24(Jer 29,06) Bellows are Burned
Jer 6:29 The bellows are burned, the lead is consumed of the fire; the founder melteth in vain: for the wicked are not plucked away. (KJV)
He likens the people of Israel to a mass of metal. This mass of metal claimed to be precious ore, such as gold or silver. Put into the furnace, the object being to fuse it, so that the pure metal should be extracted from the dross. Lead was put in with the ore to act as a flux; a fire was kindled, and then the bellows were used to create an intense heat, the bellows being the prophet himself.
He complains that he spoke with such energy, such force of heart, that he exhausted himself without being able to melt the people's hearts; so hard was the ore, that the bellows were burned before the metal was melted-- the prophet was exhausted before the people were impressed; he had worn out his lungs, his powers of utterance; he had exhausted his mind, his powers of thought; he had broken his heart, his powers of emotion; but he could not divide the people from their sins, and separate the precious from the vile.
Now, throughout the whole history of the line of heaven-sent ambassadors, this has been the rule and not the exception; the bellows have in almost every case been burnt, but the metal has not been melted.
Noah – 120 years, not one was led to find shelter in the ark. In the after times God's servants seldom fared better; the most of them were persecuted, and at best they were treated with neglect.
Listen to the mournful question of Isaiah, "Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" . "All day long," he saith, "I have stretched out my hands to a disobedient and gainsaying people" <Ps 88:9>.
Not so with prophets only, for he, our Lord and King, the chief of all teachers, fared no less cruelly at the hands of men. He was indeed a bellows that might well, with his vehement force, have created a heat that might melt an adamant stone; but yet, after one of his most mighty sermons, his hearers would have cast him down headlong from the brow of the hill whereon their city was built; and at the end of his life's sermon you know how the cross and the thorn-crown were the honors meted out to him. Sooner than the people would repent, and become as molten metal, the Messiah himself was made like the bellows which are burnt by long use at the fire.
Does it not tell the preacher and each one of us who are laboring for Christ, that we ought never to be discouraged when we meet with little rebuffs from those whom we seek to bless? You have not yet resisted unto blood striving against sin. What if you have been ridiculed? What if your best endeavors have been misrepresented? What is this compared with the sufferings of those who have gone before? Do you run with the footmen, and do they weary you? What would you have done if you had been destined to contend with horses? If these light afflictions, which are but for a moment, make you cry, "I will speak no more in the name of the Lord"? of what coward blood are you! How little worthy are you to be written in the same muster-roll with those who reunited not their lives dear unto them that they might win Christ and gather in his redeemed! If you try to be like the bellows to melt these hard hearts, and make them flow into the mold of Christ's gospel, you must expect to be burned in the fire; and because you encounter a little persecution, or disrespect, or difficulty, do you flee to your chamber and cry, "I will give it up"? Shame upon you; rather redouble your effort, and pray God to give you a greater blessing by way of success, or if not, greater patience to bear His will.
Though the bellows were burnt and the metal was not molten, the work was only lost so far as the metal was concerned, the Great Founder had not lost His pains. Men shall glorify God one way or the other whenever the gospel is preached to them.
If they reject that message of love, yet they have made manifest in them the longsuffering of God in having borne with their hardheartedness; they show the mercy of God in having sent the gospel to such unworthy persons.
A preacher must not suppose that if men are not converted, he has lost his work. We are unto God a sweet savour as well in them that perish as in them that are saved; though in them that perish we be unto the men themselves a savour of death unto death, yet we are still a sweet savour unto God.
The gospel is the infallible test; if it come to thee being preached affectionately and with the Holy Spirit, if it do not save thee, it confirms thee in thy ruin; if it do not lift thee up to heaven, it will be like a millstone about thy neck to sink thee to the lowest hell. I know of none who are in a more hopeless case than those who have long listened to the gospel, preached to them with all affection and earnestness, and yet have resolved to continue in the error of their ways.
Oil is a smooth and gentle thing, but once set it on a blaze, and how it burns! and love, that tender thing, if once it turns to jealousy, how terrible its flame! Christ is the Lamb today, but tomorrow he may be a lion to you if you reject him. That face which wept over Jerusalem, that dear face which is the very mirror of everything that is compassionate, will, if you continue hardened in heart, become the image of everything that is terrible; so that you shall call to the rocks, "Hide us," and to the mountains, "Cover us; hide us from the face of him that sitteth upon the throne" <Jer 29:16; Rev 5:13>. I wish that I had power to plead with you with the pathetic earnestness of Jeremiah. I fall far short of that, but I can at least speak with all his sincerity. I pray you do not wear us out with entreaties. Turn ye unto God while yet He gives you space. I pray you, if you have long rejected, harden no more your neck, lest you suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy. It may seem a slight thing to reject the preacher, but what if he be God's ambassador! An insult to the Lord's ambassador may be avenged by the Lord himself. Since we come to you with nothing but terms of love and invitations of mercy, and say to you, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved" <Acts 16:31>, we pray you, in Christ's stead, put not away our invitations, lest while we are exhausted you also should be condemned. God bless this gentle word of admonition to many of you, and Christ shall have glory by it.