‘The punishment of thine iniquity is accomplished, O daughter of Zion.’ Lamentations 4:22
Suggested Further Reading: Daniel 9:20–26
In the case of the kingdom of Judah, the people had suffered so much in their captivity that their God, who in his anger had put them from him, considered that they had suffered enough; ‘For she hath received of the Lord’s hand,’ said the prophet Isaiah, ‘double for all her sins.’ Brethren, in our case we have not been punished at all, for the punishment of our iniquity is accomplished. Remember that sin must be punished. Any theology which offers the pardon of sin without a punishment, ignores part of the character of God. God is love, but God is also just, as severely just as if he had no love, and yet as intensely loving as if he had no justice. To gain a just view of the character of God you must perceive all his attributes as infinitely developed; justice must have its infinity acknowledged as much as mercy. This is the voice which thunders from the midst of the smoke and the fire of Sinai—‘The soul that sinneth it shall die.’ ‘Sin must be punished’ is written on the base of the eternal throne in letters of fire; and as the damned in hell behold it, their hopes are burned to ashes. Sin must be punished, or God must cease to be. The testimony of the gospel is not that the punishment has been mitigated or foregone, or that justice has had a sop given it to close its mouth. The consolation is far more sure and effectual. Christ has for his people borne all the punishment which they deserved; and now every soul for whom Christ died may read with exultation, ‘The punishment of her iniquity is accomplished.’
For meditation: Christ cried out in agonised separation from his Father as he was punished for our sins (Matthew 27:46), but later in triumph upon the completion of that work (John 19:30). Marvel at the prophecy of his crucifixion which begins with that cry of agony and ends by proclaiming his completed work (Psalm 22:1,31).
Sermon no. 480
16 November (1862)