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A Blessing on the Storehouse
The storing of the grain is the last of the processes of harvest. We may therefore take the blessing of God upon the housed and winnowed corn as including His blessing upon all previous stages of growth or ingathering.
I. The Sowing Time This is where industry comes in, and the gift of God is seen also to be His reward and blessing upon human diligence. The preparation of the soil and the choice of the seed application to human life.
II. The Period of Growth, the Waiting Time.
With growth itself the farmer has nothing to do. It is the work of God, in which man has no part. But he has to weed and protect the crop. Carry the thoughts here suggested into the realm and province of life.
III. The Gathering Time. We are all gleaners in the harvest-field of life. What use have we made of the season which God has given us?
IV. The Testing, the Winnowing Time for 'every man's work' shall be tried 'of what sort it is'. Holy Scripture employs three figures to enforce and emphasize the strict and searching nature of this trial:
a. The process of winnowing.
b. The process of the analyst.
c. The process of burning, the trial by fire.
Vivian R. Lennard, Harvest-tide, p. 101.
Reference. XXVIII. 67. T. Arnold, The Interpretation of Scripture, p. 32.
The Desired Morning
This cry is going up from all the earth in all languages, and sometimes unconsciously. The heart is one, the passion, the vehemence of life is expressive of a common humanity.
In the first instance, all this refers to a great matter of punishment which the Lord was about to inflict upon His disobedient people. He would not leave them alone, night or day, He would make them feel the thong for every sin they had committed; for every evil word and every evil deed there should be a lash as of a scorpion sting. 'Would God it were morning!' It is a great cry, the interpretation of the soul's dumb desire. The soul is weary, it is confused, confounded, perplexed, mocked, and the darkness itself becomes a whip wherewith the hand almighty scourges and chastises the soul.
I. The text may be regarded as an aspiration, a hopeful and vehement desire. 'Would God it were morning!' That is the aspiration of a puzzled student, a most perplexed and bewildered thinker. He is drooping towards atheism, down to the low dank levels of dejection if not despair. Why so? 'Because,' he replies, 'things are so mysterious; nothing ends in itself; the tuft of smoke has gone back to some primal fire; and all things are so confused, intermingled, and so deeply and tragically engaged in internecine conflict; and there is so much apparently needless suffering on this small globe.
II. This cry, 'Would God it were morning!' is occasioned by Sorrow, written with a large capital, as if it were personalized, turned into an eloquent but grim personality and figure. Yet how poor the world would be if all the books that Sorrow has written were taken out of it! What if sorrow be but the broken clouds of a very sunny day, helping us to see better into the depths of the sky and to feel more sensitively the meaning of interpreting light?
III. This cry for the true morning is the expression of struggling but hopeful faith. The soul can never give up that idea of the morning. Sometimes its grasp seems to be relaxed, but God will take care that the hope and promise, the sweet confidence of morning, shall not be taken out of the hand. Sometimes we can feel ourselves growing in wisdom; sometimes we are quite sure that we have made an advance upon yesterday. Now and again the old tone of confidence comes into the voice so long choked by tears and sobs, and takes part in some dropped hymn and makes it live again with the newness of its own life. These are mysteries, these are hopes and comforts; these constitute the morning we have been sighing for.
1. This cry for the morning has been sustained by saintly histories.
The answer to this aspiration is justified by saintly experience. Men have been delivered; souls have been saved; as a matter of fact, light has really and fully come, so that men have stood up when all other men seemed to be sitting down, and they have towered up to a great representative personality, and have said,' This poor man cried unto the Lord, and the Lord answered him'.
2. The morning has come to many; it may come to all. It has come to the grave. One bold sentence in the holy book is, 'He hath abolished death!' expunged it, rubbed it out of the world's language; there is no such word in any gruesome meaning now. The resurrection of Christ was the morning that came upon the death-land. Those who stand upon the Rock of Faith, upon the tomb of Christ emptied and angel-filled, are confident that the morning has come in some places and is coming in all places.
Joseph Parker, City Temple Pulpit, vol. v. p. 194.
Reference. XXIX. 4. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxvii. No. 1638.
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Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 28". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent