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15. Lo, the nations are a drop of the bucket,
The distant coasts, or countries beyond the seas, colonized from the old countries, ever designate the European nations; among whom arise, as we have learned from former oracles, the last adversaries to God and his people.
16. And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn,
17. All the nations are as nothing before him, As an expiring breath, as an empty void, are they accounted.
Next follows, in the eighteenth and five following verses, an exposure of the folly and unreasonableness of idolatry. For whom the admonition in this connexion is intended, it is not difficult to see. Not for Israel, for the crime of that nation in the last days is not idolatry. But it is too well known, that the other branch of the visible church, the converted Gentiles, have long since defiled themselves with this abomination, and are at this hour “worshipping idols of gold and silver, and wood and stone, that neither hear nor see, nor walk, nor smell.”. It is for these corruptions of his holy religion, that the great leaders and counsellors of the civilized world are to be destroyed at the appearance of the Just One: and this is the foe that conducts the last siege of Jerusalem. The twenty-sixth verses to the end of the chapter are spoken in the view of encouraging the waiting people of God: they are directed to view the starry heavens, and mark, the wonderful regularity of these celestial bodies, the exactness and certainty in which they perform their appointed evolutions. To the same wisdom and power are
the saints of God to look for their safety, and for the accomplishment of all the promises. In trying times, the church is too apt to lose sight of the almighty power of her Redeemer; and we learn from other prophecies, that this will be a particular temptation of the last days. Jacob and Israel are particularly mentioned in the twenty-seventh verse; and besides that these titles figuratively belong to all believers, we have already learned that the natural descendants of the patriarchs will again become conspicuous in the dispensation of the last times. To this people, in an especial manner, but generally to all the people of God in every age who wait for Him, are the concluding verses of the chapter applicable : —
30. Even the young men shall faint and grow weary, And the chosen youths shall stumble and fall;
31. But those who wait for Jehovah shall renew their strength, They shall soar on the wing like eagles;
They shall run and not be weary,
On the Forty-first Chapter.
THE forty-first chapter is but a continuation of the same wonderful prophecy. “ The distant coasts” are addressed, that is, as we have before observed, the nations of Europe, chiefly known to the ancient inhabitants of Asia by their coasts and harbours, which they visited by sea, and where they had first planted the colonies that gave inhabitants to these countries." These nations appear, from the subsequent language of the prophecy, to be addressed as idolaters, and are ironically invited to make a last effort, in proud opposition to God, for the defence of their false worship. God is working a wonderful deliverance for his people; but they are strangely ignorant of it: they can neither prophesy nor interpret prophecy; and these things the wicked are doomed never to understand; so that “the day of the Lord overtakes them as a thief in the night,” and “the kings of the earth and all their armies” are surprised at last, engaged in a conflict against the Almighty himself: —
1. YE distant coasts, be new braced before me,”
2. Who hath raised up the Just ONE from the East,
Hath given up nations before him,
' These countries were also in this place, and the parallelism
themselves to colonize, in future
is a great argument that they are
Hath rendered his sword as “a column' of dust,
3. He pursued them, he went on prosperously, He touched not the road with his feet.
The reader will know that this has by some been interpreted of Abraham, and by others of Cyrus: but neither of these persons can, I conceive, answer to the description: the achievements of Abraham, and the personal character of Cyrus, are totally unlike the representation in the prophecy. Instructed therefore by the connexion, and having been already informed, that the Redeemer, before his more public manifestation to “all flesh,” proceeds from the east along the desert of Arabia, leading on those who are to share in the triumphs of his kingdom, we naturally apply it to him. Jerome and Cyril among the ancients, have also applied the description immediately to the Saviour: Vitringa opposes, indeed, this interpretation, but with arguments drawn from the actual events of the first advent, which arguments, of course, apply not here, as the last great day is in our view. And this, though the apostate nations know it not, had been the continual theme of prophecy.
4. Who hath made, who hath done ‘these things, Naming the times from the beginning?
I Jehovah, “who am” at the beginning,
The European nations—for after so many oracles we may surely speak out—the European nations know not
* Vitringa, Rosenmuller, and describe rapid, unimpeded proBp. Stock. It is a metaphor to gress.
these things, but encourage themselves in opposition to the people and cause of God, and support their idolatrous superstitions to the last.
5. The distant coasts saw and were afraid,
6. Each man assisteth his neighbour, And said to his brother, “be strong:"
7. And the artificer encouraged the refiner, He that smootheth with the hammer, him that striketh the anvil. He said of the joining, “it is good," ' And they fasten it with nails that it may not stir.
This metaphorical description of the promoters of idolatry is likely to be almost literally fulfilled in the approaching conflict, should the revived papacy again bear any considerable sway in Europe; though it is not unusual in the prophetic language, to employ the known corruptions of the times to symbolize future departures from the faith. Contrasted with idolatrous Europe, we find again, as we have repeatedly found contrasted before, Jacob and the seed of Abraham.
8. But thou, Israel, my servant, Thou, Jacob, whom I have chosen, O seed of Abraham, my beloved. 9. “Thou whom I have led by the hand from the end of the earth, And whom I have called from its extremities; Thou to whom I have said, thou art my servant, I chose thee, and I have not rejected thee.