Lecture Ninety-Eighth

Jeremiah 25:32

32. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth.

32. Sic dicit Jehova exercituum, Ecce malum egredietur a gente in gentem, et tempestas magna excitabitur a lateribus terrae.


Jeremiah goes on with the subject which we began to explain in the last Lecture. He had before prophesied of God's judgments, which were nigh many nations, and which referred to almost all the countries near and known to the Jews, and to some that were afar off. The substance of what has been said is, -- that God, who had long spared the wickedness of men, would now become an avenger, so that it might openly appear, that though he had deferred punishment, he would not allow the ungodly to escape, for they would in proper time and season be called to give an account.

To the same purpose is what he adds here, go forth shall evil from nation to nation. The explanation by some is, that one nation would make war on another, and that thus they would destroy themselves by mutual conflicts; and this meaning may be admitted. It seems, however, to me that the Prophet meant another thing, even that God's vengeance would advance like a contagion through all lands. And according to this view he adds a metaphor, or the simile of a storm, or a tempest, or a whirlwind; for when a tempest arises, it confines not itself to one region, but spreads itself far and wide. So the Prophet now shews, that though God would not at one time punish all the nations, he would yet be eventually the judge of all, for he would pass far and wide like a storm. Thus, then, I interpret the passage, not that the nations would make war with one another, but that when God had executed his judgment on one nation, he would afterwards advance to another, so that he would make no end until he had completed what Jeremiah had foretold.

And this view appears still more evident from the second clause of the verse, for this cannot be explained of intestine wars, raised shall be a tempest from the sides of the earth. We hence see that the meaning is, that God would not be wearied after having begun to summon men to judgment, but would include the most remote, who thought themselves beyond the reach of danger. As when a tempest rises, it seems only to threaten a small portion of the country, but it soon spreads itself and covers the whole heavens; so also God says, that his vengeance would come from the sides of the earth, that is, from the remotest places, so that no distance would prevent the completion of what he had foretold by his servant.

But this may also be accommodated to our case; for whenever we see that this or that nation is afflicted by any calamity, we ought to remember this truth, that God seasonably warns us, that we may not abuse his patience, but anticipate him before his scourge passes from some side of the earth to us. In short, as soon as God manifests any sign of his wrath, it ought instantly to occur to us, that it may spread in a moment through all the extremities of the earth, so that no corner would be exempted. For if he makes known his power in the whirlwind or the storm, how will it be, when he makes a fuller and a nearer manifestation of his judgment, by stretching forth his hand as it were in a visible manner? This, then, is the import of this verse. It afterwards follows, --