An Insolent Demand
James Smith, 1860
Pharaoh said, "Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and I will not let Israel go." Exodus 5:2
"Who is the Lord, that I should obey him?" This was the question the insolent king of Egypt, put to Moses, when he delivered the Lord's message to him. And something very like it, is expressed by the conduct of many, to whom we speak in the present day. As if they did not know that it was their Creator, Preserver, Benefactor, and final Judge!
Friend, the Lord who speaks to you in his law, and points out your duty; and the Lord that speaks to you in the gospel, and asks you to be reconciled to him — is the God of justice, the God of mercy. He must act justly, for his nature and his character demands it — but he is willing to show mercy, and has determined to display his grace. This just and gracious God, has often spoken unto you, and you have disregarded him, and perhaps if your conduct had been expressed in words, you have said, "Who is the Lord, that I should obey him?" Intimating that you neither knew him, nor cared for him. But he has not given you up, he speaks to you again; take these few lines, written in his name, as coming from him, and seriously attend to them.
The Lord commands you to REPENT. His Word declares that he commands all men, everywhere, to repent, and therefore he must command you. But as each one will have to give an account of himself, and for himself to God, I want you to lose sight of everybody else, and just fix your attention on your own state and case. God commands you to repent. He does so in the exercise of his authority. He does so from a sincere regard to your welfare. He does so, because he has no wish to punish you. He would rather not execute the sentence of his law upon you, or punish you as you deserve, therefore he says, "Repent!" Change your mind — change your course. Your thoughts have been wrong, therefore change your thoughts. Your conduct has been wrong, therefore change your conduct. You must repent — or perish, for no impenitent sinner can possibly be saved. If you wish to repent and feel any difficulty about it, or experience inability to do so; come to Jesus for the grace of repentance, and he will freely give it to you, for he is exalted to give repentance and remission of sins.
The Lord offers you MERCY. He is ready to forgive. He is full of compassion. He is of great mercy. If you are willing to be saved — he is willing to save you. If you are prepared to confess your sin, and sue for pardon — he is ready to pardon you. He has found a ransom. He has set forth a propitiation. He has erected a throne of grace. He has sent forth his servants to proclaim that whoever believes in Jesus, and comes to him pleading his name — shall receive the remission of sins. Any sinner, at any time, applying in the name of Jesus, may receive the full, free, and everlasting pardon of all his sins. If you, therefore, are not pardoned — the fault lies only in yourself. There is no reason given in God's Word why you should not be pardoned. There is no cause to be found in God, why you are not. God was willing to forgive you before he sent the gospel to tell you so. He has been willing to forgive you, and has been waiting for you to apply to be pardoned ever since you first read his Word. It therefore lies wholly with yourself — if you are unpardoned, unholy, or unhappy.
The Lord will punish you if you refuse his mercy. He must do so, for he will not be mocked; he cannot allow himself to be so insulted; he has pledged his Word to minister judgment in uprightness. Having set before you his law, having proved you guilty of breaking it, having offered you mercy, having commanded you to repent, having even entreated you to be reconciled to him — if you remain obstinate and hardened, there is no alternative, you must be punished!
Consider the nature of that punishment, as compared to consuming fire, blackness of darkness, and the gnawing of a worm that never dies.
Consider the degree of that punishment, just in proportion to the nature, number, and aggravation of your crimes.
Consider the duration of that punishment, it is everlasting punishment in eternal fire!
Will you then prefer exposing yourself to such a fate, to the accepting of a free salvation? Will you refuse to repent, and reject a pardon when it is offered you? Will you dare omnipotence, defy divine justice, and determine to brave the wrath of an infinite God? Will you? Can you?
Once more, God, by my pen, solemnly warns you. Once more the Lord calls you to repentance. Once more, your Maker asks you to be reconciled to him. Once more, the Savior invites you to come to him and live. Once more, the Holy Spirit cries, "Come and take of the water of life freely!" Once more, the Bride, the church of Jesus, lovingly calls to you, to come and share with her the blessings of grace and glory. Pause for a moment. Ponder over the subject. Make up your mind.
And now — what is your decision? I have set before you the way of life and the way of death; now, O now, choose life that you may live!