by G.J. Stewart
“God-forsaken!” How often this expression is met with in the colonies, and how thoroughly misapplied! It is used of places where the usual advantages (and disadvantages) of civilisation are not met with: as of townships in the bush, where men are not yet in sufficient numbers to bring their strength, intellect, and wealth to bear upon the development of the place. Or it may be met with in connection with persons who are not able to make their way amongst their fellows in the surging tide of the race for wealth. The smallest amount of reflection will, however, show how inapplicable it is in any such case.
While not wishing to hold men guilty for mere thoughtless expressions, nor to make them offenders for a word, it is well to weigh the force of words used, specially when the name of God is involved; and one moment’s consideration will serve to show the awful import of the above expression, which is a scriptural one. And this is so true that when its meaning is grasped, men rush into the other extreme, and deny it can be actually true, even where the Word of God declares it is and will be true.
It may be questioned if it can today be said to be true of any place or people, save those of a past dispensation, as such; and then not in the absolute sense, for God still purposes blessing for Jerusalem, and there are always individuals of the Jewish race who are in the present blessing that God is administering.
But let us turn to consider some cases in which this term, “God forsaken,” was and will be true absolutely.
We have in Scripture a God-forsaken One in the past, and some companies of God-forsaken ones in the future. In Matthew 27:46, we have
A GOD-FORSAKEN ONE.
“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me,” cried He in the language of Psalm 22:1. Here it was known in its fullest, most absolute sense. All the full force of the awful reality was His who thus uttered this cry. He hung, a God-forsaken man, upon Calvary’s cross!
But so little is this entered into that people say, Ah! but He was not forsaken of God. He spake only in the anguish of the moment. Alas for the perversity of the human heart! No, my friend, whoever you may be that speak thus—Christ spoke in no figurative language, nor in any impassioned way that led Him, who always expressed Himself in His speech, to say things that were not solemnly true in the hour of His substitution for the sinner. Let it be understood that it was the sinner’s place He took, and you may read what you deserve at the hand of a sin-hating God in that heart-rending cry.
But He endured this in order that all those who plead His work as their substitute might escape it for ever. And there is no other means of escaping eternal woe, and being shut out for ever from, and forsaken of God, so that no cry from any in such a position will be regarded by Him.
Christ Himself also said, when there, “O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest NOT; and in the night season, and am not silent” (Ps. 22:2), immediately adding, “But thou art holy” (v. 3); thus giving a reason why He, also a holy being, should be forsaken, when He did but bear our sins in His body on the tree. How then can it be otherwise with those who stand before God in judgment, in their own sins!
But oh, my reader, consider Him there for sinners, and avail yourself now of the results of the work of that God-forsaken man still offered to you. Shall it be in vain for you? Or will you not rather make His name and work your plea, and enter, as all who do this shall enter, into the full blessedness of the work thus wrought, and rejoice in the assurance from God’s Word itself that you shall never be forsaken, never be condemned, never come into judgment?
“I will never, never leave thee, never, no never, will I forsake thee,” says He to those who trust Him (Heb. 13:5).
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).
“Shall never come into judgment,” is said of those who hear His Word, and believe on the Father who sent Him (John 5:24).
But Scripture reveals also that there will be more than one
COMPANY OF GOD-FORSAKEN ONES.
Here, in a brief paper, we may be still more brief, the awful reality not inviting one to dwell upon it. Yet the testimony of Scripture must be presented if perchance one soul may be led to escape the dreadful doom.
“The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” (2 Thess. 1:7-9).
Here is one company: their doom is eternal—they are cut off in their sins—they have before them then only to be consigned to that place where hope never comes, and to be for ever God-forsaken!
Because they know not God, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Again, when He sits upon the throne of His glory, and all the living nations are gathered before Him, He shall say to those on His left hand—
“Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41).
Here is another company: they are driven from His presence—cast for ever into hell—their doom is fixed—they are God-forsaken!
But here again we are met by the blank unbelief of man. He boldly says, “It is figurative! It does not mean what it says!”
If it does not mean what it says, what does it mean? If it is figurative, of what is it a figure? Can it be supposed to mean the opposite of what it says? Or to be a figure of ultimate bliss?
Reader! be not deceived, God is not mocked. Turn now to the One who was God-forsaken, that you may not be amongst those who will be forsaken of Him for ever.
The Gospel Messenger 1901, p. 52