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THE PATENT OF NOBILITY
‘The princes of Judah, with the craftsmen and smiths, from Jerusalem.’
Jeremiah 24:1 (R.V.)
Let us see wherein the honour of labour lies.
I. Labour is noble when regarded as the service of God.
II. Labour is noble as it becomes a social service.
III. Labour is noble as it becomes an education of our highest nature.
‘To show their sense of the dignity of work, the Chinese Emperor on one day of the year holds the plough, and the Empress works the loom; but we need no royalty to toy with the instruments of toil to persuade us to the glory of humble service; the Majesty of the skies has consecrated the workshop by His presence and glorified work by His example.’
A BLESSING IN DISGUISE
‘Whom I have sent out … for their good.’
I. These words refer, of course, to the deportation to Babylon of King Jehoiachin, his household and court, his princes and mighty men of valour.—It must have seemed a very deserted Jerusalem in which the remnant lived, after ten thousand persons, who had constituted the bone and muscle of the state, had gone; yet to the eye of sense it seemed better to be in Jerusalem with her walls than in that great, distant, foreign-speaking Babylon. But to the eye of faith the reverse was true, and the captives had been sent out ‘for their good.’
II. You have been sent out of your home for your good.—How happy the early years were, so safe and blessed within the walls of that dear home! Then death, or failure in health, or bankruptcy, led to the breaking up of the nest, and you seemed to be in captivity. But do not fret or murmur; make the best of your present circumstances; you will live to find that it was all for your good.
III. You have been sent out of your sphere of service for your good.—It seemed so prosperous; you appeared to be doing so much good; you had sacrificed a good deal in order to enter in. Then suddenly a bolt came from the blue, and you found yourself adrift. But you are more important to God than your work for Him; and you will find that it was for your good.
IV. You have been sent out of your own land for your good.—This message finds you among strangers. But, remember, that it was only as the patriarchs were content to live in tents in a foreign land that they knew God, and beheld the city that hath foundations, and founded a great nation.
‘The captives are dear to God. By the first greater affliction He prepares their souls for repentance and radical conversion, so that He has in them again His people and inheritance. O the gracious God, that He allows even those who on account of sin must be so deeply degraded and rendered slaves, even in such humiliation to be His people! The captives are forgiven their opposition to God; they are separated from the number of nations existing in the world, politically they are dead and banished to the interior. Now, God will snow them what His love can do; they shall return, and in true nearness to God be His true Israel.’
THE SUMMUM BONUM
‘An heart to know Me.’
That is all we need. For we live by nature, that warped and distorted nature of ours, under the strangest delusions about God.
I. For example, we conceive of Him as indifferent to our welfare; a God far-off and not nigh at hand.—Or, again, we paint Him as all good-nature and tolerance, an easy-going King, Who will not deal harshly with us even if we have offended, Who will readily overlook our faults and sins. Or we swing to the opposite extreme, and think of Him as mere justice and sternness and severity; we tremble when we remember Him; having once turned round we walk on, ‘and turn no more our head.’
Surely what our souls require is to know Him, as He is in actual reality, and to be emancipated from falsehood and dreams.
II. For He is not unconcerned about us.—He cares for me so much that, to save me, He has stooped to the manger and has endured the Cross. And He is not remiss and negligent towards sin. He hates it so entirely that, when our sin lay on His dear Son, He punished it there with shameful and bitter death. And yet He is far from being a God of Draconian rectitude and rigour. For Jesus’ sake He will blot out as a thick cloud our transgressions. For Jesus’ sake He will clasp us to His own heart of throbbing love.
Yes, it is the essential possession: a heart to know God.
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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Jeremiah 24". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19