The Care of the Lord for His Vineyard.

THE DOWNFALL OF THE WORLDLY POWERS. — V. 1. In that day, at the time when God’s judgments will be carried out upon the world, the Lord with His sore and great and strong sword, His well-tempered, powerful, and irresistible weapon, shall punish leviathan, the piercing serpent, the fleeing dragon, even leviathan, that crooked serpent, whose mighty coils threaten to crush everything they enfold; and He shall slay the dragon that is in the sea, the reference being to the three great world-powers, Assyria, along the Tigris, Babylonia, along the Euphrates, and Egypt, representing all the forces which are hostile to the Lord and His people. V. 2. In that day sing ye unto her, the Church of God, A vineyard of red wine, literally, “A desirable vineyard-sing [antiphonally] to it! V.3. I, the Lord, do keep it, as the almighty Watchman; I will water it every moment, thus combining watchful with loving care; lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day, so that no enemy may attack and harm it. V. 4. Fury is not in Me, the Lord feels nothing but the most sincere love for His Church; who would set the briers and thorns against Me in battle? literally, “Would that were given Me, that I had before Me, thorns and briers in battle!” the reference being to His warfare against the wicked of the world. I would go through them, I would burn them together, with martial impetuosity the Lord would stride in against them and destroy them. V. 5. Or let him take hold of My strength, let him make his peace with God, the only alternative by which the wicked may escape the threatened punishment, that he may make peace with Me; and he shall make peace with Me. To take refuge with God and make peace with Him is the only advisable course for all those who have ever opposed Him. The prophet now adds to this song, as an explanation for the sake of his readers: V. 6. He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root, literally, “In the coming days Jacob shall take root,” the Church of God being established. Israel shall blossom and bud, the believers being active in good works, and fill the face of the world with fruit, Rom. 11, 12. The believers of all times are rich in good works, to the glory of God.

THE GATHERING OF THE CHURCH. — V. 7. Hath He, Jehovah, in His visitation of mercy, smitten him, Israel, His people, as He smote those that smote him? literally, “with the stroke of his smiter,” after the manner of the enemies who vented their spite upon Israel, or is he slain according to the slaughter of them that are slain by him? V. 8. In measure, when it shooteth forth, Thou wilt debate with it, literally, “in a small measure [that of a seah], by sending her away, Thou punishest her,” the reference being to Israel’s exile; He stayeth His rough wind in the day of the east wind, literally, “He breathes with His rough breath on the day of the east wind”; that is, the Lord, at the time of the captivity, sent His breath with great force to purify the country. Not the destruction of Israel, but its salvation, was intended. V. 9. By this, therefore, by the punishment of the exile, shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged, his guilt expiated, purification brought about; and this is all the fruit to take away his sin, the punishment, if properly effective, shall have the following result: when he maketh all the stones of the altar as chalk-stones that are beaten in sunder, the groves and images shall not stand up, really, “so that the places of Ashtoreth and the images of the sun shall not rise again.” Israel is shown the condition under which it will be acceptable to God. By dashing to pieces the stones of their idolatrous altars and destroying both the idols and their pedestals, the .people of the land will give evidence of the fruit of the expiation that has been rendered and of the forgiveness that has been received. All this is stated in emphatic contrast to the fate which overcame the city of wickedness, the representative of hostility against God. V. 10. Yet the defensed city, the center of worldly power, shall be desolate and the habitation forsaken and left like a wilderness, without inhabitants; there shall the calf feed, and there shall he lie down, and consume the branches thereof, the foliage of the bushes covering the ruined city. V. 11. When the boughs thereof are withered, they shall be broken off, the twigs of the dry shrubs falling off; the women come and set them on fire, gathering them for fuel; for it is a people of no understanding, namely, of the ways of God, that is why this desolation comes upon them. Therefore He that made them will not have mercy on them, and He that formed them will show them no favor. All who oppose Him are His enemies and are treated accordingly. V. 12. And it shall come to pass in that day that the Lord shall beat off, as the harvester does the sheaves with a flail, from the channel of the river unto the stream of Egypt, from the Euphrates to the brook on the boundary of Egypt now known as the Wadi el-Arish, and ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel, as the result of such harvesting, the picture being taken from the land of Canaan and the deliverance of the children of Israel. V. 13. And it shall come to pass in that day that the great trumpet shall be blown, the signal of the final Judgment, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, here representing all the hostile forces of the world, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, just as the Lord says, Matt. 8, 11, and shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem. Israel’s return from exile is a type of the restoration of all the redeemed and their inheritance of the heavenly borne.