17. So will I send upon you famine and evil beasts, and they shall bereave thee; and pestilence and blood shall pass through thee; and I will bring the sword upon thee. I the Lord have spoken it.
Here God speaks generally concerning certain adversities -- I will send evil upon them, he says, but immediately afterwards he adds the kind of evil, of which he had not yet spoken. Hence, under the name of evil he embraces all adversities, as if he had said that he intended to exact the penalty from the wicked, not in one or two ways only, but by those numberless troubles which surround us, and to which we are subject; so that there would be no bounds to his wrath, unless men should cease to provoke his anger. This is the reason, then, why he now speaks generally concerning evil; but as I have said he adds the kind of evil -- An evil beast shall come upon thee, and so I will bereave thee. Although only one form of evil is expressed, yet it is by no means doubtful that for the sake of example God mentions this, that they might understand that all injuries are in his hand. And these are numberless. If we look upwards, how many deaths hang over us from that direction? If we look at the earth, how many poisons? how many wild and fierce beasts, how many serpents, swords, pitfalls, stumbling-blocks, precipices, falls of houses, throwings of stones and darts? In short, we cannot stir a step without ten deaths meeting us. So God here speaks of wild beasts only for the purpose of showing that they were at hand, and that by them he would execute his judgments. Now, therefore, we understand why Ezekiel first spoke of the genus, and afterwards came to the species.
And at length he adds, I will bereave or deprive them, namely, that he will deprive fathers of their sons, and sons of their fathers; and he will do that, not only by cruel and savage beasts, but by various other ways. Again he repeats -- pestilence and blood shall pass over thee. He had not spoken of blood before, unless under the name of the sword, which he repeats again: but he heaps together, as I have said, various forms of speech, so that those should be at length awakened who had been too slow, and were afterwards turning themselves willingly away from all sense of the wrath of God. Hence he says, pestilence and blood shall pass through thee. Then, I will bring a sword, says he, upon thee. When he spoke of blood, he really intended a sword, but, as I have already said, this did not cause either the Israelites or Jews instantly to tremble at such threats. What, therefore, was in itself sufficiently clear and easy, ought to be impressed in various ways. With this view he adds again, I Jehovah have spoken. For he turns away the Jews and Israelites from looking at himself, and shows them that he was not the author of the threats, but that he faithfully delivers what he had received from God's hand, and what he was commanded to utter against them.
Grant, Almighty God, since we are so dull and heavy, that we may awake in time at thy threats, and submit ourselves to thy power, that we may not experience by our destruction how formidable it is, but profit under thy rod when thou correctest us like a father, and may we so become wise, that through the whole course of our life we may proceed in the continual pursuit and meditation of true repentance; and having put off the vices and filth of the flesh, we may be reformed into true purity, until at length we arrive at the enjoyment of celestial glow, which is laid up for us in Christ Jesus our Lord. -- Amen.
1 Or, "wild beast." -- Calvin.
2 "He used before the plural number." -- Calvin.
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