21. And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,
21. Et fuit sermo Iehovae ad me dicendo,
22. Son of man, what is that proverb that ye have in the land of Israel, saying, The days are prolonged, and every vision faileth?
22. Fill hominis, quodnam proverbium hoc vobis in terra Israel dicendo, prorogati sunt dies,1 et evanuit omnis prophetia?
23. Tell them therefore, Thus saith the Lord God, I will make this proverb to cease, and they shall no more use it as a proverb in Israel; but say unto them, The days are at hand, and the effect of every vision.
23. Propterea dices illis, sic dicit Dominator Iehovah, Quiescere2 faciam proverbium hoc, et non pro-verbiabunt amplius in Israel: quin potius loquere ad eos, Appropinquarunt dies, et sermo omnis visionis.
Here God inveighs against that gross ridicule which prevailed everywhere among the Jews. For when the Prophets had been threatening them so long, this their earnestness was so far from leading them to repentance, that they became more obstinate and callous. Since they persisted in this obstinacy, and boasted in their escape, and through confidence in their freedom from punishment, re-belied more and more against God, the Prophet is ordered to repress this their boasting. It was monstrous indeed for a people who had imbibed from childhood the teaching of the law and the Prophets, thus to break forth against God as if he had spoken falsely by his Prophets. For this was their boasting: Oh! the days are prolonged: therefore every vision has passed away and failed. From this delay they argued that they had no cause for fear, since whatever Jeremiah and the rest had predicted had passed away. We perceive then how unbelievers turn the patience of God into material for obduracy and stupidity. God spares them, gives them leisure, and invites them to repentance; but what do they do? They count the days and years, and when they see that God does not immediately, execute the judgment which he had uttered by his servants, they laugh at it, and esteem the Prophet's words as idle fables. Such, then, was the impiety against which the Prophet inveighs, saying, what is this? The question implies detestation, for God here wonders at the sloth, nay fury of the people, because it dared thus to vomit forth its blasphemies with open mouth:' for what remains when God is supposed to be false both in his promises and his threatenings? In this way all religion is abolished. Nor is it surprising that God detests so monstrous a thing, while he asks how it can happen that the Israelites break forth into such madness: what, says he, is the meaning of this your proverb? He seems to include his servant among the others, because he was one of the people: hence he participates in that which did not belong to him personally. Moreover, this passage must be diligently noticed, when the impious conclude that they have no occasion to fear, because their days are protracted.
This is, as I have said, a sign of extreme folly, but it is not surprising if they imagine God to be false to his word and his threats to be in vain, because his hand does not instantly appear, since they treat his teaching without the slightest respect. Since, therefore, unbelievers are never afraid unless terrified by the power of God, and are never in the slightest degree moved, it is not surprising that they think it entirely illusory, when they see him at rest while his words still resound in men's ears. Hence the language of the Apostle should come to mind, that Noah built the ark by faith, because he feared the hidden judgment of God of which he had been admonished, as if the whole deluge was before his eyes, in which he saw the whole world immersed. (Hebrews 11:7.) Although, therefore, God conceals his hand for the time, let us learn so to fear the whole of his instructions that delay may not lead us into such sloth as this.
Now he adds, Thou shalt tell them, therefore, thus saith the Lord Jehovah: I will make this proverb cease from the land of Israel. Here God shows that his anger was more and more inflamed by their contempt. And the impious, by pretending that he is not true to his word, produce the effect of hastening the accomplishment of those judgments which otherwise God was prepared to suspend. Lastly, the impious stimulate God to exercise his vengeance, while they infer that they have escaped through delay, and that the vision was so fleeting and evanescent that they provoke him purposely to a contest. For the confirmation of this sentiment follows directly, that verily the days were approaching. Since time gave the Jews confidence in escape from punishment, God announces that the end was at hand, that they may feel themselves to have been too long blinded while they abused his continued forbearance. The days then approached: also the word of every vision: "the word" is here taken for the "effect." We know that
1 Or, "protracted." -- Calvin.
2 Or, "cease." -- Calvin.
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