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God’s Warnings Fulfilled


How the Lord in his anger

has humiliated daughter Zion!

He has thrown down from heaven to earth

the splendor of Israel;

he has not remembered his footstool

in the day of his anger.



The Lord has destroyed without mercy

all the dwellings of Jacob;

in his wrath he has broken down

the strongholds of daughter Judah;

he has brought down to the ground in dishonor

the kingdom and its rulers.



He has cut down in fierce anger

all the might of Israel;

he has withdrawn his right hand from them

in the face of the enemy;

he has burned like a flaming fire in Jacob,

consuming all around.



He has bent his bow like an enemy,

with his right hand set like a foe;

he has killed all in whom we took pride

in the tent of daughter Zion;

he has poured out his fury like fire.



The Lord has become like an enemy;

he has destroyed Israel.

He has destroyed all its palaces,

laid in ruins its strongholds,

and multiplied in daughter Judah

mourning and lamentation.



He has broken down his booth like a garden,

he has destroyed his tabernacle;

the L ord has abolished in Zion

festival and sabbath,

and in his fierce indignation has spurned

king and priest.



The Lord has scorned his altar,

disowned his sanctuary;

he has delivered into the hand of the enemy

the walls of her palaces;

a clamor was raised in the house of the L ord

as on a day of festival.



The L ord determined to lay in ruins

the wall of daughter Zion;

he stretched the line;

he did not withhold his hand from destroying;

he caused rampart and wall to lament;

they languish together.



Her gates have sunk into the ground;

he has ruined and broken her bars;

her king and princes are among the nations;

guidance is no more,

and her prophets obtain

no vision from the L ord.



The elders of daughter Zion

sit on the ground in silence;

they have thrown dust on their heads

and put on sackcloth;

the young girls of Jerusalem

have bowed their heads to the ground.



My eyes are spent with weeping;

my stomach churns;

my bile is poured out on the ground

because of the destruction of my people,

because infants and babes faint

in the streets of the city.



They cry to their mothers,

“Where is bread and wine?”

as they faint like the wounded

in the streets of the city,

as their life is poured out

on their mothers’ bosom.



What can I say for you, to what compare you,

O daughter Jerusalem?

To what can I liken you, that I may comfort you,

O virgin daughter Zion?

For vast as the sea is your ruin;

who can heal you?



Your prophets have seen for you

false and deceptive visions;

they have not exposed your iniquity

to restore your fortunes,

but have seen oracles for you

that are false and misleading.



All who pass along the way

clap their hands at you;

they hiss and wag their heads

at daughter Jerusalem;

“Is this the city that was called

the perfection of beauty,

the joy of all the earth?”



All your enemies

open their mouths against you;

they hiss, they gnash their teeth,

they cry: “We have devoured her!

Ah, this is the day we longed for;

at last we have seen it!”



The L ord has done what he purposed,

he has carried out his threat;

as he ordained long ago,

he has demolished without pity;

he has made the enemy rejoice over you,

and exalted the might of your foes.



Cry aloud to the Lord!

O wall of daughter Zion!

Let tears stream down like a torrent

day and night!

Give yourself no rest,

your eyes no respite!



Arise, cry out in the night,

at the beginning of the watches!

Pour out your heart like water

before the presence of the Lord!

Lift your hands to him

for the lives of your children,

who faint for hunger

at the head of every street.



Look, O L ord, and consider!

To whom have you done this?

Should women eat their offspring,

the children they have borne?

Should priest and prophet be killed

in the sanctuary of the Lord?



The young and the old are lying

on the ground in the streets;

my young women and my young men

have fallen by the sword;

in the day of your anger you have killed them,

slaughtering without mercy.



You invited my enemies from all around

as if for a day of festival;

and on the day of the anger of the L ord

no one escaped or survived;

those whom I bore and reared

my enemy has destroyed.


Had the Prophet related only the boastings of enemies, the people would have probably become more hardened in their sorrow. But now, on the other hand, he assumes a different character. After having represented how insolently the enemies conducted themselves, he now says, Jehovah hath done what he had determined; and thus from the taunts of enemies he calls the attention of the people to the judgment of God. For when enemies insult us, we: indeed feel hurt, but afterwards grief in a manner blunts our feelings. Our best remedy then is, not to have our thoughts fixed on the insolence of men, but to know what the Scripture often reminds us, that the wicked are the scourges of God by which he chastises us. This, then, is the subject which the Prophet now handles. He says that God had done, etc.; as though he had said, that however enemies might exceed moderation, yet if the people attended to God there was a just cause why they should humble themselves.

He says, first, that Jehovah had done what he had determined: for the word to think is improperly applied to God, but yet it is often done, as we have before seen. He then says, that he had fulfilled the word which he had formerly commanded; for had the Prophet touched only on the secret counsel of God, the Jews might have been in doubt as to what it was. And certainly, as our minds cannot penetrate into that deep abyss, in vain would he have spoken of the hidden judgments of God. It was therefore necessary to come down to the doctrine, by which God, as far as it is expedient, manifests to us what would otherwise be not only hidden, but also incomprehensible; for were we to inquire into God’s judgments, we should sink into the deep. But when we direct our minds to what God has taught us, we find that he reveals to us whatever is necessary to be known; and though even by his word, we cannot perfectly know his hidden judgments. yet we may know them in part, and as I have said, as far as it is expedient for us. This, then, is the reason why the Prophet, after having spoken of God’s counsels and decrees, adds the word

Let us then hold to this rule, even to seek from the Law and the Prophets, and the Gospel, whatever we desire to know respecting the secret judgments of God; for, were we to turn aside, even in the smallest degree, from what is taught us, the immensity of God’s glory would immediately swallow up all our thoughts; and experience sufficiently teaches us, that nothing is more dangerous and even fatal than to allow ourselves more liberty in this respect than what behooves us. Let us then learn to bridle all curiosity when we speak of God’s secret judgments, and instantly to direct our minds to the word itself, that they may be in a manner enclosed there. Moreover, the Prophet was also able, in this manner, more easily to check whatever the Jews might have been otherwise ready to object: for we know that they were always wont to murmur, and that as soon as the prophets spake, they brought forward many exceptions, by which they attempted to confute their doctrine.

As, then, they were an unteachable people, Jeremiah did not only speak of God’s hidden judgments, of which some doubt might have been alleged; but, in order to cut off every occasion for disputes and contentions, he mentioned the word itself; and thus he held the Jews as it were convicted; for, as it is said by Moses, they could not have objected and said,

“Who shall ascend into heaven? who shall descend into the deep? who shall pass over the sea?” (Deuteronomy 30:12-14;)

for in their mouth was God’s word, that is, God had sufficiently made known his judgments, so that they could not complain of obscurity. We now then perceive another reason why the Prophet joined the word to God’s judgments and decrees or counsel.

But he says that this word had been published from ancient days; and here he touches on the untameable obstinacy of the people; for had they been admonished a few days or a short time before, they might have expostulated with God; and there might have been some specious appearance that God had as it were made too great haste in his rigor. But as prophets had been sent, one after another, and as he had not ceased for many years, nay, for many ages, to exhort them to repentance, and to threaten them also that they might repent, hence their inveterate impiety more fully betrayed itself. This is the reason why the Prophet now mentions the ancient days, in which God had published his word.

He at length adds, he hath subverted and not spared. He does not here charge God with too much rigor, but rather he reproves the Jews, so that from the grievousness of their punishment they might know how intolerable had been their iniquity. He would then have them to judge of their sins by their punishment, for God does not act unjustly towards men. It hence follows, that when we are severely afflicted by his hand, it is a proof that we have been very wicked.

He then concludes that it was God who had exhilarated their enemies, and raised up their horn 168168     Literally it is, —
   And he hath made to rejoice over thee the enemy,
He hath exalted the horn of thine oppressors.

    — Ed
By these words he confirms the doctrine, on which I have already touched, that we ought to turn our eyes to God, when men are insolent to us, and exult over our miseries; for such a reproach might otherwise wholly overwhelm us. But when we consider that we are chastised by God, and that the wicked, however petulantly they may treat us, are yet God’s scourges, then we resolve with calm and resigned minds to bear what would otherwise wear us out by its acerbity. It follows, —

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