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Judgment on Idolatrous Israel


The word of the L ord came to me: 2O mortal, set your face toward the mountains of Israel, and prophesy against them, 3and say, You mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord G od! Thus says the Lord G od to the mountains and the hills, to the ravines and the valleys: I, I myself will bring a sword upon you, and I will destroy your high places. 4Your altars shall become desolate, and your incense stands shall be broken; and I will throw down your slain in front of your idols. 5I will lay the corpses of the people of Israel in front of their idols; and I will scatter your bones around your altars. 6Wherever you live, your towns shall be waste and your high places ruined, so that your altars will be waste and ruined, your idols broken and destroyed, your incense stands cut down, and your works wiped out. 7The slain shall fall in your midst; then you shall know that I am the L ord.

8 But I will spare some. Some of you shall escape the sword among the nations and be scattered through the countries. 9Those of you who escape shall remember me among the nations where they are carried captive, how I was crushed by their wanton heart that turned away from me, and their wanton eyes that turned after their idols. Then they will be loathsome in their own sight for the evils that they have committed, for all their abominations. 10And they shall know that I am the L ord; I did not threaten in vain to bring this disaster upon them.

11 Thus says the Lord G od: Clap your hands and stamp your foot, and say, Alas for all the vile abominations of the house of Israel! For they shall fall by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence. 12Those far off shall die of pestilence; those nearby shall fall by the sword; and any who are left and are spared shall die of famine. Thus I will spend my fury upon them. 13And you shall know that I am the L ord, when their slain lie among their idols around their altars, on every high hill, on all the mountain tops, under every green tree, and under every leafy oak, wherever they offered pleasing odor to all their idols. 14I will stretch out my hand against them, and make the land desolate and waste, throughout all their settlements, from the wilderness to Riblah. Then they shall know that I am the L ord.

In other words, the Prophet signifies that God would take vengeance on the superstitions of the ten tribes in all places; whence it is clear, that no corner was free from corruption. For, while he names all habitations, he means that they had defiled every habitable place. Wheresoever they dwelt they had erected their altars and strange worship, as another Prophet reproves them; according to the number of your cities were your Gods. (Jeremiah 2:28; Jeremiah 11:13.) He addresses the Jews there, but the meaning is the same. Hence the Prophet signifies, that it was not a single part only that was polluted with their idolatries, but their filth was spread abroad through the whole land wherever there were any inhabitants. In all your habitations, therefore, the cities shall be deserted When he threatens destruction and desolation to the cities, he means what I have just said, that those places were corrupted by impious superstitions. He adds, and thy high places shall be destroyed or made desolate. Here he explains himself more clearly, that the cities should be reduced to solitude, because their religion was corrupt, and the inhabitants were given up to their own fictions and idolatries. He adds therefore high places to cities, that he may point out the reason of the cities perishing. He adds, that they may be desolate or reduced to a desert: it is again the word חרב, chereb, and your altars may perish. He confirms the same doctrine, namely, that he was so hostile to the cities of Israel because they were all polluted with profane and strange altars. For, as we have said, God had chosen that land to himself, and so all its cities were dedicated to his glory. This, then, might move us to wonder why he threatened them with destruction; for we might readily answer this by saying his counsel was changed. But the Prophet shows, that although the cities themselves were pleasing to God, yet they were hated by him through the corruptions by which they were polluted. Hence he joins high places to altars. Hence a probable conjecture is elicited, that the Israelites did not sacrifice wherever they had erected high places. They had then their own high places when they worshipped false gods, and also their own altars. And since the worship of God was vitiated in both ways, the Prophet, as I have said, here joins them both.

At length he adds, and your idols shall be broken up and cease, or be abolished. Again he uses that reproachful word which I have said is taken from the stench of dung. (Luke 16:15.) But it signifies that which is highly esteemed among men is abominated by God, especially when it is worshipped. And your idols, says he, shall be cut off. I have said that this word is derived from heat. It means, that the idols were the cause of their madness, since the Israelites were so corrupted with impure love that they deserted God and looked only at the idols: but he compares the zeal with which idolaters are maddened to impure and brutal lust. At length he adds, your works shall be destroyed. Here he uses a general name, and significantly points out the difference between the pure worship of God and all corruptions. There is no need of a long discussion if we desire to know how God is to be worshipped. For he rejects and excludes our works. If, therefore, we do not obtrude our works, but only follow what God demands, our worship will be pure, but if we add anything of our own, it is an abomination. We see, therefore, that useful instruction can be collected from one word, namely, that all worship is perverse and disapproved by God when men bring anything forward of themselves. For by works he does not here understand idols made of either wood, or stone, or brass, or gold, or silver, but it comprehends likewise whatever men have fashioned, and whatever can be ascribed to them, because they have not taken them from the mouth of God and the commands of his law.

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