How is the gold become dim! how is the most fine gold changed! the stones of the sanctuary are poured out in the top of every street.
The fallen and sorrowful state of Zion is made the subject of lamentation through the greater part of this Chapter. Towards the close the punishment of Edom is threatened.
How is the gold become dim! how is the most fine gold changed! the stones of the sanctuary are poured out in the top of every street. The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter! Even the sea monsters draw out the breast, they give suck to their young ones: the daughter of my people is become cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness. The tongue of the sucking child cleaveth to the roof of his mouth for thirst: the young children ask bread, and no man breaketh it unto them. They that did feed delicately are desolate in the streets: they that were brought up in scarlet embrace dunghills. For the punishment of the iniquity of the daughter of my people is greater than the punishment of the sin of Sodom, that was overthrown as in a moment, and no hands stayed on her. Her Nazarites were purer than snow, they were whiter than milk, they were more ruddy in body than rubies, their polishing was of sapphire: Their visage is blacker than a coal; they are not known in the streets: their skin cleaveth to their bones; it is withered, it is become like a stick. They that be slain with the sword are better than they that be slain with hunger: for these pine away, stricken through for want of the fruits of the field. The hands of the pitiful women have sodden their own children: they were their meat in the destruction of the daughter of my people.
Never was the desolation of a kingdom mourned over with more awakened and heart-felt sorrow, than what is here done of Zion. The Prophet seems to have his whole soul going out in the most dejected state of lamentation. He takes notice of all the objects of distress, which might be supposed to call up mourning. He contrasts her former state of joy with the present dejection; and then, having raised up all the finer feelings in the view, describes the deplorable situation of misery in all its aggravated circumstances. The images are very strong. They that were fed delicately, were desolate in the streets: they that were brought up in scarlet, embraced dunghills. Yea, even the tender mother was found to have sodden her own children to abate the cravings of hunger! But amidst these strong descriptions of misery, I beg the Reader to take yet more especial notice of one, in the case of the Nazarites, which, from the connection with Him who was the One great Nazarite, and to whom the whole order acted but as types, demands our attention, the more. everything that is said here of the purity of the Nazarite, could only be said so in relation to Jesus. He, and He only, was pure, and holy, and harmless, and undefiled. The Church bare testimony to this, when she said, my beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand, Song of Solomon 5:10. Hence Matthew was commissioned to tell the Church, that the great reason intended from Christ's dwelling in Nazareth was, that he might be called a Nazarene, that is, the great Nazarite. Matthew 2:23. Thus the passage read with an eye to Christ, will be, her Nazarites in Him were purer than snow, but in themselves their visage was blacker than a coal. Recollect what Isaiah saith of Jesus, when bearing the sins of his redeemed his visage was marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men, Isaiah 52:14.
The LORD hath accomplished his fury; he hath poured out his fierce anger, and hath kindled a fire in Zion, and it hath devoured the foundations thereof. The kings of the earth, and all the inhabitants of the world, would not have believed that the adversary and the enemy should have entered into the gates of Jerusalem.
The accomplishment of God's purposes, and the astonishment of the heathen, in God's chastisements of his people are very striking ob servations in this Chapter.
For the sins of her prophets, and the iniquities of her priests, that have shed the blood of the just in the midst of her, They have wandered as blind men in the streets, they have polluted themselves with blood, so that men could not touch their garments. They cried unto them, Depart ye; it is unclean; depart, depart, touch not: when they fled away and wandered, they said among the heathen, They shall no more sojourn there. The anger of the LORD hath divided them; he will no more regard them: they respected not the persons of the priests, they favoured not the elders. As for us, our eyes as yet failed for our vain help: in our watching we have watched for a nation that could not save us. They hunt our steps, that we cannot go in our streets: our end is near, our days are fulfilled; for our end is come. Our persecutors are swifter than the eagles of the heaven: they pursued us upon the mountains, they laid wait for us in the wilderness. The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of the LORD, was taken in their pits, of whom we said, Under his shadow we shall live among the heathen.
Here the Prophet traceth the cause to its source, and by proving the corruption and sin of Israel to be universal, most fully justifies the judgment of the Lord, in making the punishment universal. Reader! is not this altogether gospel, and intended for the introduction of that grace in Jesus, which universal sin and corruption must make so highly necessary? Romans 3:9-26.
Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, that dwellest in the land of Uz; the cup also shall pass through unto thee: thou shalt be drunken, and shalt make thyself naked. The punishment of thine iniquity is accomplished, O daughter of Zion; he will no more carry thee away into captivity: he will visit thine iniquity, O daughter of Edom; he will discover thy sins.
Edom is put here as the representative of all the enemies of the Church. It was an old grudge, which begun in Esau's heart against Jacob: yea, it began long before in the person of Gain against Abel: and the enmity still runs, and ever will run, while the world continues, through the whole race., Galatians 4:29. But the hour of reckoning must come: and an awful one it will be, when all the enemies of God and his Christ will be made to drink of the cup of trembling, and be driven from the presence of God with everlasting destruction. And perhaps, the heaviest of all their condemnation and punishment, will arise from the hatred and opposition they have been found to make in this life to the people of God. Taking away the children's bread, or endeavouring to make that bread unpleasant to them; tempting them to call in question God's love, and the like; it should seem from the general standard of scripture, that this will be more to their everlasting peril and sorrow, than all the other sins which they have committed in this life, against the light of nature and of revelation. In confirmation of this, I refer to the prophecy of Obadiah.
READER! let us, in beholding the sad consequences of sin, in the case of the Church of old; seriously consider, to what the same cause might justly reduce the Church in any, and in every age now; if the Lord were to enter into strict judgment with his people. Was there ever a period more alarmingly distressing on this account than now? And as the Lord hath not promised exemption from the rod in case of sin: though in Christ he bath assured the Church of an exemption from everlasting ruin on that account, have we not just reason for fear? And should the Lord arise to visit our national of fences with a rod, who but would tremble?
Precious Jesus! though we are gone away as a people, yea, far away in rebellions: though for profaneness and impiety, sabbath breaking and transgression, the land mourneth: yet, Lord, turn to us, and turn our hearts to thee, that we may fear thy name. Oh! come to us, and bless us with awakening, converting, renewing, confirming grace. Be as the dew unto Israel, that we may revive as the corn, and grow as the vine: and that our scent in thee and from thee, may be as the wine of Lebanon. For then, and then only, when thou comest to bless, shall we go forth to meet thee, and have our souls renewed in the light of thy countenance.