Is It Nothing To You, All Ye That Pass By?
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

We want to speak with you concerning the fourteenth of sixteen questions which are listed by us as “Questions Which Demand An Answer.” I have labeled these questions as such because I believe God has placed them in the Word of God to provoke us to serious thought, for though they may not be directly related to us as far as circumstance and context is concerned, they are related to us as far as the message of God is concerned. I want you to think with me about a question which is found in Lamentations, chapter 1, verse 12:

Lamentations 1:

12 Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the LORD hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger.

Look at the question: “Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?” Before we look at the question itself, it would be wise for us to look at the context of the question so that we might know why God has put it into the Word of God. We are looking at a book called the Lamentations of Jeremiah. There is a preface before the book of Lamentations in the Septuagint version of the Scripture, which reads: “And it came to pass after Israel had been carried away captive and Jerusalem made desolate, Jeremiah sat weeping and lamented this lament over Jerusalem.”

That sums up pretty well the subject matter of the book of Lamentations. After Israel had been taken into captivity and Jerusalem lay desolate, Jeremiah sat and lamented this particular lament over Jerusalem. With that thought in mind, I would like for you to look with me at several selected passages of Scripture out of the book of Lamentations that will enable us to catch the spirit of the great heartache that was in the heart of Jeremiah when he permitted the city of Jerusalem to be personified. He asked the question which makes our text today, “Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?”. Look with me at chapter 1, verse 1:

Lamentations 1:

1 How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! how is she become as a widow! she that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary!
2 She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks: among all her lovers she hath none to comfort her: all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they are become her enemies.

Then down in verse 6:

Lamentations 1:

6 And from the daughter of Zion all her beauty is departed: her princes are become like harts that find no pasture, and they are gone without strength before the pursuer.
7 Jerusalem remembered in the days of her affliction and of her miseries all her pleasant things that she had in the days of old, when her people fell into the hand of the enemy, and none did help her: the adversaries saw her, and did mock at her sabbaths.

Then down in verse 21:

Lamentations 1:

21 They have heard that I sigh: there is none to comfort me: all mine enemies have heard of my trouble; they are glad that thou hast done it: thou wilt bring the day that thou hast called, and they shall be like unto me.

Then over in chapter 2, verse 15, we read:

Lamentations 2:

15 All that pass by clap their hands at thee; they hiss and wag their head at the daughter of Jerusalem, saying, Is this the city that men call The perfection of beauty, The joy of the whole earth?

Then over in chapter 4, verses 1-2:

Lamentations 4:

1 How is the gold become dim! how is the most fine gold changed! the stones of the sanctuary are poured out in the top of every street.
2 The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!

Against that background of the sad condition of the city of Jerusalem at the time designated in the Scriptures, think again about this question, “Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?” Jerusalem speaks as a person and says, “Look at me. Look at me in all the manner that has been described, and then I ask you, is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?”

I want to suggest to you that I do not believe that God preserved this information with emphasis upon this question simply for a historical record because all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and all Scripture is profitable. I believe that God preserved this question in the Word of God that we might be provoked to serious thought by the Spirit of God concerning the sin of unconcern, for if you were listening as we gave you the context of the question, you know that Jeremiah was amazed that Jerusalem, the beloved city, was in the condition that it was and nobody seemed to care; nobody seemed to be the least bit concerned.

Concern for Souls

I want to say to you that there are many things about which we should be concerned, and in not showing concern relative to those things, we are sinning against God. Obviously, we cannot think about all of them, so I want to suggest only a few of them to you today, and I want to begin by suggesting that we consider a concern for souls.

Turn in your Bibles with me, please, to Psalm 142. As you turn to that portion of the Word of God, let me remind you that David was fleeing for his life from Saul. He had fled from Nob to Gath; he had fled from Gath to the caves of Addulam, and hiding there in the caves of Addulam, deserted by friends and men of service alike, his heart was filled with a great deal of discouragement. He wrote down the words of Psalm 142, when he said:

Psalm 142:

1 I cried unto the LORD with my voice; with my voice unto the LORD did I make my supplication.
2 I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble.
3 When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path. In the way wherein I walked have they privily laid a snare for me.

Notice this carefully because it seems to me to be the greatest burden of David's heart, when he said:

Psalm 142:

4 I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul.

Look at the last part of that verse and hear David out of the pathos of his heart saying, “Nobody cares. No man cared for my soul. Here I am, the anointed king of Israel, fleeing for my life. Here I am hiding away in the caves of Addulam and nobody cares.”

I am talking about a concern for souls, but are you listening? This soul about whom I am thinking at the moment was what we would term today a Christian. He was a man who loved God and knew God, and yet among all the people who likewise loved God and knew God, no one cared; so, let us ask the Holy Spirit today to convict our hearts for the lack of concern for our Christian brethren in the hour of trial, in the hour of need, in the time when they are going through real trials and tribulations. Let me ask how many of you are really concerned, how many of you really care, how many of you are really interested in the trouble in which your Christian brethren find themselves at the moment?

Do I hear someone saying, “Of course, I am concerned, but this…, but that…” Look again at our text and hear David say, “No man cared for my soul,” and let me remind you that the word cared is a translation of the Hebrew word darash , which means “to ask after.” That is tremendously significant to me, for you see, David wasn't saying, “Nobody did this and nobody did that and nobody did something else.” He said, “Nobody even cared enough to ask.”

My, how God convicts my heart when I read those words! Yes, we all want to minister, we all want to help other members of the Body of Christ who are in need, and most of us long to be able to do it in a way that they will be relieved of their need and their trouble, but we find so many reasons that keep us from it. But how many of us even care enough to ask?

You know, we might find many, many reasons we don't go. We might find many, many reasons we don't help; but I can't think of a reason that would keep me from asking about somebody's need and showing concern.

You remember what the Spirit of God said in I Corinthians, chapter 12, about the Body of Christ, particularly verse 26, where we are all members of one another and He said, “If one member suffers, the other members suffer with it.” Let the Spirit of God minister that to our hearts today. Do you really suffer when some Christian brother is suffering? I am not talking about do you give? Do you help? I am talking about do you really suffer? Do you really care?

Obviously, I can't spend more time emphasizing this particular truth, but I want you to know that you are going to have to come face to face with this question, “Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?” Listen to the believer, the Body of Christ, who is in a great deal of trouble, and hear him say, “Don't you care? Don't you care? Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?”

You remember perhaps the concern that the Apostle Paul emphasized in Galatians, chapter 4, verse 19, when He said:

Galatians 4:

19 My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,

Thinking about a concern for souls—how are they progressing in things of the Lord? How are they growing? Do you care? Oh, yes, you will probably say and have said many times, “God bless brother so and so, or God bless Johnny. I want to see them grow,” but do you really care? Do you know anything at all about the travail that the Apostle Paul is speaking about here when he said, “I travailed until Christ be formed in these believers.”? Do you know anything about it?

I am not going to attempt to tell you how you can travail. You can travail in prayer. You can travail in so many different ways, but you know all of that. You have been told that numerous times, so the question is, “Are you travailing? Do you really care about these people who are in real need? Do you care about souls or is there someone perhaps in our immediate fellowship who could say as David said, “No man cared for my soul.”?

I would like to call to your attention a familiar passage of Scripture found in the Gospel of John, chapter 4, verse 35. I say familiar because you remember in John, chapter 4, we have the story of the Lord Jesus Christ's going through Samaria, sitting down on a well curb, and a woman of Samaria coming along. He engaged her in conversation using water as an entree into her thinking and into her spirit and He asked her to give Him a drink of water. You are familiar with all the conversation that followed. I would like for you to notice verse 35, where we read:

John 4:

35 Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.

The Lord Jesus Christ here was not speaking of the believer who is in trouble, the member of the Body of Christ who ought to be able to expect concern from the other members of the Body of Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ was speaking here of the unsaved. Yes, the fields of grain were close by, and they were talking about four months until the harvest; but the Lord Jesus Christ was dealing with a woman who was ripe for the picking, and when they came back, He said to them, “You know, you have been talking about harvest time four months away. Open your eyes. Open your eyes and look. The fields are white unto harvest already,” and He wasn't talking about the fields of grain. He was talking about precious human souls who are waiting to be saved and are waiting for that witness from you that will bring them to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. If those unsaved souls could speak, I think you could hear them say, “Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Here we are waiting, longing for someone to tell us about the Lord Jesus Christ and nobody seems to care. Nobody seems to be burdened.”

You are being taught from this pulpit consistently that the bringing of people into the kingdom of God is the Word of the Holy Spirit of God and you cannot force it, and much of the witnessing that people do is in the flesh and not in the Spirit. Much of the witnessing that people do is for themselves and for their church and not because they have a concern for souls. You have been taught that, but having said all of that, hear me as I say to you that there are people who are lost this very moment, longing to come to Christ and who have not come to Him up to this point because we really don't care. We really don't have the concern we ought to have.

A few test questions: How long have you been praying for an unsaved love one? Is it true that you have sort of settled down into the rut of saying, “There really isn't too much I can do about it. All I can do is commit him to the Lord.”?

That is true, but hear me. Let us be very, very careful that we do not let that be a cop-out. I would not presume to sit in judgment upon anybody here. I wouldn't even presume to speak with any certainty from my own heart because our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked, but I ask you in the name of Christ to think, to consider, and find out if perhaps there are people unsaved within your family, within your circle of acquaintances who are unsaved still because there is no real concern in your heart, no real travail? Do you have the concern for souls that you ought to have?

Concern for Those in Need

There is another concern that we must address. I have labeled it “a concern for those who are in need.” Do you have a real concern for those who are in need? You say, “Yes, I have already made my pledge, somewhat under duress, to the United Fund. I am concerned about those who are in need.” I am not talking about that. I am talking about the idea that you are made aware of needs in the lives of people and you have done a little toward doing something about it, but you are not really concerned.

I would like for you to consider with me the very, very familiar story of the Good Samaritan that is found in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 10. You remember the story. There was a man who was on the highway to Samaria and he had been attacked by thieves, and people passed by. They all had one thing in common, those people who passed by, and that is, they passed by. They all had that in common. One was a Levite. One was a priest. There were probably others, but they had one thing in common. They passed by, except the individual referred to as the Good Samaritan , who came to where the man was, and look at verse 33:

Luke 10:

33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.

I want you to notice something about this man, the Good Samaritan. He not only saw the need of this individual and did something about it in such a personal fashion that the man was more than a number in a computer. He said to the individual in whose care he placed this man, “You take care of him and when I come again, I will pay you for everything.”

Do you get the message? He did not stop with a simple manifestation of interest. He—and this is what I want you to get—continued his interest in this individual. It was a continuing interest. Now think with me. How many of us have heard of a physical, material need that someone has had and have helped personally? And that is it. And later someone says to us, “What about so and so?” “I don't know. I guess he is doing all right.” “Well, wasn't he the fellow that we helped?” “Yes, but I haven't seen him. I don't know.”

Why don't we know? Why haven't we pursued it? Why haven't we gone on to find out how much care he might still need? You know we don't. It doesn't really mean anything to us. We really don't care. Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? I wonder how many of us could have been written into the story of the Good Samaritan had we been living at that particular day.

Permit this illustration that the Lord used to speak to my own heart of the real meaning of the Good Samaritan. This week I was out for my daily morning walk. I saw something lying in the highway and as I got closer, I discovered it was a beautiful dog, one of the prettiest dogs I have seen in a long time there in the middle of the highway. On the shoulder of the road was another dog watching over it. I glanced at that dog and I passed by. I passed by. As I was returning, I saw a lady walking. As she approached the dog, she did more than I did. She went over and looked at the dog and then passed by. I didn't think too much of it until, still where I could see what was happening, I noticed a truck come by, slow up, pass by, and then turn around in the middle of the highway, go back to where the dog was and a boy went over to where that dog lay on the highway. Very slowly and very gently he lifted that dog up off the highway and put it in the back of his truck and drove off.

That was a dog, but the Spirit of God said to me as I watched all of that, “Joe Temple, there is a living illustration of what concern is. A man driving the truck was the good samaritan. He had enough concern to do something about that dog.” I didn't argue with God about it. I thanked Him for the lesson and was reminded once again that many of us do an awful lot of talking and an awful lot of speaking out about what ought to be done and what others are not doing and do nothing ourselves.

Concern for the Church

To provoke your thinking, I want you to consider with me, for a moment, a concern for the church. In I Corinthians, chapter 5, particularly verses 1-2, the church at Corinth had a man in the assembly who was living in fornication, a wicked kind of fornication. Even the heathen didn't do what he was doing, and the church was unconcerned about it. They just accepted it. That is the way things are and that is the way it was, and that is that. The Apostle Paul wrote to them and said, “I can't understand you people,” and that is what I want you to notice there in the very first verse of I Corinthians, chapter 5: “Well there is nothing we can do about it. People are going to do what they want to do. We can't make people live right.” Reading their minds, knowing everything that was said about it, he said, “You could have mourned. You could have been concerned, but you weren't. You didn't even care.”

Take that statement today and amplify it a bit in regard to the church, in regard to Abilene Bible Church. How concerned are you about this place designated to the worship of God and the place you have felt led of God to designate as your home church, your place of fellowship? How concerned are you about it? Oh, you pray, I am sure, for it. I know you pray to some degree for your pastors, but how concerned are you for the blessing of God upon Abilene Bible Church? How long has it been since you spent some time in prayer for Abilene Bible Church? Now wait a minute. I didn't say how long has it been since you said something about it. I didn't say how long has it been since you said, “I don't know what is wrong with it, and I don't know what is wrong with that.” How long has it been since you have been concerned about it? I didn't say how long has it been since you said, “I wish the services could be more interesting, and I wish this or I wish that.” You can talk like that all you want to, bless you. That is between you and God. You can just run off at the mouth all you want to, but I am not talking about that; I am talking about how long it has been since you have really prayed and asked God's blessing.

Through the years people have met me after the services and have said something like, “Oh, I wish everybody could hear these messages. I wish seats would be filled. Oh, how I wish everybody would come here.” Well, let's be practical. God doesn't want everybody here. If everybody were here, we would all go crazy. God doesn't want that, but being more serious in line with the message from the Word of God, if you feel that way, what have you done about it? Do you really want everybody? Do you really want folk here? How concerned are you? “Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?”

Concern for our Nation

That is the question, and you are going to have to find the answer. You do realize that I am not trying to teach you something. I am trying to stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance, and I do so with one last consideration. Turn in your Bibles, please, to Isaiah, chapter 59, as I say to you that every Bible-believing Christian ought to have a concern for our nation. We see Isaiah's words in verse 16:

Isaiah 59:

16 And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him.

God looked down on the nation of Israel and she was in a sad state indeed, and God said to the other members of the Godhead, “I can't understand that. There is nobody down there who really seems to care. There is nobody down there who is concerned.”

Because of the last part of this verse, this verse has been used to speak of the fact that there was nobody to bring salvation to the hearts of men and so God brought that salvation Himself, and there is truth in that; but as far as the actual text of the Scripture is concerned, it is talking about the condition of a nation which nobody cared enough to do anything about it.

I would like for you to just glance over this chapter with me because it seems to me that there is an avid description of our own nation in its present state. Look at verse 3:

Isaiah 59:

3 For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness.

Blood, iniquity, lies, perversity—does that sound familiar? Verse 4:

Isaiah 59:

4 None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity.

No justice, no truth, confidence and trust in vanity—that is all that is big and empty but impressive. They speak lies, conceive mischief, the plans of which will bring forth evil. Look down at verse 9:

Isaiah 59:

9 Therefore is judgment [righteousness] far from us, neither doth justice overtake us…

I can think of no better description of our present condition than the last part of verse 9:

Isaiah 59:

9 …we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness.

Think how many times have we made some expression of what we would like to see when we read, “we wait for light, but behold obscurity…” We wait for light, but all we had is obscurity. “For brightness”—surely there is a brighter day ahead—“but we are walking in darkness.” Look at verse 10:

Isaiah 59:

10 We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noon day as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men.

Remember the blind man who isn't sure of the territory he is traversing and he reaches out, and if he can put his hand on the wall and feel the wall as he goes along, he can feel a sense of security. That is the way we are. Notice again:

Isaiah 59:

10 We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noon day as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men.

Does that speak to you? Is that the condition of our nation today? Look at verse 11:

Isaiah 59:

11 We roar all like bears, and mourn sore like doves…

We are putting up a front like a great, big, roaring bear, but we are as harmless as doves. We are all talk and no action. Notice:

Isaiah 59:

11 …we look for judgment [righteousness], but there is none; for salvation, but it is far off from us.

That word salvation does not refer to the salvation of the soul; it refers to the deliverance of the nation from a sad state in which it is. How concerned are you? You look at your nation; you read everything that there is to read about it and what do you do? Hear the question: “Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?” What are we doing? Recognizing a situation that is real and passing by. “What can we do?” someone says, and we would not be through ever if we tried to examine all of the programs and all of the efforts in which you might engage because you have a concern for your nation. But there is one thing that I can say to you as God has said to my own heart, that all of us can do regardless of what else there may be to do. “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray, confessing their sins, I will forgive their sins and I will heal their land.”

You say, “Oh, I have been doing that. You don't know how much time I have spent in saying, “God, this is a wicked nation.” You turn to Daniel, chapter 9, when you have time, and you learn how to humble yourself and pray for a nation we love. Hear Daniel as he said, “Oh, Lord, we have sinned.” He did not stay in his room and pray with his window open toward Jerusalem and say, “Oh Lord, you know how these people have sinned.” He said, “We have sinned.”

Hear me today. Until we get to the place where we bear the burden collectively for the sin of our nation and confess it to God, it doesn't matter how many programs are started and how many efforts are made. This nation is slated for judgment. “Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?” Look upon the members of the Body of Christ with whom you are familiar. Are you concerned about their needs and their trouble? Ask God to burden your heart. What is wrong with us? Are there no concerns for people who are dying without Christ? Is it nothing to us? Oh, notice. We are all good at passing by, all of us, but doesn't it mean anything at all? You love this church. God has been good to us. We are reaching around the world with the message and yet pews are empty. Does it mean anything? “Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?”

Conclusion

This isn't something that happened in the last century. It isn't something that has happened in the last twenty years. It is a condition of heart that existed even in Jeremiah's day, when people simply don't care.

PRAY WITH US

That the Word of God will continue to have free course throughout the world and that God will continue to raise up believers to carry on His work. Our prayer is to have the Word of God available to any who are seeking it, and as believers, it is our responsibility to help make it available to others. If you are convinced that Dr. Joe Temple's and Tim Temple's expositions of the Bible are worthwhile, let your friends and neighbors know about it. We will be happy to put them on our mailing list at their request.


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