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66. Judgment and Hope

Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? 2For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. 3He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. 4I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.

5Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at his word; your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name’s sake, said, Let the Lord be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed. 6A voice of noise from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of the Lord that rendereth recompence to his enemies. 7Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child. 8Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children. 9Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the Lord: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb? saith thy God. 10Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her: 11That ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations; that ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory. 12For thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees. 13As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem. 14And when ye see this, your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall flourish like an herb: and the hand of the Lord shall be known toward his servants, and his indignation toward his enemies. 15For, behold, the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. 16For by fire and by his sword will the Lord plead with all flesh: and the slain of the Lord shall be many. 17They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating swine’s flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the Lord. 18For I know their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory. 19And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, that draw the bow, to Tubal, and Javan, to the isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles. 20And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the Lord out of all nations upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the Lord, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord. 21And I will also take of them for priests and for Levites, saith the Lord. 22For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain. 23And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord. 24And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.

5. Hear the word of Jehovah. He directs his discourse to the true worshippers of God, and promises to them what they could scarcely have expected during those terrible calamities; and he expressly addresses them, because at that time there were many who falsely boasted of the name of God. Nay more, leaving the undistinguished multitude, he directs his discourse separately to a small number, as he formerly said,

“Seal the law, bind the testimony among my disciples.”
(Isaiah 8:16.)

Ye who tremble at my word. He points out the true and sincere children of God, by this mark, that they “tremble at the word of the Lord.” This indeed is an uncommon virtue; and therefore he contrasts it with the false profession of those who, by bearing the outward mark of circumcision, wished to be reckoned among the people of God, and made a great profession and show of holiness; that we may know that they alone reverence and fear God who reverence and fear his holy word; that is, who, in consequence of being powerfully impressed by hearing the voice of God, constrain all their senses to obey; for this is a remarkable proof of godliness.

Your brethren said. Because it is customary with hypocritical worshippers of God to make loud boasting of their pompous ritual, the design of the Prophet is, to arm and fortify believers for enduring their attacks, that they may not give way when they are mocked and insulted. As if he had said, “You have to contend not only with foreign nations, but with domestic foes, who hold a place in the Church, and who are bound by the tie of brotherhood on account of the covenant of God which is common to you all. If they mock at your simplicity in the same manner as they haughtily despise God himself, you must boldly and fearlessly resist that temptation.” He therefore calls them “brethren,” although they were enemies of believers and of the word of God, for it is by way of concession that he gives to them that name which they falsely usurped. Hence we infer that this is not a new evil, that enemies, who bear the name of brethren, are nourished in the bosom of the Church. This internal war must be incessantly carried on with hypocrites, who cannot patiently endure that we shall worship God with an honest and upright conscience.

Casting you out for the sake of my name. Literally, “bidding you begone.” As we see the Pope thundering dreadfully against us, as if we had been base and worthless persons; so hypocrites were casting out the small number of believers; for, being superior in number, authority, and wealth, they likewise exercise that tyranny in such a manner that they approve or disapprove of everything according to their own caprice, and cause that believers may be reckoned as of no value, whom they not only overwhelm by their vast numbers, as the chaff does the wheat, but also trample proudly under their feet.

Let Jehovah be glorified. Or, in the future tense, “Jehovah will be glorified.” Others translate it, “Jehovah is severe;” but let us see which is the preferable meaning. They who translate it, “Jehovah is severe,” think that wicked men complain of God’s excessive severity, in not sparing his people and in acting severely toward them; and they think that by this word the people were tempted to despair; for, when wicked men endeavor to turn us aside from God, they take away all hope and confidence of salvation. But I give the preference to either of the other two expositions. That which is most generally approved is the following. Wicked men laughed at the prophecies and promises, because that glory which the Prophets had so frequently mentioned was nowhere to be seen; as if they had said, “Let the Lord display some testimony of his glory, that we may safely rely on it;” and therefore the Prophet wishes to arm believers against such blasphemy, that they may not allow their faith to be overturned by the sneers of wicked men. But this passage might be appropriately and perhaps more correctly interpreted to mean, that wicked men have promised very great things for themselves, as if by their good deeds they had deserved God’s favor, as Amos 5:18 also reproaches them, that, while they fearlessly provoke God, they confidently trust that he will be gracious to them. Since, therefore, relying on their sacrifices, they scorned all threatenings, and boasted that God would assist them, he replies that they shall see the glory of God in a very different manner. 223223     “His verront la gloire de Dieu autrement qu’ils ne pensent.” “They shall see the glory of God in a different manner from what they think.”

But he will be seen to your joy. As if he had said, “God, by his coming, will cause believers to know that they have not hoped in vain; for he will appear for the advantage of believers, and for the destruction of those who maintain that he will appear as the defender of wickedness, of which he will be the severe avenger. The former shall enjoy gladness and consolation, while the latter shall be ashamed and shall blush, for they shall quickly feel that the judgment of God, which they now laugh at, is at hand.”

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