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31. Woe to Those Who Rely on Egypt

Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord! 2Yet he also is wise, and will bring evil, and will not call back his words: but will arise against the house of the evildoers, and against the help of them that work iniquity. 3Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit. When the Lord shall stretch out his hand, both he that helpeth shall fall, and he that is holpen shall fall down, and they all shall fail together. 4For thus hath the Lord spoken unto me, Like as the lion and the young lion roaring on his prey, when a multitude of shepherds is called forth against him, he will not be afraid of their voice, nor abase himself for the noise of them: so shall the Lord of hosts come down to fight for mount Zion, and for the hill thereof. 5As birds flying, so will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also he will deliver it; and passing over he will preserve it.

6Turn ye unto him from whom the children of Israel have deeply revolted. 7For in that day every man shall cast away his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which your own hands have made unto you for a sin.

8Then shall the Assyrian fall with the sword, not of a mighty man; and the sword, not of a mean man, shall devour him: but he shall flee from the sword, and his young men shall be discomfited. 9And he shall pass over to his strong hold for fear, and his princes shall be afraid of the ensign, saith the Lord, whose fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem.

9. He shall pass to his stronghold for fear. 327327    {Bogus footnote} He now speaks of Sennacherib himself, who, trembling, shall betake himself in base and shameful flight to his “stronghold” or fortress, Nineveh, as to his nest. (2 Kings 19:36.) The Prophet adds that “his princes,” or military officers, whose duty it is to encourage the rest of the soldiers, will be so timid that they shall not venture to join the ranks or await the battle, but shall “flee away from the standard.”

Saith Jehovah, who hath a fire in Zion. At length he declares that he is God’s herald in making this proclamation, that the Jews may not, as they are accustomed to do, dispute or hesitate as to the accomplishment of it, or afterwards forget so great a blessing, and ascribe it to fortune. If we read, as some do, Whose fire is in Zion, the meaning will be, that God has abundance of fiery power to consume his enemies. But I think that the relative אשרshĕr) is redundant, or that it should be rendered in the nominative case, “Who shall be to him a fire;” for God is justly called “a fire,” in reference to the Assyrians, whom he will consume.

When the Prophet calls him “a fire,” some consider it to refer to sacrifices; but such an interpretation appears to me to be feeble and unnatural. I have no doubt that he says either that “the Lord has a fire” to consume the Assyrian, or that “God himself is a fire,” and that he thus makes an implied comparison of the Assyrian to straw or chaff. He says that this “fire” is kindled and kept alive “in Zion and Jerusalem,” that is, in the midst of his people, in order to intimate that the persecution of the Church of God by wicked men shall not pass unpunished; for they shall one day feel that he is their Judge, and shall know by experience that he assists his people, who thought that they had been left without all assistance.

In a word, against wicked men, who have maintained unceasing hostility against the Church, vengeance is prepared; and the Lord will not only avenge himself, but will also avenge his people. Let us therefore enjoy this consolation; and though it may appear as if we were defenceless and exposed to every danger, yet let us be fully convinced that the Lord will be “a fire” to our adversaries.

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