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A Practical Commentary On Holy Scripture by Frederick Justus Knecht D.D.

[4 Kings 14–18. Joel. Micheas]

GOD also sent to the inhabitants of the kingdom of Juda a great number of prophets, whose powerful voice was heard throughout the land calling them to repentance, by proclaiming and foretelling the judgments of God. Many times did their words produce the desired effect, and bring the people to repentance, and for a while they served God with fidelity and sincerity.

Unhappily these returns to virtue and religion were of short duration. Then it was that the prophets, with sorrowful hearts, began to announce to the rebellious people the gradual downfall of their country, and the only consolation left to the prophets was the thought of the Messias, whose coming they saw more clearly as time went on.

The prophet Joel spoke to the people in these terms: “Hear this, ye old men, and give ear, all ye inhabitants of the land. Blow the trumpet in Sion, sound an alarm in my holy mountain; because the day of the Lord comes; because it is nigh at hand. A day of darkness and of gloom; a day of clouds and whirlwinds; a numerous people and a strong people, as the morning spread upon the mountains. Before the face thereof a devouring fire and behind it a burning flame. Sacrifices and oblations have ceased to be offered in the house of the Lord. Rend your hearts and not your garments, and turn to the Lord your God. Between the porch and the altar, the priests, the Lord’s ministers, shall weep and shall say: “Spare, O Lord, spare Thy people.”

The prophet Micheas is not less terrible in his warning: “Hear, all ye peoples,” he cries out, “and let the earth give ear. I will make Samaria as a heap of stones! I will bring down the stones thereof into the valley, and will lay her foundations bare. Hear this, ye princes of the house of Jacob; you that abhor judgment, and pervert all that is right; you who build up Sion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity. Therefore, on account of you, Sion shall be ploughed as a field, and Jerusalem shall be as a heap of stones; and the mountain of the Temple as the high places of the forests. And [= but] thou, Bethlehem Ephrata, art a little one among the thousands of Juda; out of thee shall He come forth unto me that is to be the Ruler in Israel; and His going forth is from the beginning, from the days of eternity.”

These prophecies have all been literally fulfilled. The prophecy about Bethlehem refers to the Saviour, so that the Jews might know that the Redeemer promised to Adam, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to Juda, and to David would be born in Bethlehem.

Evil passions are at the root of unbelief. It seems almost incredible that, although God had made Himself known to them in such marvellous ways, so many of the kings of Israel and of Juda should have fallen away from Him. Their apostasy shows us the enormous power of those human passions which obscure the reason. The idolatrous kings knew the true God, but they refused to acknowledge Him, because His commandments put a curb on their passions. The worship of false gods, which encouraged sensuality, and was not opposed to despotism or extravagance, was preferable to them, for while practising it they were free to live according to their lusts. Therefore, they turned their hearts from God and set up a senseless idolatry which permitted them to do exactly as they wished.

APPLICATION. Bear in mind that the evil passions of the heart are to-day, as they were in the days of the kings of Juda, the principal cause of unbelief in the eternal and true God.








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