We're turning in our Bibles to the book of Jeremiah the prophet, and his prophecy - chapter 8 of that book, and only one verse that we will read together this evening. Jeremiah chapter 8, verse 20 is our text - and let me say before I read this, I feel it's important to say this: last week, last Sunday evening was our watchnight service, and this is the message that I felt God was giving me for that. It's the exact same message, so if you've come tonight don't think that anybody has tipped me off that I know where you are and I know all about you - this is the message I hoped to preach last week, but God led me to preach something else. So I bring it to you this week, and that - I believe - is for a reason. It must be for a reason, there's no coincidences with God - and I believe that reason is you! No matter who you are, or where you are in this gathering tonight: this is God's message for you tonight, and I am 100% certain of that - you may not be, but I am, so I want you to listen to it this evening.
Verse 20 of chapter 8: "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved"..."The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved".
Let's bow our heads in a word of prayer, and perhaps as we bow our heads together we could sing quietly and prayerfully that first verse of the hymn we've just sung:
'Pass me not, O gentle Saviour,
Hear my humble cry,
While on others Thou art calling
Do not pass me by'.
Can you sing that? Let's sing it together:
[Pastor Legge and congregation sing]:
'Pass me not, O gentle Saviour,
Hear my humble cry,
While on others Thou art calling
Do not pass me by.
Saviour, Saviour, hear my humble cry,
While on others Thou art calling
Do not pass me by'.
Father, we know that we come to a merciful and a gracious God. In the light of that we're looking to Thee tonight not to pass by anybody, but to lift them up in Thine arms of mercy and save their precious soul. But if that is to happen, it's not going to come through me, it's not going to come through the Iron Hall, but it's going to have to be the Spirit of the Living God. So we pray Lord, that You'll shut up everything that is not of Thyself, and that Thy Spirit may have free course in our gathering to convince of sin, of righteousness, and of judgement to come, and that He may lift those wounded, broken spirits heavenward to Calvary. May there be someone - one, two, three, or more - who will look to the slain Lamb tonight and find mercy and grace, and peace with God. Fill me I pray, anoint my head with oil, let my cup run over. Amen.
Let's look at our text again: 'The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved'. What a terrible text of Scripture! The historical context of it was Israel in their wanderings and captivity because of their sin. You find that cycle right throughout the whole of the Old Testament - Israel and their God at loggerheads, not from God's perspective, but from their perspective. Living in sin and rebellious towards God and His word, so much so that God had to teach them, God had to bring them - if you like - through the hedge backwards, to teach them who He was, how much He loved them, and the fact that He wanted to save them and bring salvation to their heart.
That is a cycle that is not old hat, it is something that is going on every day in this world in which we live. It's the same cycle of God's grace, that He is longing to bring men and women to Himself, and at times they have to go a roundabout way for one reason and one reason only - that is: their own sinful rebellion. God would have men come easily, God would have men come on the spot - right away - but men do not choose it so. Israel was such, and because of that God let them go into captivity, let them be slaves.
As they are sitting here before us in this verse, they're dejected, they're depressed. The season of hope, which is harvest, is gone. The sunshine and the blessing of summer is over - and suddenly the realisation, the awesome, terrible reality of the fact that here they are in a foreign land, away from God, away from the temple, away from everything that means that they worship God in the right way, their sins and their iniquities have separated them from their God, and they have that terrible realisation: 'We are not saved!'.
Listen: 'We are not saved!'. What terrible words. What an awful cry to come from the heart of any sinner: 'We're not saved! I'm not saved! I know I'm not saved!'. Is that you? You're here tonight, and you're not one of these Sunday go to meeting, good living type people that think that you're going to get in by the skin of your teeth. You know fine rightly that you're here tonight, and you're far from grace and God and you're not at home. You know that if you wake up tomorrow, and you don't wake up but you wake up in another world, you know fine rightly that there'll be no hope for you at the pearly gate.
These people were concerned about their souls. I mean, who else would say the like of that? 'The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved' - they were very concerned about the whole matter. Indeed that's what the Lord Jesus said we ought to be, isn't it? He said: 'What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?'. In other words, you'll give anything but look after your soul. You'll forge a career, you'll sow the seeds of success, you'll raise a family, you'll go to work every morning - five days a week, six, maybe seven - earn a living, go into old-age, have retirement, have grandchildren. You'll do everything, you'll give anything and everything in exchange for your soul! The Lord Jesus was being concerned about those who are not concerned about their soul!
That's what He meant when He said: 'What does it profit?' - do you have any profit in your life? What is the profit? Is it money? It's maybe not money - what is it? Is it so-called freedom, is it your sin? Jesus the Son of God said: 'What shall it profit, if you gain the whole world yet lose your own soul?'. What was He saying? He's saying this: 'I'm concerned about your soul'. He's saying: 'You ought to be concerned about your soul'! These Israelites here, in their sin and degradation, are concerned about their soul - are you?
Now come on! I'm not going to preach a floury, puffy-up pastry type sermon here tonight! I'm wanting to do a dealing with your soul! Are you saved? Are you concerned about your soul? Are you concerned about where you will wake up in eternity? And can I ask you, at the end of an old year, and at the first Lord's Day of a new year: have you been saved in the year that has gone by? For if you haven't, that's a sure sign that you're not concerned about your soul. A man or a woman that's concerned about their soul will be saved! It's as simple as that!
We were talking about the mercy of God this morning*. We talked about a judge, and we saw the foolishness of a judge sitting on his high seat in the court, and there in the dock a great sinner and offender. Can you imagine: who's ever heard of a judge pleading with the person in the dock? You've never heard of that in your life! Sure they couldn't care less about the people in the dock if the truth is told - it's only a job to them. But here we have a judge pleading, a judge more concerned about your soul than you are!
*See the 'Behold Your God' study series (Part 8 'The Mercy Of God) on our Bible Studies page
Imagine walking into the doctor's with a pain in your chest. You sit down and the doctor says: What's wrong?'. You say: 'Well, I've had a bit of a pain - but I think I'm alright. I'm not going to worry about it'. You go for tests, and you find four of your arteries are blocked up - and you haven't a care in the world! The doctor is pleading with you to have a bypass, but you just go! Can you imagine a doctor more concerned for his patient? Not a bit of it - but that's the foolishness of sinners, because the Saviour of sinners is more concerned about your soul than you are!
Oh my friend, I would say even tonight - and I stand before God and say this - I would say possibly I am more concerned about your soul than you are. Imagine that! I maybe haven't even met you, I perhaps have never even spoken a courteous word to you in my life - and I may never ever do that. But let me tell you this: I could be more concerned about your eternal destiny than you are. Isn't that terrible? To think that men and women are going to a lost eternity, on their way to a sinner's hell, without even one concern! Can I ask you this evening: does it not bother you that you're entering into a new year and you're still not saved?! The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and you're sitting here tonight in the Iron Hall in a Gospel meeting saying: 'And still I'm not saved'! You've wasted another 365 days, another 52 weeks - and if you multiplied that by the number of years that you've known the Gospel, and have had the intelligence to understand and attribute it into your very life...
What a destiny for you, my friend: for your day of opportunity to go, for your spiritual summer to pass and end, and still not be saved! Verse 20 that we read together is a Hebrew proverb, and do you know what it really means? It means this: 'One season of hope after another has passed, but the expected deliverance never came, now all hope is gone'. That's what it means! One season of deliverance after another has passed, but the expected deliverance never ever came, now all hope is gone. Isn't that what harvest is? They're sitting starving, God is letting them starve because of their sin, and they're looking for harvest again. They're hoping that in those months of fruitfulness that suddenly God's wrath will cease, and God will bless them with food. As the month goes by, month after month of harvest season, and there's nothing - they think: 'Maybe God is late. Maybe it will be summer - the sun shining and the fruit ripening, maybe there'll be a chance'. But summer goes by and is ended, and still they're not saved.
The problem for the Israelites was not that they weren't concerned. Maybe that's your problem: you're not concerned. You know what their problem was: they were concerned too late - too late. I have no worry tonight - not one iota of worry - that anybody in this place forever will be unconcerned about their soul, for you will be concerned. But my fear for you, my friend, is that you will be concerned far far too late. When the harvest is past, and when the summer is ended, and still you're not saved - and you know it all too well. When it's too late, like the rich man lifting up his eyes in hell - it was too late!
I want to ask you two questions. The first is this: have you had seasons of hope and opportunity? Have you? Man, you couldn't live in Ulster and not have, could you? In this wee land of ours that has been blessed, the hopes and opportunities for men's salvation are second to none. Let's think about the hopes first of all - hopes for your salvation. Perhaps your family has brought you here tonight, I don't know, but that's usually the way it happens. Family or friends bring you along to a meeting, maybe a loved one has spoken to you time after time - and they're speaking with the motivation of the hope that God will speak to you. Perhaps somebody has handed you a booklet and said: 'Now will you read that?', or somebody has given you a video or a tape and you've put it in, and they've said: 'Now please watch it'. Little did you know they were going away and they were praying that God would speak to you through it. They were hoping that you would be saved! They're praying, and in their prayers there is an agonising hope, in their prayers they have a vision of dreaming of that great day when you will come weeping to Calvary. Maybe you're here and now at this very meeting, and your loved ones are here, and they're praying where they sit - and they're hoping that you'll be saved. That hope comes time after time after time, but it seems that the season of their hope is coming to an end. Even with all their hopes, you're sitting here saying: 'I'm still not saved', and you're not a bit concerned.
Maybe you are concerned. Well, that's good, you listen tonight if you're concerned. Can I just say this - and I'm not saying this for bravado or anything - but, you know, I've prayed for you. Imagine that. I've maybe never met you, I've maybe never talked to you, but I have spent hours in prayer for your soul! Concerned for you! Concerned that you would not let your harvest season pass! Concerned that your summer, spiritually, wouldn't end and you'd be left unsaved! Oh, there's many have hopes, and I have high hopes for some of you tonight that you're going to be saved! If I didn't, I wouldn't be here, I wouldn't be wasting my time.
You've had hopes, what about opportunities? That's what the prophet is meaning: summer past, ended; harvest ended. The opportunities for blessing, how many opportunities have you had? Let's count them up - maybe you can't in your mind, the gospel meetings you've been to, the missions during the autumn time in all those wee country Orange Halls and school houses, the youth meetings you've been to as children, Sunday School, children's meetings, a quiet word of a friend or a relative. You've been in Gospel meetings where the Spirit of God has come down, and Christ Jesus has been presented, crucified in all His agony, bearing the sins of men. You've seen Him and you've walked out of that opportunity of trusting Him once more.
What about when you go down the city centre to shop? A wee man in a long coat gives you a tract, and you stuff it in your pocket - what about that? Eh? You see, God's writing all these things down. There's a book - you mightn't believe it - but there's a book and all your opportunities are being listed one by one by one. God is counting them, yet with you you're sitting here and there still is that condemnation over your head, with all people's hopes for you, with all the opportunities you've had, still: 'I'm not saved'!
It's always a puzzle to me - well, not really, but it always astounds me when I remember that I've no right to be saved. This is a day of rights, isn't it? Everybody has a right to do everything, even the dogs and the cats have rights - more rights than human beings at times! But, you know, I have no right to be saved - not a bit of it. God would have been justified to cast me, before I was even born, my spirit and soul into an eternal hell. I've no right, my friend, you have no right - God's not obliged to save you, but the miracle of the Gospel is that in grace and love He gave His Son for you! He came into the world in flesh: by grace are ye saved. He was nailed to a cross, and He could have called 10,000 angels, but He didn't because He loved you, because He wanted you for His own - and He shed His blood to save you, yet you're still not saved!
After all the opportunities you've had, after all others hopes for you - still you're not saved! Why should He give you another chance? If that was me I wouldn't give you another chance - you need to thank God tonight it's not me! If I was God I wouldn't have given me a chance - but praise God, we were learning this morning, His mercy endureth forever. This is a merciful God, plenteous in grace, endless in mercy. He's here tonight and He may not give you another chance after tonight, I cannot question or ask God, or bring anything like that to His mind. He can do as He wills - but let me say this: be warned, for God has gone many other extra miles for you, my friend.
I don't know your background, but you know there's wee children growing up in this land under the darkness of Islam, under the darkness of Buddhism, even on this island the darkness of Roman Catholicism, and idolatry and all sorts of evils that your mind couldn't even imagine. There's people running around naked in a jungle eating one another's flesh - and you've been brought up in Ulster under the Gospel! The grace of God has been lavished upon you, yet still: 'I'm not saved'! Is that your cry? Oh, my friend, I believe this very night, at this very moment in which I speak, there are souls being dropped into hell. Do you know what they're crying? 'Why am I not saved?' - they're crying that! They really don't know why they're not saved! After a life, perhaps, like yours, of hearing the Gospel and squandering opportunities - they still don't know why they're not saved.
There's a day coming when they'll be brought before the Great White Throne of God, and the Lord Jesus will sit upon it. He will open the book of all the opportunities, all the prayers that were prayed for you, all the harvest seasons of hope, and the summer - spiritually speaking - of opportunity that you have had, all of them! He will go down them and say: 'Refused! Refused! Refused! Refused!'. Will there be an entry: 'Date: 7th January 2001. Location: Iron Hall. Destination: Hell'? My friend, listen to me: you will stand on that day with a multitude of opportunities that will torture you for all eternity without any fire and brimstone - you'll not even need the fire and brimstone, it'll be there, but this will be enough to torture you forever! You had a chance! You had a harvest and a summer! Yet you're still not saved.
Like Pilate, you have stood face-to-face with the Lord Jesus Christ. You've known who He was - oh, you've known. Where you sit tonight you know who He was. [Pilate's] wife came to him, and said: 'Don't you have anything to do with this Man, I have had a dream - and I've had terrible trouble since I've had it. This Man, there's something special about Him'. You know there's something special about Him, but like Pilate you're willing to wash your hands of Him because you afraid of friends. Isn't that what he did? The old Jews came to him: 'You can't call yourself Caesar's friend if you're going to let this Man call Himself the King of the Jews'. So he washed his hands of the Saviour. You have your mates to see, don't you? You've maybe a wife, or a husband, or a mother, or a father, or children to speak to. You've maybe to go into work, into the boys that will rake you stupid about trusting Christ, and about all this good living stuff. My friend, what will that mean to you in hell?
Are you like Judas? Imagine, can you imagine the privilege that man had? He heard the voice of Christ! You've maybe heard it. He's heard the teaching and been a partaker of it, he was the treasurer of the disciples, but he was able to betray the Lord with a kiss for thirty pieces of silver - the price of a dirty old slave. The Bible says that he went to his own place - there was a special compartment in hell for him. My friend, oh my friend, can you see the magnitude of this whole thing? Don't let it be you! Don't let the blood of Christ abide on your head, the wrath of God upon your soul because He died for you, and because He pleaded with you, and you walked out after the harvest passed and summer ended, not saved!
A year is finished, there's a lot of things have been concluded, isn't there? Things have ended. What have you ended? The year is over, and perhaps your career is over, maybe you've retired. Maybe your life at home with the parents has gone past, and their influence in their godliness is over now. Maybe your time at Sunday School has passed, maybe you don't go to church any more, and this Gospel influence is past - it's almost ended. Perhaps your very life is nearly concluded, yet you've never concluded the matter of your soul's salvation! What a fool, my friend! Now, I'm not calling you a fool, because I would be as foolish if God hadn't shone into my heart. If God hadn't saved my soul I would be sitting where you are tonight, maybe unmoved, maybe totally ignorant and without a concern about my soul - but, praise God, He came to me! He can come to you right where you are tonight. Oh, He can come again and save you.
These Israelites were as good as asking: 'Well, where has God been? You're talking about a past year, where is He? Where has He been in my life? I haven't seen any of Him, He hasn't been helping me. I've gone through heartache and trouble, and all sorts of stress and problems, and God hasn't been any help to me' - that's what they were saying. 'The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and God still hasn't come to our aid!'. Do you know what God said to them before that verse? 'You know why I forsook you: because of your idols, your foreign gods, and your sin. If you don't want Me to forsake you, you've got to forsake them'. That's what God wants of you tonight. He wants you to forsake your sin, He's wanting you to forsake those gods that are in your heart that you worship. The reason why God hasn't penetrated your life is because, in your rebellious sinfulness, you won't let Him! That is your captivity.
My friend, listen tonight: you don't have to do anything to end up in hell - don't do a thing, don't lift a finger, you're on your way, headlong, where you sit. In the capacity in which you are in there's no problem - it's concluded, it's written already, that's your final state unless you're saved. But I want to tell you tonight, secondly: God's mercy gives you another opportunity. The harvest may be almost past, the summer may be nearly ended, and you may still not be saved. The people were in hopelessness, they were despairing, the man Jeremiah was wailing and praying for deliverance - and he couldn't believe that it hadn't come as yet. He was weeping, verse 1 of chapter 9: 'Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!'. He was so heartbroken because God hadn't saved them, but let me you tell you tonight: for you there's hope! Hallelujah! There's hope!
I heard a story, I think it was somebody in here told me - I can't remember who it was. A wee man in the shipyard, he used to be doing his work always everyday - and whenever anybody came up to him and said: 'Can you give me the time?', he would look at his watch and he would say: 'Now is the day of salvation, and it's eight minutes to eight'. My friend, God has given you another opportunity - oh, would you thank God for that, would you thank God for that? Don't despise it tonight, don't despise the grace and offer of Calvary's Saviour to you by His own blood. Now is the accepted time, behold, now is the day of salvation - it's not too late! His mercy endureth forever, God is still the God of salvation!
But be warned: the day of salvation is swiftly drawing to a close. You know, the Lord's coming - hallelujah! He is coming, and He's going to fold this old earth up like a tablecloth. The whole earth is going to go up in smoke, there's a day coming when believers in your family, the nearest and dearest you know, are going to go to glory - raptured to be with the Lord forever! But down here antichrist will be revealed, that man of perdition, that son of the devil. My friend, there will be seven years tribulation that you'll have to go through, and the vials of God holy wrath will be poured out upon this earth. The Lord Jesus Christ, gentle Jesus meek and mild, will walk through this earth in a white robe of purity treading the winepress of His wrath!
My friend, there may be no hope then, but there's hope now. Oh, in Christ's stead I say to thee: be reconciled to God! While the day is nigh buy up the time, while there's a chance call on the name of the Lord! Now! That's your hope: now is the time if you repent. Do you know what this chapter says in verse 22? They were running around wondering when they were going to be saved, do you know what the word from the prophet was? This, listen: 'There is a balm in Gilead'. That's Double-Dutch, maybe, to some of you - but do you know what that means? There's a medicine for your need. Oh, there's hope - what fool would go out into eternity without that hope? Tonight I proclaim, in the name of the Lord Jesus that:
'There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole,
There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul'.
You can't go back in time to your opportunities, you can't take them again, but my friend you have an opportunity now, you have hope - now - of believing. You've wasted many years, but there is a medicine that will cleanse you there at Calvary! If you would ascend the hill of the Lord with us tonight. By faith, if you would come where that great river of medicine of the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, that cleanses us from all sin is flowing for all - for the whosoever will. If you will plunge beneath that flood, you'll be as white as snow.
You think you're living life now? Catch yourself on! You know fine rightly there's more to life than what you're living. It's a misery, your soul is empty - but you know that it's only the old devil holding you back tonight! If you came to Christ, oh, it would be life, life, abundant life, Jesus alone is the giver! Will you do it? Will you take the medicine of Calvary? Will you take the poultice of faith and put it onto your soul and be saved? Will you, my friend? Will you buy the truth and sell it not? Will you redeem the time, right now here, the day of salvation, and be born-again?
Or as you go into a new year, will you waste another opportunity, and perhaps waste another year, and - God help you - even waste your own soul? What will you sell your soul for this year? My friend, I asked last Lord's Day: what will you prostitute your soul for? Will you sell it for money? Will you sell it for the family? Will you sell it for your credibility with your mates and your friends and the ones you drink in the pub with? Is that all life is to you? Is that all your soul is worth, the soul of your wife and your family, and your children and your mother? Will you wake up in hell - God forbid - and cry an awful tear-wrenching, soul-wrenching cry: 'I'm not saved!'?
D.L. Moody had one man in his congregation who regularly was on the verge of conversion. D. L. Moody urged him time after time to be saved, and do you know what he kept saying? He said: 'I couldn't be saved, my business partner would ridicule me. He'd laugh his head off at me'. 'He would never stop taking the mickey out of me' - in our terms that's what he was saying. 'I couldn't be saved', is that you? Maybe it's not a business partner, maybe it's something else. Moody persisted, every time he came into the meeting he said to him: 'Are you saved yet? Are you saved yet?' - and he persisted so much that the man desisted in coming to the meetings!
One day the man's wife came to Moody and knocked on his door and said: 'Mr Moody, my husband is very sick, and the doctor says he's not going to do'. Moody went up to that man and spoke to him of Christ, and it seemed that that man trusted Christ - he professed faith in the Lord - Moody thought he was saved. The man, lo and behold, got better - the Lord touched him and he was raised to his feet, and there's many like that, and when they're raised to their feet they live the life of sin that they always lived. Moody urged him, he said: 'Now you're saved why not go to people, go to your partner and testify? Why don't you stand up in the church here and tell what the Lord means for you?'. He said: 'I couldn't do that, people will ridicule me. My partner will laugh at me again'.
Finally, to get away from Moody, he moved to Michigan and set up business there - and Moody told him: 'You can't run away from your Lord'. The message came to Moody not many weeks after that that man had had a relapse of his illness. Moody got on transport and he went and visited him, and Moody said to him: 'Will you not come to Christ, you didn't come to Him before, sure you didn't?'. He said: 'No', he said: 'Will you not come to Him?'. Do you know what he said? 'Mr Moody, I have thrown away my chance. I have thrown away my chance'. Moody said to him: 'The Lord Jesus said, 'Him that cometh onto me, I will in no wise cast out''. The man said: 'It's no good, it's no good' - Moody pleaded with him, Moody fell to his knees to pray and he couldn't pray! All he could hear was the dying voice of that man as he sank into hell saying this: 'The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and I'm not saved'.
Let us bow our heads. We're not going to have a closing hymn, but we're just going to sing one verse of that hymn: 'Just as I am, without one plea, but that Thy blood was shed for me'. Can you pray that? 'And that Thou bidst me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come'. Listen: I feel it's time tonight for somebody. In fact, I'll say it stronger: I know it's somebody's time, and if you miss it, you've missed life. Let's sing together:
[Pastor Legge and congregation sing]:
'Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst come to Thee.
O Lamb of God, I come, I come'.
Now, as the heads are bowed in our meeting tonight, the Lord Jesus is before you and He says: 'Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden'. My friend, can I say this: if you reject such a Saviour you deserve to go to hell, every bit of you! You're worth the fires of the damned if you can refuse such a Lord. It's time you come and say: 'Lord Jesus, I know You died for me at Calvary, and I put my trust and faith in Thee. I turn from my sin, and I come to Thee. Save me and make me Your own, in the name of the Saviour I ask it. Amen'.
If you have prayed that prayer, or if you want to talk to me, I'm here. I'll be at the door, I'll be shaking hands with folk as they go out - but listen to me now: don't you leave this place without getting right with God. Let us close our meeting in prayer, and let me ask that there be silence as we leave this building tonight. Total silence, you can do what you like when you get out of these doors, but please do respect that God has been in this house, and He may be dealing with folk.
Our Father, we thank Thee for so great salvation that is able to save the chief of sinners, and able to save anybody in this building. Lord, You've been so good, You've given us so many opportunities and there's so many building their hopes upon us being saved, some of us. Yet the harvest is past, the summer is ended, and they're not saved. Lord, You know I can do nothing about that, and You know that their loved ones and their friends and this place can do nothing - but Lord, if You would just reach down, and if You would just touch them, we would be ever so thankful. Bless us now as we part, and may the still small voice of God not leave us, nor be snatched by any. In the name of the Lord we pray, Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the tape, titled "The Harvest Is Past" - Transcribed by Preach The Word.
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