“Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin. Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished.” Exodus 34:7
“He is faithful who promised.” Do we bear sufficiently in mind another truth of equal fidelity — He is faithful who threatens? Ponder that solemn word, “Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished!” Remember when that word was spoken it was in connection with a sublime apocalypse of God’s majesty. It was as “the glory of the Lord” was passing before Moses. Was not this intended to show, that there is a solemn and inseparable connection between the Divine glory — and the impossibility of God’s leaving the guilty unpunished? It was at a time, moreover, when the benignity of God was intended to be more specially manifested. It was when He was declared to be “the Lord, the Lord God, merciful, gracious, long-suffering, abundant in goodness.” Then it was, we listen to the solemn note of warning, that He will not, and cannot leave the guilty unpunished!
His law requires — the honor of His throne requires; demands that the guilty be punished. Reader! are you still clinging to a dream of final mercy? Do you believe in the first part of the Divine proclamation at Sinai, and persist in presumptuous and fatal skepticism with regard to the last? That boundless in His resources, and infinite in His love, God will, by some means, “leave the guilty unpunished?” Do not be deceived, that you do not incur the woe of him who “strives with his Maker.” The Lord, who “is not slack concerning His promises,” cannot be slack concerning His threatenings.
Time blunts the wrath of man; and softens and subdues the turbulence of his passions; but there is no blind impulse — no vacillation in Him with whom “a thousand years are as one day.” “God’s threatenings,” says a writer, “are God’s doings!” The Law has not one breathing of mercy for you. There is not one cleft in all Mount Sinai where you can escape the vengeance of the storm. Unless you flee without delay to Him who has “cleared the guilty” by Himself — the Guiltless One, becoming the guilt-bearer; be assured that through eternity, you will surely be punished.
My soul! are you yet in this state of perilous estrangement from God? You are still launched on the cheerless ocean of uncertainty; leaving everything to a dying hour; the time to which nothing should be left — but to die! Ponder these living words of unchanging truth, “Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not escape unpunished!” The golden chain of grace stretches from Heaven to earth — but it can go no further, “Seek the Lord while He may be found.” There is solemn warning in that one word. It tells you, there is a day coming, when the Lord will be sought — but will not be found.
Reader! cast yourself this night at His footstool; implore His mercy. Rise not from your bended knees, until, with His propitiated smile gladdening you, and the hope of His Heaven cheering you — you may (it may be for the first time in your life) lie down with a quiet conscience and a pardoned soul on your nightly couch, exclaiming, “I will both lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O Lord, make me live in safety!” Psalm 4:8