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These prophets use figurative language in reference to Jehovah, which is derogatory and degrading, and which clearly proves how human a Deity they figured to themselves. See, for instance, Nahum iii. 4-6.
Character and Attributes of God. Jehovah is holy and just. He cannot endure the sight of wickedness.
“ Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devour
eth the man that is more righteous than he ?”—Habak. i. 13. He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and unwilling to punish his people. He threatens them in order to frighten them into obedience, and as soon as they turn again to his worship, Jehovah repents him of the evil he meditated to do unto them.
“ Turn unto Jehovah your God : for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil." - Joel ii. 13. Jehovah is jealous; he is likewise furious and revengeful towards his enemies, that is, the enemies of his people. The prophecies of Obadiah consist of denunciations of the divine vengeance upon the Idumeans, for their offences against the Jews, and the Book of Nahum is almost wholly occupied with God's threatened vengeance upon the Assyrians. The subject of the Book of Habakkuk is God's punishment of the Jews by the Chaldeans, and the subsequent annihilation of the Chaldeans.
“Shall I not in that day, saith Jehovah, even destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of the mount of Esau? And thy mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, to the end that every one of the mount of Esau may be cut off by slaughter.
“ And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau ; for Jehovah hath spoken it.”—
Obadiah, verses 8, 9, 18. “ God is jealous, and Jehovah revengeth ; Jehovah revengeth and is furious; Jehovah will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies."--Nahum i. 2.
“ Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvellously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you. For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwelling-places that are not theirs."
“ Art not thou from everlasting, O Jehovah my God, mine Holy One? We shall not die. O Jehovah, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and O mighty God, thou hast established
them for correction.”– Habak. i. 5, 6, 12. But as soon as the Chaldeans have corrected God's people, God's judgment and indignation fall upon the Chaldeans for what they have done. See the whole of chap. ii.
“ Shall they not rise up suddenly that shall bite thee, and awake that shall vex thee, and thou shalt be for booties unto them? Because thou hast spoiled many nations, all the remnant of the people shall spoil thee; because of men's blood, and for the violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein.”—Habak. ii. 7, 8.
“ Thou (Jehovah) didst march through the land in indignation, thou didst thresh the heathen in anger."--Habak. iii. 12.
“I have heard the reproach of Moab, and the revilings of the children of Ammon, whereby they have reproached my people, and magnified themselves against their border. Therefore as I live, saith Jehovah of hosts, the God of Israel, Surely Moab shall be as Sodom, and the children of Ammon as Gomorrah, even the breeding of nettles, and saltpits, and a perpetual desolation : the residue of my people shall spoil them, and the remnant of my people shall possess them. This shall, they have for their pride, because they have reproached and magnified themselves against the people of Jehovah of hosts.”—Zephan. ii. 8-10.
Government and Providence of God. In these Books the government and providence of Jehovah are most conspicuously displayed in the promised blessings to his chosen people; in the punishments inflicted on them on account of their sins; and in the fearful vengeance with which he threatens to pursue those heathen nations, which have been the enemies of the Jews, especially those by whom they have been subjugated. Each of these prophets close their writings with predictions of the future prosperity and greatness of the Jewish kingdom. A comparison of the concluding chapters of each Book will show how confidently the prophets of Jehovah expected that the Babylonian captivity should be succeeded by a season of great prosperity, and that the Jewish kingdom should be larger than at any previous period of its history, and that Jehovah should thus manifest his glory to the heathen.
Scarcity and famine are the punishments of Jehovah. Zephaniah and Habakkuk regard the attack of the Chaldeans and the subsequent exile of the Jews, as punishments from Jehovah on account of the sins of his people, but especially for their idolatry.
Calamities are to be averted and sins atoned by repentance and fasting, weeping and mourning. In the Book of Joel the people are called upon to sanctify a fast, and to turn unto Jehovah, and to cry unto him, that he may no longer visit them with locusts and dearth.
“ Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of Jehovah your God, and cry unto Jehovah.”—Joel i. 14.
“ Therefore also now, saith Jehovah, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning : and rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto Jehovah your God.”—Joel ii. 12, 13.
The Book of the Prophet Jeremiah.
Representations of God. Jehovah is the only God; he is the Creator of heaven and earth; he hath fixed the course of the sun, and of the stars, according to wise and immutable laws; he is also the ruler and sustainer of everything which exists.
“ Jehovah is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation.”
“ He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion. When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens, and he causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures.".
Jerem. chap. X. 10, 12, 13.
“ I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by my great power and by my outstretched arm, and have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto me.”
Chap. xxvii. 5. “ Fear ye not me? saith Jehovah : will ye not tremble at my presence, which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it: and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it?"-Chap. v. 22.
“Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain ? or can the heavens give showers? art not thou he, O Jehovah our God ? therefore we will wait upon thee: for thou hast made all these things.”-Chap. xiv, 22. The gods of the heathen, to whose worship the Jews were so addicted, are vain : they have neither life nor breath; they are senseless idols, carved by the hand of the sculptor. Jeremiah speaks of the continual idolatry of the Jews, as a shame and a reproach to them. They not only build numerous altars to these vain gods, and sacrifice to them the first fruits of their flocks and their herds, but they even slaughter their sons and their daughters, making them pass through the fire, to Moloch.
“ Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods ?”—Chap. xvi. 20.
“ Thus saith Jehovah, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain ?
Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.”—Chap. č. 5 and 11.
“ For the children of Judah have done evil in my sight, saith
Attributes of God.
This only God Jehovah is omnipotent and omniscientholy and just. He penetrates into the secret recesses of the heart, and judges righteously.
“ Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O Jehovah;
thou art great, and thy name is great in might. Who would not
Ah, Jehovah God! behold, thou hast made the heaven and
But thou, O Jehovah, knowest me: thou hast seen me, and tried mine heart towards thee."-Chap. xii. 3.
Am I a God at hand, saith Jehovah, and not a God afar off? can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him ? saith Jehovah. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith Jehovah."— Chap. xxiii. 23, 24. But Jehovah is also a God who is transported with passion, and who thirsts for vengeance. He fights against his own people in his fury.
Behold, a whirlwind of Jehovah is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind : it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked. The anger of Jehovah shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly.”
Chap. xxiii. 19, 20. “ And I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and with a strong arm, even in anger, and in fury, and in great wrath.”—Chap. xxi. 5.
See also Chap. iv, 26; vi. 15.
Government and Providence of God. The Jewish people are governed by Jehovah; the destiny of all the kingdoms of the earth is likewise under his control. He is styled “King of nations,"* but his power is most frequently exerted upon the heathen to pluck them up, to pull them down, and to destroy them. According to all these prophets, it is the object of Jehovah to crush the heathen and to exalt his own peculiar people. The only means by which other nations can become prosperous and
* Jerem. x. 7.