by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
And he said unto me, Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that hath rebelled against me.... —Ezekiel 2:3a
He threatens them, therefore, and that not only once, because such was the hardheartedness of the people that it was not enough to utter the threatenings of God three or four times, unless he should continually impress them.
But, at the same time, he shows the causes why God determined to treat his people so severely; namely, because they were contaminated with many superstitions, because they were perfidious, greedy, cruel, and full of rapine, given up to luxury and depraved by lust; all these things are united by our Prophet, that he may show that the vengeance of God is not too severe, since the people had arrived at the very last pitch of impiety and all wickedness.
At the same time, he gives them, here and there, some taste of the mercy of God. For all threats are vain, unless some promise of favor is held out. Nay, the vengeance of God, as soon as it is displayed, drives men to despair, and despair casts them headlong into madness; for as soon as anyone apprehends the anger of God, he is necessarily agitated, and then, like a raging beast, he wages war with God himself.
For this reason I said that all threats are vain without a taste of the mercy of God. The prophets always argue with men with no other intention than that of stirring them up to penitence, which they could never effect unless God could be reconciled to those who had been alienated from him.
This then is the reason why our prophet, as well as Jeremiah, when they reprove the people, temper their sharpness by the interposition of promises. —Commentaries
John Calvin was the premier theologian of the Reformation, but also a pious and godly Christian pastor who endeavored throughout his life to point men and women to Christ. We are grateful to Reformation Heritage Books for permission to use John Calvin's Thine Is My Heart as our daily devotional for 2013 on the OPC Web site. You can currently obtain a printed copy of that book from Reformation Heritage Books.
Dr. Joel Beeke, who is editorial director of Reformation Heritage Books, has this to say:
"Calvin shows us the piety of a Reformed theologian who speaks from the heart. Having tasted the goodness and grace of God in Jesus Christ, he pursued piety by seeking to know and do God’s will every day. He communed with Christ, practicing repentance, self-denial, and cross-bearing. Moreover, his theology worked itself out in heart-felt, Christ-honoring piety. The selections of this devotional bear this out, and hopefully will be used by God to direct pious hearts in our own day."
These devotional readings from John Calvin were compiled by John H. Kromminga. Be sure to read his "Introduction" to John Calvin's Thine Is My Heart.