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are generally considered to form one whole distinct vision, we may collect from the best interpreters, that the destruction here denounced against God's chosen people under the Law, was fulfilled first in the Babylonish captivity, and next in the siege and thorough demolition of the city by the Romans; and that further it has a reference to judgments yet to come upon God's chosen people under the Gospel, who for their pride, worldliness, and idolatry, fully equal to those of the Jews, under circumstances of greater aggravation, have to undergo, ere the end of the world, disaster and disgrace, proportionably more signal and severe. On the other hand, the good things here promised refer in part to the return from the Babylonish captivity, and in part to the coming of Christ, to the preaching of his Gospel unto all nations beginning at Jerusalem, to God's sanctifying unto Himself the Christian church, and endowing it with inestimable privileges, such as it has been endowed with from the first; and further that they point also to a state of blessedness not yet realized, to a degree of holiness and happiness which has never yet prevailed to any great extent on earth, but which every Christian ought constantly to aim at in himself, and constantly to pray for, and to labour to promote, in behalf of all mankind.
This repeated fulfilment of the same prophecy in a succession of events, each of which is a kind of type of those which follow, adds greatly to the marvel of prophecy fulfilled, and to the proof thereby afforded, that God foreknows all things in his wisdom, and orders all things by his rule. It adds also to our conviction of the certainty of things which are promised as yet for to come. The past is a pledge and an earnest of the future. Much as we have already profited by the preaching of the Gospel, we feel no doubt that the glorious things here said of it have a further and future fulfilment. And that which we enjoy already in part, assures us of that which we shall enjoy hereafter wholly. If the horrors of warfare have been in any wise mitigated by the power of Christianity, so much the more may we be sure, that a period is coming, when they shall not "learn war any more." Ch. 2. 4. If "the branch of the Lord,"
that Saviour whom Zechariah calls "the man whose name is The Branch," Zech. 6. 12, be now "beautiful and glorious," in the eyes of some, by faith, He will be hereafter more largely glorified, more generally loved, honoured, and obeyed, by those whom He died to save. They who profess his faith will no longer disgrace his name. The fountain opened in Him for all uncleanness will be thankfully resorted to by many more of sinful men. And "the spirit of judgment," and "the spirit of burning" having once again been applied to things that offend, the church will be all glorious without and within; a sanctuary of safety unto man, a temple meet for the indwelling of God.
The parable of the vineyard. Woes denounced.
1 Now will I sing to my well- they may be placed alone in the beloved a song of my beloved midst of the earth! touching his vineyand. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill:
2 And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. 3 And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard.
4 What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?
5 And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down:
6 And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.
7 For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.
8 Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that
9 In mine ears said the LORD of hosts, Of a truth many houses shall be desolate, even great and fair, without inhabitant.
10 Yea, ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath, and the seed of an homer shall yield an ephah. 11 Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!
12 And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts but they regard not the work of the LORD, neither consider the operation of his hands.
13 Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.
14 Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it.
15 And the mean man shall be brought down, and the mighty man shall be humbled, and the eyes of the lofty shall be humbled:
16 But the LORD of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and God that is holy shall be sanctified in righteousness.
17 Then shall the lambs feed after their manner, and the waste places of the fat ones shall strangers eat.
The woe of sinning in the midst of privileges.
It would seem to be to God himself that the prophet sings this
song of God's own inspiring, and relating to God's own vineyard. Plain as is the application of this parable to the case of the Jews, it is no less plain and no less profitable to ours. Yes, for more has been done by God for us, more has been done by God in us. We have knowledge more full, privileges more excellent; life and immortality brought to light, Christ crucified for us, the Holy Spirit sent to be our Comforter, and the way of serving and pleasing God finally revealed to us, in the example of God's own Son, and in the words of Christ and of his apostles. How much then must God most reasonably expect of us! And we, alas, how far do we commonly fall short of that which He justly requires !
In the commonwealth of Israel the land was so divided, and its perpetual subdivision so provided for, that no one without violating the revealed Law could "join house to house," and "lay field to field," as here described. Shall we think that Christians have a larger licence to be covetous? Or can we doubt, that if we violate the spirit of this law, we shall be exposed to the visitation of the judgments here denounced? Though the Gospel lays down no rule for the partition either of land or of any other property, it is most opposed to a grasping disposition; and it is most plainly transgressed by every man, who selfishly amasses for his own pleasure, to the detriment of his brethren. With wealth like this there usually comes also luxurious excess; though this is a sin which is by no means confined to the wealthy. To follow strong drink, and to be addicted to revelling and feasting, to waste both time and means in festivity, without regard to God in the use of his good gifts, without consideration of the uses to which He would have us put them, these are habits prevailing in all ranks of society. And they are habits, of which under the Law and under the Gospel the end alike is woe. And in any case if God's people thus transgress, it must be "because they have no knowledge." They consider not that they are God's people. They have not the sense to reflect how high and holy is their calling, how inconsistent is the inheritance of heaven with a carnal and worldly life. Most fearful is the consequence, "Therefore hell hath enlarged herself." Most terrible is the thought, that these words are true, not only of the grave, not only of the region of departed spirits, but also of the place of torment! The justice of the Lord was magnified of old, by the captivity and the slaughter of the ungodly, and by the desolation of their country, in the hands of strangers. The same righteousness must be hereafter glorified on a larger scale, and by a more abiding judgment. And whilst many a gentle spirit, once alien unto God, will be found to have fed and thrived on the green pastures of the Gospel, there will be multitudes both of high and low, who from the eminence of their privileges possessed long, and largely, but in vain, must be thrust down, by the sentence of the Judge, to the depths of endless death.
Further woes denounced, and a fearful invasion.
18 Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope:
19 That say, Let him make speed, and hasten his work, that we may see it: and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it!
20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
21 Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! |
22 Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink :
23 Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!
24 Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.
people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them: and the hills did tremble, and their carcases were torn in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.
26 And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth: and, behold, they shall come with speed swiftly:
27 None shall be weary nor stumble among them; none shall slumber nor sleep; neither shall the girdle of their loins be loosed, nor the latchet of their shoes be broken:
28 Whose arrows are sharp, and all their bows bent, their horses' hoofs shall be counted like flint, and their wheels like a whirlwind:
29 Their roaring shall be like a lion, they shall roar like young lions: yea, they shall roar, and lay hold of the prey, and shall carry it away safe, and none shall deliver it.
30 And in that day they shall roar against them like the roaring of the sea: and if one look unto the land, behold darkness and sorrow, and the light is darkened in the heavens thereof. LECTURE 1103.
25 Therefore is the anger of the LORD kindled against his
The use we ought to make of God's forbearance.
To "draw iniquity with cords of vanity," probably means, to justify ourselves in sin with plausible excuses, and so to be the more hardened in transgression. Thus do sinners wilfully draw after them, and on them, like beasts of burden labouring at their load, the weight of guilt and vengeance. And one of the most audacious of their pleas is this, that God's judgment seems too distant to work upon their fears, and that if they do not serve
God truly, it is because He does not manifest his justice sufficiently. Let such know, that for them is reserved the woe denounced on those, who say, "Let him make speed and hasten his work, that we may see it: and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it."
There is a woe for them also "that call evil good, and good evil;" a common abuse of language with the wicked; who by such means would fain palliate their wickedness, and throw discredit on the righteous. Let such know, that things are not what men choose to call them, but what God has pronounced them to be; and that there is, in spite of all their perverse sayings, a distinction between right and wrong, which, like unto God who has ordained it, is unchangeable and eternal. Further there is a "woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight." Their wisdom is foolishness with God. And when this everlasting woe shall overtake them, oh what folly, what madness, will it seem unto themselves! Once more there is woe denounced on those who are noted at once for their hard drinking and for their judging unjustly; men, who for a bribe acquit the guilty, and condemn the innocent; thus supplying the cost of their intemperance out of the wages of their corruption. These are not the same with the luxurious and careless livers spoken of before. Ver. 11, 12. But the end of both is woe. And it is hard to say which is the worst, that luxury which arises from forgetfulness of God, or that which is paid for by defrauding man.
No wonder that when practices like these prevailed, God counted his people for despisers of his law, and smote them as here stated, and threatened, as He here threatens, to smite them yet more severely. Rather we may marvel, that He forbears so long, when practices the very counterpart of these still affront his divine majesty, in the realms enlightened by his Gospel. When we think of what Christendom long has been, and still is, how largely Christians have been addicted to all the sins here denounced, we may feel surprised, that no nations from far have been summoned by the voice of the Almighty, to overrun, and to overturn, and to destroy, as did they of old, with Babylon and Rome, with the people of Judah and Jerusalem. Oh that whilst God spares, his people may repent! Oh that whilst his dreadful judgments hang over our heads, we may all have grace to consider, that "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long suffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance!" 2 Pet. 3. 9.