with the precious blood of Jesus, my only-begotten and well-beloved Son, and I still love you. Therefore, return to me; return, return.”

22. But even that does not convey the full force of this gracious invitation. It further means this: “I have a right to you. I have bought you; you are mine; and you shall not go away from me.” Come back to me, for redemption’s sign, the blood-mark, is on you. Many of you bear in your very bodies the marks of the Lord Jesus; for you have been immersed in water, in the name of the Sacred Trinity, on profession of your being dead to the world, and alive to the Christ. It is utterly impossible for you to get that watermark off you; it is on you for ever. And Christ has marked you as his own with his own blood, and he will not let you go. Listen to what he says about the matter: “Behold these wounds in my head, and hands, and feet, and side. I bought you with the very blood of my heart; so, do you think that I will lose you? Did I bow my head in unspeakable agony, and cry, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ and shall I lose those whom I purchased by my death?” Who is he who shall snatch out of the hands of Christ those whom he has bought with his own blood? Shall the arch-enemy come and steal away the sheep of Christ? Shall the lion of hell devour even one stray lamb out of his flock? No, truly; our greater David shall tear him in pieces first; and deliver every one of the innumerable souls that his blood has redeemed. Buy them with his death, and then leave them to be damned? I find no such sham redemption in this blessed Book, nor would I care the give a farthing for the value of it; but that redemption which Jesus Christ has accomplished is a redemption that does redeem. He has paid too great a price for his people for him ever to lose those whom he purchased with his blood. So he says to each one of you, who have believed in him but who have gone astray from him, “Return to me, for I have redeemed you; and I will have you. Your league with hell is broken, and your covenant with death is annulled. Come back to me. Come back to me. You will never find rest anywhere else. You may go into sin, but you shall never find pleasure in it, neither shall you be content with it. If you were one of the swine, you might fill your belly with the husks that they eat; but you are my child, and you must starve until you come back to my table. For you there shall be no mirth, no music, no feast, no robe, no joy, until you come back to me. I have redeemed you, and I will hedge up your way with thorns until you return to me; but I will not let you go. I will turn you out of your wicked paths. I will beat you as with blows of a cruel one; I will strike you with affliction upon affliction; but I will have you, I will not permit you to perish. Return before this rough treatment is meted out to you. Return at love’s gentle wooings, and with mercy’s tender voice, for I have redeemed you. ‘It is hard for you to kick against the pricks.’ I have you in hand, and I can do with you as I please; and you shall, after all, be drawn back among the rest of my people.” Go, poor dove, and fly over the wild waste of waters. Look North, South, East, West, but you shall never see a log floating on the waves on which you can rest. That foul raven, out there, can land on a corpse, and both rest and feed on the carrion; but you cannot. Fly where you wish, oh dove, there is only one rest for you, and only Noah can tell you where it is. It is within the ark. But do you refuse to return to that ark? Do you still fly, and fly, and fly, until your wings are weary, and you can scarcely keep yourself above the flood? Fly on, on, on, until your pinions, at last, cannot bear you up any longer; but, oh, if you will be wise, fly with your failing pinions to that ark, and hide yourself there, for rest is only to be found there. You shall come there, you must come there, for there is rest for you nowhere else. Ah, young man, you did not think of this when you came into this service; you scarcely know why you came, for you meant to go with bad companions! But if Christ has really bought you with his blood, he will have you; so, in his name, I arrest you, and ask you to trust in him.

    Thus the eternal counsel ran
    “Almighty grace, arrest that man.”

You are arrested in the name of the great King. Pause and turn to him, and live. Perhaps you remember how Colonel Gardiner, on the very night when he had made a sinful appointment, was convicted of sin, brought to the Saviour, and became one of the most earnest followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. My dear Lord, with his sorrowful countenance, looks into the faces of some of you. I do not know who it may be, but he does; and, lifting up his pierced hand, he lays it on one here, and another there, and he says, “I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and, like a cloud, your sins: return to me; for I have redeemed you.” May the Lord bless you, for Jesus Christ’s sake! Amen.

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Contrite Cries — ‘Let Us Return’ ” 605}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Stated — Just As Thou Art” 545}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, Sufferings and Death — For Me” 296}

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Isa 43:21-44:23}

43:21. This people —

That is, God’s own people: “This people” —

21, 22. “I have formed for myself; they shall proclaim my praise. But you have not called on me, oh Jacob; but you have been weary of me, oh Israel.

The very people whom he had formed for his praise forgot to pray to him, — ceased to remember him, — grew weary of him. Oh, how sad this is and how great is the longsuffering of God, that he bore with them for so long.

23. You have not brought me the small cattle of your burnt offerings; neither have you honoured me with your sacrifices. I have not caused you to serve with an offering, nor wearied you with incense.

God has laid no tax on his people. He does not ask any hard thing of us; and yet, notwithstanding that, we have been slack in his service. His yoke is easy, and his burden is light, yet our shoulders have been unwilling to bear them.

24, 25. You have bought me no sweet cane with money, neither have you filled me with the fat of your sacrifices: but you have made me to serve with your sins, you have wearied me with your iniquities. I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions for my sake, and will not remember your sins.

That is a very astonishing verse, wherever we might find it; but to find it in such a context is a wonder indeed. These people had wearied God, yet even then, he said, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions.” Note on what a sure and blessed ground he puts it: “for my sake.” The Lord could not do anything for such sinners as we are for our sakes, for there is nothing deserving about us; but in order that his mercy may be all the more clearly seen, and his faithfulness and immutability may be displayed, he says, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions for my sake, and will not remember your sins.”

26-44:2. Put me in remembrance: Let us plead together: declare, so that you may be justified. Your first father has sinned, and your teachers have transgressed against me. Therefore I have profaned the princes of the sanctuary, and have given Jacob to the curse, and Israel to reproaches. Yet now hear, oh Jacob my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen: Thus says the LORD who made you, and formed you from the womb, who will help you; ‘Do not fear, oh Jacob, my servant; and you, Jesurun, whom I have chosen.

You see, the Lord goes on to show his people that, if they were in trouble, they had brought it on themselves. If the sanctuary had been degraded, it was because both themselves and their teachers had transgressed against God. But, after he has justified his wrath, he still goes on to talk about mercy; and, oh with what abundant love does he address these wandering people of his!

3. For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground: I will pour my Spirit on your seed, and my blessing on your offspring:

Oh you needy souls, you who thirst after mercy, here is a rich promise for you! How abundantly God bestows it! “I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground.” Your needs cannot be so great as the divine supply. All the Lord asks is that you should be willing to receive his mercy, willing that your emptiness should be filled out of his fulness.

4. And they shall spring up among the grass, like willows by the watercourses.’

They shall spring up where there were none before, and grow very quickly. These are our young converts; I trust that we shall have many such springing up “like willows by the watercourses.”

5, 6. One shall say, ‘I am the LORD’S’, and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand to the LORD, and surname himself by the name of Israel. Thus says the LORD the King of Israel, and his Redeemer the LORD of hosts; ‘I am the first, and I am the last; and besides me there is no God.

That is a great truth, always to be kept in mind, that there is no God besides Jehovah. Let us beware of ever attempting to set up, in our own hearts, any god except the one living and true God.

7-12. And who, as I do, shall call and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people? And the things that are coming, and shall come, let them show to them. Do not fear, neither be afraid: have I not told you from that time, and have declared it? You are even my witnesses. Is there a God besides me? Yes, there is no God; I do not know any.’ ” Those who make a carved image, all of them are vanity; and their delectable things shall not profit; and they are their own witnesses; they do not see, nor know; so that they may be ashamed. Who has formed a god, or cast a graven image that is profitable for nothing? Behold, all his companions shall be ashamed: and the workmen, they are mere men: let them all be gathered together, let them stand up; yet they shall fear, and they shall be ashamed together. The smith —

Note how the Lord holds up to mockery and scorn the makers of idol-gods. He shows the process of god-making, — the making of idol-gods; but his words may be equally well applied to the making of Virgin Marys and the various saints, crucifixes, and all other lumber of this kind in the idolatry that calls itself Christian: “The smith” —

12. With the tongs both works in the coals, and forms it with hammers, and works it with the strength of his arms: yes, he is hungry, and his strength fails: he drinks no water, and is faint.

That is one of these god-makers, you see; a man who makes an idol-god, yet who himself gets thirsty by reason of the heat of the coals in his forge. A fine god it must be that he makes! Next comes the carpenter.

13, 14. The carpenter stretches out his rule; he marks it out with a line; he fashions it with planes, and he marks it out with the compass, and makes it in the form of a man, according to the beauty of a man; so that it may remain in the house. He hews down cedars, and takes the cypress and the oak, which he strengthens for himself among the trees of the forest: he plants an ash, and the rain nourishes it.

They like some choice wood out of which to make their gods. So we see that these idol-gods grow in the woods first, and then, afterwards, they need a carpenter’s rule, and line, and compass, and plane in order to form them according to his taste, or the order of his customers.

15-17. Then it shall be for a man to burn: for he will take some of it, and warm himself; yes, he kindles it, and bakes bread; yes, he makes a god and worships it; he makes it a carved image, and falls down to it. He burns part of it in the fire; with part of it he eats meat; he roasts a roast, and is satisfied: yes, he warms himself, and says, “Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire”: and he makes a god with the rest of it, even his carved image: he falls down to it, and worships it, and prays to it, and says, “Deliver me; for you are my god.”

Did ever sarcasm — truthful and proper sarcasm — go further than this? Idolaters in various lands have frequently been convinced of the absurdity of their worship as they have read this very remarkable piece of inspired writing.

18, 19. They have not known nor understood: for he has shut their eyes, that they cannot see; and their hearts, that they cannot understand. And no one considers in his heart, neither is there knowledge nor understanding to say, “I have burned part of it in the fire; yes, I have also baked bread on its coals; I have roasted meat, and eaten it: and shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down to the stock of a tree?”

Shall I, an intelligent being, worship gold, silver, wood, or bronze, however excellent may be its workmanship? Shall I, an immortal being, bow myself down before a piece of bread, and worship that, as some do who first worship, and then eat their god. Oh, what strange infatuation!

20. He feeds on ashes: a deceived heart has turned him aside, so that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand!”

The prophet concludes that madness must have laid hold on the minds of men, or they never could have fallen into the debasing superstitions which degrade them all over the world. Yet, even in this present century, old superstitions have come back to our country; it is strange that here, where so many martyrs were burnt, the sons of these martyrs should actually be willing to go back again to the beggarly elements and superstitions of the olden times. May the Lord have mercy on this land, and deliver it from all forms of idol worship!

21, 22. “Remember these, oh Jacob and Israel; for you are my servant: I have formed you; you are my servant: oh Israel, you shall not be forgotten by me. I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and, like a cloud, your sins: return to me; for I have redeemed you.”

Out of all the world, God had a chosen people, his own Israel, to whom he revealed himself, but they also turned aside to idols, yet here he invites them to return to him. Even to this day, they bear their protest against idols bravely. I wish that they also knew the Christ of God, and worshipped him. All believers are the true Israel after the spirit, and are to maintain for ever the glory of the one only living and true God.

23. Sing, oh you heavens; for the LORD has done it: shout, you lower parts of the earth: break out into singing, you mountains, oh forest, and every tree in it: for the LORD has redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel.

The Christian, Contrite Cries
605 — “Let Us Return”
1 Come, let us to the Lord our God
      With contrite hearts return;
   Our God is gracious, nor will leave
      The desolate to mourn.
2 His voice commands the tempest forth,
      And stills the stormy wave;
   And though his arm be strong to smite,
      ‘Tis also strong to save.
3 Long hath the night of sorrow reign’d;
      The dawn shall bring us light;
   God shall appear, and we shall rise
      With gladness in his sight.
4 Our hearts, if God we seek to know,
      Shall know him and rejoice;
   His coming like the morn shall be,
      Like morning songs his voice.
5 As dew upon the tender herb,
      Diffusing fragrance round;
   As showers that usher in the spring,
      And cheer the thirsty ground.
6 So shall his presence bless our souls,
      And shed a joyful light;
   That hallow’d morn shall chase away
      The sorrows of the night.
                     John Morrison, 1781.

Gospel, Stated
545 — Just As Thou Art <, or L.M.>
1 Just as thou art, without one trace
   Of love, or joy, or inward grace,
   Or meetness for the heavenly place,
      Oh guilty sinner, come!
2 Thy sins I bore on Calvary’s tree!
   The stripes, thy due, were laid on Me,
   That peace and pardon might be free:
      Oh wretched sinner, come!
3 Burden’d with guilt, wouldest thou be blest?
   Trust not the world; it gives no rest:
   I bring relief to hearts oppress’d:
      Oh weary sinner, come!
4 Come, leave thy burden at the cross;
   Count all thy gains but empty dross:
   My grace repays all earthly loss:
      Oh needy sinner, come!
5 Come, hither bring thy boding fears,
   Thy aching heart, thy bursting tears;
   ‘Tis mercy’s voice salutes thine ears,
      Oh trembling sinner, come.
6 “The Spirit and the Bride say, Come”;
   Rejoicing saints re-echo, Come;
   Who faints, who thirsts, who will, may come:
      Thy Saviour bids thee come.
                  Russell Sturgis Cook, 1850.

Jesus Christ, Sufferings and Death
296 — For Me
1 The Son of God, in mighty love,
   Came down to Bethlehem for me,
   Forsook his throne of light above,
   An infant upon earth to be.
2 In love, the Father’s sinless child
   Sojourn’d at Nazareth for me;
   With sinners dwelt the Undefiled,
   The Holy One in Galilee.
3 Jesus whom angel hosts adore,
   Became a man of griefs for me:
   In love, though rich, becoming poor,
   That I, through him, enrich’d might be.
4 Though Lord of all, above, below,
   He went to Olivet for me;
   He drank my cup of wrath and woe,
   And bled in dark Gethsemane.
5 The ever blessed Son of God
   Went up to Calvary for me:
   There paid my debt, there bore may load
   In his own body on the tree.
6 Jesus, whose dwelling is the skies,
   Went down into the grave for me;
   There overcame my enemies,
   There won the glorious victory.
7 ‘Tis Finish’d all: the veil is rent,
   The welcome sure, the access free;
   Now then, we leave our banishment,
   Oh Father, to return to thee!
                        Horatius Bonar 1856.

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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