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they are more vicious than others, do more dishonour to religion, and mischief to society; and God will execute judgments upon them in anger and fury.
4. The calamities which God brings upon nations, are intended to be warnings to others. When Jerusalem was made desolate, and the Israelites were destroyed and scattered by God's judgments, it was to be an instruction to the nations round about; for he expects that when his judgments are in the earth, the nations should learn righteousness. In like manner, when he punishes particular transgressors, he warns others; and it becomes us to hear, and fear, and not sin presumptuously. May we therefore observe his providences, and attend to the designs of them; come out from among the wicked, and be separate; never partake of their sins, lest we also partake of their plagues.
We have here the judgment of Israel for their idolatry : yet a remnant shall be saved; and the faithful are exhorted to lament their calamities.
ND the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face toward the mountains of Israel; (a strong way of upbraiding the people for their inattention and 3 stupidity;) and prophesy against them; And say, Ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord GOD; thus saith the Lord God to the mountains, and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the vallies, as all have been defiled with idolatry; Behold, I, [even] I, will bring a sword upon you, the sword of the Chaldeans, and I will destroy your high places; either the places where the idols are worhipped, or your fortifications. 4 And your altars shall be desolate, and your images shall be broken and I will cast down your slain [men] before your idols; they shall be slain before the idols, while committing themselves to their protection, to show how unable they are to 5 help their worshippers. And I will lay the dead carcasses of the children of Israel before their idols; and I will scatter your bones round about your altars, and thus pollute the places which are esteemed sacred. In all your dwelling places the cities shall be laid waste, and the high places shall be desolate; that your altars may be laid waste and made desolate, and your idols may be broken and cease, and your images 7 may be cut down, and your works may be abolished. And the slain shall fall in the midst of you, and ye shall know that I [am] the LORD; I will make the most stupid sensible of my hand, and own that the punishment was just.
Yet will I leave a remnant, that ye may have [some] that shall escape the sword among the nations, when ye shall be scattered through the countries, and to whom the promises 9 made to their fathers shall be fulfilled. And they that escape of you shall remember me among the nations whither they shall be carried captives, because I am broken with their whorish heart, or rather when I have broken and subdued their whorish heart, which hath departed from me, so as to break their marriage covenant with me, and with their eyes, which go a whoring after their idols, which are tempted by the fine show which their idols make: and they shall lothe themselves for the evils which they have committed in all their 10 abominations. And they shall know that I [am] the LORD, [and that] I have not said in vain that I would do this evil unto them; they shall see the threatenings accomplished, and that I have not punished them without just cause and a good effect, in bringing them back to God.
Thus saith the Lord GOD; Smite with thine hand, and stamp with thy foot, and say, Alas for all the evil abominations of the house of Israel! for they shall fall by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence; deliver not prophecies of such tremendous evil in a cold, indifferent manner, but with great seriousness and earnestness, and with gestures of grief and 12 concern. He that is afar off from the city and the Chaldeans, shall die of the pestilence; and he that is near shall fall by the sword; he that is near the city, or to some strong hold, where he thinks to retire, shall be slain before he gets thither; and he that remaineth and is besieged shall die by the famine: thus 13 will I accomplish my fury upon them. Then shall ye know that I [am] the LORD, when their slain [men] shall be among their idols round about their altars, upon every high hill, in all the tops of the mountains, and under every green tree, and under every thick oak, the place where they did offer sweet 14 savour to all their idols. So will I stretch out my hand upon them, and make the land desolate, yea, more desolate than the wilderness toward Diblath, the worst part of the wilderness, in all their habitations and they shall know that I [am] the LORD.
T is just in God to make those things our punishment which have been our sin. The idols of the Jews were destroyed by the Chaldeans, who are themselves idolaters; and they were slain before their idols, that their sin might be seen in their punishment, and that those who remained might have a proper conviction of the evil of their ways. Thus if men make money or pleasure their idols, or make a god of their belly, it is VOL. VI.
just in God to bring poverty, pain and sickness upon them. This thought should be reflected upon, to prevent our being too fond of any thing which may alienate the heart from God.
2. The design of afflictions is to bring God and sin to remembrance that they may remember me and lothe themselves, v.9. Afflictions are intended and adapted to recover men's minds to a serious remembrance of God; of his patience with them, and mercy to them; and of the various means he has used to lead them to repentance. They tend to convince men of the evil of sin, to make them abhor their former practices, and themselves for being so stupid as to be seduced into them and when they duly consider how highly they have provoked God, and grieved the good spirit of his grace, they will lothe themselves; and can hardly forgive themselves, even when they hope that God hath forgiven them. This temper enters into the idea of true repentance; and though it be excited and occasioned by trouble, yet a gracious God will accept it.
3. The dreadful consequences of sin ought to be represented to men with great earnestness. The prophet is directed to smite with his hand, and stamp with his foot, that is, to deliver his message with life and emphasis, and all the marks of deep concern ; to show his sense of the importance of the message, and how much his own heart was affected by it. And ministers are still to speak like men in earnest; to use every method of language and gesture that may be likely to awaken and influence the hearts of men. And they must be content to be ridiculed by conceited, captious hearers, if they can but rouse, convert, and edify souls. The authority of their Master, and the importance of their message, require, and will vindicate the most pathetic addresses. He that winneth souls is wise.
This chapter foretells Judah's desolation, and the great distress of the small remnant that should escape; and the prophet is directed to make a chain, as a type of the captivity, in which both king and people should be led in bonds to Babylon.
OREOVER the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Also, thou son of man, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the land of Israel; An end, the end is come upon the four corners of the land; the four most distant parts; that is, a total desolation; and so it came to pass, as most of 3 those who were carried captive returned no more. Now [is] the end [come] upon thee, and I will send mine anger upon thee, and will judge thee according to thy ways,
and will recompense upon thee all thine abominations. 4 And mine eye shall not spare thee, neither will I have pity : but I will recompense thy ways upon thee, and thine abominations shall be in the midst of thee; the punishment of them shall be manifest to all and ye shall know that I [am] 5 the LORD. Thus saith the Lord God; An evil, an only evil, 6 an unmixed, unparalleled evil, behold, is come. An end is
come, the end is come: it watcheth for thee; it is just ready 7 to seize thee; behold, it is come. The morning of that dreadful day is come upon thee, O thou that dwellest in the land : the time is come, the day of trouble [is] near, and not the sounding again of the mountains, not a vain echo and report. Now I will shortly pour out my fury upon thee, and accomplish mine anger upon thee: and I will judge thee according to thy ways, and will recompense thee for all thine abomina9 tions. And mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: I will recompense thee according to thy ways and thine abominations [that] are in the midst of thee; and ye shall know that I [am] the LORD that smiteth; not the king of Babylon, 10 he is only my instrument. Behold the day, behold, it is come: the morning is gone forth; the rod hath blossomed, pride hath budded; the rod of oppression and wickedness prevails 11 among them, and their pride increaseth. Violence is risen up into a rod of wickedness: therefore none of them [shall remain,] nor of their multitude, nor of any of theirs, neither [shall there be] wailing for them; none of the tyrannical princes and magistrates, nor of the mob they set on; hardly any 12 shall escape to bewail the calamities of others. The time is come, the day draweth near: let not the buyer rejoice, nor the seller mourn, for the enemy would soon have torn his property from him for wrath [is] upon all the multitude thereof, 13 both buyer and seller, rich and poor. For the seller shall not return to that which is sold, although they were yet alive; a young person, who has just sold an inheritance, shall scarcely see an end of the captivity; or if he should return, the land shall be so desolate that he shall not know his own inheritance: for the vision [is] touching the whole multitude thereof, [which] shall not return; neither shall any strengthen himself in the iniquity of his life, that is, in contempt of God's judg14 ments. They have blown the trumpet, even to make all ready; but none goeth to the battle; they are quite dispirited, all their courage is gone: for my wrath [is] upon all the 15 multitude thereof. The sword [is] without, and the pestilence and the famine within: he that [is] in the field shall die with the sword; and he that [is] in the city, famine and pestilence shall devour him.
But they that escape of them, for a few, a small remnant, shall escape, and shall be on the mountains like doves of the
17 vallies, all of them mourning, every one for his iniquity. All hands shall be feeble, and all knees shall be weak [as] water, 18 unable to fight, unable to fly. They shall also gird [themselves] with sackcloth, and horror shall cover them; and shame [shall be] upon all faces, and baldness upon all their heads; marks 19 of confusion, sorrow, and misery. They shall cast their silver in the streets, and their gold shall be removed, as an unclean thing; they shall cast it away from them, that they may flee more easily, and take away from their pursuers the temptations to destroy them: their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the LORD: they shall not satisfy their souls, neither fill their bowels; shall not procure them necessaries during the siege: because it is the stumbling block of their iniquity; it occasioned them to commit idolatry and other sins, and was employed in adorning their idols.
As for the beauty of his ornament, their beautiful temple, he set it in majesty but they made the images of their abominations [and] of their detestable things therein: therefore have I set it far from them; I have removed them far from it, 21 and have destroyed it. And I will give it into the hands of the strangers for a prey, and to the wicked of the earth for a 22 spoil; and they shall pollute it. My face will I turn also from them, I will wink at what their enemies are doing to it, and turn away my face, as if I did not see them, and they shall pollute my secret [place ;] for the robbers shall pay no regard to its holiness, but shall enter into it, and defile it.
Make a chain, to link the captives together, that they may be carried away for the land is full of bloody crimes, of murders committed, or of capital crimes passed by, which the law con24 demned, and the city is full of violence. Wherefore I will bring the worst of the heathen, the Chaldeans, the greatest idolaters and most cruel oppressors, and they shall possess their houses I will also make the pomp of the strong to cease; and their holy places, the temple, its courts, and the whole city, 25 shall be defiled. Destruction cometh; and they shall seek 26 peace, and [there shall be] none. Mischief shall come upon
mischief, and rumour shall be upon rumour; then shall they seek a vision of the prophet; but the law shall perish from the priest, and counsel from the ancients; their prophets shall be removed, or have no comfortable vision, and their wisest men 27 shall be infatuated. The king, who should govern and comfort his people, shall mourn, and the prince, or general, who leads the army, shall be clothed with desolation, and the hands of the people of the land shall be troubled; there thall be a general consternation, none shall be able to help themselves: I will do unto them after their way, and according to their deserts will I judge them; and they shall know that I [am] the LORD.