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Jeremiah 31:35-36

35. Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; the LORD of hosts is his name:

35. Sic dicit Jehova, Qui ponit solera (vel, posuit) in lucem diei, et leges (vel, statuta, decreta) lunae et stellarum in lucem noctis; scindens mare, et resonant (tumultuautur) fluctus ejus; Jehova exercituum nomen ejus:

36. If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever.

36. Si remota fuerint decreta haec a conspectu meo, dicit Jehova, etiam semen Israel cessabit (vel, deficiet) ne sit gens coram facie mea cunctis diebus.

 

He confirms the promises which we have been considering; for it was difficult to believe that the people would not only recover what they had lost, but also be made much more happy; for the Church was then wholly in a desponding state. It was not then an easy matter to raise, as it were, from the lowest depths a miserable people, and to comfort them so that they might overcome their dreadful trial; for the disorder of the Church was such, that had it been raised a hundred times from the dead, it might again be a hundred times crushed into death, for there still remained for it most grievous evils in future. This is then the reason why the Prophet dwells at large on proving the same thing.

He says in the person of God, “I am he who created the sun, the moon, and the stars; the regular order of things in creation still continues, for the sun performs its course, and so does the moon.” He speaks, indeed, of their diurnal course, for we know that the Prophets spoke popularly, and according to the common notions. Had they philosophized, as astrologers do, and spoken of the monthly course of the moon, and of the annual course of the sun, they could not have been understood by the common people. They were, therefore, satisfied to state things which even children could comprehend, even that the sun made its circuit daily round the world, that the moon did the same, and that the stars in their turns followed; so that the moon holds the first place in the night among the stars, and that the sun rules during the day. “I am the Lord,” he says, “who have fixed this order of things which still remains:” I cut or divide the sea, he says, that is, I stir it up with tempests, and make a noise, or roar, do its waves.”

He mentions things which are contrary, but not inconsistent, though different. For the course of the sun, moon, and stars is regular and fixed, and so he calls their courses חקת cheket, and החקים echekim, that is, decrees, which are not changeable. 5656     “Ordinance,” and “ordinances,” would perhaps be the best words. The word means a fixed order of things, sometimes rendered in our version ”statute,” and sometimes “ordinance,” —
   Thus saith Jehovah, —
He who hath appointed the sun for light by day,
The ordinance of the moon and stars for light by night,
Who calms the sea when roar do its waves, —
Jehovah of hosts is his name,

   Two opposite meanings are given by many Lexicons to רגע — to divide, to break, to cleave, and also to give rest, to calm. Parkhurst holds that it has only the last. However, that it means here to make quiet, or to calm, is most probable, as God’s restraining power as to the sea is mentioned before in Jeremiah 5:22 as a proof of his greatness.

   The word for “ordinance” before “moon” is left out in the Sept., and in one MS.; and the passage would read better without it — Ed.
Then in the heavens we find an order so arranged and regulated, that nothing deviates from its appointed course. But in storms and tempests God seems as though he would shake the world and overturn what appears otherwise immovable; for even the very rocks, as it were, tremble when the sea is violently stirred up; and yet God calms the very sea, and thus puts an end to storms and tempests, so that there ever appears to be a stability and a perpetuity in nature. He then adds, If removed shall these laws be from my presence, the seed of Israel shall also fail; that is, “As certain as is the stability of the order of nature, seen in the course of the sun and the moon, and in the turbulent sea, so certain will be the deliverance of ray Church, nor can it ever be destroyed.” The tempest on the sea seems to shake the world, and yet the world remains fixed. The sun and moon, when they rise, might overwhelm the whole earth; for we know that the sun is much larger than the earth. While so large a body, and almost immeasurable, hangs over our heads, and rolls on so swiftly, who ought not to be afraid? Yet the sun proceeds in its course, and the earth remains firm, because it so pleases God. There is, therefore, no reason to fear that the safety of the Church should ever fail, for the laws or decrees of nature shall never cease; that is, God, who has from the beginning governed the world, will not disregard the welfare of his Church, for whose sake the world has been created.

Nor, indeed, is it a matter of wonder, that the safety of the Church is here shewn to be so secure, for it may justly be preferred even to the fixed course of the sun and of the moon, and to other institutions of nature. But God deemed it enough in this place to use this comparison, according to what is said in the Psalms, where the sun and the moon are called his faithful witnesses in heaven. (Psalm 89:36, 37) But there also the covenant is spoken of, which God was about to make with his people through his only-begotten Son. He mentions the moon as his witness in heaven; but as I have already said elsewhere, he raises us far above the world and above all the elements, yea, above the sun and the moon, when he treats of the certainty of our salvation; and, doubtless, the condition of the Church does not depend on the state of the world; for it is said in another place,

“They shall grow old, but thou wilt remain for ever.”
(Psalm 102:26-28)

And the Prophet there compares the heavens to garments, which wear out by use, and at length become useless; but the condition of the Church, he says, is far different. He does not, indeed, express these words; but after having said, “Thou, O God, art the same from eternity,” he comes to the eternity of the Church, “Thy children’s children shall endure.” We now see that the Church has the preference over the whole world. But God had a regard in this place to the weakness of his people, when he said that his grace to his people would be as sure and certain as the institutions of nature. Some refer the last clause in verse 35 (Jeremiah 31:35) to the Red Sea; because God divided the Red Sea; but this is wholly foreign to the meaning of the Prophet, nor does it require any confutation; but I have pointed it out that no one may be led astray.


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