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God’s Reply to the Prophet’s Complaint

 2

I will stand at my watchpost,

and station myself on the rampart;

I will keep watch to see what he will say to me,

and what he will answer concerning my complaint.

2

Then the Lord answered me and said:

Write the vision;

make it plain on tablets,

so that a runner may read it.

3

For there is still a vision for the appointed time;

it speaks of the end, and does not lie.

If it seems to tarry, wait for it;

it will surely come, it will not delay.

4

Look at the proud!

Their spirit is not right in them,

but the righteous live by their faith.

5

Moreover, wealth is treacherous;

the arrogant do not endure.

They open their throats wide as Sheol;

like Death they never have enough.

They gather all nations for themselves,

and collect all peoples as their own.

 

The Woes of the Wicked

6 Shall not everyone taunt such people and, with mocking riddles, say about them,

“Alas for you who heap up what is not your own!”

How long will you load yourselves with goods taken in pledge?

7

Will not your own creditors suddenly rise,

and those who make you tremble wake up?

Then you will be booty for them.

8

Because you have plundered many nations,

all that survive of the peoples shall plunder you—

because of human bloodshed, and violence to the earth,

to cities and all who live in them.

 

9

“Alas for you who get evil gain for your house,

setting your nest on high

to be safe from the reach of harm!”

10

You have devised shame for your house

by cutting off many peoples;

you have forfeited your life.

11

The very stones will cry out from the wall,

and the plaster will respond from the woodwork.

 

12

“Alas for you who build a town by bloodshed,

and found a city on iniquity!”

13

Is it not from the Lord of hosts

that peoples labor only to feed the flames,

and nations weary themselves for nothing?

14

But the earth will be filled

with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord,

as the waters cover the sea.

 

15

“Alas for you who make your neighbors drink,

pouring out your wrath until they are drunk,

in order to gaze on their nakedness!”

16

You will be sated with contempt instead of glory.

Drink, you yourself, and stagger!

The cup in the Lord’s right hand

will come around to you,

and shame will come upon your glory!

17

For the violence done to Lebanon will overwhelm you;

the destruction of the animals will terrify you—

because of human bloodshed and violence to the earth,

to cities and all who live in them.

 

18

What use is an idol

once its maker has shaped it—

a cast image, a teacher of lies?

For its maker trusts in what has been made,

though the product is only an idol that cannot speak!

19

Alas for you who say to the wood, “Wake up!”

to silent stone, “Rouse yourself!”

Can it teach?

See, it is gold and silver plated,

and there is no breath in it at all.

 

20

But the Lord is in his holy temple;

let all the earth keep silence before him!

 


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Verses 1–4

When tossed and perplexed with doubts about the methods of Providence, we must watch against temptations to be impatient. When we have poured out complaints and requests before God, we must observe the answers God gives by his word, his Spirit, and providences; what the Lord will say to our case. God will not disappoint the believing expectations of those who wait to hear what he will say unto them. All are concerned in the truths of God's word. Though the promised favour be deferred long, it will come at last, and abundantly recompense us for waiting. The humble, broken-hearted, repenting sinner, alone seeks to obtain an interest in this salvation. He will rest his soul on the promise, and on Christ, in and through whom it is given. Thus he walks and works, as well as lives by faith, perseveres to the end, and is exalted to glory; while those who distrust or despise God's all-sufficiency will not walk uprightly with him. The just shall live by faith in these precious promises, while the performance of them is deferred. Only those made just by faith, shall live, shall be happy here and for ever.

Verses 5–14

The prophet reads the doom of all proud and oppressive powers that bear hard upon God's people. The lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, are the entangling snares of men; and we find him that led Israel captive, himself led captive by each of these. No more of what we have is to be reckoned ours, than what we come honestly by. Riches are but clay, thick clay; what are gold and silver but white and yellow earth? Those who travel through thick clay, are hindered and dirtied in their journey; so are those who go through the world in the midst of abundance of wealth. And what fools are those that burden themselves with continual care about it; with a great deal of guilt in getting, saving, and spending it, and with a heavy account which they must give another day! They overload themselves with this thick clay, and so sink themselves down into destruction and perdition. See what will be the end hereof; what is gotten by violence from others, others shall take away by violence. Covetousness brings disquiet and uneasiness into a family; he that is greedy of gain troubles his own house; what is worse, it brings the curse of God upon all the affairs of it. There is a lawful gain, which, by the blessing of God, may be a comfort to a house; but what is got by fraud and injustice, will bring poverty and ruin upon a family. Yet that is not the worst; Thou hast sinned against thine own soul, hast endangered it. Those who wrong their neighbours, do much greater wrong to their own souls. If the sinner thinks he has managed his frauds and violence with art and contrivance, the riches and possessions he heaped together will witness against him. There are not greater drudges in the world than those who are slaves to mere wordly pursuits. And what comes of it? They find themselves disappointed of it, and disappointed in it; they will own it is worse than vanity, it is vexation of spirit. By staining and sinking earthly glory, God manifests and magnifies his own glory, and fills the earth with the knowledge of it, as plentifully as waters cover the sea, which are deep, and spread far and wide.

Verses 15–20

A severe woe is pronounced against drunkenness; it is very fearful against all who are guilty of drunkenness at any time, and in any place, from the stately palace to the paltry ale-house. To give one drink who is in want, who is thirsty and poor, or a weary traveller, or ready to perish, is charity; but to give a neighbour drink, that he may expose himself, may disclose secret concerns, or be drawn into a bad bargain, or for any such purpose, this is wickedness. To be guilty of this sin, to take pleasure in it, is to do what we can towards the murder both of soul and body. There is woe to him, and punishment answering to the sin. The folly of worshipping idols is exposed. The Lord is in his holy temple in heaven, where we have access to him in the way he has appointed. May we welcome his salvation, and worship him in his earthly temples, through Christ Jesus, and by the influence of the Holy Spirit.




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