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3. The Nations Judged

For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, 2I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land. 3And they have cast lots for my people; and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink. 4Yea, and what have ye to do with me, O Tyre, and Zidon, and all the coasts of Palestine? will ye render me a recompence? and if ye recompense me, swiftly and speedily will I return your recompence upon your own head; 5Because ye have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried into your temples my goodly pleasant things: 6The children also of Judah and the children of Jerusalem have ye sold unto the Grecians, that ye might remove them far from their border. 7Behold, I will raise them out of the place whither ye have sold them, and will return your recompence upon your own head: 8And I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the children of Judah, and they shall sell them to the Sabeans, to a people far off: for the Lord hath spoken it.

9Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up: 10Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong. 11Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O Lord. 12Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about. 13Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great. 14Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. 15The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. 16The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the Lord will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel. 17So shall ye know that I am the Lord your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.

18And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the Lord, and shall water the valley of Shittim. 19Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land. 20But Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation. 21For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed: for the Lord dwelleth in Zion.

The Prophet explains here more clearly his object, or the end for which he had hitherto spoken of God’s judgment; for what we have heard served only to spread terror: but now the Prophet shows that his purpose was to console the faithful, and to give some relief to their troubles and sorrows. This is the reason why he introduces God as roaring from Zion and crying from Jerusalem. Roaring is ascribed to God, inasmuch as he compares himself in another place to a lion, when representing himself as the faithful protector of the salvation of his people: “I will be,” he says, “like the lion, who suffers not the prey to be taken from him, but boldly defends it with all the fierceness he possesses: so also will I do, I will not suffer my people to be taken from me.” In this sense does the Prophet now say, that God will roar from Zion. God had been for a time despised; for the nations had prevailed against his chosen people, and plundered them at their pleasure; and God then exercised not his power. Since God had been for a time still, the Prophet says now, that he will not always conceal himself, but that he will undertake the defense of his people, and be like a lion; for he will rise up in dreadful violence against all his enemies.

And tremble, he says, shall the heaven and the earth. As almost the whole world was opposed to his elect people, the Prophet carefully dwells on this point, that nothing might hinder the faithful from looking for the redemption promised to them: “Though the heaven and the earth,” he says, “raise oppositions God will yet prevail by his wonderful power. Tremble, he says, shall all the elements; what, then, will men do? Though they muster all their forces, and try all means, can they close up the way against the Lord, that he may not deliver his people?” We now understand the Prophet’s design in speaking of the shaking of heaven and earth.

He at last adds, God will be a hope to his people, and strength to the children of Israel. In this part he gives a sufficient proof of what I have stated, — that he denounces extreme vengeance on the nations for the sake of his Church; for the Lord will at length pity his people, though they may seem to have perished before he succors them. However past hope then the people may be in their own estimation and in that of all others, yet God will again raise up the expectation of all the godly, who shall remain, and will inspire them with new courage. He speaks in general of the children of Israel; but what he says belongs only to the remnant, of which the Prophet had lately spoken; for not all, we know, who derive their origin from the fathers according to the flesh, were true Israelites. The Prophet refers here to the true Church; and hence Israel ought to be taken for the genuine and legitimate children of Abraham; as Christ, in the person of Nathanael, calls those true Israelites who imitated the faith of their father Abraham. I shall to-day finish this Prophet; I do not therefore dwell much on every sentence. It now follows —

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