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ber, whose teeth [are] the teeth of a lion, and he hath the cheek teeth of a great lion; they are as voracious, and as able 7 to devour. He hath laid my vine waste, and barked my fig tree he hath made it clean bare, and cast [it] away; the branches thereof are made white.*
Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth, that is, in deep mourning, for the husband of her youth, snatched away after 9 espousals, and just before marriage. The meat offering, and the drink offering, that is, the offering of flour and wine which accompanied the sacrifices, is cut off from the house of the 10 LORD; the priests, the LORD's ministers, mourn. The field the
is wasted, the land mourneth; for the corn is wasted new wine is dried up, the oil languisheth; every thing wears 11 a mournful appearance. Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen; howl, O ye vine dressers, for the wheat and for the barley; because the harvest of the field is perished; all your expec12 tations are disappointed, by this divine judgment. The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, [even] all the trees of the field, are withered because joy, that is, the joy of harvest, 13 is withered away from the sons of men. Gird yourselves
with sackcloth, and lament, ye priests: howl, ye ministers of the altar come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God, who keep watch in the temple for the meat offering and the drink offering is withholden from the house of your God; there are neither offerings for the altar, nor maintenance for yourselves.
Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders [and] all the inhabitants of the land [into] the house of the 15 LORD your God, and cry unto the LORD, Alas for the day! for the day of the LORD [is] at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come; that is, another and more dreadful day shall shortly come; referring to their destruction 16 by the Chaldeans, which happened a little time after. Is not
the meat cut off before our eyes, [yea,] joy and gladness from the house of our God? that is, both from our own houses 17 and the temple: and this is likely to continue; for The seed
[is] rotten under their clods, the garners are laid desolate, 18 the barns are broken down; for the corn is withered. How
do the beasts groan? the herds of cattle are perplexed, because they have no pasture; yea, the flocks of sheep are 19 made desolate, or destroyed. O LORD, to thee will I cry :
for the fire, that is, a scorching heat, and long continued drought, hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness, the level country, the downs and pasture lands which were not tilled, and the 20 flame hath burned all the trees of the field. The beasts of
This, travellers assure us, is sometimes done by locusts when very numerous. See Harmer's Observ. vol. I, p. 388.
the field cry also unto thee; toss up their heads, and roar, or pant and groan, for want of food and water; which in effect was crying to God, who alone could help them; and was a reproof to those who, in this desolation, did not cry unto him: for the rivers of waters are dried up, and the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness.
are not felt in
E have the greatest reason to be thankful that such terour country. Observe how terrible God's judgments are; what desolation he can make in a land, by the most contemptible creatures: he can bring them as an army, as a nation, and make them as destructive as lions, when he pleaseth to humble a rebellious people. Justly have we deserved this, for our luxury, drunkenness, and abuse of plenty. Let us therefore praise him that our land still yields its increase, and that the joy of harvest is not taken from us.
2. See the design of God's judgments, namely, to bring men to humiliation, repentance, and supplication. When he turns a fruitful land into barrenness, it is for the iniquity of those that dwell therein; and it becomes them to humble themselves under his mighty hand. And in what manner soever he corrects us as individuals, whether it be in our persons, our families, or our circumstances, it is our duty to submit to him, to humble ourselves before him; and to cry to him with importunity for pardon and help. And whatever afflictions we escape, and though no days, of darkness should in this life come upon us, yet the day of the Lord is at hand; that awful day, when destruction from the Almighty shall come upon the wicked. Let us give diligence to prepare for that day; that it may not come upon us unawares, but be the day of our complete salvation.
Contains a declaration of the terribleness of God's judgments ; the prophet's exhortation to repentance; a fast is prescribed, and a blessing promised thereon.
ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble for the day of the LORD, that is, a terrible army of 2 locusts, cometh upon them, for [it is] nigh at hand; A day
of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains; the
locusts shall be as numerous as the rays of light, and shall cover the mountains instead of the beams of the sun : a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, [even] to the years of many generations; a proverbial expression, signifying their great number, and the uncommon devastation which the locusts should 3 make. A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land [is] as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them; they shall devour every thing so quickly 4 and entirely, that one would think a fire had done it. The appearance of them [is] as the appearance of horses, as the head of a locust is very much like that of a horse; and as horsemen, so shall they run; they shall overrun the country with the speed of horsemen, when suddenly invading an enemy's land. 5 Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall
they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth 6 the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array.* Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness; they shall look ghastly, like dying persons, through their dreadful astonishment and apprehension. They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his 8 ways, and they shall not break their ranks: Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path: they are said to keep their rank in flight with great exactness: and [when] they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded; their skin being smooth and hard, and not easily pierced. 9 They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief, and thus be extremely 10 troublesome and afflictive to the inhabitants. The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble; a strong expression for universal consternation: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining; in 11 such vast and thick swarms shall they come: And the LORD shall utter his voice before his army, like a general, commanding and encouraging them : for his camp [is] very great for [he is] strong that executeth his word: for the day of the LORD [is] great and very terrible; and who can abide it?
Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye [even] to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and 13 with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, or, rather than your garments, the latter will be of no avail without the former; and turn unto the LORD your God with the deepest contrition: for he [is] gracious and merci
* Locusts are remarkable for making a load noise as they fly.
ful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him 14 of the evil. Who knoweth [if] he will return and repent,
and leave a blessing behind him; [even] a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God? reserve some of the fruits of the earth from the common destruction, for your support and his own worship.
Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn 16 assembly Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts, that ye may appear so much the more objects of divine compassion: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet; lay aside all carnal delights and ornaments, and unite in deprecating the impending judg• 17 ments of God. Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, the place where they generally stood, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them, or, use a byword against them, in scorn and derision, as if their God had forsaken them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where [is] their God?
Then will the LORD be jealous for the honour of his land, 19 and pity his people. Yea, the LORD will answer and say unto his people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith and I will no more 20 make you a reproach among the heathen: But I will remove far off from you the northern [army,] the locusts, which came from the north, and will drive him into a land barren and desolate, to the desarts of Arabia, with his face toward the east sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea; those on the eastern side I will send into the eastern or dead sca, and the western swarm I will destroy in the western or Mediterranean sea; from whence being driven back by the waves on the shore, they will become noisome and offensive; and his stink shall come up, and his ill savour shall come up, because he, that is, Jehovah, hath done great things.
Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice for the LORD will do great things: a beautiful contrast! the Lord will do great 22 things in mercy, as he hath done great things in judgment. Be
not afraid, ye beasts of the field, who have cried to God by your moans for the pastures of the wilderness do spring, for The tree beareth her fruit, the fig tree and the vine do yield their 23 strength, large and vigorous crops. Be glad then, ye children
of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in 24 the first [month.] And the floors shall be full of wheat, and 25 the fats shall overflow with wine and oil. And I will restore to you the produce of the years that the locust hath eaten, the VOL. VI.
canker worm, and the caterpiller, and the palmer worm, my 26 great army which I sent among you. And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you and my people shall never be ashamed; they shall no longer be reproached by 27 the heathen. And ye shall know that I [am] in the midst of Israel, and [that] I [am] the LORD your God, and none else : and my people shall never be ashamed.
And it shall come to pass afterward, [that] I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions; which St. Peter applies to the descent of the Spirit on the day of pentecost, (Acts ii. 17.) when God revealed to young and old his truths, purposes, and com29 mands: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids, upon the lowest orders and ranks of men, in those days will I 30 pour out my Spirit. And I will show wonders in the heavens 31 and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The
sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come; referring to the dreadful wars in Judea, when many cities were laid 32 waste, and pillars of smoke went up from their ruins.* And it shall come to pass, [that] whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD, that is, whosoever shall heartily embrace the gos pel, shall be delivered from temporal and eternal judgments : for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said by former prophets, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call; that is, the remnant of the Jews who embrace the gospel, when the bulk of the nation reject it.
E have here an awful yet glorious display of divine power. The locusts are God's army, a great army, marshalled, ordered, and directed by him they come when he pleases, do what he commands, and retreat when he bids them: all creatures, even the meanest insects, execute his will. Who would not therefore fear this great and glorious Being! for who can abide his great and terrible day?
2. The hope of divine mercy is a great encouragement to repentance and prayer. The prophet called his people to these, though on a peradventure only; who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the Lord your God, v. 14. This refers to temporal judgments, and is applicable to afflictions in general:
Our Lord describes the destruction of Jerusalem under these images, Matt. xxiv.