The Exceeding Bitter Cry
February 28th, 1960 @ 7:30 PM
Birthright, Blessing, Darwin, Esau, Jacob, Repentance, Worldliness, Hebrews 1959 - 1960, 1960, Hebrews
THE EXCEEDING BITTER CRY
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2/28/60 7:30 p.m.
The title of the sermon tonight is The Exceeding Bitter Cry. As a context, would you read with me from Hebrews 12, 9 through 17? Hebrews 12, 9 through 17, in the middle of the chapter. Then if you would like further to follow the message, you can turn to Genesis 25:25. But we are going to read together the passage in Hebrews. Hebrews chapter 12, verse 9 through verse 17. Hebrews 12, verse 9 through 17. Now all of us together:
Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us,
and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in
subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own
pleasure; but He for our profit, that we might be partakers
of His holiness.
Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but
grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit
of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;
And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame
be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.
Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man
shall see the, Lord:
Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest
any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby
many be defiled;
Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau,
who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.
For ye know how that afterward, when he would have
inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found
no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully
And the text is the last two verses:
Esau, for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.
And ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing,
he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.
And the reference, of course, is to the story of Esau and Jacob written in chapter 25 and chapter 27 of the Book of Genesis [Genesis 25:19-34, 27:1-46].
And the title of the sermon is taken out of Genesis 27:34: When Isaac said: “I have blessed Jacob, and he shall be blessed. And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry” [Genesis 27:33-34].
Now those two boys, Esau and Jacob, were brothers. And more than that, they were twins. But never did brothers differ more. And it was highly accentuated because they were twins. Never did brothers differ more than those two sons of Isaac and Rebekah; Esau who was born first, and Jacob who was born second [Genesis 25:25-26]. They were foretold to be different. Before they were born, the prophecy was they would be greatly different [Genesis 25:23].
After birth they greatly differed, most apparently, and from their birth the difference broadened and increased and deepened. They were no more alike than if they had belonged to two different families and two different races and had been brought up on two different continents; altogether dissimilar and unlike, these twins Esau and Jacob.
They differed in appearance. They differed in appearance when they were born, and all of their life that great difference obtained. It says here: “And the first came out red” [Genesis 25:25]. And the word for red is Edom. And his name was Edom, and the Edomites are Esauites. They are the family of Esau. “And the first came out red, edom, all over like an hairy garment.” Esau, hairy. “And they called his name Esau,” hairy, or edom, red [Genesis 25:25]. “And after that came his brother out” [Genesis 25:26]. And his brother was smooth of skin, and delicate of stature, and slight of build [Genesis 27:11], altogether different from his older brother who was big and hairy and red. Esau was the finest animal you ever looked at. He was a magnificent picture of physical prowess and strength, agility. He was every inch of him, a real man!
Now it says here in the Bible that Isaac loved Esau, and Rebekah loved Jacob [Genesis 25:28]. And I have a great apology to make to this church. Some time ago, I preached a series of sermons here at the eight-fifteen o’clock service on the creation of man. And some of these youngsters around here took it down and sent it up to Pat Zondervan. And the first time I looked on those things they had copied down, they were in print. They were put together, and Zondervan published them under the title, Did Man Just Happen?
And so much of it, of course, is the discussion of Darwinian evolution. Now, the great fundamental theory that lies back of Darwin’s approach to the problem is this: he observed the great variation in species, all kinds of dogs, and all kinds of cows, and all kinds of birds, all kinds of animals and all kinds of people. And so he built his theory upon the supposition and the hypotheses that, in the development of variations in species, the variations that were good were promulgated. They were continued. They were passed on from generation to generation. And the variation that was not good was lopped off, and so we gradually evolved as these variations developed better and stronger and finer—a marvelous theory.
Then one time a fellow asked Darwin, “Well, if that’s so, if in the development of the species coming up, you know, coming up, coming up, if in the development of the species in these variations, only those variations were kept that benefited the animal, that benefited the species, how was it a benefit to the man that he developed, that he evolved naked?”
He’s the only critter—he’s the only creature in the whole creation of the Lord that is created without a covering. The only animal in the world that is born needing protection is a man. All the rest of God’s creations are born with feathers or they’re born with fur, they’re born with scales, or they’re born with something to protect them. But the man evolved naked. Now how was it an advantage, they asked Darwin, for the man in his variation to be evolved and to be finally produced naked, without a covering? How was that an advantage to the man?
Well, Darwin thought and thought and thought, and he thunk and thunk and thunk, and he cogitated and ruminated and he went through all of the answers he could think up, and finally he came forward with this one. And it was a humdinger. It was a magnificent one.
Darwin said that the reason the man was evolved naked without a covering was because the women that he married didn’t like hair on their husbands, so they chose husbands with less hair, and then less hair, and then less hair, until finally the women bred the hair off of them, and he was born naked. Now, that’s Darwin’s answer to the problem. Oh, wouldn’t that be a magnificent thing to write in the book of science? That’s what these kids are all taught when you send them to school; every one of them is taught that.
Now when I was discussing it, I inveighed against that. I said I didn’t think that was so. I said I thought it would be just like these females out there in Hollywood. I read in the paper where one of them liked a certain man because he was hairy, had a hairy chest, and she greatly admired him for it. Now, I said in my sermon I didn’t think that was true, that Darwin had spoken, because I just supposed that women would divide over and would differ over it. I just supposed that some of the women would like their male all over hairy with a beautiful coat: that ape, that anthropoid. And then some of them would not like him so hairy. Now, I might put it to a test. Would you like for me to ask this choir, all of them that would like—all of them that would like the anthropoid covered all over with a fine, hairy coat, let them raise their hands, and then all of them that would like them not so hairy raise up their hands.
Now the thing that brought it to my mind was Rebekah loved Jacob [Genesis 25:28]. She didn’t like the one that was so hairy, so maybe Darwin’s right. Maybe he is. I want you to know, not since man was made, not since the dawn of creation have I ever read anything that purported to be scientific that is taught in every college and in every university and in every high school and every biology class, I’ve never read anything so astonishingly, ridiculously inane as the theory of Darwin, not in this earth, with no syllable of scientific evidence for it. Somebody said that Darwin got his idea of evolution from observing people’s relatives. Maybe he’s right.
I read about a father who had a little two year old boy, and he was so proud of the precocity, the precociousness of that little boy. And he said to a neighbor, he said, “Did you know my boy, though he’s only two years old, he knows all about the natural classification of animals already?”
And the neighbor said, “Is that so? Is that right?”
“Yeah,” said the father, “he knows all about them.”
So he went in his house and got down from the shelf a book of nature, a nature book. And he set the little boy on his knee, and he turned in the nature book to a picture of a giraffe. And he says, “Bobby, what’s that?”
And the little boy said, “Horsey, horsey.”
And then he turned the page and came to a picture of a tiger, and he says, “And Bobby, what’s that?” And the little boy exclaimed, “Oh, pussy, pussy.”
And then he turned the page and came to a lion, and the father said, “And Sonny, what’s that?”
And little Bobby said, “Oh, a doggy, doggy.” And he came to an ape and pointed and said, “And Sonny, what’s that?”
And the little boy enthusiastically replied, “Daddy, Daddy.”
Esau was hairy all over like a garment [Genesis 25:26], and Jacob was smooth, and feminine, and soft, and slight of stature, so different from his brother [Genesis 27:11]. Not only did they differ in appearance, but they differed also in pursuits. And Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field [Genesis 25:27]; but Jacob was a plain man, the Hebrew smooth man [Genesis 27:11], and dwelt in tents [Genesis 26:27]. They differed in their likes, and in their activities, and in their pursuits. Esau was a hunter, an outdoor man, a fisherman. He was an athlete, and everything physical he enjoyed, the great outdoors.
Did you ever hear B.B. Crimm preach? I remember one time B.B. Crimm preached on Esau. And oh, he described Esau out on the hunt. And you should have heard B.B. Crimm’s sermon. Esau out there with those dogs and he “oouu, oouu, oouu,” followed him around on the chase. Oh, it made an impression on me I’ve never forgotten. Esau liked that. Wherever there was a contest going on, wherever there was a chase, wherever there was a hunt, wherever there was something outdoors, there you’d find Esau.
Jacob was so different. He was a shepherd, and he dwelt in a tent [Genesis 25:27], and was a plain, quiet, domesticated man. He’d do the dishes for Rebekah. He’d sweep out the floor for Rebekah. He’d run errands for Rebekah. Rebekah loved him [Genesis 25:28]. He was the finest little boy that you ever saw, and he did just exactly all of those things that pleased his mother. He stayed around the house all the time. And I can see Rebekah doting on Jacob. She wouldn’t let Jacob go swimming; he might get drowned. She wouldn’t let Jacob go hunting; he might get shot. She wouldn’t let Jacob go out with boys; he might pick up bad words.
I know all about those things because that’s the way my mama raised me. I stayed tied to her apron string, stayed around the kitchen. I never went out at all. My mother raised me up just like Rebekah raised Jacob, with all of the love and devotion, bless his heart. With all the love and devotion of her soul, she doted on Jacob. I can just see how the Lord raised up that boy under the loving hand of Rebekah.
Not only did they differ in appearance, not only did they differ in their pursuits, but they differed mostly in their characters. They were as far apart, as poles apart, in their makeup, in their characters as you could imagine. Now that doesn’t mean that Esau was a bad man, nor does it mean that you would have disliked him. I would say before any group, if you had the choice of the two, you would like Esau. You’d choose Esau. I believe anybody would.
Esau was a lovable fellow. He was a likeable fellow. There was everything about him to attract you to him. If he was impetuous, he was generous. If he was rash, he was frank. If he was outdoors in his life, he was splendid company and the best fellow to go fishing with or hunting with that you ever saw. If he was somewhat indifferent to some of the things around a domesticated household, yet he loved his father and ministered to the needs of his father. You couldn’t help but like Esau. He was every inch an honest to goodness man built from the foot up, solid and strong. And he was swift in the chase, and he knew all of the cunning arts of the hunt. You would have liked Esau!
I don’t think you would have liked Jacob very much. There was something cunning about Jacob. There was something shrewd about Jacob. There was something about Jacob that made you wonder, “Have I got my pocketbook just right? Have I got all of my belongings secure?” There was something about Jacob that made you wonder, “Am I getting the best end of this bargain? Am I getting sixteen ounces to the pound? Am I getting thirty-six inches to this yard?” There was something about Jacob that you might not have liked.
Between the two, Esau appeared to be the more likeable fellow and the more amiable spirit. But there was a difference in those men, and the difference is very apparent. It is from their youth, and it is through all of the days of their life.
Esau is a man of this world. His love is here. His life is here. His pursuits are here. Everything that Esau is interested in is here in this world. He’s for a big time, and a happy time, and a glorious time, and he’s for all of it right now. There’s not anything in Esau about God. There’s not anything in Esau about the church. There’s not anything in Esau about the world to come. There’s not anything in Esau about heaven. And there’s not anything in Esau about religion. And there’s not anything in Esau that is spiritual. He is physical. He is mundane. He’s of this world, and his whole life is centered here. That’s all of it—Esau and this time, now and present.
There was something in Jacob that was of an infinite capacity for religion, for God. There was something in Jacob that God saw that God could use, that God could bless, that God could make out of him a great and a worthy saint.
Could I illustrate it like this. If you were to take a stone and put in a flowerpot, you could water that stone, cover it over with the finest fertilizer, put it in the sunshine, cultivate it forever and forever, and you would still have just a rock! But if you were to take a flower bulb, a bulb of a narcissus, a bulb of a tulip, a bulb of an Easter lily and put that into soil and cultivate it, and look over it, and take care of it, and water it, soon you would find growing out of that bulb the handiwork of God, the miracle of the resurrection, the glory of the life that is yet to come.
That’s the exact difference that God saw in Esau and in Jacob. Esau was a stone. He was a rock. He belonged to this age and this hour and this time. He was physical and mundane. He was here and that was all of him.
But Jacob had the ableness and the ability to dream angel dreams, to see beyond the flights of the ladder into the heaven of heavens itself [Genesis 28:12-13], to talk to God and to be a pilgrim of the Lord from this weary world into the glorious and better world that is to come [Genesis 28:12-22]. And you’ll see that most excellently in the story of the birthright [Genesis 25:9, 29-34], and the blessing [Genesis 27:1-29].
The birthright, what was the birthright?
And Esau said:”I will trade you my birthright for a dish, a bowl of this red pottage.”
And Jacob answered, “Swear to me this day. And Esau swear, and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentils; and he did eat and drink, rose up and went away: thus Esau despised his birthright!” [Genesis 25:29-34].
What is the birthright that Esau despised and that Jacob coveted, and what is the blessing that Esau forsware forever and that God gave to Jacob? [Genesis 25:31-34].
Well, the birthright is first—it is not, it was not a temporal blessing, for Esau was the leader, the duke, the king that was gloriously blessed in prosperity in this life. He had twelve sons who were dukes, and those dukes separated themselves and their children into thirty dukedoms [Genesis 36:15-43]. And Esau lived the life of a prince, of an opulent king. All the days of Esau were spent in luxury and in grandeur, in palaces, in conquests, in victory and triumph. If there was ever a cloud that covered the life of Esau, I do not know what it is. From the day he was born until the day that he died, Esau lived a life of a king! Every avenue of prosperity fed into his coffers. Everything he touched turned to gold. And he had a great kingdom, the kingdom of Edom that belonged to Esau himself. It was not physical, worldly prosperity.
On the other hand, on the other hand, Jacob secured the birthright [Genesis 25:29-34]. What did it mean in the life of Jacob? The life of Jacob was one continual sorrow after another. Right after that blessing was given unto Jacob [Genesis 27:1-29], he had to flee and to live his life as an exile in a faraway land [Genesis 27:41-28:5]. Over there in that faraway land in Mesopotamia, he lived the life of a hireling in the household of his kinsman, Laban, Rebekah’s brother [Genesis 29:1-31:20]. And when he came back and he met Esau, in the fear of his life, when he walked to meet Esau [Genesis 33:1-4], after that awful night at Peniel where he wrestled with the angel [Genesis 32:24-30], he halted upon his thigh [Genesis 32:31]. And the rest of his days, Jacob was a cripple, halting in his thigh.
And on his way down into the land of the southern part of the Negev in southern Palestine, he buried the wife that he loved, Rachel [Genesis 35:16, 19]. It wasn’t long until he was bereft of his son, Joseph [Genesis 37:1-36], then he was bereft of his son Benjamin [Genesis 43:1-15], then he was bereft of all of his children down there in the land of the Pharaohs [Genesis 43:15-44:34]. And finally in desperation, all of them, having been down there under the influence of Joseph, the old patriarch himself is taken down there in a strange land and a foreign country in a wagon [Genesis 46:5].
Can you imagine somebody old—do you have an aged grandparent? I don’t know of anything more cruel than to root them up and take them out and away, and to a strange country and to a strange land.
And the old patriarch Jacob was taken to a strange, faraway country. And there when the Pharaoh asked him about his days [Genesis 47:8], he said, “The days of thy servant have been few and full of trouble” [Genesis 47:9]. And in the land of the Pharaohs, Jacob breathed out his last, in a hieroglyphic chamber, in the land of the Nile. He died in a strange and a foreign land [Genesis 49:33]. From the beginning of his life to the end of his life, it was a life of sorrow and of trouble, yet he had the birthright [Genesis 25:29-34].
Esau lived the life of a king, and Jacob lived the life of a pilgrim in a strange land, dwelling in tents [Genesis 25:27]. He had the birthright [Genesis 25:32-33].
What is this birthright? The birthright is the privilege God gives to His people to suffer for Jesus’ sake!
I don’t know how many times do I hear our own people come with problems to me, and they say, “Pastor, I have fallen into such trouble, into such heartache, into such disaster. Look what I have lost. Look what I have suffered. And all around me are people who are vile and wicked and worldly and compromise, and they don’t have the problems, and they don’t have the trials, and they don’t have the sufferings, and they don’t have the heartaches that I have.”
Never in God’s history and in God’s time has there been any age or any generation when God’s people do not suffer! They always have. They always will. It is now, it was yesterday, it will be until Jesus comes again!
But in that man Jacob, and in his sorrow and in his trials and in his sufferings, in that man Jacob, God deposited the mystery of the ages [Genesis 27:29, 49:10]. The worldly man dies in the world, that’s all that he has! When Esau died, Esau died forever! There’s no progenitor. There’s no genealogy. There’s no spiritual blessing. There’s no Messiah from Edom or from the Edomites. All of it is deposited in the soul of the sorrowful and heartbroken Jacob [Genesis 27:29, 49:10]. He had the birthright [Genesis 25:32-33], and Esau traded the eternal for the temporal. He traded the physical for the spiritual. He traded his life in the world to come for the life that is here. And Esau lived his life here, and he died here, and whatever reward he received, he received here. But Jacob, who inherited the birthright, Jacob saw the vision of God. And in the soul of Jacob, there was deposited all of the hopes for the spiritual destiny of God’s people in this world, and in the world that is to come—in this blessing that was given unto Jacob [Genesis 27:28-29].
And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry [Genesis 27:34]. God took Esau at his word. Esau said, “I choose this world,” and God says, “You have it!” Esau says, “I choose this present pleasure,” and God says, “Take it!” Esau said, “I want to live for the here and now,” and God says, “Live then for the here and the now.” Esau says, “I despise religion, and I despise heaven, and I despise God, and I despise the world that is to come.” And God says, “You made your choice, despise it!”
And when the blessing was given, the blessing was bestowed upon Jacob [Genesis 27:1-29]. And when [Esau] saw that he was blessed of his father, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry [Genesis 27:34]. And as our text says, “He was rejected because he found no place for repentance,” to undo what he had done, “though he sought it carefully with tears” [Hebrews 12:17].
In your Greek testament here, you have Esau and you have it translated “profane person” [Hebrews 12:16], a bebelos person, a bebelos person. A bebelos person, translated here, “profane.” Esau, bebelos man. All that word means is he was a man of this world! He was a man of this time! His choices were in this life! And he never bothered about the life that was to come, and he never bothered about religion, and he never bothered about God, and he never bothered about heaven. His life was centered here and now! And God took him at his word! And when he sought that inherited blessing of the world that was to come, he was rejected! [Hebrews 12:17]. God said, “You made your choice. There’s no room now to turn, though he sought that blessing carefully with tears” [Hebrews 12:17].
O Lord. O God. And what about you? And what about us? Those old rabbis say that when Eve was taken out of the garden of Eden, she stood outside of that eastern gate, and she held in her hand a faded rose. No way to enter in. No way to undo it. No way to relive it. No way to call it back. Rejected. “Found no place for repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears [Hebrews 12:17], and he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry” [Genesis 27:34].
Those five foolish virgins, when the door was shut —“And the door was shut,” the Bible says, “They knocked at the door, Open to us, O Lord. Open to us, O Lord” [Matthew 25:10-11]. And God said, “The door is shut!” God shuts that door! God closed that door, and they were rejected and found no place of repentance, though they sought it carefully with tears. “Open unto us.”
That is the most frightful thing in this earth! That’s the most frightful thing in this world. I don’t know what the unpardonable sin is, I just know that a man can commit it!
There is a time, I know not when,
There is a place, I know not where,
That divides the sons of men
Between glory and despair!
[from “Beware! O Soul, Beware!” Joseph A. Alexander, 1848]
However a man may turn, however he may plead, there comes a time when it is too late, too late, too late! [Hebrews 12:17].
There are some men who are not going to be saved. They are not going to be saved. I’ve seen them as boys. I’ve seen them when I was a boy in the little town, when I knew people intimately, I’ve seen men reject God, and reject God, and reject God, and I have seen them die without God! I don’t know where, I can’t understand, but there is a line, there is a time, and when a man says “No,” God takes him at his word. That’s “No!” And he dies in rejection and in unbelief. “It is an awful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” [Hebrews 10:31]. It’s not for me to say. I don’t judge. I don’t pronounce these things. It’s too awful a thing. It’s too awesome a thing for me even to enter into. I just know I see it in human life. Men who say, “No, no, no,” and forever they’re out there in the world, and they die out there in the world without God, and without Christ, and without hope [Ephesians 2:12]. And whatever lies in store for a man without God [Revelation 20:15], lies in store for them.
These modern preachers get up and say there’s not any hell, and there’s not any damnation, and there’s not any perdition, and there’s not any torment, and there’s not any fire, and there’s not any flame, and there’s not any judgment of God. That’s what they say. I don’t do any other thing but open this Book and tell you God says there is! God says there’s a judgment day. God says there’s a judgment [Matthew 16:27; Acts 10:42]. God says there’s a hell [Matthew 5:22]. God says there’s a flame, there’s a fire [Revelation 14:10], there’s a torment [Luke 16:22-23], there’s a damnation, there’s a perdition [Revelation 17:8, 11]. God says so! And these modern liberal preachers may know more than God. All I know is God says, “Flee ye the wrath to come” [Matthew 3:7]. God says, “Turn and be saved” [Isaiah 45:22]. God calls men to repentance [Acts 17:30]. And there comes a time, there comes an hour, there comes a day when a man goes beyond that call, and he doesn’t hear it anymore [2 Corinthians 4:3-4]. His heart is like stone. His soul has turned to ice, and he becomes the very negation of his life itself.
I don’t ever forget some of those things that were drilled into my soul and poured into my heart when I was a boy. My father believed in that thing of the unpardonable sin [Matthew 12:31-32; Mark 3:28-30]. And my father would talk to me in those revival meetings when everybody went to the revival meeting. Everybody. There was a man there, and my father pointed him out to me. And he said, “Son, that man has committed the unpardonable sin. He will die without Christ and without God.” For, and my father called it back to my childish memory, “I was in the revival meeting when that man who was our sheriff, our marshal, when that man cried and wept, a strong man. And when he held on to the back of the bench, and the preacher pled with him to come, and the neighbors pled with him to come, and his wife pled with him to come, and his children pled with him, ‘Come,’ and the people prayed and cried that he might come, And he said, ‘No, no, no, no, no, no!’” My father said, “Son, he will never cry again. He’ll never be stirred in his soul again. He’ll never be moved God-ward again, and he’ll die an unconverted man.”
And the prophecy of my father was exactly as it came to pass in that man’s life. He never cried again. I’d see him at our church services and our revival meetings. He was never moved again. He was never touched again. He was never called again, and he died without Christ, and without hope, and without God. I don’t judge in these things. I’m just an echo. They are too terrible and awesome for me. I just know that a man can say no to God and no to God and no to God until finally his whole heart and soul and life are that one negation, “No, no, no,” and he dies like Esau died, with a —with a great and exceeding bitter cry [Genesis 27:34].
That’s why we’ve built the church, and we have the choir, and we sing the song, and we open the Book, and we preach the sermon, and we make the invitation that somebody you might turn and be saved, before it’s too late. Man, if you don’t have a burden on your heart, come down that aisle, get on your knees there, make a mourner’s bench out of this platform here and say, “O God, break my heart, unburdened heart, O God, O God.”
If you can’t cry, come down this aisle, get on your knees and say, “Lord I’m crying because I can’t cry, I’m praying because I can’t pray. I want my heart broken because my heart is hard and unbroken.” It’s an awful thing to die without God, without hope, without heaven, without Jesus and without a Savior. Are you saved? Have you found the Lord? If God were to knock at your soul tonight and say, “This night shalt thou stand before Me,” are you ready to stand before God, are you? Are you? Have you made it right with God? Have you asked God to forgive you your sins? Have you asked God to save your soul? Have you asked God to have mercy upon you in that great and final day of the Lord? Are you ready? Are you? Are you?
Oh, oh, oh, there’s not anything that a man can do comparable to getting right with God. “Lord, here I am, save me!” “Here I am, Lord, be merciful to me before it’s too late! Before I go beyond that invisible dividing line, O God, have mercy upon me!” Is it right between you and God?
O blessed Lord, blessed Lord, this man Esau, physical, mundane, of this world, of this time, loving this world, living in this world, all of his treasures and hopes in this world, and when he died, buried in this world, no God, no hope, no heaven, no religion, no forgiveness of sins; die, forever and forever and forever, without Christ, in a Christless grave without God, in a godless grave without heaven, in a heavenless grave, damned, doomed, forever and ever; die like an animal dies, die away from home and away from God. O Lord, Lord, deliver us! Forgive us, Master in heaven, look down upon us in our need. Forgive us, be merciful to us, touch us. Our Lord, save our souls from the burning fires of perdition and from the torments of damnation.
Why did Jesus come into the world? That He might save us from so awful a judgment [Matthew 18:11; Luke 19:10; Hebrews 10:4-14]. Dear God, be merciful to Thy children, to Thy people and to us. Lord are all of us here tonight ready? If God were to call us to stand before Him before the dawn of a new day, are we ready? [1 Peter 4:5]. Are we washed in the blood of the Lamb? [Revelation 1:5]. Have we been saved? [Hebrews 10:39]. Have we given our hearts in trust to Jesus? [Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8]. Are we ready? Lord, search our souls and try our spirits and let each one of us examine himself, “Am I a child of God? Am I ready? Am I?”
O Lord, in the solemnity, and the sobriety, and the awfulness, and earnestness of this hour, if there’s one here tonight, somebody, that hasn’t given his life in faith and trust to Jesus, may he turn tonight, and look and live [John 3:14-17]. May he come down that aisle, “Preacher, here I am. I’ve never settled this thing with God, but I do it tonight.” “I’ve never given my heart to Jesus, but I do it tonight” [Romans 10:9-10]. “I’ve never taken the Lord as my Savior, but I do it tonight.” As God shall witness, as the angels shall look upon it, “Here I am, in trust and in faith, in turning and in repentance [Mark 1:15], here I come, and here I am.”
Blessed Lord, may it be so tonight, make it so tonight, in Jesus name and for our souls sakes, amen.
While we sing our song of invitation, somebody here tonight who’ll turn and be saved, would you come? In this balcony round, down one of these stairwells, “Here I am preacher, and here I come. Tonight, tonight, I give my heart in faith and in trust, in turning and in repentance to God, here I am [Mark 1:15]. In the forgiveness of my sins in the hope of heaven, here I come. I take Jesus tonight as my Savior. I do it now. I may not understand all about it, I may not be able to explain all the theology of it—we’re not saved by theology, we’re not saved by intellectual knowledge, we’re not saved by our understanding. We’re saved by trusting Jesus [John 3:16]. Looking, looking unto Him—“And here I come, and here I am. I look in faith to the Lord. May He in His mercy save and keep me forever, and here I am, here I come” [Hebrews 7:25]. In this balcony round, this cloud of witnesses, somebody you, “Tonight I give my heart and my life in trust to Jesus [Psalm 13:5, 37:5]. Here I come, here I am.” On this lower floor, somebody you, into that aisle, into this aisle, into that aisle, down here to the front. “Here I come, preacher, and here I am. Tonight, I give my heart in trust, in faith, in turning, to Jesus. Here I come, and here I am.” Is there a youth? Is there a child? Is there a family? Is there somebody you, would you make it tonight? Somebody lead the way, somebody lead the way. Is there a family here to put their lives with us in the church; you lead the way. Is there a youth here tonight who’s already been saved and baptized, put his life with us in the church? You lead the way. Is there a child? Is there somebody you, here tonight whose already trusted Jesus as Savior and you’ve been baptized and you belong to the church and you will put your life with us in this faith, in this communion, this wonderful fellowship, you lead the way? You come. “I’m coming preacher by letter or by statement or by promise of letter, you come.
And then beyond you, beyond you, right back of you, somebody come, trusting Jesus as Lord. As He shall press the appeal to your heart, as He shall make the appeal tonight, as He shall say the word and open the door, would you come? Somebody leading the way, putting their life with us in the church, somebody beyond, following hard on the heels of these who come, somebody to take Jesus as Savior, would you make it now? “I’ll settle this thing tonight, preacher. I’ll go to bed tonight, trusting Jesus. I’ll get up in the morning trusting Jesus. I’ll be back here next Sunday, trusting Jesus. And every time you see me or shake my hand, I’ll still be trusting Jesus, and preacher, if you’re by my bed when I’m dying, I’ll still be looking to Jesus.” Would you do it? Would you make it now? Tonight, on the first note of this first stanza, will you? While we stand and while we sing.