John Kitto Evening Bible Devotions: May 28

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John Kitto Evening Bible Devotions: May 28

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The Rod Hath Blossomed


In describing the imminency of the Lord’s judgments upon Judah, the prophet uses these remarkable expressions: “Behold the day, behold it is come; the morning is gone forth; the rod hath blossomed; pride hath budded.”

The expression we have specially indicated is in every way remarkable, and is very fall of meaning. The rod is to be understood as denoting the instrument by which the sins of the people were to be punished. In this instance it was Nebuchadnezzar; but the consideration to which it directs us is applicable to any case of judgment. It illustrates the Lord’s deliberateness in executing his judgments, as contrasted with man’s haste, impatience, and precipitancy. Man, so liable to err in judgment and action, and to whom slow deliberation in inflicting punishment upon transgressors might seem naturally to result from his own consciousness of this, is in haste to judge, and prompt to act; whereas He who cannot err, and whose immediate action must be as true and right as his most delayed procedure, works not after the common manner of men, but after the manner of a husbandman in sowing, and planting. When the sin comes to that state, which must in the end render judgment needful for the maintenance of righteousness upon the earth, and for the vindication of the Lord’s justice and honor, the rod of punishment is planted; it grows as the sin grows, and it attains its maturity for action at the exact time that the iniquity reaches maturity for punishment. When Israel entered upon that coarse of sin which ended in ruin, the rod of the Babylonian power was planted; and as the iniquities of Israel increased, the rod went on growing, until, under Nebuchadnezzar, it became a great tree, overshadowing the nations; and when the full term was come, it was ripe and ready for the infliction of the judgments upon Israel, which had so often been denounced, and were so greatly needed.

Exactly the same course was followed in the case of the Canaanites whom the Israelites superseded in the possession of Palestine. In that case Israel was the rod of Canaan. The rod was planted long before “the iniquities of the Canaanites were full” for judgment; but when that time arrived, the rod of judgment had grown to blossoming, and the long-predicted punishment was no longer withheld. All was ready; the sinners were ready for judgment—the rod was ready to inflict it.

The same was the course with Babylon itself, in the present case the rod of Israel. For her pride, her arrogancy, and her unrighteousness, she was doomed to be brought low. The prophets foretold it; and they indicated the yet implanted Medo-Persian rod as the future instrument of her chastisement. The rod was planted—it grew; and when it blossomed in strength, the Lord brake in pieces therewith many nations, as he had threatened—great Babylon being the first and the chief.

God does not now deal any differently with mankind. As signal instances might be given from the modern history of nations, as any that ancient history can produce. No century of time has been more replete with them than the present. To produce instances would lead into the field of politics, which we avoid. Put this we can say, that so sure as any nation enters upon, and persists in, a course of unrighteousness, or addicts itself to any particular sin, so surely the rod of judgment is planted—so surely will it blossom for chastisement at the set time.

To come nearer: as God deals with nations, so does he deal with individuals; there is the same law for both. Whether a man professes to be in Christ or not, if he follow any unrighteous course—if he cherish any bosom sin, mental or personal, of thought or action—let him be assured that the rod of judgment is planted, and will in due time bear the bitter fruits of shame, fear, and sorrow to him. Because God waits till the rod has blossomed, the poor sinner may think that God tolerates him—that he may sin without dread—and that even to the end his peace shall flow like a river. But there is a sad and terrible hour to come, which shall teach him—perhaps too late—that the rod of judgment has all the while been growing, although he heeded it not, until it sheds over him all its blossoms of mourning, lamentation, and woe.

Nothing is more certain than God’s judgments; nor is there any help for us—any refuge, unless, before the rod has blossomed, or even while it is yet blossomed, we flee to Christ, and, in that love and pity which redeemed us, seek rest for our souls, and pardon for our sins.

“Grant, Almighty God, since Thou hast recalled us to thyself, that we may not grow torpid in our sins, nor yet become hardened by the chastisements; but prevent in time thy final judgments, and so humble us under thy powerful hand, that we may seriously testify and really prove our repentance; and so study to obey Thee, that we may advance in newness of life, until at length we put off all the defilements of the flesh, and arrive at the enjoyment of that eternal rest which thine only begotten Son hath acquired for us by his own blood.”

Such is the beautiful prayer with which Calvin concludes his consideration of the passage (Eze_7:9-18), which includes the text before us.