5. What will ye do in the solemn day, and in the day of the feast of the Lord?
5. Quid facietis in die solenni? in die festivitatis Jehovae?
The Prophet here alludes again to their exile, and shows how deplorable the condition of the people would be, when deprived of all their sacrifices. It is indeed true that the Israelites, when they changed the place of the temple, and when new and spurious rites were introduced by Jeroboam, became wholly rejected, so that from that time no sacrifice pleased God, for they sacrificed to idols and demons and not to God, as it is elsewhere stated, (Deuteronomy 32:17;) but yet, as they had some kind of divine worship, as circumcision remained, and sacrifices were offered, as it were, by Moses' command, and they boasted themselves to be the children of Abraham and lived in the holy land, they were satisfied with their condition. But when in exile they saw no sign of God's favour, when they were deprived of the temple and altar and all sacrifices, when on every side mere solitude and waste met their eyes, when God thus manifested that he was far removed from them, great sorrow must have entered their hearts. Hence the Prophet says,
And he expressly mentions solemn and festal-days. "If the morning and the evening oblation, which is wont to be made, will not be remembered, and if the other sacrifices will not occur to your minds, what will you do when the festal days will come? for the Lord will then show that he has nothing to do with you." For the trumpets sounded on the festivals, that the people might come from the whole land into the temple; and it was, as it were, the voice of God, sounding from heaven: but when the feast-days were forgotten, when there were no holy assemblies, it was the same as if the Lord, by commanding silence, had proved that he no longer cared for the people. That the Israelites then might not think that exile only was threatened to them, the Prophet here shows that something worse was connected with it, and that was, that the Lord would wholly forsake them, and that there would exist no token of his presence, as though they were cut off from the Church. What then will ye do on the solemn day, on the day of Jehovah's festivity? That is, "Do you think that something of an ordinary kind is denounced on you when I speak of exile? The Lord will indeed take away the whole of your worship, and will deprive you of all the evidences of his presence. What then will you do? But if a brutish stupor should so occupy your minds, that this should not recur to your thoughts daily, the solemn and festal-days will at least constrain you to think how dreadful it is, that you have nothing remaining among you, which may afford a hope of God's favour." We now apprehend the meaning of the Prophet.
We hence learn what I have said before, that nothing worse can happen to us in this world, than to be scattered without any order, when no outward evidence appears by which the Lord collects us to himself. It would therefore be better for us to be deprived of meat and drink, and to go naked, and to perish at last through want, than that the exercises of religion, (exercita pietatis -- exercises of religion) by which the Lord holds us, as it were, in his own bosom, should be taken away from us. When therefore we are deprived of these aids, and God thus hides his face from us, and mournful waste discovers to us dread on every side, it is an extreme calamity, an evidence of the dreadful judgement of God. Let us then learn, when our flesh is touched, when sterility or some other evil impends over us -- let us learn to dread this deprivation still more, and to fear lest the Lord should deprive us of our festal-days; that is, take away all the aids of religion by which he holds us together in his house, and shows us to be a part of his Church. This then, in the last place, ought to be noticed: what remains we shall consider in our next lecture.
Grant, Almighty God, that inasmuch as thou drawest us at this time to thyself by so many chastisements, While we are yet insensible, through the slothfulness and the indolence of our flesh, -- O grant, that Satan may not thus perpetually harden and fascinate us; but that we, being at length awakened, may feel our evils, and be not merely affected by outward punishments, but rouse ourselves, and feel how grievously we have in various ways offended thee, so that we may return to thee with real sorrow, and so abhor ourselves, that we may seek in thee every delight, until we at length offer to thee a pleasing and acceptable sacrifice, by dedicating ourselves and all we have to thee, in sincerity and truth, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.