By Elizabeth Prata
ust when we start to think we might be such bad people, here is a splash of cold water for us all to ponder. Commenting on Hosea 7:1, Israel’s sin, Matthew Henry wrote
The actual wickedness of men’s lives bears a very small proportion to what is in their hearts. But when lust is inwardly cherished, it will break forth into outward sin. Those who tempt others to drunkenness never can be their real friends, and often design their ruin. Thus men execute the Divine vengeance on each other. Those are not only heated with sin, but hardened in sin, who continue to live without prayer, even when in trouble and distress. (“Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Bible“)
We’re not as bad as we could be, but it’s in there and under certain conditions, our greater seed of iniquity comes out. Pogroms, genocide, the Holocaust, are all examples where the evil men did rose in greater proportion to what is in there. And that is not end of the evil that lurks within still. During the Tribulation, men will fully enact what is in their heart. The full measure of sin will be complete. (Dan 8:23, Matthew 23:32). Jesus said it will be the worst time the planet has ever known. (Matthew 24:21-22).
In 1735 Jonathan Edwards preached on 1 Thessalonians 2:16, in his sermon titled When the Wicked Shall Have Filled Up the Measure of Their Sin, Wrath Will Come Upon Them to the Uttermost
by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them at last! (1 Thessalonians 2:16)
This is true of every individual person, but will be in greater application during the Tribulation. Edwards’ sermon again,
There is a certain measure that God hath set to the sin of every wicked man. God says concerning the sin of man, as he says to the raging waves of the sea, Hitherto shalt thou come, and no further. The measure of some is much greater than of others. Some reprobates commit but a little sin in comparison with others, and so are to endure proportionably a smaller punishment. There are many vessels of wrath; but some are smaller and others greater vessels. Some will contain comparatively but little wrath, others a greater measure of it. Sometimes, when we see men go to dreadful lengths, and become very heinously wicked, we are ready to wonder that God lets them alone. He sees them go on in such audacious wickedness, and keeps silence, nor does anything to interrupt them, but they go smoothly on, and meet with no hurt. But sometimes the reason why God lets them alone is because they have not filled up the measure of their sins.
Edwards urges us to get into the ark, Christ.
We find in Scripture, that where glorious times are prophesied to God’s people, there are at the same time awful judgments foretold to his enemies. What God is now about to do, we know not. But this we may know, that there will be no safety to any but those who are in the ark. — Therefore it behooves all to haste and flee for their lives, to get into a safe condition, to get into Christ. Then they need not fear, though the earth be removed, and the mountains carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled; though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof: for God will be their refuge and strength; they need not be afraid of evil tidings; their hearts may be fixed, trusting in the Lord.
Through rapture or death, what a blessing it will be to arrive home to heaven where Jesus dwells, and there is no sin or death or evil any longer. Then, we can be with and gaze upon the only truly Good Person there ever was or shall be: Emmanuel.