Spurgeon Sunday Week 50


“I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man.”—Hosea 11:9.

In a thousand respects, God is greater than man; for us to enter into that theme, would require a very considerable length of time; but the Lord here puts this truth most prominently forward, that he is “God, and not man,” in that he is infinitely more forbearing, infinitely more tender, infinitely more ready to pass by offenses than any man ever can be. What men cannot do by reason of the narrowness and shallowness of their goodness, God can and will do by reason of the height and depth and length and breadth of his immeasurable love.
    Note that truth in our text, and then note another. When God can find in man no reason for showing mercy to him, he still finds a reason for displaying his mercy, for he looks for it in his own heart. He does not say, “I will not return to destroy Ephraim, for he is not as bad as he might be, and there is really something hopeful about him.” No, the Lord does not let the bucket down into that dry well; but he fetches the argument for his mercy out of himself: “For I am God.” “It is not what he is, but what I am, that decides the case,” says Jehovah; “I will have mercy upon Ephraim, because I am God, and not man.” Guilty one, your hope of pardon lies in the character of God; and the more quickly and completely you recognize this fact, the better will it be for you. Do not be looking into yourself to find some reason there why God should have pity upon you, for there is no reason within you but what Satan can answer and overturn. Rather look to God, especially as God looks to himself, for your hope lies in what be is whom you have offended. I know that he is just and holy, and that this truth at first condemns you; but he is also good and gracious, and this truth brings joy and brightness to you. The only rays of light you can ever get must come to you from the sun. You will not find any in your own eyes, for they are blind; it is from the sun himself that your very power to see, as well as the light by which you can see, must come. So, God fetches his argument in favor of mercy from himself; you have one specimen of it in that grand passage where he says, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion,” drawing the reasons for the display of his mercy out of the great deeps of his own sovereignty…

I am going to speak upon this one theme, to hammer away upon this one nail. There will be no great variety in my subject, and no particular freshness of thought in considering it; but I shall dwell upon just this one truth, that there is hope for guilty men. There is hope for every man, woman, and child who will come and confess sin, and trust in Christ, on this ground,—that he with whom we have to deal is “God, and not man.” This I shall have to show you at considerable length, and under many particulars; but the whole purpose of my discourse will be to show you the hopefulness in this great truth that, as sinners, we have to deal with God, and not with men…

I could not expect a king, whose subjects had revolted against him, who had refused to render to him due honor and submission, who had even insulted his crown, and done despite to his character, to say, “I will leave my palace, and my crown, and my splendor, and all that I have, and I will go and live among these rebels. I will wear their rags, I will fare as they fare, and dwell in their hovels. I know that they will kill me; they will spurn me, and spit upon me, and at last they will fasten me to a cross, and hang me up to die; but with the strong desire that they should be reconciled to me, I am willing to go and to be one with them.” Such a thing was never heard of among men; but listen… This was compassion worthy of a God that the Son of the Highest should leave the perfections of heaven to dwell here amid the infirmities and the sins of earth, as you know he did…

As Judge, the righteous God must punish sin. Say what you will, there is a necessity that the Judge of all the earth should do right. If you could take away the justice of God, and the fact of the judgment to come, you would have stolen the linch-pin from the wheels of God’s chariot; you would have marred the moral government of the universe. Sin must be punished, but the Judge himself condescends to bear the penalty for the offenses committed against himself; mark, to bear the consequences of sin committed against his own authority and his own person, and to bear those consequences in his own person that the offending one may be reconciled to him. There never was such another tale as I am telling you now; it could not have been invented by men, it must be divine. It has such a stamp of originality about it, that it must have come from God. It is so divine on the very surface of it that it must be a blessed fact. God himself becomes the Substitute for those who have broken his own law, and done despite to his own name; and, in union with human nature, in his own body on the tree he bears the consequences of the sin which otherwise must have fallen upon his enemies, the guilty sons of men. It is a very wonderful story, this “old, old story, of Jesus and his love.” I cannot tell it to you as I should like to tell it, but it does not so much matter how it is told. The power of it lies, not in the telling of it, but in the doctrine and truth itself when blessed by the Spirit of God…

I do long to see souls saved as one great result of my ministry. But what an instance of my Lord’s love it is that he thus trusts me! That was one of the things that made Paul hold up his hands in astonishment; he said that he had been put in trust with the gospel, and he could not make it out. He was a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious, yet he was put in trust with the gospel. O dear heart, you who have been a drunkard, or a swearer, or whatsoever else you have been, come and trust in Jesus! If you do so, I should not wonder but that, one of these days, you also will be put in trust to preach the gospel of Christ. “Oh!” say you, “I could never preach.” You do not know what the grace of God can do for you and through you; and you would, anyhow, be able to tell what a wonderful Savior he was who saved you, would you not? That is the best preaching in the world, telling out to others what God has done for you; and I know that the burden of your testimony would be, “He is God, and not man,” and you would ask them to sing over and over again,—

“Who is a pardoning God like thee?
Or who has grace so rich and free?”
Now trust the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the way of salvation. “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all ye ends of the earth;” or, if you want the plan of salvation stated in full, here it is, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” God grant to all of us grace to believe in Christ, and to confess our faith in him, for his dear name’s sake! Amen.

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