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Blow ye - The prophet continues his exhortation to the priests, who were appointed to summon the solemn assemblies.
A day of darkness - A time of exceeding great troubles and calamities. And this passage may well allude to the day of judgment, and the calamities which precede that day. As the morning - As the morning spreads itself over all the hemisphere and first upon the high mountains, so shall the approaching calamities overspread this people. A great people - This seems more directly to intend the Babylonians.
A fire - The Chaldeans, as a fire shall utterly consume all things. Behind them - What is left behind is as burnt with a flame. As Eden - Fruitful and pleasant.
Blackness - Such as is the colour of dead men, or the dark paleness of men frightened into swoons.
Their ranks - This skill in ordering and the steadiness in keeping under, exactly like trained soldiers, foretells the terror and strength of both the armies signified by these locusts, and of the locusts themselves.
The sword - The sword shall not be a weapon to destroy them; literally verified in the locusts, and verified in the strange preservations in the most desperate adventures made by the Assyrians or Babylonians.
Runs to and fro - This seems not proper to these insects, but it well suits with soldiers, that conquer a city and search all places for plunder. Run upon the wall - To clear the wall of all the besieged. The houses - Either forsaken by the inhabitants, or defended by such as are in them. Like a thief - Suddenly, unexpectedly, to spoil if not to kill.
The earth - A divine hyperbole. But this also may have a reference to the great day.
Utter his voice - Summon them in and encourage them as a general doth his soldiers. His army - Of locusts and insects, and of Chaldeans signified by these.
And repenteth him - He turneth from executing the fierceness of his wrath.
He will return - God doth not move from one place to another; but when he withholds his blessings, he is said to withdraw himself. And so when he gives out his blessing, he is said to return. And leave a blessing behind him - Cause the locusts to depart before they have eaten up all that is in the land.
The children - Though they understand little what is done, yet their cities ascend, and God with pity looks on their tears. These that suck - Their cries and tears may perhaps move the congregation to more earnest supplication to God for mercy. So the Ninevites, Jonah 3:7,8. The bridegroom - Let the new married man leave the mirth of the nuptials and afflict himself with the rest.
The porch - That stately porch built by Solomon, 1 Kings 6:3. The altar - The altar of burnt-offering, which stood at some distance from this porch, and here are the priests commanded to stand, fasting and praying, whence they might be heard and seen by the people in the next court, in which the people were wont to pray. To reproach - Famine, though by locusts is a reproach to this thine heritage; it will be greater reproach to be slaves to the nations signified by the locusts, therefore in mercy deliver us from both one and the other.
The northern army - That part of the locusts which are toward the north. With his face - The van of this army shall be driven into the dead sea, east of Jerusalem. The hinder part - The rear of this army shall be driven into the west sea. His stink - The stench of these locusts destroying and lying putrified on the face of the earth, or the corpses of the Assyrians slain and unburied.
Their strength - Bring forth as much as they are able to stand under.
The former rain - The autumn rain which is needful to mellow the earth and fit it to receive the corn. The latter rain - Needful to bring forward and ripen the fruits, accounted the latter rain because these husbandmen and vine-dressers reckoned from seed time to spring and harvest. The first month - That is, our March.
The fats - The vessels into which the liquor ran out of the press.
Restore - Make up to you.
Wondrously - In one year giving as much as the locusts wasted in the years foregoing. Ashamed - Neither disappointed of your hopes, nor necessitated to seek relief among the heathen.
Afterward - After the return out of Babylon, after the various troubles and salvations by which these may know that I am the Lord. I will pour - In extraordinary gifts on the first preachers of the gospel, and in various graces to all believers. Upon all flesh - Before these gifts were confined to one particular nation; but now they shall be enlarged to all nations, and all that believe. Shall prophesy - This was in part fulfilled according to the letter in the first days of the gospel; but the promise means farther, by pouring out of the spirit on your sons and your daughters, they shall have as full a knowledge of the mysteries of God's law, as prophets before time had. Shalt dream dreams - This also was literally fulfilled in the apostles days. But it may mean farther, the knowledge of God and his will, shall abound among all ranks, sexes and ages in the Messiah's days, and not only equal, but surpass all that formerly was by prophesy, dreams, or visions.
My spirit - Of adoption and sanctification.
Wonders - They who read what historians report of these times, will see this fulfilled in the very letter. Blood - Possibly eruption of blood, as some fountains have been reported to have run with blood, prefiguring the great effusion of blood by the sword, and wars following. Fire - Either breaking out of the earth, or lightning in the air.
The sun - Having mentioned the prodigies which were to be wrought on earth, he now specifies what shall be done in heaven. The terrible day - The unholy day of the destruction of Jerusalem; typifying the day of judgment.
Whosoever shall call - Who hearing the gospel repents and believes in Christ. Delivered - Either from those outward afflictions, or which is infinitely better from eternal miseries, which will swallow up the unbelieving world; "and it will aggravate the ruin of those who perish, that they might have been saved on such easy terms." Is it then easy for a non-elect to repent and believe? May he not as easily pull the sun out of the firmament? In mount Zion - In the true church typified by Zion. Jerusalem - In mystical Jerusalem, the church and the city of the Messiah. Deliverance - Temporal and eternal. Shall call - To believe in Christ, and by him to wait for eternal life.
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