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the Lord mighty in battle, who appointed them to be the ministers of his wrath and vengeance.———To complete the description, it is added, Even them that reJoice in my highness. Jehovah is the Most High over all the earth, whose sovereign dominion extendeth to all persons, to all times, and to all places. He commands and forbids, he rewards and punishes, he exalts and depresses, according to his pleasure. All power and highness is in God, and derived from him, and theresore ought men to rejoice. Though the people spoken of knew not the true God, who girded them for war, who went before them, and brake in pieces the gates of brass, and the bars of iron, to give them the treasures of darkness; yet they exulted in the undaunted fortitude with which he endowed them, and in the hazardous enterprises to which he appointed them, in the execution of which he enabled them to surmount all opposition.
Such are the outlines of the character of that people, whom God commanded and called to execute his fierce anger, and to inflict his righteous judgments upon Babylon. By this command and call, we must not suppose that he excited, in the minds of the Medes and Persians, the corrupt dispositions of pride, revenge, and lust of power, from whence wars commonly originate, and by which contending nations are generally actuated. In perfect consistency with the infinite purity of his divine nature, God assigned them this service, in the course of his providence: he so over-ruled the counsels and designs of these powerful kingdoms, as to accomplish the wife purposes which he had in view.—-—The greatest empires in the world are only the instruments which the Almighty is pleased to employ, in executing the plans which he hath formed. With perfect ease, and certain success, he could fulfil all his designs without their aid. He needeth not their help, nor doth his work depend on their assistance; but he calls them to his service, to she\v that he hath use for
them, them, that he hath command over them, and can render them successful in the molt hazardous enterprises.
4 The noise of a multitude in the mountains, like as of a great peoplq: a tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together: the Lord of hosts mustereth the host of the battle.
This verse represents the prompt obedience which should be given to the divine command, by the nations to whom the call of God was directed. The
prophet immediately hears the tumultuous noise of the several kingdoms to whom the Most High had issued his orders, assembling in vast numbers, with the utmost expedition, to the standard which was to be erected for this purpose. No sooner is the signal given, and the command delivered, than a great confused noise is suddenly heard, of multitudes running together, from different nations, to sight against Babylon. They were chiefly composed of Medes and Persians, with many from among other nations, who united with them in this bold attempt. Their appearance was like that of a great people, convened from all quarters, forming a very numerous and formidable army, prepared to surmount every difficulty that might lie in their way. To this short account of the assembling of the people, the prophet subjoins this noble sentiment:
The Lord of hofts muJiercth the armies of battle. These words beautifully express the majesty and dominion of Jehovah, who presides over the armies of heaven and earth, and employs them to execute his pleasure. The hosts which he mustereth for battle, are innumerable and invincible. The armies of earthly princes are intended to protect their persons, to desend theii kingdoms from their enemies, and to assist their friends and allies. From them they derive their importance, to them they are indebted for their safety, and by them the plans which they have formed are carried into execution. The Lord of hosts is the strength and defence of all the vast armies which he employs in his service. There is no numbering of his hosts. Thousands of thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand of angels, who excel in strength, hearken continually to the voice of his word, and obey his commands. The fun, the moon, and the stars of heaven, and all the creatures upon earth, from man down to the lowest infect; and meanest worm, are the hosts of Jehovah. All these armies he mustereth: they are thoroughly trained and disciplined by him, who knoweth their number and their names, who hath appointed to each the particular station which he holds, who hath exactly marked out the order which they must observe, who hath assigned to them the work that they ought to perform, and given them commission in virtue of which they are to act. He hath absolute power to command, and they are under indispensable obligations to obey, with the utmost alacrity, whatsoever he requires. This consideration, which ought to strike terror into the enemies of this mighty Lord, should revive and comfort the hearts of his people; who are taught to adopt this triumphant challenge, ' If God be for us, who can be against us *.'
5 They come from a far country, from the end of heaven, even the Lord, and the weapons of his indignation, to destroy the whole land.
The people, who were called to be the executioners of divine wrath upon Babylon, were to come srom a very distant land, which is described as situated toward the extremity of heaven. They should take their march from the mountains of Media, Persia,
* Roru. viii. 31.
and and Armenia, which, in scripture-style, lay far from Babylon, against which their expedition was intended; and from Judea, where our prophet was favoured
with this vision, and delivered this prophecy. Nor
were the people spoken of, to come by themselves alone: the Lord, who used them as weapons of his indignation, was to go with them, that, by the operations and dispositions of his providence, he might render their way prosperous. In executing his righteous judgments upon this strong city, he would employ them to destroy the whole country that surrounded it, and to overturn the great empire of
which it was the metropolis. Cities however
great, princes however powerful, shall not escape the indignation of God incurred by their sins. Babylon was a very great and strong city; and, to human view, it seemed impregnable: but it was a bloody city, full of cruelty, pride, and oppression; and, by its multiplied transgressions, brought unavoidable destruction upon itself, and the whole land. The overthrow of this city ought to convince us of the extreme danger of persisting in sin, which exposes to the greatest calamities, and the absolute necessity of returning to God, that iniquity prove not our ruin.
6 H Howl ye, for the day of the Lord is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty,
These words, which seem to have been addressed to the inhabitants of Babylon, warned them of approaching calamities. Clearly foreseeing the imminent danger to which they stood exposed, the prophet called upon them to howl, in the prospect of the terrible destruction with which they were to be visited, as the just punishment of their crimes. To howl, is to mourn and cry; to make a doleful noise, like the beasts of the field, when they are pinched with hvnger, or suffer extreme misery. In allusion to this well-known
custom custom of animals in distress, the people of this great city, whose overthrow was fast drawing on, are invited to weep and howl, as a proper expression of grief and sorrow, in the view of that dreadful desolation which was at no great distance. The reason
For the day of the Lord is at hand. This expression frequently occurs in the prophetic writings; and denotes, that the particular season was approaching, wherein God had determined to avenge the iniquities of a nation or people, and to punish them for their transgressions. Such a period is significantly called a day in scripture-language, though it comprehend hundreds of natural days, because it is the time allotted for some important work which is then to be performed. It is emphatically styled the day of the Lord, in as much as he would then manifest his righteous vengeance upon his incorrigible enemies. The gloom of wilful ignorance shall be dispelled, the hidden mysteries of iniquity discovered, and the perfections of God displayed. It is therefore described as a day of darkness, a day of visitation, a day of evil, a day of calamity, of fierce anger, of ruin and sorrow. Hence the day of final judgment, in which threatened evils shall be assigned to the wicked as their portion, is, by way of eminence, called the day of the
Lord *. The day of the Lord, wherein he would
inflict awful judgment upon the inhabitants of Babylon, is affirmed to have been at hand. Though this prophecy was probably delivered in the reign of Ahaz, about two hundred years before its accomplishment, yet, in the prophetic style, the day spoken of was very near. Notwithstanding that period may appear very considerable to human view, yet it runs on with unobserved rapidity; and, in God's sight, with whom a thousand years are as one day, this distance is so small, that it is said to be at hand.
* 2 Thess. ii. 2.